Chocolate Hazelnut Scones

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The other weekend one of my sisters came over to visit me in London (that’s her in the photo holding the tray of scones).

A visitor is always a good reason to get baking, especially if they stay over night and you are going to have a leisurely brunch with them. A batch of home baked treats are a great way to make visitors feel welcome and scones are a quick and easy bake that you can’t do much wrong with, so give it a go.

The hazelnut-chocolate scones here are American scones and I therefore like to cut them in to triangles like they do over there, as opposed to British scones which are usually cut into circles. Of course you can cut them into whatever shape you fancy – squares maybe!?

For 8 scones you’ll need:

  • 280g plain flour, plus a little extra
  • 60g sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • a good pinch of salt
  • 90g cold butter
  • 120ml buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp of molasses syrup (maple and treacle also work)
  • 100g chocolate (I used 70% dark chocolate but if you want it sweeter go for 50 – 65% milk chocolate)
  • 55g whole, skinned hazelnuts

Roast the hazelnuts in a pan and ensure you keep moving the hazelnuts around as they otherwise easily burn. Once they have taken on a little colour take them out of the pan onto a chopping board and roughly chop them.

Chop up the chocolate into chunks of roughly the same size or a little bigger.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a baking tray with baking paper.

In a big bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb of soda and salt with a spoon. Add the butter, in little pieces and then get your hands inside to rub the butter into the flour mix until you have a crumbly mixture.

In a jug whisk the buttermilk, egg and syrup together, using a balloon whisk. Pour this liquid into the bowl with the dry flour crumbs, add the chopped chocolate and hazelnuts and quickly combine everything with a fork or spoon – only until just combined. You want a lumpy dough!

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and form a big circle with a thickness of around 2cm.

Cut this circle into eight triangles like you would cut a cake into eight pieces and line those on your prepared baking tray.

Bake for 20minutes until the have got a nice golden colour and the chocolate has started to ooze out of them.

Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes on a wire rack before tucking in!

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Easter Hot Cross Buns

 

HotCrossBuns_JaelMarschner-1Happy Easter

They came out a treat!
As per my previous post I know I am late with my Hot Cross Buns, which are usually eaten on Good Friday. But, at least, it’s still Easter and, in a way, they are just a spiced raisin buns you could eat any day, if you leave the crosses off.

I’m always a bit nervous when it comes to yeast based bakes but the receipe here requires the fast acting dried yeast sachets, which I seem to have more success with than fresh yeast. So if like me you are a little shy of baking with yeast, don’t be and try making these.

They are best eaten the day they are made. If you have some left the next day I find 20 seconds in the microwave warm and freshen them up enough for a second Easter breakfast.

For 12 buns you’ll need:

  • 450g strong white/bread flour (plus a little extra for dusting)
  • 2 x 7g sachets easy-blend/fast acting yeast
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150ml warm milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted (plus a little extra for greasing)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/4 nutmeg
  • 100g raisins or currants

And to decorate them:

  • 4 tbsp strong white/bread flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Lightly grease a large bowl.

In another large mixing bowl combine the flour, yeast, caster sugar, raisins/currants, salt and spices. Make a well in the middle and pour in the warm milk, 50ml warm water, egg and melted butter. Mix everything to form a dough – the best way to do this is with a wooden spoon until all is mixed well at which point you need to get your hand in. If the dough is too wet add a little more flour, if it is too dry a little more water.

Knead the dough in the bowl until it becomes smooth, then transfer it to the greased bowl and cover it with a damp tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place (I used a sunny windowsill and wrapped a wooly blanket around the bowl) for about an hour, until doubled in size.

Turn the risen dough onto a floured surface and knead for a few seconds, then divide into 12 even portions. Lightly grease a baking sheet and roll each dough portion into a smooth bun and place them on the baking sheet. With a shape knife cut a cross onto each bun. Cover the buns with a damp tea towel again and leave to rise for 20 minutes, which should again double the size.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 while they are rising.

Mix the four tablespoons of water with just enough water to make a runny but thick paste and spoon this paste into a piping bag to pipe crosses onto the buns.

Bake for 12 – 14 minutes until the buns are golden brown. As soon as they are out of the oven, dissolve the four tablespoons of sugar in water and brush the buns with this glaze. Enjoy them warm and have a happy Easter!

Orange and Almond Cake

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Sorry, I am not quite ready to wish you a Happy Easter yet!

It’s Good Friday today and I’m in London. Therefore this post was meant to be about Hot Cross Buns, spiced sweet buns that the English eat on Good Friday.

