Thursday, December 14, 2006

Food glorious food 2006

While I notice that some food bloggers have prepared calenders this year, I decided that my amateur work is not worthy of such focus and decided instead that I would make a collage of some of the food I prepared in 2006.
I recognise that the year is not over yet and christmas banquets have yet to be done, but I usually do one separate Christmas Collage in any case so that will come later.
*PS click on the photograph to enlarge for details!

Smarty Pants Cookies

These are the cookies I made Elliot to take to school as part of the end of year celebration feast he is enjoying today. I was supposed to make cake, but I started worrying about refrigeration and although they were using eskies etc. I thought it would be less trouble to make this lovely Smarty Pants cookies although as you can probably tell I actually used M&Ms I asked P to buy smarties and this is what I get - what is that saying "Never send a man....! .

I became a bit anal with the colour of the M&Ms I put on the cookies although the results of that are not reflected here exactly, what is reflected is that in the end due to my being anal i.e. ensuring I put a different coloured M&M on each biscuit in the exact same order, I was left with way too many blue ones. So these are the cookies that didn't make it to the feast and decided to keep at home, cos you know how much 8 years will care that I put a different coloured M&M on each biscuit in the exact same order.

Anway the recipe incorporated almonds which I substituted coconut for, the reason being that there are too many kids out there with nut allergies so it is better to avoid that problem with group feasts at school. I found them a little sweet for my taste as well I think next time I will cut down on the sugar. Other tips include making sure you don't do too many at once or they will spread and join up and then you will have to cut them apart, also make sure you use a small ball of dough so that proportionately the cookies and the amount of smarties don't look odd and finally a lighter coloured cookie is better looking than a golden one - so 10 mins and a bit lower temp than the recommended 180 c.

This is a very much Elliot cooking story today, because the background picture to this photograph involves some of the art work that he took home yesterday. I am loving the progress they are making with their artistic work at school. I may use some other interesting pieces for some recipes - I thought this piece went perfectly with these predominantly blue coloured M&M cookies.

Smartie PantsIngredients:
125g butter,
½ cup caster sugar,
½ cup brown sugar lightly packed,
½ tsp vanilla extract,
1 egg lightly beaten,
1 ¾ cup self-raising flour sifted,
½ tsp salt,
¼ cup slivered almonds,

180g Smarties©

Steps: Preheat oven to moderate, 180 degrees Celsius. Cream together the butter, sugars and vanilla using electric beaters until combined. Add lightly beaten egg, and beat until smooth. Mix in sifted flours and salt with a wooden spoon. Add slivered almonds and mix until combined. Shape tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls, and place onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Flatten gently, then press smarties into the surface. Leave about an inch between cookies as they do expand upon baking. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Fare 2006

Here is a sample of my 2006 Christmas food gifts. Posted by Picasa

I am making iced lemon cookies and rocky road. I will also make gingerbread later this week. Elliot is taking the lemon cookies (which I have wrapped in cellophane) to school for his classmates I thought they could double as decorations if they make them to the tree.

Gabriella helped make the star cards - I went to Office Works and bought large and small red circle stickers and some stiff paper. Gabriella stuck the stickers on and Elliot traced the star shape on the back, I cut it out. We are becoming a real family Christmas affair these days.

Recipe for Lemon Cookies:

100 grams of unsalted butter
100 grams of castor sugar
225gram plain flour
zest of one lemon
1 egg

Preheat oven to 180c.

Beat the butter and sugar till nice and creamy and then add the egg and beat for another few minutes.

Stir in the lemon zest and incorporate flour till it forms a dough. Use extra flour to knead the dough together so it not so soft. Take 1/4 of the dough and roll out on some silicone baker paper, then begin cutting shapes - trees and stars for Elliot's class, and hearts for our friends.

Bake for approximately 10 to 15 mins, it is supposed to be golden but I found mine were darkening around the edges before they ever became golden so I preferred them pale.

I decorated the heart ones with silver and gold cashous. If you want to turn them into decorations, before you bake them make a hole in the cut out dough with a wooden skewer.

I then iced them with the same icing I use for gingerbread men. If you have left over icing - transfer to a dish then cover it will some plastic pressing down on the surface so it doesn't dry out.

My traditional gingerbread recipe

350 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda (or baking powder)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
100 grams unsalted butter
175 grams brown sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons golden syrup

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.

Line baking trays with silicone baking paper. Sift flour, bicarb and ginger into a large bowl.

Rub in butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs then rub in the sugar. Beat egg and syrup together and stir into flour mixture, mixing lightly to form a smooth dough. Rest in the refridgerator for 30 minutes.

On a floured surface rollout dough to 4-5mm thickness.
Cut into shapes and transfer to baking tins.
Bake for 12-15 mins or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly on trays.

Transfer to wire racks to cool completely then ice.

200 grams of icing sugar
1 egg white
1 tablespoon lemon juice.

Beat the egg white until soft peaks form and gradually beat in the icing sugar followed by the lemon juice. Ice the biscuits and decorate with silver/coloured cashous for buttons.

Hints: It is easier to roll out the dough on the silicone baking paper that you line the tins with. So remove the paper from the baking tins, roll out the dough, cut out the desired shapes, take away excess dough and then put the baking paper back into the baking trays.

That way you don't accidentally break any of the arms etc. As you can see I decided to use the snowman shape and the stars. The snowman makes a large biscuit enough really for two people to share. I think I averaged about 30 stars and 8-10 snowman per batch.

With the stars, I found because they are so small they baked really quickly maybe five minutes, though I really just kept a close eye on them. The larger biscuits took about 10 minutes really.
Baked cookies

When in a hurry I haven't rested the dough and not had any problems - sometimes it is best to start with everything very cold i.e. flour in the freezer etc and that helps keeping the dough malleable.
Iced cookies:

Packaged cookies 2004

Christmas Fare 2005

Packaging Christmas 2005

I also baked some lemon cookies last night because Elliot thought his class wouldn't like the ginger - this is not a strong ginger flavour he is just being picky and being the overcompensating working mother I am I made him different biscuits which I must say I am very happy with anyway.

I am also making some Rocky Road today so tune in for some piccies of all the christmas fare which I will update some time today.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

T&T's Wedding Cake

Posted by Picasa

This is the cupcake wedding cake I put together for my good friend's wedding. I baked 130 chocolate sour cream cupcakes with a chocolate sourcream ganache last Friday night. At 5.30am Saturday morning I was up tracking down the roses.

I found the recipe for Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake in Nigella Lawson's Feast and the ganache recipe from Rose Berembaum's Cake Bible. I chose the ganache as I knew it would withstand being baked, transported and kept at room temperature quite well before making it to the airconditioned room.

T chose the stand which typically of T she used because it has sentimental value as it was made by her mother's father - it was a very simple three-tiered wooden stand and beside the cake stand she had her parents and her husband's parents wedding photographs a lovely touch and works terribly well when your parents are not divorced or remarried!

I am told everyone enjoyed the cakes, not surprisingly I couldn't stomach a single cupcake having baked and iced them all. It was quite nerve wracking not being a professional baker, but I think that lots of lovely fresh flowers can be very forgiving.

One other good thing that came from this commission was that I finally bit the bullet and have dispensed with my 10 year old Sunbeam handbeater for my gorgeous red hot KitchenAid, all the better to bake lots of batches of christmas cookies!

One more shot of the whole cake stand:

While the groom preferred chocolate mudcake, my research lead me to prefer a recipe which did not involve melting approximatley 4 kgs of chocolate or baking the cupcakes twice the time it would take for this recipe. I guess I got a bit practical and chose a recipe that could be mixed in one big hit and take 15mins per batch of 24 as this meant I could have at least 5 hours sleep instead of no sleep if I went with the mudcake recipe.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

200 g plain flour
200g castor sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
40g best quality cocoa

175 grams unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
150ml sour cream

Have all ingredients at room temperature and preheat oven to 180 c.

Put all the cake ingredients into a food processor (or the KitchenAid) and mix until you have a smooth, thick batter.

Place spoonfuls in cupcake liners and bake for approx 15mins. I used a double batch and it made about 40 cupcakes!

Sour Cream Ganache.

Its very important that the sour cream is room temperature or the ganache will lump and become dull - it happened to me once!

340 grams of bittersweet chocolate
400grams of sour cream

Melt the chocolate in the microwave (on a lower power) check every minute or so. If dish feels warm transfer to another bowl. Add the sour cream and stir with a rubber spatula until uniform in colour.

If the ganache is refrigerated - soften by placing the bowl in a water bath or a microwave for few seconds stirring gently.

About Me

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Mother of two with one of each. Wife of one.Dogless. Busy working five days a week, baking and cooking when time allows. Writing rarely these days. Wishing I had time to read more often.