Tag: cinnamon

Loukoumades – Greek Doughnuts with Honey, Cinnamon and Pistachios

Loukoumades

Every year at carnival, my family meets at my mother’s house to make Berliner, a jam filled doughnut dusted with cinnamon sugar. It’s a heavenly ball of sweet sponginess so tempting that all of us end up eating far more than we should. We all have our favourite filling, so we use a selection of blueberry, raspberry, blackberry and red currant jam. The only problem is, once they are cooked, you can’t really see the difference anymore. So we guess blindly and exchange Berliner across the table when we pick the wrong one. It’s quite a funny scene! You could also use chocolate, gianduja or eggnog to customize them to your personal taste and come up with your own perfect creation. Unfortunately, after this culinary experience, you might never be satisfied with store-bought doughnuts ever again! It’s already been a year since I shared our traditional Berliner recipe, and next week, it will be that time of year again, we’ll all meet in my mother’s kitchen in the countryside to celebrate our silly little family feast!

Although I’m not the biggest fan of deep-fried sweets, at carnival I love them. They belong to this season like spooky costumes and exuberant music. In Cologne, where I went to university, I used to buy Muzen from a little bakery. They look like tiny diamond shaped doughnuts, crisp on the outside with a spongy centre. It’s a local speciality only made at this time of the year. They are so good, I could eat them by the dozen! In Berlin, Berliner are called Pfannkuchen (meaning pancakes in German) and they are often filled with plum jam. There are many other names all over the world, Krapfen, Fastnachtküchle, Krof in Slovenia or Pączki in Poland, all customized after the regional preferences.

After some research, I discovered something new, Greek doughnuts called Loukoumades! I called my sister as her husband is half Greek and they often spend their summers in Greece. Nina got very excited about this sweet and told me that they savoured it all the time during their last holiday on the island of Thassos. Her husband would play Bouzouki in a mountain village in the evenings with his friends while my sister enjoyed plates of Loukoumades, with lots of honey and cinnamon. After her colourful description, my decision was made, I had to try them! The next morning I made an orange flavoured yeast dough, a bit softer and with more yeast than my usual recipe. You have to scoop out the little Loukoumades with a spoon and cook them in hot fat. It only took a few minutes and I had a plate full of golden doughnuts in front of me, coated voluptuously with orange-honey syrup and sprinkled with chopped pistachios and a bit of cinnamon. It was amazing, I know I can trust my sister when it comes to sweet treats!

Loukoumades

 

Loukoumades

Loukoumades with Honey, Cinnamon and Pistachios

For 24 small Loukoumades you need

plain flour 400g / 14 ounces
dry yeast 2 sachets (each 7g / 1/4 ounce)
sugar 1 tablespoon
salt 1 teaspoon
milk, lukewarm, 150ml / 5 ounces
water, lukewarm, 125ml / 4.5 ounces
orange zest 1 heaped teaspoon
honey 1 tablespoon
pistachios, unsalted, chopped, 60g / 2 ounces
cinnamon, for serving
vegetable shortening for deep-frying 1kg / 2 1/4 pounds

For the syrup
good quality honey (liquid) 150g / 5.5 ounces
freshly squeezed orange juice 50ml / 1 3/4 ounces
sugar 1 tablespoon
orange zest 1 teaspoon

In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Add the milk, water, honey and zest to the mixture and mix with the dough hooks of your mixer for about 5 minutes. The dough should be elastic and come off the sides of the bowl, it will be a little sticky so don’t mix with your hands. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it rise in the warm oven (35°C / 95°F) for 45 minutes (top/ bottom heat and not fan-assisted!).

For the syrup, bring the honey, orange juice and sugar to the boil and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until it’s a thick syrup. Stir in the zest and keep warm.

