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    Entries in black (24)

    Wednesday
    Apr262017

    Alsatian Onion Pizza

                                    Mini Alsatian Onion Pizzas

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    Winter is coming!! Or at least Autumn is here. The skies have darkened and the driveway is strewn with leaves, a perfect time to catch up with friends for Alasatian pizza and a glass of red before winter arrives! 

    Alsatian pizza also known as tarte flambée, French pizza, or flammekueche depending which side of the border you're on. It's an onion topped flatbread/pizza, not common with caramelised onion but doubly tasty because of it. The Alsatian pizza often has bacon on top, sometimes with sour cream, fromage blanc or crème fraîche underneath the onion. A pizza known for it's wood oven charred edges, it's just as delicious made in a home oven. 

    Using Rose's Alsatian pizza recipe from the excellent "The Bread Bible", Rose varies from the standard by using black olives instead of the usual bacon or lardons.  I doubled the dough batch today and swapped half the white flour for wholemeal spelt flour, plus I added a few tablespoons of red chia seeds. I also added a splash of brandy and a splosh of crème fraîche in the toppings.

    Without doubling, Rose's recipe makes one 10 inch (approx 25 cm) pizza, or in my doubled case 10 mini pizzas. 

    The dough starts with white flour, wholemeal spelt, red chia seeds, instant yeast and sugar are whisked together. Salt is then whisked in. 

    A well is made in the centre of the flour and water added. I added a few teaspoons of water extra due to wholemeal spelt flour being included. 


    Then mixed together until a rough shaggy dough forms. 

    Off for a rise in an oiled container, overnight is best if you have time. 

    I made the onion topping at this stage, it's like onion jam ... delicious, caramelised onions. 

    Butter is melted in olive oil.

    Onions thinly sliced.

    The onions, sugar, salt and pepper are added to the pan. Cover the pan with a tightly fitted lid and then sweat the onions down for 45 minutes. 

    They look like this, fluid has been released, the onions are cooked but have no colour yet. 

    Heat is turned up, I added just a few teaspoons of brandy at this stage... it was reminding me so much of French onion soup I thought I'd try it. You could use a splash of your favourite balsamic. The onions are cooked until the liquid has evaporated and they are golden brown.

    Crushed garlic and thyme are added at this stage, I used fresh lemon thyme because it's all I had. I cooled then chopped the onions to a suitable mini pizza topping consistency, covered and then popped in fridge ready for the next day. 

    Next day the dough is brought back to room temperature and I weighed out ten 40 grams balls. There was a little bit left over for a tester pizza. They sat loosely covered to "relax" for fifteen minutes. 

    I have mini pizza pans but I wanted a less formal friendly shape and not too thin for hand held individual pizzas. So I just stretched the balls out a bit, put them on a silpat topping a baking tray. Loosely covered in oiled plastic wrap they rise for 30 to 45 minutes. I took my prepared onions out of the fridge to return to room temperature at this stage too. 

    Your oven is pre heated, your pizza stone or extra baking tray is in there too getting nice and hot. Slide your tray of risen pizza/s into the oven on top of pizza stone. Yes, that's right they don't have any topping yet but wait...

    5 minutes later remove your tray from the oven.  

    The partially baked bases are now topped, I spread on a little crème fraîche to add an acid component.

    Then topped with the caramelised onions and black olives.

    A little gruyere cheese completed the topping and it was back in the oven to bake for another 5 minutes until cheese is melted and crust golden. 

    Base crust is evenly golden brown and super crisp. 

    The interior is light, almost fluffy, with the crunch of chia, surrounded by the thin crisp crust for the "bite" you expect from a good pizza. 

    I served the pizzas with baby fresh lemon thyme leaves.

    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 is available from Amazon and all good book stores. 

    Friday
    Feb032017

    Year of the Rooster cupcake

                                           year of the rooster cupcake

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    After the Monkey and before the Dog, every twelve years comes the Rooster. 

    Year of the Rooster .... 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, and 2029.

