Croatian Christmas Bundt Cake (Božićni Kuglof)

This cake is perfect for any Sunday family dinner. Although usually made during the Holiday season no one is going to complain if they have a bite or two in the off season. The addition of the apple makes this bundt cake a bit better than the others. Unless you’re a weirdo who’s into dry bundt cakes.

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The combination of nuts and dried fruits I use in this recipe works very well to create a balanced flavor and texture. It received five star rating across the board with all the testers who got to sample it.

Croatian Christmas Bundt Cake cross cut so inside and outside of the cake is visible
Inspiration to get your mouth watery

Traditional Croatian recipe (the way grandma used to make it) has raisins (but who really likes raisins? Zvonimir raises hand, alone.) and arancini. Arancini denominates two different foods, one is what you easily find when you Google it, the other one is what I actually mean here. A dried orange peel covered in sugar, traditional Croatian dessert from the coastal region. Why can’t they just pick an original name? Sigh…

As fun as it would be to rant about language and baking history, you’re here to get your hands dusted into sweet, sweet…

Tools you need

  • Bundt cake pan because you’re making a bundt cake and, well, that’s what you make bundt cakes in 🙂
  • Mixing bowls. Before you can put the ingredients into the bundt cake pan, you need to mix them somewhere. Mixing bowls to the rescue!
    Make sure bowls you use are adequately sized. There are few things worse than overflowing bowls.
  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things
  • Peeler to peel the apple
  • Grater because it’s one letter away from being great, and you also need it to grate the apple
  • Spatula makes mixing things into other things easier
  • Electric mixer. Mixing is great and all, but doing it by hand can get exhausting. Sometimes you can outsource that work to a family member. Other times you need a bit more power.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.

Ingredients

Servings: 6 people

  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 50 g dried cranberries
  • 50 g thinly sliced almonds
  • 50 g coarsely cut walnuts
  • 1 peeled, grated apple
  • 150 g brown sugar
  • 1 package (9 g) vanilla sugar
  • 110 g all purpose flour (unbleached)
  • 50 g cornstarch
  • 1 package (14 g) baking powder
  • 90 g melted unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • powdered sugar for coating
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 °C (340 °F)
  2. Soak dried cranberries in rum until soft
  3. Mix flour and cornstarch with baking flour and spices (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and cloves)
  4. In a separate bowl mix eggs with both sugars until foamy
  5. Into eggs and sugar mixture mix in with spatula
    • Dried cranberries with rum
    • Apple
    • Almonds
    • Walnuts
    • Flower mixture and melted butter at the end
  6. Mix well until compact
  7. Oil or butter bundt pan and dust with flour
  8. Bake for 45 min until golden brown. Pro tip: pick with a toothpick and if nothing sticks, you’re golden.
  9. Leave the cake in the pan until it cools
  10. Take the cake out of the bundt pan and dust it with powdered sugar

Wrapping up

If you’re the adventure type who likes to stray from a beaten path, test it with any other nuts or dried fruit as you desire or have available in your pantry.

Let me know in the comments which combinations worked well for you and share this on social media.

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

When I want to make a dessert from the ingredients I have at home I love to experiment. I find my inspiration online, but I always add a pinch of me in the recipe 🙂 In this recipe I added maple syrup, almond flakes and coconut shavings!

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Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Tools you need

  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things
  • Measuring cups to, as well, measure things with them
  • Good food processor will make this dessert creamier and more delicious
  • Serving wine glasses are perfect for desserts in a glass, look very professional 😀
  • Melting chocolate is a quick and easy job for a microwave
  • Microwave bowls because we don’t want to melt the bowl, just the chocolate 😉

I was a bit skeptical about making a dessert with avocados, but it turned out to be very moist and creamy and the taste of chocolate was dominating. Raspberries give it a bit of freshness and almond flakes a bit of crunchiness. The whole deal is a perfect combination. Any berry and nut combination should be good.

Zvonimir really liked it the first time, so I decided to make it again for our friends when they came to dinner.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did 😀

Ingredients

Servings: 4 people

  • 200 g semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips (at least 60% dark)
  • 4 large, ripe avocados
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 teaspoons maple syrup

For serving: fresh raspberries, almond flakes and coconut shavings.

Preparation:

  1. Melt the chocolate in microwave in 15-second bursts, stirring between each until the chocolate is completely melted. Stir until smooth. Set aside and let cool until just barely warm.
  2. Halve and pit the avocados, place them in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the melted chocolate, cocoa powder, almond milk, vanilla extract, salt and maple syrup.
  3. Blend until very smooth and creamy

Serve in glasses along with raspberries, almond flakes and coconut shavings.
You can eat them immediately or keep them in refrigerator for a couple of hours to get thicker consistency.

