Bienenstich (Bee Sting) Cake

For those who have been reading along here for years, you know that I come from German heritage and that I love nothing more than to play around with recipes that nod to just that…

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So, it wouldn’t surprise you then that as we geared up to celebrate the first birthday of the year in our family – my wonderful mom’s – that I took an idea I stumbled upon in a random conversation with her nearly a month ago and ran with it.

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She was reminiscing about a cake she hadn’t had in years and years… since she’d lived in Germany, really… Bienenstich Cake. Perfect, I thought. Her birthday was coming up and that meant that I didn’t have to quiz her endlessly about what kind of cake she wanted! Instead… I could surprise her. Even. Better.

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The Bienenstich (Bee Sting) Cake gets its name from the sweet, crunchy, honey-almond mixture that tops the cake. Traditionally, the pastry is a yeast-based brioche but, because yeast and I have kind of a rocky relationship, I opted to go with more of a traditional cake base. I’ve never had “the real thing” but I’d say this is still pretty amazing.

There are three components and what feels like many steps to this recipe. But I promise you, it’s not as hard as it looks and it’s worth every ounce of effort. You can even make the cake and pastry cream the day before and assemble everything the day you need it.

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The cake is sweet, but not too sweet. Some of the honey and almonds sink down into the cake as it bakes leaving little gooey/crunchy pockets on the sides and bottom. The pastry cream is thick and rich and complements the slightly dry, large crumbed cake perfectly. We paired our slices with cups of coffee and it was a wonderful birthday afternoon snack.

Happy birthday, Mom!! xoxo

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Bienenstich (Bee Sting) Cake
Cake:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) of unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoon whole milk

Honey-Almond Topping:
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
pinch of salt
1 cup sliced almonds

Pastry Cream:
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 egg
3 egg yolks

Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper and grease and flour sides and bottom of lined pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Add the flour mixture in 3 additions alternating with the milk. Beat only enough to blend – do not overmix. Batter will be thick. Carefully spoon into the prepared pan and smooth to the edges. Set aside while preparing the honey-almond topping.

For honey-almond topping, combine the butter, sugar, honey, and salt and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat, and stir in the almonds until fully coated. Spoon over the cake batter.

Bake the cake on center rack for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Prepare the pastry cream filling while the cake cools.

For the pastry cream filling, bring the milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar, 2 tablespoons of the butter, and salt to a gentle boil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.

Remove from heat and add extracts.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Add the egg and yolks to the cornstarch and mix into a smooth paste.

Slowly temper the egg mixture by whisking in some of the hot milk – about 1/4 cup at a time – until the egg mixture is warm to the touch. Once warm, pour the tempered egg mixture back into the remaining milk in the pan.

Return the custard to the stove and bring to a boil, whisking continuously for 2 to 3 minutes. The pastry cream will begin to thicken almost immediately but it is important to cook out the starch so that it isn’t grainy and so your pastry cream won’t separate. When the pastry cream is done it will be smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and whisk in final tablespoon of butter until melted and incorporated.

Pour pastry cream into a wide, shallow container and press plastic wrap onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. (If the pastry cream is at all lumpy, pour through a mesh strainer into the container to remove the lumps.) Refrigerate until cool.

When both cake and pastry cream are cool, it’s time to assemble the cake.

Remove the ring of the springform pan and carefully lift the cake from the bottom/parchment and onto your serving plate (the bottom may be sticky in some places and the cake will be a little delicate – use care for this part of the process).

Using a long, serrated knife or a piece of unflavored dental floss, carefully cut the cake in half horizontally. Move the top layer to the side while you layer on the pastry cream (again, be very careful – I used two large spatulas to help me move the top layer off and back on without breaking it in half).

Remove pastry cream from refrigerator and stir or whisk until smooth. Spoon onto bottom layer of cake and spread evenly to within 1/2 inch of the edges.

Place top of cake onto the pastry cream layer and carefully press down until pastry cream reaches the edges of the cake.

Dust cake lightly with powdered sugar and refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, cut carefully… the honey-almond topping makes the top a little difficult to cut.

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Granola Bar Cookies

What happens when granola bars and cookies get together and have a love child?

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Only good things, I promise you.

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Oh yes… trust me on this. (More soon, friends… I know it’s been a very long time!)

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Granola Bar Cookies
(recipe adapted from Epicurious)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
3 packages crunchy peanut butter granola bars, crushed (or 1 cup of your favorite granola)
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat together butter, sugars, and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then beat in egg until combined well. Reduce speed to low, then add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in granola bars and chocolate chips.

Using a cookie scoop, drop 18 cookies about 2 inches apart onto 2 large, ungreased baking sheets.

Bake cookies until they just begin to turn golden, about 13 minutes. Cool on sheets 1 minute, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

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The Great Food Truck Race comes to NWAR!

