Saturday, September 20, 2014


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts (folgt noch)

I missed a few ABC baking projects (there was always something else going on), but our "pack leader" Hanaâ's September pick, King Arthur Flour's Almond Tarts featured almonds, and nuts are my favorite baking ingredients.

There was one problem, though - my husband doesn't care for strong almond aroma, and complains every time I use more than a few drops almond extract. And what is an almond tart without almond taste?

My birthday cake has always been a plum cake, in early September, when they are just ripe. When I first came to Maine, I couldn't find Italian prune plums, the best kind for baking - too tart for raw consumption but delicious when cooked.

Fortunately that has changed, and now, soon as I see them at our supermarket, I grab a few pounds -  it's time for my plum cake. And what could better offset a sweet, almond-y filling than a combination with tart, flavorful plums?

A few other tweaks to the filling: I reduced the sugar by 25%, using a mix of white and brown, and substituted some of the white flour for whole wheat. For my husband's sake, I added only half of the almond extract.

My Almond Plum Cake turned out just as I had hoped - a blissful marriage of tart, juicy plums with marzipan-like sweet almond filling: the BEST PLUM CAKE I EVER HAD!

De-licious - the best pum cake I ever had

ALMOND PLUM CAKE  (adapted from King Arthur Flour)

99 g/3.5 oz sugar (1/2 cup)
113 g/4 oz soft butter (1 stick)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
130 g/4.6 oz all-purpose flour
47 g1.7 oz whole wheat pastry
74 g/2.6 oz almond meal (3/4 cup)

57 g/2 oz soft butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 tsp. salt  (I used only 1/8 tsp.)                                       
75 g/2.6 oz sugar                                           
75 g/2.6 oz light brown sugar
14 g/2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. almond extract                      
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
3 eggs
124 g/4.4 oz almond flour (1 1/4 cup)
ca. 600 g/21 oz plums, pitted, and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat together sugar, butter, salt, and extracts. Add flours, stirring to make crumbs that cling together when squeezed.

Using a tamper or a flat bottomed cup measure to press the crumbs into the pan

Press crumbs into bottom and up the sides of a 9"/23 cm springform pan, and prick crust all over with a fork. Place crust for 15 minutes in the freezer.

Bake crust until it is just beginning to brown on the edges, 22 minutes. Let it cool on a wire rack (don't turn the oven off).

The almond filling is very easy to make

Beat together butter, salt, sugar, flour, and extracts. Beat in eggs, then add almond flour, stirring just to combine.

Distribute plum halves over the par-baked crust. Pour filling evenly over the plums.

The almond filling covers the plums almost completely

Bake the cake for 40-43 minutes, until the top is lightly browned. Let it cool in the pan on a wire rack.

To serve, remove the ring of the springform pan and transfer the cake to a serving plate. (I usually don't bother to remove it from the bottom of the pan).

In all its glory: Almond Plum Cake

NOTE: The almond plum cake keeps very well, even after 3 days at (not very cool) room temperature it tasted still good!

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts (folgt noch)

Don Sadowsky, author of the wildly popular guest post "Really(?) Authentic Bread"
unearthed this historic WWI-recipe from the very trenches of Verdun. Even though Don's innate modesty doesn't allow him to admit it - his 1914 German Army Kriegsbrot comes pretty close to a really authentic bread!

Karin, you issued a challenge to create a bread honor of Gottfried von Berlichingen, Götz of the Iron Hand. Your friends rose to the challenge, coming up with a variety of imaginative, pretty, and well-crafted breads.

Powered by BannerFans.comNeedless to say, my bread is not any of these things.

Götz was a military man. He spent his time out in the field (when he was not being imprisoned and scratching together money to pay his own ransom).

He didn't eat light and tasty bread prepared by artisan bakers, he consumed rough and ready military bread, baked by someone who two days ago was pulling an arrow out of his leg.

Soldiers in the field needed bread that could be made quickly, could stand the rigors of the field and would last out in the open while the men were out battling.

Taste? Hah! The mercenaries ate whatever bread they could get their hands on, and you can bet that they were given bread made with the cheapest ingredients available (but don’t worry, this is not quite going to be my “authentic bread”).

What to make, then, that would satisfy such draconian requirements? Well, armies have been traveling on their stomachs for millennia, so they must have perfected the art (if art be the proper term).

German soldiers, fortified with kriegsbrot, handle the "Dicke Bertha" canon

And military history buffs can be found in every back alley of the Web, so it was easy for me to reach back just a single century and find a recipe for German Army ration bread (Kriegsbrot) from 1914 at The Trenchline (slightly adapted here - I cannot vouch for its accuracy, but we all know that everything on the Internet is true).

The bread is coarse, rises quickly, has a fair amount of rye (as a good German military bread should) a stiff dough (59% hydration), and would never win any 21st century bread competition, though some concession was made to taste (the soldiers of the Deutsches Heer must have loved their cocoa).

But it wouldn't do to simply copy an existing recipe, no matter how apt, so I made one modification to try to turn the kriegsbrot into something truly honorary of the man of the Iron Hand. Unfortunately it looks more like a tribute to Götz of the Iron Foot, no one ever accused me of being an artiste.

The bread came out about as bricky of a brick as I have ever made. It was dense enough to make a useful trenching tool or to safely intercept shrapnel if held in a fortuitous location.

Eating it made me grumpy enough to go to war (perhaps that was the intent).

In the trenches of Flanders - soldiers made good use of their kriegsbrot


420 g rye flour
369 g white whole wheat flour*)
  43 g cocoa
  13 g/1.5 tbsp. active dry yeast**)
    7 g/1 tbsp. caraway seeds
  34 g/2 tsp. salt
110 g brown sugar
          vegetable oil
  28 g/2 tbsp. butter
473 g/2 cups water

*) It’s what I had, white whole wheat would have been scorned by the                                                   Kaiser's men.

**) I used instant - no slow fermentation here.

Kriegsbrot Dough

Mix flours, cocoa, caraway seed and salt in large bowl.

Mix water, brown sugar, and butter in a sauce pan and heat until dissolved. Cool slightly and add yeast. (Yes, this will rise quickly!)

Mix all of these ingredients in the large bowl and add enough vegetable oil to cover dough ball. Knead until it forms a pliable dough.

Let the dough rest in a warm place and cover it.

Grease and flour a baking sheets (bowing to convenience I used parchment paper)

When the dough has risen 2 hours, punch it down.

Roll into a ball and flatten slightly to a height of about 2 ½ inches.  (This is where I made my modification.)

Lightly brush the top with oil.

Proof for 1-2 hours.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until it is done.

A Swiss army knife kind of a loaf