Caramelized walnut-carrot cake – vegan

by Anna
caramelized walnut carrot cake
Have you wondered yet, where Hetty has disappeared to? We haven’t heard from her on modewaerts since her delish sweet potato and mangold pizza – and boy, was that a great meal idea! She just confirmed she will be back in the summer. For right now I only say: Internship, Switzerland, whoah…

Last year around this time Hetty made this fabulous carrot cake with one slice of it looking like an elephant. She made it for her family who devoured it within one tea/coffee time session, I believe. This made me curious – as I had never baked nor eaten sweet carrot cake – and I made a vegan version. It was good. It was actually so good that I ate the whole thing by myself, but I won’t mention that in public. I have? Oh, well…

Anyway, I took my time to savour each of the different flavours within it, the carrots, the walnuts, the cinnamon, and found that I would like to try a version with caramelized nuts. Usually I would not copy Hetty, as in repost her ideas here, but I do love to make and taste the things she made. Have you made her vegan panna cotta yet? You should!!!
caramel carrot cake
Her recipe was before dairy-free or vegan days, so I can justify myself with having made a vegan version. I still feel bad for being a copy-cat. But then again this is not a battle and you make whichever one you prefer!

Caramelized walnut-carrot cake
125g walnuts, chopped
450g carrots, shredded

325 g spelt flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 pinch vanilla

3 tablespoons apple sauce
2 tablespoons soy flour or corn starch
1 gulp soda / sparkling water

50 ml apple nectar (Apfelsüße) or agave nectar
200 g raw cane sugar
200 ml sunflower seed oil

Start by roughly chopping the walnuts, then gently roast them adding half of the sugar and all of the apple nectar to caramelize. Stir frequently. Peel the carrots and shred them. I liked to bring out the carrots sweetness even more and sauteed them a little as well.
hexagon cake
Mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, spices and the remaining sugar. By the way, we are using raw cane sugar here because it already tastes slighty caramelly… Add oil. Apple sauce, soy flour or starch and soda work to replace the eggs here. Whenever I am not sure how to replace I use all three egg replacements to be safe. Works well for me. So add those three and mix everything together using a big spoon. I found there is no need for a mixer here. Fold in the carrots and caramelized walnuts.
karamelisierter karotten kuchen
Pour Scrape in a spring form and bake at 200°C for 30-35 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the cake sit inside a little longer. This is a really moist cake, yum!

I cut mine into a hexagon just for the fun off it. That also meant I could eat some of the cake while giving the rest of it as a present, ha!

Chocolate mousse – vegan, simple & superb

by Anna
laktosefrei schokolade mousse
There is someone I would like to award a prize, a real trophy. There is just one problem: I don’t know that person. The reason why she merits an award is easy: Because she made up the best, easiest and quickest dairy-free chocolate mousse. She is Dani Stout of Ancestral Nutrition and I found her via pinterest, here is the original recipe
veganes mousse au chocolat
The idea is as genious as easy – isn’t that always the case? – whip up coconut milk with cocoa, honey and vanilla et voilà chocolate mousse! While hers is sweetened with honey, my version is vegan, I mean, it’s still lent and I am still feeding myself without animal produce. I bet at this point you are already salivating, right? Then get out your ingredients!

Vegan chocolate mousse makes two huge servings
1 can coconut milk
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
4 tablespoons agave nectar
3 tablespoons shredded coconut

Combine all ingredients and whisk heavily or beat with the hand mixer. Fill in cups or dessert bowls and let chill in the fridge for an hour. After the rest it should be a firm yet moussy, well, mousse.
vegan chocolate mousse
I won’t tell if you eat it all up by yourself, sshhh… By the way, did you notice the cups? I painted them

Square Easter basket – Grow grass in a take out pizza box

by Anna
square easter nest
Last year for Easter I ordered sod lawn. The advertising folders of the home improvement stores had been full of take away pizza type boxes with grass in them. I thought it was the coolest thing to order a patch of grass in a box for Easter decorations. To use it then as an nest (we do nests instead of Easter baskets) filled with chocolate eggs for the actual holiday.
pizzakarton osternest
I had found a place online in Northern Germany that would ship pizza boxed sod lawn for free. Just not into my state. So, no grass box for me. That was last year. This year I already knew way before the advertising folders arrived that I would have a square Easter basket in a pizza box. I would not blame you if you wanted one too…
boxed grass easter nest
supplies take out pizza box, plastic bag, sod lawn or grass seeds, soil

Line the pizza box with plastic, fill with soil and sprinkle the grass seeds and water. Put in a sunny place and wait. What? I know! Since this a bit last minute get sod lawn at the home improvement store and put in in the box. Okay? Okay.
pizza box easter basket
Decorate with a bunny and your favorite Easter treats.

