Monday, June 30, 2008

Fat Chefs or Skinny Gourmets? Stir Fried Pork and Noodles

Ivy of Kopiaste and Ben of What's Cooking? are hosting an event called Fat Chefs or Skinny Gourmets? For this event, you have to make a dish that you consider to be "diet food" for its nutritious value (high in vitamins and other nutrients and low in calories).

For this one, I dug out my trusty The Australian Womens Weekly 501 Low Fat Recipes. The hardest thing was deciding what to make, as so many of the options sound good. I chose a dish called Stir Fried Pork and Noodles, but my version steers away from the recipe because (a) I added carrots, which are not in the original; and (b) when I came to make it, I remembered that I had run out of soy sauce, and found that my oyster sauce has been abducted by aliens - it was nowhere to be found. I substituted hoisin sauce and fish sauce instead (yup, no relation to the originals, but they were in the cupboard).

The end result was really yummy and filling - it just goes to show that most dishes are fairly forgiving, and unless you choose "out there" flavours, you can get away with almost anything. Because of all the veges and the low fat content, and the fact that there are less than 2000kj per serve (according to the recipe), this dish falls within my definition of "diet food".

To make this dish, you will need:

250g fresh hokkien noodles
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder
500g pork fillets, thinly sliced
1 capsicum, sliced thinly
2 carrots, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons cornflour blended with just enough cold water to make a thick paste
1 1/3 cups chicken stock
6 shallots, sliced
1/2 a wombok (Chinese cabbage), thinly sliced

Heat half the oil in a large wok or frypan, and stir fry the garlic and 5-spice powder until just fragrant. Add the pork, and stir fry until browned. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add the remainder of the oil to the pan, and stir fry the capsicum and carrot until soft. Add the pork back to the pan with the sauces, cornflour and chicken stock and stir fry until the mixture starts to boil and thicken. Add the noodles, shallots and wombok, and stir fry until heated through. Enjoy while still hot.

Thanks to Ivy and Ben for hosting this event. You can check out the roundup of great diet dishes here.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers - Danish Braid

Today, you will see Danish braid posts popping up like daisies in a field all over the blogosphere. It's not a case of ESP or mere coincidence - it's the June Daring bakers Challenge! This month's challenge is co-hosted by Kellypea and Ben. Once again, this one at first seemed like a mountain that I had never dreamed that I could conquer. I've never made a laminated dough before, and if I had ever been asked to make Danish, I would have asked for help from Mr Pampas in the freezer section of my supermarket. I also read with dread some of the mishaps that befell other Daring Bakers this month, and doubted that I could do this. Ha, ha! Proved wrong again. The results surpassed my expectations, and I ended up with two Danish braids that I am proud of. Here is a photo of my dough after being cut in half, which shows the wonderful layers that I never noticed during the rolling process (because the end of the dough are rolled completely flat):

My dough was made by hand, as I managed to entangle the dough hooks on my mixer and I now can't untangle them. (Although courtesy of a department store gift voucher awarded to me by my work, I now have a brand spanking new Kitchenaid sitting in a box in my spare room, just waiting to be unleashed. I will need it, as beating the cold butter for this challenge finished off the beaters of my old standmixer, which were already battered from the cheesecake pops.)

I made two braids - one was apricot with vanilla pastry cream, and the other was apple and almond filling. The vanilla pastry cream recipe that I used is here, and the almond filling recipe is here. You need to use this almond filling while it is still warm, as it sets rather firmly - I had to reheat it before use because it was too firm to spread over the base of the Danish. I thought that I would enjoy the apricot custard filling the most, but funnily enough, it was the apple almond filling that won my vote. Here is my apricot custard Danish being braided:
I had to take out half of the apricots, as the filling was too much for the braid.
Here are the braids just before proofing - the one on the left is the apple almond braid which I made after I'd practised on the apricot custard braid, and as you can see, it is a lot neater:
Regardless, both braids baked up nicely - the apricot is on the left, and the apple is on the right. You can't tell that the apricot one was a little untidy before baking.

Below is a cross section of each Danish after it was cut to reveal the filling:

With the leftover dough, I made some mini Danish - the top one is apple and custard, the right hand one is apricot custard and the left one is almond:
I was really pleased with this challenge. The end result exceeded my expectations, and tasted delicious.
Thanks to Kellypea and Ben for their challenge selection this month. You can check out the recipe on either Kellypea's or Ben's site, and the Danish braids made by other Daring Bakers here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mini lemon and poppyseed cakes

It is winter here in Melbourne, and no matter how hard I try, I always feel flat in winter. I wanted to bake something warm and sunny that was light and tasty and would cheer me up. My friend Patsy had recently given me some lemons, and given the bright sunny colour of lemons and their upbeat, zingy taste, I thought that it would be perfect to bake something using lemons.

I settled on mini lemon and poppyseed cakes, for which I found a recipe in The Australian Women's Weekly's 501 Low Fat Recipes cookbook (p329). These little cakes were the perfect panacea to the grey, cold winter weather that we have been experiencing. They are small and sunny looking, just like tiny yellow flowers dotting a field in the spring. It is a bonus that they are also low in fat and calories (for a change!).

To make these little cakes, you will need:


1/3 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornflour
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup plain yoghurt

1/2teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon melted butter


grated zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease 2 x 12 hole mini muffin pans or line them with muffin papers.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl, and stir through the poppy seeds, egg yolk, yoghurt, zest, juice and melted butter.

Drop teaspoonsful of mixture into the prepared mini muffin pans and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

While the cakes are baking, make the syrup by placing all of the ingredients into a small saucepan and stirring over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then bringing to the boil and boiling, without stirring, for 5 minutes or until the liquid has thickened into a syrup-like consistency.

Remove the baked cakes from the oven and, while they are still warm, brush the lemon syrup over the top of each cake.

Serve warm or cold, alone or with a dollop of yoghurt on the side.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sugar High Friday - Mmm ... Canada - Oat S'mores

I love my foodie magazines. I subscribe to 4 of them, 2 Australian and 2 Kiwi, and I get very excited when I see them peeping out of the mailbox. I don't cook something out of every edition, but it gives me great pleasure to read them and look at the wonderful photographs, wishing that I could be eating some of the mouthwatering treats within the pages. If money can buy pleasure, then this is what I buy with my foodie magazines.

On the cover of the June/July 2008 edition of
Donna Hay magazine, there is a gorgeous photograph of some marshmallow and chocolate filled biscuits, which I discovered were oat s'mores. Wikipedia tells me that s'mores originate in the US and Canada, and are a popular campfire food. It goes on to say that they are traditionally made by softening a marshmallow on a stick over a campfire, then placing the hot marshmallow on top of a piece of chocolate and sandwiching the lot between two graham crackers. Gooey chocolate and marshmallow is an irresistable combination, so I knew that I had to make these.

About the same time, I read that Jennifer,
The Domestic Goddess and founder of Sugar High Fridays, had selected Mmm ... Canada as the theme for Sugar High Friday this month. Participation is simple - post about your favourite Canadian sweet indulgence, which can be anything that says Canada to you. I am not familiar with Canadian cuisine, but as s'mores are Canadian (as well as American), I thought it would be a perfect excuse to make Donna Hay's oat s'mores for SHF this month.

These biscuits are delicious - the soft oatey cookie is a perfect foil for the gooey chocolate and marshmallow which oozes out the sides. Unfortunately, the recipe doesn't make very many biscuits, so I had to cut them in half for work. Needless to say, they were popular!

To make these s'mores, you will need:

125g softened butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/2 cups sifted plain flour
1/2 teaspoon sifted baking powder
1/3 cup rolled oats
one square of dark chocolate and one marshmallow for each pair of biscuits

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two baking trays with baking paper or silicone mats.

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in the egg, then on low speed, beat in the flour and the baking powder until just combined. Stir in the rolled oats. Put tablespoons of the biscuit dough onto the prepared baking trays with sufficient room between them to allow for spreading, and slightly flatten each tablespoon of mixture. Bake the biscuits in the oven for around 12 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool the golden biscuits on the trays.

Once the biscuits have cooled, pair them up, and place a marshmallow on the flat side one biscuit in each pair and a square of chocolate on the flat side of the other biscuit in each pair. Place the biscuits in the oven until the chocolate and marshmallows have just started to melt (not for too long otherwise they will melt off the biscuits!!), and place the two halves of each pair together so that you end up with biscuit sandwiches containing chocolate and marshmallow. You can eat them while the filling is still gooey (that is, the traditional way), or when the filling has cooled and set. The recipe says that you should end up with 20 biscuits; I ended up with 16.

Thanks to Jennifer for taking us all to Canada for SHF this month, and I look forward to the roundup at the end of the month.

