Monday, 26 January 2015

Lamingtons


Happy Australia Day Everyone!!....well, for yesterday. 

I decided to get into the spirit of the day by baking up a batch of lamingtons. But, after I ate nearly all of them, I didn't know what to write about so hence this post is coming a day late....but better late then never.


As many of you know the Lamington is a very treasured sweet to we Aussie's and without fail is always made on, or around Australia Day. For me, they should be made more of often but who wants to deal with copious amounts of coconut getting everywhere. And no matter how hard you try you can never wipe all of it up and you're still finding coconut days later in the most random places (I found some in my bathroom).

But, do you know the actual origin of the lamington? I didn't. So I decided to bust out the 'google it' and delve into the history of lamingtons.

Named after Lord Lamington, the 8th governor of Queensland, this culinary icon came about from an accident. Apparently, one of the maids working at Government House in Brisbane dropped the Lord's sponge cake into some melted chocolate. The Lord, was not one for wasteful habits, decided to roll the cake in some coconut as to not dirty his fingers. The maid's 'error' was much loved by all and in particular Lord Lamington.

Thus, lamingtons were born and to this day remain an Australian staple for Australia Day. Here is my interpretation that I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
INGREDIENTS
Curd
250g Morello Cherries
50g Sugar
30g Butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
Cake
1 1/2 cups Self-raising Flour
1/3 cup Corn Flour
185g Butter, softened
1 cup Castor Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup Milk
Icing
4 cups Icing Sugar
1/3 cup Cocoa
30g Butter
2/3 cups Milk
300ml cream, whipped
3 cups (or so) Coconut, shredded or desiccated 

To make the curd...
Do this first. 

Drain the cherries and purée in a blender. Pass the purée through a sieve. Place all ingredients in a saucepan and stir constantly on a medium heat. Stir until starting to bubble and thickened. Place in a bowl and line with cling wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool completely in the fridge. 

To make the cake...
Pre-heat oven to 180°C and grease a 25cm square, or lamington, cake tin with butter and baking paper (any size tin would work just as well).

In an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until pale in colour. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, until fluffy. Sift in dry ingredients, add the milk and mix until combined. Place in prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until coming away from the sides and cake springs back when pressed. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto cake rack and allow to cool completely.

To make the icing...
Place icing sugar, cocoa, butter and milk into a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until the mix is thick and glossy.


To assemble the lamingtons...
With a serrated knife, cut the edges off all four sides of the cake. Cut the cake into 1.5-2cm strips. Cut those strips into about 4 pieces and match them with a partner of the same size/shape. NOTE: some outer pieces might have a slope on them.  

Using 2 forks, dip each piece (one at a time) into the chocolate icing to completely cover it. Using the forks, allow a little of the excess icing to drip off then roll in coconut. Place back on the cake rack to set. 

Once set, sandwich together with curd and whipped cream. Or if you like, leave them as is.   




Sunday, 18 January 2015

One Day Cake


11 years ago today my older sister passed away.

She was only 15 years old.

Leaving behind my mum and dad, older sister, myself and younger brother.

Since that Monday afternoon on January 19, 2004 approximately 4pm, it’s been a hard journey….


Early on you wonder…
Why us?
Why her?
What did we do to deserve this?
When will the pain stop?
Is this real?
How will we continue on?

After you ask yourself all the questions, to which you may, or may not, find any answers, you cry. And you cry a lot. You cry so much that your eyes hurt. Once you think all the tears have gone you MUST, and you do, continue on.


It’s hard to put into words what it’s been like. You can only really understand if you have lost a loved one before. And even then, we all have our own subjective experience. How we grieve is based purely on the relationship we had with said person. 

I could try to explain what I think it was like for each of my family members but, well, I just don't know. I'm not a mind reader, I can't speak for them. Nor would I want to. Each one has their own memories of her and it is not my place to depict their feelings or experiences.

 
I can, however, speak for myself... 

