Kuchen und Torten

I am so behind on blogging, it’s embarrassing. My draft folder is full. But there is something that keeps me from posting here. One and a half months ago I took up learning another language. Right now my head is spinning. I am trying to memorise personal pronouns, tense prefixes and suffixes, and weekdays. Before that I spent three weeks learning to trill the r. Which I was never able to do before, and believe me, I tried. But now, with the help of several Youtube videos (especially this and this one), I can do it most of the time if it’s surrounded by some nice vowels. I also learned to read and write. Yes, that is right. I am learning to read and write all over again. Because I left my European comfort zone by taking up an Arabic class.

I was always decent at learning languages – except for Latin, but that was because there’s no one to talk to unless you’re friends with the pope – and I guess that’s why I signed up for this new class without thinking twice. Well, it has been challenging. And slow. We learned to read, we’re practicing to write, and we’re doing tons of grammar. My small talk skills are still very lacking. But I guess I should be more patient.  I am getting a general concept of the language and that is very important and useful. It’s something you don’t feel you have at first when everything is written in letters you can’t read. When even the alphabet comes in a completely new order and with several letters you cannot pronounce. And when there’s not a single similarity to any other language you learned before. Because those languages were either related to Latin (Spanish) or Latin and German (English) or German (Norwegian).

All of this is very exiting but naturally it steals a lot of time. Time I would normally spent cooking and photographing for this blog. Instead of baking or reading other blogs,  I am now watching Arabic Youtube videos. Last Sunday, when I tried to practice for a dictation exercise, I was reminded that there was about a kilo of rhubarb in our kitchen. And  I had promised to make a cake. But what cake? My brain was toasted, I had no ideas for any kind of recipe. So I looked at my blog and decided to do a simplified version of a rhubarb pie I posted four years ago (wow!). At that time I felt bad for putting the recipe up. It was a delicious cake but it called for an uncommon ingredient: dandelion honey. Rhubarb is such a simple and humble vegetable, so why add something as fancy to the ingredient list of this pie? I probably was just super exited about my little jar of vegan honey. (To be honest, it’s not really fancy. You can make it at home, it’s made from sugar, water, and dandelion flowers.)Whatever, last Sunday I rewrote the recipe. The tart/pie is now made with the most accessible ingredients you can think of. It’s a simple recipe, with a very tender, sweet crust and  a tart filling that calls only for a hint of sugar. But there is a little twist to it. I made another batch of marshmallow fluff  for an easy and super sweet and sticky meringue topping. A perfect Sunday treat and some brain food that made learning those letters and prefixes a lot easier.

Notes: Refinded coconut oil is very common where I live. If you cannot get it and don’t mind the coconut flavour, use unrefined coconut oil instead. Margarine should work fine, too. To make the marshmallow fluff for this recipe, double the amount of sugar (100 g or 1 cup powdered sugar). You can also omit the fluff and use coconut whipped cream instead, or leave the tart naked.

rhubarb vanilla meringue tart |

Rhubarb Vanilla Meringue Tart


For the rhubarb filling
750 g rhubarb, sliced into 1 cm (1/2 inch) pieces (6 cups or 1 lb and 10 oz)
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
For the crust
1/4 teaspoon salt
250 g flour (2 cups plus 1/2 tablespoon)
200 g (1/2 cup) sugar
110 g (1/2 cup) soft refined coconut oil, cubed
zest of one orange
For the custard
240 ml (1 cup) soy milk
30 g (1/4 cup) cornstarch
50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
For the soft meringue
1 recipe marshmallow fluff made with 100 g (1 cup) powdered sugar


To make the filling, combine rhubarb, sugar, and cornstarch.

Let sit for about an hour and stir well from time to time.

To make the crust, mix salt, flour, and sugar in a bowl.

Add coconut oil and orange zest.

Mix with your hands and form into a crumbly dough.

Make sure the fat is incorporated well and there are no lumps of coconut oil remaining.

Grease a springform pan (26-27 cm or 10 inch) with fat.

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).

Pour the dough into the pan.

Press into the bottom and the sides of the pan. (Only line about 2.5 cm or 1 inch of the sides with dough. You just want a small border, so the filling doesn't leak.)Set aside.

For the custard, combine soy milk, cornstarch, and sugar in a small saucepan.

Whisk until the starch is dissolved and bring to a boil.

Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until thickened.

Pour over the crust.

Sprinkle rhubarb on top.

Bake for 40 minutes.

While the tart is baking, prepare the marshmallow fluff.

Transfer to a piping bag with a star tip right before the cake is done.

