Eggnog Pound Cake

Eggnog. Any thoughts on eggnog? Personally I like it a lot – when I’m in the mood for it. And remember that I’ve got some… Mister Meike’s Kitchen likes it with lemonade at Christmas. I think that’s just plain wrong but different tastes and all that.

Anyway. We’ve had two nearly empty bottles lurking at the back of the cupboard so I decided to try out this Eggnog Pound Cake. Years and years ago we made lots of cake with eggnog but I haven’t had one for a long time.

I didn’t have quite enough eggnog so made it up with a splash of milk. Also, I only used half the amount of sugar and that was sufficient. I made the cake in a ceramic bundt pan and I was awfully scared the it would stick and I wouldn’t be able to get it out. I therefore greased it really well, maybe too well and dusted it with a fair amount of flour. The recipe says to leave the baked cake in the tin for 20 minutes before turning it out – and, miraculously, this worked really well. The cake just slid out.

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At first I thought the cake wouldn’t rise. But eventually it did, beautifully. It just seemed to be taking quite a long time.

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I glazed the cake – not only to cover up the bits of butter from greasing the pan, also to keep the cake fresh. I swirled the empty eggnog bottles with milk and used that for the glaze instead of neat eggnog. It was a bit more child-friendly that way.

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It’s a lovely cake that smells and tastes awfully good. Everybody here loved it!

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Baking and knitting

I’ve started my first big knitting project of the year and so knitting is all I do when I have some free time. Well, not quite true, I do some baking too but writing about it has somehow lost its priority spot. But at least I sometimes knit in the kitchen (when my iPad has run out of power and I need to plug it in because I’m hooked on Nurse Jackie on Netflix…)

I’m making a tunic for Miss Meike’s Kitchen and therefore I have to hurry up before she’s outgrown that size. (Although to be honest, that should not be too soon – the tunic is two sizes up from the one she’s currently wearing…)

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I’ve been hankering after cinnamon rolls for some time. It’s been my Christmas craving. I’ve tried out a more Christmasy variation this time: Apple Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls. The recipe is here.

I didn’t change anything about the dough which is quite heavy and dense. It needed longer to rise than just one hour.

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I don’t think the original recipe requires enough apples for this, they barely covered the rolled-out dough. I’ll try double the amount next time. And I only used two thirds of the sugar for the filling, it was sweet enough for us.

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I cut the rolled-up dough into 16 pieces, not 12, because that’s easier to do and the rolls are a bit smaller.

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Covered, fittingly with a blessing, they went into the fridge overnight.

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I was rather disappointed because they didn’t rise noticeably during their stay in the fridge but they had oozed a lot of apple juice.

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The rolls rose during baking though so all was well in the end and the apple juice had turned into a thick syrup.

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These are lovely rolls, something quite different and I can imagine they’d be rather nice for a wintery breakfast. I didn’t bother making a glaze because they are rather sticky thanks to the syrup.

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Zucchini Pound Cake

We started 2015 with a lot of sorting and tidying up. It’s been a lot of work but it’s also been very satisfying. I personally started the New Year by unravelling last year’s work (I’d made a hat for me but it was just a tad too small), which was rather symbolic … of symbolism …

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I still owe you a picture of the inside of our New Year’s Pie. It was tasty as every year and went down well. Here it is:

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We started the year with my Dad’s birthday. This year I made a Zucchini Pound Cake. I had zucchini in the freezer for this recipe (the last portion is for a Zucchini Bread, coming soon…).* I used this recipe from i am baker. It’s the first recipe I’ve ever tried that requires cake flour. I’d never come across it before so had to google it. I found my answer on Nigella Lawson’s website and decided to try it her way. Basically, it’s normal flour mixed with corn starch and sieved a couple of times.

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I used only half the amount of sugar required in the recipe. Absolutely sufficient.
The cake turned out well, with nice big air holes in it.

