It’s on!

Christmas is on!

In the last about ten days we have been to the local school’s Christmas market, a Hungarian Santa Claus fest organized by the Danish-Hungarian Union in Aarhus, and the kindergarten’s own Christmas party.

Everything is about the upcoming holidays, and the smell of cookies being baked fills the air – how romantic 🙂 But it is true. We have been baking diligently.Danish treats like  pebbernødder and vanilla cookies, and Hungarian treats such as linzer and honey cakes. Luckily I have my children to help me, I think next year I might just give them the order: make 2 boxes of this, and 2 boxes of that, and let them do the work, while I will rest in my armchair, sipping my coffee 🙂 Seriously, they are getting pro 🙂

baking christmas treats

We also went yesterday to pick up our Christmas tree, at a small, local plantage. It was hard to find the best one, just because all of them were so nice and perfect 🙂 Once we picked the one, the owner came and cut it for us.

picking and cutting

We had to set it up right away in our living room, and decorate it. My kids did most of the work again. They are so excited about Christmas, they will do anything connected to it 🙂 I think it turned out lovely, what do you think? 🙂

tree before and after

Easy Apple Cake

Or sheds are still full of the nice apples we picked a few weeks ago. As my husband pointed out, it is very nice to eat apple cakes (almost) every weekend, made from our own apples. And I like variety, so I took my big Danish baking book, and opened it at the apple cakes. I chose a recipe they call Let Æbletærte, which can be translated to either light, or easy apple cake, but since it is quite full of suger and butter, I chose to go with easy, because it is very easy to make, and results in a light texture. But not “light” from a diet point of view 🙂

apple cake collage

 

I have changed it a little bit, and here is the recipe I followed:

For the cake:

  • 2 eggs
  • 175 g sugar
  • 100 g melted butter
  • 125 g flour
  • breadcrumbs

For the topping:

  • 3-4 apples
  • 25 g chopped almonds
  • 1 sp sugar
  • 1/2 sp cinnamon

Method:

Beat eggs and sugar together until its hard, add melted butter and flour, mix it and spread it out in a baking form (about 26 cm in diameter), that is greased with butter and sprinkled with breadcrumbs.

Peel the apples and cut them into boat shapes. Mix them with half of the sugar and the cinnamon. Place the apple pieces on the top of the dough, and push them gently into it. Sprinkle rest of the sugar and chopped almonds on top. Bake it at 200 Celsius for about 30 mts.

Enjoy it warm, probably with a hint of whipped cream, or vanilla ice-cream 🙂

Easy Apple Cake

 

Apple Season

Yes, yes. Early autumn can only mean one thing: Mother nature spoils us with all her treasures in the form of different fruits, berries and nuts.

When you ask me (if you ask me) what is the best thing about us moving out to the country side, to a house with an amazing garden is, I would answer: the apple trees we have in our garden.  And the freedom, and the fresh air, and the local community, etc… But for this post let us stick to the above mentioned apple trees.

Last year, unfortunately some disease attacked all the apple trees in the neighbourhood, we couldn’t really use the vast amount of apples our 3 huge trees give us. But this year, they are perfect 🙂 I don’t know much about different types of apples, but we got to know, that one of our trees gives apples you can eat directly from the tree, and the other two are cooking/baking apples.

And the season came, so it was time to harvest the apples 🙂 Perfect family activity for sunny, warm autumn weekends. A few weeks ago we started with the eating apples, as we got tired of picking them up one by one every day, because they started to ripen and fall of by themselves.

The apple tree

Being new to the situation, we were not sure what method to follow, how is it going to be the most effective way of harvesting our apples. So we kind of had to figure it out during the process 🙂 We started by handpicking the loveliest apples from the tree, but realised, that this way we would never get to the end, as the tree had hundreds of apples. So we went little wild, and started to shake them off. At one point my husband climbed up to the tree, and shook it as hard as he could. He was shouting a little while doing so, and as a result, Cherry started to laugh at him, saying “Daddy is a gorilla!” – Well, he really resembled a gorilla at that point 🙂

Once all the apples were on the ground, we collected them into hills, and sorted them. We put the nice ones into boxes, and the bad ones into trash bags, and those were driven to recycling. Kids were very helpful at sorting.

