Tag Archives: dessert

Clementine Cake

IMG_6400

Last weekend Christoph and I spent our Saturday night in, which is usually how we spend our Saturday nights anyway. We get up to a lot during the week so we’re usually pretty tired by the end of it. Plus, we’re lazy and it’s winter here in Toronto. As usual we tried to find something good on Netflix and this time it was The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Usually, I’m not much for Ben Stiller movies since most of them tend to be goofy comedies. Not saying that I lack a sense of humour but I’m more into the dark comedy types. If you’ve seen The Secret Life of Walter Mitty then you’ll know for the most part that the movie isn’t a typical Ben Stiller flick but instead has a lot of great shots and scenes as well as a pretty great story. You’ll also know that this clementine cake plays an important role in the movie.

clemcakeclementine

Ever since I was a child I found that food within movies or stories has always stuck with me. Even if I can’t remember a plot of a movie I always remember the food. As in the chocolate cake from Matilda, a bavarian cream cookie from Stranger Than Fiction, or even the donuts with goose livers from Fantastic Mr. Fox. Yes, I’ve thought about eating donuts with goose livers.

IMG_6422

But back to the cake. This recipe comes from Nigella Lawson’s Clementine Cake which is made from whole clementines and almond flour. It’s naturally gluten free and oil free. To be honest the cake wasn’t exactly what I was looking for and doesn’t exactly match the cake seen in the movie but it’s definitely close. It’s extremely simple to make, has a lovely damp texture, and a very interesting slightly bitter note from the clementine skins. It also gets better the longer you keep it.

Clementine Cake (gluten free, oil free)
Recipe found here

Clementine Icing
Makes enough icing for one cake

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 TBSP fresh clementine juice
pinch of salt

Mix ingredients together until smooth and quite thick. Smooth on top of the cooled cake and gently push over the sides.

Candied Clementines

1 medium clementine
3 TBSP caster sugar
1 TBSP water

Slice the clementine into thin slices and lay flat in a medium sized pan. Sprinkle over the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes or until the sugar and water has thickened. Take off the heat and let cool.

IMG_6366

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Roasted Plum and Pumpkin Hand Pies

IMG_6203

Wow! A pumpkin recipe…very original this time of year. But how could I not? I’ve been bombarded with everything pumpkin for the past few weeks now. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice Oreos, pumpkin spice everything. I even saw a picture for pumpkin spice tampons, which I’m sure was a joke. There are pumpkins for sale at every store and every corner so naturally I had to pick a few up. I had never actually cooked a fresh pumpkin before but since the little pie pumpkins were only $1.29 each I really couldn’t have gone wrong.

plumsIMG_6142

Since I had some blue plums left over I decided to roast them with a little sugar and make plum pumpkin hand pies. Maybe it sounds like a weird combination but since they’re both in season, why not? It seemed like a great idea to me and also I could’ve called them Plumkin Hand Pies. What a cute name, right? No…no that’s not right. I did a quick google search to see if the name “Plumkin” had been used before, because I was sure it must’ve. Nothing is ever original anymore, especially with the internet. So, my results were not what I was expecting. If you’d like, you can look it up yourself because I don’t think the definition of a “plumkin” is appropriate for a food blog. Unless you like throwing up while looking at pretty pictures of food.

handpiespumpkinplum

Um, so back to the food! These little pies are made with my one and only favourite pie crust, the salted butter pie crust. Which, I really do believe is the key to a good pie, no matter what the filling is. Without this crust all pies are mediocre, in my opinion. Each mini pie gets a dollop of spiced creamy pumpkin puree and half a beautifully dark roasted plum. The filling is a perfect offset to the salted butter crust and the size makes them great for a snack, plus they’re super cute.

Mini Roasted Plum Pumpkin Hand Pies with Salted Butter Crust
Makes 20 2×2″ pies filled with spiced pumpkin and roasted plum

Pumpkin Puree:
1 small pie pumpkin ( or 110g of canned pumpkin puree)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
pinch of ground ginger
pinch of salt
2 packed tablespoons of brown sugar

Roasted Plums:
10 small blue/damson plums, halved lengthwise and pitted
3 tbsp caster sugar

Salted Butter Crust:
250g all purpose flour
225g cold, salted butter, cut into small pieces
about 1/4 cup of cold water

1 egg and a little water for egg wash

Preheat oven to 375˚F

Cut off stem and halve pumpkin and scrape out seeds. Rub the inside of the pumpkin with a few drops of vegetable oil. Line a rimmed tray with foil and place pumpkin halves skin side up. Roast in oven for about an hour or until soft.

