Coconut Blossom Caramel Sauce


CSR SUGAR Australia has released a beautiful range of traditionally farmed sugars. Each one with its deep rich and delicate notes of caramel, butterscotch, toffee and treacle. The unique molasses content in each gives the unrefined sugar its golden colour and decadent flavour.

So I thought I’d put it to the test!

I adore this recipe it can be use in cakes and buttercreams or warmed and drizzled over ice cream, puddings or eaten straight up with your favourite spoon or simply smear over toast.

IMG_20151027_104225

Be creative Ive made this recipe with all of the different sugars and each time its been a delicious result. So make a caramel sauce to suit your personality and your taste buds.

France – French Caster Sugar

Colombia – Panela Sugar

Sri Lanka – Rapadura Sugar

Indonesia – Coconut Blossom Sugar

Australia – Muscovado Sugar

IMG_20151027_103919

COCONUT BLOSSOM CARAMEL SAUCE

Makes about 1  1/2 cups

UTENSILS

1 x 2 Liter Heavy base saucepan

1 Candy Thermometer

1 Whisk

1 Heatproof jar with lid to store your caramel

INGREDIENTS

125g Cream

60g  French Caster Sugar

60g Coconut Blossom Sugar

60g Unsalted Butter

45g Glucose

1/4 tsp Salt

——————————–

1/2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste

125g Cream

METHOD

Bring the 125g Cream, sugar, butter, glucose and salt into the heavy base saucepan uncovered over medium to high heat. Once the sugar has dissolved  whisk the mixture just a few times to combine and continue to boil till the mixture reaches 120 Degrees Celsius take off heat.

Add the vanilla and cream in a thin stream while whisking constantly till well combined. Place back on the heat and boil again. Remove from heat straight away. Allow to cool for a moment.

Pour the caramel into a heat proof container.

Leave to cool then cover it tightly and store in refrigerator.

Re-heat to use.

Don’t forget this caramel sauce makes a great gift too!

Enjoy 🙂

Advertisements

Good Bye 2013…..Hello 2014

It would be difficult not to look back at all the events of 2013 and wonder…..WOW how did all that happen?

Though the filming of “The Great Australian bake Off” was over a year ago now, 2013 truly was an amazing year, but it all started in 2012. No sooner did the new year begin when I received notification to be part of a taste test team for the “Australian Good Taste Magazine” in January, March and April. Not having ever entered any type of competition before June and July “Cook The Issue” was advertised, now I was cooking with gusto, writing up my take on recipes and taking photos of the food I had cooked. Posting photos on line and reading the amazing comments and meeting extraordinary home cooks along the way. I loved every minute of it. I was home cooking in my own kitchen over two months and 90 recipes later also equated to many cold dinners because unfortunately as I attempted to take the all important picture just before serving diner every time. I began a new facebook page and then my blog “Food from Home Blog” social media was all around me twitter was next.

The day of the cooking competition finals held in Sydney, I received a phone call. An invitation to my application to audition for “The Great Australian Bake Off”. I have to tell you all that I applied to be on the show as a favour to my dear cousin in law Patricia and now Im so glad I took her advice. After two auditions and a nervous wait filming began in November 2012. I feel like Ive entered the twilight zone Im going backwards just to go forwards….Hmmmm! After waiting almost seven months the show finally went to air in 2013, my phone went into meltdown as I didn’t tell any family or friends what I had been up to and the first commercial, which went to air on my birthday, caught everyone by surprise (and me) which I admit was fun listening and reading text of their reactions. With my nearest and dearest we all gathered at a local pub/restaurant to watch the first episode. The owners of the premisses had no idea why a large group of people were cheering and clapping while all gathered around watching a Baking Show! Now football they could understand, but this was cupcakes. Oh the confusion it must have caused. I even received messages that my home town in country South Australia was watching the show with fingers crossed.

As the weeks went by, I watched the person on TV, the other me! I felt the heartbreak and the joy all over again along with a few little anomalies which as time goes by you understand as “Some things make for good TV” little moments that Im sure never happened or did they? I was and always will be proud of every moment end every recipe I baked on the show. My three goals were met firstly 1: Don’t burn down he kitchen 2: Beat the clock and always have something lovely to present to the judges and 3: Get to the final three.  Getting into the final three was the pinnacle moment I could have walked away at that moment because I was happy. To everyone that wished I had won all I can say is thank you from the depth of my heart. I have always vowed not to over use this word but it has been a “JOURNEY” and I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people.

