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Lazy Sunday afternoon enjoying Cheese & Bacon Scones

bacon-scones

Deutsche Rezept unten

This is my first post also translated into German. I lived in Frankfurt for 8 years before moving to NZ so I decided after a year of blogging I should at least translate the recipes if not the dialogue.

It was the morning after the night before a few late birthday celebrations for P, it had been a long night with plenty wine consumed. Feeling a little low on energy the following Sunday afternoon the cure had to be something savoury, comforting and carbo loading for P. I’m not a big savoury scone fan but P is always asking me to make them so since it was still his birthday week (yes we like to extend celebrations in our house) and they are one of the quickest things to knock together I made a batch for afternoon tea. They came out of the oven around lunch time and the smell was so tempting we proceeded to eat them straight out of the oven slavered in butter for our lunch instead. I have to say, I might be converted to savoury scones!

You can play around with the cheese and bacon quantities depending on how you like them but these where fairly light in both cheese and bacon flavour.

Ingredients – makes about 6-8 large scone

  • 200g self raising flour
  • 80g butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 rashers of streaky bacon, thinly sliced
  • 100g grated cheddar cheese
  • 150 of milk
  • 1 tblsp Dijon mustard

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
  2. Fry bacon till brown.
  3. whisk the mustard into the milk.
  4. Place flour, butter and salt into a bowl.
  5. Rub butter and flour together until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.
  6. Add the grated cheese & bacon and mix through.
  7. Form a well in the centre of bread crumb mix and add the milk kneed gently to form a soft dough.
  8. Transfer dough onto a floured board and press the dough out with hands (rather than using a rolling pin) until it is about 2cm thick.
  9. Either use a round cookie cutter to cut out the scones or slice the scones into squares.
  10. Place on a floured baking sheet and brush tops of scones with a little egg wash.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes until risen and golden brown, they will sound hollow like bread when tapped on the base if cooked through correctly.

Auf Deutsche

Zutaten

  • 2oog Mehl
  • Mehl zum Ausrollen
  • 2 TL Backpulver
  • 80g Butter
  • 1/4 Teel. Salz & Pfeffer
  • 4 scheiben Speck
  • 100g Cheddar Käse
  • 150ml Milch
  • 1 EL Dijon Senf

Zubereitung

  1. Den Backofen auf 180 °C vorheize
  2. In einer Schüssel Mehl, Backpulver, Peffer und Salz miteinander mischen.
  3. Die Butterstückcken mit dem Mehl verreiben.
  4. Jetzt den Käse und senf zugeben und in den Teig einarbeiten.
  5. Die Milch über die trockenen Zutaten geben und mit einer Gabel nur so lange verrühren, bis das Mehl überall benetzt ist.
  6. Dann auf einer bemehlter Flaecher etwas 2cm dick ausrollen. Mit einem Glas oder runden Cookiefoermchen (c. 6cm Durchmesser) ausstechen.
  7. Foermchen auf ein Backblech geben und 20 bis 25 Minuten goldbraun backen.

Sie schmecken am besten frisch zubereitet

Daring Bakers Challenge – Roast Beef & Caramelised Onion Vol au Vents

volauvent

The month seems to whiz by and before I know it it is The Daring Bakers Challenge again and as usual I just manage to complete mine in time, although I do have the benefit of time zones on my side so even if I am behind on my actual reveal day I am still ahead of others.

When the challenge was revealed this month my heart sank, I had images of parties in the 80s with vol au vents, sausage rolls and cheese and pineapple hedgehogs! Not to mention all the other images that go a long with the 80s, like shoulder pads, teased blond hair and ra ra skirts! I am certain I haven’t touched a vol au vent since those days, although a Belgian friends insists the ones they serve at the Belgium Beer cafes in Auckland are really good. P was thrilled, it meant pastry, which to him is a staple, and in no certain terms was I to turn it into a sweet dish. So here are my savoury vol-au-vents filled with Caramelised onions, roast beef and horseradish cream.

