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Category Archives: Small Baked Things

Lemon Meringue Poke Cakes

Ingredients

Little cakes
125g self-raising flour
125g caster sugar
125g butter
2 large free-range eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of half a lemon
2 tblsp milk

Lemon Curd
Juice of 2 lemons
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 free-range egg yolks, beaten lightly

Meringue
2 free-range egg whites
120g caster sugar

Method

For the cakes, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

This mixture makes 12 cupcakes, but you are looking for a larger than cupcake size in this recipe. You should get 6 good size cakes from the mixture. Liberally grease a 6 mold pan. I used my popover pan, as I love the deepness of each mold. A Texas muffin pan with 6 holes will work too.

Put all the ingredients except the milk in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the milk while pulsing to make a soft, dropping consistency.

Spoon the mixture into the molds, filling the molds equally.

Place the pan into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and golden on top.

Pop the cakes out of the molds and leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the lemon curd, place all the ingredients in a double boiler or bain marie. Cook over a medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. When cool, refrigerate until ready to use.

For the meringue, place egg whites in the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 3-4 minutes to soft peaks.

Add caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each to be incorporated before adding the next, whisking until mixture is glossy. The meringue will be shiny and will hold stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted from the bowl.

To assemble, take each cake and “poke” 3 holes in the top of each cake, using the end of a wooden spoon. Be careful as you do this, as the cake might break. The idea is to get holes big enough to pipe the lemon curd into, but the end of the wooden spoon is just a little too large for the “poking”. If you have something a little smaller, by all means use that instead.

Fill a piping bag without a nozzle with the lemon curd, and gently pipe some curd into each hole in the cakes. The aim is to fill the holes. Once each cake is filled, pipe or spoon the rest of the curd over the tops of the cakes.

Fill another piping bag also without a nozzle with the meringue. You will only need half the mixture, so you can make a few spare meringues with the remainder of the mixture. Pipe a swirl of meringue on the top of each cake. Now using a blow torch, scorch the meringue topping as little or as much as you like.

The lemon meringue cakes look good and when you cut them open or bite into them, they should ooze with lemon curd from the “poke” holes. Very delicious and quite mooreish!

Hot Cross Bun Cookies

It will soon be Easter so it’s time to start the Easter baking. If you’re looking for something different from hot cross buns, these cookies are a good alternative. I wouldn’t expect anyone to give up hot cross buns of course, but adding these cookies to your repertoire is a great idea.

The recipe is based on one from Donna Hay, with my usual tweaks. There’s no “bun” in the cookies – but hey, they have all the flavour of buns so they are entitled to the name!

Ingredients

125g softened butter
175g brown sugar
2 free-range eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
2 teaspoons lemon zest
375 self raising flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
80ml milk
80g sultanas
160g icing sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 baking trays with baking tray.
Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor. Add the eggs and vanilla, making sure the eggs are well incorporated.
Add the lemon zest, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, milk and sultanas to the food processor and mix in. Be careful not to over mix in case you break up the sultanas.
Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes or until firm. Roll tablespoons of the mixtures into balls and place on the baking trays.
Bake between 10-15 minutes, depending on the hotness of your oven, until the cookies are pale brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking trays.
To make the icing, place the icing sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and mix to a paste. Place the icing mixture in a piping bag and pipe a cross on each cookie. You don’t have to be too precise, the flavour of the cookies is more important than a beautifully executed item! Or that’s what I think anyway.

Cinnamon Puffins (Buns)

So these delicious pastries are actually cinnamon buns, a recipe straight from the wonderful Claire Ptak from her book The Violet Bakery Cookbook. I have renamed them “puffins” as they are pastry cooked in muffin molds, just like cruffins are croissant dough baked in muffin molds. Not sure that it will take off, but I like the name!

I am really enjoying reading Claire’s book, as the recipes are really tempting but not overly complicated. It’s their simplicity which makes them so elegant and visually pleasing.

