A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to go crazy with the baking again and make two awesome tarts/pies as I was having another birthday party! Both were/are showstopping and absolutely delicious. The first of the two is this amazing lemon meringue tart – no, not a pie because I feel this is a French recipe!
I’m always excited to make lemon-flavored bakes – I love the tartness of lemons and always have. As a kid I would always go for the sourest candies (to be honest I still do). It can never be too sour for me (think blisteringly sour). Don’t worry though, this tart isn’t extremely sour, the tartness is balanced nicely by a good amount of sugar and meringue on top!
If you don’t have a blowtorch, you could put the tart under the grill for a minute to get that nice caramelization on top, but I like the control you get with a torch. Those meringue tips remind me of roasting marshmellows over a campfire, mm….
Lemon Meringue Tart Recipe
Tools: 23cm tart tin (preferably loose bottomed), baking beans, sugar thermometer
100 grams egg white
200 grams caster sugar
70 grams water
To make the pastry, combine flour and sugar. Add the diced butter. If you’re using a food processor with blade attachment, whizz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. You can also use your hands or a fork to rub the butter into the flour mixture – again, it should look like breadcrumbs. Then add the egg and mix or knead until the dough starts to come together. Work the dough as little as possible. Shape dough into a disc and wrap in clingfilm. Chill for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to the thickness of a pound coin. Line the tart tin with the dough and transfer to the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Once chilled, line the pastry case with non-stick baking paper and fill with baking beans or uncooked rice. Bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove the beans and paper and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until it is a golden brown. Remove from the oven but leave the tart shell in the tin.
To make the lemon filling, combine lemon juice, zest, and butter in a saucepan. In a bowl, combine sugar, egg and cornstarch. Melt butter with lemon juice and zest and bring to a boil. Turn heat off, whisk lemon juice mixture into the egg mixture. Pour it back into the saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the mixture has thickened, turn the heat off and leave to cool for a bit.
Fill the cooled tart shell with the lemon filling. Place in the fridge to set.
Once the tart is cold enough, make the meringue topping. Pour egg whites (preferably at room temperature or a little warmer) into a greaseless bowl (make sure your whisk is greaseless as well! you can achieve this by cleaning you utensils/bowls with lemon juice or vinegar).
In a saucepan, combine sugar and water and place a sugar thermometer in the pan. Once the mixture reaches 114C, start whisking the egg whites. Once the mixture has reached 120C, pour it slowly into the egg whites while you’re whisking them. Whisk until the meringue has cooled down.
Fill a piping bag with a nozzle to your liking with the meringue and pipe onto the tart. Alternatively, if you don’t have a piping bag, you could use a (palette) knife to make peaks of meringue. Use a blowtorch to caramelize the meringue on top. Enjoy!
Did you guys see the Great British Bake Off contestants try Dutch stroopwafels? :O Well I wasn’t surprised they found it difficult, they are a staple DUTCH bake of course…But I was still a bit disappointed no-one got them right! Anyway, if you think stroopwafels are a bit too difficult, or if you don’t have a stroopwafel iron, you can try this alternative: delicious syrup filled sandwich cookies or stroopkoeken!
The cookies are absolutely lovely and short – and you could design them with a cookie stamp! Stroopkoeken found in Dutch supermarkets often have a grid pattern which is easily achieved using a ruler or a (clean) credit card. But whatever they look like, they’re going to be freaking delicious!
A good trick with stroopkoeken and stroopwafels is to either eat them warm, or to warm them over a hot cup of tea, coffee or chocolate milk. That way, the syrup is softer and chewier – perfect!
Dutch Syrup Filled Sandwich Cookies (Stroopkoeken)
To make the cookies, cream the butter, sugar, salt and egg together. Add the flour and baking powder and knead until incorporated. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C/355F. Line a baking tin with baking parchment.
When chilled, roll dough to 2mm thickness. Cut out 8cm (fluted) rounds and place them on the prepared baking tin. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until they are a golden brown. Leave cookies to cool on a wire rack.
For the syrup filling, heat the syrup in a saucepan on low fire, then add the rest of the ingredients and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.
To assemble the cookies, spread some of the syrup filling on one cookie, then place another on top, pressing slightly so the filling reaches the edges. Enjoy!
It’s finally my birthday month! I’m celebrating mine and a friend’s birthday with my friends tomorrow, so I’ve baked two pies to mark the occasion. One of them is this delicious Dutch apple pie, which I’ve given a twist to with apricot, walnut and a layer of chopped “bitterkoekjes” (literally “bitter cookies”, a cookie made with bitter almonds, sugar and egg white).
The layer of chopped cookies is meant as an “isolation” layer between the pie bottom and the apples and will make sure the bottom doesn’t get soggy. If you can’t find “bitterkoekjes” you can use amaretti or a similar cookie!
