Remember me? No, I’m not dead yet. But I have a confession to make: I am awful – and I mean absolutely, terrifyingly, hopelessly awful – with computers and all kinds of technological devices. And so sometimes, I manage to lock myself out of my accounts. And sometimes, it all seems so, so complicated that I feel too overwhelmed to even try to get back on track.
I suck at this, and I know it.
So while I have gathered so much new content for this blog, I admit that I lacked the time, the motivation and sometimes simply the knowledge to put it all online. And being a perfectionist does not help.
But this is
not a time to dwell on such things. They are, if you look at the world and what’s
going on there, rather meaningless. Consider it just a little apology for my
These are crazy, surreal times to live in, and sometimes it does shock me how it brings out the worst in some people.
However, I will try to take this as an opportunity to get back on track with this blog, to spread some ideas and inspirations. Because these are times when most of us are stuck at home most of the time. If you’re an introvert like me, that’s not really a problem. But I know that a lot of people get bored and are right now looking for new things to do, new things to try.
And so I
thought… what better time to come back?
So to all
of you: I hope you will have a lovely Easter weekend with lots of time for the
people you love and the things you enjoy doing. Stay safe and stay healthy.
And, please, stay home.
And to make your home a little festive – although you likely have done that already – I will share some of my current Easter decorations for inspiration. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can find some more details on how to turn your home into a festive Easter palace on a budget in last year’s Easter post.
If you enjoy what you see here, don’t forget to like and subscribe! I will try to be better and put content up more regularly. Because I sure do have a lot of material to share.
How is it October already? Is it just me or did September simply fly by? I have to admit, it’s been an exhausting month and I didn’t see October coming and that’s something I do regret. October is my favourite month of the year after all, with its beautiful, opulent, warm colours and the first crisp nights. I love the crunching of dry leaves under my feet, the squashes and pumpkins, the gruesome joys of Halloween and those first long nights spent at home with candles and blankets and a hot cup of tea. Yes, you could say I love October quite a bit. Looking outside, there’s no denying it: autumn is here. And with it comes an abundance of apples! So what better way is there to eat apples than a delicious, moist layered autumn apple cake?
I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of apples in general, but this is a cake I bake every year. It simply tastes like autumn and is just as golden and rich as the colours of October itself. Credit for the recipe I used as a base goes to FlowerBomb at chefkoch.de. However, I did change a few things about the original recipe.
You will need quite some time to make this layered autumn apple cake, although it’s not quite as elaborate and time-consuming as the authentic German Baumkuchen I introduced in my last post. But it’s worth it, I promise. You can easily make this cake one day ahead. The apple filling will keep the sponge layers moist.
for the batter:
125g butter, softened
250g granulated sugar
half a vanilla bean, scraped
5 eggs, room temperature
for the filling:
100g raisins, soaked in 125ml rum (preferably overnight)
2kg apples (depending on the size of your apples, that may be anything from 10 to 20 apples, so better use a kitchen scale)
250ml white wine
1 organic lemon
150g granulated sugar
the other half of your vanilla bean, scraped
for the whipped cream:
250ml heavy cream
1 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
some more vanilla, if you’re not tired of vanilla yet
(note: if you wish to frost the entire cake, you might want to double the cream and sugar)
you will also need:
200g dark chocolate, chopped (about one cup)
Prepare your rum soaked raisins the night before you make the layered autumn apple cake. Therefore, fill your raisins in a jar or bowl and pour the rum on top. Mix well and make sure that the raisins are covered completely. Now cover the bowl or jar itself and let the raisins soak overnight. If you don’t have that much time or forgot to plan ahead, let them soak for at least five or six hours. Or buy ready-made rum raisins if they are available in your region.
Melt and temper your dark chocolate and fill it into a piping bag or a freezer bag. (This is not very environmentally friendly, I’m afraid.) Cut off the edge of your freezer bag until you get a small opening and pipe the shapes of autumn leaves onto a layer of parchment paper. You can use templates of leaves (there are many to find online – just google “autumn leaf shapes”) or do it freehand. If you use templates, place them beneath the parchment paper. You should be able to see through the parchment paper and trace the lines of your desired shapes with the chocolate. Let the chocolate leaves harden in the freezer or fridge. Or, you know, you can buy chocolate leaves or other cake decor, but how boring is that?
Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F.
For the sponge layers, sift your flour with the baking powder. Beat your butter and sugar until the mix becomes light and fluffy. Then add the scraped out vanilla bean and the eggs, one at a time. Add the sifted flour-baking powder mixture to your wet ingredients and mix until everything is well incorporated. Should the batter be too thick, add a splash of milk until you have a silky, light and fluffy batter.
Grease a round 8 or 9 inch (20-23cm ) baking tin. Spread about four tablespoons of your batter into the tin. The layer should be a little over 1/3 inch (about 1cm) high. Then bake the first layer for about 12 minutes until it turns golden and a tooth pick comes out clean. Release the first layer from your baking tin carefully, let it cool on a cooling rack and repeat this procedure until all of your batter is used up. You should end up with 6 to 10 layers, depending on the size of your baking tin and the thickness of your layers. Let your sponge layers cool on a cooling rack.
the apple filling
While your layers are baking, you can start preparing your apple filling. Therefore, zest your lemon and put the zests aside. Then squeeze out the lemon juice. Peel your apples and remove the core. Then, using a mandoline slicer, cut your apples into very fine slices. Mix with the lemon juice, so your apples won’t turn brown.
