Navigation
SEARCH
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    Sunday
    May242015

    Stilton Baby Blue Cheesecakes Rose's Alpha Bakers

    stilton baby blue cheesecakes 

    Join me on Facebook

    "It's feeling a lot like Christmas" ... Well that is when I usually have blue cheese, instead it's just me alone with the baby blue cheesecakes today, I've been stomped on by a flu virus for the past eight days.

    Now, not that my family and friends want me to have the flu, but I kind of think a least a couple were relieved they weren't partaking in blue cheese cheesecakes taste testing this week.  Sheeeesh, more for me then... I love blue cheese, and these little cheesecakes were just what the doctor ordered ha ha.... I'm allowed a bad joke quota due to slight flu delirium!!  

    stilton cheese

    Savoury desserts have been a foodie trend for the last couple of years and these 'Stilton baby blue cheescakes' fit the bill perfectly, with a touch of sugar combined with the umami of stilton cheese.

    Started the cheesecakes in the same way as last weeks 'Double Chocolate Oriolos' by oven toasting walnuts and then rubbing the warmed nuts in a clean tea towel to remove the skins.

    Silicone cupcake pans or a metal muffin pan were suggested, but since I have a mini cheescake pan I thought I'd use that following the pan preparation method in 'The Baking Bible' for the metal cupcake pan. making parchment circles for the bottom on my pan

    Seven grams of finely chopped walnuts were pressed into the base of each hole. 

    Cream cheese was beaten with cornflour, sugar and pinch of salt until soft and creamy. Sour cream, stilton cheese and eggs were added before the mix was ready for baking. You do have the choice at this stage on how much stilton you add, depending on how savoury you want to go.  

    15 minutes in a low oven, turn and another 15 result in super creamy (and rather rich) small baked cheesecakes. 

    I topped mine with roasted walnuts, pear slice (love the green skin/ripe pear flesh of packham pears) and drizzled rosemary infused honey to keep playing with the savoury/sweet theme.  Consider plum, pear, fresh fig, rhubarb (poached or compote), red grapes, celery, walnuts or honey as toppings. 

    Would I baker again?:  Yes

    Would I make any changes?: I'd probably use a locally produced blue cheese rather than the imported Stilton but other than that no. I think just the sheer volume of toppings that compliment the stilton baby blue cheesecakes will keep this recipe "fresh" and in my repertoire. 

    How it works; now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a week I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

    The Baking Bible


    Feel like making an Albert ??

     

    Monday
    May182015

    Double Chocolate Oriolos Rose's Alpha Bakers

                                                           double chocolate oriolos

    Hmm, two surprises with my second bake as an alpha baker from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'. One: why is this cookie entitled "double chocolate" when the "chocolate" comes in one form from cocoa? Two: Never would I have guessed that such an unassuming cookie could be so feather light in texture.  

    The light texture of the double chocolate oriolos cookie is bordering on ethereal, it disappears in a cloud of buttery cocoaness (not a word but should be)... pair with milk or better still an icy cold kahlua milk shake. 

    Three:  ok I didn't mention a three... but I skinned my walnuts today, now this might not rock your boat but for me it was an "ahhh haaaa" moment. Many times I've skinned hazelnuts by roasting in the oven and rubbing the heated nuts between a clean tea towel to the remove the brown skin, but I had never thought of doing it with walnuts until I read Rose's recipe. The bitterness: it stops the bitterness you sometimes get when baking with walnuts. 

    That's how the recipe starts, skinning your walnuts. 

    Cubed chilled butter is processed through cocoa, walnut, sugar mixture until absorbed. 

    The resulting dough was divided into three parts. Chilling is an important step in this recipe to ensure your cookies keep their shape.  

    Working with one disc of dough at the time and keeping the remainder chilled, I divided and rolled 12gram balls of dough. On your lined baking sheet you press each ball with a flat bottomed glass/tumbler that has been sprayed with cooking spray and dipped in granulated sugar.  

    Brush away any excess sugar on your tray with a soft brush before going into to bake.

    Yes, they might look unassuming but these cookies are a taste/texture treat. I made a double batch as I promised step son Dan that I will make him bourbon pecan butter balls with a pulversied batch of these cookies. 

