The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

hanseata's blog

  • Pin It
hanseata's picture
hanseata

There's no doubt about it - Pflaumenkuchen (German Plum Cake) is my birthday cake. In the beginning of September the first prune plums show up on the market just in time for my birthday.

My birthday party was always arranged by my grandmother, my Omi, who invested all her love and imagination in coming up with games and other entertainment for me and my friends. She definitely was my role model on how to make a child's birthday party a huge success!

"Hide-and-Seek" (in the dark), "Choose-the-Right-Candy" ( with nail biting suspense) , "Say-Whom-You-Love" (good for many giggles) and "Unwrap-the-Chocolate" (with hat and mittens, fork and knife!) were some of the games that raised excitement and noise levels to heights that called for quiet intervals of soap bubble blowing, or story telling, to calm down all the boisterous little guests.

Of course my grandmother also baked my birthday cake, a large sheet brimming full of prune plums resting on a bed of sweet yeast dough, generously sprinkled with almonds and cinnamon sugar. I loved that cake, and could eat a lot of it (though not quite as much as on those memorable occasions when my cousin Thomas and I would compete at wolfing down Omi's famous yeast dumplings!).

Nowadays, if I don't have to entertain a horde of hungry cake monsters, I bake a smaller plum cake version, either with a short or a streusel crust, in a springform pan. They taste as good as the large yeasted cake - especially with Gifford's award winning vanilla ice cream...


 



There are hundreds of German plum cake recipes, this cake here is easy to make and tastes best slightly warm, with vanilla ice cream.


You'll find the recipe here: http://hanseata.blogspot.com/2010/09/german-plum-cake-pflaumenkuchen.html


 

hanseata's picture
hanseata


Fall is the time of the year when Alsatians and wine loving Germans think: "Zwiebelkuchen"! For this mellow sweet onion pastry is the perfect companion to new wine.

If you travel in fall through the wine growing areas left and right of the Rhine, you will find inns, restaurants and many vinyards offering sparkling new wine (Federweisser). They often serve it together with freshly baked Zwiebelkuchen (Onion Tarte) or, an equally tasty variation, Porreekuchen (Leek Tarte).

But beware - Onion Tarte is an aider and abetter of that seemingly feathery light youngster, helping it go down so smoothly, that you are tempted to drink it like lemonade! When you wake up the next morning you realize why Federweisser is also called: "Sauser" (Buzzer) - there's something buzzing in your stomach and your head is spinning...


You find the recipe for Zwiebelkuchen or Leek Tarte here: http://hanseata.blogspot.com/2010/09/zwiebelkuchen-onion-or-leek-tarte.html


  Leek Tarte

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Coming home from Portland late yesterday evening I had no time to make any pre-doughs for today's baking. So everything was stretched and folded, except for my usual Pain a l'Ancienne dough. No kitchen octopuses to battle this time, the doughs behaved and didn't try to take over the countertop. This morning I got an early start with my baking and was done just in time to Meet The Press.



Tyrolean Pumpkin Seed Mini Breads



 



These are real breads, not rolls, and are made with spelt, rye and Italian 00 flour - and, of course, lots of toasted pumpkin seeds.


 


 



Pain a l'Ancienne with Oat Flour (sorry, no crumb shot, these were all sold)


 



And since the oven was still warm, I finally fullfilled my NYB testing duties: Lace Cookies. They look as nice as they tasted.


 


 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I'm baking my own version of Peter Reinhart's Pain a l'Ancienne (from the BBA) regularly for three years now, it is a hot seller at our local natural food store. Since I wanted my bread to be a little healthier than 100% white, I substitute 100 g of the bread flour with whole grain flour, either rye, whole wheat, oat, spelt, corn or buckwheat. I also add a little sourdough just for the taste, and found the right baking technique for my oven. Thanks to DonD's - and others from TFL - advice to leave the breads for 5 minutes in the switched-off oven with the door slightly ajar, the crust comes out perfect now - and stays crisp for several hours.


After trying DonD's version of Pain aux Cereales (and loving it) I thought of doing something similar with my organic 7-grain mix (rye-, wheat-, barley chops, cracked corn and oat, millet and flaxseed), but in a simpler way that would better fit my time schedule, to be able to sell it. So yesterday morning I made a soaker from 100g multigrain mix and 100 g water. In the evening I mixed it with all the other ingredients and placed the bowl in the fridge overnight. I took the nicely risen dough out this morning at 4:00 am to de-chill and rise somewhat more. Three and a half hour later, with the Vollkornbrot already in the oven (I start with the breads that bake at a lower temperature), I divided the dough, placed the pieces in perforated baguette pans and let them proof for another 1/2 hour more until the rye breads were done and the oven reheated to 550 F.


