Wednesday, November 25, 2020

November Lebkuchen with white Sugar Icing l November Lebkuchen mit weißer Zuckerglasur


This is what I am calling a perfect November recipe for Lebkuchen (German gingerbread cookies). Many traditional German recipes will call for leaving the dough to rest overnight, or letting the Lebkuchen dry on the baking sheets before baking them off the next day, you might also find yourself hunting down unusual leavening ingredients like potash (Pottasche) or baker’s ammonia (Hirschhornsalz). However, this recipe for easy November Lebkuchen with White Sugar Icing (or as I like to refer to them: 'everyday Lebkuchen') uses ingredients that you will probably already find in your cupboard around this time of year, well, maybe not the candied orange peel (you can substitute with candied lemon peel) but it is widely available come November.

So, if you get hungry for Lebkuchen but do not feel like waiting forever to be able to indulge, give this recipe a try. My taste testers are convinced that they taste absolutely delicious. They are moist, nutty, wonderfully spicy and fruity from the candied orange peel. Plus their frosty glaze makes them look festive.





The one thing to remember before getting started with these, is that you want to prepare the glaze just before the cookies come out of the oven. You make it with icing sugar and a bit of hot water, so that it sets quickly on the warm cookies, and it takes on a sort of frosted appearance as it dries. If you leave the Lebkuchen to cool while you make the glaze, or you make it with cold water, you don’t get the same pretty frosted effect. 




To me, this is a perfect November recipe because it will lift your spirits as these Lebkuchen come together so easily, yet taste as delicious as any sophisticated Lebkuchen recipe.

As far as the spices are concerned, either use a ready-made German Gingerbread Spice Mix (Lebkuchengewürz) or go with Mixed Spice (typically made with allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves, coriander, and ginger) or mix the spices yourself.

And if you cannot get your hands on baking wafers (Oblaten), make sure to place the Lebkuchen on baking parchment before baking.




November Lebkuchen with white Sugar Icing   (November Lebkuchen mit weißer Zuckerglasur)

(yields about 24 small cookies)


Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 40g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 75g soft brown sugar (weicher brauner Rohrzucker/cassonade brune)
  • 50ml runny honey (local if possible)
  • 1 egg (M), organic or free range
  • 40ml milk, room temperature (I use 3.5%)
  • 2 tsp gingerbread spice mix (Lebkuchengewürz) OR mixed spice OR homemade gingerbread spice mix*
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  • 100g plain (AP) flour (Type 405)
  • 100g almond meal OR finely ground natural almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder (I use Weinsteinbackpulver)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100g chopped nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, OR walnuts)
  • 60g finely chopped candied orange peel (Orangeat)
  • 24 baking wafers (Oblaten), small (5cm/2in)

For the Sugar Glaze

  • 150g icing (powdered) sugar 
  • hot water

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (355°F) and line two rimmed baking sheets with baking parchment.
  2. Put the butter, brown sugar, honey, egg, milk, gingerbread spice mix and salt in a bowl. Beat until the mixture is well combined. 
  3. Add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder and mix well. 
  4. Finally fold in the chopped nuts and chopped candied peel. The mixture will be soft and sticky, but should not be runny.
  5. Divide the dough into 24 portions – take tablespoons of the dough and place on the baking wafers – 12 cookies per sheet. 
  6. Bake the Lebkuchen for about 15 minutes, or until they just puff up slightly and look dry and just beginning to brown at the edges. 
  7. Just before the Lebkuchen come out of the oven, prepare the simple white sugar icing: sift the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually whisk in enough hot water to make a smooth icing that coats the back of a spoon – you should be able to brush it onto the Lebkuchen, but it should not be too runny or watery. Remove the Lebkuchen from the oven and immediately brush each with the warm sugar glaze. As they cool, the Lebkuchen should take on a „frosted“ appearance. Let the icing set completelely before serving


*Gingerbread Spice Mix (Lebkuchengewürz)

Ingredients

(makes 30 grams/4 tbsp)

  • 4 tsp Ceylon cinnamon, ground
  • 3 tsp coriander, ground
  • 1 tsp cloves, ground
  • 1 tsp anise seeds, ground
  • 1 tsp nutmeg, ground
  • 1 tsp star anise or fennel seeds, ground
  • 1 tsp ginger, ground
  • 1 tsp cardamom, ground

Preparation

  1. Blend all spices together.
  2. Store in a tightly sealed small glass jar away from light (or a spice tin). Will keep for four months.



"And I had but one penny in the world, thou should'st have it to buy gingerbread."

William Shakespeare, "Love's Labor's Lost"



For more Lebkuchen inspiration, pls have a look at my other recipes:

  • Elisenlebkuchen (Traditional German Gingerbread) (HERE)
  • Gingerbread Biscotti (Lebkuchen Biscotti) (HERE)
  • Honey-Gingerbread Cutouts (Honig-Lebkuchen-Pferde) (HERE)
  • Pains d' Épices de Saint Nicolas (Saint Nicholas Gingerbread/Nikolauslebkuchen) (HERE)


For information on the wonderful Gingerbread Spice Mix (Lebkuchengewürz) I used in my recipe, please visit the 'Pfeffersack & Soehne' (spice merchant from Koblenz, Germany) website for more details (HERE)



Thursday, November 19, 2020

Red Swiss Chard & Mushroom Filo Tart l Filotarte mit rotem Mangold & braunen Champignons


Filo pastry is paper-thin translucent sheets of pastry often used in Greek, eastern European and Middle Eastern cuisines. When working with filo, it is a good idea to use several layers together to strengthen the delicate sheets. Filo pastry is widely available in supermarkets or Middle eastern markets, it is sold ready-made in rolled layers, either fresh (in the refrigerated section of the supermarket) or frozen.



