Chocolate cardamom biscuits and a hiatus

I’ve been away for a little while. The Boy and I moved into a new place, which meant uprooting ourselves and our little pupper.

This meant that our already anxious little Daisy turned into a giant nervous wreck. Norman, the most regal dog I have ever met, is remaining at my parent’s place. He’s old and forgetful, so it wasn’t fair to take him with us.

Norman

And this meant that Miss Daisy had to spend long periods of time by herself.

Just. Look. At. This. Face.

White chocolate cupcakes and the best white icing

For those of you who missed it, I went to Hawaii recently. Having never been to the States before, I was in awe of most things food-related! I had heard about giant portions and ridiculous amounts of sugar, but the food over there still stunned me. I’m not complaining, but  I think I’m still processing the excessive amounts of sugar that I consumed.

White chocolate cupcakes (11 of 13)

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!

Peanut butter nana ice cream and getting things done

I had some issues with editing these photos. I lost the card that they were stored on, then the files were corrupted, then they didn’t want to save the edits that I made to them. In short, they just weren’t cooperating. So I did what any good adult would do, I put them in the too hard basket.

PB nana ice cream edit round 2 (1 of 7)
Because sometimes we need to just have a good cry and try to forget about things until we muster the strength to actually get things finished. My little tantrum surrounding these photos was prolonged – every time I tried to re-edit them, there would be another issue. So I kept finding other more important things to do (subtext: things that were far, far easier) and these photos kept getting bumped down the list.
And here I am, two months later, mustering the strength to get this post up. The photos are edited and I want to frame them because they’re such an achievement in my books.
PB nana ice cream edit round 2 (5 of 7)
It’s so ironic, because the recipe could not be simpler. You freeze, you blend, then you freeze again.
It’s actually a recipe that I use quite frequently – it’s delicious and quick and much better for you than ice cream. A variation of this is sitting in my fridge right now, actually.
Whatever you’re going through right now, or tasks is sitting in that too hard basket, I hope you’re building up the strength to overcome the mental roadblocks so that you can get things done!
I believe in you.
PB nana ice cream edit round 2 (7 of 7)

Peanut butter nana ice cream

Makes 6
  • 550g banana, chopped (about 5 medium bananas)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp crunch peanut butter
  • Ice cream moulds (mine are from Sunny Life Australia)
Chop up your bananas into coins and pop them into the freezer in a tupperware container for about 2 hours. I freeze all of my overripe bananas now because they’re perfect for this recipe.
Bananas close up peanut butter nana ice cream

Whip them out of the fridge and blend them up wth the milk and peanut butter for 2-5 minutes until smooth, then pour into your ice cream moulds. Gently insert the stalk/base and make sure they’re all secure.

PB nana icecream (5 of 5)
Place the moulds in the freezer for at least two hours, then serve and devour immediately.
Tip: when filling your icecream mould, don fill it all the way to the top – leave a tiny gap so that when you put the base in, the mixture doesn’t splurt everywhere.
PB nana ice cream edit round 2 (2 of 7)
My friends at Appliance Kitchen gave me the this blender to play around with, and I have to say, it exceeded my expectations! In the past I’ve had issues with blenders where only the bottom 2cm of my food gets blended, but I didn’t have the same issue with this baby! It’s a George Forman blender, and it’s on sale (at the time of writing) here. I also used it for my mango custard in this Summery eton mess. 
Also, I can definitely vouch for the the fact that these babies will bring all the dogs to your yard. It was a very hot, humid day when I did the shoot for these ice-cool treats (side note: the steaminess getting kind of old, Sydney!) and all three dogs were super intrigued. None of them were at their most photogenic unfortunately, I’d blame the heat!
PB nana ice cream edit round 2 (6 of 7)

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

Cranberry walnut muffins and breakfast

spoonI never say no to a cooked breakfast. Actually, if you take a look at my instagram, if you take away the pictures of dogs and cake, it’s pretty much just poached eggs and muesli. I seriously cannot get enough of avocado on toast. Pancakes? Hngg. Porridge on a chilly morning is possibly one of the best things in the world. Fresh baked bread, cut thick, with peanut butter on top. OM NOM NOM NOM.

This post is quickly degenerating into me just listing foods.

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.

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!

Catch ups and simple orange biscuits

aboveI’ve been a bad blogger. I haven’t updated the blog in over a week! I have an excuse, I promise. I’ve been trying to organise a super-cute giveaway for the blog (keep your eyes peeled in the next few blog posts), I’ve been working like a crazy lady, and I was in Melbourne over the weekend. I do have a biscuit recipe to share with you though – that’s go to count for something, right?

So here is what I’ve neglected to tell you: