Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April cupcake hero - Earth Day

The cupcake hero theme for April is Earth Day which was on April 23 (I think). The challenge was to create something that had a green theme. I wanted to make something that kind of represented New Zealand as we are known for our clean, green image. But kiwifruit cupcakes didn’t really do it for me!

So, I created these – chocolate and zucchini cupcakes. These are lovely little chocolate cakes, studded with the odd green fleck of zucchini and chunks of chocolate. If you didn’t know (as my husband didn’t) that they had zucchini in them, I think you would think these were just a chocolate cake. But the zucchini does provide some moistness.

As far as being appropriate for Earth Day, the zucchini are organic, purchased from my local market. They are out of season and were a bit fatter than I would like if I was eating them as a vegetable, bit they were good for these purposes. The eggs were free range and the flour while not organic, is bleach free. I really wanted to use fair trade chocolate as well, but I didn’t quite make the trip back to the organic shop, but I did use Cadburys which is NZ made.

More than likely you are wondering why on earth I have decorated my cakes with number 9s!! Well, I haven’t. The little green swirls are my NZ contribution to the creation. They are meant to be koru. A koru is the Maori name for the little fronds of the native fern. The koru symbolises creation and new life. This is a picture of what a real koru looks like.

So, Earth Day cupcakes – organic, healthy (ok, that’s a lie, but they contain vegetables!) and symbolising NZ and its clean green image. They taste pretty good

Chocolate & Zucchini Cupcakes

¾ c rice bran oil
¾ c castor sugar
2 eggs
2 medium zucchini, grated and then moisture squeezed out in a tea towel
125g dark chocolate, chopped
½ c wholemeal flour
¾ c plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ c cocoa
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp salt

· Beat together oil, sugar and eggs
· Add remainder of ingredients and stir to combine
· Spoon into cupcake cases and bake at 170c for 18 –20 minutes
Ice with chocolate ganache (I use a 3:1 chocolate to cream ratio for icing)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

TWD - Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

The TWD challenge for this week is fluted polenta and ricotta cake. The cake is a thin, tart like cake made with polenta and studded with dried figs. I love fresh figs, but I am not such a fan of dried figs, so I substituted the dried figs for dried apricots. Instead of making one large cake I halved the recipe and made 6 mini tarts. I have put all but one of these in the freezer for another occasion.

The cakes were lovely – the polenta gives them a nice crunch and I used a native bush honey which gave the cakes a lovely honey flavour. This particular honey has depth but not strength, so you could taste the honey without the cake being too sweet. The cake was lovely and light which is perhaps what the ricotta added? I think using buttermilk or yoghurt would possibly give the same result. The recipe also said to dot small pieces of butter on the cake – I left this step out.

I really like this recipe. It is quite a plain cake though and does need some whipped cream or even ice cream to be served with it. I think it would be best served warm as a dessert. See how the other TWDers did here.

Just as a postscript to last week’s TWD recipe – the carrot cake. The cakes went down well at book club. The cakes kept really well and I think they actually improved with age.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Daring Bakers - cheesecake pops

It’s that time again – another Daring Bakers challenge completed. This month the challenge was cheesecake pops. These are little cheesecake balls dipped in chocolate on a stick. The recipe comes from a book that I have just ordered from Fishpond called Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey –how good does that sound!!!

The recipe called for 5 containers of cream cheese – which is a lot! I had no real special occasion to make these for, so I decided to halve the recipe. The original recipe was baked in a 10 inch tin – I did mine in an 8, but if I made these again I would make even half the recipe in a larger tin, as I wanted to cut the cheesecake with cookie cutters to make shapes, but my cheesecake was too thick.

The cheesecake itself was a fairly basic recipe – I actually think it needed some lemon to add a bit of bite. It was vanilla flavoured and I added Heilala vanilla past to get those vanilla bean flecks that I love. As I have mentioned before, I am an impatient person, hence my pops are a bit larger than I should have made them and are un-even sizes – I didn’t have the patience to make them small and uniform. I dipped my pops in white chocolate. I had made all these little pink flowers to go on them, but unfortunately, the flowers hadn’t set hard enough and I couldn’t get them onto the pops successfully. So I ended up dipping most of the pops into coloured sugar and hundreds and thousands. Not quite as creative as I would have liked, but ok I guess.

