Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Delights.

I celebrated Christmas Eve with myself. 
It's not a big deal in the U.S. but it's THE main holiday back in Germany so I wanted to make it special.
I skyped with my family for hours, went on a prolonged dog walk with Dewey - the puppy I'm dog sitting over the holidays - and then spent a good amount of time in the kitchen making myself some special food. 
Oh and I topped it off with eating too many Rocher chocolates and watching a German movie. 
A good day through and through, although I wish I could have been closer to my loved ones.

The food:
Sauerbraten (German roast), heirloom potatoes, cooked red cabbage, mousse au chocolate with vanilla whipped cream


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Plätzchen (Xmas Cookies).

Stars and crescents
create galaxies of sweet. 

Powdered sugar clusters, 
hazelnut comets,
orbit dishes
brought out for this special occasion.

After the holidays
only crumbs speck this universe.


Ochsenaugen / Sandwich Cookies

time 15 minutes preparation, 2 hours chilling, one hour cutting and baking, 30 minutes finishing
yields around 70 cookies (around 2.5cm in diameter)

400g all-purpose flour
200g butter, room temperature
3 (60g) egg yolks
100g sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. vanilla zest
50g ground hazelnuts


150g strawberry jam
juice of one lemon

100g powdered sugar

Place the flour in a large bowl. 
Cut the butter into small cubes and spread on top of the flour. 
Make a indentation in the middle of the flour and add the rest of the ingredients.
Knead everything until it comes together as a smooth dough.
Form into a flat ball and let chill, covered, for at least 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 390°F.
Roll out thinly, around 2-3mm and cut out rounds and rounds with holes in them to make sandwich cookies with the jam after baking. 
Place on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.
Let cool completely, then put tops and bottoms together.
Sift the powdered sugar over the sandwich cookies to cover them in a thin layer.
Heat the jam with the lemon and boil up once.
Let cool slightly, then using a funnel or a pastry bag (careful, hot!) fill the sandwich holes. 
Let cool and enjoy.

Nougatkipferl / Gianduja Crescents

time 20 minutes preparation, 3-4 hours chilling, 45 minutes shaping and baking, 30 minutes finishing 
yields around 50 crescents

100g butter, room temperature
200g gianduja (nougat / hazelnut chocolate)
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. himalayan salt
300g all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder

200g semi-sweet chocolate
50g coconut oil

Cream butter and gianduja until smooth.
You might have to soften both in the microwave.  
Add the egg, vanilla and salt and mix until smooth. 
Knead in the flour and baking powder until the dough comes together completely. 
Form into a flat ball, wrap in plastic wrap and leave to chill for 3-4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/ 375°F.
Divide the dough into two halves and roll out each one into a thin log. 
Cut into 6cm long pieces and roll into small crescents 'Kipferl'.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes until they brown slightly. 
Remove from sheet and let cool completely before dipping the ends in chocolate.
For the chocolate:
melt both the chocolate and coconut oil and mix to emulsify.
Let cool until 32°C/ 90°F.
Dip the ends of the crescents in the chocolate and set on a silicon mat or baking paper to harden.

Vanillekipferl / Vanilla Cresents

time 20 minutes preparation, 2 hours chilling, 45 minutes shaping and baking, 15 minutes finishing
yields around 50 crescents

50g ground almonds
50g ground hazelnuts
300g all-purpose flour
100g granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. himalayan salt
200g butter, at room temperature
2 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, scraped

100g powdered sugar
30g granulated sugar, ideally vanilla sugar

Place the flour and ground nuts in a large bowl. 
Cut the butter into small cubes and spread on top of the flour. 
Make a indentation in the middle of the flour and add the rest of the ingredients.
Knead everything until it comes together as a smooth dough.
Form into a flat ball and let chill, covered, for at least 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/ 375°F.
Divide the dough into two halves and roll out each into a thin log.
Cut into 5cm long pieces and roll into crescents.
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden-brown.
Still warm, transfer them carefully into the powdered sugar mixed with the granulated sugar and either toss to coat or dust the crescents with the help of a sieve.
Let cool.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunken Pear Chocolate Cake.


Those last autumn leaves; 
colorful crown 
encircling sweet. 

Lain to rest;
chocolate down-comforter 
beds maroon fruit. 

Late-afternoon light catches
worn marks on my fork, 
winter solstice nears. 


