eat in my kitchen

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Category: TO BAKE

15 Recipes for your Easter Brunch Table

Tsoureki Easter Bread

Hunting Easter eggs in the woods was one of my childhood’s spring highlights. The sweet smell of blossoms and sunlight in the air, the trees’ leaves presenting their most fragile green, and – in a lucky year – I could even replace boots and jacket for shirt and jeans while searching for golden wrapped chocolate eggs and bunnies. I always loved the sprouting energy that comes with the change of season, when winter’s shades of grey and brown give way to vibrant colours. Easter is a changing point in the year, there’s the promise of summer in the air.

Is there a better way to celebrate this day than gathering your loved ones around the table and treating them to a luscious brunch? Here’s some inspiration (click the titles for the recipes):

Tsoureki – Greek Easter Bread with Aniseed and Orange Blossom Water

greekeasterbread18

 

Traditional Maltese Figolli

figolli20

 

Eggnog Sponge Cake with Whipped Cream

eggnogeastercake19

 

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

 

Green Shakshuka Crêpes

Green Shakshuka Crêpes

 

Rhubarb Tartlets with Cinnamon Oat Crumble

rhubarbtartletcinnamonoatcrumble16

 

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

Gruyere Onion Focaccia

 

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

 

Crescent Milk Rolls with Poppy Seeds

Poppy Seed Crescent Milk Rolls

 

Bean and Ramp Quiche

Bean and Ramp Quiche

 

Rhubarb Chocolate Cake

Rhubarb Chocolate Cake

 

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

Cheesecake Swiss Roll with Mascarpone and Blackberries

Cheesecake Swiss Roll

 

Roast Rosemary Lamb with Garlic and Tomatoes

Roast Rosemary Lamb

 

 Spinach Ricotta stuffed Conchiglioni on Grilled Cherry Tomatoes

Spinach Ricotta Conchiglioni

 

Spring Timpana – Maltese Pasta Pie with Asparagus, Peas, and Leeks

Spring Timpana

 

There will be two new Easter recipes coming up this Sunday and next Wednesday!

 

Eggnog Easter Cake

Chocolate Baby Cakes with Peanut Butter and Banana

Chocolate Baby Cakes

Bittersweet chocolate and peanut butter is a divine duo that I often come back to. When juicy stone fruits and berries aren’t in season yet and it’s time for my beloved citrus to say goodbye, I gladly experiment with the little nuts and a bar of dark chocolate. It’s one of those treats that, despite its rather filling qualities, still manages to make me grab for another piece. It’s heavy, you know it, but it’s too good to stop.

My little baby cakes are no exception in that respect, they make a perfect dessert after a light dinner that still leaves some space in your tummy (I wouldn’t serve them after a cheese spaetzle feast). But you can also see them as a chocolaty addition to your Sunday teatime table. Keep in mind, these cakes are rich. I’m not a big fan of cocoa powder in baking, I want real chocolate in my cake batter. If you’re a chocolate lover, you know what I’m talking about. There’s a certain depth that you can’t achieve with cocoa powder. I always use the same chocolate for my baking, it has 55% cocoa, it’s well balanced – semisweet, but still smooth, and it literally melts in your mouth. I like to call it a grown up treat, bittersweet and rich.

To give the chocolate-peanut combo a new touch, I mixed the nutty butter with half a pureed ripe banana, and this lifts the whole experience onto another level. I see a great future for this trio in my kitchen! This time I went for a sweet, nutty, and rich filling wrapped in a chocolate cake that is still partly molten. Depending on your preference, you can bake the cakes even shorter to leave them a bit more liquid. I found a thin layer of hot chocolate batter laying on top of the soft peanut-banana center just right.

