Monthly Archives: March 2011

Lazy Sunday with Berlin Air Cake


Sunday morning is my favourite time of the week. It’s not a market day, work day or a school day. There’s no need to run anywhere or wake up early. Perfect for lounging, taking extra time to get out of bed and even longer to have the morning coffee and breakfast. And to top it all off, this Sunday was perfectly sunny – it made my living room nice and warm and so incredibly bright!
Igor was coming over to study in the late morning, so I decided make us some croissants and cappucinos for breakfast. Mmmm…the smell of warm croissants – is there anything better when you’re hungry?

So, I’ve been eyeing this cake on the front page of LCBO’s Food and Drink magazine for a few months now, and Sunday seemed to be a perfect day to try it. So, I decided that while Igor was studying, I’d make this beautiful piece of dessert 🙂 I underestimated the amount of time it would take to make it, so by the time I was finished, I had run out of good daylight…so the pictures had to wait until the next day. I think it would have gone faster had I had three same size cake pans. I only had one, so I had to bake each crust separately…so just the baking alone took 1.5 hours. I must say though, the way it turned out, all the work was so totally worth it!

I also really enjoyed the name of this cake – Berlin Air 🙂 I wonder how that came about. I thought in addition to it being a delicious cake, it could also be a sweet temptation and a greeting to all my dear friends in Berlin 🙂 Of course, leave it to Isabeau to ask if the cake can fly! 🙂 🙂 Well, sure, I said, I could fly – if you threw it at someone 🙂
Ha ha ha!

Other than the fact that this cake takes some time to make (but if you had 3 cake pans, it would take 1/3 of the time), it was actually pretty easy. The crust is simple, and the rest is just a lot of whipping cream. It seems that the “Whip It” stabilizer is quite important because otherwise the whipped cream wouldn’t hold its shape for longer periods. The cake also should be consumed almost immediately, so make sure you share it with your friends and family!
Happy eating! ’till next time – cheerio!

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Click on each photo to view the high resolution images.

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RECIPE

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Berlin Air Cake

Cake

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup (175 mL) unsalted butter
  • 1¾ cups (425 mL) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1¾ cups (425 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
  • ½ cup (125 mL) milk
  • ¾ tsp (4 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) cream of tartar
  • ¾ cup (175 mL) sliced almonds

Filling

  • 1 cup (250 mL) drained canned peaches or mandarin oranges
  • 1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream
  • 1 envelope (10 g) Dr. Oetker Whip it
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Use three 9-inch (23-cm) springform pans or use cake tins lined with enough foil to overlap sides (to be used to lift cakes out); coat pan insides with spray. Separate eggs; set whites aside.

2. Using electric beaters, cream butter with ¾ cup (175 mL) sugar for 5 minutes, or until quite fluffy. Beat in egg yolks 1 at a time. Stir flour with baking powder and salt. Stir milk with vanilla. Using a spatula, stir a third of flour mixture into butter mixture; then stir in half of milk mixture. Repeat; then finish with final third of flour mixture. Divide batter between pans; spread out dough and smooth tops.

3 Using a clean bowl and clean beaters, whip egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted. While beating, slowly add remaining 1 cup (250 mL) sugar. Continue to beat until whites are stiff and glossy. Dividing equally, spread over batter in pans; sprinkle with almonds.

4. Bake in centre of oven for 30 minutes or until top is lightly golden and a cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes; then remove cakes from pans. Place back on rack to cool completely. (Baked cakes can be kept uncovered at room temperature for up to half a day.)

5. To assemble cake, coarsely chop well-drained peaches (or oranges). Pour whipping cream and Whip it into a cold mixing bowl; add 2tbsp (25mL) sugar. Whip cream with electric beaters until firm peaks form when beaters are lifted.

6. Set aside best-looking cake round for top layer. Place 1 round on cake plate; spread with half of cream. Dot with half of fruit. Top with another round. Repeat with cream and fruit.

7. Finally add reserved top layer. Lightly sift icing sugar over top. Uncovered, cake keeps well at room temperature for several hours, but other wise cannot be prepared ahead or frozen.

Serves 10 to 12

© LCBO Food and Drink Magazine

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Stilton and Herb-Cream


I like March. It brings the promise of spring. However, sometimes I wonder if it’s just a cruel joke, because judging by the weather in the last few years, some of the biggest snowfall was in March. Regardless, the sun has been coming out more regularily in the past few days, and the grayness of February seems to be over. So, yay for that! And yay for savoury foods! A few days ago I was slipping through the Holiday version of the LCBO’s Food and Drink magazine and came accross this interesting recipe on Sweet Potato Gnocchi. Gnocchi, for those not in the know, is a traditional Italian meal – little dumplings made out of semolina, regular flour and/or potatoes, and then boiled. Usually served with tomato sauce, pesto, or flavoured melted butter.
Hmmm…I thought to myself…I love sweet potatoes…I love gnocchi…would I love them together? Only one way to find out. I must admit, I wouldn’t think of putting the two together, but at more contemplation, it seems perfectly fitting – gnocchi are made with potatoes, and sweet potato…well, is also a potato 🙂 And, it was one of those ‘ make it from scratch’ recipes, so I was doubly intrigued.

I usually buy gnocchi ready made, so I wanted to see what the difference was between the store-bought and home-made. I would say, at least for my little creations, they tasted a bit harder and chewier than store-bought, and obviously with a touch of sweetness from the sweet potato.
The first time I had home-made gnocchi was when my friend Irene made it for me, and like a true Italian cook, she makes everything from scratch. I watched her do it and was totally blown away. Beside getting the right consistency of the dough, I would think shaping the gnocchi would be the hardest thing about them. Putting the fork in the little blob of dough and rolling it so it curls just the right way, definitely escaped me. Irene, however, did it with such grace, precision and speed…the kind that takes years of practice, I’m sure. Mine on the other hand…looked…well – like the picture above. I would say not bad for my first time…definitely a bit of that ‘artisan’ feel 🙂 I only hope that my Italian friends will still talk to me after this post and hope that I didn’t totally disgrace myself in attempting to make this 🙂 In retrospect, next time I will make them even smaller, because I didn’t factor in the fact that they get bigger once boiled.

Another interesting thing about this recipe was that it included Stilton cheese as an addition to the sauce. Since the LCBO magazine happened to be doing a special on Stilton, this featured recipe also included Stilton. I am also very intrigued by Stilton as I had never used it in cooking previously, so one of the next posts will be more prominently featuring Stilton, as I would like to give it the attention it deserves. Stay tuned for that.
The cream sauce with the infusion of rosemary and thyme, I would say is the perfect addition to the gnocchi, as it adds a touch of savoury to the sweet, and the combination is very pleasing to the palate.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
To next post – cheerio!

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Click on each photo to view the high resolution images.

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RECIPE

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Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Stilton and Herb Sauce

  • 1 1/4 lbs (625 g) sweet potatoes (about 2)
  • 1 egg
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) butter
  • 1 small sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) whipping cream
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 oz (60 g) blue or white Stilton, crumbled
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
2. Scrub sweet potatoes and pierce all over with a fork.  Bake for about 1 hour or until tender.  Transfer to a bowl, cover and let cool completely.  Drain off any liquid and peel off skins.  Mash sweet potatoes and measure 1 1/2 cups (375 ml), reserving any extra for another use.  Place mashed potatoes in a large bowl.
3.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and dust with flour
4.  Stir egg, 1 tsp (5 ml) salt and 1/4 tsp (1 ml) pepper into mashed potatoes.  Stir in 2 cups (500 ml) of flour, 1/2 cup (125 ml) at a time, to make a soft dough.  Gradually stir in enough of the remaining flour until dough forms a ball and is just slightly loose (it will still be sticky).
5.  Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and, with floured hands, knead a few times until smooth.  Divide into 6 portions.  Keeping work surface and hands floured just enough to prevent sticking, roll each portion into a 1/2 inch-thick (1-cm) log.  Cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) lenghts with a floured paring knife.  If desired for a traditional gnocchi shape, dipn tines of a fork into flour, press down across  gnocchi and drag fork toward you letting dough curl round end of fork.  Place gnocchi on floured baking sheets make sure
they don’t touch each other.  Gnocchi can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 3 months.
6.  Just before serving, bring a large pot of water to a boil to cook gnocchi.  Salt the water.
7. Melt buttter over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add onion and garlic and saute for 8 minutes or until starting to turn golden.  Pour in cream and bring to a boil, stirring.  Stir in thyme and rosemary.  Reduce heat and boil for 1 minute or until slightly reduced.  Remove from heat.
8.  Working in batches, add about 15 gnocchi to boiling water and cook, stirring often to keep water moving, for about 3 minutes or until gnocchi float to the surface.  Use a sloted spoon to drain gnocchi well and add to the skillet with cream sauce.  Repeat until all gnocchi are cooked.  Return skillet to medium heat and heat,  stirring gently, until sauce is bubbling.  Remove from heat and fold in Stilton.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately. Serves 6.