I can hardly wait for the weekend! Easter brunch, Easter egg hunt and Easter fire. And maybe we’ll go to a place where there will be fireworks too. What are your plans for the Easter weekend?

Sourdough experimenting

by Anna
einkorn sauerteig brot
I had been intimidated by sourdough for far too long. In January I decided that it was ridiculous to be afraid of making sourdough starter when I had not even tried – and so I read up more on it and eventually gave it a try. My first attempt wasn’t perfect, but the starter did its thing: I ended up with bread. It was pretty flat as you can see but it has evolved since. I have learned some things along the way that I wanted to share with you. Firstly, to remind myself that there is nothing to be intimidated by in sourdough starter… And secondly, and more generally, to remember that one should not be afraid of things one has not even tried. (I know – that’s the hardest part.) Just because it did not work for someone else, does not mean it won’t work for you either.
sauerteig brot einkorn wholewheat flour sourdough
The flour I – rather luckily – started with my organic (untreated) einkorn wholewheat flour. One part flour, one part water (warm filtered tap water), a plastic container with the lid lose on top, a good stir with a fork and a spot on the radiator. Perfect! When I ran out of that flour I went on with regular spelt flour. I did the same things but no bubbles emerged, there was no life in my plastic container. I put the sourdough starter in the fridge, ordered more of the untreated stuff and gave it another try. The starter came back to life, yay!
Lesson 1: Use untreated flour.

The ratio I read all sorts of numbers when researching how to start my sourdough. What most articles agreed on was a 1:1 ratio of water and flour. Knowing this I went with an amount of flour and water that I was comfortable with. 30g of each in order to not spoil too much good stuff in case it would go wrong. It did not! After a dose of 30g flour, 30g water everyday for five days for the first bread I got adventurous clumsy and added bigger and smaller amounts of flour or water and just made sure the other ingredient would match it up in quantity. No problems with that whatsoever.
Lesson 2: Sourdough starter is forgiving regarding quantities added.

The feeding I fed my starter each day for five days. That was the first time around. After that I forgot one day and would only feed every other day. My starter would not thrive as it did when it was fed every day, still it did not die and would go on bubbling after the next feeding. However, the smell had changed! A sour smell (faintly of vomit) is normal here!!!
Lesson 5: Feed every day if you need your starter quickly, if you just want to keep it alive, every other day is fine.
sourdough einkorn bread
The life span The starter is supposed to get more active with every time it is divided. After four or five divisions it only reaches its maximum strength. I am on the fourth division, my starters resting in the fridge since a good while. Once I will get them out and warmed up they will be good to go. I have no experience yet how long this will go on, but my parents have told me about sourdough starter that was passed around, raised, and divided and given as a present back in the 90s. My guess: this lives looong. After all it is the microbes/bacteria/funghi that do the work here, so as long as we won’t kill them they will make sourdough.
Lesson 4: Keep starter that is not used in the fridge, use your senses to tell if it has gone off.

The bread The bread has this distinct slightly sour taste, it’s porous (maybe not the first time, but after that it will be), it has a great crust and a softer inside. I am still working on getting the crust crunchier, but I feel I am on a good way. I have been working with 1 part sourdough, 2 parts flour, at least 10g salt and between 300 and 400g water in the final dough. My last bread had 450g sourdough, 450 g untreated rye flour, 450 g organic wholewheat einkorn flour, 350g warm filtered water and some salt. The bread was huge!!!
Lesson 5: If your sourdough starter is active, your chances of getting good bread are high!

To make the bread pictured in this post
650 g Chiemgaukorn wholewheat einkorn flour and water and salt

make a starter with
30g Chiemgaukorn wholewheat einkorn flour
30g filtered water at room temperature
a plastic container with a lid

Mix both ingredients in the container, place the lid loosely on top and let sit in a warm space, i.e. on the radiator or on the window sill in the sunlight. Feed on four consecutive days at about the same time. I began my starter at 9 in the evening on a sunday night and fed monday through thursday night sometime between 8 and 11 pm. I added the flour, then the water and would mix with a fork.
sourdough experimenting
On the fifth day I had about 500 g sourdough. I divided the starter and placed one part in a closed smaller plastic container in the fridge. The remaining 250g I mixed with 500g of the organic wholewheat einkorn flour, 10g salt and about 380g lukewarm filtered water. That was in January. Right now I need different amounts of water and add only as much as I need to get a smooth, yet firm, dough, if it shows signs of becoming to soft or even runny: add flour.

