My Best Ever “Banana and Walnut Cake”

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Banana and Walnut Cake

85g butter (room temperature)

150g Sri Lankan Rapadura Sugar

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1 egg

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200g ripe bananas, mashed (approximately 2 ripe bananas)

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125g natural Greek yoghurt

30ml rice bran oil

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220g flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

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60g walnuts, chopped

1: Preheat oven to 180°C, or if it’s fan-forced, 170°C.

2: Prepare a loaf pan by lining it with baking paper. Set aside for the moment.

3: Combine the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for 3 to 4 minutes then add the egg. Don’t forget to scrap down the sides.

4: Mix together the mashed banana, yoghurt and oil. With the mixer on low speed, add to the batter. Beat for a further 4 to 6 minutes or until the batter is light and fluffy.

5: Still on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the batter and then the chopped walnuts. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Give the bottom of the pan a tap to even out the batter and release any large air bubbles. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

6: Leave on a cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

Make like Maria and try these sugars in your favourite recipes. Discover the new Sugars of the World range in Coles, Woolworths and Independent retailers nationally. www.sugarsoftheworld.com

Enjoy!

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The Perfect Little Princess – Cake Expo Melbourne

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Swedish Princess Cake.

It’s perfect for a special occasion. It is a delicate cake, and looks best with simple decorations.

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Ingredients:

For the crème patissière:

75g egg yolks (approximately 3 small egg yolks)
100g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste
500ml whole milk
50g cornflour                                                                                                                          45g Butter (Room Temperature)

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For the Jaconde sponge:
3 medium whole eggs
125g icing sugar
125g almond meal (sifted)
3 egg whites
15g caster sugar
40g plain flour

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For the filling:
2 tbsp Good Quality Raspberry Jam
Punnet of raspberries (approximately 150g)

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For the decoration:
400g marzipan
400g white Fondant
Pink food colour (or other colour if you prefer)

Equipment:

Two baking trays with a minimum width of 30cm
15cm half sphere mould
15cm round pastry cutter
Plastic piping bag
6 inch round cake card board

8 inch round cake board
Small non-stick rolling pin
Mould for flower decorations or you can try making a flower by hand
Scalped Edge Cutter
Egg carton or plastic paint palette with wells
Leaf Mould Veiner                                                                                                                                                                  Large Flower Petal Cutter
Plain round 2.5cm pastry cutter

Method:

Preheat the oven to 190°C

Line two baking trays with baking paper.

To make the crème patissière –
Whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar in a mixing bowl, then add the cornflour and stir to combine. Place the milk, vanilla seeds and scraped vanilla pod in a saucepan and bring to a bare simmer. Pour about a quarter of the hot milk onto the egg yolk mixture, immediately stirring until smooth.

Add the egg yolk and milk mixture to the pan with the remaining hot milk stir well till combined and smooth. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens and bubbles in the centre, stirring well to make sure the crème patissière does not burn on the base of the pan. Taste the crème patissière to check it is cooked; it should not taste floury. The texture should be smooth and thick.

Transfer to a bowl or tray. To prevent a skin from forming, cover tightly with cling film, pressing down firmly to make sure there are no air pockets. Allow to cool to room temperature place back into a clean mixer bowl with a paddle attachment and on medium speed begin adding the room temperature butter in small amounts beat until the butter is well incorporated and the custard is smooth, chill until further use.

To make the Jaconde sponge –
Beat the whole eggs and icing sugar together until pale and fluffy. Sift together the flour and ground almonds, then gently fold into the egg mixture using a spatula.

In a clean dry bowl, whisk the egg whites with the sugar until they reach soft peaks. Fold the meringue mixture into the batter.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared baking trays and level the surface using a palette knife or the back of a spoon.

Bake for 8–10 minutes on a low shelf, depending on your oven. The sponge is cooked when the sides are beginning to shrink away from the edges of the tin and the top is lightly golden brown and springs back to the touch.
Allow to cool outside of the oven but leave the sponges in the baking trays. Once cool, cover with cling film to prevent the sponge sheets from drying out.

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To assemble the cake –
Place the sphere mould on top of a small round cake tin to hold it steady. Line the inside of the mould with clingfilm, overlapping the edges.

Cut out a 30cm round from one of the sponge sheets. Use it to line the inside of the sphere mould, leaving a small overlap around the outside edge. Trim off any excess using a pair of kitchen scissors.

Fill a piping bag with the custard filling. Snip an inch off the tip and pipe a thick layer into the bottom of the cake mould, then place six fresh raspberries evenly over the custard. Pipe another layer of buttercream on top. Continue adding layers of buttercream and fresh raspberries until you have almost reached the top edge of the mould. Level off the last layer of cusard using a palette knife.

Cut out two 15cm rounds from the remaining sponge sheet using a pastry cutter. Sandwich the two rounds of sponge together with a thin layer of raspberry jam. Place the two sponge rounds on top of the buttercream-filled mould. Place a layer of clingfilm over the top then place the 6 inch cake board on top. Trim any excess sponge from around the edges of the mould. Cover all with another layer of cling film over the top tightly. Chill for at least 4–6 hours or preferably overnight.

To make the decoration –
While your cake is setting in the fridge, make the flower decorations.

For the pink-coloured fondant, mix 400g white fondant with few drops of pink food paste colour to blend together a very pale shade. To prevent it from drying out, keep the sugar paste wrapped in cling film until use.

Make 3–4 flowers in different shades of pink fondant with sugar paste hardener added so that the flowers will air dry quicker and hold their shape.

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To decorate
Once the cake has set, remove it from the fridge and turn it out on the 8 inch cake board. Remove the mould and the cling film.

On a surface dusted with icing sugar, roll the marzipan out to a thickness 3–4mm. It must be large enough to cover the dome. Using a rolling pin, lift the rolled marzipan and lay it over the dome cake. Smooth the marzipan down the sides of the dome using your fingers. Tuck the edges down and trim away any excess marzipan using a kitchen knife.

Roll out the pink sugar fondant and place over the marzipan the same way. Trim away any excess sugar paste as before.

Cut a 2.5cm wide strip or scalloped edge that is long enough to go all around the base of the dome to create a swag border.

To finish, placed a flower on top of the dome. Be creative its up to you but keep it simple!

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This cake has a shelf life of 3 days when stored in the fridge, however the decoration may become soft and sticky in cold humid conditions. Therefore, I recommend making the cake no more than 2 days in advance of serving and consuming it.

within 1 day.

This recipe was inspired by the wonderful Dome Cake by Peggy Porschen.

Get ready to “RUM BALL”!

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This recipe came about one Chiristmas many years ago when it was almost customary to give a Christmas cake as a gift to celebrate the festive season. Overwhelmed with the rich fruity and spice aroma of these gorgeous home baked fruit cakes and having been given a generous quantity…….”Well the truth be said there is only so much fruit cake you can eat”!

So the mother of invention had to intervine to produce a new Christmas tradition. Inspired to use what I had, which at the time included Chocolate and all those fruit cakes, and no baking!

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Thus the Rum Ball has now become a firm inclusion to the Christmas desserts list in my household, not to mention they make an excelent gift. One year I made them all look like minature puddings diping them firstly into the dark chocolate and then using white chocolate as the custard and a small piece of red glace cherry on top to finish. Christmas after Christmas the little rum balls took on a more refined and simplistic look perhaps the K.I.S.S (Keep it simple stupid) had finally dawned apon me. I was confronted by the subtle hints from friends and family that had enjoyed them from a previous Christmas that they loved receiving them as gifts. What a great idea!

Edible glitter transformed a little bit of Christmas into a sparkling delight for the eyes, and when all boxed, they sparkle and glisten ……”let the Christmas celebrations begin”.

Rum Ball Truffles
 Quick and Easy

Rum Balls

Ingredients:

1  x 800g Dark Chocolate Fruit Cake

1  x 480g Double Chocolate Buttercake

30ml Freshly brewed Espresso Coffee

1-2 Tablespoons Rum Extract (this is optional)

2 x 375 pkts of Dark Chocolate Melts

You will need:

Food processor (if you don’t have a Food Processor do not worry you can use your hands and a large bowl)

Small or Large Icecream Scoop (I say either, depending on how big you want to make them)

Baking Tray lined with Baking Paper (to set the Rum Balls on)

Heat proof bowl to melt the chocolate in (use the microwave using short bursts (30second) of heat, mix heat again and mix till all the chocolate has melted)

Method:

1. Crumble the fruit cake and the chocolate cake into the bowl of the food processor and pulse a few times till the cakes have become small crumbles.

