What can I say? I love sweets, in all shapes and sizes! You only live once, so why not indulge once in a while? Or, in my case, most of the time...
So its definitely onesie weather! When its this cold you absolutely need a warm dessert to round off a meal and let your body know its time to wind down to go to bed. And who knows how to make a quick, warm, comforting dessert better than anyone? Nigella does. After a dinner of roasted veggies, I thought i’d try the Chocolate Pear Pudding from the Nigella Express cookbook. Partly because I love the chocolate/pear combination, mostly because I wanted something super quick and easy! (And also I think the little pear halves look really cute laid out on the bottom of the pan!)
Look! Pear bums!
True to the book it came from, this recipe is truly a scrumptious dessert made the express way. I was worried that the cake batter was too thick to produce a moist cake but, trust in Nigella, for only she can show you the true way to amazing desserts. (Don’t worry, I haven’t lost faith in The Saint, but Nigella really is the queen of the quickie dessert.)
Baby its cold outside! And since my family don’t believe in heating, im going to make it my personal mission this winter to bake my house warm. First stop, Peaches and Cream Cupcakes. I first tried these little babies a few years ago when my mum bought me the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook for my birthday. They were so tasty and easy that I figured it would be very grinchy of me not to share them with you!
Beware, this is one cupcake you need to eat with a spoon. Unless you want to drop peaches everywhere. But if thats how you roll… who am I to judge?
So my lovelies, what is your favourite flavour of cupcake? And what flavour frosting do you normally put on them? I always love to hear from you!
Peaches and Cream Cupcakes –From the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
40g unsalted butter
120ml full cream milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
400g tinned peaches (I buy the ones that are cut into segments, then I cut them in half down the middle again)
1. Beat the flour, sugar, baking power and butter until the mixture has a sandy consistency
2. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until it is just incorporated
3. Whisk the egg, vanilla and remaining milk together in a separate bowl then pour it into the flour mixture. Beat until the mixture is sooth
4. Divide the sliced peaches between the patty pans (I like to put enough pieces in so that the bottom is completely lined)
5. Fill the patty pans until two thirds full
6. Bake on 170 degrees celsius for 20 or 25 minutes, until the tops are golden
Ingredients – For Vanilla Frosting
250g icing sugar
80g unsalted buter
25ml full cream milk
a few drops of vanilla extract
1. Beat the icing sugar and butter together until the mixture comes together
2. Mix in the milk and vanilla extract (sometimes I put the milk in in step 1 if the mixture seems too dry)
3. Turn your mixer up to high speed and beat for about 5 minutes or until the frosting is light and fluffy
4. Ice those puppies!
Now Donna, I never thought I would say this but while I will always love you with your fail safe and amazing desserts, you have been outdone. I have discovered The Saint. And of course, I am referring to that paragon of amazing English cooking, Saint Delia. The story goes a little something like this.
My good friend Helen the Melon lent me several books and magazines a few weeks ago to help me with my quest to cook a terrific pudding (and yes, the magazines were Donna Hay, she still has a place in my heart!) Among the collection were the Delia’s How To Cook books One Two and Three. No matter how much I learn about cooking I always feel that theres still so much I dont know. So I was delighted to see that Delia’s books were a comprehensive guide to the absolute basics of cookery. Perfect for beginners, Book One’s opening chapter is “All About Eggs.” Hooray! I love eggs!
So I dutifully set about reading and testing, testing and eating, eating and, well, more eating. Until I reached a certain recipe that had me salivating like Pavlov’s Dog. That recipe was Warm Lemon Curd Souffles. My love of lemons has been well documented in this blog and its not often that I can return from the supermarket without one or two lemons. They just look so damn tasty at the moment! But despite this enduring love of citrus, I was apprehensive, for I had NEVER tried to make a souffle before and their reputation for being fickle and deflating had far preceded them.
With the help of Saint Delia, I rallied and attempted these amazing desserts. I followed all the instructions to the letter, popped them in the oven and crossed my fingers and my toes. I suspect my sister may have also had her fingers crossed. Maybe it was all that crossing, but when I took them out they were BLISSFULLY risen and utterly delicious! Beautifully puffed souffle on top, gorgeous creamy layer of Lemon Curd on the bottom, what more could you ask for? Except for more please!! If you try no other souffle recipe in your lifetime, you must try this one.
P.s. I did have some difficulty with my grated lemon zest being quite chunky, can anyone recommend a fine grater that is good for zesting?
Warm Lemon Curd Souffles – From Delia’s How To Cook Book One
Ingredients – For The Lemon Curd
The grated zest and juice of one small lemon
1 large egg
40g caster sugar
25g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 tsp cornflour
Method – For Lemon Curd
1. Lightly whisk the eggs in a small/medium saucepan
2. Add the rest of the ingredients (only the lemon curd ingredients!) and place the saucepan over a medium heat
3. Whisk the mixture continuously using a balloon whisk until it thickens (about 3 mins)
4. Lower the heat to its minimum setting and let the curd simmer for 1 more minute, whisking all the time
5. Remove from heat and divide the curd between the bases of four ramekins (Delia says to use ramekins with a base diameter of 6cm and a top diameter of 7.5cm. I just used ones that I thought would work!)
