‘Thömchen’ cake

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This is one of my favorite cakes ever. My mom has an old friend from some time she spend in Germany, and her nick name is Thomchen. This delicious hazelnut-chocolate loaf recipe come from her, so I have always known it as Thomchen-cake.

The cake is typically German in its use of hazelnut meal, which makes it wonderful rich and not overly sweet. You can use toasted or raw hazelnuts with equal success, the taste will be a little different, but I can’t say which is better.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g hazelnut meal (or hazelnuts) (3.5 oz)
  • 125 g butter (4.4 oz)
  • 200 g sugar (7 oz)
  • 3 eggs
  • 125 ml milk (0.5 cup)
  • 150 g flour (5.3 oz)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 100g chopped hazelnuts (3.5 oz)
  • 100g chopped dark chocolate (3.5 oz)

Method:

1. Grind the hazelnuts to meal, if needed. You can use a regular food processor for this.

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2. Chop the chocolate and the remaining hazelnuts coarsely.

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3. Grease 2 loaf tins and line with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 175 C/ 350 F.

4. Mix the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer, until light and fluffy.

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5. Add the eggs one at a time.

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6. Mix in the milk.

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7. Add the flour, hazelnut meal and baking powder and mix well.

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8. Add the chopped nuts and chocolate.

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9. Scrape the dough into the prepared tins and spread it out.

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10. Bake for about 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. You may have to cover the loafs with foil by the end if they get too dark.

11. Let cool for 5-10 min in the tin on a rack, then take out of the tins and place on a rack to cool completely.

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Rich, delicious without being super sweet – it is easy to eat more than one piece! I think this is a little different than many load style breads and cakes you get in the US.

Chocolate Marzipan Loaf

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Many years ago, my husband gave me The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Chocolate, and this loaf cake is one of the great recipes in the book. It is not too sweet and the marzipan gives it at wonderful flavor.

Ingredients: (original recipe in The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Chocolate)

  • 115 g unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 150 g light brown sugar (5.3 oz)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 150 g all-purpose flour (5.3 oz)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 130 g marzipan / almond paste (4.6 oz)
  • 100 ml chocolate chips ( 1/2 cup)

Method:

1. Grease a loaf tin and line bottom with parchment paper.

2. Preheat oven to 350 F/ 180 C.

3. Cut marzipan into small (1/2 inch / 1.5 cm ) cubes. 

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4. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer until creamy.

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5.Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.

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6. Add the flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa and mix.

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7. Fold in most of the chocolate chips and marzipan pieces, reserve about 2 tbsp of each.

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8. Scrape the batter into the loaf tin and smooth out.

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9. Sprinkle the reserved chocolate chips and marzipan pieces on top.

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10. Bake for about 45-50 minutes. The cake should be firm and the marzipan on top browned.

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11. Let cool in the tin for about 5 min, and them gently remove and continue cooling on a wire rack.

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Easy and yummy and a bit different. I recommend using a serrated knife or bread knife to cut it, as it is a bit crumbly.

Chocolate Cupcakes

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I know a lot of people love cupcakes, but I have other cakes that I enjoy more. However, sometimes, you just need a cupcake. Rich frosting, fun decorations and of course, if you’re me, lots of chocolate.

I found this recipe on JoyofBaking.com. I found lots of different cake recipes by doing a quick search, but not too many frosting, and to me the frosting is what sets a cupcake apart, and a bad frosting means a cupcake is just a cake with a heap of unappealing sugar on top. This recipe had a frosting included and it looked promising, and it was. The use of unsweetened chocolate really made very chocolaty rich without being too sweet.

I also went a got a small cake decorating set cake decorating set from Wilson, and I was glad I did. It made it really easy to decorate and make them look good, and I have been missing having some nice way to use ganache and similar for other cakes so they look prettier.

Ingredients, cake: (original recipe on JoyofBaking.com)

  • 50 g unsweetened cocoa powder (1/2 cup)
  • 240 ml boiling water (1 cup)
  • 175 g all purpose flour (1 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 113 g unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup / 1 stick)
  • 200 g sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients, frosting:

  • 120 g unsweetened (100% cocoa) chocolate (4 oz)
  • 150 g unsalted butter, softened (2/3 cup)
  • 160 powdered sugar (1 1/3 cup)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F/ 190° C and line a 12 muffin tin with cupcake liners.

