German Plum Cake (Pflaumenkuchen)

The plums are the star of this recipe! There’s nothing better than a recipe with the simplest, natural ingredients!

A sweet, yeast dough, layered with ripe plums and sprinkled with a pinch of cinnamon! 

Pflaumenkuchen is one of the first cakes I tried on my first trip to Germany. It was the first of many delicious cakes that I got to try all made by my Schwiegermutter (mother-in-love).

What I love about this cake is that is indeed quite simple to prepare, but it looks so elegant especially when you are serving it and you can see the beautiful ruby red plums layered on top of the dough.

The dough is a simple, sweet yeast dough but the plums are definitely the star of this show, so it is best to make this cake during plum season for optimal quality.

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Here’s my recipe:

Pflaumenkuchen (German Plum Cake)

  • 1.5 -2 kilos plums (3-4lbs)
  • pinch of ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top after baking
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil (or any neutral oil)
  • 2 TBSP softened butter (for greasing the pan)

For the dough:

  • 2 tsp dry yeast
  • 2/3 c warm milk
  • 2 TBSP melted butter
  • 1 whole egg (large)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 2/3-3 cups white flour (plus a bit more for kneading)

For the streusel:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar

Preparation:

To prepare the dough: In a large bowl, combine the yeast, warm milk, melted butter and 1 whole egg, stirring well with each addition. Then continue stirring and gradually add in the sugar and then the flour. Keep stirring until the dough comes off the sides of the bowl and forms a ball, adding more flour as needed. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3 to 5 minutes and then shape into a ball.

Lightly grease a bowl with 1 TBSP of vegetable oil (or any neutral oil) and place the dough in the bowl, flipping over to ensure that both sides are coated with the oil. Then cover with a damp kitchen towel and place it in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, until it has doubled in size.

While the dough rises, line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and grease with 2 TBSP of softened butter.

After the dough has risen, remove from the bowl and gently stretch the dough out onto the greased parchment paper.

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Cover the dough again and allow it to rest again for 25-30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven on 375F/190C.

Meanwhile, de-pit the plums and cut them into quarters of leave them as halves if you prefer.

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Then layer the plums, flesh side up on top of the dough and set aside.

To make the streusel: combine the flour, sugar and softened butter in a large bowl and with your clean hands, crumble everything together to form the streusel crumbs.

Immediately, layer the streusel on top of the plums and then place the Pflaumenkuchen in the oven to bake for about 30-45 minutes or until the dough is lightly browned.

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The plums are the star of the show! 

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with just a pinch of ground cinnamon.

Allow the Pflaumenkuchen to cool for 30-45 minutes and then cut into squares and enjoy!

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Can you see the sprinkle of cinnamon on top?
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The beauty of the slice of Pflaumenkuchen! 

 

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Guten Appetit!

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The Struggle with Writing…

To every aspiring writer, stop calling yourself an “aspiring” writer. If you want to be a writer than be a writer. Write everyday. Write something. Write for more than just yourself and don’t worry if it sounds perfect or not. It will never be perfect. Just write. -EE Winkler

 

The Struggle with Writing

by EE Winkler

the struggle with writing comes when you think too much

and you think that the words that you say are not enough

enough to satisfy the critic’s ear

who judges you before the first verse it hears

the struggle with writing comes when you become consumed

by the words that marinate in your mind and you just assume

that you don’t have something special to say

and you undermine your gift and go on your way

the struggle with writing comes with limitation’s claw

that threatens to tell you that you have nothing to say at all

it speaks and breathes through it’s insecurity

hoping to keep you bound in a fearful reality

the struggle with writing comes when you fall prey

to the excuses that try to crowd in your face

they bombard your thoughts and cause a commotion

they hijack your words fueled by imagination’s ocean

the struggle with writing is that you don’t take care of it

and work it out like a muscle to keep it strong and fit

and so it depletes in your desk drawer

only hoping for a moment of freedom with words to explore

the struggle with writing is that you’ve taken too much heed

and caution has become your mantra for reality

no risk have you been willing to step out and take

and so your gift dies under the pressure and weight

the struggle with writing comes when you start to believe

that you don’t have what it takes to really succeed

and so you sell yourself out before you even buy in

and in a moment you end before you even begin

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Photo by Sanm Rios on Unsplash

Productivity for Work: Getting Past the Sick Day Blues

Let’s face it, sick days may be inevitable, especially during cold season, so how can you still be productive even in the midst of these times?

