Friday, September 24, 2010

Christmas Fruitcake Baking Spree

Dear Friends,

At the beginning of the week, my husband and I went shopping for baking supplies to make my yearly Christmas fruitcakes. We could only manage to buy half of the supplies because it came to more than 30kg!
Each year I spend more than one week baking, baking, baking. This year will be the same, except I suspect I will be baking more. Anyways, after 2 days of baking I made 6 recipes. My goal is 20 recipes so I still have a ways to go.

These fruitcakes are dense and moist. I've cut down on the sugar to almost minimum, letting the fruit sugars take over.

Thank you to those who have sent in your early orders. Your cakes have been made and are happily mellowing in my boxes. For those of you who would like to order the fruitcakes, here's the sizes and prices.

Star: 4 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches height, 150gm, $8
Cupcake: 3 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches height, 150gm, $8
Small oval: 4 1/4 x 3 1/4 x 1 3/4 inches height, 250gm, $12

Round: 4 3/4 x 2 1/4 inches height, 500gm, $25
Small oval

Small oval
Large oval: 8 1/2 x 4 x 1 3/4 inches height, 800gm, $35

All fruitcakes are mellowed in dark rum for 10-12 weeks. They are wrapped in plastic wrap, aluminium foil and then Christmas fabric with a nice ribbon to complete the look.

If you would like a cake larger than the 800gm one, you will have to let me know as soon as possible. Last day for orders will be Wednesday, 29th September 2010.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vanilla Cupcakes (specially for Levine)

From time to time I get requests for a good cupcake recipe.  Here's one I enjoyed using for many years:

8 oz (225gm) softened butter
8 oz (225gm) castor sugar
8 oz (225gm) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat your oven to about 175 deg C.  Place about 18 paper cupcake cases (regular size) into muffin tins.

Sift flour and baking powder in a bowl.  Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy.  Add in eggs one at a time, beating well in between eggs and scraping mixing bowl down.  Add vanilla essence.  Turn mixer speed down to minimum and fold in flour (don't take too long otherwise the cake will be tough).  Alternatively, fold in flour by hand.

Sppon the mixture into the cupcake cases (about 3/4 full) and bake for about 20 minutes.  I usually turn the tins about 10-15 minutes into baking (don't do it too soon otherwise the cakes may collapse).  Test doneness with a skewer.  If the skewer comes out clean, cake is done.

Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.  Then remove the cupcakes and cool on a rack.  If you plan to frost the cake, a butter cream frosting will be good.  You can store the cool cakes in an air tight container for up to 3 days.  If you choose to keep the cakes in the fridge, take them out 15-20 minutes before eating.

You can also make smaller cupcakes which means your yield will be higher. 


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Recipe for Pate a Choux (specially for Dotz!)

This recipe is taken from the book On Baking (A Textbook on Baking and Pastry Fundamentals), page 412.
The recipes in this book are meant for restaurant or hotel kitchens which means the portions are large.  Here is the halved recipe and my tweaked version:
Milk                   120ml (if you want a crisper version replace milk with water)
Water                120 ml
Salted butter      105gm
Plain flour           150gm
Sugar                 2 teaspoons (can omit but I prefer it with a bit of sugar)
Eggs                   5 with 1 tsp vanilla extract

Turn on oven to 180deg C.

1.  Place milk, water and butter in a pot.  Bring to boil.  Make sure the butter is full melted.
2.  Remove from heat and immediately add in all the flour.  Vigorously beat trhe dough by hand.  Put the pan back on the heat and continue beating the dough until it comes away from the sides of the pan.  The dough should look relatively dry.
(N.B.  I used a non-stick pot so cut down the process quite a bit).
3.  Transfer the dough to your mixer and beat at medium speed for a few seconds.  Begin to add the eggs one at a time
4.  Continue beating to add the eggs one by one until the mixture is shiny and silky but firm.
(N.B. This step is very important because beating adequately will incorporate enough air for the puff to rise).
5.  Put the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe onto non-stick sheet pans.
6.  Bake at 180deg C (varies with different ovens but it doesn need to be hot initially to rise properly) until pastries are dry and crisp, or golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
7.  Let pastries cool on a rack before filling.



Here's what I had for afternoon tea today. 
I know.  I know. 
You are wondering why there's more ice-cream than cream puff?
Well, my generous daughter scooped the ice-cream.
What can I say?
It's not much, really.  It's quite a small profiterole.
I enjoyed it very much.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pate a Choux (Choux Pastry)

My daughter simply loves profiteroles and has been asking me to make her some.  A few days ago I made them using my old recipe from 35 years ago!  It was still great.  However, since my husband bought me a professional baking book (yes, the academic kind!) I decided to try the recipe in there today.  Choux pastry is used for cream puffs and eclairs. It is quite unique because it is cooked before baking.  Here's what I did:

First, I combined the butter, milk and water in a pot and heated it to a boil to melt the butter.

Then I added the flour to the butter, milk and water mixture and hand beat the dough until the mixture left the sides of the pot.

Next I transferred the hot dough to my mixer and added the eggs one at a time while beating the mixture till it was smooth and silky.

I then put the dough into a piping bag and piped the shapes I wanted.  Here's the regular cream puff shape.

Here's the eclair shape.  I popped these into the oven for about 25 minutes or till golden brown.

Here's my three shapes and sizes of puffs.  They were so delicious on their own I ate 3!  My son squeezed chocolate syrup in one and popped it into his mouth!!  Now I'm waiting for my daughter to come home from school and eat her cream puffs with vanilla ice-cream (profiteroles).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Baking for a small event

I baked for a small event (20 people) yesterday.  The first time I baked for DS a few weeks back, I made mini pizzas and American carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  Since she requested for my mini pizzas again, I decided to go with two kinds of miniature cupcakes, Coffee with chocolate chips and cream cheese frosting (most people love this frosting) and "Resistance is Futile" cupcakes which is my triple chocolate recipe.

I used two kinds of fresh sausage meat, three colours of capsicum and two kinds of cheeses for the mini pizzas.  Here's one ready for the oven.

Halfway through cooking in the oven, the cheeses are nicely melted and the pizza looks good!

Packed in the box!  Colourful, aromatic and simply yummy!

The Coffee and chocolate chip miniature cupcakes turned out well.  I added a mocha chocolate coffee bean on top to complete the look.

Don't they look cozy all together? 

If you have a small event (maximum 30 people)) and need a few varieties of desserts (the only savoury item I make now are mini pizzas) let me know and I'll see if I can help.  Prices start from $4 per person (2-3 miniature items).  I will need at least a week to plan and prepare since I don't stock everything at home. For orders above $100 I will send the cakes to you.

For larger events, I will need even more time to block out my schedule, plan and prepare.  The largest group I've baked for is 140 people.

Come October I'll be baking 4-5 types of desserts for 50 people. It's going to be fun planning the taste, texture and colours for this event.
Now I'm off to bake some cream puffs!