Sunday, October 23, 2016

Carrot Cake

Though it looks like I am no longer cooking or baking but travelling instead, I do actually still stand in the kitchen regularly. By popular demand, I am actually posting a receipe today, hooray, fanfare, hooray!

Though Rübli-Torte is the nicer word, I have actually always preferred the American carrot cake over the Swiss kind. I learned about this recipe through my knitting buddies many many years ago and it has since become a staple, so I could hardly believe it when two friends said that they wanted to bake "my" carrot cake but couldn't find the recipe on the blog! 

I was dead sure I had taken photos of it some time ago. And indeed, I found them on an external hard drive that weighs 1 kilo and can probably store no more than 100 MB?!? I'm not even kidding. Needless to say, I didn't like the photos anymore, but what a perfect excuse (not that i needed one...) to make carrot cake this weekend!

Carrot cake with cream cheese lemon frosting

150 gr of brown sugar
2 eggs
150 ml of oil
2 tablespoons of milk
a pinch of salt
250 gr of flour
1 large tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
200 gr of grated carrots
60 gr of chopped walnuts 

250gr of cream cheese
50 gr or less of confectioner's sugar
lemon juice

Grate the carrots and chop the walnuts. Preheat the oven at 180°C. Mix the brown sugar, the eggs, the oil and the milk then add the salt, flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Add the carrots and the walnuts and pour into a baking pan. Bake for about 30-40 minutes.
Let the cake cool completely. Mix the cream cheese with the confectioner's sugar and some lemon juice (I like my frosting more tart than sweet) and once the cake has cooled completely, add the frosting. 
Tastes best with a cup of tea (at least I always think that carrot cake doesn't go well together with coffee...).

copyright of all photos j.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A pâtisserie class chez les Schmitts in Gérardmer, France

There are blog posts that I start to write, but then a million things come in between and then I post more recent stuff and then, by the time I get back to them, I am no longer interested enough to actually post them. 

And then there are posts like this one, where I walk around with a bad conscience for months because I didn't get around to writing and posting them immeadiately. So even if this pâtisserie class happened several months ago, I absolutely had to write about it!
Almost exactly one year ago, when we re-discovered the French Vosges-mountains, we also discovered the outstanding Pâtisserie Schmitt in Gérardmer. When I decided to spend a week this May down there again, I checked their homepage in anticipation, only to discover that they actually give classes!

In French, I should add. I'm not as fluent in French as I am in English, but I'm fluent in food, so I took the chance, and, mon Dieu, was it worth it!!! The class was called dessert sur l'assiette which translates into a dessert on a plate and what we made was a sablé breton bottom with a ganache topping, add to this a more mouse like ganache montée, some raspberries and a to-die for mint gelée
First, we added 14 grams (not more, not less, baking and pâtisserie in general is a science where every gram, every second matters, do you read that, Mom?) of mint leaves to lemon juice and rum. Later, we incoporated the sieved fluid to chocolate for our mint ganache!

The ganache montée was by choice either lemon or passion fruit flavored (of which I of course chose the latter) and packaged in piping bags ready to take home with us.

The bretons sablés were flaky and buttery and in itself a real treat.

In all classes I have taken so far, I am always fascinated with the craft-part of cooking and baking. The swift movement of hands, the movement of hands and arms to make perfect shapes, the embodied know-how - all this cannot be learned over night! I learned how perfectly round chocolate decorations are made. I learned how to hold a piping bag in order to make nice little mountains of ganache (but still failed miserably at it. Which proves once again what a difficile craft pâtisserie is, where every movement takes years of practice until perfected)!

To the left, you can see how a pro shapes ganache. To the right, you can see my turds...

This is how the pro decorated the assiette.

As my miserable turds were rather ugly, I needed to cover them up. So I quickly placed a disc of chocolate on them and added raspberries. I don't know if it is my Black forestian heritage coming through here, but to me, my creations looked like Bollenhüte!

At this point, we tried our création and packed the rest of them (5-6 per person) in a box, along with the two kinds of ganaches and the gelée to be devoured at home.

This was how I improvised the mise en assiette at home, quite alright, isn't it? 
I am so glad I took part in this class as I learned a lot about pâtisserie! If you are on vacation in the region and speak fairly good French, go ahead, don't be shy, the Schmitts are super nice and since all participants speak the language of food and indulgence, communication is not a problem!

It was a long day, and once I got over the sugar high and the full moon, it was time for bed!
copyright of all photos j.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Back in Zingst: Darßer Ort

I love German reunification day, especially when it falls on a Monday. And where to celebrate it better than in the former East?

So, I just went to Zingst for a long weekend! While the weather wasn't awesome all the time, it didn't matter, because it was good enough to sleep in a Strandkorb, go biking and go hiking.

Last time, we did a lot of biking, this time, we decided to explore the Darßer Ort, which is the Northern-most tip of the peninsula Darß and also a wildlife sanctuary and only accessible by foot.
Park your car at the parking lot close to the Regenbogen camping site in Prerow and then follow the path leading into the woods (don't follow the lighthouse sign, but the sea gull sign).

When you reach the crossroad, take the right turn (the longer path to the lighthouse). The path is only accessibly by foot, not by bike. It leads through a serene dune landscape, but make sure to bring shoes that are good for walking on sand.

And make sure to bring binoculars! Can you spot the cervine standing on top of the dune, right in the middle of the photo? We saw several cervines and hinds and were quite impressed by the rutting calls!

You'll reach the ocean, then the lighthouse, and then after a short path through the woods, you are back on the trail that you came on. On your way back, I then recommend you take a left when you reach the Nothafen (safety harbor), pass it, and then walk back to the car parking not through the woods, but along the beach. It took as about 4 hours, walking slowly and stopping severeal times.
Award yourself with a piece of cake and some good tea at Teeschale in Prerow, you've earned it!

In Zingst on our last evening we saw the most amazing rainbow, too big to fit into my camera!

copyright of all photos j.