Cook this: popovers (or, Mother’s Day treat breakfast)

Here in Australia, this weekend we’ll be celebrating Mother’s Day. And being a mum to two little fur babies who aren’t capable of making me breakfast in bed, I’ll be making my own.

I saw this recipe aaaaages ago on Namiko’s blog, JUST ONE COOKBOOK, and saved it with every intention of making it ASAP. And then, of course, I promptly forgot about it. Because, life. I actually haven’t been baking much lately, but I’d to try and get back into it a little, and Nami’s recipe looked like the perfect place to start. I adapted it to make it a sweet bread rather than a savoury, because treat yoself.

Realllly easy, super delicious, and a bit more special than regular bread, so it feels like a proper treat. They come out with a nice crust, but are super light inside. Namiko recommends slathering them in strawberry butter, but I have a jar of apricot jam that my auntie made for me, and that went just perfectly with my popovers! Here’s my adapted version…

Ingredients (makes 8):
• 1¾ cups milk
• 2 cups plain flour
• pinch of salt
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 1 tbsp caster sugar
• 3 large eggs, at room temperature

 

Method:
1. Pour the milk into a small saucepan and warm over very low heat – more than lukewarm, but not so hot it burns your finger when you test it.

2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl, and set aside.

3. Beat the eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed for a few minutes, until paler and frothy/foamy.

4. Then turn the speed to low and slowly add the warm milk as you continue to mix.

5. Next, add the flour mixture, a spoonful at a time, and beat on medium speed for another few minutes, until well combined. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl down if the flour starts the build up.

6. Now the easy part – set the batter aside to rest at room temperature for an hour.

7. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 230°C and place 8 extra large silicon cupcake cases on an oven tray. You can purchase popover pans online or use large muffin trays, but this mixture is sticky and the silicon cases are WAYYY easier to clean up!

8. Fill the cases almost to the top, and bake at 230°C for 15 minutes. Then, turn the temperature down to 190°C and bake for a further 30 minutes. Pop them out of the cases, smother them in butter or jam or cream or whatever else you’re feeling, and enjoy!

Cook this: Cinnamon-free hot cross buns

Happy Easter! I’m a chocoholic, so I’ll be continuing to gorge myself with chocolate this weekend. But the other part of Easter is hot cross buns, which I’ve never been able to partake in, because I hate cinnamon.

It makes me ill – the smell of it literally makes me gag. But I love bready things, and I hate that I don’t have an excuse to eat delicious little buns smothered in butter for breakfast for a week at this time of the year. So I thought I’d try making my own.

Turns out they’re actually pretty easy to make, the removal of cinnamon does nothing to harm the structural integrity, and because they’re not technically hot cross buns, these delicious sweet little raisin rolls can be made sans cross and eaten all year round now! This simple recipe was adapted from Taste.com.au:

Ingredients (makes 12 large or 16 medium buns)
– 4 cups plain flour
cup caster sugar
– pinch of salt
– 2 x 7g dried yeast sachets
– 1½ heaped cups raisins (or any other dried fruit, like cranberries or apricots)
– 50g butter
– 1¼ cups of milk
– 2 eggs, beaten

Method:
1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and dried fruit – set aside.

2. Set a small saucepan over low heat and melt the butter in it. Then add the milk and heat it for a minute – pour the mixture into the large bowl, along with the eggs, and stir together with the blade of a butter knife.

3.Use your hands to bring the dough together, and turn it out onto a floured board to knead for a few minutes. Alternatively, you can use a kitchen mixer with a bread hook to do this.

4. Place the dough into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and sit it in a warm room for an hour and a half to “grow.”

5. Line an oven tray with baking paper, and bring the dough back to the kitchen. Knead in for a minute, to shrink it back down, and divide the dough into 12 – 16 equal pieces. Roll them into balls and place them on the tray, leaving a little space in between – cover them back up with plastic and put them back in the warm room to rise again for another half an hour.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, and if you want crosses on top, now’s the time to add them. Just mix a half cup of plain flour with a few tablespoons of water to make a thick paste, and either pipe the goop onto the buns in a cross, or be lazy like me and spread it over carefully with a teaspoon.

