Baking Challenge – European Style: Week 8 – Ireland

Summer is finally here! This will be the first complete week with┬áhigh temperatures here in Germany!!! Yeah! Of course, this has nothing to do with baking whatsoever, but I’m just so excited! ­čÖé

But back to baking… I’ve decided to go with Ireland this week. A friend of mine has just been there and those pictures of green meadows, rough hills and the stormy ocean are just inspiring. Everything seems to be so lush and natural.

Whenever I think about Irish food, nothing sweet comes to mind. Maybe that’s because it’s so well known for its Guiness and more hearty dishes? However when I rummaged around the Internet, plenty of sweet recipes popped up. Since it’s going to be hot this week (have I already mentioned this?!? ;-)) I don’t want to spend more time than absolutely necessary in the kitchen. Therefore I picked a rather simple recipe: the Irish spotted dog. This is a fruity soda bread. I like those cake-like breads, because they make ┬áan easy snack and usually can be kept for a while.

So, I’m baking away…

Baking Challenge – European Style: Swedish Toscakaka

Yummy! Is about all I have┬áto say about this cake. It’s buttery, almondy deliciousness.

I’ve combined several recipes and changed it according to my taste. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients:
Featured image dough:
140 gr. flour
1,5 tsp baking powder
135 gr. sugar
125 gr butter (melted or at least room temperature)
2 eggs
75 gr. yoghurt (natural, unsweetened)
vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 tbsp milk

topping:
100 gr almonds
55 gr. butter
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp flour

Recipe:

  • Preheat oven to 175┬░ Celsius (345┬░ Fahrenheit).
  • Cream together butter and sugar.
  • Add eggs one by one and incorparate well.
  • Add vanilla extract.

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  • Mix together flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Add part of flour mix and yoghurt/milk. Always alternating between the two until everything is all well mixed together.
  • Grease and flour baking pan (preferably round).
  • Pour dough into baking pan and bake for about 25 minutes.
  • About 5 minutes before you take out the cake, start preparing the topping by putting all topping ingredients into a cooking pot.
  • Set the pot on the stove at medium-high temperature.
  • Start stirring as soon as the mixture starts to melt.
  • Cook until it bubbles up and slightly thickens.Takes about 5 minutes.

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  • Take cake out of the oven and evenly distribute the hot topping mix on the cake.

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  • Bake cake for another 15-20 minutes until the topping bubbles and starts to turn brown.

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Enjoy!

I think I definetely need to go to Sweden now! If only have of the food over there is as good as this cake, I’m going to be in food heaven. ­čÖé

Baking Challenge – European Style: Week 7 – Sweden

After a short break last week, I’m back with week 7 of my European baking challenge. Since Midsummer is such a big thing in Sweden, I decided to go with this wonderful country for this weeks’ challenge.

I’ve never been there, but have a lot of friends who travel there regularly and love it. For me it’s the land of Pippi Longstocking, Bulllerb├╝, red houses and countless lakes. And, of course, the land of Ikea.

However it’s also the land of delicious food – also brought to us by courtesy of Ikea. ­čÖé My husband is a huge fan of their k├Âttbullar (little meatballs) and I love, love, love the little cinnamon buns. For this week I decided to go with another traditional Swedish sweet treat: an almond cake. I haven’t decided yet whether it’s going to be a simple sponge cake or the more fancy Toscakaka with a caramel-almond topping.

If you want to get started with some great Swedish recipes or some travel info about this beautiful country go here:

Swedishfood.com
Pernilla Elmquist
Anne’s Food
Visit Sweden
Nomadic Matt

Baking Challenge – European Style: Italian Focaccia al Formaggio

Oh, I’m sooo late on this one… but sometimes life just gets in the way of even the best laid plans.

Anyways, I’ve finally managed to make the focaccia al formaggio or col formaggio – as it’s called in some parts of Italy. As it turns out, the recipe is real┬ásimple and real good, although I have to admit that I’m probably more one for the more puffy yeast-dough variety. However, this focaccia is perfect with a salad or a snack and I’m sure it will also be a perfect addition to any BBQ.

