The Kiwi’s Rock Cakes

Growing up in New Zealand, Rock Cakes were a Kiwi classic known to practically every family through their presence in the ubiquitous Edmonds Cook Book—the mainstay of Kiwi home baking for the better part of a century. We used to eat them at half-time while watching rugby on TV, or as a treat for lunch on a cold winter Sunday. This Sunday being the occasion of the Super Bowl, you {not us though—we don’t have a TV} have the opportunity to sort-of combine both. Maybe eat them halfway through the first quarter, before they get cold.

This recipe is adapted from an ancient version of the venerable Edmonds Cook Book owned by my maternal grandmother, and originally used Edmonds “Cake Baking Powder”. This was a substance introduced during wartime rationing to replace eggs. Lauren tells me that egg is used not only as a binding agent but also as a leavening agent, and I believe Cake Baking Powder fulfilled the latter purpose. When it was eventually withdrawn from sale in the late 1980s, it was to howls of protest, widespread stockpiling and supermarket riots as old grannies fought each other in the aisles for the last few cans as over baseball bats in a Zombie Apocalypse. OK, I made that last part up, but the stockpiling was real.

Cake Baking Powder was replaced in this recipe by regular Baking Powder, and everyone agreed that you couldn’t tell the difference.

The Kiwi's Rock Cakes from Kiwi and Peach

Rock Cakes

{makes 8-10 cakes}

110g {4 ounces} butter
¼ cup sugar
1¾ cups flour
110g {4 ounces} dried currants
1 heaping tsp baking powder
½ cup milk

Preheat the oven to 390°F/200°C.

In a large bowl, soften {but do not melt} the butter in the microwave. Cream the butter and sugar together, then sift in the rest of the dry ingredients and add the currants. Add enough milk to make the dough stiff—the measurement is not exact and depends on how soft the butter is.

Cover a cold baking tray with baking paper and spoon around 8–10 dollops of your mixture onto it using a pair of spoons. Don’t worry about making them neat and round—that’s very much not the point here.

The Kiwi's Rock Cakes from Kiwi and Peach

Bake at 390°F/200°C for 15–20 minutes until they just start to turn brown {test with a skewer if you’re not sure}. Turn them out onto a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.

Rock Cakes are best eaten warm, liberally buttered on the flat side. They’re good with jam too. And, if you want, they’re not a bad snack to have around for the next days lunch. Butter a pair and stick them together and you can even take them to work with you without making too big a mess.

The Kiwi's Rock Cakes from Kiwi and Peach

Oliebollen: A New Year Staple

It wouldn’t be New Year’s without Oliebollen!

Lauren has turned the blog over to me {the Kiwi} for the day to tell y’all about this Dutch New Year’s Eve tradition which, alongside the excellent Apple Cake, is one of the many perks of having Dutch grandparents. The name Oliebollen literally means “oil balls”, but don’t let that put you off—they’re essentially a deep-fried fruit dumpling, a bit like a doughnut. When I was young, my grandmother used to make them every New Year’s Eve without fail. When she was no longer able to do so, the mantle passed to my uncle. Despite not being Dutch himself, he threw himself into the task of developing the perfect oliebol with an energy reminiscent of my later {successful} quest to master Southern Biscuits.

Last year at this time we were in New Zealand, and thus able to sample the delicacy for the first time in 3 years. Now we are half a world away again, and after the second or third emailed photograph {sent deliberately, I suspect, to torture me} I decided to just make my own. The results were not up to the level of a practiced master in terms of shape, but they were better than adequate. Not bad for a first effort! This recipe is adapted from my uncle’s—chiefly in reducing it by a factor of four{!}—which was in turn adapted from my grandmother’s.

The term “mixed fruit” will be familiar to fellow Kiwis as a ready-made confection of raisins, sultanas, currants and dried orange peel that is available in any supermarket. {Avoid the ones containing fake cherries though, which is most of them.} You can make your own by just combining those individual ingredients. I just used whatever we had lying around, which happened to be raisins and dried cranberries. Note that this fruit has to be soaked for at least 8 hours before you begin, so start early.

The key to success, I am reliably informed, is to keep the temperature of the oil low enough to cook the oliebollen all the way through before the outside is burned to a crisp.