2. Add the Rum essence or if you would like the adult version, add a tablespoon or two of the real alcoholic version. Add half the coffee at first, and pulse all. If the mix looks a little dry, add a little more coffee till it all comes together.

3. Scoop equal amounts of the cake mix onto the baking paper lined tray using the icecream scoop.

4. Gently roll the individual balls till nice and smooth, placing them back onto the tray and then place them into the refrigerator to set.

5. Meanwhile melt the chocolate (I use dark chocolate because I like it, but there is no reason why you shouldnt use Milk or White Chocolate…..it’s time for indulgence after all!)

6. Gently dip the balls into the melted chocolate and then ease them onto the baking paper again. I use a couple of forks to help me out with this process (at this stage you might like a second tray prepared for this purpose) as the rum ball mix was in the fridge you will find that they will set quickly.

7. Once the chocolate has set, I’ve used a little brush to add some red edible glitter. Now they are ready, well after you have enjoyed one or two. 🙂

Enjoy my ultimate Christmas Treat!

 

Salted Caramel TWIX Cake…for the busy baker.

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“Salted Caramel TWIX Cake” ……..this is for the busy baker!

Equipment you will need 1 x Loaf tin approximately 26cm x 8cm x 6cm.
Cooling rack
Baking tray
Plastic food wrap
Hair Dryer

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Ingredients

1 x Vanilla / Butter Cake

Pre heat the oven to 180 Degrees.

Prepare your tin by greasing with cooking oil spray. Line the tin with baking paper.

Prepare the cake mix as directed and bake as recommended or till golden and baked through.

Chocolate Shortbread

For the Chocolate Short bread (This will be the biscuit base of the cake)

300g 00 Flour
30g Cacao Powder
130g Icing Sugar
150g Unsalted Butter
3 Egg Yolks

Place the Flour, Cacao, Icing Sugar, and cold unsalted butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse till all the ingredients have combined. Add the egg yolks and pulse again till it all comes together, push the dough together (careful not to over work the dough). Make a ball flatten it slightly and wrap the dough with plastic wrap, rest in the fridge for 15- 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to 5 millimetre thickness cut a rectangle the size of the widest part of your loaf tin pierce holes over the dough with a fork. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 Degrees for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on the baking tray.

Caramel
1 x 300g Salted Caramel Dessert Sauce ( the brand I used is Safeway Gold Salted Caramel Dessert Sauce)
50g Milk Chocolate Melts

Place the salted caramel dessert sauce in a saucepan and heat through while constantly stirring.

Remove form heat as soon as it comes to the boil. Add the milk chocolate stir all till well combined till you have a smooth glossy caramel. Set aside to cool slightly.

To prepare the mould / channel (to form the dome shape which will be the top of the cake) for the caramel use the same loaf tin. Place cling wrap over the top of the loaf tin and allow it to evenly sink down creating a channel. Secure all four sides of the plastic to the loaf tin and pour the semi cooled caramel into the channel then set aside.

Chocolate Ganache

450g Milk Chocolate Melts
220g Cream

14g Glucose
60g Unsalted Butter

Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl.

Bring the cream, butter and glucose to the boil and pour it over the milk chocolate pieces.

After 5 minutes use a whisk to stir the chocolate and cream together till it is smooth and glossy.

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Assemble the cake

Smear a layer of caramel on to the biscuit base.

Trim your cooled butter cake so that the top of the cake will now sit flat on the rectangle biscuit base.

Place the narrow side of the butter cake on to the caramel. Cover with plastic. Place the cake into the freezer for about 30 – 45 minutes.

Remove the cake from the freezer and carefully flip it over on to a cooling rack, the caramel will set frozen, peal the plastic off leaving the cake with a caramel dome on top.

Place a baking tray under the cooling rack and pour over the chocolate ganache. The cooling rack will allow the excess ganache to drip through leaving a smooth coating.
Technical Trick

To get the cake looking like a TWIX Bar use your hair dryer on a cool setting to blow air over the top of the ganache this will create the rippled effect.

