Pecan and Chocolate Babka

This last month was packed with traveling. We spent 2 weeks in Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania. I had travelled there 8 years ago and having had the best memories of my time spent there always wanted to go back. It was, again, such a magical and relaxing time that I am still drawing a lot of energy from. But I promise to tell more soon - at the moment I am still rummaging through hundreds of pictures that I took.

Never having been to Paris (I grew up in Brussels, yet never managed to take the 1 hour train ride over to France), I jumped at the chance, when one of my friends decided to run the Paris Marathon. And NO, I didn't run a marathon. I simply went to cheer her on - and to eat a lot of baguette and cheese. And that I did. Very successfully.

After Paris came Tyrol, a part of the alps stretching through Austria and Italy. We went there to spend a weekend with his family. Staying in a little cabin in the middle of the mountains was amazing. I always find it such a fascinating and humbling experience being in the alps, feeling dwarfed by giant snow-capped mountains.   

As it was Easter we had a LOT of food. Family dinner included a big lamb roast with beans and potatoes. We bought some cured ham which is very traditional in that region, plus makes for a very good hiking snack. On Easter Sunday, I decided to bake a babka. In the end it turned out so big, it wouldn't fit into the tin, so it ended up a bit more like a German 'Hefezopf' (braided yeast bun). 


Ingredients

Dough

  • 3 cups white spelt flour
  • 1 + 1/4 cups white wheat flour
  • 1 + 1/2 sachets (10g) dry instant yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup butter at room temperature
  • optional: pinch of vanilla and nutmeg

Filling

  • 150g (1 + 1/2 bars) quality dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup pecans, roughly chopped or crushed


Recipe

1. Mix the two flours, instant yeast, salt and sugar in a big bowl. You can add a pinch of nutmeg and vanilla if you want.

2. Heat the milk so that it is lukewarm. Add the milk to the flour, as well as the eggs, knead with your hands until the dough comes together. 

3. Transfer dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10minutes until it becomes smooth and flexible. 

4. Now spread the dough with your hands and add 1/3 of the butter. Knead in so the butter is well incorporated. Use more flour to dust if necessary. Continue with the rest of the butter until all is incorporated and you have a smooth and elastic dough. 

5. Place in a clean bowl, cover with a cloth and let rest in a warm place for about 1 hour. The dough should be doubled in size. 

6. In the meantime make the filling: Finely chop or roughly grate the chocolate, mix with the butter and the sugar. Roughly chop the pecans. 

7. Roll the dough out on a floured surface. It should be rolled out into a rectangle, with one longer and one shorter side. Spread on the chocolate filling and sprinkle with the pecans. 

8. Halve the dough lengthwise, roll each half up from the longer side. Attach one end of each roll to the other by just pressing together the ends of the dough. Now halve each roll by cutting about 2-3cm from the just combined end. You will get 4 strands of dough which are attached to each other at the top. 

9. Plaiting the dough: Start by crossing the outer strands over the inner ones. Then cross the inner ones. Keep on doing that until you come to the end, press together the ends of the rolls. In the end it doesn't really matter that you plait them in a regular way, when the dough rises and it is baked you won't notice any irregularities. 

10. Carefully transfer the plaited dough onto a tray lined with baking paper, or into a cake tin. I baked mine without a tin, cause it was too big to fit in. Cover with a cloth and let rise for another 30min. 

11. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C fan. Bake for 20-25min. If it get's too dark too quickly, loosely cover with aluminium foil for the rest of the baking time.


This babka is a great snack to bake for a hiking trip, wrapped in foil it will keep well for 24hours. Filled with dark chocolate and pecans it's not too sweet yet satisfies my sweet-tooth-needs. 

Banana Bread with Plums

Even though Indian summer has made a strong comeback, there are definite signs of autumn. Mushrooms, apples, grapes, and yes, plums! We didn't harvest this many this year, or lets say, a lot of plums came with a little unwanted house worm cozying up inside. But some of them luckily made it into my kitchen and into this cake. 

And lucky I was, cause this recipe was actually written at the request of a very dear friend of mine, who recently decided to go vegan and instructed (yes, she was very firm) me to come up with a way to combine several of her current food crushes: banana bread and plum-cake. So, here we go! 

 

Ingredients

  • 4 medium overripe bananas (roughly 300g mashed)
  • 180g white spelt flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 120ml coconut oil, melted
  • 100g coconut blossom sugar, or sweetener of your choice
  • 1/2 tonka bean or 1tsp vanilla
  • 1/4tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 200g plums

 

 

 

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan. Halve and deseed the plums, coat them in 1tbsp of the sugar and let them soak. Peel and finely mash the bananas with a fork or a hand blender. Mix with the sugar. 

