Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Swedish Semlor



Today is Fat Tuesday, or as we also call it in Sweden, Semledagen (Semla Day). Semla is a delicious pastry made out of a cardamom bun, filled with almond paste and whipped cream. It's so popular, I would call it more of a semla season rather than day. My dad would start baking these at least a week ahead, and we would have them every night for fika until we ran out. And then he'd make some more.




Now, there're semlas and there are semlas. This recipe knocks it out of the park with its home made vanilla and cardamom custard almond paste. Making your own almond paste is super easy, fun, and it tastes better than the store-bought version.




The mommies from the playground put together a Valentine's Day party for the kids today, so the boys and I brought these heart shaped semlas as a treat. Sharing is encouraged with these, because it's easy to have one, and then another...




Semlor
from Roy Fares


Dough 

200 g of milk
260 g flour
30 g yeast

Warm the milk to lukewarm. Then mix it with the flour and yeast and run it in a kitchenaid with a hook until it form a dough, let rest for about 15 minutes.

Add

160 g wheat flour
55 g egg (1st)
2 g salt
5 g ground cardamom
100 g butter - room temperature
85 g granulated sugar

Mix in the remaining ingredients on low speed then a little faster in about 7-10 minutes, until the dough is shiny and elastic. Divide the dough in 14 equal pieces about 60 g / pc. Round the buns with your hands and place on baking sheet with parchment paper. Let rise under a cloth to double size of about 1.30 to 2 hours. Bake in the oven at 210 degrees and bake for about 8 - 10 minutes, until the bun got a nice golden brown color.


Almond paste

200 g almonds - blanched
200 g caster sugar
possibly some water


Boil some water and pour over the almonds and let them soak for 15 minutes or overnight. Pour the almonds through a sieve and let drain. Add almonds and granulated sugar in a food processor and blend until the almonds begin to feel smooth and delicate, perhaps you may need to add some water if it feels dry. Knead the almond paste and wrap in plastic, store in the fridge.


Almond filling

400 g almond paste (the one you made above)
5 g ground cardamom
70 g of egg yolk (5)
90 g granulated sugar
30 g corn starch
1 vanilla pod
250 g of milk
15 g butter - unsalted

Mix the cardamom, egg yolks, sugar and corn starch in a bowl. Split the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the seeds and add them in a saucepan with the milk. Boil, stirring, and then pick up the pod. Pour the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks and mix well. Pour everything back into the saucepan and heat over medium heat and constant stirring until it becomes a thick fine vanilla cream. Pour the cream into a bowl, add the butter and mix. Cover with plastic and let cool in the refrigerator at least 2 hours. Then mix little by little of the custard with the almond paste to a smooth and delicate cream.

1 l cream - whipped (should be on the semla)


Assembly

1. Cut into the bun with scissors a triangular top
2. Fill the hole with cream
3. Pipe on some cream
4. Put on the top and dust some icing sugar

Monday, February 08, 2016

Penguin Cake



This weekend I got to do this cute chocolate cake for our sons' buddy Tristan, who's favorite animal is penguins. I love making surprise cakes and seeing those happy smiles!




This cake was all chocolate, which is Tristan's favorite. I dressed it with fondant and piped a fuzzy fur with buttercream that I had colored. I also made a glittery snow base for the cake using fondant and clear sprinkles.

Wilton has come out with a new set of colors to color fondant and buttercream with, called Color Right Performance Color System. It includes eight ultra-concentrated colors that can be mixed into any hue you want, and you only need to use a tiny amount. This was my first time using it, and I love it! I can't wait to try and blend my own colors, especially those hard to find pretty pastels.




If you're looking for a great chocolate cake recipe, check out this recipe I posted a while back!


Monday, February 01, 2016

Buttercream Rose Cake



With all of the snowy and rainy weather we've been having this past week, it feels like spring can't come soon enough. So, as a Monday pick-me-upper, I thought I'd share this colorful buttercream rose cake I made a little while back for our friends Jim and Andrea's engagement party.




Aren't these roses pretty? Wilton has a great tutorial on their website on how to make buttercream roses. This was my first time making them, and it's actually not that hard to make with the instructions at hand. You will need a so-called flower nail, but they are super cheap and can be purchased at any craft supply store or baking store. Now, imagine how pretty these roses would be on mini cupcakes! 



Saturday, January 23, 2016

Swedish Citronkladdkaka with Blackberry Syrup



Happy snow day! I hope my East coast friends are all snuggled up cozy and warm with a hot cop of coffee or tea. This little snow-inspired cake is delicious and so easy to whip up. Perfect for a day like this!




