Monthly Archives: March 2013

Caramel Slice

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My Family love caramel slice. So much so that when my youngest was 3 years old I would regularly find him hiding in the bottom of the pantry cupboard, with the container of caramel slice in hand and a chocolate/caramel grin. Now he still loves caramel slice but being eight I haven’t found him sneaking it lately , or he has just become better at hiding and not getting caught :-).

But whom can blame him, its hard to pass up this decadent slice with a crunchy base, gooey caramel middle and smooth chocolate top. This is a Donna Hay recipe from Simple Essentials Chocolate (https://www.donnahay.com.au/online-store/books/simple-essentials-chocolate) . I have been making this slice for many years, and find no matter whom I’m making it for it is always a hit.

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Recipe:
biscuit base;
150g Plain flour
40g desiccated coconut
90g brown sugar
125g melted butter

caramel filling;
1/3 cup golden syrup
125 melted butter
2 x 400g cans sweetened condensed milk

chocolate topping;
185g dark chocolate
3 teaspoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place flour, coconut, sugar and butter in a bowl and mix well. Press mixture into a 20cm x 30cm slice tin lined with non-stick baking paper and bake a for 15 -18 minutes or until golden brown.

To make caramel filling , place the golden syrup, butter and condensed milk in a saucepan over low heat  and stir for 7 minutes or until caramel has thickened slightly. Pour over cooked base and bake for 20 minutes or until the caramel is golden. Refrigerate until slice is cold.

To make chocolate topping, Place chocolate and oil in a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted. Spread slice with the topping.

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Hot Cross Buns

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Well its that time of the Year again!!!! it comes around so quickly, you just start to recover from Christmas, and with the blink of an eye it’s Easter. But what could be a better excuse for some Baking. As a child I loved hot cross buns I couldn’t get my fill of them. But these days they don’t seem to taste the same, either they are made differently or my taste has changed but I regularly find shop brought hot cross buns heavy and doughy. So this year I thought I’d have an attempt at making my own.

Recently I was at my local farmers market at the Adelaide show ground and I saw these gorgeous Hot Cross Buns baked in little terra cotta pots, I thought it was a fantastic idea and that they would make great little Easter gifts.I went down to my local shops I couldn’t find any terra cotta pots, so instead of driving across town I got these gorgeous little blue tubs which I thought would work just as well.

For my first attempt I don’t think they turned out too bad they ended up being quite a large serving so you could possibly try using a smaller container, but if your like me you will happily eat a large one 🙂

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RECIPE:

  • 1 tablespoon dried yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 185ml warm milk
  • 125ml cold milk
  • 50g melted butter
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 525g plain flour
  • 130g sultanas
  • 50g currants
  • 20g mixed peel
  • 2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • a pinch of salt
  • 75g plain flour
  • 160ml water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

To make dough:
Whisk yeast,sugar and warm milk in a jug and let sit for 10 minutes or until frothy. Whisk in cold milk, butter and egg.

Combine flour, mixed spice, salt, dried fruit and mixed peel in a bowl. Make a well in the the centre then add yeast mixture. Use a wooden spoon and stir until combined, then use hands to bring dough together in the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. Alternatively place in mixing bowl and use dough hook attachment. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, set aside to prove for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.

Shape the buns:
Punch down the centre of the dough with your fist. Then knead on a lightly floured surface for 2 minutes. Divide dough into even portions, this obviously will depend on the size of container you are baking in. I measured the first one to fit allowing room for rising, I then weighed it on my scales and then measured the remainder  the same.

Brush inside of container liberally with melted butter, then place measured dough balls inside. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside for 30 minutes to double in size.

Bake and Decorate:
Preheat Oven to 200 degrees. Combine flour and water to make a paste. Place in a plastic bag with corner cut out or a piping bag. Pipe crosses onto buns. Bake for 10 minutes , reduce oven temperature to 160 degrees and bake for a further 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Meanwhile place sugar and water into a small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. simmer until the glaze thickens. When buns are cooked remove from oven and brush tops with the glaze, set aside to cool slightly. Then ENJOY.Image

HOME MADE YOGHURT

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I love home made yoghurt. I think it tastes better, it is far more economical and it is easy to make. It is also sugar and gelatine free with no artificial colours or flavourings and you know exactly what was going in it. I have been making yoghurt for over a year now and my family love it. I have just recently taught my mum how to make it also. It is great for my sister who is lactose intolerant, I am able to make her yoghurt with her lactose free milk.

The milk I used for this batch is a local milk from the beautiful Adelaide Hills, B.D Farm Paris Creek (http://www.bdfarmpariscreek.com.au/Home.html), I have used a full-cream milk but you can also use light milk.  Paris Farm Full Cream Milk

In this batch I have used four litres of milk but regularly use six litres. From Six litres of milk I usually obtain a yield of three litres of yoghurt, but it does depend on how long you strain it for which also increases the thickness of the yoghurt.

