Archive for July, 2010

Lemon curd cupcakes for a special little girl

I am the baby in my family. I have a very tall older brother who goes by the name of Dude, who was my hero and tormentor (sorry Dude) until I was old enough to run fast. Now that we are both adults (well, perhaps only some of the time) he is no longer my tormentor, but still manages to be my hero.

I was, and always will be, the baby sister in his eyes. When we were kids it was because I was always much smaller and knew less about the world than he did. Now it is because I am much shorter and know less about the world than he does! Being the baby sister has its benefits. When we were at the same university all his friends knew me and called me by the same nickname as Dude did. So I knew when someone was yelling “Snollie!” across campus it would either be Dude or one of his friends. (I seem to have a runny nose frequently, hence the name) Because they were his friends, and I was his baby sister, they began to treat me like their baby sister too. And I was lucky enough to gain some extra family members in the process!

When Dude started University he met a guy called Swede in his class. Swede is a wonderful guy from, you guessed it, Sweden. He and Chris used to party together, often telling us he was “too old for this sh*t”. On one of their nights out they met a beautiful girl called Nix, who became a regular in the crowd. After a few years of knowing each other (and my mom predicting it), Nix and Swede fell in love and got married. Swede and Mrs Swede then moved across the globe, eventually ending up in Australia.

When I moved over here, it was a comfort to know that I had family already here. Swede and Mrs Swede have always been honorary members of our family, and I know my parents and Dude feel exactly the same way. Mrs Swede (as mentioned in my sponge cake post) is an amazing chef. AMAZING. She has been a big influence in my cooking, and Frank and I get very excited when we go to the Swedes for a visit.

As of Monday at 4:30am there has been a new addition to the Swede clan of three. (The Swedes have one gorgeous mini-Swede already) To celebrate, I decided to put my new-found cupcake decorating skills to the test. Luckily I had bought new pink and purple food colouring last week, and some little flower cutters, so I was ready to go! Using my favorite recipe, I made some lemon cupcakes. I cut little pockets in them and filled them up with fresh lemon curd. Once the tops were on I covered and decorated them with fondant. Now they will be taken to see the new addition tomorrow morning, I can’t wait!

Lemon fondant cupcakes – adapted from “Little cakes with attitude” by Kate Shirazi

1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup soft margarine
2 eggs
zest of two lemons
1 tbsp lemon juice

jar fresh lemon curd
fondant icing
selection of food colours

Preheat oven to 180C/ 160C fan-forced and line a 12-hole muffin tin. Put all cupcakes ingredients in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Fill muffin cups and bake in oven for 20 minutes, until firm to the touch.

Take out and cool. Once cooled, cut holes into top of cakes and fill with lemon curd.

Put the tops on and cover in fondant. Colour and cut out extra fondant and decorate cakes. Enjoy!

Cupcake on Foodista

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The Baker’s oven cafe – The Rocks

My chiropractor told me that my body doesn’t like change. Despite me insisting that I love change and that change is good, she says my body doesn’t share my joy and likes to let me know it. I’ve always believed that because I had a lot of change in my childhood I enjoy it (and actually crave it), but being given this news made me ponder. And guess what I have deduced on my very own? I don’t like change!

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s always fantastic getting new things and seeing new places, but I seem to naturally resist big changes initially. On the plus side, having the memory of a goldfish allows me to adapt to things very quickly. So even if something changes, it only takes week or two and I’m feeling like it’s been that way forever.

“Why on earth is she telling us this?” you ask? Well, I started a new job on Monday. “And why is she telling us that?” you ask? Well, the job has longer hours at the moment, and I haven’t had a chance to get in the Pig Palace kitchen and cook anything because ‘my body is resisting’ and I am almost as tired as a hippo on a marathon. So, to make up for not cooking anything blog-worthy this week, I would like to share with you the most wonderful bakery/café that I found just down the road from where my new office is.

the Harbour bridge, in the diiiiiiistance...

