Thursday, January 5, 2017

Roscón de Reyes or "The Kings' Cake"

The holidays are over in many parts of the world but luckily here in Spain they linger till the 6th of January. Gift sharing is synonymous with Christmas across most of the world, however, for the Spanish, gifts are exchanged on the morning of the day awaited by children and adults alike: Día de los Reyes! This feast, which occurs on the 6th of January, is known elsewhere as the Epiphany and is celebrated much more modestly. However, in Spain and much of the Hispanic World the feast is celebrated widely.

On this special day, before unwrapping the gifts, the family gathers around a breakfast consisting of hot chocolate and the star of Christmas desserts in Spain and in many Hispanic countries: el Roscón de Reyes. The whole day and feast pays tribute to the Three Wise Men or Magi that foretold the arrival of Jesus Christ. Tradition has it that children receive gifts not from Santa Clause but from the Reyes or Wise Men themselves.

The roscon is a brioche like dough, though less buttery, that is usually decorated with candied fruits and can be filled with whipped cream. Small figurines are hidden in the cake and the one who finds it will be a king for a day and will supposedly have a better year!

I usually miss this celebration as I go home for Christmas and New Year celebration. This year, however, my family came to Madrid to spend the holidays. Even though I could have bought roscon from any pastry shop, supermarket or market fair, I decided that it is time to make it at home! It is always so much nicer when you share homemade desserts with your family. It is even better when you eat this delicious dessert with your favorite hot chocolate recipe.

To make the roscon you have to start with the start dough or poolish. The quantities listed are for 4 to 6 people.

You need:
  • 75 g strong bread flour
  • 75 g milk at 37 degrees C (98/99 F)
  • 3 g fresh yeast
Mix all the ingredients together, cover and let the wet starter proof for 30 minutes. It should double in size and be full of bubbles.

For the final dough:
  • 175 strong bread flour
  • 40 g honey
  • 1 large egg (50 g of it will go into the dough the rest will be used for the egg wash)
  • zest of one medium orange and zest of half a lemon
  • 2 tsp of bourbon
  • 2 tsp of orange blossom water
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 g fresh yeast
  • the poolish made previously
  • 50 g soft butter
In a big bowl combine all the ingredients but the butter, and with the hook  attachment knead the dough for 10 minutes. The dough should become smooth and shiny. Add the butter and knead again for another 10 minutes. After that time you will  have a smooth, elastic and shiny dough. Grease a bowl, put the dough inside of it, cover and let it rise until it doubles in size, which will take between 1 hour 30 min to 2 hours.

When the dough has risen, deflate it a bit by taking the sides of the dough and bringing them to the middle. Cover again and leave it the fridge for the next day.
If you don´t have time or you can´t wait, drop the dough on a lightly floured surface, shape it into a ball , make a hole in the middle and start stretching it carefully until you have a ring shaped roscón. I made a slight mistake while shaping mine as the hole should have been bigger so it won't close almost completely once baked. 
If you decide to leave the dough in the fridge overnight, you just need to make the same step mentioned above, 
Once the ring is formed, cover it and let it proof until it doubles in size, if the dough is cold it will take a bit longer! This step will take around 2 hours.

Preheat your oven at 200 C/392 F. Prepare the egg wash by mixing the rest of the egg with a teaspoon of milk and few drops of vanilla or cointreau.

Brush the dough with the egg wash and decorate it as you wish: candied fruits, pearled sugar, slivered almonds or whatever you like.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Traditionally the cake is served as it is, but in recent years some fillings like whipped cream or chocolate cream were added to spice up the traditional cake. 

Have the cake with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee and enjoy a piece of Spanish tradition!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Chocolate and Chestnut Cake For New Year!

As the year 2016 ends and the year 2017 is about to start, it is only fitting to end the old year and start the new with a sweet note. As chestnuts and glazed chestnuts are popular around this time of the year, I was inspired to incorporate sweetened chestnuts with a rich chocolate cake.

This chocolate and chestnut cake is rich, moist and delivers just the right amount of sweetness for New Year's Eve and the day after!

Although the cake will take some time to make, the steps needed are quite straightforward, and the end result is well worth it.

