Crepes with Rhubarb and Raspberry Compote

 Crepes with rhubarb and raspberry compote 3

Here is my contribution for pancake day, although they are crepes not pancakes.

I still remember a few years ago when I decided to cook brunch at my parent’s house for my Dad for Father’s day. I told Jerome I was making crepes (very thin, usually quite large) and he kept insisting that I was making pancakes (thicker and fluffy). Once I cooked them and he saw the final product, he had to admit that I did actually know what I was talking about and that I had made crepes.

For my birthday last year I was looking for somewhere new to have brunch and I found Toast in East Perth. As soon as I saw crepes with rhubarb and raspberry compote on the menu I was sold. It is now one of my favourite places for breakfast/brunch and they also make a great juice called the ‘beach bear’ (pineapple, apple, ginger and mint). I’m honestly thinking about getting a juice maker at home just so I can try to make that juice!

So, inspired by my favourite crepes at Toast, I decided to see if I could replicate the flavours at home and make my own rhubarb and raspberry compote. I have to say that the final result exceeded my expectation. I was so happy with the compote that I could happily eat just that. I like very tart sweets, so you may want to add more sugar if you prefer things a bit sweeter. I’ve also included the crepe recipe that I have used for years, from The Beginner’s Cookbook by Family Circle.

Click here for the recipe

Chocolate and orange tarts

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

Christmas Baking – Chocolate gingerbread brownies

choc gingerbread brownies

With ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice filling the air, it’s really starting to smell like Christmas in my house as a result of this weekend’s baking. Aside from starting the gingerbread for some mini gingerbread houses (a future post), I also came across this recipe for gingerbread brownies that I had to try.

Not being a huge chocolate fan, brownies are usually too rich for me (although my fudgy chocolate and raspberry brownies are very popular with all the chocoholics I know). But I liked the idea of the added “Christmassy” spices and just had to try them. With the amount of chocolate in this recipe (both dark chocolate and cocoa), they were too much chocolate for me and I could only eat a small piece. But that is my issue, not the recipe’s. Besides, heading into Christmas time when most of us over indulge, only having a small piece of something is a good thing! They were very popular at work so, if you love chocolate brownies, why not give these a try instead of your usual brownie recipe at Christmas time? This would be great as a dessert warm with ice-cream too.

Click here for the recipe

The Great Australian Bake Off Technical Challenge – Week 8 La Religieuse

 La Religieuse 1

I’m finally back to baking and blogging after more than a month away. My apologies for my absence, but my other hobby was taking up all of my spare time. As I have mentioned before, my other passion is musical theatre, and I was cast in a local (community) musical theatre production, which hit the stage recently for a one week run. And so my time was taken up with rehearsals and then performances.

However, the musical has now finished and it is back to cooking, cooking classes, baking and blogging. The show went well, with great feedback from the audiences.  The best part was meeting all the children from the audience in character after the show. They loved that. It was a lot of work and over too quickly, but well worth it. It has reignited my love and passion for musical theatre!

But for now, there are no more shows on the horizon so I have more time for my baking and blogging. The final episode of GABO is now a distant memory, however I set myself the challenge of cooking all the technical challenges, and there is only the final weeks challenge left to go, LA Religieuse. However, as usual I did change it a bit. I decided to just do chocolate and vanilla filled versions, rather than the chocolate, coffee and rose.

I have to say I had issues with this bake. Even though I’ve made both choux pastry and crème patisserie before. Part of it could have been that I was recovering from a migraine when I first started on Saturday, and the rest was not reading the recipe correctly and then rushing and taking short cuts at the end. My first crème patisserie was a bit grainy (the sugar hadn’t dissolved using the GABO method which had the sugar in with the milk) and I put the large and small choux pastry in the oven at the same time instead of cooking them separately. So after enjoying some fresh air and sunshine at the Unwined food and wine festival in Subiaco today, I decided to start again. This time I used my normal crème patisserie recipe (which I much prefer) and cooked the choux in batches as it was supposed to, with much better results. I have to admit though, by the time I got to the assembly stage I was tired and rushing. My icing was too runny, and I didn’t want to make a second batch. And I used whipped cream instead of melted white chocolate which wasn’t firm enough. So they weren’t very pretty in the end and not very stable. But they still tasted nice and the choux pastry itself turned out great.

I have to say next time I will just cook éclairs or profiteroles, which can all go in the oven at one time, and they are much easier to assemble.  All in all, after the first failure, I was pretty happy with the outcome taste wise, although they are a very sweet and rich dessert. I am very happy that I managed to get through all 8 of the technical challenges (some better than others). Of course, cooking in your own kitchen is completely different to the high stress environment of the GABO tent, but who knows…I might have read the recipe properly if I was there!

Next up? I start a 5 week Christmas Baking Class with Sarah Brigden from babyCakes this week.

Click here for the recipe

The Great Australian Bake Off Technical Challenge – Week 6 Layered Pavlova Torte

 Pavlova Torte I’m afraid this is going to be a very brief post, as I’ve been sick since the weekend. However I couldn’t let the final episode of the Great Australian Bake Off (which airs tonight) go past without at least providing an update on my quest to bake each weekly technical challenge. Week 6 of The Great Australian Bake Off (GABO) saw the bakers attempting a Layered Pavlova Torte with Fondant Strawberry decorations.  Now I had every intention of making the decorations as I enjoy making models and decorations out of fondant. However, after waking up sick on Saturday, by the time I had finished baking the meringue I have to admit I just didn’t feel well enough to make them and I went back to bed instead.  I will give them a go when I am feeling better and will update the post with them. If you are familiar with cooking pavlovas/meringues then this recipe is quite simple. I really liked the addition of the toasted almond meal to the meringue, it helped cut through the inherent sweetness of a meringue and also provided a nice depth of flavour. The simple filling of whipped cream, strawberries and passionfruit was lovely and balanced well with the crisp/chewy meringue. I did pipe my layers a bit thinner than I should have, however I was still happy with the final result. If I was going to make this again, I’d use the leftover egg yolks to make some lemon/passionfruit curd to ripple through the cream filling. I’d also make smaller individual ones if I was entertaining, as it is quite messy once you cut into it! Two more challenges to go. Next up, Breakfast Croissants. But for now, it is time for a nap to try and get over this virus before setting myself up on the couch later with a cup of tea later for the GABO final!

Click here for the recipe

The Great Australian Bake Off Technical Challenge – Week 3 Brandy Snaps

First attempt at brandy snaps - more practice needed!
First attempt at brandy snaps – more practice needed!

After a very busy week, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to try to recreate the Week 3 (Brandy Snaps) and Week 4 (Quiche) GABO technical challenges at the same time. All was actually going well until I started getting a migraine.

I had originally intended to keep making the brandy snaps until I had perfected them, just like the contestants in Week 3 who made multiple batches in their quest to create 12 perfect brandy snaps. Unfortunately with the onset of a migraine, I had to throw in the towel after just one batch and admit defeat – for now. I managed about 6 salvageable brandy snaps from my first batch (although they weren’t the best and looked nothing like the ones in the picture from the original recipe), only to then break one when I was filling it with the cream. However, given how I was feeling at the time, I think the fact that I made any of them is an achievement. I will have to try again when I have more time and am feeling 100%!

I also found that my wooden spoon handles were a bit too narrow to get the best cylinder shape. I’ll have to go hunting for a bigger one before I try these again. Also, although the recipe recommended cooking four at a time, until you have got the hang of making these I would recommend only cooking 2 – 3 at a time. It will take longer, but you will end up throwing away less, so you will save time in the long run.

The brandy snaps are very sweet on their own, although the addition of the cream helps to balance this, with nice caramel and ginger flavours. Next time I will also try making some as little cups like I’ve seen before.

Next up, a couple of savoury recipes after a few weeks of only sweet, including the Week 4 Quiche challenge.

Click here for the recipe