During 2013 I have judged at competitions, given talks, and answered your wonderful questions. I have demonstrated some of my slightly unorthodox baking methods and drawn amazing crowds at the Royal Melbourne Show and Cake Expos. Meeting Julie Goodwin, Marion Grasby and Anna- Maria from Planet Cakes and filming with Paul Mercurio and listened to their very valuable advice, were a few of the highlights, but the best is still yet to come. I was asked to make cakes for special charity events like “Red Cake Day” and support kids with cancer “Camp Quality”. I have even managed to enter a cake decorating competition and my prize is a meet and greet with one of Melbourne’s best pastry chefs Pierrick Bower at “Le Petit Gateau”.  I am teaching my very own baking classes, and baking at the local Cafe and loving every minute of it. Im on a quest with the “Band of Bakers Australia” to rediscover recipes and uncover flavour sensations from amazing home bakers, bringing together the baking community in the city and the country. Promoting the benefits of home economics taught as a subject at schools not just an elective a valuable life lesson not to be underestimated. Im looking forward to 2014 and looking forward to catching up with you all again. Cheers and Happy New Year to all the Home Bakers, Cooks and household restaurants Chefs everywhere. 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Red Cake Day – Haemophilia Awareness Week

There are moments when you are presented with an opportunity to be involved in an event that has a wonderful purpose. The Haemophilia Foundation Australia has honoured me with the opportunity to design and make a cake to launch

“Haemophilia  Awareness Week”

Red Cake Day

BWfwpkUCcAACuwa.jpg-medium

998418_601306269909180_1330175045_n

After drawing countless designs I finally settled on the one I thought would best represent the theme of the event. This has been the largest cake I have ever attempted but I was looking forward to the challenge with great anticipation.

There is something special about working with RTR or ready to roll fondant its the moulding clay of the cake world. With my design in hand it was time to start the construction. A 5 tiered double barrel tower.

20131012_170854

After approximately 35 hours countless flower petals, pipping and stencilling the “Red Cake Day” cake was finished.

20131013_192856

I would like to take the opportunity to sincerely thank this wonderful team.

20131014_083313

Haemophilia is a lifelong challenge which can be disabling and life-threatening without treatment. Your support during Haemophilia Awarness Week and Red Cake Day will help young Australians affected by haemophilia. To lend a hand please visit: http://www.haemophilia.org.au/redcakeday

Episode 7: The Great Australian Bake Off – Pastry and a little Gluten free


Signature Bake Challenge was all about  Gluten Free. 

I have always lover the traditional Linzer tart its one of the worlds oldest recorded recipes. This inspired me to take something old and make it new, well the best way I know how.  Off course if you don’t like raspberry you can make strawberry jam or even plum it all works beautifully together. The pastry is lovely to work with and no rolling pin required.

“Spiced Raspberry Tart”

13_mariatart

1146536_434098646706378_1619758067_n

Shane’s in love with raspberry jam!

16282_434098886706354_100309812_n

We are all enjoying some of Monique’s left over figs…..delicious!

Technical Bake Time!

556466_10151625728674150_250230391_n

The dreaded technical bake was soon to follow, the French crescent moon the Croissants!  Even though it caught us by surprise it was the first time I felt a little at easy. This was the first technical bake that I had made at home and even though it was almost 10 years ago for the first time I felt a little confident…..as scary as that sounds.  My croissants didn’t fail me they were golden and flaky all puffed up Im sure I made this french pastry proud. Judgment time and they got “1st” YAY!

1150137_10151625733499150_26372314_n

The ALL important “SHOWSTOPPER”

20130817_172631_4_bestshot

“STRUDEL” I think I can still hear host Shane saying “STRUDEL”

I had watched my grandmother and mother use the method of stretching the wet dough to make these supper fine sheets it take patience and a very large table. But in my wisdom I chose to make the Filo Pastry the traditional way using a very thin long rolling pin and a copious amount of cornflour which helps to stop the pastry from sticking together. Once this process has been completed each sheet is coated in golden melted butter to help the sheets cook and crisp through as well as add enough flavour to appease and French pallet. The real challenge with a strudel “no-mater” what the filling is the final presentation and I think a simple stencil and some sugared cinnamon was just the touch my strudel needed.