    Would I bake again?: Yes

    Would I make any changes?: Goodness, maybe a pinch of salt to accentuate cocoa flavour... but I think if you are looking for a plain cocoa biscuit/cookie these are pretty perfect as they are.

    How it works; now I've joined the fabulous existing alpha bakers, once a week I will post about what I have baked from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'. This won't include the recipe due to copyright and publisher restrictions however, I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods.

     The Baking Bible

    Happy Baking :) 

    Liquorice Lovers!! here is your ice-cream recipe

    Pink drizzle isomalt how to... isomalt drizzles pretty and versatile sugar finish. 

    Wednesday
    May132015

    Yoghurt Cheese, suspended Tim Tams and more

    Raspberry Tim Tam cupcake with biscuit/cookie pieces suspended in cake batter. 

    1. Yoghurt Cheese used in cheesecake to replace sour cream 2.Smeared to accompany Indian spicy potato curry puffs 3. Rolled into balls and drizzled with flavoured olive oil to pair with breads 4. Yoghurt cheese left to drain overnight is firm enough to cut. 

    Answering your emails today: some are from ummm, months ago... I swear I'm much faster answering questions on Facebook

    Eve wrote March 31st.. "where do you get your cupcake papers from I like the one where you have the raven on there"  

    Answer: Hi Eve, the cupcake papers in mention are an older style, unfortunately they have been discontinued by Wilton some time ago. 

    Karen wrote April 9th.. "Can I replace sour cream with yogurt cheese in cheesecake recipes" and "do I just strain it and does it matter what type of yogurt?"

    Answer: Yes Karen you can replace sour cream with yoghurt cheese in cheesecakes, cake batters, dips etc. Yes, you just strain bought or homemade yoghurt.

    The way I do it is using the little box thingy (also known as Cuisipro Donvier Yogurt Cheese Maker ) it's plastic box with a stainless steel mesh insert.

    You can also use food grade muslin double or triple folded, put the yogurt into the muslin lift the whole lot into a strainer suspended over a bowl, cover loosely and refrigerate 2 hours to overnight depending how thick you want your cheese. The muslin needs to be washed, sterilised in boiling water and throughly dried before storage.

    I do it this way, spoon yoghurt (plain Greek yoghurt in this case) into box, top with lid and refrigerate 2 hours to overnight. 

    Here you can see how the yoghurt has shrunk down forming the yoghurt cheese. In the bottom of the container is the liquid whey which you can pop in a smoothie, use in baking or even feed it to your dogs. 

    About two to three hours for the consistency needed to *replace sour cream and over night to make balls and for yoghurt cheese that can be sliced. Yoghurt cheese can be used in plethora of sweet and savoury applications. 

    Muslin is better for homemade, very thin yoghurt or large quantities of yoghurt, the box is convenient and easy to clean for shop bought thicker/Greek yoghurt, full fat or light, suits smaller quantities 3 cups of yoghurt will yield 1 cup of yoghurt cheese when drained overnight.  

    To salt or not to salt: some people salt their yoghurt before straining. I prefer to leave the yoghurt plain and salt/season or sweeten the finished cheese.

    *even though you may have thick yoghurt to start with, a short drain to rid some the whey will give you a better substitute to sour cream than using yoghurt with no draining. 

    Kim Cu`c wrote April 3rd.. "I am new baker and want strawberry oreos to not melt away" Kim supplied a photo of her cupcakes where the oreo pieces dissolved and sunk during baking time. 

    Answer:  Goodness, Kim Cu' c you were way to hard onself in your mail, your cupcakes looked awesome!! It's a tiny baking error that we all made at one time, easy to fix :) I've used an Australian chocolate cream biscuit the Tim Tam to demonstrate "cookie suspension". 

    Break your cream filled cookie/biscuit into a small bowl and pop into freezer whilst you make your cake batter.

    Remove cookies from freezer add a teaspoon or two of flour and toss your cookie/biscuit pieces in that. Alternatively toss in sifted cocoa if you are making chocolate cake. 

    Fold the floured, chilled cookie/biscuit pieces through the cake batter and bake as per usual. 

    The flour stops the sinking and pieces will be evenly distributed, the chilling keeps the filling relatively in place for a confetti like finish. 

    The Steamer: General answer to all that have asked about the "steamer" I use on cakes... I don't know if I have worded the post incorrectly for some countries? I call it a "clothes/clothing steamer", it was what you would steam business shirts, suits, wedding dress or your curtains with. I'm happy to recommend books to a yoghurt cheese box but I cannot recommend an electric appliance I have never used in another country, sorry :( Original post that has caused the "what is it" confusion here

    My steamer came from K-Mart in Australia.

    Cuisipro Donvier Yogurt Cheese Maker from Kitchenware suppliers and Amazon of course Cuisipro Donvier Yogurt Cheese Maker

    Happy Baking :) 

    Make a Matcha cupcake 

    Monday
    May112015

    Dattelkonfekt The Baking Bible

                                               dattlelkonfekt 

    Join me on Facebook

    Dattelkonfekt: a German date and almond meringue confectionary (cookie) 

    Super excited that I will be joining the fabulous existing Rose's Alpha Bakers to bake the recipes from Rose Levy Beranbaum's 'The Baking Bible'.

    Rose Levy Beranbaum is the queen of cakes and an award-winning American baker, cookbook author and blogger. It's going to be fun :)

    .

    How it works; Once a week I will post about what I have baked, this won't include the recipe due to copyright however I will be posting how it went and photos of making/baking the gorgeous baked goods. 

    This won't affect the usual blog stories and there will be plenty of cupcakes, chocolate and sugar still to come.

    Today is my first entry 'Dattelkonfekt'... ummm, can't pronounce that at all...and I'm sugar rushing from too many morning dattlelkonfekt but here goes ....

    I needed dates and the supermarket had fresh, Californian fancy eating and a few brands of dried "cooking" dates. I went with Trident a Turkish grown date that is fairly "dry" as I thought this wouldn't add too much moisture to the meringue. 

    I started with processing almonds, dates and then it was time to make the meringue. 

    Rose's books are meticulously detailed to assist perfect baking, for example egg whites could be measured by "3 egg whites" or in imperial or metric weights. I went with metric.

    Interesting meringue method as it isn't taken to stiff peaks, after the dates and almonds were mixed into the meringue I filled a disposable pastry bag a third full and snipped the bottom ready to begin piping. I didn't use an icing/pastry tip as the mixture felt thick enough to pipe without one.

    There was the option to pipe the meringues onto oblaten a thin edible wheat based wafer that you may have come across before on the base of your Christmas Dutch and German cookies. I could only find multi coloured ones and I thought the cookies would look odd with bright pink and green, so I went with option two of baking on non stick paper lined trays. 

    They don't take long to bake and cool, what you end up with is a meringue "cookie" that has a crisp meringue exterior with a moist slight chewy interior... plus the crunch of nuts. 

    My step son Daniel and I thought they would be on the cloying side of sweet, with sugar and dates but they are not. When Dan ate his second one he was nodding in the universal "yep, these are good" way. I thought they were nice, perhaps a still a little sweet for me. 

    Would I bake again: Yes

    Would I make any changes: Yes, I'd add ground cardamom to pair with coffee after Indian food, Turkish food etc. Maybe for Christmas track down those oblaten bases and add orange zest along with ground coriander seeds. 

    That's it post one for Rose's Alpha Bakers done.  Haven't been to Rose's site? Real Baking with Rose Levy Beranbaum.  

    Happy Baking :) 

    Feel like making sugar springs? 

     

     

    Friday
    May012015

    Freeze dried fruit meringue 

    blackberry bash eton mess cupcake with freeze dried blackberry meringue and fresh tarragon 

    Join me on Facebook

    Ok, I confess. I did tell him they were lollies, my step son that is... when he was little and we were going to the city for the day I'd buy him a packet of freeze dried fruit for a treat.

    Freeze dried fruit is an awesome patisserie ingredient, with the intense flavour and natural colour of fresh real fruit and slight "fizz/sherbet" mouth feel. 

    Freeze dried fruit powders come in a plethora of fruit, veg and herbs, whole, pieces and powder. 

