German Gingerbread

Christmas is known for bringing out the ancestral origins in all of us, with every culture celebrating the holidays enjoying their specific holiday foods. Although my parents were born here in Canada, our German heritage was very evident in my mother’s cooking and baking.

One cookie that has been made specifically for holidays for hundreds of years is gingerbread. Across Europe you will find many versions of the spicy cookies in different shapes, colors and textures.

‘Lebkucken’, a traditional German gingerbread was invented by medieval monks in Franeonia, Germany in the 13th century. Prepared in monastery bakeries with ingredients that not only had symbolic religious meaning but were highly prized for their healing properties.

There are a variety of types of lebkucken, each distinguished by slight alterations in ingredients. Most common ingredients include:                            * honey, flour, sugar and eggs    * gingerbread spice mix or ‘Lebkuckengewurz’  * almonds, hazelnuts and/or walnuts  * candied lemon and orange peel.   The most critical ingredient being the ‘exotic’ spices from all around the world such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, anise, cardamom, coriander and ginger.

Lebkucken can be round, square or rectangular. They can be glazed or not. Sometimes cocoa is mixed in with the dough making it rich and chocolaty. Other times, roasted apple, marzipan or cashews may be mixed in to add different flavors and textures.

‘Elisen lebkucken’ are the highest quality made. They must have at least 25% almonds, hazelnuts and/or walnuts and must contain no more than 10% flour if any. The ‘Nuremberg lebkucken’, baked in the city of Nuremberg, Germany, are known worldwide to be the best. Marzipan is often an ingredient in these gingerbread.

Of course this brings me back to another memory. Some years ago I had the experience of spending some time in the presence of a Dutch baker. At Christmas time, he would bake these incredible Dutch cookies called ‘Speculaas’ that were filled with marzipan and had that glorious similar spice blend. I just loved it and can’t resist making some version of it every Christmas season since.

Today, I’m making a large batch of lebkucken which I’m going to divide. Half of it is going to be made into ‘glazed’ triangles and the other half  I want to dip in white chocolate and add a little holly decoration. Should be good!

German Gingerbread
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Gingerbread cookies that are rich with warm spices, toasted nuts and candied fruit.
Servings
32 TRIANGLES/26 COOKIES
Servings
32 TRIANGLES/26 COOKIES
German Gingerbread
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Gingerbread cookies that are rich with warm spices, toasted nuts and candied fruit.
Servings
32 TRIANGLES/26 COOKIES
Servings
32 TRIANGLES/26 COOKIES
Ingredients
Gingerbread Dough
White Chocolate Icing
Glaze
Servings:
Instructions
Gingerbread Dough
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet & toast until the skins blister, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer nuts to a clean kitchen towel & rub together to remove the skins. Cool completely.
  2. In a small bowl, combine almond meal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices & salt. Transfer hazelnuts to a food processor, add walnuts, candied citrus rind & crystallized ginger along with 1 cup of the dry ingredient mixture; pulse until very finely chopped. Add remaining dry ingredients & pulse ONLY to combine.
  3. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat butter with brown sugar until creamy. Add honey & beat until smooth. Add eggs & vanilla, beating to combine. Fold in dry ingredients then beat until evenly combined. Divide the dough in half. Wrap in plastic wrap & chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Line an 8 x 8-inch square baking dish with 2 pieces of parchment paper (this will allow you to easily remove squares fro the pan). Spread the half of the chilled dough evenly into baking pan & bake in the center of the oven until surface is dimpled & a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. The cake should be springy but firm. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
Glaze
  1. In a bowl, whisk powdered sugar with your choice of flavoring & water to make a thin but spreadable glaze. Spread glaze on just-warm cake & let cool completely. Remove cake (with parchment) from pan onto cutting board. Cut 16 squares then cut each square into 2 'triangles' giving you 32 pieces.
Making Individual Cookies
  1. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop about 1 1/2 Tbsp dough out at a time. Roll into balls. Place on parchment about 2-inches apart & bake at 350 F. for 15 minutes or test with a toothpick. Remove from oven & cool completely.
White Chocolate Icing
  1. In a microwave safe bowl, melt white chocolate chips with 1 Tbsp shortening on HIGH for 10 second intervals, stirring between intervals, until melted, smooth & fairly runny. Dip half of each cookie in melted white chocolate mixture then run bottom of cookie slightly along edge of bowl to remove excess. Place on parchment paper to set at room temperature.
  2. For the holly decoration, melt candy melts, one color at a time. Place in a small piping bag with a #4 tip & pipe decorations. Allow to set up at room temperature. You should have around 26 cookies.
Recipe Notes
  • If you would like a dark depth of flavor, add 2 Tbsp dark, unsweetened cocoa to your cookie dough as well as using a dark brown sugar instead of the light.
  • If you prefer to not make 2 different versions, make the whole recipe into either bars or rounds -- your choice!
  • This is one of those cookies that gets better as it ages.
  • Something I did & found it worked well was to portion out my cookies before chilling the dough.
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Pumpkin Cranberry Spice Roulade

