Tag Archives: baking

Making Madeleines

Making Madeleines

When I hear ‘Madeleine’, my first thought is always Marcel Proust.
But my second, is always butter.

I originally expected that unsalted would be the name of the game here, having spied ‘unsalted’ mentioned in the majority of recipes I’d looked at over the years.

Making Madeleines

I’ve been experimenting with Madeleines for the last month or so, after receiving a Bakers Secret non-stick Madeleine pan from Kitchenware Superstore, and I’ve found I much prefer my Madeleines ‘seasoned’, somewhat, by using melted salted butter over unsalted.

My favourite recipe so far has been Dorie Greenspan’s Madeleine Recipe. I found it super helpful, especially with Dorie’s additional notes on refrigeration (overnight AND in the tray for at least an hour before baking), plus tips on achieving the tell-tale Madeleine ‘hump’ through the use of a pre-heated searing hot baking tray (or baking stone).

Take note and cool your melted butter before you incorporate it. And while you’re at it, spring for the salted like I did.

I used plain (all purpose) cake flour, which has low gluten to keep cakes nice and soft.

Making Madeleines

Suffice it to say I’ve been pretty pleased with my own Madeleine experiments (and J’s definitely enjoyed eating them)!

I’d always assumed Madeleines would be difficult to make and/or destined to fail, but I’ve found that provided you follow the recipe you’re using carefully, you’ll end up with delicious results.

My latest batch (flavoured with vanilla bean and orange zest) was a hit, resulting in 24 Madeleines that were light, sweet and soft, yet sturdily textured bites of golden buttery goodness.

Madeleines are best enjoyed straight out of the oven. Dunking in tea optional, though you may disagree with that if you’re a fan of Swann’s Way.

Making Madeleines

Disclosure: Product provided by PR for review purposes. All opinions provided are my own, and I have received no other compensation for this post.

Black and white whoopie pies

Whoopie pies

One of the recipes I’ve been meaning to try for the longest time, is for classic Black and white whoopie pies – chocolate and vanilla cake meets biscuit. They’re sized for one, cute to look at, and delicious to eat.

I’d been putting off making them, until I saw the Baker’s Secret whoopie pie tray ($16.95). It’s a non-stick tray with twelve individual wells for whoopie pies. The tray is also promoted as a macaron tray, but honestly, they’d be massive, so I’d steer clear from using it for that purpose!

I don’t know why I put off this recipe for so long, as it was surprisingly easy. I’m now thinking this tray would also be ideal for making Powder Puffs (the super-light sponge cakes sandwiched with cream), or even mini breakfast quiches.

Whoopie pies

Black and white whoopie pies

Cakes

Ingredients

115g butter, softened
200g dark brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
280g plain flour (I used plain cake flour, which is low protein flour)
50g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
225ml buttermilk (or same quantity regular milk, with 1tsp white vingegar or lemon juice added)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius (fan forced), or 190 degrees celsius (standard, no fan assist). Grease the wells of whoopie pie tray with baking spray.
  2. Sift flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electic mixer until pale, light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg, and beat thoroughly.
  5. Add half of the sifted ingredients to the bowl of the mixer, and half of the milk. Beat on lowest speed until combined. Follow with remaining sifted ingredients and remaining milk. Mix on low until all ingredients come together (don’t overmix).
  6. Fill wells of greased whoopie pie tray with heaped tablespoons of mixture.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until risen and firm. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Whoopie pies

Buttercream filling

Ingredients

113g butter, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 – 3 tbs milk

Method

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy.
  2. Add vanilla extract, continue beating and enough little milk to loosen mixture. Filling should be thick, but easily spreadable.
  3. Keep cool until ready to use (but not in fridge).

Assembling the whoopie pies

  1. Match similar sized cakes in pairs.
  2. Sandwich together using a generous amount of buttercream.
  3. Eat immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container if not eating immediately. Keeps not long (as I’m assuming you’ll scoff the lot in no time).

Whoopie pies

Thanks to Kitchenware Superstore for providing me with the Baker’s Secret whoopie pie tray to test! I’d say it was a success :)

Disclosure: Product provided by PR for review purposes. All opinions provided are my own, and I have received no other compensation for this post.

Homemade potato rolls (also known as the best rolls ever.)

