Mini Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cakes


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I’m convinced you cannot find bad food in Germany, or Bavaria at least. You can walk into the dodgiest looking restaurant and have steak that tastes as though it was grilled by a Michelin starred chef. My one beef (pun intended) with their breakfast though, is that it is COLD! Give me my bacon and eggs and sausages and pancakes and hash browns and yummy all American heart attack!

When I was in Germany, the hotel would sometimes serve mini guglehupf, or bundt cakes for breakfast. They were sooo good that they made up for the lack of hot food. We would also sneak out as much as we could every time we had the chance to do so.

I have been feeling pretty nostalgic lately and have been missing Germany. The mini bundt pan that Pat bought me last year was just begging to be used so I decided to give it a big “welcome” by using it 3 times in a row! I tried a new recipe but tweaked it quite a bit, and am happy that it turned out well.

Mini Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cakes
Adapted from here
Makes 24 mini bundt cakes, recipe can be halved to make 12 bundt cakes/cupcakes
226g butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 2/3 cups floor
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp poppy seeds
2 lemons, zested
½ tsp salt
1 cup milk
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 12 hole mini bundt pan and set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients together with the lemon zest.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the egg, one at a time and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and lemon juice.
Spoon the batter into the bundt tin, until 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes and leave to cool before turning out.


Cinnamon Rolls


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December and January have been by far the best months in a long time. I visited my gorgeous friend Pat in Arizona for 3 weeks, and spent another week with more friends in Indiana. It was an incredible month and my heart is firmly and resolutely stuck in Arizona and Indiana.

The last time I saw Pat was in November 2012, and it was so good to see her family again. We did 3 weeks of solid shopping and I am convinced that I have contributed more to the German and American economy than to the British economy. We shopped right till my last day in Arizona!

In the midst of exhausting all the malls and outlets in our vicinity, we managed to find time to cook and bake. Pat is a superwoman for being able to put fresh, mouth watering, home cooked food on the table everyday. She also taught me how to make chiffon cake and how to cook chili crab. I contributed and made…desert themed gingerbread cheesecake!

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I also made cinnamon rolls, madeleines, macarons and focaccia bread. Pat’s kitchen is just like heaven and I could bake all day.

Words fail to describe how thankful I am to spend the month with such amazing people, for their generosity and for opening their home and hearts to me. I am both humbled and proud to have such wonderful friends who genuinely care.

No Knead Cinnamon Rolls
1 1/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1½ tsp dry yeast
2 2/3 + 1/3 cups plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
100g unsalted butter, melted
½ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon powder
Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. Scald the mixture and turn off heat. Leave to cool for about 30 minutes. When the mixture is lukewarm, sprinkle in dry yeast. let this sit for a minute.
Add in 2 2/3 cups of flour. Stir the mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.
Add 1/3 cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. At this point the dough will be quite sticky. You can cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it, this will give you a firmer dough. Punch down the dough if it starts to overflow out of the pan.
Sprinkle the work surface generously with flour. Form a rough rectangle with the dough, then roll the dough thin, maintaining a rectangular shape.
With a pastry brush, brush the melted butter over the dough. Sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon powder and sultanas over the dough.
Starting at one end, roll the dough in a neat line, keeping the roll tight. Pinch both ends of the roll to seal it. Cut the roll to approximately 1 inch thick and arrange them in a greased baking tray.
Let the rolls rise for 20-30 minutes. Bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes, until it starts to brown.


Gingerbread Cheesecake


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I’m back!!! It’s been SO long since I’ve posted anything, since I’ve made anything, since I’ve even cooked! The year has gone by so quickly and the constant traveling makes me feel like I’ve missed out on so many things at home. I can’t complain though, as I actually like being in Germany, and maybe would have liked Finland a little bit more if it wasn’t so darn cold!

You know you travel too much when you expect your bed to be turned down for you, towels changed, food to magically appear at your table when you have a craving, and worse….when you start to hate public transport! Work travel is over for now, and ironically I do miss being in Germany and Finland! It is nice to finally have the time to hang out with friends though, and I am grateful for that.

We had a little Christmas dinner and everyone had to make something. I love that we had pork 3 ways, pheasants and duck….ahhhh meat! My contribution? Gingerbread cheesecake, which completely balanced out the heaviness of the meal. Yep…it sure did…

The recipe made a deep, whopping 8″ round cake and 9 cheese cupcakes with leftover crumbs to spare. Martha Stewart must have had a lot of people to feed…

Have a very lovely Christmas and a wonderful start into 2013!

