Plum Streusel Slices

This recipe is of Saxony/German origin where fruit desserts are very popular.  A basic pastry base is used, with a plum filling (although apricots can be used if preferred) and topped with a streusel/crumble topping.  I am not normally a fan of fruit desserts, or desserts in general, but my Mother bought me 1 1/2 kg of plums and I sickened myself of eating them for breakfast.  I tried this recipe to try to use some of them up and was pleasantly surprised.

Ingredients (makes 14 slices)

225g plums, stoned and chopped

1 tbsp lemon juice

100g caster sugar

115g butter

1 egg yolk

150g plain flour

For the topping:

150g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

75g butter

50g soft, brown, light sugar

50g chopped hazlenuts

Instructions

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Grease and base an 8-inch square cake tin

(I used a round enamel one but if you want to cut the streusel into slices a square tin is easier)

Put lemon juice and plums into saucepan and heat on low heat for 5 minutes

Lemon juice & plums

Add 50g of caster sugar to plums

Simmer plums until very thick

Leave to cool

Beat the butter and 50g caster sugar together in bowl

Beat in egg yolk

Mix in flour to make soft dough

streusel-dough

Press mixture into base of prepared cake tin

Bake for 15 minutes in the oven

baked

Remove from oven and spoon over plum filling

(Tip:Do not put the filling all the way to the edges as it will ooze when it cooks and become difficult to cut into slices/remove from tin)

plum-topping

For the topping:

Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl

Rub in butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs

Stir in brown sugar and chopped nuts

topping

Sprinkle topping mixture over the plums

Press topping down gently

streseul-for-oven

Bake for 30 minutes until lightly browned

cooked

Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then cut into slices (or portions)

Remove from the tin when completely cold

Serve!

Serve!

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Jewish Almond Cake

This is a real favourite of mine.  It can be served simply with a sprinkling of caster sugar, or with a fruit coulis.  It is a very traditional cake and will be found throughout Eastern Europe, particularly in former parts of the Austro-Hungarian empire.  I love making this cake because it is really simple.  It really is a case of throwing everything in one big bowl and stirring, though not too aggressively.  If you want, you can freeze the cake for up to one month, but I think it is best eaten fresh.  It will keep in an air-tight container for three to five days.

Ingredients:

125g butter

150g caster sugar

2 drops of almond extract

1 drop of vanilla extract

3 eggs

75g ground almonds

40g plain flour

Instructions:

Grease 7-inch (17.5cm) tin

Cover base with greaseproof paper or silicone

Preheat oven to 180ºC (Gas Mark 4)

Cream together butter and sugar

Butter & sugar

Add almond and vanilla extract

Add eggs one at a time, each with a third of the ground almonds

Eggs & ground almonds

Beat until fluffy

Sift flour and fold in

Flour

Mixture in tin

Put in over for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean

Out of oven

To prevent top of cake from burning, it may be necessary to cover with foil halfway through cooking

Cool and sprinkle with caster sugar if desired

Serve small portions as it is very rich!

Serve small portions as it is very rich!

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Deliciously Light Lemon Cake

If you are permanently on the hunt for the lightest cake in the world, look no further.  This Romanian cake is made from a blend of thick yogurt, lemon and honey and is the lightest cake I have ever consumed.

Ingredients:

50g butter

115g caster sugar

2 large eggs

115g Greek yogurt

Grated rind of 2 lemons

Juice of 1/2 lemon

150g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

curls of lemon rind to decorate

For the syrup: juice of 1/2 lemon, 4 tbsp honey, 3 tbsp water, 1 cinnamon stick

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 190ºC

Grease and line a shallow, 7-inch square cake tin (I made extra to fit my rectangular tin)

Allow butter to soften.

Cream together the softened butter and sugar either in a bowl or a mixer until pale and fluffy.

Creamed butter and sugar

Slowly add the egg yolks, Greek yogurt, lemon rind and juice.

Beat until smooth.

Smooth

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until just stiff.

Egg whites

Sift together the flour and baking powder.

