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    Friday
    Oct122012

    New release Cake, Cookie and Baking Books

    Yes, it's that time of year for a sneak peak at the new and upcoming baking book releases.

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    Starting with a book that is not strictly "baking", but you know it will include baking as we are talking about much anticipated first book by the brilliant blogger Deb Perelman, yes it's the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. The 336 page book has over 100 mostly new recipes, (with some of your favourites in there too) and hundreds of colour photos.

    Oh my goodness don't know Deb's work, then rush over to her blog  ...hang on a sec, stay around and read my blog post first :P 

    UK or Australian, our release date is next year. Can't wait? Amazon (US) has the book for preorder now for a October 30 release date  The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook 

    This next book makes me smile just thinging about it. Bakerella the queen of cake pops, has a holiday book coming out October 17 aptly named 'Cake Pops Holidays' this title contains more than 40 holiday mini treats. How cute are those polar bears on the cover!! Watch Bakerella herself intro Cake Pops Holidays...

    'Decorating Cookies 60+ designs for holidays, celebrations and everyday' was released this week. Not only do you get the expertise of author/blogger Bridget Edwards of Bake at 350the book also includes guest appearances by five guest-star baker-bloggers each share a special decorating technique: Amanda Rettke of i am baker, Marian Poirer of Sweetopia, Gail Dosik of One Tough Cookie, Meaghan Mountford of The Decorated Cookie, and Callye Alvarado of The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle. A must have book for the cookie inclined. 

    Jeanne Sauvage of Art of Gluten-Free Baking  is releasing her book 'Gluten-free Baking for the Holidays' this month. The 168 page book makes for a perfect gift for gluten intolerant baker on your Christmas list, but I want it to whip up gluten-free holiday treats for friends. 

    Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays: 60 Recipes for Traditional Festive Treats

    Moving away from bloggers and onto celebrity cupcakey ladies with your favourite sister act from DC Cupcakes. Yes, Katherine and Sophie have a new book for the holiday season... would make a lovely Christmas gift for a fan or if you are unfamiliar with the girls there is a very good preview of this book on Amazon's 'look inside' feature, you can read the index, see samples of recipes and their signature frosting swirl.  Sweet Celebrations: Our Favorite Cupcake Recipes, Memories, and Decorating Secrets That Add Sparkle to Any Occasion

     

    Didn't think I needed another Peggy Porschen book and then she goes and writes one where the emphasis is more on afternoon tea. There is a chapter on sweet treats, one on cupcakes and many more delicious sounding baked goods. *Hint, hint loved ones... I want this book! This book has already been released in the UK market and is well reviewed on UK Amazon Due for release in the US November 29th... note the different cover pic for the US market.

     

    Adore. Adore Thomas Keller. From the 'French Laundry Cookbook' to 'Ad Hoc at Home', Thomas Keller is a rare combination of a fine chef and a fine writer. That's why the 'Bouchon Bakery' being released October 23rd is my one must have this year!

     

    Not from the UK? You may not know who Paul Hollywood is, unless you have caught the "The Great British Bake Off" on cable. This silver fox is strict, a touch arrogant, charming and one fabulous baker. This book is well reviewed and includes a good "look inside" feature on Amazon UK.

    Also available on Amazon US How to Bake  Watch Paul intro his book and make flatbread....

     I must admit I'm a bit of a sucker for single subject cookbooks and even though I have no idea who 'Miss Madeleine' is; the promise of these little tea cakes, plain ones, dipped ones, gluten-free ones, vegan ones and chocolate ones was too much for me and I have ordered a copy.  We Love Madeleines Amazon US

    Another single subject book in the 'Secrets of Eclairs'. I saw a friends copy of this book during the week, nice. Clear instructions on baking eclair shells, lots of tips, flavours, variations of fillings and toppings. Though, some ingredients such as liquid fondant may not be easily available in some places. This book would suit a more adventurous baker. Amazon UK.

