Giant vanilla cake and gratitude

sceneA little bit of gratitude goes a long way. I deal with lots of people through Baking with Gab, and I love that it puts me in contact with amazing, creative, kind people. Like Bianca from Communicake It, or Meredith from DeeDub Designs, or the lovely duo from TTotaler.

I strive to be positive and pleasant in all of the dealings with people who come into contact with the blog (and even those who don’t!) It’s just good practice.

Mini mango cupcakes and Summer flavours

Mango is Summer to me. It is impossible to imagine one without the other. When I was at school I always knew that the holidays were close when mango prices had fallen enough for us to buy a box of them. To this day, the thrill of buying a box full of mangoes brings me a ridiculous amount of joy.

image2Which is why long road trips up (or down) the NSW coast also bring me great joy – there are countless roadside fruit vendors! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen my mango haul.

We bought them about four hours into our trip, and the sweet, syrupy smell filled our warm car, becoming increasingly enticing over the remaining two hours.

Mini mushroom tarts and lady beetles

A lady beetle was the highlight of my morning.

I opened a bag of baby spinach to put in a breakfast smoothie and she was there. I stared at her for a second, because it’s not what you expect of baby spinach. When you buy unwashed greens you sometimes encounter slugs or a teensy snail, or something equally squeamish…but mainly they’ve just got a little soil clinging to a few leaves.

She was so still and curled up that I assumed she was dead. I contemplated how long this gorgeous little beetle had been alive before she landed on the wrong leaf and was packaged up, shipped and refrigerated.

Pear bread and Pinterest

My hunt for pear recipes was inspired by this cuteness, which I found on Pinterest. He is now my lock screen on my phone – he just makes me smile.

pinterest pear

pearMy lock screen did not go unnoticed by The Boy. Despite thinking I was crazy, the boy left me my own little smiley pear. Said smiley pear is now sitting in a display cupboard, I can’t bring myself to eat him.

This recipe was made with his friends though, I’m not sure how to break it to him…

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!

 

 

 

Gatsby style honey tea cakes

Part deux of my Gatsby-inspired decadence was kind of given away in my last post. If you saw the tea party pictures, you probably spotted the little tea cakes. I’d made these once before and figured they were perfect for the Gatsby theme. They’re simple and sweet but the look luscious! I prefer them iced (because of the shine it gives to them!), but they’re just as delicious with a smidgen of sifted icing sugar on them.

If you do choose to ice them, they end up looking like gorgeous little ice-cream cones. If you’re a fence sitter like me ice one half and icing sugar the other!

Honey Tea Cake:tea 2

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½  teaspoon bicarb
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 180g butter
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp water

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease muffin tins. I used silicon molds and cardboard cases, so I didn’t need to grease mine (which is a little bit great!)

Sift the flour and bicarb soda together in a big bowl and then add the sugar. In a second, smaller bowl, mix together the eggs, cream and vanilla.

mix

Soften your butter and add it to the dry mixture, mixing vigorously until no lumps remain. This may tak

cases

e a little while, be vigilant. (Honestly, there were still a few lumps left in my mixture when I put them in the oven, and they seemed to disappear – this is a very well-behaved mixture.)

Add the egg mixture into the big bowl and mix until just combined.
honey

Put your honey and water into a microwave-safe container and blitz it for about 30 seconds to soften the honey. Take it out of the microwave and mix it so it becomes syrupy. Add syrup to your batter.

Divide the batter between your muffin tins (or in my case silicon molds AND cardboard cases), you should fill them up about ¾ of the way to the top. Pop them in the oven and sit around for 18-20 minutes while they cook.

The mixture is lovely in that the cake tops rise into beautiful balloon-like forms. Once you’ve removed them from the oven you have two options –

  1. Let them cool while you start on the icing
  2. Sprinkle them with icing sugar and eat them right then and there.

icedicing sugar

For the icing sugar, mix one cup of icing sugar with 4-5 tablespoons of milk. The mixture should be quite thick, but still smooth. When you mix the icing it should slowly smooth itself back down evenly into the bowl. Divide the batter into three and add a different drop of colouring to each mixture. Ice as you please (be generous though!)

