Thursday, 29 June 2017

Cinnamon & Pecan Buns

I remember buying blocks of fresh yeast from the supermarket when I was a child. 
 They came as foil wrapped cubes, and were the only way you bought yeast back then. 
(Those were the days when you also left tokens outside your front door for the milkman - he'd swop them for bottles of fresh milk or orange juice. It sounds like something from another age, but seriously, I'm not that old! I also remember roller skating around the neighborhood back then - so, see... they'd invented the wheel already!)

Now, though, I buy sachets of instant yeast, let them expire in my pantry...then buy some more. 
And when I eventually do get around to making a yeast dough, I'm hooked again and remember why I love it so much! 
It's not just the delicious smell and taste; there's nothing quite like the slow process of proofing a yeast recipe to distance you from the too-fast tempo of the 21st century.  

So, this is one to make if you have a little time and patience.
(If you want one right now, you're going to have to make a trip to the local Cinnabon!)

Cinnamon and Pecan Buns
Recipe adapted from

640g flour (all purpose or cake flour)
1 packet / 10g instant dry yeast (check the expiry date!)
120g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
80g butter softened
250ml warm milk (not too hot - that will kill the yeast)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl of a mixer. Attach a dough hook.
Add the butter, milk and eggs.
Use the dough hook to mix until a soft dough is formed.
Place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover with cling wrap or a damp towel and leave in a warm spot* to rise for an hour (It should double in size.)
*Use your oven: warm it to 50'C, then switch off the heat.

In the meantime make the filling:
80g butter, softened
200g brown sugar
3 tbs ground cinnamon
120g finely chopped pecan nuts

Once the dough has doubled in size, roll it out into a large rectangle (mine covered a 50x40cm silicone mat); spread the butter (from the filling list) over the surface of the dough.
 Sprinkle the cinnamon, sugar and pecans evenly over the surface.
Working from a long edge, roll the dough up into a long sausage, then slice along the length into rounds.
Place them, spiral sides up, in a large greased baking pan.

Loosely cover with cling-wrap, and allow to double in size again in a warm spot for about 30minutes. 
During this time, preheat your oven to 180'C. 

Once the buns have risen again, bake for 15-20 minutes or until a light golden brown. 

Serve warm or cold. 

The biggest challenge is to resist having a second ... or third...


....and then there were none!

Happy baking!


Trolls Toppers: Poppy and Branch

When I look at these two together I have to smile - not just because Trolls is such a cute movie, (the bits I've seen at least!) but because the pair of them remind me of my son and daughter ... chalk and cheese, I tell you. Poppy and Branch. 

Just look at her there: hand on hip, bright and cheery, irritating the berries off of her brother him!

I can be a bit of the introverted analytical type myself, at times. So I can identify with that humph!

Thank goodness for the Poppy's in our lives, though, right?  As maddening as all that joy and  sweetness can be (and so much singing!), they certainly make the world a brighter place (and even manage to cajole us Branch's out of our grumps at times!)

See a great Poppy tutorial here - courtesy of Crumb Avenue .

Happy decorating!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Mermaid & Ocean Creatures Cookies

There's merit in being prepared, but it also has its downside, as I've discovered.

This is what happens when you prepare a little too far in advance, and land up making way more than needed for a class because you bake the cookies before you confirm final numbers!

You just have to decorate them yourself ....
 (these are probably  just a third of the extras 😩) 

... and  then sell them at bargain basement prices at school cake sale!

So, if you're planning a mermaid themed birthday party anytime soon, pop over to my kids' school on Thursday morning and pick up a few dozen of these ocean creature cookies at half the price they'd normally be sold for! 

And in case you can't get there, and want to reproduce them yourself:
SweetSugarBelle has a great tutorial on making mermaid tails and Sweetopia has a lovely post on making Seaside cookies (including a jellyfish.)

As for the rest, well... next time come join us for the class 😉

Happy decorating!


Saturday, 17 June 2017

Chocolate Pancakes with Rum Poached Mandarins

We're not big celebrators of the minor holidays in this household. (My husband comes from a family that aren't big celebrators of any holidays, so I've had to re-educate him a little!)
When it comes to Mothers Day and Fathers Day, we're happy with just the cards and notes the kids bring home from school for us and a day spent together as a family.
But, I do like to bake (you may have noticed), so I'll take the excuse of a Fathers Day and try something new...