Thought of by some as old fashioned or outdated, the ‘Roulade’ cake may have been around a long time, but done right  they are moist and deliciously nostalgic.

Sweet dessert roulades are based on a whisked egg mixture and contain very little or no flour. They bake faster than most cakes and are finished with any filling you choose, from simple to elegant.

Pumpkin Roulades bring the comfort and tradition of a pumpkin pie. This particular one that I have featured in today’s blog, brings together three great flavors — pumpkin, cranberry and cream cheese.

It comes together quickly, keeps well, travels well making it perfect to take along to Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings.

 

Pumpkin Cranberry Spice Roll
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Servings
5-6
Servings
5-6
Pumpkin Cranberry Spice Roll
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Servings
5-6
Servings
5-6
Ingredients
Pumpkin Spice Cake
Cranberry Jam
Cream Cheese Filling/Topping
Servings:
Instructions
Cranberry Jam
  1. In a small saucepan, bring sugar, salt & water to a boil. Add cranberries, reduce heat & simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly then process for a few seconds in a food processor. Add orange zest; stir & set aside to cool completely.
Pumpkin Spice Roll
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices & salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat eggs, vanilla & sugar until mixture is pale yellow & fluffy. Add pumpkin puree & mix to combine. Fold in the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, spread the cake batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake for about 10-13 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched & tests done in the middle.
  3. While cake is baking, make CREAM CHEESE FILLING. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter & vanilla until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Remove cake immediately from the oven; invert onto a clean tea towel that has been lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar. Remove parchment paper & carefully roll cake in jelly roll fashion in tea towel.
  5. When cake has cooled completely, carefully unroll & spread with a layer of cranberry jam. Next top with a layer of cream cheese filling. Carefully re-roll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap & refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.
  6. Decorate with remaining cream cheese topping & cranberries (I saved a few whole ones from the cranberry jam). Add a few 'kiwi' leaves & you got it!
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Halloween Cookies

Halloween is one of the oldest holidays in the world. Few people are aware that its roots date back to Samhain, the ancient Gaelic harvest festival celebrated in Celtic countries, such as Scotland, Ireland and Wales. It was believed that spirits from the underworld and ghosts          of dead people could visit the world of the living on the night of          October 31st. These spirits could harm the living or take them back          to the underworld. To avoid this, people started dressing up as ghosts and spirits, if they left their homes, to confuse the underworld spirits. Bonfires and food played a big part in the festivities.

Over the years, Samhain became merged with the later Christian holidays of  All Saint’s Day  on November 1st and  All Soul’s Day  on November 2nd. This explains our modern holiday’s focus on spirits and the dead.

Halloween traditions were brought to America by the Irish and Scottish immigrants. Through time other traditions have blended into Halloween for example the harvest time tradition of craving pumpkins. 