Which other fruit-nut combination would you try with this?

Lemon Yogurt Cake

One of many interesting things I discovered in Canada is a loaf pan. Having a cake sliced like a bread is the best thing since sliced bread 😉

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I love to bake with purpose. Like making a birthday cake for a friend or family member. Or with intention to play with the ingredients I have at home without having to go to the store.

The other day, two lemons were staring at me with their big, yellow, eyes, telling me that they will go to waste if I don’t do something with them soon. And I had some yogurt that felt the same way. About the same time I came across a recipe by Barefoot Contessa on Pinterest and loved the idea so I decided to put a twist on it and make the unexpected trio happy.

The trio reached nirvana, the cake was super moist with sweet and tangy flavor, and it went perfect with a cup of tea 🙂

Tools you need

  • Loaf pan because we’re making a loaf cake 🙂
  • Mixing bowls. Before you can put the ingredients into the loaf pan, you need to mix them somewhere. Mixing bowls to the rescue!
    Make sure bowls you use are adequately sized. There are few things worse than overflowing bowls.
  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things; alternatively, you can use cups, in which case…
  • Measuring cups. Sometimes when you buy measuring cups, measuring spoons come with them
  • Spatula makes mixing things into other things easier
  • Whisk to mix things together. You could use an electric mixer too but you don’t really need one for this cake.
  • Zester to zest lemon zest (is there a way to use zest in that sentence again?)
  • Lemon squeezer. You could just use your hands to squeeze lemons if you want to get your hands juicy. Or you could use a lemon squeezer to keep your germs and lemon pits out of the cake. And possibly look fancy while doing it.
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. ‘Nuff said.
  • Parchment paper. Although not really a tool per se, it’s used in preparation of this zesty loaf, so you should be aware of it when preparing to make it.
  • Small pot for syrup preparation

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1-1/2 (150 g) cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (7.5 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 (2.5 g) teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (245 g) plain yogurt
  • 1 cup (192 g) sugar (granulated)
  • 10 g vanilla sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • zest from 2 lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) vegetable oil

Syrup

  • lemon juice from two lemons minus the 2 tablespoons needed for the glaze
  • 1/3 cups (64 g) sugar (granulated)

Glaze (optional)

  • 1 cup (130 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preparation for the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (180 °C). Grease the loaf pan with oil or butter. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan on the parchment paper and the sides.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla extract. You don’t need to use the electrical mixer, hand whisk is perfect 🙂
  4. Slowly whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
  5. With a silicon spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about an hour, until a toothpick placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Preparation for the syrup

  1. Cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear.
  2. Set aside until the cake is baked.

Preparation for the glaze

  1. Combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice and mix well until combined.

Serving

  1. When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  2. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan.
  3. While the cake is still warm, pick it with the toothpick and pour the syrup over.
  4. Allow it to soak in. Cool it down.
  5. After the cake cools, pour the glaze over (I was too anxious to wait, pressured by those big, yellow, eyes, so the glaze was soaked in as well, ah well… :D)

Enjoy!

Cinnamon French Toast

On a cold winter Sunday, you sit in your spot and gaze outside to the fluffy snow falling over the ground while squirrels play catch.
It makes you crave something warm and sweet for breakfast, to help you match that fuzzy feeling you have inside.

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One of the best advantages of living in Canada is having the best maple syrup in the world always handy 🙂 (and if you don’t live in Canada, you can order it online. Ah, the perks of that future we live in…)
And the best way to enjoy it is with French Toast, especially with a touch of cinnamon.

Tools you need

You don’t need many tools for this dish and it’s fairly easy to make. You’ll still want to have some of these handy. It’s true things taste better when we work for them but why work harder than you need to?

  • Frying pan just makes frying things easy
  • Chef’s knife to cut the bread into sticks
  • Tongs are useful to flip the sticks over in a controlled way without chasing them around the pan with a fork or piercing the crust
  • Measuring spoons to, you know, measure things with them
  • Measuring cups. Sometimes when you buy measuring cups, measuring spoons come with them
  • Whisk to mix it all together in a small bowl or a plate

Ingredients

  • 8 slices of toast or any other white bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • vegetable oil or unsalted butter for cooking
  • maple syrup for serving

Preparations

  1. Cut bread slices into sticks or leave them in one piece, whatever you prefer. Use old, drier bread if you can. It will soak better and won’t get doughy.
    Bread crust will give them a nice crunch, so don’t cut the crust off.
  2. In a bowl or a plate, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Dip each piece of bread in the egg mixture, turning to coat it on all sides so that it’s well-saturated with the mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl or plate mix cinnamon with sugar. Set aside for coating.
  4. Fry in a preheated frying pan with 2-3 tablespoons of oil on a medium heat.
    Watch out not to put too many pieces at once, they might stick to each other and loose their crispiness, which is no fun!
    Fry until golden brown.
  5. Coat the frying bread in a cinnamon mixture.
  6. Pour as much maple syrup as you like over the toast just before serving and enjoy!

Pro Tip: serve with maple syrup in a cup on the side and pour it over individual toasts to help them stay crispy.

Wrapping up

Now that you’re here there are two questions left.

  1. What do you like better, crispy sticks or slices with soft core?
  2. Other than maple syrup, what do you put on French Toast?

Bazlamača – Croatian Sweet Cornbread

Old fashion, almost forgotten Croatian sweet cornbread was a typical Croatian breakfast over the centuries 🙂

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Croatian Northwest cuisine is based on breads, especially corn breads and all related dishes. This cake makes a great breakfast, which you can compliment with jam or fruit. Yum!

Bazlamača - Croatian Sweet Cornbread

Tools you need

  • Mixing bowls. Before you can put the ingredients into the baking sheet, you need to mix them somewhere. Mixing bowls to the rescue!
    Make sure bowls you use are adequately sized. There are few things worse than overflowing bowls.
  • Baking sheets come in different shapes and sizes and it’s good to have a variety available in your kitchen. I used 46 x 33 cm baking sheet which works very nicely with these amounts of ingredients.
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things
  • Turner spatula like the one in the photo above. You can eat with your hands if you can’t help yourself but it makes plating a lot easier, especially while Bazlamača is still hot
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. Burns hurt and take time to heal. You don’t want to take time off from baking, do you?

Ingredients

Servings: 6-8 people

  • 250 g cottage cheese
  • 75 g sugar
  • 0.5 l of milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 0.5 l of sour cream
  • 150 g of corn flour
  • 150 g all purpose flour
  • 20 g baking powder

The traditional Croatian recipe (the way grandma used to make it) has much larger measurements since in the old days families were larger. But that’s another topic entirely 🙂

Preparation

  1. Mix both flours with salt and baking powder.
  2. In another bowl mix cottage cheese well with milk, sour cream, sugar, salt and eggs.
  3. Combine the two mixtures and mix until you get a smooth, medium thick batter.
  4. Grease the baking sheet. Pour the batter in and bake at 180 °C until golden brown.
  5. When the cake is done, allow it to cool slightly and cut as desired. Cake’s surface can additionally be sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Wrapping up

I like topping it off with different jams. Other options are honey, custard, maple syrup…

What do you think this would go well with?

Tell us in the comments bellow.

Apple Crumble Pie

Apples are in season, and that makes perfect timing for all types of apple cakes, tarts, pies, strudels and other apple based goodness… I made mine with maple syrup and it makes all the difference. I am Canadian after all 😀

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Apple Crumble Pie

Tools you need

  • Mixing bowls to mix the dough in 😀
  • Chef’s knife comes handy for cutting the apples
  • Cutting board; also useful for cutting apples
  • Make sure saucepan is big enough for all the apples!
  • Round tart pan. I recommend two piece pan for easy slicing
  • Peeler. Great tool when you need to peel something, like apples 😉
  • Measuring spoons because it’s baking, and measuring is the name of the game 😉
  • Measuring cup. See previous point.
  • Kitchen scale because baking is a fine art and perfection is a little bit more reachable when you quantify things
  • Kitchen mittens. Things get hot in the oven. Burns hurt and take time to heal. You don’t want to take time off from baking, do you?

Ingredients

For the shortcrust pastry (2x)

  • 220 g pastry flour
  • 50 g sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 130 g cold butter, diced
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the filling

Make two balls of dough with the same ingredients. One ball of dough will be for the bottom of the pie and the other for the top.

In the bowl mix together flour, salt and sugar until combined. Add butter, and mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gradually stream beaten egg into the flour mixture and knead until the dough just comes together. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and shape into a flattened disk. One ball wrap in transparent foil and refrigerate for 25-30 minutes and the other one wrap in transparent foil and put in the freezer!

Peel, clean and cut the apples into small cubes. Put them in a medium saucepan, pour over the maple syrup, add cinnamon and vanilla sugar. Simmer the apples over the low heat until soft.

Preparation

Preheat oven to 180 °C. Butter a 26 cm round tart pan.
Roll the chilled dough from a refrigerator on a piece of lightly floured baking paper in a 30 cm circle. Transfer the rolled dough to your tart pan and press it into the bottom and sides of the pan. Cut off excess dough and prick the bottom with a fork.

Pour over the apple filling. Take the dough form the freezer and grate in on top of the filling. Sprinkle with oatmeal.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the dough becomes golden brown.

Enjoy 🙂