Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Young vs. Old - The Daring Bakers Tender Potato Bread Cookoff

The Daring Bakers are at it again, and this time its savoury, includes yeast, really sticky dough and in my case helpers!

This month challenge of Tender Potato Bread was meet ed out to us by Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups, and many of us were jumping with joy and already smelling the baking bread in our ovens.

Tanna has taken the recipe for Tender Potato Bread from Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, and from my experience of the recipe it is a winner.

If we ever make bread, or actually if I even step into the kitchen with intent, both my kids want to help. Well this time was no different, except I had left completing this challenge down to the last minute, and really didn't want to deal with the extra mess that the kids can create. But I relented and promised them that they could make their own rolls. They picked their own Rosemary crushed their own pepper and salt, brushed their own oil, mind you they didn't clean up their own mess. And not surprisingly they did a wonderful job, I am actually more impressed with their efforts and creativity, as mine was a run of the mill, by the book focaccia, whilst they created gingerbread men and star shaped rolls which they baked perfectly and scoffed for dinner with their choice of cheese and olives.

When trialling a recipe I try to stick as close as possible to the original format so that I have a sound base to make adjustments from, the only choice i made was to use 12oz of potato but if you read the recipe at My Kitchen in Half Cups, you will see that you can use 8oz - 16oz. So I wasn't disappointed when the focaccia was soft, moreish and so so good. I highly recommend this recipe to all bakers and wanna bee bakers. Be aware that the dough is really soft and sticky, but don't be tempted to add too much flour to counteract this, just go with the flow.

As for the Young DB'ers vs me the Old DB'ers, place your votes. I will cast the first one and vote Young, but they have an excellent teacher.

I can't wait to see what is in store for December but you will all have to wait until almost next year, how crule.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Does anyone have any questions about, cakes, cupcakes, cake deco supplies, tachniques and the community garden, that you might have asked in the past and I never got back to you? Or want to ask.

If you do please ask again in the comments on this post and I will get a Q & A post happening.

Hang in there

Welcome back, I have been MIA for a while, still posting pictures on flickr but my zeal or mojo was non existant. Sorry, I have really dropped the ball. Its been a busy month, birthdays, engagements, more birthdays, gardening, chickens, need I say any more. Thank you for still checking up on me, and I will be around visiting some of your blogs soon.
I have also been trying to get on top of the weight gain that I have experienced over the last 12 months, little bit of depression, little bit of not loving myself, little bit of greediness . . . ok alot of greediness. I think most of us go through stages in their lives where they forget to care for themselves, but I am 3kg down and will let you know every now and then how it is going. But don't sweat, this is not going to turn into a weight loss blog, it is still going to be full of sugar and butter.
But to make up for it I have just completed two handfuls of posts for your viewing pleasure. And there is more to come over the next few days. And then we/I should be caught up and ready for the Christmas rush or baking, omg, its going to be busy.

Happy 3rd Birthday - Samantha

My little girl turned 3, last month, and she requested a fairy, princess, butterfly party, with pink castle cake and cupcakes. I think I achieved her wish.

Classic Rich Chocolate Cake, torted with pink vanilla buttercream, modeled with pink white chocolate fondant. All decorations are made from fondant or modelling paste. The castle design & fairies are from Debbie Brown's book Enchanted Cakes for Children. I really had trouble with some unexpected humidity, the fondant was very very soft, so it didn't really work out as planned, but added CMC and became very patient. But the overall effect works and the birthday girl was very happy.

I am looking forward to remaking this cake, next time I will allow myself more time. I love the modern take on the style, it is really easy to get this one wrong, but I pulled it off . . . just.

Pretty Pink Coconut Cupcakes - Samantha's 3rd Birthday

My little helper/ratbag/cupcake theif turned 3 on the 2th Oct, and guess what we had cupcakes, as well as the castle cake, we're just greedy.

Coconut Cupcakes frosted with Pink Vanilla Buttercream, styled with purple edible glitter, pink, yellow & white sprinkles and pink & white sugar butterflies.

Cupcakes baked by cupcaketastic, Cupcakes decorated by very close friends, cupcaketastic had to leave the room so she wouldn't take over! Thank you Abby, Christina & Zach, you did a great job.

And why is cupcaketastic talking about herself in the third person? Very strange.

Another Mater Cake

Yes, another one, it is so popular.

Classic Rich Chocolate Cake, torted with vanilla buttercream and crushed violet crumble. Styled with more crushed violet crumble, and tv mix, topped with a remote control 'Mater'.

