Bakken in Nederland
Saturday we went on a quest to find ingredients and gear for me to cook with. A brisk walk in the drizzle and cool air took us downtown to where the open-air market is. We found an Italian specialty store that sells, among other delights, fresh pasta. I swooned, bought some, and started plotting immediately. I spotted a grocer in the market who was selling herbs so I bought a big bunch of basil from him. We walked a lot that morning (5.3km!), so we stopped to rest and warm ourselves at a coffee shop (a real one, not a pot-selling one!) before heading home with our haul. I had a hazelnut cappucino, with whipped cream of course, and he had hot chocolate, which was quite literally steamed milk with a block of milk chocolate dissolved in it, with a side dish of whipped cream.
We went home and that evening I made fresh pasta with a variation on Amatriciana sauce – bacon, onion, crushed tomatoes, and sausage, melted together over low heat then simmered in red wine until thick and rich. A dollop of fresh cream added right at the end smoothed out all the flavors and added another layer of richness to the sauce. Served with the slightly chewy fresh fettucine, it was wonderful.
Carel, being the nice guy that he is, took himself off to the only open grocery store the next day and braved the crowds to find and buy baking powder, which he ultimately did. Small packets of it, but hey. It was baking powder and that meant that I could finally Make Something. YAY.
I’d made the frosting from this apple-pancake-cupcake recipe, given to me by Ivo. It looks fabulous but I wanted to create something so I went my own way. All you really need to know is the proportion of wet to dry ingredients. Then you can play. I like making mudpies, and here’s my latest one:
1.5 cups sugar (I replaced half with erythritol)
1/2 cup cream
7.5 ounces strained Greek yogurt
2 cups plus two tablespoons flour (for half of which I used spelt meal)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 handful raisins
The usual process, yeah? Mix the dry ingredients and the wet ones in different bowls, then combine, mixing the least possible to get a thorough combination, then plop it into a greased pan. I used a European cake pan, which is narrower than the ones in the States, with higher sides, and a pattern in it that allows the butter to collect in the little depressions in the sides – making for a superb crust. I not only coated it liberally with butter, but also sugared it, ensuring a buttery, caramelized exterior of the loaf. Baked for an hour at 400 degrees, it came out perfectly. When I removed it from the oven I poked long deep holes in it with a skewer and then poured heated maple syrup over the top, allowing it to drain down into the cake.
When cool, it proved to be just about perfect. Not too sweet, strong maple-y flavor, fine-grained and moist, studded with little pockets of sweetness that had been the raisins, with a crunchy sweet buttery crust. I served it with a little of the maple-bacon frosting on the side, and a cup of hot sweet milky tea. It was *awesome*. Carel loved it so much I named the creation after him. So now we have a Carel’s Cake!