20130820_212322

546896_10151625752319150_1877066558_n

4_studdlefig

RECIPE!

20130817_173926_2

Gluten Free – Spiced Raspberry Tart

Ingredients

Serves 10 – 12
For the pastry
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 250g gluten-free flour
  • pinch of baking powder
  • pinch of bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 teaspoons icing sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 200g butter
  • 1 free-range egg yolk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • zest of 1 lemon
For the jam
  • 1kg raspberries
  • 1kg A1 sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¾ x 50g packet Jamsetta (pectin)
To finish
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 free-range egg yolk, beaten, for the egg wash
  • cinnamon and stencil for dusting
Utensil
  • 1 x 25cm fluted loose-based flan tin

Preparation Method

Place the almond meal, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, icing sugar, spices and butter into a food processor bowl and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk through the feed tube and process until combined. Split the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the dough along with the lemon zest.

Place the dough onto a floured worktop and knead lightly until smooth. Cut off one-third and roll into a ball. Shape the remaining pastry into another ball. Wrap in cling wrap and chill for 20 minutes.

Roll out the larger pastry ball. Line the tin, then place it back in the fridge to rest the pastry. (A hint for rolling out this pastry, as it is quite crumbly: 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. Cut a small circle (18cm) to sit on top of the tart. Chill the base and top for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Wash the raspberries. Place the sugar in a deep pan and heat in the oven for 6 minutes. Place the raspberries in a separate heavy- based pan with the water and lemon juice. Mash the fruit and add the warmed sugar and Jamsetta, stirring constantly. Bring to the boil and cook, bubbling, for 5—10 minutes. Skim off any scum and discard. (To test if the jam is set, place 3 saucers in the freezer. Once cold, place 1 level teaspoon of jam on the first saucer. If set, the jam should wrinkle once cool; if not continue cooking for a further 3 minutes and test again on a fresh saucer.)

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Fill the chilled pastry case with the jam and cover with the decorated circle of pastry. Place almonds around the circle. Brush the pastry with egg wash and bake for 20—25 minutes. Decorate by sifting the cinnamon over the stencil before serving.

Thank you to judges Kerry Vincent and Dan Lepard

for there wonderful comments and off course being chosen as STAR BAKER.

13_mariatart

Episode 6: The Great Australian Bake Off – Time for Dessert

Red Velvet “Sweet Heart’s” Cake

1146461_222165601270514_931772242_n

As six Home bakers remained our next challenge was all about dessert.

As you would have see and heard this particular showstopper was always destined to be my favourite. Everything about this cake for me said romance the colour, the flavour down to the decorations. We had five hours to make bake, frost and decorate!

Image

Image

Red Velvet Engagement Cake
(Serves 60–80)

Ingredients

For the first cake
  • 1 cup rice bran oil
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons red food dye
  • 3 cups self-raising flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1¼ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 1¼ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1¼ teaspoons white vinegar
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk
For the second cake
  • 1 cup rice bran oil
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons dark cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoons red food dye
  • 3 cups self-raising flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1¼ teaspoons vanilla bean paste
  • 1¼ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1¼ teaspoons white vinegar
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk
For the third cake
  • ½ cup rice bran oil
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • ¾ tablespoon dark cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons red food dye
  • 1½ cups self-raising flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 large free-range egg plus 1 yolk
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
For the frosting and filling
  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 500g cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
To finish
  • white fondant
  • quilting tool
  • royal icing
  • red gel food dye
  • stencils
  • 12 red roses
  • florist tape
  • lustre dust
Utensils
  • 2 x 25cm, 2 x 20cm and 2 x 15cm cake tins, greased and lined with baking paper
  • wooden dowel

Preparation Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C. To make the first batter, combine the oil, sugar, cocoa, food dye, flour, salt, vanilla, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer and mix on low speed. Increase the speed to medium. Add the eggs one at a time, until combined. Slowly add the buttermilk to make a thick batter. Pour into a 25cm and a 20cm tin and bake for 40—45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Make the second batter (the same way) and pour into the second 25cm and 20cm tins. Bake as above. Make the third batter and divide between the two 15cm tins. Bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Add the icing sugar a few spoonfuls at a time, beating until light and fluffy. Cut each cake in half and fill with frosting, then sandwich back together. Place frosting between each of the same-sized cakes to sandwich together and form a tier. Place each tier on a matching-sized cake board secured with a little frosting. Cover the top and sides of each tier with cream cheese frosting and place in the fridge to set. (You will now have three frosting-covered tiers.)