For the chocolate sponge cake you need (4 layers, 15 cm pan):
  • 3 small eggs
  • 20 g maple syrup
  • 180 g sugar (I used 50 g brown sugar and the rest regular white sugar)
  • 180 g cake flour
  • 10 g cocoa powder
  • 10 g baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 150 g butter
  • 100 g chopped dark chocolate
  • 160 g chestnut butter or spread or cream (whatever you call it) (recipe here)
  • 50 g milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • Pinch of salt
First combine butter and chocolate and melt them on a gentle flame. Set aside.

Mix together all of the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a bowl, start beating the eggs, then gradually start adding the sugar and keep beating until mixture doubles in volume and becomes pale in color. Put your mixer at the lowest speed and add the chocolate and butter, once combined turn off your mixer.

Sift the flour mixture over the batter and gently fold with a rubber spatula. Once combined add the chestnut cream and fold, and finish with the milk.

Divide your batter into four 15cm pans, previously greased and covered with parchment paper (if you don´t have 4 pans just divide the batter in 2, bake the first batch while you keep the rest in the fridge, or use one pan then cut the baked cake in half) and bake for 25 min in a preheated oven (180C).
Once out of the oven, let the cakes cool for 5 min in the pans then remove them and put them on cooling rack to cool completely.

The filling is a made from pastry cream mixed with chestnut cream/spread.
For the pastry cream:
  • 2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup and half milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 30 g sugar
  • 1 tbsp of corn starch
  • 100 g butter
Heat the milk on a gentle flame. Beat the eggs with the sugar and corn starch. Temper the egg mix with some warm milk, then pour the egg mix into the milk. Continue heating and stirring the cream until it thickens enough. Mix in the butter until well incorporated. 

For the chestnut pastry cream:
  • prepared pastry cream
  • 250 g chestnut cream
Just combine the two creams until well mixed!

For the assembly:

Spread the chestnut pastry cream on the first cake layer and stack the second one. Repeat the process. Garnish the cake with chocolate shavings. I stacked the cake in a way as to look like a wood log, complete with rings on top and chocolate curls that look like bark plaques as they detach from the trunk.

At the end, I would like to wish to all of you the best and sweetest year you can possible have! 

Chestnut Spread: a Winter Special!

Late fall/early winter is not the typical season of plenty, but it does have its star ingredients, with chestnuts being one of them. Most people appreciate the rich flavor of chestnuts and their floury texture, once cooked. I like to use chestnuts within desserts or savory dishes whenever I have the chance.

Chestnut spread is such a useful recipe that makes good use of this tasteful ingredient in a simple way. The spread is good consumed on its own over a warm toast drizzled with honey or incorporated in other baked goods like in this chocolate and chestnut cake recipe!

To make about 500 g of this chestnut spread you need:
  • 250 g of roasted and peeled chestnut
  • 350 ml of water
  • 50 g brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract or paste
  • a generous pinch of sea salt
  • hot water

Place the chestnuts in a sauce pan and cover with water. Cook the chestnuts for about 30 to 40 min, or until the chestnuts have absorbed most of the water. While they still hot, place them in a food processor or hand blender, add the sugar and salt and blend until smooth. Add water if you find the paste to be too thick!

Fill the jars with the paste while it´s still hot, cover tightly, let it cool then refrigerate!
The spread has endless uses. You can use it in healthy breakfast spread over a whole grain toasted bread and sweetened with apple and cinnamon, or use it to impart a deep earthly flavor to cakes, pancakes, cupcakes or to cake frostings.

This flavorsome chestnut spread represents the essence of the cold seasons in a jar! Make it and use it in the best way that fits your needs. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Cranberry, White Chocolate and Rosemary Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Bourbon Frosting

When cranberries are in season, I can't help but buy as many as I can. What I don't use (or eat) immediately gets stacked in the freezer. I must confess that I sleep peacefully at night knowing that I have cranberries on standby in my kitchen!

Cranberries are quite popular in this festive season as they feature in many savory dishes and desserts. They definitely add an extra flavor that cannot be replaced by any other ingredient.

With that said, I wanted to try  a recipe that is very easy to make and is packed full of flavor. Now as you can tell from the title of the post, the ingredients used will certainly deliver a complex, fragrant, rich and tangy flavor. The frosting, with its creamy texture and Bourbon flavor adds another layer of complexity making this humble pound cake an absolute winner.

