Heirloom Baking – 1

Scones

I have become quite fascinated with the idea of “heirloom baking”.  What does this mean?  Well, the way I think of it is baking with recipes that are handed down through families.  Cakes and other baked goods that are the way grandma or great grandma used to make.  So with that in mind, I have decided to resurrect some of my old family recipes.

My Recipe Book

My Recipe Book

This is my recipe book.  My mum made it for me and gave it to me on my wedding day.  She had one like it when I was growing up and I loved it, so she made me my own.  Hers was all hand written recipes passed down from her mother and grandmothers.  Mine is mostly hand written with some magazine cutouts as well.  There is even room in the back for me to add to it.

I have used this book a lot (as the stains attest to) and it contains some of my favourite recipes.  These recipes are ones that my mum used to make when I was growing up or that my grandmother used to make.

Some of my earliest baking memories are of my nana’s kitchen with her baking fairy cakes (my pop’s favourite) and pies.  She would let me play with the left over pastry and then when she was finished we would roll out the pastry scraps and spread jam on them, roll them up and bake them.  They were always tough and dry (from the over kneading) but I was always so chuffed that I had made them.

One of the best recipes in this book is this Scone recipe.  When I was in my twenties, I made a batch of scones and entered them in a local CWA (Country Women’s Association) competition.  I won first prize.  I was extremely pleased with myself for having beaten the older, more experienced bakers.  I didn’t even use expensive ingredients, just regular old homebrand.  It just goes to show that this recipe is easy peasy!

With Mother’s Day just passed, I decided to make a batch of scones to do as a special at our cafe.  Then I couldn’t decide between plain, pumpkin or date, so I made a batch of each 🙂

A quick note about the following recipes.  These a from a time when baking was done in a wood stove and measurements were done with regular tea cups and spoons.  With that in mind, be aware that you made need to jiggle the quantities a bit, but not too much.

Date Scones

Date Scones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plain Scones or Date Scones

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 dessertspoon butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 heaped cups Self Raising flour, sifted
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup chopped dates (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 250°c.  Grease a baking tray (or use grease-proof paper)
  2. Melt butter in hot water.
  3. Beat egg with cold water in a small bowl.  Add sugar and mix to combine.
  4. Stir in butter mixture and add milk, mixing well.
  5. Put flour into a large bowl and add salt .  Slowly add wet ingredients to flour.
  6. Stir quickly with a knife until just combined, being sure not to overmix.
  7. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead once or twice – do not over knead as scones will become tough.
  8. Press out with the heel of your hand.  Cut into rounds and put on tray.
  9. Bake in oven for 15 minutes.  You will know when scones are done when they sound hollow when you tap the top.
  10. Turn out onto a clean tea towel and wrap up to cool (or eat when hot with lots of butter!)

 

Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkin Scones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Scones

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup cooked mashed pumpkin
  • 3 cups Self Raising flour
  • A little milk (if needed)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 250°c.  Grease a baking tray or use grease-proof paper.
  2. Beat butter and sugar to a cream.
  3. Add pumpkin and egg; mix well.
  4. Quickly fold in flour, making sure not to over mix.  If mixture is too dry, add a little milk.
  5. Turn out on to a floured board and push out with heel of hand.
  6. Cut into rounds and place on prepared tray and bake for about 12 mins or until starting to brown.
  7. Turn out onto a clean tea towel and wrap up to cool

My favourite way to serve these is warm with lashings of real butter, jam and whipped cream…oh and a good cup of tea!
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Bucket List Baking No. 1

Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Lavender Buttercream

So…it has been a long time since I posted anything here!  My life has been so crazy busy and although I’ve thought about it, I have not been able to get back here, until now.  I have decided to make a conscious effort to blog more frequently and have even started a couple of others…check out the sidebar for links.

Now to the Cake.

I saw this cake on Pinterest but it had rose flavoured buttercream ( this is the original from Sweetapolita) and I just fell in love with it!  I had recently made a citrus chiffon cake and was eager to try another and this one looked like the perfect choice.  I had been really wanting to cook with lavender and I thought that dark chocolate and lavender would be perfect together.

Dark Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Lavender Buttercream

Dark Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Lavender Buttercream

I have to tell you, this cake was devine.  It was so soft and moist with a beautifully rich flavour and the lavender buttercream had just the right amount of sweetness to compliment it.  I must say I was quite chuffed with the result.

