Rabarbara

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There is this own language every kid has. At the beginning nobody understands anything and the conversations between the child and the rest of the world is more a monologue than a dialogue. Sounds that no human being with a sense of language can recognize. It develops over time to words that sound familiar.. somehow. Eventually, these words are recognizable.. to the parents. For me this actually is quite a miracle. While everybody else just smiles, nods and looks confused, parents react to the incomprehensible syllables coming from their little ones. They even develop some sort of family-vocabulary that is only and exclusively understood by those, who spend 24 hours in the same house or at least visit often enough. Sooner or later though, all family members start to use a language understood even by the nice lady from the supermarket. However, some words and/or expressions stay within the family forever.
In my family one of these words is “Rabarbara”. When I was little, my mom used to make rhubarb cakes, stewed fruits and other rhubarb desserts. We all liked it, but the word “rabarbar” (polish for rhubarb) was too close to my mom’s name (Barbara) to distinguish the two. There is an “a” missing at the end and an additional “ra” at the beginning.. too much for a little brain of a child. Always remembering where the word ends, cutting the “a”.. no.. too much stress. “Rabarbara”.. perfect solution! It has the “ra” at the beginning AND the “a” at the end. Fits both! And it is still Rabarbara for me.. until today πŸ™‚
When looking for a nice recipe for mother’s day, I discovered a really delicous cake on Dr.Oetker’s Webpage (as I mentioned in my last post), that connects these rhubarb-naming memories with my passion for baking and trying new recipes. It was a great looking rhubarb-strawberry cake with a little cream and two kinds of dough, topped with a layer of meringue. It is delicious and sort of easy, though it has some tricky parts due to the meringue top. Well, you can always make it without.. in any way, here is the recipe.

Rhubarb-Strawberry-Meringue-Cake:
(http://www.oetker.de/)

sponge cake:
3eggs
100g sugar
1package vanilla sugar
120g flour
1/2tsp baking powder
(this is the recipe provided by the webpage. I used my own recipe with 5 eggs, 5 tbsp sugar, 5 tbsp flour and 1 1/4 tsp baking powder. I always use this one, cause it is easy to remember – 1-1-1-1/4 – and never fails to perform well πŸ˜‰ The preparation below is also my way.. I didn’t try the way Dr.Oetker suggests, that is why I am not posting it here)

meringue:
2 egg whites
100g sugar

pound cake:
60g butter
50g sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
pinch salt
1 egg
2 egg yolks
60g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

filling:
300g strawberries
375g rhubarb
75g sugar
75ml apple or cherry juice
40g corn starch
600g whip cream
1 package vanilla sugar

Preparation:

sponge cake:
1. beat the egg whites with the sugar and vanilla sugar
2. add the eggΒ  yolks
3. add the flour and baking powder and quickly mix everything together
4. bake for 25-30 minutes at 180Β°C

for the meringue:
1. beat the egg whites until stiff
2. add sugar

for the pound cake:
1. beat the butter until light and fluffy
2. slowly add sugar, vanilla sugar and salt until well mixed
3. add egg and egg yolks one by one on high speed of the mixer
4. mix flour with baking powder and add to the batter on medium speed
5. fill batter into a round pan (26cm) (it will look as if it is too little, but it will turn out ok, so don’t worry πŸ˜‰ ) and spread the beaten egg whites on top
6. bake for 30 minutes at 180Β°C

for the filling:
1. put approx. 8 strawberries aside for decoration
2. chop remaining strawberries
3. chop rhubarb (after rinsing and peeling of course πŸ˜‰ )
4. stew the rhubarb with the sugar and 2 tbsp of juice for approx. 3 minutes
5. mix the remaining juice with the cornstarch
6. add to the rhubarb and boil it up
7. add strawberries
8. let cool
9. whip the cream with the vanilla sugar (if not done yet)

finish cake:
1. cut the sponge cake in two
2. fill the whipped cream into a pastry bag
3. make three circles of whipped cream onto the first layer of sponge cake
4. fill the spaces in between the cream with the rhubarb-strawberry filling
5. put second layer of sponge cake on top
6. fill the same way as on first layer
7. cover with pound cake-meringue layer (this is a little tricky, as it is very fragile and it is a little difficult to get it out of the pan in the first place. Don’t worry if the meringue breaks a little.. that is a characteristic of this pastry and after decorating, it will look just fine πŸ˜‰ )
8. decorate with strawberries and whipped cream.. or whatever your heart desires πŸ™‚

Done πŸ™‚ Sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, it is not a half an hour cake, but it sounds worse than it is.. promise!
I served this cake last sunday and although my siblings were in a hurry and therefore our coffee and cake time was short, nothing was left of the cake (even though we had cupcakes and cakepops, too πŸ˜‰ ). Everybody liked it and took some pieces home.
My mom – Rabarbara – was happy … about her kids spending some time with her on mother’s day, about the cake (though without pudding πŸ˜‰ ) and also about the painting… and when she is happy, I am happy πŸ™‚
Hope you and your mom’s had a great day, too or will have (those who live in countries where this day is celebrated later). Lots of love to all of you.. and now go and enjoy the cake πŸ˜‰

