Baking · Cupcakes · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

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.

Baking · Cake · Cupcakes · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

The Netherlands: Caramel Apple Waffle Cake

Netherlands flag outline

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.

Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Austria: Sachertorte

Flag of Austria

The choice of cake for Austria was very simple: the Sachertorte. One of the most famous Viennese delicacies, no description of Austrian cakes would be complete without mention of this fantastic gateaux.

The story goes that the cake was invented in 1832, then Prinz Wenzel von Metternich asked his head chef to create a magnificent dessert, suitable for serving to many distinguished guests who he would be entertaining that evening. However, due to illness the task actually fell to his 16 year-old apprentice, Franz Sacher. The prince was delighted with the result, reportedly claiming ‘Let there be no shame on me tonight!’ The dessert was the source of much controversy over the correct construction of the cake in the early 20th century, resulting in the Hotel Sacher being granted the rights to use the name ‘The Original Sachertorte’ for their cake.

The recipe below is the original recipe for Sachertorte, taken from the book Viennese Cooking’

Sachertorte

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 3/4 cup (170 g) butter
  • 6 1/2 oz. (180 g) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 3/4 cup (170 g) sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup (120 g) flour
  • 10 egg whites, stiffly beaten
  • 2 tbls. apricot jam

Icing:

  • 1 cup (225 g) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) water
  • 7 oz. (200 g) semi-sweet chocolate

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 275°F(140°C) oven. Grease and line a 8″ cake tin.

Beat the butter until cream and smooth. Melt the chocolate and add to the butter. Add the sugar and stir well. Add the eg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour and mix gently before folding in the egg whites. Pour the mixture into the pre-prepared tin and bake for about an hour. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Slice the cake into two layers. Heat up the apricot jam and spread over the bottom layer, before placing the second layer on top. To make the chocolate icing, heat the sugar and water until it forms thin threads when a spoon is lifted from the pan. Melt the chocolate using a bain-marie, and gradually add the sugar mixture into the melted chocolate. Stir constantly until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Pour on top of the cake, ensuring a smooth finish on both the sides and the top. Serve in small slices with unsweetened whipped cream.

Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

France: Apple Tarte Tatin Cake

Flag of France

France is known throughout the world for its patisserie, with some of the most famous desserts originating from this culture. Macarons, gateaux, eclairs – the list goes on. As a consequence I was really spoilt for choice when designing this cake. I settled on tarte tatin eventually though an artistic point rather than an edible one – I loved the idea of trying to create the decoration out of he top of the cake itself, rather than covering it with other things, as is so often the case.

This cake is a variation on an upside-down cake, a design of cake which is seen as ‘retro’ these days. The bottom of the cake tin is covered with caramel, and the apples are arranged in a flower pattern on the top of this. the cake mix is then placed on top of this and the whole cake is then baked in the oven. A second cake contains a layer of pastry cooked on top of the cake, much like a Bakewell tart. The two cakes are then sandwiched together with caramel creme patisserie, and the finished cake is decorated with sugar decorations.

This cake involves a significant amount of work with hot sugar and caramel so care must be taken. You must not use a springform tin to make the cake as the hot caramel may leak through the joins, causing danger of burns. For your safety, ensure that you use a solid, well greased tin and that you use oven gloves and great care!

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 225g (8oz) salted butter
  • 225g (8oz) golden caster sugar
  • 225g (8oz) self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 60ml (4 tbsp) whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Toffee apple topping:

  • Butter (for greasing)
  • 200g (7oz) caster sugar
  • 3 large Grany Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1cm slices
  • Zest of one large orange

Pastry Disc:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 125g butter, cut into small cubes
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 splash of milk

Caramel Crème Patisserie:

  • 6oz sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 ¼ ounce cornstarch
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ ounce unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Salted Caramel Shards

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 2 pinches sea salt

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line a 9 inch baking tin and set aside.

Heat the sugar and 3 tbsp water in a pan over a high heat until the sugar has dissolved and turned a rich golden brown colour. Do not stir this at any point, as the sugar will crystallise. Remove from the heat and pour into the lined baking tin, ensuring that the base is completely covered. Arrange the apple wedges on the top and cover with a third of the orange zest.

Make the cake by beating the butter, sugar and the rest of the orange zest until fluffy and pale yellow in colour. Mix in the eggs on at a time, before sifting in the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Add the milk and vanilla extract and stir well to combine.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Place a cooling rack over the top of the tin and invert, being careful to avoid any caramel that may fall out. Remove from the tin and set aside to cool completely

To make the pastry disc, sieve the flour and icing sugar into a bowl. Using your fingers, work the cubes of butter into the mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the orange zest. Add the eggs and milk, and mix to form a soft dough. Lightly flour this dough.

