Monday, February 25, 2013

Baking for Nightshift- Salted Caramel Bundt Cake

My final post for this flurry of posts (especially difficult because I have only had 30 mins sleep since yesterday afternoon!), is this cake. I made this for my first night shift on Friday night. I love anything caramel and anything salted caramel just elevates it to a more sublime level. This cake had a tender crumb and the icing just made it even better. I have to say it wasn't overly caramel but I think that was ok as it wasn't too too sweet which can be a little overwhelming with caramel sometimes. I got a few cupcakes out of the mixture too and I can tell you that this cake keeps very very well. 

Of note I made 1 1/2 times the recipe so I got a bigger cake out of it and it definitely increased well. Make sure you pour the icing over as soon as you make it as it sets on the cake quickly (as you can see) but it doesn't set hard so you break your knife cutting the cake! I thought my icing looked better than the one in the recipe I found as it seemed to have more colour to it...this could be because the sugar there is different to the sugar here? Also for the syrup I used glucose syrup instead of corn syrup but you could probably get away with not using it at all. You can find the recipe here.

Brown Sugar Buttermilk Muffins

I have never been particularly good at making muffins and they have usually turned out not as light as I would have liked. However THESE muffins are a go! Make them make them make them. They sound so simple and rather boring but warm out of the oven (or warmed in the microwave) with a bit of butter, they are divine! It amazes me that something so simple can be do delicious. Maybe it's the crumble topping or maybe it's the fact that the buttermilk makes them so tender. Whatever it is I know I will be making these regularly and I will HAVE to take some to work one night. You can find the recipe here.

Short Black Cupcakes and a Visit with a Friend

My friend Michele and I are old school friends. We both braved and suffered through going to St Mary's College and became best friends who did everything together. She is the only school friend I have any contact with and even after many years of losing touch with each other as she did her big OE, when we re met it was as if no time at all had past. That's the true sign of a great and life long friend. I met Kym and Mary when I was only about 18 years old through Michele who had met them through a flatmate of hers. Many a great and memorable party was had at their place in School Rd, Morningside and (other than Michele), they really mark the beginning of my adult years. Kym's extension of his arm is his camera and he has always been able to see life through it's lens in an incredibly unique way. His archives of life must now be phenomenal as even when I knew him, we used to spend hours looking through his many many photo albums. I would love to one day see the photos of that time of my life and remember how things really were and maybe re live a little of it. That's the beauty of photographs! 

Kym now lives in Melbourne and we were lucky enough to score a bit of his time to catch up properly over some Margaritas, nibbles and of course home baking (is there ever any occasion where home baking isn't a requirement?). It was a lovely few hours spent with old friends remembering the good old days and talking of the present too. I whipped up my delicious lemon shortcake which is an absolute favourite and these Short Black Cupcakes from Donna Hay. I'm not sure if I would make the icing this way again but I was still glad to make something a little different even if I didn't love it. I'll give you the recipe though and you can choose for yourself. The cupcakes themselves were delicious and very very easy to make so I'll do those again.

Short Black Cupcakes

125 g butter, softened
3/4 c caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 c self raising flour
3 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 c milk
100 g dark chocolate, melted and cooled to almost room temperature

Preheat the oven to 160 C (140C fan bake). Line muffins tins (the recipe uses mini muffin tins which must give it the 'short black' name but I used normal tins and got about 15 cupcakes).

Cream the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each one. Sift over the flour and cocoa and mix well. Fold through the milk and stir through the chocolate. Spoon into the tins.

Bake about 20 mins for the normal sized tins (or about 10 mins for the mini ones)

Coffee Icing
1 c caster sugar
1/4 c water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 Tbsp instant coffee
3 egg whites

Place the sugar, water, cream of tartar and coffee into a pot. Stir over a high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Place the egg whites into a bowl and beat until soft peaks form. With the motor running slowly pour in the syrup and beat until thick and glossy. Spread over the cupcakes and grate over some dark chocolate. Enjoy with old friends.

Michele (aka Moishy) and Kym

The lovely Mary

Harry and Kym...Harry was lucky enough to score these Batman glasses from Kym 

Me, Kym and Moish

Moish, Me, Kym and Mary

Kym, Me and Dons

Kym doing what his life long passion of photography

Archie wanting in on the action...check out that bottom jaw!

And finally the most beautiful and divine Holly (Michele's little baby girl)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Chocolate Mocha Pots with Cinnamon Shortbread

The little jars are the Gu dessert get to buy a dessert AND keep the jar!

The other night we went out for dinner to a friends house and I, of course, offered to take dessert. After trawling through multiple recipe books, blogs and cooking magazines and getting totally overwhelmed by the shear volume of recipes (my own fault I know), I finally settled on two. The first was the Hazelnut Pavlova Gateau Cake from Julie Le Clerc's newish book and this was the second one. I forgot to take photos of the the Hazelnut one which is ok as I don't think it was really my sort of thing so I probably wouldn't have posted it on here anyway. It did look lovely though.....

This was the second choice and the recipe comes from Peter Gordon's new cookbook called 'Everyday' While I don't normally go for his style of food this book is lovely and a little less 'fusion' than his other ones. This recipe is very very rich so if your aren't a diehard chocolate lover I wouldn't go for this. The cinnamon shortbread are pretty good too and are baked as a whole then sliced afterwards. I have never made shortbread this way before but I have to say it does give you nice clean cut lines. Next time, though I would cut the cinnamon down to maybe 1 tsp as I found it a bit strong. Oh and by the way all the liquid ingredients are weighed rather than measured because he says it makes it more accurate.

Chocolate Mocha Pots with Cinnamon Shortbread

280 g milk
250 g cream
2 tsp espresso ground coffee (the grains not the made espresso), or instant coffee
100 g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
200 g dark chocolate roughly chopped

Place the milk, cream, coffee and 50g caster sugar into a pot and slowly bring to a simmer stirring frequently. Turn the heat off, cover with a lid and leave to infuse for 10 mins.

Take the lid off and slowly bring back to the boil stirring as you do.

Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 50g caster sugar. When the milk has come back to heat, whisk about a 1/3 of it into the eggs, then pour it back into the pan with the rest of the cream mixture.

Stir over a moderate heat until the custard coats the back of a spoon (takes 2-4 mins). Take off the heat and whisk in the chocolate until it's incorporated, then pour through a fine sieve a couple of times to remove the coffee grounds (if this is what you have used). Pour into glasses or ramekins and put in the fridge for about 4 hours.

Serve with some lightly whipped cream on top and the shortbread.

Cinnamon Shortbread

250 g unsalted butter at room temperature
160 g caster sugar
250 g flour
130 g cornflour
2 tsp ground cinnamon (I think 1 tsp would be enough)
1 pinch salt

Preheat oven to 170C and line a tray with baking paper.

Cream butter and sugar. Sift together the flour, cornflour, cinnamon and salt and mix gently into the creamed mixture.

Pat out on the tray with your hands or a rolling pin until you get a rectangle about 1 cm thick. Cut with a sharp knife into squares or bars.

Bake 20-25 mins until golden then cut them again where you have already cut. cool on the tray for 5 mins then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.