Autumn in a Slice Coffee Cake

fall coffee cake

Here’s what happened: I posted this image, a slice of the coffee cake I made on Instagram and was about to leave it at that, but you guys kept asking for the recipe so I’m gonna share it here as well. And happily, too!

There is no story to this really, I just wanted to bake up something simple for us to enjoy over the weekend. November is showing its uglier face lately, it’s dark and wet and windy… switching the oven on and filling the house with the smell of cake seemed to be just the right thing to do.

What I love about coffee cakes is how simple yet versatile they are. The base ingredients in the batter are things I’m sure you have in your pantry right now. If you want to mix things up a bit, just add whatever suits your fancy: fruits, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, whatever. This time for me it was the very best of fall, namely carrots, apples and walnuts. Also featuring a seeded streusel topping, because why not.

The result is a crumbly and moist cake, crunchy on top. Not too sweet, subtly spiced. Reason to sit down and gab over a cup of coffee, even impressive enough on a pretty cake stand for entertaining (but easy enough that you’ll still have some pep in your step when the guests arrive).

Back to spices for a sec, is it just me, or do you also find it hard to practice self-control when it comes to cinnamon? I love it, I really do but wanted to let the other ingredients have their moment too – it took several batches to adjust the amount so it wouldn’t overpower everything else.

That said, you’ll find the instructions below to the cake I call Autumn in a Slice. Enjoy! Also feel free to tag me @fruzsi_farkas if you made it.

Autumn in a Slice Coffee Cake

  • Difficulty: easy
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Moist coffee cake with a crunchy streusel topping. Simple to make, featuring the best of fall ingredients.

Ingredients

For the streusel topping:

25 g old fashioned rolled oats

25 g pepitas (or hulled pumpkin seeds)

15 g sunflower seeds, hulled

20 g sugar

¼ tsp salt

75 g AP flour

50 g unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

For the cake:

200 g AP or whole wheat flour

100 g walnut meal

2 tsp baking powder

4 eggs

½ cup (125 ml) neutral vegetable oil

250 g brown sugar

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

180 g carrots, grated

180 g apples, grated

Directions

  1. Make the streusel topping: whizz the butter, salt, sugar and flour in a food processor until coarse and crumbly. Add oats and seeds, mix with a spoon to combine. If texture is too dry, add 1 tbsp of cold water. Set aside in the fridge.
  2. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F), line the bottom of a 24 cm (9”) spingform pan with parchment paper. If pan is not non-stick, grease sides as well.
  3. In a bowl, mix dry ingredients: flour, walnut, baking powder and salt to combine.
  4. In another bowl, whisk eggs with oil, sugar and cinnamon. Add carrots and apples, mix well to combine.
  5. Gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mix to just combine (do not overmix, some visible lumps are fine).
  6. Pour batter in prepared pan, crumble steusel evenly on top.
  7. Bake 10 min, lower the temp to 150°C (300°F) and bake an additional 30-40 min, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a wire rack 15 min, remove from pan and cool completely before serving. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Savory Walnut Cheddar Biscuits

walnut cheddar biscuits

I’d really appreciate if someone would finally explain to me the definitive difference between a scone and a biscuit because honestly, I don’t see one. Even the venerable New York Times says they’re basically the same, but if you know otherwise, enlighten me. Please and thank you.

For I can not consider myself an authority in this matter, I’m calling these flaky pastries biscuits only because they are round. I’ve posted a scone recipe before which very well could be a wedge-shaped biscuit for all I know… You see, we have no such problems here in Hungary. What you call a pogácsa – be it round, square, with egg, no egg, butter or lard, leavened or crumbly – is a pogácsa.

Anyway, cheese and walnuts. Again a combination from the savory side, I still have to make up my mind about sweet ones. There’s a nice balance in texture: slightly crispy outside, tender inside with the occasional crunch from the walnuts. Best served warm.

[Your informed speculation of a bottle of wine included somewhere is not entirely without grounds]

There is something about biscuits that make them perfect for everything. Right?!

