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.

Simple Sunday cinnamon scrolls

Ever wake up on a Sunday morning craving something super delicious, but can’t be bothered to put loads of effort into whipping up bacon and eggs or pancakes? This is your solution! It’s a little bit hard to resist eating the raw dough when it’s filled with cinnamon butter, but I promise you it is worth the wait. The whole process will take about 50 minutes to an hour to make it from hunger to plate.

I don’t even usually like cinnamon scrolls, I often think they’re too doughy or bland. These little beauties are soft and cinnamon-packed, with the perfect balance of dough and filling. Yum!

Nutella sponge cake and being let go

It’s not you, it’s me.

Today I was on the receiving end. Unexpectedly too.

The probationary period at my fab new job came to an end and that was it. I’m not as experienced a worker as she needs – and that’s okay. Small businesses need to be as efficient as possible and I’m not the right employee for the company. There are no ill feelings, no bitter words.

It just sucks slightly.

Re-evaluation will start tomorrow. A call to Centrelink may or may not be on the cards. But today I’m embracing the change.

I cried in the car (that was a first), I went to the supermarket in my pretty work dress with my stripey orange runners on (hopefully that’s a first and a last) and I bought a tea set that was irresponsibly expensive given that I started being unemployed this afternoon. And I felt slightly better.

I moped about the house and watched Gossip Girl to escape, but I decided that wasn’t enough.

So Mother and I took Norman for a drive…and I can thoroughly recommend this is treatment for sadness.

Feeling blue? Force your dog to go for a drive with you. I promise it is an instant mood lifter.

We drove to a local park where the wattle is overgrown. And we stole some.

Norman 3Norman 2

Danah’s Red Bull Doughnut Cake and Surprises

During the week it was a friend’s birthday. Danah is tiny, but has an insatiable appetite for sweet things – she eats like a fat person, but never shows it! As a fat skinny person, one of her favourite things in the entire world is Red Bull. When I asked her what kind of cake she’d like, she said a dessert based around Red Bull.

You can imagine my face – it was something like this =S

But then I thought it might not be too crazy an idea. I’d heard of cola cakes before, which are apparently moist and delicious, but Red Bull? For those of you unacquainted with it, Red Bull is an energy drink which is weirdly sweet and sour at the same time…kind of like drinking sour gummy worms. It’s a toxic-looking, intense yellow liquid that should only be consumed (in my opinion) when you require a ridiculous hit of sugar.

I had reservations about putting it in the cake, but I’m glad I did.
cake

I liked it.

It made a thick but well aerated cake that was surprisingly floral in taste. The sourness of the energy drink was taken away in the baking process, leaving a delicate sweetness to the cake which is unlike any other I’ve tasted before. I thought the Red Bull would overwhelm the cake, so I made a heavy chocolate icing in case the taste needed masking! Next time I would serve the cake with a dusting of icing sugar and cream, or with an orange syrup drizzled over the top.

I am thoroughly impressed. And utterly surprised.

Danah’s Red Bull Doughnut Cake:

  • 1/2 cup caster sugarslice
  • 80g butter
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 ¼ cups Red Bull 

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease your cake tin and line the base with a circle of baking paper.

Mix the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add in the vanilla and bicarb, followed by the eggs. The mixture will be pretty sloppy at the moment, so add half of your flour and give it a good mix. Add ¼ cup of Red Bull, the final cup of flour and then the final cup of red bull, stirring in between each addition. The cake batter will smell very strongly of Red Bull, and I don’t advise eating the batter (which is unusual for me), but persevere, it can only go uphill from here!

slicedThis cake was intentionally flat so that it resembled a doughnut, but you could add another teaspoon of bicarb to give it some height.

The final product was perfect for Danah, a  fat skinny person’s dream!

To create a cake exactly like the one pictured, top with a chocolate buttercream and soft sugar pearls (try them, they’re great!) or experiment with other syrups/icings – tell me what you think!

 

Red Bull cake – great or gross?

Yoghurt Berry cake and cooking credentials

You may be reading this blog wondering what credentials I have to be advising people about their cooking (valid question) – the answer is: none. I have no formal culinary qualifications, I just love it. I’m a strong believer in doing what you love – I love writing, pretty things and cooking, so writing a cooking blog seemed like a sensible choice.

flowersWhen I say cooking, I mainly mean baking. I have a near insatiable sweet-tooth, so I gravitate towards cooking things which are sweet (and often visually pleasing!) I will try to blog about savoury dishes as well, but I can’t promise they’ll be exciting – nobody gets excited over spag bol!

