Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Daring Bakers April Challenge

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

If you are not British - you may not know what suet is, as it is no longer a commonly used ingredient.  Nowadays it's conveniently located in your supermarket ailse as powdered packet mix called suet mix.  It is in fact, fat from a cow or sheep. 
Once upon a time, before politically correctness and before the whole "saturated fat is bad for you" days, animal fat was a common ingredient in many restaurants throughout the world.  For those of you who say that MacDonalds french fries are not as good as they were when you were a kid.....you are probably right.  I'm talking about if you were a kid pre-1990......  Around 1988 - 1990 McDs stop using animal fat to fry their chips - if you remember it, they really were the BEST chips!   Now, if you want potatoes in animal fat, you have to dine with Matt Moran or Jamie Oliver who are returning to traditional ingredients with menu items such as duck fat roasted potatoes and Heston Blumenthal with his deconstructed traditional Bristish puddings.

 Due to the trouble involved in getting fresh suet in Perth, truth be told, I didn't try very hard....  I thought a good compromise was to make some sort of a steamed puddingish with animal fats.

So, I made a childhood favourite, Malai Ko.  You can eat this steamed pudding/sponge when you go for you weekend fix of dim sums in Chinatown.  It has a lovely caramelish taste and has an unbelievably soft texture and amazing moorish quality due to the inclusion of lard.  I'm sure it would have been just as delicious sitting in a puddle of vanilla infused custard, but it's charming all by itself.   Check out how the other daring bakers faired, or better yet, join us!

Malai Ko (Hong Kong Style)
This recipe is the one we used back in the restaurant, adapted for home cooking.

210g plain flour
1 Tbsp custard powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

240g castor sugar (you can use brown or raw sugar for a more intense caramel flavour)
60g butter (melted)
60g lard (melted)
3 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 tsp vanilla essense
180ml milk (slightly warmed)
1/2 tsp parisian browning essense (optional)

Line a 20cm tin with baking paper (lining the base is sufficient) and set aside.
Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and custard powder together.  Add sugar, melted butter & lard. eggs, vanilla essense and milk in and stir until well combined.  Add Parisian essense to give the cake a lovely caramel colour.
Pour into prepared tin and steam on high heat for 30 minutes until cooked.  Test with a toothpick.   Remove from steamer and cut and eat as soon as it is cool enough to handle!

I actually did quite a lot of time in the kitchen this weekend.  The pudding challenge, a cheesecake for the lovely Sarina's birthday - complete with a flutter of edible rice paper butterflies.  

 And even managed to do the whole Dulce de Leche..... boil a tin for 3 hours thing!  Will put those adventures up as soon as I wade through all the delicious ideas for the sinfully delicious gooey goodness! 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Off into the sunset

I heard it through the grapevine first..... and then one of my favourite clients SMS'd me, she was finally engaged! After almost 10 happy years together her man had popped the question. Even though in this day and age, traditional marriage is not as important or an indication of happiness shared between two people, it is nevertheless still pretty exciting to know that another couple is bravely riding off into the sunset together!

A low key engagement party required cake, and I of course was more than happy to bake for the occassion! After much deliberation, the delighted pair chose a girl vs boy mentality theme.

As you can see, its pretty accurate and shows the sense of humour of the couple......

A pair of hot pink hearts for the girls....

and a ball and chain for the boys.......

I guess, boys will be boys! Congratulations to Charmaine and Alister, may you always hold the keys to each others hearts and live long and happily ever after!!

Whilst the kitchen was all warm from the baking, I thought that I'd attempt quelling my fear of that active little thing called yeast. I have a morbid fear of yeast, it doesn't like me, and I don't like it...... apart from one successful attempt back in primary school - making hot cross buns, I haven't had much luck with it. If the mix is too cold, it dies, if its too hot it dies, if you don't feed it, it dies.... you get the idea.

Anyhow, after sitting glued to the TV watching Cake Boss for 3 days ..... the larger than life Buddy, star of the show - really grows on you. The passion he has for his bakery, his family and life in general is hard to resist after a season or two.... :p

More about cake boss some other time...... so, in one episode of Cake Boss, Buddy makes a Crumb cake for a customer who has travelled 3 hours for it, only to find that the cake has been sold. Imagine driving 3 hours for a cake - that would definately have to be a heck of a cake. So, what is a girl to do?? Bake it of course!!

Photo shoot with Carlos Bakery crumb cake.

On the show, Buddy says that the recipe came with the bakery way, way back when his Dad bought it. So a search through my trusted cookbooks came up with a variety of crumb cakes, mostly of German origins, but nothing that seemed like the yeast dough that Buddy obviously made on the series. (Yes... I notice these things..) So, finally, after some serious searching, I found a recipe from cakedesire in California on Cakecentral. The internet is a lovely place! Stueselkuchen, here we go!

Here is the attempt with the crumbs ready to go in the oven.

After about 20 minutes the crazy mouthwatering smell of butter and sugar started whafting from the oven......

And finally, it was ready. Well, it was pretty delicious.... next time, there will be more crumb, it'll be higher and more people will be gathered to share it, because it really was only delicious for that first day it came out of the oven. It's a strange combination of textures, with the spongey breadlike base and crisp, buttery crumble. A hint of lemon zest in the dough comes through with a lovely scent making it seem lighter, I think, if I was allowed free reign, I would've happily eaten half the cake!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The terrible twos....

It doesn't seem so long ago that a double bundle of joy joined our happy little group with a whole army of 'aunts' and 'uncles' to smother them with love and affection. Babies that are bought into the world with so much love, are the luckiest little beings!

Cake to welcome the twins from 2008

2 little peas in a pod, once no bigger that their Daddy's forearm turned 2 this weekend.

So carrying on from the 'nature' theme of things.... flowers were the natural choice. Silky smooth red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and covered in a thin layer of fondant icing.

Curious little Caitlin

and delicate little Imogen

This is definately the appropriate response to a cake made in your honour!!

Happy 2nd birthday Caitlin & Imogen! Wishing you both love & happiness always.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Perth Planet Cake Classes

Less than one month to go before Planet Cake arrives in Perth!! I'm so excited to meet all the Perth cake decorators. Classes will be at Epicurious in Subiaco and Basic 101 and 102 on the 5 & 6 May still have a few places available. So, get onto the Planet Cake site.

Classes will be taught by the amazingly talented Handi, who some of you may remember from last years episode of Master Chef.

Joanne Tay and myself will be helping Handi with the courses, and we look forward to seeing all the creative and wonderful cakes that you will be making!!

Here is a sneak peek at the Brisbane classes from earlier in the year.

Imagine how difficult it will be to cut into this luscious chocolate cake filled with Belgium chocolate ganache, even if it is too beautiful to eat...... because after all, it is edible art!