It is not my fault that I am craving sweets constantly, it’s the C21 H30 O5. Yes cortisol generally known as stress hormone. Sounds like a flimsy excuse? In this case I would never admit that you are right!
As I usually don’t want to buy something to eat on the run and I know I’ll be hungry in a whim, I like to have a sandwich or other healthy alternative on hand when I leave my home. But I bring most of it right back at night. What happened? This nasty stress hormone tricked me again and again and again. I occasionally save the world or just the tiler with getting the requested bull nose tiles (did you know there is such thing? Me neither!). Fighting the Atlanta traffic, hunting down this
damn needed tiles, all this means stress to me and my craving for sweets kicks in. Than I pass by this doughnut store, I just can’t close my eyes, I am driving right! Right? So I end up eating this tasty unhealthy stuff and don’t even feel bad about it. Because again it’s the cortisol…
Some weeks ago Mr. F and I took a break from all this renovating and joint a cooking class with Les Dames d’Escoffier, fancy name for fancy ladies: Cynthia Graubart, Tamie Cook, Virginia Willis, Pastry Chef Heather Hurlbert, Caterer Dana Dabruzzi and Mixologist Lara Creasy. The funny thing is we just met most of them at the food blog south conference in Birmingham, Al. It was more than a cooking class, we enjoyed a whole menu, received great advise for wine pairing and table decorating. But it hit me when Heather Hurlbert prepared the dessert: oatmeal spice cake with brown sugar pecan icing and orange caramelized apples. This piece of cake deserved a heck of a name, it was spot on. I loved the idea to have a use for leftover breakfast oatmeal, it’s like recycling! I skipped a lot of her original recipe, I didn’t wanted a dessert. I wanted whole grains. I wanted something to take with me, something I can nibble on while I stuck in line at a hardware store. I sadly said good bye to the icing and caramel and even reduced the method to the limit. I took as many shortcuts as possible, renovating is a tough job and I wasn’t in the mood for extra work. Since then I made this cake with many modifications, the following one is the latest, but another very successful one had been apple with cinnamon and roasted hazelnuts (see below in the notes).
gingered oatmeal cake with carrots
- 190 ml / 3/4 cup water
- 50 g / 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
- or 200 g / 3/4 cup leftover oatmeal
- 175 g / 4 midsize carrots, peeled
- 140 g / 1 1/8 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 130 g / 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 60 g / 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 2 Tbsp granulated sugar (for topping)
- In a small saucepan add water and oats and cook 5 minutes, let cool. Skip if you use leftover oatmeal.
- Preheat your oven to 175 C / 350 F and grease your 18 cm / 7 inch springform pan.
- In a medium bowl measure whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt and set aside.
- In your food processor shred the carrots. Remove the shredding disc and add the chopping blades.
- Add sugar, egg, butter, vanilla extract, ginger and process for a few seconds.
- Add dry ingredients, pulse until just combined. Pour batter into springform pan and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp sugar.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes before removing from baking pan.
- Serve with yoghurt (or whipped cream) and sprinkle with freshly grated lime zest.
- Skip the carrots and the ginger and add one medium apple (peeled and grated), 75 g / 2.6 oz. hazelnuts, (roasted and ground) and 1/2 tsp cinnamon (ground).
- You can use all purpose flour (140 g / 1 1/8 cups) instead of whole wheat flour.
- Certainly you can use a box grater and a mixer instead of a food processor.
It’s been a while since my last post. And the one before had also been later than usually. This is not me moaning and telling you I have a creative break down or I lost my writing juices. In fact my creativity is overwhelming recently and I wrote several brilliant posts but just in my head. You may wonder what I am up to and I will tell you.
I am painting! Watercolor or oil painting? Nope wall paint in fact. We are going to move into an old but nearly new place in Atlanta, which needs some tender loving care. I omit the jacuzzi and the walk in refrigerator but I still have a long list of wishes unfortunately every budget has a limit. DIY painting sounded like a good option to save some bucks for fulfilling some of my dreams from my wish list. So far I am happy with the results. Some of those days I would rather sit in a cubicle, sipping coffee and hide for a while, rather than rolling, rolling and rolling color all over the walls. But at the end, seeing a day’s work makes me appreciate my future home even more. Even if I fell asleep way too early, missing out reading time for books and blogs and taking pictures.
And where went all the genius blog post in my head? Gone! Maybe scrubbed away with all the paint on my hands, face and hair. But after I got knocked out at night, there is nothing left of them next morning. Some might think they had never been real, I know better.