7. Then all you need to do is bake them for 25 minutes, let them cool, smother then in butter or jam, and enjoy! Keep them for a few days in an airtight container, or freeze them like you would with normal bread to enjoy later.

 

Cook this: matcha magic cake

After my trip to Japan gave me a much deeper appreciation for matcha, I started following Matchaeologist’s Instagram account. Since then, I’ve made a few of their recipes, like these mini matcha balls and these white chocolate matcha muffins.

A recipe for a pretty easy but very delicious-looking matcha cake popped up, and I knew I had to try it. I was intrigued by the amount of egg and milk in it, compared to the very low amount of butter. The video of it being cut up also made it look like it had a really interesting/different texture to a standard cake…

It was super quick and easy to throw together, and required no special ingredients that I didn’t already have. It also came out looking a little differently to the Instagram video, with an almost glutinous/gelatinous layer on the bottom, and an incredibly light and fluffy cake layer on top. I suspect that may have had something to do with the beaten egg whites folded in, the low amount of flour, the melted butter, maybe a combination of it all… whatever it was, I loved it! The only real difference I made to the recipe posted on Instagram was to add a little more flour – the amount they called for really didn’t seem to be anywhere near enough compared to the amount of milk, and I’m pretty happy with the results. Anyway, here’s how I put mine together; if you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it turned out for you!

Ingredients:
– 2 eggs, separated
– ⅓ cup caster sugar
– ½ tsp vanilla extract
– ¼ cup melted butter
– ⅔ cup plain flour
– 1 tsp matcha
– 1 cup milk, lukewarm

 

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC and line a square cake tin with baking paper.

2. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until peaks just form (be careful not to over beat), and set aside.

3. In a larger mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until pale. Then, add in the vanilla and butter, and beat again until completely combined.

4. Sift in the flour and matcha, and stir until just combined.

5. Gradually pour in the milk, stirring to combine.

6. Lastly, use a spatula to fold in the egg white, bit by bit. It’ll be a wet batter, so don’t freak out – it will cook into cake form in the oven!

7. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until set and golden on top. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

8. This cake goes particularly well dusted with icing sugar – and a pot of green tea 🙂

Cook this: “check every bulb” Christmas cupcakes

We’ve all got Christmas traditions. Some are pretty normal, like our tradition of baking scones on Christmas morning before taking Marley to the park for a run around. Some are not so normal, like watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation over and over and over again (not my tradition, originally, but husband has converted me). I didn’t like the movie much at first. But year after year, it’s been screened at our house on the 1st of December, and then almost every night thereafter until Christmas. Now I actually love the stupid movie. I find myself reciting the lines along with cousin Eddie and Clark. Damnit.

Anyway, we had our first family Christmas even for the season on a few weekends ago, and I took up the dessert task. I found inspiration in the most unlikely of places – the scene where Clark needs Rusty’s help to unknot some Christmas lights. Pinterest gave me a good idea on how to put them together. And I added my own touch by giving a few cupcakes “knotted” lights. It made me laugh. Simple things, I know…

Anyway, they’re pretty easy to put together! For the cupcakes, use your favourite recipe; I went with a thick chocolate brownie mudcake concoction. Then for the frosting:

Ingredients:
– 120g white chocolate
– 4 tbsp milk
– 50g butter
– 3 cups icing sugar
– m&ms and black writing icing to decorate

Method:
1. Combine the chocolate, milk and butter in a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water, and stir witha wooden spoon until combined.

2. Remove fromthe heat amd cool for a few minutes, then sift in the icing sugar a cup at a time, beating with an electric mixer as you go, until you have a thick, smooth frosting.

3. Pipe or simply spread the frosting onto the cupcakes in a cone shape, and use a black writing icing pen/tube to swirl circles up each frosting cone. Pop m&ms in at intervals as the bulbs.

And that’s it! Super easy and very do-able 🙂 Nothing like a Pinterest win to get you into the Christmas spirit…

Cook this: Olive bread

Husband never used to like olives. Until he tried them again a while ago. And he discovered he actually did like them, a lot. He noticed a handsome looking olive loaf last weekend at a bakery we stopped for tea and coffee at, and requested I make a loaf; far be it for me to say no, so I threw together a quick easy loaf, and it turned out pretty darn good. Pretty easy to make, as well…

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf):
– 500g plain flour
– ½ tbsp salt
– ½ tbsp dried yeast
– 1 heaped tbsp dried rosemary
– 475ml warm water
– 1 cup pitted olives of choice – I used kalamata

 

Method:
1. Combine the flour, salt, yeast and rosemary in a large mixing bowl, then stir in the warm water. Once combined, mix in the olives.

2. Cover the mixing bowl in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. When you’re ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.

4. Preheat the oven to 220ºC, grease a loaf tin and place the dough into it (alternatively, line an oven tray with baking paper and shape the dough into a free form loaf). Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, or until baked through; the easiest way to test it while it’s still in the tin is to tap the bread – if it has a hollow sound, it should be baked through.


I’d highly recommend serving it fresh out of the oven, topped with prosciutto and fior di latte cheese. Amazing!

Cook this: Orange, rosemary & olive oil cake

As a general rule, I’m not a fan of social media. I got off Facebook… wow, it was so long ago now I can’t even remember when. I don’t get the point of Twitter. I really don’t get Snapchat. I don’t have time for that crap in my life. But Instagram, I actually really love. I find it a happy, safe(r) sharing space. It’s where I go for travel inspiration and food inspiration and just generally finding amazing people who are living their dreams, which give me that little extra push to live mine.

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One of the accounts I’ve started following relatively recently is @dear_franny, which most people who know me would find kinda weird. Rachel posts mostly photos of her adorable little girl, and I’m not really an “awww look how cute the baby is” kinda gal. But she also bakes. And her baking shots always look amazing. One of her latest really caught my eye – a citrus rosemary olive oil cake. I’m a fan of olive oil in a cake for something a bit different, and I love the combination of citrus and rosemary, so I thought I’d take a peek. Rachel uses the rosemary just in the frosting, but I wanted a plain, simple cake sans-frosting, so I made it a bit more “me.” Here’s my version…

Ingredients:
– ¾ cup caster sugar
– finely grated zest of 1 medium orange
– 1 cup plain flour
– pinch of salt
– ½ tsp baking soda
– 1 tbsp dried rosemary
– ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
– ½ cup milk, at room temperature
– 2 medium eggs, at room temperature
– juice of half a medium orange

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Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC and grease a medium sized round cake tin.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and orange zest, rubbing them together with your fingers, which releases more of the oils from the zest (great tip, Rachel, thanks!).

3. Once combined, add the flour, salt, baking soda and rosemary, and mix to combine. Set aside.

4. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, eggs and orange juice until completely combined.

5. Pour the wet mixture into the dry, bit by bit, folding it in with a spatula as you go. Once completely combined, pour the batter into a cake tin and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until it passes the skewer test.

6. Cool in the tin until cool enough to handle, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. You can ice it, if you want – I like just a bit of icing sugar dusted over the top. Keep in an air-tight container up to 4 days.

Cook this: mini matcha balls

One of my favourite Instagram feeds belongs to Matchaeologist; purveyors of high quality matcha, and sharers of the best matcha recipes online. The last recipe I tried from their feed was this batch of oddly coloured but VERY delicious matcha white chocolate muffins. Yesterday morning,  another one of their recipes caught my eye. With a little tweaking, I give you these ridiculously simple to make and full of goodness matcha balls.

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Not only do they require very few ingredients, they can very easily be made gluten free. They’re lactose and fructose free,  too. They take all of 3 minutes to put together before a quick bake in the oven. They come out like delicious little biscuit balls on the outside, with a soft, moist centre. Stop reading,  start baking.

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Ingredients:
– 80g plain flour
– 5g matcha
– 25g caster sugar
– 20g almond meal
– 2 tsp vegetable oil
– 4 tbsp water

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper.

2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, then stir in the oil and water.

3. Roll into small balls and place on the oven tray. Bake for 18 minutes, then transfer to a metal rack to cool.

4. Once cooled to room temperature,  dust with icing sugar and serve.