Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Starry cupcake papers of unlimited potential

May 2, 2010

Purchased at The Essential Ingredient in Kingston. I think I can feel another batch of cupcakes coming on…


Things I’ve been doing

September 15, 2009

I had a lovely weekend. Here are some of the things I did.

Went to the handmade markets with Amanda and bought a cute summery clutch purse. There were lots of awesome things there but it was so exciting I didn’t take any photos. Then we went home to knit and that was also so absorbing that photos were not taken. But cute clutch, no? I can just imagine it with a few of my sundresses.


Discovered a red camellia bush in our front yard, and filled a float bowl with the flowers. Pretty! The best thing about living in a slightly neglected house is the surprises in the garden every spring.


Baked a strawberry sour cream streusel cake. I have made this recipe a couple of times before but had completely forgotten about it. It takes a little more effort than some cakes but is well worth it, for the dense, tangy sour-cream cake parts, the sweet, fresh, baked-in strawberry puree, and the crunchy topping. Very apt for the beautiful spring weather we’ve been having.

tasty spring cake

Bought some plants for my new office. I particularly like this trailing, tropical-ish one, though I have no idea what it’s called as there was no sticker on the pot when we bought it. Colleagues have suggested it is killer ivy, that one morning they will discover the office a mass of vines, and on hacking their way in with machetes will find me strangled by creeping tendrils. I am unfazed. I also have a maidenhair fern and a peace lily, happily brightening the room and filtering the air.


And planted some tomatoes in the backyard. Well, technically Phil did it I guess, but only because he’s a much better gardener than me, and I was hanging out washing at the time. One plant is in the main garden bed and one around the side of the house, as part of the plan to foil the possums in their attempts to eat them. I’ll let you know how that goes.


Banana and Strawberry Bread

July 23, 2009

‘Tis the season of kitchen creativity—apparently. Maybe there’s something about winter that brings out the nesting instincts in me? In any case I have another recipe to share with you.

I was making a loaf of banana bread the other day when my eye fell on a couple of punnets of strawberries we’d bought because they were on special. After I picked it up again, it occurred to me how well a scattering of strawberries might go in a loaf of banana bread. Instant classic! As you can see from the picture, I didn’t take a photo straight away and by the time I remembered a lot of the banana-strawberry bread was gone. This is a testament to how good it is (and also to how much we like cake, I guess).

banana and strawberry bread

Banana and Strawberry Bread

90g softened butter

115g brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

finely grated zest of an orange

4 or 5 very ripe lady finger bananas (you could use 2 ripe cavendish, but it won’t have the same flavour)

250g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

half a dozen large ripe strawberries, cut in half.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar (I find this works best if you use a fork). Add the eggs, vanilla and orange zest and beat well.

In a separate bowl, mash the bananas roughly—you want to keep some nice chunky bits. Beat into the butter mixture. Add the flour and baking powder alternately, mixing after each addition. Don’t beat it too well at this stage or it will become too fluffy and not dense and bread-like.

Lastly, stir in the strawberries and spoon into the prepared tin. Bake for 1 hour or until it tests clean. Serve it toasted, slathered with butter, with a cup of Darjeeling on a sunny afternoon.

Domestic divinity

July 16, 2009

Yesterday afternoon and evening were rather creative and domestic as my evenings go—especially for a weekday. There’s something about creative days that makes me happy. I’ve always wished I was more creative. And pottering around in the kitchen is good for the soul, I am convinced.

Libby and I were rostered on to bring some home-baked treats to work for morning tea today, so that was the spur for all this domesticity. We decided on a theme of ‘favourites from an Australian childhood’. This had twofold benefits: all the Aussies (young and old) would get a trip down memory lane, and everyone who didn’t grow up in Australia (at least half the people at work didn’t) would get to try something new and share in the communal nostalgia.

We made chocolate crackles, honey joys, and fairy bread. Yum!

chocolate crackles and honey joys

It’s possible I ate far too much fairy bread this morning. Possible, but sources can’t confirm.

I also managed to get some knitting done, on something that is ultra-cute but unfortunately secret. More news on that later.

The most exciting and creative project of the day was the peculiar inside-out rolls I made after Libby went home. I really have to think of a better name for them, so I’d better describe them. I’ve been thinking about making this sort of bread for a while—basically it’s a roll which has filling baked inside it. This way you don’t have to make a sandwich in the morning, you just grab one of these and off you go. It came about because I was trying to think of things that are convenient for Phil to take to work. He travels around a lot during the day and often doesn’t have microwave or fridge access, and some things are liable to get squashed in his bag. My immediate thought was pasties, but the unhealthiness of pastry turned me off a bit. I thought, what if I replaced the pastry with bread? And here we are.

