Sunday, November 28, 2010


The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Short and Sweet

Am a short on time this month but this turned out sweet ! Fortunately the challenge is something I’ve made many of over time. I also watched my Mum make them time and time again – they were only ever called pies or tarts, but came in all flavours, sizes and varieties, with lattices and lids.
My in-house tasters report this was delicious.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Let's Go Nuts for Doughnuts

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge the Daring Bakers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious -recipes here
Wow - this was really good fun. I made the first recipe by Alton Brown and made doughnuts with and without a hole. The dough really rose up as you can see and I took the advice of another experienced Daring Baker and added very little extra flour throughout the rolling and resting process. The dough is certainly silky !

I made sure the oil for deep frying (Alfa One Rice Bran ) was heated to the correct temperature and the doughnuts cooked so quickly - could only manage one in the pan at a time. Some Daring Bakers were concerned about frying and greasiness, I can honestly say that this recipe cooked in Rice Bran Oil is not in the least fatty or greasy - the crust is very thin and light.

I coated the ring doughnuts with cinamon sugar (1/2 cup caster sugar + 1 Tbs cinnamon).

The whole (round) doughnuts were injected with strawberry jam (preserve) and dusted with icing sugar (confectioner's, powdered).

This challenge was great ( thanks Lori)- it's really interesting making something at home that you have only ever tasted the commercial version of. I've been thinking about that a lot lately - of course most things were home baked before they were ever commercially produced but so often your first experiences of a product is the mass produced variety - I'm thinking especially about icecream - how delicious home-made is and doesn't have all those emulsifiers and additives - guess the same goes for doughnuts.
Look for other Daring Bakers' efforts here !

Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Baker's September 2010

Get Creative!
The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

The theme was “September”. It may have been back to school; the start of Spring or Autumn/Fall depending where we are in the world; September could also be someone special’s birthday or even the beginning of our favourite sporting season. Whatever happens in our life in September, that’s what our cookies had to be about.

September is Springtime in New Zealand, so I purchased a couple of flower cookie cutters and set about making flower themed sugar cookies. Piping is something I’ve not done much of and it is definitely a challenge for me – guess it’s one of those things where practice makes perfect and patience is an asset.

Sugar cookies aren’t really that big of a thing in New Zealand, mostly seen at Christmas time. I think they are starting to be more popular. Early on in the challenge someone posted a link to a site called University of Cookie , which is amazing but made me feel pretty overwhelmed! I can see that this is a real big deal in the U.S and when I have more time I will watch the video tutorials on that site, there is also a stream on where there are literally thousands of photos of the most amazing decorated sugar cookies – stumbled across it and now can’t find it again.

These are my attempts at decorated sugar cookies – I learned that it is best to tint/colour all the royal icing before thickening or thinning it to get a consistent colour – hence my two tone pink flower cookies.!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Monday 30 August was New Zealand's annual SPCA CUPCKAKE DAY - the day when people in their workplace or school or neighbourhood bake and sell cupcakes to fundraise for the SPCA ( Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ).
I co-ordinated the day in the school where I work, we had a fantastic day with over 500 cupcakes donated by students and parents - we sold them to the students at morning tea and lunchtime and were able to send off a donation to the SPCA for NZ$541. Here are some of the wondefully decorated cupcakes.

Friday, August 27, 2010


~ Nutty and toasty meets cool and creamy...

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

This was my first Daring Bakers challenge. I decided to make both the Baked Alaska and the Petit Fours, so after doing the calculations I made one quantity of the Brown Butter Pound Cake and the Vanilla Icecream and was able to make 10 Petit Fours and two Baked Alaskas .

There was quite a lot of process and freezing time required in this recipe so I made the cake (froze it) and icecream one weekend and then did the assembling the next weekend.

As this was my first challenge I stayed with the recipes given by Elissa and they worked out perfectly. It's easy to make icecream without an icecream maker, just requires being around to do the stirring every 30 minutes.

Since reading other daring bakers' blogs for this challenge I've realised that I probably should have taken more photos of the baking process to post with the recipe - next time

The Baked Alaska served

The Petit Fours served

Check out the Daring Bakers site to see some of the other DBs creations and download the recipes.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

It's winter down here in New Zealand, just the weather for enjoying the all time favourite comfort food - fruit crumble. I've been making this recipe a lot lately and have also substituted tamarillos for the rhubarb. The recipe is from Al Brown and was in the New Zealand Cuisine magazine - issue 141 July 2010.
Rhubarb & Date CrumbleServes 6-8

For the rhubarb
600g rhubarb, cut in 2cm pieces
3 large apples, peeled, cored and cut in 2cm pieces
½ cup apple juice
1 cup pitted dates, halved
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground ginger

Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan, mix together and place on medium – high heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the fruit just starts to break down. Pour into your favourite ovenproof dish. The fruit should be 3cm – 4cm deep in the base.

For the crumble
¾ cup rolled oats
½ cup soft brown sugar
¾ cup flour
1 cup roasted unsalted macadamias, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
100g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
300 ml cream, whipped to soft peaks

Place all the ingredients except the cream in a large mixing bowl. Rub together by hand until the mixture begins to come together, but is still quite course. There should be no visible chunks of butter. Spoon the crumble evenly over the rhubarb mix then refrigerate until required.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC then bake the crumble for 20 minutes or until the topping is golden and crisp. Dish out the crumble into bowls and serve with lashings of whipped cream.
Enjoy !

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hummingbird Bakery Coffee Cake

I have never made such a big cake before - 8 eggs ! this makes a really big cake - great for a special occasion. I made this cake for a work colleague's birthday morning tea and all who had a piece said it was delicious ( those who were dieting that week don't know what they missed!) I have also made a half recipe and still got a really good sized cake for my family cake tin.