The Rocks is a beautiful area of Sydney that is nestled against the Harbour Bridge. It is a tourist mecca, for obvious reasons, and despite that it is a wonderful spot to work in. According to The Rocks Website, the area encompasses the past, present and future. The Indigenous Cadigal people inhabited the rocky headland and surrounding shoreline for thousands of years. Then in 1788, Australia’s first European settlers-British convicts and their overseers-claimed the land and built their camp atop the sandstone cliffs.
The Rocks eventually grew from an open-air gaol into a vibrant port community. Its colourful history-filled with tales of ‘shanghaied’ sailors, rough gangs, and gritty life-can still be traced in the many surviving buildings from the last two centuries. But today the renovated former warehouses, sailors’ homes, and dens of iniquity house a unique mixture of fine restaurants, one-of-a-kind shops, and galleries showcasing both established and emerging talent.

The Bakers Oven café is situated at the end of George Street. It has a huge selection of fresh slices and Turkish delight in the window, and a spectacular display of muffins inside. This week alone I have had three muffins, three slices and two sandwiches. I am addicted to baked goods! The owner works alongside the staff, and everyone seems genuinely pleased to be working there. When I asked for permission to take a photo of the muffins, the owner was more than happy to agree. (Although I think she’s used to all the tourists taking photos by now…)

fresh slices in the window

I have had my fair share of slices and muffins in my time, but the Baker’s oven café’s are the best yet. My banana muffin this morning almost had me attacked by a seagull it was so good (again, I blame the tourists. DO NOT FEED THE BIRDS!) and the slice I took home to Frank had him silent for almost 10 minutes! The chocolate muffins are packed with chocolate chips, and the staff is always willing to warm them up for you without having to ask.

tasty muffins

The sandwich I ordered today was packed with veggies and made on the most delicious Turkish bread. Popped in the toaster, it was filled with melted cheesy goodness, and even managed to make me full. (A hard thing to do, I eat a lot) I decided to only eat half the hazelnut slice for dessert, but I had to try it as the owner recommended it as the best slice in the window. If you like hazelnuts, you’ll love this! It is packed with nuts and chocolate, and is the perfect ending to lunch. I rate the baked goods 10/10 lollcakes and will be popping in there at least 3 times a week…

veggie & cheese on Turkish - $8

hazelnut slice - $5

The Baker’s Oven Cafe

121 George St
The Rocks 2000 NSW

Phone: (02) 9247 9978

Pub cha – the Annandale Hotel

I was born in South Africa, which not only makes me proudly African, but also made me sad that we lost at the rugby on Saturday. Especially after Frank’s brother Dazza made me sing the national anthem on my own in front of 4 loyal Wallabies fans. Well, at least I can sing the whole thing, which not a lot of South Africans my age and older can proudly boast. 🙂

empty bowl, full tummy

When I grew up there weren’t many different cuisines available to the general public. We had pizza and pasta, and wonderful Indian curries, but no-one had really heard of pesto or gnocchi until I was into university. Chinese food was very basic, and the first time I encountered dumplings or dim sum was when I had been living in London for over a year. I’m heart-broken to know that I missed out on so many years of dim sum, so my mission is to make up for it as fast as possible!

building towers

It was Ferret’s birthday on Sunday. Being a purveyor of delicious food, she and Pistol once again picked a fantastic place for lunch. For 24 people. The Annandale Hotel is well-known for being the pub in which many famous bands had their gigs before they became signed. Attached to the back of it is a little food area that produces Thai during the week, and yum cha on weekends. Appropriately named ‘Pub cha’, the restaurant allows patrons to place their order at the counter and pay the same way.

fresh tofu spring rolls - $7

steamed beef dumplings $7

Having had some delicious dumplings at Shanghai Nights and Greenwood Chinese Restaurant lately (thanks to NQN’s great reviews), Frank and I didn’t have breakfast in anticipation. Arriving late, the staff managed to squeeze us in to the already-heaving table. We were handed check-lists with the dishes and  prices, and we marked down all the dishes we wanted to try. Only 15 minutes after handing the list to the bar our delicious dishes started coming out of the kitchen, and despite being on a table of 24 people they gave us the correct dishes we ordered.

