I finally had a day off yesterday. The next issue of DUTCH is pretty much on its way to print, my next column for En Route only needs some polishing, and I have rounded off a few interesting translating assignments. So what did I do during my ‘breather’? I started with a long run. It was fabulous weather, so I really went for it. It felt like I was flying! Unfortunately, I think I need to cut down on my sessions a bit because later that evening my knee was killing me. I honestly don’t know how I slept. Major bummer. It’s better today but still not 100%. Good reason to schedule an appointment with the physiotherapist, which is what I did this morning.
Before the knee pain hit. however, I had a chance to give the house a good scrub. The French doors were filthy! As I was scrubbing them I wondered why I had gone running — it was one heck of a workout! But all my efforts were well worth it. By the end of the day, the house was tidy again, the floors were clean, I had done several laundries… and I even managed to squeeze in baking a cake! One with booze!
For those of you who aren’t Dutch or don’t live in the Netherlands, the cake has brandy-soaked apricots, known as ‘boerenmeisjes’, which translates to ‘farmer girls’ . It is a popular treat in the north of the country and usually enjoyed in a small glass on special occasions. It i also used to top pancakes or ice cream. For added color, I added in some fresh raspberries. The cake has a lovely tender crumb and is perfect with tea in the garden on a sunny day… or scarfed on the couch with one’s feet up after a long day playing Cinderella! Enjoy!
Cake with ‘Boerenmeisjes’ & Raspberries
- 100g soft butter
- 130g raw cane sugar, plus 2 tbsps for sprinkling
- 2 eggs
- 150g boerenmeisjes (brandy-soaked apricots), chopped, plus 2 tbsps brandy
- 150g Greek yogurt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 220g all-purpose flour
- 125g fresh raspberries
Butter and flour a round 20cm springform tin and preheat the oven to 180C. Cream the butter and sugar with a standing or hand-held mixer until pale and creamy. Add in the brandy from the boerenmeisjes and the eggs one by one while continuing to beat. Fold in the yogurt using a wooden spoon. In a bowl, combine the baking powder with the flour. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Fold in the boerenmeisjes and raspberries and pour the batter into the tin. Sprinkle with the 2 tbsps sugar. Pop into the oven and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before cutting.
In France, the gâteau au yaourt is a true classic and part of the repertoire of all home cooks. There’s a wonderful simplicity about this cake. Even children and the most novice of cooks can make it with excellent results. All of the main ingredients are weighed with a pot of yogurt, hence the name. But the charm of this beautiful yogurt cake is in its tender crumb and versatility. You can flavor it with citrus zest, stir in some fruit or serve it with Nutella or jam. A Twitter friend, Jeremie, suggested stirring in blackberries, assuring me it would be a “taste of heaven”.
Though the cake is suitable for almost all occasions, I like to serve it with tea, on pretty plates with a dollop of crème fraîche, fresh strawberries and perhaps a few shavings of dark chocolate.
By the way, you can replace the yogurt with sour cream, Greek yogurt or even crème fraîche. All would work beautifully in this cake.
Happy weekend and enjoy!
Note: Check the 20 minutes into the baking time to make sure the cake is not getting to brown. Should that be the case, cover with aluminum foil.
Gâteau au Yaourt
- 1 pot of yogurt (125 g)
- 2 pots of all-purpose flour
- 2 pots of sugar
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 3 eggs
- ¾ pot sunflower oil
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- zest of 1 organic lemon
Preheat oven to 190° C. Lightly grease a 20 cm springform tin, and dust the sides with flour. In a large bowl whisk all of the ingredients until thoroughly mixed and the batter is smooth and satiny. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool on a rack before unmolding.
November already? Yes — fall is slowly slipping into winter, and the holidays are not that far off anymore. I always look forward to this time of year; planning my Thanksgiving dinner, the anticipation of Christmas, celebrating my daughter’s birthday. There’s so much to look forward to. This year, I am also hoping for a real winter. Although I’m not a fan of cold weather or snow (I can’t walk on snow!), I think it’s time for nature to get back on track. The chances of that happening are pretty slim though. I’m not so sure we’ll ever have a white Christmas again. One thing I can always count on, however, is spending a delicious end of the year with my family, cooking the foods we’ve always loved and coming up with new recipes.
Last Friday I decided to get into the spirit a little early and spent the afternoon listening to Christmas music while baking a cake. I came up with a recipe that I’m sure you will love as much as we did: a lemon-cranberry loaf. My husband, who doesn’t really like sweets and desserts much, keeps telling me how good it is every time I serve him a slice. With its bright red cranberries and tangy glaze, it’s a pretty cake, too. I think it would be perfect for breakfast or coffee this holiday season, so keep it in mind, especially if you’re having family staying over.
Here’s the recipe:
- 230g all-purpose flour
- 6 1/2 tbsps ground almonds
- pinch of salt (preferably fleur de sel)
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- zest of two lemons (you will need the juice of 1 1/2 lemons for the cake, the rest for the glaze)
- 200g soft butter
- 200g sugar
- 4 medium eggs
- 100g dried cranberries, plus extra for decorating
- 125g powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 28 cm rectangular cake pan with baking paper. Mix flour, ground almonds, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Stir in the lemon zest. In a standing mixer, whip the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one to the butter and sugar mixture while letting the machine run. Fold in the dry ingredients in three batches, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Stir in the lemon juice. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool thoroughly on a wire rack. To make the glaze combine the powdered sugar and about 1-2 tbsps lemon juice until the mixture reaches a nice consistency, neither too thick nor too thin. Allow to stand for 15 minutes. Give the glaze a good whisk and pour it over the cake using a spoon. Decorate with the extra cranberries.
This is a rustic kind of cake. Dense and buttery, it’s the type of cake that you serve on a Saturday afternoon when the leaves are golden yellow and red. You can eat it cold, but if you opt for warm, I strongly suggest you serve it with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream.
I can’t take all the credit for this one as it was made after being inspired by a recipe in Julie Andrieu’s book, Les Carnets de Julie. It’s a recipe handed down from a French granny, so you know it’s going to be good. Here’s my version:
Caramelized Apple Cake
- 110g flour
- 110g sugar
- 60g butter, softened
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 40g ground almonds
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into sections
- 100g butter
- 100g light brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 200C and butter an oval 10 1/2 x 8 inch dish. Using a standing mixer, mix the flour, sugar, softened butter, baking powder, ground almonds and egg. Once the dough comes together, take it out of the bowl and spread it over the buttered dish using your fingers. Top with the apples, pressing them into the dough. Bake the cake for 20 minutes. Shortly before the end of the cooking time, put the 100g butter and the light brown sugar in a small saucepan and allow the butter to melt while whisking. Once the mixture is smooth, it is ready. Take the cake out of the oven and pour the caramel sauce over it. Bake for an additional 12-15 minutes. You can serve the cake cold, or warm with a scoop of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.