For my last post, I was invited to bake... and write... for Mowie over at Mowielicious. I proudly carried over a little something I whipped up in my kitchen, something I created just for Mowie and his stunning little blog, the most elegant creation this simple girl could whip up. Now, my friend Mowie has returned the favor. A knock on my door very early this Saturday morning and there he is, Mowie, standing on my doorstep just waiting to be invited in. He blows me a kiss and pushes past me, rushing towards the kitchen in his excitement. "I have a wonderful surprise for you!" he laughs as he ties on an apron and starts rummaging around my kitchen for pots and pans, whisks and spoons. So after making sure that he's comfortable and has found everything he needs, I tip-toe out of the room, grab the novel I've been reading and go and curl up on the sofa with Marty and wait for the magic to happen, for Mowie only creates the beautiful, the luscious, the divine. Thank you, my dear friend, for all that you've given me. And here is Mowie's wonderful guest post and his fabulous Frankfurter Kranz Gattines!
Life is a funny thing, isn't it?
Before I get into this post, I would just like to point out that I'm no Jamie in the writing department. Even though I write a blog, I am mostly hiding behind my camera clicking the shutter button. I prefer that to sitting behind my screen, clicking the keypad buttons.
Baking has always been like alchemy to me: bringing things together, mixing them up and creating something completely different, something whole, something new, like a cake, that can't be undone back into each of its original ingredients. I compare Jamies writing to alchemy as it truly is a form of magic: stringing bits of the alphabet together to create something beautiful, that touches the reader deeply on an emotional level, and satiates, just like any good cake, until the hunger pangs strike again, and all you want is some more good writing (and some more good cake!).
Jamie's path crossed mine recently, shortly before she lost her brother. Our friendship had been growing since, and when I'd heard of her loss, I knew exactly what she was going through, having lost my own brother not too long ago myself. Many emails later, much comfort was exchanged, but more importantly much laughter was shared as we realised we had almost exactly the same sense of humour. A bond formed and we started to build on the layers of our friendship, one that I feel will grow even stronger in time. The funny thing is, we haven't physically met yet, and out of our sadness was borne happiness. Life really is a funny thing, isn't it?
So, like the layers of our friendship, I thought I'd have to choose a fitting dessert to match, one that shows light, colour and is my favourite dessert of all. The original is called Frankfurter Kranz (literally, the crown of Frankfurt) and it is a very traditional German gateau. On my yearly trips to visit my grandmother, I knew she would always have some Frankfurter Kranz waiting for me, having worked on it for hours beforehand. As a child growing up, this cake was a piece of heaven on a plate for me, and it still is. What makes it so special are the many layers of buttercream and jam that hold it all together.
I remember my grandmother would spend hours on this cake making it just perfect, and getting as many layers as she could out of it. The original that gets served in cafes and restaurants never has more than three layers of buttercream, but when my grandmother whips one of these beauties up, she creates 6, 7, sometimes even 8 layers - not an easy feat, considering the original size of the cake to begin with - a true work of art. This cake really is a masterpiece when done properly and I was hoping I could create something just as special for Jamie.
I really love deconstructing recipes and starting from scratch, again, like alchemy, hopefully creating something new in the process. For this guest post I've made some Gattines (Gateaux in a glass), and given my recent obsession with all things verrines, it only seemed apt. A bottom layer of plump, juicy cherries I had left over from summer which I'd had in a jar of syrup, another layer of a very light vanilla buttercream topped with some lightly caramelized chopped almonds, and covered with a layer of spongecake. I also had some coconut macaroons in the cupboard that I thought completed this dessert perfectly. I hope you enjoy the final result as much as Jamie did.
MOWIE'S FRANKFURTER KRANZ GATTINES
Makes 9 Gattines:
You will need 10 empty glasses (make sure you leave the 10th glass empty for the last step!)
It's best to start with the bottom layer as it can be left to solidify in the time you get the other ingredients ready.
For the cherry jelly layer:
1 jar of cherries in syrup
1 pack of gelatine (I used 1 pack of agar seaweed flakes, as I'm not a big fan of gelatine)
1. Sift the cherries, making sure to collect the syrup.
2. Heat the syrup to a gentle boil and remove from the heat.
3. Stir in the gelatine (or agar).
4. Pour some into each glass, making sure it fills 1/3 of the glasses only.
5. Place 5-6 cherries into the syrup, and place glasses by a window to cool, and once cooled down, refrigerate. Only continue the next steps once the cherry syrup has solidified.
For the buttercream layer:
300ml vanilla custard
1 pack gelatine or agar flakes
1. Whip the butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
2. Heat custard until warm and take off the heat. Prepare gelatine/agar as per pack instructions by dissolving in hot water.
3. Whisking constantly, pour the gelatine/agar into the warm custard and mix well.
4. Pour on top of the solidified cherry syrup in the glass, filling the next 1/3 of the glass, leaving the top third for the next few steps. Place glasses back in the fridge to allow the buttercream to solidify.
For the caramelized nuts:
150g almonds, chopped roughly
1. Melt the butter in a pan.
2. Add the sugar and butter and mix.
3. Keep stirring until the nuts start to go brown. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
4. Place a thin layer over the solidified buttercream in the glasses.
For the sponge cake:
100g butter, at room temperature
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod (or 1 tsp vanilla essence)
Juice of half a lemon
1 pinch of salt
3 medium eggs
2 tsps baking powder
1. Preheat oven to 180˙C. Butter a baking tray (roughly 30cm x 30cm). Whip the butter with an electric mixer until the colour lightens.
2. Add the sugar, vanilla, lemon and salt and mix thoroughly.
3. Add one egg at a time, making sure to mix into the batter for at least one minute per egg.
4. Mix the flour, cornflour and baking powder together and fold into the batter in two additions.
5. Pour batter into baking tray and bake for roughly 30 minutes. Test by inserting a metal skewer into the middle of the cake. If nothing sticks to the skewer when you take it out, the cake is ready. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, use an upside down empty glass to cut out the final layers of spongecake to fit snugly on top of the gattines.
6. Place each spongecake layer onto the top of the nut layer in each glass. Decorate with whipped cream, biscuits or flowers.