Archives for the month of: May, 2013

Lemon curd

If you have read any of my past posts, you will know that I love anything citrus based. Tart desserts are my favourite and I will always go for a citrus or berry dessert, rather than chocolate. I think my love of all things tart must come from my Nanna. I remember hearing tales of how, when she was a young girl,  she would get sent to the shop with the vinegar bottle to fill it up, and by the time she was home it was half empty because she had been drinking it on the way home!

So it will come as no surprise that lemon curd (or lemon butter) is a favourite of mine. Unfortunately, I find almost all of the lemon curd you can buy in shops tastes overly sweet and artificial, and doesn’t have that lovely tartness that I expect in lemon curd. So it is something that I much prefer to make myself. And with this recipe, it is easy to make at home.

I discovered this recipe a few years back when making Gary Mehigan’s Lemon Curd Mousse with Gingernut Crumble (a great dessert that I will have to make and post soon). This lemon curd  is actually made in the microwave (although you could do it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water if you prefer, however you need to stir it constantly if you cook it this way). It is a much quicker and easier than other recipes I have tried, and doesn’t need the constant stirring of the usual method. The end result is the best lemon curd I have ever made, beautifully tart with a wonderful creamy, glossy texture. The other thing I like about this recipe is that it specifies the volume of lemon juice you need. The amount of juice in lemons can vary so much, that I prefer having the volume specified in a recipe such as this where you are relying on the lemon as your main flavour. When I have tried other recipes, I  found I had to keep adding more, trying as I went, to get the right tart lemon flavour (not something I encourage you to do with raw eggs!). This recipe removes the trial and error  and I get the same result each time I make it.

Of course, if you prefer your lemon curd a bit sweeter, just add more sugar. That is the joy of making your own, you can make it just the way you like it.

Lemon curd

Click here for the recipe

Rhubarb berry lattice

Week 3 of the 6 week pastry making class I have been attending was all about chocolate pastry. We learnt how to make a chocolate pastry which was cooked and then filled with ganache. The pastry was the same recipe as the sweet pastry we learnt in week two, but with the addition of 40g cocoa in place of some of the flour.

I haven’t made these again since the class as it is just too much chocolate for me (I know, I’m strange). However the recipe for the sweet pastry (including the note on how to make it chocolate) is here and I have previously posted a recipe for chocolate ganache here.

Sorry about the photo

Sorry about the photo

Last week we made apple and berry lattice tarts which was something I was really looking forward to (I love anything with berries in it). This tart uses a very short pastry that is equal parts flour to butter. It can be used for either sweet or savoury baking and for this tart the filling and pastry are cooked at the same time. The basic filling recipe can be adapted with many different combinations of fruits, with our teacher Sarah Brigden (from babyCakes) recommending rhubarb and raspberry . I didn’t  really eat rhubarb growing up (my Dad doesn’t like it). However it is now one of my favourite fruits to use in desserts (along with citrus and berries) due to its tartness. So I had to give it a try.

The rhubarb filling is wetter when it cooks than the apple filling, so it seems to take a bit longer to cook the pastry as a result. The end result though is delicious. The tart, tangy sweetness of the rhubarb and raspberry contrast the rich buttery pastry perfectly. I would definitely recommend giving this one a go. The pastry is a bit trickier to work with than the other sweet pastry we learnt in week 2, so I wouldn’t recommend it for a first attempt at pastry. But if you give it a little time to rest in the fridge, and return it to the fridge when it gets too warm, it is easier to work with.

I have found that with practicing at home outside of class, I am getting a lot better and quicker at handling pastry. Also, with all the classes I have attended over the last year, I have found that if I try and replicate the recipes fairly soon after attending the class, I remember the specific techniques and tricks a lot better.

Click here for the recipe

Orange and almond cake

This week has been a very busy week, and I woke up this morning feeling like I was starting to come down with a cold. After a quiet morning, resting to try and keep the cold at bay, I felt the need to bake something. And oranges are good when you have a cold, right?