It’s a quite forgiving pastry too. No kneading, no rising, in fact you want to handle the dough as little as possible. The ingredients can be swapped in and out depending on what you happen to have on hand: I used a blend of all-purpose and whole wheat flour, but plain AP would be just fine. Don’t have cheddar? Think edam, gouda, parmesan. For a slight tang, sub in sour cream, natural yogurt, buttermilk, or heavy cream for the milk. These biscuits are also a great way to use up any random herbs.

Savory Walnut Cheddar Biscuits

  • Difficulty: easy
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Flaky and aromatic. Eat fresh or freeze for up to 1 month. Yield: 18-20 biscuits.

Ingredients

250 g whole wheat flour

50 g AP flour

1 tsp salt

2 1/2 tsp baking poder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp rosemary, finely chopped

115 g walnuts, chopped

115 g grated cheddar

115 g unsalted butter

1 medium egg, beaten

1/4 cup whole milk

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, herbs and pepper.
  2. Working quickly, cut butter into dry ingredients until coarse crumbs form.
  3. Toss in cheese and nuts.
  4. Mix egg with milk and add to the flour mixture to moisten dough. If dough won’t come together, add a tablespoon or so more milk, but do not overwork it.
  5. Wrap dough in cling foil and refrigerate for an hour to stiffen.
  6. Preheat oven to 200°C (395°F). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and handling as little as possible, pat to about 2,5 cm (1”) thick. Using a 5 cm (2”) cookie cutter, cut out rounds. Pat scraps together to make more biscuits. Transfer to prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 15-20 min, until golden. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

And now you tell me: how do you like your biscuits?

Love,

Fruzsi

Maple Walnut Pudding Chômeurs to Help Embrace the Fact It’s October

maple pudding chomeurs

Warning: Monday rant ahead!

I mean, weren’t we suffering from a heat wave just yesterday? And it’s October now? (*Has mild nervous breakdown)

Anyway. The following recipe is adapted from The Bojon Gourmet. A seriously mouth-watering photo of Alanna’s pudding chômeurs popped up on my Pinterest feed a few weeks ago, and I instantly said je veux!

No, I actually did not say that. I don’t speak French. But I still wanted to try them really badly. 🙂 I also felt like writing a post on chômeurs, despite the fact this dessert has nothing to do with Hungarian cuisine. Sorry not sorry, and you won’t be either!

Maple syrup is not a pantry staple in Hungary. I also believe it’s safe for me to say that we, as a nation know very little, if anything at all about French Canadian cuisine.

Which is about to change with this one!

As I’ve learnt, these puddings were invented during the Great Depression when they were presumably used to bring comfort to the out-of-work Québécois (chômeur stands for unemployed in French). Once poor man’s food, these soft, spongy cakes on top of a silky sauce flavored with maple syrup, coffee, vanilla and brown butter are rather brilliant.

Best enjoyed warm, chômeurs are simple to put together and even reheat beautifully (not that ther’s even a chance of having leftovers).

Although the recipe called for it, I neither keep chestnut flour, nor rice flour at hand. I always have walnut meal though, so that’s what I used instead and it did not disappoint. (Sidenote: nut meals are ground with the skin on, while nut flours are made with blanched nuts)

I fine tuned the recipe a little bit further by throwing greenwalnut liqueur into the mix. Plus, I simply forgot to add the vegetable oil to the batter, which I do not regret as the cake turned out perfect without it, so I won’t even list it in the ingredients.

Should’ve seen our faces when we slipped the first bite into our mouths!

Maple Walnut Pudding Chômeurs

  • Difficulty: easy
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A French Canadian dessert for the approaching colder days. Yields 6.

