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    Basic Hearth Bread: Rose's Bread Bible Bakers

    Basic Hearth Bread 'The Bread Bible'

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    Yup, I'm running late with everything this month but I still had time to make this rustic bread from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Bread Bible'. 

    A few simple ingredients are put together in a bowl....

    white bread flour, wholemeal flour, instant yeast and *honey 

    Warm water is added and the mixture is whisked to incorporate air. That's the dough starter (sponge) ready to be topped with more flour and a little more yeast. Off to ferment now, that's the sponge not me. 

    Love this bit, the bubbles coming through the flour blanket.

    Mixed altogether to form a rough dough. Salt is added, looks a lot in pic but it's only 10 grams. 

    After seven more minutes mixing in the *KitchenAid the dough is smooth. 

    There is rising time at this point, then business turning/folding going on and then more rising. 

    After the rise and tying into the "running late" I was rushing and didn't take photos of the shaping/slashing bit, the instructions in the book are precise and detailed.  

    The loaves went to rise for around an hour, before slashing and pattern making on the tops.

    a lame: double sided blade used to slash loaves

    I used a slightly concaved bread lame for the single cross slash and used round metal cookie cutters to cut a graduating circular pattern, I sprinkled flour on the circular pattern before baking. I also used a plastic Mickey mouse cookie cutter to "indent" a pattern in the smaller loaves I made.  Then they were all baked in hot oven on slipats, with trays and ice ... it's all explained in the book. 

    And now the eating bit.

    Fresh is good, Vegemite toast is better!! 

    Vegemite on toasted hearth bread

    I like the pretty edge that the circular cookie cutters created on the hearth bread, here topped with a Greek yoghurt beet and mint dip, pickled beet, feta and cashews.  

    Would I change anything? No, this bread is a great all rounder everyday bread. I do want to bake this bread in a loaf pan as Rose suggests it would make a great sandwich bread. 


    *Rose does include instructions for making the bread by hand. 

    *Subsitute the honey for golden syrup for a vegan loaf of bread. 

    Happy Baking :)  

    Today has been one of the 'Rose's Bread Bible Bakers' bakes where a group of fabulous bakers get together and bake from the pages of 'The Bread Bible'.

    The Bread Bibleby Rose Levy Beranbaum is available from Amazon and all discerning book stores. 

    You might also be interested in quick and easy Chocolate Peanut Butter Spiders


    Cinnamon Raisin Loaf: Rose's Bread Bible Bakers

    Cinnamon Raisin Loaf 'The Bread Bible' 

    Join me on Facebook    Fondant and chocolate work coming up in September.   

    It's almost Christmas, or so said a facebook count down post this week and this cinnamon raisin loaf from Rose Levy Beranbaum would be just the thing for Christmas or an anytime brunch.   

    It started with making a sponge... flour, water, honey and yeast were whisked until a thick airy batter was achieved. 

    The "sponge" is a yeast starter. I did mine in the mixer. 

    Next flour, dry milk powder and yeast were whisked together and sprinkled over the sponge. 

    Off it goes now to ferment, for 1 to 4 hours. 

    Bubbles broke through the flour blanket at the end of the fermenting stage.

    Onto the mixer now where softened butter is added to the fermented flour mixture and beaten until a rough dough forms. 

    A short rest follows, for that dough that is, but you do have time to get a cup of tea now. 

    Back to the mixer, salt is added and the dough beaten to it forms a smooth and shiny ball. 

    Yup, another short rest here. 

    And back to the mixer to add the raisins. I used a mixture of sultanas and currants. 

    After the raisins are added your dough goes off for a couple of hours to do the rising thing. Time for much tea or maybe a yoga class now. 

    Back from yoga and it's time turn out the dough, form a rectangle, business letter fold the dough whilst maintaining as much air a possible.  

    Covered, the dough goes into the fridge for now for an hour to firm up. I left mine for 24 hours at this stage to develop flavour. 

    Make your cinnamon sugar mixture.

    The dough is rolled out to the specified size in the book, Rose's recipe makes two loaves I made many mini loaves because we know I just like "mini food". 

    Beaten egg is brushed onto the rolled dough, cinnamon sugar is sprinkled on leaving a border unsugared. 

    Roll up you dough, just like we did for the sticky caramel buns last month. Place your rolled dough into greased tins to rise for one to two hours. 

    Time to bake!

    When the loaves are removed from oven and still in tins, melted butter is brushed on. 

