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Matcha macarons I made from “saved” eggs

December 7, 2014

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Lately, I’ve been eating (and baking) mostly vegan. Or rather freegan, to be precise.

In my town there is a local organization of food savers. Food savers are volunteers who pick up food that wasn’t sold and would be discarded otherwise from bakeries, from farmer’s markets and several other shops and then hand out the food to others for free. Of course, anyone who takes “saved” food is responsible for deciding whether it is still edible or not.

So yesterday, there were several leftover eggs from the farmer’s market, some having a few cracks already. I do not want to buy and thereby demand and make a market for eggs, but as those eggs would’ve been discarded otherwise, I took them in a “freegan” manner and decided to bake macarons, a precious treat which I haven’t managed to make a vegan version of so far.

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As I love matcha and had been planning to make matcha macarons long before I started eating vegan, this was the opportunity to give them a try, and the result is actually pretty tasty … but why don’t you try them yourself? Here’s the recipe and a few tips:

Matcha Macarons
makes about 24 macarons
Ingredients:
160g powdered sugar
90g finely ground almonds
90g egg whites
30g granulated sugar
2 tsps. + 2 tsps. matcha
55g white chocolate*
55g butter or margarine*
  • Line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside.
  • Sift powdered sugar and ground almonds into a bowl. Add 2 tsps. matcha, mix and set aside.
  • Put egg whites into a clean bowl and start whipping them with a handmixer. As soon as the first bubbles appear, add half of the granulated sugar. Continue beating until it starts to get foamy and then add the remaining sugar. Beat until glossy and stiff peaks remain when removing the (switched off) hand mixer.
  • Add half of the ground almonds, poppy seeds and powdered sugar to the egg whites. Carefully fold them in with a rubber spatula with about ten streaks.
  • Add the rest of the almond mixture and continue carefully folding in until there are barely no streaks of white left.
  • Scrape the batter down inside the bowl with a bowl scraper until the batter falls down in ribbons.
  • Fill the batter into a pastry bag with 0,8-1cm diameter round tip. Pipe macaron shells (about 2,5cm diameter) onto the prepared baking sheets.
  • Let the macaron shells dry for about 20 minutes, until a skin has formed and the batter does not stick to your fingertip anymore when carefully touching the macaron’s surface.
  • In the meantime, preheat oven to about 165 degrees Celsius.
  • When a skin has formed on the macaron shells, bake the first tray for about 7-10 minutes (depending on your oven) until they have risen, their little feet have formed and they don’t look like unbaked batter anymore.
  • Remove from oven and bake the next tray. Let cool completely before removing the shells from the baking paper.
  • In the meantime, let white chocolate melt in a water bath.
  • Add 1 tsp. matcha to the molten chocolate, stir until combined and then let cool to room temperature (the mixture should remain liquid, so make sure not to cool for too long!)
  • With a handmixer, start whipping the chocolate mixture and add teaspoons of butter or margarine, piece by piece.
  • Mix until everything is smoothly combined, then taste and if desired, add the remaining tsp. matcha.
  • Fill the completely cooled macaron shells and enjoy :)

* I use vegan white chocolate and vegan butter (organic Alsan)

 A few tips:

  • If you want your macarons to have a perfectly smooth surface, sift the ground almonds before weighing.
  • Macarons taste even better if they’re chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving. You can also store them for up to a few days.
  • For more tips considering the baking technique, check out my guide to macarons :)

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Restaurant Day at Lindener Markt

November 15, 2014

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Today’s Restaurant Day was a blast.

From the moment I got to the marketplace and started arranging my cupcakes for sale, till around 4 hours later when I sold the last cupcake, I was surrounded by wonderfully nice people all the time. I didn’t expect to get so much positive response, but there were many people stopping to say things like “oh that looks so delicious!” with bright eyes, smiling. And that is one of the things I love about food, its ability to make people smile.

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As I didn’t manage to take a few pictures myself, a very nice customer allowed me to share a few pictures she took of the cupcakes here. I hope everyone enjoyed the cupcakes as much as she told me she did!

