Zumbo for Beginners: The “It Mayo Shock You” Cake

For my birthday recently I was delighted to receive several cookbooks that I had been hankering after. As I have recently had to buy a new bookcase to store my ever increasing stash of cookbooks, I vowed to do more than just look at the pretty pictures and actually cook a proper amount of recipes from each book. My resolution was strengthened by the fact that holidays start in three weeks and after that I will have no colleagues/students to give my excess food to and my ever expanding waistline will soon begin to rival the equator. Fact.

And lets face it, with this selection how could you not be dying to have a crack at the recipes?

Anyway, back to the story. After the serendipitous meeting of Zumbo the other weekend (see here), I was determined to make something from the book, no matter how hard the recipes looked. The first recipe I opened to was this “It Mayo Shock You” cake and after the initial URGH reaction to the thought of mayo and chocolate (both of which I love but previously only separately) I was intrigued by the relative simplicity of the recipe.

Love the full page photos but intrigued by the continuous presence of tiny people. Any ideas?

I used the Kewpie Mayonnaise which is available at most supermarkets

(I also like to eat this squeezed on carrot sticks… mmmm…)

Yep. Equator. Told you so.

All you do is mix all the ingredients together then stir in the raspberries. So far so good…

The recipe made two small loaf cakes and my tins were a little too small so I had extra batter to make some cupcakes. No point in letting the excess go to waste!

Good lord, these cakes looked and smelled so good coming out of the oven

So the cakes came out fine, but then I hit a snag. I should have known that all would not be as it seemed. To go over the cake the recipe called for a chocolate glaze that seemed simple enough, but required the making of a mirror glaze which required an ingredient called Pectin NH. I’m familiar with normal pectin as ive used it in jam making many times before. One voice in my head said “go ahead lazy bones, just whack some jamsetta in and be done with it” while the other voice said “Katie, do you really think that someone with this degree of expertise in finnicky ingredients would just use normal pectin? Nuh uh.” For once, I made the right decision, as I found out later on that you cannot substitute normal for NH as they are totally different and act differently under heat. So I decided to admit defeat and use a normal chocolate ganache with raspberries on top of my cake.

But, I had my own secret weapon.

Ok, so not quite so secret, but pretty cool nonetheless. These babies are pretty much popping rocks and I thought I would put them on top of my ganache to give it a bit of a Zumbo lift.

You just have to remember that the star dust will lose its poppyness after it comes into contact with moisture so you don’t want to put it on your ganache before it has set.

This was quite possibly the lightest yet richest chocolate cake i’ve tried so far.

It was impossibly light. It was impossibly chocolaty but without being overly sweet.

Smothered in rich ganache with the pop of raspberry and the magical mouth popping star dust, this was the dessert of champions!

So, unfortunately I couldn’t fully reproduce the recipe as it was written, but I feel an immense sense of achievement just from making the cake. Next on the list are the “toasted lammyjammit” and the “honey comb-over” yes, I am going to work my way up to the much much more challenging ones. Baby steps peeps.

So, my lovelies, what is the craziest dessert you have ever made or eaten? Did you do a fist pump in the air when you completed it? I may have…

It Mayo Shock U – From Zumbo by Adriano Zumbo

Ingredients for the Cake

291 g japanese mayonnaise

210g caster sugar

6g vanilla extract

300g plain flour (sifted)

6g baking powder

5g bi carb soda

65g unsweetened cocoa powder

285g water

165g fresh raspberries plus extra for decoration

Method

1. Mix the mayonnaise, sugar and vanilla for 3-5 mins until the sugar begins to dissolve

2. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the mayo mix. Mix on a low speed to combine

3. With the motor running, add the water and mix until combined (beware of the splatter potential though, I don’t know if I didn’t use a big enough bowl or of the mixture was just super wet but I ended up with cake batter everywhere!)

4. Remove the mixer and carefully stir the raspberries through using a wooden spoon or spatula

5. Pour into two small loaf tins (7.5 X 7.5 X 20 cm) that have been greased and lined with baking paper

6. Bake on 170 degrees celsius for 45 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out just a little moist

7. cool the cakes in the tins and turn out carefully, making sure that you leave them the right way up

Ganache

I was super lazy and just melted some dark chocolate and then added some cream until I had the right consistency. You could always just pour melted chocolate straight on as well I suppose. Super super chocolaty!

