Monday, 27 April 2015

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Condensed Milk Frosting

I shaved a couple of minutes off my run this morning, so I'm celebrating this afternoon with cupcakes and coffee. I think that's what they call swings and roundabouts.

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Condensed Milk Frosting
Makes 12

For the Cupcakes:
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

For the Frosting:
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 - 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
Crumbled chocolate chip cookies for sprinkling

Make the Cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 12-hole cupcake pan with paper liners. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat again.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Gradually add half of it to the butter mixture. Beat on low speed until just combined. Add the buttermilk and keep mixing on low while you add the remaining dry ingredients. Add the chocolate chips and stir until mixed.

Divide the batter among the paper liners and bake for 20 -25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely before frosting.

Make the Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Gradually add the icing sugar. Add the vanilla and enough condensed milk to make a spreadable consistency. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is whipped and fluffy.

Spoon the frosting into a disposable piping bad and snip a 1 cm hole in the tip. Pipe dollops of frosting on top of each cooled cupcake and sprinkle with crumbled cookies.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Cornetti (Italian Croissants)




I love making laminated dough. Most people run a mile when they see the work that goes into it, but I love it. May be I'm a glutton for punishment... or may be it's just that I'm a glutton.
Cornetti (Italian Croissants)
slightly adapted from here
Makes 16
For the Dough:
1/2 cup lukewarm water (plus extra if needed)
1 1/2 tablespoons dried yeast
500g baker's flour
60g caster sugar
30g unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For Laminating:
200g unsalted butter, left out of the fridge 20 minutes before using
For the Glaze:
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoon of milk to make an egg wash
Golden caster sugar for sprinkling
Make the Dough:
Put the 1/2 cup lukewarm water, yeast and 20g of the caster sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer and stir with a fork. Set aside for 5 minutes until it becomes foamy. Attach the dough hook and beat the yeast mixture with about 3/4 of the flour. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Add the rest of the sugar, salt and enough flour to make a soft, elastic dough. Add the butter, orange zest and vanilla and mix on low speed for 5 minutes. The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl. If it's too sticky add a little more flour, if it's too dry add a little more water.
Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Give the dough a brief knead (I do this in the bowl), cover again and set aside for another 30 minutes.
Knead the dough briefly as before, cover and leave at room temperature for 3 hours to double in size.
Laminate the Dough:
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured bench and shape into a square about 1 cm thick. Put the block of butter into the centre of the dough and bring the corners up into the centre, pinching the edges together to completely seal in the butter. Roll the dough into a rectangle, fold into three by bringing the bottom third up toward the centre, then folding the top third over the bottom third, as if you were folding a business letter. Cover with plastic wrap and rest it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
After its had its time in the fridge, take the dough out and put it, folded edge to your left on a lightly floured bench. Roll the pastry out to a rectangle and fold it into thirds as before. Wrap again and chill for a further 30 minutes.
Keep turning, rolling and folding and chilling the dough until it has had four "turns" in total. All this turning, rolling and folding creates the flaky layers we all love so much in our croissants.
Line two large baking trays with baking paper. Set aside.
After it has rested for the fourth time, roll the dough out into a rectangle. Using a pastry cutter in a zig-zag pattern to cut the dough into 16 isosceles triangles.
Starting with the base of the triangle, stretch the dough as you roll it up tightly. The more rolls you get, the prettier the end product. Tuck the tips under the rolls to stop them from unravelling when baking, and lay them on the prepared trays, giving them enough room to spread a little.
At this point, you have two options: bake now or bake later. To bake now, you can leave them to rise at room temperature for an hour and bake them. To bake later: you can cover them with plastic wrap, pop them into the fridge overnight to have a slow rise and bake them off in the morning. If you choose the latter option, just bring them to room temperature before baking.
Glaze and bake the Cornetti:
Preheat your oven to 200C. Brush the cornetti with egg wash, sprinkle with golden caster sugar and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until golden and gorgeous. Serve with coffee... Italian, or course.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Savoiardi Cake with Almond Frosting


I had half a packet of savoiardi haunting me from my pantry and I knew if I didn't get rid of them I'd wind up dunking one after the other of these crumbly Italian sponge fingers into my hot coffee. So I decided to make a cake with them and eat them that way instead.