All in all, this pop-up bakery at the weekly market was a fabulous experience, having the ability to share what I like to bake, getting feedback and meeting such a lot of nice people! I will definitely participate in the upcoming Restaurant Days :)
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Announcement: kawaii kitchen pop-up bakery tomorrow!

November 14, 2014

As part of Restaurant Day tomorrow, kawaii kitchen will hold it’s first pop-up bakery at Lindener Markt, Hanover! I will serve:

  • Apple Cupcakes with Matcha Frosting (vegan)
  • Double Chocolate Cupcakes (vegan)
  • Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with plum filling (vegan)
  • Vanilla Cupcakes with Cranberry Frosting (vegan)
  • assorted French Macarons (non-vegan, made with free-range eggs)

Cupcakes will be 2,70€ each or 10,00€ for 4 Cupcakes
Macarons 1,00€ each

So if you happen to be in Hanover tomorrow, come along and have a bite!

kawaii kitchen pop-up bakery
Lindener Marktplatz
30449 Hanover
open Saturday Nov. 15th 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Quiche inspired by Attila Hildmann

August 28, 2014

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Lately, I’ve been baking vegan a lot. Cupcakes for the Kü-Ché, tarts, cakes and more cupcakes. I also started eating mostly vegan due to ethical reasons and also to try some recipes by Attila Hildmann, who sent me two of his cookbooks which have been translated into English recently.

Attila is a vegan cook and some kind of celebrity here in Germany.

To be honest, he occurred to me like some celebrity poser at first, posting work-out photos of himself very frequently, alternating with advertisements for his cookbooks, cooking tools or even vegetables of his own brand. But then I tried out his recipes and learned that he actually seems to be a very talented cook, although he certainly knows how to place his products and himself on the market and media.

And that’s what makes him so unique and successful as a vegan cookbook author. He manages to demonstrate to a large audience that vegan dishes can be both mouthwatering and simple, contrary to prejudices towards vegan cooking up until now, thereby making vegan nutrition a little more suitable for the mass.

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Recently, he sent me two of his newly available in English cookbooks, “Vegan for Fun” and “Vegan for Fit” to review them. While the latter is rather a diet program, including tips for workouts, both books include lots of recipes for delicious-looking dishes.

When flipping through the pages, I noticed a lot of “fast food” favorites like pizza, burgers, common pasta (meat sauce, carbonara), mushrooms in cream sauce – but all vegan recipes, without calling for overly fancy ingredients or any weird seeming cooking techniques (as my former experience with “veganized” recipes had been).

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Vegan for Fun is structured into chapters, starting with Attila’s philosophy – he approaches veganism not only as an ethical phenomenon (“Doctrines are out”) but also as a more healthy way of living, including sports and the wide range of super foods as ingredients for delicious meals.

Next, there is a small chapter on a few ingredients that might not be so familiar to everyone, like soy whipping cream or guar gum. Attila describes what they are, how to use them and where to buy them, and I think this can be really helpful to anyone who is new to vegan cooking.

And then, there are the recipes – hearty, yummy all-time favorites in vegan versions (“Really satisfying”), party food recipes (“Veggie party”), “Vegan to go” includes snacks and meals you can prepare ahead and eat for example at work for lunch, some low-calorie recipes (“Light and delicious”) and also a chapter on delicious desserts (“Sweet rewards”), my favorite :) Each recipe is accompanied by beautiful pictures, some small background information (like nutritional values, recommendations for serving or information on the use of a special ingredient) and the ingredient measurements are listed in volumes (cups, tablespoons, teaspoons) as well as in metric units.

On the last pages, there are some more tips for grocery shopping, kitchen tools (which are not absolutely necessary in my opinion but certainly can be helpful) and sources for more information about vegan nutrition. All in all, the b00k is structured in a really interesting, informative way and the recipes are suitable for everyday cooking necessities.

It might be not such a big surprise that the first recipes I tried were baking recipes – which fortunately worked out pretty well. Attila’s Carrot cake for example was added to my favorite recipes immediately. But I also baked savory things, a hearty quiche to be precise. As I really liked the result, I thought I’d share my version of the recipe with you.

