A Week Is A Long Time In Christmas-tics

I have made it through the week. The mind is intact though the body is weak and totally worn out. The days have been packed with activity, one, two or sometimes even three things, for seven days: in spite of all my planning, it just happened.

Also, there is a smudge on my camera lens, I breathed on it just now and gently cleaned it with some soft fabric. This is probably the wrong thing to do, but the smudge went away. I can feel the lens is scratched. I may need a new camera.....

I have had so many Christmas occasions and appointments and my mum came to visit for three days for her birthday: we did so many things and had a wonderful time. I baked lots of things for my mum and sewed her nothing. I did take up her new trousers. We ate curry and toasted sandwiches and a delicious meal at a posh restaurant where I even had a tiny dessert. It was a passionfruit meringue sundae, served in a tiny glass with shortbread crumbs then passionfruit curd, passionfruit ice-cream and a caramelised meringue shard. It was so delicious but I felt far too full!! Mum had the frozen lemon parfait with caramelised mandarin and a scoop of lemon curd icre-cream.

The Labradors have felt neglected. They went for a walk with mum and Hedy is in love with her. She wiggled and waggled and carried on a treat. They both ran very fast as they were so excited. It is good to see Lorelai Gilmore running and being well.

Gilly and Hedy running fast

Gilly is far more sensible. You can tell she is more sensible because she is poking out her tongue!!! We had a lot of rain after the heatwave broke and Gilly and Hedy took every advantage and were totally wet all the time.

Hello we are very wet

Though they may have felt neglected, they were not and there were games and paddle pool adventures at ten o'clock at night.

I have been sewing for my friends. I sewed some Project Bags by By Annie for our Sewing group. I made the third biggest size, there are four, and they measured 35cm square. The back is quilted and the front has vinyl and a zip. I made them to easily hold layer cakes and our Moda Cake Mix papers.

By annie project bags

I made two needle rolls for our Knitting Friend who is going to live overseas. One is for Double Point needles and the other for interchangeable tips, and I left a space for some cables.

Dpn needle roll

Interchangeble needle roll

I sewed Christmas shopping bags for my friends. I didn't go to our 2017 Christmas because my mum was here, so I sent them all off to good homes!!

Christmas 2017 bags1

Christmas bags 2

And finally I sewed some zippy chip/popcorn bags as well. These are always popular and they are well used. The children wear them out so I am happy to make them a new one every year.

Zippy chip bags

Consequently there was no Friday Food, but I made a gingerbread traybake for Leukaemia Christmas BBQ. It was so easy, and though I didn't taste it, I had so many requests for the recipe I sent it off to our nurses for them to email to the group. I can highly recommend it and I will post the recipe this Friday. I did have tiny gingerbread decorations but I could not for the life of me find them so I used festive M'n'Ms. I forgot to take a picture of the bags I sewed for our fabulous nurses, they look after us all so well.

Gingerbread traybake

MrsDrWho has bought an aviary,

Aviary

and furnished it with love in anticipation of finches. The finches are being re-homed and they arrived this week. I am looking forward to seeing them.

Birdies are here

And finally, I managed to take a reasonable photo of The Labradors for our Christmas card. Someone had their eye closed, or was looking away, or would not sit close enough to the other dog!!! This is not the photo, but it is pretty good. I was holding a seaweed rice cracker to entice Hedy Lamarr to look my way. Lorelai Gilmore is a super model, she needs no encouragement.

I am holding a biscuit  Gilly and Hedy want it

If you have read this far, well done and would you like a Christmas card from The Labradors?? There is an Email Me button at the bottom of the side bar, or you can leave a comment and we will email and ask for your address. We sent cards last year and it was lots of fun. We can't promise they will be there before Christmas, but that's par for the course in our lives.

This week I am going to try and sew a dress to wear to the Star Wars The Last Jedi at a quarter past midnight on Thursday morning. Wish me luck. I have my back up Star Wars dress, so we shall see. After our walk tomorrow we plan to sleep ALL DAY.

