Saturday, 28 July 2012

Brown Soda Bread

The easiest bread in the world
Today I was peckish and fancied a freshly baked loaf, still hot from the oven, smothered in butter. But I am impatient and didn't want to have it take hours with lots of kneading and proving and all that. That's for nice lazy days, earmarked for bread making. So I opted for soda bread which takes 46 minutes - 1 minute to prepare, 45 to bake.

225g wholemeal flour (I used the type with lots of seeds in)
225g strong plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp butter
1 egg
350ml buttermilk

- preheat the oven to 200C and lay a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray
-combine all of the dry ingredients in to a large bowl and make a well
- beat the egg in to the buttermilk. Pour most of it into the well. Gradually bring the dry in to the wet using a spoon or your hand
- add enough of the buttermilk so that the dough is soft but not too sticky. Once everything's mixed, form in to a rounded shape, place on the baking sheet and slash a big line or a cross in to the surface.
-bake for 40 minutes, remove and serve with lashings of salted butter.

Plum Crumble Cheesecake


When I visited Hamburg with some friends a few years ago I got a tasty treat from the bakery. It was delicious- some sort of cake with fruit and a lovely crunchy topping. What with not knowing any German and being bad at remembering things, I had no idea what it was and has since been know as a blat of yum. Now I live in Berlin, I have seen hundreds of blats of yum! And I now know that they are 'streuselkuchen'. I've come across lots of things with streusel and decided to bake a cheesecake with it on top. It's got more of a cake than a biscuit base. 

I spent a little while translating (thank you google) a cheesecake recipe I found in a magazine. It uses quark....when in Rome-or, rather, Berlin! You can get different types of quark, so I opted for the fattiest, creamiest kind. The recipe was for a massive cake, so I altered it and added in a few extra bits and pieces. I have baked this twice, adjusting it here and there. The first one went well, but there was way too much bready base which made all the cheese topping spill out when it was baked. This second version has a much better balance.

For the dough:
200g plain flour
25g sugar
30g butter
pinch of salt
10g fresh yeast (or equivalent instant)
300ml lukewarm milk

For the filling:
100g sugar
380g 40% fat quark/sahnequark
20g flour 
3 eggs
3 tblsp milk 
the seeds from a vanilla pod/vanilla extract

For the topping
250g plums, stoned and sliced
25g sugar
50g cold butter
50g plain flour

-Preheat the over to 185C and line a loose bottomed round tin (21cm) with baking paper. Line the sides too - you want to create extra height all the way around. Set it on a baking tray.
-put the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Crumble the yeast in to some of the warmed milk and stir to dissolve. Pour this in to the well and sprinkle a little of the flour on top. Cover with a cloth and leave for 10 mins.
-add some of the milk to the butter in a small bowl and mix. They won't mix together properly, but you want the butter to soften without becoming liquid. Add this, the salt and the sugar to the flour and mix. Add more of the milk until the dough starts to come away from the side of the bowl. Roll it out and line the cake tin with it - you will have some left over, it rises as it bakes!
-Put all of the filling ingredients in to a bowl and whisk till smooth. Pour this on to the dough. Scatter the plum slices on the top. Some will sink a bit, but that's ok.
- make a crumble mixture with the sugar, flour and butter by rubbing the ingredients with your fingertips, nice and lightly. Sprinkle this on the top of the plums.
-Bake for 40 mins checking after 30. It should be slightly golden.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Carrot Cake

Carroty and Cakey
I've been making carrot cake with the same recipe for a few years. It's a tried and tested one that I've tweaked in to tastiness along the way, but, alas! I forgot to bring the recipe with me to Berlin, so I have had to try and remember what it was. It could have all gone horribly wrong, but I think that it went pretty well-considering I haven't made this for over a year and I did it from memory. This recipe will do for now but could be replaced with an improved one. I couldn't find any soft dark brown sugar in the shop, so that was a bit of a shame. It's carrot, it's cake, it's got cream cheese icing- what's going to be bad about that?

225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
150g brown sugar
100g sultanas
2 very ripe, blackened bananas- mashed
250g carrots, grated
130ml sunflower oil
3 medium eggs
1 lemon, zested 
1 tsp cinammon
2 tsp grated ginger

200g cream cheese at room temp
2 tblsp very soft butter
85g icing sugar

-preheat the oven to 180C and line the bas of a 20cm/8" spring form tin with baking paper.
-sift all the dry ingredients in to a large bowl. Add the sultanas and carrot and mix. Add the banana mush and mix. 
-beat the eggs in to the oil, pour in and combine thoroughly. Add half the zest and a little squeeze of lemon juice, if you fancy.
-pour the batter in to the tin and bake for around 1 1/4 hours, checking after one. If a knife doesn't come out clean, stick it back in for 10 mins.
-leave it in the tin for a bit, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
sliced and ready for cream cheese
-meanwhile! Make the icing. Squish the butter around in a bowl with the back of a spoon then add in a few tablespoons of the cheese. Mix them together, then add in the rest of the cheese. Sift in the icing sugar and stir gently (lest you should be surrounded in a cloud of sugar!). Add the rest of the zest, cover and chill.
-Either slice the cake in half and sandwich half the icing in the middle and the other half on the top, or just spoon the lot on the top of the cake in a single layer.
-ready to eat!