vendredi 27 novembre 2009

La chanson de la pluie and stacked cannoli for the Daring Bakers

This morning I awoke to the sound of the wind howling outside and the pattering of raindrops on the window-pane. Like Proust's narrator, I often spend some minutes looking at the thin crack of daylight above the curtains to imagine the kind of day it will be. It felt good under the warmth and heaviness of my winter quilt but that made it harder to leave my bed and face the world. In the evenings, I look from my balcony to a street that runs parallel to mine and particularly to a large skylight on the top floor which glows with warmth. Since I returned from Italy, I haven't stopped thinking about about the light and colours there. Every rain filled day makes me miss it a bit more. Berlin in late autumn and winter is very grey and you're grateful for every break in the clouds. I long for cold, dry winter's days with snow sparkling in the brilliant sunshine and dream about spending Christmas in Canada making snowmen. Yet I try to take comfort the the little things; at dusk, the streets are filled with Christmas lights and the brilliant illuminations of shop window decorations. Soon, I'll visit the markets for Glühwein, Lebkuchen and waffles. I make tisane and learn Italian on the sofa or read Proust and a fabulous book on Boris Vian which another wonderful blogger sent me. I watch New Wave films, especially those with the lovely and charming Anna Karina who inspired me to get a new hairstyle and I even found the missing Truffaut film in my collection after years of searching which I hope to watch later.

A few weeks ago, I also tried to remind myself to enjoy the last of the autumn leaves but somehow didn't notice the moment when they all disappeared completely until last Sunday when I saw the naked branches of the trees stretching up to the sky. I had finally made it to Köpenick, somewhere I had never travelled, in East Berlin. It's just 20 minutes from Alexanderplatz but it feels really different and it's much easier there to imagine how things were before reunification, unlike in Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain which have become the coolest places. The streets were fairly empty, except for small groups emerging from church and stopping outside to chat. The sky was colourless and overcast but by the waterfront, faint rays of sunlight flickered on the water for a few moments.

I strolled over to the charming castle with a small park behind it. Fallen leaves lay scattered on the ground, families were playing outside because it was so mild or walking around together, taking pictures. A sign for the Schloss café advertised a delicious sounding soup with pumpkin, ginger and salmon and also apple strudel with ice cream but inside the little room was packed with people savouring brunch and it was impossible to get served. By that time,I was feeling in serious need of refreshment and I wandered through the streets looking for another place to eat.

The Altstadtcafé is one of the most delightful places I've been to. Pushing the door open, I stepped into another world; there was a cosy room smelling of candle wax with wood panelling and German music from the 40s and 50s playing. The walls were covered in floral paper and the waitresses wore traditional long, white costumes. Around were shelves of books about coffee or Marlene Dietrich, cake stands, silver samovars and coffee grinders. Flicking through the menu, you find an neverending range of teas, coffees, chocolates and pastries to choose from, accompanied by charming sentences like "Ein Mann mag kein Herz haben aber er hat bestimmt einen Magen" (A man may not have a heart but he certainly has a stomach) or "Besser eine klare Brühe als ein reines Gewissen" (better to have a clear brew than a clean conscience). I ordered a hot chocolate with cream which was not as thick as Angelina's but was intense and rich and then quark strudel with cinnamon and vanilla sauce. It was perhaps not as good as in Austria but combined with such a wonderful ambiance, I had the impression that I was tasting something really special. People came in to order whole cakes which they took away in large boxes, the sound of the coffee machine mingled with the delicate clinking of china cups and Sunday morning conversations.

On the way back to the station, the sky had turned dark and I felt a few raindrops on my face but the tops of the buildings were golden with the most intense light. I wished that I could capture all of these beautiful moments but no pictures or words seem enough so I just felt good being there to observe them. It was the perfect Sunday.

