Easy raspberry and almond squares recipe

25 Jul

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It is so cold in Sydney at the moment that I’m spending most of my time in the kitchen baking. Standing in front of a lovely warm oven is the best way to while a way a bit of time. The downside is I’m burning through flour, milk, eggs and butter at a rate of knots! Oh well…
Recently I flicked through some of my so-huge-it-needs-to-be-culled cookbook collection and landed on a recipe from The Australian Women’s Weekly book, The Baking Collection. This marvellous book is, as they say in certain circles, all thriller – no filler. Page after page of tempting bakes to make and I could think of no happier way to spend a day than creating some of these treats.
I chose the recipe for raspberry and walnut slice, though I used ground almonds instead of ground walnuts. I think any ground nut [or nut meal] would work here so feel free to experiment. The recipe called for ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon but I am such a lover of this scented spice that I just freehanded a massive amount.

 

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GATHER:
150g butter, diced and softened
2/3 cup icing sugar
1 ¾ cup plain flour
at least one teaspoon ground cinnamon [more if you prefer]
½ cup ground almonds
300g frozen raspberries

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LET’S GET TO IT:
Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a 20cm x 30cm rectangular slice pan.
In bowl of electric mixer beat butter and icing sugar until pale [you may need to scrape down sides of bowl a few times]
Stir in sifted flour, cinnamon and nut meal until mixture is crumble [do not over-mix].
Set aside one cup of crumble mix, then place the rest of the crumble mix in the pan and use the base of a glass to firmly pat down. Sprinkle over raspberries, then sprinkle over remaining mix.
Bake for around 20 minutes or until golden.
Inhale – the smell is amazing.
Allow to cool in tin before slicing into squares.

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How to make lavender and lemon cake

18 Jul

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With a glut of lemons beckoning from our oft-neglected but much loved lemon tree it was time to get baking. Lemon shortbread. Lemon and yogurt loaf. And this delicious cake that will make your mouth sing of all the pretty things. I discovered this recipe on the BBC site, which I find to be a wonderful resource when baking. It is from Paul Hollywood, who is quite the hero baker in his native Britain. I tweaked it a bit, switching his plain flour/ baking powder mix for straight self-raising flour and reducing the sugar. Considering the cake is finished with two different types of sugar I would even suggest minimising the amount of sugar in the recipe proper if your tooth isn’t overly sweet.

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This is a delicious, dense, moist cake that will keep well for several days in a container in a dark place.

Gather:

For the cake

250g self-raising flour

110grams caster sugar

1½ tbsp edible lavender

Finely grated zest of two lemons

2 large free-range eggs

200g Greek yogurt

100g unsalted butter, melted

For the drizzle

juice of 1 lemon, strained

2 tbsp icing sugar

To finish

1 tablespoon caster sugar

Edible lavender [ie not sprayed]

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Let’s get to it:

Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a loaf tin.

In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, zest and lavender.

In a large jug mix together the melted butter, eggs and yogurt until just combined, then pour into bowl and stir together. Do not over-mix.

Scrape mixture into tin and bake for around 40 minutes.

When cake is ready prick all over, then drizzle over the combined lemon juice and icing sugar.

Allow cake to soak up juice before sprinkling with extra sugar and lavender.

Allow to cool in tin before slicing.

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Great kid’s day out in Sydney – Powerhouse Museum

10 Jul

The Hungry Family loves a good museum and the Powerhouse in Sydney is one of our all-time favs. It was the first museum both gals went to as babies – Miss8’s first visit was to see an exhibition of costumes by Kylie Minogue [fan gal!] while Miss6 was so tiny that she was transported via baby carrier.

Recently we explored the Games Masters exhibition, dedicated to the art and history of video games. I’ve never been a fan but the Hungry Dad was positively drooling at the sight at row after tow of everything from old school arcade games like PacMan and Sonic the Hedgehog to Minecraft and more.
On our way from Parking at Darling Quarter [hint – there are clean toilets near the entrance to the car park and also a myriad of places to eat] we stumbled across the very pretty Winter Wonderland scene, complete with ice rink. Miss8 especially thought it was divine.

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Then it was to the Powerhouse, were we took in the Strictly Ballroom exhibition, which made me fall in love with the classic Oz film all over again. The feathers! The costumes! Arms, Clary!
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Next stop was the free science talk where Miss8 was pulled from the audience to be a volunteer to help make slime. What a wonderful assistant she made, creating gooey sticky green mess ☺
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Finally it was time to check out what we came for – video games. Try as I might I just can’t get excited by them but the gals enjoyed exploring games created waaaay before their time.
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Miss6 and I lined up to have a boogie to one of those dance games [you can tell I’m just not that into it] and we also hit a small room to jam to a Faith No More song [thanks, Hungry Dad]. Miss6 loved getting her riffs on.

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See powerhousemuseum.com/gamemasters/

Chocolate peanut butter cake 

17 Jun

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I have written before about how lucky I am to receive copious of amounts of cookbooks to review in my day job as a journalist. It seems every blogger and his dog has a book these days and some tomes are waaaay better than others. Putting my professional impartiality to one side for a moment I must confess that the books I enjoy reviewing the most are those published by the venerable Australian Women’s Weekly. I have been using their books for decades, as have my mum and nana. Their recipes always work and recently their books have undergone a stylish transformation.

One of their newest titles is Indulgent Cakes – and it does not disappoint. Page after page has incredible looking cakes, in a range of tastes (chocolate and coffee is one chapter, as is ginger and spice, another personal fav).

