Friday, August 26, 2011

Baking for Nightshift- Lemon Syrup Bundt Cake

Tonight for night shift I thought I would make this delicious bundt cake. I got the recipe from one of the many blogs I follow and first made it for my friends cafe the other day. Although I have had pretty bad joint pain for the last couple of months, I can't stand lying around at home doing nothing. However I have had to strike a happy medium lately and make sure I rest up so my joints aren't too terrible when I go to work. Today I thought I would bake a cake for work before resting up a bit in the afternoon. This is a very easy recipe to make and any chance I get to pull out my bundt tins, I tend to jump at. In fact I'm waiting for a book to come from Amazon called 'Kiss my Bundt' so hopefully in the not-too-distant future I'll be posting about all sorts of fabulous bundt cakes. This cake has a lovely lemon syrup poured (or brushed) over top and then has a basic glaze poured over it to accentuate it's lovely angles and curves. 

Lemon Syrup Bundt Cake

The Cake
1c yoghurt (I have also used buttermilk)
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1/4c lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
230g butter
2c sugar
1 1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp baking soda
4 eggs
2 3/4c flour

The Syrup
1/2c sugar
1/2c lemon juice
1/4c water

The Glaze
Icing sugar
Milk to get the right consistency (a bit like very thick pouring cream)

Oven to 175 C and grease a 10-12c bundt tin well. You could also make this is a 25cm tin.

Whisk together the yoghurt, vanilla, lemon zest and juice.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and creamy then add each egg one at a time beating well after each. Add half the flour mix followed by the yoghurt mix then the rest of the flour mix. Do not overbeat and mix until each is just mixed in.

Bake about 40min (this all depends on the size of tin you have used so make sure to check it with a skewer first).

Cool on a wire rack for about 15mins before turning out. Brush and spoon over the syrup while still warm then pour over the glaze when cold.

To make the syrup- put all the ingredients into a small pot and bring to a boil. Simmer a few minutes until syrupy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Italian Mama Moment with Homemade Mozzarella

A while ago I was reading one of the many blogs I follow by Mrs Cake when she posted about making mozzarella. She used a Mad Millie kit (the Italian one) to do it and posted great step by step photos. I went out after reading that post and bought my own kit. It cost around $40 for the kit but that makes about 15 batches of cheese so cost-wise it should be pretty reasonable. The funny thing is, is that I don't eat cheese! As a child I used to make myself eat a slice of good old Chesdale cheese as I was determined to like it. Now I can eat cheese but only if it's 'cooked' and not too 'cheesy'. Any sign of 'raw' cheese sends me running so all that hard work making myself eat the stuff (and gagging all the while), as a child never paid off. I guess I should be happy about that as I know that if I did like cheese it would be game and kilos on! 

However despite not liking cheese I love the idea of making my own. I figured mozzarella is perfect for pizza which I can eat, and I know I will make mascarpone as even though I'm not keen on the flavour on it's own, what is a Tiramisu without it? While I haven't done the step by step photos (check out Mrs Cake's site) I have posted photos of the final product. I think it was pretty cost effective and the process was really easy. The only thing I will do differently is to stretch the cheese a bit more. The milk cost about $11 and the yield was around 600gm of fresh mozzarella. Dons immediately made a mozzarella, tomato and basil salad and she said the cheese was delicious...very creamy and moist with the perfect flavour. 

Although it played havoc on my sore joints (which I have had since I got a virus 2 months ago), it was well worth the effort and subsequent joint pain. We had it on homemade pizza where I made my own base and tomato sauce and I have to say it was really good. Give the kit a will feel like a true Domestic Goddess and Holly-homemaker.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cupcakes for Emily

Tonight is the fundraiser for our lovely friend Caroline whose daughter Emily was taken from her a few months ago. Some of the girls from work have been doing some fantastic things to raise money for Caroline to use for whatever she needs to give her a little help during this terrible time. Adelle initiated and made up an amazing hamper from things people brought in and raised a fair chunk of money. Luanne, Meredith and Tamara have all organised tonights event which is a movie night. Lots of people who couldn't make it to the evening have donated money and those of us going are making nibbles and food to have before the movie with a glass of wine. These cupcakes are my contribution.

Even though I never met Emily I feel like she is a part of our family as over the years I have worked with Caroline (or Blondie as I know her), we have talked a lot about each others families. Therefore I feel like I knew Emily pretty well. Caroline was and is an amazing mother. Any child lucky enough to have a mother like her is indeed, a very fortunate child. That girl was so loved!!! 