Brion and I live in a ‘young’ neighborhood. We’ve been very fortunate to have great neighbors on either side of us. One family has two boys and the other side has two girls. It is fun to make something special just for ‘our’ little people. This year, I’m making some Halloween cookies for their treat. My choices are SPIDER WEB & 3-D PUMPKIN  cookies! Hope they will like them.

Halloween Cookies
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Servings
4 1/2 Dozen
Servings
4 1/2 Dozen
Halloween Cookies
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Servings
4 1/2 Dozen
Servings
4 1/2 Dozen
Ingredients
3-D Pumpkin Cookies
Servings: Dozen
Instructions
3-D Pumpkin Cookies (30)
  1. For each 3-D pumpkin you'll need: (2) Orange scalloped or plain circle cookies 1 7/8" diameter. (2) Orange scalloped or plain cookies 2 1/4" diameter with a 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" circle cutout. (1) Green scalloped circle 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" diameter with a hole cutout in the center using a straw. (1) Green stem, made from rolling a small amount of green dough into a 'snake', & cutting it into pieces about 3/4" long, then bake. Feel free to adjust the sizes a bit based on the cutters you have, or the finished size you desire.
  2. Place chilled orange colored dough on a LIGHTLY floured work surface. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of dough. This helps to roll out the dough without adding additional flour. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 of an inch thick. Cut out pumpkin pieces ( 4 per cookie ). Place cookies on prepared baking sheet, topped with either silicone liners or parchment paper. Remove green colored dough from refrigerator; roll as above, cut lid circles & stems ( 1 each per cookie ). Make sure to only put cookie pieces of similar size on the same baking sheet to ensure even baking. Place entire baking sheet (with cookies on it) in the freezer or refrigerator for about 3-5 minutes. This will help them to keep their shape while baking. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Bake cookies for 5-6 minutes depending on their size. Bake ONLY until they are just barely beginning to take on a golden tone. After a minute or so, remove cookies from baking sheet to cooling rack. Once cooled, you are ready to assemble the pumpkins.
  4. Starting with one of the solid circles & one cutout circle. Add a line of your 'cookie icing' onto the solid circle, then place cookie 'ring' on top.
  5. Add a line of cookie icing onto the first cookie 'ring'. Add the second cookie 'ring'. The base of your pumpkin is now complete.
  6. Assemble the pumpkin top by first attaching the small green stem to the green circle (using a bit of cookie icing). Then add a line of icing onto the bottom of the green circle, & place the green circle on top of a solid orange circle.
  7. Allow the pumpkin top & pumpkin base to dry completely for at least 1-2 hours. Fill pumpkin cavity with mini M&M candies. Arrange on serving dish with tops.
Spider Web Cookies (24)
  1. Place remaining chilled dough a LIGHTLY floured work surface. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of dough. Roll dough to 1/8" - 1/4" thickness. Cut circles using a 3-inch round cookie cutter. Place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 6-8 minutes, until just golden. Do not allow cookies to brown. After a minute or so, remove cookies from baking sheet to cooling rack. Cool completely.
  2. Reserve some regular chocolate chips for spider bodies, however many you plan to make. Place remaining regular chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl with 1 TBSP shortening. Heat in microwave on high for 1 minute bursts, stirring after each minute, until chocolate is melted & smooth. Dip half of each cookie into chocolate & set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, quickly melt white chocolate chips with 1 TBSP shortening the same way as the semi-sweet chocolate. Pour melted white chocolate into a zip lock baggie & cut off a tiny piece of one corner. Make semi-circles on the dipped chocolate part of the cookie. Use a toothpick & draw lines through both dark & white chocolate from the center out to the outside edge of the cookie to create a web effect.
  4. Place a little drip of melted chocolate on the cookie near the web. Use a toothpick to draw out 8 legs from the chocolate. Place a regular chip at one end for the spider body & a mini chocolate chip at the other for the head. Place the cookies on wax paper & allow chocolate to cool & harden before serving.
Recipe Notes

Royal Icing

  • 1 egg white                                                             
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • orange gel food color
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • With an electric mixer, whip egg white, extract & color until frothy. Slowly beat in powdered sugar, a little at a time, until mixture is thick but still liquid enough to beat. Beat on high until the mixture becomes thick & glossy, about 3 minutes. Cover the surface with plastic wrap while waiting to use it. 
  • Royal Icing will set to a firm, glossy finish when applied to cookie. This icing can be stored , tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

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Individual Chicken Pot Pie

The humble pot pie was once the height of culinary style. During the Elizabethan era, these savory pastries — decorated with flowers, fancy designs, etc. were elaborate assertions of the chef’s skill in the royal households of France and England. Among the lower classes, pot pie were popular because the addition of a crust helped feed another mouth or two, while individual pastries, empanadas and perogies were well suited for sale by street vendors as portable meals.

Fortunately, the resurgence in so called ‘retro’ foods has brought pot pies back to the table. There is no reason why they shouldn’t do just as well in the 21st century. To some, chicken pot pie is a staple comfort food. The recipes mix of meat and vegetables in a chicken broth seasoned with herbs, produces a spectrum of flavors that’s like no other.

The trick is getting all the ingredients to the right degree of doneness at the same time. It may be these timing issues that led to the abandonment of the homemade pot pie in favor of the frozen variety. One thing for sure, is that they are definitely worth the time and effort. It makes good sense to make a big recipe, freeze them unbaked (if you choose) and there ready when you need them.

Individual Chicken Pot Pie
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Individual Chicken Pot Pie
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
Filling
  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp oil. Add chicken, season with 1 tsp salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink on the outside but not dry, 4-6 minutes. Remove from skillet & set aside.
  2. Decrease heat & add remaining oil. When oil is hot, add onions, mushrooms, carrots, celery, garlic, remaining 1 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, dried thyme & savory; stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Add margarine & melt.
  3. Stir in the flour & cook for 1-2 minutes; gradually stirring in chicken broth & milk. Bring to a simmer, continue stirring until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat & stir in peas, thyme, mustard & reserved chicken. Cover & set aside while preparing pastry.
Pastry
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt. With a pastry blender, cut in white & yellow Crisco. In a measuring cup, place the egg & vinegar; add enough cold water to make 1 cup & whisk together. Make a well in flour; pour in all of the liquid & combine.
  2. Roll out pastry. For 6 individual pies, prepared in mini foil pot pie pans, cut 6 - 8" (20 cm) circles for the bottom shells & 6 - 5 1/2" (14 cm) circles for the tops. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Place pastry lined pans on a baking sheet & divide chicken filling among them. Moisten edges with milk or water; place pastry circles on top, crimping edges with a fork. Whisk together 1 egg & 1 Tbsp water; brush tops of pot pies with egg wash. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden.
Recipe Notes
  • This amount of pastry will actually make enough for a double recipe of filling or just some extra for another time. If wrapped tightly it will freezes well.
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German Apple Custard Cake

We will soon be heading into fall. For apple lovers, the cool mornings and clear days of Autumn mean one thing; its time for some of the season’s crisp, juicy apple harvest. Apples are available year round thanks to controlled-atmosphere, cold storage chambers that keep them fresh for months. Some varieties even develop better flavor overtime. After 30 plus years in the food service industry, I retired and spent some wonderful years as tree and shrub buyer for a garden center. On this property there were many apple trees. One of the varieties was called Westland. These particular apples don’t taste like much until the first frost had touched them. Apples are a very common fruit but shouldn’t be overlooked due to their versatility.

When you take notice of how many ways apples are used in German baking, cooking, etc. its very clear that Germany loves its apples. For example there’s fresh apples, apple sauce, apple pancakes, apple juice, apple schnapps, apfelschorle (apple juice and carbonated water) and of course the many versions of apple cake …..

This German Apple Cake is served with a nice vanilla custard sauce making it quite special.

