Something the Swiss really love is apple compote, or applesauce; so much so, that it is an obligatory side dish to their version of macaroni and cheese. So when I came across a recipe some years ago for a traditional Swiss bundt cake using apple compote, I was instantly intrigued.
The ski season is upon us again and I can’t wait for our annual family retreat to the Swiss alps for some downtime in the snow. Our son is finally old enough to take skiing lessons with the other tiny tots, which means it will only be a matter of time before he will be zooming down the black slopes while I am still trying to master my snowplough.
We always have a basket full of apples at home, ready to be turned into an apple compote which we eat religiously at breakfast each morning. It used to be my job to make the week’s apple compote, which I would vary every few weeks by adding some over-ripened fruit from the fruit bowl. Oddly enough, when our children were born, my husband took over the role of making the weekly compote, something which he continues to do until this day, except that the “weekly” compote is often consumed in less than a week; the children love it so much that it also frequently makes an appearance at morning tea or afternoon tea.
I have always wanted to make a Galette des Rois for the Epiphany and finally plucked up the courage today. In France, it is a cake which is traditionally eaten on 6 January, although some shops and bakeries make the most of this event by selling them up to a few months before the big date. But like any seasonal treat, such as the Yule Log or Hot Cross Buns, the window for making a Galette des Rois is brief and I’m glad to have finally tried my hand at making one. Here is Rachel Khoo’s version from My Little French Kitchen.
Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of Irish cook, Rachel Allen. So when her new cookbook, Cake, was recently released, I promptly ordered it online and eagerly awaited its arrival in my mailbox. I did secretly wonder how it would compare to her other baking handbook, simply called Bake, which I have used quite frequently in recent years. But as it is not unusual for one of her books to find its place on my kitchen counter on any given week, there was no need for me to hesitate when it came to this purchase.
Her new book is filled with beautiful photography and, more importantly, great-looking recipes. I thought I had more than enough baking books on my bookshelf (well, actually, I do!), but I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of inspirational recipes in Cake. Some recipes appear to be tweaks on those found in her earlier books, but many of the recipes will be a refreshing find for readers.
I have a terrible weakness for cooking magazines. Even when I left Australia and moved to Switzerland, I couldn’t bear to give up my monthly fix of Donna Hay, Delicious and Gourmet Traveller magazines that I was prepared to sacrifice a portion of my salary to fund an overseas subscription to all three magazines (at a cost of double to triple the local price), and consequently buy a new bookshelf just to house my burgeoning collection.
On top of that, my French and German teachers have been perpetually reminding me that the best way to expand my vocabulary is to read the local newspapers. Except that reading the news in French and German is not a very exciting task for me, especially since I am not even in the habit of reading the news in English. But as I do enjoy very much learning French and German and am ever struggling to one day reach that point where I can declare myself fluent, I have been fuelling my magazine indulgence by also resorting to publications in French and German. The consequence is that I have an almost expert breadth of vocabulary when wanting to discuss recipes and cooking techniques in a foreign language, especially in German when I am perhaps using words which even a local would not be familiar with, but such a vocabulary is unfortunately not very useful for other daily chit-chat.