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Friday Food: Blondie

BlondieIt was Nigella Week on Masterchef, but I was a tad under-whelmed by her Masterclass baking. It was a pavlova with lemon curd, cream and toasted almonds. That's pretty much an everyday dessert in Australia: pavlova and cream with some fruit. I make a pretty mean lemon curd, and I can whip up a pavlova in no time at all. I do love making Nigella's Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova, and it is always a hit at dessert time. Instead, I was inspired this week by the Yellow Team's Blondie. It has the bonus attributes of having no dark or milk chocolate, so I can eat it, and it is gluten free as well.

In the Fete episode all the teams had to make a fresh jam, but I just opened a bottle of my mum's jam and used that instead. I don't have any fresh raspberries as they are currently $56 per kilo and I refuse to buy frozen raspberries from overseas. I think it works well without the extra berries.

This is a very easy melt and mix recipe and, though there is a little cooling time, once it is all combined it bakes in 40 minutes. I think it is best served cold, as the white chocolate is a little cloying when it is warm, but each to her own!! The recipe says it serves 12 as a dessert, but I think as a slice it would make 24 pieces.

 

Blondie      serves 12/24

  • 200g white chocolate, chopped. I used buttons.
  • 200g butter, chopped
  • 250g brown sugar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 200g almond meal, I used cashew meal
  • 50g chopped pecans
  • raspberry jam and cream to serve

 

Grease and line a 20 x 30cm slice tin. Preheat the oven to 160*C.

Melting

Put the chocolate and butter into a saucepan over a low heat and slowly melt together. As usual, I take it off the heat while there is still some melting to go, and then stir till it is smooth.

Add sugar and cool

Mix in the brown sugar and vanilla extract and allow to cool slightly.

Eggs and nuts

Now whisk in the eggs, and fold in the almond meal and pecans until it is all thoroughly combined.

Bake and cool

Spoon into the tray and smooth out evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes. I turned the tray half way through and it did take the entire 40 minutes. The Blondie will be golden brown and a little darker at the edges, which will have come away from the side of the tin. Cool on a rack until cold.

Blondie jam and cream

Slice and serve with jam and whipped cream as a dessert. I think it would also be nice dusted with a little icing sugar as a treat. The Blondie should keep for about a week in an airtight container.

 


Rolling In The Sleep

I have been sleeping. I have been sleeping for five days in a row. We went out for walks, and supplies, but other than that is has been all sleeping. The weather has been cold, we just had the coldest May day on record, so it has been all hotwater bottles and extra quilts on the bed. Today is the first day I feel un-tired. We still had a nap this afternoon, but I went out to do some shopping and left Hedy Lamarr out of her crate to run free in the house and back yard with Lorelai Gilmore. I did shut the hidden dining room door and the hall door, but when I came home Gilly was waiting at the gate and Hedy came from inside when I called- she was probably asleep in her crate!!

Consequently, not much else has been happening. Hedy goes for a walk off her lead. She comes when she is called and runs like the wind. So fast that she is a blur. Gilly is poking out her tongue. It is the season for rolling in something smelly and eating it as well.

Hedy speedy Gilly slow

Hedy has met Rafa the Border Collie and Sandy the Failed Guide Dog. They have both been champions. They have put up with a wriggly, licky puppy with hardly any growls at all. And if there is a little growl, Gilly appears from nowhere and puts herself between them and Hedy. What a good job she does.

Hedy with Sandy and Rafa... and Gilly

And all The Labradors...

Wiggly Labradors

Hedy is so cute and she is such a good girl. Her worst fault is stealing balls of wool, and that is because I haven't put them away. She has grown out of her cute dark green baby collar and has a new one. I felt guilty, so I went back and now Gilly has a matching collar. Gilly woke up on the couch next to Hedy Lamarr the other day and she wagged and wagged her tail, and licked Hedy's paws and belly. I think Hedy is settling in well. She doesn't bite me all the time either, which is nice!!

Hedy points

I have almost finished MrsDrWho's birthday socks. I have made both the afterthought heels and knitted past where I think I should start the toes. Which is annoying, but sensible because it is a new style of sock and I need to ask her to try them on. The stripes match so well, I am so chuffed.

Sl&r socks almost done

I bought myself a present today: two Pyrex bowls in a gorgeous aqua colour. They were on sale for half price so I treated myself. The container with the lid in already filled with some salmon pasta sauce, which I ate from the cute bowl for my tea.

Pyrex1

Pyrex

I drove MrsDrWho's automatic car with no problems at all. I feel slightly silly that I was so worried. Now I feel confident that I could drive any car at all. She had a lovely trip away and if I need to drive the car to the airport again I will definitely be available.

