David Lebovitz’s Dulce de Leche Tart

I would like to thank my friend in Berlin for sending me the recipe for this delicious tart. I am sorry that I didn’t do such a good job with the photos, but it tasted really good! I pinky swear it!

The fact that you can now buy cheap, ready made Dulce de Leche from Rewe was the reason I decided to make this tart for my birthday. And I wanted to test my brand new mixer 😀  Since I didn’t have a pie dish with a detachable bottom, I had to make peace with the fact that I wasn’t gonna lift perfect slices, despite oiling the pie dish very heavily.

If you don’t have pie weights, you could use dried beans, like chickpea. I used mung beans, which you could in turn make into guinataang munggo (remind me to share you the recipe one day).

The recipe was published in David’s book My Paris Kitchen. This is how I made this tart

For the Crust: 6 Tablespoons/ 85 g butter (preferably salted) at room temperature or softer, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 large egg yolk, 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp. flaky sea salt, and 1 Tablespoon water (optional)

Filling: 230 g chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, 2 large eggs, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 cup (240 g) dulce de leche, and flaky sea salt for sprinkling.

Make the crust before the filling. Using a stand or hand-held mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter with the powdered sugar at low speed, until smooth. Mix in the yolk, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl.

In another bowl, whisk the flour and the cocoa powder together, and add to the butter mixture until the dough comes together. If it looks dry, add a tablespoon of water (which I did). Roll into a ball. Pull a plate- sized (about 15 inches by 15 inches) portion of saran wrap (cling film) on a flat surface, place the dough ball on it, flatten a bit with the heel of your hand and wrap the dough in the film.  Set aside for 30 minutes. You can also use a clean plastic bag, it is probably easier.

After 30 minutes, roll the dough relatively flat in the bag or unwrap the dough, place another sheet of cling film over it, and roll with a rolling pin. When the dough is wide enough to cover a 9 inch (23 cm) pie or tart ring with a removable bottom, remove the top sheet, place the dough in the tart ring by flipping it in using the plastic film for stability, and try to evenly cover the walls of the dish by pressing your fingers at the dough located at the bottom and sides of the dish and pushing the dough up the walls, until the rim. Sprinkle the sea salt over the dough and press it into the pastry. Cover the tart ring with the wrap you used to roll it in, and freeze for 30 minutes. Colder temperatures means that I could just open the balcony door and let it rest outside.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Once the 30 minutes are up, line the dough with aluminum foil and cover the bottom with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil and the weights, and bake for 5 more minutes, until the shell feels set. Take the shell out of the oven and reduce the heat to 150°C.

During the waiting/baking period you can get cracking on the filling. Melt the chocolate in a bain-Marie, remove the bowl from heat once melted, and set a strainer on top.

Whisk the eggs into a bowl. Heat the milk in a saucepan until just warm, and whisk the milk into the eggs. Not too warm, we don’t want the eggs to scramble! Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula or a wire whisk, until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Pour the custard through the strainer into the chocolate, and add the vanilla, stirring until smooth.

Carefully spread the Dulce de Leche over the hot tart shell in an even layer. It helps to let the Dulce sit for 30 seconds before spreading, the warmth of the tart bottom will soften the cream enough, making it easier to spread. Set the tart sheet on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, then carefully pur the chocolate custard over the dulce de leche. Smooth the top, and sprinkle with more salt.

Bake the tart for 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the tart with the door closed for 25 minutes more.

You can remove it from the oven and let cool before serving. I just let the tart in the oven overnight and served it to my guests the day after.

David recommends serving it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, but the tart is so filling, I don’t think you will need more sweet! The crust tastes a lot like Oreo cookies, so it was really addictive.

Mea Culpa!

You didn’t think I was really leaving, did you?

I know, I know, it’s been a year. A crazy year, if I may say. I finally got my divorce, after three (!) years. I picked up a man and a dog along the way. And I am back in school.

I haven’t stopped cooking and experimenting, it’s just that I haven’t got the time to make a blog post (believe me, it takes at least an hour from concept to posting). So I put up an Instagram account for my lazy days. More food, less talk. Okay, so the images aren’t always stellar, but at least you know I still walk among the living!

If you want to follow me on Instagram, click on the link at the right!


Goin’ Nuts

It seems like fall has come all too soon in these parts, with the nights turning colder and the days shorter. Can it already be autumn at the beginning of September? And here I was, hoping for an Indian summer. But no matter, it is here, and I am glad.

Late summer is my favorite time of year. The gardening season is winding down, fruit falling off the trees, colors are starting to deepen. Apples are already making an appearance, pears are too. It’s time to make apple sauce. It’s time to assess what could be improved next year, ideas on what new herbs and plants should be planted next. The last time you could spend a warm summer night on the balcony, relaxing with a glass of wine.

