Thursday, July 9, 2009

Winter blues.. and caramels

Nothing beats a warm delicious dessert in winter.

My friend passed on this very easy Sticky Date Pudding recipe to me last winter and I have adapted it a little since then, but have made it countless times.

The thing that sets this apart from other Sticky Date Puddings is the spice. The mix of cinnamon and cardamom really makes it special.

Spicy Sticky Date Pudding

200g dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup (250ml water)
1 teaspoon bi-carbonate of soda
100g butter
2/3 cup (160g) caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 & 1/2 cups self-raising flour
2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon mixed spice

Caramel Sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cream
100g butter

1. Preheat oven to 180˚C and prepare cake tin.
2. Combine dates and water in saucepan and bring to boil, remove from heat
3. Stir in bi-carb soda (set aside to cool).
4. Beat butter and caster sugar until light and creamy, add eggs gradually beating thoroughly.
5. Add essence and spices.
6. Fold in flour and dates and stir until just combined.
7. Pour into tin and bake for 50 mins or until skewer comes out clean.
8. To make the sauce, combine the brown sugar, cream and butter in saucepan.
9. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 2 mins.
10. Serve pudding warm with caramel sauce and cream and/or ice cream.. yum!

*You can usually buy a packet of dates already pitted

Monday, February 9, 2009

I love jam

I love jam.

I have even named the cats on my street after jam.

Lemon Butter is the creamy ginger burmese that is so friendly he will walk straight into your house and fall asleep on your lap and Marmalade is the ginger tom cat who has a hard exterior but is quite sweet on the inside.

I am in the process of moving house, well between houses and all my baking tins and associated goods and chattels are in boxes waiting for my dream house to become available, as a result I am having major baking withdrawals.

This also means I have been eating out a lot. Most mornings I find myself at a different cafe and I have to say the simple things can sometimes make your day, like a good coffee and some good toast with butter and jam.

I had a really nice experience at The Wall last week. They have a fine selection of jams. Interesting jams, like Pear with Vanilla and Ginger, Fig with Cinnamon and Orange with Cardamom. All sweet with a little bit of spice.

I am relishing the opportunity to explore jam making further.

I have dabbled in the art of Lemon Butter and Passionfruit Butter which has been successful so far..

Lemon Butter

125g butter
1 1/2 cup caster sugar
3 egg yolks
juice of 3 lemons

1. Cream butter and sugar in bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy, beat in egg yolks and lemon juice until combined.
2. Pour mixture into a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.
3. When bubbles start to appear, remove from stove and allow to cool.
4. Transfer into sterilized jars and store in fridge.

* You can substitute the lemon juice for passionfruit pulp to make passionfruit butter

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Once upon a time..

I was a terrible baker.

It's true, just ask my boyfriend.

I baked cupcakes for him at the start of our relationship as a sweet surprise when he was working from home one day. They were as hard as rocks by the time they came out of the oven, but he told me how much he liked them and even ate one. He said he took them to work to share with his workmates the next day as they were soo delicious. A year later I found out the truth..

They didn't make it anywhere but into the bin. Deservedly so, they were awful.

Almost two years on and things are looking up.

About 7 months ago I moved into a new house with a gas oven and 4 new flatmates to bake for. It started with a bunch of bananas that were over ripe. The bananas were transformed into a delicious banana cake, which led to carrot cake and now I am inspired to create more wonderful delights on a weekly basis.

I take great pleasure in baking for people. My most avid supporters are my friends and housemates Kit, Rosie, Fergus and his lovely girlfriend Anni. My boyfriend Andy and his work colleagues at Holler are also very supportive. I take a little something into their office about once a week and in return I get feedback and sometimes even applause. My Sticky Date Pudding has also induced marriage proposals (wuv you wawa).

My friend Daniel gave me a 2kg bag of Lindt white cooking chocolate which was the inspiration for a series of white chocolate recipes. My favourite was the Wonderful White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies..

Wonderful White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies

115 g butter, softened
110 g packed brown sugar
100 g white sugar
1 egg
15 ml brandy or brandy essence
190 g plain flour
2 g baking soda
135 g white chocolate chips
120 g dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 180˚c and line baking tray with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and brandy. Combine the flour and baking soda; stir into the sugar mixture. Mix in the white chocolate chips and cranberries. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets.
3. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. For best results, take them out while they are still doughy. Allow cookies to cool for a few minute on the baking paper before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.