Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A few ideas for morning tea

Morning tea should be so much more than a cup of tea and Arnotts family selection snuffled at your desk. It should be a momentary reprieve from the day. But sadly this is a dying tradition, which is a shame because what is greater than a table laden with different types of pastries, jams, pots of tea and dark roasted coffee enjoyed at leisure? It is one of the many reasons I love to support the Cancer Council Morning Tea. This year on 23rd My Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea turns 20 and today’s post is dedicated to giving you some ideas and motivation to host a morning tea and take part in this fantastic money raising initiative for cancer research, prevention and support services.  You can register to host your own morning tea, find one in your local area or just provide a donation in support. You can register online at http://www.biggestmorningtea.com.au or if you want to talk about other ways to get involved just give them a call on 1300 65 65 85 Get amongst it. Fight cancer with cake. It’s genius. 

Sour cream doughnuts with lemon curd

Serves 6 – 8 
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Zest of 1 lemon
Vegetable oil for frying
Icing sugar for dusting
Candied lemon zest to serve

Lemon curd
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup butter
¾ cup caster sugar
Juice and zest of 2 lemons

To make the lemon curd, whisk the whole eggs, yolks and sugar in a saucepan until smooth, then place pan over a low heat. Add the butter, juice and zest and whisk continuously until thickened. Strain through a sieve into a clean, sealable container and refrigerate until using. Will keep covered in the fridge for 2 weeks.

For the doughnuts whisk sour cream, buttermilk, sugar, egg and salt together. Sift together flour, baking soda and nutmeg and add to sour cream mixture, stirring just to blend. Let dough sit while heating oil.  Heat 5 cm of oil in a high-sided pot to 180C, measured on a fryer or sugar thermometer. With a small ice cream scoop or with a tablespoon, drop spoonfuls of dough carefully into oil. Let cook until doughnuts are a deep brown on one side, about 4 minutes, before turning and cooking to the same color on the other side (often they turn themselves over when they are cooked on one side). Remove doughnuts with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.  Dust over the icing sugar and candied lemon zest if using. Serve warm with the lemon curd.

White chocolate and raspberry friands


1 1/3 cup almond meal, sifted
1 cup icing sugar, sifted, plus more for dusting
½ tsp salt
½ cup (125g) butter, melted
5 eggwhites + 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh raspberries
½ cup good quality white chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 180C.  Grease a friand tin or small 1/3 cup capacity muffin pan. Whisk the almond meal, icing sugar and salt in a large bowl until combined. Stir in the melted butter and egg yolk.
Beat the egg whites and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites through the batter.  Once incorporated, gently fold the remaining eggwhites through the batter.  Then gently fold through the raspberries and white chocolate chunks. Pour into the moulds until ¾ full.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the friands are golden and the tops spring back when touched. Let cool in the tin for five minutes before turning out to cool completely on a wire rack. Sift icing sugar over the friands and serve.

Cardamom and vanilla meringues with poached dried fruits

4 eggwhites
250g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 heaped tsp ground cardomom
½ tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp white wine vinegar

Poached fruit
¼ cup dried apricots
¼ cup dried peaches
¼ cup dried apples
¼ cup dried pears
¼ cup dried figs
¼ cup dried dates
1 vanilla bean, halved, seeds scraped
½ cup honey
3 tbsp rosewater
2 cinnamon sticks
2 Cardamom pods, bruised
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

To prepare the fruit, place all fruit in a bowl and cover with enough water to cover by a few centimetres. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 2 hours, preferably overnight.  Strain the liquid into a saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Simmer over medium heat until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency. Add the fruit and cook for a further 15 minutes. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until using.

For the meringues, preheat the oven to 140C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water ensuring the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Whisk constantly for 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Add to a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk for 10 minutes or until cooled to room temperature and mix looks smooth and glossy. Fold in the vanilla bean seeds, ground cardamom, cream of tartar and white wine vinegar.
Place dollops of meringue mixture on the baking tray, making a shallow indent in the centre of each with the back of a spoon. Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool with the door slightly ajar. Top the meringues with the poached fruit and a few spoons of the fruit syrup and serve immediately. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cake in a Jar

I’ve always been deeply suspicious of the mason jar phenomena. A hang over from wedding blogs, which dictated en masse that any rustic, eclectic modern, barn-house, beach wedding worth its nuptials must have drinks served in jam jars. I don’t know about you but I love champagne served in a delicate flute, or a scotch when the time calls, served on ice in a rock tumbler that moulds perfectly to the hand that nurses it. But no, ‘jar drinks or be damned’ prevailed and then before the Internet knew what hit it, the cake in a jar/mug/ alternative vessel also erupted.  There are now cookbooks, Pinterest image collections and Facebook fan pages dedicated to the topic. Baked, baked using a water bath, microwaved, done in a mug; basically anything can be put in a jar – desserts in a jar, bread in a jar, appetizers in a jar, meals in a jar, anything you feel like in a jar.
I do, in a way, see the attraction. They look good. It is forced portion control. And it is one less piece of equipment (baking or utensil) required to get cake from batter to bake. They are easily transportable and the idea of screwing on a lid to keep your cake fresh certainly appeals. The concept harks back to when goods were sent to loved ones as part of the war effort to remind them of home. So with this in mind, I’ve incorporated the idea of heartwarming and soul fortifying bourbon with yes you guessed it a heartwarming and soul fortifying chocolate cake with a hint of espresso.  And of course, those of you who have been reading this blog know that I am not shy when it comes to chocolate. Chocolate is my spirit animal. So of course I made a quick chocolate ganache to drizzle over the top although this cake works with or without the additions of ice cream and chocolate sauce. Will I continue to bake cake in a jar, I'm not sure but at least I tried it and am happy to report back that it works. It really does work....so who knows
2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp. salt
90mls espresso
¼ cup bourbon
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup dark chocolate chips
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate ganache
150g dark chocolate
140ml pouring cream
Preheat oven to 170C.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, add coffee, bourbon, butter and chocolate chips.  Place over moderate heat and whisk until butter has melted.  Remove from heat and add the sugar. Whisk until incorporated.  Pour mixture into a large bowl and let cool slightly. 
Whisk together eggs and vanilla extract and gradually pour into chocolate mixture.  Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined.  Place the jars on a baking tray and pour the batter into each of the jars until half full.  Bake in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake springs back when touched.
Serve warm with ice cream and chocolate sauce or allow to cool completely before screwing on lids to keep cakes fresh.
To make the ganache add the chocolate and cream to a saucepan and place over very low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy.