PostHeaderIcon Birthday Cake

IMG_2813After a couple of trial runs, here’s the birthday cake I baked, layered, filled and decorated for my son who just turned 1 year old on June 28th.

It took days to get it to the final stage: I baked the cakes on Friday afternoon, layered them in the evening. I made the fillings (1 layer was coconut, the other home made prune jam) late Friday evening. I made the sauce (to moisten the cake) Saturday morning and then put the cake together in the afternoon.

Sunday morning I decorated with the cream and the edible animals. Then Sunday afternoon was the birthday party and we ate almost the entire cake! It took a lot of work, but I made it with love for my baby boy!

PostHeaderIcon A Healthy Bake: Bran & Raisin Whole Wheat Muffins

I have not been baking as much as usual lately, since my 11 month old son has been demanding more and more undivided attention. I did bake coconut-pineapple cupcakes and coconut bread last week, but no bread, believe it or not!

Today I decided to take a closer look at a new book I have purchased for healthier recipes. So far the book seems good but before I write a review, I want to try a few more recipes.

Today’s pick was the bran muffin. I can’t remember the last time I had a bran muffin, and I figured it’s the kind of hearty food I can give my son, so off to the kitchen I went! It was a success! Healthy and delicious, it’s just the right combination! Here’s the recipe:

Bran & Raisin Whole Wheat Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup graham flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups wheat bran
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • ½ cup raisins

Make the batter:

Preheat the oven to 190 ° C (375°F).

Sift the flour, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Stir in the bran and raisins.
In a separate bowl mix the oil, sugar and molasses. Add the egg and buttermilk and mix well.

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and stir until just combined.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups/tins and bake for 15-18 minutes.

What a deliciously healthy muffin! At 130 calories per muffin, it’s easy to enjoy, guilt free!
This muffin is very high in dietary fiber (19% DV of dietary fiber per muffin), very high in manganese, high in magnesium and high in selenium.

PostHeaderIcon Banana Loaf Bread

One of my favorite things to both make and eat is banana bread; but the name is misleading, as banana bread is more like a cake than it is a bread – it’s called a quick bread, but I think it is neither cake nor bread, it’s something in between.

Anyway, Ryan, my 10 month old son loves bread and I’ve been searching for recipes for loafs, since he doesn’t chew crust very well. I found that a lot of whole wheat loaf breads are made with milk and butter, ingredients I’m trying to avoid giving Ryan.

Whilst looking through a beloved recipe book, “The Bread Bible” by Rose Levy Beranbaum, I found a very intriguing recipe for banana bread, but real bread this time! An actual loaf of bread with banana! I have not yet been disappointed with recipes from this book, but they do take all day to make; though little effort, rising time can sometimes be up to 6 hours.

Well, I made the recipe and I was not disappointed. My home smelled wonderful, and the loaf tasted delicious!! I was so curious to taste it that I couldn’t wait an hour to slice it; 15 minutes out of the oven and I had to have to a taste! Next step is to give some to Ryan and see what he thinks about it!!

The original recipe calls for dry milk powder, but since is the culprit of an allergic reaction, I omitted it.

Banana Feather Loaf

Dough Starter:

  • 80 g (½ cup plus 1 tablespoon) all purpose flour
  • 103 g (½ cup) water, at room temperature
  • 20 g (1 tablespoon) honey
  • .8 g (1/4 teaspoon) dry yeast
  • Make the sponge:
    Combine all ingredients and whisk until very smooth and airy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

    Flour Mixture and Dough:

  • 207 g (1 ½ cups) all purpose flour
  • 2.4 g (3/4 teaspoon) dry yeast
  • 20 g (2 tablespoons) dry milk powder
  • 18.5 g (4 teaspoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed
  • 6.6 g (1 teaspoon) salt
  • Whisk together the flour, yeast and milk powder. Sprinkle over the sponge mix and cover. Allow it to ferment for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature.

    Add butter and banana to the dough and mix just until it forms a rough dough. Cover and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.

    Sprinkle on the salt and knead the dough for 7-10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, between 1½ and 2 hours.

    Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and press down to form into a rectangle. Fold the dough into an envelope shape, twice, and then set it back in the oiled bowl. Let rise for another hour or 2, until doubled.

    Preheat the oven to 250 ° C (475°F) 1 hour before baking.

    Shape the dough into a log and place it in an oiled bread pan. Cover loosely with oiled plastic and let rise for about 1 ½ hours.

    Place the bread pan in the oven. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 190°C (375°F) and bake for 15 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 175°C (350°F) and bake another 10 minutes.

    Remove the bread from the oven and set it on a wire rack. Remove the bread from the pan and leave it to cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.

    It is an all day ordeal, but with very little effort and a lot of flavor!

    PostHeaderIcon Our Easter Meal – Chicken Lasagna

    We are not exactly religious people, so Easter is one of those holidays that we don’t necessarily celebrate. Of course, now that we have a baby, we are going to start celebrating it, but not in a religious sense; we’re looking forward to hiding eggs and sending our son on an egg hunt!

