Tag Archives: butter

Coffee & peanut shortbread

As always, apologies in advance for the poor quality of the photos.

I made the peanut shortbread in celebration of the Offspring getting the first jab of Pfizer! [Recipe at the end of the post].

The cup, saucer, and side plate I chose this time share colour tonings but are not ‘a set’. Very few of my pretties match because I collected them one by one, over about thirty years. So, first the side plate. There are no marks of any sort on the back, so either it’s quite old, or…it wasn’t considered worth marking? No idea, sorry.

The cup and saucer do have a mark. It says ‘Foreign’, which leads me to wonder whether the design was made in Japan for the Western market :

Awful photo, I know. Couldn’t hold the damn phone still. 😦

What I can say is that the cup and saucer are what’s called ‘Lustreware’. The pieces I have are all made from a porcelain so fine, you can see through it when you hold it up to the light. They also have a kind of translucent irridescence that I love. You can get a sense of that in the pic of the cup below:

And now for that recipe! I can’t take much credit for it as it’s basically the same one you can find on the back of the packet of McKenzie’s rice flour, but here goes:

Shortbread with peanuts

Ingredients

  • 225 grams plain flour [all purpose flour], sifted [I didn’t]
  • 115 grams McKenzie’s rice flour, sifted [I didn’t]
  • 115 grams caster sugar, sifted [I didn’t]
  • 1 pinch of salt [as I was going to use salted peanuts, I did NOT add the salt]
  • 225 grams of butter, at room temperature [I forgot to take the unsalted butter out so had to use it cold]
  • 1/3 cup of salted peanuts

Method

Preheat oven to 150C [302 F]. If using the fan forced or fan bake setting, make it a few degrees cooler.

The next bit says you should grease a baking tray and line it with baking paper. I didn’t. I cut a piece of baking paper to size and simply lay it inside the baking tray.

From here on in I’ll just tell you what I did. So, I put the plain flour, rice flour and sugar in a bowl and stirred with a fork.

Next, I cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients and kept cutting it into smaller pieces until they were small enough to rub between my fingers. Rubbing involves pressing the butter/flour mix between the tips of your fingers as if you were trying to wash just your fingertips. Keep ‘rubbing’ until the mixture becomes granular. Sometimes you’ll hear people say ‘until it’s like breadcrumbs’. You really don’t have to be too precious about it, just mix the ingredients together.

Add the peanuts and mix in to the rest of the ingredients.

This next part is easy. Squeeze the mixture into a ball and bung it down onto the middle of the baking tray. Spread it with your hands, trying to avoid having a big clump of peanuts in any one place. I patted the shortbread dough into a rough circle because it was quick, and I was lazy. The thickness of the circle was about the size of a peanut lying flat – i.e. I wanted the peanuts to be covered by shortbread without the whole thing being too ‘fat’.

Press the tip of a fork all over the dough to allow the mixture to expand sideways.

Place the shortbread in the middle of the oven and allow it to bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until it’s a pale, golden brown. If you have any doubts about the temperature of your oven, check after 30 minutes.

Take the shortbread out of the oven and immediately ‘cut’ it with a knife. The shortbread will still be quite soft. Once it cools you won’t be able to cut it.

Leave the cut shortbread on the baking tray until cool. Eat with coffee, tea or cold milk. 🙂

cheers
Meeks


Coffee and banana muffins

Today’s delicious offering was baked by the Offspring based on a recipe given to me by a fellow kindergarten mum, Diana. I won’t tell you how long ago she gave it to me. 😉

The thing I like about this recipe is that it’s very easy. It’s also very forgiving of variations. In the following recipe, our variations are shown in italics after the base recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup soft butter [we used Lurpak Slightly salted spreadable butter which contains a small amount of vegetable oil],
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar [we used caster sugar],
  • 1.5 cups of self raising flour,
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of plain yoghurt or milk. Yoghurt makes it rise more. [We only used 1/2 a cup of yoghurt so we could add more banana]
  • 1 cup fresh fruit [we used 2 cups of bananas, chopped into decent sized ‘chunks’. NOT mashed]
  • a little extra butter to grease the muffin tins [we used paper cupcake thingies? to save on clean up]