It’s not too terribly often that we see national TV production crews here in Northwest Arkansas. Lucky us, then, when the news started to spread that The Food Network was coming to town!

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You could almost hear the squeals of joy from foodies miles around when all reports seemed to point to a multi-day food truck extravaganza in Fayetteville, AR. In our house, plans were made to venture south for the Saturday morning farmers market and a brush with TV greatness.

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There were five trucks left in the race for the stop: Pop-A-Waffle, Seoul Sausage Co., Nonna’s Kitchenette, Mama’s Grizzly Grub, and Coast of Atlanta. Four of the five were set up within pretty close proximity of one another on the square. The fifth was nowhere to be seen (we finally caught a glimpse of them in a parking lot on our way out of town). So… we cruised the four we could – looking for menus and trying to judge the lengths and speed of the lines.

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We decided to split up so that we could try food from two different trucks without standing in line for two hours. I took Pop-A-Waffle and my husband took  Seoul Sausage. And then… we waited. And… waited.

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My chicken & waffle experience was about 30 minutes from the time I hit the line until the time I received my order. Walked over to the Seoul Sausage truck and proceeded to wait another 20 minutes in line with my husband (needless to say our chicken & waffle got cold as we continued to wait).

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Once we had our food, we found a shady stoop to sit on and divvied up the goods. The chicken & waffle from Pop-A-Waffle – even cold – was pretty great. I’m really not sure the last time I had a fried chicken leg, but the crispy breading rocked. Better than that, I loved, loved, loved the flavor of the waffle and was quickly wishing for more. Luckily… there was more food truck fare to distract me!

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The flaming hot rice balls from Seoul Sausage were gooooooood. Crunchy on the outside with lots of good things (including kimchi) going on inside. And that sauce drizzled over the top? Could I have a vat of that, please?

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seoul sausage order up

Overall, it was a great experience and I’m so happy that The Food Network brought the tour to town. We’ve got some great local food trucks, but it’s nice to get to try something that you wouldn’t normally have access to. And I’d be lying if I said this didn’t have me dreaming all over again about opening up my own. ;) If these guys come to your town, I highly recommend you get out and enjoy the experience!

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coffee panna cotta

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That coffee post that I mentioned in yesterday’s coffee post? Yeah… this is it. Buckle up, friends… you’re gonna love this one! I found this recipe while surfing the web (which, in spite of my neverending cookbook addiction, is how I stumble onto most of the recipes I try) and I knew… this would be the dessert of the weekend. My husband was pleased with this idea.

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I knew that something about this recipe seemed familiar and, after scrolling back up to read the whole post, I realized why… this is an old Daring Bakers Challenge (from just over a year ago). You can see my first take on panna cotta from that same challenge ::here::!

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This is a coffee lovers dream. Smooth, creamy and rich… full of coffee flavor and topped with a creamy ganache glaze. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again here… this dessert LOOKS high-maintenance, but it really is VERY easy. The hardest part is waiting for the panna cotta to set up in the fridge!

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Coffee Panna Cotta with Mocha Sauce
(recipe from Life’s A Feast)
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups whipping cream (whole fat heavy cream)
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder or more to taste

Prepare 6 to 8 ramekins or individual bowls or demitasse cups. If you want to be able to turn the Panna Cotta out of the bowl or ramekin, run the bowl under cold running water, pour and shake the water out but do not dry.

Pour the milk into a medium-sized saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over the milk. Whisk quickly and lightly just so it is all wet and then allow to sit for 5 minutes. This softens the gelatin. Place the saucepan over medium heat and, whisking gently, allow the milk to heat until it is hot but not boiling, 5 more minutes. The yellow shiny splotches of gelatin floating on the surface will disappear when the gelatin is completely melted/dissolved.

Add the cream, honey, sugar, pinch of salt and 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder to the hot milk and continue to heat, stirring, until the honey, sugar and espresso have dissolved. Taste and add more espresso powder if you desire a stronger coffee flavor.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool for several minutes. Whisk to combine well before pouring into the glasses, bowls, cups or ramekins. I always find it much easier to pour the liquid into a glass or Pyrex measuring cup with a spout and pour from that instead of directly from the saucepan.

Cover each bowl or ramekin with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or, ideally, overnight.

A half hour or so before serving, prepare the Mocha Sauce. Once the sauce has been made and chilled, serve the panna cotta, each drizzled with the sauce.

Mocha Sauce
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, or more to taste
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup granulated sugar to taste

Coarsely chop the chocolate and place it in a small saucepan with the heavy cream, the espresso powder and 1 tablespoon sugar. Heat very gently over medium-low heat, whisking or stirring, until the chocolate, sugar and espresso have all melted and dissolved. Taste, adding sugar until desired sweetness. Remove from the heat, allow to cool for a few minutes, stir again and pour into a glass measuring cup, bowl or jar and refrigerate until just cool enough to serve over the chilled panna cotta.

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Indian Coffee

I stumbled across a recipe for Indian Coffee quite accidentally today (you’ll understand when you see my next blog entry) and – considering I’ve almost never met a cup of coffee I didn’t love – I knew that I needed to try it… pronto.

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Luckily for me, this recipe requires just three ingredients and maybe 10 minutes of your time. And, I promise you, it’s worth every minute! You can adjust the strength of the coffee flavor as well as the sweetness to your liking – I’ve decided that I prefer a ratio of 2 tbs sugar to 1 heaping tbs coffee to 10 oz of whole milk – but tweak it as you see fit!

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My “froth” left a little something to be desired… I admit I might not have been as patient as I should have been with the prep on these. BUT! I’ll be practicing! Check out the beautiful foam on the coffees over at eCurry – this is my goal!

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Indian Coffee
(recipe courtesy of Amy @ Dish on Design)
1 tablespoon instant coffee or coffee powder (the finer the ground the better)
8 – 10 ounces milk (preferably whole milk)
2 tablespoons sugar (or one tablespoon of sugar + a packet of sweetener)

Heat the milk until just under boiling and then simmer to keep warm.

In a mug, add the instant coffee and sugar. Add a teaspoon or less of the milk and vigorously mix with a spoon It will be dark, wet and crumbly at first, but keep mixing until the mixture turns lighter in color and resembles a thick mousse.

Stir in the heated milk and then pour the coffee back and forth between to containers (I used measuring cups) 6-8 times until your coffee is nice and frothy. Pour into a mug and enjoy the goodness!

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it’s a lime double-header!

What to do when you have limes on the brain? Go all in.

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First…. make lime sherbet floats. Perfect for the warm days that have been creeping in on the heels of Spring. Seriously…. perfect.

Second… make key lime pie ice cream. Even more perfect than the floats – if a little more labor-intensive. But no cooked bases for this one, so no need to have to plan ahead! Make it at whim (and make it often)!

Mmmmmm. It’s good to have options.

Lime Sherbet Floats
(serves 2)
20 ounces Sprite, 7-Up or other lemon-lime soda of your choice
juice of one lime
2 healthy scoops lime sherbet

Divid all ingredients equally between two glasses. Enjoy!

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Key Lime Pie Ice Cream
(recipe from Good Life Eats)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup bottled Key lime juice (such as Nellie and Joe’s)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Dash of salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
6 graham crackers (1 1/2 cookie sheets), coarsely crushed, divided

In a large bowl, combine milk, lime juice, heavy cream, salt and sweetened condensed milk; whisk to combine.

Pour mixture into your ice cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Stir 1/3 cup graham crackers into ice cream. Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze for 1 hour or until firm. Sprinkle each serving with 1 teaspoon reserved graham crackers.

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PEEPS! Happy Easter from Culinography! :)

Happy Easter to my peeps!

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Anybody have any Peeps left over from the many Easter baskets that were assembled this weekend? Or perhaps you’re planning to run out tomorrow and grab some on clearance? Hmmmm?

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No matter how you get your hands on them, I recommend that you do. Get them… throw them in the freezer… and, come summer, make this awesome cake and sit back and wait for the “oohs” and “aahs” that will follow! I mean, seriously… tell  me this isn’t the cutest thing EVER!

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Peeps Sunflower Cake
(idea from Taste of Home / cake recipe from Sweetapolita)
makes one 8″ double-layer cake and 12 cupcakes OR one 8″ triple-layer cake – recipe as shown details cake + cupcakes
Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Instant Fudge Frosting
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter the bottoms and sides of two 8-inch round cake pans or spray to coat with vegetable oil. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and grease the paper. Place cupcake liners into cupcake tin.

Put the eggs and yolks in a medium mixing mixing bowl, add the vanilla and 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Whisk to blend well.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, in a large mixer bowl; whisk to blend. Add the butter and the remaining 1 cup buttermilk to these dry ingredients and with the mixer on low, blend together. Raise the mixer speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add the egg mixture in 3 additions, scraping down the side of the bowl and mixing only until thoroughly incorporated. Divide the batter among the 2 prepared pans and the cupcake liners.

Bake the cake layers for 28-32 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes clean and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes; then carefully turn out onto wire racks, peel of the paper liners, and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, bake the cupcakes for approximately 14-17 minutes.

Assemble and frost the cake using approximately 3/4 of the Instant Fudge Frosting. Without separating Peeps and curving slightly to fit, arrange chicks around edge of cake of the frosted cake to create sunflower petals. For sunflower seeds, arrange chocolate chips in center of cake.

Use remaining frosting to frost cupcakes.

Instant Fudge Frosting
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons half-and-half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

A large food processor is the best piece of equipment to use for the frosting recipe. It whips up the perfect fudge frosting, and there is no need for a boiled syrup.