Once I got my head around making vol-au-vents I decided to make plenty puff pastry so that I could freeze some of the dough and use it later in a dessert :o) The pastry was easy to make and really worth the effort, so much better than shop bought puff pastry. So for those who want to make their own puff pastry, please see recipe below and if you click on the Daring Baker link you will be able to see how everyone else did this month.

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter

plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:

Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.

Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)

Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that’s about 1″ thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:

Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10″ square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with “ears,” or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don’t just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8″ square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:

Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24″ (don’t worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24″, everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24″ and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:

If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you’ve completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.

Cutting the vol-au-vents

Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.

For smaller, hors d’oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides.

Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.

Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)

Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)

Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.

Fill and serve.

Chocolate Mousse & Whisky Layer Cake

domecakeIt was Ps birthday and the conversation went a bit like this ,”what kind of cake would you like for your birthday hon”, quickly followed by “but not one I’ve already made before”, which I’m sure all Bloggers can understand, you can’t repeat the same blog twice can you. “But I really would like that big layer cake you made the other week”, he was refering to the Dobos Torte from the Daring Bakes Challenge which he ate most of. “Ah but I have already posted that one on my Blog, I need something new”. Ps response was a big sigh, “but that’s the one I fancied”. “You can have anything, absolutely anything else you have ever seen in a cake shop, a restaurant or on the net…how exciting is that”? “Hmmm”, was his reply, “Ok how about one of those cakes we saw at the Hospitality Show then” …oh..oh now I know something big was coming because all the cakes on display were from the trades show competitions. “Which was that dear?”  “The dome shaped one with all the different chocolate layers, you said you’d make one one day”. Hmm, I must have conveniently forgotten but I suppose it karma for not letting P have his first choice. So that is how Ps birthday cake was born, that and his love for malt whiskey from Islay. Just don’t tell him how much of his single malt I used in the cake, we dragged it half was across the world from Islay but I don’t think his intention was for it to go into a cake! It did taste divine though and he really enjoyed it and said it was better than the Dobos Torte.

Ingredients – Sponge (can be made a day ahead)

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 120g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 140g castor sugar

Method – sponge

  1. Preheat over to 180 degrees centigrade.
  2. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper (30×40)
  3. Whisk egg whites until fluffy.
  4. Add one spoon of sugar at a time to egg whites and whisk each time to form a stiff meringue consistency. It is important to add sugar gradually to prevent mixture from liquifying.
  5. Mix in egg yolks.
  6. Sift cocoa and flour and fold gently with a metal spoon into egg mixture, keeping as much air as possible in mixture.
  7. spoon into prepared baking tray.
  8. Bake for 10- 12 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Do not over bake as sponge will become hard and you will not be able to mould it.
  9. Remove from greaseproof while warm and then lay back onto the same greaseproof paper. Cover with a cloth to help keep it moist.
  10. Allow to cool before assembling.

Before you make your mousse you need to cut your sponge to fit the bowl, the mousse will set quickly so you need to be ready to layer and assemble quickly. The cake is made up of layers of sponge and mousse which is all sealed with a sponge ‘jacket’.

Line the bowl with cling film (which will help remove it from the bowl once set). Cut a strip of sponge to fit the bottom of the bowl. Cut more strips and shape them to fit the sides of the bowl, trying to avoid any gaps. Cut 5 circles of various sizes to fit inside the bowl starting from the smallest that will sit close to the base to the largest which will be the last layer. If you don’t have enough full circles you can make a layer up by piecing a few left over strips together (it won’t be seen anyway).

