no princess

 

 

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IMG_2596I am not a princess. Shocking news, I know. Maybe you think: “Oh, well… who knows for sure? Don’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 grandmother’s grandmother of mom’s grand-grandfather?” 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 “I am no princess!”. Do you know the story of “The princess and the Pea”? 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 don’t feel 100 grains right under my butt.. I am no princess.

 

I don’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 “Welcome back” 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? 😉

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out of control

 

A couple of days ago, I took my usual way home after work. It was a long day and even though I enjoy my work and especially enjoy the company of my colleagues, this was one of the days I left work in a bad mood. I did not achieve the goals I set for myself and fought an inner silent fight with myself, thinking about what I should have done better. I just wanted to go home, do some yoga or pilates, curl up in a blanket and forget about this day, preparing myself for a better one to follow.

This was also one of the days the train was full enough to not get a seat – (of course ;). So I made myself comfortable, standing pressed to a wall and trying to just relax. Two tipsy or half drunken guys were sitting not too far away from me, sipping their beer. Lucky me, I understand more than one language and I heard familiar sounds, though a little unclear 😉 The men spoke a passionate Polish, swearing every other word and discussing a very important matter – that is at least how it seemed. I don’t know what they were talking about. One of them kept saying “They won’t kick you out man! They won’t! They can’t”. The other one was just listening, grunting from time to time. After a couple of stops the talking guy went silent and drifted into sleep, his head lowering, coming closer and closer to the beer bottle, which headed towards the ground simultaneously. The train stopped and the silent guy looked up. Slightly panicked, he hit his friend. The train moved again. The silent guy cried out: “Man! Don’t sleep! I don’t know where we should get out! Was the stop something with Friedrich or something?”. His friend lifted his head and waved his hand: “Man! Don’t worry! I have everything under control! Two more stops. Two more. I have everything under control!”. The next stop was announced. The talking guy jump up, crying out: “Man! Don’t sleep! We have to get out!”

It made my day and I went home smiling. So much about having everything under control. Maybe we don’t have to have everything under control as long as we make it out of the train in time. As long as we see our mistakes soon enough.

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A few days later a good friend of mine came to visit. She is vegan and if you read my blog frequently you know I like to bake vegan if I get the chance. I knew her even before she decided to go vegan and I remembered, she used to love brownies. Therefore, I picked a chocolate cake. However, because it was her birthday a couple of days before and for this occasion brownies seemed too simple. A cake with cream was a more appropriate choice. I made a chocolate cake with a vegan cream, which had a slight coconut flavor. Not too dominant. To add a fruity touch (I feel like cream cakes without fruit are too heavy), I added two layers of wild mixed berried. Usually I would mix them with a little powdered sugar to make them less sour (this is what is recommended in most recipes I have read so far), but I felt like the chocolate cake and the cream and sweet fruit would be way too sweet. The sour berries would balance it out. Now, here comes the “i have everything under control” part into play. Sugar seemed to have left my mind that day. I made the batter and when I filled the pan and tried the batter, I realized I forgot the sugar. Back into the bowl and adding the sugar.

After the cake was ready and I thought about the ingredients I used for the cream, again I realized: forgot the sugar. For some reason though this was just right. I am glad I did not add it. Because soy yogurt often is sweeter than normal yogurt, I did not even realize that I forgot to add the sugar when eating.

It turned out really good and pretty well balanced. I also forgot to add the avocado, which was supposed to make it more creamy. Well, next time I will and I will also let you know how it tastes and how the texture is.

 

Here is the recipe for this easy, yet very yummy vegan birthday cake:

 

Vegan chocolate cake:

1 cup flour

½ cup cornstarch

3 Tbsp cocoa

1 cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 tsp white vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup lukewarm water

 

  1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl
  2. Add vinegar, vanilla extract and vegetable oil
  3. Mix with mixer or spatula until blended
  4. Pour water all over
  5. Mix well
  6. Bake for 45-60 min (it might be less or even more.. depends on the oven and the amount of cake you are making)

 

I doubled the ingredients for this cake.

