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Mint-glazed Lemon Cake

August 22, 2015

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It’s been a while since my last post … again, I know. To those of you who are interested why: most of my time I was working in the lab during the past year and therefore did not have so much time to spend on baking and especially taking pictures and writing down recipes. Now that I got my Bachelor’s degree and finished my internship in another lab, I have a few weeks of free time until continuing my studies with a Master’s program in Berlin. Yep, that’s right, I’m moving to Berlin and I am freaking excited about it! Living in a big city again after nine years since I moved away from Yokohama is something I am so looking forward to!

But more importantly, I have more time to spend in the kitchen again! In fact, I am sitting in our flat’s kitchen in this very moment as I am finally typing a blogpost again. And next to me, there is this beautiful cake standing on the kitchen table, waiting to be devoured …

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For my Farewell-Party at the Institute I baked a few things – no big surprise here probably – and one of these things was this delicious mint-glazed lemon cake. In my opinion, this is the perfect summer cake (apart from fruit tarts maybe), with it’s tangy citrus notes and refreshing coolness of the mint. On top of that, it’s super simple to make, only a little grating of lemon zest, adding a handful of other ingredients, glazing the cake after baking and that’s it! As some of my former colleagues really liked this cake, I baked it again for my flatmates (and for taking some pictures :)). Being worthy of a blogpost, I considered this cake, so here it is – the recipe for you, if you want to bake and enjoy a bite of this treat as well :)

Mint-glazed Lemon Cake || vegan
recipe adapted from Bored But Busy
makes one 20cm loaf
Ingredients:
100g vegan butter (I like to use organic Alsan) + a little more for greasing the baking pan
160g cane sugar
250g wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 medium-sized lemons (if using very large lemons, 1 1/2 should be enough: the zest and juice of one lemon for the cake, and juice of 1/2 lemon for the icing)
140g icing sugar
2 tbsps. mint liquor
15 small to medium-sized mint leaves + more for decoration
  • Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease your baking pan and set aside.
  • Grate zest of 1 1/2 medium-sized (or 1 large) lemons into a measuring cup, add juice of the 1 1/2 (or 1 big) lemons and fill up with water, then put aside.
  • Mix flour and baking soda and set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl whip together the vegan butter and cane sugar until creamy. Add vanilla and vinegar, mix in.
  • Add dry and wet ingredients alternatingly to the butter-sugar-mixture, stirring after each addition and mix until combined.
  • Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for around 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. To prevent burning of the surface, cover the cake with aluminium foil after 15-20 minutes of baking. After baking, let the cake cool for around 5 minutes, then remove from cake pan carefully and let sit on a rack until cooled completely.
  • In the meantime, prepare the icing: for the white lemon icing, mix 60g powdered sugar with 1 1/2 tbsps. lemon juice from the remaining half lemon, and if desired, add more liquid until desired consistency is reached.
  • For the mint icing, mix 1 tsp. chopped mint leaves (I used about 15 small to medium-sized leaves), 2 tsps. mint liquor and 80g of powdered sugar together. Add more liquid (lemon juice or water) if necessary until desired consistency of the icing is reached.
  • Pour both icings on top of the cake, decorate with more mint leaves and lemon zest if you like :)

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Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies (vegan)

February 22, 2015

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I’ve been looking for a good vegan cookie recipe for ages. Chocolate Chip Cookies are such a simple, wonderful treat which one could expect to be foolproof to make.

Well – wrong expectations, I had. Ever since I started eating mostly vegan, I tried a LOT of chocolate chip cookie recipes which all turned out to be not so nice. Rock-hard cookies, crispy but not chewy ones, chewy but not crispy ones, … not satisfying. Until finally, I found this recipe here by chance. It’s a recipe for double chocolate chip cookies with cocoa-dough and chocolate chips. As I prefer vanilla-scented dough with chocolate chunks, I changed the recipe slightly – and those cookies turned out to be perfect (at least for my taste). Slightly crispy at the edges, chewy in the middle, a sweet hint of vanilla and big chunks of bittersweet chocolate.

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If that’s your idea of a perfect cookie as well, you should try baking these. They’re super quick to make and really satisfying when you’re craving something sweet to accompany your coffee :)

Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies || vegan
(recipe adapted from VITA)
makes about 20 large cookies
Ingredients:
400g raw cane sugar
a pinch of salt
300g vegan butter (at room temperature)
about 2 tbsps. vanilla
50g soy milk (unsweetened)
500g flour
17g baking powder
200g good quality vegan chocolate, chopped roughly
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line two (or more, if you have) baking trays with baking paper.
  • Put raw cane sugar, salt and vegan butter into a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Add soy milk and vanilla and mix until combined.
  • Add flour and baking powder and mix until the dough is homogenous and there are no big butter chunks left. Fold in chopped chocolate.
  • With a cookie dough scoop (or ice cream scoop) put equally sized portions of cookie dough onto the baking trays, leaving lots of space between each cookie as they will spread out while baking. (With my cookie scoop I can fit 6 cookies on each baking tray)
  • Bake each batch for around 15 minutes or until the cookies start to get brown and crispy on the edges. Transfer the cookies on the baking paper onto a wire cooling rack and let cool completely before piling them up on a plate or into a storage box. Enjoy! :)

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Restaurant Day – Valentine’s Edition

February 19, 2015

As part of the latest Restaurant Day, kawaii kitchen had its second pop-up bakery at Lindener Markt in Hanover last weekend. Again, it was a blast. Lots of planning, baking and not so much sleep – and then a cold but wonderfully sunny, beautiful morning at the market. This time, I served Macarons au Chocolat, Macarons a la Vanille and an assortment of vegan Cupcakes:

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with (vegan) cream cheese frosting and plum filling, Lemon and Rosemary Cupcakes, Hazelnut Gianduja Cupcakes, Chocolate Mint Cupcakes and just in time for Valentine’s Day, Rose & Marzipan Cupcakes.

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Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera with me, so all I can show you now is a few snapshots my boyfriend (or I) took in a hurry with my cellphone, sorry about that!

It was another great experience, it made me really happy that several people remembered me from last Restaurant Day and came along for some sweet treats again! But there were also a few (vegan) people complaining about my non-vegan macarons. Making vegan macarons is something I’ve been trying for at least half a year now, unfortunately without any success. I searched the internet and tried several recipes including meringue made from flax seeds or a mixture of starches and plant protein, but nothing really worked out well so far. Do you have any idea how to make vegan macarons? I’d be really glad about some helpful comments :)

Hopefully I can serve vegan macarons on the next Restaurant Day! Until then – hope you guys had a nice Valentine’s Day as well!

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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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