Ingredients – dark chocolate mousse

  • 200ml whipping cream
  • 1 tsp gelatine granuals
  • 100g dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 tablespoons water

Method

  1. Place gelatin, water and 2 tablespoons of your cream together in a bowl and warm gradually in microwave until gelatin has dissolved.
  2. Whisk cream to soft peak consistency. I recommend you whisk both lots of cream at this point (for the milk chocolate mousse also).
  3. Add dissolved gelatin to whipped cream and mix but be careful not to over mix the cream (you want to keep the cream fluffy).
  4. Add the cool melted chocolate to the cream and fold together quickly but gently keeping the cream light.
  5. Put aside and quickly make the milk chocolate mousse

Ingredients – milk chocolate whisky mousse

  • 200ml whipping cream
  • 1 tsp gelatine granuals
  • 100g milk chocolate, melted
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons of whisky

Method

  1. Same method as the dark chocolate mousse just add the whisky to the hot melted gelatin before adding to the cream.

Assembly of cake

  1. Your bowl should be already lined at this point with sponge. If you wish to make it more alcoholic you can brush each layer of sponge with extra whisky. Pour half the dark chocolate mousse onto the sponge in the the base of bowl.
  2. Place smallest layer of sponge on top of mousse.
  3. Pour half of the milk chocolate mousse on top of that and then repeat the last two mousse and sponge layers finishing with a sponge layer.
  4. Cover with cling film and allow to at least two hours to set before removing from bowl and covering with ganache.

Ingredients

  • 150g 70% cocoa chocolate, chopped
  • 100 ml whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons of whisky

Method

  1. Bring cream to almost boiling point.
  2. Add chopped chocolate and stir gently till melted.
  3. Add Whisky and stir till smooth.
  4. Remove cake from bowl and place on a wire rack with a plate underneath to catch the ganache.
  5. Pour ganache over cake and spread with a pallet knife to cover all of the cake

Lemon Drop Biscuits

lemondropsThe name Lemon drop wasn’t initially what I was going to call these biscuits but there are two reason why they ended up with this title. The first an obvious is the drop of lemon curd in the centre of the biscuit but the second reason really sealed their name. As I took my tray of 15 biscuits out of the oven I somehow let them slip from my hand and the whole tray landed on the floor smashing all but the three in the photograph. So the lemon biscuits dropped. Thankfully the floor had just been cleaned and I go by the four second rule anyway so we rescued most of them, even though they looked a disaster they tasted delicious. And the bonus was that I saved enough for my Blog (well a bigger plate of biscuits might have looked better). I think it is the first time I have ever dropped any of my baking before but it didn’t stop there that day, it just deteriorated through to the photo shoot. I had this beautiful antique china cup that I thought I could use upside down as the cake stand, since a normal cake stand would be far to big for three biscuits! Yet again I had ‘dropsy’ and dropped my china cup onto the floor and it smashed as I was about to arrange it in front of the camera. I won’t be making dropsy biscuits again but I’m sure they are only jinx for me and not you so I dare you to try them :o)

Ingredients – makes 15 small biscuits

  • 6oz/170g Flour
  • 4oz/115g Butter (soften but not melted)
  • 2 oz/56g icing sugar
  • 1/2 jar of lemon curd

Method

  1. Preheat oven on bake (not fan bake) to 160 degrees centigrade and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  2. Sift flour into bowl.
  3. Add butter and sugar and rub into flour.
  4. Knead all the ingredients together to form a dough but do not over knead otherwise the dough will be come tough and the biscuit will be hard.
  5. Divide dough into 15 and mould in hands to make small balls.
  6. Place balls of dough onto baking sheet and press thumb in the middle to create and indent.
  7. Fill indent with half a teaspoon of lemon curd
  8. Bake for 25 minutes or until a very light golden on edges.
  9. Cool on a wire rack

Gorgonzola Cheese & Pear Tart

gorgandpear

Surprise! I have decided to make something savoury, well there is fruit hidden in there too and it is classed as baking! Anyone would think I lived on desserts alone…almost!