If you’d like to dive more into chocolate and peanuts, try

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Bittersweet Chocolate Muffins filled with Peanut Butter

Cynthia Barcomi’s Peanut Butter Brownies

Chocolate Baby Cakes

 

Chocolate Baby Cakes

Chocolate Baby Cakes with Peanut Butter and Banana

Serves 6.

butter, soft, 60g / 1/4 cup
granulated sugar 65g / 1/3 cup
vanilla pod, scraped, 1/2
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
organic eggs 4
plain flour 45g / 1/3 cup
bittersweet chocolate (I use 55%), melted and cooled, 280g / 10 ounces
peanut butter, creamy, 80g / 3 ounces
ripe banana 40g / 1 1/2 ounces (about 1/2 banana)

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (fan assisted oven). Butter 6 6-ounce ramekins. Cut out 6 circles of parchment paper, large enough to fit the bottom of the ramekins. Then cut out 6 strips of parchment paper, long and tall enough to fit the sides of the ramekins. Line the ramekins with the pieces of parchment paper.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla seeds, and salt for a few minutes until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well in between. Add the flour and mix for about 1 minute or until well combined; then add the melted chocolate, mixing well until smooth and well combined.

In a food processor or blender, mix the peanut butter and banana until smooth. Divide into 6 portions and roll into balls.

Divide about 2/3 of the chocolate batter between the 6 ramekins. Lay 1 peanut butter-banana ball on top of the chocolate batter in each ramekin, pushing it down a little (see 1st picture). Top with the remaining chocolate batter and even out the surface. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until the tops start to become spongy, they should still be a little soft and partly liquid. You can also bake them shorter, if you prefer the chocolate center to be more liquid. Enjoy warm or cold.

Chocolate Baby Cakes

 

Chocolate Baby Cakes

 

Chocolate Baby Cakes

 

Chocolate Baby Cakes

 

Chocolate Baby Cakes

 

Chocolate Baby Cakes

 

Chocolate Baby Cakes

Laurel Kratochvila’s Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

I don’t even remember how it started. It must have been a few years ago when my man and I welcomed a new tradition: coffee dates. Whenever we find time to take an hour off work, we squeeze in a dark Italian espresso or a creamy cappuccino, happily enjoyed in one of the countless cafés in our area. And on Saturdays – overly excited by the luxury of having plenty of free time – we often stretch it into a lunch-teatime-aperitif date. Just the two of us, chatting about whatever’s on our mind, no plans or duties, just lingering until we decide to move on.

On one of these dates, we went to the new Shakespeare and Sons / Fine Bagels. The book shop and bakery used to be close to where we live, but the two owners, Roman and Laurel, had to transfer their cafe and literature business to a new location. That was the first time I tried Laurel’s absolutely outstanding chocolate rugelach, which blew my mind and made me want (or rather have to) meet the woman behind this treat.

When we met, our chat led to a Meet In Your Kitchen feature (including my beloved rugelach recipe), but most importantly, I found a woman who’s a great inspiration. Laurel loves food, she’s obsessed with baking, she’s gifted with an unbelievable amount of energy, and when you talk to her, you can see her beautiful soul. She’s honest, critical, and crazy enough to overcome her fears and jump into the next adventure. Nosh Berlin is her new baby, a Jewish food week, starting March 17th. It’ll be a week packed with talks, feasts, and Jewish food. I already booked my tickets for two events, Molly Yeh is coming on the 22nd and I didn’t dare to miss The Gefilte Ball on Thursday. You can find the program of all the events below or on the Nosh Berlin website.

When I met Laurel for a coffee a couple weeks ago to hear everything about her exciting events, I nibbled on my obligatory rugelach and she chose a new creation, her current obsession: a marzipan-ribboned challah knot. She looked so happy whenever she took a bite of her yeast bun that I thought, I need this recipe. Laurel is a nice person who loves to share, I didn’t even need to beg her. And here it is, fluffy yeast buns, not too sweet, generously filled with marzipan, and so good, that I ate five of them in a day and a half. Laurel only uses egg yolks, melted butter, and water in this recipe. She uses bread flour, however I replaced it with white spelt flour that comes to use in all of my baking recipes. I had to add a little more flour and I think that a bit more wouldn’t have harmed the texture, but helped the knots to keep their shape a bit better and avoided cracks on the surface. As you can see in the pictures, my knots turned into roundish buns in the oven. I didn’t mind, challah knot or bun, I love Laurel’s latest creation.

