Walnut Soda Bread

I have one recipe and about 100 variations of a classic soda bread. The original recipe was in a very old cookbook (in ounces and measurements which make me think it was all estimated)  I found it in an opportunity shop in Bendigo, country Victoria, Australia ….…(A little travel information for my non Aussie friends). Now Im going to pay it forward. This is my version of a Walnut Soda Bread and it sounds fancy but its oh so easy.

 

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Every time I make a soda bread I find my faithful recipe and depending on whats cooking the recipe will be adjusted to compliment the main meal. *Pairing flavours to suit the meal, herbs, walnuts, olives, parmesan or pine nuts these are a few ideas.

Today its just simply adding crumbled walnuts as Im going to be serving it with my Greek lentil soup. The addition of walnut will add texture and flavour to the overall meal.

Flour, buttermilk, salt, sugar, walnuts and bicarbonate of soda. The oven is always preheated and after a little very light kneading, shaping and a dusting of flour and four purposeful cuts to the dough ball its into the oven…..now I hope I didn’t make that sound too complicated.

Remember this is more like a scone than a traditional bread….so keep the kneading to a bear minimum. The technique to making a great soda bread is to minimise the formation of long gluten strands so KEEP IT SHORT 🙂

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“Walnut Soda Bread”

Ingredients

500g Plain White Flour or Bakers Flour

1 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Caster Sugar

2 teaspoons Bicarbonate of Soda

60g Walnuts (roughly chopped)

420ml – 450ml Buttermilk

extra flour for dusting

Method

Preheat your oven to 190 Degrees Celsius

  1. In a bowl add all the dry ingredients and mix well.
  2. Add the buttermilk without too much force or kneading bring the dough together into a ball
  3. Place the dough ball onto a tray lined with baking paper or alternatively you can dust the base of the baking tray with more flour and place the dough directly on top
  4. Dust the top of the dough with flour and cut a cross through the top straight down to the bottom creating four quarters.
  5. Place into the oven for approximately 35 – 45 minutes.

As the Soda Bread bakes it will rise and expand. You want it to have a lovely golden crust on the outside.

Once baked cool the soda bread on a cooling rack.

*Just a note as you can see from the pictures the extra flour you added over the dough ball before you baked it will NOT necessarily turn golden so look for the baked signs on the expanded surface of the soda bread.

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“Kolokithopita”….Greek Ruffle Sweet Pumpkin Pie

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Now I know there aren’t that many ingredients and well the method seams relatively simple but trust me this is BIG on flavour.

This is my favourite childhood dessert. My mother was taught by my grandmother and I make it for my friends and family too. I love pumpkin and I’ve made this pie for friends that have never enjoyed eating this glorious orange coloured vegetable as a savoury addition to a meal  let alone as a dessert…….and “they have loved it”. The aroma of it baking in the oven, the butter caramelising the fillo pastry and the smell of the sweet spiced pumpkin makes for one heavenly combination.

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Utensils:
1 large bowl
1 Vegetable grater
1 Deep baking pan 25cm x 25cm x 5cm (a little bigger is ok)
1 pastry brush

Ingredients:
600g Pumpkin (peel and seed discarded the pumpkin flesh grated)
80g Sugar (I like to use Coconut Sugar)
80g Currants
1/2 Tbs Cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp Clove powder
1/2 Orange Zest only (optional)
1/2 tsp Salt
1pkt Fillo pastry
100g Unsalted butter melted (cooled to room temperature)
30g  Rice Bran oil

Method:
1: Grate the pumpkin and place in a deep bowl

2: Add the sugar, currants, spices, salt and orange zest mix well cover the bowl with cling film and set aside for approximately 30 minutes.

When you are ready to assemble preheat the oven 170 Degrees(fan forced)

3: Butter the deep baking pan. Lay flat 1 sheet of fillo pastry and brush 
with butter line the inside of the baking dish then repeat with the next 
filo pastry sheet till you have 4 pastry sheets lining the base and edges. 

*You will need to be a little creative when you lay out the sheets making  sure to cover the edges and leave any excess hang over the lip of your 
baking dish as you will flip it over when you have added the filling.

