Sunday, 30 September 2012

Orange Butter Biscuits and my new toy


These biscuits were a trip down memory lane. My mother used to make them in her light blue Sawa 71 for years until it broke in the late-80s.

After she passed on, I found the Sawa 71 tucked away at the back of her baking cupboard. It was in pristine condition and kept in its original box. However, the Sawa was well and truly broken.

There was nothing left to do but throw it away, despite not wanting to. Still, I wanted to hang on to it in some way, so I kept the metal discs which used to press out all my favourite biscuit shapes as a child. Hoping that one day I would be able to use it to press the same shapes out again. Of course, I put it away and forgot about it until... today!

Last week on a visit to Pastry Pro for some vanilla, I picked-up a Wilton Comfort Grip Cookie Press. Yesterday I tried it out with a simple butter biscuit recipe which worked beautifully.

This evening, just as I was about to put the washed and cleaned Cookie Press away, I remembered the metal discs I'd saved. They fit the Cookie Press perfectly and I am SO pleased. I've washed and cleaned them all. They are now lying on a towel air-drying in the kitchen. I cannot wait to use them. Perhaps next weekend when I have some time again.


Meanwhile, here's the recipe for yesterday's butter biscuits. It is quite a versatile dough, so you can flavour it as you like. I'm going to try making some chocolate biscuits next!

ORANGE BUTTER BISCUITS
Adapted from Obsessed with Baking

8 ounces Salted Butter, just softened
3 ounces Icing Sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Egg Yolk
10 ounces Plain Flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste
Grated zest of 1 large Orange

Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer for 10 seconds. Add in salt, egg yolk, essence, paste and zest and cream for 5 seconds. Gently fold in flour by hand, just until all the flour is absorbed into the creamed mixture. Set aside. Follow manufacturer's instructions to prepare the Cookie Press with your favourite shaped disc. (You can change disc shapes in between batches) Fill the Cookie Press with the prepared biscuit dough and press out shapes accordingly onto a baking tray. Chill the pressed out dough in the fridge for about 15 minutes. Bake in a moderate oven for about 20 - 25 minutes until the biscuits are barely golden. (I baked my biscuits at 145 Celsius and switched the trays around midway for even baking) Leave to cool completely on the tray and store in an airtight container.  

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Happy Birthday Mummy!

One day late. I'd never baked for her birthday when she was alive, but I'd like to think that it isn't too late. Started at 7.30am this morning and done two hours later. I'm happy with them. They're homey and pretty. Beautiful cakes for a beautiful soul.


MUMMY'S BIRTHDAY CUPCAKES

Cupcakes
Grate the zest of a Whole Orange into a large bowl. Add in 4 ounces of Softened Butter, 2 ounces of Caster Sugar and 3 tablespoons of your best Marmalade (homemade is what I used). Mix well with an electric mixer. Add in 2 Whole Eggs one by one, mixing well after each addition. Fold in 4 ounces of Self-Raising Flour and a 60g packet of Ground Almonds. When mixture is thoroughly combined, divide into 12 cupcake cases and bake for about 20 minutes at 160 Celsius. Cupcakes are done once a skewer poked through the middle comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

Icing
Take some sieved Icing Sugar, Softened Butter and Orange Essence. Mix well together with a spoon. Icing should be just the right texture for spreading with a pallet knife and not runny. Spread the icing over the cupcakes and flatten it out over the cakes. Finish off with a sugar flower each and a light sprinkling of tiny silver dragees.

Happy Birthday Mummy!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Butter Cake, after many tries to get it right


No long stories after the absence from blogging. It's just been busy at work, but I haven't stopped baking! I've baked quite a few things in the past few weeks, but the one I've really been trying to master is a simple butter cake.

I've experimented and experimented with numerous recipes for butter cake and this weekend, I finally found the right balance for a butter cake that I like. It has enough butter, enough sugar and is a lovely yellow colour with a moist crumb. Next up is a marble cake using this recipe as a base. Wish me luck!