    Sssshhhh! You aren't supposed to cut your hot bread but here is the a hot mini loaf with the cut crust off, wanted to see if the spiral worked. 

    Fantastic texture in this bread! Toasts beautifully, however it does burn quickly so keep an eye on it.

    I served mine toasted with fresh cheese, berries and maple syrup but it was equally delicious toasted with butter. I liked it fresh and unadorned too reminded me of panettone, a nice one not the slightly dodgy ones the supermarket sells at Christmas. 

    Would I change anything? No, perfect how it was.  

    Want another flavour? Rose has a savoury version in the book and suggests you can leave out the dried fruit if preferred.  A friend suggested candied peel could be added, yes if you like peel go for it. I think chopped dried dates, orange zest and swapping out the cinnamon for cardamom would result in lovely loaf. A versatile enriched base dough suits many flavour combinations.  

    Happy Baking :)  

    Today has been one of the 'Rose's Bread Bible Bakers' bakes where a group of fabulous bakers get together and bake from the pages of 'The Bread Bible'.

    The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum is available from Amazon and all discerning book stores. 

    You might also be interested in  A Trip to the Moon (French: Voyage dans la Lune) cupcake


    Sticky Caramel Buns: Rose's Bread Bible Bakers

    Sticky Caramel Buns 'The Bread Bible' 

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    Oooo these buns today remind me of a cross between a Chelsea bun and golden syrup dumplings.

    A soft and buttery enriched dough is filled and rolled, a "golden syrup dumpling sauce" with brown sugar, butter, golden syrup and touch of cream is added to the base of your cake pans. Bake it all together for today's light, buttery and certainly sticky 'Sticky Caramel Buns'.  

    It's not a Tuesday night after work bake, it's the leisurely weekend type bake when you have a bit of time and can't make it through Sunday without a sweet treat.  

    The recipe calls for a batch of Rose's basic brioche dough that begins with making a sponge.

    The "sponge" is a yeast starter. I made mine in a mixer. 

    A flour mixture is then sprinkled over the sponge and two hours later you'll have bubbles rising through the blanket of flour in parts. 

    Using my stand mixer eggs and softened butter were beaten in. 

    The dough goes off to warm spot to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

    After rising the resulting dough is off to the fridge. Brioche, like other enriched breads has a refrigerator period to solidify the butter and make the dough easier to handle.  Pictured I'm I'm gently deflating before another rest and chill time. 

    The brioche dough was then turned out onto a floured bench top. 

    Then dough is rolled out and given a business letter turn. Fold one. 

    Fold two. 

    Business folded once more. Fold three. 

    Fold four.

    Now it goes to "sleep" or you do, the dough is wrapped in loosely but securely in plastic wrap and placed in a zip lock bag. I didn't have a bag so I put mine in a plastic container. In the fridge it goes for between 6 and 48 hours to depending your schedule... you rule the brioche... something to tell yourself anyway. 

    YAY! it's the next day your dough has matured.

    You have soaked your sultanas (US raisins) in *rum and water and reserved the water to make the glaze later on. I used bourbon because there ummm "wasn't any rum in the cupboard". 

    Rose uses light Muscovado sugar in this recipe but says light brown sugar would be fine. Muscovado is quite flavourful and worth seeking out on your next grocery run. 

    Another bowl holds the rest of your sticky bun filling of light muscovado sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and roasted chopped pecans ready to be stirred together. 

    Next the sticky bun topping.  Light muscavdo, golden syrup and unsalted butter are brought to the boil.  I did add something extra, a good pinch of salt.  Cream is added before boiling again and pouring into the base of your cake pan.

    I have a lot cake pans and even though Rose does include an extensive cake pan size guide in the book I never seem to have the right ones, Australian cake pans are differently sized.  So I went with a six cup sphere silicone mould and a non stick 22cm cake pan. There is supposed to pecans in the bottom of the pan/pans but due to FUSSY ha ha people that don't like whole nuts I caramelised pecans to serve separately. I popped a food ring in the centre on the non stick pan so I could make a bun wreath. 

    You're up to rolling the dough out now,  it's a wonderfully easy dough to work with rolls out beautifully to the 14 by 12 inch (approx 35 by 30 cm) rectangle. 

    The dough is brushed with beaten egg and the filling along with the drained sultanas are sprinkled over the surface. The dough is rolled using the ruler to help guide the role if necessary.  