Of course, one the best things about November is also the fact that baking in the kitchen is a real comfort and makes you forget the cold and darkness outside. Today is also the reveal date for my Daring Bakers' challenge. I missed last month because it was macaroons; my first attempt was a disaster and I wished that I could have had lessons with the
best macaroon maker in the world, then I was ill and didn't manage a second attempt. This month I was very excited to learn that we had to make cannoli; I had been dying to try them ever since I saw Patoumi's holiday post. At first I wanted to make them with cannoli tubes so they could be filled in the middle but no matter how hard I looked, I couldn't find any. Finally, I decided to stack them and fill them with mascarpone and cream, topped with red currants. Thanks to Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives for choosing such a great challenge:


Ingredients for the "Shells":
2 Cups (250g/16 ounces) All-purpose flour
2 Tbs (28 grams/1 ounce) Castor sugar
1 Tsp (5g/0.06 ounces) Unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 Tsp (1.15g/0.04 ounces) Ground cinnamon
1/2 Tsp (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) Salt
3 Tbs (42g/1.5 ounces) Vegetable or olive oil
1 Tsp (5g/0.18 ounces) White wine vinegar
~1/2 cup (approx. 59g/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125ml) Sweet Marsala, red Porto or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 Large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 Cups/approx. 2 litres)
Confectioners' sugar

If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough (Thanks to Audax).

Directions for the "Shells":
1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.
2. Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough coveredwhile you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.
3. Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.
4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.
5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.
6. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.
7. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

Directions for "Stacked Cannoli":
1. Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan, to 350-375°F (176 - 190 °C).
2. Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.


100g mascarpone
100g double cream
1 tablespoon sugar
Some redcurrants to decorate
Icing sugar to dust

1. To make the filling, beat the mascarpone with the double cream and sugar until you have the consistency you want - it should be thick but not too stiff. Apply a layer of the cream to each round cannoli and top with red currants. Sandwich the different layers together and dust the top and sides with icing sugar. Delicious!

29 commentaires:

  1. Quelle atmosphère dans tes photos et il y a toujours autant de poésie ici. Tu as raison la cuisine aide à illuminer les journées bien grises.
    Et bravo pour ton cannolo (mm), ce n'est une pâte évidente :-)
    Très bon week end

  2. Your stacked cannoli look delightful! Great job!

    This kind of weather makes you want to never get out of bed...



  3. J'aime bien la papier peint fleuri à l'ancienne ; toutes tes photos sont très évocatrices ! Je me souviens avoir mangé des cannolis dans un train de retour d'Italie mais je n'ai jamais imaginé pouvoir en faire ; beau travail ! (et contente que tu sois touchée par les mots de C.D. sur Vian)

  4. Your photos are lovely! It's amazing how quickly autumn arrives- I especially love the photo of birch trees. Somehow they always make me think of northern Michigan- where they abound. When I was a child, we used to take pieces of the bark off fallen limbs and pretend it was paper.
    Your cannolis look delicious. It's fun watching how all you daring bakers do the same basic recipe in a different way.

  5. This post is really magic, feels like a sweet walk under the red trees surrounded with incredibles smells of cinammon and icing sugar! It makes me forget for a while that night falls at 4 pm over Berlin, which makes me often throw myself on Kinder Schockolade and Mojitos in bars, rather than on my kitchen tools.

    But I ate a nice traditionnal Currywurst in Mitte (Fleischerei) yesterday with a dear friend and it felt like junk food can heal your soul from the winter's darkness.

    And then, reading your post, I decided I would bake sth for my friends tonight instead of bringing the "ewige Flasche Wein". Probably not the Canolli Shells, but I'll have a look through your recipes.

    By the way, your photos are amazing.

  6. C'est gentil, mais je ne suis pas la best macaroon maker in the world ;-)
    Les filles ont raison, les photos sont magnifiques (surtout la première, et celle avec la chaise - et puis celle avec les bouleaux me fait penser à Schiele).

  7. Oh que oui, le ciel de Novembre nous fait regretter la lumière transalpine. Mais ce chocolat crémeux, onctueux, donnerait presque envie d'aller passer Novembre en Allemagne. On ne peux pas avoir le plaisir et le regret à la fois.

