baking

SUNDAY / 49

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Home yesterday, and baking today. Just the way I like to settle back in. 

It was a case of a sleep-in, coffee with a friend, and a go at the carrot and ginger cake from Everything I Want To Eat, the Christmas gift I have loved and poured over for the past two weeks.  The recipe did not disappoint - carrot and ginger, with cinnamon, almond milk and apple sauce (though I used pear instead). It was nice to be home, to not wear shoes and water my plants and enjoy the afternoon light. 

A friend came over with a couple of pale ales (as all nice guys should), and we ate cake and talked and before you know it, the day was gone.

 

YEAR THREE.

YEAR TWO.

YEAR ONE. 

 

SUNDAY / 19

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Have I got a story for you! Or a recipe, anyway. Well, some vague instructions since I adapted the whole thing from two recipes and the memory of some muffins I made a few years ago. I got the new Nigella book from a friend for my birthday, and was taken by a sweet sounding pumpkin bundt cake - and it's autumn, so you know, the season for that kind of thing. But I don't have a bundt tin, and without the bundt it's just a pretty plain cake. So I adapted it with a streusel recipe I had, so it would be softer, and added a pecan crumble to the top because I just felt like it needed it. That and some extra ginger and nutmeg to give it a kick. And an orange zest / juice syrup at the last minute. It was quite something.  

After a morning of yoga and a late breakfast, I pulled this out of the oven just after 12 and made a pot of Monk Pear and spent the afternoon researching NYC, LA and Mexico for October.

INGREDIENTS

* 300g brown sugar
* 125 ml of vegetable oil
* zest and juice of half an orange
* 3 eggs
* 1.5 cups of pureed pumpkin
* 400g plain flour
* 2 teaspoons of bicarb soda
* 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
* half a teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice
* 40g of butter
* three tablespoons each of flour and brown sugar
* handful of pecans, diced
* juice of half an orange
* half a cup of icing sugar

METHOD

Lightly grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper. Steam and puree the pumpkin and while it's cooling, mix together the brown sugar, the orange zest and juice and the eggs. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, bicarb soda and the spices (instead of sifting, I use a whisk to break up the clods). Once the pumpkin has cooled, add it to the wet ingredients and beat softly until combined, then slowly add the flour until the whole thing is smooth and creamy (don't over mix). It makes a fairly wet batter, and there's quite a bit there so make sure you use a full sized tin.

In a small bowl, mix together the last of the flour and brown sugar and rub the butter in till you get a crumble, then add in the diced pecans. 

Pour the batter into the tin, add the crumble to the top and bake at 180 celsius for about 40 minutes, checking at 20 and 30 to make sure it's browning evenly. Mine rose quite a bit and took an extra ten minutes to firm up all the way through the middle. 

Once it is cooked through, allow it to cool on a wire rack while you mix together the last of the orange juice and some icing sugar - drizzle over the top of the crumble* and serve with tea. Happy Sunday folks!   

* I know what you're saying - drizzle cake or crumble, make up your mind Meg! But dammed if you can ever have too much of a good thing when it comes to cake. 

YEAR THREE.

YEAR TWO.

YEAR ONE. 
 

MONDAY + TUESDAY

I started my week in the kitchen.

On Monday I thought the cold weather was all too much so came straight home from work and poached a few pears in vanilla, cinnamon, star anise and cloves. The house smelt like Christmas, so toasty and warm. I used Mark's recipe, but cut the (brown) sugar by half and added the other spices. My friend D and I have a Porridge Club at work (which is really just us making porridge first thing in the morning - and actually just I call it Porridge Club, he calls it breakfast). Anyway, these pears were so good I have officially declared myself Queen of Porridge Club.

On Tuesday I had friends over for dinner and made the most amazing molasses ginger cake. I'd saved it from the paper and pinned it to the fridge a few weeks ago just knowing it would be good (now online here). The golden syrup, the brown sugar, the cloves and ALL THE GINGER. I probably went a bit far with the ginger because I love it so much, but this cake was all the better for it. It was one of the best I've made (and I have made a lot of cakes). I'm already thinking about when I can make it again, and suspect it will be one of those cakes I make for the rest of my life.