In a large sauce pan, mix the sugar, the scraped vanilla bean and cornstarch. Add the white wine and whisk everything well. Let the mixture come to a boil, then let it simmer for about a minute. Whisk like your life depends on it, because the mix will thicken very, very quickly and stick to your pan if you’re not careful. Add the raisins and the lemon zests. Fold in the apple slices and lemon juice mixture until everything is well incorporated. Let the filling cook very gently on low heat until the apples are softening just a bit. Let the mixture cool.
Put the first layer of sponge cake onto a pretty cake platter. Now place an adjustable cake ring around the first layer. It should encircle the sponge layer tightly. The adjustable cake ring should be at least 5 inches high (about 13 cm). This cake will be a high one, especially if you use a smaller baking tin. Of course, you can also assemble your cake without an adjustable cake ring, but it will look a little messy. As long as you don’t mind, you can leave the ring.
Now spread a layer of your apple filling onto the first layer of sponge cake. The apple layer should be about as thick as the sponge. Place another sponge layer onto the apple filling. Repeat until you have no sponge layers left, alternating between sponge and apple filling layers. Your last layer should be a sponge layer.
With the cake ring still attached, let your cake cool and rest for at least two hours in the fridge.
the whipped cream
Using an electric mixer, whisk the heavy cream. Gradually add the sugar (and vanilla, if desired) and beat until stiff peaks form. Don’t overmix, or you’ll get butter. Make sure your heavy cream is very cold. Or you’ll get butter, too. I find it helpful to put the whisk attachments of my mixer and the bowl I want to use into the freezer for a few hours before whipping the cream.
After at least two hours in the fridge, remove the cake ring very carefully. The apple filling should be firm enough now to make the cake stable. Frost your cake with the whipped cream. You can either only frost the top and decorate it using a piping tip and piping bag – or you can frost the whole cake (however, you might need some additional whipped cream for that). Now place your chocolate leaves carefully on top of your beautiful layered autumn apple cake. Once you’re done, don’t forget to like and subscribe if you enjoyed this recipe 😉
And don’t eat everything at once!
Once again, I use the metric system for its accuracy. Seriously, if you don’t have one already, get a kitchen scale. It’s so much more accurate than using measuring cups, and you will need accuracy for this recipe. But if you still want to use the cup-method, you can find cups-to-grams-converters online.
Note that due to the white wine and rum, this layered autumn apple cake is not suitable for children or people who can’t or don’t wish to drink alcohol, but for an alcohol-free version you can easily use apple juice or white grape juice instead of the white wine and soak your raisins in alcohol-free rum flavoured syrup.
What I love about the world today is how small it is. How easy it is to connect with people all over the globe. And despite the hate and separation and extremism we see and experience every day, that part makes me hopeful. It also makes me feel grateful for the friends I found all over the world, too. And every year I send Christmas packages to the US, to a very dear and cherished friend. And sometimes, when there is still enough space in the box, I put a German classic into those packages: authentic German Baumkuchen.
However, I can only send the storebought variety. So when this dear friend finally came to visit four years ago, Baumkuchen was what I baked for him. It also happens to be one of my husband’s favourites. Now, while there has been quite a hype around Baumkuchen in the past years and while there are indeed several ways to make this specialty, I’ve often found that most recipes I saw on the internet weren’t quite authentic. The recipe I’m going to share is one tried and true version of the delicious cake with the many layers.
Baumkuchen simply translates to “tree cake”, because of the “rings” that are created by baking the separate layers of the cake, not unlike the layers of a tree. Originally, the cake batter is poured over a rotating rod in front of a broiler to form the rings of your tree cake. Since few of us have that technology at home, the rings of homemade Baumkuchen will come as thin layers. But you need to know in advance: while an authentic German Baumkuchen impresses when it comes to both looks and taste, it’s a time-consuming, elaborate cake to bake. It will take at least two hours to make it and it will require your full attention so it won’t burn. But it will be worth it, I promise. And since it is sealed by a chocolate glaze once it’s cooled, you can easily make it one or even two days ahead.
This recipe uses metric measurements, because you will need the precise amounts of every ingredient. Please also note that this is a recipe containing a small amount of alcohol, so it’s not suitable for children or people who don’t or can’t consume alcohol.
this recipe requires two cake tins with the same diameter, an oven with a broiler setting, two large bowls and an electric mixer or stand mixer
Heat the marzipan with the rum in a small bowl. You can use a microwave to do that, but make sure to heat it in short intervals so you won’t end up with burnt marzipan. Stir thoroughly in between until you have a thick, gooey mixture. Let cool to room temperature again.
Set your oven to broil and let it preheat.
Mix and sift the flower, cornstarch and baking powder.
Separate your eggs. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until very stiff. In the second large bowl, mix the egg yolks, sugar, butter, the scraped vanilla and the bitter almond essence or extract. Beat the mixture on high speed using an electric mixer or stand mixer until it turns pale and fluffy. This might take a bit, so just keep going until you have the desired result. Stir in the softened rum-marzipan.
One spoonful at a time, add the mixture of flour, cornstarch and baking powder until everything is incorporated well. Fold in the egg whites until you have a very fluffy, light cake batter.
Now, your Baumkuchen-baking-adventure begins. If you need to pee, now’s the time do that, because from now on it will be unwise to leave the room for longer than a minute.
Spread about 3-4 tablespoons of your batter on the bottom of a greased springform or cake pan. The amount of tablespoons will depend on how big your cake tin or springform tin is. The layer should be so thin that you can almost see through it.
Bake the first layer for about 2 minutes under the broiler until it’s a lovely, deep golden brown on top. But you’ll have to watch your cake closely, because the layers are so thin that they burn quickly. You might have to remove your tin earlier or later than that, depending on your oven.