Browsing through some new magazines, I came across this recipe for a gluten-free orange and almond cake. I’ve wanted to cook one of these cakes for quite some time. Usually, they involve cooking a couple of oranges whole in water for 1-2 hours before blitzing them for the cake (seeds and all). This recipe interested me as you cut up the oranges, removed the seeds and cook them for only 30 minutes , so I decided to give it a go.

If you have a stand mixer and food processor, this is an easy recipe to prepare. The result is a beautiful moist cake. Serve it hot with some orange syrup and ice-cream for a dessert, or cold as a nice cake for afternoon tea. If you want to add more moisture or sweetness, drizzle it with orange syrup when it is out of the oven.

Orange and almond cake

Click here for the recipe

I have been looking forward to the Australian version of the Great British Bake Off ever since I heard it was being filmed. However I am starting to wonder if, when they advertised that it would air after Easter, they meant Easter 2014!

While waiting, I have been revisiting the original British version and discovering the blogs of some of the past contestants. One of the things I have wanted to try for some time are Mary-Anne’s (Season 2) apple rose tarts. I found Mary-Anne one of the most interesting contestants on The Great British Bake off, with her recipes utilising unique techniques based on a lot of research and historical recipes (and a collection of over 900 cookbooks, which puts my 200 to shame). I thought these tarts were beautiful so I decided to try the apple rose component today while I was making a batch of Lemon Tarts from my second pastry making course (with Sarah Brigden from babyCakes).

Lemon tart

Lemon tarts

I won’t repeat the instructions here, as they are already provided so well by Mary-Anne on her site Time To Cook – Online. As I just wanted to try the roses today, I made the sweet pastry that I learnt in class, and a crème patisserie recipe that I had previously learnt from Sarah (which I will post in a few weeks). I followed Mary-Anne’s instructions to make the apple roses (although without returning them to the oven to bake). Although they are a little fiddly, they are very effective and I’m sure they get a bit easier with practice. I quite liked the freshness of the apple after poaching them in the apple syrup and not baking them further.

As long as you chill the pastry well before rolling it, I think this pastry is quite easy to work with. I like adding some orange or lemon zest to the pastry for an extra citrus hit. The citrus filling is beautifully creamy and tangy and I certainly recommend giving these a try. And the apple rose tarts look beautiful and very effective, and are not too difficult to achieve. Next time I will give Mary-Anne’s apple custard filling a go as well and bake the apple roses.

apple roses

Click here for the recipe

The last book I bought before my self imposed ban on buying a new cookbook until I had cooked (and posted) something from 5 of the books I own was Rena Patten’s Cooking With Quinoa: the Supergrain. I like quinoa  but had only used it in a few dishes, so I wanted to learn more ways to use it

I liked the sound of this recipe, as it was fresh and light, used ingredients that I already had and sounded delicious and filling. I also thought it would be great the next day for lunch. It was quite time consuming grilling the vegetables, as I only have a small grill pan. I think next time I’ll cook them on the bbq. But the result was flavourful and filling, with the chilli adding a hint of heat, freshness from the basil and zucchini, saltiness from the pancetta and the wonderful earthy mushrooms and nutty quinoa. For a vegetarian option, just leave out the pancetta. It was great the next day cold as well. Yum.

pancetta, mushroom and zucchini salad

Book recipe number: 3

Number of cookbooks owned: 198+

New book credit: 0.6 (2 more to go before I am allowed to buy another cookbook)

Click here for the recipe

Lion cake topper

A few weeks ago, I took my mum to another class at Wild Sugar Rose as an early birthday present. This was another modelling class, and we all learnt how to make a fairy princess to decorate a small cake or cupcake.

Cupcake with crown

I have found from the classes I have been to that I really enjoy the modelling work the most, particularly modelling animals. I think you can get a bit more character into the animal models than the human ones, particularly as a beginner (I have seen some incredibly amazing figures from experienced and talented cake artists). It is also really nice to go to the classes with my Mum, and reminds me of when we used to go to porcelain doll making classes together.

Fairy princess

Click here to read more

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