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Barbie Cake

This time I made a Barbie cake for my daughter's 5th birthday party. The style is very similar to the one I made before (see the instructions here) but since my daughter loves pink and purple I included a purple layer and cape.


Happy Halloween

I must admit that Halloween took me a bit of getting used to. It's not big in Germany and since it's
not even fall here in Sydney it feels kind of weird to bother with it. But, since my daughter is in
pre school they do all sorts of Halloween preparation. One morning she said we need to have a
carved pumpkin as well. I like crafting so I thought we also need some bats to go with the
Jack O' Lantern and so I we made some out of toilet paper rolls and black cardboard paper, ah, and of course, googly eyes! And here we go:

Halloween Jack O'Lantern and bats.

But why do the Americans have Jack O'Lanterns I wondered.  I found a good story on pumpkin nook:
The Irish brought the tradition of the Jack O'Lantern to America. But, the original Jack O'Lantern was not a pumpkin.The Jack O'Lantern legend goes back hundreds of years in Irish History. As the story goes, Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who liked to play tricks on everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. Once the Devil climbed up the apple tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. The Devil was then unable to get down the tree. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses and let the Devil down.
Many years later, when Jack finally died, he went to the pearly gates of Heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was too mean and too cruel, and had led a miserable and worthless life on earth. He was not allowed to enter heaven. He then went down to Hell and the Devil. The Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Now Jack was scared and had nowhere to go but to wander about forever in the darkness between heaven and hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave as there was no light. The Devil tossed him an ember from the flames of Hell to help him light his way. Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out Turnip, one of his favorite foods which he always carried around with him whenever he could steal one. For that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his "Jack O'Lantern".
On all Hallow's eve, the Irish hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away. These were the original Jack O'Lanterns. In the 1800's a couple of waves of Irish immigrants came to America. The Irish immigrants quickly discovered that Pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out. So they used pumpkins for Jack O'Lanterns.

Halloween cupcakes.

 These are the cupcakes I made for the Halloween party:

100 g butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
110 g caster sugar
2 large eggs
150 g self-raising flour
2 tablespoons milk
60 g Nutella

For the marshmallow frosting:
200 g cater sugar
80 ml water
2 egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 180 degree. Line a 12 standard muffin pan with paper cases (mines are from IKEA)
2. Beat butter, vanilla, sugar, eggs, flour and milk with an electric mixer on low speed until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium and beat until mixture is pale and creamy.
3. Swirl through Nutella to get a marbel effect. Divide mixture among cases.
4. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
5. Meanwhile make frosting, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan, stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar is dissolved.
6. Boil, uncovered, without stirring about 5 minutes or  until syrup reaches 116 degree on a sugar thermometer. Syrup should be thick but not coloured.
7. Remove from heat. Beat egg whites in a small bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. While mixer is running add hot syrup in a thin steady stream. Beat on high speed about 10 minutes or until mixture is thick and glossy.
8. Fill an icing bag (with a standard round nozzle attached) with the frosting and decorate cupcakes. I tried to make some of them look like ghosts and the others where for my daughter to decorate. She loves sprinkles (of course) and chose the autumn leaves which is quite suitable actually. The eyes are made with Wilton Sparkle Gel.


How to make Krausalat (German coleslaw)

Mmmh, krautsalat (German coleslaw) is something that is quite as popular in Germany as sauerkraut but much quicker to make. It's also made from cabbage and we ate it together with the flammkuchen and it was very delicious.
In Germany you would use either white cabbage or a cabbage called spitzkohl (pointy cabbage) but never seen it here in Sydney unfortunately.

Anyway, normal cabbage works just as fine. Krautalat is  is a popular side dish throughout Germany and there as many different recipes as there are cooks but it never goes without caraway seeds.

Shred cabbage finely.

Pickled cabbage with Halloween bat - booh!

Recipe for krautsalat or German coleslaw:
Serves 10

1/2 white cabbage
100 ml oil
140 ml cider vinegar
100 ml vegetable stock
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons mustard
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons caraway seeds

1. Wash cabbage and shred finely. Put cabbage in a large non-metallic bowl.
2. Combine oil, vinegar, stock, salt, mustard and sugar in a saucepan and stir over medium heat, until well combined and sugar has dissolved.
3. Pour vinegar-oil mixture over cabbage. Add caraway seeds and mix through. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight (if you can wait that long!).
4 Check seasoning and enjoy.

Serve with roasted meat, bratwurst or just on its on - it's delicious!

How to make Flammkuchen

This weekend was time for flammkuchen or cake flambee as it called in French. The kids got pretty excited as they expected something sweet but in the end they also liked the traditional version of onions and speck. I went to a German butcher to get my smoked speck and it was delicious. Not too smokey or salty and the perfect topping for a flammkuchen. We cooked the flammkuchen in a normal oven (fan forced) and they turned out nice but if you happen to have a pizza oven or stone it will make the crust much crispier. We made our flammkuchen with yeast dough however you can also make a dough without yeast. I will try this next weekend and will compare the two version in another post.
In Germany, flammkuchen is sold at many weekend market and traditional German restaurants or biergardens and it's offered with endless variations of toppings, sauce, and dough. Traditional Alsatian flammkuchen would be with speck and onions or as a sweet version with apples and brown sugar and cinnamon, nom nom. Don't forget the beer or if you lucky enough to be in Germany and the right season Federweisser. I found German butchers here in Sydney and German beer but Federweisser - no luck. Let me know if you know where to get it here, I'd be thrilled. There is another beautiful dish called zwiebelkuchen (onion cake) that goes very well with Federweisser and I love it but that will be a different post.
In Sydney you can get flammkuchen at the Loewenbrau in the Rocks.

Flammkuchen directly translates as "flaming cake." It's considered just as much as French (they call it tarte flambée) as it is German since this pizza-like dish is from the Alsace region of France around the upper Rhine river, which has shifted between German and French control for centuries.
French kings annexed the region in the seventeenth century, which the Germans took back after the Franco-Prussian war in 1870. France won it back after World War I and Germany again annexed the region after invading France in 1940 until U.S. troops "liberated" the region in late 1944.
Legend has it that in the old days of wood-fired bread ovens, the bread bakers of Alsace would put their flammkuchen into the oven at peak heat in order to determine the temperature before inserting their bread. Hence the name flammkuchen or flaming cake—if the oven was too hot, your flammkuchen would literally catch fire. Therefore this practice became a simple method to determine when the oven would have the perfect temperature before you inserted your precious loaves. 

Hot from the oven - mmh!

Speck and onion- traditional toppings.

Kneading the dough.

Until smooth.

Sour cream, speck and onion and heat, that's all you  need!

The dough has to be very thin.

Recipe for flammkuchen with yeast dough:
Serves: 3-4
For the dough:
350 g plain flour
50 g wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons dry yeast or 20 g fresh yeast
250 ml lukewarm water
1 pinch sugar 
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the topping:
250 g sour cream
50 ml cream
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 onion, cut into thin wedges
125 g speck, finely diced
salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine the water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes or until foamy. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture and oil. Use a round-bladed knife in a cutting motion to mix until the mixture is combined. Use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.
2. Brush a bowl lightly with oil. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead (or use a kitche aid with a dough hook) for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in the prepared bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place to rise for 30 minutes or until dough doubles in size.
3. Meanwhile combine sour cream, cream and garlic and season with salt and pepper, refrigerate until needed.
4. Preheat oven to 220 degrees on fan forced (Gas 8).
4. Turn out dough and knead again on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Use a rolling pin to roll out dough very thin until it fits onto an oven tray. Put dough on baking paper and slide on baking tray.
5. Spread sour cream mixture on dough and sprinkle with onion and speck.
6. Cook in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until cooked.

Enjoy with friends and cold German beer. Koestlich!


Crave Festival - Francis Mallmann

On Sunday morning I had to make an exception from my German cooking and went to the World Chef Showcase as part of the Crave Food Festival here in Sydney. Neil Perry (Australia) was there to show us how to cook the perfect steak. Diana Kennedy from Mexico to tell us all about the Mexican way of cooking and Francis Mallmann, who is a culinary superstar in Argentina, showed us the Argentinian way of grilling. It was marvelous and so interesting. There are seven different styles of how Argentinians like to grill and and we all got a pretty good picture and delicious samples of those grilling techniques. I can still smell the smoke emanating from my skin while I am writing this.

In his cookbook seven fires he explains the seven ways of fire, there is the parilla (BBQ), chapa (cast-iron griddle), infiernillo (little hell - sounds almost cosy ;-), horno de barro (clay oven), rescoldo (embers and ashes), asador (the iron cross - that's how they do it at Porteno) and caldero (cauldron).
It reminded me a little of Smilla's Sense of Snow, yet the opposite a sense of fire, it means he really knows fire inside out.
In Australia it is more likely to have a gas BBQ with low, medium and high heat. That's about as technical as it gets. It still taste nice but since barbecuing in Germany also means to grill over coals
I quite enjoy the revival of the fire.

Francis Mallmann cooked/grilled a whole butternut pumpkin in hot ashes. He halved it, scraped out the seeds and fibre and used this for a salad (the pumpkin itself was used as a bowl) with goat's cheese, rocket and mint. It was delicious!
On the BBQ he grilled a whole boneless rib eye and served it with chimichurri sauce, so simple yet yummy. However, I especially loved his potato dominoes, which I never had before and they were soft inside but golden brown and crunchy outside. I definitely will try that when my German food month is over.
For dessert he stuffed orange slices with rosemary leaves and caramelized them on a very hot griddle until smoke was everywhere. The oranges were served with mint and yoghurt.

The showroom with two cooking benches and the wood-fired grill in the middle.

The rib gets slapped on.

Smoking away.

Turning point!


Grilling Gaucho-style.

Francis Mallmann on stage.

Grilled pumpkin salad a la Mallmann.

Flying dishes.

Caramelized oranges with rosemary, mint and yoghurt.

Marble Gugelhupf Cake

Okay, this cake is probably not only popular in Germany but in many places around the world. It was the kid's birthday cake in the 70ties when I grew up. It's easy to make and also easy to transport and to shove candles in. Usually in Germany you would only sieve some icing sugar on top of the cake but I think kids will love a chocolate glaze even more and it gives the cake a beautiful shiny look. I have included a recipe for the glaze as well.
The original Gugelhupf cake is ususally made from a yeast dough but in Germany it's only referred to as a marble cake.

Here is the recipe:
Serves 10

Cooking oil spray for the tin
200 g butter, softened
250 caster sugar
3 eggs
300 g plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
200 ml buttermilk
60 g almond meal
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Extra 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Extra: icing sugar or
chocolate glaze: 3 tablespoons cream, 100 g dark or milk chocolate melts

1. Preheat oven to 180 degree. Grease a Gugelhupf tin (best to use cooking oil spray).
2. Put butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until pale and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating continuously. Mix flour and baking powder into a medium bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to batter alternating with the buttermilk, stirring, until combined. Add almond meal and stir to combine.
3. Put 1/3 of the cake mixture in a large bowl, then stir in cocoa and extra buttermilk. Spoon remaining cake batter into prepared tin. Top with chocolate batter. To create marble effect, swirl a fork gently through batter.
5. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool in tin for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to completely cool.
6. Sieve icing sugar over the cake or make a glaze: melt cream and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cake and let set. Decorate with sugar sprinkle if you wish.


Black Forest Cake and Kaffeeklatsch

This long weekend (Australia shares the 3rd October as a public holiday) was a good opportunity to have a traditional German Kaffeeklatsch. I couldn't find out since when this word exist but it means:
gossiping over a cup of coffee. The gossip in this instance doesn't have to be mean it's rather a catching up with friends. Even though Kaffeeklatsch is quite an old tradition in Germany and what is being served depends on the region in Germany it is still very common. Celebrated mostly by the elderly on a Sunday afternoon around 3pm it involves usually a Torte with cream. Germany is quite well known for its many different Torten (at least in Germany) but the Torte that became even popular outside Germany's borders is the Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte or Black Forest Cake.

The cake is named not directly after the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) mountain range in southwestern Germany but rather from the specialty liquor of that region, known as Schwarzwälder Kirsch(wasser) and distilled from tart cherries. This is the ingredient, with its distinctive cherry pit flavor and alcoholic content, that gives the cake its flavour. Cherries, cream, and Kirschwasser were first combined in the form of a dessert in which cooked cherries were served with cream and Kirschwasser, while a cake combining cherries, biscuit and cream (but without Kirschwasser) probably originated in Germany.
Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte was first mentioned in writing in 1934. At the time it was particularly associated with Berlin but was also available from high-class confectioners in other German, Austrian, and Swiss cities. In 1949 it took 13th place in a list of best-known German cakes, and since that time Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte has become world-renowned.  Source Wikipedia.

My version of Black Forest Cake.

Our Kaffeeklatsch- German-Aussie Fusion style. Btw, sweet Shiraz from the Hunter Valley goes well

with the cake!


My recipe for the Black Forest cake:

 For the cake:
serves 6-8

200 g butter
200 g dark chocolate melts
300 g caster sugar
40 g cocoa powder (best to use the Dutch one without extra sugar in it)
300 g plain flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
250 g milk
3 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 160 degree. Line a 22cm round cake tin with baking paper and set aside.
Combine butter, chocolate and sugar in a medium pan and heat, stirring, in a water bath over low heat until butter and chocolate has melted. Cool.
2. Sieve cocoa over flour and baking powder and mix. Add milk, eggs one after the other and stir until thoroughly combined. Stir through cooled chocolate mixture.
3. Pour chocolate mix into cake tin and bake in the oven for ca. 50 minutes. If cake becomes to dark cover surface with baking paper.

Meanwhile make the cherry compott:
680 g glass sour Morello cherries, pitted in juice
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 tablespoons sugar, depending on the sourness of the cherries
3 teaspoons cornflour, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

1. Heat cherries, juice, spices and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat for 10 minutes until sugar dissolves. Using a slotted spoon take out cherries and put aside.
2. Add conflour water to the cherry juice and cook, constantly stirring, for 2 minutes or until the juice thickens. Add cherries and let cool.

To assemble the cake:
Cut cake twice in 3 layers. Whip 300 ml cream and 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar until soft peaks form. Spread 1/3 of the cream on top of the bottom layer of the cake and top with 1/3 of the cooled cherry compott. Continue until you used all of the cream and compott finishing the with chocolate sprinkles on top of the cake.
You can eat the cake right away as I prefer it but it will be easier to cut the cake if it has set a little in the fridge first. Up to you.
I didn't use any Kirsch as we also had kids at the table but if you want to use it soak the cake layers with approx. 2-3 tablespoons before you spread the cream on.