Monday, 29 September 2014

Apple Pie - the Italian Version

Last week one of my neighbours invited the kids and I around for some apple pie. While my girls played with her daughter we enjoyed our cappuccino's with this delicious apple pie. I knew right away that I had to bake this and do it soon.

Lucky me, the opportunity presented itself yesterday when Heidi received her B diploma for swimming. Of course I already bought the apples last week at the weekly market in town... just in case you see.

We enjoyed a late afternoon celebratory slice of pie (although it is a bit like cake) and everyone was very happy indeed.

My neighbour found the recipe on (in Dutch), here is a copy of it in English:

150 gram butter
150 gram sugar
4 eggs
500 gram apples
150 gram self raising flour
the zest and juice of 1 lemon
dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Peel and core the apples, then cut into thin slices and cover with the lemon juice.
Melt the butter and let it cool slightly.
Place the sugar, salt, lemon zest and 4 eggs in a bowl and beat well, until mixed and frothy (for lack of a better word!).
Mix the butter into the apples and then add the flour and mix together.
Now add the sugar mixture to the apple mixture and mix well.

Grease and line a spring tin of about 28 ø cm and pour the batter into it.

Bake the apple pie for about 40 -50 minutes until cooked.
Switch off the oven and let it rest for another 5 minutes inside the oven.

Remove from the oven and cover with a sprinkling of icing sugar (which I chose not to do!).

Friday, 26 September 2014

Martha Stewart's Red Velvet Cupcakes

I was on a roll with baking a few weeks ago so who could blame me for baking cupcakes. Red velvet cupcakes... not once but twice I made them and both times I was very happy with the result.

Being a Martha Stewart recipe you would expect it to be easy to do and indeed it was. I was quite happy using the gel paste food colouring because you need to use a lot less than you might think to achieve that deep rich red colour. Delicious!

Here is  a link to the recipe and here is a copy:


2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon red gel-paste food color (I used 1.5 teaspoons of gel)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
Cream Cheese Frosting (I used the frosting from the red velvet cake I baked based on the delicious magazine recipe)


Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cake flour, cocoa, and salt.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in food color and vanilla.
Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and whisking well after each. Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam); add mixture to the batter, and mix on medium speed 10 seconds.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Kröller-Müller Museum

In the summer we went to the Kröller-Müller museum. The last time we went Heidi was still a baby and it seems like a life time ago. Luckily the museum did not disappoint. It really is lovely. We spent most of our time in the sculpture garden with the kids. We even had one of Heidi's friends along for the day.

They have white bicycles which you can use to cycle through the park but with three kids in tow we just didn't have the energy to add cycling to our activities that day. It is a beautiful national park so we took a little drive to show the kids a bit of nature after we had our fill of art (as if that is possible!).

Even though we have museum cards we still had to pay entrance to the park so it isn't a cheap day out... but definitely worth a visit every few years!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Selfie and such

My husband bought me a remote for my camera as a birthday gift. I love it. I've been playing with it this past week and took a few photos of myself.

I do love black and white.

I need some distraction from the problems we have. A lot of unexpected bills which we cannot pay, one in particular that arrived yesterday which totally blindsided us due to an error by the contractor who built the house.  All the plans we had for the garden will have to be cancelled and the holiday I was secretly hoping for in October will also not be happening. I tried baking something yesterday to make me feel better and for the first time in my life I managed to ruin a banana bread. Needless to say I did not take a photo.

But hey, nothing stays the same so this too shall pass. Maybe we win the lotto or maybe I find a job. At least we have some good weather right now!

Monday, 15 September 2014


One of the great things about our new neighbourhood is the activities hosted by the neighbourhood association. We've had several parties for the Word Cup Soccer, we've had a neighbourhood barbecue and on Saturday we had BINGO! They even had an afternoon session for the kids with lots of prizes.

Stella didn't find it all that interesting but the older kids loved playing and most of all they loved winning something from the prize table... Stella almost cried out Bingo a few times just so that she could win a prize but it wasn't her lucky day. Next time!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

You guessed it. I had spinach and I had mushrooms. So yes, a quiche was inevitable, right?

I searched the internet for recipes but didn't find anything I wanted to use so I just made it up as I went along. The result was delicious and the quiche was enough to serve two dinners (with a side salad) and one lunch which made me feel thrifty too!