On a different note, the wonderful Ivy of Kopiaste awarded me the Rockin' Girl Blogger Award. Thanks Ivy! I now get to pass it on to 5 other blogging friends, so I nominate:

Rita of Mochachocolata Rita, who always makes me laugh and has one the coolest banners around;

Gretchen of
Canela & Comino, who fascinates me with her tales of Peruvian cuisine;

Tammy of
Wee Treats by Tammy who is a talented cook and makes excellent retro fashion greeting cards;

Emiline of
Visions of Sugar Plum, who has me in stitches with her writing and who creates fab original recipes; and

Y of
Lemonpi, who makes gorgeous cakes and sweet treats in very professional manner.

Do go and check out these blogs if you are not already - each is a fine read.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow - Honey Chocolate Cake

This Friday, Tarun, an accountant in our team at work, departed for the big wide world. He is going to take 6 months off to go home and spend some time with his parents before coming back to Oz to take up a graduate traineeship in a big bank.

Last year, I helped Tarun to make his own birthday cake, which was a Nigella Lawson chocolate cake recipe, so it seemed only fitting that I make Tarun another Nigella chocolate cake for his farewell.

For ages, I have wanted to make Nigella's honey chocolate cake (from p276 of Feast), partly because the flavour combination appealed to me, and partly because I fell in love with the cute bees that she used to decorate the top of the cake. I hadn't done so yet because of the rather large quantities of honey and chocolate that are contained in the cake (putting it in the "special occasion" category), but Tarun's sendoff seemed like the perfect excuse to indulge. Note that this cake takes over an hour to bake, so if you decide to make it, ensure that you have a leisurely morning or afternoon set aside to do so (or you could, like me, start at 6.30pm and still be finishing the decorating at 12 in the morning).

To make your very own cute as a button honey chocolate cake, you will need:


100g dark chocolate pieces
275g light brown sugar (Nigella uses muscovado sugar)
225g softened butter
125ml honey
2 eggs
200g sifted plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon sifted cocoa powder
250ml boiling water


60ml water
125ml honey
175g finely chopped dark chocolate or chocolate buttons
75g sifted icing sugar


25g marzipan, tinted yellow
12 flaked almonds
white chocolate for piping (if desired)

Melt the chocolate for the cake on the stovetop and set aside to cool.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease and line the base of a 23cm springform tin.

Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer, then beat in the honey. Add one egg with a tablespoon of the plain flour, beat well, then add the second egg with another tablespoon of the plain flour and beat well. Stir through the melted chocolate, then the remainder of the flour and the bicarbonate of soda. Mix in the cocoa, and then the boiling water. Beat until you have a smooth, pourable batter and pour into the cake tine. Place in the oven and bake for between 1 and one and a half hours, depending on your oven. (Nigella recommends checking it every 15 minutes after the 45 minute mark. Mine took 1 hour 15 minutes.)

Remove the cooked cake from the oven and cool in the tin on a wire rack.

Once the cake is completely cool (and it takes a while - it is a big cake!!), make the glaze. Put the honey and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat amd stir through the chocolate until it melts. Add the icing sugar, and whisk until you have a smooth, pourable icing.

Pour the glaze over the cake until it is completely covered (you will have heaps left over). To make the bees, divide the marzipan into 6 equal pieces and roll each piece between the palms of your hands until you have short, fat bee shaped bodies. Stick two flaked almonds into each bee for wings then, using the leftover glaze, paint stripes and eyes on the bees using a skewer, then position the bees on the cake. Watch your bees for a while, because some of mine tipped in the sticky, runny glaze until it hardened up a bit. If you want a message on your cake, melt some white chocolate and pipe it on using a paper piping bag.

This cake was a very yummy, honey flavoured delight. It seemed to get a tick of approval from the punters, and because it is a relatively large cake, it fed our large crowd of about 20 easily (we only get small pieces, but that is usually plenty).

Good luck Tarun - and I wanna see you put those cake making skills taught to you by Sam and I to good use!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Blog Party #35 - Chocolate - Mini choc-orange cupcakes & Tia Maria and Milk

Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness is once again hosting Blog Party, and this month's theme revolves around my favourite food group - chocolate! When I found out about this, I could not resist participating.