apple picking nr 1

We repeated the same this weekend, as the first night frost already bit the cooking apples, and that is when they are considered ready. This tree was a bit harder to harvest, as it is very high, impossible to climb up to, and is surrounded by a rose bush. So we climbed up on our ladder, and shook the brenches with the help of long sticks. this was very exciting, especially when Paddington climbed up the ladder behing his Dad, and started to shake it so hard, that they almost ended up in the rose bush. Luckily I have a very good reaction time, and caught the ladder before they fell off…

apple picking nr 2

These apples are yellow, and much more sour than the other ones, but perfect for winter storage and freezing.

Apples for the winter

Sunday I made some apple rolls, with the help of Cherry. It is based on the recipe of cinammon rolls, but I also added apples andcaramell sauce to it. They were yummie 🙂

apple rolls

Now, there is nothing left to do, but to keep the nicest apples for winter, and cut the others into small pieces, and freeze them. My husband said, he is looking forward to eating apple pies every Sunday this winter. Well, honey, if you bake them yourself, sure, why not 🙂

A Snowy Easter and the Perfect Milk Loaf

I have been absent for a while from my little blog. I had a good reason: My parents were visiting us for the Holidays, and since I see them so rarely, I’d rather spend the time with them than with my computer when I have the chance 🙂

I picked them up at the happiest place on Earth  about two weeks ago, and I dropped them off at the saddest place on Earth this Sunday: the same airport. I am turning 31 this year, but after I saw my Mummy and my Daddy off at the security check, I went to the lady’s room, locked myself in a cubicle, and simply cried my heart out. Once I felt fit enough I washed my face and went to the car and drove home, knowing that I am not going to see them for 3 months…

However we had a wonderful time while they were here, even though the weather was far from Spring. Like everywhere else in Europe, poor Easter Bunny had to lay the eggs in the snow this year.

wintereaster

It didn’t stop us feel all eastery and decorate the whole house with eggs and flowers.

decoreggs

And Saturday we had the traditional Easter dinner, Hungarian style: ham, cooked eggs, and braided milk loaf 🙂 A little bit of Denmark was also represented in the form of tiny chicken tartelets:)

eastertable

Milk loaf is the best yeast dough you can find, something between a bread and a cake, and it cannot be missing from our Easter table. Usually you can buy beautiful milk loafs in any Hungarian baker shop, but Danes don’t bake such a thing, so I had to turn to my cookbook and used the recipe of my great-granny to create some milk loaf for us.

Milk Loaf

My favourite thing in Easter Milk Loaf is the raisins popping up in it, but my husband cannot stand raisins in any kind of baked product, so I decided to make one of the loafs without raisins, and instead I put some cocoa powder in one of the braids. My kids simply loved the results, Cherry basically only ate milk loaf with honey for the two days while the loafs lasted.

I tought I will share the old family recipe with you, because milk loafs are a treat for a birthday breakfast, for Easter, for Christmas or just because 🙂

Milk Loaf Recipe:

  • 1 kg flour
  • 40 g yeast
  • 4 eggyolks
  • 150 g margarine
  • 100 g sugar
  • 7 dl milk
  • 2 teaspoon salt

Put the flour in a big bowl. Take 4 dl of the milk, warm it up a little, stir in  2 tablespoon of the sugar and crumble the yeast in it. Cover the milk and the yeast will appear in the form of foam on the top within 8-10 mts. Now make a little hole in the middle of the flour with your hand, pour in the yeasty milk, stir in a little bit of the flour around the hole (this is called the sourdough), sprinkle some extra flour on top, cover the bowl, put it in a warm spot and leave the sourdough rise.

dough

Once it has risen a bit, warm up the rest of the milk and melt the margarine.  Pour the milk on the soursough, add the rest of the sugar, the eggyolks, and finally stir in the melted margarine, bit by bit.

The dough should be shiny and airy. Sprinkle some flour on top again, cover the bowl and leave it to rise. It should rise up pretty high, about double as high as it was, within about half an hour.

