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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

Slovakia: Chai Maple Cupcakes

Sometimes the simplest thing can transport you back to a place; a sound, a smell, a taste. It may be something you experienced throughout a holiday, or it maybe something new, something that from that point on becomes inextricably linked to that moment.

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A few days ago I wrote about a recent trip to Bratislava, and my fondness for the cafe Urban Space. I’ve talked enough about the cheesecake, but today I’m going to embellish a little more about my beverage of choice – the Maple Chai Latte. I love this drink. Enough said. In fact I loved it so much, I decided that I needed to make it into a cupcake, that being the ultimate accolade for any foodstuff.

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This recipe was adapted from Naturally Ellathough with a couple of minor changes. These changes were borne out of necessity but still worked well. Primarily I used whole spices as opposed to powdered spiced. I also added some vanilla to the whipped cream rather than the maple to add a contrast. They also went down well with Max who liked it far better than the initial Maple Chai latte (not his favourite drink…) Success all around!

Maple Chai Latte Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Chai Mixture

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground clove
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 whole star anise
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 black tea bags
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ cup 2% or whole milk

Cupcake Batter

  • ¾ cup unbleached flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 large egg

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar

Instructions

In a small pot, combine spices, tea bags, butter, maple syrup, and milk. Bring mixture to a simmer, letting butter melt, and once everything is melted together and warm, remove from heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes. After, remove star anise and tea bags, making sure to squeeze any remaining liquid from the tea bags.

Preheat oven to 350˚ and line a muffin tin with 6 liners. Whisk the egg and then add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt. Stir in the cooled chai mixture and mix until just combined. Divide batter into the muffin tin and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 18-20 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer muffins out of the tin to a rack and finish cooling.

Once muffins are cool, whip the cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract together. Pipe the whipped cream onto the cupcakes and sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon to serve.

Slovenia: Potica

Flag of Slovenia

Sometimes the problems with trying to make a cake specific to a country is that the country has so much variety in the different regions that this is pretty much impossible. Slovenia is a good example of this – according to Wikipedia, the country is split into 23 different culinary regions. As a result, you are never going to find a cake/dessert that is representative of the whole country, so all I can really say is that this cake is a very famous one from the Slovenian country.

Potica 1

Potica is a form of nut roll, very popular though the Balkan countries, and one that has migrated to America, becoming very popular there as well. This recipe features the traditional nut filling, however these can also be filled with chocolate, poppy seed, cottage cheese and more peculiarly, leek and tarragon. The cake is made by first make a dough, which is stretched out very thin. A layer of the nut filling is spread on the cake, before the cake is rolled up tightly. Traditionally (as here) the cake is rolled and placed in a round tin to bake, however it is also possible to bake the cake as a roll.

This recipe is taken from the website of the Slovene National Benefit Society.

Potica

Ingredients:

  • 2oz instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup milk (at room temperature)
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cups butter
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 7 cups plain flour
  • 2 pounds walnuts, chopped
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1-1/2 cups of mlk
  • 2 cups of caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

Dissolve the yeast in the milk and add the sugar, before leaving for 10 minutes. Heat the milk and add the butter to the pan, stirring and then allowing to cool. Beat the egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla essence until pale and thick. Mix the egg and yeast mixtures with 3 cups of sifted flour, adding the rest of the flour until the mixture is no longer sticky. Knead the dough for 15 minutes, adding more flour if needed to ensure that it doesn’t become sticky. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise for about two hours. ( if like me, you have a cold house not suited to rising bread, preheat your oven, turn it off and allow the bread to rise in the residual heat).

Melt the butter before adding milk, sugar and honey. Raise the heat to the boil and pour the mixture over the chopped walnuts, adding the vanilla and grated citrus peel. Stir to combine completely and allow to cool. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and then fold into the cold nut mixture.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4 and grease a loaf tin. Roll out the dough very thinly, before spreading the cooled filling over the dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Start to roll up the dough,stretching slightly with each roll. Once the dough has been fully rolled up, cut the dough to the appropriate length before placing in the ring tin, sealing the ends more completely by pulling the ends down and underneath the roll. Cover and let rise in warm place until double, about one hour. Bake for 1 hour until golden brown.