Simple Crepes

Hello Friends,

It’s bee too long… I have firmly decided that this year will not be as the last. Despite being extremely busy I will find time to get back to my love of baking and sharing my recipes here with you.

This recipe is proven over and over again in my mama’s and my kitchen. It’s from an old French cookbook of 750 pages. More about it you can read here.

You would think something as simple as a crepe can not go wrong, but in my experience it really can if you don’t have a right recipe. They can turn out too thick, too though or kind of chewy. This recipe gives you a perfectly textured, thin crepe that you will want to make again and again. This time I filled them with nutella and served with some ice cream on top.

Next time I will share another way I serve them. In lack of better term I call them “Crepes au gratin”, but more about that in my next post.

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Simple Crepes

[Printable recipe]

Yields 12 small or 8 medium crepes

Ingredients:

  • 125 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 25 g (2 TBSP) vanilla sugar***
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 dl (1 cup) milk
  • 30 g (2 TBSP)butter (melted)
  • 1 TBSP rum or brandy

+

  • Butter for pan

*** Vanilla sugar can be purchased in most stores with an international section. If you can’t get vanilla sugar, use regular white sugar and add 1 tea spoon of vanilla extract into batter.

Preparation:

  1. Combine flour, vanilla sugar and salt into a medium bowl.
  2. Add eggs and mix at a slow speed, gradually adding milk
  3. At the end add melted butter and 1 TBSP of rum.

I usually don’t use mixer for this batter; I just make sure to whisk eggs very well into the flour so the batter is smooth.

Prepare a 6 – 7 inch pan, put a thin slice of butter on the pan, let it melt and heat well. Pour a 1/2 – 1 ladle of batter onto the pan. Take the pan off the heat and move a few times in a circular motion until all batter is spread evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Place the pan back on heat and allow all batter to change color, then flip a crepe using a thin spatula or if you’re a risk taker throw it in the air and let it flip then catch with the pan. 😀

Stack a crepe on a top of another to keep them warm. I usually cover them with a piece of aluminum foil too. When they are all done, flip the whole stack over and start spreading them with your favorite filling; jam, honey, nutella, nuts, apple butter just to name a few.

Serve warm! Bon Appétit!

Crepes preparation

 

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Oven-baked Plum Jam

This is an easy-to-make jam with only three ingredients and no additives. I call it Grandma-Style Jam. 🙂 It reminds me of my childhood and the warm days of late summer when I helped my grandmother can all the veggies and fruit of the harvest.

This old fashioned jam is made with Stanley Plums, those oval, pretty, deep bluish-purple ones. Jam takes some time to bake, but there is no artificial ingredients and the jam keeps very very well for a year and without refrigeration.

I’ve used this jam for breakfast with bread and butter, with pancakes and waffles, in crumble/coffee cakes, sweet yeasted buns or buchteln. I am sure you will find a way to use this fragrant, sweet tasting goodness!

oven baked plum jam


{Printable Recipe}

Ingredients:

3 kg (about 6 1/2 lbs) Stanley Plums
1 kg (about 2 lbs) sugar
1.5 dl (2/3 cup) rum

Also needed:

1 roasting pan with lid (I use an oval turkey roasting pan)
A wooden spoon
Jars and canning supplies

Making jam:

  1. Wash your plums thoroughly (I wash them three times), place on kitchen towel and dry lightly, pit them and half them. All fruit need to be absolutely healthy, discard any that have rotten parts.
  2. Preheat your oven to 200 C (400 F).
  3. Place the plums into a deep roasting pan. Do not over fill because jam maybe be boiling over and messing up your oven.
  4. Pour sugar over plums and stir until well incorporated.
  5. Place the lid on the pan and put in the middle of the oven.
  6. Keep the lid for the first 30 minutes of baking.
  7. After the first 30 minutes, take off the lid and stir the plums.
  8. Bake for another 2 – 2 ½ hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
  9. When you notice jam is thickening, add rum and bake for another 10 minutes.
  10. Fill into clean, sterilized and hot jars and follow your usual canning procedure.

Enjoy!

Stanley Plums, Sljive

Oven baked plum jam

Somewhere in the middle of baking

Oven baked plum jam

Oven baked plum jam

Oven baked plum jam

Hungarian cake or a Birthday cake for him

A few weeks ago my husband had a birthday. When I asked him what kind of dessert he wanted, he said either Julishka pie or the Hungarian cake. I decided to make Hungarian cake since we already had Julishka this year. Now, what is known as Hungarian cake in the US, in Bosnia it is known as Hungarian Woman cake, with a difference that we use only one word for it – Mađarica (Mah-dia-ree-tsah). It comes from the word Mađarska, which is the Bosnian word for Hungary. Mađarica is a sweet, rich, caramely, chocolatey goodness that becomes tastier as it “ages” (!Aging meaning days, not months or years!) 🙂

If the Hungarian ladies are anything like this cake, then Hungarian men should be very happy! 😉 If you make this cake today don’t serve it right away. It is best when served the next day or even a few days later. When kept in the fridge this cake will still be good even after a week.