    available from secondary sellers Amazon US Secrets of Eclairs

    An Australian books rounds out the list; the 'Sweet Studio' by Darren Purchese. Australians would know Darren from his appearance on MasterChef. Watch Darren and have a sneak peak at the gorgeous Chapel st Bakery.

    the book is available for preorder from Fishpond (AU) and Amazon US Sweet Studio

    Have I missed you favourite new release? Let me know in the comments section or find me on Facebook

    Happy Baking :)

    Thursday
    Oct112012

    Caramel Cashew White Chocolate Cookies

    caramel cashew white chocolate cookies

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    Mini cookies with a big caramel flavour today :) 

    I love the Christmas season; minimalists decide there is no such thing as too much tinsel, elegant women don flashing ruldolph pins (there might be Christmas cocktails involved in this), ditto with baking where your famous 85% chocolate fondant will be replaced with more than one can of sweetened condensed milk in some Christmassy treat.

    For me, I don't usually shop the commerical lollies isle... but at Christmas if it can be crushed, melted or thrown in whole it's included. 

    Today I utilised hard butter candies (Werther's Original) for their unmistakable caramel flavour and Nestle caramel bits, which are new to the Australian market. Oh, plus white chocolate and cashews "just because". 

    Nestle caramel bits and Werther's Original butter candies

    Caramel Cashew White Chocolate Mini Cookies 

    makes 4 to 5 dozen, plenty to pack up for Christmas gift giving

    Ingredients
    1 cup of Nestle caramel bits (caramel choc chips)
    1 cup white eating chocolate chopped into small chunks
    2 Werther's Original 50gram (1.75oz) rolls of butter candy  *ground to a fine powder
    1 cup dry roasted unsalted cashew nuts, roughly chopped
    2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp baking powder
    250g well-softened unsalted butter (1 cup)
    2/3 cup light brown sugar
    1/4 cup dark brown sugar
    1/2 cup granulated white sugar
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract or essence
    2 tbsp water
    1 egg
    *I thought it would nice to include "bits" of candy, but as you can see from batch one... the candy melted/popped. Batch two; I ground the candies to a powder in the food processor to get the result I wanted. 

     

     Method

    Preheat the oven to 180C (360F).

    Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.·

    In a mixer, cream the butter and the three types of sugar. Add the vanilla extract, water and egg. Beat together until just incorporated.

    Beat in the flour mixture until just combined.

    Stir in the crushed/powdered candies, chocolate chunks, caramel bits, cashews. Drop small teaspoons of the mixture, well spaced, on to non-stick baking parchment.

     

    Three types of sugar used, dark brown, light brown and granulated white, you can replace dark with light if you can't find any at your local store.

    Bake for 6-8 minutes until golden around the edges. Cool on tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

    Happy Baking :) 

    You might also be interested in brown sugar and making your own 

    Monday
    Oct082012

    Dried Chicken Dog Treats

                                                           dried chicken treats

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    Oh my goodness, we have a naughty pug. A pug that grabs your mobile phone and runs like the wind, a pug that unrolls all the toilet paper, a pug that chews EVERYTHING.  According to the vet and the inhome dog trainer (yes, that's what stage we up to) it's the humans not Gallifrey the pug. And so we train Gallifrey, and train Gallifrey, and train Galifrey. 

    Gallifrey the naughty pug

    Pugs can quickly turn into piglets with too many treats, the vet suggested baking chicken treats and breaking them into small pieces for the times that we are training Gallifrey.... I bake a lot of these treats!!!

    If you have a dehydrator follow the manufacturers instructions, but those who don't (like me) here is how to bake them.

    Dried Chicken Dog Treats

    pre heat oven to 120c (250F)

    Ingredients

    chicken breasts

    Method

    Partially freeze your chicken breasts to make slicing easier. Slice the chicken breasts lengthwise as thinly as possible. 

    thinly sliced chicken breast

    Lay the chicken breast pieces out on a baking tray lined with baking paper or on a non stick baking mat. 