These have a ham, cheese and tomato based filling, but I imagine you could fill these with anything you like, depending on if you want to eat them at room temperature or warmed up. I imagine leftover stews, curries and the like would work well, but I think fresh ingredients would also shine here. I’m thinking of trying pumpkin and feta ones, maybe with a bit of spinach. Or roast capsicum with onion and lemon zest. Use your imagination!

Peculiar Inside-Out Roll Things

1 quantity of Jamie’s basic bread dough (I used half bread flour, a quarter wholemeal plain flour, and a quarter white plain flour, but use what you like)

about 200g ham, sliced

grated cheddar

2 tomatoes, chopped

black pepper

fresh continental parsley, chopped (or other herbs, I used chives when I ran out of parsley).

Follow the recipe for bread dough up to the end of Step 4. While it is rising, mix together your filling ingredients (I basically used the quantities that suited my taste for this filling, but if you like more cheese and less ham or whatever, adjust as you see fit).

At Step 5, after you knock back the dough, divide it into 8 pieces. Press and pull each of these pieces into a circle about 1cm thick; it should be about 18-20cm in diameter. Place a mound of filling in the middle (I used about 3-4 tablespoons’ worth), then fold the dough up and over the filling, squashing it all together so none can escape.


Put the rolls sealed-side down on a baking tray, cover with a clean tea-towel and allow to rise as Jamie suggests.

Once they have risen, cook your rolls in a 220°C oven for around 20 minutes, or until they sound hollow when tapped and are nicely brown.


Leave them to cool for as long as you can stand it, then dig in!


Brown sugar, lemon and saffron muffins

May 14, 2009


It’s so nice when improvisation in the kitchen works out. So often it goes terribly wrong, but last night I was inspired (by being hungry, or by my pantry, or by the purple baking fairy, I’m not sure which) to make a new flavour of muffins, and the results were quite pleasing really. They turned out so well, I thought I’d share the recipe! That way you can make them too, and I won’t forget what I did.

I decided that brown sugar and lemon would make a nice combination in a muffin, and as I was getting ingredients out of the pantry it occurred to me that some sort of spice would go well too. Vanilla seemed too predictable, and cumin too savoury…then I saw the saffron. Cha-ching!

What I ended up doing was adding the saffron and some lemon juice to my standard muffin mix, then making a paste out of brown sugar and more lemon juice, and kind of swirling it through the mix just before I poured it into the cases. And they turned out really well! I’d probably add more lemon juice next time (I quite like lemon, and it wasn’t strong enough for me), and also some lemon zest–my lemon had already been zested for another dish so I had none left. The saffron came through a lot stronger than I expected too, so if you’re not used to this flavour maybe try reducing the amount.

Brown Sugar, Lemon and Saffron Muffins

2 1/4 cups plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarb soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/3 cup brown sugar

150mL greek yoghurt

150mL milk

2 eggs

125g butter, melted

zest and juice of 1 lemon

pinch of saffron threads (~1/4 tsp)

Because this recipe has a lot of acidic (yoghurt, lemon juice) and a lot of basic (baking powder, baking soda) ingredients, it’s important to work quickly otherwise the chemical reaction will happen in the bowl instead of in the oven, and your muffins won’t rise.

Preheat oven to 190°C. Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb, and salt in a large bowl with 2/3 cup of the brown sugar. Warm 20mL of the milk in a small cup and allow the saffron threads to soak in the warmed milk for at least 5 minutes. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining milk and the yoghurt. Add the melted butter, eggs, half the lemon juice, the lemon zest, and the saffron milk (I didn’t bother to strain it as I think it’s nice to come across a few saffron threads). Whisk it all together.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining brown sugar and lemon juice to make a paste about the consistency of melted chocolate. You don’t want it too thick–it won’t swirl through easily–and not too thin, or it’ll just melt into the mixture.

Now the action: make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the eggy milky mixture. Working quickly, mix until just combined but not perfect–it’s better to err on the side of lumps, because if you mix too much your muffins will be tough. Pour over the brown sugar paste and mix briefly with a butterknife or the side of a spoon, until just marbled. Quickly pour into the prepared tray, and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or so. Makes about 14 regular-sized muffins.

Fragrant but comforting. Just the perfect thing for a winter night, with a cup of tea or a glass of wine. If you do try them, I’d love to hear how they turn out, and any changes you made. Here’s to successful improvisation!