Mini beef bacon and mushroom burgers made with potato rolls

Meet my obsession of the weekend.

Dubbed the ‘best rolls ever’ by their original maker, The Boastful Baker, these pillowy, golden and utterly delicious potato rolls were freshly baked and ready to devour in just over two hours.

Mini beef bacon and mushroom burgers made with potato rolls

First, we turned them into mini beef, bacon and mushroom burgers. Served with skin-on homemade over fries, and spinach and tomatoes on the side, with a dash of garlic balsamic dressing.

Homemade potato rolls

They’re fantastic with homemade corned beef, turned into ritzy Reubens, with sauerkraut, russian dressing and a slice of Jarlsberg cheese.

Homemade potato rolls

But frankly, they’re so good you can eat them on their own, with or without a generous slathering of butter.

Potato rolls

Recipe from The Boastful Baker, with Juji’s notes throughout!

Yields approximately 30-36 dinner rolls.
Juji’s note: I made about 25 rolls that were somewhere between a lunch roll and dinner roll.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mashed potatoes (You’ll need enough potatoes to make 1 cup of mashed potatoes – I used three small royal blue potatoes)
  • 114g unsalted butter, softened (I actually used salted)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey (I used Elixir raw honey, but any honey will do)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup scalded milk (I used lactose free, because my gastrointestinal system considers milk to be a joke)
  • 5 to 6 cups flour (original recipe used bread flour and wholemeal – I just used plain white flour)
  • 1 packet dry active yeast (7g)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm reserved potato water with 1 teaspoon sugar added to it.

Directions

  1. Boil potatoes until tender. Drain water, reserving 1/2 cup for use in rolls. Finely mash potatoes and measure 1 cup for rolls. Cool mashed potatoes to nearly room temperature.
  2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to the reserved potato water. Dissolve yeast in the lukewarm potato water. Set aside in a warm place for 5 minutes.

    Juji’s note: It should be foamy after 5 minutes. If not, check your yeast’s expiry date. You’ll have to start a new batch with fresh yeast if it doesn’t bubble after 10 minutes or so.

  3. In bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix together mashed potatoes, butter, eggs, sugar, honey and salt. Mix together on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add yeast mixture to lukewarm milk. Stir.
  5. Add the yeast and milk mixture to the potato mixture. Mix on low speed until blended.
  6. Gradually add flour (one cup at a time) until a soft dough forms.
  7. Switch to the dough hook attachment on the stand mixer and knead for about 5 minutes at low speed.
  8. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl. Put dough in a warm place, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough double – this should take approximately an hour to two hours, depending on your room temperature.

    Juji’s note: As I live in the house of drafts, I placed my gladwrapped bowl on a bookshelf next to a switched on reverse cycle heating unit. Works like a charm, especially on a cold day!

  9. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  10. Punch down dough and shape into rolls. Place rolls about 3-4 centimetres apart on parchment paper lined baking sheets.
  11. Sprinkle rolls with a touch of flour if desired. Let dough rise again, for about 30 minutes.
  12. Bake in a preheated oven set at 200 degrees celsius for approximately 12 minutes.
  13. Allow to cool for a few minutes and devour!

Pumpkin bread

Pumpkin Bread with cream cheese frostingThis morning, a lonely butternut pumpkin half was staring back at me from the fruit and veggie crisper. It had been long abandoned, purchased last weekend during our usual fruit and vegetable shop, probably picked up with some mysterious culinary challenge in mind. It had seen better days.

‘What to do?’, I wondered…

After roasting the pumpkin (wrapped in foil for 35 minutes at 175 C) and scooping it out, I decided to try my hand at Simply Recipes pumpkin bread.

It was a delicious success. Especially when topped with lemony cream cheese frosting. Because you don’t really need an excuse for cream cheese frosting, ever.

 

Peanut biscuits for Chinese New Year

Peanuts!

Gong hei fat choy!

As a kid, the wafting smell of roasted peanuts and the whirring of the food processor meant one thing. Peanut biscuits. 

My grandma would pull up a chair, hand me a chopstick, and I’d watch with awe as she mixed together sandy-looking ground peanuts, plain flour, sugar, oil and salt into a pliable dough. It was always even better than play dough.

