Category Archives: baking

Daring Bakers- Lasagne

The Daring Bakers challenge for this month is lasagne.

img_0669This is a lovely homey dish.  I didn’t count as I put them in but there is 9 very thin layers of homemade spinich pasta with a thin kiss of bechamel  sauce and a seriously good ragu between each layer.  How good?  It beats my previous fav Heston Blumenthals (from In Search of Perfection) hands down.

I did tweak the meats a bit.  I had some slightly freezer burnt pork fillet, regular bacon and kangaroo steaks that I put through the KitchenAid mincer.  Every time I use it it is better value!

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We make pasta at home fairly often.  I found the spinich pasta needed an extra egg to get the right consistency (maybe I squeezed too much water out of the spinich).  Matthew my good husband quite enjoys rolling out the pasta so I left him to it using the pasta machine.  Note the beer in reach.  Making pasta must be thirsty work!

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I assembled this as the pasta came off the machine so I skipped the parboil stage.  I did moisten each layer using a spray bottle, and it worked a treat.

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img_0674This was great fun and gave us a great dinner to share.

For the benefit of the auto checking software:

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

TWD- Blueberry and Peach Crumb Cake

For this weeks TWD Sihan of Befuddlement– picked Blueberry Crumb Cake on pages 192-193 of Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

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I had a single cup of frozen blueberries left but chopped up a couple of peaches that had gotten too bruised for my diserning taste panel to eat.  In the spirit of cleaning out the fridge and freezer I also had some orange zest good to go.  I made this in the 8 inch square as suggested but the middle took a long time to set which made the edges a bit dry and overcooked.  All was saved by the crumb topping though.  I know it is childish to only want to eat the crumb topping but oh dear, it was so good.

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Notes for next time.  The cake was ok, but again it was all about the crumbs for me.  Perhaps try in a loaf size for more even baking or even go back to muffin size (Matt’s suggestion).  I also wonder how this would go with the French Yougurt Cake from last week as the base.  I did really like that cake.

Now it’s time to say see you next week, and go check out the TWD blogroll and see all the crumb cakes you could desire.

TWD- Tale of two custards

For this weeks TWD Bridget of The Way the Cookie Crumbles– chose Lemon Cup Custard on page 387 of Baking From My Home To Yours by the fabulous Dorie Greenspan.

This is a simple baked egg custard, spiked with subtle add-ins.   I tried the original lemon and the coffee cinnamon variation.

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I read the message board before trying this recipe.  It seems for some this just wasn’t their cup of custard.  Something to note are Australians are much keener baked custard eaters than pudding eaters.  I am a big fan of the coffee cinnamon but Matthew (and Liam) were all about the simple lemon cup.

I used an immersion mixer to really squeeze all the lemony goodness out and since it was out, it did a great job of mixing the hot milk into the egg and sugar mixture.

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A slow bake in a water bath and a rest in the fridge and these were done.

img_0523So go check out the other variations on theme out there on the TWD Blogroll. By the way loving the macro on my new camera.  Still working it all out.  But it is lots of fun.

TWD- Chocolate Walnut and Drunken Prune Cake

This weeks exciting installment of TWD is hosted by Lyb of And then I do the dishesChocolate Armagnac Cake – The Cake That Got Me Fired on pages 279-281 of Baking From My Home To Yours By Dorie Greenspan.

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This cake is similar in nature to the flourless chocolate cake made by the Daring Bakers last month.  I am so pleased that a couple of extra ingredients made this cake SO much more to my liking.

Dorie tells a great story about losing a job for baking insubordination- really if you don’t have the book go get it.

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My combination was toasted walnuts ground to flour and prunes flambe-d in brandy.  Armagnac isn’t available and I had walnuts tucked away in the back of the fridge.  I made 2 x 4 inch cakes.  Like others I struggled with the timings.  Even with my wee little cakes they took well over 40 minutes.  I had to pop the little darlings back in the oven.

This was lovely and simple.  The prunes added to the fudgy nature and were a winner.  Now go and check out the TWD blogroll and see what other yummy cakes there are out there.

TWD- Caramel Crunch Bars

For this weeks TWD bake Whitney of What’s left on the table? chose Caramel Crunch Bars, page 112-113 of Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

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Dorie calls for a chocolate coffee shortbread base topped by chopped chocolate melted on top then because for Dorie there is no problem in guilding the lily you top it off with Heath (or in my case Daim) Bar chips.

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Heath Bars are something I remember from childhood in the States.  Daim bars are the European equivalent.   There really isn’t an Australian candy equivilent.  My Daim bars came from Ikea.  My closest Ikea is about 3000km away.  My mother in law is always mildly amused with how much I jam in my bags when I visit Sydney.

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I am embarassed by how many of these I felt compelled to eat.  Given my Daim bars were covered in chocolate I think for future reference I would skip the chocolate layer.   Now go and check out the TWD blogroll and follow the trail of cookie crumbs.

TWD- Devils Food White Out Cake

Stephanie of Confessions of a City Eater chose Devils Food White Out Cake, on page 247-249 of Baking From My Home To Yours By Dorie Greenspan.

img_0139I was so lucky that this cake and a family birthday party co-incided (Happy Birthday to Gemma).   This cake combines seriously rich devils food cake spiked with shards of chocolate topped with marshmallow frosting.  The combination is a good balance but very sweet.  Perfect party food really.  But I do get a rather serious look on my face when cutting cake!

img_0135I think I liked the look of the cake only half covered in crumbs best but once I started throwing around the crumbs I was committed.

