Mini Mulled Wine Cakes Recipe

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A seasonal recipe I created inspired by Glühwein, or Mulled Wine as they say in English. If you try it out, let me know what you think!

(makes about 10 mini cakes – for a large cake multiply the sponge recipe by 3 to bake to layers of 24cm ø round tins and make double the amount of the cream)

Ingredients

Sponge: 50g dark chocolate, melted / 135g caster sugar / 65g butter, softened / 1 egg / 90g plain flour / ½ tsp baking powder / 15g cocoa powder / 1tsp ground cinnamon / ½ tsp ground clove / ½ tsp ground ginger / 140ml red wine

Raspberry & Red Wine Cream: 125ml red wine / 30g frozen raspberries / 25g caster sugar / 12g corn starch / 1 egg yolk / 50g butter, softened

Ganache: 200g dark chocolate / 100g butter

Decoration: a few spekuloos biscuits

Method:

Cream: Place the frozen raspberries in a small pan and pour ¾ of the red wine over them. In a small bowl mix together sugar, corn starch, egg yolk and the remaining red wine, using a fork. Bring the wine in the pan to a boil. Strain the wine and raspberry mix, pressing the raspberries through a sieve with a spoon or spatula, catching all the wine and juice in a bowl. Throw away the seeds left in the sieve. Pour the strained liquid back into the pan and heat until it starts to boil again. Now pour in the sugar-starch-egg mix. Lower the heat und stir with a whisk until the mixture has thickened. Pour into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to cool in the fridge for at least two hours, preferably over night. Beat the softened butter until very light and fluffy. Add the red wine and raspberry custard in thirds until fully combined.

Sponge: Beat the sugar and butter until light and creamy in a plastic bowl using an electric handheld mixer. Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Pour in the melted chocolate and beat until just combined. Mix the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon, clove and ginger and add a third of the mix to the batter. Beat on low spead until just combined. Now pour in half of the wine and beat until just combined. Add the second third of the flour, combine, add the remaining wine and combine and finish with the remaining flour. Grease 10 slots of silicon moulds for small cylindric cakes (cupcake size) with a little bit of butter or vegetable oil. Fill in the cake mix. Bake at 160°C (fan oven) for about 20-25 minutes. Leave to cool, then take the cakes out and place them on a wire cooling rack.

Filling: With a piping bag and a round nozzle pipe a flat disc of cream on top of the mini cakes using half of the cream. Leave to cool in the fridge for about an hour.

Ganache: Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl in the microwave on low heat. Mix well with a rubber spatula until fully combined. Take the cakes out of the fridge (still on a wire rack, place a piece of parchment paper underneath) and pour a bit of the chocolate ganache on top of the first mini cake. Using a small palette knife or butter knife spread the ganache carefully over the top and sides of the cake. Repeat this step with the remaining cakes. Leave to set (in the fridge or outside, depending how cold your house is).

Finish: Once the chocolate has set, pipe the remaining raspberry and red wine cream in dots around the border on top of the cakes. Place a few spekuloos biscuits in a freezer bag or clean kitchen towel and grind them with a rolling pin. Sprinkle the crumbs over the cream dots.

New Sweet Collaborations

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My list of what is great about Barcelona keeps growing. Today I'm adding „acccessibility and collaboration“. I find that in Barcelona it is a lot easier to get in touch with people and to find support, compared to London (I still love London for other reasons though). Friends set you up with great connections, food bloggers answer your questions, instagramers are happy to meet up. One of them is Nhaem (@nimbomans on Instagram), who wants to start an exchange of jam jars filled with desserts. To get inspired, to get people together. I've already contributed twice and I hope soon more people will join his project, it's a really nice idea.

Another collaboration that I have the pleasure to announce is one that I started with Delabuela, in the neighbourhood of Sant Antoni, C/ del Comte Borrell 8-14, where I hosted my last Cake Tasting. This week I baked my Vegan Spiced Apple Cake and my Chocolate Cake with Mango & Passionfruit Cream for the café and you can drop by, try them and let me know what you think!

The Cake Tasting continues...

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On the 12th of November I had the pleasure of hosting another cake tasting. This time at Delabuela in Sant Antoni. You can see more pictures here. Again it has been in a lot of work preparing the cakes but with the experience from the first tasting I was a lot more organised, relaxed and confident. I was able to fully enjoy the baking and decorating and it felt great. Now I'm going to think about how I will continue. 

It's mid November and even in Spain Christmas is starting to kick in although there's a very different vibe here. I'm not sure I'll ever get used to it, it's just very weird to hear Christmas songs playing inside the shops when outside the sun is shining every day. At least I will have some days of German Christmas over the holidays, with dark, rainy (hopefully snowy) days, when I can relax and prepare for new endeavours in the new year.

