Birthday and Saint’s day cakes

It is a long time since we last published a post on cooking or food. Nevertheless we try to keep planning our meals weekly (see our current or older meal plans) as it helps us to keep a budget and stay organized. When coming home tired from work, it always helps to know what to cook. Otherwise we may just end with a quick pasta or salad. They are good choices but after some days the menu lacks variety. We always like to try a new recipe and from time to time we also have some special treats.
Today I will post the last two cakes we made: the first one was a birthday cake and the other one was baked to celebrate a saint’s day. They resemble each other and that is because when we ask our daughter about her cake preferences, the answer is now: “A strawberry cake”. So we just make modifications of the same theme:-)

For the birthday we had to have an Italian treat: a crostata. It is by far my husband’s favorite and go-to cake. The crostata consists of a pastry base (pasta frolla) and a top layer of jam or in this case of pastry cream (crema pasticcera). For the recipe of the pasta frolla I had no choice but to follow Artusi’s book. My husband would not have approved it otherwise ;-). This is an Italian book first published in 1891 (it is also available in english), and full of nice recipes. They are not very precise concerning the quantities needed and sometimes quite old-fashioned terms are used, but with a bit of practice the results are worthwhile. He has three slightly different versions for this crostata dough. If you google Artusi&crostata you will find them all. One of them is used here, or you can also follow the link of one of our posts. This is the recipe I used for the pastry cream. On top we just arranged some strawberries and blueberries.

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For the second cake we used the recipe of sablé breton galette from the book “Around my french table”. Then we put a thin layer of strawberry jam followed by a layer of whipped cream. Sara decided to make a sun with the berries, and it looked quite nice at the end. The smaller strawberries in the middle are from a couple of plants we have at the window sill. They are delicious but scarce :-).
We were actually not so fond of the biscuit layer. It was rather hard. But we baked thinner and the day before, which may count for this extra hardness. Anyway everyone enjoyed it!

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Christmas baking

This year we do not have the time to do a big baking action, but from time to time we do bake some Christmas cookies. Andrea is exploring old recipes, from the book of Artusi. For Pablo’s Nikolausfeier he made these Galletti(2). Really nice and very buttery (Artusi is Artusi!). But I rather prefer the Galletti(1) with aniseed, as I love that flavor.
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As we cannot go so easily to K-lina’s party for Santa Lucia, I decided to make myself the famous Lusse Kata. I followed the recipe posted by GreenKitchenStories. It is just a great recipe, with no sugar, sweetened with maple syrup. I used soy yogurt to make it casein free, and reduced the saffron to half a gram. It was more than enough and already makes these buns quite a luxury. If not trying to make it naturally-sweetened and vegan or casein free, this recipe is probably a more traditional version. But I can assure you that you won’t miss the sugar nor the milk in these nice buns.
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These sweet ravioli filled with marzipan are based again on one of Artusi’s recipes. The dough is like the one for the crostata. Very nice though maybe a tad too sweet.
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Apfelstrudel

Apfelstrudel is for me the symbol of German, or better Austrian, bakery. Legends about the art of making the dough so thin that one can clearly see through, (enough to read a newspaper) kept us from the challenge of baking it. But, eventually we did it. Who knows, maybe it was not perfect, but fun to make it and extremely tasty. The recipe is also so flexible, you can fill the roll with whatever you like (certainly breaking all traditional rules, but one should dare), and simply …enjoy!

FFwD: Eclairs

During this eastern holidays we have been doing quite a lot of cooking, and it was the right time to catch up with a very promising recipe of FFwD: vanilla eclairs (pepitos de crema pastelera). How to describe them? Heavenly. They are soooo good and quite easy to make too. The dough is quite strange as it is cooked before (like when preparing a béchamel), and then baked. We made both long stripes of dough for the éclairs and thick dots for profiteroles.

Look what a nice color they have after baking (and without eggwash!):

We had for dinner the profiteroles with creamy cheese (I added very little sugar to the dough, so they could make also some nice savory treats). Our daughter loved them!

And the next day we made the vanilla pastry cream, and some unsweetened dark chocolate glaze. The glaze was too strong on its own but with the sweet pastry cream it was just perfect.

FFwD: Break-up

The last recipe for March in FFwD (well, the one we waited longer to make), was a great one: Butter break-ups or a slightly salty very rich (read buttery) giant cookie to share with the ones you love. I cut a bit on the salt as I don’t like it so much in sweet treats, and it was just perfect. I also substituted the egg wash with milk, as I usually do. Remember those metal boxes full of danish butter cookies?? The break-ups come very close to them. Really a keeper, just not as a regular treat because of all the butter, but great from time to time and quick and easy.