Actually, working with filo is easy. There is not even any rolling involved. But you have to work quickly with filo pastry or it will dry out. It is always a good idea to cover it with a clean, damp tea towel while working with it. The layers of filo are usually brushed either with melted butter or oil (I usually use a mild olive oil suitable for cooking) to help them brown. 



You can fry filo or oven bake it and it can be used to make a variety of savory as well as sweet dishes such as the Greek spanakopita (the famous spinach and cheese pie) or sweet baklava (Middle eastern nut and honey pastries).



In general, filo pastry makes a great light tart shell perfect for all year round when filled with seasonal vegetables.

In spring I prepared a delicate Filo Tart with White Asparagus, Goat Cheese & Meadowsweet Blossoms (Filotarte mit weißem Spargel, Ziegenkäse & Mädesüßblüten) (HERE), come November, I like to make this Red Swiss Chard & Mushroom Filo Tart (Filotarte mit rotem Mangold & Pilzen) with red or rainbow Swiss chard and sautéed brown (chestnut) mushrooms.



If you like, you can substitute spinach or even kale for the Swiss chard. And if you prefer to use another type of mushroom, you can use white button, portobello or chanterelle mushrooms – in general any type of mushroom that is in season. No matter which mushroom you choose to use, make sure to pan-fry them before adding them to the chard mixture, as this will add even more flavor.

And if you aren’t really a fan of sesame paste and would rather not use the tahini, you can brush the filo layers with a mild olive oil or melted butter instead. But we love tahini and it does lend a special flavor component here that pairs beautifully with the earthy taste of Swiss chard.



Red Swiss Chard & Mushroom Filo Tart (Filotarte mit rotem Mangold & braunen Champignons)

Ingredients

For the Filling

  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove (optional), finely minced
  • a few pepperoncini flakes (Italian chili flakes)
  • 500g Swiss chard (red or rainbow), washed and dried – tear the leaves into large pieces and slice the stems (keep the stems separate from leaves)
  • 300g brown (chestnut) mushrooms, brushed and quartered
  • mild olive oil (suitable for cooking)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • black and white sesame seeds

For the Pastry

  • 5 sheets of ready-made filo pastry, each about 32 x 38cm/13 x 15in
  • 3 tbsp tahini (or more – if your tahini is a little too thick for brushing the filo pastry sheets, dilute it with some olive oil)

Preparation

  1. In a sauté pan, add some olive oil and sweat the sliced spring onions, garlic (if using), and pepperoncini flakes. Then add the sliced Swiss chard stems and stir while frying over medium heat. 
  2. Add the torn leaves and cook for another few minutes – make sure to stir regularly.
  3. Taste and season the mixture with freshly ground pepper and salt. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a frying pan add some olive oil and fry the mushrooms in batches. If there is some cooking liquid that has not evaporated, make sure to drain it before adding the mushrooms to the Swiss chard mixture. Mix together well.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (356°F).
  6. Lightly oil a 23cm (9in) loose-based fluted quiche pan or pizza pan (which is what I used) that is about 3.5cm (1.5in) deep. Line with baking parchment.
  7. Place a sheet of filo pastry in the baking pan, pressing it firmly against the base and sides. Using the tip of a pastry brush, brush the pastry with a little tahini then cover with a second pastry sheet at a right angle to the first. Brush with more tahini and cover with a third sheet at the same angle to the first. Brush with the tahini and cover with a fourth sheet, running in the same direction as the second. Cut the overhanding pastry (optional) and brush lightly with some olive oil. 
  8. Scatter the chard-mushroom-mixture over the base of the pastry case and press down lightly, then drizzle a few drops of olive oil over the top.
  9. Bake the tart in the pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes OR until the pastry is browned and crisp and the filling is set.
  10. Take the tart out of the oven and leave to cool in the baking pan for about 10 minutes before removing.
  11. Sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds and serve warm or cold.



If you have never cooked with Swiss chard, this is a great recipe to get started and if you have never used filo pastry for your savory bakes, this is definitely a recipe you would want to try.




For more Filo Tart inspiration on my blog, please have a look at the following:

  • December Filo Tart with Mini Brussels Sprouts (Winterliche Filotarte mit Rosenkohlröschen) (HERE)
  • Filo Tart with fresh Figs & Prosciutto (Filotarte mit frischen Feigen & Prosciutto) (HERE)
  • Crispy, Crackly Apple-Almond Tart (HERE)
  • River Cottage "Veg Everyday" Courgette and Filo Rice Pie (HERE)
  • Filo Tart with White Asparagus, Goat Cheese & Meadowsweet Blossoms (Filotarte mit weißem Spargel, Ziegenkäse & Mädesüßblüten) (HERE)




Saturday, October 31, 2020

Traditonal Irish Barmbrack for Halloween - Traditioneller Irischer Teekuchen zu Halloween

Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruitcake which is also known as 'Irish Tea Cake', a popular way to celebrate the Halloween season. This truly Irish treat that is served on Halloween night is sometimes also refered to as Halloween Barmbrack.

This recipe makes a really moist, fruit loaf which is packed with flavor from mixed spice and dried fruit. The fruit soaks overnight in strong black tea resulting in plump fruit. 

Traditionally, a ring or other small gadget is baked into the cake – a ring meant you would be married within the year, a pea however the opposite, a stick foretold dispute, the silver coin good fortune and a piece of cloth meant bad luck. So, make sure that everyone in the family gets a slice of Irish Halloween Barmbrack to see what the future holds - weddings, spinsterhood, wealth or poverty!? 