And finally, The Parliament said Yes, and same sex marriage is now law. People can be married from January 9th I think. I do think it rather rich that some politicians smugly congratulated themselves on the passing of the Bill. I say that we did their job for them and they could have saved the $122,000,000 and done their jobs. We did it for them and they should not steal the credit. Happy New Marriage Year!!!


Friday Food: Raspberry Swirl Pavlova Wreath

Rasp swirl pav wreathI am very pleased with the way this pavlova wreath turned out. It looks so festive and marvellous to the eye, and according to my sewing friends: it tastes delicious. Seconds were had!!! This is Donna Hay's Raspberry Swirl Pavlova Wreath.

 

 

 

 

I love baking pavlovas and I am lucky enough that they seem to like me too: I can whip one up with no trouble at all. I have some helpful hints:

  • always make sure the eggs are at room temperature
  • separate the eggs separately, that way if any yolk creeps through, it only affects one egg-white
  • wipe the bowl and beaters with some vinegar to make sure they have no oil on them
  • add the caster sugar slowly, spoon by spoon
  • whisk the pavlova until it is glossy (not gloss!!), and when you rub a little of the mixture between your fingers it is silky smooth- no gritty sugar
  • I use malt, white or even apple cider vinegar, it doesn't seem to matter
  • try to be prepared and make the pavlova the day before, or early in the morning of the day. That way it can cool slowly in the oven

I usually use 50g of caster sugar for each egg-white, Donna Hay weighs and measures far more specifically. I just went with eggs that were 700g per dozen and used 6 egg-whites and 300g of caster sugar.

I tried to push the raspberry mixture through the sieve, and it was not fine enough so lots of the seeds went through. I gently smoothed it through again with a silicone spatula and it was better, but not perfect. I always add vanilla extract to a cooled mixture, as I believe that it is wrong to cook the extract. I don't know why!! Ah, I searched and if you boil the extract, which has alcohol in it, it burns off most of the flavour.

I used freeze-dried strawberries because they were easier to find than freeze-dried raspberries. Nobody cared.

If I was going to bake this for Christmas, and wanted to get ahead, I don't recommend using the raspberry swirl. The pavlova won't keep well. I would recommend just making the pavlova wreath and then swirling the raspberry swirl on the whipped cream topping.

I traced a circle with a permanent marker on the back of the baking paper and then folded it into quarters and then it was easy to make thirds: and ergo, twelfths. I extended the lines so I could make my wreath sections as easily as possible. I didn't have a square enough tray, so I made five extra little pavlova sections separately.

You should definitely make this: wreaths are trending this year for Christmas, and there will be a dessert wreath to suit everyone!!!

 

NB An Australian tablespoon is, very sensibly I think, 20ml.

 

Raspberry Swirl Pavlova Wreath    serves 6-8

 

For the raspberry swirl:

  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 2 tbspn (8 teaspoons) caster sugar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract

For the pavlova:

  • 225ml egg-white (about 6) at room temperature
  • 330g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tspn white vinegar ( I used malt)
  • 2 tspn cornflour

To decorate:

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 250g fresh rapsberries (I used some my friend froze from her garden last year)
  • 2 tbspn pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1 tbspn freeze-dried raspberries, crushed

 

Preheat the oven to 150*C.

Raspberries and sugar

Make the raspberry swirl by stirring the raspberries and caster sugar, in a pan,  over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes. It will slightly reduce and thicken.

Raspberry swirl

Smooth through a sieve, add the vanilla extract and refrigerate. It needs to be cold before being spooned over the unbaked pavlova.

Egg white and sugar

Beat the egg-whites until stiff peaks form and then add the caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time every 30 seconds. It took about 10 minutes, I got bored at the end. Then beat for a further 6 minutes or until you feel no grit when you rub a little of the mixture between your forefinger and thumb. It will be very glossy and white.

