Friday, May 29, 2009

Wedding Cake

Last weekend my friend, Teresa got married. She had asked me a few months before if I would make her wedding cake. Even though I said yes, I was a bit nervous as while I enjoy cake decorating, I am a complete amateur! The theme for the wedding was orange and pink and Teresa and Graeme wanted hearts on wires coming out of the cake. They also wanted a chocolate wedding cake.

I made the cake in a number of stages. The wedding was on Sunday afternoon, so on Wednesday last week I baked the bottom layer of the cake. The tin was a 26cm square tin and I doubled my cake recipe that I use for my 20cm square tin. The mixture makes a very deep cake and even without doubling it, my kenwood bowl is full, so I creamed the butter and sugar in my kenwood and then transferred the creamed mixture to a large bowl and mixed the recipe by hand. It was a huge task and actually the hardest part of making the cake.

On Thursday night I baked the top layer of the cake and then on Friday night I ganached both cakes. I need to practice getting my ganache a lot smoother though, as that is why the cake looks a little lumpy. Saturday afternoon I put the white fondant on the cakes and then on Sunday morning I assembled the cakes and put on the heart and dot shaped decorations. I put the hearts on wires (which I had made a week before) in the cake once we got it safely to the reception area.

The cake itself was delicious. I was kind of pleased with the overall look of the cake, but I was a little disappointed with the hearts on wires – in hindsight I should have cut the wires shorter. Never mind. I did have a lot of fun making the cake and it has inspired me to so more cake decorating, but I don’t think I will be in a hurry to be making another wedding cake!

The photos are fuzzy as I took them in a rush at the reception hoping no-one would see me taking a photo of the cake.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Daring Bakers - Apple Strudel

Better a day late than never. I was excited about this month’s Daring Baker challenge which was apple strudel. Strudel is not something that I would probably buy if I was choosing at the bakery, but my husband absolutely loves this kind of thing. Strudel does have fond memories for me of our trip to Europe five years ago.

It was a beautiful day when we drove from Munich to Salzburg. I am a die hard Sound of Music fan so I was very excited to be going to the city where the movie was based. We camped round Europe and had this wonderful book which advised the best camping grounds round Europe. We selected one and it was so picturesque! Perched on the hill above Salzburg, just as you would imagine Austria to be. Unfortunately about an hour after we pitched our tent, the clouds rolled in and it started to rain. And rain it did!. The whole two days we were in Salzburg it completely poured down. We ended up leaving the tent and renting a smelly old caravan in the camping ground – I was too scared to sit down it was so dirty.

Anyway, the point of this story is that one of the highlights of the trip to Salzburg was the apple strudel served in the camping ground restaurant. It was made on the premises and was a flaky, light, delicious pastry, so I was excited when this was chosen as a daring baker challenge as it gave me the chance to try my hand.

I imagine that there are all sorts of strudels that you can make other than apple. But as soon as I think of strudel I think of that apple strudel in Austria, so I decided to stick with the suggested apple and walnut. I’m not sure why I left it to the last minute to make my strudel, but I made the pastry for it on Monday night, resting it in the fridge over two days and then completing the strudel last night. To roll the pastry thin enough you rolled the dough on a floured table cloth (I used a tea towel). After rolling with the rolling pin, you stretched the dough by hand. I didn’t get mine as big as the recipe said, but it was still pretty thin.

The filling was toasted breadcrumbs (I guess to stop the filling leaking through the pastry), sliced apples, walnuts, cinnamon and sugar. The strudel was then rolled and baked in a crescent shape. My biggest regret was not having any vanilla ice cream to eat the warm strudel with, as that would have been the perfect accompaniment! I loved the strudel – perhaps not quite as good as the one we had in Salzburg, but still pretty good! My husband loved it too. I even tried a little bit cold from the fridge this morning and it was delicious.

I also loved this challenge as to me this is what the Daring bakers is all about – trying out new things that I wouldn’t necessarily do by myself. Check out how the other Daring Bakers did here.

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caf├ęs of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Daring Baker challenge to come tomorrow...

Today is meant to be my posting date for the Daring bakers May challenge, but I have been a very slack daring baker of late and I intend to finish off my challenge tonight. I figure that when I am posting on the morning of the 28th in NZ, it is still the 27th for most of the Daring Bakers in the rest of the world!!

So, I thought I would share with you these cookies that I made last week for a staff member’s birthday, and also the lovely dinner we had on Monday night. The cookies are simply shortbread, which I iced with white royal icing and then did a purple swirl on top. So simple, but very effective, I think. They tasted good. I find that shortbread holds up to the icing and the cookies don’t soften as much as when you use cut out cookie dough.

Dinner on Monday night was chicken. I baked the breasts in the oven with a crumb topping made with fresh breadcrumbs, chopped olives, parmesan cheese and basil. We had them with a potato and pumpkin gratin (thinly sliced pumpkin and floury potatoes layered with chopped garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper, covered in chicken stock, sprinkled with grated cheese and baked for about an hour) and peas. The peas were frozen peas that I cooked, then stirred through torn mint leaves, crumbled feta and a drizzle of good olive oil. The meal was lovely, but my favourite part was actually the peas. Adding the feta, mint and olive oil took them to a new level and made a very humble vegetable the stand out portion of our dinner.

Daring baker challenge tomorrow – I promise!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

TWD - Chipster Topped Brownie

This week’s TWD recipe is chipster topped brownie and was chosen by Beth of Suppilicious. This is one recipe that I have had my eye on for a very long time and was a good one to make with my chocolate loving sister coming up for the weekend! The chipster topped brownie has a brownie base and a chocolate chip cookie topping. Kind of like having your cake and eating it too! Before I read the recipe properly I thought that this may be a brownie with blobs of cookie dough throughout it, but it actually has a complete cookie layer on top.

I halved the recipe to make a 20cm square brownie. The brownie layer is a fairly usual brownie layer, although it wasn’t as dark chocolatey as I usually like my brownie to be. But, I realised after adding the cookie layer and baking the brownie, that the less rich chocolate brownie layer was perfect with the biscuity topping.

My first bite of this brownie, I wasn’t 100% sold. But, everyone else loved it, so I braved a second piece and it was delicious! I think it improved with age. I think it is more picnic than dessert food, but this was a fun recipe to make as the novelty factor was high. See what the other TWDers thought here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness Breakfast

A couple of weeks ago at work we had a breakfast to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. We had a breakfast last year as well and have decided to make it an annual thing. We do it pretty simply, serving fruit platters and croissants filled with ham and cheese. I also made these little cupcakes. They were little coconut cupcakes which I added pi9nk food colouring to, so they were actually pink inside. I iced them with cream cheese icing and made the little pink ribbons out of fondant. I was actually delighted with how they turned out.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A childhood favourite

Yesterday I posted about the lunch we had with friends on Sunday. There was another component to the lunch, but I think they deserved a posting all to themselves. To go with our soup and soda bread I made ginger gems. Ginger gems were a staple when I was growing up. Mum had a pair of gem irons and ginger gems were her thing. They are like little muffins, but way better, as you heat the gem irons before you put the mixture into them, meaning that the edges of the gems crisp up. Gems made in muffin tins just aren’t the same!

I bought a gem iron a couple of years ago, right before we packed up our stuff when we moved. I think I only used them once before they were packed up. I unpacked most of my kitchen on Friday and found my gem irons, so thought I would put them to good use over the weekend. There is room for 12 little gems in a gem iron. Mum’s recipe makes 24 gems, so I halved the recipe and it was perfect. These are at their best hot out of the oven spread with butter which deliciously melts into the gems. The other thing I like about the gems is their size – muffins can sometimes be way too big, but gems are the perfect delicate size.

It is crucial that if you make these using a gem iron, you heat the iron as you pre-heat your oven. Grease the gem irons well before putting your mixture in. I do that by using a pastry brush and a knob of butter. Be careful though as the gem iron gets incredibly hot, as it is cast iron. I burnt my thumb quite badly taking mine out of the oven with a slightly damp tea towel – note to self, use the lovely new oven mitt you bought!

If you haven’t tried good old fashioned ginger gems before, you must!

My Mum’s ginger gems

120g butter
1 c sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp golden syrup
2 ½ c flour
1 dsp mixed spice
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp baking soda dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water in a cup and fill the cup up with milk

• Pre-heat oven to 180c, putting gem irons in oven to heat as you make the mixture
• Cream butter and sugar, then add golden syrup then egg
• Stir in rest of ingredients.
• Take out hot gem irons and brush with melted butter
• Spoon batter into gem irons and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden
• These come out of the gem irons really easily if you tip them out as soon as they come out of the oven

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Friends for Lunch... finally!

We had friends for lunch on Sunday – yes, the entertaining is starting to happen again! I just wanted to do something simple and ended up making pumpkin and cashew nut soup with home made soda bread. I also made the raspberry crumble cake above for afters.

I love pumpkin soup and I loved the look of this pumpkin soup which was in the “at your request” section of Cuisine magazine some time ago. The soup was a spicy one, (but not too spicy) with a base of onions, garlic, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. You then added pumpkin, sweet chilli sauce, water and coconut cream, simmering until the pumpkin was tender. The mixture was then pureed with toasted cashew nuts. Well, that is my simplified version anyway. The original had a much more complicated spice mix, but I found that what I did worked well.

I love home made brown bread and for quite a while I always used to have a loaf of brown bread, which I made from a recipe from a lady whose B & B we stayed in in Tipperary in Ireland, in the freezer. It is delicious with tomato relish and cheese. But I don’t seem to eat as much these days. On the first episode that I watched of Rachel Allen, Bake, which inspired me to buy her book, her cooking school students made soda bread. So I decided to use her recipe to make some brown bread to go with the soup. Soda bread is ridiculously easy to make and this recipe made a fabulous loaf. I used linseed instead of sesame seeds and they gave a wonderful nutty texture. You can find the recipe here.

And last, but definitely not least is the raspberry crumble cake. Another recipe fm Rachel Allen, Bake, this is the third thing I have made from this book and all have been successes. Her recipe is actually for a cherry crumble cake, but I think it is sacrilege to cook fresh cherries (despite the fact that they are out of season here) and it is really hard to find frozen ones – actually I have never been able to. So, I used frozen raspberries instead. This cake is so simple – an easy melt and mix one egg recipe, that results in a lovely not too light and not too heavy sponge, studded with raspberries and then topped with a light crumb. I served this slightly warm with thickened cream and loved it. This is a great make it fast, stand by cake which I thoroughly recommend.

Raspberry Crumble Cake (adapted from Rachel Allen, Bake)

150g self raising flour
½ tsp cinnamon
50g sugar
1 egg
30ml milk
100g butter, melted
1 c frozen raspberries

• Combine flour, cinnamon and sugar.
• Whisk together egg, milk and butter and stir into dry ingredients
• Spoon batter into a lined 20cm round tin and scatter the raspberries over the top
• Make a crumble mixture by rubbing 25g butter into 25g flour, ¼ tsp cinnamon and 25g sugar
• Sprinkle crumble over the top and bake at 180c for 30-35 minutes

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TWD - Fresh Mango Bread

This week’s TWD is fresh mango bread and was chosen by Kelly from Baking with the Boys. I must confess that I didn’t used fresh mango, but used canned instead. I don’t seem to have a lot of success with buying mangos – they are often bruised and I don’t seem to be able to get enough flesh off the stone, so canned often does the trick for me.

The mango bread is a sweet loaf. I halved the recipe and made 8 mini loaves. I actually found the batter quite stiff and I did add some of the juice from the can of mangos to loosen up the mixture – maybe that is why mine were more loaf like than bread like? The loaves were spiced with a little ground ginger and cinnamon. Not too spicy, just a gentle hint of spiciness in the background. The verdict? Nice, I guess – not earth shatteringly delicious, but very nice. I ate one of the loaves last night and the rest are in the freezer for my husband’s lunches.

See what the other TWDers thought here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The yummiest pudding

Wednesday was my husband’s birthday. I normally make him a cake, but this year with one thing and another I didn’t – he did say he didn’t want one, but that is no excuse! He also wanted me to cook his favourite meal rather than go out for dinner, so we had nibbles of smoked mussels with fabulous bread and oil, a main of pork fillet with a roast vegetable salad of kumara, red onions, carrots and baby spinach, with roasted apples and pudding was his favourite apple crumble.

I wanted to make the apple crumble a little bit special, and a while ago I found this Rachel Allen recipe for toffee, apple and almond crumble. You make a caramel sauce which you mix in with the apples, then top with a buttery, almondy crumble topping. Absolutely delicious. I love apple crumble too – but I like the crumble far more than the apple part, not being a huge lover of stewed fruit! Caramel sauce was a great addition too. The last time I made fruit crumble, I followed Annabel Langbein’s advice to make double the crumble mixture and freeze half for another time. But I ended up throwing the frozen half out, as I couldn’t stop myself from going to the freezer and eating the frozen, raw crumble mixture.

This toffee apple pudding is possible one of the most delicious puddings I have ever tasted. I really do recommend it. We had it with yoghurt which was fabulous. Cream would also be good. You can find the recipe for the toffee apple crumble here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

An Apple for the Teacher

Just a quick post today. My darling little niece telephoned me last week to ask if I would make some cookies for her teacher (she did this completely off her own bat – my sister knew nothing about it!). So in the weekend I made these cookies – an apple for the teacher was the theme.

I am so pleased with how they turned out. Piper loved them too and I hope her teacher did :0)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Autumn cakes and salad

I made these little apple cakes in the weekend. I had intended to make them for hospice, but they didn’t really look pretty enough to give away. I used a recipe from Allyson Gofton’s book Bake for apple and walnut cake. I left out the walnuts and just made little apple cakes. The recipe is a very simple one – no creaming of butter etc. It is meant to be made into a large square cake, but I halved the recipe to make 6 little cupcakes. I have put the cakes in the freezer for my husband to take in his lunch. They are good every day cakes, but I guess you could dress them up with icing sugar and a dollop of whipped cream and serve them warm for a pudding. I havent given the recipe because I am not sure that I would make these again.

I love pumpkin and of course this is the time of year when they are in season and abundant. I particularly like roast pumpkin salads. Last night we had fish for dinner which I oven roasted with a crumb made from panko crumbs, capers, pine nuts and parmesan. To go with it I made a pumpkin and feta salad, simply by roasting pieces of pumpkin until tender, cooling a little and then tossing with crumbled feta and baby spinach leaves. I tossed the salad with a very lemony dressing made with the juice of half a lemon, 1 tbsp good olive oil and the chopped flesh of a ¼ of a preserved lemon. The preserved lemon went really well with the sweetness of the pumpkin and saltiness of the feta. It also gave good texture.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TWD - Tartest Lemon Tart

This week’s TWD recipe was chosen by Babette of Babette Feasts and is tartest lemon tart. This tart is amazing! It is probably the best lemon tart I think I have ever made. You use a whole lemon which gives the most amazing lemony flavour, hence the name, tartest lemon tart! I made only 1/3 of the recipe which made three 8cm tartlets.

The shortcrust pastry was Dorie’s shortcrust pastry with nuts. I used ground macadamia nuts for my pastry. This worked in well with the lemon filling. I rolled out enough dough to line my three tart tins and then wrapped the rest well and froze it for another day. I have become a bit lazy lately with baking blind. Partly because my baking beans are still packed away somewhere and I truly have no idea where they are! So instead of baking blind, I pricked my pastry with a fork and then froze it before baking. I think doing this does help the pastry not to rise up, which is one of the reasons for baking blind.

The lemon filling is a delicious mixture of whole lemon, egg, sugar and cream whizzed up in a food processor. While I have made cakes and muffins where you use a whole orange, this was the first time I had used a whole lemon in a recipe. It was great because often I find lemon puddings not quite lemony enough for my tastes. But this was perfect.

I served the tarts with natural yoghurt, but I actually think they would have been nicer with sweetened whipped cream, as the tartness of the tart, would really be able to take the sweetness. But, my verdict (and that of my husband’s) is great tart – would definitely make again!

See how the other TWDers did here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Miracles for Hospice

These little cakes that I made for hospice this month are called Miracles. The recipe came from Ladies, A Plate. The cakes are little chocolate cakes with a spoon of raspberry jam in the middle and iced with chocolate icing. They are very simple little cakes – not as rich as many of the cupcakes I make and they last in the tin for a few days.

These little chocolate cakes are what my great Aunty Jean used to make. Aunty Jean was Dad’s aunty, a very sweet lady who was a lovely baker. One of her specialties was these cakes. I cant remember whether Aunty Jean called them miracles or not (the miracle being that there is a spoon of jam in the centre!), but this recipe is very similar to the one she made. Aunty Jean would sprinkle the iced tops with chocolate hail or hundreds and thousands. I don’t like jam and so she would make a few for me without the jam, sprinkling the tops of mine with chocolate hail and the jam ones with hundreds and thousands, so I would know which ones were mine.

These are a lovely, old fashioned treat. Aunty Jean’s icing was less of a swirl, but I wanted to make mine look a bit more special for hospice.

Miracles (from Ladies A Plate)

170g flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cocoa
115g sugar
115ml milk
1 tbsp golden syrup
½ tsp baking soda
1 egg
55g butter, melted
Raspberry jam

• Warm milk, syrup and baking soda together until the mixture froths up
• Stir in dry ingredients, then the lightly beaten egg and butter. Mix well
• Spoon into cupcake cases and bake for 12-14 minutes at 180c
• When cold, cut a small pyramid shape out of the top of each cake and fill with ½ tsp raspberry jam. Pop lids back on top
• Ice with chocolate icing made with icing sugar, cocoa, 1 tbsp butter and hot water

Friday, May 8, 2009

A steamed pudding to start Winter

It’s always nice to have pudding when you have people staying. It seems to make the occasion of eating dinner, more of an event. So most nights while my in-laws have been here, we have had pudding (we ate the TWD tiramisu cake for a couple of nights!). On Wednesday night I made meatballs with a tamarind sauce and pilaf from Bill Granger’s latest book which I treated myself to earlier in the week. I love Bill’s food – it is easy to prepare, simple and fresh, but still has Wow factor. The meatballs were great and the tamarind gave a lovely sharpness to the sauce.

I wanted to make something quick for pudding and looking through my recipe box, I spotted a recipe for golden syrup steamed pudding that I had ripped out of a Delicious magazine quite a while ago. The recipe comes from John Burton Race, a celebrity chef who I don’t really know a lot about. It is an incredibly easy recipe to prepare quickly (it took me about 5 minutes max to put it together). If you don’t have golden syrup, you could use treacle or honey. I don’t think I would use molasses as that would be too strong. Golden syrup is a pantry staple in New Zealand though, and golden syrup steamed pudding is a good old kiwi favourite.

I made four individual puddings using this recipe, and I didn’t bother properly steaming the puddings in a bain marie like I would if I had more time. They still worked perfectly.

Golden Syrup Steamed Pudding (adapted from John Burton Race in Delicious Magazine)

4 dsp golden syrup
175g self raising flour
75g butter
50g sugar
Zest of one lemon
1 egg
100ml milk

• Combine sugar, flour and lemon zest. Rub in butter (I find the best way to do this is to grate the butter into the flour).
• Combine the milk and egg and then mix into the butter and flour mixture
• Grease 4 small pudding ramekins and pop a dsp of golden syrup into each. Evenly divide the pudding mixture between the two ramekins. Cover the tops loosely with tin foil.
• Pop on a tray into a pre-heated oven at 180c and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
• Invert onto serving plates (I slip a pallet knife round them first to loosen) and served with whipped cream or ice cream

Thursday, May 7, 2009

You Want Pies With That - family favourite

This month’s You Want Pies With That theme was chosen by Rebecca at Ezra Poundcake and Mary from Alpineberry. The theme was to take a family favourite pudding and turn it into a pie. When I think back to when I was a child, my favourite (and I think the family’s favourite) was chocolate self saucing pudding. I didn’t really fancy that in a pie, so instead when for a rice pudding tart.

I made a simple shortcrust pastry, sweetened with icing sugar and enriched with egg yolk, baked it blind and then filled it with rice pudding which I had made, cooled, and then added a couple of eggs and some cream to make the filling more custardy and then hazelnuts and raspberries. I actually got the idea from a recipe in Dish magazine from a while back, so it is not a truly unique creation, but does encapsulate a family favourite pudding.

We had the tart warm with whipped cream on Saturday night for pudding and then cold with yoghurt on Sunday night. It would be a great tart to make ahead and you could vary the ingredients (almond and apricot, macadamia and blueberry etc).

Check out the other pies here.

Rice Pudding Tart (adapted from Dish magazine)

• Bake blind shortcrust pastry rolled to fit a tart dish with a removable base (I used a square on)
• Fill with the following filling, then bake at 180c for a further 30 minutes or until the filling is set.

50g Arborio rice
1tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
¼ c sugar
2 c milk
1/3 c cream
2 eggs
70g chopped hazelnuts
Raspberries to decorate top

• Combine the rice, vanilla, sugar and milk and simmer over gentle heat until a rice pudding consistency is met, stirring every now and again. Cool
• Lightly beat eggs and add to the cooled rice with the cream. Stir in the hazelnuts. Put the filling into the pastry case, dot the top with raspberries and bake as above

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fruit Salad Loaf

After making a meatloaf last week that only required a small can of crushed pineapple, and only having a medium sized can of crushed pineapple, I had about half a tin of crushed pineapple sitting in a container in the fridge. Quite some time ago I spotted a recipe in Dish magazine for Fruit Salad Loaf which had only ¼ c of crushed pineapple in it – perfect! The fruit salad aspect of the loaf is that as well as the pineapple, it had a mashed banana, chopped dried apricots and orange juice and zest. The loaf was drizzled with icing sugar mixed with lemon juice.

This loaf was delicious. It is really moist and lasts in the tin for about 4 days according to the recipe – mine didn’t last that long as it was well and truly eaten before then. Well worth making if you end up with a little crushed pineapple and a manky banana in the fruit bow.

Last night’s dinner for my in-laws was a chicken, spinach and pasta bake. I had a really busy day at work yesterday, so wanted to make something quick and easy. I bought a rotisserie cooked chicken on the way home from work, cooked some pasta, made a cheese sauce and combined the lot with home made cheese sauce (a roux with grated cheese added), and baked the lot in the oven – a bit like macaroni cheese. We had it with a green salad and crusty bread.

And fingers crossed there will be photos of a completed kitchen next week!!!

Fruit Salad Loaf (Dish magazine)

150g butter
175g sugar
175g flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp mixed spice
3 eggs
Zest and juice of one orange
8 dried apricots, thinly sliced
¼ c well drained crushed pineapple
1/3 c mashed banana

• Cream butter and sugar
• Beat in eggs, one at a time
• Add the remaining ingredients and stir until just combined
• Pour into lined loaf tin and bake at 180c for 45-50 minutes or until cooked through
• When cold drizzle with a thin icing made with icing sugar and lemonjuice

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

TWD - Tiramisu Cake

This week’s TWD recipe was chosen by Megan of My Baking Adventures and is Tiramisu cake. The cake is a two layer cake, each layer being soaked in a coffee syrup and then joined together and topped with mascarpone mixed with whipped cream. And, if that’s not decadent enough, there is a layer of chopped chocolate between the two sponge layers.

Tiramisu is not my favourite dessert – I don’t like coffee. This cake had some great qualities though! Firstly, the cake itself made a perfect little cake (I halved the recipe and used my 6inch round tin). I made the cake on Sunday and filled it last night. It was a lovely cake – sponge like, but solid enough to take a robust filling. I didn’t put the alcohol into my syrup (Dorie recommended using kahlua, brandy or similar), mainly because we now live in a 3 level house and the alcohol is all on the lower level and I was too lazy to run down the stairs (I’m not usually this lazy – I went for a 9km run this morning!). I also didn’t want an over bearing alcohol flavour – I put too much brandy in the Christmas trifle and no-one would eat it except me. I loved the chopped chocolate in the middle.

Dorie suggested decorating the cake with chocolate coated coffee beans. I was putting the cake together last night at about 9.30 for my in-laws to have a piece with their supper and wasn’t feeling overly inspired to decorate the top, so I left it nude. But I bet lots of the other TWDers made their cakes look gorgeous – check them out here.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Baking for the in-laws

My husband has been project managing our new house for the last seven months, but is back to work today. We still have a few tradesmen floating round the house, so my in-laws have come up for the week to keep an eye on them. Which gave me the opportunity to do some baking, as a good daughter in law always has some nice treats in the tins!

I thought I would make something from my new Allyson Gofton book, Bake, and one of the first recipes that appealed to me when I first flicked through the book was for Persian Rice Biscuits. The biscuits resemble yo-yos or melting moments, but are made entirely with rice flour and are flavoured with rose water and ground cardamom. The cookies are joined together with a butter cream icing flavoured with rose water. The result is delightful, melt in your mouth cookies which I imagine would be perfect with a cup of coffee (I don’t drink coffee, so that is why I am imagining). These wee cookies would make a wonderful gift.

Last night I made lamb shanks for dinner and I did them differently to normal, using a recipe from Dish magazine. You make a paste of Dijon mustard, honey and soy sauce, smear on the lamb shanks, bundle the lamb shanks into individual parcels using baking paper and string and bake at 150c for 3 hours. I love lamb shanks when the meat is just falling off the bone, so I cooked mine for closer to 4 hours. They were delicious and the clean up was really easy as all the mess was in the paper. We had them with mashed buearegard kumara and broccoli with cheese sauce.

Persian Rice Biscuits (Allyson Gofton – Bake)

250g butter
½ c icing sugar
2 c rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tbsp rose water

• Cream butter and sugar,. Then mix in rest of ingredients
• Roll into small balls and flatten with a fork.
• Bake at 160c for 15-20 minutes until firm and light golden
• When cold join together with buttercream icing made with butter, icing sugar and a few drops of rose water

Friday, May 1, 2009

Thursday night Frittata

Thursday night dinners are usually an easy meal for us – more often than not something like pasta or a frittata using up leftover bits in the fridge. I know that a true Italian frittata is a delicate egg concoction cooked on the stove top and finished in the oven, but frittata is the best word I know to describe the more robust egg dish I make.

Last night was a frittata night. I usually make my frittatas but placing all the vegetable, meat and cheese components of my frittata in the bottom of my oiled dish, then topping with 6 eggs beaten with a little milk and baking at 200c for 20-25 minutes until set. Last night I very loosely based my frittata on one that was in Dish magazine a while back. I softened a sliced red onion and some garlic and then added to that some grated potato, cooking this mixture slowly for about 10 minutes until the potato was mostly cooked through and a little crispy. I then put that in my baking dish, topped it with strips of roasted red peppers, stoned black olives, a chopped tomato, a jar of drained, chargrilled artichokes and chunks of feta. I then poured over 4 eggs beaten with 1/3 c milk and ½ c grated parmesan and baked for 20 minutes.

The frittata was delicious. We had it with some of my home made red pepper sauce and a glass of Sauvignon blanc. The perfect Thursday night dinner.

By the way, my husband loved the cookie carnival lemon slice!! And the piece I tasted last night did taste better than it did when it was first made - maybe it improves with age?