Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Chocolate, coffee, and hazelnut chiffon cake



Chocolate, coffee, and hazelnut, definitely a flavour combination you should try. I made this chiffon cake for my son's birthday, I wasn't planning to post to it, but after many requests, here it is. It's a slightly tweaked, more flavourful version of the nutella chiffon I made for him a couple of years ago, stronger on the coffee, with a good dollop of nutella in the sponge.

We barely made it to the restaurant on time, so there's only a couple of images, check my instagram highlights for the waiter's thumbprint! One of my favourite things about this cake is the nutella swiss meringue buttercream, it's just the right combination of hazelnut and chocolate with a hint of salt, I want to put it on all the things...

chocolate chiffon

200g cake flour
30g cocoa powder
10g baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp salt
250g caster sugar
180 ml hot black coffee
60g nutella
125 ml canola oil
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped or 1 tsp vanilla paste
6 eggs, separated
1 extra egg white
1/2 tsp cream of tartar (not essential, but will stabilise the egg whites)
50g caster sugar

nutella swiss meringue buttercream, recipe below

cooled nutella ganache, recipe below
ferrero rocher, hazelnuts and as much foliage as you like, to decorate

serves 16


 preheat your oven to 170ºC

• add the nutella to the hot coffee, mix to combine and set aside to cool (I made my coffee with 2 strong coffee pods)
• combine the cake flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb soda and salt, sift into a the bowl of a stand mixer, if you have one, and with the paddle attachment mix through the 250g caster sugar 
• make a well in the centre of your flour mixture, add the cooled coffee, egg yolks, oil and vanilla extract, mix until smooth
• in another, really large bowl whisk the 7 egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar then mix until you have soft peaks, gradually add the additional 50g caster sugar, whisking until you have firm peaks and the sugar has dissolved
• fold the egg whites into the batter in three stages
• pour the batter into an ungreased, unlined angel food cake tin and bake for 55-60 minutes; check after 55 minutes, the cake should spring back when gently pressed, if not, put it back in for the extra 5 minutes
• remove the cake from the oven, and immediately invert to cool; if your tin doesn't have "feet" balance the upturned tin over a bottle, guiding the neck of the bottle through the centre tube of your pan
• when completely cool, to release the cake, run a sharp knife around the inside and tube sections of the cake tin, remove the cake leaving it sitting on the centre section of the tin; this next stage is tricky, slide a strong thread, I use dental floss, between the base of the cake and the tin, slide the string all the way around the cake, crossing each end around the tube. Invert the cake onto a turntable if you have one, or your serving plate, and put in the fridge for 15 minutes or so.

• frosting step one is the crumb coat, it uses a super thin coating of frosting to glue any loose crumbs to the cake
• starting from the top and working your way down the sides and into the hole through the centre of your cake, use an offset pallet knife to spread a layer of buttercream over your cake;  using the edge of your pallet knife or a cake scraper, gently scrape back as much of the frosting as you can leaving a super thin crumb filled layer behind
• return the cake to the fridge for at least 15 mins to set the crumb coat
• again with the offset pallet knife, cover your cake with a final thicker layer of frosting and return to the fridge for at least 15 minutes, this will firm up the frosting and help the ganache set 

• carefully pour the ganache over the top of the cake, you may need to encourage it over the sides, allow to drip, return to the fridge to set
• decorate with ferrero rocher, hazelnuts, and foliage of your choice
• slice giant slabs of cake with a serrated knife and enjoy
• the cake will keep covered in the fridge for 3 days

nutella swiss meringue buttercream


3 large egg whites

180g caster sugar
230g butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature

180g nutella
pinch salt
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

• combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, place over a pan of simmering water, don't let the pan touch the water; whisk constantly until the temperature reaches 72ºC 

• return the bowl to the stand mixer and whisk on medium high until the mixture cools, has doubled in size and forms stiff peaks
• change to the paddle attachment and add the butter a piece at a time, mix to incorporate each piece before adding the next; the mixture may look alarmingly curdled at times but keep mixing and it will magically come back together
• once all the butter is in, add the salt and vanilla seeds, mixing on slow until combined, finally add the nutella, again mixing slowly to combine

• the frosting should be firm enough to scoop, if it's too soft, put it in the fridge to firm up, checking in 5 minute intervals until it is ready
• buttercream will keep for a week in an air tight container in the fridge, allow to soften at room temperature before use

nutella ganache

100g nutella

60g chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
125ml cream

• finely chop the chocolate, tip into a small heatproof bowl with the nutella

• heat cream in a small pan until barely simmering, simmer for 1 minute then pour over the chocolate and nutella, stir to ensure the chocolate and nutella are covered by the cream, then let stand for 5 minutes
• stir until smooth and glossy, leave to thicken as it cools


Thursday, 1 November 2018

easy no churn lemon curd ice cream sandwich cookies

Home made ice cream, it's awesome, the very best. Ice cream makers, though, I've killed two. Not the fancy counter top variety, but the kind where the chiller bowl lives in the freezer, inevitably ejected for space, neglected, later exploding in the Sydney heat. No churn ice cream is the answer, it's ridiculously easy, and so so delicious.

This easy lemon curd ice cream has 4 ingredients, takes no time at all to whip up, and simply needs a few hours to chill out in the freezer. The ice cream is perfect as is, but I love it sandwiched between two cookies; you could follow the cookie recipe below, or why not buy your favourites, have those sandwiches in your hands pronto.

Chocolate and lemon is a fabulous combination, not as popular, but perhaps a more sophisticated take on my all time favourite combination, chocolate and orange. The bitter chocolate works so well with the sweet and tangy lemon, the biscuits softening beautifully as they rest in the freezer. 

For the sandwich cookies, pour the ice cream into a shallow, rectangular cake pan to freeze, mine is 24cm x 30cm, but something similar will work just as well; if you are just making the ice cream a loaf pan is perfect. The recipe makes 9 large ice cream sandwiches, and a couple of minis with the left overs.



no churn lemon curd ice cream

200g Barker's New Zealand Lemon Curd
600ml thickened cream
125g icing sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon

• line a 24cm x 30cm cake pan with baking paper if you're making ice cream sandwiches, or an unlined loaf pan for just the ice cream; clear a level space in the freezer for the cake pan and leave it in the freezer while you prepare the ice cream
• sift the icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, add the lemon curd, lemon juice and zest, and using the paddle attachment, beat until smooth
• switch to the whisk attachment, add the cream, and whip until soft peaks form
• pour the ice cream mixture into to the chilled cake pan, smooth the top, cover with cling wrap and return to the freezer for a least 6 hours, or overnight
• the ice cream will keep covered in the freezer for up to a week
• makes approximately 1.5 litres


chocolate biscuits

220g plain flour
80g cocoa powder, dutch processed
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1/4 tsp fine salt
190g butter, at room temperature
100g caster sugar
25g light brown sugar
1 egg yolk

• line 2 baking trays with baking paper, set aside
• sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl, set aside
• in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until the colour has lightened and the mixture is fluffy, add the egg yolk, beat again to combine
• tip half the flour mixture into the butter mixture, with the mixer on low, mix to combine
• add the remaining half of the flour mixture, mix until it forms large clumps of dough
• tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently until smooth, wrap in cling wrap, pat into a disc shape and pop into the fridge for an hour
• just before the hour is up, preheat your oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan)
• take the biscuit dough out of the fridge and let is sit on the bench for about 5 minutes to soften slightly
• lightly flour the bench and a rolling pin, roll the dough until it is approximately 3mm thick; using an 8cm round cutter, cut rounds from the dough and place 9 on each of the baking trays
• bake for 20 minutes, or until just firm, turning the trays after 10 minutes
• leave the cookies on the trays until completely cool
• the cookies will keep in an airtight container for a week
• makes 18 cookies, for 9 sandwiches

construction...