I am still amazed how many fruit and nut trees grow in the streets of Erfurt. Just keep your eyes open, and things start revealing themselves. Walnuts have already started ripening and falling off trees, picking them from trees while when I go on walks. I’ve also discovered several hazelnut trees that I used to ignore until somebody pointed them out to me.  I’m currently looking for ways to use the hazelnuts. If anybody has got an idea, I’m all ears!


Lord Hell’s Plum Cake

 Plum season is almost over, but I still get to enjoy them thanks to the three sheets of plum cakes I have managed to bake this season.

My go-to cake recipe comes from the coolest handle nameI’ve ever heard, Lord Hell, the pseudonym of a Chefkoch.de member who struck gold at the death metal name generator. According to Lord Hell, this is her (?) Oma’s recipe, and is glad that she could share it so that it wouldn’t die out. Judging from the rating this cake has, it definitely won’t!

Germans are big into dry cakes, or what is also called coffee cakes. As long as you can get used to the idea that Germans like their cake to taste like bread, you are good to go.

For the base:

500 grams flour, 30 grams fresh yeast or 10 grams dry yeast, 250 ml lukewarm milk, 75 grams sugar, and 100 grams butter.

For the toppings, a kilo and a half of plums is definitely more than enough to cover a 37 cm by 42 cm baking sheet.

Pre-heat the oven to 220° C. Dump the flour into a big mixing bowl and create a depression in the middle. Place the cut-up butter, and strew about 60 grams of the sugar, and a pinch of salt along the edges of the crater, making sure that it wouldn’t fall into ist. Break up the yeast and dump it in the hollow, adding the rest of the sugar and the milk. You can either leave it as is or mix it up, if you like. Let it rest under a kitchen towel for 15 minutes. When the 15 minutes are up, knead the mixture into a dough, and proof for 30 minutes.

While waiting for the dough to rise, you could either halve or quarter the plums lengthwise, removing the stones. Place the cut-up fruit in a separate bowl.

When the 30 minutes are up, knead the dough again, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. You can either roll the dough out with a pin or using your fingertips, massage the mixture to fan out on the sheet until the whole thing is covered with the dough. Pierce the base with a fork in several places (I prefer making a Union Jack pattern). If the plums are an especially juicy or watery variety, you could sprinkle the base with either breadcrumbs or powdered cinnamon.

 Place the plums with the skins down on the base in a row until the whole base is covered. Leave about three centimeters of lip around the edges if you like. You could also add streusel on top by mixing 200 grams soft butter with 200 grams salt, 300 grams flour, ½ teaspoons of powdered cinnamon and a pinch of salt. After mixing the ingredients together, take a big hunk of the mixture in your hand and pinch off small pieces and strew it randomly over the plums. Place in the oven and it should be done by 20 to 30 minutes. You need to watch the streusel because it burns easily. As soon as the plums smell fragrant it should be done!

It is quite easy to make and it is a very traditional German dish. Thank you LordHell for allowing me to share your recipe!

Drowning in Plums

Sooooo….I have discovered the motherlode of plum trees in Erfurt, not far from where I work. Like a whole grove of plum and apple trees, with nobody paying attention to them! My son and I picked a bucket full of plums last weekend. They are what Germans call Zwetschge, a variety of plum that is deep purple, slim, and long-ish. We got a total of three kilos!  After the initial frenzy of ALL THOSE PLUMS wore off, I kinda scratched my head and asked myself what the hell was I gonna do with all those plums?

So I made Pflaumenmus, what should be translated as plum jam, but it is more of a plum puree. Three kilos fortunately fit into my six quart dutch oven, which proved itself once again as an excellent investment! I filled four large jars with the stuff. I don’t even like Pflaumenmus, so I’m gonna learn how to like it These next couple of months. Or maybe use them to fill jelly donuts?

So far I have baked three batches of plum coffee cakes, with streusel so they would keep better in the freezer. I’ve been giving them away like mad and I don’t think I’ll be picking any more plums this season!


Challah for Schabbos

I am a person that is generally fond of religious rituals. I like the steady, practiced rythym of their execution, the prayers passed down through centuries. So I was really excited to finally participate in this year’s Yiddish Summer Weimar, a yearly series of musical events to celebrate Yiddish culture and language, after work commitments kept me busy the past years.

And I was even more excited to participate in a Yiddish cooking class. Since yesterday was a Friday, the class prepared meals for Schabbos or Schabes, which is Yiddish for the Sabbath. I didn’t really do much except practice my onion-cutting skills, but it was interesting to learn different cooking techniques and ways to prepare food.

We Gentiles learned that baking Challah is an essential part of the Schabbos. Challah is basically a sweet braided loaf of bread, without milk and butter. And they need to bake at least two loaves. I’m so impressed with our multilingual instructor Paulette Bielasiak who gave instructions in French, German, Yiddish, and English without missing a beat! This is her recipe.

