Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Frankfurt Crown Cake

This is how Frankfurter Kranz gets translated by Wikipedia. It is a specialty from Frankfurt (you wouldn't have guessed, wouldn't you?). It is filled with jam and butter cream and covered with almond brittle. I got a request to make it from somebody who had it once and really liked it. It is actually very easy to make, although it doesn't look like that.

You need:


  • 100 g butter. Better take it out of the fridge half an hour before usage
  • 150 g sugar

  • Vanilla bean

  • good brown rum (a table spoon full)

  • 1 pinch of salt

  • 3 eggs 

  • 150 g flour
  • 50 g starch

  • 2 baking soda


  • 10 g butter

  • 60 g sugar

  • 125 g chipped almonds

butter cream:
  • 80g custard powder
  • vanilla bean

  • 100 g sugar
  • salt

  • 500 ml milk

  • 250 g butter

for decoration
  • 3 EL cranberry jam

  • cherries for decoration
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix butter, sugar, scratched inside of vanilla bean, rum and salt in a pot until you get a nice dough. Add eggs and mix well. Add flour, starch and baking soda and mix only shortly until you get a good dough. Butter and flour the pan.
Bake for 40 minutes until done. Take out and let sit for a few minutes, then turn cake out on rack and cool completely.

For the brittle, heat butter, sugar, and almonds slowly in a pan until it gets brown. Take care not to let it burn. Put brittle on aluminium foil to cool.

For the butter cream, prepare the custard: Mix the custard, sugar and a pinch of salt with three table spoons of the 500ml milk. Put the rest of the milk and the inside of the vanilla bean in a pan and bring to boil. Take of heat, stir custard-milk mix into and continue stirring. Let it cook for another two minutes, while stirring all the time. Then take of heat and let cool down. Stir every now and then during cooling, this way you won't get a skin on the custard. When it is cold, mix it with butter. It is important that the custard is cold, otherwise it will curdle.

Cut the cold cake twice. Spoon jam on lowest part, then spoon a quarter of the butter cream on top, and add the middle part of the cake. Spoon another quarter of the butter cream on this part and place top part upon it. Spoon rest of butter cream on cake, but leave two table spoons of butter cream for decoration.
Put brittle on cake. I throw it against the cake, and fill up "holes" by attaching brittle to the cake by hand. It is easier done than explained. Decorate with left-over butter cream and cherries. Cool for four hours before serving.
Enjoy :-)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Goose roasted at low temperature and Czech-style bread dumplings

I wanted to make a low-temp goose for a very long time. Now, I found a 4 kg one the other day and as we had visitors lately I thought that wold be a good opportunity. Roasting meat at low temperatures leads to the meat being very tender and not at all dry, and especially for fat fowl this is a good technique. It worked great for me and I'll try a duck soon.

Bread dumplings have been an all-time favorite of mine. We used to have them at our family get-togethers, home made. Lately, we tend to only have the ready-made kind. However, a few weeks ago, my mother made them the traditional way again, and I got inspired because it seemed to be really not much work. They are so delicious. It is a dumpling made of bread, without any yeast, and it may be filled with herbs and or ham, but one can experiment on that.

What I did:
We wanted to eat in the evening, not too late, because four kids who would be hungry early were around. So I was aiming at 19:00h. I took the goose out of the freezer one day before, so it would be defrosted in time. To defrost, it helps to take out the bag with the intestines. After defrosting, it is a good idea to cut off the large pieces of fat one can see and easily reach inside the goose (check both ends). Keep the fat, it will make a delicious bread spread.
At nine in the morning, I cut an onion and an apple in large squares and fried them for approximately 2 minutes. Then I mixed them with an orange cut in same-size squares and a handful of dried plums. This filling I placed inside the goose. Then I put the goose on a tray and placed it in a pre-heated oven at 220°C for one hour. I took out the goose, turned the oven off and let the door open. Then I drained all liquid from the tray. Goose back on tray and back in to the oven. I put the oven to 80°C. Now, here is the important thing: it has to be 80°C exactly. Less, and it will not be done, more and it can get dry. I don't have a fancy oven thermometer, but I used our kid's ear thermometer (one can measure surface temperature from a distance with that one up to 100°C) to check on the oven. It had to be actually at 102°C to heat the bird to 80°C. Then, I did nothing for 8 hours - except enjoying the smell that penetrated our kitchen soon.

Well, not nothing. The fat I cut off the goose earlier should be turned into a nice bread spread, and I wanted to do the same thing with the liver.

So: cut fat in small squares, do the same with an apple and an onion. Put in pan, season with salt, pepper and sweet marjoram and let sizzle at low temp for a bit less than an hour, until onions and greaves get brown. Take off the heat and drain into a clay pot. Take the liquid drained from the goose tray after the 220°C hour and drain the fat (keep the other liquid!). You can add part of the fat (as much as you like, but leave one teaspoon) to the greaves. Put greaves in freezer (hardens much faster in there).

