Thursday 27 June 2013

Apple tArt on A dAy

Fridays are Funky Phonome days at Little Miss 4's preschool. For tomorrow all the children have been instructed to bring something beginning with 'A' that they can tell a story about. As food is such an important feature of our family life, Amelia chose to bring an 'A' treat. Having made it together, she will have plenty to tell her little buddies at sharing time.

Apple Tart

4oz butter
4oz caster sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

4 apples
juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons jam - I used gooseberry, but apricot would be just as good

Preheat the oven to 175deg. C.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and beat again. Fold in the sifted flour and baking powder.
Wrap the pastry and chill while you prepare the apples.

Peel, core and slice the apples.
The Man-of-the-House taught LM4 how to cut things up with a chef's knife.

Put the slices into a bowl of water and lemon juice so they don't brown during preparation time.

Take the pastry from the fridge and roll it onto a sheet of baking paper with plastic wrap on top of the pastry. This will stop it sticking to the bench and rolling pin.

Once rolled to the correct size, remove the plastic wrap and gently press the pastry and baking paper into the tin.

Once the pastry is rolled, dry the apples in a tea towel and combine with the extra caster sugar and cinnamon.

Arrange the apples into the pastry shell and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the pastry and apples are golden brown.

Check the pastry is cooked in the centre as you don't want a soggy bottom.

Let the tart cool a little. Sieve the jam and liberally spread it over the tart top to give it a lovely glossy finish.

The best parts of all - sampling the mixture and licking the spoon.

LM4 just loves taking tasty treats to share with her buddies.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Delicious Date and Apple Pudding with Toffee Sauce - Great for any night of the week!

What is it about winter's nights that leave us longing for warm comforting puddings? I've been looking for a good sticky date pudding for a while now, without much success. I adapted this one from a Countdown Food magazine recipe. The original recipe picture looked a little dry, so I adjusted some of the measurements and added some granny smith apples to make this little beauty.
The cake itself makes an excellent pudding served warm or a cake at any other time of the day. The caramel toffee sauce is really easy to make and could be used as an accompaniment for all sorts of pudding options.
Date and Apple Pudding with Toffee Sauce
200g dates - chopped
3/4 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 granny smith, or similar cooking apple
150g butter
150g brown sugar
3 eggs
250g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Toffee Sauce
50g butter
250g brown sugar
250ml cream
Preheat the oven to 175deg. C and line a large cake tin with baking paper.
In a small bowl combine the chopped dates, boiling water and ground ginger. Stir and set aside to cool and soften.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, at room temperature, one at a time and beat after each addition.
Peel, core and chop the apples. This step needs to be done quickly so the apples don't start to brown.
Stir the sifted flour and baking powder into the creamed butter and sugar. 

Then add the baking soda into the dates and fold into the batter with the chopped apple pieces.
Pour the batter into the cake pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, the cake is golden in colour and springs back when pressed.
While the cake is baking make the Toffee sauce by combining the butter, brown sugar and cream in a medium saucepan. Stir until the butter and sugar are melted and simmer for about 5 minutes until the mixture thickens a little.
Allow the sauce to cool a little before serving as it will be molten hot. Pour the sauce into a jug or boat and let you friends or family serve themselves.
Let the cake cool for about 20 minutes before taking it from the tin as it will easily break while hot from the oven. 

Serve in squares with the toffee sauce, cream or ice cream.
This a quite a large cake so you might need to invite a crowd. Otherwise, the cake is equally delicious served cold in lunch boxes, or you can re-heat it in the microwave and have another round of pudding.
Happy baking! 

Saturday 15 June 2013

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Chip Biscuits

 Whenever I make food for groups of people one of my first considerations is what interesting and different foods can I make for the gluten free people. I'm sure they must get sick of rice crackers and meringues all the time!

One of my classes is currently studying the requirements of a gluten free diet. Since the class doesn't usually get the opportunity to make sweet baked items, I thought they might enjoy these little gluten free treats. I adapted this recipe from an early gluten free cookbook. The original called for a mixture of rice, soy and cornflour; I have made it easier with a premixed baking flour from Bakels. These biscuits are super tasty; the GF flour makes the texture reminiscent of chocolate brownie. Made with easily sources ingredients, everyone will be scrambling for more.

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Chip Biscuits 

makes about 24 medium sized biscuits

125g butter
125 brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g Bakels Gluten free Health Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
200g chocolate chips

Check the ingredient lists on the vanilla, cocoa and chocolate chips to ensure there is no hidden gluten fillers. Some thickeners can often contain glutenous ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 175deg. C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat well.

Sift the flour, baking soda and cocoa powder together. 

The gluten free flour mix seems to take longer to sift and it tends to stick together. 

Fold the flour mix into the butter and sugar mix. Lastly add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Roll spoonful lots into balls and place on the lined tray.

Gently flatten the balls a little.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. 

They will still appear quite soft and wont firm up until they start to cool. Don't try to handle them until they have cooled a little as they are very delicate when hot.

Call up your friends, these are a great morning tea treat to share.

Thursday 13 June 2013

My Mother's Recipe for Date Chocolate Slice

This is my mother's recipe for Date Chocolate slice. It's actually the first time I have ever made it because we usually eat it when we visit our family on the farm. A market goer that Mum knows liked it so much he requested the recipe. 

One of the great advantages of blogging recipes is their availability - they are always there to be looked up whenever and wherever required, and sharing them with friends is as easy as giving out a web address or looking up a facebook page. 

I am not sure of the origin of the recipe, as Mum has been making it for years.

