Apple and Pear Pan Cake

Apple and Pear Pan Cake This recipe has been stored in my head since I was still a teenager and a student. Continue reading

When I went to live on my own for the first time, my mother offered me a small book of recipes for students. I tried a lot of the recipes in this book but this one has a lot of positive points besides its taste. This light cake can be done in a short time and you don’t even need an oven for it. In this recipe I used pears and apples because they are in season here in Switzerland. This recipe though, can be adapted to many other fruits such as cherries, apricots, pineapple…

Apple and Pear Pan Cake

 

Apple and Pear Pan Cake 

Recipe for 4

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20 min

 

Ingredients:

1 pear (e.g. conference)

1 apple (e.g. braeburn)

2 eggs

1 dl milk

2 tbsp flour

3 tbsp icing sugar

Pinch of salt

1 tsp butter

½ baking powder

 

Recipe:

Peel and core the apple and the pear. Cut them into chunks (about 3 cm long). Melt the butter in a non-stick pan (24 cm diameter is ideal) and add the fruits to brown for five minutes on medium heat. The fruits should cover the bottom surface of the pan

In a bowl put the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl mix the eggs and the milk and add them to the dry ingredients; whisk until smooth and even. Pour into the pan and lower heat to medium-low. Cover and leave to cook for about 15 min. When the center of the cake has become solid and the bottom is nice and brown, the cake is done.

Place a plate on the pan and flip it. Serve warm or at room temperature and garnish with icing sugar or honey and why not maybe some chopped nuts.

Torta di Pane – Bread Cake / Pudding from Ticino

Torta di Pane 1This cake reminds me of the mountain. I don’t know why but as a kid my parents always had some when we were up in the very rustic mountain hut in the middle of the Alps (a granite building from the 18th century at 1900 meters). Continue reading

For us, more or less it was the only time of the year where it was a tradition to have it. This typical recipe from my canton is the poor man’s recipe and it’s a way to recycle stale bread. I know it’s an easy recipe but I felt that with this cake, expectations were high. Over here, this is the kind of recipe where people always tend to answer something like this:

‘I only eat my grandma’s torta di pane.’

‘My aunt is the best at making the torta di pane.’

‘My Mum makes an amazing torta di pane.’

I really wanted to try so I sat down in front of four different versions of the cake. The first version is one I dearly kept aside until I actually tried this ‘torta’ the other day. This recipe comes from a family friend: Lori. Traditionally people use sultanas with candied fruits, instead in her version she uses dried apricots (which I prefer) and candied fruits. Then, I had a look at two book versions with totally different amounts of milk (one 0.5 l the other 1 l) and one added pine nuts while the other went for almonds. I think I wanted to get a bit more confused because I went for a last reference on the internet and found a last recipe which I actually really liked: http://pandipane.blogspot.ch/2013/10/la-torta-di-pane-della-mia-nonna.html (site in Italian language). My rules for the cake were that it should be moist and the taste of cocoa should be noticeable but not overwhelming and I loved the addition of apricots instead of sultanas. Once the cake was ready I got three people to taste it: my boyfriend and two other friends. The three liked it and the only comment I got was from by boyfriend who said it needed a bit more sugar… He’s got a pretty sweet tooth though. So if this is your case, you can go ahead and add a bit more sugar. The flavour of the ‘Torta di Pane’ reminds me my childhood and maybe this is also why I really enjoyed it. I hope you will like it too.

Torta di Pane 4

 

Torta di Pane – Bread Cake / Pudding from Ticino

For a 26-28 cm round cake mold

Prep time: 20 min (plus soaking time)

Cook time: about 1 hour

 

Ingredients:

200 g stale bread

100 g amaretti

7 dl milk

1 vanilla pod

100 g dried apricots (the sour kind) – alternatively use sultanas and/or candied fruits

Zest of 1 small lemon

100 g pine nuts

6 tbsp cocoa

2 eggs

100 g sugar

50 g melted butter

A dash of grappa (optional)

Icing Sugar (optional)

 

Recipe:

In a bowl or container break the bread into small pieces and add the amaretti.

Put the milk in a pan. Incise the vanilla pod by its length, add to the milk and bring to a boil. Once ready pour over the stale bread and amaretti and leave to soak ideally over night but a few hours can do too. You can leave the vanilla pod in, just remember to remove it once the bread and biscuits have soaked.