 

German Apple Custard Cake
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Servings
12
Servings
12
German Apple Custard Cake
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Cake
Custard
Servings:
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease & flour or line with parchment paper an 8 or 9-inch spring form pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon & cardamom. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add 3/4 cup sugar & mix. Peel apples; slice & cut as suggested. Toss apples with flour mixture to coat.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat eggs & milk together. Add to the apples & flour; mix in with a large spatula until just combined. Batter should look thick & dough-like. Transfer the dough to prepared cake pan & flatten the top using the back of spatula. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp sugar over the cake top. Bake for 45-50 minutes or when cake tests done.
Custard
  1. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks & sugar until pale yellow about 2-3 minutes. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk just to a boil. Slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg/sugar mixture. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan & stir over medium heat until custard thickens, about 4 minutes. Custard should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in vanilla & transfer to serving pitcher. This custard is not a thick, pudding like consistency; it needs to be a pour able.
  2. Serve custard warm or cold over apple cake.
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Salmon, New Potato & Dill Mini Quiche

It seems logical, since new potatoes and fresh dill are available, to make some of these special little quiche.

When I think of salmon, dill immediately comes to mind. One of the few herbs you can purchase fresh in the supermarkets year round. Dill is a very pretty herb with its feathery leaves or fronds. It has a fresh, grassy flavor that is often referred to as anise-like. A member of the parsley family, it can bring out the flavors of other herbs.

Dill is a commonly used herb in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. Fresh dill is often added to seafood dishes, yogurt sauces, vinegars, potato salads, fresh baked breads and soups as well as making a very gourmet looking garnish.

Quiche had become popular in England after WWII, but it wasn’t until the 70’s and 80’s that it really caught on in North America. Today we have many variations in our quiche fillings. There are also crustless recipes of quiche but some would argue that those can only be classed as ‘baked custard’.

Hot or cold, I have always enjoyed quiche. Brion probably could take it or leave it but I think this SALMON, NEW POTATO & DILL QUICHE  will be real tasty.

Salmon, New Potato & Dill Mini Quiche
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Servings
8 MINIS
Servings
8 MINIS
Salmon, New Potato & Dill Mini Quiche
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Servings
8 MINIS
Servings
8 MINIS
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt. Cut in white & yellow Crisco shortening until it resembles small peas. In a 1 cup measure, place egg & vinegar; combine. Add enough COLD water to fill cup. Pour all at once over flour mixture, mixing quickly, until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. This should only take a couple of minutes; DO NOT OVER MIX PASTRY.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface. Cut 8 circles about 5 3/4" in diameter (providing your mini tart shell pans are 4 3/4" size). Line mini tart pans with pastry & place them on a baking sheet. Place a piece of parchment in each shell, fill it with dry beans & 'blind' bake pastry crust for 6-8 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 325 F.
  3. Divide grated cheese between tart shells; slice cooked new potatoes over cheese. Top with cubed salmon fillet, green onions & fresh dill. In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk & spices; beat well. Carefully pour equally over each tart. Place in oven & bake for 35-40 minutes or until filling is set & slightly golden. Cool in tin before removing to serve. If desired, sprinkle tops with a little bit more shredded Gouda cheese.
Recipe Notes
  • Smoked or fresh raw, ground salmon can be used instead of salmon fillet.
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Blueberry Dumplings

On February 12, 2016, I posted my first blog on this site. It was called ‘Bake Day Surprises’. It featured a simple little recipe from one of my mother’s many versions of dumplings. A sweet, caramel-like, bread dough dumpling that brings back another taste of a memory never to be forgotten.

Dumplings are made from a dough that can consist of ingredients such as flour, potatoes and bread crumbs. Most often formed into a ball shape, then boiled or steamed.

In German cuisine, you will find a dumpling for every occasion and course in a meal. They can be served as a main meal, side dish, part of a soup or as a sweet dessert. Other varieties are filled with fruit or meats.

The fact that my mother baked bread every week when I was a kid, meant that dumplings were the ‘norm’.

With fresh blueberries available at this time of year, why not use some in a few BLUEBERRY DUMPLINGS!