Here's my breakfast suggestion for Dad this year:
Chocolate pancakes with rum poached mandarins.

Rum Poached Mandarins
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

6 mandarin oranges
30ml water
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs rum
1 cinnamon quill

Peel, then slice the mandarin oranges into rounds.
Place in a saucepan with the other ingredients and gently simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove  the orange segments, and continue simmering the liquid until it becomes a light syrup.

Chocolate Pancakes
Recipe from Food & Home Magazine

(Halve these quantities for a smaller batch of pancakes)

Sift together:
240g cake flour
30g cocoa powder
100g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Whisk together: 
500ml buttermilk
1 tbs white grape vinegar
2 large eggs
80g melted butter
2tsp vanilla extract

Combine the  wet and dry ingredients and mix well.

Heat a lightly oiled non-stick pan on medium/high heat.
Pour or spoon in the batter (approx 1/4 cup per pancake).
Tilt the pan in a circular motion to evenly spread the batter.
Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.

Serve warm with poached mandarins and a spoonful of double thick yoghurt.
Drizzle the syrup from the poached oranges over the yoghurt.

Or change it up and try these chocolate pancakes with strawberries and vanilla ice-cream as a great desert option.



Monday, 12 June 2017

Emoji Cookies


Emoji cookies are not as easy as they look!

I had this idea that they'd be simple. And quick.
But began to realise I was wrong when I went to make the colours - just yellow and black, right?
Wrong! ... I needed white. And red. And blue. Oh, and pink too!
I stopped there, although I was sorely tempted by then to add brown for a 💩... which kind of summed up what I was thinking at that stage!

Then, of course, there's the fact that emojis are perfectly, computer-generatedly symmetrical.
And we all know the problems I have with symmetry.

So anyway...
Don't look too closely!

I started with the mouths, wanting them to be a little recessed in the yellow (only if they were the great big grins, little smiles went on top.) Let those dry; then flooded with yellow, and followed with the other features.

The trickiest things were the mouths.
And eyes.
It was all tricky - getting the spacing/ positioning right. And symmetry!

Next time I'll print out a template. But I was determined to keep it quick and simple, dammit!

It might have been simpler with a template...

Is there an emoji for tearing your hair out?!

Happy decorating 😁


Friday, 9 June 2017

Lemon & Poppy Seed Cut-Out Cookies

I can't count the number of times I've made this roll-out cookie dough (basic butter cookies) since I posted the recipe in 2013. Or how many thousands of cookies I've made with it for our classes.
There's nothing about it that I'd change. Add yes, change no.

It's the basis for this chocolate cookiethis spiced one, and a bunch of other subtle variations (whose creation depends on my mood and the theme we're decorating - like the spotty choc-chip cookies we had for our pet-themed Valentines class this year).

And now... here's a lemon and poppy seed version:

Lemon & Poppyseed Cut-Out Cookies**
Recipe by Tea, Cake & Create

250g butter, at room temp. 
300g caster sugar 
2 XL eggs 
620g cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract 
2 tbs poppy seeds 
zest of 1 medium lemon (use 2 if you want it extra zesty) 

Cream together the butter and sugar
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl between additions. 
Add the vanilla extract, lemon zest and poppy seeds.  
Sift in the flour and salt. Mix until just clumping, (if the dough seems too crumbly add a dash of milk) then form into a ball by hand. Place in cling-wrap, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. 

Roll-out and cut out cookies on a surface dusted with cornflour. (See here for some tips).

Bake at 180'C for 8-10 minutes until the edges are just starting to turn golden. 

(**What's in the name: Cut-out or roll-out cookie dough is ideal for - you guessed it! - rolling out and cutting out cookie shapes for decorating with royal icing. The cookies hold their shape well and bake flat. They may not be as melt-in-your-mouth as shortbread cookies, but they're an ideal canvas for decorating. And they're great tasting, too!)

If you like the combination of lemon and poppy seed, here's a cupcake recipe

And here's a poppy seed kugelhopf:

Happy baking!