This one is for a lady leaving Australia to work overseas. Lucky her. Poor old Mater he is really getting a work out.

Mag Wheel Birthday Cake

Classic rich chocolate cake, torted with Nutella buttercream, covered in chocolate fondant. All details made from fondant and the only non edible item is the candles.

I must say I loved how the tread on the tyre turned out.

And to go with the Mag we had 12 individually named classic chocolate cupcakes frosted with Nutella Buttercream, styled with fondant name discs, royal icing and chocolate racing cars, to give to the kids as thank you presents. The whole set of cupcakes and cake turned out wonderfully.

Bounty Cupcakes

Light and lushious, coconut cupcake, topped with sinful dark chocolate ganache, simply sprinkled with shredded coconut. This one is definitely a keeper, and I got some killer photos as well.

My cupcake mojo might be back!

Peanut Butter Cheese Cake

A Whimsical Bake House recipe, Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cheese Cake, rich, rich, fattening, but if you love peanut butter and chocolate and can't go past cheesecake this is a winner. Styled with a Ganache Galaxy in red & gold. Yum

Carrot Cakes - Basic & Stacked

Just a basic Carrot Cake for our C4 group, my son calles it 'Mummy Craft', but really if the truth be told there is very little craft going on at the moment.

And then there is a stacked Carrot Cake, which has a total of 4 torts, a little too high but still impressive.

Seville Orange Cupcakes

Once again a set of cupcakes for the community garden that I am co-ordinator for. These ones are for a session on how to 'Create an Energy Efficient Home'.

Seville Orange Marmalade & Dark Chocolate Cupcakes dusted expertly (by my special helper) with icing sugar.

We also had rounds of Zuchini & Bacon Frittata and Silverbeet & Feta Frittata topped with Tomato Relish and fresh chives. And mini vege pizzas.

I get questions about my time, and how do I get it all done, looking after 2 kids etc. Well I just shrug my shoulders and say that baking keeps me happy. But I have to confess that I DO have an assistant. Check her out!

Choc Peppermint Cake

Chocolate Chip pound cake, torted with whipped cream and choc mint biscuits, covered in dark chocolate glaze and crushed peppermint crisp.

I so stuffed this cake up, I over baked it. And it was for the hubby. The idea needs some work, love the styling, but the crazy angle does not work. And to top it all off, bad photography, I should be shot.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

My brother got down on one knee, yippee!

Congratulations on your Engagement
Bryce & Tania

This is the bestest cheesiest photo I could find, stole it from their Ceroc (dancing) Club's website. Talk about smiling for the camera.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Introducing Plenty & Valley

These are the two ladies who work so hard at giving me eggs at the moment. Their names are Plenty and Valley, and they live at our local community garden.

They are laying very well at the moment, and will be joined in the next couple of months by 5 chicks hatched at my son's pre-school, they are currently stinking up my laundry, teasing my cat and confusing Creme & Puff. But they are so cute!

Monday, October 29, 2007

To Bostini or Not to Bostini

Where has this month gone? Is anyone feeling the down hill slide to Christmas, oops sorry I mentioned the C word. But I am getting off track, you are here to read about this months Daring Bakers Challenge.

Well for me it was to definitely Bostini, I have many eggs at my disposal from my hard working and ever pooping hens and I love custard.

What is a Bostini, well its full name is the Bostini Cream Pie, the smaller but by no means less powerful than the more commonly know Bostini Cream Pie. Basically it consists of a Orange Chiffon Cake, on a layer of cholesterol enhancing vanilla custard, smothered in chocolate glaze. And this challenge has been handed to us on a plate by non other than Mary who's Blog Alpineberry is where you will find the recipe for this delicious dessert, among other tasty visual treats.

The whole process for me went like clockwork, as I am familiar with the three major process required, i.e. chiffon cake - requires folding of egg whites into a stiffer batter, custard - making sure it doesn't curdle and some double boiler work with the chocolate glaze.

Really deciding how I was going to present them was the hardest part, I have a set of 4 vintage blush pink cocktail glasses which I used (didn't let the kids touch) and a dash of my ever present edible glitter created a very up market dessert.

But what did it taste like, well it didn't blow my socks off, but my testers thought it was great. The chiffon cake was light in texture and flavour, as it should be. The custard was rich and moreish, but it was custard. And the chocolate glaze was chocolaty. But put all these together and you get what is really a great please everyone dessert, which can be made ahead of time, and it looks like you have slaved for hours.

