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03 December 2008

Caramel Cupcakes of Goodness

Its that time of the month again! Challenge time!!!!

Firstly I must apologise for being late. I had them baked, iced and even eaten by the due date but, with all the hectic rushing around I completely forgot to post! So here I am 4 days late. But hey, better late then never right?

This months challenge was Caramel Cake with Caramelised Butter icing from Shauna Fish Lyndon of Eggbeater. It was chosen by our lovely hosts Dolores, Alex and Jenny.

I decided to make mine gluten free and in cupcake form as they are easier to eat and hold their shape better sans gluten. If you wish to make these using wheat flour, just substitute the gf flour for g flour. These ones came out quite dense which everyone loved. Once of our coeliacs took one home to her sister, who then proceeded to lick the icing off in front of their mum, who was quite jealous.

Many other Daring Bakers said that the icing was way too sweet for them. As I'm really not a big fan of super sweet icings I started with the lower amount of caramel and added more cream for consistency. So I probably ended up with 30ml of Caramel and closer to 90ml of cream. Mine were possibly quite dense because I did everything except the icing by hand. Using electric beaters for the cake would have resulted in a lighter texture.

Still tasted pretty damn good though!

What to do with all that left over syrup.......


CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

142g unsalted butter at room temperature
280g granulated sugar
½ tsp/2.5 ml kosher salt
80ml Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
286g gluten free all-purpose flour (my preferred mix is store bought)
1/2 teaspoon/2.5ml baking powder
240ml milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F/176c/gas mark 4

Butter one tall (5-6/2 – 2.5 inch deep) 23cm/9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

CARAMEL SYRUP

450g cups sugar
120ml cup water
240ml cup water (for "stopping")
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
454g confectioner’s sugar/icing sugar, sifted
60-90 ml heavy/double cream
10ml vanilla extract
30-60 ml caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

17 November 2008

Cupcake advise needed

I've been toying with the idea for a while now of starting my own catering business. Most likely specialising in allergy friendly cakes and bakes as there seems to be a lack of people dealing with this specifically. I noticed this when helping with the catering for an engagement party and Mum's 50th earlier this year. There seem to be plenty of people who deal with wheat cupcakes but not that many who understand or a wiling to do gluten free, for example. We also found that the gluten free packet mixes are fine if eaten the day their baked but dry out really easily. They also don't come in a variety of flavours.

After having many lengthy discussions with friends who have allergies, and those that don't, we pretty much decided that I'd first need a definite product to market.

So my questions are this:

Is there actually a market an allergy friendly cupcakery?

What kinds of cupcakes do people enjoy? (flavours, size, etc)

10 November 2008

Christmas Lunch

So, I possibly did a stupid thing about an hour ago. I sent a massed email to a large group of friends advertising Christmas lunch at my place in a few weeks.

Why you ask?

For the last few years, a few friends have had a Christmas do. One group does a brunch, another spends the entire day together cooking and then we eat everything, and a third just doesn't do anything. As I'm working most weekends in December, and the one weekend I have off is filled with gigs, I decided to host my own.

Its going to be a very casual affair, eating outside (if the weather permits) byo lawn chair, as we have 4 chairs in the entire house, and everyone brings a plate to share. I'm not cooking for hoards in my little oven.

So its going to be a paper and plastic affair, there may even be a picnic rug spread out for some to sit on. Now to decide on what I'm going to bring.....

Damn, now I'm really going to have to clean the house properly!!

09 November 2008

The great chicken soup debacle

I went back to work last Wednesday with a sore throat and no voice. Thursday was spent at work putting the finishing touches on my presentation, giving the presentation, then lying on my office floor waiting for the headache to subside.

That's right, I had the flu/massive cold.

Now, I am the first person to admit that I don't do sick very well. If I really don't feel well and I'm left to my own devices, I tend to mope and sook. Distraction is the key to surviving.

Well that, Coldral and Chicken Soup.

The quest started on Thursday morning when I woke up, after dozing for 8 hours in 2 hour blocks, and left for work early with the intention of stopping at the supermarket and picking up some Coldral and Chicken Soup for lunch. I get there and there is NO Coldral to be found anywhere. Turns out its now pharmacy only. This left me with Ease a Cold. Turns out this stuff is all herbal. I had a presentation to give and needed the drugs!! As it was pretty much the only thing on offer, I took it and moved onto the soup.

Firstly, I HATE tinned soup. There's always this slightly metallic taste and its always way to salty for my liking. Luckily I knew I could get better in the pre-prepared section of the fridge. WRONG!! There was no soup to be found. In the end it was salad for lunch as the smell of anything else made me quite queasy.

Now I know what you're all about to say. Why didn't I just go to the pharmacy and make my own soup?? The answer is, it was 6:30am!!!

So after battling through a day at work, I went home at 7pm via a pharmacy, band (to drop of much needed paperwork) and another supermarket. I arrived home with Coldral and still no soup. Skipped tea that night and went to bed around 930pm.

