Thursday, December 12, 2013
My friend Craig has a gluten and dairy free diet, so this made his Christmas box a little different to everyone else's. I made him amaretti from this recipe (which I obtained from my class with Pauline Leonard at Gewurzhaus), subbing gluten free flour for the small amount of plain flour.
Don't you think they look perfectly Christmassy with their red cherry hats?
Here is Craig's box, all filled with amaretti, assembled and labelled:
I found the boxes on eBay and they are very sweet. I think they are a present in themselves.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Today's Wednesday with Donna Hay recipe is American Style Beef Ribs, chosen by Sarah from Modern Classics Book I. The recipe is also posted online here.
For some reason, my ribs didn't go dark in colour, but I don't care - they tasted good anyway. What's not to like about pork ribs in a spicy tomato-ey, caramelly sauce.
To see what Sarah, Kayte, Margaret and Chaya thought, visit their websites.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Continuing on the great Christmas cookoff, today's treat is spiced nuts, made using this recipe from Taste.
Of course, you don't really need a recipe for spiced nuts, but I always worry that I will be too heavy handed with the spices if I don't follow one.
These nuts are just devine - I didn't have paprika so I used half a tablespoon of cayenne instead, and it was just perfect to me.
The spiced nuts are super easy to make and a great treat for parties or to put in Christmas treat boxes, which is what I did. If you like your nuts with a bit of kick but not too much, these are for you. Enjoy!
Monday, December 9, 2013
It's Christmas box time again, and I spent the weekend cooking in earnest. The works in progress are below:
This year, I desperately wanted to make Christmas bauble cakes (also known as temari cakes), because they look so gorgeous, and I have had the spherical mould for ages. I found a great video on Youtube by Joe Hargreaves on how to make them here.
However, do not be fooled - Joe makes this look like a breeze, when in reality, it is a nightmare - a very long nightmare. I made 14 of these cakes, and they are very time consuming, especially if you have other things to do as well.
The base cake recipe that I used was a madeira cake from Taste. Frustratingly, I couldn't find what cake recipe people were using in my research, but someone mentioned that using a dense cake is best and they suggested madeira cake. I was going to use the chocolate cake recipe that I made my Dalek cake from, but it didn't take well to the spherical moulds.
I used a half recipe of the Primrose Bakery vanilla buttercream to bind the cakes together:
I then coloured about 500g of ready to roll fondant light green, brushed the cakes with sieved warmed apricot jam, cut out circles of fondant and massaged them over the cakes. I finished up by decorating the cakes with royal icing piped on top, and sugar pearls (and silver cachous for the white cakes - I didn't quite have enough green fondant):
The first three that I made were not the greatest - two showed the join around the middle and I stretched the fondant too far on a third, so that the jam showed through a bit and the fondant had little stretch marks. I also found it difficult to avoid pleating around the base on all of them. And they seemed to take forever!!
However, in the end, I am happy enough with them - I can see all the faults, but when I look at the photos, they turned out pretty well.
There you go - if you are feeling creative and have quite a bit of time up your sleeve, you can try making Christmas bauble cakes this year. They look really good finished off with lustre, but I just don't have the time or inclination.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
It is my boss, Mark's, birthday today. As a birthday surprise, I made him chocolate cupcakes and brought them into work on Friday. The surprise was on me, as he wasn't there. Accordingly, they are still living in the fridge at work in the hope he is back on Monday.
I used the chocolate cupcake recipe for The Primrose Bakery's Cookies and Cream Cupcakes, and chocolate "fudge" icing from The Crabapple Bakery cook book. I then topped the cupcakes with chocolate rocks - they look pretty good, if I say so myself.
I then boxed them up like so:
Here's a peek inside (the recipe made 16 cakes and I only needed 12):
To make the cakes, you will need:
- 115g dark chocolate
- 85g unsalted butter
- 175g soft brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 185g plain flour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- pinch of salt
- 250ml milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Melt the chocolate and leave to cool slightly.
Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer until creamy. Separate the eggs (reserve the whites in a separate bowl), add the egg yolks to the butter and sugar, and beat well. Add the melted chocolate and beat to combine.
Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl and stir together.
Combine the milk and vanilla extract. Add the flour and milk alternately to the batter, beating well after each addition.
Whisk the reserved egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then fold the eggs whites into the batter until combined.
Spoon the mixture equally into the cupcake papers, and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes. Leave the cupcakes to cool in the tin for ~ 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
For the icing, you will need:
4 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
100 g softened butter
3/8 cup milk
1 tbs vanilla extract
Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter for 1-2 minutes, then add the milk, vanilla extract and half of the icing sugar mixture, and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat again until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Spoon icing into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe onto the cooled cupcakes. Top with chocolate rocks or whatever decoration you desire.
Friday, December 6, 2013
I made a half batch using almond meal (misinterpreting "finely cut almonds" for almond meal). Do not try this at home - the tuiles won't spread. When I turned up the oven to see if that would make them spread, it burned the bottoms of them. Into the trash they go!
On the next night, take two; that is when I read "finely chopped almonds" as "put almonds in a food processor and chop finely, but do not pulverise". I also skipped the resting in the fridge part for the dough, thinking that this may actually have stopped batch one from spreading.
Success, in that the tuiles spread and resembled what they should have this time. Followed by epic fail - the tuiles stuck to the egg lifter I used to get them off the trays, they fell off the rolling pin and tore, and those that did hang around never set - they were too soft and lost their shape immediately after leaving the rolling pin.
Don't get me wrong - these biscuits tasted good (what's not to like about nuts and butter) - but they just didn't do what they were supposed to for me. I subbed OJ for lemon juice as I didn't want to waste a whole orange for a few tablespoons of juice. However, they were too much of a pain in the behind for me, so never again.
To see if the other Doristas had better luck, visit the LYL section of the website.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
I made my Christmas Cake in September this year to give it some time to mature. The recipe that I chose is from the Australian Women's Weekly Christmas Food and Craft, dubbed "Celebration Fruit Cake". You can also find the recipe online here.
I liked the fact that there were no nuts in this fruit cake recipe, as the nuts tend to make the cake crumble when you cut it. I intend to ice the cake with marzipan and fondant and cut it into pieces as part of my annual Christmas gift boxes.
When I opened the cake up for the first time this week, it smelt very reassuringly boozy, so I hope that is a good sign. I haven't been "feeding" the cake as the recipe does not require it. I am also very happy with the colour - I like my fruit cake to be dark.
I also decided to ice my cake with marzipan and fondant, decorated with fondant stars and dusted with gold lustre dust:
I did an Italian Christmas baking course at Gewurzhaus last weekend, which has given me some other Christmas baking ideas. We made these two tone shortbread stars:
and mini panettone:
among other things.
Are you making food as gifts this year? And if so, what are your favourite food gifts to make?