Monday, August 31, 2015

Blood Orange Teacake

I am a fan of blood oranges, with their ruby red centres and juice.  Accordingly, when I saw some at Queen Victoria  Market recently, I snapped them up.

Coincidentally, I had also recently acquired a copy of Phillippa's Home Baking by Phillippa Grogan and Richard Cornish.  In this gorgeous book, among many other excellent recipes, there was a recipe for Blood Orange Teacake.  I thought it was serendipitous, given my recent purchase of blood oranges.

The blood orange teacake has blood orange zest  and juice in the cake, candied orange slices on top and blood orange juice in the  topping.  The cake is a beautiful butter cake.  I used eggs given to me by a colleague, making it extra special.

This cake was popular with my colleagues and disappeared quickly - a testament to how tasty it is.

To make this cake, you will need:

2 blood oranges
200g butter
160g sugar + extra for candying the oranges
3 eggs
200g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Grease and line a 21.5cm x 11.5cm loaf tin.

Zest both of the oranges, leaving a 2cm wide circle of skin around one of the oranges.  Cut three thin slices of orange where you have left the circle of skin.

Leaving the orange slices aside, juice the remainder of the oranges.  Three tablespoons of juice will be used in the cake, and the rest in the topping.

Place the butter, sugar and orange zest in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until light and creamy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, combining the first egg well before adding the next.

Mix the flour and baking powder together in a bowl.

Fold the flour into the batter alternately with three tablespoons of blood orange juice, in three batches. 

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45-55 minutes or until cooked through when tested.  Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before unmoulding onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the topping, weigh the remaining  blood orange juice and add it plus an equal amount of sugar to a small saucepan.  Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.  Next, add the three blood orange slices and simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Brush three tablespoons of glaze over the top of the cake while it is still warm, and decorate the cake with the three slices of candied blood orange.

Slice and enjoy!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

1932 Cafe and Restaurant and Tour of Manchester Unity Building

Recently, Tim and I went to a 1932 Café and Restaurant Afternoon Tea and Tour of the Manchester Unity Building. 

The 1932 Café and Restaurant is an art deco style establishment nestled on the ground floor of the historic Manchester Unity Building, on the corner of Collins and Swanston Streets in Melbourne.  

The café is hung with all manner of prints evocative of the early 1930s, when the Manchester Unity Building was built:

and the ceilings are hung with numerous impressive lights:

Our afternoon tea commenced with a cheese platter (the blue cheese was the winner):

and a glass of bubbly:

We were then allowed to choose from a selection of sweets.  Tim chose flourless orange and almond cake:
while I went for the last strawberry tart:

These delicious sweets were served with a cup of coffee of your choice:

Following afternoon tea, our group went on a guided tour of the Manchester Unity Building, established in 1932 and built in modern commercial Gothic style.  It has a tower at the top which is non-functional, installed simply to make it the tallest building in Melbourne at the time.

Here is a glimpse at the marvellous art deco interiors of the building:

and some of the views from the rooftop plus an exterior shot of the building from street level:

One of the highlights of the Manchester Unity Building is its boardroom, with a table so massive that it had to be lowered in from the roof.  The table has stayed in the building since its establishment, being preserved mainly because it is so large that it was considered too difficult to move.  Here is Tim sitting in one of the leather chairs at the board table: 

and here is me, sitting in the chairman's seat and trying my best to look stern and business like:

On the tour, we were informed that builders used to leave their shoes inside the walls of buildings they worked on to leave their mark.  Inside the boardroom of the Manchester Unity Building, there is a pair of shoes on display, ostensibly found in the walls of the building during renovations:

We really enjoyed our afternoon tea at 1932 Café and Restaurant and our tour through a fascinating and beautiful Melbourne landmark.

220 Collins St
Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9663 5494

Friday, August 28, 2015

Caramel Mud Cupcakes for Cupcake Day for the RSPCA

My second cupcakes for Cupcake Day for the RSPCA were caramel mud cupcakes.  I made these according to Donna Hay's recipe, which is online here

The only tip that I have is to make sure you work fast with the frosting, because it sets quickly.

I topped the frosting with paw prints made of chocolate chips and larger chocolate melts, in keeping with the animal theme.

We had an amazing response to our Cupcake Day, raising over $1,000. 

Here's a pic of our behind the scenes team putting the cupcake display together, ready for sale:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

EwE - Mulled Cider Sweet Potatoes

For this week's Eating with Ellie, Peggy chose Mulled Cider Sweet Potatoes.  This dish comprised steamed sweet potato that was mashed and flavoured with apple cider.

Although apples and potatoes on first glance go together, I found the combination of sweet potato and apple cider a little odd.  It was OK, but not really my type of thing.

To see what the others thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

WWDH - Pumpkin, Caramelized Onion, and Feta Gratin

My choice for Wednesday with Donna Hay this week was Donna' Pumpkin, Caramelized Onion, and Feta Gratin, from the June/July 2015 edition of Donna Hay magazine.

I really enjoyed this dish.  It doesn't look particularly attractive, but it is full of flavour from pumpkin, feta and caramelized onions and with welcome crunch from almonds.  I would definitely make this again.

To see what the others thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the WWDH website.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

TWD - Bubble Eclairs

For Tuesdays with Dorie this week, our assignment was Bubble Eclairs.  These are choux pastries piped or spooned into three cojoined blobs and filled with whatever takes your fancy.
I tried Dorie's suggestion of using a mini icecream scoop to shape the puffs, but after two eclairs, it clogged up and did nothing, so I went back to a teaspoon - so much less hassle, although not quite as even. I used the egg wash on top of the exclairs to help give them a nice golden colour.

For ease, I filled my bubble eclairs with whipped cream and simply dusted them with icing sugar - sometimes, simplicity is best.  I started trying to pipe the cream in, but found the bumpy shape did not facilitate this well, so I went back to cutting them in half before filing them with cream.

To see what creations the other Dorie bakers came up with, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Lemon Cupcakes for Cupcake Day for the RSPCA

Last Monday, 17 August, we held a Cupcake Day for the RSPCA at our work.  We had an overwhelming response from cupcake bakers and buyers alike, and we also received a donation from the business.  In all, we raised over $1,000 for the RSPCA - it surpassed my expectations, and I was so proud of our business for making this fabulous contribution to a very worthy cause.

I made 32 cupcakes all up (knowing that we were likely to have a lot more coming in from the other bakers) in three different flavours and designs.  I learned from last time I participated in the RSPCA Cupcake Day that if I wanted to make animal cupcakes, I should not make them too fussy, because it takes too long when you are doing a large batch.

My first cupcake flavour was lemon.  I chose Martha Stewart's recipe for lemon cupcakes from her cupcake book, which is also published online here.  I made sure that they tasted lemony by rubbing the lemon zest into the sugar before using it in the cake batter - this tends to make the lemon flavour more pronounced than just mixing in the zest.

To decorate my cupcakes, I chose Primrose Bakery's buttercream but flavoured it with lemon juice instead of vanilla and coloured it yellow.  I piped the icing on using a grass tip to resemble feathers.  The eyes are mini M&Ms, and the beak is an orange M&M upended on its side. I got this idea from Johanna's post here.

Stay tuned for more RSPCA Cupcake Day recipes.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Chocolate Mud Cake for Swee's Dad's 70th Birthday

It was Swee's Dad's 70th birthday celebration yesterday.  Swee asked me if I would be willing to bake her dad a cake just like the one I baked for her birthday, decorated with flowers.  Of course I said yes, and Swee and I chose the fondant together.

The recipe for the cake and the ganache are in this post on Swee's cake.

I like a step by step photo post, so here goes.   This is the cake cooling on the rack:

and the same cake covered with ganache, this time made with Lindt intense peppermint chocolate as Swee wanted a mint flavour in the cake:

and fields:

of flowers:

Put it all together and you get a decorated cake:

Here it is again, in close-up:

and don't you just love the bright yellow blossoms against the duck egg blue backdrop:

Happy birthday to Swee's Dad!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

WIAFK (CB) - Salsa Cruda with Horseradish and Avocado Mousse

Our Weekend in a French Kitchen (Café Boulud) recipe this week is Salsa Cruda with Horseradish and Avocado Mousse - say what?  Yep, that was my reaction too.  I went from that to dismay when I read the recipe - it did not sound like my kind of thing at all.

However, as the whole point of being in a group is to try things that I would never try on my own, I made the recipe - and I was pleasantly surprised.  Sure, I subbed mustard for horseradish.  Sure, I left out all of the herbs except mint (simply because I did not have them).  Yeah, my mousse is not as mousse-like as it should be because I made a serve for one, which my food processor could not register, and yes, I skipped the garnishes.   However, never in a million years did I think I would enjoy a tomato, scallion, cucumber, radish and chilli salad - but I did.

I may not make it again (don't get too hasty), but this dish pleasantly surprised me, especially when the vegetables were mixed with the avocado mousse.

To see what the other WIAFK (CB) cooks, thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the Weekend in a French Kitchen website.

Friday, August 21, 2015

White Chocolate and Raspberry Mud Cake for Janet

Sadly, today is Janet's last day working with us.  She is moving on to another position, but we will miss her greatly.
I am not sure what kind of cake Janet likes, but I decided to make her a white chocolate and raspberry mud cake, inspired by the fact that at Monday's RSPCA Cupcake Day (post to come), the flavour that sold out first was the white chocolate and raspberry muffins.
After fruitlessly looking through six of my cookbooks for a recipe, I gave up and went online.  The recipe that I chose for Janet's cake can be found here.
The only change I made to the cake recipe was to use spelt flour instead of ordinary flour.  My reasons had nothing to do with health, but rather, the fact that I had run out of ordinary flour!

The cake smelled devine as it was cooking and cooling - sweet but not overly so.

I did not ice the cake with the white chocolate ganache.  Instead, I made my go to Primrose Bakery Vanilla Buttercream (a half batch).  For the writing, I used Queen chocolate writing icing, and suffered the usual issue that the icing gets quite firm in the tube, making it hard to pipe.  The sprinkles around the edge of the cake are Chocolate and Raspberry Crumble (a mixture of chocolate shortbread crumbs and freeze dried raspberries) from Burch & Purchese.

Here is a peek inside at my piece of cake:

Best wishes to Janet - she will be sorely missed.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

EwE - Two-Minute Mango Coconut Sorbet

For Eating with Ellie this week, Chaya selected Two-Minute Mango Coconut Sorbet

In theory, this sounds nice - frozen mango cheeks are blitzed with coconut milk and basil to create a sorbet.  However, in practice, I could not get frozen mangoes so I used canned mangoes, and I was not a fan of the finished result, even when it set up - I found the texture a little odd and the flavour was not for me.

However, if you are looking for a relatively low fat dessert and you are a mango fan, this could be the dessert for you. 

To see what the others thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the Eating with Ellie website.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

WWDH - Summer Fruit and Couscous Crumble

For Wednesday with Donna Hay this week, Glennis has selected Summer Fruit and Quinoa Crumble from p87 of Fresh and Light.  This crumble contains a raspberry, nectarine and peach filling (I left out the nectarines) and is topped by a gluten free crumble made from quinoa and rice flour.

I cannot eat quinoa, so I once again used couscous as a substitute. I used white rice flour instead of brown rice flour, and I used ordinary white sugar instead of coconut sugar.


The crumble was quite tasty - it is not as crispy on top as crumbles I am used to, and of course, as it contains no butter, it is not buttery at all.  I also found that the fruit was rather juicy, as no thickening agent was used to thicken the natural fruit juices.

That said, if you are looking for a healthier way to eat fruit crumble, this would be the ideal recipe.

To see what everyone else thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the Wednesday with Donna Hay website.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Masons of Bendigo, Take Two

A little while ago, my friend Sandra and I went on a day trip to Bendigo by train.  It was a cold, wet day, but it didn't matter much as we spent it browsing through the many antique stores in Bendigo.

We stopped for lunch at the wonderful Masons of Bendigo - my second visit and Sandra's first.

 We started off with a glass of pinot noir and a Tooberac pale ale respectively:

Masons is all about sharing dishes, so Sandra and I, on our waitress's recomendation, ordered five plates to share plus dessert.

 We started off with the pork belly skewers with spiced quince, Szechuan and lime ($10):

These were followed by the duck san choi bau spring rolls with wombok, Masons oyster sauce and lime ($9.50):

Our next pick with the tempura fried Moreton Bay bug tails with  ponzu mayonnaise, spiced cucumber and lime ($13.50):

For some veges, we ordered the steamed organic broccoli with smoked miso butter and  fried shallots  ($9.50):

Our final dish was my favourite of all, selected by Sandra - the crispy fried soft shell mud crab salad with cucumber, beanshoot & avocado salad and nam prik mayo  ($13.50):

We then moved on to the most important part - dessert!  Sandra orderd the pick of the two - a burnt butterscotch icecream  with roasted strawberries and sesame crisp ($8.50):

I ordered the deep fried black sesame seed icecream with coconut and five spiced pears ($8.50):

This is a peek inside the crispy outside of the ball:

It was quite tasty, and I was especially fond of the pears, but I liked Sandra's dessert better.

This time, we had the opportunity to check out the beautiful windows upstairs at Masons, it being housed in an old glass shop:

As always, it was a pleasure to eat at Masons, and it is a must if you are in Bendigo.

25 Queen Street
Bendigo VIC 3550
Ph: (03) 5443 3877