Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daring Bakers January - Tuiles

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

What a lovely simply recipe! I was delighted to have something light to make this time around. And yet again this is something that I probably would never have gotten around to making on my own.

The recipe calls for the mixture to be either piped or stenciled. Having not solved the mystery of our missing piping bag I went for the stencil option. There was only one problem. I failed cutting in kindergarten (seriously!) and my skills haven't improved much since then!

I had managed to save an ice cream container from a week ago and decided to make a simple circle. Unfortunately I forgot that I was not actually after a perfect circle cutout, but rather the circular shape left behind and I butchered it. Bugger.

Then I went freehand to create some faintly circular shapes. These actually worked really well but the humidity was a killer. Within about 10 minutes my beautifully firmed up tuile bowls were as flat as pancakes (I managed to perk one up for the photos).

I also dug out some stencils I have which are designed to make pretty cocoa shapes on top of a cappuccino.

I made half the recipe because I only had 1 egg left when I started and got what you see in the above photo.

Yield: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)
Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

65 grams softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams sifted confectioner’s sugar
a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams sifted all purpose flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 180C

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not over mix. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week; take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter / spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the baking sheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly coloured. Use this coloured batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.

Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180C) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. Or: place a baking sheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.

If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….

I paired them with a gorgeous mango sorbet but the possibilities are endless.

My husband didn't bother with any niceties and ate his like a taco!

I think mine was prettier :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread

This week we made a gorgeous gingerbread thanks to Heather of Sherry Trifle. I made this to feed the troops on our moving day yesterday. Nothing like a chocolate fix in the midst of a hard morning's work!

It was an absolute breeze to whip up but I ended up with a slightly different result than intended because I misread the recipe! I was most of the way through when the recipe said to stir through the chopped chocolate. Woops! I melted all the chocolate instead of just 2 ounces. I added it all anyway and hoped for the best.

I also changed the icing, just melting the chocolate and butter together and adding enough icing sugar to get the consistency right.

The taste test ...

Oh. My. God. This was incredible! If this was a mistake I want to make many, many more of them! The end result was moist, rich and almost fudgy right in the middle and the fresh ginger gave it a wonderful depth of flavour (dark chocolate covered ginger is one of my favourite treats!).

This is probably in my top 3 Dorie recipes so far. Thanks Heather!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Australia Day!

Today is the day we celebrate the beginning of modern Australia with the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788!

There is a lot of discussion this year, particularly since the naming of an aboriginal Australian of the Year, about whether January 26th should be celebrated at all. I for one think it should, but there should also be another day (a celebration? acknowledgment?) which is more inclusive of indigenous Australians.

To me Australia Day says hot weather, bbqs, the JJJ Hottest 100 and lots of sport on tv. We spent the day moving practically every piece of furniture we own in a big switcheroo that will make room for our new bub (who will be here in just 12 weeks!!!)

No recipes today, but we really enjoyed our lunch of homemade sausage rolls and potato salad. Yum!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Berry Surprise Cake

This week Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen chose Dorie's Berry Surprise Cake. This was a fun project and really anything with strawberries and cream is a winner to me!

I decided to be brave and quarter the recipe so I could use my little 10cm springform pan. I was really worried when I spooned in the batter because it looked like a pancake, coming maybe 1/2 cm up the sides of the pan! It did rise though and all went well until I touched the top very lightly with my fingertip to see how firm it was getting and of course it instantly deflated! Oh well.

I was never going to be able to create a 'nest' in something maybe so small so I split it, smeared each half with raspberry jam (there was no point making the sugar syrup without the alcohol) and piped on the filling to form a hollow in the centre for the fruit. I used fresh strawberries with maybe 6 frozen raspberries.

The taste test ...

Fabulous! Like I said, I think anything with strawberries and cream is perfect! To me it was a bit of a twist on a strawberry shortcake, scones with jam and cream or even trifle. All of which I love. I will definitely try this again full-size, maybe for a special afternoon tea. Thanks Mary Ann!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Confession

My name is Susan, and I am a bakeaholic. Big shock considering I have a food blog and bake for both Tuesdays with Dorie and Daring Bakers!

I don't really do the whole New Years' Resolution thing but seeing my thighs have been expanding along with my pregnant belly I though I would take the first week of January off.

No baking at all.

I lasted 3 days.

It wasn't even that I wanted to eat something I made, I actually really missed the process of baking - playing with butter and flour, getting my hands dirty, having the kitchen smell homey.

So I bring you Dorie's Peanut Butter Crisscrosses (or what you bake when you shouldn't be baking and don't really have any ingredients). I ate 2 of these and the rest are in the freezer for later when the mood to eat but not bake strikes me.

Peanut Butter Crisscrosses
From Baking - pp78-79

2 1.3 c plain flour
1 ts baking soda
1/2 ts baking powder
1/4 ts salt
Pinch nutmeg
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c chopped salted peanuts (I left these out because we didn't have any)
About 1/2 c sugar extra for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with paper.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
Beat the butter in a mixer on medium until smooth and creamy. Add the peanut butter and beat for another minute. Add the sugars and beat for 3 minutes more. Ad the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl, then on low speed add the dry ingredients mixing until only just combined. The dough should be soft and mushy. Mix in the chopped peanuts.

Pour the extra sugar into a small bowl. Using a level tablespoonful of dough, roll into a ball in your hands then drop in the sugar, rolling it around to coat. Place on a baking sheet leaving 2 inches between them. Dip a fork in the sugar and press into each ball of dough to make crisscrosses.

Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets if you need to. When done the cookies with be lightly coloured and still soft. Cool for a few minutes before moving them to a rack to cool to room temperature.

Makes about 40 (I did half the recipe and got 15 big cookies)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Dorie's Cornmeal and Fruit Loaf

Sticking with the cornbread theme I decided to make this loaf to use up the rest of my buttermilk and cornmeal. It came together ridiculously quickly (just like yesterday's muffins) and smelt amazing in the oven!

I went with fresh granny smith apple and dried apricots for both the colour and sweetness.

Cornmeal and Fruit Loaf
From Baking - p43

1 cup buttermilk
5 tbs unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 1/4 c plain flour
3/4 c cornmeal
1/2 c sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 ts baking soda
1/2 ts cinnamon
1/4 ts nutmeg
1/4 ts salt
1 apple or pear, peeled cored and cut in a small dice
1/2 cup diced dried apple or pear (or apricot in my case)

Centre a rack in the oven and preheat to 180 degrees. Butter and line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan (i never place cake pans on a rack as Dorie suggest because everything burns that way).

Whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter and eggs.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Fold in the liquid ingredients using a large rubber spatula until everything is just moistened. Stir in the fruits and scrape batter into prepared tin.

Bake for about 1hr (or 45 minutes in my case) or until a thin knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then invert onto a rack and cool right side up.

Delicious warm out of the oven or freeze in slices for making great toast the next day!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Savoury Corn & Pepper Muffins

Much as I loved last week's pick I was very happy with something simple and savoury this week!

I am not a huge fan of chilli, preferring warmth to heat in terms of spiciness so I did make a few changes to the recipe. I also jumped on the bandwagon and served these with Beef and Bean Chili. They were the perfect accompaniment.

The taste test ...

Fresh out of the oven when it was almost too hot to handle and smeared with butter ... yum! My one issue would be that I think there was too much baking powder. Or too much combined with the baking soda? Once they cooled down I could really taste it and the crumb was very hard despite not over-mixing.

I'm glad I left out the jalopenos and most of the chilli - I only used 1/2 ts of mexican chilli powder and that was perfect to give a hint of warmth which contrasted beautifully with the more spicy Chili.

Overall a thumbs up! Thanks to Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake for this week's pick.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: French Pear Tart

This week's recipe was chosen by none other than Dorie herself! How cool is that? And even better she selected a recipe I have been eying off for ages - the French Pear Tart.

I absolutely adore pears. I have some on my cereal every single morning, fresh when available and canned for the rest of the time. Being the middle of summer fresh pears aren't available so I went for the best quality canned ones I could find.

This recipe was a cinch to pull together, although the pastry was slightly tricky. I hate blaming everything on the weather but the heat and humidity really do play havoc with pastry! It took 3 attempts to roll it out properly (with chilling time in between) but I eventually got there. I pre-baked it as per the recipe and although the crust got a littler darker than I would have liked the end result was perfect.

The taste test ...

Absolutely divine. I lost count of the number of times N said 'this is really good. you should make this again.' Admittedly it was very sweet but I think this sweetness comes from the pears themselves. Perhaps there would be more contrast with fresh pears? Either way, we loved it and will definitely be making this again sometime. Thanks Dorie!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

N's First Omelette

When I first met him, N was allergic to egg. This was staggering because it meant he had never tried cake, quiche, custard, meringue or pancakes. Can you imagine?? We did some research and found a treatment which cured his egg allergy (and yes it was a true, medically diagnosed food allergy from birth which played havoc with vaccinations etc) once and for all.

I'm amazed I hadn't cooked one for him before but he assures me that after more than 6 years together this was his first omelette. And he liked it!

After all my whinging about the weather the temperature has dropped about 10 degrees since yesterday which made it perfect to have an omelette on hot buttered toast for dinner.

We filled them with sauteed onion, garlic, mushroom, ham and asparagus with a smattering of chedder.


Friday, January 2, 2009

Tall & Creamy Cheesecake - Take 2

So my last attempt at this delicious cheesecake resulted in a rather ugly (albeit tasty) concoction. But the fact that I didn't get to take any decent photos because we were at someone else's house, in poor light, with no time to prep and I didn't even get to cut it myself bothered me so much I made it again.

This time I decided to make minis and keep the flavours simpler. I halved the crust recipe and quartered the filling and this made 2 perfect minis (although they were very full and this amount of crust and filling could have stretched to 3).

I made 2 different types...

Lemon with Passionfruit (added juice and zest of 1/2 small lemon to basic filling)

Vanilla with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (1/2 ts vanilla with chopped up Reese's)

Again no problems at all making these. I baked them for 40 minutes at 160 degrees and then let them 'luxuriate in their water bath' (oh how I wish that were me!) for another 30 minutes.

The taste test ...

In a word ... YUM!

I can see this recipe becoming my go-to cheesecake recipe. I didn't have any problems with browning or the crust cracking so they tasted just as good as they looked this time around!

Tall and Creamy Cheesecake
Adapted rom Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

For the crust:
250g plain sweet biscuits
Pinch of salt
100g unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:
4 packs cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two


To make the crust:

Butter a deep 9-inch springform pan and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil, then put the pan on a baking sheet.

Blitz the biscuits and salt in a food processor then add the melted butter and whiz until well combined. Turn the ingredients into the prepared pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. Wipe out the bowl and blade of the food processor with paper towel.

Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius fan-forced and place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.

Reduce the oven temperature to 140 degrees celsius fan forced.

To make the cheesecake:

Put a kettle of water on to boil.

In the food processor beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 2 minutes, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition. Finally add the sour cream and/or heavy cream and process for another minute.

Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.

Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven's heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.

After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roasting pan and very carefully remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.

When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill overnight.
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