The best ANZAC Biscuits and reflections

This ANZAC Day blog isn’t your traditional ANZAC Day reflection. I intend no disrespect to people who are commemorating ANZAC Day the traditional way, I’m just having a different kind of ruminations.

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus recently. It wasn’t planned, it just happened. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to blog, life just got in the way a little bit. It’s been good to get away and get some perspective. With all the time I freed up from not blogging, I had the opportunity to evaluate things from a different perspective and realized that some of my older recipes need updating!

Anzacs (7 of 15)

With the rest of my free time, I went to New Zealand and Africa and met amazing people, had adventures that I’ll never forget and ate a whole lot of delicious new foods. I’ll sprinkle details of my trips in upcoming blogs, but would thoroughly recommend both destinations to anyone even vaguely considering a holiday right now. Get out there!

The last time I posted an ANZAC biscuit recipe I was at a very different stage in my life. You can read about the wonderful adventure I had here. I was totally in love with Australia and in awe of how different its landscapes can be. Right now, I’m still in love with Australia, but for very different reason. The Boy, as he was referred to in previous blogs, is no longer a part of my life. Things changed for the worse in our relationship and it ended up being unhealthy. The deterioration of one relationship, however, has meant that countless other relationships have bloomed – my friends and family are wonderful, crazy, ridiculous people who are there for me at the drop of a hat.

I am grateful for Australia because of all the people in my life that are here. I’m also grateful that we have such a delicious little morsel to help us commemorate ANZAC Day.

Enjoy your day off, I hope you’re spending it well!

Anzacs (6 of 15)

ANZAC Biscuits

Makes 24

  • 1 cup oats
  • ¾ cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 1 tsp bicarb

Line a baking tray and preheat your oven to 160°.

Mix together all of your dry ingredients until they’re evenly distributed.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and golden syrup over a low heat. While this is melting, put the boiling water and bicarb into a small cup and mix them.

When the butter and golden syrup are completely melted, pour the water and bicarb in and allow it to bubble up for 20 seconds, stirring as little as possible. The butter and golden syrup will react to the bicarb, bubbling and becoming cloudy.

Remove the mixture from the heat and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix until there are no dry pockets left, then spoon tablespoons of mixture onto your lined tray.

Bake the biscuits for 12-15 minutes, rotating at half way. Transfer them onto a cooling tray and devour them still warm – they won’t last very long!

 

Santa’s cookies and Christmas recipes

Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. There’s a sense of magic in the air – people are friendlier, smiles come more easily from strangers, and everything smells so ridiculously delicious! Along with the magic, the air is laden with smells like sherry, fruitcake, pine and cinnamon.

For me, Christmas revolves around food and family. In the absence of family this year (the Boy and I are in Sydney while the rest of my family are up the coast), I plan to eat myself into a a food coma – who is with me?

santas-choc-chip-cookies-15-of-18
And I’ve already started with these babies! I’ll be putting some out for Santa, but I can’t promise that I won’t nibble on them before he gets to them! They’re soft and moist, and the hint of cinnamon is subtle, but works wonders. Make these, Santa and your stomach will be eternally grateful.

Santa’s choc chip cookies

  • Makes 40 cookies
    1 1/2 cups Nuttelex
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 1/2 tspns cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons cornflour
  • 2 teaspoon bicarb
  • 5 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Cream together your Nuttelex and both types of sugar, then add in the eggs, vanilla and cinnamon until just combined.

Pop the cornflour and bicarb in, then add in the flour, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Try not to overmix, as this will make your cookies tough.

Finally, add in the choc chips, saving a handful of each and setting them to one side.
Scoop out heaped tablespoons of mixture and roll between your hands until you have a rough disc, then press some of the remaining choc chips into the discs so that you end up with an appealing mix of chocolate on the top of the cookie.

santas-choc-chip-cookies-1-of-18

Set them on your lined tray about 1cm apart and pop into the oven for 12 minutes, rotating at half way. These cookies are best if you only put one tray in at a time. However, if you decide to put two trays in at once, leave them in for 2 minutes extra, and swap them over at half way so that they cook evenly.

When you remove them from the oven, allow them to cool for two minutes, then transfer them to a cooling tray.

santas-choc-chip-cookies-7-of-18

I recommend you devour these babies warm, but make sure you save some for Santa!

If cookies aren’t your thing, here are some other last minute Christmas recipes for you:

No-bake choc mint cheesecake

thumb_IMG_8642_1024

Mint chocolate crackles

single

 

Cherry syllabub

IMG_8703

Home made raisin toast and Easter hangovers

Anyone else feeling the effects of Easter still? I know I am! All of that chocolate and merriment! Easter at my house is jam packed with so many people, so much food, and lots of laughs with the kiddy Easter egg hunt that Easter Monday has a hard act to follow. To counter the blues that set in when you realise that Easter is over, and you no longer have an excuse to eat your body weight in chocolate, I recommend straight up denial.

Denial in the form of chocolate spiked raisin bread!

Hot cross bun bread (13 of 18)

It’s basically a giant hot cross bun that you can eat warm out of the oven, cold with a smattering of jam, or piping hot, straight from the toaster and smothered in butter.