4: Pour the pumpkin filling in spread evenly. Fold over any over hanging 
pastry. Butter 2 more sheets of pastry and lay them over the top of the filling - make sure to fold over and execs pastry this time so that all the 
top layer is nice and flat.

5: Butter 2 more sheets this time you will need to cut them to size so thatthey fit perfectly. Make fillo ruffles by gently making folds and gently 
scrunching then together and placing on top. Repeat the till the top is 
completely covered. You will need about 7 sheets or more. 

6: Bake for approximately 35 - 45 minutes or till the pastry is golden 
brown. 

Ive always served this dessert at room temperature dusted with icing sugar or you could try agave powder and just a little more cinnamon powder. if you would like to serve it hot then a nice scoop of vanilla ice-cream is     perfect.
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I hope you all enjoy my very own child hood favourite. 

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Note: 
tps = teaspoon
TBS = Tablespoon

 

 

 

Toasted Almond and Pecan Frangipani

A Dainty Dessert without the fuss…..”Sounds like my type of recipe”

“Toasted Almond and Pecan Frangipani”

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Some of my best ever recipes might be considered fuss free but never lack all the delightful qualities of a great home bake.

With a crumb thats both moist and has a heavenly aromatic warmth that only roasted nuts can give. A crunchy crust which can only be described as….”Balance has been restored in the universe of baking”. If you are partial to pecans and almonds as I am, then Im thinking you will love this recipe.

Crunchy crust coating:

1 x 20cm round baking pan

10g room temperature unsalted butter                                                                                                                  40g flaked almonds                                                                                                                                                        2 Tablespoons caster sugar

Spread the butter all over the base and sides of the baking pan.

Spread the almonds and sugar around the edges and base and set aside.

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For the Frangipani:                                 

75 g whole Almonds toasted                                                                                                                                       75 g whole Pecans toasted
140 g Caster sugar (optional use French Caster Sugar – CSR Sugars of the World)
3 eggs
115 g butter at room temperature
50 g Plain/All purpose flour                                                                                                                                         1 pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Topping:                                                                                                                                                                      40g Flaked Almonds

Preheat oven to 170 ° C (fan forced).

In the bowl of your food processor fitted with the cutting blade place the toasted almonds, pecans and sugar pulse till the nuts are and even crumble.

Add eggs and butter and the pinch of salt pulse the food processor for 30 seconds.

Finally add the flour mixed and baking powder, pulse again till everything is well combined.

Pour the cake batter into the cake pan and sprinkle the 40g of flaked almonds evenly over the top of the batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes, till the cake is golden.

Let the cake cool completely before removing from the cake pan.

Dust with a little icing sugar and serve. 🙂

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Greek – Zucchini and Fresh herb Feta Frittata

Zucchini and Fresh Herb Feta Frittata

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This is a dish that both my mother and grandmother both bake to perfection and even though for the sake of the recipe I have added measurements for the zucchini and the fresh herbs a little over or a little under will not alter it, it will alway taste as delicious as it should.

When zucchinis are in abundance and fresh herbs are plentiful then this bake may appear a few times as part of the dinner meal, for lunch or even breakfast.

Filling:

  • 4  Zucchini (medium sized) Grated
  • 1/4 cup Fresh chopped Mint
  • 1/4 cup Fresh chopped Dill
  • 1/4 cup Fresh chopped Parsley
  • 1 onion, finely grated
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 250g feta cheese, crumbed
  • 3 egg whites (whipped to stiff peak)
  •  1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • Topping:
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a bowl mix together the grated zucchini and fresh herbs set aside.
  2. In a small fry pan add a tablespoon of olive oil and the grated onion, saute gently till the onions have softened and lightly caramelised. Add the onion to the zucchini and mix to combine.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees celsius.
  4. Beat the egg yolks and  olive oil together add the crumbled feta cheese, white pepper, mix into the zucchini mixture.
  5. Fold the whipped egg white into the zucchini mixture.
  6. Oil a large baking tin (approximately 20cm x 25cm) spread the mix evenly. Spread the grated cheese over the top.
  7. Bake for 35 – 45 minutes till the top of the bake is crisp and golden.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

 

Sesame Seed Dinner Rolls

There is a true beauty to baking in general, yet nothing surpasses the aroma of freshly baked bread penetrating into every corner of your home. The aroma likened to a warm hug or a heartfelt smile from a loved one you have been longing to see. For myself its been the longing to walk past the village bakery in Greece to relive a moment that has lasted a life time.

