Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chocolate Caramel Slice

A moist, extremely sweet slice, with a soft filling and a firm chocolate layer on top. Very nice.
Ingredients: Base
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 brown sugar
4oz butter, melted
Ingredients: Filling
1/3 cup golden syrup (found at specialty stores here - I found it at cost plus world market)
4oz. butter, melted
2 x 400g cans sweetened condensed milk
Ingredients: Chocolate Topping
6 oz. dark chocolate
3 tsp. vegetable oil
Method: Base
1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Place the flour, coconut, sugar, and mutter in a bowl and mix.
3. Press the mixture into a square container that has been lined with parchment paper.
4. Bake for around 15-18 min (until browned).
Method: Caramel Filling
1. Place the golden syrup, butter and condensed milk in a saucepan over low heat and stir for 7 min, or until it has thickened slightly.
2. Pour over the cooked base.
3. Bake for 20min (check after 15), or until the caramel is golden.
4. Refrigerate until the slice is cold.
Method: Topping
1. Place the chocolate and oil in a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted.
2. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
3. Spread over the slice.
4. Refrigerate until firm.
5. Cut with a heated knife.
Taken from Donna Hay "Modern Classics book 2: Cookies, Biscuits + Slices, Small Cakes, Desserts, Hot Puddings, Pies + Tarts" pp. 16-17.

Baked Doughnuts

These were a light version of doughnuts - nowhere near as oily or fatty. They do no really taste like the usual doughnuts, but they are tasty all the same.


1 1/3 cups warm milk,

95 to 105 degrees (divided)

1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

2 tablespoons butter

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

5 cups all-purpose flour

A pinch or two of nutmeg,

freshly grated1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon


1. Place 1/3 cup of the warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in the yeast and sugar and set aside for five minutes or so to let it proof.

2. Stir the butter into the remaining cup of warm milk and add it to the yeast mixture. With a fork, stir in the eggs, flour, nutmeg, and salt - just until the flour is incorporated.

3. With the dough hook attachment of your mixer beat the dough for a few minutes at medium speed. Adjust the dough texture by adding flour a few tablespoons at a time or more milk. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and eventually become supple and smooth.

4. Turn it out onto a floured counter-top, knead a few times (the dough should be barely sticky), and shape into a ball.Transfer the dough to a buttered (or oiled) bowl, cover, put in a warm place, and let rise for an hour or until the dough has roughly doubled in size.

5. Punch down the dough and roll it out 1/2-inch thick on your floured countertop.

6. With a 2-3 inch cookie cutter, stamp out circles in the dough . Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet and stamp out the smaller inner circles using a smaller cutter. If you cut the inner holes out any earlier, they become distorted when you attempt to move them.

7. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for another 45 minutes.

8. Bake in a 375 degree oven until the bottoms are just golden, 8 to 10 minutes - start checking around 8.

9. While the doughnuts are baking, place the butter in a medium bowl. Place the sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl.

10. Remove the doughnuts from the oven and let cool for just a minute or two. Dip each one in the melted butter and a quick toss in the sugar bowl. Eat immediately.

Taken from the gorgeous blog of Tartelette http://tartelette.blogspot.com/

Saturday, October 27, 2007

White Chocolate Cake

This cake was a really nice cake and was very easy to make. A moist cake with a rich chocolate icing.

Ingredients: Cake
6oz butter, chopped
1 cup milk
1.5 cups sugar
5 oz white chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1.5tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs

Ingredients: Icing
150g chocolate (I used semi sweet, but I would try something more milky, maybe even a white chocolate or a milk chocolate)
1/2 cup whipping cream

Method: Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 325F.
2. Place the butter, milk, sugar, and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth.
3. Place the flour, baking powder, vanilla extract and eggs in a bowl.
4. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.
5. Pour into a well greased bundt pan, and bake on the middle rack until cooked when tested with a skewer (check after 30min, but it may need up to 50min).

Method: Icing
1. Place chopped chocolate and the cream together in a small saucepan over low heat.
2. Stir until choc is melted.
3. Take off heat and allow o cool for 10 min.
4. Pour over cake, tap to remove air bubble and then put in fridge to set.

Taken from Donna Hay's "Modern Classics Book 2: Cookies, Biscuits + Slices, Small Cakes, Cakes, Desserts, Hot Puddings, Pies + Tarts" pp72-3 & 92

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cecilia's Orange Cream Tarts

This is a reworking of the lemon cream tart, using orange instead.

