Tag Archives: Baking

Tomato Tart

17 Sep

Today I bring a delicious end of summer beginning of autumn dish. A tomato tart. Note, I use the term tart rather loosely.  In this case it’s pastry with a topping, some might call that a tart like myself, others may call it a pie, crustini, pizza (without sauce), foccacia and more. Regardless, it’s a delicious dish combining naughty flour-ey goodness with clean fresh produce.

For this tart I used a mix of tomatoes which not only lent to the taste but made it look that much more “instagrammable”, yes that IS a word. I used small red tomatoes on the vine, yellow mini plum tomatoes and the beautiful kamato tomatoes(thde brown-green ones).

I cheated a bit by using ready made frozen pastry. This took some effort out of the process for sure.

WHAT YOU NEED 

1) Tomatoes of your choosing 

2) Pastry– I used Pilsbury croissant pastry which came as a square sheet of dough.

3) Assorted herbs– This is to add to the dough to give a bit of extra flavour.

WHAT TO DO 

1) Add seasonings to the dough and knead it in. You NEED to KNEAD!

2) Roll out the dough 

3) Add cut/sliced/diced/smashed/whole tomatoes onto pastry

4) Pinch edges to create a bit of a pastry pouch and sprinkle with seasonings and add a bit of olive oil.

5) Bake until dough is golden brown. 

6) Slice and it’s ready to be served!

This tart is delicious! The tomatoes become soft and the juciness intensifies once baked. The crust is crispy on the edge and softer in the second centre with the great taste of pastry and herbs.

This is a great appetizer for a dinner party or a more bougie (that’s a buzz word now right?) Alternative to pizza for a night of Netflix. Be sure to try it and be sure to have am awesome day!

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Chocolate Zucchini Loaf (Vegan)

24 May

Hello, today I bring a twist on one of my favourite things to bake: a chocolate zucchini loaf.

Chocolate zucchini loaf

This recipe I decided to swap out the oil and replace it with avocado and of exchange the eggs for Chia seeds. This way I made a new recipe which also happens to be vegan for anyone interested in that.

WHAT YOU NEED 

1) 1 1/2 cups (225g) of shredded or grated raw zucchini  (courgette)-I used my veggie spiralizer and it literally took me 5 minutes.

2) 1 cup (130g) flour.

3)1/2 cup (45g) unsweetened cocoa powder .

4) 3/4 tsp baking soda .

5) 1/4 tsp baking powder .

6) 2 Chia eggs– To replace one egg add 1 tbsp of ground Chia seeds (I blitzed mine in the Nutribullet) with 3 tbsp of water and let sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to allow it to form a gelatinous consistency. 

7) 1/2 cup of mashed avocado-To replace oil or butter with avocado,  for every 1 cup of oil needed, use 1 cup of avocado. 

8) 1/2 cup of white granulated sugar. 

9) 1/2 cup of brown sugar. 

10) 1 tsp of vanilla extract. 

The ingredients 

WHAT TO DO 

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a loaf pan

1) Sift the flour, Cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda together.

Sifted dry ingredients 


2) Mix the Chia and avocado well (using hand or stand mixer) adding in the sugars.

3) Add the dry ingredients and mix well.

4) Fold in the zucchini into mixture until it forms a moist homogeneous mixture.

You can amp up the chocolate value at this point by adding vegan chocolate chips (yes they exist). OR if you aren’t vegan just add regular chocolate chips

Mixture 
5) Pour into loaf pan and bake at 350 F for 55 minutes or until the Centre is done.

I had to take it out and check a few times because it kept smelling done when it really wasn’t. 

Once it’s done let it cool, Slice and eat!

So swapping out two ingredients definitely changed this recipe. What was before a more firm loaf became a softer one with more of a chewy brownie texture (I’m NOT complaining). I presume using the Chia instead of egg made it less cohesive while the avocado added smoothness that only avocado can. You don’t taste the avocado, only appreciate the creaminess. The addition of vegan (or non-vegan) chocolate chips makes it more chocolate you and a bit gooey.

This is a great loaf especially for a chocolate lover. There is some actual nutrition by way of the zucchini and avocado and Chia seeds but you more than get your chocolate fix. This is a great dessert to keep around and offer unexpected guests or take to a potluck tea party.

Would you try chocolate zucchini loaf or do you prefer regular zucchini loaf? Whatever your answer,  have an awesome day!