Savoiardi Cake with Almond Frosting

For the Cake:
About 12 - 16 (depending on size) savoiardi (Italian sponge fingers) blitzed in a food processor to give you 2 cups of crumbs
About 1 cup toasted raw almonds blitzed in a food processor to give you 3/4 cup of finely ground meal
1/2 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
225g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 eggs separated, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup caster sugar

For the Filling:
Freshly whipped cream

For the Frosting:
120g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of salt
1 - 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 175C and grease and line two 23 cm round cake pans with baking paper. Set aside.

Put the crumbed sponge fingers, toasted almond meal, flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl and stir to combine.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat again. Reduce the speed to low and had a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. Once just combined, add another third of the flour mixture followed by the remaining buttermilk. Gently add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Stop the mixer.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until frothy. Gradually add the caster sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. Fold the whisked egg whites into the crumb batter and divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Leave the cakes to cool in the pans for 5 minutes before turning them out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Make the Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the icing sugar, vanilla and almond extracts and salt and beat to incorporate. Add enough buttermilk to give you a spreading consistency.

Put one cake onto a cake plate. Spoon the freshly whipped cream into the centre and spread to the edges. Top with the other cake.

Spoon the frosting on to the top of the cake. Use an offset spatula to spread the frosting evenly over the cake and down and around the sides. Scrape the sides of the cake with the edge of the spatula to just smear the sides and give it an even look. Use the tip of the spatula to "draw" a spiral into the frosting on top of the cake. Now, put the kettle on.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Chocolate, Almond, Coconut Granola

Heaven to me is eating breakfast food all day... in my yoga pants... watching HBO. I'm a party animal.

Chocolate, Almond, Coconut Granola
slightly adapted from here

2 1/2 cups traditional rolled oats
1 cup dried coconut flakes
1 cup raw almonds
3 tablespoons light muscovado sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup almond butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
60g dark chocolate chopped (I brought out the big guns and used 85% cacao)

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line two large baking trays with baking paper. Set aside.

Put the oats, coconut flakes, almonds, sugar and salt into a large bowl and stir to mix.

In a small saucepan, heat the coconut oil almond butter and maple syrup over medium-low heat and stir until it becomes smooth. Pour over the oat mixture and mix until everything is evenly coated in the oil-butter mixture.

Spread the mixture evenly out over the two prepared baking trays and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Keep your eye on it, as it can burn easily. The granola will get crispier as it cools.

Let it cool completely on the trays. Add the chopped chocolate and mix. Store in an airtight container.


Sunday, 19 April 2015

Orange Scented Olive Oil Sticky Buns with Buttermilk Glaze

My weekend was pretty much all about football... and sticky buns.

Orange Scented Olive Oil Sticky Buns with Buttermilk Glaze
adapted from here
Makes 16

For the Dough:
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon dry yeast
2 tablespoons caster sugar
4 1/2 cups "00" flour
3 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

For the Filling:
1 cup white granulated sugar
Zest of 2 oranges
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed fresh orange juice

For the Glaze:
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 - 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Make the Dough:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water, yeast and sugar. Mix with a fork and set aside for 10 minutes until it becomes foamy.

Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour and then the salt. Mix on low speed, gradually adding the rest of the flour. The dough should be just starting to come together. Trickle in the olive oil and keep mixing on low. Mix for a further 5 minutes until it is a smooth, soft ball of dough.

Scrape it into a deep, lightly oiled bowl and set aside in a warm spot to double in size, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

Make the Filling:
Put all the filling ingredients into a bowl and mix together. It should have the consistency of wet sand. Set aside.

Make the Buns:
Butter and line a 30 cm round pan with baking paper.

Punch the risen dough down and cut off 1/4 of the dough. Lightly flour a work surface and roll the 1/4 portion into a 30 cm circle. Line the base of the prepared pan with it. This will prevent the orange filling from leaking out of the buns.

Roll the remaining dough out into a rectangle about 1 cm thick. Spread the filling over the dough and roll it up from on of the long edges. Cut into 16 even portions and lay them on top of the dough in the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and leave in a warm spot until puffy and the spaces between them have pretty much closed up, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Bake the rolls for 35 - 40 minutes, until golden brown.

Make the Glaze:
Mix the icing sugar and buttermilk together, using as much buttermilk as is needed to achieve a pouring consistency.

Pour the glaze over the hot buns. Serve warm.