I bake my Pains a l'Ancienne for 9 minutes, with steam, then rotate them, remove the steam pan, and continue baking for another 8 minutes, keeping the breads 5 minutes longer in the switched-off oven with the door ajar, before they are cooled on a rack. My oven is very well insulated (no steam escaping unless I open the door) and I bake with convection (fan-assisted, not "real"), since I bake on two shelves.


This is the result:





This one we kept and had for lunch, the others are sold. My husband's comment: "This is the best Pain a l'Ancienne you ever made".


 


 


 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

There are happy testing days and there are less happy ones. This was definitely one of the latter! I decided to use the mandolin my husband bought a while ago. I never trusted that thing and usually take the box grater. But having to grate a lot of potatoes I didn't listen to my better instincts, put the mandolin together and started with the first potato. When the potato was two thirds grated the tool to hold it wouldn't let me chop off any more. I didn't want to end up with one third of the potatoes ungrated - and the other two thirds not enough for the recipe.


So I took the potato in my hand and - nearly chopped off the tip of my finger. Hands, as most valuable human tools, are well supplied with blood, and my index finger was living proof of it. I yelled for my husband and sucked my poor finger to keep it from dripping all over the place while he was looking for the Band-Aid (fortunately we have an emergency supply in a kitchen drawer).


When I was bandaged, my husband took over with some friendly comments about clumsy people who don't know how to work with something as simple as a mandolin. OUCH - there was another victim of the nasty thing, this time with a neatly delivered double cut. Our kitchen sink looked like a butcher's bowl when I finished wrapping Band-Aids around my husband's thumb.


Mixing the potato shreds that had nearly cost the lives of two innocent people with the other ingredients I started wondering whether there was something wrong with the recipe. How should a mixture rise with so little flour and so much vegetable mass in it? And, of course, it didn't. It sat there, in its baking pan, and did nothing but slowly oozing more onion and potato juice, so that it got wetter and wetter.


With deep misgivings I put it into the oven (what good is steaming something so wet, anyway?). It came out looking just like a gratin, nice, crisp and brown on top. But the mass under the crust was a disappointment, cooked potatoes without any special taste but a lot of salt.


The sacrifice of two healthy fingertips on the altar of culinary experiment had been in vain....


 


 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

In this hot summer I find myself less eager to crank up the heat in our oven - thereby turning our kitchen into a sauna - my mind is more on something cool, tangy and refreshing. North German and Danish traditional cuisine has a treat just for this season: Rote Gruetze or Roede Groede (it's Danish name). Literally translated the name means "red gruel". That may not sound very enticing, but it's an old fashioned dish with an old fashioned name and soooo good!!!


My recipe is a modern version, using vanilla pudding powder instead of starch or tapioca, it's fast and easy to prepare. Enjoy it with cream, vanilla sauce or, even better, vanilla ice cream.


http://hanseata.blogspot.com/2010/07/rote-gruetze-red-berry-dessert_26.html


hanseata's picture
hanseata

On Tuesday a horror scenario unfolded in my Bar Harbor kitchen. Preparing my breads for Wednesday's sale I made the fatal decision to give my doughs the stretch-and-fold treatment instead of just leaving them to the mixer. I had no idea what dark forces I unleashed!


Follow this link at your own risk:


http://hanseata.blogspot.com/2010/07/little-kitchen-of-horrors-or-tentacles.html



Pain de Campagne, one of the evil perpetrators - after his containment.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Today's baking was my (less sweetened) version of the German Many Seed Bread from "Whole Grain Baking". Instead of a soaker and a biga I used just the soaker with stretch & fold technique for the first time, adding some more water. The breads turned out really nice, I think it's an improvement.



Sorry, no crumb shot - these breads were for sale.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Sauna-like temperatures helped me hatch a scientific explanation for the mysterious connection between liquors and teen sneakers.


http://hanseata.blogspot.com/2010/07/liquors-and-sneakers-sprituosen-und.html


 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Baking a big batch of NYBakers' test Hermits left me with the question: what to do with the leftovers? There's only a limited amount of gingerbread cookies that two people can eat - especially if it's very hot outside and Christmas still far away. And there was this pretty, unopened bottle of Limoncello, sitting in my pantry since our spring holidays in Positano/Italy, home of gigantic lemons and wonderful pastry.


Since I have not mastered the art of making mille-feuille filled with lemon cream (yet) the next best thing cool I can think of is lemony cheesecake. Using a master cheesecake formula from "Fine Cooking" magazine as guide line, I combined Hermit leftovers and Limoncello in the first American cheesecake I ever made - and it was not at all dense and heavy, but nearly as light as my German Kaesekuchen, and tasted really "cool"!



Limoncello Cheesecake


Link to recipe: http://hanseata.blogspot.com/2010/07/limoncello-cheesecake.html


 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - hanseata's blog