Archives for posts with tag: baking

Date slice 2

While I was still pregnant I was browsing Facebook and one post caught my attention. It was a comment about a past tradition catching up with their Mum each week with a date slice that was missed since they had moved to another state. Finally finding the date slice in their new home had brought back memories of these catch-ups. It got me thinking about how  certain foods are more than just something we eat. They can evoke feelings and memories in us.

This left me craving date slice, so I went looking for a recipe to make some. Dates seem to be one of those ingredients that people either love or hate, I am definitely in the love category. They are very sweet however and I can only eat a small amount.

This slice is quite easy to make and as long as you like dates, it’s pretty tasty. If I make it again I might try putting some citrus zest in with the dates and/or some spices in the base/crumble mix for something different, but it was delicious as is and satisfied my craving.

Click here for the recipe

Sausage rolls 4It is hard to believe that almost nine months have passed since I discovered I was pregnant, yet here I am counting down the days until I welcome my first child to the world. Despite the pregnancy symptoms and constant fatigue, time really has flown by surprisingly quickly.

Part of the reason for that is that I did over commit myself during my pregnancy (first timer mistake). Before I found out I was pregnant, I had applied for an online postgrad university course which I was accepted into and decided to start the first unit in my second trimester. So during my second and most of my third trimester, not only was I working full time while pregnant, I was also studying at home. To say I found it difficult (writing reports all day at work then coming home to uni reading and writing assignments) would be an understatement. But I have finished my first unit (with pretty good grades on all my assessments) and have finally slowed down to prepare for my new life as a mum (besides all the appointments that seem to fill up the week).

Part of my preparation has included filling up the freezer with lots of ready cooked (or ready to be cooked) meals. I think winter is a great time to be in the later stages of pregnancy. Besides not melting in the Australian heat, it is quite mild but also a great time for soups, casseroles and oven baked foods that freeze really well. Some of the recipes I have made have been some old favourites, but I have also tried some new ones so there will be a few new posts to follow with those recipes.

But first here is the recipe for some very tasty sausage rolls that were made for me for my baby shower. They were so good I begged the recipe off my friends and made a batch for last night’s dinner (with half the batch going into the freezer and the rest as leftovers for today). I would have liked trying to freeze half of the batch before cooking, then defrosting and cooking later, however as I was using lamb mince that had already been frozen, I couldn’t do this. I may try this another time and will update the post then.

If you don’t like mint, this isn’t the recipe for you, but mint is one of my favourite herbs and I really like the combination of flavours in this recipe, something a little bit different from your usual sausage roll. However you could try replacing the mint and mint jelly with another herb and chutney or jelly. That is the great thing about recipes, you can experiment and adapt to your own taste.

Click here for the recipe

Steamed Cheesecake 2I’m back! Sorry for the prolonged absence, but I do have a good reason, I promise! I am pregnant with my first child which is just wonderful. Unfortunately along with the pregnancy came severe “morning sickness”. I have to say that whoever named it “morning sickness” is just cruel, as for me it was months of 24 hour sickness where I struggled to eat anything, let alone cook, think or write about food.

Although not completely gone, I am feeling a lot better and am able to finally cook and think about food again, so it’s time to get back to blogging, starting with the last cooking class I went to.

In November last year, I attended the Café Style Cakes cooking class at Sweet Artist Academy that I had booked before I was pregnant. I had organised the timing of the class so that I could then take the cakes in to work for morning tea for my birthday. Seeing as I was in the early stages of my pregnancy and trying not to tell anyone, and everyone in my team knew I had booked the class to provide for my birthday morning tea, I still went to the class. I have to say it was a struggle, but Patrick was a great help when the smell and nausea got too much for me (I told a little white lie and said I had eaten something the night before that made me feel sick). I did do most of the cooking and decorating myself, however Patrick helped me cover the mud cake with ganache as well as get the cakes out of their tins etc. Thank you Patrick!  Click here to read more

croissants and briochedanishes boxIndividual cakes 2

After such a successful and enjoyable first class with Patrick Vuaillat at Sweet Artist Academy in June I couldn’t resist enrolling in a couple more classes once my musical had finished (to read more about my first class and some background on the Academy, click here).

First up was Individual Cakes – 2. My first class at Sweet Artist Academy was the individual cakes class, however Patrick has since introduced new recipes in the class (the summer range) and after seeing photos of the new cakes, I was hooked. There was no repetition of what we were taught in the first class, everything was new and I learnt a lot of new recipes/techniques.

The individual cakes class is the most technical cooking class Patrick runs. You make a number of separate components for the cakes in the morning, and then finish the components and assemble the cakes in the afternoon. Although a technical class, it is achievable for home bakers (we had one complete beginner in our class). Patrick provides great support and help throughout; making sure everyone has completed each step before moving onto the next one. The cakes you go home with at the end of the day are amazing. I was certainly ready for a nap by the time I got home though!  Click here for more

Individual cakes class

I am very glad that it is a long weekend here in Western Australia. Some weekends are just so full of activities that I often feel like I need an extra day to just be at home, do all the chores around the house and recover from my weekend. This weekend has certainly been like that, although it has been very enjoyable.

In addition to a rehearsal on Sunday for a local musical I will be playing a lead role in that will be on in July, on Saturday I attended an all day class at the Sweet Artist Academy – Patisserie Training Centre in Joondalup Western Australia. It was my first time at Sweet Artist Academy, and I will certainly be going back again.

The Sweet Artist Academy is run by Patrick Vuaillat with a number of one day courses available on weekdays or weekends including chocolate work, sugar work, pastries, cakes, bread, cake decorating, macarons and even more. Patrick, originally from France and with over 35 years in the pastry industry, started an apprenticeship in pastry at the age of 15 and has worked as a pastry chef all over the world before falling in love with Perth and starting his on patisserie which he ran for 16 years before setting up the Sweet Artist Academy. Loving baking and patisserie as I do, I was thrilled to find someone with so much experience offering classes in Perth and was really looking forward to my class. Click here for more

Banana and raspberry loaf As much as I love trying out new recipes, there are always times when I prefer to bake some of my old favourites. Especially if I’ve offered to bring dessert or cakes/baked goods to an event or a friends house. I want to know that I am making something that works and tastes great. This has seen me revisit a lot of my old favourites over the past few weeks including my citrus coconut cupcakes, chocolate and raspberry fudge brownies and raspberry crumble slice, meaning I haven’t had much new to blog about.

However, my freezer was starting to fill up with overripe bananas again. Never throw out an overripe banana. Place them straight in the freezer and they will be ready to use later in baking. They go black on the outside when frozen but inside they are still great to use for baking once defrosted. That way you always have very ripe bananas, perfect for baking, ready whenever you want to use them.

With that in mind, I was browsing through some Coles magazines on my iPad and noticed this recipe for banana, raspberry and macadamia bread. I’m loving having most of my cooking magazines on my new iPad. Most of them let me bookmark favourites to try and some like the Coles one (which is also free) let me email them to friends etc. The subscriptions are a lot cheaper than the print version and they don’t take up any space at home. I still much prefer to have actual hard copy cookbooks rather than digital versions on an ebook or tablet, but find the tablet perfect for magazines.

I was sure I had macadamias at home; however once I started the mix I discovered I didn’t so I just left them out (this is why I usually measure everything out before I start cooking, so I don’t get halfway through and discover a missing ingredient!). The result was still great, although the macadamias would add more texture. This is a really easy recipe to make and the end result is wonderfully moist, lightly spiced cake. A great breakfast or tea time treat! Click here for the recipe

choc orange tart

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m not that fond of chocolate (strange I know). I will always bypass a chocolate dessert for something made from citrus or berries. If I am going to eat (or bake) something with chocolate, I need something added to it to cut through the richness of the chocolate.

When I saw the cover recipe of the March BBC Good Food magazine, with the classic combination of chocolate and orange, I knew it was something I wanted to try. And with a house warming to go to this weekend, it was the recipe for me.

The recipe in the magazine used store bought sweet crust pastry, with cocoa added to it in a food processor to make a chocolate pastry. I decided I had to make the chocolate pastry from scratch. Not the best plan when you only have a few hours to make the whole tart at the end of the week and the house/kitchen is boiling hot (it is a warm summer here in Perth). But I persevered. If you can give the pastry a couple of hours in the fridge it is much easier to work with and you can roll it a bit thinner. I had to make it a bit thicker as it wasn’t quite cool enough when I rolled it…but the end result was still good. I also wanted to make small individual tarts as I thought that would be easier at a house warming than a large one that needed to be cut.

The filling for these is almost like a cross between a curd and a custard. Don’t take your eyes off it when it is on the stove. I went to check the pastry and it started boiling and almost curdled. Thankfully it still worked and the end result was a good combination of the rich chocolate from the ganache drizzle and pastry, and the sweet tartness of the oranges. I used my favourite ganache recipe instead of the one in the magazine which had the addition of golden syrup as I thought this would be too sweet. The recipe below has more ganache than you’ll need to drizzle on top of the tarts. However I had extra pastry so I made more tart shells and filled the rest with the ganache for rich chocolate tarts with a hint of orange in the pastry and ganache.

choc orange ganache tarts

Click here for the recipe

IMG_3933

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. I wish I could actually give you all one of these cookies, they are delicious! I first saw the recipe the other week in the December (Christmas) issue of the BBC Good Food Magazine, which is the current issue here in Australia (we are always a few months behind in getting them). I always find new recipes I want to try in this magazine and I have just this week subscribed to the digital version of the magazine, so from now on I won’t have to wait months for the magazine to arrive in Australia.

The magazine included a section on Christmas baking traditions from around the world, including the German Christmas cookie the Zimtsterne. As soon as I read the recipe I knew I had to make the cookies, but I couldn’t wait for Christmas 2014! So instead I decided to use the recipe to make some heart shaped cookies for Valentine’s Day.

The flavours are amazing. The ginger, cinnamon and lemon go so well together and the biscuit has a lovely nutty, spicy flavour without being overpowering, with the lemon providing some freshness. These are a chewy cookie, with the outside developing a delicate macaron like crispness and that are completely different to gingerbread biscuits. I certainly plan to make them for Christmas every year from now on! They also have the added bonus of being gluten free so they make a great alternative to gingerbread for anyone who can’t eat gluten. I shared the biscuits around at work and I think it was one of the most positive responses I’ve ever had. They were very popular. So if you are looking for a different cookie recipe to try, or maybe something different for next Christmas, I recommend giving these a go.

IMG_3941

Cinnamon, ginger and lemon cookies (Zimtsterne)

Makes around 30 stars if you use a 5cm star cutter, approximately 18 hearts with a slightly larger heart shaped cutter

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites (I always use large/59g eggs)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 200g pure icing sugar – sifted plus extra for dusting
  • 250g almond meal/ground almonds
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 130C fan forced (150C). Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2. Place the two egg whites in a large clean bowl (not plastic) or the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk (using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer or an electric hand whisk) until it becomes foamy. Add the lemon juice at this stage and then whisk until the egg whites form soft peaks.

3. Once the egg whites have formed soft peaks, start adding the icing sugar in a spoon at a time until all the icing sugar has been added and the mixture is shiny and stiff.

4. Remove ¼ of the egg white/icing sugar mixture and keep in a separate bowl to use as the topping.

5. Add the almond meal, lemon zest, cinnamon and ginger to the rest of the egg white/icing sugar mix and mix to form a dough. It will be quite sticky.

6. The dough is best rolled out between baking paper as it is sticky. Place a sheet of baking paper on the bench. Dust a small amount of icing sugar onto the paper and place the dough on top of the paper. Dust the top of the dough lightly with icing sugar and then place another sheet of baking paper on top.dough

7. Roll out the dough to approximately 0.5cm in thickness. Peel off the top sheet of baking paper  and cut out to the shape of your choice and place on the baking tray. Repeat until you have used all the dough.ready to ice

8. Before baking, spread a small amount of the remaining egg white/icing sugar mix over the top of each cookie (either using the back of a small spoon or I used a small offset spatula). You may need to add a few drops of water to thin it out slightly if it is too stiff.

They got a bit neater with practice!

They got a bit neater with practice!

9. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes for the smaller stars. My cookies were a bit larger and took 15-20 minutes. You want to bake them until the icing on top has set but isn’t browning. Allow them to cool fully before storing in a sealed container. They will last for up to 2 weeks.

Adapted from BBC Good Food Magazine December 2013- Zimtsterne

Spiced hearts

Whisper cake 1

It is definitely summer here in Perth. We have recently experienced quite a few days above 40 degrees (celcius) and a lot of days in the high 30s. That isn’t the best weather to encourage baking and as a result the oven has been getting a bit of a rest.

One of the few things I have baked recently is this whisper cake. After the holiday period, I was looking for a treat that was a bit lighter and I found this recipe in the Australian Healthy Food Guide magazine. I’ve made it twice, once as a full sized ring cake, and once in my 12 cup mini bundt pan (which I’ve had for ages and had never used until now). The result both times was a delicious and moist cake. The flavours remind me of my favourite citrus (and coconut) cupcakes with raspberry frosting, but with a lot less fat/calories. This recipe is going into the favourites list! It is a very easy recipe, great for picnics and a lot easier to make in this heat than pastry from scratch, which was the other thing I baked recently for a picnic (mini quiches).

Whisper cake 2

Click here for the recipe

 lemon curd mousse

A belated happy New Year all. I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday season. I had a lovely Christmas with my family. Christmas really is one of my favourite times of the year. However, between all the Christmas cooking/baking, an old neck injury playing up again (ouch) and the fact that I was still working over the holiday period, I needed to take a holiday from something…so I took a couple of weeks off from my blog.

But my break is over and it is now time to get back to the baking and blogging, and what better recipe to start the year with than one of my all-time favourite desserts. I first tried this recipe from Gary Mehigan’s book Comfort Food a few years ago after meeting him and getting a signed copy of his book at a food show. This recipe includes my favourite lemon curd recipe that I often make on its own (it makes a great gift) and have written about previously. I’ve wanted to make the mousse for my blog for some time, but have been waiting for a reason to make it. I knew if I made it solely for the blog that I would end up eating too much of it myself! So when I was invited to a friend’s pre-Christmas dinner, I offered to bring dessert and knew it was time for this dish to make an appearance again. After all, the spicy gingernut crumble is reminiscent of ginger bread so that makes it Christmassy, right?

The gingernut crumble is quite easy to make, however you could always replace it with crushed bought ginger biscuits if you want to skip a step. The original recipe called for ground star anise, but I don’t like aniseed flavours so I have replaced it with mixed spice. Like most desserts I cook for dinner parties, this can be made ahead. The curd is best made at least the day before (or the morning) you want to use it so it has time to cool. The crumble can also be made a day or two ahead of serving. I have made the mousse up to a day before serving and it has still been great. It is always good to know you have dessert ready to go on the night with no stress.

This recipe is a cross between a mousse and a cheesecake. The tartness of the lemon cuts through the richness of the cream cheese and the sweetness from the condensed milk, with the crumble adding great spice and texture. It really is one of my favourite desserts.

Click here for the recipe

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