In fact cooking and food had been on the back bench for some weeks. I am still eating, good lord eating is not the right word, renovating makes me inhaling whole cows. But I haven’t thought about food that much, usually I have food on my mind all day long, I mean all day, every hour, every minute. One of the rare occasions I was not attached to a paint roller, searching for perfect toilet bowls or looking for a tile that I might still love in a couple of years, I went for cookbook shopping. Yes I still haven’t found a cure for that. I came across Home Baked Comfort (William Sonoma) by Kim Laidlaw. It was the title that let me grab it, so inviting and magnetic. Paint came into my way again and I saved the first reading until I knew I would have heaps of time and not be interrupted. The first time is the best, don’t you thing? So it took a while but after I finished, a great deal of colorful bookmarks decorated the top of the book. Although I already know baking all of them would be a 500.000 calories journey, I started with hazelnut streusel bread (page 62) and changed it to my liking. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Home Baked Comfort by Kim Laidlaw, recipe by Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan, Huckleberry Café and Bakery in Santa Monica, CA.
for the streusel:
- 30g / 4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 80 g / 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
- 55 g / 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, very soft
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 100 g / 3.5 oz. whole toasted* hazelnuts
for the batter (all ingredients at room temperature):
- 60 g / 2.1 oz. whole toasted* hazelnuts
- 3 tsp. instant espresso powder
- 100 g / 7 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 160 g / 5.6 oz. granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 160 g / 2/3 cup plain yoghurt (I used Greek yoghurt)
- 200 g / 7.1 oz. all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. fine sea salt
- 100 g / 3.5 oz. (½ cup high-piled) white chocolate chips
- Preheat your oven to 175 C / 350 F and grease or line your loaf pan 9 x 5 inch (ca. 23 cm) .
- Add all ingredients for the streusel except the nuts to a midsize bowl.
- Add all (160 g / 5.6 oz.) whole nuts to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Spoon 100 g / 3.5 oz. to the bowl with for the streusel mix and stir until combined and set aside.
- For the batter continue pulsing the remaining nuts in the food processor until finely ground, remove and add to a big bowl.
- Dissolve espresso powder in 1 Tbsp. water.
- Add butter and sugar to the food processor (keep the blade) and blend to cream, add eggs, dissolved espresso and yoghurt and continue blending, stop to scrap down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and pulse just until combined.
- Pour batter to the finely ground nuts in the big bowl, add white chocolate chips and stir shortly.
- Add ½ of the batter into the loaf pan, sprinkle with ½ of the streusel, top with the other ½ of the batter and remaining ½ of the streusel.
- Bake 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out without crumbs clinging to it.
- Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
For toasting the raw nuts: spread on a dry baking sheet and bake at 350 F for 5-7 minutes. Keep an eye on them, they go from fragrant to burned in a whim.
Add more espresso powder if you prefer more coffee taste, 3 tsp. are just enough to enhance the flavor of the nuts.
Heads up this might change your life! Stuff your mum didn’t told you and never will: it is totally fine to have cake for breakfast! Didn’t know that? You are welcome!
I kind of told the news at the front door and revealed already in the post title that we are talking about serious breakfast cake eating. And now you may wonder what’s the big difference between regular and breakfast cake? Yes me too… Here is my explanation in a nutshell: breakfast cake is still a meal not a dessert (let’s pretend), it’s more dense like a muffin, less sweater but no not healthier at all.
This cake stuck around for four days last week. It sat on the kitchen table and shrank as if by magic. We were constantly cutting off a piece, a slice or a corner. Sometimes when I had the need for something sweet, I drizzled honey on top or coated it with homemade marmalade. And yes there is booze in my breakfast cake and there is nothing wrong with that, but you might want to skip it if you feed it to kids.
Double banana & cherry breakfast cake
- 80 ml / 1/3 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 60 ml / ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 -3 very ripe bananas
- 1 egg
- 200 g / 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. fine sea salt
- 85 g / 1 ½ cup dried cherries
- 2 Tbsp. brandy, bourbon or other booze (optional)
- 100 g/ 1 1/3 banana chips
- 1 Tbsp. turbinado sugar
- Preheat your oven to 180 C / 350 F and grease your 18 cm / 7 inch round cake pan or springform pan.
- In a small bowl add dried cherry and brandy and let soak for 30 minutes.
- In a medium bowl measure flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
- Add banana chips to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until you have tiny pieces, some might be pulverized that’s ok. Remove and set aside.
- Add oil, maple syrup, ripe bananas and egg to the bowl of your food processor (attached with the blade) and run the motor for 10 seconds.
- Add flour mix and pulse just until combined. Add cherries and banana chips crumbs and pulse shortly.
- Pour batter into cake pan, sprinkle with turbinado sugar and bake until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean for about 35 to 40 minutes.
Use 2 large or 3 small bananas!
Believe me or not but November is almost over. Like every year December will arrive sooner as expected and with that the holiday season will officially start. I would like to tell you, I got all my gifts for my loved ones, wrapped and ready to go. But that’s only half the truth and the other half is a lie. Don’t get me wrong, I think Christmas is not all about that but I love to pick presents, for me it’s a nice part of it. At least I got my Christmas tree up and good lord that is a wonder.
