Biscuits – roll them out, cut them up into shapes kind

Right it’s the second week of school holidays here.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had time off from work these holidays so I’ve been with the kids every day of the holidays. It’s been lovely to spend time with the kids, but when you’re peppered by chorus of I’m bored, what can I do, plus add one autistic child thrown out of routine into the mix and the 2 weeks can seem long time.

So in order to combat the boredom these holidays we’ve been making the most of this lovely spring bordering on summer weather and doing lots of outside stuff. We’ve been hiking to see waterfalls and as a bonus saw koalas, been on waterslides, been to the beach, gardened together, had picnics, visited play grounds. But we’ve also had some indoor time too doing arts and crafts and cooking in the kitchen. We’ve made butter from scratch, baked cakes and made biscuits. I made these at the kids request as they wanted a biscuit they could write their names with. So I pulled out my stock standard rollout and cut up shapes biscuit recipe and out came our newly acquired alphabet biscuit cutters and we made biscuits.

I love the smell of butter and vanilla and all the ingrediants created a very tasty dough.

Roll out, cut out biscuits – recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson How to be a Domestic Goddess

175g butter at room temp

200g caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

400g flour

1 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.

Beat in eggs one at a time then beat in vanilla

Mix together flour and baking powder and add into wet ingredients. Mix until dough starts to form. I usually tip it out onto a kitchen bench while it’s almost a bit crumbly and then shape into 2 discs. wraps each disc in cling wrap and place in fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees

Once chilled its ready to roll out. I roll mine out between 2 lightly floured pieces of baking paper and roll till about 1/2 cm thick. cut out into desired shapes using biscuit cutters. left over dough can be reworked together and rolled out again.

Place shapes on baking paper lined tray and bake for approx 10-15 mins, or until lightly browned. leave to cool on trays for about 5 mins before moving to a cooling rack.

Strawberry and Lemon Lime Melting Moments

Spring is here!

Ok one might say sprint started just under a month ago at the beginning of September, but now, just in the last couple of weeks or so it really feel like the season has changed. The days are getting longer and there is real warmth in the suns rays.

There’s oh so many flowers around. Just in my small front yard alone there is a delightful combination of wisteria, jasmine, daisies, roses, lavender, geraniums all blissfully flowering.

It’s probably because of all the flowers and lovely green shoots that I think spring is pretty and feminine. Much like these melting moments. They are all pretty with the different colours and say eat me outside in the sun with a cup of tea. Of course most importantly they are delicious.

Strawberry and Lemon Lime Melting Moments – recipe adapted from Super Food Ideas August 2012

Biscuit

250g butter softened

1/2 cup icing sugar (I used icing mixture because that’s all I had it worked out fine)

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 1/2 cups plain flour

2/3 cup cornflour

Preheat you oven to 180 degrees, line a couple of baking trays with baking paper

Sift icing sugar into to butter and add vanilla beat until light and fluffy

Sift in flour and corn flour, mix to form soft dough

Roll a tablespoon of the dough until a ball, place on baking tray, repeat until mixture is used up making sure you leave space between each ball. What you want to is make sure the balls are all about the same size, as this will give you biscuits of the same size which is easier for sandwiching together with filling. Once you’ve done that, press down lightly on each ball with a fork to flatten it. Bake in oven swapping trays around 1/2 way through cooking until lightly golden, about 15 mins.

Filling

60g softened butter

1 cup icing sugar/icing mixture

1 tsp strawberry essence

pink food colouring

1tsp finely grated lemon rind

1/2 tps finely grated lime rind

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Sift icing sugar in, beat until combined. Put 1/2 mixture into another bow. Add strawberry essence and pink food colouring and mix well. Add lemon and lime rind to remaining icing mixture.

Spread the icing mixture over the flat side of 1/2 biscuits (probably don’t put the strawberry icing on the same biscuits as the lemon lime icing because I’m thinking it might not taste so good). Sandwich the remaining biscuits flat side down on top of iced biscuits.

