Christmas treats…

 

My favourite thing about Christmas is obviously going to be the food… but I’m not talking about the roast turkey and vegies or even the Christmas pud… I’m talking about all the Christmas themed treats that come into season and into the kitchen generally when the calender ticks over to December… Unfortunately the first part of my December was spent packing boxes… which also meant packing away all my baking trays, rolling pins, mixing bowls and cookie cutters… all essential items for christmas themed treats… as my husband and I sat down amidst the piles of boxes and packing tape at the end of the first day of packing an overwhelming cloud settled over my head at the huge task of moving related logistics ahead… Adrian took one look at my downcast expression and being able to physically see the tension in my shoulders promptly trekked out to the mass of boxes in the storage shed and brought back one of the kitchen boxes… “I think you should bake something..”

 

 

I didn’t need to be told twice! So I unpacked my baking things and decided to get into the festive spirit with this adorable little Christmas cookie trees… that seem week I had bought the star shaped cookie cutters with the intention of making these little treats for our last small group meeting for the year… but as a result of the aforementioned packing stresses they became travel treats instead! I’ve only in the last couple of days had a chance to put them together properly! Aren’t they cute? and super easy… I can’t quite remember the recipe I use but grab your mum or nans typical Christmas cookie recipe or gingerbread recipe (or try this one) and some assorted sized star cutters and you’re good to go…

 

all you need to do is grab a skewer and using the blunt end poke two wholes next to each other in the centre of each sized cookie… stack them up and using a crochet needle or just any large needle that you can thread the ribbon into pull the ribbon through both wholes and tie at the top…. I used a thin ribbon to hold them all together and then made a festive bow with the red and white ribbon and pinned it on top…. but you can make any festive combination you like!

 

Happy Baking!

Advertisements

My breakfast this morning…

My breakfast this morning just looked so tasty and so delicious I had to share! Plus I have this fun new camera app on my phone that makes everything look all opaque and 70s… It’s so much fun… I have slot of pictures of myself now all faded non digital photo like… Stay tuned for Brioche this week and the unveiling of my attempt at the July Daring Bakers challenge… It’s proving to be quite the… Errr. Challenge!

The Dairy-Free Dinner Party That Was

Just over two weeks ago a friend and myself decided to throw a small dinner party a.k.a gastronomical feast, for our friends. There was however, one tinsy tiny teeny little catch… My friend is dairy intolerant… poor thing… so this three course extravaganza needed to be completely and utterly dairy-free down to the tiniest last morsel or my friend (who shall remain nameless) would have an upset…. digestive system… to put it nicely… So what do you serve at a dairy free dinner party? Good question… we decided to stick to recipes that were ‘naturally’ dairy-free, that is they didn’t contain any dairy substitutes… which proved even more difficult and quite unavoidable, especially when it came to dessert… aaaahhh dessert… now that was an interesting story…

Finishing touches ready for our guests...

A few posts back Bakerella had made these dainty little.. oh so simple… chocolate dessert cups which looked adorable and would be the perfect little holsters for our delicate and dairy-free poached pears… The concept was profound really… you take a whole lot of water balloons and blow them up, dip them in melted chocolate (the very dark 85% stuff with as little dairy as possible), let them cool and then “simply” pop the water balloons and ta-dah a dainty little chocolate cup that just screams stuff me with a poached pear and call me a delightful dairy -free dessert…

So of we went, blowing up our tiny little water balloons and melting our very expensive, good quality chocolate… getting ourselves all set to make our dainty little cups…. maybe we were just too eager or just a little giddy over the cuteness of these little chocolate sweeties… either way neither of us were thinking straight… you see instead of reading the instructions on the Bakerella site we just looked at the pictures (as all good cooks do…) and failed to see the very important step of letting the chocolate cool before popping our teeny little balloons into the chocolate…

…my husband tells me that for some strange and stupid reason, unbeknownst to me… when you take a little ball of air and pop it in some hot melted chocolate… the air expands and our teeny tiny little balloons explode and shower melted chocolate all over the kitchen… all over us.. a heavily cherished John Mayer t-shirt (had to put that one in)… the floor… the walls.. the oven.. the cupboards and even more hilarious… our faces…

Needless to say it was a disaster… you would think then we would step back… have a little think… maybe go back to the website and read the instructions… but no.. “hmmm” we though to ourselves, “I wonder why it did that” (between fits of giggles) “maybe we should try another one?” (let me just add a little side note: at this stage we had already thoroughly cleaned the kitchen of all remnants of chocolate as well as the John Mayer t-shirt)..

..so as the baking pioneers that we were, undefeated we attempted to smother another little balloon in chocolate… this one made it to the baking tray! Success!

Or so we thought…. an explosion of chocolate and yet again my kitchen… face… entire body.. walls, floor, cupboards… and the John Mayer t-shirt… were smothered in itty bitty splashes of very expensive dark chocolate…. this time we didn’t clean up… 6 more explosions later we decided to give it a rest and get on with the rest of the food prep….

It wasn’t until husband came home about 1hr before dinner party begins and suggests maybe.. just maybe.. the water balloons were meant to be filled with water… not air.. and continued to melt the rest of the chocolate and managed to muster up some dainty little chocolate cups for our dinner party (how he got the water out of those balloons and all over the kitchen floor is another story)..

To this day I am still encountering tiny little flecks of chocolate all over my kitchen…

RECIPES:

For starters we got some packet mini crostini bread things…. from the supermarket and topped them with a little tofutti cream cheese (a tasty little tofu based cream cheese), sliced tomato and a basil leaf.. they went down a treat.