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For those of you interested in paintings.. this was my mother’s day present:

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puddingtown effects

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Mother’s Day is coming up and what else could I think of as a gift if not a cake?? I know.. boooring.. (there will be an oil painting, too.. not only the cake πŸ˜› ) I am just looking for an occasion to try a new recipe and the one I found a couple of days ago (on my favorite website Dr. Oetker πŸ˜‰ ) kind of fits the occasion.. well.. you have to wait for that one though, ’cause it will be done on sunday. Anyway, when thinking about my mom and cakes there is one word that comes to my mind: pudding filling. Why? Because she seems to love it (will she be disappointed when there is no pudding filling on sunday???). Whenever I screw up a filling and stand in front of my cupboards, murmuring “what am I gonna do? what am I gonna do??” my mom’s voice sounds in my ears “puuuuuddiiiiiiiing”. Whenever I think about a cake and ask myself out loud, what sort of filling I could make, my mom jumps out of a corner, yelling: “Pudding filling!!”. Whenever there is a leftover of a sponge cake or pound cake and I leave it for my mom to refrigerate and use it when guests arrive unexpectedly, she says with a smile: “Sure, I can use this as the bottom for a pudding cream filled cake” πŸ™‚ *sigh* “Yes, you can”. I am not quite sure why she got to love this so much.. either because she really likes the taste or because it is easy to make and the ingredients are usually somewhere in the kitchen.. either way, she never gets to the point I reach so often, realizing that I don’t know what filling to make. Lucky her! Yes, I could adopt this fascination for pudding cream fillings, but somehow I lack the enthusiasm for it. I don’t know why 😦
However, I don’t abandon it entirely from my baking, as it does provide some easy and light options for a good filling. While my mom is using the pudding just as it is, I like to have some variety and a flavor that is not too much pudding like. The pudding should act as a binder more than being the filling itself. A year ago I found a recipe for a really good butter cream with pudding and I used it a couple of times already with very good feedback. Although it is a butter cream, it is not too heavy (due to the pudding) and does not taste like pudding (due to the butter and other ingredients). For me just right. The last time I used this filling was for my niece’s birthday (the cake itself was the chocolate cake I posted a few months ago here) and I promised to post the recipe for this one, so here it is:

Chocolate Butter Pudding Cream:
(Torten-Hits und feine Kuchen Nr.13)

1 package chocolate pudding
75g sugar
400ml milk
100g dark chocolate
250g butter

1. take a few teaspoons of milk and set it aside
2. boil remaining milk
3. add sugar and pudding powder to the milk set aside
4. when milk is boiled add the sugar-pudding mix to it and boil again, while whisking
5. let cool
6. beat the butter approx. 8 min until light and fluffy
7. melt the chocolate
8. add the pudding to the butter, a teaspoon at a time
9. add the melted chocolate
10. mix well

It is easy, isn’t it? And really delicious, too.
An alternative to chocolate could be vanilla or white chocolate. Just replace the chocolate pudding with vanilla/cream pudding and add some vanilla extract/white chocolate. The magazine also provides an option with nougat. Instead of the chocolate pudding they used vanilla and added 50g melted nougat instead of the chocolate. I tried it last year.. very yummy!!
You see, there are endless variations to this recipe and that is the reason I like it so much. An easy all-round recipe πŸ™‚

Btw. talking about Dr. Oetker and pudding.. I mentioned once that I grew up in the neighboring town of where Dr.Oetker is located. The town of Dr.Oetker (Bielefeld) is called “Puddingtown” by some people, due to its most famous resident, the father of German pudding . Living there for 25 years might have affected my mom’s taste a little.. who knows? And if anybody is interested in fashion.. there is a small and very cute label called Puddingtown (http://puddingtown.com/).. worth to have a look πŸ™‚

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it’s peanuts!