Blueberry Dumplings
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A simple baking powder dumpling that 'mimicks' those delicious but more time consuming yeasted versions.
Servings
4-8
Servings
4-8
Blueberry Dumplings
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A simple baking powder dumpling that 'mimicks' those delicious but more time consuming yeasted versions.
Servings
4-8
Servings
4-8
Ingredients
Blueberry Sauce
Dumplings
Servings:
Instructions
Blueberry Sauce
  1. Place blueberries into a skillet. Add water, sugar & cornstarch. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until blueberry juices start to flow & bubble. Turn heat to low.
Dumplings
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, zest, nutmeg & salt. Add milk & stir until flour mixture is just moistened. With a spoon, drop 8 'dumplings' onto simmering blueberry mixture. Cover pan & allow to cook 14-15 minutes or until dumplings puff up nicely.
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Almond Poppy Seed ‘Sheet’ Cake

Sheet cakes are sometimes thought of by some as a lazy man’s cake. Yes, they are easy to bake and contain no fancy layers or have intricate decorations but ….

Traditionally a sheet cake refers to a cake baked in a large, shallow rectangular pan such as a jelly-roll pan. They are single layer and almost always frosted on both top and sides.

The famous ‘Texas Sheet Cake’ that is very popular in the US seems to be referenced as far back as 1936. I understand it started out as three layers and ultimately became a one layer, large sheet cake. By the 1970’s these recipes were using sour cream instead of buttermilk and alternative ingredients had evolved.

Today, if you are wanting to make a sheet cake you can find over 300 recipe choices on allrecipes.com alone. At this time of year with so many people hosting block parties, barbecues, family gatherings etc. I thought it would be nice to post a favorite recipe of mine. If you like poppy seed, you will absolutely love this cake. 

Almond Poppy 'Sheet' Cake
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Almond Poppy 'Sheet' Cake
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Ingredients
Cake
Topping
Servings:
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Beat egg whites until stiff, set aside in fridge. In a small bowl, combine flour, poppy seed, baking powder & salt. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks, gradually adding sugar, followed by oil, milk, flavorings & dry ingredients.
  2. Gently fold in egg whites. Pour into 2 unbuttered 9 x 13" pans or onto an unbuttered cookie sheet 18 x 15 x 1". Bake on middle rack for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool completely.
Icing & Topping
  1. In a small bowl, combine icing ingredients & beat until smooth; spread on cake & cool completely. Melt chocolate & margarine in microwave. QUICKLY spread topping over cooled cake.
Recipe Notes
  • I was only needing a small amount today so I made a quarter of the recipe & baked it in an 8 x 8-inch pan. It cuts nicely into 9 or 18 pieces.
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German Plum Cake / Tart

I know it sounds quite ordinary but we are not just talking about just any plum cake. Variations of the German specialty, ‘zwetschgenkuchen’, exist where some versions are made with a shortbread pastry verses a yeast dough, some have streusel – some do not – some are round, other’s are rectangular. One thing for sure is that they all use the plump, sweet, juicy European plums also known as Italian Prune Plums or Empress Plums. This variety is ideal for cooking not only because of their texture but also because their flavor becomes more complex through cooking.

Fruit and yeast-based cakes are a German hallmark with this cake being a perfect example. Its not overly sweet, has a touch of tartness to it, a small hint of cinnamon and that tender yeast dough.

When I was growing up and my mother used Italian Prune Plums in her canning or baking, I just thought it was because they were available at the time. I had no idea that they played such a special part in German baking until I was older.

I realize this is probably not the kind of thing you feel like making on a hot summer day. I suggest putting it on hold for a rainy day because it is well worth the effort. Just to encourage you further, I’ve added an alternate yogurt dough you could use instead of the yeasted one which would speed things up.

