Cinnamon Pumpkin Rolls & Baking Bread 25

Hooray, it’s time for Cinnamon Rolls again! This time with puréed pumpkin… I found the recipe on Pinterest even before our neighbour knocked on our door and asked whether we wanted a bit of a massive pumpkin. I took a slice, cut it up and roasted it with some sesame oil (it was the only type I had left). Then I puréed it and froze it in portions – two for these rolls, one for pie and the rest in an ice cube tray for soups and sauces.

I’ve actually had a reason this time for baking. Normally, as you know, I don’t need one but this time I’ve had a good one. We had a visitor who actually came to see Miss Meike’s Kitchen more than anyone else of us. Jessica was a student nurse on placement on the maternity ward where I went to have Miss. Jessica had only a week or so left and hadn’t actually been present at a birth yet so she asked whether it would be okay if she could be with me. Of course, it was, the more the merrier! Miss took her time though and Jessica went home at the end of her shift but had asked to be phoned so she could come back for the birth. She had just arrived home when the midwife called her. So she came back and all was going well. The duty doctor was called to attend the birth – and then Miss Meike’s Kitchen’s heart rate dropped. By the time the doctor got to the birthing suite, she found an emergency. The consultant was called and I ended up being wheeled into theatre for an emergency c-section. Miss Meike’s Kitchen had to be resuscitated as she wasn’t breathing when she was born and was, as per protocol, blue lighted to the children’s hospital. She spent two days in NICU but mainly due to the fact that they didn’t have a spare bed on the normal ward. But she has been fine ever since. This drama was the first birth Jessica attended, and it’s even more connected since the same thing happened when Jessica herself was born.

About eight months later, I spotted amongst the news from the registry office in our local newspaper that Jessica had got married. She had quite an unusual maiden name so that’s why I remembered. Since the paper publishes the addresses, I wrote the young couple a card and also sent some pictures of Miss Meike’s Kitchen. We’ve been in touch ever since and, so far, have managed to meet up once a year, around the time of Miss’s birthday. And for her, or rather the occasion of her visit, are the Cinnamon Pumpkin Rolls.

The dough is very soft and it would have been obvious if I had thought of checking it against this recipe, which has worked a treat before. The amount of liquids, not even including the pumpkin purée, seems too much. And since it’s hard to roll out a dough that is really soft and sticky, I think I’ll try next time to merge those two recipes because the flavour is great.

Here’s the pumpkin purée with salt, brown sugar and nutmeg:

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I wish you could smell this! It’s the filling, brown sugar with cinnamon, cloves and allspice. It’s magical!

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I left the rolls to rise in the fridge overnight. They didn’t do brilliantly, compared to my first overnight cinnamon rolls but they did rise while baking so they weren’t too bad.

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The special occasion called for a frosting and I kind of used the maple-cream cheese frosting of the original recipe as a template. My problem with frostings generally is the amount of sugar that goes into them. I don’t have any maple syrup at the moment so I had to improvise anyway. I used 85g of cream cheese, 42g of honey and 2 tbsp of milk. For my taste, that was really sweet. And to think that the recipe called for double the amount of syrup plus extra icing sugar – no way!

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They taste fantastic! Everybody loved them!

I also made a loaf of bread. It was a pure spelt bread, which I’ve made before. I remember that the bread ended up really spongey (but I don’t recall whether that was when the bread was a day or two old or when it was defrosted). I don’t know whether that’s a characteristic of pure spelt bread or whether that was due to the ridiculously large amount of yeast. This time I halved the amount of yeast and gave it time to rise and, boy, it rose like a rocket!

Ingredients (inspired by this recipe)
600g spelt flour
12g salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 sachet of active dry yeast
ca. 500 ml water

Mix it all together. Cover. Leave to rise in warm place for about 2 hours.
The dough is very soft so instead of punching it down I patted it down with a wooden spoon before decanting it into a greased small loaf tin.
Cover. Leave to prove in a warm place for another hour – but do keep an eye on it. Mine rose so much, some of the dough ended up on the window sill…
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Bake in a preheated oven ( fan, 220°C), with a bowl of water, for 25 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 200°C and bake for another 10 minutes.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
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Zucchini Bars

Right. We’re not done yet with the zucchini recipes. I actually still had some grated left over in the fridge from last time.

I’ve found this recipe for Zucchini Bars with Browned Butter Frosting. I love browned butter. My grandmother used to make it to go with some desserts, or sweet mains, and I just love the smell and taste. It takes me back to my childhood. So in a nostalgic way, I like these recipes with browned butter.

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I halved the amount of sugar for the zucchini bars and I used brown sugar. I knew that the frosting would be very sweet so it does work. The frosting is delicious. For me, it’s too sweet on its own – but that didn’t deter Master Meike’s Kitchen who ate half his slice but all the frosting…

I’m also not quite sure what all the black spots in the frosting are. Some are vanilla but other just appeared when I was browning the butter. Did I burn it?!

And I used the wrong pan to bake it in. Maths isn’t my strongest point and somewhere while converting inches into centimetres in my head it went topsy turvy. I ended up with very flat bars but it doesn’t matter. The taste is there. But next time I will use a smaller pan.

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Tomato-Mozzarella Tart & Caribbean Sunrise Muffins

It may be bread week on the Great British Bake Off but bread was not on my to-do list yesterday. I made a tart for lunch and muffins for dessert.

One of my auntie’s subscribes to the German magazine ARD Buffet which accompanies a TV programme. It’s very similar to the BBC Good Food Magazine. When she’s done with the magazines, I get them, usually six to 12 months later… So luck would have it that the other day I grabbed the August 2013 issue with a feature on tomato recipes. We’ve got some wonderful plants with great fruit this year so I thought it would be interesting to try something new.

I made a Tomato-Mozzarella Tart. The recipe is not on their website and I didn’t change it sufficiently to call it my own so just let me tell you that the base is shortcrust pastry. I put some wholemeal flour with the plain and there’s also some added fresh thyme. I should have taken some pictures because the process of making it produced some wonderful still lifes. The base which would probably benefit from blind baking (I didn’t do it) is covered with finely chopped mozzarella mixed with parsley, salt, pepper and chilli powder. Halved tomatoes are arranged on top of this cut side up. More of the same mozzarella mix goes into the gaps between the tomatoes. And finally everything is covered in a mix of sour cream and eggs, seasoned with salt and pepper.

Obviously it goes into the oven and when it comes out, the tomatoes are hotter than the centre of the earth. I let it cool down so it was just warm when we had it and it was lovely. The kids liked it (always a good indicator!), I liked it. I had another slice in the evening, cold, straight from the fridge, and that was very nice too.

Here are some shots, in the typical messy Meike-style:

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You know the usual logic of “since the oven is already hot, I might as well bake something else” … I had already some pineapple, including the juice, for this recipe in the freezer. We’ve got some fantastic carrots in the garden so this was all perfect for Caribbean Sunrise Muffins.

The recipe is from the BBC Good Food Magazine but it can also be found here. The only change I’ve made is – you can all sing along by now, I’m sure – a third less sugar for both types. These are really lovely muffins, so moist and tasty.

We took them to my auntie’s where we went to in the afternoon. We also had a bit of White Zucchini Cake left which I had kept back on purpose. I wanted to see how long it would stay fresh because Master Meike’s Kitchen and I are invited to a Christening next month and I’ve offered to bring a cake. However, we will be traveling there the day before so the cake will be at least two days old before we’ll have it. And I think it’ll be fine. The cake was still nice yesterday and by then I had baked the cakes four days before and frosted it a day later. My auntie asked for a second slice so there you have it. And she also kept a muffin for breakfast today… Everybody’s happy!

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White Zucchini Cake

You may have noticed that I’ve recently made a couple of recipes involving zucchini. We had Zucchini Brownies and Zucchini Snickers Cookies. I’ve also made Zucchini and Cheese Crusted Chicken Nuggets and they were really nice, just with a salad. I used only half the quantities of spice and substituted half the amount of cornflakes with oats and this worked out lovely.

Anyway, our zucchini plant has a habit of hiding fruit so we only find them when they’re the size of a newborn baby. Therefore I’m always looking for new ideas of what to do with it (I’ve actually got a board on Pinterest dedicated to zucchini recipes (that’s so saaaaad…).

