Saturday, December 19, 2009
These cakes are packed full of spices and flavour - molasses, freshly grated nutmeg, ground ginger, fresh ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves. When they came out of the oven the house smelled like Christmas. They should have been nice and flat on the top so that I could turn them upside down just like Martha did.
Unfortunately they rose. Some of them a LOT.
So I had to take a deep breath and acknowledge that they would not be as sophisticated as Martha's. Instead they look like cupcakes, which they are (clever Martha disguised hers!)
They are delicious delicious delicious all the same.
Friday, December 11, 2009
In other news there has been a Hello Cupcake! challenge put up on facebook and you can actually WIN a copy of their new book called What's New, Cupcake. I never win anything although once at the pub I was sitting next to the person who won a meat raffle. It could have been me. So if I connect the dots I can conclude that I could win a book. I just have to think of something clever.
Want to win an autographed copy of What’s New, Cupcake? Want to show off your cupcaking skills? During this baking season, show off your talents by coming up with a new cupcake design using only cupcakes, frosting, and one or all of the following candies: Jelly Belly Jelly Beans, Marshmallows, Gummy bears, Wafer cookies and M&M’s Minis
You've seen Larry the turkey so obviously I need to some up with something good to win...
Monday, December 7, 2009
*By 'good' read fat and calorie laden, full of unpronounceable man made ingredients, lurid coloured and tasty
Away with my ramblings, I will hand you over to LANYC:
Holidays in America invariably involve seasonal candy*. The biggest candy-fest of them all, however, is Halloween. There's lurid yellow sugar-covered marshmallow chicks called 'Peeps'. There's variegated yellow, orange and white squishy triangles of candy corn (tasting oddly like butter and are primarily constituted of corn syrup). There's choc-covered marshmallow pumpkins. And then, of course, there's the regular candy, featuring holiday-appropriate 'spooky' colours, or just packaged with a picture of a ghost where a happy animal mascot used to be. Everyone in New York seems to be driven to be in possession of massive amounts of seasonal treats for Halloween because no one really wants to find out what happens if you take sugar-high children up on the trick part of their 'trick or treat' offer.
But the seasonal candy is actually kind of gross.
Irrespective of grossness, I hate throwing things away, so I decided to trawl the interweb in search of the magic recipe that would turn my bulging Ziploc bag of sugary Halloween fungross into just plain funyum. I found it in a Serious Eats posting by cakespy, here.
This pie was almost more fun to make than it was to eat - with all that chopping, arranging and sampling of various candy bits - but seeing peoples eyes widen as I handed them a slice of 'candy massacre pie' was great too. I based my version on cakespy's but swapped-in my own favourite crust recipe, and used the candy I had to hand (mostly M&Ms, Tootsie Rolls, mini marshmallows, fun-size Snickers, and Cookies 'n' Cream Hersheys bars). Also, I like a bit of crunch and a bit of salt with my massive doses of sweet, so I mixed Rice Crispies (A.K.A. Rice Bubbles) in with the filling, and topped the whole thing with salted pretzels. The latter addition also made the pie look considerably prettier.
Even if there's no Halloween candy where you live. Even if, actually, there's no real Halloween celebration, I'd advise you to think outside the box on this one - Christmas or Easter confectionery would work equally well, don't you think?
Eat, enjoy, and remember to cross your fingers for luck at your next dental check-up.
*After numerous heated debates following my enquiry as to what exactly the catch-all 'candy' refers to, the general consensus seems to be any kind of confectionery that isn't pure solid chocolate.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Cactus cupcake toppers
Pink pearlised cachous
'Happy Baker' stamped tags
Old-timey paper bags
Vintage bride and groom party picks
Jumbo red heart quins
Red and pink heart twist ties
German cotton mushroom decorations
Striped baker's twine ...
and there's more underneath!!
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Anyway, can you guess what these ingredients do when you put them all together?
They become...TURKISH DELIGHT ICE CREAM TERRINE! I found the recipe in the November edition of Delicious and started salivating.
Pretty much I had to mix it all together and bung it in a cake tin lined with glad wrap. And freeze it overnight. And open the freezer door to look at it quite frequently. Sometimes I would also poke it with my finger for good measure.
And I had to make a rose flavoured syrup.
Unfortunately I think a full 24 hours in the freezer was a bit excessive. It crumbled when I cut it. The turkish delight glued to the hot knife I attempted to cut the damn thing with. It had weird glad wrap marks all over it.
But it looked pretty.
And it tasted like a bunch of flowers crossed with ice cream crossed with some kind of tulle skirt, which mainly means that it tasted like yum.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
This morning at Woolworths we were eyeing off a festive display which had the Masterchef Cookbook as a central display piece. The Celebrity Masterchef finale this week has had R dreaming and salivating over the very idea of profiteroles. The book has Adriano Zumbo's recipe. SOLD.
The choux pastry worked! The creme patissiere not so much. It was incredibly runny so as soon as I put it in a piping bag it started oozing out the tip so I held the bag back and then it began falling out the top of the bag on to the bench, on to the floor, on to my arm, in to my glass of water... ooze city. It did taste fantastic though. I almost licked the bench top, although the water custard mix was less appealing.
