May I introduce to you: Helene. She won the Easter Giveaway Contest and was quite excited about the cookie cutter from the beginning. They arrived in New Zealand on time and she sent me a pictures of her cookie. So I asked her if she would be so kind to write a guest post for the blog. She had the same thought and was happy to write something for me. Here is her thoughts on baking, cookies and blog entries.
As the winner of the Easter-prize, Andrea asked me to write a guest blog entry. I am very happy to do that – it is quite an honour for me! Thanks
Well, it seems like this will be the first guest blog entry here, but at the same time it is my first blog entry at all! I love reading blogs, especially about food as well sustainability and environmental issues, but I have never written my own blog so far. The biggest hurdle for me is coming up with a name for the blog. But I already have a little collection of blog-entry-ideas in this folder sitting on my desktop. But anyway, here my first try
When it comes to baking or cooking one should know that I usually don’t follow recipes exactly. I love browsing through a number of different recipes and pick some nice ingredients that I like about this one and that one, get an idea from this website and that cooking book and so on. That way, it is of course, a bit risky, because as some people say: baking is science and too much baking powder, for example, can turn a cake into a brick. But I guess, since I have been helping my mom in the kitchen since I am a little girl, I probably got some experience with baking and enjoy experimenting with ingredients. It also allows you to adjust recipes to your current mood. Might be the case that I have times when I adore cinnamon and use it for cakes and all sorts of recipes, and other times, when I cannot even smell it. No – I am not pregnant, but I guess it depends on the weather. Now that I live in New Zealand I love cinnamon in winter, but around Christmas time, it is far too warm for those Christmas-y and traditional recipes and I go for fruit, yoghurt, vanilla and so on. It just allows you to be a bit creative and usually, friends and family love to try out new things. Apart from the experimenting-adventure, I think it could also be my mom’s ‘fault’ that I don’t follow recipes step by step: When I was abroad for a year after finishing school, I needed her famous Quarkkuchen-recipe, one that everyone loves and that has always been a success! I wanted to thank my Chilean family for having me and thought this might be perfect to show them how happy I was staying with them. So instead of sending me precise step-by-step instructions, my mom only send a list of ingredients. Mon dieu! No quantities, no oven temperature, no time how long the whole thing would be in the oven….So I called her and she said: You will figure it out. Yes, and I did. And it allowed me to try the ‘Quark’ and the pastry during the baking process and it was so much more fun!
On the other side, there is nothing wrong with the good, old, traditional family recipes and today I want to share a very simple and yummy one with you.
When the cookie cutters arrived, I was very excited to bake some Spring-Easter-Cookies (although it is autumn in NZ, but the weather is still wonderful and one could think it is spring). Since there are no famous Easter-Cookies in my family recipe book, I decided to use the ‘Weihnachtsplaetzchen-Rezept’, the one we use for our Christmas cookies every year. This recipe is very simple and straight forward, but surprisingly, people seem to love it a lot. When I made about 10 different Christmas cookies and pralines last year, each of them very time-consuming and fancy and new and you know, the whole list of adjectives, my boyfriend’s dad loved those traditional cookies the most. And I must admit: They are lovely. So here we go:
- 500g flour
- 300 g sugar
- 250 soft butter
- 2 eggs
- vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract, my remark)
- 1 tsp baking powder
Now mix all these ingredients in a bowl until well-combined. If it is too sticky, just add some more flour. Then put some flour on your kitchen counter and roll out the dough (or start with a third or half of it). Then use the cookie cutters and cut out as many cookies as you can. Put them on an oven tray (with baking paper). Use the leftover pastry and roll it out again or mix with the other third/half of the dough and keep doing this until all your dough has been transformed into lovely little easter-spring-christmas-shaped cookies.
Put them in the oven and bake until golden. Don’t leave them in there for too long, because they turn brown very quickly. I usually take them out when they are just about to turn brown on the edges or even a second before that. You will figure it out ( I guess, around 20 min, but be aware that the first load takes longer than the second, and if half way through you add another tray, this might changes things as well, so really just check every now and then). They are probably still a bit soft when you take them out, but once they get colder they will be perfectly fine.
Ok, so part one is done successfully, and then I got to the ‘scary’ part. Usually, Germans, or at least my mom, don’t do intense icing. We would make a mix out of lemon juice and icing sugar, put that on top of the cookies and sprinkle them with sprinkles. Or, we would use those sugar-pens and draw little things on our cookies.
Since I know that Andrea spends lots of time decorating her cakes and cookies so she can compete with the Masterchefs globally, I thought I should at least give it a try and make some icing, that’s fancier than the lemon-mix, but still doable for me.
So I mixed icing sugar, a bit of water and also some butter to create my icing. And then added some food colouring so I could cover the cookies with all sorts of different colours: green, yellow, red, but I also mixed orange. For brown, I simply added some chocolate powder.
I just tried out how it would work best, so too much water makes it too liquid, but too little water makes it too hard to put on the cookie. I ended up mixing it with my finger and putting it on the cookie, because that was the most precise and easiest technique for me. I am sure, not the most professional.
Well, my flatmates were happy about the result, shape, decoration as well as taste, so was my boyfriend. Easter is over, and the cookie box is empty, I guess they can’t be too bad. The family in Germany couldn’t try so far, but they all got a photo instead of an Easter card. Since my sister travels back to Germany in a few days, she will take a small sample for mom and dad and the grandparents.
Quite some international cookies: German recipe, Canadian cookie cutters, made in New Zealand.
Happy Baking und Gutes Gelingen, as we would say in Germany.
Thanks again Andrea, for this lovely Easter present that you sent around the world.