Sunday, January 8, 2012

A visit to the library for some cake

Did you know that you can get cooking books out from the library? It seems like an obvious thing to assume, or know, but it hadn't occurred to me that this was an option. For years my parents have been taking my grandmother to the library every Saturday morning to get a selection of audio books for the week. After the library visit, we join with them for breakfast. This week, I decided to meet them at the library with my 2 year old. As my Mum was showing my son the children's section, I had a browse and to my excitement, the library had a really good collection of cooking books, two of which I have wanted to buy for ages. The first is Maggie Beer's Harvest and the second Adam Liaw's TwoAsian Kitchens. As soon as we got home from breakfast, I started to have a read and got so excited about Liaw's book, I tweeted:
@cathydesilva: Hired @AdamLiaw's TwoAsian Kitchens from the library today and don't want to take it back. Going to bake his honeycomb cake this arvo- yum!

And guess what, he replied.
@adamliaw: @cathydesilva Enjoy! That's my Mum's favourite!

So, I hope I've done Adam's Mum's favourite cake justice. I recommend getting your hands on a copy of this book. You can either get it from Holland Park Library in 27 days or buy it ;-). I think it'll be my next purchase.

Adam Liaw's Ant's Nest Cake
From TwoAsain Kitchens
220g caster sugar
250ml water
85g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, at room temperature
125ml condensed milk
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarb soda

In a small to medium saucepan, gently heat the sugar. Allow the sugar to completely melt but don't let it burn. Reduce the heat and pour in the water. Be very careful, as when the water hits the caramel it will spit and slatter. Stir the caramel and water until combined then take off heat and set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius and grease a medium cake tin and line with baking paper.

Cream the butter and vanilla in a clean bowl until it it slightly pale. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until combined. Add the eggs, condensed milk and caramel to the butter and beat. The mixture will be quite running. Add the flour and bicarb soda and on a low speed, beat until combined.

Pour into the tin and bake for about 50 minutes or until the top springs back when touched. I baked mine for about an hour and 5 minutes as it was uncooked in the middle after 50 minutes. When removed from the oven, let rest in the tin for about 15 minutes then run a knife around the edge and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely

To my surprise, the cake isn't overly sweet. It has a dense texture and a lovely butterscotch/caramel flavour, so serve with thick cream or mascarpone. 

And for something different, I wanted to post the below recipes for the amazing pizzas I made for dinner last night. I think I might have to throw away the pizza shop menus and walk past the pre-made bases in the supermarket from now on. These were amazing!

Homemade Pizza
1 x 7g sachet dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
200ml warm water
2.5 cups plain flour (or bread flour if you have it)
Pinch of salt
2 tbs olive oil

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in a small bowl with the water. Stir well and then cover (make sure no air is getting in) and set aside for about 10 minutes so the mixture can froth.

Place the flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour the yeast mixture in along with the olive oil, and using you hand, mix the ingredients together. Remove from the bowl and kneed on a clean surface for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Roll into a ball and place in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover and rest for about 1 hour (can rest longer if you have the time).

When the dough has risen, punch it down and remove from bowl. cut it into even portions. I made two large pizza's from my dough, so just cut in half, but with a thinner base, you could get three large pizzas, or about 5 smaller ones. Roll out the dough on a clean surface and place on a pizza tray to top.

Olive oil
6 vine ripe tomatoes
1/2 bulb garlic, unpeeled
1 chilli
bunch basil
1 brown onion
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to about 200 degrees celsius. Lightly coat a tray with olive oil then toss in the tomatoes and garlic.Roast for about 30 minutes. When removed from oven, put the whole tomatoes (stalks removed) into a blender with the peeled garlic (at this stage you can pretty much squeeze it between your fingers and it oozes out - heavenly), as well as the remainder of the sauce ingredients. Blend until a saucy consistency. Set aside until needed.

Spread the sauce over the pizza base. Top with whatever you like. I made two pizzas, the first a spicy pepperoni and the second was a prosciutto, spinach, mushroom pizza. You can either top the pizza with mozzarella or sprinkle it under your ingredients.

When ready, pop into a hot oven, about 220 degrees celsius for about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pizzas from the trays and pop them back in the oven for a further 5 or so minutes for the bottom of the base to crisp up a bit. When ready, eat immediately (as it is impossible to wait!). ENJOY.

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