Maltese Figolli – Traditional Easter cakes.

Image Maltese figolli are baked sweet pastry cut in different shapes (ranging from butterflies, fish, sirens to lambs, etc) filled with almonds meal paste. They are coated with royal icing and colorfully decorated with chocolate and Easter eggs. Tradition requests that figolli should not be eaten until Easter Sunday, when it’s time to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. There is something truly special about having traditional food that is baked for a special event during the calendar year. As a special treat this year and as I suspect I have just added another tradition to our Easter celebrations I made my very first home made Figolli. I began the epic search for the perfect recipe (Wanting it to be a traditional one!) I noticed countless references which required you to cut the pastry with a Figolli cutter. Ok back to the drawing board! Now I need a template that I can use to cut the shapes as these beautiful buttery bickies are about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Time to put my artistic creativity to the test. Just finished my three designs A Bunny Face, Baby Chick and an Egg. Image There are three layers to each Figolli, like a sandwich – a sheet of almond meal is encased between the two layers of dough. Step:1 Image Step: 2 Image Step: 3 Image Step: 4 Repeat the process with the other designs Image Image Now the fun begins, decorating your Figolli! I have chosen to use fondant for these three but the traditional method states that royal icing is used to decorate them. Using the templates that I made and a few cookie cutters these are  my finished Maltese Easter Cakes. Happy Easter to my Maltese husband and all his family. How lucky am I? I get two Easters to celebrate this year as the Greek Orthodox Easter is not until late April this year. Image   I have since found another recipe which I think looks great by Shane Delia’s Mum.

Doris Delia’s Maltese Easter Figoli Recipe

by Shane Delia (Notes) on Saturday, 30 March 2013 at 12:05
PASTRY
1 kilo self-raising flour
250gms unsalted butter
600mls thickened cream
1 cup caster sugar
Melt butter, let cool.  Then add to flour and add cream, knead lightly.
FILLING
1 kilo Almons meal (ground)
500gms caster sugar
6 egg whites
Almond essence
1-2 cups of water
Beat egg whites with sugar until you have soft white peaks.
Slowly fold in almond meal and almond essence and water.
Roll out the pastry and cut out two of the same shape.
Spread filling in centre of one pastry shape, dabbing the edges with water or milk and then placing the second shape on top.
Bake in moderate oven until golden brown.  Let them cool.
Decorate with a layer of white icing and then let your imagination go wild with coloured icing, lollies and more!
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Easter Baking – Hot Cross Buns!

I love “Hot Cross Buns”.

This year Ive been experimenting! New recipes and lots of flavour combinations. The traditional fruit and spice will always be my favourite. But Patricia a great baker herself reminded me of Jaffa – Orange and Chocolate, Coffee and Date and Mocha! The conversation got out of hand as the Hot Cross Bun had reached flavour sensations that would ultimately result in hunger pains!

That is the beauty of baking. The ability to take a great base recipe and as Marsha Hinds would say “Make it your own”. The point here is to find a recipe, a great sweet dough that allows you to make subtle adjustments. I used Dan Lepards recipe last week and yes it was sensational but of course I made it my way with a twist.

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Ok I know what your thinking. “Where is the before picture”? Well Im sorry I baked this batch of dough into a six stranded platt and no sooner did it came out of the oven….it was gone. It did leave a pretty pattern on the baking paper.

Todays hot cross buns were picture perfect. Here are some of the steps I took to make these beautiful Fruit and Spice Buns.

Step 1 – Always check the yeast you are about to use make sure its fresh

Step 2 – Try not to add too much extra flour to the dough when you are shaping it, a few drops of cooking oil on your hands will stop it sticking to your fingers

Step 3 – If you want the buns to rise upward place them in a deep baking tray and don’t space the buns to far apart

Step 4 – To give the buns a lovely golden colour, brush them with an egg wash just an egg yolk and a couple tablespoons of milk whisked together.

Step 5 – Preheat your oven to the required temperature, at least 15 minute before you need to use it.

Step 6 – For a glossy finish on the buns make a sugar syrup, brush the hot syrup over the hot buns.

Step 7 – Well this is the best part break apart a bun make a cup of tea or coffee and Enjoy!

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Ta Dah!

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All this talk about Jaffa! Guess what my next batch of Hot Cross Buns are going to be!

Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!

Chocolate Tasting Night at Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School

I thought I was having a great day last week when it got a whole lot better with a message that came via twitter. “Congratulations, you are invited to our first Chocolate tasting Night”. To tell you the truth all I read was “Congratulations” and “Chocolate” the rest was bla bla bla!  Before I could even think the date had already been reserved for Tuesday the 19th of March with a big asterix along side just incase I forgot!

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 Kirsten Tibballs is as delightful as the chocolates students learn to make at the school. A lesson Im looking forward to taking in the very near future. The tasting table was covered length and width in an assortment of glossy gorgeous chocolate wonders. A feast for the eye as well as the tastebuds. As true foodies a moment or two was taken to take photos of these delicious creations. I must admit I was having a Willy Wonka moment!  Thank you for the invitation.

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I would highly recommend if you love chocolate and would love to learn how to make these don’t hesitate call Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School, 22 Wilson Avenue, Brunswick, Victoria (03) 9380 9777.

Australia’s BIGGEST and BEST TV guide – TV WEEK (March issue 23 – 29th)

 Rolling Pins, Whisks, Bowls and Wooden Spoons!

