Sweet Polenta with Elderflower-infused Milk

Last weekend I got up at first light to pick some elderflowers. This is not essential to the art of flower-picking but just something I like to do once in a while to catch that very special morning light. :-)

Now, elderflower season has almost passed, so I better be quick in telling you one of my favourite ways to eat polenta! Yes, you heard right, elderflower and polenta. 

Unlike having polenta as a savoury side dish, I love to make it as a sweet breakfast alternative to porridge made from oats or other grains. If you cook it with milk (or coconut milk, or nut milk) it becomes super creamy and goes so well with any kind of fruit or fresh berries.

So where do the elderflowers come into play? Well I realised that you can not only make beautiful and yummy syrup or tea from those sweet blossoms but you can also infuse other liquids with that heavenly flowery taste. So why not milk? Well and if you can infuse milk with elderflower you can, in turn, use that milk for sooo many other heavenly things. Like polenta. So if you pick the last elderflower blossoms this weekend give this a try and you will not regret it. The sweet flowery aroma is a perfect counterpart to the richness of the polenta and adds a little more lightness and a perfect summery touch. 

Ingredients

  • 125g polenta
  • 650 - 700ml milk 
  • 3-4 elderflower blossoms
  • 3-4 tbsp maple syrup or coconut blossom syrup (or sweetener of your choice)
  • pinch of vanilla
  • optional: lemon zest and juice
  • for toppings: fresh berries or other fruit of your choice, nuts like pistachios or roasted almonds would also be great on top

Recipe

1. Pick the elderflower blossoms and place them on a white surface or linen, any insects will start to crawl out. Once all the insects have gone remove as much from the green stem as possible. Tip: It's best not to wash the blossoms as they will lose their nice flavour.

2. Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the elderflower blossoms and the syrup. Place the saucepan on medium heat and let it come to a light simmer (don't let it boil). Turn off the heat and let it sit for 15min. to infuse. 

3. In the meantime zest and juice the lemon and prepare your fruit. 

4. Using a fine sieve or a straining cloth sieve the infused elderflower milk into a clean bowl. Clean the saucepan and pour the milk back into it. Bring to a simmer again. Add the lemon zest.

5. As soon as the milk starts to boil, turn the heat to the lowest setting, and while stirring, slowly trickle in polenta. keep stirring until the polenta is absorbed and there are no lumps.

6. Let it simmer on lowest heat for about 15min., stirring once in a while so it doesn't stick to the pan. You might want to add some more water, or milk if it gets to thick. It should have the consistency of airy scrambled eggs, not too runny but not too thick. Yet it's also a matter of personal taste, so play around until you get your desired consistency. As soon as it's cooked, add a splash of lemon juice. 

7. Serve with fresh berries or fruit on top, sprinkle on some more elderflower petals for decoration, and a drizzle of syrup if you like.

Pumpkinseed Oil Granola with Yoghurt and Cardamom-infused Rhubarb

When it comes to breakfast I will usually have one go-to recipe that I will then be repeatedly cooking for about 4-5 weeks until I get sick of it. For the last couple of weeks I have been making a quick version of granola with a creamy yoghurt and rhubarb for breakfast. This one will definitely keep me company throughout summer (with some occasional reinventions maybe). It's also a great breakfast for weekdays for me. When I get to the office (i.e. kitchen) in the morning, I am usually the first there, I really like to enjoy the silence and just making breakfast for myself (and my team). 

pumpkinseed oil granola - kitchen hoopla
pumpkinseed oil granola - kitchen hoopla
pumpkinseed oil granola - kitchen hoopla

The great thing about this granola is that it can be roasted in a normal frying pan. No need to turn the oven on or get baking trays ready. As pumpkinseed oil should not be cooked in order to not lose all the healthy nutrients, the plain granola gets roasted in the pan first until it is golden and you start smelling the nice aromas. Only then it is mixed with the pumpkinseed oil and some syrup, it is then only roasted very shortly in the pan and then left to cool and crisp up. This way it takes up the nutty flavour from the pumpkinseed and also the greenish colour. 

For the Granola

  • a mix of oats and seeds of your choice - I used a combination of about:

    100g oats
    10g flaxseeds
    10g desiccated coconut
    10g shaved almonds
    10g coconut flakes 

 

  • 2tbsp pumpkinseed oil

  • 4tbsp maple syrup or coconut blossom syrup

Recipe for the granola

1. Mix the oats and seeds and place in a big frying pan. Bring to medium heat and carefully roast until golden brown and aromatic. 

2. Stir together the pumpkinseed oil and syrup and pour over the granola until all the oats are coated but not too wet. 

3. Continue roasting on low to medium heat for 1 more minute whilst constantly stirring. Take off heat.

4. It may still feel a little wet now. Let the granola cool down in the pan completely, it will become crisp and crunchy once it's cooled down. 

pumpkinseed oil granola - kitchen hoopla

Rhubarb season is one of my all time favourite seasons. There is so many ways to use it - I think I can solemnly swear that I will not ever get sick of rhubarb ever ever ever. One of my favourite ways is in a combination with cardamom. At the very beginning of my food blogging journey I posted a recipe for a cardamom white chocolate rhubarb cake. Don't mind the pictures (looking back there has been a lot I learned I dare say :-D), but I still stand by that recipe. So, rhubarb and cardamom. Give it a try and let me know what you think. 

