December 27, 2010

Book Review: A World of Cake by Krystina Castella


Well, life has certainly been very busy lately.  I hope you all had a very special Christmas :)

Something exciting that has happened lately is that I've been sent a delightful cook book to review: A World of Cake, by Krystina Castella!  What's even more exciting, is that the publishing company (Storey Publishing) is very generously offering a copy of this book as a giveaway to one of you lovely people!  I'll explain how you can be in the draw in a moment, but right now I want to talk about how awesome this book is!

A World of Cake is not just a beautifully presented cake recipe book, it's also a stroll through the history of the origin of different cakes from all over the globe.

"From scratch" is what comes to mind as I read the recipes in this book; Many of the recipes are made without using pre-made ingredients. That being said, some of these recipes may take a bit of time to make. One thing I would always recommend (not just for this book) is reading the recipe right through from beginning to end, so that you don't get caught out finding that you need to make something like jam while you're in the middle of the recipe. What I normally do is either make certain parts the day before (eg. Make the red bean paste for Japanese red bean buns) or set aside a good block of time in the kitchen.

I really love making things from scratch. It gives me such a wonderful sense of achievement to be able to say that I made every part of a recipe myself. And Generally, I just don't have the pre-made ingredients a recipe calls for, but I do have the ingredients to make them! I believe Homemade is generally best (eg. Lemon curd)! Though I am certainly not opposed to saving time by using pre-made things if you don't have much time up your sleeve.

What I was really very impressed with, was the variety of cakes in this book. They are not just the traditional "what you would consider as cake" sorts of cakes. You know, the dense, buttery, moistness of mud cake or fluffy goodness of sponge cake. There are cakes from all over the world that have a much different texture to the average Australian cake (eg. fried cakes, steamed cakes, crispy cakes etc).  There are cakes from many different countries: Africa, India, Japan, Spain and even Australia & New Zealand - to name a few.

The recipes are easy to follow, and informative. There are gorgeous photos throughout. There is a great section at the back which talks about how to make all different sorts of cake icing (that's frosting, for the americans!).

What I am particularly keen to make is the red bean balls from the japan section, because I've never made them, and I've never come across a recipe for them! And besides that, they are super tasty!

I have bookmarked many recipes to try out already & can't wait til I can spend some quality time in my kitchen with this great book.

Now: the details on how you can be in the draw to receive a copy of this wonderful book for yourself!

Leave me a comment with your name and a description of your favorite sort of cake, then tell me why it's the best! The draw will be random to give people equal opportunity to win. This competition is open to all readers wherever you are. Entries close midnight 1st January 2011, Sydney Australia time +10hrs (+1hr Daylight saving) GMT.  Once I draw the winner, I will be in contact to get your address details, and the publishing company will send you the book directly.

Now, get describing! :)

November 15, 2010

Lemon Sour Cream Cake

I've been neglecting my blog lately because of the enormous amount of things going on in my life.  There has also been a very big lack of baking lately.

So, today, I bring you a post that has been sitting in my drafts and waiting for me to add the photos to it... I'm finally getting around to it...

Do you ever buy sour cream for something specific and then forget why you bought it? This seems to happen to me whenever I buy sour cream (or cream for that matter). It sits there all lonely in my fridge until I either remember what I bought it for, or I think of something new. This was one of those "I can't remember what I bought this for" times, and so I decided to make it into a cake. Lemon sour cream cake, yum!




