Archive for November, 2013

Speculaas

November 26, 2013

 

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December is almost upon us, which means that for us folks here in the low lands Sinterklaas is getting ready to visit all the good children on the night of the 5th of December. Sinterklaas was always such a joyous occasion for me when I was a kid – something we started looking forward to starting late October, early November even. It’s hard to miss all the excitement, supermarkets start stocking up on Sinterklaas treats as early as September nowadays. Typical Sinterklaas treats here include marzipan, clementines, chocolate (of course, we are in Belgium, after all) and speculaas!

Speculaas is a spiced, crispy biscuit that gets it’s flavor from the unique mix of spice (that includes cinnamon and ginger) that’s used. It’s a really yummy treat, and people here love it! There’s been a boom of speculaas inspired treats the last couple of years. The biggest and most popular producer  Lotus has released a whole range of speculaas-y goodies, like chocolate covered morsels, ice cream and a boxes of speculaas crumble. My favorite is still the speculaas spread for on a sandwhich. Heaven! Even though the mass produced stuff is pretty darn good, there’s nothing quite like making your own, am I right?

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Special apple cake

November 20, 2013

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When I was doing my internship in a local bakery I got to help make some cakes one day. Not just any cake, though, one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. This beauty was built up out of a Breton shortbread base, a pound cake body, and apples and almond flakes on top. Heaven. Apple cake is one of those things that’s beautiful either way, you can’t go wrong with a good apple cake to be honest. I had this friend who once told me (and I could tell she was rather embarrassed about it) that she could only really bake apple cake. And I remember thinking that if you can make a good apple cake you really don’t need to know much more to be able to entertain people and offer them something to snack on with their coffee or tea.

This was my first attempt at recreating this lovely cake from the bakery. While it wasn’t perfect it was really good and scored points with my family! Next time I’m going to make the Breton shortbread base a little thicker, I’m going to substitute half the flour in the pound cake recipe with almond powder, and I’m going to leave bigger chunks of apple in my chunky apple sauce.

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Messing around with Royal Icing

November 15, 2013

 

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I love love love cookies. There’s something incredibly satisfying about baking them, you know? They’re usually fairly simple to make – and then you end up with such a big batch of lovely treats you can hand out (or keep all to yourself), and a house that smells all lovely and homely. To be fair, I’m usually more of non-fussy kind of cookie girl. The kind you just roll into tiny balls and then flatten a bit and there: nice and robust looking cookies. I do like cut-out cookies from time to time, though. I get really excited about cookie cutters in exciting shapes. It’s just that I usually don’t go through the trouble of icing them once they’re baked.

I’m not the biggest royal icing fan, I must say. I find it a bit overly-sweet and just very sugary. Which is quite the point, I guess, seeing how much sugar goes into it. But when I saw these pumpkin-pie lookalike cookies I got so excited, I knew I had to try them. The idea for the pumpkin pie cookies came from sweetsugarbelle. I got some tips on Royal Icing at the Bake at 350 baking blog, and you can find the cookie recipe I like to use here :)

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Runeberg Cakes

November 12, 2013

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In October I went to Finland to visit my close friend, Heleen. We spent time in Helsinki, Turku and Porvoo, and I had an absolutely wonderful time with her and our Swedish friend Jess, who took the boat out to hang out with us for a couple of days :) It was ice-cold, we walked around lots – but sought shelter for freezing fingers and tired feet more. We had yummy food, cooked in hostels, drank lots and lots of tea, and just enjoyed each other’s company :) it was great.

In Porvoo Heleen told me to get a Runeberg cake, because it was a local baked treat. And I’m happy I did! It was so yummy, and not really like anything we have here in Belgium. The cake was moist, drenched in a clear liquid (sugar water, I found later), it was nice and fragrant with spices like cinnamon and cardamon. It was extremely yummy. I decided to bake it myself a couple of weeks back – and while the cakes came out great, the pictures aren’t my best.

I’ve found that a set of below-average pictures can really bring my enthusiasm for blogging about my adventures in the kitchen down. I like to put out beautiful, awe-inspiring pictures that make people really excited about eating and baking. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out, but oh well :) maybe with my little break I’ll have some new visual inspiration for next time!

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