I remember a cheeky older sister who was always up to mischief and always one for a practical joke. In my opinion, she was an older brother and another son to my brother and dad, a partner in crime and best friend to my older sister and a fun loving, can weasel her way out of anything daughter to my mum.

One specific memory I have of her is when it was just the two of us alone at home. Mum and Dad were at work and the other two….well, I don’t know where they were. 

It was September school holidays, and my sister had decided to bake butterscotch scrolls. As delicious as they were, they were kind of under baked and alas a food fight erupted in the house. This escalated quickly into a water fight outside and eventually we decided to share a bath (fully clothed) because we had gotten so cold. 

 
There are many more memories I could share with you but I should probably get to the point of this post. 

My mum has this old cake cookbook. I don’t think we ever baked anything from it except this cake. My sister used to always bake this cake and with 6 people in the house it would never last more than a day. This is why it is known, and will always be known, as the One Day Cake. 

Just a simple chocolate cake with, as my brother said the other day, a ‘hectic’ chocolate frosting. I’ve included the recipe from the actual book and as you can see from the food stains it is a much loved recipe in our house.

So, I sit and type and remember what was a beautiful friend, grand daughter, sister, cousin, niece and daughter to all those who knew our Penny. Full of life, love and taken from us way too soon.

I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and that Penny was not meant to spend a long time on earth (partly because she was an energiser bunny and would've hated getting old). It's hard to imagine how our lives would have turned out if she was still around. It's almost like she was never here. It's become a new normal.

But considering all this, I will never forget her and, even after 11 years, I'm still learning to live on in her absence.

Be loud, be brave, stay cool and have a pisser.

Forever young,

Penny Catherine Collins.



Thursday, 15 May 2014

Mum's Toasted Muesli


Autumn is well and truly upon us! Leaves are turning shades of red, brown, orange and yellow and eventually falling to their demise to create a lovely crunch as you walk along (it's one of my little joys in life). Even at almost 24, I still have to resist the urge to jump into piles of leaves that have been so neatly swept up. 

I love all seasons...to varying degrees (was that a pun? pardon me for that). But I have a soft spot for autumn. Scarfs, beanies, big coats, jeans, boots, knits (you get the idea there), soups, stews, tea, coffee, (anything that warms the soul). And most importantly, the days a getting colder, which gives one more reason to snuggle.

However, Autumn inevitably leads to winter. With this season just around the corner I've decided to wrap myself in a scarf, take my macbook, head to a local cafe, grab a coffee and pump out another delightful post for you guys.


There is, however, a few down falls to the colder months...

I like to exercise in the morning. Usually I'm out and back before my boy Steve even wakes up. Whether it be running, walking or kettle belling, I find it's best to kick start your day with a bit of vigorous activity. But colder mornings don't give me much motivation to leave the warmth and comfort of my bed to go and run around for half an hour. Not to mention, it is still incredibly dark when I want to go running. Being a Melbournite, and a lover of TV crime, my mind tends to play tricks on me, creating the illusion that some serial killer is going to make me it's next victim...a bit dramatic I know.

With these two downfalls of the colder weather, I'll often talk myself out of exercise altogether. And when this is the case I still like to maintain a healthy breakfast. This muesli is my Mum's recipe but I may have changed some of the quantities to suit my taste. Whenever I go home, I almost always clean out her entire jar (sorry Mum). It's full of all things healthy, sugar and oil free, easy to make and is deliciously crunchy and nutty with greek yoghurt and stewed apple.

Have it with banana, strawberry, pear, apricot and I'm sure it'll will soon become a regular dish on your breakfast menu.


INGREDIENTS
4 cups Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Pepitas
1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds
1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
1 cup Almonds, roughly chopped
3/4 cup Flaked or Shredded Coconut
1/4 cup Honey
1/4 cup Maple Syrup 

To make the muesli...
Preheat oven to 180°C and line two trays with baking paper. 

Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Gently warm the honey and maple syrup in a saucepan. Add to dry ingredients and mix together. 

Divide the muesli between the two trays and bake at 10 minutes intervals for 30 minutes. Giving the muesli a small toss with each interval (this will ensure an even baking). Allow to cool before serving. 



For something different...
  • Substitute 1 cup of Rolled oats for 1 cup of buck wheat. The toasted buckwheat gives an added crunch. 
  • Once the muesli is toasted, add some dried fruit - apricots, sultanas, apple, cranberries
  • Change the nuts - Mum has used hazelnuts in the past. As I am not a hazelnut lover I tend to stick with almonds. But use any nut you fancy. 
There really is no limit with this recipe.


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Rosemary and Pear Upside-down Cake


WOW! It's been three months, three LONG months since my last post. Apologies to my loyal followers but there are a few perfectly good explanations for my absence;

EXPLANATION No.1
My boyfriend Steve and I moved in together. Some of you might ask, 'What does this have to do with baking delicious treats and blogging about them?' Well, it all started when we needed to hook up the internet to our new place. 

Long story short, it took 3 weeks and 6 or 7, rather angry, phone calls before Telstra even had our new account processed. Then another 2 weeks before the phone line was connected. Then ANOTHER week before the phone line was ready for a wifi internet connection. TALK ABOUT frustrating. 

So, 6 weeks without internet connection and only 1GB of data download on my phone doesn't leave much room to upload photos and create a new blog post. 


EXPLANATION No.2
You would think moving in with my boyfriend would be cause enough to bake more. And you're right it is. But poor Steve doesn't have an adventurous palette (sorry darling), which somewhat limits my creative mind. Mostly he likes anything chocolate, as do I. But even a chocoholic such as myself needs variety. And unless I bake something that Steve will eat, I have to eat it all...which is not good for my figure. 

EXPLANATION No.3
If I'm going to be completely honest my main reason for my 'long service leave' would have to be lack of inspiration. However, my new job at Adriano Zumbo's in Melbourne has kick started me back into gear and helped me to create this recipe. 


Rosemary seems like an unlikely ingredient to put into a cake but I'm telling you it really works. My sister used to make rosemary and raisin cookies and I've long wanted to expand this idea into other baked goods. 

I've always loved upside-down cakes. Caramelised fruit on top of a fluffy cake....I'm licking my lips at the thought. Don't be scared of the idea of pairing herbs with fruit. Otherwise, you'll be missing out on some serious taste bud dancing.  




INGREDIENTS
TOPPING
1-2 Pears, peeled and sliced
60g Butter
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
2 Sprigs Rosemary
CAKE
190g Butter, softened
1 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon Rosemary
2 cups Plain Flour
4 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 cup Almond Meal
1 cup Almond Milk

To make the cake...
Preheat oven to 180°C and grease and line a 25cm round cake tin.

For the topping, melt together the butter, brown sugar and rosemary in a saucepan and pour into prepared tin. Place the pear slices in a circular pattern in the bottom of the cake tin. Set aside. 

In an electric mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until pale in colour. Beat in eggs one at a time until well combined. Add dry ingredients and milk and beat with electric mixer until just combined. Pour mixture over pear topping. 

Bake for approximately 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. You may need to place foil over the cake if the top is browning too quickly. Allow to sit in the cake tin for 5 minutes before turning out. Serve immediately with cream or ice cream, or greek yoghurt.


Thursday, 13 February 2014

Innocent Carrot Muffins



I'm a traditionalist. I believe patisserie is all about sugar and chocolate and butter and cream and all those other nasties that dieticians would have you avoid. If I'm going to order a dessert, I'm going to order the most indulgent, the most sickly, the most naughiest one they have on the menu. None of this half-arsed bullshit. It's all or nothing. If you're going to be all 'how many calories does that have in it?', then why even bother? 

Whenever my boyfriend, Steve, and I have dinner plans I always tell him, 'why not skip the main and go straight for dessert?'. There's not point in hiding it, I have a sweet tooth. It's the main reason I never get an entree at a restaurant. Because I know, without a doubt, I would not be able to fit dessert in (which for me is the most important meal on the menu). 



However, my love for sugar and spice and all things nice can not deter my attention from the latest craze that is whole food diets. This means food that is as close to their natural form as possible. With the increasing number of people consuming whole foods such, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes it makes it hard for an avid baker, like me, to appeal to this growing epidemic.

So, if you can't beat 'em, join em. 


This recipe is slightly adapted from one I got from my Mum. These muffins are gluten, refined sugar and dairy free, making it the perfect snack for people on whole-food diets, or those with allergies/intolerances. I'm a bit of a health nut at times, and even though my love for pure indulgence is ever strong, I don't mind eating something sweet without the added guilt. 

In saying that, these are not your ordinary muffins. They are quiet dense and moist and definitely not as sweet. I've only used a tablespoon of sweetener but by all means you add as much, or none, as you like. Change the spices, add some nuts, coconut, pineapple. There are so many way's you could adapt this recipe, just keep the base ingredients the same and the world is your oyster. 

My aunty, being gluten intolerant, asked me for more gluten free recipes on my blog. Well Tommy, this one is for you. I hope you all enjoy! 



INGREDIENTS
3 eggs
1 cup Pie Apple
1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
200g Almond Meal
2 teaspoon Cinnamon 
1 teaspoon Ginger
3 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 cup grated Carrot
1/3 cup unsweetened Sultanas
Walnuts (for decorating) 

To make the muffins...
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a muffin tin with muffin cases. 

Firstly, separate the eggs with the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. Beat the egg whites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Set aside. 

In the bowl with the egg yolks, add the pie apple, maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Blend until reasonably smooth. You can do this in a food processor or with a stick blender, like a bamix. 

Place all the dry ingredients and the carrot in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add in the apple puree and mix until it just starts to come together. Add in one third of the egg whites and fold through (this will help break up the mixture without letting to much air out of the whites). Add the remaining egg whites and fold gently until well combined. 

Fill each muffin case 1/3 full with mixture and place a whole walnut on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow to cool, if you can wait that long, and eat. 

Why not try...
Re-heat muffin in the microwave. Serve with extra apple, maple syrup and yoghurt for a scrumptious breakfast. 




Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Mocha Sandwiches


12 months ago, I didn't like coffee.

Loathed it even! 

Loved the smell, hated the taste. 


Like I said that was 12 months ago...how times have changed.

It all began when I started doing sleepover shifts for a quadriplegic chap. I'm not at night owl so I knew, in taking them on, it was not going to be much fun. I had to stay up to midnight, sometimes even 2am when the man I was looking after would come home drunk (yes, you read correctly), be awake by 7am and then do it all again the next night.

In order to survive these nights, something had to be done, and coffee became the answer. Initially, I started with mochas, the little hint of chocolate just cut out some of the bitterness that coffee posses. Then one day I just decided to have a latte, bite the bullet and just do it...it has been VERY DIFFERENT since then.


I'm hooked now! Probably addicted. 

I don't even have sugar. And I think instant is foul. It's espresso or nothing. 

I made a trip down to Melbourne after work one day and needed a double shot latte just to get me through the drive. Boy was I buzzing after that!! I was having a little disco in my car. 

My boyfriend, Steven, and I were discussing the other day that I probably need to go to Coffeeholics anonymous, "Hi my name is Heidi and I'm a coffeeholic."

Anyway, my new found love for coffee has inspired this recipe. I've used coffee grounds to really give the biscuit a good coffee kick! And it's very dear friend chocolate can be found in this slightly whipped ganache. They are so more-ish, you'll have to get a impartial party to hide them. 


INGREDIENTS
185g Butter, softened
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla essence
1 egg
2 cups Plain Flour
3 Tablespoons Coffee Grounds
Coffee Grounds, extra 
Ganache
95g Dark Chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon Instant Coffee
80ml Cream

To make the Biscuits...
Pre heat oven to 160°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Beat together butter and brown sugar in an electric mixer until pale in colour. Add the vanilla and the egg and beat further until light and fluffy. On a slower speed, beat in the flour and the coffee grounds until combined. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and bring together. 

Wrap dough in cling wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to harden slightly. 


Once the dough has hardened, place it between two sheets of baking paper and roll out with a rolling pin until the dough is approximately 5mm thick. I like to do it between baking paper as it stops it from sticking to the bench without adding extra flour to the dough. 

Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes. I've used a flower here but you can use whatever shape you like. To get the hole in the middle of the flower (as I have done) use an apple corer. Ensuring that you only do this with half the biscuits. 

Place the shapes onto the prepared trays and sprinkle with the extra coffee grounds. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden. 

Allow to cool before sandwiching with whipped Mocha Ganache. Make yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy! 



To make the ganache...
Place the instant coffee and cream into a saucepan and heat until boiling. Pour over the chopped chocolate. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes then stir until smooth. Allow to cool slightly. 

Once cooled, place in an electric mixer and beat until fluffy and pale in colour. Ensuring you don't whip too much or the cream with curdle. 



Thursday, 16 January 2014

Butterfly Cakes


"Is that the reason so many tea-things are put out here?"Alice asked. 
"Yes that's it," said the Hatter with a sigh: "it's always tea-time, and we've no time to wash the things between whiles."

Whenever I think of tea parties I'm always reminded of the mad tea party from Alice in Wonderland...

...A Mad Hatter, spouting ridiculous riddles with no answers, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?"
...A March Hare, attempting to fix a pocket watch with "the BEST butter."
...and a sleepy door mouse reeling off stories about 3 three sisters living in a treacle well. 

Something tells me Lewis Carroll must have been on something when he wrote this story. But, whether he was high or not, it has forever remained one of my favourites and has provided inspiration for this recipe. 


Tea parties for me are all about lots of little treats that you could have one of everything (if you feel so inclined) and not feel sick. I believe each one should be light and delicate but with just the right amount of naughtiness to make you want to go to the gym for the next week trying to work it off. 

And of course no tea party is complete without, well, tea. My personal favourite is earl grey, with a DASH of milk. You would not believe how many times I've had a cup of tea made for me, with these instructions given, and it's come back half filled with milk....'Would you like some tea with your milk?'

But however you have your tea, these Butterfly cakes will go down a treat. Jam, or lemon curd, gives a little kick to what would be a rather plain tasting cake. 

Set them on the table and watch them 'fly' away. 


INGREDIENTS
125g Butter, softened
3/4 cup Castor Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste
3 Eggs
1 3/4 cup Self-raising Flour
3/4 cup Milk
Jam - I've used Raspberry and Lemon Curd
Cream

To make the Butterfly Cakes...
Pre heat oven to 180°C and line a small muffin tin with patty pan liners. If you have a big muffin tin that's fine, it just means you'll get less cakes. 

In an electric mixer, place all ingredients and beat until well combined. Fill each liner approximately 2/3 full. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes spring back or a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool completely. 

In the meantime, whip the cream and set aside. 

To assemble the cakes...
Using a small sharp knife, cut the top off the cake to form a little well (As shown below). Slice the cut out piece in half. 

Next spoon a small amount of jam into the well, followed by a dollop of cream. Push the two halves of the cut out piece of cake into the cream to form butterfly wings. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve. 

This demonstrates the little well needed for the filling

Fill with jam, or curd. In the background you can see how I've slice the cut out piece in half.

Dollop with cream.

Place wings on top. 




In the words of Lewis Carroll...
"No room! No room!" they cried out when they saw Alice coming. "There's plenty of room!" said Alice (as do I).