Prep Time - Approx. 30 min Cooking Time - 50 minutes

Ingredients (serves 8)
Melted butter, to grease
125g butter, at room temperature
215g (1 cup) caster sugar
2 eggs
1 x 300g ctn sour cream
1 tbs finely grated lemon rind
150g (1 cup) self-raising flour
150g (1 cup) plain flour
60ml (1/4 cup) fresh lemon juice
Ice cream or cream to serve


Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a square 20cm round cake pan with melted butter or cooking spray. Line with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until combined. Add the sour cream and lemon rind and beat until well combined.
  3. Use a large metal spoon to fold the combined flours and lemon juice into the egg mixture until just combined. Spoon into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake in oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  4. Serve warm with ice cream or cream.
Note: You can also make a lemon syrup to pour on top using 1 cup caster sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup lemon juice. Place the sugar water and lemon juice in a 1 litre microwave safe jug, heat in the microwave for about 3 min, stirring every minute or until the sugar is dissolved. While the cake is hot, use a bamboo skewer to prick the top of the cake all over. Pour over the syrup. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool slightly. Remove from the pan and serve.

September 11, 2010

Choc chip, Nutty Oatmeal Cookies

I have been searching for the perfect oatmeal cookie for a while now. Every other oatmeal cookie I've ever made just hasn't really "done it" for me. I decided I might just try and make up a recipe myself instead. I got this brainwave when I was trying to use up about-to-expire pantry ingredients... and oh wow, yum! I think my search is over! (Unfortunately if you're a "nut-free" household, this is not the cookie for you. Sorry.)

I wonder if I will ever get round to blogging that list of things I promised a few posts ago.... not today it seems!

No photos... (have been in an absolute photographic slump for quite some time...) might snap a photo tomorrow, but for now, enjoy the recipe!


Makes about 24 cookies - depending on how big or small you want to make them

Ingredients
125g butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
1 1/4 cup SR flour
1/2 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts
250g white choc chips

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, line baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add egg and beat well.
  4. Stir in rolled oats, hazelnut meal, and flour.
  5. Stir in peanuts and choc chips.
  6. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on prepared baking tray, leaving about 2 inches/5 cm around cookies to allow for spreading.
  7. Bake for 8min or until slightly set (they will firm up once cooled). Don't let them brown too much unless you want a crunchy cookie (I prefer mine to be chewy).
  8. Cool on trays.

August 15, 2010

Yoghurt Berry Banana Bread


This bread is delicious toasted, and spread with butter. Or even just served warm.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
3/4 cup plain flour
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 overripe bananas, peeled and mashed
200g (3/4 cup) low fat greek natural yoghurt
2 eggs, lightly whisked
60g butter, melted and cooled
200g fresh or frozen berries (I used frozen raspberries)

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Spray a 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan with spray oil and line with baking paper.
  2. Sift flours together into a large bowl and add sugar.
  3. Whisk together banana, yoghurt, eggs and butter in a large jug until well combined. Add to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  4. Gently fold in the berries
  5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
  6. Bake in oven for 1 hr or until skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  7. Set aside in the pan for 5 min to cool before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into slices.
  8. Serve warm, or toasted, with butter.

July 31, 2010

Quick Cinnamon Scrolls

I know I promised I'd blog about other things, but who doesn't love easy cinnamon scrolls? A while back, I posted this recipe for cinnamon scrolls. It was long and involved and the results of that baking adventure were well worth it, but if you don't have 5 hours to spare to make them, then this might be more your cup of tea...

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups self raising flour
1 tbs caster sugar
100g butter, chilled, chopped into small cubes
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbs maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan forced). Grease and line with baking paper: a 3cm deep 19 x 29cm base slice pan.
  2. Combine flour and caster sugar in a bowl. Rub in the butter until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  3. Combine milk and egg in a jug. Stir into flour mixture until a soft and sticky dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 30 seconds or until smooth..
  4. Roll dough out to a 30cm x 40 cm rectangle.
  5. Combine nuts, brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon in a bowl. Mix together then spread evenly on top of dough rectangle.
  6. Roll up dough tightly from one long side. Using a serrated knife, trim ends. Cut roll into 12 slices. Place slices in prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 min or until golden.
  8. Serve warm.

July 4, 2010

Things have been quiet around here...

Things have been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately. Too much other stuff in life going on. I've still been making things and will blog about all the yummies some time soon.

These things will be coming up on the blog so until I post them, here's an indication of what you can look forward to:
  • How to make lemon curd
  • How to make yogurt
  • Slice recipes
  • Cookie recipes
  • Choc chip banana bread

June 1, 2010

Banana-oat Cookies

Some of you may have seen this on Facebook, but I decided it should go on the blog too.....

So I had a lone banana in my fruit bowl that was going black. Not enough banana for banana bread so I decided to see if I could make it into a cookie. This is the result.


Ingredients

125g butter softened
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 large over-ripe mashed banana
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup rolled rolled oats
100g milk choc chips

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C . Line baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add egg and vanilla essence, and beat until combined.
  4. Add in mashed banana and mix well.
  5. Sift in flour and baking powder, and mix until combined.
  6. Mix in oats and choc chips.
  7. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto prepared trays and flatten with a fork.
  8. Bake for 9 minutes, edges should be only slightly browned. They may not look like they're cooked because they are quite pale, but don't over cook them.
  9. Cool on trays.

May 23, 2010

Oreo & cocoa pop slice

I've been meaning to post this recipe for a while now but life has been hectic lately. So anyway, this slice is something I threw together when I needed to use up the rest of a packet of cocoa pops.

I found it difficult to stop at one piece. I wanted to eat the whole tray of it, and I may well have eaten way too much of it, but it was just too good not to eat. It's so simple, yet so pleasing. I will definitely be making this again. Though perhaps next time I'll make sure I'm making it for a specific event so that I don't end up eating it all.

Ingredients

150g broken up and lightly crushed Oreos
1 cup cocoa pops
1/3 cup choc covered peanuts or plain unsalted peanuts
100g marshmallows, chopped
2 tbs crunchy peanut butter
500g milk chocolate, melted

Method
  1. Grease a slice tin and line with baking paper.
  2. Chop the marshmallows.
  3. Break up the oreos into small pieces and lightly crush (I did a once-over with a rolling pin).
  4. Melt the chocolate and peanut butter together and stir until smooth.
  5. Mix the rest of the ingredients into the melted chocolate mixture until combined.
  6. Spread mixture evenly into the prepared slice tin and set in the fridge until firm.
  7. Once firm, cut slice into squares.
  8. Store in the fridge (can also be stored at room temperature if it's not the middle of summer).

April 24, 2010

Baileys Coconut Fudge

If you love fudge & Baileys Irish Cream, and I know I do, you will most certainly like this. This was gone within hours of making it (no, I didn't eat it all myself, although I was tempted). I was inspired to create this fudge came when I saw a this fudge recipe on Steph Chows.
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Baileys Coconut Fudge

Ingredients
400g can sweetened condensed milk
250g milk chocolate, chopped
3 tbs Baileys Irish Cream
1 cup desiccated coconut

Method
  1. Prepare a regular sized slice tin by greasing it and lining it with baking paper. (I usually use spray oil which works well).
  2. In a medium saucepan, pour sweetened condensed milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Stir in chocolate. Stir gently until all the chocolate is melted.
  4. Pour in Baileys Irish Cream and stir until combined.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in coconut.
  6. Pour into prepared slice tin and refrigerate until firm (usually takes a couple of hours, but you could leave it overnight if you wish).
  7. Once set remove from pan and cut into squares.

March 15, 2010

Peppermint Slice

This slice is one of my favourites. I was a bit unsure how good it would be the first time I made it but it turned out fabulously and it is one I will be making again and again (much to the disappointment of my sister, who is not a peppermint fan, and prefers good old choc chip cookies)

If you like peppermint and milk chocolate, you will almost definitely like this. Though if you prefer dark chocolate, you could substitute the milk chocolate for that.

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Prep time 40 min, plus 20 min setting time.
Cooking time 15 min.

Ingredients
125 g butter, chopped
100g milk chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
extra 200g milk chocolate, chopped (for the topping)

Peppermint filling:
60g butter, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp peppermint essence
Green food colouring (optional)

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease a slice tin and line with baking paper.
  2. Put butter, chocolate and sugar in a microwave safe jug and microwave on high for 30 seconds, then stir. If the chocolate is mostly melted, keep stirring the mixture until it melts completely, the heat from the surrounding mixture should melt it (if you have to put it back in the microwave, put it in for only 10 seconds, then stir, again, if it is mostly melted, stir until it is completely melted. You shouldn't need to put it in again, but if you do, make sure you only do 10 seconds at a time, as it is very easy to burn chocolate). Alternatively you can melt it all together over low heat on the stove.
  3. Stand melted mixture (removed from heat) for about 3 minutes.
  4. Then add eggs and vanilla extract. Stir to combine.
  5. Sift flour and baking powder over mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for 15 min.

To make peppermint filling:
  1. Beat butter until light and pale.
  2. Add icing sugar, milk, peppermint essence and a couple of drops of food colouring. Beat until combined and colour is even.
  3. Spread peppermint filling over cold chocolate base.
  4. Set aside for 20 min or so to set (I put mine in the fridge).

Chocolate top:
  1. Melt extra chocolate in the microwave (using the same method as above). Cool for a couple of minutes.
  2. Spread on top of set peppermint filling.
  3. Stand the slice in a cool dry place until chocolate has just set, then cut the slice into squares. It is important not to let the chocolate become rock-hard before you cut it, as if you do, it will be very difficult to cut the slice and the chocolate will break all over the place.

February 28, 2010

Sweet potato oaty spice cookies

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I made these cookies from BakingBites.com a little white ago. Head on over there for the recipe. I am always on the lookout for interesting-looking cookie recipes, and this one certainly fit the bill, as it incorporated many ingredients that I wouldn't have thought of putting together.

I actually made no changes at all to the recipe, but somehow I still felt that something extra was needed. I'm not sure what. You might want to experiment with it yourself.

I have been searching for the perfect oatmeal cookie. I have yet to find it, but these were pretty good. As were these. Not quite sure if ANZAC biscuits fit into this category, but they are good too.

What about you? Do you have a favourite recipe for oatmeal cookies?

February 15, 2010

White choc chip Nutella Cookies

Yum. That's all I have to say :)

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Ingredients
125g Butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 3/4 cup Self Raising flour
1/4 Nutella
1/2 cup white choc chips

Method
  1. Preheat over to 180 C. Line cookie trays with baking paper.
  2. Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  3. Add in egg and vanilla essence and beat until combined.
  4. Stir in Nutella.
  5. Add flour and stir until it has all been mixed in.
  6. Fold in choc chips.
  7. Roll into small balls and place on cookie trays, leaving room for them to spread.
  8. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 min.
Enjoy!

January 25, 2010

Ginger Crunch Slice

This slice is just delicious. For me, it's all about the icing. The base makes it all the more easy to eat the icing without the sweet-ness overkill of eating icing on it's own. I could eat this all day, it is incredibly more-ish. I made this for one of our Christmas gatherings, and I really just wanted to leave it at home in the fridge so that I could keep it all to myself (however bad that might have been for my weight!). I got lots of comments about how yummy it was. Thank you Laura for opening my eyes to the wonderment that is Ginger Crunch Slice!