  8. Thanks for all your lovely comments ladies - it brightens up my day reading them. Just got back from a late Thanksgiving dinner with lots of delicious food.
    Dada - Eh oui, il faut chercher les points forts et puis c'est agréable de se préparer des gâteaux quand il pleut à grosses gouttes dehors et on ne doit pas sortir :-). J'avais de la chance avec la pâte de cannolo; je l'ai faite avec mon mixer et puis elle était bien lisse et facile à rouler. Bon week-end à toi aussi!
    Rosa - Thanks for finding time to stop by - I really appreciate that - and also for the compliment. It was a cool challenge and I hope I can follow your example and not miss another challenge. You're right, it's hard to get out of bed with the cold and darkness but I try to make an effort at weekends.
    Rose - Ce livre de C.D me plaît énormément - j'essaie de le lire assez lentement pour le savourer - et en plus j'écoute la musique de Duke Ellington pour les journées grises. Ce café à Köpenick était si charmant et j'aimerais bien t'y emmener un jour :-) Les cannoli ne sont pas si difficiles (c'était un défi un peu moins compliqué que ceux dans le passé); je pense c'est plus agréable de les faire dans une friteuse car il faut pas mal d'huile et j'ai peur de la friture, même si j'y suis arrivée cette fois.
    Barbara - Thanks so much. That's a lovely story and it's nice when people can associate memories with my photos. We had birch trees in our backyard and I used to love to see their changing leaves and watch them swaying in the wind. You're right, it's funny how inventive the D.B makes us, even if I alwqys feel a little nervous at the start of each new month at the thought of making some of these things. Still, it's good for me!
    Sarah - Merci beaucoup! Ils ne sont pas trop difficiles et je crois qu'avec tes talents dans la cuisine ce ne sera pas un problème pour toi!
    Magda - Ah, currywurst with pommes is so great for those depressing, rainy days. Some afternoons, I have the impression it's really late and it's only 3pm! Still, I try to stay positive and look for the little pleasures. I'm so glad my post on Köpenick made you feel better and thanks for the lovely comment about my photos; let me know if my recipes turn out OK. Apparently the banana cake can be tricky, although it's too late to advise you what to make now! The ones with lemons or apples are probably better. Am hoping to see a couple of exhibitions tomorrow and the one at C/O Berlin is planned for Monday. Enjoy the rest of the weekend Magda!
    Mingou - C'est vrai, il y a aussi Pierre Hermé ;-). En fait, tes photos me donnent envie de ressayer les macarons, peut-être chez mes parents bientôt car ils ont un très bon four et puis on verra si la faute est à moi! Et merci beaucoup pour ce commentaire si gentil - je suis vraiment touchée. J'aime tant la peinture de Schiele mais ca fait un petit moment que je n'ai pas vu les photos de lui.
    Gracienne - Je ne sais pas si Paris est aussi gris que Berlin en automne et en hiver. Je trouve c'est plus déprimant après Noel quand les journées sont encore plus courtes. Mais tu as raison qu'il y a aussi des choses agréables et réconfortantes dans cette saison parfois triste et il faut en profiter! Jeudi la semaine dernière il a fait un temps magnifique et je suis sortie pour attraper quelques rayons; c'était si agréable.

  9. Encore une bien jolie pâtisserie..
    Bon dimanche!

  10. Merci Marion, mais maintenant j'ai très envie de ton moelleux. Heureusement j'ai un pannettone au chocolat pour me sauver! Bon dimanche à toi aussi.

  11. Proust and cannoli?? I understand???
    Veeery good!!! Thank you for your lovely comment.... I'm happy! By

  12. hummm ce dessert ressemble un pure moment de bonheur !!!!

  13. What a wonderful recipe! I've never had red currants before but I sure do love cannolis. Thanks for this stacked recipe, now I don't need to find those molds for the shell.

    Thanks Vanessa!

  14. Viriginie - Ah oui, c'est très réconfortant comme dessert.
    Art and appetite - Thanks so much and welcome back! Redcurrants can be a little sour alone but used with sweet things, they provide a good balance. I was pretty disappointed about not finding the tubes but stacked cannoli work great and my kitchen's way too small for all these gadgets anyway...

  15. Well, the result was not so bad actually, although you read my post and know what was missing...

    By the way, you made me discover Nylon (on the right column of your blog), thanks, I really enjoy it.

  16. Il rimaiolo - I forgot you - sorry! Yes, Proust and cannoli - two things I love. Thanks for your visit and have a good afternoon!