This was a fun challenge – it took a bit of creativity. My only disappointment was I had this great idea for these gorgeous little white chocolate pops with pale pink flowers, but I only got a couple of those because of the softness of the flowers. Now I have a whole heap of flowers – I guess they will be good decoration for some cupcakes.

Check out the other daring bakers (now over 1000 of them!) creations here.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

TWD - Two Days Late

Better late than never!!! The TWD challenge this week was Bill's Big Carrot Cake. Book club is at my house tonight and a carrot cake seemed like the perfect thing to make, so I delayed my TWD challenge until last night so that the cake would be ok for book club. The cake called for three layers, using three 9 inch (about 24cm) cake tins. I only have one sandwich tin and one springform in that size, so last weekend I went to Briscoes and got two more sandwich tins on sale for only $3.50 each!

However, after all that, there are not that many of us at book club tonight (school holidays and all that) so instead of one big layer cake, I decided to halve the recipe and make cupcakes. Having the benefit of reading other posts it seemed that the mixture sunk a bit for a lot of the other TWDers who made cupcakes. I got 12 cupcakes from half of the mixture and only a couple sunk – they were the ones where I had over-filled the cases.

When I was young my Mum used to make carrot cake all the time – yes it was the 1980s when carrot cake was considered “flash”. Mum had a microwave recipe and the cake turned out perfectly every time. I used to make it my university days when my flatmates thought I was great because I could bake. The last carrot cake I made was actually an Annabel Langbein one for a friend’s birthday almost two years ago, so it had been a while.

I don’t like dried fruit, but I can handle dried cranberries, so I added these, as recommended by Dorie, as a substitution for raisins. I love walnuts in carrot cake so they were another welcome addition. The cake also had strand coconut in it – I didn’t actually like this and would leave it out if I was making the cake again. Also, the cake wasn’t spicy enough for me. I had a look back at the Annabel Langbein recipe which and it had cinnamon, ground ginger and mixed spice – Dorie’s recipe just had cinnamon. I think I like quite strong spicy flavours in carrot cake.

I also halved the cream cheese icing recipe. Unfortunately this meant I didn’t have enough icing to do big swirly icing on the top, but I think they looked quite good with the toasted shaved coconut. I also took a leaf out of other TWDers books and added a teaspoon of Heilala vanilla paste to the icing, which gave it a really delicate flavour and lovely little vanilla flecks.(photo of the icing pre-coconut shown below).

The verdict – a good carrot cake, but not the best I have tasted. I think I will stick to the Annabel Langbein recipe next time I make carrot cake.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Last night of cake decorating

Last Wednesday was my last night of the Wilton cake decorating class. I must say I absolutely loved the course. Kirsten, the instructor, was great – very patient and helpful and the other people doing the course were lovely. On the last night we learned how to do tulips and ribbons and then we practised our roses some more and decorated our final cake.

After a few false starts, I think I got the hang of doing my roses! I was really pleased with how they turned out. The cake I made was a variation suggested by Dorie Greenspan for the perfection pound cake – I did a vanilla and chocolate marbled cake which I split and filled with chocolate ganache and raspberry jam. I took it to work on Thursday. It was nice although as it was made on Sunday it was starting to dry out a bit.

My icing is a little wobbly but not too bad for an early attempt. Over the weekend I practised more roses and luckily hadn’t lost the knack! I am looking forward to practising more of the techniques I learned at the course.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

TWD - on hold until Thursday

My TWD challenge post for this week is going to be a couple of days late. I am hosting book club at my house this week and I thought Dorie’s carrot cake would be perfect for this. So, you wont get to see it until Thursday. Check out the other TWDers’ cakes here.

In the meantime, Cakelaw has tagged me for a six word memoir – that is describe yourself in six words. It is quite difficult to do! It was optional whether to add a photo. I don’t seem to have any digital photos of me, so I cropped this one of me at an Auckland Women Lawyers’ Association function last year (I am the president). I don’t normally have a double chin!! But this was the best I could do without putting in my work photo which is one of those lovely ones where it doesn’t really look like you!

Fit and Healthy (yes, I know it is two words but they go together)
Impatient (one of my worst attributes)
Thoughtful and loving (my sister picked this one)

I also have to tag 5 other bloggers, so I pick:

Morven from Food, Art and Random Thoughts
Rachel from West Coast Kitchen
Caitlin from Engineer Baker
Rebecca from Ezra Pound Cake
Madam Chow from

I apologise if you have already done this!!

And now, for some food talk. In the weekend I did a little bit of baking – banana and cinnamon loaves made from the one rather sad banana languishing in the bottom of the fruit bowl and these little orange cupcakes for my friend’s daughter, Elliot. She liked the icing on the cupcakes I made last week, so I made some more in the weekend, using up the little icing flowers that I made last week at my class. The cakes are orange cupcakes with lemon icing. A really simple recipe adapted from a Donna Hay magazine recipe. I made some mini ones and some normal sized ones.

Orange cupcakes with lemon icing (adapted from Donna Hay magazine)

120g butter
½ c castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 c flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
zest and juice of one orange

· Cream butter, sugar, vanilla and orange zest
· Beat in eggs, one at a time
· Stir in remainder of ingredients, spoon into cupcake cases and bake at 160c for 12 minutes for mini cakes and about 16 minutes for bigger cakes
When cold ice with icing made from icing sugar and enough lemon juice to make an icing consistency

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dorie does it again

At the end of each weekend I always ask my husband what was his favourite thing that he had to eat over the past two days. This weekend, despite that I had cooked him Bluff oysters on Saturday night, his favourite thing was Dorie’s pecan and sour cream biscuits which I made for lunch yesterday. In fact he said that they were “magnificent”!

In New Zealand we use the word biscuit for cookie – ie a piece of shortbread is a biscuit. In the States it seems that their biscuits are what we call scones. Dorie has both scones and biscuits in her book – the difference seems to be that scones have eggs in them. In NZ our scones don’t necessarily have eggs in them.

The biscuits were deliciously flaky, slightly sweet because of the brown sugar and with a lovely slight crunch from the pecans. I didn’t have any sour cream in the fridge so used natural yoghurt (I used Cyclops thick and creamy – I often substitute it for sour cream as it is a similar texture but is creamier and has less fat). We ate them hot from the oven, barely waiting for them to cool. I had mine just with butter but my husband had his with the peach and vanilla jam I made at Easter. The jam is lovely as it is slightly tart so not too sweet and is flecked with vanilla seeds.

I will definitely be making these biscuits/scones again.

Friday, April 18, 2008

cake decorating class

Tuesday night was my next cake decorating class. On Tuesday we had to take cupcakes and we learned how to make shell patterns, drop flowers and the start of the rose (more about this next week). I made little passionfruit cupcakes and decorated them using different colours and techniques. I was quite pleased with the result and can’t wait to do a bit more practice!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cupcakes for Georgia

Bev from book club’s daughter, Georgia had her 16th birthday party last Saturday night. The theme was black and gold and Bev asked me to make cupcakes to match the theme. The cakes ended up looking quite simple, but I hope quite sophisticated! The cakes were a very chocolatey almost mud cake like texture. I used the crabapple bakery recipe for mud cake which described the cake as a lighter mud cake for those who don’t like their mudcake too dense. I actually love dense mud cake, but I think for cupcakes you need something a bit lighter.

The cakes were put into gold cases and then topped with chocolate ganache and little gold cachous. I hope everyone at the party enjoyed them!

