Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cakes of the World - Napolyeon Tort

This cake is the national dessert of Russia. It's made up of 16 layers of crispy pastry filled with a homemade custard. When I looked at the recipe the day I made this cake I wondered what on earth I'd been thinking. Past Emma really pulled a fast one on Present Emma who wasn't keen on making such a complicated looking cake!


For the pastry:
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2  egg whites
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 cups flour 
  • 4 tablespoons butter
For the custard:
  • 6 cups milk
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 16 tablespoons butter 

To make the pastry, mix together the butter and sugar until creamy.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff.

Fold the egg whites into the butter mix along with the salt and sour cream.

Add the flour a tablespoon at a time and mix well to combine. You should end up with a soft pliable dough. I did after adding another cup of flour. Wrap this dough in clingfilm and chill for an hour (longer if possible).

Preheat your oven to 190C and line two baking sheets with paper. Divide the dough into 16 pieces and roll out each one to a circle roughly 8 inches in diameter. I did mine slighly smaller than that so I could fit 2 per baking tray. Bake for 6 to 10 minutes until golden brown and slightly crispy on the edges. Keep going until you have a stack of 16 pastry circles.

Now to make the custard. Pour the milk into a big pan and warm through.

Beat together the egg yolks with the egg white and sugar.

Stir in the flour.

It makes quite a thick mixture. Pour this mixture into the warm milk and stir constantly until it's well combined.

Add the vanilla and butter, continue stirring over a low heat until thick and creamy. The custard smells fantastic at this point.

My custard did not thicken at all. The recipe tells you to let it thicken on a low heat but mine only got thicker by letting it heat up and almost boil.

Let the custard cool so you can assemble the cake. Place a pastry disc on a plate and add a layer of custard. Keep going until you've used all the pastry up finishing with pastry on top. Put in the fridge for about 4-5 hours. (long time to wait for cake!)

I really didn't know what to expect from this cake. Mine didn't really look like others I'd seen online. I felt like it'd be impossible to slice even. But when it came out of the fridge it was all soft. The custard had soaked into the pastry making it easy to slice. The custard had a lovely caramelised flavour and the very edges of the pastry were still crispy. It's like nothing I've tasted before but I can tell you it was delicious!

The recipe I used called it time-consuming but worth it. I have to agree!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Cakes of the World - Purukook

These cake bars are Estonian and are sometimes called Streusal Cake or Crumb Cake. It's a nice simple recipe with only a few ingredients, I just had to buy some more jam and I was good to go!


400g flour
85g sugar
A pinch of salt
200g butter
1 egg
1 jar of jam

Put the flour, sugar and salt in your mixer. 

Cut up the butter and add it to the bowl. Use the whisk attachment to mix into breadcrumbs.

Take out a third of the breadcrumb mix and set aside for a topping. Mix the egg into the remaining crumble and it'll form into a dough. press this dough into a greased or lined baking tray. I really need to get myself a square baking tray. The one I use is rectangular and too big, the mixture never fits so I have to scooch it to one end to make it work.

Spread the jam on top of the base. (I look like I'm involved in some product placement in this photo, I'm not getting paid I promise!)

Now sprinkle that saved crumble mix on top of the jam. Cover it quite heavily because I thought I'd done enough but it sinks into the hot jam when you bake it.

Bake for 30 minutes at 200C. At 28 minutes I could smell that it was just about done. I really like when recipe baking times are spot on as they're so often a bit off due to differences in oven temperatures. Let the cake cool for 5-10 minutes then cut into squares.

Leigh and Erin were quite unimpressed with this cake offering. Erin says they make it at her school for lunches and she's had it before. (Confirmed by Leigh, as Erin often claims to have tried a food before to avoid it). So much for giving them new food experiences! Haha. I really liked the streusal topping, it tasted a lot like eating fruit crumble and I'd like to try these cake bars warm with some custard. I liked how easy they were to make and that the base had a nice crumbly shortbread taste to it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cakes of the World - Bienenstich

This German cake translates as Bee Sting Cake, a name supposedly earned by a legend that the baker who invented it was stung by a bee attracted to the honey in the topping. I'll make sure to keep the windows shut when I make this cake just in case but I've never been stung by a bee. Much to JD's amazement (displeasure?) because bees seem to seek him out.

I decided to include this cake on my blog because it's quite different, it's made from a bread-like dough rather than a batter and is filled with an almond cream pudding.


For the cake:

1 5/8 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 pinch salt
3/4 cup warm milk

For the topping:

3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk
5/8 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon honey

For the filling:

1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup cornflour
1 egg
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 tablespoon cream of tartar

Mix together the ingredients for the cake. I did it in my stand mixer because I've been using it gratuitously since I got it. Mix it with the dough hook in the mixer or knead by hand until it's smooth and elastic. Cover and leave somewhere warm for an hour until it's doubled in size.