I have found a good, Dutch apple pie is made by absolutely stuffing the pie casing with apples and other fillings. This will keep the sides from shrinking too much and it’s yummy as well!
Dutch Apple Pie with Apricot and Walnuts
Serves 10-12 people
Recipe slightly adapted from De Bakbijbel by Rutger van den Broek
Tools: 24 cm springform tin
350 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
175 grams caster sugar
1/2 egg (set the rest aside for glaze)
250 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
5-6 large pie apples, sliced
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
75 grams walnuts, roasted and chopped
100 grams dried apricots, chopped
150 grams crumbled “bitterkoekjes” or amaretti biscuits
To make the dough, knead all the ingredients (at once!) until you have a coherent dough. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill for at least an hour. In the meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C.
Grease the baking tin and line the bottom with baking parchment. Take 2/3 of the chilled dough and roll out to a circle large enough for the tin. Line the tin with the dough. Put the tin and the remaining 1/3 of the dough in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
For the filling, combine the apple slices, cinnamon, cornstarch and sugar in a bowl. Mix the walnuts and apricots in a separate bowl. Fill the prepared pie casing by sprinkling the “bitterkoekjes” on the bottom and then placing a layer of apple slices on the bottom, then sprinkle some of the apricot and walnut mixture on. Repeat these last two actions until your tin has been filled.
Take the remainder of the dough out of the fridge and roll it into a large rectangle. Cut into strands of your desired width and place them on top of the pie in a lattice pattern, cutting away excess. Re-roll and cut the dough if necessary. Brush the top of the pie with the remaining egg. Bake in the oven for about 65-70 minutes. Enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla sauce!
The last couple of weeks I have been glued to Netflix for a show called “The Bridge” (Bron in Swedish). It is just the best. Some of you may know I have a BA in Swedish, which means that I am watching with more than general interest; it helps me to keep my Swedish on a certain level. Also, since I have studied in Lund (which is quite close to Malmö, where some of the show takes place), I enjoy seeing familiar scenes and it makes me want to go back like, RIGHT NOW! The Germans have a good word for it: “Fernweh” (not homesick but “farsick”).
Anyhow, since I have been watching so much of the show, I though I might bake something Swedish again for a change. Kärleksmums are a bit like brownies but (in this case) with less cocoa, and they are a whole lot fluffier.
The icing is special in that the butter is melted instead of mixed with the icing sugar, which texture-wise might need some getting used to. The name “kärleksmums” is difficult to translate into English, but I have gone with “love treats” – it doesn’t really convey the cuteness of the original word, but so be it. They are to Swedes what snow is to the Inuit: Swedes have a 100 different names for them it seems (but I like kärleksmums the best!).
Instead of shredded coconut you could also use other sprinkles, such as chocolate sprinkles, but I prefer them with coconut! This recipe is from the classic Swedish baking book “Sju Sorters Kakor” (seven types of cake), so I feel this is the most classic of them all. You could adapt the recipe though, by adding some more cocoa or coffee to the batter for example. I hope you’ll enjoy this Swedish staple!
Preheat the oven to 175C. Grease a 33x23cm baking tin and line it with baking parchment.
Melt the butter and set it aside. Mix the sugar and egg until fluffy. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the milk/melted butter and dry ingredients in three portions, one at a time, and mix each time until incorporated. End with a portion of dry ingredients. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin and smoothen with a spatula. Bake for 15 minutes, then leave to cool.
For the icing, melt the butter and mix with the rest of the ingredients. Spread the icing on top of the cooled cake, then sprinkle with shredded coconut. Cut into squares. Enjoy with a warm cup of tea!
It seems the first asparagus was consumed in Egypt, but make no mistake, it is a staple Dutch food as well. The province of Limburg is where most of our asparagus come from, in green or white versions.
Asparagus is harvested in a special way, which is called “asperge steken” in Dutch. They are pulled out of the ground by hand! In this tart, I pair them with eggs, but you could also add ham for a classic combination.
Asparagus and Egg Tart Recipe
450 grams green asparagus
½ cup crème fraîche
4 large eggs
1 cup grated Dutch mature cheese
¼ cup chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste
250 grams puff pastry
Preheat the oven to 390F.
Half the asparagus. Bring plenty of water to a boil in a large pan, add asparagus and cook for 3 minutes or until soft, but not mushy. Drain, then set aside.
In a bowl, mix together the crème fraîche, 2 large eggs, cheese, chives, salt and pepper.
Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Roll the puff pastry out to about 16×7 inches. Fold about 1 inch over on each side, make sure to pinch the seams well.
Spread the crème fraîche mixture onto the pastry. Distribute the asparagus over the tart. Place in the oven, bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is a nice golden brown. The tart can be eaten both warm and cold!
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