Friday was a sick day.
I still really wanted chicken soup and a pot or tea. Preferably premade or someone else made, as I really wasn't up to doing anything other then lying on the couch and waiting for a kettle to boil and microwave to go ding. Somehow I ended up at the shopping centre, which has 3 supermarkets and numerous other food places, searching for chicken soup. I ended up with homemade stock from the poultry place, thigh fillets, corn on the cob, broccolli and noodles in order to make my own. There was also a visit to T2 for a teapot and green tea when I realised that I didnt actually own a teapot.

Not being able to find plain chicken, chicken and corn or chicken and noodle soup was very upsetting. I didn't realise how upsetting until I almost burst into tears in the tea shop.

Why is it that in a world where everything edible comes frozen, tinned, dried or pre-packaged into single/family sized portions where you just add water or reheat, you can no longer find a staple such a chicken soup!!!!!

My homemade soup was very tasty and there was enough for dinner tonight too!!

* 500mL liquid chicken stock
* 2 cloves garlic
* 2 chicken thigh fillets, diced
* peppercorns
* 1 corn on the cob
* half a head of broccoli
* udon noodles

Brown chicken and garlic. Add stock, a little more water, peppercorns and anyother seasonings you wish.. Bring this to a very slow simmer and leave until the chicken is cooked. In the meantime, dekernel the corn and chop the broccoli.
About 3 minutes before serving, add the corn, broccoli and noodles to the pot and slowly simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Serve

05 November 2008

Cup day Cupcakes

Cup Eve, Monday, was meant to be spent at the gym before attending the Russian Film Festival with D. Instead I got a phone call from D to say that his work was having a cup day cupcake competition and he needed help with the baking part of it. So because I am the awesome friend I am, I supervised his baking in my kitchen before the movie. He baked cupcakes whilst I cooked tea.

It was a very scrummy tea, easily made gluten free. Essentially a chicken, pasta and pesto salad. There are no photos but from memory it involved the following

grated carrot
avocado
capsicum
semi sundried tomatoes
olives
cucumber
pesto
lemon juice
wholemeal pasta
chicken

Cook pasta and chicken. I pan fry my chicken.
Every thing gets chopped and mixed together. Serve hot-warm.

The cupcake recipe is below. To make both these gluten free just use the gluten free versions of pasta and flour where needed!!


2 3/4 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
200g softened butter
1 3/4 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 170C. Line two 12 hole muffin trays with cupcake papers

Sift together the flour and baking powder. In a separate bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the caster sugar a third at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. After the last addition, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar had almost dissolved. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

Add a third of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add half the milk and beat until combined. Repeat this process. Add the remaining third of the flour and beat until thoroughly combined. Do not overbeat as this will toughen the mixture.

Spoon the mixture into cupcake papers, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before frosting.

Unfortunately we didn't win on looks but they tasted fantastic!!!

31 October 2008

Daring Bakers October Challenge and cake




Last Friday we celebrated a friends birthday by having a gluten free pizza night followed by a trip to the Spiegeltent. The pizza recipe used was this months Daring Bakers Challenge. The recipe can be found here. Seeing as it was a birthday party there had to be cake. The birthday girl's favourite cake is apparently a lemon cake with a lemon curd filling and whilst I have a recipe for a similar cake, coconut cake with lemon curd filling, she can't have coconut. So I did some googling and adapted the following from one found on insert random website here.

2 cups Gluten Free flour – make sure it isn't too heavy, otherwise it won't rise as well
1 ½ cups sugar
1 Tb baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ vegetable oil
7 eggs, separated
¾ cups lemon juice
2 tsp grated lemon rind
½ tsp cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 170ºC.

In a mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and add the oil, unbeaten egg yolks, lemon juice and zest. Beat on low speed until blended then turn the mixer to high and beat for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar until stiff.

Gently fold the batter into the egg whites until just blended

Pour into a large ungreased ring tin. If yours doesn't have feet then make sure you have a bottle around when it comes out of the oven. Ideally the tin would also have a removable base.

Bake for at least 65 minutes. Do NOT open the oven door until 55 minutes has past otherwise it will deflate. Mine too an hour and a half, turned after an hour and 10 minutes. My oven is old and fanless :-(

Remove from oven and immediately invert onto the feet. If using the bottle method, put the bottle through the hole. This is so the cake doesn't deflate whilst cooling. Let it cool until completely cold then run a knife around the edges to loosen it.

Dust with copious amounts of icing sugar and serve!!

Apparently, this gluten free cake tastes like real cake.

The pizza tasted fantastic!!! There were concerns about ending up with hockey pucks so some bases were obtained for a pizza shop as well as the phone number of the local gf pizza place. I left the dough in the fridge for two and a half days and was concerned that it wasn't rising like everyone elses was. This is possible due to there being no gluten in the bases.
Tossing was not an option. Instead they got pushed and prodded into a rough circle before being topped with everything from the traditional to the dessert. The dessert pizza was served before cake and was a base of nutella with sliced bananas and slivered almonds. After a trip to the oven they were topped with freshly sliced strawberries. Om nom nom nom.