prawn & spinach steamed dumplings - $6.50

soft-shelled crab - $16

Now I’ve had quite a few dumplings since I’ve moved to Sydney, and these were the best I’ve had! The steamed dumplings were delicate, the pork buns were fluffy, and the money bags had the tiniest hint of chilli. The calamari was melt-in-the-mouth, and the veggie spring rolls were packed with goodness! Frank and I put the food away in no time. Having only tried soft-shelled crab for the first time on Frank’s birthday, we ordered a plate with hesitation. It was so delicious that it is now our new favorite dish! Who would have thought little spidery legs would taste so good!

chicken satay skewers - $5

pork buns - $3

If you like yum-cha but are put off by the pushy trolley ladies, the Annandale Hotel is the place to go. It is one of the only places you can get a schooner and a spring roll, and has a wonderfully social atmosphere. I give it 9/10 lollcakes, and Frank and I can’t wait to get back there!

Our table of 5 had 12 dishes and edamame beans to share, at a cost of $25 per person.

Pub cha @ the Annandale Hotel
17 Parramatta Road
Annandale
NSW 2038

Cupcake decorating class @ my favorite store!

I am incredibly lucky. My parents hold a strong belief in education and its value in changing one’s life for the better. Regardless of what we wanted to do in life, my dad was always keen to support our further education. And unlike many of my uni mates, I came out of a degree with no debt thanks to my kind and long-suffering parents.

To this day, my brother and I continue to further our education. My brother has chosen the path of hard work and crazy hours to complete some incredible qualifications, while I have chosen the path of sugar and baked goods to get some better looking products coming out of the Pig Palace kitchen! As Mom says, whatever floats our boats…

When we first moved into the UK edition of the Pig Palace (Pig Mansions), I was keen to teach myself how to make things. When put to the test, I think we humans have the capability to learn anything. I managed to teach myself how to make sushi rolls, but there was one skill that continued to elude me: working with fondant/sugar paste/plastic icing. I came home one day with a packet of blue fondant and a manky old sponge cake, and told Frank that I was going to teach myself to cover sponge like a master. When looking at the disastrous result, Frank couldn’t keep the laughter out of his voice (and he is normally very good at keeping a straight face), it looked utterly ridiculous. We took a photo, and when I find it I will post it for you all to have a good chuckle over. I think sometimes we have to admit defeat and call for professional help.

My board, ready to go

And cue the Essential Ingredient!! As I spend many a free hour in this store, I noticed they had cupcake decorating classes. As the classes work with fondant, I thought I’d sign up and get rid of the mystery of fondant. As the class books up quickly I had to wait over a month to get stuck in! As yesterday dawned I eagerly packed my apron (not the fake Masterchef one, Boss-man said that might come across as slightly arrogant…) and my camera and hit the road.

leaves, shells and stars - practice run only!

Arriving at the store I was welcomed into the classroom by Sandra, the fondant guru. Our tables were layed out with three un-iced cupcakes, piping bags and lots of little tools. As I was early I whipped out the camera and started setting up so I wouldn’t miss a thing – until I realised I hadn’t put the card in the camera. And I had no spares. So all the photos on this post were taken with my new devil-phone (still getting used to the “smart” phone, I am resisting technology) and aren’t of the same quality as normal.

cupcake no. 1, buttercream swirl

Sandra showed us the way with buttercream, taught us how to cover cupcakes with fondant, how to colour fondant and how to pipe leaves and letters. For a 2-hour-long class I learned all the skills I was looking to master, and it left me wanting to learn more. Sandra was a fantastic teacher and made everything look simple.

cupcake no. 2, leaves

AND I came away with a mini piping set and three rather snazzy-looking cakes! (Which were promptly consumed by my defacto niece. She loved the flowers though, a girl after my own heart)

cupcake no. 3, the Sophie special!

Wanting advice on a cake I was making for Ferret’s birthday, I was guided by Sandra after the class to the decorating isle and given lots of good advice (and I spent lots of money on fun decorating thing). If you’re looking to learn the basics of buttercream and fondant, I would highly recommend this class. It is great for rookies and intermediates alike!

Details of all classes can be found and booked on their website.

The Essential Ingredient
731-735 Darling Street
Rozelle
NSW 2039

Tel: (02) 9555 8300

Black forest lollcakes

Back in June, when Mama C and I hit the local food stores of Newcastle, I picked up a lot of speciality ingredients that sounded wonderful. The only problem was, I had no idea what to do with them. Having faith (or blind hope) that an opportunity to use all my goodies would present itself in time, I pushed all my new things into the grocery cupboard.

When passing the preserves isle on that fateful trip in June, I saw my favorite jam on special. Not knowing which flavour to choose, I picked the fruit that sounded the most delicious – cherry. Despite the fact that I’ve never tasted it or that I don’t eat jam very often these days, I thought it was a great idea. Now every time I open the cupboard to get the oats out (good for the heart and they warm us up, yum!) I see a beautiful little jar of cherry conserve winking at me from the top shelf. And I have to use it!!

Tomorrow is my last day in my current company. Our gang at ‘No Care’ has been through some very tough times, but we’ve had a lot of fun along the way. To celebrate my second-last day, and to spoil those I am going to miss (while the ones I’m not going to miss are away) I decided to make cupcakes. As the gang has tasted a lot of my cupcakes in the past six months, I wanted to do something a little different. I don’t think I’ve met a person that doesn’t like black forest cake. Even though the name reminds me of a laxative (Black forest tea. Don’t leave the tea bag in for too long apparently…) the cake is amazing. But what about black forest cupcakes eh? A perfect excuse to use the cherry conserve in the cupboard!

Taking my favorite basic cupcake recipe, I tweaked it to make the cupcakes extra chocolate-y. I mixed the cheery conserve with the smallest drop of brandy and used it as a filling. If you can find cherry brandy, it would be ideal, but no-one near me seemed to stock it. Lastly I topped it with whipped cream and some grated chocolate, and voila! Black Forest lollcakes…

Black Forest cupcakes – recipe adapted from “Cupcake Magic” by Kate Shirazi

1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup margarine, softened
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
300ml thickened cream
4 tbsp cherry conserve
1-2 tsp brandy/cherry brandy
1 tbsp icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan-forced, and line a 12-hole muffin tin. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and castor sugar into a large bowl. Add in margarine, eggs and milk; and beat until light and fluffy.

Divide mixture between 12 muffin cases, and bake for 20 mins until the tops are firm. Remove from the pan and let cool. While cooling, mix the cherry conserve with the brandy. Whip the cream with icing sugar until stiff.

Cut pockets into cupcake, fill with cherry mix, and pop the tops back on. Put cream into a piping bag and pipe swirls on top of the cakes. Sprinkle grated chocolate on top. (and pop on a cherry if you have, I didn’t…) And enjoy!

Pecan pie with brandy cream

Tis the time for Christmas in July. My lovely English friend Ferret doesn’t understand the concept, as where she comes from Christmas is in winter (“like it should be”, I can hear English people say) Always a nation to use any excuse for a party, the Australians do Christmas in July fantastically well! Having spent my fair share of Christmases in the cold, not only has having a warm Christmas become even more wonderful, but in winter I do love having a mini-Christmas to pig out on all the winter fare!

Our friends the Hoggetts decided to throw a Christmas-in-July at their house two weekends ago. Mr Hoggett, being English too, made the meanest roast to be seen on this side of the Equator. It brought back memories of London! Keen to join in, I made my apple pie with a Christmas twist – I made brandy cream to go with it. And now Folks, I am sad to reveal that I am addicted to brandy cream. So much so that when Frank made his request for what birthday baked good he wanted, it was definitely being served with brandy cream.

Frank and my birthdays are both in the middle(ish) of the year. I think this is the best time of year to have a birthday, as there is an equal amount of time to wait between Birthday presents and Christmas presents. Given the choice of what to have for his birthday treat, Frank chose pecan pie and carrot cupcakes – pecan pie for his actual birthday, and carrot cupcakes for the weekend celebration. (Although Frank claims he didn’t actually ASK for pecan pie, apparently I volunteered it…) As I took him to Steersons at King Street Wharf for the best steak on this earth, we were both too full on Thursday night to have the pecan pie. So, we kept it for the weekend to take the place of the carrot cupcakes and it lasted brilliantly. After pizza with the family, everyone came back to the Pig Palace to finish off the pie smothered in brandy cream. It was a perfect winter dessert to finish off a lovely evening!