So I can chalk another completed Daring Bakers Challenge, wonder what will be thrown our way next month. Oh, and did I mention its getting close to Christmas.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

crème & puff (bouffée)

My two excuses/distractions for staying away from the kitchen and the computer this month, aside from trying to loose some kilos. School holiday's are over and we only have a 10 week term so it's going to be really busy around here, especially with the many birthdays and the lead up to Christmas. And then next year my oldest starts big boy school, we are all so excited.

My new 12 week old Faverolle Chickens. Faverolle a French Heritage Breed originated in the mid 1800's. They they will lay the most deliciously fresh eggs for me to use in my masterpieces. This picture is not the best but they were so excited about being let out.

So, I am back in the kitchen as of 1400hrs today and will be baking solidly for the next 7 days. So there will be lots for you to look at soon. Wish me luck.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Ready to Rise - DB September Challenge

In August I got up enough courage to join the Daring Bakers and luckily they accepted me into their brave and wonderful ranks. Therefore I solemnly promise to extend my baking a try new techniques and boldly take my kitchen to places its never been before, and blog about my experiences. No I have to decide which colour logo to use, pink, blue or orange. Decisions, decisions. I think I'll use the pink one this month as it is Pinktober to support Breast Cancer

September has been a busy month, due to birthday's but as soon as I heard that this months challenge was Cinnamon Buns and Sticky Buns chosen by Marce from Pip in the City, I knew that I would be making them for my hubby's birthday, as aside from being addicted to cake and cupcakes, he is also up for a bit of bun (well to tell the truth he eats anything baked).

Well it turned out to be a huge weekend, with much BBQing and singing on his new PlayStation and not to mention the sampling of cake and champagne, so the prospect of waking up on Sunday to bake was not that appealing, but I was organised with all the ingredients ready to do in the pantry, so it all went really well. Especially since waiting for dough to rise allows time for catnaps. Also I am glad about this months challenge as it was easy on the wallet, no copious amounts of chocolate or out of season products to purchase, and for this I was very thankful due to purchases of said champagne and PlayStation.

So how did it go?, you may ask . . .

Well the dough was soft and light, smelling slightly of lemons, so therapeutic after all that champagne and it came together perfectly, with no need to curse at sticky fingers and pry it off of my bench. So it was kneaded for the requisite time and popped into the oiled bowl, covered in plastic and left in the warm sunshine to rise.

As you can see I managed to take photo of this stage, made the fillings and then I went off for a nap. 2 hours later woke up and punched down the dough before I remembered to take a photo. Bugger. So I rolled out the dough, decided to make the smaller buns, and made a half batch of each. Turned on the oven, and put the covered buns out for another prove, remembered to take photo. Then tripped off to bed again.

The oven buzzer went, I shot up, stumbled into the kitchen and saw the kids watching the buns rise, screamed in terror that they were going to touch my babies (the buns not the kids), checked the oven temp and popped the Sticky Buns in first, with a tray underneath in case the caramel overflowed. Then realised I forgot to take a photo, double Bugger.

Paced around, pretending to clean up whilst I waited for the beauties to bake and was very nervous about burnt toffee/caramel on the bottom of my oven, but not to worry, they can out perfectly. Then I popped the Cinnamon Buns in and let them bake.

Flipped the Sticky Buns, tried not to make a mess, dragged the Cinnamon Buns out and let them cool, OMG they smelt so good. By this stage the family were hanging around like bade smells. Don't blame them really. Whipped up a half batch of the icing, drizzled, let it set. Then remembered to take photos. Yay.

The verdict, the overall texture of the bun, as light and not chewy, almost melt in the mouth, would have been very happy if I had purchased them.
Me, I loved the Cinnamon Buns, not too sweet, lightly scented and flavoured with lemon, the cinnamon tempting me to take another bite, I am in love with this recipe. As for the Sticky Buns, they were good too, but too sweet, I omitted the nuts as we have allergies in the family and maybe this adds another dimension to them, but its the Cinnamon Buns for me all the way.
Hubby, falls in love with me time and time again, but I think he is in love with the Cinnamon Buns, couldn't really get an answer out of him as his mouth was constantly full, of, you guessed it, Buns.
Took some round to a NZ family and they loved the Sticky Buns, and I was asked over again, especially if I brought Buns. Its nice to be wanted.

So that is my first Daring Bakers Challenge completed. Thank you to all the Daring Baker for being so welcoming to the newbies, and I hope I am doing the group proud.

I wonder how well these would translate into cupcakes . . . . .

Friday, September 21, 2007

Coconut Cupcakes

Ok, I think I have made you wait long enough, sorry it has taken me longer than expected.

These recipes are based on Coconut Marshmallow Clouds from The Crabapple Bakery Cookbook, the cupcake batter smells and tastes absolutely scrummy, and the house smells like you are living on a coconut palm covered pacific island.

Coconut Cakes

makes 24, keeps 3 days, freezes 2 months

3/4 cups shredded coconut

2 1/3 cups plain flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 eggs

3 egg whites, extra

200g softened unsalted butter

1 3/4 castor sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup coconut milk (I used coconut cream)

Preheat oven to 170oC. Line two 12-hole muffin tins with cupcake papers.

Cupcaketastic tip: litely grease the top of your tin, it will make it easier to get cupcakes out if you have overfilled the papers.

Using an electric food processor, process the coconut until very fine - about 3 to 4 minutes. Add coconut to a bowl with sifted flour, salt and baking powder. Mix until evenly combined.

In a separate bowl combine eggs and egg whites. Do not beat.

In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved.

Add the eggs a quarter at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

Add a third of the flour mixture and beat a low speed until combined. Add a third of the coconut milk and beat a low speed until combined. Repeat until all of the flour and coconut is added, do not over beat as this will toughen the mixture.

Spoon mixture into cupcake papers, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake for 18 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before frosting.

Marshmallow Frosting

Makes enough frosting for 24 cupcakes, Does not keep, use immediately

3 egg whites

480g white sugar

3 teaspoons light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

150ml water

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Food colouring

In a metal bowl combine the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar and water. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water) and beat continuously with a hand-held electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Take the bowl off the heat and add the vanilla and a few drops of desired food colouring. Whisk the mixture until it forms stiff peaks.

This is word for word from the book, I actually find this not enough information for novice bakers experiencing marshmallow frosting for the first time. Having made marshmallow frostings before I was concerned that there is no advised temp to reach, normally beating for 12 minutes is the go or reaching a Temp of 160oF on a candy thermometer. But i made the frosting as instructed above to see the result. It never came to stiff peak, but it was firm enough to pipe and hold its shape. It remained very soft, had a lovely shine, but didn't form a crust (as far as I know). It maybe the addition of the corn syrup that assists in the shine.

I'd like to hear about how you all went with this recipe.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Happy Birthday Gala Darling

I bravely offered to make the most fabbo Gala Darling writer and blogger of Icing glittery cupcakes for her birthday (today) as she too is from Melbourne, and deserves to be spoilt. She accepted so we arranged a safe handover place with her and completed the transaction yesterday, kids in tow. Believe me she is gorgeous - pink hair, I love NY T, tall, stunning, she stops traffic.

So I came up with light and tasty coconut cupcakes, topped with super soft marshmallow in blue, pink or purple, styled with stars or hearts and metallic sugar balls. I didn't sample these but the batter was scrummy and the marshmallow frosting is super soft and sweet but doesn't hit you straight away. So I have to wait to find out what she thought.

If you get a chance check out her site Icing and you will be forever addicted to her outlook on life.

Light and tasty coconut cupcakes, topped with super soft marshmallow in blue, pink or purple, styled with stars or hearts and metallic sugar balls.

Happy Birthday Gala Darling

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Gala Cupcakes

Greetings new visitors from the most fabulous Gala Darling's Blog, if you are wanting to see her cuppies you'll have to wait until tomorrow as I told her I wouldn't unveil them until then. Sweet Dreams and see you tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to Me

The close family came over and we stuffed ourselves on homemade Greek Lamb, Salad, Breads, Tzatziki and Hamouli, served with a glass or two of Domaine Chandon, what more could I ask for?

Followed by the Birthday Cake made by my Mum, a deliciously moist Flourless Orange Cake, served with a segmented oranges and pink grapefruit, oh so sinful King Island Vanilla Yogurt and dusted with icing sugar, and no glitter, food colouring or buttercream to be seen anywhere.

Thanks Mum

Spring Swirl Cupcakes

Another creation from this weekend, a small celebration of Spring. It was lovely over the weekend but now we have been plunged into winter again, and I have resorted to turning the heater on!

Orange Zest Cupcakes, moisted with orange and rum sugar syrup, topped with a swirl of cream cheese frosting, baby lemon glitter and pink balls.