Fold flour and baking powder into yogurt mixture.  Fold carefully, do not excessively stir because you will stretch the gluten in the flour.

Yogurt mixture, flour, baking powder

Then, fold in egg whites, again carefully, making sure they do not lose all their air, otherwise the cake will not be light.  A top tip is to use a metal spoon not a wooden one!

Ready for the tin!

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.

Ready for the oven!

Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown and firm to touch.

Turn out on to a plate and peel off base paper.

For the syrup, put the lemon juice, honey, water and cinnamon stick together in small pan.

Honey & cinnamon

Stir until boiling.

Cook until syrupy.

Remove the pan from the heat.

Remove and discard the cinnamon stick.

Syrup done!

Spoon the warm syrup over the cake then sprinkle with lemon rind.

Leave to cool completely and cut into 16 pieces.

Finished product

Finished product ready to cut into slices.

Serve!

Serve!

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The Perfect Canapes: Part 2

When I made blinis lavished with smoked salmon and prawns, I also made some Hungarian stuffed mushrooms (Sonkával töltött gomba).  The woods of the Bakony Mountains in the Transdanubia region, boast an incredible selection of wild mushrooms.  It is estimated that Hungary is home to between 20 and 30 varieties of wild mushrooms and these are regularly used in Hungarian cooking.  However, bizarrely, it is the button mushroom which finds itself most frequently on the menu.

Ingredients:

500g mushrooms

80g butter

100g cooked ham

200 ml milk

4 tbsp flour

2 egg yolks

1 tsp paprika

100g parmesan (or other hard, grated cheese)

Instructions:

Wipe the mushrooms.

Mushrooms

Cut off the stalks.

Grease flameproof dish.

Place mushroom caps in the dish.

Mushrooms, stalks removed, in greased dish

Season with salt and pepper.

Chop up cooked ham.

Chopped ham

Heat the milk.

Melt 40g butter in saucepan.

Butter in saucepan

Stir in the flour (do not let it brown).

Butter & flour

Gradually pour in the hot milk.

Butter, flour, milk

Stir continuously and simmer until the mixture thickens.

When mixture leaves the sides of the pan, add ham.

Butter, flour, milk, ham

Add egg yolks and paprika.

Eggs & Paprika

Mix thoroughly.

Fill mushroom caps.

Filled mushrooms

Sprinkle with cheese.

Drizzle with melted butter.

Ready for the oven

Bake in preheated oven at 200ºC for about 15 minutes.

Serve!

If you have any stuffing mixture left over (as I did), let it cool, put it in the refrigerator and when you fancy a snack, smother on some toasted, grainy, bread, top with grated cheese and grill!

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Domaine Danubiane Sauvignon Blanc 2007

domaine-danubianeAlthough not a country to usually pop to the forefront of one’s mind when considering notorious wine producing countries, Romania has in fact been producing wine since the 7 BC.  It would shock you to put, what most would consider one of the European Union’s poorest and most backward countries, on a par with Portugal for sheer quantity of square metres of vines, but this is indeed the case.

This particular bottle hails from the town of Turnu Severin, formerly known as the ancient city of Drobeta which took its name from the tower built to commemorate the death of the Roman emperor, Septimus Sever.  The cellar is run by Italian winemaker, Fiorenzo Rista, who after gaining vital experience in northern Italy, came to Romania, fell in love with a Romanian woman (now his wife) and never returned home.

The Domaine Danubiane is a crisp aromatic white produced purely from Sauvignon Blanc. The cool climate of Vanju Mare has ensured it is packed full of grassy herbal aromas, a characteristic of many East European tipples, in addition to boasting vibrant gooseberry tones and lively passion fruit flavours.

While, the Domaine Danubian Sauvignon Blanc would not suit the palette of those who prefer to drink a very dry Pinot Grigio or Chablis unaccompanied, it will prove a particularly pleasing purchase for those who desire to indulge in seafood, particularly oysters, moules marinierès or grilled white fish.

Read more…

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