Hi there, and welcome to a new year here in my little neck of the woods of Blogland. New Year’s was great, celebrated with a bunch of sweet friends, on a general note of ‚good riddance‘! Nobody seemed sorry to let go of the old year, in fact I believe everyone was genuinely relieved that it was finally over. There was wonderful food – I learned about a new way to cook salmon – will write that up soon, with a nod to His Cookness Don V. – and plenty to drink, there was dancing, and there were, once again, fireworks, beautifully orchestrated by our special effects artist, sweet F. – thank you so much, you’re awesome! I felt, as I always do with those particular people, in a very good place, and thankful that they’re my friends.
Our vacation was spent in our place in the country, relaxing, going for long walks, looking up into the vast winter skies, some sledding and taking advantage of the 3 days of snow there were, cooking, chatting to friends, and enjoying the archaic pleasure of heating our old house with our sturdy wood burner. Of course, there was also some frantic cleaning the house top to bottom after New Year’s – a therapeutic way to start the year, I highly recommend it.
On the crafts front, I made an executive decision, which I will write more about another time, as it’s worth a blog post in itself. I bought some nice, fluffy yarn for a hat for my young friend L. – check it out:
finished the spiral stripy hat for my six-year old (minus the darning in ends and attaching the pom-pom), and other than that, I’ve been truly and unapologetically lazy!
For my husband’s birthday, I boldly went where I hadn’t gone before and made one of his favorite cakes for the first time: Linzer Torte
This is great Austrian stuff, and he was really pleased with the result. I never got around to taking a picture, it was gone so fast 😉 – but the recipe is this one:
200 g flour
100 g sugar
1 pinch of salt
150 g ground almonds
1/2 Tsp powdered cinnamon
1 pinch of powdered cloves
some vanilla to taste
some lemon zest to taste
50 g cake crumbs – after giving a huff (seriously, who just has that at their house?) I substituted those with some more almonds, sugar and flour, to great effect
200 g butter (yup, that number’s accurate!)
Raspberry jam for filling
Egg yolk for brushing lattice
Make a shortcrust by quickly kneading all ingredients together, roll into a ball, wrap in cling foil and put into the fridge to firm up. The recipe called for an hour of resting which I definitely didn’t have, but it worked anyway. Roll out the dough 3-4 mm thick on a well-floured surface (cause it will _stick_!) and carefully line a buttered and floured spring form, or pie dish, with dough. Leave some extra dough for making the pretty lattice that decorates the top. For this, you can use a fancy pastry wheel, if you have it. Should you not have such a pastry-chef-y item on your hands, just cut the leftover dough in thin strips (approx. 1 cm wide) with a sharp knife.
Don’t worry if, when lining your baking dish, the dough should break on you. (Mine did.) You can easily repair any tears or holes with extra patches of dough with your fingers. Spread a generous layer of jam on your Torte crust, and place the dough strips on top in a lattice pattern. Gently brush with egg yolk, then place the pastry in the oven to bake at about 160 °C for 40 minutes.
As I was out of raspberry jam after an enthusiastic Christmas cookie baking spree my husband and his brother had embarked on a few days back, I used what was on hand: blackberry jam, and it worked nicely. I somehow didn’t like the idea of apricot with the wintry, spicy nut flavor of the dough. I may be wrong about that.
After a while, you will notice a lovely spicy smell permeating the house, not unlike when baking Christmas cookies. Go check on the cake every few minutes, it would be a shame to burn it!
Linzer Torte will stay fresh for a week – or so I’m told. I’m in no position to tell you first-hand because ours was gobbled up really quickly. It goes nicely with whipped cream, but it’s also really good just by itself.
Sooo, since we’re already deep in the sweets department, and since I was asked to make this dessert three times in a row within the last two weeks, I feel compelled to write up my son’s favorite. It’s called Eton Mess, and consists of meringue crumbs, frozen raspberries and whipped cream – pretty, fluffy and intensely enjoyable! I have no picture for you right now, sorry, but I will try and convey with words how deliciously cool, crunchy and fruity it is.
The idea is to layer meringue crumbs, fruit and whipped cream in a glass bowl, topped by raspberries as the last layer. It also looks lovely served in individual helpings in water or wine glasses. Here’s what you will need:
1 l whipping cream
2 P vanilla sugar
1 bag of meringues
500-750 g frozen raspberries
I’m a little fuzzy about the quantities. This is actually for your own benefit as well as due to my own unwillingness to be exact when it comes to numbers! You get to decide exactly how rich, sweet or fruity you want this to be ;-).
I personally like it with plenty of fruit, as little meringue as possible, and a healthy amount of whipped cream. I’m not that fond of the slightly soggy consistency you get when the meringue has completely dissolved, and I actually like the raspberries to be just this side of frozen. You want the meringue crumbs to melt in your mouth, and the berries to maintain their shape so you can squash them on your tongue, and the whipped cream to be as fluffy as possible.
Whip up the cream with the vanilla sugar until it forms stiff peaks. Set aside. Crumble the meringues into approx. 1 cm and smaller pieces and open your bag or box of raspberries.
Layer the bottom of a glass bowl with meringue crumbs (approx. 1 cm thick), add a generous layer of raspberries, so that the crumbs are completely covered in fruit, and top with a 2 cm layer of whipped cream. Repeat the process until your glass or bowl is full. I feel it looks prettiest if topped with fruit, but this is also entirely up to you – for some, meringue crumbs may be the loveliest topping ever, and some may feel cream can’t be beat.
Enjoy after chilling for at least two hours – it’s light enough to have even after a heavy dinner, and you may be able to squeeze in two helpings if you have it after a lighter meal.
I’m looking forward to writing The Story of the Sweater here soon – it’s actually 13 years old.
And I won’t lie, I’m greatly looking forward to days becoming longer again soon. Winter solstice already happened a few weeks back, but I haven’t really noticed any change, have you?
I’m leaving you with an intense picture of the sky over Berlin from this weekend – this was taken BEFORE the current bout of miserable, cold rain and sleet hit us. May it be gone soon, and may your year 2015 be filled with sunshine!