I did the mixing part in an ovensafe pot with a glass lid that I took off (unscrewed) the plastic parts. I had read that this would work as a mini-oven inside the oven and I must say, wheter or not that’s the case, I like the result. So put your dough in the pot and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm spot over night and let rise.

In the morning stir again, you do not need to knead, a big wooden spoon and few stirs will be fine. Let rise again for some hours until you think it has reached its potential, you are happy with the “height” or you just feel you need to bake it now… Bake at 200°C for 45 minutes. (Unsure if it’s done: Poke with a wooden skewer, if if comes out clean, wonderful, if not, bake some longer.)

The bread should come out of the pot VERY easily. I only turned the pot upside down and there was my bread on the counter its cutting board. Let it rest upside down for a night. My bread was really moist at the bottom and somewhat hard at the crust. Letting the bread sponge up the moisture helps you get a bread that’s moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

Writing this I feel less water should make for a crunchier crust, what do you think? If you haven’t done so, would you make sourdough starter now? As for me, I am back to experimenting now! Have a good week!

Note: This is no sponsored post, I just really love the flour!

Flower heart – for fresh or fake flowers

by Anna
blumenherz steckschaum
One DIY a week is dead? Long live one DIY a week! I told you, we would break free from the frame and step out of the box of posting it on a particular day. So, today I am sharing with you this little heart-shaped flower arrangement that I gave my grandma for her birthday. It’s a half an hour craft, and could be even quicker with real flowers and floral foam. I used kitchen sponges, they are even cheaper than the foam stuff, just a little more “tricky” to handle. Ok, I should not say that when I cannot remember the last time I actually used floral foam.
how to make a floral heart supplies
supplies a heart-shaped box, flowers, two sponges (depending on the size of the heart), washi tape, a freezer bag, scissors, a sharp knife, pointy knitting needle

I used three silken peonies (for only a Euro each!), that are already overflowing the heart. With less bulky flowers be sure to buy more. Also, make sure you like the color of the sponges you buy, they will most probably show somewhere…
DIY flowers heart
Cut open the freezer bag and line the box with plastic. Cut off excess at the sides and tape in place around the edges of the heart with washi tape. Trim the sponges to fit into the heart. If you are using real flowers soak the sponges with water after cutting them and then re-place in the box. Cut real and articial flowers under the blossom, leaving just about three centimeters or two inches of them to stick them in the foam. Be careful with artificial flowers, the “stem” is hard and difficult to cut.
flower heart arrangement
Use your sharp knife to cut into the sponge where you want the flowers to be stuck. You might want to cut in crosswise to get enough room for the flowers. It helps to poke with a rather pointy knitting needle.
floral heart box
Arrange the flowers and give your heart of flowers to someone who deserves it. Like the best of all grand-mothers!

Spinach and chick pea quiche – vernal and vegan

by Anna
vegan quiche kichererbsen spinat
When I was preparing recipes for my vegan lent (which is not going great by the way) I made this quiche. It was Amuse your bouche via Pinterest that I gathered my inspiration from, see my “Why not vegan?” board here. I admit it’s a combination that I would not have thought of by myself: spinach and chick peas. Yet it makes sapidly sense: chick peas (the queen of the leguminous plants) offers proteins, spinach makes the vegatble part and the crust from einkorn flour is filling while easy to digest. Too much information? Let’s switch to making the quiche then!
spinach chickpea vegan quiche
Spinach and chick pea quiche for one spring form or quiche dish

Crust 250 g einkorn flour, 5 level spoons baking powder, up to 60 g olive oil, 100 g warm water, a pinch of salt
Filling 1 can chick peas, garlic to taste (better more than less…), 150 g fresh spinach leaves, 1 red onion
200+ ml oat cream, 1 tablespoon soy flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg, yeast flakes (optionally)

Start by making the filling: Whisk together oat cream, soy flower and spices.