As its Irish language name 'bairín breac' (speckled bread) suggests, barmbrack is similar to the Welsh 'bara brith', a plain, yet richly fruited bread that is also well suited to a generous topping of fresh butter, preferably lightly salted, and also makes for an excellent accompaniment to a pot of tea or a strong cup of coffee.



Before the invention of chemical raising agents, barmbracks would have been leavened with yeast. And the word 'barm' itself denotes the foam that collects at the top of fermenting liquids such as beer, wine or liquor, which would have been scooped off for use in baking. However, most bakers today use baking powder instead.




Barmbrack is also known as 'tea brack', and not just because it goes so well with tea but also because the non-yeasted recipes all call for soaking the dried fruit in black tea overnight. The choice of tea also varies in some recipes - I like to use a good strong black Irish tea that is widely available around here but you can go with any good black tea or maybe even an Earl Grey with its fruity notes or a Lapsang Souchong if you prefer a slightly smokey note. Some recipes also call for a bit of whiskey, which is not traditional, but which does add another layer of flavor – not advisable though if you are planning to serve generous slices to the kids.



Irish Barmbrack for Halloween


Ingredients

(makes one 900g loaf)

  • 125g sultanas (golden raisins)
  • 125g raisins
  • 125g currants (you can substitute with other kinds of dried fruits, including dried cherries, cranberries or blueberries, or dried orange (Orangeat) or lemon peel (Zitronat) or even some glacé cherries but do not exceed the total weight of 375g)
  • 250ml strong hot black tea, preferably Irish (you can substiture 50ml whiskey and 200ml tea), you can also use a fruity Earl Grey tea or a smokey Lapsang Suchong
  • 225g plain (AP) flour (you can substitute white spelt flour)
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • 2 tsps of baking powder
  • 125g light brown sugar such as light muscovado sugar
  • 8g pure vanilla sugar
  • 1 tbsp Mixed Spice (available at British shops or online - a lovely mixture of mostly coriander, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice) - you can substitute with a Gingerbread spice mix (Lebkuchengewürz)
  • 1 egg (M), free-range or organic

 

Equipment

  • 900g(2 lb) baking pan (loaf pan)
  • baking parchment


Preparation

  1. Place the dried fruit in a bowl and pour over the hot tea (and whiskey, if using). Stir, cover and allow to soak up the liquid overnight.
  2. The following day, strain the mixture and keep the liquid.
  3. Grease and line your 900g (2lb) loaf pan (11cm x 21.5cm/4.3 in x 8.5in) with baking parchment.
  4. Preheat your oven to 180˚C (356°F).
  5. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, brown sugar, vanilla sugar and mixed spice in a mixing bowl. Make a well and break in the egg, using a wooden spoon, mix the egg with the dry ingredients. Add a little bit of the soaking liquid from the dried fruit mix and mix it through, then add more or all - you may not need all the liquid, you are looking for a wet dough. Then stir through the fruit mix until everything is thoroughly combined.
  6. Spoon the wet dough into the lined baking pan, place in the oven on the middle shelf and bake for about 60 to 70 minutes - if the cake browns too quickly, make sure to loosely cover it after 30 minutes baking time. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly (about 15 minutes) before removing the barmbrack from the baking pan and placing on a wire rack to cool completely – you should wait for the barmbrack to cool completely before cutting into it. 
  7. Serve thick slices slathered with good butter, marmelade and strong tea or coffee. The barmbrack keeps very well for a few days and is also utterly delicious when toasted.


NOTE: if you are prefer a more glistening exterior to your barmbrack, brush the still warm cake with a sugar syrup. For the syrup, simmer 1 tbsp sugar and 50ml water until the mixture reaches a syrupy consistency, brush the still warm cake, let the cake cool and then cut into generous slices.




Irischer Teekuchen zu Halloween 


Zutaten 

(für eine mittelgroße Kastenform - 900g -  21.5cm x 11cm)

  • 125g Sultaninen 
  • 125g Rosinen
  • 125g Korinthen (man kann auch einen Teil mit anderen Trockenfrüchten ersetzen, getrocknete Kirschen, Cranberries oder Blaubeeren oder man fügt dem Teig etwas Orangeat und/oder Zitronat hinzu - solange man das Gesamgewicht von 375g nicht überschreitet)
  • 250ml starker schwarzer Tee, möglichst irischer Tee (man kann auch für ein besonderes Aroma 200ml Tee und 50ml Whiskey dazu geben) oder für eine blumige/fruchtige Note kann man auch Earl Grey nehmen oder für ein leichte Rauchnote auch einen Lapsang Suchong 
  • 225g Weizenmehl (Type 450) - man kann auch Dinkelmehl Type 630 nehmen
  • eine Prise feines Salz
  • 2 TL Backpulver (Weisteinbackpulver)
  • 125g feiner Rohrzucker wie zum Beispiel Muscovado Zucker 
  • 8g Bourbon Vanillezucker
  • 1 TL Mixed Spice (eine Gewürzmischung, die häufig in britischem Gebäck oder Kuchen verwendet wird und die Koriander, Zimt, Piment, Muskatnuss, Ingwer und Nelken enthält- bekommt man in englischen Geschäften oder online) alternativ kann man auch Lebkuchengewürz verwenden
  • 1 Ei (M), Freiland oder Bio


