Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pear and almond tart

I’ve been trying so very hard to save for our trip to New York, I didn’t do so well this week. I spent Thursday shopping at harbor town, I intended on coming home with a bunch of clothes but instead my bags were full of new kitchen gadgets (plus a pair of shoes).

Saturday after work I had some time to kill before my bus and a 40% off book voucher. Guess who ended up with a new cook book.

So, I have a brand spanking new tart tin, a new baking cookbook and now I have a pretty tasty pear and almond tart.

For the filling

2/3 cup ground almonds
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
7 tablespoons sugar
60g butter, room temperature
1 large egg

3 very ripe pears (6 halves)

With only rock hard pears at the shop I had to use tinned pears. I don’t feel so bad about it though, after looking at a bunch of recipes i found that most said it is perfectly acceptable to use tinned fruit some even preferred it. I thought the canned version was super yummy, I’ll have to give it another go as soon as the pears ripen.

To make the filling- in a bowl sift together ground almonds and flour, mix in the sugar. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Mix in the egg. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the mixture while making the tart shell.

For the base

200g plain flour
100g butter, cubed
50g icing sugar, sifted
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons milk

To make the pastry- sift flour into a large bowl. Add the butter to the flour and rub together until it resembles bread crumbs.

Stir in the icing sugar, milk and egg yolk. Knead the mixture briefly on a lightly floured surface to form the dough. Cover the pastry and refrigerate for 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c. Grease a 9 inch diameter tart pan.

Place the chilled dough between 2 sheets of baking paper. Roll out the pastry to around ¼ inch thickness. Line the prepared tart pan with dough, press into place. Trim off any excess pastry and prick the base all over with a fork. Chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Cover pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beads or uncooked rice. Blind bake the base for about 20 minutes, until the sides and base are firm. Remove the paper and rice and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until the crust is lightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan.

To make the tart- remove the filling from the refrigerator, spread evenly over the prepared base.

Prepare pears by cutting in half and removing the core. Slice the pear halves into thin slices. Press gently down on cut pear to fan out the slices.
Slide your knife under the pear fans and carefully arrange on top of the filling.

Return the tart to the oven. Bake for around 50 mins or until golden brown. Let tart cool before removing from the pan.

So far it’s been yummy by itself. And with cream. And with custard. And I’m sure it would be super with icecream. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cake suggestions please!!

I need help. Its my Dads birthday in a couple of weeks and I want to make him a super amazing cake. I have no idea what kind to make. His favorite kind of cake is an upside down pineapple cake, but for his birthday i was thinking something a little more fancy. I was originally thinking cupcakes but I did that for my brothers birthday. For dad I'm picturing something with lots of layers, super tall with loads of delicious frosting/fillings. Any ideas, suggestions, tips, pointers?? Please let me know..

My brothers birthday cupcakes (happy 21st little brother)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Yay! I made Macarons!

What is in my fridge? Well not alot except the ingredients bought especially to make macarons. I have wanted to make macarons for ever but have been a little hesitant, that was until I stumbled upon an awesome book. I love macarons by Hisako Ogita gave me the kick in the butt needed to finally give them a try. I knew I couldn’t totally fail as long as I followed the super detailed instructions, pictures and pointers.

I did it! Sure they weren’t super perfect but they were still pretty and delicious. I’m ready to bake a rainbow.

In other news- I don’t own a cat but do have 3 different kinds of cat biscuits and 2 kinds of tined kitty food in my house. As of today my little kitty friend not only has an abundance of food but also a super nifty dinner bowl for her visits.

Vanilla macarons with white chocolate ganache

adapted from I love macarons by Hisako Ogita

For the macarons

2/3 cup (85grams) ground almonds
1 ½ cups icing sugar (150 grams)
3 large eggs whites (room temp)
65 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pink food colouring

Line baking tray with baking paper. On baking paper draw 1 inch circles spaced at least ½ an inch apart.

Sift together powdered sugar and almond meal, then sift again.

Beat egg whites in a stainless steel mixing bowl until foamy. Gradually add the caster sugar and beat to form stiff glossy peaks.

Beat in vanilla and a couple drops of food colouring

Add half of the sifted almond and powdered sugar, fold in with a spatula. Stir in second half of dry ingredients till combined.

Spread and scoop the mixture against the side of the bowl, repeat this at least 15 times.

When the mix is firm and drips slowly from the spatula it is done.

Pour the batter into a piping bag fitted with a 0.4 inch tip. Pipe batter into the centre of the drawn circles.

Give the base of the baking tray a good tap on a flat surface.
Rest the piped mix for about half an hour, until the mix no longer sticks to your finger when touched and surface is smooth. (my batter was a little too thick so the tips didn’t flatten out completely)

Preheat oven to 160 degrees c. Position racks toward the middle to bottom of the oven.

Bake the macarons for 16-20 minutes until crisp on the outside and soft but cooked inside.

When macarons and completely cool sandwich with ganache.

For the ganache

3/5 cup (100 ml) whipping cream
100 grams white chocolate (finely chopped)

To make the ganache- place chocolate in a bowl. In a pot bring cream to the boil. Pour boiling cream over chocolate. Whisk until chocolate is melted and mix is smooth and glossy. Cool the ganache to room temperature and chill slightly in the fridge. When cool continue whisking until thick and lighter in colour. Spread between macarons.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Caramel Apple Crumble Pie!!!!