Ingredients – For the Souffles
3 large eggs
Grated zest and juice of one medium lemon (should be about 2 tablespoons of juice)
50g caster sugar (Delia specifies Golden Caster sugar, but I couldn’t find any and normal seemed to do the trick)
1 dessert spoon of caster sugar
Method – For the Souffles
1. Separate the eggs putting the yolks into a medium sized bowl and the whites into a larger bowl
2. Whisk the whites until they reach the stiff peak stage (about 4-5 mins depending on what whisking method you use)
3. Add the dessert spoon of sugar and whisk for 30 seconds more
4. Add the zest and lemon juice and the rest of the sugar to the yolks and whisk briefly
5. Take a tablespoon of the whites and fold into the yolks mixture
6. Gently folk in the rest of the whites being very careful not to knock the air out of the mixture
7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramekins, piling it high like a pyramid. Run your finger around the inside rim of each ramekin (this will help prevent any of the mixture leaking out around the sides)
8. Place the ramekins on a baking tray and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 15 mins on 170 degrees celsius (I only baked them for about 8 minutes, use your judgement and when they are nice and golden on top, take them out)
9. Let them rest for about 5 mins before serving to allow the curd to cool a bit
10. EAT EAT EAT!
Guilt. Is there any better reason for a cupcake baking spree? For the past few weeks ive been having this constant niggling feeling that im supposed to be somewhere that im currently not. The other night that feeling was particularly strong and, as I got a phone call from my friend while I was sitting at home in my onesie (yes, I said onesie) the penny dropped. We had dinner plans. As I answered the incoming call, I braced myself for the inevitable “Katie where are you? Im at the restaurant!” What I heard was actually “Hey, just checking that we’re still on for dinner tomorrow.” Thank. God. I just have to say here that I love my friends, they put up with so much from me!
Cue onslaught of guilt about how awful a friend I am. Guilt that only a sugar fix could cure.
Truth be told I didnt really need an excuse to bake these. I had been wanting to try a new cupcake recipe for a while and, for want of a new recipe I thought i’d try to revamp an old one! Donna Hay, the fate of my cupcaking rests on your shoulders.
I cracked out the amazing Donna Hay Chocolate Buttermilk Layer Cake recipe and substituted the cocoa for flour. The cupcakes ended up with the same luscious moistness as the chocolate cake and they tasted pretty damn good to boot! The only problem was that they looked a little bit grey inside. Not the lovely yellow or cream that vanilla cupcakes usually have. Hmm. Any suggestions? Please comment, i’d love to hear!
p.s. the rosewater icing was so yummy! Like turkish delight…
p.p.s. arent the spoons cute?! Easter present from my boyfriend <3
Buttermilk Cupcake – Adapted from Donna Hay’s Chocolate Buttermilk Layer Cake
1 cup (250ml) water
2 1/3 cups (300g) plain flour
1 tsp bi-carb soda
2 cups (440g) caster sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Melt butter and water together
2. Place flour, bi-carb and sugar in a bowl, and whisk in the butter mixture
3. Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla and mix until smooth
4. Divide the mixture between patty pans and bake for 30ish minutes (keep your eye on these, your oven might be faster or slower than mine!)
2 cups (300g) icing sugar
1 tsp rosewater
1 tbsp milk
pink food colouring
1. Chuck everything into a bowl and mix! Add more milk if the icing is too dry and more icing sugar if its too wet. What could be simpler?
For those of you who are not from Australia, ANZAC Day (25th April) is a day where we commemorate the landing of Australian soldiers on the coast of Gallipoli in World War One. We remember those who have died serving our country throughout our nations short history, and those who survived. My grandpa was proud of his contribution to WW2, serving in Papua New Guinea and when he grew too frail to march, he always watched the parade on TV. This was my first ANZAC Day without him and I wanted to cook something to mark the day and to remember him.
ANZAC cookies are very popular around this time of year as they are the cookies that people at home sent off to the soldiers during WW1 and they play an important part in commemorating this day. I love ANZAC cookies, but I felt I needed to jazz them up. After all, my grandpa had flair and a style all of his own. He was no plain cookie. When I found this recipe for ANZAC Tart with Macadamia Praline and Cinnamon Syrup I knew I was onto a winner! Good looking, tasty, and unashamedly Australian.
That is one good looking dessert!
After making the base and tasting the filling, I felt it was too sweet to require the Cinnamon Syrup so I left that part out. I also only added about half the honey listed in the recipe, partly because it was all I had, but mostly because my mum doesn’t really like honey and I wanted her to be able to eat it! The little honey I did put in really pervaded the filling so I think the full amount would have been really overwhelming. But after a night in the freezer and several attempts at the Macadamia nut Praline my tart was ready and it sure tasted mighty fine! I would definitely make these again, and they got the double thumbs up from both my mum and my sister.
And here is one of the mini tarts!
ANZAC Tart With Macadamia Nut Praline – Adapted from this taste.com recipe
250g ANZAC biscuits
100g butter (I think you could get away with putting 80g in if you are trying to cut down on butter)
1 x 395g can sweetened condensed milk
1 x 300ml thin cream
1. Process cookies into finely crushed crumbs in the food processer
2. blitz in the melted butter until well combined
3. press the cookie mixture into a 24cm tart tin with a removable base (I put them into four tiny tart tins and two medium sized ones)
4. Place tart tins in the freezer to set
5. beat the condensed milk, cream and honey together in a large bowl until the mix has doubled in volume
6. pour over bases and leave to set overnight in the freezer (They really need to go in the freezer rather than the fridge as the filling is more like icecream and wont set properly in the fridge)
Macadamia Nut Praline
80g (1/2 cup) roasted macadamia nuts (If you cant find roasted nuts, you can roast them yourself in a very low oven (about 110 degrees celsius) for about 15 mins or until golden)
155g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
60ml (1/4 cup) water
1. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over a low heat and cook, stirring for about 5 mins or until the sugar is dissolved
2. Increase the heat to medium and bring to the boil for 10 mins or until the mixture is a lovely golden colour. DO NOT STIR! (I had to wait for maybe 15 mins before my mix started to go golden so dont worry if it takes a while. Just be careful not to let it burn)
3. Pour sugar mix over macadamias on a baking tray lined with paper and leave to set
4. When the praline is hard, break it into shards and use to decorate your tart! Yummo!
The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.
I bought my first pudding basin last christmas because I had been charged with the task of making the Christmas Pudding. Now, I absolutely loathe the traditional fruit pudding so I figured that I would make it the only way I KNEW I would like it. With chocolate. Not traditional but very tasty!
I was very excited when I saw that my very first challenge with the Daring Bakers would allow me to use my pudding basin again. Ive never used suet, ive never steamed a dessert, in fact, im not really sure ive ever steamed anything. All ingredients and cooking methods I was new to. Bring it on!
I decided to make the Sussex Pond Pudding as I love lemons and the lemons are looking particularly lovely this season. The idea of steaming a pudding with a whole fruit inside it was also intriguing. I began by sourcing suet mix, which I found at my local supermarket in a box in the baking aisle.
I made the suet pastry according to the instructions on the box. very easy and straight forward.
Lined my pudding basin. (Yes I used kitchen scissors to trim the pastry!)
Added the cubed butter and demerera sugar
Look! A lemon!
Hid the lemon below lots more butter and sugar (possibly a little more than required by the recipe, but since when has extra butter and sugar been anything but good?)
Pop the lid on!
This part I thought would be very difficult, but it turned out pleating the foil and tying it with string was quite easy. My basin didn’t have a lip on it but the string never failed.
I made an impromptu trivet out of scrunched up aluminium foil and plunged by pudding into the boiling water!
My pud! After 3 and a half hours of steaming. To be honest, I would probably steam it for another couple of hour as its not as golden as I would like.
Another pud! Actually its the same one but de-basined. MMMmmmm….
You can see the lemon in the middle there! Oozing lemony sugary sauce….
Overall, it turned out ok. Some of the pudding was absolutely amazing. The pastry was flaky and tasty with some beautiful lemony sweet sauce. The only problem was that parts of the lemon turned out quite bitter and that tended to overpower the sweetness of the dish. I think that could be overcome by steaming the pud for a few more hours.
While I havent been able to post any more of my pudding attempts, this challenge has certainly inspired me to get creative in the kitchen. Expect more puds, savoury and sweet, large and small over the coming weeks! This was a great challenge that introduced me to many things i’d never think of trying on my own. Thanks Esther, for a truly inspiring challenge!!
So my lovelies, what puddings have you tried to make? Did they work? I think my next attempt is going to be this Very Chocolate Pudding. Just for something different…
Sussex Pond Pudding Recipe – As seen at The Daring Kitchen
1 box suet mix
120g Demerera Sugar
120g Unsalted Butter
1 Large Lemon (try to get unwaxed and thin skinned lemons)
1. Make the pastry according to the instructions on the box
2. Grease your pudding basin with butter and line it with the pastry
3. Cut the butter into small cubes and place half in the basin and cover with half the sugar
4. Wash and dry your lemon, and place it on top of the butter and sugar
5. Cover with the rest of the butter and sugar
6. Cut a disc out of the remaining pastry and cover the pudding filling, folding around the edges of the pastry in order to seal it well
7. Steam for 3.5 hours (I would probably try steaming it for another couple of hours next time)
MAKE SURE YOUR POT DOES NOT BOIL DRY!
8. When you invert your pudding basin to get your pudding out, make sure you do it in a rimmed dish as the sauce may leak out