Posts Tagged 'baking'

Beskuit – South African rusks…

Frank loves South African food, a trait for which I am very grateful. Or shall I say: for which he is very grateful. I’m not sure what I would do if he didn’t like it! When we first started dating I bought him some biltong, which is similar to jerky, and he loved it. (I also gave some to a British colleague who said “what is this disgusting stuff?” to which I replied “if any other South Africans see you pulling that face or hear what you just said you’ll be getting a beating. Just so you know.”)

One of the most traditional South African foods is the humble rusk. Historically, rusks evolved, along with biltong, during the latter country’s early pioneering days as a way to preserve bread in the dry climate. It was also extensively used during times of war or when travelling long distances.

In the UK and Australia they are fed to babies, but our rusks are crunchy and delicious and designed to be dunked into a piping-hot cup of tea or coffee. (But not for too long, you don’t want mush on the bottom of your mug) They aren’t too sweet, and everyone who tried them loves them. Especially Frank! When I made the first batch of these babies Frank was sneaking them out the oven and munching them before they were dried.

I’m lucky enough to work with a South African guy whose mother has passed down the family rusk recipe to his beautiful wife. She, in turn, passed it to me as my family doesn’t have a rusk recipe that I know of. And now I pass it on to you! If you have any South African friends, making these will bring back their memories of home. And if you are South African, these are much better than Ouma rusks!

Beskuit – recipe from Estelle Meyer

1 kg self raising flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 cups of bran
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sultanas
500gms butter, cut into cubes
500ml cultured buttermilk
3 eggs
2 cups sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C fan-forced.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and rub in the butter. (If you’re in a hurry, you can melt it first).

Mix together the eggs and the buttermilk and add to the dry mixture, mixing thoroughly with your hands.

Put mixture into a bread/loaf pan, and bake for an hour, until golden.

Cool in pan and reduce oven temperature to 100C, then cut mix in slices like bread. Cut those slices into thin strips and place on baking paper directly on the oven racks and leave to dry for 3 hours.

Can be stored for up to two weeks in an airtight container, but I doubt they’ll last that long…

April Daring Baker’s challenge – Maple mousse!

When I think of maple syrup I think of Canada in the autumn, with beautiful red leaves on the trees and a slight nip in the air. So this challenge is perfect, as Sydney is feeling the autumn chill and needs the perfect sugary pick-me-up!

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favourite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

Our lovely host Evelyne wanted to share a bit of her maple-syrupy home with us for this challenge. Since Lisa and Ivonne of DB fame challenged her to include an edible container she decided to make a Maple Mousse served in a baked Bacon Cup, topped with a meringue. But luckily she offered alternatives for the bacon-fearers, as I don’t have a fear of bacon but a fear of bacon filled with mousse!

Maple mousse is a wonderful idea, and I was grateful that the mandatory items of the challenge were that we must make a) one of the 2 maple mousse recipes listed, and b) an edible container in which to place the mousse for presentation. Evelyne also allowed us to substitute maple syrup if we couldn’t find any, which is exactly what I had to do.

Since there is a competition for the best edible container, I thought I’d veer from the provided recipes and try a lovely coconut base that I have used before. Sadly when it came to making the container it flopped. So instead I made a little  spoon out of shortcrust pastry, the recipe of which I got from my go-to recipe site. Hopefully the wonderful ladies will forgive me for this and still count me as having completed the challenge!

The maple mousse recipe was easy to follow, and I substituted the maple syrup for 50% red gum honey and 50% golden syrup. The honey flavour was light and very rich. The challenge was fun, and the recipes sound, so thanks Evelyn for setting us such a great challenge!

Recipe Sources:
– Maple mousse is adapted from Jaime Oliver is not my boyfriend
– Pastry decorations are from Not Quite Nigella’s shortcrust recipe

Maple Mousse:

1 cup (240 ml/ 8 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
4 large egg yolks
1 package (7g/1 tbsp.) unflavoured gelatine
1 1/2 cups (360 ml. g/12 fluid oz) whipping cream (35% fat content)

Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.
In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).

Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.
Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.

Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.
Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.
Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your containers, top with decorations and serve.

Hot Cross Buns! Happy Easter!

I have a huge fear of worms, and worm-like creatures. It is my one irrational fear, and they are the only creatures that’ll have me screaming like a 10-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert.  I’m not the biggest fan of spiders and cockroaches, but I can easily just walk away and ask Frank to remove them. But worms, worms make me shudder and want to scratch my back and gag all at the same time.

The Pig Palace always gets an invasion of crawlies in April. I’m not sure if it’s the sudden drop in temperature or the increase in rain, but they move in with us in droves. Lucky for me the only worm-like creatures to make it into the perimeter so far were the five slugs sitting on top of the bin outside. (Which Frank was ordered in a hysterical voice to remove before I moved.)

