Archive for the ‘Bake at home’ Category

trufflesThis is a delicious, easy recipe, and is even gluten-free. I wanted truffles that were not so sickeningly sweet, so I went for dark chocolate and a good amount of brandy and let the sultanas add their natural sweetness to the mix. I was pretty limited to whatever I could find in my cupboard at the time (there’s no way I’m braving the shops again this close to xmas) but you could roll them in grated chocolate or chocolate sprinkles or use raw sugar instead of caster sugar for a bit of sparkle – whatever takes your fancy.

This is my first-ever attempt at making truffles, and all my own recipe. Enjoy!

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 box Nestle Plaistow chocolate
3 tablespoons brandy
A handful of sultanas
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup caster sugar

Heat the condensed milk, chocolate and brandy in a saucepan over very low heat until smooth, stirring so that it doesn’t burn. Stir in the sultanas and transfer to a bowl. Cover with clingwrap and put in the fridge for an hour, or until mixture has reached a hardish, buttery consistency. Combine the cocoa and sugar in a small bowl.
Use a spoon to scoop out small amounts of mixture. Using damp hands (or better yet, latex gloves), roll the spooned out amount between your hands to make a ball. Drop the ball into the cocoa mixture and roll until completely covered. Repeat until all truffle mixture is used up.

Serve truffles in small patty cases and package in pretty boxes. Keep refridgerated or they may lose their shape.

Makes about 30 truffles, depending on how big you make them and how many you eat along the way.

ninjabread

These tough cookies beat the pants off gingerbread men. For more pictures, see my Flickr ninjabread photoset. I’ve linked to appropriate photos in the set from various points in the recipe.

These little bastards take up a lot of room on a baking tray, so I spent about an hour swapping trays in and out of the oven until they were all cooked (I made a double batch). Luckily they only take 10 minutes to cook.

Ingredients

  • 125g butter, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) golden syrup
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 375g (2 1/2 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tbs ground ginger
  • 1 teasp mixed spice
  • 1 teasp bicarbonate of soda
  • Plain flour, to dust
  • Royal icing packet mixture*
  • 8-10 drops red liquid food colouring
  • 1-2 tsp black food colouring paste*
  • Silver edible glitter*

* These ingredients can be found at cake decorating supply stores

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Use an electric beater or blender to beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined. Stir in the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Press dough into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
  3. Meanwhile, make the royal icing according to packet instructions. Separate into 3 bowls. Add the red food colouring to one bowl and mix until bright red. Add the black food colouring to another bowl and mix until almost black (a little grey is okay, it will set black when dry). Leave the third bowl white. Cover the bowls with plastic wrap.
  4. Place the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper and roll out until about 4mm thick. Use a 9cm gingerbread man cutter to cut out shapes. If your men are fat, trim them so they’re lean and mean. Use a spatula to place on trays about 3cm apart. Use excess dough to cut out star shapes using a 2cm star shaped cutter and a straw for holes in the middle.
  5. Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until brown. Remove from oven. Using a spatula, transfer to a rack to cool (leave them on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring to the rack, or they will be too soft and may break on transfer).
  6. Place prepared icings in small plastic bags. Cut a small hole in a corner of each bag. Pipe icing over gingerbread men to decorate. For throwing stars, spread the white icing over the stars (scooping icing out of the holes when necessary) and sprinkle glitter over them, then tap off any excess glitter. Attach the stars to the men using royal icing.

pandan cupcakes 2

Last Friday, the day before Halloween, I delighted my workmates with some spooky green pandan cupcakes with spiderweb cupcake wrappers. They were a big hit! They’re really just a modification of the pandan chiffon cake recipe that I posted a few weeks ago – you just have to put them into cupcake cases and bake them for only about 30 minutes instead of the full large cake time.

I used spiderweb cupcake wrappers from Alfresco Emporium, which also allows online orders. They’re also available from the USA from Fancy Flours but the international shipping fees are horrendous, so stick with the local one unless you’re an American.

Happy Halloween!

iPhone 016

This is a recipe I found in a recent copy of Delicious magazine. I wanted to bake something special for my husband on his birthday. He’s a big fan of lemon, and I mean a BIG fan of lemon – he’s famous for his lemon meringue pie which contains 3-6 times the recommended dose of lemon in every serve. So when I saw the recipe for these tarts, with whole lemon slices as part of the filling, I thought excellent, this will give him his lemon fix.

The pastry is super easy and cheaty because it’s a store-bought pastry, BUT, not the usual stuff you get from the supermarket. It’s Careme vanilla bean shortcrust pastry, available from selected gourmet stores (see their website for details). Yeah it’s a bit expensive but it’s extremely delicious, and saves you making your own. I know Jamie Oliver says it’s sooooo easy, but you roll, this, you chill that, you try to get it so it doesn’t all fall apart all the time…to hell with that, just buy this fancy gourmet pastry which is also available in butter, sour cream and dark chocolate flavours.

iPhone 015So anyway, the filling is way easy, but requires special tools. I had to buy a mandoline, which I’ve never thought to use before – it’s a thingy that lets you slice stuff really really thinly. It’s actually really cool and I hope to use it in the future to slice lots of other things really really thinly, like….yeah I can’t think of anything. Maybe more lemons and limes for cake or tart decorating.

So yes, you finely slice your lemons and take out all the annoying seeds, and then put them in a bowl with caster sugar and a split vanilla bean overnight. Yep, this is one of those two-day jobbies. But then the next day all you have to do is take all the lemon slices out of the sugar and whisk some eggs into the remaining sugar and vanilla mixture. Then that becomes your tart filling and you just layer the lemons on top. Super easy!

About now I’m wishing I had the actual lemon recipe to share with you but I figure since it’s out of Delicious magazine it will probably appear on taste.com.au eventually. So uh…keep checking back there.

The story ends with a very happy husband on his birthday. I got the eyes falling back in the head, “oh my GOD” reaction I was hoping for. I tried to eat one myself but it was kind of full-on with so much lemon, I could only handle about half a small tart. But that’s the way he likes it.

cakeforweb

I made this cake for a small dinner party and I think it was quite good, but it wasn’t a huge hit with the other diners. It was a very dense, moist cake with a crumbly texture and it was made with 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate (Lindt brand) so it wasn’t overly sweet. I think it would have gone well with coffee, especially a nice Irish coffee to compliment the Irish whiskey that went into the cake.

I served it with grilled orange slices (which weren’t grilled as much as I’d hoped) and Maggie Beer vanilla bean and elderflower ice-cream. The cake was so rich that the subtle flavours in the ice-cream were completely lost. So if I were to make this cake again, I would serve it with cream or a less gourmet vanilla ice-cream. Or maybe just with fresh strawberries.

The chocolate was definitely the dominant flavour in this cake, with the occasional whiskey hit from the raisins. So it would be easy to adapt this into a milk chocolate cake to make it sweeter. The texture isn’t exactly cakey, because it has no rising agent and is made with roasted almond meal, so maybe it falls under the category of mud cake, or something else.

All in all, a good cake for dark chocolate lovers, but I probably won’t make it again unless someone who adores dark chocolate and coffee has a birthday.

The recipe was a Maggie Beer recipe from a recent issue of ABC’s Delicious magazine.

Pandan cake is a popular cake originating in Malaysia. The key ingredient is the juice from the leaves of the pandan plant, otherwise known as screw pine. Most people in Australia know it as “that green cake that you get in Asian supermarkets sometimes”.

The pandan juice makes the cake a light green colour, but green food colouring is added to the pandan paste, which gives the cake that “radioactive” look. I guess some people like that hue because some of the recipes involving the juice also call for green food colouring to be added, just in case you weren’t sure it was really a pandan cake. I reckon this would make a really great halloween cupcake. In fact, I have some black cobweb-shaped laser cut cupcake wrappers and October is coming up so….

anyway…

I’ve found it really hard to get an authentic-tasting pandan cake here in Australia, and I suspect many of the cakes here are just regular chiffon cakes with green food colouring. Also all the ones I’ve bought here have been pretty dry and spongy, like it would bounce if you threw it. So I decided to make my own.

The hardest part about making this cake was finding the damn pandan. It’s really difficult to get the pandan juice, let alone the actual leaf, and even the paste and the essence is pretty hard to find. Your best bet is to hunt down an Indonesian supermarket. I found some pandan paste in Randwick Oriental Supermarket (Randwick, Sydney).

Okay so the next hardest part was finding a chiffon pan. I ended up getting one of those silicon pans shaped in a “cathedral” shape (think “pointy doughnut”) and it wasn’t a great idea. The cake ended up sticking to the bottom of the pan and nothing I could do would unstick it. I just had to rip the pieces off and try and reassemble the cake without anyone noticing. It probably worked, too bad I didn’t have any pandan icing.

Making the cake itself was not hard. I looked up heaps of recipes on the internet and it seems that chiffon cakes have a reputation for being really difficult to make. Well my theory about this is that the people finding it difficult don’t know how to deal with egg whites. Here’s the thing about egg whites – they’re stubborn bastards. Get any little bit of moisture in their way and they will refuse to beat into stiff peaks. The important thing is to keep the bowl and beaters *clean* and *dry* and make sure that no egg yolk ends up in the whites.

Here is the recipe I followed. It had a few errors, so I’m going to remedy those and add my own notes here, but I give all credit for the original recipe to the author of that site. My cake turned out deliciously moist on the inside, with that real pandan flavour throughout, while still being light and fluffy like a chiffon. Because I guess it is a chiffon.

pandan cake whole

Here’s how my cake turned out. Not the most beautiful cake you’ve ever seen, right? But it tasted great.

Ingredients
150g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
150 ml coconut cream
8 egg yolks
10 egg white
200g caster sugar, separated
3 Tbsp corn oil (or vegetable oil)
1 tsp vanilla essence
a pinch of salt
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp pandan paste

Method
1. Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F).
2. Sift the flour and baking powder three times. This aerates the flour and helps to make a fluffy cake.
3. Using  a separate mixer to the one you’ll be using later, cream egg yolks and 140g sugar until it is creamy and thick. If you do not have two electric mixers, use a whisk instead. It is important to keep the other mixer clean and dry.
4. Add in sifted flour and baking powder, vanilla essence, coconut cream, corn oil, and pandan paste into the egg yolk mixture. Mix well.
5. In another clean dry bowl, use your electric mixer to beat egg whites on high speed. When egg whites are whisked to soft peaks, add the remaining 60g sugar, cream of tartar and a pinch of salt. Continue to whisk until stiff peaks form. The mixture should be stiff, thick and glossy.
6. Fold the egg whites into the flour mixture. Start by adding 1/3 egg whites into flour mixture and using a balloon whisk, fold until just combined. Mix the remaining 2/3 egg whites in until the mixture is just combined, taking care to fold gently to keep volume.
7. Once incorporated, (don’t worry if there are a few streaks of white left) pour into the chiffon cake pan. If you have used a whisk to fold the mixture, you may find a pool of thick green sludgy looking cake mix at the bottom of your bowl. I do not recommend you add this to the cake, just throw it away. Bake 45 mins, or until the cake is brown on top and springs back when prodded.
8. When cake is baked, invert it immediately and cool down for 2-3 hours. Once cooled, use a knife to cut around the sides and bottom before removing.

This is what it looks like when you have eaten half of it:

pandan cake half

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