Pie crust + pretty green apples + crumble +caramel = LOVE!

I love pie!!!

I have gone pie crazy.
I blame twin peaks. Agent Cooper you created a monster. Sure it’s not the show’s famous cherry pie but it will get you through any pie craving.

I don’t think I want to admit how many of these I have made (and then eaten) since finding this amazing recipe.

Go visit The Pioneer Woman for the full recipe for this apple crumble pie. It is beautifully set out with pretty pictures to help every step of the way.

On this pie attempt i mixed things up by adding and changing a few things.
*First up I had no pecans, so they got left off the top.
*In with the apples I added ¼ cup brown sugar and ¼ cup white sugar to make it a little more caramely (instead of the original ½ cup white sugar). Plus mixed in ½ a teaspoon of cinnamon.
* For the base I decided to go with my favorite recipe i always use found in a very old copy of the Womens Weekly Best Ever Recipes cookbook.

For the base

185g butter (softened)
1 ½ cups plain flour
¾ cup self raising flour
1/3 cup cornflour
1/3 cup custard powder
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons water (approx)

To make the base- sift together flours, custard powder and salt.

Add butter to the dry ingredients and rub together until the mix resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the sugar and mix well.

Make a well in the dry ingredients; add the egg yolk and water, mix everything together to make a firm dough. Knead lightly.
Divide the dough in half. Flatten each half of the dough, wrap in clingwrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. (This recipe makes enough pastry for 2 pie bases, the unused half can be kept well wrapped in the freezer.)

Remove the pastry from the fridge, thaw till workable. Roll out the pastry and line well greased pie dish (23cm/9inch). Prick the base and sides with a fork.

Mmm gooey deliciousness. Serve it up. Or eat it right out of the pie dish.. i dare you...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Super Girly Sugar Cookies

I had big plans for this basic sugar cookie recipe (the second part of my mothers day baking adventure). The plan was to make a huge bouquet of sickly sweet, super pink, butterflies, flowers and hearts. I had a hard time finding a nice flower cutter so decided just to go with the hearts and butterflies. Sadly the butterflies didn’t quite make it either, they were snacked on while I was waiting for the hearts to cool.

The final result wasn’t as extravagant as I originally envisioned but I was still pretty pleased with how they turned out. Both my mum and boyfriends mum loved them.

Sugar cookies

For the cookies

2 cups plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (one stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Wooden skewers

For the royal icing

2 cups icing sugar
1 tablespoon meringue powder
¼ cup water (approx)
Food colouring

To make the cookies: Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. On a low speed gradually add dry ingredients, mix until combined.

Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in clingwrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. Take dough out of the fridge and let soften till workable.

Place the dough between sheets of baking paper and roll out to around ½ to ¾ centimetre thick. Place sheet in the freezer until firm.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees c. Line trays with non stick paper.

Cut out hearts from dough and place 3cm apart on baking trays. Make sure to leave space enough to fit the sticks. Gently insert the stick about 2/3 into the bottom of the cut cookie dough. Be careful not to push the stick out of the front or back of the cookie. (I put my cookies into the freezer to firm up for a bit so i could check the sticks weren’t coming out of the backs)

Bake cookies until golden around the edges, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool on baking trays.

Once the hearts are completely cool its time for icing.

To make the icing: Place all ingredients in a bowl set electric mixer to low and beat until very smooth. If the icing is too thick add a little bit of water at a time until right. (I like the icing for piping to be a little thicker so i divided it into separate bowls before adding any extra water). For different colours divide again and beat in a little colouring at a time until you are happy with the colour.

Go ahead and decorate the cookies however you wish. Note to self... always have a plan before icing cookies or things get horribly horribly messy ugly. By the time I got to icing the last bunch of cookies I figured out what I wanted them to look like and ended up with a few decent looking ones.

For the cookie bouquet

Flower pot or vase
Styrofoam (must fit snugly into pot or vase)
Tissue paper
Cellophane bags

Carefully slip your finished cookies into the bags and tie with some pretty ribbon.

Arrange the tissue paper around the foam and press into the vase or flower pot.

To make it easier to insert the cookie sticks I poked holes into the foam first. Insert the cookies sticks carefully into the holes.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Passionfruit Melting Moments

After religiously reading a number of food/baking blogs for some time now i finally decided to start one of my own.

I made these super cute cookies for my mum for mothers day, their mini size makes them awesome for packing in little boxes or jars.

Passionfruit Melting Moments.

For the biscuit

250g butter (softened)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup custard powder
1 cup plain flour

Passionfruit Filling

80g butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
pulp of 2 passionfruit (with or without seeds)

To make the biscuit: Preheat oven to 160 degrees c. Line oven trays with baking paper.

Beat butter, extract and sifted icing sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy.

On a low setting mix in half the sifted custard powder and flour, when combined repeat with the remaining half.

With lightly floured hands, roll almost teaspoons of the mixture into balls. Place about 5cm apart on baking trays. With a floured fork flatten mix slightly.

Bake for about 15 minutes. Biscuits will be a light yellow. Let stand 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Sandwich biscuits with passionfruit filling.

To make the filling: In a small bowl beat butter until light as possible. Gradually beat in the icing sugar and then passionfruit pulp. Filling should be quiet light and fluffy. If too thin gradually add more icing sugar, if too thick add more passionfruit or a little milk.