Sunday, 31 July 2011
the strawberry is very often the fruit that causes heart-ache. promising in colour but a dissapointment in flavour. it has become the mainstream berry, often shipped all around the world to charm our senses. but then - nothing but a watery aroma!
and what a crime to see that strawberries are offered in the middle of winter, to accompany that glass of champagne on new years eve. when the strawberry plant itself is still in deep hibernation, gathering all its power for the summer ahead.
but then strawberries are very often linked to sweet memories of childhood. you dwell on thoughts of afternoons picking strawberries on a field or - if you are blessed like me - your familys garden, where you almost bursted with excitement, trying to find the ripest, juciest strawberries. a real strawberry has a firm flesh and is full of juice. you wont find the deep flavour of a blackcurrant or the sweetness of a ripe raspberry. the strawberry is a light but summery aroma.
but its delicacy requires a gentle handling, the fruit is easily damaged and turns into a mushy-thing. - so you better handle it with great care and nestle it on a soft bed of wodden hay.
"you need to make much of a truly excellent strawberry when you find it" nigel slater writes about the scarlet-red ferrari of a fruit. he is right, if you eat domnestic strawberries at the peak of the season you might actually get that wonderful fruity-honey-sweet scent of the fruit.
but: a good strawberry doesnt need much to shine on a cakestand. maybe a dash of vanilla. a pinch of sugar or a splash of the tender flavour of rose- or orange blossom water would enhanche the summery-light-sweet flavour of the fruit.
carefully hulled we put them on a soft bed of mascarpone cream. enjoy your strawberries - while they last!
adapted from LADUREE, Sucré
for a 24cm round tart pan
sweet almond pastry:
120g butter, very cold
70g icing sugar
25g ground almonds
1 pinch of fleur de sel
1 pinch of vanilla powder (or vanilla seeds)
200g cake flour
some chocolate ganache, for sealing the tart
2 gelatin sheets
60ml heavy cream
125g granulated sugar
400g strawberries, halved
rose water, vanilla seeds or orange blossom water, opitional
some raspberry jelly
First make the pastry by sifting the icing sugar. cut butter in small cubes and place in the stand mixer with paddle attachement. work in butter to homogenize, then add following ingredients, one by one, making sure to fully incorporate each into mixture before next addition: icing sugar, almonds, fleur de sel, vanilla, egg and flour. combine until dough comes together. form into a ball and wrap in clingfilm. refridgeate at least for 2 hours or up to one day ahead. it will make it easier to roll out.
butter the tart pan, roll out the dough on a floured surface to 2mm thick and press into the buttered pan. refrigeate for one hour.
preheat oven to 170 °C.
prick tart surface with a fork, so it wont puff up during baking. line tart with parchement paper and fill with baking beans. bake for about 20 minutes until lightly coloured. take out of oven, remove beans and continue baking to colour slightly. remove from shell and allow to cool.
melt ganache over a bain marrie, then glaze the tart bottom with the chocolate to prevent it from soaking in the macarpone cream.
to make the mascarpone cream put gelatin sheets in a bowl with very cold water and let sit for about 10 minutes. drain, squeezing hard to remove all excess liquid. bring cream and sugar to a boil in a pan. remove from heat, add gelatine, mix well and allow to cool completely.
cream the mascarpone in your kitchen aid with the paddle attachment. continue to mix, adding the cooled gleatine mixture little by little. flavour with vanilla, rosewater or orange blossom water if desired. fill in the baked tart shell. put in the fridge for at least 20 minutes until cream is firm.
rinse strawberries and drain on a dish towell. hull and slice half lenghtwise. finish the tart by arranging strawberries in a decorative pattern on top of the cream.
carefully warm strawberry jelly in a pan, put through a fine meshed sieve (to remove fruit bits), then glaze the tart with the jelly.
keep cool until serving.
Friday, 22 July 2011
hello weekend! due to the total absence of summer around here, lets drool over some sweet summer berries. they are the gold of summer. jucy, full of flavour and colour.
its what i crave, when summer is finally here, trying to use every opportunity to buy a punnet of strawberries, grab a hand full of blueberries or - and this is heaven - go pick my own raspberries.
summer berries are the aroma of home. for me, everything started with berries.
my wonderful grandmother had this big garden where she allowed us to pick fresh rasberries, look for wild strawberries and go all gaga climbing the cherry tree to harvest the first fresh cherries. the older i get and the longer i cook, i start to realize that this is the place where i learnt how to taste.
she teached me how a real rasberry tasted like. how juicy it got to be, to be the real mccoy. the soft texture that still held its form.
over 30 years later i still picture myself and grandmother picking berries, putting them into my harvesting basket. i was not only the youngest but also the smallest of the family, so she made sure to buy me a special tiny one, she would carefully tie around my little body. it feels like yesterday. i can still taste the aroma of those freshly picked berries in her garden. - sadly, grandma is gone, but the aroma of sweet berries will always remind me of her.
and in that sense i do believe that "home is where a berrytart is..."
