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...
Good grief. Ive been itching to post for a few weeks now but the mix of work, being ill and moving to this new blog has got me all in a whirl! So, im going to split my doings into two posts. This, being Easter.
A few years ago I was given the cutest set of easter cookie cutters and its taken me up until now to actually get off my butt and use them. So use them I did! To make easter egg sugar cookies.
Easter Egg Sugar Cookies (from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)
200g unsalted butter
280g caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
400g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy
2. Add the egg and mix well
3. Mix in flour and cream of tartar
4. Roll out the dough and cut into desired shape
5. Bake at 170 degrees celsius for around 10 mins. Be very careful though, my oven cooks them quite quickly so I take mine out after about 7 mins, as soon as they start to go golden around the edges. They burn VERY quickly.
Unfortunately for my tummy, my easter cooking didn’t end with biscuits. Delicious Magazine had a particularly tasty looking Easter Trifle. So off to the shops I went (hoppity hop) to get myself some super sweet ingredients. Now, I eat some seriously sweet things, but its been a VERY long time since I last made something this sweet.
One chocolate cake, tin of caramel, carton of custard, bottle of cream and pot of mascarpone later (not to mention several packets of easter eggs and chocolate shavings) and I had my ultimate easter confection. Of course, the addition of a tin of pears means that some of the unhealthyness of the dish is cancelled out… doesn’t it?
(I thought I would just note that I wasnt that impressed with the cake/brownie that this recipe had so rather than reproduce it here I would instead strongly advise you to make your favourite cake/brownie instead!)
410g tin of pears in natural juice
380g can of Caramel
300mL Thickened Cream
1 Packet of Chocolate Eggs
1. Cut up cake or brownie into small squares and place in a serving bowl
2. Place sliced pears over cake squares and add half the easter eggs
3. Combine caramel, mascarpone and custard and pour over cake and pears
4. Add the other half of the easter eggs
5. Top with whipped cream and grated chocolate
6. Chill for 2 hours minimum (This trifle is magnificent the next day, so if you can hold out for 24 hours, its worth it!)
Yesterday I graduated from my degree. Hooray! It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed it much more than the graduation ceremony for my undergrad degree. The speeches were short and sweet and I wasnt totally freezing beneath my gown (my last graduation was on a particularly cold April day) so, all in all, it was lovely!
So today, in honour of ending another chapter of my life, I thought I would try a recipe ive been itching to have a go at. The CWA Lime Cake. Given my love for all things citrus, im sure this isnt surprising. I had a few limes that were about to turn and half a packet of almond meal left over from christmas, so this recipe seemed to tie up a lot of loose ends. Until I realised that the almond meal was slightly mouldy and filled with bugs :S ugh! So, instead I tried substituting more flour for the 1/3 cup almond meal required, and added about another tablespoon of lime juice. There was no real rationale for the extra lime juice, other than the fact that I just really love lime!
An hour later and all I can say is yummo! The cake turned out deliciously light and moist with a slight limy syrup sinking to the bottom. I would have liked a tiny bit more limyness but the recipe gave such a nice hint of lime that this cake definitely had me going back for seconds. Very very easy to make, this recipe was a success! One other thing to add, a bonus with this cake is that it was inordinately easy to get out of the tin. often I have real trouble with cakes sticking to the sides and breaking when I try to get them out of the tin, but this cake literally fell out onto the cooling rack when I turned the tin upside down. Amazing!
Adapted from the recipe by Gwyneth Watkins in the Country Womens Association Cakes Cookbook
180g softened butter
1 cup sugar
zest of one lime
1 1/4 cups self raising flour
1/3 cup self raising flour (Im terrible at fractions and couldnt work out how to add the two)
3/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons lime juice
1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celcius
2. Cream butter and sugar
3. Beat in zest and eggs
4. Fold in sifted flour, sour cream and lime juice
5. pour into 18cm tin and bake for one hour
Now, im not prone to hyperbole, but todays tasks needed a suitably emotive title in order to keep me out of the doldrums brought on by my extreme joblessness. Teacher shortage? Where?
Today I decided to make butter and ricotta. While these are not sweets (strictly speaking), they are allowed a post of their own as they are integral ingredients in many of my favourite recipes. After seeing Fast Ed on Better Homes and Gardens make ricotta I was hooked!
So I high tailed it to the supermarket this morning to get myself the mandatory 2L full cream milk. And after a while on the stove and the introduction of 60ml white vinegar, my mix had separated nicely into Miss Muffets’ curds and whey.
It looks pretty horrible when its all separated, so after about ten minutes I strained it through a cheesecloth and a colander to finally get my finished ricotta! Hooray! The draining process is the most time consuming aspect of this recipe, however you can just suspend the cheesecloth over a bowl and let the whey drain out that way so that you can go away and leave it for an hour. After about an hour I had the beautiful ricotta you see below. Yum!
Well… ok so this doesnt look THAT appetising. You’ll just have to trust me that it is! Now that the ricotta is finished and stored away in the fridge, dreaming of the cakes and pies and sweets that it will be made into, we will move on to the butter.
There is possibly no greater ingredient than butter. In my opinion, anyone who refuses to use butter in their cooking is doomed to live a flavourless life. So when I found THIS recipe thanks to the lovely girls in this thread, I knew I had to try it. And what better time to try making fresh butter than during The Great Dairy Challenge?
This recipe for butter is most definitely the easiest recipe I have ever tried. I used one 600ml pot of thickened cream (just the no frills variety) and whacked it straight into the food processor. After about five minutes it had reached butter consistency! Again, it was time to Hooray!
While I am a massive fan of salted butter, this unsalted spread has totally won me over. Theres something about the delicacy of this lighter than light butter that makes me think it will give the midas touch to anything it is added to. Heres hoping! It too is now in a tub in the fridge, next to my ricotta, dreaming of what gorgeous sweet it is to be made into. Or maybe it will just end up spread on a crusty piece of bread. Mmmmmmmmmmm!
And here ends The Great Dairy Challenge. Although I think it may have preceeded The Great Whey Challenge, otherwise known as What-On-Earth-Can-I-Do-With-This-Left-Over-Whey? Any ideas?
The Search for the Perfect Sponge
I love a rainy day. I love the smell, I love the temperature, I love how the garden looks greener and I love that I can have my oven on all day and not feel like im about to evaporate. So today, when the temperature dropped and the rain set in, I decided to continue my quest to make the perfect sponge cake.
Now, im going in blind here as I cant really remember the last time I ate an amazing sponge cake, or any sponge cake at all. But after purchasing the Country Women’s Association Cakes Cookbook from a pretty little shop in Milton on the weekend, I felt it was my civic duty to attempt their sponge cake recipes. Notoriously difficult to perfect, its a recipe ive shied away from for many years. However, with four different sponge cake recipes supplied in this cookbook from seasoned bakers all around the country, I felt I was under good instruction. Thus began my quest for the perfect sponge.
Attempts #1 and #2 were marred by sinking centers and much too crunchy crusts.
Today marked Attempt #3.
Operation: Beat Eggs and Sugar Much Longer
I was impressed by how much this cake rose after significantly increasing the beating time of the eggs and sugar. However, im still not convinced that this is the best it can be. The cake still comes out with a crusty edge and its a little too dry for my liking. The only super amazing thing about this creation was… no surprise… Stephanie Alexander’s Lemon Curd.
Amazing. Even though it didnt thicken enough to allow me to put a substantial amount inside the cake… the taste more than makes up for that. Just amazing. The Lemon Cupcakes below should take heed.
However, I feel the necessity for Attempt #4 any suggestions for the Perfect Sponge?