In a large pot, heat the vegetable shortening. Check the temperature with a wooden spoon, it’s hot enough when little bubbles form around it. Scoop out a small walnut sized ball off the dough (this works best with 2 tablespoons) and carefully drop it into the hot fat. Start off with one ball, the Loukoumades should cook for 3-4 minutes to turn into golden balls. If they become too dark after a shorter cooking time, turn down the temperature (which is what I had to do after the first batch), they will need at least 3 minutes for the centre to cook through. They should be golden and not dark brown. Take them out with a slotted ladle and put them on a kitchen paper to remove excess fat. Serve with the warm syrup, chopped pistachios and a little cinnamon.

Loukoumades

 

Loukoumades

 

Loukoumades

 

Loukoumades

 

Loukoumades

 

Loukoumades10

 

Loukoumades12

Plum Dumplings with Cinnamon Breadcrumb Butter – Swabian Zwetschgenknödel

Plum Dumplings

Plums, potato dough, browned breadcrumb butter, sugar and cinnamon – this southern German sweet doesn’t call for many ingredients but it puts them together in just the right way. The result is heavenly: sweet plum dumplings with browned breadcrumb butter and cinnamon sugar – or in German – Zwetschgenknödel!

My versatile Gnocchi dough makes another appearance for this recipe. For Friday’s Bavarian beer roasted pork, I recommended savory potato dumplings with the same dough. For this traditional Swabian dish, I use it to wrap sweet and sour plums with a thin layer of the potato mixture to turn the blue fruits into sweet, fruity dumplings.

Whenever I make this recipe, I consider reducing the amount of butter and sugar for just a split second, but luckily I never do. This dish really needs all the lusciousness of its decadent topping. I learnt about these dumplings from my Swabian step father Uli and he taught me that a dessert is there to enjoy and not about counting calories. Every time we make the Knödel together in my mother’s kitchen, he reminds us to keep the potato dough layer very thin, that’s how he learnt to do it from his mother and grandmother. It’s our job to form the dumplings but it’s his to take care of  the quality control, and he is a very picky instructor!

It can be a bit fiddly getting the little balls in shape, to make it a little bit easier you should use small plums like Damsons and keep your fingers moist while  you’re working with the dough.

Plum Dumplings

 

Plum Dumplings

Plum Dumplings with cinnamony Breadcrumb Butter – the Swabian Zwetschgenknoedel

For about 30 plum dumplings you need

small plums (like Damsons) 30 (about 800g / 2 pounds)
sugar cubes 30

Cut the plums open on one side, take out the seed and fill each fruit with a sugar cube, close the fruit as well as possible.

 

For the topping

butter 100g / 3.5 ounces
breadcrumbs 50g / 2 ounces
sugar 50g / 2 ounces
cinnamon 1 teaspoon

Combine the sugar and cinnamon.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter with the breadcrumbs. Cook the mixture for a few minutes on medium-high temperature until golden brown. Don’t let it burn or it will taste bitter.

 

For the potato dough

potatoes, cut into cubes, 450g / 16 ounces
butter 30g / 1 ounce
organic egg yolks 2
plain flour 120g / 4.5 ounces
salt 1/2 teaspoons

Cook the the potatoes in salted water until soft (around 15 minutes), drain them when they are done. Press the drained, warm potatoes through a potato ricer and mix immediately with the butter and egg yolks. Let the mixture cool completely before you continue with the next step!

With a spoon (or your hands), mix the cold potato mixture with the flour and salt until combined.

 

The plum dumplings

Your fingers should be wet while you’re forming the dumplings, so keep a little bowl of water right next to you.

In a large pot, bring lots of water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the boil.

With a tablespoon, take a walnut sized ball of the potato dough. Shape a flat ball and lay it flat in the palm of your moistened hand, pushing down the middle with the thumb of your other hand. Lay the plum (cut side down) into the center of the dough and gently start pushing and rolling up the dough until the whole fruit is covered with a thin layer (the blue of the plums will be just visible in some places, see my second to last picture). If the dough starts tearing, take a little bit more to cover the fruits. Place the dumplings on a grid until you’re done with all of them (when you take the dumplings off the grid you might have to even out the grid’s mark with your fingers).