Depending on the temperature of the broiler in your oven, you might want to test the first layers of your Baumkuchen on one the lower racks. Because while you don’t want the layers to burn, you’ll also want to make sure that every layer is baked thoroughly, too. And if your cake layers remain pale, you can still move to a higher rack.
While one cake tin is in the oven, spread another very thin layer (again around 3-4 tablespoons depending on the size of your pans) on the bottom of your second cake tin.
Remove the first tin from the oven when the top is golden brown and it set aside to cool for a minute. In the meantime, bake tin number two.
Now spread another 3-4 tablespoons of batter onto your first layer of tin number one. Maybe you’ll scrape off a bit of your first layer in the process, because it didn’t set entirely. It happens. It won’t be the end of the world, I promise. Again, spread a layer so thin you can almost see through it.
Once tin number two is done and the surface is golden brown, remove tin number two from the oven. Let cool while the second layer in tin number one is baking. Then repeat the process.
You will always have one tin in the oven and one tin outside. While one layer bakes in the oven, you spread one new layer on top of the other cake.
Repeat the process until you have no more batter left. Let both cakes cool on a cooling rack.
While your cakes are cooling down, melt the butter and chocolate in a bain marie and stir well. Don’t overheat.
Stack your cakes on the cooling rack. Then pour the chocolate glaze over your cake. Make sure to cover the top and sides entirely to seal the cake.
Let the glaze cool and decorate your cake. You can use everything from confectioner’s sugar dusted on a stencil to fondant flowers, chocolate ornaments or dinosaurs. Or just leave it as it is. Most Baumkuchen cakes don’t last very long in our kitchen, anyway.
If you tried the recipe and enjoyed it, I’d be happy to hear about it! And if you like what you see here, don’t forget to subscribe and leave comments!
Note: Most recipes will tell you to use one tin. And you can do that. But it will take much longer than this method. By using two tins, you will end up with two smaller cakes that you can stack. And you will be much faster by working simultaneously with two tins.
And just like that… over three months have passed since I last posted here. It wasn’t planned. Because life sometimes has other plans. The last quarter has been pretty insane and unpredictable, and for many reasons. A rollercoaster of emotions and hell at work. It was supposed to be a quiet year. And I have noticed that I say this more often than I should. But when times are difficult, it’s all the more important to reflect on the precious things in life. To take the time to appreciate the people who are always there for you and who never fail to make you smile. Your friends and family, whether it be your chosen or biological family. And what better way to do that than surprising them with a birthday cake! This one was made for my wonderful husband, who loves tanks and dinosaurs. So, of course, for his very special birthday party this year, he got a velociraptor birthday party cake!
This isn’t a recipe for the cake itself – although it will follow, because it’s a German classic and one of my husband’s favourites. It’s a quick and simple instruction for a quick and simple way to decorate a birthday cake for your favourite dinosaur lover. (And the best thing is: you are never too old to love dinosaurs!)
I mean, look at that smile. What a charmer!
material & ingredients
1 birthday cake of your choice with your favourite chocolate frosting
1/2 cup of crushed Graham crackers or crushed sweet biscuits
1/4 cup of chocolate frosting
40-50 wafer rolls (depending on the size of your cake)
1 or 2 toy velociraptors (or other dinosaurs) that fit the size of your cake
3-5 fake/plastic succulents
and for the tiny dinosaur party hat (optional):
scrapbook paper or wrapping paper with a pattern of your choice
one tiny pompom
2-3 inches/ 5-8 cm of yarn (optional)
a round glass or tin with a diameter of about two inches (5 cm)
Cut your wafer rolls into different lengths using a sharp knife. Depending on the size and height of a cake, the smallest pieces should be about one inch (2,5 cm) long, the longest about 1 to 2 inches (2,5f to 5 cm) longer than your cake is tall. Apply a thin layer of chocolate frosting to the back of each wafer roll to make them stick to your cake. Now press them gently against the side of your cake, creating a wave-like pattern, starting with the shortest ones, then gradually using the longer ones and ending with the short ones again. (Just look at the pictures, you’ll get the gist.) This will be your “fence” for the dangerous dinosaurs.
Use your crushed Graham Crackers or sweet biscuits to create a small mound of “sand” on top of your cake. (Use a food processor on pulse or the classic ziploc-bag-and-rolling-pin method to crush your crackers. You don’t want to grind them into a powder, so leave a few chunky bits inside.)
Clean and dry your toy velociraptor (or velociraptors) and fake succulents. Place the dinosaur (or dinosaurs) onto the cake first, preferably in the centre. Then arrange the fake succulents around them. This will be your prehistoric vegetation.
If you don’t want to give your dinosaur a funny party hat, you’re already done here! Simple, isn’t it?
But everything is better with party hats, right? And a velociraptor birthday party cake just wouldn’t be complete without them.
the party hat
To make the party hat, use the tin or glass to draw a circle on the back of the paper. Now cut along the line and cut the circle in halves. Use one half to roll into a cone. Your paper will overlap quite a bit, but that’s fine. Because like this, you can determine how wide or narrow your cone will be. Every dinosaur head is different, after all. Glue the cone together, then glue your little pompom on top of it. Now glue the ends of the yarn to opposite ends of the inside of the party hat to match the width of your velociraptor’s head. Or just glue it directly on top of your dinosaur. Works just as well and is faster.
Now you’re done!
Told you, it’s quick and simple and you don’t need crazy cake decorating skills or fondant knowledge to make a cake that will impress and bring a smile to the faces of the people who make you smile.