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I adore peanut butter so I was instantly attracted to this number. It makes a really big cake – I had enough batter left over after filling the tin that I managed to make some mini cupcakes.

The AWW team garnished their cake with peanut butter ganache and decorated with peanut butter filled chocolate. I went for a simpler topping of dark chocolate glaze and a sprinkling of salted peanuts. I reduced the amount of sugar.

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GATHER:

¼ cup peanut butter

1 ½ cups self-raising flour

½ cup plain flour

¾ cup buttermilk

3 eggs

½ cup dutch-processed cocoa

½ cup boiling water

2/3-cup caster sugar

185g softened, diced butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

LET’S GET TO IT:

Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a deep, 20cm square cake tin.

Stir cocoa and boiling water together in a small heat-proof jug until cocoa dissolves; set aside for 15 minutes to cool.

Cream butter, sugar and extract in bowl of electric mixer until pale. Scrape down sides then beat in eggs, one at a time.

Add cocoa mixture and peanut butter and beat until combined [it will look curdled but it will all work out fine in the end.]

Beat in sifted flours and buttermilk in two batches.

Pour into tin and bake for an hour-ish / until a skewer comes out clean.

Stand for five minutes before removing to wire rake to cool completely.

When cold top with ganache [find recipe here: http://thehungrymum.com/2012/02/13/a-sorta-valentine-day-sweet-aka-mini-chocolate-marsala-cakes-with-choc-ganache/  ] then scatter the top with peanuts.

 

Donna Hay white chocolate and macadamia biscuits / cookies

12 Jun

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So as you may have noticed I quite enjoying baking :) I especially love sharing my baked goods with family and friends – despite my adoration of turning sugar, flour and eggs into cakes and biscuits I’m not such a sweet tooth. #teamSavoury.

As is my wont I made these Donna Hay white chocolate and macadamia bickies [or cookies, for my American friends] and took them into work this week. My friend Jane declared these morsels to be some of my best work. When I relayed this compliment to the Hungry Dad he agreed.

Continue reading

Mini berry pies on a stick, or heart pastry pops.

3 Jun

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How much squee can one dessert hold? While scientists furiously debate the matter I’ll make a punt on saying – lots. I made these oh-so-adorable desserts at a recent family gathering, where I did my usual over-the-top baking trick.

I just couldn’t resist this treat – it was so fun and as it was quick to make [using my pastry cheat] I could dedicate my time to the [many] other bakes I was presenting.

Anything on sticks has instant appeal but these little pies would be perfect presented sans stick. They are the perfect little size for a high tea or even a lunch box treat.

I bought mini paddle pop sticks for this as I had my doubts about putting plastic lollypop sticks in the oven.

I was inspired by this recipe from http://www.cookingchanneltv.com but I cheated all the way. I used frozen shortcrust pastry (home-made pastry would inevitably taste better but to quote that hilarious meme, ain’t nobody got time for that) and shop-bought jam instead of all the from scratch options.

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Gather:

2 sheets thawed sweet-crust pastry sheets

Favourite jam / preserves [I used berry]

Caster sugar

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Let’s get to it:

Preheat oven to 180C and line two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.

Use a hear-shaped biscuit / cookie cutter to cut out small hearts. Place half on the baking tray.

Place a small dollop of jam into the centre of each half – do not overfill if they will explode during baking.

Place a stick into each pop then place another heart on top. Use fork to firmly press done edges, then sprinkle with caster sugar.

Bake for 11-18 minutes, depending on the size of your hearts. Allow cooling before serving.

PS – these kept for quite a few days in a sealed contained in a dark, cool place.

Nigella Lawson French cake – Gateau Breton

26 May

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Many, many moons ago, when I was an unfortunate-looking teenager, my dad went on a holiday to France. My envy was palpable – growing up in a run-of-the-mill Sydney suburb all one ever heard about France was the chicness of the population, the deliciousness of the food and the classic style of the clothing.

I studied French for my final school exams, which left me able to introduce myself, describe my pets, and ummm, that’s about it.

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So when dad told me he was travelling through little French villages I implored him to buy me a Breton top. You know the ones – blue & white striped, long sleeve, with a boat neck. Tres chic [oooh – look! More French!].

I still have the top and it has set me on the path of a life-long love of all things striped & shirty :) I’d be too scared to do a stock take of all the striped shirts I’ve bought for everyone in the Hungry Household over the years.

Segue to this plain-looking but incredible tasting Gateau Breton courtesy of Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

I’m not a big cake eater but I reckon this is one of the best things I’ve ever made. Simple ingredients mean there’s nowhere to hide to so use the best eggs and butter you can get your hands on. So tres French.

I reduced the sugar and added the lemon zest.

You’ll need a spring form pan.

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Gather:

225g plain flour

170g caster sugar

250g unsalted butter, diced

6 large egg yolks

Zest from one large lemon

for the glaze

1 teaspoon egg yolk [from the 6]

1 tablespoon water

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Let’s get to it:

Preheat oven to 190C and beat glaze ingredients in teacup then set aside.

Put all ingredients into bowl of Kitchen Aid fitted with a  dough hook and slowly beat until everything is combined and golden.

The dough will be very dense and sticky.

Get it into your well-greased pan by any means necessary – it may be tricky.

Smooth down the top then brush over glaze. Use a fork to prick all over.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 180C and bake for another 18 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Allow to cool completely before removing from pan.

Slice into wedges to serve.

 

 

 

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