A friend (who really knows the the way to this girl’s heart) gifted me with Luisa Weiss’s Classic German Baking for my birthday back in July. The summer was so full (and hot) that I rarely turned on the oven, but now that Fall is in full swing (and I’ve been watching The Great British Bake Off on Netflix), I was itching to get back to baking and trying some new recipes!
Having done our traditional apple picking trip a few weeks back, I’m up to my eyeballs in apples, even after having made two pies, but Classic German Baking was ready for me with three different Apfelkuchen recipes. I fully intend to try all three in the coming weeks, but based on what was in my pantry/fridge, I went with the Versunkener Apfelkuchen first, which also happens to be the simplest of the three. And since the recipe declared it “great for people baking with small children” I asked Little Miss Cleaver to help out. (The smiley face was all LMC’s idea and execution).
The high egg and butter content makes the cake-crumb similar to that of a pound cake and the batter is lightly flavored with lemon-zest, making it a bright alternative to the cinnamon and nutmeg-heavy desserts typical of fall and making it suitable as a spring and summer dessert too. The raw sugar sprinkled on the top before baking gives the top a pleasing crunch. I didn’t have any cream on hand to make whipped cream, but it would be nice finish to this simple, but pleasing dessert.
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German Sunken Apple Cake (Versunkener Apfelkuchen)
Easy enough to whip together on a weekday and fun to make with kids, this classic German cake combines apples and lemon zest under a raw sugar crust for a bright and delicious dessert.
3 medium apples
1 medium lemon, scrubbed
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons (125g) granulated sugar
9 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (130g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks and at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, room temperature
11/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons demerara (raw) sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9” round cake pan (or springform pan) with an oil-based spread (like Crisco or baking spray) and line the bottom of the pan with parchment.
Peel the apples, then core and slice into 8ths (I use a corer/slicer to make quick work of this).
Zest the lemon into a bowl with the butter and sugar. Cut the lemon in half and juice one half. Strain any seeds and set the juice aside.
Using a sturdy wooden spoon or mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla extract and one egg, mixing until fully combined. Add remaining eggs one at a time, fully combining each egg before adding the next.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the lemon juice and flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing until just combined.
Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Arrange the apple slices with the core side down in a circle around the edge of the pan, pressing down slightly, so each slice is secured in place. Take the remaining apples and place in the center. Sprinkle the top of the cake generously with demerara sugar.
Place pan in the center of the oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a tester comes out clean.
Let the cake cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing pan. The cake should be firm enough that it should be easy to move without disturbing the apples.
Enjoy at room temperature with some lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Adapted from Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss
German Sunken Apple Cake Versunkener ApfelkuchenServes 8 Ingredients: 3 medium apples 1 medium lemon 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons (125g) granulated sugar 9 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (130g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks and at room temperature 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 eggs, room temperature 1 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 Tablespoons demerara (raw) sugar
Little Miss Cleaver just turned five in March. (I know, I have no idea how that happened so fast either).
To celebrate such a momentous occasion, we had a big friend birthday party about a week before the actual day. But, in LMC's words, the "real party" was the one with family on her actual birthday. So even though we were solidly cupcaked-out by that point, a cake was still in order. Enter this deeply chocolaty, but petite cake - just enough for the three of us to handle and cute to boot.
There are hundreds of chocolate cake recipes out there, so I'll just say that this one was still really moist after three days at room temperature and I use my blog as my own personal recipe box and I wanted to put this out there so I can remember it for the next birthday.
This recipe will fill any of the following:
- One 9" cake pan
- Two 6" cake pans
- About 10-12 cupcakes
- Or a really thick 6" cake, plus a small ramekin. (which is what I did).
Small and Simple (-ly Delicious) Chocolate Cake
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbl unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbl sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 3 Tbl cold coffee
- 3 Tbl milk
- 4 Tbl salted butter, softened
- 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- up to 3 tbl milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Optional (lots of sprinkles to decorate)
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F. Grease pan(s) and coat with cocoa powder or use liner if making cupcakes.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combine coffee, milk, and yogurt.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla to sugar and mix until well combined.
Starting and ending with the flour mix, alternate adding flour mix and yogurt mix to sugar/egg mix, making sure batter is thoroughly combined before each addition.
Scrape batter into prepared pan(s), keeping the distribution as even as possible if using multiple pans.
Bake cake until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Start your timer at 20 minutes and check every 3-5 minutes thereafter, cooking times will vary based on which pan you choose.
Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes then invert unton rack to cool completely before frosting.
To make frosting: Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add cocoa and powdered sugar to butter. Add milk a tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is achieve and then beat in vanilla.
To decorate as shown: Place a large amount pf sprinkles into a pie pan or rimmed baking dish. Frost sides, but not top of cake. Being very careful, tilt the frosted cake into the pie pan and roll until sides are coated with sprinkles. Gently place cake unto serving dish or stand and press sprinkles into the side as needed. Frost top of cake. To make number, print out number of choice in a very large font (I think I used Impact here) in the center of a 5" circle. Cut out number with sharp scissors or an craft knife. Place template gently on top of cake, trying not to stick it to the frosting. Pour sprinkles into your template, mushing them into the frosting gently with you fingers and carefully remove template.
Goes excellently with a glass of milk.
Adapted from Ghirardelli's Grand Fudge Cake (aka the one on the back of the cocoa powder bag).
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Small and Simple (-ly Delicious) Chocolate CakeServes 9 Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbl unsweetened cocoa powder 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 cup salted butter, softened 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbl sugar 1 tsp vanilla 1 large egg 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt 3 Tbl cold coffee 3 Tbl milk Frosting 4 Tbl salted butter, softened 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder up to 3 tbl milk 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1 1/2 teaspoons salt,
To say I have a love affair with putting citrus in my baked goods, would be putting it mildly. I generally feel that there are few things that aren't improved by bit a fresh zest, and this poundcake definitely falls into the better zesty category. With some added flavor from honey and aromatics from the inclusion of lavender buds, this is the perfect spring dessert. Not too sweet, with an excellent crumb, and easy to transport to your next picnic.
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Lemon Lavender Poundcake
- 3 large eggs -room temperature
- 3 Tbl milk
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour (or 1 cup + 5 Tbl all purpose flour + 3 Tbl cornstarch)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- Zest of one lemon
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 13 Tbl (1 stick + 5 Tbl) unsalted butter - room temperature
- Confectioner's sugar (less than a cup)
Lavender Lemon Syrup
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 4 Tbl honey
- 2 Tbl granulated sugar
- 1 tsp dried lavender buds
Make lavender lemon syrup by combining sugar, lemon juice, and honey in a small pan over medium heat and stirring until sugars are dissolved. Pour syrup over lavender buds in a heat proof container and cover. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 6-cup loaf pan or line with parchment paper (preferred).
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, shift together cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add lemon zest to flour mixture and combine.
Add half of the egg mixture and all of the butter to the flour mixture. Beat with a wooden spoon until ingredients are moist and well combined. Butter should be mixed well, throughout with no visible chunks. Gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, combining each fully before adding the next. Batter will be very thick.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly in container, smoothing the top.
Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean and top is a golden brown, about 55 minutes.
After baking, remove cake from oven. Keeping the cake in the pan, place on a rack and poke all over with a wooden skewer or long toothpick. Strain lavender buds from syrup and brush strained syrup generously over the top of the cake.
Let cake sit in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and place on rack. Brush sides generously with syrup. reserving about 1/8 cup of syrup. Add confectioner's sugar Tablespoon by Tablespoon to reserved syrup until it forms a thick, opaque glaze.
When cake has cooled, place on serving platter and pour glaze on top. Decorate with lemon slices and lavender as desired. To store, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.
Lemon Lavender Poundcake RecipeServes 8 Ingredients: 3 large eggs -room temperature 3 Tbl milk 1 1/2 tsp vanilla 1 1/2 cups cake flour (or 1 cup + 5 Tbl all purpose flour + 3 Tbl cornstarch) 3/4 cup granulated sugar Zest of one lemon 3/4 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 13 Tbl (1 stick + 5 Tbl) unsalted butter - room temperature Confectioner's sugar (less than a cup) 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 4 Tbl honey 2 Tbl granulated sugar 1 tsp dried lavender buds
Life can be intense sometimes. Flavors can be intense. While I love 70% dark chocolate with sea salt caramel as much as the next person, some days, I just don't want intense.
Some days I just want something easy to make and easy to eat.
These chocolate chip cupcakes hit on both marks. The simple cake base receives a punch of sweetness from mini chocolate chips and a few tablespoons of orange juice in both the batter and frosting keep it bright, without tasting overly citrus-y. The frosting is so easy, you'll wonder why you ever popped open a can.
As for being easy to eat? Let's just say that most times in my household, I end up eating the majority of my bakes because the rest of my family isn't all that into dessert. These cupcakes, however, were devoured two at a time and didn't last the weekend. :D
Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Quick Buttercream Frosting
Makes 20-24 cupcakes, depending on how full you fill the muffin cups.
- 2 1/3 cup cake flour (or 2 cups all-purpose flour + 1/3 cup cornstarch)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (room temperture)
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons orange juice
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- Slightly less than 1 cup milk
- 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
Measure out lemon and orange juice into a liquid measuring cup and add milk until total liquid is 1 cup. Set aside.
Using a wooden spoon or mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add vanilla to mixture.
In a separate bowl or sifter, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. If using bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
Starting and ending with the flour mixture, add flour and milk to egg/sugar mixture in alternating portions, fully incorporating each addition before adding the next.
Add chocolate chips and mix to combine.
Scoop batter into prepared pans, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Clean up any drips and place pans in the center of the oven and bake from 18-20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean and the top of the cake springs backs when touched.
After about five minutes, remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on a rack before frosting.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup salted butter, softened
- a pinch of salt
- 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
- 1 Tablespoon milk
- up to 1 Tablespoon orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
Melt chocolate in a double-boiler or microwave and allow to cool. Mix together powdered sugar, butter and salt until well-combined. Add melted chocolate, vanilla, milk and orange juice. Mix until well combined, adding additional milk or orange juice until desired consistency is reached. Frost cupcakes.
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I love baking for the Holidays. There's just something about the flavors of winter I find so appealing , the combination of nutmeg and cinnamon and citrus. The depth of molasses and wine. That's why this pairing is perfect combination for any winter gathering, and since there's a lot of overlap in ingredients, they're easy to make together.
Gingerbread Cake with Orange Glaze
Gingerbread is an obvious choice for the holidays, but this take on the classic has a soft and light crumb, and isn't overly dense or spicy, as I find some gingerbread to be. The cake is best when the spices are allowed to meld for a bit, so make the day ahead, if possible. For a spicier cake, increase the amount of ginger, or replace powdered with fresh. You may also increase the amount of molasses, as desired.
For the Cake:
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
- ½ cup molasses
- ½ cup brewed coffee, at room temperature
- 1½ sticks ( 1¼ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1¼ cups light brown sugar
- 3 eggs + 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
For the Glaze:
- 1½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 Tbl milk
- 2 Tbl orange juice
- Zest of 1 orange
- pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour or spray a 10-cup Bundt pan (I find Pam with Flour works the best for those tricky Bundt pans).
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until smooth using a wooden spoon or mixer. Add brown sugar and cream until light and fluffy, making sure butter is fully integrated and there are no visible chunks. Add eggs to butter mixture one at a time, mixing in completely before adding the next egg.
In a separate bowl, shift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
In a small bowl or cup, mix together room temperature coffee with the molasses.
Add the 1/3 of the flour to the egg/butter mix, then 1/2 the molasses, 1/3 of the flour, the remaining molasses, then the remaining flour. Mix until just combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan and snap against the counter to remove any large bubbles. Smooth out the top with a rubber spatula. Place in center of oven an bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let cake cool in pan for about 7 minutes, then turn onto a cooling rack. Let cake cool completely, transfer to serving plate, and then glaze.
To make glaze: mix all ingredients, adding liquid slowly until desired consistency is achieved. Pour over cooled Bundt cake, making sure to allow glaze to drip down both sides. Scoop extra glaze out of cake center and re-drizzle as desired.
Glühwein, or German Mulled Wine, is perhaps less familiar, but a wonderful addition to winter gatherings. I discovered Glühwein when searching for mulled wine recipes, and then immediately emailed a German friend for her take on the tradition. I've merged her recipe with some I found online, but mulled wine is something that is easy to vary to meet your own tastes. Throughout my wine-mulling process, I kept running to Mr. Cleaver with a hot mug and saying "taste this." We quickly ran through the batch at my knitting group's annual Christmas fête, so I think my test-taster served me well.
Glühwein - German Mulled Wine
- 1.5 L dry red wine
- 2 1/3 cup orange juice (juiced oranges + pre-made orange jucie)
- 2/3 cup brandy
- 4-5 oranges, peeled (see instructions below) and juiced
- 1 lemon, peeled and juiced
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 20 cloves
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- up to 1/3 cup sugar, to taste
Using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, peel all citrus into wide strips, avoiding as much of the bitter white pith as possible. Juice all fruit, making up the difference with pre-made orange juice as needed. Reserve some peels for garnish.
Combine wine, juice, remaining peels, and spices in a heavy covered stockpot. Bring pot to a low simmer. Add Brandy and continue to simmer. Add sugar to taste.
Serve hot, not warm.
What are your favorite holiday recipes? Share links below!!
The way these recipes are coming, people are going to start to think that the only place I ever ate decent food was in Portland, Maine and that I don't live in a rather major U.S. culinary city these days - because, yes, today's recipe was inspired by something I ate in Portland, Maine.
The restaurant in question today is Bibo's Madd Apple Cafe. This lovely and eclectic little spot is right next door to the theatre I used to work at. Actually it's the same building. In any case, this is one of my favorite eateries in the city and exactly what I like to think a cafe should be: classier and more adventurous than a diner or sandwich/burger joint, but not so intimidating that you couldn't eat lunch there. That is, a place a low-paid twenty-something could take both her friends and her parents. The jaunty atmosphere doesn't hurt either.
The first time I went there for lunch I sprung for dessert: the ever-so-delicious Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding Cake (with a warm chocolate center and whipped cream). Now as readers of this blog may know, I love me some banana bread. I also love me chocolate. So this dessert was right up my alley.
Though my Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe isn't the same as Bibo's (frankly, I'd have to try it again to get a better feeling of the dish), I'm pretty happy with how this variation turned out. This recipe is based on the aforementioned banana bread recipes and Clotilde's Chocolate and Zucchini Cake from her cookbook. I wanted a texture that was somewhere between cake and bread and this does that pretty well. The chocolate flavor is prominent, but not overly sweet and a sprinkle of powdered sugar makes a sweet compliment. I don't know if I'm completely finished with the recipe, but I've made a lot of banana bread in the past month or so, so I'm giving it a rest for now.
Chocolate Banana Bread Cake
(inspired by Bibo's Madd Apple Cafe and Clotilde's Chocolate and Zucchini Cake)
Makes 1 medium-sized loaf
- 2-3 overripe bananas
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup milk
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
- 4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate melted and mixed with 1/2 a cup of granulated sugar (or 4 oz. of chocolate chips).
- 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup wheat flour
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1½ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup unsweeted cocoa
- ½ tsp salt
- powdered sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 350° F
Break up the bananas and butter into a large mixing bowl. With a sturdy whisk, mash together the butter and bananas until mixed well - the butter will still be a little chunky, but should be about pea-sized. Add eggs, milk and lemon juice, adding the juice last. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix well.
In a separate bowl, mix flours, brown sugar, cocoa, soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix well. If desired, you could add some unmelted chocolate chips at this point. Pour into a greased loaf pan.
Bake 55-60 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Friday afternoon I received a call asking me to provide treats for this Sunday's coffee hour at my local Methodist Church. Now I'm not actually a Methodist, but I never turn down an excuse to bake, so naturally upon acceptance my first thought of what to make for the Methodists was "booze cake," specifically Sherry Nut Bundt Cake, henceforth known as SNBC.
My mother is a complete teetotaler and as a result there the only alcohol that ever made it into my mother's house was an occasional and random light beer that came home with my dad after a night out with some college friends and the cooking sherry for this cake.
The SNBC is a hand me-down from my Grandmother Leota and is a classic 50's recipe. The base of this almost-coffee cake/ rather bread like dessert is yellow cake mix and Jello pudding in a Bundt® Pan. If that doesn't scream post-war packaged food frenzy I don't know what does.
(an ingredient still life inspired by Pioneer Woman Cooks)
Sherry Nut Bundt Cake
1 pkg. yellow cake mix (no pudding in the mix!) 2 small packs of instant vanilla pudding 4 eggs 1 cup cream sherry ¾ cup oil ¼ cup sugar 2 tsp. cinnamon ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a Bundt® pan. Mix first five ingredients, adding oil last. In a separate bowl - mix sugar, cinnnamon and nuts together.
Pour about ¼ of the batter in the pan and sprinkle half of the nut mixture over the batter (I find this is easier to do uniformly if you use a spoon and not your fingers).
Top with 1/2 of the remaining batter and the remaining nut mixture.
Add the remainder of the batter.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a tester (I like to use a piece of spaghetti) comes out clean. Allow to cool before inverting. No need to frost, just give to your favorite Methodist as is and enjoy!