Tag: Baking

A little chef

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Over the last few weeks, the big monster has shown a real interest in cooking. Besides watching me in the kitchen, stirring his building blocks and making lego soup have been some of the first activities that would keep him busy on his own for (somewhat) extended periods of time. So after he had transferred the armrest of our couch into his counter top/stove using more and more of our kitchen equipment, I decided to make him an apron for his birthday and give him his first own utensils.

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I found the scribbled grey and white pin stripes were perfect for a little mister’s kitchen gear and added a red pocket and straps as color accents. And, as I simply couldn’t resist, I also made him a little chef hat… 😛

Just as I had expected, he instantly liked the apron but really didn’t want to wear the hat when we first tried everything on. To my big surprise though, he didn’t mind wearing it during our last pizza making session. And even better: daddy had the camera ready! 😉

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Our little beer garden

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Beergardening inarguably is one of the most characteristic details of the Bavarian lifestyle – and my family is particularly good at it! 😀

So today we made homemade pretzels with my parents who are currently visiting, some Obatzda (typical Bavarian cheese dip) and had a pretty good time on our deck, enjoying our beers, radlers and apple spritzers. I even had some more of the fabric that I used for a picnic/beer garden table cloth that I made for my parents a few years ago (and which still seems to be a faithful companion on all their biking and beergarden tours). The edges were still raw when I put it on the table today (I’ll fix that soon…) but the white and blue colors really made me feel like sitting in an authentic Munich beer garden. I could even enjoy the shade of our acorn tree and didn’t miss the typical chestnut trees too much… 😛

Prost everyone! 🍺

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Sunken apricots

1607_Sunken-apricots_01There were some really nice, ripe apricots at the store yesterday that I simply couldn’t walk past – so I got a bunch… And while they were perfectly sweet, they had to be eaten right away. And because almost all of my jam jars are currently in use, I chose to make a cake, just cutting them in half and pushing them into a simple batter. Sprinkled with sliced almonds and a little bit of icing sugar, so good! 🙂

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Rhubarb strawberry streusel cake

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With temperatures here being forecasted to reach up to 32 degrees today, I was definitely not planning on using the oven. But then I stumbled across some rhubarb when getting groceries this morning (the first one I’ve seen this year) and simply couldn’t resist making a cake. And of course I didn’t regret, and neither did Paul or the monster. Rhubarb cake is just too good, and even better with sweet strawberries and crunchy streusels, yum… 🙂

Canned bread

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One stereotypical thing many German expatriates seem to miss most is their bread. And I guess it’s true, I’m one of them. Not that there’s no good bread in Canada – I have found some amazing kinds with olives, nuts, cranberries and other goodies. Just when it comes to the typically German, heavy (!) sourdough rye bread, that is a real rarity here. So I suppose making my own bread was quite logically the next step. I have actually tried once ore twice before, but not with satisfying results… But this time, I had Maike’s recipe, so chances for success could hardly be better! 😉

Last time they were here, my parents brought some sourdough starter. And now that they’re here again, two days ago we started the process by mixing that starter with rye flour and water and let it sit over night. Yesterday morning we made our own spices mix grinding some caraway, fennel and coriander seeds – honest physical labor… 😛

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We then added these spices, some salt, wheat flour, more water and lots of sunflower seeds to the rye dough and kneaded everything together. Because we only had one baking dish, I cleaned two former tomato cans which I also lined with butter and mixed grains (poppy, sesame and caraway seeds).

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After letting the dough rise for another 6 hours it was finally baking time! And look at this beautiful crust!

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And this morning we enjoyed a really nice breakfast. With cheese, prosciutto, honey and – you can probably guess – lots of homemade jam! 🙂 And everybody liked the round slices! So I’m actually considering always making canned bread from now on, it also seems to be a good size for two people and a perfect freezer portion.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the starter for our next baking session: a sample that I took from the rye mix and covered with water. I’m curious to see this work but until then, the jar will have to sit and wait in the fridge.

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Thank you Maike for your recipe and detailed advice!! You definitely helped us bring some great feeling of home onto our table! 💛

UPDATE (22 May 2016):

I had completely forgotten to provide you with an update about our experience with using starters for the following batches. It works great! Thanks again Maike, now we’re self-sustaining rye bread bakers! 😀

Here is a picture from our last batch a few days ago:

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A cozy bagels brunch

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We just had brunch with our dear friend Suzie. And while it was pretty freaking cold out there (yeah, Canadian winters…), we were enjoying some homemade bagels with creme cheese, salmon, lettuce, cucumber, jam, honey and other goodies. Mmhh, so yummy!! 🙂1602_Bagels_02And for those of you who are jealous now:

This is what you need:

  • 3 cups (500 g) flour
  • 1 1/4 cup (300 ml) warm water
  • 3 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • seeds (poppy, sesame, caraway, pumpkin, sunflower, …)

This is what you do:

Put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in the water, add the yeast and sugar and stir in a few table spoons of the flour. Cover this pre-dough with a dish towel and let it sit at a warm and cozy spot for at least half an hour. Add the oil and salt, knead everything together and let the dough sit again until it has risen considerably, another hour or so. Divide into 8 portions and form little balls. Poke a hole in the middle of each ball and widen it to a diameter of about 5 cm. Let these rings rest again, until their shape is more bagel-like (about half an hour). Bring ~2 l of salt water (~2 tsp salt) to a boil in a big pot and let the bagels simmer for 30 s on each side. Brush some egg yolk on each bagel, then sprinkle them with the seeds of your choice and bake them at 370°F (190°C) for 15-20 min. Enjoy!