Chocolate Mud Cupcakes (from the Crabapple Bakery Cook Book)

3 tbsp instant coffee
¾ c hot water
250g butter
300g dark chocolate
4 eggs
1/3 c neutral oil (I used rice bran oil)
½ c buttermilk
2 c flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 ½ c sugar
½ c cocoa

· Dissolve coffee in hot water
· Melt chocolate and butter together; stir in coffee
· Whisk together eggs, oil and buttermilk
· Stir in dry ingredients (I sifted the four and cocoa)
· Stir in coffee/chocolate mixture
· Spoon into cupcake cases and bake for about 20 minutes at 180c
When cold, ice with chocolate ganache (I use a ration of 3:1 chocolate to cream)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Taste of Yellow!

Barbara from Winos and Foodies is hosting an annual LIVE STRONG with a taste of yellow blog challenge. The idea is to create something yellow and blog about in order to celebrate those who have battled and are battling with cancer. Live Strong is promoted by Lance Armstrong who of course, had his own battle with cancer. Incidentally I saw him when we followed a bit of the tour de France in 2004. He is a machine!!

My aunty is actually battling cancer at the moment, but so far it looks like a successful battle!! She is just about to finish her chemo and the outlook is good!! Aunty Margaret lives in Dunedin, so she couldn’t get to eat the yellow food, but this blog entry is dedicated to her!

I debated for a while as to what to make for the taste of yellow challenge. Something lemony seemed obvious and we were having friends over for dinner on Saturday night, so I thought a lemony pudding would be good. Also, I wanted to use my ice cream maker again, so the perfect option was this lemon rice pudding with cinnamon ice-cream, a Ray McVinnie recipe from Cuisine.

For nibbles we had some lovely ciabatta with olive oil and pesto (store bought, Naked Organics brand – I love it!), some green olives I had roasted and marinated and little pastries using the one sheet of puff pastry I had left in the freezer, topped with quince paste and blue cheese.

For the main, I rubbed a large piece of Scotch fillet with balsamic vinegar and horseradish and roasted it in the oven and served it with red wine sauce, little crunchy roast potatoes (trick to these was using Agria potatoes – my favourite floury variety, lots of chopped rosemary and a sprinkling of semolina which gave a lovely crusty outside) and a rocket salad with spiced nuts, apple and a drizzle of walnut oil.

Then for the yellow food! Pudding was delicious. The rice pudding was a baked one and had lots of lemon zest plus lemon juice drizzled over at the end. I had only made rice pudding in a pot before and I think once in little ramekins in the oven. I remember my grandma making baked rice pudding and sago in the oven and I always used to hate the skin that formed on top. I tried to stir my pudding a lot so that it didn’t form a really obvious skin. The pudding was lovely – the rice had melted into the mily custard and the cinnamon ice-cream was the perfect accompaniment. The recipe called for half milk and half cream, but I used all whole fat milk.

The ice-cream was a basic egg yolk, cream and milk mixture except you didn’t have to cook the custard before churning. The addition of cinnamon was delicious. To serve with the pudding, I drizzled over some of this delicious cinnamon and apple syrup which I bought at the Lyttleton farmers market last year. The lovely lady who makes the syrup also does a selection of other delicious syrups, jams and pastes and markets them under the name peninsular preserves. The syrup is absolutely delicious, capturing the flavour of cinnamon apples in a liquid! Really beautiful on the ice-cream even without the rice pudding!

Unfortunately I didn’t get a good photo of the finished result, but if you look at the recipe on the cuisine web site you will see a lovely photo and that is just what mine looked like.

Thanks also to Morven from Food, Art and Random Thoughts for sending me the yellow LiveStrong bracelet!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

TWD - the marshmallow catastrophe

This week’s TWD recipe was marshmallow. Even though I have made marshmallow before (in fact quite recently I made rose marshmallow to fill my rose cupcakes for the marshmallow cupcake hero), Dorie’s recipe had caught my eye in the past as in the photo there was chocolate marshmallow which sounded pretty jolly good. Except, this marshmallow was nothing like I had hoped. Actually, this may be the first Dorie recipe that I have tried which I have not liked.

Ok, it was mostly my fault – I made the recipe and then realised that I hadn’t put glucose syrup in the sugar syrup!! Yes, it was a big day in the kitchen, but no excuses for not reading the recipe properly! The other issue was with my gelatine. The recipe said 2 x ¼ ounce packets of gelatine. We don’t have imperial in NZ and my gelatine was in a bag, not sachets. I kind of figured that there is 25 –30g in an ounce, therefore ¼ of an ounce is about 7g. But instead of weighing it as I should have, I thought that would be about 1 tbsp, so went with that.

The meringue part actually came together quite well, but when I added the chocolate, the whole thing went runny (as I see happened to lots of other TWD bloggers). In my rose marshmallow recipe, you keep beating and beating the mixture until it is so thick it barely falls off the beater. I beat and beat my chocolate marshmallow (even though Dorie didn’t say to do that), but it didn’t thicken. Then I wondered if I hadn’t added enough gelatine, so I added about another teaspoon. In the end I just tipped the mixture into my tin and crossed my fingers.

The result is a fairly flat marshmallow that is a bit too set (my rose stuff was like eating clouds!). Probably too much gelatine – or does adding the melted chocolate change the texture too much? I don’t think that not putting the glucose in will have made a huge difference?? But I will be sticking to my rose recipe for marshmallow from now on. Then, to add insult to injury, my photos of the marshmallow are terrible – the one above is about the only half decent one!!! It is getting very autumny here now and we have had a couple of dark, stormy days – the lighting in the 1970s house is not great as I’ve said before – think I will need to get a spot light in for winter!!

My husband thought the chocolate taste was a bit odd - but I think it was probably the texture being a bit firm that was odd. I sent the marshmallow down to my 6 year old nephew and 4 year old niece in Christchurch - hopefully their palates aren't refined enough yet to know that this is less than great marshmallow!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

cake decorating - first class

Last week I did the first two nights of an intensive Wilton cake decorating course. This was course one for butter icing. There is a royal icing course and then a fondant one. I didn’t really know what to expect – I love baking, but I am not the most artistic person in the world and as you know by now if you have been reading my blog for a while, I tend to do things a bit quick!!!

Well, the first night was demonstration only - which I quite liked as it meant I didn’t have to display my inadequacies!! Then for Thursday night we had to make a cake, fill it with some kind of filling and then cover it in butter cream, ready to be decorated at the class. I decided to make Dorie Greenspan’s perfect pound cake which was one of the Dorie recipes that was baked before I joined TWD. The cake turned out well. A nice plain cake that was solid enough to be easy to ice. I filled it with thickened cream mixed with raspberry jam as that was really all I had in the fridge!

The next step was icing the cake with butter cream. I was kind of disappointed with how I did here – although shouldn’t really be for my first attempt! I did find out though, that I iced the cake in medium consistency icing when I should have used soft. You live and learn. My cake didn’t end up looking too bad, but next time I am aiming for a smoother surface.

Then, at the class I got to learn some decorating skills and decorated the cake. I don’t think it is too bad for my first attempt. Although my flower stems leave a lot to be desired – still, you know me, everything a bit quick!!! I quite enjoyed the decorating part and even in that one lesson I picked up a few tips that will help me out in the basic decorating that I do. I really enjoyed the class and am looking forward to next week.

I took the cake into work on Friday morning. It actually tasted really yummy as well. The cream and jam filling was yummy.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hay, Hay, It's clafoutis

The Hay Hay It’s Donna Day challenge for April was chosen by Bron Marshall ( a fellow Nzer). The choice was clafoutis, which is a French batter pudding traditionally made with cherries. I actually used the flavours that Bron suggested of plum and chocolate, as that was actually a Donna Hay recipe that I had spotted a while ago and had on my to do list to make.

On Monday night we had good friends up from Invercargill, so I made the clafoutis for pudding. Our main was Moroccan chicken with an orange and mint salsa from Dish magazine, with apricot and almond pilaf and rocket salad, then the clafoutis to follow. The clafoutis batter is made from a little bit of flour, eggs and cream. I always feel a bit funny about making things solely with cream, so I used lite cream and whole cream milk. Rather than fresh plums, I used canned plums and the batter is poured round the plums in a shallow dish. I then put chunks of chocolate into the batter and baked it.

The dessert has an interesting texture – you almost expect it to be sponge like, but it is actually quite dense. The chunks of chocolate were delicious little surprises – melting when the pudding was hot and lovely chunks when cold the next day. We had it with thickened cream, but it is just as nice eaten cold out of the fridge the next day! You can see the recipe on Bron’s blog.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Brownie for Fish

Last week my friend’s husband went fishing and Jenny brought me in some lovely fresh snapper (I pan fried it and we had it with a pea and mint pesto). As a thank you, I made Adam some brownie, which is his favourite.

I have my favourite brownie recipes (a recipe that I have made up myself that makes a large tray of brownie, a Donna Hay triple chocolate brownie recipe from her Flavours book, a white chocolate and macadamia brownie from the Cibo cook book and latterly the quintuple brownie recipe from Dorie Greenspan), but as I often do, I decided to try a new recipe. This time I used one from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries. He said that the brownie was a thick, sludgy brownie, which is just the kind of brownie that I like.

Except, I didn’t really like this brownie. It was almost too chocolatey, which is hard for me to say! I used Whittakers 70% chocolate and dutched cocoa – maybe I should have just used Cadbury cocoa? In any event, it wasn’t as good as I had hoped for. One thing that was very different in the recipe to others that I use (and of course as soon as the brownie wasn’t as good as I had hoped, I totally obsessed, finding every brownie recipe I had ever used and looking to see what the differences were!!), is that the butter and sugar were creamed together. With all my other recipes, and especially the top 4, you melt the chocolate and butter together, beat the eggs and sugar together and then mix everything together. I won’t be making Nigel’s version again – even though Adam thought it was great and is happy to trade fish for brownie again (as am I!).

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ramblings on apple cake and butter

My friend gave me a big bag of granny smith apples from her tree. I stewed most of them and we ate them with our porridge for breakfast last week, but I used some to make this walnut and apple slice. The recipe was one of those ones requested from a café in Taste magazine. The slice is very cakey with lots of sliced uncooked apples, walnuts and sultanas and lightly spiced with cinnamon and mixed spice. The cake was most delicious just warm out of the oven with a scoop of the left over dulche de leuche ice cream that I made a couple of weeks ago. But, it also kept quite well in a container in the pantry for a couple of days.

I was thinking about my lemon cream pie – I think the reason it is so yellow is because NZ butter is very yellow. I noticed when I made the butter cream for my perfect party cake, I couldn’t get a really white finish to the butter. I wonder if in the US butter isn’t as yellow as it is here?

Also, last night, I started the first night of an intensive Wilton cake decorating class. I am very excited. Last night was demonstration and then I have classes tomorrow night and two next week. Tonight I am making the cake I need to take with me to decorate tomorrow night. I think I will try Dorie’s perfection pound cake.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

TWD - lemon cream pie

The TWD challenge this week was lemon cream tart. This was absolutely divine! It was like a lemon curd pie, but rather than the butter of the curd added when cooking the curd, it was emulsified into the curd, like making mayonnaise.

I made my tart in two stages, as I wanted to take it down to Napier for the girls’ weekend. On Thursday night I made the lemon cream and the pastry. Lemons are not in season in NZ at the moment, so it is hard to find nice juicy ones. I had to juice about 7 lemons to get the right amount of juice. Dorie’s instructions regarding temperature of the curd were quite specific. I know that some other TWD bakers couldn’t get their curd up to the right temperature, but I had no problem, using a metal bowl which seems to be the key. The amount of butter in the curd was a little bit terrifying, but my lemon cream came together into a beautiful sweet but tart creamy mass.

