Most Delicate Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Glaze, Rose Petals and Walnuts

I am very adamant about cakes that are too dry or too hard, so I absolute adore this recipe. The cupcakes are feather light, delicate and very moist inside. They also come out with flat tops, which makes them perfect for decorating. As it happens, no one in my family likes buttercream, so I always glaze them, or dust them and I love such neat, elegant finish.

Approximately 12 servings • Preparation time: about 30 minutes • Baking time: 20 minutes

Tips:

01
The better you cream your ingredients, the more delicate the result. Butter and eggs need to beaten as well as possible, so take your time until they are smooth, visibly fluffy and almost white in colour.

02
Be very careful when you glaze your cupcakes. Sugar gets extremely hot and sticks to your fingers, so any encounter with skin is highly unpleasant.

03
Do not worry that if cupcakes change their height quite a lot during baking. It is perfectly normal. They will rise significantly at first, but then reduce to flat tops at the end.

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
185 g unsalted butter (room temperature or softened but not melted in oven or microwave)
 235 g sugar
185 g all-purpose flour
125 ml milk
100 g baking chocolate
2 medium to large eggs
1 tablespoon cacao
 2 teaspoons baking powder
powder sugar (optional, to decorate)
dry rose petals (optional, to decorate)
 crushed nuts of your choice (optional, to decorate)

Lemon glaze:
½ lemon (squeezed)
 1 cup powder sugar

Method:

01
Melt the chocolate using this tip. Set aside to cool down.

02
Meanwhile, beat the butter with sugar as well as you can. It needs to be very fluffy and white.

03
Separately, beat the eggs. Again, make sure they are fluffy and almost white. It is important for lightness of you cupcakes later.

04
Now, come back to the creamed butter. Add melted, cooled chocolate and blend together with a mixer using slower speed. After that, add the beaten eggs and gently blend as well.

05
Sift the flour, cacao and baking powder into the batter. Gently mix with a blender on a slow setting.

06
At the end, add milk and blend gently on a slow setting.

07
Use silicone moulds or a cupcake tray prepared with paper liners. Fill out the forms at about ¾, leaving a bit of space for the cupcakes to rise. Bake at 180ºC for about 20 minutes. Cool down thoroughly before decorating.

08
In a small saucer, mix the lemon juice and powder sugar, and heat up continuously mixing. Take off the heat and mix for a while longer.

09
When your glaze starts cooling down and thickening, take your cold cupcakes, turn upside and gently dip in the glaze until the top is completely covered. Be careful not to hold the cupcake in hot glaze too long. You do not want the cupcake top to stick to the glaze too much and tear off the cupcake. Finish dipping with a little twist and lift. Add your dry toppings to the hot glaze and set aside to cool thoroughly.

Enjoy!

Delicious Apple Pie with Banana and Cardamom

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Name and pronunciation: szarlotka [shar-lot-kah]
Description: apple pie
Type of cuisine: Eastern European

It is a delicious twist on my Traditional Polish Apple Pie. Adding bananas instead of upping the sugar is a great solution when your apples are not very sweet. Cardamom is amazing and flavourful, especially combined with cinnamon. Together, so good and easy to make!

10 servings • Preparation time: about 2 hours • Baking time: 50-60 minutes

Tips:

01
If your over tends to underperform at the bottom (like mine), pre-bake the bottom crust for about 10-15 minutes.

02
When you start, make sure butter is cold and very hard.

03
Used what you have in your kitchen to create an original look for your pie. Here, I used a pizza cutter to cut pastry strips and my son’s playdough star cutter, since my cookie cutters were too big.

04
Serve it with our thick, creamy caramel sauce. Amazing!

Ingredients:

Pastry:
300 g all-purpose flour
250 g butter
1 medium to large egg
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
 1½ teaspoons baking powder
powder sugar (or a mix of sugar and cinnamon) to dust

Fruit filling:
1 kg apples
 2 bananas
2 tablespoons sugar (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon cardamom (or more to taste)

Method:

01
Make traditional Polish apple pie pastry following these instructions and place it wrapped in a fridge.

02
Peel, cut and cook apples the same way as in the traditional recipe.

03
When the apples are soft, mash them, then add two mashed bananas, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom. You can start from a teaspoon of each, but I actually like much more spices in my apple pie. They make fruit (especially apples) so fragrant and delicious.

04
Cool the apples throughly before layering them on the pre-baked bottom. It is an important step, since it will take you a little longer to place ornamental top and you do not want the heat from apples to melt butter in your apple pie pastry.

05
For the decorative top, roll out remaining half of cold pastry and cut any shapes you want. Gently lift them off the workspace with a wide, cold knife or, even better, a dough cutter. Place on cooled apples and bake the same as here.

Enjoy!

Luscious Thick Cacao Caramel Sauce

This sauce is more than just caramel. It is so perfectly thick, silky smooth, milky with a hint of cacao. I based it on traditional Polish chewy fudge candy called “krówki” (little cows). Perfect for any cake or pie, but apple pie especially, since apples and caramel go together so deliciously.

Tips:

01
Seriously, do not stop stirring the sauce even for a second. You will be rewarded for all your hard work by the most perfect caramel sauce you have ever tasted!

Ingredients:

250 ml condensed milk
 200 g honey
150 unsalted butter
1½ cup sugar
2 tablespoon cacao

Method:

01
Mix sugar with sifted cacao with a whisk. It will prevent big lumps of cacao forming in your sauce.

02
Mix all ingredients in a saucepan, preferably with a solid, thick bottom. You can opt for a non-stick pot, too.

03
Set high heat first and keep stirring the mix until all is combined and first bubbles appear.

04
Reduce the heat slightly and keep stirring constantly until all sugar caramelises and the sauce is thick and dark.

05
Take off heat and cool down. When it is cool enough, place the pan in the fridge. The sauce will loosen in room temperature, so it best to take it out at least 10 minutes before serving it.

Enjoy!

Classic Marble Babka


NAME AND PRONUNCIATION: babka [bah-b-kah]
DESCRIPTION: marble cake
TYPE OF CUISINE: Eastern European

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In Poland, we usually bake babka for Easter, but it is so quick, easy to prepare and everyone loves it, so it is great for any party or just as a weekend’s treat. There are many different recipes for babka, but I really like this one, since the cake is nice and moist inside, and stays fresh for good few days.


Depending on your form, about 12-16 servings • Preparation time: about 90 minutes • Baking time: about 60 minutes


INGREDIENTS:


250 g all-purpose flour
220 g sugar
150 g unsalted butter
5 eggs
 5 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon potato flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla powder

METHOD:


01
Melt the butter in a saucepan.

02
Sift both flours together with the baking powder to make sure they are thoroughly mixed.

03
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are shiny, silky smooth, and almost white.

04
Once the eggs are ready, add the oil and butter. It is best to keep mixing while slowly trickling the butter in. This way the butter will get mixed into the eggs immediately and not sink to the bottom of your bowl.

05
Split the eggs into two equal parts to make them into two different flavours. You will also need to split the flour. Now, add vanilla powder and a half of the flour to one of the bowls with beaten. Blend until all ingredients are perfectly mixed. This is will be your vanilla batter.

06
Then, take out two tablespoons from the other half of the flour and replace them with two tablespoons of cocoa. Mix the cocoa into the flour with a whisk, before adding them to the second bowl with beaten eggs. Blend until perfectly combined. This way your chocolate batter is ready as well.

07
Grease the form with oil and get the oven hot to about 180ºC. Pour both flavours of batter into the form in patches alternating the flavours. After you have finished, take something thin and long, such as a chopstick or a kitting needle, and gently drag it around the form. Do not mix the batters, just stir them a little for a nice marble effect.

08
The way of baking a babka is very important. It needs to raise equally on all sides and not burn. Start from about 180ºC for about 30 minutes, then bake for another half an hours at about 160ºC. Check on your cake from time to time during baking (through the glass, opening the oven will lower the temperature) and if you notice it is rising more on one of the sides, you can turn the form and reduce the temperature a little. It may crack a bit, do not worry about it. Getting it absolutely perfect may take one or two goes, since it differs from one oven to another.

09
Babka needs to have a nice, golden crust. When you see it, take it out and check the inside. In order to do that, use a thin, metal probe, such as a knitting needle, and pierce the cake all the way through. Any liquid batter will stick to the needle and make it dirty. It is a sign your babka is not ready yet. Bake it until the probe is perfectly clean.

10
When ready, take it out of the oven and cool before flipping onto a plate and gently removing the form. Dust with powder sugar, or finish with caramel or lemon glaze.

Enjoy!


Pierogi Dough and Making Technique

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Name and pronunciation: pierogi [pee-yeh-roh-ghi] – there is no need for the “s” at the end so often used in English. “Pierogi” is already a plural form.
Description: dumplings
Type of cuisine: Eastern European

It is a very basic recipe, but it works every time. I like this dough for its elasticity. It makes making pierogi easier, it does not tear and they do not stick to each other during cooking.

Approximately 40 servings • Preparation time: about 15 minutes • Resting time: 30 minutes (optional) • Cooking time: 1-2 minutes

Tips:

01
Perfect pierogi need a specific filling to dough ratio. This means the dough cannot be too thick. Make sure you roll the dough enough and if it is still too thick, stretch it out a little in your hands before adding the filling.

02
Do not forget to add oil to water, it will prevent pierogi from sticking to each other. In fact, when you are placing them in water, try aiming at oil patches.

03
Pierogi can be eaten straight after cooking or fried. In my family, we always fry them and this is how I prefer them, but with freshly cooked pierogi you have a choice. After cooling them down, or freezing them, you will need to fry them until brown and crispy.

04
Fry them in olive oil on small heat, so they have time to get hot inside. If the heat is too high they will brown nicely on the outside, but the filling will remain cold.

Ingredients:

300 g all-purpose flour
 125 ml boiling water
20 g butter
1 egg
pinch of salt

Method:

01
Melt the butter in boiling water and add it to the flour and salt. Mix briefly, then add the egg.

02
Mix everything thoroughly and knead for at least 5 minutes, until the dough is perfectly smooth and springy.

03
Cover with beeswax wraps and set aside for about 30 minutes.

04
Take the dough out of the fridge and split it in 4 equal parts. Lightly dust the worktop with flour and roll the dough until it is about 2-3 mm thick.

05
Using a round cutter or a glass, cut circles in the dough.

06
Take a circle and stretch it a little bit in your hands. Be careful not to get flour on inner edges, since they need to stick to each other. The outer side can be dusted with flour, so they don’t stick to the surface, while they are waiting to be cooked.

Our_Eastern_Kitchen_Pierogi002

07
Put about a teaspoon of filling in the middle.

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08
Fold in half and press the filling a little to shape your pieróg.

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09
Squeeze the edges together, so they stick to each other.

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10
To make the edges look nicer and make them more secure, pinch the dough around.

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11
Set aside your fresh pierogi on flour dusted tray or plate. You can cover them with a tea towel to prevent them from drying.

12
Boil at least 3 litres of water in a large pot, add about 2 tablespoons of oil and a pinch or two of water. Gently, one by one, put about 15 pierogi to cook. Once they float, cook for about 2 minutes and gently take them out with a draining spoon.

13
Eat directly, or set aside to cool.

Enjoy!

Polish Onion Bread

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Name and pronunciation: cebularze [tzeh-boo-lah-zhuh; “zhuh” is pronounced like French “je”]
Description: onion bread
Type of cuisine: 
Polish

This onion bread is an integral part of my region’s cuisine, so I was very surprised when I learnt that only people from my area knew about it. In recent years, it got more and more popular in other parts of Poland and all my friends absolutely love it!

8 servings • Preparation time: about 30 minutes • Resting time: 60 + 30 minutes • Baking time: 40-50 minutes

Tips:

01
You can prepare the onions the night before and leave them in a fridge overnight. They get very aromatic and flavourful this way.

02
Be careful not to leave them in the oven for too long. The dough needs to be soft and, since it is quite thin, it becomes crispy rather quickly.

03
Read my tip for rising perfect dough.

Ingredients:

Onion topping:
 3 large onions
 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
 2 tablespoon olive oil
 1 teaspoon salt

Dough:
500 g all-purpose flour
 250 ml (approx. 1 glass) warm milk
 7 g dry yeast (one little packet)
 60 g unsalted butter
 1 egg
 1 tablespoon sugar
 1 tablespoon salt

Method:

01 
Chop onions into small cubes and fry them with a little bit of oil on low temperature until it is soft. Then add poppy seed and salt and leave to cool down.

02 
Mix flour with yeast, sugar and salt. Melt butter in milk on very low heat (without letting it get too hot) and pour the liquid over the flour mix. Gently whisk the egg and add to the rest of ingredients, leaving a little bit as egg wash for edges.