 

For the yogurt cream:

(Frankly, the cream is so super easy that you don’t need a recipe really.. Try and find out what you like. There is no right or wrong)

 

300 gr soy coconut yogurt

200 ml vegan whip cream

5-6 Tbs San Apart (vegan stabilizer for cream)

1-2 packages vanilla sugar

(some sugar if you like it sweeter)

  1. Whip the cream
  2. Add the yogurt, stabilizer and sugars
  3. Mix well

 

I cut the cake into three layers and put some berries on top of the two lower ones, covered them with 1/4 of the cream each and put the last layer on top. Finally I covered the cake with the remaining cream, cut “Happy Birthday” out of colored marzipan and decorated the cake with edible confetti. Done 🙂

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I lost a little bit of control over the ingredients, but it is ok. It turned out well balanced and yummy. I left the train just on time 🙂

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now and forever

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Do you know those days when you get back home from work and you really, really need something sweet?? And there is nothing that can satisfy your taste buds?? No matter what you eat, you find yourself still searching the cabinets and drawers, while chewing the last bite of a granola bar.. Sometimes you will not find whatever your body is craving in your kitchen. Sometimes it needs to be something you simply need to make or bake. Usually that is the worst thing that can happen in those moments… “Baking something? But I need that nooooow and I can’t stare at the oven for 30 minutes until the cake is out.” Guess what? I found something that might help..At least it helped me through moments like these 😉 Like today.. and a few weeks before … and before that… and… 😉 I got home from work, paced around the kitchen cabinets and fridge, ate some snacks and still found myself craving for something else. I pulled out my cake pop maker (I didn’t post anything about it for some time..did you realize? 😉 ) and made one of my favorite little round treats.

After buying my cake pop maker I was looking for good recipes and you guys know how much I was trying out stuff.. which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. The usual cake pops take some time to make.. not so much the pops themselves, but more the coating and decorating. I was looking for something fast and easy that could be made for craving tummies… NOW.

I came across a really nice website: http://amyshealthybaking.com/ and found the following recipe (which I will copy into this post, but please visit the site.. it’s great and the pictures are really nice too) The donut holes are fast, easy and ooooooooh sooooooooo delicious. You NEED to try that recipe if you have a cake pop maker.. or get one now 😉

I also tried a vegan version, because I did not have an egg at home today. I substituted the egg with a tbsp citric acid and 1 tsp baking soda. Vinegar of course works too.. but I did not have that either 😉

donut holes pops

(http://amyshealthybaking.com/blog/2014/09/25/baked-snickerdoodle-donut-holes/)

3/4 c (94g) flour
3/4 tsp (3g) baking powder
3/4 tsp (3g) ground cinnamon
1/4tsp (1.5g) salt
1 tbsp (14g) butter, melted
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp (5mL) vanilla extract
1/4 tsp (1mL) butter extract ( I never used that.. just the vanilla, so you can leave it out)
1/4 c + 1/2c (144g) sugar
1/4 c + 3 tbsp (105mL) nonfat milk
  1. Preheat an electric cake pop maker.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg, and extracts.
  4. Stir in ¼ cup of sugar and ¼ cup of milk.
  5. Add in the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated.
  6. When the cake pop maker is hot, fill each cavity all the way full with batter.
  7. Close the lid and bake for 3-4 minutes, or until the tops are lightly firm to the touch.
  8. Immediately turn out onto a wire rack to cool, and repeat with the remaining batter.
  9. Combine the remaining ½ cup of sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pour the remaining milk into a separate small bowl. Once cool, dip each donut hole in the milk and shake off the excess. Roll around in the cinnamon sugar until coated. Place back on the wire rack until ready to serve

Like I said, I made the vegan version today. I added some more sugar to the batter – 1/2 cup instead of 1/4 cup. It happened accidentally.. I added all the sugar at once and then realized it should have been only 1/4 cups. I took some of the sugar out and left approximately 1/2 cups in the bowl. It was not too sweet and I really liked the donut holes. It got a little fruity character because of the citric acid and the sugar made it not too sour. So you might want to go along with adding a little more sugar than suggested to balance the citric acid, if you decide for the vegan version.

I also tried a version without cinnamon.. in case you don’t like cinnamon, you can add vanilla sugar instead in the batter and later for the dipping. It’s delicous as well 😉

Btw. if you ever have problems cleaning your cake pop maker, try the following: Boil some water and fill the cavities. A sponge will suck out the water with the grease and dirt. It always works for me. You can also add some dish liquid to the water. This way you will get rid of all the remains.

Well..I hope that my tummy won’t crave more treats tomorrow, because as embarrassing as it is… almost all of the donut holes are gone. Just a few are left.. so I won’t feel too guilty 😉

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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? 😉 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 🙂 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 😉 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 😉 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? 😉 ) I wanted to make some peanut butter cups myself. I made some  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 😉 ) 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 🙂
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 seeds

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I wanted to stop talking about the weather, but really….it is simply AMAZING the last couple of days. I wouldn’t mind having sunshine and 20°C in Germany all year long. People smile more, are friendly and relaxed. Who doesn’t like that??
Smelling fresh cut grass, enjoying the green shades of the trees and grass and the colorful variety of flowers everywhere… seeing the sparkly water of our river and the listen to the birds singing, while the wind plays with my hair. Seriously.. what is better than that? I love the very first days of spring/summer. Finally, I can just walk around outside and listen to the sounds of nature, instead of being afraid that I will end up without hands, feet or ears if I don’t get into a warm place within five minutes. Me running from one warm place to the other happens with every weather which temperature is below 20°C. Maybe that is why I like to bake.. it is always warm around the oven 🙂
So, while my heart took in all the colors, smells and sounds of spring, I was thinking about what to bake to celebrate this day. Isn’t it the time for red poppies? It is sooooo beautiful to pass a whole bunch of these and see its rich color.
Well.. poppy seed it is 🙂 I cooked some poppy seed, added a little lemon juice and vanilla sugar and mixed it with the batter of the vegan cupcakes I posted some time ago. I took a lot of poppy seeds, cause I had them at home and needed to use it up, but if you just want to have a hint of it in your cupcake, reduce the amount. It is a little unstable, when using too much and your cupcakes can break easily. Just play with it and find the right amount for you. And don’t forget that poppy seeds are drugs 😉 Maybe this is the reason I am happy today…..;)
I used the silicone pan for “mini-Gugelhupfe”. While still warm, I glazed the Gugelhupfs with a mix of powdered sugar and lemon juice. Some of the Gugelhupfs I covered with green colored marzipan. The remaining ones I left with the glaze. For the decoration I used red colored marzipan for red poppies and used some crumps of the dough as the flower center.
Very easy and fast! Enjoy the summer.. or spring.. just enjoy 🙂

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the question of the egg and the hen

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Easter is coming up and some people cannot wait until they sit down with their families and eat the biggest breakfast of the year. For some people this is because they just looooove this breakfast for its huge amount of different dishes. For some people, because the breakfast takes almost the whole day and for others.. simply because they are craving something they didn’t eat for the last 40 days. I am talking about religious people, who still keep the tradition of abstinence… or people who do this, although they are not religioius, but simply try to live healthier. The time line of 40 days somehow makes it easier. I belong to all of these groups. I LOVE breakfast! My favorite meal of the day and I like the huge variety of things on easter morning …and that there is no lunch 😉 Just breakfast! Yummy! Plus, it is really the end of those 40 days, which means I can start to eat things I resigned for the last couple of weeks.. this year: gummy bears. I can eat a whole package a day.. I wanted to eat healthier, so I decided to replace them. By different kinds of nuts, raisins, fruits etc. Ok, I gained weight during that time, which is like doubled punishment, but I am hoping to do something good for my body anyway. I am also not eating chocolate.. well I try 😉 and cut on all other sweets. But that is just me and it doesn’t mean that my friends do the same. When we met for a movie night a couple of days ago, I wanted to bake something to bring along. Well.. I was not only lacking gummy bears in my tummy, but also eggs in my fridge. A good vegan recipe had to be found and thanks to the internet I found a good one. I chose a basic vegan muffin recipe, which I can modify the way I want.
(http://veg-mag.blogspot.de/2012/06/vegane-muffins-grundrezept.html)