For the cake you need (23 x 10 cm pan)
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 100 g soft butter
  • 50 g creme fraiche 
  • 100 g white sugar plus 50 g brown sugar
  • 150 g flour
  • 5 g baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp mixed spices (cloves, cinnamon, star anise, cardamom)
  • 80 g fresh cranberries (frozen is fine too)
  • 100 g chopped white chocolate
  • 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsp bourbon
For the frosting you need:
  • 100 g cream cheese at room temperature
  • 75 g powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp of bourbon (or 2 if you like a stronger flavor) 
  • 1 tbsp or 2 of milk

To make the cake, start by combining the flour, baking powder, mixed spices and salt.
In a bowl, whisk the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one by one and whisk  to combine.  Add the flour mixture and mix well. 
Lastly combine the cranberries and the white chocolate.

Pour the mixture in a greased and floured pan and bake in a preheated oven for 35 to 40 min or until a skewer placed in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Once done, take out of the oven and let the cake cool down for 5 min in the pan and then remove and continue cooling it on a wire rack.

While the cake is cooling tackle the frosting.

With a whisk, cream the cheese for a minute or two. Add the sugar and whisk again. Mix in the milk then the bourbon. If the mixture is too thick, thin it down with milk, adding one teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Once the cake has cooled completely, pour the frosting over and let it drip on the sides. You can microwave the frosting for just a few seconds in order to become just a tiny bit runnier.

Decorate to your liking. I added a few sprigs of rosemary and sugared cranberries!
If you want to make sugared cranberries,  all you need to do is to whisk an egg white until frothy. Drop in the cranberries and coat them with the egg white. Remove them from the egg white and roll them into sugar. Leave them to dry for a couple of hours! The sugared cranberries look like frozen ones, a tribute to the winter season and the holiday spirit.

Make this cake during the holidays. It is the perfect accompaniment  with your afternoon tea or coffee or as part of your breakfast. Eaten alone or with family and friends, the cake is delicious, but as always sharing food with beloved ones just reinforces our ties with them. And what better time to do so then during the holidays?

Happy Holidays!

For other cranberry recipes click herehere and here

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Melamakarona, a Special Greek Christmas Cookie

On my trips back home from Spain, I used to travel via Athens. During December, the meal served on Greek airlines would include a typical Christmas Greek dessert. I was never sure what the Greeks called this special cookie but I was always sure of its taste! After some fiddling around, I managed to know what this sweet cookie was: melamakarona, the Greek honey cookie.

These yummy cookies feature the best of warm and Christmas flavors: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, oranges and honey.

The name of the dessert reminded me of a famous Levantine dessert: maakaroun. However, maakarouns are made on the feast of the Epiphany. Moreover, alhough they are shaped similarly, maakarouns are fried while melomakaronas are baked.

If you enjoy trying recipes from all over the world, then you should add this recipe to your book of baking. During December, I get a bit more active in trying out various recipes from all over the world and I will leave the links at the end of the post of some of what I tried.

Now let´s make some melomakaronas. For 25 to 28 pieces you need:
  • 250 g flour
  • 50 g fine semolina
  • 50 g brown sugar
  • 1/2 or 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp of baking soda and 1/8 tsp of baking powder
  • dash of salt
  • zest of half an orange
  • 100 g mild olive oil
  • 100 g orange juice
  • 5 to 10 g brandy
For the syrup:
  • 150 g water
  • 200 g sugar
  • 100 g honey
  • 2 to 3 cloves
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • one thick slice of orange
First, start by making the syrup. In a sauce pan, combine all the ingredients but the honey . Put on a gentle flame and simmer for about 5 minutes. When the sugar dissolves completely, add the honey and simmer again for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

To make the cookies, combine the wet ingredients: olive oil, orange juice and brandy and stir.In another bowl mix all the dry ingredients and mix well. Now add the wet ingredients, and stir with a wooden spoon until you have a soft and manageable dough.

Leave it to rest for 20 minutes.

Now take about 20 g of the dough, shape into a ball or sausage shape and gently pass it over a grater to create the shape of the melomakarona. Place the shaped cookies over a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Bake in a preheated oven (180C) for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven dip them in the cool syrup. Remove from the syrup and place them on a rack to let them drain. Once they cool sprinkle some chopped walnuts and  you are done!

The cookies can be served alone or with a warm cup of tea or dark coffee. They are deeply scented by all those wonderful spices, honey and oranges and go so well these hot comforting beverages.