Brownies





I have this habit. Some consider it a good habit, my waistline considers it a bad habit. Whenever I do a show, I bake. This time I managed to contain myself to only one lot of baked goods. Brownies. This has become my fall back, use over anything else, recipe. It transforms easily into gluten free, dairy free and nut free. If you're not a fan of banana, replace the banana with an equal amount of butter, and melt it in with the chocolate.

250g mashed banana
180g dark chocolate, melted
1 ¾ cups (385g) castor sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup (150g) flour
100g roasted walnuts
100g dark chocolate buttons or chunks

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Butter a 23 cm square cake tin and line it tightly with foil, making sure to push it right down into the corners. Butter the foil lightly, then line the base with baking paper. Set aside.

Add the sugar, vanilla and banana to the chocolate and use a balloon whisk to mix them well for 20 seconds or so. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one so it is completely incorporated before you add the next. Tip in the flour and stir until its well combined. Don't overdo the mixing once the flour is in otherwise the brownies will toughen up as it cooks. Gently fold in the walnuts and chocolate buttons. Scrape batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top by shaking gently.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a wooden skewer or toothpick comes out very moist. Not wet, but with moist crumbs clinging to it. When I last tried this recipe I was still getting used to my oven so mine too just over an hour and had to be rotated part way through.

Cool the brownies completely in the tin on a wire rack. If the middle sinks then press down lightly on the sides as it cools to even the top up.

Apparently this is easier to slice if you stick it in the fridge for 20 minutes before slicing and use a hot dry knife.

Apron of Goodness part 2

This is what I decided on as my apron print and I am very happy with it. the colour doesn't come out that well but its a cream background with cupcakes all over it. Very appropriate

Sticky Date Cupcakes - finally!!


Last I checked this one hadn't been posted yet so here it is.

These were made for my bands agm. The leftovers ended up being fed to mums coworkers and my friends. Very dense and have I mentioned yummy??


Sticky Date Cupcakes

450g dates, pitted and diced
2 ¼ cups water
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp bicarb soda
2 ½ cups gluten free flour
¼ tsp ground cloves
¾ tsp mixed spice
120g softened butter
1 1/3 cups castor sugar
4 eggs

Put the dates and water into a heavy-based saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium to high heat, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and add ginger and bicarb of soda. Sir until well combined. Cover saucepan with plastic film and let mixture cool to room temperature. This is best left over night to allow the dates to absorb more of the water.

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line three 12-hole muffin trays with 26 cupcake cases.

Sift together self-raising flour, ground cloves and mixed spice.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add half the castor sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Add the remaining sugar and beat for another 2 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar had almost dissolved.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until mixture is light and fluffy. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the four mixture until well combined. Fold in the cooled date mixture until thoroughly combined.

Spoon the mixture into the cupcake papers, filling each about ¾ s full. Bake for 20 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before frosting.

Caramel Sauce Icing

100g butter
2/3 cup soft brown sugar
¼ cup golden syrup
½ cream
8 cups icing sugar

Makes 4 cups icing – enough for 24 cupcakes

Combine the butter, sugar, golden syrup and cream in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up to high and boil for at least 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Add half the sifted icing sugar and beat on medium speed for 3 min until light and fluffy. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 min until light, fluffy and a spreadable consistency. If too dry then add a little extra cream or extra icing sugar is too wet.

22 October 2008

Apron of goodness

Apron was acquired!!
I am now the proud owner of a cloth apron, neutral beige background with cupcakes all over it!!!

Photos will be posted tomorrow hopefully as well as the recipe for my new favourite brownie. It is dairy free, gluten free and can even be nut free!!!

Not giving away anything except everyone loved them!!!

14 October 2008

What I lack as a baker

A decent apron.

I own one at the moment. It's a plasticy one that I'm not the biggest fan of. My favourite ones are cotton and have cute prints on them. There is always the option of buying the fabric and making one myself or finding one in the shop and buying it.

Decisions, decisions.

10 October 2008

I'm baack!!


This is late going up due to actually having stuff to do at work this week. Blogging wasn't really an option. So here is life a few weeks (over a month in the first case) late.

This first one wasn't actually one of my creations. My only contribution was adding the blue icing after a few drinks. A good friend of mine was going to the UK for a few months. This called for a going away bash. The hostess of the evening decided that a plane cake was in order. The very quickly became a map of the world with a plane pointing to his destination. A very simple butter cake with a standard buttercream icing. The only problem in cake creation was icing it after a few drinks...... We went with the standard green for and and blue for water. The land tasted quite minty and the ocean had a hint of strawberry to it. That caused a bit of taste bud eye confusion but it worked.

Below are photos of the finished product.......



