April 18, 2014

New beginnings and a neapolitan cake



Spring is here! When the cherry blossom trees are in full bloom, you know it is spring for sure. For me, spring is the start of something new and it always leaves me feeling inspired and thankful.

I have been imagining this cake for a few weeks now. That's where I get most of my ideas nowadays, from my imagination (and I always say my imagination is the worst). Sometimes I feel like a little kid, daydreaming about all the cakes I'm going to make. Usually it begins with a picture of what the cake is supposed to look like in my head. I must say, it turned out even better than imagined. Pretty and delicious. Win win!

While on the subject of starting new, you know that other blog I had? I gave that up. Call me cupcake is my baby so I'll be spendning all my blogging time here from now on. That feels really, really good. I love putting all my effort into one blogpost (such as this one, a monster post!) and honestly, sometimes it takes me 2-3 days or more to put together one post. It definitely feels like a new start as I have been feeling very guilty about neglecting the blog (not because I have to blog, but because I LOVE to blog).
I still haven't figured out whether or not I'm going to write recipes in Swedish on here, so please let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions. I'm still struggling with the measurements!

Did I tell you I have a new stove and oven by the way? I didn't know I was getting one, but suddenly there it was outside my door (well, and the men who were going to install it too of course). I was a bit worried about the oven, what if I suddenly sucked at baking?? You never know. Luckily that wasn't the case. I made macarons, and they turned out a bit wonky (I think my new oven is very.. damp), but still pretty ok looking.

To new beginnings!
 






Neapolitan cake with macarons
chocolate and vanilla cake and strawberry buttercream

Recipe adapted from the Cookies n' cream cake from my book Lomelinos tårtor

Notes on this cake, before you begin
-This cake is pretty awesome, but it also does take some time to make. Therefore I suggest making it over a couple of days. You can bake the cake layers one day and make macarons (if you're making macarons that is) and buttercream the next day, for example. 

-Remember to bring all ingredients to room temperature before baking!

-I wanted to use the buttercream on the cake for the macarons aswell  so if you will have any filling left depends on how much you use for the cake. I had enough leftover to fill all my macarons,  but if you don't you can always freeze the leftover macaron shells as you only need 8-10 macarons.

-The vanilla cake is best baked in two cake pans. I tried baking all the batter in one pan and it turned out really dense and flat. The chocolate cake batter is much lighter and can therefore be baked in just one pan.

-The chocolate cake layer can be quite crumbly, so it's better to either let it rest in cling film in room temperature overnight before cutting it in half. If you don't have that much time, put it in the freezer for 30-40 minutes or so before cutting it. Use a serrated knife.






Vanilla cake

Ingredients
50 g (barely 1/2 stick) softened butter
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp (180 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (150 g) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg white


Directions
1. Heat oven to 175°C (350F).
2. Prepare two 15 cm (6 inch) baking pans by greasing them with butter and dusting them with flour.
3. Beat butter and sugar until light and crumbly.
4. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl.
5. Add flour mixture and milk in batches to the butter mixture and beat until just combined. 
6. Add vanilla and the egg white and mix until smooth.
7. Divide batter among the pans and bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
8. Let cakes cool in their pans for 15 minutes before inverting them onto a cooling rack.



Chocolate cake

Ingredients
25 g (barely 1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (90 g) all purpose flour
3 tbsp + 1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (113 g) granulated sugar
1 medium egg
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp milk
3 tbsp + 1 tsp boiling water


Directions
1. Heat oven to 175°C (350F).
2. Prepare one 15 cm (6 inch) baking pan by greasing it with butter and dusting it with flour.
3. Melt the butter and let cool.
4. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add butter, egg, milk and water to the mix and beat or stir by hand until combined. Pour batter in the prepared cake pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. Let cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting it onto a cooling rack.




Strawberry swiss meringue buttercream

I know a lot of people struggle with swiss meringue buttercream (smbc). Actually, the very first time I made smbc it curdled and I thought "there must be something wrong with this recipe". I piped the curdled buttercream onto the cupcakes anyway. Not a good idea. So here are some tips:

-Smbc is definitely easier to make if you have a stand mixer. An electric mixer works too, but it'll take you a little longer. 