Our first course was a roasted red onion tart with a little rocket salad on top… The pastry was just a simple shortcrust pastry substituting the butter with some nuttelex (another nut based spread)… I found the pastry came out a little grainy and flakey.. not sure what went wrong but I’d recommend the butter next time. The onions we roasted with a little oil and some salt and rosemary and leave them for longer than you think so they are nice and caramelised. We popped them in the tart cases and tossed a little rocket with balsamic and oil and piled it on top… for the dairy eaters a bit of shaved parmesan finished it off nicely…

The pasta was a bit of an experiment.. we roasted a little pumpkin and mashed in some salt, goats cheese, and cooked spinach until the flavour and consistency was good..

Pasta is simple… 6 people = 6 eggs + 600g flour… stir it up with your fingers till you have a nice smooth dough and let it rest…

…put through a pasta machine till nice and thin, then shape into ravioli… fill them nice and full and don’t let any air in… if you’re interested I’ll do a longer post on the delightfulness that is fresh pasta making!

We cheated and put a bottle sauce.. but we tossed through a few cherry tomatoes before spooning it over the pasta…

Finally for the pears.. we made a sugar syrup and through in a few cinnamon quills, orange juice and vanilla extract.. we peeled and pulled the core out of the base of the pear and I think they were poaching for about 2 hrs… really yummy! I think next time I might try to do them in a grape juice to get that nice burgundy colour…

Things I Learnt:

– If you heat up air it expands… and if that air is inside a tiny little water balloon.. it pops.

– Dairy free pastry is not impossible… though I wouldn’t recommend it.

– Goats cheese is dairy free and not as goaty as one might think :D..

– There is nothing better than fresh pasta made and shared with friends… and dairy free..

– Baking is for sharing and sharing creates memories…

Bake, share, love.

The Most Delightful Cinnamon Rolls Ever That Even A Baking Illiterate Can Make And They Still Taste Good…

Need I say anymore? If you have a love for all things delightful then I suggest you read on… These are possibly the MOST delightful cinnamon rolls ever to be made on the face of this earth…. so I exaggerate a little but I kid you not these are AMAZING! They literately took my breath away (5 in the space of 48 hrs kind of taking my breath away)… and I strongly suggest that everyone who reads this post bakes them as soon as possible so they too can share in the gastronomical delight that is Cinnamon Rolls. The coolest thing about this recipe is that it’s 1950s vintage! I love it because the ladies of the 1950s were baking it old school, none of this packet mix, quick and easy, add water nonsense… this is real live baking and, might I add, baking as it should be (but still surprisingly quick and easy) so tie up your aprons ladies… this one is a keeper!

Take 31/4 tsp of dry yeast and add 1/4 cup warm water. Like so…

doesn’t it look positively yeasty?

Next, scald (or bring nearly to the boil) 1 cup of milk and then pour it over 1/2 cup of butter, it should melt the butter for the most part but not completely… add 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tsp of salt.. it should be quite cool by now.. Add the yeasty mixture and 1 beaten egg.. it should have the consistency of yeasty vomit… charming isn’t it?

Don’t worry they good more eye appetising later… for now add 4 cups flour one cup at a time, beating after each… dough should get to a point where it is soft and delicious but easy enough to handle… knead it for a bit but avoid adding extra flour then wack it in a bowl and leave it to get all big and fat… usually takes about and 1hr depending on how warm your house is…

Doesn’t it just look so darling all tucked up and ready for bed…

So after about an hour pull it out and punch it down (I know it’s tough to punch something so sweet and innocent)… roll it out into a big rectangle about 1/2cm thick or something along these lines…

Then the best part… slather with massive amounts of melted butter… don’t be stingey now and follow with handfuls of brown sugar and a nice generous sprinkling of cinnamon… this part of the recipe doesn’t give quantities so add calories at your discretion… I think I ended up with about a 2cm thick coating of deliciousness… for an extra touch add some sultanas or walnuts… roll into one big log of tasty dough and cut them into 2-3cm rounds… take a pan and slather with more melted butter before tucking the little round darlings in quite close but allowing some room for them to rise… they may look a little like this…

leave them to get all fat and juicy for about 30-60 mins then slap on another coating of butter across the top just for good measure… bake in a 180 degree oven for 15-20mins or until golden brown…

Couldn’t you just eat them all up?

and a close up for good measure… mmmm so delicious!

Here’s the recipe because I know you are just desperate to make them!

The Most Amazing Cinnamon Rolls Ever That Even A Baking Illiterate Can Make And They Still Taste Good…

Ingredients:

1+1/4 tsp dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 cup butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk

1 egg

4 cups flour

melted butter (heart attack sized amounts)

brown sugar

cinnamon

sultanas (optional though thoroughly encouraged)

Method:

1. Pour warm water over yeast and let it do its thing for 10 mins.

2. Scald milk and pour over the butter, add sugar and salt (allow to cool slightly if still warm).

3. Add the yeast to the milk mixture and a beaten egg.

4. Beat in 4 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time till you get a beautiful doughy mixture and knead until smooth and elastic.

5. Let it rise in a well oiled bowl for 1-1+1/2 hrs or doubled in size.

6. Press dough out into a rectangle shape and smother with melted butter, sugar, cinnamon and sultanas (if using).

7. Roll up into one nice long delicious log (roll along the longer side of the rectangle).

8. Cut into app. 12 pieces or 2-3cm slices and place on a baking tray that has been covered in melted butter.

9. Let them rise until they are touching and bake in 180 degree oven for 15-20mins. If the rolls get too brown, cover with foil until they finish baking, you don’t want to overbake them!

10. Devour with a nice cup of tea!

(Some like to frost them but I prefer the natural state)

Now that you have the most amazing and easy recipe ever I expect lots of wonderful stories of baking these rolls and sharing them with friends! OR, if you were lucky enough to see me within the 48hrs after I made them and hadn’t scoffed them all and I actually let you taste one… post and let me know what you though!

Happy Baking!