In Germany, we were fortunate to sample many, many rhubarb cakes (Rhabarberkuchen), most of them at the Kuchentheken, or Counters-with-Yummy-Cakes (my own translation), at Volksmarches we attended around the country. (Volksmarches are organized walks through woods, fields and towns in 5K, 10K and 20K loops for walkers, and 42K loops for bikers and marathoners. But I digress… ) At the Kuchentheken, you can get a generous slice of cake and strong cup of coffee for about 2 Euros — an incredible deal, and a welcome one after a long walk. At this time of year, when rhubarb is in high season, you can find at the Kuchentheken (and in the bakeries in town, to a lesser degree) an astounding varieties of homemade cakes, tortes and pies (but all called Kuchen) starring rhubarb. Of course, I tried any new variation we came across — there are rhubarb cakes with meringue toppings and ones with glazes, cakes with streusel and ones coated with nuts, cakes with custard filling and ones filled with sponge cake. German cakes, like many Japanese cakes, would be considered under-sweetened by American standards, but T and I prefer less-sweet sweets so these were perfect. Most of the rhubarb cake variations had no fruit other than rhubarb.
I learned to love the distinct flavor of naked rhubarb. I experimented with recipes for stews and even a savory bread pudding with rhubarb, but making a cake was never a priority because there were so many to try from all these accomplished home bakers during the season! But it’s been 4 years since we moved from Germany, and now that we’re again seeing lots of beautiful fresh rhubarb in the markets (something we didn’t see as much on Oahu), it’s reminded me that I can’t just look up the nearest Volksmarch to get my fix of homemade rhubarb cake/pie. I’ll finally have to make one myself.
Searching through dozens of recipes on German websites, I’ve narrowed it down to 4 recipes with different styles of “rhubarb cake” to try. This is the first because it was always my favorite — it has a yeasted “batter,” streusel topping, and naked fruit. In truth, it’s more bread than cake, but with a very airy and moist crumb reminiscent of Panettone, the Italian fruited bread-cake. Had a piece (okay, I had 2) after dinner last night, and there’s a slice with my name on it for my morning coffee today... mmmmmm....
RHABARBERKUCHEN MIT STREUSELN (Streusel Rhubarb Cake)
Adapted from DasKochRezept.de
For 6-8 servings
For the Dough:
4½ tsp. active dry yeast (or 35g fresh yeast)
(about 2 packets of dry yeast)
⅔ cup/ 160 ml lukewarm milk
5 cups/ 500g unbleached flour (used unbleached white whole wheat from King Arthur, which is why the bread is so dark)
6½ TBL/ 60g butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup/80g raw sugar (or ⅔ cup regular sugar)
⅓ cup/ 80ml milk
Grated peel from ½ lemon
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten together
1 tsp. sea salt
Dissolve yeast in warm milk with 1 TBL. of flour taken from the measured flour, and mix well. Set aside for 10 minutes to activate yeast.
Meanwhile, combine remaining flour, butter, sugar, milk, grated lemon peel, eggs, and salt. Once yeast is bubbling, add to dry ingredients with remaining milk and knead together to make a smooth dough. Cover and let rise until doubled — it took about an hour in my cool but humid kitchen. Meanwhile, prep the fruit and streusel.
For the Filling:
1lb./ 450g rhubarb
2 TBL. raw sugar
1 TBL. butter, cut into small dice
Wash, dry, and cut the rhubarb into 1” pieces. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle sugar over. Let rest until needed..
Preheat oven to 350F/ 180C.
Butter an 8” springform pan. Punch down the risen dough, and lay it out in the pan to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. (Confession: I could not locate my springform pan (although I know I’ve seen it since we moved in), so I used 2 non-traditional ceramic pans, one rectangular and one round. With exceedingly generous amounts of butter to coat the pans, the cake lifted out beautifully after cooling.)
For the Streusel:
½ cup/ 60g raw sugar (or ⅓ cup regular sugar)
¾ cup/ 75g unbleached flour
½ cup/ 40g old-fashioned oatmeal (this is my own addition, to add some crunch; the original recipe uses another ¼ cup flour instead)
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 TBL/ 60g butter, melted
Combine all ingredients for Streusel, and mix well until large crumbs form.
