Baking · Desserts · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge · Pastry · Uncategorized

Montenegro: Krempita

montenegro-flag-167-pWhen visiting Dubrovnik, one of the excursions that we made was to have a day tour of Montenegro (or at least such parts as can be reached in the course of one day!). For us, the main parts of this focused on the cities (towns?) of Kotor and Budva. Now besides having an extremely delicious bowl of mussels and an extremely entertaining and informative tour guide (who would divert from the standard tour guide spiel with anecdotes about subjects ranging from James Bond to Roman Abramovich’s yacht – complete with two helipads AND two submarines!), one of my aims was to find some Montenegrin cake, and to actually see what they sell in the local bakeries. This delectable delight was one of those treats found. Whilst I didn’t try it on that trip (squishy vanilla slice on long coach trip -bad idea!), I decided that I definitely wanted to try the recipe at home.

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Krempita is essentially a vanilla custard slice, made with 2 layers of puff pastry sandwiched with a thick vanilla custard-cream. I used puff pastry leftover from making allumettes, but this will work perfectly well with ready-made pastry – don’t try and make life life two difficult if you don’t want to! If on the other hand you do want to have a go at making your own, check out the recipe from here.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 32floz/950ml double cream whipped with 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
  • Icing sugar

Preparation:

Heat oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas Mark 6. Roll out each piece of puff pastry slightly  and score into 9 sections. Sandwich each puff pastry sheet between two pieces of parchment paper and two cooling racks, to keep it flat but stillcrispy. Bake for 15 minutes, before removing the top rack and top sheet of parchment paper. Replace rack and continue to bake until golden and crispy throughout, before leaving to cool completely.

Whip the egg yolks and sugar until thick and lemon colored before adding the cornflour and milk and mixing thoroughly. Transfer to a bain-marie and coook gently until the custard thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Dissolve gelatin completely in 1/2 cup cold water and stir into the hot custard until completely dissolved.

Cool the custard in an ice bath, stirring occasionally. If, for some reason, the custard has lumps (from being cooked at too high a temperature or undissolved gelatin), strain it through a sieve.

When the custard is cool and very thick but not yet set, fold in the sweetened whipped cream. Layer over 1 sheet of baked puff pastry and top with second sheet. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before eating. Cut into rectangles and dust with icing sugar before serving.

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Baking · Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Portugal: Cinnamon Custard Cake

Flag of Portugal

Custard forms a huge part of Portuguese patisserie, and is unarguably a central facet in the Portuguese culture. Desserts used to be made primarily by the members of the religious orders in the country, and the story goes that the nuns used so many egg whites to stiffen their outfits that they had to find numerous ways in which to use up the egg yolks, thus starting the prevalence of custard dishes.

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This cake is a combination of a crème caramel and a cinnamon cake, featuring layers of caramel, custard and cake, baked in the oven and turned out. The caramel on the top surprised me; I expected it to be a hard caramel layer, but instead it is a runny caramel (think crème caramel again!). Napkins are therefore essential, but it is still delicious. If made correctly and cooled sufficiently you should have  distinct layers when sliced, so don’t be tempted to rush this cooling stage!

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The recipe is adapted from here.

Cinnamon Custard Cake

Ingredients:

Caramel:

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Custard:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup semi-skimmed milk
  • 1/4 cup of caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp finely grated lemon rind

Cake:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup minus 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup self raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup of semi-skimmed milk
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup minus 1 tbsp of caster sugar (yes, this is needed twice!)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a square pyrex dish. Set aside.

Make the caramel by heating the sugar and water in a pan until it comes to the boil. Turn down the heat slightly and continue to boil until the mixture turns the colour of amber. Do not stir at any point during this as the sugar will crystallise – if you need to move the mixture around then swirl the pan. Pour the mixture into a greased tin and leave to set.

Place all the ingredients for the custard in a bowl. Mix gently until the sugar is completely dissolved, though air bubbles still remain. Strain the custard into the baking pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon together. Beat one portion of the sugar and the egg yolks together until thick and pale. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, mixing well after each addition until the batter is smooth.

In another bowl mix together the egg whites and remaining sugar until it forms stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter until completely incorporated. Pour this mixture over the custard mixture – it should float on top. Use a spatula to smooth the mixture over the top, ensuring there are no gaps which the custard could leak out from. Place the cake pan in a larger tin, half full of hot water and bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes.

Cool the cake down completely before turning out as otherwise the custard will not have set completely and the cake will collapse. When the cake is completely cold, place a plate on top of the pan and invert to turn the cake out. Caramel may leak out at this point so it may be appropriate to do this over the sink.