I had a slight change of method for the frosting from Dorie.  I used the cream of tartar in the eggs to protect them from overwhipping.  I wasn’t sure the reason it was used in the sugar solution.

img_0142The good news is my computer is back on deck and I lashed out and got a Canon Ixus 980.  I haven’t had a chance for a really good play yet but I am really happy thus far.

Now go  and check out the TWD blogroll and see the yummy cakes out there.

TWD- World Peace Cookies

This week the TWD recipe was chosen by Jessica of cookbookhabit chose World Peace Cookies, page 138-139 of Baking From My Home to Yours By Dorie Greenspan.

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This weeks Tuesday With Dorie is close to my heart it is the first recipe I wrote about on my blog.  I made it again because I dearly love this cookie.  This time I used microwaved heat treated flour in the spirit of experimentation.  Bleached flour is not available in Australia and the first time I made these cookies it was with unbleached flour.  I think the texture was sandier but it was probably not worth the fuss about.

I get the crumbles on slicing but this dough responds well to being wodged together.

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Thus far this is my favourite TWD recipe I get to pick the recipe in another 20 weeks or so so lets see if anything else takes my fancy between now and June.

Still in camera limbo land.  Tossing up another point and shoot or making the leap into digital SLR land.  I have dual purposes.  Food shots (man at camera store tried to tell me no one needs to get closer than 17 inches from their subject and made a face when I tried to explain a crumb shot…) and wide angle lens so I can take pictures of interior spaces (for my day job).   Decisions, decsions…

TWD- Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread

In case anyone was having Christmas withdrawals, Heather of Sherry Trifle chose Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread for this weeks Tuesdays with Dorie Bake.  You can find it on page 212 of Baking From My Home To Yours By Dorie Greenspan.

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This gingerbread layers the ginger by using fresh finely chopped ginger, dried ginger and Dorie calls for stem ginger.  I had some ginger marmalade left over from one of the tarts ages ago so I fished out some the ginger bits and chopped them up.  That way, everything called for came from my pantry.  Nigella Lawson has a similar themed recipe in Nigella Bites but Dorie ups the ante with melted chocolate through the batter, chocolate chips and in case you are missing the good things comes in threes theme- chocolate coffee icing.

This was a nice recipe but, heaven help me I may be a bit of a purist here.  I think the added fat from the chocolate helped carry the layered ginger flavours but, I think I like it chocolate free better.  Patrick on the other hand will always vote for more chocolate…

p12603181Now go and check the TWD blogroll and see what other spicy treats there are to be had.

TWD- Berry Surprise Cake

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Mary Ann of  Meet Me in the Kitchen chose Berry Surprise Cake on pages 273-275 of Baking from My Home From Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

This desert is made up of a genoise sponge cake filled with cream cheese lightened with whipped cream and berries.  Dorie also suggested covering the confection with sweetened whipped cream but I took just one step back from that and topped out with ‘just’ the filling.

I decided to make 4x 4inch cakes.  Sadly my genoise fell.  I have made a few (with RLB recipe) and this is the first time it has happened to me.  I even used some of my precious bleached flour in this and weighed everything.   My eggs and sugar needed closer to 7 minutes to get properly ribbony

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The only brightside is out of the 4 cakes 2 fell down to 1/3 of the time and the other 2 were at 2/3’s they also had slightly raised edges which meant I could in fact just sandwich them together with no tricksy carving.  I had a bit of batter left over and I made cupcakes in silicone cups.  The interesting thing is they didn’t fall. So I guess it wasn’t the leavening or temperature.  I can see that others had problems with the cake falling and Dorie suggests a bit of centre sinkage is normal.

I will consider problem solving another day.

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This was a nice tasting cake.   I still have the grumbles about the genoise falling so it does impact on my general love in for this project.  I used frozen mixed berries and some cherry liquer to moisten the cake.  Genoise really does sparkle with syrup and doesn’t live up to it’s potential without it.

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I may try some whipped cream on top for tomorrows cake (the advantage of making some smaller cakes he, he!)

Now go and check out the TWD blogroll for the other berry surprises!

Daring Bakers- French Yule Log

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This months Daring Bakers was a lovely challenge.  The French Yule log is in over simplified terms an ice cream cake with quite a few upgrades.

This month’s challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand

I made the stock standard version in a silicon loaf mold.  This is not to snear at the standard recipe but it had 6 components and I wanted to see how they worked together before I started messing about with variations.  Also, I lurve dark chocolate.

So the Yule log is made up of a chocolate glaze, daquoise cake layer chocolate mousse,  crisp praline (yummy crispy layer) more mousse, a baked custard layer, more mousse and then some ganache and finally another daquoise layer.

I was deeply pleased with this dessert. As were my Christmas brunch attendees.

My only need to do better areas in them are…  need to make bottom daquoise layer a bit bigger.  I made a template to suit the top layer of the mold but didn’t remember to flare the bottom layer to suit my loaf mold.  Also, the custard layer had ice crystals in it and that was a bit distracting for me.

This was a lovely challenge and perfect for a summer Christmas.

Now go and check the Daring Bakers Blogroll and see what other delicious treats the DB  have come up with.