Daring Bakers do Lamingtons

May 27, 2015

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For the May challenge Marcellina from Marcellina in Cucina dared us to make Lamingtons. An Australian delicacy that is as tasty as it is elegant.

It has been great to be back participating with the Daring Bakers, this month is no exception.  When the challenge was announced I had no idea what a Lamington was, it sounded more like a Town than a dessert.  The classic Australian Lamington is a cube of vanilla sponge cake dipped in chocolate icing then coated with desiccated coconut.  Chocolate, coconut and cake, these sound delicious!

Ingredients:

5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup castor (superfine) sugar
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups cornflour (cornstarch)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon butter, melted (optional)
2¾ cups unsweetened desiccated coconut, to assemble

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

2. Prepare a 4 ½ cm (1¾ inch) deep, 23cm x 33cm (9”x 13”) baking pan by lining with non-stick paper

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3. In a stand mixer bowl place eggs, sugar and salt. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high for 15 minutes.

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4. While the eggs and sugar are beating sift the cornflour and baking powder at least 3 times.

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5. After 15 minutes add vanilla and beat on high for another 5 minutes. The mixture should have at least tripled in size, be light in colour and very foamy.

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6. Sift flour mixture over the egg mixture.

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7. Spread mixture into your prepared pan and smooth out evenly.  Bake in preheated moderate oven for 22-25 minutes.

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8. The sponge will rise quite a lot but then settle back down. Don’t be tempted to open the oven to peak. I also warn the family to walk gently past the oven! When baked the sponge will have shrunk very slightly from the sides and should feel springy when pressed gently. (Mine was still giggly at 25 minutes.  I tried to see if it was springy at 35 minutes but my finger broke though, still wet.  Almost an hour later I took it out assuming it was done – had dropped a lot!)

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Turn the sponge out immediately onto a wire rack to cool and reverse sponge so as not to mark the top. Allow to cool. It is best to keep the cake for a day before making the Lamingtons as the cake will be easier to handle.

I finished the recipe the next day.

Chocolate icing

Ingredients:

3 ¼ cups icing sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon butter, melted
½ to ¾ cup milk

Directions:

1. Melt butter in a double boiler

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2. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa, add to the melted butter

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3. Add ½ cup milk. Stir until icing is smooth adding more milk to thin the icing if needed. I find I need more than ½ cup but not quite ¾ cup of milk.

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To assemble the Lamingtons:

1. Cut the sponge cake into 24 rectangular pieces – 6 across and 4 down. To be particular you can trim the crusts. (I cut mine in random sizes)

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*Mines ended up with a thin ‘crust like top’.  It cracked as soon as you touched it.  It was quite crumbly and messy so I removed it

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2. Place desiccated coconut in a shallow bowl. I did not have desiccated coconut, just regular shredded.  It looked to be a little long compared to most of the pictures I saw of Lamingtons.  I just put it into a mini chopper, worked quite well.

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3. Keep the icing over the hot water to keep it melted. Dip each piece into the chocolate icing

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4. Allow excess to drip off then toss gently into the coconut.

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5. Stand cakes on a wire rack to set, about 2 hours.

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These were pretty good.

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I also made some rolled in Graham crumbs, for those fussy coconut haters!  They were good too

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Everyone seemed to like them more than I did.  They were raving about them.

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I quite enjoyed them. I don’t think my cake turned out quite how it should have, as it was very crumbly.  The Lamingtons were very light and sweet.  I really liked the chocolate icing, it had a texture like the macaroons I make.  Actually, now that I think of it, they kind of remind me of that, just a lot more work. They were very piddly and time consuming.  It may just have been because my cake was super crumbly, but the dipping process was a messy disaster.

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The first couple were ok, then they started to fall apart.  Huge crumbs in the chocolate, thank goodness the coconut covered all that up!

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Thank you Marcellina, for a wonderful challenge!

Store Lamingtons in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Or do as many Australians do, in the same
sealed container store in the freezer for a handy treat for unexpected visitors. Lamingtons would last in the freezer for 2 months at least. Frozen Lamingtons defrost very quickly. Also many Australians mums will pop a Lamington into their children’s school lunch box for a treat.

 

 


R5 Cake

May 23, 2015

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I was asked to make a R5 cake.  They showed me the logo but I had to look up what it was, haha! Turned out ok


Sheriff Callie Cake

May 20, 2015

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A Sheriff Callie Cake.  I had never heard of it before, but apparently this is related!  The cake was a hit!


Popcorn Cake

May 12, 2015

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It may not be pretty but it is delicious!  It was my birthday this past weekend and I made my request for Popcorn Cake.  Everyone asks me, “what kind of cake are you making for yourself?” NONE!  I would not have a cake if I had to make it for myself!  I love to bake and I would make anyone a cake, but I refuse to make my own birthday cake!  I often hear that people do not want to bake for me because I am bake.  So silly!  I don’t expect a big and wildly fancy cake, anything that anyone makes for me is wonderful!

I posted last years Birthday Popcorn Cake, but this year I was there for the making!  It was ridiculously humid on my birthday so Mom held off making the cake for as long as she could before family arrived.  If you are not from a humid climate let me tell you, popcorn and humidity do not mix well.  The moisture makes the popcorn very chewy, almost like gum.

