31 October 2009
30 October 2009
I made some cupcakes. Strawberry swirl buttercake. The icing colour is not very nice. Bit of a sickly pink.
On a good note the kids ate them!
27 October 2009
My very first daring bakers challenge was chosen by Ami S. This is a macaron recipe from Claudia Fleming's The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern.
For my first daring bakers challenge I was quite excited about this. I had been wanting an excuse to try them out after sampling the most delicious raspberry macarons from a new shop in Eversleigh Rd, and also Pyrenees the french deli just down the road do the most petite ones! I have been wondering how hard it really could be!
First of all I decided to make the almond flour from scratch, mostly because none of the shops sell it around here and I figured it couldn't be that hard. All you need is a blender, blanched almonds and some icing sugar. So I did that well in advance and kept it for another week. I had a plan with my macarons!
I added the icing sugar to the almond flour, and then beat the egg whites to a soft peak. I wanted to do this fairly simple so I decided I'd just add lemon rind and do a lovely rich chocolate ganache for the filling.
So in went the lemon rind after gradually adding the almond flour to the egg whites and folding in slowly.
I then filled a piping bag and put the mixture in. I had to draw circles on the baking paper so I would get a uniform size to my macarons. Note; I used a non toxic pencil and the pencil outline did rub off onto the bottom of my macarons but being blue in colour it tended to look like the bottom of the macaron was mouldy! Nothing that couldn't be hidden by the filling though.
Into the oven at 93 deg Celsius for 5 minutes. The aim of this was to get the base or 'foot' on the macarons. I had to do mine on 3 separate baking trays and the first tray I think I took out too early. The next two I left in for a little bit longer, only a minute or so but the foot was much sturdier looking. Then I chucked the oven temp up to 190 deg Celsius and baked them for 7 minutes. The first tray was a disaster. They all came out flat and huge, some of them had run into each other so they were also stuck together! Uh oh.
The next two trays however were much much better.
Success! Well kind of. After cooling the macarons I filled a piping bag with some dark chocolate ganache and sandwiched the best looking ones together. Some of the tops did crack in the process. The best ones were saved and thoroughly enjoyed by all the family - even the flat pathetic looking ones got eaten! I love a challenge and this certainly was one and I can't wait to try them again with different flavours and fillings.
The best ones went into the box for my audition for the baking show. See, they were good enough to help get me shortlisted for the show!
2 1/4 cups icing sugar
2 cups almond flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 egg whites, at room temperature
1. Preheat the oven to 93°C. Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 190°C. Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.
23 October 2009
Well I found out I'm on the shortlist for the show. I will know by next week when the shortlist is finalised and sent to TV3 for them to consider. But I still don't know any more info!
In regards to the extra baking that I said I would have up on the site this week I got my calender muddled and it will be up next week. Sorry.
Mum and I started a Wilton decorating course last week at Milly's in Parnell. The first week was an overwhelming information session where we learned what we are doing, how to make buttercream icing and all the different products we will need for the course. Mum and I left with our heads exploding and our wallets much more emptied ( Milly's is heaven for bakey people like us!).
What I found interesting and probably against everything I believe in for my own baking is that the so called buttercream we are told to make and use for this course involves anything but butter or cream. The recipe for the Wilton buttercream is 1 cup of sno creme - this is just whipped fat. 4 cups of icing sugar, butter flavouring (butter flavouring!) and meringue powder. It is sweet and generally lacking in any real flavour as far as I am concerned. After always making and using my own buttercream made from real butter and real milk and flavours as natural as I could get them it seemed cheaty.
Last night, for session 2, we learned how to pipe stars, curves, dots and the base for the rose. Talk about messy! It wasn't a good start when our instructor Mel came around and tested our buttercream we had to bring with us. My stiff, medium and thin icing turned out to be medium, thin and really too thin but with mums icing being all stiff we worked it out in the end! So we were off to a good start. Despite the mess we had a really good time. Sitting in the back row we giggled and laughed with our other course participants. Especially the lady who we had found laughing her head off while scraping her cake off the carpark when she arrived!
I also discovered why the Wilton buttercream is preferred. It is certainly much easier to work with than real buttercream, especially used in the right consistency. It dries easier and is much more pliable and generally less messy to use. In terms of getting the look of a professional it is far superior. Which makes me ask the question. Do people prefer looks over taste? I know what I would choose any day, so I don't think the Wilton buttercream will be making many appearances on Delissimon. The skills I am learning will though.
Anyway here's our first efforts at cake decorating "The Wilton Way":
I love that she piped "1st Attempt"! Mum fed hers to her hungry nursing colleagues at work this morning after joking she'd leave it anonymously on a paper plate in the lunch room. I think she did an awesome job, especially as she has never done this before!
This is my one. See this angle? You don't see the back part where the cake smashed its way over on the ferry to the course. Oops.
16 October 2009
CAKE! (but just a wee one)
Unfortunately one of the fondant flowers got stuck to the cellophane bag when I got to the studio but it hopefully didn't matter! We just turned it around so no one could see it.
I also took something else, but because its part of a Daring Bakers challenge I can't show it. You'll see it next week when I post it on here.
And also here's a wee very simple chocolate fudge cake that I delivered this morning to Owens bosses son Andrew. Happy Birthday Andrew!
07 October 2009
The death toll lies at 170 with more suspected to come. Thousands of people have lost their homes, family members and many in NZ have been affected by this too. My heart and my prayers go out to them all.
There are many stories that have saddened me but this one also touched me. A 4 day old baby Tamatoa Inglemells was born a month premature after his parents had to run for their lives. The story is here in the NZ Herald website. If he doesn't get his flight home to NZ he will die in Samoa. I encourage you to give whatever you can to help this family or many others in desperate need.
Aww isn't he lovely?
**Update: Yesterday the New Zealand Government paid for a mercy flight home for Tamatoa and he is coming home today. People have mentioned to me their lack of sympathy for this couple, as the decision to travel in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy always carries risk, this being precisely the reason why they did not have travcl insurance; they would not have been covered. But at the end of the day he is a helpless wee premature baby needing urgent medical care. I am pleased that the government is helping.
The many ways you can help with the tsunami relief efforts are:
Pacific Cooperation Foundation
Deposits can be made at at any Westpac branch. All the money raised will go to the Samoan Government
- Make a secure online donation at redcross.org.nz
- Send cheques to the Samoan Red Cross Fund, PO Box 12140, Thorndon, Wellington 6144
- Call 0900 31 100 to make an automatic $20 donation
- Make a donation at any NZ Red Cross office
Oxfam - Make a secure online donation at Oxfam.org.nz - Phone 0800 400 666 or make an automatic $20 donation by calling 0900 600 20
Caritas - Make a secure online donation at Caritas.org.nz
- Phone 0800 22 10 22 or make an automatic $20 donation by calling 0900 4 11 11
TEAR fund - Make a secure online donation at tearfund.co.nz
- Phone 0800 800 777 to specify Samoa the Philippines or Indonesia. You can also donate at CD and DVD stores.
Mercury Energy - Donate at mercury.co.nz
or text the word Samoa followed by the amount you wish to pledge and your Mercury account number to 515 or by calling 0800 10 18 10.
05 October 2009
02 October 2009
This first one was a farewell cake for a lady heading back to South Africa. It is lemon with a lemon buttercream icing.
This second one is for an 80th birthday. The man who is celebrating his octogenarian status is a keen sailor, and the family asked for a very simple but chocolately cake with a life preserver ring featured.
It is chocolate fudge with a rich buttercream in 4 layers. Yum!