2. Pour the boiling water over the cocoa powder and stir until smooth.

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3. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt.

4. Use an electric mixer to mix the butter and sugar until fluffy.

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5. Add the eggs one by one, mixing after each one.

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6. Add the vanilla extract

7. Mix in the flour, baking powder and salt mixture, taking care not to over mix. You can switch to hand mixing at this point.

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8. Add the cocoa mixture and stir until you have a smooth batter.

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9. Pour the batter into your prepared cups.

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10. Bake for about 16-20 minutes, until firm and springy on top, and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

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11. Cool on a wire rack. Do not frost until they are completely cool.

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12. To make the frosting, start by  chop and melt the chocolate. You can do this in a double boiler, or like I do in the microwave. If you use that method make sure to do short intervals and stir the chocolate as you go along.

13. Beat the butter until smooth with and electric mixer.

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14. Add the sugar and mix until very fluffy. Then beat in the vanilla extract.

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15. Mix in the melted chocolate on low speed.

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16. Now you can either use a knife or spoon to spread the frosting on the cupcakes, or use a piping set. If you are, choose a tip and fill a piping bag. I used Wilson 1M star tip.

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17. You can either decorate by making a top down ‘star’ or by swirling a round pattern, I prefer the latter. It was very easy to swirl it around the cake.

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18. Top with sprinkles, if desired. Sprinkles are fun!

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It was very easy to decorate the cakes with the piping tip, I was please with how they looked. The frosting was really great, even my husband who usually find cupcakes too sweet liked it. I think the cake itself could be more interesting, but I also did not use Dutch processed cocoa as the original recipe called for, maybe that would make the chocolate taste more powerful. However, there are lot of other cake recipes around, I might try this one next time.

Lagkage – Danish Layer Cake

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In Denmark you usually have a specific type of cake for your birthday, called simply ‘lagkage’ – layer cake. It is cake layers of an egg foam cake with fillings in between. The filling can be anything you like, really, usually it some combination of whipped cream, jam, fresh fruit or pastry cream.

It was recently my birthday, so of course I had to make one. I made a version with chocolate cake layers, chocolate whipped cream and apricot jam that my mom used to make. It is decorated with lots of chopped dark chocolate on top, and it is a rich and decadent chocolate cake, perfect since I love chocolate.

In Denmark you would rarely bake the cake layers themselves. They mostly just the vehicle for the fillings anyway, and you can buy vanilla or chocolate ones in almost any supermarket. Since I can’t get them here, I had to make my own, and found this very easy recipe on a Danish blog. I have been using it for years, and it really works well.The blog has some great pictures of the process, check it out even if you don’t read Danish.  The recipe makes about 4 layers, and usually you use 3 (since they come in packs of 3 when you buy). I made 1.5 portions and had 6 layers for 2 cakes.

Ingredients, cake layers (original recipe in Danish):

  • 6 eggs
  • 200 g sugar (7 oz)
  • 100 g all purpose flour (3.5 oz)
  • 40 g unsweetened cocoa powder (1.4 oz)
  • 2 tsp vanilla sugar or 1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients, filling:

  • 500 ml heavy whipping cream (1 pint + a little)
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • apricot jam, about 6 oz/ 180 g
  • 100 g dark chocolate (4 oz)
  • 1-2 tbsp rum or other liqueur (optional)

Method:

1. Use a plate to draw circles on parchment paper. I am using a lunch plate here. Draw 4 circles, or 3 bigger ones.

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2. Preheat the oven to 200 C / 390 F degrees.

3. Measure out the flour, cocoa  and vanilla sugar (if using) in a bowl.

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4. Put the sugar and the eggs in a big bowl, and start mixing with an electric mixer.

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5. Keep mixing until the mixture is light, almost white, and fluffy. You should be able to create a track with the mixer. It will take about 5-8 min for a regular portion, longer if you make a bigger one.

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6. Mix in the vanilla extract, if using that instead of the vanilla sugar.

7. Sift the cocoa, flour and vanilla sugar over the egg mass.

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8. Mix it very gently using a metal spoon. You want to be careful you don’t remove the air from the mixture.

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9. Spread the batter over you circle on the parchment paper. Again be careful to leave as much air in there as possible.

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10. Bake for about 7-15 min. They are a bit hard to see when they are done when made with cocoa. They will still be a little soft on the top when done, but should otherwise be firm. The bottoms can go dark careful, so keep hovering over your oven. The time is very dependent on you oven, I have found.

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11. Remove and let cool on wire racks. Do not remove from the parchment until you are using them.

12. You can store these for a day or so in a dry place. You can stack them on top of each other with the parchment between. The top of them will stick to the parchment, that is normal.

13. Make the chocolate whipped cream by adding sugar and cocoa to the heavy cream, and then whipping it.

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14. When you are ready to make you cake, place the first layer on your serving plate.

15. Sprinkle some rum over the cake.

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16. Cover the layer with jam.

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17. Spread chocolate whipped cream over the jam. Don’t worry if you mix some jam into the cream.

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18. Add another cake layer and repeat.

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19. Add the last cake layer and sprinkle with rum.

20. Spread whipped cream over the top (no jam) and down the sides.

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30. Chop the chocolate and add the chocolate pieces on top.

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31. Keep refrigerated until an hour before you eat it or so. It is best the same day, but after having been assembled for a few hours.

If you want to make vanilla layers, simply replace the cocoa powder with flour in equal weight, and 4 tsp vanilla. You can fill this cake with whatever you like, the apricot and chocolate is just one example. Plain whipped cream and strawberries is a great summer option, for instance.

Marble Loaf Cake

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There is something wonderful about a marble cake – though I prefer chocolate over vanilla cakes, there is a delightfulness over a the swirls of a marble cake.

I made this recently to have something for evening tea, and it is easy and delicious. The recipe contains yogurt, which is a great way to create a rich, moist cake. I adapted the recipe from JoyOfBaking.com, a great baking web site. I added a bit of cocoa powder to make the chocolate part more bitter, and turned down the sugar a little bit, I found the original recipe very sweet. I

Ingredients (original recipe) :

  • 4 oz dark chocolate (115 g)
  • 1/2 cup milk, divided (120 ml)
  • 1/2 cup butter  at room temperature (113 g)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (150 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour (195 g)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 plan yogurt (60 ml)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Method:

1. Grease a loaf tin and line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325 F/ 160 C.

2. Chop and melt the chocolate in half the milk. You can use the microwave carefully to do this, or a double boiler. Mix well.

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3. Mix the sugar and the butter with a electric mixer until fluffy.

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4. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well.

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5. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and mix well. Add to the egg, butter and sugar mixture.

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6. Mix the remaining milk, the yogurt and vanilla extract and add to the batter.

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7. Transfer half the batter to a separate bowl.

8. Mix one half of the batter with the chocolate and milk mixture, and the cocoa powder.

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9. Put spoonfuls of batter in the bottom of your tin, alternation between chocolate and vanilla.

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10. Repeat with a second layer putting chocolate on top of vanilla.

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11. Swirl a fork or wooden skewer through the cake. Don’t mix it, but swirl quite a bit to create a marble pattern.

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12. Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is firm.

13. Cool on a wire rack for 5 min in the tin, then turn the loaf out of the tin to cool completely.

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I  made two loafs by doubling everything, it is still very easy. I ended up with a bit more chocolate batter than vanilla batter, but I am not complaining. Unfortunately we ended up eating the prettiest marble pieces before I got a nice picture, though!

Chocolate Cake with Grandma’s Chocolate Frosting

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This chocolate cake is very basic chocolate cake, something that my mom used to make when I was a kid. It is not as soft as a sponge cake, and not as rich and gooey as a brownie, it is somewhere in between, and a very standard cake texture for Danish cakes.
My mom used to bake a whole pan filling the entire oven for cake fundraisers and similar when I was kid, she would decorate it with colored icing, usually a landscape with a rainbow. The rainbow pieces always got sold first :). Sometimes, she would use Grandma’s frosting, which is richer than icing, and not too sweet. I love it, and it reminds me of being a kid.

