Pumpkin cake – an idea for Thanksgiving

Are we the luckiest creatures on the planet? Us, humans? Mum?

I didn’t see it coming. How could I? Just a few minutes earlier his greatest concern was the flavour of the cough sirup. Although the pharmacist claimed that there is no alcohol in it I still blame the cough sirup! After I consoled myself, I asked a question back – which is the mighty weapon when you need one. “Why do you think we humans, could be the luckiest ones?”

“Because if we need water we just turn the tap on and if we need any food we go to the market. It’s not the same for animals, they have to find water and hunt for food…So, do you think we are the luckiest creatures on the planet? Mum?”

I don’t have all the answers, sometimes I am not even close to the answer but I know one thing – we are certainly lucky enough to be able to produce things and make ourselves and others happy. We are lucky to have each other in our lives and for that we should be thankful! Which brings me to the subject of this post.

I did a little research and I found out that Thanksgiving comes to Canada first! I also consulted my husband’s family (the part that live in Canada), to confirm that pumpkin pie is the dessert for that occasion. I was all set for the project. But while I was organising my thoughts on pumpkin pie, this cake was coming back to me over and over again. One learns very fast that ignoring a food urge makes no sense at all. It will find its way to the kitchen and our dinner table anyway! Therefore one should embrace new ideas and go for it.

So, this is not going to be a post about a pumpkin pie. That post will need to wait some other Thanksgiving still to come. Instead we are indulging ourselves with this gorgeous pumpkin cake. I have to say the inspiration came from this carrot cake I made some time ago. I simply love that cake batter and I knew it’d go nicely with pumpkin.

I wonder if we can count this as an Thanksgiving treat? If not, well it is simple a treat, no reason needed.

Pumpkin cake

6 eggs

250 gr sugar

250 ml vegetable oil

300 gr plain flour

120 gr oats

80 gr raisins

1 1/2 teaspoon aluminium free baking powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 vanilla pod

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

For the icing:

200 gr butter (room temperature)

500 gr cream cheese

200 gr icing sugar

zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon cardamom (optional)

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line with baking paper three 6″ round baking tins.

Separate egg yolk from egg whites. Whisk egg yolks with sugar for a few minutes until the batter beomes light and fluffy. Reduce the speed of mixer and add oil slowly to it.

Mix the flours with the sea salt and baking powder. Fold into the egg mixture.

Grate pumpkin and add to the flour and egg mixture. Scrape vanilla pod and add to the mixture (or use 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste). Chop raisins and add them to the flour mix as well. Mix until all is combined.

In a separate bowl mix egg whites (with a pinch of salt) until soft peaks form and add to the cake batter,  stirring gently with spatula.

Separate cake batter into three portions (just over 500 gr each). Pour into the baking tins and bake all three cakes at the same time for 40-45 minutes.

Leave on the cooling rack until is cooled completely before assembling.

For the icing, you need to whisk soft butter with icing sugar for 3-4 minutes. Add creme cheese, lemon zest, cardamom if using and whisk until it’s very creamy.

Assembling the cake:

This cake bakes nice and evenly but just in case you need to trim the cake so it’s level, do it before adding frosting.

Place one of the three cakes on the cake plate. Add one full spoon of the frosting and spread with a spatula evenly. Place the second cake on the top and do the same with the frosting. On the third cake add twice the amount of the frosting and spread evenly. Frost the whole cake with the rest of the icing. Decorate the way you like. Enjoy!

Walnut and raisin swirl bread

In less than a month we are to start our journey across the world. That always means visiting our family. We are all looking forward to it and we all have our reasons. The youngest one is mostly looking forward to the love and attention (gifts included) that he receives from everyone in immense quantities. The rest of the family, which are the two parents, are glad to provide the above mentioned happiness to the young one and indulge the grandparents with the presence of their grandchild. But don’t think that this is a sacrifice to us, as we, the parents, have our own little moments that make this time special. They mainly include wondering through the city, remembering and reliving our past, or making new adventures and stories with our son. There is a whole list of things to do but I am mostly looking forward to the slow pace of the days that any holiday should provide: short and long walks, time together, good food and small treats. Which brings me to the subject of this post. May not be a small one but it’s certainly a treat!