    The roll is cut into four pieces, intern each piece is cut into three giving you 12 spiral buns. Six went in the sphere moulds, six in the cake pan, both went off covered with oiled plastic wrap to a warm spot to rise once more.  

    A glaze is made by reducing the reserved sultana water and adding butter.

    Once the final rise is over, it's time to brush them with the *glaze and bake! Oh you did preheat the oven for an hour and placed inside a baking tray or oven stone to heat.  They took about 25 minutes and were covered with foil after the first ten so they didn't over brown. 

    Here is the cake pan buns hot from the oven. Turned out after a few minutes so the bottom becomes the top.

    Torn apart to peak at the interior of the buns.  The texture is light and airy. Flavours of cinnamon, toasted pecans complement the juicy bourbon sultanas and butter caramel topping.   

    My favourite shape was the half sphere ones, the spiral pattern was distinctive and round and they had the cute domed tops or is that bottoms?

    How I'd serve them: either traditional afternoon tea style, tea with lemon or modern as in top pic, adding generous swipes of Crème fraîche on the platter, extra caramel sauce, scatter the pecans, a few fresh raspberries and break your buns, dip in Crème fraîche, drizzle more caramel ... it's sticky and fun eating. Both traditional and modern I would add an "acid" component, even though the golden syrup is slightly acidic I like more so lemon in the tea, berries, Crème fraîche etc.  

    Would I change anything: I want more booze or at the other end of the spectrum swap the alcohol out for verjuice. Not sure about the sultana water glaze, I'd probably omit that as I don't think it added much. If I didn't add salt to the caramel I would have used sea salt flakes on top. 

    Rose's brioche recipe is my all time favourite for sweet and savoury applications, it's always light but sturdy enough to become a burger bun, buttery but not too buttery, hits all the right notes for a "doing that again"

    Fun making my first sticky buns, ha ha I definitely have a gap in my baking repertoire "America" pretty much the whole of America. I always say "it's the first time I've baked.........".  

    Happy Baking :)  

    Today has been one of the 'Rose's Bread Bible Bakers' bakes where a group of fabulous bakers get together and bake from the pages of 'The Bread Bible'.

     The Bread Bibleby Rose Levy Beranbaum is available from Amazon and all discerning book stores. 

    You might also be interested in making a butterflies.   

    or a little bit of happiness making the Partridge Family birds. 


    Velvet chocolate spray and sphere piping tips. 

    red velvet sprayed chocolate decorations and sphere ruffle piping. 

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    Ahhh ha, it might not be true love but I'm certainly enamoured with the "Russian" sphere tip that produces ruffles in one vertical squeeze of your piping bag. A real time saver for cake decorators and for the piping challenged... this is your tip! 

    left to right: these tips were sold as large sphere, large sphere and small sphere. I used the centre tip today, finding the wider gaps piped a more pleasing ruffle. 

    The tips are being sold as "Russian" or "Oriental" or just "Sphere" tips. There is a difference in manufacturers, the base diameters are the same in the ones I have tried but the gaps in the sphere differ in size between brands. 

    All the tips fitted standard couplers.

    Moving from a few dollars for a tip to many dollars for a can of cacao velvet spray.

    Phew, these cans are pricey if I didn't have a birthday voucher I wouldn't have purchased this product. Having it now, it's so much fun and results look fab... tastes nice too which is an oddity for red colouring. If you are running a food related business you will have access to wholesale prices and possible tax rebates depending on where you are. 

    Velvet spray is cacao butter in a can or using a compressor and spray gun. My can is a product from Belgium and contains cocoa butter, white chocolate, lecithin, flavouring and colours. Used by chefs and chocolatiers to give a smooth velvet finish to chilled chocolate, mousse, ice-cream, you will see it used often in entremets and chocolate show piece flowers. 

    Chill some chocolate... but not to point that I did here with ice starting to form... just until cold. 

    I moulded simple chocolate hearts, piped a few chocolate squiggles and popped them in the freezer to chill.  The spray can has to be at 25 cel or warmer room for a few hours, you'll hear the ball-bearing inside the can just like spray paint when you shake it. Set up a spraying box (I just used a cardboard box lined with baking paper) to protect your benches/kitchen from a velvet coating. Hold the can 25cm above what you want to spray, place you items close together, but not touching. Spray lightly in a sweeping motion, starting just before the beginning of your item and finished just after, exactly the same way you would use a spray paint can. Repeat as necessary. 