As some are probably already aware, I'm a shift worker who regularly works the graveyard shift. The main problem I have is that if I don't prepare fo

r these shifts, it more often then not it means take out. My wallet does not enjoy this whilst tryi

ng to save for a Europe/USA trip at the same time. So I spent the last week Tuesday preparing for my 7 days or 12 hour shifts by cooking up a storm of buttermilk banana pancakes, chicken balls and potato frittata ala Eleanor. The banana buttermilk pancakes were taken straight from my favourite (read only) gluten free cookbook 'More gluten free and easy' by Robyn Russell. I purposely made them smaller then normal, this makes them easier to fit into the toaster for reheating. I ate these with the strawberry compote fro

m the same book. It was essentially strawberries and rosewater. The compote tastes best warm. Unfortunately, I left the leftovers at work. Luckily, my coworkers won't realise that they're there. I also baked the banana and coconut cake from this book. I can make savoury gluten free food, but struggle with sweet things that don't involve just substituting gf flour for wheat. The cake rose nicely in the oven, but sunk when I removed it. It had been in the for about 10-15 minutes more then the recipe said, my oven is annoyingly slow, and probably could have done with another 5-10min. This did have the advantage that it the cake stayed moist for a few days longer then normal. A few coworkers were lucky enough to taste this one and they all loved it!! Not as much crumble as I expected but still enough to identify it as gf.

These recipes won't be posted as they are directly from the book with the only alteration being leaving out the xanthum gum. This was done as there was already gum in the gf flour from the shop.


Next we have the chicken balls and potato frittata. Both recipes are new inventions, quite basic and still need some tweaking but tasty and gf all the same.


Chicken balls

500g chicken breast mince

minced garlic 1 Tbsp heaped

minced ginger 1 tsp heaped

4-6 mushrooms

4 shallots

1 ½ cups of frozen mixed vegies.

Fish sauce * make sure to buy a gf one if you need it, not sure if they are all gf by default


The mushrooms, onions and frozen vegies went through the food processor until finally chopped. Then just put everything into a bowl and mix. I found it a little too much ginger for my tastebuds but nothing too unbearable.

Put heaped teaspoons of the mix onto an oven tray and bake in preheated 200C oven for 15-20 minutes. These reheat nicely in the microwave too in only a minute or two!!

The amount of vegies in this can be adjusted, I didn't really measure anything, just started pouring.




The potato frittata didn't turn out how I'd like and it started from the beginning. (and I forgot to take photos....)

Potatos, sliced

spring onions

garlic

peppercorns

mushrooms

carrot

red capsicum

milk

white wine

water

eggs

red onion


The potatoes were sliced thinly and poached in a stock of garlic, spring onion, milk, white wine and peppercorns. The milk curdled when it started to heat but I kept going. Cook until tender. Strain the potatoes and place them into a baking dish. If you get a bit of the garlic, peppercorns and spring onions as well they provide bursts of flavour. Over the top arrange the other vegies, making sure you have finely sliced/diced them so they cook evenly and quickly. Over this, pour lightly beaten eggs. Bake in a preheated 200C oven for about 30-40 min, or until the egg is set and the vegies cooked to your liking.


I think the next time, the vegies will be sliced rather then diced and layered between the potato. Also thinking of using the potato as a crust, giving the filling more of a quiche feel. Not sure how it would work and if the potato would need to be mashed or just sliced..... Time will tell.

This also reheated nicely in the microwave.


The next updates will be some baking for and agm. The leftovers are being handed over to mum for afternoon tea on Friday. She got rather excited when I mentioned it. Currently thinking Sticky Date Cupcakes........ which requires starting the night before....


Oh well, time to start the dates soaking!

08 August 2008

oops I did it again.......

Once again I prove true why you should never let me near anything hot. I burnt myself again on the oven :( This time though, I wasn't making pizza with friends, I was trying out a new cupcake recipe. I took a white chocolate mud cupcake recipe and turned it into double white chocolate, strawberry and cointreau cake. I halved the original recipe, stupidly thinking that I'd get a smaller then usual sized mixture. Stupid once again. When a recipe goes from 4 cups of flour down to 2, you know that it will be smaller then the original, but its still going to be a normal sized cake. My plan was to bake it in these really cute mini cake pans I got. There are stars and love hearts, as well as 2 mini spring form. So a bowl of cake batter later I have 2 stars, 2 hearts, 2 rounds as well as 6 cupcakes in the oven and then the leaking happens. I had forgotten to line the bottom of the springforms so the batter was leaking through the bottom as it heated up. Nothing a layer of foil can't fix! Now I have to clean the oven. Have I mentioned that I have no white sugar in the house either so my lovely white cake with now be a shade called raw sugar.


The upside is that the batter tasted fantastic, they aren't gluten free or vegan which means I get to see what the recipe is like before I start tinkering.


White Chocolate Mud Cake with Cointreau Strawberries


handful dried strawberries chopped

cointreau

2 cups plain flour

¾ tsp baking powder

250g butter, chopped

150ishg white chocolate, chopped

1c milk

2c caster sugar

2 eggs (I used 3 as mine were tiny)

1 tsp vanilla extract

150g white chocolate chopped, extra

cointreau extra


Put strawberries in a small bowl and cover with cointreau, leave over night or until the strawberries have absorbed most of the cointreau.