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Now I know that you might be looking at these pictures thinking …..”she’s made rings, as well as rolls”, true I took the opportunity to make the Turkish “Simit” a bread ring that is heavily crusted with sesame seeds (which I was totally obsessed with eating at all hours of the day while in Turkey a few years ago).     I uses the same method of baking as the rolls. So be brave and try something different …ps they make the perfect edible napkin rings 🙂

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Sesame Seed Dinner Rolls

Ingredients:
1 Tbs milk powder
250ml water
40g Rice Bran Oil
40g Unsalted Butter melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
500g Bakers flour

Honey Wash:
2 teaspoon honey
2 Tablespoons water

Topping: Sesame seeds

Method:
Place in a bowl the flour, milk powder, dry yeast, sugar and salt mix well to combine all. Add the water, oil, melted butter, egg and mix. Using a standard mixer with a dough hook attachment knead till the dough looks smooth and elastic – on medium speed for approximately 6-8 minutes.

Cover the dough with cling film  to prevent forming a skin and leave to rest about 15 -20 minutes.

Divide the dough into 60g portion sized pieces. Shape each into a ball and allow to rest again for a further 10 minutes. Take each individual dough ball and press with your hand to open the dough to form a circle about the size of a teacup saucer. Then roll back again to the dinner roll shape.

Dissolve the honey and water. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on a small baking tray or flat dish.

Brush the tops of each dinner roll with the honey wash then roll the wet side in the sesame seeds.

Place on baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.

Allow the dough rolls a further 30 – 35 minutes to rise.

Preheated oven at least 15 minutes prior to use at 200 degrees Celsius. 

Just before baking, use a water filled spray bottle to spray a fine mist of water over all the dough rolls. Reduce the oven temperature at 170 degrees and bake the bread rolls until golden brown approximate baking time 12 – 18minute. (All depends how big you make to rolls)

Once baked place the rolls on cooling racks.

The only thing let to do is head to the fridge reach out for the butter, rip one of those freshly backed beauties apart and lay on the butter.

Pure Joy!

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Aromatic Braised Beef Pie

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Aromatic Braised Beef Pie
Ingredients
For the filling
2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5kg gravy beef, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
300g speck, rind removed and cut into thick strips
1 brown onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
125ml sherry
125ml port
250ml liquid beef stock
1 cup broad beans, peeled (use frozen if fresh unavailable)
1 herb bouquet consisting of 8 parsley sprigs, 1 large bay leaf, 3 sprigs of thyme, 2 whole cloves or allspice berries, 1 strip orange peel, wrapped and tied in cheesecloth
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
250g Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced

For the pastry
2½ cups plain flour, sifted
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
300g butter, chilled and diced
200ml sour cream
1 free-range egg yolk and 1 tablespoon milk, beaten, for the egg wash

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To serve

2–3 teaspoons sesame seeds
Utensils
25cm pie dish
Serves 8–10

Preparation Method

Heat the oil in a pressure cooker pan. Season the chopped beef with salt and pepper, then add to the pan with the speck, onion and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add the sherry, port, beef stock, broad beans and herb bouquet. Cook in the pressure cooker for approximately 25 minutes. Remove the herb bouquet and discard.

Place the butter in a separate pan, add the flour and cook it through (approximately 3 minutes). Begin adding some of the beef sauce from the pressure cooker, a little at a time, to form a rich, thick sauce. Add the beef and vegetable mixture and the mushrooms.

Simmer for a further 5 minutes, then remove from the heat. Allow to cool completely in the fridge.