    In Sweden Easter in celebrated on the eve; the Easter meal is on Saturday evening. I was shocked at this, since the holiday is actually  Easter Sunday, but my (very Swedish) husband explained to me that in the old days, people used to go to church on Sunday and pretty much spend all day there, so they celebrated the holiday at home the day before (much like Christmas).

    I know we live in Sweden and so we should follow suit, but I really dislike celebrating Easter Sunday on Saturday! So we decided to celebrate it on Sunday instead, especially since we don’t go to church. With that said, we had a guest over Saturday night, so this year we ended up having celebrating it on the eve anyway!!!

    In Brazil the traditional Easter meal consists of a very typical cod dish: bacalhau. I’m not fond of cod, and I’ve never really enjoyed this dish. In Sweden the traditional Easter meal is Lamb, which I don’t eat! My father, however, always serves lasagna (2 different kinds: a meat and a veggie one) for our Easter meals, so I decided to keep up his tradition and made a chicken lasagna.

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    It’s a recipe I’ve had for a while and have only made a couple of times before. I change some ingredients every time I make it though, either because I don’t have something at home or because I think something else will taste better, but this time I used white whine in the sauce (I’ve previously used chicken broth and apple cider vinegar) and I think that it is probably the best choice of ingredient!

    For dessert I made a very popular Brazilian dessert: pavê. I’m not sure if there’s an English equivalent is for the name, but it’s pretty much a layered dessert, with a layer of cookies such as maria cookies, a layer of white cream, made with condensed milk, and a layer of chocolate or other flavor of choice (can be fruit too, berries work well).

    I made a chocolate and coconut “pavê”, and though it was very sweet, it was also delicious! I followed a recipe from Chef TV’s website, click here to view the recipe.

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    Needless to say, there’s not much of it left! I ate it with some fresh raspberries and found it heavenly, but Robert (my husband) thought it was just fine on its own, and our guest enjoyed it with vanilla ice-cream.

    I will post the recipes individually later!

    PostHeaderIcon Lemon-Scented Blueberry Cupcakes

    When I saw a posting from Cooking Light Magazine on Facebook with a recipe for lemon and blueberry cupcakes I just knew I had to try them! I’ve baked a fantastic quick bread with both lemon and blueberry and really enjoyed it, so I though “why not try it now with cupcakes?”!

    I had some blueberries in the freezer that my mother in law picked in the woods last season, and it was about time I used the lemons in the fridge, what a perfect combo.  Today is my son’s 9-month birthday, an occasion to celebrate and what a great way to celebrate; with cupcakes! Of course he can’t eat any yet, but I assured him that when he is allowed to eat sweets, I will bake the best for him! Plus, he may taste them in his dinner anyway!

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    Recipe tested and approved! As you can see in the picture above (see more pictures below), I have not added too much icing, I think it takes away from the actual cupcake taste, so I halved the frosting recipe. The blueberries on top don’t only add visually; they also add to the fantastic overall flavor of this heavenly cupcake.

    Here’s the recipe I used from Myrecipes.com

    Ingredients

    • Cupcakes:
    • 1 1/2 cups (about 6 3/4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided $
    • 10 tablespoons granulated sugar $
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 cup butter, melted
    • 1 large egg
    • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
    • 1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
    • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
    • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, thawedFrosting:
    • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
    • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
    • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
    • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    • Fresh blueberries (optional)

    Preparation

    1. Preheat oven to 350°.
    2. Place 12 decorative paper muffin cup liners into muffin cups.
    3. To prepare cupcakes, lightly spoon 1 1/2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Measure 1 tablespoon flour; level with a knife. Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour plus 1 tablespoon flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Combine melted butter and egg in another large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add buttermilk, milk, and 1 teaspoon rind to butter mixture; stir with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Toss blueberries with remaining 1 tablespoon flour. Fold blueberries into batter. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.
    4. To prepare frosting, place cream cheese, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon rind, vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed just until blended. Gradually add powdered sugar (do not overbeat). Stir in juice. Spread frosting evenly over cupcakes; garnish with blueberries, if desired. Store, covered, in refrigerator.

    PostHeaderIcon Celebrating Waffle Day; Thin and Crispy Waffles

    And yet another perk of living in Sweden: waffle day!

    Waffle Day in Swedish is Våffeldagen. This celebration started due to a confusion between the Swedish “vårfrudagen” meaning “Our Lady’s Day” which falls on the same date, the 25th of March, 9 months before Christmas. The day historically marks the beginning of spring and is celebrated by, of course, eating waffles!

    basic waffles As a newly Swedish resident I feel it is my duty to oblige and follow the tradition, especially since I have recently purchased a new Belgian waffle iron (in addition to the thin waffle maker I already had!).

    Whilst searching for a good recipe online, I came across many that called for heavy whipping cream, an ingredient I did not have at home nor have used for waffles before. Then, I came across a recipe from my all-time favorite chef, Mr. Alton Brown, from Good Eats!

    Yes, the recipe was delicious! I like bananas, walnuts and maple syrup on my waffles, but Swedes usually eat waffles with strawberry jam and whipped cream. That and we didn’t have any maple syrup at home, sadly. So we had ours Swedish style then, with strawberry jam and vanilla flavored whipped cream  though we also ate a waffle with condensed milk, yummy!