Together, we’d roll small balls of the soft dough between our palms, placing them on baking trays lined with greasproof paper.

Then, wielding my chopstick, I would gleefully prod belly buttons into each plump biscuit, leaving a perfect circle in the centre of each sweet morsel.

Peanut biscuits for Chinese New YearMost families get together for a ‘reunion dinner’ on the eve of the lunar new year. 

Being big fans of homophones, many of the foods eaten and shared friends and family are symbolic – presented and eaten to ensure prosperity and good fortune in the year ahead.

Making peanut biscuits for Chinese New Year

From left: The perfect sandy texture.
You’ll know the mix is perfect when it looks like this.

Peanut biscuits
Recipe via Billy, A Table For Two!

Makes about 30 – 40 biscuits

Ingredients

  • 300g peanuts, fried/roasted and ground until fine
  • 200g castor sugar
  • 250g plain flour
  • about 200ml of canola oil (or other neutral flavoured oil) 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg beaten, for glazing

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and lay out 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Roast the peanuts by frying them in a frying pan (dry, no oil). Grind the roasted peanuts till fine in a food processor. They’ll need to be quite sandy in texture – it’ll look  clumpy in the bowl of the mixer, but don’t worry. 
  3. Place ground peanuts in a large mixing bowl with the flour, salt and sugar. Mix together until well combined and lump free.
  4. Drizzle half of the oil into the bowl and combine the mixture with a clean hand, kneading gently.
  5. Keep adding a little more oil at a time. You’ll need to keep kneading to ensure the sugar melts and that the mix is soft and pliable, but firm enough that it doesn’t stick to your hands. 
  6. The mix is ready when you can roll the dough into smooth balls that don’t crack. If your mix is still too dry, add a little more oil and mix again.
  7. Take a heaped teaspoonfuls of the mix and roll into small balls. Place on baking sheets. of the mixture into your palm, and roll them into small balls. Place them on the baking sheets.
  8. Take a chopstick, poke a ‘belly button’ into each biscuit, and glaze with beaten egg.
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Making peanut biscuits for Chinese New Year

Use a chopstick to create a ‘belly button’ indent in each biscuit.

These golden biscuits are probably supposed to resemble gold ingots, or oranges. Or so I assume, as I’ve read that the word for oranges also sounds like the word fortune in Chinese. And I think adding the chopstick action kind of makes these look like mini-navel oranges…sort of.

My grandma always used to make dozens and dozens of these every year for Chinese New Year, ready for visiting friends and family, neighbours and greedy grandchildren (that’s me).

They’re delicious with a cup of tea, and good at any time of year.

Engagement

In May, J and I got engaged.

We decided to celebrate with a small group of family and friends earlier this month. It was a great day – sunny weather made it’s first appearance for the month, shared with our nearest and dearest (well, those in Perth, anyway), with lots of food, fun and ball sports (for the kids). J and I had been prepping for about two days solid, but it definitely paid off in the end – as you’ll see below…

On the menu… 


14-hour pulled pork sandwiches with home made barbecue sauce


My honey-soy-garlic-everything chicken wings, German-style potato salad,
fresh garden salad and fresh bread rolls


My Mum’s famous wantans, fresh fruit,
chocolate macarons with peanut butter ganache
and red velvet cupcakes topped with cream cheese icing 

Photos courtesy of the family photographer, my sister, TFP. Instagram-ized via hack from Daniel Box.

 

Macaron-9

Chocolate peanut butter macarons

This isn’t the first time I’ve made macarons. After two previous attempts, I think I’ve finally worked out the necessary technique. The recipe I’ve been using comes from Jose Marechal’s excellent book, Secrets of Macarons, which provides an in-depth step-by-step guide to making these sweet treats for the home cook. I definitely recommend checking this out if you’re keen to get started on making your own macarons.