BUTTER CAKE

250g Salted Sutter, at room temperature
200g Caster Sugar
3 Whole Eggs + 4 Egg Yolks
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
200g Self-Raising Flour

Butter and flour an 8 inch round tin.

Cream butter and sugar really well with an electric mixer for at least 5 minutes until the mixture is realy pale and looks like thick cream. Add in whole eggs and yolks one by one, beating until just combined with each addition. Add in vanilla. Fold in flour by hand until just absorbed. Once done, give the mixture a quick whizz with the electric beaters (just to ensure that all the flour has been absorbed) for a few seconds.

Scrape batter into the prepared tin. Bake at 160 Celsius for about 1 hour or until a skewer poked through the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove tin from oven and let the cake cool for about 25 minutes in the tin. Then turn out onto a wire rack and let it finish cooling before cutting.



Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Kipper Cutlets



So I don't like kippers. Perhaps I hate kippers. I'm certainly not a fan of kippers... now that I've had them. I found some frozen smoked Scottish kippers in the local supermarket recently. Having read a lot about them and watching a River Cottage episode that featured them, I just had to have some. They were expensive!

Well naturally since they're native to a country that leagues away west. Anyway, I followed the instruction on the packet, which was to boil the the pack in water until the butter in it melted, open the pack (this is where I ran into trouble) and eat it on bread with butter.  

Despite the fact that I live in a country where people eat all sorts of smelly food i.e. durian; I really couldn't stomach the smell of kippers once I opened the pack. I felt like throwing it away, but I couldn't just bin it because it cost the earth, so here's what I did.

I boiled some potatoes, mashed it, mashed the kipper fillets together with it, added some turmeric powder, cumin powder, crushed black pepper, rolled them into large balls, flattened them slightly and breaded them in some breadcrumbs. They got fried and eaten with some mayonnaise and chilli sauce.

I may not like kippers, but I do like kipper cutlet. Occasionally. Once in a blue moon perhaps? Let's just say - to quote a friend of mine - 'I've been there, done that and bought the t-shirt'.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Orange Brandy Marmalade

This is a deep, dark, bold, bittersweet marmalade with a bit of bite.

I'm speechless. I thought I'd have something witty and clever to say in this post but nothing's coming to mind right now. So this is it. I tried my hand at marmalade and on the third attempt got it right. The first was delicious but didn't set. So I went out to get some pectin. I added it to the second batch, which was a teeny tiny test batch and it ended-up setting like concrete. I then did some more research on marmalades online and made the third batch... which succeeded! 

I found Cara Cara oranges by accident and used them instead of the regular Navel or Valencia varieties. The flesh of the Cara Cara ranges from a deep pink to a light red. It makes a lovely jam. No point looking for Seville oranges as there's none to be had in this country.

I am well-pleased, though I do not for one moment think this victory is all mine. I had a muse you see.  His name is Paddington Bear. (I knew I did good by kidnapping him for awhile) Before she complains long and loud, I should publicly thank his owner for allowing me to kidnap him for a bit. So Miss Paddington... I thank you from the bottom of my heart for loaning him to me. A bottle of successful marmalade awaits you.

There he is... my darling muse... and my precious sugar termometer

ORANGE BRANDY MARMALADE

1.35 kg Sunkist Cara Cara Oranges
2 Lemons
3 litres Water
400g Demerara Sugar
600g Fine Granulated Sugar
100ml Brandy

Slice all the fruit in half. Place in a large, deep pot and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 2 hours. Top water occasionally back to 3 litres (you have to eyeball this) every now and then. After 2 hours, remove from fire, let it cool completely, then separate the fruit from the liquid.

Scoop out the flesh of the fruit (including any seeds), along with some of the softened white part of the rind.

Put all this onto a piece of muslin/cheesecloth. Hold up the edges of the cloth and twist it to into a secure ball. Now, squeeze the ball with all your might to get every bit of liquid in it out. Once done, add this liquid back into the pot. Discard the contents of the cloth.

Cut up the rind according to your taste i.e. fine or rough cut. add this into the pot as well. Cover the pot and leave it to stand overnight.

The next day, put the pot on low fire, attach a sugar thermometer to the side of the pot and add in the sugar. Do not let the liquid come to the boil before all the sugar is melted.

Once the sugar is all melted, raise the heat slightly, bring to the boil and let it simmer away for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent any sticking to the bottom of the pot.

When the temperature reaches 100 Celsius, watch the pot carefully. The mixture will start boiling furiously up the sides of the pot. Stir to keep it in control. Once the temperature reaches 105 Celsius (jam setting point), remove the pot from the fire, skim off the scum and let it stand for about 10 minutes. Add the brandy. Stir a little to mix in the brandy and distribute the peel. Pour into bottles and screw the lids on tight.

Let it cool overnight. You can either eat it straightaway or let it sit for 2 weeks in a cool, dry place for the flavours to mellow.

Equipment Needed
Stainless steel heavy-bottomed large pot or a Maslin pan
This is important because once the liquid reaches a rolling-boil it will start climbing up the sides of the pot and could flow over the sides. The liquid will be very hot and could cause a terrible burn if not careful.

Sugar thermometer
It is the easiest way to tell that the jam has reached its' setting point.

Glass bottles or jars with lids

I re-use shop-bought jam jars and their lids. Boil some water just before the 3 hour mark while the jam is almost reaching setting point. Pour the boiling water (fresh off the fire) on the jars and lids. Dry off with a clean cloth. Place all the bottles into the microwave on high heat for about 1 minute. Remove and use.

*A note about the online research. There are so many sources to refer to. Too many to remember and mention. It is best to read as many as possible before embarking on jam-making. It's a science of its' own.  Google 'Marmalade' and you'll find them all.







Saturday, 14 April 2012

Paris 2010 - After A l'Etoile d'Or

The wallets were stollen in the Metro station before we got to Galeries Lafayette. Then began the  ordeal of making the round of calls to Visa and Mastercard. Then came the long trek to a police station to make the report. Then we headed to Avenue des Champs-Elysees hoping to find the Malaysian Embassy and instead found a kind lady (the Malaysian Trade Comissioner to France no less) who helped us with 50 Euros (which was returned to her friend in Malaysia once I got home). So... I've talked about it after all. Right, now on to the photos.


Opera Bastille

Paris - from the rooftop of Galeries Lafayette

Avenue des Champs-Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe

Louis Vuitton on Champs-Elysees


Paris 2010 - Jardin du Luxembourg

Pictures of the spectacular Jardin du Luxembourg before the camera ran out of battery.





Paris 2010 - The day the wallets were stollen

Yes, this was the day the wallets were stollen (my memory is a little blurry about that day now), but I'm not going to get into that. I'd like not to remember it except for a particlar French policeman who patiently filled-out the police report on my behalf, asked me questions about the incident and gave me some chocolat to make me feel better. It helped that he was cute and didn't laugh at my half-past-six French.

The best part of this day was the morning. When I visited A l'Etoile d'Or for the first time. 


Rue Pierre Fontaine

Moulin Rouge

At A l'Etoile d'Or with Denise Acabo

  










  





Calm after the storm

It has been a tough start to the new year. Between my last post and now, I've been tired and frustrated at work, came close to throwing in the towel and was stricken with dengue. The dengue was the last straw. Things are a lot clearer to me now than ever before. I'm in an oddly calm place these days... which is a bit scary but there's no explaining it.

During the dengue, my taste buds went on a little holiday by themselves. I suppose it was the fever that chased them away or it could have been the medication. They're coming back a few at a time (must have been a lovely holiday place) so I can taste more today than I could a week ago, but it's still not quite there yet.

