Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Riesling Rosemary Almond Savory Bundt Cake

Who doesn't love cooking with wine?  A cup for the recipe. A glass for me.

In German a bundt cake is called a gugelhupf and like in the USA, it comes it all kinds of sweet and savory flavors. To keep it proper,  I used Riesling for this German recipe.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Mini Apple Pecan Tarts in a Cinnamon Crust

My Fall denial is waning. I'm officially embracing the season. The proof is in this recipe I whipped up last weekend. 

In creating these German mini apple tarts, it wasn't enough to make them small and cute. I went overboard and made them apple shaped. Bring on the Fall.

These tarts are roughly four inches in diameter. Of the thousands of cookie cutters I have stashed in undisclosed locations, I could not seem to locate my large apple shaped one. I improvised by using the bottom of a small round spring form pan to cut circles out of the dough and then shaped them into apples with my fingers. 

Of course, these are just as delicious if you skip creating the apple shapes and bake them in mini tart pans.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sauerkraut Bratwurst Cheese Pie

This could easily be called a sauerkraut kitchen sink pie. The recipe can be adapted to use up whatever vegetables and meats you have left over in the fridge, adding them to the sauerkraut to fill up the crust. Leave the meat out entirely and add more vegetables for a vegetarian version. 

The version below, sauerkraut is simmered in white wine and then added to a medley of smoked bacon, bratwurst, onions, and peppers. Crème fraîche and cheese are mixed in and peppered with fresh herbs to complete the filling. If you don't have access to crème fraîche, substitute sour cream. 

This savory pie is a great brunch recipe but is just as tasty for lunch or dinner as well.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Blueberry Oatmeal Sheet Cake with Meringue Lattice

Meringue lattice people. Meringue lattice. I did not even know this was possible until I saw it in a German cooking magazine. I knew then and there I had to make one.

This beautiful sheet cake uses a whopping three pounds of fresh blueberries and serves an army of 24. Oatmeal is used in the crust of the cake as well as in the meringue itself. 

The meringue lattice is much easier to create than the dough version. Bake time in minimal and the cake comes together quickly.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Basil Marzipan Sweet Braid Bread

Ever since I can remember living in Germany I have oogled the sweet braided breads in the bakeries of whatever town I was in. They are a marvel. There are many varieties of this beautifully knotted golden goodness. Hefezopf (literal translation is yeast braid) originates from the south and is also popular in Austria and Switzerland. 

There are endless varieties on the traditional version. The one here uses homemade basil marzipan made with fresh basil leaves which is definitely the star ingredient. In most cases, marzipan is cheaper to make than buy. However, the store bought variety works just as well in this recipe.

The glaze is simply flavored with freshly squeezed lemon juice and topped with blanched almond leaves for crunch and an additional pop of flavor.

Another great excuse to use up the rest of the basil in your garden or whatever is left at the early fall farmers markets.
Basil Marzipan Sweet Braid Bread
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Rise Time: 1hr. 50 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes 
Yield: 1 dozen slices 


For the dough:
  • 3+1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 envelope (7grams) dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature 
For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 10 ounces marzipan* 
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
For the glaze:
(I doubled the amounts below for the basil braid in the photo)
  • 1+1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup blanched almond leaves
*recipe below


