Dulce de leche is the Nutella of Latin America. I may sound like a broken record, but I don’t get tired of saying this. Dulce de leche is made from sweetened milk and becomes caramel. Just as here in Germany Nutella is spread on bread, you may just eat it by the spoonful or make a lot of baked goods with it, dulce de leche is used the same in Latin America. Yes, I do have fond memories of smearing dulce de leche onto bread. Jam could only be cut (and is called dulce de membrillo), so I spread dulce de leche on my bread and topped it off with some cheese. Yes, I know this sounds crezy, but I loved it. Yes, of course there is already a recipe on my blog for dulce de leche, check out how to make dulce de leche in this blog article. Essentially, we are going to boil sweetened condensed milk for long enough in unopened cans until they become caramel. This usually takes about 3 1/2 hours, so today I am going to introduce a quicker version, making it in a frying pan. This will take about 30-40 minutes. So if you are restrained timewise, this may be for you, but this dulce de leche is more liquid than the one from the can.
I am going to teach you about empanadas today, these are the famous turnovers from Latin America. Empanadas are, I dare say, THE snack of Latin America. Empanadas do require quite a bit of work, first you have to prepare the dough and then the filling, then you need to fill and seal each empanada before it is baked or fried. As many dishes, empanadas are originally from Spain. However, Spanish empanadas have little resemblance with the empanadas from Latin America. Spanish empanadas are similar to a pie. The empanada from Galicia for example is big and round, like a pie, usually filled with chicken and champignons. Often the pie topping has some braided elements and is decorated in some kind of way. This is very different from the empanadas from Latin America. In this article we will have a look at how empanadas are made in Latin America. Of course I will give a lot of recipes at the end of this article.
Today my blog is turning six years. Who would have thought! When the lemon tarts went online on February 15, 2017, I thought I would only bake other recipes. I thought I would focus on cookies (big cookie monster speaking) and I would not create anything myself. Yes, I did publish my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe soon on, which was around the 20th recipe I had tested. But I soon realized that I started modifying recipes. Either because Americans tend to overdo it with sugar. All American recipes needed a reduction of sugar to accommodate my tastebuds. Or I had to modify the recipe because I had problems, didn’t find the exact same ingredient in Germany, etc.
My first blog post: French lemon tarts
After a long break I am going to do another “how to” tutorial. This is geared towards German people and non-Americans because I am going to talk about pie. What exactly is a pie? The most traditional pie has a dough base (pie crust) and a filling, it may have a second pie crust it is covered with. It was already popular among the American pioneers as it didn’t contain any leavener and could all be done by hand. It usually contains few ingredients such as flour, sugar, butter, egg, and milk and/or fruit or meats and has reached popularity also outside of the U.S. The most traditional pie is probably the apple pie, pumpkin pie or pecan pie is another classic you will find everywhere for Thanksgiving. In Germany pie is not that popular, even though the Europeans brought their different pies and tarts to the U.S. in the first place before it became so popular in the U.S.
It is impossible to find a proper pie form in Germany, I searched high and low, I used a springform (you can see a few pictures below with a springform), I used a tart form, until I finally gave up and simply ordered one online. The one I currently use (I have two) is this one and it serves me well. What I do like about a proper pie form is that it chamfered, meaning that you will get more filling than in a tart form or springform. Below I will introduce you to many pie recipes and will give you tips on how to make sure that you are doing a proper American pie.
Today I am going to share a lot of tips and tricks for your cake to look all festive and perfect for winter. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I really don’t like fondant. I find it very sad that a baker spends so much time working on fondant and in the end about 99% of the people eating the cake will leave the fondant aside since it is so utterly sweet. This is so very sad! In my opinion there are so many other options out there. Instead of fondant, how about decorating with buttercream, cute little gingerbread houses, cookies or something else you may eat afterwards and which tastes better than fondant. If you would like your cake to look all festive for Christmas or for a winter-themed occasion, this is the perfect place for you. The good thing is that I will only talk about the decoration, which cake you are going to use, is entirely up to you. But of course, I will also provide a lot of cake recipes in case you are looking for inspiration.
Are you also such a big fan of picnics? I just love the idea of sitting on a blanket, enjoying a few treats I prepared beforehand and breathing some fresh air in nature. A picnic to me is the best way to relax. Below you will find two recipes perfect for a picnic. One is a berry salad infused with lavender honey, the other is homemade pesto, which I used on a sandwich as a spread, but which may be used as a dip or with some cooked pasta. All of below tips are also from my first-hand experience as a huge picnic lover.