Macaron shells waiting to be baked (after 30 minute resting/drying time)

Chocolate peanut butter macarons

Using chocolate macaron recipe by Jose Marechal

Ingredients

  • 180g almond meal
  • 200g pure icing sugar (not icing mixture)
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 75ml water
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 160g of egg whites, divided into two equal portions (80g each) – you’ll need between 4-6 eggs, depending on the size you’re using
  • food colouring (optional), in red and green, or brown
  • Peanut butter of your choice (I used Kraft chunky peanut butter)
Equipment and other useful bits 
  • Electronic scales (a worthwhile investment if you decide you like making macarons!)
  • Candy thermometer
  • Food processor
  • Electric mixer (I use a KitchenAid stand mixer with the standard bowl)
  • a large metal, glass or ceramic mixing bowl (you’ll need two if you are using a hand mixer … no plastic as you’ll be using this with sugar syrup)
  • a small saucepan
  • a pastry brush
  • a glass of water
  • silicon-coated baking paper (such as Glad Bake, or identical supermarket-brand versions)
  • a large sieve (or fine mesh colander, if you’re totally lazy like me)
  • two spatulas (you’ll probably only need one…)
  • a pastry bag with 8mm – 1cm pastry tip (I use disposable bags from Wilton, with a plastic tip)
  • a permanent marker
  • 3 – 4 baking sheets
Method
  1. Using a shot glass, bottle top or any other circular template, trace out circles on to some paper (which fits your tray) using your permanent marker. It’s best to create staggered rows to avoid any conjoined twin macarons. I just trace out one piece of paper, then use this as a template beneath a fresh sheet, rather than tracing several pieces. (You can also save the circle template for later)
  2. Process the almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa until combined and fine – it should resemble a finely grained powder once it’s ready. You may need to do this in batches to ensure consistent texture. I find tapping the bowl regularly and scraping down the sides helpful. Sift into the large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. Measure the caster sugar and water, adding to the saucepan. I like to do this right on the scale, pressing tare as I go. Easier that way. Place pan on the stove, and bring to the boil using the candy thermometer. You’ll need to make sure it doesn’t touch the base of the pan – this can completely stuff up your temperature reading. Don’t let it boil above 115c/240F. Turn it down to simmer if you need to. Try not to agitate or mix the syrup, to avoid crystallisation. You can also brush down the sides of the pan with your pastry brush and water occasionally to avoid this happening.
  4. Beat half your egg whites (80g) until they reach a soft peak stage. Increase the speed once your syrup reaches 105c/220F. Your egg whites should be coming along to firm peaks by now.
  5. When your syrup reaches 115c/240F, remove from the heat. Pour into egg whites in a thin stream, while mix continues to beat. Keep beating for a further 10 minutes or so, until the mixture cools.
  6. Grab your bowl of processed almond meal etc, and add the remaining egg white (80g), mixing well with a spatula. Don’t worry about being to rough with the mix at this stage. You won’t hurt it. Add a little food colouring at this stage if you’re using it.
  7. Your meringue mix should be cool by now. Using the spatula, scoop out about a third of the meringue, adding it to the almond meal and egg white mix. Combine the two mixes well, you’ll need a bit of elbow grease to get them properly combined.
  8. Now incorporate another third of the meringue mix into the almond mix. More gently this time, using a folding action. The mixture will loosen after this next bit. Add the rest of the meringue and continue to mix, until the batter is uniform in colour and texture. It should be quite sticky, thick and definitely not runny.
  9. Prepare your piping bag, and fill with the mix. Be sure to get rid of as much extra air as you can while you fill – big air bubbles from your piping bag can lead to craters in your macarons.
  10. Take a piece of clean baking paper and lay it over your template, and on a baking tray. Pipe even rounds within each circle.
  11. Tap the finished tray on a bench (you can be pretty vigorous here), and let it sit in room temperature for at least 30 minutes. This step is very important to ensure your macarons stay pretty. They’ll crack if not rested long enough and they won’t form the distinctive ‘feet’ – the frilly bubbled edge around good macarons. You’ll know you’ve got it right when you can gently touch the surface of your macarons without leaving a mark.
  12. While you pipe your trays, preheat your over to 150c (300F).
  13. Bake macarons for 12 – 15 minutes (depending on size). Mine took 14 minutes.
  14. Dampen a bench top or table surface. Once the macarons are done, transfer macarons on the baking paper directly on to the dampened surface – this will make them easier to remove.
  15. Take cooled shells and match them in pairs according to size/shape. Spread/pipe with peanut butter of your choice, and sandwich!
My macarons getting the damp bench top treatment
Perfect feet!
And that’s it. You’re finally done.
Now make yourself a cup of tea (or coffee) and enjoy!