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Persimmon kumquat tart

I was looking for some exotic winter tart and I had in mind to make something with persimmons. I love their subtle aroma and their sweet pulp. Being enough sweet, I felt the need to add something sour in the fruit puree and instead of using the classical lemon, I opted for another exotic fruit, kumquat. They go quite well together, making a sweet-sour fine taste.
When I planned for this recipe I was heaving in mind another way to do it. I wanted a baked tart shell and just one layer of fruit crust. How I ended up with this recipe was instead quite differently.
The initial baked crust was a total failure. It shrunk in the oven and was totally unusable. It was eaten later by my kids as biscuits. I then had to start all over again, but this time I went for a very simple version as time was not allowing me to redo the previous one.
The fruit tart was exactly the one I planned for. My only comment when tasting it was.... way too much butter. If I do this recipe again, butter quantity in the fruit crust will be clearly diminished.
To the initial planned tart I added a glaze just to get a nice look on top, but in the end I thing that this top layer added much more fruit flavor as the fruit curd itself.
The resulting cake was not bad at all. A bit heavier than I wished for due to the high quantity of butter but the taste was special.

Let's see what is inside...

Red velvet muffins

After the success of the Simple red velvet cake, I wanted to try the same recipe for muffins. The composition is very tricky when baked in a large pan as it may not rise evenly. But for muffins, this is not the case.

King cake

When I moved to Belgium it was the first time when I found out about the "Gallete des Rois" tradition. I found it as a nice tradition to celebrate every year on the 6th of January. If in the beginning I was just tasting it when brought by friends or colleagues, since I have kids I had to bake it as well :).
But what is exactly this cake? Well it is a very simple one, 2 layers of puff pastry with some almond cream between them. The cake comes also with 2 extra things: a crown (usually a gold paper one) and a small piese of porcelain that is hidden inside the cake.
The story with this cake is the following : the cake should be cut in as many slices as there are people around it. One of the kids, usually the youngest one, goes under the table and indicate to the person who distribute the slices to whom to give it. Everyone receive a piece and eat his/her slice carefully.  The little small porcelain of course is found in one of the slices, and the one who finds it in its slice becomes the King or the Queen and wears the crown for the rest of the day.
It took me a while to understand the secret of this cake. It is not about the taste of the cake, it is not about the way it looks, it is not about the game of luck but it is about bringing the family together around a fun tradition. It is also about feeling as important as a queen or a king for the day. Especially as a child.
My daughter asks me for this cake every year. This year I made the cake, she got the biggest part of it and of course she was rewarded with the little porcelain piece called "fève". But I was totally surprised when she asked for another cake. I thought she wanted to be the queen again but in fact she told me to skip the part in hiding the "feve" inside. I understood then that she liked the taste of the cake as much she was enjoying the game.
This is how I ended up doing a second king cake almost at the end of January.

As for the cake, it is not at all a big deal to make it unless you go for the adventure to make the puff pastry yourself. With the first trials I wanted to do everything by myself but it took way too long to make the pastry and at the time of enjoying the tradition I was too tired. Lately, I find it easier to buy the puff pastry, make the filling myself and quickly assembling it.

Cheese crackers

After the success of my Feta waffle crackers I looked for another version on which to improve two things: use more feta cheese and reduce the time for the preparation.
Using a waffle maker is time consuming and I thought changing the way of shaping them will drastically reduce the time. This time I choose to stretch the dough and cut it with a pasta waved cutter while cooking them all in the oven. Easy right? Well, moving each piece, brushing with egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds took a bit of time. In the end, when you compare the 2 options, yes, it takes you just a little less time than baking them with a waffle maker.
The second point was the addition of the feta cheese. This was indeed a very good idea. These crackers are more salty, they have more texture and the quantity of the feta cheese is just the right one.
You can serve these crackers as they are or you can dip them in a bit of creamy sauce. I prefer them just as they are.

Simple red velvet cake

When your daughter asks you to make a cake for her nameday you drop any other plans and you do it. Time to make it was limited, so I didn't adventure myself in making a fancy version but rather a simple one. She desired a doll cake, so I opted for a dome shaped cake, inside which I could easily slide a small doll.
I cooked the sponge (red velvet) cake the evening before. Somehow, due to its semi-spherical shape, the pan has fallen on a side in the oven during the baking, without me noticing it and I ended up with a weird shaped cake. My daughter was away for some activities for the evening and she had only seen the baked cake on her return.  She was completely disappointed to see a small dome cake with an unusual shape, not looking at all like a princess skirt. I, also went to sleep that night disappointed that I did not bake something at my daughter expectations for such an important occasion for her.
The next day I faced 2 options: bake another cake for the following day, or trust my experience that I could turn the ugly cake into a beautiful doll dress cake. I asked then my daughter about her preference. She went for the option to have the cake ready, as soon as possible. Due to lack of time, to my relief, this was also what I was hoping for her to chose. I had then the important task to make miracles with this cake.
First step was to cut the uneven side of the cake that my 2 kids devoured in almost one bite. In this way, I returned the dome cake back to its intended shape.
Next problem was to raise the cake with the filling, as the dome remained quite small. I cut the cake in 5 slices and filled the space between the slices with generous layers of whipped cream. Yes, just whipping cream, as there was no time for another type of cream. Whipping cream also on the outside but in a very fine layer as I was planning to cover the hole cake in sugar paste. From experience I know that sugar paste and whipping cream do not go along very well in keeping the shape for more than few hours.
Talking about the sugar paste, this was another challenge. I had 250g of white sugar paste in the pantry in a sealed package but when I grabbed it I discovered that it was almost dried and not enough to cover my cake. I even managed to break my rolling pin trying to stretch it. The only solution for this situation was to go to the shop and buy a good one.
The new fresh sugar paste, I stretched it very well and managed to cover the full cake. With the remaining part, I did a top for the doll dress and a lace for the bottom of the dress.
I didn't have the chance to photograph the doll cake before putting the knife in it but the remaining slices ended up in front of my camera.
It was quite an adventure with this cake that finally was successful. It was for sure one of the quickest festive cake I've made and the experience gained with it was definitely worth.
Needless to say that the final cake was exceeding my daughter expectation and the joy that I've seen in her eyes when I brought the cake on the table, filled me with a big satisfaction.