Chocolate Almond Cake

The recipe for this fine cake I have had since 1990. It is really hard to believe that 21 years have passed by. So many things have happened in my life and made it totally different from what I would ever expect. To make a long story short – a college student from Bosnia ended up in Germany because of the war, got married, had children, immigrated to the United States to start a better life for her family, and is now sharing with you a recipe for this delicious Chocolate Almond Cake. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/5 stick (250 g) unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 cup (250 g) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 pack vanilla sugar)
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups (250 g) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 9 oz (250 g) semi-sweet chocolate (shredded)
  • 1 1/2 cups (150 g) blanched, ground almonds
Frosting:
  • 3 tbsp apricot jam (strained)
  • 5 oz (150 g) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 tsp cooking oil
1. In a stand mixer, mix butter for about 30 seconds, add sugar little by little and vanilla, mix until smooth.
2. Add an egg one by one, mixing 30 sec. after every addition.
3. Combine flour and baking powder, mix well. Fold into egg-butter mixture by hand. Add shredded chocolate and almonds and mix well.
4. Line a 9 in (24 cm) round cake pan with parchment paper. Evenly spread the batter into the pan. Bake at 375 F (180 C) for about an hour or until soft center of the cake disappears.
For the frosting, heat apricot jam for about 45 sec. and strain it through a fine mesh, to become smooth and without any apricot pieces. Brush it over warm cake.
Let the cake cool down. Melt the chocolate in a hot water bath, add cooking oil and mix it until smooth and glossy. Pour over the cake. Let it stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Reserve some chocolate for the decoration.
For the leaf decoration, get some rose leaves (plastic leaves are fine too). Brush them with chocolate once, let them rest for a few minutes and then brush them a second time. Place them in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Gently peel of each rose leaf and you should have a beautiful chocolate leaf decorations.
Bon Appetite!

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!

Spongebob Challenge

I would have never thought that I would write about Spongebob on my blog! He is a cartoon character that my kids have been watching for several years now. Even though, they are teenagers now, they still enjoy watching Spongebob from time to time… Personally, I don’t find him very amusing and his laugh annoys the heck out of me! Really!

Spongebob Squarepants and his best friend Patrick Star! 😛

The reason, I am writing about our famous Spongebob is that my 7 year old nephew wanted a Spongebob birthday cake! Actually, he said he wanted either a “Spongebob” or “Cars” cake… Since I made him a “Cars” cake last year, I just took on a Spongebob challenge. I am not really a fondant cake type of person! Yes, fondant covered cakes are nice and beautiful, works of art and so on… just not for me!

So, this was really a double challenge – Spongebob and fondant (so not me)! For the love of my cutie-pie nephew I made this cake! It wasn’t easy and it was time consuming.

I enjoyed baking the cake from scratch and making the chocolate ganache frosting. I sliced the cake in half, spread half of the frosting on the first sponge, then put a layer of banana slices, frosting again and then second cake sponge on the top. Spongebob, his house and Patrick I made from rice crispy treats. Everything was covered in fondant (of course)!

Fondant was a whole different story! I didn’t make it myself (learned that lesson last year)! 😀 I bought the white fondant and then worked food coloring into it to get the colors needed for the Spongebob cake! While I was working on it, I remembered how people on the Cake Boss Show do this every day and all I can say is “Hats off to them!” After I made all the colors needed for the cake, I started working on all the small pieces that would come together at the end. My daughter helped me build Spongebob because she loves him and knows every little detail on him. She went even so far to put red and blue stripes on his socks!!! :S This was hard work, but I am glad we did it, especially because my daughter and I worked as a team and in the process she told me about all the funny Spongebob episodes.

I was happy to finish the cake (at 3 AM) and even more happy that my nephew loved it and that his Birthday party was a success! I’m waiting for another challenge this time next year or before… 🙂

This is how it turned out:

His royal Spongyness himself! 🙂

Dinner Rolls from scratch

Delicious dinner rolls are pretty simple to make if you have a little time. They are great, not only for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but for special occasions and holidays as well.  I like to shape them like knots, pull-aparts or crescents, just for a fun of it! 🙂 Homemade dinner rolls are super yummy and soooo much better tasting than the store bought ones! In addition to that, they don’t contain any preservatives and questionable ingredients. You may sprinkle them with your favorite topping or just leave them plain!

Ingredients for about 15-16 rolls:

  • 4 cups ( 512 g) all-purpose flour*
  • 2/3 cup (75 g) dry milk powder
  • 1 pack of active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar*
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp (42 g) butter (room temperature)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • about 2 1/4 cup (500 ml) warm water
Egg wash:
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk
1. In a large bowl (or a stand mixer bowl) combine and mix well all dry ingredients, add thinly sliced butter. Pour little by little water into the bowl and mix slowly for 2-3 minutes, add oil and continue mixing for the next 5 minutes.
2. When the dough doesn’t stick to the walls of the bowl and it looks shiny and smooth, form it into a ball, cover with a clean dish towel and let it raise over night or at least 1 to 1 1/2 hour. The dough needs to double its volume.
3. Sprinkle your working surface with flour, roll the dough into a 10 X 15 inch (25 X 35 cm) rectangle. Prepare a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. Grease your muffin pan.
4. For the knot shaped rolls cut the dough at the shorter end into 1 in (2.5 cm) strips. Tie a strip into a knot with ends placed on the bottom. Allow some space between knots as they will raise and expand during baking.
5. For the pull-apart rolls, form 1 inch balls, putting three together into a muffin pan.
6. For the egg wash, lightly beat an egg with two table spoons of milk, brush over rolls and sprinkle with your favorite topping or just leave plain. Let the rolls raise for about 30-45 minutes.
7. Pre-heat oven to 400 F (200 C) and bake about 20 minutes or until beautiful golden-brown color.
*Note:
For bread and rolls I always use “King Arthur” all-purpose or bread flour. I think it is the best flour on US market.
If you like sweeter rolls add 2 more tbsp of sugar into the dough.
Bon Appetite!

Peach Upside-Down Cake

After making peach jam last weekend, I had some peaches left and decided to make this delicious peach upside-down cake. I usually make this cake with plums, but thought peaches would work just as good. This cake is really easy to make, it’s moist and not too sweet, just yummy! 🙂 Enjoy!!!

Peach Upside-Down Cake

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 peaches (peeled and pitted)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (112 g) butter (room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup (125 g) sugar
  • 1 small lemon (zest and juice)
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cup (175 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Also needed:

  • a small cooking pot
  • 9 inch (23 cm) round springform pan
  • parchment paper
  • aluminum foil

1. Wash the peaches and cut a small cross on the top and the bottom of each. In a small cooking pot boil some water, place peaches inside for 30 seconds, take them out and let them cool down. Peel them, remove pits and slice into 1/2 inch slices. Set aside.

2. Mix butter and sugar until creamy and smooth. Add a pinch of salt, zest and juice of one lemon. Add an egg one by one, mixing well after each. Fold in sour cream and at the end fold in gently (by hand) flour combined with baking powder.

3. Line the 9 in springform cake pan with a 9 in diameter parchment paper. Combine 2 and 2 tbsp white and brown sugar. Arrange sliced peaches in alternating rows (see below), sprinkle with sugar mixture. Pour the batter over the peaches.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 385 F (about 195 C). Take a 20 in piece of aluminum foil and fold its ends as to make a square pan. Place the cake on the middle oven rack and the aluminum foil pan just on the rack underneath (to catch the peach juices and keep the oven clean).

5. Bake about 30 – 45 minutes until golden brown or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

Note: Springform cake pan vs. regular cake pan. For this kind of cake I prefer a springform pan. Why? Well, let’s just say I learned from my own mistakes! 😀 In a regular cake pan juices from the peaches/plums can’t ecscape and cake turns out soggy. In the springform juices can drip out (reason for using aluminum foil catcher) and the cake turns out perfect.

Peeled, pitted and ready to go!

Now sprinkled with sugar!

Pour the batter on the peaches.

Enjoy! 🙂