Take the liver out of the intestines bag and clean it (try to remove all skin). Then cut it in little pieces. Put the left over teaspoon of goose grease in a pan, add a mashed garlic clove, thyme and the liver. Fry fast until done, then put in a pot. Add butter (about same amount as liver), salt, pepper and puree. Put in clay pot and into fridge. Veeery nice on bread. It even convinced a known intestine-hater person to try and he liked it :-)

Then I didn't do anything until 18:00h. At that time, I started with the dumplings: I took 500g of bread (part of it was old, dry bread, but that was not enough so I used some fresh, too, but that is not necessary). Cut it in small squares, put in large bowl, add 5 eggs, half a liter of warm milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and let sit until the bread is soft (15min). In the meantime, cut an onion and fry it in a pan with 100g ham cut in small squares. Add the onions and ham to the bread. Note: if you only use fresh bread, you still need to let it sit as otherwise the gluten doesn't get set free and the dumplings will not stick. Then take a fresh and clean linen dish towel, make it wet and wring it out. Place it on the counter and put the dumpling doe on one end of the dish towel. Roll it up. Roll in the ends, making sure the doe sits very tight in the towel. Close both ends sugar-candy style with cotton kitchen yarn. Bring water with salt to boil in a large pot. Once it boils, turn the temperature down so it only simmers. Place dumpling inside and let sit for an hour.

In between, use the goose fond to make a nice sauce: Bring it to cook in a pan, add cranberry jam, red wine (I'd advice a hearty Cabernet or Syrah), pepper and salt to taste. If you like, you can make the sauce thicker by adding some flour that was dissolved in cold water before. Take care not to produce clots.

I served some red cabbage with the goose, if you like that, you can prepare it now.

Take out the dumpling, open the linen and cut the roll in finger-thick slices. Take the goose out of the oven. It should have been in there for about 8-9 hours. At the low temperatures, one hour more or less isn't important.

As a starter, I served roasted white bread with the greaves and liver pastes.

Then, goose, dumplings, sauce and red cabbage. A Pino Noir goes well with it (we had one from Sicily), - don't use the full bodied Cabernet-Bordaux type of red wines, they are to heavy. One could also have a white wine, but with the autumn and the cranberries I felt more like a red wine.

My partner made marzipan-filled oven apples for the dessert (will be another post). Wow. Who ever missed this dinner, you really missed something!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sweet-and-sour cucumber salad with peanut

This is momentarily my favorite salad. It is done in no time at all, it can be prepared in advance (actually, it is better if it sits a while) and the peanuts make it solid enough to classify as a lunch meal.

You need:
1 cucumber
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon white whine vinegar
1 table spoon sugar
fresh coriander
1 handful of peanuts

Slice cucumber, mix the other stuff and the chopped coriander in a bowl, mix with cucumber slices, let sit a while, enjoy.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Waves of the Danube - or Donauwellen

A very nice classy from the german bakeries. Actually very easy to make, and the impact you can leave your guest with will be enormous! I also like making it because I like to pinch the cherries into the dough, creating the waves. What I like most, though, is the little *cracks* one can hear when the knife crushes the hard chocolate glaze when I cut myself a piece - hehe. My recipie is a free adaptation from a german classic baking book. Check it out

Here you go:
250g butter (yes!)
200g sugar
5 eggs
375g flour
1 tea spoon baking soda
1 pinch of salt
30 g cacoa (70%)
1 table spoon milk

a glass of cherries
150 g butter
40g custard
2 table spoons sugar
500ml milk
1/2 vanilla bean
100 g sour cream
200g dark chocolate (70%)
1 table spoon coconut fat

Mix butter with sugar. Add one egg at a time to get a nice, fluffy dough. Add flour, salt and baking soda and mix only shortly. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Prepare square tray (oil or paper). Distribute 2/3 of dough on baking tray. Add cocoa and milk to the rest of the dough, mix. Put on top of the first layer. Drain cherries and pinch them singly into the cocoa dough, so that they nearly dissapear. Bake for approximately 40 minutes.

In the meantime, mix custard with sugar and 2 table spoons of milk. Scratch the inside of the vanilla bean into the rest of the milk, add the bark and bring to boil. Take the pot from stove and stir the custard mix into. Boil again while stirring until it thickens. Let cool down, stir every now and then so there will be no skin on the pudding. Take vanilla bark out.

When cooled down to room temperature, mix well with butter and sour cream.

When the cake cooled down, fence it with aluminium foil, then spread the topping on top of the cake. Place in fridge until the topping is somewhat harder (1h).

Melt chocolate in water bath until fully melted, add coconut fat. Spread evenly on top of the cake. You can, if you are artistic, add a wavy pattern. Cool again until chocolate topping hardened. Cut with a knife that you place in hot water for every piece you cut, so you don't destroy the chocolate topping. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

another autumn dish

Potato stew
Simple, cheap, tasty. My kids love it.