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

Nosh Food Festival

– Friday, March 17th – Kiddush: North African Jewish dinner by Yuval Belhans and Mayaan Meir

– Sunday, March 19th – The Nosh Market at Markthalle Neun
Oma and Bella: Movie and a Nosh at Babylon Berlin

– Monday, March 20th – The JCC Krakow presents Jewish Polish Food History. Talk and a tasting

– Tuesday, March 21st – What Jew Wanna Eat? Amy Kritzer, visiting chef from Austin, Texas, presents creative Passover cooking. 

– Wednesday, March 22nd – Molly Yeh and Luisa Weiss: Cookbooks, Blogs, and Jewish Baking

– Thursday, March 23rd – Nosh Berlin and Shtetl Neukölln present The Gefilte Ball. Talk and demo with Jeffrey Yoskowitz of The Gefilte Manifesto followed by a klezmer ball.

– Friday, March 24th: Night of Shabbat Supper Clubs

There will also be a couple talks on various Jewish food topics at the Fraenkelufer Synagogue and a showing of Cafe Nagler with a presentation on pre-war Jewish cafe and restaurant life. Additionally, there are Jewish cookery classes all week at Goldhahn and Sampson in Charlottenburg.

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

If you decide to double the recipe, use only 9 egg yolks, which is Laurel’s original recipe.

Makes 7 challah knots

organic egg yolks 5, plus 1 egg white, beaten, for the glaze
butter, melted and cooled, 40g / 3 tablespoons
water 175ml /3/4 cup
bread flour (or white spelt or unbleached wheat flour),  410-480g (3 cups plus 2 tablespoons – 3 2/3 cups), plus more if the dough is too sticky
granulated sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
fast-acting yeast 1 1/4 teaspoons
fine sea salt 1 teaspoon
marzipan, cut into 7 pieces, 150g / 5 ounces
poppy seeds 1 tablespoon, for the topping

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and butter. Add water and whisk until well combined.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour (410g / 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons), sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the liquid mixture and, using the paddle attachment, mix for about 1 minute until combined. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook and knead for about 10 minutes. I use setting ‘4’ on my KitchenAid. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky, but mind that it should stay soft. If you prepare the dough by hand, keep kneading an extra few minutes. Transfer to a clean, oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place, or preferably in a 35°C / 100°F warm oven (conventional setting), for about 60-70 minutes or until spongy. When you poke the dough, the indentation of your finger shouldn’t spring back.

Punch the dough down and then turn out onto a floured work surface. Give it a quick knead to form it back into a ball and then cut 7 equal pieces. Cover with a tea towel and let rest for about 15 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Once rested, roll the dough into logs (about 25cm / 10″ long) and then gently press flat. Lay a strip of marzipan lengthwise down the middle of the flattened log (using my hands, I first rolled each piece of marzipan into a long log) and then fold the log lengthwise in half, so you have a marzipan-filled log (see first picture). To fold the log into a knot, make an overlapping circle and then wrap the upper end under and then up through the middle (see first picture).

Preheat the oven to 175°C / 350°F (convection setting).

Once all 7 knots are folded, transfer to the lined baking sheet and brush with the beaten egg white. Laurel puts a little simple syrup in the egg glaze to add some extra sweetness, I left mine plain. Let them rise for about 30 minutes or until puffy. Glaze the challah knots with egg whash a second time then sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the challah knots are golden brown and shiny.

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

 

Marzipan-Ribboned Challah Knots

Marbled Red Wine and Chocolate Cake

Marbled Red Wine and Chocolate Cake

Let’s start this beautiful Sunday with some happy news:

The Eat In My Kitchen book is one of Food52’s ’15 Piglet Community Picks 2017′! Thank you so much for your book love and support! And if I may ask you for a little more support, it would be fantastic if you could write a review of my book on Amazon, it can be a quick one, but it would help me a lot. Here are the links:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.de

So, back to my kitchen:

I’ve always had a sweet tooth, but I’m a bit of a piggy at the moment. There isn’t a single day without cake on our table. Be it baked by myself, or a luscious piece of New York Cheesecake or hazelnut mascarpone torte from my favourite confectionary around the corner; or those ultra soft and spongy yeast rolls and buns from a bakery – also just around the corner – that I only discovered a few months ago. I need my sugar no matter what my responsible mind tries to convince me of. Maybe I should have a day or two without it, I don’t care. I’m the happiest person in the world when I’m snuggled into my beloved Butterfly Chair – that’s currently covered in sheep fur for seasonal reasons – with a cup of Earl Gray tea on my lap and a large piece of cake close at hand.

