Little Drops of Sunshine – Lemon Curd Tartlets

When the mercury hits 30+ degrees (celsius, my European friends) you know that Summer is well and truly here. Despite the fact that technically, it is still Spring. So to celebrate the sunshine and the general laziness that long beautifully warm days brings, I thought I would make some easy peasy lemon tartlets.

If you think these babies are looking a little on the large side, take not that they are sitting in a mini muffin pan not a normal sized one

What really started this off was a little road trip I took a few weeks ago to the NSW Southern Highlands. It was a great weekend away with great company, amazing food, lots of antique shops and second hand bookstores. The first place we explored was Berrima which is a pretty little town that has a bit of everything – history, beautiful flowers and gardens, food and knick knacks. I was also surprised to come across a working jail which I am going to request if I ever get convicted of a crime. I might even plead guilty to something I didn’t do if I could be guaranteed I would serve my time out at Berrima such is the (external) beauty of the sandstone building and splashes of bright tulips. Lets hope it never comes to that!

So after I had pondered my career as a criminal mastermind and thought through my Plan B, we made our way to a store called the Little Hand Stirred Jam Shop. With a name like that how could you resist? Lucky I succumbed to my frivolous whims as I left the store with these

Lemon Butter and Creamed Honey.

Far out brussle sprout.

Show me a person who doesn’t like either of these and i’ll show you a fool.

Fool I tell you!

A bottle of sunshine.

And Bronze at the Sydney Royal Easter Show! Hooray!

Although if this baby only won bronze, I desperately want to try whatever won silver and gold, they must be like liquid crack.

All you will need for this recipe is three things. A packet of Butternut Snap Cookies, a jar of Lemon Butter or Lemon Curd and a mini muffin pan. You can use chocolate to decorate them but it isn’t strictly necessary.

Pop a cookie on the top of an empty muffin hole and place the tray in the oven for 5-7 minutes.

When they are soft, make a light impression with a tea spoon but be careful that you don’t break the biscuit. The place the tray in the fridge until the biscuits are hard again.

Once the biscuits are cooled, spoon the Lemon Butter on top until they are filled to your satisfaction. Then place back in the fridge until they are set.

At this point you can pipe some chocolate on top of your tarts, I just melted some dark chocolate and added a little glycerine to make it more pipeable.

Cute!

Quite simply, they are little mouthfuls of happiness.

I adapted the recipe from this one  although if you follow the link you will see that my laziness is incredible as the recipe was originally one for quick and easy lemon meringue pies. Except that I couldn’t be bothered with the meringue. But I think these are just as tasty as a snappy citrus tart!

So,  my lovelies, what short cuts do you take in the kitchen? What can you never be bothered to do?

 

Spiced Pound Cake and teachable moments

 I would like to begin this post with a picture of the delicious crunchy bits that form on the top of some cakes. Enjoy.

Now back to business. Sometimes during the course of a lesson we are lucky to get what we call a ‘teachable moment’. When something unexpected happens (inside or outside of the classroom) from which we can draw a moral, life or course related lesson. Sometimes it’s as simple as seeing what can happen when you swing on your chair – and inevitably fall off and crack your head. Sometimes it’s as complex as discussing the international ramifications of a tragedy such as 9/11. It can be anywhere along that spectrum and it gives the lesson a bit more of an edge and relevance that you hope will leave the students with a lasting impression and a more insightful view of themselves and the world around them.

As i’m a very slapdash cook (and person!), my kitchen disasters often lead to such ‘teachable moments’ in which I realise an important lesson. I don’t often post the recipes that don’t work out. Don’t get me wrong, this recipe is amazing and my lesson is nothing to do with this cake. It is more to do with cutting corners….

It starts with basic cake ingredients. A few eggs, a little butter and sugar…

Then we put the batter into a bundt pan. Trust me, everything tastesbetter as a bundt!

And then we have a delicious fragrant, spicy pound cake!

This cake doubles as a room freshener as the smell of the spices wafting out of the oven while it bakes fills the house making everything smell delicious.

So where’s this ‘teachable moment’ I hear you ask?

well, its nothing to do with the deliciously soft and spongy interior to this cake

or the way its moist innards contrast with the crunchy munchy exterior

instead, my lesson was…

never skimp on greasing the pan.

I said I was lazy and often cut corners. I wing it and fly by the seat of my pants. Sometimes I don’t grease the pan properly. This time, it bit me in the ass. Hard.

While still tasting delicious, I couldn’t help but feel sad for my mangled cake and wonder if it would have tasted even better if I had shown it a tiny bit more love and care and taken time to grease the pan properly. Que sera.

So, my lovelies, what baking (or life) lessons have you learned when you were least expecting it?

Spiced Pound Cake Recipe – Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients

230g unsalted butter

650g caster sugar

5 eggs

240ml full cream milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

400g flour

1/2 tsp bicarb soda

1/2 tsp salt

Method

1. Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and cream until light and fluffy

2. add the eggs one at a time mixing well before adding the next

3. beat in the milk and vanilla extract until well mixed

4. Stir the spices, bicarb and salt into the batter until well combined

5. Pour the batter into a bundt tin and bake in at 170 degrees celsius for 60-70 mins or until golden brown

Enjoy!

