December 31, 2008

Hummingbird Cake

Now that Christmas is over, it's on with the show! I feel like I can start to enjoy things again because I don't have a million and one plans or things to do! It's new year's eve and I am hoping for a less crazy year next year. Tonight I think we will be dropping in at hubby's work to watch the fireworks from his harbour-view office window (nice view that he gets to look at every day, except not usually with fireworks!).

I had a nice birthday; a bit of shopping and out to dinner, and a whole lot of birthday messages from friends and family. Fun times :). We also got a new fridge which was delivered on my birthday (but was not my birthday present) and I am still excited about it. Not sure if it's weird to be excited about having a new fridge, but I am!

I'd also like to mention that Sumara makes EXCELLENT lemon butter! I don't know what recipe you used Sumara, but it is superb! Thanks for the jar you gave us, that wonderful husband of mine also loves it! I feel that home made gifts are very special because of the thought, time and effort put into them. Well done Sumara, it was a great idea and great success!

And because it's been a while since I last posted something I baked, I am going to post the recipe for the cake I made recently. It had been a while since I made any baked tasties for my husband's office, so I decided to try my hand at a Hummingbird cake. This turned out really well according to the co-workers (hubby brought the left-overs home because it was the last day of work before the office would be closed, no moldy cake for them to return to next year! So I got to try a bit, and I thought it was very good). I think I will have to make it again some time. This recipe comes from taste.com.au


Ingredients (serves 8)
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup pecan nuts, chopped
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup mashed banana (you will need 2 large, ripe bananas)
  • 3/4 cup sunflower oil or canola oil
  • 450g can crushed pineapple in natural juice, well drained
  • Cream cheese icing

  • 60g butter, chopped (I used about 2 tablespoons)
  • 125g light spreadable cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 1/2 cups pure icing sugar, sifted
  • toasted shredded coconut or chopped pecan nuts (I didn't do this, it was fine without).

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base of a 6cm deep, 22cm (base) round cake pan.
  2. Sift flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into a large bowl. Add sugar, coconut and pecans. Stir to combine.
  3. Combine eggs, banana and oil in a large jug. Add egg mixture and pineapple to flour mixture. Using a large metal spoon, gently stir to combine. 4 Spoon batter into pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Make cream cheese icing Using an electric mixer, beat butter, cream cheese, vanilla and icing sugar until smooth.
  5. Spread icing over cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Slice and serve.

On that note, I'll conclude. Happy new year everyone! Hope your 2009 is full of all the good things in life :).

December 23, 2008

Christmas time

Warning, this may be a rambling post....

I think my Christmas Spirit ran away without me this year.

Christmas time is not all that enjoyable to me. I know it should be, but I am always too stressed with trying to figure out how we can possibly have time to see all the family we should, because seeing all the family is what keeps them happy. Why is it that all the families want to have Christmas lunch? Why do none of them ever want to have Christmas dinner instead? Makes it very difficult for us; we can't be in more than one place at a time. The other thing is how long is an "acceptable" amount of time to stay at a family thing (acceptable in that we have spent enough time there for them to feel like we care) if we have to run off to some other family event on the same day? Don't get me wrong, I do love my family, and spending time with them, but I just don't like it when I have to try and see all of them in the same couple of days...

I also really dislike "secret santas", you know, when you get given a name and you have to buy for that person. It's really frustrating for me because I'm not that good at buying presents for people I know well, let alone people I don't know very well. You want to get them something that they will like, but I find that almost impossible if you don't know the person well. I suppose the best thing to do is take a guess and just get them that. I guess that they must do the same, because it shows that they don't know you very well by what they get you. That's why I think that while it's a nice gesture, "secret santas" are a waste of time because generally, everyone gets something they don't want/need. I don't like just buying something for the sake of it.

I don't like Christmas shopping, and I really don't like the crowds of Christmas shoppers. Ok, so I don't love shopping in general, but Christmas time makes it worse than normal.

By the time Christmas is over, I am all partied-out and socialised-out, and just need to veg for a week to get over it... and invariably, I don't feel like doing anything at all on my birthday which is a few days after Christmas. All too soon it is new years....

I wonder if anyone else feels this way around Christmas?

I feel like such a scrooge. Bah, humbug.......

December 15, 2008

Peanut Butter Squares

We went to two weddings last weekend. There was a luncheon/afternoon tea thing that was on after one of the weddings, and I helped out by making a couple of slices. I thought it was the perfect time to try something new, so I decided to make the Peanut Butter Squares from Nigella's book How To Be A Domestic Goddess. (The other slice I made was the tried and true Coconut Ice). The Peanut Butter Squares were very yummy. They have been likened to the American candy: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and I can see why, however this recipe is more delicious in my opinion. Although you really want to keep eating it, it is very rich so it's recommended to cut it into small pieces rather than large.

Ingredients:

for the base:
50g dark muscovado sugar (I used regular brown sugar, and it worked perfectly)
200g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter
200g smooth peanut butter (I used crunchy peanut butter which I think was a better choice)

for the topping:
200g milk chocolate (I used 300g milk chocolate and skipped the dark, as I had none on hand)
100g dark chocolate
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Method:

  1. Stir all the ingredients for the base together until smooth.
  2. Some of the dark muscovado sugar stays in rubbly, though very small, lumps, which is not a problem in this recipe so don’t worry about it.
  3. Press the sandy mixture into the lined brownie tin and make the surface as even as possible.
  4. To make the topping, melt the chocolates and butter together (in a microwave for ease, for a minute or two on medium, stir every minute until melted otherwise it's likely to burn!) and spread on the base. Put the tin in the fridge to set. When the chocolate has hardened, cut into small squares.