While the pumpkin is baking, prepare plums. Lay the halves skin side down in a roasting tray and sprinkle sugar evenly over top. Place into oven with the pumpkin and roast for about 15-20 minutes or until juices are bubbling and the plums have softened.

Make the crust by combining the flour and butter in a food processor then adding the water, a little at a time while the machine runs and until the dough starts to come together. Knead lightly by hand. If making by hand, cut the butter into the flour until crumbly. Add the water and mix and form into a dough. Flatten with the palms of your hands and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about an hour.

Let plums and pumpkin cool to room temperature. Once the pumpkin has cooled, scrape it out of its skin. Puree in a food processor. I only used about half a cup of puree (110g). The rest of the pumpkin can be used in cakes, pies, cookies, stews, soups, etc. Blend the spices into your half a cup of puree.

Roll out the dough to about 3mm thick and cut out squares with a cookie cutter or with your knife. I made mine with a 2×2″ cutter. Different shapes can be used as well. Gather the scraps and refrigerate while you fill the pies.

To fill the pies, first lay out half the squares and brush the edges with egg wash. Place about a tsp of pumpkin puree into the middle of the square and top with half a roasted plum. Take another square and gently press it between your fingers to make the surface larger. Place it on top of the filling and gently press it down on all sides. Using a fork, seal the edges, either with the tips of the fork or the whole side. Repeat with the rest of the squares. Place onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and repeat with the leftover scraps of dough. Once all the hand pies are ready to be baked, brush with egg wash and bake at 375˚F for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Can be left at room temperature for a couple days in a sealed container and then refrigerated for about a week. Reheat in low oven.

IMG_6216

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Zwetschgendatschi. German Plum Cake.

IMG_5962

Want to know what gets me really excited? Getting packages in the mail.

I have a thing for online shopping. That is, when I do shop. I don’t spend a lot of money but when I do get around to making purchases, I find it much more exciting to buy them online. It’s like getting a present in the mail! One might think that ordering items from the comfort of your home is a good way to over spend but I actually think it helps me spend less. The problem with shopping in person is that, for me at least, it tends to lead to impulse buys or buying something I don’t even want at all, mainly because of pressure from sales people or false advertising. No, none of that with online shopping. I get to spend hours and hours comparing prices, reading reviews, and looking for coupon codes. Some people like to call it a waste of time…but I like to call it smart shopping.

blueplumsIMG_5981

Now, that leads me to a package I received in the mail yesterday. Oh how I was excited for this one. I had been waiting a good 6 months for these to go on sale. What are they? Dates! Like, the dates you eat. Those brown little shrivelled things that you find in your supermarket in clear plastic containers next to the produce aisle. Yeah, I know it’s weird that I was excited to order dates online. But these were fresh, just picked dates, soft, moist, and juicy. So it was really disappointing when I finally opened up my first date to take a bite out of it and found a long pale maggot squiggling it’s way out onto my hands. Yup. Maggot.

At first I was completely put off by the thought of eating even one date after that, let alone the full 8 pounds that I had bought. But I guess the fact that they’re organic made up for all the grossness of it. That’s the one thing about organic produce though, you never know what you’re going to get. As well, I think waiting 6 months for a fruit to come into season just to be put off by a little bug is a bit silly.

IMG_5988zwetschgendatschi

Which now, finally, brings me to this lovely Zwetschgendatschi. Which is really just a long, fancy, German word for “Plum Cake”. However, Zwetschgen are the German name for Blue Plums, also known as Prune Plums or Damson Plums. Correct me if I’m wrong. However, these little, oblong plums only come into season around here during the end of summer and knowing me, I love to buy way too much produce that’s in season because well, my eyes are bigger than my stomach.

