November 27, 2015

Soft Garlic Knots

Oh my gosh, these garlic knots are absolutely delicious, and pretty easy to make!  Prepare yourself for extreme garlic action - the bread is soft, very garlicky and beautiful too.

If you don't want garlic, you could always put cinnamon and sugar on them and they'd be just as nice!

Recipe adapted from: King Arthur Flour
Ingredients - bread
270g plain flour
230g bread flour
1 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp dry instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
225g water

Ingredients - garlic glaze
45g butter
4 cloves garlic

1. Mix the dry ingredients (everything except the olive oil and water) in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.

2. Microwave the water until it's lukewarm.

3. Add the olive oil and lukewarm water to the dry ingredients, mix with the dough hook until smooth and combined.  If the dough is too dry, add a touch more water - if it's too wet, add a bit more flour.  Knead the dough in the mixer (or by hand) for a few minutes, until nice and elastic.

4. Lightly grease the bowl with olive oil then place the dough in to rise for about an hour, covered with cling wrap.  The dough should about double in size.

5. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and roll it out on a floured surface into a large rectangle.

6. Cut the rectangle into about 16 strips (along the long side, so you have 16 short strips).

7. Roll each strip into a round rope and then fold it into a knot.  See this link for some helpful pictures!  It's actually pretty simple to achieve.

8. Place the knots on baking trays lined with baking paper or silicone mats with a fair amount of space in between.

9. Cover the knots with cling wrap or a tea towel and let them rise for another hour.  While they're rising, preheat the oven to 175C (350F).

10. Bake the knots for 15-18 minutes.  They should be golden brown but still soft!  While they're baking, make your garlic glaze.

11. Melt the butter for the glaze, then chop the garlic finely and mix it into the butter.

12. When the knots come out of the oven, brush them generously with the garlic glaze.  The reason you don't bake them with the garlic on is because the garlic would burn!

14. These knots are best eaten warm, so enjoy them ASAP!  You can also reheat them in the microwave to soften them if you have any left the next day.


November 18, 2015

Choc Chip Cookies (Not Without Salt recipe)

Ladies and gentlemen, I've found a new favourite choc chip cookie recipe!  It's very versatile - I like to make the dough into a large log then chop it up pretty thinly.  When baked, this gives the edges a nice crunch and chewiness while the middle stays softer.

In addition to dark chocolate chips, sometimes I add white chocolate chips, pecans or hazelnuts to spice things up a bit.

Recipe adapted from: Not Without Salt
225g butter
55g white sugar
55g raw sugar (or Turbinado)
340g brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence
455g flour
1 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
2 tsp salt plus extra for sprinkling
450g dark chocolate chips or chocolate chunks

1. Preheat the oven to 180C (360F).  Cream the butter and all sugars until light and fluffy.

2. Beat eggs into the mixture one at a time until incorporated, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. Beat in the vanilla essence.

4. Add the flour, bicarb soda and salt to the bowl, mix gently until fully combined - don't overmix.

5. Finally, add the chocolate chips!  If you're adding nuts, or anything else, fold these in as well.

6. Place tablespoons of dough on baking trays covered with baking paper or silicone mats.  Alternatively, roll portions of dough into logs and let them chill in the freezer until hardened, then chop into slices.

7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.  You want the middle to still be soft so don't over bake them!

8. Allow the cookies to cool a bit and then enjoy!  They're amazing when they're warm.

November 9, 2015

Macarons at Savour Chocolate School

I attended the Decadent Chocolate Biscuits class at Savour Chocolate School a few months ago, which was an amazing experience.  I went back recently to go to their Macarons class

I learnt some great techniques for both macarons and fillings - previously I only used the 'French method' for macarons, which involves folding icing sugar and almond meal into beaten egg whites, but now I know a method which creates a much sturdier macaron!

We made six flavours all together - bergamot cream, salted caramel, peanut brittle, passionfruit lime cheesecake, coffee hazelnut and these really cute burger macarons (ganache 'patty', white chocolate 'cheese' and raspberry jam 'tomato sauce').

This is the salted caramel macaron - dusted with demerara sugar and filled with an amazing caramel.

