Monday, June 27, 2011

Daring Bakers: Baklava & Phyllo Pastry

For this month the Daring Bakers challenged us to make Baklava with homemade Phyllo Pastry. I have never tasted baklava before, because I always thought it is overly sweet. The real challenge was making the phyllo pastry dough, and rolling it out paper thin. I am always up to making all kinds of challenging doughs, like puff pastry, fresh yeast dough or crossaint dough, but this one was really difficult.

I managed to roll out the dough really thin, but it took a lot of arm strength. Then I made the mistake of waiting a little to long to continue making the baklava and the dough got stuck together. I thought I had floured it enough, but I had to re-roll at least a third of it. I never got it as thin as before. It was great to learn how to make phyllo, but this is one dough I will prefer buying at the store in the future.

For the filling I made a mix out of almonds, pistachios and milk chocolate, flavored with lemon and cinnamon. Since I wanted it to taste fresh but not too sweet, I made a mint sirup with some lemon zest, and only a little bit of honey. It tasted quite good, and the sweetness was okay. I have to say this will never be one of my preferred desserts, but it was a good experience.

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rhubarb Tartlets

What can be better than a buttery crust with lots of tart rhubarb? Well, what about topping it with crumbles and whipped cream. These are beautiful spring tartlets, but they will also be great for a summer picnic, if rhubarb is still available in your area. The rhubarb season in our garden is coming to an end, so these little treats were perfect.

If we get some more rain for the next few days we can probably extend the season a little longer. It was pretty dry lately. The strawberries are also ripe and just waiting to be paired up with the rhubarb. If you want something different from this usual pairing try rhubarb with apricot or with orange. Both go surprisingly well together.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Greengage-Jam Cake

Spring and summer bring us all kinds of delicious fruits in our garden. I love turning them into jams. I wanted to make some space for new jams on my shelves, so I needed to find a recipe to use up my old ones. I had made a blueberry-jam cake last year, and it is a great way to give a regular bundt-cake a fruity taste and moist texture.

This time I used a Greengage-Vanilla jam. Greengage is a kind of plum, they are smaller than regular plums and their color is green. It is a very tart fruit, so they make really good jam. I have used the same jam to make a crostata before.

I decided to make a sheet cake this time. The recipe is adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman. In the book she used apricot-jam. In addition to the jam, the cake contains toasted hazelnuts, which give the cake a good crunch. You can keep the cake for a couple of days under a cake dome at room temperature.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Chestnut Mousse Cake

It's already been 6 month since we got married, and one year since we moved to Germany. Time really flies, and so a special cake was in order. I remembered our little honeymoon in Vienna, and the delicious chestnut mousse cake (Maroni-Obers Torte) we have been eating there.

It wasn't easy to find a recipe for it, but I managed to find a website which is a great source of inspiration for Austrian desserts. The recipes are not very straightforward and you have to do a lot of calculations yourself, but it lists a lot of great basic recipes for fillings and doughs. It is probably more catered to professionals.

The cake consists of several elements, so you have to plan ahead. The cake base and the chocolate mousse can be made a day in advance. For the chestnut mousse you have to consider several hours of cooling time, but otherwise it is not to difficult to make.

If you use canned chestnut puree, and end up having a little less than what the recipe asked for, you can skim a little on the vermicelli. The can that I had was 20 g short for example. There is no need to open another can just for a few extra grams.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Rhubarb-Vanilla Cakes in glass jars

Even though we have been doing a lot with our rhubarb since they started coming in our garden a few weeks ago, I just noticed I haven't posted anything on them this year yet.  So, here I am having some cake-in-a-jar for you. They are perfect for gifts this time of year, and great to bring to picnics.

Of course, this recipe can also be made with a muffin or loaf pan. I think that they taste fresh best, but it's nice to have something that you can save for later. Since the rhubarb keeps the cakes moist, I wouldn't keep them longer than 2-3 weeks at most.

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