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The zucchini needs to be dry for this cake and I think I dried it out too much, if that’s possible at all. It was really difficult to stir it in and so I ended up with a layer of zucchini near the bottom of the cake. It was alright, it just didn’t look that nice.
I made a lemon glaze for the cake, as per the original recipe.
I was quite surprised when I cut the cake and sampled a bit, it was rather dry but when we actually ate the cake, it was okay. Even a couple of days later it hadn’t gone noticeably more dry. Another zucchini recipe to keep….

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* 15 Jan. 2015: I saw the other day that the blog where I saw the recipe I was going to try out has been closed down. Since I hadn’t saved the recipe anywhere, the frozen batch of zucchini will go into a vegetable curry…

Zucchini Cornbread

One last time this year…

We had chilli con carne for lunch and I’ve still got grated zucchini in the freezer for recipes I want to try out. This Zucchini Cornbread was one of them and the chilli recipe actually sounds very nice too.

But back to the bread!

I don’t see the need to put 100g of sugar into what is for all intents and purposes a savoury bread and therefore reduced it to just 10g. I find the bread on its own quite salty but eaten with chilli, it’s a perfect accompaniment.

Since we generally grow the yellow zucchini as we find them more pleasant in taste, the bread doesn’t look quite as interesting as in the original recipe with the green specks.

I’ll make it again to go with chilli. And you get extra veg without making an effort…

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Happy New Year, everybody!
Thanks for reading and putting up with me.
xxx

Baking Bread (38), Lasagne and a Pie

Time to stock up before the next holidays hit us! I went into a baking frenzy… The oven was on for a good four hours…

I made Paul Hollywood’s Bloomer (fifth time this year!) for Mister Meike’s Kitchen. It’s his favourite bread, what can I do? I wasn’t happy with the rise but the bread turned out absolutely fine.

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Then it was time for lunch and I had already roasted and pureed a hokkaido pumpkin. I wanted to try out this Pumpkin Lasagne. It is a wonderful recipe, a very elegant pumpkin recipe.

There is a pumpkin-parmesan-cream mix:

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A spinach-and-onion layer:

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And a pumpkin-and-cream “sauce” for the top:

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I didn’t really get a good picture of the finished dish so you’ll have to make do with this, the leftovers on a messy plate:

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Make it! I think that’s the best way I have ever eaten pumpkin in a savoury dish.

In between all this I was also making Dan Lepard’s Alsace Loaf again (fourth time this year…). The recipe can be found here while I’m still working out on how best to make it. My sourdough starter is much wetter than his. I’m getting there though. I made double the quantity but instead of shaping it into sticks (that should have made ten), I made two proper loaves.

Here’s the better looking one:

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It’s my favourite bread. I love how the grains give it texture and at the same time keep it wonderfully moist.

And now for the pie. This is our New Year’s Even tradition. I’ve actually made it for the seventh time this year. It’s Mrs Whitlow’s Artery-Hardening Hogswatch Pie from Terry Pratchett’s Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook. It’s on page 30 of this PDF.

I only make half the quantity because it’s enough for us. And since Master Meike’s Kitchen has been eating proper food, I’ve made it without the port for the stock. I’ve also experimented with different seasonings for the minced pork over the years and it works also with cayenne and paprika and Italian herbs. I also sometimes put a layer of bacon between the pastry and the filling – if I don’t forget that I’ve bought bacon specifically for that…

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The pie is made the day before so the stock can set; therefore I can’t show you yet what it looks like inside, can’t reveal the meat feast… You’ll have to wait until next year for that.

Enjoy the last 26 and a bit hours (Central European time…) of 2014!

Bread and Pudding…

… but no Bread Pudding …

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We nearly had a white Christmas. The snow was just one day late.

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On Boxing Day, before the weather started to turn, we had our big family Christmas. And when I say big, I mean big: 24 adults and 9 children (6 of those five years or younger). We always have a big buffet to which everybody contributes. I made some bread and it was rather well received. I mean, come on, freshly baked on the day – how much better can it get?

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We ate the not so nicely shaped loaf, the nice round one I brought home, sliced it up and put it in the freezer.

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I got Paul Hollywood’s British Baking for Christmas and sometimes I just can’t wait to try out a recipe from a new book. We had a Scottish St Fillan’s Pudding for dessert today, with custard, and it was really nice.

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I didn’t change anything about the recipe, you’ll be surprised to hear, not even the sugar content. Maybe I should have left it in the oven a bit longer, it looks quite pale compared to the one in the book.

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It tasted lovely though, warm and cold. And custard is a great accompaniment for it.

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Merry Christmas!

Christkind was very kind to me last night (we get our presents on Christmas Eve, just like the British royal family…) and I got a couple of lovely kitchen-related presents:

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The t-shirt appeals greatly to my silly sense of humour and my Dad actually made that recipe book holder for me. I’m ever so touched. The Jamaican spices and sauce are from my dearest friend, who thinks she’s very funny but we’re now planning to have roast chicken soon…

Christmas Day is usually my turn to cook something grand and we always try to incorporate some elements of an English Christmas Dinner. However, this year this part falls to ……. sprouts, parsnips and roasties… Anyway, that’s not what I want to write about. I’m going to write about dessert. I bought a Lucky Dip Box from The Spicery and it contained – among other things – a kit for Lemon Rosemary Posset. I thought that was a suitably dessert for Christmas Day, herby, spicy, lemony- sharp and nothing overly sweet or laced with chocolate (though I’m usually rather fond of the latter). It’s the first time I’ve tried one of the Sweet Spice Kits.

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It’s all actually rather fool-proof. The herbs and spices come in clearly labelled sachets and the instructions are easy to follow.

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I first made the spiced shortbread, with crushed green peppercorns. I didn’t sprinkle any additional pepper on those biscuits intended for the children (the vertical row on the left).

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Then I made the posset. I’ve always been intrigued by “posset”, something that crops up every now and so often in literature but is not a common drink / dish anymore. (There’s an article on Wikipedia about it, including a list of literary references.) So this went into my first posset:

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I couldn’t get any double cream so I used crème fraîche and normal cream. It boiled alright and it set fine. It was just a pain to filter out the peppercorns and bits of rosemary…

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It was a very surprising dessert. The kids weren’t keen on it at all (and I don’t blame them) even though the Sweet Spice Kit claims be “a range of family-friendly desserts”. Probably not when the youngest members of the family are only five and two… And this one does have a heat rating of two chillies (out of five). Once you got over the initial shock of having a rather hot (as in spicy) dessert, we adults actually quite enjoyed it. Until we found yet another bit of crushed peppercorn between our teeth… I’ll certainly go back to making a posset again. Probably not with pepper though… And maybe not even lemon but the idea is still appealing.

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Merry Christmas! Frohe Weihnachten!

Baking Bread 35

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I’ve tried out another bread recipe which requires the bread to be left in the fridge overnight before it is baked in the morning. The idea of baking bread first thing in the morning holds a big appeal to me. It seems to be a better way of using time effectively.

This bread needs wheat and rye sourdough starters. I started a new wheat one because I discarded the old one before we went to England in October. I have kept both starters for feeding and activating in the bathroom where the temperature is warmest and most stable. (The other rooms get considerably colder during the night.) This is a Neudorfer Sauerteigbrot and I rather like it. It’s less rubbery than the bread I made last time using only wheat sourdough (Weizensauerteig nach Chad Robertson) and, due to the rye content, tastes more interesting. It also contains sufficient wheat to be to Mister Meike’s Kitchen’s liking, I hope…

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Need … to …. catch … up …

“Catch up” could easily be interchanged with sleep, relax, unwind, take a deep breath, slow down and all sorts of other verbs of this type of meaning. December is such a busy month! Christmas parties, the normal Christmassy stuff but then it’s also Master Meike’s Kitchen’s birthday… It’s just about enough.