Salted Caramel
This is the peanut brittle - my favourite!  Filled with chopped brittle and brittle-infused ganache (that actually tasted like peanut brittle!)  We splashed these with red-tinted cocoa butter which was really fun.

Peanut Brittle

Peanut Brittle
Next up is the passionfruit lime cheesecake.  I'm not a huge cheesecake person but my brother loved this.  The filling was a tart passionfruit lime jam surrounded by fluffy cream cheese buttercream.

Passionfruit Lime Cheesecake

Passionfruit Lime Cheesecake
This is the bergamot cream macaron - the biscuit itself was infused with tea and the bergamot cream filling was smooth and a bit tart.  I'd never used bergamot before but it tastes kind of like lemon, but different.

October 31, 2015

Flourless Fudge Brownies (Gluten Free)

These brownies are dense, fudgy, flourless and gluten free!  (Reviewers have said that they are so good that they can't believe it's gluten free...)  They also have a great tang from the use of brown sugar in the batter.

Recipe adapted from: Haigh's Chocolate
Ingredients - 20cm x 30cm brownie tin
200g dark chocolate
267g butter
4 eggs
250g brown sugar
250g white sugar
133g hazelnut meal
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
34g cocoa powder

1. Start by preheating your oven to 175C (350F).  Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave, mix to combine them and set aside.

2. Whisk the eggs with the brown sugar and white sugar until slightly lightened in colour.  Don't beat this too hard as you want the brownies to be fudgy, not fluffy!

3. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and whisk until combined.

4. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix the hazelnut meal, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder into the batter.  Mine turns out to be a spreadable consistency so don't be worried if it's not runny.

5. Line your 20cm x 30cm brownie tin with baking paper and spread the batter evenly into the tin.

6. Bake for 50 minutes - an inserted toothpick should come out with a few crumbs.

7. Let the brownies cool in the tin then put them in the refrigerator and chill for a while so they'll be easier to cut (I leave mine in the fridge overnight).

8. Cut into the size of your choice and enjoy!

October 24, 2015

Browned Butter Cookie Dough Chocolate Cake

This cake is so good, it's ridiculous.  The chocolate cake is dense and moist, the icing is incredible and the browned butter taste really comes through.  Plus, the cookie dough part of things doesn't have any raw egg!

Recipe adapted from: Bright-Eyed Baker
Ingredients - 3 tier 15cm cake
500g white sugar
250g flour
75g cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp salt
115g butter
2 eggs
240g buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla essence
225g hot coffee

Ingredients - browned butter brown sugar icing
400g butter (you will brown this)
165g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
350g icing sugar
20g cream

Ingredients - cookie dough icing
25g butter (you will brown this)
55g brown sugar
1 tbsp cream
40g flour

Method - cake
1. Preheat the oven to 175C (350F).  Butter three 15cm cake tins (or equivalent) and line the bottoms with baking paper.

2. Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, bicarb and salt in a mixing bowl - I used the bowl of my stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

3. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool slightly.

4. Mix the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and melted butter into the flour mixture until smooth.

5. Add the hot coffee and stir into the batter.  It will be very liquid.

6. Evenly distribute the batter between the three cake tins and bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs.  It should still be moist.

7. Let the cakes cool in the tins for about 15 minutes then invert the cakes onto wire racks to cool completely.

Method - browning butter
1. Both the cookie dough and icing use browned butter, so you can do both at the one time - however, if you like, you can do it separately.

2. Place the 25g butter for the dough and 400g butter for the icing in a saucepan.  Heat the butter over medium-low heat until the butter starts frothing, whisking it occasionally.  Keep it cooking while whisking until the butter turns a golden colour and brown flecks form on the bottom of the pan.  It will smell really amazing!

3. Remove the butter from the heat and transfer it into two bowls, splitting the amounts into approximately 25g and approximately 400g amounts (keep in mind that after browning the weight might have decreased, so eyeball it a bit!)  I recommend using something metal as you are going to put this in the freezer and you don't want your bowls to crack from the temperature change.  

4. Take the larger amount of butter (the one you'll be using for the icing) and mix the 165g brown sugar into it.  Leave the smaller amount of butter with no additions.

