Saturday 18 April 2015

Holiday afternoon teas with our buddies

All too soon the school holidays have drawn to a close. As teachers we love school holidays. We've had some lovely family times, completed a couple of projects, and caught up with some of the friends we don't see during the busy school term. As per tradition we made tasty afternoon teas for our guests. This is my delicious Chocolate Mud Cake with Toffee Frosting. The cake is super easy to make and the toffee frosting makes a nice change from butter cream. It's a good keeper, so if like us you have multiple groups coming, one big cake will last 2 to 3 days and many hungry people.

I also made this popular favourite, Sticky Lemon Slice, as well as Panforte (recipe to be blogged soon).

These are a super Simple Sausage Roll recipe that are perfect for whipping up when time is short. The recipe is simple enough for the children to easily help with its making. We've made them a nice dainty size for little hands. They can be either refrigerated or frozen once assembled, then quickly cooked when required. 

Simple Sausage Rolls

1 x 450g tube of sausage meat
1 small onion, finely sliced
1 peeled and grated carrot
1 egg
2 slices of bread - blitzed into crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 sheets of ready rolled puff pastry
1 egg extra for glazing

Preheat the oven to 200deg. C. and line a baking sheet with baking paper. 

In a large bowl combine the meat, diced onion, grated carrot, egg, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and cumin. Stir well to combine. 

Cut each pastry sheet in half, spoon the sausage mixture evenly along the centre of each rectangle of pastry and smooth out. 

Use a pastry brush and water to dampen one side of the pastry. Roll the pastry over the filling. The water will seal it together.

Beat the extra egg, and using the pastry brush again, glaze the tops of the sausage rolls. 

Cut each rectangular into individual sausage rolls - each about 3cm long. 

Place on the lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. 

Leave the sausage rolls for a few minutes to cool a little before transferring to a serving platter. 

It has been lovely to see all our friends and relations. Our Little Miss has been missing small company, and it's hard to believe that 6 years of motherhood has flashed by. Happy days xx 

Thursday 9 April 2015

Pear and Passionfruit Shortcake Recipe

When one of my clever friends gave us a dozen beautiful passion fruit she had grown in her garden I wasn't initially sure how to do justice to such a lovely gift. I didn't want the fruit to end up just like the super sweet 'stuff in the jar'. Luckily, having spent the Easter break at the farm, the pear trees were overflowing with fruit and so a match was made. I've always liked shortcakes; my mother often made them when we were children, and they are a great way to make the most of any seasonal fruit. I'm already contemplating the onset of the feijoa season! 

Pear and Passion Fruit Shortcake

125g butter
125g caster sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
the juice and zest of a lemon

the pulp from 5 passion fruit
2 tablespoons icing sugar
5 pears

Preheat the oven to 180deg. C. and line a 25 x 25cm slice tin with baking paper. 

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

Fold in the zest and juice of the lemon, followed by the sifted flour and baking powder. 

Turn the batter out onto some cooking film; wrap and chill the mixture briefly while you prepare the fruit filling. 

Scoop the passion fruit pulp out of the skins. 

Mix the pulp with the icing sugar in a large bowl. 

Prepare the pears one at a time by peeling and cutting longways into quarters - as shown.

Cut the stem and core from each quarter, then cut each quarter length-ways into three. 

Gently stir the pear segments into the passion fruit. This will stop the pears from going brown while you finish preparing them. 

Spread three-quarters of the shortcake batter into a lined baking tin. 

Arrange the pear segments onto the cake base. Drizzle the remaining passion fruit pulp onto the shortcake. 

Dot the remaining quarter of the batter over the pears in small blobs. 

Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Leave to rest in the tin for 10 minutes before serving warm.

 This cake also stores well in the fridge, and can be easily reheated a slice at a time by about 20 seconds on high in the microwave.

Happy baking! xx 

Friday 3 April 2015

It's not too late to make a batch of these beautiful Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross buns are one of the great joys of the season. It is not too late to mix up a batch of these beauties this weekend. Time being short, I modified the method from my usual in order to speed up the mixing process. 

Hot Cross Buns
Makes 2 dozen

For the buns:
1 cup milk
1 cup hot water
4 teaspoons instant dried yeast - use the one in the sachet, it's always fresher.
100g softened butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
5 cups high grade flour
3 cups mixed dried fruit - this year I used 2 cups of raisins, 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1/2 cup chopped crystallised ginger

For the crosses
3 tablespoons flour
1-2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
a plastic disposable piping bag

For the glaze
3 tablespoons honey

Measure all the ingredients except the flour and fruit into a large bowl. Whisk them together; down worry if the butter stays in lumps.

Add the flour and using one hand stir the mixture around until a dough forms. 

Transfer the dough to an oiled bench and knead until the dough is smooth and resilient when pressed. 

It is a sticky little number, so just persevere even when it seems to stick to everything. 

Once it's sufficiently elastic, sprinkle the bench with a little flour and knead the fruit into the dough. 

Oil the mixing bowl (no need to wash it) coat the ball of dough in the oil. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap that has been dampened with water on the inside. 

Leave the dough in the bowl in a warm place until it has at least doubled in size - as shown. 

Once sufficiently risen, turn out of the bowl and knead lightly. 

Preheat the oven to just 40deg. C. 

Divide the dough into two and cover the half you are not working on. 

Divide each half into four, then each four into three individual buns. 

Shape the buns by rolling then in small circles between the bench and the open palm of your hand as shown. 

Place them onto a lined baking tin and cover with a large piece of plastic food wrap that has been spread with a mixture of oil and water. 

Put into the 40 degree oven to prove for about 30 minutes. The buns should have doubled in size as shown. 

While they prove, mix up the cross paste. Mix the flour, sugar and water to form a soft paste. Add more water if the mixture is too stiff. Transfer the paste to a small disposable piping bag. 

Once the buns have risen, take them from the oven and reset the temperature to 200deg. C.  

Snip off the end of the piping bag and pipe lines across all the buns to form the crosses as shown. 

Once the oven has reached 200deg. C. bake the buns for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Melt the honey and use a pastry brush to glaze the buns with the honey while they are still warm. 

Now find the butter and some friends, and you are ready for an Easter celebrating. These buns are best freshly baked, but can be heated the next day to warm and freshen them up.