IMG_6010

The recipe I have today is a typical recipe for this cake that you can find all over Germany. From what I’ve been told, it’s a popular cake to be had at ‘kaffee und kuchen’ time in Germany. Yes, coffee and cake time, a meal eaten between lunch and dinner, mostly on Sundays or really whenever you feel like coffee and cake. Why don’t we have this in Canada? It seems like it would be a very beneficial meal to get you through the day.

So, back to the actual recipe. This cake isn’t what you’d really think of as a “cake”. The base is made out of a slightly sweet, yeasted dough, topped, with fresh plums, a sprinkling of sliced almonds, and a streusel topping. Also, serving with whipped cream is a must. It’s both light from the tanginess of the plums as well as substantial from the dough. Without the streusel, I’d say would make for a delicious breakfast, whipped cream optional.

IMG_6028IMG_6016

Zwetschgendatschi (German Plum Cake)
Makes about 8 servings
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Apple and Blackberry Kuchen and Delicious Days’ Zwetschgendatschi

For the dough:
350g/ 3 cups all purpose flour
50g/ 1/4 cup sugar
1.5 tsp dried yeast
125ml lukewarm milk (2% or Homo)
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g/ 1/4 cup soft salted butter

For the Filling:
Approximately 25 small Damson Plums or half of that if using regular plums
100g/ 1/2 cup brown sugar
50g/ 1/2 cup slivered almonds

For the Streusel:
50g/ 1/4 cup flour
50g/ 1/4 cup cold, salted butter, diced
50g/ 1/4 cup brown sugar

Cream or egg for egg wash

Line an 8.5 inch x 12 inch tray with a piece of parchment paper. You may also use a slightly bigger tray if that’s what you have.

To make the dough, stir yeast into warmed milk and let stand for a few minutes until foamy. Either using a stand mixer with the dough hook or by hand, combine the flour and sugar in your mixing bowl and stir in milk, eggs, and vanilla. Knead for about 5 minutes with the machine or about 10 by hand on your counter. If the dough is very sticky, add a little more flour, a tbsp at a time. Knead in the softened butter until the dough looks springy and doesn’t stick to the bowl or your hands. Form the dough into a ball and place into a buttered bowl, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place, to rise for about an hour and a half or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, prep the plums by slicing them into quarters, lengthwise. Make the streusel topping by combining the 3 ingredients with your fingers until the butter is mixed in well with the flour and sugar, to form a crumbly mix. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat your oven to 350˚F.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick and slightly larger than your tray. If there is too much dough, just trim off the sides and use the leftover dough another time (I rolled out my extra dough and spread softened butter and sprinkled brown sugar and cinnamon over to make cinnamon buns).

Press the dough into the tray and up the sides. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and place the plums on top, skin facing down, tightly next to each other. Sprinkle over the remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar and the streusel topping. Next, sprinkle the slivered almonds over top. Let the Kuchen sit for 15 minutes for the dough to rise a little and then brush with egg wash or cream if you have it.

Bake on the middle rack for about 25 minutes. Check after 20 minutes. If the top is browning too much, cover with a piece of foil.

Enjoy warm with a side of fresh whipped cream.

IMG_5964

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Strawberry Shortcake, not just for Dessert

IMG_5377

It’s been a while.

The past 7 months has been a busy time for me. Starting a new job, moving to a new place, and of course school. It was a stressful time for me to say the least.

Unfortunately, within those 7 months I really let go of my healthy eating habits and started to eat a lot of processed foods. It’s hard to plan and cook meals when you’re so busy with other things and I probably had a lot more instant ramen noodles and Korean Chocopies than I’d like to admit. However, it’s no excuse for poor eating habits since I know a lot of people manage to eat healthy while leading busy lives.

Hopefully getting back into the blog will help me with getting back on track!

For this post I decided to health-ify strawberry shortcake, a common dessert that’s full of fat, processed sugar, and gluten. My version, however, has none of these things. The biscuits are gluten free, sugar free, and sweetened with apples and blackberries. While the whipped cream is replaced with greek yoghurt and out of season strawberries are improved with a little vanilla and maple syrup. It’s delicious, in it’s own healthy way, without making you feel guilty and without making you feel like you need to take a nap.