    You can use freeze dried fruit powders in all of your favourite frostings from buttercreams to seven minute, just add a few teaspoons of powder (or to taste) in the last minute on mixing.  

    freeze dried black berry whipped cream

    Ganache and whipped cream you betcha :) The more creamy, the more fat your mixture contains the more powder you will have to use. The resulting flavours aren't as intense as "meringue" but still add a flavour boost. 

    Macaron shells and meringues come to life with a fresh flavour burst of chosen fruit. Think pavlovas, meringue based roulades and souffles too. 

    Cookies, biscuits, cake batters, tart and pie crusts can all be flavoured/coloured with freeze dried fruit powder. I made the best ever passionfruit shortbread last Christmas thanks the to addition of freeze dried passionfruit powder. 

    Wake up your breakfast by adding freeze dried fruit powders or pieces to your homemade granola, stir through yoghurt, add to your waffle batter or add a spoonful to your smoothie. 

    One of my favourite uses for freeze dried fruit powder is just flavouring sugar. Here castor sugar/super fine is flavoured with freeze dried berry powder and used for donut coating sugar. Flavoured sugar; a few teaspoons of freeze dried fruit powder per cup of sugar, mix and then store in an airtight jar. Use as required on you tea cakes, pancakes, donuts and the like. 

    Blackberry meringue

    You can use any meringue recipe italian, french or swiss... just add powder in last, about a tablespoon for 3-4 egg whites.

    Pre heat oven to 90cel  (194F) 

    line baking tray with non stick paper

    4 egg whites are room temperature

    220g (7.75oz) caster sugar (superfine)

    I pinch of cream of tartar

    10 to 15 grams (0.35 to 0.50oz) of freeze dried blackberry powder

    Whisk egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, gradually add sugar until combined, add blackberry powder and continue to whisk until thick and glossy.

    Spread onto prepared tray and bake for one and a half to two hours. Turn oven off and leave in oven until cool about another 2 hours.  

    Bash or break pieces off to stir through chantilly (vanilla) whipped cream with fresh berries for you eton mess. Either serve in small glasses, a giant bowl or fill cored cupcakes with the mixture. 

    I used fresh tarragon to add, ummm well "freshness" and the herbal aniseed flavours compliments the blackberries beautifully. 

    Haven't used freeze fruit before? Then I would suggest you start with raspberries, whole, bits or powder or passionfruit powder. Unless you are growing your own, both these give you the most bang for you buck and they are popular too!  

    A note on colours; blackberry, blueberry and black currant all give a "purple colour range", for pink or red use raspberry, sometimes the strawberry powder whilst tasting of fresh strawberries gives you an orange colour hue.

    Pros:   intense concentrated real fruit flavour, intense natural colour, slight fizz, a little goes a long way, your not adding excess liquid to you mixes, enjoy fruit out of season. Whole freeze dried fruits can be ground to powder or broken into small bits. 

    Cons:  cost, it's not inexpensive, powders will clump, pieces soften if exposed to moisture... silica sachets recommended if you buy a larger quantity than a sachet. 

    Where to get it is going to depend on where you are located: places to look specialty supermarkets and food stores, health food stores, patisserie supplies store. Seek out local growers for supreme quality. 

    New Zealand: Fresh As this brand is available to ship to Australia and also available from gourmet grocer online  

    Australia: The Essential Ingredient Sydney, Melbourne and online    

    Tastebom has a nice range, as does Melbourne Food Depot 

    US:  Amazon  

    Happy Baking :)  

    You might also be interested in red plum fruit caviar 

    or an easy white chocolate plastique

    Saturday
    Mar282015

    Four and Twenty Blackbirds baked in a Pie cupcake

                            four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie cupcake

    Join me on Facebook

    Ahhhh ha ha, I was so tempted to make a cupcake from the original verse from 'Sing a Song of Sixpence' ...

    Sing a Song of Sixpence,
    A bag full of Rye,
    Four and twenty Naughty Boys,
    Baked in a Pye.
    Tommy Thumbs Pretty Song Book: published in London around 1744  wikipedia

    Instead I went with the modern to version to tie in with this cute retro pie bird from Tala that my friend Jacinta gave me.