When I think about what Emily is like and from what I have heard about her, I think glamour, striking, sparkling and above all fun! I know it is pretty much impossible to put these into a cupcake but in my post night duty haze, I think these will suffice enough. They are my most favourite rich and delicious chocolate cupcakes (the ones I make all the time for the Crabapple Bakery Cookbook), with a nutella and chocolate filling and a simple, but yummy, chocolate buttercream on top. I wanted to keep the cupcake and icing all one colour to let the glittery hearts shine as Emily did. The hearts are a slightly offbeat shape, as Emily was her own person who conformed only to herself, and the colours are a vibrant pink and pure, glittery white. Although I could have gone way over the top with these, I wanted to keep them classic yet fun....which is how I see Emily.

To all the girls who have organised all these wonderful fundraising things....thanks. You are all amazing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Baking for Nightshift- White and Dark Chocolate Jaffa Swirl Cake

First of all I know the photos are a bit poxy BUT at least you can still see how the cake looks inside. This is what happens when you have two boys wanting to have a piece of cake after coming home from school time to make it look too pretty. This recipe was from one of my many new cookbooks called 'Mix and Bake' by Belinda Jeffery. I know I have said it before..."My name is Megan and I'm a cookbook addict"...I can hear some of you saying "Hi Megan" now, well those of you who have joined me in the Obsessed-With-Cookbooks Anonymous support group anyway. I have a few more books coming from (is it MY fault that the postage is free and all you have to spend is 25 pound to be eligible for free postage...and the exchange rate is SO good at the moment....) and after that I WILL NOT buy anymore. I promise! Really!

Anyway this book is really fantastic. It is easy to follow and the recipes look really good. The only thing you need to remember is that is is Australian and therefore you have to make sure a tablespoon measure is actually 20ml instead of 15ml we use here. I love any excuse to use my bundt tin and this meant I could break it out of captivity again. This was a very easy recipe to make and tasted fantastic. When marbling it's amazing how little you have to swirl it to get the right effect. As you can see if I had swirled it a bit more it would have all blended together and while still tasting good, it wouldn't have looked all that great. I drizzled over a bit of ganache...not too much so you hide the curves and angles of the bundt tin, but enough to lift the flavour of the cake. This cake is largely made in the food processor but I prefer to do it the old-fashioned way and used my mixer so the method will be this way rather than the recipe way.

White and Dark Chocolate Jaffa Swirl Cake

55g white chocolate, finely chopped
55g dark chocolate, finely chopped
290g butter, at room temperature
2 1/2c flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4tsp baking soda
4 eggs
2c caster sugar
1c buttermilk
1 1/2tsp vanilla
1Tbsp finely grated orange zest (I used 1 1/2 oranges to get mine)

Melt the chocolates in separate bowls (in the microwave) with 20gm of the butter in each bowl. Cool to room temperature.

Cream the remaining butter (250g) until light and creamy. Add the caster sugar and beat until creamy.. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition then beat in the vanilla. Sift together the dry ingredients. Add in 3 parts alternately with the buttermilk beginning and ending with the flour. Don't overbeat. Separate the mixture equally into 2 bowls then add the white chocolate mixture into one and the dark into another. Mix until just combined.

Grease a bundt tin (or else a 25cm tin would be ok too). Spread half of the orange mix in the bottom followed by the dark mix and repeat. Try to not mix them together. Then get a thin knife and swirl gently...try zigzagging it. Don't be tempted to overdo the swirling or it will all blend together.

Bake about 55 mins or until cooked. Drizzle with a bit of ganache when cool.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hokey Pokey Cupcakes with Rich Caramel Frosting

In every country there are certain things that are considered to be 'iconic'. We have many of these in NZ including Pavlova (yes Aussies it OURS), jandals, sheep, no.8 wire, and of course Hokey Pokey ice cream (amongst loads of others). Hokey pokey is a caramelly, crispy sweet most NZ-famous for being in Tip Top's Hokey Pokey Ice Cream which is like a vanilla ice cream with little bits of HP through it. So as soon as I saw this recipe in Tamara Jane's 'Divine Cupcakes', I knew I had to make them. Although it has taken ages to get there I finally made them on Sunday for Harry's playdate with his little friend Johanna. I made only half the recipe and got 13 cupcakes so I'll give the full recipe here in my blog. The frosting is really good too and I found that half the recipe made enough for all the cupcakes with a reasonable amount left over to freeze. 

Hokey Pokey Cupcakes

415g flour
3 tsp baking powder
230g butter
230g brown sugar
1/2tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1/2c sour cream
1/2c milk
2 large Cadbury's Crunchie Bars, crushed

Preheat the oven to 170C and line the muffin tins. 
 Beat the butter until creamy then add the sugar gradually beating until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla then add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.