Pipe dollops on top of the tart, increase the temperature to 200°C (400°F) and bake for another 10 minutes, until the meringue is browned.

Let cool completely and remove from pan.

rhubarb vanilla meringue tart |

I made a resolution to post at least twice a week, but this resolution was crushed instantly when F woke up with a temperature of 40°C (104°F) a while ago. And then some random virus infection knocked her out for two weeks. At first she was fine. She’s always been one of those kids who don’t mind fever. She did enjoy being at home and we spent a lot of our time together cooking. But then one day I asked her if she wanted pancakes and if she’d like to prepare them. She didn’t. Instead her energy levels dropped and she needed a lot of rest. She spent over a week sleeping a lot and all she was eating were three spoonfuls of yoghurt per day.

It’s interesting how different we react to illness. When I get sick I try to ignore it, grab a pain killer and some tissues and do business as usual. I want to function alright. Sometimes it works, but a sinus infection or the flu will force me to bed just like anybody else. F intuitively did the right thing. She slept a lot and refused to eat. That last part drove me crazy because she’s usually a pretty decent eater. She got checked up at the doctor’s office a couple of times and the virus was accompanied by a bronchitis. I am not very good at being patient and I was dreaming of a shot or some super pill that would make my kid act normal again. I hated sitting at home and I wanted to go back to our regular schedule. Of course a couple of days later my vegan superpowers (just kidding) left me and I got the same bug. At least we were sharing our misery now.

I think I learned a lot during these two weeks. Not for the first time I had another lesson in parents don’t know best. Since a fever usually never lasts longer than 3-5 days with F I was pretty sure that she had to be seriously ill. I rolled my eyes when the doctor told my husband that all we could do was wait. They see these infections every day and even a hacking pertussis imitation cough won’t make them blink.  I couldn’t stand F refusing to eat day in day out. I didn’t really trust her body. But my child is tough and she knows what is best for her. Eventually the fever went away and she was feeling better. I realised this when I opened a cookbook at the table and she pointed out some brownies. She told me we had to make them. The next day we sent her back to kindergarten where she ate two servings of pasta for lunch. And when she came home, she ate two large squares of the brownies I had made for her. She was back to her old self.

A while ago we also made some white chocolate and lemon tartelettes together. Yes, the ones I told you about. But while we were stuck in our flat trying to beat that bug, you probably ate all of that chocolate spread I told you not to eat. Well, that’s okay. I don’t blame you. Because while we made these tartelettes we had a similar problem.  F asked me about a hundred times: “Can I eat some now?” Because we have a lot on common: We are very impatient and we like to eat dessert.

white chocolate lemon pies |


White Chocolate Lemon Tartelettes

For these vegan white chocolate and lemon tartelettes you won't need an oven. All you need is a little patience to let them set in the fridge.


For the crust
200 g (7 oz) craham crackers or shortbread cookies
2 tablespoons oil
For the filling
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons oat cream or coconut milk, divided
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon agar agar powder
2 teaspoons cornstarch
For the topping


Have 6 ramekins ready, about 9 cm in diameter.

To make the crust, combine crackers or cookies and oil in a food processor.

Process until coarsely cround.

Divide between the ramekins and press firmly into the bottom.

To make the filling, combine lemon juice, water, 4 tablespoons of oat cream and agar agar in a small saucepan.

Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream with the cornstarch and stir until dissolved.

Bring the lemon mixture to a boil and cook for 1 minute.

Add starch mixture and cook for another minute.

Pour into the ramekins.

To make the topping, place the spread in a small heat resistant bowl and melt over a water bath.

Pour over the filling and place the ramekins in the fridge, until the tartelettes have set.

Remove from fridge about 1 hour before serving.

white chocolate lemon pies |

marble bundt cake |

It’s been a week full of changes. Because of a birthday. Our daughter turned three and this means she had to switch daycare. The last two years we’ve been taking her to a child minder who looked after her and 4 other kids her age for 8 to 9 hours a day. It was a comfortable situation for us and for F. Our child minder is a wonderful person and we knew F had a great time with her. She became a very confident, open, and cheerful person and learned to do many things by herself. I knew she was taken seriously, given the attention she needed, and looked after constantly.