Place the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and butter into a food processor bowl and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream through the feed tube and process until combined, adding a little water if necessary. Place the dough onto a floured board and knead lightly until smooth. Cut off one-third of the pastry and roll into a ball. Shape the remaining pastry into another ball. Wrap both balls then flatter out slightly wrap in cling wrap and rest the pastry for 20 minutes in the fridge.
Roll out the larger pastry ball. Line the pie tin with the pastry and place back in the fridge to rest. (A hint for rolling out pastry: spray your worktop with oil. Place a large piece of cling wrap on top and roll the pastry out onto it. This will make it easier to pick up.) Roll out the smaller piece of pastry onto baking paper, making it just a little wider to fit the top of the pie and allowing for enough pastry to be crimped around the edge. Place on a tray, cover with cling wrap and rest in the fridge until the filling is cold.
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Fill the pie case with the completely cold beef mixture. Top with the prepared lid. Crimp the edges. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes from any remaining pieces of pastry and decorate the lid. Make a few slits with a knife for the steam to escape. Brush the top of the pie with egg wash. Sprinkle the crimped edges with a generous amount of sesame seeds. Bake for 40—45 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the dish and serving.

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Fougasse…..Yes my guilty pleasure.

I have a confession to make, and if you haven’t guessed all ready “I love bread”.

Fougasse is one of those yeasted doughs Ive seen in books and watched bakers on food networks prepare and serve, Its always intrigued me. I have had it on my to-do list for a while now, I couldn’t think of anything better to make on a grey wet day like today.

Now I know Dan Lepard will not mind me putting one of his recipes to the “Recipe Review Test” so I have a copy of his book “Exceptional Breads” and on page 124 Roquefort and walnut fougasse. Just a little oversite on my part NO Roquefort and NO walnuts ……plain Fougasse with sesame seeds it is.

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The dough is a little softer and stickier but don’t be tempted to add more flour than required. Before flipping it onto the sesame seeds brush with a little water……thats all just a little water and rest the wet side onto the sesame seeds. Lift and flip again place on a baking tray.

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Be a little gentle with this dough it has a lovely tender texture, I have used my kitchen scissors to cut 7 to 8 slashes to create the design just putting the tip into the dough to make the hole then just pulling it into the required shape.

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Put them on the baking tray and let them rest for about 20 minutes or till they have risen again about half their size again.  Into a preheated oven at a lovely hot 220 degrees they go to bake for a further 15 – 20 minutes and the result is an amazing golden almost soft pretzel like delight. If you can let them rest on a cooling rack after they come out of the oven you are a more restrained baker than I am.

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Happy baking, and thanks for the inspiration Dan Leopard.

Christmas Baking Classes

I have always said that nothing say’s “I love you” or “I Care” or just “Thank you”
like a gift from home.

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This Christmas Baking Class will sure put a smile on everyones face with the gorgeous desserts you will learn to:

Make, Bake, Decorate and at the end of class

Take Home a wonderful sample selection of everything you have made.

BOOK NOW!

A: “Best of Bake Off”

Next Class: December, Sunday, 15th from 9.00am till 3.30pm

Only 8 places available per class.

At: LG Kitchen, Shop 90, Cecil Street, South Melbourne Market

$160 per person

A Best of Bake Off 15:12

A: In this class you will learn to make:

· Gluten Free Spiced Raspberry Tart

· Baked Honey Blossom Cheese Cake

· Choc-Orange Mini Tarts

·Mango and Raspberry Tarts

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BOOK NOW!

B: Christmas Desserts

Next Class: December, Sunday, 22nd from 9.00am till 3.30pm

Only 8 places available per class.

At: LG Kitchen, Shop 90, Cecil Street, South Melbourne Market

$180 per person

B Christmas Desserts Class 22:12

 B: In this class you will learn to make:

· Baked Honey Blossom Cheese Cake

· Tropical Meringue and White Chocolate Trifle *(Bowl will be provided)

· Red Velvet Swiss Roll with White Chocolate and Mascarpone cream

·Fancy Gingerbread Cookies

In this class you will learn:

· Techniques and recipes for home use

· Create your own unique decorations

· Rolling, cutting, baking dough

· Intricate assembly techniques

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Please email your preference for:

Class  A on Sunday 15th of December 9.00am – 3.30pm

Class B  on Sunday 22nd of December 9.00am – 3.30pm

*Please note that appropriate clothing must be worn at all times, including closed-toe footwear, preferably no loose garments or extra jewellery.

*Please do not make travel arrangements until your class has been confirmed. We do not offer refunds for classes once your payment has been processed.

*Please note participants must be 18 years of age or over.

