Strawberry lemon cordial and Spring!

flowersI know I’m a little late jumping on the bandwagon, but it’s Spring and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

My favourite flower in the entire world happens to be the freesia, which only rears its gorgeous little head for the shortest period of time. Spring is that time. If you’ve not seen a freesia before, I’ll give you a little crash course.

They’re small, predominantly white flowers that grow best in the wild. They like company; four or more flowers will grow, side-by-side, on the same stem. They’re trumpet shaped and tend to have shades of purple and yellow dabbed around the outer edges. Continue reading

Blackberry pistachio friands and happy

sneak peekLast night I went to see Meg Mac with some friends, and it was such a positive night! Rainy Day Women, played just before her and I’m so glad to have discovered them – they’re all catchy songs and enthusiasm, it’s adorable.

And Meg Mac was breath-taking – she’s amazingly talented and so humble. She was genuinely appreciative of the audience and completely adorable. Her performance made me so happy. Continue reading

Strawberry crumble slice and strawberry picking

singleStrawberries are one of my favourite fruits. Admittedly, I’m not as obsessed with strawberries as I am with pears, but they’re pretty great.

I have a sweetly scented memory of going strawberry picking with friends of ours in Melbourne. I don’t know where this farm is, but in my head, it is heaven. My younger brother and his little friend picked strawberries freely, while my older brother and I hung back, trying to play it cool – we were teenagers, after all.

The pair of them cavorted through the rows of strawberry bushes, picking strawberries with such fervour that they would have made great farm employees, had they not been several years shy of the legal working age.

It got to the point where I was so tempted by those sweet little ruby gems that I couldn’t restrain myself any longer. Under the guise of “helping” my younger brother, I plucked those green-hatted little fellows straight off the bush and into my greedy mouth.

You weren’t supposed to eat the strawberries as you picked, because it was a pay-by-weight system… oops!

If I were to go to a berry farm now (which is WHOLEHEARTEDLY want to do), I don’t think I could promise that each picked berry would land safely into the basket provided…one or five may slip into my mouth… by accident of course.

Base:

  • 190g butterscene
  • 2 ¼ cups plain flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarb
  • ½ cup oats
  • 1 egg

Filling:

  • 600g strawberries
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Crumble:

  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup almonds, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 20cm square tin. I strongly recommend using a spring form tin, if you have one… otherwise, prepare to have to wrestle this baby out.

oatsUse the your fingers to rub together your flour, sugar and butter in a large bowl. If you don’t want to use your fingers, a knife would work just fine. When you have a mixture that looks like breadcrumbs, add in the bicarb and mix. Add in the egg and oats and combine, mixing until crumbly again.

pressTake 3 ¼ cups of this mixture and press it firmly into your greased and lined tin until smooth and even. Pop into your oven for 15 minutes.  Set the remaining mixture to one side, this will be the basis of your crumble for the top.

sliceWhile the base cooks, twist the tops off your strawberries and slice them into rounds. You may chop the tops off the strawberries if you want, but I find that this leads to so much wastage. A simple twist gets rid of the leaves and usually leaves only a small amount of stalk.

Pop your strawberries into a medium saucepan with the sugar and vanilla over a medium heat. Stir regularly until the sugar has dissolved and you can’t feel any crunchiness in the liquid. Once the sugar has melted, keep on the heat for 4 minutes, stirring constantly.

strawbsThis mixture will smell divine – you will legitimately feel like the queen/king of the kitchen as you breathe in this gorgeous strawberry aromas.

Take off the heat and set to one side.

When your base is starting to turn a light golden colour, remove it from the oven and set it to one side to cool.

spoon strawbsWhile the strawberries and the base are both cooling, grab the mixture you reserved from earlier and add the extra oats and almonds to it. Mix well, allowing it to clump slightly so that it’s super crumbly.

When the base and strawberries are mostly cool (warm is fine), spoon the strawberry mixture evenly over the base, draining off as much liquid as you can. Spoon the crumble over the top of the strawberries and return to the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the top has browned nicely.

aboveAllow to cool and set for 10 minutes before serving.

This little dish is really versatile – you can serve it warm as dessert (with delicious vanilla ice cream), or leave it cold and serve as afternoon tea, or a lunch box filler.

 

Rosewater pistachio meringues and the Sweet Swap 2014

In the world of blogging, I’m a relative newbie. I hit my 200th post yesterday and was quietly thrilled at achieving such a milestone – but there are many people who have been blogging for years and have way more street cred than I do.

rosesBut the bloggers I’ve come across so far don’t even care! They’re a lovely, funny, clever, talented bunch and they welcome anyone into the fold. They’re top class human beings that I would never have had the chance to interact with if it weren’t for Baking with Gab.

Which is why I leapt at the chance to sign up to the Sweet Swap 2014! Not only do you get to create delicious little morsels and trade them with three people, the donations go to charity AND it opens you up to a whole new set of Australian bloggers.

There is not one thing that I dislike about these outcomes!!