Zubereitung

  1. Die Trockenfrüchte im warmen schwarzen Tee (und event. Whiskey) über Nacht einweichen, am nächsten Tag gut abtropfen lassen, dabei die Füssigkeit auffangen.
  2. Eine mittelgroße Kastenform (21.5cm x 11cm) einfetten und dann mit Backpapier auslegen.
  3. Den Backofen auf 180 °C Ober-/Unterhitze vorheizen. 
  4. Das Mehl mit dem Salz, Backpulver, Rohrzucker, Vanillezucker und Mixed Spice oder Lebkuchengewürz vermischen.
  5. Dann das Ei zugeben und so viel von der aufgefangenen Flüssigkeit zu dem Teig geben, bis man einen zähflüssigen Teig erhält.
  6. Dann die abgetropften Trockenfrüchte unterheben und den Teig in die Form streichen. 
  7. Im vorgeheizten Backofen 1 Stunde bis 1 Stunde 10 Minuten backen – nach 30 Minuten Backzeit abdecken, damit die Oberfläche nicht zu dunkel wird.
  8. Nach dem Backen den Teekuchen zirka 15 Minuten in der Form ruhen lassen und anschließend auf ein Kuchengitter stürzen und ganz auskühlen lassen bevor man ihn anschneidet. Am besten mit guter gesalzener Butter, Orangenmarmelade und viel heißem Tee oder Kaffee servieren. Der Barmbrack hält sich mehrere Tage frisch (gut einwickeln) und läßt sich ganz wunderbar toasten.


Für zusätzlichen Glanz, sollte man den noch warmen Kuchen mit etwas Zuchkersirup bestreichen: dafür 1 EL Zucker mit 50ml Wasser aufkochen, zu Sirup einkochen und damit den Kuchen einpinseln. Dann den Kuchen erkalten lassen und in Scheiben schneiden.





„(…)Pastie suppers down at Davey's chipper

Gravy rings, barmbracks

Wagon wheels, snowballs.“

Van Morrison: "A Sense of Wonder" (1985)



„The fire was nice and bright and on one of the side-tables were four very big barmbracks. These barmbracks seemed uncut; but if you went closer you would see that they had been cut into long thick even slices and were ready to be handed round at tea.“

James Joyce: "Dubliners" - "Clay"




PPlease note that this blog post is part of my series for a local/regional radio station, where, throughout the years, I present festive bakes that are closely tied to various holidays and seasons. If you are interested, have a LOOK & LISTEN (in German) HERE.


The various recipes of my series can be found here:

  • in January, for Three Kings Day (Dreikönigstag) two kinds of Galette des Rois (Dreikönigskuchen) (HERE)
  • for Lent (Fastenzeit) Lenten Soup with Lenten Beugel (Fastenbeugel) (HERE)
  • for Good Friday (Karfreitag) the delicious Hot Cross Buns (HERE)
  • for Pentecost /Whitsun (Pfingsten) the fun Allgäu Bread Birds (Allgäuer Brotvögel) (HERE)
  • for the beginning of the summer vacation, the lovely Sacristains (Almond & Sugar Puff Pastry Sticks) (HERE)
  • for St Christopher's Day (St Christophorus), the energy-packed Müsli Power Bars (Müsli Energieriegel) (HERE)
  • for Mary's Assumption Day (Mariä Himmelfahrt) my Tear & Share Herb Bread (Kräuterbrot) (HERE)
  • for Mary’s Birthday (Mariä Geburt) some very pretty Mary’s Sweet Rolls (Süße Marienküchlein) (HERE)
  • for Thanksgiving (Erntedankfest) a delicious and seasonal Thanksgiving Apple Tart with Frangipane (Erntedank Apfeltarte mit Mandelcreme) (HERE)
  • for Halloween a Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake (Kürbis-Gewürzkuchen)
  • for St Martin's Day (Martinsfest) the cheerful Sweet Dough Men (Weckmänner) (HERE)
  • for St Andrew's Day (Andreastag) a classic Petticoat Tails Shortbread (HERE)
  • for Christmas Day (Weihnachten) these Traditional German Gingerbread (Elisenlebkuchen) (HERE
  • for New Year's Eve New Year's Eve Pretzel (Neujahrsbretzel)
  • for Candelmas Day (Mariä Lichtmess) some delightful Navettes de Saint Victor (HERE)
  • for Carnival Season (Karneval) these lovely Carnival Doughnuts (Karnevals-Krapfen) (HERE
  • for St Patrick's Day a traditional Irish Brown Soda Bread (Irisches Sodabrot)(HERE
  • for St Joseph's Day a long-forgotten but thankfully re-discovered Sweet Cotton Bread (Baumwollbrot)(HERE
  • for Palm Sunday (Palmsonntag) these very pretty Palm Pretzels (Palmbrezel) (HERE)
  • for Easter Sunday (Ostersonntag) an Easter Brunch at Home with Tarte Flambée (Flammkuchen) (HERE)
  • for the Month of May (Marienmonat Mai) these elegant Visitandines de Nancy (HERE
  • for Pentecost/Whitsun (Pfingsten) festive Beignets (Heiliggeistkrapfen) (HERE
  • for St John's Day (Johannistag) these sweet St John Cakelettes (Johannisküchlein) (HERE)
  • for St Margaret’s Feast Day (Margaretentag)the delightful teacake called St Margaret’s Cake (Margaretenkuchen) (HERE)
  • for St Hildegard's feast day these wonderful spice cookies called Cookies of Joy (Nervenkekse)(HERE
  • for Michaelmas (Michaelistag) buttery Sablés du Mont-Saint-Michel (Buttergebäck)(HERE)
  • for Halloween a moist and fruity traditional Irish tea cake called Barmbrack (Irischer Teekuchen) (HERE) - more delicious treats to come very soon.




Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Sablés du Mont-Saint-Michel for Michaelmas - Normannisches Buttergebäck zum Michaelistag


Today, the Feast of Saint Michael (Heiliger Michael), also known as 'Michaelmas' (Michaelistag) is celebrated in the Western churches. In the Roman Catholic Church, Michaelmas is now more commonly celebrated as the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the three archangels (Erzengel), in the Anglican Church, its proper name is the 'Feast of St. Michael and All Angels'. September 29 was originally dedicated only to St. Michael, with St. Gabriel formerly on March 24, and St. Raphael on October 24. The 1969 reform of the General Roman Calendar combined these feast days for today's triple feast.


As Michaelmas falls near the equinox, the day is also associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days. It was the time at which new servants were hired or land was exchanged and debts were paid



St. Michael is considered to be one of the principal angelic warriors, protector against the dark of the night and the Archangel who fought against Satan and his evil angels. It was believed that negative forces were stronger in darkness and so families would require stronger defences during the later months of the year. 





The veneration of St. Michael began in the Eastern Church in the 4th century and had spread to Western Christianity by the 5th century. The feast date of May 8 commemorates the dedication of a sanctuary to St Michael at Monte Gargano in Italy in the 6th century



During the Middle Ages, Michaelmas was a great religious feast and many popular traditions grew up around the day, which coincided with the harvest in much of Western Europe. In England and Germany it was the custom to eat goose (Michelgans) on Michaelmas, which was supposed to protect against financial need for the next year. In Ireland, finding a ring hidden in a Michaelmas pie meant that one would soon be married. In Germany, there was also the tradition of baking a special bread called Michaelsbrot with sourdough, rye and wheat. In France there are the so-called 'Sablés du Mont-Michel', delectable sandy butter cookies with hail from Normandy, hence the recipe calls for salted butter from Normandy and takes its name from the world famous Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey.



The long history of Mont-Saint-Michel began in 708, when Bishop Aubert of Avranches erected a first sanctuary on Mont Tombe in honor of the Archangel Michael (the island was originally called Mont-Tombe but became known as Mont-Saint-Michel in the 8th century). According to legend, in 708 the Bishop received, during his sleep, three times the order from St. Michael to erect an oratory on the Mont Tombe . The archangel was reputed to have left his finger mark on Aubert's skull. On October 16, 709, the Bishop dedicated the church and put twelve chanoine there.

It rapidly became a pilgrimage center, and in 966 a Benedictine Abbey was built there. In 1203 it was partly burned when King Philip II of France tried to capture the mount. He compensated the monks by paying for the construction of the monastery known as La Merveille (The Wonder).

The island, which was fortified in 1256, resisted sieges during the Hundred Years’ War between England and France (1337-1453) and the French Wars of Religion (1562-98). The monastery declined in the 18th century, and only 7 monks were living there when it was dissolved during the French Revolution (1787-9). It became a state prison under Napoleon I (reigned 1804-14/15) and remained a prison until 1863. In 1874 it was classified as a historic monument and restored.

The abbey church that towers over the island has a 11th- and 12th-century Romanesque nave and a choir in Gothic style (1450-1521). The tower and spire, crowned by a statue of St. Michael, were added in the 19th century. The church is built over 3 crypts, the oldest dating probably from Carolingian times (8th-10th century). The exterior walls of the Gothic monastery La Merveille (built by 1228) combine characteristics of a military fortress and the simplicity of a religious building. The most striking sections are the refectory (Refektorium) with its high, narrow windows, and the cloister, with its sculptures. There is a panoramic view of the bay from the medieval walls (13th-15th century) on the Southern and Eastern sides of the Mount. The residential houses (now mainly hotels or tourist shops) along the narrow street winding up to the abbey date in some cases to the 15th century

Since 1979, the site (the Mont-Saint-Michel as well as its bay) has been a UNESCO world heritage site. With more than 3.5 million visitors, the Abbey is among the most visited cultural sites in France. Since 1998 the Mont-Saint-Michel is part of the French Saint James' Way (Jakobsweg).


Sablés du Mont-Saint-Michel

(yields about 35 cookies, depending on their size)

Ingredients

  • 125g lightly salted butter, room temperature (I suggest a lightly salted French butter from Normandy like the Beurre d’Isigny, demi sel)
  • 100g superfine baking (caster) sugar
  • 200g AP (plain) flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp milk, room temperature (I like to use full fat milk which means 3.5% around here)
  • 8g pure vanilla sugar

Preparation

  • 1 egg yolk (L), organic or free range 
  • 2 tbsp milk, again I like to use 3.5%

Preparation

  1. Melt the butter on medium heat, add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved.
  2. In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour with the baking powder. Then add the flour mixture to the butter mixture together with the milk and the vanilla sugar. Very carefully mix the dough just until it comes together.
  3. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it into, flatten it lightly into a disk and leave it to cool in the refrigerator – best overnight but if stressed for time, two hours will also do.
  4. Take the dough out of the refrigerator, pre-heat your oven to 180°C (356°F), and line 2 cookie sheets with baking parchment. 
  5. In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolk with the milk.
  6. Using 2 sheets of parchment paper (NOTE: using additional flour here would make the dough tough), roll out the cookies to a 5mm (0,2 in) thickness. Using a glass or cookie cutter (ø 5 cm/2 in) cut out as many rounds as possible and transfer them to the prepared baking sheets.
  7. Brush all cookies lightly with eggwash and score the cookies with the tines of a fork. Then transfer the cookie sheets to the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.
  8. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely – these cookies will keep for a few days if kept in a cool place in an airtight container.



