Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cherry Clafoutis

I adore cherries. As a little girl, I used to hang double stalked cherries off my ears to look like earrings. Cherries also meant Christmas when we were kids (imported cherries were unheard of, so fresh cherries were only available in the summer). Cherry printed fabric and cherry motifs in jewellery still appeal to me today. And who can resist the juicy, sweet taste of fresh cherries? I also have to confess that I love the Cherry Ripe, an Australian chocolate bar originally produced by MacRobertson which, despite its name, doesn't actually contain any real cherries, and which many non-Australians loathe. (For the uninitiated, it is glace cherries and pink-dyed coconut in Old Gold chocolate.)

Recently, cherries imported from the US were on sale for $10 a kilo. That is ultra cheap for cherries here, which even in summer retail at around $16 a kilo. I bought nearly a whole kilo and ate half of them, and saved the other half to make something. The biggest issue I faced was - what to make?

In the end, I settled on this
cherry clafoutis recipe that I found at Steph's A Whisk and a Spoon. It appealed to me because it only contains basic ingredients and seemed simple enough to make, even without a blender. I've never tasted clafoutis before, but I'd certainly make it again. If you make this, I urge you to use the booze in the recipe - I used Kirsch, and it sets off the cherries in the finished dessert beautifully.

My clafoutis has all the cherries to one side because my pan didn't sit comfortably on the baking sheet, and the cherries slid towards the downwards-tilting side of the pan. Regardless, it was delicious, especially with a small scoop of vanilla icecream on top served while still warm.

If you have any cherries to use up, I highly recommend this recipe - it is quick to make and delicious. Also, all the fat comes from the eggs (I used skim milk, so no fat there either), which in my books makes it a lot less "sinful" than many other desserts. Go on - give it a go!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Daring Bakers - Swiss Swirl Icecream Cake

I am typing this at the airport while waiting for my flight home, having spent the weekend with my interstate-based family. A visit home is especially poignant at the moment, as both my mother and the family dog have in the last three months had operations to deal with the same dreaded disease. Mum is also enduring some ongoing treatment, which has knocked her about a fair bit in recent weeks, so it was lovely to see her and touch her in person. The dog is behaving as though nothing ever happened, despite the large gash on his back sewn up with stitches that make him look like a Tatty Teddy. He is lively and frisky, and doesn't seem at all bothered by his recent operation. His stitches come out tomorrow.

Because I had heavy commitments with the writing project I have mentioned previously, and I knew that I was having a weekend totally away from it all, I was ultra-organised with Daring Bakers this month, and got it done early on. However, it came at a price, Ugarte - I was so engrossed in the final assembly that I didn't notice that the washing machine drain pipe had managed to work its way out with vibration, and by the time I noticed, I had a stream flowing in my carpeted living room. Needless to say, this was not cheap to fix, and as it happened on a Saturday morning, I was lucky indeed to get hold of a carpet technician who was able to squeeze me in and sop up (or suck up!) the water. The offending hose pipe has now been taped into place with PVC tape, as this is an exercise that I do not want to repeat.

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

Sunita gave us some leeway with this challenge, in that provided we made each component (swiss roll, roll filling, two icecreams and an icecream sauce) from scratch, we did not have to use the recipes she provided.

I decided, in a rare departure, to make everything using my own recipes. I made a vanilla swiss roll from The Margaret Fulton Cookbook, a raspberry cream cheese filling, David Lebovitz's vanilla bean icecream and raspberry (in my case, mixed berry) icecream, and a mixed berry sauce inspired by Steve Manfredi.

Here is my vanilla swiss roll spread with the raspberry cream cheese filling:

Here is a far more flattering perspective after it has been rolled up, showing the pretty pink filling:

Margaret Fulton's recipe, which makes one swiss roll, is as follows:

1/2 cup self raising flour
pinch of salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon hot water
extra sugar for dredging

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius. Spray a 30cm x 25cm swiss roll pan with cooking oil, and line with baking paper.

Sprinkle a flattened out tea towel with sugar ready for turning out the baked cake.

Sift the flour and salt together. In a separate heat-proof bowl standing over a saucepan of gently simmering water, whisk the eggs and sugar together until thick and creamy.

Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whisk the mixture until cool. Fold in the flour, then the hot water. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread out evenly.

Bake the swiss roll for 7-10 minutes, until pale golden and springy.

Turn the cake out immediately onto the sugared tea towel, peel off the paper lining (carefully - the cake is fragile!), and cut off the crisp edges of the cake with a knife. Roll the hot cake up in the sugared tea towel, from one short end towards the other, and allow the cake to cool in the tea towel.

Once the cake is cool, unroll it and spread it with the raspberry cream cheese filling. The filling is comprised of 65g cream cheese, 1/4 cup icing sugar, and 2 tablespoons raspberry jam, blended together until smooth.

Stage two in the assembly process is to line a mould with glad wrap and slices of swiss roll, then freeze it for at least an hour:

Here is my vanilla bean icecream being churned - the recipe is here (I only made half):

This is my favourite icecream ever - it is delicious!!! When this icecream is softened, it is spread in a layer over the cake before freezing again:

Next, I made a mixed berry sauce from this recipe, and mixed berry icecream using this David Lebovitz recipe:

Doesn't this sauce look great!

A layer of sauce is spread over the vanilla icecream layer, then the dessert is frozen for an hour or so before the rest of the cavity is filled with softened berry icecream:

I also closed off my bombe with more slices of swiss roll.

After freezing for around 4 hours, the completed bombe is turned out:

The next photograph clearly shows all layers - and how delicious this is:

Thanks to Sunita for hosting us this month. You can check out the original recipe at her site, and check out all the wonderful variations on the bombe at The Daring Bakers blogroll.

TWD - Chewy, Chunky Blondies

Don't you love it when you are surprised in a good way by a recipe? One of the best things about Tuesdays with Dorie is that I make all kinds of things that I would never in a million years choose to make for myself, for all kinds of reasons - I think I won't like it, the ingredients are expensive, the calorific content seems OTT, and "Dorie-can-you-really-be-serious ?" etc. But then I make these things, and I more often than not, I love them - I find new flavours that I like, find that the expense of the ingredients is well worth it, and hang the calories - and besides, I always share!

So it was this week. Our host, Nicole of
Cookies on Friday, chose Dorie's chewy, chunky blondies. These sound delicious, but the picture in the book didn't appeal to me. As a guy at work said to me when he first saw them, they looked like health food. When I went to make them, my oh my, I learned that these weren't health food, but I entered the "Dorie-can-you-really-be-serious?" phase, as they contain 1 cup each of coconut, chocolate bits and walnuts - how could those ever be incorporated into the mixture? But you know what - these work, and they are delicious! This is the case even when, like me, you only have a 9" round springform in which to bake them, and they take an hour and a half to bake because they are extra chunky.

I had two of these blondies, and unleashed the rest at work - and they were a massive hit! (Although in Australia, a "blondie" is a blonde-headed person, not a slice, so people looked at me strangely when I told them what they were.)

You can check out the recipe in Dorie's book, or visit Nicole's site. And if you want to linger some more over these delightful little beauties, visit the
TWD blogroll.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Masterchef over for another year

Masterchef Australia is over for another year, and I am very pleased with the result. Sorry to my NZ readers who found out the result via my previous post - I had no idea that it had just started screening over there. To those watching the series in Aotearoa, I hope you enjoy the series!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

TWD - Lots of Ways Banana Cake

It's the middle of winter here, and when I look at the often cold grey sky, peppered with wind and rain, I dream of summer - tall, cool drinks, sunshine and warmth. Alas, it has been forecast to be grey and rainy here for the rest of this week, so all I can do for now is continue to dream and look forward to the summer.

This week's Tuesday with Dorie challenge to some extent reminded me of the summer. Our host, Kimberley of Only Creative Opportunities, chose Dorie's Lots of Ways Banana Cake. Why "Lots of Ways"? Well, because Dorie gives you an open licence to substitute ingredients or leave things out. I played it straight down the line and made the recipe exactly as stated, because all of its summery ingredients sounded irresistible - coconut, coconut milk, bananas and rum. Doesn't that sound like some exotic cocktail that should be served in a martini glass with a paper umbrella and a slice of pineapple adorning the side? I even brushed the finished cake with rum syrup for some extra rum-flavoured goodness.

I ignored all of Dorie's frosting suggestions and instead, frosted the top of the cake with my trusty Stephanie Alexander recipe cream cheese frosting. To really send this cake into the realms of the tropical, I sprinkled chopped macadamia nuts on top.

So far, so good. Unfortunately, I have a confession to make - I don't like strongly banana-flavoured cakes. This cake contained four bananas (and was a blessing for using up the rather past-their-best bananas languishing in my fridge), so it was indeed very strongly banana flavoured. All that coconut and rum could not disguise this fact. However, that's just me - this cake looked beautiful, and I am taking it to work today to see how my colleagues take to it.

Thanks to Kimberley for hosting us this week. To check out all the variations on this cake, check out the TWD blogroll.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TWD - Brrrr-ownies

As a child, Mum used to give my brother and I some money to spend at the corner shop, and we would walk there with our father every Sunday morning. In those days, 50 cents went a long way (and I am not that old!), and many was the happy Sunday morning we would spend chowing down on our booty. Mixed lollies were a favourite of mine, and you used to be able to choose what you wanted without the shop assistant getting mad, even if you wanted 2 of every sort in the window. I also liked Jelly Tip and Teddy Bear ice blocks, Musk Lifesavers, Cherry Ripes, Caramello Koalas and Mint Patties. Mint Patties used to be made by Rowntree Hoadley, an Australian confectionery company that was subsequently bought out by Nestle.

This brings me to this week's
Tuesday with Dorie challenge, hosted by Karen of Welcome to Our Crazy Blessed Life. She chose Dorie's Brrrr-ownies - being brownies containing chopped up York mint patties. I have never laid eyes on a York mint pattie, but I assume that good old Aussie Mint Patties are the same - peppermint nougat covered in dark chocolate. It sounded pretty good to me!!

These brownies were easy to make - no mixer or fancy equipment was needed. They were also delicious - gooey when they are warm straight out of the oven, and fudgy and rich once set. I am not sure that the mint pattie pieces reminded me of ice, as Dorie suggested, but they sure tasted good.

I'd make these again if Mint Patties weren't so expensive - 99 cents each at Woolies, so I only used 4 (instead of the 8 I'd need to get anywhere near what the recipe suggested). Those days of the 20 cent chocolate bar at the corner shop seem a long way away ...

Thanks to Karen for hosting us this week. Visit her site for the recipe or buy Dorie's fab book. To drool over some more brrrr-ownies, visit the TWD blogroll.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TWD - Tart noire

Although I am officially living in my new place, I still haven't unpacked everything. I am working on a big writing project in my spare time (nope, not a cookbook I'm afraid), and the deadline is looming large, so I really can't afford any more time at present to make my house cosy.

When I saw this week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe was a tart, my heart sank. I like Dorie's pate sable (as opposed to the shortcrust), for which my food processor is ideal; and a pie plate is also a requirement. Unfortunately, I have unpacked neither, so I am not thrilled with the results of my labours this week. Our host is Dharmagirl of Bliss: Towards a Delicious Life, who chose Dorie's tarte noire - basically, a rich chocolate tart with a pie crust filled with chocolate, cream and butter.

Chocolate tart is delicious. However, it is not my thing as much as the sour cream chocolate cake, as its richness is a little too much for me.

I had issues with the crust because, to save time given the absence of my food processor, I wanted to use a store bought tart shell - and of course, I couldn't buy one. Instead, I bought the pastiest looking frozen shortcrust pastry you have ever seen, which baked up to resemble cardboard. Ewww! I also had to use a springform tin instead of a pie plate, which had challenges of its own. That is why you only get to see a slice this week - a slice of tart on its own looks OK, whereas the whole thing was less than photogenic.

Ignoring the pie crust, the filling of the tart tasted delicious - smooth and creamy and rich, although I only incorporated half the butter because that is all that mine seemed to want to take.

I took the tart to work, and it disappeared - if it had been truly dreadful, I imagine that there would have been leftovers. My trusty taster, Sandra, had no issues with the dreadful crust; however, it reminded me why I usually make my own tart shells.

This is a basic recipe that you could dress up with orange zest, raspberries or salted caramel; however, just plain is fine.

Thanks to our host, Dharmagirl, for this week's pick. She will have the recipe, or you can find it in Dorie's book. Check out the TWD blogroll to see what everyone else thought of this tart.