Gingerbread Cheesecake
Adapted from here
400g gingerbread cookie crumbs
57g unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup sugar
800g cream cheese, room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
¼ cup molasses or honey
¼ tsp salt
1½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp lemon zest
Preheat oven to 180C.
Combine butter, sugar and cookie crumbs and press into base of cake tin. Bake for 10 minutes until set and let cool.
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in sugar and vanilla. Reducing the speed to low, beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in molasses/honey, salt, spices and lemon zest. Pour filling into cooled crust.
Wrap the cake tin in 2 layers of foil. Place the cheesecake in a shallow roasting pan. Fill the pan with water until it comes up to less than halfway up the sides of the cake tin. Bake until the cheesecake is set but slightly wobbly in the middle. This will take around 60 minutes, up to 75 minutes.
Carefully remove the cake tin from the roasting pan and let cool. Refrigerate uncovered, at least overnight.
Run a hot knife around the edges of the cheesecake to loosen and remove the sides of the pan. Top with left over gingerbread crumbs or gingerbread men.


Earl Grey Madeleines


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I haven’t been able to stop making madeleines ever since I first made them in the summer. They have been so easy to make with minimal fuss and with no need of dressing up. These little babies have also proven to be perfect to make for afternoon tea parties. Most of all, Le French Monsieur Audoin loves it! His approval makes my heart do little dances of joy.

These soft, buttery little cakes have also been my perfect comfort food. I couldn’t have asked for anything better to munch on as I sat and thought about life. Somehow, a warm cup of tea and some madeleines help make things seem more manageable no matter how difficult life’s curve balls are.

I started baking to help me cope with a situation I was struggling with. Ironically, this same situation has come back and baking brings back too many memories now. I may take a short break from baking and blogging for a while, but I know it won’t be long before I feel the itch to bake again. I am grateful for the friends I have made through this blog and for what I have learned through everyone’s blogs. I will be back soon, and whipping up a storm! In the meantime, do try the madeleines; I promise you won’t regret them. I do not apologize if you get addicted to them!

Earl Grey Madeleines
Adapted from here
50g butter
1 egg
2.5 tbsp sugar
3.5 tbsp flour
½ tsp loose leaf earl grey tea
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Grease and flour madeleine moulds.
Make the beurre noisette by warming a heavy-based pan over a moderate heat and add the butter. Swirl the butter every now and then until it has melted, turned a golden colour and gives off a nutty scent. Remove from heat and sprinkle tea leaves over the beurre noisette.
In a metal bowl, whisk the egg with the sugar until the mixture has become light and airy. You should be able to briefly leave a figure of eight with the balloon whisk on the surface of the mixture. Add in the vanilla extract.
Sift the flour into the bowl and gently fold into the egg mixture. Finally, gently stir the beurre noisette through the mixture. Leave to rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 180C. Spoon the batter into the madeleine moulds filling them 3/4 full. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown and springy to the touch.
Leave to cool in the mould for a while until cool enough to handle and then turn out onto a wire rack.
Once cooled, store in an airtight container. Madeleines are best eaten fresh but will keep to up to 2 days.


Kine’s Birthday – Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream


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The past two weeks have just flown by so fast! I had some time off work and it has been so blissful. Last Wednesday was extra special as it was the very beautiful and brilliant Kine’s birthday. We were discussing what kind of cake to make for Kine, and Jason suggested making Kine a fish cake. Makes sense as fish is the national food of Norway, right? right??? I’m sure Kine and everyone was relieved that there was no hint of fishiness in the cake at all. Although this has now got me thinking about what Heston Blumenthal might do if he was given this opportunity…

We had cake with Kine the Sunday before her birthday with the team, and the girls had dinner on Wednesday. It was lovely to celebrate twice with Kine and I’m looking forward to many more celebrations!

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Adapted from here
75g butter, softened
150g sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla sugar, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
150g cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
85ml milk
120g strawberry puree + 1/4 cup coarsely chopped strawberries
Line one standard 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside. Sift cake flour and baking powder into a bowl.
In another bowl, combine the strawberry puree and milk together. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk/puree. Fold in the chopped strawberries.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cups so that each is about two-thirds full. Bake in a preheated oven of 170C, rotating the pans halfway through, until the cupcakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on wire racks.
Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
5 large egg whites
190g sugar
210g butter, softened
100g strawberries, finely chopped
Place sugar and egg whites in a heat proof bowl. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk constantly until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch. The mixture between your fingers should feel completely smooth when rubbed between fingers. Remove bowl from heat. Using an electric mixer, beat on high speed until mixture has formed stiff and glossy peaks. Add the butter, one cube at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don’t worry if the buttercream appears to curdle; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add chopped strawberries and beat until just combined.
Note: Make strawberry puree by hulling the strawberries and roughly chopping them up. Sprinkle a little sugar on the strawberries. Put in a food processor or a blender and pulse until smooth. Strain with a fine sieve and store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week.