Oliebollen: A New Year Staple from Kiwi and Peach

Oliebollen

{makes about 8}

250g {½ lb} mixed fruit
½ cup milk
¼ cup warm water
1¾ cups plain flour
1½ tsp sugar
7.5g {¼ oz} butter
15g {½ oz} dry yeast
¼ egg {about a teaspoon once it’s beaten}
squirt of lemon juice
about 1L {1 quart} canola oil or other vegetable oil {I used rice bran oil.}

Wash and then soak the mixed fruit in water overnight {or for at least 8 hours}.

Preheat your oven to around 100°C/220°F.

Pour the milk and water into a large mixing bowl. The resulting liquid needs to be lukewarm—though be sure to keep it below 40°C/100°F, otherwise it will kill the yeast.

Beat the egg and melt the butter. Stirring in one direction only, add the flour, sugar, egg, butter and lemon juice into the milk and water. Drain the water from the fruit and stir that through as well. The resulting mixture should be sloppy, but not runny since you have to form it into balls later. If it’s not quite right, add a little extra milk or flour as required. Finally, stir in the yeast.

Switch the oven off. Cover the bowl with a clean, moist tea-towel and place it in the warm oven for 25-30 minutes, until the mixture has roughly doubled in size. While the dough is rising, begin heating the cooking oil to a moderate heat. {I set the dial exactly halfway on the stove, and it turned out perfect.} You’ll be deep-frying, so try to use a pot with a fairly small base to minimise the amount of oil you need.

When both the dough and the oil are ready, you can begin frying the oliebollen. Scoop the batter into round balls using a large tablespoon and a rubber spatula. Fry them until golden brown {not dark brown}. They will continue cooking for a little while after you remove them from the pot, so it’s OK to take them out when they are still slightly undercooked. Use a kebab skewer or similar implement to check if they are done.

Oliebollen are best served warm and fresh, though if you’re making a double or quadruple batch you can, and we usually do, keep them in the fridge for several days. {They can be reheated in the microwave too, though not without introducing a little bit of sogginess.} Sprinkle them with icing sugar {aka powdered sugar, or confectioners sugar} through a sieve before eating.

Dutch Apple Cake

As a part of my Christmas gift, in addition to some amazingly awesome Wüsthof knives and the fact that he built us a freaking bed {more on that later}, the Kiwi has agreed to share the recipe for one of his family’s Christmas traditions—Dutch Apple Cake. Am I one lucky girl or what? 

But back to the apple cake, this stuff is delicious. You’re going to want to go ahead and make it immediately. It’s Christmas… in your mouth.


My Grandparents were from the Netherlands, and this recipe has always been a staple of my Dad’s baking. When I was young I used to help him make it—a favourite challenge was to try to peel a whole apple in a single continuous spiral. And then eat it likewise. Later on I learned to make it myself, and it became a staple for any occasion requiring a cake in the Autumn or early Winter, when apples are fresh and those delicious cinnamon spices taste just perfect. Dad always makes one of these at Christmas too, though of course that falls in the middle of Summer in New Zealand.

Now that I find myself in the northern hemisphere, Christmas coincides with the perfect season for apple cake, so there’s even more reason to make it. In fact, after serving it to Lauren’s family at Christmas lunch yesterday, I’ve been put on notice that this will be My Job every Christmas for the foreseeable future.

By the way, making whipped cream is trivial as long as you have electric beaters—and you don’t need to add a truckload of sugar. If your whipped cream comes out of a can you’re doing it wrong, and that goes double if the can doesn’t actually contain any cream, in the sense of having come out of a cow.

You might think of this as more of a pie than a cake. I just think of it as delicious.

Dutch Apple Cake from Kiwi and Peach

Dutch Apple Cake

The Crust
¾ cup sugar
225g {8 ounces} butter
2⅔ cups self raising flour

The Filling
5 Granny Smith apples
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp self raising flour
1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg

Whipped Cream
300mL {1/2 pint} cream
1 tsp sugar

Cream the butter and the sugar. {Melting the butter in the microwave makes this easy.} Then mix in the flour until it forms a dough. Expect to use your hands. Form the dough into a blob, wrap it in Glad wrap and put it in the fridge to chill while you prepare the filling.

Peel the apples, remove the cores. Over a large mixing bowl, cut them into cubes of about 1cm. Add the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Beat the egg and add half of it to the filling to bind the dry ingredients. Reserve the other half of the egg for glazing at the end.

