Thursday, October 28, 2010

Best. Scones. Ever.


I love to bake. But there are a few things that I avoid. I try to tackle as many new baked goods as possible.

I recently bought a pizza stone for baking. And decided to test it out today on making scones.

Macarons, and scones are at the top of my 'never bake these, they don't turn out' list. I avoid macarons because I have made them in the past and they never turned out the way I want. And scones because they always turn out like rock cakes, or they are small, or doughy or chewy, or all of the above. You name it I have had the scone disaster.

But today I really wanted to try making scones again, partly cause I had some buttermilk in the fridge I wanted to use, and partly because I try to not let kitchen disasters get the better of me!

I dont know how it happened but these were perfect. Beautiful crunch on the outside and so soft in the middle! Finally I CAN MAKE SCONES!!

I don't know if it was dumb luck or the pizza stone, I'm gonna say a bit of both.

Makes 12

3 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1/2 orange
1/3 cup dates, roughly chopped
1- 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
50 grams butter room temperature

Preheat the oven to very hot 220C. Have a floured bench ready also.
Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix by hand, adding more buttermilk if needed. Put them either on a tray or a pizza stone to bake. Brush the tops with buttermilk. Bake for 15 minutes.
Eat warm with lashings of butter.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Avocado and Chocolate Cupcakes



We live near an avocado farm, so we always have avocados coming out of our ears!

I am always trying to think of new ways of eating and cooking with avocados. Chunky salsas, dips and  salads. But I came across this from Not Quite Nigella, chocolate avocado cake with avocado buttercream which lead me to this from Joy the Baker vegan chocolate avocado cake and avocado pound cake.

I have been so busy with other things like moving and my new baking job that I forgot all about the delicious and quite unusual avocado delights.

I couldn't wait to try my take on the avocado baking! Avocados and baking is pure genius, there are oily enough to keep the cupcake moist, but also have minimal flavour, to be able to add them to sweets.


Makes 24 cupcakes

2 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup almond and pistachio meal, I blend my own mix using equal portions of each
150 grams butter softened
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 medium sized ripe avocados, pureed or smashed with a fork. Depending on if you want it completely smooth or not. I found mashing it with a fork sufficient.

Chocolate and avocado buttercream
2 cups icing sugar
1/2 medium avocado
1/2 cup cocoa
100 grams butter softened
milk, enough to make it a smooth creamy icing 1-2 tablespoons
vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 160C fan forced.
Beat the sugar and butter together until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until light and creamy, add the vanilla extract and the avocado.



Combine the flour, baking powder and nut meal in a small bowl. Add to the avocado mixture 1/3 at a time alternating with the buttermilk.

Spoon into patty cases, and bake for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

Beat the avocado, icing sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and butter adding milk slowly as you beat to make a smooth icing. I used about 1/4 cup milk.

Beautiful smooth and delicious icing, one of the best I've tasted. The avocado gives it a lovely creaminess.


  



I did notice that these cupcakes are best eaten on the day they are baked. The guys I bake for didn't have a problem scoffing the lot within an hour! 


And yes mum a couple are missing cause I couldn't resist this time!! You would've done the same trust me :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Random Things about Me

This beautiful beach is close to my house!