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C [392 F]. If using fan bake, lower the temperature a couple of degrees.
  2. Grease muffin tins [or use paper thingies for easy clean up].
  3. With an electric mixer, blend the butter with the sugar until it changes colour and looks ‘creamy’.
  4. Beat in 2 whole eggs. If the mixture starts to separate or ‘curdle’, add a tablespoon of the flour.
  5. Beat in the yoghurt.
  6. Remove from beater and fold in the chunks of banana. [This is a trick I learned by accident. If you mush the banana the flavour will be very bland. If you leave the banana in chunks, you’ll get a burst of strong banana flavour whenever you bite into a piece].
  7. Fold in the flour [no need to sieve].
  8. Spoon mixture into the muffin tin [or into the paper cupcake thingies inside the muffin tin].
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  10. Remove from the muffin tin and place onto a cooling rack

You can eat these muffins straight from the oven with a bit of butter, just watch out for the chunks of banana, they are hot! Or you can eat them plain, hot or cold. Either way they’re delicious with your beverage of choice.

Bon appetit!
Meeks


Red Tea and Profiteroles

Red Seal Blood Orange Tea with homemade Profiteroles

I’ve loved profiteroles – also known as cream puffs – for decades but never tried my hand at making them because I thought they’d be ‘too hard’, ‘too fiddly’, and probably wouldn’t work anyway.

Part of that negativity stemmed from the fact that I ordered a Croque-en-bouche [Croquembouche in English] for my wedding cake, and it really was a gastronomic delight. Mine didn’t have strawberries, otherwise it looked a lot like this:

By Eric Baker – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4120063

No way in the wide world I could make something like that…right?

Wrong. In fact, as the profiteroles at the top prove, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Making them was probably one of the easiest things the Offspring and I have ever done. And we owe it all to my good friend Marian Allen, author extraordinaire, and a damn fine cook!

If anyone’s interested, I first met Marian via her book ‘Sideshow in the Centre Ring’ which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ve since read just about everything she’s published and…I’ve fallen in love with her cats. Waves to Tipper and Chickie. And now back to dessert…

The only thing I messed up that didn’t quite work was the chocolate ganache on top of the profiteroles. I was getting a bit tired by the time it came to putting the profiteroles together and the ganache [the chocolate on top] turned into a delicious, but runny sauce instead.

Oh, and if I’m being honest, I made one more mistake: I made seven profiteroles. Not six, or four, or any other number that is easily divisible by two. No, in my infinite wisdom I made seven…

Have you ever tried to cut a profiterole in half so both of you could share equally? Don’t. Just don’t. 🙂

Anyway…the Offspring and I were so impressed with the profiteroles I decided to do this post and give you guys the chance to try them as well. Without further ado, here is Marian Allen’s recipe for profiteroles/cream puffs with my comments in brackets!

Ingredients

  • 1/8 cup unsalted butter
    [or 30 gms or 1 oz]
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
    [plain flour to us Aussies]
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • cream for whipping
    [however much you want or have on hand]
  • chocolate and extra cream for the ganache
    [we used about 3 oz of each but the ratio wasn’t right. Maybe 3 oz of chocolate to 1 of cream?]

This makes about four biggish puffs. I doubled this and made them smaller and got 10.
[I compromised and made 7. Next time I’m making it an even number!]

Directions

Bring water, salt and butter to a boil. Add the flour and stir it until it forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan. If you’re not making a large batch, you may need to take it off the heat immediately.
[The Offspring did this part and the dough came together very quickly so don’t wander off!]