Vinegar and cornflour

Mix the vinegar and cornflour together and pour over the pavlova mixture, whisk for another 2 minutes.

Make the wreath

Prepare the wreath shape on the baking paper, always on the underside, and then spoon the pavlova into each section, making a wreath shape.

Swirl and bake

Carefully pour a little of the raspberry swirl on top of each wreath portion. I used a 1/4 tspn spoon. Then swirl with the end of a teaspoon. Turn the oven DOWN to 100*C and bake the pavlova wreath for 60 minutes. Then turn the oven off, and leave the wreath inside until it is perfectly cold. I left mine overnight.

Just before serving, spoon a little whipped cream over each section and top with the fresh raspberries. Then sprinkle on the freeeze-dried raspberries and the chopped pistachios. And then it is a special Christmas treat for your mouth!!

Rasp swirl pavlova wreath

An plain pavlova wreath, baked without a raspberry swirl, will keep for at least a week in an airtight container in a cool dark cupboard.


Friday Food: Candy Cane & Brownie Ice-Cream

Brownie candy cane ice creamOh, we are melting. It is the hottest November ever here, with temperatures at least 10*C above normal. I could not turn on the oven. I was inspired by Gemma from Bigger Bolder Baking and then Donna Hay. I watched Gemma's ice-cream video and it reminded me that I made two-ingredient ice-cream as well. I had candy canes and when I searched I found Donna Hay's recipe. She uses vanilla ice-cream from the supermarket. I felt I had properly made something because I whipped up the ice-cream!! I bought the brownie, well a double choc-chip muffin......

You can add anything to this ice-cream. I chose the brownie and candy cane option, because it is festive and the ice-cream will keep in the freezer and I am a tad prepared for Christmas now!!!

The ice-cream is whipped for 4 minutes and then there is some crushing, crumbing and finally folding: less than 10 minutes in all..

 

 

Candy Cane and Brownie Two Ingredient Ice-Cream     makes 2 litres

 

  • 600ml whipping cream
  • 395g can of sweetened condensed milk, very very very cold

 

  •  Or 2 litres of vanilla ice-cream, softened

 

  • 8 large candy canes, crushed
  • 100g brownie, crumbed
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract, optional

 

Whip

In a large bowl, whip the cream with a mixer until it is thick - about 2 minutes. Pour in the very cold condensed milk and whip until thick again- another 2 minutes.

Candy canes

Remove the plastic from the candy canes and then crush them. I put them in two zip-lock bags and smashed them.

Add embellishments

Add the crushed candy canes and the crumbled brownies. Fold through. Fill a container, I used two 1 litre loaf tins, and freeze for at least 3 hours or overnight.

And freeze

And serve. This will keep for up to 8 weeks in the freezer, well wrapped and airtight!!

Candy cane brownie ice cream


Friday Food: Cherry & Pecan Brownies

Cherry pecan brownieI lost my camera card. It was almost a blogging emergency. It fell under the lip of Hedy's little box. I had to peer about down low with a torch. Crisis averted. December is not far away and I am planning my celebratory baking. I was going to bake something else, but the RB Digital app isn't working properly (again) and I was left browsing The Internet. Jamie Oliver came to the rescue with this brownie. He calls it Cherry Brownie, but I like to alert people to the presence of nuts in a recipe at the outset. Of course you can leave them out. This brownie is melt and mix and bakes so very quickly!!

I used Morello cherries and decided to double the amount as they aren't as cherry-y as fresh cherries, of which I had none. The pecans roasted for 5 minutes as the oven was heating up, and I do believe it makes a difference with the pecans being toasty and fragrant. I also chose to add the extra chocolate in the form of dark choc chips.

I can't find my 20cm square tin and so substituted one of the disposable 20 x 30cm BBQ trays and made it square by chocking up the baking paper with a box cut to fit. It worked quite well.