We interrupt this transmission to bring you some beautiful and wonderful things

I don’t like change. I think I may have said that before on this blog but i’ll certainly say it again. Perhaps I should qualify that statement, I don’t like change that I can’t control. But this life is a funny old thing and I have come to realise that some change can be good. So changing seasons, while I can’t control them, is something I can at least anticipate and therefore does not fall into the category of change that I don’t like. Now that it is really feeling like Spring (with a little bit of Autumn and Summer thrown in to boot) I can enjoy the changes that are going on around me.

Exhibit A: Beautiful flowers

Aren’t they beautiful? Dodgy shots aside, they were given to me by some departing students and they bloomed in my kitchen for weeks and weeks. Vibrant and pink and fragrant and generally representative of everything that is good in the world. Good choice!

Exhibit B: Beautiful flowers growing in the garden

Planted of course by the mothership who likes to get up at incredible hours in the morning to potter around and make the place beautiful. I, however, cannot be trusted to keep things like these growing. In fact, the only reason Exhibit A lasted so long is because the mothership watered them. I didn’t realise that you had to continually refill the vase… oops…

Exhibit C: Gorgeous artwork

After attending Alan Somerville’s new exhibition Sagacity held at the wonderful Glebe gallery Salerno Gallery I was mesmerised by the sketches of ballet dancers and flamenco dancers. These sketches were done by Alan in preparation for his more time consuming sculptures (which are equally amazing) and I could not leave without making sure that this baby was coming home with me. Please forgive my terrible terrible iphone shot, I will make sure to do this art work justice when I get it home. Just take my word for it, it is absolutely stunning.

 Exhibit D: Packages of books in the mail

I went crazy on Book Depository a few weeks ago and bought an enormous stack of books to wade through over the Summer break. A mix of classics, favourites and books that came highly recommended I have already finished my first book and am devouring my second. Hooray for literature!

 

Exhibit E: The purchase of a vintage tea cup, saucer, entree plate and sugar bowl

I did quite a bit of road tripping in the last holidays and ended up in the Souther Highlands town of Robertson. Here my friend and I visited the many antique stores and I came back with this beautiful set. The pattern is Wedgewood ‘Runnymede’ and I am very much in love. I defy you not to be.

Exhibit F: Passionfruit Souffle with Banana and Mango Sorbet and creme chantilly

AND

Exhibit G: Valrhona Chocolate Mousse with Mandarin and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

What would this post be without a homage to at least one thing sweet and delicious?

My boyfriend and I recently dined at Guillaume at Bennelong to celebrate our anniversary. The entire experience was magnificent and it was a wonderful evening. I am not a fan of taking photos of the food i’m eating at a restaurant but when these desserts came out, we couldn’t help ourselves! Delicious, fruity and rich, they were both impeccable and were a perfect way to round off the evening. I was particularly impressed by the helpfulness and professionalism of all the staff from the lady who took our reservation to the continuously beaming waiter who made us feel like we were the only two diners in the restaurant who were important. What an evening!

 So, my lovelies, although this post was meandering and not really to the point, I promise I will resume normal transmission soon. What are some of the things that you have been enjoying lately?

Pretty In Pink

While I absolutely love to bake and decorate cakes I am the first to admit that I am still only an amateur. Which is why i’m always surprised and alarmed when people ask me to cook something for them for a party or occasion. I normally dirty ice fondant covered cakes with buttercream but earlier in the year decided to experiment with using ganache. I had incredible trouble creating a smooth base for the fondant so the first cake I tried was bumpy bumpy on top and just generally not that great (i’m definitely my own worst critic!). In an effort to curb my ever expanding waistline I brought it into work where the pink/yellow combination caught the eye of the lovely Maryanne who said he daughter would love something similar for her birthday.

This is what I came up with

I was a bit apprehensive about making a proper cake for people I didn’t really know. I couldn’t think of anything worse than disappointing a beautiful little girl on her birthday! In fact, I will admit that I had several cake related nightmares in the lead up to creating and delivering this cake. One involved trying to bake a cake but finding that when I opened the carton of eggs, each egg that I picked up had either a massive crack in the shell or a hairline fracture that made the egg unusable. This picking up and discarding of eggs must have gone on for hours in my dream because I woke up terribly frustrated and upset and needed to go to the fridge and check all my eggs again. I also had dreams of dropping the cake, having to swerve violently when driving and ending up with a smooshed cake.

I should have had faith after seeing the batter. How yummy does it look!

Three layers with chocolate fudge filling

Then dirty iced with chocolate ganache. I know its not super smooth but it is a whole lot smoother than my last cake!

Under a layer of pink fondant

Then finished of with pink and blue hearts as requested by the birthday girl.

From all accounts the cake arrived at the party in tact and was swiftly demolished. The birthday girl was pleased with her pink and blue vanilla and chocolate and everyone was happy. Phew! No cake wrecks for me… yet!

So, my lovelies, can you remember having a delicious/good looking cake for your birthday? I remember my mum making me an amazing pink princess castle for my birthday (good old AWW childrens birthday cake cookbook!). Or did you have a cake wreck? Spill the beans!