Gingerbread Angels

Christmas just isn’t the same if I don’t bake gingerbread Angels, Deer or Gingerbread Men!

…. well if Im honest there will always be something baking.

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I love this spicy biscuit especially when just baked. Who needs exotic air fresheners when all you need to do is a little baking. The warm aromas of Ginger, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and All Spice will have you reaching for the kettle and sitting down with your favourite brew in one hand and a Gingerbread Angel in the other.

I’ve been asked a few times and its worth noting that to build a gingerbread house the dough is a little different slightly dry and once baked not as soft and fluffy as the gingerbread men you might be familiar with. My recipe can be used for both individual biscuits like these angels or if you want to make a gingerbread house. After baked the biscuit is crisp but after a few days they begin to soften slightly.

To decorate the angels or other shapes I like to use Royal Icing and a few soft shell sugar pearls and sprinkles to add a little glam like the red and green and red garland wreath or the gold sugar crystal hearts its really up to you. In the past Ive also used 100’s and 1000’s and they look great too. I hate to admit this but its all up-to the Christmas Tree and the overall household decorations  that dictate that years colour theme…..That’s a bit over the top but then again thats me!

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You will need:

Rolling Pin

Baking trays

Baking Paper

Cookie Cutter (Angel, Reindeer, Santa) Ive used Angel

Ingredients:

100g Unsalted Butter

200g Soft Brown Sugar

150g Molasses

150g Golden Syrup

1 Egg

700g Plain Flour

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Ginger powder

1 Tablespoon Cinnamon Powder

1 Tablespoon Mixed Spice

1 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda

1 teaspoon White Vingar

A little extra flour for dusting your work surface

Method:

  • Bring the butter, Molasses and Golden Syrup to a gentle simmer mix well, remove from heat, allow to cool.
  • Sieve the flour, baking powder, Mixed spices, Cinnamon and Ginger together and set aside
  • Add the egg to the cooled butter syrup and mix well
  • Mix together the Bicarbonate of Soda and Vinegar, mix into the butter syrup
  • Add the butter syrup to the flour, fold through to make the dough
  • Wrap the dough and rest in the fridge before rolling out for baking.
  • Pre Heat oven to 180 Degrees and bake biscuits for approximately 12 minutes

Remove the dough from the fridge. Very lightly sprinkle some flour on your work bench. Roll out the dough to about 3-4mm thick. I like to dip the cutting edge of the cookie cutter into the flour shake off the excess and then cut the shape (repeat till you have cut out all) Gently lift the dough shapes onto the prepared baking trays. Leave a good 1-2cm between each shape.

Bake the gingerbread for about 12 minutes (you know your oven, sometimes they run hotter than others so watch the first batch and adjust your time accordingly). Allow the baked gingerbreads to cool slightly on the baking tray before you move them to a cooling rack to cool completely before decorating.

To decorate your Gingerbread you will need some

Royal Icing

Small Pipping Bag

Sprinkles – Ive used Queens White Soft Shell Pearls (which are great ….No more chipped teeth using the other hard ones “Great Ideas Queens”

Mixed Red and Green Sprinkles for the Garland Wreath

Black or Brown Food Colour Pen to draw on the face (which can only be done after the royal icing has completely dried……don’t be tempted to do it any sooner, trust me! )

Step 1

Fill the piping bag with royal icing (2-3 Tablespoon full) cut the tip of the piping bag so that you can pipe a line. If the royal icing is too runny thicken it up with a little more icing sugar or if too thick add a tiny amount of water (a little goes a long way)

Step2

Trace the shape of the angel all the way round, allow this to dry as you finish the other baked gingerbread.

Step 3

Once the outer edge is dry, time to fill it in. This time you want the royal icing to have a little movement so that it will spread easy but not run away ….if you know what I mean 🙂 Using the same piping fill it with the royal icing again and slowly fill in.

Step 4

Once again wait till the royal icing is dry before you continue with this step. To make the Garland wreath pipe a ring of royal icing onto the angel and sprinkle with the sprinkles. Allow it to set and then shake off the excess. For the hallow pipe a line of royal icing and then gently place the soft shell pearls across and allow to set dry.

Now the rest is up to you! I like to put the angels in clear food / lolly bags tie some colourful ribbon over the top and give them as gifts. Ive used them as name cards for Christmas lunch. Ive even used them as ornaments on the christmas tree. What ever you choose to do Im sure they will be enjoyed by all.

 

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Lucy's Friendly Foods

There’s not a great deal to say about these other than they’re part brownie, part cookie… they’re chocolate brownie cookies! So they have that soft chocolate texture in cookie form, and they taste just like brownies. Best of both worlds, right? They got a thumbs up here anyway.

Chocolate Brownie Cookies (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes 10-12

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsps plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsps oat milk
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

– Preheat the oven to gas mark 3

– Line a cookie sheet with parchment

– Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and soda. Stir in the sugar and salt.

– Pour in the oil, vanilla and oat milk.

