Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dark chocolate and raspberry muffins from bourke street bakery

As you probably know it rains a bit in brisbane this time of year. I love to bake, as you know, but something about baking whilst it rains makes me feel like I am doing something useful with my time. Having two children, young children, stuck at home whilst it is raining fairly solidly for many days can be a hard task though. So my solution on this day was to bake some muffins.

We also had visitors coming for breakfast...I say breakfast not brunch because most people with little ones know that they wake up at the crack of dawn. So, I thought some yummy muffins would go down well for breakfast. My favourite muffins are the Bourke street bakery dark chocolate and raspberry muffins, and I love that they are simple, yummy and have a little more sophisticated taste, due to the two main components, chocolate and raspberries.

The recipe is fairly basic and makes 12 large muffins, though I like to make smaller ones. I do like to make mine in little muffin cases and I only bake them for 15 minutes, but do check your oven and keep an eye on them.

Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Muffins from Bourke Street Bakery
Makes 12
• 400g (2 2/3 cups) plain flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 300g caster sugar
• 310g unsalted butter
• 480ml buttermilk (I make my own buttermilk by adding 1 tsp of white vinegar per cup of milk)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3 eggs
• 225g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
• 225g raspberries, fresh or frozen
• 55g raw sugar
• Icing sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin and line with paper cases.
2. Sift the flour and baking paper into a bowl and add the sugar, mixing well to combine.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, then remove from the heat and stir in the buttermilk. Using a whisk stir in the eggs to combine. Pour over the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Use a large spoon to gently fold through the chocolate and raspberries. Don't overmix.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tins. Sprinkle the tops with raw sugar. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F) and bake for 20-25 minutes. For smaller ones, cook for around 10 -15 minutes. It may be necessary to drop the temperature about 10 minutes before the end of baking time if the muffins are starting to brown on top.
5. To test if the muffins are done, push the top gently to feel that it is firm. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before eating. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

This is a good recipe to make with kids as it is fairly simple. They are moist and a little sweet, but not too sweet. Oh and as you have probably noticed I always forget to dust with icing sugar. They also freeze really well and are a great 'rush' morning breakfast. The little people in my life are not crazy about them, but I am yet to find a muffin recipe that they do like. Me on the other hand, I love them.
Now if only I could get to the bakery to try them for real!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gluten free cakes - and Indulge

Gluten free baking can be a difficult thing to get right as anyone who has tried it would know. Whilst I am not a coeliac I have suffered from gluten intolerance and so tried to avoid it in my diet for a few years. Recently, a friend of mine found out she was gluten intolerant and so when my hubby was going to their place I offered to bake some gluten free goods.

Now last year I bought 'Indulge' by Rowie Dillon , an ex-ad agency creative, coeliac and cake-baker extraordinaire - a woman on a mission to save the world from tasteless, unattractive food and change gluten-free cooking forever. Her successful business has restored the joy in eating to allergy sufferers, making yummy food accessible to all.

I also purchased a bag of quinoa flour, with the expectation of cooking something from this beautiful book. I love this is beautiful to look at, and inspiring as she has beautiful photos of beautiful food and what's best is that she has pastry recipes. Something most gluten free books don't have. 

For my first time I decided to go with a simple recipe, something I know most people love - chocolate, and make the Cocoa Sponge Cakes.I am sharing it below for you (although you can find it on a few places on the net). I did change the recipe slightly and I used cupcake moulds as I wanted smaller versions of these.

The Quinoa flour is an interesting touch, it smells very nutty and I love that she uses alternative flours, and there is explanations in the book as well.

Cocoa Sponge Cakes by Rowie Dillon from Indulge

1 1/2 cups quinoa flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder (gluten free)
1 tsp baking powder (gluten free)
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup coffee, chilled
2 tsps vanilla extract (gluten free)
2 tsp white vinegar

125g dairy free margarine (as my friend has no issue with dairy I used stock standard margarine)
1 1/4 cups icing sugar (gluten free)
1/2 tbs cocoa powder (gluten free)

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line two 12 hole cupcake tins with paper cases
  2. Mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl
  3. Combine the oil, coffee and vanilla in a separate bowl, then add to the dry ingredients and stir well. Add the vinegar and quickly stir to combine. Pour immediately into the paper cases
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin and turn out onto a wire rack for icing
  5. To make the icing, beat the margarine and sugar in a small bowl with beater until well combined. Add the cocoa powder and beat until well combined and the icing is smooth and thick. Using a palette knife (or metal spatula), spread the icing generously over the cakes

I think my oven was a little too hot as my cupcakes cracked, but all in all they tasted, fudgy, chocolatey (if that is a word) and went down a treat with everyone, not just the gluten free gal.

