Thursday, February 27, 2020

Yoghurt Cake with Gooseberries and Red Currants

One of the prettiest baking books that I own is undoubtedly Natural Baking by German authors, Carolin Strothe and Sebastian Keitel.  The photos in the book have an other worldly, dream-like quality, and from Carolin's photo, I believe she shares my love of vintage-style dresses.

The premise of Natural Baking is that it contains "healthier recipes for guilt-free treats".  It is true that the recipes use lots of wholemeal and ancient grain flours, and contain lots of fruit; there are also healthy doses of sweeteners from muscavado sugar to maple syrup, so don't go crazy with the healthy concept.  However, baked goods are made to be enjoyed, not to be worrying about calories and sugar.  So my view is, go for it!

I happen to love cakes packed with fruit, so this book is made for me.  Some of the flours are hard to get (I had never heard of einkorn flour!), but you can substitute something else quite easily, and in some cases the author suggests a substitution that is easy to obtain.

I wanted to make the Yoghurt Cake Cake with Gooseberries and Red Currants badly because I just happened to have gooseberries (although they are of the jarred variety imported from Germany) and red currants (frozen from fresh as the ghosts of Christmas past).  Gooseberries and red currants are very hard to come by in this wide brown land, so I was pleased as punch that I had these ingredients, as well as some leftover yoghurt in the fridge that was begging to be used up.  It was providence therefore to find this recipe.

Best of all, it was absolutely delicious!!! No-one at work guessed what the fruits were - the gooseberries were not even mentioned, and people thought that the red currants might be cranberries or goji berries (so rare are red currants here).

If you want to give this lovely cake a burl, you will need:

2 eggs
125g brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
125ml mild olive oil
250g natural yoghurt
250g wholemeal spelt flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
150g gooseberries, stalks removed 
150g red currants

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and grease and line a 20cm springform pan.

Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until  pale.

Add the yoghurt and olive oil to the bowl and mix until just combined.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt, then mix the dry ingredients in two-three batches into the wet ingredients.

Gently fold the gooseberries and red currants into the mixture using a rubber spatula.

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

Release the cake from the pan and allow it to cool on a wire rack.

Slice and serve!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Cocoa Rum Dessert - Bonet

It was my friend Vanda's birthday on Monday.  She invited us for a good old fashioned feast at her house on the Sunday beforehand.  There was so much food that I did not need dinner that night.

I rarely pass up the opportunity to bring sweets.  I had for ages been wanting to make the Cocoa Rum Dessert from Jamie Cooks Italy, the recipe for which came from Baroness Susanna of Turin.  You can also find the recipe online here.

This dessert looked amazing and so fancy that I thought it would be hard to make - but nope, it couldn't be easier and looks impressive.  Steph told me on Instagram that this dessert does have a name other than the descriptive "Cocoa Rum Dessert" - it is officially called Bonet, because it is traditionally baked in a hat-shaped tin. I call it the coolest magic cake ever, because you start with two layers which magically separate out into three layers.  Although Vanda's Italian heritage hails from the opposite end of Italy to Piedmont, I thought that an Italian dessert would fit the bill.  

This dessert, which I shall henceforth call a Bonet, comprises an amaretti base, on top of which rests a smooth chocolate-caramel custard, and a caramel sauce cascades down the outside.  (Be careful when unmoulding this as the caramel sauce tends to end up splashing on the floor!)  The magic comes in because the amaretti base forms in the oven - amaretti are crumbled into the custard mixture before it is poured over the caramel in the base of the loaf tin, and  all of those crumbs separate out in the oven and come to the top to form the base of the dessert when unmoulded.  

As recommended by Jamie, I served this dessert with creme fraiche.  It is not very sweet, despite its rich-sounding flavours, so if tooth-aching sweetness is not your bag, this could be the dessert for you.  It also looks very elegant, so it would be perfect for a dinner party.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

TWD - Carrement Chocolate - The Simple Loaf

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Carrement Chocolate, The Simple Loaf (as opposed to the fancy version which also features in Baking Chez Moi coated in ganache).

This cake is unusually made in a food processor, and is filled with salted chocolate chunks. 

I heeded the advice of my fellow Dorie bakers to use a larger tin than directed in the recipe, and baked the cake for 15 minutes longer than the recipe stated.

The end result was a rather delicious chocolate cake, with the salted chocolate chunks adding a terrific kick of additional flavour.

I served my cake with a dollop of creme fraiche:  

I'd make this cake again.

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

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

TWD - Lavender-White Chocolate Sables

This week's  Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Lavender-White Chocolate Sables.  This follows on nicely from last week's White Chocolate-Lavender Pots de Crème, and ensures that I use up some more of that culinary lavender that I bought especially for the purpose.