5. Freeze both the browned butter bowls until the butter is firm (but not completely hard)

Method - brown sugar icing
1. Using the larger amount of browned butter that you mixed the brown sugar into, and place it in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  The butter shouldn't be rock hard, but you can use a knife and cut it a bit to make it easier to beat.

2. Beat the butter with the vanilla essence until fluffy.

3. Add the icing sugar (sift it for a lump-free icing!) and beat until light and fluffy.

4. Finally, add the cream and beat.  The cream just makes the icing smoother, more spreadable and takes away some of the gritty sugar feeling that buttercream can get.

5. Set the icing aside and make your cookie dough!

Method - cookie dough icing
1. Take the smaller amount of browned butter, beat the 55g brown sugar into it until light and fluffy.  Since there was such a small amount I just used a wooden spoon.

2. Mix the cream in, and finally the flour until you have a smooth paste-like dough.

3. Take about a cup of the brown sugar icing and beat it into the cookie dough for an amazing cookie dough flavoured icing.

Method - assembly
1. Place one (completely cool) cake layer on your desired serving plate and top with a third of the cookie dough icing.

Add the next cake layer, another third of the cookie dough icing and finally the last cake layer - top this with the rest of the cookie dough icing.

2. Ice the rest of the cake with the remaining brown sugar icing.

3. Decorate as you please or just dig in!

October 11, 2015

Pecan Sticky Buns

These buns are delicious, soft, sticky and sweet.  Definitely a staple recipe for your yeast repertoire!

Recipe adapted from: The Boy Who Bakes
Ingredients - brioche
70mL milk
1 tbsp honey
1 packet dry instant yeast (7g)
150g plain flour
150g bread flour
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
125g butter (room temperature)

Ingredients - topping
75g butter
100g brown sugar
Pinch of salt
75mL cream
25mL water
(Instead of this topping, I used leftover butterscotch sauce from sticky date pudding)
75g pecans

Ingredients - filling
75g brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
30g butter

Method - brioche
1. Microwave the milk until it's lukewarm.  Mix the honey and yeast into the milk and let it sit for a minute.

2. Combine the yeast mixture with the plain flour, bread flour, salt and eggs - mix until combined.  I used my Kitchenaid with the dough hook attachment.  Knead at low-medium speed for a few minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

3. Chop the butter into small pieces and, while the mixer is running, add the butter a few pieces at a time.  Once all of the butter is added, knead the dough for a few more minutes until smooth and the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

4. Grease a bowl lightly with butter or oil and place the dough in, then cover with cling wrap and let it sit in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.  You can also refrigerate this overnight.

5. When your dough has risen (or, if you refrigerated it, you're ready to bake the buns), make the topping and filling.

Method - topping
1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and sugar and mix until combined.

2. Reduce the heat to low and add the salt and cream, simmer for a minute.

3. Take the pan off the heat and add the water.

4. Once this is all mixed, set it aside to cool.

5. Chop the pecans roughly and set aside.  You can toast these for some extra crunch if you want!

Method - filling
1. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.

2. Melt the butter.

Method - assembly
1. Lightly flour a clean work surface and tip the dough out, pat it into a rectangle with your hands.

2. Flour the dough lightly and roll it out to about a 40x50cm rectangle.

3. Brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mix over it evenly.

4. Roll the dough into a log from the long edge (so you get a long log).

5. Cut the log into about 12 slices.

6. Butter two 6-hole muffin tins (these tins have bigger recesses than regular cupcake tins) - you can use a large round tin as well.  I used one muffin tin and one large round silicon cake pan.

7. Pour the caramel topping evenly between your baking tins and top with the chopped pecans.

8. Place your buns into the muffin tins so the cut side is facing up.

9. Cover the tins with cling wrap and let them rise for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.  Preheat your oven to 170C (340F).

10. The caramel topping may bubble over the sides of your muffin tins, so just in case, place the tins on baking trays lined with baking paper to catch any spills.  This wasn't an issue for me but better safe than sorry!

Bake the buns for about 35 minutes, or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.  If you're using a cake tin with the buns smooshed together rather than separated in muffin tins, you may need to bake a bit longer.

11. Let the buns cool for a few minutes in the tins and then invert onto a plate.

These buns are best served while fresh and warm (though be careful, the caramel is very hot straight out of the oven!)  If it's been a day or two, just heat them in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to get that softness back.