Thursday, 30 January 2014

Valentines Giveaway

Apparently you can't announce winners of competitions on Facebook. I didn't know that, but then I'm not one to read fine print. 
So,  I've bumped you here from the Tea, Cake + Create Facebook page to find out the winner of my spur-of-the-moment Valentine's Giveaway
While you're here - make yourself comfortable, look around, and find something sweet to make or bake : )

But back to the giveaway:

Everyone's suggestions were really great - and it just shows you how versatile one cutter can be.
When I first saw this cookie cutter, forget the groovy moustache - all I could see were lovebirds and wings. (And aren't they such pretty wings?! I'll definitely be using them for that, too.)  
 But the answer is  ….

…a pair of Lovebirds (the clue being the theme of the upcoming Valentines / Lovebirds cookie class!)

And out of the pool of correct answers, the winner is…..

Jolene Collier! 

You know how to get hold of me, Jolene. Congratulations! 

That was fun - should we do it again? 


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Storing Cookies

After 10kg of cookie dough and 360 cookies in the past two days - it's time to put my oven gloves down and my feet up! Usually I whizz through baking biscuits for classes, but with the kitchen feeling like an oven in this weather, I counted down every last one until it was done!
So, while I'm chill-laxing I thought I'd write some notes on something I frequently get asked:
How to store cookies.

Cookie dough - can usually be kept in the fridge for a few days before using, but it also freezes very well.

Cookies - once completely cool after being baked, I store mine in large plastic containers (the ones that you buy 14kg of Pettinice icing in!). I layer them in tiers, with a sheet of absorbent paper towel between each layer. I start with the larger, stronger cookies on the bottom, and put the more delicate ones on the top tiers.

(The way they're stacked in the above picture is just for the sake of the photograph!  I've found that stacking a lot of cookies, while quicker and easier, leads to more breakages.)

You can store them this way for at least a week, possibly even 2!

Decorated Cookies: I find it best to pack each cookie individually into a cellophane bag.
Heat seal the edge, or  simply turn the edge over and seal with a piece of (pretty washi) tape or a sticker.
 I then store the cellophane-wrapped cookies in a container between layers of bubble wrap.
(Stored this way they are still edible after 2 weeks…but don't say I told you so!!)

If the decorated cookies just need to be kept for a day or two before serving, then I store them in containers between sheets of paper towel and bubble wrap.
(Don't let paper towel that has picked up grease from the bottom of the cookies rest on the iced surface of other cookies;  it may discolour your icing.)

Freezing Cookies:
Undecorated cookies freeze well. Let them thaw at room temperature, and if necessary you can put them into a warm oven to crisp up slightly. Apparently you can also freeze iced cookies, but in my experience - in a humid environment - the condensation when they thaw can ruin them, and it's not a chance I'll take.

And while we're on the subject of baking cookies, here's the basic butter cookie recipe that I use:

Happy baking…and storing!


Saturday, 25 January 2014

Orange and Pistachio Cake with White Chocolate Ganache

Somewhere out there is a prize winning recipe with this combination of flavours. I just don't know where. I had the magazine that it was published in, I'm sure of it. But fits of zealous de-cluttering occasionally take over from my usual hoarding nature, and I fear that that particular magazine was a victim of such an episode. And that inveterate hoarder, Google, couldn't find it either.

So, after finally giving up the search, I've managed to come up with a pretty-darn-good (if-I-say-so-myself) Orange and Pistachio Cake.
Actually, it's so good that it's one of my current favourites.

In the 1:1 000 000 chance that I've been lucky enough to replicate the original recipe exactly,  I offer my sincere apologies to its creator: I'll amend the credit accordingly… and rush out and buy a lottery ticket ; )

Orange and Pistachio Cake with White Chocolate Ganache

Orange and Pistachio Cake
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Grease a Bundt pan or 18-20cm cake pan.

150g butter
150g caster sugar
275g flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
Zest of 1 medium orange.
Juice 1/2 medium orange.
1 cup (250ml) buttermilk

50g roughly chopped pistachio nuts - for sprinkling.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Put aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together - beat until pale.
Add the orange zest and vanilla extract. Beat briefly.
Add the eggs, one at a time. (Add 1tbs flour with each egg to prevent curdling).

Add 1/3 of the sifted dry ingredients, then half the buttermilk to the above mixture. Mix briefly.
Then another third of the dry ingredients followed by the buttermilk and orange juice. Mix.
Finally add the last of the flour mix.
Mix until just combined.

Pour into the prepared cake pan.
Bake at 180'C for approx. 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out just-clean.
Remove from the oven.

Leave to cool completely before turning out from the cake pan.

White Chocolate Ganache

120g white chocolate
60g cream (35-40% fat content)

Melt both ingredients together in a double boiler.

Allow to cool slightly.
Pour over the cool cake before the ganache sets.
(If you're using ganache that has already set, heat it gently - either in the microwave or double boiler - until it is at pouring consistency.)
Sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts.


... and save the recipe ; )


Sunday, 19 January 2014

Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake

This is a real "keep it sweet and simple" cake.  And it's good -  so good that I've made it three times in the past 2 weeks. I'd have made it even more, but for the fact that I ran out of friends to serve it to, and I don't like to serve the same thing to the same people twice in a short time - I have standards!