2. Melt the coconut oil and whisk into the banana mash until well combined. Mix in the spices.

3. Sieve the flour and baking powder directly into the banana-mixture and fold in, so there are no lumps. 

4. Grease and line a cake tin with baking paper (I used a 23cm wide one) and pour in the batter.

5. Now place the plums on the batter, cut side up. 

6. Bake for 30-35Min. (If you are using a larger cake tin, the cake will be flatter and cook more quickly) until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

7. Let the cake slightly cool down, before taking out of the tin. Serve warm with coconut yoghurt, or whipped coconut cream.  

Cacao Sourdough Bread with Hazelnuts and Sour Cherrie

Writing this recipe has been long overdue. I have made this bread every week now for the last 3 weeks and I still can't get enough of it. In the beginning I was still figuring out the best composition of the sourdough, the spelt flour, the nuts and dried fruit. And even though this bread contains a lot of ingredients that will make you think 'Sweet' - it's more of a savoury kind of snack, or actually it's somewhere in the middle, which makes it perfect as an afternoon snack. 

You can use your own homemade sourdough, or if you are in a hurry or you want to be spontaneous you can also use bought sourdough (usually rye sourdough). However, if you have time, I highly recommend making your own. It's so much fun and so rewarding. You can find my recipe for spelt sourdough in my earlier post on spelt sourdough bread rolls

Ingredients

  • 360g wholewheat spelt flour 
  • 3tbsp high quality unsweetened cacao
  • 100-150g spelt sourdough 
  • 150-200ml lukewarm water
  • 20g fresh yeast or 1 sachet dry yeast 
  • 80-100g hazelnuts
  • 100 dried sour cherries 
  • salt

Instructions

1. Dissolve the yeast in the water, best if lukewarm. 

2. Mix the flour with the cacao and a pinch of salt. 

3. Now gradually add the liquid to the flour, as well as the sourdough, mixing everything together roughly with a spoon.  Transfer the dough to a clean surface. 

4. Knead the dough for at least 3min. until it's soft, fairly flexible and not sticky. If your dough is too dry add more water, if it's too wet (and sticky) add a little more flour.
- You will get a feel for the right kind of consistency after a while, it takes a little practice. -

5. Place the dough in bowl, cover with a towl and leave in a warm place to rest for 1-2hours. 

6. On a clean surface, stretch the dough into a rectangle, spread the hazelnuts and cherries on the dough. Fold from the outside in, and gently knead the dough until the nuts and cherries are evenly distributed. 

7. Place dough in a proving basket or a bread tin, cut diagonally several times, cover and let rise another hour. Towards the end, preheat the oven to 220°C top/bottom heat or 200°C fan and place a heatproof bowl of water in the bottom of the oven.
- I personally feel that my bread gets crispier on the outside and moister in the middle when I bake it on top/bottom heat. -  

8. Bake for 5min., then turn the heat down to 200°C top/bottom heat, or 180°C fan and bake another 20-25min. When you tap on the bottom of the bread it should make a hollow sound. 

Banana Chocolate Swirl Bread

The idea to make a banana chocolate swirl bread recently occured to me while I was browsing through Pinterest. I saw a picture of a chocolate banana bread with peanut butter swirl (made by the inspiring german blogger Jeanny from Zucker, Zimt & Liebe). I immediately wanted to try that, however, it was Sunday and I didn't have any peanut butter in the house. So, I made this version with what I had at disposal. 

So easy, and it's wipped up in a couple of minutes. Be sure, to use high quality cacao powder, it will give an even stronger and rich chocolate flavour (I used raw, unsweetened, organic cacao). 

The olive oil was actually a really nice surprise. I didn't have any neutral baking oil, or any coconut oil in the house, so I had to fall back on olive oil, which I usually wouldn't use for banana bread. However, in combination with the cacao it added a really nice nutty flavour. Proves again, that a lot of great recipes develop from necessity. :-) 

Ingredients

  • 2-3 ripe bananas
  • 270g white spelt flour
  • 1-2 tsp baking powder
  • 100g coconut blossom sugar, or any sweetener of your choice
  • 0.5tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 180ml olive oil
  • 3-4tbsp hazelnut milk, or any other milk 
  • 2tbsp high-quality cacao powder

 

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Mix together all the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, sugar, nutmeg and salt. 

2. Mash the bananas using a fork or a blender. 

3. Add the bananas, the oil and 2-3tbsp milk to the dry ingredients and mix well. 

4. Separate the dough into two halves and then mix one half with the cacao powder. Cause of adding another dry ingredient, you might need another tbsp of milk to make the batter smooth again. The batter should not be liquid, rather a little viscous. 

