Food: The Schichttorte 20 Layer German Cake

While I was in Florida, I watched many (many) episodes of The Great British Bake Off. Have you heard of it? Seen it? In brief, it’s a baking competition show from the UK. My friend Shannon and I were hooked! The hosts – Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry – really made us laugh, and we were rooting for so many contestants along the way. And the baking! Oh the baking! Each week, the bakers were given challenges for both savoury and sweet baking, and some of the items I had just never even heard of! In one technical challenge, the contestants had to make a Schichttorte. This is a 20-layer German cake that looks absolutely cool!

photos from the Daily Mail UK

Aren’t those layers beautiful? I wanted to make it. So this past weekend, I did. I was invited to a dinner party, and I knew my friends would appreciate it.

I used a combination of two recipes. The main cake recipe is from the BBC, and the icing recipe is from Paté Smith. I’ve shared it below with measurements in cups.

Here’s how my cake making went down.

I prepared all of my ingredients in advance.

I mixed the egg yolks until they were creamy. I added the butter and sugar mixture as well as the flour mixture as per the recipe.

I whipped up the egg whites until they formed stiff peaks.

I carefully folded the egg whites into the egg/butter/sugar/flour mixture. I greased my spring form pan and lined the bottom with parchment paper.

As per the recipe, I spread one layer at a time. I used my crepe spreader to evenly distribute the batter for my Schichttorte.

I tried to carefully keep track of the layers and timing as I put each new layer under the broiler, but I failed at this. I completely lost track. I watched the oven like a hawk during the cooking process. My timing wasn’t too consistent. You’re supposed to alternate between light and dark(er) layers by adjusting the baking time, but my baking time was inconsistent. I left the spring form pan in the oven anywhere from 45 seconds to 2 minutes for each layer. As per the recipe, the pan was right under my broiler (about 4″ or 10cm).

It looked golden and delicious when all the layers were done, and I released it from the spring form pan. I brushed melted apricot jam on the cake once it had cooled a bit.

I made the chocolate glaze and covered the top and sides of the Schichttorte.

Once that had dried a bit, I decorated the top with vanilla glaze. I was too lazy to pull out my piping bag, so I put the vanilla glaze into a Ziploc bag and snipped the end off for a DIY piping bag. In this way, it was easy to drizzle the vanilla glaze over the chocolate.

The outside of the cake made for a pretty presentation, but the true test was when we cut into the cake. Would the layers appear? Would the be distinct? Well, the suspense is over!

Layers! Distinct layers! I call this a successful first Schichttorte attempt!

And here are a few more photos if you’d like to see.

   

I’m so pleased that the cake turned out. All cake eaters (n=6) were impressed by the layers, the decoration, and the chocolate glaze. The same number of cake eaters were surprised by the cake’s density. Post-eating Googling revealed that the Schichttorte is in fact on the dense side, so I baked it as it should have been baked. Phew! Good to know, right?

If you’re like to challenge yourself, go ahead and bake a Schichttorte. The ingredients are easy, and the overall process is easy. The trickiest part was keeping track of the oven and time.

Recipe
(adapted from the BBC and Pate Smith)

Ingredients

The Cake

  • 10 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup (100g/3½oz ) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (150g/5½oz) caster sugar (I used granulated sugar)
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (150g/5½oz) flour, sifted
  • 1/3 cup (65g/2¼oz) cornstarch, sifted
  • oil, for greasing
  • 6 tbsp apricot jam

Chocolate Glaze

  • 1 cup (150g) icing (confectioners’) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Vanilla Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter

Method

  1. Whisk the egg yolks in the bowl of a freestanding mixer on a high speed for five minutes, until pale, thick and creamy.

  2. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract and mix well. Add the whisked egg yolks and beat well. Add the flour and cornstarch and mix.

  3. In a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Stir one-third of the egg whites into the batter to loosen the consistency. Then gently fold the remaining egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.

  4. Preheat the broiler to high.

  5. Grease a 20cm/8in round springform pan with oil and line the base with parchment paper.

  6. Spoon some of the batter into the base of the cake tin and spread evenly across the bottom. Give the tin a gentle side-to-side shake to even out the top of the batter. Place on a shelf 10cm/4in below the grill and cook for two minutes, or until light golden-brown.