The cake is often referred to as a #one bowl chocolate cake or  #the best chocolate cake ever.
I have no idea why I used the hashtag here - I'm a social media #illiterati - but it seemed like a good enough place to throw it in ; )

All you're going to need is that  ## (yes - it's a double hashtag) chocolate cake and a jar of  Nutella.
I added some chopped hazelnuts because I love this combination of textures and flavours -  moist rich chocolate cake; crunchy nuts, and silky, delicious Nutella.

Chocolate Cake
Recipe from more sources than I know how to credit

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Grease and line 2 x 20cm round cake pans, or 3 x 18cm round pans

2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup hot black coffee

Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl; add the rest of the ingredients except the coffee, and mix until combined. Mix in the coffee.

Pour into your prepared tins.

Bake at 180'C until a skewer inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs attached - approx 20 minutes if you've used 3 layer pans, 30 minutes if you've used 2.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool completely before removing from the cake pans.

Spread Nutella* generously between each layer of cake, and on the top, and sprinkle with roughly chopped hazelnuts.

* a hot knife helps to spread the Nutella easily and smoothly.

Sweet and simple right?

For more Nutella recipes see here - Nutella Cake
and here - Nutella Cheesecake



Saturday, 11 January 2014

Fondant Dragons

It would be really neat and clever if I could say that these dragons were made to celebrate the Chinese New Year at the end of this month, but it's not the Year of the Dragon (it's the Year of the horse).
I had no reason to make them other than the need to kick my butt into creative mode. I had to do something or my head was going to explode. Yes, really - explode. You would have heard the bang wherever you were. And it would have been messy.
So, I ignored my children, my husband and the dishes for a couple of hours and made them - one for me and one for you.
: )

Fondant Dragons

You'll need:
Modelling paste - Fondant icing with a little CMC / tylose powder added to it, in two colours.
A small amount of white fondant and a tiny amount of black fondant.
Edible glue / Tylose glue
Palette knife and leaf veiner.
Ball tool.
Small fondant roller.
Circle cutter/ large icing nozzle.
Corn flour.
Skewer/ dry spaghetti

For the body:
Roll one side of a ball of paste between the flat edges of both hands.
This will elongate the neck.

Place a skewer or piece of dry spaghetti through the entire neck and body, and leave about  2cm sticking out to support the head.

Put the body aside to dry.

For the head:
Roll out an oblong piece of paste - make sure it is in proportion to the body.

Mark out place for the eyes with a ball tool. And create the nostrils with a small ball tool.
Indent the mouth with the edge of a large icing nozzle. Open the mouth slightly with the leaf veiner.

Use white balls of paste for the eyes; use a dab of tylose glue to secure in place.
Cut out small rounds of paste, cut part off. Use a little glue, and put these over the back of the eyeballs.

Add black pupils with small pieces of black paste. 

Make a tapered tail. Flatten the thick end to fit it under the body. Glue it in place. 


Cut out several small triangles, and stick them over the head, back and tail of the dragon.
 Use a triangle at the end of the tail. Pinch it slightly to create a more tapered look.

To make the lower limbs: 
Start with 2 balls of paste; roll them into sausage shapes in the palm of your hand with your index finger, but don't apply pressure to one end of each sausage to leave a more bulbous foot.

Use a dab of glue to secure them in place. 

Indent the feet with the edge of a palette knife to create the toes.

Do the same for the upper limbs, but with a smaller amount of paste.

 Bend each upper limb, then pinch the paste to create an elbow.
Use a palette knife to indent fingers.

Secure the limbs in place with tylose glue.

Make the wings by cutting a circle of paste in half, then use a small circle cutter or tip of a large round icing nozzle (eg. an Ateco 804) to scallop the edges.

Vein the wings with a leaf veiner or palette knife.

Allow to dry slightly before glueing in place.

Nearly forgot ears... Use the dresden tool to indent small cones of paste.

Glue in place.

When the body is dry, position the head onto the bit of exposed skewer/ spaghetti. (Cut it shorter if necessary).

If you'd like to, add some finishing touches:
dry brush on powdered colour; paint on dots, eyelashes, etc using gel colour mixed with clear alcohol.

Ok, I feel better now. I hope you do, too : )


Sunday, 5 January 2014

Peanut Butter Biscuits

Ah, summer days…
This is the best part of the holidays for me - after the rush of Christmas and New Year, there's just over a week left before it's back to school and work, and you get to really appreciate the blue skies and long sunny days.
But as far as baking goes, it's not possible to do anything very sophisticated with ever-present young "helpers"around, so we're sticking to the basics. And what could be more holiday-baking-basic than peanut butter biscuits?!

Crispy on the outside, and soft and peanut-buttery on the inside. They make you want to lift your face up to the sun and smile : )

Peanut Butter Biscuits
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

125g butter at room temp.
100g peanut butter*
100g golden syrup
100g brown sugar plus extra for sprinkling
200g flour
50g uncooked oats
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

* I use peanut butter with no extra salt or sugar added. If you are using a sweetened peanut butter, you may want to decrease the amount of sugar in the recipe.

Beat together the butter, peanut butter, syrup, vanilla and sugar.
Add the flour, oats, salt and baking soda. Mix well.

Roll into balls and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Flatten with a fork.
Bake at 180'C for approx 8 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before lifting off the baking tray.