My first big mini cake order

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I'm so happy and proud of myself to have accomplished my first big mini cake order (48 cakes in total) that I need to document it with a blog post. It seems appropriate since this website is all about cake. What I loved especially about this order was that the two flavours that were chosen (Rose, Rasperry & White Chocolate and Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut & Rum) create a nice balance flavour wise and also work really well together visually. If you're interested in placing a mini cake order, please don't hesitate to contact me! I'll be happy to help you find cake balance, too.

 

My first Cake Tasting

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It's time to breathe some life into this blog again. The "problem" with Barcelona is, that once you hit spring time, there is so much to do and to discover that you don't feel like writing a blog anymore. Or maybe that's just me. I also had friends and family over to visit, always a big (but welcome) distraction. Although I actually had a blog post idea about cyclists' road rage which I can totally understand since I started using the city's bicing service. I can still write about that another time, the situation is probably not going to improve anytime soon.

Anyway, last week I had my first cake tasting event! It was a lot of work not only baking all the cakes but also organising the event itself. Luckily in this one year that I've lived here now I have made some really great friends who were there for me and who helped me out. I learned a lot from planning this event and the positive feedback I got from everyone has encouraged me to go ahead and plan the next cake tasting. If you're interested in attending the next event, please get in touch with me!

Spring is here!

The way I noticed spring had arrived was not because the sun came out because it never really left. However, it's getting stronger and so it gets warmer outside and people are coming out of their houses again. It feels like people know again what to do with their lives. There is more music on the streets (I say more because, like the sun, the music never leaves), I started having lunch on my balcony, my clothes dry faster, and I get rushes of complete happiness. It's unbelievable what vitamin D can do for you. But there's another sense coming to life again: smell. Everything smells of spring, I almost want to say of summer. In winter, Barcelona smells of nothing. Maybe of the occasional roasted chestnuts and sweet potatoes (and weed of course, another thing like the sun, and music, that never leaves this city), but apart from that nothing. Now, I smell the coffee and pastries people are having on the streets, the fried food from the open doors of the restaurants, the floor cleaners, the magazines at the newsstands, the sea. It's as if someone pressed pause after Christmas and resume at the beginning of March.

Cats of Montjuïc

It's actually a bit shameful that in the seven years that I lived in London I never really got involved with any charity. The UK is great with charities, they're everywhere and it's easy to join and help out. My contributions were limited to buying the occasional book or coat or dress at places like Oxfam or Cancer Research and donating my unwanted clothes. However, being surrounded by so many charities had it's effect in the end it seems. A friend told me about a group of people who take care of the street cats in a part of Montjuïc, and that they're always looking for people to help feed the cats. Living really close by I didn't have to think twice, this was my moment to finally do a selfless good deed. So now once a week I do the round, give food to the cats and check if they look happy and healthy. I get to enjoy the great weather, the exercise, the view of the city, the fresh air, and most of all the company of a bunch of really lovely cats. And I realise there is no selfless good deed, and if anything I think this charity is helping me.

Happy 2017!

Feliz Año! Bon Any! Happy New Year, or as a group of teenagers told me on the street, Happy New York! I guess because I'm blonde people in Spain will always assume I don't speak Spanish. This is what usually happens to me. This is what happens to my blonde Spanish friend as well. In restaurants more often than not he gets offered the English menu. I don't tan either (at least not yet), which could have been helpful. However some Catalan people have already asked me for directions. And I was able to help, although just in Spanish, not yet in Catalan. Hopefully I'll be able to change that this year. Yesterday I watched the film „Pa negre“ in Catalan with Spanish subtitles and wasn't as lost as I thought I'd be. That's a small success.

Other new year's resolutions include doing more of the things that I like and less of the things that I don't like. Which creates a conflict with another resolution I have, exercising more. However I'm moving closer to the Montjuic area this week where I always see people running and I got a beautiful yoga mat for Christmas so I have no excuses anymore. And exercising more means I can eat more, too, right?

Christmas in Barcelona

This is a weird one. Having grown up in Germany and having spent the last seven years in London, both places which are really big on Christmas and that start selling advent calendars in August (I'm not saying this is necessarily a good thing), Barcelona is very un-christmassy in comparison. I had been warned about this. However I didn't think I would notice it as much. Taking a walk by the beach in the sun is not what I'm used to around the time of the first advent, and made me realise things were gong to be a bit different for me this year. There are offical Christmas lights in the street here, though, and for the first time in my life I live on a street with official Christmas decoration. But that's as far as it goes. Ok, yes, there's a Christmas market but all they sell there is figurines for nativity scenes and these wooden logs with two legs, a Santa hat and a smiley face painted on, that you're supposed to hit as hard as you can, so that as many sweets and presents as possible tumble out of it (they use a much stronger word for „tumbling out“, which I'm not prepared to share on my blog). A Catalan tradition apparently. For me to feel the Christmas vibe, I need the smell of roasted almonds, greasy sausages and potato pancakes and mulled wine that will give you the headache of a life time the following day. I guess I'll just have to prepare my own mulled wine/headache. To go with the Lebkuchen, Spekulatius, marzipan covered in chocolate and other seasonal treats that my parents sent me from Germany. Why am I even complaining?