Dot cake dough with diced butter, then put rhubarb and any accumulated juices in the bowl over the dough. Top with streusel and let rest for 10 minutes. Place in pre-heated oven and bake for 35 minutes. If streusel starts to brown too quickly, cover with foil.
Remove from oven and let cool. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. A nice dollop of sweetened creme fraiche or drained yogurt would compliment this nicely.
And now for your musical entertainment while you enjoy your rhubarb delicacy...
(Nope, this isn’t John Cleese. You can find that song here.)
Mango season is in full swing in the Islands! We were gifted recently with a bag of home-picked beauties, and after having our fill of mango au naturel, the rest were peeled and put to good use. First up was a whole wheat mango bread using both fresh and dried mangoes. The fresh Hayden mangoes provide yummy mango deliciousness and moisture, while the dried mangoes add extra mango tanginess and texture.
DOUBLE MANGO WHOLE WHEAT QUICKBREAD
Enough for 2 loaves: 8-1/2 in. x 4-1/2 in. each (or 18 muffins or 1 bundt cake)
2-1/2 cups (325g) whole wheat flour
2 tsp bkg soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, room temp.
2 cups (350g) raw brown sugar
4 large mangoes, peeled and chopped (about half-pound or 225g)
4 large eggs
1 package (100g) dried mango, chopped
1 cup chopped nuts (115g) (optional)
Preheat oven 350F/180C. Grease and flour loaf pans.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until well combined. Beat in mango pulp, then eggs until completely mixed. Mixture may look curdled — don’t worry, that’s normal.
Stir in dried mango and nuts (if using). Lastly, add dry ingredients and stir just until blended — don’t overmix.
Immediately spread in prepared pans and bake 55-60 minutes, or until thin wooden skewer comes clean.
(For muffins, bake 22-25 minutes; Bundt pan, 60-70 minutes).
Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out to wire rack to cool completely.
The double mango bread recipe was translated (not well, mind you) into German too: Doppelmango Brot hier.
To see more about the 183 recipes that were submitted for World Bread Day 2007, visit Zorra's incredible Round-up here.
For the last month or so I've been thinking about a tea we tried last January when we took a quick trip to the Pacific Northwest to visit my brother's family. Wouldn't you know it, it was the coldest days they had had there in 30 years or something. The roads were icy, the wind bit through our wool coats, clouds hung practically on our heads, and only the bravest of souls were out. On a drive back to our hotel, we happened on a Tibetan restaurant, Lungta. Never having had Tibetan cuisine before, it was a no-brainer that we would stop and try it. The food was exquisite, with some of the most subtle and delicious seasoning I've ever encountered. But the true revelation was the unusual butter tea. On the menu it was called Bocha, and was described as "lightly buttered, salted & churned with milk." We asked our waitress about it and she gave us fair warning that most people don't like it on first taste, but that it was sort of the national drink in her country. She also said it was very “warming.” On such a day, it sounded like it might be a winner. (You have to figure that Tibetans know a little something about how to keep warm in bitter weather.) She soon produced large mugs of a milky tea with a trace of butter on the surface.
First sip: OK, that's different — I've never had salt in my tea before, and I rarely add milk to tea either. But the spread of heat down and through the chest was a welcome sensation, and certainly worth a second sip. By the third sip, we were both hooked and loving the “heatiness” it provided — it was more than just the physical sensation of drinking a warm beverage, it was a warmth that went down to your toes. Before we left we asked the proprietor about the Bocha, and what special type of tea she used. She was genuinely surprised we liked the tea, and was kind enough to bring out a brick of dark pungent leaves to show us. We asked if it was something we could find in a shop nearby, but she told us she didn't know of a source, and said that friends send her the tea. So that was that. Nice experience, recommended Tibetan cuisine to any one who cares about good food, and soon returned to Oahu.
Eight months later and I'm craving this butter tea. It's not exactly cold here, but lately after midnight the temperature has been dropping below ... 70°F/21°C!! I know folks on the Mainland and elsewhere will have little sympathy for us, but that's pretty cool temperatures for around here. : - )
I found a few recipes for butter tea on the web, but the most helpful was from the Tibetan Assn. of Northern California at Lobsang's Tibetan recipes. On this site it is called Po Cha and the recipe seems straightforward enough: you need black tea, salt, butter and full-cream milk. And a chandong, or churn for making tea. (If anyone knows where I can get one of these, please let me know!) The original Bocha is made with yak butter or milk, but we were a bit short on that so we went with unsalted butter from cow's milk.
