Pistachio Chocolate Coconut Torte
For my sister’s birthday cake I took her favourite gelato flavours and turned them into a cake. It has two layers of stracciatella coconut sponge filled with a dark chocolate mousse, and topped with a layer of pistachio bavarois.
Despite the fact that my blog is a bit dormant at the moment, I am still baking. Bread, that is. When I’m at my parents’ home in the weekends, I bake as much as the freezer will hold, so they have fresh bread every day. Because the loaves are not very interesting aesthetically, I decided to make this picture post to confirm that in Europe, we indeed live in windmills and castles.
In reality though, these are photos I took in an area of The Netherlands called Salland. My dad always talks about walking along the river Vecht, so he looked for a hiking trail on the Internet and we set off with just a blurry sattelite photo. As my dad has the navigational skills of a blind goldfish, I was in charge of the map. This was a good idea until I decided the forest would be more interesting than the regular path. In all, it took us two-and-a-half hours to find the river. But when we got back home, the rye and wheat loaf (Mischbrot) I baked this morning tasted better than ever before.
Ceci n’est pas une pêche…
It’s All About Frequency
Inspired by the frequencies of nature, sound, and vision, my friend Dorien has created a series of music videos that interact with the woods. For one of her videos, she made an animation of a wild deer, which she projected sky-high on real trees in the forest.
Seeing this video for the first time, it reminded me of the time my friend and I encountered a young deer while we were walking through the woods before sunrise. It was such a peaceful moment, and it is precisely this feeling of being in harmony with nature which she captures so well in her project.
Because my friend will move to Sweden in a month, I decided to make a Swedish-inspired pie, with a moose instead of a deer. It has a healthy wholewheat crust, and a blueberry filling without refined sweeteners, so it is as natural as a pie can get!
Blueberry Coconut Bundt Cake
'Tis the season to be blue. For berries, that is, not for me. On second thoughts, I do scoff them by the handful, so maybe I will end up looking like Violet Beauregarde. I mean, I already suffer from a mild chewing gum addiction and we’ve got the same hairstyle…
So yes, the cake. It’s a wholewheat coconut cake in which I just put loads of berries. We already filled nearly every jam jar in our pantry so what choice did I have?
There was a time when I ate a bagel every day. I used to toast them and slather them with salted butter. My friend and sister will remember this, as they too suffered from bagel addiction.
Thankfully food addictions can be cured, and I have been clean since the summer of 2009. But when my friend brought up the topic some time ago I knew I had to try and make a healthier version of bagels. So I followed this recipe from Sophistic Gourmet and made my own adjustments.
I subsituted half of the flour for wholewheat spelt flour and after poaching the bagels in lightly sweetened water, I set them on a bed of spelt semolina, like the shop-bought ones I know. However, these were so much better, and so much more fun to make!
There’s no such thing as too much pie!
Last week, I provided dinner for 40 people at a farewell party for one of my mother’s colleagues at the library- my most challenging catering job to this date! I made six different tarts and pies as well as three big bowls of salad. I baked my way through two bags of flour, two dozen eggs, three packets of butter, and lots and lots of cheese. Several people thought I owned a catering company, while in fact it was just me in my little kitchen. I made:
- Quiche Lorraine with gruyère cheese and prosciutto ham
- Leek & goat’s cheese tart with pâte brisée
- Potato pie with herbed crème fraîche and homemade rough puff pastry
- Kids-friendly quiche with courgette, carrot, and sweetcorn, Gouda cheese and shortcrust pastry
- Puff pastry tart with with tomato, basil, and buffalo mozarrella
- Little Gem, scallion and cheddar quiche with shortcrust pastry
- Moroccan couscous with peas, raisins, cashew nuts and harissa-honey-lemon dressing
- Green salad with balsamic-vinegar marinated strawberries and mozzarella
- Pasta salad with beans, tomato, and tuna with a Dutch mustard dressing
Only crumbs were left in the pie cases when I received them back - job’s a good’n! On top of that, my mom’s colleague gave me a stack of nice old nineteenth-century American and English classics and a gift card for books. I’m really happy with them, thanks Joke!
Indian Summer Pie
It’s no secret that I love Indian food. I even enjoy the dentist’s nightmares that they call sweets. Inspired by the taste of gulab jamun, kheer, and kulfi I tried to give an Indian twist to a Dutch classic: the rijstevlaai met kersen (a rice pie with a yeasted base, topped with a cherry compote). When I made the rice pudding I was pretty convinced this pie would be a great piece of fusion cooking… until I took a bite of the end result.
The spice mix was too overpowering - even three drops of rosewater can make a rice pie taste like a bar of soap. But the real disaster was the rice. It would not cook properly because the coconut and condensed milk I used were too thick for the rice to absorb it properly, even though I diluted it with water several times and extended the cooking time by 30 minutes.
Nevertheless, the mango and orange compote was a success, as was the idea of adding chopped almonds and pistachio nuts for some extra texture. I still think a Dutch-Indian rice pie could work… but I am leaving this project to rest until I can bear the scent of cardamom and roses again.
Fresh Fruit Pie
I made this one for my mother’s birthday. The pie has a brittle pâte a foncer base with homemade frangipane, topped with mango, grapes, physalis, cherries, golden kiwi and homegrown strawberries, raspberries and redcurrants. Finished with a glossy layer of my mom’s homemade apricot jam.
Roll Against the Clock
I had to break my promise of not baking before my thesis deadline because of a tectonic movement: my sister passed her BSc degree and the shops closed early because they rather watch the Dutch football team play than sell cake. Luckily, I managed to whip up this cake in just over an hour, with the ingredients I had on hand: a carton of cream, strawberries from the garden, and a handful of hundreds and thousands to give it that authentic 90s children’s party feel. Congrats, sis!
Strawberry & Rhubarb Crumble
One of my favourite go-to desserts is a crumble, healthier than most other puddings and very satisfying. Rhubarb is one of the first vegetables ready to harvest and I love the classic combination with strawberries.
For this crumble I chopped up four stalks of rhubarb and halved as many strawberries as would fit the oven dish. To this, I added a glug of cointreau, a tablespoon of honey (substitute it for any other sweetener) and half a vanilla pod and let it simmer in the oven at 180 degrees. After ten minutes I mixed in two tablespoons of cornmeal. I made a crumble of polenta, butter, oats, unrefined cane sugar, and maple syrup, and sprinkled it over the top. After 20 minutes it was golden brown and I left it to cool inside the oven. Very delicious! Even more spectacular when served with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream to balance out the tanginess of the rhubarb.
Celebration Bread: Duivekater & Sûkerbôle
Today I organized an Easter brunch with lots of home made goods. It was not an easy task to surpass last year's smorgasbord but I definitely succeeded! I served pastel coloured boiled eggs and scattered their miniature chocolate counterparts across the table. There was freshly made orange and mango smoothie. I baked croissants, as you can read here, and these two traditional Dutch loaves.
The Duivekater, a spicy bread with curly legs, is a rarity these days. It is traditionally associated with the Easter holiday as well as Sinterklaas, as can be seen on paintings by the painter Jan Steen. The bread is flavoured with lemon zest, cardamom and nutmeg. It has cake-like crumb because of the eggs in the dough. The high sugar content gives the crust its dark caramelised colour.
Sûkerbôle is Frisian bread that translates as ‘sugar loaf’. It is an enriched dough flavoured with cinnamon and has little lumps of sugar all mixed through. It is eaten all year round but remains a particularly beloved item on the Easter table because of its festive aroma and indulgent stickiness.