Walnut and raisin swirl bread is one of the famous desserts from back home. That means that it is known among many Balkan countries, as well as Germany, Austria and a few more. It is called StrudlaStrudelZavitek… or as we here know it: Swirl Bread (which I like for its descriptive name). One can buy it in any bakery or patisserie across the country but the homemade ones are always the best! Like many other well known recipes, and the same rule applies for this one, every household has a family recipe and claims that it’s the best one. So far I’ve tested a few, all good no doubt but one enjoyed the most always reminds me that it’s my favourite. It’s the one my mother-in-law makes! What makes it the best are not just the ingredients.  It’s made with care and love for her family and those are the magic ingredients that you can find only in homemade treats. She gave me the recipe and I follow it with all my heart. I can only hope that my family enjoys is as much as I enjoy baking it for them.

Walnut and raisin swirl bread

500 gr plain flour

2 teaspoons dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

125 ml warm milk

125 ml warm water

1 egg

100 gr very soft (room temperature) unsalted butter

For the filling:

100 gr ground walnuts

3 tablespoons milk

50 gr sugar

50 gr raisins

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Add the flour, yeast, sugar and the salt in a stand mixer bowl. Use a dough hook to mix all ingredients.

Combine the milk and water in a measuring cup. Make sure you warm them up to approximately 50-55C (too hot to dip your finger in it), which is slightly warmer than you need. Add the egg and whisk all together. The egg will cool down milk and water mixture.

Pour liquid mixture into the stand mixer bowl with flour in it and kneed for 5-6 minutes or until you get a nice and smooth dough. Cover with clear wrap or kitchen towel and let it rise for an hour or until is doubled in size.

This dough is very easy to work with, which is rather good as the work is not done yet.

Place the dough on the lightly floured working bench and roll it into a 20×30 cm rectangular shape. Spread approximately 1/3 of butter on top and fold a short half of the dough only half way through and then fold the other half on top of it. You will get a rectangular shape approximately 20×15 cm. Take the longer ends and fold them the same way making again a rectangular shape 10×15 cm, which will make one very chubby peace of dough.

Roll the dough again into a 20×30 cm rectangular shape and repeat the whole process 2 more times. This way you are incorporating butter into your dough, making layers which will help you bake a wonderful swirl bread. So, it looks like you have to use a bit of an old fashion baker’s technique here, but it pays off so much that you wouldn’t want to do it any other way.

Mix walnut meal, sugar, cinnamon and milk in a small bowl.

When you are done with making a perfect strudel base and you have rolled your dough back to a 20×30 cm rectangular shape, spread walnut and cinnamon mixture on top and sprinkle with sultanas.

Roll the dough, starting from the shorter edge. Transfer the dough into a greased baking tin and let it rise for another hour.

Brush with milk and bake at 180C for 45 minutes or until it’s golden brown.

Gingerbread and ricotta cake

Purely by accident, while making gingerbread cookies with a 6 year old boy I decided on a whim to save some of the dough. I simply knew something would pop up but I newer anticipated that it would become such a delight. It took me few days to play with the idea and ricotta was there from day one as a main base for the filling. Then I realised that chocolate can never fail you (of course if you are a chocolate lover) and a gingerbread base seemed to be a good choice for this combination.

I baked the base a few days before I decided on a filling. Being a gingerbread dough that actually helped and it just improved the cake’s richness altogether. Plus the stress of making a whole cake in one day practically disappeared. Both base and filling are easy to make and you need just minutes to do it. I would’ve said that this is a winning combination if I didn’t known better. Since I do, I would say – this is a life time keeper!

The first one I made was a tiny one, just for tasting. The family gets to taste it first and my husband’s first words (after a long mouthful silence were) – “I can’t wait for the real one”- referring to the size mainly. I kept the size small though as I knew that we were not going to resist it easily, so between the two of us, one small cake is just enough! The little one still lives in a kid’s world with a strong preference for sweets. We take advantage of that for now, as we know things will change – for sure.