A delicious slice

A delicious slice

I didn’t change anything from the original recipe except for substituting lavender flavour for the rose water in the buttercream.  The only other thing I did differently was to use an Angel Food cake tin instead of the bundt tin in the original.  Chiffon cakes are traditionally baked in an un-greased Angel Food cake tin with the idea that by sticking to the sides it will keep it’s height.  It is also inverted after cooking until it cools to trap the air and keep its loft. When I made my first chiffon cake, i thought this rather strange but it did explain why the cake tin has a tall funnel (which I had always wondered about).  This is what the tin stands on when the cake is inverted so that it keeps the cake elevated – ingenius!

So here is the recipe:

Dark Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Lavender Buttercream

Ingredients

For the Cake:
  • 1-1/2 cups (300g) sugar
  • 1 cup (130 g) plain flour
  • 3/4 cup (90g) dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.5g) salt
  • 4 eggs, separated, and room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil (I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water, warm
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature (these are extra)
For the Buttercream:
  • 1/2 cup (114g) butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (250 g) icing sugar , sifted
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) thickened cream
  • A couple of drops of lavender flavouring, or more to taste (but use sparingly)
  • pinch of salt
  • Few drops purple colour (optional)

Instructions

For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 180° c.
  2. Sift 1 cup (200 g) of the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, oil, water, and vanilla until blended. Gradually whisk in all of the dry ingredients until combined and smooth. Set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and a mixer bowl wiped clean with lemon juice, whip the 6 egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup (100 g) of the sugar to the foamy egg whites, and continue to whip on medium speed until the meringue reaches stiff peaks, and is glossy and thick.
  5. Gently fold in 1/3 of the meringue into the chocolate mixture with a silicone spatula, then gently fold in the remaining meringue until just combined. Pour batter into un-greased angel food cake tin, and bake until top bounces back when gently touched, about 35 minutes, and skewer comes clean when inserted. Be sure to not over-bake.
  6. Invert the tin and let cake cool in pan until cold.  Gently slide a palette knife around edges to separate cake from pan and turn out onto a board.
For the Buttercream:
  1. In mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine icing sugar and butter on low, for about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix on low speed for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add whipping cream and salt, and mix on medium-high for 2 minutes. Add lavender and purple colour, and whip until blended.
Assembly of the Dark Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Lavender Buttercream
  1. Using a large serrated knife, cut cake in half. Gently place the bottom of the cut cake on a pedestal or plate.
  2. Smother with buttercream and then top with second layer.
  3. Smother the top with more buttercream  and serve.
  4. Store any leftovers covered at room temperature for up to 3 days (if it lasts that long!).

Notes

*Lavender is very fragrant and can be quite overpowering, so use with caution and taste as you go.

**If you are having trouble finding lavender flavouring, I was able to get mine at a specialty store that stocks cake decorating supplies.

***The chiffon cake can be baked in advance, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature.

*Cake recipe adapted from Mary Bergin’s recipe in the book Baking With Juliaby Dorie Greenspan. I found the online recipe here.

For the Love of Beets

I have been on a bit of a beetroot jag over the last few weeks. I’m not sure why, but their ruby coloured flesh and beautiful red and green stalks have captured my heart. They have an earthy and honest taste that is unique. I must confess that I am a beetroot lover from way back. While pregnant (both times) I craved beetroot and would simply eat it by itself or on a sandwich. I couldn’t get enough. I also have a profound belief that a burger is not a real burger without beetroot on it…there is just something about having beetroot juice running down your hands and arms while trying to eat a good burger that completes the experience. I also must confess that I like tinned beetroot as well as raw beetroot, I have no prejudice toward this vegetable. There has only been one time where I was put off by beetroot and that happened to be back in the seventies when I tasted home-made pickled beetroot – maybe it was the cook?

So anyway, as I said, I have had a bit of an obsession with this vegetable and I wanted to experiment. I had heard that there was a cake made with beetroot and chocolate – this seemed like an urban legend – so I set out to try and discover it. I was extremely surprised at the amount of beetroot cakes out there. So, after reading a few recipes (and their reviews) I attempted my own. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. My first taste of this Chocolate and Beetroot cake was an “OMG” moment. The mousse-like texture and rich velvety chocolate were divine. I was enraptured! Even my husband and two boys where amazed and couldn’t get enough of it. It was the type of cake that you can’t stop thinking about even the next day.

So here is the recipe!

Chocolate and Beetroot Cake Chocolate Beetroot Cake

Ingredients 

50gms Brown Sugar

1 tbls Butter

200gm Fresh Beetroot, peeled and finely grated

400gm Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa Solids)

6 Eggs, separated

100gm Caster Sugar

100ml Pure Cream (not thickened cream)

75gm Almond Meal

Ganache

100gms Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa Solids)

75mls Thickened Cream

1 tbls Butter

Raspberries to Serve

Method

Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius- (a slow oven is best for this cake so if yours is fan-forced, reduce the heat). Grease a bundt pan (or other ring shaped cake tin)

Heat a frypan and melt butter. Add brown sugar and grated beetroot. Stir over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until beetroot is cooked and has a soft, caramelised texture. Set aside.

