Angel food cupcakes and lightness

singleI had one of those weekends where everything seems to float on by. It was most enjoyable. I baked most of Saturday, had a long-awaited catch up with a good friend, and entertained on Sunday. By entertained I mostly mean that I force-fed my friends so that I didn’t eat all of Saturday’s baking efforts.

It was all fabulous, easy, lovely. After my jam-packed weekend in Melbourne, the lightness of it all was refreshing. There is no better segue into these cupcakes than this – they’re easy, fabulous and breezy. They’re also quite a show-stopper, with their brilliant white inner. They’re the kind of cupcake that looks like you’ve put in loads of effort, when actually you haven’t – I love those recipes!

Rosewater pistachio meringues and the Sweet Swap 2014

In the world of blogging, I’m a relative newbie. I hit my 200th post yesterday and was quietly thrilled at achieving such a milestone – but there are many people who have been blogging for years and have way more street cred than I do.

rosesBut the bloggers I’ve come across so far don’t even care! They’re a lovely, funny, clever, talented bunch and they welcome anyone into the fold. They’re top class human beings that I would never have had the chance to interact with if it weren’t for Baking with Gab.

Which is why I leapt at the chance to sign up to the Sweet Swap 2014! Not only do you get to create delicious little morsels and trade them with three people, the donations go to charity AND it opens you up to a whole new set of Australian bloggers.

There is not one thing that I dislike about these outcomes!!

I was assigned the 120 Dollars Food Challenge, A Cupcake or Two and Western Sydney Food Blog – three blogs who hadn’t yet come across on WordPress/Instagram/Facebook yet. I’m now stalking each of them a little bit, obviously!

unwrappedI packed up my fragile little meringues and shipped them off. I also included some little plastic pots of tea – because no Baking with Gab creation is truly complete without a good cuppa beside it. The tea that I included was a beautiful French earl grey from Neo.

peanut-finish

As per the rules of the swap, I was assigned three other bloggers – I received a gorgeous little raw vegan chocolate coconut squares from On the Flavor Road, which were gobbled up in one day because it sat dangerously within reach of my work keyboard.

I got chocolate and peanut butter cookies from Jeroxie, which the post office man was reluctant to let go because he could smell the peanut butter!

My final parcel to arrive were the butterscotch brazil nuts from Tiffin – they arrived in one piece (unlike my meringues, sorry guys!) and were snaffled by co-workers very quickly!

photo (2)I can’t wait for next year’s Sweet Swap. I’m going to start planning from now, so that I know that whatever I post next year will arrive completely in one piece and will be packaged as gorgeously as possible!

And here is the recipe that I sent out to my sweet swappers. Rosewater and pistachio meringues, such a classic combination of flavours.  I also sent off one experimental meringue, a  citrus and earl grey meringue – but they’re still a work in progress!

Rosewater pistachio meringues:

  • 4 egg whitesclose
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp rosewater
  • 1 tsp pink food colouring
  • ¼ cup pistachios, chopped
  • 8 rosebuds, dried (optional)

 

Before you start any whipping, wipe down your whisk and bowl with half a lemon to remove residual fats. Fats flatten meringues, so this is a precautionary little step. Wipe any leftover lemon juice out with a paper towel.
Whip your sugar and egg whites together. Start on a lower speed (I went for 3 on my stand mixer) and speed it up a notch at a time (up to about 8) over the course of a minute; I find that this method gets the most air into the meringues.

While the egg whites whip up, preheat your oven to 140°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.

 

Keep whipping until the mixture is thick and glossy, then add in your rosewater. It should take a further 3-5 minutes after adding the rosewater. When you’re done, the your mixture to hold soft peaks.

Using a tablespoon, plop great big lumps of meringue mixture onto your lined baking trays. You can sculpt them slightly if you like, or you can just leave them as is. They’re beautifully imperfect either way.

Pour your food colouring into the lid of the food colouring bottle and dip the end of a teaspoon into it. Delve the teaspoon straight into the middle of the meringue and swirl it gently outwards to create a beautiful seam in your meringue blob. Repeat with each meringue.

Sprinkle your uncooked meringues with the chopped pistachios. Be generous with them! If you’re including rose petals, pluck them from the stem now and scatter them over the tops.

Turn your oven down to 120°C and pop the meringues straight in.

Bake for 50-60 minutes – you’ll know they’re done when they’re dry to touch. You should be able to lightly tap on the outside and have it make a satisfying little hollow sound.

Transfer to a cooling rack and devour once cool. You can leave them overnight in the oven with the door open to dry them out further.

Easter pavlova and holiday spirit

aboveThere is something about holidays that brings out the best in people. Last week I came home from a busy day at my new job to find a beautiful gift wrapped in brown paper from a beautiful friend. Buying Easter eggs for this pavlova, I had a laugh with a woman and her children about which eggs were the most delicious. Setting up the photo shoot for the cake, I was heaped with praise and kind words from friends and family who were visiting.

There is something that changes as holidays approach. People in traffic seem nicer, strangers smile more readily, grumpy neighbours laugh more easily. I just adore holidays.

Gluten free chocolate lasagne and layers

NormanThis weather is all about layers. The torrential rain means that you need about 12 waterproof layers to stay dry. The cold snap means you need several layers underneath your waterproof layers to stay warm. It is a well-documented fact that Norman (and most sausage dogs), regardless of the weather, love being in the middle of a few comfy layers.

So it was only natural that my food would begin to mimic these layers. It is with great delight that I present to you: chocolate lasagne.