Friday, 30 January 2009

Marmorkuchen for Lucy (Marble Cake)

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Things have been pretty quiet again here, which is partly because I've been away and have just got back from a four day study trip, taking our students to Berlin. It was very cold and pretty tiring, but well worth it. Even though I am German I had never before been to Berlin, but now that I have I definitely want to return again.

It's a fantastic place with so much going on and so much history to it. We just didn't have anywhere near enough time to do all the things we wanted to do and see all the things we wanted to see, despite our days being absolutely packed.

My friend J. and I stole an hour or two away from everybody else and visited the delicatessen floor in the famous KaDeWe, which is one of Europe's largest department store, second only to Harrod's in London.


Well, if you are a foodie and find yourself in Berlin I can only urge you to go. They sell regional foods from all over Germany and of course imported foods from all over the world. As can be expected it is pricey and some of the things can easily be found in a normal German supermarket for quite a bit less, but a place that sells Norwegian Brunost (Brown Cheese) has to be good in my books. The meat, fish, cheese and bread counters are unbelievable and the same can be said for the selection of coffees, teas, spices, chocolates and alcohol.


Well, now that I have finally caught up on some much needed sleep, I've been baking cake. My friend Lucy is leaving for a month' artist residency in the Shetland Islands tomorrow and her housemates have arranged a little tea party so we can all say our farewells. As I am still in a somewhat German mode I thought I'll bake Marmorkuchen or Marble Cake, because even though it probably isn't exclusively or typically German, it still is the first cake that I ever made by myself as a teenager and it is very popular over there. The recipe is from what is probably the best selling baking book in Germany, Dr. Oetker's Backen Macht Freude (link to the English version) and works every time.


Marmorkuchen (Marbel Cake)

250gr butter or margarine
250gr caster sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (or a splash of vanilla essence)
3-4 eggs
a pinch of salt
1 vial of rum-aroma (I can't get this here in the UK and just left it out)
500gr flour
2 tsp baking powder
about 125ml milk
30gr cocoa powder
25gr sugar
2-3 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 180C/ Gas 4/ 350F.

Using and electric whisk or a food processor, whisk the butter until frothy.

Add the sugar, vanilla sugar (essence), eggs and rum aroma (if using) little by little.

Start adding the flour and milk alternately and continue to mix. Only use enough milk to make a dough that drops of a spoon heavily.

Spoon 2/3 of the dough into a greased and floured Kugelhopf or loaf pan. (You could also use an angel cake pan or a springform pan with a fluted tube insert.)

Add the cocoa powder and sugar to the remaining doug and mix until well combined. Add enough milk to once again achieve a dough that heavily drops of a spoon.

Spoon the dark dough over the light dough. Using a fork, marble the two doughs, by spirally dragging it through both.

Bale for 50-65 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a wooden skwere into the middle. If it comes out clean the cake is done, if there is still dough sticking to the skewer it needs a little longer.

Leave to rest for 5-10 minutes, before carefully turning out onto a cake rack to cool completely.

Dust with icing sugar, before serving.


Saturday, 17 January 2009

Simple Carrot and Coriander Soup - Eating with the Season

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I thought I was gonna miss the January deadline of the Eating with the Season blogging event over at Maninas: food matters, but as it has been extended until 21st January, I get to take part after all.

I had a couple of rather past-their-prime carrots in my vegetable draw. They were left over from last week's carrot cake, which for some reason I never took a picture of, so no blogging about the cake for now (I'll make it again though). So, when I was making a tentative meal plan before going food shopping yesterday, I thought of making some Carrot & Coriander Soup.

Not only would I be using up what I still had, rather than wasting it, but if you read this blog regularly you will know that I love soup. Of course I wouldn't get far with my two sad looking exemplars, so I picked up some more super fresh carrots from the Unicorn co-operative grocery and today I was ready to make soup.


Carrots are one of my favourite root vegetables. They are in season from pretty much April through to June, so most of the year and of course they are also good for you because of their high content of pro-vitamin A, as well as containing vitamins C, D, E, K, B1 and B6.

Simple Carrot & Coriander Soup (serves 4)

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
1lb carrots, sliced
1 tsp ground coriander
2 pints vegetable stock
large bunch fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the sliced onions and the carrots. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until they begin to soften.

Stir in the ground coriander and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, continue to cook for another minute.

Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender.