Beginners Baking Kit 

30 Apr

For all you new bakers out there who aren’t sure where to begin, this is a guide to get you going. This “kit” is geared towards someone who doesn’t bake regularly or who is just getting into baking.

Bowls

You will of course need bowls. Multiple ones of varying sizes. You will need at least one large bowl to hold your batter, a couple of small ones to hold small portions of ingredients and a couple medium sized ones.

Measuring spoons and cups

These are a must. They are useful for measuring liquids and powders and fortunately are very easy to come by. Most supermarkets, hardware stores even craft stores sell them and they can be extremely affordable.

Scale

A digital scale is a personal must have recommendation. I did not own one of these when I first got into baking, I actually ended up buying it at the suggestion of my nutritionist but it came in handy for so much more than measuring servings of almonds. Scales can give exact weights which is necessary for successful baking. Make sure your scale can convert between units (oz/kg).

Mixers

Hand Mixer

This is where you can end up spending some big bucks, but you don’t have to. For someone who is now beginning or maybe doesn’t plan to do a lot of Baking I recommend a hand mixer over a stand mixer.  Stand mixers are fabulous but they are a big commitment. They typically cost at least a couple hundred dollars, they require care and maintenance and they take up lots of space. So start small. Hand mixers are typically affordable,  portable and easy to store and they get most baking projects done with ease.

Whisk

A whisk is a must and you probably already own one. If you can’t afford a hand mixer a whisk will work nut obviously requires more effort. Moreover, whisks are useful for more specific techniques where you may not need ingredients beat together. Whisks are affordable and easily found in supermarkets and hardware stores.

Utensils

There are numerous baking utensils you can find yourself buying. But for the basics you really only need three things. A spatula, a spoon and a palette knife or offset spatula.
Spatula

A spatula is useful for scraping down batter, getting batter out of bowls and for folding ingredients.

Spoon

The need for a spoon is self-explanatory and most people have spoons laying around.

Off set spatula 

This nifty little tool comes in handy for decorating. If you are Icing a cake it helps to smooth the icing over the top and around the sides.

Baking ware

One cannot bake without baking ware. Lol. The type of Bakeware you chose to buy depends on what you plan to bake. For example,  if you plan to make bread and loaves you need a loaf pan and if you are a muffin lover you’ll need a pan for that too. I have a few basic suggestions.

Circular tin

For your basic cake making you cannot go wrong with a circular tin. My one pro tip is get a spring form tin, one you can release and remove the bottom out of for easier removal.

Square pan

This is useful for baking brownies, blondies and other bar type baked goods.

Cupcake tin 

Cupcakes and muffins are also pretty basic baking territory and for that,  you’ll need a cupcake tin.

Baking sheet

This is great for baking cookies and other flat baked goods.

These are the basics for getting started in baking. Let me know if you have any other basic baking essentials that I left off and have an awesome day.

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Giant Cookie

5 Apr

Giant cookie




When I was a child  (maybe 5 or so) I had a conversation with my mother one evening after school. I told her “I want a giant cookie.” I remember this conversation distinctly. For some reason, I thought this cookie would be made in a frying pan, not baked, and I could envision it being fried as I spoke to her. She told me “Okay.”

 My unsuspecting self didn’t realize at the time she said okay more to get me to stop nagging her than anything else and not because she planned to make this cookie. By the time I was about 11 I had figured out the truth. Many years into my adulthood and still, no giant cookie. There was an attempt circa 2011 by my sister, a valiant effort I must admit. However, the giant cookie of my dreams contains chocolate. So here is my attempt to finally satisfy that long burning desire for a giant cookie.

To make this cookie you need a good recipe. My recipe is adapted from one on Joy of Baking (my baking queen) and it makes a soft cookie. I figured this would be easier for slicing as giant cookies are meant to be shared.


WHAT YOU NEED 

Cookie

1) 1/2 cup (113g) butter at room temperature 

2) 1/3 cup (75g) of granulated sugar

3) 1/3 cup (75g)  brown sugar– I used coconut sugar

4) 1 egg

5) 1 tsp vanilla extract 

6) 1 1/4 cup (150g) of flour 

7) 1/2 tbsp baking soda

8) Chocolate morsels -use as much or as little as you want

9) Nuts – use as much or little as you want

10) Baking dish -I used a shallow 9” glass dish

11) Cocoa powder – I used 1 heaping tbsp

Cookie ingredients 


Chocolate wafers and nuts

Icing

1) Cream cheese

2) Icing sugar

3) Chocolate sprinkles


Cream cheese and Icing sugar


Cocoa and sprinkles


Baking dish




WHAT TO DO 

Cookies

1) Heat oven to 375 F (190 C)

2) Grease or line dish – To allow for easy removal

3) Beat butter until creamy then add both white and brown sugar and beat until fluffy.

