The Musette: kaiserschmarr’n with rhubarb

A kaiserschmarr’n is a rich, thick Austrian pancake that is traditionally served for dessert. We’ve typically eaten it after a hard day’s cross country skiing. However, I also think it makes a fabulous and quick brunch dish. It is thick, eggy and torn to bits during the cooking process, which is great for those of us who are not adept at flipping pancakes – yes, that’s me! It easily doubles up if you’re cooking for a crowd. It may look a bit messy, but it tastes fabulous! It’s usually served with a fruit compote and I just happened to have some home-made rhubarb compote hanging around in the fridge.

Ingredients (serves 2 hungry cyclists or cross-country skiers)

  • 60g (1/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 4 large organic eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 240ml (1 cup) whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp organic lemon zest
  • 60g (1/2 cup) plain (all-purpose flour)
  • Icing (powdered) sugar to serve

Method

1. In one bowl whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, milk, vanilla, salt and lemon zest until fully combined. Whisk in the flour a bit at a time, whisking out any lumps.

2. Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture. I find it easiest to mix in 1/4 of the batter first and then the rest, taking care not to deflate the batter.

3. Then pour the batter into a warm non-stick pan (medium-heat) and cook as if you were cooking scrambled eggs turning the batter over gently to ensure all of it is cooked, around 10-15 minutes. Do not allow the batter to colour.

4. Serve warm, topped with powdered sugar and with the compote on the side – enjoy!

 

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. Traditionally, rum-soaked raisins are added to the batter and the kaiserschmarr’n is served with either an apple or plum compote.

2. You can also incorporate the fruit in the kaiserschmarr’n by gently cooking it in the pan first, adding flavourings of choice, before pouring in the batter.

3. For example, I cook apples in a little butter and honey with either vanilla or cinnamon while I cook the plums with mixed spice. The possibilities are endless!

4. If, heaven forbid, you’ve made too much, you can easily reheat it on another day.

The Musette: Tarta de Santiago

We used to host BBQs at the cycling club to thank our many volunteers and their families for their ongoing support as without their assistance we wouldn’t be able to hold our various events. I like to prepare from scratch the pre-BBQ nibbles, accompanying salads and all-important desserts, leaving M le President to handle the grill.

Of course, I also liked proving to the French that Brits can cook and I enjoy the challenge of mass catering. It’s as easy to cater for 100 as it is for 10, you just need to spend a bit more time on planning and preparation.

In these instances my go-to cookery book is one by Ferran Adria, the chef of the former legendary el Bulli restaurant. You can however put your chemistry sets away as this book The Family Meal contains the recipes he used to cook for his staff in the restaurant. They’re no less delicious and each recipe gives the quantities for generally 12, 20 and 75 portions. As I’ve found to my cost, particularly with baking, it’s not merely a question of doubling up a recipe however many times when you’re catering for large numbers.

The first time I made the cake, I didn’t appreciate its significance. Although it’s made all over Northern Spain, it hails from 16th century Santiago de Compostela, the city where Saint James’ body lies, and to where many make a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago (the way of St James). Typically, the cake will have the cross of St James stenciled on its top.

Ingredients (serves 24)

  • 150g (1½ cups) whole blanched almonds, toasted
  • 4 large organic eggs, approx 45g each (1⅔oz) without their shells
  • 150g (1cup) golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp freshly grated organic lemon zest
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • Icing (confectioners’) sugar for dusting the top

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan).

2. Generously grease and flour a baking tin. I typically use a disposable tin-foil baking tin 18cm x 23cm x  5cm (6” x 9” x 2″). They’re easier for storing the cakes in the freezer, which I line with a couple of strips of greaseproof paper to make it simpler to remove the cake. This amount fills two tins to the required depth.

3. Finely grind the toasted and cooled almonds in a food processor.

4. With an electric mixer – or a strong arm –  beat the eggs with the sugar for around five minutes until thick, foamy and the whisk leaves ribbons in the batter. You’re aiming to get as much air as possible into the mixture.