These biscuits involve making a sable dough flavoured with ground dried lavender (which really emits a strong perfume when you are grinding it) and white chocolate.

From a half recipe, I made 36 small cookies.  I found that I could have baked them for a shorter time than in the recipe, as mine coloured a little more than they should.

These biscuits are OK - pleasant enough, but not a repeat at my place.

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

And if you love old worldly hotels, do check out my latest travel post about The Carrington Hotel in Katoomba, New South Wales.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Chocolate Valentine's Day Cookies Decorated Two Ways

It's getting late
And if we talk
And then you'll know
I ache for you
                                                                                           Ache for You - Ben Lee

The above lyrics come from one of my favourite songs by Ben Lee, Ache for You, from the excellent album Awake Is the New Sleep.  This song perfectly sums up longing and desire for someone - it can be illogical and confusing, but hopeful and exciting at the same time.  

Valentine's Day is an opportunity for those who are already loved up to confirm those feelings to their partner.  It is also an opportunity to reach out to someone you long for and express your feelings for them in the hope that those feelings are returned.

I am not a fan of all the commercialisation around "V Day", as it is known, but I am a sucker for all the red and white and pink and hearts symbolism.  It is a perfect chance for me to indulge my fondness for this symbolism in sweet form.

This year, I made chocolate cookies and decorated them in two different ways.  One method was something I had tried before, the other was entirely new to me.

I made Lila Loa's End-All for Chocolate Roll Out Cookies, which I love because you don't have to chill the dough before rolling and baking.  Unfortunately, I did have to do a bit of chilling of the dough because the rather hot and humid day on which I made them did me no favours.  I just cut out round shapes because that shape was the easiest to use with my decorating tools of choice.

First up, I marbled some ready-to-roll fondant in a pink and white colour combination, and embossed it with the cutest ever "Bee Mine" embosser from Custom Cookie Cutters.  I think they turned out really cute.  I had marbled fondant and used an embosser before.

The next technique I used was to decorate the fondant using an airbrush with various heart-shaped Wilton stencils (I picked up the stencils for just $2 on a throw-out at the Cake Bakes and Sweets Show some time in the distant past, and this is the first time I have used them):

My airbrush is a Cookie Countess model from Miss Biscuit (bought on sale earlier in the year), and I used Cookie Countess's Preppy Pink airbrush colour for the designs. I had wanted to try airbrushing for a while, and this YouTube video made it easy for me to learn how to use the airbrush. The biggest lesson that I learned is that less is more when it comes to using the colour with stencils, as it minimises colour bleeding, and the colour darkens up afterwards so too much colour may lead to an undesirable result.  I also learned the value of putting down paper towel all over the benchtop that you are airbrushing on to avoid undesirable mess.

All of the cookies are so cute.  I could have piped a heart shaped edging around each cookie to hide the chocolate edges peeping out of the fondant, but as I was making these cookies just for fun and not to sell or for anyone in particular, I just left them as is.

I could not let the opportunity pass to show off my new Quetzy Valentine's Day brooches:

I purchased the Love Galah, but the little heart brooch was a gift with my purchase.  It made me smile.

Wishing all of my readers a fabulous V Day!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Nigella’s Slut’s Spaghetti

Who doesn’t love  a steaming bowl of pasta as a quick, hearty, tasty meal? I am not immune to the charms of a bowl of pasta, especially a tomato-based sauce.

I recently bought a packet of black bean spaghetti at my local IGA. It looked cool (hey, black spaghetti!), and had 44% protein and heaps of  fibre, making it super good for you.

The spaghetti kept falling out of my cupboard at me for a couple of months until I finally decided I needed me some pasta.  I grabbed a sadly neglected book from my shelf, Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen, to find a recipe for a sauce for my spaghetti. Kitchen is a great book - it has just been drowned in the sheer volume of cookbooks that I possess.

Nigella reliably had a recipe for Slut’s Spaghetti. She loves good alliteration and so do I, so this recipe won a big tick right off the bat. If you don’t have the book, you can find the recipe online here.

This tasty dish is brimming with punchy flavour - anchovies, olives and tomatoes are up front and centre. The black bean spaghetti added a comforting earthy flavour to the dish.

While this spaghetti might not be the prettiest to look at, it has a depth of flavour that is hard to beat. It is also super quick and easy to make. Go on, treat yourself and make Nigella’s Slut’s Spaghetti!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

TWD - Lavender-White Chocolate Pots de Creme

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Lavender-White Chocolate Pots de Crème.  This decadent dessert would be perfect to serve as the finale to a romantic dinner for two on Valentine's Day.

A pot de creme is a baked custard dessert.  This version is flavoured with white chocolate and dried lavender, which is not a combination I'd usually gravitate to.  However, in this dessert, the combination is delicious - the creamy white chocolate is given just a whiff of delicate floral from the dried lavender.  

