Tuesday, 23 December 2014

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

After the craziness of the end of the school year, it's been lovely to be back at home with my family.  This basically means loud chatting, baking, copious cups of tea, shopping trips and lunches out.  I always take advantage of staying at my mother's house because she has two ovens...yes, two.  It's absolute heaven.  This necessity arose when I was a teenager and poor Mum would always have to compete to use her own oven.  She'd be wanting to cook dinner but we'd have a batch of something-or-other baking that just couldn't wait.  So the solution to that problem has served me well and I can have TWO different things baking at TWO different temperatures.....it's the best.

I only ever make biscotti at Christmas time.  Not sure why, exactly but it just feels right.  Biscotti, or biscotto, means "twice-baked" and this scrumptious, crispy little biscuit holds its own against a strong cup of coffee and loud family chatter.  I love this particular recipe because it's not too sweet.  The sugar, chocolate and roasted almond crunch complement each other perfectly.
Chocolate and Almond Biscotti
270g plain flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
30g dark cocoa powder, sifted
165g caster sugar
3/4 cup blanched almonds
3 eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees celsius and line a flat baking tray.  Mix together the flour, baking powder, cocoa, sugar and almonds.  Add the eggs and the vanilla and combine to form a dough.  Your dough consistency can range between smooth and sticky depending on the size of your eggs, but don't add any more flour.
Divide the dough in two and lightly knead each piece on a floured surface until smooth - this won't take long.  Shape the logs and flatten slightly.  Place on your pre-prepared tray and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool completely.
Use a serrated knife to cut the log into 5mm slices.  Place back onto your baking tray and bake for a further 15 minutes until your biscotti are crisp.

Happy baking,
F. x

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Ultimate problem solving.

Let me set the scene...
Every Sunday, I bake for the week ahead.  What I bake will change from week to week except that I always bake a batch of biscuits for lunches and a sweet treat.  Those who know me well, know that in my life, routine is key and I do not like to deviate from my routines unless absolutely necessary.
Today, I had quite a dilemma.  After all of the week's baking, I didn't have enough butter to whip up a batch of bikkies! So I thought and I thought and I searched and I searched (just in case there was some more butter hiding in the nooks of the fridge where butter tends to hide).  After my thinking and much searching I was left standing in the kitchen with a block of Philly cream cheese.....lightbulb!
Here is the recipe for my Chocolate Chip 'Lightbulb' Cookies.  Oh, they are amazing.  These will be becoming a regular part of my Sunday bake routine!

Chocolate Chip 'Lightbulb' Cookies
120g unsalted butter
75g cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
 2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cornflour
2 1/4 cups plain flour
200g chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.  Cream the butter, cream cheese, sugars and vanilla.  When we//-creamed, mix in the egg.  Sift in the baking soda and flours.  Mix well and then give the dough a quick knead until smooth.  Use a spatula to incorporate the chocolate chips.  Roll into tablespoon sized balls and push to flatten a little.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until cooked to your liking.

Wishing you many a successful Sunday bake!

F. x

Friday, 5 September 2014

Cupcake Craziness

This week has been a week of meetings, cupcakes, work, cupcakes, fete, AND cupcakes! I simply adore cupcakes but this has been a little much and I will be happy not to make another late-night or early-morning cupcake for a few weeks.  My little ladybug has also taken to skipping around the house singing the word "cake" so you can see how much cake has featured in our lives, this week!

Thursday afternoon marked our annual school fete.  As is now 'tradition' (or my personal tradition, at least),  my class was responsible for the cake stall.  Even though I knew this was going to be THE craziest week at work, I just couldn't help but get excited about planning my baking.  So I used A moment on the lips... as my recipe book and here's what happened...

Whole Orange Cupcakes with Zesty Cream Cheese Frosting
I used my Orange Cake recipe and baked the cupcakes for 20 minutes.  They turned out perfectly.  Take care not to overcook, however, as they'll get dry very quickly.  The sharpness of the frosting cuts through the sweet orange beautifully.

Sticky Date Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream and a Salted Caramel Drizzle
Sticky Date is my all time favourite dessert and these cupcakes completely did it justice.  Again, I used my Sticky Date Cake recipe and baked for 20 minutes.  They were light and spongy like a steamed pudding - beyond amazing! This is the buttercream recipe and I used the caramel sauce that I drizzle over the top of my Salted Caramel Cheesecake.

Chocolate Sponge with Chocolate Whipped Cream and Sprinkles
The only Chocolate Cake recipe I ever use is my Mum's because it's the best.  The batter is ridiculous and you have to make sure that you employ some self control so that you manage to get some cake into the oven!  These were topped with chocolate whipped cream and sprinkle because they make me smile.  

White Chocolate Mud Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
This is such a lovely recipe that works every time and is absolute heaven for white chocolate lovers....mmmm.  The cupcakes take a lot longer to bake than the others (45 minutes) but would still be worth it if they took 45 hours!  Cupcakes like this make people happy.

They looked amazing all packaged up and the rush was on to get in quickly enough to purchase a box of loveliness!

I urge you to try at least one of these wonderful recipes and let me know all about your beautiful baking adventures!

F. x

Friday, 11 July 2014

Winter + White Chocolate

Think about it...
It's a cold winter evening and you're snuggled on the couch with a lovely knitted blanket over your knees.  What could make this a better picture?  Only biting into a warm white chocolate chunk cookie!

Heaven!  You see, white chocolate and I...well, we have a bit of a 'thing'.  But please don't allow this to hold you back from experimenting with this recipe!  Instead of white chocolate, you could use ANY type of chocolate, chocolate bar, nut or dried fruit.  This is the wonderful cookie recipe of my childhood and you really can do anything with it.

White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
250g butter, unsalted
70g caster sugar
70g brown sugar
1/2 can condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla essence
350g S/R flour
80g plain flour
200g good quality white chocolate, chopped roughly

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.  Cream the butter and sugars until well combined and lightened in colour.  Mix in the condensed milk and vanilla before adding your flours. When your mixture has come together, add the chocolate.  Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place onto baking trays, allowing room for spreading. Bake for 15 minutes or until lovely and golden.

This recipe makes a whole lot of cookies so you could halve the mixture but what would be the fun in that?

F. x

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Beautiful on the inside.

Baking is part of my Sunday routine and I love it.  My Sunday bake is less beautiful and more practical, however as whatever comes out of the oven goes into our lunch boxes.  Now that I'm a mumma, health and wellness through food is vital as I find more and more way to pack in nourishing nutrients.  As a result, this week's recipe is worlds apart from what I normally share with you: not in taste, of course but in nutritional value.  Quinoa flakes and oats form the base of these cookies, packing a fibre and protein punch.  Rapadura and maple syrup replace simple, refined sugar and Chia seeds provide superfood superpowers.  These don't taste unlike ANZAC bikkies but without the nasty sugar high (and low). Perfect for my little ladybug's lunchbox.  If these weren't meant for a lovely little person, I might have considered adding chocolate chips or cacao nibs.  Maybe next time... 

Quinoa, Coconut and Chia Cookies
125g unsalted butter
40g rapadura
30g maple syrup
95g quinoa flakes
90g rolled oats
60g desiccated coconut
1 tbsp white chia seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 egg

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees.  Melt butter and then mix in rapadura and maple syrup until well incorporated.  Add all the dry ingredients and the egg and combine.  Place tablespoons of the mixture onto baking trays and cook for 15 minutes or until you get lovely golden crunchy edges.  Allow to cool slightly before removing from the trays.  Makes 24.

Put your feet up and enjoy munching on one of these with a lovely coffee.

F. x

Saturday, 8 February 2014

A very happy birthday.

Yesterday marked one of my good friend's milestone 30th birthday.  So many of her family and friends celebrated with her last night and for the occasion, I created a darling lilac celebration cake with matching cupcakes.
I must admit to being a little in love with this cake - ok, a lot in love with this cake.  The colour is divine and the cake was absolutely perfect.  This really is a fail safe recipe.  I used my white chocolate mud recipe and baked the cupcakes for forty-five minutes and the large round cakes for an hour and fifteen minutes.  Decorating the cake and cupcakes required four batches of lilac vanilla buttercream and one batch of white buttercream for between the layers.  The cake was topped with Rafaello chocolates which was a very easy and elegant touch.
White Chocolate Mud Cake
250g unsalted butter
150g good quality white chocolate, chopped
2 cups caster sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup SR flour
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten lightly

Preheat over to 140 degrees. Melt butter, chocolate, sugar and milk together over a low heat. Continue stirring, without boiling, until smooth. Pour mixture into your mixing bowl and leave to cool. Whisk in sifted flours before mixing in vanilla and eggs. Bake a 23cm round cake for 75 minutes and cupcakes for 45 minutes. A skewer will not come out completely clean with these cakes but the top of the cake should be springy to touch.  Allow cakes to cool completely before decorating with vanilla buttercream.

Vanilla Buttercream
150g unsalted butter
400g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk

Beat butter for 4-5 mins until very light in colour. Stir through the vanilla before adding icing sugar and milk. Once icing sugar is incorporated, beat on a high speed for 2-3 minutes. Colour as desired.

Happy 30th Birthday, Jem!

F. x