    Thanks Jacinta, I love my pie bird :) 

    Live birds inside pies were actually served as an entremet during dinners in the 1500's. An "amusement" between courses, written about in Christoforo Ji Messiaburgo's cookbook on how to prepare a banquet, 'Banchetti composizioni di vivande e apparecchio generale'.

    Today's cupcake uses simple shapes, I've made a smaller cupcake but you could use a variation of the same design in a larger cake.

    I use the heavily fondanted (that's not a word, but you know what I mean) cupcakes as place setting markers, or central cake surrounded by the eating cupcakes.

    For a nursery rhyme theme go with the other verses, perhaps golden foil wrapped chocolate coins for...

    The king was in his counting house,
    Counting out his money;

    Mini honey cakes for...

    The queen was in the parlour,
    Eating bread and honey

    Start making today's cupcake by covering your ganached or butter cream topped cupcake with a thin layer of fondant. Today I use americolor ivory for the "pastry" colour. 

    Here I was still deciding what size bird head to go with, small if you want 24 birds in the pie or larger if you want the pie bird look.  

    Make your beaks, heads, cherries, wings etc with coloured fondant. I used a black food marker for the centre of the eyes and white food colour on the tip of a tooth pick to create a highlight on the eyes. 

    Roll more ivory coloured fondant out thinly and cut a circle big enough to cover the already fondant covered cupcake. Dampen the edges of most of the round (leave a little undampened so you can lift edge if you want a bird popping it's head out). Crimp the edges. 

    Cut, snip and generally poke holes through the top layer of fondant where you want your beaks, birds etc to be. Colour fondant using petal dusts and a small soft artists brush. I used Caroline's petal dusts, in brown, egg yellow and cream.  

    Fun part now... start inserting all your little pieces. Use a dampened paintbrush, water pen or cake glue to attach your pieces. Allow to dry and you've got your self a cute little cupcake that could be part of a major theme for your baby shower or the like event. 

    Happy Baking :) 

    Trivia: Four and Twenty pies are the iconic Australian meat pie synonymous with attending a football match. 

    Prefer a more realistic black bird... learn to a make a Raven

    Butterflies more your thing, learn to make a beaded sugar butterfly 

    Friday
    Mar202015

    Come on get Happy Partridge Family cupcakes

                                                  come on get happy partridge family cupcakes

    Join me on Facebook 

    Ear worm: An earworm, sometimes known as a brainworm, is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person's mind after it is no longer playing  wikipedia 

    Isn't it the worst thing (ok not the worst thing, but come with me here) when a song or jingle gets stuck in your head. 

    I saw a bright yellow fluffy Easter chick in a half shell at the supermarket, that made me think of The Partridge Family opening credits, which led me to singing in my head 'C'mon get Happy' for the rest of the day. I didn't know all the lyrics so it was "Hello world dah duh dah GET HAPPY" :D  

    Having a 70's theme party? Or perhaps you mum still has her David Cassidy posters and you want to make her some partridges...   

    fondant coloured with blue, yellow and red

    Trivia; the artwork on the partridge family bus was inspired by the work of Piet Mondrian a dutch artist 1872-1944 

    Start with brightly colouring your fondant, I've used Americolor gel pastes today: electric blue, yellow, pink, purple, red red for the fondant and bright white for the toothpicks I used for the legs. A black food marker was used for the eyes. 

    My partridges shaped from white fondant are "chubby" because I thought it was cuter. 

    I started with this shape and pulled the top over to one side. Insert half a white food colour painted toothpick for each leg on the small partridges. 

    toothpicks painted with white food colour... make sure people know there is toothpicks in these cakes

    Roll out your pre coloured fondant, cut into tear drop shapes (for the large bird I used a round cutter and trimmed to shape). Dampen the back of your partridges and apply coloured fondant shapes. Draw eyes on with a black food marker. Insert the birds into prepared cakes. Roll a small piece of white fondant into a snake shape, cut small pieces off to make birds feet. Apply feet by slightly dampening ends and pressing on base of legs, use a spare tooth pick to secure the feet in place.  