Cooking (baking especially) should make you happy. If it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong. There are always going to be times when you can’t fathom getting home from work/uni/whatever else you do to slave over an oven, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Find recipes that excite you. Experiment. Make something up! You don’t have to be a professional to make something amazing.

Not everyone gets as excited about cooking as I do, but I like to think that they have it within them somewhere.

A friend of mine loves coming to my house because there are always left overs. She goes crazy over a simple chocolate slice or mashed potato, but refuses to believe that she can replicate them in her house.  She can. I’m going to make her understand this even if it pains me! You can cook as well.

This recipe is super simple and works warm or cold. It’s great for entertaining – it’s quick to make and it makes people happy! It works with most fruits as well. If you don’t have fresh berries, use frozen ones. Nectarines cut into wedges look really effective if you use a lamington tin instead of round cake tin.

sliceSuper simple Berry Yoghurt Cake

  • 125g butter
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 3/4 cup vanilla yoghurt
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Icing sugar, to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced. Grease a 23cm round cake tin.

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

mixtureAdd eggs, beating to combine. Mix in your plain flour, then the yoghurt. If you only have greek yoghurt in the fridge (like I did), add a teaspoon of vanilla to the mixture as well. Add the self-raising flour and mix until combined. This is quite a thick mixture, don’t worry if it’s a little hard to mix. Spread mixture into your greased cake tin.

tinThe cake tin I’m using has been well-loved. It has held many of my mother dearest’s crème caramels and cakes. As a result, it’s a little worn (that’s being polite) and has a tendency to cling onto cakes when you want to remove them. To combat this I simply trace the base of the tin onto baking paper, cut the round out and place it over the greased base. Problem solved.

frozen berriespressPress a few berries gently into the mixture, but sprinkle most of them across the top of it and then pat them down gently with your hand. If your oven is prone to over-browning things, cover the cake with tin foil two thirds of the way through cooking.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

cake
Remove from oven and let it stand for ten minutes before serving. Sprinkle with icing sugar and add a dollop of cream or yoghurt to finish.

off centreDon’t worry if you take this cake out a little too soon, my favourite part of any cake is the squidgy bit right in the centre where the heat hasn’t completely cooked the mixture. I’m a sucker for cake mixture, and the centre of this cake is glorious!

trio

 

 

 

 

Your finished product should look even better than mine because I foolishly used 2 cups of plain flour instead of one plain and one self raising. It should look more like this (I instagrammed this cake when I made it about a month ago.) We all make mistakes!

 

 

 

Brioche and beginnings

My new mixer (beautiful beast that it is) has prompted much reflection. I debated what to mix in it first. I didn’t want it to be something boring, but I didn’t want to make something really fussy (who does?).Penelope

And so I’ve chosen a recipe that comes highly recommended from a fellow baking enthusiast. This recipe is not mine, but has been tried and tested in mixers that are not my own.

In this recipe I used the bread hook, and it really has me hooked (sorry for the bad pun.) This mixer does all the work for you! I’ve had a food processor before, but the mixer seems much gentler and thorough. I’m not saying everyone should have one – this recipe, as with all the recipes I post, can be done with a bowl, a wooden spoon and a little muscle – the mixer just cuts down on physical exertion…it appeals to my inner sloth.

I’m looking forward to using my KitchenAid for new recipes and old ones too. I have a habit of naming things, I’ll hopefully have come up with a name for the mixer by the next post. I’m thinking Penelope at the moment, but that might have too many syllables…suggestions?

Sort-of-speedy briochecake like

  • 2 1/3 cups plain flour (use bread flour if you’ve got it)
  • 1 sachet instant dry yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 45g butter, softened
  • Egg wash (1 egg and 1tsp of milk)

Don’t preheat the oven yet, you’ve got a while before this deliciousness needs to go into the oven. Combine the flour and yeast. Add
bread hookin your eggs, milk, sugar and salt and mix them to combine. Continue to mix for a further five minutes, adding your butter in slowly. If you’re doing this by hand, make sure your butter is really soft (but not melted!) to make the mixing easier.

