Cocoa sponge cake

A sponge cake is usually a very easy desert to do. My mother used to do it very often in my childhood. Last week I was asking myself what snack to give to my daughter. Sponge cake was the right answer. My daughter didn't know exactly what this was so she was a bit reluctant to the idea. But when I made it, the cake disappeared in one day and my daughter requested me to make more. My son also got really fond of the cake as well. A real battle between them about who has the biggest slice. I had then no chance than to bake the cake a second time this week.
When I am baking for kids, sugar is at low quantities between ingredients. This recipe is for a large cake and the sugar is not predominant for the taste. I like it like this and my children did not complain at all about not being enough sweet. Otherwise, if you like very sweet cakes you can even increase the quantity up to 400g of sugar instead of 150g.
This cake is easy to make but can be even more simplified. I made 4 layers with different shades by adding gradually one teaspoon of cocoa powder in the remaining batter. It can be done with just 2 layers (one with and one without cocoa). At the limit, cocoa powder can be considered optional but in this case you obtain a simple yellow sponge cake. I like however that my cakes looks nice also not just taste well.

So here it is ...

Rye spelt sourdough bread

Some people like to find a good recipe and stick to it. I also try to find good recipes but I am always tempted to change little things to test other versions as well. The possibility to change your recipes of breads are practically unlimited. Even if you use the exact same quantities there will be always something different in the home baking unless you use a perfectly controlled environment. Days differs as temperature, flours differs from year to year even for the same source. But this is what makes for me bread cooking fun: you know what you are up to but you never know what you'll get exactly.

Country sandwich bread

Being summer, you should expect higher temperatures. During a heat wave, even in Belgium the temperature can reach 20ºC during the night. When this happens, you know that your retarded bread overnight will be ready sooner than expected. It happened to me to let the dough outside overnight and find it back in the morning raised up to the lid. To avoid this, you can put the dough in the fridge. Usually, the fridge keeps a constant temperature of 4º to 8ºC. If not, be prepared to bake your bread earlier the next day.
This was exactly the case with this bread. In the morning I had to quickly cut the dough and shape it. By 11 AM, it was ready for baking.

Spelt sourdough bread with sunflower seeds

Simple breads are not low quality breads. When it comes to bread, simple means easy, not cheap or less tasty. On the contrary, using just one or maximum 2 flour types specialize the taste of the bread. The mixture of spelt with white wheat flour is for sure an old good match that makes your mind travel back through time to the country side.

Cooked in a pan simplifies the bakers process, although without, would look much more interesting.
No matter the shape, the taste is the same, so let's try it.

Lemon tartelettes with meringue

My weakness for lemon tarts is well known. This combination of sour and sweet of the lemon custard simply drives me crazy. If I add another great weakness that I have for meringues it is very hard for me to resist in front of such a tart.

Although this tartelettes requires 3 steps to do them, eating them is like in an instant. It takes a bit of time and work to prepare them but every bite is well deserved.

Poppy seeds muffins

I often enter in fresh fast food restaurants to grab a quick lunch. While queuing to pay my food I watch the deserts exposed strategically just in front of me. They look fantastic, like fresh harvested mushrooms. Many times I wonder how do they make them to look so perfect and so beautiful? Regardless the impressive look and the first impuls to put one on my tray, I pay my food without picking any of them. The reason is evident ... I can do better myself while knowing exactly what's inside.

Mines, they may not look like a "star" but they look pleasantly and decent. Above all, they are homemade with great passion and pleasure. They are exactly the kind of deserts I would give to my children without having second thoughts. I also have the great satisfaction of controlling the amount of sugar inside.

Doing them is another story. Making deserts with my daughter is one of the things I really enjoy. She is so actively involved in measuring correctly the ingredients and mix them all (or one after another) and I do not want to lose these great moments spent together with my daughter. For her is a game, but for me, as an adult, sharing all the tricks and experiences with her is like creating history. I, myself, do remember such moments from my childhood when I was doing cakes with my mother and those moments are kept very dear to me. Now it's my time to create sweet memories for my own daughter.

