Sunday, May 29, 2011
I'm always surprised when I hear people say they can't bake as there are many easy recipes out there and only a few important rules to follow....well according to me anyway. The first 'rule' I would say is to read the recipe through properly so you know what needs to happen when and what you need at what stage of the recipe. The next thing would be to measure the ingredients properly. There is no place for guesstimating weights and measurements with baking as you can upset the alchemy of the recipe and really throw things out causing a disaster. Leave the guessing of such things to being a masterchef of other things instead and follow the recipe when you are baking. Other 'rules' would be to preheat your oven and have all your tins greased and lined before you start making the mix to bake. Sometimes a recipe can be 'mixed up' a bit but if you are a learner baker, stick to the recipe until you have more confidence and knowledge of what you are doing. Maybe leave the experimenting to decorating your achievements while you are learning and building up your confidence. Of course there are other 'rules' like having your ingredients (like butter and eggs), at room temperature before you start (unless the recipe states otherwise) but I would lying if I said I did this all the time myself. I mean sometimes I have no idea I am going to bake something until just before doing so. In that case I would either have rancid butter and off eggs sitting out at room temperature constantly or else just go with it straight from the fridge. Having said that butter can be softened in the microwave and eggs brought almost to room temperature by putting them in a bowl of warmish water so it isn't something that can't be got around.
Anyway here is one of those recipes perfect for the learner baker. I took it to a farewell for the cook at my dad's RSA today as it was fast and easy to put together and has a nice flavour and texture.
Lemon Drizzle Cake
140g butter, at room temperature (or softened in the microwave)
140g caster sugar
2 large eggs
finely grated zest of a lemon
140g self-raising flour
4 Tbsp caster sugar
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line the base of a 20cm square tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then beat in the lemon zest. Sift the flour into the mixture and fold in until it is well combined. Spoon into the tin and smooth the surface.
Bake about 25 min or until a skewer comes out clean.
Put onto a wire rack to cool and prick all over with the skewer. Sprinkle over 1 Tbsp of the caster sugar. Then combine the rest of the sugar with the lemon juice and immediately pour it over the cake. Cool in the tin.
This way of doing the topping makes it have a nice crisp, sugary crust on top.
Good luck with the baking!!!
|Harry thrilled to have finally got his hands on a puppy|
|Harry holding 'Big Bob' and Ruby holding the little girl who is just like our Archie|
|How can anyone resist!|
|Charlie the very virile dad looking in from outside|
|Our Archie...ready for a haircut|
Yesterday we finally got to see my best friend Annie's new puppies. This is her dogs Lily and Charlie's 3rd litter and was pretty much an unwanted pregnancy. She looked away for just a second and there they were...and now here is the result of that one shot....7 babies (a huge litter for little dogs), of which 5 are girls and 2 are boys. I figure Lily is very fertile and Charlie is incredibly virile and here is the proof! Annie had thought that as 'it' was only once there may only be a couple of puppies but she really could not have been more wrong! However all the puppies she has had have been brought up with love, tons of kisses and loads of handling which really makes them into fantastic dogs, and these ones are no exception. I can say this as I have Archie which was from her first litter and I have gone from not being a 'dog person' to loving my little boy with a passion. In fact I don't even feel like I had a puppy it was all so easy. Anyway I hope I haven't killed you all with cuteness and boredom with these photos. I only wish I could bring you that new puppy smell!....See here I go again!!!!
Saturday, May 28, 2011
For quite a few years now I have been following the forums on a website called Foodlovers which is owned by a woman called Helen Jackson. You might know her as she is also one of the hosts of the Kitchen and Garden Show on Radio live on a Saturday morning. Anyway she recently released a book called 'Helen Jackson's Kitchen' and I, of course, had to buy it....I did resist for a couple of weeks but temptation got the better of me and I caved in. It's a fantastic book with easy to follow recipes. It isn't so basic as to be boring or unchallenging but it also isn't so challenging that the recipes are unachievable. If you want a good all-round cookbook which you can use for everyday food as well as food for a special occasion, then this book is it. I have made the 4 1/2 c chicken and can recommend this highly.