Sunken Pear Chocolate Cake

time one day ahead: 15 minutes to poach pears / 20 minutes cake prep / 45 minutes baking time
yields one 25cm / 10-inch cake 

4 pears
500ml red wine
250ml water
1 Tbsp. crushed cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1/2 vanilla bean

100g butter
100g sugar
100g semi-sweet chocolate
1 Tbsp. brandy
1 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. himalayan salt
100g toasted, ground almonds
4 eggs

A day before the bake:
peel pears, remove their cores and cut them into halves.
Heat wine, water and spices with the pears. 
Boil for a couple minutes, then take off the heat, cover and let stand overnight.

Preheat the oven to  175°C/ 350°F.
Distribute almond meal on a baking tray and roast for 3-4 minutes until golden-brown. 
Set aside to cool.
In the meantime, butter a 25cm / 10-inch cake tin or cast-iron pan. 
Also, drain the pears from the poaching liquid.
Melt chocolate and butter together, stir in brandy and leave to cool.
Whisk the egg yolks of three eggs with half the amount of sugar, cardamom, salt and last egg until pale and thick, then fold into the chocolate along with the almonds.
In a separate bowl, with a clean whisk, beat the whites with the second half of sugar until they reach a soft peak (try not to whisk them too stiffly or you’ll have trouble folding them in). 
Stir a spoonful of the whites into the chocolate mix, then carefully fold in the rest of them in 2 additions. 
Spoon into the prepared tin or pan.
Arrange the pears over the mixture.
Bake for around 45 minutes until the cake is cooked all the way through (toothpick test!).
Leave to cool, enjoy plain or with whipped cream.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Magazine feature.

Something cool happened. 
My face is smiling to you from a magazine.
Said German magazine is called 'Lust auf Genuss' (loosely translated to 'Delight in Treats'), a baking print. 
And my blog and I got featured on a four page spread. 
Also my Pumpkin Challah recipe is featured. 
If you can't grab a copy, here's a couple of photos.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Pumpkin Challah.


Pines and twigs,
a lovely scene, 
for braids
of soft, autumn orange.

Winter came, 
glaze like ice,
for mounds and valleys
specked with green.

Home is a scent, 
seasons reflected,
in pillows of spice
and warmth.


Pumpkin Challah Braid

time 20 minutes to make the dough, 2 1/2 hours for proofing, 40 minutes baking time, 10 minutes finishing
yields 2 medium braids of challah

10g active dry yeast

200ml lukewarm water
2 eggs
50g sugar

170g canned or fresh pumpkin puree
55ml vegetable oil
15ml olive oil
1 Tbsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice
700g all-purpose flour

1 egg for egg wash plus some water

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. water or milk

chopped raw pistachios (optional)

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and lukewarm water.
Whisk in the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, oils and salt.
Weigh the flour and spice into a bowl fitted to a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook.
Add the wet ingredients and let knead until smooth.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.
Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm environment for an hour.
Punch down the dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.
Divide the dough into two pieces with the help of a dough scraper.
Divide each of the pieces into additional four pieces and roll each one into a equally thick and long strand, around 25cm long.
Lay four pieces next to each other and pinch together the ends of the side farthest from you.
Starting from the right, weave it towards the left, going over, under and over.
Then again, take the now furthest strand to the right and repeat the process of weaving it towards the left, over the closest strand, under the next one, over the last one.
Repeat until you have reached the end of the strands.
Pinch together the dough at the ends and tuck under the braid, tucking on both sides.
Place loaves on a greased cooking sheet or silicone mat with space between.
Cover with a towel and proof for 30-40 minutes, or until the dough has gone up to 1 1/2 it's size.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 360°F.
Beat the egg with the water and brush the loaves.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until golden-brown.

in case of day-old bread - it's great to make french toast with!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Apple Rosemary Bread Pudding.


I know where to look, 
a steal from the brush, 
herb still fragrant in winter.

I cup the green orb;
polished sphere
soon to be roasted tender.

I inhale the scents, 
the oven's warmth provides comfort
not to mention the first soft bite.