Ingredients

For the sauce:

55 g unsalted butter

½ cup maple syrup

¼ cup freshly brewed espresso

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp greenwalnut liqueur (optional, use 1 tsp vanilla if you don’t have it)

For the cake batter:

½ cup AP flour

½ cup walnut meal

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp fine salt

2 large eggs

1/3 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup maple syrup

powdered sugar and whipped cream to serve

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 175 °C (350 °F). Place 6 ramekins on a baking sheet and grease them lightly.
  2. To make the sauce, place butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, swirling occasionally. When butter foams up, turns golden and smells nutty (3-5 min), remove from heat. Carefully pour in maple syrup, coffee, vanilla and greenwalnut liqueur (if using), transfer to a measuring pitcher and set aside.
  3. To make the batter, sift together flour and walnut meal with the salt and baking powder into a bowl. Make a well in the mixture and add the eggs, buttermilk and maple syrup. Whisk until well-combined.
  4. Scoop the batter into the ramekins, dividing evenly. After giving it a good stir, pour sauce over the batter, also dividing evenly (it will pour straight through the batter which is fine).
  5. Bake puddings until puffed and golden, about 20 min. Remove from oven and let cool a little before serving, sprinkled with powdered sugar and a dollop of whipped cream on the side. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

St. John’s Magic: Greenwalnut Liqueur

greenwalnut liqueur

Sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still): the two Latin words solstice derives from. Celebrating the summer solstice, or Midsummer, is originally a pagan feast; June 24th was designated later as the holiday of Christian martyr St. John the Baptist.

Some pagan rituals continue to live on in Europe – during the eve preceding St. John’s Nativity bonfires are lit to protect against evil spirits, for witches and demons are said to roam freely during the shortest night of the year. It’s also believed that treasures are waiting for the lucky finder, and I believe green walnuts are among the prizes.

In Roman times walnuts were worshipped as Jupiter’s plant, even the gods dining on them. This time of year they are in their unripe stage, still green and immature, kernels just starting to harden. Perfect for making a traditional aperitif popular throughout the Mediterranean: greenwalnut liqueur.

I’ve first encountered this aromatic drink at the Croatian seaside where it’s called orahovac. It is available commercially, but everyone has a cousin, an uncle or neighbour making it by the gallon, and Dalmatians being hospitable as they are, you simply can’t go home from a holiday without a plastic bottle filled with the murky liquid as farewell gift/souvenir.

Nocino in Italy, nocello when in Spain, liqueur de noix vertes in France are the names to look for. These are basically the same drink, although the spices added vary from region to region, from family to family.

Folklore has it that for the best greenwalnut liqueur, barefoot virgins are to gather an uneven number of dew-laden green walnuts, which should then be left to dry by the bonfires of St. John’s Eve. Riiight… I decided to go with the uneven figure thing from these criteria and hope for the best.

Actually, making rich and intense greenwalnut liqueur is not difficult at all, but does require some patience. When I say some, what I mean is you’re supposed to wait 40 days first, and even after that you shouldn’t drink your elixir before November as it needs to mature.

If you somehow managed to hide it forget about it until late autumn though, besides the spicy and warming taste, perks allegedly also include fending off evil spirits of the night, remedy for eczema and curing sore throat. Different strokes for different folks, right?

If all this magic, tradition and benefits are not reason enough for you to give greenwalnut liqueur a go, fine, but know that the aforementioned evil spirits will hunt you down. Just sayin’. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and set about doing it! Not just figuratively, as the walnuts stain everything they touch. It’s highly recommended to wear rubber gloves and an apron.

Greenwalnut Liqueur

  • Difficulty: easy
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Warm and spicy, ink-black liqueur infused with green walnuts from the Mediterranean.

Ingredients

25 green, soft, unripe walnuts

750 ml vodka (or other 40% alc/vol or 80-proof, neutral tasting alcoholic beverage)

1 ½ cups sugar

optional: cinnamon stick, cloves, allspice, vanilla pod, citrus peel, coffee beans

Directions

  1. Cut walnuts in half or quarters (wear an apron and gloves to avoid stains)
  2. Place sugar, walnuts and spices (if using) in a jar twice the capacity of the volume of the liquid, pour alcohol over ingredients.
  3. Close jar tightly, place on a sunny windowsill for 40 days. Gently shake every now and then to mix. Liquid will eventually turn from transparent to brownish, getting darker and darker over time.
  4. After 40 days, strain liqueur, bottle up and let mature until fall.

Salute! Salut! ¡Salud! Živjeli!

Love,

Fruzsi