Not even one week left until Easter and I must admit, I haven’t had the chance to decorate yet. But I finally have a few days off. Time to clean up and decorate and to prepare for one of my personal highlights of the year: our annual Easter brunch. It’s something that – although it is so much work – I am looking forward to every year. The preparations usually take about three days minimum and at the end I am awfully tired, my feet hurt and the kitchen is a mess. Sometimes I fall asleep in my armchair after the brunch. But you know what? It’s worth it. Every time.
So if you are like me and don’t have much time left, if you find yourself wondering what to make for your Easter brunch or afternoon tea: fret not! I have some last minute Easter nest cupcakes for you that will be quick and easy to make – and nobody will notice that you had to make them in a hurry. They are delicious and easily customizable and you can use what you find at the store or what you have at home. And they look festive and cute.
The ingredients are easy to get and you can choose whatever cupcake base and frosting you desire. You have your all-time-favourite cupcake recipe your great-grandmother passed on to you, for instance? Great, use it and turn your kitchen into a flour-dusted mess! That cake mix you still have in the pantry? Nobody will be able to tell the difference anyway! Use that box, mix your batter and scoop it into a 12-cup muffin tray to bake it. You don’t want to bake, at all? You don’t have to! Just buy some sweet mini muffins and use them instead. Chocolate, vanilla or raspberry-pistachio-truffle-champagne? You decide! Go nuts! Use whatever you crave and what you can get. For the frosting you should either choose a chocolate buttercream, a chocolate frosting or a smooth, stable frosting that you can dye with brown food colouring.
See? It’s that easy!
The only thing you might want to order or buy asap – if you don’t have it already – is a grass/fur piping tip. (I am not getting paid for this link.) A freezer bag with a tiny hole cut into it will do the job as well, but it will take forever to form a nest like that.
So, since we have already stated that we don’t have much time left, we’ll dive right into it.
last minute Easter nest cupcakes
12 cupcakes of your choice without frosting (either homemade or storebought)
2 1/2 cups chocolate frosting or chocolate buttercream (again either homemade or storebought)
36 mini eggs or candy eggs of your choice
sugar or candy flowers (optional)
a piping tip for grass and fur
a piping bag
Insert the piping tip into the piping bag and fill it with your favourite frosting. Pipe a circle of frosting or buttercream on top of your cupcake, then another circle directly on top of your first and repeat this step until you’ve build up a small nest-like cup. And the best part: you don’t have to be all too accurate. Because the little twigs of a bird’s nest most certainly aren’t arranged in a perfect circle.
Now fill your little nests with three mini eggs each and decorate with sugar flowers if you want to.
Didn’t see that coming, did you? I told you it would be simple and quick. You might even have the time now to try the recipe for my braided pesto bread with all that time you saved.
If you enjoyed this recipe and still have two seconds left, don’t forget to like and subscribe and let me know if you gave it a try!
I’ve already mentioned it, but every year we invite our dearest friends – our family – to a decadent, lengthy and delicious Easter brunch. And while there are a few dishes I make every year, there are some things I tend to experiment with. And two years ago, I brought in something new that quickly became one of my favourites: homemade braided pesto bread.
For a long time, I’ve been intimidated by the thought of baking with yeast. And sure enough I’ve experienced some epic failures, but over time I’ve grown more confident working with it. And, I won’t deny it, a new oven that could actually hold a certain temperature helped tremendously.
This braided pesto bread is made with a mixture of all purpose flour and rye flour. That means it’s heartier and even a little healthier and it makes it actually easy to prepare. While most yeast-based breads and pastries lose their specific flavour and consistency while freezing, you can make this bread in advance and store it in a freezer until you need it.
In this recipe, I will use metric measurements for the dough ingredients because they are more precise and will give you the best results.
braided pesto bread recipe
for the dough:
160 ml lukewarm milk
7 g (about 2 1/2 tsp) of active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
200g all purpose flour
100g wholegrain rye flour
3 tsp olive oil
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
for the basil-almond-pesto:
2 cups of fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese (parmesan works as well, but has a different flavour)
1/4 cup ground almonds
3-4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
another 4 tbsp grated pecorino cheese to sprinkle (optional)
Mix the sugar, milk and dry active yeast until the yeast has dissolved and begins to foam. Then mix the all-purpose-flour, rye flour, salt and baking powder and add the salt and yeast mixture. Knead it thoroughly for at least 4 to 5 minutes using the dough hooks of your mixer or spend a little longer kneading it by hand. Form a ball, brush it with some olive oil (this step is optional) and cover it with a kitchen towel. Let it rise for about an hour at a warm place. Avoid draft.
In the meantime, mix all ingredients for your pesto – the basil, garlic cloves, pecorino cheese, ground almonds and olive oil – in your food processor until you have a smooth pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can use parmesan cheese if you don’t get pecorino, but it will change the taste. I personally prefer the salty flavour of pecorino over parmesan.
Of course you can also use any kind of store bought pesto as well, but trust me when I say that nothing beats homemade pesto.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down and roll it out on a surface dusted with flour until you have a rectangle of about 40×20 cm (16×8 inches). Spread your homemade pesto on the rolled out dough. If you want to go all out, sprinkle with the left four tablespoons of pecorino.
Roll the dough from the longer side, then cut the roll lengthwise into two halves while leaving the top end attached. Now braid both strands by crossing one end over the other several times.
Now you can either put your bread into a loaf pan or directly onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Then cover your bread again with a kitchen towel and let it rise again at a warm place for about half an hour.
In the meantime, preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
After the bread has risen a second time, bake it in the oven for 25-30 minutes until it’s golden brown. Let cool and remove the bread from the loaf pan if you chose to bake it within a pan.
Let me know if you enjoyed the recipe and don’t forget to like and subscribe.