Then garnish with raspberries and strawberry star dust!

Home Made Granola: Channeling my inner domestic goddess

I’ve never been a big at-home-breakfast kinda girl. If I ate before leaving the house it would be a piece of nutella toast or two weetbix. But the times, they are a changin and so to must (some of) my eating habits. As I haven’t been able to squeeze any more time into my mornings I knew I would need to figure out a breakfast that was quick and easy to assemble. Unfortunately that meant I had to say goodbye to my fantasy of pancakes and crispy bacon 🙁 the natural replacement would have to be cereal.

If you’ve looked down the cereal aisle of the supermarket recently you might have noticed several things.

1. the number of cereals that have sugar as ingredient #1 or 2 in their list. A big bowl of sugar disguised as cereal is not exactly what I consider the best way to start the day

2. the sizes are are wildly out of proportion for a single person’s breakfast supplies. Either they are tiny tiny bags (accompanied by wildly inflated prices) which will require repurchasing within days, or they are massive boxes which I will never get through

3. the prices for anything that looks any good are ridiculously high. What is wrong with the world when the healthier the food the more expensive it is? How will that help anybody?

So the decision was made for me that I would have to make my own. Strangely enough, I already had all the ingredients necessary!

Some vegetable oil, vanilla essence, honey and maple syrup

plus an assortment of nuts, seeds and dried fruits

And the method really couldn’t be easier. Whack on the oven, mix together your wet ingredients

mix in everything except for the coconut and fruit

spread out on two drays and cook in the oven for 15 mins

mix in your dried fruit and coconut, spread on two trays again and bake for another 10-15 mins until golden

cool, and eat with milk or yoghurt!

The best thing about this recipe is that you can really add or subtract ingredients according to what you like or what you have on hand. You can also adjust the sweetness or substitute the maple syrup for something healthier (but why would you?)

I started off with this recipe but I think I adapted it enough that the recipe im going to post below I will call my own.

Katies’ Granola of Greatness

Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla essence

125 ml (plus extra as needed) maple syrup

a sprinkle of cinnamon

300g rolled oats

50g sunflower seeds

4 tbsp Linseed kernels

50g slivered almonds

4 generous dessert spoons wheatgerm

 50 desiccated coconut (you could use coconut flakes but I didn’t have any)

100g craisins

roughly 5 chopped up dried pears

roughly 5 chopped up dried peaches

Method

1. Mix together your wet ingredients in a large bowl

2. Add everything except the dried fruit and coconut and mix well until all the ingredients are coated in your maple mix

3. If the ingredients look too dry, add another slug of maple syrup and mix well

4. sprinkle a little cinnamon (perhaps around 1/2 – 1 tsp depending on your taste) over the top and mix well

5. divide mixture between two trays covered with baking paper. Smooth in an even layer and bake at 150 degrees celsius for 15 mins or until lightly golden

6. Place mixture back into a large bowl and add the coconut and dried fruit, mix well

7. Spread mixture on trays again and bake for a further 10-15 mins or until golden. You might want to stir the mixture after 5 minutes to make sure it is cooking evenly

8. cool, then store in an airtight container.

9. serve with milk or sprinkled over yoghurt

 

So, my lovelies, what do you like to have for breakfast? Anything fancy? And if you do have something labour intensive, how on earth do you find the time?!

 

Heat Busting Key Lime Pie

If you live in Sydney then I must begin this post by applauding you for still being here. After the extreme prolonged heat yesterday (37 degrees Celsius – that’s 98 degrees F my European and American friends!) anyone who didn’t dissolve into a puddle on the floor must be commended as having superhuman strength. That was one damn hot day, and on a damn hot day you need something light, cool and refreshing. Which, I imagine, is why we have the Key Lime Pie.

And thank god we do.

Because I totally heart Key Lime Pie.

And biscuit crumbs.

(see what I did there?)