Pecan pie with brandy cream – recipe adjusted from Women’s Weekly’s Old-fashioned desserts recipe book

This recipe can be made 1-3 day in advance. Uncooked rice or dried beans used to weigh down the pastry are not suitable for eating. Use them every time you blind bake; cool, then store in an airtight jar.

2 cups (280g) toasted pecans
6 egg yolks
½ cup (175g) golden syrup
½ cup (100g) firmly packed brown sugar
90g butter, melted
¼ cup (60ml) thickened cream for pie and 150ml for the brandy cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
tbsp brandy

Pastry
1¼ (185g) plain flour
1/3 cup (55g) icing sugar mixture
125g cold butter, chopped
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Grease 24cm-round loose-based tin. Make pastry.

Place nuts in pastry case. Combine egg yolks, syrup, sugar, butter and cream in small bowl; whisk until smooth. Pour mixture over nuts; bake, uncovered, in moderate oven about 30 minutes or until set. Cool. Whip remaining cream until stiff, pour in icing sugar and brandy and whip until combined. Serve pie topped with cream.

Pastry:
Blend or process flour, icing sugar and cold butter until combined. Add yolk and juice; process until ingredients just come together. Knead dough on floured surface until smooth. Cover; refrigerate 30 minutes. Roll dough between sheets of baking paper until large enough to line prepared tin. Ease dough into tin, press into side; trim edge. Cover; refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan-forced. Place tin on oven tray. Line pastry case with baking paper, fill with dried beans or rice. Bake, uncovered, in moderate oven 15 minutes. Remove paper and beans; bake, uncovered, in moderate oven about 5 minutes or until browned lightly.

Exciting stuff, the Versatile Blogger Award!

What a fantastic way to start a Monday. I came in this morning to discover I have been given the Versatile Blogger award by the two wonderful Melissas of ‘Queen bee eats for a day’. It is great to know that foodie peers read and enjoy the recipes I’ve been posting!

I am extremely honored to have received this award, and it was very unexpected.  So, I thank the Queen Bees from the bottom of my heart for this honour! Thank you ladies!

The Guidelines for accepting this award are:
– Thank the person who gave it to you.
– Tell 7 things about yourself.
– Pass the award on to 15 bloggers whom you have recently discovered, and think are fantastic!

 

7 Things about Lollcakes

1. I am a South-African girl living in Sydney, with an accent that no-one can decipher anymore…

2. I have a mass of curly blonde hair, and due to this Frank calls me ‘Cheesehead’

3. I’ve been baking since I was 7ish, and have my first cookbook to prove it

4. I don’t like mixing sweet and savory flavours, very unadventurous of me!

5. I am a naturally highly strung person, so Frank is my saving grace and my most tolerant audience

6. I am trying to encourage my defacto niece’s early love of cooking (she is 6). My aunt gave me my first cookbook, and I am hoping to have the same positive (?) influence on Sophie

7. I think about food all the time. ALL THE TIME.

 

15 Wonderful Blogs I follow, in no particular order:

1. 17 and baking – http://17andbaking.com/

2. Eat, show and tell – http://www.eatshowandtell.com/

3. The Elegant Sufficiency – http://elegantsufficiency.typepad.com/the_elegant_sufficiency/

4. Not quite Nigella – http://www.notquitenigella.com/

5. The Unappreciated baker – http://theunappreciatedbaker.wordpress.com/

6. Queen Bee eats for a day – http://queenbeeeatsforaday.wordpress.com/

7. Tes at home – http://tesathome.com/

8. Frills in the Hills – http://www.frillsinthehills.com/

9. The Twisted Kitchen – http://twistedkitchen.blogspot.com/

10. Little Red Said… – http://littleredsaid.blogspot.com/

11. More Than A Mount Full – A Culinary Journey – http://www.morethanamountfull.blogspot.com/

12. A well-feathered nest – http://awellfeatherednest.blogspot.com/

13. Mmm, Tasty! – http://www.mmmtasty.ca/

14. Anula’s Kitchen – http://www.anulaskitchen.blogspot.com/

15. Living in the kitchen with puppies – http://livinginthekitchenwithpuppies.blogspot.com/

 

Thanks again for including me in this wonderful award Queenie Bees, and Happy Monday everyone!


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