Monday, 31 October 2016

Halloween Finger Cookies

 Anyone for finger food?
*cackle cackle*

Halloween gets greeted with mixed emotions here in SA, for a variety of reasons, which I understand. But...
It's such a fun theme to decorate!
 And it's really the only time you can get away with a black, purple and orange combination... Which my inner rock-chick loves (once a year is probably enough of that, though!)

Despite wanting to, I wasn't planning on baking any Halloween treats this year because of time constraints. But then I got this idea from the Pick 'n Pay Fresh Living Magazine. And I just happened to have a little left-over cookie dough in my freezer that was perfect for the task.

Halloween Fingers

All you'll need is cookie dough and pumpkin seeds. (The Fresh Living Magazine suggested using almonds, which also make great nails: quite ogre-ish; these are more zombie or witch-like, perhaps?!). 
And some coloured chocolate if you want to make them bloody. 

Roll out a sausage of dough

Use your fingers (or your 6 year old baking assistant's if yours are busy taking photos) to roll indentations into the dough for knuckles

Place a pumpkin seed onto the tip of the finger for a nail. Push it in firmly. 

Use the blunt side of a knife to score creases on the knuckles. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes at 180'C (or until just starting to turn golden). 
Allow to cool. 
Optional - colour a small amount of white chocolate red (use red powdered food colouring), and drip over the severed ends of the fingers. 

And if you don't do Halloween, then maybe they'll work for your next Walking Dead party. But maybe you don't do Zombies either! 

Happy (Halloween) decorating! 


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Tropical Flower Cookies

My timing of classes over the past few months has been a little off.
I distinctly remember thinking that I should do a monster cookie class for halloween this year, and yet I scheduled it for August. (?!?)
And all these summery, holiday mood classes (Florida Fun Cookies, and More Florida Fun Cupcakes) have been taking place on decidedly un-summery days. I'd take a picture to prove it to you - but just look at a piece of soggy cotton wool, and you'll get an idea of the misty damp conditions outside my window. Nice weather for reading and hot chocolate. Not for sugar work. Grrr!

So, we'll just have to get our rays from a happy sun cookie instead!

Here's how I made those hibiscus flower cookies:

I don't have a tropical flower cutter, so I just used a normal 5-petal cutter and

a small leaf cutter to change the shape of the petals (any gently curved edge would do). 

Once the cookies were baked and cool, I outlined with royal icing,

then flooded them;

immediately piped a white splodge onto the still wet icing (wet-on-wet); 

added a bit of yellow (wet-on-wet, with flood-consistency icing) 

and used a cocktail stick / scribe tool to drag the white and yellow icing outwards 

Once that background layer was dry, I added another outline and a stamen, using detail-consistency royal icing.

Allow to dry completely before packaging. 

You'll find a recipe for royal icing, and details about consistency here

Happy baking!


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Moving on and Banana Bread

And life goes on... Which is how it should be, shouldn't it?
Especially if you have children. (They aren't made with a pause button - major design flaw!).
People have asked me how my two are doing since my mother passed away. They absolutely adored her. But they're just fine - we were honest with them from the start. And they could see for themselves how the person that they loved was no longer there, from months before the end.
Children are resilient.
Or perhaps they're all just mini psychopaths with limited capacity for empathy!

So, one day this week my son reported that his favourite school lunch was banana bread. That really surprised me, because my daughter loves banana bread, and the two of them are chalk and cheese when it comes to food.
So, of course I rushed to make banana bread for school the next day. Only to be told, well, he doesn't actually eat it, but his friends love it so he likes to share it with them.


Anyway, here's the recipe. I used a bit of almond flour in it because I wanted to add nuts, but that child says he's allergic to nuts (in the same way that he's allergic to broccoli and homework...)
But you can substitute it with normal flour.

Banana Bread 
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create 

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Grease and flour a loaf pan


180g sugar
120g butter
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas, well mashed
60ml sour cream
160g cake flour
100g brown flour
40g almond flour **
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream together the butter and sugar.
Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well, and scrape down the side of the bowl in between additions.
Beat in the mashed bananas, sour cream and vanilla.
Sift in the flours, salt and raising agents.
Mix well.
Pour into the prepared pan, and bake for approx. 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean.

** replace with normal flour if desired. 

Add chopped up pecan nuts, some blueberries, or even chic chips for a few delicious variations. 

Happy baking!


PS. Thank you to everyone who has sent messages of condolences - your words and wishes have truly warmed my heart. xxx  

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Tea and Sympathy: Scone Recipe

As some of you may know, the last few months have seen my mother slipping away from us as she  slowly lost her battle to cancer. I always thought that at least with cancer, you have time to say your good-byes. But as it turned out, we didn't. The illness abruptly claimed her consciousness months before it claimed her life last Sunday.

My sister and I spent most of that day sitting at my mother's bedside;  just taking a break to feed children and get some fresh air at lunchtime.
And I baked. I made scones. I haven't made them in a while, because I have no patience for rubbing in the butter.
But I was in a quiet space while I was doing it last Sunday, reflecting on how it had been my mother who had taught me how to make scones.
I hadn't done much baking with her, and when we did it was only in my early childhood.
I distinctly remember the sound of her wedding ring tapping against the side of a sieve as we made a chocolate cake together. Then the wedding ring was removed, and life got caught up in the struggles of single parenting. There wasn't the space to bake cakes anymore.

 But we were fortunate in that for the past few years, my mother lived on our property, and became my children's beloved "Dodo". Not pronouced like the ill-fated bird, but rather like gogo (the o makes an aw sound), the Zulu word for grandmother that my son couldn't pronouce. So he called her Dodo, and it stuck.

She was such an energetic, fun-loving grandmother.
Most of the photos we have of her are with the kids - usually doing crazy things.
And she baked scones with them too.
So, I'm going to choose to remember those times, and celebrate her life, rather than her passing.

Sunday Scones
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

Pre-heat the oven to 200'C
Grease a baking tray and dust with flour

320g flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tbs caster sugar
pinch salt
60g butter, cut into small cubes
200ml milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

+ extra flour for dusting

Sift together the dry ingredients.
Gently rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the beaten egg and most of the milk. Mix to form a soft dough. Add more milk if necessary.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, dust the top with flour.
Roll out until approx. 4cm thick.
Cut into rounds.
Place on a baking tray and bake at 200'C for 10-12 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden brown.

Simple comforts.

We'll miss you Dodo.