– Bring together to a dough.

–…

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“Kiwi Fruit and Banana Booster”

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Ok now don’t knock it till you try it.

“Kiwi Fruit and Banana Booster” 

1small Banana
1 Kiwi Fruit, (Green or Gold) plea and stem removed
1/2 cup fresh Spinach
1cm piece of fresh ginger 
Zest of half a lemon
1/2 Tablespoon Honey
1 teaspoon white Chia Seeds
1 cup cold Almond Milk

Method
Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend till smooth. 

Enjoy!

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Strawberry Fields

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“Strawberry Fields” 

Makes one serve, but feel free to share!
1 cup Strawberries (washed and stems removed)
1 cup Almond Milk
1 Tablespoon Honey
1 pinch Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Almond Butter (or Peanut Butter)

Method

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth.
Enjoy!

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.

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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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

 

Grab a spoon, this is going to get messy!

When I think of French baking the main ingredients come to mind flour, butter, Eggs, Sugar and Spice. Each one is carefully chosen to achieve a result of texture and flavour, it is these same carefully chosen ingredients that are used to achieve perfection and excellence in quality.

French patisserie is taken very seriously and for a chosen few it is a way of life. A modern revolution has taken place amongst pastry chefs which have chosen to push the boundaries of french classics producing elaborate masterpieces which are encased by an explosion of colours and flavours. The treasured bakeries are more like emporiums pushing the limits of reinvention, giving a twist to grandmothers treasured favourite. Breathtaking make-overs creating show stoppers filled with the imagination of an artist.

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The showcase at Le Petit Gateau is filled with what one would only describe as a visual arts show. There are certain foods that create their own special aura, a world of wonder and a dilemma for the taste buds.

Though we describe them as works of art and the initial reaction or comment made is  “It’s too beautiful to eat”, a thought that Executive Pastry Chef Pierrick Boyer said “I wish they would just eat it, and enjoy the moment”. There is a kind of momentary sadness which dissipates very quickly as your fork is plunged into your chosen dessert. With a wave of delight the “Oh its too pretty” comments are very soon forgotten. Your mouth fills with the carefully matched flavours, and layer after layer the only thought you have is that this is an experience you only wish it wouldn’t come to an end.

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I took the opportunity to spend a day at Le Petit Gateau and the team, its always a challenge to see if given the opportunity would I enjoy this type of environment. Perhaps I had been watching too many shows where the fiery tongue of a chef was prevalent and the mishaps of contestants were highlighted with an over regimented barking of orders would echo through the kitchen. Ok so a little nervous thought did travel through my mind. I must stop watching those shows!

I was greeted at the door 7.30am on the dot with huge smiles and a warm friendly welcome. With a shot of coffee under my belt and the guidance of Kim the day began. Armed with a list for the day I was more than happy to take my orders. Im happy to say that looking back the day consisted of spreading sponges, quenelles and dressing plates with consistent perfection, preparing Bomb Alaska, making meringue and vanilla bean garnish, Raspberry Souffle, biscuits and so much more! The team was amazing like a well oiled machine tasks were completed under the guiding eyes of Executive Chef Pierrick always there to advise and encourage. Before I could blink my day had come to an end. Exhilarated at the thought that I hadn’t buckled it was finally time to sit down and have a chat with Pierrick.

Q:  Where or with who did you training to become a Pastry Chef?
A:  I did my training in France & Belgium, where I worked for a year, in Strasbourg, Brussel, Reims & Bordeaux, before I worked in Italy for 6 months.

Q:  Do you have the same passion for cooking as you do for baking?
A:  Yes, as a guest & eating in restaurant, to cook the savoury dishes, not really, I don’t do it

Q: If you had to choose one dessert as your favourite what would it be?
A: Hard one, I’d say half a tiramisu & other half in creme brule! It would be one dessert right! lol

Q: Is Le Petit Gateau everything you have wanted to achieve or is there more to come?
A: It’s a good achievement & I would be happy with it in my younger years, now, I’d like to open something bigger, cater for organic breakfast & lunch and why not open over seas, how good would it be! While based in Melbourne, very important, It’s too Amazing living here 😀

I have few food hero’s to like Jean Delaveyne, Michel Roux, Raymond Blank, Emmanuel Mollis, Alain Fabregues and yes Pierrick Boyer. They are the masters and even though French cuisine is recognised for its flavours, textures, and colours it is the composition of a dish and the presentation which will always takes centre stage the ability to modernise classic with artful intent. Le Petit Gateau has the “WOW” factor and sure to impress.

I wish to thank the team a Le Petit Gateau and Pierrick Boyer for the kindness and warmth that they extended to me, and I look forward to seeing them all again very soon.

Le Petit Gateau, 458 Little Collins Street, Melbourne 3000 ph:  03 9944 8890

www.lepetitgateau.com.au

www.pierrickboyer.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ChefPierrickBoyer

Instagram & Twitter: @pierrickboyer

Merci

Maria

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