You dont really need much more, if you have a generous colander full of freshly picked berries. Maybe a tart shell, a soft creme lègere - a dust of powdered sugar. you know, sometimes heaven is pretty easy.
grandma would agree!
for the sweet shortcrust pastry (from eric lanlard):
makes 250 g
115 g flour
50 g unsalted butter, cut in small cubes
25 g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, mixed
1 tablespoon milk
for the creme lègere:
500 ml full fat milk
5 egg yolks
125 g sugar
45 g flour
1 vanilla pod, seeds sraped out
about 100 - 150 g full fat cream
about 500g of mixed fresh berries
powdered sugar, for serving
make the shortcrust pastry first: sift the flour into a mixing bowl. add butter and rub in with your fingertips until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, make a well in the centre. beat egg yolk with vanilla extract, add to well and form into a soft dough. wrap into clingfilm and let rest for about an hour. then knead dough minimaly, roll out very thinly between two sheets of baking paper (its a little tricky but hang on in there!). prepare a 23 cm round loose-bottomed flan tin, by greasing it with some butter, then line with the pastry. trim excess pastry by rolling a rolling pin across the top. prick the base of the pastry with a fork.
line with greaseproof paper and fill with ceramic beans. blink bake at 200 °C for 10 minutes until pastry is golden. remove beans, and continue baking for another 10 minutes or until the base is dried out. let cool. then mix 1 egg with 1 tablespoon milk and brush tart with mixture to seal it. put aside.
to make the creme lègere mix vanilla seeds & scraped out podswith the milk and put on medium heat. whisk egg yolks and sugar in your kitchen aid until very pale and creamy. then add flour and mix. when milk is just starting to boil, pour half of it onto the egg mixture, mix - put back in the pan, mix well and bring liquid back to the boil, mixing all the time so nothing burns! cook for 1 minute from the point at where the creme first starts to boil. remove from heat and pour into a rectangular dish. cover surface immediately with baking paper and let cool.
before filling the tart, whisk cream, then fold it carefully into 300g of the cooled pastry cream. add more whipped cream if you want to have a lighter texture.
add it to the baked pastry shell, even the surface, then sprinkle generously with the berries. dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Thursday, 14 July 2011
Juli is the month that brings you the first sweet mirabelles, as we call them. that small olive shaped mirabelle plum has such a juicy and sweet flesh, its often used for compotes, jams and jellies. For me, its summer in a fruit.
So i couldnt resist, when my fruitfarmer at the market had the first sweet mirabelles of the season at his stall this week. I had already a recipe in mind from my dear friend, the fabulous chef tanja grandits, who pairs estragon with passionfruit and puts it in a glass with ajowan crumble and a cheesecake thats light and airy. And here is the good news: and we are not even going to use cream cheese!
We aint gonna go that fancy schmancy - we'll just pair that wonderful soft cream cheese with the warm aroma of a vanilla crumle with the juicy mirablles compote that has a refreshing zing.
Spoons out - here comes a summery cheesecake in a glass!
for 8 glasses (each about 220 ml)
for the crumble
30g almonds, ground
75g brown sugar
30g cold butter, in cubes
2 packets of vanilla sugar (or 2 TSP ground vanilla)
for the filling
1 vanilla pod, seeds craped out
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
250g cream, whipped
for the compote
750g mirabelles (small yellow plums or apricots), halved & stone removed
150g brown sugar
2 TBSP fresh ginger, roughly cut
2-3 TBSP runny orange blossom honey
60ml / 1/4 cup water
2 TBSP butter, in cubes
heat oven to 180 °C.
mix all ingredients for the crumble, pulse in the mixer, then spread out on a baking tray (lined with silicone mat or baking paper), bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. then let cool.
for the filling mix curd with vanilla seeds, lemonjuice and -zest. fold in whipped cream carefully. Whip egg whites, adding sugar at the end until stiff and glossy. carfeully fold into the mixture, put in a large piping bag and chill in the fridge.
for the compote put mirabelles in an ovenproof glas dish. pulse sugar with fresh ginger and sprinkle gingersugar over mirabelles. then add water and runny honey (skip water if mirabelles are very juicy). put butter over the fruit and bake in the oven at 220 °C for about 15 minutes.
to arrange, divide crumble between the 8 glasses, add filling and finish with a layer of compote (make sure not to use too much juice). let chill in the fridge a little before serving.
keeps in the fridge for a day.
Thursday, 7 July 2011
Monday was the 4th of july. Friends where ethusiastically posting pictures of BBQs at the beachhouse, lobsterrolls at the Brooklyn Fleamarket, everybody was having cold beers and a jolly good time at the beach. Its crazy how time flies - i thought. Only a year ago i was the one baking pizza and steaks on a grill in the US, sipping a southside at the houseboat, ducks passing by, sun slowly setting down at the horizon. True Bliss!
Damn, i miss New York!