One of the few things I've been craving since 'our friends' have started coming back is the flavour of orange. It's very odd, but they're the flavour-of-the-month for me right now. I've juiced them, put them into brownies and made cakes with them. Out of the three, my favourite is juicing and drinking the luscious, zesty juice fresh. The other is eating them in this cake.

This is the latest Orange Butter Cake in bad lighting, while I was having some for breakfast. Yes, I eat cake for breakfast. It's called 'having your cake and eating it'.

Now, I've made this cake countless time since discovering the recipe on Ju's website, and in that time I confess, I've not always stayed true to the recipe. I've forgotten to add the salt; used self-raising flour instead because I'd run out of plain flour; dumped all the flour in by mistake on a day I was tired and attention-deficit; added 13 tablespoons of milk instead of the called for 12; used the zest of only 1 orange; used the zest of up to 4 oranges in sudden fit of abundance and the list goes on. I've even found that the orange flavour and colour of the cake changes subtly depending on what variety of oranges you use for the zest. Yet, every single time - despite a difference in texture and flavour - it has yielded a perfectly lush orangey delight.

Here's the recipe, measurements as is on Ju's website, written out the way I usually make it. Ju... a word of thanks from the bottom of my heart for this excellent recipe.

Orange Butter Cake
Adapted from The Little Teochew

195g Plain Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
170g Butter, softened
225g Caster Sugar 
1 large Egg, plus 1 large Egg Yolk
1 1/2 tablespoons Orange Zest
12 tablespoons Milk

Grease and line the bottom of a round cake tin (18cm across x 7.5cm high) with butter and baking paper. Sieve Flour and Baking Powder together. Set aside.

Place the Sugar and Orange Zest in a large bowl. Using a regular teaspoon mix and mash the Sugar/Zest together until thoroughly combined. The Sugar should have turned orange when done.

Add the Butter into the Sugar/Zest and beat until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer.

Add in the whole Egg and Egg Yolk into the creamed mixture. Beat only until just combined.

Gently fold the Flour in by hand, alternating with Milk in three batches. Make sure the Flour is completely absorbed into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake at 160 Celsius for about 1 hour or until a skewer poked through the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Let cake sit in the tin for about 20 minutes before unmolding onto a wire rack to continue cooling.

Wait patiently until the cake is completely cool before cutting. It is a delicate textured cake. If you're greedy, love eating warm cake and aren't planning to serve it to guests, go ahead and slice of an end bit to stuff into your mouth once it's on the wire rack like I frequently do. Who cares if the cake looks mutilated after that right?


Monday, 30 January 2012

Paris 2010 - While on walkabout

We were heading somewhere... I cannot quite remember where anymore. I do know we had a bite to eat at a McDonald's (yes, not a very inspired choice in a city filled with culinary delights, but it was convenient) with a rather strange washroom concept. You could only use the washroom if you had bought a meal at the restaurant. The receipt comes with a four-digit code which you key into a panel at the side of the washroom's entrance, 'et voila' the door opens and you can go inside to do your thing.

Anyway, before I digress even further, we went on a bit of a walkabout of the city and these were some of the sights we saw before ending at the Jardin du Luxembourg.

The Sorbonne

The Pantheon

The building facing the Pantheon

Paris 2010 - The bird I thought my mother

Hmmmm yes... I have strange notions about my mother appearing to me in bird form. This is the second time it's happening. The first was just after her passing. I cannot ignore the notion. It doesn't come along with every bird I see... just two... so far.


Paris 2010 - Square Andre Lefevre and the old old church

So we were walking aimlessly and then I saw this old old building. I was sure it was a church, but we had to walk right round it to be sure and yes it was. Though I confess I still have no idea WHAT church it was.

It was hauntingly beautiful. There is perhaps something very reverent about old old churches. Something that cannot be put into words and yet you feel it all around you when you step into one. It's like a living breathing thing that envelopes you so completely, silences your tongue and gives birth to awe.