This cake can be served for a gala dinner or a less formal one. Also it’s very nice for morning tea or as a sweet snack after lunch. On the first day the cake was crunchy from the outside and creamy and soft inside. The next day (if it lasts that long) the crust becomes softer as the moisture from the filling  does its job. I love this little treat! The gingerbread reminds me of childhood and brings memories that way and the filling tells me how adventurous cake-making can be. All together it’s a cake embroidered with past and future with divine presentation.

Gingerbread crust cheese tart

1/3 of gingerbread dough (I highly suggest to make a whole batch and use the rest for gingerbread men)

500 gr ricotta

150 gr butter

100 gr powdered sugar

100 gr grated chocolate

50 gr chocolate for decorating (I used a block of chocolate scraped with a knife)

I used 15 cm round mould for this cake.

Spray the mould with oil before assembling the dough.

Roll the dough to a 3-4 millimetre thick sheet and cut the round shape using the actual mould/cake tin as a size helper. You’ll need another long strip for assembling the cake. Measure your mould if using a different one or if using the same size baking tin you’ll need a 45 cm long strip. The width of the strip should be approximately  the height of your mould.

Place the round part to the bottom of the mould first and add the long strip, “gluing” them together and to the sides of the baking tin. The dough is quite forgivable and if you brake some parts it’s ok as you can easily glue them back together.

Bake for 18-20 minutes on 180C. Once baked leave in the baking tin for a few minutes before taking the cake/crust out. Leave on the cooling rack to cool completely.

For the filling it’s quite important to use room temperature butter. Since I don’t use microwave, I have to think ahead and take the butter out of the fridge to soften at least an hour before I need it. In a large bowl whisk the butter and the sugar until creamy. Add the ricotta and mix until all well combined. Add the chopped chocolate and mix with a spatula.

Fill in the crust with the ricotta filling and sprinkle with extra chocolate for decoration.

The cake is ready to be served!

Cherry bundt cake

Does simplicity strike you as something that can be so beautiful and irresistible that you simply have to have it or make it? I struggle with temptations like this all the time. I suppose that I don’t have to point out that cakes have a leading role in this weakness of mine. I call it a weakness because it can occur even when I am not ready for it, or have no time. I remember a whole dinner could suffer for that matter and had to be made in a very short time. That means that we might have a simple pasta meal for dinner today. This cake took advantage of me and my time but lets be honest – who can resist it.

But I know that this is not the case in some households. Strictly hypothetically speaking if you were in my in-laws neighbourhood and you decided to visit, you would be nicely welcomed and served not just with a delicious meal but cakes would be included as well. Never ever have we visited them and not been served with the little treats that would miraculously appear at the end of the meal. The most likely one would be Lenja pita or  literally translated  Lazy apple or cherry pie; Which happens to be one of my favouritesThis treat originally made with lard, switched to butter or similar due to lack of good quality lard. Or that is what I like to believe. This is one of the sweet treats in the Balkans with history of being different/unique in every household and of course all recipes are perfect despite their slight difference.

So, this sweet inspired me to make a cake that will help us remember gathering and sharing food with our families; A time when we would forget about all our troubles and enjoy good company and good food. That is what this cake is all about to me.

This cake is made with three different sources of fat but that makes it to taste like soft pieces of pure beauty, melting slowly in your mouth. Take it in moderation and it’ll be easy on your stomach as well – that is if you can!

Cherry bundt cake 

200 gr white Spelt flour

125 gr unsalted butter

150 gr sugar

1/2 teaspoon aluminium free baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 eggs

125 gr yoghurt

50 ml vegetable oil

200 gr cherries (I used frozen one)

1 lemon zest

Mix cherry with lemon zest an hour before you start mixing the cake.

Heat the oven to 175 C and grease a baking tin – I used a medium size bundt mould.

Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Mix flour, salt and baking powder and leave aside. In a large bowl beat the butter, sugar and egg yolks until pale and fluffy. Add half of the oil, mix well, then add half of the yoghurt and mix again. Repeat the process with the rest of the oil and yoghurt. Add flour mixture and mix gently with wooden spoon or spatula.

In another large bowl beat the egg whites until soft peak form. Again, using a spatula mix gently into a flour batter. Pour 1/2 of the batter into a baking tin, place cherries on top and finish by adding the rest of the batter. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until you get a golden colour, the smell from the oven is irresistible or the cake tester comes out clean.

