Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I keep going back to the classics

It's hard not to love a classic.

I am a recipe follower, I generally know what I’m doing and the steps to take, but I like to refer to the recipe to make sure my measurements are correct and I’m on track. I do find that when I’m baking a classic, it’s good to stick to the recipe – mainly because everyone knows the cake, knows the flavour, and are harsh critics. You stuff up a classic cake, and you’re out… well, maybe not out, but I imagine your reputation would take a little hit.

One classic that I make regularly, and still follow the recipe for, is carrot cake. It is delicious and I reckon it’s the best recipe around for carrot cake. I don’t add sultanas or nuts to the cake, just keep it simple. The cream cheese icing is essential! And getting the balance of sweetness is very important.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Winter's not quiet over yet

There are so many delicious things people usually save for Winter. Thick, hearty casseroles, rich saucy dishes, sticky caramelized puddings! So so many mouth watering delights. One dessert I usually save for Winter is apple pie. I have no idea why though, as it is so good hot or cold. I really should make it more, as it seems simple, but you can create so many varieties of the simple apple pie. Like infusing the stewed apples with cinnamon, or other spices, or adding other fruits - not just sultanas, I like to mix pear in with the apples sometimes. I also sometimes caramelized the apples and make a type of toffee apple pie. This time though I have gone traditionally. I made a super crumbly shortcrust pastry, lined it in a tall pan, added heaps of apples and served it with cream and custard. There were no complaints (actually very few words as it was hard to focus on anything but eating it).

I recommend trying a few varieties of apple pie, and seeing how to turn it into a summer favourite also. Possibly a tart or turnover style pie instead of the warm high pie. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday food traditions

Do you have a special Sunday food tradition? My Mum use to tell me how her family use to have a big roast for Sunday lunch. The family would all get together and enjoy a big meal each Sunday. My Dad also told stories of how when he came over for dinner my grandfather would stand on the table trying to squat the tiny moths and that no one else at the table would flinch or think it was weird. I like to imagine he even did this at the big Sunday lunches.

We didn't have these kinds of traditions growing up, but we did have food legends. Like my Mum's chicken lasagne, which was so rich that we could only eat it once a year for fear of heart failure. And always having bread with dinner, which I would make a sandwich with using anything on my plate - you bet, I double carbed, bread and potato!!

I would like to think I could start some food traditions with my son. One that I think should be pretty doable is a big meal, possibly even a roast, on Sundays. Tonight I made a roast chicken with potatoes, mustard beans and an Italian bread/curton thing. It was delicious. Then to follow, these lemon and lime tarts. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Julia will always make you bake!

Before we uploaded all my DVDs onto a computer connected to the TV, I had all my DVDs on display and filed them by my own categories. The unique way I categorise my DVDs was by mood. I have my horrible girly movies that I know I like to watch when I'm sick or home alone and feel like a lazy afternoon. I have some comedies. Then I have serious DVDs, ones which one might need to think about or focus on while watching. I also have an area for my son's movies, which are mostly Pixar and Disney movies. I think I need one more category - baking! There is one DVD, that every time I watch it, I feel the need to scroll through my cookbooks looking for recipes and bake something semi-elaborate. This movie is Julia & Julie. I love it! I have watched it too many times and it's at the top of my girly section, as I watch it more often than any of the others.

I recently watched it when I had a day off. I think I only got half way through before I jumped into the kitchen and made these Chocolate Rum Custard Tarts. Which was good, because then I had a delicious treat to finish the movie with. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Too much chocolate in the house!!

There are two events each year that fill my house with a tempting chocolate haze. The first is Easter. That darn Bunny over does it every year. This year we didn't crack open the final egg until only about a week ago (I was hiding it so we didn't eat it, but my 5 year old can smell out treats. When he found it he just declared he was eating it - who can argue with that??). The second event, for those who partake (and we do every year) is the Ekka!! - aka the Royal Queensland Exhibition.