  17. Magda - I'm sure you did a great job, although your post was classic and I translated it for my German friends who found it hilarious.
    Cool you like Nylon - the lead singer, Lisa Bassenge, is especially amazing and I hope to see them in concert again soon.

  18. Tu me sourires ce matin, Anna Karina est merveilleuse n'est-ce pas! Lorsque j'étais jeune mon père m'apprenait des chansons que je chantais contre des 25 sous et cette chanson était une de ses favorites (avec des chansons de Jacques Dutronc). Ma grand-mère s'offusquait des choix de mon père - avec raison! Plusieurs personnes croient que ce film est déprimant, triste et morbide. J'aime beaucoup l'atmosphère dans ce film et le travail psychique de Julien, car en refusant d'oublier sa femme, elle est toujours vivante... Très beau billet et magnifiques photos! Félicitations, tes cannolis napoléon sont très réussis! Nous avons reçu de la neige hier, mais malheureusement elle a toute fondu. Comme toi la grisaille de l'automne me donne les blues. J'espère que nous aurons de la neige d'ici Noël pour faire des bonhommes de neige et surtout parce que les fêtes sans neige c'est trop déprimant! Bonne journée!

  19. oulà tout ce sucre! l'hiver me donne plutot envie de tartines de fromage fondant et gratiné à la fois. Ce quartier a l'air intéressant, il faut décidément que je revienne à berlin.

  20. oulà tout ce sucre! l'hiver me donne plutot envie de tartines de fromage fondant et gratiné à la fois. Ce quartier a l'air intéressant, il faut décidément que je revienne à berlin.

  21. Isa - Ah oui, Anna Karina est si adorable et charmante. C'est une très belle femme mais aussi une actrice merveilleuse, peut-être ma préférée. J'aime beaucoup lire tes histoires de jeunesse car tu les racontes si bien et c'est super d'apprendre que cette chanson a tant compté pour toi! Je trouve que La Chambre Verte est un très beau film - subtil mais si émouvant. Même s'il ne faut pas refuser le bonheur, je suis d'accord avec lui qu'on oublie les morts trop vite et puis il existe des gens qui n'aiment qu'une seule personne. J'espère que tu auras de la neige bientôt. J'ai toujours rêvé d'un white Christmas. Merci et bonne journée!
    Sarah-Louise - C'est drôle, je fais si souvent des gâteaux mais comme toi, de grosses tartines au fromage me réconfortent plus que des choses sucrées en hiver(le curry aussi). C'est toujours une bonne idée de revenir à Berlin

  22. Bonjour,
    Je viens de parcourir votre blog, qui me plait beaucoup.
    Vous decrivez si bien une ambiance, le gris de l'hiver qui s'installe.
    J'ai aussi habite en Allemagne il y a une dizaine d'annees et, en vous lisant, je ressentais comme si j'y etais cette etrange tristesse des journees qui se faisaient grises et des hivers interminables. Nous aussi, nous arpentions les marches de Noel, retrouvions a l'exterieur l'ambiance de la fete.
    Depuis, le Noel allemand (et l'Allemagne, en fait) me manquent chaque annee, malgre le ciel gris... et vos billets me font voyager. Merci. :-)
    Bonne journee,
    Laurence (depuis New York...)

  23. Bonjour Laurence! Quel plaisir de lire votre si gentil commentaire ce matin - merci. Je connaissais votre blog merveilleux déjà et New York est aussi une ville dont je rêve. C'est vrai que l'hiver ici semble interminable et il faut chercher de la lumière et de la chaleur autant que l'on peut. En Angleterre non plus on n'a pas cette tradition de marchés et à chaque fois je me dis que j'ai bien de la chance d'habiter à Berlin pour cela. Bonne journée aussi et à bientôt!

  24. your post is an excellent example of good photos and a lovely recipe, i want to go back to berlin, now! loved your cannolli stack, its a wonderful idea, they look divine! cheers from london

  25. Pity in the kitchen - I'd be glad to show you round anytime you want! Thanks too for the compliment - that's such a big honour coming from a true artist like you.

  26. The food on this blog looks fantastic. You really do excellent work here.

  27. Des - Thanks so much, I try to make an effort and am glad you like it.