For my appetiser, I have brought mini choc-orange almond cakes with chocolate icing to the party. To make these little cakes, from a recipe for Baby Blue Cupcakes in The Australian Womens Weekly Cupcakes, you will need:

60g chopped dark chocolate
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2/3 cup orange juice
90g butter at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup self raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/3 cup almond meal

For the icing:

125g softened butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees celsius and grease 2 x 24 hole mini muffin tins.

Put the chopped chocolate, juice and zest in a saucepan, and melt over low heat on the stovetop. Remove from the stovetop and set aside.

Beat the butter, eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Fold in the sifted flour, cocoa, almond meal and chocolate mixture. Spoon the mixture into the mini muffin tins, and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, beat the butter with an electric mixer until light and creamy, then turn the electric mixer to low speed and beat in the icing sugar and milk in two lots. Stir through the sifted cocoa, then spoon the icing into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe the icing in a swirl pattern onto the top of each cake. Sprinkle with orange dollarettes, if desired.

These little cakes are very strong on flavour, so a mouthful is all that you need. I also made some larger ones for work, and I was informed that people preferred the smaller cakes because of the richness of the cakes.

The beverage which I have brought along is a new one for me - it is Tia Maria and Milk. To make it is dead simple - heat up a glass of milk in the microwave and add a shot of Tia Maria, then stir thoroughly before enjoying while the milk is still warm. Delicious! I would make this again.

Thanks to Stephanie for hosting Blog Party again this month, and do check Stephanie's site for the roundup here.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Tale of Two Cupcakes - Lime coconut and chocolate plum

Having made a lovely batch of lime curd and "putting up" some tasty (if a tad thick!) plum jam, I thought it would be great to share some of it with my colleagues in baked goods. I then thought, what better way to do this than in filled cupcakes.

My mind ticked over, and thought that lime and coconut would be great friends when teamed up in a cupcake, while plum and chocolate would also be perfect. Accordingly, I searched my recipe books for coconut cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes that I could use as a base for my creations. That trusty cupcake tome, The Australian Womens Weekly Cupcakes, came to the rescue with some suitable base recipes (see their Lemon Meringue Cakes on p60 and their Honeycomb Creams on p 12), and lo, there were two dozen filled cupcakes in contrasting flavours.

Lime coconut cupcakes

To make lime coconut cupcakes, you will need:

125g cubed butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons lime zest
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
1 1/4 cups self-raising flour, sifted
6 teaspoons lime curd
250g icing sugar, sifted
juice of one lime
green food colouring
green sanding sugar

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake papers.

Beat the butter, zest, sugar and eggs together with an electric mixer until light fluffy. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the milk, coconut and flour. Put even quantities of the batter into each cupcake paper, and bake the cakes for 2-25 minutes until cooked through. Turn out the cakes onto a wire rack to cool.

Once the cakes are completely cool, cut a cone-shaped hole in the top of each cake, cut off the point of the cone-shaped piece of cake and set aside as a "lid" for that cake. Fill the hole with approximately half a teaspoon of lime curd, then pop the "lid" of the cake on top of the curd.

Make the icing by combining the icing sugar with the lime juice, adding water if necessary to form a thick, spreadable icing. Dye the icing the desired shade of green, then spread the top of each cake with green icing, and sprinkle with sanding sugar to decorate. Set aside until the icing has dried.

Chocolate ginger plum cakes

For the chocolate ginger plum cakes, you will need:

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
90g butter, cubed, at room temperature
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons golden syrup
50g dark choc bits or chopped dark chocolate
6 teaspoons plum jam
250g icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
cold water
sprinkles to decorate

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake papers.

Combine the flours, bicarbonate of soda and spices in the bowl of your electric mixer. Add the butter, egg, milk and golden syrup, and beat on low speed until the ingredients are just combined, then increase the speed and beat until pale and fluffy. Using a wooden spoon, stir through the chocolate chunks/bits, then place equal quantities of batter into each cupcake paper. Bake the cakes for 30 minutes or until cooked through, then turn them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cakes are cool, cut a cone-shaped hole in the top of each cake, cut off the point of the cone-shaped piece of cake and set aside as a "lid" for that cake. Fill the hole with approximately half a teaspoon of plum jam, then pop the "lid" of the cake on top of the jam.

To make the icing, combine the icing sugar and cocoa powder in a small bowl, then gradually add cold water, a little bit at a time, until you have a thick icing of spreadable consistency. Spread the icing on the top of each cake, then decorate with sprinkles.