Last week I had even more reason to bake, two birthdays in the calendar called for a sweet feast. I made the Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka that I shared with you last Sunday, peanut butter meringues (the recipe still needs some tweaking, but it’ll come up soon), and a marvelous marbled red wine and chocolate cake. It’s a marriage between my long loved Red Wine Cake and my classic Chocolate Marble Bundt Cake – I couldn’t be more satisfied with the result. It’s a little less sweet than my original pink wine creation due to the bittersweet chocolate batter swirled in and it’s just perfect. Imagine a large bite of this fluffy cake covered in sticky red wine glaze melting in your mouth. Heaven.

Marbled Red Wine and Chocolate Cake

 

Marbled Red Wine and Chocolate Cake

Marbled Red Wine and Chocolate Cake

Makes 1 Bundt cake

breadcrumbs, for sprinkling the pan
organic eggs, separated, 6
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
plain flour 300g / 2 1/3 cups
baking powder 3 teaspoons
ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons
unsweetened cocoa powder 2 teaspoons, plus 30g / 1/3 cup for the chocolate batter
butter, at room temperature, 210g / 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
granulated sugar 250g / 1 1/4 cup, plus 1 heaping tablespoon for the chocolate batter
red wine 120ml /1/2 cup

For the icing / topping

icing sugar 220g / 2 1/4 cups
red wine 4-5 tablespoons
bittersweet chocolate, grated, 1 tablespoon

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F (preferably convection setting). Butter a 23cm /  9″ Bundt pan and sprinkle lightly with breadcrumbs.

Whisk the egg white and salt until stiff, set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and 2 teaspoons of the cocoa powder.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 250g / 1 1/4 cup of the sugar for a few minutes until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and continue mixing until thick and creamy. Add the red wine and mix until well combined. Using a wooden spoon, fold the egg white and the flour mixture into the butter mixture, alternating about 1/3 at a time, combining well in between.

Scrape half the batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Stir the remaining cocoa powder (30g / 1/3 cup) and sugar (1 heaping tablespoon) into the remaining batter, mix until well combined. Dollop the chocolate batter on top of the lighter batter and spread carefully. Using a small fork, swirl through the 2 batters, carefully from top to bottom, pulling slowly once all the way through the pan. Bake for about 40 minutes (slightly longer if using a conventional oven) or until golden and spongy. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean. Let the cake cool for 2-3 minutes, then shake the pan a little and flip the cake onto a plate to cool completely. If the cake won’t come out, place the warm Bundt pan into a large bowl filled with cold water. This will help loosening the cake from the pan.

For the icing, in a medium bowl, whisk the icing sugar with 4 tablespoons of red wine until smooth. Add more wine if the mixture is too thick. Drizzle the icing over the cake and sprinkle with chocolate while the icing is still soft. Enjoy!

Marbled Red Wine and Chocolate Cake

 

Marbled Red Wine and Chocolate Cake

 

Marbled Red Wine and Chocolate Cake

 

Marbled Red Wine and Chocolate Cake

 

Marbled Red Wine and Chocolate Cake

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

The past week has been crazy and the best way to put my weary mind at ease, is to dig my hands into a ball of yeast dough and knead, and knead, and knead. You can punch and roll it, letting all your energy out until you’re exhausted; or you can knead it gently to calm down and feel the pale ball softening slowly between your fingers. Yeast dough is forgiving, it accepts whatever mood your in, and it gets better the longer – and harder – you work with it.

The dough for today’s babka had to deal with a lot of energy, I must have looked like a boxer training in my kitchen. And it turned out to be the smoothest, silkiest yeast ball my marble counter tops have ever seen. To make babka, you have to be patient, the dough has to rise overnight in the fridge before it transforms into a braided beauty. But then, if you time it well and start early on the second day, you can enjoy the most fragrant cake on your Sunday breakfast or brunch table. And if you don’t feel like hassling and hurrying, just take your time and bake it for teatime.

I already shared a babka recipe here on Eat In My Kitchen, last year’s Blueberry Lemon Cheese Babka was a hit, not only on my table. This time I wanted to use poppy seeds for the filling to resemble the famous German Mohnstrudel. It used to be one of my childhood’s favourites, preferably generously filled with the dark, black seeds. For my filling, I stirred in a handful of raisins, which is also very common in Germany, they make it a bit fruity. But we’re not done yet, I have another addition: chopped white chocolate; divine! It’s subtle, you can barely taste the little milky bites, but it makes the filling juicier, fudgy in some parts, which is a great contrast to the fluffy cake. For the shiny finish, I used a sticky sugar glaze and I didn’t even wait for it to dry, the first slice of a warm yeast cake is always the best.

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

 

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

Mind that the babka has to rise twice, the first time overnight (for about 8 hours) in the fridge.

Makes 1 loaf cake.

For the dough

plain flour 275g / 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon, plus more if it’s too sticky
granulated sugar 50g / 1/4 cup
fast-acting yeast 1 1/2 teaspoons
fine sea salt 1/4 teaspoon
milk, lukewarm, 60ml / 1/4 cup
organic egg 1
organic egg yolk 1
butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes, 75g / 1/3 cup
oil, for the bowl

For the filling

milk 210ml / 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
sugar 50g / 1/4 cup
cinnamon 1 teaspoon
orange zest 1 teaspoon
poppy seeds, cracked, 125g / 1 1/4 cup
raisins, soaked in warm water for 5 minutes and squeezed gently, 40g / 1/3 cup
white chocolate, chopped, 100g / 4 ounces

For the glaze

water 60ml / 1/4 cup
granulated sugar 100g / 1/2 cup

Day 1 – in the evening:

For the yeast dough, in a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.

Whisk the milk, egg, and egg yolk and add along with the butter to the flour mixture. Knead for about 10 minutes, starting with the dough hooks of a stand mixer and continue kneading and punching with your hands for a few minutes until you have a soft and silky ball of dough. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour, but mind that it stays soft. Transfer to a clean, oiled bowl, cover with cling film and put in the fridge overnight.

Day 2 – in the morning:

Take the dough out of the fridge and let at sit at room temperature for about 1-2 hours.

For the filling, in a medium saucepan, bring the milk, sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest to the boil. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the poppy seeds, and let it soak for 5 minutes. Stir in the soaked raisins and let it cool.

Butter an 11 x 24cm / 4 x 9″ loaf pan and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.

Punch the dough down, take it out of the bowl, and knead for about 30 seconds. On a floured counter top, roll out the dough with a rolling pin into a 28 x 40cm / 11 x 16″ rectangle. Spread the filling over the dough, leaving a 2cm / 3/4″ rim, and sprinkle with the white chocolate. Starting from one long side, roll up the dough tightly into a log. Pull and press to seal the end onto the roll and place the seam at the bottom. Using a sharp long knife, cut the roll in half lengthwise (see 5th picture). The cut sides facing up, press together two ends and lay one half of the log over the other, continue until you end up with a twisted plait (2nd picture). Push the end together. Tuck the ends underneath the babka and, using the large blade of a knife, lift the loaf and transfer quickly to the prepared pan. Cover with a tea towel and let it rise in a warm place (I keep it on the heater) for about 60-90 minutes or until puffy.

Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F (conventional oven). For the glaze, in a small saucepan, bring the water and sugar to the boil and let it cook for 2 minutes, take the pan off the heat and set aside.

Bake the babka in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean. Mind that depending on where you push it in, there will be melted chocolate on the skewer. Take the pan out of the oven and brush the top immediately with the syrup (use all the syrup). Let the cake cool for about 10-15 minutes before you remove it from the pan. Enjoy slightly warm or cold.

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

 

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

 

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

 

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

 

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

 

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

 

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

 

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

 

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

 

Poppy Seed and White Chocolate Babka

Blood Orange and Rosemary Upside Down Cake

Blood Orange Rosemary Upside Down Cake

I already had my post written for today’s bright orange Sunday cake, but then, yesterday’s news from the US hit me. It felt so wrong to just write about a recipe, my mood, my day; why should I write about me and my food, when on the other side of the Atlantic, a single man throws everything away that our so called civilized world claims to stand for. How can we, or the president of the United States, ban citizens from certain countries (Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria) from putting their feet onto American ground?

I’m German, my country’s history shows what happens when we tolerate and support the insane actions of a single man. Didn’t we learn anything? Is it still possible for us to allow a man to run a country who doesn’t show the slightest feeling of compassion? Didn’t we, in the western world, hypocrites, arrogantly accuse other countries of exactly that?

Before I was sad, now I’m concerned.

And yes, I baked a cake. It’s an upside down cake – for an upside down world – made with Sicilian blood oranges. It looks like a glowing Mediterranean sunset, peaceful. Some prefer to cut off the citrus fruits’ peel, I leave mine on for a tangy touch. I first sliced and then cooked three fruits in sugar water with a sprig of fresh rosemary to infuse the pulp. About half an hour later they were soft, ready to become the fruity base of a light and fluffy upside down cake, thanks to beaten egg white folded into the batter. The citrus is very present, which I like, the herbal note is subtle. If you prefer you can use less fruits, but I recommend creating a thick juicy layer of orange slices. They keep the cake wonderfully moist and fruity, also on the second day.

Blood Orange Rosemary Upside Down Cake

 

Blood Orange Rosemary Upside Down Cake

Blood Orange and Rosemary Upside Down Cake

Makes 1 (20 1/2cm / 8″) cake

For the oranges

water 120ml / 1/2 cup
granulated sugar 100g / 1/2 cup
organic blood oranges, rinsed, scrubbed, and the ends cut off, 3
medium sprig of rosemary 1, plus a few needles finely chopped (optional)

For the dough

plain flour 200g / 1 1/2 cups
baking powder 2 teaspoons
butter, at room temperature, 80g / 1/3 cup
granulated sugar 150g / 3/4 cup
organic eggs, separated, 2
vanilla pod, split and scraped, 1/2
milk 100ml / 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F. Butter and line a 20 1/2cm / 8″springform pan.

For the oranges, in a large saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil over medium high heat. Stir and let the sugar dissolve. Cut the oranges into thin slices. Reduce the heat to medium, layer the orange slices in the sugar water, and simmer gently for about 25-30 minutes or until soft, but still in shape. Using a slotted ladle, transfer the orange slices to a large plate and let them cool for a few minutes. Add the rosemary to the pot with the orange syrup and set aside.

For the dough, in a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla seeds and continue mixing for about 1 minute or until well combined. Quickly beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk. Beat the egg white and salt until soft peaks form and fold into the dough.

Arrange the orange slices on the bottom and sides of the prepared pan, fold some of the slices into the corners (see 2nd picture). Scrape the dough on top of the fruits, even it out and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and spongy. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean. Let the cake cool for a few minutes before you flip it over, gently remove the parchment paper.

Bring the rosemary orange syrup to a boil over high heat and let it cook for about 2 minutes, let it cool for a couple minutes. Brush the top of the cake with the syrup and arrange the rosemary sprig on top. Sprinkle with a little additional chopped rosemary and enjoy!

Blood Orange Rosemary Upside Down Cake

 

Blood Orange Rosemary Upside Down Cake

 

bloodorangerosemaryupsidedowncake_IG1

 

bloodorangerosemaryupsidedowncake_IG7

 

bloodorangerosemaryupsidedowncake_IG3

 

bloodorangerosemaryupsidedowncake_IG2

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins with Caramelized Pistachios

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

Pistachios have been on my mind since I tried the most divine breakfast spread during my stay at the stunning Villa Athena in Agrigento in Sicily. Velvety smooth and creamy, slightly sweet and nutty, I’m not surprised that this traditional Sicilian Crema di Pistacchi is so popular in Italy. The texture is similar to the more common chocolate hazelnut spread, but it tastes a million times better, and it’s bright green. I love it and I can’t wait to start working on my own recipe.