    All done except for song 'C'mon get Happy'  

    and Happy Baking :)  

    Chocolate Hot Cross buns anyone? Recipe here

    Planting an Easter garden you will need quick chocoalte soil 

    Saturday
    Mar072015

    Game of Thrones Cookies and Bee Mead

    Game of Thrones honey spiced cookies

     Join me on Facebook

    Dang!!! You know I love a geek shop, and Warpzone Prints is a geeky cookie cutter paradise. The store sells a plethora of cutters including Harry Potter, Dr. Who, retro movie monsters, Bill Nye the science guy and today's Game of Thrones cutters. If your looking for something to wash down today's cookies, scroll right down to Bee Mead :) 

    Making stamped cookies; I've adapted my cookies from a Martha Stewart recipe for sugar cookies, but you could use your favourite sugar cookie recipe and reduce or even omit the baking powder. 

    Stamped Honey and Spice Sugar Cookies
    Makes about about 30
    Ingredients
    • 2 cups sifted plain flour (all-purpose) flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/4 tsp ground allspice or ground cardamom  
    • 2 tablespoons of *honey 
    • 1/2 cup butter (well softened)
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    Extras: 
    An extra bowl of flour to flour rolling pin, bench and cookie cutters. 
    A soft new toothbrush or other small cleaning brush to clean cutters. 
    Enough room in your freezer to slide in cookie trays to chill dough cut outs. 
    Method
    1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, spices and baking powder. Set aside.
    2. In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg & honey beat until smooth, 1 minute.
    3. Add reserved flour mixture, and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Stir in vanilla. Wrap dough in plastic, and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.
    4. Position two racks in oven; preheat oven to 160 Celsius (325 degrees). Line two baking trays with baking paper or a non-stick baking mat; set aside.
    5. On a well-floured work surface, roll out chilled dough to 0.3 cm (1/8 inch) thick (you can roll between two sheets of non stick paper if you prefer). Stamp out cookies with your floured cookie cutters. With a metal spatula, transfer whole cookies to the prepared baking trays. Brush off excess flour with a small brush. the center details of the cutters are weaker, stamp your cookies with gentle but even pressure.
    Flouring your cutters and cookie spatula will make working the dough that much easier.
    Brush off excess flour with a small artists brush
    .

    6. Transfer baking tray to the *freezer, and chill until cookie dough is firm, about 15 minutes. Place the baking tray in the oven, and bake cookies for 6 to 10 minutes. 

    7. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 3 minutes, and then use a metal spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days. 
    * left your cookie cutouts too long in the freezer and they are frozen? Don't worry, just bake them a few minutes longer. 

    *I used honey in these cookies, when you are baking with honey you will  notice your baked goods will brown more quickly... keep an eye on them, particularly if your stamped cookie has small protruding parts like wolves ears. 

    Hand wash your cutters in warm soapy water, using a soft toothbrush/small cleaning brush to clean dough still left in details.

    Friends and family took the opportunity to partake in a Bee Mead tasting last week. Pure Australian Clover Honey is combined with New Zealand Manuka honey to produce this light and refreshing take on mead. "Refreshing" was the word coined by everyone that tried it. If you are a mead connoisseur Bee Mead probably isn't going to hit the spot with you, but for the rest of us I can't think of a better "Games of Thrones"  season returns beverage. Bee Mead is a clear lightly sparkling, ciderish and meadish (my blog I can make up words!!) with final note of honey tasting drink. My stepson Dan thought it was highly drinkable, with not too much sweetness. My friend Jacinta thought it was surprising (in a good way), light and refreshing.  Bee Mead is available in honey, honey ginger and lime/lemon.... we tried the honey. Serve well chilled or over ice.... in your Game of Thrones goblet of course.   Pop over to the Bee Mead website for more information.  Dan Murphy's is selling it in Australia. 

    Happy Baking :) 

    In the mood for honey? Honey Joy cupcakes here

    Sunday
    Feb012015

    Brûlée crusted Fig cupcake 

    Brûlée crusted Fig cupcake 

    Join me on Facebook

    Fresh fruit brulee crust ... yummm!

    Not too exciting if you are located in the UK but for Australian's "Yay" a range of Billingtons Sugar is available from Woolworths (at least in Victoria). The range includes the much coveted muscovado and golden caster sugar. 

    Now you can bake cake, desserts and the like from your Nigella, Jamie, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood books without substituting ingredients. Plus the golden caster sugar makes for a fabulous brûlée crust when sprinkled on cut fresh fruit and given a quick torch. 