Start preheating your oven to 180°C/355°F.

Butter a 9 inch expandable cake pan, or something of roughly equivalent size {ideally with a removable bottom}. Take around ⅝ of the dough from the fridge and press it out to cover the bottom of the tin and about an inch up the sides. Pour the filling in and pat it down with a fork until it is roughly level.

It’s at this point that Dad would let me eat whatever filling mixture was left over that wouldn’t fit in the cake. {I’m pretty sure he adds an extra apple to ensure overflow.} Don’t try this at home, kids! Remember, we’re not at home to Mr. Salmonella. {Though the risk is not high, it’s pretty unpleasant if you win the lottery.}

Roll or press out the remaining dough into a layer of about the same thickness as the sides/bottom of the cake. Cut it into strips about 1½ cm wide and lay them on top of the cake in a latticework arrangement. It’s fine to join together shorter strips, and at some point you’ll probably have to recombine the remnants and roll them out again—just beware, once it warms up the dough becomes very difficult to work with. Bonus: you get to eat any leftovers.

Sprinkle the top of the cake lightly with a little more cinnamon, then brush the remaining egg over the top with a pastry brush.

Bake at 180°C {355°F} for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Serve warm {outstanding} or cold {still very good} with freshly-whipped cream.

Dutch Apple Cake from Kiwi and Peach

No-Bake Date Ball Cookies

Every Christmas since I can remember my mom has made two special treats. One, so simple and straight forward that it hardly needs a recipe, is her white chocolate covered pretzels with peanuts. Those we would make multiple batches of, wrap them up, and give as gifts. The other special treat we kept for ourselves.

Each year as we were preparing to bake, my mom would get her recipe box down from above the fridge and extract the stained index card that held the recipe. Neither of us know where it came from, but we are thankful for it none-the-less. She would make the candy bit, I would mix in the krispies, she would roll the piping hot mixture into balls, and I would roll them in powdered sugar.

No-Bake Date Ball Cookies from Kiwi and Peach

Is it healthy? Certainly not, but it’s Christmas and it’s tradition.

No-Bake Date Ball Cookies from Kiwi and Peach

What’s your favorite Christmas tradition? 

Besides the baking, my other favorite tradition is having breakfast for dinner on Christmas Eve. This year the Kiwi is making his famous buttermilk biscuits, I’m making my goat cheese grits, and we’re having scramblers with bacon and the left over goat cheese. It is going to be so good!

No-Bake Date Ball Cookies from Kiwi and Peach

No-Bake Date Ball Cookies

{makes about 35-40 balls}

The Candy
1/2 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
8 ounces of dates, pitted and chopped
1 tsp vanilla
a pinch of salt

The Krispy
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup coconut, shredded
2 cups of rice krispies cereal

about 1/4 cup powdered sugar for rolling

In a medium sized pot on low heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, and dates. Stir it around to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar. Let it simmer until it begins to be frothy and bubbly. Stir in the vanilla and salt then take the pot off the heat.

{The original recipe says to simmer for 5 minutes, but you don’t want to burn it. If its really frothy and bubbling before 5 minutes go ahead and take it off the heat or your end product will be rock hard.}

Mix in the pecans, coconut, and rice krispies and let it cool for about 5 minutes or until you can stand to touch it.

Pour your powdered sugar into a bowl you can roll the cookies around in.

Once it doesn’t feel like you’re holding a handful of hot coal, roll bits of the mixture into 1 inch balls and drop them into the bowl of powdered sugar. Roll them around a bit until they are lightly covered then, being sure to knock off the extra sugar, transfer them to your Christmas cookie tin and you’re finished!

Merry Christmas y’all!

Orange Honey Glühwein

As November becomes December, a wonderful thing starts to happen in Munich. Little stalls adorned with branches of pine and probably a few deer antlers start to pop up in squares, fields, and courtyards all over the city and really, the country. Selling everything from Christmas kitsch to handmade treasures, lebkuchen, and stollen, these stalls always seem to be buzzing with people enjoying the season and getting a bit of Christmas shopping done.