The brownie baked for 20 minutes and it is Very Squidgy in the centre. It was still warm after only cooling for an hour, and if it is refrigerated it will be less fragile.

This is incredibly quick to make and bake and it smells so delicious: chocolate, cherry and pecan. It is perfect for celebratory occasions in December!! 

I did taste a few crumbs that fell off when I cut it and it is soooo yummy. I am now making some peppermint tea to help ameliorate any I-Ate-Chocolate-Symptoms.....

 

Cherry & Pecan Brownie     serves 16

  • 130g butter
  • 150g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
  • 55g fresh cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 55g pecans, roasted
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 55g cocoa powder, Dutch processed is good
  • 75g plain flour
  • 3/4 tspn baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 50g milk or dark chocolate extra, chopped or use choc chips

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C and line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper.

Melt

Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave on High for 30 seconds, stir and then heat for another 30 seconds. Stir until smooth.

Mix

Add the cherries and pecans and fold in. Mix the rest of the dry ingredients together and then add to the chocolate mixture, stirring well to combine.

Mix more

Whisk the eggs together and add to the brownie batter along with the extra chocolate if you are using it. Mix for a final time and then pour into the tin and smooth the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Jamie Oliver says he wants them to be gooey in the centre: the level of gooiness is up to each individual. After 20 minutes and an hour to cool the centre was quite gooey. Cool in the baking tin and then cut into squares.

The cherry pecan brownie

The brownie was so dark and mysterious it was difficult to photograph. And I am not terribly good when all the stars align photographically!!


Friday Food: Smashed Potatoes

Smashed potatoesA few months ago there was a show on Our ABC called Short Cuts to Glory, hosted by Matt Okine. It was a beginner's guide to baking, with recipes, tips and hints from famous Australian chefs and bakers. I watched most of the show and borrowed the book from The Library. I have only cooked one thing, and it was spectacularly simple and successful: the Smashed Potatoes. The recipe comes from The Monday Morning Cooking Club, and they are indeed the crispiest potatoes I have ever baked or roasted.

You do need the right kind of potatoes. The recipe specifies chats, which I found out are baby Colibans, but basically any small-ish floury potato. And this is a 3 ingredient recipe, so super easy. I think the trick is to boil and then bake the potatoes. I did half with skin on and half peeled, just to see what happened. The recipe suggests adding chilli flakes, lemon zest, herbs or even bacon to up the flavour ante.

That is all there is to say: gorgeously crisp and tasty smashed potatoes. Yum!!

 

Smashed Potatoes         serves 6-8 as a side

  • 1 kg baby chat potatoes, or other small floury potato
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • sea salt flakes

 

Prepare a tray by covering it with baking paper. It says to preheat the oven to 180*C now, but it takes about 25 minutes to boil and cook the potatoes, so I usually turn the oven on 10 minutes before I need it.

Boil potatoes

Put the potatoes, peeled or unpeeled as you like, into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and the boil gently for 15-20 minutes or until they are tender. If you poke them with a thin sharp knife and it pierces the potatoes easily, they are done.

Smash  oil  salt  roast

Cool slightly, and place on the tray. Press down with the heel of your hand, or any other flat pressy thing, and gently smash the potatoes. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Roast for an hour, or until the potatoes are a dark golden brown and crispy. My potatoes took 70 minutes tonight.

Rest on some paper towel if they are a tad oily, and then serve, in all their crispy glory!!!

Best smashed potatoes

 


Friday Food: Creamy Chicken & Risoni Tray Bake

Creamy chicken risoni bakeI think this recipe is from the September Taste magazine, but I also found it on their site here. I made this in September and today when I was feeling tired and not up to any proper baking, I remembered this and how easy it was to make. I even found actual sage on sale in the supermarket, but if you can't find fresh, use dried. I swapped out the chicken drumsticks for thighs as I don't really like drumsticks.