I am fortunate to travel back and forth to Sydney frequently with my job and my first stop (after work of course) is the supermarkets, grocery stores, butcher and fishmonger to see what produce they have that I can’t buy in NZ. I have bought many kitchen gadgets back with me but I think it is the fresh produce that I bring through immigration that receives some funny looks. Although we have beautiful fresh produce in NZ we don’t have access to as many European products and what we do get usually costs 4 time the price. Being European I always crave the French and Italian cheese and this is what I always bring back from my trips to Sydney. Most people buy duty free but I buy food produce! This trip I brought back gorgonzola cheese, which since it is vacuum packed and from Italy NZ quarantine will allow it into the country, they are pretty strict with their rules but for good reasons. It’s hard to believe that the identical brand and quantity in Australia can cost $5 when in NZ it costs $19, so perhaps you can understand my reason! I would never dream of making a tart with a 150g of cheese that cost $19! particularly one I was experimenting with.

So here is the recipe for my little luxury made from Italian made cheese, bought in Australia and imported by hand to New Zealand!

Ingredients

  • 350g short pastry
  • 150g gorgonzola cheese
  • 2 pears, slice and cored
  • 4 eggs
  • 400ml milk
  • salt & pepper

Method

  1. Flour an 26cm loose bottom tart tin and place onto a baking tray for stability when putting into the oven.
  2. Heat oven to 160 degrees centigrade.
  3. Roll out short crust pasty to fit bottom and sides of tart tin and place in tin.
  4. Whisk together eggs and milk and season with salt & pepper.
  5. Slice gorgonzola cheese
  6. Layer base of tart with pears and slices of cheese, fanning them around the base to form a nice circle pattern.
  7. Gently pour the egg & milk mixture over the pears and cheese.
  8. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the mixture puffs up like a souffle (it will shrink down again when cooled) and is golden brown. Test the texture with you fingers to see that the egg is set before removing from the oven.
  9. Serve warm with salad.

Lemon Curd Yoghurt Ice Cream

lemon-icecream

This blog is donated  to LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellow. LiveSTRONG With A Taste Of Yellow has been established to raise awareness of cancer issues world wide. It is a way for all food and wine bloggers to share their stories. The happy and the sad, the struggles and the triumphs. For the past three years, Barbara of winoandfoodies has gathered food bloggers around the world to create a yellow dish in support of the Lance Armstrong Foundation to raise cancer awareness.

Although we have several months to go till it is summer again here in New Zealand we have just had a glorious week with blue skies and sunshine. It turned my thought to summertime and ice cream and within that split second it went from thought to action was my ice cream maker bowl was in the freezer compartment in preparation. I still have oodles of lemon curd in jars and I had just made a batch of Greek yoghurt the night before so what better ingredients to create a summer dessert, albeit still winter in NZ but there is no harm in encouraging the summer to approach earlier! I only prayed that the weather would hold long enough to get it made and eaten, I couldn’t imagine consuming it if our temperatures dropped back down to 4 degrees again!

I’ve not made ice cream from yoghurt before, and I’m not sure it is officially classed as ice cream since it is not made with a custard base, but what the heck. The end result was delicious, very citrusy, tart and light on the palette, I am converted to yoghurt ice cream and feel a little more virtuous since I made low fat Greek yoghurt!

Ingredients

  • 600ml low fat Greek yoghurt (or regular of course!)
  • 6 dessert spoons lemon curd (approx 1 small jar)
  • zest of one small lemon

Method

  • Whisk together the lemon curd, zest and yoghurt.
  • Add to ice making machine and prepare as per manufacturers instructions.
  • Remove from machine once done and eat! How easy is that? Oh how I love my ice cream maker!