However, there are much quicker ways to satisfy my current pistachio longings, for example, with fluffy pistachio orange blossom muffins topped with caramelized pistachios. I replaced a quarter of the flour with finely ground pistachios and stirred in a few roughly chopped nuts to add some crunch. Oranges team up very well with the green nuts, so I used a generous splash of orange blossom water and freshly grated zest to refine my little green muffins with a citrusy note. While you caramelize the nuts for the topping, you could also make a little more dark caramel to drizzle over the muffins’ golden tops. Bittersweet and sticky, it fits really well, but that’s up to you.

Yesterday was a great day, as we felt the united power of women. When I saw the pictures of the women’s marches all over the world, hundred thousands of women raising their voice and showing their strength, I felt, all of a sudden, the cold fading that gathered in my heart in the past few months. #womensmarch

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

 

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

shelled salted pistachios 120g / 1 cup
plain flour 320g / 2 1/2 cups
granulated sugar 150g / 3/4 cup
baking powder 3 teaspoons
baking soda 1/2 teaspoon
fine sea salt 1/8 teaspoon
butter, melted and cooled, 120g / 1/2 cup
freshly grated orange zest 1 teaspoon
vanilla pod, split and scraped, 1/4
milk 210ml / 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
organic eggs 2
quality orange blossom water, preferably organic, 3 tablespoons
paper muffin pan liners 12

For the caramelized pistachios

shelled salted pistachios, a handful
granulated sugar 2 tablespoons
water 2 tablespoons
honey 1 teaspoon

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F (preferably convection setting). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In batches, rub the pistachios between your hands until most of the salt is scrubbed off. (Alternatively, use unsalted pistachios, in that case add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the dough instead of 1/8 teaspoon.)

For the muffins, in a food processor or blender, grind 2/3 (80g / 3 ounces) of the pistachios until very fine. Chop the remaining pistachios roughly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, ground pistachios, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the orange zest and vanilla seeds to the butter, whisk, and let it sit for a few minutes to infuse the butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, milk, eggs, and orange blossom water. Add to the flour-mixture and stir with a wooden spoon just until a lumpy batter forms. Gently fold in the remaining chopped pistachios. Mind that if you mix the batter too much, the muffins will lose their light texture.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for about 14 minutes (slightly longer if using a conventional oven) or until golden.

For the caramelized pistachios, rub the pistachios as mentioned above to remove most of the salt and chop roughly. In a small, heavy saucepan, bring the sugar, water, and honey to the boil and, without stirring, let it cook until golden and caramelized. Add the pistachios, stir quickly and top each muffin with a teaspoon of the caramelized nuts. Work quickly, as the caramel becomes hard. If it’s too sticky, transfer the pan back onto a low heat to melt the caramel.

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

 

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffinsns5.2

 

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

 

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

 

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

 

Pistachio Orange Blossom Muffins

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

We spent our Christmas in the Mediterranean, a premier for me, we normally stay in the cold North. I decorate our tree and the rest of the apartment according to my annual passion for wintery kitsch, and I eat duck, German potato dumplings, and usually (always) too many cookies. 2016 was different, we decided to go to Sicily first and spend a few relaxing days in the heart of the Archaeological Park of Agrigento (I’ll share my impressions with you next week). Malta was next on our itinerary, and with it came along lots of sunshine, rough seas, long walks in the countryside, and my wonderful, crazy Maltese family. It was loud and silly, we ate and drank too much wine in front of my Maltese Mama’s gorgeous crib in Msida, and I was happy.

I learned that a proper crib is an important part of the Maltese celebration, and I’m talking about cribs of rather large dimensions, well equipped with colourful figures, various animals, a real stable setting made of rocks, and most importantly, an impressive light installation to represent the firmament. Every house leaves the main door open, so that passersby can peak through the glass door to admire the re-enacted scenes of Jesus’ birth. I’ve seen impressive installations that leave no doubt that the Maltese take Christmas very seriously.