Break chocolate into small pieces and put into a heat-proof bowl. Sit the bowl over a saucapan of simmering water and melt chocolate until smooth and glossy. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, whisk egg yolks and half of the caster sugar for about 3 minutes until thick, pale and creamy (this could take longer depending on your mixmaster). Gently fold in the choclate mixture and then the caramelised beetroot.

Whisk egg whites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form, continue whisking while adding the remaining caster sugar. Continue to whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are smooth and glossy.

Beat cream to soft peaks and then fold through chocolate mixture with egg whites.

Add almond meal and gently combine.

Pour into prepared tin and place tin in a roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the cake tin.

Bake for 45 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 150 degrees celcius and bake for another 30 minutes (or until cake springs back when pressed). Turn off oven and let cake cool in oven for another 20 minutes. Take out of oven and allow to cool completely before turning out.

Ganache

Melt chocolate and cream in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water until smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and stir in butter.

To serve, fill the centre with raspberries and pour ganache over cake.

Please Note:

This cake cooks very slowly – don’t try to rush it. The first time I made this cake I had an emergency phone call and had to rush out while the cake was still in the oven (it had been in the oven for about 43 minutes) so I turned the oven off and left it in there. I was gone for about 4 hours and when I returned, the cake was perfectly cooked.

Fig & Frangipane Tarts

Ahh…autumn.  My favourite time of year.  The skies are so blue and clear, the weather is crisp and fresh and there is an abundance of beautiful produce.

I was browsing through the fruit and veg the other day when I came across some beautiful figs.  Now, I don’t normally eat figs, but they looked so gorgeous and plump, I couldn’t resist them.

Upon arriving home, I was unsure as to what to do with these succulent looking globes.  But with my recent obsession with pastry, a fig tart seemed like the perfect solution.

So here is my Fig & Frangipane Tart recipe…even my food finicky husband and teenage boys (who have never eaten figs before) loved them.

Fig & Frangipane Tarts

Ingredients

½ quantity of Flaky Pastry

250gm fresh Figs (approximately 6)

75gm Almond Meal

75gm Butter

75gm Caster Sugar

1 tsp Cinnamon

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Egg

1 tbls caster sugar extra

Method:

Preheat oven to 180⁰c.  Grease four 10cm flan tins.

Prepare Flaky Pastry.  Divide into four pieces and roll out.  Fit to flan tins and rest in fridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place almond meal, cinnamon, butter and caster sugar in a food processor and pulse until crumbly.

Add egg and vanilla and process until creamy.  Spoon almond mix into flan cases.

Slice each fig into six wedges.  Place eight wedges into each flan case with the skin side down and points towards the centre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sprinkle each flan with the extra caster sugar.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Taming the Pastry part 2

Hey pastry, it’s not you, it’s me…

So, maybe I don’t suck at making  pastry any more.  Maybe it wasn’t the recipe after all, but my technique?

After deciding that I would conquer my pastry ineptitude, I have discovered that I quite enjoy making pastry and can actually achieve some quite good results.  And I learned a lot along the way.

Pastry, at it’s heart, is flour, butter and water – so simple, but so easy to get wrong.  Shortcrust pastry has a ratio of 2 parts flour to 1 part butter and puff pastry has a ratio of 1 part flour to 1 part butter and both use just enough water to bind them together.  You would think that a recipe with so little ingredients would be so simple to make, but the real trick with pastry is the technique.  It is all about the science.

Understanding the science behind making pastry definitely helps get the results.  Knowledge is power.

Q. Why use cold butter and ice water?

Q.  Why rest the pastry?

The answers to these questions and more can be found here…Caution – Science Content

So, with a little bit of knowledge behind me, I was able to look at pastry making in a whole different light.  I had always looked at pastry as the least significant part of the recipe – just an edible container to hold the hero of the dish, but I have now come to appreciate that good pastry enhances a dish; adds to it; takes it to a new level.

With my new appreciation of pastry, I was able to embrace that part of a recipe instead of resenting it, and that then lead to much better pastry and a much better dish.

