Monthly Archives: November 2011

Magnificant Melting Moments

It’s always heartbreaking and frustrating when I recipe dosent turn out just the way you wanted. And although I must admit these melting moments do look scrumptious – they’re not what I wanted.

You see, this recipe is not a first for me. It’s one of the few recipes which I attained from an acctual cookbook. I frequently return to it because it turns out somewhat right everytime, and always tastes good.

Last Weekend, I had a sudden urge for a delicious, gob-stopping, buttery biscuit crammed with icing – I immediatly turned to these cookies. I halved the recipe, and produced five – perfect –  lovely plump creamy biscuits, the combination of custard powder and flower caked my mouth as I munched. Enough to satisfy my craving after I devoured three of them. There was still something missing though. The lemon icing simply wasn’t enough, so I decided to make the cookies again, this time adding lemon zest to both the biscuit dough and the icing. This produced a lovely lemony treat – but my cookies were not what I had in mind.

My mum looked at me like I was mad as I stood infront of the oven telling the cookies how much of a fail they were – rightly so I suppose, because they looked alright, and they tasted fine too. But they werent the replica of what I had made the previous week, and my craving for those lovely plump melting moments went un-satisfied, dispite still eating two of them.

You – like my mum – are probably struggling to see what I mean, but if you had experienced the cookies, you would understand. I think maybe the cookies were slightly too buttery this week, which caused a flatter, more buttery cookie -or maybe it was a result of the lemon zest. I don’t really know, but they werent what I wanted.

However, I will not abandon the recipe. Sooner or later the inkling for a melting moment will return, and I shall keep you posted on the results.

Biscuits: (recipe from the Biscuit and Slice Bible)

190g softened butter, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 cup plain flour, 1 cup custard powder, pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (and I added about 2 tablespoons of lemon zest).

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (celcius). Lightly grease a baking tray.

Cream butter and icing sugar untill light and fluffy. In another bowl, sift flour, custard powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture with vanilla to form a soft dough.

Bake for 15-20minutes, untill lightly golden.

Once cold sandwich biscuits together with lemon flavoured butter icing.

Butter icing (lemon variation)

125g softened butter, 2 cups icing sugar, 1 -2 tablespoons warm lemon juice, 2 teaspoons lemon zest (optional).

Cream the butter in a bowl. Gradually add the icing sugar, alternating with the lemon juice, untill soft and creamy. Beat in the lemon zest if using.

 

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Cherry Streusel Flan (Cherry Cheesecake Flan)

 

The website is fantastic for finding any recipe you could possibly want. I’ve got so many cook books, but to be honest they rarely get used – which is a shame. I want a recipe, I simply google it and pick the one with either a good picture, or good reveiws. Even so, recently, I haven’t been so lucky with my internet searching for a particular recipe – or cook book searching.

There is a bakery in Christchurch which is one of my mum and mine’s humble favourites. It’s a ‘european’ bakery, and the food is always good – as in, really good. It’s not overly high class, yet it’s a far cry from your typical corner bakery. My personal favourite is either mud cake, carrot cake, cheesecake (yes, I like cake) or gingerbread men. My mum, on the other hand, prefers the almond rondo’s, apple pies and a particular flan called baked cherry streusel.

This is where it gets complicated in my recipe searching. A ‘streusel’, to my knowledge, is like a crumble, therefore you may think a cherry streusel would be like apple crumble, but it’s not. Baked cherry streusel, is a long skinny flan, with a delicious butter crust, filled, with baked cheesecake and topped with big plump cherry’s. Sounds simple enough, but according to the web, and all my cookbooks, this tasty desert simple does not exist.

Although it’s not one of my personal favourites, I’m always up for a challenge, and to please others – so I decided to see if I could do a better job of it. I searched for hours (literally). I couldnt find anything that even came close to recreating the ‘cherry streusel’ – untill I resorted to simple making up my own recipe of butter crust, baked cheesecake and cherry’s – which was when I found this post http://www.cookitsimply.com/recipe-0010-014q800.html . Not exactly cherry streusel, but it sounded just about right.

After making it, and some sampling, mum decided it was pretty close, I had the idea – although I was bitterly dissapointed I added the cinnamon, the original ‘cherry streusel’ deffinatly does not have cinnamon. I thought it was rather nice, but it simply wasn’t the same as the original due to the cinnamon – it’s sitting in the freezer at the moment, waiting for another morning tea.

So, if anyone reading this has heard of anything similar – let me know! There must be another name for it – and I’m pretty keen to try and make another one. If not – thanks for reading, and have a great weekend 🙂 !

Cherry Tart (Cherry Streusel Flan)
 
175 g (6 oz) rich sweet shortcrust pastry
450 g (1 lb) cooking (sour) cherries, stoned or a 675 g (1 1/2 lb) jar (or cans) of dark morello cherries
150 ml (1/4 pint) sour cream
225 g (8 oz) cream cheese
1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
55 g (2 oz) light soft brown sugar
3 tablespoons good quality morello cherry jam (preferably no-added-sugar jam)
1 tablespoon demerara sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, to finish
 
Method
 
1. Line a shallow 23 cm (9 in) tart tin with the pastry and pre-bake or bake blind.2. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F) Gas 5.

3. If using fresh cherries, remove the stones and stalks from three-quarters of the cherries. This requires patience but is very rewarding if undertaken sitting at a table with a good friend-and sipping something reviving. If using bottled or canned cherries, drain them thoroughly and soak up any excess liquid on kitchen paper.

4. Place the sour cream, cream cheese, cinnamon, lemon zest, eggs and soft brown sugar in a bowl and mix well to remove all the lumps of cheese. This will produce a thickish liquid mess.

5. Assemble the tart by spreading a thin layer of cherry jam on the pastry base, spoon the cheese mixture over the top, then drop the prepared fresh cherries or three-quarters of the bottled or canned cherries into the liquid. They will all but disappear with just a bit of some tops showing.

6. Sprinkle the top with the demerara sugar mixed with the cinnamon. Bake in the oven for about 35 – 40 minutes or until the filling has firmed up (the top of the cherries may look a little wizened, but a good dusting of icing sugar when cool will hide the wrinkles, if they worry you).

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Heidi’s Birthday Cake

I’m really not one to boast, but I honestly could not be anymore proud of myself at the moment.

Totally 100% my own design, baked from scratch by hand, and lovingly decorated. Three layers of devil’s food cake, sandwiched together with chocolate mock cream, coated in chocolate butter icing, dipped in chocolate hail, adorned with white chocolate flourishes, purple royal icing roses, chocolate butterflies, and further vanilla butter icing. After a total of about seven hours work, 7 cups of icing sugar and 400grams of butter later – it was devoured in about 15 mins. And did I mention – the taste was the closest I have ever been to heaven. If there is one thing you could judge by it’s looks, I think this cake would be the suitable candidate.

It was a perfect way to conteract the long-term effects of studying. Here in New Zealand, we have our end of year exams at the moment, and study leave is not doing my head too well. However, I used this cake as an excuse to get away from my science books and for letting off a bit of creative steam – okay, a lot of creative steam. I used the method of alternating, 1 hour of study, meant half an hour spent on the cake. But this quickly turned into 30 minutes of study, and a whole two ours on the cake.

It was pretty challenging to have to sit and study while three freshly baked chocolate cakes sat on the bench in front of me. I baked the cakes on Thursday and decorated on Friday. For someone who is used to the whole ‘bake and eat’ process, having to leave fresh baking alone was quite tough I must say.

I made the beauty (and yes, I think we can call it ‘the beauty’) for one of mum’s work friends wife’s 40th birthday and also to cellebrate the end of year Christmas party for her work. It deffinatly collected quite a few ‘ooo’s’ and ‘ahh’s’, as well as some astounded looks. It is most deffinatly my best baking creation yet. It was the perfect way to end the evening, and like I said before, I’m not even kidding it was like eating a piece of heaven.

And as for science, it didn’t loose out. I sat my exam today and it was a breeze – turns out studying isn’t always the way to go for a baker.

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Orange Madeira Cake

No other cake sings springtime like a freshly baked orange maderia cake – and fits better as the perfect accompaniment to a sunny morning tea.

It seems winter here in New Zealand has seemed to last for so long this year, but at long last, it seems to be warm enough again to step outside and not have to worry about freezing your toes off! Then again, in saying that, it snowed just an hour away from here yesterday – and we’re less than a month away from spring. It’s a little worrying I must say.

However, any baking is good any time of year – but sometimes there are certain elements that just pick up the nature around you. I think a good, firm buttery cake like this one would have to be my favourite, and there’s something about citrus that pairs amazingly well with cake like this – butter goes well too!

Until next time – happy baking!