Following my Dreams – Learning from a Master Baker

Fresh Baked Bread

I cook often and love it.  I’ve grown up with freshly made meals and continue to make that a large part of my life. Cooking happens mostly daily and is a necessity. You must cook in order to eat.

Baking on other hand is not usually a necessity.  Baking for me is a passion and an indulgence. Its not essential to eat a perfectly light victoria sandwich cake, a pistachio cherry biscotti with the right amount of crunch or a gorgeously crusty loaf of bread. However, the end results are extremely enjoyable to eat and share with friends. Who doesn’t love to eat baked goods? Anyone?

Baking is not only an indulgence for eating, but an indulgent process.  It usually requires much time, patience and precision, which are not always in abundance.  An afternoon spent baking lifts my mood and makes me excited and animated (probably also from eating all the sugar).

For a long time now I have dreamed of owning my own bakery.  The movie “Stranger than Fiction” made me want it even more. If only I could be Maggie Gyllenhaal and give up everything to make people happy all day.  Maybe one day I will pursue a similar path.

Fresh Baked Bread

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Pecan Tassies

Pecan Tassie

These little tartlets are just the perfect size and pack a very tasty punch.  They’re very much like a miniature pecan pie. Perfect for tea time (my obsession) or as a “light” dessert.

I have actually made these twice now. Once with pecans while in the states, once with walnuts. The ones in the picture are, as you can see, made with walnuts.  For some reason, Germans have an aversion to pecans (this is my theory anyway).

I visited about four different supermarkets looking for pecans in any shape or form and came up short.  Not only are they not available next to the 4 varieties of hazelnuts (chopped, sliced, ground, whole), 7 varieties of almonds (chopped, sliced, ground, slivered, whole, blanched, and marzipan-ed), and every other type of nut in the world, they cannot be found in any baked good or processed food anywhere.

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Lemon Curd Tarts

lemon tarts-2
Lemon curd is one of my favorite treats.  Lemon curd on a crusty piece of toast for breakfast.  Lemon curd sandwiched between two layers of victoria sponge. Especially in these gorgeous tarts.  A little bit of sweet, a little bit of tart and a touch of nuttiness from the crust. A perfect combination. These are super easy to make, don’t let the curd intimidate you.  They can also be made in advance and keep well in a air tight container.

Lemon Curd Tarts

Lemon Curd Tarts

Lemon Curd (recipe from Ina Garten)

  • 1.5 lemons
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • pinch of salt

Remove the zest of the one and half lemons using a microplane.  In a small bowl, mix together with the 3/4 cup of caster sugar until well combined.

In another bowl, cream the butter.  Next add in the sugar and lemon mixture. Mix well. Add in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Next add the lemon juice and salt and mix until just combined.

Pour the mixture into a small saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd is done when it has thickened, just before a simmer. Let cool completely before making the tarts.  This can be made in advance and stored in the fridge.  This recipe will probably make more than you need, and will be great on toast for breakfast in the morning!

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers
  • 2 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pulse together all the ingredients in a food processor until combined or combine well in a medium bowl.
Firmly press crumb mixture into a muffin tin. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until golden. Remove from the muffin tin and let cool on a wire rack.

When both the curd and crusts are cooled, fill each crust with small spoon.  Garnish with candied lemon or a thin spiral of lemon zest.  Enjoy!

Nutella Cupcakes

nutella cupcakes

Who doesn’t love a bit of Nutella in their life? These cupcakes hit the spot when you’re craving something seriously chocolatey and creamy (which I often do).  As rich as they are, sometimes one is just not enough!

They’re so quick and easy to make that you can always whip up a batch when that craving hits! A bit dangerous really.

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Carrot Cake

carrot cake

Carrot cake isn’t one of those show stopping cakes.  It isn’t piled high with layers and decorated with lots of frosting.  However, in my opinion its one of the tastiest and easiest to make.  Its one of those cakes that tastes better every day that you leave it making it a treat for as many days as you can manage to keep it from being finished! This is my favorite recipe for this cake – once you’ve tried it you will never look for another!

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White Bean Blondies

White bean blondies

I know what you’re thinking.  What do white beans have to do with these delicious looking blondies.  A year ago, I would probably have been thinking the same thing.  I have come a long way in my culinary adventures and things like white beans in sweet foods no longer make me do a double take.  I’m not sure if thats a good or a bad thing!

So these amazingly delicious blondies have no flour and are basically made from beans, oats and sugar.  Even if you’re a bit skeptical, you must try these! Though they’re not completely healthy with all the sugar involved, they’re still better for you than the original version.  Next time I would like to try substituting some of the sugar for dates as they’re quite sweet and have that ooey gooey texture too!

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