Today we celebrated the final day of Fasching, which is the German equivalent of Carnival or Mardi Gras. It’s a lot of fun- everyone dresses up, has parties, and eats delicious Berliners and Krapfen (both names for fabulous filled donuts)! Each year, my oldest son’s school celebrates Fasching with a big parade around base, led by a local band and officiated by the Mayor and Assistant Mayor of Grafenwoehr. The kids loved being able to wear their costumes almost as much as they loved having an excuse to get out of class and walk around in the sunshine that actually made an appearance today! (According to our wonderful German Host Nation teacher, “when Angels travel, God makes the sun shine down,” but I have some doubts about how very angelic we were, my own child in particular…)
After the main event, all of the dignitaries gathered for some well-deserved refreshments. Of course, when the call for American baked goods went out (our cakes and cookies are very different from their German counterparts, so they’re a bit of a rare treat around here), I started making a list of what to bring! Once I’d finally whittled my wish list from twelve recipes down to three, I ended up making Chocolate Chip Banana Bread with Shiny Chocolate Glaze, a fabulous Lemon Almond Poppyseed Cake that I found at Odense.com, and one of my all-time favorites, Kransekake Drops. It was a great day, but let me tell you, I’m completely sugared-out!
Kransekake is a traditional Norwegian cookie that is usually baked in ring forms to make a series of graduated rings that are then stacked into a pyramid with a powdered sugar frosting ‘cement’ and decorated with flags and other trinkets (visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kransekake to find out more). This is my variation for every-day Kransekake- it’s a lot quicker and more portable than the traditional tower!
- 1 LB Confectioner’s Sugar
- 1 LB Blanched almonds OR 1 LB almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
- 2 TSP Almond extract
- 3 Egg whites
- Farina (Cream of Wheat)
- Crush the almonds in a blender or food processor until they’re a fine powder (skip this step if you’re using almond flour)
- Combine the almonds with the confectioner’s sugar
- Whip the egg whites until a little frothy and add the almond extract
- Combine the almond/sugar mixture with the egg white mixture
- Put the mixture in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight, until hardened
- Pre-heat oven to 350*F
- Grease cookie sheets with Crisco and line with farina (I line the pans with parchment or aluminum foil first- it makes clean-up MUCH easier!)
- Drop balls of dough on the cookie sheet with a cookie scoop
- Bake at 350* until a light golden brown, approx. 15-20 minutes (watch the first batch closely, as ovens vary)
- Remove cookies from sheet to cool
- Drizzle or dip cookies with either melted chocolate chips or sugar glaze (take ½ LB of confectioner’s sugar and slowly add milk until it reaches a spreadable consistency). I love these with a drizzle of dark chocolate- it balances out the sweetness beautifully!
- Store in a sealed container with a piece of white bread, changing the bread every day or so to keep the cookies soft and moist
Lemon Almond Poppyseed Cake
Originally published at www.Odense.com, a fabulous source for recipes and inspiration!
- 1-7 oz box Odense Almond Paste, grated (Sadly, I can’t get Odense Almond Paste over here without considerable planning, so I used an 8 ounce can of almond paste from another company that I can get around the holidays. It worked just fine, but I really do prefer the Odense if I can get it!)
- 2 lemons (Depending on size, you may want three lemons to get more lemon rind for your cake)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Scant 1/4 cup poppy seeds (I didn’t go scant, but I’m a poppy seed fan…)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 4-6 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Optional: 1-2 drops yellow food coloring
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour fluted pan. (I used a baking spray with flour- MUCH easier with a pan that has a lot of detail!)
- Grate 1 tablespoon of lemon rind on smallest hole of grater, being careful not to get the pith (white part of rind). Set rind aside. Squeeze juice and reserve for icing. (I felt that the cake needed a bit more lemon rind- I used closer to 1 1/2 tablespoons)
- In a mixing bowl beat grated Almond Paste, sugar and butter on high speed until well combined.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Beat on high three minutes, or until light colored and fluffy.
- Sift flour with baking powder and baking soda. Mix grated rind and poppy seeds into flour. Add flour mixture to batter alternately with sour cream. Beat on low until just combined and smooth. Do not over mix.
- Spoon batter into pan, and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until cake turns golden and a toothpick inserted near cake middle pulls out clean.
- Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert cake on wire rack and cool completely. Drizzle with icing or dust with powdered sugar.
- Icing: In a small bowl mix the powdered sugar, 4-6 teaspoons of lemon juice and almond extract until smooth. Add a drop of yellow food color if desired. Drizzle icing around top of cake and let it run down the sides. (Again, I felt a need for a bit more lemon- I just kept adding more juice until the taste was strong enough, and then I added a bit more powdered sugar to get the texture where I wanted it to be. I also doubled the icing recipe, because there can never be too much lemon glaze!)
- For an extra festive touch decorate with marzipan lemons or grated lemon peel. (As seen in the picture above, I went with the lemon peel this time- there wasn’t enough time for marzipan artwork…)
- To Store: After completely cooled, wrap in plastic wrap. The cake will last three days at room temperature or one week if refrigerated.
- To Freeze: Wrap un-iced cake first in plastic and then with foil. Freeze for up to one month.
For the full Chocolate Chip Banana Bread recipe, visit my Muffins for the Masses post from last December!
It’s been a busy day of baking, celebration, and running backwards to keep ahead of the kids during the parade while taking many, many pictures, so I’m about ready to call it a night. I hope that you have a great Fasching, Carnival, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, or whatever else you may call it. Enjoy, and happy baking!