Daring Bakers – Gingerbread house

On the last day of the year I bring you this month’s Daring Bakers challenge 🙂 A challenge much to my liking I must say: making of a gingerbread house. A tradition that is not Dutch (or Croatian) at all. I very much enjoyed making the model, and decorating and constructing the house (even though my dough didn’t roll out very well as it kept cracking and I burnt my finger during construction with caramel).

After reading on the DB forum that one of the given recipes turned out very dry I checked the cup and metric measurements. There was a big difference between the amount of flour in cups and grams. I went with the cup measurements which was 200 g less flour than the metric measurement. Even though the dough was not really dry it didn’t became a whole. Could be because part of the flour I used was not very finely ground. An hour after making the dough I realized that I forgot to add the baking soda… oops! Didn’t think it would be a problem and maybe even an advantage as it wouldn’t puff up. Rolling out the dough (after another knead to make it come together a little more) couldn’t be done without the dough cracking. After baking the texture/look of the gingerbread was a bit odd and besides that it shrunk but the cookie was sturdy and kept its shape beautifully.

For decoration I went with natural items like almonds, pink peppercorns and pumpkin seeds. The icing is an egg white free icing that I’ve used before and like working with. It doesn’t dry up rock hard but hard enough imo.

Instead of decorating the roof after baking I used a small circular cutter to imprint the tiles for the roof. The imprints stayed exactly like they were after baking.

I assembled the house with hot caramel…always tricky to work with without burning oneself 😉

I loved doing this challenge and will be making a gingerbread house next year as well 🙂


The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Posted in Cookies (sweet) | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Daring Bakers -Cannoli

I’m pretty happy with myself, finished this month’s Daring Bakers challenge on time AND finished writing about it in time to post it on the 27th!

So this month we made cannoli. Not something that was very high on my to do list but I’ve always been curious about their taste. They are not something you would find in the Netherlands (or Austria I think). I’m not very big on frying so that’s something I very rarely do. But it’s good to practice now and then. I think I’ve only used ricotta once in my life and I didn’t like the cake I produced so I wasn’t sure I was going to like the filling. But since I like traditional baked goods, decided to stick with the original recipe anyway.

Cannoli forms is not something I own but I did have something similar that I purchased a few months ago: schaumrolle forms. Pretty much the same thing only smaller (6 cm / 2.4 in) and coated with teflon. I was in doubt if the teflon would appreciate being fried but I thought baking the cannoli in the oven wouldn’t be authentic enough. I tried frying it and the teflon seemed ok.

I made the dough as stated. When rolling it I used my new rolling pin with adjustable thickness rings (heaven to use!) and rolled it out to 2 mm (a little more than 1/16 in) thickness. The dough was easy enough to roll. I had egg left over so used that to seal the cannoli’s and this worked well too. Unfortunately after baking the dough the cannoli never turned out blistered even though the oil was hot enough as it took less than a minute to brown them. With the second batch I used the 1 mm (less than 1/16 in) ring for my rolling pin hoping that the thinner dough would give the blistering but even those didn’t blister 😦

For the filling I pretty much followed the recipe except I used grated chocolate instead of chopped, used almonds instead of pistachio nuts and added a few drops of orange essential oil in addition to the candied orange peel. Never thought that ricotta with some sugar and flavours would be this good 🙂 Nice substitute for buttercream on cakes, and less rich too, but probably everybody except me already knew this 😉

The filling combined with the bite size cannoli’s was good and I’m glad I finally got to taste real cannoli’s. I don’t think I will ever make them again though with all the work and frying involved. But that’s probably because I’m not a ‘fryer’ person.

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.


2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar

1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt

3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil

1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar

Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand

1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)

Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)

1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish

Confectioners’ sugar


2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained

1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted

1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean

3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice

2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange

3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios

Note – If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.


1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, oiled..lol). Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

6. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

7. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.


1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.

2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).


1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.

2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.

Posted in Pastries | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Daring Bakers – Lebkuchen macarons with dark chocolate ganache

Finally I made macarons 🙂 and all because they were last month’s Daring Bakers Challenge. Like the last few months I’m late in posting but this time I did actually finish the macarons on the 27th but still had to make the filling, fill them, photograph them and blog about them. And that took till now 😉

Though I love the look of vibrant colours in macarons, I didn’t think it fitted the lebkuchen flavour I had in mind. I was inspired by the shops here in Austria that carry about a zillion different types of lebkuchen towards Christmas…yum! The filling was a simple dark chocolate ganache which was a delicious match for the spicy taste of the macaron shells.

I baked the first batch as the recipe stated but drying the shells in the oven didn’t work out well for me. The shells sunk in while they were waiting for the oven to reach 190 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately they didn’t magically rise during baking. Besides that problem, the shells browned too much because of the high baking temperature. They did develop feet but they didn’t look like they were supposed to. The next two batches I went with one of Tartelette’s recipes: air drying the shells for 30-60 minutes and baking them at a lower temperature. The first of these batches I should have baked a little longer but the second came out more or less perfect…I was happy 🙂 The lebkuchen spices were delicious and the ground spices made the macarons browner than I antipated.