5. Line a bread baking tin with some parchment paper or generously grease with some oil. Now add one ladle of blond batter next to one ladle of chocolate batter, next scoop a ladle of blond batter onto the chocolate batter and a ladle of chocolate batter onto the blond batter, and so forth, until all is used up. 

6. Using a skewer, or a fork, gently mix the batter into swirls. But be careful, don't overmix. A couple of gentle strokes will already do the trick. 

7. Bake for 35-45min. until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Let cool down a little before taking out of the tin. 

Spelt Sourdough Bread Rolls

This christmas, we spent at our cottage in the Oderbruch, an hour outside of Berlin. Not only were we blessed with great (though not very wintery) weather but we were finally able to stay over several nights in our new home away from home. As we now have a working kitchen I spent my christmas holidays making old-time favorites but also working on a bunch of new recipes.

One thing which has been on my mind for quite a while now, has been making my own sourdough and with that baking my own bread.

I was surprised to find out that it’s actually pretty straight forward. All you need is a fairly warm place for the sourdough to rest and grow and a lot of patience as it takes three days before you can actually start using it. As slowness is a quintessential part of how I spent my holidays (especially when I’m at the cottage) and we now have a working fireplace, the stage was set. 

How to Make Spelt Sourdough

Ingredients

  • 100g + 100g + 200g spelt flour (strong white/type 1050) 
  • 100ml + 100ml + 200ml lukewarm water 
  • an airtight container (e.g. tupperware) 
  • time ;-) 

Instructions

1. On the first day: Mix together 100g flour with 100ml lukewarm water and put the dough in an airtight container in a warm place (20-25°C). Rest for 24 hours.

2. On the second day: Again mix together 100g flour with 100ml lukewarm water and work into the existing dough. You might already see the first bubbles appearing. Rest for another 24 hours. 

3. On the third day: One last time, mix together the remaining 200g flour with 200ml lukewarm water and mix with the existing dough. Rest for a final 24 hours. 

4. On the fourth day your sourdough is ready to be used! It should be bubbly and have a sour smell to it. You can set aside 3-4 tablespoonful as a starter for your next sourdough. 

There are so so many ways you can now use your sourdough: white bread or wholegrain sourdough bread, bread rolls, pancakes, waffles, pizza crust, and the list goes on. 

Spelt Sourdough Bread Rolls

As I didn’t have any scales at our place in the country, this recipe is merely an estimate. 

Ingredients

  • 200-250 g spelt sourdough
  • 250-300 g wholegrain spelt flour 
  • 1-2 tsp dry yeast
  • 250-300 ml lukewarm water 
  • pinch of salt
  • optional: 1/2 tbsp bread spice (a pinch of fennel, caraway, anise and coriander) 
  • optional: oats, seeds and nuts for the dough or for coating

Instructions

  1. Mix together all the ingredients until you get a smooth dough. Either with your hands or using the dough hook of an electric mixer kneed your dough for at least 2 - 3 minutes. The dough will be pretty sticky. 
  2. Cover with a clean cloth and let the dough rest in a warm place for about an hour. 
  3. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and knead once more. Use more flour if it’s too sticky to kneed with your hands. If you want to add nuts or seeds into the dough - now is the time. Now divide the dough into 6 - 8 equal parts. 
  4. Brush the rolls with some drops of water and coat with seeds or oats or nuts. Place on a lined baking tray and cover with a cloth once more. Rest for another 40min. Preheat the oven to 200°C. 
  5. Bake for 20 - 25min. until they are cross on the outside. If you tap your finger on the bottom of the rolls, they should make a hollow sound. 

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Buns

Sharing this recipe with you has been on my to-do list for a long time now. I made these for the first time around this time last year and have just been waiting for pumpkin season to come around. So when I returned from a weekend in the country with two huge pumpkins, I knew now was the time to make some pumpkin purée. 

When my friend Natalie from today is beautiful asked me if I had use for her homemade cashew icing which she had leftover from her latest baking session, everything just fell together, and the stage was set for my all-time favourite pumpkin and cinnamon swirl buns.

The fillings are obviously something that can easily be varied, and you can let your imagination run wild here. Basics are just butter and sugar, and anything else can be whatever you like, any spices or fruit. Or you could also make them savoury by making a vegetable sauce or paste. My favourite one still remains chocolate - I mean, nothing beats chocolate. However, yesterday, I was also hit with a craving for cinnamon. And because I can be a very indecisive person, I just went with both! 