  7. Remove from the oven, add another spoonful of batter, spread it out, and place under the broiler for three minutes, or until dark golden-brown. Continue layering and baking under the broiler until you have 20 layers alternating in colour from light golden-brown to dark golden-brown. (Or continue until you have used all the batter.)

  8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan for five minutes. Carefully release from the pan and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

  9. Melt the apricot jam in a small pan over a low heat. Pass through a fine sieve, then brush the top and sides of the cake with jam. This will help the glaze stick to the cake.

  10. To make the chocolate glaze, sift together icing/confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl. Stir in milk and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. If it is too thick, heat it up over a small pan. Pour evenly over cake.

  11. To make the vanilla glaze, melt butter and add in icing/confectioners’ sugar, milk, salt, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Add more milk (very little at a time) if necessary. Pour into a squeeze bottle or icing bag and drizzle over cake.

A few extra notes:

  • The full process (including kitchen clean up) took 2.5 hours. Not that bad, in my opinion. If I make it again, I know I’ll be a little faster, too.
  • I used a 9″ spring form pan because I didn’t have an 8″. I didn’t think this was a problem although I did have fewer than 20 layers.
  • This is a dense and eggy cake. If you’re looking for something light and airy, this isn’t it.
  • I used granulated sugar as I thought that it was a fine replacement for caster sugar, but the next time I make this recipe, I’m going to use caster sugar to see if there’s a difference.

Food: How to Make Crepes

When I have a lazy morning, I love to make waffles or crepes. Over the Easter weekend, I whipped up a batch of crepes and documented the process on my first Instagram story. Since those stories only last for a short period of time, I thought I’d more permanently document the recipe here.

I’ve tried several recipes, and while everything has turned out well, I find this crepe recipe from Bonnie Stern to be one of the quickest and easiest.

Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. vegetable oil or melted butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. butter

Steps:
1. In a blender or food processor combine eggs, milk, salt, oil, flour and salt. Blend about 10 seconds until smooth. Place batter in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let batter rest at room temperature about 1/2 hour or in the refrigerator for a few hours. If batter is too thick, thin with a little water. It should be the consistency of unwhipped whipping cream.

2. To make crepes heat an 8″ or 9″ non-stick pan. Brush pan with butter. Pour a scant 1/4 cup batter into pan and swirl to coat bottom of pan. Allow to cook 1 to 2 minutes on medium or medium high heat until browned on the bottom (you can lift up one side to check) and turn by slipping a long, thin spatula under the middle and flipping it over. Cook second side about one minute. Second side will not brown as nicely as the first. Stack crepes as they are made. Depending on your pan and your stove, it might take a few tries to get the crepes the way you like them but you can always eat the trial ones! Makes 10 to 12 crepes

Note: This recipe is published in Bonnie Stern’s Essentials of Home Cooking as well as in the National Post.

Here’s my crepe photo diary:

getting ingredients ready

buttering the pan

pouring in the first bit of batter

getting ready to flip

stacking crepes high

reaching for Nutella

 And how do I eat them? Well, since I’m a Nutella-holic, I usually have Nutella with my first crepe of the bunch. I also really like the classic sugar + lemon crepe. If you’re into more healthy options, I like mixing eggs and spinach and folding a crepe over the mixture. You could use this crepe recipe for both savory and sweet crepes.

Oh – and one last thing, I use a de Buyer crepe pan that I picked up at Bradshaws in Stratford. And I seasoned it, too.

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Food: Finding the Perfect Pizza Dough Recipe

Among all the other things on my to do list this year, I’d like to try to find the perfect pizza dough recipe. My parents get the best fresh pizza dough from a local bakery near where they live, but I have only been able to find frozen pizza dough here in Waterloo. And it’s okay. Nothing amazing. Just fine.

Recently, I watched Anthony Bourdain’s Rome episode in his show The Layover, and I cannot get over the pizza that I saw in the show. The dough looked just perfect.

