Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Fresh Strawberry Bundt Cake


Strawberries sing to me of summer.  They are refreshing and juicy and colourful.  Recently, I spied a recipe on Instagram from the NY Times for a Fresh Strawberry Bundt Cake, and could not resist making it.  It may be still winter here, but there are fresh strawberries around, and this delightful cake transported me to the warm and carefree summer days which are hopefully just around the corner.


To make this cake, you will need:

170g butter 
3 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
finely grated zest from 1 lemon
3 large eggs
300ml natural yoghurt
60ml fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
410g fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped into 1/2" pieces

Glaze

40g hulled strawberries
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons lemon juice




Centre a rack in your oven and preheat it to 180 degrees Celsius.  Spray a 16 cup bundt pan with spray oil, and dust it with flour.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar until the sugar is fragrant.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter and lemon sugar together until light and creamy. 

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the yoghurt, lemon juice and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and beat the batter on low until the flour is just incorporated.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the mixture to ensure that all of the flour is combined. Remove 1/2 cup of the batter and drop tablespoons of  it into the bottom of the bundt pan.

Fold the chopped strawberries through the remaining batter until the strawberries are evenly distributed, then scrape the batter into the bundt pan.  Tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles.  

Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 70 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through when tested with a skewer.  Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then carefully turn it out of the pan onto the wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, mash the 40g of strawberries with a fork, then whisk in the icing sugar and lemon juice to form a pouring consistency (adjust the icing with icing sugar or lemon juice if too thin or too thick). Pour the glaze evenly over the top of the cooled cake.  

Once the glaze has set, slice and serve the cake.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

TWD - Vanilla Polka Dot Cookies



For Tuesday with Dorie this week, the recipe is Vanilla Polka Dot Cookies.  These comprise Dorie’s Good for Almost Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough, rolled into balls, coated in pearl sugar, then flattened slightly before being baked until golden.



I made some sugar balls out of ordinary white sugar and water, as pearl sugar is a little hard to come by here. It worked just fine.

These cookies are soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside because of the sugar coating.  They are simple to make, but taste good.

To see what everyone else made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Monday, August 19, 2019

RSPCA Cupcake Day 2019 - Red Velvet Cupcakes and Mars Bar Slice



Today is the official RSPCA Cupcake Day in Australia, to raise money for the work of the RSPCA.  Our work RSPCA Cupcake Day was held on Tuesday last week to accommodate when most people in our team could attend.  In all, with sales on the day and donations, together with donation matching from the RSPCA Cupcake Day official sponsor, we raised a total of $901 for the RSPCA.  Given that we are small in number, I was especially thrilled with this result.

For our RSPCA Cupcake Day morning tea, I made Red Velvet Cupcakes and Mars Bar Slice.


I remade Dorie Greenspan's Melody Cookie dough and used it to make some cat cookies as cupcake toppers:


The eyes of the cats are cachous stuck on with a bit of royal icing.

The cats graced the top of some red velvet cupcakes decorated with cream cheese icing:



I used the Queen Red Velvet Cake recipe online here.  I made the proportion of the recipe suggested by Queen for the cupcakes (~ one third of the full cake recipe), but my experience was that this only made very small cupcakes (patty cake size).  If I was to make these again, I would make a half of the cake recipe instead so that I could make muffin tin sized cupcakes.

Here's a close up of a cupcake:


The beauty of the cupcakes is that they were cheap to make, especially as I had bought cream cheese for the icing on sale.

The third item that I made for our RSPCA Cupcake Sale was Mars Bar Slice, recipe here from Taste.com.au:


I bought that Mars Bars when they were on sale and already had a stash of dark chocolate and Rice Bubbles, which kept the cost of a potentially expensive recipe down to an affordable level.

We had a number of other contributions on the day, including freshly made gluten free pancakes with maple syrup and berries from one of my colleagues:


I thought this was particularly impressive as there was an element of live performance involved.  The warm pancakes were my personal favourite.

Here's a happy snap of some of our bakers:


Everyone seemed happy enough with the range on sale.  A carrot cake was a sell-out.  In addition to the aforementioned items, we had banana muffins, apricot ANZACs, chocolate and zucchini slice and date and berry cake for sale.  We had a few items left over, but sales were good.


That's a wrap for another RSPCA Cupcake Day.  I am not sure if I will organise it again next year because there was an unfortunate level of pressuring from a call centre to be involved this year, even though I had already registered.  However, I am happy to have participated this year to support a very good cause in the work that the RSPCA does to fight animal cruelty.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Pulled Pork with Olives and Pearl Barley


It is still winter here in Melbourne, and we are still getting cold, grey wet days on a consistent basis. This kind of weather calls for hearty food to warm you from the inside out.

One of my favourite recipes that I tried recently for a hearty winter meal is Pulled Pork with Olives and Pearl Barley, from p42 of the July 2019 edition of Coles magazine.  The flavours are wonderful, and the dish is warning and filling.

The pork is cooked in the slow cooker with onion, tomatoes, garlic, carrot, celery, stock and pearl barley to give rich, deep flavour to the pork, and baby spinach and olives are added at the end for additional flavour and bulk.

To make this wonderful dish, you will need:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1.8kg boneless roast pork shoulder
2 brown onions, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
3 cups (750ml) chicken stock
400g can diced tomatoes
1 cup (200g) pearl barley
1/4 cup tomato paste
100g pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
50g pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
120g packet baby spinach

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, remove the string from the pork, season with salt and pepper, and cook in the pan for 2-3 minutes each side or until browned.  Transfer the browned pork to a slow cooker.

Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, stock, diced tomato, pearl barley and tomato paste to the pork in the slow cooker.  Cover the slow cooker and cook the pork on high for 6 hours (or 8 hours on low) until the pork is tender and the mixture thickens.  Transfer the pork to a plate.

Add the olives and vinegar to the mixture in the slow cooker and stir to combine.  Stir in the spinach.

Using two forks, coarsely shred the pork.  Divide the barley mixture evenly between 8 serving bowls.  Top each bowl with shredded pork and a little dill (if desired).

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

TWD - Cats’ Tongues


This week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Cats’ Tongues. These are long thin biscuits that are meant to resemble cats’ tongues.

The dough is simple enough to make, and there is not a lot of it. You pipe it out into strips then bake until golden brown around the edges.

My cats’s tongues baked up flat - I don’t know why. I tasted one, and it was ok, and especially nice on the golden brown, caramelised edges. However, not perceiving any use for the remainder of these odd, flat cookies, I threw the rest out. It is unlikely that I will ever make them again.

To see what everyone else made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Maggie Beer's Pumpkin and Pistachio Cake


I am a big fan of the SBS (formerly ABC) cooking show, The Cook and the Chef.  This show is now more than 10 years old, but I never tire of the re-runs.  The rapport between Maggie Beer (the cook) and Simon Bryant (the chef) is a joy to behold, regardless of what it is that they are cooking.

When I was at home over Christmas last year (yes, an age ago), Maggie Beer made a Pumpkin and Pistachio Cake on The Cook and the Chef (Episode 30, screened originally on 2 September 2009) that I could not get out of my head - it just looked so good.  I went to great lengths to find the recipe as the ABC website referred to on the program no longer exists, and made this cake at a time when I bought a whole pumpkin and made three different pumpkin cake recipes.

This was the end result:


The cake is more pudding-like in texture than cake-like, but it is absolutely delicious, and the pistachio brittle on top of the cake adds a lovely textural contrast to the soft, spongy cake.  It would be lovely served  warm with cream, icecream or crème fraiche on the side. 


If you would like to try making this cake for yourself, you will need:

Cake

3 eggs, separated
40g sugar
75g self raising flour
100ml sour cream
100ml extra virgin olive oil
250g pumpkin
1 extra tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup verjuice

Pistachio Brittle

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup shelled unsalted pistachios

Verjuice syrup

1/2 cup verjuice
1/4 cup sugar

Cake

Peel and cut the pumpkin into small pieces, toss with the tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and roast in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes or until soft.  Deglaze the pan with the verjuice, and mash the pumpkin.  Set aside to cool.  Leave the oven on for the cake.

Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin.

