28 February 2010


I was watching the episode of New Zealand's Hottest Home Baker on Thursday where the contestants make pies. I've spent the whole week wondering if had I made it through the last round what would I have made? Making pastry is not something that I've ever been consistently good at and I've had some disasters and some successes.

As well as being surprised that Karen went (no one could doubt her pastry making ability), I was also surprised not to see any classic bacon & egg pies. I think that is what I would have made as its so versatile, easy, delicious and can be served hot or cold.
Here's my family size bacon and egg pie recipe:

Pastry (from the Edmonds cookbook):
2 cups plain flour
125g butter (cold and cut into small pieces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of cold water

400g Bacon
Eggs (I used heaps- 11 I think)
Salt & pepper

Chuck the flour, salt and butter into the food processor and whizz until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water until the mixture forms a ball and remove.
Roll out onto lightly floured surface and line any shape tin/dish you like. I used my 20cm round cake tin. Make sure when you are rolling and lining that you don't play with your pastry too much. Otherwise the gluten in the flour really gets working and turns the pastry into concrete when its cooked!

The girls love using the leftovers to make 'special' shapes. Usually they are pretty inedible by the time they've finished, but its all good fun!

When you have lined your dish place the bacon and tomato on the bottom, crack as many eggs as you like. I used 8 and then mixed a couple more into the mix with some milk just to give the pie alot of filling. You can use ANY filling you like for this. I sometimes fill it with mushrooms as well and my mum chucks anything she can find sometimes, like leftover cooked potato or being English she sometimes puts frozen peas in or you can just have straight bacon and egg and serve with a side dish of salad.

22 February 2010

Oh those cookies!!

Yes. These little beauties. Well they could have been, except if you missed last weeks episode of New Zealand's Hottest Home Baker I burnt them! Oops. I didn't mean to, I was just under a little pressure.
These cookies were a chance to show I could do different and slightly exciting, but done well. And I didn't do them well. So here's a chance at redeeming myself as well as offering everyone a chance to get in the kitchen and try them too.

Green Tea and Almond Cookies
125g butter
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cornflour
1 tablespoon green tea leaves
1/2 cup ground almonds

Cream butter and sugar together and then add the vanilla and egg. Stir in the flour, cornflour, tea and almond and mix until it forms a ball of dough like this:

Then knead and roll between two pieces of baking paper to about 5cm thick. Cut with any shaped cookie cutter you like. Cover and pop in fridge for 30 mins if its warm or if you are in a hurry don't worry too much. Place on tray and sprinkle lightly with some extra caster sugar:

And bake for 10mins in 180 deg C oven.

These are lovely and light and not at all sweet. Extra nice if served with a cup of green tea too!

This china set was bought by my father in law in Japan in the 70's for my mother in law as a gift and comes complete as a whole dinner service. So I thought it was quite fitting to feature it in this post.

And check out these GORGEOUS little stackable doll measuring cups! I got them from an old school friend for a birthday present and I've been dying to feature them in this blog. I love love love them! Thanks Vanessa!!

Also, as an aside I DID try so hard to find Matcha (green tea powder) for that episode but to no avail. It is certainly not available in any of the major supermarkets around here, and not all Asian groceries stock it. It's also quite expensive. $20 for a 30g pot is not something I'm gonna use often. So green tea leaves are perfectly acceptable and much easier and cheaper for your average (but hot) home baker.

20 February 2010

Saturday Baking!

As of yesterday I am now selling my baking at Belmont Park Racquets Club in Bayswater Ave from 9am to 12pm. If you are in the area please come in for a coffee and a yummy bit of baking, or heck, sign up for a tennis membership while you're there!
Here's what was on today's menu...which was VERY popular with the kids!!

Chocolate mud cupcakes (the most popular by far but THE worst photo!):

Decorated biscuits - in a choice of chocolate or lemon:

Coconut and lemon slice (which was probably more cakey than slicey):

Cheese and herb scones:

and finally peach and cream cheese muffins:

It went pretty smoothly served up some fantastic coffee courtesy of my friend Arron and his Heaven Espresso blend.

It's so great to be a kitchen baking for lots of people and NOT have a 2 hour time limit and hot studio to do it in! I love it!

Chocolate Cake

A chocolate birthday cake for a special dad who usually makes them for everyone else.

This is chocolate cake is decadent and delicious, made with a dark chocolate ganache filling and a chocolate caramel buttercream.

14 February 2010

Sun, fun and a beautiful wedding...

This weekend I had the great honour and pleasure of making and taking a wedding cake down to Gisborne for a friends wedding. Taking a 3 tier cake on a 6 1/2 hour drive was a bit of a task so everything had to be done with great care.

The cake was chocolate on the bottom tier, lemon for middle and fruit cake for the top. The chocolate cake had a dark chocolate ganache filling and the lemon cake had a white chocolate and lemon ganache. The theme was love birds with the colours purple, wildflowers and an eclectic mix of all.

I made the cakes on Wednesday and froze them and then frosted them with a vanilla buttercream on Thursday, before covering them with fondant once that had set (and the cake had thawed). Then off we went on Friday afternoon with 3 separate cakes on a long journey. I was hoping and praying the packaging and boxes were going to keep the cakes from being thrown around the back of the car or just melting from the heat. But all the worrying was needless as the cakes were perfectly fine.

This was such a fun project, not only because it was for the wedding of a wonderful young couple and the fact that it included a road trip (without the kids!!!) but because it was a weekend of fun, laughter and an awesome group effort from our friends. A huge thanks goes out to Hannah, Ash & Cinzah for helping me out yesterday with the short time gap allowed for setting up the cake. And thanks also to Will who carried the cake so carefully in the car and for just keeping me laughing all weekend long and to Owen who is just a great support to me.