Banana Pancakes

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One of the things I miss about London is the single size for products at the supermarket. Mini bottle of milk, mini bag of spinach, love it. Here in Barcelona you always have to commit to the super saver family pack, which for me means I have to choose my shower gel carefully as I'll still be using it in a year's time. The same goes for milk. You can only buy 1l of fresh milk, so I just don't buy it at all. But how do I make pancakes when I crave them? I found these 2-ingredient-pancake recipes on pinterest which sound amazing. However, it was a complete fail, not sure whether it was the recipe's fault or mine. I couldn't flip them, they were so soft, and they tasted of omlette rather than pancakes. So for my second attempt, I left out one egg and I added ground almonds, flour and baking powder and once fried I finished it with peanut butter, chocolate buttons and cinnamon. Now I'm happy! And they actually taste like pancakes. You can trust me on this one, I wouldn't try to convince you that mousse au chocolat is so much better when made from chickpeas and coconut milk.

To make four small pancakes:

  • Ingredients: 1 medium sized banana, mashed / 1 egg, whisked with a fork / 2 heaped table spoons of ground almonds / 2 heaped table spoons of plain flour / 1/8 tsp of baking powder

  • Method: Bring mashed banana and egg together in a bowl using a whisk, add ground almonds, plain flour and baking powder, whisk everything together and fry in a pan with butter (or vegetable oil if you want to go lactose free)  

When I don't bake

It's been two months now since I moved here and I've managed to bake over seventeen new cakes already. Is this all I do? No, this is definitely edited reality. My cakes are simple and don't take long to prepare and I usually have the pictures taken in less then 10 minutes. I couldn't be a fashion blogger, staring shyly on the floor or at my handbag or standing in front of a door laughing at an imaginary person somewhere to my right. Shooting the perfect picture would take forever. So not being a fashion blogger frees me up to do all kinds of other things. Reading is one of them. I recommend all the libraries in Barcelona. You can enter for free and not just browse books, but also leaf through magazines. And if you decide to become a member you will get discounts at places like the Filomteca. Which brings me to a new hobby of mine, cinema. I don't have to apply for a mortgage anymore to see a film outside my home.

Working in the food industry, I obviously enjoy eating out. I'm not a restaurant blogger but there's a new pizza place in Sant Antoni that I would like to recommend, Mama Pizza. Great food, great service, no frills.

Then there's my Jazz Dance class at the Centre Civic. There are a lot of different classes at each centre, and they're really not expensive.

And finally, drawing. Mainly cats, though. I don't know how Picasso did it, but his misshapen portraits look so much better then mine. Maybe because he did it on purpose.

 

Becoming a citizen of Barcelona

Apart from taking care of all the formalities like the empadronamiento (registering for the census) and the infamous NIE number (to enable you to work, get a bank account etc., what does citizen of the European Union mean anyway?) there are other, much more important things that tell you you've finally arrived. I know I've just arrived but I've already had a few key moments that told me I'm in the right place.

For example crossing the Ramblas, seeing all the tourists and remembering that I used to be exactly just that not long ago and not having a clue that I'd call this place my home one day. It's an amazing feeling knowing I won't have to go back to a hotel but to my flat and that I won't have to say goodbye to the beach. I get the same sensation of happiness when I walk home at night, whether it's from work or after going out. It's the fact that I'm walking. Because it's still warm(-ish) outside and everything is so close, I love it. And I deserve it after many years of 1-2 hour rides on London's night buses (or deciding to stay at home, avoiding the bus ride).

I've also decorated my room. Well, I've put up my beloved collection of postcards which is as far as I go when it comes to decorating rooms.

And another key moment was my first class of Broadway Jazz Dance at my local Centre Civic. I'm in a room full of middle aged women and we're following the teacher's choreography to the „Priscilla-Queen of the desert“ soundtrack, all directions in Catalan. After one and a half hours I'm beat but I'm also really, really happy. I'm on their whatsapp group. I'm on the inside! And I can count: cinc, sis, set, vuit!

