cream or chocolate

We have to make decisions. Every day. Blue jeans or black pants? Cereal or bread? Car or bike? Coffee or tea? Gym or couch? Movie or favorite TV show?

Little decisions, that we don’t even recognize as such as they simply happen. Which book should I read next? Which ice cream flavor should I buy? Do I need this new pair of shoes?

Can you decide? Can you always make a choice and simply be happy with it?

Let’s see..

What would you choose? Chocolate or Cream&Berries?

Did you go for chocolate?

You can find the recipe of the cake here. I filled and covered it with a simple dark chocolate ganache.

The cream and berries is your choice?

Here is how you make it

INGREDIENTS

for the cake: 

200gr butter
170gr sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
3 eggs
200gr flour
1 Tsp baking powder
salt

for the filling:
600gr mixed berries (frozen or fresh) - or more if you want to use smoothie for your pudding
1.5 pckg vanilla pudding
350ml water or juice (or smoothie - which I used)
1 Tbs sugar
600 ml heavy cream
3 pckg cream stiffener
2 pckg vanilla sugar

topping: 
cookies
lemon juice
powdered sugar

1. for the cake beat butter with sugar and vanilla sugar until fluffy
2. add eggs one by one
3. mix flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and add to the butter mixture
4. bake 20-25 minutes
5. for the filling heat up 300ml water, juice or smoothie
6. mix the pudding powder and sugar with the remaining water and add to the heated water
7. cook until you get a pudding texture
8. let cool and add the berries
9. cover the cake with the pudding
10. whisk the heavy cream until stiff
11. cover the berries with whipped cream
12. cover with cookies
13. for the icing, mix lemon juice with powdered sugar until smooth and thick
14. cover the cookies with the icing and let it cool over night

Hope you made the right choice. If not.. tomorrow is another day ๐Ÿ™‚

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no princess

 

 

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IMG_2596I am not a princess. Shocking news, I know. Maybe you think: โ€œOh, well… who knows for sure? Donโ€™t we all have some royal ancestors somewhere in the past? Hundreds of years ago there might have been some royal person, who was the grandfather of the grandmother of the grandmotherโ€™s grandmother of momโ€™s grand-grandfather?โ€ Maybe this is true for some of you guys, but I have proof! THE proof!

 

Every night I am getting ready for bed and walk into my kitchen, open the microwave, set it to 2.5 minutes and wait. Beep, beep, beep. I go to bed and get warm, holding my freshly microwaved warming pillow tight to my body. It is a fairly old warming pillow and the many fixed holes show the months of winter nights, only survived through the warmth of little grain.

There were little holes, medium holes and finally, one night, a laaaaarge hole. The grains spill onto the bed sheets and build a solid ground for my dreams. A restful night. I wake up, rested, content and ready for the day. I walk to the bathroom – little grains glued to my arms, legs and back, one by one landing on the floor, drawing a path from my bed to the bathroom. The sheets full of grains make me realize โ€œI am no princess!โ€. Do you know the story of โ€œThe princess and the Peaโ€? No? Ok, short summary: The tale is written by Hans Christian Anderson and is about a princess whose royalty is tested by placing a pea under several mattresses. The princess does not get any sleep that night, feeling uncomfortable with the pea under her mattresses and this is how her royal identity is proven. I donโ€™t feel 100 grains right under my butt.. I am no princess.

 

I donโ€™t know whether one of my friends and colleagues is a princess and whether she had peas or grains under her mattress, while she was stuck in bed for weeks, due to her broken foot. I only hope that she did not feel like the princess in the tale and was able to find some rest. I assume it must have been uncomfortable after a while though. When she finally recovered and got back to work, of course I wanted to welcome her with a cake.

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Because I was not able to make a cake the night before her return, I thought the second day would be good enough as well. I prepared the decoration: a teddy bear with a broken foot, made out of chocolate fondant with white parts made of white marzipan. Sitting on the table, teddy was impatiently waiting for another place to sit. His eyes looked at me desperately, asking for his throne (a prince?). I made a vegan chocolate cake, took it out of the oven and… it slipped and broke into a million pieces. It was late, but I thought I would try again. This time, my oven did not feel the urge to cooperate and the cake turned out to be dry and hard at the edges, but gooey and dense on the inside. Not a throne, rather a plastic chair, thus not acceptable for the royal bear. I was not able to make a third cake, so I postponed the cake again. On the weekend I tried it one more time. I baked a chocolate cake and … nope.. my oven still did not feel like working with me. The cake was undone in the middle, while too dry on the outside. I thought I would go with my ultimate cake, which always works, unless you have an oven like me. Same story.. dry on the outside, undone on the inside. I was about to give up. I walked out of the kitchen and there he was.. sitting on the table, looking sad and disappointed. Why did I have to make that bear, before the cake was ready? Back into the kitchen and cake no.5! Finally!!! The vegan chocolate cake was done inside and outside! Although I was told, it was a little dry, which is most likely due to the fact that it had to stay in the oven for almost an hour instead of 35minutes.. I kind of start to dislike my oven…