The most irritating crawlies at the moment are the cockroaches. We’ve had our share of the ants with giant noses, but they only go for almond meal and are easy to get rid of. The cockroaches however scurry all over the place when you least expect it, and they don’t even bother to tread softly. Last night I opened the kitchen cupboard to find a jet-black roach staring at me. He then proceeded to waltz into the dark recesses and scratch around for food. I could actually hear him trying to decide between the peanuts and the risotto rice. Despite my frantic waiving of my flop-flop, he lived to feed another day. I’m almost certain that one of these days I’m going to come home and find him with my dressing gown and slippers on, drinking a glass of our best red. Or in my bed with his arm around me.

So, to use up all the good snacks from this roach’s selection and to celebrate Easter, I have made a batch of hot cross buns. They are delicious straight out of the oven, and also great toasted the next day. And they are roach-free!

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!

Hot Cross Buns – recipe from the BBC Good Food website

FOR THE DOUGH
450g strong white flour , plus extra for dusting
2 x 7g sachets easy-blend yeast
caster sugar
150ml warm milk
1 egg , beaten
50g unsalted butter , melted, plus extra for greasing
oil , for greasing

THE SPICES AND DRIED FRUIT
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
100g currants

TO DECORATE
4 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar

Put the flour, yeast, caster sugar and 1 tsp salt into a large mixing bowl with the spices and dried fruit and mix well.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk, 50ml warm water, the beaten egg and the melted butter.

Mix everything together to form a dough – start with a wooden spoon and finish with your hands. If the dough is too dry, add a little more warm water; if it’s too wet, add more flour.

Knead in the bowl or on a floured surface until the dough becomes smooth and springy. Transfer to a clean, lightly greased bowl and cover loosely with a clean, damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place to rise until roughly doubled in size – this will take about 1 hr depending on how warm the room is.

Tip the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for a few secs, then divide into 12 even portions – I roll my dough into a long sausage shape, then quarter and divide each quarter into 3 pieces.

Shape each portion into a smooth round and place on a baking sheet greased with butter, leaving some room between each bun for it to rise.

Use a small, sharp knife to score a cross on the top of each bun, then cover with the damp tea towel again and leave in a warm place to prove for 20 mins until almost doubled in size again. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.

When the buns are ready to bake, mix the plain flour with just enough water to give you a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag (or into a plastic food bag and snip the corner off) and pipe a white cross into the crosses you cut earlier.

Bake for 12-15 mins until the buns are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. While still warm, melt the granulated sugar with 1 tbsp water in a small pan, then brush over the buns.

Hertzog cookies

Please don’t get me wrong, I love Australia. But when I’m walking down the street and I hear a South African accent, I realise just how much I miss home. I’m not sure if I miss the lifestyle I had there; but I miss my friends and family, and that feeling of “familiar”. We moved around a bit as a kid, so in total I have grown up in three towns and lived in three countries, and yesterday I had a minor crisis that I might end up forgetting my roots.

But really, the South African in me is as strong as ever! I speak Afrikaans to Frank quite often (and he has the grace to nod and give me what he thinks is the correct answer, even though he doesn’t speak the language. Although I think he nods and gives what he thinks is the answer whether I’m speaking Afrikaans or English…) and I regularly lapse into South African expressions, which tends to cause a bit of confusion. For example:
– Loll to Frank: “wow, he’s not the brightest khoki in the box, is he?”
– Frank to Loll: “yep, he definitely isn’t the brightest cookie in the box.”
At which point I was on the floor laughing at the fact that Frank thought I was just saying “cookie” in an Afrikaans accent! (For those who aren’t South African, a khoki is a felt-tipped pen.)

So, to celebrate our rich South African culture (and to make Frank a little chubby), I decided to make something I haven’t eaten in years: Hertzog cookies. These jam and coconut tartlets are known as Hertzog koekies in South Africa, and are part of every South African housewife’s traditional recipe collection. They were named after General J.B.M. Hertzog, prime minister of the South African Union in 1924.
These cookies are fairly easy to make, and taste amazing. I’m going to make another batch as soon as I can!

Hertzog cookies – recipe from Margaret Ramsbottom’s “Cooking is fun”

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup castor sugar
125g margarine/butter, softened
3 large eggs, separated
4 tbsp water
½ cup apricot jam
1 1/4 cup white sugar
2 cups desiccated coconut

Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan-forced
Sift Flour, baking powder and salt together. Add castor sugar and rub in butter.
Beat egg yolks and water together and add to dry ingredients, mixing to a soft dough.

