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.
Christmas is just around the corner and I’m so excited! This past Friday we officially kicked off the holiday season with a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with friends Marit and Kelvin and my son-in-law (well, it kind of feels that way already!). After a huge turkey dinner, we all cozied up on the couch to watch one of my favorite Christmas movies, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation — so, so funny! It was a lovely evening with a highly festive feeling. We even had eggnog and twinkly lights!
There are a lot of cooking plans brewing in my head, and today I want to share one that I tried this morning — my easy cinnamon rolls made with ready-made croissant dough! This recipe saves you a lot of time, so it’s definitely one to keep in mind this busy holiday season. I hope you’ll like them as much as we did!
Easy Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 8 rolls
- a tube of ready-made croissant dough (340g)
- 40g butter (20g melted, 20g softened)
- 50g light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 60g softened cream cheese
- 40g powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180C. Open the tube of dough on a well-floured surface. Cut it in half with a sharp knife and join the two sheets to make on large sheet of approximately 31 x 11 cm. Brush a little of the melted butter over a round Pyrex dish. Brush a little more of melted butter over the dough. Mix the sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the dough. Roll up the dough into a log, from the small side. Place the rolls in the pan with the seams touching and brush with the rest of the melted butter. Bake for 25 minutes. Make the glaze by whisking the softened butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Spread this over the rolls as soon as they come out of the oven. Delicious!
Honestly, I don’t really bake many ‘special’ cakes. The kind with multiple layers temptingly blanketed by sweet, creamy frosting and loaded with enough sugar and calories to make you forget life’s troubles in an instant. No, I hardly bake that kind of cake. It may have something to do with the fact that those kind of cakes require a little more effort, and that baking them ‘just because’ seems a little, well… frivolous. Hans, my husband, gets a double-layer chocolate cake on his birthday, and I’m happy to bake one as a present for a friend, but that’s pretty much it.
I guess you could say that I’m the kind of person who likes to save the good stuff for ‘special occasions’. The Limoges plates and my mother-in-law’s fine linen tablecloth for Christmas dinner, the antique German soup tureen and French silverware for entertaining, the classy jewellery and fancy shoes for business meetings. It is my attempt to keep these treasured items pristine and beautiful. I am also trying to convince myself that I am getting the most out of them this way. If I don’t have something often, I’ll enjoy it more when I do, which is true, to an extent.