With every bite I took into the melamakarona, I was transported to a different spot in Greece, a country that I love dearly and visited many times. Now it's up you to travel the world through sweets, and if you're short on ideas, why not travel to Greece like I did? I promise, you will enjoy every moment of it! 
To check other christmas recipes click on the following links: herehereherehere and here

Friday, November 25, 2016

Spicy Apple Bundt Cake

On the 15th of November, the  world of sweets celebrates bundt cake day. In this post you can read more about this special day and the bundt pans.
This year, I  wanted to celebrate that day by baking an autumnal cake in a beautiful chiffon bundt pan. What's better is that this cake goes perfectly with the apple cider caramel that I told you about in my previous post

The choice of the ingredients was pretty easy: apples, spices and mulled cider, yet again!  It's true that sometimes I get obsessed with certain combinations, but once you try this cake you will understand why, especially if you like apple cakes!

And now let´s bundt!

The mold (Nordic ware chiffon pan) I used has a 10 cups capacity, and for it you need:
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 150 g soft butter
  • 220 g brown sugar
  • 200 g cooked apple (I chopped the apples into small dices, added the spices, a tablespoon of maple syrup and cooked the apple pieces until slightly tender and not falling apart)
  • 220 g cake flour
  • 10 g baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50 ml of mulled cider, see note below (you can substitute the mulled cider with cream, but the taste will be slightly different)
  • 100 ml cream
  • 2 tsp of mixed spices (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, star anise)
  • 1 tsp brandy (optional)
First sift together the flour, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside.

In your mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter until creamy and well combined.

Add the eggs one at a time, making sure they combine well before adding the next egg. Add the cooked apples, the brandy and mix for just few seconds.
Turn off your mixer and with a spatula, fold  the flour mixture in 3 batches. Start with the first third then add the mulled cider, another third followed by the cream and finish with the last third.

Pour the mixture in your greased pan and bake  between 45 to 50 min in a preheated oven (175 C) or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave the cake it in the pan for 10 min then unmold and  let it cool completely on a cooling rack.

Once the cake has cooled completely, transfer it to a serving plate.

This cake is delicious as it is. It captures the essence of autumn in every bite-size piece!  You will love how comforting and scrumptious it is.

To please your palate even further, why not pair the cake with a decadent drizzle of apple cider caramel. The combination is heavenly, I kid you not!

Though it looks quite sophisticated, this recipe is actually easy to make and would be the ideal sweet finish to a hearty Thanksgiving, Christmas, or a special family gathering meal. Try it, it will not fail you.

Note: For the mulled cider all you need to do is add whatever spices you like (cinnamon, star anise, cloves, Jamaican pepper, juniper pepper, nutmeg and a strip of orange peel) to a litre of apple cider, and let it simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Spicy Apple Cider Caramel!

The changing colors, the cooler temperatures, the cloudy skies, and the many characteristic products are all the things I love about autumn. As the nights get chilly, it is so comforting to sip on a warm drink while tucked in bed and watching nice show on TV.

The other day I made a mulled apple cider to enjoy on my Friday night, and so I did! Inspired by the drink, I decided to try out a recipe for an apple cider caramel I saw a while back on Pinterest. This seemed all too fitting as I am a big fan of caramel. I have shared many caramel recipes before (links at the end) so it was time to add a new recipe to the bunch!

To make this caramel, you need few ingredients and a bit of patience!
First you need to make a kind of mulled apple cider that needs to be reduced and then you can proceed with the standard caramel making process.

For reduced spicy cider you need:
  • 250 ml apple cider
  • one stick of cinnamon, 
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 4-6 allspice corns
  • 4-6 juniper berries
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Make sure to use a good quality cider. In Spain, the northern region of Asturias produces some of the country's finest ciders, and I always use a cider from that region for my recipes.

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan, and let them simmer on a gentle heat for about 30 minutes. The liquid has to reduce and become darker in color. Needless to say that at this point your house will smell amazing!

For the caramel, you need:
  • 60 ml of the reduced apple cider
  • 150 g sugar
  • 60 g cold butter cut into cubes
  • pinch of salt
  • 250 ml cream (35%)
Put the sugar in a saucepan and melt over a gentle heat. Once the sugar is golden brown add the mulled apple cider and let it simmer for few seconds. Always be careful when adding liquid to a hot caramel as it will splatter. Add the cold butter and let it melt. Add the salt and finally the cream.
Let the sauce cook for a few minutes until it thickens.