Roll out the white fondant until smooth and cover the base tier and the top tier. Using a quilting tool, add decoration to the base tier. Pipe a fine lacework pattern of dots on the top tier using royal icing. Add enough red food gel to make bright red fondant, knead well and roll out to cover the middle cake tier. Smooth. Cut out red fondant hearts, stencil with patterns and secure to the red tier with royal icing.

When ready to assemble, insert 3—4 wooden dowel pieces, cut to size, in the base tier to support the middle tier. Put the middle tier in place. Add more dowel pieces, cut to size, to the middle tier to support the top tier. Place the final tier on top. Finish the cake by topping with red roses wrapped in plastic or florist tape (so the stems do not touch the cake). Sprinkle a little lustre dust over the roses.

Image

 The Signature Challenge – Cheesecake

Through out these challenges week after week I have always tried to create something that everyone can be inspired to bake at home, no fancy gadgets or unattainable complex ingredients. I have tried my best to show how I bake at home. This cheese cake has all the citrus notes of both orange and lemon, the sweet fragrance of honey and spice. Well it all begins with a picture!

Image

A step by step view

10_maria

Image

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Honey & Orange Blossem Rose

Ingredients List:

Please supply us with an ingredients list for your Baked Cheesecake (below)

Base:

1 pkt Ginger nut biscuits (Crushed)

1 t Cinnamon powder

100g Butter (Melted)

Filling:

750g Cream Cheese (Room temperature)

1 c Caster Sugar

1 T Orange Blossom Water

1 each Orange and Lemon Zest (fine)

1/4 c Milk

3 eggs

1/2 c Light Sour Cream

1 T Vanilla Bean Paste

Honey Jelly:

100 ml Hot Water

1 T Gelatine

300 ml Water

2 T Honey

2 Drops of Queens Rose Pink Food Colouring

1 T Rose Water

1: Put 100ml of hot water and gelatine stir to dilute add sugar, honey and food colouring. Add 300ml of cold water and stir to combine. Allow the jelly to come to room temperature.

2: Allow to cool slightly before pouring onto the cheese cake. Place the cheese cake in the fridge to set before piping the cream.

Topping: Whipped Cream

1 1/2 c Cream

2 T Icing Sugar

Garnish:

Fresh 8 x Pink and 8 x Yellow Rose petals (few extra of each)

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 170C. Bake for 50 minutes in a water bath.

Grease and line with baking paper one 10 inch springform cake tin outer base covered with foil, to be placed in a deep baking dish for a water bath.

1: Place all in a food processor add the crushed biscuits and melted butter and pulse till fine crumbs. Press an even layer into the base of the cake tin its optional but you can line the sides too.

2: Using a large standard mixer (medium speed) cream together the cream cheese, sugar, zest of lemon and orange and the orange blossom water until smooth.

3: Add the milk and beat till smooth (on low to start).  Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add the sour cream, vanilla bean paste beat until combined.

4: Pour the cheese mixture into the cake tin. Making sure that the cake tin is water proofed with the addition of foil wrapped around and up the sides of the outer edges. Place the cake tin into a deep dish and add hot water about a third of the way up around the tin.

5: Bake for approximately 50 minutes, leave the cheesecake to cool completely, place in the fridge, to firm before decorating (preferably overnight but at least 4 hours).

6: Whip the cream till almost thickened and them add the icing sugar to sweeten. Fill a piping bag with the whipped cream and pipe a neat circle around the edge. Place it back in the fridge again. Make the honey jelly as you are using hot water leave the jelly to come to room temperature before pouring it slowly into the inner edges of the cold cheesecake leave in the fridge to set.