On Sunday, we ended up having a zucchini menu. By accident, I hasten to add, not by design. The only thing missing was a zucchini soup as starter but there was no need to exaggerate. We had Cheesy Zucchini Rice as our main and the kids absolutely loved it. Miss Meike’s Kitchen had some from the leftovers this evening. She had actually asked for it. Really wonderful. And easy to make. It would go well with grilled meat or fish.

And for dessert, we’d made a White Zucchini Cake. The kids helped bake the cake the day before and this time they were really helping. I was impressed. I didn’t change anything about the cake recipe, apart from the third less sugar. We frosted the cake with Chocolate Frosting and it all goes really well together. A wonderful dessert and there’s no way of guessing that it contains zucchini.

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Baking Bread 24 and Cinnamon-Cardamom-Buns

I put in a baking day yesterday. And since Miss Meike’s Kitchen got me up at five in the morning, I started at twenty past six… I’m turning into a proper baker, soon I’ll get up at 2 am to do my baking… 😉

Anyway, I gave this Roggensauerteigbrot (rye sourdough bread) another go, after my first attempt ended in a not-so-nice loaf. This time I had the flour required at hand and so I stuck to the recipe. It turned out rather well.

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I left the bread as recommended in the recipe for 12 hours before slicing and it was so incredibly moist that it completely clogged up the blade of my mother’s electric slicing machine. The taste is fantastic and it feels slightly squidgy. Mister Meike’s Kitchen found it too nutty but that’s why he’s got his own bread…

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And his own bread is, once again, a Wiener Brot (Viennese Bread). What can I say? It turned out well. He’s happy.

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I probably should have scored it a bit deeper but by that time, Miss Meike’s Kitchen had decided to “help” and was busy poking the loaf with her fingers… I also think that I sliced it too early, it could have done with being left a bit longer.

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And since all this wasn’t enough work, I made some Cinnamon-Cardamom-Buns. I have tried out these Overnight Cinnamon Buns before, as well as these Cinnamon-Cardamom-Buns. I sort of merged them now. I used the recipe for the Overnight Cinnamon Buns as my base but added two teaspoons of ground cardamom (sugar reduced by a third, as always). For the filling, I halved the amount of cinnamon but think it needs to reduced down further. This time I didn’t let the buns rise overnight but just left the dough rise for two hours and let the buns prove for 30 minutes before baking as is the method for the Cinnamon-Cardamom-Buns. I forgot to brush the rolled out dough with melted butter before sprinkling the filling over it so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that a lot of it came out when I was rolling up the dough. I haven’t made up my mind yet whether I prefer the melted butter method or the cinnamon mixed into soft butter. I’ll have to mull that one over. I sprinkled the “lost” filling over the buns for baking and it turned beautifully caramelly. I left out the frosting because the buns are sticky enough as they are and it’s easier for the kids to eat them without.

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That was about five hours of intermittent bursts of baking activity and it was well worth it!

Zucchini Snickers Cookies

Guess what, I’ve been baking again… And so have Mister and Master Meike’s Kitchen. They went for Rock Cakes, a recipe they know by heart by now and can knock up in no time.

Here’s the pair of them mixing and shaping the Rock Cakes:

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The Rock Cakes are also being counted before going into the oven:

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Aaaaaaand ……. they’re done!

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In the meantime, I was mixing too – using this recipe for Zucchini Snickers Cookies from I am Baker. I used a third less honey, also only two Snickers bars (or rather the weight equivalent in fun-size ones) and I didn’t bother piping melted chocolate on top. Let’s just say, they’re lovely. Even Mr Meike’s Kitchen, who’d normally not touch a Snickers because of the peanuts, really liked them. One thing though I’d do differently next time: I used a tablespoon to portion the dough onto the baling sheet and I find the cookies are a bit big. Half the size would be alright too so next time, I’d use my (biggish) teaspoons.

The butter creamed with the honey and the added egg had a lovely colour:

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And the finished cookies:

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I reckon our biscuit tin is not going to stay full for long! 🙂

Baking Bread 23

I had a big baking day yesterday.

I made Paul Hollywood’s Bloomer. (The recipe is here.) I doubled the quantities to make two loaves but unfortunately they didn’t rise that well. I also realised the other day that the German equivalent for strong bread flour is not what I thought it was. I’ve always used type 1050 when a recipe asked for strong bread flour but apparently that’s a darker flour and would be the equivalent of very strong bread flour (which I’ve never seen in an ingredients list). Anyway, I tried it with a lighter flour this time (type 812) and to be honest, I can’t see a difference. The bread seems to be the same colour as before and it tastes the same to me.

