Valentine’s Cake {honey sweet}

The recipe for this torte (cake) comes from my old recipe book that I started when I was about thirteen years old. There are so many good memories of love and friendship preserved on its yellowed pages. Today is just a perfect day to share with you my recipe for this rich and fragrant Valentine’s cake.

Happy Valentine's

Its sweet and satisfying taste will definitely charm your taste buds. Talking about love at the first bite! 🙂

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Valentine’s Cake

{print recipe}

Cake:

  • 250 g (8.8 oz) honey
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar (or 1 TSP vanilla extract)
  • 50 g (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 1 TSP cinnamon
  • 1/2 TSP ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 250 g (8.8 oz) flour
  • 3 TSP baking powder

Frosting:

  • 130 g (1 pack) vanilla pudding powder (not instant)
  • 200 g (2 sticks less 1 TBSP) butter (at room temperature)
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) cherry jam (red currant jam can be used too)

Also needed:

  • 8 inch (20 cm) round cake pan
  • Same size piece of parchment paper

*** The recipe for the chocolate swirls I found here and it worked perfectly!

PREPARATION:

  1. In a larger sauce pan combine honey, sugar, vanilla and butter. Heat at medium temperature until well blended. Set aside and let it cool completely.
  2. After honey mixture has cooled down, add zest and juice of one lemon, cinnamon and cloves.
  3. Lightly beat two eggs and also add it to the mixture.
  4. Combine flour and baking powder and fold into honey mixture.
  5. Pour the batter into the cake pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 365 F (185 C) about 30-35 minutes.
  6. For the frosting prepare vanilla pudding as directed on the box. Instead of 3 cups of milk use only 2 cups since a thicker pudding is needed. When pudding is cooked and cooled down, mix it with 200 g whipped butter until well combined.
  7. To assemble the cake, first cut it once across to get two equal pieces. Spread the bottom piece with cherry jam and then with the half of the frosting. Put the second piece on the top. Frost the cake all around with the remaining frosting. Decorate as desired.

Valentine's Cake

Valentine's Cake

Chocolate Swirls

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Classic Vienna Apple Strudel or Wiener Apfelstrudel

Autumn without apple strudel would be like spring without the rain, summer without the sunshine or movies without popcorn. Autumn harvest in Bosnia/Balkan region usually brings a bounty of different kind of apples. Mostly every backyard has some type of a fruit tree, be it a plum, pear, apple or a quince tree. Of course that bounty of different kinds of fruit needs to be preserved in some way or used for delicious desserts. I vividly remember my mom and grandmother making jams, juices and baking in the fall. Nothing was allowed to go to waste.

Now what does Bosnia and Vienna Apple Strudel have in common? For about 40  years at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century Bosnia was under Austria-Hungary Empire rule, which resulted in mixing of cultures and of course influences on Bosnian cuisine (which before reflected mainly Turkish/Ottoman and Eastern influences).

Apple strudel in Bosnia is also known as ‘apple pita’ and can be made in a few different ways. Usually it is made out of paper thin phyllo dough with shredded or sliced apple filling and with addition of sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, almonds, raisins, etc.

Here is one really great recipe for Vienna Apple Strudel. This strudel can be served by itself with a nice cup of coffee or also paired up with vanilla sauce or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Classic Vienna Apple Strudel

[printable recipe]

Serving 8-10

Strudel Dough:

  • 150 ml  (1/2 cup + 2 TBSP)warm milk
  • 250 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 1 TBSP white wine
  • a pinch of salt
    +
    oil for brushing and
    flour for kneading

Filling:

  • 60 g (2.1 oz) bread crumbs
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
  • 50 g (1.8 oz )butter
  • 50 g (1.8 oz) sliced almonds
  • 1 lemon (juice)
  • 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) apples
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 40 ml (3 TBSP) dark rum
  • 50 g (1.8 oz) raisins
  • 1/2 TSP cinnamon

+
50 g (1.8 oz) melted butter for brushing
powdered sugar for sprinkling

Preparation:

  1. In a mixer bowl with the spiral hooks add flour, egg, oil, white wine and a pinch of salt. Start mixing slowly adding warm milk. Mix for a few minutes until smooth dough forms.  Sprinkle some flour right into the bowl and knead the dough by hand few times and form it into a ball. Place the dough into an oil coated bowl. Make sure the dough is well coated with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest at a warm place for about two hours.
  2. While the dough is resting prepare bread crumbs and almonds for the filling. In a pan melt the butter on a low temperature. Mix bread crumbs and sugar and add it to the butter and let it brown just very lightly (2-3 minutes). Let it cool. Roast the sliced almonds on a low temperature in the pan until fragrant and just starting to brown.
  3. Squeeze the lemon and put the lemon juice into a bowl. Peel the apples, core them and quarter them. Slice into very thin slices. As you slice them, brush some lemon juice over them so they don’t get brown. When done slicing, add all the remaining lemon juice to the apples, add sugar, rum, raisins, cinnamon and almonds. Toss it lightly and set aside.
  4. Melt the rest of the butter and keep it handy. Prepare a clean, large kitchen towel where you will stretch the dough. Dust the towel with some flour.  (I’ve used a 16 X 26 inch/ 40 X 66 cm towel). Now take the dough out of the bowl and place it onto a floured surface (not towel) and roll it a bit with a rolling pin. Transfer it to the kitchen towel and start stretching by placing your hands underneath the dough and pulling from the middle to the sides.  When the dough is nice and thin, cut of the thick edges.   Brush the dough with melted butter.  Spread the bread crumbs over the dough leaving a 2 inch (5 cm) edge all around. Spread the apple filling on the top of the bread crumbs.
  5. This is how to roll the strudel. Flap the 2 short and 1 long edge over the filling. Taking the kitchen towel by the longer flapped edge, roll up the strudel. Still holding the towel transfer strudel to the baking sheet. Bake at 400 F (200 C) for about 20-25 minutes in the lower portion of the oven. Serve warm sprinkled with powdered sugar.  If desired you can also add a side of vanilla sauce or vanilla ice cream to it.

Bon Appétit!

Butternut Squash Cookies

While I was on a short break from baking I spent time painting, remodeling my kids rooms and participating in the Artist Trading Cards project. All these activities are coming to their end (will write about it in the future) and I am again longing to spend time with my favorite friends: flour, butter, rolling pin and the rest of the gang. 🙂 I really enjoy fall baking! When I think of fall baking, I think of apples, pumpkins, squash, cinnamon, brown sugar and fragrant aromas enveloping the whole house. Last week I baked a butternut squash for dessert and had about a half of it left. I came to the idea to use it as a filling for cookies. The cookies turned out to be a huge hit with my family and friends, so I hope you will enjoy them too. These are absolutely one of the best cookies I’ve ever made. They melt in your mouth and are delicious warm or cold, just by itself or paired up with a cup of milk, coffee or tea.

Butternut Squash Cookies                                              

[printable recipe]

Yields about 40 cookies

* First bake butternut squash or pumpkin with 50 g (1/4 cup) brown sugar and 1 TBSP butter.

Cookie dough:

  • 250 g (8.8 oz) butter (softened)
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 350 g (12.3 oz) all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 250 g (8.8 oz) baked and mashed butternut squash (or pumkin)
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 80 g (2.8 oz) walnuts (chopped)

* Before starting with the dough prepare a fresh butternut squash or pumpkin. I use butternut squash because is most flavorful in my opinion. You will need about half of one medium squash. Peel it, remove seeds and cut into cubes. Mix with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and one melted tablespoon of butter. Place it into a casserole dish, cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 20-30 minutes at 400 F (200 C).

For the cookie dough beat together softened butter, sugar and salt until foamy. Add one egg and egg yolk until incorporated and then add flour (little by little) until all used up.  You may want to leave the dough in the fridge for about 1/2 an hour.

While the dough is resting mash 250 baked butternut squash, add brown sugar, cinnamon and chopped walnuts. Mix until well incorporated.

On a floured surface roll your dough into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Cut into 1 ½ inches squares so your cookies are even in size. Pat each rectangle with your fingers until about 2 inches in diameter. Place a teaspoon of filling onto cookie dough, close it up and lightly flatten it. Place it onto cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Repeat until all cookie dough is gone.

Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 12 minutes. Don’t let them brown, they need to stay light. Cool slightly and dust with powder sugar. These cookies melt in your mouth! You can also choose different fillings such as almond filling, poppy seed, chocolate, nutella, etc.

Lazy Apple Pie

For some time now, my daughter has been asking me to make an apple pie. Honestly, I have never made a pie, not apple or any other kind, at least not what in the U.S. one would call a pie.

Pie dough I made numerous times, but always for some different desert such as a tart, a galette or similar. I guess, I just hang too tight on my European/Bosnian strings and have not yet found inspiration or courage to tackle the Pie Challenge. So, today I went for a, what is in Bosnia known as a Lazy Pie, because it really is almost effortless and the results are more than satisfying. Instead of all white flour, I used some rye flour too, for a richer taste. The real pie will have to wait for that special moment of inspiration…

THIS PIE TRULY MELTS IN YOUR MOUTH!!!

Dough:

  • 1 2/3 cup (215 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (43 g) rye flour
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
  • 10 1/2 tbsp (150 g) unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 lemon (zest)
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • pinch of salt
Filling:
  • 35 oz (1 kg) apples (peeled and shredded)
  • 6 tbsp (75 g) sugar
  • 1 pack vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • handful of raisins (soaked in mixture of 1/3 cup rum and 1/3 cup water)
1.  For the dough combine white flour, rye flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Mix well. Add butter, sour cream and egg yolk and mix for few minutes to form a firm dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for about 45 minutes.
2. While the dough is resting, soak the raisins in rum/water mixture. Next, peel apples, and coarsely shred them (don’t worry if they are turning brown). Add sugar, vanilla, lemon zest and juice, cinnamon and raisins. Set aside.
3. Grease a 9×11 inch baking pan, sprinkle with flour. Take the dough out of the fridge and divide in two. Dust your working surface with flour, roll the dough into an 9×11 in square. Roll it carefully back onto the rolling pin, transfer to the pan and unroll.
4. Spread all the filling onto the dough. Repeat the same with the second piece of the dough and place it on the top of the filling. Poke the top with a fork in about 10 places, so moisture can escape during baking.
5. Bake at 400 F (200 C) about 40 minutes. Cool completely, dust with powder sugar, cut into 1×3 in squares and serve.
Enjoy!

 

Apple Dumplings with a twist

One beautiful, sunny fall weekend in September, we made a trip to the Amish country in Northern Indiana. Driving through the rolling fields of corn, beans and soy, with patches of autumn colored trees was just amazing and so peaceful. We spent the afternoon at the local Apple Festival and enjoyed the sights of the homemade baked goods, Amish made items, apples, mums and Amish children in their simple, pretty attires.

My daughter and I ate some wonderful apple dumplings with vanilla ice cream and since that weekend I wanted to make them myself. Today was a perfect day, since I bought some small Jonathon apples at the Farmer’s Market.

For this recipe, in addition to Amish apple dumplings I was also inspired by stuffed baked apples (a desert from Bosnia). The end result was super delicious! Take a look!

Dough:

  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • 9 tbsp (130 g) cold butter
  • 1/3 cup (75 g) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • grated peel of 1/2 lemon (+ juice)
  • 1 egg
Filling:
  • 6-8 small apples
  • 1/4 (50 g) raisins
  • 1/2 (50 g) chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup (65 g) brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp dark rum ( or 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
  • Egg wash: 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp of milk
1. Combine flour, sugar, salt and lemon peel and mix well. Add butter and work it into flour until small crumbles form. At the end add the egg, knead it well. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
2. For filling combine raisins and walnuts, add brown sugar and rum (or cinnamon, or both) and set aside.
3. Wash, pat dry and peel and core apples. Brush with lemon juice and set aside.
4. Roll out the dough on lightly floured surface. Using rim of a small bowl, cut out circles for the dumplings. Cut out decorative hearts, flowers, leaves or similar with a cookie cutter.
5. Place an apple in the center of the dough circle, fill the core with the raisin-nut mixture. Enclose the dough. Brush some water over the top and place the decoration.
6. Place the apple dumplings into a buttered (or parchment paper covered) pan. Brush with egg wash and bake for 30 minutes at 375 F or 190C.
Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream or apple dumpling sauce.
Note: I didn’t find necessary to make the sauce since the dumplings are already sweet and vanilla ice cream was just perfect addition.

Grandma’s Plum Cake

My favorite kind of plums are Damson plums. They are very common in Bosnia, where I grew up. Their smell and taste remind me of my childhood and my grandparents.

I was so happy to find them on my Saturday’s visit to our local Farmer’s Market. I decided to make this cake by my grandma’s recipe. Her plum cake is delicious, rich and aromatic, and the whole house was enveloped in its heavenly smell.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2.2 lbs (1 kg) Damson plums (washed, pitted and quartered)
  • 1 pack of vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 5 eggs (divided)
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 pack of vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 6 tbsp (85 g) unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1 small lemon (zest and juice)
  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 cup (75 g) walnuts (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp confectioners sugar (for sprinkling the cake)
Also needed:
  • Parchment paper
  • 9 X 13 inch (23 X 33 cm) rectangular baking pan
1. Wash the plums, dry them, remove pits and quarter them. Mix sugar, vanilla sugar (or extract), cinnamon and sprinkle over plums. Mix well and set aside.
2. For the batter beat egg whites with just a pinch of salt, until shiny and firm. Set aside.
3. Mix egg yolks, sugar and vanilla sugar at a fast rate and until pale yellow, add melted butter and continue mixing for another minute.
4. Fold in (by hand) lemon juice and zest. Also gently fold in flour and at the end egg whites just until combined (Batter needs to look fluffy).
5. Now add the plums into batter and mix them in well (by hand).
6. Pour the batter into 9 X 13 in rectangular baking pan, lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
7. Bake at 395 F (200 C) about 30 minutes. Cool down completely, sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
BON APPETIT!!! 🙂
Damson Plums – fresh from the Farmer’s Market
Batter
In the pan and sprinkled with walnuts
Voila!