Qupcakes (It’s pronounced cupcakes)

As I haven’t posted in a while, I thought I’d just write about what I’ve been up to this term. So, a group of students, a lady named Paula, who works at the southern regional business centre, and I have started a cupcakes business that’s all about Queanbeyan, hence the Q in the name. We’ve been making cupcakes on a weekly basis and selling them to our captive market; students at my school. The recipe is one we found online and is referred to as the ‘ultimate cupcake’, which may have something to do with the fact that’s full of vanillery goodness. Anyway, if you’d like to give the recipe a go after my spiel the link is as follows: http://www.cupcakeproject.com/2011/09/lbest-vanilla-cupcake-recipe.html

As for the icing, we just use a simple buttercream, as you tend not to be able to go wrong there. 

Caramel Mudcake 

This is the second time I’ve made this mudcake, and it worked out far better than the first time (it sunk in the middle and was most depressing). This is however, the first time I’ve ever attempted to write words on a cake, and seeing as it was being made for a paying customer, I was pretty nervous. In saying that, I’m pretty pleased with the results. Anyway, I’ll stop my blabbing and write out the recipe, which is from taste.com. 

Ingredients

Melted butter, to grease
200g butter, cubed

200g white chocolate (Nestle brand), chopped

200g (1 cup, firmly packed) dark brown sugar

180ml (3/4 cup) hot water

1 tablespoon golden syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

2 eggs, at room temperature

150g (1 cup) plain flour

150g (1 cup) self-raising flour

Method

Step 1

Preheat oven to 160°C. Brush a round 22cm (base measurement) cake pan with melted butter. Line base and side with non-stick baking paper.

Step 2

Place butter, chocolate, sugar, water, golden syrup and vanilla essence in a heavy-based saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat with a wooden spoon for 5 mins or until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Set aside for 20 mins to cool.

Step 3

Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift combined flours over chocolate mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Step 4

Pour mixture into pan and bake in preheated oven for 50-60 mins or until a skewer comes out almost clean. Stand cake for 20 mins before turning onto a wire rack to cool. 

Here is the link, should you want it: http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/caramel-mud-cake/ba48c9c7-9821-44e0-a336-8ce0e1488b9f

As for the icing, I used a Martha Stewart ganache recipe. Here is the link: http://www.marthastewart.com/865175/ganache

I will also write it out for those who aren’t Americans.

Ingredients

230g semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

1 cup thickened cream

Method

1. Coarsely chop chocolate. A serrated knife is best for the job; its sawlike teeth grab the chocolate, breaking it up.

2. Bring cream just to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour over chocolate. Let stand for 10 minutes (don’t stir — doing so will cool the ganache too quickly, making it grainy). 

3. Stir with a whisk until smooth and shiny to break up any pieces and emulsify cream and chocolate.

4. Chocolate will often settle on the bottom or sides of the bowl. Scrape the dish with a rubber spatula to incorporate all of it.

5. Place the cake on a wire wrack over a baking tray, and pour over the ganache in a circular motion. Tap the baking tray to encourage the ganache to cover the sides of the cake. If the ganache does not cover the sides completely, use a small palette knife to patch up any areas that aren’t iced. 

I just added that bold bit at the end, as I’ve actually meshed two recipes. As for the blue writing in icing I just used Queen’s writing icing. 

Bread and Butter Pudding 

So this is the second bread and butter pudding I’ve made. This one is more indulgent than the last, containing oodles of cream and butter. As for the taste, the excess amounts of fat certainly pays off. The recipe is from taste.com but I’ll write it out below as well as the link. 

Ingredients

4 eggs
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups milk
300ml pure cream
8 thick slices white bread, crusts removed
40g butter, softened
1/2 cup sultanas

2 tablespoons demerara sugar

Vanilla ice-cream, to serve

Method

Step 1

Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease a 5cm-deep, 17cm x 28cm (base) baking dish. Whisk eggs, caster sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, milk and cream in a bowl.

Step 2

Spread both sides of each bread slice with butter. Cut each slice in half diagonally. Arrange half the bread in rows in prepared dish. Sprinkle with half the sultanas. Repeat with remaining bread and sultanas.

Step 3

Pour egg mixture over bread. Sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and set. Serve with ice-cream.

I followed the recipe to the letter and it worked very well. They only thing I did that wasn’t mentioned in the recipe is heat the butter slightly in a microwave, then again that wouldn’t be necessary if it wasn’t so darn cold. I also used salted butter rather than unsalted butter, as it enhances the flavour of the pudding, and fruit toast crusts rather than white bread, purely because that’s what needed using up. 

Here is the link: http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/bread-butter-pudding-7/9d7ab7b6-95ba-4fc4-ac3d-5500c882480b

Chocolate Mousse Cake



I find the idea of this cake very intriguing, I mean who would have thought you could turn Mousse into a cake?! The best part is it actually works, and quite well at that. I had no issues with this recipe, however there were a few parts that were a bit vague and could use some clarification. I will write anything I think needs to be there in bold. You’ll also see that the recipe calls for sorbet, chocolate and mascarpone for decoration. I thought this was a bit of overkill so I just made the cake. I would have made the mascarpone, but as I made it for a friend’s birthday, which we celebrated at school, I didn’t think melted cream would go down well.

So here it is:

Ingredients

500g dark chocolate
2 tablespoons golden syrup

125g unsalted butter

4 eggs

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 tablespoon plain flour, sifted

Melted chocolate, to decorate

Chocolate sorbet, to serve

Coffee Mascarpone 

200g mascarpone cheese

2 tablespoons instant coffee

2 tablespoons pure icing sugar

Method

Step 1

Preheat oven to 220°C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm round spring-form cake pan with non-stick baking paper.

Step 2

Melt the chocolate, golden syrup and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water on low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.

Step 3

Place eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer or use an electric hand beater and beat on high for 10 minutes until very thick and pale. Gently fold in the flour then fold in the chocolate mixture until combined. Pour into the cake pan and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Transfer the cake to the fridge for 1 hour to cool (this step is important as it sets the middle of the cake).

Step 4

Meanwhile, to make the coffee mascarpone, dissolve coffee in 1 tablespoon of boiling water and set aside to cool. Beat together the mascarpone, coffee and sugar in a bowl until stiff.

Step 5

To make the chocolate leaf, brush non-toxic leaves with the melted chocolate. When cool, peel the leaf off.

Step 6

Slice the cake and serve with a dollop of coffee mascarpone, a chocolate leaf on top and a scoop of sorbet on the side.
For the original recipe go to:
http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/chocolate-mousse-cake/d12b92e5-d1ef-4fd7-8d62-1e4462047424?r=recipes/top10chocolatecakerecipes&c=1080a64b-a5e8-4567-a50c-265eeb0d4439/Top%2010%20chocolate%20cake%20recipes

Baklava (Kol Wa Shkor) 

So this is the first time I’ve ever dared to attempt baklava, and I’m very pleased with the result. This is kind of a cheats version, as it uses pre-made phyllo pastry, but it still tastes as baklava should and is relatively simple to make. The recipe comes from my sweet Middle East cookbook, and is written as follows;

Ingredients

Filling

1 1/3 C (200g) hulled unsalted pistachios

1/2 C (100g) superfine sugar

1 Tbsp orange blossom water

1 Tbsp rose water
12 sheets phyllo pastry, each measuring 18 by 32 cm

5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

6 Tbsp (90ml) fragrant sugar syrup 

Fragrant Sugar Syrup

2 C (400g) superfine sugar

1 1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 C (120ml) water

1 Tbsp rose water

1 Tbsp orange blossom water

Method

Fragrant Sugar Syrup (makes about 1 1/2 cups)

  1. Put the Sugar, lemon juice, and water in a saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. Boil for 3 minutes, and then add the rose water and orange blossom water. Mix well and remove from the heat. Let cool before using. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.

Baklava

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. Butter a medium baking dish measuring about 18 by 32 cm and 3cm deep.
  2. To make the filling: Coarsely grind the pistachios in a spice grinder or small food processor and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, orange blossom water, and rose water; mix well. Set aside.
  3. Spread one sheet of phyllo pastry over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Brush with melted butter. Lay another sheet over the first and brush with more melted butter; repeat with the additional four sheets, brushing each with butter for a total of six layers of phyllo. Spread the pistachio filling evenly over the pasty and cover with six more layers of phyllo, brushing each one with melted butter. Pour and leftover butter over the pastry.
  4. Cut the pasty into 5 cm squares or into thin rectangles about 5cm long and 2cm wide.
  5. Bake until crispy and golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for a minute of two before pouring he sugar syrup all over the pastry. Store in an airtight contaminated at room temperature for up to 2 days.

The only difficulties I had while making this involved taking the baklava out of the baking dish, but I found using a serrated knife and a spatula to lift pieces out made it easier. 

   

Date-filled Pastries (Maqrud)


I’m currently in Dubai visiting my dad and so I thought it fitting to bake something from my Sweet Middle East cookbook. The date-filled pastries worked out better than I had anticipated, given that the semolina flour I used was the wrong sort-the result of a very late night shopping trip. The recipe calls for fine semolina, where as I just used ordinary semolina, which meant the pastries were unfortunately a bit grainy in texture. The taste however made it well worth the effort. So, without further a do, I shall write out the recipe I used.

