Remembrance of Things Past

One can only wonder, would the elegant and petite cake we know as the madeleine be known at all if not for Proust's great novel. Would we pay this little piece of French culture any attention, had the narrator not taken a bite and suddenly remembered his entire past? Though it's a delightful treat that deserves all the attention it gets, I'm not quite convinced that anyone but devoted pastry-lovers would know of the petite cake. Then again, French pastry is very popular all over the world (especially lately with the macarons being in fashion).

Now I loved madeleines long before I found my interest for pastry and cookery. In fact, they were the only sponge cakes I enjoyed eating back then. Mind you, I could even eat the plastic-bag-packed discount madeleines from the supermarket! But to be completely honest I only think I liked them because when all mashed up after a walk in the mountains they were the least unappetizing treats we had available. No matter how I came to like them, I still do... And yes even the plastic-bag-packed discount ones are still enjoyable to me.

And then only a few days ago I finally became the content owner of a madeleine mold. First thing I did was of course to whip up a batch, desperately hoping for them to turn out good. After taking a few photos I finally allowed myself one.

In best Proust-style I fell down by the fireplace with a cup of linen tea and a madeleine and thought about all the good times I've had, sitting high up, climbing gear on, waiting to be allowed further up and - of course - enjoying a mashed up madeleine out of the plastic-bag.

Recipe halved and only slightly altered from Mitch Stamm: “The Pastry Chef's Apprentice”

Madeleines by Kim Park (Yields about 15)

85 g unsalted butter

113 g all-purpose flour

1½ tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

2½ eggs (I know that count is silly, sorry)

85 g sugar

½ vanilla bean

  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F) and prepare a madeleine mold by brushing it with melted butter.
  2. Melt the 85 g butter. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set both aside.
  3. Whip the eggs and the sugar till the mixture is pale and thick (I whipped with an electric mixer for about 10 minutes). Scrape the vanilla bean and add the seeds to the eggs.
  4. Fold in the flour mixture thoroughly. It's important that you do not beat or whip it in as this will affect the texture of the baked madeleine.
  5. Fold one third of the batter with the melted butter. Mix this back into the batter, still folding it gently.
  6. The easiest way to get the batter into the mold is to pipe it. I just used a plastic bag with a hole cut in the end, works out fine as the batter should be rather thick.
  7. Bake for 13-15 minutes till golden brown. When done, tap the mold gently and the hot madeleines should easily come free of it.

TIP: The recipe states that if you want symmetrical madeleines you bake them right away, but if you want the traditional ones with a little hump, you should refrigerate the filled molds for about 1½ hours before baking.


Soaking Summer and Crackers

I'm sure it'll be a surprise to no one when I say that it's summer. So, how did my brilliant mind come to that conclusion? Well, I didn't find out by looking out my window. The dark clouds loom in the horizon and a cold, vile wind rattles the tall trees surrounding my house all the while the sound of rumbling thunder echoes from the distance.
I found out when I reached for that beautiful red strawberry in the bowl in front of me. It was perfectly sweet and intense in it's flavour and more importantly; it was a Danish strawberry. Now, I'm not nationalist but I do admit that we in Denmark have been blessed with extraordinary strawberries. Having that perfect sweetness on my tongue I of course jumped out of my seat to make a strawberry tart. But more of that another time.

As I then took a sip of my hot thunder choc from my ever cool ninja turtles mug, I felt more in the mood for something.. less demanding.
And so I went searching through my mum's recipe binder for something neat and simple. That's when I fell over a recipe for some crackers. I realized that those crackers were everything I needed.

Mum's Crackers
I've never been particularly fond of crackers but these truly stole my heart. They have a delicious warmth to them.
1 dl oatmeal
1 dl sesame seeds
1 dl flaxseed
1 dl sunflower seeds
1 dl pumpkin seeds
3½ dl all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1-2 dl water
½-1 dl olive oil

Start by mixing all the dry ingredients together in a rather large bowl, then add water and olive oil - start with minimum amount. Knead till it all comes together (about 5 minutes), you may need to add more water or oil.
Roll out half of the dough to a rectangle (about 3 mm thick) and cut 4x5 cm rhombs. Do the same with the other half. Place the rhombs on a baking sheet (you'll probably need more than one) with about a cm between them, however, less air between the crackers will do just fine too.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes.

Living up to the Expectations

Today I've spend time thinking about this blog.
That maybe starting a blog wasn't the wisest thing I've ever done?
I love the thought of having a blog and I often, for instance when I'm on my way to work, think about all the things I'd love to post here and tell the unfortunate (or let us be positive; the fortunate) reader. Sometimes I arrive at work with an almost finished blog post on my mind. I just never find the time to post any of it. I hope it will be better next year. But exactly that sounds like something someone who never gets anything done says! And I will not be that person.
I'm updating my blog. Woohoo!

I'm always willing to try something new baking-wise and even though I've got a fool-proof recipe for a pear tart that always gives a gorgeous result, I wanted to try another recipe. Why? Because my sister isn't particularly fond of that pear tart, in fact she won't even eat it when I bake it. Now, my sister is a chocolate-lover, "who isn't" you say, but my sister? She's an extreme chocolate-lover. Unfortunately my mum had asked me to bake a pear tart, well, she did say "Bake that pear tart" - and I deliberately forgot that little detail. Instead, I dug through my bookmarks and after searching through countless of delicious-looking cake, cookie and mousse recipes I finally found the recipe that I vaguely remembered:

Chocolate and Pear Tart

I honestly fell for this exact recipe because of the rum in the chocolate filling (;
But believe me, this tart is delicious! It's a good brownie cake on a good shortcrust pastry. With pears! Could we get any closer to heaven?
Luckily, my family and, most importantly, my sister thought so too. I was pleased to see her munch the tart with a delighted expression and a busy smile all over that wonderfully beautiful face of hers.
Mission accomplished.


Two Weeks and the Banana Bread

The next two weeks of my life are going to be different. My wonderful little family is scattered across the Earth! My sister is in France to ski and my father is in Africa to climb Kilimanjaro, and, it counts for both of them: Again... Not that I mind being alone with my mum for two weeks, I'm actually looking forward to it! I'm very fond of my mum and we've got a lot of things to talk about - Clothes, books, politics, nature, and of course food! But like every other mum and daughter we tend to have fights. They're not bad fights, but if my mum is going to be the only one I can go to in the family, I better stay on her side for the upcoming weeks!
Now, my mum loves banana bread. Not the dirty kind with chocolate and sugar, no, she likes the healthy kind of banana bread, the one with nuts and whole wheat flour.
So I figured I'd start the two weeks with a friendly gesture.
An almost healthy banana bread!
So I went searching the net for something nice. And, oh, did I find what I was looking for! Moist, healthy and sooo good. I had to grab a slice for myself...
The recipe is by wonderful Elise, here.
I can imagine it would be good with her apple-filling too, but I usually prefer my banana breads without all these add-ons, so I left it out.
I discovered Elise's site only a few months ago and I'm bitten! Sweet, varied and low-fat. Does it get much better? I can only recommend her blog!


The cold morning and the old rainbow

The clock is 6:00, early morning, with fiddly fingers I manage to turn off the clock that has been ringing for only a few seconds. I quickly draw back into the warm sheets. I like to lie there, curled up into a ball, just staring into the darkness of another winter morning.
I bought a new duvet. It is only now that I realize why I've never wanted to replace the paper-thin predecessor. I suddenly understand why so many of my friends don't like to get up in the morning.
It's absolutely horrendous! I've never had this much trouble getting out of bed, suddenly the morning seems darker and colder and I tug in under my warm, safe duvet, out of sight of anything that may lurk beyond the bed's edge. Thoughts start to circle my mind. What will happen today? Is it a good day?
Then, suddenly, it beats me that it's my mum's birthday in just few days, and I seriously can't find the time to buy her a present. She's most charitable and I'm sure she wouldn't be all disappointed if her gift was... A bit delayed.
I let out a long sigh. I just have to find time after school, I think and roll out of the bed.
I've been extremely busy lately, I've barely had time to do all my homework and I'm too much of a rebel to just skip my hobbies to finish off that reading assignment.