I was assigned the 120 Dollars Food Challenge, A Cupcake or Two and Western Sydney Food Blog – three blogs who hadn’t yet come across on WordPress/Instagram/Facebook yet. I’m now stalking each of them a little bit, obviously!

unwrappedI packed up my fragile little meringues and shipped them off. I also included some little plastic pots of tea – because no Baking with Gab creation is truly complete without a good cuppa beside it. The tea that I included was a beautiful French earl grey from Neo.

peanut-finish

As per the rules of the swap, I was assigned three other bloggers – I received a gorgeous little raw vegan chocolate coconut squares from On the Flavor Road, which were gobbled up in one day because it sat dangerously within reach of my work keyboard.

I got chocolate and peanut butter cookies from Jeroxie, which the post office man was reluctant to let go because he could smell the peanut butter!

My final parcel to arrive were the butterscotch brazil nuts from Tiffin – they arrived in one piece (unlike my meringues, sorry guys!) and were snaffled by co-workers very quickly!

photo (2)I can’t wait for next year’s Sweet Swap. I’m going to start planning from now, so that I know that whatever I post next year will arrive completely in one piece and will be packaged as gorgeously as possible!

And here is the recipe that I sent out to my sweet swappers. Rosewater and pistachio meringues, such a classic combination of flavours.  I also sent off one experimental meringue, a  citrus and earl grey meringue – but they’re still a work in progress!

Rosewater pistachio meringues:

  • 4 egg whitesclose
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp rosewater
  • 1 tsp pink food colouring
  • ¼ cup pistachios, chopped
  • 8 rosebuds, dried (optional)

 

Before you start any whipping, wipe down your whisk and bowl with half a lemon to remove residual fats. Fats flatten meringues, so this is a precautionary little step. Wipe any leftover lemon juice out with a paper towel.
Whip your sugar and egg whites together. Start on a lower speed (I went for 3 on my stand mixer) and speed it up a notch at a time (up to about 8) over the course of a minute; I find that this method gets the most air into the meringues.

While the egg whites whip up, preheat your oven to 140°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.

 

Keep whipping until the mixture is thick and glossy, then add in your rosewater. It should take a further 3-5 minutes after adding the rosewater. When you’re done, the your mixture to hold soft peaks.

Using a tablespoon, plop great big lumps of meringue mixture onto your lined baking trays. You can sculpt them slightly if you like, or you can just leave them as is. They’re beautifully imperfect either way.

Pour your food colouring into the lid of the food colouring bottle and dip the end of a teaspoon into it. Delve the teaspoon straight into the middle of the meringue and swirl it gently outwards to create a beautiful seam in your meringue blob. Repeat with each meringue.

Sprinkle your uncooked meringues with the chopped pistachios. Be generous with them! If you’re including rose petals, pluck them from the stem now and scatter them over the tops.

Turn your oven down to 120°C and pop the meringues straight in.

Bake for 50-60 minutes – you’ll know they’re done when they’re dry to touch. You should be able to lightly tap on the outside and have it make a satisfying little hollow sound.

Transfer to a cooling rack and devour once cool. You can leave them overnight in the oven with the door open to dry them out further.

Vanilla rhubarb jam and Father’s Day

spillIt’s Father’s Day, and I’m on my way to visit my favourite father, so I’m going to keep things short and sweet. Coincidentally, that is also a perfect description of this recipe!

This rhubarb and vanilla jam is so speedy to whip up that you will wonder why your fridge is not filled with every single delicious home-made jam in the world.  You can have it made in under 20 minutes! I tend to think that the less ingredients your jam has, the better, so with four ingredients, this rhubarb and vanilla delight is a winner.

I made it for Father’s Day because my dad is a bit of a rhubarb fiend. I have vivid childhood memories of him stewing it slopping it over ice cream. Slop is exactly the sound I recall it making as he scooped it from the pan into his dessert bowl.

Sorry dad, but it never looked appetising! The beautiful, vibrant colours would leech out of the stalks and into the water, leaving everything looking a bit anaemic.

It was only recently that I re-discovered rhubarb. I like it best when it’s complimented with sweetness, like in my rhubarb glazed doughnuts, or in a lovely syrup and served with porridge, like I had for brekkie the other day.

Vanilla rhubarb jam:

Makes one cup.

  • 3 tbsp waterjam
  • 300g rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup sugar

Grab a large, heavy-bottomed pan and put the water in first, this will stop the sugar from catching on the bottom of the pan and burning.

rhubarbAdd the rhubarb, vanilla paste and sugar. I used Heilala vanilla bean paste because it’s slightly more concentrated than vanilla extract. If you’re using regular vanilla extract, add a dash extra.

Stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved completely. You’ll notice the syrup start to turn a beautiful pinky-red colour.

Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up to medium-high and stir constantly for 12-14 minutes.

As you’re stirring press down with your wooden spoon to get rid of any big chunks of rhubarb. When the jam has thickened and most of the liquid has disappeared, it’s done.

spoonScoop into a sterilised jar with an air tight lid and pop into the fridge to cool down and firm up.

This jam is delicious on toast, the vanilla gives it a mellow sweetness which makes it taste like rhubarb with custard!