Now sprinkle some flour on your worksurface, and pull the dough out of the bowl. It is sticky and thin, but don’t worry, that is the way it should be, just put some flour on your hands, and it makes it easier to work with the dough. Make 6 rolls out of it, and if you want to add something extra to the different braids (like raisins, dried fruit or cocoa powder), now is the time. Take one roll by its two ends and spin them into opposite directions. Repeat the same with all of the rolls.

braided

Now braid 3 rolls together, and the other 3 rolls together. Put them in greased bread forms, or you can put them next to each other in an ordinary cake form as well.  Now cover them again and leave them to rise. Once they have risen close up to the edge of the form, grease them with some whipped egg and put them to the warm oven.

baked

Bake them on cca. 175 C for about 40-45 minutes. Enjoy 🙂

raisins and cocoa

Girls day out at Ikea

Cherry woke up with a little fever today. No kindergarden for her. But she felt quite ok, so I decided to take her to Ikea. The main reason for the trip was to buy some new lamps for the guest room, but of course one cannot just go and buy one thing at Ikea, I am sure you all understand this 🙂 My husband doesn’t 🙂

Cherry and I ended up buying some new plants for the house as well. You have to know something about me: I kill plants… not intentionally, but I do kill them all eventually… It was very hard to accept that no matter how hard I try, how often I water or don’t water them, put them on direct light, semi-light, darkness, one by one they fade away 😦 Finally I had to realise, real plants in pots are not for me. So the plants we bought today are all artificial. Fake. Plastic. But actually very good quality, and you can hardly see they are not real.

plants in row

Cherry also picked some plastic flowers of different colours that we put in a vase and then in her room. She is very happy about them 🙂

roses

We also bought some cookie cutters, cute animal figures, and tried them right away when we came home. I made some linzer dough, and Cherry helped me cutting the cookies. We got lots of squirrels, hedgehogs, foxes, snails, and also some cars, trains, planes, ships and what not. While we were working hard, Cherry ran upstairs a few times, went into her room, and smelled her fake flowers 🙂 We also had a nice conversation like this: “Sweetie, don’t eat the raw dough, you’re gonna get sick!” – “But I am already sick!” You cannot beat children logic 🙂

When the cookies were done, they got some chocolate icing, and decoration.

cookies

Cookies in Boxes, last volume for this year :)

Due to circumstances I had no power over (like my own bowel movements for a short period of time…), I did not manage to make as many cookies as I wanted to. Well, no problem because the missing ones can be still made next year 🙂 But we did manage to make a portion of each Danish delicacies that are sooooo connected with Christmas.

The first one is called Pebbernødder, meaning “peppernuts”, and has absolutely nothing to do with either pepper or nuts, its just a nice, spicy ginger bread style cookie, which has a shape of a nut. The other one is not really a cookie, rather layered marzipan, but nonetheless very yummy.

Pebbernødder:

pebbernoedder

These cookies simply cannot be left out for a real Danish Christmas. If you don’t bake them, you buy them in big bags, and munch them during the wonderful month of December. My husband insisted on that we should make them ourselves this year, because it is so fun to bake with kids (and it is!). So I called my mother-in-law, and asked for her recipe. When it comes Danish recipes, she is the first one I turn to, not a cooking book 🙂 Later she sent me this recipe:

  • 1 kg flour
  • 400 g margarine
  • 500 g sugar
  • 2 sp light syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 dl milk
  • 3 tsp hartshorn salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • bit of ground lemon peel

pb dough

I only used half amount of everything, and still got plenty of cookies in the end. You just mix everything together, then roll thin cylinders out of the dough, and cut small pieces of it. Perfect job for little girls with at least 4-5 beaded necklaces on 🙂

pb cutting

Lay them on a baking tray covered with baking paper, and bake them on 200 Celsius for about 20-25 mts, until they get nice and brown.

pb done

Once they are done, it is very important to perform a quality check on the cookies! Little boys are very suitable to do so 🙂

 

Marzipan Slices:

marzipan slices

Or, my little brother’s favourite treats 🙂 You can also buy them in any shop around Christmas, in many different qualities. But it is much more fun (and sometimes even more expensive…) to make your own ones 🙂

You will need some raw marzipan, some nougat bar, and food colouring of your choice.

pure marzipan

I went with green and red marzipan, and of course the raw colour and nougat as well 🙂 Now all we have to do, is to make thin slices of everything, then layer them nicely. I found cheese cutter to work best for slicing nougat, and a very sharp knife, to slice the cold (out of the fridge) marzipan.

layered marcipan

Once I layered them, I decided to put them back into the fridge again, before cutting them up, because it is much more easier to work with cold marzipan.