Other than that, I made the recipe as written, though I halved it. The risoni is lovely, pillowy and rich and this is one of those dishes that tastes better the next day. Make sure your baking dish is a deep one, as there is a lot of liquid and I think it needs a large surface area so it can bubble away and reduce. I was too lazy to fry the sage leaves for serving at the end. I know it is cheffy to fry them, but I just tore the leaves, frying was too much of an effort tonight.

Really, that's all there is to say this week: great recipe, all made in the one tray, ready in less than an hour and tastes delicious.

 

Creamy Chicken & Risoni Tray Bake    serves 4

  • 30ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 drumsticks or about 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 leek, trimmed and sliced
  • 200g mushrooms
  • 6 large sage leaves, torn
  • 300ml pouring cream
  • 750ml (3 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Optional extras to serve:

  • lemon zest
  • Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • fried sage leaves

 

 

Preheat the oven to 200*C or 180*C fan-forced. Put the baking dish in and leave for 5 minutes or until it is very hot. Pour half the oil over the base and add the chicken, leek, mushrooms and torn sage leaves. Drizzle the remaining oil over the top and bake for 20 minutes.

Prepare and bake

Turn the chicken and sprinkle the risoni in between. Pour over the cream and stock and bake for a further 30 minutes. Check that the chicken is cooked through and the risoni  has absorbed almost all the liquid. If not, bake a little longer.

Add risoni liquid and bake

Remove the chicken and keep warm. Add the frozen peas and stir well. Set aside for 5 minutes for the peas to warm, through.

Add peas

Return the chicken to the dish and sprinkle with the lemon zest, Parmesan and sage leaves and serve straight away. This does improve on keeping, so a day or two in the fridge won't hurt!!

Creamy chicken risoni traybake


Friday Food: Cream Cheese & Rhubarb Blondies

Rhubarb cream cheeseblondie sliceRhubarb is in season, and at the greengrocer only $2-50 a bunch, it's $6 at the supermarket. I went back and bought more!! I saved this recipe from the October Woolworths Fresh magazine. I didn't know it would be so very good. It was a big hit with my friends, so I will definitely be making this again.

There are three main steps, but none of them onerous. I didn't even use anything electric to mix or beat, just a big spoon. I did make sure the cream cheese was nice and soft so it was easy to beat and wasn't lumpy.

I chose not to add the cornflour to the rhubarb to thicken it. The rhubarb maintained its shape and there was hardly any juice at all. The blondies were fine, and not really affected. I think the tart rhubarb is perfect with the cream cheese, but you could substitute stone fruit I think: peaches and orange zest, apricots, or plums.

The recipe says only to cool the slice and then serve, and while it may be nice that way, I think it benefits from some refrigeration. It doesn't need anything else, it is perfect as it is. This will keep for a few days in an airtight container in the fridge and makes 20 pieces.

 

Cream Cheese & Rhubarb Brownies     makes 20 pieces

  • 5 stalks of rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbspn water
  • 1 tspn cornflour
  • 1 tspn cold water, extra
  • 250g cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar, extra
  • 3 eggs
  • 250g butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tspn vanilla extract/paste
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour

 

Grease and line a 20 x 30cm tin with high sides (3-4cm)

Cook rhubarb

Put the rhubarb and 1/3 cup caster sugar and 2 tspn water into a pan over a medium heat and stir till sugar is dissolved. Once it comes to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 8 minutes. Decide whether your rhubarb is thick enough. If it is not, mix the cornflour and extra cold water together, stir into the rhubarb and cook until it thickens. Remove from the heat and cool.

Cream cheese mixture

When you are ready to make the blondies, preheat the oven to 180C, in the fan-forced oven I only heated it to 160/170*C. Beat the cream cheese and extra caster sugar together until smooth. Add 1 egg, beat well and set aside.

Blondie batter

Make the blondie by whisking the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and remaining 2 eggs together.

Batter and flour

Sift over the two flours and stir well.

Swirl and bake

Pour the blondie batter into the lined tin and then dollop over the cream cheese mixture, alternating with the rhubarb. Use a knife to swirl the two toppings together and then bake for about 30 minutes. It is ready when it is set on the outside and slightly jiggly in the centre, but firm to the touch. Cool in the pan.

Serve warm, or cold from the fridge. Thank you to MrsReno for the lovely little plate and fork!!

Rhubarb blondie cream cheese slice


Friday Food: Chocolate Caramel ANZAC Slice

Chocolate caramel anzac sliceThis is the second time I have made this slice, which I found on the Better Homes & Gardens site. MrsDrWho confirmed the first time that it was delicious and so we are taking it to the vet today. Lorelai Gilmore has an appointment and Hedy comes along for the ride as she pines dreadfully if left at home. And vice versa.

I’m not usually a fan of variations on the ANZAC biscuit, but this seemed like a variation on the usual chocolate caramel slice. It’s very easy to make, and only needs 20 minutes in the oven. I made the caramel in the microwave instead of in a saucepan, I prefer doing it that way. I didn’t even melt the golden syrup and butter in a saucepan, I did that in the microwave too! I am fast and free with baking methods today.

You can add some spices to the base, but I didn’t. And I also used milk chocolate for the topping because that is the first chocolate that came to hand. I have a Tub’o’Chocolate, I'll take a photo next time I post to my blog.

The recipe says to refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight, but as long as it is cold and the chocolate is set, I think it is fine to cut and eat. Use a large warm knife, dipped into hot water and then dried, to cut the slice. It will keep for about a week in an airtight container.

 

Chocolate Caramel ANZAC Slice          makes 24 pieces

 

For the base:

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shredded, or desiccated, coconut
  • 75g butter
  • 20ml golden syrup
  • 20ml boiling water
  • 1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda

 

For the caramel:

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup
  • 395g can sweetened condensed milk

 

For the topping:

  • 200g dark, or milk, chocolate melts- melted

 

Preheat the oven to 160*C and grease and line a 20 x 30cm tin with high sides. I used a foil BBQ tray so I could just take the slice with me and not have to worry about retrieving the tin from the vet.

Dry ingredients

Put the oats, flour, sugar and coconut into a bowl and whisk to break up any lumps of sugar, and to combine them well. Make a well in the centre, let's imagine I have done that.

Wet ingredients

Meanwhile, melt the butter and golden syrup (in a bigger bowl than you think you will need) in the microwave on High for 30 second bursts: it took 60 seconds in the microwave here. Mix the bicarb soda with the water and then pour into the melted butter and golden syrup. It will foam up.

Add wet to dry

Whilst they are still foaming, pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well until everything is combined and there are no dry ingredients hiding at the bottom.

And bake

Press into the base of the tin. Push into the corners and if you use an oiled spoon, or glass, it is easier to press the base down firmly and evenly. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown, and a crust has formed on top. Do not poke the crust to test for 'doneness', as it will break, and there will be a big hole. Ask me how I know this..... Cool for 5 minutes in the tin.

Caramel

While the base is baking, make the caramel. I find it easiest to make the caramel in the microwave. I put the ingredients in a heatproof bowl and microwave for a minute, and then stir like mad. Repeat this until the caramel reaches the colour you desire. As it becomes darker I cut the time to 30 seconds. It may not look as if it is coming together, but the vigorous stirring works a treat. Also, be careful, it is very hot and can give you a nasty burn. Ask me how I know this too.... If you make the caramel this way you don't really need to put the slice back in the oven for 10 minutes, but you can if you are not certain if the caramel is caramelly enough.

Add caramel and chocolate

Set aside for 30 minutes to cool. Melt the chocolate in your preferred fashion. Once again, I use the microwave in 30 second bursts with lots of stirring in between. I always stop just before it is smooth and finish off the melting with more stirring. Pour the chocolate over the caramel and smooth. Make a pattern with it you like, I go up and down with the spoon.

Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight, or if you are me, pop it in the freezer for 2 hours and it seems perfect!!! Cut into squares, or rectangles, and it really is best eaten cold straight from the fridge. Not that I eat chocolate, but I do remember what it was like..... It is all about the ........ today.......

Choc caramel anzac slice


Friday Food: Yotam's Chocolate Cake

Best chocolate cake everI think I bake more chocolate cakes, biscuits and slices than anything else. I think this is because I can't eat chocolate, and I fulfill my cravings by baking chocolate things for all my friends. I read an article about Yotam Ottolenghi's new Sweet book and it asked if this chocolate cake was the best ever. I wanted to know if it was the best ever too, and so dear reader, I baked this cake!!

The ingredients are very simple for the cake and ganache and I chose not to make the optional espresso cinnamon marscapone cream. I used 70% Nestle dark chocolate and fresh eggs from the three chickens over the road.  The cake took a little longer to cook than the recipe said, so I turned the temperature down 20*C and baked it for a further 10 minutes. Our oven is fan-forced, so maybe this made a difference? The top of the cake cracked, the recipe said it would, and the ganache covered it up nicely.

Is this the best chocolate cake ever? I asked MrsDrWho and her dinner guests and they said it was a good cake, but not the best. The cake was fudgy and rich, but the ganache set quite hard, even at room temperature. It looks softer in the photo with the recipe, perhaps it is our colder weather? I can recommend this cake, it is easy to make (melt and mix) and cooks quickly. It is a great cake for dessert or just with a cup of tea or coffee.

 

Yotam Ottolenghi's World's Best Chocolate Cake       serves 12

For the cake:

  • 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature cut into 2cm cubes
  • 200g  70% dark chocolate, broken into 2cm pieces
  • 1 1/2 tspns instant coffee, dissolved in 350ml of boiling water
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tspn vanilla extract
  • 240g self raising flour
  • 30g Dutch processed cocoa
  • 1/4 tspn salt

For the ganache:

  • 200g  70% dark chocolate, chopped roughly
  • 200ml thickened cream
  • 3 tspn golden syrup
  • 3 tspn unsalted butter, at room temperature

 

Preheat the oven to 170*C and grease and line with baking paper a 23cm spring-form tin.

Melt

Put the butter, chocolate and coffee mixture into a bowl and mix well until everything is smooth and combined. Then add the sugar and whisk in to dissolve. I added the sugar with the other ingredients. I don't think this was a terrible error.

Add eggs

Add the eggs and vanilla extract and whisk again until smooth and combined. There is a lot of whisking in this recipe, but it is not onerous.

Dry ingredients

Sift, then mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Add dry to wet

Finally add the dry to the wet ingredients and whisk together. It is a very liquid batter, but this is the way it is supposed to be.

And bake

Pour into the lined tin and bake for an hour. It is baked when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean: no crumbs or wet batter. My cake was still very jiggly after an hour so I turned the temperature down to 150*C and baked it for a further 10 minutes and it was done. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 20 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Ganache

Begin the ganache by putting the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and golden syrup in the microwave until tiny bubbles form around the circumference and then pour over the chocolate. I put a plate over the bowl and let it sit for a minute or so, I believe it traps the heat and optimises the melting. Stir until almost melted and add the butter. Stir some more until the butter is melted and the ganache is shiny. You can also make this in a food processor, the recipe has both methods.

Pour the ganache over the cake, or let it sit for a couple of hours at room temperature and then spread it over the cake. On reflection, if you like a softer ganache it would be a good idea to make it just prior to serving. You can see the fudgy texture of the cake and the generous chocolate topping. All in all, this is a very good cake, but probably not The World's Best. What do you think?

Yotam cake


Instant-gram

There was no Friday Food last week because my cold was still too nasty. I baked a cake by Yotam Ottolenghi, and the recipe asked if this was the best ever chocolate cake. I gave the cake to MrsDrWho for her and her dinner guests, so I will tell you the verdict on Friday in my Friday Food post.