Finally I used a Martha recipe to make a chocolate icing. It was great. GO MARTHA!
I was proud of my final effort, despite the oozy messy look of it all. I'd love to make a croquembouche but I think I'll need a bit more practice first!
Friday, November 27, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Should I go chic like Martha?
Sunday, November 22, 2009
We used to eat home made OJ ice blocks when we were kids, we'd get covered in the melted juice right down to our elbows. We had a mold at our house, but at my Yaya's we'd have even more 'handmade' versions frozen in an assortment of containers with paddle pop sticks popped on top.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
The other great thing is how simple they are to make:
1 cup of smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup of sugar
200g dark semi sweet chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius
2. Put peanut butter, sugar and the egg in a bowl and mix well, then cover in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes
2. Line a baking tray with baking paper, and roll mixture into 18 balls and place on tray
3. Squish the balls down with a fork to get the line effect on the cookies
4. Bake 18-20 minutes
5. Once cooled melt chocolate, dip one end at a time into chocolate, and then dip in a bowl of crushed peanuts
6. Pop the into the fridge until the chocolate sets and then consume!!
This recipe is one of Bakerella's - for more details visit her site.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
You can look forward to some prettily packaged items showing up on this blog in 8 - 10 days, or if you're lucky under your Christmas tree.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I decided to get experimental and make up my own recipe for an orange and semolina upside down cake, with saffron and grand marnier for an added bit of ooh la la.
Syrup - 1 cup caster sugar, 1/4 cup blood orange juice, 1/4 cup grand marnier and a few threads of saffron, cooked on low heat for about 10 minutes
Cake - 125g of butter, zest of 1 lemon and 1 cup caster sugar creamed together, 3 eggs beaten in, then 1 cup plain flour, 2/3 cup semolina, 1 tsp of baking powder and 1/3 cup natural yogurt mixed in.
Construction - line tins of choice with baking paper on both bottom and sides (I used a 6" cake tin and some cupcake tins to see which would work out better), place some thin slices of orange on the bottom, pour a little syrup over the top, then add batter.
Bake - at 180 degrees, time will depend on pan size so use a skewer to check.
Serve - let them cool for 10 minutes or so in their tins, the syrup gets HOT. Carefully turn upside down and slowly peel off the baking paper. Trim as required. They are delicious when warm and I think would go very will with some spiced lemon ricotta or mascarpone on the side.
I reckon the 6" cake worked out better and much neater looking. The cupcakes taste amazing but don't look as perfect and pretty as I would have liked, mainly because of oozing syrup. Next time I might use a little less baking powder as some of the cakes had to be trimmed at the bottom so that they would sit flat when they were turned upside down.
I might go and eat another one now...
Monday, November 9, 2009
I arrived home last night and this week I'll be heading to Tumut for a few days also for work. Once that's done I can breathe a sigh of relief and spend more time at home playing in my kitchen and posting about my culinary successes and disasters!
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I got to wield a blow torch to release the mousses (mice?) from their moulds. Awesome.
The class wasn't as hands on as others I've done, lots was prepared prior to the class, but it was great to get a handle on working with choux pastry and making caramel. It was also vastly entertaining being taught French techniques by a wranger Venetian called Axle - 'now look-a at the caramelllll-a, it is changing-a-brown'!
And of course working in a commercial kitchen was fantastic (especially compared to my 'temporary' kitchen at home... big sigh...)
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Today I heard about Our Big Kitchen which is a community kitchen operating in Bondi. Individuals or groups cook or bake food to donate to emergency or homeless services and also share a meal. It's a registered kitchen for emergency food providers and stock is kept on hand to ensure responsiveness to emergencies. It's available to everyone - you can have birthday parties, cooking classes, team building or school programs in the kitchen, or you can participate as a volunteer.
This is just about the coolest thing I've ever heard of.
R and I have been discussing my aversion to having a hen's night. I cannot think of anything worse than parading around with a plastic penis attached to my head. In fact I would rather eat my own foot. Lately we have been discussing having an alternative pre wedding celebration and the thought of getting all our friends together for a big cookathon is just lovely, especially given that the proceeds go towards assisting people in times of crisis. At face value weddings are about celebrating 'happy', and less obviously about sticking together when life conspires against you. And this can happen to any of us.
Good idea or am I just a shameless dirty hippy?
Truth be told there are worse things than feeding people garlic bread. In fact if I had taken my Little's advice regarding the 'perfect' wedding menu we would be all dining on lasagne. After all, as Little succinctly put it, 'everyone LOVES lasagne.'
Hot melted cheese and butter. Fatty meat. Dripping oil. Not what I'd want to eat in the middle of February in Australia...
Anyway, these are pointless ramblings so I'll shut up now. Tomorrow I am going to a choux pastry making class with my mama so I should have something a little less putrid and a little more delicious to post later in the week. I am expending a lot of energy hoping and wishing that I learn how to make beautiful eclairs.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
My friend Marley shared with me her super awesome no fail cookie recipe a few years ago and since then I've done a million variations, all of which have been amazing. Because I'm nice I'll share the love...
