Black forest cake

Happy New Year, 2020!

We start a new year, a new page in our life that I wish it would be better than any year before for everyone.
A new fresh year can only start with a remarkable cake. The Black Forest remembers me of the mountains from where the beautiful Danube springs. Danube remembers me of childhood, the big river that I used to cross over with a boat every summer to go to the seaside.
This is by far the tallest cake I ever made. Seven layers of sponge cake, cream and sour cherries. Chocolate decorations, topping with drops... it is also the most complex cake I made so far. Also very time consuming, I made it in stages in 3 days. But I do not regret any minute I spent for it. I learnt a lot. I did mistakes, sometimes I had to restart but finally I succeeded. The result was very satisfying but the road to it was much more accomplishing.
To start, the sponge cake was a success from the start. I wanted a small cake but tall. I had a 15cm pan and I filled it full. It raised higher in the oven and I managed to cut 7 layers from it. The recipe and instructions I used for it (see bellow) were very good with no surprise. While baking it I was nervous if it was not too small or not too high enough. Later, after putting the filling I was afraid to not be too high.
The first filling step was simple. Just whipping cream. No extra sugar. With sour cherries inside.
I made the sponge cake the evening before and the layered cake the next one. After constructing the cake, I left it in the fridge for the night. Whipping cream is very tricky as its structure is not that stable. For a tall cake, to insure that the next day I won't see a Pisa tower in my fridge I put a stainless steel straw just in the middle of the cake, that I removed before the final topping decoration.
The most challenging part was to make the decoration. I had in mind a splash. I tried as others with a balloon and it popped from the warm chocolate. The chocolate was all over the place, including my pull and trousers. Balloon was not an option then. I looked for a normal ball in my children toys. The size of a stress ball or a bit bigger. But how I was to remove the chocolate after? I used some film that I stretched very well over the ball. First try was a failure, too much chocolate and the drips were not visible. Second time, with less chocolate, ended up perfectly. Easy to remove from the ball and from the film after hardening.  With trees, was just a play... I had some left over chocolate from the splash and I wanted to draw something with it. Just perfect from the first try.
The next day, was the decoration day. First, I was not sure how the cream will hold to cover the cake on the side. I used the trick to put some mascarpone in it and worked great. It was just a bit difficult to pipe it out but it was a piece of cake to smooth it.
Second, and the most scaring part was the dripping. I was wondering about a lot of things: would the consistency of the topping be good to do the drops? would the cream melt while pouring the chocolate? Well, everything turned out to be just perfect. When the dripping stage was over, I felt confident to have a nice cake.
Now, once the photo was done, I cannot wait to cut it when the New Year has arrived.

Chocolate almond pear tart

I used to eat a lot of pears in my childhood. I remember those yellow juicy pears leaking on your hands when eaten. But somehow, when I think about tarts, apples comes first than pears into my mind. This time instead, pears are the main ingredient for this tart.
Remember to use pears that are not that soft otherwise it will be difficult to slice them nicely.
As a filling there is a secret ingredient and this one is the ground almond (or almond powder). I din't have almond powder so I had to grind it myself.
For decoration I played a bit with chocolate. I picked some strawberry leaves from my garden and painted them with chocolate on the textured side. After resting them in the fridge, I removed the strawberry leaves and wooow.... I had wonderful chocolate leaves. It was a bit tricky to remove the leaves as the chocolate was quickly melting on my hands and I had some broken but most of them were perfect to decorate my tart. Here it is....

Rosemary potato roses

It is amazing how normal dishes can look outstanding by just changing the styling. I baked potatoes so many times but slicing them and arranging them in rose shapes was something fun to do. The result was a tray of potato roses.
They can be served as a side dish instead of the classic squared gratin. They can be eaten as a muffin, with a spoon or in an original way (as my daughter did), petal by petal.

Daily buckwheat bread

When time is an issue, I make the simplest bread I can. This is exactly the best example of a bread that does not complicate my life. Whenever I can, I do all sorts of experiences with bread recipes, but sometimes I just need bread on the table the next day. Making simple breads doesn't mean reducing quality. It means reducing to the minimum the tasks you need to take to produce it. This is what I like about making bread: the complexity you can choose it, you can keep it simple and have your daily bread on the table or you can go to a more elaborated recipe and get outstanding breads.
This recipe is about a daily bread...

Blueberry bundt cake

Everytime I bake a bundt cake I recall the funny story of the bunDDDTTTT cake from the My Greek Fat Wedding movie. And yes, there is a hole in this cake :).
The variety of the bund cake tins was already impresive in the metalic form until the silicone versions appeared and extended the variety to an impressive level. When I saw this mold it was a wow moment for me. I saw also the mini versions of it and I was in love. Silicone entered our live in all domains but for cooking utensils it became a new era.
This was the first time to use them and I was wondering how I am gonna take the cakes out as they have curved shape on top. Luckily the recipe helped me as the cake reduced a bit in size when cooling. Taking it out was then a (one) piece of cake :)
Comparing to my metalic bundt tins these molds are way too small. Nevertheless, they look fantastic and the little ones fits perfectly in my kids snack boxes.

Mixed flour country bread

While outside is rainy and cold, I am not at all in the mood to bake my breads in the wood fired oven. However, I do bread every week, and for these kind of unpleasant days I simply bake my bread inside, in my conventional oven from the kitchen.
I have experimented to bake the 2 loaves of this bread in 2 cast iron pans, one on top of the other. Of course, I had to use their lids to capture the steam inside, so the 2 layered pans fit at the limit into my oven.
The result was not disappointing and gave me the desire to continue experimenting this type of baking.
As for the taste, it immediately send your mind to a forgotten farm somewhere in the country side. Texture of the crumb is perfect, with bigger and smaller wholes. Just perfect.
Now, please grab the chair, take a sit and enjoy my bread...

Apple roses

Making these apple roses was challenging but doing them was a lot of fun. I couldn't estimate exactly in the beginning how many would result from 500g of puff pastry, so I ended up doing a lot, more exactly about 40 pieces.
The not funny part was doing the puff pastry. It took a day to make the pastry so the roses were scheduled for the next day.
I've learnt a lot with this recipe. One of the thing was that, doing everything by yourself is very time consuming. Next time I would probably buy the puff pastry and do only half of the recipe.
Doing the roses was challenging and amazing in the same time. Finding the best position to place the apple slices on the dough strips followed a learning curve. In the end, I was happy with the result and the most difficult was to eat them without feeling sad to destroy a beautiful flower design.
However, it was an experience that I recommend to all as it brings a lot of satisfaction in the end, both visually and tasty.