    If the nozzle blocks it's easily removed, get it working again with a few seconds in a microwave or in hot water.

    The velvet look contrasts beautifully with tempered shiny chocolate or used alone like on today's cupcake to add visual interest.

    Use for special occasion baking, to add a luxury touch to wedding cakes and the like. I love the red for romance, Christmas and valentines day. 


    Easy to use, if you can use a can of spray paint you can use velvet spray. 

    Long life, my can has and almost two year best before date.

    Convenient, just grab out the cupboard when ready to use.

    Looks brilliant on chocolate to mousse. 

    A little goes a long way.

    Cans are available in assorted colours, red, milk chocolate, white chocolate etc.


    Cost, it's expensive at around $50 a can in Australia for this brand. 

    Cans VS Compressor and spray gun: 

    Both ways will cost you, if you just need need velvet spray for a special occasion a can is the way to go. If it's business the compressor and spray gun has a larger initial outlay, but gives you much more versatility in colour. 

    Happy Baking :)

    Dirt or Soil? Either way it's chocolate!! 2 ingredient chocolate soil. 


    Flaky Scones: Rose's Bread Bible Bakers

    Flaky Scones 'The Bread Bible' 

    Blame it on the Vegemite?? I'm feeling particularly like I'm from a foreign land, with these rich, flaky and moist (American) scones. The scones are nothing like the scones we, or the Country Women's Association bake in Australia.

    I found these scones far, far too rich with cream and butter for my palate. A country to country difference perhaps, after all I start my day with black salty yeast paste spread liberally on toasted bread.  

    The flaky scones began with whisking together flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb (baking soda), salt. I added the zest of a lemon too.  

    Chilled cubed butter was added by pressing with my fingertips to form large flakes. Cream was stirred in until the mixture was moistened and starting to come together in large clumps.

    Currants were then added and after a brief knead the dough was turned out onto a board.

    1. Sultanas 2. currants 3. raisins... the three mainstay dried grapes in Australia. Currants are my favourites! The first written record of the thin skinned tiny grapes was in 75 AD, making them one of the oldest raisin varieties. The currants I used today are from the Carina varietal, a tangy plump currant perfect for currant buns and scones.

    Back to the scone dough which is rolled out into a 8x12 inch rectangle.  

    The dough is folded in thirds, rotated, rolled out again this step is repeated three more times. Refrigerating between turns for 15 minute intervals if your pastry is becoming too soft and sticking. 

    My friends daughter Emma told me this week that high school Food technology does not let you make scones or muffins due to the processes being too simple, I would presume the lamination of these scones would make them the exception to that rule. What you are doing here is similar to making rough puff, trapping those steam producing cold butter flakes in the dough.  

    Now it's time for cutting, your pastry is trimmed and cut into 2 pieces measuring 4 inches by 12 inches. Rose calls for triangles, four in total to be cut from each piece. Scraps are re-rolled and cut. 

    I cut two round scones from the scrapes (the traditional shape of scones in Australia) with my vintage, well and truly vintage cutter. It wasn't only cooking I learnt at technical trade (alternative high school), I also had shop classes like woodwork and sheet metal... been using this scone cutter every since. 

    Bake!! The scones are baked on baking trays placed on a pre heated baking stone or tray in a hot oven until golden. The resulting scones are moist, flaky but yet "substantial", my Mum would have said "rib sticking". Deep golden bottoms and lightly golden flaky top with a moist and flaky interior, these scones are best eaten warm or reheated following Rose's instructions.

    Flaky scones might not be my cup of tea but they could be yours! That is the great thing about Rose's 'The Bread Bible' and the subsequent Bread Bible Bakers group, trying out new recipes and you're sure to find something for everyone.  

    The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum is available from Amazon and all discerning book stores.

    Happy Baking :)  

    You might also be interested in a food processor White Chocolate Plastique recipe

    You might also be interested in something savoury with Shark Nuggets 


    Blueberry muffins: Rose's Bread Bible Bakers

    going, going, gone.  blueberry muffins. 


    Going, going, gone!!   Well, I've just eaten my first ever blueberry muffin which coincides with my first blog post for the brand new bread baking group... 'Rose's Bread Bible Bakers'.

    Same format as previously; once a month baking from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Bread Bible'. However, this time there is a few new bakers and we are starting earlier in the book.  I'm so happy to be involved, and looking forward to sharing my experiences. 