  • i love little dogs, there is something about the big personalities that i love
  • i absolutely love baking and eating the goodies nom nom nom
  • i also love love love to bake for others, love nothing better than seeing the smile on someones face when you take them sweeties for no reason!
  • i am 33, soon to be 34
  • i am married
  • i have to go for a walk in the morning before i do anything else, it helps me function that day as a human being
  • i live near a beach
  • i am a terrible photographer but i love to take photos. i don't have the patience for beautiful shots, i take more random ones
  • i love making my own soaps. I have been totally addicted since March 2010, and now can't stop!!
  • i love really bad TV shows. Give me Gossip Girl, 90210, Americas Next Top Model, One Tree Hill and Trueblood to name only a few of my guilty pleasure...sitting down at the end of the day with a cup of tea, something freshly baked and a silly TV show, nothing better...
  • i adore tea, different flavours for different moments. white, Japanese green (i am spoilt cause i get a beautiful tea sent from japan from my wonderful sister in law), rose and chai are some of my favourites. but i have been known to mix and make my own
  • for some reason i like have to get up early to do things. for example if i have to go somewhere i prefer to go in the morning, like shopping! i like being the first person in a shopping centre, like the calm before the storm, weird i know! i'm definitely a morning person. by the time it is 12pm i feel like the day is over. my poor husband is NOT a morning person, this is very difficult on our relationship sometimes! He needs to learn to wake up and get going hehe!
  • i love to shop online, kinda have no choice cause we aren't close to any fantastic shopping centres, just the big name food supermarket chains....boring! so i have been known to trawl the net for anything and everything
  • i love asian food, japanese, vietmanese and thai are like comfort foods for me
  • i hate chili, or anything spicy. i don't mind a little heat, but i am very much a wuss when it comes to chili. i must be adopted cause i am the only one in the family that feels this way. my mother grows and eats them like lollies, well not that bad, but she'll put them in or on just about anything
  • my mother is my best buddy, we have a great relationship, always have. i don't remember ever having 'hated' her as a teenager, she's my hero!
  • i am not Shakespeare and at all articulate. my writing could do with a lot of work
  • i love to read books and blogs! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Chucky's Bath with my Handmade Dog Soap


I made a doggie soap, for Chuck a few weeks ago. I have been waiting for it to cure so I could use it on him.

It contains coconut oil, goats milk, olive oil, shea and mango butters, real dried oats and has a light honey and oatmeal fragrance.

He really doesn't like having a bath at all, and always cowers in the corner when he hears me filling up the laundry basin. He also tries desperately to climb out of the basin when I'm washing him using my arm as a leg up to freedom!

                             Lathering up the soap in my hands

                             Rinsing off the dog, he was being so good for once!

                                Chuck trying to escape out of the basin!

                                   Shaking off all the water

                                   Little fuzz ball waiting for treats!


video

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pear and Apple Bread




I love thinking up new combinations for sweet breads. I don't want to be held back with only having banana bread all the time! I had some lovely pears and pink lady apples looking at me from the fruit bowl, begging me to make them into something delicious.....


1 1/2 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 ripe pear and 1 apple blended
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3 tablespoons oats
1 teaspoon vanilla

Topping
1 tablespoon slivered almonds
2 tablespoons oats
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 teaspoons coconut

Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Preheat the oven to 160C.

Puree apple and pear in a blender with the oil. Add the eggs and vanilla and blend until just combined.

Combine the wet with the dry ingredients, stir until just mixed. Pour into the prepared tin and top with the slivered almonds, oats, caster sugar and coconut. Bake for 45 minutes.

This is quite a wet mixture so it may need to be baked for a little longer, depending on your oven. 45 minutes was perfect in my oven for it to be moist and springy.

Even better the next day served warm with a cup of tea or coffee.

I don't like mine buttered but go ahead if your feeling especially wicked!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Apple & Pear with Crumble Topping + Orange & Poppy Seed Muffins

This is my work. This is what I have been doing for the last few weeks. I bake for a construction company. These snacks/sweets are for the guys 10.30am morning tea break. I am told they didn't last past 10am! Due to some men having more than one!! Maybe I should bake more goodies for the guys next time....



Makes 9 fairly large cupcake size or 6 texas muffins each.

Apple and Pear Crumble Muffins.

Muffin ingredients
1 1/2 cup self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
stewed apple and pear, cook apple and pear in about 1 tablespoon water till just soft, about 15 minutes
1/3 cup dates chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sour cream

Crumble Topping
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
50 grams butter softened
small handful of your favourite nuts, I used slivered almonds

Mix all the muffin ingredients together in a mixer for about 2-3 minutes. Spoon into muffin cases.

Mix the topping ingredients, by hand, and crumble it over the muffins.
Bake for about 18minutes at 180C fan forced.


Orange and Poppy Seed Muffins.

1 1/2 cups self rasing flour
1 teapoon baking powder
1/2 caster sugar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
zest of 1 orange
50 grams pistachios roughly chopped
1/4 cup sour cream
1-2 tablespoons milk, just enough to bring it together into a batter

Mix all the ingredients in a mixer for about 2-3 minutes. Spoon into muffin cases.
Bake for about 18 minutes at 180C fan forced.

I topped them with a simple butter cream frosting, 1 cup icing sugar, 50 grams butter, splash of milk and vanilla. Add enough milk to make a smooth icing.
For the apple and pear, take out about 1/3 vanilla icing and add 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
I topped the orange with candied orange peel. Cook orange peel in 3 tablespoons sugar with 1 tablespoon water until it becomes sticky about 20 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it cool completely. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Taking it Easy

I have had such a lazy day yesterday. Didn't feel up to doing anything.

This week I have been quite sick. I don't know what happened but since Monday I haven't been able to feel any better. I am tired with aches and pains, and so grateful that I am able to stay at home feeling sorry for myself.

I have had to pull out all the big guns this week. I don't like to take medication at all, maybe I am lucky but I don't feel the need for headache or pain relief. I have been feeling very blah, flat and not myself, and contimlated taking something one day when i had a headache, but ened up being able to sleep it off. I have been lucky as to have an array of movies and TV shows to watch over and over, to name a few: gossip girl, trueblood, 90210, and Dexter. I know they aren't intellectual but I make no apologies I love these shows!

All week I have been making super healthy food for hubby and I to eat. 'Chicken' (I use the massel chicken style powders), and vege soups even adding the wontons I made not long ago, salads, lots of fruit, laksa's, everything I usually use as my 'drugs' to get better.
Cauliflower and mushroom soup

Greek salad with pine nuts and avocado

Most of the time I really enjoy eating vegetarian with a few vegan dishes thrown in, but every now and then I will eat fish, and rarely some meat. The older I get the more I don't agree with eating meat for humane reasons. But find that I cannot give up meat completely, or if I do which I did in the past, cannot call myself a 'vegetarian'. I think it is false to say that, as I know I am mostly likely going to eat meat again at one point.

I don't know what to call myself, and have always wondered why people like to label themselves when it comes our eating habits. I think it is personal, and doesn't offend me what people want to eat, if anything it fascinates me that it cause's such a debate among people. People still find it amazing that you don't want to eat meat. I find it most difficult with going out for dinner, the vegetarian options are still very boring! You would think in this day and age with the Masterchef extravaganza and people's 'new found' love of cooking etc, that the options would be better. I was so excited when I read in Grazia just this week that they had a 'Vegetarian Fare' section, wahoo! But if it wasn't beans on toast it was a very complicated tarte or salad. The only ones that looked appealing was the gnocchi and the artichoke dishes! Please most vego's like to have 'normal' food, not such complicated fare!

Ok ill get down off my horse now.....

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tiramisu Birthday Cake




My Dad celebrated his birthday on the 12th, so hubby and I decided to drive to Sydney for the occasion with little Chucky of course!

Typical scenery on our drive down to Sydney, and little Chuck sleeping the whole car trip, something about driving sends him to sleep.

I LOVE Sydney. Every time we drive up there I realise how much I miss it....My family and all the stuff there is to do. Cafes and restaurants are always high on our agenda when we go there.

Anyway back to dad's birthday. My father has diabetes and I'm always changing recipes as to not have too much sugar in them, but this is his birthday! So I wanted to make something kinda silky and more dessert like, than cake like.  I went trawling through my mum's array of cook books, but still nothing, no inspiration....Then it hit me everyone love tiramisu!! I'll turn it into more of a cake with layers of chocolate cake and sandwich the mascarpone between the layers.

Start by making the thin chocolate cake layers
1/2 cup self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons of cocoa, good quality not high in sugar
2 eggs
60 grams butter melted
2 teaspoons coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

Place all the ingredients in a bowl, mix with a hand mixer for 2-3 minutes.
Divide the mixture between 2 lined tins. Bake in a preheated 190C oven for 15 minutes. Don't bake for too long they need to stay moist. Set these aside to completely cool.

Cream and biscuit filling.
250 grams mascarpone
1/2 zested orange
3 tablespoons sugar, but add more if you want it sweeter
2 eggs separated
vanilla bean scraped of seeds
2 tablespoons frangelico
1-2 tablespoons coffee
1 cup hot water
savoiardi biscuits

300mls cream, beat and set aside for 'icing' the cake

Start with dissolving the coffee into the hot water, add the frangelico. Set this aside to cool.
Add the yolks, mascarpone, orange zest, sugar, and vanilla beans mix with a spatula. Then beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form. Incorporate the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture and set that aside.


Start with lining a baking tin with paper quite high, so you can pull it out later with ease. Add a chocolate cake layer. Then add 1/2 of the mascarpone mixture on top, smooth this out. 


Next dip the savoiardi biscuits into the coffee liquid and layer them on top of the mascarpone. Make sure they are moist enough, by spooning some more coffee over the biscuits. 


Mum took this photo of me working on the mascarpone filling.

Typical shot of the boys. Pepe in the background looking lovingly at me making the cake hoping something will fall on the floor (like the whole cake!) And Chucky, not caring about us just what's happening outside with all the birds and cats that sit on the fence :)




Pour the rest of the mascarpone cream over the biscuit layer. Top with the other chocolate cake layer.
Put the cake in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or even over night to set.
Cover cake with cream then dust with cocoa.
     

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sticky Buns

I love making things with yeast, watching it transform and rise in front of your eyes. I made these for my new job. The photo on top is the only one I took, they were gone before I could even put the trays down!

This recipe is for about 24 medium to large buns.

Buns
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/2 cup warm water
4 cups strong plain flour
pinch of salt
1/4 cup caster sugar
60 grams butter
2 eggs

Filling
1 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
zest of 2 oranges and 1 lemon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoons of mixed spice
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons cocoa
100 grams butter softened
1/3 cup mixed nuts

Mix all the filling ingredients together and set it aside.

Topping
1 cup pecans roughly chopped
4 tablespoons icing sugar
2 teaspoons milk.

Whisk the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar together with the warm water. Set aside to foam for about 15 minutes.
Place the rest of the bun ingredients in a mixer with dough hooks. Add the foamy yeast mixture, and knead for about 10 minutes. Set aside to rise for about 1 hour in a warm spot.

Roll the dough out to about 1cm thick. Spread the filling to within a few centimeters of the border. Then roll it up.  Cut pieces about 5cm thick. Place them down on a baking tray, filling side up and with at least 1 cm room between, and slightly flatten. Set this aside to rise for about 45 minutes.

Brush with a little melted butter and bake in a hot oven 200C for 15-20 minutes.

Sprinkle the pecans over the rolls. Melt the sugar and milk in a small saucepan and ice the buns, pouring over the buns in light 'lines' over the top.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Steamed Prawn and Pork Wontons


Makes 40 wontons.

200 grams mince
6 prawns - roughly chopped
1 tbsp garlic chives - chopped
1 spring onion - finely chopped
1/4 baby cabbage - lightly steamed, then shredded
1 knob of ginger - finely chopped
1 tbsp coriander - finely chopped
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fish sauce (so far)
2 tbsp Chinese Rice Wine
1/2 - 1 tsp of brown sugar (to taste)
2 tbsp light soy
1 tbsp dark soy
salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 tbsp corn flour or potato starch

Chop all the ingredients. Thoroughly mix all ingredients together, cover with cling wrap and leave aside for a couple hours to marinate in the fridge.







Fill the wontons with a teaspoon of filling, fold in half then bring the two bottom ends together.

I have a Home Empress video on youtube about how to fold wontons.

Steam the wontons for about 8-10 minutes. Serve with a 1/2 soy and 1/2 oyster dipping sauce. For a bit of heat add a freshly chopped chili to the sauce.