So this weeks cake had to be an american cake. Not that i searched all my american recipes for it, but while missing that NY-vibe that inspires me so often in life, i simply wondered what i would have brought to that fabulous cake buffett at the beachhouse. It would have been this red, blue, white - kind of star spangled banner cake.
Or simply the *I miss New York Berrycake* as i like to call it.
Dont be fooled by the chocolate genoise sponge - this is actually a quite light and airy cake. Of course one can vary with the amout of cream (i like to believe, the more the merrier!) - but all in all this is just berry galore on a cake.
New York i miss you - hope you are well!
50g butter, melted & cooled (plus some extra for greasing the pan)
pinch of baking powder
50g cocoa powder
500ml full fat cream
1 vanillapod, seeds scraped out
a little or a lot of vanilla extract
250g fresh raspberries
grease and then line two 22cm round baking tins with removable bottoms.
heat oven to 180 °c.
put eggs and sugar and whisk it in your kitchen aid on full whack for about 8 minutes until very light and airy. if you have the nerve you can do this on a bain marie over simmering water and a hand held mixer. it will take about 10 minutes to foam up and thicken. it does take a lot of patience which i dont have, but the genoise will result in a firmer sponge if you do it like this.
then sift the flour and cocoa powder onto the egg-mixture and gently fold in, making sure you bring in all the flour without deflating the mixture too much, then add the melted butter. Divide between the two prepared tins, smooth the tops and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
For the filling simply whip the cold cream with the vanilla-seeds and -extract.
Using a serrated knive cut the sponges in half horizontally. Fill with the vanilla cream and the berries, finishing with a generous level of cream and berries.
Garnish with some fresh peppermint and keep refridgeated until served.
PS: since i whipped my egg mixture a tad too long (my kitchen aid mixer bowl almost flooded) my sponges turned out extra soft and big. I therefore used 3 layers only, you should end up with 4 layers using this recipe. Feel free to only use 2 layers and freeze the rest of the genoise, it freezes very well for about 2 weeks.
Saturday, 2 July 2011
This is what "A year in cakes" is all about. Of course its also about cakes, sweet or savoury, that will be baked throughout the year. Always inspired by the freshest produce that the garden or farmers market has to offer. Lets do new and old recipes, lets bake cakes we loved as kids and cakes we still dream of as adults. We'll not only have a cake on the table every weekend but in about a years time we'll have a diary of cakes that have accompanied us through the year. Join the movement - let's fill the year with cakes!
I would be delighted to hear your experiences with the cakes you bake - the ones you bake every weekend with me, the ones you bake with whatever you cant resist in your own garden or farmers marked.
It had to be a tart. Not because i dont like cakes with sponges or something, no: a tart tin is all i could find in the big mishmash of my newly organized, i mean unorganized office. So i packed my sweet peaches into a rustic frangipane that sits on top of a wonderfully crusty and crumbly butter puff pastry. The frangipane is not as almondy as usual - i enriched it with some ground hazelnuts with make a wonderful pairing to the sweet juices of peaches.
As much as frangipane somehow reminds me of autum and the traditional pairing with peaches, the peaches make it refreshingly summery and light. Of course the tart is still rich enough to be served as a sweet dinner but then i believe every dinner is an opportunity for cake!
This is a supereasy and quick tart to bake - bake it while your hair gets airdried by the wonderful summerwinds. Easy as pie - erm, tart!
for a 25 cm round or a medium square tart tin
7-8 slightly underripe peaches, stones removed and cut into quarters
125g good quality puff pastry
3 tablespoons of apricot or quinces jam
for the frangipane:
200g butter, soft
200g ground almonds
50g ground hazelnuts
Heat the oven to 190 °c, grease the tart tin with some melted butter.
Make the franigpane first - soften & beat the butter with the sugar for about 8 minutes on medium to high speed in your kitchen aid until its light and airy. Then add the flour, ground almonds and hazelnuts and mix until all incorporated. Then add the eggs one at the time until all combined. Set aside.
Place your ready made and rolled out puff pastry on a slightly floured surface and roll it out just a tad thiner, then line the prepared tin with the pastry, making sure to gently press the dough into the tin to line bottom and sides properly. Fold the edges over, then roll gently but firmly over the top of the tin with the rolling pin to remove left over pastry.
Spread the frangipane evenly over the tart case, set the peach quarters into the frangipane, making sure to set them evenly - that'll look oh so nice!
Bake for 15 minutes at 190 °c until the frangipane slowly starts to rise, then reduce heat to 150 °c and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes. I like to turn up the heat for another 5 to 10 minutes before the tart comes out of the oven - put it up to 190 or 200°c but watch the tart closely as it might burn! This will give it a nice crispy crust! Then take out of the oven and let cool in the tin for about 20 minutes.
Bevore serving carefully heat up the jam in a small pan and glaze the peaches. sprinkle with pistacios and generously dust with icing sugar.
Oy vey, what a year - we'll have a good one, i promise.
Have a lovely weekend, make it a sweet one!