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I made white modeling chocolate instead of fondant (yummy.. dark chocolate cake covered with white chocolate.. mmmmmmmhhh). Because it was late and Sunday (=stores closed in Germany) and I did not have much decoration at home, I took nonpareils and tried to make something like a flower bed. With bamboo sticks and normal paper, I made a โ€œWelcome backโ€ banner and placed the teddy in the middle of the cake, on top of some colorful nonpareils. He did not complain about feeling uncomfortable, sitting on top of them.. maybe he is not a prince after all.. or is he? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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not about how old you are, but how you are old..

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A couple of weeks ago I packed my suitcase and went on a bus. 10 hours later, some of them with the smell of cheese (no… it was not really cheese) and a couple of failed attempts to finally fall asleep, I found myself in the little house where my mom grew up. It was early in the morning, but it started busy. It was not just an ordinary visit. We had business to do… at least I did. I unpacked my suitcase, pulled out a dress, pants and some clothes for cold weather. The rest of the suitcase was filled with baking supplies. It was heavy, but I didn’t mind. It was what I was looking forward to – using all these supplies, playing with shapes, recipes, decoration, creams… It’s what I love and missed. We went shopping, visited some relatives and I started to work on my project. Cakes and cake pops for my grandmother’s birthday. I wanted to make it as perfect as possible. It was supposed to be my gift for her and I put all the love and effort into this project. Days before I started to plan and sketch the cake for the big celebration. All our relatives from the village would attend and my grandmother deserved to have a special cake. One that is made just for her. So, I started to work two days before the party (which would take place on a saturday, the day after her actual birthday). I made a cake for the neighbors who would come the day before and the rest of the goodies were planned for the big party.

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I baked all the cakes on Thursday and made the creams the next day – there was one cake with cream and berries for the first day, a buttermilk-lemon cake and a chocolate cake and the cake pops for the second day. The roses and edible lace (which I used this recipe for – If anybody is interested, please comment below and I will be happy to make a special post about this recipe) I made the day before the party as well. With that it had enough time to dry. The cake pops were also made the day before, so that I had enough time to concentrate on covering the cake and decorating it the day the party was scheduled. It all went smooth and I was happy with the result. The guests were happy as well and ate all the cake. Only a small piece was left. The biggest of all compliments for a baker.

It was great to do all that. I simply loved it. But there is something about those days that fulfilled me more than the baking itself. I was able to witness something that we often forget in our every day lives. My grandmother turned 93 and what makes her happy is seeing her family and being among them. She is incredible. She can spend half of the day in the kitchen, preparing a meal for her family. Sure, she has the usual complaints every person has when getting older. Still, she is doing most of her stuff by herself and I am very proud of being her granddaughter. Three years ago, I took the same journey to attend her 90th birthday. I remember posting a picture of the two of us, saying that I hope I will be like my grandmother when I turn 90. Three years later, I see the same woman in the same apron, in the same condition and I am thinking: she is brave and strong and keeps going no matter what. During those few days I was working in her kitchen, she sat down next to me from time to time and watched me (which I usually really don’t like). She kept saying that she is not worth all the work. It is sad she thinks that way, but I hope she understands that she is wrong about that. I am grateful to have her. I am grateful that her great-grandchildren know her and she stayed here for us. She could easily give up, but she does not and she deserves gratitude and admiration for that. On her birthday, while I was working on the roses and chatting with a friend, she walked into the kitchen and my friend gave her a hug and congratulated. My grandmother smiled and said: “You see, if you want to be hugged and get many presents and flowers you need to turn 93. When you are that old people would give you many hugs”.ย  I was moved. Do we really forget about our friends and people and realize that we need to show them our love when they get old? Maybe we do and maybe we need to take care of that. Maybe a cake made with love will do theย job as well?