    Oh and the rest of 'The Lone Baker' blog will continue as per usual with chocolate, fondant and the like. 

    "It's a quick bread" 

    In Australia I don't believe we generally think of muffins as quick breads or something to have for breakfast... it's more "like cakes, but not as good"... or at least that's how I think of them. I could count the muffins I've eaten in my life on one hand, until today that is when I've started the "other hand" with these ....

    Blueberry Muffins

    It began with butter, sugar and lemon zest being beaten together until light and fuffy. Egg and vanilla were added. 

    Then flour was whisked together with baking soda (bi-carb to Australians) and salt. 

    Oooo I know people that don't do the whisk or sift step (you know who you are!). Whisking makes for an even bake if the raising agent is evenly incorporated. 

    The flour mixture plus some sour cream were then folded alternatively into the whipped butter mixture.

    The resulting batter is thick.

    Blueberries Ok they were supposed to be tiny in season Maine blueberries, instead in Australia as blueberries are out of season I've used large frozen blueberries. 

    Once I folded through my "land of the giants" blueberries in their frozen state as to not stain the batter too much. I then used to an ice cream scoop to portion the batter into muffin cases. 

    Nutmeg laced sugar was scattered over the top of the muffins. 

    Rose called for fresh nutmeg, I used my microplane to grate a little nutmeg.

    Nutmeg fruit photo courtesy of wikipedia.

    Nutmeg fruit, contains this seed... the red you can see is "mace", under the mace is a seed similar to a stone fruit... that's the part that is dried and sold as nutmeg. 

    Here just starting to fill the empty cake pan holes with water as Rose suggests. 

    Then they were baked, five minutes longer for mine because they contained frozen berries.


    Eating time, bite through the buttery sugar crust into the open textured but soft and moist interior, where you pick up hint of lemon and a burst of warm blueberry (mine were giant bursts of blueberry!!). The nutmeg flavour is more of a whisper than a shout but adds a bit of the "oh what is that flavour?"

    Loved the blueberry muffins warm, not so much cold, so I'd eat them quick or reheat later on. Rose has reheat instructions in the book.

    The Bread Bible  by Rose Levy Beranbaum is available from Amazon and all discerning book stores.

    Happy Baking :)  

    You might also be interested in individual chocolate pavlovas

    or no bake Speculoos (Biscoff) tarts


    Sacaduros 'The Bread Bible' Alpha Bakers

    Sacaduros:  crisp crusted, soft interior dinner roll with a burst of salty butter. 

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    “But he who dares not grasp the thorn Should never crave the rose.” -Anne Brontë

    Dang, I had a "dinner roll shaping problem" this week. These little dinner rolls are Rose Levy Beranbaum's favourites from restaurant 'Daniel' New York. Thanks to the 'Bread Bible' I got to make them, firstly lets see what they are supposed to look like ....

    Serious eats has a fabulous gallery of bread baskets in New York, including the bread basket from restaurant 'Daniel'. You can see the sacaduros front left, those round rolls were what I was aiming for. Mine didn't have the "petal like" pulled up sides you see pictured here. Even though I experienced "folding fail" the resulting dinner rolls are so incredibly delicious I can live with my misshapen little fellas.  

    Here we go...

    Three quarters of a dough batch from Rose's 'Basic Hearth Bread' was called for so I started by whisking together bread flour, wholemeal flour, instant yeast, honey and warm water for the sponge (dough starter). 

    Bread flour combined with instant yeast was sifted over the sponge and left to ferment. 

    Sponge bubbling through the flour topping. 

    I used my Kitchen Aid to beat the sponge, flour and added salt into a dough then off to rise once more.

    Cubed butter and salt are needed for the filling.

    Fleur de Sel French salt: distinctly moist and often used as a finishing salt. 

    I also made a flavoured butter by adding fresh coriander, garlic, chilli and grated ginger to softened butter. The butter wasn't whipped as in the standard compound butter technique but rather the flavourings were beaten in with a wooden spoon as to not incorporate excess air. Form the butter into a square and refrigerate before cutting into cubes. 

    Time for pinching off 33 gram balls of dough (Rose recommended one at a time, I did four at a time... maybe my downfall part) and gently flattened balls into discs.  A half inch cube of butter and a pinch of fleur de sel on top of the butter are placed in the centre of each flattened ball.

    And then I started talking about napkins:  I'm presuming the folds in the rolls were inspired by Escoffier's famous "rose" fold napkin technique, including "pulling" up pieces to form petals. 

