Thursday, October 31, 2019

Aquafaba Meringue Ghosts for Halloween

It is Halloween, the night of ghouls and ghosts and trick or treating. To celebrate Halloween, I decided it was time to try my hand at making aquafaba meringues, which I could then fashion as ghosts.

Aquafaba means “bean water”, and is the liquid from a can of chickpeas. The protein from the chickpeas leaches into the liquid, giving it similar properties to egg whites. This makes it ideal for making vegan meringues.

To make aquafaba meringues, whip 160ml of aquafaba with a pinch of cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add a teaspoon of vanilla essence, then gradually beat in 1 cup of white sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Pipe the meringues using a piping bag onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper, and bake in an oven pre-heated to 120 degrees Celsius for an hour and a half or until the meringues are set. Remove the meringues from the oven and allow to cool on the tray.

Once the meringues are cooled, add eyes to make ghosts by slightly melting the base of chocolate chips against the side of a warm kettle, and sticking to the meringue melted side down.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Perfect Banana Cake with Maple Cinnamon Glaze - QBC

This fortnight’s Queen Baking Club challenge is Perfect Banana Cake - the recipe is here.

The Perfect Banana Cake is not too sweet and not too banana-y.

It is an easy cake to make, and Queen suggests a number of variations. I added the Maple Cinnamon Glaze, which added a delicious contrasting caramel layer to the cake.

This cake would be perfect with a cuppa for a mid-day treat.

You can join the Queen Baking Club on Facebook.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Rhubarb, Rosewater & Custard Tart

Rhubarb and custard is such a classic combination.  As a child, I didn't like the slightly bitter edge of rhubarb's taste, but as an adult, I can appreciate it against sweeter background notes, and I adore its gorgeous ruby red colour.

A little while ago, the New Zealand Cuisine magazine newsletter featured a recipe for Rhubarb, Rosewater and Custard Tart.  It sounded too good to pass up, so I duly made it.

The rhubarb is roasted in the oven, and in the original, it is used to top a custard tart, which is baked separately.  I decided to embed my rhubarb in the tart instead, so I cut it more finely than in the recipe.  Although not as pretty as having the rhubarb separately on top, I think it turned out well:  

To make this tart, you will need:

500g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2cm pieces
200g sugar
1 teaspoon rosewater
300ml milk
125ml cream
4 eggs, 1 separated 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 x 23cm tart shell, unbaked 

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Put the rhubarb into a baking dish and sprinkle with 75g of sugar.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the rhubarb is soft.  

Remove the rhubarb from the oven and sprinkle it with the rosewater.

Put the milk and cream and heat it until just before it boils.  

In a large bowl, whisk together the 3 whole ggs, the yolk from the separated egg, the remaining 125g of sugar, the vanilla and the salt.  Whisking continuously, slowly trickle the hot milk into the egg mixture until well combined.

Brush the bottom and the sides of the unbaked tart shell with egg white and put it into the oven for one minute to set, then remove it from the oven.  

Put the rhubarb into the base of the tart shell, them pour the custard on top.

Put the tart into the oven for 20-25 minutes to bake, or until set and slightly wobbly in the centre.

Remove the tart from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

Slice and serve!  I did not use all of the rhubarb in the tart, so I served the tart with some extra roasted rhubarb on the side and a little cream.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

TWD - Petite Apple Croustades

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Petite Apple Croustades.

These adorable little packages comprise strips of phyllo pastry, buttered and sugared, then laid out to line a muffin tin hole, filled with caramelised apple, then twisted closed to conceal the gems of apple within: 

These are like a delicate, more refined version of an apple turnover, and are so delicious - the perfect dessert for one.  The crisp, caramelised, flaky pastry gives way under your fork,  and when combined with the luscious cooked apple, is just devine. 

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

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Mud Cake for Bill's Retirement

Recently, Bill retired after working with our business for nearly 35 years.  Bill was a friendly face around the office who was always up for a pleasant chat.

A few people organised an office morning tea for Bill to wish him all the best in his retirement.  I could not attend the morning tea, but I wanted to make Bill a cake for the morning tea to thank him and to wish him well.  

I saw a mud cake on Instagram from Adelaide Bakes, which I though would be the perfect cake for Bill.  You can find the recipe online here. I made my cake in a 22cm cake tin, so it is not as tall as the one on the source website.

I covered the cake with ganache (using Dorie Greenspan's recommended one is to one ratio of chocolate and cream), and decorated it with fondant shapes made by pressing fondant into silicone moulds.  The plant and leaves allude to the fact that one of Bill's presents was a plant, while the tea pot, cups and cupcakes represent the morning tea.   

Here is Bill cutting his cake, with his plant in the foreground:

Fifty or so people attended Bill's morning tea, which shows what a treasure he is.  We wish you all the best in your retirement Bill, and you will be missed around the office.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Vanilla, Ricotta and Almond Cake with Poached Fruit - Queen Baking Club

One of the loveliest cakes I have eaten in a while was a Vanilla,  Ricotta and Almond Cake with Poached Fruit, a recent Queen Baking Club challenge.  You can find the recipe online here.