Therefore, is there a reason for me to buy muffins from a shop?

Almond waffles

It is not the first time that I make this recipe. I made a variation with chocolate here. However, I think that this time I enjoy them the most. Without the addition of chocolate you get the chance to taste the pure basic dough. Surprisingly, they really made an outstanding impression.
To give them a specific note, I added some pearl sugar that I found lost in my pantry on a bottom of a paper box. The crunchy and caramelized spots created by the pearl sugar after baking where the cherries of this cake.
I have not appreciated them that much in the beginning but when my kids asked for a 3rd portion I ate a full one myself so I can distinguish what makes them like them so much. They are soft, they almost melt into your mouth and the aroma of almond combined with vanilla makes them special.

The simplest sourdough bread

You may try and taste different recipes of breads but going back to the simplest one gives an incredible feeling of satisfaction. In the end, the basic ingredients: flour, water and salt is all you need. Sourdough is made only from flour and water. The gluten addition is optional just to improve the proteins of the flour. To the limit, if you prefer not to use salt for the bread, you end up having a bread that is made of only 2 ingredients. Isn't it amazing that you could achieve to do a bread with with only 2 ingredients?
But for my taste, salt is a must be inside bread. You can put up to 2% of salt inside. I usually chose to put less, somewhere around 1%.
By choosing different types of flours you enrich the taste. But this doesn't mean that going to one single, basic wheat flour won't lead you to a great result. And here is the proof.

Sandwich vermont bread with sesame seeds

The recipes you like leave a strong footprint in your mind. For me, the Vermont sourdough bread is a reference recipe. Its taste and its texture left deep pleasant memories and from time to time I like to try different versions of it. For this time, I needed a sandwich bread to be able to easily fit it in the toaster. But basically, the recipe is almost the same. The addition of sesame seeds distinguish this bread form other versions I made and always the taste and texture do not disappoint me.

Flax seed sourdough sandwich bread

I have tried this recipe in many different ways. Every time I've got an excellent result and it is difficult to say which one was the best. I've tried to bake it in a conventional oven, I've tried to replace the seeds with sesame or chia but all the times I chose the sandwich shape just for practical reasons. With the wood fired oven you do not have to much control over the temperature once the loaves are inside. I tend to get the breads a bit overcooked when using the natural fire, as it was the case for this one.
When changing the seeds I do not find a big striking difference between the versions related to taste. So, feel free to use your preferred kind of seeds.

Manitoba sourdough bread

Manitoba four is well known for its high protein content. This means more gluten, so a higher chance to have a beautifully risen bread. When using this type of flour in your bread no extra addition of gluten is necessary. When baked, the crumb I find it whiter than classical wheat flour.
Here it is a simple recipe where the Manitoba flour is used exclusively. If you decide to stay on an evening late, you can follow the timing that I used. Or, you can simply put the dough overnight in a cooler place.

Provence sourdough bread

Putting herbs into my bread is not a new experience for me. I have tried different types of aromatic herbs to see how they fit with the taste of bread. In all cases, these breads bring something specific. They are not just simple breads, they are specialized breads with a specific aroma. The aroma is super strong. Each time I try to do a herbal bread it makes me remember that it does not fit with all kind of food. For example, spreading just some butter on a a slice works great, and sprinkling some salt over it makes it perfect. However, if on top of the butter you add some jam, things starts to taste weirdly. You might like it but for me, this is not a perfect match.
More, Herbes de Provence contains strongly aromatic herbs. Savory foods are simply complemented by this bread.
In particular, for this recipe, I made a visit to an organic shop and I have filled my pantry with some organic flours. Special flours, special aroma... the direction was clear for me to pick this incredible combination of herbs. As again I targeted the sandwich shape of the bread, using bread pans was the chosen option.
This bread is really special, you love it or you hate it. On top of the taste, this bread in particular brings me back amazing memories from Provence, so you can imagine that I appreciated a lot this bread.
Now lets see how to do it...

