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.

Romania: Amandine Gateaux

Flag of Romania

Whilst being a popular Romanian cake, this dessert seems to me to have a very French air to it, namely the size and style of the cake. Whilst it appears to be a very popular cake within the country, I can’t find any information about how it developed and why it has become so popular – if anyone does have any information please let me know! To add to the confusion, there is also a french Gateau Amandine which includes almonds and apricots. For the moment then, the cake will have to remain a mystery. However, like many mysterious characters, this cake is intriguing and addictive, drawing you back in for more. A very soft cake, soaked with a coffee-flavoured syrup and filled with a chocolate-cream filling. Topped with a chocolate glaze, this is a chocoholics dream, and simply quite delicious.

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Amandine Gateaux

Ingredients:

Sponge Cake:

  • 260g aster sugar
  • 8 eggs
  • 40ml water
  • 50ml oil
  • 30g cocoa
  • 150g all-purpose flour

Chocolate filling:

  • 4 eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 330g unsalted butter , at room temperature
  • 2.5 tbsp cocoa powder

Coffee Syrup:

  • 400ml water
  • 200g sugar
  • 2 tsbp instant coffee

Chocolate Glaze

  • 250g dark chocolate
  • 150ml whipping cream

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4, and grease and line a 13x9in baking tin.

Beat the egg whites and water until they form stiff peaks. Mix in the sugar until it dissolves. In a different bowl, mix together the egg yolks and oil, before folding in the egg whites. Combine the flour and cocoa powder and fold gently into the mixture. until just combined. Bake for about 30 minutes until brown and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

To make the filling, beat the eggs and sugar over a bain-marie until thick and creamy – lifting the whisk out should result in a ribbon trail being left on the surface. Add half the cocoa powder and mix thoroughly. Remove from the heat and chill. Cream the butter and remaining cocoa powder before combining with the chilled egg mixture. Set aside and allow to cool completely.

For the syrup, combine the water and sugar over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the coffee powder and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to allow the granules to dissolve. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool.

To assemble the cake, cut the cooled cake in half horizontally before moistening each part with the coffee syrup. Cover the bottom later of cake with the cocoa filling and place the second layer on top.

Melt the chocolate glaze by heating the chocolate and cream gently until smooth. Set aside for two minutes to allow it to cool slightly before pouring onto the cakes, spreading over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with chocolate toppings and serve with whipped cream if preferred.

Belarus: White Russian Cupcakes

National flag of Belarus with sown field pattern

Belarus does not seem to do cakes. Please disagree with me if you can, but I cannot find any recipes in any of my books or on Google, as as they say – if it’s not on Google, it doesn’t happen! Please take it as a challenge – if you know a good Belarus cake recipe, send it my way and I will happily make it! Until this point, this cake will have to do. However, it thoroughly deserves its place, being very delicious!

The name Belarus literally translates as ‘White Russian’, with may different reasons for that name given – ranging from the race of people which populated the area to the colour of clothes that they wore. It was also mentioned in the official titles of the Russian Tsar, who is styled as ‘Tsar of all the Russias: the great, the little and the white’. There is also a fascinating suggestion that the description of regions by colour is based on the points of the compass: north being white, south – black, east – green and west – red.

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However interesting these facts are, the White Russian in this context refers rather to a cocktail, consisting of vodka, Kahlua (a coffee-flavoured liquor) and cream. The cupcakes are flavoured with coffee, filled with whipped cream and topped with Kahlua frosting. They are then decorated with a chocolate cocktail stirrer, embellished with white chocolate stars and popping candy.

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Note: There is no vodka in this cake due to primarily to personal opinion – I cannot stand it! I have never been able to taste it in the drink itself, so do not feel too bad about leaving it out. However, if you would like to include it I would suggest using a small amount to flavour the whipped cream filling.

White Russian Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 8oz plain flour
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 8oz butter
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsbp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water

Whipped Cream Filling:

  • 100ml whipped cream
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar

Buttercream Frosting:

  • 40g butter
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp kahlua

Chocolate decorations:

  • 10g dark chocolate
  • Popping candy and white chocolate stars

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5, and line a bun tin with paper cases. Cream together the butter and sugar before beating in the eggs. Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix thoroughly until well combined. Spoon into the bun cases and bake for 30 minutes until brown, firm and well-risen.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before continuing.

While the cupcakes are cooking, make the chocolate shapes. On a sheet of greaseproof paper draw out 12 circles using a twopence piece as a guide. Melt the chocolate and spread a small amount on the paper to fill each circle. Pipe a straight line coming out from each circle, making a lollipop shape. Sprinkle with your chosen decorations and leave to set.

Make the whipped cream filling by beating together the cream, icing sugar until thick and creamy. Using a cupcake corer or a sharp knife remove the centre of the cupcake and fill with the vodka-infused cream.

Make the buttercream topping by creaming together the butter and icing sugar until thick and fluffy (about 5 minutes – don’t skimp as this bit is very important!). Add the  Kahlua and mix in thoroughly. Spread or pipe on the top of each cupcake and decorate with the cooled chocolate cocktail stirrers.

Tune back in on Saturday for more chocolate-y goodness, this time from Lithuania!

Iceland: Slöngukaka (Snake Cake with Coffee Buttercream)

The Flag of Iceland, drawn by Ævar Arnfjörð Bj...

Iceland has possibly one of the most descriptive names of any country in the world. Ice-land. You know exactly what you are getting – cold. I always felt that Iceland must feel a little forgotten, the only visitors being the multitude of school trips that descend every year in order to study the many amazing geological features. Now being a little older and wiser, I really want to go myself, however at the moment that wish seems quite far off, so instead I try to imagine myself there by baking this traditional Icelandic cake. Icelandic cuisine has been affected by the cold climate, so vegetables and fruit are not commonly used and spices are also uncommon. However they do like coffee (and coca-cola, but we’ll stick with the coffee for now!), so I wanted a recipe that included this.

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Iceland was a Danish dependency until 1918, and as a result much of the sweet food consumed on the island is Danish in origin. Baking recipes in particular are apparently rare as suitable cooking equipment was not readily available until the early 1900’s. Presented here then is an adaptation of Slöngukaka, otherwise known as snake cake. Named thus because it looks like curled up snakes when cut, it is primarily an Icelandic version of the English Swiss Roll Cake. I decided to adapt the recipe by including coffee in the recipe, a very popular drink in Iceland. This recipe is for a light coffee sponge cake, filled with a coffee buttercream.

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Slöngukaka

Ingredients:

Sponge:

  • 125g plain flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs

Buttercream:

  • 125g icing sugar
  • 40g butter
  • 12ml milk
  • 2 tsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tsp water.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 200C/fan180C/gas 6. Brush the bottom of a swiss roll tin or baking sheet with vegetable oil and line with a piece of baking parchment (cut to fit). Brush the paper with a bit more oil before dusting with a little flour and caster sugar. Set aside.

Beat the sugar and eggs together until they are thick and pale (lifting the beat should leave a trail of the mixture on the top). Sift in half the flour and fold in gently until completely incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour. Fold in one table spoon of lukewarm water before pouring into the prepared tin. Spread the mixture to ensure that it evenly covers the complete surface, and then bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

To make the coffee buttercream, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, before adding in the milk and dissolved coffee. Continue to mix until the buttercream is thick and creamy (about 5 minutes).

Now comes the tricky part – rolling it up! I have had so many cracked rolls it is untrue! However, they still taste good so don’t worry too much! Loosen the sponge from the sheet and turn out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper dusted with a little sugar. Peel the baking paper of the back and discard. Spread the buttercream over the sponge, leaving a small gap all the way around – this will allow the filling to spread as you roll it up! Using the greaseproof paper to help, start rolling (ensuring you keep the roll tight). Leave the Cake to rest seam-side down for a few hours. Decorate with piped melted chocolate if desired.

The recipes for this cake are from Delicious Magazine (Cake) and The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (adapted)

Help for rolling up Swiss Rolls/Icelandic Snake Cakes