The pastry came together really well, and my taste of the raw mixture confirmed that it was yummy – made with icing sugar, so sweet like shortbread. I took my cold lemon cream, uncooked pastry and tart tin down to Napier and assembled the tart on Saturday night. The tart dough rolled out beautifully and baked up lovely and crisp. The tart assembled looked divine and got rave reviews from my Mum and sisters. We had it with thickened cream. Another Dorie success!!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Girls' weekend in the Hawkes Bay

In the weekend I went on a Girls’ Weekend with my Mum and three sisters. We went to Napier, where two of my sisters live – Mum and my other sister flew up from Christchurch and I flew down. We had a great weekend and, as I usually do I did some baking to take with me – this is how I show my love to people!!!

One of the things I made was this macadamia nut ginger crunch. A few years ago my Mum told me about this delicious slice that she had in a café that was ginger crunch but had macadamia nuts in the icing. I set forth to re-create it for her and came up with this slice which she thinks is better than the original. It is pretty good and is now one of Mum’s favourites. One of the main problems I find with ginger crunch usually is that the icing is a bit mean – a thin scraping on the top, or the base is too crunchy. Even though it is called ginger crunch, I think a little bit of cakiness is essential.

To me, this recipe is perfect. The other thing I add to the base to give extra texture is some slivered almonds. When I made the slice on Thursday night I didn’t have enough slivered almonds, so I used some flaked which worked just as well. The almonds give the base a nice chewiness. I make the icing thicker than usual and I find and the addition of the macadamia nuts is inspired!

The weekend in Napier was gorgeous. Other foodie highlights included lunch at Te Awa Farm vineyard on Saturday, Hastings Farmers market on Sunday morning (I couldn’t get too much as I was flying home, but managed to buy quince, mini pumpkins, gorgeous fresh rosemary and some miniature heirloom tomatoes) and I met Stephanie Till, a gorgeous fellow foodlover who with her partner, creates the condimentum mustard range. I have “known” Stephanie through foodlovers and the occasional e-mail for a long time, but it was so wonderful to actually meet her!! She is a delightful lady and I look forward to meeting with her again next time I am in the bay – or when she is up in Auckland.

Mum’s Macadamia Ginger Crunch

200g butter
1 c brown sugar
2/3 c sliced or flaked almonds, lightly toasted
2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger

· Cream together butter and sugar
· Stir in rest of ingredients, press into a lined 23cm tin and bake at 180c for about 20 minutes.
· While still hot, spread over following icing

100g butter
180g golden syrup
3 tsp ground ginger
2 ½ c icing sugar
1 c chopped macadamia nuts

· Melt together butter and golden syrup
Stir in rest of ingredients. The icing will be quite thick

Friday, April 4, 2008

cupcakes for the fair

Last week one of the girls at work asked if I would make some cupcakes for her son’s school fair. I was very flattered of course and went home on Friday night to make cupcakes. I decided to do half girly and half for boys. I also made half vanilla, using the Crabapple bakery vanilla cupcake recipe that I have made before, and the other half, chocolate. Instead of using my favourite chocolate cupcake recipe, I tried out the Crabapple bakery recipe and it was great!! I need to use this book more often. The cake wasn’t too rich (which I thought was a good thing given my target market of kids!!!) and had a lovely light texture. Kids would love them, as would adults.

I decorated the boys’ cakes with blue icing and the girl’s with pink (of course!!). I used little blue wrappers for the boys and Disney princess wrappers for the girls, then decorated them with decorations that I made with coloured fondant (my new favourite way for decorating) – hearts and flowers for the girls and stars for the boys. I cant think of anything more imaginative to decorate boys’ cakes – any suggestions?

I was really pleased with how the cakes looked and apparently they sold like hot cakes!!!

Crabapple Bakery Chocolate cupcakes (I halved this recipe and got 30 cupcakes)

3 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp instant coffee
1 c hot water
1 c cocoa
1 c cold water
200g butter
2 ½ c castor sugar
4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla

· Combine coffee and hot water, then add cocoa and cold water to make a thick liquid
· Cream butter & sugar, add eggs one at a time and then vanilla
· Sift together dry ingredients and fold into butter mix alternately with cocoa mixture
Spoon into cupcake cases and bake at 180c for about 18 minutes