After wandering about in the freezing cold for a bit, folks naturally make their way to the most important stand at the market—the ever-present Glühwein stall. Nothing warms your hands, tummy, and heart like a nice long chat with friends over a piping cup of this hot mulled wine which, as Casey says, is the nectar of the gods. Though there are some variations like Nürnburg’s famous blueberry version or the white wine version, the standard is the red with a slight orange taste thanks to the fresh squeezed OJ and mulled peel.

Moving to Germany made me a much better Southern cook, so it stands to reason that the move back to the States will motivate me to learn the German treats we are going to miss so dearly. When brainstorming ideas for our family Christmas party, the thought of sharing this tasty part of German culture with my family gave me the kick in the tush I needed to make it. It’s not even hard, y’all.

Orange Honey Glühwein from Kiwi and Peach

Orange Honey Glühwein

serves 8

juice from 3 oranges {1 1/2 cups}
1 cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks
20 cloves
1 bottle {750 mL} of a slightly dry red wine, room temperature

Let’s get started by juicing your oranges. Wash them thoroughly. Roll the oranges on the counter to start breaking the membranes inside there. Then cut them in half and squeeze all of the juice into a bowl.

Heat a pot on medium heat. Pour the orange juice through a sieve into the pot and add the honey. Bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to low.

While that’s coming to a boil, go back to your orange peels. Take two of the halves and scrape the insides out. Stick the cloves through the peel. {This just makes it easier to fish them out later.}

Add the clove studded orange peel and cinnamon sticks to the pot and let it simmer on low for 30-40 minutes. {Some folks add star anise too, but I cannot abide that licorice flavor so clearly, I don’t. Up to you, just throwing it out there.}

Once it’s looking like a syrup, add your wine. Keep it on low and simmer until its steaming. You don’t want to boil it because then you’ll start losing alcohol content, and obviously, we want the alcohol content. Remove the the orange peel and the cinnamon sticks. Once it’s steaming, serve it up as is or, depending on the occasion, add a shot of rum.

Orange Honey Glühwein from Kiwi and Peach
Orange Honey Glühwein from Kiwi and Peach

Pumpkin Pudding Pie in a Spekulatius Crust

The Kiwi is a pie person. Seriously, the man loves pie. But sadly, since the person doing the baking {i.e. me} is more of a cake lover, he doesn’t get them very often. The only two occasions he can count on having pie is his birthday and Thanksgiving.

Case in point, last Thanksgiving, despite having the flu,  I went all out making bacon wrapped turkey, some disastrous stuffing, the very best cranberry sauce, mashed sweet potatoes, and, the crowning glory, a pumpkin pie… from scratch.

I’d love nothing more than to have a repeat of last year {with better dressing}, but it’s just not in the cards this year. Most of my precious kitchen tools have either been shipped or sold, and all we have left are the things that came with the apartment which includes, um, basically nothing useful. Plus, we deep cleaned for an inspection that was supposed to happen Monday but is now happening Saturday, so we have to keep the house spotless. No big Thanksgiving feast will be happening in that kitchen this year.

Now, I could wax poetic about gratitude and how it should be present in our lives everyday, not just Thanksgiving. It’s just a day after all. {A day followed, I might mention, by it’s antithesis, Black Friday, which in my opinion is one of the most atrocious American holiday traditions. Ever.}

But really, I do love this day of celebration: for thanks, for generosity, for family.

Don’t worry, we aren’t letting the day pass us by completely without a tiny bit of cheer. Besides, tomorrow also marks 2 years of living in Munich! Let’s face it, the Kiwi isn’t going to let me get away with not making pie

As a compromise between a messy and complicated, full-fledged, from scratch pie and the ‘I can’t be bothered,’ nonexistent pie, I whipped up this. Basically, I just stuck pumpkin pudding in a pie crust.

Will it fall apart when serving? Signs point to yes.

Will it be mind-blowingly delicious? Absolutely.

Whip it up tonight, stick it in the fridge, and forget about it. Dessert is done. Pull it out at lunch tomorrow and prepare for folk’s mouthful mumblings of “Oh my gah, it’s so good.” At least, that’s what I got from the Kiwi.

Pumpkin Pudding Pie in a Spekulatius Crust

{makes 1 pie}

Spekulatius Crust
20 spekulatius cookies, about 180 grams {ginger snaps, or ginger nuts for the Kiwis, will probably work perfectly, but if you can get spekulatius, do it.}
6 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

Give the cookies a whiz in the food processor until they are just crumbs. In a small mixing bowl melt the butter then add the crumbs. Mix the crumbs and butter until the butter is completely incorporated.