Preheat oven to 155°C and grease cake tins.

Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl, whisk to create a hole in the middle and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over low heat melt, butter, white chocolate, milk and sugar until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

Whisk eggs one at a time into the chocolate mixture the add vanilla and beat until well combined.

Add chocolate mixture to the flour and mix until combined. Add in the strawberry and cointreau mixture then the extra chopped chocolate. Mix until combined. Have a taste and add more cointeau if needed. Taste should be there but not overpowering everything else.


Divide evenly among cake tins and bake for ~ 40 min

If you've made cupcakes start checking around 30 min


So, my oven is slow, the cupcakes too about 40 min and were still a little under done, the hearts took the same. Stars and circles took just over an hour. Photos are below















06 August 2008

Birthday cupcakes of yuminess



At the start of June my parents abandoned me to spend 6 weeks traveling in Europe. Normally I wouldn't have minded this, seeing as how I don't live with them anymore anyway, except once again I would be alone for my birthday. All immediate family would be in Europe.

As it turned out I got a birthday breakfast of French pastries and coffee, organised by me as housemate was still snoozing (see left). Then there was a show and drinks that night. Yet in all the excitement of house hunting that day, there was no birthday cake for me :(


So on the monday I decided to bake birthday cupcakes and force them on the people at band. Keep in mind that I'd only been playing with them for a few weeks. At this point I thought the only dietary concern was gluten free. So I made the Coconut Marshmallow Clouds from 'The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook' by Jennifer Graham.

3/4 c shredded coconut
2 1/3 c plain flour
1/4 salt
2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
3 egg whites, extra
200g softened, unsalted butter
1 3/4 c caster sugar
1 Tb vanilla extract
1 c coconut milk

Coconut cakes
makes 24

Preheat oven to 170C. Line two 12-hole muffin tins with cupcake papers.

Using an electric food processor, process coconut until very fine - about 3 or 4 minutes. Add coconut to a bowl with sifted flour, salt and baking powder. Mix until evenly combined.

In a separate bowl, combine eggs and egg whites. Do not beat.

In another bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the caster sugar a third at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. After the last addition, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar is almost dissolved.

Add the eggs a quarter at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

Add a third of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add half the coconut milk and beat until combined. Repeat this process. Add the remaining third of the flour mixture and beat until thoroughly combined; do not over-beat as this will toughen the mixture.

Spoon mixture into the cupcake papers, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake for 18 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for 3 minutes before icing.

Pipe the icing in a circular motion starting around the edge of the cupcake, to form a soft-serve ice-cream effect.

Marshmallow Icing

3 egg whites
480g white sugar
3 tsp glucose syrup
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
150ml water
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
pink food colouring

In a metal bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar, glucose syrup, cream of tartar and water. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water) and beat continuously with a hand held mixer until light, fluffy and forms soft peaks. Take the bowl off the heat and add the vanilla extract and a few drops of pink food colouring. Whisk the mixture until it forms stiff peaks.

When I made these, I think my peaks weren't stiff enough as the icing was a little runny. Not as it in oozed off the cake but, if the cupcake wasn't kept horizontal, things moved.

Update

5/8/2008

So, I did my grocery shop this morning and once again spent way too much on things that aren't really needed at the moment. There is now a bottle each of pomegranate molasses, rose water and orange blossom water in my pantry, as well as copious amounts of olive oil. There are also a couple of block of dairy free white chocolate, normal milk chocolate, 4L of juice (the joys of shopping specials), fruit, vegies and so much more.

I also have yoghurt and long live cream. The number of times I wish I had cream only to be disappointed when I opened the fridge.

Tonights dinner/breakfast, the joys of being a shift worker coming off graveyard, was very yummy rack of lamb with roast vegies. The only issue was when I was still feeling peckish an hour later so I had leftover pizza . Tasted fantastic cold.

I also found dried strawberries and dried raspberries. These will most likely end up in white chocolate cupcakes or in scones. The Barefoot Contessa has a recipe for Strawberry Scones that sound yum. Then there are also the mini cake pans I now own, 2 stars, 2 hearts and 2 mini spring form. I've found that whilst I love cake, there is no point in baking a whole one. It just doesn't get eaten quick enough. Now I can make mini cake!!!!! Assuming it will take a half batch of cake, I can try lots of recipes now and not have to worry about having stale cake in the house for weeks!!

Way to excited about mini cake tins.

Other good news is that we will soon be internet enabled at home. Housemate is investigating getting ADSL2 with a wireless router so we can both be online at the same time. Currently I'm typing this as a word document for uploading at a later date.

Below you will find the recipes for both my gluten free, vegan chocolate brownies and my über self-saucing chocolate pudding.

Oh dear, it seems I need to plug myself in.......

6/8/2008

Ok so I've been plugged in and am all charged up now. It's 1:14am and I'm still awake. Why did I sleep so long today. Turns out that setting the alarm clock also involves turning it on. Oh well, some valerian root and I should be right.


This weekend is a going away party for a good friend out bush. The plan is to head down early and help out with the prep. I think I'm going to take some stuff down with me so we won't have as much prep to do. There are several recipes that I want to try and this weekend is a good excuse to do that. The following come out of Belinda Jeffery's Mix and Bake. There are some fantastic recipes in here. The brownies are to die for, all four recipes! So there's a Vanilla and Polenta shortbread, Buttery Almond and Coconut Cake, Chewy Coconut Macaroon Cake, Classic Fourless Orange and Almond Cake, A Very Delicious Cheese and Apple Tart and the Brie and Pear Tart. As you can probably tell, I love nutty citrus cakes, delicate flavoured biscuits and cheesey tarts. There are many more in the book but I think I'll have to limit what I make. The shortbread is a must and I'll have to think of something else. Otherwise its just shortbread.


Currently watching the final of Popstars. This show has to be at least 5 years old. Its the season where they announce the first solo Popstar. Never really liked that show much. I liked the first season or so of Idol as well but, it gets to the point where there is so much hype about the shows and people in them that I just don't care anymore. And I'm not just talking about the general public. Sunday night at my parents house when all four of us were there was unbearable some nights. Everyone had a different favourite but, we were all pretty much in agreement over who wasn't that great.

Dinner with parents tomorrow. Dad has been wanting me to come round for dinner for the last 2 and a bit weeks, since they got back from holiday, but has never actually asked me. Just rung me up, told me to come round and collect the rest of my washing and to let them know if I'm staying for dinner. So of course, I went round during the day when they were both at work and collected my things then. I also need to do some laundry. We don't have a dryer and trying to get bedding to dry sans dryer in the weather we've been having is not fun.


Hopefully its bed time now. Going to hop into bed and see what happens.

Can you say allergy friendly???

I discovered when I baked birthday cupcakes to take to band on monday night, that if I want to make them edible for everyone then things have to be gluten free, lactose free and vegan. Occasionally fructose free as well. The last batch I took were chocolate brownies. They didn't turn out exactly how I'd planned but they still tasted fantastic 4 days after baking.

Gluten Free, Vegan, Chocolate Brownies.

125ml olive oil
200g dark eating chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup (110g) caster sugar
3 Tb no egg replacer
6 Tb water
1 ¼ cup (185g) plain flour
200g chocolate, chopped coarsely

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease deep 19cm square cake pan, line with baking paper, extending paper 2cm over side.
  2. Stir butter and dark chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool 10min.
  3. Stir sugar into chocolate mixture, then flour, no egg replacer, water and chopped chocolate. Spread mixture into pan.
  4. Bake brownies about 35 min. Cool in pan before cutting

Uber Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding

At long last, what everyone has been asking for, my recipe for the amazing pudding from a few weeks ago. It started out as an ordinary self saucing pudding, but I had some strawberries that needed to be eaten and then there was the half packet of frozen raspberries and the balsamic vinegar and you get the drift of what happened. Needless to say it was very rich and very yum. My housemate and I were the only ones who couldn't finish it. This is meant to serve four.

Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding

60g butter
½ cup (125ml) milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
1 cup (150g) self raising flour
1Tbsp cocoa powder
¾ cup (165g) firmly packed brown sugar
1Tbsp cocoa powder, extra
2 cups (500ml) boiling water
extras*

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease 1.5litre (6 cup) ovenproof dish.
  2. Melt butter with milk in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat; stir in extract and caster sugar, then sifted flour, cocoa and extras. Spread mixture into dish.
  3. Sift brown sugar and extra cocoa over mixture. Spread mixture into dish.
  4. Bake pudding about 40 min or until centre is firm. Stand for 5 min before serving.

· The extras are a couple of handfuls of frozen raspberries (fresh are acceptable also, we just didn't have any on hand) and a handful or so of chopped chocolate.

· We served it with a raspberry and strawberry coulis. Just stick berries in a pot with sugar, balsamic vinegar and a bit of water. Cook down until a thick sauce, squishing the berries as you go.


No photos this time, we devoured them before it was even cooled. That whole stand for 5 minute thing we ignored and burnt ourselves as a result.

05 August 2008

Things to do

So the 7 days of work comes to an end in an hour and I'm reminded of all the things I need to do in my coming week off work.

The big one is to eat my way through the freezer. I have a couple of weeks to do this in, but it needs to be done. The need has come about because as much as I love cooking, I love my sleep even more and when I'm working graveyard shifts, depriving myself of sleep because I need to cook a meal is not an option. So the freezer gets eaten so I can make room for one person portions of pasta sauce, curry, risottos, etc. I may find quiche in there too at some point!