Well, our house has been quite boring. I watched the end of River, a TV show on The Netflix and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am making my way through The Night Manager now.

Tomorrow I plan to start knitting a corgi for The GardyGardeners. They have always had corgis and as they leave for The Mainland soon, a corgi will be a nice keepsake for them.

Corgi


Friday Food: Jelly Cake Doughnuts

A jelly doughnutI saw these doughnuts in a magazine in the supermarket queue. When I came home I downloaded the Woman's Day magazine using the Zinio for Libraries app and voila!! There's also a Wagon Wheel tart and I might make that too. On the whole, four out of five people gave these the thumbs up: I was the dissenter. I like jelly lamingtons because the jelly has soaked into the cake and it is jelly-y and moist. The jelly didn't soak into the doughnuts enough for my liking, it seemed to set in clumps on the outside. The other four people loved them and they do look so pretty.

If I make these again, and I shall, I will poke the doughnuts all over with a skewer, and let them sit in the jelly on the bench, rather than in the fridge. I think I would use two packets of jelly as well, for optimum jellying. I used raspberry jelly, but you can use any flavour you like.

They don't keep very long, and even in an airtight container I think they need to be used the next day. I was able to buy both cinnamon and sugar doughnuts and I liked the sugar ones best. The cinnamon seemed to interfere with the jelly flavour.

NB  Rather sensibly, and Australian tablespoon is 20ml, or 4 teaspoons.

 

Jelly Cake Doughnuts    makes 12

  • 1 packet of jelly crystals  (85g)
  • 12 fresh doughnuts, cinnamon or sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 2 tbspn icing sugar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract, I used vanilla bean paste

 

Make up the jelly, stirring in the cup of boiling water until the crystals are completely dissolved. Add the cup of cold water, pour into a shallow tray and refrigerate for 2 hours. It will be half set.

Jelly the doughnuts

Place the doughnuts into the jelly, turning them a few times. Place back in the fridge to chill for a further hour, turning two or three times more.

After chilling

Pour the coconut into a tray. Shake any excess jelly from the doughnuts and then roll them gently in the coconut. Don't forget the sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes so the coconut sticks to the jelly properly.

Lamingtonify

Whip the cream, icing sugar and vanilla to stiff peaks. Spoon the cream into a piping bag with a large star tip, or just a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off.

Whip cream

Use a serrated knife to cut the doughnuts in half and pipe the cream in a swirly pattern.

Piping the cream

Pop the tops back on and they are ready to be eaten. And they look so cute!!

Jelly doughnuts


Happy Walk, Keep Walking Happy Walk.

Most recent first: Hedy Lamarr has been for her first walk with Lorelai Gilmore. It all went spectacularly well. Rafa's dad and mum pointed out that Hedy is much more obedient than Gilly, who is having a little regression while she gets used to Hedy. I am just glad Hedy came back when she was called. I cheated and left her lead attached as a bit of an impediment, so I might just have a chance of catching her if she didn't come back.

Into the wide green yonder

I am a tad puffed out, breathing heavily, it was Gilly and my second walk for the day. Every time we play the video, Hedy comes from wherever she is when she hears me call her name. She is so cute!!!

Hedy walks very well on her lead, though she occasionally goes the wrong way!!!

Hedy walking with Gilly

We all enjoyed our walk and look forward to more happy times at the dam together.

Gilly taking Hedy for her first walk

It  is also time to start leaving Hedy out of the crate when we go out. I popped up to the deli at the corner and when I came home The Labradors met me at the gate, safe and sound.

Gilly and Hedy good girls

Gilly enjoyed her last walk without Hedy yesterday. She loves the cool weather and the rain, and we have had plenty of rain and an electrical storm. If only we could have the rain spread out, rather than in one fell swoop. Lorelai Gilmore can't wait for Rafa to be let out of the car so they can run very fast together.

Gilly is ready to meet Rafa

Gilly actually meets Rafa

I have, no surprise, sewed some more grocery bags: bags 81-83 in fact. The first for a cat loving friend, and the next two for Mrs and then Mr Madcage. The duckies are a late Easter present!!!

Bags may 2016

I found the best sock wool ever for MrsDrWho: Rainbow Sparkles from Opal. Beautiful rainbow merges and glittery silver sparkles that are soft and don't feel scratchy at all.

