Archive for the ‘cake’ Category

My Grandmother’s Clafoutis

April 26, 2009

Uhm. Hi. Yeah… I know. But, let’s not talk about it, mkay?

Instead, let’s talk about SPRING! And Cake! and my Grandmother! This grandmother, to be exact. The one whose understanding of cooking and baking is close to mine, because it’s about making something very good very fast and with little effort. She is a true homecook and has herself spawned a few more homecooks in my mother and uncle and their children in turn aaaand before I scare you away with more genealogy, let’s get back to the mention of cake made at the beginning of the post.


One of the desserts my Grandmother used to make for us regularly, was a Clafoutis. The Clafoutis is a cross between a cake and a baked custard to which you add fresh fruits*. As a child we used to be a bit bummed when she made Clafoutis, because it seemed incredibly boring and plain, but now, come SPRING, I could practically make it all the time. It comes to together in seconds and bakes fast, too. You can eat it warm or cold. There really is nothing not to like about it!

My favourite way to make it is to use rhubarb (see also: SPRING!) and to add a teaspoonful of homemade vanilla extract**. The last time I made this, the five of us destroyed it in seconds: the two little ones were howling for more and J. just quietly ate one piece after another while L. and I tried hard to practice moderation. Our friend who was visiting was quickly given seconds before the whole thing vanished. That’s what it’s like at our house: eat it now or someone else will!


Rhubarb Clafoutis

Prep Time: 5 min cooking time: 35 min

4 stalks of rhubarb (just short of a kilo), peeled and chopped in trunks
3 eggs
6 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp flour
1 Tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 tsp baking powder
200 ml cream
more sugar to sprinkle on the rhubarb

mixing bowl, wire whisk, 1 gratin dish (23 x 23 cm)


Preheat the oven to 190°.
Wash, peel and chop the rhubarb. Sprinkle with enough sugar to cover each stalk and set aside in the baking dish.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder and cream whisking and mixing until well combined. Pour over the rhubarb and bake for 35 min or until set.
Enjoy warm or cold.

* Some fruits worth mentioning are cherries (please pit them, nothing more annoying than pits keeping you from scarfing down enjoying your delicious dessert), tiny yellow plums, apricots, anything really! Some people are partial to apples in a Clafoutis, personally i’m not a big fan but go ahead and try it out for yourself.

** go make this, right now. it’s really easy and the results are spectacular, especially if you use good vanilla, as I did. Come to think of it, I used vanilla sent to me by my grandmother!

A green cupcake for a friend

September 20, 2008

First off, let me acknowledge that I am aware the matcha-craze has been on for quite a while, and that I am a little late to join the game; but for those of you who are not fashion-addict food-people (read: fäsheuhn addicteuh), matcha is powdered green tea traditionally used in the japanese tea-ceremony and now repurposed to make delicious desserts. You can add it to panacotta, cakes, macaroons or–as I did–to cupcakes.

My friend M. is currently waiting for the birth of her little boy and going bake-crazy in Oslo. She told me she had made trays upon trays of cinammon buns, all destined for the freezer. This reminded me of how she once told me that her biggest baking disaster had been a cake for her boyfriend with M&Ms inside. Granted, this sounds like a brilliant plan, because M&M+cake=perfect in my book, but her cake turned out not so, and ended up with a completely unappetizing green tint.

So these cupcakes are for her, and my only regret is that I wish we could eat them together. The color turned out a pleasant shade of pistachio rather than snotgreen, as I had previously feared, and the taste is really delicate and indeed green-tea-flavoured. They felt very sophisticated and chic and fashionable, and made me want to experiment more with this particular taste.


Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes

prep time: 5min, baking time 18-20 min

125 g butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup of flour
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/4 cup of milk
1 1/2 tsp matcha powder*

Preheat the oven to 180°. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one, beating well between each inclusion. Add the milk. Sift over the flour, baking powder and matcha. Beat until homogenized.
Line a muffin tin with papercases or butter each tin individually. Fill each tin to 3/4 with the dough (you should have enough for 12 cupcakes). Bake for 18-20 min or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool before serving with whipped cream and raspberries.

*This is my basic cupcake recipe, it never fails to deliver and you can substitute 1 tsp of vanilla for the greentea powder, or else ad lemon zest etc.