Lift the saucepan off the stove and allow the caramel sauce to cool down.

Pour the sauce in a clean jar and refrigerate if you will not use it within the day of its making.

This caramel sauce can be used in so many ways. It will go well with pancakes, crepes, sponge cakes, cheesecakes, as a sweet dipping sauce, and so much more.

This caramel sauce is just divine: sweet, spicy and with just the right amount of acidity from the cider. Do give it a try, you won´t be sorry!

For other caramel recipes click hereherehereherehere and here

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Halloween Special: Bloody Cake!

When the fall season setts in, I try to make good use of its wonderful products. Pumpkins and squashes become a staple of mine during this time of the year. I also like to share a recipe or two that feature pumpkins purée as main ingredient. This healthy fruit never ceases to amaze me with its complex flavor that goes so well in both sweet and savory dishes. 

In recent years, the use of pumpkins was popularized with the spread of Halloween celebrations to almost all parts of the world. Now, as a foodie, pumpkins are definitely not mere decoration for me, but they are the front and center of my Halloween  gory cake. Now I call it "gory" as I drew inspiration for the cake's decoration from the traditional "goriness" that surrounds Halloween celebrations and to satisfy "The Walking Dead" fan in me. If you are a fan of the series too and you have seen the season's premiere, you would understand my choice better. Irrespective of how you will decorate the cake, if you follow my recipe you will really love the cake's flavor and texture. 

Besides pumpkin, the other main ingredient of the cake was cranberries. I was not sure of how well these two flavors will combine, but they did and they did so beautifully. The cake was moist, largely due to the use of pumpkin purée, with spicy notes and bound together by the touch of tartness cranberries add. Of course, cranberries put the "bloody" in this special Halloween cake!

Now, it's time to do some baking.

For the cake (6 to 8 persons) you need :
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 100 g brown sugar
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 150 melted butter 
  • 8 g baking powder
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 210 g cake flour
  • 220 pumpkin purée (bought or homemade)
  • 100 g frozen or fresh cranberries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp mixed spices (cloves, star anise, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg)
  • dash of salt
  • zest of half an orange
  • 1/2 tsp of cointreau (optional)
Start by combining the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and spices and set aside.

In your mixing bowl, beat the eggs on a high speed and add the sugar gradually. When the mixture triples in volume, becomes pale and thicker, add the butter at low speed and mix until combined.

With a spatula add the pumpkin purée, mix again, add the orange zest and cointreau and mix. Lastly, fold in the flour mixture and the cranberries.

Pour the batter in three 15 cm pre-prepared pans (or in two 23 cm) and bake in a preheated oven (180 C) for 25 minutes. Remember that the baking time might vary so check on the cake after 20 minutes.

For the frosting you need:
  • 250 g soft butter
  • 250 g cream cheese at room temperature
  • 220 g powdered sugar
  • Flavoring: 1/4 tsp mixed spices and few drops of vanilla extract.
Combine all ingredients and beat for about 5 min until creamy and fluffy.

For the cranberry sauce:
  • 100 g cranberries, fresh or frozen 
  • 75 g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 strip of orange zest
Combine all ingredients and cook over  a gentle heat for few minutes. Pass the mixture through a sieve to get rid of the pits and skin. Let it cool down.

Smear some frosting on your cake tray or stand. Put the first cake layer and pipe a generous amount of frosting, and splatter a teaspoon or two of the cranberry sauce. Add the second layer and repeat. 

Cover the last layer with the frosting. Now all you need is to splatter the rest of the cranberry sauce over the cake and to add some pine nuts that will mimic the appearance of maggots for that extra touch of goriness!

Happy Halloween!

(For extra recipes featuring pumpkins, click here and here.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Coconut and Lemon Madeleines!

I, like so many people out there, thrive on daily cocktails of little rituals. They form part of my life and I wouldn't give up on them for anything. Morning starts with a cup of cup sipped while watching the news and the afternoon is coffee time again but with a sweet nibble like a cake or a cookie!

When I have the time, I like to indulge and treat myself with layered cakes, stuffed with creams with countless flavor combinations. However, time is precious and not always available. Short on time, I look for simple yet delicious cakes that need no extra cream or filling to sing!