I baked my two pots de crème (a quarter of the recipe) in beautiful tea cups that came with a dinner set that I bought when I first started work many, many years ago, in the misplaced belief that I was going to be hosting numerous dinner parties. Even when I have held the odd dinner party or two, people don't drink tea out of tea cups (or otherwise), so I welcomed the opportunity to use these dainty cups.

I decorated my pots de crème with crushed candied violets - I thought the purple colour was perfect to complement the lavender flavour.  I also served them with chocolate cookies (made to Lila Loa's End-All for Chocolate Cookie recipe) to scoop up the custard.

This dessert surprised me in a good way - it was creamy, decadent and elegant.  I would definitely make this again for the right occasion.

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

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Strawberries and Cream Cheesecake

Embrace me, my sweet embraceable you,
Embrace me, you irreplaceable you

                                                   Embraceable You, George and Ira Gershwin

Unless you have been walking around with your eyes closed, you will know that Friday this week is Valentine's Day.  Love it or hate it, the shops are filled with red cards, and ads for chocolates, flowers and jewellery abound.

A dessert that would be fun to make for Valentine's Day is this Strawberries and Cream Cheesecake from Coles magazine.  I did not make it for that reason, but its gorgeous pink and white hues make it the perfect dessert for V Day.  It also sings of summertime.

This baked cheesecake contains real strawberries, but the pink colouring is enhanced by a splosh of pink liquid food colouring (OK, in my case, a bit more than a splosh).

I made three quarters of the  recipe and used only Granita biscuits in the base.  While my cheesecake is not as tall as the original as a result, it was enough for me.

To make this cheesecake (3/4 recipe), you will need:

1 x 250g packet Arnott's Granita biscuits, crushed
100g butter, melted
75g strawberries, halved
3/4 tablespoon sugar
500g cream cheese, softened
90g sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3/4 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons plain flour
pink liquid food colouring

Grease and line a 20cm round springform pan. Put the biscuits in a food processor and process into fine crumbs.  Add the butter and process until well combined.  Press the mixture evenly into the base and up the sides of the springform  pan, using the base of a flat-bottomed glass to assist you in doing so.  Place the base in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.

Put the strawberries and 3/4 tablespoon sugar into a small saucepan, and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries collapse and the syrup reduces by half.  Allow the mixture to cool off the heat, then transfer to a blender and process until smooth.  Sieve the mixture, keeping the liquid and discarding the solids.

Preheat your oven to 150 degrees Celsius.

Put the cream cheese, sour cream and remaining sugar into a food processor and process until smooth.  Add the eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract and process until well combined.  Add the flour and process until combined.  

Divide the mixture evenly into two bowls.  To one half, add the strawberry mixture and two or three drops of pink food colouring, and stir to combine.

Into the biscuit base, place alternating spoonfuls of pink and white filling mixture. (I found that the filling mixture was more liquid than solid, so I poured portions of each mixture in alternating pours into the middle of the base instead, creating alternating rings of colour.) Using a flat bladed knife, gently swirl the mixture to marble it.

Place the cheesecake on a baking tray and place in the oven to bake for 1 hour or until set.  Turn of the oven and leave the cheesecake to cool in the oven, with the door jar, for 2 hours.

Put the cooled cheesecake into the fridge to chill.

Slice and serve the cheesecake as desired.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

TWD - Pink Peppercorn Thumbprints

The first Tuesday with Dorie recipe for me in February is Pink Peppercorn Thumbprints. These biscuits have pink peppercorns in the dough to add a little flavour (though not really any colour, at least not in mine).

I used cherry jam without the rosewater to fill my biscuits. For me, a half batch yielded nine biscuits made with a small cookie scoop.

These were really nice biscuits - the kind of basic biscuits I grew up with. I made them while my Mum was staying with me, and she enjoyed them too.

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

Don’t miss the next post in my travels through New South Wales, this time regarding the food and wine destination of the Hunter Valley.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Chocolate Tart with Orange, Rosemary and Hazelnut from Ottolenghi Sweet

Who doesn't love a chocolate tart?  When my team had a lunch at my boss's house late last year, and I was in charge of dessert.  One of the things that I had to make at a team mate's request was a Strawberry Watermelon Cake based on the Black Star Pastry recipe.  My other choice was the delicious sounding Chocolate Tart with Hazelnut, Rosemary and Orange from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh.

What is not to like?  A shortcrust pastry shell is sprinkled wit hazelnut brittle, then filled with a rosemary and orange filled ganache.  Yum!   

This tart is easy to make, but involves a number of do in advance steps, and hence the method is fairly lengthy.

Accordingly, rather than me repeat the recipe here, you can find it in the excellent book, Sweet, or online here.  If you are a lover of decadent chocolate desserts, I encourage you to make this tart.