Galettes are my favorite things to bake, because they are so easy. They can be sweet or savory, with fruits or vegetables, vegan or with butter. In the summer, they are obviously a perfect way to eat lots of summer fruit. Plums, nectarines, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apricots or figs all work great as toppings. Serve it with ice cream or whipped cream if you like.
Sweets and bakery
The last few weeks have been quite eventful for me and I can’t wait for the beginning of the summer break. In such exciting and hectic times it’s nice if something works out without much effort or any trouble, as was the case with this improvisational vegan recipe, which resulted in a not only edible but delicious cake. It is sweetened only with raw cane sugar and rice syrup and contains (soy) yogurt instead of eggs and olive oil instead of butter. The rhubarb is roasted for a few minutes first, so it becomes a little sweeter, even though I really like the special slightly sour taste of rhubarb.
[Read more…] about Rhubarb and hazelnut cake (vegan)
Berlin is full of elderflowers right now. People are making elderflower cordial, there’s elderflower jam and even elderflower sorbet. My mother used to make something called Hollerkuechle, fresh elderflowers dunked in a thin batter and then fried in oil and dusted with sugar. It was delicious! I didn’t manage to replicate that yet, but I did experiment a little with elderflower cakes. This one turned out the best: moist and fluffy. I used a simple recipe for a vegan lemon cake as a base (found on The Ethical Chef), and adapted it with the elderflowers and by adding a little coconut cream. Actually the elderflower, lemon and very light coconut flavor worked really well together. You need elderflower syrup for this, so this cake requires a little advance planning. The syrup is really easy to make though if you have access to some elderflowers (I adapted the recipe from the lovely blog Glasgefluester)- and of course it can be used in many delicious ways in drinks and desserts. Make sure to wash the flowers carefully before using though, bugs seem to love elderflowers as much as we do!
I can’t wait for spring and all the fresh fruit and vegetables it will bring. For now I turned to citrus – again – I was looking for a recipe for an orange cake and came across this one from Greece. Since I also had some phyllo dough languishing in the freezer I decided to give it a go. I wanted to make a vegan or at least egg-free version though. I love eggs and dairy, but I’m trying to eat less of them, so I’m usually looking for ways to replace them when baking. Ground flax seeds work well for this purpose. Here the (vegan or regular) yogurt, olive oil and orange juice add moisture and the phyllo gives the cake some structure. It’s light and refreshing and has a lovely custardy texture, especially once it has soaked up all the delicious orange-cinnamon syrup at the end.
Finally I was in enough of a holiday mood to bake some cookies. I had this planned for a while – after all, Germany is famous for its abundance of x-mas sweets and bakery, even though I’m usually just glad when this season is over :) These vanilla flavored cookies are shaped like little half moons and one of the classic types of cookies for x-mas. I made them vegan, using coconut oil instead of butter. You may have seen this very useful post on baking with coconut oil. It’s indeed a bit tricky and I’m still experimenting with the right consistency. What I found in this case is that it’s important to bake the cookies at relatively low temperature so they don’t dry out too much, and to store them in a warm place so they stay crumbly and soft. I used a ‘real’ vanilla pod here and would really recommend it, but using a bit more vanilla flavored sugar or a few drops of vanilla extract is an alternative option. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!
My kitchen is by no means complete – I don’t own a cast iron pan for example, nor a proper food processor and not even a set of tea cups. But I happen to own a special mill to grind poppy seeds. I sort of inherited this from my grandmother, who as I’ve mentioned before was an amazing baker. I also happen to love poppy seeds. So now the time had come to use this little mill and make a poppy seed cake, or what we call Hefezopf, a simple yeasted cake with poppy seed filling, rolled up, then cut in half, braided and baked. I think this type of pastry is common all over central Europe, I’m not even sure where it originates from. It can be eaten just like that for breakfast or tea, or with a little butter or margarine and jam or honey. Note that poppy seeds are so tough that it’s difficult to crush them with anything else than a special grain mill. So when you buy them, make sure to get the ones that are already ground. Apart from that this cake/roll is quite straightforward. It can be made vegan or non-vegan, both are equally good. If you don’t like raisins, use dried apricots or dates instead.
Something that’s really in season right now here in Berlin is apples. I got these rosy and pretty ones yesterday, so it was kind of obvious to try baking rose apple tarts. I’d seen and admired pictures of those but had no idea how to make them. After some research, I learnt that there are different methods, of course – the one I chose here seemed to be the easiest, as demonstrated in this lovely video. For the dough, I went back to my trusted olive oil mix and it worked well, again – it’s admittedly not the easiest dough to roll out thin (in the pictures you can see the parts that look a little chunky), but with patience and a bit of force I managed to get it in shape. The result were tiny and delicious tartlets, perfect for a Sunday afternoon.
So, I ventured into vegan baking again. Yey! Inspired by the season (and this lovely post on gingerandbread.com on German plum traybake aka Zwetschgendatschi), I wanted to bake something with plums – but I didn’t have enough fruit to fill an entire tray. I found a nice recipe for a smaller plum galette by Jacques Pépin on Food and Wine Magazine and decided to veganize it – preferably with the help of olive oil, as recommended by some of you (and by Molly Yeh, who has a mouth-watering recipe for olive-oil based plum cake). [Read more…] about Vegan plum tart
Today I made an attempt to re-create one of my grandmother’s recipes. My grandmother was from Vienna and (unlike me) an expert baker. For ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’ (coffee and cake – an afternoon tradition of a sweet meal between lunch and dinner) she would always serve several cakes – her famous Viennese Sachertorte for example, a German cheese cake, something with fruit, and maybe some leftover Streusel, all with lots of whipped cream. Her handwritten recipes couldn’t be any shorter, unfortunately – so I tried my best figuring it out. The result didn’t really resemble Omi’s cakes at all, and I had to improvise a bit along the way, but it did taste ok in the end :) [Read more…] about Omi’s berry fruit tart