Last year, we spent the first Easter in our new home. It was such a magical time, everything being so new in our home. And on top of it, it was a year we’d had so much snow ever since February. It’s rather unusual where we live, so I celebrated every flake that fell from the sky. And sure enough, when Easter came in April, we were snowed it. One of our new neighbours even turned on the Christmas lights on his giant fir tree. We even built a snow Easter bunny! But money was tight, and I was challenged to create some Easter decorations on a budget.
It’s tradition that we invite our dearest, closest friends over for an excessive Easter Brunch every year. But after having just built a house and moved, and with so much more space to fill, holiday decorations were quite a challenge. And even if you haven’t just moved into a new home, every holiday can be quite expensive. So today, I’m going to show you how to create easy, but beautiful budget-friendly Easter decorations from things you may either have at home or can find at a dollar store.
1. Save money by reusing artificial flowers each year
Firstly: Yes, real flowers are beautiful and smell divine. I agree. But even if you aren’t like me – who has a black thumb instead of a green one – buying fresh flowers every Easter will cost you. There are some beautiful artificial flowers out there. And there are some horrible ones that already look cheap from a distance. So, even if you wish to create Easter decorations on a budget, don’t save money on the artificial flowers. Because even if you invest a few bucks more for beautiful ones it will still save you money on the long run. You won’t have to buy new flowers every year. Instead, you can reuse your flower arrangements every Easter anew. And if you find yourself on the wealthy side one year, you can still add fresh flowers to the mix.
Ikea is always a good place to find inexpensive but beautiful artificial flowers for budget-friendly decorations (no, I’m not getting paid to write this). Try to find “seasonal” flowers like buttercups, daffodils, hydrangeas or peonies. Cottage roses are a classic, too. And if you go with muted, matching colours or pastels, you have all the more freedom to use colourful vases or pots.
For this tiny bouquet, I used buttercups and artificial snowball hydrangeas in cream and green. I found a terracotta pot I had left from our wedding, and painted it in a cool rose-pink with acrylic paint. I trimmed my flowers, bound them together with wire, stuck them in a mini willow wreath and finally glued them to the terracotta pot with hot glue. Then I added a few speckled plastic mini-eggs and glued them to the arrangement, as well. It really is an easy, satisfying craft and doesn’t require a lot of time. In fact, the longest amount of time you will have to invest is the time it takes for the paint to dry. And it’s not only a good Easter decoration on a budget – you will also have a lovely gift for your dear ones to give away.
2. the cheapest easter decoration you can find…
… is one you already have at home, if you’re not vegan. So, my vegan friends, please bear with me for a moment.
You made scrambled eggs last week for breakfast and threw away the eggshells? You threw away a versatile Easter decoration. If you have never blown out eggs in your childhood, you were certainly missing. It does require a little delicate handling and time, but it’s inexpensive and fun. If you don’t know how to blow out eggs, a little online search will give you a quick idea. Make sure to wash out and dry your egg shells properly. I prefer painting them with acrylic paints in pastel colours, but you can use many techniques to decorate them, like gluing sequins or ribbons on the shells or using decoupage. There is really no limit to your creativity. And since you’ll need those eggs for your amazing Easter Brunch anyway, you can as well make use of the shells for decorations.
3. use what you already have at home
And while we’re already at that, you can use a lot of things you already have at home for your easter decorations on a budget. That old advent candle holder tray you have in your basement? Decorate it with flower garlands and rabbit figurines, add plastic eggs or your painted eggshells and use egg shaped candles where once your Christmas candles have been. Simple, right?
And I admit, I love those decorative, lacey trays and flower pots you can buy everywhere. They are so versatile. You can, for example, use them to hold a few easter eggs. It’s practical, budget-friendly and looks so pretty. Use another as a makeshift vase for your artificial roses or peonies and a third as a candle holder, place all three on a decorative tray, and you have a marvellous center piece!
You’re hosting an Easter Brunch or having a lovely Easter dinner or breakfast with your family? Don’t forget that you can also display your delicious food in decorative ways. These puff pastry apple roses, for example, are easy to make and look decorative as they are. But storebought Easter candy also makes a great decoration on plates or in bowls. Your dyed Easter eggs? It looks so pretty to gather them in a small bread basket and add some flower garlands or blossoms.
4. raiding the dollar store for budget-friendly decorations
If you want to create easter decorations on a budget, you will have to go to a thrift or dollar store at some point. Dollar stores are better than their reputation. Yes, there were those times when most items there were tacky and looked as cheap as they were, but you can find little treasures there, too. White is a classic and easy to combine. It’s minimalistic and versatile at once. Try to find white or pastel coloured little figurines of rabbits or birds. They don’t have to be huge. Two small figurines placed in front of a flower pot will give your home a subtle Easter touch without being overwhelming. These two together cost me one Euro.
5. combining is key
Now that you have painted your blown out eggs, bought some bags of plastic or glass eggs and all those pretty flowers, it’s time to combine it all. Use vases or bowls you already have at home. For this easter nest, I used plastic dollar store Easter eggs and painted real eggshells. I filled a glas bowl I already owned with willow and artificial flower garlands from the dollar store. Then I added the eggs and a few single flowers and feathers. It’s so simple, but makes a beautiful center piece for your Easter table.
You see, there is no limit to your imagination and creativity! Be careful with mixing too many, too bright colours if you want to go for an elegant, subtle look.
Easter decorations on a budget don’t have to look cheap. It only requires a bit of your time and creativity, and a trip or two to the dollar store. Don’t forget to like or subscribe if you liked this and make sure to share your own DIY Easter decorations on a budget!