Madeleines de Commercy are one of those recipes that I think everyone should have in their repertoire. While they have a reputation of being hard to master, they are in fact easy. Of course, like all French desserts, you need to respect a certain protocol, but once you do that, the result will always be in your favor. Madeleines are also a good dessert to prepare ahead of time as you can prepare the batter up to one day in advance.

These little buttery cakes were first made in 1755 by a young girl named Madeleine.
King Stanilas of Lorraine was holding a lunch with guests when he knew that his pastry chef left after an argument. As a royal lunch would not be complete without a dessert, something was needed to be done.  The King's butler went on to it and found the right dessert. Cakes of a new and unusual shape, nice golden color, and a rich and deep flavor. The cakes were an instant hit and the king asked to know who was the genius behind the cake. The king was presented with a shy young girl. He then asked her about the name of the dessert. The girl said they didn't have a name and that this is what we usually bake at la "Commercy". The king asked the girl about her name and she replied" Madeline". The king then said "well then, we will call them after you" Madeline.

And after a bit of history let´s make these wonders with a little twist!

For 12 Madeleines you need:
  • 1 egg at room temperature
  • 50 g sugar
  • 50 g pastry flour
  • 25 g shredded coconut
  • zest of half lemon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • dash of salt
  • 4 g baking powder
  • 70 g butter
First, put the butter in a saucepan and let it melt on a gentle flame, leave until it browns a bit and a wonderful nutty flavor fills your kitchen. Add the lemon zest and set aside.

In a bowl, mix the egg, vanilla and the sugar until it dissolves. Add the flour, salt, coconut, and baking powder. Mix until well combined and add the butter and the lemon.

Cover the batter and place it in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight for better combination of flavors!

When ready to bake, grease the Madeleine mold, cover with flour and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes. You can also do that step the night before!

Preheat the oven to 210 C, fill 2/3 of the mold to leave space for the cake to rise, place in the oven, and reduce the temperature to 170 C. The Madeleines should be done in 10 minutes.  The typical Madeleine bump will form and the edges will turn golden. Your cakes are done!

These cakes are better consumed the same day and they are so good dipped in a cup of coffee or to be enjoyed with tea or hot chocolate.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Apple Pie Funnel Cake!

Autumn is officially here but Madrid is still enjoying a summer like weather. Many people are enjoying the warmer temperatures but I can't wait for the seasons to really change.

And while I wait, I could not resist to bake with the fruits of autumn with apples being one of my obvious and favorite choices. Apples go so well with several spices, which makes them such a useful ingredient in many baked goodies. I certainly love how my house smells whenever I am baking something with apples!

I have made many recipes with this fruit before and shared quite a few like this apple butter that you can use in many recipes like this cake, and how about this simple tart?

The recipe of today is from Austria and called Strauben, but widely known in the USA as funnel cakes. It is quite a popular dessert in carnivals.

The funnel cake might remind you of other cakes made in similar fashion around the world. In the Middle East, a very popular dessert, called Mouchabak, is made from a fermented dough that is fried in deep oil and then dipped in sugar syrup,. In India they have a similar cake too.  And while the funnel cake is made with baking powder, strauben uses whipped egg whites!

My version of strauben or funnel cakes incorporated the traditional apple pie spices and served with spicy caramelized apples instead of jam. The result was just perfect!

With the amount of ingredients I used you will get around 15 small cakes (about 10 cm), so if you are not too greedy, make sure to invite some friends over for a brunch or an afternoon coffee!

What you need:
  • 1 egg at room temperature, separated
  • 70 g flour
  • 85ml  milk 
  • 5 g sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of each of the following spices: cardamom, dried ginger, cloves, and nutmeg
  • one tsp of brandy or gin, I used juniper brandy (optional)
  • 7 g melted butter
  • oil for frying
In a bowl combine the egg yolk and the milk, whisk well, once combined add sugar, alcohol, flour and spices and mix. In a separate bowl add the salt to the egg white and beat till soft peaks. Fold in the egg white to the mixture. Once well combined fill the batter in a piping bag or a squeeze bottle.

In a pan, heat the oil until it reaches about 170C, slowly squeeze the batter in the hot oil and swirl to make a lace pattern. The batter will expand, so controlling the shape of the cakes will be a bit tricky but that's perfectly fine as the cakes are supposed to look rustic.  Once golden brown fish them out of the oil and place them over a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. 

Serve these crunchy and delicious treats with some powdered sugar or with spicy apples that I made using this recipe!