Archives for posts with tag: citrus

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

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 other day I was in the mood for baking something new, but not too complex. So I decided to make some friands. I pulled out my baking cookbooks to browse a few recipes for ideas (and method), and to my surprise there wasn’t a friand recipe in any of them.

So I jumped onto the internet and went straight to taste.com.au. A quick search later I had seven recipes to look through. I decided to try the lemon friand recipe (given my love for all baked things with citrus in them).

In writing this now, I stopped for a moment to think about why I keep buying cookbooks when there are so many recipes on the internet these days. I suppose the simple answer is I like looking through cookbooks, getting inspiration, new ideas and learning new things. I can find recipes, flavour combinations or cooking techniques I didn’t know existed. Whereas with the internet, I usually already know what I’m looking for, and am looking for different ideas and ways of doing things before I go off and try my own thing.

Okay, cookbook collection justified, back to the friands.

I decided I wanted to add some raspberries to my friands, so off I went to the shops to stock up on almond meal, frozen raspberries and some fresh lemons. I got everything else, but my local big chain supermarket didn’t have any lemons! They did however have limes so I decided to give the recipe a go with limes instead of lemons. I like using limes in my baking, as I think they have a more complex, sweeter citrus taste rather than the straight, strong tartness of lemons (which I also love) and I will often use both lemon and lime together when a recipe only calls for one or the other.

The friands themselves were quite simple to make and turned out well. Although I think I overfilled them so they were a bit bigger than they should be, and also meant I couldn’t serve them the right way with the pattern on top. I liked the combination of lime and raspberry, resulting in a fresh, sweet tartness that balanced well with the sweet and textured friand mix. I’m certainly going to make them again.

Lime and raspberry friands Click here for the recipe

A few weeks ago I reminded Jerome that I was going to be going to a cooking class that night, so would be home later than usual. His response was to question why I was going to a class as I already knew how to cook. Which, of course, is a lovely thing for him to say. However, while I can cook, I certainly don’t believe I know everything there is to know, and since I like cooking, I want to know more!

There are so many reasons why I enjoy going to cooking classes. There is always room for improvement, new tips and tricks to learn, the chance to meet others who love cooking, new recipes to try and I just really enjoy going to cooking classes. Especially the ones that Sarah runs at babyCakes. It is also a good opportunity to try something that you think might be too difficult to try at home (like the White Yule Log that was a lot easier than I thought).

Some of the first classes I went to were Sarah’s cupcake classes and the results are amazing. The cupcakes are moist and don’t dry out. I have altered the recipe slightly and added lemon as well as the original orange and lime, as I love citrus. Since I started making these (and her death by chocolate ones which I’ll post next week), I can no longer get away with bringing a bought cake into work, as everyone expects these cupcakes now. I’ve had a few people tell me they don’t like cupcakes, only to convert them after they have eaten these. Click here for more and the recipe

I know breakfast is important, but I struggle to eat first thing in the morning. It takes me a bit of time to wake up enough to want to eat. So I usually eat my breakfast at work. A few years ago, this meant picking up a muffin from the bakery on my way to work. Not really the best start to the day. These days I’m a lot more organised (and making an effort to be healthier), and will take in fruit, cereal or home-made (and healthier) muffins for my breakfast.

A few years ago, I discovered the TV show Cook Yourself Thin. Two series of this show were filmed in the UK, with a different format each season. The general concept remained the same between the two series. Each episode focused on a person with weight issues and looked at their three (I think it was three) “downfall dishes”. Healthier, lower calorie dishes similar to the original were created as an alternative that could be cooked at home. I loved this show and I think it influenced what I try to do now, that is finding healthier alternatives to my favourites rather than cutting them out completely.  More recently the Hairy Bikers have done this with their book and TV series The Hairy Dieters, and I’ll cook something from their book soon (I of course bought the book as soon as I heard about it). I’m sure there are others out there as well that I haven’t discovered yet. If you know of any books or TV shows of a similar theme, please let me know.

But back to Cook Yourself Thin. These Lemon, Berry and Poppyseed muffins were the first recipe I tried from the series and I’ve made them several times since. They have quite a few replacement ingredients in them. The rice flour and almond meal make them gluten free (if you use gluten free baking powder). Courgette is used in place of butter or oil for moisture (you can’t taste it, I promise) and buttermilk is used in place of milk. I actually had some whey in the fridge from the cheese course I attended and I tried that instead of butter milk. The result was great (I think it actually made them lighter than usual) so I will be using that again next time I have some in the house. I like to wrap them individually once cooled and then freeze most of them. That way, I always have some in the freezer in case I need to grab something on my way to work. Once I get to work, I warm it in the microwave (removing the foil cases first if I’ve used them) and that is a quick breakfast or snack sorted.

Click here for the recipe

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