I have admitted it before: I don’t like spring and summer. And many allergics might nod their head now in silent agreement. But there is one thing I am looking forward to whenever the temperatures go up: an abundance of fresh, ripe and delicious vegetables. And this veggie packed spring bowl will definitely bring a delicious garden of healthy greens to your plates.
And the best part? All those veggies are topped by crispy halloumi cheese (or tofu for a vegan version), walnuts and a wild-garlic dressing with lemon and ground almonds. If you haven’t heard of wild garlic yet, you are certainly missing out. But fret not, this veggie packed spring bowl is your chance of getting to know this awesome superfood.
Ramson / wild garlic
Wild garlic – also known as ramson or bear’s garlic, depending on where you live – doesn’t come in bulbs or cloves. It comes in elegant, deep green leaves with a heavenly scent. The plant is also known for its antiseptic, antibacterial and antibiotic properties and is even considered to lower blood pressure. It doesn’t get any better than that? Oh, it does! Because its aromatic flavour – that faintly resembles the garlic you know and possibly love – is perfect for breads, dips, pestos and many other things. You see, I could gush for hours, and there will be more posts about the many benefits and uses of wild garlic in the future. So consider this a sneak peek of things to come.
Wild Garlic Paste
This recipe requires a wild garlic/ramson paste. It’s vegan, very easy to make and I make sure to always have some in the freezer during the spring and summer months. To make ramson paste, you need to wash the leaves of wild garlic thoroughly and cut off the stems. Then blend about 40-50g of the ramson together with 2-3 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper, until it forms a smooth, spreadable paste. You can freeze the wild garlic / ramson paste in ice cube trays in little portions for about 4-6 months. It’s a delicious dip on its own, can be used as a sandwich spread or to flavour dressings like the one you will need here.
a spring bowl packed with superfoods
But wild garlic isn’t the only plant that makes this veggie packed spring bowl so healthy. Superfoods like spinach, asparagus and walnuts boost your immune system and health after the cold winter months.
You can easily adapt this spring bowl to your dietary requirements and preferences. For a low carb version, simply serve the veggie-packed spring bowl without the rice. And if you live vegan, the halloumi cheese can easily be replaced by tofu of your choice. I would recommend to marinate the tofu in soy sauce before frying it, though.
(yields 2 really big portions)
For the spring bowl
3/4 cups (about 120g) basmati rice
1 tbsp (about 10g) black rice
2 cups fresh spinach leaves (or lettuce)
1/2 of a large cucumber
8-10 red radishes
4 tbsp crushed walnuts
1 avocado (optional)
1 green onion, cut into fine rings
200g halloumi cheese (or marinated tofu for a vegan version)
2 tbsp olive oil
For the dressing
juice of one lemon
2 tbsp wild garlic paste (see instructions above)
2 tbsp ground almonds
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
sweetener of choice to taste (honey, stevia or maple syrup work well)
Cook your rice according to the instructions on the package. Usually, it takes two cups of salted water per one cup of rice to get a good result. I use my rice cooker, but an ordinary pot will do just as fine.
For the spring bowl dressing, fill the lemon juice, ramson paste, water, two tablespoons of olive oil and ground almonds in a mason jar and shake very well. Use salt, pepper and sweetener to taste. Then shake again and set aside.
Wash and clean your vegetables. After that, cut the red radishes, your cucumber and green onion in fine slices. Remove the pit and skin of your avocado and cut it in slices, as well.
Wash your spinach leaves or lettuce. If desired, cut the lettuce into smaller pieces.
In a pan, heat the leftover olive oil. Wash and clean the asparagus and fry them in the hot oil for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Then add the halloumi cheese or marinated tofu. At last, add the cut avocado to the pan and fry everything until the asparagus is browned and the halloumi cheese (or tofu) is crispy. Salt to taste.
Now you only have to assemble your veggie packed spring bowls! Fill two bowls with rice. Then top the rice with one half of the cucumber and red radish slices and the spinach leaves or lettuce. Add the avocado and one half of the asparagus and halloumi / tofu to each bowl. Drizzle with your wild garlic dressing and sprinkle with crushed walnuts and green onion rings.
Enjoy your veggie packed spring bowl while the asparagus and rice are still warm.
Don’t forget to like and subscribe if you enjoyed this recipe and to let me know if you tried it!
I have a confession to make: I don’t like the spring. The only season I dislike more is summer. I’m a cold weather person. Yes, that kind of thing does exist. But just like this… it’s March again. And spring is just around the corner. Everyone is waiting eagerly for the first warm days, for flowers and sunshine and backyard barbeques. So here is a recipe for you that brings spring to your kitchen and flowers to your plate: Delicious puff pastry apple roses. And the best part? These beautiful pastries are so versatile and easy to make! 6 ingredients and 9 steps are all it takes.
You want to surprise your sweetheart with a candle light dinner for two? Try orange and thyme flavoured pasta with crispy salmon and serve puff pastry apple roses for dessert. What better way to start a cozy evening together? They are a wonderful, delicious goodie to bring to your best friend’s birthday party, as well. Hosting a tea party? No problem. These elegant pastries will turn your table into a piece of art.
I promise there will be a recipe and instruction in 9 steps at the end, so please bear with me.
Yes, it’s a trendy dessert
But why, you may ask, why yet another recipe for this particular dessert? Yes, I agree, there are a billion recipes for puff pastry apple roses out there. I’ve seen them with cream cheese, with jam, with cinnamon roll dough instead of puff pastry or made into a pie. You might think the world doesn’t need yet another variation. But I’ll tell you something: if you are like me, and you have a beloved munch-monster at home that will demand the same dessert over and over again, you learn a few tricks and hacks along the way. I have such a beloved munch-monster around, and he loves – you guessed right – puff pastry apple roses. It’s one of his favourite desserts, and I make them for his birthday party every single year.