Ingredients: Filling
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 oranges

Grated zest of 1 lemon
4 large eggs
3/4 cup freshly squeezed Valencia orange juice
3 Tbs. lemon juice
1.25 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 Tbs. cold water
2.75 sticks of butter, at room temp, cut into 1 Tbs pieces.

Ingredients: Tart Base(s)
1.25 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
Method: Tart Base
1. Preheat oven to 375F or 190C.
2. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter, and process until large moist crumbs form.
3. Transfer the dough to a round tart pan (9inch or 13cm in diameter or like I did in small tart pans).
4. With floured fingers press the dough into the pan.
5. Freeze until firm (around 15min, can also be left overnight)
6. Take out the freezer, and prick all over with a fork.
7. Cover with aluminum foil (butter the shiny side and place the buttered side down over the crust.
8. Bake for 25 min (or if making smaller tarts, bake for 15 min and then check).
9. Slowly remove foil, and gently press down any bubbles with the back of a spoon. Let cool down to room temp (keep in the tart pan).

Method: Filling
Have an instant read thermometer, a strainer and a blender at hand.
1.Bring a few inches of water to boil in a saucepan.
2. Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl (that will fit inside your saucepan of simmering water). Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, and very aromatic.
3. Whisk in the eggs, and then add the lemon juice and orange juice.
4. Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid.
5. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180F(around 82C) whisk the lemon cream the whole time.
6. Once it has reached 180F, remove it from the saucepan of simmering water and strain it into the blender. Throw away the lemon and orange zest.
7. Put the gelatin in a small bowl and add the cold water to it.
8. Microwave for 15seconds, and pour into the filling. Pulse the blender once to mix.
9. Wait until the temperature of the orange cream is 140F before turning the blender on.
10. Once it is 140F, turn on the blender, and proceed to feed the butter into the lemon cream 5 Tbs at a time. Make sure you periodically scrape down the sides of the blender.
11. Blend for 3 min. on the highest setting - this makes the cream lighter and airier.

12. Refrigerate for at least 4hours.

1. Remove the orange cream from fridge, and whisk briskly until smooth and mailable.
2. Pour into tart bases.
3. Cut fresh orange into thin slices and place on top of tartletts.
4. Serve
Taken from Dorie Greenspans book "Baking: From My Home to Yours" pp. 331-33.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


So, I'm going to be a horrid blogger for awhile. I'm back at school and probably won't have a heap of time to dedicate to baking. I'll still bake, but not at the frantic pace of the past few months.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Vanilla Slice

I love these. Back home we used to have a bakery down the street where I'd go to get this treat (or an apple cake mmm) maybe once every couple of weeks, unfortunately I haven't seen these delectables anywhere I've been in the States. They are easy to make, and really tasty to eat.

2 sheets of puff pastry, thawed and cut to fit a 9 X 9 inch baking tin
7.5 oz vanilla custard powder
3 cups milk
2.25 cups cream
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup salted butter (cut into pieces)

1. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Place the puff pastry sheets on the parchment, in a single layer. Place a second baking tray over the top.

2. Bake on 350F for around 25-30 min or until the sheets have puffed up, and golden.

3. While the sheets are baking, make the custard filling. In a bowl place the custard powder and sugar, and a small amount of milk and whisk until there are no lumps.

4. In a medium saucepan, put in the milk, the cream, and the custard mixture. Stir constantly until it thickens, and then add the butter.

5. Allow to cool.

6. Place the baked puff pastry on a cooling rack.

7. When both the pastry and the custard are fairly cool, place one of the puff pastry sheets on the bottom of the baking tin.

8. Pour over the thick custard mixture, and smooth with the back of a spoon.

9. Place the other puff pastry on top.

10. Put in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

11. Cut into slices, and serve with icing sugar sprinkled over the top.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

I messed up on this one because I overcooked the caramel. But I think this would have been a wonderful cake if I could have gotten the caramel right. So I'm going to post it anyway - because I'd make it again.

