Sunday, August 16, 2009

Creating a special birthday cake

No recipe for this cake. I was tasked with taking the cake to my brother in law's lunch to celebrate his 50th birthday so this was my creation. I will try and remember - it was a while ago in June. I actually hand drew some plans for this cake on some parchment and drew a cross section of it and everything. I gave the plan to Kevin so its such a shame I didn't take a photograph of the plan for this post.
Paul and Elliot asked why I did the plan and I said I just love a touch of whimsy and luckily so did Kevin and Leanne who are going to frame the plan.
The cake is two discs of almond meringue covered with kahlua cream and sandwiched between two layers of chocolate and coffee cake - then the whole cake is covered with a dark chocolate ganache. It took me ages to decide what to make and loads of internet research and I was inspired so many of the Daring Bakers out there. I simply cannot remember which chocolate cake recipe I used in the end. It is truly a one of a kind cake for a special person.

Chewy Chocolate chip cookies - dark chocolate and cranberry and white chocolate and macadamia

1 and a half cups of plain flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

cup brown sugar firmly packed
1/2 cup castor sugar

175 grams of butter (room temperature - but still firm)
1 egg and 1 egg yolk beaten

100 grams chocolate chunks
100 grams chocolate chips
50 grams dried cranberries

Heat oven to 160degrees and place rack in bottom 3rd of the oven - mine is just below the middle.

Cream butter and sugar on slow for about 3 mins do not overbeat - I read it makes a difference! Add the beaten egg and yolk and beat till combined again but once combined stop. I have read that overbeating may affect the mixture so I stopped when I considered that the additions were combined well in.

Sift plain flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda together and add to this mixture to the creamed butter, sugar and eggs and on slow combine.

With a wooden spoon stir in chocolate and cranberries. Drop large dessert spoonfuls on baking trays lined with baking paper - I only do four at a time to allow for spreading.

They seem to take about 14 mins to cook in my oven. For the first 7 mins I cook them on the higher tray and then move them to the lower tray for the final 7 mins. When moving them in I put the second tray on top.

The cookies should spread and look a little harder around the edges and not be too soft when you remove them from the oven. Let them cool for about 5 mins on tray before moving to a rack. If you turn them over and the just seem to be undercooked you can pop them back into the oven for a couple more minutes but watch them carefully this is often the difference between soft and chewy and crisp.

For white chocolate and macadamia cookies
Use 2 cups of plain flour (omit the cocoa - but I am going to try a cocoa version next time)
200 grams of white chocolate chopped into chunks
125grams of raw macadamia

Follow the recipe for above.

Sometimes I use most of the ingredients cold - because I have a kitchenaid it can cream the butter quite well and I tend to be impatient - I also keep my flour in the freezer so it tends to make the mixture cold anyway.

If you use all room temperature ingredients then again I have read that you should refrigerate the dough for half an hour before using it. I refrigerated half the white chocolate cookie dough - to test if t here was a difference and I thought those cookies were a little higher than the non-refrigerated dough ones.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Piece of cake - Labor Day

Posted by PicasaI might be jinxed, because my home computer has frozen and not allowed me to finish this post. I had to move to Paul's Mac and I am not at all used to using a Mac. This weekend so far I have made, Anzac biscuits with a drizzle of choc fudge, mini choc chip muffins, poached breast of chicken with salsa verde, green beans and preserved lemon wholemeal couscous and now this cake.

I was inspired by a Donna Hay lemon and yoghurt cake that my friend Carly told me she had made the other day. I decided to make an orange and ricotta almond torte. This is what I put in it:

125grams unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup raw organic sugar
2 eggs
1 cup ricotta
zest of one orange
juice of half an orange
1 and a half cups of almond meal
1/2 cup of self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Turn on oven to 180 degrees. Butter, flour and line a 20 cm cake tin. Beat butter and sugar till creamy add one egg at a time beating well after each egg and then add the zest. Next add th ricotta, almond meal, flour and baking powder and stir through, then mix in the orange juice.

Now for baking I will have to take you through the trials and tribulations. The DH version of lemon and yoghurt cake calls for 45 min at 180 c.

Because this cake will be dense due to the almond meal I decided to try to bake for 50 mins, then I checked with a wooden skewer to make sure it is cooked through before removing. However, I found mine really browned on top quickly so I turned it down from 180 to about 160 - I have a hot oven though.

When I took it out and cooled it for 10 mins I removed it from the pan and found the bottom of the cake in the middle a little wet so I put on a flat tray and returned to the oven for another 20 mins on 160 degrees celcius. I think because this is such a dense mixture you do have to cook it for longer on a lower temperature. It was lovely and moist when Elliot had the first slice.
Ideally I think it would be nice with a lovely dollop of greek yoghurt on the side and maybe a strawberry.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Oh happy day, I finally have a personal computer with Picasa on it and my photographs loaded onto it so I can load a photograph without to much hassle. Its only been years.....

This beautiful cake comes from this fabulous book.

It is the Apple and maple cake and for good measure I added some caramelised walnuts for some sweet crunchy texture. Quite a rustic cake and not too sweet. I won't repeat the recipe because if you don't have this cook book then I hope this cake is the reason you think about buying it. I got mine from UK Amazon with the current exchange rate its very reasonable compared to the price you can pay in $A.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mini Spelt Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

I used to only bake chocolate goodies for Elliot for school but now with Gabi no longer at day care I can make some chocolate treats they both can have. (Gabi’s day care banned chocolate).

I happen to think that a bit of chocolate at school will trigger some good endorphins so I hope that having a little chocolate cupcake will be something that makes them feel happy for the rest of the day.

Last year I introduced more organic produce into our diet, and this year I am trying to incorporate more whole foods into our lifestyle. I use one of the best priced organic companies in Brisbane for my products at if I had not found this company I may not have made the switch so easily as their produce is competitively priced.

I have used whole grains and organic products in this recipe because of our life style changes. I like to bake treats rather than buy them because you know what’s in it and there are no preservatives and those rules should apply whether you use organic products or not.

If you are not able to use organic or spelt products, then use white flour instead.

I think you could replace the spelt with either self-raising flour or plain flour with 1 teaspoon of baking powder – they will be lighter than these ones made with spelt. This recipe is an adaptation of my cupcake recipe – but I made some changes in order to work with the density of the spelt flour.

Mini Spelt Chocolate chip cupcakes

125 grams butter

½ cup organic raw sugar (or caster sugar)

2 organic-free range eggs

¼ cup *Cacao powder

1 and ¼ cups spelt flour

2 tablespoons sour cream

Dash of milk

120grams chocolate chips

Pre- heat oven to 170 (my oven is hot so I cooked about 150 degrees and used the middle rack)

Cream butter and sugar till white and light in texture (approximately 5 minutes). Add one egg at a time beating thoroughly after each one.

Mix through cacao powder and spelt flour. Add sour cream. The texture will be quite thick a this stage, so you need to add the sour cream and then the dash of milk to thin it out a little. I was aiming for texture that was not runny so that if you take a spoonful of the mixture it will not run off the spoon but fall off slowly and require a little assistance.

Line a 12 cup mini muffin pan with mini cupcake papers.

Place teaspoons full into paper liner – filling right to top and a tiny bit extra of the mixture on top as this flour will not rise.

Leave in oven for up to 20 mins but check around 15 mins – use wooden skewer and if it comes out clean they are ready. I think mine took about 18 mins

Makes approximately 30 mini muffins.

My experiences with spelt flour: it is quite a dense flour so this time I decided not to add any baking powder. I previously made some normal sized cupcakes and used a bit more sugar (3/4 cup) and baking powder (1 teaspoon). When I made it with the extra additions it took me ages to be sure the cake was cooked in the middle and the top had risen cracked then formed a hard shell – so they didn’t look as attractive as these little mini ones.

I also decided to reduce the sugar to ½ cup to make them a bit healthier as the aim was to provide a treat for the children but not go too heavy on the sugar as the chocolate should be the highlight here.

* I chose to use cacao powder rather than cocoa as part of our lifestyle changes as cacao is said to have more anti-oxidants than regular cocoa. Again if you are unable to use cacao – then cocoa can be used instead.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My spiced mango chutney

Well Blogger is decidedly odd, I have tried several times over the past couple of weeks to upload a post of our Christmas lunch, but it just isn't happening. So I thought I would try ploading this photograph (even though I have already posted it to Lifestyle food's website) something new when blogger gets me down.

I don't think my Christmas lunch will be posted here so instead I am going to move on with this recipe:

  • 2 large RE2E Mangoes (or 4 small mangoes) preferably not quite ripe
  • 4 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 1 small white onion finely diced
  • 1 red chillie seeds removed finely diced
  • 3cm piece of ginger finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 400mls white or malt vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 whole cardomum
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • 2 star anise
  • ground pepper
  • salt
  • Cut mangoes into large dice.
  • Grind the cardomum, mustard seeds and fennel seeds in a pestle or mortar.
  • In a saucepan, saute shallots, onion, chillie, ginger and garlic in some sunflower oil for about 10 mins till onion is softened.
  • Add the mangoes, ground spices and star anise and stir in throughly. Next add sugar and mix till dissolved. Finally add the vinegar, pepper and salt to taste. Leave to simmer for up to 45mins. Stop cooking early if the pieces of mango start to lose its shape too much - you want the chutney to have some chunkiness to it and not became a jam.
  • I bought some glass jars from Coles/Woolies and washed them out thoroughly then filled them with some boiled water to sterilise them . Remove water and let dry naturally.
  • I made quite a bit of chutney, so much so I was able to give one bottle away as part of a birthday gift and another to a friend who was envious of my birthday friend receiving a bottle. Both friends said they loved the chutney. In fact so did I - I will never buy mango chutney from a shop again!
Notes And Tips

One word of warning, one of my jars cracked when adding the boiling water, I think that I should have washed them in very warm water first to heat up the glass and reduce the chance of it cracking when under heat. Ways to serve as a side dish for Indian curry, on a turkey sandwich, on a lentil burger, with some grilled fish or chicken.

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.