250g flour
150-200ml soy milk
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
50ml vegetable oil
100g sugar
salt

1. mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in a bowl
2. add oil and milk
3. add whatever you like 😉 fruits, raisins, almonds, vanilla flavor, other flavors… be creative
4. bake 20 minutes at 200°C

I added ground almonds. The batter was a little too thick, so I added a little more milk. Whatever you add, make sure the texture of the batter is not too thick or too watery.. just right.. you know what I mean 😉 Also, for one third of the batter I added some cocoa and put one tbsp of the dark batter on top of the light. I thought that the dough would not really rise, due to the lacking eggs, but it did… yes, it SURE did!!!!!! I was totally shocked when I took out these huge muffins 🙂 There was not much frosting needed, but I made some anyway.
I like to make Martha Stewart’s frosting. Look it up at her homepage:

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (use margarine for the vegan version)
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Just mix all ingredients in a bowl 🙂 I also add some melted dark chocolate to get a chocolate frosting. I am not really picky about the amount of the ingredients.. I just try to have a nice texture and taste.. Try out what is best for you.

I melted a little more chocolate and sprinkled it on top of the muffins and decorated each with an almond.

I really like that recipe, because it is so easy, fast and leaves a lot of room for creativity.. AND it really IS delicious. Many vegan cupcake recipes turn out to be too dry or stick to the paper.. but this one is really perfect. So, if you happen to have an empty fridge and only a couple of ingredients in your cabinet, but really crave for something sweet.. This is it!

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when luck, joy and love are just around the corner..

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I cannot believe that this year is already 11 days old. Oh.. the little ones are growing so fast 😉

Recently, I was baking for a birthday and instead of making one cake, I decided to make three. Each of them was supposed to carry a birthday wish. I wanted to wish love, laughter and luck.. the three Big L’s.. the plan was good, but when I started to write the words on the cakes, I realized pretty fast that laughter might be too long for these little cakes. I decided to replace this word by “joy”. Joy, laughter.. it says the same 🙂 I was hoping that the cakes bring some luck, because only when we are lucky love will reveal itself to us and we can enJOY our lives.

I should start at the beginning, though 😉 Ok, so I chose a vegan recipe. Because I cannot use milk and sometimes don’t have eggs at home, I like trying vegan recipes. Most of them are really delicious. Here is one for a vegan pound cake:

300g spelt flour
100g corn starch
1 package baking powder (that is what the recipe says. Take only 1/2 to 3/4)
200g soft butter
200g sugar
150ml soy milk
200ml sparkling water
1Tbs lemon juice
lemon zest (of 1/2 to 1 lemon)
1Tbs cocoa
1Tbs sparkling water

1. Beat butter and sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest until smooth and creamy
2. Add soy milk and water
3. Combine the flour, corn starch and baking powder and sift into the batter
4. Grease pans
5. Put half of the batter into the pans
6. Add the cocoa and water into the other half of the batter. Mix well
7. Put on top of white batter
8. Bake 25-30 Minutes at 180°C / 350°F (if you are using only one big pan, it takes up to 60 minutes!!)
9. Let cool and decorate

(vegan backen: einfach – lecker – laktosefrei; Kristina Unterweger&Arnold Pöschl; Neun Zehn Verlag)

Make sure you really use less baking powder. In general, I think one package is way too much for 300g flour and some corn starch. Cut it down to approx.3/4 if you don’t want the cake to taste like baking powder 🙂

Also, you might wanna add some more milk and maybe some fruit. I have to admit, it was a little too dry. If it still comes out dry, the topping should help. I took chocolate for the heart frames and lemon juice with powdered sugar and red food coloring for the center. The letters I made out of nonpareilles. Like I said.. I needed to adjust the words a little to the space on the cakes, but there is lots of room for creativity 🙂 EnJOY!