Creamed butter and sugars 

Butter and sugar mixture


4) Add egg and vanilla extract and mix

5) Separately,  mix flour and baking soda and add to mixture and mix well.

6) Separate the mixtures into two equal parts.

Separated cookie mixture 

7) Add cocoa powder and chocolate morsels to one half mixing well.

Mixed in Cocoa


Added chocolate 

8) To the other half of mixture,  add crushed nuts

Added nuts




9) Place mixture in refrigerator for about 30 minutes just to firm up slightly

10) Add mixture in alternating dollops into baking dish.

Mixture placed in dish




11) Bake for 15 minutes or until baked through 

Baked cookie




Icing

Mix some softened cream cheese with Icing sugar until desired texture and sweetness. I started with approximately 2 tbsp of cream cheese and 1/2 cup of Icing sugar.

Icing




Top cooled cookie with icing and add sprinkles

Cookie with icing




Slice and serve

Sliced cookie




Finally,  a chocolate giant cookie. Lol. This was awesome. I think this is a great alternative for a birthday cake (for that weird friend who doesn’t like cake) or a dessert with a difference if you’re entertaining.

The chocolate and nuts expectedly go beautifully together. The cookie is soft so it’s easy to slice and eat but not as fluffy as a cake. The cream cheese Icing gave a nice contrast to the decedent almost bitter dark chocolate and the saltiness of the nuts.

(Mummy, I’m still waiting…)

Give this one a try and have an awesome day.

Ten Baking Hacks

20 Nov

Household baking items




Hello

I love a #lifehack. There are hundreds of YouTube videos and websites dedicated to “hacks” but the truth is that many of them are totally pointless and useless . Some times they involve one hundred steps and cost loads of money and generally make your life harder. That being said ,  when you find real hacks, the ones that save you money or calories or make life easier, it makes it all worthwhile . 

I have curated 10 hacks that pertain to baking . Some of them may be obvious ,  some you may have heard before and some may blow your mind but ALL have been tested by me at one point or another and they all add some benefit to your life and use items that most of us have in our homes most of the time. So enjoy…


1) Cake Flour

You may see quite a few recipes calling for this and if you’re anything like me, had no idea there was a difference between cake flour and regular flour. Until now.

Use: Regular baking flour + cornstarch .  For every 3/4 cup of flour add 2 tbsp of cornstarch . 

Cake flour

2) Buttermilk

I remember feeling really pleased with myself when I first learnt this hack. Now it’s practically common knowledge . Still, it’s worth mentioning for anyone who may not already know. Lots of baking recipes call for buttermilk and it is expensive ! 

Use: Milk + vinegar/lemon/lime juice. For each 1 cup of milk add 1 tbsp of vinegar and let sit for at least 10  minutes.

This creates a clotted or soured milk not unlike buttermilk.

Milk and white vinegar 


3) Substitute milk with buttermilk
.

For all your recipes that DON’T require buttermilk but just regular milk, swap it out for buttermilk . It makes the cake smoother and moist.


4) Piping Bag
 

This hack will cost you less than purchasing disposable piping bags. You can also push the tip into the bag and use that way.

Use: A ziplock bag + scissors/tip

DIY piping bag


5) Weigh and measure using metric units

I’m aware this is a point of controversy for many and I don’t even take my own advice half the time but the truth is the truth, metric measurements are more accurate and baking is all about accuracy . 

6) Egg Substitute 

There are actually a number of egg substitutes including bananas,  oil and yogurt but my preference is apple sauce.

For every 1 egg use approximately 1/4 cup of apple sauce.

Eggs and applesauce


7) Wax/Parchment paper cupcake cases
.

This is something I didn’t know was a “thing” for quite a while. My sister did this once as a money saving idea and I loved it.

8) DIY Coloured Sugar

Coloured sugar can be a bit pricey considering what it is: coloured…sugar. Fortunately it’s easy to do.

Use : Granulated sugar + food dye. Mix until dye is fully incorporated . 

White granulated sugar 


Add a drop of food colouring

Mix

Continue mixing 

Coloured sugar 




9) Swap out butter with oil

This makes the cake softer and fluffier, more like a chiffon cake. I find it useful for chocolate cakes which can always tend to be on the drier side.

