29 December 2011

Festive Tidings...!

Oops... it's been quite a while...  what a busy year it has been! Hoping that it has been an exciting, happy and fruitful year for everyone!

Hope the holidays have brought you all that you wished for!!!

Baileys, Dark Cherry Chocolate Torte... anyone want the recipe...? :)

25 June 2011

Pretzel Mania...

If you have been to Westfields, I am sure you would have at some point been lured by the heavenly scent of the cinammon and sugar pretzels stall... they hand out samplers of fresh out of the oven soft hand rolled pretzels... so tasty... and before you know it, you are handing over money so that you can have your very own piping hot pretzel, all to yourself. Though the beauty of them is getting them fresh, hot out of the oven, they just aren't as good if you take them home... Though you can't really pop into Westfields on every pretzel whim...

The texture is so light and fluffy... though it would be bad to eat more than one.. wouldn't it... ? ;)
So next best thing.. make your own! I have tinkered with a recipe over the last couple of weekends, and this comes pretty close - enough to satisfy that craving.

A yummy balance of chew to fluffy softness, and a light crisp crust... Give it a go, it's so simple, you only need patience whilst the dough is left to rise, otherwise the whole process of actually kneading and cooking takes no more than 20 minutes tops!

Makes 12 large pretzels, or 15 palm sized 

4 cups plain flour
1 cup strong bread flour
2x 7g sachets of instant yeast
1/2 cup of sugar (granulated is fine)
1 1/2tsp salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 3/4 cup of warm water (slightly warmer than tepid)
1/8c Bicarbonate Soda dissolved with1 cup hot water

Stir together all the dry ingredients together with oil, then stir in warm water - start with around 1 1/2 cups and then add little by little until there is enough moisture to bring all the flour together to a slightly sticky dough... turn it out onto a clean surface, and start kneading the dough till smooth. This took me around 6mins. When ready,press your finger into the dough, the indent should bounce back.

LIghtly oil a large bowl (this should be at least twice the size of your ball of dough). Place your dough into the bowl, and roll it around to thinly coat with oil. Cover with cling film and let rise in a non drafty warm place to rise for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size. (I leave mine in a closed oven)

When the dough has doubled, preheat the oven to about 240 degrees C. Dissolve your bicarbonate of soda in the hot water. 

Turn out the douhg on a lightly floured clean surface, and divide into about 12 portions.  Roll out into a long rope- approx 20 inches, or thereabouts, twist it into your pretzel shape and then place on a baking try lined with baking parchment. When all the dough is shaped onto your tray, brush them generously with the bicarbonate glaze (this gives them their signature pretzel shine) and then bake for 8 minutes till browned. 

For cinammon sugar pretzels:
Melt approx 50g of butter, when the pretzels come out of the oven, brush them with the melted butter then dip the pretzels into a bowl of cinammon sugar to cover (cinammon mixed with caster sugar)

Poppy Seed:
Sprinkle poppy seeds over the glazed pretzels just before they go into the oven. You can also sprinkle them very sparingly with some good quality sea salt

29 April 2011

Glorious Cupcakes...

I have to admit, I have never really been a big cupcake fan. Never really thought I do them very well, just not the light bouncy sponges that I like. BUT ! I have a recipe that I now love... unlike the traditional victoria sponge recipe I use, with equal amounts of butter, sugar and flour, this uses a lower proportionate amount of butter, and uses milk instead and only 1 egg! Surely that must be healthier! The result is a moist light sponge, keeps pretty well too! 
Try for yourself:
120g caster sugar
40g butter (room temperature)
120g Self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
120ml milk
1tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

Preheat the oven at around 160 degrees, and line a muffin tin with large cupcake cases. 

Mix together sugar, butter, flour, salt together till it is well incorporated and sandy like... You can do this with a hand mixer on a low speed. Mix the milk with the vanilla extract, pour into the dry ingredients and mix till just blended, then crack in an egg, and mix in with a spatula till JUST incorporate. Do NOT overmix.  Divide into 12 cupcake cases and bake for about 17-22 minutes depending on your oven. Test after 17mins, cakes should be lightly browned and bounce back when pressed.  Cool and then add desired topping and decorations!

Topping suggestions:
Cream cheese frosting
Marscapone Vanilla Cream
Passionfruit cream topping

Coconut Cupcakes:
Substitute milk with coconut milk for a lush coconut cake cupcake, top with a coconut topping with toasted dessicated coconut...YUM!
Chocolate Cupcakes:

Take out about 20g of flour and substitute with cocoa powder
Walnut Coffee:
Take out 20g of flour and subsitute with roughly crushed walnuts, substitute the vanilla extract with about a tablespoon of coffee.  Top with frosting flavoured with coffee, or Tia Maria for a grownup kick and extra walnuts on top.

16 April 2011

Springtime baking for mums and dads...!

How long has it been since I updated... too long I have to admit... 

I have been keeping busy though, working through a few Birthday commissions, a tropically fruity Mango and passionfruit birthday cake for my friend's dad, with the trickiest (Chinese) birthday message to date!  Then i got a VERY last minute request for a birthday cake for a mum - only guidelines "she loves green"... Green??!?!? I am not keen on green cakes, apart from Pandan, green in cake isn't particulary appealing... though I cheated a bit and made two tone green-white chocolate surround for the strawberry gateau. :)