This past Thursday it was our king’s birthday and since it was too cold to sell second-hand items on the market I decided I would celebrate by baking a fruity, creamy cake. The fruit on the top is arranged in such a way that it looks like the Dutch flag (red, white and blue) but of course, you can change it to your own flag if your country uses the same colors in its flag (or use different fruits).
Recipe Dutch Flag Whipped Cream Cake
Tools: 20cm springform cake tin, icing knife, mixer with whisk attachment, baking parchment, pastry bag fitted with 1M/star nozzle
zest of 1 orange
whipping cream stabilizer (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180C/355F. Line the bottom of the cake tin with baking parchment, grease the sides of the tin.
Prepare a stainless steel or glass bowl and the whisk attachment(s) by rubbing it down with lemon juice or vinegar. This is to remove any remnants of grease. Then start whisking the egg whites at high speed. When the whites start to foam, add the sugar a tablespoon at a time. Whisk until stiff peaks form. Then turn down to medium-low speed and add the orange zest. Whisk for another 2 minutes. Turn the mixer off and fold the egg yolks into the mixture. Don’t over stir! In a separate bowl, combine flour and cornstarch. Sift into the egg mixture and fold in. Again, be careful not to overmix. Pour into the prepared cake tin. If you see any clusters of flour while pouring, lightly stir them in with a fork. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean (start checking at 20 minutes to be safe). When baked, immediately release from the tin and leave to stand on a wire rack with the baking parchment still on the bottom.
In the meanwhile, prepare your strawberries and whipped cream. Slice the strawberries up, set aside. For the whipped cream, add the sugar to the cream, start whisking at medium speed. While whisking, slowly add the stabilizer (if using). Whisk until you have a firm cream. Set aside in the refrigerator.
When the cake has cooled completely, remove the baking parchment and place on a nice plate/cake stand. Cut in three parts horizontally. Cover one half with whipped cream, add strawberries and blueberries, making sure you have enough left for the top and sides when you’re done. Cover the berries with another layer of cream, then place the second layer of the cake on that. Cover the second layer of cake with the strawberry jam, place the top of the cake on top. Cover the whole cake in whipped cream, arrange strawberries and blueberries to make a Dutch flag. Then fill your pastry bag with star nozzle and pipe rosettes all around the edge of the cake. Place a strawberry and blueberry on each of the rosettes, alternating between berries. Stick the almond shavings to the sides of the cake. Enjoy!
Apparently, you can bake icing with the cookie! Yeah, I wasn’t aware of that either.. It adds a really nice extra texture to a cookie and it looks really great as well. I used a meringue icing on these tangy lemon cookies and boy, do they look delicate!
These cookies are absolutely perfect for a high tea spread, or as Easter is coming up: an Easter dessert table. They are super easy to make with children too!
Lemon and Raspberry Cookies with Baked Meringue Icing Recipe
Source: adapted from Sweet Dreams magazine 2, 2017
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
150 grams icing sugar
a couple of drops of pink food coloring (optional)
3 tablespoons crumbled dried raspberries
Mix the butter, sugar, egg yolk and lemon zest together until combined. Add the flour and knead until a soft dough is formed. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Whip the 2 egg whites until you have a very stiff mixture. Fold in the baking powder, icing sugar and pink food coloring until combined.
Roll out the dough to 4 mm thickness. Cut out fluted rounds with the cookie cutter, re-roll and cut as needed. Place rounds on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Fill a piping bag fit with a small round nozzle with the meringue mixture. Ice the cookies with this mixture. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cookies are a golden brown.
Focaccia is a really easy bread to bake, so good to start with if you’ve never attempted it before. This particular dough is soft, stretchy and will result in a super fluffy bread. You need strong white bread flour and semolina flour. Semolina flour is used to make pasta but also goes very well in bread. It has a high protein content so will create great gluten development. This bread goes great with some hearty soup and also does well at parties with some olive oil to dip in. You can choose whatever topping you like, I’ve also seen yummy focaccias with mozzarella, onions and parmesan. Enjoy!
300 grams strong white bread flour
150 grams semolina flour
300 grams water 20-25 C
45 grams olive oil
4,5 grams instant yeast
8 grams salt
150 grams cherry tomatoes, halved
dried or fresh mixed Italian herbs
fine sea salt
more olive oil
Combine flours, water, olive oil, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Make sure the yeast and salt don’t touch directly. Knead until the dough passes the windowpane test.
Prepare a 13×9 inch baking tray by greasing it with olive oil and lining it with baking parchment. Shape the dough into a ball using oiled hands and place in the baking tray. Cover with greased clingfilm. Leave to proof for 45-60 minutes.