5. Add the cinnamon and zest to the ground almonds, mixing well to combine.

6. Carefully fold the almonds into the egg mixture with a spatula so as to retain as much air as possible.

7. Pour the batter into the baking trays to a depth of around 1.5cm (about ½”) and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, or until evenly risen, golden and shrinking away from the sides of the tin.

8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins before turning out. Take care as it’s quite a fragile cake.

9. Just before serving, use a small fine sieve to generously dust the top of the cake with icing (confectioners’) sugar.

10. Allegedly, the cake will keep in a tin for four days but, honestly, it’s so scrummy it’s always eaten the day it’s cooked.

11. It should also keep well in the freezer for a month or so but omit the icing sugar. Dust only when fully defrosted.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cakes in the oven, put the timer on for 3-5 minutes less than the cakes should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. If you think the cake is browning too quickly, particularly at the edges, cover it with an aluminium-foil tent.

4. If you don’t like cinnamon, substitute with 1 tsp of freshly grated orange zest.

5. The first time I made this cake, I served it with strawberries in balsamic caramel, but it would go equally well with other fresh fruit in season.

6. The cake would be gluten-free except that the baking tins are both greased and floured. Omit the flour and instead fully line the tins with greaseproof (parchment) paper for a truly gluten-free version.

The Musette: apple and almond cake

I’m generally not fond of cake as dessert. Instead mid-morning coffee and cake or afternoon tea and cake get my vote. However, there are a couple of exceptions: brownies, and cake with fruit. I had some organic apples my beloved wasn’t overly keen on, plus marzipan left over from the wedding cake, so I decided to make my beloved a dessert cake, to be eaten warm with creme anglaise or whipped cream, for Sunday lunch.

This cake brings back memories of week-ends in Hamburg. Saturday afternoons, we’d go round to our friend’s mother for Kaffee und Küchen, she was an absolute whiz in the baking department. None of us could ever say no to another piece of one of her cakes. She used to make an Apple Cake very similar to this one and she told me that the secret behind the cake’s caramel flavour and moistness was marzipan.

My beloved said the cake reminded him of the ones Heike’s mother used to make. So that was a result!

The advantage of such a cake is that it tends to improve with keeping and will therefore provide sustenance at afore-mentioned mid-morning and mid-afternoon for a couple of days when my beloved’s energy may be flagging. Providing we don’t have any visitors!

Ingredients (10 portions)

  • 800g (1 3/4lbs) tart eating apples
  • 1 organic lemon, juice and zest
  • 250g (9oz) almond paste/marzipan
  • 150g (3/4 cup) raw sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 200g (14 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 5 medium-sized organic eggs, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 50g (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • 80g (9 tbsp) cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4/(350°F).

2. Grease the sides and base of a 24cm round cake tin with butter, then put a disc of greaseproof (parchment) paper on the bottom.

3. Divide the lemon juice into two separate bowls. Peel and core the apples. Slice two and toss them in one bowl of lemon juice. Dice the other apples into small cubes and toss in the other bowl of lemon juice.

4. Using a grater with large holes, grate the almond paste into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar and salt and mix until the almond paste is finely broken up.

5. Add the melted (and cooled) butter and lemon zest, continue mixing until smooth. It should look like liquid toffee!

6. Add the eggs one at a time, stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

7. Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, cornstarch and baking powder in a small bowl. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the almond batter mixture by hand, then add the diced apples, along with any lemon juice in the bowl.

8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Place the sliced apples in concentric circles on top of the batter, pressing them in very lightly. (I omitted to take a photo of the cake before t went into the oven. My apples slices were sliced too thinly, so they sank!)

9. Bake the cake until the top is a rich nutty brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

10. Take the cake out of the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. Let the cake cool before running a knife around the inside of the cake pan to release the cake, and remove the sides of the cake pan.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cake in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than it should take to cook and then check regularly.

2. Don’t worry, the cake is meant to be a luscious dark brown.

3. The cake will keep for a couple of days in a cake tin but please don’t freeze it, the apple will go soggy!

4. Make sure the sliced apple isn’t sliced too thinly otherwise (like mine) it will sink into the cake rather than remaining on top!