I’ve seen my fair share of pastry fails online, and I’m here to show you in 9 simple steps how to avoid making certain mistakes that I’ve seen a lot.
closely, I’ll show you a few tricks.
The first common mistake I’ve seen are apple-slice-petals that are way too thick. If you cut your apple slices too thick, they will not look like a rose, and even worse, your puff pastry might get soggy in the oven. But if you’re like me, and you missed the last “how to use a knife” master class of your local Michelin-star decorated chef, you will need to cheat a bit. Because you’ll want apple slices thin enough to see the light shine through. So dust off your old mandolin slicer and slice away those apples! Just remember to pick apples that are not too large for the tool.
And since I
missed the last “how to use a knife” class, I use a piping tip to punch out the
apple core in each slice. It will save you a lot of time, and most of the apple
slice will stay intact.
The second thing I’ve noticed is that the roses often consist of only a few petals. It can look nice, to have only five or six petals in your puff pastry rose, but I prefer my roses opulent and rich. Instead of five or six petals, I aim for layering at least 10 or 12 apple slices per pastry for a rich bouquet. Yes, that does mean you will need about 120-140 slices for twelve roses.
you, it’s not.
In the end, it’s basically just 9 simple steps and 6 ingredients:
1: slice those apples and microwave them
2: punch them
3: cut the pastry
4: spread the jam
5: sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar
6: spread out the slices
7: wrap them
8: roll them
9: bake them
Not that bad, is it?
Are you ready for the full recipe now?
2 packages of puff pastry
3-4 ripe, red apples
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup peach or apricot jam (other jam will do just fine, though)
5 tbsp caster sugar, mixed with 2 tsp cinnamon
12 muffin or cupcake paper liners
(yields 12 apple roses)
Slice the apples until you have about 120-140 slices on a mandoline slicer (yes, that’s a lot, but the slicer will help you). Microwave your apple slices in a microwave-safe bowl filled with water and lemon juice for short intervals until they are soft and flexible enough for rolling them. Then punch out the cores with a piping tip according to the step-by-step picture. Be careful, though, they will be hot! Cut your slices in halves.
Cut your puff pastry into twelve stripes. Spread the apricot jam thinly on the puff pastry stripes, then sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar. Now place the slices on the jam and let them overlap as seen on the picture. Fold thehalf of your puff pastry that isn’t covered in apple slices over said apple slices, then roll them to a rose and place them in cupcake liners.
Bake them in a muffin tray for about 30-40 minutes at 180°C/ 350°F. Check them every now and then, but it’s not the end of the world if the top of your apple slices get a little dark and crispy.
Voilá! You’ve done it! Now impress someone with your puff pastry apple roses! They are best when made fresh. Try them with vanilla sauce or whipped cream!
A beautiful word in German that can’t be properly translated into English. One of my favourite words in my mother tongue, and one that describes a yearning I know all too well ever since my teenage years. Many try and use “wanderlust” instead in English, but it doesn’t have the same connotation. Because we do have the word “Wanderlust” in German, as well. It describes an excitement, a passion for travels. The desire to wander off.
But “Fernweh” means something entirely different. It’s an ache that’s hard to put into words. It’s a yearning for places far away. Sometimes for distant places you can’t even describe, places you don’t even have a name for. A vague destination that can only be described as “somewhere, but not here”. It’s the call of the foreign. It describes the dreaming of distant places that appear magical and irresistible, and sometimes only because they are so out of reach. It’s the tearing sensation in your chest when you look at the horizon, or when you watch cars and ships and trains moving towards destinations unknown to you.
Sometimes, the charm and magic of the foreign disappears the very second you are there. Then the foreign isn’t as foreign anymore. The curiosity is satisfied. The charm is gone. The charm of Marseille, for example, disappeared the very second I saw garbage in the stinking water of the harbour many years ago.
Some places lose their fascination once you’ve visited them.
Some don’t. Some are still calling you, even after you’ve seen them, after you’ve been there. The UK has been one of those places for me.
I don’t travel nearly as much in my life as I’d like to. But I love it. I’ve been to Italy, Austria, Poland, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark and the US. Not an impressive list, I know. But the country I love most, the country that makes me feel so at home and at the same time so far away from my every-day-problems and worries is the United Kingdom.
So whenever we have that bit of extra money left… we go there. Again, not nearly as often as I’d want to, and not nearly for as long as I’d like to, but it happens from time to time.
So the reason why it’s been so quiet around here lately was a quick trip to London that began exactly one week ago.
It was only a short stay of four nights with little time to see all the things we wanted to see, but it was a much needed distraction and escape anyway.
We weren’t all too lucky with our transports this time, so we lost almost two whole days for the actual journey. Which is a lot, considering we live in Germany and not far away from Great Britain. We had to deal with several delays, cancelled buses, unreliable timetables and even a medical emergency on our flight back which caused yet another delay. And because of that, our list of places to see and things to do was cut short.
So now that the post-travel-blues has set in, now that the “Fernweh” – this vague ache and longing for the distant world – floods the heart once again, I’m sorting through countless pictures, thinking of the places I’ve seen. And the ones I didn’t manage to visit.
There will be proper reports about our days in London soon. But I still need to sort through photos and edit them before I can write and put it up. And that might take a while.
Especially when the heart gets lost while looking at pictures of a place that’s still calling…
Five years ago, pretty much exactly around this time, I visited a friend in the United States. It was the first time for me to leave my continent behind to cross an ocean. And, oh boy, was it an adventure! Me, alone in a different country, in a place where nobody spoke my language, among people I had never met before in person. And although this was five years ago, it feels like it was yesterday.