One word of caution: despite the fact that you could bake a greentea-cake and have it look all alien-like and therefore totally suited for a 4 year old’s birthday party, DON’T. I had one cupcake in the afternoon and was fully caffeinated afterwards thank-you-very-much!

Plum Times

September 7, 2008

We went to the Bode museum today, just to see if we could manage with the three kids. It turns out, we can’t really: J. was only marginally interested in the sculptures/paintings, Bas. was in complete agony from being overtired, teething and hungry and Bal. was the only one doing ok, sucking his thumb while looking around. The visit ended abruptly with J. deciding it was a good idea to recline Bas.’ buggy so that he would sleep (sthg which he is not allowed to do, him being only three and all) and completely quetsching the poor childs arm in the process. Everyone started howling on cue — and we fled the scene for home.

After we had put everyone to sleep, we started relaxing, twittering around and generally doing things for our own enjoyment. Meaning, I baked and cooked, while L. computered!
I don’t know if it was to match the weather or the atmosphere in Berlin, but the meal ended up being a nice welcoming of fall: a plum tarte and neck of pork (Schweinekamm / échine de porc) braised in the oven with caramelized prunes. It was totally delicious and along with the nap made everybody feel much better about the weekend. I especially urge you to go make that pork now, because it’s that easy and good!

As an aside, I also tried to replicate the delicious meal L. and I had on our night out, celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary. We went to a big opening, which was great fun, the art on display just as much as the people we met, but the real highlight of the night was the fish with chanterelles in barbecue sauce that we ate later that night at Toca Rouge.
I had already been converted by my father to the idea of serving fish and fresh chanterelles together, but the barbecue sauce was just perfect. When I tried to re-do it (with ginger, hoisin, rice vinegar, soy and a splash of sichara hot sauce), I couldn’t figure out what it was that made theirs so special, but I will try again until I figure it out! In the meantime, please come forth with suggestions or, if you are in Berlin, go check out the place!


Braised Pork Neck with dried Prunes*

Prep Time: 15 min cooking time: 50 min

700 g pork neck, deboned
1 medium sized red onion, roughly chopped
200 g chopped dried prunes (1 packed cup)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup rice vinegar (you can subsitute it with balsamic vinegar)
1 /3 cup of water or a little more
1 tsp each of rosemary and thyme

cast iron pot with a tight fitting lid (can be substituted with tin foil)

Preheat the oven to 190°. Heat the oil in the pot on the stove and add the herbs and chopped red onion. Cook for a minute or until fragrant.
Add the pork and make sure to sear it well on both sides. Put the chopped prunes and stir until evenly coated. Pour over the vinegar, cover with the lid and cook in the oven for about 50 min.
When the meat is done, let it rest covered, for another 10 min to let the the meat stay tender and juicy. Eat with mashed / steamed potatoes or rice.


Plum tarte

prep time: 5min, cooling time: 30 min, baking time 40 min
metal mixing bowl and knife or food processor tarte tin

for the Dough**

2 cups of flour (about 240 g)
1/2 tsp salt
100 g sugar
145 g cold cold butter
3 tbsp icecold water

for the Filling

800 g ripe plums washed, stoned and halved
2 tsp of semolina
2 tsp of brown sugar
more sugar to taste

Keep your ingredients very cold. Cut the butter in cubes and using a knife, cut it into the flour, salt and sugar, or mix it in your foodprocessor until it looks like coarse crumbs. Add the cold water bit by bit until the dough starts to come together. Roll it together in a ball, wrap it in clingfoil and put it in the fridge to rest for 30 min or up to overnight.

When you are ready, butter and flour your tarte tin and roll out your dough to fill it’s size. Sprinkle the sugar and semolina onto the dough and arrange your plum halves in the tin. I like to alternate between one half facing up and one facing down, so as not get the bottom of my tarte too soggy.*** Add a couple of pats of butter, sprinkle with some or lots more sugar and bake for about 40 min.

* I’m sorry, but dried prunes sound terrifyingly unappetizing!

** I have already blogged this tarte dough before and still stand by the fact that it’s the Bestest!

*** You can see in the picture that I ran out of plums halfway, I only had one scant pound, don’t make the same mistake: really pack the tin full with them!