5. You can serve the cake warm with icecream. Vanilla, cinnamon or ginger would all be good. Or, of course, serve it with creme anglaise, freshly whipped cream, creme fraiche or some natural yoghurt. It’s also delicious cold.

The Musette: Coques – Andorran flat cakes

The Vuelta a Espana is dipping its toe into Andorra, home to many a professional cyclist on account of its favourable tax regime. I understand Andorran cooking is similar to Catalan but with influences from both France and, surprisingly, Italy.

I looked around for a traditional Andorran recipe and found coques, a flat cake made from a thick pancake-type mixture and stale bread. I’m not sure whether it’s a household staple but it sounds like the type of recipe where everyone probably has their own version. So, in the interests of research, I though I’d give it a go. I have to be honest, the first batch was a complete disaster so I played around with the recipe and my second attempt was delicious.

Revised list of ingredients for Coques (image: Sheree)

Ingredients (serves eight as a dessert)

  • 150g (2 cups) fresh white bread cut into small cubes (I used brioche)
  • 120g (1 cup) caster sugar
  • 150ml (⅔ cup) almond milk
  • 4 large preferably organic eggs, each weighing approx. 45g (1⅔oz) without the shell
  • 200g (1⅔ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 100g (1 cup) freshly ground almonds
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas mark 5 (375°F/350°F fan) and line two baking trays with greaseproof (parchment) paper.

2. Beat the eggs in a bowl with the sugar until light and fluffy, then fold in the sifted flour, ground almonds, lemon zest and almond milk in batches, starting and ending with the flour and almonds. Cover the bowl and set aside to rest for an hour in the fridge.

3. Once the batter has rested, gently incorporate the bread cubes. Divide the mixture roughly into four and dollop onto the tins and spread to make two similarly-sized rectangles on both sheets. I trace two rectangles on the paper and then turn them over – to prevent getting pencil on the baked coques –  with the outlines visible from the reverse side.

4. Place them in the oven and bake until nicely golden brown and cooked through (about 20 minutes).

6. Cut the coques into triangles and serve warm, dusted with a little icing (confectioners’) sugar.

Sheree's Coques (image; Sheree)

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the coques in the oven, put the timer on for 3-5  minutes less than they should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. If you think the coques are browning too quickly, particularly at the edges, cover them with an aluminium foil tent.

4. In devising my version, I reduced the amount of sugar from the original recipe by a third and substituted equal quantities of vegetable oil and hot water with almond milk. I also substituted one-third of the flour with ground almonds and added the lemon zest. So, not too much in common with the original recipe!

5. I’ve also made this recipe into one large coque, covered with really thin slices  – use a mandolin and mind your fingers – of eating apples with a few pieces of unsalted butter and soft brown sugar scattered on the top. Then, when it’s cooked, I glazed it with thinned down apricot jam to give a nice shiny finish.

6. Otherwise, I suggest serving them with some seasonal fresh fruit, such as apricots or peaches which will go well with the almond flavour in the coques.

The Musette: Quesada Asturiana – Asturian cheesecake

As the Vuelta a Espana finishes its second week, we’re in Asturias for a second day which features the climb to Lagos de Covadonga, arguably the most important climb in the modern history of the Vuelta. The road that leads to the lakes is 12.6 kms long at an average gradient of 7.3%, including the most demanding section at La Huesera, 7 kms from the top of the climb, with an average gradient of 15% for 800 meters.

Asturias produces many wonderful cheeses and this traditional baked cheesecake recipe is made with a local fresh goat’s cheese called requeson, but any soft fresh goat’s cheese would work just as well.

Goat's cheese is the star of the show (image: Sheree)

Ingredients (serves 12)

  • 450g (1lb) requeson (or substitute any soft goat’s cheese)
  • 100g (¾ cup) caster sugar
  • 55g (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 120g (1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 large organic egg, approx. 45g (1⅔oz), without shell
  • 1 large organic egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp brandy (optional)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Sifted icing (powdered) sugar and cinnamon for decoration

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 (350°F/320°F fan).

