Friday, January 18, 2013

The taste of Summer

Summer activities* in Brisbane include going to the beach, going swimming in a friend or family member's pool, swimming in the blow-up pool in the backyard or sitting in front of the fan trying not to create a pool of your own sweat.

Summer flavours in Brisbane are pretty tropical, including mangos, passionfruit, peaches, pineapple and so on. I am generally one to bake with chocolate and heavy flavours, but in the extreme heat of a Brisbane summer, the best things to bake are cold, sweet and light (ie not turning on the oven and not using too much energy). I found the perfect dessert to accommodate these flavours and energy level - a Mango and Passionfruit Layered Pavlova. Light, sweet and easy - and better than anything else, a crowd pleaser.

Feel free to exchange the Mango and Passionfruit with a different flavour, maybe hazelnut spread or berries. Enjoy!

(* I have a toddler, so activities for me generally include something to keep a hyper-active 3 year old happy).

Friday, January 11, 2013

It's a tarty Friday treat

You know what's really funny? Giving a child a lemon to taste for the first time. I don't mean to be cruel, but it's one of those reactions that you can't help but laugh at. The innocence as they inspect the brightly coloured fruit, then naturally raise it to their mouth to taste. Then as the juice hits their tongue, the instant screwing up of their face followed by a look of complete shock - how can you not start to giggle, at least out of recognition of the situation. 

I've never been a huge fan of the tartness of lemons, however as I get older, I seem to be more tolerant to their refreshing flavour. I also accept that most other people like lemons and citrus flavours, so thought I should probably add these to my baking list more often (and on a plus, if I don't like it, I will automatically eat less).

So, here are some lemony cheesecake tarts for my friends in the office today. They mainly act as a farewell for two wonderful people, neither from Australian so deserving of a fresh, tangy treat to remind them of their time here and working with our team.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Moving sucks, cupcakes don't!

My brother and his girlfriend are in the process of moving house. Everyone knows moving sucks. Packing everything and making sure it gets from one place to the other safely is not fun, especially when you have been living in said place for many years and have accumulated many unneeded items. I wouldn't call my brother a hoarder... because he's not, but he does have a lot of books, DVDs and "stuff". To make it worse, my parents recently cleaned out our old bedrooms and made him take a lot of his old things (better known as crap) home with him. Now they are packing and tossing and getting ready for their new home. So when I get a text requesting cupcakes, I immediately get into the kitchen and prepare an impromptu afternoon tea.

Mixing the need to provide a good dose of energy (in the form of sugar of course) and a civilised afternoon tea, I decided to make a jam drop inspired cupcake. A chocolate cake base with a surprise raspberry jam centre, vanilla swiss buttercream icing and a freshly baked jam drop perched on the top. It had height, it had flavour and it had the right amount of deliciousness to keep them going for (hopefully) the rest of the week as the pack, sort and toss. Good luck guys!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The final recipe for the season

Christmas is over and it's a new year, but the flavours of the season are still fresh in the air - most houses still have their Christmas tree up and there are still fairy lights flashing along most suburban streets (tree and lights are still up at my place). So, to hold onto the last threads of Christmas, I made some Maple Cinnamon doughnuts. My main reason for making doughnuts was because I found a baked doughnut tray on special in one of the department stores just before Christmas. I have always turned my nose up at these trays, thinking that if you're going to bother making doughnuts, do it properly and fry the hell out of them. Then I saw the discounted price on the tray and my excitement for a bargain won over my snobbery. And to my delight, the baked doughnuts were delicious. Light and fluffy, but still with a distinct doughnut texture and flavour. My first attempt was great (I followed the below recipe), but my second attempt was with chocolate (obviously I strayed from the recipe). They looked great but were too dense and dry... so I haven't posted the chocolate recipe, will work on it a bit more first.

So, here's to the final days of the season. Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Life needs a ganache topping!

Some say, "when life gets you down, make lemonade"... wait, that's not right. Try again... "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade".  That's it. Well, when life gives me lemons next time, I'm going to add blueberries for a burst of sweetness and cover it all in a silky white chocolate ganache! Why drink lemonade when you can eat cake, that should be the new proverbial phrase!

I was served a few lemons in 2012, but also a lot of blueberries and... I need another food metaphor to complete this sentence, how about coconut for joy... coconuts. It was my hardest year to date both professionally and personally, but like everything, I made it through in one piece feeling stronger than ever.

The cake below isn't beautiful in it's appearance, it is what it is - a tasty treat with a few surprises peering through the glaze with honesty. I like to think of the white chocolate in my cake metaphor as the icing on the cake, literally, a way to coat last year and close it off. 2013 is a new beginning, a new flavour, a new adventure filled with new experiences. I wouldn't dare forget or wish away a moment of 2012, I am grateful for all I learnt and for the amazing people in my life, however I am also happy to look into the future and discover what awaits for me.