 At the moment with the heat and general busy-ness that comes with the winding down of the year, I am feeling the easy/quick prep dishes, and this one is about as simple as you can get. The base is just cookie crumbs, butter and coconut. The filling is sugar, eggs and condensed milk. The topping is cream, vanilla and a little icing sugar. I think that the cooking time was about 15(ish) mins each for the base and the filling and you can make it in short bursts over a few days. This is particularly good if you are lazy (like me) or if you are sweltering under a series of hot days and can only manage having the oven on for a short amount of time.

I started off with some Butternut Cookies and as I was sans food processor, I bashed them out with a rolling pin. Did I mention that this recipe was also good for stress relief?

Soon I was left with a mountain of crumbs

to squish into the pan and blast in the oven

Then I sampled baked the filling.

Whipped the cream, sugar and vanilla for the topping

and spread that baby over the top of the pie

What you end up with is a tangy, cool and refreshing Summer dessert, perfect for cooling you down. Delightful! I used the recipe from the wonderful blog Mangada [to eat] who always floors me with her creativity, simplicity and beautiful photography. The only change I made was the omission of the ginger cookies from the base as the mothership malfunctions when fed anything containing even a hint of ginger.

So, my lovelies, what do you do/eat/drink to cool you down when it feels as though the world around you is melting? And are any other Aussies freaking out at the prospect that days like yesterday are the shape of things to come?

Quarter Century Celebrations and the Quarter Life Crisis

Time passes. We get older, and this year saw me approaching the grand old age of 25. However, with the impending arrival of this number I have been hearing increasingly about an interesting phenomenon. Ever since I read about the concept of the ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ I have thought about my 25th birthday with a curious combination of concern and excitement. As far as I can gauge, the Quarter Life Crisis is a result of Gen Y’s predilection for indecision and general faffing around before getting down to business. Apparently after spending years studying at university we get out into the workforce and realise that we hate our jobs and in fact want to go back and study something entirely different. We then have a bit of a melt down while realising that we have to take a significant pay cut and either have to move back home or continue living at home while we redirect our lives. This is often accompanied by a major relationship meltdown/marriage crisis/body clock crisis and a slow realisation that we will never again fit into the clothes that we fit into in our teens. Depressed yet?

Well, I hate to be the optimist but my 25th birthday earlier this week was accompanied by none of the above. Instead, I feel quietly content in my career, my relationships and, well, I am a little flabby but only because i’ve been eating so much amazing food over the past few weeks. So on that note, let me share with you some of the lovely happy things that happened on my birthday.

First, the cake.

Amazing creation bought from a bakery in Five Dock by my co workers.

Not only does it look amazing and say my name, but inside it is cake and icecream! Hooray!

Second, the cake.

Hang on, rewind, ANOTHER cake? You bet!

This one purchased by my mum from the Pure Gelato shop in Croydon Park. Another ice cream cake, this one was chocolate and hazelnut and absolutely delicious! Well worth the flab.

Then there were some chocolate cupcakes. As in, chocolates in the shape of cupcakes! Also delicious. I was also given a box of the most delicious chocolates in the world, Haighs’ Violet Creams which silly me didn’t take a photo of. Oops.

I received many beautiful gifts, although I only took photos of the food related ones to post here. The boyfriend gave me a beautiful set of mis-matched tea cups and saucers and hostess apron which should all get their own post soon(ish). His family gave me some lovely serving dishes and the Country Show Cookbook pictured above. Lucky we recently bought a new bookshelf to house the ever growing collection of cook books! My mum also gave me (among other things) the two other cook books above, The Birthday Cake Book and Zumbo by Adriano Zumbo. The former has given me many ideas for future cakes while the latter have given me much food for thought but has left me in abject terror at the prospect of actually attempting to make one of these magnificent creations. Watch this space!

Which leads me to my last picture which is pretty cool…

Mr Adriano Zumbo himself! Who I met at The Lakes while watching the Australian Open Golf Tournament. One of my idols and all time favourite chefs Who would have thought it? I almost fell off my chair in surprise! Just as charming as he is on tv, he was very gracious and lovely to talk to. Although I didn’t really do much talking.

I was a little bit star struck.

So, all in all, it was a pretty damn good birthday but i’m still stuck on what I should be doing for my quarter life crisis? I feel like I shouldn’t let this opportunity for legitimate drama pass me by. Do you have any suggestions my lovelies?