Chop the dried apricots and place them in a cup. Add hot water and leave them to soak for a couple of hours.

Heat oven at 190°C.

Once the bread and amaretti have soaked, mash them with a fork until the mass looks like poultice.  Drain the apricots and add them to the bread preparation along with the cocoa, the lemon zest, and ¾ of the pine nuts.

In a separate bowl  mix well the eggs and the sugar and add the butter and eventually the grappa. Pour over the rest and mix the ingredients until the mass looks even; you can either use your hands or a spatula.

Grease the sides of a cake tin and dust with flour. Line the bottom of the cake tin with oven paper. Transfer the preparation to the cake tin and even out the surface. Add the remaining pine nuts and place in the oven for about 1 hour.

Once ready leave to cool before removing from mold. Eventually sprinkle surface with icing sugar.

 

Amor Polenta Cake

36. Amor Polenta 3 (800 x 600)It was only a couple of months ago that I first tried a polenta cake. Continue reading

I took a friend of mine to one of my favorite restaurants, at the Grotto Lafranchi in my Valley Maggia. It’s a place I just like everything about: the food is delicious and the atmosphere is so friendly (this is a must for me, I’d rather have so-so food but a great environment than the other way round). Since I go there often since a couple of years I know the small team and the chef proposed us one preview of the autumn desserts: the Amor Polenta. He served us this cake with a white chocolate sauce and pink peppercorns. The little crunch the polenta gives to this cake is why I fell for it so I decided to make my own. I went online and looked for a few different recipes ( imenudibenedetta.blogspot.com and gusto-arte.fr) and had a look in my cookbooks for tips on making a good pound cake and worked on this recipe. I was happy with the result although my version of the cake was a sweeter than the one I remember tasting and since I serve it without the white chocolate sauce it works well this way. Anyway this is an easy but delicious cake which I ended up eating more than I would have liked to…

About the Amor Polenta:

I would have liked to know more about the origins and myths tied to this cake but I have found not particular historic references. I found out that this recipe comes from northern Italy, from Varese, in fact it is also called “Dolce di Varese”.  Originally this recipe it was something the poor would make and traditionally this recipe is made in a long cake pan with a fluted base (source: www.pasticceriasieni.it)

36. Amor Poolenta 1 (800 x 497)

Amor Polenta Cake

Recipe for a 20 cm cake mold

Prep time : 15 min

Cook time : 40-45 min

 

Ingredients :

100 g powdered sugar

100 g butter (remove from fridge a couple of hours before use) + more to grease the mold

40 g wheat starch

40 g white flour + more for the mold

80 g fine grain polenta

2 eggs

1 yolk

1 vanilla pod

½ bag dry yeast

1 pinch salt

(optional : 1 grated lemon zest or a shot of liquor such as Kirsch)

 

Recipe :

Heat oven at 180°C.

Sift the wheat starch with the flour and the yeast.

Split the vanilla pod and remove the seeds.

In a bowl place the sugar and the butter.  Cream them together for 5 min. Start adding the eggs and the yolk one at the time. While mixing, now add the flour/starch mix little by little to the rest. Next add the vanilla, the salt, the polenta and the ground almonds.

Take a 20 cm baking tin. First rub the butter on the inside and then coat with flour. Pour the preparation into the tin and bake for about 45 min (my over is pretty warm so I had to turn the heat down a little towards the end, you might want to consider how yours works too). When you insert a toothpick in the cake and it comes out dry the cake is ready. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 10 min. Remove from the tin and leave to cool for 30 min before serving.

Prättigauer Pitte: a Swiss Brioche

Prättigauer Pitte (800 x 800)

I had an almost totally spontaneous Monday; the only thing I had planned was this recipe. Continue reading

I was supposed to have coffee with a friend and as we were both off we ended up cooking and chatting for many, many hours. We ended up having lunch at four o’clock (even for Spanish standards this is late, and this friend of mine  is Spanish). Anyway this recipe is comes from the canton Graubünden; if you need a hint, think of St Moritz, Davos or Laax. I found the Prättigauer Pitte in one of my mother’s cookbooks and thought it would be interesting to try this specialty of Prättigau, in the Graubünden canton, in Switzerland. This recipe is a kind of Swiss interpretation of the brioche we all know. One more thing is that the traditional recipe uses dried pears soaked overnight in water while I used fresh pears because in my valley I could not find the other kind.