Cook the dumplings in batches in the hot but not boiling water (simmering) for about 8-10 minutes or until they start to float on the surface. Take the dumplings out with a slotted ladle and let them drain on a grid for a few seconds.

Put the cooked dumplings into a large bowl or onto a plate, pour over the warm browned breadcrumb butter and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top.

Plum Dumplings

 

Plum Dumplings

 

Plum Dumplings

 

Plum Dumplings

Hazelnut and Buckwheat Cake with Cinnamon Icing Sugar

Hazelnut and Buckwheat Cake

Family guests from LA! Our American grandfather Jim and his wife Gina came to visit us and – as always when guests stay with us – we let the feast begin from day one! When they arrived at noon, we sat down at our long wooden table and we only got up in the early evening, after hours of savoring. I carried one dish after the other to the table, so much so, that at one point my boyfriend stated I must have mistaken his grandparents for goats! There was so much to talk about, so many memories and stories to share, so much to show after years of not seeing each other, that a good amount of nice food seemed like the perfect company for a day like that. Also, it was a very successful way to fight their jet lag. 9 hours of time difference and my food kept them awake till 9!

One of my personal table highlights of that first day was my hazelnut and buckwheat cake. I love to welcome friends and family with a cake on the table. The sweet smell of freshly baked food in the house wakes you up even after the longest flight and makes you feel home right away! I had been in the mood for a cake like that for days, simple and spongy with the deep flavour of hazelnuts and I got what I asked for. I made the dough with ground nuts and buckwheat which adds a nuttiness to it that I wouldn’t have achieved with wheat or spelt flour. It’s a very popular combination in the Tyrolean mountains which always start to have a growing influence on my cooking and baking as soon as the temperatures drop. So it’s a mountain cake, honest and rich in taste, refined with lots of cinnamon mixed in and sprinkled on top with some icing sugar.

I wanted to put even more food on the table, but at one point, they all stopped me. My plan was to finish the day off with my famous Swabian Cheese Spaetzle, hearty cheese and onions with homemade southern noodles, but they didn’t let me go back to my kitchen! I saved it for another night and dinner and they loved it, like the Blue Cheese Crackers, Beluga Lentils with Pear, Tyrolean Plum Dumplings, Sicilian Chard, Radicchio Crespelle and all the other goodies I will write about in the coming days!

Hazelnut and Buckwheat Cake

 

Hazelnut and Buckwheat Cake

 Hazelnut and Buckwheat Cake

For one 26cm / 10″ springform pan 0r two 18cm / 7″ pans you need

ground hazelnuts 225g / 8 ounces
buckwheat flour 225g / 8 ounces
sugar 200g / 7 ounces
cinnamon 1 teaspoon plus more for the dusting
baking powder 4 1/2 teaspoons
a pinch of salt
butter, at room temperature, 250g / 9 ounces
organic eggs 6
icing sugar for the dusting

Set the oven to 180°C / 350°F (fan assisted oven).

Combine the dry ingredients.

Beat the egg whites and salt until stiff.

Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and continue mixing for a few minutes until the mixture is thick and creamy. 

Gently fold the dry mixture and the egg whites with a wooden spoon into the butter and sugar mixture, alternating, 1/3 at a time, combining well in between.

Bake for 35 minutes (or a bit shorter if you use smaller pans) or until golden brown on top. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean. Let it cool for a few minutes.

Combine 2-3 tablespoons of icing sugar with 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle over the cake.