The recipes for the cakes and creams you’ll find here:

egg liqueur cake with buttermilk lemon filling

chocolate cake with chocolate pudding butter cream filling

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chocolate models ;)

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I can’t believe how fast time flies. Didn’t we just unpack our Christmas presents a few days ago and stuffed our bellies with Christmas goodies until we were barely able to roll to the sofa, which seemed miles away? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we slept in on January 1st, because we stayed up all night to welcome 2014? Oh… no.. is this really almost a year ago? Does that mean I have to storm the stores and look for gifts again? Does that mean, that the cities will be full of stressed people, fighting for the last Disney stuffed toy on the shelf? Well.. that also means that the city will be full of people enjoying their evening at the Christmasmarkets, with a hot wine and (drunken ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) friends. It will be filled with calming Chrismas songs, romantic lights and the smell of cinnamon, cookies and sweet wine. There are always two sides, right? I’m taking side number two please.

The winter itself just showed for a couple of days only. I took my winter jacket out in the middle of last week and was glad that the cold winter wind did not find its way through my five layers of clothing. I enjoyed my bike rides anyway. The fresh winter air fills the lungs more than in any other time and when the sun visits for a couple of minutes, it is heavenly. When I woke up yesterday and my room was filled with sunlight I thought for a brief moment that I missed winter and spring and it’s summer. Not that I would mind.. usually the fall and winter months are very dark here and very depressing. “Seize the day” I thought, jumped up and went for a run. Pants, Shirt, second Shirt, Jacket, warm socks, shoes… gloves? hmm..no.. I will be fine. Hat? no… I will be fine. Let’s go. After five steps.. stop.. what is going on really? Why is it so warm? I did miss something didn’t I? A look at my phone.. nope.. we are still in November. Ok, well.. good.. probably a last wonderful day as a present. Jacket off and back on track ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t keep up with this year’s November, really. It is soooo unusual. Seems like it is simply toooooo nice. Either there is something mean waiting for us in the last week…. oooooor… November is in love and just nice ๐Ÿ™‚ Whatever the reason: Thank you November for less rain, warm temperatures and a little sunshine.

In case december is not as nice as november was and we all have to stay at home, because our feet would freeze to the ground outside and our eye lids would freeze shut when we blink, we sure need something to do. Let’s just assume you decide to bake a cake for the advent sunday and decorate it nicely. If you don’t like working with fondant or gumpaste or don’t like the taste, the alternative might be modeling chocolate. Now, why I am saying it is good for those long winter evenings is because, although it is made very easily and fast, it tooks forever to get it kneaded when you actually want to work with it. The recipe itself is very easy and you will be done with it in a couple of minutes. Once you let it sit for a while and start to work kneading, you will realize that this is the tricky part. Anyhow.. let’s just start:

Modeling chocolate

(http://ofenkieker.de/grundrezepte/dekoration/modellierschokolade/)

200 g chocolate (white or dark)

75 g syrup for white chocolate or 100 g syrup for dark chocolate

1.chop the chocolate and fill it into a freezer bag. Squeeze out the air and close the bag tightly.

2. pour hot water from the tab (approx. 40ยฐC) into a pan and put the bag into the water. Knead the chocolate from time to time.

3. once the chocolate is completely melted, take the bag out and open it.

4. pour the syrup into the chocolate (if you want another color, this is the time to add the color)

5. close the bag and knead the syrup with the chocolate until blended. You will realize that it gets a little harder.

6. when the chocolate mix doesn’t stick to the bag anymore, flatten the chocolate inside the bag

7. let it rest in the fridge for a couple of ours or over night. The chocolate gets hard again.

8. when you want to use the chocolate, take it out from the fridge and break off small pieces. The chocolate gets soft when you knead the small pieces for a while. This requires some time and patience. When it gets too oily and starts to melt, put it back into the fridge for a few minutes.

I think it is a great alternative for chocolate lovers or those who just don’t like gumpaste. I have never seen everybody eating the decoration of my cakes, but with this recipe, half of the decoration was gone after the guests left ๐Ÿ˜‰

It sure requires some time and patience with the kneading, but it is worth it. If you want an instruction with pictures, please click on the link shared above. The girl from this blog explained it so well with great pictures ๐Ÿ™‚ I used the chocolate to make roses for my mom’s birthday and also for the decoration for my last cake – little flowers. I used fondant cutters to make those.

I hope you will have a great holiday time and wish you all a very, very friendly end of november ๐Ÿ˜‰

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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 ๐Ÿ˜› ) 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) 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” ๐Ÿ™‚ *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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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? ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) I wanted to make some peanut butter cups myself. I made someย  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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
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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