Mom was not overly impressed that I wanted to take pictures but oh well, it’s my Birthday! haha

Mom’s Version of Popcorn Cake

*nothing is measured – hence why Mom does not bake!

Marshmallows
Butter
Popcorn
Mini Eggs

Directions

1. Put this much butter in a large pot and melt on low

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2. Pour this much marshmallows on top of the melted butter.  Melt on low, stirring occasionally

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3.  When marshmallows are almost melted, start popping popcorn. Mom popped 3 bags

Pour the popcorn in a medium bowl and pick though, making sure no kernels make it though to the big bowl

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4. Pour marshmallows over top

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5. Add Mini Eggs and stir

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6. Ditch the spoon and get your hands in there!  haha, Mom was struggling with the spoon, she buttered up her hands and started ‘mixing by hand’.  Though this is not suggested as the marshmallows are HOT!

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7. Press into a well greased bundt pan

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8. Wrap in and let set

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9. Enjoy the ‘extra’ that didn’t fit in the pan

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This is the best part! Just like when you are making Rice Krispy Squares, the warm marshmallows make it so gooey and delicious!  When it is warm it just seems so much sweeter! I like to sit down with the bowl and a fork…

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10. When the cake has set, turn it onto a cake tray.  It will probably stick, you will need to ease it out with something that will not scratch your bundt pan

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Slice with a serrated knife and enjoy!

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This was delicious! Mom did an awesome job, once again!  Thank you so much!


Chocolate Cake

May 9, 2015

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Last week was Dad’s Birthday, this year he requested a chocolate cake with chocolate icing.  I didn’t want to do just a plain cake so I went looking for new icing techniques.  This one caught my eye and turned out pretty good!  Cake was delicious also, rave reviews!

Happy Birthday Dad!


Daring Bakers Do Focaccia

April 27, 2015

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For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch

Focaccia? I had heard of it, but didn’t really know what it was, other than a bread.  AHHH! More bread!  I had to do a little research to find out what it really is.  Basically, focaccia is an Italian flat bread, seasoned with olive oil and herbs and is sometimes topped with a variety of toppings, (putting me in mind of pizza).

Rachael, the host, provided us with four different recipes to use but also gave us the option for use a different one we liked.  As this was totally  new to me I immediately went to Google, and Pinterest to search out more visual instructions, different options and variations.  I was happy to see there were MANY variations with very different results.  While searching  hundreds of recipes on Pinterest I saw this one, Focaccia Bread from Handle the Heat, to me it looked perfect!

Focaccia Bread

Adapted from Handle the Heat

1 3/4 cups warm (110-115°F) water
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
2 tsp parsley + more for sprinkling
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 1/4 cups (23.63 or 670 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus coarse sea salt for sprinkling
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Garlic
Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, yeast, 2 teaspoons of the chopped rosemary, sugar, and half the flour.

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2. Stir to combine. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and on low speed add in the remaining flour, salt, and 1/2 cup olive oil.

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** I was very concerned with the amount of olive oil going in this recipe, a full cup!  I am not a huge fan of the flavour of olive oil, but I went with it…

3. Once the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and knead for 5 to 6 minutes, or until smooth and soft. If the dough is really sticky, add in another tablespoon or two of flour.

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4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl.

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5. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, at least 1 hour. Make ahead: place the dough in a large plastic bag, or divide in half and place in two plastic bags, and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. If frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge or for a few hours at room temperature. Proceed with the recipe.

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WOW did it rise!  I don’t think I have ever had this kind of success with dough rising – I was kinda excited and hopeful!

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6. Coat a baking sheet with the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. (I made 2 smaller ones instead of a big one, so divided the oil between 2 pans)

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7. Put the dough onto the pans and begin pressing it out with your fingertips to fit the size of the pan. Coax and stretch the dough to fit the entire pan, or just about.

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8. Spread your fingers to make little holes all the way through the dough. ( I found a wooden spoon handle worked better)

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9. Cover the dough with plastic and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F.

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10. Brush the focaccia with the olive oil on the pan and sprinkle liberally with coarse sea salt and the remaining parsley.

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** for my second one I grated fresh garlic and fresh Parmesan cheese

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11. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before cutting and serving.

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They look and SMELL delicious!

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Nice and golden on the bottom

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I am not sure why, but I was expecting a ‘dense and tough’ bread.  Nope. The bread had a wonderful texture, soft and chewy.

Love it!

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The plain was so flavourful.  There was no taste of the olive oil which I had feared.  I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t taste the yeast.  Generally, when I make homemade bread it has a yeasty back taste to it, blah!  This was just perfect.  It didn’t need anything.

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The addition of the garlic and Parmesan was fantastic! It was like gourmet garlic cheese bread.

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Thank you Racheal for a wonderful challenge!  I wasn’t thrilled when I saw another bread challenge, but I was finally successful and I am optimistic about my focaccia future.  I am looking forward to trying it again with different toppings.


Mickey Mouse Cake

April 25, 2015

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I was asked to make a Mickey Mouse cake for a 1st/3rd Birthday party.  They showed me a picture of what they wanted and I think it looks just like it.  The empty space was for the big ‘1’ candle they had.  Happy Birthday Gabe and Charlotte!


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