In the last part about how to sucessfully bake a wedding cake at home we will have a look at assembling, transporting and decorationg the cake. Just to recap, these were the previous parts:
Part 2: How to plan a baking schedule
For this part, let’s start with the assembling
Tip #1: Divide your fillings prior to frosting so that each layer is equally thick
My 26cm chocolate cake consisted of three thick cake layers and therefore only two layers of filling. This meant I knew I had to evenly divide the filling between these two layers. I didn’t need to coat the cake with any of it as I was going to use Swiss meringue buttercream instead so this was pretty straight forward. If you plan on using the same frosting for the filling as well as the outside of the cake, as a general rule of thumb you need at least double the amount for the outside tan for one layer. So if I were to use my filling also for the outside, I would have divided it by four.
My 18cm carrot cake had four cake layers and thus I had three layers of filling, which I divided by three before applying. I did use the cream cheese frosting, which I made like the Ermine buttercream, so has a flour base as I wanted to be extra sure that it would be stable. I use it also for the frosting of the carrot cupcakes. The regular cream cheese filling I usually use for the carrot cake is a bt too thin as it only consists of whipped cream mixed with cream cheese. I was too scared that my cake would not be stable enough and was happy to report that it worked out perfectly well, even in the middle of summer in Spain. I even had enough frosting to apply a very thin outer layer on the cake before I generously frosted it with the Swiss meringue buttercream.
Part three of my series on how to bake a wedding cake at home is about the recipes and amounts. Before I give these for each cake separately below, I will first give the full list of ingredients, which will help you when you buy them. I would strongly recommend getting more ingredients than you need, just in case something goes wrong. I hadn’t planned to bake three chocolate cake layers. Somehow they were thinner than expected, so I felt I shouldn’t cut them in half and decided to make three thicker layers instead. I was very happy I had enough ingredients at hand. As you can see on below picture, I ended up with three thicker layers of cake and two layers of filling instead of the planned four cake layers.
In this series I will explain how you can prepare a wedding cake at home. In the first part I already explained how I knew how big the wedding cake was going to be and how I decided on diameter, height, etc. The below blog post is going to explain how I planned the baking part and which utensils are essential when you bake a wedding cake at home. Let’s do a small recap before I dig into the details of planning and scheduling everything:
Top tier: 18cm/ 7 inches diameter, 15-18 pieces, height about 12cm/ 5 inches (not including decoration), recipe: American carrot cake
Bottom tier: 26cm/ 10 inches diameter, 40-45 pieces, height about 13.5cm/ 5 inches (not including decoration), recipe: chocolate caramel cake (Whisky was replaced with coffee)
Outside: Swiss Meringue Buttercream with 1 kilo (!) of butter and 12 egg whites. There was some left, but I think this was a good calculation. Obviously you will need less if you are going for the semi-naked look. But since I wanted this to look like a ruffled bridal dress, I needed a thicker coat. You can’t see the orange/brown color from the carrot cake or the brown color from the bottom tier.
Total: About 55-63 pieces
Tip # 1: Make a trial run (or several)
As I was going to bake this wedding cake in another country, I needed to be extra sure that everything was going according to plan. Since I needed to get used to the oven, I made a trial run and also tested the ingredients (which often have a slightly different texture in another country). I did a mini carrot cake a few days beforehand and was pleased with the oven. It did take longer than mine in Germany, but it was doing its job and that was the main thing. Obviously, I had tested a lot of recipes beforehand and made a lot of trial runs back at home in Germany. For that reason you do find quite a lot of layer cakes on the blog recently. You need to feel comfortable when you make a wedding cake so practicing is key. Practice every part of it, not only trying different flavors, but also how to stack it, how to decorate, etc. It doesn’t matter if the wedding isn’t going to take place for months, feel free to start early so you are really prepared well. You should feel comfortable with all parts and have tried them at some point or another.
Probably most readers are going to say that I am crazy. Because when I made my first wedding cake, I did this in another country (Spain) with different ingredients, and another oven. I guess I simply have to accept that because it is the truth. I guess I am crazy. But I decided to start a new series, which is all about how to make a wedding cake at home with a regular oven. I will start this series with some fundamental questions, which you should have an answer to before you even start thinking about baking that cake. Let’s get going.
#1 How many guests are attending?
#2 When is the wedding cake going to be served?
These two questions are fundamental to how large your cake is going to be. So please be sure to have a proper answer before you calculate anything. Let me try to walk you through this. So let’s assume that you are going to serve the cake right after the ceremony. People will most likely be pretty hungry. In this instance, it is easy to calculate. You should have at least the amount of pieces as you have people attending. So if 50 people attend, you should have 50 pieces of cake. Believe me, many people don’t manage to eat properly before the ceremony and will be happy to have some cake if served early on. Of course it does make a difference if you offer further cakes, desserts, etc. alongside the wedding cake. But as stated, if served right after the ceremony, people will eat more than if served at another time.
Cake of 20cm in diameter, height about 12.5cm, recipe Strawberry Stracciatella Cake