    Shaping the rolls; pull two sides of dough out and fold bringing them to the centre to cover the butter without squashing it down, then pull out the other two sides and bring to centre. Rotating the dough so a pointed end is facing you, repeat the folds.  Then in the written instructions there is "for the last two pulls, take only pinches of dough". The diagrams don't have this bit in my Kindle version. I was confused and also my dough did not want to stretch for those final two pulls. I tried to force it (yep, ok shouldn't do that) and ended up with my misshapen rolls that were placed upside down in a tray of flour. 

    About a third of the rolls burst in the oven and the butter leaked, these were my "I bet I could stretch that dough with brute force" ones.     

    At the end I had sacaduros with super thin hard and crunchy crusts that gave way to light and fluffy interiors with bursts of salty butter. Shaping aside these are the best bread rolls I have baked, so pleased with crust and interior texture. The long oven pre-heat and other tips within the book are yielding excellent results. 

    Would I bake again? Yes, loved them. You could do so many different butters/flavours by changing herbs and seasonings. From a straight garlic butter to a lime zest black pepper butter, lemon and dill, black olive, or vanilla salt and butter to go with your scallops and white fish. 

    Would I change anything? Yes, I wouldn't do the flour on top step, messy stuck in lipstick eating. Ha, ha if I folded them correctly next time that would be nice.  

    How it works... joining the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a month I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Bread Bible'. I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Bread Bible available from Amazon and all discerning book sellers. 

    Happy Baking :) 

    You might also be interested in Toblerone dessert in 30 minutes


    No Bake Speculoos Tarts 

                                                 no bake speculoos (biscoff) tarts

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    What are Speculoos? A lightly spiced caramelised biscuit (cookie). You can buy them in biscuit form or as a jarred cookie paste (butter). I'm using the popular Lotus brand speculoos/biscoff paste and biscuits from Belgium in these no bake "pantry ingredients" tarts. 


    'Speculoos' in Flemish and 'Biscoff' in English

    The world is in love with cookie butters. Available in smooth or crunchy, spread on bread straight from the jar it looks like peanut butter but tastes... umm, well like "squooshed up cookies". 

    Lets get started, today I've used four 11 cm x 6 cm (4.5 inches x 2.5 inches) individual tart tins. You could also use 8 smaller tart tins. The recipe is easily doubled so if your loving your cookie butter go for it!! 

    Little tart tins; a gift from Ireland .. thank you Emer, I love them!!  



    1 packet (124 grams) Biscoff/Speculoos biscuits 

    62 grams (2.18 oz) unsalted butter melted

    80 grams (2.82 oz) chopped dark chocolate

    8 tsps of homemade or store bought dulce de leche or thick caramel sauce

    500 ml (16.90 oz) whipping cream

    400 g jar of Speculoo/Biscoff cookie paste

    Biscoff biscuits (cookies) in Australia come in 124 gram packets. 

    A basic crumb crust for cheesecakes and desserts is half the ratio of melted butter to biscuit crumbs.

    So for 124 grams of biscuit crumbs I used 62 grams of butter.



    Crush the biscuits, by either pulsing in a food processor or popping in a zip lock bag and bashing with a rolling pin. Place the crushed biscuits in a medium mixing bowl. 

    Melt the butter. Make a well in the biscuit crumbs and *quickly mix together with a wooden spoon.

    Divide mixture between the tart tins you have chosen and press firmly with your finger tips or small spoon. covering the bases and sides. Chill for 20 minutes.

    Melt your chopped chocolate. Using a pastry brush or a small spoon coat the inside of the shells with melted chocolate. Chill until chocolate sets. 

    Spread two teaspoons of caramel per tart tin (one teaspoon each if using eight smaller tins). Refrigerate whilst you prepare filling.

    To make the filling put the whipping cream and speculoos/biscoff paste into a bowl.

    Whip (briefly) to combine. You are just "combining" it is literally seconds not minutes, your mixture will thicken almost immediately. Do not over beat you don't want your mixture to split. 

    Pipe or plonk. Probably best suited to plonking more than piping, but you can pipe if desired. If you are plonking, spread a generous amount of filling in each tart shell and either swirl or lift up soft peaks with a small flat knife. If piping, you get a soft "almost hold" finish.  Pop them in the fridge for a final chill.

    Either way you will have some leftover filling, this can be enjoyed from small dessert glasses with whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel, chocolate decorations.... oh and cookies for dipping if you bought extra.  