Dissolve a packet (42 g) of active dry yeast in 360 ml of lukewarm water, and add into a kilogram of flour. Mix thoroughly either by hand or bread machine, and add two eggs, 100 ml oil (something neutral-tasting, like sunflower or canola), and 100 grams of sugar (can be less, this is a matter of taste). Add half a tablespoon of salt, and knead until it forms a coherent ball. Add flour if needed. Cover the bowl and let it rise in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in bulk (about 45 minutes to an hour. This process will be faster if using fresh yeast.)

After proofing the bread, divide into six equal parts, and roll them until they are about an inch thick and a foot long. Take three ropes, press them together at one end, tuck it under, and proceed to braid. Press the ends of the braid again together and tuck underneath the loaf. Let the loaves rise again for thirty minutes by leaving them in a warm (50°C) oven.

When they have risen sufficiently, take them out of the oven. Turn the heat up to 170° C. Beat an egg with a tablespoon of sugar and glaze the loaves with a brush, and bake for 25 minutes.

We also had Latkes, Choulent, Gefilte Fish, and a salad comprised of mashed hard-boiled eggs mixed with spring onions. The kilo and a half of onion that I chopped went into a side dish that involved caramelizing an onion in some oil and a knob (about a tablespoon) of butter for thirty minutes, then adding five beaten eggs into the pot. I don’t know what it’s called, but it was really tasty.

Yiddish food is really heavy, I guess it has to be if one can’t cook for a whole day!

Plum Season

What I like about living in Europe is that you can still pick fresh fruits for free, even in urban areas. All you need to have is an attentive eye for splattered, rotting fruit underfoot and you begin to notice which fruits are in season.

I was going about my normal jogging route when I noticed black fruit flies congregating on sticky-looking mush on the pavement. I looked up and saw a tree laden with huge yellow egg plums! They deserve the name, it really are as huge as small eggs. I returned with a net and a basket after my jog and hauled a total of five kilos of fruit. My basket was only a fourth full!

The plums were tart with their skins, but they were super sweet with the skins peeled off. And the seed just separated itself so easily, which is a big advantage for fruit. I baked a plum cake, and I still had a kilo left over. Unfortunately, plums don’t keep well, so I had to throw the rest away, despite snacking on them non-stop since last weekend. The cake is safely stored in the freezer, and I now have cake to feed unexpected guests with.

Plum and mirabelle season is  in full swing in Europe, so I reckon you should get out there and pick them plums!

Burger Cravings–Faust Food, Erfurt

I sometimes get these unbelievably intense munchies for meat. Like caveman cravings. Like I could eat a whole plate of ribs in one sitting. And when I do there is one place I go to where I could reliably get a good plate of ribs: Faust Food (in English, Fist Food, a play on Fast Food. No it doesn’t translate well does it?).

It is located in a 400-year old former warehouse, spartanly (manly?) decorations, kind of on the hipster side. It is not easy to find, but I swear it is worth it. The grill is located by the door, and grill everything in front of you. They do mostly American fare, but they also have steak, and Thuringian Bratwurst. They do uncomplicated, real food, manly food.Me likey. And with late opening times, it is perfect for pre-gaming meals before hitting the town. So for your protein munchie needs, I can heartily recommend this place.


Waagegasse 1

Tuesday to Saturday 11 am to 11 pm

Sunday 11 am to 7 pm.



Orchid Babies!

Orchid babies! My orchids just had babies! And I am on a steep learning curve on taking care of them.

I was at my Hardware store of choice last winter when I spotted this Dendrobium orchid on sale, from 16 to 12 euros. It was still pricey for an orchid, but I couldn’t resist its wonderful yellow flowers, and so splurged.

I was soon disappointed when not more than three weeks after purchase, the flowers began to fall off, and the orchid seemed to wilt. I was almost ready to throw them out, when I noticed that it was growing new leaves, or flowers, I wasn’t so certain back then.

So while waiting it out, more leaves began to sprout. Then roots. Ta-DAA! New orchids! I was so excited when it sprouted four babies!

So far I’ve made the mistake of using the wrong potting mix. I chose the cheapest one, which was a few cents less expensive than the top of the line one. It consisted of sawdust with a few pine chips here and there. Big mistake! Two of the babies started getting water rot from the base, I hope I was able to save them in time, but I am not so sure. One keiki is still attached to the mother, and another one is sprouting from the Dendrobium cane.

orchidAll in all, this is a very good year for orchids. Since last year I have finally found the “sweet spot” for the orchids in my apartment where the orchids do very well. As you could see in this picture, my Phalenopsis orchid has sprouted new flowers, after three years of dormancy. They used to be in the living room, but they prefer the bright afternoon light offered by the playroom.

That’s the thing with house plants. The place where you want them to be isn’t necessarily the place they want to be. And boy, they will make it known. Leaves start to fall off, they won’t flower, that kind of stuff.  So move around your house plants, and wait for them to tell you they like it where they are