Travelling the World Without Leaving the Kitchen

Although many people believe that Baklava come from the Greek, it actually originated in Turkish cuisine. The dough used to make baklava is called Phyllo. It is a Greek word and that is why most people assume that this dessert is from Greek origin.

I’ve never actually tried Baklava before or ever even thought about making it, but I wanted to try making something a little more difficult. I found my recipe at Allrecipes.com, which is where I find most of my recipes.

BUT, this time I didn’t like the recipe. It turned out good, but the instructions were not detailed enough and some of the ingredients called for more or less than was needed. I found myself chopping more nuts in the middle of trying to put it all together and I still had about half a cup of melted butter left after I was done!

I don’t have many pictures for this blog because I was too focused on trying to actually make the dessert and I kept forgetting about pictures. Here are a few, from when I remember that I should be taking pictures:

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The final product actually turned out better than I expected. I got into this never having made this before or even seeing Phyllo dough or knowing how to use it. It’s very thin and delicate so you have to be very careful with it.

My boyfriend actually wanted to help me make it because it’s one of his favorite desserts, but he ended up just watching TV while I did everything myself. Which I didn’t mind because I like to bake myself so I know that everything gets done properly.

He was my taste tester though. After it had cooled I gave him the first piece and then some to the rest of my family. They all loved it, even my mom who normally doesn’t like dessert.

But, the one person that I always bring a piece of whatever I make to is my meme. However, she was already in bed when I made it so I didn’t get to have her opinion on it. She’ll have a piece tomorrow and I’m sure she’ll tell me the same thing she always does: “Are you trying to make me fat?”

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IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!! And in order to celebrate my birthday I decided to bake my favorite dessert – cheesecake. But not just any cheesecake, I wanted to bake an Oreo Cheesecake.

I realize that this recipe is not technically from around the world because it’s from America, but it is my birthday and I wanted to make something that I love. I have made a lot of cheesecakes before, but never an Oreo one so I figured I would try it out.

Before I even started looking up recipes, I went straight to the history of cheesecake and I found some pretty interesting things.

Cheesecake actually dates back all the way to Ancient Greece, where it was seen as a source of energy. They served it to athletes before the first Olympic Games. It was also used as a traditional wedding cake at the time. However, it wasn’t until the 18th century that cheesecake started to look like it does today.

There were a couple different recipes that I was debating between, but in the end I went with the Kraft recipe because I have made other Kraft cheesecakes before and they turned out well. Below are some pictures of different steps throughout the recipe:

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It’s a pretty simple recipe to follow. I had trouble crushing the Oreo’s for the bottom of the cheesecake, but eventually I just put them in a bag and took out the rolling pin to crush them and that seemed to work fine. I also found it difficult when I had to chop more Oreo’s for on the top because they were too soft and the icing was coming out the sides. I would suggest freezing the Oreo’s if you are going to make this recipe.

Only one of my other siblings likes cheesecake and when he found out I was making an Oreo one, he came home right away! The cheesecake was a success and even though I had to make my own birthday cake, I still enjoyed it very much (baking and eating it).

Crème Brûlée is a popular dessert in France, but when I began looking up the history of the dish I found out that where it comes from is not exactly known. France, England and Spain all claim that they created Crème Brûlée.

Most people believe that it is a French recipe because the name itself is French and translates to “burnt cream”. The earliest known reference to this dish was in France in the 1691 release of François Massialot’s cookbook. In the 1731 edition of the cookbook the name of the same recipe was changed from “crème brûlée” to “crème anglaise“.

In England, this dish is known as “Trinity Burnt Cream”, created at Trinity College Cambridge in the 17thcentury. Whereas the French version of this dish is very sweet, British Trinity Cream is unsweetened and the topping is thicker and crustier. A small round iron, known as a salamander, is heated and then placed on top to caramelise the sugar.

In Spain, it is called crema catalana and they believe it was invented it in the 18th century. It is served as cold custard with a hot topping on Saint Joseph’s Day (March 19th), which is the equivalent of our Father’s Day. On this day grandmothers and maiden aunts are the ones who get to make this dish.

