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!

Homemade Bagels

On weekend mornings our family eats what we call a “Big Breakfast”. We take time making food we love, we take time setting the table and take time eating. It is important for us just to slow down, relax and eat this most important meal of the day. Everyone in our family always looks forward to the Big Weekend Breakfast! 🙂 Usually we have what we call an “European Breakfast”, but on some days we have also an “American Breakfast”. This weekend we had an American Breakfast and homemade bagels were on the menu.

Homemade Bagels

Ingredients for 8 large bagels:

  • 4 1/2 cups (520 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) warm water
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp water
  • sesame seeds, poppy seeds, shredded cheese, onion flakes, etc.
  • 3 quarts (about 3 liters) water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp molasses
Note: To have fresh homemade bagels in the morning, I always start the dough the night before. I enjoy making the dough by hand, but Kitchen Aid is a great helper too. 🙂
1. Combine all dry ingredients and mix well for about 1-2 minutes. Combine warm water and oil. Slowly pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and start forming the dough.
2. Bagel dough needs to be firm. It is ready when it becomes smooth and doesn’t stick to the walls of the mixing bowl.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it doubles its volume or over night.
4. Transfer the dough onto a flour dusted surface and knead for a few minutes. Roll it into a rectangle and cut into 8 equal pieces. I weighed mine and they were all about 4.4 oz (125 g).
5. Knead each piece into a small ball, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for about 30-45 minutes.
6. Poke a whole in the middle of each dough ball (swirl around your point finger a few times) to form a bagel.
7. In a bigger pot boil the water, add salt, molasses and mix well. Reduce the water to simmer. Place each bagel into the simmering water and cook 30-45 seconds on each side. If you like chewier bagels you can boil them for about 2 minutes. Take them out and place on a wire rack.
8. For egg wash mix together egg white and water, brush over bagels and sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds, shredded cheese, onion flakes (or whichever topping you prefer).
9. Pre-heat the oven to 420 F (215 C). Line a large baking pan with parchment paper, sprinkle with corn meal and place the bagels on the pan.
10. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nice golden-brown color. For a crispier bagel, place a cup of water on the bottom of the oven, while baking.
All is left now is to enjoy them! 🙂
Here they were just the dough balls.
Already looking like bagels! 🙂
Our favorite toppings – sesame and poppy seeds!
They smelled so good, even a wasp came to have a taste! 🙂