Little Miss 4 helped me with baking the square. The picture doesn't do justice to the actual amount of flour spread around the kitchen! 

Date Chocolate Square

3/4 cup dates
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 tablespoon butter

Put into a pot and cook until thick. Stir occasionally so the dates break up and a thick paste is formed.

4 oz butter
4 oz caster sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons custard powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 175deg. C

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy.
Sift the dry ingredients together and fold them into the butter and sugar mixture.

Roll the mixture out between two pieces of baking paper - it is too delicate to roll directly onto the bench and the baking paper makes it easier to get onto the baking tray.

Spread the date mixture onto half of the rolled cake mixture and fold the remaining half over by lifting the paper to enclose the filling.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the top starts to turn a golden colour.

Ice with the following once cold:

1 tablespoon butter melted
the juice of a lemon
approximately 1 to 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
Blend the icing together. Add a little water if it is too dry.

Slice the square up as required to prevent the cake from drying out before it is served.

Happy caking!

Monday 10 June 2013

Baked New York Style Cheesecake

While I should have been baking sensible lunch box related treats, winter weather just kept  bringing the idea of baked cheese cake into view. As you can tell, I love cheese cake. It's probably my favourite sweet treat. 

Having not made a baked cheese cake in years, I didn't even know where to start looking for a recipe. So, after a quick book shelf scout around I adapted this one from a recipe in a little book simply entitled Sweet Food. 

The original recipe had a sour cream topping, but preferring the classic New York style, I left it off and also substituted the plain biscuit base for a spicy Gingernut option.
It's super easy to make. The hardest part is getting the baking time correct.

New York Style Baked Cheesecake

250g gingernut biscuits - crushed
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
100g butter - melted

500g cream cheese, at room temperature - don't use the low fat version, it wont work for you.
3/4 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
the juice of one lemon
the zest of two lemons

Line the sides of a 20 to 25cm loose bottom baking tin with baking paper. Pre-heat the oven to 175deg. C.

Finely crush the biscuits and blend with the spice and melted butter. Press the biscuit mixture into the base and sides of the lined tin. Cover and chill while you make the filling.

Beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and glossy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the vanilla, zest and juice. 

Pour the mixture into the crumb base and bake for 50 minutes until the mixture has risen a little, is firm, but still has a wobble in the middle. Turn the oven off, open the door and leave the cheesecake in the oven to cool for about an hour. 

Take from the oven and allow to cool completely before covering with food wrap and refrigerating overnight. 

Once chilled, unveil by standing the baking tin on a large glass or mug and pulling the sides of the tin down to release the cake. Carefully peel off the paper and loose the bottom using a spatula. Slide the cake onto a serving platter. 

Cut using a large knife - cleaning the knife in between each cut in order to keep the slices neat. Serve with a little whipped cream and whatever fruit you have handy. 

Surprisingly easy to make, this cheesecake is always a crowd pleaser. 

Child's Travelling Art Set

Little Miss 4 just loves a birthday party - her buddies, the cake, dressing up in a pretty dress to 'look flash', playing games, singing happy birthday, and giving her precious little friends a birthday gift. She just loves choosing the present. This time around we decided to make something clever and useful for the birthday boy. 

I borrowed the basics of this idea from a design I saw at the craft market. LM4 was given a similar type of thing with a folded black board sheet and chalk; she loves it and we have used it many times as a travelling source of amusement when we go on plane trips or out to restaurants.

I wanted the art set to be cute, portable and practical. I started by raiding the stash for some boy fabric. Having realised just how much pink flavoured fabric I have in reserve, I found some cute little puppy's, nice red apples and plain red fabric for one of the inside pockets.

 I started by drafting out a simple pattern for the outside shell, and two identical inside pockets big enough to hold a simple paper pad and some little pencils.
Decide on where the folds are going to be and mark with a pencil line. I allowed 1 cm for seams.

Cut out two body panels, two pockets and one body panel from thin fusible quilters batting. Mark the fold lines with a notch so you know where to position the pockets.

Fold the pocket panels in half and iron flat. For the middle pocket - line the pocket seam line up with the notch marks in the inside body panel. 

Sew the pocket on using a straight stitch. I zig zagged the raw edge first to stop it from fraying when the pencils are put in their little pockets.
Fold the pocket up to enclose the seam. Iron in place.

Position the second folded pocket at the bottom of the case and line it up with the edge of the body panel. Sew around the outside using an 8mm seam.

I divided the first pocket into 8 little pencil pockets. I divided the width, less 2 cm for seams into 8 and measured and marked the pockets with tailor's chalk. Sew each line, and back stitch at each end so they don't come undone.

Layer the outside body panel on top of the batting. Lay the inside body panel over the top of the outside panel with the right side together. Pin around the outside and sew using a 1 cm seam. Leave an opening in the centre of one end in order to turn the case in the right way. 

Clip some of the seam allowance from the corners and turn the case in the right way. Push the corners out so they make a nice neat edge. Iron the case.

Using a needle and thread sew the opening closed using a mattress stitch so it cannot be seen.

At this stage I put the pencils, pad and sharpener into the case to test where to put the button holes and buttons. 

I trialed the button hole on a bit of spare fabric and batting before measuring and sewing the button holes into the bag.
After extensive consultation with LM4 about which button would be the best choice: 
"Boys don't usually pink flowers on their art sets"
We decided on the bells instead of buttons. 

All done and ready for a new home.

Our favourite little Huggle-monster trying out his new art set on his third birthday! 
Happy Birthday Little Mister 3!