This wonderful cake contains ricotta, which makes it smooth and moist; it contains almond meal, to give it a little nuttiness and texture; and lush berries, to give it sweetness and additional moistness.  The underlying cake is complemented by the poached fruit (in my case, pears) and berries on top, which make the cake decorative and add additional flavour.   

This is one of those cakes you have to walk away from so that you don't eat the whole thing.  It is such a moist and luscious cake that it is difficult to stop at just one piece.

This cake would be lovely served with cream, crème fraiche or icecream.  However, I served it just with a drizzle of the pear poaching syrup as suggested by Queen (but be warned, it is very sweet). 

If you like fruity cakes, I highly recommend making this one. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

TWD - Parmesan Galettes

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Parmesan Galettes. These savoury biscuits comprise a simple dough of flour, butter and grated parmesan, blitzed in a food processor into a dough, then rolled into a log and the biscuits are sliced from the log.

You could bake them in a muffin tin so they don't spread and stay round, but I couldn't be bothered and baked them free form.  The biscuits did not stay neatly round, but they still  tasted good - a very strong parmesan flavour, as you can imagine.

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, October 9, 2019

Lemon Macadamia Shortbread Cake

A friend of mine recently had a Lemon Macadamia Shortbread Cake at a work morning tea.  Everyone seemed to like it, and someone asked for the recipe.  The recipe was then passed on to me as a suggestion for something to bake.

This recipe was out of someone's home recipe file, so it didn't contain a lot of the niceties that one finds in a modern cookbook for the instructions, nor was there a photo so that I had an idea of what the cake would look like.  However, I have been baking for long enough that I was happy to give this recipe a go. 

I was expecting a cookie cake from the name of the cake, but this is what it actually looks like (which I am told is an accurate representation of the original):

This is a lovely cake with a soft, buttery base that you press into the tin, topped with a thin layer of lemon curd, then topped with the same dough as the base but crumbled instead of pressed on.  The whole thing is then topped with macadamia nuts for crunch:

It really is a lovely cake that is easy to make.  If you would like to try it, you will need:


2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
125g butter, softened 

(Double the recipe if you'd like a try bake.


1/2 cup lemon juice
grated zest of one lemon
2 eggs, slightly beaten
125g butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

(Triple the recipe for a tray bake.)

Grease and line a 20cm springform tin (mine was 22cm and it was fine.)  Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

For the base, sift the flour and sugar into a bowl.  Rub the butter in with your finger tips (I recommend grating the butter to help with this), to form crumbs. Add the eggs, and mix until combined but the dough is still slightly crumbly.

Press two thirds of the base mixture into the springform tin, and set the rest aside.

For the filling, melt the butter and the sugar in a small saucepan (do not allow to boil).  Remove the mixture from the heat, then mix in the lemon juice and zest. 

Whisk in the beaten eggs, then return the saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until the mixture thickens (it will coat the back of a spoon).  Don't panic if some of your egg scrambles in the mixture - just strain it out once the curd has cooked.

Pour the curd over the base in the springform tin.  Top with the reserved base dough, sprinkling it over in little blobs to cover the curd.  Finally, sprinkle over the macadamia nuts.

Bake the cake for 40 minutes until golden on top, then remove it from the oven and cool it in the tin on a wire rack.

Release the cooled cake from the springform tin, and dust with icing sugar to serve, if desired.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

TWD - Cream Cheese and Toast Tartlets

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Cream Cheese and Toast Tartlets.  At first, I was a little skeptical as to what this recipe would be like, especially as it included a toasted bread topping (which seemed a little weird to me).

I needn't have worried - these little tarts were good.  I quartered the dough and topping recipe and halved the filling recipe (after realising that I could get two tart shells out of my dough instead of just one), and ended up with two tartlets. 

These little tarts are pretty and elegant.  The easiest tartlet tins for me to find were some heart-shaped ones that someone gave to me recently (I don't often use tartlet tins), which explains the shape (ie no deliberate decision to make heart-shaped tartlets).

I was worried that the filling would not set as only a miniscule amount of gelatine was involved as the setting agent, but the tartlets set beautifully.  

The filling of these tarts is smooth and silky, and the topping on top adds a nice contrast crunch.

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

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

TWD - White Chocolate and Poppy Seed Cookies

For Tuesday with Dorie this week, the recipe is for White Chocolate and Poppy Seed Cookies.

These cookies take Dorie's basic good for almost anything cookie dough, and combine it with white chocolate chunks and poppy seeds.  After baking, the cookies are topped with more white chocolate and poppy seeds.

These are rather attractive cookies which taste quite good.  Perfect for the white chocolate or poppy seed lover.

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