Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Go Dutch with these easy Dutch cake recipes

Dutch Cheery Cake with a traditional lattice
I have a Dutch neighbour; we moved almost at the same time to our new block of flats in Brighton. Together we discovered that the English ways of the workers and buildeing contractors wasn´t so punctual or accurate as in Netherlands and I discovered that they were as clumsy as in Spain. Since then we are establishing ourselves as a private cooking club. He is from the south of the Netherlands, a land of windmills, castle´s and old folk traditions and he told us that in his town no celebration is complete without the following Dutch traditional cakes.

The recipes of the Limburgse vlaai, as the cakes are called in Dutch,  passed from one generation to another. The next recipes are the traditional ones as taught to him by his grandmother with all ingredients found in  British supermarkets. So this Christmas Go Dutch!

Recipes by Johan Bernards
First the dough which work for any of the fillings

You need:  250g plain flour -  7,5 g dried yeast or 15g fresh yeast -  25g butter (chopped and softened at room temperature) - 15g caster sugar -  ½ egg (whisked) -  A pinch of salt
Shallow tin cake of 30cm diameter and height 3cm approx.

Ready to pour in the yeast
Flat your dough with a rolling pin

1. Follow the dried yeast packet instructions to prepare the yeast. I dissolved 1 tsp of sugar in 75ml water (1 part boiling, 2 parts cold), then sprinkled this with 7,5g of yeast and whisked it thoroughly. The yeast should then be left in a warm place for about 15 min until it is covered with froth. Measures can vary depending of the brand. 
2. In a bowl add the flower and sugar. Add the butter in small pieces in a circle round the outer edge. Do the same with the egg. Make a hole in the middle (here we will add the yeast in a minute) Sprinkle the salt carefully on the outer edge of the bowl (Initially contact between yeast and salt should be avoided as the salt stops the yeast from being active).
3. Now poor slowly the dissolved dried yeast in the hole, while gradually with one hand starting to mix the flour with the yeast from the centre, slowly moving outwards adding all the ingredients. As the dough starts to form and thickens, continue the mixing with your hands. If the dough is to dry to workout add a splash of milk at room temperature.  If is too wet just incorporate more flour to the dough.
4. Once the dough has formed clean your sticky hands by rubbing flour in between them. Flour a clean work surface and transfer the dough on to here. Start to knead the dough, for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Work the dough well by folding it, punching it with your knuckles. Once smooth and elastic, set aside the dough covered with a clean (humid) kitchen towel or similar in a warm place until it has doubled in volume. (If you don’t have a warm place then just pre-heat your oven at 80ºC and turn off before putting in the dough).

Transfer the dough with a rolling pin
Cut any excess and ready to fill

5. Transfer the risen dough back to the work surface and knead slightly to a ball. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a flat circle, large enough to cover the baking tray, including edges.
6. Adding flour to the dough, carefully roll the dough around the rolling pin and then transfer it to the baking tray (don’t try and stretch/pull the dough!) . Use your hands to lift and drop the dough into the corners of the tray, and cut any excess by rolling the rolling pin over the edges. Use a fork to make tiny holes in the dough

Filling for a Custard Cake
Dutch Custard Cake
You need for the custard: 900ml milk - 75g caster sugar - 75g custard powder
You need for the crumbs: 200g flour -140g butter -140g caster sugar

Add the custard mixture to the milk
Pour in the custard filling

In bowl mix the custard powder, sugar and a little of the milk, whisk very well until smooth. Boil the rest of the milk. When the milk is boiling stir in the custard mixture and keep on whisking until it is a thick mixture. Let cool down, but stir occasionally to avoid the forming of a skin on top.

Making the butter crumbs
Spread the crumbs over the custard

In a bowl mix the flour and the sugar. Add 140g cold butter in chunks. With a knife cut the butter in small pieces. Now with your hands, take the mixture and pinch a little and push the mixture forwards out of your hands with your thumbs (Be careful not too melt the butter in the process). Continue this process until crumbs are formed.

Assemble the cake:  Put the custard filling into the baking tray on top of the dough. Top with the crumbles and cook in a pre-heated oven at 200ºC for about 20 minutes putting the cake in the middle of the oven. When you can see that the edges and top are golden brown, remove from the oven and let it cool down in a rack.

Cherry Cake or Gooseberry cake

You need: Some dough leftovers for making the lattice – 400x3 can of cherry cake filling or Gooseberry cake filling – 2tbsp of breadcrumbs – 1 egg (whisked) 1 tbsp. sugar

Pour in the Cherry filling
Traditional Dutch Lattice

1.       First spread the 2 tbsp. of breadcrumbs over the dough in the tin cake, in this way some of the filling will be absorb by the breadcrumbs.
2.       Again with a rolling pin make a flat disc of 25 cm with the leftover dough and then with a cutter or knife make the lattice 2 cm wide.
3.       Stir in the filling in the tin cake with the dough and spread evenly
4.       On top make a lattice like in the picture above.
5.       Brush with the whisked egg and sprinkle over some sugar over the lattice.
6.       Cook the cake in a pre-heated oven at 200ºC for about 20 minutes.


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