Hazelnut and Buckwheat Cake

 

hazelnutcake8

 

hazelnutcake8.2

 

hazelnutcake6

 

Hazelnut and Buckwheat Cake

 

hazelnutcake7

Cumin Cinnamon Aubergine with Capers and Orange Polenta

Cumin Orange Aubergine with Polenta

Today, all the warm colours of autumn are combined on my plate, brown cumin, golden cinnamon, green capers, purple aubergine and bright oranges! The transition from summer to the next season brings the spices back into my cooking, my big spice box is out almost every day! In June, July and August, I follow my love for fresh, woody herbs, rosemary, thyme, oregano or fleshy sage, mint or basil leaves, but now it’s time for some exotic mixtures again. Salty and citrus flavours mixed with earthy cumin and sweet cinnamon. It works great, and the juicy aubergine, with its unobtrusive taste stands up surprisingly well and holds it all together.

I got all excited surrounded by these deep aromas in my kitchen, so I decided to try out something new when I mixed the cornmeal into the milk for my polenta. I cooked it with a few strips of orange zest, I didn’t want it to be pure and naked next to the rich composition I prepared for the aubergines. It was a wonderfully warming dish, in colour and taste, a little bit surprising in flavours, but really, really good! So good, that I already bought a couple more aubergines for the next batch!

Cumin Orange Aubergine with Polenta

 Cumin Cinnamon Aubergine with Capers and Orange Polenta

For the aubergine

aubergine, cut into small cubes (1/2cm / 1/4″), about 200g / 7 ounces
garlic, crushed, 2 cloves
cumin 1/4 teaspoon
cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon
capers, rinsed and drained, 1 tablespoon
freshly squeezed orange juice 50ml / 2 ounces
orange zest 1/2 – 1 teaspoon
Balsamico vinegar 1 teaspoon
olive oil
salt

In a large pan, heat a splash of olive oil, the garlic, cumin, cinnamon and capers for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add a little more oil and the aubergine and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat or until the aubergine is golden and soft. Deglaze with the juice and season with vinegar and salt to taste. Sprinkle with orange zest and serve with the warm polenta.

 

For the polenta

polenta 120g / 4 ounces
water 250ml / 8.5 ounces plus around 100ml / 3.5 ounces for cooking
milk 250ml / 8.5 ounces
salt 1 teaspoon
olive oil 2 tablespoons
orange peel 3 long strips

In a sauce pan, heat the water and milk, add the salt and bring to the boil. Take the pan off the heat, add the olive oil and polenta and whisk. Add the orange peel, turn down the heat to the lowest temperature and put the pan back on. Cook the polenta for 10 minutes mixing and adding more water once in a while.

Cumin Orange Aubergine with Polenta

 

Cumin Orange Aubergine with Polenta

 

Cumin Orange Aubergine with Polenta

Tyrolean Plum Jam with Cinnamon and Star Anise

Tyrolean Plum Jam with Cinnamon and Star Anise

This is the kind of jam I would eat for breakfast in the mountains, in an old wooden hut, the morning table strewn with rustic delicacies, thick slices of a hearty loaf of bread, Tyrolean prosciutto, strong cheese, rich butter and this dark jam. It’s very fruity and concentrated. The purple fruits cook for around 20 minutes with cinnamon and star anise which gives this thick spread a warm autumn touch (I don’t really like to call it wintery yet, it’s still too early in the year). The little pieces of the fruits’ skin curl up and turn into caramelised fruit bites, delicious!

For my jams, spreads and chutneys, I always try to find the ripest fruits possible, it makes such a difference in taste! Especially when it comes to plums which develop the best side of their strong aromas when they start to soften. Natural sweetness, that’s all you need! A hard and sour fruit won’t develop its whole range of flavours in a jam.

I call this spread my Tyrolean Plum Jam as my mountain memories lie in Corvara in the Alta Badia region in South Tyrol. We used to spend many winter holidays in the Italian Dolomite Alps when I was a child, a time of hearty mountain food, aromatic cakes and strudels and some of the best breakfast tables I’ve ever had!

Tyrolean Plum Jam with Cinnamon and Star Anise

Tyrolean Plum Jam with Cinnamon and Star Anise

When you cook jam you should always use a tall pot to prevent the jam from boiling over. The fruits will be two to three times as high when they’ve reached boiling point! My pot is 24cm / 9.5″ high and 20cm / 8″ wide.

For 3-4 medium sized jars you need

ripe dark plums (preferably damson plums), pitted and chopped, 1kg/ 2 1/4 pounds
granulated sugar 600g / 1 1/4 pounds
star anise 4 single pieces
ground cinnamon 3 heaped teaspoons or 1 cinnamon stick

Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for 5 minutes. Dip the rims of the jars in spirit and wash out the lids, wash the ladle (you will use to fill the jars) with the alcohol as well. If you can get a thick foil for jam jars (thicker than cling film), cut out 3-4 circles roughly the size of the jars and put into the spirit as well.

Put the fruits, sugar and spices in a pot and bring to the boil, stirring with a long wooden spoon every now and then. When the boiling point is reached (you should see quite a few bubbles coming up), let the jam boil for 20 minutes, carefully stirring a couple times (without burning your hand, hence the long spoon!).

Take the pot off the heat and fill the prepared jars with the sterilized ladle almost to the top. Cover with the circles of foil and close tightly immediately. Let the jam sit for a day (or even a month) before you put it on your breakfast table and store the jars in your pantry.

Tyrolean Plum Jam with Cinnamon and Star Anise

 

Tyrolean Plum Jam with Cinnamon and Star Anise

Sticky German Cinnamon Schnecken with Raisins and Maple Syrup

Sticky Cinnamon Schnecken

Sunday morning, the cosy smell of espresso bubbling in my espresso maker and fresh, warm buns on the table, there’s no better weekend treat! This week, my breakfast buns are German schnecken, sticky pastry snails, filled with cinnamon and raisins, sweet, juicy and buttery. The top is crisp but when you pull the buns apart you can feel their soft inside, it’s puffy, infused with cinnamon, slightly soaked with a thick syrup made of butter, sugar and a splash of maple syrup. They taste divine, I love them!

I had planned to bake cardamom buns for days but a package of raisins changed my mind in the last second and brought the cinnamon in. I like this combination so much that I forget about other spices sometimes, but next time it’ll be cardamom again!

Sticky Cinnamon Schnecken

 Cinnamon Schnecken

For 14 Schnecken you need

plain flour 600g / 21 ounces
sugar 75g / 3 ounces
dry yeast 1 package for 500g / 1 pound of flour
salt 1 teaspoon
ground cinnamon 1 leveled teaspoon
butter, melted, 100g / 3.5 ounces
milk, lukewarm, 225ml / 7.5 ounces
organic eggs 2

For the syrup
water 50ml / 2 ounces
sugar 120g / 4.5 ounces
maple syrup 1 tablespoon
butter 50g / 2 ounces

For the filling
raisins 60g / 2 ounces
sugar 30g / 1 ounce
cinnamon 1 tablespoon

Combine the dry ingredients. Mix the hot melted butter with the cold milk and the 2 eggs, this way the liquid mixture will have the right lukewarm temperature (check with a finger). Mix the dry and the liquid mixture with your dough hooks for 5 minutes until well combined. Continue kneading with your hands for around 5 minutes until you have an elastic dough ball. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let the dough rise in a 35°C / 95°F warm oven for 70 minutes. Make sure that your oven is set to top/ bottom heat and not to fan.

Bring all the ingredients for the syrup to a boil and cook on a medium heat for 3 minutes. Mix the raisins, sugar and cinnamon for the filling.

Take the dough out, punch it down and knead for 1 minute. Roll it out on a working surface (roughly 36 x 32cm / 14 x 12.5″), spread with the syrup and sprinkle with the sugared raisins. Roll it up tightly, cut into 14 schnecken and put into a buttered springform pan (around 26cm /10″), arrange them in a circle. Cover with a tea towel and let them rise for 20 minutes in a warm place.

Set your oven to 175°C / 350°F (fan-assisted oven).

Bake for 3o minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool for a few minutes before you take them out of the pan.