Here is the recipe from the Violet Bakery Cookbook with a couple of tweaks from me. These “puffins” work for me as the pastry doesn’t involve yeast, so is quick to make. They’re not difficult to make, with the hardest part cutting the dough into equal sized segments and depositing into the muffin molds. But even this step is not too tricky, as the puffins are pretty forgiving and will take the shape of the muffin cavities on baking.

Ingredients

For the filling
75g unsalted butter
250g brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

For the buns
560g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp ground cardamom
240g unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
300g cold milk
Caster sugar, for dipping
Butter, for greasing the muffin tray

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Grease a 12-cup muffin mold. I used a silicone muffin mold, as muffins come out really easily with nice clean sides, but any muffin tray will be fine.

To prepare the filling, melt the butter in a saucepan or melt very carefully in the microwave. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon until no lumps remain, then set aside.

To make the dough, combine all the dry ingredients with the cubes of butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until you have a coarse meal. Slowly pour in the cold milk while the mixer is running, until the dough forms a ball and comes away from the bowl.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and leave to rest for a few minutes. Gently fold the dough over itself once or twice to pull it all together. Let it rest a second time, for 10 minutes.

Dust a benchtop or large surface lightly with flour, and roll out the dough into a large rectangle about 5mm thick. Brush the dough with melted butter, and before the butter hardens, sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar, in a thick layer.

Roll up the dough, starting at a long side, keeping it neat and tight. In order to get a taut roll, gently tug the dough towards you while rolling away from you into a spiral. Gently squeeze the finished roll to ensure the roll is the same thickness throughout. Use a sharp knife to cut it crossways into 12 even slices. Take a slice, peel back about 5cm of the loose end of the pastry and fold it in back under the roll to loosely cover the bottom.

Place in the muffin cavities, flap-side down. Repeat with the remaining slices.

Bake the puffin/buns for 25 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and immediately flip them on to a wire cooling rack, to stop them sticking to the cavities.

Dip each puffin/bun into caster sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature. They are delish!

 

Zucchini and Halloumi Fritters

Fritters for breakfast lunch or dinner, these simple to make little gems are the mainstay of any meal. There are so many variations and lots of recipes out there. One of the most famous versions is Bill Granger’s iconic Sweet Corn Fritters. They’re on the menu at Granger and Co in London and at the original Bills in my home town Sydney. They are pretty good, wherever you eat them.

I have also blogged in the past Gordon Ramsay’s Halloumi, Zucchini amd Herb Cakes, see here for the post. These fritters are good, too.

But these bright green numbers are so easy to make and really tasty, and are currently high on my list of go-to recipes for lunch or dinner.

They are based on a recipe from Hugh Hamilton Wines, in McLaren Vale in South Australia, although I haven’t been able to find the original recipe when researching for this post. 

What I love about these fritters is that they keep their green colour on the outside and inside. And when you cut them open, the halloumi is still a little bit oozy! Lovely.

Ingredients

2 large zucchini
1 red onion
150g halloumi
Zest of a lemon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup plain flour
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C fan-forced. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Coarsely grate the zucchini and red onion using the large holes of a box grater.
Squeeze the grated zucchini and onion to remove excess liquid. The best way to to do this is using your hands, squeezing a handful at a time. Transfer the grated vegetables to a bowl. Now grate the halloumi in the same way.
Add the lemon, thyme leaves and halloumi to the bowl and mix. Stir in the flour and egg, and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Roll heaped tablespoons of the mixture into rough balls and place onto the baking tray. The mixture is quite wet, but don’t worry, as they will keep their shape as they bake. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden and firm. The edges may be a little dark – this just adds to the rustic effect!
Serve with sour cream or Greek yoghurt, and chilli jam or sweet chilli sauce, and a big green salad on the side. Delish!

Blueberry Oat Cakes

These oat cakes are a cross between cakes, biscuits and scones. They are quite dense, with ground rolled oats and blueberries.

I developed the recipe because I am currently reading “The Violet Bakery Cookbook” by the wonderful Claire Ptak. As well as being a great baker in London, she made the famous wedding cake for Harry and Meghan in 2018. She has several rather rustic scones recipes, often with wholemeal or spelt flour, often featuring fruit, in her book. She is so imaginative in her recipes and I love her presentation too!

The mixture is very crumbly and will be difficult to bring together into a dough, particularly with the frozen blueberries. But don’t worry, just pat the mixture into shape and by resting it, you can cut the rounds from the mixture.

Here’s my recipe. This makes 12 smallish oat cakes. You could double the quantities for larger, more substantial oat cakes.

Ingredients
100g rolled oats
150g plain flour
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
50g raw sugar or brown sugar
Zest of half an orange
125g cold unsalted butter cut into 1 cm chunks
150g creme fraiche
125g frozen blueberries

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Blitz the rolled oats in a food processor until finely ground. Mix all the dry ingredients plus the orange zest in a bowl or in a food processor. Cut in the cold butter by hand until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs, or you can continue to use a food processor on pulse, but be careful not to overwork the dough.

Quickly stir in the creme fraiche until just mixed in. Stir in the frozen blueberries.

Turn the mixture out onto a floured board, and pat into a square about 3 or 4cms thick. Rest for 5 minutes at least, even 10 minutes.

Using a 6cm cutter, cut out rounds and place onto the baking sheet. You will probably get 8 or 9 from the dough, then you will need to gather up the remains of the dough and pat together (don’t re-roll) before cutting out the last few rounds.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the rounds are brown on top. You could check after 20 minutes to see how they are coming along. Take out of the oven and wait until the oat cakes are cool before serving.

Serve on their own – they are sweet enough – or with homemade berry jam and Greek yoghurt.

Blueberry and Raspberry Mini Cakes

I’m still working on mini cake recipes, little cakes which are full of flavour and fruit, not too big, not too small. Ottolenghi has lots of recipes in his fabulous book Sweet, for little cakes he calls tea cakes, perfect served with a cup of tea! These have inspired me to keep on developing my mini cake recipes.

One of the issues I have experienced with my little cakes is the problem of cakes sticking and coming out in pieces.  I have lots of fancy molds, and I am slowly working out which molds are the best for turning out perfect cakes and also, the best way to prepare the molds beforehand.

So, I have come to the conclusion that mini bundt molds are tricky to turn out, so I am avoiding them for the moment. I also picked up some advice somewhere, I think from Ottolenghi, or maybe from Nigella, that buttering the molds and flouring them, freezing for half an hour then buttering again, gives you a pretty good chance of the cakes coming out whole.

Here are two recipes, both based on the same basic cake mixture, one for blueberry, lemon and almond cakes, and one for raspberry and almond cakes.

Blueberry, Lemon and Almond Cakes

Ingredients

65g self-raising flour

60 ground almonds

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tblsp milk

125g fresh blueberries

Lemon Icing

2 tbsp lemon juice

Enough sifted icing sugar to make a thick but spreadable icing

3 blueberries for little cake for decorating

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Butter, flour, freeze and butter again your chosen molds. I used popover molds, but muffin molds would be fine. You will get 6 cakes from the popover molds, probably 8 from the muffin molds.

Put all the ingredients except the milk  and the blueberries in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the milk while pulsing the food processor to get a mixture that is not to stiff and of dropping consistency.

Carefully fold the blueberries into the mixture with a spoon.

Spoon the mixture into the molds, making sure you don’t fill more than  3/4 of the mold.

Place the molds in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Once the cakes have cooled for about 15 minutes, carefully up end the molds and ease the cakes out of the molds.  Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, mix the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to make an icing that will drip over the cakes. Ice the little cakes, adding 3 blueberries on the top of each cake for decoration.

Raspberry and Almond Cakes

Ingredients

65g self-raising flour

60 ground almonds

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tblsp milk

3 raspberries for each cake mold

Lemon Icing

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 or 3 pureed raspberries

Enough sifted icing sugar to make a thick but spreadable icing

1 raspberry for little cake for decorating

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Butter, flour, freeze and butter again your chosen molds as for blueberry cakes.

Put all the ingredients except the milk  and the raspberries in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the milk while pulsing the food processor to get a mixture that is not to stiff and of dropping consistency.

Spoon the mixture into the molds, making sure you don’t fill more than  3/4 of the mold. Carefully pop 3 raspberries into each cake mold.

Place the molds in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Once the cakes have cooled for about 15 minutes, carefully up end the molds and ease the cakes out of the molds.  Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, mix the lemon juice and pureed raspberries with enough icing sugar to make an icing that will drip over the cakes. Ice the little cakes, adding 1 raspberry on the top of each cake for decoration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Croissants for Breakfast!


I make croissants maybe a couple of times year. Not that often, as it’s an 18 hour process with so much proving to happen.

A while back I made croissants to take away to Bundanoon, in the beautiful Southern Highlands in NSW. We were staying at the lovely “Fulford Folly”, an idyllic  country retreat with the added bonus of the company of two mini donkeys! We had a great break, and home made croissants on the verandah for breakfast seemed appropriate.

In previous posts I talk about my experimenting with enriched dough recipes, coming up with a recipe that works for both croissants and Danish pastries. So here is the recipe again, with photos of our breakfast. I served the croissants with lashings of cultured butter and my Plum, Raisin and Walnut Jam, the recipe is here if you’re interested.

Ingredients

450g strong flour
40g caster sugar
10g salt
10g instant yeast
10g unsalted butter, chilled
300mls full fat milk
250g unsalted high quality butter, chilled
1 free-range egg

Method

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, sugar, salt and test until combined, rubbing the salt and yeast in at opposite sides of the bowl. Roughly rub in the 10g butter until crumb-like, then add the milk and form into a dough.

Mix the dough on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for 6 minutes, until it has become smooth and doesn’t break when stretched. Place in a large plastic zip lock bag and refrigerate for at least an hour  but preferably overnight.

Once the dough has rested, take the additional butter and place it between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper or cling film. Using a rolling pin, bash the butter until it flattens into a square, roughly 30cm x 20 cm. Return the butter to the fridge and remove the dough.

Roll out the dough on floured surface until it is a rectangle, about 50cm x 20cm. Lay the butter on the dough so that it covers the bottom two-thirds of it. Make sure that it is positioned neatly and comes almost to the edges.

Fold the exposed dough at the top down one-third of the butter. Now gently cut off the exposed bit of butter, without going through the dough, and put it on the top of the dough you have just folded down. Fold the bottom half of the dough up. You will now have a sandwich of two layers of butter and three of dough. Pinch the edges lightly to seal in the butter. Put the dough back in the plastic bag and chill for an hour to harden butter.

Gently roll the dough out into a new rectangle about three to four times as long as it is wide. Gently take both ends and fold them over towards each other, so that they meet in the middle (your rectangle should now be half as long as it was). Then, fold the new shape in half again, closing it like a book. Place in the ziplock bag,  and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Carefully, repeat the instructions in the last paragraph twice more, so that the dough has been folded and rested three times altogether.

The dough now needs to be left in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight, to rest and rise slightly. It is then ready to use.

Line 2 or 3 baking trays with baking paper.

Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a rectangle, about 40cm long and 30cm wide. Trim the edges to neaten them.

Cut the rectangle lengthways into 2 strips, then cut triangles along the length of each strip, about 12cm wide at the base and about 15cm high. You could use the first triangle as template for the rest, but I find it easier just to measure and cut each one. Hopefully you will get 6 triangles from each strip, but I don’t think it matters if you get one more or one less!

Hold down the wide base of the triangle and gently tug the opposite thin end to cause a slight tension in the dough. This helps with getting a tight roll. Starting at the wide end of the triangle, roll up into a croissant shape. Repeat with each triangle. Keep the ends of the croissants straight, apparently this is more authentic.

Put the croissants onto the baking trays, leaving space in between each of them to expand. Put each tray inside a clean plastic bag (I have some really large clear plastic bags I saved from a delivery or purchase)

Leave the croissants to rise at room temperature until  doubled in size. This should take about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Whisk the egg with a pinch of salt to make an egg wash and brush the top and sides of the croissants with the eggwash. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack. Of  course you can eat them  warm, but they do freeze well, so if you’re going to freeze them, do it as soon as they have cooled slightly.

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