After baked, leave for a few minutes in the baking tin. Transfer to a cooling rack and dust with powdered sugar. Can be served with whipped cream or creme fraiche which nicely combines with cherry syrup.

Heart cake with quince compote & new BAKE logo

The idea was to keep this post short and let the photos do the talking.

So, in a few words – that little thing in the top-left corner of the page is my new logo; Which I am very proud of. I believe its beauty lies in simplicity and originality and that was an inevitable product of great collaboration with a super talented artist! Thus, to present my unspoken words, I had to create a cake. It wasn’t hard at all, the recipe made its way spontaneously and became the heart cake.

The biggest piece of this cake goes to Aleksandra Prhal, the super talented artist I mentioned. She is kind, professional and incredibly patient and she is the one who designed the new BAKE logo.

Butterless heart cake 

For the cake:

2 eggs

150 gr sugar

3 tablespoons warm water

100 gr plain flour

50 gr  ground walnuts (walnut meal)

1/2 teaspoon aluminium free baking powder

For the compote:

2 quinces – cored, pealed and sliced

100 gr raw sugar + 50 gr for syrup

200 ml water

1 lemon slice

1 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

Quince compote can be prepared a few days in advance.

Pour water and sugar in a small pot, add star anise and cinnamon stick and simmer for a few minutes until sugar dissolves. Add quinces and cook for 1 hour or until quinces are soft (be careful not to overcook them). Remove from the stove, cool and keep in the fridge.

On the day that cake is going to be served, take half of the liquid from compote, add 50 gr of raw sugar to it and simmer on a low heat until is half reduced.

 

For the cake I made a heart mould from aluminium foil and I baked it in a 8″ round baking tin to keep the heart shape. Otherwise use 6″ cake tin for baking.

Heat the oven to 175C. Place baking paper on the bottom of the baking tin and spray with oil heart shape mould sides. If you are using 6″ cake tin, just lay the baking paper around your baking tin.

Separate egg whites from egg yolks. Place the egg whites in a medium size bowl and beat for 2 minutes using hand mixer. Add sugar and continue to beat for another 3-4 minutes or until the mixture is creamy white and holds a soft shape.

In a different bowl mix the egg yolks with a small hand whisker. Scrape egg yolks into the egg whites mixture and fold with spatula. Add flour, baking powder and fold into the eggs mixture. On the end add walnuts and stir gently until all combined. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until cake is golden colour and cake tester comes out clean.

Cool cake on the cooling rack while preparing the compote for serving the cake. Take  out compote and syrup from the fridge at least and hour before serving the cake (so it can warm up on room temperature). Place quinces on every piece of the cake, pour the syrup over and decorate with fresh mint.

Battenberg cake

Autumn is starting to be one of my favourites seasons. The changes in colours, weather and even our moods are very generous in their spectrum. A little bit of everything. Unpredictable both ways, good or bad can surprise us at any time.  It’s the weather – many would say. I would add – it’s Autumn! I see everything in layers and colours.  A bit of green, a little bit of glorious gold and reddish lines and spots everywhere and brown of course – the inevitable colour of soil. If I was born on this side of planet, I would be an Autumn person with all the layers in between.

Just like this gorgeous cake! Two different colours, and in my opinion they are Autumn colours, a bit of jam in between and there are the layers of different tastes. I’ve chosen just a plain icing for this one but have to add that the original version is covered with marzipan and it tastes wonderful… but, just recently I was introduced to Alchermes, and I was instantly intrigued by the name, look and the complete appearance of this scarlet liquid. I had to include it into my baking and to start I made this nourishing one, to celebrate the Autumn season. I’ve added a few drops of Alchermes into the icing as well as to the cake itself. What a wonderful and intriguing aroma but no one would expect less from a liquid with a Hermes the son of Zeus as a part of its name.

I thought the cake will be quite buttery for my taste but it is just as it should be. Moist and rich! Just a few almonds make all the difference and shouldn’t be avoided. And Alchermes, oh what an indulgence! Just wait until the smell from the oven conquers the whole house.

Battenberg cake

350 gr butter

350 gr sugar

6 eggs

1  teaspoon vanilla paste

280 gr plain flour

100 gr ground almonds

2 teaspoon aluminium free baking powder

2 tablespoons of Alchermes

Filling:

100 gr jam (I used this plum jam)

Icing:

250 gr powdered sugar

a few drops of Alchermes

1 teaspoon of water

Heat oven to 180C.

Mix the butter with the sugar until pale, in a large size bowl. Add the eggs and whisk for another 4-5 minutes. Add the vanilla paste and mix slowly one more time. In a different bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and almonds. Add to the butter mixture and combine all using spatula or hand mixer on a very slow speed. Once all combined, divide butter in two (ideally using scales to be precise) and in one of them add Alchermes. Mix until all ingredients well combined and pour into a lined baking tin.

In case you don’t have two 10x20cm baking tins you can use one 20×20 cm baking tin, which is more common in many kitchens. Divide the baking tin in two by putting a thick piece (a few times folded) of aluminium foil lengthways, imitating the wall of a baking dish   – which is what I do and it works perfectly. Bake for 45 minutes or until baked.

Once baked, leave on a cooling rack to cool before transferring to the refrigerator to cool completely. This way it’ll be much easier to cut the cake, which is our next step. Use a ruler if you have to and try to make a straight cut so you get 4 ( 2 each colour cake) nice pieces.

Assembling the cake : place all four pieces, making sure you have one plain and one pink cake next to each other. Spread all tops with jam, turn the jam sides facing each other and glue the cakes. Repeat with the other two cakes.

One more time, spread the jam, this time on the top of two already “glued” cakes and place the other two on the top. Make sure you follow the pattern, one plain and one pink, when finishing assembling the cake.

Mix the powdered sugar with the water and Alchermes and spread over the cake. The cake is not so “firm” because it’s not wrapped in marzipan as the original recipe says but we love the rustic look of the cake and the fact that you can choose and divide the piece you want to eat first – or at least that was the way one of our friends saw it when she tasted the cake for the first time.

Mini olive oil and buttermilk chocolate cakes for a school boy

It was an early hour, I was still drinking my first coffee. Maksim looked like he was deep in his thoughts and just when I thought how quiet and peaceful mornings could be – the first words came out. Mum, does a train crossing gate have cells? When he saw my eyes open wide, he decided to explain – because it moves by itself! Hmm, well you know that train crossing gate have a motor that operates mostly on power and… Oh yes, I know, but what do we call those little things …? Oh yes, I know, atoms! You see mum most people think that houses are built out of bricks but you know bricks are built out of atoms! So the bricks are built out of atoms and then the houses are built out of bricks! Isn’t that right mum? Hmm, well…

This conversation took place just a few weeks before our new venture was about to start. Prep 2015 and Maksim as a part of it! If we ever doubted that he is ready for school, well I guess this was the time to erase all doubts and start just looking forward to it. And we did! We are still enjoying this venture that just started I know, but a good start is all we wanted for now! So a celebration took place. A few times now, really. We have baked many cookies and cakes, but I’d like to share this little simple recipe because I still think …”little cakes for a little boy” – even though he is ready for school.

 

I knew that 2015 was going to be special, and one thing leads to others- 2015 will always be remembered as the start of school for one little boy (and his nervous parents). Another milestone for our little family and another challenge for all of us! But the good news is – we were ready, and I know that for sure now because we are half way through the first term and still smiling!

This is to celebrate many new beginnings and may all be as smooth and happy as this one! And for all the mum’s who are as nervous as I was, I can only say – no need to be…everything is going to be just fine! Let’s bake a cake!

 

 

Mini chocolate cakes

300 gr white spelt flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

200 gr raw sugar

90 gr cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla sugar (or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste)

3 eggs

120 ml olive oil

200 ml buttermilk

100 ml hot water

Icinig:

250 gr powdered sugar

1/2 lemon juice

1 lemon zest (optional)

1 teaspoon cold water

Heat oven to 175C. Grease muffin tin with oil ( I used canola spray oil).

In a medium size mixing bowl mix eggs with sugar using whisker. Add the oil slowly (like when you make mayonnaise) and whisk. Add the buttermilk and mix slowly with the whisker. In a different bowl mix all dry ingredients and then add to the wet mixture. At the end add warm water and mix until well combined.