Roll dough out thinly and press out circles. Line a greased muffin tin with circles. (I used a mini-muffin tin, but it’s best to use a mince-pie/patty pan tin)

Spoon a teaspoonful of apricot jam into middle of each circle.

Beat egg whites until soft peak stage. Add the white sugar slowly, while still beating. Fold in coconut and spoon the egg mixture onto the preserves.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes
Turn carefully onto a wire rack to cool.

Orange & coconut shortbread cookies

My brain was gifted to me in marble-form. For most of my childhood I carried the full collection of marbles, taking different ones out to suit the situation. (And, at times, they would get stuck in the bag and refuse to come out. Usually when my brother was trying to convince me I was an alien.)

However, I strongly suspect that when I reached adulthood my marble-container became perforated, and one or two began to fall out. There has been a substantial amount of rattling in there, but when I come to use particular ones they are nowhere to be found.
I find myself forgetting the simple things, like how I got home from work (sober, I promise). Or, if I did indeed send that letter to the client like I said I would. Or the time I broke a flat-mate’s expensive glass and convinced him that he did it when he was drunk. Or what I gave Frank last year for his birthday.

At first it was frustrating to realise that I’ve lost a couple of marbles, but I am comforted to know it’s a family thing. (;), only kidding family!) One day I am fully expecting to lift up the couch cushions and find those little marbles waiting for me, or perhaps Frank will slip on a couple while getting out of bed…

One day when I was having a quick search for my marbles, I remembered Frank had requested I make him some biscuits. So I had a quick look in my recipe books, and found this easy and delicious recipe. The dough feels beautifully silky when you roll them, and they look like slightly flat marbles when they come out! Be careful though, they are incredibly morish…

Coconut & orange shortbread biscuits – recipe adapted from AWW’s “Mix” book

250g butter, softened
Scant cup icing sugar
1 ½ cups plain flour
2 tbsp rice flour
2 tbsp corn flour
½ cup almond meal
½ cup desiccated coconut
2 tbsp orange juice
½ tsp orange blossom water (optional)

Preheat oven to 150C/130C fan-forced and line two baking trays with baking paper
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until pale and creamy.

Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until dough is formed.

Shape level tablespoons of mixture into balls and place 3cm apart on the baking tray. Flatten with a fork.

Bake for 25 mins or until firm. Leave to stand on the tray for 5 mins, and then place on a wire rack to cool.
Cover with additional sifted icing sugar if you choose.

Gingerbread biscuits

My nickname isn’t Piglet for nothing. Despite the fact that my mom thinks I look exactly like him (all I need is the pointy ears apparently), I think my appetite had more influence on my name. In London, the department I worked in was known for the amount of treats in the communal area.  There was always chocolate on the shelf, and people used to hang around the door at tea time to see what we had that day.

My line manager at the time, Bockers, (who I am proud to say is a very dear friend) used to bring in treats that his wonderful wife made. Her speciality was gingerbread biscuits. Her gingerbread biscuits were so delicious that Bockers and I almost came to blows many times in order to get the last biscuit.  Her biscuits were literally like a ray of sunshine, one of the few reasons I was flying out of my seat in excitement.
It got so bad in the office that Bockers would sneak the biscuits into the communal area, I would spy them out the corner of my eye, and we would run up and snatch them as fast as we could. We ended up counting how many the other person had and arguing that the last one was ours.

Bockers is one of those people who would be classified as an anchor in people’s lives. He is the eye in his friends’ internal storms, and he is the one that turns your frown upside down. He and his wife brought me a lot of joy during my time over there, and I thought I’d attempt to do the same to my team over here. The recipe is easy to follow, and (if you like ginger) the results are delicious. I hope they bring the people in your life as much joy!

Gingerbread biscuits – recipe courtesey of Catherine Richmond, thanks Catherine!

350g Plain Flour
Up to 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
100g of butter/margarine
175g of soft light brown sugar
1 egg
4 tablespoons of golden syrup

Pre-heat oven to 190C
Put the flour, ginger and soda into a bowl and rub in the butter.

Add the sugar and stir in the syrup and egg to make a firm dough. (don’t be afraid to get your hands in at this point)

Roll out dough to about 5mm thick and cut out your shapes.

Bake for 10-15 minutes (make sure you leave plenty of space between each shape on the baking tray because they grow!)

 

My nickname isn’t Piglet for nothing. Despite the fact that my mom thinks I look exactly like him (all I need is the pointy ears apparently), I think my appetite had more influence on my name. In London, the department I worked in was known for the amount of treats in the communal area.  There was always chocolate on the shelf, and people used to hang around the door at tea time to see what we had that day.