Vegetable Quiche || vegan
makes one 24 cm Quiche, adapted from Vegan for Fun by Attila Hildmann
Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsps baking powder
about 1 1/2 tsps salt
1 cup vegetable margarine (I used Alsan)
3 tsps. sugar
2 scallions
1 – 1 1/2  cups roughly chopped vegetables of your choice
(I used a handful of mushrooms, 1/3 red bell pepper and 4 stalks mangold)
3-4 tbsps. olive oil
1 cup soy yogurt
1 cup oat cream
4 tbsps corn starch
more salt
pepper
lots of nutmeg (preferably freshly ground)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Line a 24cm diameter quiche pan with baking paper or grease with vegetable margarine.
  • For the dough, combine flour, baking powder, 1 1/2 tsps. salt, margarine and sugar in a bowl. Add 70 mL (about 4 1/2 tbsps.) cold water and knead until combined.
  • Next, clean the scallions and cut into fine rings.
  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. When hot, add the scallions, then the chopped vegetables and cook for 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.
  • In a medium size bowl, combine soy yogurt, oat cream and cornstarch. Season with salt, pepper and lots of nutmeg. Stir in the vegetables, taste, and if necessary, season again.
  • Roll out the dough, press into the quiche pan and form a border on the sides of the pan. Pour in the vegetable-yogurt-cream mixture and bake for 40 minutes.
  • Let cool a little before serving so that the filling can set and then enjoy!
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Strawberry cupcakes with whipped chocolate ganache frosting || vegan

June 10, 2014

It’s strawberry season! At least here in Germany, those red cuties can be found everywhere at the moment. At the supermarket, the farmer’s market, or on top of cupcakes. These cupcakes here, for example.

A few months ago I found a recipe for vegan strawberry cake and wanted to try it as soon as there were fresh strawberries available again. So I baked  cupcakes out of the batter, topped them with whipped chocolate ganache frosting and some more beautiful strawberries. People at the Kü-Ché liked them pretty much, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you :)

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Strawberry cupcakes with chocolate frosting (adapted from Kurryleaves) || vegan
makes 12 cupcakes
Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups sugar
0,75 tsps baking soda
1 pinch salt
3/4 to 1 cup strawberry puree (about 300g strawberries)
1 tsp vanilla
3/8 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
200g dark (vegan) chocolate
30g vegan butter
150g vegan whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
100-200g strawberries for decoration
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners and set aside.
  • Put dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, salt) into a bowl and mix until combined.
  • Put strawberry puree, vanilla, vegetable oil, and white wine vinegar into another bowl, mix, then add them to the dry ingredients. Gently fold in just until combined, try not to overmix.
  • Fill the batter into the prepared paper liners and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Remove them from oven and let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
  • For the frosting, chop vegan chocolate roughly and put into a metal bowl. Add butter, whipping cream and vanilla and set over a pot with hot water. Let everything melt in the waterbath, stirring occasionally.
  • When melted, remove bowl from the pot and let the chocolate mixture cool down to room temperature.
  • When cooled to room temperature properly, the mixture should be still liquid or at least soft. (If not, add more vegan whipping cream and melt again, then let cool to room temperature again.)
  • Carefully whip up the cooled chocolate mixture until light and fluffy.
  • Pipe the frosting on top of the cupcakes, then add a strawberry for decoration. Enjoy! :)

Cheesecake bars, inspired by Thilo’s russian pluck cake

April 10, 2014

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My former flatmate Thilo used to make this unbelievably yummy cake called “Russischer Zupfkuchen” (Russian pluck cake, roughly translated) and ever since he moved out, my other flatmates requested I should bake it. He always just threw all ingredients into a bowl, eyeballing the amounts, never measuring anything exactly but always got a beautiful and tasty cake. Wonder how he did that, lots of experience perhaps?

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When doing some research about the origin of russian pluck cake, I figured out that it does not really seem to be a russian cake. What’s funny is that there are said to be cakes like this one in some regions of russia, but apparently they’re called “German cake”.

Soft cheesecake with a crumbly chocolate crust, sprinkled with the remaining chocolate dough plucked into chunks, that’s basically what russian pluck cake is. It is pretty popular here in Germany, people tend to like the combination of cocoa and moist cheesecake filling, especially my flatmates. So I made a whole baking tray and cut the cake into nice handy bars. Turns out that I like cake bars, somehow. You can cut them into smaller bars and eat them piece by piece, enjoying every crumb, or just dig in, if you’re in a hurry and late for an exam like me this morning.

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Enough of the cake shape philosophy, here’s the recipe. As I am not as talented and/or experienced as Thilo, I wrote all the measurements down for you.

This version of russian pluck cake is rather heavy on the eggs and the vanilla, my flatmates seem to like that, but I think you could also vary  a little with the ingredients.

Cheesecake bars with chocolate crust
makes one baking tray
Ingredients – for the crust:
250g butter
400g flour
50g cocoa powder
3 tsps. baking powder
200g granulated sugar
2 eggs
for the filling:
1 kg low-fat quark
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
3 tbsps. vanilla
250g butter, melted
250g granulated sugar
60g corn starch, sifted
3 eggs
  • Put flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and granulated sugar into a bowl and mix well. Add 2 eggs and 250g butter (cut into small chunks) and knead until everything is combined. Roll batter into a ball, cover with clingfoil and cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • Line a baking tray (mine was about 55cm x 36cm) with baking paper, set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 175 degrees C/350 degrees F.
  • For the filling, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until homogenous.
  • Roll 2/3 of the dough out on the prepared baking tray, form a surrounding edge. Pinch the crust a few times with a fork.
  • Pour the cheesecake filling onto the prepared crust and spread evenly.
  • Pluck the remaining dough into chunks (or use cookie cutters to portion it) and put them on top of the cheesecake filling.
  • Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. When cooled, cut the cake into bars and enjoy!

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Apple & almond tart

April 2, 2014

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I’ve never been good at saying goodbye.

Last week I quit the job I had been working at during the last year. I had been working in the kitchen there, nothing special. But nevertheless I’m going to miss my coworkers, the way they made me laugh and have fun during work. To make farewell a little sweeter, I brought cake – no big surprise, is it?

As spring is arriving with its beautiful fruits, I made cupcakes with strawberry frosting. Also, I baked my ultimate chocolate cake, and I tried something new: an apple & almond tart.

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Whole-grain crust with a hint of cinnamon, a layer of marzipan covered under the last of fading winter’s apples. A few caramelized almond slices on top and done is this simple but good tart. Ready to be enjoyed in its crumbly, juicy and sweet yummyness (is that a word, yummyness? Anyway, I hope you know what I mean to express). And it is able to bring comfort, to make people smile, even at rather sad occasions.

Apple and almond tart
makes one 22cm tart
Ingredients:
180g whole grain flour
120g + about 30g butter
60g + 3 tbsps. granulated sugar
1/2 – 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3-4 apples
100g marzipan
2 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. kirsch
2-3 tbsps. sliced almonds
  • Put flour, 60g granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon into a bowl. Cut 120g butter into cubes and add them to the other ingredients, then carefully knead everything together until you have got an even dough. Taste and if you’d like a stronger cinnamon flavor, add remaining cinnamon. Try not to overknead the dough, just until all ingredients are evenly combined. Roll the dough into a ball, cover with clingfoil and put into the refridgerator to rest for half an hour.
  • In the meantime, clean and core the apples and slice them thinly (about 2-3mm thin), then set them aside.
  • Put marzipan, powdered sugar and kirsch into a bowl and knead until everything is combined. Take the marzipan batter out of the bowl and roll it into a circle of about 20cm.
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F. Line a 22cm cake pan (I used a springform pan) with baking paper or butter it and set aside.
  • Take the chilled dough out of the refridgerator and put it into the prepared cake pan. Press it flat into the pan to form the crust, make sure to form a little surrounding edge.
  • Put the marzipan circle on top of the crust and then stab a few times with a fork through the marzipan and crust layer.
  • Place the apple slices on top of the marzipan layer and top with the remaining 30g small chunks of butter.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, then take out of the oven and let cool.
  • Put 3 tbsps. granulated sugar into a pan and heat on the stove carefully. When just caramelized, add sliced almonds, mix, and quickly decorate the cake with caramelized almonds before the caramel hardens.

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