In the meantime, I made some figures out of the left-over marzipan: An elegant, pink, plumpy, Icelandic type of pony for my daughter (yes, it is a pony, stop laughing!), and a cool sport car for my car-maniac son. If you, at this point, would like to form comments like “Geez, I understand why she is not a professional marzipan figure manufacturer”, then I have to tell you, that luckily my kids are very sophisticated, and recognize art at once when they see it, and knew instantly what the two figures were 🙂 However, Paddington refused to eat or even touch his marzipan car…

marzipan figures

Anyway, look at these divine marzipan slices…

divine slices

This year I decided to make small packages of Christmas goodies for family members as a gift, so I made a few scone shaped paper bags, and packed them with pebbernødder and the marzipan slices. I hope they will be received with joy 🙂

wrapping the goodies

 

 

Cookies in Boxes Vol.2 – Linzer

Oh, the Linzer…

Linzer

Anyone, who has ever heard about the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is not gonna be surprised by the fact that Austria and Hungary share a lot of traditions and recipes. Especially when it comes to cakes, cookies, tortes, and all the heavenly results of the development of confectionery. One of these shared heavenly gems is the Linzer torte. It is very popular as a cake, but also as cookies, made according to the same recipe, and they cannot be absent from the Christmas dessert table. It is almost obvious that I also had to make them this year to fill up at least one of my empty cookie boxes…

I guess every family has their own recipe for it. So do we 🙂 This recipe is old, very old, and my Mum always makes it for Christmas, following the sharp, decent handwriting of her grandmother. I copied this recipe to my own cookbook, and brought it to Denmark.

My Greatgranny is very special to me. I was named after her (she hated her given name all her life – until I was born and given the same name), and we were lucky enough to spend the first two years of my life together, in the same home. When my Mum went to university, she left home and moved in with my Greatgranny. It was not easy to get your own flat at the time my parents were young, so when my Mum and Dad got married, they simply lived together with Greatgranny and looked after each other. Unfortunately I don’t remember much of the time spent together with Greatgranny. But I have heard the stories all my life, and she must have been a great person! She lives through us, and her legendary cooking and baking.

That’s us, about 30 years ago 🙂

greatgranny

 

And this is her recipe for Linzer:

  • 600 g flour
  • 300 g margarine
  • 150 g icing sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of baking soda
  • grated peel of half a lemon
  • 3 egg yolks
  • milk
  • jam of your choice

Making linzer dough is not rocket science, really 🙂 You just put all the ingredients (except the jam) in a bowl, and work them together thoroughly. You only need to add a little bit of milk, so you get a light dough. It really depends on the quality of the flour you use, but it is really only a little bit of milk. Less than a dl, I would say…

Because we are only 2 adults and 2 children, I only used 400 grams of flour and equivalent ingredients, but I heard that Greatgranny used to bake linzer of 1,2 kgs of flour for the whole family…

linzer dough

 

Once the dough is done, roll it out very thin with a rolling pin, and cut different shapes out of it. Perfect task for small baby hands 🙂 Since later we are going to fill the cookies up with jam, it is important that you cut the same amount of full and holey shapes that will go together.

shapes

 

Preheat your oven to 200 Celsius, and bake the cookies for no longer than 10-12 minutes! They don’t need to get brown and too crispy, you want them nice and soft.

Once they are done and cold, take the jam of your choice (we traditionally use apricot jam, but any other will do as well), and whip it until it gets hard.

Now you can fill your cookies: Put a spoonful of jam on the middle of the full cookies, then gently put a holey cookie on the top.

baking and filling

 

You can sprinkle them with some icing sugar, so they don’t just taste, but also look yummie 🙂

yummie linzers

 

That’s it. Wasn’t too difficult, was it? Enjoy!