Rainbow sparkle sock wool

To retain the gorgeous stripes I decided to tackle an afterthought heel. There are so many variations, but somewhere I read a tip that you should knit the heel and then measure on the person to see how long the foot should be. Fantastic idea. I knitted half the stitches for the heel on waste wool, and then slipped them back on the left-hand needled and knitted them again with the sparkly sock wool. Then it was just a case of pulling out the waste wool and picking up the top and bottom stitches. I decided to make the swirl heel from the Crystal socklet at Knitty.com. Here are the Sunshine Lollipop and Rainbow socks thus far.

Sunshine lollipop rainbow sock and heel

Mr Madcage also has a new birthday Forest beanie, knitted in Loyal 10ply with a twisty cable pattern. I do like the Loyal 10ply. It is soft and light and very warm and knits up beautifully. I did have a better photo, but it turned out I actually took a video and I don't know how to make a photo from a video.

Forest beanie 2016

For the very first time I decided to bake something Star Wars for May The Fourth Be With You. I watched a very helpful video and then made some Darth Vader black fondant helmets.

Darth Vader May The Fourth

I piped swirly red and chocolate two tone buttercream onto some fudgy chocolate cupcakes and topped each with a Darth Vader helmet. I don't think they are too bad at all, and MrsDrwho said the cakes were very yummy.

May the Fourth Darths

This week I am having a rest as far as possible. Last week I had a migraine, and then on Monday we had the NBN debacle- that's the National Broadband Network, where our house will be getting Fibre To The Home.  I met The NBN man a few weeks ago when he came to confirm that we will have the cable from the pole outside to the roof, as our house is built on a giant rock and there is no way to dig a trench. Easy, I thought. Ha!

During my five or six phone calls and Live Chats I was assured that the technician who was to come on Monday would do the outside and inside installations. I talked to my friends who have The NBN said they said this is not the way things are done, but I checked and checked again. On Monday the technician turned up and he was just the Inside Person. The Outside People had not done their job yet. The Inside had not talked to The Outside and so nothing could go ahead. Well, after all this, I ended up telling the ISP not to even talk to me until they had it all sorted out. And I shan't believe them even then, since I have had two separate communications, stating two different dates and times since then.

This week I am also going to drive an automatic car. I have only ever driven a manual car, but our car is too small to take two people and their suit cases to the airport. I am going for a drive tonight, just so I can get a feel for the car and learn it's super modern things like reversing camera and other things of which I know nothing!! Hedy is already having her post-lunch nap in her crate, Gilly is asleep on the  couch and I think a nap is definitely called for after all the tooing and froing.


Friday Food: Nutella Cupcakes

A nutella cupcakeWednesday was Sewing night and I wanted something delicious to bake for my friends. Nothing appropriate caught my eye in any of this month's magazines and so I turned to Cupcake Jemma and her Nutella Cupcakes. They were perfect: perfect and easy to make. The recipe makes 12 small cupcakes, rather than large muffins and I did fill the paper cases with a spoon and not an ice-cream scoop. Still, I always think a cupcake is a cupcake, regardless of the size.

I didn't have any hazelnuts so I used some hazelnut meal I already had. Otherwise, I followed the recipe faithfully. I couldn't find the largest diameter piping tip and so I used a smaller one, which didn't give the nicest plumpest swirls. Hey ho, they tasted fine and if you don't have a piping bag and tips use a ziplock bag. That is what I always did until MrsDrWho bought me a piping present!!

NB Rather sensibly, an Australian tablespoon is 20ml, or 4 teaspoons.

 

Nutella Cupcakes      makes 12

  • 50g hazelnuts, roasted, skinned, pulverised (or hazelnut meal)
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 25g cocoa (Dutch processed is very cocoa-y)
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1/4 tspn bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 125g softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 tbspn milk
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract

For the buttercream

  • 100g softened butter
  • 150g Nutella
  • 225g icing sugar sifted
  • 2-3 tbspn milk

Preheat the oven to 170*C and line a muffin try with cupcake papers.

Make the cupcakes

Put the ingredients for the cupcake batter, bar the milk and vanilla, into the bowl and then beat with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Then add as much milk and vanilla extract as needed to make the batter smooth and beat again for another minute. And honestly I don't think it a terrible catastrophe if you put everything in at once and beat for 90 seconds. I always give the bowl a few stirs with a spoon, just to make sure there is nothing sticking to the bottom of the bowl.

Fill and bake

Spoon into the 12 cupcake paper cases and then bake for 20-22 minutes. The cakes will slightly come away from the edges, spring back when lightly pressed in the centre and if you poke a toothpick into the centre it will come out clean. My cupcakes needed the full 22 minutes and I turned the tray half way through.

Allow the cakes to cool for a few minutes and then place on a rack. Allow them to become completely cooled before you even think of icing them!!