For the Rhubarb

  • 3-4 sticks of fresh rhubarb

  • 2-3tbsp coconut blossom sugar (or more if you like it sweeter)

  • 3 cardamom pods

  • pinch of vanilla

Recipe for the rhubarb

1. Using a sharp knife peel the rhubarb and first halve it lengthwise and then cut into 3-4cm long pieces. Place in a big bowl. 

2. Mix the rhubarb with the cardamom, sugar and vanilla and let it sit for 10min. 

3. Place everything in a saucepan, add 2-3tbsp water and - with the lid on - bring to medium heat.

4.  Once it starts to bubble, cook on low heat for 4-6min. until the rhubarb is just soft but not dissolving yet. 

5. Make sure to discard the cardamom pods before serving.

cardamom infused rhubarb - kitchen hoopla

So now only one component is missing. A big dollop of creamy yoghurt. It has been a while since I made my own yoghurt. As our neighbours a few villages over have a sheep farm and produce the creamiest sheeps milk yoghurt I never have to go far anymore to get the best of the best. If you are looking for a vegan alternative though you can find the recipe for homemade coconut yoghurt right here

For the Yoghurt

  • Full-fat yoghurt (optional: mixed with full-fat quark, available in Germany)

    or use my recipe for coconut yoghurt as a vegan option
     

  • agave syrup or coconut blossom syrup to taste

  • vanilla to taste

  • optional: fresh berries, edible flowers

Recipe for the yoghurt

1. Mix the yoghurt with the syrup and the vanilla to your own taste. 

2. Serve with a heap of the rhubarb and sprinkle on the granola. 

3. Add some fresh berries or edible flowers on top et voila!

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. 

Sweet Yeasted Dumplings with Vanilla Sauce and Poppyseeds

Although I have never been a regular ski-holiday person - my family just didn't ski when I was young - I have a deep-seated fondness for ski-holiday-desserts. Yes, that's a big deal in Germany and Austria. And they come with the jolliest names: Kaiserschmarrn, Germknödel, Buchteln, and I could go on. So, lately, when I started craving something sweet and hearty at the same time, my mind went straight to German yeasted dumplings (Dampfnudeln). 

Made with spelt flour and coconut blossom sugar, they're not as sweet as the one's you get in a ski lodge, but combined with homemade vanilla sauce, I could have these just about any time of the day. YUM :-) 

Ingredients

for 6-8 dumplings
prep time: 40min. (+ 1.5 hours for resting the dough)

for the dumplings

  • 500g white spelt flour 
  • 200ml milk (or any nut-milk if you prefer) + 100ml extra milk 
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 60g coconut blossom sugar or brown sugar + 1tbsp extra sugar
  • 20g fresh yeast or 1 sachet of dry yeast
  • 90g butter + 2tbsp extra butter
  • pinch salt

for the vanilla sauce

  • 2tsp vanilla (or 1-2 vanilla pods) 
  • 400ml cream
  • 300ml milk
  • 2-3tbsp coconut blossom or brown sugar
  • 2-3tsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • some icing sugar and poppyseeds for dusting 

Instructions

1. In a saucepan, melt the butter with the milk and dissolve the sugar. Let cool down until the mixture is lukewarm, then add the yeast. Set aside for 1-2min. 

2. In a big bowl combine the flour with the salt, add the egg yolks and gradually add the the yeasted milk.

3. Knead for about 5min. until you get a soft and flexible dough. 

4. Cover with a cloth and let the dough rest in a warm place for about 1 hour. 

5. Separate the dough into 6-8 equally sized balls. Place them on a baking tray, lined with baking paper, cover with a cloth and let rest for another 30min. 

6. In the meantime prepare the vanilla sauce: In a saucepan heat the cream with the milk, add the vanilla and sugar and bring to a simmer. (If your using pods, scrape the vanilla from the pods and add both the seeds and the pods to the milk. After simmering 10min. take out the pods.) Add the arrowroot oder cornstarch powder and keep stirring. Adjust with a little more milk if the consistency is too thick or with more binding agent if it's too thin.

7. In a large saucepan (with lid!) or casserole heat up 2tbsp butter and 1tbsp sugar, letting the mixture caramelise slightly. Add 2-3 dumplings (they should have enough space for expanding, so don't put them too close). Now add 100ml milk and close the pan with a lid. 

8. On low heat let the dumplings simmer for about 20min. DON'T open the lid during that time, or the dumplings might collapse). 

9. After 20min. carefully lift the lid - watch out, the condensed water on the lid shouldn't drop on the dumplings. 

10. Scoop some vanillasauce on a deep plate, place one of the dumplings on top and coat with a bit of icing sugar and poppyseeds.