Now she’s a kindergarten kid, which means she has to share 2 kindergarten teachers with about 30 other kids. It’s been a shocking situation, but not for her. F is quite open to change and can deal with almost any situation. It’s really funny how children sometimes are much more grown up than adults (their parents) and can handle new situations better than them. The kindergarten has a 4 week settling down policy for the new kids, which means that we are not supposed to drop them off and leave. We go with your child for the first days to see how it goes and leave when the kid is ready. Which can take up to 4 weeks, if the parents are in the position to spent that much time there, of course. In our case F was way more ready than we. On the third day she was running around in the garden and it looked like she had completely forgotten about me. I asked the teacher if I should just leave for an hour and she said yes. So I said good-bye to F waiting for some protest. Only a little “do you really have to?” or “will you come back?” But nothing.  I left and returned after an hour. At that point F was still in the garden. I couldn’t even see her. I asked the teacher if everything had gone well and of course everything was fine. The teacher sent me away for another 45 minutes. In that time F was taken to lunch. When she finally left the lunch room I was sitting there waiting to take her home for the day. She told me all the things she had done by herself that day: she had helped herself with the food and she had eaten a lot, she had cleaned her table, and she had used the big slide in the garden all by herself. And usually she doesn’t even use a small slide all by herself.

I always thought that it’s important for children to have their own life. I know I am an important person to her, but I don’t want to be the only person being able care for her. I sometimes have to force myself to let go, I don’t always have to be in control. In my opinion this a good thing for every member of this family. When F was younger it meant I had some freedom despite having a very small baby. I didn’t have to be with her 24/7 to feed her, soothe her, or get her to sleep. Her father was as important to her as me and he could do all these things as well as me. I thought this was the way it was supposed to be and still it wasn’t easy to let go. Because from the moment I became pregnant everybody was hammering the idea into me that I, the mother, was responsible for my child and that nobody else cold take care of her as well as me. While this may be a great notion for some women, the way they want it to be, it’s just very scary for others. It’s often a burden, it’s way too much responsibility. It’s unnecessary and I think it’s not even true.

Still one of the hardest parts of parenting for me is learning to let go. I always feel the urge to be in control, to watch over everything and to protect my daughter. Being next to my daughter just watching can be very tough. She has to learn how to eats peanuts without choking, using her balance bike right next to the main street and not getting herself into an accident, or using her scissors without cutting her finger off. I have to learn to have confidence and trust in her. I have to smile while I feel like I am fainting. I have to walk away and realise that she doesn’t need you 24/7. She does well on her own. I have to let her live her own life at least for parts of the day, she has to make her own experiences so she can tell me about them and feel good about herself. And even though I have practiced this from the moment my daughter was born, even though I think it’s exactly the way it should be, the way I can raise a confident and independent child, I still haven’t accomplished it. So it’s not just her learning a lot of new things at kindergarten. It’s me too.

Okay, after this long and waxy post let’s finally get to the cake, which was F’s birthday cake. It’s a simple marble cake with a white and dark chocolate glaze. It’s moist but still firm, which is a really awesome cake feature if you give it to little kids. Well, probably it doesn’t matter what cake recipe you choose as long as you cover it in chocolate.

Please not that this cake may be a bit tricky to remove from the pan. Make sure to grease the bundt pan well and dust it with flour after greasing. After baking let it cool for one hour and then loosen the edges with a small knife.


Marble Bundt Cake

For the cake:
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
6 tablespoons hot water
seeds from one vanilla bean
180 ml (3/4 cup) oil
250 g (1 1/4 cups) sugar
120 g (1/2 cup) plain soy yoghurt
400 g (3 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
180 ml (3/4 cup) plain soy milk
4 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
2 tablespoons soy milk

For the glaze:
100 g (3.5 oz) white non-dairy chocolate
50 g (1.7 oz) dark chocolate

Grease a 23-cm (9-inch) bundt pan with coconut oil and dust it with all-purpose flour. Set aside. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
Mix flax seeds and hot water and set aside for 10 minutes.
Add oil, sugar, and vanilla to a large bowl and beat well for 1 minute. Add flax and soy yoghurt and beat again until everything is combined.
Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Pour milk on top and beat until the batter is smooth but not longer than a minute.
Pour half of the batter in a second bowl and add cocoa powder and soy milk.
Pour half of the cocoa batter into the bundt pan. Add half of the vanilla batter. Repeat. Run a fork through the batter to create a marbled pattern.
Bake for 60 t0 65 minutes until the cake is done. Stick a toothpick into the centre and if it comes out clean the cake is done.
Let cool for 60 minutes. Use a small knife (preferably a very flexible plastic knife) to loosen the edges, especially around the tube in the centre. Turn the pan around and let the cake slide on a cookie rack to cool completely.

Melt the white and dark chocolate separately.
Drizzle the white chocolate over the bundt cake, then pour the dark chocolate on top. Serve the cake once the chocolate has set completely. (I let my cake sit over night.)

lemon cream cake |

“This cake. I could eat it all by myself.” That is what my co-worker said after tasting this lemon cream cake. A well deserved compliment as I made this cake six times. I wanted it to be perfect.