Eat outside in the sun with a cup of tea

Blue Ribbon Baking- My Royal Show Baking

If you’ve been living under a rock this week in Adelaide the Royal Adelaide Show was been on. For those of you outside Australia it’s similar to a State Fair. About 500 000 people attend the show. There’s rides, show bags, animals, wood chopping, fireworks food, wine, a cornucopia of stalls selling stuff and an incredible variety of competition categories form including cookery.

Last year we had a look at the baking entries and I thought I reckon I could give that a go, so this year I did. for most of the open cookery there is no qualify you just fill out your entry form and pay your entry fee and turn up on allocated day with your baked goodies.

Instead of starting small and entering 1 category I thought I’d tempt a baking induced nervous breakdown and enter 3 categories. Chocolate cake, carrot cake and Anzac biscuits. I bake really good version of these (see my Anzac Biscuits post) so thought I’d give it go.

In the months leading up to it I was intent on baking these things often to get a consistent result. I didn’t bake them as much as I really should have but people I’d still have to suffer through multiple tastings of these baked goodies. My husband at present can’t really face another Anzac biscuit.

So I had the day off work the day before I had to enter my goods. I imagined the day being spent listening to some tunes while I got my bake on. In fact it started with a dog chicken disaster and a sick child at home. None the less behind schedule I started baking. My first carrot cake was good as was my first batch of Anzac biscuits. The chocolate cake however was a complete and utter failure. It fell apart as I was getting it out of the cake tin. I also wasn’t happy with how high it had risen. So back to the drawing board I used another recipe with some modifications. it rose well, but then it too fell apart coming out of the tin. I drunk what seems a bazillion cups of tea and lunch had been cake batter so I was feeling all nervous and jittery on a caffeine/sugar high and getting panicked by the chocolate cake. So I baked another batch of Anzac biscuits which again worked well, then gave the chocolate cake a third time lucky go. Hallelujah it worked. I hadn’t put walnuts in my first carrot cake so thought I might make another with walnuts. By this time it was 9pm and I was all baked out. I put the walnuts in the cake, but forgot the bi carb/orange juice mixture. I realised this after I’d just popped the cake in the oven so pulled it out and stirred it through. But when I go the cake out of the tin it looked 2 toned as I hadn’t stirred it through thoroughly. But I had my first carrot cake so all good. I then iced the carrot cake and chocolate cake without incident (a miracle given it was near 11pm)

So after 12 hours baking and an insane amount of eggs, flour, butter and sugar later I was all done .

I lined up with everyone else to drop off their baked goods the next day. Which was itself fascinating seeing all the people with all their cooked goods, as well as seeing frantic last minute preparations for setting up the show

Well how’d I go? No ribbons for me as you can see in the picks below my entries were different form the winning entries. But I’m ok with that. I’m more impressed that I did it.

My Anzac biscuits

The winning Anzac biscuits (noticeably smaller)

My chocolate cake

The winning chocolate cake

My carrot cake

Th wining one (clearly the cute little carrots on the icing were a winner)

Would I enter again, sure, next year I’m aiming to enter the Anzac biscuits because mine were pretty damn good, just bigger than the ribbon winners, the rock cakes and lamingtons (see my blog post for my amazing lamingtons).

Vanilla Slice

Next in my adventures in baking the great Australian classics – Vanilla Slice

confession until I made vanilla slice I’d only eaten it once and wasn’t overly impressed.