You should get 24 tea cakes from this mixure.

teacakestea cake

The difference between polenta and semolina

There’s no recipe to post today, just a little guide to baking with semolina/polenta. In my last post I made a cake with semolina in it.

I found out the hard way that polenta and semolina are not always interchangeable when I made a lemon semolina cake about three months ago. I Googled “can you substitute semolina with polenta?”

“Yes” was the resounding answer.

My cake said otherwise.

While they essentially perform the same role in a cake, the outcome of my baking with polenta was a grittier, denser texture than I was looking for.

Semolina
This is polenta, the fiend that ruined my cake!

Semolina is wheat, polenta is corn. ‘Polenta’ may also refer to the grain or the dish that results from using polenta.

There are occasions where you can substitute one for the other, but not all the time. They both have their benefits:

  • Semolina is high in protein and fibre and low GI, so it’s good for you! Semolina is a good option for people who need to monitor their glucose levels, like diabetics or dieters.  It is also a good source of vitamins E and B, which help your immune system.
  • Polenta is made up of complex carbohydrates high in dietary fibre, which means that they are a better source of energy than simple carbs. Polenta is also high in zinc, and iron.

When buying polenta or semolina, go for the most finely ground version you can find (unless the recipe specifies otherwise.) Generally cakes will call for semolina or polenta without indicating how coarse/fine the ingredient should be – if in doubt, opt for the finer alternative

My Lemon semolina cake (in which I used polenta instead of semolina) turned out even worse because my polenta was quite coarse – a similar size to couscous – and made my cake crumbly. And a little hard on the teeth.

I still Instagrammed it, because I’m lame. (http://instagram.com/p/Y7iBbAg76M/)

My advice? Tweak recipes where you need to, but if you’re really unsure, save your time by popping down to the shops and picking up the right ingredients!

Lemonade scones and sharing

tea for two

I’m enjoying putting my thoughts down as much as sharing my recipes! For me, food is best when shared. I have a large extended family, so food has always been a social occasion.

I cook for those I love. The Boy often jokes that I’m trying to give him diabetes with all my baking. I like to think that I bake cakes of appreciation or puddings of love. He just thinks I’m fattening him up.

Regardless of what you make, the act of producing something for someone is special. It’s really rewarding as well!

One of my favourite (and simplest) things to share with people is scones. I have made and shared more scones than any other food. They’re just delightful. And always appropriate – stressed out? Scones will help. Should be doing an assessment? Scones will distract. Sick pet? Scones will calm. New friendship? Scones will seal the deal.

Lemonade scones:
Scone

  • 2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup thick cream
  • 1/2 cup lemonade
  • 2 tbs milk (for brushing)

Preheat the oven to 220°C and lightly grease a baking tray.

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the cream and lemonade. Mix to form a soft dough.

Pre mix

Using floured hands, transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead gently. Press the dough to a thickness of 2-3cm…nobody likes a flat scone, be generous!

Use a scone cutter to cut out as many scones as possible. If, like me, you’ve misplaced your scone cutter, flour the edges of a thin-rimmed glass to cut out your scones instead. Re-knead scraps gently and repeat.

Raw scones

You should get six generous scones.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.Brush the tops with small amount of milk to help them brown then transfer to your baking tray.

While the scones bake, whip up some cream and find your jam. I’ve chosen blueberry jam, you can never go wrong with blueberries.
These scones are so easy, you can whip them up in under ten minutes and serve them piping hot within half an hour.spoons for two

Share with whoever you choose – enjoy!


Add a handful of choc-chips, sultanas, blueberries or some lemon zest to change the dynamics of your scones.

The Ultimate Crowd-Pleasing Sticky Date

After a good many months contemplating this blog, I’ve finally started. It’s been so long coming that I’m slightly worried it won’t live up to the blog I’ve got going in my head.

IMG_3401

Insecurities aside, I’ll start here.

I’m a 23 year old, third year literature student. I’m a keen baker, tea connoisseur, dachshund lover. Who knew I could be summed up in so few words? It’s probably better, people aren’t going to read this to find out about me, they want recipes!

And recipes I shall provide…hopefully.