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Ginger Crunch Slice adapted from Hungry and Frozen

Ingredients

Base:
250g soft butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ginger (or more if you really like the taste of ginger)
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Icing:
100g butter
3 heaped tablespoons golden syrup
2-3 teaspoons ground ginger
2 1/2 cups icing sugar

Method
Making the base:
  1. Set the oven to 180 C. Grease a slice tin (rectangle 16cm x 26cm) and line with baking paper. You can pre-toast the oats if you so desire (it's personal preference, I toasted them the first time I made this, but forgot to do it for the second time - if pre-toasting, just put the oats in the slice tin in the oven for a few minutes while the oven is heating up).
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. (If you pre-toasted the oats, take them out now) Add oats, ginger, flour and baking powder to the butter/sugar mixture.
  4. Stir together until combined but still clumpy. Tip this mixture into the brownie tray, pressing down evenly.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes till nicely golden on top.
Making the icing:
  1. While base is in the oven baking heat butter, golden syrup and ginger in a small pan over a low heat.
  2. When it has all combined nicely, remove from heat and stir in the icing sugar.
  3. When the base is cooked, pour icing over it, and smooth out if need be.
  4. Refrigerate until set before slicing into squares.
I store mine in the fridge, but I think it would be fine to leave it in an air-tight container at room temperature.

January 11, 2010

Home-made Chai flavoured ice-cream

Until recently, I had only made home-made ice-cream a few times; once or twice when we used to own an ice-cream maker, and once when I made the margarita ice-cream from Nigella Express. (If margarita ice-cream sounds good to you, you can see the recipe on Cookie-Baker Lynn's blog). I also recently made the Ginger ice-cream from Laura's blog: Hungry and Frozen, as well as her Chocolate Coconut ice-cream (except I used white chocolate instead). Both were great successes, although I wasn't as impressed with my Chocolate Coconut ice-cream attempt until a few days later, I think it got better with age, if that's possible for ice-cream!

I have always thought I would rather buy ice-cream than make it, but from what I've tried recently, it's not too difficult and you get to add all these wonderful flavours that you would never be able to buy at the shops. This recipe for Chai-flavoured ice-cream is just one example of something that is not available to buy pre-made (at least not here in Australia). I think it turned out rather well.


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Ingredients
600 Ml milk
1 cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods, lightly bruised
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
300ml can condensed milk

Method
  1. Place the milk, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring to just below boiling point. Remove from heat and allow to infuse for 20 min.
  2. Strain the milk into a jug, then set aside.
  3. Beat eggs and sugar in a bowl until thick and pale.
  4. Gradually add the strained milk, whisking continuously until combined.
  5. Return the mixture to a clean saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring, for 2-3 min until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  6. Stir in the condensed milk.
  7. Pout the mixture into a shallow container and freeze for about 2 hrs or until frozen at the edges. Remove from the freezer and beat the mixture. Pour back into the container and refreeze. Repeat 2 or 3 times.

January 5, 2010

Muesli Slice

Ok, on with the backlog of recipes to post! I hope you've all had a lovely Christmas and enjoyed your new years celebrations.

I know I'm really not very good at blogging regularly, nor do I think my little introductions are particularly interesting, however, it's always very nice to receive comments from my readers (all two of you that I know about - Hi Laura and Sumara!), and it is certainly handy to keep this blog so that I can find recipes for things I've made previously. I have that many cook-books and recipe magazines, they almost take up a whole bookshelf (which is about 1.5m x 1.5m in size).

Anyway, on to the recipe! This was a huge hit in my husband's office. I think it's because this slice masquerades itself as something healthy with all that muesli and breakfast-y type natural stuff (honey, sunflower seeds, pepitas etc). My husband said this may possibly be the best slice I've ever made. I hope you like it.

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Ingredients
3 cups toasted fruit muesli
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup pepitas
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup shredded coconut
125g butter, chopped
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Method
  1. Grease a slice tin (16cm x 26cm base) and line with baking paper allowing a 2cm overhang on long sides (this helps you to get the slice out of the pan when it comes time to cut it).
  2. Combine muesli, apricots, slivered almonds, pepitas, sunflower seeds and coconut in a large bowl.
  3. Place butter, honey, peanut butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 min or until mixture has thickened.
  4. Add butter mixture to muesli mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Press mixture into prepared pan. Smooth top. Cove and refrigerate overnight or until set.
  6. Remove slice from slice tin, and cut into squares.