For me the most precious gifts are at least chosen with heart and care or even better they are handmade. Although I baked this fruitcake just for me and I won’t share if I don’t have to, it makes an excellent gift especially if you want to ship it. It is actually more like a bread, stays nicely in shape and the best part, it gets even more delicious when it sits or travels for a few days. It is a very traditional recipe at least before I laid my hands on it. As I love to bake at least one fruitcake every season I tweaked it a little bit every time and more for a German recipe unusual ingredients sneaked in. I switched hazelnuts and almonds for walnuts but pecans will also work just fine. As for the dry fruit part, I skipped candied lemon peel and added lime zest to balance the sweetness of the fruits. Be creative with your dried fruit choices, I usually add figs and/or dates but run out of them and I had to use up those dried plums sitting in my pantry for too long (even for dried plums). The dried cranberries in company with dried apricots add a little color and different flavors. Mix and match but you should have 600 g / 21.2 oz. all together at the end. If you like and you have time for that, let them sit in a little booze like rum, amaretto or Cointreau over night or a couple of hours. I like my slice of Früchtebrot with some salted butter or cream cheese, but that’s maybe just me?
Früchtebrot, German Christmas Fruitcake
- 110 g / ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 100 g / ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey
- 3 large eggs
- 150 g / 1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. fine sea salt
- 250 g / 8 ¾ oz. dried plums, chopped
- 50 g / 1 ¾ oz. dried golden raisins
- 100 g / 3 ½ oz. dried cranberries
- 200 g / 7 oz. dried apricots, chopped
- 1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. Cointreau (optional)
- grated zest of one lime
- 225 g / 8 oz. chopped walnuts
- Preheat your oven to 175 C / 350 F. Grease and line a loaf pan 23 cm / 9 x 5 inch with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
- Beat butter, brown sugar and maple syrup or honey at medium speed with an electric mixer. Add eggs and continue beating.
- Add flour mix and beat at low speed just until blended. Stir in remaining ingredients with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
- Spread evenly in prepared loaf pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack. Store airtight for 3 days for an enriched flavor (good luck with that).
Happy Thanksgiving guys, I hope you all had a great day. My day started with morning coffee in my bed, the sun was shining and I had this comforting certainty for once not to hurry through the day. I had this chocolate cake with cranberry for breakfast and some delicious turkey later. And in between I just wasted the day, read some magazines, listened to music, went for a walk, drank more coffee and talked with Mr. F about meaningless but important things.
As it was just the two of us for Thanksgiving this year, but I still liked the idea of keeping it ‘traditional’, I skipped the whole bird but couldn’t resist and went for a German recipe for turkey legs. As there is no way of taking a sexy picture of a turkey leg under time pressure, the problem was, I would get in big trouble, if I would make Mr. F stop eating because I need to take some pictures. I hope you understand… so let me know if you are interested in the recipe and I’ll post it in the comments or write you an email.
This being said, let’s talk about cake. Yes you are right I did it again: cranberry. We just had cranberry and apple tart with coconut streusel last time but the thing is, I went a little nuts with this berries and bought a 3 lb. bag which is sitting in my refrigerator. So we had a lot of cranberries in every kind of manner around here. Last weekend I made a cranberry bread with chocolate pieces, though I liked it very much, my guts said: more chocolate. I went back and forth with a brownie recipe and finally decided to go really chocolatey. This flourless chocolate cake is very rich, dense and a little crumbly. I chopped the cranberries in a food processor for just a few seconds, but you can chop them by hand of cause, if you like. They bring an interesting tartness to the cake, which goes so well with the sweet richness. Is it just me or do this cranberry pieces on top look like bacon bites? Well it’s not bacon, sorry for those I have to disappoint right now. Though I already had bacon covered with chocolate, a bacon chocolate cake seams to me kind of gross. Don’t ya think?
flourless chocolate cake with cranberries
- 130 g / 9 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 200 g / 7 oz. semisweet chocolate*, cut in pieces
- 4 egg whites
- 4 egg yolks
- 130 g / 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 140 g / 5 oz. ground hazelnuts
- 2 Tbsp. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 150 g / 1 ½ cups fresh cranberries, chopped
for the glaze:
- 80 g / 2.8 oz. semisweet chocolate
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 40 g / 1/3 cup chopped dried cranberries
- Preheat your oven to 200 C / 400 F and grease your 24 cm / 9 inch springform pan.
- Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler or microwave oven and let cool.
- Beat egg yolks and sugar until pale. Add melted chocolate with butter and mix shortly.
- Add hazelnuts, cocoa powder, salt and cranberries and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
- Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold into batter.
- Transfer batter into springform pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cake will still be soft in the middle and firm than cold.
- For the glaze: melt remaining chocolate with tablespoon butter and spread evenly over cake and sprinkle with chopped dried cranberries.
*I used a mix of different kinds of chocolate, you should use at least one with 45% cocoa but not more than 60% cocoa content.
Number of servings (yield): 12