Archives for the month of: July, 2013

Lemon meringue pie

Finding the time to cook, bake and blog is difficult at the moment, as besides work I’ve also started rehearsals three times a week for a local musical which will be on in a few months. So things are busy at the moment, but it is a good busy and I’m so happy to be singing and rehearsing for a show again, after over a year off the stage.

I did however find time to give the Week 2 Great Australian Bake Off technical challenge a go. Lemon Meringue Pie is one of my favourites, but also one of the desserts I am often most disappointed in when I buy them at restaurants or bakeries as I usually find them too sweet with not enough of the tart lemon flavour, so I was interested to give this recipe a try.

I have to admit that in my rush, I didn’t read the recipe correctly and started making the curd filling in a completely different way to the suggested method. However, it still worked and the end result was a set curd filling. So the method here is what I did, not what was recommended in the original recipe (which you can find here). I also had to add extra lemon zest to increase the citrus flavour and even then the filling was a bit too sweet for me.

I managed to complete the dessert in less than 2 hours (which I think is the time the contestants had). If you have more time, I would suggest letting the pastry chill longer before baking in the oven, as I found it shrank back a lot with only a 5 minute resting time.

I’m looking forward to the next technical challenge – brandy snaps. I’ve always meant to give them a try but have just never gotten around to it.

Click here for the recipe

checkerboard cake

After months of waiting The Great Australian Bake Off (GABO) has finally made it to our screens and in celebration I have decided to attempt each week’s technical challenge to see how I go. For those of you not familiar with the format, each week contestants on the show have to bake in three separate challenges:

  1. The signature bake (their own tried and tested recipe)
  2. The technical challenge where all contestants are given the same recipe (with limited detail) and ingredients
  3. And finally the show stopper, where each week they are asked to create something creative with wow factor. 

One of the things I love about this show is that for two of the challenges, the contestants get to work off their own recipe which they know and have been able to practise. It is so important in baking to get the measurements/ratios right that it has always amazed me that people in other reality TV cooking shows can bake all manner of things from memory. I know that, even though I’ll often change things and add my own flair, in baking I still always start by looking at the recipe!

The technical challenge for week one was a chocolate and orange checkerboard cake and I just had to make it for my Dad’s birthday. The cake recipes themselves seemed quite easy, however my first hurdle was that I didn’t have the right sized tins (four 18 cm tins were required for this recipe). I managed to find one tin in a little homewares store down the road; however this meant that I had to cook four cakes separately rather than all at once. There was certainly no way I was going to be able to make this in the two hours the contestants had!

If you have the time, I would suggest making the cakes the day (or at least the morning) before you want to assemble them to allow them time to cool in the fridge (or freezer). They are much easier to cut and assemble cold (the first cake I made was a lot easier than the last, which was still slightly warm). I only made three rather than four levels as I had to transport it the next day (although you still need to make four cakes to get the desired pattern). And I also felt that the three levels was more than enough. This cake certainly has wow factor when you cut into it. I have to admit I was very excited when my Dad sliced the first piece and we could all see the checkerboard pattern inside!

I have to confess that, at the request of my Mum, I used my usual ganache recipe rather than the GABO recipe.  . I also found I needed to use extra orange zest to get the level of flavour I was wanting. It is quite a rich cake and I would definitely recommend serving it with cream or icecream. But on the whole I have to say that my first technical challenge was a great success.  On to the week 2 challenge!

Click here for the recipe

 

Carcassone

Carcassone

First off my apologies to my regular followers for my absence. I recently returned from a two week trip to France (to visit Jerome’s family) and though I thought I had been so organised by preparing posts to go up while I was away, I hadn’t counted on getting sick when I got home. Between jetlag, heading back to work and succumbing to one of the winter bugs that have been doing the rounds, I didn’t get around to cooking or writing for my blog.

I’m back and recovered now, and ready to get cooking again (after tomorrow’s rent inspection that is). Just in time for The Great Australian Bake Off tonight, which I have been looking forward to for months. I hoping to try to replicate some of the dishes they bake in the weeks to come so if you like baking look out for that.

But for now, I thought I’d share some of the food highlights from my trip to France. The first was a highlight of the whole trip and was a private cooking class with Chef Jean-Pascal Vallee at his cooking school/holiday retreat and spa Domaine du Lac de Sorin. The location (in the Vendee region) was beautiful and if you are ever looking for somewhere to stay, the cabins looked gorgeous. But I was just there for a cooking class; with Jerome to translate (the classes are held in French).

Kitchen where class was held

Kitchen where class was held

Click here to read more

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