Ingredients: Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick of butter (cut into 8 pieces)
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbs. light corn syrup
1.2 tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients: Topping
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1.5 Tbs. light corn syrup
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs. unsalted butter. at room temp.
1 cup salted, roasted peanuts

Method: Cake
1. Center a rack in the oven, and preheat to 350F.
2. Grease a springform tin (I used a 9-inch), dust the inside with flour, and line the base with parchment paper.
3. Place the pan on a baking sheet.
4. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.
5. Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, put the butter and chocolate in a bowl and heat, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients are just melted.
6. Remove the bowl from the heat.
7. In a large bowl whisk the eggs and sugars together until well blended.
8. Whisk in the corn syrup, followed by the vanilla.
9. Whisk in the melted butter and chocolate.
10. Still using a whisk, add the flour mix. Combine until just incorporated.
11. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Jiggle the pan to get an even batter.
12. Bake the cake for 35-40 min, or until a thin knife inserted into the center almost comes out clean.
13. Let the cake cool for 15min on a rack.
14. Run a knife along the edges, and remove the sides of the pan. Once the cake is completely cool you can remove the base.

Method: Topping
1. Put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan., stir to just combine the ingredients.
2. Heat, without stirring, until the caramel turns a deep amber. 5-10min, depending on the size of the saucepan and the intensity of the heat.
3. Lower the heat a bit and standing back from the saucepan, add the cream and butter.
4. Stir to combine.
5. Stir in the peanuts, and place in a pouring jug.

Method: Assembly
1. Spoon the peanuts out of the hot syrup and put them on the cake.
2. Spoon over enough hot syrup to cover the nuts,
3. Allow topping to set at room temperature (20 or so min).

From Dorrie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home To Yours, pp. 264-5.

Black Forest Cake

This is a very special cake to me. My nana and opa would make this for special occasions, I loved the cream, and chocolate outside combined with the slightly sour cherries in the middle. This is a simple cake with only one layer. You easily can up the snobbery by adding more layers, you may have to make more of the cherry filling, or you can simply fill those layers with cream.

Ingredients: Sponge
3/4 cup cake flour
1/3 cup dutch-process cocoa
1/8 tsp. baking soda
5 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
3/4 cup + 2 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup warm (100-110F) clarified butter

Ingredients: Brandy Syrup
1/4 cup brandy
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

Ingredients: Cherry Filling
1 jar (24 fluid oz) of sour cherries (I use http://www.bende.com/ecommerce/shopdetails.cfm?p=88&cat=27)
2 Tbs. corn starch
1 Tbs. Brandy
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Ingredients: Cream and fixin's
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 tsp. sugar
Grated semi-sweet Chocolate (optional)
8 maraschino cherries (optional)

Method: Sponge
1. Preheat oven to 350F (put a rack on the lower 1/3 of the oven).
2. Generously grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
3. Sift the flour , cocoa, and baking soda together 4 times.
4. Place a bowl over slightly simmering water, put in the eggs (including the two yolks) and the sugar and mix to just combine - but do not whisk together.
5. Stir for 3-5 min until the colour darkens, the mixture is slightly runny, and the temperature of the eggs is between 110-120F.
6. Remove the bowl from the simmering water and place the egg mixture in a large bowl.
7. Using a whisk, whisk the eggs on high speed until they are cool. This should take between 4-5min. The mixture should be light, and thick (when you run a finger through the eggs, you should see a dent).
8. Reduce the mixer to med. and add the vanilla extract. Whip for 2-3 min more.
9. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
10. Using a rubber spatula, fold in 2-3 Tbs. worth of the flour mixture at a time (this should take around 10-12 folds for each addition).
11. Before the last addition of the flour, pour in the butter over the mixture, then immediately add the last batch of the flour mixture. Fold into the batter, using around 12-15 turns.
12. Place the batter in the prepared springform pan. Tap the pan on the bench a couple of times, and then place on a baking sheet. Finally place in the preheated oven.
13. Bake for between 30-40 min. The cake is done when it is springy to the touch, and has come away from the sides of the pan.
14. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Wait 10 min before removing the springform pan.
15. Allow to cool to room temp.
16. Cut in half (or thirds etc).

Method: Cherry Filling
1. Drain the cherries, and keep the drained juice.
2. In a saucepan, dissolve the cornstarch with a small amount of the juice (2-3Tbs.)
3. Add 3/4 cup of the reserved cherry juice, and stir till combined.
4. Place over med/low heat until the mixture thickens and reaches a slow boil.
5. Remove from heat, and add the brandy and lemon juice. Then gently add the cherries.
6. Set aside to cool.

Method: Brandy Syrup
1. Place all the ingredients in a pan, and slowly bring to a boil.

Method: Cream
1. Place the cream in a bowl.
2. whisk a little, then add the vanilla extract and sugar, and then whisk until quite thick.

Method: Assembly
1. Prick the base and top of the cake with a toothpick.
2. Using a pastry brush, brush the brandy syrup on both halves.
3. Using a piping bag filled with cream, pipe a circle of cream around the bottom half of the cake.
4. Place the cherry mixture in the center of the circle, and spread out to fill.
5. Place some cream on top of the cherries and spread out the cream with a butter knife.
6. Place the second half of the cake on top.
7. Spread the cream over the top of the cake, beginning with the top, and smoothing over the sides.
8. Estimate where you will slice the cake and make small cream 'hills' for the maraschino cherries to sit in.
9. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the grated chocolate, and put chocolate in your hands, and then place your hands on the sides of the cake to place chocolate on the sides of the cake.
10. Place the cherries in the little 'hills'.
11. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This cake keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake

This is a rich cheesecake with the slight taste of blueberries. I had some issues baking this one. The picture above is of the cake before it was baked, the one below is when it was baked. I baked it for around 3 hours - far, far over the 50-60min baking time. I'm sure there are better recipes out there for a cheesecake, but I would absolutely make the blueberry syrup again, as I think it's stunning!

Ingredients: Base
2.5 oz shortbread cookies
1/2 cup almond meal
1.5 oz melted butter

Ingredients: Blueberry syrup
7.5 oz fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup sugar

Ingredients: Filling
20 oz cream cheese, at room temp
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Method: Syrup
1. Process the blueberries in a food processor and press through a sieve (you should end up with 1/2 cup of puree).

2. Place the puree and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Rapidly simmer for 8 or so min, until it thickens.

3. Set aside to cool.

Method: Base
1. Process the cookies in a food processor until crushed.

2. Add the almond meal, and butter and process until combined.

3. Grease a 9 inch springform pan, and line the base with parchment paper.

4. Press the crumb mixture over the base and place in the fridge.

Method: Filling
1. Preheat the oven to 280F.

2. Process the cream cheese either with a paddle attachment or in a food processor until very smooth, make sure there are no lumps, and make sure that you use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and the bottom.

3. Add the sour cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla, and process till smooth.

Method: Assembly
1. Pour the filling over the base.

2. Drizzle the blueberry mixture over the top and swirl lightly with a butter knife.

3. Bake for 1 hour (or until set - not having made many cheesecakes before this was an ambigious remark- which confused me to no end. If it's wiggly - is it set? How solid does it have to be to be set?!)

4. Refridgerate and serve cold.

Taken from the sometimes good, but very pretty Donna Hay Modern Classics Book 2: Cookies, Biscuits + Slices, Small Cakes, Cakes, Desserts, Hot Puddings, Pies + Tarts, p. 86.

Beetroot Cake

This cake turned out to be a moist, dense and rather rich cake, especially served with the cream fraiche sauce.

Ingredients: Cake
1 lb. 2 oz raw beets (I used yellow beets)
2 thumb sized pieces of fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 large eggs, separated
5.5 fluid oz. honey
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 heaping tsp. baking powder
2/3 cup polenta
zest and orange juice of 1 orange
pinch of salt
pinch of ground allspice
pinch of cinnamon
1.25 cups of all-purpose flour

Ingredients: Topping (optional)
7 oz creme fraiche
1 wineglass of vin santo, Marsala or sherry
2 heaped Tbs. sugar

Method: Cake
1. Boil the beets until soft, and then drain and allow to cool a little. Rub the skins off, and then mash until smooth.
2. Preheat the oven to 350F.
3. Put the beet puree, ginger, egg yolks, honey, vanilla extract and olive oil in a bowl, Whisk together.
4. Add the baking powder, polenta, orange juice and juice, salt, allspice, cinnamon and flour and mix.
5. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until stiff, and fold them into the mixture.
6. In a 10-inch springform pan (I only have a 9 inch) grease and flour the cake tin.
7. Pour in the mixture. Bake for around 35min until spongy. (a toothpick should come out clean).
8. Allow to cool.

Method: Topping
1. Whisk together creme fraiche, with the alcohol, add the sugar, and perhaps add some vanilla extract. Adjust to taste.

From Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Kitchen, pp. 278-9.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Fruit Buns

I love fruit buns, warm and with lots of salty butter - a heart attacks delight. These were alright, they did however, need some salt, whether it comes from the use of salty butter in the dough, or the addition of salt, it really needed the salt once they were baked. Otherwise these were tasty buns.

1 Tbs. active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1.5 cups warm milk
4.5 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
2 tsp. mixed spice
2 tsp. cinnamon
1.5 oz. melted butter
1 egg
1.5 cups raisins
1/3 cup candied mixed peel (I didn't use this)

1. Place the yeast, 2 Tsp. of the sugar and all of the milk in a large bowl.
2. Set aside for 5 min, or until the mixture starts to foam.
3. Add the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon, butter, egg, raisins, mixed peel, and remaining sugar to the mixture.
4. Using a butter knife mix until a sticky dough forms.
5. Pour the dough onto a lightly floured bench, and knead for around 8 min (or until the dough feels elastic).
6. Place in an oiled bowl and cover. Let it rise fro 1 hour or until it has doubled in bulk.
7. Divide the dough in 12 pieces (I made giant buns, so I divided it into 8). Roll the dough into balls.
8. Grease a tray with sides (it is recommended that you use a 9-inch square cake tin, and line the bottom of it with parchment paper.
9. Place the dough balls onto the parchment paper.
10. Cover, and allow to rise again for 30 min.
11. Preheat oven to 400F.
Bake for 35 min, or until well browned and springy to the touch.
12. Serve warm with butter.
From the beautiful Modern Classics 2: Cookies, Biscuits + Slices, Small Cakes, Cakes, Desserts, Hot Puddings, Pies + Tarts, Donna Hay, pp.50-

Raspberry Sorbet

This was surprisingly easy to make, even without an ice-cream maker. It is slightly sweet and slightly tangy. It is best to leave it at room temp. for around 15 min. before attempting to serve it.

3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
23 oz fresh or frozen raspberries*
1/4 cup lime juice

1. Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat.
2. Stir without boiling, until the sugar dissolves.
3. Increase the heat, and bring to the boil for 1 min.
4. Set aside to cool.
5. Put the raspberries in a food processor.
6. Press the raspberries through a sieve, until you extract around 1.75 cups worth of puree.
7. Combine the fruit puree, sugar syrup and lime juice.
8. Place in a metal bowl or cake tin. Cover and freeze for 1 hour.
9. Beat with an electric mixer or a whisk, and return the the freezer.
10. Repeat 3 times hourly until the sorbet is thick and smooth.

*You can also try:
peach sorbet: 6 peaches, which should be 2.5 cups of puree (add 1/3 cup lemon juice).
mango sorbet: 14oz fresh mango, which should yield 2.5 cups of puree (add 1/2 cup lime juice).
strawberry sorbet: 1.75lb. fresh strawberries, which should yield 2.5 cups of puree (add 1/2 cup lime juice).

From: Donna Hay Modern Classics Book 2: Cookies, Biscuits + Slices, Small Cakes, Cakes, Desserts, Hot Puddings, Pies + Tarts. pp. 102-3

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Double Apple Bundt Cake

This cake tastes like it is home baked - it has a wholesome flavor that is simple and full. A wonderfully moist cake that will last days when wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1.25 sticks of unsalted butter at room temp.
1.5 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup store bought apple butter (for me the more spices the better, and as with most things I always try and buy organic)
2 medium apples (I used fuji), peeled, cored and grated
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup moist raisins
Confectioners sugar for dusting

1. Center a rack in the oven, and preheat to 350F.
2. Lightly butter a bundt pan (if non-stick, otherwise, lightly butter and flour it).
3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.
4. With a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed, scraping the bowl as needed until the mixture is smooth, thick and pale.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 min after each egg.
6. Reduce the mixture speed to low, and beat in the apple butter.
7. Add the grated apples and mix until they are well blended.
8. Add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are combined.
9. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the raisins, and walnuts.
10. Pour into the bundt pan, and smooth the top with the rubber spatula.
11. Bake for 50-55 min. or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.
12. Transfer the cake to a rack and let it cool for 5 min before removing the bundt pan.
13. Before serving, sift confectioners sugar onto the to of the cake.

Taken from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home To Yours, pp 184-5.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cinnamon Rolls

These taste and smell amazing. As long as they aren't over baked, they are soft, and pliable. Really nice.

Ingredients: Dough
2 packages active dry yeast
1 cup whole milk (I used buttermilk), heated to 105-115F.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
5.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground mace
2 tsp. salt
Grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temp.

Ingredients: Filling
6 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. freshly grated cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients: Pecan stickiness
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
1.5 cups chopped pecans

Method: Dough
1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and let stand until foamy (around 5 min.).
2. Add the granulated sugar, eggs, 5 cups of flour, mace, orange zest, and butter.
3. Stir by hand or with a wooden spoon until a rough mass forms.
4. Using a plastic scraper, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
5. Knead the dough, working in the remaining flour, until it is smooth and elastic. (around 6 min). The dough should be soft, but not sticky.
6. Form the dough into a ball, and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for around 2 hours, until it has doubled in bulk.
7. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.
8. Divide the dough in two.
9. Roll out half the dough into a 10 x 16 inch rectangle.

Method: Part Assembly & Filling
1. Butter the sides of two 9-inch cake pans.
2. In a small bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon.
3. Spread half the melted butter oven the rolled out dough, and then sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar mixture on top.
4. Starting from the short side away from you, tightly roll the dough towards yourself.
5. Cut the dough into 2 inch rounds.
6. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Method: Pecan Stickiness & Assembly
1. Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon, and mix thoroughly.
2. Place this concoction on the bottom of the cake pans.
3. Sprinkle the pecans over the top.
4. Place the 2 inch round on top of the pecans.
5. Cover with a kitchen towel, and allow to rise at room temp. for another 30-40 min.
6. Preheat the oven to 400F.
7. Bake until a toothpick placed in the center of a bun comes out clean - around 25-30 min.
8. Let the buns cool for 5 min.
9. Carefully place a serving tray/plate over the top of the cake pan. Invert the pan (careful as the butter-sugar mixture will be very hot), and remove the cake pan.
10. Serve when the buns are cool enough to touch.

These can also be warmed up in the microwave for 15seconds the day after, and they still taste amazing.

Taken from Williams -Sonoma Essentials of Baking by Cathy Burgett, Elinor Klivans and Lou Seibert Pappas, pp.68-9.

Double Plum Tart

Fresh Italian prune plums from the local farmers market were used as well as prunes soaked in a liquid of red wine, cinnamon, star anise and orange. If I were to make this tart again, I would cook the prunes as directed, and then let them steep in the red wine mixture overnight. I think this way they would plump up, and have a smoother, softer texture. Overall though, a tasty tart with a soft marzipan like almond cream base.

Ingredients: Dried Prune Soak
1/2 cup dry red wine (ie. Chianti, Rioja or Cabernet Sauvignon)
2 wide strips of orange zest
juice of 1/2 and orange
1.5 Tbs. sugar
1/2 piece of star anise (or one 1-inch piece of cinnamon) - I actually only had ground star anise, so I used a few pinches of that as well as the 1-inch cinnamon
14 pitted prunes
1-2Tbs. corn starch
1-2 Tbs. cold water

Ingredients: Tart Base
1.25 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Ingredients: Almond Cream
3/4 stick unsalted butter, at room temp.
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup ground blanched almonds
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 large egg
2 tsp. dark rum

Method: Tart Base
1. Preheat oven to 375F or 190C.
2. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter, and process until large moist crumbs form.
3. Transfer the dough to a round tart pan (9inch or 13cm in diameter).
4. With floured fingers press the dough into the pan.
5. Freeze until firm (around 15min, can also be left overnight)
6. Take out the freezer, and prick all over with a fork.
7. Cover with aluminum foil (butter the shiny side and place the buttered side down over the crust.
8. Bake for 25 min.
9. Slowly remove foil, and gently press down any bubbles with the back of a spoon. Let cool down to room temp (keep in the tart pan).

Method: Poaching the Prunes
1. Bring the wine, zest, orange juice, sugar, star anise (and/or cinnamon) to a boil in a small saucepan.
2. Boil for 1-2 min.
3. Add prunes, and boil for 3 min.
4. Transfer the prunes to a bowl.*
5. Remove the star anise and/or cinnamon and bring liquid to a boil once more.
6. In a separate bowl combine 1 Tbs. of cornstarch with 1 Tbs. of cold water .
7. Add to the red wine mixture. If the mixture doesn't thicken to a jam like consistency, repeat this step again.
8. Set aside the jam like red wine mixture.

Method: Almond Cream
1. Put the butter and sugar in a food processor and process until the mixture is smooth.
2. Add the ground almonds, and process until well combined.
3. Add the flour and cornstarch, process to blend.
4. Add the egg and process to blend once more. Then process again for 15 seconds extra.
5. Add the rum, and process to combine.
6. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Method: Assembly
1. On the base of the tart, spread the red wine jam.
2. Scrape the almond cream into the room temperature tart base, and smooth with a butter knife.
3. Wash and halve the fresh Italian plums.
4. Place the plums and prunes in the almond cream.
5. Bake for 50-60 min.
7. Best served on the day it is made.
*At this stage you can either go on as directed, or you can soak the prunes in the liquid overnight, for moister prunes.
Taken from multiple sources, the base from "Food" magazine, the majority is however from the amazing Dorrie Greenspan, Baking from my Home to Yours. As well as some additions I made as well.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hazelnut-Cornmeal Cake

I've recently been re-introduced to the wonderful flavor of hazelnuts, and so this cake is dedicated to the amazing taste that is hazelnut.

This cake has a wonderful texture, crunchy and moist. Pairs wonderfully with coffee.

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned (don't be too worried about skinning the hazelnuts, they taste just fine with the skins on, but the cake isn't as pretty)
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp.
3/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs separated
1 tsp. rum
juice of 1/2 lemon
Confectioners sugar for dusting

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 350F.
2. Butter a 8-inch round cake pan, or a 9-inch springform pan (which I used).
3. In a food processor, combine the hazelnuts and corn flour. Process until the nuts are finely ground.
4. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt onto a sheet of parchment paper. Stir in the ground nut mixture.
5. In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar. Using a whisk beat vigorously until the mixture is light in color and fluffy (about 3 min).
6. Whisk in the egg yolks, and rum.
7. In a separate bowl, stir together the lemon juice and egg whites.
8. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (do not overwhisk, as this will make the cake dry).
9. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until almost incorporated.
10. Fold in 1/2 of the egg whites.
11. Fold in another 1/3 of the dry, then the other 1/2 of the eggs whites.
12. Add the remaining dry ingredients and using a light motion with the spatula fold in until the batter is smooth, and fluffy.
13. Spread the batter in the pan.
14. Bake the cake for 25-35 min. Or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
15. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 5 min. Then remove from the pan and back onto the wire rack (the same way up as you took it out of the oven).
16. Let the cake cool to room temperature with a damp tea towel placed over the top (to protect the cake from drying out as it cools).
17. In a fine sieve, place around 1-2 Tbs. of confectioners sugar and sift over the top of the cake. Serve.

Taken from Williams -Sonoma Essentials of Baking by Cathy Burgett, Elinor Klivans and Lou Seibert Pappas, pp. 222-3.

Carrot Cake

This has a rich cream cheese icing and filling, with a lightly spiced cake base.

Ingredients: Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. freshly grated cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
9 grated carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs

Ingredients: Frosting
8 ounces of cream cheese, at room temp.
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp.
1 pound of confectioners sugar, sifted
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1.5 cups toasted coconut
1/2 cup toasted and chopped walnuts

Method: Cakes
1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Butter 3 9 x 2 inch round cake pans, or 2 9 inch springform pans (which is what I used). Flour the insides and tap our the excess. If using 3 pans, make sure you have 3 racks in the oven that are evenly spaced apart.
3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
4. In another bowl stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.
5. Using a stand mixer, mix together the oil and sugar together, until they are smooth.
6. Add the eggs one by one, and beat until the batter is smooth.
7. Reduce the speed and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear.
8. Gently mix in the carrots by hand.
9. Divide the batter evenly among the pans.
10. Bake for 40-50 min, or until a small knife comes out clean, and the cake has just started to move away from the sides of the pans.
11. Allow to cool for 5 min on a cooling rack, and then unmold the cakes.

Method: Frosting
1. Combine the cream cheese and butter in the stand mixer bowl, and using a paddle attachment mix until smooth and creamy.
2. Gradually add the sugar and beat until smooth.
3. Add the lemon juice and mix until combined.

Method: Assembly
1. Place half the cake on a plate, and spread the cream cheese frosting on it.
2. Place the other half on top.
3. Using a rubber spatula, spread the remaining frosting over the cake. Beginning with the top, and then the sides.
4. Smooth with a butter knife if desired.
5. Sprinkle on the toasted coconut on the top, and using the palm of your hand lightly press the coconut into the sides of the cake.
6. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the roasted walnut bits.
7. Place in the fridge for 30 min so that the icing can set.

Once again from the truly amazing book Baking: From My Home To Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, pp. 253-255.

Cecilia's Linzer Sables

These are a classic. You can fill them with any jam you like, you can use any shape you like, and I imagine any combination of spices as well.

1.5 cups finely ground almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts (I used walnuts)
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp. freshly grated cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground cloves
1 large egg
2 tsp. water
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp.
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup jam (I used raspberry jam)

1. Whisk together the ground nuts, flour, cinnamon, salt, and cloves.
2. Using a fork, stir the egg and the water together in a small bowl.
3. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed until smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed.
4. Add the egg mixture and beat for 1 min more.
5. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Don't work the dough much, and if need be mix the dough by hand if the mixer is unable to do it for you.
6. Divide the dough in half. Put the dough between two large sheets of plastic wrap, and press down with your hands until fairly flat. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is around 1/4 inch thick. Make sure that at this time you make sure the dough is not stuck to the plastic wrap.
7. Place on a chopping board (still covered with plastic wrap) and place in the freezer for 45 min.
8. Center a rack in the oven, and preheat to 375F.
9. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
10. Take out the dough from the freezer. Remove the plastic wrap from 1/2.
11. Cut out the shapes, making sure that you cut a small window in 1/2 of the cookies, so that the jam can be viewed. Make sure you save the scrapes, so that you can combine them with the other half's worth of scraps, and re-freeze to make more cookies.
12. Place cut outs on the baking sheet, and bake for 11-13 min. Or until they are lightly golden and firm to the touch.
13. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
14. When cool, spread the jam on.

From Baking: From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan, pp.134-6.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Peach Cream Cheese Tart

This is a mild cake in the sense that it isn't overwhelming in any way. It is mildly sweet and mildly flavorsome. It is much better at room temperature then when cold as the flavors intensify, and the texture is much more pleasing.

Ingredients: Lemon Zest Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest
2/3 cup chilled, unsalted butter
1 large egg beaten
1/4 cup chilled heavy whipping cream (you may need extra)

Ingredients: Cheese Filling
8 oz. cream cheese at room temp.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp. salt

Ingredients: Fruit Topping
2 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
4-6 large, ripe peaches. You can also use apples or pears.

Ingredients: Glaze
1/2 cup apricot jam
3 Tbs. brandy
3 Tbs. water

Method: Tart Crust
1. Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, salt, sugar, and lemon zest together on low speed for 30 seconds.
2. Cut the chilled butter into 1/2-inch pieces.
3. Add the butter to the flour mixture and combine on low speed for 1-1.5 min. Until the mixture looks crumbly, with dough the size of peas.
4. Whisk the egg with the cream and add to the flour mixture, mixing on low speed until the dough is just combined.
5. Mix for 10 seconds longer. If the dough is too dry to form a ball, add a little more cream - 1 Tbs. at a time.
6. Gently mold the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
7. Roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thickness on a generously floured flat surface. Fold it over the rolling pin and gently transfer to a greased tart pan. Press it lightly into place.
8. Preheat oven to 375F.

Method: Filling
1. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar together using the medium setting until fluffy.
2. Add the mascarpone and vanilla extract and beat on medium until combined.
3. Add the eggs and beat on medium-high for 1 min.
4. Add the flour and salt, mix on low speed until integrated.
5. Spoon into the unbaked tart crust.

Method: Fruit Topping
1. In a medium bowl mix the cinnamon and sugar together.
2. Peel and cut up the peaches (or apples or pears) into segments.
3. Coat the fruit in the cinnamon and sugar mixture, and place on top of the filling. Try and place the pieces as close together as you can.
4. Bake for 50-55min.

Method: Glaze
1. About 10 min before the tart is due out of the oven, stir the apricot jam, brandy and water together in a small saucepan set over medium heat.
2. Continue heating until the mixture thickens slightly (about 5 min).
3. Cool for about 5 min.
4. Remove the tart from the oven and brush the glaze over the top.

Let the tart cool for at least 1 hour before serving. To keep, cover and place in the refrigerator. Will keep for 2 days. Serve at room temp.

Taken from Rebecca Rather and Alison Oresman, The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes from the Texas Hill Country's Rather Sweet Bakery & Cafe pp. 40-1.