Here's what happened. I made a pastry which is basically flour, butter and sesame seeds. While it was chilling in the fridge I sauteed a big bag of fresh spinach leaves with a bit of crushed garlic and olive oil. Once wilted I let it rest in a colander so that the excess fluid could drain away. The next step was cooking the mushrooms and letting it rest. Then I whisked three eggs and added 300 ml double cream which I just happend to have in the fridge (yay!). After I rolled out the pastry and draped it into my pie dish I pricked the pastry with a fork.  I decided to blind bake the pastry for about 15 minutes just to give it a head start.  Layer the spinach and the mushrooms on the pastry. Make sure you squeeze as much juice as possible out of the spinach before adding it to the quiche.

A sprinkling of grated cheese goes a long way. Lastly pour over the double cream and egg mixture (remember to season it with salt and pepper!). Place it in the oven for about 45 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Red Velvet Cake

I finally baked a red velvet cake! For my birthday, because it isn't every day you turn 40...
The cake turned out really well. I was happy and as such ate way too much of this cake. But it wasn't a very easy cake to bake. A few things didn't work out as I had hoped and I'm still not sure why my cake didn't rise as much as I expected. I probably should have looked for an easier recipe but regardless I will certainly find an excuse to bake this cake again.

The frosting is a winner, in fact my husband wants only this frosting for all future cakes. Let me not think about the calories involved. Let's not go there. The only thing you need to know is that this cake is fabulous. Enough said.

Here is a link to the recipe from delicious magazine and here is a copy:

200g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
235g plain flour, plus extra to dust
400g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large free-range eggs, separated
30g cornflour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
235ml buttermilk
60ml red food colouring (we like Silver Spoon)
1½ tsp white wine vinegar
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
For the frosting
300ml double cream
600g full-fat cream cheese (we like Philadelphia, see Tip)
500g mascarpone
300g icing sugar
White chocolate holly leaves and gold sugared almonds to decorate

1. To make the sponges, preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4, then grease, dust with flour and base-line 3 x 20cm loose-bottomed cake tins. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and caster sugar together with an electric hand whisk for 5 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
2. In a second large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornflour, baking powder and cocoa. In a third bowl, mix the buttermilk with the red food colouring. Sift a third of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then pour in a third of the buttermilk and mix together until just combined. Repeat this process with the remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk.
3. In a large, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form fairly firm peaks. Add to the cake mixture, a quarter at a time, folding gently with a large metal spoon until just incorporated.
4. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda until it bubbles. Gently fold into the cake mixture, then quickly pour into the tins and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the middle of each sponge comes out clean.
5. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. Cut each sponge in half horizontally to create 6 rounds.
6. To make the frosting, whip the cream in a large bowl until you have medium-firm peaks, then set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese, mascarpone and icing sugar together until stiff, then fold through the whipped cream.
7. To assemble the cake, put a sponge on a platter and spread with a layer of frosting. Top with a second sponge, then repeat until all 6 sponges are layered with frosting. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake, smoothing with a palette knife as you go. Finally, decorate the top with white chocolate holly leaves and gold sugared almonds. Chill the cake for a few hours before slicing; it will keep in the fridge for four days.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Een Zee van Staal

Last week as we were driving away from the beach at Wijk aan Zee we stumbled across a sculpture park next to a huge steel factory. It is aptly named 'een zee van staal' which translates to: an ocean of steel.

It was pretty incredible to be able to run around and even climb these huge steel sculptures. They are beautiful. The ominous weather even added to their beauty. Of course the irony of its location was not lost on me, but somehow they seem to fit perfectly in the landscape.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Banana Buttermilk Muffins

I found my new favourite banana muffin recipe!
It was on a blog called Alida's Kitchen and I love it and so do the kids.
The main reason I made them was because I had buttermilk in my fridge, two ripe bananas and half a cup of chocolate chips. Clearly a sign that I had to bake muffins. I just had to do it. And I cannot wait to bake them again!

Here is a link tot the recipe and here is a copy:

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 cup well-mashed ripe banana (I used 2 large bananas)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided (I used plain chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 180 C.
Spray 12 standard muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
In a separate bowl (or in a liquid measuring cup), whisk together buttermilk, banana, oil, egg and vanilla.
Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and fold until just blended. Add 1/4 cup chocolate chips, and fold until combined.
Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with remaining chocolate chips.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes and then move muffins to a wire rack to cool completely. completely.

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