I’m not much of a black tea drinker, except as iced tea, so in deciding on a tea to use I opted for the kind I used to send my tea-loving mother by the bags full — Lipton’s Yellow Label black tea. This was not available on Guam, so wherever we have lived, one of my first missions was always to seek out a new source of Yellow Label to keep mom supplied. These are available in Oriental shops, especially Chinese groceries, everywhere we have lived except here in Hawaii. Fortunately the Indian grocery carries 2 types of Yellow Label, the regular one, and another that is produced in India (shown here). But plain black tea just didn't smell as fragrant and earthy as I remembered the tea brick at Lungta being. One site I found mentioned using Pu-erh tea instead of black tea, so I used a mix of 1/3 Pu-erh and 2/3 Yellow Label.
First we made a double strength tea (2 heaping TBL black, and 1 heaping TBL pu-erh, simmered with 4 cups water and reduced to 2 cups liquid). Then added 1 TBL butter, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 cup half-and-half. And since I don't have a chandong (yet) and I'm a little leery of spinning hot liquids in closed containers at high speed, I opted to use a stick blender. This step emulsifies the butter into the tea.
Now what to nibble with this delicious heat-y tea? Seemed a good opportunity to try something from all those new recipes collected from the World Bread Day round-up. Something that wouldn't require turning on the full oven. In the end, we went with Hannah's vegetarian butterscotch bread, with the following adjustments. There was no vegetarian butterscotch pudding mix to be found at either of Oahu's 2 main health food shops so I turned to my over-stocked pantry to see what I had for substitutes. We had a powdered flan mix that comes with its own caramel sauce: the ingredient list had no gelatin so I hope it qualifies as vegetarian.
Soy milk disagrees with both of us, but we do use almond milk, and Hannah emailed to say it was an acceptable substitute for soy (Thanks, Hannah!). I only have olive oil for cooking and baking, so I substituted an equal amount for the canola in Hannah’s recipe. Also, I used less sugar because I wanted to use the liquid caramel flavoring from the flan mix for the extra flavoring. As much as I hated to, I omitted the chocolate chips ONLY because we’re making this to complement the butter tea and it didn’t seem like the chocolate would mesh well with the salty tea.
The tea was delicious and hit the right notes from our memory of that first taste of Bocha. It is a very rich and filling tea, thanks to the half and half and butter, of course. Not something you really want to drink on a regular basis unless you have a chance to work it off outdoors in a cold clime. It would make a great pre-ski or pre-Volkswanderung drink. I wouldn't recommend adding a sweetener to this beverage, and if you aren't used to drinking tea without a sweetener, you might literally find this tea hard to swallow. You may want to have sweet cake or cookie on the side to round out your experience.
The bread was a super moist loaf with a great chewy crust and delicious caramely butterscotchy flavor. T admits that he is not a big fan of vegetarian baking (he usually passes on treats at the health food bakery), but he was the first to say how pleasantly surprised he was by how flavorful, light and moist this quick bread is. The mild sweetness was a perfect counterpoint to the salty rich tea.
Here is the final recipe, with the original quantities/ingredients noted in parentheses.
(Original by Hannah, as adapted by manju)
1 cup/ 250ml almond milk (Soymilk)
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup/ 145g granulated brown sugar, aka “raw” sugar or demerara (1 cup/190g sugar)
1/4 cup/ 60 ml. olive oil (canola oil)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Caramel flavoring packet from flan mix
1 cup/ 100g all-purpose flour (1 ½ cup/ 150g)
1 cup/ 90g whole wheat pastry flour (½ cup/ 45g)
1 2.75 oz. package Goya flan mix (Dr. Oetker’s butterscotch pudding)
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
(optional) ½ cup chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven 350F/ 180C. Butter/oil loaf pan.
In large mixing bowl, add vinegar to almond milk and set aside to curdle.
In separate bowl, combine both flours, flan mix powder, baking soda and powder and salt, and sift well together.
Beat vinegar/milk mixture until frothy. Add sugar, oil, vanilla and caramel packet and beat again until sugar dissolves.
Slowly add dry ingredients to wet, mixing well after each incorporation. Pour into prepared pan and bake 35-50 minutes, depending on your pan, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool in pan 15 minutes, then on rack until completely cool. Use serrated knife to slice.