• turn half of the biscuits top down on your bench
• working quickly, with the cutter used for the biscuits, cut discs from the ice cream
• place an ice cream disc on an upturned biscuit, top with another, and pop into a freezer container, return to the freezer for at least 2 hours for the ice cream to firm up, and the biscuits to soften slightly
• ice cream sandwiches will keep in the freezer for up to a week





Monday, 24 September 2018

strawberry and cream chiffon cake



Madness. Australian strawberry farmers have been devastated recently by an appalling act of sabotage, recklessly compounded by numerous copycats. It made me furious and so sad for the farmers, images of mountains of berries dumped by the truckload. Farmers are doing it tough, so many family businesses struggling. In celebration of the strawberry and support of our farmers, I'm buying lots of strawberries, and making cake. 

The soft pink of this sponge against the creamy frosting is just lovely, I'd like to pack in more strawberry flavour, next time roasting the strawberries with some of the sugar before they're puréed. Usually I wouldn't share a recipe before I'm completely happy with it, but the timing is right, and any suggestions on that strawberry flavour would be great! Chambord is a wonderful black raspberry liqueur, it adds depth but is not essential here, you could sub it for another liqueur or just leave it out entirely and increase the strawberry purée to 180ml. As always I was a bit carried away with the decoration, so many strawberries, mint, thyme, and the sweetest little flowers from our hedge.

Come on Aussies, keep buying strawberries, they are so good right now, "cut them up don't cut them out"...










































strawberry chiffon

225g cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp salt
250g caster sugar
200g strawberries
30 ml Chambord, or liqueur of your choice
125 ml canola oil
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped or 1 tsp vanilla paste
6 eggs, separated
1 extra egg white
1/2 tsp cream of tartar (not essential, but will stabilise the egg whites)
50g caster sugar

vanilla mascarpone frosting, recipe below
strawberries to decorate, fandom foliage optional

serves 16

 preheat your oven to 170ºC

 trim the leaves from the strawberries, blitz the berries in a food processor or blender and push through a sieve into a measuring jug, you'll need 150ml, keep any excess to serve with the cake (you can mash the berries by hand with a fork, just add a little lemon juice to help the process along)
• combine the cake flour, baking powder, bicarb soda and salt, sift into a the bowl of a stand mixer, if you have one, and with the paddle attachment mix through the 250g caster sugar 
• make a well in the centre of your flour mixture, add the strawberry purée, Chambord, egg yolks, oil and vanilla extract, mix until smooth
• in another, really large bowl whisk the 7 egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar then mix until you have soft peaks, gradually add the additional 50g caster sugar, whisking until you have firm peaks and the sugar has dissolved
• fold the egg whites into the batter in three stages
• pour the batter into an ungreased, unlined angel food cake tin and bake for 55-60 minutes; check after 55 minutes, the cake should spring back when gently pressed, if not, put it back in for the extra 5 minutes
• remove the cake from the oven, and immediately invert to cool; if your tin doesn't have "feet" balance the upturned tin over a bottle, guiding the neck of the bottle through the centre tube of your pan
• when completely cool, to release the cake, run a sharp knife around the inside and tube sections of the cake tin, remove the cake leaving it sitting on the centre section of the tin; this next stage is tricky, slide a strong thread, I use dental floss, between the base of the cake and the tin, slide the string all the way around the cake, crossing each end around the tube. Invert the cake onto a turntable if you have one, or your serving plate, and put in the fridge for 15 minutes or so. (I've had a few questions about how to remove the cake cleanly from the tin, Jen hijacked my phone on a baking date last year, and took a video of just that, I'll upload it to my instagram stories...)

to frost the cake

• frosting step one is the crumb coat, it uses a super thin coating of frosting to glue any loose crumbs to the cake
• starting from the top and working your way down the sides and into the hole through the centre of your cake, use an offset pallet knife to spread a layer of buttercream over your cake;  using the edge of your pallet knife or a cake scraper, gently scrape back most of the frosting leaving a super thin crumb filled layer behind
• return the cake to the fridge for at least 15 mins to set the crumb coat
• again with the offset pallet knife, cover your cake with a final thicker layer of frosting and return to the fridge for at least 15 minutes, this will firm up the frosting and stop your strawberries sliding of the cake!