All in all making macaron’s wasn’t difficult and I even got the feet the first time round. Not sure if this was beginners luck or not but we’ll see how future batches will turn out. Next time I’ll try a more vibrant colour 🙂

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Posted in Cookies (sweet) | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Daring Bakers – Puff pastry

Another late Daring Baker challenge…

This month’s challenge was to make puff pastry and make some vols au vent with it. Even though there’s no picture of the vol au vents I did make them but they didn’t rise very well. Maybe the fact that I didn’t chill the dough prior to baking contributed to that. I didn’t make any pictures because I wanted to redo them. So a couple of days later I tried them again but I failed to flour the dough well enough The dough sticked to the surface and I wasn’t able to transfer the dough well enough to the baking sheet. The bottom disks were ok enough so I baked them but they ended up a bit oily and the layers where sort of sealed at the cutmarks. Maybe because I didn’t use cookie cutters but a round ring that was somewhat thicker. I didn’t think the disks were good enough to use so again no picture. Good thing I made some of these bite-size palmiers. Easy to make and delicious 🙂

Still have 2 portions of the puff pastry in the freezer, hope next time I make something with them it will turn out better. And if not, I’ll have to practice making more puff pastry 😉

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

You can find the recipe on A Whisk and a Spoon.

Posted in Cookies (sweet) | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Got Milk? – Round-up

I’m sorry about the delay in posting this round-up. Life has been very busy with moving into our new house and my eldest son going to school for the first time.

All is well in Vienna in our new house. Moving from an apartment without garden to a large house with garden is wonderful, I’m enjoying the space thoroughly. Finally room for all our stuff 🙂 Haven’t done much baking besides potatoes, veggies and the Dobos torta but plan on baking more in the future. So stay tuned for that.

I loved reading all of the Got Milk? entries, some of which also including personal breastfeeding stories. Thank you!

Check out the entries:

Who – Josie of Pink Parsley

Where – Atlanta, GA, USA

WhatCherry Garcia Ice cream

Who – Sudeshna of Cook Like a Bong

Where – Bangalore, India

WhatMishti Doi (Caramelized yogurt)

Who – Mira Assjarif of Dapur Ipoek

Where – Bandung, Indonesia

WhatChocolate Scones

Who – Arfi of Homemades by Arfi

Where – New Zealand

What – Caramel Fudge

Who – Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen

Where – India

WhatPaal Payasam (South Indian Style Rice & Milk Dessert)

Who – Sofie of Violet’s Hill

Where – Indonesia

WhatBiscuit Layer Pudding

Who – Annie of Annie’s Eats

Where – Indianapolis, IN, USA

WhatDevil’s Food White Out Cake

Who – Veronika Rojas of The Hortts Hear a Who!

Where – Las Vegas, NV, USA

WhatChoconut Crazy Pecan Ice Cream

Who – Di of Di’s Kitchen Notebook

Where – Texas, USA

WhatRainbow Vanilla Ice Cream

Who – Kai of Bucaio

Where – Manila, Philippines

WhatPastillas De Leche

Who – me

Where – Vienna, Austria

What – Ginger and orange semolina pudding with blood orange sauce

Thank you all for your wonderful entries and stories!

If for some reason your entry is not here, email me and I’ll add you promptly: linda AT kovacevic DOT nl

Posted in Miscellaneous | 7 Comments

Daring Bakers – Dobos torta

Late again for the Daring Bakers challenge but not as much as last month 😉 Last weekend friends from the Netherlands stayed with us. Wanted to have the Dobos torta ready before they came on Friday but only managed to finish it Sunday afternoon… but at least I finished it! I followed the recipe but made 2/3 instead of the whole recipe. My cake had a 15 cm (6 in) diameter. The only thing I did differently was the buttercream. The cake was going to be eaten by my children too so I didn’t want to use the buttercream recipe issued that used partially cooked eggs. Instead I went with the original buttercream that’s in Rick Rodgers’ book that uses butter, cocoa, chocolate, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla.The cake wasn’t difficult to make but a little time-consuming. To cut the 6 cake layers I used a pizza cutter, worked like a charm. I loved making it as this cake was on my to-do list. The cake was good but just not really my taste so I’m sure I won’t be repeating it.

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

You can find the recipe at A Spoonful of Sugar and Not Quite Nigella.

Posted in Cakes | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Lemon loaf cake with rosemary and honey syrup

The heat was a bit less the last few days here in Croatia so I managed to make this loaf cake for Got Milk? to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. I’m glad that my little shmoopy isn’t too bothered with the heat and that my milk production is up and running to supply him with enough liquid and nutrition in the hot weather 🙂 Yay for breastmilk!

There is still time for you to join in, you have til Saturday to post a sweet dish that uses milk (dairy or non-dairy) as an ingredient. Check out my Got Milk? post for details on the event.

Tomorrow my three boys and I, together with my mum will fly to Vienna. A already returned last Sunday by car to meet the movers on Monday and Tuesday (yes, the house I mentioned came through). From Friday onward there will be a lot of unpacking and shlepping of furniture to create a new home in Vienna. I don’t know when our internet connection will be up and running so if I don’t reply to emails etc. you know why. I will try to post a round-up of Got Milk? as soon as I can 🙂

Lemon loaf cake with rosemary and honey syrup (adapted from this recipe)


1 1/2 cups water

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

3 sprigs of fresh rosemary

juice of 1 lemon


1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

125 g butter, softened

zest of 1 lemon

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups self raising flour

1/2 cup of milk

Preheat the oven to 170°C (350°F). Butter a loaf pan.

Mix the water, brown sugar, honey and rosemary and heat on low until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon juice and bring to a boil. Return to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Cream the brown sugar, white sugar and butter with an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add 1/3 of the flour and mix on low. Add 1/2 of the milk and mix on low. Repeat with flour, milk and end with flour.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes to one hour.

Remove the cake from the oven and spoon over the syrup and allow it to soak into the cake. Turn it out and let it cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

Serve with some unsweetened whipped cream.

Posted in Cakes | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments