Saturday, November 26, 2011

Harry's Show

Just a quick post to let everyone know that our babies in Grade 1 had their big end of the year ballet show where the whole academy gets to show us all what they are made of. The top 2 photos are my naughtily-gotten gains when I was parent help on the Saturday and show Harry in his Prince outfit. Our babies managed to win the trophy for the Best Ballet Performance of the show which was very, very exciting....for them as well as us....!!! The bottom photos are from today's ballet lesson where the huge trophy they won was given to the next girl to have a turn with. Harry gets his turn last in the cycle (as the 'gentleman always lets the ladies go first') so no doubt there will be a ton more photos posted from this VERY proud Mummy when he gets his mitts on it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Baking for Nightshift- Carrot Cake for a Crowd

For night shift last night I thought I would make this carrot cake from Annabel Langbein's new book 'Free Range in the City' and I thought I would fancy up the cream cheese icing by piping it on the cake rosette style. The cake is a huge 25cm and fed us all happily. In fact it lasted only an hour or so before it was all gone. The icing melted a little after I piped it before I whipped it into the fridge before I left for work. It still looked really lovely though especially for something so easy to do. This cake was delicious! I will definitely make it again and because of it's size it can feed a huge amount of people. If you have a food processor it hardly takes any time at all to make. But you can also put the ingredients into a mixer if you don't have a food processor.

Carrot Cake for a Crowd

1 c neutral oil (I used canola oil)
2 c raw or white sugar
4 eggs
1 c wholemeal flour
1 c plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
3 c grated carrot (about 3 medium carrots)
2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp orange juice
1/2 c raisins (optional)
1/4 c chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat the oven to 160 C. Grease and line with baking paper a 25cm cake tin.

Place oil, sugar and eggs into a food processor and whizz to combine. Add the flour, spices, salt and carrot and pulse to combine. Don't overmix. Mix the soda into the orange juice and pulse into the mix. Add in the walnuts and raisins if using (I did and it made a great cake even better).

Put into the tin and bake about an hour until cooked. Cool and ice.

Cream Cheese Frosting

75g butter, softened
250g cream cheese (not lite or spreadable)
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 c icing sugar.

Process everything. It may need to go into the fridge for a while to firm up before you put it onto the cake.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Baking for Nightshift- Magic Slice

OOPS!!! When I woke up this afternoon I got a call on my mobile from work which is unusual when you are on night shift and coming back that night. OMG what had I done??? Had I made an error? Had I not done something essential that was so urgent it couldn't wait until I got back to work? NO! I had taken the level 3 work mobile home and they had been looking for it ALL day. I was sure I had left it charging at the front desk but in my sleep deprived state I had put it into my bag and taken it home, telling the day staff that it was still charging. When I sheepishly dug the phone out from the bottom of my little carry-around work bag there were only 20 missed calls and a couple of messages. Oh dear!  

Therefore as part of my penance I had to make something to take tonight. I almost always bake for my first night shift and very rarely bake when I am in the middle of nights due to a certain amount of vagueness. But after a cup of tea and armed with a strong double shot coffee, I set to whipping this up. Of course it was not a taxing slice to make and is guaranteed to be rich, chewy, tasty and full of delicious ingredients. I know it looks healthy but this is anything but. Harry gave it his mark of approval and I know this will redeem me somewhat...maybe....?!

Magic Slice (from 'Ripe Recipes')

180g biscuit crumbs (I used Superwine)
75g butter, melted
1 c milk or dark chocolate drop/bits
1 c desiccated coconut
1 c sliced almonds
1 c raisins
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat the oven and line a 20 x 30cm baking tin with baking paper.

Mix the biscuit crumbs with the melted butter and pat into the prepared tin. Chill about 15 mins. Mix the raisins, chocolate, coconut and almonds in a bowl then add the condensed milk and mix well into a sticky mess. Cover the base with the topping and make sure it is spread out evenly. Bake 20-25 mins until golden brown and firm to the touch. Cut when cooled.

Baking for Nightshift- Lemon Coconut Cake

OK so I know these photos look terrible especially as the cake it sitting on the base of my cake carrier ready to be taken to work. I quickly cut out a small slice of the cake before I left to photograph it but even that looks pretty average. However don't be fooled by these bad photos and whatever you do make this cake! The recipe is from Annabel Langbein's (who I won't, once again, wax lyrical about), new book 'Free Range in the City'.

I had limited time to bake something so this was my choice as it basically meant throwing some things into a food processor or mixer and that was it. The icing was a revelation. Coconut cream cheese frosting! Yum! Next time I think I would put in a bit more coconut essence as the cream cheese dulled the flavour a little. The recipe itself makes a huge cake so I halved it and got a good sized 23cm cake out of it. But baking it in it's entirety would be fantastic if you have a lot of people to feed. The cake itself had a lovely texture but was full of flavour. I always find it difficult to estimate the size of lemons to use. Recipes always say the juice and rind of 'x' amounts of lemons. What size?! Lemons come big and small so that only adds to the confusion. This time I only had fairly small lemons so I used the rind and juice of three which I think made it nice and lemony...but not too much. I'll give the recipe for the whole cake but feel free to halve it as I did.

Lemon Coconut Cake

3 c sugar
4 eggs
finely grated zest and juice of 4 lemons
2 c neutral oil (I used canola but you could also use grapeseed)
1 3/4 c plain unsweetened yoghurt
1/2 c desiccated coconut
4 c self raising flour
a pinch of salt

Coconut Icing
75 gm butter, softened not melted
250g cream cheese (not low fat)
1/2tsp coconut essence
4 c icing sugar
1/2 c desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease a 28-30cm springform tin and line wit baking paper.

Place sugar, eggs, lemon zest and juice, oil and yoghurt into a food processor or mixer and whizz to combine. Add coconut, flour and salt and pulse until just combined (don't overmix).

Bake about 1 1/2 hrs (my 23cm one with half the recipe took almost an hour), until cooked (check with a skewer into the middle or until it's springy). Cool in the tin.

To make the icing put all the ingredients into the food processor and whizz or beat until smooth. It may need to go into the fridge for a little bit to firm up before you use it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Baking for Nightshift- One Pot Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes

As you probably know by now my cooking hero and the one whose books I use the most are those by Annabel Langbein. I trust her recipes and know that they will pretty much always turn out well and be delicious. When I was trying to decide what to make for night shift last night after looking through a few books I remembered this recipe in Annabel's new book called "Free Range in the City'. I already have some fantastic cupcake recipes and I have to admit it's hard to branch out from these but I put my trust in Annabel and it was not misguided. Very easy to make and only needing one pot, the batter is very thin making you wonder if they will end up tasting ok and rising properly. I used frozen raspberries as fresh ones are still ridiculously priced and they worked well. The icing is delicious too capping off a rich, yummy cupcake. They went pretty damn quickly last night so must have tasted pretty good. Apparently you can keep the mix in the fridge for up to a week as well meaning you can have fresh cupcakes every day if you want.

One Pot Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes (Annabel Langbein)

120g butter, cut into small dice
1/2 c neutral oil (I used grapeseed)
1 c water
100g dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 c cocoa, sifted
1 1/2c caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 c yoghurt or buttermilk (I used up some buttermilk)
2 c flour

Preheat the oven to 180 C and line muffin tins with paper cases (I got 29 cupcakes from this recipe).

Place butter, oil, water and chocolate into a medium/large pot and melt over a medium heat. Take off the heat and whisk in the cocoa and caster sugar so there are no lumps of cocoa. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla (work fast so the eggs don't cook).

Mix the baking powder and soda into the yoghurt or buttermilk then add to the chocolate mixture with the flour, whisking evenly until there are no lumps. Stand at least 10 mins before baking (I totally forgot this step).

Spoon into the cases until they are 3/4 full. Push 3 raspberries into each and if the raspberries are frozen, let them stand about another 10 mins.

Bake until they are risen and cooked. They take about 20 mins. Remove from the tins after 5 mins and let cool on a wire rack.


120g butter, room temperature
200g cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbsp blackcurrant cordial (I used Barkers Blackcurrant and raspberry)
1 tsp vanilla
red food colouring
about 5 c icing sugar

Beat butter, cream cheese, cordial, vanilla and colouring until smooth. Add icing sugar and beat again until smooth. Chill about 10 mins. Add more icing sugar if it is too thin. Pipe or ice onto the cupcakes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gin and Tonic Cake with a Twist of Lemon

Ok so these photos don't really do this cake justice but OMG you have GOT to make this. Delicious, divine, moist, yummy, lemony are just a few words to describe this cake. This recipe is from Julie Le Clerc's fantastic new cookbook called 'Favourite Cakes'. There are so many recipes I want to try from this book it's hard to pick one to make so no doubt over the next few months you will see quite a few cakes from here. I served slices of this with some of the lovely, creamy Kapiti lemon meringue yoghurt which went with it perfectly...much better than cream I thought.

Gin and Tonic Cake with a Twist of Lemon (Julie Le Clerc)

125g butter, softened
1 c caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2c sour cream
finely grated zest of 2 good sized lemons
1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and line with baking paper a 12 x 22cm loaf tin.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each. Beat in the sour cream followed by the zest.

Sift the flour and baking powder over the creamed mixture and stir to combine. Bake about 50-60 mins. Stand in the tin for 15 mins before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Pour the hot syrup over the cool cake.

Gin and Tonic Syrup
1/2 c tonic water
juice of the 2 lemons
1/2 c white sugar
1 lemon finely sliced
1/4c gin

Combine the tonic water, lemon juice and sugar in a pot. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer about 3-5mins until syrupy.

Add the lemon slices and simmer for 2 mins more. Remove from the heat and stir in the gin.

A Play Date With Daisy

Archie's sister Daisy

Daisy and Archie


Michelle with the babies

Bit tired

Both having a rest

Archie with a smile on his face

And Daisy with a smile on her's
As a pre-warning this is a post for those of those who can appreciate a few doggy photos...back to the baking next!

Today my friend Luanne from work brought her baby Daisy over for a play with Archie (a play-date). Daisy is Archie's sister...well she was their parents last litter and Archie was from the first. His was an unwanted teenage pregnancy and Daisy was my friend Andrea's second of inattention which resulted in 7 puppies! I managed to convince Luanne to get one of the puppies as I knew what lovely dogs they were and how beneficial it could be to have one as a member of the household. She doesn't regret it as I knew she wouldn't! As you can see she is a real beauty...although not quite as beautiful as my own baby Archie. Anyway they played hard out, after the obligatory sniff of the bits, with daisy taking Archie's teddy's and running around with them much to his amazement and indignation (even though he DID share his toys). 

Baking for Nightshift- Peppermint Brownie Slice

The other night for night shift, I made these yummy brownies. I love those Chocolate Mint Biscuits and these are a brownie version of those. They made a lot and the morning staff even got to have some. As well that there is nothing wrong with a bit of minty freshness in the middle of the night when things can get a bit dodgy and chewing gum (or something like it) is called for. These had a lovely flavour with the rich brownie, fresh mint icing and chocolate ganache on top adding to the decadence. What I liked about this recipe was that the brownie didn't have chocolate in it so this is something you can whip up with your pantry staples. If you wan the recipe you can find it here.

Custard Squares

This is a quick post and not one with a recipe. I made these when my friend Michele (also known as Moishy), came over during the school holidays. While they looked lovely and tasted pretty good, next time I will make the custard more sweet. While I thought the custard was sweet when I made it, I underestimated how much sweetness would be lost while it cooled in the fridge. The custard square is a very Kiwi coffee-lounge staple. They are pretty easy to make and basically involve baking the puff pastry (which you have to prick all over to stop it from puffing up), until it's a nice brown. Then you make a thick custard to spread over the pastry. I made my custard with Edmonds custard powder as this is the flavour I love in a good custard square, but remember to add more sugar than you think you will need. Top with the other pastry sheet, put into the fridge to, then ice with a vanilla icing. Easy, and delicious!

Harry's Halloween Disco

All dressed up and ready to go

With Mama

Doing the Spagetti---yuk!

Busting out the moves

Halloween for Harry is is the form of a disco at school. He was really excited about dressing up and getting to play some goulish and gross games then getting to have a good boogie. Unfortunately this year the school decided to split the disco into 2 separate parts for the junior and senior schools therefore making it more accessible for all the kids. While it did mean they could sell more tickets and therefore more children could go, a whole 1 1/4 hours was just not enough time for the kids to have a look around, play some games, settle in with friends, then relax and have a good dance. In fact Dons said they all started really getting into it for the last 10 minutes or so before they had to leave which was a bit disappointing. Regardless Harry got to dress up and enjoy himself for a little bit but we are hoping that next year they will go back to it being a whole 3 hours.