September 14th and it’s 32C here in the Netherlands. I’m melting away again as I type, so you can only imagine how hot it was in my kitchen this morning while I baked up a new recipe for you (and for us, of course)!
It’s funny how the word ‘September’ immediately means fall to everyone, when, in fact, it’s still summer — officially, until next week. I’ve certainly seen my share of pumpkins, colorful leaves and even Halloween stuff on social media since the first of the month! For me, it’s a bit double. Yes, I like the fall (notice the word ‘like’), but summer is my favorite season, and I hate to see it go.
Interestingly enough, I still jump on the bandwagon. I couldn’t resist buying my first pumpkin at the Ekoplaza last Sunday (to roast, not use as a decoration), and apples and warm spices sure seem to be inspiring me — as you will notice from the following recipe.
These little apple-pecan bundt cakes are beautifully aromatic thanks to a touch of that wonderful French gingerbread spice for pain d’épices. If you don’t have it, feel free to replace it with pumpkin pie spices or Dutch speculaas spices. Both should work well. But oh, let me tell you about the topping! A lightly salted brown sugar & cinnamon glaze is the crowing glory to these very autumnal treats — and I’m not ashamed to admit I licked the pan clean… How could I not?! OK, OK… bring on the fall!
Here’s the recipe:
PS: You can also use a large bundt cake pan to make this recipe.
Apple-Pecan Bundt Cakes with Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Glaze
Makes 6 cakes
- 220g all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp pain d’épices spices
- 250g apple (approx. 1 large or 2 small, peeled, cored and finely chopped )
- 100g pecans, roughly chopped
- 150gr Greek yogurt
- 80 gr butter, melted
- 80g granulated sugar
- 50g light brown sugar
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
For the glaze:
- 50g butter
- 80g brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- good pinch of salt
- 2 heaped tbsps crème fraîche
- powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 180°C and generously butter and flour a mini-bundt cake pan. Using a wooden spoon, mix the flour, baking powder, pain d’épices spices, chopped apples and 90g of the chopped pecans. With a standing or hand-held mixer at medium speed, beat the yogurt, melted butter, sugars and vanilla extract. Beat in each egg one at a time while the machine is still running. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and fold in to combine. Divide the mixture over the bundt tin and bake the cakes for approximately 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the tin before unmolding. When the cakes have cooled, place them on a rack (set on top of a large sheet of baking paper). To make the glaze, heat the butter and sugar in a small saucepan while whisking continuously for approximately 2-3 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Now whisk in the cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt. Remove the pan from the heat and vigorously whisk in the crème fraîche. Add in as much powdered sugar to make a glaze that you like. I prefer my glaze thick but not too thick, so I add about 5 tbsps. Drizzle the glaze over the cakes and top with the rest of the chopped pecans.
A few years ago, a trend swept through France. Everyone (in the food blogging world, that is) was talking about the delectable ‘Gâteau Magique’, a cake very much deserving of that name because it truly is pure magic! Why, you ask? Well, because with one batter made with a few simple ingredients (which everyone probably has in their pantry right now), you can make a beautiful cake with three different textures! The bottom layer is dense and rich, pretty much like a flan. The second layer is smooth and velvety like custard, and the top layer is airy and spongy like a génoise. Together, the three layers form a smooth, creamy union — which, I warn you — is very hard to resist. Because the cake is so light, you may just be tempted to reach for seconds!
The cake is lightly scented with a touch of vanilla and not too sweet. Because of its simplicity, I highly recommend that you use the best ingredients.
It is said that the cake is a cousin of a traditional cake from the South-West of France (my favorite part of France, as you all know!) called ‘Gâteau Millasson’. The Gascon cake was originally made with cornflour, though there are a few very traditional French grannies who could care less and make it with normal flour!
The most important element of this cake is the slow cooking in a low-moderate oven. After baking, let the cake cool at room temperature and then refrigerate for at least half an hour. Serve the cake in all its naked beauty, with only the lightest dusting of powdered sugar. If you want, a few ripe red summer fruits on the side would also complement it well.
Note: you will need a round 26-cm Pyrex oven dish.
- 100g butter
- 4 medium eggs
- 150g powdered sugar
- ½ tsp pure vanilla seeds (or the seeds of one vanilla pod)
- 1 tbsp water
- 120g all-purpose flour
- 500ml whole milk
Preheat oven to 150C. Butter and flour a 26-cm round Pyrex dish. Melt the butter and leave to cool. Warm the milk. Separate the eggs, and in a large bowl lightly whisk the yolks with the powdered sugar, vanilla seeds and water. You don’t want to add volume, just make sure the mixture is nice and creamy. In another large bowl, preferably using an electric mixer, whisk the whites until soft peaks form. Pour the melted butter into the yolk mixture, whisking as you go. Then do the same with the flour. Pour a little of the warm milk into the mixture while whisking and then proceed to add the rest of the milk, whisking the entire time. Now fold in the egg whites in three batches. Do this until they are just combined. A smooth batter is not what you want, in fact, the mixture should look lumpy and somewhat curdled! Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes. Allow to cool at room temperature and refrigerate for at least half an hour before serving. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!
Though they’re available year-round, there’s nothing as delightful as seasonal strawberries. The kind that have had plenty of sunlight and time to grow, and certainly not the imported, golf ball-sized, pale ones you see in plastic boxes at the supermarket in the dead of winter! From the middle of May until approximately the end of July, the beautifully sweet aroma of seasonal Dutch strawberries perfumes many farmers’ markets in the country, enticing all those who walk by to purchase at least a few baskets – one to eat while walking around the stalls, and the rest to take home. It’s best to use them as soon as possible after purchase though; strawberries do not like to sit around for long, especially in a cold refrigerator which will completely ruin their delicate taste and scent.
There’s been a lot of talk of an early spring here in the Netherlands, and I can’t help but nod in agreement. Daffodils are sprouting up everywhere and tree buds look as though they’re ready to embrace the new season any minute now. The sad reality, however, is that it’s still February and winter has a little more than a month to go. Honestly, I am not much of a fan of winter, so as far as I’m concerned, all of these early signs of spring are very uplifting! Wouldn’t it be wonderful, by the way, if Valentine’s Day fell in the (preferably late) spring?