Saturday, 29 November 2008

November 2008 Daring Baker's Challenge

Unfortunately, due to time constraints with uni and so forth, I have not been able to participate in the last two Daring Baker's challenges. This month, however, with uni finished, I eagerly participated in the event. This month's challnge was hosted by Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo), Jenny of Foray into Food and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go and comes from a recipe by Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater for Caramel Cake with Caramelised butter frosting. I for one, loved this cake, especially the frosting. Thanks for the wonderful challenge guys- I sure enjoyed every last mouthful of it and so did my brother and sister in law for whom I made the cake. To view all the other wonderful Daring Bakers' challenges, go to the blogroll. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

August 2008 Daring Baker's challenge

This month our assigned task was to create Chocolate Eclairs by Pierre Herme from the book Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé, by Dorie Greenspoon. I don't actualy like chocolate myself, but i bake with it anyway because everyone else likes it and I don't feel at all inclined to make a pig of myself. Everyone seemed to enjoy them, although I was dissapointed with the choux pastry- it didn't turn out as well as other recipes I had used previously. Another problem Iencountered was the addition of extra butter to the chocolate glaze. Chocolate has so much oil as it is and some of the oil seperated in the glaze. It was just as well I had extra sauce to cover it up, as it was rather unsightly.

Anyway, they were enjoyed by all and thanks goes to Meeta of What's for Lunch and Tony of Olive Juice for the challenge. If youd like to see the other wonderful daring baker's challnges, go to the blogroll.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

May 2008 Daring bakers challenge

Firstly, I must apologise for the lateness of this post. The truth is I had made the cake on time, but with all these assignments and exams I've had lately, I forgot to post it on the posting date. So, this month we had to make an opera cake, which is a cake with layers of jaconde, syrup, buttercream, mousse and glaze. Usually these cakes are made with coffee and choc flavours, but seeing as it is spring time in the us, Lisa and Ivonne, decided to opt for light colours to reflect the season. It ain't spring here though! But the light colours made me feel as though it were.

I flavoured my buttercream and syrup with rosewater, which gave it a nice turkish delight flavour. I then added some amaretto to the white choc mousse, which did little to overtake the strength of the white choc and I left the white choc glaze perfectly plain.

I was happy with the way the cake turned out, although if I did it another time I think I would take the time to trim the layers of jaconde cake more evenly. I recommend you remove the cake from the fridge a good hour before serving, as fridge-cold butter-cream is a great disappointment.

Thanks to Lisa and Ivonne for the challenge. To visit other people's blogs and see their creations visit the daring baker's blogroll

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Homemade Crumpets

Thursday mornings are my sleep in mornings, because I don't have to start uni until 1. So, this morning I woke up and decided that I would have a go at making some crumpets. I had never had homemade crumpets before, in fact I'd never seen them before. I have never been a huge fan of crumpets, because the supermarket ones are pretty awful. Let me tell you, these are nothing of the sort. Soft and fluffy, moorish and just altogether fantastic. You must all try them! You'll never want a storebought crumpet again. Try them and you'll see why. For recipe visit the BBC food website.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Apfelstrudel- More apples to use

Yesterday, having an enormous quantity of cooking apples on hand, I decided to challenge myself with an Apfelstrudel . The thing is, it really wasn't that much of a challenge. I have rarely heard of people making strudel dough from scratch, instead opting for store bought filo pastry. But now that I have made strudel dough from scratch, I wonder why on earth I hadn't made it before. Admittedly it must be rolled out very thinly- thin enough for you to see your hand through the sheet of pastry- but it isn't hard. I found the recipe from I wouldn't pay attention to the time and temp indication, if I were you, because mine was a little more browned than I would have liked and I had in fact set the oven at a significantly lower temperature than indicated and left it in for only about 40 mins. Here is the recipe and some photos. Do check out the site though; they have some other great austrian fare there too.


300 grams bread flour
pinch of salt
30 ml vegetable oil
0,2 l water (lukewarm)
2 kg apples (Golden Delicious)
150 grams granulated sugar
30ml dark rum
150 grams raisins
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 lemons (juice and peel)
Buttered breadcrumbs
300 grams butter (unsalted)
300 grams bread crumbs
RecipeKnead flour, salt, oil and water into a medium-firm dough. Divide into 3 small round loaves, brush each loaf with melted butter and let sit for 1 hour. Peel, core and slice apples. Mix in granulated sugar, raisins, grated lemon peel, lemon juice, rum, cinnamon.Roast butter and bread crumbs.Roll the dough loaves with a rolling pin, then stretch rolled dough on a strudel sheet with the backs of your hands. Coat 2/3 of dough sheet with buttered breadcrumbs, spread apple filling over remaining 1/3 of dough. Tear off edges, shape strudel into roll by lifting strudel sheet. Place strudel on a buttered baking sheet and brush with melted butter.Bake strudel for 60 to 90 minutes in a 400 degrees F to 425 degrees F (200 to 220 degrees Celsius) oven.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

I saw Nigella Lawson- Yay!

Oh, I just have to share this with you all. I was so excited two days ago, because I met Nigella Lawson. I am a huge fan- she is my no. 1 cooking idol and she was in Sydney signing at the ABC store in the Queen Victoria building. She signed two boks for me, and she said a few words extra to me than all the other hundreds of people there, because I bought a beautifully wrapped box of handmade chocs.

I hope she appreciated them- I like to imagine her sneaking into the bar fridge of her hotel room in the wee hours of the morning to indulge on one or two of the treats that I gave her. May she always remember the girl with the chocolate box at the Queen Victoria Building.

Monday, 31 March 2008

March Daring Baker's Challenge- Dorie's Perfect Party cake

This month Morven challenged us to create a PERFECT PARTY CAKE Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours. I am sorry to say that I could not find any link to our host's own page, but you should all visit the daring bakers blog roll and check out everyone else's gorgeous cakes, becasue it is a great recipe. I decided to fill my cake with home made lemon curd, which I am so glad I did, because the lemon buttercream alone wouldn't have been lemony enough.
The cakes weren't as high as I would have imagined, but I think that that was in fact a good thing, as by the time the 4 layers were filled an iced, it became a rather large cake indeed. Any higher and it might have slanted like the Tower of Pisa.
Here are some photos documenting my journey of creating the cake and the recipe. Enjoy!

PERFECT PARTY CAKE Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours (page 250).Posting date Sunday 30 March.IMPORTANT NOTICE - RECIPE EDITED MARCH 10TH (sorry I'm still a bit of a blogger "dummy" so don't know how to highlight in red). For those of you who don't read all the comments or don't have Dorie's book, there were a couple of omissions which some diligent Daring Bakers picked up. If these contributed to a "floppity flops" - my sincere apologies. Please note the changes in bold below - one is the reference to a 1/4 cup of lemon juice and the second is in relation to whisking together the egg whites and milk in the 2nd line of making the cake. I've also expanded on the Update on Playing Around. Introduction from MorvenI wanted to pick something that had potential for putting your personal stamp on. Although this is essentially a white cake I know there are some lemon haters among us so feel free to use your imagination. If you inner chef tells you that you need to make a chocolate layer cake then by all means do so. See Dorie’s words on playing around below for some flavour combination ideas.Update on playing around. Yes you can do what ever you want with this cake as long as you promise to use the basic cake recipe and the basic buttercream recipe (if you are doing the buttercream that is) . The filling/frosting flavours are completely up to you. If you don't feel like using Dorie's buttercream recipe (flavoured as you wish) she says whipped cream will do for the filling and finishing and I say... go for it. If you want to use fondant or something else - it's your cake. Bake a square one, a heart shaped one or any other shape you like but please make it a layer cake.I can't wait to see what combinations people come up with. You can leave out the lemon, put different flavours of preserves in the middle, leave off the coconut - have some fun with it.Words from DorieStick a bright-coloured Post-it to this page, so you’ll always know where to turn for a just-right cake for any celebration. The original recipe was given to me by my great dear friend Nick Malgieri, of baking fame, and since getting it, I’ve found endless opportunities to make it – you will too. The cake is snow white, with an elegant tight crumb and an easygoing nature: it always bakes up perfectly; it is delicate on the tongue but sturdy in the kitchen – no fussing when it comes to slicing the layers in half or cutting tall, beautiful wedges for serving; and, it tastes just as you’d want a party cake to taste – special. The base recipe is for a cake flavoured with lemon, layered with a little raspberry jam and filled and frosted with a classic (and so simple) pure white lemony hot-meringue buttercream but, because the elements are so fundamental, they lend themselves to variation (see Playing Around), making the cake not just perfect, but also versatile.For the Cake2 1/4 cups cake flour (updated 25 March)1 tablespoon baking powder½ teaspoon salt1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)4 large egg whites1 ½ cups sugar2 teaspoons grated lemon zest1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature½ teaspoon pure lemon extractFor the Buttercream1 cup sugar4 large egg whites3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)1 teaspoon pure vanilla extractFor Finishing2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadableAbout 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconutGetting ReadyCentre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.To Make the CakeSift together the flour, baking powder and salt.Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out cleanTransfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).To Make the ButtercreamPut the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.Remove the bowl from the heat.Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.To Assemble the CakeUsing a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.Spread it with one third of the preserves.Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.ServingThe cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.StoringThe cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.Playing AroundSince lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.Fresh Berry CakeIf you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries. You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

February challenge- French Bread

This month the wonderful Mary (Breadchick) and Sara choose a recipe for French Bread, or Pain Francais, From Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume Two by Julia Child and Simone Beck. I am sorry to be a little late in posting- I've had a hectic weekend so far with baby showers and various other things to cook for. I made beautiful fruit tarts actually- they were just exquisite and I am so cross I didn't take photos to post on my blog.

I really liked this recipe. It did take an awfully long time, but it was mostly just waiting time. If it is a rainy day and you've no where to go, I would definetely recommend you make this.

I kneaded the dough by hand, which wasn't at all painful. Besides, I find it a much more rewarding experience than machine kneading. I couldn't find the camera until the bread just came out of the oven, hence there are no photos of the kneading and rising and baking etc. I do however, hope that you enjoy these few photos that i took of the final result. A must try recipe for the baking enthusiast. Thanks Mary and Sara

Monday, 28 January 2008

January challenge- Lemon meringue pie

I feel so terrible that I haven't posted anything up on my blog since the last challenge. It isn't that there hasn't been any baking, just no documenting and no time. Anyway, this month we were hosted by the wonderful Jen, aka Canadian Baker, and the challenge for the month was a Lemon meringue pie from Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver, 2002. It was quite a straight forward recipe, athough it did take a while, but that was mostly cooling time. Everybody in my family were very happy with the results. I only had a bite,because I am on a diet after christmas, but it tasted wonderful: nice and lemony. I am sure it will be a welcome dish at any occasion in my house. So, here is the recipe, and if you have time, do visit the wonderful blogs of my fellow daring bakers, and be sure to visit the host's page Canadian baker.

Thanks Jen for the great recipe. Here are some photos of my venture.

Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie
For the Crust:
¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
⅓ cup (80 mL) ice water
For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
¼ cup (60 mL) butter
¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar
For the Crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.
Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.
For the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.
Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.
For the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.