Banoffee Mousse Cake – Gluten Free

banofee

This recipe evolved from the banana teacakes I made in my last post. Typical of my mind to do a full circle from gluten, dairy free, ultra healthy teacakes to something as decadent as banoffee pie! But I started thinking, yes the teacakes are nice and light and tasty and oh so virtuous but …….what about a bit of chocolate or caramel and bingo….banoffee pie came right in there. I decided to top the banana almond gluten free base with a caramel mousse which would match the  light teacake more than the traditional heavy caramel.  My work team cake testers gave it the thumbs up too, it had all the right flavours but didn’t leave you feeling as full as a traditional banoffe pie.

It takes a little longer to make than banoffee pie but certainly worth the effort and gluten intolerant people at least you can indulge in something you wouldn’t normally get the chance to eat. I used ready made caramel (yes I know that’s cheating) from ‘highlander‘, Nestle products which is sweetened condensed milk turned to caramel in a tin but if you aren’t able to source this or something similar I have also offered a link to an easy recipe to make caramel sauce.

Ingredients – banana almond gluten free base

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 3 very ripe bananas, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Method

  1. Heat oven to 160 degree centograde
  2. Grease and line an 8 inch loose bottom cake tie (with at 2 inch high sides)
  3. Place the egg yolks, honey and sliced bananas into a bowl and blend with a whiz stick or electric whisk for 2 minutes. Mixture will become light, smooth and fluffy, doubling in volume.
  4. Add ground almonds to egg yolk mixture and fold through.
  5. Whisk eggs whites to ’soft peak’ consistency.
  6. Fold egg yolk and egg white mixture together, do not beat as this is key to the cake rising and staying light.
  7. Spoon into cake tin and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Note, the sponge does not go very brown, probably because there is no fat or high sugar content.
  8. Leave in tin for assembly of cake.

Ingredients – Carmel mousse

  • 4 bananas, sliced
  • 350g caramel sauce
  • 3 teaspoons gelatin powder
  • 200 ml whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup boiling water

Method

  1. Beat carmel sauce till smooth (if using tinned).
  2. Whip cream to soft peak consistency.
  3. Dissolve gelatin powder in 1/4 cup boiling water until completely dissolved (or to manufacturers instructions, mine is 1 teaspoon to 200ml of liquid).
  4. Beat dissolved gelatin into caramel sauce.
  5. Fold cream into caramel, keeping it light.

Assembly of cake

  1. Cover teacake base with a layer of sliced bananas.
  2. Pour mousse over bananas and place in fridge, allow at least an hour to set.
  3. Decorate with more whipped cream and chocolate flakes.

Easy caramel sauce recipe here

Banana & Almond Teacakes – Gluten & Dairy Free

bananatea

The banana teacakes came about last week when I was in Sydney for work and we had a few bananas ripening perfectly for banana cake. Although the apartment we were staying in was well stocked it wasn’t really set up for a full on backing session so no sooner had my mind turned to baking which it permanantly does, did I realise that there was no flour or baking powder in the cupboards. Amazing..a cupboard without the essentials ingredients!

Not to be deterred, I found ground almonds and we had plenty of eggs, so I figured if we used enough eggs and whisked them to a meringue consistency it would keep the sponge cake light. With just 4 ingredients, ground almonds, honey, bananas and eggs I was surprised how well the cakes turned out, so much so I had made them again this weekend once I was back home so that I could photograph them and share the recipe on my Blog. I felt no guilt at eating these cakes twice in a week, after all one could say they were actually very healthy!

These tea cakes come out very light and fluffy due to them not having any fat content as well as no flour. I made a double batch this weekend because all last week, after eating the banana teacake, I was thinking about how well the teacakes would make a great base for a gluten free banoffee pie-cake, which I will post in the next day or two. As I said I constantly think of baking even while working! Believe it or not but I have a pad next to my laptop in work to make notes as ideas pop into my head! Of course I am busy at work but we women are good at mutli-tasking aren’t we?

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 3 very ripe bananas, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • sliced almonds to decorate, optional

Method

  1. heat oven to 160 degrees centigrade.
  2. Place the egg yolks, honey and sliced bananas into a bowl and blend with a whiz stick or electric whisk for 2 minutes. Mixture will become light and fluffy, doubling in volume.
  3. Add ground almonds to egg yolk mixture and fold through.
  4. Whisk eggs whites to ‘soft peak’ consistency.
  5. Fold egg yolk and egg white mixture together, do not beat as this is key to the cake rising and staying light.
  6. Spoon into mini cake moulds or into cupcake cases and sprinkle sliced almonds on top.
  7. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Note, they do not go very brown probably because there is no fat or high sugar content in them.

Claire Clark New Zealand Master Class

dessert-mainI was fortunate enough and very excited to nab one of the last tickets to see Claire Clark at the New Zealand Hospitality Trade Show at the end of August. It’s not very often that prestigious chefs venture over to NZ, with a small population base perhaps they feel that the following would be too small but Claire had no problem filling her three classes that weekend.

It was fabulous to see Claire in action, she is so ‘down to earth’ and seems to be at ease presenting to the public. She is certainly top in her craft and made the most elaborate of dishes look easy. It was a honour to watch her work and listen to her stories, the experience was quite humbling to realise how far one has to go to reach that standard. But claire has done the hard yards and deserves that spotlight, it would be nice to see her reap more rewards in the media, if of course that is something she wanted. But perhaps she prefers the honesty of working in top restaurants with a team of like minded people. So thank you Claire for visiting NZ and I hope we see you again in the future.

For those unfamiliar with Claire Clark here is a write up from the NZ Herald about her classes.

Widely recognised as one of the world’s foremost pastry chefs, UK-based Claire Clark has an unparalleled pedigree. From 2005 until April this year she was the head pastry chef at the Michelin-starred Napa Valley restaurant The French Laundry where the price for a nine-course tasting menu is US$240 ($356). In 2005 she was named Best Pastry Chef by Restaurant Magazine and in 2007 her cookbook Indulge won Best Dessert Book at the World Gourmand Awards.

pt_dessertClark, who was pastry consultant at the House of Commons and a senior lecturer at London’s Le Cordon Bleu, was also the only female recipient of the Meilleur Ouvrier de la Grande Bretagne (Best Crafts Worker of Britain) – the highest award presented for professional excellence. So it’s quite a coup that Hospitality NZ has managed to lure her to Auckland to be the headline act at its trade show later this month.

In New Zealand, Clark will be demonstrating mint delice, a dish she describes as “one of the most fun things I created at The French Laundry. It looks very clean and sharp but it’s actually very technical and it eats well.”

A mint delice consists of two different types of chocolate ganache layered on top of a chocolate feuilletine (a crushed sugared wafer biscuit) and mint chocolate chip parfait all sitting inside a chocolate hoop.

“There’s no other flavour apart from the mint and the chocolate so there’s nothing to confuse – nothing unbalanced or unstructured,” she says.

Clark completed a two-year pastry course at London’s Thames Valley University and honed her skills at a series of upmarket London establishments including The Ritz, Claridge’s and Terence Conran’s Bluebird restaurant.

SPCA Cupcake Day Fundraiser

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The SPCAs celebrated it’s official national CupCupcake day in New Zealand on the 31st August 2009 were cupcakes cooks around the country baked up a store in aid of supporting the charity. The idea was to bake and sell as many cupcakes as you could manage, donating 100% of the contributions back to the SPCA.

Since my two little (or not so little anymore) cats were from the SPCA originally I was keen to support the cause and I don’t need much of an excuse to bake cupcakes or anything sweet for that matter. My colleagues at work had promised to buy the cupcakes if I brought them to work decorated with little animal faces.celebrations will commence on Monday 31st August 2009 – the official national Cupcake Day for the SPCA. SPCA Cupcake Cooks throughout New Zealand will descend on their schools, workplaces and social groups with batches of yummy homemade cupcakes to sell. 100% of the proceeds will go to the SPCA.

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