There are few things that call to mind Home and Love more readily than home-baked bread. Even people who don’t grow up with home-baked bread (like me) will feel emotional strings tugged when the aromas and textures of baking bread are evoked. Bread-making also invites Taoist mindfulness and a visceral connection to our food: the frothy wakening of yeast; the rhythmic meditative kneading; the long anticipation of the rises; the glorious aroma of baking bread filling the kitchen; and the simple happiness of having homemade bread in the house. So when I heard about World Bread Day, it was just the catalyst I needed to resolve to start baking again. I’ve dusted off my baker’s apron, scrounged around for the oven thermometer, pulled out my favorite fruit yeast bread recipe and bought some bread flour — so here we go!
When we moved to the hot and dry Leeward side of Oahu 2 years ago, we opted to forego air conditioning. Cool island tradewinds provide comfortable living temperatures 85% of the time, and we’ve learned work-arounds for the 15% when it’s either cloudy and humid, or scorching and windless. One thing we learned early on is: don’t use the oven unless you absolutely, positively HAVE TO. So far, we haven’t had to. T has become a master roaster with the outdoor propane grill, even roasting the Thanksgiving turkey to golden perfection last year. Our large capacity toaster oven does the bulk of the roasting for our small household, everything from whole chickens to loaf quick breads and brownies to roast potatoes and veg. The two things I haven’t made since we came to the Islands are bread and cookies because these both require the large capacity of a full-size oven for proper air circulation and distance from the heating elements.
First, the recipe. I’ve often made the Banana and Cardamom Bread from 1000 Classic Recipes — it produces a mildly sweet, fragrant and dense loaf with a lovely surprise of cardamom in the nose. Now that I have something I’ve never had in my life — access to fresh tree-ripe mangos — I want to substitute an equal amount of mango pulp for the bananas, and ground coriander for the cardamom and see what we get. I also want to add some dried mango because I know from all these years of oatmeal-making that the combination of fresh and dried fruit adds complexities in flavor notes. I think that will really be true in this case because 2 different mango varieties (dried Manila, and fresh Pirie) will be featured in this recipe. I’ll also take notes on measurement conversions for our friends who are metric.
Second, the timing. To do this and not live IN an oven for the rest of the day, I’ll have to plan to bake in the wee small hours of the morning. Which is OK, because I’m usually up early anyway. But to allow the dough a proper rise, I’ll have to start at least 3 hours before baking. Thank goodness for French Roast coffee.
Third, take advantage of having the oven on. My dad always says, if you’re going to turn on the oven, you better make full use of it. He’s right, of course. Pre-heating an oven consumes most of the energy spent in its use. So if we’re going to turn on the whole oven for a loaf of bread, then we’re going to make cookies too. I want to try using wolfberries in something other than oatmeal or soup, so I’ll make a batch of oatmeal cookie dough, using wolfberries and blueberries instead of raisins. These can bake while the bread is in its last hour of rising out of the fridge.
DAY OF BAKING
It’s six o’clock on a cool Oahu morning, I’m on my second mug of French Roast and the dough is in the oven. I’m a little surprised how easily it all came back — the mixing, the kneading rhythm, checking the “proof,” even the clean-up.
When the dough first came together in the bowl, it was pretty wet and sticky, but I loved its deep orange color. I heavily dusted my work space with flour, dumped out the dough, then sprinkled it with lots more flour and floured my hands before starting to knead. Once the kneading started, it was very easy to fall into a meditative mode. Watching the dough start to come together and take form as something so much more than just the sum of it parts; to see the flour proteins stretch and gather, stretch and gather; it was al kind of mesmerizing. I had set a timer for 10 minutes and was startled when it went off. I was happy to see the lovely color was retained and evenly distributed through the dough.
Looking at my pictures, I didn’t do a very good job of the final shaping of the dough before placing it in the loaf pan and tying it off. If the ballooned plastic bag thing looks too complicated, use your own favorite method for covering your dough while it’s rising.
The biggest stickler I encountered was with my oven. Since I’ve never used it, I’m not at all familiar with its heating properties, and I found out after the first batch of goji-blueberry oatmeal cookies came out that it tends to run cool (the oven thermometer said it was running a hefty 30 degrees cooler than the stated temperature — that’s a lot!). Luckily, there was still time to get the heat up to the right internal temp before the bread was done proofing.
