Toscakaka med Apelsin (Swedish Almond Cake with Orange)

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
diagrams,sweet — by Johanna

Toscakaka med Apelsin (Swedish Almond Cake with Orange)
by Anna Brones

When spring rolls in, I always think of my mother giving me a package of pink, yellow and blue feathers. They had thin metal wire at the tips, to be wrapped around branches. From the kitchen window I could see my mother cutting thin branches from the birch tree. She would bring them inside, set them in a large glass vase, and I would get to work attaching the feathers.

In Sweden, just like at Christmas you decorate a tree, at Easter time you get out the påskfjädrar and decorate a collection of branches, a tradition that dates back to the late 1800s. And my mother was sure that we always had a few bags of påskfjädrar on hand so as to make our house a colorful celebration of the season.

Many people in Sweden celebrate Easter, whether or not they have religious leanings. In fact, today it’s mostly celebrated as a secular holiday, one where everyone gets time off to celebrate the long weekend. Easter weekend is a time to gather with friends and family and eat good food together. There are the traditional Swedish holiday dishes like pickled herring, but whatever is served on the table is always an indicator of the season, with spring-friendly foods. And there are eggs of course. After a winter of heavy foods, the Easter celebration can be refreshing.

If you’re lucky, you may be gifted a cardboard egg, full of sweets, and if that isn’t enough for you, there’s sure to be an assortment of cakes to go with coffee. Because in Sweden, there is always cake and coffee.

Which brings us to the question: what kind of cake to serve?

Toscakaka is a classic Swedish recipe; you’ll find it in many an old cookbook, and it’s often an option at pastry shops. Its almond and caramel top makes it a step above ordinary cakes, which makes it a good option for a festive and celebratory meal. But the magic of this recipe is when the caramel seeps into the cake during baking, making for a moist and flavorful cake.

As we come out of the winter and citrus season, we thought it only fitting to celebrate the arrival of spring with an infusion of orange. The orange zest and juice in the cake pair well with the rich caramel on top, and giving it the perfect balance of flavors. You’ll often find this type of cake made with baking powder, but we opted to make it rise by separating the eggs and whisking the egg whites, similar to making a meringue.

Glad påsk!

Anna & Johanna’s Toscakaka with Orange

one 9” cake

cake
3 ½ oz (100 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup (3 ¾ ounces, 106 grams) blanched almonds
3 egg yolks, room temperature
3 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup (3 ¾ oz, 106 grams) brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 ½ oz, 100 grams) natural cane sugar
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces, 71 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon orange zest + 3 tablespoons orange juice

almond & caramel topping
3 ½ oz (100 grams) butter
1/3 cup (2 ½ ounces, 71 g grams) brown sugar
3/4 cup (3 ¾ ounces, 106 grams) blanched almonds

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

Grease a 9” spring form pan and sprinkle some breadcrumbs evenly.

Grind the blanched almonds for the cake in a food processor until almost finely ground; there could still be a little chunks of almonds left.

Cream together butter and brown sugar until well blended and creamy. Add one egg yolk at the time and mix it well together. Sift in the flour and carefully fold it into the batter together with the ground almonds. Add in the milk and orange zest. Stir as little as possible until you get an even and sticky batter.

In a grease-free bowl, whisk the egg white with an electric whisk (or by hand). When soft peaks forms add in the cane sugar little by little. Whisk until stiff peaks forms. Carefully fold the sugar and egg white mixture into the batter and keep folding until the batter is evenly blended. Be careful not to over stir.

Pour the batter into the greased and breaded spring form pan.

Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 25 minutes at the lower part of the oven. While cake is baking prepare quickly the almond & caramel topping.

Melt the butter together with the brown sugar. In the mean time chop the rest of the blanched almonds roughly. When the butter and sugar is melted add the almonds and stir together until it thickens.

Take out the cake from the oven (if the cake feels too wobbly let it bake a little longer). Poor the almond & caramel over, carefully spread it evenly. Bake the cake for another 10 – 15 minutes or until cake had got a nice color and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted to the thickest part of the cake.

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool. Once cool, remove the cake from the pan.

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This post was also published at Foodie Underground.