Combine the sour cream and milk, and in a separate bowl sift the dry ingredients. Add flour mixture alternately with the sour cream and milk mix beginning and ending with the flour (I did it in 3 lots). Do  not overmix. Stir in the Crunchie bars. Divide the mix between the cases. Bake about 18 mins. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

Rich Caramel Frosting (I made half this)

100g butter
125g brown sugar
75g golden syrup
125ml cream
1kg icing sugar

Combine all ingredients except for the icing sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat to high and boil 5 mins. Cool to room temperature.

Add half the icing sugar to the caramel mixture and beat until light and fluffy. You may need some extra milk to get the right consistency. Add the rest of the icing sugar and beat until spreadable (or pipeable). I needed extra milk to get this to where I wanted it to be.

Sprinkle the cupcakes with some extra crushed Crunchie bars.

Miette's Peanut Butter Cookies

The other day this cookbook I have been waiting for, for what seems like months and months, finally arrived from Amazon. I had read much hype about it (I was actually taken in immediately when I saw the lovely photograph on the front cover), and since getting it, have read about the actual place on some people's blogs. Miette is a bakery in San Francisco and one which sounds extremely popular. By all accounts most of the food there is lovely and the shop itself beautiful, and the book itself does not disappoint in that the presentation, including the gorgeous scalloped pages, and the recipes look amazing. HOWEVER,....and there is a however, I was lucky enough to read on a blog I follow that there were a number of typos and errors in the book. While they have since published something to rectify this, I was still very disappointed as it was pure luck that I even discovered this. Had I made some of the affected recipes and they had turned out wrong I would have been a little bit miffed and you would expect a book of this caliber to have been carefully proof-read. By the sounds of it it has really deflated peoples expectations of this book which is a real pity as it is so lovely. Anyway I have since contacted Amazon and they are sending me a new book which will hopefully be ok. 

Anyway while I was still blissfully unaware of the issues surrounding this book, I gave these biscuits a go. We are a real peanut butter family with all of us loving the stuff. I try not to eat it but sometimes it's a struggle to stay away from it! These were very easy to make and they tasted pretty good too. The recipe is one of the errors in that it says they make up to 120 I don't think you would have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this would be pretty impossible. My mix seemed to spread a bit so they lost that lovely 'meat-mallet' look but this could be remedied easily by putting the mix into the fridge for awhile. However I really like that they were nice and crispy and went perfectly with a cup of tea.

Miette's Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/2c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2c (about 115g) soft butter
1/2c sugar
1/3c brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2c plus 2 Tbsp crunchy or smooth peanut butter

Line baking sheets with baking paper and preheat the oven to 175C.

Cream the butter, sugars and vanilla together in aq mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until incorporated. Add the peanut butter and mix until smooth and uniform. Add the sifted dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Roll balls and flatten with a meat mallet to give that lovely criss-cross appearance or else use a fork. Sprinkle with a bit of sugar and bake until lightly browned (about 10-13  
mins depending on how big you have made them). Remove the biscuits from the trays and cool on a wire rack

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Baking for Nightshift- Coffee and Walnut Cake with Brandy and Walnut Cream Cake

A little bit messy but still yummy
For the last set of night shift I worked I decided to make one of the delicious sounding cakes from the latest issue of Dish magazine (Issue 37). Dish magazine is the most favourite of all the mags I subscribe to (and there are many). In it's early days I thought it was a little on the pretentious side but it quickly established itself and is now a fantastic magazine both for the readability of it and the usable, easy but not too simple recipes. Some magazines can be a little too 'family-friendly' or else overly 'wah-wah' (if you know what I mean) but Dish is one that seems to cross the divide of being both user-friendly yet inventive and fresh. It is the only mag where I will make more than one or two recipes from and every time the result is well worth it. This cake is no exception. 

I am not a fan of walnuts nor of coffee-flavoured things. But for some reason this cake just works. It has a lovely texture and flavour making it delicious and decadent yet real and inviting...if you know what I mean. Apparently it was an old family recipe and we all know that these are the ones that carry on down through the generations because they are so good. It was an easy cake to make but you do need to be sure you set some time aside to let a couple of the components cool down. It also helps to have a stand mixer too I would think...but that's probably the case for lots of things!  

Coffee and Walnut Cake with Rum (Brandy) and Walnut Cream (Dish issue 37)

75gm walnuts, toasted and ground finely
3 Tbsp instant espresso coffee
2 Tbsp boiling water
2 Tbsp dark rum (or brandy)
225g butter at room temp
225g caster sugar
4 eggs
225g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water then stir in the rum/brandy and leave to cool.