    I find the Chinese horoscope so confusing! It is the year of the rooster, the fire rooster or the female fire chicken. The chicken puzzles me, a chook is not a rooster. I decided to go with the Rooster like the ones you see as Chinese prints adorning restaurants and my Dad's nursing home was rather fond of them too. 

    If your in Melbourne the Chinese New Year festival runs to the 12th of February at Crown Casino, lots of fun and celebratory goings on around town. 

    Making a Rooster.... 

    I made a simple shape from a 50% white modelling chocolate, 50% fondant. Toothpicks mark the leg holes.

    I cut feather shapes from orange fondant for around the neck and marked a centre line. Marked the body with crescent shapes. 

    Black fondant was rolled super thin (add some cmc if necessary) and cut into longer feather shapes. The shapes are then shredded along the edges. 

    The pieces were attached to the body with a light touch of water. Here I am starting to attach the comb and playing with placement of tail feathers. 

    Gold leaf was applied to cupcake with a brush small brush, lifting on small pieces and laying them on pre dampened surface. 

    The finished dry rooster was shaded in petal lustre dusts, gold, red and blue. Attached to the cupcake with toothpick legs for easy removal. 

    Happy Chinese, Lunar, Spring Festival time :) 

    You might also like Chinese chicken wings 

    Or back to year of the Dragon

    Sunday
    Jan222017

    Olive Bread: Rose's Bread Bible Bakers

                      

                                                  Olive bread 'The Bread Bible'

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    I love an olive baguette, stands to reason I was looking forward to baking Rose's olive bread. 

    Started with making a 'biga' (an Italian pre-ferment), it's easy, combine flour, a little instant yeast, a tad of optional malt powder with room temperature water.

    Stirred until smooth and it comes away from the side of the bowl.

    Placed in an oiled two cup container and covered for six hours, it's ready to use at this point or pop in fridge for up to three days. Mine was refrigerated for two days.

    Ready for the mixer now (instructions are also included for hand and food processor mixing in 'The Bread Bible'). Flour, more yeast, biga are mixed together with water until a rough dough forms.

    Rough dough mixed

    After a short covered rest, salt is added and the dough is returned to the mixer to be kneaded until smooth.

    Dough is covered and given a short time to relax before the olives are added. 

    chopped kalamata olives mixed with a little flour

    Dough is allowed to rise now until doubled in size. Shaped in a banneton or colander lined with a tea towel... and this the stage there is a slight hiccup, ok LARGE hiccup. 

    I go to preheat the oven and the electrics were out, I could light the gas with a match but I can't run the oven without the fan. 

    I stayed calm... ha ha no I didn't I had tears running down my face despite self talking to myself to "toughen up". I went and punched down the partially risen shaped loaf and froze the dough. 

    Oh the fuse box!! Apparently you are supposed the check the fuse box outside, which I did the next day. Even though the switch marked oven was on there was a random unmarked switch down... yep, oven back on YAY!

    Soooo, I defrosted the dough and baked it off in a batard (torpedo) loaf shape because it was faster. 

    Hmmm, I thought the dough didn't look right defrosted and reshaped, though apart from not getting as much crust as I expect I would have gotten without freezing... all was good, delicious in fact. Well flavoured, moist, light but with just enough bite in the texture. 

    Now the tomatoes... Nanna loved a grilled tomato and always made me grilled tomatoes on toast for breakfast, I liked them but like fresh too so I went a bit "Ottolenghi" and caramelised half the tomatoes in a pan, keeping the other half raw. Mixed together they top my olive toast. With a lemon olive dressing, baby basil and rough cut herbs, the best ever Sunday brunch on a hot summers day.

    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 like Little Lemon and Lime Lamingtons Australia Day January 26th.   

    Thursday
    Sep172015

    Spider Egg Tins

                                 chocolate "spider eggs" in tins

    A quick and fun "craft" idea for Halloween but also great for any of your gothic themed dinners. Not in a gothic dinner party time of life? children will like designing labels and filling the tins.  

    Give these chocolate filled spider tins out as favours, use them for place setting markers or passed around after dinner with coffee. 

    You need small metal tins with lids (craft stores). 

    A bag of rubber spiders or cockroaches if you want cockroach eggs instead (toy shops, craft shops etc). 

