About Me

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What can I say?? I just love to bake!! Ever since I would go to Grandma's house as a little girl and bake highlight cakes or help Ninny make her famous vanilla cookies, I've been obsessed with baking! Not only from recipe books, but freestyle too! With a father as a chef, i suppose it is in my genes! Some of my favourite memories from growing up were those moments after dinner when my dad would get his sweet tooth pang and have me help him whip up a batch of toffee fruit kebabs, or irish caramels! I used to love how he never followed recipes, he always just knew what ingredients worked with one another and how to play with quantities. So, from an early age, i had learnt from the master and i was well on my way to bake on my own! When i was 7 years old, i used to bake chocoloate cakes to sell to the mothers of my friends when they came to watch our Saturday morning minkey hockey games! Before i knew it, i was being commissioned from my school teachers to bake cakes for them at $2 a pop! This blog holds just a few of my favourite tried and tested recipes which I've thoroughly enjoyed both baking and eating! So enjoy!!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Creme Brierlie!

Cooking Time: 30 mins
Preparation Time: 20 mins
Serves: 6

 - 6 egg yolks
 - 110g white sugar
 - 1 tsp vanilla essence
 - 2 1/2 cups thickened cream
 - 2tbs brown sugar

1)  Preheat oven to 150'C

2)  Beat egg yolks, 4 tablespoons of the white sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until thick and creamy.

3)  Stir the cream in a medium saucepan over a low heat until it almost comes to the boil.  Remove from the heat and add cream to egg yolk mixture.  Mix to combine.

4)  Pour cream mixture into the top of a double boiler or a medium bowl set over a medium saucepan of simmering water.  Stir until mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon, then pour into your prepared dish(es).

5)  Bake for 30 mins or until just set.  Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature before refridgerating for 3 hours or overnight.

6)  Before serving, combine remaining white sugar with the brown sugar in a small bowl.  Sift the sugar mixture evenly over your custard (or individual dishes) and cook under a preheated griller for 2 minutes, or until the sugar caramelises.  Remove from the heat and cool for 10mins before serving.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Another birthday in the family means.... another baking creation on the cards!  As it was my brother's birthday on Monday 18th October, I decided to go for something chocolatey (his favourite) and what better than this Brooklyn Blackout Cake (aka Chocolate fudgy cake!)  It looks wonderful once it's all dolled up and rearing to go in all it's layered glory - and between you and I, the chocolate custard filling is, quite simply, TO DIE FOR!  With this recipe, you can either make a whopper of a cake, or alternatively make a eight mini individual layered cakes as an alternative to the more 'streamlined' desserts at dinner parties!  (both are pictured below)

Preparation Time: 30 mins
Cooking Time: 25-30 mins
Serves: 10-12

 - 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
 - 260g castor sugar
 - 2 eggs
 - 1/4 tsp vanilla
 - 45g cocoa
 - 3/4 tsp baking powder
 - 3/4tsp bicarb soda
 - 170g plain flour
 - 160ml whole milk

(If you're making a large cake, you will need to double the cake mixture ingredients)

Chocolate Custard:
 - 500g castor sugar
 - 1tsp golden syrup
 - 125g cocoa
 - 200g corn flour
 - 85g unsalted butter
 - 1/2tsp vanilla

1)  Preheat oven to 170'C

2)  Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

3)  Add the eggs, one at a time, then turn the mixer to slow and beat in the vanilla, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb soda until well mixed.

4)  Add in half the flour, then all the milk and finish with the remainder of the flour.  Mix well until it's all combined.

5)  Pour the mixture into your three prepared cake tins (20cm) and bake in your preheated oven for 25-30mins, or until firm to touch and a testing skewer comes out with moist crumbs stuck to it.

6)  Cool slightly before turning out on a wire rack.

7)  To make the custard, put the sugar, golden syrup, cocoa and 600ml water in a lrage saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally.

8)  Mix the cornflour with 120ml water, then whisk into the cocoa mixture in the saucepan.  Bring this to the boil, whisking constantly.  Cook until it becomes very thick (this will take about 6-8 mins), then remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.  Pour your custard into a bowl and cover with cling film, leaving it to cool and for it to become firm.