Apple Rosemary Bread Pudding

time 30 minutes preparation, 45 minutes baking
yields one 2 Liter baking dish / 8-10 servings

500g day-old rosemary focaccia toast bread, largely cubed
alternatively artisanal toast bread and 8g fresh rosemary
100g honey
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
35g sugar
4 eggs
4 egg yolks
75g sugar
500ml milk
300ml cream
150g butter

Preheat the oven to 175°C/ 350°F.
Toss cubed bread with honey and put on large sheet pan.
Toast until crisp, approximately 15-20 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
In the meantime, toss apple with first amount of sugar and roast until tender but not mushy, approximately 10 minutes.
Beat eggs, yolks, and sugar with whisk, then add cream and milk.
Butter a 2 Liter baking dish.
Combine toasted bread and roasted apple and put in prepared dish.
If using fresh rosemary, mix in at this stage.
Melt butter and pour over bread evenly.
Pour custard over top.
Bake pudding for 45 minutes or until it is set.
Top will brown slightly.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Icey Gorge.

A cold spell hit Oregon.
With it came a biting chill, but the days were sunny and beautiful nonetheless.
After work we drove out into the Gorge for a hike, to Latourell Falls.
Water turned ice, leaves turned to brittle paper.
Howling wind up high.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Seasonal Panna Cotta.

Black specks
encased in silk. 
Brown freckles,
fragrant spices.
Season's greetings
in a jar.


Seasonal Panna Cotta

time 30 minutes prep, overnight chilling, 10 minutes finishing
yields eight 100ml ramekins
equipment ramekins

8g (1 Tbsp.) unflavored gelatin
35g water
400ml heavy cream
250ml whole milk
100g whole-milk Greek yogurt
1 vanilla bean, scraped
100g sugar

pumpkin butter and cranberries for finishing

Lightly grease the ramekins.
Either spray them with cooking spray, then use a paper towel to wipe out most of the oil, leaving only a light residue or use the oiled paper towel from the get go.
Bloom the gelatin by sprinkling it over the water in a saucepan.
Let sit for a couple minutes, then heat gently.
Once it is dissolved, add the cream, milk, yoghurt, vanilla and sugar.
After some minutes of warming, dip a spoon in the milk and check the back for distinct grains of gelatin or yoghurt, you want a smooth mixture.
Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared ramekins and put in the refrigerator to chill.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
To unmold, fill a large bowl partway with hot water.
Wipe a dessert plate with a damp paper towel (a damp plate lets you reposition the panna cotta more easily if it doesn't fall in the right spot).
Release the panna cotta edge from the cup: Run a thin knife carefully around the sides of a ramekin. Don't slide the knife all the way into the cup; just release the top edge of the pudding from the edge of the cup.
Dip the ramekin in the warm water up to its rim, and hold it there for about 3 seconds.
To unmold, invert the ramekin over the plate and shake gently to help the panna cotta fall out, or press gently on one side to help nudge it out.
It should fall out on the plate easily. (If it does not, return to the warm water bath in increments of 2 seconds.)
Serve with a dollop of pumpkin butter and sugared cranberries.

Homemade Pumpkin Butter

time 5 minutes preparation, 30 minutes cooking, couple hours cooling
yields 1 small jar

200g pumpkin puree
100g sugar
50ml high-quality apple juice or cider
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
large pinch of cloves

Mix all ingredients in a small saucepan.
Heat and bring to a boil.
After the initial boil, turn down the heat and leave it to thicken, stirring once in a while to insure the pumpkin does not burn.
Once it has thickened to your liking (for me it took around 20 minutes), transfer to a jar, cover the surface with plastic wrap and let cool.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chocolate Gingersnap Cookies.


like the clouds that harken this season. 
turn on those fairy lights.
spices accompany fruity and smokey notes.
and sweet, in all the good ways.


Chocolate Gingersnap Cookies

recipe adapted from 'Mast Brothers Chocolate'

time 30 minutes preparation, 30 minutes baking
yields 12 cookies

100g unsalted butter
100g brown sugar
85g molasses
20g water
15g freshly grated ginger
200g all-purpose flour
5g cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
180g chocolate, 70% cocoa content

200g granulated sugar for tossing

Cream butter with brown sugar until fluffy.
Add molasses, water and fresh ginger and combine.
Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg and combine.
Add chocolate and mix just enough to blend into a dough.
Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours
Preheat the oven to  175°C/ 350°F.
Shape the dough into 3.8cm/ 1.5in balls and roll them in granulated sugar.
Place cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 14 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool.