Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Bakers - August Challenge

It’s that time again – the August daring bakers challenge is un-veiled and I must apologise for the ugliest looking dobos torte you have ever seen. It tastes good though.

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful
of Sugar
and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos
Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. Lorraine is one of my favourite bloggers, but her pick and I didn’t really agree.

The dobos is a layer cake – each layer is a light sponge filled with a chocolate buttercream filling. The difference with the dobos torte is that the final layer has a layer of toffee poured over it. It also has crushed hazelnuts pressed on the sides and whole hazelnuts prop up the little toffee shards on the top of the cake. Instead of making one or two cakes and slicing into layers, you make each of the cake layers individually. I halved the recipe and made much 15cm round cakes. The cake layers were fairly easy – sponge cakes really. The real recipe was for buttercream made with eggs, but the eggs were undercooked and one of my eaters is pregnant, so I made a simple chocolate buttercream using the mock cream recipe in the Edmonds book and adding cocoa powder.

I am not sure what happened with my toffee. It went a nice dark toffee colour, but maybe I didn’t take it far enough as it didn’t crisp up like toffee at the end. I just don’t think I have the patience to be a pastry chef. I adore baking and I have fun decorating cakes in my own rather non-creative way, but attention to detail for something like the dobos torte is lacking a bit.

On the bright side my husband loved this cake. I thought it was ok, but then I like pretty plain cakes and am not huge on lots of filling – unless it is whipped cream!

Have a look here and you will more than likely see what a real Dobos Torte looks like when you check out the other Daring bakers’ tortes.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

TWD - Creamiest Lime Cream Pie

This week’s TWD recipe was picked by Linda of Tender Crumb and is Creamiest, Lime Cream Pie. I was fortunate enough to be given a bag of limes a few weeks ago. I preserved most of them but have also kept some in the fridge where they keep for ages. I used some of them to make this pie.

We didn’t really have call for a large pie in the weekend, so I divided the recipe in half. I also had a piece of Dorie’s pie crust in the freezer from another recipe and there was enough there to make three individual pies. The lime cream is essentially a lime curd, made in a double boiler. You whisk your eggs, sugar and lime juice and zest over simmering water until it becomes thick and reaches 180F. You then let it cool a little and then blend (I used a food processor), adding lumps of softened butter as you go. My lime curd wasn’t as creamy as others would have been as I practically halved the amount of butter stipulated in the recipe. I just don’t think that the curd needed that butter, and my husband was watching me make it and was horrified at the amount of butter going into that curd!

There was also meant to be ginger in the curd. Lime and ginger do go really well together, but my husband doesn’t really like ginger that much, so I actually left it out and went for a pure lime cream pie.

The topping is a simple meringue which is then grilled. I hadn’t used the grill function in my new oven before and over browned the tops of my pies a little as I over estimated how long it would take. I loved this recipe. I loved the tanginess the limes gave to the curd – not quite as sweet as lemon curd and I loved the fluffy marshmallow topping. I took two of the pies into our neighbours for their supper and my husband and I shared the third for our pudding. I also have a little lime curd left in the fridge which I think I will probably just eat straight from the fridge with a spoon over the next couple of days.

See what the other TWDers thought here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hazelnut & Cinnamon Truffles

My sister gave me a bar of whittakers milk chocolate with hazelnuts. I love nuts and I love chocolate, but not together, so the chocolate had been waiting in the scullery for the opportune time to be used. (I eat the chocolate off scorched almonds and throw the almond out, even though I love almonds ordinarily by themselves). We were invited to a party on Saturday night which was one of those “no presents” parties – I personally will never have one of those!! I don’t count home made truffles as a present, so I used the milk hazelnut chocolate to make some truffles.

There was a recipe in a Donna Hay magazine a while ago for hazelnut and cinnamon truffles. I used this idea as a base, melting the 250g block of hazelnut chocolate with 100ml cream and 1 tsp cinnamon. Actually, I heated the cream in the microwave and then stirred it into the chocolate and cinnamon. I left the mixture in the fridge over night to set up (if you were doing the whole lot in one day, it would probably take about 3-4 hours to set up), rolled into balls using a melon baller and then rolled the balls in cocoa. So easy and so yummy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rocky Road Brownie

There hasn’t been much action on my blog this week – it has been a busy one. I mentioned that last weekend we went down to Taranaki to see my in-laws. As well as Dorie’s applesauce cake I made chocolate chippy biscuits and also this rocky road brownie. I am not a huge lover of rocky road. For someone who loves chocolate and very rarely finds anything too rich, I do find that rocky road can be a bit sickly. But it looks nice and is fairly easy to make.

The idea of having a brownie base with a rocky road topping was quite appealing. The recipe comes from an old donna Hay magazine. The topping called for 500g of chocolate which seemed a lot even by my standards! So I decided to halve the recipe to make it a bit more economical. And, to be honest I didn’t need to make such a huge quantity. The brownie layer is a bit more solid than the sticky kind of brownie I like, making it robust enough to carry the marshmallow, nut and chocolate topping. The recipe suggested almonds, but I used peanuts. I actually think that almonds would have been nicer. I imagine that this would be a great slice to make for a party as it looks fun with the pink and white marshmallows peeking through the chocolate.

Rocky road Brownie (adapted from Donna Hay recipe)

80g butter
½ c brown sugar
1 egg
½ c flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
¼ c cocoa (I used dutched cocoa)
40ml milk
50g dark chocolate, melted
250g dark chocolate, melted, extra
½ c roasted nuts of your choice
150g marshmallows, halved

• Cream butter and brown sugar, then beat in egg
• Stir in dry ingredients then milk and then first measure of melted chocolate
• Pour into lined 18x23 cm slice tin
• Bake at 160c for 25-30 minutes, then cool
• Once cool, spread with 2 tbsp of the reserved melted chocolate. Sprinkle over nuts and marshmallows and the spread over the rest of the melted chocolate. Leave to set and then cut into pieces.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TWD - Applesauce Spice Bars

This week’s TWD recipe is applesauce spice bars and was chosen by Karen of Something Sweet. We were away in the weekend at my in-laws in taranaki, so I made this slice (bar cookies are called slices in New Zealand) to take with us. However, as I was making it, I didn’t think that there was enough mixture to cover the base of the size tin that dorie suggested, so I made it in a 23cm square tin which resulted in more of an applesauce cake. I can see now that there would have been enough mixture and it would have turned out more like a slice if I had used the correct size tin.

Applesauce isn’t an everyday grocery item in NZ either, and I couldn’t find it at the supermarket, so instead I used a small can of pureed baby apples. This seemed to work really well. I left the sultanas out of the slice so it was just an apple and pecan slice. The caramel icing was delicious. The recipe said to pour the hot icing onto the slice, but I left mine to cool and thicken a bit. This cake was delicious. Everyone in Taranaki enjoyed it and it seemed to keep well. My photos are a bit woeful as the cake was made hurriedly on Thursday night and photographed in the dark early Saturday morning before we left for Taranaki.

See what the other TWDers thought here.

Friday, August 14, 2009

More Bill

Another Bill Granger recipe, this time, a most delicious pudding. We had friends over for dinner on Saturday night and I wanted to make a pudding that was easy but delicious. My favourite puddings are actually the old fashioned kind like chocolate self saucing and apple crumble, so I had a look through some books and found Bill’s recipe for Banana Butterscotch Pudding – a sort of banana and caramel self saucing pudding.

For the main we had roast chicken which I had butterflied by cutting down either side of the backbone to remove it, then spreading the chicken flat. If you’re not fussed about stuffing this is the best way to roast a chicken (this is actually the first time I have done it) as it only takes an hour and you get a really juicy, succulent bird. I rubbed the flesh and with a mixture of cayenne pepper, salt and ground cumin. I served it with a chickpea and baby spinach salad with a yoghurt dressing and rice pilaf.

The pudding really complimented the main. I actually found the pudding to improve a bit on sitting, as the caramel sauce firmed up a bit. This is a very quick and easy dessert to prepare and was great to be able to pop into the oven as soon as the chicken came out. I served it with thickened cream, but it would be great with ice cream. You can find the recipe here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

After watching Bill Granger’s tv programme on Food TV, I have started using his books more and more. I have all the books, buying his first book, Sydney Food about 8 years ago and then buying each new book as it issued. Watching his programme reminded me of his simple but sophisticated approach – good clean flavours presented in a modern way.

Last week I wanted to bake some cookies for my cousin’s children, so looked in one of Bill’s books and found a recipe for peanutbutter chocolate chunk cookies. What I liked about these cookies is that they mostly relied on the peanutbutter for the fat content – there was very little butter in them. What I didn’t like about them is that they took half of a king size cake of dairy milk chocolate and in the week since I baked them I have nearly eaten the rest of the bar, which isn’t like me at all. Normally I can leave the chocolate in the cupboard mostly untouched!

I don’t think these cookies are as tasty as the ones I made from Baked! a couple of months ago, but they are a good everyday standard and great for kids as a lunch box filler.

Last night for dinner we had an interesting dish from the latest Diana Henry book. It was oven roasted fish which you top with a dressing made from anchovies, lemon juice, parsely and olive oil once cooked, and serve with a side of cannellini beans pureed with garlic, sautéed onion and lemon juice. It was really yummy. We had it with baked Maori potatoes (the variety that are purple inside) and green beans, blanched and then sautéed with garlic, almonds and lemon juice. A fairly easy mid week meal.

Peanutbutter and Milk Chocolate Cookies (Bill Granger)

150g brown sugar
40g butter
5 ½ tbsp peanut butter (I used crunchy)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
155g flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g milk chocolate

• Cream butter, peanut butter and sugar
• Beat in egg and vanilla
• Mix in flour and baking powder and then chocolate
• Roll into balls and flatten slightly
• Bake at 190c for 10-12 minutes or until golden

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TWD - Brownie Buttons

This week’s TWD recipe is brownie buttons and was chosen by Jayma of Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen. This post is also short and sweet :0) – little like the brownie buttons. I made the brownie buttons as part of my hospice baking for the month. I didn’t flavour them with orange zest as the recipe suggested. I also only had 4 squares of white chocolate in the cupboard (don’t know where the rest has disappeared to ;0), so had to dip 9or spread as I did) half with white chocolate and half with dark.

My husband and I each tasted one brownie bite and they were delicious, but for the extra hassle of cleaning a couple of mini muffin tins as opposed to a square base that you can line, I think I would rather make normal brownie and then cut it into cute pieces.

See what the other TWDers thought here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

It was time in the weekend to bake for hospice again. I made my Dorie challenge for tomorrow as part of my baking for hospice and then I made these 5 spice cookies. These plain little cookies are actually absolutely delicious, a real situation of don’t judge a book by its cover!

The cookies are really easy to make. The recipe is one of Fiona Smith’s from Cuisine and you can find it here. The recipe says to rub the butter into the four mixture. I actually used my preferred method of creaming the butter and sugar, adding the egg and golden syrup and lastly the dry ingredients. I also left out the cyrstallised ginger, mostly because I don’t like it all that much. I also only used 2 c flour – 2 ½ would have made my mixture too dry. Once the dough is mixed, you simply roll into a log – I tried to give mine squared off edges, chill, slice and bake.

The result is very crisp, deliciously spicy cookies. I left mine to cool on the tray which gives an extra crispness to gingerbread style cookies. These are nice by themselves, but especially delicious with cheddar cheese. My husband had some with quince paste and cheese but I thought just cheese was just perfect.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Belgium Biscuits

It was my parents’ wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago. One of my dad’s favourite biscuits is Belgium Biscuits, so I thought I would make Belgium biscuits with a twist by cutting the cookies into heart shaped for their wedding anniversary.

Belgium biscuits are spicy thin, crispish cookies sandwiched together with raspberry jam. You make the dough, roll it out thinly, cut into shapes (traditionally scalloped edged rounds), bake and then join together with jam. One side of the finished cookie is iced and then sprinkled with raspberry jelly crystals (you do that bit before the joining together).

The recipe I usually use to make Belgium Biscuits is one handed down from my great Aunty Jean. It is a great recipe with a dough that is easy to roll and cut. As I like to make different recipes, I thought I would make the recipe from ladies, a Plate. I was actually a bit disappointed with the recipe. The recipe has a higher ratio of butter and sugar than my usual recipe which made it very soft to work with. I refrigerated the dough before using, something I don’t normally do with Aunty Jean’s recipe. The cookies actually spread quite a bit on the tray so I re-cut them once they had cooled as they had completely lost their heart shapes. The finished cookies were a bit softer than I like and were quite buttery. Mum and dad said that they really enjoyed them, but I am going to stick with Aunty Jean’s recipe which I have given below as I think you will like the result better.

Belgium Biscuits

160g butter
160g brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp golden syrup (you could leave this out if you are in the US and it is hard to find)
180g flour
160g cornflour
1 dsp cocoa
1 ½ tsp each mixed spice and cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 scant tsp baking soda

• Cream butter and sugar and then beat in egg and golden syrup
• Mix in dry ingredients.
• Roll out dough thinly (5mm thick) and cut into rounds or desired shapes
• Bake at 180c for 14 minutes
• When cold, ice half of the biscuits with simple icing made with icing sugar and water (I like to tint mine a pale pink) and sprinkle with raspberry jelly crystals
• Join an un-iced base to an iced top with raspberry jam

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Chocolate Fudge

I don’t make fudge all that often, but this recipe from an old Julie Le Clerc magazine caught my eye a while ago. It is almost like chocolate Russian fudge. The recipe uses chocolate flavoured condensed milk which I am not even sure you can still get – I havent seen it in the shops for ages. I used ordinary condensed milk and added 1 ½ tbsp of cocoa to half a tin of condensed milk.