After a 2-hour rise, the dough was ready for the oven. I was so excited that I forgot to add the glaze (I’m a little out of practice). That’s OK, I have a work-around for that. When the aroma first hits you, it’s the simple earthy smell of baking yeast bread — the fruit doesn’t develop until it’s actually out of the oven. (Fresh unsalted butter over the top of the hot loaf provides some shine and helps to soften the crust a bit.)
Now the hardest part of the whole operation: waiting for the bread to cool before slicing. You can try slicing it while it’s still warm, but I tend to smoosh the bread and then am left with an unattractive, if still delicious, loaf for the rest of its days (or hours). I think I may try this recipe again as rolls so I can eat it hot and not have to worry about the slicing thing.
We loved it. It was the chewy, dense, mildly sweet and very fruity bread we were expecting. The mango flavors are great, but we started with tree-ripened Pirie mangos, so it’s hard to go wrong on that note. Whatever your mangos smell like when you’re adding them to the dough, that’s what flavors and smells you’ll get in your loaf. The dried Manila mangos added intense flavors that were very distinct from the Pirie flavors. I think if you can get fresh Manila (they were called "champagne mangos" in the Mainland) mangos and can bear not eating them straight out of your fist, then the fresh and dried Manila mango will really make this bread sing. One disappointment was that no coriander came through at all, so I would up the amount to a full teaspoon next time.
A word to the wise, while this IS a fruit bread, it isn’t a soft, fluffy, sweet bread, the way a cinnamon-raisin bread might be. You can see the recipe calls for only 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar. In the original recipe, the bananas (especially overripe bananas which is what I would normally use) provided a lot of sweetness and the 2 TBL were just enough to give the bread a boost. I liked the delicious mango flavor that carried through in this loaf, but I would adjust the recipe to add 2 more Tablespoons of brown sugar to make it more like the original banana recipe. This is still not enough to make it a “sweet bread” just closer to the original.
Also, this is a chewy loaf, provided by the heavier bread flour. We had thick slabs of bread with a bit of unsalted butter with breakfast, and it was onolicious. It’s also a great toasting bread, and makes a novel grilled cheese (try mozzarella or provolone) or grilled peanut butter sandwich.
I’d like to try this recipe again using plain flour (instead of bread flour) to get a lighter, airier loaf. If anyone does it before I do, I’d love to get your feedback on how it comes out. Until then, Happy World Bread Day, Everyone! To see more wonderful bread recipes celebrating World Bread Day, visit our host, kochtopf.
Lavaterra made this bread too, and I liked how hers had lots more dried mango pieces, so I would recommend the maximum amount of dried mango, even up to double this amount *)
Double Mango Bread
Mis en place
In small bowl, mix together:
1 packet dry yeast
2/3 cup (150 ml) lukewarm water
1 Tbl. (15g) brown sugar
Dissolve yeast completely and leave for 5 minutes.
3 1/2 cups (500g) bread flour
1 tsp. (5g) sea salt
½ - 1 tsp. (3-6g) ground coriander
1 - 3 Tbl. (15-45g) brown sugar (depends on sweetness of mango, see notes bove)
Place in large bowl and make well in center. Once yeast is foaming, add to center of flour, and mix well.
Fruit from 2-3 mangos (about 1/2 cup or 150g)
¼-½ cup (70g - 140g) chopped dried mango * (1/2-3/4 cup [140g-210g] dried mango)
and mix again.
Flour your work surface and turn dough out. Knead for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. If dough is too sticky, sparingly sprinkle additional flour over dough, one tablespoonful at a time, incorporating well after each addition.
Shape dough and turn into loaf pan. Place in a clean plastic bag, “balloon” bag to trap air and tie off. Leave in a warm place until double in size.
Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
2 Tbl. (30ml) milk
1 tsp water
Remove pan from bag. With pastry brush, gently glaze top of dough.
Bake for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 400°F (200°C). Bake another 15 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely before slicing.
See also Mango-Stuffed French Bread and
Double Mango Wholewheat Quickbread
Doppelmango Brot: Das Rezept auf Deutsch? (With apologies to native German speakers, this translation was an exercise for me to practice reading and writing German)