Summer Cake with Strawberries, Lemon and Yogurt

In summer, waking up in the morning to warm sunshine and a blue sky feels so good. But it feels even better when you know that there's a freshly baked strawberry cake waiting for you to eat it for breakfast. Well, I must correct myself: not only for breakfast, but all day long. Seriously, this cake is perfect at any time. Serve it with a spoonful of lightly sweetened plain greek yogurt on top and there you go - the most delicious summer dessert of all time!

Strawberry Summer Cake

150gm butter or margarine, at room temperature
150gm white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
a pinch of ground nutmeg
a pinch of ground cinnamon
3 eggs
zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tsp)
280gm regular white flour
2 tsp baking powder
130gm plain yogurt or buttermilk

+ about 300gm of fresh fruits, cut in halves or pieces or slices - I was using 1 large nectarine cut in thin slices and about 20 large strawberries cut in halves. What kind of seasonal fruit you add totally depends on your taste. blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, pears, apricots, nectarines, kiwi, rhubarb - add anything you wish.

Preheat your oven to 200 C. Line a medium size round baking pan with baking paper but do not grease the sides of the pan. Place soft butter, sugar, lemon zest, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl and beat using a hand mixer on high speed until fluffy for about a minute. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. In another bowl sift together flour and baking powder and sieve it over the wet mixture, quickly beating it in. The batter should be very dry and sticky. Now add the yogurt or buttermilk and quickly beat it in as well making sure that everything is well incorporated. Now the batter should be extremely fluffy, light and smooth. Put the batter into the lined baking pan spreading it evenly. Arrange all the pieces or slices of fruit on top of the batter and lightly press them in. Now prepare the crumble mixture...

30gm butter or margarine, at room temperature
30gm sugar
50gm regular white flour
a pinch of salt

Combine the ingredients for the crumbles in a bowl and beat using a hand mixer on low speed for about 10 seconds, just until the mixture is lumpy and crumbly, and arrange the crumbles on top of the cake onto the fruits. Put everything in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes until done and nicely golden. Let it cool completely and then remove the cake from the baking pan. Enjoy ...

Simple Oatmeal Yogurt Cookies

Honestly, this needs no introduction. These cookies are extremely easy to make and they're perfect for breakfast, just have them with a cup of simple hot coffee or (if you are into yogurt like I am) cut some fruits that you like in small pieces, mix them with half a cup of plain yogurt and crumble some oatmeal cookies on top, and voilĂ  - another delicious breakfast is ready!

Simple Oatmeal Yogurt Cookies
makes about 2 dozen medium size cookies

1 cup simple white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tabsp butter
3/4 cups sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup yogurt
1 1/2 cups oats (any kind you like, I was using quick cooking oats. Use old-fashioned rolled oats if you prefer cookies that are more crispy and chunky)

Preheat oven to 180 C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper. Cream together butter and sugar using an electric mixer on high speed. Add the egg and yogurt, mix well. In another bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt and sieve the dry mixture over the wet mixture, mix everything together. Now fold in the oats. For one cookie drop about one tablespoon of the batter on the lined baking sheets (or about one teaspoon of batter for smaller size cookies). When dropping the small portions of batter on the sheet, make sure to leave some space in between as the cookies will slightly spread while baking. Bake for about 10 - 12 minutes until nicely golden and done. Enjoy.

Semolina Flatbread

As you may already know my all-time favorite is yeasted dough. Though I love bread and especially baking bread by myself, I mostly use it for sweet things e.g. buns, brioche or challah. My friendship with yeasted dough began with cinnamon raisin buns which are - honestly - the love of my life. Eating them warm when they're still fresh from the oven makes me weak. I could literally eat them all day long. 
This time I came up with an non-sweet recipe with yeast dough: arabic semolina flatbread. Coming from a country with an extreme arabic and jewish influence, flatbread has always been sort of a must-have on our table. No matter if plain or spicey, thick or thin, crispy or soft, chewy or oily, it is usually eaten with everything, either with meat or rice and vegetables. And soaking a piece of flatbread in a left-over salad dressing or sauce is just culinary heaven! Seriously, who needs meat when there's flatbread and salad dressing?
This recipe for semolina flatbread is very easy, no dough braiding, no swirling, no complicated forming. But the result is stunning. An extremely soft and fluffy inside and some toasted sesame seeds on top. The semolina goes just great in flatbread, as it gives a slightly cakey consistency to the bread and a nice yellow color. 

Semolina flatbread

20gm fresh yeast (or 2 tsp dry active yeast)
175ml warm water
250gm semolina
250gm white flour
1.5 tsp salt
125ml olive oil
1 egg (for brushing)
3 Tabsp sesame seeds (for sprinkling)

Crumble the fresh yeast into the warm water, stir a little bit and let sit for a few minutes until the mixture starts to become light and bubbly. In a large glass bowl, sift together semolina, flour and salt. Add the bubbly yeast mixture and olive oil, gently mix using a wooden spatula or spoon. If the dough seems to be dry, add a little bit more water, if it seems too wet, add some sieved flour. Now remove the dough from the glass bowl and start kneading it on a slightly floured surface for about 2 - 3 minutes until it becomes very soft and elastic. Put it back in the glass bowl, cover with a kitchen towel or a plastic wrap and leave it at a very warm place for about 60 - 90 minutes until the dough has doubled in size. Meanwhile line two large baking sheets with baking paper. Remove from the glass bowl and knead again for about 1 minute. Devide the dough in two parts. Place each part on a lined baking sheet and roll it out using a rolling pin or simply your hands. The dough should be 2 - 3 cm high/thick (about 1 inch). (It doesn't have to look perfectly even, the more natural and messy it looks, the better it will taste...) Leave the two baking sheets at a very warm place again for about 30 minutes until the dough has slightly risen. Preheat your oven to 200 C. Beat the egg and brush the top of the risen dough. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for about 30 minutes until nicely golden. Serve warm or cooled, both versions are delicious!

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies with Lemon & Raisins

The next batch is baked. And again: it's oatmeal cookies! My constant posts about different kinds of oatmeal cookies might be irretating or even annoying and I apologize for that, but I can't help it. Someday I might even write a book called 'Confessions of an Oatmeal Cookie Addict'
These cookies contain a little bit more sugar than I use in general which is a big minus for this recipe, but the extremely chewy consistency mixed with a fruity lemony taste as well as some raisins remains just unbeatable. I'm definitely adding this recipe to my list of favorites (which is probably endless) but nevertheless, I'm going to reduce the amount of sugar the next time.

Chewy Oatmeal Lemon Raisin Cookies
makes about 4 dozen medium to big size cookies

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups oats
1.5 cups sugar (as already said, for me 1 cup or even 3/4 might be enough, use as much as you wish)
3/4 cup oil
1 cup apple juice (or any juice you like)
a pinch of salt
2 tsp of finely grated lemon zest
200gm dark raisins

Line 3 - 4 baking sheets with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 200 C. (Yes those are baked at a very high temperature which gives them nicely crispy sides and a soft and chewy inside.) Whisk together flour and baking powder. Add the sugar, oil, apple juice, salt and lemon zest. Whisk well until incorporated. Now fold in the oats and raisins and mix well. For each cookie drop about 1 tsp of cookie batter onto the lined baking sheet, if you want medium size cookies. Use about half a teaspoon of batter for smaller cookies. Continue to drop the batter on the baking sheets leaving some space in between as the cookies will slightly melt and spread while baking. Bake for about 10 - 12 minutes. After 10 or 12 minutes they might still look undone but please do yourself a favour and don't leave them in the oven for longer than this, you don't want to end up with burned cookies that taste like wood. 10 minutes are perfectly fine. 
Enjoy them with some coffee or tea (I dunked them, as always...)