Monday, September 28, 2009

An autumnly bread spread

An autumnly bread spread
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2009

When you walk these days over the local market you will find all kinds of different mushrooms, which are now in season. Last time I have baught some chanterelles. At home I still had some more mushrooms. An easy way to enjoy these mushrooms is to use them in a mushroom-butter on a rustic bread with additional chanterelles on top.

Mushroom-Butter for a rustic bread
(servings and quantity are a guess)

about 400g Fresh mushrooms (e.g. chanterelles)
150 - 200g softened butter
1 onion
3 tablespoons Sherry
5 tablespoons parsley (chopped)
salt and pepper
rustic bread (e.g. rye-bread)

The quantities are a guess. Sometimes I use less or more from this or that. Try what you like best.

Chop about 100g of the fresh mushrooms and the onion finely. Sweat onions and mushrooms in about 1 tablespoon butter on medium high heat in a pan for a few minutes. Add sherry and cook until fluid is almost gone. Take from heat and let cool.

Add rest of butter and mix until blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the rest of the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. Sear the mushrooms in butter over medium high heat. When mushrooms are as browned as you like them, add parsley and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the butter generousely on bread slices. Top with seared fungi and garnish with some parsley. Enjoy.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hazelnut Braid

Hazelnut Braid (2/2)
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2009

I love the flavor of hazelnut in cakes. And marchpane is intensifying the flavor of hazelnuts even more. Here is a cake which not only has a nice structure but has an intense hazelnut flavor. Not too sweet though.

Hazelnut Braid
(for one braid)

...for the filling:
100 g hazelnuts (grounded)
100 g marchpane*
1 egg
50 g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla flavor
1 tablespoon rum (or milk, if you don't want to bake with rum)

...for the dough:
300 g all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
160 g Curd
6 tablespoons milk
6 tablespoons oil
90 g sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla flavor
1 dash salt

...for the glaze:
4 tablespoons peach or apricot jam
2 tablespoons water

* Marchpane: in German "Marzipan" (Spain: mazapán, France: massepain, Italy: marzapane). Sometimes you find the name almond paste. It is a raw mixture for baking and not the end product.

Prepare the filling first. Roast the grounded hazelnuts over medium high heat slightly. Set aside. Mix the rest of the ingredients for the filling until homogenous. I'm using a fork for this step, because so you can easily mash the marchpane with the egg and other ingredients. Add the hazelunuts and mix. Set aside.

Put the curd into a sieve which you have lined out with some paper towels. This step will make the curd more dry. After 15 to 30 minutes the curd is in general dry enough for the dough.

Prepare the dough. Mix flour and baking powder and sieve into a bowl. Add the other ingredients for the dough. Mix for one minute on high speed with your mixer and dough hooks. Do not mix too long, because dough would get sticky.

Knead a few times with hands to form the dough. Then roll it out to a size of about 40 by 30 cm. Spread the filling evenly on the dough leaving about 1 cm free from each side. Form a roll fom the longest side. Half the roll lengthwise and fold it apart. With the sliced side pointing upward form a braid. Press the ends slightly so that they will not fall apart while baking.

Bake in a preheated oven at 170 C on a greased baking tray for 40 to 45 minutes. After 30 minutes you should watch the cake. If the cake is getting too brown covered it with some baking paper.

While baking prepare the glaze. Mix jam and water in a small pot and let it cook on medium high heat for 5 to 10 minutes to thicken it.

Take out the cake of the oven and while hot glaze it. Let it cool completely on a cooling rack.

Hazelnut Braid (1/2)
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2009

About the photos
To show the structure better I sliced the cake a placed two slices beside the cake but leave most of the cake to show the braid structure. As reference for the filling I have used hazelnuts and hazelnuts leaves which are in season now. They shouldn't be too perfect to avoid a too staged impression. Composition wise the photos are based on a brown green contrast for an earthern impression. The use of the silver plate should emphasize the rustic look. In the first photo I have used a T/S lens which gave me the chance to use a top down angle but still have the focal plain like in a lower angled version.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

German Classic: Marbled Cake

Marbled Cake
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2009

Maybe marbled cake is "The" classic German Cake. At least for me. I can not think of any birthday, anniversary or other family celebration without marbled cake made in a bundt cake form. And for all grown up in the 60s and 70s it is connected to one cook book "Backen macht Freude", the Dr. Oetker baking book, first published in 1960 and still available. The recipes in this book are foolproofed and I still rely on it when it comes to baking, although I have my own variations. The original front cover was Marbled Cake and browsing through the book always brings up childhood memories.

Marbled Cake
(for one bundt cake form)

300 g butter (softened)
285 g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla flavor
1 tablespoon rum
1 dash salt
5 eggs

375 g all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons milk

20 g Dutch Cocoa Powder
20 g sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Grease a suited bundt cake form. Preheat oven to 180°C.

Mix Dutch Cocoa powder, 20 sugar and 3 tablespoons milk until sugar and cocoa powder are dissilved. The mixture should be homogenous.

In a large bowl mix butter to make it creamy. Add sugar and a dash salt and mix on hight speed until sugar is well blended. Now add one egg after the other. After adding one egg mix for about one minute on medium to high speed. Which each egg the batter will get softer and more creamy. Aater you have added the fifth egg, add rum and vanilla flavor and mix again.

Mix flour and baking powder. Sieve half of flour mixture onto butter batter and mix until blended. Don't overmix. Add 2 tablespoons milk and mix. Sieve rest of flour mixture onto batter and mix again.

Fill 2/3 of batter into bundt cake form.

To the rest of the batter add dutch cocoa powder mixture and mix until blended. Fill cocoa batter onto the other batter. By using a fork and a spiral move through the batter swirl the dark bater into the light batter to get the typical marbled cake structure.

Bake in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until cake is done. Cake is done when a tooth pick comes out clean. When the cake gets to dark on top you can cover it with baking paper.

When cake is done, let cool for about 10 minutes in baking form. Then let cool completely on cooling rack. Before serving dust the cake with powder sugar generousely.

Marbled Cake
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2009

Backen macht Freude
German Baking Today

This book was published first in 1960 by Dr. Oetker and has been used in my family until then. And I guess this is the case in most German families. Meanwhile you can get it in English too called "German Baking Today". The recipes in the newer editions are still the same. For those interested in food photography a comparision of the original edition of 1960 and the latest one is highly inetersting. The photographic sytyle has changed completely (obviousely). I still can remeber most of the colored photographs from the original edition. To save space two or more different recipes were shown in one photograph.

Variation of form and size
You can try this cake in different baking forms, like a loaf pan form form. Or make it as little single cakes in a muffin pan.

Marble Cake
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2009

Marbled Mini Cakes (2)
© All rights reserved, Thorsten Kraska, 2009