Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosnian Coffee-Lokum Cupcakes

Coffee culture is BIG in Bosnia, to the extent that ‘sit and drink coffee’ regularly appears on lists of ‘must dos’ for visitors to the country. However, unlike us here in Britain, coffee culture revolves not around large to-go chains of coffee, but rather around an hour-long ritual, which places the whole process at the centre of Bosnian life.

Coffee time is very important in Bosnian society, being the time of day when friends and families congregate round the kitchen, enjoying their drink. The process is slow, leisurely and allows the drinker a bit of time to relax from the stresses of the day. The process of making the coffee is as complex and steeped in tradition as the Japanese tea-drinking rituals, and with almost as many steps!

Now if this was to be completely traditional, the coffee would  need to be made in the traditional way; heating the water, adding the coffee and adding the froth bit by bit. However, as this is a cake recipe strong coffee will serve the purpose adequately (though if you wish for it to be completely authentic, a recipe is here). The cakes also include Turkish delight or lokum, the traditional accompaniment to this very strong drink.

Bosnian Coffee-Lokum Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 4oz butter
  • 4oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4oz self raising flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee powder
  • 2 tsbp boiling water
  • 80g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 20ml ml milk
  • 1 tbsp rosewater
  • 8 pieces of Turkish Delight, chopped.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5, and line a cupcake tin with liners. Make a traditional cupcake mix by creaming together the butter and sugar, before beating in the eggs one by one. Sift in the flour, and stir in the vanilla essence. Pour the boiling water over the coffee grinds and stir to dissolve, before mixing into the cake mixture. Spoon into the cupcake liners and bake in oven for 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the cupcake tin and leaving to cool completely.

Beat the butter and icing sugar, until light and fluffy. Add in the milk and beat for 5 minutes until thick, light and fluffy. Add in the rosewater and beat until combined. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe onto each of the cupcakes before decorating with a small square of Turkish delight.

The Netherlands: Caramel Apple Waffle Cake

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When I was younger, my father usd to go to the Fotokina trade shows in Amsterdam every year, and when he returned he would invariably have brought us back stroopwafels, the iconic caramel waffle biscuits flavoured with cinnamon. Whilst relatively commonplace in England today, back then they were a novelty, and we used to excitedly anticipate his return with these lovely little biscuits. This following cake takes inspiration from these treats, and combines them with sticky caramel apples (to allow you to feel slightly more virtuous!)

The cake is made in a waffle maker, which makes this cake very quick to make in comparisons to many others. These are layered with caramel apples and a salted caramel cream.

Caramel Apple Waffle Cake

Ingredients:

Cake Waffles

  • 4oz plain flour
  • 4oz caster sugar
  • 4oz butter
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs

Caramel Apples:

  • 2oz butter
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 dessert apples

Salted Caramel Creme Filling (taken from here):

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups of icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup of caramel

To make the cake waffles, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla essence and eggs and mix thoroughly before sifting in the flour and baking powder. Beat the mixture until a smooth batter is formed –  add a tablespoon of water if the btter is too thick. Preheat your waffle maker and make the waffles following the instructions specific to your model. As a general guide the waffles will likely take about 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool whilst you make the other components of the cake.

To make the caramel creme filling first beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and salt and cream together before adding the caramel. Combine the mixture and keep cool until needed.

Make the caramel apples by peeling and coring the apples before cutting them into segments. Melt the butter in a pan before adding the apples and caster sugar. Cook or about 10 minutes, tuning occasionally until the apples are caramelised.

Assemble the cakes by spreading a waffle with the caramel cream and adding a layer of caramel apples. Spread a second waffle with the caramel cream and decorate with apple slices before placing on the top to complete the cake.

Wedding Cake(s)

As a cake-focused blogger, when you get married the cake is going to be a central aspect of an ceremony. But what happens when you can’t narrow the different types down?

Well, this.

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I knew as a slightly fanatical baker, that I wanted cake to be a central feature of my wedding, and so I decided to have a Great British Bake-Off style cake competition. So I suggested the ideas to my guests, and as you can tell they responded fantastically.

The contestants were asked to bring and decorate  a cake of their choice, with two prize being awarded – one for taste and one for decoration. Here are some of the amazing entries we had!

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Gluten-Free Fruit Cake – Winner of the decoration prize!

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French Chocolate Cake

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Multi-coloured Marble Cake

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Cappuccino Cake

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Guinness Cake

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Victoria Sandwich ‘Bundt-ing’ Cake

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My grandmother’s fruit cake

And obviously every wedding needs the official cake (chocolate of course!)

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Mint Humbug Cupcakes

Old fashioned mint sweets are gradually going out of fashion in the UK. They are regarded as being a particularly old-fashioned sweet, and the new innovations in confectionary techniques and flavours have tended to drive people towards to newer types of sweets. Humbugs though, still have a particular vintage appeal to them, and one that still is appealing today.

Mint Humbug Cupcake

 

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Another Hummingbird Bakery recipe, this one takes the traditional boiled sweet, the mint humbug and develops this into a cupcake. I was dubious about this – I often find caramel very sweet, but in this recipe the peppermint goes someway to cutting through the sweetness. The recipe suggests topping them with crushed mint humbugs, but I used rice paper butterflies to top the cupcakes – I couldn’t face any more sugar in them!

Mint Humbug Cupcake 2

Mint Humbug Cupcakes

Instructions:

Cake:

  • 70g butter, softened.
  • 210g plain flour
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 210 ml whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint essence
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50g tinned caramel

Frosting:

  • 500g icing sugar
  • 160g butter, softened
  • 50ml milk
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint essence
  • 20g tinned caramel

Ingredients:

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3, and line a cupcake tin with liners. Set aside for later.

Beat together the butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until they form crumbs. Mix the eggs, milk and peppermint essence together in a separate bowl and when well-combined, start adding to the dry ingredients, slowly and mixing well after each addition. Beat the mixture until a smooth batter is formed. Add the caramel and mix in until well-distributed through the mixture.

Fill the cupcake cases to 2/3’s full, and bake for 30 minutes until form and well risen. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.

Make the frosting by beating together the butter, icing sugar and milk with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the peppermint essence and caramel and beat until completely combined. Transfer to a piping bag and pip a swirl onto the top of each cupcake,before decorating as you prefer.

The United States of America: Chilli Cumin Cornbread

Cornbread s described by the Hummingbird Bakery (from which this recipe is taken) as the ultimate cheats bread – it’s quick, needs no rising and can be on the table in under an hour. I love standard cornbread, but this one is a step above. Flavoured with chilli and cumin, and with the addition of sweetcorn to add texture, this loaf is excellent to eat as an accompaniment to chowders or soup, with cheese as part of a salad lunch or just on its own, warm from the oven with melted butter.

Chilli Cumin Cornbread

Chilli Cumin Cornbread

Ingredients:

  • 20g ground cumin
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 60g polenta
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pinch of groud black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 90g sour cream
  • 100ml milk
  • 120g sweetcon (defrosted if frozen)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4 and grease and line a a loaf tin with baking parchment.

Mix the dry ingredients together until well combined. In a separate bowl, mix together the sour cream, milk and eggs and then add to the dry ingredients. Beat the mixture together until a batter forms. Add the sweetcorn and mix briefly to ensure an even spread.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for about 30 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Take it out of the oven and cool briefly in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack  and cooling further – if you can wait that long!

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

I am not always the most patient person in the world. Some things don’t bother me. Transport delays don’t really bother me – I’m generally hideously early so it’s rare that a delay is ever a real problem.

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However, when it comes to baking I have no patience. And that is a real problem. Baking is all about patience – waiting for bread to rise, waiting for pies to cook, waiting for cakes to cool in preparation for icing. There is no short cut, you’ve got to let it happen at its own speed. And sadly that’s where I fall short.

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Cookies are generally a quick thing to make – a great thing to make after work when you just need a quick fix, right? Well sort of. These are very simple to make, but they do require patience. You have to wait for them to chill, bake and then cool. And you have to let these cool. It may take all your willpower to do this but it will be worth it.

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Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3oz plain flour
  • 1oz cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3oz caster sugar
  • 1oz butter
  • 1 egg
  • 10ml kahlua
  • 1 3/4oz icing sugar

Instructions:

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together before stirring in the sugar. Rub the butter into the mixture using your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Mix the egg and kahlua together and add to the butter and dry ingredients. Stir until a dough is formed – this will take MUCH longer than you think! It will come together though, so don’t feel the need to add any more liquid – it will make the mixture too loose. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Take walnut sized pieces of the mixture and roll into balls, and then cover with the icing sugar. Be generous as this will give  the cookies the lovely crispy sugar coating. Place the round cookies onto the baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, until cracked on the top and firm to the touch. Cool the cookies before serving (if you can wait long enough!)

Tranche Noix de Coco

French term for coconut biscuits. This recipe is taken from the patisserie textbook for Le Cordon Bleu and the biscuits are described as having  influences from Southeast Asia and India (due to the use of coconut), but the overall style is definitely French Classical regardless of the ingredients.

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It also includes several techniques including the  making of a sweet pastry and a Swiss meringue. However, the most stressful aspect had to be dipping the biscuits in chocolate – Oh my goodness. They just kept falling apart! However, even if they do, the end result still tastes good!

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Tranche Noix de Coco

Ingredients:

Sweet pastry:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 125g icing sugar
  • Apricot (or Raspberry) jam, melted.

Swiss meringue:

  • 5 egg whites
  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 200g dessicated coconut
  • 15g plain flour
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 300g dark chocolate, melted.

Instructions:

Mix the powdered sugar and salt together and make a well. Add the softened butter to the centre of the well and start working the sugar into the butter with your fingers until the mixture is creamy. Using a wooden spoon, mix the egg yolks and vanilla essence into the butter/sugar mix and beat to combine. Start adding the flour gradually until a smooth paste is formed, mixing to create a loose dough. Smear the dough away from yourself (against the side of the bowl) until no lumps are left in the mixture. Wrap the mixture in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer.

Roll the dough out on a lined baking sheet, pricking all over with a fork and bake in an oven preheated to 180°C for about 20 minutes (until just starting to turn golden brown). At this point, remove from the oven and spread with the melted fruit jam. Leave to cool and then brush with another layer of the jam. Reduce the oven to 130°C.

Make the Swiss meringue by placing the sugar and egg whites in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water and beat until the mixture is hot to the touch (about 55°C if you have a sugar thermometer). remove from the heat and continue whisking until cool. Mix the coconut, flour and vanilla essence and then fold into the meringue mixture, then spread onto the pastry base. Bake in the cooler oven for 30 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Once cool, cut into bars or shapes and dip into the melted chocolate.