7: Once the jelly has set pipe large rosettes of cream around the edge of the cheesecake about 8 equally spaced (approximately the size of a 20 cent piece). Place pink and yellow rose petal on the cream swirl all round the cake.

Ta-Dah! I hope you enjoy my recipe!

A word of advice once you have made “HOME MADE CHEESECAKE” nothing will ever taste as good!

1000577_590362747683220_1896086188_n

6_fivebakers

Episode 5: The great Australian Bake Off – Bread

 Its all about BREAD!

I cant help but love this episode, bread is such a staple in our home. My signature bake is a bread that I bake often and it always takes pride of place on the dinner table and equally for a picnic served hot or cold. Although I have always enjoyed the traditional flavours of the Spanakopita filling I don’t feel restricted. I have added roasted pumpkin, sun-dried tomatoes and chorizo to this mix and the result has always been delicious.

This morning I baked on the Channel 9 Mornings program, with a backdrop of Greek flags and Ben and Sarah having lots of fun smashing plates and the Zorba music playing in the background I felt a real sense of pride for my Greek heritage.  A proud overwhelming feeling of joy that I am able to share this recipe with you all!

Image

Watch a very quick step by step taping on how to make the Platted Spanakopita Bread

7_bread

http://channelnine.ninemsn.com.au/blog.aspx?blogentryid=1134330&showcomments=true

Platted Spanakopita Bread – Free Form Yeast Loaf

Ingredients List:
2 t Dry yeast
1 t Caster Sugar
2 1/2 c Bakers Flour
1 teaspoon Bread improver
1 t salt
1 c Water
1 T olive oil
Egg-wash:
1 egg yolk
1 T Milk
2 T Sesame seeds
Filling
1 Bunch Fresh Spinach
300g Danish Feta
3/4 cup Grated Mozzarella, Parmesan and Cheddar Cheese
2 Tablespoons Fresh Dill (Chopped)
2 Tablespoons Fresh Mint (Chopped)
1 Spring Onion (thinly sliced)
2 Tablespoons Pine nuts
Freshly ground Black Pepper
 
Method:
1: To make the dough. Attach the dough hook on your standard electric mixer. In the mixing blow add the dry ingredients, yeast, sugar, flour, bread improver and salt in a bowl. Mix all ingredients very well then add the water and oil.  Should take about 5 minutes.
2: Mix all the dough ingredients together till the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl this should take about 5 minutes.
3: Once the dough looks elastic, place it into an oiled bowl cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying and set aside in a warm place draft and light free till doubled in size.
4: Meanwhile to make the filling. Wash the spinach leaves and remove all of the stalk. Slice the spinach taking care to remove excess moisture from the leaves place in a large bowl. Add to this the crumble the feta the pine nuts,  grated cheeses chopped fresh mint and dill and thinly sliced spring onion. Mix all well.
5: Preheat the oven to 200C (please note that most ovens need about 15 – 20 minutes to reach maximum temperature)
6: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface or onto a piece of baking paper (the same size as the baking tray you are going to use) and flatten out the dough with the palms of your hands to form a rectangle shape approximately 40cm x 30cm allow the dough to rest for a minute before adding the filling.
7: To cut the dough ready for the braid first remember to leave a 10cm width of dough uncut down the middle of the dough as this is where the filling will sit. Cut with a knife 8 by 8 cm lines on the left and right side of the dough creating eight fingers on either side these will be used to wrap over the filling creating the braid.
8: Add the filling straight down the centre of the dough. Then pick up one strand at a time alternating as you go and criss cross pushing each braid finger into the inner edge to anchor down.
9: Line a flat baking tray with baking paper place the braided bread onto the tray and allow it to rest for a further 15 minutes (this is the proving time) lightly cover the braided bread with some plastic wrap and set aside in a warm area that has little draft or light.

 

10: Once the dough has rested and almost doubled in size again brush on the egg wash sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until golden.
Image
Image
1002178_428565180593058_1517203292_n
Image
Orange and Walnut Rosettes makes 12 (large muffing size)
Ingredients:
For the dough
  • 3 x 7g sachet dried yeast
  • 250ml lukewarm milk
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 5 cups plain flour, sifted, plus extra for kneading
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 125g butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2½ tablespoons caster sugar
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the topping
  • 1 free-range egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for the egg wash
Utensils
  • 1 x 12-hole large muffin tray, lined with paper muffin cases

Method

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk, beat in the eggs, and then mix in the flour, sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and vanilla and mix until evenly combined (it is easiest to use your hands). Cover and leave in a warm place until risen by half (about 30 minutes).

