I’m attempting to make healthier food choices to balance out my baking. How is it going, you ask?
Day one: the earth conspired against me and my delicious berry smoothie to ensure that I didn’t get the clean start I was looking for. And there’s that box of chocolate that Nestle sent me, just sitting there, packed to the brim with tempting goodies.
Is anyone else getting super excited about Easter? I am. I walk through supermarket aisles and have to physically restrain myself from buying Easter eggs.
I used to be one of those people who hated how early seasonal foods came in – “Halloween sweets out in August?!” or “Christmas stock out in October?!” – I used to be shocked at how quickly in-store merchandising would roll over. I would refrain from buying my holiday-related products until a week or so before the actual event.
Now I kind of like it, because Baking with Gab means that I have to start recipe planning before everyone else is thinking about the next holiday/event.
The weekend just gone was fantastic. I ate too much, window-shopped and caught up on some reading, but most of all I enjoyed being in the country. I spent every Easter until I was about 15 at my cousins’ farm in Orange, so it has a special allure for me. There is so little going on there that you can see the Milky Way at night and you can’t see any neighbours! People are friendlier, the air is cleaner and I swear the sky is bluer there.
The farm has always just been “the Farm” to me. As though it was the only one in existence, like no other farms could live up to the one that my cousins owned. It is expansive and beautiful in its own rugged way. It was greener than I’ve seen it in the past, which was good for the cows and my photo shoot! Said cows took a keen interest in the picnic photo shoot.
I used my brownie recipe posted previously (which is an adaptation of a Donna Hay brownie and a Gordon Ramsay brownie), I just baked it in jars and topped it with strawberries and Milky Way infused cream. I’m still perfecting the consistency of the Milky Way cream, I’ll post that recipe up soon.
My mother darling’s fantastic new bag featured in this shoot. She bought it without knowing that I had planned a picnic-themed photo shoot! She hadn’t used it once and she still let me take it away for the weekend. And I bought super cute picnic spoons – feel free to admire them!
There was also Bentley. The photos don’t do his character justice. He came to live on the farm after Snag, guardian sausage dog of the farm died. Bentley is a tiny sausage of energy, affection and adventure. He wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to get a good photo!
There was a cow traffic jam which made me laugh. I was like the ultimate tourist as we drove through it. It reminded me how country life moves at a different pace. We took our time getting past them, willing them to not run in front of the car and ruin our planned trip to find delicious food.
I baked a few things, but mostly enjoyed food made by local cafes and restaurants or by my relatives. We visited the Old Mill Café, which was fantastic (both the conversation and the food) and bought some locally-sourced products from A Slice of Orange, which I’ll use in the blog in the coming weeks.
I made brownies yesterday in preparation for going away tonight. I’m doubling the recipe and leaving half with the fam and taking half away. The Boy and I are spending a few days in Orange. I’ve got cousins to visit, fresh produce to check out and cafes to explore. There is also a sausage dog pup that I want to steal from said cousins. The Boy doesn’t really have a choice in what we do, luckily he’s fairly compliant when it comes to these things! He’ll busy himself being a country boy for the weekend. He spent the first 20 years of his life in England, but something about leaving Sydney and heading for dirt roads unleashes his inner country boy. When we visit my cousins’ farm he wears plaid and an akubra and busies himself with fencing, quad-biking and burning things.
I read, bake and attempt to coax the farm dogs into leaving the country and returning to the city with me. I’m never successful. Sometimes I feel as though The Boy also needs coaxing back home.
I made this brownie recipe because it just screams homeliness and I think it suits the farm vibe perfectly. It’s cosy and simple. And just delightful.
Just as the farm is escapism from Sydney life, this brownie is escapism from the real world. Put away your diets for a minute, lay down the celery and indulge in a square of escapism.
200g dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups (310g) brown sugar
2/3 cup (35g) cocoa powder, sifted
1 cups (185g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat your oven to 160°C and line a 20cm baking tin. Roughly chop your chocolate and butter and place them in a saucepan over low heat and stir until smooth and glossy. Put this to one side to cool slightly.
Combine the sugar, cocoa, flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add in the eggs and mix as thoroughly as you can, it will be hard to mix because the mixture is so dry. Add the chocolate mixture and combine. Pour the mixture into your baking tin.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean. For me, a perfect brownie should be squidgy in the centre, so I don’t want a completely clean skewer. If the skewer pulls out a whole chunk of mixture, pop it back into the oven, but if there is just a little bit of chocolate on the skewer, I’d say it’s done.
Allow the brownie to cool slightly in the tin before slicing. It will sink. It just will. There is nothing wrong with that – the sides and top will have puffed up more than the rest of the mixture and the centre will be deliciously moist. It’s dense, chocolatey and decadent.
Sprinkle with icing sugar and whip up some cream to serve.