Paris 2010 - Notre Dame and Charlemagne who gave me a fright


The great Notre Dame de Paris. How do I describe its glory? From intricate stained glass jewels to its sculptures to the little chapels that stand like little alcoves of serenity along the sides of the main area of worship to its magnificent architecture to the haunting echo of the choir during mass and so much more.



The Bird Man is what I think of him as. There he was at the foot of Charlemagne standing quite still feeding the birds. I stood and watched him for awhile. Why? I don't know. I just did.



And this is... Charlemagne the great Frankish king who gave me a fright and made my heart beat wildly out of fear. You can't quite tell from this photo, but he is quite menacing. One look at the expression on his face and you will wonder what it should be like if he suddenly came alive and rode off the platform... and then you'll think - I don't ever want to see that day for he has the look of death upon him.



Looking out onto the waters of the Seine that surround the Ile de la Cite - the centre of Paris - just next to Notre Dame de Paris.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Paris 2010 - The Eiffel Tower at almost dusk

Better late than never I suppose. So here they are. Photos of the Paris I saw, but cannot say I fell in love with like many others. Perhaps it was the stolen wallet, perhaps it was that I didn't quite see the 'romance' in it all or perhaps I was simply tired. I'm not sure, but I do wish to visit again just to make sure Paris and I are/aren't meant for each other.


Built in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair, La Tour Eiffel has since become one of the world's most recognised and visited structures - the symbol of Paris.


Beautiful isn't against the fading blue sky? I didn't get to see the lights that come on after nightfall. It was a long spring day. I chose not to wait in favour of dinner and a warm bed. I did however, manage to sit on the ledge of the water canal and eat some delicious freshly made crepes filled with Nutella.


The other side of the canal.


Lemon Drizzle Cake and hope for a better tomorrow...

Evening
Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Stephen Mitchell

The sky puts on the darkening blue coat
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
you watch: and the lands grow distant in your sight,
one journeying to heaven, one that falls;

and leave you, not at home in either one,
not quite so still and dark as the darkened houses,
not calling to eternity with the passion of what becomes
a star each night, and rises;

and leave you (inexpressibly to unravel)
your life, with its immensity and fear,
so that, now bounded, now immeasurable,
it is alternately stone in you and star.


It will be tomorrow in a few hours. I can't say I'm looking forward to it with enthusiasm despite the lovely cakes I've had to tide me over the weekend. I think I will need Edmund again, but we'll see. Perhaps a slice of this for dinner will sort me out.




LEMON DRIZZLE CAKE
Adapted from BBCGoodFood

250g Butter, softened and a little kept aside to butter the cake tin
225g Caster Sugar
3 Lemons, zested and juiced
Vanilla Beans from 1 Vanilla Pod
4 large Eggs
200g Self-Raising Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
50g Ground Almonds
Icing Sugar

Grease and line a 20cm round loose-bottomed cake tin.

Sieve Flour, Ground Almonds and Baking Powder together. Set aside. Cream Butter, Sugar, Vanilla and three-quarters of the Lemon Zest with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in Eggs one by one, beating well after each addition. Fold in the Flour mixture gently by hand until just combined. Give the batter a quick mix with the electric beaters (5 - 7 seconds). Fold in three-quarters of the Lemon Juice gently by hand until completely absorbed into the batter. Pour batter into the prepared tin and bake at 150 Celsius until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, mix the reserved Lemon Juice with enough sieved Icing Sugar to get a thick, white, spreadable icing. The icing should not be too runny. Pour the icing over the just baked cake and place it back in the oven for about 5 minutes to dry a little. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely. The icing will form a thin crust on top of the cake. Sprinkle with reserved Lemon Zest and serve.
Notes
  • I used a smaller round cake tin and cupcake cases instead of a 20cm round cake tin.
  • I also accidentally left the cake in with the icing a little too long so it started bubbling and made a bit of a mess on the oven floor. This idea (not the mess!) is from Tamami. If you click on the link, you will see that she has given step-by-step instructions on how to get the perfect shiny set icing. I'm of course, a half-past-six baker so I simply mixed and did.
  • And yes, I have tried Jamie Oliver's recipe for the same cake. It's a lovely cake by itself. It's got a more full-on mouth-puckering lemon flavour going for it as well as syrup poured in and an icing on top, but I found the poppyseeds distracting.
  • I much prefer this cake. The flavour is more elegant and nothing distracts from the moist lemony crumb. Perfect with a cup of hot tea.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Plum Honey Cakes