Sablés du Mont Saint-Michel (Normannisches Buttergebäck Mont-Saint-Michel)

(für zirka 35 Kekse)

Zutaten

Für den Teig

  • 125g Salzbutter, Zimmertemperatur (wie ‚Beurre d´ Isigny, demi sel)
  • 100g feinster Backzucker
  • 200g Weizenmehl (Type 450)
  • ½ TL Backpulver (Weinstein Backpulver)
  • 3 EL Milch, Zimmertemperatur, (ich nehme immer Vollmilch)
  • 8g Bourbon Vanillezucker

Zum Bestreichen

  • 1 Eigelb
  • 2 EL Milch (Vollmilch)

Zubereitung

  1. Die Butter schmelzen lassen, den Zucker hinzugeben und rühren bis er sich aufgelöst hat.
  2. Das Mehl mit dem Backpulver mischen, dann die Butter-Zucker-Mischung zusammen mit der Milch und dem Vanillezucker dazugeben und vorsichtig zu einem glatten Teig verkneten.
  3. Zu einer Kugel formen und in Frischhaltefolie wickeln, etwas flach drücken und am besten über Nacht aber wenigstens 2 Stunden kalt stellen.
  4. Den Backofen auf 180°C vorheizen.  Zwei Backbleche mit Backpapier belegen.
  5. Das Eigelb mit der Milch verquirlen.
  6. Den Teig zwischen Backpapier ausrollen (5 mm dick) und mit Ausstechern oder einem Glas, Kreise (ø 5 cm) ausstechen. Am besten kein weiteres Mehl nehmen, da das Gebäck sonst zu trocken/hart wird.
  7. Die Kreise auf ein mit Backpapier ausgelegtes Backblech setzen, dabei zwischen den Kreisen etwas Platz lassen. Kreise mit verquirltem Eigelb bestreichen und mit einer Gabel mit Mustern verzieren. 
  8. Dann im vorgeheizten Backofen bei 180°C auf der 2. Schiene von unten 10 bis 12 Minuten goldgelb backen.
  9. Kreise vom Backpapier lösen und auf einem Kuchengitter auskühlen lassen.


Please note that this blog post is part of my series for a local/regional radio station, where, throughout the years, I present festive bakes that are closely tied to various holidays and seasons. If you are interested, have a LOOK & LISTEN (in German) HERE.


The various recipes of my series can be found here:

  • in January, for Three Kings Day (Dreikönigstag) two kinds of Galette des Rois (Dreikönigskuchen) (HERE)
  • for Lent (Fastenzeit) Lenten Soup with Lenten Beugel (Fastenbeugel) (HERE)
  • for Good Friday (Karfreitag) the delicious Hot Cross Buns (HERE)
  • for Pentecost /Whitsun (Pfingsten) the fun Allgäu Bread Birds (Allgäuer Brotvögel) (HERE)
  • for the beginning of the summer vacation, the lovely Sacristains (Almond & Sugar Puff Pastry Sticks) (HERE)
  • for St Christopher's Day (St Christophorus), the energy-packed Müsli Power Bars (Müsli Energieriegel) (HERE)
  • for Mary's Assumption Day (Mariä Himmelfahrt) my Tear & Share Herb Bread (Kräuterbrot) (HERE)
  • for Mary’s Birthday (Mariä Geburt) some very pretty Mary’s Sweet Rolls (Süße Marienküchlein) (HERE)
  • for Thanksgiving (Erntedankfest) a delicious and seasonal Thanksgiving Apple Tart with Frangipane (Erntedank Apfeltarte mit Mandelcreme) (HERE)
  • for Halloween a Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake (Kürbis-Gewürzkuchen)
  • for St Martin's Day (Martinsfest) the cheerful Sweet Dough Men (Weckmänner) (HERE)
  • for St Andrew's Day (Andreastag) a classic Petticoat Tails Shortbread (HERE)
  • for Christmas Day (Weihnachten) these Traditional German Gingerbread (Elisenlebkuchen) (HERE
  • for New Year's Eve New Year's Eve Pretzel (Neujahrsbretzel)
  • for Candelmas Day (Mariä Lichtmess) some delightful Navettes de Saint Victor (HERE)
  • for Carnival Season (Karneval) these lovely Carnival Doughnuts (Karnevals-Krapfen) (HERE
  • for St Patrick's Day a traditional Irish Brown Soda Bread (Irisches Sodabrot)(HERE
  • for St Joseph's Day a long-forgotten but thankfully re-discovered Sweet Cotton Bread (Baumwollbrot)(HERE
  • for Palm Sunday (Palmsonntag) these very pretty Palm Pretzels (Palmbrezel) (HERE)
  • for Easter Sunday (Ostersonntag) an Easter Brunch at Home with Tarte Flambée (Flammkuchen) (HERE)
  • for the Month of May (Marienmonat Mai) these elegant Visitandines de Nancy (HERE
  • for Pentecost/Whitsun (Pfingsten) festive Beignets (Heiliggeistkrapfen) (HERE
  • for St John's Day (Johannistag) these sweet St John Cakelettes (Johannisküchlein) (HERE)
  • for St Margaret’s Feast Day (Margaretentag)the delightful teacake called St Margaret’s Cake (Margaretenkuchen) (HERE)
  • for St Hildegard's feast day these wonderful spice cookies called Cookies of Joy (Nervenkekse)(HERE
  • for Michaelmas (Michaelistag) buttery Sablés du Mont-Saint-Michel (Buttergebäck)(HERE)
  • for Halloween a moist and fruity Barmbrack (Irischer Teekuchen) (HERE)- more delicious treats to come very soon.