Peel and mince onion and garlic (I’m for more than three cloves…) and saute them in a little olive oil. Drain the chick peas and add them to the pan. Turn off the heat of the stove, shower the spinach leaves and add them to the mixture. Season with all spices listed above.

Make the dough for the crust: Knead together flour, baking powder, oil, salt and some of the water. Add more water as you knead. Grease your pan if necessary, my quiche dish works fine ungreased. Spread the dough, roll it out (with a glass/tumbler), pull up the edges and poke several times with a fork.

Mix the veggies and the cream and pour it all into the crust. Bake at 200°C for 25-30 minutes.
chickpea quiche
I served this with a little purslane salad. I think those little heart-shaped leaves are just adorable, don’t you?

Ok, writing this made me hungry, I’m off to make lunch!

Hair tie bracelets

by Anna
haargummi armband
Have you ever put your hair tie around your bracelet when changing your hair (on the go) and did not want to lose it in the depths of your purse? I guess this was in the back of my mind when I looked at the enormous amounts of hair ties in my bathroom cupboard on a lazy sunday morning. I had just reorganized the cupboard and it looked rather pretty and neat – except for those countless hair ties that are not strong enough for the horse hair I call my own…
hair elastic bracelet
Once I put the pretty pastels (all Primark) on my desk and started playing around, these bracelets emerged in a matter of minutes. They feel soft and sensual on the wrist, just a nice combination of metal and bulked yarn elastic.

supplies hair ties (about 7 pieces)
how to bracelet
Place one hair tie next to another, overlapping a bit, with the metal parts close to one another. Pick up the part of the bottom hair tie (lilac) that is overlapped by the other (baby pink) and pull it up through the baby pink and then down through its own lilac loop. Pull somewhat tight. Add the next hair tie. Keep on adding pices until you it wraps nicely around your wrist. Finish with a know.
hair tie bracelets

Creativity and perfection

by Anna
modewaerts paris la maison rose
There is a lot happening in my life right now, in consequence not so many news on this little blog here. But I dug around the archives and these thougths from last year came back up. I published them on the old site about a year ago, but they are still oh so true.
modewaerts paris blumen
“The other day I got into thinking about perfection. Perfection always mattered to me. I considered myself a perfectionist, I wanted to please people that I care for. Achieving perfection was hard work. And neither happiness nor contentment.

When I was an au pair perfection – or anything close to it – was just not possible. You cannot make happy three kids and their parents and be happy yourself. It mattered to me to do a good job. I wanted to be perfect. It turned out that the pressure I put onto myself was felt by the kids. They got moody. On those days neither of us was happy. On days when I felt good about myself and what I did and just let the kids be kids, it worked out well. Sure, they were not in the shower when they were supposed to be, the spaghetti were cold or something got broken. But it did not matter, there were smiles on their faces and they lit up mine.
modewaerts paris rotes kleid
In March 2013 I went to a meeting about career, future and how to get on and going. When in this course I wrote down what I wanted the job fairy to do for my life, I was told that it is realistic. That was such a revelation to me. Even though it is one of my dreams to be a successful blogger, I felt like nobody else ever believed I could be. Now, the thought of somebody else seeing it too, reassured me to keep moving and working harder on what I want. Sure, the blog is far from perfection. Last week I asked a friend to help me promote my blog (the old one that is) and I was told no for the lack of design and stylishness of the layout. Apparently I had hoped that it was not that bad even though I knew there was work to be done. Now I was shattered to find out it was and I was not the only one feeling that way. Achilles heel found. Ouch. But my opinion was confirmed, which pushed me to really get into working on the new layout. So in the end rejection turned into motivation.

Now, does perfection matter? No. Firstly, there is no such thing as perfection. It lies – like beauty – in the eye of the beholder. In the end I have to be happy with myself when I look into the mirror. It does not count if anybody is happy with me in that moment but that I can look myself into the eyes and be proud of what I am. Perfection excludes happiness, creativity is happiness. Let’s embrace imperfection and create more!”
modewaerts paris zaun
All images taken in Paris by me on a tour through Montmartre with the wonderful people of Discover Walks

Sweet Potato and Mangold Pizza… WITH Goat’s Cheese

by Hetty
Sweet Potato Blette Pizza
Oooops! Today’s pizza needed a second try to become just as I wanted it. Not because the dough wasn’t good or the veggies were off, but because I forgot to put on the goat’s cheese that I had bought specifically for this one pizza. Bummer. But hey, the second pizza turned out much better than the first one and was much tastier… and the photos are better as well ;-)
Sweet Potato spinach beet and goat's cheese pizza
I got inspired on pinterest when I saw a pizza with sweet potato and kale. Instead of kale I chose leaf beet (mangold), which is just about to come into season and rather a spring veggie compared to wintery kale. As an homage to my beloved host country, I added goat’s cheese, which is one of the few cheeses that I can still eat without feeling too bad afterwards. Mmmmmhhhhh…. Yummy!
Pizza with sweet potato and blette
First you obviously need to start with the usual pizza base.

For the topping you’ll need
1 middle sized sweet potato
2-3 big leaves of leaf or spinach beet (Mangold in German, blette in French)
1/3 of a roll of goat’s cheese
some soy cream
1 tbsp olive oil
black pepper (the coarse version if you have, makes it prettier)

Peel the sweet potato and chop it into small slices. You may not need the whole potato, depending on its size. Just keep the rests to make some sweet potato wedges for example.
Sweet Potato mangold Pizza
Wash the beet leaves and cut them into small stripes. Heat some olive oil in a saucepan and stir in the chopped leaves. Add some of the soy cream and turn off the stove. Let the veggies sit on the stove for about 5 minutes. It’s not necessarily required to first prepare the spinach beet in a saucepan and you could skip this step as it will be “well done” just from baking in the oven as well, but I preferred that the mangold could absorb the soy cream beforehand.

Now, roll out your dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper (if you haven’t already done so) and put the rest of the soy cream on.

Arrange the mangold and the sweet potato pieces on the pizza base. Cut the goat’s cheese into slices about 1 cm thick and place them on top of the veggies. Top off with some (coarse) black pepper.
Sweet Potato Chevre Blette Pizza
Now put the pizza into the oven and bake at 200°C for about 20 minutes. When the edges of the cheese begin to get slightly golden brown, it should be good. Take the pizza out of the oven and enjoy while still hot. The melting cheese is just delicious…. Enjoy your pizza!

Fun fact: It’s easy to mistake the spinachy mangold with its relative (?) the somewhat bitter Swiss chard (cardon in French, cardy in Swiss-German, Kardone in German). Swiss chard has stingy leaves that need to be peeled before cooking, mangold can be used as is. (And tastes much better in Annas opinion.) Swiss Chard is typical of the Geneva area where we both Hetty and I stayed as au pairs.

My first peplum top

by Anna
floral peplum top
Can you believe we are already through the first quarter of 2014? Now I really, really want warmer temperatures! And it looks like we will get them in my part of the world: Yay, for spring!

The sunshine inspired me to give peplum top making a try. It is the first top of that kind that I own, is that strange? It is because I love this look, it’s feminine without being too girly but still has a sassy edge. It looks dressed and grown-up and fun all in one. There is not much more that I need from a garment.
gathered strap detail peplum top
Oh, wait. Comfort is a big plus. Having somewhat followed this tutorial below my top could not turn out as comfy as the knit version. My cotton (blend) does not contain any elasticity so it is a little on the tight side. Which will help me improve my posture, right?

Besides not choosing a knit, I omitted the sleeves and instead gathered the shoulder part. Tiny detail, big effect, do you agree?

Even though I have not really worn it yet, I love this little top already. It was so easy to see – just doing the shoulder seams, one side, putting in the zipper, adding the peplum and hemming everything with selffabric – just like making a quick (and cute) dress. Taking the pattern from a T-Shirt was easy peasy, so that anyone, even without practice – can do it.
blumentop mit schößchen
Altogether this did not even take two hours to make. It actually took longest to get my eyes off of the splendor of Downton Abbey and onto the fabric. Which, by the way, is from my stash, bought at last years spring tour of the dutch fabric market.

I bet I am not the only dressmaker that has ever chosen a zipper that was only a close match not a perfect one. But why waste those long, invisible zippers when the a short, regular one will do the trick?
birds eye view peplum top
The mannequin is slimmer than myself, so the pemplum sticks out more, when I wear it. Possibly you will get to see that, too…

Overall a fun and quick little top. Easily dressed down with dark blue skinny jeans (or simple denim shorts) and dressed up with a black pencil skirt. Any suggestions how to go really quirky with it? I am thinking a pattern clash like in Hettys third outfit in our 3 ways to wear it…