Puree with a hand blender or in a blender until smooth.

Return to the pan, reheat briefly, stir in the fresh chopped coriander and serve with some fresh, crusty bread.



Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Starting the year with a bang or at least a Yoghurt Bombe

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I'm back in England, back at work, back to grey January skies. Our students are also back and I am already counting the days until the Easter holidays. That's bad, isn't it? I'm sure it'll get better again, but I kind of wish that at least January and February were out of the way at least, they are probably my two least favourite months of the year.

I've got a great dessert recipe to share. My mum made it while I was home, it's easy and quick (if you don't count the resting and chilling time), no cooking involved and it looks pretty too. M. reduced the amount of cream by half and just increased the amount of yoghurt to make it less fattening and it worked just as well and was just as good. I've printed the original recipe with the original amounts here though, so you can try it out and make your own adjustments. This is lovely in winter because it tastes fresh and fruity, but it is also lovely and light for the warmer months.

If you try it really do make sure to tuck the cheesecloth safely into the bowl underneath, otherwise the liquid that drains from the yoghurt mix will make a mess in your fridge. I speak from (my mum's) experience!

Yoghurt Bombe (Joghurtbombe)
serves 4
500gr natural yoghurt
120gr sugar
2tsp vanilla sugar
200ml whipping cream
250gr mixed berries or other fruit
fruit coulis (optional)

In a bowl mix the yoghurt, sugar and vanilla sugar.

Whisk the cream until stiff and mix in with the yoghurt.

Line a fine meshed sieve with a clean cheese cloth or dish towel and place over a larger bowl, making sure that the ends of the cloths are safely tucked into the bowl (otherwise you'll find a huge mess in your fridge the next day).

Pour the yoghurt/cream mix into the sieve and chill over night.

Remove from fridge and place a plate upside down over the sieve. Quickly turn everything over and carefully remove the sieve and the cheesecloth.

Garnish with fruit and coulis.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Onion and Goats Cheese Flan

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I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and let me wish you a happy and healthy 2009!

One last post from Germany before I fly back to England on Monday. The Christmas dinner went well, no major disasters, we could have only done with a few more sprouts. I'll share the recipe for the roast when I get back. It was good and definitely tasted of Christmas, with all the Cranberries and spices in the filling.

For now I have one more recipe to share that has been a longtime favourite with me and which I also made for the party last month. Ever since I first made Onion and Goats Cheese Flan have I been 'in love' with it. Making it involves peeling and chopping nearly 1kg of onions, but it is so well worth it. The result is a flan filled to bursting with sweet, caramelised onions and topped with a wonderful mild and tangy chevre. Perfect, complementary flavours. Whenever I make it for a party, BBQ or Picnic, I look forward to taking the leftovers to work the next day, but I should know better by now, because there never are any.


If you don't like making your own pastry or are pushed for time, just use some shop bought pastry or even a ready made pastry case.

Onion and Goats' Cheese Flan (makes 1 flan)

For the pastry:
300 g plain flour
150 g butter, softened
1-2 tbsp water

For the filling:
2 tbsp olive oil
750 g red onions, finely sliced (that's about 4 very large onions)
4-6 shallots, finely sliced
1 tsp sugar
1tbsp fresh thame, chopped
150 g goats' cheese, preferably a mild, creamy variety
1 egg
3 egg yolks
100 ml double cream
100 ml milk 1-2 teaspoon
1-2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

To make the pastry, sift the flower and 1/2 tsp of salt into a bowl.

Add the butter and with you fingers rub the butter into the flower until absorbed.

Add water to form a thick but workable dough.

Cover the pastry in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

On a lightly flowered surface roll out the pastry thinly to cover a 28 cm flan dish.

Prick the base a couple of times with the fork and bake blind in a preheated oven (200 C, 400 F or Gas Mark 6) for about 15-20 minutes.

While the pastry is baking start on making the filling by heating oil in a large frying pan.

Fry the onions and shallots on a gentle heat until soft and starting to colour, around 15-20 minutes.

Add the sugar, thyme and salt to taste and mix well.

Spread the onions into the part-paked pastry case.

Beat the egg, yolks, cream and milk together and pour the mixture over the onions.

Crumble the goats' cheese over the top and sprinkle with some black pepper.

Bake in a preheated oven (200 C, 400 F or Gas Mark 6) until the filling has set, approximately 25-40 minutes.