Posts Tagged ‘cooking class’

Pastry Class with Mallory at Maja’s Kitchen!

As you all know I have taught cooking classes for over 20 years…and loved every moment of it.  Recently, however, we have sold our big home and have moved into a Condominium that we now call our home.  Little did I know that I would be asked to teach a class occasionally here in a much smaller kitchen.   At first I was concerned if it even would be possible to make it work, since the space is truly  very small.  The first class was with two little boys (10 and 6 years old) as I have posted earlier, who used to come to the Gingerbread House Decorating Afternoons during the month of December for many years at our old home. This past year the family was relocating to Arizona and the boys wanted to have a “cooking class at Maja’s Kitchen” before they moved.  I was thrilled and did not want to disappoint them. Therefore, I quickly set up the class together with their Mom. It was great fun for all of us.

Now, just a few weeks ago a friend asked if I could do a class with her friend’s daughter who creates and sells cakes as a business. Well, again I could not miss this opportunity.

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Mallory is 14 years old….

and already has her own pastry business…by the name of….. “Sweets”

Mallory does primarily fondant work with cakes and makes cakes for special occasions for her clients, mostly children’s birthdays…. My class with her was about butter creams and decorating with plant material  She wanted to learn to work in another media other than fondant.
We made  Austrian Vanilla and Chocolate Butter Creams.  While working with her she showed me that she was a very serious student, and is truly very talented. In four years she definitely will be ready for the Culinary Institute of America.  We need to keep our ears and eyes open for her continued progress.

Austrian Butter Cream Recipe!

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My Butter Cream is a European custard based cream…it contains 50% unsalted butter and 50 % of a thick custard.  It is very versatile since one can add any flavor to it and make it into a chocolate cream as well…

In Europe…as I remember from my mother and from reading many of my Austrian and German Pastry Cookbooks that there is no distinction between an icing or a filling for a cake.

There are many fillings for cakes… many are not necessarily butter creams.  When it comes to fillings for cakes there are different flavored butter creams; butter creams flavored with various alcohols, like brandy and liqueurs, as well as Vanilla, Almond, Orange, Lemon, Coffee and Chocolate flavorings.  But, there are also fillings that are made from cake crumbs that are mixed with either alcohol, jams or finely grated nuts  that make up the center layer of a cake.  My favorite is a nut filling that is mixed with cake crumbs, nuts and brandy…..

But today I will show you how Mallory and I made the  Austrian Vanilla Butter Cream.


You need a very thick custard cooled to room temperature and the same amount of butter also at room temperature and of course sugar but it has to be Powdered Sugar, a Vanilla as the flavor.

Custard Recipe

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2 cups whole milk

1/3 cup cornstarch

½ cup sugar

2  jumbo eggs – you can use large size eggs as well

Add the above ingredients into a sauce pan,  starting with the milk, then the cornstarch and mix it well until the starch particles are well  suspended in the milk, then add the sugar and the 2 whole eggs. Again, mix well until all is well integrated into the milk.

2013-07-23 11.47.50 Turn on the heat …to high, and cook  the mixture while stirring constantly.  The mixture will start to change color to a deeper yellow color; when the first boiling bubbles appears take the sauce pan off the heat and holding it in your hand mix vigorously  with your other hand until the custard is smooth and silky.

Sometimes I have to put the custard back onto the burner for just a few seconds to heat it just a bit more then again take the custard off the heat and mix it well until it is smooth and creamy.

At this time the custard might appear a little lumpy, but as you keep mixing/whipping it the lumps will disappear.

I usually taste it to make sure that the starch is cooked.

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Transfer the custard into a small glass bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.  Let it cool to room temperature which will take a couple of hours at least.