Beat the egg yolks with 2/3 of the sugar until pale and thick.  Fold in the flour, olive oil, mashed pumpkin and sour cream.

In a clean bowl, place the egg whites and remaining sugar, and beat the egg whites to medium peak stage.  Fold one third of the egg whites into the pumpkin mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

Scrape the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin, and bake in the pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through.

Brittle

While the cake is baking, put the sugar and water into a small saucepan, and heat over medium heat, without stirring, until the sugar melts and the mixture turns a deep amber.  Immediately add the pistachios to the pan, and fold through. 

Turn the mixture onto a metal tray oiled lightly with a bit of olive oil.  Allow the mixture to cool and harden.  Break up the resulting toffee into rough pieces, then crush lightly in a food processor or with a mortar and pestle to the desired size.

Syrup

While the cake is baking, put the verjuice and sugar into a medium saucepan, and boil the mixture until it  becomes a rich amber colour.

Remove the cake from the oven and pour the syrup over the warm cake, then sprinkle with pistachio brittle. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Anna Polyviou x Green's Lolly Gobble Caramel Cupcakes


In Part 2 of my adventures with Anna Polyviou's cupcake mixes from Coles, I made the Lolly Gobble Caramel Cupcakes. For the uninitiated, Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs are caramel popcorn that was very popular in Australia (though I have not seen it much of late).  I adore caramel popcorn and caramel in general,  so I was excited to make these cupcakes.

You add butter, eggs and milk to the caramel fudge-studded cupcake mix and bake the cupcakes.  When they are cool, you make up the icing from the box by adding butter; I also needed a little milk to make the icing a spreading consistency.  Once iced, the cupcakes are topped with Lolly Gobble Bliss Bombs, which also came in the box.

Here are the cupcakes fresh out of the oven:


And here they are all dressed up:


This is a peek inside at the crumb:


These cupcakes smelled devine, but personally, I preferred the Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes - they had a terrific freshness about them.  However, that is down to personal preference, and I would be happy to give either of these mixes a go again if I had the urge.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

TWD - Melody Cookies


This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe, the first for August 2019, is Melody Cookies.  I am not American, so the name of these cookies means nothing to me.  However, Dorie says that when she was growing up, Nabisco made cocoa-flavoured cookies called Melody cookies, which were round with serrated edges and had sugar on top.   These cookies ceased to be made in the 1970s, so Dorie has chosen to recreate them with her own recipe.

I have no idea whether my cookies tasted particularly Melody cookie-like.  I chose to go off piste and cut mine into serrated squares.  From a quarter of the recipe, I made 20 cookies.  


These little chocolate delights were quite delicious.  I ate two fresh from the oven - they were definitely worth making.

To see what the other Dorie bakers made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Anna Polyviou x Green's Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes


I do not generally buy packet cake mixes because I know full well I can make cakes quite well from scratch.  However, when I discovered that Anna Polyviou, a pastry chef at the Shangri-La Hotel in Sydney, had teamed up with Greens to produce a couple of different cupcake packet mixes, I was keen to try them out. 

There are two different cupcake mixes designed by Anna - Raspberry Trifle and Lolly Gobble Caramel varieties, sold exclusively at Coles supermarkets:




All of the dry ingredients to make the cupcakes are included in the box - you just need to add the wet ingredients at home.  I was pretty excited when I discovered that the box even contained these groovy Anna-print cupcake papers:


I tried out the Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes first.  They comprise a vanilla cupcake:


swirled with raspberry jam:


baked:


filled with custard: 


then decorated with custard-flavoured whipped cream, and crowned with an optional fresh raspberry:



I  loved these cupcakes - they tasted so fresh with the cream on top, which was not overly sweet and balanced the sweet cupcake beneath.

I would happily make these again, and judging by the response to these at work, people would happily eat them again. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Cinnamon Tea Cake in honour of Margaret Fulton


Today is a sad day for Australian cooks, as the great Margaret Fulton passed away today at the age of 94.  Margaret is legendary in Australia, and many people grew up with their mothers cooking her recipes, or owning her cookbooks themselves.  My mother received the first edition of The Margaret Fulton Cookbook for her 21st birthday, and she still uses it, albeit it long ago having lost its cover and numerous pages hanging by a thread from the binding.

I bought the revised and updated edition of The Margaret Fulton Cookbook when it was first issued in 2004, when I was living in Sydney.  It was the first new cookbook I had ever bought, and I felt very proud to own it because I now had the same cookbook as my Mum.  The first recipe I made from it was Margaret's cupcakes, which I made and took to work iced with green icing, and a jaunty spearmint leaf lolly on top of each for St Patrick's Day.  I did not tell anyone that I made them, and I remember my then boss coming in to show me one, quite amused.  (I did not let on that I had made them!)  

I have made a number of different Margaret Fulton recipes over the years.  The Beatles birthday cake is probably my favourite because it is so fun - I saw the recipe in an exhibition of Beatles memorabilia and scoured the Internet to find it. However, there are Aussie staples like Anzac biscuits and lemon delicious, as well as plenty of Christmas recipes.

In 2012, I even saw a musical called Margaret Fulton: Queen of Desserts, celebrating Margaret's life and work.  There was audience participation involved in the form of being handed mini Australian flags and being required to wave them at the right time.

I thought it only fitting that I celebrate Margaret's life on this sad day by baking one of her recipes from the original and still the best, The Margaret Fulton Cookbook. In keeping with Margaret's mission to make cooking accessible to all, I decided to make a very simple cake - the Cinnamon Tea Cake.  Her book marks the recipes with dots in the heading so you know at a glance how complex or not they are to make, and the Cinnamon Tea Cake is indicated to be easy by a single dot.


While this cake is simple to make, it is not at all skimpy on flavour. It is light and buttery, and given a spicy, crunchy boost with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar on top.  Served fresh out of the oven while it is still warm, it is absolutely heavenly. It was very hard to limit myself to one slice.   


To make your very own Cinnamon Tea Cake according to Margaret's recipe, you will need:

1 egg, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup self-raising flour
30g melted butter

For the topping:

2 teaspoons melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius.  Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.

Beat the egg white until stiff peaks form, then beat in the egg yolk.

Gradually beat in the sugar.  Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a cup, then slowly beat it into the egg mixture.

Using  a rubber spatula, fold the flour and melted butter into the cake batter.

Scrape the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through and golden on top.

Mix the sugar and cinnamon from the topping ingredients together.  

Immediately on removing the cake from the oven, brush the top of the cake with the melted butter from the topping ingredients, and sprinkle over the combined sugar and cinnamon.

Turn the cake onto a wire rack, right side up.  Serve warm or cooled. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

TWD - Marscapone Mousse


For Tuesday with Dorie this week, the recipe is Marscapone Mousse.  This is a delightful dessert that is, as its name suggests, light and foamy. The mousse is comprised of marscapone, whipped egg whites and cream, gently sweetened with honey.  A small amount of gelatine is added to help set up the mousse.


To serve, the mousse is spooned into low ball glasses, and optionally decorated with fruit.  I put fresh raspberries in the base of my  glass, with roasted rhubarb on top.

As you can see, the mousse is quite foamy:


I was pleasantly surprised by this mousse - it is not heavy like chocolate mousse can be, and its lightness makes it a perfect to complement the fruit.

To see what the other Dorie cooks made this week, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Cake for Carolyn's Birthday


My colleague, Carolyn, is turning 50.  This is an important milestone birthday, so I decided to make her a cake.  Carolyn follows a gluten free diet, so the cake that I chose had to fulfil this criteria.  Luckily, these days, there are many delicious gluten free cake recipes around.

A quick Web search brought up this recipe for Lemon, Almond and Raspberry Layer Cake from The Brick Kitchen.  This recipe has been adapted from one of my favourite bakers, Jordan Rondel of The Caker.

Claudia from The Brick Kitchen had created her cake as 3 x 15cm layers.  I went back to a single layer in 9" form, using half of Claudia's recipe:


This cake certainly smelled devine when it came out of the oven.  To decorate it, I made half of the icing recipe, and decorated the cake with crushed freeze-dried raspberries pressed  into a "50" stencil I created just from paper and a template I found on the Web, and also pressed up the sides of the cake:


Pressing on the freeze-dried raspberries was a messy exercise, but I am happy with the end result.  It ain't perfect, but I think it looks pretty good.

To make this cake my way, you will need:

1 x 9" cake tin, greased and lined

150g butter
150g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
150g almond meal
37g gluten free plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
zest and juice of a lemon
2/3 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the almond meal, flour and baking powder followed by the lemon zest and juice.

Scrape the batter into the prepared cake tin and even the top with a metal spatula.  Place the raspberries on top of the cake at random intervals, pressing in lightly.

Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Take the cake out of the oven and leave it to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, before unmoulding onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing:

112g butter, softened
75g cream cheese, softened
167g sifted pure icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of half a lemon

Beat the cream cheese and butter together in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth.  Add the icing sugar and beat until smooth.  Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.

Spread the icing evenly over the top and sides of the cooled cake.

Decorate with crushed freeze-dried raspberries if desired.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

TWD - Fudgy Mocha Bars


For Tuesday with Dorie this week, our recipe is Fudgy Mocha Bars.  These are effectively a nutty, chocolatey brownie, based on cocoa but also studded with chocolate chips to up the chocolate "oomph".


The brownie mixture is quite stiff, and it accordingly requires some elbow grease to spread it into the far corners of the pan.  They are baked in a 9" square pan, and rise quite high, so you end up with a satisfyingly chunkie sized brownie.

I gave some of these brownies to my friend and her children, and gathering from the enthusiastic response, these are good brownies.   

To see what everyone else made this week, visit the LYL section of the TWD website

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Muffins for Queen Baking Club


A recent Queen Baking Club challenge was Pumpkin Pecan Pie Muffins.  As the name suggests, these muffins were full of mashed pumpkin goodness, with added nuts for texture, and topped with an oaty streusel topping.

You can find the recipe for these delicious muffins here.


I substituted the pecans for walnuts because I had walnuts already in the pantry.  I also used some leftover streusel from another project and added some oats to give it texture and make it more like the recipe streusel.


These were absolutely delicious muffins, and I would make them again.  Given the dire wintry weather here at present, these muffins are a perfect way to warm the soul.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Hairy Bikers‘ Pogacsa (Hungarian Cheese and Bacon Scones)




Recently on SBS Food, they showed The Hairy Bikers Bakeation, where  the Hairy Bikers rode and ate their way through Europe. (Yep, this show is 13 years old, but I have never seen it before.)  They made a number of fabulous looking dishes along the way, inspired by the countries they were visiting.  

I was taken with a number of the dishes the Hairy Bikers made, but one which particularly caught my eye was Pogacsa (Bacon or Crackling Scones), from Hungary.  Crispy bacon is mixed with sour cream, caraway seeds, parmesan cheese and the usual scone ingredients to create these tasty, filling scones:


A pogacsa spread with butter while it is still warm is just the ticket for breakfast:


If you would like to make your own pogacsa, you will need:

60ml milk
1 sachet dried yeast (~7g)
250g chopped bacon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
500g plain flour
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
120g butter
120ml sour cream
2 beaten eggs
1 egg beaten with a splash of water for egg wash

Heat the milk gently until it is just lukewarm, then stir in the yeast.  Set aside for 15 minutes or so to allow the yeast to froth the milk.

Fry the bacon until crisp, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, parmesan and caraway seeds in a medium bowl.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the sour cream, beaten eggs, bacon and milk mixture.  Pour the liquid ingredients into a large bowl, then add the dry ingredients, in several batches, and mix with a spoon and then your hands until everything is well combined.

Turn the dough out onto a floured bench and knead with your hands until the dough is smooth and elastic (~ 5 minutes).  Put the dough into a well oiled bowl and leave to rise for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

Turn the dough back out onto the floured bench and punch it down, then press or roll it out to ~ 1 1/2 inches in thickness.  Cut out rounds from the dough using a scone cutter, and place onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper.  Make a cross-cross pattern on the top of each scone using a sharp knife, then allow the scones to rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.  Brush the top of each scone with eggwash, then bake the scones  for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Serve warm spread with lashings of butter.