Ingredients

Honey syrup

1 2/3 C (400ml) water

1 3/4 C (350g) organic cane sugar

1/3 C (100g) honey

Pastry

Pinch of saffron threads

1 C (240ml) warm water

2 1/2 C (450g) fine semolina 

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 C (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Filling

1 1/2 C (225g) pitted dates

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Grated zest of 1 orange
Sunflower oil for frying

Method

To make the syrup: In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and honey and bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Dinner for 3 minutes, remove from the heat, and let cool to room temperature.

To make the pastry:

Crush the saffron threads between your fingers or in a small mortar with a pestle. In a small bowl, combine the saffron with the water and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the semolina, salt, and baking soda; mix well, then make a well in the centre. Add the olive oil and the saffron water and stir with your hand or a spatula to incorporate the wet and dry ingredients. Knead in the bowl by hand until you have a smooth, malleable dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. 

To make the filling:

While the dough is resting, in a food processor, pulse the dates until coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil, cinnamon, and orange zest and process until the mixture forms a smooth paste, about 1 minute, scraping down the bowl as needed. Divide the filling into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a cylinder about 2 cm thick and 5 cm long and set onto a plate or baking sheet. Cover with cling wrap.

Lightly oil a baking sheet (or use nobestick baking paper). Place a wire rack over a second baking sheet.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Roll one ball of dough into an oval about 10cm in length, 5cm wide, and 12 mm thick. Place a filling cylinder along the length of the dough oval, centred over one half. Fold the other half over, enclosing the filling. Using your fingers or the fine-holed side of a box grater, flatten the filled dough to an even 12 mm thickness. Using a chef’s knife, trim the ends, and then cut the dough at an angle into diamonds with about 2.5cm sides; you should be able to cut 4 diamonds. Lay them on the oiled baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Pour enough sunflower oil into a larger, deep frying pan to reach a depth of 5cm. Place over medium heat. Check the temperature by dropping in a piece of dough into the oil; if the oil bubbles around it, it’s ready. Drop in as many parties as will comfortably fit without overcrowding. 

Fry the pastries until golden all over, 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Remove the pastries using a slotted spoon and drop them into the syrup. Turn a few times in the syrup to coat them well, and then transfer to the prepared wire rack to allow the excess syrup to drain off.

Fry and coat the remaining pastries in the same way, making sure the oil does not get too hot. Let cool on the rack to room temperature. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
I found this recipe quite easy to follow as it has very clear, detailed instructions. Do read the section regarding rolling the dough carefully however as I found it a bit confusing at first. 

Chocolate Biscotti 


For those who don’t know Biscotti are Italian biscuits originating in the city of Prato. They are twice-baked, oblong-shaped, dry, crunchy, and nice to have with a cuppa. This was my first attempt at making them and as you’d expect there were a few hiccups. The recipe I used is from a book titled “Taste Chocolate.”

I had to do a few things differently to the recipe so my alterations will be in bold.

Anyway, here goes:

Ingredients 

120g (3/4 C) hazelnuts 

350g (2 3/4 C) plain all purpose flour

A pinch of salt

2 tsp baking powder 

60g (1 C) cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

220g (1 C 2 Tbsp) brown sugar

5 small eggs

50g (1/3 C) pistachios, shelled

75g (1/2 C) raisins or dried cranberries

1/2 tsp lemon zest, finely grated.

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

2. Toast the hazelnuts in a dry non-stock pan, stirringly constantly. Take off the heat when the skins of the hazelnuts crack. Place in a paper towel and allow to steam for a minute or two. Rub the hazelnuts in the paper towel until all skin is removed.

3. Pour the flour into a large bowl, add the salt, baking powder, cocoa, and sugar and mix well. Make a well in the middle, add the eggs and vanilla into the well and mix until a smooth dough forms. Knead in the hazelnuts, pistachios, raisins (I used cranberries) and grated lemon peal. 

4. Shape the dough in a roll approximately 60 cm thick.

5. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and press the dough flat, until it is 3-4 cms in height. Bake on the bottom shelf for about 20 minutes, or until firm to touch.

6. Take out of the oven, remove the baked roll from the baking tray and place on a chopping board. 

7. In roughly 7 minutes, or when the dough is no longer to hot to cut without crumbling, slice the roll at a slight angle into approximately 2-3 cm slices using a serrated knife. 

8. Lay the slices on the baking tray and bake for a further 4-5 minutes on each side or until the centre is dried out. Leave to cool.

The main reason I had to alter the recipe so much is that it was quite brief in parts and I found myself having to look up how to do things online. The mixture also didn’t seem to bind using only 3 eggs, possibly because the recipe required the use of large eggs, but this was not specified. Instead I used 5 small and a little bit of water to get the dough to the right consistency. 

Anyway, it did end up resembling Biscotti, but it wasn’t completely dry in the centre, so you could say it was semi-successful. I think next time I will just use a well trusted Italian recipe.