I have another gluten free recipe from this book that I baked and will share that with you another time. Happy Baking and I hope this is of use to some of you...Do you have any favourite gluten free recipes reader?

Note: no one paid me to write this post or share this book with you, it is just one book in my bakers shelf!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Birthday cakes and no candles please...and not pink!

Sometimes a birthday can sneak up on you, and I sort of feel that way about my last one. Life is so hectic these days that when Christmas came around I couldn't wait to just lie down and stop for a minute.

But then I remembed, I have two little ones who wanted to celebrate my birthday, and no birthday is complete without cake (that is one lesson my girls already know)! So when I asked my girls what sort of cake to make they screamed 'chocolate!!!!' Of course it's chocolate I thought and my dreams of a strawberry cake went out the window.

Now I have 2 go-to chocolate cakes that I love but I thought since I am on holidays I would take some time to try one of the other books in my library. Miette. I have wanted to bake something from this book since I got it. I love Miette. Now you probably think that is crazy coming from an aussie, but I did go to the store many years ago in the Ferry building in San Fran. My eyes lit up when I saw the store, the pretty delicacies, the chocolate, oh the chocolate (okay watching the weight does not factor in here).

Well don' recall seeing the tomboy cake when I was there but It has been high on my list of 'want to make'. It's the one on the front cover. Unfortunately, it had pink I thought I would make it a mint green or sky blue, but, noooooo said my two little people. We want pink! So pink it was too!

The chocolate cake behind this is amazing. I could eat it on it's own. Everyone loved trying the little cupcakes I made with the extra batter. The cake is rich, moist and just smells heavenly. I almost considered putting a simple fudge on top but decided to make the meringue buttercream listed in the recipe.

I have to say I am not a fan of meringue buttercreams. I know...blasphemy! I just find them too butter rich. So whilst this cake combination didn't rank that highly for me, I am sure it did and would for many others. And I would still devour this chocolate cake anytime.

So, do you like meringue buttercreams reader?

So, I wanted to tell you about my pinterest account too. I place all my photos on my pinterest account and also some other things I am interested in. You might also notice I finally put my pinterest button on the blog, so you can pin stuff too.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Roll out Sugar Cookies

Well now that Christmas is over I am not baking so much. I am trying like most people to curb my sweet tooth, which can be very difficult when you write a 'Sweets' blog. So, on that note I will tell you that I am going to make some changes around here but I won't go into it right now.

I have had a few computer problems of late so that is the reason for my infrequent posts. So I am dying to share this post with you.

I did a lot of baking during the holiday period and one thing I have found that makes it all worthwhile is a good recipe. I would not bake anywhere near as much without good recipes to fall back on. And this one of my favourite cookie recipes.You see, they are soft, but firm, sweet and creamy (okay I know that sounds weird but that is how I think of them). 

I am not sure whether to call them roll out cookies, or sugar cookies or even shortbread cookies, but I think they cover all bases. You can roll them, they have sugar and they have a shortbread texture!

The recipe for these yummy cookies is available in many places and is called the NFSC - the no fail sugar cookie fits them perfectly. One great thing is that this dough will hold it's shape well (with a bit of refrigeration) and the dough won't puff up in the oven - a no-no for good cookie decorators.

NFSC Recipe

6 cups plain flour
3 tsp. baking powder
230 grams butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract or desired flavoring (I have used various extracts but lemon is my favourite)
1 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 180oC (160oC for a fan-forced).
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. 
Mix dry ingredients and add a little at a time to butter mixture. Mix until flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together.
Chill for 1 to 2 hours (or see Hint below)
Roll to desired thickness and cut into desired shapes. 
Place baking paper on your baking sheets and place shapes on baking sheets. 
I tend to put my shapes back into the fridge at this point because the dough can get a bit warm when you cut shapes with it.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown around the edges. This recipe can make up to 5-dozen 3” cookies.

HINT: Rolling Out Dough Without the Mess -- Rather than wait for your cookie dough to chill, take the freshly made dough and place a glob between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll it out to the desired thickness then place the dough and paper on a cookie sheet and pop it into the refrigerator. Continue rolling out your dough between sheets of paper until you have used it all. By the time you are finished, the first batch will be completely chilled and ready to cut. Re-roll leftover and cut and bake!

You can also find the recipe here on Sweetapolita. She uses it to make cookies pops!

I have a bit of a fascination for cookies cutters and I bought these cute cutters from ebay. I think they are used in bento boxes or some thing like that but they make great cookie cutters and the kiddies can use them too.  I made these cookies for my daughters playdate and I think my girls ate most of them. 

So tell me if you like this recipe too, or if you have a different favourite recipe.