Sunday, October 19, 2014
A colleague, Chi, had his last day with us last week. I found out when his last day was, and decided to make him a cake to ensure that he was seen off in the right fashion.
I had not the faintest idea what kind of cake Chi liked best, so I randomly decided I would make some kind of orange cake based on the number of oranges I had in the fridge. A lot of recipes that I came across were of the boiled orange/flourless variety. Not having a couple of hours to boil oranges, I was very excited when I landed on the recipe for Citrus Sunbeam Layer Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook.
You can also find the recipe for this cake online here. I chose to make only a half recipe, and made two orange layers and one lemon layer, as I wanted my cake to focus on the orange. I also substituted Cointreau for the limoncello to bring out the orange flavour. I left the alcohol out of the icing completely - mainly because I forgot to add it.
To decorate the cake, I used black writing icing (a winner) and popping candy (not a good idea - it all popped as soon as I put it on the cake and went quite sticky looking).
Despite my off-centre writing and sticky popping candy decoration, Chi was very pleased with his cake, and a number of people told me they enjoyed it. I'll count that as a keeper in my books.
Friday, October 17, 2014
This week's edition of French Fridays with Dorie is a Sunday roast dish - Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Garlic. Unfortunately it is not the season for Jerusalem Artichokes, so I used kipfler potatoes instead - similar shape, similar taste (or so the Internet tells me).
It is pretty simple to make this - peel your Jerusalem artichokes or potatoes, slice them lengthways, place them in an oiled casserole dish with salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary and sliced garlic cloves, mix it all up, and bake on high until golden and cooked through.
How can you go wrong with this - it tasted good.
To see what everyone else thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the FFWD website.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
My final birthday afternoon tea post relates to something chocolatey and delish - brownies! In this case, I made brownie bites with cheesecake topping from p146 of Nibbles - 100 Sweet and Savoury Finger Foods.
These little bites are just the ticket for someone who likes their chocolate - and they are very simple to make.
To make them, you will need:
200g dark chocolate
150g plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
180g cream cheese
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 165 degrees Celsius, and grease and line a 27cm x 17.5cm slice tin.
For the topping, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth, then add the remaining topping ingredients and beat to combine. Set aside.
For the brownies, melt the butter and chocolate together over a bain marie.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs until light and creamy. Mix in the chocolate mixture. Add the flour and vanilla extract, and mix to combine.
Pour the brownie batter into the prepared tin. Spoon the cheesecake topping over the top of the batter and spread evenly. Using a knife, cut through the mixture at intervals to create a marbled pattern.
Put the brownies into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through. Cool the brownies in the tin, then cut into 1 inch squares. Serve and enjoy.
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
For Wednesday with Donna Hay this week, Sarah chose French Onion Soup from p28 of Modern Classics I. I did have a sense of deja vu with this one, and sure enough, found that we had made it in February 2013, before Sarah joined us. Oh well, it never hurts to make the classics again, and we are finding that we are all going back to the same recipes subconsciously because they were good.
I liked this well enough, but only made a quarter recipe because I didn't want to swim in soup all week.
To see what Sarah, Margaret and Chaya thought of this soup, visit their websites.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
In the last twelve months or so, a few new local cafes have opened their doors. One which has proven extremely popular, judging from the ever present crowds, is Millstone. The café is named after Arthur Ebbott, who ran the first mill and grain stores in the area. The pastry chef at Millstone, Alice Wright, trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. After reading that, how could I pass up trying some of her delicious pastries?
My opportunity to visit Millstone came one morning when I was working from home. Being a weekday, and still quite early, it was easy enough for me to get a table. I was greeted on arrival by a very friendly counter assistant, who told me to take a seat anywhere in the light-filled café.
I started with my usual weekday pick-me-up, a skinny flat white coffee:
You cannot believe how welcome my morning coffee is on weekdays, and it sets me up for the day ahead. Millstone's coffee was just right, and served in a cheery blue cup and saucer.
I didn't want a fancy breakfast, so I ordered what I often make at home for myself - poached eggs on toast:
This was not just any old toast, but a lovely sour dough. And thankfully, the eggs were perfectly gooey inside:
I enjoyed this simple breakfast, which was brought out very quickly and efficiently by the friendly wait staff. The only thing that would have made it better is a smear of chutney on the toast, like I have at home.
Of course, I had to buy some pastries for take out. I bought this apple brioche ($4.50):
The buttery layers of bread were topped by a slice of baked apple and sprinkled with cinnamon.
And best of all, they started bringing out the patisserie items just before I left. I chose a salted caramel, hazelnut and rhubarb dome ($9):
Here's a peek inside:
The brioche was nice, but this was devine!!!
I will definitely return to Millstone, but I think I will wait until my next working from home day so that I don't have to battle the crowds in this deservedly good café.
10a Claremont Ave
Malvern VIC 3144
Ph: 03 9509 0789
Monday, October 13, 2014
Recently, it was my colleague Collette's birthday. To celebrate, I made her the Dark Chocolate Marmalade Cake from The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook. You can also find the recipe online here.
I love a chocolate/orange combination, so this cake was a perfect flavour choice. I also loved the chunks of chocolate throughout the cake:
Instead of making the chocolate buttercream that accompanied the recipe, I used the chocolate fudge icing from The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook, which is also online here. It tastes very chocolatey but doesn't use chocolate, just cocoa, so it is infinitely quicker and cheaper to make.
For decorations, I used Queen chocolate letters (another birthday pressie from Mum) and sugar butterflies. I thought it looked really pretty.
I thought the cake itself was a little on the dry side, but there were no complaints - at least none that were passed on to me. The frosting helped to combat any dryness, so it was a win from my standpoint.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
We lost another Pilates instructor on Monday (careless of us, isn't it), this time a physio called Mitch. Mitch stands out as being the only physio I have met who trained at Bond University (the first full fee paying Uni in Australia) - before then, I didn't even know you could study physiotherapy at Bond. I caught wind of Mitch's departure by accident, and decided to thank him for his time with us by baking him a cake.
I don't know a lot about Mitch, but I do know that he is crazy about golf. That made the theme of the cake a no brainer. Next step was to turn to Google to find a golf themed cake that looked good but wasn't too hard to achieve. After scrolling through numerous images, I found several people who had made a round cake iced green, with "grass" icing on top, a small hole in the top of the chocolate cake to imitate a hole, and a golf ball (real or chocolate) on top. For one example, look here.
I bought a grass piping tip and a golf ball chocolate mould, and voila - I was set to make my own version of the golf cake:
I iced the cake using The Primrose Bakery's vanilla buttercream icing dyed with green liquid food colouring, piping on the grass with the Wilton no. 533 tip. I cut a hole out of the iced cake using a small biscuit cutter - maybe I should have done it before piping the icing on, as it smudged the icing a little, but I wanted it to look like someone had just cut the sod. Finally, I made a golf ball using white candy melts in a golf ball shaped chocolate mould:
The ball was not perfect, but it was OK and looked the part.
Overall, I was happy with the golf cake - it was simple yet effective. Keep in mind if you are making a cake for a golf-loving person.