And because you can't serve your friends just cake (or even just cake and wine), I also grilled some chicken and made a beautiful winter salad from Ostro. Another one I will be looking to make again, and soon - I loved the sweet beetroot, the walnuts, the lemony greens and hearty lentils. Just right for a rainy night in with a bottle of red.

That's a good Monday, a good Tuesday.

* Image, B Chaet

FOUR DAYS

Autumn LightI spent the week prior to Easter looking at flights to Adelaide. It was last minute, it was a long weekend, it was ridiculously expensive. But every part of me wanted to be at home with family and friends. Being home a few weeks ago, albeit hard, was a glimpse of autumn and just what I dreamed of. Having landed in the grey rain, a drive up the Hill in the fog and walking into my parents house, an Irish lamb stew with potatoes and a bottle of local red at the ready, and a long soak in the bath before bed was all you could hope for. I woke up in the morning to gold and red leaves falling, and an actual bucket of small organic yellow apples from my neighbours yard in the kitchen. It was cold, there were cups of tea with friends and hugs from my mother and when it came to the idea of Easter, having four days off work, it was just where I wanted to be. Back there. But for $700 a few weeks before I head to Europe, I couldn't quite justify it. I know, not the ending you were hoping for. Certainly not what I was hoping for, but life is hard and I'm spoilt enough. And in the end - in the end - it was a kind of magnificent weekend here in Sydney. Specifically, things that made it lovely were:

* waking to rain on Good Friday, making a perfect cake in my nightie, then crawling back into bed with a pot of tea and said cake and doing not much more than that all day * making some fancy mac'n'cheese with emmental, grana padana, Tassy cheddar and some French goat's cheese to go with a big green salad and a half a bottle of one of my favourite Clare Valley rieslings * a new personal best of a run in Centennial Park in the early morning light * a batch of my best granola for a busy week ahead * a for-no-reason new sweat that is WAY too bold but so fantastic I couldn't put it down * rainy nightime Bondi walks and juicy yoga classes * five on-and-off hours in my kitchen making this lovely Southern pie for my Sunday night family dinner * an hour of kitchen-dancing after our dinner (because doing the dishes in my family is always amazing) * a good bit of gardening / tidying / pottering on my front deck with a take-away latte * old friends who call you in tears (not the tears, but the being the person they call when they're in tears) * arvo beers and laughs at the pub with brilliant new friends when your plans for a walk are rained out

And in between all of it, downtime. Meg time. Peace and quiet and mostly in-bed time. It was just what I needed.

{Image by Apiece Apart, my bed was never quite as glamorous as all that}

SUNDAY / 11

PIE CRUSTA long weekend, Easter Sunday, the first bit of sun in days and nothing to do but bake, praise be. Family dinner at my aunty's planned, roast and all, otherwise a morning run, a nice latte from the local and a good five hours to make a pie. The making the dough, the waiting for the dough to rest, the baking of the crust, the cooling of the crust, the making of the chocolate bit, the roasting the oats bit, the waiting for the oats to cool bit, the making of the oat bit, the putting it together and hoping for the best bit. All of it. And in between - with the all the waiting - lots of reading the paper, listening to some Bob Dylan, playing with my hair and thinking about cutting my hair, folding sheets, casual yoga in the kitchen, thinking not to cut my hair, thinking about Europe, thinking about the pie, worrying about the pie, worrying about last Christmas's pie, worrying about my kitchen skills, worrying about my life skills, worrying about my hair, worrying I hadn't had lunch, making lunch and then, FINALLY, a complete pie. A DAMN FINE pie, a restoring my faith in myself pie, all just as it should be (well, for the most part)(the other part being me not having quite enough oats because I made a big batch of granola the day before like the cliche middle-class-white-girl I am and so it was a little bit shallow as far as pies go).

YEAR TWO.

YEAR ONE.

CHRISTMAS, AND OTHER DRAMAS

IMG_4713.JPGNot terrible dramas, just kitchen ones mostly, though the whole thing can be a little exhausting. I like the calm of Christmas Eve best, everything wrapped and ready and a few wines with the family. I mean, I had a lovely time of it of course, once my health picked up and I could go for drinks and buy books for friends and wrap gifts in ribbons. But things never feel as 'just right' as I plan for. I made the Momofuku 'crack pie' for Christmas day, but failed miserably. After spending two days (biscuit prep for the base on Christmas Eve, filling on Christmas Day) and having it set poorly, the butter conversions obviously wrong, I had a bit of a cry. Or quite a cry. I'd double-checked everything, but knew as I was folding it through that it wasn't quite right.

It was my contribution to our family dinner but by 3 PM, all signs pointing towards a wreck of a pie, I had to pull myself together and used the leftover eggwhites for an emergency pavlova. Which turned out very nicely, two perfectly crisp bases which I sandwiched with thick cream and a bucket-load of fresh strawberries and blueberries. But I was nonetheless disappointed and emotional. Not to mention confused and mildly angry. As my cousin Lucy kindly pointed out, at least I'm the kind of person who can make an emergency pavlova, which I guess is something.

No qualms with the gift my father gave me though. We do a draw each year, and it's always a good year when he's buying for you, or in this case, making. We have a limit which he thoroughly disregards, making me two 18C gold fine bangles. They're delicate and just the right amount of clink as I walk or turn on the tap or, as of late, drink a glass of wine. I absolutely love them. Spoilt rotten, no question.

GRANOLA DREAMS

IMG_2281.JPGBecause you all asked (well, beautiful ladies Makara and Kell did), and because it was so amazing, I'm sharing my mid-week granola situation in a bit more detail. I ended up tweaking the recipe because I love coconut, it was late and I was tired (in spite of my commitment to THE HUSTLE). Originally from Sarah (whose recipes I always love), I have had this granola recipe bookmarked for a while now. I'm raspberry-happy most of the time - will put them in near anything with some brown sugar and a bit of flour - so knew this would be nothing short of wonderful. I often use dry fruit in my granola and muesli, but had never tried frozen, so this was something of a revelation.  I made a half batch, as that was the amount of oats I had left, but a full batch would be well worth the work.

RASPBERRY, MAPLE AND PECAN GRANOLA

INGREDIENTS * 2.5 cups of oats * 1 cup or so of desiccated coconut * 1/2 a cup of pecans, roughly chopped * a couple of tablespoons of white chia seeds * 1/4 of a cup of coconut oil * 1/4 of a cup of maple syrup * 1/2 a teaspoon each of cinnamon, ground ginger and nutmeg * 1 cup of frozen raspberries

METHOD In a large roasting tray, combine the oats, coconut, pecans and chia seeds (and, really, anything else you want to throw in). In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil and maple syrup and allow to cool a little, adding in the spices before combining in the large tray with the dry ingredients. Fold through the frozen raspberries at the last minute, as you'll want them to stay whole (so, frozen), until you transfer to the oven. Bake for about 25 - 35 minutes at 180, or until golden and crispy but not dried out (it will set a little as it cools).

I'm not sure how long it will keep, what with the (frozen / fresh) fruit - the beauty is this granola is so damn delicious it won't last more than a week anyway, you'll eat it all up. I had my first taste on Thursday morning. I stood at my desk (where I have my breakky on weekdays) and told half the people in my office that I loved myself and the concept of breakfast and that it was the best thing I'd ever baked and they wished they were me.

Sure, a little dramatic, but suffice to say this batch was an absolute dream.

* Adapted from A House in the Hills

OFFICIALLY THE YEAR OF THE DONUT

20140707-210023-75623905.jpgI suppose it's time I made this official. I mean, I've been working up to it for sometime (see here and here) and it's important to be honest about these things. So, henceforth, I will happily and hungrily refer to 2014 as The Year of the Donut. Are you with me?* * You kind of have to have bought a donut tin on eBay, if you want to be with me.

These were a kind of autumnal / wintry 'let's put root vegetables in our cake' recipe that I dreamed and adapted from a few around Pinterest. Last year I made pumpkin and nutmeg muffins with pecan streusel (and cream cheese filling)(seriously), and this year it was donuts. As you do. They were easy as could be and I shared a few with my grandmother and cousin on Sunday, and a few with friends after a lovely dinner last night.

OK, and one for breakfast this morning while I was walking to the train. My lips felt sticky from the sugar all morning which was about the best thing ever.

