Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy Birthday Mum

I was so excited to be at home for my mum's birthday, since I missed four of them in the past years. So I decided to make her something super special. Lets be honest here, I am not a cake person (not the ones covered in fondant), but I love this kind - tiny and cute.

Also, I prefer more non-mousse style cakes. To me, there is nothing better than a good nut based biscuit with creamy vanilla mousseline with addition of another flavor. What is mousseline? It is a German buttercream which is made from one part butter to two parts pastry cream. 
The biscuit was a flourless walnut cake adapted from Beatrice at La Tartine Gourmande which is probably something I will be doing from now on. Even baked as it is, it's SO good, super moist, flavorful and there is no flour and just egg whites! (what a great way to use them, I always have so many leftover that in the freezer)

I spread a thin layer of my mum's bitter orange marmalade on each biscuit (there were four layers) and then a layer of mousseline. After the first coat, I let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours after which I gave another coat. At the very end I decorated my baby with some orange blossom flowers, bee pollen (please read this fantastic article on bee pollen HERE and check out Sarah's amazing work) and a few pieces of dill (I know, it sounds unappetizing, but it was just for a bit of color)

Here's the formula for the flourless walnut cake adapted from La Tartine Gourmande:


  • 280g walnuts (semi finely ground)
  • 4 egg whites + additional 2
  • 75g powdered sugar
  • 100g butter at room temp
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (very important!)

  • Preheat the oven at 180C or 350F
  • Grind the walnuts in the food processor or any other nut grinder you have. I ground 2/3 fine and the rest a bit more coarse.
  • Add butter, 2 egg whites, powdered sugar and salt. Using a spatula make a paste. Set aside.
  • In the meantime whip the egg whites and add the granulates sugar. 
  • Fold into the walnut paste and bake in buttered and floured pan, ramekins or on parchment paper in any form you wish. 
  • Baking time depends of the thickness of the batter, but it's usually about 20-30 mins.
  • Let cool, unmold.

Mousseline cream

  • 540g milk
  • 1 vanilla bean 
  • 160g yolks
  • 120g granulated sugar
  • 60g cornstarch
  • 250g butter at room temp (I reduced the amount of butter)

  • Split the bean, scrape out the seeds and put everything together in a heavy bottomed pan with half the sugar. Bring to a boil (don't go anywhere during this time, you know what happens when you leave the kitchen - caramelized milk, we don't want that here)
  • Mix the yolks with rest of the sugar and cornstarch, you can also add a bit of milk so it's easier to combine. 
  • Once the milk comes to a boil, temper the yolks, put back on the heat and with constant whisking on medium heat boil until it thickens.
  • Pour the cream into another bowl, add a few tablespoons of bitter orange marmalade (optional) and buzz with immersion blender. You can also pass it through a sieve if you want it super smooth. Cover with plastic wrap. Let cool.
  • Once cooled, put in the the mixer and add butter gradually using a whisk attachment. Mix until smooth.  
  • Now you're ready to ice the cake! I will not say anything else, but have fun and use your imagination!
Happy Baking!

Monday, May 16, 2011


Zagreb, at last! I don't remember the last time I visited Croatian capital and I finally decided to do so. I have many friends and acquaintances I wanted to visit. Of course I wanted this be another culinary trip of mine so I   explored it as much as I could. 

I visited Bistro "Apetit" where I had a lovely meal with one of my dearest friends and her dad. All in all was good, even though my dish (confit duck with black truffle and Istrian pasta style "fuži") did not look super appealing . The duck meat wasn't presented in smaller or even larger chunks of meat, but into something more of a pâté...quite odd looking I must say.  

When the desserts arrived...I was pleasantly surprised. I love strawberries, and I like them just the way they are, not handled a lot. That's just the way it was, slightly macerated in sugar sitting on a cloud of light mascarpone mousse.  

My other stop was Elis Caffe. It has been rated as the best coffee in Zagreb by the NY Times. Sure enough, for the first time in my country I have received a product that was almost if not as good as Stumptown in NYC. Wow! 

Nik Orosi, the owner and barista has truly achieved something great; cute little cafe space, his very own roaster, and book that was published last year.    

One thing I couldn't leave Zagreb without is their famous "Štrukle". It is something like strudel dough, hand pulled (although not always, which is why I came here because I knew they are making it themselves) filled with fresh cheese, and in this case poured with cream and baked, but it can also be cooked in salted water or made as a dessert. The restaurant only lacked a better atmosphere, but overall I had satisfied my cravings.   

Here are the addresses of the places I visited:

Bistro Apetit
Jurjevska 65A

Elis Cafe
Ilica 63

Hotel Palace
Trg Josipa Jurja Strossmayera 10 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Yes, I am aware that oranges are way past their season, but this was taken back in April and I am writing about it just now. Oh well. 
Oranges! I only like them in season, especially because I grew up having an orange tree and I am very well familiar with that flavor. When I first got home at the end of March/April, there were still oranges at the Market. 

Around the same time we were fortunate enough to receive a box from my mum's dear friend from Dubrovnik full of oranges, but bitter ones! Have you ever tried them? I cannot believe I didn't take a photo of them, but they look a lot like Clementines. In case you haven't tried them before, CAUTION, those things are bitter as hell. I tried a tiny bit of the rind and my mouth was numb for the next half an hour. But what makes a good marmalade then the one made from real bitter oranges? That's how the Brits like it and my family has been enjoying it so for years.  

The process of making orange marmalade is quite long; it requires slicing them super thin, soak in certain amount of water for 1 day, the second day you boil the oranges and water until is reduced by 50%, and the third day the sugar is added together with the orange seeds to gelatinize (put into a little pouch). Once desired consistency is reached, the marmalade is ready to put into hot/sterilized jars.
Once it's cooled you can put it on anything! Again, this bitterness is an acquired taste, but I love it! 

I found this recipe on Meandering Mango, because I have never tried olive oil brownies. The final product was just slightly sweet and had quite a different texture then a regular brownie. To me, the addition of unsweetened whipped cream and bitter orange marmalade was a winner! 
I don't think I will make it again, but so many people that tried it loved it! If you want to give it a shot, you can find the recipe HERE.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Lumbarda (Island Korčula)

It was nice to come back to the little village of Lumbarda on the island Korčula where I spent all of my childhood. This is where my grandparents, cousins and most of the family resides. It is hard to capture all of its beauty in a few shots, but at least you'll get an idea...Apart from the amazing weather, Adriatic sea and great seafood, there are some traditional pastries which are absolutely outstanding.

The best example would be "Klašun" and "Cukarin". It's sort of a dry cookie, but once you bite into it, it melts in your mouth (when done right). It is traditionally made with lard (I do have a recipe of my own that I need to test out and then I will share it with you) and that's what makes all the difference. Cukarin is sprinkled with granulated sugar and traditionally dipped into the sweet wine "Prošek" not to be confused with Prosecco. Klašun is made from the same dough, but has a super moist walnut citrus filling, which you can see on the photo below...

If your way ever leads you to the Island of Korčula (you better!!) for the best, and most authentic experience try these and a few other delicacies at "Cukarin". You can read a bit more about it on the web site HERE