Beat the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy then add the eggs one at a time adding a tsp of the flour with each egg. Combine the remaining flour, baking powder and walnuts and, using a large metal spoon, carefully fold into the butter mixture. 

Divide the mixture between 2 greased and lined 23cm tins and smooth the top. Bake about 20 mins until the cake is cooked. It will spring back when you touch it gently and be pulling away from the sides. Cool for 20mins then remove from the tin onto a wire rack.

Walnut Cream
75g toasted walnuts, finely ground
1/3 c milk2 Tbsp rum/brandy
100g butter at room temp
1c icing sugar
2 egg yolks

Bring the milk and rum/brandy to the boil then stir in the walnuts and cool.

Beat the butter and icing sugar together until light and fluffy then beat in the egg yolks. Add teh cooled walnut mixture and beat again for 2 mins until the mixture is thick and smooth. Cover and put in the fridge until firm.

5tsp boiling water
1 Tbsp instant espresso coffee
1c icing sugar, sifted

Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water then beat in the icing sugar to make a smooth, pourable glaze (I needed a bit more water). 

To assemble
Slice each cake in half horizontally, You can brush with rum/brandy but I missed this out. Spread with a 1/3 of the walnut cream. Repeat the layers and on the final layer pour over the glaze. You can see mine was a little wonky but hey it still tasted just as good.

The girls at work really liked this. I don't think the alcohol did anything at all to the flavour of the cake but maybe if I had used dark rum it might have (I had run out). Some thought that even though they didn't normally go for walnut/coffee flavoured cakes, that this was really good. I agree!!
The not very glamorous 'serving plate''s my container!

Chocolate Afghans

The other day Dons requested that I make her some Gluten Free Afghans. For those who live outside of NZ and Australia, Afghans are a popular biscuit made with cornflakes. A must is the chocolate icing and topped with a walnut. The walnut gives them an added and extra  flavour dimension which makes them even more delicious and moreish than they already are. These are very easy to make and I ended up making half the recipe using gluten free flour and half using normal flour. The GF ones tasted as good as the normal ones except they spread a little bit more (which was fine as they still weren't pancakes). Dons polished hers off pretty quickly and our ones were quick to follow. She declared them to be the best biscuits I have ever made...I guess you can get pretty desperate for a decent tasting biscuit when you eat GF!

Anyway give these a go because they are easy to make and taste pretty dam good!

Chocolate Afghans

200g butter
1/2c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2c flour
4 Tbsp cocoa
2c cornflakes (slightly crunched up)

Preheat the oven to 180 C and line 2 baking trays with baking paper. 

Cream the butter, vanilla and sugar together. Mix in the sifted flour, cocoa and baking powder then add in the cornflakes. Roll into small balls and flatten slightly. Bake 15-20 mins then cool on a wire rack.

Ice with a nice chocolate buttercream icing then top with a walnut half.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Custard Cake

So the reason I have made a few posts in a row is that my blogger account has been playing up terrible and I have been unable to post any photos. After what seems like hours of sorting out and trying to figure out what the problem is, I am still no clser to finding an answer or reason for it. In fact I even got so far as to open a blogging account with wordpress with the aim to swap over to them. However I thought I would give it one last go on my pc instead of the laptop I have been using and it's working so I thought I should make the most of it and get posting while I can.

Anyway most Kiwi's know and love good old Edmonds custard. I grew up with it and while I love proper homemade custard, I don't think there is much that comes close to Edmonds...A heathen I know but sometimes those childhood taste memories rule supreme and in this case Edmonds is the ruling party. My boys also love Edmonds custard even though we don't have it all that much (I really must whip it up more often). 

The other day (or was it the other week?) I found a recipe for a custard cake and stored it away to use. However when I pulled it out and read the ingredient list, it just didn't sound right and I wondered if a mistake had been made with the measurements especially when I did an internet search for similar recipes and saw that it was way out. After some searching I found this following recipe BUT I altered it a bit based on the comments people had made underneath it about it not being sweet enough. So here is my altered recipe. Make this if you, too, love Edmonds custard. I can tell you it is delicious and very, very moreish. I have had to exercise huge restaint from eating it all myself.

Custard Cake

For the Custard

3 Tbsp custard powder
300ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2-3 Tbsp sugar

Make the custard frst by mixing the custard powder to a paste with some of the milk. Then stir it over a low-medium heat until it thickens and boils. Set aside to cool a bit (I put mine in the fridge covered over with clingfilm pressed to the surface)

For the Cake

190g butter softened
1/2 c caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c self raising flour
1/2 c custard powder
1 c milk

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Sift the flour and custard powder together and add in 3 lots alternating with the milk. Don't overbeat.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line and grease a 23cm tin. Put in half the cake mixture, followed by the custard, then dollop and cover the custard layer as best you can with the rest of the cake mixture.