From what my friend Wikipedia tells me it’s based on a Mille Feuille. This is alternating layers of puff pastry and cream patisserie. A vanilla slice is a simplistic version of this – puff pastry on the bottom, a layer of delicious custard, topped with puff pastry and covered in delicious icing/

This recipes also for those who claim they can’t make custard, because its super easy and you can make custard.

puff pastry action

simple ingrediants for custard

all coming together in

Vanilla Slice

2 sheets puff pastry defrosted

2eggs

5 tbls corn flour

3 cups of milk

3 tbls sugar

2 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 cup passionfruit pulp

2 cups icing mixture

preheat oven to 180 degrees

Prick puff pastry with a fork and place in oven. Bake until golden.

cut to size to fit in tin (in this case I used a square cake tin). line tin with a strip of foil or baking paper longer than width of tin (you need it over hang edges of tin). place one sheet of puff pastry on bottom of tin

Whisk eggs cornflour and milk in saucepan. heat over medium heat until it starts to become thick, then whisk in sugar and vanilla. You need the custard to be pretty thick so keep whisking until I gets there.

Pour custard into puff pastry lined tin. {Place second sheet of puff pastry on top.

Put passionfruit pulp into a bowl then mix in 1 cup of icing mixture, keep adding icing mmixture4 a little bit at a time till you get a thick icing, Spread icing over puff pastry. Place in fridge to set

Cut up, eat enjoy

*** if you want to make a pouring custard follow directions above but only use 3 tbls cornflour & 1 tsp vanilla, and heat till it coats back of spoon

*** you can replace passionfruit icing with icing of choice if passionfruit is not your thing

Sundays with Joy – Zucchini Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I’m what one might call an enthusiastic gardener. I have grand plans about growing stuff and plant out, lots of things, but I don’t quite have a green thumb so not everything grows. My vegetable garden attempts are pretty much the same. I often plant out a variety of stuff and some of it grows.

We’ve got 2 smallish veggie garden beds in our garden.

One was larger but as you can see in the background we put in a chicken coup and run. We recently chicken sat a friends chickens while she was on holiday, it went well so we’ll be getting out own. so in front of the chicken run is pretty hot in summer so I’m thinking of planting chillies/capsicum.

At the moment the other garden bed is a mixture of a parsley/kale forest some pea seedlings , which are in a bit late but the kids really wanted to grow them and some tomato seedlings which unlike the peas are probably in too early, as well  garlic in amongst it all. We’ve just fenced this off form our puppy so I’m a bit excited at what we can plant up the fencing wire in summer, probably cucumbers and beans but I’m keen to try melons as well. I suspect we might try to squeeze some corn in there as well as the good ole Zucchinis. I plant them every year and they always grow. At first they seem a bit slow to fruit then suddenly it’s all day of the triffords and they are just going berserk growing massive zucchinis in what seems like a day. This of course gives you a zucchini glut and there is only so much you can give away and put into savoury dishes.

This week the Sundays with Joy Facebook group made Zucchini Cream Cheese Pound Cake which will be perfect for using up the massive glut of zucchini’s.

It was really similar to a carrot cake and I was tempted to put walnuts in it and probably will next time. I iced it with Joy’s brown sugar cream cheese icing which improved on the already yummy cake.

recipe from Joy the Baker cookbook

Sundays with Joy – S’mores Brownies

Food can be a strange thing, but it can also be a historical thing to. I mean what we call biscuits, is known in the UA as cookies, and there biscuits are scone like to us and what they call scones is one big round cut into wedges. Why is this and how did it occur. Some people might not care as long as its tastes good. But I’m sure these subtle food naming difference represent something deeper historically.

This thinking about food history really came about after a colleague went to the USA and reported back about the triangle wedge scones. She said they were similar in texture and taste but not the same as our cones. It posed the question why were scones in USA different from ours. We guessed maybe our strong connection with the English lead us to follow their food and baking traditions long after maybe the Americans had abandoned them. Was it availability of ingredients, was it to serve some other purpose. We couldn’t really get to the bottom of it.

But my point is why food is cooked eaten and named is really a link to the history of a country or region. A dish usually evolves because of need plus available ingredients. So by looking deeper as to why a dish/recipe is the way it is you can understand the history behind it and of the region it comes from. Eg Damper is an example. It’s an Australian bread , but it’s made pretty much with flour salt and water (sometimes milk), but no yeast, it’s also traditionally cooked on the coals of campfires. Why? Well it evolved out in the Australian outback where people did have access to flour and salt but wouldn’t have had access to yeast. They probably didn’t have access to an oven, particularly if they were exploring, mustering, travelling or early settlers. So from all of these we get damper but also a bit of understanding of life in the Australian outback 100 plus yrs ago.