*Note: GIFT VOUCHER ARE AVAILABLE AND WILL BE SENT VIA EMAIL – MINIMUM $10.00
Vouchers are valid for a period of 365 day(s) from date of purchase.

Sugar and Spice Gingerbread

To say that there is a special place in my heart for gingerbread would be an understatement. While baking my house is filled with the sweet spicy aromas of ginger, cinnamon and clove. I think its a warmth that touches your heart and soothes the soul that feeling of comfort and security….who would of thought that a humble biscuit was this and so much more. Christmas must be around the corner but when I really think about it there’s no need to wait gingerbread is lovely any time of the year.

Ginger Bread House and Template

  Gingerbread Dough:

100g butter chopped

1 cup Brown Sugar (Firmly packed)

1/2 cup Molasses

1/2 cup Golden Syrup

1 egg (lightly whisked)

4.5 – 5 cup Plain Flour (extra for dusting)

1 Tablespoons Ground Ginger

1 Tablespoons Cinnamon

1 Tablespoons Ground Cloves

1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda

Royal Icing:

1 x Queen Royal Icing (Instant mix)

Method:

1: Place butter, brown sugar, Molasses and Golden Syrup in a saucepan over low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Set aside for 10 min to cool. Add the egg well.

2: Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and bicarbonate of soda. Add to the butter and egg mixture. Combine all and knead until smooth. Alternatively –  pour the butter mix into the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment and on slow add the flour mix till all comes together.

3: Wrap the dough in food plastic flatten out into a disc shape and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4: Preheat oven to 180C. Roll portions of the dough out directly onto the baking paper about 3 – 4 millimetres thick.

5: Use the template to guide you and cut out the shapes required,  remove excess ginger bread dough.  Place another piece of baking paper over the dough and cover with another baking tray. (this will help to keep the gingerbread flat).

6: Bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Once baked use the template to guide you once again and trim any edges straight. Please note the gingerbread will still be soft and Very Very Very HOT! so take care.  Once trimmed transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

7: Decorate the baked ginger bread and set aside to set before assembling the structure.

After you have cut all your Gingerbread pieces any remaining dough would make perfect gingerbread figurines to enjoy with a cup of tea while showing off your masterpiece.

The decorations are really all up to you.

I have used stencils as well as the:

Queen Royal Icing

Queen Pansies

Queen Soft Sugar Pearls – Pink

Which you can find in most supermarkets in the baking section.

Biscotti – Pistachio and Cranberry

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More and more I look at these biscotti I am reminded that the festive season is quickly descending upon us. With all those flecks of red and green it must only mean one thing “Christmas”. Maybe I have found a wonderful solutions for the gift giving season. A gift from home to treat the taste buds for friends and colleagues to enjoy.

“That little something that means so very much, a gift from the oven is a gift from the heart”.

I have always maintained that my desire to bake has always been fuelled by the need to share, create something delicious and enjoy it with friends and family.

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Pistachio and Cranberry Biscotti

Ingredients

For the biscotti base

250g Plain Flour or Biscuit Flour

½ teaspoon Baking powder

220g Caster Sugar

3  Eggs, lightly beaten

200g Pistachios, chopped

125g Dried Cranberries, chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C Degrees
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl and add the eggs slowly to make a dough.
  3. Add the chopped pistachio and cranberry lemon zest and vanilla extract
  4. Knead the mixture gently and then separate and roll into two logs.
  5. Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven.
  6. Cool slightly and cut into 1-2cm thick slices.
  7. Reduce the heat of the oven to 150C return to the tray to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, turn each biscotti over and continue to bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden-brown.
  8. Serve the hot chocolate sauce in a cup with the biscotti on the side to dunk in.

*Note: The biscotti batter may look a little wet. To shape the batter wet your hands a little to stop the dough from sticking and shape in a log.

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Having had so much success with Merry Berry’s Creme Caramel recipe I thought it would only be fair to test one of Paul’s recipes and Im so glad I did its simply wonderful. The Biscotti has all the flavour of freshly roasted nuts and an abundance of sugar to satisfy any sweet tooth. Do I dare to say that I have made a few little changes to the original recipe but without any disruption to the value of satisfaction.  Another recipe keeper!

This recipe was inspired by Paul Hollywood

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