Tag Archives: new zealand baking

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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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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