Jul 042012
 

I love Sunday mornings.  We wake up in our own time, or when the dog decides he doesn’t want to wait any longer to be taken on a walk.  We step in the door after the walk, switch on the coffee machine to heat up, and ponder what to make for breakfast.

J makes the coffee, I make breakfast.  Usually eggs, or pancakes.

Occasionally, nothing really sounds appealing.  This happened the other day.  J put in a vote for pancakes, but I just wasn’t in the mood.  I opened the fridge, stared in with a bemused look on my face, hoping inspiration would strike.  Nothing fell out and hit me on the foot.  I guess that was a good thing.

Finally, my eyes wandered over the huge punnet of fresh strawberries J’s aunt had given us the day before.  Perfectly plump and ripe, they were the first strawberries we’d had this season.  These might work.

Then I remembered this recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s website.  Scones for breakfast?  Scones made with heavy cream for breakfast?

I couldn’t think of a good reason why not.

So now here we are.

Strawberry and cream biscuits (scones)

Serves 12
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 12 minutes
Total time 22 minutes
Meal type Breakfast, Snack
Website Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter (cubed)
  • 1 cup very ripe strawberries (chopped roughly)
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Method

1 Preheat oven to 200* and line a baking sheet with paper.
2 In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
3 Either process the flour mixture with the food processor, or rub in with your fingertips.
4 Gently stir through the strawberries until they are coated in the flour mixture.
5 Stir through the heavy cream, gently and being careful not to overmix.
6 Bring the dough together with your hands - it's more important not to overmix than to have the dough well kneaded.
7 Flour your benchtop and transfer the dough onto the floured surface.
8 Sprinkle flour on top and roll out or press out the dough to about 3cm thickness.
9 Cut out circles of dough with a cutter (or use a wine glass)
10 Transfer the scones to the baking tray, leaving some room between each scone.
11 Bake the scones in the oven for between 12-15 minutes, until they are brown on top and sound hollow when you tap them.
12 Cool briefly before serving.
Apr 112012
 

This month’s Donna Hay magazine was all about the caramel, rich, decadent, smooth caramel.

I am usually more drawn to chocolate, or vanilla, but caramel still has its place in my sweet fantasies.  There are a number of recipes I’ve earmarked to try, but the simplest and easiest one by far was homemade dulche de leche.

Dulche de leche is a Spanish caramel, usually made with condensed milk.  I have heard about it being made by heating the condensed milk while it’s still in the can in a water bath, but the stories about exploding boiling caramel put me off that method.  I was pleased to find this simple version, and put it to the test this weekend.

I have plans to make vanilla icecream and swirl through a vein of dulche de leche – I’ll report back if successful.  I also added a pinch of sea salt whilst whisking the caramel, for that salted caramel effect.  Completely optional of course.

So here it is – probably the easiest recipe on this site, and certainly the one with the shortest ingredient list!

Homemade dulche de leche

Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Total time 1 hour, 35 minutes
Allergy Milk
Meal type Condiment, Dessert
Region Spanish
From magazine Donna Hay Magazine

Ingredients

  • 2 x 395g Sweetened condensed milk

Method

1 Preheat oven to 200* and put the kettle on to boil.
2 Place the condensed milk in an ovenproof baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminium foil (I also put my glass lid on top of the alfoil).
3 Place the baking dish in a larger deep-sided baking tray.
4 Put in the oven and fill the dish with boiling water until it reaches 2-3 of the way up the sides of the dish.
5 Bake for 1 hour 30 mins to 1 hour 45 mins or until caramel in colour - the darker you go the more bitter (in a good way!) it will taste.
6 Remove the dish from the oven and whisk the caramel until smooth to remove lumps that form whilst baking.
7 Spoon into sterilized glass jars.
8 Keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.
Mar 272012
 

I’ve decided I’m bringing back afternoon tea on the weekends.  There is something so enjoyable about sitting down with a cup of coffee (or tea) and a sweet little snack.  So far we’ve had banana muffins, butter cookies, peanut cookies, apple and carrot muffins (recipe to come!) and these sticky date cookies.  Obviously not all at once!

I actually made these for the first time as a Christmas gift for some friends.  There were quite a few leftover which Julian single-handedly demolished (I was still exercising self-control on my sugar detox).  When I asked J what I should bake, he piped up and suggested these.  I take that to be an endorsement of the recipe.  The cookies themselves are soft, sweet and delightfully moreish.  They remind me a bit of a spice cookie, or a gingernut and the date flavour isn’t overly pronounced.  You can eat them as they are, or roll them in icing sugar (as I have done here).  The icing sugar is really just for decoration.

This recipe is taken from the Women’s Weekly “Christmas Food” cookbook, but rest assured the cookies are lovely year-round!

Sticky Date Cookies

Serves 24
Prep time 45 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Meal type Dessert, Snack
From book Women's Weekly Christmas Food

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried dates (coarsely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1 teaspoon orange rind (finely grated)
  • 1 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 3/4 cups caster sugar
  • 100g butter (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar (optional)

Method

1 Preheat oven to 160*C (fan forced). Line two baking trays with paper or grease.
2 In a small saucepan, combine the dates, syrup and water. Bring to the boil over high heat.
3 Remove from heat and stir in the bicarb soda and orange rind.
4 Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then process in a food processor until mostly smooth.
5 Cool the mixture.
6 Process the flour, caster sugar, butter and egg together with the date mixture until it comes together.
7 Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
8 Roll mixture into teaspoon sized balls and place on the trays.
9 Flatter slightly and bake for about 15 minutes. It's better to take them out a bit early if you want softer cookies.
10 Cool and then toss in icing sugar if desired.
Aug 242011
 

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This recipe is taken from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook, by Jennifer Graham. It was a book that came up in our work “book club” and I couldn’t pass up a book devoted entirely to cupcakes.  I must confess that I haven’t made many of the recipes – I need an occasion to make cupcakes and they don’t seem to happen too often before you have children!

This is a great, classic cupcake recipe and it was a fantastic way to christen my brand new “Cinnamon” KitchenAid.  The KitchenAid was an indulgence justified by using wedding money/vouchers.  I’m lucky to have married a man who can appreciate the need for a shiny new appliance with the primary purpose of looking good.

I adapted the recipe slightly by using vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract.  I love the look of the speckled vanilla beans in the icing, so I kept the icing white.  I am definitely not a pastry chef – I had so much trouble icing the cakes neatly!

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