Pat the mixture into a thick disc and flour it. Wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface to approximately 5mm thick. Cut the dough to the same size as the cake, and place in the cake tin to ensure an accurate base. Prick all over with a fork and add baking beans to the case to ensure that the pastry does not rise up. Bake in the oven at 180˚C/Gas Mark 4 for about 15-20 minutes, checking constantly to ensure it doesn’t burn.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the pastry circle from the tin and leave to cool on a baking rack.

Combine 5 ounces of the sugar and the water in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, brush down the sides of the pan with water, and boil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until caramelized. The sugar will be fragrant and a deep amber color when it is caramelized. Remove the pan from the heat and dip the bottom into an ice water bath for a second or two. Slowly stir in the milk. Return the pan to low heat and stir until smooth. Increase the heat to medium and heat to a simmer.

Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch and remaining 1 ounce of sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in the egg and yolks. Continue whisking while adding the hot caramel mixture in a thin stream. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it thickens and just comes to a boil. Immediately strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl and stir in the butter and vanilla. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate.

To make the caramel shards, put the water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat up. don’t stir, but swirl the pan occasionally. Allow the sugar to gently caramelise before quickly pouring onto a lined and greased baking sheet. quickly tip the sheet to ensure complete coverage, and sprinkle with sea salt. allow to cool completely before breaking into shards.

Assemble the cake by placing the pastry circle on the serving plate and covering with a layer of caramel crème patisserie. carefully place the cake on top, and decorate with caramel shards.

Baking · Bread · Nation Cake Challenge · North America

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!

Baking · Cake · Central America · Nation Cake Challenge

Mexico: Ricotta, Lime and Vanilla Cake

This delicious cake was taken from the book Wahaca: Mexican Food at Home by the brilliant Thomasina Miers.  One of my favourite restaurants to eat at when in London, she focuses on fresh and simple Mexican street food. This recipe traditionally would use a curd cheese called requeson, however Miers suggests ricotta as a good equivalent. The cake is moist and dense, but surprisingly light and fresh – definitely one to make again!

Ricotta cake 2

Ricotta Cake 1

Ricotta, Lime and Vanilla Cake

Ingredients:

  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 300g ground almonds
  • 65g plain flour
  • grated zest and and juice of six limes
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 300g ricotta cheese

Icing:

  • 75g ricotta cheese
  • 30g butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp grated lime zest

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 2 (300°F/150°C) and grease a 24in springform tin ready for use later. Line the base of the tin with greaseproof paper.

Combine the ground almonds, flour and lime zest in a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together, before beating in the vanilla essence. Mix in the egg yolks one at a time before stirring in the flour mixture. In a different bowl, combine the ricotta and lime juice, before adding to the cake mix and combining well.

Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and then start to fold into the mixture. Use a spoonful to loosen the mixture before folding in the rest, being careful to not take out too much of the air. Place in the cake tin and bake for an hour, until the cake is just set and slightly golden brown. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

To make the icing, beat the butter and ricotta together before beating in the icing sugar and lime zest. Beat with a mixer for several minutes until thick and smooth. Smooth over the cake, and decorate with extra lime zest as required.

Baking · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

The Netherlands: Poffertjes

Netherlands flag outline

Last but by no means least my favourite discovery from the trip to Amsterdam. Poffertjes are little yeasted pancakes, traditionally made with buckwheat flour and served with a variety of toppings. My personal favourite – nutella and icing sugar. However, they are also delicious served with fruit and ice-cream, the freshness of the strawberries cutting through the pancakes.

IMG_20140202_171439_resized

Thankfully these little beauties very easy to make, and so I can now have them whenever I want. Dangerous, but good. If you don’t have a poffertjes pan (as I’m sure most people don’t!) either use a heavy-bottomed frying pan or the bottom of a mini muffin tin on top of the hob – not ideal, but it will work.

Poffertjes 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of milk, warmed
  • 3/4 tsp dried active yeast
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • Icing sugar and ice cream, to serve.

Instructions:

Add the yeast to the warm milk and leave to prove. Mix the flour and eggs together until smooth, and gradually add the milk, beating in until smooth. Add in the salt and leave for 45 minutes to rise.

Heat your pan and lightly grease with butter. Pour a small amount of the mixture into each hole, and cook until the sides are crispy and bubbles form around the side of the mixture. Flip over using a fork or a skewer, and cook for another 30 seconds. Serve hot, sprinkled with icing sugar and ice cream.