While the dough is rising you can make the topping. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a small pan and stir in the icing sugar and milk until dissolved. Add the almonds and honey then continue to cook until it boils. Take off the heat and save for later.

When the dough is ready, punch it down and roll it out into two circles. Place each circle into a greased cake tin. Add the almond mix to the top of one half. Bake in the oven at 205C for 20-25 minutes until the almonds have turned golden brown. Leave to cool.

Now it's time to make the filling. Dissolve the cornflour in a little bit of milk. Add it to a bowl on top of a pan of hot water along with the rest of the milk and the sugar. Stir constantly as it starts to thicken. Take it off the heat and stir in the beaten egg and almond extract.

Chill this pudding mixture in the fridge for an hour. When you're ready to make up the cake, whip the cream with the cream of tartar until stiff and then fold into the pudding mix. Spread the cream filling on the bottom half of the cake and top with the almond crusted half.

This was a really interesting cake, it was bready in texture with a lovely gooey layer on the top under the almonds. The cream filling added to it's overall lightness. It was really difficult to slice though and the top slid off when we'd eaten half of it. Leigh and Erin really enjoyed it and had seconds immediately. It was nice to try a different style of cake than the usual sponge we normally have.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Cakes of the World - Angel Food Cake

Angel Food Cake is popular in America and also one of my husband's favourite cakes. It got it's name because of it's light fluffy texture which makes it seem like it's food angels would eat. It gets it's texture because it's made with egg whites (lots of egg whites) and no butter. I had to buy a special tube pan to make it in.


  • 1¾ cups sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 12 egg whites
  • ⅓ cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour 

First off, you need to blend the sugar so it's finer. This is the first time I've ever had to do this for a recipe.

Sift together the flour, cornflour, salt and half of your fine sugar.

Now you need to prepare your egg whites. There are lots of ways to separate an egg so just do it however you feel comfortable.

Add vanilla, cream of tartar and the warm water to the egg whites and whisk until they are combined. Next, transfer the egg mix to a mixer because there's going to be a lot of whisking.

Whisk gradually adding the remaining fine sugar until the egg mix can form medium peaks.

Now gently fold in the flour mixture a bit at a time until it's all mixed in.

Pour the batter into the tube pan. Don't grease the tube pan so that the cake batter can rise by climbing up the pan sides. (Sounds a little creepy to be honest!)

Bake at 176C for 35 minutes. When you take it out of the oven invert the cake in the pan onto a plate and leave to cool completely still in the pan. When it's cool run a knife around the cake and take off the pan.

Mmm, this cake is unlike anything I've eaten before. Sooo light and spongy in texture with a nice subtle vanilla cake flavour. The slightly crispy edges are the best. You can eat it plain or add some berries with whipped cream but be sure to eat it with a fork like the Americans do!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cakes of the World - Babka

I don't know why it's taken me so long to think of this but finally....CAKE! Cakes from around the world starting with babka. This recipe is chocolate babka made by East European Jewish people. Seems a good place to start!


150ml milk
140g butter
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
40g sugar
7g yeast
2 eggs

For the filling:

60g butter
80g brown sugar
100g dark chocolate
2 tbls cocoa powder
1 tbls cinnamon

Melt 40g of the butter in a pan along with the 150ml of milk.

Put the flour, salt, yeast and sugar in a bowl and mix to blend everything.

Make a well in the dry mix and add the melted butter/milk along with one of the eggs.

Mix well with a wooden spoon.

Melt the remaining butter (100g) and gradually add it to the mixture a tablespoon at a time, making sure it's mixed in well before adding more. This takes a LOT of stirring.

It makes a wet dough but apparently that's how it's meant to be. Cover the dough and leave to rise at room temperature for about an hour. Then chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While that's happening you can get on with the filling.  Break up the chocolate.

Melt the chocolate together with 60g of butter and 80g of brown sugar.

Stir in the cocoa powder and cinnamon then stir well until the filling is glossy.

Leave the filling to cool until you need it.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle. You'll have to add more flour to make it less sticky so you can work with it. Then spread the filling over the top of it.

Roll up the dough like a swiss roll and pinch the edges together. Cut the roll in half from one end to the other leaving about 4cm at one end. Then plait the two pieces of dough over each other until you have a long twist. Place in a greased loaf tin.

Marvel at the incredible mess you've made!

Cover in clingfilm and leave somewhere warm for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 180C.

Brush the top of the loaf with the other beaten egg and bake for an hour. Cover with foil halfway through cooking to stop it burning. Cool in tin when done for 10 minutes then turn out.

This cake seemed a lot of effort to make but I'm happy with how it turned out. It's quite bread-like in consistency but moist like a cake with a lovely taste coming from the chocolate cinnamon filling. It looks pretty with the swirls running through it too. It's better eaten still warm from baking. Yum!