    Unmould your chilled tarts ready for serving.  Top with a dark chocolate decorations if desired. 

    *Notes: all biscuit (cookie) crumb bases are much easier to press into tins if used quickly whilst the mixture is still warm from the butter. If your room is cold or you were called away briefly you can find it more difficult to get a neat finish. A quick microwave on low for a few seconds will make the mixture easier to work with again. 

    In Australia Biscoff biscuits are available from Coles supermarkets for under $2 a pack. Speculoos (Biscoff) butter is available from Dutch Grocery stores in Australia including "It's all Dutch to me"   "Dutchfood" online and Continental Delicatessens.

    Want to swirl up your own Biscoff Spread? Jamieanne at the Sweetest Kitchen does exactly that swirls up her own out of the biscuits, coconut milk and more. Find her here.   Go a step further and bake your own Speculaas, Martha Stewarts recipe here

    Happy Baking or No Baking :) 


    Haunted Portrait cupcake

                                        haunted portrait cupcake

    Join me on Facebook or view my Flickr cupcake and bake gallery

    I love zombies as much as the next person but when I have reached my flesh eating critter weekly limit, I like an old school movie with a haunted portrait or you're haunted by the portrait. 

    Hichcocks 'Rebecca' 

    Otto Premingers 'Laura'

    Oh, oh, oh and I love, Oscar Wilde so 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' 

    Momentarily lost my camera this week (ok a longish 27 hour panic), but "yay" I found it for the cupcake shot and "awww" didn't have it for the tutorial, ummm but I have a few dodgy badly lit phone photos... a quarter of a "yay" at least for that! Today's haunted portrait themed cupcake starts with the frame. 

    I don't use moulds much but I do like these small frame moulds. The moulds were lightly dusted with cornflour, fondant (or modelling paste) is pressed in. I put mine in the freezer for a few minutes for fast release from mould. 

    Once dry the frame was painted with copper and gold food paints, when that's dry a little black petal dust was used to bring out the details and add a vintage feel. 

    Head shaped.

    The hair is made from a base piece of fondant then spirals I made on a toothpick are attached with a dampened paint brush. 

    I started by fitting base of dress into the frame, before adding bodice, arms and head. 

    And this is about when the panic of not being able to find my camera really set in and I stopped taking pics.

    The rest is joining the bits and bobs together and colouring with petal dusts and food marker. 

    I could contemplate now whether I should make a new years resolution now about "better tutorials", but for now I might just go with.... 


    Something quick and easy for Halloween treats and mix up some Chocolate Peanut Butter Spiders


    The Monkey's Paw cupcake

                                                             'The Monkey's Paw' cupcake

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    "The first man had his three wishes, yes," was the reply. "I don't know what the first two were, but the third was for death. That's how I got the paw."                          W. W. Jacobs 'The Monkey's Paw'

    The Monkey's Paw: Ahhh haaaa my step son Dan and I love this tale, a supernatural/horror story by W. W. Jacobs first published in England in 1902. 

    In the short story, three wishes are granted to the owner of the monkey's paw, but the wishes come with an enormous price for interfering with fate

    And proving yet again I've watched too many episodes of 'The Simpsons'...'Treehouse of Horror 2' season three, episode seven. 'The Monkeys Paw' :)

    The Monkey's Paw itself is described in the short story as "it's just an ordinary little paw, dried to a mummy."

    Ok, lets make a little mummified paw.

    I went with 50% fondant / 50% white modelling chocolate... I used "orange" just so the demo photos are clearer, that or I was thinking of Bart's shirt.  You could use 100% dark modellling chocolate and do away with colours. 

    Started with a ball

    Squished the ball on one side and roughly sliced my monkey "fingers" into the rounded opposite side. 

    Shaped my paw into what I thought I mummified monkeys paw would look like. I mainly used the toothpick to apply the details. 

    The wrist was trimmed at this stage and I added a jagged cuff cut from rolled 50/50 mixture. 

    After the paws were dry, I used a black food pen to mark out features then dusted with a little nutkin brown petal dust and finished with dogwood brown petal dust.  If you used 100% dark modelling chocolate, a brush of cocoa and drinking chocolate will add interest without have to add colourings.  

    Thread a toothpick into the palms of the paws and attach to your fondant or frosted cupcakes. 

    Happy Baking :) 

    You might also be interested in making a 'Catrina' for Day of the Dead.