Combine the orange filling ingredients and chill to keep firm but still spreadable.

Gently flatten the dough and cut it into 12 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a rectangle about 8 x 24cm. Spread the orange filling ingredients along the centre of the dough. Fold the dough over the filling to encase it.

To make the rosette, tie the dough into a knot, wrapping the top loose end of the knot under the roll and pushing the bottom loose end firmly into the centre of the roll. Place each rosette on the baking tray. Cover and leave somewhere warm until almost doubled (approximately 30 minutes).

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush the rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts (if using). Bake for 25 minutes or until the rolls are golden and sound hollow when tapped underneath.

Episode 3: The Great Australian Bake Off – Gingerbread

The important lesson here is that there is a difference between the lovely aromatic soft and chewy gingerbread biscuit you can make or buy form the store and the type of recipe required to construct a house, tower or multiple piece structure. I loved the idea of Monique’s “City of Churches” construction to say the least it would have been adorable had she used a different recipe. The gingerbread was too soft and she was unable to get the panels to hold up to the weight, coupled with the fact that it was a warm day and the chocolate that was smeared on the panels didn’t set completely and added no support, such a shame.

There is a difference!

Using the correct type of gingerbread recipe will produce pieces that after baked will have a dryer, brittle, crunchy texture and therefore you will need to use a template to cut out all the necessary pieces for your structure before baking. Then allow them to cool completely before beginning your construction.  Your gingerbread pieces will need to be bonded together and hold weight of other pieces or the addition of decorative items like lollies or chocolate etc.

It’s also important to note that just because the texture of the gingerbread is dryer, the flavour and heady smell of spices is still present. The joy of taking part in devouring the gingerbread loses none of its festive appeal, especially when its accompanied by a great cup of tea or coffee or just a little something sweet for morning tea.

These are some of the amazing gingerbread constructions I have come across in my travels. Each and everyone of them were constructed with multiple pieces and generous amounts of colourful sweets to entice a smile from your inner child. I wonder what Hansel and Gretel thought when confronted with these gingerbread houses!

My very first Gingerbread house

Although a very traditional construction the end result was confronted with two dilemmas, the house looked too cute to destroy and secondly, who was going to be the first to begin the destruction. As I had made the gingerbread house the task was put upon me. “Quick, we need a cup of tea please”.

Gingerbread Spices

The traditional spices used in gingerbread have always been:

Ground Ginger

Ground Cinnamon

Ground Cloves

As every construction will need a different quantity its best to make smaller portions of the gingerbread dough and if you have any left over dough use a cookie cutter and make delicious biscuits. Just remember be mind full of the time as smaller pieces bake quicker than the larger ones.

This is a picture of the “Eiffel Tower in Bloom” the construction I made on episode 3 of “The Great Australian Bake Off”. Although I am still a little disappointed having to alter the overall look of the tower at the last minute. Im still very proud of the effort under such a trying environment……I would still happily sit bake with my favourite hot beverage and enjoy eating it!

ep3_10_mariastower

maria ep1 969343_10151547185759150_32456383_n ContestantsWalk

Episode 2: The Great Australian Bake Off – “Pie” How to avoid a soggy bottom!

Aromatic Braised Beef Pie with Swiss Brown Mushrooms & Broad beans

S_BraisedBeef

For the recipe to my Aromatic Braised Beef Pie and other contestants pies please follow the link bellow.

Maria’s Aromatic Braised Beef Pieninem.snPie Recipe

Image

71857_212338778919863_1764402329_n

Pie Week!

When I think winter baking, I think PIE!

Apple pie, Chicken pie and Beef pie these are the three pies that are bake almost traditionally in our house hold and every year there is always a little twist on the filling something new or just the delicious original recipes!

Its important to note that the publishers decided to change my pie recipe slightly but either way you make it will still be delicious. Choosing to make only the pie top still has many of the same principals and I will list a few helpful hints to avoid the dreaded soggy pastry!

Image

 These are my top hints to remember when preparing pastry: For a Home baked Pie! 

1: Once you have made your pastry wrap it in plastic wrap and allow it to rest in the fridge for 10 – 15 minutes. Remember this type of pastry just needs to be gently pressed together NO KNEADING you don’t want to encourage the gluten to form any quicker or risk melting the butter with warm hands and overworking the dough.

2: After you have rolled out your pastry and covered the base and sides of the pie tin have a close look at the pastry if you think it looks a little thin in areas then use the excess bits of pastry to patch these areas and make them thicker.

3:Brush the pastry with egg white then place the pastry back into to fridge to cool and rest for a further 10 minutes. Doing this will further stop the pastry from becoming soggy.

4: Always completely cool your pre-cooked pie filling before adding it to your pie case. If the filling is even slightly warm it will melt the butter in the pastry and soak through hence the dreaded SOGGY BOTTOM!

5: Always Pre-heat your oven before baking. The oven will need up to 10 – 20 minutes to reach the temperature required to begin baking. An internal hanging oven thermometer is great if you are unsure.

I have always maintained that baking if FUN and the results of your labour are truly worth the effort but baking is not quick!                    It is essential to follow these simple rules as even the simplest recipe has crucial steps.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

The Showstopper Challenge – Party Pies, Pasties and Sausage Rolls

Party Pies and Pasties

These are my assorted savoury party treats.

The Checkerboard Cake – Step by Step

20130714_194524

Now as you look through the pictures you will notice that there is another baker in the house today. My husband who has never baked before has chosen to spend the cold wet Melbourne day baking. He has been all inspired by the checkerboard cake and decided that this was going to be todays challenge!

For this recipe please click on the link below.

Recipesgabo.ninemsn.com.auFancy a bit of baking? Download recipes from Australia’s biggest baking reality series and try your hand at recreating them at home.

These are a few step by step pictures to help you along when making this cake and also some tips and hints to remember.

Step 1

Preparation is the key to all successful bakes,

Pre-heat the oven

Measure out all your ingredients

 Prepare your baking tins

Unless otherwise requested all ingredients should be at room temperature.

Step 2

You begin by aerating the butter, sugar and oil, till pale in colour and has a fluffy appearance add the eggs one at a time and remember to stop the mixer and scrap down the sides and  bottom of the bowl making sure all ingredients are mixed in well

I have chosen to alternate the addition of the dry ingredients – Flour and wet – Milk and juice while the mixer is on a medium speed

Divide the batter between the two cake tins and bake for approximately 45minutes

Please try NOT to open the oven door till your cake is at least 3/4 of the way through its set baking time…..resist the temptation to open the oven door!

Use a metal or wooden skewer to pierce the centre of the cake, it should come out clean if its sticky then leave the cake in the oven for a further 5 minutes and try again.

Once the cakes have baked allow them to cool in the tin for 5 – 10 minutes then flip them onto a cooling rack

Follow the same steps to make the Chocolate cakes

Step 3

While the final cakes are baking its time to prepare the Chocolate frosting

Bring the butter, water and brown sugar to a simmer, if the liquid has accidentally boiled remove it from the heat and allow it to cool down a bit before adding the chocolate (If you add the chocolate into boiling liquid it will burn and become grainy in texture) Once you have added the chocolate use a whisk and keep stirring till the chocolate and butter liquids become smooth and glossy…..YUM!

Pour it into another bowl and set aside to thicken and become spreadable

A copy of the template is in The Great Australian Bake Off Book that you can trace to use

20130714_141947

Step 4

To get perfect looking squares you need to level the cakes first, this will require slicing the tops off all four cakes so that they are now flat and equal height

Once all the cakes are level, use the template to guide you around cutting the rings. Take your time its delicate and a little fiddly but so worth the effort.

Ok as a little reward for all that cutting and levelling stirring and baking I think a little tasting is in order.

20130714_171344

Step 5

The assembly is a the fun part all the cakes are cut so its time to apply the frosting around the edges of the inner circles and reconstructing the cakes. You will need to alternate the colours to achieve the desired checkerboard result.

After completing each cake a good layer of frosting is spread and the next cake is constructed on top.

*Just a note you need enough frosting so that the rings will stick together but not so much frosting that the cake is swimming in frosting.