• decorate with strawberries, flowers, herbs :)
• slice giant slabs of cake with a serrated knife and enjoy
• the cake will keep covered in the fridge for 3 days

vanilla mascarpone frosting

200g soft cream cheese
250g mascarpone
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped or 1 tsp vanilla paste
150g icing sugar
100ml thickened cream

• tip the soft cream cheese and vanilla into a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat on low speed until smooth
• sift the icing sugar over the cream cheese, starting on low speed, then increasing to medium, beat until combined
• add the mascarpone, mix on medium speed until just combined, add the cream, again mixing until smooth, use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days


Monday, 17 September 2018

boysenberry and hazelnut friands


Friands, they're awesome you should bake them, feel free to skip to the recipe below tout de suite!

I'm having a nineties moment. Like many Australians a couple of decades ago, I was obsessed with friands, scouring cookbooks and food mags for a recipe. There was no google, I don't think we even had a computer at home, so my search lead me to a fabulous shop called The Cookery Book, above an equally fab shop selling books about boats. The recipe revealed a friand is essentially a financier with added bits, less chic than the french version, every bit as delicious. 

My now mother-in-law headed off on a trip to Europe, still back in the nineties, and was tasked with buying some tins. I hadn't realised they were baked in aspic moulds, probably a key piece of information. In an amazing cook shop in the beautiful town of Tours, Marge asked for what approximately translates as "little metal boxes for cooking little cakes" and surprisingly found exactly what I was after, M is fabulous with a task! I probably should have used them today, but was distracted by my collection of tiny tart tins...



Friands are definitely comeback worthy, they're light, yet buttery, and have the most perfectly crisp edges. My version includes hazelnuts, and the caramel depth of browned butter, don't be tempted to skip the jam, it adds a wonderful fruity lift. If you have friand tins the recipe makes 12, muffin and mini muffin pans work well too, 12 regular sized or 18 mini; I'm so glad I tried the tart tins, their fluted edges maximising those crispy bits. 

boysenberry and hazelnut friands, for Barker's of New Zealand

60g almond meal

60g hazelnuts
200g icing sugar
90g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
5 egg whites
125g butter
3-4 tablespoons Barker's New Zealand boysenberry jam
40g chopped hazelnuts
extra butter for greasing

preheat oven to 180ºC fan, 200ºC conventional, grease 12 friand tins or an 18 hole mini muffin tray

• melt the butter over a gentle heat, keep heating until the butter turns golden brown, and smells wonderfully nutty and caramelly, remove from the heat, set aside to cool
• put the hazelnuts and icing sugar into a food processor and blitz until the nuts are finely ground, tip into a mixing bowl
sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl with the hazelnuts and sugar, add the ground almonds
lightly whisk the egg whites until foamy, add to the dry ingredients with the cooled browned butter, whisk until just combined
• fill the friand tins or muffin pan 2/3 full, dot the surface with jam, taking care that it doesn't touch the tin, sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts
• bake friand tins for 25 minutes, mini muffin tray for 15 minutes, until the edges are golden, and the cakes are just set in the centre
• remove from the oven and immediately turn out onto a cooling rack


friands are best just barely warm from the oven, but will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days







Monday, 27 August 2018

blood orange, walnut and browned butter madeleines



After being blown away by the intense flavour of the hazelnuts I bought directly from the grower in Tasmania, I set out to try and find some equally fresh walnuts here in Sydney. A local fruit and vegetable store had a big sack of walnuts in their shells, I was so excited to find them I forgot to ask when and where they'd been harvested. I shelled half a bag, and roasted them, for the madeleines below. The flavour was definitely superior to the walnut halves I buy from the supermarket, but not the revelation of fresh Tassie hazelnuts! Lucky blood orange season tempered my disappointment. 