Thursday, September 17, 2020

Hildegard's Cookies of Joy for St. Hildegard's Feast Day - Nervenkekse nach Hildegard von Bingen


St. Hildegard, also called Hildegard of Bingen (Hildegard von Bingen), was born 1098 in Bermersheim (Rhineland Palatinate, Germany) and died on September 17, 1179, in Rupertsberg, near Bingen (also in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany) at the age of 81. She was canonized on May 10, 2012 and her feast day is today, September 17, the day of her death. She was a German abbess, visionary, mystic, and composer.



Hildegard was born of noble parents (Hildebert and Mechthild von Bermersheim) and was educated at the Benedictine monastery of Disibodenberg (Kloster Disibodenberg) by Jutta von Sponheim, a religious recluse. Hildegard was only 15 years old when she began wearing the Benedictine habit and pursuing a religious life. After Jutta died in 1136, Hildegard succeeded her as prioress. Having experienced visions since she was a child, at age 43 she consulted her confessor, who in turn reported the matter to the archbishop of Mainz. A committee of theologians subsequently confirmed the authenticity of Hildegard’s visions, and a monk was appointed to help her record them in writing. The finished work (Scivias aka Liber scivias 1141–52), consists of 26 of Hildegard's visions that are prophetic and apocalyptic in form and in their treatment of such topics as the church, the relationship between God and humanity, and redemption. After having lived at Disibodenberg for 39 years, in 1147 Hildegard left the Disibodenberg monastery with 18 fellow nuns to found a new convent at Rupertsberg (Kloster Rupertsberg).




Hildegard was also a talented poet and composer, she collected 77 of her lyric poems, each with a musical setting composed by her. Her numerous other writings included lives of saints, two treatises on medicine and natural history, reflecting a quality of scientific observation rare at that period, as well as extensive correspondence. She traveled widely throughout Germany, evangelizing to large groups of people about her visions and religious insights, which earned her the description of a Prophetissa teutonica, a German prophetess. In the year 1165 she founded a second convent, this one accepted women with non-aristocratic background, the Benedictine Abbey of St. Hildegard (Abtei St. Hildegard), a community of Benedictine nuns in Eibingen near Rüdesheim in Hesse, Germany. 

Miracles were reported during her life and at her tomb. However, she was not formally canonized until May 10, 2012, when Pope Benedict XVI declared her to be a Saint and later that year (on October 7, 2012) Benedict proclaimed Hildegard a doctor ecclesiae (Kirchenlehrerin) of the church, one of only four women to have been so named.

As one of the few prominent women in medieval church history, Hildegard became the subject of increasing interest in the latter half of the 20th century. Her writings were widely translated into English and several recordings of her music were made available.


Hildegard of Bingen believed food nourished the soul. She recommended having one of her spelt cookies every day to enrich and bring joy. According to Hildegard, these spelt cookies strengthen the nerves and improve the mood. However, due to their high concentration of cinnamon and nutmeg in the original recipe (2 tablespoons each cinnamon and nutmeg), Hildegard recommended  consuming them in moderation. Depending on their size, children may eat up to 3 cookies a day, adults may eat 5. However, to accomodate modern tastes, I usually reduce the amount of freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon used in the original recipe - the cookies still smell and taste like spice cookies, they still contain spelt and almonds and the trinity of spices called for in the traditional recipe but we can be a bit less cautious when enjoying them and still benefit from the nutritial value that spices do have.

Around here, you can even depend on a ready-made organic Hildegard von Bingen spice mix called 'Kuchen und Keks Gewürz' (cake and cookie spice mix) that contains the three spices nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves and, if I may add, comes in a very pretty package which, together with the recipe for the cookies, makes for a formidable gift.



For Hildegard, spelt (Dinkel) soothes the mind, and nutmeg (Muskatnuss) brightens the mood. These two ingredients account for a large part of the positive effects of Hildegard's spelt cookies with spices. The addition of nutmeg has a stimulating effects, due to the essential oil myristicin. In moderate doses, myristicin serves as a mood enhancer but in large quantities it acts as a psychoactive drug, so always use caution when adding nutmeg to your dishes.




Cookies of Joy According to Hildegard von Bingen

recipe adapted from St Hildegard's treatise Liber simplicis medicinae (Buch der einfachen Medizin) aka Physica (Heilkraft der Natur), 1150-58

Ingredients

(yields about 80 cookies, depending on their size)

For the Cookie Dough

  • 150g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 200g raw cane sugar, fine (or use soft brown sugar)
  • 2 eggs (M), free range or organic (room temperature)
  • a pinch of fine sea salt
  • 300g spelt flour
  • 200g almond flour 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 5g Ceylon cinnamon 
  • 5g freshly grated nutmeg 
  • a generous pinch of ground cloves (about 1g)
  • grated zest of 1 organic lemon

To Finish

  • 1 tbsp milk, full fat 
  • 1 egg yolk (M), free range or organic
  • almonds, slivered or sliced, or both (optional)

Preparation

  1. In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs and salt, beat well.
  2. In another bowl whisk together the spelt flour with the almond flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and grated lemon zest.
  3. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and mix just until the dough comes together.
  4. Wrap the dough in kitchen wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  5. Then take the dough out of the fridge and form logs with the dough, wrap the logs in kitchen wrap and place in the refrigerator again overnight (at least an hour will also work if you are short of time).
  6. The following day (or after an hour), take the dough logs out of the refrigerator. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (356°F), cut the dough into slices and place on prepared baking sheet.
  8. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with almonds (optional).
  9. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Let cool on wire racks.