Not only is this bread the perfect way to relive Easter at any time of the year, it’s also a great way to use up the Easter eggs that you may have hanging around the house. I don’t know about you, but after Sunday I seem to have about three tonnes of them in various bowls around the house!

How was your Easter? Do you have a tradition of Easter egg hunting like my family does?

 

Home made raisin toast / hot cross bun bread

  • 2 teaspoons instant dried yeast
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 3 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 150g milk chocolate easter eggs
  • 1/3 cup sultanas
  • 1 tbsp milk

Vanilla bean butter

  • 160g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar

Pour your warm water and yeast into a cup and set to one side for the yeast to do it’s thing for ten minutes.

While the yeast is set aside, sift your sugar into a bowl. Mix in the white sugar, followed by the allspice and cinnamon.

Hot cross bun bread (1 of 18)

Make a well in the centre and mix in your yeast. Pour in your water, about ¼ cup at a time until you’ve used it all and have a cohesive ball of dough.

Hot cross bun bread (2 of 18)

If you’re using a stand mixer, mix on a medium speed for 3-4 minutes. If you’re hand-kneading, do it for about 10 minutes.

Lightly oil your bowl and set the dough back in it, cover the bowl in cling wrap and set to in a warm spot to rise for one hour. For those of you who don’t know, sausage dogs prosper in the heat just as much as rising bread does. Try to keep sausages and dough separate.

Hot cross bun bread (3 of 18)

When your dough has more than doubled in size, lightly flour a surface and scoop your dough out onto it. Put half of your chocolate and sultanas into the middle of the dough and fold the dough in on itself a few times. Put the rest of the chocolate and sultanas in the dough and knead until the chocolate and sultanas are evenly distributed throughout.

Hot cross bun bread (4 of 18)

Pop into your bread tin and set in a warm place to rise again for 15 minutes.

Hot cross bun bread (7 of 18)

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Brush your bread with the milk, then pop your bread in the oven for 10 minutes.

Hot cross bun bread (8 of 18)

Reduce the temperature to 170°C and continue baking for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven when the top of the loaf is nicely browned and it makes a hollow sound when you knock the top of it.

Hot cross bun bread (9 of 18)

 

This bread is great served with regular butter, but I recommend whipping up some vanilla bean butter for an extra tasty slice. Allow your butter to come to room temperature and quickly mix in the sugar and vanilla. I use regular, salted butter as it adds a nice little edge to the otherwise sweet spread. Enjoy fresh from the oven, cooled, or toasted – whichever way you serve it, this bread is scrumptious!

Hot cross bun bread (18 of 18)

Hot cross bun bread (5 of 18)

Hot cross bun bread (16 of 18)

Hot cross bun bread (12 of 18)

Hot cross bun bread (15 of 18)

Planning on making this recipe? Tag me on Instagram and use #bakingwithgab so I can see your wonderful creations!

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)

Orange & poppy seed cookies and November

Movember makes me happy. Unsurprisingly, it’s not the ridiculous patches of hair that spring up (with varying degrees of success) on the men in my life that I love.

Moustache cupcakes (7 of 16)

I love that it is part of the solution to de-stigmatising men’s health problems. That sounds a little pompous, but hear me out.
The men in my family are stoic, old-fashioned creatures who hate the idea of going to the doctor until there’s a real problem (I.e. When the problem is usually worse).
Preventative doesn’t exist in their vocabulary.

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.

Easter cupcakes and less than

groupI love these little cupcakes. So much. The icing is one of my favourite icings ever. It’s cream cheese and chocolate – it’s so delicious that it should almost be illegal. Part of what I love about the cupcakes is that they’re not quite perfect. The batter is simple and not too sweet, the icing is delicious, but lends itself to a more rustic look. They’re a little bit less-than-perfect…and that’s completely fine. As someone who is constantly striving to achieve perfection, sometimes I need to take a step back and remind myself that being “less than” is not always a bad thing. Perfect isn’t always fun.

Marshmallow bunnies and Easter excitement

huddleGuys. I’m so excited about Easter. I ate a Crème Egg last night and I can’t contain the excitement any longer. As soon as I cave and eat an Easter egg, I can’t help but get excited. The Easter flood gates have officially opened!

This year’s Easter is going to be quieter than years gone by; we don’t have much planned. My cousins usually bring their kids over, which results in much cuteness (see instagram for exhibit A)

Decorating a cake with fresh flowers

sceneCakes covered in real flowers are awesome. Naked cakes are super popular at the moment, and with those rustic, cutesy cakes have come flowers – big, small, pastel, bold, spiky, flowing…you get the point. Combining delicious cake with gorgeous flowers is a glorious idea, but the concept can seem foreign to some people, so I’ve put together some tips to help you take your cake to the next level.

Most of these steps are aimed at making sure that your flowers are safe to be placed on a cake – you don’t want nasties getting on your beautiful cake.

The best hot chocolate in the world

aboveWant the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day? Chocolate.

That is all you need. (Well, that’s all I need!)

It’s no secret that I love chocolate. When it comes to food, the more chocolate something has in it, the better. That is why I skip cocoa and go straight for a block when I make hot chocolate. Your loved one/s will love you for this, trust me.