Make the dough:
  • Place the all-purpose flour in a large bowl and make an impression in the middle. 
  • Dissolve the yeast in 4 tablespoons of the lukewarm milk. Stir the softened yeast into the rest of the all-purpose flour. It should look like shredded dough. 
  • Cover the bowl with a dish towel and store in a warm place for 20 minutes. 
  • Retrieve the mixture. Sprinkle the white granulated sugar and salt over the top. 
  • Cut the butter into pieces and disburse them over the dough. Add the rest of the milk. 
  • Knead the dough with your hands until it becomes smooth. You can also use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment for this step. 
  • Once again, cover the bowl with a dish towel and store in a warm place for 60 minutes. The size of the dough should double in this time. 
Make the filling:
  • Add the water and white granulated sugar to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over low heat. When the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and set aside to cool completely. 
  • Add the cooled sugar water and the fresh basil leaves to a blender or food processor and purée. 
  • Add the marzipan in pieces pulsing to combine. 
  • Add one cup of the powdered sugar and pulse to combine. 
  • Add the remaining powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until the mass is the consistency of thick glue. It should not be runny, however, it should spread easily. If you add too much powdered sugar or the mass is still too thick, thin the consistency out by adding white corn syrup, one teaspoon at a time until it smooths out. 
Form the bread:
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Remove the dough from its warm place and divide it into three equal portions. You may want to use a kitchen scale to be precise. 
  • On a floured work surface, roll each portion out into a long rectangle, making sure the dough logs are of equal length and width. Brush the basil marzipan mixture onto the middle each of the three long rectangles leaving at least a one-inch frame on all sides. 
  • From the long side, roll each of the long rectangles up into a long strand. Place the three strands next to each other. 
  • Press the three ends of the strands together at one end and gently braid the strands, always placing the outer strands over the middle strand. Squeeze the ends together when you are done braiding. Place the braid on the parchment lined baking sheet and let it rest for another 30 minutes. 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the basil marzipan braid in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. 
  • Remove from oven, transfer to a wire rack. Set the rack over the baking sheet lined with baking paper and let cool completely before glazing. 
Make the Lemon scented glaze:
  • Whisk together the remaining cup and a half of powdered sugar with the freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest. 
  • Pour the mixture evenly over the baked basil marzipan braid. 
  • While the glaze is still wet, sprinkle the blanched almond leaves evenly over the top. 
  • Let glaze cool completely before cutting and serving. 
Homemade Marzipan Recipe:
  • 1+1/2 cups *blanched ground almonds
  • 1+1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater 
  • 2 tablespoons egg white
  • Light corn syrup and extra powdered sugar to adjust consistency if needed 
If you are using almond flour, skip the next two steps.
  • *To blanch raw almonds, boil them in water for one minute, rinse immediately in a colander with cold water and squeeze the skins off with your fingers. They will slip off easily. 
  • Pulse the blanched almonds and a tablespoon of powdered sugar in a food processor until they are completely pulverized. The powdered sugar will prevent the almonds from becoming paste. 
  • Add the 1+1/2 cups cup powdered sugar to the food processor and pulse until the almond meal and powdered sugar are combined. I like to take out the blade and use a whisk to break up any lumps that have formed and then replace the blade and pulse a few more times. 
  • Add the pure almond extract and the rosewater and pulse until combined. Add the egg white and pulse until the mixture becomes smooth. 
  • Wrap the mixture with plastic cling film, stow in a zip lock bag and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use. You can also freeze it. 
Makes roughly 18 ounces

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Apple, Leek Cashew Tart in Whole Wheat Crust

This tart is a cross between a tart and a quiche and stuffed with wonderful ingredients. Leeks, tart Granny Smith apple slices, sweet red bell pepper, and crunchy raw cashews are all nestled in a whole wheat crust.

The tart is topped with strongly flavoreGruyère cheese which enhances the savory taste. You can substitute Swiss variety if the Gruyère is too expensive or hard to find. 

A lovely fall savory tart option, this tart has many ingredients but comes together quickly. 

If you prefer, you can blanch the leeks in boiling water for 60 seconds before cutting them up to add to the tart. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Strawberry Gugelhupf

A German style Strawberry Bunt Cake with fresh & dried strawberries

A gugelhupf is basically a German and Swiss-style bundt cake. The European version of bundt cakes uses less sugar than their American counterparts.

A German style Strawberry Bunt Cake with fresh & dried strawberries

This version contains fresh and dried strawberries. Dried strawberries can be hard to get but if you live near a Trader Joe's, they have them. If not, try your local health food store.

I used pulverized fresh strawberries to color the glaze. No added food coloring in this recipe.

A German style Strawberry Bunt Cake with fresh & dried strawberries

One of the challenges of making a moist bundt cake is getting it out of the pan in one piece. I highly recommend greasing the bundt pan and then adding a layer of flour over the grease.

After the cake has cooled completely and is still sticking to the pan when you try to remove it, place the pan in the freezer for 20 minutes. This should help get the cake out in one piece.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Lavender Bee Sting Cake

Traditional Bee Sting Cake with Lavender pastry cream

So Summer is over. I'm pretending it's not because I plan on posting some of the best desserts I made these past months. 

For the first time in over 5 years of writing this blog, I fell off the posting wagon in a significant way. First, it was just because I've had the most amazing spring and summer filled with fantastic travel, great work, glittering events, new friends, and experiences. Then it was because I was too damn exhausted from living such a great life to write about it. I felt guilty (what blogger doesn't when they neglect their "baby"?) but I needed a blog break, physically and mentally. 

Yeah. First world problems.

Traditional Bee Sting Cake with Lavender pastry cream

Anyway, I will be posting about these adventures and recipes in the coming months starting today by sharing this Lavender Bee Sting Cake I made for

Baby steps people, baby steps.

One of the most beloved traditional cakes in Germany is called bee sting cake or Bienenstich in German.

The top layer has honey encrusted almond leaves. Baked as one layer as a sheet cake,  it is then cut in half and traditionally stuffed with vanilla cream. 

Not once I got ahold of it.

Traditional Bee Sting Cake with Lavender pastry cream

My flavor twist of substituting lavender pastry cream reinvents this classic in a big way. The combination of the crunchy honey, nutty top with the smooth flowery pastry cream is heavenly.

This recipe yields a significant amount so I recommend making it for a party or, alternatively, be sure you have lots of friends and family around to share it with.