This was the first time I tasted a kladdkaka made with anything but the traditional chocolate, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The lemon version was gooey, but light, and not too heavy like flourless cakes sometimes can be. Besides, anything sweet made with lemon is a thumbs up in my book.




The original recipe doesn't call for syrup, but I had some blackberries at home and thought it would be a nice touch to the lemon flavor. And it was delicious! I also used some graham crackers as a crumb coating for the spring form pan. Because, why not?





Stay warm, and have fun baking!


Citronkladdkaka
from Hembakat

1 lemon 
150 g butter
3 eggs 
270 g sugar (1 heaping cup)
2 tsp vanilla sugar*
150 g flour
powdered sugar for garnish

*you can substitute with 1 tsp of vanilla extract


Blackberry syrup

1/2 cup blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cornstarch and  1 tsp of water


Directions:

For the blackberry syrup:

  1. Put the rinsed blackberries and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and mush the berries with a fork. Mix the cornstarch with 1 tsp of water, then add to the berries and stir. Let simmer for a couple of minutes.
  2. Take out a clean bowl and put a fine mesh strainer on top. Pour the syrup into the strainer and press the mushed berries. Let cool.

For the kladdkaka:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the lemon and pat dry. Zest the lemon and squeeze out 2 tbps of juice.
  2. Melt the butter. Add all the ingredients and stir until smooth.
  3. Pour the batter into a greased and floured spring form pan. (I used graham cracker crumbs as coating instead)
  4. Put the blackberry syrup in a zip lock bag and cut a small hole in one corner. Gently squeeze thin horizontal lines across the batter. Take a toothpick or a small pairing knife and run vertically trough the lines. First downwards, then do the next one upwards and continue until you have created a pattern over the whole batter.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, and then let cool. Remove from pan and dust with powdered sugar along the edges. It's delicious when served with whipped cream!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Meringues




"WOW!" You should have seen the kids this morning, when I showed them what I had been up to last night. These bright, colorful sweets are bound to make anyone smile.

I don't know about the US, but in Sweden, meringue desserts like Marängswiss (Ice cream with bananas, chocolate sauce and meringues) where huge in the 1970-80's, and I remember those little crunchy meringues being such a treat. Now they're back in the spotlight again, this time in all different colors, used for decorating cakes and tarts, or just to be eaten by themselves.




Since this was my first time making meringues, I searched the web for recipes and insider tips and tricks. I found one by the Meringue Girls, that I found to be easy, fun and straight forward. Here are a few useful tips I learned:




1) Fool proof recipe is 2:1 ratio of sugar and egg whites. That's all you need!

2) Make sure not to get any egg yolk in the egg whites you're using. A tiniest amount of yolk will mess up your meringues. A lot of people use liquid egg whites you can buy in a box, but make sure it's the 100% egg whites version, that doesn't have any additives. (If you don't know what do do with left over egg yolks, whip up some delicious vanilla custard, or why not some lemon curd!)

3) Make sure that the bowl and whisk you are using is completely free from any type of grease by using a half lemon to rub over all the surfaces. Avoid using plastic bowls as these can harbor traces of fat. Dry with a paper towel to remove any moisture. The smallest amount of grease or moisture will prevent the egg whites from getting stiff.

4) Heat up the sugar before adding to your egg whites to create glossy, beautiful meringues.

5) Oh, and if you have any, use disposable plastic gloves when dealing with the food coloring. I forgot, and by the look of my fingers, I'm turning into an avatar.





Meringues
by Meringue Girls

500 g sugar
250 g egg whites
food coloring


  1. Preheat your oven to 390 degrees F (200 C). Line a small baking tray with baking parchment, pour in the caster sugar and heat it in the oven for 7 minutes. Heating the sugar helps to create a glossy, stable mixture. 
  2. Pour the egg whites into a mixer and whisk them slowly, allowing small stabilizing bubbles to form, then increase the speed until the egg whites form stiff peaks. 
  3. Take the sugar out of the oven, and turn oven down to 210 degrees F (100 C). With your mixer on full speed, very slowly spoon the hot sugar into the beaten egg whites, making sure the mixture comes back up to stiff peaks after each addition of sugar. Once you have added all the sugar, continue to whisk on full speed until you have a smooth, stiff and glossy mixture. You should continue to whisk for at least 5 minutes once sugar has incorporated. Feel a bit of the mixture between your fingers; if you can still feel the gritty sugar, keep whisking at full speed until it has dissolved and the mixture is smooth, stiff and glossy. You are ready to go!
  4. Paint the inside of your piping bag with food coloring by turning the bag inside out first. We usually do about 4-5 spaced out stripes. Turn outside in again, and spoon your meringue into your disposable piping bag and cut the tip off. Pipe out your kisses by keeping the bag tight, straight and directly above your baking tray. Squeeze from a 3/4 inch hight from the baking tray and then let go before pulling up to form the lovely peaks. Place in the oven. We like to keep our meringues mallowy and soft in the middle, so take them out of the oven as soon as they lift off the baking paper with the base intact, about 35-45 minutes.




Friday, January 08, 2016

Wienerbröd (Danishes)



Flaky, buttery, vanilla-creme goodness is a great way to start off the new year, if you ask me. Danishes, or Wienerbröd as we Swedes call them, is a popular pastry on the fika table. We used to get them all the time growing up, and to this day it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling whenever I have one. 

This wonderful recipe makes danishes that are airy and flaky on the outside, while rich and buttery on the inside, just like the ones you would get from a bakery. You can use different fillings, such as chocolate, raspberry, strawberry or blueberry jam, or you can go Swedish style and stick to the vanilla custard. Either way, it's delicious. 




Look at all those beautiful layers of puff pastry! It comes from folding and rolling out the dough several times. This was the first time I made my own puff pastry dough, and even though it's time consuming, it's not hard. It uses only a handful of ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. So, as long as you follow the steps and make sure that all of the ingredients and the rolling pin are chilled, you'll be fine. If there is one thing I struggled with, it was making the danishes look pretty. They kind of want to do their own thing!






Here's an easy step-by-step tutorial for you, so you can enjoy this lovely pastry, too! Happy baking!




Wienerbröd
from Hembakat

Makes 18 danishes

50 g fresh yeast
250 ml milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
480 - 600 g flour
400 g butter

Icing
200 g icing sugar
milk (as little as needed to create a slowly running consistency) 


(For the vanilla custard/crème anglaise recipe, see this post.)


Directions:

1. Make sure all of your ingredients are cold (I'm talking flour, sugar, everything!). I put mine in the fridge the morning of baking. Oh, and per other bakers' advice, I even put the rolling pin and baking sheets in there. 

2. Now for the dough: crumb the fresh yeast into a bowl. Add the egg, sugar, salt, and flour, a little bit at a time. The recipe calls for between 480 g to 600 g flour, but I ended up using the lower amount. Quickly form it into dough, then let it rest in the fridge for 10 minutes.



3. On a floured surface, roll the dough out into the shape of a rectangle, about 12 x 16 inches in size.
Cut the butter into thin slices, and arrange them on one-half of the dough. Leave about 1 inch on each side and fold the edges over the butter.




Fold the other half of the dough over the buttered side, and pinch the edges together.




4. Turn the dough 90 degrees, so that the folded edge is towards you. Gently roll out the dough to a rectangle again, to about 3/4 of an inch in thickness.




5. Fold the dough in three parts (like you would with a business letter), and turn it so that the folded edge is towards you. Once again, roll the dough into a rectangle and fold it in three parts. Repeat this procedure two more times, then put it in cling wrap and let rest in the fridge for 15  minutes.




5. Remove from the fridge and roll out the dough into a rectangle, a little less than 1/2 inch in thickness. Cut it into 1/2 inch wide strips.




Twist the strips and shape them into the shape of the number eight.




Put them on a baking sheet, that has been lined with parchment paper. Let rise covered with a kitchen towel for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 435 degrees.




6. Put some vanilla custard in the two holes of the shape. I prefer using a decorating bag, but you can also use a zip lock bag that you cut a small hole in. Bake for 8-10 minutes in the oven, and let cool on baking racks.




7. For the icing, mix icing sugar with milk and swirl over the danishes, again using a decorating bag or a zip lock bag.




Give it a few more minutes to set, and then, enjoy!



Friday, December 11, 2015

Strawberry Champagne Birthday Cake



Yesterday was my birthday, and just as everyone suspected, I couldn't stay away from the kitchen! I know, who makes their own birthday cake, right?!

There has been a lot of cakes in the making recently, so I wanted keep it rustic and simple, while trying some new flavors (read: not spend hours working with fondant). I love the idea of a so called naked cake, where you cover the cake with a very thin layer of buttercream, but let the cake underneath show through. It has a romantic look to it, and was perfect for this Champagne cake with a strawberry buttercream.




This cake actually tastes like Champagne. It uses two whole cups in the batter, but it doesn't turn out boozy. That Champagne taste, together with fresh strawberries made into a syrup, is a perfect combination, and would make a great New Years Eve cake. 




If you are using real flowers as cake decorations, there are small white plastic tubes, flower cake spikes, you can use. You simply put the flower stem in the tube and stick it on the cake without the stem actually touching the cake. It's an easy and cheap way to make a cake look beautiful, without having to spend hours making sugar flowers that no one will eat anyway. Well, except that one three year old who eats anything.






This cake was a great way to start off my 31st year. Happy birthday to me!