I was surprised in that my favourite cakes were the chocolate ginger plum cakes, which have a lovely gingerbread quality. The lime coconut cakes seemed a little dryer, and didn't have the same depth of flavour as the chocolate ginger cakes.

My tip when making cupcakes in cupcake papers is NOT to let them cool in the muffin tin - I found out to my detriment that the heat from the tin steams the papers partly off the cakes, making for a slightly untidy appearance. You all probably knew that already, but hey, I didn't, and if I can save one other person from making this mistake, it was worth it.

At work, the chocolate ginger cupcakes were the biggest hit, confirming that I have very good taste (and can make a mean, if thick, plum jam!).

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Roast lamb with almonds; lamb giouvetsi

I recently had my friends Charet and Marco over for Sunday lunch. For dessert, I served my Daring Bakers Opera Cake. However, for the main meal, I served roast lamb - but not just any old roast lamb. I marinated my lamb using a recipe by Karen Martini from Where the Heart Is.

The marinade gave the lamb an interesting flavour which made it a little more special than if I had just roasted it in the oven seasoned with salt and pepper. Although I personally would have cooked the lamb for longer than recommended by Karen (as I found it too rare for my taste), I enjoyed this dish, and my guests said they did too.

To make this lamb dish, you will need:

2kg boned leg of lamb
fresh basil
fresh oregano
2 bay leaves
8 cloves peeled garlic
1/2 cup vegetable oil
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup almond meal
salt and pepper

Put the basil, oregano, bay leaves and garlic in a food processor and blitz until chopped up finely. Add half the oil, the zest and salt and pepper to taste, and blitz until well combined. Finally, add the almond meal and blitz, then place the mixture into a bowl. Stir through the other half of the oil and the lemon juice.

Score the fat on the lamb with a knife, then rub the marinade all over the lamb. Place in a plastic bag and allow to marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, preheat your oven to 230 degrees Celsius, and bake the lamb in the oven for 25 minutes. Turn down the heat to 180 degrees Celsius, and continue to bake the lamb for at least another half an hour (or if you like your lamb cooked more than medium rare, bakeit for longer).
Once the lamb is cooked, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for about 20 minutes before carving. I served it with baked potatoes, pumpkin, parsnips and carrots seasoned with salt, pepper and oil, and twice cooked beans in tomato sauce.

One of the problems that you have with a large piece of meat and only three people is that you have a lot of meat left over. For a couple of nights, I was content to continue to eat roast lamb. However, I soon became quite sick of the same thing every night. That is when Peter of Kalofagas came to the rescue with his recipe for lamb giouvetsi. Hooray!

If you would like to make your own lamb giouvetsi, you can find the recipe here on Peter's site.

I had all of the ingredients except for the pasta, which I picked up at the grocery store. Unfortunately, my grocery store does not sell Greek pasta (orzo), but I figured that risoni would be very similar, so this is what I used. It also does not sell Greek cheese, so I used grated cheddar. My final variation was to use vegetable stock instead of lamb stock, because I had a huge carton of it in the cupboard that I bought in a fit of false enthusiasm for a risotto that never was.

Finally, I wanted to show off my wedding gift for Charet and Marco that I completed when I wasn't cooking, blogging or off on some other project. It is the largest single piece of cross stitch that I have completed to date. As you can see from the date on this piece, Charet and Marco were married about a month ago, and I bought them a bottle of French bubbly to enjoy on the big day. However, I only finished sewing this last night after about 2 months of on and off work. It took much longer than I anticipated - when I finished the cross stitch, I hadn't counted on how much back stitch there was, and how long it would take me to complete it.

There are a few mistakes in this piece where I wandered from the pattern, but you can't tell from looking at it (relief!). However, it was not a good idea to go off on a tangent, simply because it made everything harder as I could no longer follow the pattern exactly. As a result, I had to take a fair bit of artistic licence by following the picture on the packaging to complete the piece. I have now mounted and framed this piece, and intend to give it to the happy couple when I next see them. I hope that they like it!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Lime curd

After the Daring Bakers Opera Cake challenge, I had a large number of egg yolks (6!!) left over. I didn't want to use them to make even more desserts, given my groaning fridge was already full of them, so I chose to make lime curd instead.