Chop some TWIX bars and use them for decoration on top.

 

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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Zucchini, Feta and Spinach Muffins

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There are a few recipes that can remind me of a time and a place and these Zucchini Muffins do exactly that!

Many of my childhood memories are also tied to the smell of fresh herbs, stories from grand parents and memories of traveling, music and family both near and far. When I look at the cuisine that I have grown up with I cant help but think how fortunate I have been.

Versions of this recipe mostly appear in Middle Eastern recipe books as fritters and although my grandmother made them that way as well, I think she would have been happy with my muffin version too. Its less time consuming without losing any of the taste.

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INGREDIENTS
Zucchini, Feta, and Spinach Muffins:

2 medium zucchini, grated

200g Frozen Spinach, thawed

½ cup feta cheese, crumbled

2 Tablespoon fresh dill (chopped)

2 Tablespoon fresh Mint (chopped)

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 Spring onions sliced fine

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

½ cup Self Raising Flour

Salt and black pepper, to taste

3 Tablespoons Olive oil (plus a little extra for the cupcake Pan)

Method:

Preheat the oven 180 Degrees

Place the grated zucchini and spinach in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Sprinkle with a little salt and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Then, wring all of the liquid and discard. Place the grated zucchini and spinach in a large bowl.

Combine the zucchini, spinach, feta, herbs, eggs, spring onions, garlic and oil. Stir to mix well.

Sprinkle in the flour and fold through until it all is incorporated and holding together.

Using a nonstick cupcake pan, add ½ teaspoon of olive oil to the base of each cupcake section and divide the batter between the 12 spots on the cupcake pan.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes.

Note: For a Gluten Free option use Gluten Free SR Flour 🙂

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Walnut and Almond Semolina Halva – Karma-Free Dessert

Semolina halva is one of the most popular desserts found in Greece, India and the Middle-Eastern.

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The secret to good halva is to roast the semolina and the almond meal very slowly with the oil constantly stirring so as not to scorch the grains. Steam the finished halva by covering the plastic wrap and allow it to sit covered till it cools. This will ensure that every grain will be fluffy and plump.

My mother and grand mother both enjoyed making and eating halva. They had their own secret recipe which I found to be either too oily or too sweet or the grains were well crunchy would be the best descriptive word to use…..ok call me fussy!  Thankfully, after I did a little experimenting and made my version of the dessert neither of them would make it their way again preferring to use my recipe. I hope you enjoy this recipe too and it becomes your favourite.

The beauty of this dessert is that you can make small variations like adding 1/4 of soaked sultanas or use cashew nuts even adding coconut milk and vanilla extract. You have a base recipe to start with. 🙂

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients:
Group A
3 cups Water
1 cup Sugar (I like to use Raw Caster Sugar)

Group B
1 1/4 cup Semolina
1/4 cup Almond Meal
1/3 cup Rice-Bran Oil

Group C
1 teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
1/3 cup Walnut pieces

Method:
Combine the Group A ingredients, place over moderate heat, stirring only till sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil then remove from heat.

Combine Group B in a 2 -3 litre sized saucepan and stir fry the grains over low heat till the grains are light golden and aromatic. (Take care not to scorch the grains it takes about 10 minutes).

Add Group C stir till all combined stir for a further 2-3 minutes.

Remove the saucepan of semolina from the heat, slowly pour the hot syrup into the semolina, stirring constantly. The grains will splutter at first (take care) it will quickly stop as the liquid is absorbed.

Pour the mix into a nonstick Bunt Cake pan (sprayed with oil) or as I have used individual moulds. Cover the halva with plastic wrap very tightly and set aside till it has cooled and ready to remove from the mould.

Serve cold with an extra sprinkle of semolina and crushed walnuts. I do also like making a vanilla custard to serve with the halva hot. I know it sounds strange but don’t knock it till you try it. 🙂

Enjoy

Cheers

Maria

Artful is the new Rustic!

If the thought of a recipe described as RUSTIC sends shivers down your spine consider this!

“Artful is the new Rustic!