Champagne Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 egg whites
2 cups champagne


Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees (175C). Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar 3-5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add extract and beat in egg whites one at a time.
  3. Beat in flour mixture and champagne in three alternating additions, starting and ending with flour to prevent curdling.  
  4. Pour batter into pans and bake 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Start checking cake for doneness around the 30-minute mark, and remove from oven as soon as the toothpick comes out clean.) Let cool for a few minutes, then invert onto wire rack to cool fully before frosting.


Strawberry syrup

1 cup strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
(1 tbsp of cornstarch if needed)

Bring the strawberries and sugar to a boil. Mash the strawberries with a fork and let simmer until tick. If you like it to be thicker, mix a little water with a tbsp of corn starch. Add to the strawberries and remove from heat when it has thickened.

For the buttercream, I use this vanilla buttercream and simply add the strawberry syrup.



Champagnetårta
från 10th Kitchen

375 g mjöl
3 tsk bakpulver
1/2 tsk salt
226 g osaltat smör
400 g socker
1 tsk vaniljextrakt
6 äggvitor
473 ml champagne

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fiery Wedding Cake



I had the great honor to make my first wedding cake this weekend! My friend Millie wanted to surprise her best friend, who married a firefighter in a small ceremony. Since a big part of their new life together has to do with a move and a new fire station, Millie wanted the cake to have a fire theme.




I have to be honest, I was just as much terrified as excited to make this cake. As a self-taught baker, making a wedding cake feels like the ultimate challenge, because you want it to be perfect. I can't say it was, but I'm happy overall with how it turned out.

This was my first time making ruffles, and even though it's time consuming, it's not that hard. You start by covering your crumb-coated cake with a base of white fondant. To create the ombre effect ruffles, take some additional fondant and color it the colors you want to use. I made red, orange and yellow. Then, take some of the colored fondant and add plain white to create the lighter hues. Roll out the lightest color you are using and cut long strips. Using a ball tool, roll it along one side of the edges to thin out the fondant, and create the ruffle effect. Brush some water on the cake where you would like the ruffles to start (you will want to go top to bottom of the cake) and add the fondant strip. This will work as glue. Continue with the darker hues until you have covered the cake, but make sure you let the last row of fondant ruffle downwards to cover the cake base. 







Making cakes is a humbling experience, and I learn something new every time I make one. This cake was a lot of fun to decorate, and I'm looking forward to making more wedding themed cakes in the future!


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Pumpkin Tiramisu Cake



Happy Thanksgiving, friends and fellow bakers!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite American holidays. We don't celebrate this day in Sweden (we should!), but I think we can all agree that we have so many things to be grateful for. And what better way to celebrate than to eat delicious food with your loved ones!




One thing I love about Thanksgiving is the use of pumpkin. And, as you might know, I also love coffee. Now, how about combining both into a cake, filling it with mascarpone buttercream, and topping it all with chocolate shavings? I nearly fell off my chair when Teresa Huff posted the Pumpkin Tiramisu Cake on the Cake Blog. I just had to make it!




Whatever you're making today, enjoy your dinner and hug your loved ones a little extra. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!



Pumpkin Tiramisu Cake
by Teresa Huff of Style Sweet CA

For the Pumpkin Spice Cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice.  Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy.  Add in the oil, sugar, brown sugar and mix until combined.
Add in the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined.
In two batches, stir in the dry ingredients.
Fold in the pumpkin puree.
Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for about 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.


For the Coffee Soak:

1/4 cup coffee liqueur
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/2 cup sugar


Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan and place over medium-high heat.  Bring the minute to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the syrup thickens slightly.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly before using.


Mascarpone Buttercream
by Evesfika

1 stick butter, softened
6 oz mascarpone
3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tsp vanilla
a pinch of salt
a pinch of cinnamon


Directions:

Beat the butter and mascarpone with a stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until combined. Add the vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Mix until fully incorporated.


For the Assembly:

Once the cake has cooled, generously brush on the coffee syrup.  Fill a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip with the frosting and pipe stars on one of the layers of cake.  Place the second layer of cake on top and repeat.  Dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder or a generous handful of chocolate shavings.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Salomon's Birthday Cake!




Our boys' little buddy Salomon turned 3 years old last weekend. Like every other kid on the planet, he loves Mickey Mouse, and I got to make his cake. I mean, who doesn't like Mickey? Especially when he's made of vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and a raspberry mousse.

I found the inspiration for this cake on Pinterest, and I also came across a great tutorial on how to make the ears from Rose Bakes.

Something tells me you will soon see another Mickey inspired cake on the blog, since my youngest has requested a Mickey Mouse themed cake for his upcoming birthday. Stay tuned!