I love these madeleine trays, and because I know someone will ask, they came from Japan, so sorry! I'm lucky to have a friend who regularly visits Japan, and generously ferried a tray back for me, twice! There's a similar tray here, but so far I've resisted purchasing...



blood orange, walnut, and browned butter madeleines

15g melted butter, for greasing the tray
2 tbsp flour, for flouring the tray
155g caster sugar
155g butter
80g flour
80g walnuts
3 jumbo eggs (approx 200g)
zest of 1 blood orange

• melt the butter over a gentle heat, keep heating until the butter turns golden brown, and smells gorgeously nutty with hints of caramel, remove from the heat, pour into a bowl and set aside to cool
• put the walnuts and flour into a food processor and blitz until the nuts are finely ground, set aside
• put the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer if you have one, if not use a hand held electric mixer, add the sugar and whip until super pale and thick
• gently fold the walnut flour through the egg mixture
• add the blood orange zest and melted butter, fold until combined
• cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for somewhere between 2 hours and overnight
• when you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180ºC
• generously butter your madeleine tray, dust with flour, turn upside down and tap on your bench to remove the excess
• using a piping bag, pipe the batter into the tray, filling each shell 3/4 full, if you don't have a piping bag use a couple of spoons
• bake in the centre of your oven for 15 minutes, the madeleines are cooked when their edges are golden brown and crisp, and spring back when lightly pressed in the centre
• madeleines are best eaten when just barely warm, but if, like me, you love blood orange and all things pink, make the icing below, dip the cooled shells in, then gently place on a cooling rack until the icing has set
• makes 18 regular sized madeleines

icing

125g icing sugar
juice of 1/2 blood orange

• sieve the icing sugar into a small bowl
• gradually add the blood orange juice until you have a thick icing, you want it to just drop off your spoon, slightly looser than a paste (why is it so difficult to describe the consistency??)
• use immediately







Wednesday, 22 August 2018

strawberry and apple breakfast panna cotta


It's winter in Sydney, but feeling like spring, heck yesterday felt like summer! Early spring mornings are my favourite, just warm enough, without summer's humidity, and perfect for lazy brunches. So, with languid weekend brunches in mind, here's my recipe for a strawberry and apple breakfast pannacotta. Half the cream has been subbed for greek yoghurt, so while still beautifully smooth, it's lighter than regular pannacotta, with the sweetness of strawberry and apple, a slight yoghurty tang. 



This is the first in a series of recipes I'm developing for Barker's New Zealand, and uses their strawberry and apple compote, but it could absolutely be swapped for either of the other flavours. You can make and serve your pannacotta in glasses, or use dariole moulds and turn them out to serve, the plastic moulds work really well.



strawberry and apple breakfast panna cotta

3 sheets gold strength gelatine

150 ml thickened cream
150ml milk
50g caster sugar 
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
150g Barker's strawberry and apple compote, plus extra to serve
200ml pot set yoghurt

• place the gelatine leaves in a bowl of iced water, set aside

• tip the milk, cream, sugar, and the half vanilla bean, include the seeds, into a medium saucepan, bring to a simmer over a gentle heat, take off the heat and set aside
• take the gelatine leaves out of the bowl and squeeze gently to remove the excess water; add to the pan and stir until dissolved, strain through a sieve into a bowl
• add the yoghurt, and using a whisk, stir until combined
• add the compote, stir to combine
• pour into your serving bowls, take care not to splash the sides, cover and pop in the fridge for 4 hours, or until set
• serve chilled with granola, additional compote, and fresh fruit 

If you made the pannacotta in dariole moulds, run a sharp knife around the outside of the pannacotta, gently pressing against the mould to keep the knife against the plastic. Place your serving plate over the pannacotta in its mould, quickly turn over, give the mould a gentle tap, and your pannacotta should slip out onto the plate - if this fails, gently squeeze the mould to break the air lock and try again :)


serves 6







Wednesday, 1 August 2018

chicken and mushroom potstikcers




Potstickers. Quite possibly the best snack. Ever. 

In our house we've made them a meal, one giant bowl of chilli spiked, crisp bottomed deliciousness. I always make loads, planning to virtuously freeze half, ready to whip out at a later date, smug smile on my face. Never happens, we eat them all, every time. My son had a few friends over for his birthday last year, I made 120 as an entrée, they ate them all too.

