Tag Archive for Cake

Dutch food: poffert

Poffert is a traditional regional dish from the province of Groningen (where I come from), although a similar dish can be found in other parts of the Netherlands. It is a cross between a steamed pudding, bread and bundt cake/gugelhopf and is very filling, especially because it was served with a generous pat of butter and lots of brown sugar or stroop. That was why it usually was eaten as a main, and in winter. It was often cooked when the whole family needed to work on the land, and there was no time to cook. The batter was made, placed it in the pan and a few hours later there was food, while she could do other things. By richer people it sometimes was eaten as dessert or snack, and nowadays it is more of a special treat. But you know that a dish is popular when there is a a small village (about 15 houses, 3 farms and a small shipyard) named after it: de Poffert is located between Hoogkerk and Enumatil. The village was named after the tavern called de Poffert, that was there because de Poffert used to be an important quay for tug-boats, especially during the sugar beat campaign in fall (there was, and is, a sugar refinery in Hoogkerk). The captains used to eat loads of things made with flour, hence the name of the tavern.

Real poffert is cooked au bain marie in a special ‘pofferttrommel'(literally poffert bin), a bundt shaped pan with a lid. Some people line the tin with slices of bacon before filling it with batter, to prevent sticking. Nowadays people often cook the poffert in an oven instead of au bain marie (in my opinion you make something else than poffert in that case), and use other kinds of dried fruit as well, or even make a savoury variant with bacon and smoked sausage. It is not necessary to have the special ‘pofferttrommel’ to make poffert, you can also use a heat-proof bowl or a bundt pan that you cover with aluminium foil or baking paper secured with a bit of kitchen rope. There are even people that use a small pan that fits inside the larger pan.

Poffert is normally eaten with (molten) butter and brown sugar or stroop, but you could also use apple butter instead of the stroop. Some people serve theirs with cinnamon and brown sugar, but I think poffert does need the moisture from butter or something else. Not traditional, but delicious options are a splash of cream, vanilla sauce or toffee sauce.

Poffert

Poffert (for a bowl or tin that can hold 2 liter, serves 4 generously)

250 g flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
scoop of sugar
100 g raisins
200 ml lukewarm milk
1 egg
accompaniments of choice

Mix all the ingredients to form a nice batter. Pour it into your pofferttrommel or the tin/bowl you are going to use. Place into the large pan with warm water. Place the lid on top and leave to rise for an hour. Then turn on the heat and cook the poffert in about an our. Control with a sateh stick if the poffert is ready, the stick should come out clean. Serve warm with your accompaniments of choice.

Note: you can also make poffert with self-raising flour (quite a luxurious variant) instead of yeast, and sometimes half wheat and half buckwheat flour was used.

German chocolate cake

Cakes (and other desserts) made with chocolate are almost always very heavy and dense, while fruit-based desserts tend to be lighter. But I don’t think that is necessary. This cake is a perfect example for that, it is very light, fluffy, moist, almost as if you are eating clouds, but still has a good chocolate flavour. I served the cake sliced without any accompaniments, which was perfect for the occasion… something special, but not over the top. It doesn’t need any accompaniment to become tasty, it holds itself well on its own. A small plate or napkin is certainly necessary to catch crumbs, bits and pieces, because it is such a delicate cake. Therefore I’m not sure if it would work to fill the cake, or that it would collapse completely. The cake does keep quite well, even after 2 days it is still very moist and delicious.
What this cake has to do with Germany, I don’t know. I’ve been a lot in Germany, but never came across a cake like this. It probably evolved in some way, or is just called German for mysterious reasons (just like Dutch apple pie that isn’t Dutch at all).

German Chocolate Cake

German chocolate cake (1 cake)
Adapted from “Wedding cake art and design: a professional approach – Toba Garrett”

55 g unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate
60 ml boiling water
115 g butter, softened
225 g sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, separated
140 g cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
120 ml buttermilk
Oil and flour for the tin

Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease and flour the cake tin.
Break up the chocolate in small chunks and place in a bowl. Add the boiling water and let sit until the chocolate is molten, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth.
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla, mix in. Add the egg yolks one at a time, mix until fully incorporated. Slowly add the chocolate while mixing.
Mix cake flour, salt and baking soda together (sieve when lumpy). Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mix until just incorporated. Then add 1/2 of the buttermilk, mix again until just incorporated. Repeat with 1/3 flour mixture, remaining 1/2 buttermilk and remaining 1/3 flour mixture. Take care not to over-mix.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites to medium-stiff peaks. Mix 1/3 of the whipped egg white with the batter, then carefully fold in the rest of the egg white.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Vanilla cupcakes

Very light and fluffy cakes. Eat them plain, frost them, or fill with jam/lemon curd. Also perfect for people who find standard cupcakes made with butter a bit heavy.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Vanilla cupcakes (12 cakes)
Slightly adapted from a recipe from the course Child Nutrition and Cooking by Stanford University via Coursera

4 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 tbsp milk
1/2 cup cake flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a cupcake tray with paper liners.
Separate the eggs. Whip the whites to stiff peaks.
Add sugar and vanilla extract to the yolks and whip until yellow and creamy (a few minutes). Add salt and milk, whisk. Add flour and baking powder, whisk until just combined.
Add 1/3 of the whipped egg whites to the yolk-mixture. Mix in (this is to lighten up the mixture). Add the rest of the egg whites and carefully fold through.
Divide the batter over the cupcake holes. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the top is golden and a skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool for about 10 minutes in the tray, then take out and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Variations: use grated lemon zest or chai spices instead of the vanilla for a different flavour of cupcake.

Dutch food: Stroopwafelarretjescake

Why would you make something with dry, plain and boring biscuits if you can make it with rich, caramelly, flavoursome stroopwafels? Arretjescake is a traditional Dutch treat, originally made with biscuits, sugar, fat for deep-frying (either beef fat or something plant-based) and cocoa powder, although the exact ingredients are different according to the region, and the same kind of cakes are made in other countries as well. It is not a cake in the traditional sense of the word, and it has to firm in the fridge instead of being baked. It became popular in the Netherlands after the recipe was in a promotional booklet from an oil/fat/margarine factory. The “Nederlandsche Oliefabrieken (NOF) CalvĂ©-Delft” used the booklet, made in comic book style and figuring Arretje Nof as the main character, to promote the use of their products (hence the name of the cake).

I had to search quite a bit for a recipe, because I wanted one that used real chocolate for taste. I also wanted it to contain no eggs, because I was to serve it to a company with some kids present (which can’t safely eat raw eggs, just as pregnant woman, the elderly and immunocompromised people cannot). I also did not want to use beef fat because I was not sure if there would be any vegetarians present, and I dislike the use of margarine-like products so I did not want to use plant-based hard fat for deep-frying as well. But to keep it authentic I wanted to use some kind of hard fat, so I used extra virgin coconut oil. It worked great and gave the whole thing a tiny, mild flavour of coconut. I loved this, and haven’t heard from anyone that didn’t like it, but when you are an intense coconut hater I can imagine that even this tiny bit of coconut flavour is too much. Futhermore I chose a recipe that did not use extra sugar, because using stroopwafels instead of biscuits makes it already sweeter than it would normally be.

It is definitely best to serve this cake in tiny portions because it is so rich, and either directly from the fridge or only about 15 minutes left on room temperature, because it tends to melt quite fast. The fast melting can be a nuisance, but also makes it extra tasty because it makes the cake extra melt-in-the-mouth. Because of the liquid in the chocolate mixture, the stroopwafels get softer and almost melt into the chocolate mixture, and the sweet and creamy chocolate and the caramelly stroopwafels combine perfectly. If you want to make this in advance, you can. Just make sure you cover it well and keep it in the fridge, it should last for a few days.

Stroopwafelarretjescake

Stroopwafelarretjescake
Inspired on a recipe from Dr. Oetker 1000 Die besten Backrezepte

100 g dark chocolate
200 g milk chocolate
75 g coconut oil
100 g cream
8 g (1 packet) vanilla sugar
400 g (1 packet) stroopwafels

Prepare a muffin tin (20×26) or a cake tin (25×11) by lining it with cling film. Use a muffin tin when you want to serve the arretjescake in small squares (as I did), use a cake tin when you want to serve it in slices.
Chop both chocolates and place it with the coconut oil and the cream in a heat-proof bowl. Place this above a pan with boiling water to melt everything au bain marie. Stir occasionally and take from the heat when molten. Add the sugar and mix well.
Start by placing a layer of stroopwafels in the tin. Cut them according to the size of your tin, I used 2 stroopwafels cut in halve and a whole one placed in the middle. Alternatively you can use mini-stroopwafels or chop up the stroopwafels and place a layer of this in the bottom of the tin. Pour over a thin layer of the chocolate mixture. Place another layer of stroopwafels, then again pour a thin layer of chocolate on top. Repeat until you’ve used up both the stroopwafels and the chocolate mixture.
Place the stroopwafelarretjescake for at least 5 hours in the fridge, but preferably overnight. Use the cling film to release it from the tin after cooling, cut with a sharp knife and serve immediately.