The trick to good fudge is to stir over a low heat constantly until all the sugar dissolves. This can take a very long time, but it is so worth it as it pretty much ensures that your fudge wont be grainy. Once the sugar in this fudge dissolved I found it didn’t take long to come to soft ball temperature. I used a candy thermometer to test, but I also did the true test of dropping a bit into cold water to make sure it makes a pliable ball. I found this fudge to be creamy and delicious and definitely worth making.

Last night for dinner we had free range boneless chicken thighs which I stuffed with chopped olives, wrapped in bacon and roasted. We had them with roast kumara and a mesclun salad with avocado and roasted almonds. I made my favourite dressing for the salad – ¾ tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp raspberry vinegar, 2 tbsp good olive oil and a pinch of salt, combined. I find that these quantities make enough to coat a salad for four. If you don’t have raspberry vinegar you could use red wine vinegar, or even lemon juice, but if you use lemon juice I suggest adding either a little sugar or about ½ a tsp of honey as the lemon juice can be quite tart.

Chocolate Fudge (adapted from Julie Le Clerc recipe)

60g butter
1 ¾ c brown sugar
50g dark chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp golden syrup
¼ c milk
200g condensed milk
1 ½ tbsp cocoa
½ tsp vanilla

• Place all ingredients other than the vanilla in a heavy based med- large saucepan
• Warm over a gentle heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved
• Increase the heat, bring to the boil and then simmer, stirring occasionally until the mixture reaches soft ball stage (either use a candy thermometer or test by dropping a small bit of mixture into cold water – it will form a pliable ball if at the right stage)
• Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla, then beat with electric beaters until thick and creamy
• Pour into a lined loaf tin and leave to set

NB. The above recipe is for a half recipe. If you double all of the above ingredients, use a 20cm square tin

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Auckland Food Show

The Auckland food show was held last week. This is an annual event that I have been to every year since it started, other than 5 years ago when we were in Europe. It is a great opportunity to go and speak with producers, sample new products and glean new ideas. In the past I have gone on the preview day which is the day before the show officially opens. The tickets cost a little more, but they limit the number of people and it is quite pleasant not having to beat the crowds.

This year my parents were up from Christchurch and I really wanted them to come with me, so I waited and went on the Friday after they arrived. We had a great time, although by the time we went to leave it was starting to get pretty crowded. Unfortunately over the years, the food show has become more and more commercialised. I think it must be the cost of having a stand – the smaller boutique producers just cant afford it. This year there were some great new products to sample, but mostly from the larger companies. Some of the stand outs for me included chai latte powder, rocket fuel sauce, vogels cereal clusters, donovans chocolates, Delish Cupcakes, Kohu Road golden syrup ice cream and French cherry preserves.

We also went to the Donna Hay cooking demonstration. This was the third time I have seen Donna Hay at the food show and it was actually the best demo of hers that I have seen yet. She was demonstrating recipes from her latest book, No Time to Cook and demonstrated chicken baked with feta and lemon, zucchini and mint pasta and a flourless chocolate cake. She was great and it certainly renewed my interest in her books (I have all of them and all of her magazines – I do love the simple style).

Did anyone else go to the food show and if so, what did you think?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

TWD - Classic Banana Bundt Cake

This week’s TWD recipe was chosen by one of my favourite bloggers, Mary of The Food Librarian. She chose the classic banana bundt cake. I was quite excited to be making a bundt cake – it is the first I have ever made. I didn’t own a bundt tin until Christmas last year when I was given a home store voucher for Christmas by my staff. One of the things I bought was a gorgeous red bundt tin in anticipation of someone choosing one of the bundt cakes in Baking, From My Home to Yours. No-one has chosen to make a bundt cake up until now and I haven’t made one “just because” either, so I was very excited to be able to use my tin.

I don’t make banana cakes very often as tired bananas usually get made into muffins in our house. This banana cake recipe was very straight forward with the only flavour other than banana, being two teaspoons of vanilla. There was a cup of sour cream or natural yoghurt (I used the yoghurt option) which gave the cake an extra tenderness.

My parents have been staying over the weekend and we were pretty busy, so I only ended up making the cake just before dinner on Sunday night. I loved how it rose up so high to completely fill my tin and then best of all, it slid from tin (which I had sprayed well with rice bran oil spray) with ease. We ate the cake in fat slabs, warm with natural yoghurt for our pudding. I didn’t ice the rest of the cake (Dorie suggests a lemon icing), but cut it into wedges, individually wrapped them in gladwrap, then froze in a large ziplock bag for my husband to take in his lunch instead of the usual muffin.

I loved this cake – it is a wonderful banana cake, but I also loved the opportunity to use my bundt tin. See if the other TWDers loved it here.