Hungarian Cake (Mađarica)                                Printable recipe

Cake layers:

  • 300 g flour (2 1/3 cups)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 100 g butter (3.6 oz)
  • 1 egg
  • 100 g sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream

Frosting:

  • 200 g sugar (1 cup)
  • 500 ml milk (2 cups)
  • 60 g flour  (1/2 cup)
  • 150 g butter (5.4 oz) at room temperature
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa (sifted)

For the chocolate glaze:

  • 100 g (3.6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons cooking oil

Preparation:

Cake layers

For the cake layers combine flour, baking powder, sugar and mix well. Add thinly sliced butter and start mixing until large crumbs start forming. Add egg and sour cream and knead into a smooth dough ball. Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces.

On a lightly floured surface roll out each piece of dough into a 9 X  9 inches (23 X 23 cm) square. Lay it on a parchment covered cookie sheet and cut off any excess dough. Bake each layer for just about 5 minutes at 365 F (185 C). Don’t let it brown. Remove each from the oven and let it cool completely.

Filling

For the filling place the sugar into a thick bottom pan. Let it melt at a low temperature. When all melted, pour the milk over the melted sugar. Be careful as this will make quite a reaction and sugar will start to bubble and will instantly harden. With a wooden spoon break up hardened sugar into smaller pieces. As the milk simmers, occasionaly stir it. All the hardened sugar will melt.

While milk is simmering, mix the ½ cup flour with a bit of milk and make a smooth mixture. ( In Europe there is a special kind of flour for making a filling base, but in US there is not, so you  may get few crumbs in the filling – don’t worry about it)

When all the hardened sugar has melted and you just have a great smelling caramelly milk, pour the flour mixture in it, mixing constantly until it thickens. Let it cool completely.

Beat the butter and sugar until nice and fluffy, add the sifted cocoa and beat until all combined. Add the butter to the caramel mixture. Filling is now done. I have divided my filling into two equal portions. One I left as it is and into the other one I added 1.8 oz (50 g) melted dark chocolate and 1 tablespoon of rum.

Putting the cake together and chocolate glaze

Divide the filling into 4 equal portions. Lay one cake layer onto a serving plate, spread the 1st portion of the filling on it. Repeat until the last cake layer, which comes on the top.

For the glaze melt the chocolate over a hot water disch, add oil and mix until smooth. Let it cool for about a minute or two and pour over cake. Shake it a little so it evenly spreads over the top. Leave the cake in the fridge for at least 24 hours or even better 36.

Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving, cut into small bars 1 X 2 inches (2.5 X 5 CM) and enjoy!

See below what happens when you add milk to the melted sugar…

Dark Chocolate Pie in Toasted Coconut Crust

I must admit – I am a chocoholic. I am especially crazy about good Swiss chocolate such as Lindt, Cailler or Toblerone! Baking with these is really fun and the taste is always superb! Since living in the United States I became very fond of Girardelli chocolate and I use it often when baking. For this pie I used 60% cocoa Girardelli chocolate, which is quite dark and rich and the light coconut crust goes perfectly with it.

For the crust:                                                              Printable recipe

  • 6 tbsp (85 g) butter (room temperature)
  • 1 tbsp rum
  • 6 cups (480 g) flaked sweetened coconut

For the pie filling:

  • 15 oz (450 g) dark chocolate (60% cocoa)
  • 1 ¾ cups (410 ml) heavy cream

For the decoration:

  • 1.5 oz (42 g) white chocolate
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  1. For the crust beat the butter and rum until fluffy. Add 2 cups of shredded coconut and work it into butter. Add remaining 4 cups and knead it good with your hands.
  2. Prepare a 9 inch pie dish and line it with parchment paper.
  3. First press coconut mixture onto the bottom of the dish and then onto sides. Cover the top edge with a ring made from aluminum foil to prevent burning.
  4. Bake about 15 minutes at 365 F or until bottom start to brown very lightly. Cool completely.
  5. For the filling, break the chocolate into small pieces and place it into a bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a quick boil and pour it over the chocolate. Do the same with the white chocolate in a separate bowl.
  6. Let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes, then mix well and pour it into crust. Before decorating let the pie set for at least 45 minutes.
  7. If the white chocolate mixture has hardened, melt is shortly and place it into a small plastic zip-loc bag. Cut off a tiny tip and make a swirl on the pie starting from the center.
  8. Take a toothpick and make a line with it starting at the center towards the edge, make another line now starting from the edge to the center. Alternate like this until you come to the first line you made.

Let the pie set in the fridge best over night. Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving!

BON APPETIT! 😉

Marjolaine Cake

The first time I tried Marjolaine cake was at our local Italian bakery. A French cake in an Italian bakery! There is no way that you could find that in Italy! 😉 Anyway, the last few years the bakery has not been making it anymore and few days ago I think I found a reason why!