About the Brioche:

The information I found about the brioche on the site http://www.lagourmandise.net/history.htm is really complete so I thought that I would just report the whole passage:

“The word brioche first appeared in print in 1404, and this bread is believed to have sprung from a traditional Norman recipe. It is argued that brioche is probably of a Roman origin, since a very similar sort of sweet holiday bread is made in Romania (“sărălie“). The cooking method and tradition of using it during big holidays resembles the culture surrounding the brioche so much that it is difficult to doubt same origin of both foods. It is often served as a pastry or as the basis of a dessert, with many local variations in added ingredients, fillings and toppings. It is also used with savory preparations, particularly with foie gras, and is used in some meat dishes.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in his 1783 autobiography Confessions, relates that “a great princess” is said to have advised, with regard to starving peasants, “S’ils n’ont plus de pain, qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, commonly translated as “If they have no bread, let them eat cake”. This saying is commonly mis-attributed to the ill-fated Queen Marie-Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI; it has been speculated that he was actually referring to Maria Theresa of Spain, the wife of Louis XIV, or various other aristocrats.”

 

Prättigauer Pitte (for a 25 cm diameter cake dish)

Prep time:20 min

Cook time: 35 min

Rest time: 3-4 hours

 

Ingredients :

 

2 small pears or 1 large one

350g flour

6 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

100g butter (plus more for greasing)

1 egg

1 ½ dl tepid milk

20g fresh yeast (or equivalent)

1 beaten egg white

1tbsp sugar crystals

2tbsp slivered almonds

 

Recipe :

In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar and salt.

Add the yeast to the milk and leave to dissolve (it’s even better if you can leave it for 10-15 min).

Melt the butter either in the microwave or in a bain-marie and leave to cool. Once the temperature has dropped add the egg and whisk.

Add the milk with the yeast to the butter and egg.

Peel the pear(s) and cut into small cubes.

Add little by little the wet ingredients to the dry and blend together until the dough is elastic (about 10 min). Add the pear pieces and quickly blend again. In a greased cake tin (about 25cm diameter) place the dough a spread it evenly. Leave to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in height (this process took me about four hours with instant dry yeast).

Heat the oven at 180°C.

Brush the top of the dough with the egg white and sprinkle the sugar crystals and the slivered almonds.

Place in the oven for 35 min. Once ready leave to cool a bit before removing from the mold.

 

 

Basic Chocolate Cake


Basic Chocolate Cake

I generally try not to give in when it comes to sweet stuff but chocolate; I can’t resist chocolate. Chocolate as probably many know had a role during ceremonies of Mayan and Aztec civilizations. It was mixed with spices like chilli and it was consumed only on special occasions there was no milk in this recipe as it is the Europeans who began consuming cocoa this way). It was the Spanish who brought the bean to Europe. When products are a novelty, they are at first consumed by the more privileged members of society and later they reach the rest of the population; this was also the case for chocolate. I knew it was something very much appreciated in the French court but I read some time ago that chocolate was introduced as early as the time of Louis XIII (first part of the 17th century). Gradually the use of chocolate as a drink spread throughout Europe and in London in 1674 a coffee house proposed it in pastries. Being Swiss I felt like I had to give some attention to chocolate; after all we are the biggest consumers in the world and I can say that my boyfriend and I proudly contribute to keep up the average.

Continue reading

So he came over to my place yesterday and about once a month I tell him to get the ice cream and I bake this chocolate cake. We always end up finishing it all and I always end up feeling slightly guilty afterwards. I say slightly guilty because this cake is light in its genre. I really like this recipe because it has a really chocolaty taste. This recipe is a base but you can add raspberries or bananas or almonds prior to baking or serve it with some jam or again, with ice cream it’s our favourite (the stracciatella flavour is my absolutely favourite).


Basic chocolate cake

3-4 people


Ingredients:

80 g dark chocolate

50 g sugar

40 g flour

2 eggs

40 g butter

½ packet of yeast

Icing sugar

 


Recipe:

Heat oven tat 180 C°

Melt the chocolate and the butter in a bain-marie.

Divide the egg white from the yolk.

Add the eggs the sugar and the flour to the melted chocolate. Mix until the preparation is more or less even.

Whisk the egg whites to peak and add them gently to the chocolate preparation. Blend the two together lifting the chocolate over the egg whites.

Pour into a greased cake mould and place it in the oven for 18 minutes.