Dutch Food: Boterkoek

Boterkoek (literally butter cookie bar) is a much loved pastry in the Netherlands. It is a flat and round, and made with lots of butter (hence the name). Because it is very rich, it is best to serve small portions. And because butter gives this pastry not only its name, but also its flavour, it is best to use a very good butter.

Boterkoek

Boterkoek
From “Blueband Kookboek Gebak”

125 g butter
100 g fine sugar
1 packet of vanilla sugar (8 gram)
pinch of salt
150 g flour

Cream butter, sugar, vanilla sugar and salt together. Stir through the flour until a rough dough forms, then knead by hand until the dough is smooth. Wrap in cling film, then leave to rest for 1 hour in the fridge.
Grease a 24 cm boterkoek tin (or springform). Preheat the oven to 200C.
Take the rested dough. Press it out into the tin. Use a blunt knife to decorate the boterkoek with a pattern (optional) and brush with a little cold water. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Leave to cook the boterkoek in the tin, then carefully remove it.

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

I really don’t like overripe bananas. A banana should have a yellow skin with a little green at the tip, or I will not eat it. If I’m putting them in a smoothie, it is acceptable that they have a few brown spots. But any darker than that, and I will not eat them in any way, period. Until I found this recipe. Even though I find banana bread revolting (just like everything that is prepared with banana), because it has that sweet, sickly, yucky taste of over-ripe bananas, it kept intriguing me. Wouldn’t the dark chocolate counterbalance the banana? So when I had too much over-ripe bananas (my husband would not finish eating them in time before they would be really to far gone to be edible) I figured I should give this recipe a try. And I was very happy that I did, because this banana bread is delicious! My husband thought so too, and most other people that tasted it also found it very tasty. There were some people that though the banana flavour was a bit subtle, but I thought it was perfect, it was there but it was not overpowering. The chocolate is definitely the main flavour, and the bread is lovely moist (that is why it keeps quite well).

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Double Chocolate Banana Bread
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 very ripe bananas (for a heaped cup mashed banana)
115 g butter
145 g brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 packet vanilla sugar)
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
125 g flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
170 g semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease a loaf pan.
Mash the bananas in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in melted butter, then brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Place baking soda, salt, flour and cocoa powder in a sifter or fine-mesh strainer and sift over wet ingredients, or add immediately without sieving if your cocoa powder is not lumpy. Mix dry and wet ingredients together until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks or chips.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean (or with some molten chocolate on it). Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The banana bread will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature wrapped in foil.

Coconut Bread

Because this bread is a quick bread (no yeast and rising required), it is fast to prepare. Also, the texture is more like cake than like bread. Delicious to eat plain, with some butter or a drizzle of honey.

Coconut bread

Coconut Bread (1 loaf of bread, for a loaf/cake pan of about 23x13x8 cm (8 cup/2 liter))
From Smitten Kitchen

2 large eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
140 gram sweetened flaked coconut (I used unsweetened dessicated coconut, works fine too)
85 gram butter, melted

Heat oven to 175C.
Whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla.
Mix together flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add sugar and coconut, and stir to mix.
Pour in egg mixture, then stir wet and dry ingredients together until just combined. Add butter, and stir until just smooth; do not overmix!
Butter and flour a loaf pan. Spread batter in pan and bake it for 1-1 1/4 hours, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool in pan five minutes, before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Apple Crumble Cake

I love baking new recipes and spending time on complicated projects, but it is good to have something easy up your sleeve that can be made with pantry ingredients which is perfect for unexpected visitors and busy days. This cake is very simple to make and only uses the basic ingredients that I (and most other people) always have available, and definitely shows you that you can make stunning things with few ingredients. The soft and fluffy vanilla cake layer, the moist and slightly tart apple layer spiced with cinnamon and the crispy crumble topping complement each other very well.

Apple Crumble Cake

Apple Crumble Cake (12 squares)

cake layer
100 g butter
100 g sugar
salt
vanilla
2 eggs
100 g self-raising flour

apple layer
2 apples
3 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

streusel topping
40 g brown sugar
40 g sugar
60 g butter
pinch of salt
vanilla
100 g flour

Line a 16 x 20 cm baking tin. Without lining it is almost impossible to get the cake out of the tin in one piece, because it is very moist (due to the apples) and therefore quite vulnerable. Preheat the oven to 160C.
Start with the cake layer. Cream the butter and sugar together, mix in the salt and vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after adding. Beat the mixture until light and fluffy. You can do this steps by hand, but I usually use a hand mixer. Fold in the self-raising flour carefully with a spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin and even it out. Scrape the bowl well, so you can re-use it for the other two layers, reducing the amount of dishes used.
Then prepare the apple layer. Peel, quarter and core the apples, then cube them. Mix with the raisins, sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the cake batter in the baking tin. Push the apple down a little into the batter, this helps with creating an even streusel topping.
Lastly prepare the streusel topping (again in the same bowl). Cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar (again using the hand mixer). Add the salt and vanilla. Add the flour, mix well with the spatula. Spread out the crumbs over the apple in the baking tin. Sometimes the mix doesn’t make crumbs automatically, then use your hand to loosen up the mixture.
Place the baking tin in the preheated oven, bake for about 40 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean.

Almond cake

For my last festive cake, I wanted to use something else than my trusty simple pound cake recipe. Nothing too complicated, the construction and other components of the cake also take quite some time, but just something different.

I found this in a recipe for almond pound cake. A variation on a normal pound cake, using some almond paste for moistness and flavour. And indeed, the cake was very flavoursome, with a rich almond taste, and was very moist. Because of the almonds, it kept also very well, it stayed perfectly moist for a few days. But if you are looking for a light and fluffy cake, this is not it, it was quite dense and heavy (but not in a negative way).

Almond Coffee Concord cake

This is the cake I made with it: Almond Coffee Concord Cake. It has three layers of almond pound cake, is filled and iced with Italian buttercream flavoured with coffee extract and is decorated with chocolate meringue logs. The mellow coffee flavour complements the almond of the cake very well. The meringues get gooey from the moisture in the buttercream, which gives them a nice contrasting texture, and of course the chocolate flavour complements the coffee and almond very well. Overall a cake with stunning looks and a great taste!

Almond Pound Cake (1 cake/24cm)
from The Professional Pastry Chef – Bo Friberg

115 g almond paste (this is basically a paste made with half ground almonds and half sugar)
85 g sugar
155 g butter
3 eggs
100 g bread flour
100 g cake flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
90 ml milk

2 egg whites
85 g sugar

Brush a spring form with butter and coat with flour. Set aside. Preheat the oven at 190C.
Combine the almond paste, sugar and butter. Cream until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one.
Mix in the lemon zest, vanilla and milk.
Fold in both flours, the baking powder and the salt.
Make a meringue with the egg whites and sugar, by beating the egg whites until foamy and gradually adding the sugar until stiff peaks form. Because of the addition of the sugar it is really difficult to overwhip the egg whites, so make sure you beat them long enough to make them really stiff. Carefully mix the meringue in three portions through the cake batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared spring form and bake for 35 minutes in the preheated oven (in my oven it took quite a bit longer). A skewer should come out clean.
Leave 5 minutes to cool, then unmold and leave to cool further on a cake rack.
Sprinkle with icing sugar for a simple finish, or use as layers in a layer cake. This cake can also be baked very well in bundt pans.

Fruit delice and chocolate pear cake

Delice (fruit-moussetaart)

This delice consist of three layers. The first is a sponge layer, soaked with simple syrup and fruit puree. The second is a mousse layer, made with cream, Italian meringue, fruit puree (in this case forest fruits) and fruit juice/liqueur, all set lightly with gelatin. The top is a fruit glace, made with a mixture of fruit puree and simple syrup. It tastes really fruity, creamy and light as a dream. The amount of gelatin is just right, so that the mousse is barely set, making it even lighter. You can find the recipe of this tart in James Martins Dessert book.

Pear and chocolate cake

This pear and chocolate cake is a variation on my basic cake recipe. Just make half a recipe of cake batter, spread it out in a tin and neatly arrange slices of pear on top. It is best to push them down a bit to prevent the edges to burn. Because the cake is much thinner than normal, it only needs 30-45 minutes to bake. After letting  the cake cool down, you can melt some chocolate, put it in a piping bag with a small hole, and decorate the cake with it. The combination of cake, pear and chocolate works great!