"C'est MOI qui l'ai fait" biscuits

I have this biscuit stamp with the text "C'est MOI qui l'ai fait" for years. My daughter used to play with it for play-doh when she was small. My son loves to dismantle it while playing with it. But one day, my daughter told me: "Mommy, we have never made biscuits with this".  It was clear to me then that its time has arrived.

One of the reason I cook at home is that I can control what I put inside. For biscuits (and generally sweets) the ingredient I take care the most is sugar. And yes, I usually cut it in half at least. For this recipe, the original one requested 300g. Oh no... far from me the idea that I would put this amount of sugar in biscuits that I offer to my kids. 75g was more than enough. And believe me, after tasting them I would not put not even one single gram more. The are perfect as they are. But if you prefer it sweeter, feel free to put more. The cost of eating too much sugar is too high for me to pay it with my family's health.

I have to make a confession:"C'est MOI qui l'ai fait" is not true. This is the first recipe on my blog that I didn't do it myself. My daughter did it. You can understand that I am so proud of her. I only helped in cleaning the dishes and giving some guidelines. I was not expecting this moment to arrive so soon but it was her desire to do them by herself. Would it be something genetic? Hmmm... we'll see in time.

Let's talk a bit about the results. These biscuits are simply melting in your mouth. They do not make so many crumbs as others, so I am happy to not run to clean after my kids when they steal one piece from the box. This is the kind of biscuits that I would definitely enjoy near an unsweetened cup of tea.  It is the bite that make you close your eyes, focus on the bite and say with your lips closed "Mhmhmhmmmmm". Now I dream on ... they are not meant for me... but for my kids :)
Do you want to taste them as well? Sorry guys, I do not sell. But here is the recipe... go to the kitchen and you can try it yourself.

Homemade alum roll-on deodorant

One day I received a roll-on deodorant from my good friend who is doing all her cosmetics home-made. Using it was not any different from an usual one bought from a supermarket. Maybe the scent was more intense although that was not a bad thing. Efficiency was however great.
In the meantime I have tried my own recipes, but not on roll-on. I have tried a solid one based on sodium bicarbonate that work fine for 12 hours with only the drawback that was staining the clothes. It was washable but it wasn't very appealing during the day to wear it.
Of course I have remembered my good old friend and put my hand on the phone. She provided me this recipe, I've tried it and used it for some weeks already and I can only say that this is the ONE. The one that I a going to do and use from now on. I'll never again be back on bought deodorants from supermarkets and that is a decision I made long time ago. Of course there are alternatives that I also appreciated over time, like buying the ones proposed in bio shops or alum stones but they are expensive.
I remember my first impression when I have seen the recipe: where on Earth I am going to find these ingredients? They are not very common and you can find them here in Belgium mainly in specialized shops for DIY cosmetics. Internationally, I found some interesting online shops that can help.
Let's take them one by one and see what these weird ingredients are for.
The xanthan gum is a thickener. That gives a jelly texture to the deodorant.
The alum powder fights against multiplication of bacteria so also the unpleasant smell. It is 100% natural and can be used also by people with allergic reactions or sensitive skin.
The sage essential oil has multiple roles. It serves as a preservative, it protects against microbes and it provides a lovely aroma.
The mint essential oil comes with antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.
The cosgard is only used for preservation. This ingredient allows your deodorant to be kept for 3 months without other unwanted bacteria to be developed.

Now that we understand why these ingredients are crucial for our recipe, just have a look on the directions bellow and ...  That's it! You have your own home-made deodorant!

