HAPPY BIRTDHAY to a very special man in my life, who has supported me since day 1, no matter how difficult I’ve been in the past 25 years (yes, these type of men do exist). Thank you!
I don’t know if you recall the birthday craze two years ago where I baked 5 cakes for one celebration. And there weren’t even many leftovers! Lucky for me, after a certain age, big birthdays only come once every 5 or 10 years (depending how excited the birthday child gets). This year, having reduced the guestlist from roughly 50 to an intimate family affair, one cake fed all. Not just any cake, but my grandma’s famous chocolatey, flourless, moist, gluten free, almondy heaven. It was praised by all tasters. One even demanded I post the recipe online. So here you go, try and recreate, let me know how it goes, invite me to taste and judge, but most importantly – enjoy.
Grandma’s Chocolate Cake
This post is dedicated to all recent Cupcake & Prosecco indulgers (because birthday cupcakes win over birthday cakes). Thank you again for making the event what it was and for eating so many cupcakes! You know who you are ;-). And I think you enjoyed it, as did your taste buds. Especially The British, they seemed to go down very well. So did The Classic, but that recipe is already published.
For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about: The British = Apple Crumble Cupcakes (obviously…… the most British dessert ever), adapted from an Apple Crumble/Streusel Cake recipe. As almost always, the secret ingredient is cinnamon, lots of it. But you need to make sure it is good quality. For example, if you happen to live in London ❤ and surroundings, Whole Foods stocks the best! Now, once you have succeeded in finding such cinnamon, everything you bake will be heavenly, including this cake/these cupcakes. Enough blabbing, below you’ll find the cake recipe which can be easily changed into cupcakes. One quantity of the ingredients makes 20-24 cupcakes. Good luck and dig in!
Apple Streusel Cake (or Cupcakes)
adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days
One thing I missed extremely during my time in London was the winterly weekend getaways to the snowy Swiss alps I am used to from my childhood. Finally I have them back!! Since the season started I have spent every free day in the snow. The fresh mountain air and the relaxed ambiance are irreplaceable. There is no better way to finish off a long day on the slopes than with a piece of fresh cake and a cup of hot chocolate (with the obligatory generous splash of some sort of Alcohol, Amaretto in my case) – pure bliss. Here is a lemony classic I personally love – even if you think you are drowning the cake in lemon, use all of the lemon sirup to drizzle!
Lemon Drizzle Cake
The last time I had a few days off after nights I decided to visit Stockholm with a friend, who also randomly had some days of compensation (the one plus about working as a doctor – you get random days off to compensate for your ridiculous hours = free holidays!). One thing the Swedish know how to do well is the so called “Fika“, or coffee break with lots and lots of pastry. It belongs to the daily routine apparently, like breakfast, lunch and dinner. Genius. The pastries the Swedish are most famous for are, correct me if I’m wrong, cinnamon bullar (buns), cardamom bullar, cardamom cake and also saffron bullar. When I read cardamom bullar for the first time, I must admit, I was a tad sceptical as I immediately associated it with curry (ew…. curry pastry… not what I had in mind for my tea break). Retrospectively, I can proudly call myself an Idiot. Ground cardamom is the new cinnamon! Every pastry with cardamom was amazing – indescribable! I have even started adding it to my morning muesli instead of the good old cinnamon…. it seems to go with everything.
Anyways, with this newly revealed secret ingredient, being responsible for the sweet side of a Christmas family gathering, I decided to attempt to recreate something from my trip – a Swedish cardamom cake. It went down extremely well. You should try it!
Swedish Cardamom Cake
adapted from a random cookbook, unknown name and author, read in Stockholm airport.
WE DID IT!!! My friend and I successfully ran the Race for Life yesterday evening in Battersea Park. It was such a great event with an amazing atmosphere – over 3000 people had signed up to run, jog or walk the distance :-).
I managed the 5k in just over 25 minutes… not too bad for an awful long distance runner. Thank you to everyone for your generous donations, together you helped me raise a grand total of £1’711.00 in aid of Cancer Research UK!!!! If you have not yet donated but still wish to do so, the link below is active until early September:
Moving on to today’s recipe – recently I have started taking one ingredient and basing an entire menu around it. Today’s choice: Polenta. Polenta is great in cakes and breads (nothing beats chilli with cornbread) but also makes a great side to mushroomy dishes. It reminds me of my childhood holidays in the warm italian part of southern Switzerland. The reason behind my choice of polenta is a recent dinner invitation. They served a delicious polenta/lemon/almond cake for dessert. I had two helpings (despite a starter, a main and an exploding food belly). The minute I got home I tried to find a similar recipe, determined to re-create this heavenly lemony dessert. I don’t know if it’s exactly the same recipe, but it sure tasted just as good :-). The strawberry coulis is an addition of mine, I felt the dish needed some fresh fruity sauce to round it off.
Beef Fillet, Mushrooms, Sherry Sauce, Creamy Polenta
adapted from Fast Food by Laurel Glen and Wildeisen
Today’s post is a tad more medical; I could not let this recent news simply slip away without informing you. Rumour has it that polio (poliomyelitis – a highly contagious potentially permanently paralysing virus transmitted through contaminated food/water) is making a comeback after having been almost eradicated for the past 25 years (with a 99% decrease in case numbers since 1988). Prevention through surveillance and multiple vaccinations (live oral polio vaccine or inactivated poliovirus vaccine) are the only way to fight this virus, as no cure is available, and has proven to be successful in eradicating the disease until recently. With newly reported infections in 10 countries (previously only Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan were classified as endemic), the WHO declared it a public health emergency earlier this week. So, I urge you to check your vaccinations and those of your children (or children in your surroundings)!!!, especially if you are travelling to a known polio-infected country – inform yourself and update your vaccinations as soon as possible, not only for your own protection but also in aid of the global eradication efforts!
Anyways… moving from the serious medical world to the world of baking: I present you with yet another cake baked for the March birthday celebrations. This is also an old family recipe created by none other than Martha, my previously mentioned grandmothers former housekeeper. It is a traditional yeast Gugelhupf with raisins. As a child I used to always pick the raisins out before indulging in this cake…. I could hit myself for that, a Gugelhupf without raisins is only half as good. So if you don’t like raisins in cake, don’t even try baking this one. And the rumour of these yeast cakes being dry is a lie, if you have only had dry Gugelhupf so far, your choice of bakery must be revised ;-).
Following the previous post, I present you with cake number 2 of 5 baked for the birthday festivities. A true must for both chocolate and amaretti lovers. Amaretti are possibly my favourite biscuits, they should be yours too. And don’t get me started on Amaretto, the tastiest liquor ever created. Those sours are dangerous. Remind me again why I decided to give up alcohol for Lent? At least there are only 22 days left and Fortnum’s Easter sponge pudding (honey, amaretto & almond sponge pudding with a soft chocolate centre….nom) waiting at the end of it. Not to forget the amaretto butter topping, Easter dessert wouldn’t be half as good without it.
Enough about Amaretto. This cake, like the Linzer, is best after having rested in a cool place (e.g. cellar) for a day or two. Perfect if you have a lot of baking or cooking planned!
Chocolate Amaretti Loaf Cake
adapted from Wildeisen