Mister Meike’s Kitchen is happy and that’s all that matters. 😉

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I also made Muesli Buns. I’ve made them before and the kids really like them. This time I used a muesli laden with strawberries, apricots, mangoes and sour cherries for the buns. For the outside it was the Bircher muesli again since this would, in theory, work really well if I didn’t keep forgetting that raisins on the outside of baked good have a tendency to burn. They taste good though and the kids still love them.

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Last but not least I tried out Dan Lepard’s Linseed and Wheat Bread from The Handmade Loaf. (The recipe can be found here.) I made two small batons, from a total of 250g flour, and they were lovely. We had them with a stew for lunch and the kids loved them. They are rather crispy on the outside and lovely chewy on the inside. On the downside, they were rather dry the second day, which could have been due to them being so small. Maybe I’ll scale up the quantities next time to make a bigger loaf. Again, a winner!

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Second Birthday Celebrations

Yesterday it was Miss Meike’s Kitchen’s second birthday. This called for some special efforts from the baking department, i.e. me.

We had lovely, freshly baked Geburtstagsbrötchen (birthday rolls), or Sonntagsbrötchen (Sunday rolls) for breakfast. The recipe is here. I didn’t change anything but made a couple of mistakes that I got aware of when it was too late to do anything about them – I still got good results that we all enjoyed.

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The pièce de résistance however was the birthday cake, as it should be really.

Miss Meike’s Kitchen is not particularly into owls (she’s into Octonauts and cars) but I’ve lately made a lot of owl-related birthday presents for other children so owls are on my mind. Besides which, owls are cool. And I had already found a fantastic Owl Cake recipe. So an owl cake it was. I reduced the sugar to 300g and forgot the vanilla but it turned out really nice. It wasn’t too much work to decorate the cake and it was easy enough so that even my limited skills, or rather limited experience, were sufficient.

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Date Crunchy Dessert Pots & Zucchini Brownies

Dessert. Always have one with our midday meal, mostly just smallish portions, often containing fruit or yogurt, that sort of thing.

The other day, I made Date Crunchy Dessert Pots. I took a recipe for Date Crunchies, took it apart and put it back together again. (Basically, I deconstructed it in a lot more words…)

The recipe is from a colleague at the Scope home where I used to work (I’ve mentioned that a few times now). The lady used to work only weekends but lived round the corner from me and she gave me a couple of her family favourites.

Nan Nash’s Date Crunchies

200g chopped dates
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp clear honey

Simmer the dates, water and honey in a saucepan until the dates are soft.

225g flour
60g brown sugar
115g rolled oats
140g (or more) melted butter (depends how crumbly the mix is)

Put flour, sugar and oats in a bowl and mix together. Add melted butter and mix well.

And now we diverge heavily from the original idea of the Date Crunchies…

Preheat the oven to 175°C. Spread the oat mix like streusel on a baking tray and bake for about 25 minutes. Keep an eye on them that they don’t get burnt. Take out of the oven and let cool.

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Meanwhile, the dates have cooked to mush and have also cooled down a bit. Add a 150g pot of natural yogurt. Stir well.

To assemble: In a bowl, cup, glass or whatever takes your fancy, put first a layer of crumbs, then cover with the date mix.

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Add more streusel on top and enjoy! It’s nice while it’s still a bit warm but also rather nice chilled.

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And today I made Zucchini Brownies. I’ve been collecting zucchini recipes for some time since we usually end up with a glut of them at some point during the summer. I’ve never tried baking with them so I thought I’d give it a go. I found this recipe on the I am baker blog. I’ve got zucchini portions for the other two recipes lined up in the freezer too so we’ll get to them in due course. I reduced the sugar by about half and I think that was a bit too much, I should have stuck to my usual third. The brownie is quite crumbly but wonderfully chocolaty with a moist centre (despite being crumbly, if you know what I mean). We had some warm with vanilla ice cream on top and that was lovely. On their own, they might be just a tad too dry. And, in case the addition of zucchini worries you, you can’t taste it all nor can you see it.

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