{bake} easy yummy date cake

Baking makes me think of other things…

Let me explain…

Living these days in Lebanon is worrisome. We are in the middle of an unknown era where each hour can change the lives of too many. Having experienced war since my 5th birthday (born and brought up in Beirut), waiting for the next car bomb to explode brings fearsome and very annoying memories to the surface. Mind you, i am lucky in so many ways but today my life is about raising two beautiful children and making the best decisions to ensure that they at least grow up with some sense of security and carefree moments.

So I turn to baking. Because baking is about smells, textures, the anticipation of flavours melting in your mouth, the mixing of ingredients who by magic turn into rewarding comfort food.

So here is what i baked this morning:

ready to be tasted
ready to be tasted
served with white tea! a treat...
served with white tea! a treat…



185 g dates (without stones) and cut into smaller pieces.

1 tsp baking soda

2,5 dl boiling water

90 g softened butter

115 g brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence (or powder, works fine)

2 eggs

185 g flour

1,5 tsp baking powder.

how to:

The making is quite easy and forward.

In a bowl add the dates, the boiling water and the baking soda. Let it rest for 15 minutes while you make the rest of the cake. This will soften the dates and makes it easier to mix with the dry ingredients.

In another bowl, mix  with a mixer (or by hand with a wooden spoon, that will make you burn extra calories!) the softened butter with sugar and vanilla. It should become a light brown homogenous dough. Add one egg at a time, and mix well. Then sift half of the flour and add it to the dough, by mixing with a wooden spoon (here i suggest avoiding the electrical mixer, as it will remove the fluffiness of the dough). Add half of the date mixture. mix again. then add the rest of the flour, the baking powder and the date mix.

Give it one last blend by hand(spoon) and pour into a greased cake pan, any form will do. I am using the round one with the whole in the middle. the result is beautiful.

Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 35-40 minutes, in the middle of a pre-heated oven.

When baked let it rest for 10 minutes before you remove it from its form.

Sift white powered sugar sprinkle over the cake!


Bon appetit!!!


{cookies} by Leelou

lemon cookies

choco cookies

The idea was to make quick chocolate cookies from one of my recipe books; the choice fell on “how to be a domestic Goddess” by Nigella Lawson the great cake maker. I found a recipe that involved less than 5 ingredients, took 30 minutes to make including the baking, and less than 10 minutes to eat!

I then figured that such a recipe could be amended a bit, which is where my Leelou creative instinct gets a kick! what if I substituted the cocoa with a totally different flavor? I couldn’t go that wrong, especially that the base was proven to be good.

So here is the original recipe from Nigella Lawson, and next my adaptation;

You need:

2 cups self rising flour (if you have normal flour, then add 1 tsp Baking powder)

2 Tablespoon Cocoa powder

1 cup + 2 tbsp soft butter

7  tbsp sugar

a pinch of salt (I added this to give it an extra punch!)

  • Heat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius.
  • Mix flour, cocoa & salt together and set aside.
  • Cream the butter and sugar (either with a mixer, or the old fashion way; by cutting the butter in tiny bits in the sugar, then working it with a wooden spoon until it gets creamy ) add the flour mix to it and work the dough into a ball.  Make small balls out of the dough (walnut size) and place on a baking sheet. Then with the back of a fork press down the balls a bit; it will give them a flatter look and stripy design once baked.
  • Bake for 10-15  minutes. Cocoa cookies become very dark, and it can sometimes be difficult to see if they are done;that is why  I always take one out of the oven, let it rest for a minute on a cold surface and taste the consistency before removing the rest of the cookies. Place the cookies on a cold surface to cool down before indulging them!
  • Keep in an air tight container (preferably metal box; it keeps them crunchy).

Lemon and ginger version:

  • Substitute the cocoa powder with zest of a whole lemon and 2 cm grated fresh ginger.
  • If you do not find fresh ginger, use dry ginger instead; 1 tsp will do. Follow the recipe as above.

I am sure those of you who are venturous would like to try this recipe with other flavors; cinnamon spices, licorice, coffee are among interesting ones. The base of the recipe is so easy, even a child can make it. Try to be bold and let me know how it turns out!

Happy baking!

Make {Sunday Crêpes }

amazing crepes from Leelouz husband!

Leelouz World

crepe fromage-001

crepe 2-001

Sunday morning is the day we make crêpes (thin pancakes)! Usually my husband makes them, but this time it will be me as he is away on a business trip and won’t be back before tomorrow…:(

The recipe is quite simple and needs 5 minutes to prepare. However I remember my mother placing the batter in the fridge for half an hour, to rest she said, but I am not a patient person, and I frankly don’t think it makes any difference in the taste, only in its consistency, it becomes a bit thicker while standing!

So for the ingredients: (for approximately 8 crêpes)

1 egg

1/2 cup brown flour (any kind would do, buckwheat flour…)

1/2 cup white flour (I like mixing these because it gives a nicer, thicker and healthier texture)

2 cups milk

2 tbsp melted butter

pinch of salt

pinch of sugar

Whisk all the ingredients…

View original post 188 more words

Christmas Inspirations {food, crafts & more}

Last year, Alfie the elf visited my blog and supplied us with numerous ideas for home made Christmas Decoration! This post is just an update of the different ideas, gathered in one place!

You will find recipes, crafts to make with or without children, inspiration for lovely Christmas decoration…

Enjoy with your kids, while listening to good music ( I prefer world music to Christmas ones!) and let the creative juices flow!

Recipes to make (your will be directed to the post by clicking on the words below)

Search results for inspiration1

Glogg or mulled wine

Chocolate Christmas cookies

Heart shaped Honey cookies

Pepper nuts mini cookies

Orange cake

Orange poppy seed cookies

Crafts to make

Search results for inspiration2

Braided paper hearts

Paper snow flakes

Christmas crib

Orange and cloves



Search results for inspiration

Christmas trees


Gift packaging & more…

images from {pinterest}
images from {pinterest}
Christmas calendar from {eighteen25.blogspot.com}
Christmas calendar from {eighteen25.blogspot.com}
white angel...{google}
white angel…{google}


the coziness of home baking

Some of my friends are complaining that winter has arrived in Beirut! First of all i want to clarify the word winter as understood in this part of the world: blue sky, 18-20 degrees, some rain, possibility of swimming (yes it is possible in November!), light clothing including jeans and t-shirts… the difference with our summer? We are not sweating, the air condition is off, we have a jacket in the car in case, we start drinking hot cocoa, we wear darker and richer colours…(at least I do) and we start baking all these delicious cakes!.

So, to really enter the spirit of winter in my part of the world, I am baking with a frenzy attitude lots of cakes, adding  spices to my regular recipes, to make you want to  curl up under the Christmas tree and drink toddy.

I actually have an old recipe for carrot cake (that is always a success), but in the lack of carrots I used red apples, added more cinnamon and nutmeg and voila, my lovely cake is ready to be enjoyed with a cup of Kusmi tea and a friend!


3 eggs

3/4 cup canola oil

1 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar (using half of each is also fine)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp vanilla sugar

a pinch of salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup of shredded coconut

1 cup white flour

1 cup full wheat  flour (this adds texture) – in the lack of, use 2 cups of regular flour

a handful of white raisins

2 big red or yellow apples, peeled and shredded (don’t start with this as the apples will turn brown in few minutes)

How to make

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees Celsius.

Whisk the eggs in an electrical mixer  until foamy, then add the sugar and whisk. When the egg mixture is fluffy, add the oil and whisk again.

Then add all the powder ingredients (spices, baking soda, coconut, flour) and whisk few minutes.

Add the shredded apples. Mix lightly with a wooden spoon. The mixture should be wet and light. Add the raisins.

Pour the batter  into a round or rectangular oiled baking pan, bake for 35 minutes or until your toothpick comes out dry!

For decoration, either go for the simple powder sugar or a good old butter icing.

The cake should be cooled down before spreading the icing.

Icing recipe

  • 50g  soft butter
  • 1 teaspoon citrus rind, I use lime
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese (kiri would do)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (can use seeds)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of citrus juice (lime)
  • Mix all the ingredients with an electrical batter.

All this baking made me go back to a wonderful vacation we had few years ago in Denmark, where the summer weather was pretty much like our winter weather here in Beirut. My sweet friend Mette had given us her little black wooden cottage for 2 weeks. Red apples were laying everywhere that summer on her grass lawn. The pictures show what a cosy place it was….

My Beirut {The concept of MAN’OUCHEH}

One has to taste and smell a man’oucheh before understanding the concept. You cannot explain in words why so many people (mostly lebanese!) adore their man’oucheh.  You must experience the act of buying it at the local “fern” (oven/bakery), smell, see and watch it being done, and then eat it on the spot!

A cheap meal (between $1-$2 !), fast (takes minutes to make) and very filling (go a whole day without food after eating one of those!), available at every street corner in Beirut!

Its main ingredients are bread dough, olive oil, yellow cheese and/or loads of thyme and sesame seeds.

Recently on ARTE  TV a french documentary called Prochain Arret Beyrouth showed a culinary experience on Lebanese territory, where a well known man’oucheh place on Badaro street in Beirut was filmed making his delicious manouch.

Having lived in Europe for 15 years, I always craved for the smell and taste of a warm man’ousheh, and have yet not discovered any place outside Lebanon that can top the quality of our own.

Meaning of man’oucheh: or mankousheh in arabic.. the effect of working the thymes into the dough before cooking it.

Inspired to make your own? several recipes are found on the web, this one seems on the right track. 

For more inspiration get the book by Barbara Abdeni Massad:

Or just come to Lebanon and have one of your own!!

Good morning everyone!

{Dec.18} Alfie bakes orange cake

Oranges and Winter are a a good combination. and orange cake combines the sweet smell of oranges with the comforting smell of home made baking!

here is the recipe and our home made cake!

Orange cake with chocolate glazing and almonds flowers!

Mix 200g soft butter with 250 g sugar. Add 4 eggs to the mixture, beat one at a time. Add 250 g flour and 1tbsp baking powder. Blend well with a spoon. Add 4 Tbsp orange marmelade to the mixture.

Use a round tin pan, grease with some butter and some flour.

Pour the dough into the pan and bake in the middle of a pre-heated oven at 175 degrees, for 45 minutes.

In the mean time, press two oranges and heat slowly with sugar until completely melted.

Pour the warm orange juice over the hot cake. Let it cool before glazing.

For decoration, use sifted powder sugar or chocolate glazing, made of 3 tbsp melted butter mixed with 2 tbsp cacao and 3 tbsp powder sugar. Decorate with almonds.

The cake is delicious the second day!