However, you can place it into an ice bath or refrigerator to cool it quicker.  If the custard is in the ice bath then keep mixing it which speeds up the cooling process.    If you have time then cool it in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap for about one hour or so. This custard can be made a day or two ahead and kept refrigerated, but the custard will take about 2 to 3 hours to get to room temperature …or it can be microwaved, but care needs to be  taken not to over heat it…then you have to go through the whole process to cool it down to room temperature again…When you are ready to start to make the Butter Cream transfer the cooled custard into your food processor and process it for a couple of minutes to make the custard smooth and creamy before adding it to the whipped butter and powdered sugar..

 Classic Butter Cream

4 sticks unsalted butter (2 cups)

2/3 cup powdered sugar – more if needed

Cream butter and powdered sugar until very fluffy

Add above cooled and processed custard  – one spoon at a time – and incorporate it into the butter mixture

Mix very slow and do not over beat

Add flavorings




Artificial flavorings, Vanilla, Coconut, Orange, lemon, etc…

Add as much as you like….I start with 1 Tbsp…then add more if the flavor is strong enough to my taste….

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Mallory and I had a great day together creating these Austrian Layered Cakes!


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Maja’s Kitchen



Maja/Maria Reisz Springer

Unauthorized use, distribution, and/or duplication of proprietary material without prior approval is prohibited. If you have any questions or would like permission, I can be contacted via email at: maria@majaskitchen.com   Feel free to quote me, just give credit where credit is due, link to the recipe, and please send people to my website, http://www.majaskitchen.com

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Russian Easter Babka

In Eastern and Central European Countries (like the area of the former Polish-Lihuanian Commonwealth, which includes Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Belarus, Ukraine, Western Russia and a part of northeastern Hungary) a special cake is prepared to celebrate Easter.  It is the Babka, also called Kulich, served with a cheese mixture that is called Paskha….

Babka or Kulich is a tall cylindrical sweet yeast cake.  It is flavored with rum soaked raisins, and candied fruit.  Sometimes Saffron is added to make the cake more yellow. However, I feel that the egg yolks give me enough yellow color therefore I do not add the Saffron.

I remember my grandmother adding saffron to her yeast cakes at Easter.  When I was a little girl I watched her making the cakes  and asked her why she added the red strings to the dough…she answered:  “Saffron macht den Kucha gel,”  speaking in her Swabian dialect.   (Saffron makes the cake yellow.)

This cylindrical cake when baked is traditionally crowned with a white icing, Royal Icing, and is sprinkled with chopped candied fruit and almonds.

Babka is also traditionally served with Paskha, a creamy cheese mold.  It consists of a combination of sweetened Pot Cheese, or cottage cheese, nuts, mostly almonds and candied fruit. It is molded into a four sided pyramid, and decorated with nuts or candy to form the letters XB, which stands for “Christ is risen.”  Paskha is the traditional and classical accompaniment for this sweet  yeast bread, Babka, also called Kulich.


I make my Paskha with a tub of whipped cream cheese and add:

Rum or brandy soaked chopped apricots – do not add the run or alcohol that the fruit has soaked in

1 Tbsp Candied lemon and orange peels

1 Tbsp Chopped almonds or hazelnuts

1 Tbsp chopped chocolate

1 tsp  Zest of a lemon

1 tsp Zest of an orange

1 tsp of either brandy or rum

Mix all the ingredients together and serve it in a bowl with the Babka,

or form the pyramid and design the letters XB on one side of the Paskha.

One can also add the letters XB on top of the Paskha when served in a bowl.


If one does not like the alcohol…. brandy or rum flavoring can be added in stead,

1 tsp of either one.

The Easter Babka

To make it simple….

I sometimes serve the Babka with whipped cream cheese and home made jam!

Prepare the yeast:

2 pkg dry yeast

1 Tbsp sugar

1 ½ cups milk, warmed

1 cup flour

Warm the milk in a glass bowl in the microwave…to lukewarm. Gradually stir into the milk the two packets of dry yeast, sugar and the flour using a whisk or a fork whisking until the mixture is smooth.