“Six?” My co-workers looked at me weirdly and doubtfully. “Why are you doing that?” Well, I might have been a tiny bit obsessed by an idea I had in my head. I needed a really good sponge cake. Something not too moist and not too dry. I needed exactly the right consistency, not too crumbly but also not too dense. Perfect for slicing but also perfect for eating. And my sixth cake was exactly the way I had wanted it to be. But it was not only the cake that had to be perfect. I wanted a perfect topping, too. I had set my mind on an almond cream topping but no matter how much I tweaked my recipe, it just didn’t turn out the way I wanted it. The consistency was always wrong. For my last cake I gave up and placed a can of coconut milk in the fridge. The next day I was going to make a simple coconut whipped cream with only four ingredients: coconut cream, sugar, lemon, and vanilla. But that didn’t happen. My coconut milk didn’t set. At that point I was about to throw the damn cake out of the window.

But then I remembered that in Germany people make their whipped cream toppings with whipping cream stabiliser. It is a mix of starches and it will help the cream keep its shape for cakes and decorations. And it makes vegan whipped cream, too. We have liquid vegan cream that can be whipped with the help of a stabiliser. I still never use this product because I hear it’s not super common outside of Europe and I want my recipes to be accesible. Plus, my father makes the most amazing cream cakes without ever touching an envelope of that magic powder. So I used to think that it’s unnecessary. But sometimes I change my opinion. Especially when I need to save a runny frosting. Because I wanted my cake. So I looked up the ingredients. The mix of starches and thickeners looked very similar to what was printed on the back of my egg-replacer box. A product I also hardly use. But this time it made my topping fabulous and my cake perfect.

I know the ingredient list for this topping now looks a little bit complicated. You could probably do without it and make a simple coconut whipped cream to top your cake with. But it will not be the same. This lemon coconut cream the opposite of a buttercream frosting: it is light and fresh, only slightly sweet and tastes exactly the way I think a cream topping should taste. The lemon masks some of the coconut flavour and has a more complex flavour than coconut whipped cream. And it goes so well with that sponge cake!

Variation for a fabulous vanilla cake: Replace 100 g sugar (1/2 cup) with 100 g (1 cup sifted) home-made vanilla sugar and leave out the lemon zest. Make the topping with soy milk instead of lemon juice and use vanilla sugar instead of powdered sugar.

vegan lemon cream cake | Recipe Lemon Cream Cake (1 8 inch or 20 cm springform pan) Ingredients: For the cake: 240 ml (1 cup) soy milk 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 250g (1 and 1/4 cups) sugar 120 g (1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons) softened refined coconut oil 300 g (2 and 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour 3 teaspoons baking powder 1/8 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground vanilla zest of one large lemon For the topping: 60 ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice 1 teaspoon agar agar powder 1 (400 ml) can coconut milk 60 g (1/2 cup unsifted) powdered sugar 2 teaspoons egg replacer (I use Orgran No-Egg) 25 g (3 tablespoons) cornstarch 1/8 teaspoon ground vanilla

The day before prepare the cake: Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Grease and flour a 20 cm (8 inch) springform pan and set aside.

Pour soymilk into a bowl and add vinegar and whisk together.

Combine sugar and coconut oil and use a hand-held mixer to whip. Whip until light and fluffy, which can take 2-5 minutes.

Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix and then add soymilk mixture and remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. This works best with a hand-held mixer as the cake batter will be very thick and stiff. Please do not add more liquid, the batter has to be that stiff. Also try not to over-mix the cake.

Pour into prepared cake pan and bake for 40-43 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Release the cake with the help of a knife: Run the knife around the edge and carefully open the pan. Set aside over night, you can cover it with foil if you like.

On the next day carefully slice the cake into two layers and prepare the filling:

Place the lemon juice in a small saucepan. Whisk in the agar agar and bring to a boil. Cook for two minutes and remove from heat. Pour the coconut milk into a tall and narrow bowl. Add agar mixture and mix well. Place in the freezer for 45 minutes to cool. It should have a light but firm mouuse when you remove it.

Add remaining ingredients and beat for two minutes. The topping should now have a thick but runny consistency. Place in the freezer for another hour.

When you remove it,  it should have thickened a bit more but will still be very spreadable. It should look like only slightly whipped whipped cream. Spread half of the topping on top of bottom cake layer. Carefully place the second layer on top and cover the rest of the cake with the topping. Place in the fridge for at least two hours before serving. Use a very sharp knife to carefully slice the cake.

vegan lemon cream cake |