Anyway as I lean to the baking side I thought I would try out the recipe for this delicious sounding, yet easy to whip up, loaf to take to my friend Annie's house when I go to see the new puppies this afternoon. I mean how can you go wrong with lemon and raspberry! This loaf is divine- I HAD to try it of course in the interests of this blog! It is very easy to make and the flavour is wonderful. In fact it tastes even better than I thought it would given the ingredients.
I recommend having a look at the Foodlovers website as it has loads of great recipes and a fantastic forum to follow. There is a recipe on there for a Lemon and Blueberry Loaf which is the same as this recipe but with raspberries substituted. It is not only lovely with a cup of tea but would also make a great dessert especially with some lemon curd and whipped cream or nice yoghurt on the side.
Make sure to check out the book...you might be like me and unable to resist temptation.
Monday, May 23, 2011
The other day I was checking out all the blogs I follow on my Google reader and came upon this fantastic recipe posted about by Mrs Cake. I knew it would be the perfect cake for a busy night shift so set about to make it for my shift tonight. Mrs Cake does great posts with step by step photos...something I would like to do but I just keep on forgetting to take the shots as I go! She said her husband had rated it 9/10 so that seemed good enough for me. She also calls it 'Healthy Cake', and now having made it myself can attest to the fact that it most certainly isn't. I'm sure she wrote that with her tongue firmly in her cheek though...however it's always easy to justify something as being healthy when it has oats, fruit and a vegetable in it. In fact come to think about it, maybe I'll forget about all the butter, the sugar, the coconut and the cream cheese icing myself and go with Mrs Cake's interpretation of what is healthy. It might mean that I could have an extra big slice tonight...you know, just for health's sake and all!
This cake is very easy to make. I did find that the top layer with the coconut topping didn't cook as well and I'm hoping it is baked through as the topping seemed to slow the baking process down for that cake. It's also a bit fragile. I left mine to cool in the tin before taking it out but the top cake still broke a little when I lifted it to put it on top of the iced bottom layer. Never to mind it will still be yummy and I think it looks pretty good too. If you want the recipe visit Mrs Cake's blog and find it here. Her blog is a great one to have a look through too and to make it even better she's a Kiwi.
Here's to a frantic night shift with lots of babies...but also lots of cake and cups of tea!
Saturday, May 21, 2011
|Packed up and ready to go|
|These ones were made for the kids in Harry's ballet class as they have all been working really hard towards their Grade 1 exam|
|And a couple for the 2 lovely ballet teachers too|
As I said in my previous post it was my friend Leigh's birthday on Monday. I had already planned on making the chocolate slice but I was hoping I would have time to make some cupcakes too. Last week I bought some of the delicious Petal Cupcakes which I blogged about. My favourite flavour was the Raspberry one which was beautiful beyond belief- especially the icing. I had read something where the owner of Petal Cupcakes was saying that she used freeze-dried fruit powders to get the flavour in the cupcakes. At the time these were only available (as far as I knew), for businesses not joe-public. However thanks to Becs who left a comment on one of my posts, I have managed to track down where you can now buy these powders you home use. For those who might be interested the manufacturer is Fresh-As and you can get these powders from Farro, Sabato and I think Nosh too. I went over to the new Farro in Constellation drive and bought the Strawberry and Blueberry ones.
In all the years I have known Leigh, she has always been hot on fruit- especially summer fruit and berries so of course I had to try the Strawberry powder in my cupcakes for her. Let me tell you, these powders are incredible! They are easy to use and taste beautiful. You can tell they are the real thing as the flavour is a true one not that plastic, imitation one. I put about a heaped dessert spoon in the actual cake mix, (just a vanilla cupcake recipe from the Crabapple Bakery Book or you can use your favourite vanilla cupcake recipe), and to be honest I don't think it made all that much difference to the flavour of the cake. The real star was the buttercream icing where I added about 3 Tbsp of the powder. It really developed with time so the icing today tasted even better than it did last night (but it tasted pretty dam good last night if I do say so myself). These powders are well worth the purchase. They are a bit pricey but for that special treat you will be glad you bought them. The flavour variations are wide and include Raspberry, Plum, Feijoa, Passionfruit, Peach and so on. Next time I might add a bit more to the cake mix to give more of a flavour to the cake itself.