The dough coming together in the saucepan

Let this rest for 5 minutes while you crack and mix up your egg(s). Add the egg(s) to the flour ball. It will look alarming, but keep mixing: It WILL combine.
[So glad Marian made that comment because we looked at the dough plus egg and might have given up otherwise. The Offspring used a wooden spoon to start with but then I had a go with a whisk and it mixed beautifully, exactly as Marian said it would]

The dough after the egg has been mixed in

Pipe into the shape you want using a pastry bag, or plop it in spoonfuls (the MomGoth method onto an ungreased baking pan.
[We used the MomGoth method too but placed some baking paper on the baking tray first. Easier clean up. 🙂 ]

Piles of profiterole dough on a baking sheet prior to baking

Bake at 375F
[180 C for us, a tiny bit less if using the fanbake setting of the oven]
for about 1/2 hour, or until there is not one glint or bubble of moisture on the surface of any of the puffs. Don’t check very often. I got a stove with a glass front just so I could make creme puffs. Crazy.

When they’re done, cool them on a rack.

Meanwhile, make ganache for the top. Dead easy.

Ganache

Measure equal amounts of chopped semi-sweet chocolate or good chocolate chips and cream.
[This was where I messed up. I weighed the chocolate and the cream. I think I should have used a cup measurement instead.]

Put the chocolate into a bowl. Heat the cream until it just begins to simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir until it’s all mixed together and dark and glossy.
[This really was as simple as it sounds!]

Assemble

Put the cream into a piping bag. I don’t have one (have one on order), so I put the cream into a plastic sandwich bag and cut off the tip.
[We didn’t have a piping bag either and decided to use the cookie machine instead. It worked but made a mess as the cream was wetter than cookie dough. Oh well. Piping bag placed on order too].

Using a cookie machine to pipe whipped cream into profiteroles

Poke a hole in the side of a puff, stick the pointy end of the bag into the hole, and squeeze the cream in.
[We whipped the cream with about two teaspoons of icing sugar, so sweetish but not gaggingly sweet. Adjust to suit your own tastes].

You can feel the puff inflate with it. When the puffs are all filled, dip the tops into the ganache or spoon it over them.

And then see how fast they disappear! Honestly, we could have eaten another whole batch, they were so delicious. I can see us baking these scrumptious goodies on a regular basis because the process really was easy.

Thank you, Marian!


Red Tea and Sweet Bread

I did no work for this post whatsoever. The Offspring made the sweet bread rolls, and I can’t even tell you where the cup-and-saucer came from as the mark is so small and smudged I couldn’t make out even a single letter. But it is pretty. 🙂

The bread rolls turned out to be delicious, and vaguely reminiscent of croissants. Not as fluffy and flaky, of course, but the kind of flavour that you could eat with either jam or something more savoury. Definitely a hit.

The Offspring found the recipe for the bread rolls on Youtube and followed the instructions on the video. There are a lot of breadmaking videos so here’s a selection of good ones:

All three videos use plain [all purpose] flour, egg, butter, yeast, salt and sugar, but the techniques are slightly different. Oh, and the buns won’t rise quite so well if you make the gap between each ball too wide – i.e. they need to be close enough to support each other as they rise.

And now for the red tea. I couldn’t get the same ‘pink’ tea as before, so this time I tried Twinings ‘Cranberry & Pomegranate’. The flavour is great but it’s the smell that blows me away. I think they add hibiscus to the tea because the aroma is strong, distinctive and fruity/flowery.

-blush- Apologies, I sound like some wine buff waffling on about the ‘bouquet’ but honestly, the smell is divine, and that’s coming from someone who loves coffee!

If you’ve had a special treat lately, I’d love to hear about it. 🙂

cheers
Meeks



From disaster to a delicious biscuit

Okay, for my US friends, our biscuits are your cookies so this is a cross between a sweet lemon cakelet and a ‘cookie’. Ta dah….:

lemon biscuit recipe 001

The outside is lovely and crisp, but despite being so thin, the inside remains just a tiny bit soft and chewy:

lemon biscuit recipe 002

Before I write up the recipe I should explain that this started out as a kind of lemon tart cake that went very wrong. Cakes are not my forte, but I suspect the original recipe was at fault as it called for a tart base made from self-raising flour. Into this uncooked tart base went a very nice, cooked lemon filling and the whole lot was supposed to bake in the oven until it turned into a tart.

I don’t have a picture, but my lovely lemon tart turned into something resembling a soufle. It overflowed the baking dish like Vesuvius and made a sweet-smelling mess of my oven. What little I could salvage tasted like lemon toffee cake. I was not happy.