PUMPKIN, GINGER AND CINNAMON DONUTS

INGREDIENTS * 1 3/4 cups of flour * 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder * a pinch of salt * 1 teaspoon of ground ginger * 
1 teaspoon of cinnamon * 1/2 a teaspoon of nutmeg * 1/2 a teaspoon of allspice * 1/3 of a cup of vegetable oil * 1/2 a cup of brown sugar * 1 egg * 
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
 (I used the good stuff) * 3/4 of a cup of steamed and pureed pumpkin (I used a quarter of a kent pumpkin, which I had prepared the night before) * 1/3 of a cup of milk (add a little at a time, as this will depend on how runny your pumpkin mix is) * 50 grams of butter, melted * 2/3 of a cup of sugar
 (half white, half brown) * 1 tablespoon of cinnamon

METHOD Preheat the oven to about 180 C and lightly grease a donut pan.

In a medium bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt and spices together. I use a whisk to make sure there aren’t any lumps without having to actually sift anything. In a large bow, or a mixer, lightly beat together the veggie oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and half of the milk. Slowly add in the dry ingredients, mixing till smooth and creamy. Add a little more of the milk if the batter seems too dry.

I then spooned it all into a plastic lunch bag (because I don’t have a pastry bag), snipped the end off, and piped the mix neatly into the donut tin. You can spoon it into the tin, but I found this messy because I get impatient and have two left hands. Fill each space about two thirds full, to allow them to rise nicely. Bake for about ten minutes and allow to cool on a wire rack while you get ready with the topping. Melt the butter and allow to cool slightly in a bowl, and on a plate gently rub together the sugar and the cinnamon till fine and even. Then lightly dip the donuts in the warm butter, and coat in the sugar and cinnamon mix.

They are best eaten immediately, or within the hour – if you leave them too long the coating becomes a little greasy and grainy and you can't feel quite as smug about your amazing kitchen skills.

PEAR AND BURNT-BUTTER DREAMS

20140507-234521.jpg Or, 'the one where it becomes apparent that I've just learnt all about burnt-butter and feel the need to put it in everything'.

I mean, obviously I knew about burnt-butter before (the gnocchi and sage combination is one of the best), but of late, the idea of burning it back and cooking off all that water (water! ha! who needs water in their cake anyway!) is all I can think about - so it's just nutty brown, speckled, flavoursome oozy butter that will kick-start your sweets like nothing else. From last month's donuts, to this little dream, the burnt-butter has not let me down.

I am sorry to say that  can't tell you where I found the recipe (what a dill), but I do remember that it was taken then adapted from Heidi's Super Natural Everyday with what I had in my pantry. It's a book I've been wanting to buy for a while, and the origins of this delight might now be my official excuse. Plenty more good where that came from, methinks...

INGREDIENTS

* 1.5 cups of plain flour * 1 cup of spelt flour * 1 tablespoon of baking powder * ½ a teaspoon of ground ginger * ½ a teaspoon of cinnamon * ¼ of a teaspoon of all-spice * ½ a cup of brown sugar * ½ a teaspoon of salt * 2 eggs * 1 cup of buttermilk * ¼ of a cup of butter, melted until brown and cooled (see here for how-to) * zest of ½ a lemon * 1 medium-sized pear, grated

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180c and grease and line a tin.

In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, all-spice, sugar and salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and the buttermilk, then slowly add in the melted butter, the lemon zest and the grated pear. Pour the wet mixture over the flour mixture and stir until just combined (best not to over-mix).

Bake for 40-60 minutes or until cake is golden brown and a knife comes out clean (or, in my case, a small screwdriver that you found in the second drawer and have never actually used as a screwdriver)(in my defence, it is as narrow as a tooth-pick so rather more dainty to pierce the cake with that a big old knife).

I made this a couple of weeks ago, when my family was in town. I was lucky enough to have Daisy as my wooden spoon sidekick and chief bowl-licker and we were both of us very happy with our work. I think this one will be in high-rotation over winter - so soft (the buttermilk), warming (the ginger and all-spice) and fruity (the pear). Just right with a pot of Earl Grey or Orange Pekoe, in case you have the kettle on.