For my next little foray into pastry, I decided to concentrate on Flaky Pastry aka Rough Puff Pastry.  Here is the  result…

Poached Pears En Croute



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients
6 Bosc Pears
Poaching Liquid
6 cups Water
115gms Caster Sugar
2 Cinnamon Quills
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
1 tbls Lemon Zest (grated or finely sliced)
2 tbls Lemon Juice
Almond Filling
50gms Almond Meal
50gms Caster Sugar
50gms Butter, softened
1 tsp Lemon Zest finely grated
1 egg
Pastry
175gms Plain Flour
Pinch Salt
¼ tsp Cinnamon
175gm Butter Frozen
115ml Ice Water approximately

Method:

Poaching the Pears

Place water, sugar, cinnamon quills, vanilla bean paste, lemon zest and lemon juice in a saucepan over low heat.  Stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, peel and core pears, leaving the stem intact.  Trim ends so that pears can stand upright unassisted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gently bring poaching liquid to a slow boil.  Add pears and cover with a cartouche (a piece of baking paper cut to fit the top of the saucepan).  Reduce heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remove pears from liquid and cool in fridge.  Reserve the liquid.

Making the Pastry

Sift the flour, salt and cinnamon together twice. 

Coarsely grate the frozen butter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the butter and flour to a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Run the processor and slowly add the water until the mixture just comes together.  Test the consistency by squeezing a small amount together with your fingers.  It should stick together, but not be too sticky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turn mixture out onto a floured surface and gently knead until mixture comes together.  Shape into a rough rectangle and wrap in plastic then refrigerate for 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take pastry out of fridge and unwrap on a floured surface.  Roll mixture one way until it forms a long rectangle and is approximately half a millimetre thick.  Fold up the bottom third and then fold down the top third.

 

 

 

 

 

Turn the pastry 90⁰ and repeat the rolling and folding.  Continue to roll and fold until you have completed it four times.  On the final time, fold the top and bottom into the middle and then fold over like a book.  Re-wrap in plastic and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

Take the pastry out of the fridge and repeat the rolling and folding another two times – that is six times in total.  Return the pastry to fridge for a further 30 minutes.
Making the Almond Filling

Combine the almond meal, caster sugar and butter in a bowl until creamy.  Add the egg and lemon zest and mix until smooth.

Assembling the Pears

Preheat oven to 220⁰ Celsius.
Remove the pears from the refrigerator.
Fill the cavity (from the removal of the core) with the almond meal mixture and set aside.
Take the pastry from the fridge and divide into six pieces.
Roll out one piece of pastry to form a square.  Sit one pear in the middle of the pastry square and pull up two opposite corners until they meet at the stalk.  Press together to seal.  Repeat with remaining pastry corners.  Place on a tray.  Repeat with remaining pears and pastry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brush pastry with a lightly beaten egg.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden.

Making the Syrup

Place two cups of the reserved poaching liquid in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Simmer until syrup thickens.

Serve

Serve pears with syrup and Raspberry Crème Patissiere

 



					

Raspberry Creme Patissiere

Ingredients

3 Egg Yolks

½ cup Caster Sugar

3 tbls Corn Flour

2 tsp Plain Flour

300ml Milk

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

½ Pure Cream, lightly whipped

½ cup Raspberries, macerated

Method:

Whip egg yolks and sugar until pale and creamy.  Add both flours and mix until smooth.

Add 1/3 milk to the egg yolk mixture and mix until combined.  Place the remaining milk and vanilla extract in a saucepan and heat over a medium heat until steaming gentle.

Remove the milk from the heat and slowly pour in the egg mixture, whisking all the time.  Return to the heat and continue to whisk until custard thickens.  Remove from heat and allow to cool 5 minutes.

Whisk in whipped cream and then gently stir in raspberries.

Flaky Pastry

Ingredients

250gm Plain Flour

250gm Butter, frozen

Pinch Salt

125ml Ice Water approximately

Method:

Sift the flour and salt together twice. 

Coarsely grate the frozen butter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the butter and flour to a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Run the processor and slowly add the water until the mixture just comes together.  Test the consistency by squeezing a small amount together with your fingers.  It should stick together, but not be too sticky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turn mixture out onto a floured surface and gently knead until mixture comes together.  Shape into a rough rectangle and wrap in plastic then refrigerate for 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take pastry out of fridge and unwrap on a floured surface.  Roll mixture one way until it forms a long rectangle and is approximately half a millimetre thick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fold up the bottom third and then

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fold down the top third.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turn the pastry 90⁰ and

 

 

 

 

 

 

repeat the rolling and folding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue to roll and fold until you have completed it four times.

On the final time, fold the top and bottom into the middle and then fold over like a book.  Re-wrap in plastic and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take the pastry out of the fridge and repeat the rolling and folding another two times – that is six times in total.  Return the pastry to fridge for a further 30 minutes.

The pastry is now ready to use.