03
Mix and then knead for at least 10 minutes, until the dough is perfectly smooth and light. Leave to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 60 minutes. After the dough has risen (best if it doubles in size), split it into 16 parts, shape each part into a ball and flatten on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, leaving some rising space between them.

04
Put a portion of onions you have prepared earlier on each bun and leave for another 30 minutes to rise. Generously brush with egg wash around edges and bake for about 20-25 minutes in 185ºC until nice and golden.

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Enjoy!

This recipe was featured in Luxembourg City Magazine, November 2015 (page 28).

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Photos: Sven Becker for CityMag, November 2015

Traditional Polish Apple Pie

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Name and pronunciation: szarlotka [shar-lot-kah]
Description: apple pie

Type of cuisine: Eastern European

This traditional apple pie is utterly delicious, so easy to make and you probably have everything you need for it! A perfect dessert with minimal effort.

8 servings • Preparation time: about 2 hours • Baking time: 50-60 minutes

Tips:

01
If your oven tends to underperform at the bottom (like mine), pre-bake the bottom crust for about 10-15 minutes.

02
Feel free to mix other fruit with your apples. Try to add some pears or peaches for enhanced flavour.

03
Add some cocoa to the pastry to make a chocolate version of your apple pie! Simply add some unsweetened cocoa powder to the pastry. You can either add it to all of it or to a smaller part for a mix of flavours and colours.

04
When you start, make sure butter is cold and very hard.

Ingredients:

Pastry:
300 g all-purpose flour
250 g butter
1 medium to large egg
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
 1½ teaspoons baking powder
powder sugar (or a mix of sugar and cinnamon) to dust

Apple filling:
1 kg apples
2 tablespoons sugar (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon or more cinnamon (or more to taste)

Method:

01 
Cut butter into small cubes and combine with flour. There are two methods to do it. You can either chop the butter and flour mixture with a large knife until it is super fine and completely worked into the flour, or you can squeeze the butter cubes with your fingers covering it with the flour at the same time, until it all disappears into the mix. With the second method, use you finger tips and not palms, since they are cooler and they will split the butter into smaller pieces without melting it with your body heat.

02
Once butter and flour are combined into what resembles crumbles, add one egg, baking powder, 3 tablespoons of sugar and vanilla sugar. Knead it gently for a few minutes until the butter softens and forms a thick and silky pastry.

02
Form a neat ball from the pastry, flatten is (it will be easier to roll it out later), wrap it in parchment paper or put it in an air-tight container, and place it in a fridge, while you prepare the apples. If you have beeswax wraps. in you kitchen, they are perfect for resting the pastry, too.

02
Once butter and flour are combined into what resembles crumbles, add one egg, baking powder, 3 tablespoons of sugar and vanilla sugar. Knead it gently for a few minutes until the butter softens and forms a thick and silky pastry.

04
Wash and peel the apples, cut them into cubes or grate them (I prefer cubes), add the sugar and simmer until you get nice, thick mousse. I like to leave a bit of texture to the pieces, since they will continue to soften later in the oven. If your mousse is a little watery, simply keep simmering until it reduces.

05
Add cinnamon and leave to cool.

06
Take your baking form (you will need one approximately 24 cm diameter) and line it with baking paper. You can use the same paper you used for wrapping the pastry. Butter the sides of the form and sprinkle with ground almond or other nuts, coconut shavings or flour.

07
Take your pastry out of the fridge and spilt it in half. Use the first half to neatly line the bottom of your form, evenly cover it with apple mousse and finish with the rest of the pastry.

08
In order to give your apple pie a nice finish, you can roll the pastry flat, tear little pieces and place them next to each other to construct a rustic-looking layer or simply grate it and sprinkle to cover the apples.

09
Bake it in 180°C for about 50-60 minutes, until beautiful and golden. Cool it and serve lightly dusted with powder sugar.

Our Eastern Kitchen - Traditional Polish Apple Pie - Recipe - Food Photography
Our Eastern Kitchen - Traditional Polish Apple Pie - Recipe - Food Photography
Our Eastern Kitchen - Traditional Polish Apple Pie - Recipe - Food Photography
Our Eastern Kitchen - Traditional Polish Apple Pie - Recipe - Food Photography

Enjoy!