Being under the hot Mediterranean sun in the coldest season of the year has many advantages, my vitamin D resources are definitely recharged. Everything is fine as long as you stay outside the house, inside it’s freezing cold. A country where the temperature barely drops below 16°C (60°F) doesn’t really have to think about those few days of sharp chill. But a person who’s used to central heating – me – has to get used to the fact that the bedroom (and the bathroom!) can actually feel much colder than the air outside. I coped and complained, but our sunny walks along the lush green Dingli cliffs definitely made up for it.

And I’ll never forget our New Year’s Eve in Gozo, we stayed at a beautiful farmhouse at the border of the village of Qala. We had a gorgeous room, with a large terrace and the most stunning views of the islands of Comino and Malta. We ordered 3 (!) pizzas from the local Maxokk bakery, bought a bottle of local red wine from my friends at Meridiana, and just sat on the sofa, amazed by the peace in front of our eyes.

I had never seen Malta like this, so green and in full bloom. My past travels covered everything from March to October, but I always avoided the winter months. I’d love to show you pictures, but I was on a mission, I didn’t touch my camera, I stayed offline most of the time, and I slowed down my pace drastically. So there are no pictures, but lots of beautiful memories of time spent in nature, silent, without any disturbing technical devices.

However, when we came back to Berlin, I noticed a slight feeling of dissatisfaction, I missed my Christmas. To make up for my nostalgic longings, I decided to have a Christmas week in January. In the past few days, I baked Christmas cookies and my boyfriend had to listen to me singing along to Christmas carols. My celebrations found their festive peak in a Christmas dinner for two with slow roasted duck (I used the recipe from my book), red cabbage with spices and apples, and German potato dumplings. Now I’m cured and we can move on with our lives – also in the kitchen.

My latest post-Christmas kitchen project led to a hearty yet airy focaccia, topped with thickly sliced red onions roasted on top of the dough in lots of olive oil and a generous amount of aromatic Swiss Gruyère cheese. It’s pure comfort food. I cut a thick slice off the warm bread and enjoyed it on a chair that I placed close to the heater. I doubt I ever appreciated central heating as much as I do now.

If you’re looking for some more focaccia inspiration, take a look at these recipes:

Fig, Chèvre and Honey Focaccia

Emiko Davies Florentine Grape Focaccia

Herb Focaccia with Zucchini, Aubergine and Parmesan

Focaccia with Grapes, Rosemary and Sea Salt

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

 

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

Makes a 25 x 32cm / 10 x 12 1/2″ focaccia

For the dough

plain flour 500g / 3 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons
fast-acting yeast 1 (7g / 1/4 ounce) envelope
fine sea salt 1 teaspoon
granulated sugar 1 heaping teaspoon
water, lukewarm, 260ml / 1 cup and 2 tablespoons
olive oil 120ml / 1/2 cup, plus 1-2 tablespoons to oil the baking sheet

For the topping

Swiss Gruyère cheese, or any aromatic hard cheese, coarsely grated, 100g / 7 ounces
red onions, thickly sliced, 2
flaky sea salt
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

For the dough, combine the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the lukewarm water and half the olive oil (60ml / 1/4 cup) and knead on medium-high speed for a few minutes until well combined. I mix it on ‘4’ on my KitchenAid. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. Transfer the dough to a table or countertop and continue kneading and punching it down with your hands for about 4 minutes or until you have a smooth and elastic ball of dough. Place the dough back in the mixer bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place, or preferably in a 35°C / 100°F warm oven (conventional setting), for about 60 minutes or until doubled in size.

Oil a 25 x 32cm / 10 x 12 1/2″ baking sheet.

When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down, take it out of the bowl, and knead for 1 minute. Using your hands, stretch and spread the dough on the oiled baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes or until puffy.

Preheat the oven to 220°C / 425°F (convection setting).

Using the round bottom of a wooden spoon or your finger, punch around 6 x 7 holes into the surface of the dough. Arrange the sliced onions on top of the dough, pushing the slices gently into the dough. Pour the remaining olive oil over the dough and onion and into the holes. Sprinkle with the cheese and a little flaky sea salt and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and light brown. Sprinkle with crushed pepper and enjoy warm or cold. The focaccia tastes best on the first day.

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

 

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

 

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

 

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

 

Gruyère and Red Onion Focaccia

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