    Crispearls are used extensively in patisserie and chocolate work to add "crunch". 

    Small rounded candy or chocolates.  I used dark Callebaut crispearls, tiny, shiny pearls of dark chocolate with a crunchy toasted cereal centre but any small lolly or candy would do. Cocoa shelled popping candy would also work. 

    Make labels for your tins in whatever program you have from Word to Photoshop. Using clipart from the internet or your files. Print your labels on sticker paper or on plain office paper.  If you used plain office paper cut out your labels and adhere to your tins with non toxic glue.  Oh, don't forget to personalise the labels, print friends names, greetings etc.

    Use tissue paper in contrasting or matching colour to line the bottom of the tins, fill with chocolates/lollies of choice. Top with a single layer of tissue, put your spider on top of that and close the lid.  

    Happy crafting :) 

    Saturday
    Mar282015

    Four and Twenty Blackbirds baked in a Pie cupcake

                            four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie cupcake

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    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 

    Thursday
    Jan292015

    Only a Time Lord knows what season it is cupcake

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

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    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' 

    Tuesday
    Oct282014

    Halloween Cake Lace Butterflies

                                   metallic cake lace butterflies 

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    Can butterflies be creepy? I thought so when I was saying to a friend I was planning on making butterflies for Halloween, they disagreed but hey, I was determined to get more use out my gorgeous but expensive Claire Bowman silicone butterfly mat.

    Claire Bowman making cake lace butterflies

    As seen in the video, butterflies made the Claire Bowman way usually have a *first layer of pre made metallic icing and after baking a second layer of white cake lace icing. The second layer is to prevent brittleness, but since I haven't had a problem with the butterflies being brittle I just used one layer of silver.

    I baked the mat/butterflies for 5 minutes at 60 cel (140 F) . Leave to cool for a few minutes, check a butterfly by lifting a corner... they should peel off easily. If your butterfly still seems to soft, return to oven for a few more minutes.

    Once baked, I placed my butterflies on the back of an egg carton covered with plastic wrap to add shape.

    When fully set, a soft brush was used to dust on cake decorating black shimmer dust. The finished butterflies reminded me of vintage marcasite brooches. Attach the butterflies to cocktail and dessert glasses with a *tiny dab of cake glue and of course the butterflies make the perfect toppers for your Halloween cupcakes, chocolate truffles and cookies too.

     *for use on the glasses the single layer cake lace worked perfectly, staying firm and in shape all day. If you need to manipulate the butterflies further then I would recommended following Claire Bowman's instructions. 

    *make sure you only use a dot of cake glue if the butterflies become wet they will dissolve. 

    Happy Baking :)  

    You might also be interested in an attack of the swamp zombie cupcake

    or perhaps Poe is more to you liking with The Raven and Black Cat cupcakes

    Tuesday
    Oct222013

    Catrin Day of the Dead Cupcake

    catrin day of the dead cupcake

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    Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. November 2nd is the official date for Day of the Dead, it is celebrated between October 31st and November 2nd.

    In 2013 Day of the Dead celebrations begin November 1st and finish November 2nd. 

    I've made a Cartrin this year, because a lady needs a dance partner. 

    Made in the same way as the Catrina skull last year, you start with a white egg shaped piece of fondant or modelling paste.

    Roll small sausage shapes and add to the skull to build up features. Use your finger tips and modelling tools to blend and shape the skull. Use a toothpick to mark out cracks and scratches on the skull.

    Start the body with a torso shaped piece of fondant or puffed rice treat. If using puffed rice treat, cover with a base layer of fondant first. Cut a vest and apply with damp brush, I had imprinted the rolled fondant so I dusted with green lustre dust at this stage to bring out the pattern and add depth of colour. Small balls of fondant were marked with a toothpick and attached as the buttons.

    Make white collar for the shirt, attach. Proceed to make the jacket, again attaching with a brush barely dampened with water.

    Bow tie is made with two rectangles, the larger one is pinched in the middle and shaped. The smaller one is wrapped around the center of the large one.

    Make pocket handkerchiefs with small triangles, attach to jacket and then attach false pocket flap to the top.

    For the hat I used puffed rice treat to reduce the weight, I know he is a skeleton and all but I didn't want to squoosh his head. Squeeze and shape the puffed rice treat into a top hat, cover with fondant. Make a band and brim with fondant.

    For the buttonaire see Catrina Cupcake  

    Leave the pieces to dry, supported where necessary to keep the shapes. Once dry use dusts to shade the piece and insert either a strand of dry spaghetti or a small wooden through the whole piece and attach to your cupcake.

    Happy Baking :)  

    Amazon has a range of day of the dead figures... click on the Senorita to visit Amazon :) 

    You might also be interested in a recipe for quick and easy Chocolate Peanut Spiders for the kids and young at heart.

    Wednesday
    Sep252013

    A Trip to the Moon Halloween Cupcake

    A Trip to the Moon (French: Voyage dans la Lune)

    A Trip to the Moon (French: Voyage dans la Lune), is a 1902 French silent film directed by Georges Méliès. It was named one of the 100 greatest films of the 20th century by The Village Voice, ranking at #84, and in 2002 it became the first work designated as a UNESCO World Heritage film.  Wikipedia

    Sweating modelling chocolate today, but first a bit on 'A Trip to the Moon'. It was fantastic a hand coloured print of the short silent film was found in the 1990's and fully restored in the 2000's, however for me it did lose a little of it's "innocence" once I saw the blood coming from the moons eye. My parents are to blame of course. Mum told me it was "dripping cheese" coming from the moon... and I believed it ;) 

    black and white still of the iconic moon

    colour still of the moon 

    And you can watch it now on You Tube (it's black and white... think of cheese).

    Ok on to "sweating modelling chocolate". Modelling chocolate is brilliant when you are making figures or highly detailed pieces that you need to spend more time on than fondant alone would allow. The problem is "temperature", it's fairly cool in Melbourne at the moment but already my modelling chocolate is starting to sweat/fat seperating. 

    Now you can put your modelling chocolate in the fridge to firm up again, but as the temperature rises, and rises, over summer it's a losing battle. But you can still have the benefit of a bit of extra time to sculpt by mixing it with your fondant or modelling paste. 

    sweating modelling chocolate (sorry for the phone photos... bit of colour glitch)

    I thought "hmmm, might be ok?"

    But no, scrapped that and mixed fondant, a little CMC powder, modelling chocolate just till the sweating disappeared. 

    In the height of summer I use 50/50 fondant and white modelling chocolate... you can adjust the amounts to the weather conditions where you are. 

    Here you can see I still made a lot changes to moon after this point, the modelling chocolate content allowed me to work longer without the surface crusting. The mixture is soft and malleable. 

    I use this recipe, though any modelling chocolate recipe would suffice. 

    Have fun sculpting and happy baking :) 

    You might also like Swamp Zombie!!

    Saturday
    Sep142013

    Frankenstein's Monsters Cupcake

                                 Frankenstein's Monsters Cupcake; topper made from modelling chocolate and fondant

    “I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel...” Mary Shelley

    Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by Mary Shelley about eccentric scientist Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Wikipedia

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    Goodness, I'm late, I'm late, I'm always running late but instead of making a white rabbit/Alice in Wonderland cupcake I had a slight panic moment when I saw Martha Stewart's Halloween issue is out already... it must be time to work out this years Halloween baking theme. Shall it be classic monsters? Yet, I've never done Hitchcock before.

    Mad scientists appeal to me. I think I can make something with a bowl of green goo (green coloured peanut butter turned into powder perhaps?) or pop rocks/space candy, I love pop rocks, I could fill test-tubes with those and give them out to sprinkle of top of frosted cupcakes or bake them into the cases of chocolate chilli tarts.

    Hmmm, what to do? What will you do? 

     

    Also out now the first edition of Taste.com.au magazine. Definitely worth a look, with  Zumbo, Manu and Matt Preston writing stories/recipes plus a plethora of other aussie food journalists. Paper copy from Woolies, digital copy from itunes. 

    I'm off now to read Martha Stewarts Halloween :) Happy Baking.