Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Gingerbread Quest

This Christmas season I embarked on a quest to find the perfect gingerbread recipe. My goal was to make a soft gingerbread that has just the right amount of spices.

Did I find it? Not quite, but I am so close...

I started out with some regular recipes I found online that do not require and hard to get ingredients like Hirschhornsalz (baker's ammonia). The first recipe I tried fooled me and the gingerbread turned out to be hard. It was not bad, but definitely not what I wanted. The second recipe was not actually a gingerbread recipe, it contained lots of eggs and butter and was really more of a cake - but it tasted amazing. I also made something similar to Magenbrot (a gingerbread like cookie that is sold on Christmas markets in Germany), which is probably my second favorite Christmas cookie recipe, but again not really gingerbread.
After that I figured I better get some Hirschhornsalz and proper gingerbread spices from Germany (thanks a lot mom for sending me some!). Then I went online and looked for an old gingerbread recipe that contains invert sugar cream (Kunsthonig), which was used in war times instead of real honey. I found a recipe which I slightly modified by using a mix of brown and white sugar instead of white sugar only, and mostly whole wheat flour and ground nuts instead of white flour. I also let the dough rest overnight instead of using it right away, which was recommended in almost all other gingerbread recipes I found. The texture is exactly like I wanted it to be, and it tastes pretty good, but I think the amount of gingerbread spices was a little too much, and it turned out to have more of a gingerbread taste than I wanted. Maybe this will resolve itself after a few days since gingerbread is rarely supposed to be eaten right away.

Here are some pictures of my different "gingerbreads":
The last recipe: Soft, chocolate covered gingerbread

Gingerbread spice cake
Hard gingerbread

Here is my modified gingerbread recipe:
Combine 250g butter, 200g sugar (half white, half brown) and 250g honey and heat slowly until the sugar melts. Do not boil. Remove from heat and let cool down before adding the other ingredients.

Combine 100g ground hazelnuts, 100g white flour, 100g spelt flour, and 300g whole wheat flour (the original recipe simply uses 600g flour - I am sure almost any combination will work). Also add 1 tsp baking powder, 5g cinnamon and 7.5g gingerbread spices. However next time around I would add less gingerbread spice mixture, probably also only 5g (the original recipe calls for 7.5g of cinnamon plus 7.5g gingerbread spices).

Mix one egg with 1/2 cup milk. Dissolve Hirschhornsalz (= hartshorn, baker's ammonia) in milk mixture.

Add milk mixture and flour mix to the cooled honey mix. Stir until combined. Cover and store in a cool place over night (I put my dough in the cold basement for ~20 hours).

The next day, spread the dough over parchment-paper covered baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F (175 C) for 30 minutes.

Cover with melted chocolate and cut into squares while still warm.

And of while I was in Christmas baking mood I also made some other Christmas cookies:
Kokos-Marzipan-, und Haselnussmakronen
dunkle Engelsaugen

Friday, December 16, 2016

Gingerbread Cake

This recipe for gingerbread cake has been sitting in my list of recipes to try for probably two years now. This year I finally got around to making the cake that sounds just perfect: it contains gingerbread and marzipan! There are 3 almond sponge cake layers stacked with gingerbread cream, plum fruit spread and marzipan:


Sponge Cake:
  • 180g sugar
  • 110g flour
  • 40g corn starch
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 100 ml cold water
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Beat egg whites until stiff. Then beat egg yolks, water and sugar until light colored and foamy (can take several minutes). Mix almonds, flour, corn starch, baking powder and cinnamon, and fold under egg yolk mixture using a spoon. Fold in egg whites and bake at 320 degrees F for 20 - 30 minutes. I used three 9 inch baking forms and baked the cakes for 20 minutes, which resulted in 3 perfect layers for my cake without having to cut one sponge cake into the different layers. However baking one cake for about 30 minutes and cutting it into layers works just as well.

Cream Filling:
  • 180g mascarpone
  • 100g greek yogurt
  • 200 ml whipping cream
  • 100g gingerbread
  • 20g sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 4 tbsp orange juice
  • 1/2 package powdered gelatin (~4g)
Crumble the gingerbread into fine pieces (I used chocolate covered gingerbread, but I think any kind will work as long as it does not contain any dried or candied fruit). Using a small grinder or food processor on a low setting works well to make the crumbs. Mix the crumbs, mascarpone, yogurt and sugar. Whip cream with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Dissolve the gelatin in the orange juice for 10 minutes and the heat slowly until the gelatin melts. Let cool a bit and mix into whipped cream (start with one spoonful of cream and add more cream slowly). Quickly mix the cream-gelatin with the gingerbread-mascarpone. If the filling is very soft, put it in the fridge for the gelatin to harden.

Assemble the cake:
You also need plum jam and 100g marzipan. You can either grate the marzipan or roll it out into the form of your cake. Put about 2/3 of the gingerbread cream on the bottom layer. Add the second layer and top it with jam and the marzipan. Finally add the 3rd layer of sponge cake and cover the cake with the rest of the gingerbread cream. Decorate with gingerbread cookie pieces.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Skiing Cannon Mountain

Since I've been baking too many cookies Peter figured out how to get me away from the oven for a few days even if it is not windy: Skiing! The forecast looked great, so we went for a skiing trip to Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire.

Peter found an amazing place to stay at the Woodstock Inn Brewery, where we had a whirlpool and gas fireplace in our rooms. The skiing was great with new powder and sunny skies. Since this was our first day back on skis after a 6 year break, my legs stopped working at 3pm and I was asleep at 9. I did however manage to take my camera and make a few pictures from the great area and my tired face (but honestly my eyes are only closed because I was looking directly towards the sun):

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Intimidating Fun at Corporation

A windy, sunny Saturday - what else would we do except go windsurfing. So off we went, but instead of our usual NW spots we decided to check out Corporation. I recently fell back in love with my custom wave board shaped by Mark Angulo and really wanted to sail it in some waves where it belongs.
Usually we don't go wave sailing in waves that are taller than I, and definitely not in December and 5 degrees Celsius (40 F) temperatures, so this was a bit intimidating today. The around 30 mph averages did not make it more comfortable either and we almost decided to go somewhere else after arriving and looking out at the water and the blowing sand. But since I had said I wanted to sail in waves, and there definitely were some waves, I figured I had to rig up and at least give it a try. It was a surprising amount of fun and I am glad we ended up sailing in Corporation! Big thanks to everyone who came out to play, and especially to Peter who went with me even though he is not a big fan of Corporation. He took a few pictures of me on my last run in:

Thursday, December 1, 2016


Finally it is December, which means I have an excuse to bake Christmas cookies! Trying out new recipes is half of the fun, so I went ahead and tried a few new ones which I found online and in the amazing cookie recipe book The Gourmet Cookie Book. So far I made benne wafers, coconut-cranberry cookies, bride's cookies and Spritzgebäck.

Benne wafers are sesame (=benne) caramel lace cookies that consist mainly of sugar and sesame seeds. I made those mainly because I had a lot of sesame seeds, which I use occasionally when baking bread. The recipe for these are from the Gourmet Cookie Book.

Similar to the sesame seeds I had some dried cranberries lying in my kitchen, so I went in search of a recipe that uses cranberries. I found this recipe for oatmeal cranberry coconut cookies, and changed it just slightly by skipping the white sugar. The combination of coconut and cranberry flavor tastes great.

Bride's cookies ("Pastelitos De Boda") are essentially a shortbread butter cookie with ground pecans. The recipe is agin from The Gourmet Cookie Book, and I changed it only by adding some cardamom to give the cookies some spice.

Making Spritzgebäck (spritz cookies?) was the most fun, since I had a cookie press to make them. The recipe is also from my book, and the pretty picture of the traditional S shape inspired buying a cookie press. Making tree and heart shapes with the press was super easy, free forming the S shapes not so much, but a challenge is half the fun, right?!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Cape Cod in November

Well, I did want to write about the pear cheesecake I made, but looking at my pictures from this month, I found some nice ones I wanted to share with you. Last Sunday we had a great day of windsurfing at Kalmus in mid 30mph winds. I ended up sailing on my smallest gear - my 3.4 sail and the 72l Angulo wave board. There are no great waves in Kalmus, so the board might have been a bit mismatched, but I had a ton of fun on it! After being out on my 90l Skate two days before in Chapin and trying to get the rails to catch in the waves, I really wanted to try my wave board again and put it back in the van. It felt amazing - so responsive and it picks up amazing speed going down the waves! There is no picture of me sailing, but I managed to hand my camera to someone to take a picture of 4 of us in the Ianovated wetsuit that kept us warm this day:

Peter, I, Jay and Alex in our Ianovated suits

Exhausting myself for several hours on Sunday I had a little cold on Tuesday and just walked along the beach while Peter sailed In Cape Cod Bay. Here are a few pictures from the beach for all of those that have never been on Cape Cod:

Monday, November 21, 2016

Coconut Loaf Cake

I have been trying several coconut cakes in the past, and while most were pretty good, I never found the perfect one - until now. This is a very simple "Rührkuchen" (similar to a pound cake) that is moist, has a great crust and an amazing coconut taste.
The picture did not turn out too good, and definitely does not do the cake justice. 

I do believe most of the great taste is due to the coconut greek yoghurt I used, but it could also just be the right combination of butter, flour, sugar and coconut. Baking this cake was a bit of a "let's see what we have and mix it all together" thing. For example I ran out of regular sugar and ended up using about 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and the triple sec has been standing in our kitchen for a while and I simply decided I need to start using our alcohol that no one drinks. With all the powdered sugar I was not sure about using all sweetened coconut, so I used a mix of sweetened and unsweetened. Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar (used half regular, half powdered)
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1 cup shredded coconut (half sweetened, half unsweetened)
150g coconut greek yoghurt (=1/2cup)
dash of salt, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
generous dash of triple sec (~2 tbsp?)

Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for ~60 min.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Light Wind Freestyle with Air

During our Hatteras vacation in October I got to try an inflatable, sailable SUP. Peter and I took it out on a nice light wind day to see how it would feel compared to our regular light wind boards. The idea of an inflatable sounds awesome - it saves a ton of space compared to our regular SUPs and in my case would probably replace my SUP and the Bic Nova. So we took the opportunity to try the 10'4 Fanatic Fly Air for some light wind freestyle. Here is a video recorded with a mast mount:

Very quickly after starting to sail I removed the fin - which made everything feel so much better for light wind freestyle. The fin had been collecting lots of weeds, and since the boards has two small, permanently attached, side fins, you do not really need the center fin for the light wind tricks and spins. The inflatable did have a bit of a bouncy feel to it which made jumping up and down on it a ton of fun, but needs some getting-used-to when taking big steps on the board. It felt a lot more stable and less spinny than my 170l Bic Nova. This made any moves relying on the board keeping direction easier than they would be on my short Nova, but moves that turn the board took a bit longer. Peter felt like the mast mount was a bit too far forward for his sailing, and the nose did dip in the water frequently when he sailed.
Overall it was a lot of fun to sail, and I think this could be used for light wind sailing, flat water SUP'ing, and even for catching some small waves. Now if the inflatable SUP's only had some system for the inserts that allowed rail rides without having to worry about damaging the SUP... Considering the current insert, we did not deem it save and refrained from trying rail rides on it.

Special thanks to Brian and Ocean Air Sports who made it possible for me to try the SUP! I love that we still have windsurfing stores where you can try the gear you are interested in!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Halloween Sailing on OBX

Usually it is windy on Halloween. This year we were supposed to leave the Outer Banks (OBX) on October 29, but the wind forecast looked to good for Oct 31 to leave just yet, so we stayed for a couple more days. The wind came not quite as strong as promised but stayed the whole day. I sailed pretty much the whole day with a long lunch break. In the morning I took out the video camera to get some footage of me sailing. The goal was to finally get a Flaka, and the first try of the day was the best one all morning. Enjoy the video:

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Great White of Cape Cod

We do have some great white sharks here on the Cape, but I am talking about our windsurfing van. It is a white, high roof van, therefore titled the "Great White". Recently my mom mentioned that in such a big van, we should be able to sleep inside on a mattress during our longer trips. Since it is hard to explain and even harder to imagine our van stuffed full of windsurfing gear if you have never seen it, I decided to post some pictures to offer some insight. Here are a few of our fully packed van for one of our Hatteras trips:

View of our packed van from the back - pretty full, right?

And from the side - not sure where a mattress would find space...

So, as you can see, there is definitely no space for sleeping except on the front seat. But if you think about what we managed to put in there, Peter did a pretty good job of packing. In the pictures above we have 2 longboards on top of the van, and all of this inside: 9 boards, 6 booms, ~ 20 sails, ~10 masts, an inflatable boat, an inflatable kajak, a motor for the boat, a gas canister for the boat, 3 suitcases, 2 beach chairs, 3 big shopping bags full of wetsuits and booties (yes, those are mine!), 2 plastic boxes full of absolutely necessary windsurfing stuff, and lots of other small items like the pumps to inflate the boat, harnesses, fins, etc. - oh, and a ladder to get the boards on and off the roof of the van! And I probably forgot to mention lots of the things inside the van, but as everyone knows great whites are pretty big...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

T-Shirt Pillowcases

Usually we have a few left over t-shirts after our windsurfing festival each fall. Not wanting to throw them out, but also not interested in having 5 of each, I came up with the idea to repurpose them as pillowcases:

The dark green one was made with the shirt from our very first East Coast Windsurfing Festival here on Cape Cod, the red one was this year's t-shirt. I really like my zippered pillowcases, they remind me of our windsurfing events and are easily washable. Making them was not that hard - you can find tutorials for everything online these days. It was however the first time I have sewn a zipper into anything, but after making my own bikini tops this was rather easy. Also I do need lots of sewing practice since I am currently looking into acquiring an industrial sewing machine for windsurfing sail repairs. Who knows, if we have a non windy weekend I might just start on a quilt next...

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Remembering Smarties

Recently I picked up some candy coated chocolate drops while shopping. They reminded me very strongly of "Smarties", a popular children's candy in Germany.

One morning, after having had the candy lying in our kitchen for a few days, I woke up with a strong urge to bake a marble cake and decorate it with the candy. Checking in with my Mom confirmed my suspicion that we used to do this when I was little. I do not have a proper cake pan for the marble cake as I remember it, so it was baked in a bread pan. There was also some experimenting with the chocolate coating, which was needed to make the Smarties stick to the cake. I have been trying to get a tasty and functional chocolate coating for a while, but have not figured out the correct mix of chocolate and fat yet. For the record: 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 100g 70% chocolate is too thin. I still managed to make the smarties stick to the cake, but the cake could not be touched (and eaten) for the rest of the day on which it was made, to allow the coating to dry somewhat.

Marble cake decorated with candy coated chocolate drops

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Almost Healthy

Over the last few weeks I have been baking two things that would probably fall in the "healthy" category: Apfelkuchen & carrot muffins.

Apfelkuchen vom Blech
Carrot Muffins

The carrot muffins were based on a recipe from another food blog called "COOKIE + kate", and can be found here. I did like how the muffins turned out, but thought they missed something. I am not quite sure what, but if I ever make them again I will either add some unsweetened coconut flakes and maybe some lemon or orange juice.

The Apfelkuchen (yeast cake with apples) was delicious, as was expected because it is based on a recipe from my mom. However this cake really needs to be eaten within 2 days and tastes best fresh out of the oven. The recipe is quite simple, the cake consisting of a slightly sweet yeast dough, topped with cinnamon-sugar covered apples, and a mix of ground nuts, cream, egg, raisins, and the rest of the cinnamon-sugar left over from sprinkling the apples.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

East Coast Windsurfing Festival 2016

The ECWF Cape Cod 2016 was held on Kalmus Beach on September 17 & 18, and was a ton of fun! We had competitors from novices to pros duking it out in freestyle, racing, and GPS heats. The weather was near perfect with lots of sun and some planing winds on day 2.

Special thanks to all our sponsors who helped make the event a success! Especially amazing was the amount of support we got from local windsurfing business owners and the help from volunteers.

Mike Burns and Jeanne Baumann were crowned King and Queen of the Cape, showing us some amazing freestyle and first places in racing. Congratulations to all the winners and thanks for coming out to play!

Here are a few pictures, some taken by myself, some by Andrei Burnin:

Race start
Race start

Mike Burns freestyling
Jon Sassone during the pro freestyle heat

Beautiful longboards
D2 with self-made, wooden daggerboard and old school sail

Getting ready to race
Rounding the first buoy

...and more trophies

Starting the next heat
Happy winners