Ingredients

for the dough

  • 80 ml warm milk (vegans can sub with nut milk)
  • 4 tbsp butter (or vegan butter)
  • 1.5 tsp dry instant yeast
  • 75 g brown sugar
  • 115 g pumpkin purée *
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (vegan: sub with 1 chia or flax egg, see here)
  • 315 g flour ( I used a mix of white wheat and spelt flour)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves

* easily done: Halve and deseed a pumpkin (I used hokkaido), lightly brush with sunflower or coconut oil, place cut side down on a lined baking tray and bake for 20 - 25 minutes at 180°C until the pumpkin flesh is soft. After letting it cool down, peel off the outer skin and using a hand or stand mixer, blend the pumpkin until you get a creamy consistency without lumps (I added 1 - 2 tbsp water just to make it a little easier to blend in the beginning). 

for the chocolate filling

  • 3 tbsp butter (or vegan butter)
  • 50 g coconut blossom sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 100 g dark chocolate, grated or chips
  • pinch of sea salt

for the cinnamon-walnut filling

  • 3 tbsp butter (or vegan butter)
  • 50 g coconut blossom sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 2 handful of walnuts, crumbled into small pieces
  • pinch of sea salt

for the cashew icing

  • 130 g cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 400 g icing sugar
  • 60 ml almond milk (or less - depending on consistency)
    adapted from Connoisseurus Veg

Instructions

1. Warm the milk, add the butter, and let it melt. 

2. Mix together all the dry ingredients: flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, yeast and sugar. 

3. Add the pumpkin purée and the egg. Add the milk-butter-mix when it is lukewarm and with your hands rub everything together. 

4. On a floured surface knead the dough a couple of minutes until it is soft and stretchy. 

5. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise for an hour. In the meantime prepare the filling (or fillings) by mixing all the ingredients until you get a paste-like structure. Set aside. Prepare the cashew icing by putting the cashews in a blender and mixing until you get a thick paste. Add the lemon juice and vanilla. Add the icing sugar bit by bit. Add the milk until you get a creamy consistency. 

6. Roll the dough out into a rectangle. Spread the chocolate filling on one half and the cinnamon-walnut one on the other (if you're doing both). 

7. Cut the rectangle into stripes (roughly 3 - 4 cm) across the shorter side - I'm not that great with thinking spatially, so you'll have to check the pictures or just follow your guts ;-)

8. Roll up the stripes into swirls and place in a greased casserole or cake tin. Let rise for another 20 minutes until you've preheated the oven to 170°C. 

9. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes. While the buns are still warm drizzle on some of the cashew icing and enjoy! 

Vegan Crumpets

Ever since my latest trip to Brighton I have been thinking about making crumpets. You can't really buy them in Berlin (or at least I haven't seen any yet, if you do let me know!) so I thought there must be an easy way to make them from scratch.

So I went out recipe-hunting and found some pretty standard ones, such as this. As you might figure I changed some bits and bobs here and there. I like to use a lot of different nut-milks in my recipes, as I find them much gentler on my tummy, plus you get extra nutrients and flavors. So if you swap regular milk with a nut-milk option of your choice it's very easy to vegan-ise your crumpets. 


Ingredients

Makes about 10 - 12 crumpets

  • 350 g spelt flour
  • 2 packages instant yeast (7g each)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 350 ml coconut-almond milk (or any other nut milk in case you want the vegan version)
  • 150 ml warm water
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (or bicarbonate of soda if you can get a hold of it - not easy in Germany)
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • coconut oil for baking 

Instructions

1. Combine the flour with the yeast and set aside. 

2. Heat the milk until it's lukewarm, dissolve the sugar in it. 

3. Add the milk to the flour and beat it with a wooden spatula for at least 3 or 4 minutes (good exercise, phew...).

4. Cover with a cloth and let it rest for at least 20 minutes (not longer than 60 minutes). 

5. Combine the salt and baking powder with the warm water and add to the batter. Mix until everything is well combined. Cover and let it rest for another 20 minutes. 

6. Heat up a griddle pan on the stove, brush with some coconut oil. 

7. Now if you have crumpets rings all the better. But don't freak if you don't, I just used heart-shaped christmas cutters :-) grease them generously and place them in the hot pan. 

8. With a ladel spoon some batter into your prepared cutters. 

9. Fry the crumpets for 5 minutes (it should be solid by now), flip them and fry another 3 minutes on medium heat. If you are using cutters like me, you might have to take the crumpet out of the cutter, after it's been fried on one side. Generally cutters are a little taller, so if you flip the crumpet it might not touch your pan - and, well, that's not the point ;-) 



Thank you to my dear friend from Kilda Nordic Interior for providing these beautiful coffee mugs and decorations. LOVE them!