    Sprinkling cut fruit with *golden caster sugar and "torching" makes for a quick dessert cupcake topper.

    Whether from a kitchenware store or the hardware shop, mini blow torches make quick work of melting sugar into a caramel crust.

    Very ripe fruits only hold the brûlée for a few minutes before they start to dissolve into a lovely caramelly drizzle... perfect topper for dessert cupcakes, cheesecake or even a pavlova. My stepson (when he was old enough to wield a torch) loved making brûlée crusted banana slices to serve with vanilla ice-cream. Brûlée fruit is wickedly good on cornflakes, your porridge or morning yoghurt. 

    Today I used fresh figs, but halves of small ripe plums, or apricots, wedges of fresh peach, banana slices, orange segments and the like make a fab quick dessert. Cupcake bases that work well include almond sponge, vanilla sponge or butter cake, spiced and nut flour cakes. Ummm, something creamy for the topping is good, whipped cream, cream fraiche, a yoghurt whipped cream combo or perhaps your favourite butter cream. 

    Have your cupcakes ready and just before serving lay you pieces of fruit cut side up on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with golden caster sugar, liberally (but don't go crazy!!). Light your torch, pass the flame over the sugared fruit pieces (almost like spray painting, even sweeps) holding the tip of your torch 7-8 cm (around 3 inches) away from the sugar. You sugar will start to bubble and caramelise. All done,  just wait a few minutes before handling, sugar drips burn! Enjoy. 

    Happy Baking :)

    * can't get golden caster sugar? raw or white caster sugar work well or just plain white sugar in a pinch.  

    Ready to stretch your sugar skills? How about a toffee dipped hazelnuts or banana chips how to...

    Want to know more about brown sugar? Updated chart here 

    Thursday
    Jan292015

    Only a Time Lord knows what season it is cupcake

    'Only a Time Lord knows what season it is' Doctor Who cupcake

    Join me on Facebook

    You haven't even got time to put away your Christmas hat and it's time for Easter, well that's according to Australias major retailers. Hot Cross Buns and Easter Eggs have been on sale since January 5th. Easter Sunday is April 5th, Easter now runs a quarter of the year???

    Waiting in the queue at the supermarket... on the right of me a clearance rack of candy canes, on the left of me freshly baked hot cross buns, not forgetting the racks of foil wrapped chocolate easter eggs and the gaudy (or romantic... but it's the supermarket queue and romance isn't in the air) Valentines day cards.  

    But I did love Peter Capaldi in his first season as the Doctor in BBC's Doctor Who. So today we have a Time Lord figure. He started when I was practicing figure modelling and ended up being a center display cupcake for a Doctor Who cookie platter. 

    "Practice" it's boring I know, but it's how you get better. 

    I started with a print out of Peter Capaldi photos as the Doctor.

    Here is an earlier model of Peter Capaldi when I was toying with the idea of full caricature. The day was warm and he was still very soft and his hair is not attached as I was checking height.  I chickened out on the over blown features and went for a partial caricature... even then he had an eye removed and replaced after it looked, umm well I think the technical term would be "squiffy":) 

    You have to be fast!!! When working with fondant you have to be fast, drying time is in minutes for modelling. I used a 3 parts fondant to one part modelling chocolate to give me another 5 to 10 minutes to finish face. 

    Green: the green fondant here shows you the basic "eggish" shape most heads start with. I get ready with all the other pieces, such a nose, ears, eyebrows etc. You will have a series of wedges, beans, ovals and snake shapes. Then you start putting together and sculpting your head. I apply pieces with a small damp brush then use modelling tools and fingers to shape. You can give yourself a few more minutes by keeping pieces covered in glad wrap.

    If you don't use modelling chocolate mixed with fondant you might find yourself with the dreaded "elephant skin" as the fondant icing dries. 

    I use Bakels white fondant almost exclusively, colour with gel paste. CMC powder was mixed in the black and red fondant to firm.  

    Have fun, happy baking and do give modelling a figure a try :) 

    Proving I'm a bit of a sucker for a huge topper ... make  Eric the Valentine Emu

    or try a 'Love Caramel Cupcake'