Different countries, different customs

One of the best things about living abroad is trying out the different kinds of food you can find, whether you go to the supermarket or a restaurant or a bakery. 

Ensaimadas are a personal highlight. I first encountered them on a holiday with my family in Mallorca and we kept calling it Ensemaida for a long time. Here in Barcelona I was guided to the Mistral bakery, which has Ensaimadas in different sizes and even filled with cooked custard. They're amazing!

I recently found out that Ensaimadas are made with lard. I'm not sure that's common knowledge. I eat meat so it doesn't bother me but if you had an Ensaimada shop in London (it could happen because that's what you do in London, you only sell one kind of product, but you researched it over months, travelled the world, discovered the origins, meditated in the mountains, met the guru and now you graciously share your findings in a cool and casual place near an up and coming street food market) you couldn't go without your vegetarian, vegan, gluten and dairy free take on it, maybe add a raw version as well. And here in Barcelona there's not even a little sign telling you that you're having pork in your custard sweet bun. I shouldn't be surprised though, because I already knew that if you order a "vegetal" sandwich it doesn't mean it's vegetarian, it's a warning that your tuna bocadillo will contain lettuce and tomato.

Learning Catalan

It might not be the best idea to start studying Catalan when my Spanish isn't perfect yet. However, I really enjoy learning new languages and I hear people speaking Catalan wherever I go and I don't want to miss out. So I started a free course on parla.cat and I got a level A1 book from the local library. It's the perfect book for me as it tells stories from a fictional café in Raval and it even has a fake menu which is great for learning food vocabulary. Strangely enough, in the drawings (yes, the book has drawings, because no matter how old you are, if you're a beginner you get drawings) the fictional café looks a lot like one of my favourite cafés here in Barcelona, El Colectivo, in Carrer del Pintor Fortuny. Coincidence?

Gràcia

I've been to the Cines Verdi a few times now and whenever I went I really enjoyed the walk there from the Metro stop and back but as I didn't want to be late for the films, I never took the time to slow down and look at everything. Yesterday evening it was still nice and sunny and warm and so I decided to just go for a walk around Gràcia. I didn't have to go far to make some great discoveries and the weren't even cake related. In a mostly second hand bookshop on Carrer de Verdi I found a cookbook in Catalan about Vegan French cuisine. It's not that I'm excited about vegan cooking but I just never would have thought a book like this ever existed. Later I found another second hand bookshop in Carrer del Montseny dedicated to English literature (and small shelves of other European languages as well) which is great because so far none of my Spanish friends have been able to recommend me a good book in their native language. So I'm still on the hunt for that. 

And at the end of my stroll I discovered a beautiful, little garden on Carrer d'Astúries hidden behind one of the organic shops. I only went inside because I thought they might sell nice notebooks (which they didn't but they did have some nice special edition novels amongst many other things). A small hut in the garden indicates that maybe they're serving coffee there during the day. I'll definitely come back again. Now all I hope is that this garden is not featured in every travel guide and blog already.

Eres para mí...

Another hot day in Barcelona. Well, for the Catalan people it's also their National Day today. So after watching three different castells (human towers) being built I decided to find shelter in the shade again. I'm slowly adding the missing recipes of my London Cakes, trying to do one a day. 

I'm also thinking about new recipes as I have stocked up on ingredients at one of my favourite shops in Barcelona. Imagine two really long shelves of almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios etc., chocolate in 1kg bags, nut pastes, dried fruit, different kinds of sugars...it's good! One of my teachers told me about it last year when I was doing a Spanish course here. I wanted to take the shop with me to London. It's probably the real reason why I moved to Barcelona. Check it out yourself, "Productos Parami" is just around the corner from the university on Carrer de la Diputació, 204. They're also selling turrón and their own cakes there, which I have yet to try. 

http://www.lavalenciana.com/parami

First steps in Barcelona

Barcelona has welcomed me with a record breaking heat wave and I appreciate the effort. I'm getting a good taste of what summer will be like here. However, after almost seven years of many grey days and only the odd sunny week in London, I'm not complaining.  (Don't worry London, I still really, really like you!)

The high temperatures haven't stopped me from trying out the "nostalgic" gas oven in my new flat. And I'm so happy it turned out well on my first trial! I'm very relieved because this means I can stay in this beautiful flat which I'm already quite attached to. I found a mini palette knife in the kitchen, this must be a sign for me to stay anyway!

For the first trial run with the gas oven I went with a safe choice, one of my favourite flavour combinations, chocolate, almond and orange. I've uploaded the result as my first "Barcelona Cake" including the recipe. The measurements for the ingredients aren't 100% exact as I have no scale yet and just used my eyes like my mum does when she makes her amazing marble cake. So you'll just have to trust me on this one.