Anyway HAPPY BIRTHDAY LEIGH!!!! I hope your year ahead is wonderful as you deserve it to be xxx
Last Monday was my friend Leigh's birthday. We don't get to spend much time together and usually only see each other when we get to work together but after all the years we have known each other, (which is probably about 23 years...over half my life!), I always remember her birth date. It's funny how these things just stick with you and sure enough on the morning of the 16th May, pretty much the first thing I remember is that it is Leigh's birthday! Anyway I knew we were working together on Friday night so thought I would make at least one thing to take as a mark of the occasion. As I wasn't sure how I would feel when I woke up on Friday (or what time I would wake up), I chose this as my first option with some cupcakes as an extra (see the next post) if I had the time. As it turned out I managed to make both.
This slice is very easy and I think offers maximum chocolate flavour and decadence for a minimum effort. It's basically and melt in the pot and mix it all together. You could put whatever nuts or dried fruit you wanted to mix up the flavours a bit. This slice would be lovely with a cup of tea or coffee to give you that afternoon lift...or in our case a bit of get up and go on a very busy night shift.
No-Bake Chocolate, Macadamia and Fig Slice
2 Tbsp runny honey
300g dark chocolate (I used 62%), broken into pieces
100g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
100g biscuits (I used Superwine), roughly chopped
100g macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
100g dried figs, roughly chopped
Cocoa for dusting
Line a tin with baking paper.
Put the butter, honey and both types of chocolate in a medium pot and melt gently remembering to stir every now and then.
Put the chopped biscuits, nuts and figs into a bowl and add the chocolate mixture. Put into the tin and cool before cutting.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I saw this recipe on one of the blogs I follow and immediately thought I would have to make some today for the boys afternoon tea. Yes I know I still have the biscuits left but I really wanted to see how these tasted. Harry is sitting his grade one ballet exams at the end of June and he has been amazing in the amount of work he has put into practicing for them. He is really hungry at the moment and I think it's because of all the energy he using up so I think these will be a nice treat to have with a hot chocolate after school before we go to his extra ballet practice tonight.
I love doughnuts but as they are deep fried they are a rare treat. However these are almost as good (she says trying to convince herself)! I say that because nothing beats a lovely fresh doughnut but when you can't really eat them, then these are a pretty good alternative. They are a breeze to make and even though I obviously over mixed them (I always do that to muffins!), they still have a lovely texture and a really nice flavour. The glaze adds to them and I think finishes them off and rounds them out. I think I will be making these again.
Glazed Doughnut Muffins
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp grd nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 2/3 c flour
1 c milk
45g butter, melted
1 c icing sugar, sifted
3/4 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp hot water (you may need more)
Oven to 200 C. Line 12-15 muffin cups with muffin liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In the bowl of a stand mixer beat together butter, vegetable oil, and sugars till smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time. With the mixer on low speed add the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and vanilla until just combined.
Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
Spoon batter into cups, filling the cups, and smooth tops. Bake about 15 mins until muffin tops are a pale golden and springy to the touch, rotating halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool before glazing.
To Make the Glaze
In a medium bowl mix together the melted butter, icing sugar, vanilla and water. Whisk until smooth.
When muffins have cooled slightly, dip the muffin crown into the glaze and allow the glaze to harden. Once hardened, dip a second time and allow to harden then serve.
These days I very rarely buy biscuits from the supermarket instead preferring to make them myself so when I got home from work on Monday morning I thought I would make these for the week for the boys to take to school and have as an afternoon snack. I also made enough to give some to my mum and her husband Bobby.
This recipe for these biscuits is very similar to my most favourite Chocolate Chip recipe in that both have condensed milk in them and they are equally as easy to whip up. These ones are based on a Jo Seager recipe but I have seen the same (or similar) recipe all over the show. If you make the full recipe be prepared for a glut of biscuits as it makes a lot...I think I got about 32 from my batch. The best thing is that you can add in whatever you like. I put in both white and dark chocolate and in a small amount of mixture I put in raisins. The boys aren't keen on raisins in biscuits but I love them so needless to say those ones are mine! You could also put in nuts or any other dried fruit that might take your fancy. I love a recipe that you can mix up a bit!
Anyway it looks like I might have to give some to our neighbour as well as I don't think the boys are going to eat all of these ones. I'm sure she will be pleased for them though.
