Friday, November 19, 2010


125 g all-purpose flour
50 g whole wheat pastry flour (or more all-purpose flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
75 g butter
1 egg
30 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
25 g almond meal

750 g apples, mixed, (I used Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Macoun)
juice of 1 lemon
150 g butter, softened
75 g brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 tsp. lemon zest, grated
20 ml Apfelkorn or Calvados
100 g all-purpose flour
250 ml whipping cream
25 g almond slivers

Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C. Butter a 1/4-sheet pan.

In mixer bowl, sieve together flour and baking powder. Add butter, egg, sugar, vanilla extract, salt and almond meal. Knead at low speed until all comes together, then switch to medium speed and continue kneading until smooth. Wrap dough in foil and refrigerate for 30 min.

Roll out dough to size of sheet pan. Transfer to pan and press dough up around sides to shape a small rim. Prick with fork several times.

Bake 12 - 15 min. (After taking cake out, reduce heat to 350 F/180 C)

Peel (only green ones) and slice apples. Toss in lemon juice. Set aside. (Red apple skin looks nice when baked, the green turns brownish).

In mixer bowl, beat butter until creamy. Add sugar, vanilla extract, egg, lemon zest, Apfelkorn (or Calvados) and flour, mixing well after each addition.

Whisk whipping cream until stiff. Fold into filling, and spread evenly over pre-baked crust. Top with apples and sprinkle with almonds.

Place in lower third of oven. Bake at 350 F/180 C for ca. 35 min. (if top browns too much, cover with aluminum foil).

Adapted from Dr. Oetker: "Apfelkuchen".

A bag full of apples, a dreary day and German Apfelkuchen - Eine Tüte voller Äpfel, ein trüber Tag und Apfelkuchen

Last week we bought a bag full of assorted apples from a farmer. Not only the bag was huge, the size of some of the apples (Macoun) was gigantic, too. What to do with all these beautiful apples? A dreary day makes you think of comfort food, and there's that old saying: "Life is uncertain - eat the dessert first". I'm never one to resist the craving for dessert, anyway, and the oven was still warm from baking bread in the morning.

Among my cookbooks is one exclusively on apple cakes (Dr. Oetker: "Apfelkuchen"). I made already a few of them, but wanted to try something new. Many of the cakes are baked on a sheet pan, the kind Americans call "bars" and Germans "Schnitten". I wanted it to be simple, with a lot of apples, some nuts and, preferably, some liquor in it.

Since I don't have to feed a big family I divided my chosen recipe by half, added more apples and, also, different kinds for a more complex taste. The original calls for Amaretto, but I didn't have any, and my husband doesn't care too much for it, either. Also, I liked the idea of an additional apple flavor, so I took the Apfelkorn I had in my cupboard (I'm sure Calvados would have been a great choice, too). I used brown sugar instead of white, and, also, reduced the overall amount of sugar - it's still sweet enough.

It turned out really nice, with a fresh, strong apple taste - and just a hint of booze:
Apple Cake with Almonds and Apfelkorn Cream.

Letzte Woche haben wir eine Tüte
mit verschiedenen Äpfel vom Bauern gekauft. Nicht nur die Tüte war riesig, auch die Grösse einiger der Äpfel (Macoun) war gewaltig. Wohin nun mit all diesen schönen Äpfeln? Ein trüber Tag wird durch leckeres Essen erträglicher, und ausserdem gibt es den alten Spruch: "Das Leben ist ungewiss - iss den Nachtisch zuerst!" Ich gehöre sowieso nicht zu den Leuten, die einem Dessert widerstehen können, und ausserdem war der Ofen noch warm vom Brotbacken am Morgen.

Eins meiner Kochbücher ist ausschliesslich Apfelkuchen gewidmet (Dr. Oetker: "Apfelkuchen"). Ich hab schon ein paar davon gebacken, aber ich wollte etwas Neues ausprobieren. Viele der Kuchen sind Blechkuchen von der Art, die Amerikaner als "Bars"(= Riegel) und Deutsche als "Schnitten" bezeichnen. Ich wollte einen einfachen Kuchen, mit vielen Äpfeln, einigen Nüssen, und vorzugsweise auch etwas Alkohol.

Da ich keine grosse Familie ernähren muss, halbierte ich das Rezept meiner Wahl, nahm mehr Äpfel, und dazu unterschiedliche Sorten für einen komplexeren Geschmack. Im Original steht zwar Amaretto, aber ich hatte keinen da, und Richard mag ihn sowieso nicht besonders. Ausserdem gefiel mir die Idee von noch mehr Apfelaroma, daher nahm ich den Apfelkorn, den ich im Schrank hatte (Calvados wäre sicher auch eine gute Wahl gewesen). Ich benutzte braunen Zucker anstatt von weissem, und reduzierte den Gesamtzuckergehalt um Einiges - der Kuchen ist auch so noch süss genug.

Das Ergebnis war wirklich lecker, mit einem frischen, intensiven Apfelgeschmack - und einem Hauch von Schnaps: Apfelkuchen mit Mandeln und Apfelkorn-Creme!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Now and then I need some toasted bread. The supermarket varieties are, of course, off limits. A loaf that cowardly yields, without putting up any resistance to my probing finger, is not worthy of a Black Forrest ham or Fontina cheese topping. I want my toast to delicately soften a bit when I spread it with butter - not disintegrating into mash!