 

Other articles by Anna & Johanna

Mazainer – Swedish Pastry Classic
Lussebullar – Swedish Saffron Buns
Kanelbullar & kardemummabullar
and
Anna is also my partner for my 1st book (Ten Speed Press, Spring 2015)

Guest Post: Cocktails by Walczak & Heiss

Friday, April 4th, 2014
diagrams,drinks — by Johanna


I first met Marek Walczak in Sweden, late 2002. He was showing one of his interactive art works “Apartment” and at the opening he mistook me for my twin sister (who was the curator of the show). Ever since then we have lived and worked together. Besides other things we have designed and renovated 2 houses from scratch and we have also built a tiny little studio house together.

About five years ago Marek started to work with Wes Heiss who he has known for a long long time. Like me, both of them have a background in architecture. Besides many other things, Wes knows how to build cars and violins. Over the last few years he has also become an expert in operating 3D printers of various kinds. Together, Marek and Wes has become a perfect team that can design and build really cool media-based public art installations.

One of their latest works (which I made some illustrations for) is an art installations in Denver, called 14th Street Overlay. This installation consist of 23 individual small cast bronze sculptures of optical instruments like binoculars, iPhones and movie cameras that are embedded along 14th street. Each object gives you a view of the existing street merged with narratives and projections of the past.

I really enjoy working with Marek & Wess. I also enjoy their skills in making cocktails and drinks. With them, there is always a new drink that needs to be mixed and tested. It could be a classic but also something totally new. With their help I have picked out three drinks from their cocktail collection, The Saint, Tatanka (a Polish classic) and Gingerish.

Cheers!

UPDATE: Just heard that Walczak & Heiss won  won the commission for Public Art for the gardens of the Berry Center, Wyoming. Congratulations to both of you!

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* St. Germain is an Elderflower liquor which you probably can substitute with something similar. You can also switch out this part with equal amount of Elder Flower cordial.

** Zubrówka is a Polish vodka flavored with bison grass.

*** For best flavor, infuse the ginger with the whiskey for at least 4 hours.

*

More drink links…

Pomegranate Molasses & Gin recipe diagram on kokblog

Akvavit recipe diagram on kokblog

Engineers guide to drinks post by Flowing Data

Making of a Kitchen Towel

Sunday, March 30th, 2014
news,potatoes,sweet — by Johanna

I have an announcement to make… I have set up a shop at SpoonFlower where I’m selling patterns for fabrics and gift wraps etc.

Some of the patterns are specially designed to make one single tea towel (see above) by selecting the Fat Quarter size (27″x18″) and their Linen-Cotton Canvas fabric. This fabric is also a perfect match for tablecloths, napkins, aprons, bags* etc. There are of course plenty of other options.

Soon there will be more patterns in the shop. For example I have been working on some flower patterns and as soon I have proofed the samples I will put them up for sale.

I hope you enjoy them.

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* for tote bags I would choose  their Heavy Cotton Twill fabric. Its a slightly thicker cotton canvas. See more fabric types here.

Your Spring Goat Cheese Primer (part 1)

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
cheese — by Johanna

A couple of posts back I had Tenaya Darlington, aka Madame Fromage, as a guest here on the blog. She wrote a beautiful and fun post about How to Turn Your Desk Into a Cheese Board. We enjoyed working together and decided to continue with a series that will highlight great dairy and pairings for each season. For our first seasonal post: what can be better in life than Spring, flowers and goat cheese?

Your Spring Goat Cheese Primer
By Madame Fromage

Along with daffodils and Easter bonnets, spring is the season of great goat cheeses. They appear like ice-white confections at cheese counters across the U.S. and in Europe, where they are often spectacularly cloaked in petals, pink peppercorns, or green herbs.

Some of the most sought-after specimen look like pug puppies, with ashy coloring and heavy wrinkles. Don’t be afraid. Most of these come from the Loire Valley, the seat of sweet, tender goat cheese that the whole world admires. In Paris, pairing one of these gems with a glass of Sancerre or rosé is a rite of passage.

The taste of Paris in spring can be yours, too, if you know how to identify superb fresh goat cheese (it should taste balanced, never sour) and what to serve with it. If you want to be clever, you can tell your friends why fresh goat cheese enjoys it’s fashion season in spring: it has to do with wee shoots and wildflowers.