 

My line manager at the time, Bockers, (who I am proud to say is a very dear friend) used to bring in treats that his wonderful wife made. Her speciality was gingerbread biscuits. Her gingerbread biscuits were so delicious that Bockers and I almost came to blows many times in order to get the last biscuit.  Her biscuits were literally like a ray of sunshine, one of the few reasons I was flying out of my seat in excitement.

It got so bad in the office that Bockers would sneak the biscuits into the communal area, I would spy them out the corner of my eye, and we would run up and snatch them as fast as we could. We ended up counting how many the other person had and arguing that the last one was ours.

 

Bockers is one of those people who would be classified as an anchor in people’s lives. He is the eye in his friends’ internal storms, and he is the one that turns your frown upside down. He and his wife brought me a lot of joy during my time over there, and I thought I’d attempt to do the same to my team over here. The recipe is easy to follow, and (if you like ginger) the results are delicious. I hope they bring the people in your life as much joy!

 

Gingerbread biscuits – recipe courtesey of Catherine Richmond, thanks Catherine!

 

350g Plain Flour

Up to 1 teaspoon of ground ginger

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

100g of butter/margarine

175g of soft light brown sugar

1 egg

4 tablespoons of golden syrup

 

Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees centigrade (gas mark 5)

Put the flour, ginger and soda into a bowl and rub in the butter.  Add the sugar and stir in the syrup and egg to make a firm dough.

Roll out dough to about 5mm thick and cut out your shapes.

 

Bake for 10-15 minutes    (make sure you leave plenty of space between each shape on the baking tray because they grow!)

 

Healthy-ish lemon & poppy-seed muffins

As many a wise person said, music is the soundtrack to our souls. It’s funny how a piece of music, or a set of lyrics, just brings back a memory that you forgot was still there. For some people it could be a smell that brings back a memory, or incites a rush of feeling, but for me it is definitely music. (Although smells of baking are like giant hugs when you walk into the kitchen)

I sit typing this in our spare bedroom, with headphones on to mask the sound Frank’s virtual Grand Prix going wild on the xBox. (And of course it isn’t a real-virtual-Grand-Prix without deafening car revving!) I just grabbed our shared music player, and the first song to play is Bernard Fanning’s Thril is Gone from his Tea & Sympathy album. I didn’t know much about Bernard Fanning before I met Frank, having only heard one of his band Powderfinger’s songs back in South Africa. His voice is amazing, and his solo album just brings back the memories of Frank and I planning our move down-under. I can almost feel that excitement now, the idea of having a blank slate and being able to make the life we wanted out of the move.

Sitting in the Pig Palace over a year later (and after a weekend of family visits) I consider myself very lucky. I miss my family and friends terribly, but I have gained a second family here. I am also happy to say that friends are friends despite the distance or the busy-ness of our lives, and it is uplifting to know how many generous souls I have the fortune of knowing.

Anyway, enough of the soppy-ness for now. Since I’ve been on this (traumatising, torturous, cruel) diet I’ve been buying a lot more treats. I see delicious chocolates, and think “I really want them”, but since I can’t have them the next best thing is to buy them for Frank! I realise it isn’t the smartest thing to do, as one of these days I WILL actually get up in the middle of the night, eat all the chocolate in the fridge, eat all the sugar and sugar-containing products in the cupboard, and have Frank find me in the morning lying in a pool of ants. But alas I choose to torture myself this way.

As we had Frank’s family over for brunch today, I decided to whip up a batch of healthy-ish lemon & poppy-seed muffins. The recipe is really straight-forward, and is done in around 35 mins including cooking and prep. (But not dishes, that is Frank’s job…) If you feel like a nice quick snack for breakfast or tea, I would recommend them. Warm, with butter, and a delicious cup of coffee… ooh, coffee…*sob*

Lemon & poppy-seed muffins – from Australian Womens Weekly ‘Mix’ recipe book
(muffins can be stored in an airtight container for 2 days or frozen for 2 months)

1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1 1/2 cup white self-raising flour
90g cold butter, chopped
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1 1/4 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have it, use 1 1/4 cup milk and 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice)
1 egg, beaten lightly
2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tbsp poppy seeds

Pre-heat oven to 180C, 160C fan-forced. Grease a 12-hole muffin pan, or insert baking cups.

Sift flours into a large bowl. Rub in butter with fingertips.

Stir in sugar, buttermilk and egg. (do not over-mix, mixture should be lumpy.

Gently stir in lemon rind and poppy seeds and spoon mixture into pan holes.

Bake muffins about 20 mins. Stand in the pan for 5 mins before popping onto a wire rack to cool.


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