Sunday, July 19, 2020

St Margaret's Cake for St Margaret's Feast Day - Margaretenkuchen zum Margaretentag

Margaret (aka Margherita, Marina, Margaritha or Marine), known as Margaret of Antioch in the West (feast day July 20) and as Saint Marina in the East  (feast day July 17), was a virgin martyr and one of the 14 Holy Helpers, a group of saints (Vierzehn Nothelfer). She was also one of the most venerated saints during the Middle Ages.

It is said that her father named Aedesius was a pagan priest in Antioch of Pisidia, (modern Turkey). Her mother died when Margaret was an infant, and the girl was raised by a Christian woman. Margaret’s father disowned her, her nurse adopted her, and Margaret converted, consecrating herself and her virginity to God.

According to one legend, during the reign (284–305) of the Roman emperor Diocletian, a Roman prefect by the name of Olybrius saw the beautiful young Margaret as she was tending sheep, and asked her to marry him. When she refused, the official denounced her as a outlaw Christian, and she was brought to trial. When she refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods, the authorities tried to burn her, then boil her in a large cauldron but each time her prayers kept her unharmed. She was finally martyred by beheading. According to another legend it was her father who renounced her to Olybrius and her destiny took a similar route.

Part of her story involves her meeting the devil in the form of a dragon, being swallowed by the dragon, and then escaping safely when the cross she carried irritated the dragon‘s innards; this accounts for this virgin’s association with pregnancy, labor, and childbirth and her emblem, a dragon. She was one of the saints who appeared to Saint Joan of Arc (Jeanne d‘ Arc).

There are many well-known personalities and churches who were named after her. Too many to list them all, but I would like to point out a few. There was Saint Margaret of Scotland (1045- 1093) an English princess and a Scottish Queen who was cannonized in 1250 for her charitable work . Or Margaret I ( 1353-1412) the queen who founded the Kalmar Union of the Kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, spanning Scandinavia for over a century. And Margaret II, the current Queen of Denmark. There are hundreds of churches around the globe named after St Margaret, one that many of you might know is St Margaret's Church between Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament in London, UK.

And, of course, closer to (my) home, Margarete is a German feminine given name. It is derived from Ancient Greek 'margarites', meaning 'the pearl', via the Latin 'Margarita', it arrived in the German Sprachraum and related names include Gretchen (Faust) and Gretel (Hänsel und Gretel), to name just two. And then my great-grandmother, my grandmother and my daughter carried and carry that beautiful name as well.

The cake in honor of St Margaret was devised at the Master School for Bakers and Confectioners (Kölner Meisterschule für Konditoren) in the City of Cologne (Germany). The cake is in the shape of a marguerite flower. After baking it can either be left unadorned, simply dusted with powdered sugar, or glazed with apricot jam and then finished with a simple sugar glaze or even decorated with marzipan of fondant 'petals'. Because the cake mold is so pretty, I much prefer the plain look. Due the finely grated marzipan in the batter, the cakes is moist and has the most wonderful almond flavor.

If you are interested in my 'carrot cake version' of the St Margaret's Cake pictured below, just take a look at the recipe HERE. The Gâteau aux Carottes (Carrot Cake) was inspired by a recipe from Pierre Hermé, the famous French pastry chef and chocolatier.

St Margaret’s Cake
(either use a special cake mold in the shape of a marguerite flower ø 26 cm/10 in, or use a springform pan)


For the Cake
  • 250g unsalted butter (plus some for the mold), room temperature
  • 100g finely grated marzipan (suitable for baking)
  • 140g superfine (caster) sugar
  • 6 egg yolks (M), organic or free range
  • finely grated zest form 1 lemon (organic and/or un-treated)
  • scraped seeds from 1 vanilla bean
  • 6 egg whites (M), organic or free range
  • 1 pinch of fine sea salt
  • 120g plain (AP) flour, plus some for the mold
  • 80g corn starch

For the Glaze (optional)
  • 100g apricot jam
  • 8 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp freshly queezed lemon juice

