Parmesan entertainers (biscuits)

in bowlMy love for parmesan borders on the obsessive. I don’t mean that weird dry yellow powder that comes in a shaker bottle; I mean realparmesan cheese.

If it were up to me, spag bol would be 1 part spaghetti, 1 part bolognaise and 3 parts parmesan cheese.

It’s tangy and mature and just delicious.

In my world there is no such thing as too much parmesan. Pasta, salads, fruit, sandwiches – you name it, I’ve parmesaned it.

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!

Smarties cupcakes and nostalgia

This evening’s post was prompted by a request. And I’m so happy that I made them! I’m a solo worker; I choose my own recipes and prefer to make them in a kitchen with as few people around as possible. I love company, just not when I’m bustling about in my own world in the kitchen. My baking is for sharing, always, but the process is a personal one.

So when it was suggested that I make Smarties cupcakes I wondered whether I should acquiesce or not. I hadn’t had a Smarties cupcake since my childhood.

And therein lies their brilliance.

The colouring of Smarties may be less intense than it used to be, but their flavour is still the same. Complemented by a soft vanilla buttercream and chocolatey cupcake, these concoctions just work.

They taste of childhood and nostalgia. I half wished I’d made up lolly bags to go along with these cupcakes, it felt wrong to serve such festive cupcakes without a lolly bag for people to take home!

tiny teddiesSome teddy bears joined me for the photo shoot because it had been a while since they’d been played with. They enjoyed the trip back to childhood and what appeared to be a child’s birthday party.

Cook them for their colour, their easy charm and the memories they’ll bring back for you.

Just make sure you buy extra Smarties.

teddy bear picnicChocolate cupcakes

  • 1 ½ cups self raising flour
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 100g butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla

Vanilla butter cream

  • 1 ½ cups icing sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 3 tpsb milk

Preheat your oven to 190°C. Grease your muffin tins, or use cardboard cupcake cases like me if you’re feeling lazy.

Cream your butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add your eggs and vanilla, mixing them well.

cookFold in the cocoa and half of the flour flour, adding your milk when it gets too hard to mix. Fold in the next half of the flour and make sure everything is combined.

Scrape the sides of the bowl down regularly so that the cocoa reaches every part of the mixture, nobody likes streaky cupcakes!

Fill your cupcake cases or muffin tins about 3/4 full and try some of the mixture, it’s delish!

Norman

Pop them on a baking tray (or not, if you’re using a muffin tin) and bake for 16 minutes or until you can insert a skewer into the cupcake and it comes out cleanly.

smartiesWhile the cupcakes cool, beat the butter until it’s pale and soft. Add the icing sugar and milk and mix until it is smooth. Wait until the cupcakes are completely cook to ice them, you don’t want the icing sliding off.


Toss a handful of Smarties over the cupcakes and feed the waiting children (or sentimental adults.) The Smarties packet had a chef on it – I appreciated the appropriateness of the character on the box!spotty cupcake

bunting

These little gems are perfect for a child’s party – no child is going to turn down a smarties covered cupcake! Add some bunting for decoration if you’re feeling especially fun – mine was made by stringing coloured triangles in between a skewer cut into halves. A little bunting makes a big difference to presentation!

pink cupcake

 

* I doubled this recipe to make a cake – results are here.

Lemon Raspberry Meringue Pie and Craziness

Today’s post is going to start at the end. I had made Lemon Raspberry Meringue Pies and they were a little bit crazy. The recipe worked perfectly and cooked without a hitch, but I got the feeling that the beautiful bright colours were a little unusual for the humble lemon meringue pie.

doneI took a sample down to my neighbour. She’s lived one house away from me for my entire life and always played a bit of a cameo role in my life. I used to play with her grandchildren, see her at church and bump into her on my morning walks. Since I started Baking With Gab I have had so much excess food that I take her some every now and then.

Walking through her dining room I was struck by how beautiful her tea set was. Six cups, plates and saucers were out on the table, each with its own character and story. She explained that she’d been given them all individually and it was known as a ‘crazy tea set.’ Being born in 1989, I had never heard this phrase before, but I’m now completely in love with the idea of it. She told me a little history about each and I marvelled at how beautifully they worked as a set.

My lemon raspberry meringue pie is crazy in its own way. I piped the meringues onto each one differently – they all match, but they’ve got their own little bit of flair. This was done intentionally because:

  1. I don’t have the patience to agonise over perfect meringues and
  2. I’m not really that skilled a piper.

This whole thing takes about an hour, provided you time everything right. It could easily take you about half an hour if you cheat and use lemon curd from a jar and frozen puff pastry. I wouldn’t even tell anyone you cheated! I would usually cheat as well, but I had to use up excess lemons from my nan’s tree and surplus eggs that I had in the fridge. This is perfect for using up lemons and eggs!

Crazy Lemon Raspberry Meringue Pie:

pastry cutShortcrust pastry:

  • 150g butter
  • 1 ¾ cups plain flour
  • ¼ cup icing sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cold water


Lemon curd:

  • 3 lemons
  • 1 cup sugar*
  • 100g butter
  • 3 eggs + one egg yolkcurd*you can cut this back to ½ a cup if you want it to be super tart!

Raspberry meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 200g frozen raspberries

breadcrumbsDice up the butter and put it in a bowl with the flour and sugar. Grab a butter knife and cut through the butter to mix the flour and sugar into it (I use this method because my hands don’t get as dirty.) When the butter is in small pieces and covered in flour, use your fingertips to rub the mixture together until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add in your egg and teaspoon of water so that the breadcrumbs combine to make a pastry. Try not to knead, but gently squash it into a ball. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and pop it in the fridge for about 20 minutes while you make the lemon curd.

lemonsZest and juice your lemons. Or juice then zest them – whatever works for you. Put the lemon juice, zest, sugar and butter into a pan over a medium heat. Stir the mixture until the butter is melted. Whisk the eggs and egg yolk together, then add it slowly to the lemony mixture. Turn the heat up to high and allow it bubble quite fiercely. Whisk it for about five minutes (making sure it doesn’t burn) until it starts to thicken. You can also use your whisk to fish out any chunky bits of lemon that may have snuck through when you juiced the lemons. Take off the heat and transfer into a cool bowl so it can cool.Curd making

Grease two 12 cup muffin moulds and preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Take the dough out of the fridge and spread flour over a clean surface. Spread your rolling pin with flour too to stop the dough from sticking to it. Roll your dough out very thinly and use a cutter that is bigger than your muffin cups. Press the circles of pastry into your greased tins. Prick each circle at least three times and then pop them into the oven for ten minutes.

prickYou’ll have one egg white left over from making pastry, use this and two extra egg whites for the meringue while the cases cook.
Whip up your egg whites with half a cup of sugar and the lemon juice. In a separate bowl, pour one cup of sugar over your raspberries and mix to combine them. Set them to one side so that they make a raspberry-sugary mush. Once the meringue
whipforms stiff peaks, add the final half cup of sugar to the mixture. Mash the raspberry and sugar together so it’s smooth  and spoon it gradually into the meringue mixture.

pipe

Take the muffin cases out of oven and let them cool for five minutes. Spoon two tablespoons of lemon curd into each pastry case and pop them back into the oven for ten minutes. When they come out of the oven set them to one side and turn the oven up to 240 degrees. Pipe or spoon the raspberry meringue onto the lemon curd (be generous!) and then put them in the middle tray of the oven with the door open for 10-15 minutes.

bunchedAllow them to cool before serving. Sprinkle them with icing sugar and serve with raspberries on top!

*I doubled the lemon curd recipe that I listed in this recipe to use up the ginormous lemons that had come from my nan’s tree, but also because it means I have some ready for the next time I want to make this! Home made lemon curd is worth the extra effort, it’s tart and zesty – far superior to even the best store-bought stuff. Plus there are no preservatives or sneaky additives, just sugar, butter, lemons and eggs!

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

Melting moments and surprises

I always thought that melting moments would be super tricky to make. It wasn’t until late last year that I came to realise just how easy they are. And I was pleasantly surprised! This recipe produces beautiful, soft little biscuits which (as the name suggests) melt away in your mouth.

Mid-way through making these alabaster beauties the front door-bell was rung quite fiercely. I broke away from rolling the dough IMG_4799and answered the door, doughy-handed. I’ll cut out the boring bits (like polite chatter with the mailman and the unwrapping) and tell you that in the big box that arrived with the mailman came my very own KitchenAid mixer. For whatever reason, the Boy took it upon himself to surprise me with it! I’m amazingly grateful… and super keen to use it!!

Norman partook in the celebrations by attempting to eat the little packaging puffs. Then he spat them out, then tried to eat them
again. He ended up in the box full of them and made himself quite comfy!

I won’t gush any further, but it will hopefully feature in upcoming blogs. It’s so beautiful I could die!

I’m hoping it will also improve the quality of my baking (especially meringues, which are the bane of my life!)

Biscuits:

plate

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/3 cup cornflour

Filling:

  • 60g butter, softened
  • 1 passionfruit
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups icing sugar

MixPreheat oven to 160°C and line a large tray with baking paper. If your baking paper is disobedient, dab a few spots of butter in the corners of the tray and use that to keep the baking paper down.

Cream butter, vanilla and icing sugar together until smooth and creamy – it should change in colour
slightly. Sift the flours into the butter mixture and mix until you get a soft dough. When you scoop a spoonful out of the mixture it should look like ice cream – solid, but soft at the same time.

Measure out heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture and roll them into small balls, lining them up on the baking paper as you go. Don’t worry if the balls aren’t perfect, they’ll smooth out even further when they’re in the oven. icecream

press 1When you have a tray full of soft doughy spheres, grab a fork and use it to lightly flatten them, pressing a pattern into them as you go. To avoid messing up the pattern or the smooth dough, pull the fork out towards you after you’ve pressed them down.
icingBake for 15 minutes and make the passionfruit filling while they’re in the oven. Beat the butter and icing sugar together, then mix in the passionfruit pulp. Take the biscuits out of the oven and transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool. Even if they don’t look done after 15 minutes, they are – you don’t want them to brown like you generally would a biscuit, these biccies are beautiful and pale. Once the biscuits are cool spread a teaspoon of passionfruit filling onto one biscuit and sandwich it with a second.

You can substitute the passionfruit for any other fruit of your choosing. Experiment – let me know what filling you use!

You should get about 28 individual biscuits, which will make 14 melting moments. You might want to double this recipe though, they don’t last long! passionfruit