The most popular treat at the Ekka are the Strawberry Sundaes. It's a tradition to consume at least one of these during your visit. Which is probably why many Brisbane baking bloggers are posting delicious strawberry inspired recipes right now. But not I! As mentioned, this event unintentionally fills my house with chocolate and I need to get rid of it.

Here's some snaps of my boy at the Ekka this year:

It's much safer for me not to have chocolate in the house, as I will indulge and I find it hard to stop. The bargaining runs through my head - you'll go for a walk tomorrow, you'll get up early and go on the exercise bike. But I really should know myself better than that, as my alarm will go off early the next morning and I will find it too hard to get out of bed and just tell myself I accept getting fat.

This year, I was good. I bought my partner a Bertie Bettle bag, my son a Ninja bag (only toys, no chocolate - before you judge, he picked it over anything with sweets or chocolate, so yay!!) and I bought a caramello bag that was SUPPOSED to go to my brother and his fiance... that didn't happen (sorry Nadia, I promise to make it up to you). THEN to make matters worse, my parents went the following day and bought us a huge Cadbury chocolate bag. Disaster! Now we had copious amounts of chocolate in the house,  all small enough to be able to talk yourself into having a few choc-snacks.

To overcome this, I have crushed a heap of them up, sprinkled them over some baking, and will be taking them into work to give those around me a sugar high! Happy Friday everyone ;-).


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It's fete time!

I moved into my house about 7 years ago. I love the area - the trees lining the street, the park across the road, the family atmosphere. But a little secret gem, which many people new to the area don't know about is the local school fete. Before I even moved in, the Fete Queen (also known as my mother) raved about it, especially the jams, chutneys and sweets. One store she neglected to mention was the cake store. 

I agreed to go with Mum a few months after moving in. I was pretty impressed. There were rides, stores, second hand stuff, but what I was really excited about was the cake store. It seemed like hundreds of cakes of various flavours and styles, all super cheap. I was sold, best fete ever.

When my son was enrolled and accepted into the school, I desperately wanted to be involved in the cake store. When I say desperately, I didn't actually go to any Parent & Friends Meetings or actively search out any information... I just waited to see when the newsletter started mentioning the fete or someone emailed. The request for help came and I responded with a little too much confidence. I wanted them to know I was there to help, to make cakes and that I could do some decorating. Some how I over sold myself and became the cake consultant, offering advice on icing and fondants and was being allocated the "hard cakes" to bake. In the end I was listed to bake 2 chocolate mud cakes, 8 red velvet cakes, 2 hummingbird cakes and the raffle cake - a carnival cake. Phew!

The perfect cake for a little Princess

I kind of feel like a princess after making this cake!

My friend emailed me a few weeks ago asking if I could make a cake for her daughter's 5th birthday party. She then mentioned they were keen on a princess castle cake. As you will very quickly pick up by reading my blog, I have a son and to date have had no excuse to make a super girly cake... until now!!! So of course I immediately said yes and then had lots of fun researching a cake design.

I had already committed to making a Carnival Cake from my son's school fete and had planned on using fondant to decorate it. I had never used fondant before and wanted to practice before the Carnival Cake. While researching for the princess cake, I found many recipe that used fondant and knew this was my chance.

Why you may ask did I have want to make and decorate a girly cake? Well, for some reason I find the older I get, the more girly I become. When I was a teenager, I never wore dresses or skirts and was pretty shy. I never seemed to like typical girl colours, like pink and purple, always opting for green. I don't actually think there's anything wrong with that, however as I reached my mid 20s, I realised I owned NO pants, only dresses or skirts (that includes jeans, I did not and still do not own a pair of jeans), and I even found some pink sneaking into my wardrobe. Now, having recently turned 30, I love glitter and I own a fair bit of purple.

So, back to the princess cake - why wouldn't I jump at this chance. And on that note, why did I wait to do it for a five year old? I should have made this cake for my birthday!!!