Delicious Date Loaf

Great baking deserves to be shared with a great photo.

It’s always satisfying to be able to capture what can be seen with the eye through the lense of a camera. Unfortunatly, it’s something I struggle with when photographing inside. Personally, I prefer to photograph my food outside. The lighting outdoors contrasts with the colour of the food far better than inside – and the background, even if blurred, compliments the food’s beauty (yes, I am still talking about a piece of cake, nothing more). When the sun is shining an outside table is the perfect resting spot for fresh baking. The natural world is like a blank canvas for a masterpiece.

Besides, my kitchen is usually to cluttered for a good photo anyway.

I think these photo’s are the perfect example of this. The colours are amazing, almost better than reality if that’s possible – thanks to the camera.  The date loaf really does look beautiful basking in the light of a perfect New Zealand spring day. Are you jealous of our wonderful weather? Haha. I’m wondering how long it will last. It’s summer already, by the time autumn hits us, we’ll be heading back to blankets. But for now, I’m loving what we’ve got – it’s fantastic!

Oh and this really was quite a delicious date loaf too.  Moist, sweet and a little bit nutty. The perfect accompaniment to the day.

Date and walnut Loaf

  • 240g (1 1/2 cups) pitted dried dates, halved
  • 310mls (1 1/4 cups) water
  • 100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) dark brown sugar
  • 80g butter, cubed
  • Melted butter, for greasing
  • 300g (2 cups) self-raising flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 1 x 100g pkt walnut pieces
  1. Place the dates, water, brown sugar and butter in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and pour into a heat-resistant bowl. Allow to cool for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 170°C. Brush a 9.5cm x 19.5cm (base measurement) loaf pan with the melted butter to grease.
  4. Sift the flour and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs to the date mixture and stir to combine. Pour the date mixture into the flour mixture and use a wooden spoon to combine. Add the walnuts and stir to combine.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the greased pan and bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
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Coconut Ice

There’s certain foods that are out of a home bakers league, and best left to the professionals – for everyone’s sake.

However, there are foods which are the exact opposite – where a store bought version could never out-do a homemade one. It looks better, tastes better – and although baking isn’t necessarily ‘healthy’, it is probably better for you too.

After my success last weekend, I believe coconut ice belongs in this catagory.

Coconut ice is one of my favourite candy treats. Sweet, coconutty, crumbly and gritty – yet a chewy mouthful all at once. Not to mention how pretty it looks. It’s something I have personally bought on numerous occasions, each packet of sugary goodness judged on how it meets my standards – usually there’s something not quite right about it, but it satisfy’s the craving so it passes judgement and onto my waistline .

But now, I no longer have this problem. This coconut ice is simply the best. Melt in your mouth divinity – creamy coconut danced on my tastebuds – really. Plus, it looked amazing too. I stumbled upon it by accident – it was made as a fundraiser for my dance school’s Christmas show and I just needed something fast and simple. Because of that I really didn’t get to indulge in a whole heap of it – but then again you can’t produce something without taste testing it. Probably a good thing anyway, the whole slab wouldnt have lasted very long after the first bite.

Looking back over my posts, I’m aware I have quite a routine going to saying my recipes are along the lines of ‘the best I’ve ever tasted. I would pull myself up on this – but I can’t deny the truth. Homemade really is simply unbeatable.

Coconut Ice Recipe (from ‘Sweet Treat’s by Frankie Magazine)

250grams icing-sugar, 60grams copha, 125grams desiccated coconut, 1 egg white, 1-2 drops of vanilla extract, few drops of red/pink food colouring.

Lightly grease an 8 inch square tin. Put the copha in a small saucepan and melt over a low heat.

In a large bowl, lightly beat egg white. Add coconut, copha, icing0sugar and vanilla. Mix untill well combined.

Split the mixture into two equal parts and press one half into your pan. Stir and mix food colouring into the other half (hands work well) untill it turns pink.

Press pink mixture on top of the plain. Cover in cling film and pop in the fridge for 45minutes untill set.

When set, turn onto a chopping board and cut.

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Christmas Time

Hoorah! December is finally upon us again. There’s something in the air at Christmas time, for me it’s the prospect of the end of another year’s hard work and the beginning of a new – as well as a fun-filled summer holiday break away from everyday life.

Christmas in New Zealand is slightly different from that in other parts of the world. The days are long, sunny and warm (in saying that, it’s currently pouring with rain and a chilly 9 degress celcius outside). It’s the perfect weather for barbeques, salads and ice cream – all on the beach.  School is finished for the year, with around a 6 week well-earned holiday break for us kids – although longer for those of us in high school, as we have ‘study break’ leading up to, and around our end of year exams.

There are some things that stay the same – the decorations go up in streets, and carols start ringing throughout malls and shops, Santa pops up everywhere – and we still devour a delicious Christmas dinner or lunch, even if desert is a pavlova rather than a pudding (one of my favourite times of the year I must admit). In fact it’s all rather materialistic if you look at it, but to be honest, it’s about the only time of year that it happens for me personally.

This year, I decided to get a bit creativly festive, as I’ve had a lot of time off with exams (which has been FANTASTIC). I took inspiration from the many times we’ve been to Hawaii for Christmas. Although the weather is much the same as home, the Christmas atmosphere is totally different – the decorations are amazingly beautiful, and one thing that always impresses me is the array of gingerbread villages. Seriously, some of them are huge!  It’s something I’ve never done before but can now check off my list.

