28 September 2010

Weekend Away

This weekend we escaped up North to my aunt and uncles bach in the Kaipara Harbour. Quiet, sunny, Spring, warm, relaxing, fun...but I think the pictures will tell you that better.

27 September 2010

Daring Bakers September 2010 - Decorated Sugar Cookies

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.

These were also meant to be decorated with the theme of September. Since it's Spring here (except you wouldn't know it, as it's rained everyday) I thought I'd go with spring flowers. It's also the month that I've finished my chemotherapy so they are made with happiness and love! Hehe.

The first ones I made were done with the basic recipe but the second ones have a generous amount of espresso coffee blended by my good friend Arron at Heaven Espresso especially for my baking. These ones are not for the kiddies as just one cookie gives a fantastic caffeine hit.

These are good (maybe even better) dipped in dark chocolate and eaten with a shot of espresso. Now that's a way to get going in the morning!

The next batch were done for my sister in law for her birthday present.

Recipe is below:

Basic Sugar Cookies:
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies
200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

• Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture.
Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during
baking, losing their shape.

• Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
• Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
• Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
• Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an
hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and
then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.

• Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
• Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
• Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
• Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
• Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
• Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in
some cookies being baked before others are done.

Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
• Leave to cool on cooling racks.
• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated
cookies can last up to a month.

17 September 2010

Lemon and Poppyseed Muffins

I LOVE lemons. I love poppyseeds. The two combined are delicious and make for a great morning tea muffin. Or afternoon tea.

What I have noticed recently is there are no poppyseeds at the supermarket. I've successfully found them at my local fruit & vege shop but no where can they be found at the supermarket. I've tried New World, Pak n Save and Foodtown. Nada. Can anyone shed any light on why?

Anyway here's my recipe.

100g butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 cup milk
zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons poppyseeds
2 tablespoons icing sugar

Grease muffin tins well (this makes 6 texan size or 10-12 regular).
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time and then the milk and half the lemon juice and zest.
Carefully add the flour and poppyseeds, mixing until just combined. Do not ovetrmix (which means if there is still flour visible, it doesn't matter - that's a good thing).
Bake at 200 deg C for 20-25 mins. Just before they are due to come out of the oven mix the rest of the lemon juice with the icing sugar until it is a watery paste. Spoon over the tops of the muffins and bake in oven for a few extra minutes. This allows the top of the muffins to have a lovely lemony sugary topping. Its yum!

Eat hot with some honey butter spread on them!

14 September 2010

Weekend Roundup

This weekend we got together as a family and celebrated my sister-in-law Meagan's birthday.

I love these shots of the kids - they were messing around inside a set of cubby holes. Oh the hilarity!

And we were entertained by Meagan's gorgeous wee girl who found the flash on my camera so exciting she screamed with happiness every time I took a picture.

Lovely times!

Pastoral Care Evening - Cancer

Next Thursday night St Pauls are holding a pastoral care evening on cancer. There's been a number of people diagnosed or know someone who has been diagnosed in the church this year and St Pauls pastoral team are holding this as a way to meet the needs of the people who want to know more.
This involves four people who will share on different aspects of cancer - namely, a medical perspective (that's mum talking!); what it's like to go through chemotherapy (that's me talking!); what it's like to lose a loved one to cancer, and a pastoral response to cancer. An open discussion time will follow the presentations.
Its bound to be a very interesting evening.

Details are: St Pauls Church, 25 Symonds St @ 7.30pm if you or anyone you know is interested.

I'm busy working on what I'm going to say -there's a lot to say but getting it down on paper is proving a tad difficult. Hopefully it goes well!

10 September 2010

Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding with Pears

Although I am excited that spring is here and summer is around the corner - it also means the end of winter puddings. Boo. I LOVE puddings. Its the englishness in me. Bread and butter pudding, sticky date - all those make me weak at the knees and I'm only too happy to curl up with a bowl full of sweetness.

But there are a few more cold nights on the cards so here's a hearty, chocolately dessert that will not only warm you up and fill you up but use up the last of the winter pears. Handy.

 2 pears - peeled and sliced
100g butter
3/4 brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tablespoon cornflour

Preheat oven to 180deg C. Grease ovenproof dish and line with sliced pear.

Cream butter, add sugar, egg and vanilla.

Fold in mixed flour, baking powder and cocoa. When mixed place in dish over the pear - spread evenly.

Mix the second amount of sugar with the cocoa and cornflour and sprinkle evenly over the top. Using the underside of a large spoon, pour the boiling water over the top.

Place in oven and bake for 35mins.

When baked, dust with icing sugar and serve. Eat while hot!