It's the end of a long, tough week. I'm tired... to the bone. I have panda eyes leftover from last night's crying. No conversation. That's what I needed. So I put on The Royal Ballet's version of The Nutcracker and let the music and dance wash over me like a balm. I was somewhat soothed but it didn't quite take all the hurt away. Sleep came slowly but surely punctuated only by a cup of hot, strong coffee this morning and then it was back to bed.

I am feeling better now. Not all healed, but just better. Perhaps because I made these. I ate two straight out of the oven and another two as an after dinner sweet with tea. I suppose my baking is like calm in the eye of the storm and the baked goods are a cushion against the trying times. Whatever it is I'm glad it's back to stay.   

That's enough dwelling. It's time to talk of these cakes. A few weeks and some plums ago I went looking for a plum cake recipe... and promptly got myself into trouble with many references to Christmas Cake (having begun its debut to the world as Plum Cake). It wasn't what I was looking for, so I kept searching. The epiphany came when I searched for a Nigel Slater plum cake recipe and found that someone had made some Honey and Cinnamon Plum Cakes from one of his cookbooks.

I promptly fell in love with how the cupcake cases and the colour of the plums were so matchy-matchy. Made me want to eat them straightaway. I read the entire blog post until I reached the comments and read 'The consistency is more of a pudding than a cake."

Oh oh... I didn't want a pudding thing. I wanted a cake thing. So here's what I did.

I halved the recipe and meddled with it by using the usual creaming method, removing the golden syrup entirely for a stronger honey flavour and changed the spice mix to suit myself. It went into little cases and into the oven. While baking it made the whole kitchen smell of sweet honey and glorious spices. It came out of the oven, went straight into my mouth and I felt like I had come HOME.

I made these again today. To make myself feel better. I've four sitting in my stomach right now, making me feel warm and cozy inside. Tonight I feel like conversation and entertainment, so I'm off to Edmund's.


PLUM HONEY CAKES

250g Plain Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
Scant 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Ground Mixed Spice
1/4 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
130g Butter, softened
130g Soft Brown Sugar
2 large Eggs
6 tablespoons dark, clear Honey
4 tablespoons Full Cream Milk
3 medium-sized Plums, cleaned and quartered

Measure the Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Spices. Sieve twice onto a clean newspaper, sprinkle Salt and set aside.

In a bowl, cream the Butter and Sugar with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add in the Eggs one by one beating well after each addition. Beat in the Honey. Fold in the Flour mixture gently by hand until just absorbed in. Fold in the Milk by hand until it is fully incorporated into the batter.

Drop teaspoonfuls of the batter into cupcake cases. Press two pieces of the quartered Plums into each cupcake. (I got 12 cupcakes out of the recipe above) Bake at 150 Celsius until a skewer poked through the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
Notes

  • I do not preheat the oven anymore. I find that my cakes bake more evenly without the preheating. It could be because the oven is a 'hot' one and it heats too quickly, which in turn cooks the outside of the cake too quickly than the inside.
  • I like to give cake batters a very quick (5 - 7 seconds) mix with the electric mixer after folding in the flour by hand as I find it helps the flour absorb better.
  • I let these cakes brown on the top a bit as it makes the crust slightly chewy and has fast become my favourite part of the cake.