I'm now getting used to my duvet, it no longer has the same grab on me. Though I have to admit that I still lie there longer than planned! Today it's Sunday, the day after my mum's birthday. I found the present for her. A cup! Sounds silly doesn't it? Well it's a very special, super expensive cup... This cup!
My mum got a book from a friend of hers. A baking book. I'm trying not to be jealous. But the book may suddenly be standing on my shelf... It's a baking book by a very famous Danish chef named Meyer, he has written several best-seller cookbooks. One of them is a cookbook which is called “Almanac”. As the name hints it's a cookbook that gives you a completely foreseen year – Food-wise. Yes, Meyer put together a dish for every day of the year, a dish that also fits the season. It has become very popular, at least in Denmark, to eat mostly Danish food as it's better for the environment, tends to be a lot cheaper, and even a lot more delicious.
Anyway, back on track, this new baking book is absolutely beautiful! I don't think there's one cake in the book I wouldn't want to bake – Or eat!
Delicious pictures to come! This will be a good year food-wise! I know, that took me a while to conclude.

Today however, I'm going to post an old picture.
It's a rainbow cupcake!
I really love rainbows and colours so, obviously, I had to try them. The recipe worked out very well, the cakes are soft and spongy – However, as I'm more fond of a denser cake, I might alter the recipe a bit next time. But I mean, look at them. Aren't they gorgeous?
It requires patience and a number of teaspoons to get the cupcake mould filled with this gorgeous batter.

 I'm in love.

You can grab the recipe at Baking Bites!

Have a lovely day!


Marcipan and pistacio confections

It was a close call this year – Again... I almost had to spend my New Years eve by myself. I had decided not to celebrate when suddenly one of my closest friends called me. She and two of my best friends were going to celebrate at her place, nothing big, just cosy up with a few good films. And now they wanted me to come too. Few words can describe how cheery I suddenly felt, but to come close I imagine it will be a perfect evening!

They had planned a rather simple, though delicious dinner: Tenderloin with potatoes and some kind of sauce.
I'm kind of a snob... Don't get me wrong I really like tenderloin and I love taters (potatoes), but I'm going to try and do some kitchen magic. Nothing big! I'm just going to make a starter. Salmon rolls with horseradish and maybe serve a good glass of white wine to it. Then I've decided to make mushroom sauce for the meat and the taters. Maybe I'll make a small salad of some sort. I've got a few ideas, but little time to decide since I'll do the shopping today!
Of course they asked me to do the dessert with the note: ”We have ice cream, if you don't feel like making anything”.
Ohhh but I'm going to show them dessert, I am. My friends will not eat ice cream on New Years Eve!

However, I can't post anything about the dessert till I've made it - You know, judged the outcome and so on. Looks are important when it comes to cakes and creams!
So instead I've decided to post a much delayed guide to my favourite confections:
Pistachio and Marzipan Confections.

They're very simple, too! You just need to roll out marzipan rather thinly (about 4 mm), then cut them into circles in whatever size you would like your confections to be (I use a sherry glass for this) and put a little dot of pistachio marzipan in the middle. Then fold the circle over the half so it's a half moon and dip in melted chocolate. You can refrigerate them to make the chocolate dry up faster, or just let it happen slowly on the kitchen counter.

So they're rather quick and considering that we were three hungry children in the family it may have been a reason to why they became the traditional Christmas goodies in our kitchen (;

Belated merry Christmas!


My First Post and Christmas Time!

So... Where to begin?

This is my very first post, and I have to admit that it does feel slightly more restless than I had originally planned for. But here I am, Saturday morning, with a cup of tea and my pink laptop, determined to actually post this!

My mother tongue is Danish and until recently I felt rather secure speaking English, too. I've had my fair line of A's in English, but just a few days ago, my teacher gave me a shiny dead-heavy D. A D! I wonder what could've happened.

I'm considering it a wake-up call. Arrogance is a simple curse. And now that it is out in the open I'm going to forget it. It's my first D, and I'm determined it'll be the last, too!

I'm not going to surprise anyone when I say that it is Christmas time! In fact, it has been since October, when the first stores started selling Christmas candles and ornaments.

Just a tad too early? I know I think so at least!

I'm usually quite the winter's helper, I just love Christmas! But this year? I'm not in the mood. It's been a rough month school-wise. I have a rather important, rather large, essay coming up. Maybe it's not school that's the problem. Maybe it's the fact that my dearly beloved sister is moving from home some time after Christmas - It could be several things. But it's a shame really. So now I picked up the Christmas cup, and yes, the tea I'm drinking is Christmas tea. You wouldn't think I'm not in a christmasy mood!

However, I feel that the Christmas spirit is, ever so slowly, sneaking up on me. Until it's completely over me, which will make me jump around the house in my red dress singing Christmas tunes, I'll go eat my homemade confections.

Mmm, pistachio.