And that first night, after being on my feet for about 20 hours, when I was still terribly insecure and incredibly jetlagged and tired, when everything was new and strange and a little overwhelming, I had broccoli cheddar soup at a TGI Fridays with my friend and his friends. At the other end of the world. I hadn’t known TGI Fridays before. And neither had I tasted a soup this rich and creamy and cheesy before.
And while, sadly, this friendship doesn’t seem to exist anymore and my friend walked away – as life happens sometimes along the way while you’re busy making other plans – this recipe remains. I make it every year around this time. I make it every year in late January, when the memories are vivid and my heart is heavy.
The base for this recipe was one of those Panera copycat recipes for broccoli cheddar soup that are floating around, but I adapted it.
So, this is my own take at a classic that is surprisingly little known in my own country. And while it certainly can’t live up to that first taste, that first bite of adventure, it will always taste a little like friendship and excitement to me.
Do yourself a favour and use freshly ground or grated nutmeg for this recipe. Any recipe, to be honest. I know so many people who use powdered nutmeg and trust me, that little extra work – let’s face it, it’s only a matter of 30 seconds, and maybe you’ll grate away a bit of your fingernails – will be so worth it.
(yields 4 portions)
1 large onion, chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
480ml or about 2 cups of milk
725ml or about 3 cups of vegetable stock
3 bay leaves
1/4 tsp nutmeg, ground
1 pinch of red chili flakes
1 large broccoli head (about 4-5 cups), cut into small florets
2 large carrots, diced
250g grated cheddar
In a large pot, melt the butter and sauté the onion until it’s tender. Add the flour and whisk until everything is combined. Let it brown a little before adding the milk and the vegetable stock. Whisk very well so that no lumps of flour remain. Bring to a boil and let it thicken before turning down the heat.
Add the bay leaves, nutmeg, chili flakes and pepper. Salt to taste.
Add the broccoli and carrots and let everything simmer for about 20 minutes. At last, add the grated cheddar and let it melt before blending the soup until you have the preferred consistency. Sometimes I like it a little chunky, sometimes I prefer a very smooth consistency, but it’s delicious either way.
I prefer using an immersion blender, but a regular one works just as well.
I had a hard time deciding which recipe should be the first on this blog. And I have so many to choose from. I chose this one, because this is often the first meal I cook in January. Orange and thyme pasta with a crispy, delicious salmon on top. It’s become something like a “New Year’s recipe”, so to speak.
I got inspired by a restaurant visit many years ago. It’s a busy but cosy place we have dined at frequently ever since 2001. On their menu is a rich and creamy pasta, flavoured with orange and thyme and topped with crispy, delicious salmon.
And one day, I decided I didn’t want to drive all the way into town to enjoy this amazing pasta. I went straight to the kitchen to recreate the dish. And it’s surprisingly easy, as well!
So here it is:
(yields 2 portions)
200ml heavy cream (about 1 cup)
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 organic oranges (this is important because you will need the zests)
two filets of salmon (about about 100-125g)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch red chili flakes
4-5 saffron threads
250g pasta of choice
sea salt and pepper to taste
Slowly heat the cream in a medium sauce pan. Add the fresh thyme sprigs, the red chili flakes and saffron threads and let it simmer gently for about ten minutes.
In the meantime, zest one of the oranges and squeeze out the juice. Add both to the thyme-infused cream. Cut the second orange into filets and set them aside. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cook your pasta of choice according to the instructions on the package.
Wash the salmon filets and pat them dry gently. In a heavy pan, heat the olive oil and add the salmon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fry until the outside is crispy. (Don’t fry salmon for too long, in any dish. The secret to a perfect salmon is to have the inside just on the verge of being soft and almost glossy.)
Once the pasta is tender, drain it. Don’t rinse. The starch of the pasta will help the sauce to stick. Remove the thyme sprigs from the sauce pan, pour the creamy sauce over the pasta and mix both gently.
Serve the pasta topped with the orange filets and the crispy salmon. Decorate with sprigs of thyme or orange slices, if desired.
I use my own homemade orange-thyme infused sea salt for the salmon. It’s surprisingly easy to make. So if you flavour your own salt, use it for extra flavour. If you don’t make your own flavoured salt already, there will surely be an instruction on this blog in the future. Because it’s so worth it!
Every year on New Year’s Day – just after midnight – a dear friend of mine lets us all draw a tarot card. Although I’m not an excessively spiritual or esoteric person, it has been a helpful ceremony for me that I’ve come to cherish. And this year, my card told me to start something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long, long time now. It told me it would be a good year to start new things and to create.
Admittedly, after 2018 – a year of great success but even greater loss, a year of mourning and, yes, even death – this sounded like a good idea. A new start. Something productive. To create something new from the rubble of what’s lost. To look at what’s in front of me instead of what’s behind me.
So here I am. Just before January is over.
In the past years, I’ve been hoarding hundreds of pictures of food and cakes and my little journeys and my flashdrive is about to explode. The idea of creating a baking and food blog has been on my mind for years now, but I never found the courage. It seemed like such a terribly challenging and intimidating project. But I’ve been repeatedly encouraged to share my creations.
So this is what this blog will be about. Delicious food, scrumptiuous cupcakes that I make for my friends, my sometimes entirely unsuccessful attempts of creating cakes and easy DIY projects. It will also be about travelling and the places I have seen, the places I carry in my heart.
I don’t have a super fancy kitchen and I don’t have a hobby room. But I have a burning passion for the things I do. I make things. I bake and cook and sew and craft.
which you will find here.
Hi. My name is Rika. You may also call me Batman, but that’s too long a story to tell in my first post.