Nervenkekse nach Hildegard von Bingen

Zutaten

(für ca. 80 Plätzchen, je nach Größe der Kekse)

Für den Teig

  • 150g Butter (Zimmertemperatur)
  • 200g Rohrzucker
  • 2 Eier (M), Bio oder Freiland (Zimmertemperatur)
  • eine Prise feines Salz
  • 300g Dinkelmehl (Type 630) 
  • 200g Mandeln (geschält und gemahlen)
  • 1 TL Weinstein Backpulver
  • 5g Ceylon Zimt, gemahlen
  • 5g Muskatnuss, frisch gerieben
  • 1 Msp Nelken, gemahlen (zirka 1g)
  • Abrieb von ½ Bio-Zitrone

Zum Bestreichen (optional)

  • 1 EL Milch 
  • 1 Eigelb
  • Mandeln, gestiftelt oder gehobelt

Zubereitung

  1. Die Butter schaumig rühren und mit dem Zucker, den Eiern und Salz gut verrühren.
  2. Das Mehl mit den gemahlenen Mandeln mischen, dann Backpulver, Zimt, Muskatnuss, Nelken und Zitronenabrieb dazu geben und nochmals gut mischen. 
  3. Die Mehlmischung zu der Buttermischung geben und zu einem homogenen Teig verkneten. 
  4. Den Teig in Folie wickeln und im Kühlschrank für etwa 1 Stunde kaltstellen.
  5. Dann den Teig zu Rollen formen (Durchmesser 4 Zentimeter), die Teigrollen nochmals in Folie wickeln und nochmals kaltstellen, am besten über Nacht.
  6. Am nächsten Tag den Backofen auf 180°C vorheizen. Zwei Backbleche mit Backpapier belegen.
  7. Die Teigrollen in 0,5 Zentimeter dicke Scheiben schneiden, auf die vorbereiteten Backbleche legen, mit Milch und verquirltem Eigelb bestreichen, dann wahlweise mit gestiftelten oder gehobelten Mandeln dekorieren.
  8. Im vorgeheizten Ofen etwa 12 bis 15 Minuten backen oder bis die Kekse goldbraun sind.
  9. Danach auskühlen lassen und in einem verschließbaren Glas oder Dose aufbewahren.



Please note that this blog post is part of my series for a local/regional radio station, where, throughout the years, I present festive bakes that are closely tied to various holidays and seasons. If you are interested, have a LOOK & LISTEN (in German) HERE.


The various recipes of my series can be found here:
  • in January, for Three Kings Day (Dreikönigstag) two kinds of Galette des Rois (Dreikönigskuchen) (HERE)
  • for Lent (Fastenzeit) Lenten Soup with Lenten Beugel (Fastenbeugel) (HERE)
  • for Good Friday (Karfreitag) the delicious Hot Cross Buns (HERE)
  • for Pentecost /Whitsun (Pfingsten) the fun Allgäu Bread Birds (Allgäuer Brotvögel) (HERE)
  • for the beginning of the summer vacation, the lovely Sacristains (Almond & Sugar Puff Pastry Sticks) (HERE)
  • for St Christopher's Day (St Christophorus), the energy-packed Müsli Power Bars (Müsli Energieriegel) (HERE)
  • for Mary's Assumption Day (Mariä Himmelfahrt) my Tear & Share Herb Bread (Kräuterbrot) (HERE)
  • for Mary’s Birthday (Mariä Geburt) some very pretty Mary’s Sweet Rolls (Süße Marienküchlein) (HERE)
  • for Thanksgiving (Erntedankfest) a delicious and seasonal Thanksgiving Apple Tart with Frangipane (Erntedank Apfeltarte mit Mandelcreme) (HERE)
  • for Halloween a Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake (Kürbis-Gewürzkuchen)
  • for St Martin's Day (Martinsfest) the cheerful Sweet Dough Men (Weckmänner) (HERE)
  • for St Andrew's Day (Andreastag) a classic Petticoat Tails Shortbread (HERE)
  • for Christmas Day (Weihnachten) these Traditional German Gingerbread (Elisenlebkuchen) (HERE
  • for New Year's Eve New Year's Eve Pretzel (Neujahrsbretzel)
  • for Candelmas Day (Mariä Lichtmess) some delightful Navettes de Saint Victor (HERE)
  • for Carnival Season (Karneval) these lovely Carnival Doughnuts (Karnevals-Krapfen) (HERE
  • for St Patrick's Day a traditional Irish Brown Soda Bread (Irisches Sodabrot)(HERE
  • for St Joseph's Day a long-forgotten but thankfully re-discovered Sweet Cotton Bread (Baumwollbrot)(HERE
  • for Palm Sunday (Palmsonntag) these very pretty Palm Pretzels (Palmbrezel) (HERE)
  • for Easter Sunday (Ostersonntag) an Easter Brunch at Home with Tarte Flambée (Flammkuchen) (HERE)
  • for the Month of May (Marienmonat Mai) these elegant Visitandines de Nancy (HERE
  • for Pentecost/Whitsun (Pfingsten) festive Beignets (Heiliggeistkrapfen) (HERE
  • for St John's Day (Johannistag) these sweet St John Cakelettes (Johannisküchlein) (HERE)
  • for St Margaret’s Feast Day (Margaretentag)the delightful teacake called St Margaret’s Cake (Margaretenkuchen) (HERE)
  • for St Hildegard's feast day these wonderful spice cookies called Cookies of Joy (Nervenkekse)(HERE
  • for Michaelmas (Michaelistag) buttery Sablés du Mont-Saint-Michel (Buttergebäck)(HERE) - more delicious treats to come very soon.