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Bread can be described as wholesome, earthy, crusty and rustic. Countries live and breath by the bread they make and have further developed a measure of quality by which a baker is referred to as, most popular being “Artisan Bread” or “Artisan Bakers”!

Why is it that a recipe handed down from Great Grand-mother to granddaughter not warrant the same respect , the feeling of deep admiration for a carefully crafted recipe measured not by grams but handfuls and the feel of the dough being carefully nurtured through every step.

“Don’t get me wrong I love the careful precision and craftsmanship produced in modern patisserie”

My point is we need to recognise that there is true art to be seen, valued and admired if only we looked closer with a child like wonder and used our sense of smell and our curiosity to enjoy the amazing baked spectacle that has been crafted together to produced a canvas of colour and long lasting memories.For all the recipes handed down for us to enjoy and to all the  “Artful Bakers”

” THANK YOU”

Pastry
Pastry
Home made Apricot Jam
Home made Apricot Jam
Mixed Sultanas, Currants, Orange Peal
Mixed Sultanas, Currants, Orange Peal & Mixed Spices
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Egg wash and a sprinkle of Demerara Sugar

Ingredients:

160g Self-Raising Flour

2 Tablespoons Icing sugar

1 Tablespoon Custard Powder

100g Butter – Unsalted

1 Egg

65g Light Sour Cream

Filling:

1 cup mixed dry fruit (Sultana, Currant, Mixed Peal)

Apricot Jam (optional Raspberry is lovely too!)

Cinnamon Sugar (optional)

 

Egg-Wash:

1 Egg yolk

1/2 Tablespoon Milk

You will Need:

1 Baking sheet lined with baking paper

1 pastry brush

Rolling Pin

Method:

Pre-heat oven 180 Degrees

1: In a food processor add Self-Raising Flour, Icing sugar, Custard Powder and Butter process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. If you don’t have a food processor rub the ingredients together using your fingertips.

2: Add the egg and sourcream, bring the mixture together to form a dough ball. Do not over work the pastry.

3: On a floured surface use a rolling pin to roll out the pastry 4 – 5 mm thickness.

4: Brush the apricot jam over the pastry surface, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and lastly sprinkle over the mixed fruit. Gently roll the pastry. Place it on the baking tray brush with the egg wash and sprinkle the demerara sugar on top.

 

4: Bake till golden 25 – 30 minutes.

I hope you and your family enjoy this “Artful bake” 🙂

Happy Baking

 

Toffee Cream Choux – Episode 8 : The Great Australian Bake Off

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Toffee Cream Choux

Ingredients

Toffee Cream Choux Makes 18
For the pastry
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 250ml cold water
  • 3 free-range eggs plus 1 additional egg yolk
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten, for the egg wash
For the custard cream
  • 1¼ cups milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ⅓ cup plain flour, sifted
  • 3 free-range eggs plus 1 additional egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 20g white chocolate
For the toffee
  • 150g a1 sugar
  • 20ml water
  • 1 tablespoon glucose syrup
To decorate
  • 24 small fondant flowers or butterflies
Utensils
  • 2 baking trays, greased
  • silicone sheet

Preparation Method

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Sift the flour into a bowl. Put the butter, salt and water in a heavy-based pan and bring to the boil over a medium heat. As the water comes to the boil, remove from the heat and dump in the flour in one go. Immediately stir briskly with a wooden spoon until the flour and liquid are evenly combined.

Place the pan back on a lower heat. Beat continuously for a minute until you have a coherent mass that comes away easily from the side. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for about 3 minutes. (If you add the eggs immediately, the mixture may curdle.)

Beat the first 3 eggs into the mixture, one at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next. The mixture should be smooth and glossy. If it is too stiff, trickle in some of the additional egg yolk, beating well.

Leave to cool to room temperature. Fit a piping bag with an 18mm round nozzle and fill with the choux mixture. On a greased baking tray pipe 9 balls around the size of a walnut. Repeat with a second tray. Press the tops down with a wet finger. Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake for 15 minutes at 190°C, then lower the temperature to 160°C for a further 10 minutes until golden brown and puffy. Remove from the oven and make a small slit in the base of each ball. Turn off the oven. Return to the oven to dry out completely.