First off, I don’t think my focaccia al formaggio looked anything like the ones you actually get in Italy. Two reasons for this: reason no. 1 – I had a huge problem stretching the dough. Reason no. 2 – I guess, my cheese dollops were to big?!?

Secondly, I didn’t use the traditional cheese for this, which is called crescenza or stracchino – a mild, soft cow milk cheese. It’s not sold here in any regular supermarket and I didn’t have neither time nor patience to browse through specialty shops. It looks like this cheese is quite close to feta cheese as far as consistency is concerned. I just went ahead and made my own mixture of cream cheese, shredded gouda and parmesan – which was delicous by the way. Some recipes also call for pecorino So I guess it’s up to every cook/baker to choose their own cheese.

Ingredients:

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No cheese here… sorry!

250 gr. flour
125 ml water
25 ml olive oil
1 tsp salt
cheese of your choice (crescenza traditionally)
some extra oil and salt

Recipe:
Make a little mould in the flour and fill it with water, oil and salt.
Knead well.

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That’s what my dough looked like after all the kneading…

Let dough rest for about 30 minutes.
Part dough in two balls of equal size.
Take one half and stretch rather than roll dough very thinly on a cookie sheet or baking pan.
Place dollops of cheese all over the dough.
Take other half of dough and stretch it very thinly as well and place it on top of the cheesy half.
Press dough down in between the cheese balls and puncture it to allow steam to escape.
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Preheat oven as hotly as possible and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
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Cut up and serve hot!

If you make these, please let me know if you found a good way to stretch dough! Thanks a bunch.

Baking Challenge – European Style: Week 6 – Italy

Bella Italia – beautiful scenery, awesome cities and delicious food. I’ve been to Italy a couple of times and I’m always blown away by the great food that you can get at every corner.

However, aside from spaghetti, lasagna and pizza, I usually don’t make anything Italian. Which probably is a big mistake, because there is so much more to traditional Italian cuisine. Since this is a baking challenge, I’m, of course, limited to baked goods. And I have to admit it’s been a close race between sweet and savoury. And the winner is: savoury.

Focaccia al formaggio is simple traditional flat bread. There are a lot of variations. Since I like it to be a complete meal, I’ve decided for the cheese variety which is said to originate from the city of Recco.

There are a lot of great Italian food blogs out there – also with focaccia recipes:
The Italian Dish
Parla Food
Scordo

Baking Challenge – European Style: Icelandic Hj├│nabandssaela

Happy marriage or wedded bliss – that’s what the name of this cake means. Which sounds wonderful.

Making the cake was pretty simple too. Searching the internet I came across several recipes. Each one a bit different from the other. In my previous blog post I announced it to be a rolled oats pie with plum marmelade filling, but it looks like this cake can come with many different fillings – plum, blueberry, rhubarb… Since I had some homemade rhubarb jam on hand, I decided to go along with the rhubarb.

Here’s the recipe I finally went with:

Ingredients
200 gr rolled oats
100 gr whole wheat flour
100 gr regular flour
100 gr raw cane sugar
100 gr soft butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
homemade rhubarb jam

Recipe
Preheat oven to 390┬░ fahrenheit (200┬░ celsius).

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Mix together all dry ingredients.
Add butter and knead with your hands.

Featured imageAdd vanilla and egg and knead well. You’ll have a crumbly kind of dough.

Featured image Take a baking dish/pan and rub it with some soft butter and spread a tbsp of flour around or whatever else you do to avoid that the cake sticks to the pan.

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Take 2/3 of the dough and firmly press it to the bottom of the pan.
Spread a good layer of jam evenly all over the bottom.
Crumble the rest of the dough over the jam just like streusels.
Bake for about 20 minutes.

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Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!

There are some alternatives to this recipe. First off, you could just use any kind of sugar or sweetener. A lot of recipes use the double amount of butter leaving out the egg. You can also substitute the rolled oats for oat flour – and so on… A great recipe can be found on The Icelandic Amateur Chef – along with a lot of other great Icelandic recipes.

Overall, I enjoyed the cake although I’d say that it tastes more like a oat bar. But it’s a tasty and┬ámore healthy alternative to most cakes out there. In addition it keeps well and tastes even better a day or two later.