Date and cashew fudge and adventures

icingOne of my friends lives about an hour out of Sydney, so every now and then I go on an adventure to Elderslie. It’s really not that far away from where I live, but it’s so different. There are farms and horses and farm fresh veggies at ridiculously reasonable prices. There are some pretty cute cafes, and I’m slowly working my way through each of them.

It’s beautiful as well – because of the slight climate difference, the cherry blossoms in Sally’s area start earlier than they do in mine.

And around Christmas the jacaranda blooms come out with such vibrancy that it takes your breath away; they carpet the streets with their purple, silken flowers. The reason I’m telling you about her is because she’s a little bit of a health-nut, and I made this dessert to take to her. She runs an Instagram account dedicated to raw/vegan/healthy food…her page is pretty much the antithesis of Baking with Gab! Continue reading

Hedgehog sprinkle cake and niceness

aboveI’ve been slow in getting recipes up recently because the oven at my rental place is unreliable. I love having my own kitchen to experiment in, but I don’t think it loves me back… not all the time, anyway!

So this recipe is basic, easy and nice. Because it is nice to be back. I find blogging such a great outlet – not having the opportunity to write posts because of lack of recipes to share saddens me somewhat.

Enough dwelling on negatives – let us focus on the nice things! I delighted over a gorgeous speckled egg amidst a collection of perfectly beige counterparts. The name of this cake came about because I had such a fun time icing it. I was aimlessly dabbing away at it when I realised (with a little giggle) that it had started to resemble a little hedgehog. Continue reading

Mooberry review and waffles

wafflesI’ve been putting off writing this post for a while. Not for any sinister reasons , it’s just that this blog post hinges around waffles. Or the making of them.

I have been searching and searching and searching for a waffle maker so that I could post a recipe to accompany the review of Mooberry Neutral Bay which inspired me to make waffles in the first place.

I have had approximately zero luck finding a reasonably priced waffle maker! I thought I might be able to pick one up easily at Kmart or Target, but I have not had any luck. How is this? The few that I have found are either massive or too expensive. Where are the reasonably priced waffle irons that will fit in my small rental kitchen?

So this post has two parts – one part is telling you how awesome my Mooberry experience was. The second part is to implore you to help me find the waffle iron my dreams. Suggestions and donations welcome!

pairI was invited to sample Mooberry’s delights through my blog. I said yes, assuming that I’d get some froyo, which I love. I didn’t realise that Mooberry have so much more to offer than just frozen yoghurt!

I took the Boy along and we had a Mooberry date. It was so cute. The lovely Jamie, who took care of us, started us off with some froyo. The Boy got salted caramel with Maltesers, M&Ms and Tim Tam. It was the ultimate chocolate dessert.

flowersHe’d never had froyo before that day (because he thought it would be gross) and I think it’s safe to say that this serving changed his mind.

I got passionfruit with fresh strawberries and kiwi and lychee pearls. Those little pearls were unreal. They were like little bursts of summer. So you’d think that was it. Mooberry is predominantly a frozen yoghurt place.

hot chocolate
YOU’RE WRONG! Perusing the menu I realised that they offer delicious, even healthy brekkie options. I didn’t sample any of these though, I focussed on the sweet things! The Boy and I devoured a hot chocolate each (go Belgian chocolate every time, it’s glorious) and split a waffle and churros.

churros

Everything is drizzled in chocolate. It is basically my idea of heaven.dip

Jamie explained that they currently have their waffles delivered, but they’re experimenting with making their own. I will definitely be back to try out their house-made waffles, because if they’re better than the current ones, they’ll be divine.
It’s too bad I can’t try and replicate them. Who knew that finding a waffle iron would be so difficult?!
Mooberry Neutral Bay is friendly and funky. There are stag heads and faux grass on the walls, fairy lights adorning bannisters and Instagram pictures on the wall upstairs.

bananaIt’s a pretty photogenic place, as you may have seen, I insta-spammed my followers while I was there!  The staff are sweet and super helpful, the Boy and I had a lovely time.

 

 

Caramel apple scrolls and rainy mornings

scrollWhen I woke up this morning it was raining. Hard.

It’s been doing so on and off for a few days now. This kind of weather makes me want to shrug off anything that resembles responsibility and stay in bed, only leaving the covers to bake and make more tea.

Scrolls are perfect for this kind of weather. You can whip them up and let them rest while you return to bed. Then pop them in the oven and take them back to bed once they’re done!! The sweet smell of caramelising brown sugar will creep into every corner of the house and have it smelling inviting after just once batch. The smell will settle right around the house like a big, warm hug, fending off those rainy day blues. Continue reading

Earl grey truffles and indulgences

plateChocolate is something that I don’t often buy for myself. I buy baking chocolate lots, but given the amount of baking that I do, I try to avoid chocolate bars. I’m not always successful, but I try.

So when I get cravings for, I try to get creative and make them a little indulgent. This is how these amazing little morsels came about. They’re teeny tiny, so you can eat 20 of them before you have to worry about stopping! (I may have exaggerated slightly, maybe don’t eat 20…) Continue reading