Double Chocolate Oat Biscuits
250g butter, softened
3 Tbsp condensed milk
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 c of both dark and white chocolate chips (or whatever else you like)
Oven to 170 C.
Beat butter, sugar and condensed milk together until creamy and light. Add in flour, oats, baking powder and chocolate.
Bake flattened spoonfuls on a lined baking tray for about 20 mins until golden.
Doesn't get much easier than that!
Sunday, May 15, 2011
|After being 'Brulee'd'|
|The one small individual one I made|
I have made this tart a number of times over the years. I originally got the recipe from a Gourmet Travellor magazine (I think it was from a 2002 issue). It's a fantastic recipe which is easy to make and has a lovely custardy, light texture. The original recipe does not call for the top to be brulee'd but I thought I would give a go with this one to see if it made it taste better or if it added something else to the already delicious tart. The recipe for the base is also a good one but this base is one I have had in the freezer for a little while when I made my last batch of Dorie Greenspan 'good for anything sweet pastry' (at least I'm sure that is the name of it). I had lined this rectangle tin as well as one individual tin with the leftover dough I had.
Tonight is the last night for one of our nurses called Stephanie. She has been in NZ for ages now but homesickness has finally got the better of her so she and her family have decided to move back to England. She's a lovely person and a fantastic nurse so we will all miss her a lot. Another thing she is, is a fantastic baker so I'm hoping this will meet with her approval. When someone leaves our unit we all bring food and have a feast to say goodbye on their last shift. As I am onto my third night duty in a row I needed to make something that wasn't too labour intensive but delivered a nice flavour hit so I thought this tart might do it. As I had already made the pastry, all I had to do was blind bake it and make the filling, then get out my brulee torch and work some magic. I find that using icing sugar gives the best crunch on top. It melts fast so you are less likely to burn the tart or cook the eggs in the filling more than is necessary. Anyway the proof will be in the pudding when we eat it later I suppose. If you don't have a torch, don't worry as this tart is amazing just as it is especially with some raspberries on the side and some softly whipped cream.
170g plain flour
80g icing sugar
2 Tbsp and 2 tsp ground almonds
100g chilled and chopped butter
1 egg, separated
Combine flour, salt and almonds in a food processor and blitz to mix. Add butter and egg yolk and about a tablespoon of chilled water. Process until just coming together. Shape into a disc, cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge for about an hour to rest. Line a 23cm tart tin with a removable bottom and freeze 30 mins.
Bake blind for about 15 mins in a 200 C oven. Remove the beans and brush the lightly beaten egg white over the base and put back into the oven for another 5 mins.
220g caster sugar
grated zest and juice of about 3 lemons (depends on the size though)
Combine eggs and sugar and whisk until smooth. Whisk in zest and juice followed by the cream.
Pour into the warm tart case and bake about 30-40 mins until just set in a 150C oven.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
For night shift last night I consulted one of my new cookbooks (seen in the last photo). This is pretty good book with lots of good ideas for easy weekend baking. I wanted something that could be made quickly before I had to get the boys from school. I love toffee and I love ginger and this combines both flavours to make this light and intensely flavoured tray bake cake. You can substitute the ginger for 50 g sultanas and put golden syrup in the icing instead of the ginger syrup, but luckily I still had some stem ginger in the fridge so I used that. I grated the ginger but the only thing I would have changed was that next time I'll also finely chop it after it has been grated. This disappeared very quickly at work and I think if I had kept it home it would have been far too hard to resist.
Sticky Toffee Tray Bake with Toffee Fudge Drizzle
175g butter, softened
125g dark muscovado sugar or brown sugar
150g golden syrup
200g self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp cream
2 balls of stem ginger in syrup, drained and finely chopped
Oven to 180C. Butter and line a 20 x 33 cm baking tin (or one that is around that).
Put all the ingredients except the ginger into a large bowl and beat until well combined (you can use an electric mixer for this). Stir in the ginger.
Tip it into the tin and spread it out evenly. Bake about 25 mins until a skewer comes out clean and leave to cool completely in the tin.
Toffee Fudge Icing
1 Tbsp syrup from the ginger
2 Tbsp cream
75g brown sugar
40g icing sugar, sifted.
Put the butter, syrup, brown sugar and cream into a pot and stir over a low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the icing sugar.
Drizzle icing over the cake.