Sticky Cinnamon Schnecken

 

Sticky Cinnamon Schnecken

 

Sticky Cinnamon Schnecken

Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon

Blueberry Pancakes

A couple weeks ago I wrote about French toast, my ultimate cosy weekend breakfast! I mentioned that there is one sweet treat I enjoy as much, fluffy morning pancakes! Even better, blueberry pancakes with maple syrup! The sweet berries taste divine with or without any kind of syrup but if I can choose maple is my favourite in this combination. Sometimes I replace the berries with thick slices of apple and sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. That’s how my mother used to make them for me, or I add some chocolate spread or my blood orange marmalade, but when I saw the thick and juicy blueberries from Chile at the market my breakfast choice for this weekend was made!

When I make pancakes, I make lots of them because I can eat lots of them. I enjoy them straight out of the pan, warm and fluffy as well as in the afternoon with a cup of tea when they are already soft and cold. For my dough, I start off with 4 organic eggs, separated, the egg whites beaten till stiff with a pinch of salt. I combine 180g / 6.5 ounces of flour (I use spelt flour type 630 but you can use any other plain flour) with 2 scant teaspoons of baking powder and 1 teaspoon of sugar. I add 200 ml of milk, the egg yolks and mix everything well before I gently fold in the egg whites.

I fry the pancakes in batches, 3 at a time always adding a teaspoon of butter before I pour a ladle of my thick dough into the pan. I sprinkle the soft dough with the blueberries, pushing them in a bit so that they won’t burn when I turn the pancakes. When they are golden brown on each side, I pile them up on a plate, pour the maple syrup on top and sprinkle with cinnamon. Sometimes I even let some butter melt on their golden tops, it’s the weekend after all!

Blueberry Pancakes

 

Blueberry Pancakes

 

Blueberry Pancakes

Red Wine Cake with Cinnamon and Chocolate

Red Wine Cake

This is the cake of my late teenage years, made with red wine, bittersweet chocolate chunks and cinnamon. It’s spongy, juicy and so rich in taste! My friends and I were obsessed with it, we baked it for every possible occasion. That’s a while ago now and I’ve since moved on to other great cakes but today I thought it’s time again: pink cake for the weekend!

I must say it was yesterday that this idea came to mind. I baked it and was surprised by the cakes texture until I noticed that I didn’t put in the right amount of wine – I mixed up milliliters and cups on my measuring cup and put in far too little red wine. The cake turned out much too dry and hard on the outside. I was confused at first, wondering if the memory was sweetened by time but I remembered this cake so soft and juicy that I knew I must have mixed up the recipe (I even questioned my oven’s reliability for a second). Today I got my second chance and my pink cake turned out as pretty and delicious as I remembered it!

Red Wine Cake

Red Wine Cake with Chocolate and Cinnamon

For 1 loaf tin, about 23cm x 10cm / 9″ x 4″, you need

butter 250g / 9 ounces
sugar 250g / 9 ounces
organic eggs 4
plain flour 250g / 9 ounces
baking powder 3 teaspoons
cocoa powder 3 teaspoons
cinnamon, ground, 2 teaspoons
a pinch of salt
red wine 125ml
bittersweet chocolate, chopped, 100g / 3.5 ounces

For the icing:
icing sugar (100g / 3.5 ounces) mixed with red wine or water (3-4 tablespoons)

Set your oven to 165°C / 330°F (fan-assisted oven). Butter your loaf tin and dust with flour.

Combine the dry ingredients (except the sugar). Mix the butter together with the sugar till fluffy, add the eggs, one at a time, and continue mixing for a couple minutes. Add the dry ingredients and the red wine and mix until smooth. Gently fold in the chocolate and scoop into your prepared tin. Bake for 65 minutes or until golden. Check with a skewer, it should come out clean, and let it cool. Spread the icing sugar on top of the cake to finish its pink glory.

Red Wine Cake

 

Red Wine Cake

 

Red Wine Cake