Colorful brioche buns

This morning we had our last breakfast with my parents before their departure to Alberta and wanted it to be just a little bit special. So I made these colorful raisin buns with mixed seeds.1512_Briche-buns_01

As requested after the brioche Nikolausies, which were made with the same dough, here is the recipe:

This is what you need:

  • 3 cups (500 g) flour
  • 1 cup (250 ml) warm milk
  • 3 tsp yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) butter
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) sugar
  • raisins, almonds, … (optional)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • seeds as desired (poppy, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, …)

This is what you do:

Put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle. In there, mix the milk and yeast with one teaspoon of sugar and a few table spoons of the flour. Cover this pre-dough and let it sit for at least half an hour. Knead in the egg, butter and the rest of the sugar and let the dough sit again until it has risen considerably, at least another hour. Divide into 16 portions and form little balls. This is the moment where you can add raisins or almonds – I like to put them into the middle of each ball, so they don’t burn in the oven. Brush some egg yolk on each bun, dip it into the seeds of your choice and put them on a baking tray, leaving a little bit of space between them. Let the buns rise for another half hour (if you’re patient enough and not too hungry), then bake at 370°F (190°C) for about 15 min.

The first time I made these buns was for Thanksgiving this year, except I made them with salt (1 tsp) instead of sugar and served them with supper. The other difference: they rose a bit more and therefore grew together much better 😉

Sabine’s Quarkstollen

It is my honor to present you my very first guest post! 🙂

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Since it is the pre-Christmas season, we wanted to make Stollen, a traditional German Christmas bread. And Sabine was so kind to share her recipe. So here it is!

This is what you need:

  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup (150 g) soft butter
  • 1 cup (250 g) quark
  • 2.5 cups (500 g) raisins
  • 1 cup (150 g) crushed almonds
  •  3/4 cup (100 g) mixed peel
  •  3 cups (500 g) flour
  •  2.5 tsp baking powder
  •  1/2 cup (100 g) melted butter
  •  icing sugar

This is what you do:

Preheat the oven to 355°F (180°C). Mix the sugar, a dash of vanilla extract and the eggs (photo 1), then add the butter (photo 2) and the quark (photo 3).

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Mix in the raisins, almonds (photo 4) and the mixed peel (photo 5).

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Sift in the flour and the baking powder (photo 6), then knead with your hands and make a loaf (photo 7).

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Bake for 70 min on the middle rack. Brush on melted butter several times while baking. Sift lots of icing sugar over your Stollen directly after taking it out of the oven (photo 8). Let cool, then wrap in aluminum foil and let the Stollen sit for 2-3 weeks in a plastic bag.1512_Stollen_07

Cut into slices and enjoy, with a cup of hot chocolate, punch or Glühwein for example! 🙂

We made the Stollen about a week ago and didn’t feel like waiting for another week before trying it, but already opened the bundle this weekend. And it was really delicious!

Even though some of the ingredients are slightly different than in Germany, we tried to stick closely to Sabine’s recipe. The only difference: the mixed peel was a bit chunky, so we cut it into smaller bits using my hand blender, and we made two small loaves instead of one big one.

So, thank you very much again, Sabine!! 🙂

Happy Nikolaus!

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On the occasion of this special Nikolaus Sunday, we made raisin brioche with my parents who are currently visiting. It’s my mom’s recipe and while she’d usually braid one big loaf, this time we decided for eight small Nikolausies.

This is Paul making his 😉

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Freshly baked with butter, honey and homemade jam… so yummy!

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Nothing smells like apple cake…

I just made some apple cake and am now enjoying the delicious smell in the whole house 🙂

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Writing down a recipe is somewhat new to me, since I don’t usually measure my ingredients, but I’ll try my best! I also like simple solutions (any kitchen utensil you don’t use, you don’t have to wash afterwards…), so it should be really straightforward.

This is what you need:

  • 1/4 brick butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • milk
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • lots of cinnamon
  • 3 apples
  • a handful sliced almonds

This is what you do:

Preheat your oven to 370°. Shortly microwave the butter until it gets soft but not too hot and runny (with my microwave that takes about 30 seconds), then stir in the sugar using a whisk until creamy. Successively, stir in the other ingredients (except the apples and sliced almonds) and put the batter in a buttered cake dish. Peel your apples, then cut them into quarters and each of those into 4-5 slices. Arrange your apple slices in a round pattern, pushing them slightly into the batter. (This is what I do when I have guests or happen to write a blog post. Usually, I would just cut the apples into random pieces and literally throw them on the cake…) Sprinkle your cake with the sliced almonds and bake for 35-45 min, depending on the size of your cake dish and the thickness of your cake. I am convinced that pretty food also tastes better, if you agree you can sprinkle the cake with a little icing sugar before serving. Enjoy!

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This is my basic apple cake, but I’ve made lots of variations. No nuts, pears instead of the apples or mixing in some blackberries or raspberries for an extra pretty look. Next time I’ll maybe add cranberries and spices for a christmassy flavor… Be creative!