Friday, June 29, 2007

streusel kuchen

This post is in honor of my German grandmother who handed down so many wonderful German recipes through her daughters. I inherited my dislike for measuring from her. Almost all of her recipes she knew by heart and just estimated everything. In fact, a few measurements she made up terms for (like a glug of corn syrup).

One characteristic of German food is being tart. Lemon juice is a favorite ingredient of my grandmother, going in things like salad dressing, frosting, and carrot salad. This cake is our family's favorite German cake recipe. It is best served right out of the oven and frosted generously with the lemon frosting. Enjoy!

3 T. yeast
½ c. water
1 c. scalded milk
½ c. butter
½ c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. salt
4-5 c. flour
½ t. lemon extract

1 c. flour
1 c. sugar
½ c. butter

¼ c. lemon juice
powdered sugar

Combine yeast and water (should be warm but not hot); allow yeast to grow for a few minutes. Mixture will get frothy and you will see the yeast growing. Scald milk by putting it in the microwave for 60-90 seconds. Do not boil, but heat until it is hot to the touch and too hot to drink. Combine butter and milk so that the butter melts completely. Add to yeast mixture along with the eggs, sugar, and extract. Beat with a mixer if necessary to make the dough smooth. Add flour and mix by hand once it gets stiff. Dough should feel like a soft bread dough (still a little sticky).

Press into pan (either two 8.5x11 or a large cookie sheet). Let rise for 20-30 minutes until dough about doubles. To make crumbles, soften butter a bit and then mix with ingredients with a fork. Sprinkle crumbles on top of risen dough and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. Cake bakes very quickly, so keep an eye on it. Take out when it is just starting to turn light brown.

To make lemon glaze, add lemon juice and a 2-3 c of powdered sugar. Should be runny and easy to drizzle. Drizzle on top while still hot.

dance party

I'm a morning person. By some miracle the moment (or often a few minutes before) my alarm rings I am awake and ready to get the day started. One of my secrets is playing music while getting ready in the morning.

Some days we keep things mellow, but more often than not it is anything that makes us want to dance. Some of our favorites are Enrique, Justin Timberlake, and Rihanna. My newest acquisition has been "Life in Cartoon Motion" by Mika.

Love it. It is upbeat, fun, and just makes you want to move. Thanks to Arianne for introducing me to this little slice of heaven. And thanks to Kim for creating the dance parties.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

tarts making tarts

Sorry about the recent silence on this blog, but my life has somehow gotten away from me. And when I am stressed I do one of two things: cook or clean. Crying or worrying is not an option, so I turn to something more productive.

This past week I spent a few of the nights making fresh strawberry tarts to bake away my worries and stress. Just like gardening, there is something therapeutic in working with your hands to create something. My mother was right when she said it builds character.

I grew up making tarts with my mom. We don't make them much anymore, but I can remember making the dough and then pressing it into the little tins with my mom asking if I was doing it correctly. I started baking at an early age, mainly because it was a great way to spend time with my mom and I knew that she loved having me join her in the kitchen. Sometimes we talked, and sometimes we would just enjoy each other's company as we made oil buns late at night or stirred pots waiting for dinner to finish. I was her one kid that loved cooking with her.

So Sunday night I pulled out our family recipe for tart shells and made the dough. My roommate Kim watched as I made the shells and then we called over a few friends to help us consume the enormous volume of tarts, strawberries, whipping cream, and citrus glaze that I made. It was wonderful to sit with some of the most lovely women I know and feast on one of summer's truly best desserts (no offense to you, rhubarb pie). Tarts eating tarts is one of my favorite Sunday activities.
Any other suggestions on the best way you craft, cook, or clean your way out of stress?