Once your butter is incorporated mix the dough for about eight minutes, or until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If you’re using a bread hook like I was, this only takes three minutes on a medium setting.

stuck
Grease that paper!

Line a tray with enough baking paper to envelop the dough and grease the paper. I mean it when I say grease the paper, this dough is sticky. I didn’t grease my paper and I regretted it.  Wrap your dough in the baking paper and cover with a tea towel. Put the tray in a nice warm place for 2-3 hours and allow it to get all warm and risen. It should just about double in size.

I put mine in front of the heater (much to Norman’s annoyance), but this was just me being impatient. Ideally you would leave brioche to rise overnight then refrigerate briefly the next morning, ain’t nobody got time for that though.

I waited two and a half hours before I succumbed to the excitement and threw the mixture into a greased loaf tin.

When you’ve pre-heated your oven to 160°C got your dough pressed into the tin, whisk up the egg wash to brush over every corner of the brioche top. Norman loves it when I need an egg wash, because he gets the leftovers.

spottedyum

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Turn on the fan in your oven during the last five minutes if you’re not getting a nice brown top.

bread and pear
sliced pearSlice thickly and enjoy! Brioche is rich and cake-like, but can be eaten at any time of the day and suits sweet or savoury dishes and eaten warm or cold. My sweet tooth got the better of me and I topped mine with pear and chocolate, a failsafe combination.

I’ve got a brioche-based recipe coming up soon, so stay tuned!
ready

Gatsby-inspired sponge

I saw Gatsby last weekend. And I was inspired.

Brace yourself for part one of my Gatsby posts.

It was beautiful and opulent and slightly magical. The dresses were all over-the-top and the settings were too fabulous to be real. And I loved them for that.

Nick Carraway is idealistic, Jordan Baker is marvelous and Gatsby is a dreamer. The film is full of people who would make fabulous dinner guests – they’re flawed and impulsive, but imagine the stories they could share! Daisy appears to have no opinion on anything, but at least she added to the beautiful scenery. As long as she’d agree to just sit there and bat her eyelashes, I’d let her partake in our dinner soiree.

I’d never read the book (I know, judge me as you see fit), but I think that doing things in excess is a good mantra to live by!

I’m all for simple recipes usually, but for two posts you’re going to have to allow me a bit of opulence. This sponge is easy AND it looks fabulous – what more could you want? It’s my nanna’s recipe, so it’s tried and tested. Unfortunately the sponge didn’t turn out as big as it should have because of my impatience – I like to think that it was slightly to do with the humidity in the air today though.
Cake

Don’t be disheartened by its flatness, when you do the recipe right, this cake IS old-school glamour.

Gatsby-inspired sponge

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 3tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp of lemon juice

 

Preheat oven to 180°C.Table view

Grease cake tin and sprinkle with sifted icing sugar.Eggs

Separate egg whites and put the yolks to one side. Beat the egg whites in an electric mixer until they’re stiff. Don’t get impatient like I did, this leads to flat sponges! It should take about 8 minutes at a high speed on your mixer. Persevere!

Add the yolks to the stiff whites mixture and continue beating until the mixture thickens.

Add your sugar and allow it to just combine then sift in the flour and baking powder. Squeeze in the lemon juice and mix it in gently – try to let as little air out of the mixture as possible.

Cream shadows

Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. What I would normally do with a sponge is cut it in half and then fill the middle with copious amounts of jam and cream. Being unable to cut my pancake of a sponge in half, I whipped up the cream, added 1/2 a cup of icing sugar to it and then folded some watered down jam into it to make icing.

 

So put your flapper dresses on, buy some fake diamonds and drink everything out of a champagne flute – Gatsby makes his own reality more fantastic through his imaginings, and so should we!

Host an afternoon tea and add a little sparkle to it.

partyIMG_3986

 

Bejewelled Orange Syrup Cake and Long Weekends

Juicer

Long weekends are the perfect mix of food, drink and good company in my house. A little too much merriment however, always leaves you sluggish on the last day. Today is that day.

After excesses of gossip, laughing and catching up, Monday morning is lazy, slower than your usual Monday.

To remedy this – administer copious amounts of vitamin C (and other delicious things) by enjoying a slice of this cake.