Even biting in a sandwich bread it's nice to find a little bit to chew on. A mix of flours and grains, like rolled oats, cornmeal and bran, also gives it a more complex flavor. And sesame seeds makes a topping that doesn't only look attractive, but, also,  adds a delicious crunchiness.

This is my take on Peter Reinhart's "Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire" from The Bread Baker's Apprentice), with some alterations and, I hope, improvements - a very tasty, "un-squishy" bread that really deserves the goodies I put on top - even if it's not toasted.

MULTIGRAIN SANDWICH BREAD  (adapted from Peter Reinhart: The Bread Baker's Apprentice)

100 g/3.5 oz whole wheat flour
28 g/1 oz corn meal, coarse grind (Polenta)
28 g/1 oz bread flour
28 g/1 oz cooked brown rice
21 g/0.75 oz rolled oats
7 g/0.25 oz wheat or oat bran
4 g salt (1/2 tsp.)
113 g/4 oz buttermilk
28 g/1 oz water

227 g/8 oz bread flour
1 g instant yeast (1/4 tsp.)
142 g/5 oz water

Final Dough
all soaker and biga
28 g/1 oz bread flour
19 g/0.7 oz honey or brown sugar
7 g/0.25 oz salt
5 g/0.2 instant yeast

lightly beaten egg or egg white, for brushing
2 tsp. sesame seeds, for sprinkling

Stir together all soaker ingredients, until all flour is hydrated. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature.

In mixer bowl, stir together all biga ingredients at low speed (or with hand), until a coarse ball forms (1-2 minutes). Knead at medium-low speed (or with hand) for 2 minutes. Let dough rest for 5 minutes, then resume kneading for 1 more minute.

Transfer biga to a lightly oiled bowl, and roll it around to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place into fridge (remove 2 hours before using, to warm up).

Mix all ingredients for final dough at low speed for 1-2 minutes, until a coarse ball forms (if mixing by hand, cut starter and biga into 12 smaller pieces for easier distribution). Switch to medium-low speed and knead 4 minutes, adjusting with a little more flour, if needed (dough should be very tacky). Let dough rest for 5 minutes.

Resume kneading for 1 more minute (dough should be soft, supple and tacky, but not sticky). Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, rolling it around to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using, to warm up.

Preheat oven to 425ºF/220ºC, including a steam pan. Transfer dough to a lightly floured counter, pat into a square and roll up to shape a sandwich loaf. Place in lightly oiled loaf pan, seam side down. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and score lengthwise.

Mist loaf with oil, cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towel, and proof for about 45 - 60 minutes at room temperature, or until it has grown to 1 1/2 times its original size, and a dimple, made with your finger, comes back a little bit, but stays visible (finger poke test).

Place bread in oven, pour 1 cup of boiling water into steam pan, and reduce heat to 350ºF/175ºC. Bake for 20 minutes, rotate loaf 180 degrees, and continue baking for about 20 minutes more. Bread should register at least 195ºF/90ºC in center, and be golden brown.

Remove pan (loaf should sound hollow when thumped on bottom), and let cool on wire rack.

Monday, November 1, 2010


225 g chocolate wafers (2 cups crumbs)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
99 g butter, melted (7 tbsp.)

680 g cream cheese (3 packages), at room temperature
235 g pumpkin purée (1 cup)
12 g all-purpose flour (2 tbsp.)
1 pinch salt
150 g sugar (3/4 cup)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp. ginger, ground
3 tbsp. Port
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 F/190 C (rack in center of oven). Line sides of 9"/23 cm springform pan with parchment paper.

In food processor, pulse wafers until crushed to fine crumbs. Add brown sugar and pulse to combine. Transfer to medium bowl, and stir in melted butter, until crumbs are evenly moist and clump together slightly.

Transfer mixture to springform pan and press evenly onto bottom (with flat bottomed measuring cup). Bake until crust is fragrant, 9 - 12 min. Let pan cool on rack. Lower oven temperature to 300 F/150 C.

In stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, pumpkin purée, flour, and a pinch of salt on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl and paddle as needed, until very smooth and fluffy, ca. 5 min. (Make sure cheese has no lumps). Add sugar and continue beating until well blended and smooth.

Add cinnamon, ginger, Port and vanilla, and beat until blended, ca. 30 sec. Add eggs one at a time, beating just until blended. (Don't overbeat at this point or cheesecake will puff too much). Pour filling into cooled crust and smooth top.

Bake at 300 F/150 C until center jiggles like Jell-O when nudged, 55 - 65 min. Cake will be slightly puffed around edges, and center will still look moist. Cool completely on rack.

Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hrs. (Cake can be frozen for up to 1 month).

To freeze cake: put unmolded, cooled cake on baking sheet in freezer, uncovered, until top is cold and firm; then wrap in 2 layers of plastic and 1 layer of foil. Thaw overnight in refrigerator.

Comment: This is another variation of the great cheesecake master recipe formula in "Fine Cooking".