Swap an even amount of butter for oil in your recipe . 

10) Confectioners/Icing Sugar

Out of necessity comes brilliance . One evening I was baking and realised I had no confectioners sugar but I had granulated sugar. I knew they had to be related somehow so I googled. It was so easy! I feel as if I would never purchase confectioners sugar again because it can tend to be a bit pricey compared to granulated sugar.

Use: Granulated sugar + Food Processor /Blender /Nutribullet .  Blend for a few seconds (literally ) and you have your confectioners sugar . 

 Granulated sugar(left) and confectioners sugar (right)
Thanks for reading. Maybe some of these hacks will help you on your next baking adventure .  Have an awesome day ! 

Checkered Celebration Cake

15 Aug

Hello all! I attempted one of my most daring baking feats this past week….and it worked! Sort of.

My beautiful friend is leaving our squad for greener pastures, furthering her career and reuniting with loved ones and all good things. Therefore as sad as I am for her to leave, it is a cause for celebration. 

A group of us decided to host a chill, surprise goodbye celebration with casual no fuss eats like burgers, hot dogs and tortilla chips with salsa. Our resident vegan came through with a spicy tofu dish and we had mini cinnamon rolls as a sweet snack. 

Like I said it was chill and relaxed just like our friend. That however wasn’t enough for me apparently. I decided I wanted to make her a cake. A celebration cake! A checkered celebration  cake. A checkered celebration cake topped with cookies and chocolate. What a decision this was.

I have been seeing and admiring checkered cakes for well over a year now, dissecting the technique, pumping myself up to finally tackle it .This was the time. A word of advice is NEVER try out a new recipe just before you have an event or guests over. Did I listen to that advice? No.

So I undertook this task and I will now document it inclusive of my horrible errors so that we can all learn from my mistakes together.

Let us begin…

The cake was tri-colour checkerboard and I topped it with meringue cookies and shards of candy melt bark. I will begin with the toppings as I made them first.

(Rainbow) Meringue Cookies

WHAT YOU NEED

1) 3 med- large egg whites 

2) 3/4 cup(150g) castor sugar

Tip (castor sugar and icing sugar are the same thing and it can be made by running granulated sugar in a food processor / blender/nutribullet etc for a few seconds. 

3) Cream of tartar  (to stabilize the egg whites)- you’ll just need a pinch of this.

4) 1/4 teaspoon rose water (the original recipe called for vanilla extract, you can substitute that for whatever flavour you prefer)

5) Multiple food colours – I used teal and purple (my attempt at orange didn’t make the cut.

6) Piping bag (or a zip lock bag )

Meringue ingredients


WHAT TO DO

1) Preheat oven to 95°C (200°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

2) Beat egg whites until foamy, add cream of tartar and beat until soft peak stage.  (Soft peaks gently and slowly fold over )

3) Slowly add sugar beating at medium to high speed until stiff peak stage. ( Stiff peaks hold their form) then add in the rose water.

Tip : Do NOT over beat the egg. It’s better to beat,stop and check then keep beating than to overbeat the egg.

4)Using a toothpick or a knife, streak your food colouring along the length of the piping (ziplock) bag then add the meringue mixture.

5) Pipe the meringue mixture out in little dollops, according to the size you wish. The food colour should form a swirled effect.

Whipping up meringue mixture


6) Bake in oven for 1 1/2 hours (90 minutes) or until cookies are dry and crispy.

After this I stored my meringue cookies in a sealed airtight container and placed it in the cupboard for later use. I didn’t want to keep it in the fridge for fear of some moisture affecting the cookies.

The next thing I made was the chocolate/candy melt bark.

Rainbow Bark

WHAT YOU NEED

1) Candy melts in assorted colours. If you are more savvy ,you can use white chocolate and colour it using non-waterbased food dye. The colours I used were really just what I had knocking around; lime green, bright yellow, red and dark blue as well as white (this poor party girl wastes nothing!)

Candy melts in white and cheesecake (off white)



2) Sprinkles – to add over the top of the bark.

3) Containers to place the candy melts in.

4) Silicone mat or other flat, smooth heat resistant sheer to form bark on.

Silicone mat 



WHAT TO DO

1) Melt candy melts. 

2) Pour the melted chocolate onto mat or sheet and spread it out. I started with the white ones.

3) Add each colour and swirl it in. Add sprinkles on top.

White candy melts with red swirled in

4) Set the swirled bark in the fridge for a couple hours so it hardens completely. 

