Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Sweet Cream Biscuits

This week's pick has done absolutely nothing to clear up my confusion about the difference between biscuits and scones. The recipe for these Sweet Cream Biscuits is all but identical to the cream scones I have made since I was little.

Still, whatever you call them they are certainly tasty and one of my favourite things to eat. Whenever I go out for coffee, while the others have a big piece of cake, I always get a sultana scone with jam and cream. Yum!

As usual (I really don't have 'the touch') my biscuits were pretty flat and crumbly but they had a lovely flavour. Perfect with a smear of butter and a big dollop of strawberry jam.

Thanks to Melissa of Love at First Bite for this week's pick. They were easy, tasty and inexpensive. And will definitely be made again :-)

(Yep this post is even shorter than usual but I'm worn out after a big weekend. Check out Oscar's 1st birthday celebrations here!)

Oscar's 1st Birthday Roundup

Hard to believe but my baby is 1 today! The past 12 months have been amazing but it's all gone by so quickly. He's going to be starting school before I know it.

To celebrate we had a party on Sunday down at the waterfront at Manly. We thought the weather was going to spoil it but it turned into a gorgeous day.

38 adults, 7 kids, 1 dog and a ton of food. Sounds like a party to me!

Where's Oscar? Nath worked hard to blow up all these balloons but they didn't last long in the wind

Not too sure about the hat!

Yay, cake!

Hmmm, do I like icing?

Fingerprints in the icing

Who cares about presents when there's bark to play with!

Mummy and Oscar looking a little worse for wear

The car's loaded up with presents. Time for a nap

After spending most of the weekend cooking and baking I didn't even get a photo of the food!

We decided to keep it simple and just have a sausage sizzle, potato salad, pasta salad, green salad, bread and cake.

What you didn't see in the photos are the 48 cupcakes I made. This is one of the 3 leftover that we took home:

I used Nigella's basic cupcake recipe which always works for me. You can find the recipe here. I made a test batch a few weeks ago so felt really confident making 4 doz for the party. But this time I used foil cupcake wrappers and they seemed to cook a lot faster than normal. Mine were done in 13 minutes, not the 15-20 Nigella suggests in the recipe.

I also made a very simple buttercream icing and decorated each one with a freckle.

Buttercream Icing

125g soft butter (I always use salted butter)
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 ts vanilla extra

Using the paddle attachment in your mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Turn the speed to low and add the icing sugar in one go. Beat until combined. Add the vanilla then turn up the speed and beat for about 3 minutes. The icing will be thick, white and shiny. Yum!

Oscar's cake was a giant cupcake made using the Wilton pan. I bought this probably 8 months ago and always planned to use it for his first birthday. I was a little worried how it would turn out (there are lots of horror stories of it sticking etc online). I used a packet cake mix for this, figuring it would be easier. I had just 1/2 cup mixture left from 2 boxes. The tin was greased and floured well, the cake baked for 45 minutes and after a 10 minute rest, out popped 2 perfect cupcake halves. Success!

All in all it was a wonderful day and totally worth all the hard work. A big thanks to Nath's mum Di for her help babysitting and cooking on Saturday :-)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Swedish Visiting Cake

I was so happy Nancy of The Dogs Eat The Crumbs chose the Swedish Visiting Cake! This recipe has been on my to-do list since I first opened Baking.

There's a lovely story in the book about the origins of this cake and that appeals to me as much as the recipe does. It is so quick to make you could probably have this ready in 5 minutes for those last minute guests.

I made a half recipe in a 6 inch pan and ended up with a really flat little cake. The texture was a little strange but I'm sure that was because of the substitutions I made. I'd run out of sliced almonds (and I detest almond essence) so I used some ground almonds in with the flour.

I checked it after 20 minutes and it seemed cooked - crackled on top but firm. Maybe it could have used another 5 minutes though?

The taste test ...

I loved this! Really frangrant with almond, lemon and vanilla. The texture reminded me of a lemon delicious pudding. I'm sure it was the ground almonds which gave it the dense, slightly chewy texture. It was very buttery though and VERY sweet. I think next time I would cut back on both butter and sugar and it would still be fantastic.

Thanks for a great pick Nancy! I will definitely be making this again. You can find the recipe on Nancy's blog.

On another note we are now on the countdown to Oscar's birthday. Yep, my baby turns 1 next week! We are having a bbq/party for him on the weekend with around 40 guests (insansity!) and I will post a full round-up of the day and the food on Monday.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tuesdays with Dorie: Choc-Orange Bundt Cake

This week Erin of When in Doubt ... Leave it at 350 chose Dorie's Mocha-Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake. As tasty as that sounded, with all the chocolate that would be sitting around over the Easter weekend I wanted to make something a little lighter and fresher. So I chose to make a Choc-Orange Bundt cake instead.

I used ground almonds, replaced the coffee with orange juice and rubbed the zest of a whole orange into the sugar. The resulting cake was a gorgeous colour and richly fragrant with citrus.

As you can see from the photo I need to work on my marbling skills! I didn't want to overmix it so I pretty much ended up with a choc-orange layer cake instead.

I only made half the recipe but did it in a full-size bundt pan. It just made a flattish bundt that cooked in 30 minutes.

The taste test ...

Yum! I adore citrus so of course I was going to enjoy this. The orange flavour really shone through and paired perfectly with the chocolate. I don't know whether it was just because of the changes I made but this cake had the texture of a pound cake. Really moist and dense. I loved it!

Thanks for a great pick Erin! I'm sure the Mocha-Walnut original was great but I'm really happy with my orange version. You can find the recipe on Erin's blog.
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