My love for home made dumplings was sparked last year, at a private dumpling workshop in a friend's gorgeous studio kitchen. We had a riotous afternoon, the patient Vanessa sharing her dumpling knowhow. It's a lovely, in my case slow, process. The dough and filling are simple to make, rolling and shaping the dumplings, a little trickier. I've tried to explain the process below, it may be worth googling the technique, or attending one of Vanessa's workshops!


This recipe makes 48, if it's your first time making them, or you're a bit slow like me, pop the first half in the fridge while you make the rest. If you do plan to freeze any, put the tray of dumplings, uncovered, in the freezer for 15 minutes then transfer them to a ziplock bag or freezer container, store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. The dumplings can be cooked from frozen, just add a little extra water and steam them for 8 minutes not 4. You will need a non stick pan with a tightly fitting lid, I use a large 34cm pan to cook mine, the pan in the images is just for presentation, it looks so pretty! 

Big thanks to the lovely Aimee from Twigg Studios who spent an afternoon making these dumplings with me, sharing her styling and editing tricks, "thanks so much Aimee" I love these shots. As much as I love dumplings? Maybe...




Chicken and Mushroom Potstickers

dumpling wrappers

450g plain flour
200ml boiling water
100ml cold water

• tip the flour into a large bowl, add the boiling water and mix together, you're looking for a crumbly texture
• add the cold water, keep mixing until you have a shaggy dough, then continue kneading with your hands until the dough comes together as a ball
• turn out onto your bench and knead for around 8 minutes, the dough should be smooth, and spring back slowly when lightly pressed
• return the dough to the bowl, cover with cling wrap and stand for 20 minutes






filling

400g chicken mince
250g assorted mushrooms, chopped finely
2 tsp peanut oil
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp cornflour
1 tbs shaoxing wine
2 tbsp soy
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
40g shallots

vegetable oil for frying
cold water for steaming
ground szechuan pepper corns, if you can find them

• heat the peanut oil until just smoking, add the mushrooms, fry until golden then add the garlic, continue to cook until soft, and all moisture has evaporated, set aside to cool
• in a large bowl combine all the filling ingredients, including the mushrooms, mix well, the filling should come together as a single mass (?) the mince will no longer look like mince, more of a paste

• line a baking with tray with baking paper, dust lightly with flour
• uncover the dough, divide in quarters, work with one quarter, keeping the remaining dough covered
roll the dough into a sausage, cut into 12 pieces and dust with flour 
• working with one wrapper at a time, keep the other pieces covered, roll the dough piece into a ball, squash with your palm to flatten, then use a thin rolling pin to roll the wrapper into a rough circle, roll the wrapper from the inside out, turning the wrapper with your other hand as you roll, the wrapper should be slightly thinner around the edge, the wrapper should be roughly 8cm across
• place a heaped teaspoon of filling in the centre of the dumpling wrapper, fold in half so the edges meet in a semi circle, pinch together at the corner to seal, then form little pleats in one edge of the dumpling, squeeze the pleat against the other edge to seal; continue until you reach the other side, make sure the pleats are sealed and there are no gaps, place the dumpling on the baking sheet, gently flattening the bottom, cover with a damp cloth, and repeat with the remaining wrappers.

• heat a tablespoon of oil in a non stick pan, quickly fill with dumplings, flat side down (my large pan will fit 24 dumplings in 2 concentric circles) fry for 2-3 mins until golden, add 1/3 cup cold water, immediately clamp on the lid, leave to steam for 3-4 mins, remove the lid, allow the water to evaporate completely then let the dumplings fry again for a minute or so, serve immediately, sprinkled with ground szechuan pepper and a generous bowl of dipping sauce!


dipping sauce

2 tbsp soy
2 tbsp black vinegar
1 tbsp chiu chow chilli oil
splash sesame oil

• combine well, share between dipping bowls; recipe can be doubled/tripled and so on for sauce lovers!