But let’s start at the beginning. I have tried out a new bread, it’s this Multigrain Oatmeal Bread. I drastically reduced the sugar because, to my mind, there’s no need for 100g of sugar in a bread. I used one teaspoon for the yeast mix and one tablespoon for the main dough. It’s a wonderful bread, the only downside is that it dries out very quickly. I’d freeze it in small portions to keep it fresh.

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And now we enter the birthday bakeathon: For some reason, even unbeknownst to me, I made two birthday cakes for the lucky boy.

The first one was my White Zucchini Confetti Cake, unfortunately I got different sprinkles now and they just melted into the dough. It was still a nice cake though. I made a white chocolate frosting this time and covered the whole cake in sprinkles. It looked pretty though my choice of chocolate wasn’t the best. I should have bought better quality. Hohum. Next time.

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I also tried to make made a Captain Barnacles Cake. Captain Barnacles is a character from the children’s TV series The Octonauts, which the kids like a lot. I used the recipe for the Owl Cake I made for Miss Meike’s Kitchen in August because I thought it would be easiest to shape. Which it was. But then I decided to cover the cake in white chocolate buttercream and use dyed buttercream for the feature. That was a bad choice. If only I thought that through! Next time I use marzipan.

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One of Master Meike’s Kitchen’s friends, who were coming along for his birthday tea, is gluten intolerant and allergic to dairy and egg. That makes catering for him quite a challenge. He is not into sweet things at all but I like to make the effort so that there’s something for him, should he want to have it. And I don’t just want to serve up a couple of rice cakes. This year I made some everything-free Oreos because I was going to make a lovely dessert called Dirt for Master to take to Kindergarten to celebrate his birthday there. Anyway. Those “Oreos” were after nooone’s taste, I’m afraid to say. And I’m even more determined now to one day find a recipe that produces something Master’s friend, and everyone else for that matter, will enjoy.

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We also needed something savoury for the evening and because Master Meike’s Kitchen is rather fond of burgers, I was rather pleased to have found a recipe for a cheeseburger bread. It’s basically a pizza with cooked mince, gherkins, bacon, grated cheese and ketchup, rolled up. We dropped our bread onto the floor when I tried to get it from the worktop to the baking tray – which Master was holding for me; I think he was surprised by the sudden increase in weight… So we shaped it into a big snail. I baked it the night before and then just reheated it in the oven on the day. It was fantastic! Mister Meike’s Kitchen has already requested it for his birthday!!! (On the downside, Master didn’t try a single bite, I think he was too excited, but both kids had helped make it and wouldn’t leave the filling alone…)

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I’m still recovering from that bakeathon but the next loaf of bread is already in the making…

Baking Bread 33

I really haven’t got the time to bake bread at the moment but the freezer was empty – so what was I supposed to do?

I tried out a new sourdough bread, a wheat sourdough, by an American baker. On Facebook, I had come across this video about Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread . It sounded intriguing, a bread everyone can make. And also to leave the shaped bread in the fridge overnight holds a big appeal.

I searched the interwebs for a recipe and at first only found some that need like a kilo of flour to make a sourdough starter and similar such madness. In the end I ended up on Ploetzblog, a fantastic German blog about bread baking. So I followed the recipe for Weizensauerteigbrot nach Chad Robertson to the letter (but forgot to slash the loaf before baking) and it all happened as it was described: once the bread had gone into the oven, it went flat. But after a little while it puffed up and got a really nice shape. I forgot to turn the oven down after I put the bread in but I’m not sure whether that had an impact and if it did, what it may have been. Unfortunately mine turned out a bit moist-looking and rubbery. I posted a comment and the answer I got was that my sourdough probably needs to ripen at a higher temperature so I’ll give this a go next time.

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