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate. Then process until the frosting is smooth.

Notes:
- If you don’t have a food processor, you can make this frosting in your mixer by beating the butter and confectioners’ sugar with the flat beater for about a minute on low speed, followed by another minute on medium-high speed. Add the remaining ingredients and beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until fluffy.

- Frosting is best used immediately, but holds up nicely on the cake once frosted.

- Finished cake keeps best in a cake-saver at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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roasted shrimp with feta and tomatoes

Dropped off a bit there, didn’t I? Yeah…. I can explain. New job. Busy spring season for the hobby-job. Not enough hours in the day and tired, tired most of the time. I’ve still been cooking – but it hasn’t been anything overly inspired and – even if it was – I probably lacked the energy to worry about presentation and pictures.

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This, though… this was worth the effort. Both in cooking (don’t worry – there’s really not much effort needed for this one)… and shooting… and blogging.

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Somehow, I often manage to forget how much I love shrimp. And though it’d be nice to live near a coast and have easy access to fresh goods, I’ve learned to be okay with picking up a bag of frozen at the supermarket.

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This one comes together quickly – 30-45 minutes from the start of prep to having a yummy, healthy meal on the table. Gotta love that! Be sure to serve it with some good, crusty bread so that you can soak up all the tasty sauce. Yummmmm.

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Roasted Shrimp with Feta and Tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
12 ounces shrimp, peeled, deveined & tails off
4 large roma tomatoes, cut into eighths
3 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried chives
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes. Pour in canned tomatoes and simmer for 5-7 minutes until sauce has reduced slightly.

Add shrimp, tomatoes, parsley, chives and s&p and stir to combine. Remove from heat.

Top with feta and place skillet in preheated oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes until mixture is bubbly and cheese has begun to melt. Remove from oven and serve with warm, crusty bread.

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homemade orange-basil soda

Have you ever made your own soda? I hadn’t… but, after seeing this post from my friend Kathy, I’ve been feeling inspired to give it a try for a while now. I’m so, so glad that I finally did because I’m TOTALLY hooked!

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Sugar, water, basil, freshly-squeezed OJ, and seltzer… that’s IT. And… wait for it… NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, people. The basil is oh-so-subtle and I envision us enjoying this often as the weather heats up and we’re looking for something light and refreshing. Beautiful! (P.S. You’ll have extra basil simple syrup… keep it in the fridge for more soda making fun!)

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Homemade Orange-Basil Soda
(adapted from Sandra Lee)
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
1 liter seltzer or sparkling water

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, add the basil, and let cool. Strain out the basil and refrigerate until ready to use. (Syrup will last up to 2 weeks in a sealed container in the refrigerator.)

To assemble, pour 2 tablespoons basil simple syrup and 3 tablespoons orange juice into an ice-filled glass and top with approximately 8 ounces seltzer. Stir and enjoy! (serves 4)

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Sleep Deprived Omelettes

I’m just gonna go ahead and say it… I want my hour back. That’s right… Daylight Savings Time is here and I’m going to spend the next two weeks trying to find my groove again. I appreciate the longer days – particularly as it relates to food photography (though I admit that I’m never a fan of it being light outside at 9pm) – but I’m always amazed at how losing one little hour and a shift in daylight can wreak such havoc on my life.

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How do I cope? I decided to start with food – an omelette, as a matter of fact. I figured there was no better way to combat the sleepies than with eggy goodness filled with cheese, a little sausage, fresh veggies, and a healthy dose of yummy basil. This hit the spot perfectly and, along with three (that’s two more than usual) cups of coffee, gave us the kick-start we needed to enjoy the day. (But I’d be lying if I said I weren’t wishing for a nap right now.)

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Gouda, Sausage, Mushroom, Tomato and Fresh Basil Omelettes
(aka Sleep Deprived Omelettes) 
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 0unces sliced mushrooms (use what you like)
6 eggs
2 tablespoons half & half (or milk)
4 ounces gouda cheese, shredded or thinly sliced
1/2 cup breakfast sausage, crumbled, fully-cooked, drained
5 ounces grape tomatoes, halved (use what you like – I used half red/half yellow)
5 tablespoons basil, julienned

Melt butter in a small pan over medium heat and sauté mushrooms until they release their water and water evaporates. Set aside until ready to use.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, half & half, and salt and pepper. Spray a medium non-stick pan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Pour in 1/2 of the egg mixture and allow to cook until almost cooked through (no need to flip).

Layer half of the cheese, sausage, cooked mushrooms, tomatoes and basil onto 1/2 of the cooked egg “disk.” Loosen edges and carefully fold the other half of the egg over onto the toppings to create a half-moon and press gently.

Allow omelette to cook for another minute or two and then slide carefully onto a plate. Wipe out skillet and repeat steps for the second omelette.

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