So my list of things to do this week are the following

- do a grocery shop! Whilst we are stocked up on dry staples (rice, pasta, etc) I'm missing some things in the fresh food department such as potatoes, yoghurt, beans, tomoatos, avocado etc
- hit the gym
- email people the recipes they have been asking for, then post them here for everyone else to read. Or I can just post them and send them the link.
- do some baking. I have a hankering for macaroons, the american version with coconut rather then almonds in them.
- finish unpacking. There is a pile of clothing on my floor that is screaming to be put away. Funny how the clean clothes end up on teh floor and the dirty ones end up in that basket. Speaking of which..
- do some laundry!!
- write my post about the amazing experience that is Maha

So the grocery list at the moment looks like this:
potatoes
bananas
tomatoes
avocado
pomegranate
grapefruit
corn pasta
yoghurt
salad greens
juice
dried legumes
butter
olives
Chocolate
roo fillet
cream
kiwi fruit

My plan for eating out of the freezer is to have roast turkey tonight. I have a maryland cut that should be nice with some roast vegies. My favourite combo is parboiled potato, carrot, mushroom, pumkins, onion and garlic. I might put hte garlic and onion in with the turkey leg to help with flavours, along with a good squeeze of lemon over the meat.
The other plan is to polish of the baby spinach in either a spinach pesto pasta or in my yummy frittata. If I haven't posted it earlier then I will later. I should test it in quiche form too.

There's also so baking to be done for a going away party on Saturday out bush. Whilst technically they are at the end of the metropolitan train line so could be classified as outer suburb, there are cows at the end of their street. Enough said. i think the plan is for nibble type things as the main focus will be nice drinks rather then an amazing meal. Whats the point of an amazing meal if we're all too drunk to enjoy it.

The housewarming decision has been made as well. it's going to be an evening thing. People have been invited round for a sticky beak with cocktail "hour" to follow. So the menu needs to be finger food with options for gluten and fructose free, vegetarian, meatetarian, sweet and savoury. Also need to devise a cocktail of some sort. I'm thinking of trying out the one that was served at Wicked the Musical on saturday. Melon, Kiwi and Pear, called an Ozmapolitan. It involved vodka and came in slushy form. This one will require a few taste tests. I think a base of vodka and midori with pureed kiwi and pear should work. I also need to play around with the fig, vanilla and cinnamon mojito I had at Maha a few months ago.

20 July 2008

menu ideas

So we've moved into our new house and after the unpacking has finished it will be time to plan the housewarming!

Seeing as neither of us have a weekend off together for a while (possibly until christmas) we're thinking of having two.

Either way, I'm having people over for a meal in our new place.

Brunch is sounding good at the moment. I can have a variety or light breakfast and light lunch options. Depending on the group there will have to be vegetarian, gluten free and fructose free options. Luckily I can do this in my sleep.

So possible ideas are as follows

Brunch
frittata - pumpkin and fetta
roast chicken
scones/waffles/bagels - some kind of bready thing
fruit platter
cheese/tomato/avacado plate
yogurt
tea/coffee
juice
champagne - can't have a brunch without champagne and orange juice

This could also double as a lunch menu, The difference would be bagels as the bready product and a salad.

Afternoon Tea
finger sandwiches - cucumber, chicken, egg, roast beef
savoury pastries - sausage rolls, spinach and fetta,
macaroons
fruit
cupcakes/brownies
biscuits
tea/coffee
juice
champagne
punch - had a really nice one the other day that had strawberries, mint, lychees, pineapple and orange juice, and a bit of ginger beer. The alcohol base was vodka and rum.

Dinner
roast of come kind
frittata
roast potatoes/carrots
salad
dried fruit and cheese plate
tea/coffee
champagne/dessert wine
juice

I tend to enjoy a hot and a cold component in most of my meals and these menus are thigns I also enjoy eating. Its just difficult to cook frittata for one.

As you've probably noticed, I'm not big on fizzy drinks, the preference being juice. Although I do enjoy the waterfords flavoured mineral water.
All dishes can be made gluten free and fructose intolerant friendly. With the fructose issue, it does help to know exactly what they can and can't have. For example, onion is bad but small amounts of tomato or coconut with other things is okay.

The other things that could be added or substituted are garlic prawns, crab cakes, pasta, risotto or curry. I'd probably go for crab cakes or some other type of fish as I do actually like fish, just no in big doses.


More updates when the meal has been cooked.

18 June 2008

Oops

Brief update as to the happenings since the last post.

- The show was amazing. It all came together and just worked. The only down side to the show is that my list of people I won't work with again has grown slightly. If you're going to flake on me, at least tell me, don't just not show up.

- I have enjoyed several nice week long breaks from work due to the marvels of shift work.

- Although I haven't made the powder puffs yet, I did score a heap of frozen egg yolks after baking a huge batch of friands for an all day show rehearsal followed by an evening band concert. There was coffee, lime, and mandarin and poppyseed. my personal favourite was the lime. I baked them in mini muffin tins so you just got this burst of flavour and didn't have to worry about finishing the entire thing. I also baked some crunchy chocolate biscuits, which were also a hit. All leftovers made it to work and didn't last very long after that.

Currently I'm delving into the world of fresh pasta and learning to cook for one. I'm really not the biggest fan of eating leftovers for 3 days. I can handle eating it the next day but not for much longer and the freezer isn't very big so it doesn't hold much.

Last weeks trip to the Vic market resulted in some fresh lasagna sheets as well as goats cheese, basil and pesto agnolottis and rabbit and red wine agnolottis. The rabbit ones are still in the freezer, awaiting for sauce inspiration. The lasagna had a 4 layers of pasta in the following order, sauce, pasta, fresh baby spinach (don't bother blanching it, just give it a quick rinse and stick it in) pasta, sauce, pasta, mushroom and garlic mix (this was meant to be a layer of caramelised onion and mushroom ut the fry pan fell of the stove so I had to improvise) pasta, sauce then sprinklings of goats chevre, cheddar and parmesan. Baked for ~20 minutes at 180 C. Very, very tasty.

The goats cheese angolotti was consumed the other day in the same base sauce as the lasagna, just spritzed up a little. The base sauce was just shallots, garlic, red wine, basil, sage, rosemary and tomato passata. Seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and a little salt. So the spritzing consisted of more garlic and shallots sauteed with some minced lamb, more fresh rosemary, red wine. This is one dish where you really don't need any extra cheese on top and there is enough cheesy flavour in the pasta already.

Last night magical meal was duck fried rice.

1 duck breast with fat trimmed
3 mushrooms
1 shallot
garlic
ginger
soy sauce
mirin
1 lime
2/3 red capsicum
rice - I like a mix of basmanti and wild rice

fry the duck in a hot ungreased pan, skin side down until crispy, then turn it over and continue until tender. As the duck will be slightly recooked with the rice, its important to not over cook (especially if you're intending on reheating this later like I am).
In the mean time, cook the rice, I normally say ~ 1/2 cup uncooked, for 2 people if I'm adding stuff to it.

Then its really just a case of stir frying the garlic, ginger, shallots, mushrooms and capsicum together, add about a tablespoon of soy, splog of mirin then the duck that has been finely sliced. Add the rice and finish up with the juice of the lime.

The predominant flavour was lime, could have backed off on that quite a bit. It reheated nicely at work ~2min on high, stir part way through.

Tonights was a very special meal, I made risotto again!!!

100g minced chicken breast
3 chipolatas
shallots
garlic
2 mushrooms
risotto rice
red wine
more pasta sauce, warmed with some warm water.

The chicken and chipolatas were fried in pan with a little olive oil. You'll want to break up the chipolatas so it resembles the chicken mince. this way they not only cook quicker but you don't actually want huge chunks.

In a saucepan, sautee the garlic, shallots and mushrooms together.
Add the rice and fry for about 3 minutes
Add about 1 glass of red wine and stir until absorbed. Then add the sauce/water mix in small additions, stirring constantly. Don't add the next lot of liquid until the previous lot has been absorbed. Just before the last lot of liquid, add the meat and all the pan juices.

Lastly, stir in a knob of butter and some parmesan cheese

24 April 2008

Powder Puffs

The Chocolate Balls were a hit, though a few people were disappointed that there was no rum in them. You can add grog to them quite nicely, I just didn't have anything suitable at the time.

Monday involved one of the best massages in the world. As a result of this $30 massage I have slept right through the last two nights, only stirring in the early hours to roll over when my body thinks its time to get up when really it just needs a few more hours. To celebrate the joyous massage and to kill sometime before hopping in the car, I went shopping. One of the stores was having a special, spend over $60 on shoes and get a free $60 handbag. So I bought these


My house mate finds the image of me in a bathrobe and these heels whilst cooking breakfast absolutely hilarious. My comment was 'Well, I have to break them in somehow..'

The next challenge is to do something with all the lemons I have lying around the house. I think its time to break out the lemon curd as well as finally learning how to make lemon butter. A few months ago I found a recipe for these things called powder puffs. Little sponge kisses with whipped cream and lemon curd sandwiched between them. That then leaves me with egg whites to use or freeze so maybe some meringues as well. I found the recipe in the Epicure (the F&B guide in The Age on Tuesdays)

You can find the article here




18 April 2008

So, rehearsals officially start on Sunday for the orchestra. Whilst I'm excited about rehearsing at last there is also some worry. I've worked with most of them before so I'm not worried about that. Just the usual, 'This is going to be a disaster' feeling I get before every show.

I think this time I'm going to stick to my usual method of dealing by baking for rehearsal. Currently of the opinion that Chocolate Balls is the best option.

1 cup desiccated coconut
2 -3tbs cocoa powder
1 pack Marie Biscuits
375mls condensed milk (about a can)
Extra coconut for dusting

Essentially combine everything except the extra coconut in a bowl and combine. Then roll into balls, dust with coconut and stick in the fridge until set. I recommend using wet hands to do teh rolling otherwise you will end up covered in the mix.


A variation on this is Apricot balls
replace the cocoa powder with chopped dried apricots.