  1. Butter and flour your mold. Set aside.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 190° C (375°F).
  3. In the bowl of your mixer, combine the butter, marzipan and 1/3 of the sugar, beat until light and foamy. Gradually add one egg yolk at a time and beat each until well incorporated into the butter mixture, then add the lemon zest and the vanilla. Beat again.
  4. In another bowl beat the egg whites together with the salt until foamy, then gradually add the reamaing 2/3 of the sugar and continue ot beat until stiff peaks form.
  5. Sift together the flour with the corn starch.
  6. Now add the beaten egg whites alternating with the flour mixture to the butter mixtuer, taking care to gently fold them in, do not stir.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared mold.
  8. Bake the cake for about 50 to 60 minutes, covering the cake during the last 15 minutes if it gets too dark.
  9. Take the cake out of the oven, place on a cooling rack and let it rest for a few minutes, then turn it out onto the rack.
  10. In the meantime heat the apricot jam with 2 tbsp water, strain (if necessary) and glaze the cake, let dry for about 30 minutes.
  11. For the sugar glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar with the lemon juice and glaze the cake, let dry again and serve.

(für Margaretenkuchenform oder Springform ø 26 cm; wird traditionell zum Margaretentag am 20. Juli gebacken)


Für den Teig
  • 250g Butter (etwas extra für die Form)
  • 100g Marzipan-Rohmasse, fein gerieben
  • 140g feinster Zucker
  • 6 Eigelb (M), Bio-oder Freilandlandhaltung
  • Abrieb von 1 Bio-Zitrone
  • Mark einer halben Vanilleschote
  • 6 Eiweiß (M), Bio-oder Freilandhaltung
  • 1 Prise feines Salz
  • 120g Weizenmehl Type 405 (etwas extra für die Form)
  • 80g Speisestärke

Für die Glasur (optional)
  • 100g Aprikosenmarmelade
  • 8 EL Puderzucker
  • 1 EL Zitronensaft

  1. Eine Margaretenkuchenform oder eine Springform mit Butter ausstreichen und dünn mit Mehl ausstreuen.
  2. Den Backofen auf 190° C Ober-Unterhitze oder 175-180° C Umluft vorheizen.
  3. Die Butter mit der Marzipan-Rohmasse und einem Drittel des Zuckers schaumig rühren, nach und nach die Eigelbe, den Zitronenabrieb und die Vanille dazugeben.
  4. Die Eiweiße mit der Prise Salz schaumig aufschlagen, den restlichen Zucker einrieseln lassen und dann steif schlagen.
  5. Das Mehl mit der Speisestärke sieben.
  6. Den Eischnee abwechselnd mit der Mehlmischung unter die Butter-Marzipan-Masse heben.
  7. Die Teig in die vorbereitete Backform füllen und die Oberfläche glatt streichen.
  8. Den Kuchen auf der 2. Schiene von unten 50 bis 60 Minuten backen, eventuell in den letzten 15 Minuten abdecken.
  9. Nach dem Backen auf ein Kuchengitter stürzen, etwas abkühlen lassen und dann für den Guss die Aprikosenmarmelade mit 2 EL Wasser erwärmen, event. durch ein Sieb passieren und den Kuchen damit dünn bestreichen (aprikotieren), 30 Minuten trocknen lassen.
  10. Für den Guss den Puderzucker mit dem Zitronensaft verrühren und den Kuchen damit anschließend glasieren, austrocknen lassen und servieren.

Please note that this blog post is part of my series for a local 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) - more delicious treats to come very soon.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Oven-Roasted Tomato Soup with Basil & Chickpeas - Ofen-Tomatensuppe mit Basilikum & Kichererbsen

This subtly spiced Oven-Roasted Tomato Soup recipe is at its most delicious made in summertime when tomatoes are at their best. To further intensify the flavor of the soup, it is a good idea to take the time to roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet together with red onions, garlic and thyme before cooking the tomatoes further with some stock. That way, you get all the ingredients cooked down and caramelized before you simmer them with your stock and then purée them.

As far as the stock is concerned, either go vegetarian and use a vegetable stock or use chicken stock here. If you can, use a homemade one or chose a good quality storebought stock. If you use homemade, you might have to add a bit more salt in the end as homemade stocks tend to be less salty than the ones you buy ready made.

It is also worth noting that adding roasted red onions will add a very nice touch of sweetness here while the chili flakes add a bit of brightness and punch. If you do not want to add garlic to your soup and/or out of red onions, you can go with a bunch of shallots instead.

Personally, I think the soup tastes just like summer in a bowl. Although at this time of year some of use would rather not consider soup to be a summer food but rather eye salads and foods that are generally consumed cold, I believe that no matter the season, soups always makes us feel good - and this soup in particular celebrates the glorious tastes of summer - fresh sweet tomatoes and red onions, glorious fresh herbs from the garden to add color and even more flavor and oven-roasted, slightly spicy chickpeas to add a crunchy texture. Bliss.

Oven-Roasted Tomato Soup

Ingredients for the Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
  • 10 to 12 ripe plum (or use regular) tomatoes, washed, cored and halved widthways – if you use regular tomatoes, they will excude more liquid while roasting, making the soup a bit less concentrated
  • 2 red onions, peeled, sliced NOTE: keep the red onion skins
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed NOTE: if you chose to skip the garlic, substitute a few shallots for the garlic and red onions OR just omit the garlic altogether
  • salt, freshly ground black pepper and some chili flakes (optional)
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme 
  • 4 tbsp olive oil (suitable for cooking)

* red onion skins: keep them and make my Grissini (Italian Breadsticks) with Red Onion Skins (HERE) OR my Quiche with Onion Skins in the Crust (HERE)

For the Soup
  • 1 liter (or less) chicken or vegetable stock (depending on the tomatoes and how thin or thick you like your soup), preferably homemade - as a general rule, the roasted veg should be covered with stock before you continue with the recipe and boil the soup
To Serve

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh basil leaves
  • warm oven-roasted chickpeas
  1. For the oven-roasted tomatoes, preheat your oven to 220°C (450°F) degrees.
  2. In a large bowl toss together the prepared tomatoes, red onions, garlic, chili flakes (if using) and olive oil. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Then arrange the vegetables in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet (roasting tray), arrange the thyme sprigs amongst the veggies and bake until most tomatoes and onions are wrinkled and brown in spots, about 35 to 40 minutes. NOTE: it does not matter if the baking sheet is crowded.
  4. Lift the baking sheet from your oven, rest on a cooling rack and remove the thyme sprigs.
  5. Carefully transfer the cooked vegetables including all the pan juices to a large dutch oven or heavy pot.
  6. Add stock (homemade if you have some) and bring to a rapid boil. Then turn down the heat and continue to cook, uncovered, until slightly reduced and the tomatoes are really soft, about 25 minutes.
  7. Purée until smooth – I like to use an immersion blender here - (use caution when blending hot liquids).
  8. Season with salt and pepper and if necessary thin with additional stock.
  9. To serve, ladle the soup into serving bowls.
  10. Top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil leaves (different colored ones are nice) and some warm oven-roasted chickpeas (recipe follows).

Oven-Roasted Chickpeas

  • 1 or 2 cans of chickpeas
  • olive oil (suitable for cooking)
  • fine sea salt 
  • after 30 minutes of roasting, add some sweet or hot smoked Spanish paprika to taste, mix well and roast for a further 5 to 10 minutes (optional)

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 225°C (400° F) with the rack positioned in the middle.
  2. Drain the chickpeas from the can, rinse in a colander and pat the chickpeas dry or place the chickpeas in your salad spinner, lined with a kitchen towel, then spin and remove any white outer layers as chickpeas will take on more color in the oven without them. OR leave the chickpeas to air-dry on the towel for a few minutes, just to make sure they are totally dry.
  3. Transfer the chickpeas to a baking sheet and drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt and toss well to combine. 
  4. Bake the chickpeas, shaking the pan once or twice, for 30 to 40 minutes, until they are dry to the touch
  5. If you would like to dress the chickpeas, you want to be careful with delicate spices. If it is a spice that needs toasting like Spanish smoked paprika, chili or curry powder, cumin, coriander or turmeric, make sure to add it towards the end (for the last 5 to 10 minutes). If it is something that you would sprinkle on your food straight from a jar like za‘atar or dukkah or fresh herbs from the garden (like rosmary or thyme) or freshly grated zest from an orange or lemon, mix that with the chickpeas once they have emerged from the oven but are still warm. That will help it stick.
  6. Let the chickpeas cool on the baking sheet, then transfer them to a container with the top ajar and keep them at room temperature, that way, they will retain their cripsyness throughout the day. NOTE: if you have leftover chickpeas, you can snack on them by the handful, or scatter them on salads or roasted vegetables or creamy dips, or mix them into pasta at the last minute.

This velvety soup makes for a simple and elegant meal. Enjoy as is, make ahead, freeze some or chill it and serve it cold – and if you feel up to it, make some Oven-Roasted Chickpeas to serve and top and alongside.