    Bake chicken pieces for 45 minutes, turn the pieces over and continue to bake until deep golden brown.

    Cool on baking rack.

    Break into small pieces for training treats. 

    Store in an airtight container for up to one month.

    Happy Baking and may your doggie be well trained :)

    Saturday
    Oct062012

    Hard Boiled Egg Moulds

    Bet you've always thought "If only my hard boiled egg was shaped like a bunny"... now you can! With the help of an egg press.

    Whether destined for your bento box to ward off the afternoon blues at the office or as a healthy snack for the kids on the weekend, these are fun to make and sooooo cute! 

    The only tricky bit is peeling a hot hard boiled egg, but once it's peeled put your egg in your bunny or bear mould; press down and clip. You then put the whole mould into a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Unclip your mould to your smiley bunny. Good for animal shaped sushi rice too.

    These make fabulous cake pop moulds as well, albeit they are on the large size but a single bear for a baby shower favour in a cello bag with complimentary ribbon would make a lovely take home treat.

    If your not a foodie what about using them to press bath bombs for Christmas gifts?

    Ideal inexpensive stocking fillers, pop one, two or three in with your next Amazon order ...  Kotobuki Plastic Egg Mold, Rabbit and Bear 

    Happy Baking :) 

    Friday
    Oct052012

    Fast Bubble Sugar Cupcake Decorations

                 mini cupcake topped with bubble sugar (isomalt) topper

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    Well, you know I love a bubble sugar decoration... today an even faster way to produce *isomalt bubble sugar toppers. 3 minute baking time, cool and taaa daaa you have bubble sugar toppers for your cupcakes and plated desserts.

    For this method use CakePlay isomalt sticks or left over cooked isomalt. Ideally two Silpat baking mats but two good quality silicone mats will do. 

    CakePlay sticks are precooked isomalt, available in clear and a range of colours. I used left over cooked isomalt that had already been coloured with americolor electric shades. 

    Method

    Pre heat oven to 180c (355 F)

    Grind a few sticks or left over isomalt in a mortar and pestle (or zip lock bag and a rolling pin) until you have a fine powder. Isomalt shatters quickly with little effort.

    Sift the crushed isomalt over your first Silpat. Reverse the second Silpat and place on top of the crushed isomalt to create a "sandwich". 

    Bake 3 to 4 minutes in preheated oven. Remove from oven and allow to cool without lifting the top Silpat.

    Once cool peel back the top Silpat and break bubble sugar into shards. Wearing gloves will protect the pieces from fingerprinting. Pieces are tissue paper thin, yet sturdy enough to handle. 

    Happy Baking :)

    Coca cola cupcake topped with traditional bubble sugar, where hot sugar is poured over a tilted alcohol covered tray.

    *Why Isomalt??: Bubble sugar made from sugar tends to be a thicker and we don't want to take out someone's crowns when they are eating your cupcake. The isomalt method is alcohol free. Isomalt holds up better than sugar work, that said it's always best to top your cakes/desserts just before serving.

    Got a question? Join me on Facebook for the fastest reply.

    You might also like to see another method of making bubble sugar with isomalt...

    Baking isomalt powder bubble sugar

    Or try your hand at toffee springs 

    Wednesday
    Oct032012

    Shark Nuggets

    panko crumbed shark nuggets

    Order 'Fish n' Chips' in my home state of Melbourne it's most likely going to include fillets of 'flake'; flake is a generic term used here for shark, usually gummy shark. Gummy shark is a popular eating fish for it's boneless plump white fillets and mild flavour. 

    Two flake and chips from our local fish and chip shop

    Mustelus antarcticus 'Gummy sharks'

    wikipedia

    Gummy sharks are small variety of shark with a minimum catch size of 45cm (about 18 inches), making them a popular with weekend fisherman.

    Today I'm making panko crumbed shark nuggets. Served with a chilli lime mayo, you might prefer sweet chilli sauce or tomato sauce (ketchup) for the kids. 

    Method

    Cut the flake fillet (preferably Gummy) into bite sized pieces. 

    Dip pieces in seasoned plain flour (all purpose), shake off excess. Dip into beaten egg, allow excess to drip off. Roll in Panko or breadcrumb of choice. 

    Shallow fry in batches for 3 to 4 minutes depending on the size of the your pieces, allow a test piece to break open and check if it is cooked. Your looking for the fish to have changed colour and be white throughout and still juicy.

    Drain on paper towel.

    Serve with salad, as part of a Japanese meal or as an appetiser with drinks. 

    Happy Baking, or in this case frying :)

    Monday
    Oct012012

    Chocolate Scones

                                       chocolate chip hazelnut scones

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    I didn't go to high school, I went to a technical school which is a trade school. We had no english, literature, history, geography classes, learnt no languages, no grammar (you've just had that ahhh haaa moment haven't you?) instead we had the all encompassing "humanities class". Then there was shop classes, yes I learnt woodwork, sheet metal, electrical practice and so on... plus cooking. In cooking class we made preserves, fondant covered fruit cakes, choux pastry, doughs and everything in between including copious batches of scones.

    I made this scone cutter in sheetmetal class, I still use it to this day

    This is a tradional scone dough like I made at school, the type where the butter is rubbed in, with the addition of dark cocoa powder and Nestle choc bits that my step son Daniel liked to add to every single thing we baked when he was little. 

    Chocolate Scones 

    rich and chocolately but not over sweet, top with nutella or cherry jam and whipped cream... don't forgot an expresso or a cup of strong tea 

    Pre heat oven to 180c (360F) 

    line a baking tray with a non stick baking paper

    Ingredients

    2 1/2 cups self-raising flour (self rising flour)

    1/2 cup dark cocoa powder

    pinch of salt

    1/2 cup castor sugar (superfine sugar)

    80g of chilled butter cubed (2.8oz) 

    1 cup of milk ... plus a little more if needed

    250g bag Nestle dark choc bits (8.8oz dark choc chips)

    1/2 cup of toasted skinned and roughly chopped hazelnuts *you can leave them out if you don't like nuts

    Plus a little cocoa sifted through flour to sprinkle on bench top

    Method

    Sift together the flour, cocoa, castor sugar and salt into a bowl. Add the chilled butter and rub through with your finger tips until it resembles breadcrumbs. 

    Make a well in the centre and add milk, choc bits and nuts. Use a butter knife or flat bladed metal spatula to lightly mix the ingredients into a soft dough. If it seems a little dry, add another tablespoon of milk.

    Turn out the dough onto bench top that you first sprinkled with flour/cocoa. Don't knead the dough, but rather softly pat together. Pat or lightly roll the dough until it is 2cm (a little under 1 inch) thick. 

    Using a 5 cm (2 inch) round cutter, cut scones and transfer to lined baking tray. Lightly pat or roll together extra dough between batches. 

    Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm with topping of choice.

    Happy Baking :) 

     you might also be interested in quick chocolate dessert 

    Thursday
    Sep272012

    Dan the Shrunken Head Halloween Cupcake

                     Dan the shrunken head halloween cupcake

    I've been drying chicken in the oven for dog treats this week, the pugs love the shrunken pieces... and yep, this is segue into today's shrunken head cupcake.

    Firstly, don't stress about your sculpting skills when you whip up shrunken heads of your hubby, boss or teenagers... you really just need to pick up a few identifiable features. 

    Here is Dan, my step son. I could have put his hair shape and beard on a ping pong ball and people would have still said "it's Daniel". Sooo, a bald head, eye glasses, big ears, red hair, curly hair or maybe a nose ring will make up the features of your shrunken head. 

    Dan's shrunken head started with this basic shape modelled from a 50/50 modelling paste/modelling chocolate combination.

    It's easy with modelling chocolate to smooth and blend joins (like the top of Dan's nose), the heat of your fingers will do it. The addition of modelling paste or fondant with CMC powder added will make sure your piece dries firmly, important if you are living in a warmer climate.  

    The bonus of making Halloween shrunken heads and zombies is that if a bit doesn't look right you just give it a squeeze or break a bit off, "it's shrunken". 

    Have fun.

    Happy Baking :) 

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    You might also be interested in an easy white modelling chocolate recipe

    Wednesday
    Sep262012

    Liquorice Lovers Ice-Cream Recipe

                          liquorice lovers ice-cream

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    Sad to hear that Darrell Lea is closing it's remaining 27 stores this month. The iconic Australian Chocolate and lolly maker has been producing much loved treats such as Soft Eating Liquorice and Rocklea Road® since 1927. However, all is not lost, under the new ownership Darrell Lea stands in local supermarkets and the like will continue to stock your favourites. 

    For my Dad it's the original soft eating liquorice, soft sweet, rich with molasses and just a touch of salt. This ice-cream recipe today is for you Dad. 

    Darrell Lea soft eating liquorice 

    Liquorice Lovers Ice-Cream

    you'll need an ice-cream machine for this recipe

    Ingredients

    200g good quality soft eating liquorice, cut into pieces

    5 large egg yolks

    1 cup milk

    2 cups of thickened cream (in Australia this is whipping cream with a 35% milk fat content)

    3/4 cup sugar

    black food colour

    *a prepared ice-bath... which consists of a bowl (or it could be your kitchen sink) with ice cubes in it. This is to speed even cooling of the custard mixture... you don't want to end up with scrambled eggs!!

    cut liquorice

    In a medium saucepan warm the milk, half the cream, sugar and the liquorice pieces. Bring to a simmer, remove pan from heat, cover and let cool.

    strain mixture and discard liquorice pieces

    Once cool, strain liquorice/cream mixture into a clean saucepan. Discard liquorice pieces.

    In a medium bowl whisk egg yolks together. In a seperate bowl pour in the remaining one cup of chilled cream.

    Gently heat the strained liquorice/cream mixture until it is just warm. Pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan over a medium heat, stir constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon.

    the second straining step picks up any egg residue left in the mix

    Strain the custard through a fine seive into the chilled cream. Add black food colour if desired.

    adding black food colour

    after food colour is added

    Stir constantly over the ice bath until mixture starts to cool, place bowl in refrigerator or freezer to chill completely. 

    Once chilled churn in an ice-cream machine according to manufacturers instructions. Let the the ice-cream "ripen" by storage in the freezer overnight before eating.

    *Note... I haven't added salt to the recipe as the liquorice released enough salt, however if the liquorice you are using is particularly sweet add a pinch of salt to the cream mixture at the start.

    Happy Baking :) 

    you might also be interested in baci chocolate ice-cream

    or what about combed chocolate curls

    Monday
    Sep242012

    Attack of the Swamp Zombie cupcake

                                attack of the swamp Zombie cupcake

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    The dietician on talk back radio was saying "don't deny your chocolate cravings just buy a Freddo Frog instead of a whole block of chocolate"... first thing I thought... hope that includes cream frogs! 

    Some might consider 1950's sci fi and horror films schlock; I prefer to think of them as little gems, their black and white film reels disguised with bright and lurid poster art.

    1950's poster art

    Besides they are so much fun and a great inspiration for Halloween cupcakes. Today's cupcake relies on "a hand", it can be a zombie, a sea creature or perhaps an alien hand. Make your hands with fondant or modelling paste the night before you need them, insert a tooth pick or a piece of dry spaghetti amd the leave to dry. Next day pop them in your fondant, iced or frosted cupcakes and they are ready to hold your treat of choice.

    I used Cadbury Cream Freddo's, they come in Strawberry or Peppermint. 

    Just before serving I broke the Peppermint filled Freddo Frogs to allow for the right amount of Halloween goo. 

    Happy Baking :)