Do’s Cake and Family Traditions

Does tradition make things taste better?  Not sure with this cake as it’s so delicious but it is very much tied into childhood memories.  It was a cake my mum would make for birthday parties and special occasions and it wouldn’t last long at all.  It’s really the family cake.

My mum got the recipe from our Aunt Do, who is married to our Uncle Bob.  They’ve been married for over 65 years and they are literally the sweetest people you would ever meet.  Do got the recipe decades ago, from a neighbour she thinks.  A recipe from the mists of time!  My sister did say she saw something similar in an old Fanny Farmer book called Mix in the Pan cake.  Could be a variation on that.

This is a very easy cake to make and the cake itself is vegan and the icing could be made vegan without too much trouble.

Preheat the oven at 350F/175C.

In a large mixing bowl sift together 3 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 2/3 cups baking cocoa, 2tsp baking soda and 1 tsp of salt.  Flatten the mixture and put 3 large holes in it.

Do's cake 1 2018

In one hole pour 2 tsp of vanilla, in another put another 2 tsp vanilla, then spread between the three holes a cup of vegetable oil.  The oil might not fit into the three holes and it will spread out, that’s ok.  With a spoon or spatula mix it all together.

Do's cake 2 2018

Next add 2 cups of cold water gradually while mixing until smooth.

Do's cake 3 2018

In a lightly greased 13″ x 9″ pan, pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for about 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the cake is baking make the frosting.  In a small saucepan add 2 1/2  tablespoons flour and 1/2 cup milk.  Cook on medium low heat until the flour and milk thickens.  Whisk continually while it cooks.

Do's cake 6 2018

Let it cool.  In a medium bowl add 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1/2 cup of butter and 1 tsp of vanilla.  Add the cooled flour milk mixture.  If you want this vegan use vegetable shortening and a milk alternative like almond milk.

Do's cake 7 2018

Using an electric hand mixer, beat on med high until it is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Do's cake 8 2018

Add any food colouring and beat for another minute or so.  Spread on the cake.

Do's cake 9 2018

I tried, quickly, to do a shamrock as a design.  If you squint you might be able to see it!

Do's cake 10 2018

This is so good that it will definitely continue as a family tradition.  I probably should ask Aunt Do if she has any other recipes to pass down!  😉

Danish Comfort Food with Frikadeller

Our experience with our Danish exchange student is coming to an end, it went by too quickly, but overall it’s been a wonderful experience.  When she first arrived at our home I was more than ready to explore Danish food.  She is not a fan!  What?!?  But I had plans!  I wasn’t ready to give up.

I went through the various recipes I had pinned with her and chose to try Frikadeller which are Danish meatballs.  These can been eaten stand alone or as part of the Smørrebrød, which are open faced sandwiches.  This past weekend we had a large family get together and because of all the different dietary needs I thought it would be perfect to do a meal of Smørrebrød.  I originally made the meatballs at the beginning of her stay with us.  It was part of a light supper with BLTs and both “sandwiches” used romaine lettuce as the bread.

I found a recipe for Frikadeller on that our exchange student said was authentic.  These are very easy to put together though it is very different from most meatballs I’ve made.  It’s a very wet mixture.

Frikadeller 1 2017

Use a large mixing bowl and a wooden spoon to blend everything together.  Start with a pound/500 grams of ground pork and 1 1/2 teaspoons of coarse sea salt.  The reason you need a large mixing bowl is the pork is very slippery and trying to get the salt well blended is tricky.  Because you are going to add milk the better blended the salt the better the milk will incorporate.

Frikadeller 2 2017

Next add 3/4 cup/150 grams of onion, finely chopped.  Mix well.  Add the rest of the ingredients, which are 3/4 cup/85 grams of oats,  2 tablespoons of flour, 1 egg, not quite 3/4 cup/150 ml of milk.

Frikadeller 3 2017

Season with fresh oregano and ground pepper.  This is a very sticky mixture but hand shape the meatballs in an egg shape.  To fry you can use oil or butter but because I had cooked up streaky bacon I chose to fry the meatballs in bacon fat.

Frikadeller 4 2017

To serve I mixed up plain yoghurt with fresh oregano, sea salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  Spread that on the lettuce, top with the meatballs and pickles.

Frikadeller 5 2017

At dinner I was proud of myself for giving her a taste of home, then she mentioned each host family had chosen to do a version of Frikadeller for her.  So much for pride!  She did love my version and all of us really enjoyed this dish.  I think we will continue to make this.

Irish Apple Cake

Usually when our anniversary rolls round we are up to our ears in some house project.  If we were smart we’d do a trip or something fun like we did a few years ago.  But then again the list won’t take care of itself!

A big project is to redo the wrap around porch which means pulling up boards and lay new ones down as we go.  When most of it was done it was time to get in a skip to get the trash removed.  Silly me, I thought we could work on our foyer and walk in closet.  Might as well fill the skip up!

What was I thinking?  Granted it will cross two more projects off the list.  But we’re tired!  In the days leading up to our anniversary my husband took a few days off to make a dent in the projects.  When our anniversary rolled round we hit a wall where my husband had to handle things as I was unable to.  I felt guilty!  So I thought I should bake him a treat.  It was the least I could do.

Given that we went apple picking and we have a ton of apples I had to pick something that would use some up.  I have a great book called “Irish Traditional Cooking” by Darina Allen.  In it is a recipe for Irish Apple Cake.  I mostly followed it.

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Irish apple cake 4 2015

In a medium sized bowl add 2 cups of flour, 1/3 tsp baking powder, and 8 T of butter.  You want the butter at room temperature so you can blend the ingredients.  With a pastry fork or your hands work the ingredients together until it looks like breadcrumbs or small beads.

Irish apple cake 1 2015

Mix in half a cup of sugar then add one beaten egg.

Irish apple cake 2 2015

You will need 1/2 to 2/3 cup of milk.  Gradually add a little bit of milk at a time until the dough is soft and incorporated.  This dough will be a pain to work with as it is wet and sticky.  Flour your hands and rolling pin to work with it.

Irish apple cake 3 2015

Grease a 9″ spring form pan.  Roll out half of the dough and place it in the bottom of the pan.

Irish apple cake 5 2015

There is a good chance you’ll have to patch holes with this so don’t be discouraged.  Press the dough up the sides a bit.  Slice a couple of apples and layer them round the middle.  Sprinkle brown sugar over the apples.

Irish apple cake 6 2015

Roll out the rest of the dough and place over the apples.  Brush with a beaten egg.

Irish apple cake 7 2015

Bake for 40 minutes or so until the dough is cooked and a nice golden colour.

Irish apple cake 8 2015

Good luck waiting until this cools.  Slice and serve.

Irish apple cake 10 2015

My husband did appreciate this with a cup of tea when he got a chance to take a break and sit for awhile.  🙂

Fresh Mozzarella

Cheese, glorious cheese!  If I ever get to a point in my life that a doctor tells me cheese is off the menu, I don’t know what I’d do.  It’s a major food group in this household.  That and fresh bread.  Oh and wine.  Can’t forget the wine!  There are a few cheeses we enjoy making at home and one of them is mozzarella.

A few years back we bought a book by Ricki Carroll called “Home Cheese Making”.  And the inspiration for this recipe comes from here.  Her recipes are for pasteurized milk but because we only use raw milk for this we have to adjust here and there.

Raw milk is by far the best choice for most cheeses as pasteurizing destroys some of the wonderful flavour and breaks down the proteins that are good for you and are ideal for proper cheese making.  We haven’t tried parmesan yet but we’ll be limited to pasteurized as it calls for skim milk.  When you look for a raw milk source, talk to the farm, find out how often they test the milk for safety.  The farm we use checks every other day.

For this recipe we use a gallon of raw milk.

You want to gently heat it to 55 F.  Once it is this temp you want to add 1 1/2 level tsp citric acid dissolved in 1/2 cup of water to the mixture.  I use spring water not tap water.

As the milk heats you want to stir regularly so it doesn’t catch on the bottom and the temp is regulated throughout the batch.

As the milk heats up you will see bits of curd starting to float at the surface.

The next step is to add the rennet at 90 F.  A couple of things about rennet.  It comes in liquid form or tablet form.  If you have it in tablet form you want to do a 1/4 tablet in a 1/4 cup of spring water.  If you have it in liquid form then a 1/4 tsp.  Liquid rennet has a shelf life but I have found you can still use it after the shelf life but you may need to add more to the recipe.  This is tricky as if you use too much the curd forms a big ball!

Heat slowly to 100-105F then turn off the heat.  You will see the whey separating from the curds.  After a few minutes it is ready to scoop into a colander lined with cheese cloth or butter muslin.  You want this over a bowl as the curds need to drain.

While I am doing all this I heat a pan of water with kosher salt to about 175 F as we need this to cook the curds and stretch them into mozzarella.

Use a slotted spoon to scoop up some curds and place in the water.

The water can get up to 185 F which is ok but keep an eye on the temp to adjust as needed.  I usually keep the curds in the water for 20-25 seconds before I check it.  This is hot work and be careful not to burn yourself!

You want it to look melty.  Take it off the spoon and lightly stretch it and fold it over itself.  You want the center to be smooth as well.  It is important not to overwork the cheese. You may have to then put it in the water for a few seconds at a time to complete the process. It does take a bit of practice so don’t get frustrated if it takes a couple of times to get it right.  Some people get it right off and others need to be patient.

Form little balls and place in cold water to cool down.  Once they have cooled a bit slice and serve.  This is not a cheese that stores well because it is so fresh.  You can store it in the fridge in a covered container but it is so good it’s hard to have any leftovers!

I sliced it and served it with tomatoes from the garden and basil with balsamic vinegar.  I let people salt to their personal preference.  I like mine salty but not everyone does.  Doing it this way you can have fresh cheese in 30-45 minutes.