Thursday, 29 December 2011

Rhubarb custard tea cake

I think this cake is one of those old fashioned type of cakes that you may remember your Grandmother making or you may have bought from one of those school cake stalls (not that I'm showing my age of course, I'm still very young!!). I really wanted to make it as I love custard and with rhubarb being in season at the moment, I thought it would be perfect to give it a go. It's very easy to make and was a hit with most of the gang. Mr M wasn't exactly giving me all the usual delightful sounds that he usually makes when being my chief taste tester and I asked him "was everything ok?" He just nodded and said "yeah it's ok".
Well I was a little disheartened by his comments, as the last time he said something like that was when I made apricot chicken and that was before we were married and I've since been banned from ever making it again. I was annoyed as usually Mr M has very few words and you mostly know when something is good and bad by all the moans and groans he makes whilst eating my samples, but this time my "man of few words" was speaking!!! (I think I preferred it when he said nothing!)

Everyone else that had a sample loved it!!  Mr M is now banned from making any comments, what would he know anyway, he thinks putting tinned peaches in a stir-fry is acceptable!!!

rhubarb custard tea cake - (The Australian Women's Weekly - The Cake Stall)

200g butter, softened
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups of self-raising flour
1/3 cup custard powder
4 fresh rhubarb stalks, sliced lengthways, then cut into 10cm lengths
20g butter melted
2 teaspoons caster sugar, extra

2 tablespoons custard powder
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup milk
20g butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Make the custard first.
Combine custard powder and sugar in small saucepan, gradually stir in milk. Cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens slightly. Remove from heat, stir in the butter and extract.

Press plastic wrap over the surface of custard to prvent a skin forming, cook. Whisk until smooth before using.

2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Greese deep 20cm (8-inch) round cake pan, line base with baking paper.
3. Beat softened butter and sugar in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in sifted flour and custard powder.

4. Spread half the mixture into the pan, spread custard over the cake mixture. Dollop small spoonfuls of remaining cake mixture over custard, carefully spread with spatula to completely cover custard.

Top cake mixture with rhubarb, brush gently with melted butter, then sprinkle with extra sugar.

Bake cake about 1 1/4 hours, cool in the pan.


Saturday, 17 December 2011

Sticky sour cream, golden syrup and ginger cake

Yes, I know it's another sweet recipe, but it's a festive time of year and if you can't indulge a bit at Christmas, when can you. We'll have some more savoury posts soon enough, but for now, enjoy this sugar fest.

If you're a ginger lover, this one is for you. With amazing flavours and being so moist, this cake is almost like a sticky date pudding and could be served as a warm dessert. The little people in the house did turn their noses up at it saying that the ginger flavour was too strong, but I can handle rejection. Meant more for me and Mr M! So with the strong ginger flavour in mind, it's probably not a great cake to make for kids but it will definitely be a winner with the older, wiser, more mature ones like myself of course.

I found this one in my Belinda Jeffery "Mix & Bake" book (a bible in B and M's house). In fact the cover of my copy of her book is held together by sticky tape. I know I just told you it was a bible in our house, but this particular cake I actually had not made before today. It is quite simple really and I'm not sure why I actually hadn't made it yet.....well I have a small idea why. Have you ever looked through a cook book and seen recipes that don't have any pictures and thought to yourself I wonder what it looks like? And then a recipe with a picture has caught your eye and you never bother again with the one that is picture-less? That's what happened here. Most of the recipes in the book do have pictures and it shouldn't stop me from making something, but we tend to eat with our eyes first don't we? Glad to have found another 'treasure' from Mix & Bake anyway!

You will need:

130g plain flour, plus 2 teaspoons, extra
130g self-raising flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
170 ml golden syrup, gently warmed
170 ml sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup brown sugar
280g  unsalted butter, melted and cooled
150g pitted dates, roughly chopped
6 pieces crystallised or glace ginger, very finely sliced
icing sugar ( optional ) for dusting

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees . Butter a 24 or 25 com round cake tin (a springform one is fine). Line the base with buttered baking paper and dust with flour. Set aside.

2. Put the 130 g plain flour, self-raising flour, ground ginger, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and whisk them together for 1 minute.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs so they are just combined, then add the warmed golden syrup ( warming helps it pour more easily ), sour cream, lemon zest, fresh ginger, brown sugar and cooled butter.

Whisk together only until they are just well mixed.

3. Tip the flour mixture into the egg mixture and stir them together until they're combined. Toss the dates with the extra 2 teaspoons of plain flour and mix them into the batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin, then scatter the crystallised ginger slices over the top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake springs back when gemtly pressed in the centre or a fine skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack for 7-8 minutes. Gently loosen the cake around the edges and invert in onto a flat plate, then remove the tin and paper and invert the cake again onto the wire rack. Leave to cool completely.

Left over pieces are lovely when gently warmed in the microwave!!


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Coconut and Jam Hearts - more Christmas baking

One morning last week B rang me and said 'Have you seen the new Donna Hay?' knowing full well that she had the advantage of downloading the fandangled iPad version. It was the very first morning the latest magazine went on sale and it was before the shops had opened so of course I had not had a chance to get down to the shops to check it out. It's no secret that both B and I have a little Donna obsession. We have collected her magazines from the beginning and since having kids, I absolutely adore the annual Kids edition. B has visited her store in Sydney a few times (thanks for the SMS'd photos - very jealous!) and we both have our favourite Donna recipes that have become staples - like orange cake and jam drops. Anyway, this month's gorgeous biscuit cover picture had us both salivating. So many potential Christmas gifts!

The coconut and jam hearts were extremely yummy and very easy to make. Confession time: I ended up having to make two batches as we ate the first batch!! Little (and big) hands just kept going back for more and before we knew it, they were gone.