Notes - thoughts:

  • If you are going to make this cake regularly make up a big quantity of the coffee essence and store it - it will speed things up at the beginning of the recipe
  • Chocolate covered coffee beans make a nice decoration too.

Hummingbird Bakery

Coffee Cake
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
450 g unsalted butter
450 g caster sugar
8 eggs
450 g plain flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cocoa powder – plus extra to decorate
1 quantity Hummingbird Vanilla Frosting
60 g dark chocolate – grated into shavings to decorate
Coffee beans to decorate (optional)
A 25 -26cm ring mould – greased and dusted with flour

  • Firstly make coffee essence by putting coffee granules and 170mls water in a small saucepan, bring to boil over medium heat. Boil until reduced by half and remove from heat and leave to cool completely. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the essence to use in the frosting.
  • Preheat the oven to 170º (325ºF) Gas 3.
  • In a freestanding mixer using a paddle attachment beat butter, sugar and coffee essence until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping down sides of bowl after each addition.
  • Beat in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder until everything is combined and the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Pour into ring mould and smooth surface.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until sponge feels firm to touch. (Do not open the oven up until the 40 mins or the cake will sink).
  • Remove from oven and leave to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Make the Hummingbird Vanilla frosting (recipe below) incorporating the reserved tablespoon of coffee essence at end of step 1.
  • When the cake is cold put on a serving plate, cover the top with frosting, dust lightly with a sprinkling of cocoa powder and decorate with the chocolate shavings and coffee beans, if using.
Hummingbird Vanilla Frosting
250 g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter
25 ml whole milk
a couple of drops of vanilla extract

  • Beat icing sugar and butter together in freestanding mixer on medium slow speed until the mixture comes together.
  • Turn the mixer down to slow speed and add the milk (and vanilla essence previously mixed) gradually.
  • Once all the milk has been incorporated turn the mixture up to high speed.
  • Beat for at least 5 minutes until fluffy and light.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies.

More from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. These have become a real favourite at our place. I get 32 good sized cookies from this mixture - original recipe says 24.


225g unsalted butter (but salted works well)
200g caster sugar
200g light soft brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
240g cruncy peanut butter
340g plain flour
2 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
75g dark chocolate chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 170c/325f/gas 3. Grease and line a few baking trays with greaseproof paper.
2. Beat the butter and sugars in a freestanding electric mixer (or use a handheld electric whisk) until light and fluffy.
3.Add the eggs one at a time, making sure all the ingredients are well incorporated. Turn the mixer down to low, and add the peanut butter and vanilla extract.
4. Then add the dry ingredients, flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and mix until the dough is smooth. Stir in the chocolate until it’s evenly mixed.
5. Arrange 6-8 equal amounts on each baking tray, leaving spaces between them, as these cookies spread out.
6.Bake for 10 -12 minutes, or just until they start to turn golden at the edges and cracked in the middle. If they feel soft in the middle, still take them out, as they continue cooking after being taken out of the oven and this makes them perfect and chewy after they’ve cooled.
7.Leave the cookies to cool slightly on the trays before turning onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
8. Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I recently purchased the hummingbird bakery cookbook- Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers and am having fun trying out the recipes. Here's my version of double chocolate cookies. My tasters tell me they are great - chocolatey, chewy and delicious!
Below is the original recipe, but I used half dark chocolate and half white chocolate - used the white chocolate to stir in at the end. Also I got 24 good sized cookies from the recipe - guess 12 would be really big ones!
Double Chocolate Cookies
Makes 12

50g unsalted butter
450g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 eggs
170g soft light brown sugar or light muscovado sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
85g plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
2 baking trays, lined with greaseproof paper

Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas 3.
Put the butter and half the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water). Leave until melted and smooth.
Put the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until well mixed. Pour in the chocolate mixture, beating on slow speed until well combined.
Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a separate bowl, then stir into the chocolate mixture in 3 additions, mixing well after each addition (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Finally, stir in the remaining chocolate until evenly dispersed.
Arrange 6 equal amounts of cookie dough on each prepared baking tray. Make sure that the cookies are spaced apart to allow for spreading while baking. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, checking regularly after 10 minutes. They are ready when the tops start to crack and look glossy. Leave the cookies to cool slightly on the trays before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On holiday, a bit of time on my hands, time on the net, stumbled upon The Daring Kitchen and want to join. Seems like I will need a blog.
I have baked since I was 10, started my first recipe book then too. In my childhood I was surrounded by people who baked, made puddings and desserts - it was just a part of our lives growing up in the 60s, my Mum baked, my aunties baked and the women in our street baked. It was a necessity.I spent hours watching my mother cook and bake - I didn't always participate, ingredients were precious - disasters weren't an option. But I watched and watched and watched, absorbed techniques I didn't know were sinking in.
Fast forward to adult me, it took a while to realise that although I loved to cook the sweet delights were my passion to produce, baking cakes, biscuits(cookies), muffins, scones, loaves, desserts and sweet treats. I have bought way too many cooking books in my time - my habit is to always go to the back half of the book and see what is in the dessert and baking sections and then decide if i'll purchase or not.
When I travel I always linger outside cake shops and peruse the local fare, find the cook/ chef supply shops and I'm happy ! Also love the history of baking.
Baking is my hobby - problem being that there's little left to show for it after the latest offering has been consumed and enjoyed. Artists, sewers, quilters and gardeners have proof of time spent - so thanks to the digital camera and the net here's my record of time well spent.