I’m quite pleased with my house – although it lacks in doors and windows and is comparitivly bite sized to the ones in Hawaii. It’s certainly unique, it kind of reminds me of something from Hansel and Gretel. I even got a few gingerbread men out of the left-over dough. I got pretty excited over the decorating aspect too – I finally I had a use for my royal icing recipe. I spent the whole afternoon and into the night on it, with breaks of course.

I havent yet tried it – I will – but for now I think I can trust that it tastes good. I left it out on the bench by accident the other night, and when I woke up, the roof has been nibbled at by mice – holiday cheer for all.

Merry Christmas everyone 🙂 !

 

 

 

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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!

Delightful Peppermint Slice

I remember attempting to make peppermint slice quite a few years ago, when I came home inspired from a trip to my Aunty’s house. If she could do it, so could I.

Oh how wrong I was.

However, after a few more years experiance under my belt, I decided to try my luck again – and I’m so glad I did. This was (and still is, seeing as it’s sitting in the fridge at the moment) the best peppermint slice I have ever eaten.

I didn’t return to a recipe from my cookbooks, I googled for something better. There was a cafe here in Christchurch that used to make the best peppermint slice, it was so different to all the others, the centre was like a thick heavenly mint fondant, not a gritty icing smear. I couldn’t work out how they did it, untill now.

Cream and butter. Simple. Oh and there’s some icing in there too, but in short, cream gives it the more heavenly texture and taste.  Now I can eat this whenever my tastebuds desire. Plus, having cream in the house gave me an excuse to make some fudge too.

And we musn’t forget the base and topping. These too were a delight. Put the three together, and you have a minty slice of heaven. I even tested my decorating skills making lovely little white chocolate swirlies on the bittersweet chocolate topping. I also added about a 1/4 cup of cocconut to the base, just for added texture.

I think mine even turned out better than the photo on the website, and it’s far better than the one in the cafe (; that’s what I call success – untill next time, happy baking !

 

Chocolate Peppermint Slice

150g butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1½ cups flour
¼ cup cocoa
½ teaspoon baking powder

Filling
100g butter, softened
1½ cups icing sugar, sifted
1½ tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon peppermint essence
200g dark chocolate, melted, for topping

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line an 18cm x 28cm pan with baking paper.
  • Cream the butter and sugar with an electric beater until the mixture is light and fluffy. Sift in the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Mix together until combined.
  • Press the mixture into the base of the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until firm. Set aside to cool.
  • To make the filling, cream the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the cream and peppermint essence. Spread the mixture evenly over the cooled base.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes before topping with a layer of melted chocolate. Wait for the chocolate to set before cutting the slice into small pieces (for a perfect finish, use the tip of a sharp knife to mark cutting lines in the chocolate topping just before it sets).

http://www.nzchef.co.nz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=333&Itemid=67


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Benedict Bar

There is nothing better than waking up early in the morning, fetching some toast and then spending a good half hour pondering around food blogs. The only problem is it always makes me wish I was eating something better than toast.

Hello and welcome to my blog, Sixteen Cupcakes. Finally, after being an avid food blog browser for years, I finally have a place to call my very own on here. A little about me to start off with, my name is Savannah (hello!) and I am 16 years old (hence Sixteen Cupcakes). I live in the south island of New Zealand in the down-under corner of the globe – and I’m a passionate baker and food addict. Nothing gets me going more than food, cooking and baking – so, I have decided to share my baking creations with the rest of the online food community, and hopefully give back a slice of what it has given me.

As my first post, I decided to share these Benedict Bars, which I found here, http://lisaiscooking.blogspot.com/2009/04/benedict-bars.html – Lisa is cooking’s blog . It is, one of the many recipe’s that have made me drool while on one of my morning blog browse sessions – I had to make it. Let me say I’m so glad I did. The shortbread crust melted into the tang of wildberry jam and the sweet crunch of the almond topping –  I think you know where I’m going with this. It was perfect.

Do yourself a favour and do try these, you will be so glad you did. Until next time – happy baking  ! 

 

Benedict Bar

First prepare the shortbread crust:
150 g unsalted butter
225 g plain flour (All purpose flour)
4 T corn flour
1/2 t baking powder
125 caster sugar (granulated sugar) + more for sprinkling into pan
1/4 t sea salt
1 t vanilla extract

-spray a 24 x 20cm (I used an eight inch square pan, but slightly larger would also work) with cooking spray and sprinkle with sugar
-dice the butter straight from the refrigerator into a mixing bowl and leave to soften for 30 minutes; sift the flour, cornflour, and baking powder on top, then add the sugar, salt, and vanilla; rub together between your fingertips until the mixtures begins to cohere (Or, place in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment until it resembles breadcrumbs.)
-press into the prepared pan and chill in the refrigerator while making the topping

Bars:
100g unsalted butter
60g caster sugar (granulated sugar)
1 t vanilla extract
200g flaked almonds
3 T milk
raspberry jam (or blackcurrant jelly or whatever jam or jelly you have)

-preheat oven to 180 degrees C or 350 degrees F [Here’s a handy conversion tool: http://www.metric-conversions.org/temperature/celsius-to-fahrenheit.htm]
– put butter, sugar, vanilla, almonds, and milk in a small saucepan over low heat, and warm until the butter melts; remove from heat and allow to cool
-remove shortbread from refrigerator and spread a layer of jam on top; pour cooled, melted butter mixture over top; bake for 25 to 30 minutes and then allow to cool on a rack; chill in the refrigerator for one hour to make cutting easier

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