Cake Ingredients (recipe translated and adapted from God Mad Let at Lave, a basic Danish cookbook)

  • 200g sugar ( 7 oz)
  • 150g soft butter (about 1.5 stick) (if using unsalted butter, add a little salt with the flour)
  • 3 eggs
  • 50g melted chocolate
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar*
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 200g all purpose flour (7 oz)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • *Note: Vanilla sugar is often used in Danish recipes, it is powdered sugar with some vanilla seeds in. The sugar absorbs the flavor wonderfully. You can make this by scraping vanilla seeds into some icing sugar and keep in a patent jar, or you can simply substitute liquid vanilla essence about 1 to 1.

Method

1. Grease a cake pan (9×13 inches or a little smaller, 9×9 is probably too small) and preheat oven to 175 C.

1. For this one, an electric mixer gives the best result.  Mix the softened butter with the sugar until smooth.

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2. Add one egg at a time and mix after each.

3. Add the melted chocolate, and vanilla (if using). The add the instant coffee.

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4. Add the cocoa powder, baking powder, flour and orange zest.

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5. Scrape everything into you pan and spread in an even layer.

I used a 10x14 pan, and it was definitely too big, making them come out as bars more than cake

I used a 10×14 pan, and it was definitely too big, making them come out as bars more than cake

6. Bake for 45 min or so, less time for a bigger pan. When I toothpick inserted comes out clear it is done, start checking around 2-30 min mark in using a 9×13 pan.

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7. Let cool completely before frosting.

You can eat it without frosting too, use icing sugar frosting or any other kind of favorite frosting. Below is Grandma’s frosting, and you need about 2 portions for this cake.

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 4 tbsp melted butter (unsalted)*
  • 1- 1.5 tbsp pasteurized egg or egg substitute (or 1/2 egg)
  • *Note: The original recipe calls for 2 tbsp of melted butter, and 2 tbsp of melted solid coconut oil. I don’t see coconut oil in the stores here in the US, and besides it has very high level of saturated fat. It was used for frying a lot when I was little, but I am not even sure you can get it easily in Denmark today. Vegetable shortening might be a better substitute than butter if you keep it around.

Method:

1. Mix everything together, it should create a shiny, not too thin frosting.

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2. Spread on your cake and enjoy!

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Due to the eggs and dairy in this one, it doesn’t keep for that long, but as long as you are using pasteurized eggs I personally don’t think you need to keep the cake in the fridge.

Of course, growing up we just used eggs, and no one seemed to get bad even if we ate it a few days later.

The cake and frosting are both very easy and fast to make, and a sure crowd pleaser. It is easy to double and bring along to an event.

Banana Bread

banana bread-6I love banana bread, and I find it even better loaded with nuts and chocolate. I find the concept of ‘load breads’ a bit funny – after moving to the US I was surprised to see the various breads at Starbucks and other places. I would call all those loaf cakes, and this is definitely a sweet cake.

I have adapted some recipes to make it my way, and I think this is pretty good. I wish it had a little more banana flavor, but I think it might be hard without artificial banana flavor. My husband claims that the chocolate masks the banana flavor, but that it is an excellent chocolate-nut cake. You can definitely add less chocolate or nuts if you want.

It is best with very, very ripe bananas. If they are not as ripe as you like, you can nuke them a bit in the microwave to make them soft. I was thinking if I could find some other ways of enhancing the banana flavor (maybe bake them first?), maybe next time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (400 ml)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (160 ml)
  • 1/3 cup butter, soft (38 g)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 cup very ripe bananas, mashed. About 3 bananas. (200-450 m1)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (120 ml)
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (180 ml)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 250 F (180 C) , and grease a loaf tin. Mix together the sugar, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

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2. Mix in the eggs, mashed bananas and softened butter. Beat together, either with an electric mixer or by hand – if you do it by hand keep mixing until the butter is not lumpy.

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3. Add the nuts and chocolate chips and mix well.

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4. Pour the batter into your prepared tin, and bake for about min or until nice and brown. Let cool on a rack for a bit, them take out of the tin to cool completely. You can eat it while it is still a little warm, but the chocolate will be a bit messy.

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