I tried this recipe from Ina Garten (side note – Ina and Jeffrey – #couplegoals), but I wasn’t impressed. It wasn’t malleable and, frankly, it was bland.

I put a call out on Instagram, and Deborah from Green Light District sent me over a recipe from Gourmet from 15 years ago. I gave it a go, and it was quite good. Although it was a time consuming process – the rise, punch, rise, punch routine – the dough was soft and easy to work with. It had a nice amount of saltiness, too.

Steps 1 & 2

Steps 2 & 3 

Step 3

Steps 4 & 5

Final product!

Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a try – with a few of my add-on notes at the end:

Ingredients:
2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (over the years I substituted 1/4 cup or so with whole wheat or other interesting floors like buckwheat)
Cornmeal for dusting the pizza tile

Procedure:

  1. In a large bowl, proof the yeast with the sugar & 1/4 cup warm water for 10 minutes or so, until foamy.
  2. Stir in remaining 1 cup warm water, salt, oil and 2-3/4 cups flour. Blend until it forms a dough.
  3. Turn out onto a floured surface, knead, incorporating as much as the remaining 1/4 cup flour as necessary to prevent dough from sticking. Should take anywhere between 7-10 minutes. Should be smooth like a baby’s bottom!
  4. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, turn to coat, let rise covered with plastic wrap in a warm place for 2 hours, or until doubled.
  5. Punch down, let rise again for 45 minutes until doubled again, covered with plastic wrap.
  6. Divide the dough into 3 balls.
  7. Preheat oven to 500.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, roll one of the three balls out into a 12″ round. Quickly transfer on pizza tile, top with sauce, veggies, other toppings. Bake 8-10 minutes or so. Check it often.
  9. A couple of minutes before the pizza is done, add the cheese.

Additional Notes:

  • I don’t use a pizza tile. I use a cookie sheet. I also don’t use cornmeal. I oil up my cookie sheet.
  • I heat my oven to 450.
  • I use my KitchenAid stand mixer for most of the mixing. I then knead it a few times on my floured counter before I let it rise in the bowl.
  • I used “OO” flour (this one from Granoro) because this is what my aunt in Italy uses, but I’m not sure if it makes a difference. I really need to ask her for her recipe. That’s what I really should do!
  • I really like the classic margherita pizza, so that’s why you’ll see it in my Instagram feed most often.

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Food: Riviera Yogurt

Months and months ago when I was grocery shopping and my local Sobey’s, I picked up a package of Riviera yogurt. Now, I’m not much of a yogurt consumer. I buy Greek yogurt every so often, but I’m not a daily consumer. So when I saw this Riviera yogurt, I was mostly interested in the glass jars. They reminded me of France. So I picked them up and hoped for the best.

image via Riviera

Let me tell you, this yogurt is really good. It is like the yogurt I’ve had in France and Switzerland. I opted for the plain yogurt (I’m not that fancy when it comes to yogurt), but I’ve since bought the lemon yogurt (mostly because I like saying citron), and I like alternating between these two. The yogurt is delicious, it doesn’t upset my stomach (some yogurts do), and the serving size is perfect. Plus, les petits pots look fancy and pretty. Beyond plain and flavoured yogurt, the Riviera line also includes parfaits, cheeses, and milk. My local Sobey’s doesn’t carry everything, but the Riviera website helps you find locations where the Riviera line is carried.

So what do I do with the glass jars after I’ve eaten the yogurt? Well, they have so many uses! I’ve used my jars to store nuts, hummus, candy, and candles. You can order plastic lids in just about every colour online, and porcelain lids may be available, too (the website notes that these are currently out of stock).

If you live in Quebec and you don’t want to reuse your pots, you can drop them off at Renaissance. Otherwise, you can check out the 1001 tips for reuse.

pistachio dessert recipe and photo via Maison Orphée

photo via Riviera Facebook

For those who are interested to learn more about this yogurt, the Riviera line is part of the Chalifoux company, an award-winning, family-owned business based in Quebec. Oui oui!

Many thanks to Kathleen H. for sending me some lids for my petits pots.

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