Step 6

Reserve about 3/4 cup Chocolate frosting for final decorations (set aside)

Once the cake has been constructed its time to pour the remaining frosting over the cake and using a pallet knife or cake decorating spatula evenly distribute the frosting around the cake

At this point you might like to experiment with different patterns like creating swirls, lines or just making the edges smooth

Using a piping bag with a star tip decorate the edges and grate some orange zest around the edge, this is the fun part and its entirely up to you

This is the sensational finished result………and what looks like one very exhausted but very proud Baker!

Prior to The Great Australian Bake Off I too have always seen and heard of the checkerboard cake but never attempted it. It is a gorgeous cake and the possibilities are endless when it comes to flavours although I love Chocolate & Orange I think I might make a Chocolate & Mint one in the very near future. I hope you all take the opportunity to bake the Checkerboard cake too. Enjoy.

2013-07-12 23.39.08

Episode 1: The Great Australian Bake Off – Cake

Children’s Party Cake

Vanilla and Raspberry Marble Cake with Pink Chocolate Mousse

Image

I wanted to make a wonderful girly cake that had bursts of pink, butterflies and flowers a magical garden that would sparkle and delight. The original design had might I say alot more decorations on the cake but under the circumstances Im proud of my cake and delighted by the judges Kerry Vincent and Dan Lepards comments. I hope you all enjoy it too!

Image

1 quantity of batter for a 10inch cake pan or two 7inch cake tins.

This cake will require 3 quantities of batter I made two 10 inch cakes and two 7 inch cakes.

Cake

Ingredients:

3/4 cup Rice Bran Oil

1 3/4 cup Caster Sugar

4 Eggs and 2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon Queen Vanilla Bean Paste

3 cups Lighthouse SR Cake Flour

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1 1/4 cups Buttermilk

2 teaspoons Raspberry Flavouring (available in most cake decorating stores)

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180C

Grease and line a 10 inch cake tin or two 7 inch tins with baking paper and set aside

1: Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside

2: Beat the sugar and eggs together till light and fluffy then add the oil and vanilla

3: Begin adding the flour and buttermilk alternating, mixing on a low speed so as to fold through to a smooth batter

4: Remove 1/2 a cup of batter and put aside in a bowl, pour the remaining cake batter into the cake tin

5: Add the raspberry flavouring to the reserved cake batter and mix well, pour this in a continuous stream over the vanilla batter and using a butter knife zig zag through to create a marble effect (remember not to over mix)

6: Bake for approximately 45 -50 minutes for a 10 inch cake 35 minutes for the 7 inch cake or till a skewer that has been inserted in the middle comes out clean

7: Once the cake has been baked allow it to cool completely in the tin before removing

Pink Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients:

750g Nestle White Chocolate

2 1/2 cups Cream

2 – 3 drops Pink food Colour

Method:

1: Bring 1 cup of cream to a simmer and pour over the chocolate stirring till the chocolate has melted and the cream are now a smooth paste. Set aside to cool to room temperate

2:  Whip the remaining cream and allow it to come to room temperature ( if the cream is too cold when you fold through the chocolate may seize and become grainy in texture) Fold through the chocolate mix and the whipped cream ( try not to over mix as you will loose the air out of the whipped cream)

Fondant

2 1/2 kg of White or pre mixed fondant

* Kneed you fondant well to remove any air bubbles and roll out 3-4 millimetre thickness

Use plunger cutters to create the flowers and butterflies use a sugar syrup or royal icing to attach these to the cake

Assembling your cake

1: Carefully cut the tops off your cakes and then slice them in half

2: Spread 3/4 cup full of the mousse between each layer of the large cake and 1/2 between the layers of the small cake (* To create an even surface on top use the base of the cake on top)

3: Once you have filled the cakes use the remaining mouse to cover the exterior of the cakes, smooth the edges and place the cake in the fridge to become firm.

4:  Cover with fondant and carefully smooth the edges and cut away any excess

5: Both cakes need to be placed on cake boards and to assemble you need to insert support structures like wooden cake dowels (these can be bought from all good cake decorating stores)

6: The decorating is all up to you I always like to draw a design first and then put the finishing touches in the cake

Image

Image

Image

 Episode 1 – Star Baker Maria