When proofed for the first time, cover the whole bottom of the baking tray with the dough. Push the dough out into every nook and cranny with oiled hands. Cover with greased clingfilm and proof for 20 minutes.
When proofed for the second time, use oiled fingers to create dimples in the dough. Push the cherry tomatoes into the dough skin side down. Sprinkle with herbs, sea salt and lastly with some olive oil. Cover with greased clingfilm and proof another 30 minutes.
In the meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 C.
Once the dough has done proofing the third time place the baking tray in the oven and bake the focaccia for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Take out of the oven, leave in the tray for 5 minutes, then lift it out with the baking parchment and place on a wire rack to cool. It’s best eaten fresh but you can freeze the bread easily in a paper bag.
Last weekend, I got to experience one of the coolest things ever in my life: I went to a 1 Michelin Star restaurant! Nadine and I had participated in a Christmas bread competition in November and Nadine won first place. Part of her prize was a dinner for two at “Sense” restaurant in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and I was lucky enough to be invited along. We made a whole weekend out of it where we slept in a yoga-themed B&B (with awesome breakfast, yoga and bathroom – see my Instagram). It was quite cold and rainy so we also did a bit of shopping. While we were roaming around it turned out the sole of my shoe was broken so I had to buy new ones right away (wet socks anyone?). I also scored some cheap books at a local bookstore (being the bookworm that I am..I scored Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Froer for €5 and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Fowler for €4).
Anyhow, the restaurant was absolutely amazing, although I felt a bit uncomfortable every now and then because it was all very fancy. The food was scrum-diddly-dum-ptious. I have never had a meal so tasty! Everything was extremely well thought out when it came to textures and flavor and just. wow. They had a dumpling that blew my mind. And we had 9 courses in total which was absolutely insane. I’ll scratch it off my bucket list and it’ll go on my list of best things I have ever experienced in my life!
All of the dainty food inspired some dainty baking, therefore I baked these madeleines. They should have “bellies” on the plain side but only one turned out that way for me – they were still delicious. It’s a simple recipe that’s do-able for everyone with a madeleine tin! Dig in!
Recipe French Madeleines
Source: The Weekend Baker by Paul Hollywood
Tools: Madeleine tin
Yields: 20-24 madeleines
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Leave it on low heat until brown flecks start to appear. Take it off the heat, leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease and dust the madeleine tin(s) with flour.
Mix the eggs, vanilla extract and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is very fluffy and light. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda onto the egg mixture and carefully fold it in. Then add the cooled butter and carefully mix it in. Leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Fill the each madeleine mould in the tin 3/4 full with the batter. Bake for 7-10 minutes. Pop them out of the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar. Best eaten on the day of baking.
I know, Sinterklaas has been over and we have to wait another 11 months for the ancient bearded man to arrive again..but while it’s still icy cold and time for a cuppa hot cocoa, I’ll keep dipping those speculaas. I have found speculaas to be an excellent dipping agent 😉
Of course, a perfect pairing for speculaas is mandarin, so I have incorporated mandarin marmalade in this cheesecake for extra pozzezz and tanginess. I have included a recipe for mandarin marmalade below if you can’t find it in your supermarket! It’s easy to make and tastes great on toast with some butter as well…
Mandarin and Speculaas Cheesecake
First published in Dutch the Magazine, november/december 2016 issue.
7 oz. speculaas cookies
⅓ cup unsalted butter, melted
3 cups full-fat cream cheese
¾ cup caster sugar
3 ½ tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mandarin marmalade*
Preheat the oven to 265F. Grease and flour a 9.5 inch springform baking tin, cover the base with baking parchment.
Crush the speculaas cookies into fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and toss until everything is evenly moistened. Transfer the crumbs to the tin and press evenly into the bottom (use a spoon if necessary). Leave to firm up in the fridge.
To make the filling, add cream cheese, sugar, flour and eggs to a bowl and mix until everything is evenly incorporated.
Pour filling into baking tin. Drop in tablespoons of the marmalade, make sure you divide it evenly so that every slice of cheesecake has roughly the same amount of marmalade in it. Place in the oven, bake for about 1 to 1,5 hours. The middle of the cheesecake should still be wobbly. Leave to cool on a wire rack, then transfer to the fridge and leave to set for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight).
* Mandarin Marmalade
1 ½ cup sugar
Simmer the mandarins in plenty of water for 45 minutes.
Quarter and deseed the cooled mandarins and chop them in a food processor fit with a blade attachment.
In a sauce pan, mix the sugar and chopped mandarins and simmer for 35 minutes. Leave to cool and scoop into a jam jar. Store in the fridge.
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