Push past the sick day blues with productivity? Before you think it’s crazy just weigh in what you might actually still be able to do. 

I think like most people, I absolutely hate getting sick. If I see a person coughing or sneezing nearby, I will try to walk at a distance to avoid them, without looking too awkward if you know what I mean. But every once in a while, despite living a healthy lifestyle, I will get sick with a cold or a sore throat especially during the winter season.

Personally, I hate taking sick days. I hate just having to lie in bed and do absolutely nothing. It’s so boring. But sometimes, for the sake of colleagues, it’s better to stay at home or even work from home especially if you have something that is contagious.

While I know my productivity levels may not equate to the same efficiency when I am sick versus when I am well; I am still convinced that there are reasonable and feasible ways to be productive.

How to Be Productive Even When You’re Under the Weather

1.) Know Your Limits. It’s good to know what your limitations are based on the sickness that you have. For example, if your voice is weak from a sore throat, then try to focus on communicating via text, emails and Skype. Try to limit voice communication to the only dire “need to have today” type of conversations. Sometimes when we try to push ourselves too much we end up feeling worse and unable to do anything at all.

2.) Take Extra Care. Don’t forget that when your body is in this state, it needs extra care. Drink plenty of water, eat nutritious foods to energize the body and try not to overexert yourself. If you take a little extra care, then most likely your recovery will be more rapid than it would be if you still tried to do all the things that you normally do.

3.) Focus on the “Can-Do’s.” Okay, so of course you’ll have limitations when you’re under the weather but what can you do? If you’re working from home and can’t go into the office, then maybe you don’t have access to all of the software and equipment that you normally would have, but thankfully since so many things are Internet-based, there are still many things that you can do in order to still get work done. For example, in the Marketing world, I can still work on e-marketing campaigns, design cool thumbnails in Canva, communicate via Trello boards, update social media accounts, curate content for website and promo materials, etc. There are still many things that I can do, but the efficiency of course, depends on the level of sickness. For example, when I had a migrane that made me sensitive to light (artifical or natural) it made it quite challenging to even keep my laptop open. There’s no shame in this, it’s just good to know what you can and cannot do and to know that eventually, you will feel better.

4.) Be Patient With Yourself. Sometimes when we get sick with a cold, sore throat, etc., it’s our body’s way of saying that it needs a bit more rest. Sometimes it is even the result of a super busy season of life that has required more of your time and energy. But regardless the trigger, we must be patient with ourselves and make the most out of even these gloomy, old sick says. If leveraged and perceived correctly, they can still most certainly add value to our lives.

Tell Me…What do you think about productivity when you’re sick? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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Eton Mess with Fresh Cherries

Eton Mess–this is what dessert dreams are made of! No fuss, no perfection just simply delicious!

Crumbled, crispy meringue, light whipped cream and fresh sweet black cherries combined together are my twist on the classic British dessert known as Eton Mess.

According to my research, Eton Mess was a dessert that originated from Eton College in the UK. While I have discovered numerous narratives that try to identify the exact creation of the dessert, I have settled it within me to let the story remain unsettled, if you know what I mean. Could it have been the school kids that combined all of these ingredients together into a beautiful mess, or could it have been the cafeteria staff that decided to make a new creation or was it a beautiful accident in the culmination of 3 delicious ingredients coming together to form a heavenly dessert delight? I don’t know, but Eton Mess is one of those dessert urban legends that recipe dream books are made of. I like that it’s a mystery. In fact, I relish in the mystery.

Traditionally, Eton Mess is always prepared with fresh, ripe strawberries. But since I LOVE cherries and made this recipe during cherry season, it was to my delight to use cherries. I also took complete creative liberty to write a recipe that I would find delicious and thus why I included other flavor elements like the juice and marmalade. Feel free to choose your preferred fruit because I find that with whipped cream and meringue cookies, you really can’t go wrong.

Here’s my recipe:

Erica’s Eton Mess with Fresh Cherries

  • 1 1/4 cups fresh cherries
  • 1-2 TBSP white sugar
  • 2 TBSP cherry juice
  • 1 TBSP raspberry marmalade
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled meringue (either store-bought or made from scratch)
  • 1 1/2 -2 cups of lightly sweetened whipped cream (I made my whipped cream at home)

Preparation:

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In a large bowl, combine together the cherries and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

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Then add the cherry juice and raspberry marmalade and stir until well combined.

In a separate bowl, crumble the meringue into bite size pieces.

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Then add the meringue piece and whipped cream into the cherry mixture and gently fold everything together until it is well combined.

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Serve in beautiful glasses and top with a few more cherries on top.

Heavenly…trust me…Heavenly.

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Creamy Rice Pudding

Creamy tender rice, lightly sweetened and warmly spiced with cinnamon, vanilla & nutmeg. 

 

Rice pudding is a favorite dessert of mine because it tastes so decadent but light at the same time. Plus, it’s super simple to make. Basically, if you can measure ingredients (or even eye-ball them) then you can make rice pudding because everything goes into the pot at one time and with occasional stirring, you have a beautiful dessert.

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Creamy Rice Pudding

Serves 4
  • 1/4 cup short grain rice
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 TBSP cream
  • 1-2 TBSP butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 TBSP sugar (add more to your preferred level of sweetness)
  • Optional toppings: whipped cream, nuts or fruit

Preparation:

In a medium pot combine all of the ingredients together and stir.

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Place the pot over medium heat, slightly covered and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that it does not stick.

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Remove from the heat and serve warm or pour it into a heat-safe bowl, covered with plastic wrap pressed against the rice pudding (to ensure that it does not form the layer of skin on top).

Serve cold if desired with whipped cream, nuts or fruit.

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Note: Depending on the consistency that you like your rice pudding, you may want to add more milk and/or cream. I always like to add extra but it’s totally about personal preference. Enjoy it as you wish!

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Bon Appetit!

Poetry is…

Poetry is…

by EE Winkler

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

with words I reconstruct my day and build dreams in the night

in a matter of moments I can be anywhere I want to be

with a few lines or verses I write a new story

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

since my childhood it has not betrayed through joy or through plight

it has been there to right my triumphs and comfort my despair

it never leaves me wondering if it really cares

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

fueled both by sorrow and joy do they simultaneously ignite

a sputtering of endless words that somehow coexist

to help my brain take my thoughts and make sense of all of it

poetry is rhythmic healing for my soul’s delight

no matter where I am it has been by my side

with a longing to convey the emotions that bang on the door of my heart

it is poetry that has remained the train for my feelings to embark

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Photo by Michael Mongin on Unsplash

Just for Today (Imagine)

Just For Today

by EE Winkler

Just for today imagine that you can’t lose

and that every wrong around you can be diffused

you don’t have to be led by the feelings at bay

if you can imagine just for today

Just for today imagine that hope is restored

in the things that you’ve always been longing for

no longer bound by the limitations you see or say

if you can imagine just for today

Just for today imagine that there are endless possibilities

to be the person that you always longed to be

not restricted in any single way

if you can imagine just for today

Just for today imagine that the end is near

not to keep you contained or bound in fear

but to finally give you a chance to really live beyond the zone in the grey

if you can imagine just for today.

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Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash