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Today is Saturday, April 19, 2014
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Carrot Cake


Apr07

Most people would be a bit upset at the prospect of spending their entire birthday at home alone. I certainly wasn't feeling too excited about it on Tuesday morning, I took myself off for a run and then decided to have a nice healthy salad for lunch. Don't worry this craziness didn't last for long! By 2PM I decided that I deserved a birthday cake even if I was going to make it myself, as you can see I also decided I deserved a glass of wine, or two! So here is my birthday cake, I love carrot cake and this is by far one of the best recipes I've tried. Your turn!

  • 2 cups (300g) self-raising flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (225g) plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups (440g) caster sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrot
  • 100g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups (310ml) vegetable oil
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 300g sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 500g cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/3 cups (500g) icing sugar

 

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 25cm round cake pan with baking paper.

  2. Sift flours, soda and spices into a large bowl. Add caster sugar, grated carrot and walnuts and stir to combine.

  3. In a separate bowl, whisk oil, eggs, sour cream and vanilla until smooth.

  4. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour into pan, smoothing top with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.

  5. For icing, beat cream cheese using electric beaters until smooth. Add vanilla and beat well. Gradually add icing sugar, beating until smooth and creamy.

  6. Split cooled cake into 2 layers. Spread bottom layer with half the icing. Add top, then spread with remaining icing.

 

 


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Hot Cross Buns


Apr02

It's Easter and what else do you eat for breakfast on Easter Sunday (apart from way too much chocolate of course!) but Hot Cross Buns!  One of my favorite times of the year to spend in the kitchen. I'm always on a mission to make the perfect Hot Cross Bun. Even if you just want to create an easter atmosphere - these babies will surround your home with the smell of easter. This recipe was derived from one given on a New Zealand news website, so far - no complaints!

I made 13 buns but they were huge! Should make up to 20.

1 cup milk

1/2 cup hot water

2 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp dried yeast

2 cups flour

100g butter (softened)

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp mixed spice

1 tsp grated nutmeg

2 Tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup mixed fruit

2-3 cups flour

Paste for the crosses

1/2 cup flour

2 Tbsp oil

1/2 cup water

Glaze

2 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp water

Place the milk, hot water and 2 Tbsp sugar in a large bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Check that this mixture is lukewarm, this is important for the yeast to develop. You can adjust the liquid by placing the bowl in either a sink of cold water if it is too hot or a sink of warm water if it is too cold.

Sprinkle the yeast into the liquid and let it stand for 3 minutes, then stir to break up any lumps.

Add 2 cups of flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth. This might take a few minutes. You should see bubbles coming out of the mixture 0 this proves that the yeast is growing.

Stand this mixture in the sun on the bench or in a sink of warm water or in the hot water cupboard to rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour - this took no time at all in the Sydney sun - if you live in a cooler climate don't rush this step.

In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until it is pale and creamy in colour.

Add the egg, salt, mixed spice, nutmeg and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Mix in the dried fruit.

When the yeast mixture has doubled in size, add it to the creamed mixture with another 2-3 cups of flour.

Mix well using a wooden spoon or a dough hook on your cake mixer. The mixture should be a soft ball that can be kneaded. Add extra flour if the mixture is still sloppy.

If you do not have a dough hook, knead the dough by hand. This is an important step that will contribute the the lightness of your dough. To knead by hand, lightly sprinkle flour on a clean bench and place the ball of dough in the middle of the flour. Flatten the ball with your hand, then with your fingers pull the edges of the ball into the middle and press it down lightly. You should be able to get into a rhythm when you knead the dough in this way and it takes about 10 minutes to complete this. If you're unsure how to knead properly there are plenty of You Tube tutorials!

When the dough is smooth and shiny, you have kneaded it enough. Be careful not to mix too much extra flour in during the process.

Press the ball of dough into a rectangle 25cm by 30cm and 2cm thick.

Cut the dough into 20 squares (less depending how large you would like your buns) and roll each into a ball shape.

Place on a greased oven tray or slice tin. Space them 1-2 cm apart to allow for rising and spreading. Cover lightly with a tea towel.

Leave them in a warm place to rise until they are double in volume. Takes about 1 3/4 hours (1 hour over hot water.

Make the paste for the crosses by mixing the oil and flour into a smooth paste. Add extra water if needed. It should be smooth and just thick enough to squeeze through a nozzle or a 1/2 cm hole cut in the corner of a plastic bag.

When the buns have doubled in size, use a very sharp knife or clean box cutter to lightly mark a cross on each bun, then pipe a cross using the paste.

Bake the buns at 180[Celsius] fanbake for 10-15 minutes or until they are lightly browned.

To glaze the buns, dissolve the sugar in the water then brush the glaze over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven.


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Banana Bread


Mar31

Since moving to Australia I have discovered one of the main things that sets Aussies apart from Kiwis when it comes to culinary preferences - BANANA BREAD! It's everywhere and so very addictive. I've come to the conclusion that the reason banana bread is so popular in Australia and almost non-existent in New Zealand is due to the rate that bananas ripen and become inedible yet suitable for baking in Australia. Just a theory. So of course I had to find a perfect recipe to make at home. I'm not sure if this is perfect but if  it isn't I'd love for you to share your recipes with me!

4 Ripe bananas, mashed

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup castor sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch of salt

 

Preheat your oven to 180 celsius. Combine mashed bananas and melted butter in a bowl. Add beaten eggs one at a time and vanilla essence. Mix well. Mix in sugar, baking soda and salt. Last of all mix in the flour. Pour the mixture into a greased loaf tin and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out of the loaf clean. So yummy at any time of the day.


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Belgium Biscuits


Mar29

There's almost nothing better to have with a hot chocolate than Belgium biscuits! These biscuits are a scrumptious classic adapted from the infallible Edmonds cookbook - a staple of every kiwi household!

 

125 grams butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cocoa

1 cup icing sugar
1/4 teaspoon raspberry or vanilla essence
Few drops of food colouring (red usually)
Water

Raspberry jam for the filling

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice and cocoa. Mix into the creamed mixture to make a firm dough. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface to 3mm thickness. Cut into equal rounds and place in a baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Once cold Ice half of the biscuits and spread the other half with jam. Place the iced biscuits on top of the jammed biscuits and there you have it, Belgium yumminess!


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Maple Praline Cheesecake


Mar27

I have been told time and time again that this is the best cheesecake ever - try it and let me know what you think xx

Recipe

100 g flaked almonds
¾ cup sugar
225 g plain sweet biscuits
100 g unsalted butter melted
250 g mascarpone cheese
250 g cream cheese at room temp
400 g can condensed milk
¼ cup maple syrup
1 ¼ cups cream
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

 

Preheat oven to 150 celcius (no fanbake), to make the praline spread the almonds on a foil lined, greased baking tray, put the sugar in a pan with 1/2 cup water and stir over a low heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and then simmer without stirring until a golden brown toffee forms. Pour over the almonds and then leave to cool until hard enough to break into pieces.

 

Lightly grease a 23cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper. Finely chop half of the praline with the biscuits in a food processor. Mix in the butter and mould the base mixture to the tin pressing at the sides. Bake for 15 minutes and then leave to cool.

 

To make the filling process the mascarpone and cream cheese together, add the condensed milk and maple syrup. Whip the cream until soft peaks form and the fold in to the cheese cake mixture. Pour the mixture into the tin and then lightly sprinkle with cinnamon. Swirl the cinnamon topping very gently with a skewer to make the cheesecake look pretty. Freeze the cake for 3-4 hours or until firm. This cheesecake is prone to melting so if you are bringing it to a dinner party make sure there is room in the freezer before you go. Enjoy xx


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Chocolate Brownie Cake (Gluten & Dairy free)


Mar26

Don't be put off by the lack of gluten and dairy! This is as rich, creamy, chocolatey and moorish as any other chocolate cake, pinky promise!

Recipe:

One block (250 grams) of dark chocolate (dairy free), melted 
1/2 cup cocoa 
6 eggs 
280 grams ground almonds 
1 1/2 cups sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
2/3 cup oil

Set the oven to 180 degrees celcius, fan bake. Prepare a 22cm cake tin. Mix all the ingredients in a food processor until the mixture is a smooth consistency. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 30-40 minutes. When cool dust with gluten free icing sugar. Done!


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Chocolate Hearts


Mar26

These cupcakes are simple to make and never fail to delight with their gooey chocolate hearts - Love them xx

 

Chocolate Hearts Recipe

Chocolate heart mixture

125 grams dark chocolate chopped
3/4 cup cream

Cupcake mixture:

125 grams butter ¼ cup milk
½ cup caster sugar 1 quantity butter icing
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs, beaten
1 ¼ cups self-raising flour, sifted

Butter Icing

100 grams butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
few drops vanilla essence
1-2 tablespoons milk

Preheat your oven to 200 celcius and prepare 12 muffin cups with cupcake cases
Place the chocolate and cream in a microwave proof jug and microwave for 1 minute on high, stir well and leave to cool until firm.
In a bowl beat the butter, sugar and vanilla essence together until light and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

Fold in the sifted flour alternatively with the milk. Divide half of the mixture evenly among the cupcake cases, place one heaped teaspoon of the chocolate mixture into the half filled cases and then top each case with the remaining of the cupcake mixture

Bake for 10-12 minutes until well risen and golden.

Once cool ice with chocolate butter icing x


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