We’ve had some excellent weather the past couple of weeks here in the Netherlands and the rhubarb in our garden is absolutely flourishing, as are the other crops and flowers. So, I thought it was about time I got some use out of it! I chose to bake a simple but delicious rhubarb cake. The cake batter is flavored with vanilla to balance out the tartness of the rhubarb. I recommend using vanilla paste or extract as vanilla pods are very expensive right now due to a very bad vanilla harvest and many other factors. I like to sprinkle on some extra sugar on top as well as some shaved almonds, but this is optional. You can also change it up with other nuts and flavors (for example a bit of almond extract or some chopped hazelnuts)!
Rhubarb Cake Recipe
Tools: 20x20cm cake tin
200 grams rhubarb
130 grams caster sugar
130 grams softened butter
3 small eggs or 2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
130 grams flour
5 grams baking powder
a handful of shaved almonds
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/355F.
2. Grease and flour the cake tin.
3. To prepare the rhubarb, cut into even sized pieces and wash. Leave to dry in a colander or pat dry with a kitchen towel.
4. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is well incorporated before adding the next. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until incorporated. Don’t overbeat!
5. Pour the batter into the cake tin and level it out with a spatula. Arrange the rhubarb on top, don’t push them into the batter too far. Sprinkle with some extra sugar and the shaved almonds if preferred.
6. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then turn the cake out onto a wire rack. Leave to cool, then serve. This cake is especially tasty with chantilly cream or a dollop of custard!
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.
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