German Plum Cake / Tart
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
German Plum Cake / Tart
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Servings
6-8
Servings
6-8
Ingredients
Streusel
Yogurt Cake Dough (an alternate to use instead of yeast dough)
Servings:
Instructions
Yeast Dough
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/3 cup warm milk & allow to become frothy, about 5-10 minutes. With an electric hand mixer, beat together sugar, salt, warm melted butter, egg & vanilla. When yeast is ready, Combine with egg mixture. Add flour, 1 cup at a time to wet mixture. Stir well after each addition; dough should become smooth & elastic. It will not be firm enough to knead into a ball, more like thick batter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap & set in a warm, draft-free place to rise for an hour or until doubled in bulk.
Streusel
  1. In a small bowl, combine streusel ingredients. Using fingertips, rub mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
'ALTERNATE' Yogurt Dough
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. In small bowl, beat together yogurt, milk, oil & vanilla. Make a well in center of dry ingredients; add wet mixture & combine until dough forms a ball.
To make Plum Cake Tarts
  1. Generously butter eight - 4 x 3/4" mini tart pans or press out a rectangle of dough about 8 x 10" size on a baking sheet or a jelly-roll pan could be used. For tart pans, divide dough into 8 pieces & press dough out over bottom & up sides. For the rectangle shape, dough could be rolled out on parchment paper & laid directly on pan.
  2. Lay plums close together in rows, covering the entire dough. If using YEAST DOUGH, set pan in a warm place & let rise rise an hour. Sprinkle the streusel over the top & bake at 350 F. for 30-35 minutes or until top is golden. If using YOGURT DOUGH, evenly sprinkle farina over dough before placing the plums on the pastry ( it helps to keep the pastry from becoming soggy). Arrange plums on pastry; distribute streusel over cake. Bake at 350 F. for 30 minutes or streusel is light golden.
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Carrot Cake Roll

From breakfast to dessert, healthy to decadent, traditional to innovative, the carrot cake is considered a timeless classic that never goes out of ‘style’. It was probably borne out of necessity, making use of the carrots’ natural sweetness, evolving from the carrot pudding of medieval times. Carrots contain more sugar than any other vegetable besides the sugar beet.

In the 1970’s, carrot cake was perceived as being ‘healthy’ due to the fact that carrots, raisins and nuts are all ‘good for us’. Then along came that glorious cream cheese frosting that forever bonded the pair. While raisins are undoubtedly the oldest compliment to carrots, pineapple, apples or applesauce as well as walnuts have all become modern day  add-ins of choice.

I remember my mother making a jelly roll cake  when I was growing up. It was a sponge cake baked in a sheet pan. She would spread a layer of jam over it when it was cool and roll it up. It looked unique and tasted great. Of course, today a cake roll is very common place with many variations. As far as carrots are concerned, you can transform this versatile veggie into everything from energy bars and smoothies to cinnamon rolls and cookies etc, etc, etc…. My choice today is to make a CARROT CAKE ROLL with CREAM CHEESE FILLING,  yum!!

Carrot Cake Roll
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Servings
8-10
Servings
8-10
Carrot Cake Roll
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Servings
8-10
Servings
8-10
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
Carrot Cake Roll
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a jelly roll pan ( 10 x 15") with parchment paper & spray with baking spray.
  2. With a hand mixer, beat eggs on high for 5 minutes, until frothy & dark yellow. Beat in sugar, oil & vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt & spices. Stir into wet ingredients just until blended. Fold in dry carrots.
  3. Spread batter in prepared pan. This makes a very thin layer; use a spatula to make sure it is spread evenly to the corners of pan. Bake 10-15 minutes. Test cake with a toothpick to be sure it is completely baked. While cake is baking, spread a clean kitchen towel on work surface. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. As soon as cake comes out of oven, turn it over on towel. Remove parchment paper carefully.
  4. Working at the short end, fold the edge of the towel over cake. Using the help of the towel, roll cake tightly. Let cool completely while rolled, at least an hour.
Filling
  1. While cake is cooling, make filling. Beat butter & cream cheese together until smooth. Stir in powdered sugar & vanilla; beat until smooth.
  2. When cake is cool, carefully unroll the towel. Spread the filling evenly over cake & re-roll tightly. Chill about 30 minutes to an hour. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, slice & serve.
Recipe Notes
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