As I type the yeasty dough for them is – hopefully – rising next to me in the sun and the buns – assuming they turn out well – will still be eaten today. But I have not had a chance to do a trial bake and so can’t post a receipe or photo just yet.  However, if it works out well, you will hear from me again tomorrow and then you can also still make them for Easter; Easter Sunday. Not the right Easter day correct but, hey, we can just call them ‘Hot Easter Buns’ if need be 🙂

For now, I am presenting you an easy receipe for a cake that would be a great addition to any Easter Brunch table (a more German tradition) on any day over this Easter weekend. It’s a great little orange and almond cake, that’s not too sweet or heavy but moist and juicy!

Just note, that you may want to use organic or unsprayed/unwaxed oranges for this cake, as you need to use the whole orange, peel and all.

For a 18cm round cake you’ll need:

  • 1 – 2 small sweet oranges (one for the cake but if you want to decorate the cake with orange peel, like I did,  you will need one more)
  • 50 g butter, plus extra for the cake tin
  • 140g sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 85g self-raising flour
  • 100g ground almonds
  • icing sugar, to dust the cake

Put one orange in a small pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and simmer for an hour. A lovely smell of orange may spread through your flat…

Remove the now squidgy orange with a slotted spoon and leave it to cool on a chopping board. Once it is cold enough to handle, chop it in to pieces and discard the pips.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and butter and line the base of a round cake tin.
Tip the chopped up orange, in a food processor or blender and whizz until smooth.
Melt the 50g of butter and set aside.

In a bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy, for at least 3 minutes. Gently fold in the flour and ground almonds – I like to use a big spoon for this, gently going through the mixture and turning it over and over until the flour starts to become mixed in.

Add the orange puree and melted butter and fold them under, just as gently. Pour the mixture into your cake tin and bake for about 40 minutes until the cake is brown, springy and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack and just before serving, dust with a generous amount of icing sugar and fresh orange peel (using a cocktail maker tool to get thin strips if this is the look you are after).

‘German’ NY Cheesecake with a cherry topping

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I have to admit that I’m starting to get a little bit bored of the limited choice of ‘winter fruit’. European winters are that little bit too long. Luckily, there is preserved fruit from the summer and even luckier I found some, in form of a jar of cherries in cherry juice, in the back of my food cabinet the other day.

Jars of cherries in cherry juice don’t seem to be that commonly used in England it seems but in Germany we use them in cakes or as dessert and waffle toppings all the time. That’s why I always try to have a jar of cherries in my larder at home in London too. This time I used it as a cheesecake topping…

I have been missing New York lately and thought of making a New York Cheesecake. However, I wanted to reduce the fat content a tiny bit, so I gave the cake a little German treatment by replacing some of the full fat cream cheese with some no fat Quark. I also used a little less sugar than the average American receipe would suggest but these are no drastic adjustments so it’s still a rich and sweet enough cake to enjoy and think of New York.

You’ll need

  • 100g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 eggs
  • 125g flour
  • 1 pinch of baking bowder
  • 250g quark
  • 600g cream cheese
  • 1 jar of cherries (around 650g) and its juice
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • Grease a 26cm round spring cake tin.

For the base of the cake, cream together the butter, 60g of the sugar and ½ tsp vanilla essence, using an electric whisk. Combine the baking powder with the flour and add this, along with 1 egg to the mix. The resulting dough is a little thick and sticky but should be plyavble enough to be spread into the cake tin in an even layer.

Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees/ gas mark.

Whisk the remaining eggs and 120g sugar with 1 tsp of vanilla essence until fluffy, then fold the quark and cream cheese under.

Pour this cream onto the cake base and bake the cake on the lowest rack for a total of 45-50 minutes BUT after 20 minutes, take a knife all around the cake edge to loosen it from the cake tin and repeat this after 40 minutes again. This is the best trick to ensure the cake doesn’t crack!

A cheesecake also cracks when it gets moved too quickly from hot to cold, so once your baking time has been reached, turn the oven off and open the oven door but don’t take the cake out until it has fully cooled down.

For the cherries, pour the cherries into a sieve set over a bowl to catch the cherry juice. Heat the juice until it starts to boil, then add the cornflour mixed with a little bit of cold water, and stir it in to thicken the juice. You need to let the juice come back to the boil for at least 1 minute and should see it getting thicker and darker. Add the cherries and let the mix cool down before spooning 2-3 tbsp of it on the cake and serving the rest in a little bowl alongside the cake.

Valentine’s Fromage Frais Waffles

 

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Happy Valentine’s Day…

To be honest, I’m actually not much of a Valentine’s Day fan. Having grown up in Germany when it wasn’t yet a thing over there I can still happily do without the rather commercial fuss. 

But I decided to use today’s date as an excuse for a breakfast of heart-shaped waffles in bed. And just as last year, I also decided that they might as well be red waffles then. 

Last year I had planned to make red velvet waffles but, annoyingly, I had forgotten to buy red food colouring and ended up with cocoa waffles instead. So I thought, I’ll make this year’s Valentine’s waffles red and I even remembered to buy red food colouring. But I still didn’t get red waffles…the dye wasn’t strong enough. That’s why the waffles here look rather brown, even though they have no cocoa or chocolate in them.

The receipe is based on a German receipe and the batter is slightly thinner than for American waffles. It therefore works better in a European Waffle Iron. Thanks to the fromage frais they are also a little lighter than American waffles. Which doesn’t need to stop you from topping the waffles with whipped cream and, since it is Valentine’s Day after all, some fresh passion fruit…

For 6-8 waffles you’ll need:

  • 125g butter
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 125g fromage frais
  • 200g plain flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 100ml milk

To serve:

  • whipped cream
  • a couple of passion fruits

With an electric whisk, whip up the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and whisk again, then add one egg after the other, whisking the batter in between. Add the vanilla essence and fromage frais and briefly whisk them in the batter

Finally add the flour and baking powder and, again using the electric whisk, slowly mix it under the batter whilst slowly pouring the milk in at the same time.

Heat your waffle iron and bake the waffles until they are a little crispy on the outside.

Let them cool a little (or they will get soggy) and top them with whipped cream and the fresh passion fruit pulp before enjoying them – in bed.

Protein Pancakes

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To make up for my recent quiet period, I thought I’d post two receipes in one week!

I’m still trying to be a little more healthy than usual and decided to make some protein pancakes.

I have made oat based pancakes before and also tried out a few cottage cheese pancakes, such as the blueberry one you can read about here. This receipe however combines the two ingredients along with banana as a natural sweetener. 

You can feel less guilty if you tuck into a pile of them compared to your regular pancakes, as these here are higher in protein, thanks to the egg whites and cottage cheese, and lower in fat. 

And, as they are made from oats rather than flour they can be made gluten-free too. I used slightly ground oats but as everything goes into a blender you can probably use any oats you like. 

If you’re trying to cut back the calories just have them with a few fresh berries but the berry compote is not too bad for you either – and a dusting of icing sugar on top won’t kill you either!

For 4 portions you’ll need:

For the pancakes:

  • 1 cup (gluten-free) oats
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup fat free cottage cheese
  • 3-4 tbsp of milk (almond/ soy/ cow etc will work)

For the berry compote:

  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries
  • 1- 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

It’s as easy as putting all the ingredients for the pancakes in a blender and whizzing everything together until you have a smooth batter.
That’s pretty much it!

If the batter is too thick add a little more milk. If it’s too runny, add a few more oats before blending the batter again.

To bake, heat a non-stick frying pan and spray it with a little oil and pour a generous tablespoon of batter into the pan for each pancake. Bake the first side until bubbles appear, then flip the pancakes and bake the other side.

I like to serve a simple berry compote with the pancakes which I make by bringing some frozen berries, a little sugar and water to the boil. I then take some of the liquid and mix it with a little cornstarch, pouring it back into the pot and bringing it to the boil once more to thicken the compote.

Raw and Vegan Granola Bars

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Hello again!

I know it’s been so long…there’s been too much work and travel. But I finally had some time to get back into the kitchen again.

And since it’s January where everyone tries to be a bit healthier after the gluttonous December I decided to make something a little less sweet than usual. I am also in Berlin at the moment, where the vegan and raw trend is everywhere so I felt inspired to make something that fits right in.

So here are my quick and easy, no bake and therefore raw, vegan granola bars.

You can change the fruit and nuts to whatever you like or have at home. The exact amount is not that important either, as long as the total amount is less than one cup.

I am a big fan of dried physalis (also called Cape Gooseberries) as they add a little tangy citrus flavour. I also had a mix of goji berries, cashew nuts and mulberries so added this. But anything goes really – though you may want to roughly chop fruits and nuts above a certain size. 

For around 10 bars you’ll need

  • 1 cup (200g) pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup almonds 
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup dried gooji berries
  • 1/4 cup dried mulberries
  • 1/4 cup dried physalis
  • 1/4 cup cashew nuts

Chop the dates in a food processor on a high setting until only small bits remain – you should get a sticky dough like texture, which may all clump together but don’t worry about it.

Roughly chop the almonds and place them with the oats and dates in a large mixing bowl. Add the extra (chopped, if needed) fruits and nuts.

Warm the maple syrup and peanut butter in a small sauce pan over a low heat and stir to combine. 

Pour the mixture over the oats, almonds and dates and get your hands in there to combine everything thoroughly. 

Transfer the mix to an 20 x 20 cms / 8 x 8 inch dish lined with baking paper and press it down firmly until evenly flattened. I used the back of a big metal spoon to press it down as you want it pressed together tightly, to stick together.

Leave in the freezer for 20 minutes or at least an hour in the fridge and chop it into 10 bars. 

You can easily store the bars in an air tight container in the fridge for a few days!