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.