Time to meet the team of 10 bakers ready to take on the challenge!

I must admit that having the opportunity to be part of “The Great Australian Bake Off” has exceeded all my expectations! The cast and crew were sensational to work with. An enlightening experience to which I owe a debt of gratitude as it was their enthusiasm and great spirit that gave us the contestants the energy to keep going.  Thank you ALL; Lara, Cortney, Melinda, Ewan, Lee, Dana, Caroline, Rashid, Carmel, Carla, Sam, Merf, Chris and everyone else.

I remember the day we had these pictures taken …..big adrenalin rush day, same day as the commercial was being taped as well. An experience I will never forget.

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Publicity, Press, Planes and Production!

I’ve had some crazy exciting weeks in my life but they mostly happened while traveling form one country to another or the week leading up to our wedding. But nothing compares to this week, it was fun fast and fantastic. Melbourne publicity day was always going to be fun hosted by Shane Jacobson. Sydney launch at the “Bourke Street Bakery” lived up to its reputation, the joy of baking was visually spectacular.

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A day in Oakleigh or better known as “Little Athens”. The feeling is truly cosmopolitan and for a minute there I was transported with all the sights and sounds of Greece. First stop “Niko’s -Oakleigh Quality Cakes” and when I say cakes I mean shelf after shelf of cakes of every size and variety but especially the traditional ones like Kadaifi and Baklava. Thank you allowing Paul Mercurio, myself, and the channel 9 team to film amongst all the busy trade.

Next stop “Kalimera – Souvlaki Art” this could be the best souvlaki house in Melbourne and I highly recommend taking a trip to Oakleigh. They are dedicated and very patriotic to the food that they serve, fresh flavoursome and made with passion. Cheers to you all and thank you for welcoming us with open arms.

The fun didn’t stop there! “Vanilla – Cakes and Lounge” was next on the list and we really did  leave the best for last. Now I want to give you a few descriptive words about “Vanilla” Delicious, Gorgeous, Delightful and Dedicated. I had the pleasure of meeting some of the wonderful family that run this sensational establishment a vision that has truly come to fruition. Their menu is as beautiful as the exceptional reception we received by not just one member of the staff I mean ALL the staff. Chef Gerry is brilliant, his love for great greek cooking goes beyond everyones expectation. His personality is present on every plate! My thought now “When can we come back”. For the ultimate modern Greek experience “Vanilla” is a must. They have it all. Food and service all wrapped up with the heart and soul of Greece and its all in Oakleigh. 

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The Great Australian Bake Off Launch – Sydney

Its 5.30am Im up and getting ready to go to the airport.

Must pick up a copy of the Herald Sun. Arrived in Sydney 40 minutes late as my flight was delayed. Today is meet the press and a sneak preview of the show in Sydney and I can’t wait.  Once again Ive got a few photos to show you.

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Launch day in QLD and both the lovely ladies Nancy and Bliss had the honour of attending. Check out the CAKE!

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Wow what a morning. Publicity Day in Melbourne for the launch of The Great Australian Bake Off

There is nothing more delightful knowing that your first point of call this morning is at the Channel Nine – Makeup and hair! These girls are fabulous and nothing seems too difficult especially first thing in the morning. Armed with a myriad brushes, blushes hairdryers and sprays they got to work!

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The event was held at the Garden House, Royal Botanical Gardens. The bunting from the show was used to decorate sections of the house and the La Terre Sucree High Tea by Peter Rowland Catering was sensational. Morning tea was presented with a garden theme, just gorgeous you couldn’t wait try the little garden of delights.

It was lovely to catchup with Shane Jacobson again, and the only way I can describe his presence is that he put the Joy into our baking! He was there during our highs and lows and our greatest supporter. Shane and Anna showed us the joyful side of baking. Thank you.

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So today was all about meeting the press and especially for them to meet us! I think I promised to bake Adam form Fox FM Breakfast Radio some Flapjacks covered in chocolate for that little added sugar hit to help him get a great start to the day…..4.00am starts on radio Adam I don’t know how you do it. This is the Victorian team and Brendan from NSW. Don’t forget to buy a copy of the Age tomorrow and read all about it!

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I’ll be flying to Sydney tomorrow so stay tuned for more launch photos!

Wish me luck xx

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 2013

Great festival this year Southbank was overwhelmed with locals and tourists enjoying the sights and sounds in the sweltering heat. Great bands and food glorious food! I especially loved sampling the delights of the restaurants – “Number 8” had the best tempura Spicy soft shell crab and we couldn’t go past “Guillaume” and not try a baguette and a salted caramel macaroon….Delicious.  

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The carnival of wonders continued with street performers in abundance. Its was hard not to stop and look at magicians, musicians, devils and mice…… well the next couple of pictures should say it all! Did I mention the gondola! 

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Engagement Cakes and Birthday Cakes

Ive always enjoyed decorating cakes and when a friend asked if I could make her engagement cake well naturally I said YES! Then a familiar theme emerged she is a BIG fan of “The Great British Bake Off”. I hope she will love this cake and enjoy watching “The Great Australian Bake Off” just as much. Congratulations!

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But the fun didn’t stop there, a birthday cake for another special lady on the same day! It must be a new trend Ive never put a teacup as a topper for a cake but then again there is always a first or as it happens a second time for everything. Decorating done and dusted for this week, now next week is going to be publicity days for the show Im so excited I cant wait.

Pretty in Pink and Pearls.

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