Cover the mixture with a towel or plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place until it doubles in bulk.

Ingredients for the cake batter

½ cup softened butter

1 cup of sugar

7 egg yolks

4 cups of flour

¼ tsp salt

Zest of one orange

2 tsp Vanilla

1 tsp Orange Flavoring

1 cup rum soaked raisins or craisins, discard the soaking alcohol

½ cup sliced almonds

In an Electric Mixer

Cream butter and sugar until very creamy and add the 7 egg yolks, one at a time and mixing well between each one.  Add the vanilla and the orange flavoring.  Mix well.

Add the risen yeast mixture and add the 4 cups of flour/salt mixture and beat well.  The dough will be quite soft.

Leave the dough in the mixing bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and, place it in a warm spot in your kitchen

to rise until it is double in bulk.

Baking the Babka

I have saved some of the metal coffee cans from the past and bake the Babka in them.  However you can bake it in a Bundt pan or Kugelhupf form or even in loaf pans.  It is, after all a breakfast bread.  But, if you are from Russian decent and want to be traditional, look and see if you have some old 2 pound metal coffee cans in some of your kitchen cabinets hidden away.

Whatever baking form you will use, you will probably need two of them, grease them; you do not need to dust them with flour and set them aside until the dough is risen and is ready to be baked.

While you wait…heat the oven to 350 F

When the dough has doubled in size, mix it gently and bring it down to almost the original bulk.

Fill each prepared baking form about half full with the dough, and let it rise again until it doubles in bulk.

Now place it into the pre-heated 350 F oven and bake the cake about 50 to 60 minutes, depending on your oven.

Watch that the top does not brown too quickly, if it does place a piece of foil over each of the cakes to slow down the browning.

At about 45 minutes into the baking time, I usually check the cakes with a thermometer to see if the cakes are close to be baked.   The thermometer needs to read between 190 F and 200 F to be completely baked.

When done, remove from the oven and place it on a rack to cool.

Do not take it out of the baking pans until it is almost completely cooled.   This is a very delicate cake it will break into pieces if taken out too soon.

When it is out of the baking pan let it completely cool before glazing it with Royal Icing.

Royal Icing

1 egg white

½ pound powdered sugar

2 Tbsp lemon juice

Place egg white and sugar into a mixing bowl and beat until very white in color and thick, but runny.

Now add the 2 Tbsp of lemon juice and mix again. The icing has to be thick but able to run down the sides of the cake. Place the cake onto a plate or platter to ice them, not on the platter that you will serve the cake on your buffet.

With a big spoon drop the icing on top of the cake and help it a little to run down the sides. The drips do not have to drip all the way to the bottom of the cake, but do not be too concerned when they do in some cases and puddles collect at the bottom.

When the icing is quite dry, I usually let it dry uncovered overnight on my kitchen counter.

Next day I gently lift it off the plate and place it on a pretty platter ready for the occasion I have planned it for.

Hope you have fun preparing wonderful, not too sweet, yeast bread that will go well with either tea or coffee and the rest of your Easter Breakfast.

Cutting and Serving the Babka

This cake can be cut into large rounds and then the rounds can be cut in half

Or………..it can be cut from the top down and then cut into little triangles.

The Babka can be made a couple weeks in advance because it freezes well, however the decoration with the Royal Icing needs to be done after the cake is thawed and before it is served.   I do it the night before the breakfast.  To freeze it I wrap the cake with three layers of plastic wrap before I place it into the freezer.

I wish you all a wonderful and Happy Easter!


Copyright: Maria Reisz Springer……..

Maja’s Kitchen….





Unauthorized use, distribution, and/or duplication of proprietary material without prior approval is prohibited. If you have any questions or would like permission, I can be contacted via email at: maria@majaskitchen.com   Feel free to quote me, just give credit where credit is due, link to the recipe, and please send people to my website, http://www.majaskitchen.com

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