I sometimes have those days where I want to bake something – but I have absolutely no idea what. My pinterest boards are so full of wonderful pictures and amazing recipes that I want to try, that amidst all of it I just don’t know what to choose. Yesterday was one of those days: I just didn’t know. But I wanted to bake something. So instead of choosing something from all the recipes I’ve put aside to try one day – I went and looked for another recipe. Typical. I ended up searching for and finding a strawberry layer cake recipe with orange zest and vanilla that sounded divine. Since strawberries are the food of spring – even though sometimes it looks more like autumn that spring in Belgium, these days – I thought: yes. This’ll be the one.
I have a test at the end of June. We have to make a range of hard and soft buns, a Bavarian cream tart, and a mousse tart; two baker’s choice items, and puff pastry. A range of miniature puff pastry items. I decided to test some puff pastry baking first – it’s not regular puff pastry, but a dough with yeast in it – so sadly enough to choices are kind of limited. But I’m going to try to make the most of it, and get some original things baking. I’m not a big fan of Danish Pastry and sweet puff pastry, so I want to try to change things up and be original.
I like what I tried this week – the croissants came out lovely, I think. And I made some cinnamon swirls. I’ll probably make some pizza-swirls too, and I’ll try some other things. This was just a first try – there’ll be more soon! I’ll also be posting recipes and pictures of the other things I have to make for the test, so I’m hoping that I’ll be posting a lot more soon.
The inevitable happened a couple of weeks ago. My brother came up to me with a long-suffering: “You have to get rid of some of your tea.” My brother is my younger brother, okay? He isn’t the boss of me, and I don’t take orders from anyone. But I guess that in this case he was sort of right. I did have way too much tea. Three drawers full – and then some boxes scattered all over the kitchen. So last weekend I started the painful exercise of going through my tea and deciding which ones I could maybe part with.
Now the thing about me – if that hadn’t already been very clear from that first picture – is that I really like tea. I really really like it. The problem, however, is that I usually stick to two or three different kinds (regular English Breakfast, lemon tea and rosehip) while I have dozens of different kinds. It’s not that I don’t like all the other kinds, it’s just that it’s quick and easy to use a tea bag - and it’s got something to do with comfort as well, I think. No matter how yummy the other kinds are, the regular or lemon teas just bring me a lot of comfort in a mug.
I have very special and precious memories of some of these teas, though. Which always makes it even harder to try to down-size. The one in the picture above with the candied maple-leafs I got from a friend in Canada. I also have some Finnish teas sent to me by friends, and more tea from another Canadian friend. There’s little things in life that are more awesome than getting tea from all over the world. (That up there is my cat, by the way. His name is Flynn and all the different smells and scents absolutely fascinated him.)
I reorganized like this: I got rid of a lot of the big boxes some of the tea came in and, instead, put it the numerous tea-tins I’ve bought over the years. I have a matching red set of tea-containers from Sweden, and green one that’s got Teabags – unless something else; in which case that on it. Got that one in Camden (of course!) I mixed and matched different tea bags in the red container – which I from now on will present when guests ask for tea and then inquire: what kinds do you have? The green tin now houses my green tea. See – there’s a system in there. I also put aside tea to give away – because I couldn’t throw it away even if I tried. So if you’re one of the lucky ones who gets a container filled with tea for your next birthday: you’re welcome.
I was able to go from three-drawers-and-then-some to two :) and I’m extremely pleased. I celebrated by getting box of lipton’s new flavor Blueberry Muffin the next day.
I apparently don’t have any restraint.
I can only promise that I’ll try not to use the phrase this shit is bananas. I can only try as I am only human. ‘Cause in all honesty, this banana bread is really, really, really good. It’s moist, and sweet but not-too-sweet, and what can I say? I just really love the taste and texture of bananas. I made this cake for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I was in love. At the time I completely forgot to take pictures (as in I kept postponing until there was only half a cake left and it had definitely seen better days.) Luckily my brother’s best friend is a bit in love with this cake as well so he brought over some bananas yesterday. ‘Cause he is very subtle about these things.
A couple of weeks ago my parents surprised me with Leila Lindholm’s beautiful book One More Slice. I first saw this (Swedish) cookbook when I was visiting my friend Jessica, in Sweden. I’m really happy that the book has since been translated into English and Dutch. It’s a really gorgeous book, with lots of beautiful pictures and awesome looking recipes. The first thing I baked out of her book were bagels! It was my first time making bagels, and I must say it was a complete success!
I made this cake for the first time last December. While it tasted really really amazing, I forgot to take some at least semi-decent pictures so I’m afraid I wasn’t really able to sell the recipe. So let me try again. This is a gooey brown butter cake with apples. It’s made with brown butter and apples. And it’s gooey. It’s truly one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. And I hope these pictures do the recipe a little more justice!
Find the recipe here; and I hope you like this gooey mess as much as I do!
This is the best chocolate mousse out there. No, seriously. You don’t understand how good it is. We made this white chocolate mousse in school and I basically spent the whole day just eating it. I just shamelessly scooped it up (with my fingers) bit by bit and. Kept. Eating it. It’s a miracle there was enough left to make a chocolate mousse pie with (if that sounds like the best thing in the world then that’s because it was the best thing in the world) and there was enough left that I got to take it home with me. Where I continued to eat it. With a spoon this time – a table spoon.
This is a recipe for white chocolate mousse – but I decided to try it with dark chocolate as well. There’s no sugar in the recipe (because white chocolate is sweet enough) and it worked out for the dark chocolate as well – though it is a lot less sweet. I decided to serve them like this, in a sort of crazy combo mix thing, and it was a real hit :) Also, BONUS: no raw eggs in this chocolate mousse recipe! (Yuck, raw eggs.)
Ricotta pie. It’s kind of like cheesecake, but with ricotta cheese instead of cream cheese. I must admit that the only reason I made this was because my mom came home with a really big container of ricotta cheese – and when life give you lemons, you make lemonade. So when your mom gives you ricotta you bake a pie, or something. That being said, this cherry and ricotta combo was definitely worth the try, even though I’m still more of a fan of the cream cheese cheese-cakes. Still nice though!
There’s some lemon-zest in the pie crust, which gave it some zing – and the ricotta (when baked) came out really mellow and just yummy with a great texture. (This recipe comes from the Foodies special magazine, from 2011!)
I went to bed last night with every intention of sleeping in today. After waking up at 5.00 AM on Friday (to work a 10-hour shift), and then at 4.00 AM on Saturday (for an 8-hour shirt) I thought I quite deserved to sleep in. This morning I woke up at 9 o’clock though, completely unable to fall back asleep because I’d gotten myself so excited over the thought of baking today. Baking as in bread-baking. I was going to make hamburger buns and semla and it was going to be wonderful – and the excitement proved a bit too much.
It ended up not being as amazing as my sleep-fogged mind had hoped this morning. I couldn’t find my trusty semla recipe. Disaster. I had only made the semla once before, but it had been yummy and perfect and the thought of putting my trust in another recipe wasn’t very appealing. I went around searching on the internet and found about half a dozen different recipes (a lot of which were in Swedish – thank you google translator.) But some days it’s just not meant to be and the Swedish treats turned into quite the disaster…
The bun was tough and over-baked. And on top of that we didn’t have any real whipping cream, and trying to turn the culinary cream into whipped cream wasn’t a really successful endeavor. But when at first you don’t succeed…
I ended up finding my original recipe right after throwing these in the garbage… So I guess I’ll be trying again tomorrow! If they turn out as good as they did last year there’ll be a recipe post :) The hamburger buns are in the oven now. Let’s hope at least one thing works out okay today!