To cut a long story short, I had just enough unsalted butter left over to try the cake part of the recipe as a biscuit, and at last something worked! Here it is.

Ingredients

60 gm unsalted butter

1 cup self-raising flour

1/2 cup caster sugar

the rind of one lemon, finely grated

1 whole egg

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160 C [if using fan-bake] or 180 C if just using the ordinary oven setting [this is a moderate oven].

Line baking trays with baking paper. [You will need more than one tray as the biscuit mix spreads out quite a lot as it bakes so the biscuits have to be spaced fairly wide apart].

Toss the flour, sugar and grated lemon rind together [to spread the lemon flavour evenly]. Add the butter and cut it into small chunks with a knife, mixing into the flour as you go. Once the chunks are small enough, rub the flour mix and butter between your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Lightly beat the egg and add it to the butter mix until you get a fairly smooth ‘paste’.

Spoon heaped teaspoons of the paste onto the trays, leaving at least 2 inches between each one, and place in the oven. Baking time is approx. 10 minutes or until the biscuits are firm in the middle and slightly golden around the edges. Allow to cool on the tray if you can wait that long…-rolls eyes-…we didn’t.

The quantity given should make approximately 24 biscuits which sounds like quite a lot, but they are very moorish. If anyone manages to keep some for more than a few minutes I’d love to know how long they last. 🙂

Happy Sunday,

Meeks

 


Upside down apple cake – a recipe

This recipe is for Anneb54 who expressed an interest in upside down peach cake. Apologies Anne, I had to use apples instead of peaches but you can easily substitute fresh peaches once they come into season again.

I’ve had this recipe for years, and it has remained one of my all-time favourites because it’s so easy to make, and because I always have the ingredients on hand. Okay, let’s do it!

Ingredients

2 large Fuji applies

1/2 a cup of caster sugar

4 teaspoons of cinnamon sugar – 3 tspns of sugar to 1 tspn of cinnamon [optional]

100 gm of butter [unsalted or salt reduced] – at room temperature.

2 eggs beaten

1 cup self-raising flour

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C [or 350 F]. [I use my fan-bake setting and drop the temperature a little to compensate].

2. Grease a 4 cup pie dish, or 8 inch ring-form tin. I always use the ring-form because I find it so much easier to work with. I put aluminum foil over the base plate and close the ‘ring’ around it to get a nice tight seal. Then I butter the two together. The foil will make it easier to decant the cake once it’s baked. [Oh, and don’t be stingy with the butter!]

3. Peel the apples and slice them thinly [leaving out the core of course]. Arrange the slices over the base of your baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar [or just plain sugar if you prefer].

4. Cream the butter and caster sugar with an electric mixer. [If you forget to let the butter come to room temperature first, cut it into small chunks before trying to cream it with the sugar].

5. Add the beaten egg to the butter in about 4 go’s, beating the mix well between each addition. [At this point the mix could ‘curdle’ – i.e. begin to look granular – so I sprinkle about a teaspoon of the flour in with each addition of egg. The flour stops the curdling].

6. When all the egg has been added to the mix, sift the rest of the flour over the mix and fold in by hand. [If you’re lazy like me you can skip the sifting part without any dramas].

7. Spread the cake mix over the apple and bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer through the middle comes out clean. [If the tip of the skewer feels ‘sticky’ leave the cake a little longer].

8. Take the cake out of the oven. Gently run a knife around the inside of the pan, and then undo the ring-form. You will now have the cake sitting on just the base plate. Take a cake rack [cooling stand] and place it on top of the cake. Hold the rack in place with one hand as you carefully flip the cake over. Now hold the base plate by the aluminum foil and gently lift away. You should be left with the fruit on top.

Storing this cake is never a problem as we tend to eat it within two days. However once the cake has cooled, you should cover it with cling wrap.

And there you have your upside down apple cake! Serve hot or cold, with cream or ice-cream. or just plain. Trust me, this buttery cake is more than good enough to eat plain. And think of the calories you’d be saving. 😉

Enjoy!

Meeks


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