Since this is my son’s favorite cake and I was not able to buy it anywhere, I decided to surprise him and make it for his birthday. I googled the recipe and found about 5 different versions. I chose the one that in my opinion was best “resembling” the original from our favorite bakery.

Should I say that it took me 5 hours to make this cake?! 🙂 No wonder the bakery is not taking that kind of time! The cake turned out perfect and it tasted s-u-p-e-r-b! My son was very happy! His first slice was as thick as 3 regular slices! 🙂 Marjolaine cake is now on my Special Occasion Cakes list! A lot of work was put into it, A LOT, but in the end it was well worth it!

Here we go:                                                                   Printable version

The praline powder:

  • 1 cup (100 g) whole almonds
  • 1 cup (128 g) confectioners’ sugar

The chocolate cream (chocolate ganache):

  • 2 cups (500 ml) creme fraiche (I have used heavy whipping cream)
  • 16 (450 g) ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Lindt or other European brand, broken into pieces

The pastry cream:

  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (64 g) unbleached flour
  • 2 cups (500 ml) milk
  • 1 1/4 cups (283 g) unsalted butter

The cake:

  • 1 cup (138 g) hazelnuts
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 10 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup (32 g) unbleached flour

The rum cream:

  • 2 cups pastry cream (1/2 of the whole quantity)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon rum

The praline cream:

  • 2 cups pastry cream (1/2 of the whole quantity)
  • 2 cups praline powder (I didn’t weigh in grams, but use all of what you get after grinding the sugar coated almonds)
*Optional: 1 cup (138 g) toasted, chopped hazelnuts for decorating the sides of the cake

Prepare the praline powder:

1.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Oil a baking sheet with a light vegetable oil. Spread the almonds on another baking sheet and bake until fragrant and light brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
2.
Combine the nuts and sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the sugar begins to melt. The mixture will go through several stages,from a dry blend to one where the sugar forms little bubbles the size of peas. Continue cooking, stirring constantly so all of the sugar clinging to the almonds melts, until the mixture turns dark brown and syrupy and the nuts make a popping sound. The whole process will take about five minutes.
3.
Quickly pour the mixture onto the oiled baking sheet. The mixture will harden to give almond brittle. When the praline is cool, break it into pieces. Grind it to a fine powder in a food processor. (Praline can be made weeks in advance and refrigerated or frozen in an air-tight container.)
4.
Prepare the chocolate cream: Bring the cream to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate, piece by piece, until it is completely melted and blended. Set aside until cool and thick. It should have the consistency of a thick, spreadable, frosting. (This can be made as much as three days in advance and refrigerated. If it hardens, reheat it gently, beating until it reaches the proper consistency.)

Prepare the pastry cream:

5.
Using a whisk or electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl until thick and lemon-colored. Gently whisk in the flour. Heat the milk to a boil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk one-third of the hot milk into the egg mixture, then pour the egg mixture into the remaining milk. Boil, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat until thickened, about two minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
6.
Beat the butter until soft and creamy. When the pastry cream is completely cool, whisk in the softened butter. (The pastry cream can be made three days in advance and kept refrigerated.)

Prepare the cake:

7.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Heavily butter two jelly-roll pans, measuring about 14x10x1 in. Line them with parchment paper and butter and flour the paper.
8.
Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast until fragrant and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the warm nuts in a cotton dish towel to remove as much skin as possible. Cool, then grind them with a quarter cup of the sugar in a food processor.
9.
Using a whisk or electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to stiffen. Slowly add the remaining sugar, mixing until stiff but not dry. Fold in the flour and hazelnut mixture. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pans. Bake until the cakes are thoroughly browned, 25 to 30 minutes.
10.
Remove the cakes from the oven and invert them onto racks to cool, paper side up. Cover the cakes with a damp towel for several minutes, then remove the parchment paper while the cakes are still warm. Let cool completely. Cut each cake lengthwise in half.
11.
At least 24 hours, but not more than three days, before serving, assemble the Marjolaine: Divide the pastry cream in half. Blend the vanilla extract and the rum into one portion of the pastry cream. Blend the praline powder into the remaining pastry cream. (Mix the praline cream just before assembling the cake, because the flavor will fade if mixed up in advance.) The chocolate and pastry creams should be chilled, but spreadable.
12.
Place one cake layer on a large, rectangular serving platter. Spread half the chocolate cream on the cake. Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes. Cover the chocolate cream with a second cake layer. Spread with all of the rum cream and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Top the rum cream with the third cake layer. Spread with all of the praline cream and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Top the praline cream with the fourth cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining chocolate cream. Refrigerate uncovered for 15 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate one to three days before serving.
13.
To serve, remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before cutting, then cut into thin slices.
**Original recipe found here (I slightly changed the quantity of some ingredients).

Bon Appetite! 🙂

Praline Powder preparation steps

Prepared pastry cream and chocolate ganache

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.