Press into a pie pan and bake for 10 minutes. Let it cool completely before filling it with the pudding.

Pumpkin Pudding
1 cup milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree {canned will do also, just make sure it’s pumpkin puree not pie filling}
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger

In a medium pot on medium heat, bring the milk and maple syrup to a simmer.

In a bowl, cream together your egg yolk, sugar, and cornstarch. While stirring your egg yolks, add a spoonful of the warm milk. This will keep your eggs from curdling when you add the egg yolk mixture to the pot of milk. Go ahead and do that—add the creamy egg yolk mix to the milk and maple syrup. Then add the vanilla and give it a stir. Let it cook for about 5 minutes so it will thicken up.

While it’s cooking grab a mixing bowl and whisk together your pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, and spices.

Once the milk/egg yolk/maple syrup mix has thickened enough to coat your spoon, slowly start adding the pumpkin mixture stirring as you go. Once it’s all combined pour it into your pie crust and let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Then pop it in the fridge until you are ready to serve!

Serve with whipped cream, or, in my case, whipped coconut cream. Yum!

Carrot and Pecan Spiced Rum Muffins

I’m pretty sure hell just froze over.

Pigs are flying.

I, eternal hater of the dreadful, ever-so-sneaky carrot, willingly bought, and cooked with…carrots.

They say that when you’re hosting a party, you should stick to your tried and true recipes and, as a rule, I tend to adhere to that. Except, every now and then, I get the occasional hare-brained, you’re-out-of-your-mind ideas. And then I dwell, and dwell, and dwell on them until I actually have to make them or I’ll go crazy.

You too?

No, just me? Oh well.

That happened last week with the party and those carrot cakes. I had seen a recipe for a whisky carrot cake on TheKitchn ages ago and couldn’t stop thinking about it. So what if I’d never bought a carrot in my life? So what if I had zero, zilch, nada experience making carrot cake? It was going to happen for this party.

So it did, and thank God, it was a smash hit.

Success.

I want to like carrots. I really do. They are so good for you! I try them every so often just to see if maybe my gag reflex when the after-taste hits has chilled out, but it never seems to work. This carrot cake though…it worked. Unfortunately pretty much all of the good nutritional aspects of the carrot were being wiped out by the fact that it was indeed still cake.

Hence the muffin was created. Less sugar, whole wheat, more nuts, more carrot, and a whole lot of yumminess! I wouldn’t go so far as to say healthy, but definitely healthier. I know what we will be having on Thanksgiving morning.

Are you trying anything brand new for Thanksgiving?

Here’s to willingness to take a risk and being open to new things.

Carrot and Pecan Spiced Rum Muffins from Kiwi and Peach

Carrot and Pecan Spiced Rum Muffins

{make 12 muffins}

Adapted from Sara Kate’s recipe for TheKitchn. Besides reducing the recipe, I substituted whole wheat for the all purpose flour and reduced the sugar to make it more of a muffin and less of a cake. I also upped the carrot and pecan amounts. I’m dying to try an all natural sugar version of this. I think it would be great with demerara sugar.

The Egg
3 eggs

The Dry
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 heaping tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash of allspice

The Fold
1 large carrot, peeled then shredded {around 2 cups, maybe slightly less}
2/3 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup shredded coconut
3 Tbsp spiced rum

The Wet
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup olive oil

Crack your eggs into a small bowl, beat them, and set them to the side. {Wow, that sounds like a lot of egg violence.} Do this first so they have some time to get to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

Grab three mixing bowls.

In the first, add your grated carrot, chopped pecans, coconut and rum. Give it all a stir and set it to the side for later.

In the second, sift together your dry ingredients.

In the third, the biggest of the three, combine the brown sugar with the olive oil well. As Sara Kate says in the original recipe, it should look like wet sand. Alternatively, add the flour and the egg and mix until they are just incorporated each time. Then fold in the carrot mix.

Set the batter to the side for a minute so the batter can rest while you line the muffin pan with cupcake liners. Spoon the batter in to the pan filling each cup 3/4 of the way full.

Pop it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Test the middles with a toothpick; if it comes out clean, you’re ready to go!

Enjoy.