The Colours of Summer – Strawberry Sorbet

So the sun is out, the sky is blue and there are still so many sweet, sweet strawberries. What more could you ask for? Today at least, it really feels like summer. One of the things I love about this season is the number of colours around. The blue green of the ocean, the bright and pastel colours of all the flowers in bloom, gorgeous yellow sun. In 2011 I figured that this year should herald a new swimming costume and towel in honour of the first summer in years i’ve actually been able to spend at the beach.

Pretty lilac and icecream colours!

To go with this new injection of colour, I felt it was time I made an icy treat worthy of being a post swim snack. Strawberry Sorbet. Mmmmmmmm a very simple recipe with few ingredients and minimal prep time. Just the thing to make on a day like today.

This recipe is very very easy to make, as long as you have lots of pretty little strawberries at your disposal. You need to puree your washed and de-headed strawberries in a blender until smooth. Always make sure you clean your blender properly. When I took the lid off to put in the strawberries, there was an awful smell in my blender. I took it apart and realised I hadn’t washed it properly the last time I used it and some of the seals had dried up mould on them. Um… extra protein? No! I cleaned that sucker thoroughly this time – before AND after strawberrying.

It’s clean now. I promise!

Then you need to pop some sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel in a pan with some water and cook to dissolve the sugar.

Add the strawberry puree and a few tablespoons of milk. (This seemed to curdle a little so I probably wouldn’t bother with the milk next time)

Churn in your machine

And voila! Sweet, soft, icy strawberry sorbet. Best thing to cool you down on a hot summer day.

And it matches my sunburn. Ouch!

So. lovely readers, what do you love most about summer? Or do you hate summer and can’t wait until winter? Im intrigued!

Strawberry Sorbet – From Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros

Ingredients

500g fresh strawberries, stalks and leaves removed

180g sugar

Juice of half a lemon

One fairly long strip of lemon peel (I used a vegetable peeler – try not to get any pith with your peel)

375 ml water

4 tbsp milk (optional)

Method

1. Puree the strawberries until they are totally smooth (I sieved the mixture afterwards because I HATE seeds in my icecream, but if you like to include them, just put the mixture into a medium sized bowl and bother sieving)

2. Put the sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel in a pan with the water and bring to the boil. Cook, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved then take off the heat and cool for 10 minutes

3. Take out the lemon peel and pour the sugar mixture into the strawberrry puree.

4. Here is where you add the milk if you want to. When I added it to mine, it seemed to curdle and didnt combine properly until I mixed it very vigorously. It didn’t seem to harm the sorbet at all so I would say go with it unless you have an objection to milk. I might skip this step though next time.

5. Put your mixture into the fridge until it is completely chilled. You might want to do this overnight. Then add to your ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturers instructions.

Love is all around me

When I was growing up, my favourite movie was Four Weddings and a Funeral. I thought it was hilarious and loved that the first word to be uttered in the film was a profanity. Followed by a liberal scattering of profanities throughout the film. I loved the music, I loved the actors and I loved the storyline. I did think it was strange though, that Hugh Grant says midway through the film that he is pleased to be spending his first Saturday in forever NOT going to a wedding. Having never been to a wedding myself I was awed at the number of weddings he must have been to. Where were all these people getting married? How do you even know enough people to be spending all this time at weddings? Seeing as the actors were much much older than me, I figured I would never have to worry about this (at least not for many many years). Until a few years ago.

It started with a close work colleague. Then a friend of my sister. Then a friend of my boyfriend. Then cousins, friends, acquaintances were all getting married! Makes me wonder what i’ve been doing with my time…

Clearly I haven’t spent my nights and days becoming a Piping Pro…

But I did think it was time to conquer my fear of covering a whole cake in fondant! Hooray!

And what better time to do it than to celebrate the engagement of my old high school friend Viv? As I missed the dinner where she made the engagement announcement, I thought a congratulatory cake would be in order. Turns out it’s not a scary or difficult as it seems (hmm am I about to use fondant as a metaphor for marriage? I hope not). As long as you leave yourself plenty of time and resign yourself to making quite a few mistakes, the road to a pretty fondant covered cake is relatively smooth sailing (well I didn’t say I wouldn’t mix my metaphors).

First you have to put on your funky apron

Yes, I bake in my pjamas…

Then you must bake a cake. Any kind of cake really. It should be relatively sturdy though so probably not a sponge. I baked a vanilla cake from this Magnolia Bakery recipe and I only baked a tiny one because if it was a screw up, at least it wouldn’t be a huge screw up!

A layer of buttercream goes between the cake and the fondant (you can use ganache if you like). I used the Magnolia Bakery buttercream recipe but I substituted the vanilla essence for musk flavouring. Far out… musk buttercream is one tasty icing!

After colouring and kneading your fondant, roll it out and drape it over your cake making sure you smooth it over the top and down the sides. Press firmly to make sure the fondant sticks

Trim off the excess (more neatly than I did!)

And decorate however you like. I attached a strip of white fondant around the base of the cake then folded two loops and joined them in the middle with a third piece of fondant to make a bow.

Now, I wish I had stopped there. But no, I was on a roll and figured I would try my hand at a little piped message on top of the cake. However, with my short memory I forgot how bad I am at piping. So the end result looked a little something like this…

I now realise that tiny cake + large piping tip x enormous word = disaster

While it was not bad for a first attempt, I will endeavour to do better! And it did celebrate the occasion nicely.

So a huge congratulations to my beautiful friends Viv and Louis, I promise to make you a prettier cake in the future!!