Cocoa cake

This recipe has its roots in my childhood and I can call it THE CAKE. Almost for every anniversary or birthday, my mother was making a variation of this cake. I have deeply in my mind the moist texture of the cake in rum syrup and the chocolate taste of the filling. The nuts on the top were crunchy and adding an extra taste. Later, when I grew up, I was kind of bored of the same old cake. Since then, I have tried and loved other recipes but none of them reached the popularity of this cake and it was like something was missing.
Recently, of course with the occasion of an anniversary, the memories of that cake were suddenly invading my mind. I put my hand on the phone and called my mother. She recalled of course the famous cake but she was not recalling the recipe. I was astonished. That cake recipe hat was so popular and done dozens of times, my mother didn't know it by heart. It is probably the thinking of a child considering her mother as a superhero. Or it was just that when the cake was not so regularly done the recipe was forgotten. Nevertheless, she recalled very well her red notebook that was her bible in the kitchen and she has found back the recipe for me.
I did the recipe and found that was not at all the most simple I've seen but not that complicated either. Doing the recipe was like returning those years of my childhood. I felt something like a fear in doing it. I was afraid that doing it and tasting it afterwards could have destroy my sweet memories in case it was not the same. I had to follow the recipe line by line, gram by gram to be sure I was getting the same as my mother's.
The first occasion of this cake was the name day of my husband when we were expecting some friends to come over. Another reason why my cake couldn't have failed. Since then, I have redone this cake for the New Year. In both cases, although the cake was successful, I have found that the taste was not as I remembered. The power of memories is impressive. I can bet that if it would be possible to taste back the cake my mother was doing during my childhood it would taste the same as mine. But in my mind, the taste was much stronger then it really was. However, it is impressive that with just a bite of cake you travel through time and relive a moment of your childhood.

Caramelized reversed apple cake

In the last 3 weeks my daughter has repeated me a wish: "I want an apple cake!". The lack of time has delayed my duty to comply with my daughter's wish but I couldn't postpone it anymore so this was the day.
I've tried many recipes of apple cakes, that were more fancy and elaborated and this time I wanted the most simplest (and delicious) as possible.
As I was also having some guests, the cake should also have been big enough for all of us. I then took the biggest pan I have found, removed the handle so it could fit in the oven and started to prepare it. My daughter was helping me with the mix of ingredients and I was preparing the apples. With four hands, the cake was prepared in almost no time.
Then we cooked it, let it cool and reversed it on a big plate.
When I first saw it reversed I didn't dare to put the knife in it. It was like a huge sweet flower in the middle of my kitchen table. Clearly the cutting moment had arrived and I was wondering if there would remain at least one piece to make a photo of it. So, I had to sneak and make a photo while it was not yet finished.
It arrived that my daughter loved the cake so much that she asked a piece of it every day at school. For me and my husband, we had only enjoyed one small piece as the rest was gone or reserved :).

This is that kind of recipe that you might end up doing it over and over again and learn the recipe by heart as it is simple and extremely tasty.

Serve it with some whipped cream and it becomes a madness.

Country spelt sourdough bread

I made this recipe dozens of times and I feel like doing it over and over again. I tried different versions of it but finally I stayed to this one. It grows perfectly every time, both in the wood fired oven and in a conventional oven. I also used baking pans when I wanted a perfectly squared shape to use for example for sandwiches. Every time, this recipe didn't let me down.
The most impressive part of this bread is the taste and its texture. When eating a bite feels like traveling back in time, a hundred years ago, to a dinner in the country side.

I find this recipe also to be very flexible. I prefer the option to make the first fermentation overnight. When it is not very cold, I let the dough outside the house in a closed bowl. If there is freezing outside, I put the dough it in the pantry where I have a constant temperature of 10-11ºC in the cold winter days.

I usually prepare the dough on Saturday evening, and on the next morning when I wake up, I check how much it has raised. Also the initial temperature of the ingredients plays a little role in how raised the dough is and not only the temperature during the night.

After the final fermentation, I arrive to bake this bread as early as 12 PM the next day or even later at 5pm. It mainly depends on the room temperature where the dough is let to raise. This also gives you flexibility in your day schedule so you can fit the bread making into your life not the opposite.