Here's how it all turned out...

08 February 2010

Valentines Cookies and more sprinkles

Wee pink heart cookies flooded with royal icing. The cookies are orange and almond and have a lovely delicate flavour. I added orange zest as well as orange juice to the dough mix to give a great look when you bite into the cookie. Because the zest was fine there was no bitterness from it. Just great flavour.

This is a great look, and so simple to do. Make up a batch of royal icing, tint it with your choice of colour and then pipe an outline on your cookie. Mix in a little water to your icing, then when the outline has dried enough flood the inside with your watered down icing. While its wet you can add sprinkles or coloured sugar crystals. Like these ones here.

I also had a go at doing a Valentines spiral sprinkle cookie, using a different recipe which was much more straightforward, I think the food processor version is just a little too fiddly.

These ones are raspberry and vanilla and both a little pink with pink girly sprinkles. These are just such fun cookies to make!

Happy Valentines Day for Sunday!

03 February 2010

Sprinkle spiral cookies

I first found these sprinkle spiral cookies here on one of my favourite blogs to visit - gorgeous food and always superbly photographed.

Mine were the peppermint version with bright green dough, that actually faded remarkably in the oven to a perfect minty green. It seems I'm adding mint to heaps of stuff lately. Can't get enough of it, maybe because its so hot and mint seems such a cooling flavour?? Does that even make sense?

The recipe is pretty straightforward and simple to use, except that it requires a food processor, and my food processor is ancient and slow. So the dough took forever, and even adding in the vanilla it was not enough liquid to bring it to a dough, so I added a small amount of water until it was the right consistency.

Sprinke Spiral Cookies
2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup unsifted icing sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
125g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon peppermint (or other) extract
1/2 teaspoon food colouring. I used green gel.
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 1/2 cups 100's & 1000's

Heat oven to 175 deg C. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and the sugars in a food processor and pulse briefly to mix. Pulse while adding in the butter in pieces until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Add the vanilla and process until it forms a ball. This is the part where I had to add extra water.

Divide the dough into 2 parts and put one back into the food processor to colour and flavour. Once that is done, add a little more flour to the mix and add until incorporated into the mix.

In between 2 sheets of baking paper, roll out each portion of dough into a rectangle and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I cheated and pulled mine out too fast. This is partly why my cookies aren't perfect rounds! You can keep this in the fridge for up to 3 days.

When ready peel off the tops of the baking paper from each dough. Brush the vanilla dough very lightly with water. Using the baking paper, lift the peppermint dough and flip it onto the vanilla dough so they are stacked. Press with your fingertips to seal the two doughs together. Remove the top sheet of baking paper and trim the edges even.
When the dough is just pliable (but still cold) roll up the dough (begin with the long side) like a sponge roll. As you begin to roll, gently curl the edge with your fingertips so you don't get any air pockets as you roll it into a log. As you roll, the vanilla portion may want to tear, pinch tears together as they happen and keep on rolling.
After forming the dough into a log gently lift the log on top of your tray of 100's & 1000's (or any sprinkles you want) and roll until log is completely coated. I actually found mine weren't sticking very well so I brushed the roll lightly with water. You can either slice now if its still cold or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to slice. This keeps for a week and will freeze for 2 months.

Slice approx 5cm thick, sprinkle with a light covering of caster sugar and place on tray lined with baking paper and bake for 15-17mins, until the cookies are no longer shiny on top and the bottoms of the vanilla portion are golden.

These ones are heading into my kids lunchbox tomorrow for their first day back at school for a nice bright snack!

02 February 2010

Long Weekend Roundup

Well the weather certainly made this Auckland Anniversary long weekend even longer. Torrential rain, thunder, wind and ohh the humidity! My hair was so frizzy - that in itself was enough to keep me inside.
Enough with the vanity - I spent a bit of time in the kitchen, even cooking a roast pork on Saturday night, only because it needed to be used. But oh wow, here's a tip; don't cook a roast in 28deg temps with 90% humidity. Horrid. Can only be alleviated with large cool drinks. Like vodka and orange for example.

On Friday I visited my friend Ashley and took her the remains of my Nanaimo bar for her and her partner Cinzah to eat as they are both on strictly gluten-free diets, and to be honest if I ate anymore of them my teeth were gonna fall out. As yummy as they were they were so sweet but I couldn't stop eating them. She made us a lemon and honey polenta cake. Delicious, oh the flavour was intense and yet so simple! The dogs were hoping for some too.

Delicious. And she makes GREAT coffee too.



I also baked a loaf of bread everyday just for kicks. And because its one of the best smells in the world. Here's one of them:

White loaf with sesame seeds. Sorry, I didn't take pictures of the other ones because they were eaten so quickly.

I also had bought these pain au chocolat pastries from the supermarket and wanted to test how good they were. They come frozen and bake in just 14 minutes.

Simple, cheap and actually really nice, and the smell, again, was to die for. Perfect for yesterdays breakfast with coffee after a swim at the beach. Despite the awful weather Owen and the kids still went down to rough it in the waves.

Well back to school for the kids this week. I am looking forward to some more time in the kitchen. I am also so excited to be selling my baking in 3 weeks time at the Belmont Park Racquets Club in Bayswater Ave. They have kindly allowed me to use their kitchen and sell goodies to the members like scones, muffins, slices, biscuits, cakes etc etc every Saturday morning from 9am until lunch time starting on the 20th Feb. Please pop in to say hi and try something yum!