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We all need that little treat sometimes. Something that soothes us, something that gives us some pleasure, something that rewards us for our achievements, something that shows us how special life is, something that we can look forward to.. something that simply puts a smile on our face. Often enough this something is accompanied by all these nutrition and diet warnings which tell you that what you are craving is not good for you. Well…. if you are craving it than it’s something you need, hence, good for you. Right? πŸ˜‰ If it makes you feel better than this can only be good for you. I am not talking about eating junk food the whole day and totally ignoring a healthy diet, but a little treat can only enhance the good mood and make the body produce endorphins.. win-win! When everything is in balance, nobody will say to stop eating some junk food from time to time. Plus, we all know how good chcocolate is for the body.. that’s when we like science.. when it points out all the good effects of chocolate consumption.
So, when people tell me that I am messing with their diet, just because I was baking again or making candy, this is what I say.. “Chocolate is healthy. It increases your level of endorphines and with that increases your well-being, reducing stress-related symptoms!” You can look it up πŸ™‚ There are tons of articles on the internet. Sure, nobody should overdo it.. the balance is what makes the difference.
I am one of those people who definitely can’t really find the balance when it comes to sweet stuff. I am craving for sugar basically all day and cannot stop eating when I should. Oh, well.. nobody is perfect πŸ˜‰ However, it doesn’t hurt to look for alternatives that make the over-consumption a little bit less harmful.
A couple of weeks ago I was visiting the US and was enjoying my peanut butter toast for breakfast every morning. We all know that peanut butter is not the healthiest thing in the world, but it is not that bad when you take the one without any additional ingredients…(right??) I like the natural peanut butter.. ingredients: peanuts. It always feels like it is not THAT bad.. might be just my feeling though πŸ˜‰ I could eat a whole jar at once.. I don’t think this is healthy, is it? I also like peanut butter cups (small portions of peanut butter.. better alternative than eating a whole jar), but there is milk in those you can buy at the store, so I don’t have them. When I came back from the US (a jar peanut butter in my suitcase.. how did that get in there? πŸ˜‰ ) I wanted to make some peanut butter cups myself. I made someΒ  for a friend a couple of months ago and she liked them, so I wanted to try it again. I melted some dark chocolate (we all know, the darker the healthier πŸ˜‰ ) and poured a teaspoon into the moulds of a mini-muffin pan, which I lined with paper cups before. After a few minutes in the fridge I took a teaspoon natural peanut butter and filled the chocolate cups. Finally, I covered the cups with another layer chocolate and decorated each one with a peanut (I only had the salty ones at home, so I washed them and let them dry before using) and let it cool in the fridge. Done!
It is really super easy and fast. The only two ingredients are chocolate and peanut butter. It sure is healthier than the ones you get at the store. It is vegan (when you use vegan chocolate), less sweet and absolutely amazing for those, who like sweet, but not too sweet. I didn’t get to eat many of them, ’cause my family liked them so much.. they were all gone very fast. If you are looking for something that is giving you the good feeling of a little treat, without all the artificial flavors, this is the right thing for you… and it is done within just a few minutes πŸ™‚
Now, excuse me, please.. I have to go.. I am craving for something sweet and selfmade. See you soon.. enjoy the sweetness of sundays!

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Happy New….Lemon

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May 1st.. somehow this day always feels like a new beginning. It is as if we get another chance to start this year. If you didn’t follow your New Year’s resolutions so far, here is another chance. I am not quite sure why I feel like this date is a new beginning. Maybe because April is over, which is a link between winter and summer. April can do whatever it wants.. snow, rain, sunshine,… all we say is: “well, it is Aprilweather”. May is supposed to be warm and full of sunshine. May is the beginning of the wonderful time called summer, isn’t it? (Sorry.. weather talk again πŸ˜‰ )
Another possible reason, why it feels like a replica of New Year’s Eve, is that people are going out to celebrate and there are dance parties all over town. Plus, the next day is a holiday. Here in Germany we celebrate the upcoming season with the so called “Dance into May” or “May ball” (whatever you think is the better translation). The only two things that are different from New Year’s are that you don’t need snow shoes (usually) on your way home and you don’t need to hug and/or kiss weird foreign and/or drunk people, after counting down to zero at midnight… unless you wish to. In most cases there is no firework either, so this is a difference, too. Anyhow, I always felt like this is another New Year’s.. so…Happy New Year.. or Happy New Summer? hmm.. let’s stick to that!
I was not out celebrating last night (I spent 10 hours on a train and my preferred dance floor was my bed.. the dances took place in my dreams), but I would like to welcome the month of May. Let’s celebrate the upcoming season with a cake that fulfills the requirements of light summer taste and the feeling of sunshine and freshness.
A few days ago I posted the Maya the Bee cake, which I made for my little niece. This cake , with all its flowers and butterflies, indicates a taste of summer and the Lemon-Rasberry filling won’t disappoint these expectations:

lemon filling (recipe on chefkoch.de):
8 leaves gelatin (I usually use a little more.. around 10-12)
300 ml butter milk
150 gr sugar
lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon
600 ml cream

1. prepare the gelatin according to the instructions on the package
2. mix the gelatin with the buttermilk, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice
3. let it cool until it starts to get thick
4. in the meantime whisk the cream
5. add the whipped cream to the buttermilk mixture

That is pretty much it, when it comes to the lemon filling. I usually use it with a sponge cake, which I cut into three layers. Last time I put fresh rasberries onto each layer and put the filling on top. The lemon and the rasberries are really great together and it sure tastes like summer.
It is a treat and super easy and fast to make. The filling is light and fresh and therefore the right choice for any summer celebration. You can use it with sponge cake (which is the lightest version, that is why I like it so much.. it just fits), pound cake or any other cake.. or as a dessert. With layers of fresh fruit and this cream, I am sure this dessert will be a summer explosion to your barbecue or dinner with friends and family.

Nothing left to say except.. welcome May!