5) Remove hardened bark and crack it into shards using knife or mallet 

Multicolored candy melt bark 

I stored the candy melt bark in an airtight container in the fridge.

Candy melt shards

So those are the toppings for this overly ambitious cake completed. This took me an ENTIRE night,  good thing I started 2 days in advance. I recommend this for anyone trying this out.
DECOR

Before we move on to the  mess   I mean piece-de-resistance i.e the cake let me take a moment to show off my decor. It was really simple as I didn’t have a lot of time or money to get prepared.

I made the ever popular tassle/pom poms strung up and layered. I used brightly coloured tissue paper as it went along with the cake and my friend’s personality. 

Pom pom tassle decor 


I also hung up two balloons with multicolored marble design and lit some candles for a little ambience. 

Okay back to baking. The cake! This cake takes some work and some foresight but it isnt hard. The concept behind the checkered pattern is that by creating circles of differing colours in the horizontal plane, each one becomes a square when cut in a vertical plane. Sounds a smidgen confusing but I promise it isnt.

Tri-coloured Checkered Cake

WHAT YOU NEED

1) White cake batter- This makes it easier to colour. I used a recipe from www.joyofbaking.com because any recipe that lady (Stephanie) creates is actual gold-I’m talking 24 carat here!

2) 6″ round cake tin – this is what I used. You make the amount of cake batter in accordance with the size of your cake tins and the number of layers you ultimately make.

3) Food colours -I used red,yellow, blue and green to create bright pink, bright yellow and teal.

4) Circle Cookie cutters- this is to create the circles from the cake but you can freehand it with a knife …..if you dare.

 Some stuff you need for the cake

5)Icing- I’m not going to put an icing recipe here because quite frankly I have none. I attempted Italian meringue buttercream TWICE using 2 separate recipes from what I consider to be very legitimate websites but each one failed. In my online scouring I found that a lot of people attempting these recipes had similar problematic outcomes where the egg white seemed to deflate on addition of the butter. My advice from the beginning of this post remains, don’t attempt this for the first time on the day of the party/event. 

In the end I had to add a crap ton of icing sugar to make my second attempt salvageable. So……find an acceptable icing recipe and make it. And if it works, leave me a link cause girl needs help!

6) Cookie butter- The idea to add cookie butter to my icing came from a video by Yolanda Gamp of HowtoCakeit on YouTube. This. Is. An. EXCELLENT. Idea. The cookie butter also helped to thicken the icing .

WHAT TO DO

1) Preheat your oven as directed by the recipe you chose.

2) Mix your white cake batter

3) Separate batter into 3 bowls or whatever number of colours you plan to make. 

4) Add food colours to get desired colour-I used water based food colours because that’s what I had (they also tend to be cheaper) but gel colours definitely give me vibrant colours.

White cake batter

5) Bake cakes according to recipe, let cool and remove from tin.

Edit

Multi coloured cakes

To be honest I was initially disappointed that my cakes were so thin ( I think I made the batter stretch too far) but it turned out this was an okay height  (approximately 1 1/2 inches). I think it would be best if each layer is about 2 inches tall.

6) Trim the tops of your cakes to create a flat surface for stacking-I couldn’t do this because my layers were so skinny. 

7)Using your cookie cutters create 3 circles in each cake.

Cookie cutter used to make circle

Two different sized cutters used

Cake circles

8) Arrange the cake circles so that each cake layer has each colour in it.

Cake colours intermixed

9) Place 1st layer of cake on a level surface (if you own a lazy Susan this is the time to whip her out, if not creat your own with a bowl and a large plate.

10) Stack your layers, icing in between with the cookie butter infused frosting,  then crumb coat and place in refrigerator to harden up.

Layers of cake with frosting

11) Make more icing- the cookie butter turned the icing brown and I wanted the outside of the cake to be white. Also the icing just wouldn’t harden up as much as I wanted, so I decided to make royal icing to cover it over with. Unfortunately even my royal icing recipe was not on my side and that too ended up being a bit runny. Once you have successfully made white icing, cover the cake and place it in the fridge to begin to stiffen..

10) Add the toppings. I stuck the candy melt shards into the actual cake as you would a candle. I then placed the meringue cookies on top (my placement was haphazard and by the time I decided to relocate then they had set up in the icing )


The cake

Inside of checkered cake

When it’s time to serve the cake you will see the beautiful checkered design. Eat and enjoy! 

We had a great evening, it was stress free and ended on a sweet note (ba dum ching!) Thank you for reading and have an awesome day!

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