2. Grease the bottom and sides of a 24cm (9½”) glass or ceramic baking dish.

3. In a large bowl, combine the chosen cheese and butter. In another, beat together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy, preferably with an electric mixer. Then gently add egg and sugar mixture to butter and cheese.

4. Add lemon zest, cinnamon and brandy (optional) and continue to gently fold, then gradually add in the sifted flour until the batter starts to thicken.

5. Pour the batter into the dish, place in the oven and bake for approx. 30 minutes, or until the quesada turns pale golden colour, the centre doesn’t wobble and it’s just starting to come away from the sides of the dish.

6. Remove and allow to cool before serving. Decorate with a dusting of icing (confectioners’) sugar and cinnamon and serve with fruit compote.

Good enough for Samu! (image: Sheree)

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cheesecake in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than the cake should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. If you think the cake is browning too quickly, particularly at the edges, cover it with an aluminium foil tent.

4. A lot of the recipes I saw for this cheesecake suggested substituting ricotta but it’s a much sweeter cheese, doesn’t have quite the same tang, and is made from cow’s not goat’s milk. So I used a local soft French goat’s cheese which has the consistency of creme fraiche.

5. I do not have an overly sweet tooth so I reduced the amount of sugar in the original recipe by a third and it was just right, particularly given that it’s served with a dusting of icing sugar and cinnamon.

6. If you’re not a fan of cinnamon, substitute 1 tsp of freshly grated orange zest and dust with just icing sugar.

7. The texture is not dissimilar to that of a traditional New York baked cheesecake, so I felt it needed to be served with some seasonal fruit compote. This time I’ve used white peaches.

8. The original recipe calls for brandy but it’s not a flavour I favour, particularly when the fruit compote has been cooked in alcohol. So I left it out.

9. You may have noticed that my sugar jar has cinnamon sticks in it. I have a number of flavoured sugars in my cupboard. Typically, vanilla – repository for all those used vanilla pods – cinnamon, rosemary and lavender. Great for adding a little je ne sais quoi to baked goodies.

10. Like me you can also make the quesada in individual dishes or ramekins but don’t forget to reduce the cooking time accordingly. These were made in crème brulée dishes and they took 17 minutes to cook.

The Musette: Almond Macaroons

I’m always on the look-out for recipes which use up left-over egg whites. I typically freeze these in batches of four until I have need of them for financieres, meringues, pavlovas, brutti ma buono or, in this case, macaroons. Now these are not the fancy flavoured macarons  – notice the different spelling – piped onto baking trays and filled with delicious buttercream and jam. No, these are a much more rustic affair and are spooned, or scooped, rather than piped into muffin trays.

Ingredients (makes 20 or so)

  • 150g egg whites
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 100g flaked or chopped whole almonds

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 (350°F/325°F fan). Beat together the egg whites, ground almonds and sugar until thick and smooth. The batter will be quite runny. Don’t worry, this is what makes them gloriously and satisfyingly chewy.

2. Rest the batter in the fridge for at least half an hour.

3. Scoop (I use a range of different sized ice cream scoops) or  plop a tablespoon of the batter into each non-stick muffin hole. Sprinkle the top of each macaroon with chopped or flaked almonds.

4. The small ones bake in around 20 minutes, or until lightly golden, and set on top. The larger ones need 30 minutes.

5. Cool completely  – if you can wait that long – before serving with tea or coffee.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. The almonds can be replaced with ground hazelnuts, or ground pistachios. In which case, instead of topping with flaked almonds, top with chopped hazelnuts or pistachios.

2. For a lemon flavour, add a drop of lemon essence and the zest of a lemon. Top with glace lemon peel.

3. I like that the centre of these resembles and tastes like marzipan but you could, insert a dark chocolate chip into a hazelnut macaroon or a fresh raspberry into a pistachio one. or maybe even a cherry. The possibilities are endless.

4. I’ll often serve these warm with some fruit compote for a dessert.