Nigella’s Warm Raspberry and Lemon Cake

 

So… I met Nigella Lawson…

A few months ago while she was on the press junket for her newest cookbook, Simply Nigella.

There’s a reason we all adore her. That impression that you get from reading her recipe intros and notes, that darling woman you see cooking on your TV – that’s all real. That’s her. That special something that makes Nigella sparkle is absolutely genuine, and upon meeting her, I adore her even more. No one – NO ONE – can deal with that amount of people, sign that many books and still be graceful, poised, kind and genuinely happy to greet the next person in a never-ending line that nearly defeated me a number of times.

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Prior to the line of a kind I hope to never be in again, I was fortunate enough to see Nigella be interviewed, where she talked about everything from her life before cooking, to her hate of green capsicums, from her love of David Copperfield to her unique method acting technique of choosing a dish from a restaurant menu.

And she talked about mindfulness, talked about how, yes, it is the buzzword of the moment, but how cooking, for her, for so many, is mindfulness. Yes, we cook because we need to feed ourselves, our families, but for us who have that connection to the kitchen, cooking is so much more. It’s a form of relaxation, of therapy, it’s a way to extend ourselves, to learn, to experiment and be creative. It’s a ways to keep the hands busy and to calm the mind, or to hone it, depending on the mood and the food. It’s achievement and celebration, comfort and indulgence. It’s love, joy, a gift from you to the ones you love to feed, love to watch smile.

Jamie taught me how to cook, Stephanie showed me how to mix and match flavours, but Nigella, Nigella helped me find that passion and happiness of a lovingly prepared meal for one, two or more, of conquering a scary-looking recipe, of the simplicity in cooking if the joy is really truly there.

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So, no matter what you passion is, what that something is that brings you joy – do it, continue doing it, never stop doing it. Don’t let yourself or anyone ever stop you from cooking, painting, writing, dancing, cycling, gardening, hiking, star gazing, daydreaming, making lists, yodelling… if you love it, keep it, nurture it and watch it grow.

I’m going to very quietly sneak myself and Nigella’s warm raspberry and lemon cake in to the latest Fiesta Friday party and pretend like I’ve been here all along… It should be a great party this week with Angie, Margy @ La Petite Casserole and Linda @ La Petite Paniere at the helm.

Warm Raspberry and Lemon Cake

  • Servings: makes 9 slabs or 18 fingers
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Ingredients

  • 150ml light olive oil (plus more for greasing)
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 75g fine polenta (not instant)
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150g frozen raspberries (not thawed)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, and lightly grease a 20cm square tin with a dab of olive oil.
  2. Beat the oil with the finely grated lemon zest (you’ll need the juice later), then add the sugar and mix together. This can be done in a freestanding mixer, or by hand with a wooden spoon, or you can blitz all the ingredients, bar the raspberries, in a food processor.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the ground almonds, polenta, bicarb and baking powder and fork together to mix well. Add a spoonful to the oil and sugar mixture, beating all the while, then add 1 egg, followed by about a third of the almond and polenta mixture, and so forth, until all the eggs and the almond and polenta mixture are used up and you have a smooth, sunny, yellow batter.
  4. Whether you’ve mixed the batter with a processor, freestanding mixer, or bowl and wooden spoon, now fold in the frozen raspberries by hand and then spoon and smooth the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for 40 minutes, by which time the cake will start to come away from the edges of the tin, be brown on top, and a cake tester will come out clean with all but a few golden crumbs (this is meant to be a damp cake).
  5. The minute the cake is out of the oven, pour or brush the lemon juice on top and leave until warm (rather than fresh-from-the-oven hot) before eating it.

 

Store note: Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 2 days, or in the fridge for up to 5 days. In hot weather, keep in the fridge.

Freeze note: Leftovers can be frozen, in an airtight container, for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, or for 2-3 hours at room temperature.

 

Recipe by Nigella Lawson from Simply Nigella.

 

 

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Shortbread Christmas Trees

 

There’s just one more sleep to Christmas, people!

Whether it’s your thing, whether you celebrate it or not, it is the season to be kind, to show appreciation, to hold your family just a little closer, to let go, to celebrate.

It’s also the season for baking!

My chocolate crinkle cookies taste FANTASTIC but no one mentioned that they spread… They do not look pretty…

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But my shortbread Christmas tree came out pretty well, I think. Well, except for having to cover up the wrong colour frosting and making a bit of a mess at the top… After all these years of baking, it’s still hit and miss with biscuits and cookies. Give me bread any day!! No matter, it’ll be a cute little centrepiece for Christmas lunch tomorrow.

To all those celebrating Christmas, have a great day tomorrow. To those not celebrating, have a lovely day and enjoy whatever you have planned.

Now I’m heading off to the biggest party, with my little shortbread Christmas trees in tow… Fiesta Friday #100! And the celebration is going to last over two weeks to give everyone a chance to come and party for a little bit over the festive season. A huge thank you to Angie @The Novice Gardener for everything she does and to her merry helpers; this week they are Judi @Cooking with Aunt Juju, Molly @Frugal Hausfrau, Steffi @Ginger & Bread and Suzanne @A Pug in the Kitchen. They are awesome ladies and know how to throw a party, so bring your treats and come say hi!

 

Shortbread Christmas Trees

  • Servings: Makes 4 trees
  • Print

 

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Equipment

7.5cm/7cm/6cm/5.5cm/4.5cm/2.5cm star-shaped cookie cutters *

Ingredients

  • 200g unsalted butter, chilled, chopped
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • White frosting pen
  • Cachous or sugar flowers and icing sugar mixture to decorate

Method

  1. Process the butter, sugar, flours and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor, stopping and scraping down sides with a spatula, if needed, until the dough just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently to combine.
  2. Divide the dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until just firm.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan-forced. Line four large baking trays with baking paper.
  4. Roll out 1 portion of dough between two sheets of baking paper until 3mm thick. Using the 7.5cm star-shaped cutter, cut 8 stars from the dough. Repeat with the 7cm star-shaped cutter, re-rolling and cutting the dough trimmings. Place the stars, 2cm apart, on two of the prepared trays. Bake, one tray at a time, for 10 minutes or until just firm to touch, but not browned. Stand the shortbread stars on trays for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Repeat with remaining dough, cutting 8 x 6cm stars, 8 x 5.5cm stars, 8 x 4.5cm stars and 8 x 2.5cm stars from dough, re-rolling and cutting the dough trimmings. Place on prepared trays, except smallest stars. Bake, one tray at a time, for 10 minutes or until just firm to touch, but not browned, adding smallest stars halfway through cooking. Stand on trays for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Once completely cool, decorate the shortbread stars any way you like using the frosting pen. (Make sure to have enough frosting left to dab in the middle of each cookie, which will act like the glue holding the cookies together.)
  7. Place 4 of the biggest stars onto presentation plates. Place some frosting in the centre of each star and top with another same-sized star, rotating the cookie so that the points sit at a different angle to the fist star. Repeat layering with more frosting and the remaining stars, two of each size per tree, except for the smallest starts, to form four Christmas trees.
  8. Add more frosting to the top of each Christmas tree. Working with one tree at a time, sandwich two 2 small stars together and stand them on top of each tree, pressing gently to secure. Pipe any leftover frosting on the trees in a decorative pattern. Set aside to set and then decorate with cachous or sugar flowers and dust liberally with icing sugar.

 

* If you don’t have or don’t want to have so many different sized star shapes, you can make these trees still work really well by only using three different sized star cookie cutters – they will just be a little shorter.

Recipe from Super Food Ideas.

 

 

Sweet Fig and Dark Chocolate Loaf

As some of you know, I’ve been participating in The Kitchn’s Baking School, trying to do the smaller homework assignments each night and then getting my bake on during the weekend.

The homework assignments have led to some mighty tasty baked goods, I must say, including choux pastry, which was turned into mushroom sandwiches; proper, time-consuming puff pastry, which became sweet and crispy allumettes; yeasted dough, which was almost effortlessly transformed into a stollen-like loaf full of dark chocolate, figs and walnuts.

I am not a novice baker, but I have found that the Baking School lessons are laden with information, history, chemical alchemy and tips and tricks that even the most qualified bakers out there would find useful. Although I want to take step back now that we’re coming up to the cake layering and decoration side of things… Still don’t see why I can’t just bake the goodies and leave the decorating to someone else… someone with a lot more patience…

Fig and Chocolate Loaf

A string of events forged a path to this bread. This bread had to be baked. And now.

It started with figs. It occurred to me that we were nearing the end of fig season and I had yet to cook with them. The Baking School lesson for Day 13 was rich yeast breads and sweet breads. I purchased and started reading A Year of Good Eating: The Kitchen Diaries III by Nigel Slater, where, in the very first entry, he evocatively writes about his tradition of baking bread on New Year’s Day. Around the same time, he also published a sweet fig and dark chocolate loaf recipe in his column for The Guardian.

I may not have followed the homework assignment to the letter, but I made the bread that I was meant to make.

Oh and if you make this, do yourself a favour and have a slice while it’s still warm and the chocolate filling is still gooey. Trust me.

It may not be warm any longer because I am so late this week, but I’m bringing the few slices I haven’t eaten to the Fiesta Friday 91 party, joyfully co-hosted this week by Angie @The Novice Gardner, Juju @ cookingwithauntjuju and Indira @ I’ll Cook, You Wash.

Sweet Fig and Dark Chocolate Loaf

Fig and Chocolate Loaf

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 50g butter
  • 250g plain flour
  • 7g easy bake yeast
  • 100ml milk (warmed)
  • 25g sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten)

For the Filling

  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 3 figs (roughly chopped)
  • 100g dark chocolate (chopped into small pieces)
  • 50g walnut halves
  • 40g golden sultanas
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Glaze

  • 50g butter
  • icing sugar

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a small pan, then leave to cool down. Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the yeast then stir in the milk, sugar, salt, cooled butter and the lightly beaten egg. Mix thoroughly – the dough will be soft and rather sticky. Turn out on to a lightly floured board. As you knead, the dough will become less sticky, more like a bread dough. When it is soft, elastic and no longer sticking to the board, transfer to a floured bowl. Set aside in a warm place, covered with a clean tea towel, for a good hour.
  2. For the filling, break the cardamom pods and remove their black seeds. Crush the seeds to a coarse powder using a pestle and mortar or a spice mill. Mix the figs, chocolate, walnut halves, sultanas, cinnamon together.
  3. Dust the work surface with flour and tip your risen dough on to it. Roll out into a rectangle about 24cm x 20cm. Place the longest side towards you and spread the fig filling over the dough, then roll up, swiss-roll style, to form a plump loaf shape. Lift onto a floured baking sheet, cover with a tea towel and return to a warm place to prove for a further hour. Heat the oven to 180°C.
  4. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for about 35-40 minutes until pale gold. Melt the butter for the glaze and brush over the loaf. Cool on a wire rack, then dust generously with icing sugar.

Recipe by Nigel Slater as found on The Guardian’s website.

Apple and Strawberry Crumble with a Chewy Oat Topping

There are just too many distractions around me at the moment. Although, I will admit, that it is kind of my own fault…

I’ve just wrapped up a huge project at work and finally got the 84-page monster off to the printer, I’m participating in The Kitchn’s Baking School, I’m still trying to find the optimum layout for my spices in my new pantry, not to mention the boxes that still need to be unpacked, and, unfortunately, I am watching a lot of TV.

Apple-Strawberry Crumble with Oat Topping

You see, I had to – yes, had to – sign up for pay TV… How else was I going to watch The Great Australian Bake Off?? But access to the food channel brings along with it a whole host of shows that I have suddenly been suckered into watching.

This has made cooking dinner very difficult and taking twice as long as it should…

I am very grateful that these are the worst of my concerns at the moment.

I will admit that I did enjoy a fun evening prepping fruit for a crumble on the coffee table whilst watching some food show.

Apple-Strawberry Crumble with Oat Topping

It that time of year again, that even if you are in a different hemisphere, pumpkin and apple goods are appearing everywhere. Or it could be that they have always been there and I’m just paying more attention to what’s around at the moment.

Whilst at the market hunting for some purple cauliflower, I found some beautiful apple cider-toasted oats, and with strawberries on sale at the next stall, an oat-topped apple and strawberry crumble was a no brainer. It’s seasonal for both my fall-happy friends on the other side of the world and for us here who are experiencing quite a fickle spring.

This worked out quite well seeing as I’m co-hosting Fiesta Friday #90 this week with Angie @The Novice Gardener and Lindy @Love in the Kitchen. Can you believe we’ve had 90 awesome fiestas? Ten to go before what I’m sure will be a huge extravaganza! So join in and share your recipes with us this week and stick around to chat with some lovely people.

Apple and Strawberry Crumble

Apple-Strawberry Crumble with Oat Topping

The amount of fruit needed for a crumble all depends on the size of the baking dish you are using. Just keep cutting fruit until the baking dish is three-quarters full, which will allow room for the crumble topping. If you fill it right to the top, bake it with an empty baking sheet underneath to catch any juices that might bubble over. The amount of fruit I used filled a 33cm x 25cm oval baking dish.

Ingredients

  • 6 apples (peeled and chopped into small, even pieces)
  • 1 punnet of strawberries (cleaned, topped and chopped into quarters)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup demerara sugar (or a bit more depending on taste or the sweetness of your fruit)
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (divided)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 60g all-purpose flour
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • Around 4 grates of a nutmeg seed, or to taste
  • 70g butter (melted)
  • Vanilla ice cream (to serve, optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  2. Toss the chopped apples and strawberries together with the lemon juice and pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle with the sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, and then stir to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, remaining cinnamon and nutmeg. Add in the melted butter and stir to combine. If the mixture is to dry and not clumping, add a little water to help bring the oats together into a soft clumps.
  4. Top the chopped fruit with oat crumble topping, gently spreading the mixture around as much as possible.
  5. Place the baking dish into the oven and bake for about 35 to 45 minutes, or until the oat crumble topping is golden brown – it goes from golden to brown very quickly so keep an eye on it in the last few minutes.
  6. Allow to stand for at least 5 minutes, 10 minutes is better, before serving, with or without ice cream and a teaspoon of sticky juice from the bottom of the baking dish.

Salt Choc Chip Cookies

Don’t get me wrong, I eat my fair share of chocolate. Probably even more than my fair share of chocolate. But if there’s a choice between something sweet and something savoury, I’ll choose the savoury option 99 per cent of the time.

I’ll always choose chips (crisps) over biscuits. Yes, I’ll even choose them over cookies.

I blame the salt.

But these cookies, these delightfully chewy cookies are equally sweet, chocolaty and salty. And when they’re fresh out of the oven, so soft that they’re curving over and the choc chips are still gooey, well, something magical happens when you take you first bite.

Salt Choc Chip Cookies

We had a public holiday today for a sporting event… think what you will about that… and seeing as though we are really not sports-orientated people, a group of us decided to do the least sporty thing we could thing of… have a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon.

There was even a runsheet organised for the day and what kind of snacks were and were not acceptable. These cookies were listed. Twice.

They are that good.

The first time I made them we gorged on them. And I still had enough cookies to take to work the next day so that we wouldn’t eat them all. And everyone who tried them came up to me with wide eyes, making noises you generally don’t want to hear at the office…

Yep, they’re that good.

Even though these cookies don’t taste overly sweet, they do have a fair bit of sugar in them. This is why you should share, you know, cookie style – two for you, one for someone else; two for you, one for someone else… Which is why I am being so very generous and kind by bringing these to the Fiesta Friday #88 party, this week co-hosted by Angie @The Novice GardenerJulie @ Hostess At Heart and Liz @ Spades, spatulas, & spoons

Salt Choc Chip Cookies

  • Servings: makes around 30 cookies
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Salt Choc Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 430g plain flour
  • 1½ teaspoons bi-carb soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 240g unsalted butter (at room temperature and chopped into small cubes)
  • 230g brown sugar
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ a vanilla bean (seeds scraped*) or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 150g dark chocolate chips
  • Approximately 2 teaspoons Maldon sea salt flakes**

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan-forced) or 190°C (conventional). Line two large cookie sheets with baking paper and set aside.
  2. Sift the flour, bi-carb soda and salt together into a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugars until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time and beating after each addition, then add the vanilla.
  4. Mix in the flour, followed by the choc chips.
  5. Roll small tablespoon amounts of the dough into balls and place on the trays, leaving room for the cookies to spread. Press down on the dough lightly and then sprinkle some Maldon sea salt on the top of each cookie.
  6. Bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are lightly golden.

* Don’t throw out the scraped vanilla bean – place it in some sugar to make vanilla sugar.

** Make sure to use sea salt, Maldon or not, but not table salt

Recipe by Camilla Clark.

Vanilla Scones with Strawberry Cream

Have you ever thought about how many different kinds of scones there are? There are sweet scones, like white chocolate and strawberry, herb and cheese savoury scones, fruit-filled scones, butter scones, pumpkin scones, lemonade scones, buttermilk scones, lovely sounding crème fraiche scones that Kitsch n flavours just posted… I could continue for days…

Scones have never really liked me. I can make soufflés and bake croissants, but every scone recipe I’ve tried has ended in disaster.

Vanilla Scones

I have a friend who can speedily and effortlessly whip up a batch of scones without thought. Whilst also cooking lunch. And bread. And happily chatting and drinking wine. She is very skilled at multitasking…

She’s even walked me through her recipe and watched me make it and still has no idea how I messed them up time and time again.

They tasted fine, but boy did they look awful.

Recently, I had to take a morning tea/afternoon tea type treat to an event, and I figured it was the perfect time to try making scones again, and shock horror, they actually turned out pretty well! They tasted great and rose beautifully and evenly, and because these particular scones contain no butter or milk, they were still great the next day.

So seeing as how I am now free from the scone curse, I’m off to experiment with other types of scones and offer these ones up to the Fiesta Friday #70 party. Angie @The Novice Gardener, Dini @Giramuk’s Kitchen and Mollie @The Frugal Hausfrau are your co-hosts this week so it should be a great get-together.

Vanilla Scones with Strawberry Cream

  • Servings: makes 20 to 24 scones
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Vanilla Scones

Ingredients for Vanilla Scones

  • 4 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 cup thickened cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla essence)
  • A few tablespoons of milk
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar (to serve)

Ingredients for Strawberry Cream

  • ¼ cup strawberry jam
  • 1 ½ cups whipped cream
  • 150g fresh strawberries (roughly chopped)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
  2. Sift flour, sugar and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Create a well in the centre and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine cream, milk and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a flat-bladed knife to combine.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until smooth.
  5. Pat the dough out to a 2.5cm-thick round. Using a 5cm scone cutter, cut 12 scones from the dough. Gently press the remaining dough together and repeat.
  6. Place the scones on the prepared tray, allowing a little room for spreading. Using a pastry brush, gently brush some milk on the tops and sides of the scones and then bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.
  7. Remove the scones from the oven, cover with a clean tea towel and stand scones on tray for 10 minutes.
  8. To make the strawberry cream, stir the jam in a bowl until slightly softened. Add the cream and half the strawberries and gently fold through until just combined.
  9. Split scones in half. Top the bases with a dollop of strawberry cream, the remaining strawberries and the scone tops. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Recipe by Julie Jansen from taste.com.

Lemon-Scented Anzac Biscuits

A curious even took place in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.

A trans-Tasman bake off followed by a blind tasting of Anzac biscuits between two universities finally settled the argument once and for all – Australian Anzac biscuits were found to be the better, and sweeter biscuit, and this was according to New Zealanders themselves.

Lemon-Scented Anzac Biscuits

The story appeared in a newspaper that my colleagues, one a proud New Zealander, spent a great deal of time discussing. In another paper on the same day was an article about Maggie Beer’s Anzac biscuit recipe and her work with Camp Gallipoli.

Discussions continued. Arguments ensued. A plan was formed. All eyes around the table turned to me. Apparently, we were going to have our own little Anzac biscuit bake off.

Our New Zealand colleague had a copy of Edmonds Cookery Book, which is the book that the two universities used for their own blind tasting. The Australian recipe apparently came from the Country Women’s Association Cookbook (Australia), but none of us had that.

And since it looked like I was getting suckered into this bake off, I was going to use whatever recipe I wanted, and that was going to be Maggie’s one that I had already stealthily pulled out of the newspaper.

The story behind Anzac biscuits is a bittersweet one. Rations for soldiers in Gallipoli were appalling, and so Australian and New Zealand mothers, wives, sisters and daughters were tasked with creating biscuits that could survive a long sea journey. It is believed that golden syrup was first used as a substitute for eggs as a binding agent during this time. The resulting baked good was a biscuit that travelled well when sealed and offered their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons a homemade ration that was tasty and full of love.

Maggie Beer calls it ‘a recipe born of love and necessity’.

Lemon-Scented Anzac Biscuits

However, there was one strange ingredient listed in Maggie’s recipe for Anzac biscuits. Lemon zest. One persnickety colleague told me after the tasting: ‘They were really good, but they weren’t Anzac biscuits’.

His opinion didn’t matter that much. The unexpected hint of lemon was so good that my colleagues demolished my entire container full of biscuits.

Pretty sure I won that bake off… with the help of Maggie, of course!

I’m bringing these delicious lemon-scented Anzac biscuits to Fiesta Friday #65, created by the wonderful Angie @The Novice Gardener, which I am actually co-hosting for the first time this week with Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook. I’ve been following Jhuls from the very beginning, and I can tell you that she is a lot more creative than she gives herself credit for!

So please join us for this week’s party, it’s a lot of fun and there’s always an abundance of beautiful food to feast on, awe-inspiring recipes and great people to chat with.

It’s not difficult or scary to join: link your post to Angie, Jhuls and my sites so we know that you’ve arrived to the party, and tag your post with ‘Fiesta Friday’ so that other like-minded revellers can find you. Doing so will also ensure that you’re in the running to be in the weekly feature – and we can all admit that when that happens we are ecstatically pleased, chuffed and a just a little proud. If you need them, here are the guidelines. To join, visit the FF #65 party and follow the prompts… easy peasy people!

Lemon-Scented Anzac Biscuits

  • Servings: makes about 30 biscuits
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Lemon-Scented Anzac Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • ¾ cup firm packed brown sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 125g butter
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ teaspoon bicarb soda

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Mix the plain flour, rolled oats, coconut, brown sugar and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the golden syrup and water. Once the butter has melted bring to a simmer over very low heat and then add the bicarb soda carefully as it will fizz.
  4. Add the butter and golden syrup mix to the dry ingredients and fold though.
  5. Roll into balls about 2cm around* and place on a lined baking tray, leaving space in between for the biscuits to spread. Slightly flatten each ball with the back of a teaspoon.
  6. Bake at 160°C for 16 minutes and golden in colour. Allow to cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

* For thin, crispier Anzac biscuits, use small balls of the mixture. For softer, chewer biscuits, make them a little larger, between 5 and 6cm.

Recipe by Maggie Beer.

Easter Egg Muffins

And here is this year’s Easter dessert post…

My sister tells me that I have broken my nephew’s heart. And all it took was a group message to the three kids telling them that I’m not doing Easter eggs this year.

Is that cruel?

Some might think so.

Easter Egg Muffins

But they are not bubbies any more, and they certainly don’t need me to buy them Easter eggs, which for the record, I have not done in many years; instead, they would get a box of their favourite chocolates.

This year is a little different though. All of us are driving up to visit my eldest niece, who is studying interstate. All of us, that is, except for my nephew, who is staying home to work.

So you see, I wouldn’t have seen him to give him chocolate anyhow. He will still end up with a startling amount of Easter chocolate that may or may not get eaten.

easter muffins 2

But I will make amends with my nephew and offer him some Easter Egg Muffins that hold in their centre a baked and melty-gooey mini Easter egg. Baked good always make things better.

Easter Egg Muffins

  • Servings: Makes 12 muffins
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easter muffins 2

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups self-raising flour
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 12 mini chocolate Easter eggs (unwrapped)
  • ¼ cup vanillin sugar (plus extra, for dusting)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Line twelve 1/3-cup capacity non-stick muffin pans with paper patty cases.
  2. Sift flour into a bowl and stir in the sugar then make a well in the centre. Combine egg, oil and milk in a different bowl or jug and then pour the mixture into the well. Using a large metal spoon, stir until just combined. Do not over mix.
  3. Spoon ¾ of the mixture into prepared cases. Press an Easter egg into the centre of each muffin making sure it does not touch the bottom.
  4. Spoon over remaining batter, making sure to cover the Easter eggs completely. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins liberally with vanillin sugar (approximately ½ teaspoon per muffin).
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are light golden and spring back when lightly pressed at centre. Stand in pan for 2 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Serve warm.

Note: The muffins are best eaten on the day that they are baked. Once cooled, they can be individually wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to three months. All the muffins to defrost and enjoy them either at room temperature or warmed briefly in the microwave.

Recipe from Tracey Meharg from Taste.com.au.

Chinese Custard Tarts

Happy Chinese New Year!

The new year has been ushered in amid celebration and confusion.

You see, the yang, the eighth animal in the Chinese Zodiac, refers more to the entire Caprinae subfamily of Bovidae rather than a single animal. So, the yang could in fact be a goat, a sheep, a ram (but apparently not a ewe) or even a Mongolian gazelle.

Chinese Custard Tarts

In French, it has been translated into the Year of the Goat; in English, the Year of Sheep, although there is still no consistency to speak of. Even across Asia, most prefer to have the goat as a visual representation, especially in the zodiac representations, but are purchasing sheep souvenirs, mascots and toys, probably because sheep are seen as the more friendly of the pair.

No matter what animal is represented by the yang, it is bound to be an auspicious year.

So end your Chinese New Year feast with these Chinese custard tarts, the kind that you can find in most Asian bakeries or for dessert after yum cha.

Meanwhile, I will enjoy one of these tarts while I wait for the weekend to arrive, when I know there will be many colourful and lively celebrations and dragon dances across the city. Do you think the sheep or goat dances too?

I’m sure that Angie @ The Novice Gardener and her two co-hosts this week, Tina @Mademoiselle Gourmande and Juju @cookingwithauntjuju! will help us all celebrate the lunar new year with Fiesta Friday #56!

Fiesta Friday Badge Button I party @

 

Chinese Custard Tarts

  • Servings: makes 12 tarts
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Chinese Custard Tarts

Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 150ml pure (thin) cream
  • 125ml milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 sheets ready-rolled frozen puff pastry (25cm x 25xm, thawed)
  • Butter for greasing
  • Icing sugar to decorate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 12-hole muffin pan.
  2. Combine yolks, sugar, cream, milk and vanilla in a jug, mix well and set aside.
  3. Cut one pastry sheet in half. Sit one half on top of the other and roll up from the shortest end to form a log. Repeat with the other pastry sheet.
  4. Cut each log into 6 rounds. Roll out each round on a floured surface to make a 10cm circle.
  5. Press each pastry circle into a greased hole of the muffin pan.
  6. Fill the pastry shells with the custard and bake for 18-20 minutes until puffed at the edges and pale golden on top. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe by Vali Little as found in the delicious. magazine in June 2014.

Homemade Croissants

It’s croissant day, everyone!

I finally tackled croissants. They have been on my baking bucket list for a while now.

A long, long while.

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I have always loved croissants. I remember my family trying to entice me to try other bakery goodies when I was a kid, but I was always happiest biting into a crunchy croissant. Ecstatic even when there was time or the ability to toast them. Other than a bowl of mac and cheese on a stormy day, nothing is more comforting than a toasted cheese and tomato croissant…

Well, nothing was.

Biting into a homemade, fresh-from-the-oven croissant, where the outer crunch gives way to a still-warm, fluffy centre was quite a profound experience.

I recommend that every croissant lover makes them at least once in their lives.

Sure, you’ll be rolling and folding, and rolling and folding, and rolling and folding dough for a quite a while, maybe even days, but it’s worth the effort and the waiting.

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For my first foray into the world of croissants, I chose to go with David Lebovitz’s Whole Wheat Croissants recipe, mainly because you could not have a better teacher when it comes to pastry techniques, and partly because the recipe make 6 croissants, which is plenty for just me. However, I didn’t want my first croissant baking experience to be whole wheat, and since David’s notes mentioned that the recipe would work using all white flour, that is the only time I deviated from the recipe. Croissants are not difficult to make, they are just time consuming, and David has some beautiful instructional photos on his website of the rolling and folding steps.

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With the weekend fast approaching, why not extend croissant day and bake some fresh this weekend?

And we all know that croissants can be turned into delectable desserts, yes? We’re all nodding? If you need proof, just take a look at the caramel croissant pudding that’s up over at the New Recipe Night blog… You’re all in furious agreement now, aren’t you? Yes? I thought so…

So I humbly present these dessert-in-the-making offerings to Angie at The Novice Gardener and to all her co-hosts who help put together our Fiesta Friday parties.

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Happy Fiesta Friday Anniversary Part 2 everyone!

 

Homemade Croissants

  • Servings: makes 6 pastries
  • Print

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David says: ‘Making croissants isn’t hard; one just needs to follow the steps, which are 1) Make the yeasted dough day in advance and let it sit overnight, 2) The next day, make 3 “turns” of the pastry at various intervals, then 3) Shape, proof, and bake the croissants. The most important thing is not to let the butter get too soft. So when rolling and folding the dough, work quickly to get it back in the refrigerator’.

Ingredients

  • 280g white bread flour (preferably) or all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 160ml whole or low-fat milk, very slightly warmed
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt
  • 160g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt

Method

Day 1

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the white and whole wheat flours. Prepare the dough by mixing the yeast with the milk and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, or stir it together in a large bowl. Stir in about one-third of the flour mixture and let the mixture stand until it starts to bubble, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Mix in the rest of the flour and the salt, and stir until all the ingredients are combined. Knead the dough on a lightly floured countertop a few times, just enough to bring it together into a cohesive ball, but do not over-knead. 10-15 seconds should do it.
  3. Put the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight. (Or for at least 6 hours.)

Day 2

  1. Put the cold butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until there are no lumps in the butter, about 15 seconds. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, whack the butter with a rolling pin, turning it a few times, until it’s a cold paste.) Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the counter and place the butter in the middle. Enclose the butter and shape it into a 10 by 8cm rectangle. Chill the butter for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough on a lightly floured countertop, so it forms a diamond shape with four flaps – two on top, two on the bottom, leaving the dough raised a bit in the centre.
  3. Unwrap the chilled rectangle of butter and place it in the centre. Fold the flaps over the butter, sealing the butter completely, and whack the dough with a rolling pin to flatten it out. Roll the dough into a 30 by 22cm rectangle.
  4. Lift up one-third of the left side of the dough and fold it over the centre. Then lift the right side of the dough over the centre, to create a rectangle. Take the rolling pin and press down on the dough two times, making an X across it. Mark the dough with one dimple with your finger to remind you that you’ve made one ‘turn’, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for 45 to 60 minutes.
  5. Do the next turn of the dough the same way, rolling and folding the dough again, making 2 dimples with your finger in the dough, then chill it for another 45 to 60 minutes.

(The resting period between steps #4 and #5 can be longer in case you have other things to do. Feel free to let it rest a couple of hours between each turn. It’ll be fine.)

  1. Do the last turn and folding of the dough and let it chill for an hour. (The dough can be chilled overnight at this point, or frozen.)
  2. To shape the croissants, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured countertop until it’s a 30 by 22cm rectangle. Trim the edges off with a sharp chef’s knife and cut the dough into 3 rectangles, then cut each rectangle diagonally, making 6 triangles. Take one triangle and roll to lengthen it to 28cm long. Starting at the wide end, roll the croissant up toward the point, not too-tightly. Set it point-side-up on the baking sheet and roll the rest of the croissants the same way.
  3. Cover the baking sheet with a large plastic bag (such as a clean trash bag), close it, and let the croissants proof in a warm place until the croissants are nearly doubled and puffed up, which will take 1 ½ to 2 hours. (If you wish, you can chill the rolled croissants overnight. Take them out of the refrigerator and let them proof in a warm place, as indicated.)
  4. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Mix the egg with a pinch of salt and brush each croissant with the glaze. Bake the croissants for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat of the oven to 150ºC, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned. Some butter may seep out during baking, which is normal.

Recipe very, very slightly altered from David Lebovitz’s blog.

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