Tag Archives: icing

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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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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