9)  Once your cakes and custard are cool, place one cake on your cake stand and start spreading the custard onto it, spreading a 1cm layer evenly on top.  Stack another cake onto this and repeat until you have three layers.  Using the remaining custard, spread an even layer on top, also covering the sides of the cake (as pictured).  It helps if you have a palette knife to do this.  Decorate with crushed up flake or decorate as you see fit, after all, it's your creation!!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Mini Banana'n'Walnut & Nutty Apple Loaves

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Serves: 8 mini loaves

 - 115g butter, at room temperature
 - 115 castor sugar
 - 115g SR flour
 - 2 eggs
 - 50ml milk
 - 1tsp ground cinnamon
 - 2 ripe bananas
 - 1 tsp vanilla essence
 - 70g chopped walnuts
 - 1 apple, peeled and diced

 1)  Preheat oven to 180'C and lightly grease your mini loaf tin (or muffin tin).

2)  Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

3)  Sift in the flour and cinnamon, stirring to blend it all together.

4)  Add in your chopped walnuts and vanilla.

5)  Split you mixture into two even bowls.

6)  With a fork, mash your bananas to puree and mix into one bowl.

7)  Add your peeled and diced apple into the other bowl.

8)  Pour your mixture into your prepared loaf tins and top the apple loaves with slices apple and the banan loaves with a few walnuts.

9)  Bake for 20 mins, or until light and spongey to the touch.

Rosemary Focaccia with Sundried Tomato & Olives

Preparation Time: 30mins
Cooking Time: 55mins
Serves: 6

 - 1 1/2 cups warm water
 - 1 1/2 tbs instant dried yeast
 - 1 tbs castor sugar
 - 3 cups strong bread flour
 - 2 tbs sea salt flakes
 - 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
 - Approximately 1 cup rosemary sprigs
 - Approximately 1/2 cup sundried tomatos
 - Approximately 1/2 cup olives

1)  Place warm water into a large jug. Sprinkle over dried yeast and sugar, stir until yeast has dissolved (You may need to use your fingers to help dissolve some of the yeast). Cover with cling wrap and stand at room temperature for 10 minutes to activate yeast.

2)  Meanwhile place flour and salt into a large bowl, run a whisk through the flour to help mix through the salt and aerate the flour. Make a well in the centre of flour and pour in the yeast mixture and oil.

3)  Using a wooden spoon, gently stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using your hands knead dough for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic (lightly dust surface with more flour if dough starts sticking).

4)  Using hands gently press and pull dough with fingertips to cover the base of a large oiled deep oven tray, making sure dough is approximately 1cm thick.

5)  Cover tray with a tea-towel and place in a warm oven (about 75°C) with the door open for 30 minutes or until dough has doubled in height.

6)  Remove tray from oven. Preheat oven at 220°C/200°C (fan forced) for at least 10 minutes. Brush dough with extra oil. Gently press your fingertips into top of dough, about 1cm deep at 3cm intervals, randomly insert rosemary springs, sundried tomato and olives into holes.  Sprinkle with extra salt.
7)  Place a roasting dish filled with boiling water on bottom oven rack to create steam. Return tray to oven without tea-towel; cook for 25 minutes or until golden brown and top sounds hollow when tapped.

8)  Serve warm with extra olive oil for dipping or pesto if desired.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Fairy Toadstool Meringues!!

Preparation Time: 30 mins
Cooking Time: 45 mins
Serves: 20

 -  4 egg whites
 -  250g castor sugar
 -  Pink food colouring

1)  Preheat oven to 150’C and line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2)  Whisk your egg whites until they form soft peaks and then slowly add in your sugar, one lot at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated and the egg mixture becomes white and glossy.

3)  Split your meringue mixture into two bowls and colour one bowl with a couple of drops of pink food colouring, folding the colouring into the mix until it's all blended in.

4)  Fill your piping bag with the white meringue mixture and pipe 15-20 cylinder shapes onto your baking tray, being sure to leave plenty of room at the top of each one for the 'fairy toadstool head' and also plenty of room between each one. (about 1.5inches is enough, as they tend to spread a bit in the baking process).  You will need a about 2tbs of white meringue mixture left over for decorating.

5)  Clean out your piping bag and replace it with pink meringue mixture.  Pipe a round pink 'mushroom' head on each stork.

6)  Using your left over white meringue mixture and a kebab skewer, dot small little spots on your fairy toadstool's - a very effective finishing touch!

7)  Bake for 35-40mins and allow to cool before turning out onto a wire rack.

Strawberry TART!

Preparation Time:  30 – 45 mins
Cooking Time:  25 mins
Serves: 10-12

For the filling:
 -   4 egg yolks
 -   70g Castor sugar
 -   3tbs plain flour
 -   300ml milk
 -   1/8tsp salt
 -   1 tsb Vanilla
 -   450g Strawberries
 -   5tbs Red currant jelly
 -   1tbs orange juice

For the shortcrust pastry:
 -   190g plain flour
 -   1/2tsp baking powder
 -   1/4tsp salt
 -   1tbs Castor sugar
 -   Grated rind of ½ orange
 -   85g Cold butter – cubed
 -   1 egg yolk
 -   3-4tbs whipping cream

**Or you could just buy some sweet shortcrust pastry from the supermarket – but my grandmother would call you a ‘cheat’!!  (As she did me, when I was short on time!!)

To make the custard filling:
1)  Beat the egg yolk and sugar together until it becomes thick and lemon coloured; then gradually stir in the flour.

2)  In a saucepan, bring the milk and salt to the boil then remove from the heat immediately. 

3)  Whisk in the egg mixture, then return to the stove to continue whisking over a moderate to high heat until it’s just bubbling.  You’ll want to cook this for 3 minutes to thicken the custard. 

4)  As soon as it starts to thicken, transfer the custard to a bowl.

5)  Add in your vanilla, then stir to blend in.

8)  Cover the custard in greaseproof paper to prevent a ‘skin’ forming.

To make the pastry:
1)  Preheat oven to 200’C

2)  Stir in your sugar and orange rind.

3)  Add the butter and cut in with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles course bread crumbs.

4)  Stir in the yolk and add just enough cream to bind the dough.

5)  Gather into a ball and wrap in grease proof paper, then refrigerate for an hour or so.

6)  On a floured surface, roll out your pastry to 3mm thick and transfer to a 10in/25s, pie tin.

2)  Or, if you’re using pre-made pastry, line your tray well until all the sides are covered and the base is tucked in nicely.  Run a knife along the top edge of the tray to trim any uneven ends.

3)  Prick the base of the pastry a few times with a fork and line with crumpled baking paper.  Fill the base of the tray with rice or pastry weights and blind bake for 15mins in your preheated oven. 

4)  After 15mins, remove rice/weights and baking paper and continue to bake for a further 6-8mins, or until golden.  Let the pastry cool completely.

To put it all together:
1)  Spread an even layer of your prepared filling in the pastry case, then arrange your berries on top.

2)  Melt your jelly and orange juice in pan to dissolve, then brush over your strawberries to glaze the tart.

3)  Eat it up and share with your favourite people!

Decorating the tart...

Greek Shortbread

I just LOVE this Greek Shortbread recipe!  They are SO delicious (albeit, a little naughty with all the butter content!) But still, very handy to have in the cupboard for when you have your girlfriends round for coffee. 

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time:  15 mins
Serves: 20-25

 -   115g Walnuts
 -   225g Unsalted butter
 -   115g Castor sugar
 -   1 tsp Vanilla
 -   225g Plain flour
 -  Icing sugar to dust

1)  Preheat oven to 180’C and line baking trays with grease proof paper.

2)  Grind your walnuts (or chop/bash until crushed but still a bit ‘nutty’)

3)  Transfer nuts to a bowl and mix in your butter until blended.

4)  Add in the sugar and vanilla and stir well to blend all ingredients.

5)  Sift in the flour and work into a dough.

6)  Now here’s the fun bit!  Take a large teaspoon amount of dough and form into a crescent  shape on your prepared trays.  You’ll want to leave a good inch between crescent’s, as they tend to spread slightly in the oven.

7)  Bake in preheated oven for 15 mins, or until just golden.

Chocolate & Hazelnut Meringues

Last Sunday we had all the family round for a lazy lunch and as per ususal I was on the dessert committee, made up of the team 'me, myself and I'!  I honestly don't mind it though (in fact, between you and I, I actually love being the sole dessert-er!)   Out of my three sweet creations, this one was the winner by a long shot!!  Who doesn't love something a bit chocolatey and nutty??

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 45 mins
Serves: 12-15

 -  6 egg whites
 -  400g castor sugar
 -  4tbs dark cocoa powder
 -  4tbs chopped hazelnuts
 -  3tbs chopped milk chocolate

 -  milk chocolate and chopped hazelnuts for decorating

1)  Preheat oven to 150’C and line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2)  Whisk your egg whites until they form soft peaks and then slowly add in your sugar, one lot at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated and the egg mixture becomes white and glossy.

3)  Fold in the cocoa powder, chopped hazelnuts and chocolate.

4)  Spoon the mixture into large dollops on your baking tray (bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a baseball!)

5)  Bake for 45mins, then turn off the heat and leave meringues to cool in the oven with the door ajar.

6)  When meringues are cool, melt down a few cubes of milk chocolate then drizzle on top of the meringues and top with chopped hazelnuts.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Banana & Coconut Muff's

You know that feeling when you crave something a bit 'naughty' but don't want to blow the diet??  Well this recipe should do the trick!  They're so easy to make and don't taste 'healthy' at all!  You can vary the recipe to your liking, but mine were banana and coconut filling with granola sprinkled on top.  Alternatively, you could use the same muffin recipe and add apple & cinnamon with granola or blueberry or raspberry or... whatever you like, really!! 

Cooking time:  20 mins
Preperation time:  10 mins
Serves: 6 big fat boy serves or 12 normal

 - 3 ripened bananas
 - 1 cup brown sugar
 - 1/2 cup coconut
 - 2 tbs low fat margarine
 - 1 egg, beaten
 - 2 cups SR flour
 - 2 tbs milk
 - 1/2 cup walnuts
 - Granola to decorate

 1)   Preheat oven to 180'C and lightly grease your muffin tins or line with muffin cases

2)  Beat together bananas and egg, then add in all remaining ingredients and mix well.

3)  Fill muffin tins 3/4 full with mixture.

4)  Bake for 20 mins, or until risen and lightly golden, and springy to the touch.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Susan's Famous Hummingbird Cake!

It was my mum's birthday recently and as I had said to her 'I will make you ANY cake you want', she requested her favourite - a Hummingbird Cake.  Seeing as all of my worldly possesions, (including my favourite cookbooks of course) were en route in a shipping container from London, I didn't have my tried and tested recipe to hand - however - Susan, my very good family friend saved the day with her EVEN BETTER recipe which she kindly gave me and allowed me to share with all of you!  It's so deliciously moist and is wonderful with the cream cheese frosting, sprinkled with lightly toasted coconut to serve... Have fun!

Cooking Time:  1 hr 15 mins
Preperation Time:  20 mins
Serves:  A lot!

 - 3 cup SR flour
 - 1 cup good quality vegetable oil
 - 1 425g tin crushed pineapple
 - 1 225g tin mango (drained)
 - 3 bananas, mashed
 - 2 cups brown sugar
 - 1 tsp cinnamon
 - 1 tsp vanilla
 - 3/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting:
 - 225g cream cheese (cold)
 - 40g butter
 - 500g icing sugar
 - 1tsp vanilla
 - Toasted coconut flakes to decorate

1)  Preheat oven to 185'C and grease a large 25inch cake tin.

2)  In a bowl, mix together your crushed pineapple (with syrup), chopped mango, oil, vanilla and mashed bananas.

3)  In a seperate bowl, mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon and walnuts.

4)  Combine both bowls until all ingredients are mixed together, then pour into prepared cake tin.

5)  Bake for 1 1/4 hrs, or until lightly golden and springy to the touch. A testing skewer should come out with moist crumbs when inserted.

6)  To make the cream cheese frosting, beat together your cream cheese (cold from the fridge), butter, vanilla and icing sugar for about 5 minutes on high speed.  Be careful not to over beat, or else the frosting will be too runny.

7)  When your cake is cool, spread with the cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with toasted coconut flakes to decorate!