To make the custard cream, place the milk and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan and gently heat through. Combine the sugar, flour, eggs and yolk in the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer, and beat well until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed and add the warm milk in a steady stream. Once the milk has been added, return the mixture to the pan and whisk over medium heat until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the butter and white chocolate. Cool.

To make the toffee, combine the sugar and water in a small pan and bring to the boil. Add the glucose and lower the heat. Cook until the mixture is a warm caramel colour.

When ready to assemble, pipe a little custard cream through the base slit of each choux ball. Carefully dip each ball into the hot toffee and allow to set on a silicone sheet. Garnish while still sticky with a small fondant flower or butterfly.

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Aromatic Wine Poached Pear and Almond Tart

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Poaching pears in a blend of good red wine, and boosting the warmth of the poaching liquid by adding spice aromatics like a cinnamon stick, star anise, lemon and orange peal and you have a pear that will tantalise your every taste bud with every spoonful.  

Wine Poached Pears

150g Marsalla Wine

750g Red Wine

150g Caster Sugar

1 Cinnamon Stick

Lemon and Orange Peal

1 Star Anise

10-12 Small Corella Pears (pealed and seeds hulled)

Now don’t over complicate this its as easy as.

1: You will need a pot (with a lid) that will fit all your pears side by side in an upright position.

2: Add all poaching ingredients to the pot – the wine, sugar, spices and peal. On low heat stir till sugar has dissolved.

3: Peal pears and remove the core if possible leave the stems for now (you can remove after they have been poached and cooled)

4: Place the pears in the pot, lid on and allow them to poach for about 20 – 30 minutes. Test the pears to see if they are ready by piercing with a small knife if  the tip of the knife slides in easily then they are ready, under poached pears do not have a very pleasant texture.

Just a note: At this stage you can ditch the rest of the recipe, pop the cooled poached pears with the liquid  in the fridge. They make an amazing dessert on their own with a dollop of double cream, or your favourite vanilla ice-cream and for crunch place the pear on some recently baked puff pastry sprinkled with some cinnamon sugar and you have lovely individual desserts. Don’t forget to drizzle some of the poaching liquid over the top!

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Sweet Pastry Crust

125g Butter (cubed)

125g Icing Sugar

1 Free Range Egg

250g Organic Plain Flour

25g Almond meal

The hard work has been done its time to let the food processor take over.

1: Place the flour, butter, almond meal and icing sugar in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse 4 – 6 times till all resembles an even crumble.

2: Add the egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of cold water, pulse the flour mix again till it starts to come together. Remove the pastry dough push it all together, flatten out into a disc shape wrap in food grade plastic wrap and rest in the fridge for 10 – 15minutes.

3: Time to make the Almond creme, once again another a handheld mixer standard mixer is perfect for this job.

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Almond Creme

125g Butter (room temperature)

125g icing Sugar

125g Almond Meal

2 Free Range Eggs (room temperature)

1 teaspoon Queens Vanilla Bean paste

1: Cream together the butter, icing sugar and vanilla bean paste, be a little patient and don’t rush. Once the butter and sugar are pale light and fluffy in appearance add the eggs one at a time.

2: Add the almond meal, stop beating when all ingredients have combined. Set aside for the moment.

3: Pre-Heat the oven 180 Deegrees.

Tart shell filled with almond creme
Tart shell filled with almond creme
Baked to a golden finish
Baked to a golden finish

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Arranging the poached pears
Arranging the poached pears

Assembly

1: On a lightly floured surface, roll-out the pastry about 4-5 millimetres thickness. Line the base and sides of a 26cm round nonstick fluted tart baking pan and trim the edges.

2: Fill the tart shell with the Almond Creme filling no more than 3/4 full.

3: Bake the tart on the middle shelf for approximately 25 minutes or till light golden colour. Once baked remove form the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the baking pan.

4: Decorate the cooled tart with the poached pears.

Just a note: Baking is part science and a whole lot of creativity! So you can either cut the pears in half, or slice them into wedges and arrange them around the tart. If they are small pears they look great left whole as an individual serving. Its up to you.

Happy Baking by Baking Beautiful

Maria – The Great Australian Bake Off

Band of Bakers Australia

Instergram: BakingBeautiful