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Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Since discovering this fruit cake recipe in a German cookbook about ten years ago, I’ve made this cake every winter at least once. I just love its heartiness and rich spicy, fruity flavor.

I’ve modified the original recipe a little, to match my own preferences, and now it is free of several common allergens.

This fruit cake is:

  • dairy-free
  • vegan
  • low-fat
  • free of refined sugar
  • potentially nut free, if you omit the almond flour

2013-12-15_Spiced_Apple_Fruit_Cake

Spiced Apple Fruit Cake

This recipe yields a very dense, hearty loaf, filled to the brim with juicy fruits and seasonal spices. While this cake doesn’t contain any refined sugar, it’s still sweet enough for my taste buds, thanks to all the dried fruit and grated apples. If you prefer your baked goods to be on the sweeter side, feel free to add honey, maple syrup, or your favorite wholesome sweetener.

Prep time: 20 minutes + a few hours of soaking time

Baking time: 45-50 minutes

Yield: One big loaf

*Vegetarian*Vegan*Sugar-free*

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups mixed dried fruit, chopped (e.g. raisins, figs, apricots)
  • 1 cup water or apple juice
  • 1 Tbsp rum (optional)
  • 3 medium-sized sweet apples (e.g. gala, fuji, pink lady)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves, ground
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or ground vanilla bean

Directions:

Chop up the dried fruit into 1-inch pieces, put into a bowl and add water or juice and optional rum. Mix and let soak in the fridge for a few hours or over night.

Combine flours, baking powder, cocoa powder, and all dry spices in a separate bowl. Grate the apples (note: I like to leave on the skin, but feel free to peel them) and add them to the dried fruit. Mix wet and dry ingredients, including soaking liquid, and stir until just combined. The dough will be very dense and heavy.

Pour the cake batter into a greased loaf pan, and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 45 to 50 minutes. The cake is done when the top starts to brown and the edges come away from the pan. The inside of the cake will still be very wet and appear undercooked, but that’s okay.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Then flip the pan and remove the cake, and wrap it in tin foil while it’s still warm. Let it rest for a few hours.

This cake is best kept in the fridge, tightly wrapped in tin foil.

Note: I recommend using unsulfured, unsweetened dried fruits. A mix of raisins, apricots, and figs is what I normally use in this cake, but you could also add cranberries, dates, mangoes or any other kind of dried fruit.

Enjoy!

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Adventures In {Bread} Baking

About two weeks ago, during my little staycation week, I found a bread baking mix in one of our local grocery stores. The ingredient list looked really good, just whole spelt flour, dry yeast, dry sourdough, salt, and sugar, so I spontaneously picked it up. The process of making bread from scratch intimidates me a little, and I thought that using a little help should make it easier.

2013-02-07_Bread_Mix

For one loaf of bread I mixed half of the contents of that bag with 1 1/3 cups of warm water. The dough looked a bit too sticky, so I added a little more spelt flour, but that was probably not a good idea. I kneaded the dough for about ten minutes. With my hands! My shoulders were on fire.

2013-02-07_Bread_before_rising

When the dough finally looked smooth, I put it into a bowl (yes, mine is pink), covered it with a clean dish towel, and let it sit on the counter to rise for an hour. Or three. I don’t remember.

2013-02-07_Bread_after_rising

After resting for a while, my dough had doubled in size. I briefly kneaded it once more and then put it into a floured loaf pan. I covered it all with a dish towel, again, and let it sit in a warm place for one more hour.

2013-02-07_Bread_in_pan

Eventually, the dough had expanded even more, and was finally ready to be baked. I brushed the top of the loaf with a little water and put the pan into my pre-heated oven.

2013-02-07_Bread_done

About 45 minutes later it was done. Finally! Looking at it, I maybe baked it a bit too long, but it still turned out quite nicely.

2013-02-07_Bread_cut

So, what did it taste like? The result was a rather dense and chewy kind of bread, not as fluffy as I had hoped. Maybe because I added too much flour? But taste-wise I’d say it was a success. It was quite delicious, and even my husband ate it without complaining. I still have a few slices left in the freezer and will surely enjoy them when I run out of fresh bread.

This may look like a very lengthy process, but in fact it only takes about 15 minutes of active work, the rest is just waiting.

Will I do it again? Absolutely! While I’m quite pleased with the result, I know it could be even better. The other half of the bag is still in my pantry, ready for another experiment.

Edited to add: Over the weekend, I put a few frozen slices into my toaster oven, and they turned out perfectly crunchy and delicious!

Have you ever tried baking bread? How did it turn out?

See you!

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I know, I’m a bit late posting a holiday recipe on December 22nd. But maybe there are some last-minute bakers like me out there.

This is a veganized version of my favorite seasonal treat. As those Lebkuchen contain no flour, they are potentially gluten-free.

Lebkuchen

German Gingerbread (Lebkuchen)

This flour-less version of the classic German gingerbread is also known as ‘Elisenlebkuchen’, and surprisingly easy to make. Things may get a little messy, but the tasty results are totally worth it.

Prep time: 30 minutes + at least 60 minutes resting time

Baking time: 15-20 minutes

Yield: Makes about 20 servings

*Vegetarian*Vegan*Gluten free*(check labels)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (50 g) candied orange peel
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) candied lemon peel
  • 3 Tbsp rum (or orange juice or water)
  • 1 cup (100 g) finely ground hazelnuts
  • 2 cups (200 g) finely ground almonds
  • 3 tsp gingerbread spice mix (or 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp ginger, pinch of nutmeg, pinch of coriander)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp non-dairy milk (e.g. soy, rice, or almond milk)
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • a tiny dash of salt

Optional:

  • 3 oz (85 g) dark chocolate

Or

  • 1/2 cup (60 g) powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice or water

Directions:

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Finely chop the candied orange and lemon peel. Mix with rum, juice, or water in a small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, mix the flax seeds with water and non-dairy milk. Let that mixture sit for a few minutes until it has thickened. Combine the ground nuts, spice mix, and baking powder in a large bowl.

In another bowl mix the flax mixture, sugar, molasses, and salt with an electric mixer for about five minutes until foamy and smooth. Then add the candied orange and lemon peels and the dry ingredients and combine gently.

Spread the dough onto the baking sheets using a tablespoon. Smooth the surface with wet fingers. The lebkuchen should be as thick as your thumb and about 3-4 inches in diameter.

Let the lebkuchen rest at room temperature for about 60 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 150°C (300°F). Bake the lebkuchen for 15-20 minutes until they firm up a little and turn slightly brown, but they should still be a little soft on the inside. Let them cool on the sheets.

Now you can leave the lebkuchen as they are, or cover them either in chocolate or sugar icing. For the chocolate version slowly melt some dark chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler, then thinly coat the top of the lebkuchen (I use a silicone pastry brush for this step). Alternatively, you could mix some powdered sugar with just a little bit of lemon juice or water, and use that mix as a coating instead.

Stored in a tin box, the lebkuchen stay soft and delicious for a few weeks, especially the coated ones.

***

Happy baking!

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Now that Thanksgiving is already over, it’s time to think about Christmas, right? Actually, I didn’t celebrate T-Day, as it is not a real holiday here in Germany. But as December is just around the corner, I’m already wondering what cookies I’m going to make this year.

Baking Christmas cookies has a very long tradition in my family. I remember fondly how I used to craft those delicious tiny treats with my mother or grandma when I was a little girl. There’s just no way I’d miss out on that!

I have a tried and approved assortment of family favorites, but this year I want to venture out and try to veganize them. Yikes!

I’ll let you know how my experiments turn out, of course. Until then, here are some non-vegan cookie recipes that I’ve posted on this blog in the past:

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint Cookies

Vanilla Cookies (Vanillekipferl-Taler)

Vanilla Cookies

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

Fruity Chocolate Crossies

Fruity Chocolate Crossies

Spiced Linzer Cookies

Spiced Linzer Cookies

Have you already started making Christmas cookies?

See you!

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Wait, what’s that, a recipe? From me? It’s been months since I posted one on my blog!

To be honest, I’m a little embarrassed to even call it a recipe because it’s so simple. But I thought I’d share it anyways.

We European nut butter lovers really have it hard. Fancy flavored nut or seed butters are almost impossible to find. All we have easily accessible is plain peanut butter and tahini. Some local health food stores also sell plain almond butter, but it’s insanely expensive. And quite bland, in my opinion.

I got the idea for this cheater’s nutella from a vegan cookbook that I bought a few weeks ago. The original recipe uses hazelnut butter, but I was too lazy and too cheap to hunt it down, so I used peanut butter instead. The resulting spread was incredibly delicious! I wanted to eat the entire bowl in one sitting. But I didn’t. It was hard, though, very hard.

This spread is awesome on toast, fresh fruit, or a spoon. I won’t tell anyone.

Banana & Nutella

Easy Vegan (Peanut Butter) Nutella

Note: I used peanut butter for this recipe, but I’m sure any kind of nut or seed butter would work just fine.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Yield: About 3/4 cup

*Vegan*

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup (75 g) peanut butter (or other nut or seed butter)
  • 1/3 cup (75 g) non-dairy butter (e.g. Earth Balance or Alsan), softened at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp agave syrup
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • vanilla extract (to taste)
  • salt (optional, omit if your nut butter is already salted)

Directions:

Let the non-dairy butter sit at room temperature for a few minutes until it’s slightly softened. Put all the ingredients into a small mixing bowl and stir until thoroughly combined.

Store in the fridge for several days.
***

Enjoy!

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And the Cookie Craze continues! Are you already sugared out? I’m close, but not quite there yet. 😉

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Lemon Sugar Cookies

These cookies are for the lemon lovers out there. Plus, they’re quite cute, aren’t they?

Note: I used a converter for the volume measurements, so I can’t guarantee for their accuracy! To be safe, use the metric measurements!

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus about 1 hour to chill in the fridge

Bake time: 8 – 10 minutes

Yield: Makes about 50 bite-sized cookies

*Vegetarian*

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (200 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) confectioner’s sugar
  • 2/3 cup (150 g) cold butter
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • zest of one organic lemon
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, for icing
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice, for icing
  • sugar sprinkles (optional)

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar, salt, lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg yolk. Add flour and knead the dough with your hands for a few minutes, until it can be formed into one big ball.

Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge for at least one hour.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper and pre-heat your oven to 350 °F (180 °C).

Dust a cutting board with some flour. Roll out half of the dough about 1/4 inch thick with a flour dusted rolling pin. Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter and transfer to the lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake the cookies for 8 – 10 minutes, until the edges turn slightly golden.

Let cookies cool completely. Mix confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice. If the mixture appears too thin, add more sugar. Spread icing onto the cookies with a baking brush or a teaspoon. Decorate with sugar sprinkles and let the icing harden for at least 30 minutes.

***

Enjoy!

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Here’s another one of our favorite cookie recipes. In Germany they’re called Husarenkrapferl, which literally translates to hussar’s donuts (don’t ask me why). They look a lot like thumbprint cookies, but the ingredients and preparation steps vary a little. The biggest difference is that you add the jam before baking the cookies.

Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint Cookies (Husarenkrapferl)

This cookie recipe is another quick and easy one. Perfect for those who don’t have a lot of time but still want to eat homemade cookies. Just like me. Feel free to use a different kind of jam, like blackberry, strawberry, or apricot. As long as they don’t contain any chunks, they should all work just fine.

Note: I used a converter for the volume measurements, so I can’t guarantee for their accuracy! To be safe, use the metric measurements!

Prep time: 20 minutes, plus about 1 hour to chill in the fridge

Bake time: 12 – 15 minutes

Yield: Makes about 50 bite-sized cookies

*Vegetarian*

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (200 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 3/4 cup (85 g) blanched almonds, finely ground
  • 1/3 cup (75 g) sugar
  • 2/3 cup (150 g) soft butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup (150 g) smooth raspberry jam
  • Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional)

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, sugar, vanilla seeds, and salt. Then add the egg yolks and mix them in. Add flour and ground almonds and proceed to knead the dough with your hands. After a few minutes, the dough will come together and you can shape it into a big ball.

Dust a cutting board with some flour to prevent sticking. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll each one into a long roll, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the dough rolls tightly in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge for at least one hour.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper and pre-heat your oven to 350 °F (180 °C).

Cut the dough rolls into slices, about 1 inch thick. Roll the slices into small balls, place them on the lined baking sheets and make a deep indentation in each ball, either with your finger or with the bottom of a thick wooden spoon. Put the jam into a small plastic bag and cut off one corner to create a very small hole. Squirt the jam into the holes of the balls.

Bake the cookies for 12 – 15 minutes, until they turn slightly golden.

Let cookies cool completely and dust them with some confectioner’s sugar.

***

Enjoy!

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