So what does this have to do with the Sundays with Joy facebook group? This week we made S’mores brownies. Now I know brownies are a North American thing, Cleary born form a need for a fudgy cake type slice, but I had no idea what S’mores are. In fact I’m still a bit lost on what they are, I’m suspecting they are something we call something different tin Australia (again why does this happen, what’s the reason behind it). I’m guessing they are marshmallow campfire things. Joy’s intro into the recipe in the book kind of gives that away.

But is uses Graham crackers which really threw me. Some investigation and some help from the Sundays with Joy facebook group gave me the indication they were a basic sweet biscuit (if they are a biscuit then why are they called a cracker, not a cookie?) . I suspect my choice of plain sweet biscuits (Arnott’s Granita biscuits) wasn’t quite right but none the less a set out to bake me something I didn’t quite understand (again what are s’mores?).

The ingredients look pretty promising

The result

whatever county you’re in it was chocolaty fudgy goodness with marshmallows on top and biscuit chunks within and I’m hoping thats what it was supposed to be.

Recipe in the Joy the Baker cookbook

Blog link up via Bakeaholic Mama

.

Caramelised Onion and Feta Tart

The tart in the photos was made for a farewell morning tea for a colleague. I’ve worked with her for over 11 years and will miss her knowledge and her willingness to share that knowledge and I’ll also miss her on a personal level.

We had one of my workplace’s famous morning teas to farewell her. Unlike most of my colleagues who are sweet tooths she has a savoury tooth. For that reason instead of making a cake or other sweet baked good I made a caramelised onion and feta tart

This tarts amazing, it has to be as its pushed my incredibly popular spinach dip out the way in most requested thing I make. it sends people into a eating frenzy

Make this and people will be requesting you make it over and over. But that’s ok because it’s so delicious

Lets make us a tart

all of this makes the caramelised onion

and all of this makes the pastry

pastry plus caramlised onions = tasty tasty

Caramelised Onion and Feta Tart – recipe adapted from the Free Range Cook by Annabel Langbein

Caramelised Onions

6 red onions cut into thin wedges

375ml water

100gbrown sugar

75ml balsamic vinegar

2tbsp oil

1/2 tsp salt

Place all the ingredients into a large pot and bring to the boil then simmer gently, stirring now and then, for about 1 hour until the liquid has all but evaporated and the onions are very soft. It important to keep a close eye on it towards the end to make sure the onions don’t catch and burn/

Remove from the heat and cool before popping into a container and storing in the fridge.

Pastry – you can use puff pastry instead, but this pastry is really yummy
250g strong white flour the stuff you might use of making bread
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
220g frozen butter grated
4tbsp cold water

To make the pastry, mix the flour and baking powder in food processor.

Add the grated butter and process in bursts until it resembles rough crumbs.

Add the cold water a bit at a time until you have a soft dough, Try not to over work the dough otherwise the pastry will end up tough.
Place a large sheet of baking paper on your work surface and tip the dough onto it. Place another sheet of baking Roll the pastry out between 2 sheets of baking paper until you have about a 35cm circle.

Leave between the baking paper put on a baking tray. Chill in the fridge for min 10 minutes or until ready to use.

Filling
Caramelised Onions (recipe above)
150g feta cheese
2tsp fresh thyme

Preheat your oven to 200C

Take the pastry from the fridge and remove the top layer of baking paper.

Spread the onions over the top leaving an approx. 4cm border all around.

Crumple the feta over the top and sprinkle with thyme.

Fold the pastry edges toward the centre to partially enclose the filling, I will look a little rustic, that’s ok.
Bake for 40 minutes or until pastry is golden and crispy.