 -Your smbc will likely become either soupy or curdled when adding the butter. This is actually quite normal and happens almost every time I make it. The important thing to remember is to NOT THROW IT AWAY! Please don't. You probably didn't do anything wrong. It's just that the egg whites and the fats in the butter really aren't meant to come together that easily. 

-First try beating the crap out of it (I mean for a long time, like 10-15 minutes if needed). If the buttercream is too cold, just put the bowl over a sauce pan with simmering water again for a few seconds and beat until smooth again. If it’s too hot, just put it in the fridge for a few minutes and beat again. If that doesn't work, leave it at room temperature and go do something else for a while, then try again.

-Smbc actually freezes well! Remember to bring it to room temperature before whipping it smooth again.



Ingredients
5 large egg whites
1 cup + 2 tbsp (250 g) granulated sugar
300 g (about 2  3/4 sticks) butter, softened and cut in cubes
150 g strawberries, frozen or fresh, pureed (makes approximately 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp puree)
Pink food coloring (optional)


1. Pour egg whites and sugar in a clean and heat proof bowl (preferably stainless steel or glass). Put the bowl over a sauce pan with simmering water. The bowl should fit snugly, and the water should not be touching the bowl.

2. Whisk the sugar end eggs with a whisk constantly until the mixture reaches about 65°C (about 140-150 F). If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, just rub some mixture between your fingers. If the sugar has melted and mixture is hot to the touch, it's ready.

3. Remove the bowl from the heat, whip until white, fluffy and cool with a stand- or electric mixer. This step can take a 5-10 minutes.

4. When the bowl feels cool to the touch, start adding the butter, piece by piece. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled and soupy (look above for a remedy). Add pureed strawberries to the buttercream and whip until smooth. Add food coloring if desired.


Assembly
1. Cut chocolate layer in half so you have two chocolate layers.
2. Put the first layer, either chocolate or vanilla, on a cake stand or serving platter
3. Spread a layer of buttercream on the first layer (I used about 1 dl / 100 ml / 0.42 of a cup for each layer).
4. Put the next layer on top. Repeat step 3 until you have used all layers. 
5. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on the cake to secure any crumbs. Put the cake in the fridge (but leave the bowl of buttercream in room temperature)  for 10 minutes. Remove cake from the fridge and spread another, slightly thicker layer on the cake.


Macarons
Makes approximately 35 whole macarons

All ingredients are measured in weight since this recipe is very precise!

Ingredients
100 g blanched, ground almonds (make sure to grind more than 100 grams) or almond flour
200 g powdered sugar
110 g egg whites (about 3 large egg whites), preferably aged 1 day at room temperature covered with cling film
50 g granulated sugar
Pink food coloring (optional)


Directions
1. Grind the almonds in a food processor or blender. Sift to get rid of any large pieces or lumps. Mix the powdered sugar with the ground almonds and give it another pulse in the food processor or blender.

2. In a large bowl (preferably stainless steel or glass, not plastic), whip the egg whites with a stand- or electric mixer. As the egg whites start to foam, add the granulated sugar one tablespoon at a time and continue whipping until the mixture is glossy and stiff. You should be able to hold the bowl upside down without the meringue sliding out.

3. Fold in the almond mixture carefully and slowly into the meringue using a spatula. Add food coloring if desired, and stir until fully mixed. Don’t overmix! The mixture should flow like a ribbon when you hold up the spatula. If you want to test if the batter has good consistency, just put a dollop of batter on a piece of parchment paper. If the dollop slowly “flattens”, you’re good to go. If not, keep folding.

4. Fill your piping bag and pipe the macarons onto baking sheets. Remember that the shells will “flatten” once you’ve piped, so don’t make them too big. About 2,5-3 cm (1 inch) is enough. Let macaron shells set for 60 minutes to form a dry skin.

5. Preheat oven to 150° C (300F). Bake for about 9-13 minutes. You can test if they are done by touching the tip of a macaron, if it “wobbles” it’s not done. Let cool completely, then fill and sandwich together. Store in airtight container in the fridge, preferably for a day or two before eating.


April 7, 2014

Strawberry cheesecake jars for Now you're cooking



I made these gorgeous little strawberry cheesecake jars yesterday. Delicious AND super easy to make!
However, I will not be posting the recipe here. Instead you can watch it being prepared live on nowyourecooking.tumblr.com/ on the 24th of April at 14.30 CET.

Now you're cooking is a three-day international live stream event by Electrolux to celebrate their new Expressionist collection. The event is completely dedicated to food, with lots of inspiring recipes, ideas and competitions. Don't miss it on the 22-24th of April!






March 31, 2014

Pavlova, Eton mess and "perfect" meringues




I kind of feel like I'm cheating on spring a little bit here. You see, many of these pictures are actually from last summer, but I never got around to posting them. Such a waste. And I hate wasting, whether it's food, photos or anything else.
I know that strawberry season hasn't begun yet (not in Sweden anyway) but it's definitely on its way. I could definitely eat strawberries everyday already, but there is something magical about waiting for the season when they're at their best (and not imported from halfway around the world).

I know I've said it before, but meringue, whipped cream and strawberries is my favorite combination ever. Obviously I bake several times a week, I eat a little bit of everything but then I give the rest away to friends (FYI mostly to my friend Emma's co-workers). However, when I make pavlova I pretty much eat the whole thing (my excuse is that it doesn't keep well in the fridge.. feel free to use that one if you want).

So here are som photos of "real life" as well, actually from midsummer last year. Dirty napkins, radishes and half empty/full glasses. Everything isn't always picture perfect. Fortunately.












Tips
-Preferably use a stainless steel or glass bowl, not plastic,  for whipping egg whites.
-Even a little bit of fat from the yolk or the bowl can ruin the whole meringue, so make sure the bowl and utensils are very clean and dry.

-Cold eggs separate more easily so make sure to separate them when they're still cold. Bring egg whites to room temperature before whipping to ensure best possible volume.
-It's best to use leftover egg yolks immediately, but if you're going to store them, make sure the bowl is clean and air-tight. Put whole egg yolks (broken egg yolks are ok too, just add less water, about a teaspoon or so) in the bowl and add some water. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 days.
-You should be able to hold the bowl of glossy and thick meringue upside-down over your head without it sliding out (try if you dare!).

What to use leftover egg yolks for:
Berry cheesecake ice cream or any ice cream with a custard base
Pots de crème
Crème brûlée



Pavlova
with fresh strawberries
~ 6-8 servings

4 large egg whites
1 cup minus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp corn starch
1 tsp white wine vinegar

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp powdered sugar
Finely grated zest from 1 lemon
500 g fresh strawberries (about 4 cups)
Powdered sugar


1. Heat oven to 175°C (350°F). Prepare a baking sheet with baking paper.

2. Whip egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar, a little at a time, while continuing to whip. When mixture is stiff and glossy, add corn starch and white wine vinegar and stir until incorporated.

3. Divide the mixture betweens two large dollops on the baking sheet, spreading out mixture with a spoon or an offset spatula (remember to leave some space between as they float out a bit when baked).

4. Put the baking sheet with the meringues in the lower part of the oven and reduce oven temperature to 125°C (260°F). Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, then turn off the oven leaving the meringue to cool completely, preferably over night.

5. Whip cream with powdered sugar and lemon zest until soft peaks. Put the first meringue layer on a serving platter. Spread whipped cream on top and top with some chopped strawberries. Add the next layer and repeat the previous step. Powder with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.




Eton mess
with lime
4 servings

This meringue recipe makes chewier meringues which are perfect for Eton mess! You can, of course, also use the recipe below for a crispier version.

Meringues
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
finely grated zest from 1 lime (can be omitted)

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar, if desired
500 g fresh strawberries (about 4 cups)
a handful of red currants, if desired


1. Heat oven to 100°C (210°F).

2. Whip egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar, a little at a time, while continuing to whip. When mixture is stiff and glossy, spoon onto a baking sheet covered with baking paper.

3. Bake in the lower part of the oven for about 1 - 1 1/2 hours, or until you can remove them from the paper. 

4. Whip cream with powdered sugar and vanilla sugar until soft peaks. Layer chopped strawberries, currants, whipped cream and crushed meringue in individual serving glasses, or on a serving platter. Serve immediately.





"Perfect" crispy meringues
This recipe makes lots of small meringues (or bigger ones, but then you have to bake them longer). If you want your meringues to look "perfect" and to keep their white color, this is the recipe for you! (Pictured below)

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
finely grated zest from 1/2 lemon


1. Heat oven to 80-90°C (approximately 180°F). Put egg whites and sugar in a heat-proof bowl.

2. Place the bowl over a saucepan with simmering water (the water should not touch the bowl). Heat gently and constantly stir with a wire whisk until mixture reaches 60-65°C (150-150°F). If you don't have a thermometer, rub some of the mixture between your fingers to make sure the sugar crystals have melted. The mixture should feel quite hot to the touch.

3. Remove the bowl from the heat, add lemon juice and whip until stiff peaks form and the mixture is cool (may take up to 10 minutes). Add lemon zest if desired. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a small star tip and pipe onto a baking sheet covered with baking paper.

4. Bake in the lower part of the oven for about 50-60 minutes (this is for really small meringues, if you wish to make them bigger you need to bake them longer. The meringues are ready when they feel hard to the touch and you can remove them from the paper). Leave the meringues in the oven until oven is cool, preferably overnight (to make them even crispier). 


March 3, 2014

Semlor



Tomorrow is the big day.
The day to eat semlor.
I've already eaten three (ok, four) this year but haven't made my own until yesterday.
I've made them before,  and I don't want to bad mouth one of my own recipes, but honestly these are just so much better. They are hands down, the best semlor I've ever made. I must say I was almost surpised when I took the first bite. A light and fluffy sweet wheat bun with lots of cardamom, filled with homemade almond paste, topped with sweetened whipped cream and powdered sugar.
I've been working a lot with yeasted dough recently and I must say I've learned so much since making them last year.


February 13, 2014

Carrot cake deluxe



Just yesterday it snowed like crazy. The biggest snowflakes I've ever seen. 
Seemed like it would be winter forever. One hour later, it was all gone. 
I know it will probably be winter for another 2 months at least, but I already have that spring feeling. The days are brighter and longer and the light today was just amazing. I couldn't stop taking pictures and ended up filling my 8 gigabyte card (yikes!). On the other hand, how could you not have spring feelings when you find lilacs in the flower shop (yes, lilacs!!)? I'm not sure what the other flowers are, but they definitely make me think of spring. Delicate and beautiful.



February 3, 2014

A clementine cake and citrus curd



I've never been an adventurous person. I'm probably the least adventurous person there is.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love travelling, seeing new places and meeting new people.
But, I would never ever in my life consider sky diving, bungee jumping, or even going on a roller coaster (I did that once, when I was like 13-14 or something.. trust me when I say you wouldn't want to be the person sitting next to me). I also experience terrible motion sickness, something which I can even experience when watching TV. I hate flying too. The day before flying to Mallorca last year, Christian rented the movie "Flight". Yeah, not such a good idea.



 

January 22, 2014

Chocolate swirl meringues with nutella whipped cream



You know those combinations that are just pure perfection? The kind that makes you want to cry, or at least shed a little tear? Maybe you have no clue what I'm talking about. Maybe it's just me, because I cry when I laugh (you do not want to see me laughing when I'm wearing make-up -it's a mess), crying can definitely be a good thing. In this case, it is most definitely good.
Sometimes I feel like a broken record, but I can't say it enough.. meringue + chocolate + whipped cream = perfection.
Little clouds of perfection.
I have always said that tiramisu was my favorite, but now, I'm not so sure.
I think I have to change it into..

1. Anything meringue, cream and chocolate
2. Tiramisu
3. Cinnamon rolls or semlor.. undecided

I'll get back to you on that last one.