Buttercream starts

To make the buttercream, whip the butter and Nutella on a high speed for 4-5 minutes. It should be a pale colour and very light and silky.

Beat,add icing sugar

Add half the icing sugar and beat well, and then add the rest of the icing sugar. My buttercream did not combine very well and so I needed to add half the milk and then a little more again until it came together nicely.

Buttercream complete

I followed Jemma's instructions and put some Nutella 'stripes' down the inside of the piping bag before I filled it with the Nutella buttercream. It works in the same way as striped toothpaste, and whether you pipe swirls, or splodges, you have lovely two-tone frosting.

And frosting

I sprinkled some nuts on top and they were finished.

Cupcakes all in rows

The cupcakes are quite moist and there is an excellent cake-to-icing ratio happening.

Inside cupcake

The Nutella Cupcakes would keep for a few days, un-iced, in an airtight container, but once the buttercream is piped on top I think they should be eaten sooner rather than later.

Nutella cupcakes


Friday Food: Rainbow Doughnut Pinatas

Hot pinata This week I have baked using the doughnut trays that came with this month's Better Homes & Gardens magazine. I made the Rainbow Cake with Surprise Filling, which is such a bland name for such colourful (and I mean colourful) cakes. I thought about people without a doughnut tray, and I think you could just use an ordinary muffin or cupcake tray and then cut the centre out to make doughnut shapes. Of course the ring-shaped cakes could be cut from a thin sponge, but the fact that there are no cut edges to ice means there are no crumbs to contend with.

I used the Wilton gel colours I bought on sale at The Spotlight. And let us all pause for a moment and realise that darker colours may, when baked, turn out even darker. Oh well, it is a rainbow cake!!! Ordinarily I would have just used the colours from the supermarket. I also think these would be nice as ombre cakes. Ombre cakes are the Bee's Knees, along with Rainbow cakes.

I weighed my batter and it was a little over 360g, so I spooned 60g into the bowls for each colour- it was about two heaped 20ml tablespoons. I will not deny that these are fiddly to make, and in a way it would be better to be making a larger batch of 12 pinata cakes. You could just use a piping, or ziplock, bag to fill a tray with 6 of the same colour. 

I would recommend making maybe half as much again of the buttercream, so 180 g of butter and 2 1/4 cups of icing sugar mixture. I also added a teaspoon or two of milk as I felt the buttercream was too thick. I read today that you have to trust your gut when you bake, and not just blindly follow the recipe!!!

Also, for an unknown reason, some of my photos are rubbish today. This is not unusual, just annoying!!

 

 

Rainbow Doughnut Pinatas     makes 4

  • cooking oil spray to grease, or wipe with some baking paper
  • 115g (3/4 cup) plain flour
  • 75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 60g (1/4 cup) melted butter
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) milk
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • food colouring: yellow, orange, red, green, blue, purple
  • M&M, mini or ordinary, or Smarties or whatever you like
  • 100s and 1000s to decorate

For the buttercream

  • 125g (1/2 cup) butter, softened   (I recommend 180g)
  • 1 3/4 cups icing sugar mixture    (I recommend 2 1/4 cups)

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C and grease the doughnut tins. I don't have oil spray, so poured a little vegetable oil into the tin and then used some kitchen towel/baking paper to grease each hole.

Dry and wet

Put the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk to combine. Mix the wet ingredients together.

Whisk

Pour the wet ingredients into a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Whisk gently until the cake batter comes together. Divide the batter evenly between 6 small bowls and mix in the colours you like, so that no pale streaks remain.

Yellow orange red

Green blue purple

Spoon the batter carefully into the doughnut tin, 2 of each of the 6 colours. I started with the lightest colour, and to save spoon washing, I then just went to the next colour and mixed the batter from the spoon into the bowl. So, from green to blue eg.

Not washing the spoon

Bake for 12 minutes.

Fill tin

I turned the trays at 6 minutes.

Bake, half baked

I tested them 5 minutes later and they bounced back so they were done. Cool in the tins for 2 minutes and then turn out on a rack to cool completely.

Done and cooled

Meanwhile make the buttercream icing. Beat the softened butter for 2 minutes with an electric beater and then add all the icing sugar at once.

Butter and icing sugar

Beat on a slow speed until it is incorporated. Then beat on a high speed for 4 minutes until it is light and fluffy. Mine was not, so I added one, and then another, teaspoon of milk and beat for a further 4 minutes. It was perfect.

