Tag Archives: baking

Recipe: Herman the German Peach and Apricot Cake

I have a Herman the German sourdough cake starter!  Does anyone want one?  (No, seriously, I mean it – Herman is a delightful fellow, but I think he was a Tribble in a past life, and as a result, one must constantly find new Herman acolytes who want a Friendship Cake bubbling away on their benchtop during the week…)

Anyway, he’s a lovely, healthy, vibrant Herman – I think he really likes brown sugar, because he froths and bubbles with enthusiasm at the slightest provocation – and he made me a lovely apple cake with the original recipe a couple of weeks back, but one cannot live on apple cake alone, and also, I found his apple cake rather sweet, so I decided to have a bit of a play with what was in the pantry, and see what happened.

The first thing in my pantry was an awful lot of almond meal left over from last week’s baking extravaganza, as well as a couple of spoonfuls of chocolate-coated coriander seeds, which I had forgotten to add to one of my recipes.  An interesting start.  Apricots and almonds are a natural fit, and I felt that apricot and coriander also gets along fairly well – and I also had somehow acquired no fewer than three half-empty packets of dried apricots, so that seemed to be an obvious choice already.  I still needed some ‘wet’ fruit, and I’ve got a surprising number of tins and bottles of peaches lurking around the place, so they seemed like the best idea for that.  At this point, I gleefully remembered my peach schnapps, and got that out, too.

Does this combination work?  You know, I can’t decide.  I love, love, love the zings of coriander with the dried apricots, but the peach is perhaps a little wet for my taste.  And the whole thing tastes so very alcoholic, far past what I would expect for that amount of schnapps.  On the other hand, all the Germans in my lab absolutely adored this, and said it tasted like a proper German cake (“Like Stollen, only not dry”), so evidently it works for some tastes, if not for mine.  I think next time, I’d use fresh peaches, however.  And maybe a bit of cardamom in the batter.  See what you think.

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Your Shopping List

250 – 300ml Herman starter (i.e., about a quarter of your Herman on day 10 after his second feed on day 9)
2/3 cups sugar – any kind, but I used half castor and half coconut sugar
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
160 ml canola oil
2 tablespoons peach schnapps, + 2 more tablespoons for the glaze
400 ml tinned or bottled sliced peaches, which you probably should chop, but I didn’t
1 cup dried apricots, ditto
10 g coriander seeds in milk chocolate.  Or just a teaspoon of coriander seeds, just for fun.
115 g icing sugar

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Recipe: Sticky Apricot Cardamom Scrolls

After I made those cinnamon scrolls last week and bragged about them to the internet, I had a few requests for the recipe.  Well, I can’t give you the recipe, because for once in my life, I was actually following a recipe properly, and that recipe came from The Great Australian Bake Off Cookbook.  Incidentally, I hope some of you saw the bake off when it was on, because it was enormously fun – like someone took all the interesting parts of Masterchef, condensed them into one hour a week, got rid of the endless repetition and commentary, and added amusing musical stings and a very cute, playschool-like pastel coloured kitchen for everyone to work in, in the gardens of Werribee Mansion.  Oh, and it was all baking, no annoying savoury dishes with everyone nattering on about protein, where protein must always and only mean meat.

Anyway, much to my surprise, this cookbook turns out to actually have all the recipes from the show that *I* wanted to try, which is very clever of them.  Clearly whoever put this together shares my tastes to a remarkable degree.  I want to bake everything in the book. 

Hello, digression!  Getting back to the point, rather than share a recipe that wasn’t mine, I decided yesterday to modify the recipe to something I could share with you.  So instead of coffee scrolls, we have these sticky apricot and cardamom buns which are absolutely gorgeous, if I say so myself.  They do have quite a strong cardamom flavour, so if you like your spices subtle, you might want to halve the quantity. 

The dough, incidentally, is absolutely beautiful to work with – so soft and tender to the touch, just delicious.  And I love the method, which is spread out over a lazy few hours… or a frenetic few hours as you run into the study between kneads in order to write endless political posts (only six left now, hooray!) and food blog wrap-ups.  It’s strangely relaxing to make.

And the results are glorious.

buns close

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275 ml milk (low fat milk or a non-dairy milk are both fine here)
7 g dry yeast
1 egg
450 g bread flour
25 g caster sugar + 1/4 cup for the syrup
1 tsp salt
50 g unsalted butter, plus another 50 g for the filling
1 1/4 cups chopped dried apricots
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cardamom
50 ml blood orange juice – from about half an orange
2 cups icing sugar

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Who are you and what have you done with Catherine?

It’s been a little quiet around here, which wasn’t my intention.  Several of you have asked me for particular recipes – which I will get to, I promise! – but work has just gone into grant-writing mode again, and I find that spending a day attempting to ascertain from a remarkably detailed, and yet strangely unhelpful, set of instructions whether or not what we are doing counts as human subjects research leaves me with very little brain at the end of the day for writing about food.  And I’m feeling a bit on the seedy side this week, which doesn’t help.

The thing with feeling seedy and tired and (to be honest) hormonal, is that I become totally unreliable about grocery shopping.  For one thing, I want ALL THE RED MEAT IN THE WORLD.  Well, Koallah Farm sent me their weekly specials email today, so that took care of that particular urge.  What is more puzzling is the invariable urge to buy all sorts of unhealthy things that I don’t even particularly like.  Those fake chocolate mousse desserts, for example.  Or Edam cheese (which I don’t dislike, but I don’t like in *those* quantities).  Or really bad filled chocolates.  Or excessively sweet confectionery which I can make better myself.  Or donuts.  Which I don’t want by the time I get home, because I have also bought lamingtons, and cheese, and STEAK, and fake chocolate mousse, despite the fact that I remember perfectly well from last time that I don’t like it, but this time it will be different.

(Generally, grocery shopping becomes Andrew’s duty at this time of the month.  Though his tendency to call me from the confectionery or frozen dessert sections of the supermarket to make suggestions is not as helpful as he thinks it is…)

Anyway, today I did something I haven’t done in more than a decade.

O my Readers, I bought packet cake mix.

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