After doing much research, I decided to bake the popular French recipe that can be found here. I have never baked this myself, but my mom has many times and I have always enjoyed it. We have a special blow torch at my house to caramelize the sugar on top, so really I just wanted to bake this recipe so I could try using it. Below is a picture of the finished dish right before serving it.

This time before I started baking I asked someone to take pictures for me while I was doing different steps and that seemed to work a lot better than trying to mix things and take pictures myself. The recipe said that it would serve 5, but I ended up making 8 servings and some of the ramekins I used were deeper than others so the cooking time varied.

I cut out the last 3 steps of the recipe because I was using a torch instead of broiling them in the oven and I also did not let them set again in the fridge before serving them. The cream part was still cold and I liked the contrast of taste between the cold bottom layer and the hot top layer. Overall the taste was delicious and I still had some left over for the next day that I could eat right out of the fridge, so there wasn’t that contrast of hot and cold anymore. Below are some pictures of different steps taken throughout the recipe.

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As I continue travelling the world through dessert recipes, this week I found myself in England enjoying tea with a slice of Victoria Sponge Cake (a favorite of Queen Victoria). For more information on the history of this dessert, you can click here.

After searching for popular English recipes this is the one I came across most often so I figured that I should give it a try. There were many different recipes to make this and in the end I decided on a recipe from Eat Live Run, which you can find here.

As I read through the recipe it all seemed quite simple until I read that I needed a knob of butter. What is a knob of butter? one might ask. I simply did not know, so I looked it up and found out that it’s just a tablespoon or two.

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After getting all the ingredients out I started measuring and mixing. Once it was in the oven I was putting all the ingredients away and I noticed something. I forgot to add an ingredient! The vanilla extract was sitting on the counter unopened and I couldn’t remember adding it to the mix.

The cakes were already in the oven so I couldn’t change anything now; I just had to hope that it would turn out alright. I looked at the recipe again, however, and after going over the directions I realized that it never said when to add the vanilla. It was in the ingredients list, but not in the actual directions, so I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal.

While the cakes were cooking I cut up fresh strawberries. I know the recipe said to use jam in the middle but I wanted to add some fresh fruit too. After the cakes had completely cooled, I started with a thin layer of jam on the top of the first cake and then added the fresh strawberries on top of that before adding the whipped cream and the other cake to make it look like a stuffed cookie.

When I added the top cake everything started coming out the sides! I wasn’t sure what to do about this so I finished quickly, covered it and put it in the fridge hoping that if it got cold everything would stop sliding out.

When I looked at it later most of it had still fallen out, but the taste was still amazing!

After finally deciding that I would write a blog on different things that I bake, I had to decide what to bake. I wanted to try different recipes from around the world. I started by looking at different desserts from Holland (being that my mom’s side of the family is from there, I figured I would try something out). My mom and my grandma used to make boterkoek (which literally translates to butter cake) when I was smaller and I liked it then so I figured I should try making it myself.

I started by finding a recipe online. I like to use the website allrecipes.com because there are certain features that I like about it. The first one being that you can change the serving size and the amount of ingredients all change. The second thing I like about this website is that it has the nutritional information after the recipe. So, here is the recipe that I decided to use: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/dutch-boterkoek/ .

The recipe is pretty straight forward and I already had all the ingredients in my house so I figured I would give it a try.  It started out pretty good until I had to mix the butter, so if you decide to make this recipe yourself I would make sure the butter is room temperature before mixing it. After I finally got the butter mixed the rest went pretty smoothly.

After dinner I cut the cake, but I thought it looked very plain and boring so I added some whipped cream and raspberries to the plate. The cake was a great success and everyone seemed to enjoy it. My mom told me that she had never tasted one so lemony before and we figured out that my grandma used to make it with slivered almonds and almond extract instead of lemon zest and vanilla extract. So either way you make it, it will still taste delicious.

The only complaint came from myself and it was that it was baked for too long. The recipe said to leave it in the oven for about 35 minutes. I took it out after 32 minutes, but I still thought that the edges were too cooked. If I bake this recipe again, I would probably only leave it in the oven for 30 minutes. Overall, it turned out to be a success and everyone in my family cannot wait to see what I decide to bake next week!