The Cake

The cake

For many years now, this cake has accompanied every celebration in my family home. A sponge cake, one half made with ground walnuts, the other left plain, with a filling of rum, vanilla and lemon. It is only fit that it follows my third blogiversary. 🙂 I’m sure my mum would approve.

Sorry about the atrocious photos. They were taken with very little light coming from a very weak tungsten bulb, handheld.

Mum's torte

Mum’s Walnut

Cake

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SOURCE:  Mum, recipe adapted from the one she got off a family friend

PREPARATION TIME: about 1 h

COOKING TIME: about 30 min for the filling, and 1 h for baking

CUISINE: Croatian

SERVES: A crowd!

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INGREDIENTS:

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PLAIN SPONGE

6 medium eggs

6 tbsp of sugar, heaped

10 g vanilla sugar, or 1 tsp of good quality vanilla extract

6 tbsp plain flour, heaped

6.5 g baking powder

a pinch of bicarbonate soda

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WALNUT SPONGE:

6 medium eggs

6 tbsp of sugar, heaped

10 g vanilla sugar, or 1 tsp of good quality vanilla extract

7 tbsp finely ground walnuts, heaped

2 tbsp plain flour, heaped

6.5 g baking powder

a pinch of bicarbonate soda

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FILLING:

7 dl milk (full fat, or semi-skimmed)

3 tbsp corn flour, heaped

3 tbsp flour, heaped

250 g butter, at room temperature

300 g icing sugar

20 g vanilla sugar, or 2 tsp of good quality vanilla extract

Juice of 2 lemons

2 tbsp rum, or to taste

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TO DECORATE:

About 20 – 30 whole walnut halves

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METHOD:

Note: It’s a good idea to start with the filling, so it has time to cool while you prepare the sponge cake.

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I. FILLING

1. Stir in the corn flour and plain flour into the milk, until smooth, and with no lumps.

2. Put the milk to boil, stirring constantly, avoiding lumps to form. When it thickens, leave to cool. (It’s supposed to be fairly thick, barely leaving the spoon when you tap it.)

3. Meanwhile, beat the icing sugar, butter, vanilla and lemon with an electric whisk until smooth. Add rum to taste, and possibly more lemon if you like it more lemony.

4. Combine the butter and milk mixtures, and mix well together.

5. Leave to cool again. (Mum says this makes it easier to spread later on.)

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II. SPONGE

Note: both the walnut and the plain sponge are made in the same way. Ground walnuts are added at the same time as the flour.

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1. Preheat the oven to 180 C, and grease and flour a 25 cm tin, or two. Sift the flour and baking powder and bicarbonate soda together.

2. Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla into a mixing bowl, and beat with an electric whisk until the volume doubles in size, and when you lift the mixer out of the bowl, the egg mixture that drops from it traces a ribbon on its surface.

3. Add the flour to make the plain sponge, or flour and walnuts for the walnut sponge. Fold in with the mixer turned off, and then switch the mixer back on and mix briefly, until combined.

4. Pour the mixture in to the prepared baking tin, and bake until the cake is risen, and a toothpick or skewer inserted inside it come out clean. This should take about 20 – 30 min.

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Repeat the process to make the walnut sponge, using flour and walnuts in place of flour only.

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III. ASSEMBLING THE TORTE

1. When the sponge cakes have cooled, cut them both in half, and then spread the filling on top, alternating the the brown and yellow cakes. Decorate with the remaining walnut halves, and chill.

This cake gets better with keeping, and can ‘survive’ in the fridge for about 4 – 5 days, provided it’s not eaten before that!

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Notes:

Instead of walnuts, you could use almonds or hazelnuts, but we usually use walnuts. I think the original cake might have had 1 chocolate layer, 1 walnut, one hazelnut and one plain.

The cake

Photos updated 7 May 2014.

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More sweet Croatian recipes on this blog:

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Orahnjaca (Walnut roll)

Orahnjaca or orehnjaca (pronounced ‘orahnyacha’ and ‘orehnyacha’ respectively, and with an audible ‘h’ sound, like the ‘h’ in ‘hotel’) is roll with a yeasted dough and walnut filling. I used to think it was Croatian, but it looks like I was wrong, and the similar cake is popular all over Eastern Europe.

This is my mum’s recipe. Like a lot of good things, it takes a bit of time and attention, but it’s well worth it.

One word of warning though. We don’t really cook on a small scale here, and in this case, without thinking about dividing it into portions. The recipe below yields 2 large rolls (about 36 cm long, 7 cm tall, and 10 cm wide). When the cake is baked, it is cooled (barely!) and then eaten by the whole family throughout the day, or for a few days if you’re lucky and if everyone is not at home, until it runs out. It’s not really a dessert as such, though I wouldn’t stop you if you wanted to serve it as such. I’d just say it’s better after lunch, than dinner, if the dinner is your main, big, meal.  You could think of it more as a piece of cake to eat with your morning coffee, or during the day. But whatever you do, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

 

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Orahnjaca (Walnut roll)

 

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SOURCE:  Mum’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 2 h (includes 1.30 h resting time)

COOKING TIME: about 1 h

CUISINE: Croatian

SERVES: Loads!

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DOUGH:

400 g plain flour

7 g powdered yeast

80 g butter, melted

2 large eggs

80 g sugar

2 dl warm milk

1 lemon – zest only

a little salt

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GLAZING – optional

1 egg yolk, beaten

10 g vanilla sugar

some lemon juice

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FILLING:

300 g ground walnuts

70 g sugar

1 dl boiling hot milk

2 tbsp dark rum

20 g vanilla sugar

a little lemon juice

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METHOD:

I. DOUGH

  • Warm the sifted flour slightly in the oven (on low heat). Mix in the powdered yeast and salt, and then add all the other ingredients. Stir to combine and make a soft dough.
  • Set aside until doubled in size. Mum’s special tip: Place the bowl with the dough over a bowl of warm water. That should speed it up, and it will take about an hour.

II. FILLING

  • Put the ground walnuts into a bowl and pour the hot milk over. Add all the other ingredients, and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.

III. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

  • When the dough has risen, divide it in half, and then roll each piece to 6 mm thickness. Divide the now cool filling in two, and spread over the dough. Roll each piece, and place onto the baking tray, leaving a large gap between the two rolls (they spread when they bake).
  • Leave to rise for 30 min.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200 C, and butter and flour a large baking tray. Mum’s is 36 x 36 cm.
  • Before placing the rolls into the oven, you can glaze them with beaten egg yolk and lemon, and sprinkle with vanilla sugar, if you want. This is what mum does.
  • Bake the rolls for about 1 hour, or until done. Test with a skewer or a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Enjoy!

   

I’m submitting this to Ajme koliko nas je blogging event, hosted by Jasenka. The theme for the event is nuts.

 

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More sweet Croatian recipes on this blog:

  • Fritule (aromatic bite-sized dough balls, flavoured with lemon zest, orange zest, grape brandy (loza in Croatian) and/or dark rum, and sprinkled with icing sugar)

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Taste of Home: Some photos from Croatia

Until life moves into a slower gear and I have a chance to sit down and write some posts about my recent trip home, to Croatia, here are a few food photos.

 

Sweet taste of home:

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Orahnjaca

Orahnjaca – walnut roll

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Turkish coffee in the mountains

Freshly made Turkish coffee every day, even half-way up the mountain! (while visiting the national park Paklenica, on the Velebit mountain)

Kiflichi & coffee

Kiflichi & coffee

Mum’s Kiflichi (biscuits stuffed with jam) for breakfast, or with coffee during the day

Mum's torte

Mum’s walnut cake with lemon and rum filling that graces every family celebration (photographed in extremely bad light, at night! sorry!)

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Savoury taste of home: 

M's black risotto

Cuttlefish risotto. The first time my brother M cooked for me. 🙂

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Freshly picked wild asparagus (for making aspragus and prosciutto frittata and asparagus salad with eggs)

 

asparagus in the wild

Asparagus growing wild. You can see the brown edible shoots, and the prickly plant

Sarma

Sarma (sauerkraut leaves stuffed with beef and pork mince)

Brudet od sipa

Brudet od sipa s palentom – Cuttlefish stew with polenta

 

  

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More photos and recipes coming soon!

What would you like to see first?

 

 

Dalmatian fish soup OR Dalmatinska riblja juha (i riba leso)

Coast near Pag bridge, Dalmatia

We are a family of fish lovers. – No, we are a REGION of fish lovers! But who could blame us, with the sea like this? 😀 And yes, it is precisely the sea that miss most now that I live away from home, other than family and friends, of course. I miss long relaxing walks by the sea, its ever-changing beauty, and its amazing bounty. My family love fish; in fact, I don’t know a sea creature we don’t love, except for the fact that I’m not too keen on squid if it’s not in risotto, or brudet (a type of fish stew eaten with polenta), but that’s another story.  

Dalmatian fish soup

Right now I’m craving for a simple, comforting fish soup, the way we prepare it in Dalmatia. Here are some photos and the recipe. This is another one of those posts prepared during the summer, that didn’t make it into the blog earlier.

Enjoy!

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Dalmatian fish soup   OR    Dalmatinska riblja juha (i riba leso)

 

SOURCE: My Grandma and Mum’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 5 min

COOKING TIME: 30 – 40 min

CUISINE: Croatian

SERVES: 6

 

INGREDIENTS:

1.5 kg fish (we used mol, which is hake in English – Thanks, Tea!)

a little olive oil

salt

a few cloves of garlic, chopped

a bit of celery leaf

water as necessary

chopped parsley

1 large or 2 medium carrots, grated  (optional)

garlic

a few handfuls of rice

METHOD:

1. Cut the fish into portions, if you are using big fish. Add olive oil, salt, garlic, celery leaf and add enough water to cover the fish. Don’t add too much water, because it will weaken the flavour. Cover and boil until the fish is cooked. The fish is cooked when the meat becomes soft and white.

2. When the fish is cooked, take it out of the pot and reserve the stock. Leave a little bit of the liquid with the fish.

3. Add fresh chopped parsley, more garlic, carrot (optional) and rice to the stock, and cook until the rice is soft.

Dalmatian fish soup

Serve the fish soup as the first course, and the boiled fish as the second course. A simple side dish of boiled potatoes goes well with the fish, or some salad. My mum puts extra chopped garlic and olive oil on the table for people to help themselves to eat with the fish. We eat it like this: we take a piece of fish and put some of its liquid over it; then add a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle it with fresh garlic and sometimes parsley. I looove dipping bread into this!

Riba leso

fish soup collage

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This recipe is a part of the event Teach a Man to Fish – the Sustainable Seafood Event. Go to Leather District Gourmet for a truly fantastic round-up, containing lots of useful advice and brilliant fish recipes!

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Cuttlefish Risotto

I would normally happily eat pretty much anything, and there aren’t very many things that I don’t like. In fact, I can’t think of any, except for… squid! Brrrrr…  My brothers and my uncle fish for squid, and all my family adore it and eat it fairly frequently, depending on how successful their fishing trips are! However, I rather dislike both squid and cuttlefish; fried or grilled, baked in the oven or in peka (cast iron dish covered in burning wood, very popular in Croatia). There is something about the structure, and the taste that doesn’t appeal to me at all. Unless they’re prepared in a risotto or a brudet (fish stew eaten with polenta), when the rubbery chewiness of the flesh is softened into flavoursome meatiness that melts in the mouth. The risotto, also known as the black risotto, is one of my favourite! I bought some fresh cuttlefish at the fishmonger’s this week, and made it for my boyfriend and me. Here is the recipe. You can use either cuttlefish or squid. Enjoy!  

 

Cuttlefish Risotto or Black risotto

(Croatian: Crni rizot) 

Serves 2  

Ingredients 

 Vegetable oil

2 onions, chopped finely

1 medium to large carrot, grated

1 clove of garlic, chopped

500 g cuttlefish (cleaned weight), the ink reserved

Water

Tomato pure

A splash of white wine

a little chopped parsley

2 bay leaves

a small sprig of rosemary

150 g Arborio or some other risotto rice

salt, pepper  

Method 

Fry the onions for a little in some vegetable oil. Add grated carrots. Fry the carrot and onion mixture, stirring occasionally, until it becomes soft, and the onions become slightly browned. Halfway through, add garlic. Be patient, as this can take a while. Please don’t be tempted to do this quickly, as this is an important step. 

When the onions are done, add the chopped cuttlefish and fry it. When it’s done, add a little water and stir. This will further soften up the onions, so they are almost melted. When the water evaporates, and some more, and repeat the process until you get a mushy saucy mixture. Add the cuttlefish ink to colour the risotto black. Add a little of tomato pure and some more water to cover the cuttlefish. Cook until it becomes soft. Then, add the wine, rosemary and the bay leaf. Add rice and season to taste. Cook until the rice is soft, stirring occasionally. Add more water if necessary later on. 

Serve with a green leafy salad. In Dalmatia, we often use a very simple vinaigrette made with some red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a little salt to season the salads. The flavour of the risotto nicely contrasts with the vinegary flavour of the salad. Try using this simple vinaigrette with your choice of salad leaves. 

Enjoy!     

 

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