Coconut and jam hearts (from Donna Hay Magazine Dec/Jan 2012 issue)

125gg butter, chopped
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder, sifted
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
icing sugar, for dusting
raspberry or strawberry jam

Place the butter and sugar in an electric mixer and beat until pale and creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined. add the flour, baking powder and coconut and beat for a further 1 minute or until well combined. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and roll both portions out between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper to 3mm-thick. Using a 7cm round cookie cutter, cut 12 rounds from the dough and place on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.

Using a 4cm heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut hearts from the centre of half the rounds and discard (I just added these back to the dough mixture)

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool. Dust the cut-out rounds with icing sugar. Spread the plain rounds with jam and sandwich with the cut-out rounds. Makes approx 12.

The biscuits were given as gifts and were a huge hit! I also made these fruit mince pies that you can see in this picture.



Monday, 12 December 2011

Grilled Portuguese Chicken and Crunchy Wombok Salad

We tend to go for fresh salads and cold side dishes on Christmas day as living in Brisbane can get just a little humid and sweaty if you aren't lucky enough to have an air-con (Poor B & Mr B). We also like to try one or two new salads each year, but sometimes the old potato salad recipe from way back has to make an appearance though as it just wouldn't be tradition or Christmas comfort food if it wasn't there. Kind of like how Mum's old school trifle (think port wine jelly, peaches, jam roll etc) makes the dessert list every year. I think everyone would have some kind of family Christmas food tradition. What is yours?

In thinking about our menu this year, I thought I'd try a new salad before Christmas this year to see what it was like. So I paired this crunchy fresh Asian-style salad with a yummy grilled chicken recipe also for an easy Saturday night dinner at home. These two recipes are actually from The Australian Women's Weekly "Christmas & Holiday Entertaining" so they could be considered kind of festive. I just thought I share these with you as they are a little different from the usual week night dinner but you could have them anytime, especially when you are really over having ham for breakfast, lunch and dinner!!

The chicken was done on the BBQ but any grill plate would be fine, and I do hope the neighbours could smell this as it did smell pretty good! The dressing for the salad also tasted fantastic. It reminded me a little of that famous Japanese ginger salad dressing you seem to get at Japanese take-aways and teppanyaki restaurants (B and I were a little obsessed with the Benihana version of that dressing back in the day!).

Grilled Portuguese Chicken - serves 4

1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
2 small fresh red thai chillies, seeded, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, crushed
8 x chicken thigh fillets
1/3 cup tomato chutney (this is to serve with the chicken)

Crunchy Wombok Salad - serves 4-6

1/2 large wombok, shredded ( Wombok is also know as Chinese cabbage )
3 large carrots, grated coarsely
1/2 bunch radishes, sliced very thinly
6 green onions (green shallots), sliced very thinly
1/2 cup whole-egg mayonnaise
4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/3 cup cashews or peanuts, toasted
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves

For the chicken:
Combine the juice, oil, paprika, oregano, salt, chilli, garlic and chicken in a large bowl, mix well.

Add the chicken to a pre-heated, oiled grill plate (or grill BBQ). Cook over medium heat, covered loosely with foil, until browned both sides and cooked through.

For the salad:
Combine wombok, carrot, radish and green onion in a large bowl, toss gently to combine.

Place the mayonnaise in a small bowl. Coarsely grate the ginger and gather it up in your fingers, squeeze the grated ginger over the mayonnaise so that the juice falls into the bowl. Discard the ginger pulp. Add the lime juice, sweet chilli and soy, stir to combine. Taste to check seasoning and add more lime juice if needed.

Add dressing to salad and toss to combine. Serve topped with nuts and coriander.



Saturday, 10 December 2011

Gingerbread Christmas Trees

So this is Christmas.........and what have you done? Well one thing is for sure, M and B haven't done much blogging! So much has happened the last couple of months, we both neglected the blog - sorry guys! B has been busy 'baking' her own little person though, and is due any day now and M has been, well, busy being a mum, a friend, a sister, a wife, a daughter......and everything in between.

Anyway, we thought we'd kick off our return to the blog with some Christmas baking. We both love Christmas and can't wait for our mum's Christmas cake to be ready (I think it's at the soaking in booze stage!), we can't wait to sink our teeth into some fruit mince pies, gobble up some jam cookies and we especially can't wait to have some Christmas baby cuddles with B's little person.  

Gingerbread makes such a good gift any time of the year, and especially at this time of year. We've given homemade gingerbread men as B's gift to her wedding guests and her more recent baby shower guests (iced in the appropriate theme of course!) and I think it makes a lovely gift for our hardworking teachers at the end of the school year. 

Gingerbread Trees

This is the same recipe that I have used for the gingerbread men we have made previously. I made 4 batches and that made around 8 trees and I had left over stars.

165g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 teaspoons ginger
3 tablespoons golden syrup

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add edd yolk, beat well. Gradually add sifted dry ingredients and syrup, mix well. Knead lightly.
Divide dough and then roll each portions between two sheets of baking paper to about 3-4mm thickness. I have a set of star cutters that were 5 different sizes.

I allowed 3 of the same size stars for each tree, I guess it just depends on how high you want your tree to end up.

I used 2 quanities of the egg white icing below. (royal icing)

11/2 cups of pure icing sugar
1 egg white
4 drops lemon juice
food colouring optonal

Sift icing sugar. Beat egg white lightly in a small bowl, using a wooden spoon. Add icing sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. When it reaches piping consistency, beat in lemon juice.

I used some of those coloured little cachous balls to decorate, but you could use anything you want. Then I dusted the tree with some icing sugar at the end.

To stick all your stars together just add some of your royal icing between each star. Also use the icing to add any of your decorations.