I use a double boiler to bring the milk to a temperature of 85 degree celsius. Once it reaches temperature I let it sit at temperature for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes has been reached I then drop temperature to 38 degrees celsius, I do this by putting the milk into a cold water bath (alternatively you also let this naturally air cool, just for longer). When the milk has dropped to 38 degrees celsius I then spike the milk with yoghurt culture, I use two heaped tablespoons. The yoghurt culture I used originally was a natural yoghurt that contained active cultures or you can alternatively use freeze dried cultures (http://www.makeyourownyogurt.com/make-yogurt/what-you-need). Also, as a side note, once you have completed your first batch of yoghurt you can use it as the starter from then on. I then strain milk into a large pot and cover. I place on a heat pad at 38 degrees celsius, and leave for 7 hours or overnight (covered by a tea-towel).

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After Yoghurt has sat for said period of time, I place a cheese cloth into a large strainer and transfer yoghurt across. Leave to strain the whey off for as long as desired, the longer you strain the thicker your yoghurt. I like my yoghurt really thick so I strain for a good hour or more. You don’t have to strain your yoghurt you can eat from pot set but is quite a watery mixture with all the why left in it. Once stained to desired thickness (baring in mind that it will also thicken more once placed in fridge) transfer to containers and refrigerate. Your yoghurt is now ready to eat.

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I like to eat my yoghurt natural but you can also flavour it. My youngest son loves it with honey or blueberries stirred through. My hubby likes it with walnuts and maple syrup. When apricots are is season I make an apricot puree to stir through. But really the possibilities are endless you just need to use your imagination.

As for the Whey (the by product left after straining )there are many uses:

  • It is great for the garden  (my roses love it).
  • Animals love it, especially my dogs, and it is very good for them being full of protein.
  • You can also use it for baking breads, cakes etc.

INGREDIENTS:

  1. Milk
  2. yoghurt starter

EQUIPMENT:

  1. two large saucepans one slightly larger then the other
  2. strainer
  3. cheese cloth
  4. thermometer
  5. heat pad

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Basil Ice-cream

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Now don’t knock this until you try it!!!! It is really yummy and refreshing.

I first came across this recipe in one of my Delicious Magazines (one of the many cooking mags I subscribe too)(http://www.taste.com.au/delicious/). And since then I have come across various takes on the recipe. Another I like is Strawberry and Basil, which is great when strawberry picking season is on (October to May in Adelaide). Hubby and I pack the kids in the car and make the short drive out to Harhndorf, in the Adelaide Hills, to the Beerenberg Farm (http://www.beerenberg.com.au) to pick strawberries (a great family activity).

At the moment I have basil growing strongly in my garden and want to make the most of it before the season ends.

My Mum and Dad are staying with us at the moment and this is one of my Dads favourite Ice-creams, and well as for the kids they like anything ice-cream 😉

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Recipe:

Large bunch fresh picked basil leaves
500g caster suger
250g mascarpone cheese ( I have also substituted cream here and it works just as well)
1.25kg greek yoghurt ( I make my own yoghurt and it works beautifully in this recipe, this will be a future blog)

Place caster sugar and basil into a food processor and process until forms a course powder.
Add mascarpone cheese and yoghurt then pulse until combined.
Place into icecream machine and churn as per machine instructions.

NB: Home made icecream is best eaten in the first couple of days, and if your place is anything like mine your lucky if it lasts that long………
And always leave to soften for 20 minutes before serving.

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What interesting flavour ice-creams have you made?

Afternoon Tea

The day is ticking away, not long until it’s time to collect the the kids from School and there is nothing exciting for afternoon tea to fill those hungry bellies.

Chocolate cookies come to mind, fast to make and always a thumbs up from the kids (and Dad, Nanna and Poppy also).

I love white chocolate and Macadamia nut cookies based on a Donna Hay recipe from the cookbook simply chocolate (https://www.donnahay.com.au/online-store/books/simple-essentials-chocolate). So I set about making them, all is going well until I go to the pantry for the macadamia nuts “OOPS” I forgot to replace the last packet (note to self must add to shopping list). I rummage around in the pantry and pull out a pack of hazelnuts they’ll do it. So presto i have dark chocolate and hazelnut cookies.

Next dilemma oldest child has braces, NO NUTS FOR HIM!!!!!!. So i whip up another batch with white and milk chocolate double chocolate cookies for him.

I pull them out of the oven five minutes before I have to leave and collect the the kids from School. We all get home and I serve them up. There are smiles and cookie crumbs all-round.

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Recipe:

125g softened butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
220g caster sugar
1 egg
150g plain flour sifted
150g self raising flour sifted
1 cup chopped hazelnuts
200g dark chocolate chopped

If making double chocolate chunk replace cup of nuts with 200g chopped white or milk chocolate.

Heat oven to 180 degC
beat butter sugar and vanilla until light and creamy
Add egg and beat well
Add sifted flours , chopped nuts and chocolate, stir until combined
Roll heaped tablespoon of mixture into balls , place balls on baking tray lined with non stick baking paper and flatten slightly.
Bake for 12 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned
Cool on trays.

So tell what your kids and partners like for afternoon tea?