Coconut ice slice and New Year resolutions

Who made a resolution to get fit for 2016? I commend you, if you did. I know that most people make healthy resolutions, usually, but I plan on challenging myself with my baking instead. I’m going to take more classes – there is no better way to get inspired than to learn from experts. I’m taking a cookie painting class in two weeks and will report back. Hopefully you’ll be seeing tiny edible masterpieces soon!

Coconut ice slice-9

And I’m going to work on my photography as well. If you’ve got any recommendations for cooking and/or food photography classes, send them my way, I’m all ears.

I’m also going to make Daisy a super obedient dog. The Boy and I have been struggling with her behaviour (she’s an angel for us, but a massive jerk  to strangers!) so we’re going to take her to a doggy specialist!

I’m also verbalising more of my plans. Or writing them here, at least. Because that way I’m less likely to forget about them/change my mind when they get too hard. I read recently that humans find it harder to go back on their plans once they’ve told them to other people. So let’s try and use that to my advantage.

AND I’m going to give my props the loving they deserve – I’ve got a rapidly growing collection and I neglect the oldies sometimes. Expect these floral tea cups to be making regular appearances, they were a Christmas present from my gorgeous mother and I’m smitten.

Coconut ice slice-6

The baking side of my resolutions I’ve already started. This winner of a recipe, which I appropriated from a gorgeous cook book I was given for Christmas, is the perfect start to my new year.

Now I’ve only got to get started on all of those other things I just committed to…

 

Coconut ice slice

Serves 12

Base

  • 170g butter
  • 1 1/3 cups white sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 1/3 cups desiccated coconut
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarb

Filling

  • 115g butter
  • 5 cups icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 3/4 cups desiccated coconut
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • Chocolate shavings to decorate
Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Beat together your butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Mix in your cornflour, followed by the desiccated coconut. Add in your egg and beat until combined, followed by your plain flour and bicarb. Only mix in the flour until just combined so you keep the mixture nice and soft.
Grease and line a 25cm round tin (I used a Baker’s Secret high wall crispy tart pan because I love the shape – it’s non-stick, so I only lined the bottom because it has holes for aeration) and press the base evenly around the pan. If you can’t get a smooth enough finish, use your fingers or a straight-sided tumbler to even things out.
Pop the mixture into your oven for 25-30 minutes. When you pull the base out of the oven it will fall instantly. If it doesn’t sink evenly, stab remaining air pockets with a fork. Set to one side to cool.
While the base is cooling, make a start on your filling by mixing the butter with one cup of icing sugar until combined. Add the remaining icing sugar, one cup at a time, followed by the milk, coconut and vanilla.
Scoop your filling into the cooled base and spread it gently. It should do most of the spreading out by itself. Top with chocolate shavings, or whatever chocolate decorations you like. Pop into the fridge for at least two hours to set properly.
Coconut ice slice-8
Coconut ice slice-11

Speculoos fondant cookies and the meaning of Christmas

This time of year really gets me thinking about what Christmas means. Having been to Europe earlier in the year, I’m thinking about white Christmas, mulled wine and open fires. Of course, Australia’s Christmas is completely the opposite. Right now it’s 30+ degrees every day and lots of humidity – not quite the idyllic Christmas that most people dream of.
Christmas spice cookies with fondant (2 of 8)
But I wouldn’t have it any other way. As much as I love experiencing parts of other cultures, one of my favourite things to do is bring them home with me. This is why I made these little gems!

Vanilla cupcakes and a Christmas giveaway

I. LOVE. CHRISTMAS!

Yesterday was officially the first day of Summer, which means I am positively squirming at the prospect of Christmas. In my house, the first day of December also means that we can start putting Christmas decorations out.

The decorations have surfaced, our little nativity babushka has been positioned…all we need is a tree.

I’m not talking those little, neat, plastic ones that most Australian families trot out year after year, I’m talking full blown, real life Christmas tree. They shed everywhere and the dogs pick fights with the low hanging branches, but I would not have it any other way.

Very vanilla cupcakes (6 of 7)

I’m hoping we get a tree this weekend…I’ll keep you updated.

So, to kick off this exciting time of year, I’m sharing a perfect, simple little festive treat and a giveaway!! I used Heilala Vanilla in these cupcakes, and I could not recommend them more highly. Their vanilla products are amazingly delicious, and if you follow their Instagram you actually learn things. For example, did you know that vanilla has to be hand pollinated?

Just let that sink in a little.

Those delightfully fragrant stalks take A LOT of work before they make it to your kitchen.

To celebrate this time of year, Heilala (pronounced hey-la-la) have made up these cute little Vanilla Posh Popcorn Packs valued at $31.95.
CO+SYR+KERN+BOX_on white
To win this pack (which includes 150ml Heilala Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 100ml Heilala Vanilla Syrup and 250g organic corn kernels) just email baking withgab@gmail.com and tell me who you’ll share your Posh Popcorn Pack with and why. One extra entry for people who tag their mate in the WIN post on Facebook.
This competition is only open to Australian residents (sorry, international friends!) and closes on December 20th, 2015. The prize pack may have to be enjoyed after Christmas, depending on warehouse closures and the ability of the posts system close to Christmas, so winner, please be patient. This competition is completely down to chance, the winner will be chosen at random.
Good luck!!

Vanilla cupcakes

Makes 24

  • 220g butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tspn Vanilla
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup milk

Perfect vanilla buttercream

  • 180g butter
  • 3 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1.5 tsp milk
  • Sprinkles, to decorate

Preheat your oven to 170°C and line your cupcake tins with patty pans.

Cream together your butter and sugar until pale. Add in your vanilla and egg whites. Sift in your flour and bicarb and mix well. Add in the milk and mix until just combined. Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until very lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

While the cupcakes cool, whip your icing up. Put your butter and one cup of icing sugar into your mixer and mix well. Add in the remaining icing sugar, followed by the milk and vanilla bean paste.

Very vanilla cupcakes (2 of 7)

Scoop your buttercream into a piping bag and pipe onto your cupcakes. Apply sprinkles liberally and serve with a nice hot cuppa.

It’s worth noting that these cupcakes have no bicarb in them – if you want them to be a little taller, add 1 tsp bicarb to them.

Very vanilla cupcakes (3 of 7)

Very vanilla cupcakes (4 of 7)

Very vanilla cupcakes (7 of 7)

Halloween mishaps and frankendoughnuts

This recipe almost didn’t happen. There were two versions of this recipe that didn’t make it to the blog (simply because they were devoured, so I couldn’t take photos of them) and when I’d made this batch and piped them all nicely into their moulds, the oven wouldn’t light.

You read right, I’ve ovened my oven oblivion. *insert crying emoji here*

halloween doughnuts four

Cinnamon and date scrolls and familiarity

It dawned on me recently that I’ve been home from my holiday for nearly a month.

And I haven’t posted ONCE. I’m a bad blogger, I apologise.

set scrolls aboveI’ve been super productive in the kitchen working on various bits and pieces, I just haven’t had the chance to put it all down. So to kickstart my blogging once more I’m putting a twist on an old favourite.

Earl grey choc chip mini bundt and comfort

aboveThis week is a bit of a crazy one for me. I’ve been baking to calm my nerves and keep my hands busy. And I’ve loved it. Last week I was a little lax with my recipe posting, but all will come good after this week. The uncertainty that has me baking like a crazy person will lift, and things will become clearer.

As always, I find myself turning to tea and baked goods for comfort – in this case, the tea and baked item are one! Earl grey tea and bundt; could one little morsel be any more perfect? It’s like all of my favourite things rolled into one perfect, adorable little bund(t)le.

Milo mudcake and chance

cakeI bake ALL the time.

I know that I bake more than a regular person, but every now and then, some little dessert just floors me. I went to Lorraine’s Patisserie a few weeks ago and tried a gorgeous little tart. It was stunningly chocolatey, and just the perfect amount of sweetness. I set out to recreate the indulgent experience, not knowing where it would end. And then someone Googled “Milo mudcake” and wound up at my blog.

Choc pear brownie cake and accomplishments

tea and brownieI’ve been testing this recipe for a little while. I kept making it and liking it, but not loving it. I like to love all the recipes that I produce. In between making the various mediocre chocolate and pear brownies I managed to do some other cool stuff. For example, I made a milo mudcake, which I’ll post soon. I broke several peoples’ diets with a gorgeous white chocolate peanut butter cheesecake (for real, get the recipe here) and I went to Groovin the Moo and danced away a day that I would usually have spent baking.

Fairy bread biscuits and brightness

This week has been a bit of a crazy one! Sydney (just in case you missed it) has been absolutely hammered with rain. Train lines flooded, businesses closed, broken umbrellas were strewn about the city; nothing remained dry.

single

It was actually kind of ridiculous. On the second day of ridiculous rain, I decided to bake away the grey. These fairy bread biscuits were the perfect counterbalance to the bleakness. This is such a simple recipe, but it gives such consistent, delicious results.

Vegan chocolate cupcakes and challenges

swirlI really enjoyed making my white vegan vanilla cake that I’m continuing to try some vegan recipes. I love that they offer me a bit of a challenge, but it turns out that trying to make something taste delicious without the traditional delicious things that belong in cakes (eggs, milk, butter) isn’t as hard as you think!