Malteser Cake – and why I am the way I am

I’ve spent the day watching the news reports about the QLD floods. It’s a very sobering sight. I find it absolutely incomprehensible that something like this can just happen by the will of the weather, and that overnight something that was a crisis can blow out into a catastrophe. I am lucky in that I have no family or friends in Queensland but my heart goes out to anyone who is touched by this disaster. Im sure the people of Queensland could use all the help they can get in rebuilding once the floodwaters recede, so if you want to make a donation you can do so here at the official Queensland Government website. Please forgive me if this post is not executed with my usual enthusiasm.

If you are feeling a bit down and at a loose end, then this is a cake that will cheer you up. First viewed on Chocolate Suze’s blog but originally from a Nigella Lawson recipe, this cake is one that goes that little way beyond a plain chocolate cake (although, what could be wrong with a plain chocolate cake?). I thought it would be a good way to use up the packet of Maltesers that somehow made it safely out of the cinema after I saw Harry Potter recently. Don’t ask me how that happened. They are tricksy little creatures, those Maltesers…

So they had to be taught a lesson. There is no escaping the tummy of Katie.

I wanted to use my new Heart shaped springform tin that I had snagged in the post christmas sales. I also got a madeleine tin which I will be using shortly. The heart tin worked well but did leak a little so be careful, you may want to put a little alfoil around the bottom to stop any batter leaking out into your oven.

The cake was moist and came out of the pan easily and then I had some fun decorating!

and I used my new turn table to boot 😉

I decorated the edges with half cut maltesers and sprinkled some crushed ones over the top

mmmmmm… maltesery

and I reserved some of the crushed maltesers for eating with the cake. Yummo!

I added extra malt to the mix but my real secret ingredient was a handful of maltesers thrown into the batter before baking. They leave a gooey, malty, caramely surprise in the centre of your cake

This final picture is of the serving I gave to the mothership, after she asked for more cream. I used double thick cream and she was satisfied with this amount. I think she may be using cream as an alternate fuel source. And if, while reading this blog, you were ever wondering where I got my sweet tooth and insanely skewed understanding of the food pyramid, there you go. Like mother, like daughter!

So, my lovelies, what eating habits did you inherit from your parents?

A pretty amazing (cake) sandwich

When I think of a pretty amazing sandwich, I can see two slices of beautifully soft, fresh white bread framing crisp and succulent greens, a thin smear of home made mayonnaise, marinated artichoke, a few sundried tomatos and some pieces of tangy, tasty salami. It’s enough to get me salivating just thinking about it. And then I think of this

phwoar!

And all my healthy eating plans go out the window. Heart healthy it is not, but tasty and satisfying it most certainly is. A pretty amazing sandwich.

This concoction is simple by nature. Two pieces of Cream Cheese Pound Cake framing gooey, melted lindt chocolate. Normally I don’t mind what kind of chocolate you use but today the Lindt Cafe at Martin place had 50% off christmas chocolate. Who could go past that? I had a few pieces of Cream Cheese Pound Cake (the most amazing pound cake in the world) lying around, so I defy anyone to have a different thought process to this

50% off Lindt chocoate –> left over pound cake –>new years resolution to eat healthier –> sandwich? –>chocolate and pound cake sandwich!

ok, so my logic may be flawed.

But this cake is seriously good. Normally I like my cakes gooey and chocolatey and unbelievably sweet, but I would quite happily eat slice after slice of this gorgeous dense pound cake. Hell, I might even choose the pound cake over the chocolate cake! Does that convince you? Not quite? Read on, my lovelies and hear my case!

I found this recipe in a book called Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor that I picked up in England this time last year. With a title like that, cute pastel design and drool-worthy pictures, I was hooked! You can see how cute the page designs are, thats the cookbook in the top left hand corner. And, while im talking about this picture, how good does that cake mix look? This is definitely a cake mix I could consume (new years resolutions be damned!) before even baking.

I may have licked the bowl.

Look at that sucker! All golden and puffy. Deeelicious!

I know all the other cookbooks behind are are envious that they couldn’t produce such a fine looking cake. Pipe down Nigella! Back off Bourke St Bakery! Mellow out Magnolia! I still love you all xoxo

Perfecto!

And it is loaf shaped. Like bread. Therefore making it healthier…

(see, I can construct a compelling case)

Apologies for this pic, but I was feeling faint from the heady aroma of cake, melting chocolate and sizzling butter. Can you blame me? You heartless wench!

Once you have made your cake, all you need to do to construct the sandwich is lightly butter one side of each slice of cake, place one piece butter side down on a frying pan on medium heat and scatter it liberally with your crushed or chopped chocolate. Top with the other slice of cake (butter side up) and cook until brown on the bottom, then flip and cook some more, until the chocolate is melted. Voila! A pretty amazing sandwich.

So, my lovelies, what filling would you have in your amazing pound cake sandwich? And will you be taking advantage of some 50% off chocolate this new year? A little bird tells me that you can find discounted chocolatey treats at many supermarkets still…

My Favourite Cream-Cheese Pound Cake – From Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor (The original recipe makes two loaves, I have halved the recipe so as to only make one. Feel free to double it!)

Ingredients

170g unsalted butter

110g cream cheese

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Method

1. Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature and preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius

2. Beat butter and cream cheese until smooth and creamy. With the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar and continue beating until pale and fluffy

3. Beat in the salt and vanilla

4. Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time and beat well after each addition

5. sif the flour and baking powder into the batter and fold in until smooth

6. Pour the mixture into a prepared loaf tin and bake 60-75 mins or until the tops are golden and slightly cracked. Check with a skewer if you are unsure, and if the top is browning too quickly make sure you place some aluminium foil over the top top stop it burning.