The first meadow greenery is essentially extra-virgin grass, and when those lady goats enjoy their first romps’n nibbles, they produce milk that is sweetly delicate, even herbaceous. This makes the finest cheese.
Oh, bliss! Here are a few of my spring favorites…

Five Must-Try Goat Cheeses

The best place to shop is a reputable cheese counter. Remember, darlings, buying nice cheese is like buying diamonds — if you go bargain hunting, you won’t get the Tiffany-blue box. Avoid shrink-wrapped logs that are mass-manufactured. They’re fine for crumbling onto salads but, trust me, they will not induce reverie.

kindvall-Selles-sur-Cher

Selles-sur-Cher
This ash-coated round the size of your palm should resemble a very large Girl Scout Thin Mint. Selles-sur-Cher (pronounced sell-sur-SHARE)  is Loire Valley goat cheese at its best. Mild and very fresh, it has the consistency of damp earth. After several weeks of proper ripening, it becomes oozy around the edges and a little more pungent. Serve with rosé and anything raspberry. I love to eat it for breakfast with raspberry jam.

Caprino Fiorito
If you spy a little muffin topper from Piedmont rolled in petals – often chamomile blossoms – nab it before anyone else does. Great goat cheese starts with great milk, and the pastures of Piedmont produce lovely chèvre that tastes as pretty as it looks. Pour a glass of Prosecco, and enjoy Caprino Fiorito without any trappings, preferably after a long bath. It’s basically a cheese bath bomb; it will fill you with warmth, ease, and delight.

Saint Maure
You simply can’t miss this silvery log because it has a shaft of wheat running through its center. It’s really the Prada bag of goat cheeses, gorgeous and functional. The reed stabilizes the cheese and creates a little air tunnel so that the center won’t be mushy. Expect a light, dry texture, and a slightly flinty taste. This is a pretty cheese to drizzle with honey as you sip Sancerre over a plate of sliced Asian pear. Watch a French weepy, and call it your spring cleanse.

Clochette
Beautiful Clochette is bell-shaped (no surprise: the name means “little bell”), making it a perfect selection for Sunday brunch or an engagement party. Some refer to the rind as “wrinkly,” while others prefer to call it “textured.” Either way, don’t be afraid of the fleecy surface. It’s delicate and supple, a lovely contrast to the dense, damp center which is as rich as night cream. Pair this with lemon marmalade and French 75s after a vampish night on the town.

kindvall-cannonball

Wabash Cannonball
This little snowdrop speckled with peppercorns represents one of the best goat cheeses coming out the United States. Any cheese made by Judy Schad of Capriole Farm in Indiana is a must-nibble. It’s so compact and perfect, you should share it with a lover over glasses of sparkling lambic or eat it alone on a park bench without any disruptions, other than butterflies. Wabash C. is hard to find and very spendy, but worth every penny. Psst…don’t try to slather this on a baguette. It should be devoured like the best bon-bon in the world.

How To Dress Your Goat Cheese
Great fresh goat cheese needs no accompaniment, but if you’re searching for good matches, then reach for other spring fare. Every fresh thing from the farmers’ market pairs well, especially…

Wild strawberries
Raspberries
Homemade berry jam
Meyer lemon marmalade
Rhubarb compote
Honey, light and dark
Sautéed ramps
Sautéed fiddleheads
Steamed baby vegetables
Baby greens or micro greens
Radishes, thinly sliced with salt
Rosemary crackers

Describing Goat Cheese to Your Lover

Good goat cheese tastes bright. Like sunlight, like citrus. That’s because it’s acidic (think: lemons), more so than cheeses made from other milks. Fatty, it’s not. Goat cheese is very light and easy on the stomach. If you want to eat a cheese in bed, this is the one. If you have eaten goat cheese that tastes sour, tangy, or gamy (called “bucky,” after a male buck), you’ve probably eaten a goat cheese of poor quality.

Here’s what good fresh goat cheese often tastes like (saying these words makes for lovely pillow talk): herbaceous, floral, delicate, grassy, clean, bright, citrusy, mellow, woodsy, flinty.

Here are some common textures:
damp, dense, light, fluffy, smooth, creamy, clay-ey, icy, cool, downy (rind), rumpled (rind)

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Note: Thank you for reading Part I of our 4-part series. We are excited to share these seasonal cheese posts with you and hope that they inspire you to dream, to eat, to explore. In June, look for our post on great summer cheeses. Once we’ve completed all four seasons, we hope to present a calendar!

Late Summer Cheese Picnic (part 2)

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This post was also published at Madame Fromage

 

 

Plain Sourdough Bread

Thursday, March 13th, 2014
bread,diagrams — by Johanna

About two years ago I started my two sourdough starters, wheat and rye. Both of them are still active and have been with me back and forward to Sweden, London and Brooklyn. This summer I will bring them to Sicily and Amsterdam.