Best chocolate cake ever

Today is the first day I haven't had a residual cold headache. I had an almost four hour nap (not quite sure you can call that amount of sleep a nap?) after my new Exercise Physiologist ran me through some assessment tasks. I can balance on each foot for 45 seconds. If you need a balancer, I'm your woman!!!

If you want mud, then surprisingly, Lorelai Gilmore is your Labrador:

Gilly loves to be muddy

She was in the puddle at the dam with Hedy, but came out the muddier of the two.

Hedy and Gilly in the puddle

And here we have Rafa, Gilly and Hedy at the top of the 'hill' on our walk. It is the place we used to stop to farewell Sandy and his dad as they continued up the hill to their car and we went back down to ours. Hedy is doing a very good job of being a puppy dog!! We have turned Rafa to The Labrador Side and he wants a biscuit now too.

Rafa Gilly Hedy

The weather has been Spring-y. We had some more wild, windy, wet weather and when we went to the dam today, there was a tree half across the road. The Ranger must have been there because some of the tree had been trimmed already.

Tree down

Hedy has been, not very secretly, eating something she shouldn't be eating at home. Well, the plain flour in the shopping bag: the flour on her nose was a dead give away, but she is happily unaware!!

What's on Hedy's nose....

 I have started sewing the Jelly roll quilt as you go baby quilt. Phew, that's a long name...JRQAYGBQ, and the acronym looks like gobbledygook. I used a batik jelly roll MrsDrWho gave me for my birthday and some flannel for the backing. I used spray adhesive to 'baste' the backing and batting together as I am still a bit wary of my injured finger becoming more injured: which is has, which finger do you think The Labradors squashed against the fence and made bleed?? You'd be right if you thought my injured one. It had a bandaid and antiseptic and seems to be healing well.

Quilt as you go baby quilt

I think I am ready to start knitting again. I have some normal feeling in my fingertip, still pins and needles, touch-the-freezer-in-the-supermarket at the sides, but I am going to give it a go. I have some lovely wool, Katia Darling, from the wool shop. MrsDrWho picked it out. They had some new sparkly Opal, but I had just knitted her a glittery pair, which I realise I have no photo of: ahhh, maybe they don't exist??

Katia darling

I have joined The Instagram. I have resisted The Twitter and The Facebook, but it suddenly struck me that people whose blogs I used to follow, now have The Instagram. I can keep up with them through a new medium. And so I joined and then before I knew it I was on The Instagram. I am not sure how to properly drive The Instagram, but I had a quick lesson from the lovely WoolShopDesigner, and she said I am doing OK! I am not at all sure about Instagram Etiquette. When I searched it was all about following and then un-following or some such strategy. I don't want to gain followers, that's not my goal. I just want to keep up. Trying something new makes my brain work hard and keeps it on its toes.

And have I shared my birthday shoes? My sister sent me money to buy a specific pair, or two, of green shoes she had found, but they didn't come in my size. Bah humbug. So I ordered some shoes from The Homyped people. I have to wear sensible shoes because I have a sore knee and it seems silly to endure pain for a high heel. Well I think so. I bought two pairs of shoes, one is a mineral metallic which goes with everything and the other a darker olive than the photo, which I am very pleased with. My sister is very kind!!

Z birthday shoes

 

 

Our Council has instigated a Food and Garden Organics kerbside collection: FOGO. Our bin arrived in the wrong place, but our kind neighbour pulled it all the way around the corner and up the back of our house. We have three bins now: the ordinary Monte Carlo biscuit filling colour regular bin, the yellow lid for recycling and this new bin has a green lid, so we are chuffed. There is also a little FOGO caddy to keep in the kitchen and carry up to the big bin. We don't have a lot of FOGO waste, but I have already put some lettuce core scraps and banana peel into the caddy. It is not a big change, but it might help make a difference.

FOGO