Fill muffin tin 3/4 with the butter and bake for 20 minute or until cake checker comes out dry. Cool on a cooling rack until mixing the icing. Mix all the ingredients for the icing and pour over cooled muffins. Decorate the way you like!

Gluten free hidden treasure – almond cake

Awakening – Anthony de Mello, were my first thoughts this morning. I reached for the book on my shelf, read so many times and yet needed to be read one more time. This simple and nourishing book is needed occasionally to awaken me. That would be the simple but honest reason. The other might be a sleepless night, blurred thoughts and the need for (besides a strong coffee) a straight and fast quality in my life.

The interesting part of this story though, is that  just a few shelves away from my brain cell stimulating books, I keep my other nourishing books (or at last some of them, because honestly  they are all around the house, refusing to find one place to stay). I am talking about ones with all the magic ingredients for a sweet life, the ones that give you instant relief amongst all the answers. And the right answer always is – indulge yourself! (because we are a selfish species anyway – a very rough description of much deeper thoughts of the above mentioned wise person).

So what happened here today is that I fed myself twice. Since I took two books, or to be more precise a book and a note book also known as recipe book in my house, and without a vivid explanation I reached for an almost forgotten, slightly mysterious recipe called Almond cake! What could possibly be mysterious about Almond cake ? Well you see all the recipes in my recipe book have a short explanation about their background. Even just a name of the person who gave me the recipe would tell me a lot about a desert, but in this case there was no explanation on the background subject, except for my smudgy handwriting at the right top corner, saying “Auntie’s cake”?! Don’t laugh! I spent whole morning thinking about the mysterious Auntie, since we are not talking about my Auntie here. Whose Auntie that could be and why didn’t I write a clearer explanation? No answer here: again, all the answers are in the cake. And the cake itself! Oh you need to taste this one, as my words are simply not enough!

The cake is made from four ingredients. Like many old recipes, it’s simple to make but divine in it’s simplicity and most importantly it’s gluten free! I used unblanched almonds (the only reason is laziness since I couldn’t get the blanched ones and couldn’t be bothered to blanche and dry them for a few hours) so the cake is slightly darker that it should be. Not a problem at all.  As a matter of fact, if you find yourself to be in the same situation, don’t hesitate to do the same. Also I love the almond essence twist. The cake is quite moist thus can be served as it is and enjoyed. Of course your preference may be different so you can  serve it with whipped cream or maybe adding lemon zest can make it even better. I’ll leave it to you!

Almond cake – gluten free

5 eggs

125 gr caster sugar

125 gr unsalted butter (melted and left to cool on a room temperature)

150 gr almond meal

1 1/2 teaspoon almond essence

pinch of salt

Heat oven to 180 C. Grease and line with baking paper 22cm round tin.

If you don’t use almond meal, the one you can buy at the markets you can grind the blanched (also can be both at the supermarkets) or unblanched ones until very fine.

Separate the yolks from the whites and place them in two bowls. In the one with the egg yolks add the sugar and beat 3-5 minutes or until very pale and light. Add the butter and beat until all combined. Reduce the speed of your mixer and add almond essence and almond meal. Mix until all incorporated.

Add sea salt in the bowl with the egg whites and beat for 4-5 minutes or until egg whites are stiff and glossy. Combine two mixtures by adding the egg whites to the other mix, mixing gently with a spatula so you don’t lose the air from the egg whites.

Pour into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45-50 minutes to until cake tester comes out clean.

Cool on a cooling rack and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Polenta pound cake with strawberry jam glazing

Sometimes the words are not enough, you just have to bake a cake! Nonetheless, I would like to add a word or two – as I always do. This year has been amazing for me. There are a few reasons, but the one I am particularly proud of is this space and me being brave (and persistent) enough to make the start. I should really stop here and save a word or two for my end of a first year in blogging post, as I plan to achieve that, but the end of the year makes me reflecting on a few things. Plus, besides celebrating the end of the year and start of the new one, I get to celebrate my birthday as well, so one calendar year means literally one personal year to me.

Yes, I am almost a Christmas baby – you can guess how many times I’ve heard that one before. I’ll just add regarding the timing, the only stressful part for me (when I was little) was getting enough presents for all the occasions – which I did, so no harm done. Nowadays I am happy to go out for a dinner with my husband or host a dinner party at our place, that is all – oh and maybe a small and thoughtful present.

Of course, there is always a cake. I’ve mentioned earlier that since I remembered we had a chocolate cake, Sacher, in particular, for all our birthday parties. This time, I’ve decided that it has been a precedent long enough and it is time for a change. Luckily I am the main baker in the house so voilà this time on the menu is – polenta pound cake.

Polenta pound cake 

150 gr maize flour

30 gr polenta

60 gr rice flour

60 gr semolina

1 teaspoon aluminium free baking powder

150 ml milk (add juice of half lemon before pour into a mixture)

120 ml olive oil

3 eggs

180 gr raw sugar

1 lemon zest

icing

100 gr strawberry jam

250 gr powdered sugar

juice of half lemon

Heat oven to 180C.

In a medium size bowl pulse eggs with sugar until pale. Add milk, olive oil, lemon zest and pulse again. Add flours and baking powder and mix until loose all lumps. Pour into a greased 6″ round tin  and bake for 40 minutes or until cake sticker comes out dry.

Cool onto a cooling rack until completely cool, then spread strawberry jam on the top (if jam is too thick add a drop of water to make it thinner).

Mix powdered sugar with a few drops of lemon juice until reach desired thickness and ice the cake.

Happy holidays everyone!

Chocolate buckwheat torte

Today we went to visit our friends who live in the same city but 40km away from us. That can make things difficult, mainly finding the time or the whole day for a trip like this. Then again, the bonus besides seeing the friends is that they live near the beach and one 5 year old boy with rather strong opinions pushed us all in that direction. Well, I guess who would resist 40 km driving over a beautiful day spent in good company, with good food, wine and of course cakes. I promised (firstly to myself) to make buckwheat cookies and another cookie (which is going to be part of one of my next posts since I haven’t taken the photos yet) but at the last-minute I decided to make this cake as well. I have seen it on Jul’s Kitchen blog, I was instantly attracted and I couldn’t stop thinking about it; literally. Something had to be done and I was just looking for an excuse, if one needs an excuse for a cake like this.

The cake was everything I expected and more. No need to go back to my love for buckwheat flour I guess, so we can go straight to how divine this combination of buckwheat flour and almond meal is. Add hazelnuts and chocolate, and you get a perfect cake that is worthwhile skipping a whole meal for – any meal really, starting from breakfast because this cake is so versatile. It could be packed for a  picnic treat; It could be easily served for morning tea, afternoon tea or as part of a gala dinner feast. I can’t decide if is it better when it’s still warm or a day after straight from the fridge. So I would say, it’s delicious either way.

Buckwheat torte

100 gr plain flour

150 gr buckwheat flour

100 gr almond flour

50  gr finely chopped hazelnuts

6 eggs

300 gr sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

100 gr melted butter

icing sugar for dusting

Chocolate filling:

2 tablespoon plain flour

3 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoon icing sugar

330 ml milk

Beat the eggs with the sugar until you get a light coloured mixture that indicates the fluffiness you are after. Add plain flour, buckwheat flour, almond meal and baking powder. Mix with a spatula and add chopped hazelnuts. At the end add melted butter and mix gently.

First time, I baked cake in 9” baking tin for 50 min on 180C, and I was pleased with the result. Then I tried 6″ and I baked the cake in three of them – again I was pleased with the result (baking time was a bit shorter, up to 40 minutes).You just can’t go wrong with this one, but I’ll leave to you to make a decision.

For the chocolate filing, you need to sift all dry ingredients. This procedure is especially important when it comes to cocoa powder. Once that is done mix them together and slowly add warm milk. Mix well with whisker and place on a low heat. Continue to whisk and keep it on the low heat until you get the consistency of pudding. I like this chocolate filling. It’s very easy to make, and it goes perfectly with buckwheat cake. This is one of those recipes that you would consistently repeat, for many years.

The cake needs to be completely cooled before slicing into three layers. Assemble the cake by adding two layers of chocolate and dust with sugar on the top. No need for anything else, it is perfect as it is.