Did you know that stews belong among the oldest (historically) known dishes and food preparations?

To continue two millennia of stewing, you need:

A decent amount of potatoes (1.5 kg)
Some meat (I prefer smoked sausages and wieners)
1 onion
1 table spoon sunflower oil
1 table spoon flour
1 carrot
(if you like, 1 small leek, 1 small celery root)
fresh parsley

Peel onion and potatoes and cut in cubes. Cut smoked sausages (or whatever meat you have) in small pieces. Stir onions and smoked sausages in oil. Add potatoes, stir, add flour, stir and then quickly add water until potatoes are covered. The flour makes that it will be a stew, and not a soup. Add chopped carrot, other veggies, spices and thyme. Let cook until potatoes and carrots are done. Add more pepper and salt to taste. Add wieners and let simmer, but don't boil anymore until wieners are heated. Top with chopped fresh parsley, serve.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Onion tart and new wine

When it gets colder and the trees start shedding their leaves, I start craving onion tart and Federweisser.
At this time of year, in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, must of the first harvested white grapes are sold. This beverage is called Federweisser, which is German and means literally feather white. It is bottled while still fermenting, and due to this the bottles are sold with the lid not fully closed, as the bottles would burst otherwise. This causes two things: #1) it is only available for a limited time of year and #2) it is hard to get far away from the wineries, due to transport problems. Tradition requires it to be drank with onion tart. The combination of both, the sweet, sparkling wine-like drink and the hearty, crusty tart is a tasty match, and the caraway is responsible for easy digestion.

On a recent weekend trip to Germany we bought two bottles of Federweisser and last night we emptied them together with onion tart. Despite being usually an all-eater, our youngest child turned disgusted away when we presented him the onion tart. However, if don't trust his culinary sense and want to try it out for yourself - here is the recipe:

You need for four adults:

500g of flour
7g dry yeast
lukewarm water
2 kg onions
400g smoked bacon in squares
200g creme fraiche
4 eggs
200 g cheese (Emmentaler, or Edamer, or young Gouda)
caraway seeds

Put flour in a bowl, mix two teaspoons of salt through. Make a little depression in the middle, add a pinch of sugar, dry yeast and two table spoons of luke-warm water.
Let sit until bubbles appear. Add as much water as necessary to create a nice and elastic, but not sticky, dough. Cover with kitchen tower and place at a warm place (but <36 degrees C). Now for the fun part: Peel and cut onions in small pieces. Put a pan on the stove, heat it and put smoked bacon/ham blocks inside. Add onions, stir until cooked, but do not let them get brown or worse, black. Let cool down a bit. Mix onions, bacon, Creme fraiche and eggs in a large bowl. Add grated cheese, salt, pepper and caraway.
Preheat the oven to 220 degree C.
Roll out the dough thinly and place on an oven tray, top with onion topping. Bake until dough is done and the top layer get brown.

Enjoy with Federweisser, - if you cannot get it, a sweet white wine will do, too.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Mussels with peccorino and bread crumbs

We didn't have those recently, but I cannot stop fantasizing about having them soon. It is one of my favorite dish with mussels, easy to make, very tasty and they look really great. The differences in consistency between the soft flesh of the mussel in combination with the crunchy breadcrumbs and the cheese...
Uh, and I do love eating them with my hands, or using mussel shells to eat them. Hmmm.
Wikipedia tell us that there is evidence for humans eating mussels in prehistoric times (not that surprising, IMHO).

Here's the recipe:

for 6 persons you need:
2 kg of fresh or deep frozen mussels (including the shells, that is)
1/4 l white wine
1 bunch of fresh parsley
4 garlic cloves
6 table spoons of bread crumbs
6 table spoons of grinded cheese (I prefer peccorino, but parmesan does the trick, too. I has to be fresh, though)
10 table spoons ofolive oil, extra vergine
1 lemon

Clean mussels from the byssal threads, under cold running water. I use a hard brush for this. Try to remove all hairy stuff. Discard open mussels (when they are really fresh, they may open during washing. You can test whether they are still alive (=edible): knock them gently on the kitchen counter, set them aside and if they closed after a few minutes, they are fine. If they move in general, they are fine.
Bring water and salt in a large pot to boil, add the mussels and the white wine. 
In the meantime,mix breadcrumbs, lemonjuice, crushed garlic, chopped parsley, grinded cheese, pepper, salt and olive oil.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.

Check your pot for open mussels. It should not take much longer than 10 minutes of boiling until they are done. Drain. Discard all closed mussels at this stage (obivously, no testing for being alive now).
Open all mussels and remove the flesh, gently, to keep it whole. Then put it back in one half shell. Discard other halves. Place a teaspoon of the breadcrumb-paste on top of the mussel flesh in each shell. Bake until cheese melts and breadcrumbs are brown.

Enjoy. (you may eat them with a fork, too)