Buttercream

I made "hot" and "cool" coloured pinatas: yellow, orange, red and green, blue, purple. Construct the cakes on the plates you plan to use. Try not to get the buttercream on the inside of the doughnuts, for purely aesthetic reasons!! Put a little icing on the base of the first doughnut cake (red), and use this to stick it to the plate. I found that icing the doughnuts before I put them on the stack was much easier. Sandwich the three cakes together: red/orange/yellow, with buttercream icing. I used the top of the cake for the top of the stack as it was flatter than the bottom of the cake- which was rounded.

Ice stack fill

Even the sides of the stack as you look from above and fill the centre with M&Ms. I used orange and yellow for the "hot" cakes and blue and green for the "cool" cakes.

Final icing and topping

Frost the top and sides generously. Use a butter knife, or I used a new clean icy-pole stick, and even off the sides and top. Sprinkle on some 100s and 1000s. Repeat this with the rest of the "hot" doughnut cakes, and the green, blue and purple ones to. You should have four, and then you are ready for the big reveal!!!

Rainbow pinata cakes

These little cakes will not keep very well. Once they are iced they will have a slightly longer life. I watched Ann Reardon, on The YouTube, brush a simple sugar syrup onto some cakes to make them moist, and this could work here with maybe a lemon syrup???


Sisters Golden Hair: Surprise!!

Today it rained, rained all day with gale force wind and so much water everywhere. Hedy had not really seen rain. She is apparently fine with thunder and lightning, but hard rain hurts her delicate baby skin- or so she says!! It rained torrentially at 8am and there were warnings of trees and power lines down, so Gilly didn't go for a walk. Instead there was a bonus trip to The Vet for Hedy's last baby vaccination. And it tipped down when it was time to leave. The waiting room was full of wet dogs, wet dog smell and breath. It fogged up the windows in the waiting room and my camera too.

In exciting news, we met Hedy's actual litter sister: Daisy!! I am sure they recognised each other and much playing ensued.  The photos are too foggy, but I have a reasonable one of Daisy.

Daisy, Hedy's sister

Daisy was there to be vaccinated as well. We are obedient human companions!! It turns out that Daisy's sister Abby, is also related to Hedy, Daisy and Gilly. They are all from the same breeder. What a good advertisement for such lovely Labradors. Abby is 14 and was there to pick up her arthritis medication.

Gilly abby hedy daisy again

Gilly was bemused by the whole thing. It was a Labrador whirlwind. Hedy is the perfect weight. She was so well behaved for Dr Megan and Dr Megan was most impressed. I am also secretly so proud of Hedy who could sit and wait when I asked her too, while Daisy just jumped on the seat, larked about and generally ignored her human!!

Gilly, Abby, Hedy, Daisy

Lorelai Gilmore is also the perfect weight. She should not weigh any more, and could weigh a little less. I can stop worrying so much about her now. Poor Gilly was a little put out because lots of the doctors and nurses came to especially meet Hedy, though Dr Megan did slip her a few extra treats.

The house has been full of wet and muddy dogs for the last two days. The rain is wonderful, it is the first time Hedy has seen rain in her whole life. We could do with a little less all at once though.

I printed some material at Spoonflower for my sister. It has her dog, Archie, on it. I had to work with the only photo I had, but I think the bag turned out quite well. I have enough for two bags and Archie is back and front. He's a Shar-Pei. I tried to take a photo for my blog:

Taking photos with The Labradors

After eight attempts I finally had something approaching reasonable. This is bag #80.

Archie bag #80

I am not quite sure when we will get to sleep tonight. It is 11-04pm and Lorelai Gilmore and Hedy Lamarr have been playing rowdy rebel games in and out the dog door and round the house for an hour. Thank goodness it is not raining. They need some time to calm down before they will be ready to sleep. Oh, no, Hedy is woofing.

Right, all is well again. I have been knitting some TARDIS hand warmers for Mrs HouseOf's oldest daughter. OldestDaughter is very thoughtful and sent me a gorgeous knitting brooch, which is in a  bag somewhere, safe from Hedy, and I can't find it right now. It is tiny wooden knitting needles with some green knitting on them.

TARDIS hw 1

I have made one and a bit hand warmers. I knitted the cuff and the rib at the top in the round and the rest back and forth. I sneakily used small pieces of the wool to knit the windows on the front and back so I didn't carry them across the blue part in the centre. I am quite pleased with the writing too. It needs a good blocking to make the windows and writing sit properly.

Ah, peace reigns once more. Well almost. Lorelai Gilmore is in bed, and Hedy Lamarr is in the dining room making little cross noises because she wants some attention. Tomorrow I am baking a banana cake and then going with MrsDrWho and some of her teacher colleagues to see a play presenting three episodes of Dad's Army at the theatre. It should be great!!