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Bitten by muffins


It's the end of the Chinese New Year holidays, it's raining outside and tomorrow I go back to work. Life feels better than it did a week ago and I have the results off my baking therapy sessions sitting in the kitchen i.e. Delia Smith's Classic Christmas Cake and Apple Muffins.

Let's leave Delia aside for today and talk about the muffins. These are my FIRST attempt at muffins and I've found a new love. They were quick to put together (the only 'long' bit being peeling and cutting the apples) and quite delicious straight out of the oven. I overdid the mixed spice, so the muffins seem to smell of cinnamon and coconut - not my favourite smells or flavours - and yet is soft, moist and so damned indulgent. 

In fact, I'm thinking about having another soon... very soon with a nice hot cup of tea. A great way to slide into work tomorrow methinks.

Tucking into muffin No. 1

APPLE MUFFINS
Adapted from Cherry on a Cake

240g Plain Plour + 1 tablespoon Baking Powder + 1/4 teaspoon Mixed Spice + a pinch of Salt
100g Caster Sugar
1 large Egg
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
3/4 cup Full Cream Milk + 2 tablespoons natural Yoghurt
125g Butter, melted and cooled

1 Red Apple, cleaned and chopped
2 tablespoons Rolled Oats

Streusel Topping
60g Plain Flour + scant 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
50g cold Butter
50g Soft Brown Sugar
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon Mixed Spice
Handful of Walnuts, chopped fine
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Place 10 muffin cups on a flat baking tray.

Sieve flour, baking powder, mixed spice and salt together. Set aside. In a bowl, beat sugar, vanilla and egg with an electric mixer until frothy and thick. Beat in the milk/yoghurt  mixture and then the melted butter. Gently fold in by hand the dry ingredients, apples and oats until just combined. Do not overmix. Spoon into prepared muffin cases, top with Streusel and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes on 160 Celsius until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Right, I'm off for that second muffin and thank you Zurin for this lovely recipe.

Friday, 20 January 2012

The engagement cake


I took the day-off today. A day full of long, lazy hours and no looking at the clock. This is what I have to show for it. The engagement cake. It's a moist Spice Cake wrapped in white fondant and finished with lovely posies from Cake Connection.

Please pardon the bad lighting in the photo. I only finished in at 7.30pm while it was pouring cats and dogs outside. Now I can sleep in peace. Till another day then.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Happy New Year

It's the New Year. Christmas is long gone and I have only one measly cake to show for it. Two failed attempts at fruitcake and one at shortbread made me simply stop Christmas baking. My baking was a reflection of my state of mind at the time. What a year. Work, work and work, stress, frustrations and not quite as much time for baking as I would have liked. I'd like to think that things would be different this year. For the first time in years, I have some new year resolutions, so hurray for that. One of it is to bake more, and the other is to sail through life like Patsy Stone with help along the way from chilled champers!

One of the few recipes from last year which has never failed me was this. It's my take on Tish Boyle's Solid Gold Carrot Cake from The Cake Book, tweaked to suit my palate.


CARROT CUPCAKES

240g Plain Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/8 teaspoon Ground Mixed Spice
1/4 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
Mix all together and sieve. Set aside.

200g Caster Sugar
Grated zest of 2 large Oranges
Mix this together. Set aside.

4 large Eggs

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
1 teaspoon Orange Essence

1/4 cup Full Cream Milk
1 cup Vegetable Oil
120g Butter, melted

200g Carrots, grated fine
100g Walnuts, chopped and toasted
A handful or two of Raisins

Beat Sugar, Eggs and both Essences with an electric mixer together until well combined. Beat in Milk, Oil and Butter. Mix well until combined. Fold in the Flour mixture gently by hand. Add Carrots, Walnuts and Raisins. Pour into cupcake cases and bake at 150 to 160 Celsius until a skewer poked through the middle comes out clean.