The breads I bake are often simple, with or without extra flavor (for e.g. Caraway, fennel or anise seeds, rosemary etc). The flours I mostly use are regular unbleached flour, whole wheat, dinkel or rye flour (mixed with regular flour or 100%). I have also baked with the addition of sunflower seeds, linseeds, prunes and with beer or my home made kefir instead of water. I also bake sourdough knäckebröd.
(I will share more of this eventually). The variations are endless, but I am always amazed how good just flour, water and a little salt can taste.

Plain Sourdough Bread
adapted from Peter Reinhart’s recipe of San Francisco Sourdough Bread, “artisan  bread every day”, Ten Speed Press, 2009.

gives 1 large, 2 medium or 3 smaller loaves

starter dough

60 grams (about ¼ cup, 60 ml) lively starter (rye or wheat), at room temperature
142 grams (2/3 cup,  a little less then 150 ml) water, at room temperature
230 grams (1 2/3 cups, 400 ml) all-purpose flour (unbleached)

the dough
(8-10 hours later)
all of the first starter dough
400 grams (1 ¾ cup, 400 ml) water, at room temperature
570 grams (4 cups, 945 ml) all-purpose flour (unbleached)
2½ teaspoon salt

starter dough (I suggest in the morning)
Mix together starter with water and flour until well blended and you can form a ball (this starter dough should feel like a dough and be sticky). Transfer to a slightly floured flat surface and knead for about a minute. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 8-10 hours (or overnight).

the dough (for e.g in the evening)
Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Place them in a bowl and pour over the water. With your fingers or a spoon loosen the pieces up in the water.
Add the flour and salt and mix together until well blended.
Let the dough rest uncovered for about 5 minutes.

The dough should feel slightly sticky and be flexible (add more flour or water if necessary). Transfer the dough to a slightly floured flat surface and knead for about 1-2 minutes.
Let the dough rest uncovered for 10 minutes.

Stretch and fold the dough. Form the dough to a ball and place in a bowl (slightly oiled), cover with some plastic wrap. Repeat the stretch and fold 1 – 2 times with 10 – 30 min rest in between.

Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1½ hour to 2 hours and place it in the fridge overnight.

The dough should have grown a little larger and it will increase in size some more in the fridge. (if you want to skip a slow rise in the fridge just let the dough rise outside for 3 – 5 hours before shaping).

Take the dough out of the fridge at least 4 hours before you plan to bake the bread in the oven.

After about 2 hours, shape the bread into 1, 2 och 3 loaves.

Flour all around and place on a floured (all purpose or semolina flour) tea towel (or use a bakers couche), see illustration above.
see illustration above. Cover with a tea towel and let proof for about two hours.

About ½ hour before baking, preheat the oven to 250ºC (480ºF). Place a baking sheet in the oven plus a smaller baking tin (for water to create steam while baking) on a rack underneath. If using a baking stone (which I don’t) you will need to preheat the oven earlier.

When it’s time, take out the warm baking sheet from the oven. Carefully transfer the shaped dough and drop each one onto the hot surface. Score the dough in a pattern you like with a sharp knife or a bread slashing tool (I use my sharp serrated bread knife).

Place the baking sheet in the oven. Pour some water, hot or cold into the baking tin below. Close the door.

After 15 minutes, open the oven door to let out some steam. The bread should have risen up nicely and started to get some nice golden color. Depending on size, bake for another 15 to 30 minutes.
Repeat opening the oven door every 5 to 10 minutes (I have been told that this should give the bread a nice crust). You can also turn the breads upside down to get a nice brown color all around.
The bread is done when it sounds hollow when knocking on the bottom. If you are not sure just bake it a little longer.

Let the breads cool on a cooling rack before slicing, at least 1 hour.

This bread is a quite simple bread that works by itself, dipped in olive oil or spread with butter. Its also great with cheese (goat cheese with honey and thyme is my favorite), thinly sliced dried sausage or toasted with jam for breakfast.

* You can of course shape this bread into rounds as well. Place them in bread baskets (banetons) or like me in small serving bowls lined with a floured tea towels.

some more links

Sourdough knäckebröd by kokblog
How to make a sourdough starter – movie by Iban Yarza (this is how I learned it)

3-2-1 Contact! – notes by Andrew Janjigian on how he feed levain (starter).
Pain de Martin’s bread movies
More shaping by Mark @ the Back Home Bakery
scoring bread post by the Fresh Loaf
Dan Lephard’s sourdough starter with raisins and yogurt post by Azelia’s Kitchen