Mini lemon thyme cakes and discoveries

thyme in handLast post I mentioned re-discovering a fabulous carrot and poppyseed cake. I realised that I don’t proclaim my discovery of things often enough. It would be remiss of me to write any further this week without mentioning my two new loves – lemon thyme and cake stands.

Of course, I’ve always known that both existed, but this week I have seen them in a new light. So I guess you could call these sort-of-discoveries It was an abundance of lemon thyme in the garden that drew me to seek out new recipes to harness it. The smell of lemon thyme is absolutely enchanting. It’s like lemon’s cooler older brother – lemon thyme  is a little more mature and mellowed out where lemon is really loud and abrasive, too busy trying to prove himself.

Carrot & poppyseed cake and re-discovering

sceneA friend requested I make a carrot cake a while ago and I said I would oblige. I hadn’t even considered posting a carrot cake, because I would never usually choose to eat carrot cake. I was chatting to mother dearest about it and she reminded me of a recipe that she hasn’t cooked in years. And I didn’t realise how much I had missed it!

This mixture is beautiful. It is moist and crunchy and dense and delicious. Have I convinced you to make it yet? I haven’t even started describing the velvety cream cheese icing.

Vanilla cupcakes with elderberry and elderflower icing

allAs promised long ago in my weekends away post, here is a recipe using the local produce that I foraged for in Orange. I chanced upon a shop called A Slice of Orange (which was completely adorable, given we were in Orange in NSW) and found an array of locally sourced foods. They ship all across Australia as well, which could be dangerous for my bank balance!

The purchase I was most excited about was the Elderflower and elderberry cordial! Having only learned that elderberries existed when I lived in England three years ago, they still have a shiny novelty factor for me. The boy’s mother spoke of making elderberry wine and picking elderflowers – to my knowledge, Sydney-siders miss out on these delightful escapades!

Brownie cheesecake slice and remembering

sliceMother remembered on Thursday morning that she had to take a slice into work on Friday. She left me a note asking me to make one for her. Of course I obliged; being unemployed and sole contributor to my baking blog, this request was perfectly tailored to my situation!

She needed something easy to transport (cupcakes are out), something that would feed a group easily (pots de crème are out) and something delicious. I’ve made brownies before and they’re delightful, but I felt as though she needed something a little more show stopping to tempt her co-workers.

Easy appetiser bread and entertaining

I had friends over on Saturday. We were going to a hen’s night together so I asked them to come over beforehand. I organised some chips and dips and cheeses doneand faffed about getting ready in between locating cheese knives and sourcing plates for (store bought) dips. Everyone thinks chips and dips are easy, but really, they’re fiddly. I have nothing against cheese and biccies (in fact, I quite enjoy them) but there are lots of bowls and knives and plates to clear away afterwards.

Lavender shortbread and excitement

previewThis recipe was my first contribution to a website that wasn’t my own – I know, super exciting, right?! I was stoked when the Geelong Blabbertiser said that they wanted me a contributor! I already wrote an introduction for the post (which can be found here), but I’m going to write a second one. That’s right, a double-barreled introduction. I hope you’re sitting down.

Today was a day of great excitement! My first post on the Geelong Blabbertiser went up (I had first post jitters!) and Norman got a hair cut (before and after photos!) While I was waiting for Norman I also ate at a patisserie that I’d never been to (see the amazing picture here.) You underestimate how exciting all of these things were! Norman’s haircut also lead to the discovery of a hernia which is kind of sucky, but that will hopefully be sorted out in the coming weeks. 

Neenish tarts and Australian bakeries

I’ve decided that I need to add a little bit of Australia into my blog. I included the wattle in my blog here, but that’s not enough! So starting now, there will be a category of recipes which scream Australiana to me. I’m not promising any kangaroo burgers or emu pies, because I don’t have the slightest interest in eating our national symbols. What I do mean is recipes that taste like my childhood, or my parents childhood – many of these sweets (think lamingtons, cream buns), but I’ll do some research to find other dishes that are Australian.

Unbirthdays and tea parties

I hinted last week that there was a friend’s birthday coming up soon. It was on Tuesday. So on Wednesday we threw an unbirthday party. She’s not a fan of birthdays (crazy, I know), but she loves Alice in Wonderland – how could I resist an unbirthday/Mad Hatter’s themed party?!

Recipes in this blog have all been posted before, click the name to get the recipe!

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Queen of Hearts Tart (White chocolate cheesecake)

I’ve got a friend’s birthday coming up soon and I’m trying to put together a few recipes to make her party special. It will be a high tea style thing because she’s not a big fan of birthdays. I can’t understand why she doesn’t love birthdays, but I’m loving the challenge of finding recipes that will impress her without seeming too celebratory.

I’m keeping plans a little bit secret, so I won’t blab too much. Keep an eye out for her birthday post later this week, I have a feeling that it’s going to be great!

Before you start the recipe, ensure you’ve got a syringe. Like the ones you give kids medicine with. It sounds odd, but it’s a really simple decorating tool.

I appropriated this recipe from one I found at Cooking Classy.

White chocolate cheesecake tart:punch glass (1024x683)

  • 2 sheets shortcrust pastry
  • 300g cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ tsp lemon juice

Raspberry puree

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • ¼ cup cold water

Grease six tart tins. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
strainPut your frozen raspberries in a small saucepan over a medium heat and sprinkle the sugar in. When the raspberries start to defrost, add the cornflour and water. Stir it often so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. When the raspberries have broken down fully, allow the mixture to come to a boil and thicken for about two minutes. Remove your puree from the heat and put it through a strainer to get rid of all the seeds.strained

It’s going to look a little bit like something from a bad horror film – all red and gloopy, but it’s delicious. Set your puree aside, you’ll need it in about ten minutes.

Cut your pastry into squares and fit them into your tart tins. You’ll need to do this in two batches, the recipe makes about 12. Pop them into the oven for 10 minutes so that the pastry cooks slightly – you may want to weight them down with baking weights to stop it from bubbling up.

like creamWhile the tarts cook, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy in a large mixing bowl (this will take about one minute.) Mix in your egg and egg white, then the vanilla and lemon juice. Melt your white chocolate and stir the cream into the chocolate. When the chocolate and cream are completely combined, add them to the cream cheese mixture and mix thoroughly. It should be a similar consistency to whipped cream – don’t worry, it will cook into a more cheesecakey consistency.

Remove the tart cases from the oven and allow them to cool. Take them out of their cases and put your second batch of cases in to cook. When your second lot of tart dough has come out of the oven and cooled, prepare to put your cheesecake mixture in.

syringeSpoon the mixture so that the tart cases are about ¾ full (the mixture will rise slightly as it cooks.) Get out your syringe and prepare to get crafty! Grab your bowl of raspberry puree and suck up as much as you can into the syringe. I’d advise you to keep the nozzle moving so you don’t suck up much air, because air bubbles are annoying. Ensure that the tops of your tarts are as smooth as possible and inject small circles of raspberry into them. Don’t crowd the circles because you’ll elongate them later to make the hearts. Once you’ve put circles in all of them, get a toothpick and run it through the centre of each circle in a continuous line. You may want to wipe the toothpick after each tart to make cleaner lines.spotsswirl

Don’t worry if they’re not completely neat, as long as you run your toothpick through the centre of each circle, they’ll look heart-like. Little tricks like using the syringe or a piping bag may seem fiddly, but get easier with practice, and give your baked goods a professional finish.norman watched

Bake tarts back in the oven for 15-20 mins. Take them out of the oven and allow them to cool completely before serving. They’ll set more as they cool, so don’t rush them by eating them warm!

trio

Father’s day cupcake idea

My dad is a pretty good guy. He put up with me in my argumentative years when I was annoying and stubborn (actually, I don’t think much has changed) and he still loves me despite the way we’re prone to disagree on matters.

The thing that many people notice about my dad is his beard. He’s a beardy man, always has been.

I was 16 before I knew what my father’s top lip looked like.

He raised money for Shave for a Cure and promised that he would shave his head and beard in return for donations. I don’t think he, or anyone else for that matter, honestly realised how big a deal this was!

He raised his money and the night dawned. His time for the clippers came with much excitement,. The clippers started at the head, skipped the eyebrows(!), devoured his beard, and finally munched up his moustache.mo

I spoke to him immediately afterwards and was fixated by the funny flap of skin that now resided below his nose. It was pink and fleshy, comically paler than the rest of his face. I watched the flap stretch and wriggle as dad laughed and chatted. I wondered what he was thinking – was his face cold without all of that covering? I can only assume it was.

He’s grown the beard and moustache back. I haven’t seen that flap since I was 16, and I kind of like it that way. Familiarity is comfortable, right?

In honour of my dad’s facial hair, this year, seven years after I laid eyes upon his top lip, I am making him moustachioed cupcakes.

three againAll you need is 150g of chocolate and a piping bag (which you can craft yourself if you don’t own one!) It can get a little bit fiddly, but these surreal little beauties are so worth it! They reminded me of a Magritte, so I set them against his clouds to heighten the surrealness.

Get some skewers and chop them into 2-3 cm pieces, depending on how tall you want your moustaches to be (what an odd sentence!) When you’re piping make sure that you leave enough space below each piece to put the skewer pieces in. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper.

pipedBreak up your chocolate pieces and pop them in the microwave until they’re melted. Stir it every 20 seconds or so to avoid burning it. Once it’s all glossy and melted, scoop it into your piping bag and pipe loose ‘m’ shapes onto the baking paper for the moustache. For the tophats, start with a line, then pipe a square on top of it. It’s easiest if you work quickly – the chocolate will be running out of the piping bag quickly, so try to beat it! Don’t worry if it’s a bit messy, you can always eat the reject ones, or melt them down and try again. Once you’ve filled your tray with moustaches and tophats that you’re sufficiently proud of, pop the skewer pieces into the centre of the chocolate. Don’t let them go in wonky or you’ll end up with wonky decorations.

stickPut them in the fridge for about 20 minutes then stick them into your cupcakes and prepare to impress dad! I used my chocolate and vanilla cupcakes – my dad is a traditional man, so chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing suit his tastebuds perfectly. These decorations will suit any cupcakes though, don’t limit yourself!

Would your dad like these? bothHave you tried giving your cupcakes moustaches and top hats? Let me know!