IMG_5383

Healthy Strawberry Shortcake (gluten free, low sugar)
Makes 5 servings

Scones (gluten free, sugar free)
Makes 5 scones
Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories Apple and Oat Biscuits

100g Oat Flour, made from ground oats
75g Light Buckwheat Flour
2 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 Tbsp organic coconut oil, hard, and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup plain, unsweetened, greek yoghurt
1/4 cup organic homo milk
1 small apple shredded
About 10 blackberries, chopped roughly

Preheat oven to 425˚F

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add in coconut oil and using 2 knives or a pastry cutter, cut in the oil until it is evenly distributed in small pieces. Add in the rest of the ingredients except blackberries and bring into a dough. If too sticky add more flour and if too dry add more milk. Gently fold in the blackberries. Lightly dust your work surface with buckwheat flour and pat out evenly to about an inch thick. Cut into squares with a knife or whatever shape you like. Lightly score the top of the biscuits from corner to corner.

Bake on a parchment lined sheet for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bottom is browned and crisp and the inside is slightly moist.

Strawberry Compote
Makes about 1 cup of compote

1 1/2 cups of ripe strawberries, chopped
1 tbsp of maple syrup
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1 tsp of lemon juice (optional)

In a small saucepan, cook strawberries and syrup on medium low heat until thick and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Add vanilla and lemon juice.

Yoghurt “Cream”
Makes 1 cup

1 cup of plain, unsweetened Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp of maple syrup
1/4 tsp of vanilla

Mix ingredients together and keep refrigerated

To assemble the shortcake, break biscuits into triangles and layer with cream and compote. The biscuits are best served warm with the cold cream and warm compote.

blackberryscones

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Perfect Pie

IMG_4374

It’s pie season!

There’s just something so homey and comforting about pies. I don’t know what it is. It’s not like I even grew up eating pies at home because my mother never wanted to bother with making something as fiddly as a pie. The only time I remember having a homemade pie when I was a kid was when my father and I tried to bake an apple pie together. I think it probably took us about 5 hours to just get it into the oven. Then of course, we never baked it properly and it ended up swimming in a pool of apple liquid.

Then, years later I tried my hand again at making pies but this time alone. You’d think that something like a pie, with just fruits and flour wouldn’t be so difficult… but that dough! The one you’re not supposed to over work for fear of a chewy, tough crust but instead gently pat and roll into shape, only to have it crumble on you while transferring it to the dish. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so frustrated by a dessert in my life.

Luckily, I’ve improved on my pie making skills and happen to have the perfect recipe for delicious, flakey, melt in your mouth crust that uses only 2 ingredients (not including water). Just salted butter, and plain flour. Nothing else. The technique however is a little different than your regular pie crust and comes from Pim Techamuanvivit at Chez Pim. It involves a bit of work, but nothing too hard to accomplish and also results in a VERY easy to handle dough that will in no way break on you while transferring it to the dish. And for that, I am thankful.

IMG_4245

Since I have so much rhubarb growing in my backyard it only makes sense to make a pie with rhubarb. Though, unfortunately a pie with only rhubarb would either be way too tart or need way too much sugar and that’s just not my kind of thing. Luckily, it’s also strawberry season and the perfect time for delicious Ontario strawberries.

IMG_4352

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Salted Butter Crust
Makes 1 9″ lattice topped pie

First make the pie crust following this recipe.

3 1/2 cups rhubarb cut into 1cm pieces
3 1/2 cups hulled, and quartered strawberries
1/2 cup of coconut sugar
1/2 cup of golden sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp all purpose flour
pinch of salt

1 egg beaten with a tablespoon of water
turbinado or coarse raw sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Combine filling ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently.

Lightly flour your work surface and roll out half the dough until it is slightly larger than your pie dish. Transfer to the pie dish. Roll out the second piece of dough slightly larger than the pie dish and cut out 14 1cm wide strips. Add filling to the dish and gently arrange the strips in a lattice pattern so that the strips weave in and out of one another. Trim off any excess dough from the sides and crimp the edges with your fingers. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash over the crust. Now, with any extra dough left over, roll it out and cut out two or three leaf shapes and place them in the middle of the pie as decoration. Brush these with egg wash as well. Finally, sprinkle the pie with coarse sugar and place on a baking tray. Bake for about an hour or until the filling is bubbling and thickened. Let cool completely before slicing.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,