Marley's Super Awesome Cookies
125g unsalted butter
250g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
225g plan flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g 'flavour' ingredients - eg. 100g chopped dark chocolate + 100g almonds + 1tsp cinnamon. I've also done white chocolate and macadamia, dark chocolate and dried cherries. Get creative!
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celcius. Make sure your butter is room temperature, and then mix butter and brown sugar together well. Add your egg and mix mix mix. Add vanilla, and then the flour and baking powder and mix it in thoroughly. Finally, add your flavours and mix then in very well.
Line a baking tray with baking paper and then use a teaspoon to make little balls of mixture, roll them in your palm until they are very round, and then place them on the tray with space between them. As a guide I do 12 per full size oven tray.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Less time means squishy centred biscuits. More time means harder biscuits. When they come out of the oven they will be squidgy so let them cool on the tray and they will firm up as they cool.
(Or you could just nibble on the raw cookie dough!)
Last year I was sitting chanel surfing through all the crap that’s on our television airways when I saw an interview with Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food.
Michael was discussing carrots. He talked about how much time and energy scientists have spent in order to discover and extract the goodness of the humble carrot – vitamin A. Phew, now we can just add that to the list of supplements and not worry about nutrition. Now comes the bit that really piqued my interest – what if it’s the inherent carrot-ness of the carrot that are good for you? Sure, vitamin A is in there, but is vitamin A so wonderful when all the other great stuff about the carrot is taken away?
As a society should we be throwing out the vitamins and eating carrots with gusto?
Naturally I rushed to the bookshop to buy Michael’s book and it was great. He calls it a manifesto but it’s pretty simple really – ‘eat food, not too much, mostly plants.’ This concept kicks the but of Atkins. And the Zone. And Weight Watchers.
He also discusses the rise ‘edible food like substances’, which should be avoided at all costs. If it’s a food your great grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food don’t eat it. If it has more than 3 ingredients don’t eat it. If it has unpronounceable ingredients don’t eat it. Another good tip is to beware products that make big health claims.
Here’s a great example of this principle in action. Which one is better for you?
Harmonie Organic salted butter
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
Vegetable Mono and Diglycerides
Calcium Disodium EDTA
Natural Soy Lecithin
Natural and Artificial Flavour
Vitamin A (Palmitate)
Scary stuff huh?!
This week I did a Pollan style pantry audit and I’ll be honest, a few things went into the bin. Since I read In Defense of Food I’ve made a conscious effort to make sure I used the best quality ingredients in my cooking. When I cook bread and butter pudding commercially baked bread is out, Sonoma sourdough is in. Any kind of ‘spread’ is out, organic butter is in.
Sure there are times when a person craves a Big Mac, but as a general guide to cooking and shopping I think Michael Pollan’s ‘manifesto’ is awesome.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
My Christmas wishlist has never been longer. Damn you internet!
Monday, October 12, 2009
I love pavlova. I love mini desserts. And I love lemon curd. What I don't much like is shortcrust pastry, so a lemon meringue pie inspired mini pavlova seemed like a top idea. And very easy.
Make some meringues
4 egg whites at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
Whisk egg whites with an electric beater until soft peaks form, and then gradually beat in sugar, and finally vanilla. Pipe on to a baking paper lined tray and bake in a slow oven (140 - 150 degrees Celsius depending on the nature of your beast) for about 30 - 40 minutes (depending on the size of the meringues - I did about 14 from this recipe and baked for about 30 minutes). Open the oven door slightly and let them cool in the oven. These (and the lemon butter) can be made the day before you want to use them, which means you can quickly assemble this dessert when it's time to be served.)
Make some lemon butter (thanks to Stephanie Alexander for this recipe)
4 egg yolks (see, these two items were meant to be made together - no leftover eggy bits!)
2/3 cup caster sugar
100ml lemon juice
lemon zest (to taste)
Whisk egg yolks and sugar until well combined but not frothy. Pour into a heavy based saucepan and add remaining ingredients. Stirring constantly bring to simmer point over a medium - high heat (about 5 minutes.) As soon as bubbles start to appear remove from heat and continue to stir for about 2 minutes. Let it cool and then put it in the fridge overnight.
Whip some cream, chop up some fruit and then assemble. I spooned lemon butter into the meringue nests and topped with cream and chopped strawberries. Yum! The lemon butter had the same impact that passionfruit does - adds a nice tartness to offset all the sugar and cream.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
What's not to love? As I said in my post yesterday we are having a dessert table at our wedding which will be laid out based on the beautiful image above. It will be the middle of summer which to me just screams out berries, summer puddings, pavlova and ice cream. So imagine something like the collection of images below...
For more dessert table inspiration check out the wonderful work of Amy Atlas at www.amyatlas.com
Friday, October 9, 2009
(Daschund cake topper by bunnywithatoolbelt)