Bake 40 mins, leave to cool in the tin then remove and indulge.

I also drizzled mine with a glaze made from icing sugar, vanilla and hot water. 

Gluten Free Sponge Cake

So the day after the family get together was Dons' actual birthday. When I had asked her what sort of cake she wanted I knew what the answer would it is every year. It was to be a gluten free sponge cake with cream and strawberries in the middle. As it is winter here strawberries are not readily available. However you can get some very expensive (both in price and air miles), strawberries from the USA so I went in search of some of them for the requested cake. Luckily I only had to go to two places before I found some that looked halfway decent.

I found the recipe on a GF website and it actually made two very nice looking and high sponges. I never seem to have trouble making a sponge cake so maybe I have the 'touch' for them as I know some people have trouble getting them to rise and stay risen, (although the addition of baking powder certainly helps!). As it was made with cornflour, I thought it didn't taste as good as a 'normal' sponge, but Dons loved it. I made the whipped cream with some icing sugar and a bit of vanilla so it had a lovely slightly sweet taste to it which complemented the sponge and strawberries beautifully. I love strawberries with icing sugar anyway so this was bound to work and make them taste even nicer. I have to say it was nice to have a bit of summer in the middle of winter too and the strawberries themselves tasted pretty good.

I had a small piece of cake and Harry picked all the strawberries out of his so it ended up that Dons pretty much ate the whole lot by herself over a couple of days...I guess you get to do that on the day you born! Happy birthday darling Dons xxx

Gluten Free Sponge Cake

3/4c Cornflour
1tsp Baking Powder
3 Free Range Eggs
Pinch of Salt
1/2c Sugar

Pre-heat oven to 180 C. Grease and line 2 x 20cm sandwich tins. Sift the cornflour & baking powder together a couple fo times. Separate whites from yolks of eggs. Beat whites with salt until frothy. Add yolks and beat until quite pale. Gradually beat in sugar until mixture is stiffish. Fold in sifted cornflour & baking powder being careful to not overmix and mix all the air out. Put into prepared tins & bake for 20 mins. Remove from the tins after 10mins or so.

Birthday Cupcakes and Don's Birthday

Todd, mum and Russ

Tam and Jules (sis-in-laws)

Dad-am and Jen (another sis-in-law)

Dons, Dad-am and Rochene (my sister)

Dion (bro-in-law) and Dons

Sister, Dons, Beau and Jules

Jen and my very naughty sis-in-law Tarn

Bro-in-laws Billy and Dion

Some of the kids...going feral

Rochene and her partner Todd

Russell and George

Bobby and dad-am

Dons and I

The platter of cupcakes

Sitting outside in the middle of winter in the warm sun

So last weekend was Dons birthday and as wehad had it arranged for ages, we had the family over for afternoon drinks and nibbles to celebrate. Even though both Dons and I had been sick we didn't want to cancel as after all your birthday only comes around once a year! We only did pretty basic nibbles but as usual there was loads to eat and tons leftover. I guess that's ok though as we both subscribe to the whole thing of people not going hungry and we figure that if there are things left over then we have catered properly. We are really lucky in that our families really like each other and all get on well together so family get togethers are fun and social. We also had the obligatory Karaoke but as I had pretty much lost my voice I couldn't indulge. Usually it's a fight to get the microphones off Don and I but this time that microphone was there for the taking!

The cupcakes I made were both vanilla dna chocolate and the recipes for these can be found here on my blog. I made a basic, but buttery and yummy, vanilla bean buttercream for the top which unfortunately melted a little as even though it is winter our house is pretty warm and the high, decadent amount of butter in the icing, meant that it did soften a little after I piped it. But never to mind it still looked pretty good. I got to try out my new cutters and a beautiful flower mold too. The bigger flowers sitting on top of the cupcakes were made with this mold and as Dons favourite colour is yellow I went with that for most of them. I also put some edible glitter in the centres of them to give them a bit of bling...not that Dons is a 'blingy' kind of girl. They did look lovely though and we only ended up with a couple left over so they must have tasted good too. I find that after making this sort of thing and playing with fondant for a while, the last thing I feel like eating is anything sugary or cakey so I didn't have any except a small bit to see how they tasted. As well as that these recipes I make all the time so I know they taste good and have a lovely texture.

Anyway I think everyone had a good time and most importantly Dons enjoyed herself too. Thanks everyone for making it a lovely day! xxx