    I have yet to make anything from Alton Brown’s recipes that hasn’t turned out good. If you have not heard of Alton Brown and like cooking good food, I suggest you look him up!

    Here’s the recipe I followed, found on foodnetwork.com

    Ingredients
    4 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 1 cup
    4 3/4 ounces whole-wheat flour, approximately 1 cup
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    3 tablespoons sugar
    3 whole eggs, beaten
    2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
    16 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
    Vegetable spray, for waffle iron

    Directions

    Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions.

    In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In another bowl beat together eggs and melted butter, and then add the buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

    Ladle the recommended amount of waffle batter onto the iron according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Close iron top and cook until the waffle is golden on both sides and is easily removed from iron.

    Serve immediately or keep warm in a 100 degree C / 200 degree F oven until ready to serve.

    PostHeaderIcon A Soft, Delicious Bread: Graham Rolls Recipe

    My favorite thing to bake is bread. Admittedly I bake a lot more bread now that I have a stand mixer with a dough hook, but I still get hands on and knead by hand for a few minutes before shaping! I find that every now and then I still get the “amazed” feeling that flour, water and yeast can come together and metamorphose into the delicious bread I eat daily!

    This recipe is from a Swedish magazine I subscribe to. It didn’t seem like anything special by looking at the ingredients list, but I do love Graham flour, so I decided to give it a try. And I am so glad I did! Fluffy and airy, these buns are tasty with just about anything you spread or add, and even plain (especially fresh out of the oven).

    Graham Rolls Recipe

    Serves 20
    Allergy Milk, Wheat
    Meal type Bread
    Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable
    From magazine Hembakat

    Ingredients

    • 50g fresh yeast
    • 50g butter
    • 400ml whole milk
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 180g Graham flour
    • 1/3 cup wheat germ
    • 330g all purpose flour (preferably organic)

    Directions

    1. Crumble yeast in a large bowl. Melt butter and add milk, heat it to 37°C (98°F) and pour over the yeast. Stir to dissolve.
    2. Add remaining ingredients and stir until the dough comes together. Knead for 8-10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a clean dish cloth and let rise 30-45 minutes.
    3. Place dough on a floured surface and divide into 4 pieces. Divide each piece into 5 additional pieces. Roll into balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle a little flour over the rolls and cover with a dish cloth. Allow rolls to rice 30-45 minutes. In the meantime, preheat over to 250°C (475°F).
    4. Place baking sheet in the middle rack and bake 7-9 minutes. Let the rolls cool on a cooling rack before slicing.

    PostHeaderIcon Happy Fat Tuesday – Celebrate with a Semla

    There are many benefits to living in Sweden, and one of them is “Fettisdagen”: Fat Tuesday, a day to fatten up before Lent begins. Traditionally it is celebrated with a semla, a sweet bun carved and filled with almond paste, whipped cream and topped with powdered sugar.

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    This is my third Fettisdagen in Sweden, and I decided to take on the challenge and bake it myself. There is a catch to baking these yourself though, and whether it’s a pro or con depends on how you look at it: I can’t bake just 2! I did find a recipe that makes 10 (and also found a recipe that made 40!). Once the dough had risen I decided to make 9 rolls, with one being a double (slightly bigger, hehehe).

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    I couldn’t bring myself to put in as much cream as the bakeries and shops do, but it was tasty and fatty anyway, and we have already eaten a few … and I don’t suppose the rest will last very long!!

    Here’s the recipe I used:
    http://www.ica.se/recept/klassiska-semlor-292482/

    PostHeaderIcon Gluten-Free Quinoa Breakfast Bread

    I finally remembered to take a picture of this delicious, gluten-free quinoa and rice flour breakfast bread!

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    I used tri-colored quinoa (white, red and black), which I leave soaking overnight and give a good rinse in the morning before mixing it. Today I used my brand new ceramic skillet to cook it in, and it was super fast; ready in 10 minutes.

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    Here’s the recipe again:

    Quinoa and Flaxseed Gluten-Free Bread Recipe

    Serves 1
    Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
    Meal type Bread, Breakfast
    From book Regina Racco

    Ingredients

    • 4 tablespoons quinoa
    • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
    • 4 tablespoons rice flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • water

    Directions

    1. Place the quinoa in a small bowl and cover it with water. Soak overnight.
    2. Add flaxseed meal, rice flour, salt and baking powder to the quinoa.
    3. Add enough water to make a thick paste.
    4. Heat skillet on stove top and grease if necessary.
    5. Spread dough in the skillet and cover. Let cook until the bottom side begins to brown.
    6. Flip the bread and let other side brown, uncovered.
    7. Ready to eat!

    PostHeaderIcon A Busy Kitchen – Bread Rolls and Buns

    I have been busy in the kitchen today, making Indian-Style Cardamom Buns and Cranberry-Hazelnut Sourdough Bread Rolls!

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    The bread we have already tasted, plus it’s a bread I make every week. The buns, however, are cooling, so we have yet to taste it … will update on the verdict later!