After Googling for a curd recipe which used six egg yolks, I came up with the following recipe, which came from here at the I Love Desserts section of

1/3 cup lime juice
6 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cornflour
125g butter, cubed
1 cup sugar
zest of 3 limes

Combine the lime juice and cornflour in a small saucepan. Add the sugar, zest, and egg yolks, and mix well. Place the saucepan over a larger saucepan of simmering water, and whisk the curd mixture until it is thick. Add the butter slowly in small pieces, combining between additions. Once the butter has been mixed in, remove the saucepan from the heat and spoon the curd into a bowl. Press clingwrap onto the surface of the curd and chill in the refrigerator.

Lime curd can be enjoyed in so many ways - as a spread on toast, muffins, crumpets etc, as a filling for cakes and desserts, or straight out of the bowl! This curd has a lovely tart edge to it, which I prefer to the creamier curds, and contrasts nicely with the sweet blandness of a crumpet - my favourite way to enjoy it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Welsh Speckled Bread - Bread Baking Day #10 - Breakfast Breads

Melissa of Baking a Sweet Life is hosting this month's Bread Baking Day, and she has chosen a theme of breakfast breads. She has asked us to share your family's/country's traditional breakfast bread.

Yesterday, as I was flicking through The Age Good Weekend magazine, I saw a recipe for Welsh Speckled Bread which sounded like a perfect recipe for this event. Even though the origin of this recipe is Welsh, not Australian, because Australia is a country of many different immigrant populations, I think this bread qualifies as being traditional for at least some Aussies. It relies on self-raising flour as the rising agent instead of yeast, and forms a dense, heavy loaf. The recipe, by Matthew Evans, is as follows:

500g mixed dried fruit
100g sugar
300ml hot tea
500g self raising flour, sifted
2 tablespoons marmalade
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 beaten egg
warmed honey to glaze

Put the dried fruit and sugar in a bowl, and pour over the hot tea. Leave the mixture to sit overnight so that the fruit absorbs most of the tea.

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a two litre loaf tin (or in my case, a slightly smaller loaf tin and three mini loaf pans).

Place the fruit in a large bowl, and stir in the sifted flour and spice, then add the beaten egg and combine well. Push the dough into the prepared loaf tin/s, and bake in the preheated oven for 60-75minutes or until the bread is cooked when tested with a skewer. Remove hte read from the oven and immediately brush the top of the bread with the warmed honey to give the top a lovely, glossy appearance.

Cool the bread in the tin for around 5 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. To serve, spread generous slices with butter or margarine. Yum!!!

Books for Love Ethnodelicious

Arfi of Homemades has organised a fundraising event called Books for Love to raise funds for Indonesian children suffering from cancer. This involves the auctioning of books online through donating blogger's websites. Arfi will collect and send the auction proceeds to the Indonesian Care of Cancer Kids Foundation (YKAKI), which you can read about at Arfi's post announcing the auction.

I am donating Ethnodelicious: Eat! Travel! Collect! by Dorinda Hafner and William and Dorothy Hall (2005, Cameron House, softcover,160pp, RRP AUD$39.95) to this event. Dorinda Hafner is a Ghanian-born Australian TV chef. You can read more information about Dorinda here.

This book combines, cookery, travel and information on collectibles across six continents and regions and numerous countries. The content is divided first into continents or regions, and then into various countries. For each country, the authors have written a short spiel about its history and food, and what you might look for to collect as a traveller to that country. Each country chapter is then peppered with various recipes which are either traditional to that country, or which use the produce of that country.

The authors also give their own short insights and recollections on each of the feautrued countries. This book may be for you if you are interested in cookery from all over the world, and would like a sampler of authentic or modern dishes based on the cuisine of the featured countries.

This book is brand new and in good condition.

Bidding opens at AUD$10 - lower bids will not be accepted, and the book will be passed in at auction if I do not receive any bids equal to or higher than the opening bid. Simply place your bid in the comments section below, leaving your contact details (email or website). The highest bidder will win the auction. At the close of the auction, I will notify Arfi of the identity of the highest bidder, and she will send the winner the payment details via the contact details that they provided. Subject to Arfi notifying me that payment has been received from the winner and providing me with the correct mailing address for that winner, I will send the book to that person by mail. No further correspondence will be entered into.

While I will use all reasonable care in packaging the book and to ensure that I address it to the address details given by the winner and pay the postage, no responsibility will be taken by me and I will not be liable to the winner if the book goes astray or is damaged in the post.

Bidding opens today and closes next Sunday, 8 June 2008, at 9am sharp, Australian EST.

If you have any questions about the book, please leave them in the comments section of this post. Happy bidding!