Writer’s block is not fun.
I have plenty of other ways to procrastinate, I don’t have to blog.
Some options include:
Sow seeds (in life and in the ground).
Organise possibility of being a lead tenant for Youth For Christ next year.
Organise possibly extending my trip to Perth so I can hang out with Peace Tree. (and visit Georgia and Dave?)
Study for my quiz tomorrow.
Make more chocolate muffins for September Camp.
Upload my study questions for Sep Camp.
Go for a walk. Or a run. Or do some yoga. Or some other kind of physical exercise to not. stress. out. Because I have this essay I keep procrastinating from doing.
So yeah, I wrote up a complete running sheet for the last few days before camp. I have an illness. I have lists upon lists and I HAVEN’T STARTED MY ESSAY YET (Mum and Dad, just forget you read that, yeah?)
It’s ok, I planned time to write the essay. It’s gonna happen. I haven’t got a back up plan so it HAS to happen (hopefully with little to no effort on my part.)
Besides, I have apple pie to calm my nerves.
Technically, it’s apple and pear pie. I got fruit from the farmer’s market on the weekend because it’s almost not apple and pear season anymore and I wanted pie. I love pie.
And thanks to Pam’s Pie Tutorial courtesy of The Pioneer Woman (thank you, Ree!) I made a perfect pie. I’m not kidding. It tastes amazing, it was perfectly cooked, it looks incredible and it’s just as good cold as hot.
I know. I’ve already had more than I need.
Apple and Pear Pie (two crust)
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Pam says that pie making is not a recipe, it’s an approach. It’s about the technique. So while this is a recipe, it’s a very loose one. Play around. Enjoy. Make pie.
2 1/2 cups flour (plain or pastry)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
250g butter, cold, cut into chunks
1/4 cup ice water
about 6 cups (8 pieces of fruit) fruit, peeled and chopped (if needed)
1/2 cup (more if needed) sugar
2 tbsp cornflour or other thickener
juice of one lemon
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
pinch nutmeg (more than cloves)
Pulse 2 cups flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until it looks like breadcrumbs (alternatively, whisk together dry ingredients and use fingertips to rub in butter.) Pulse in 1/2 cup flour (just) and place in a bowl or on your counter. Sprinkle water over, knead in and form into two discs.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Celsius.
Stir together fruit, lemon juice, thickener and spices. Make sure all the fruit pieces are even and that the mixture coats each piece.
Now, to roll out the dough, take two pieces of parchment paper (or baking paper) and place a dough disk in between them. Roll out to fit your pie pan (this recipe makes enough for one two crust nine inch pie). Place one rolled out disc into the bottom of your pie dish and prick all over with a fork.
Place the fruit in the dish and dot with butter (about four or five tablespoons). Cover with the other half of the dough, rolled out. Crimp the edges however you like and slit the top a few times. (You may choose, as I did, to decorate the top with the scraps of dough left over.) Brush with a beaten egg or some heavy cream.
Bake at 250º for about half an hour, until nicely browned on top. Cover with foil to stop browning and lower heat to 200 degrees for anywhere from 1/2 hour to 40 minutes – apples will need longer, berries will need less.
Let rest for about ten to twenty minutes on the counter before you eat with heavy cream or ice cream.
My room is a mess. I desperately need to do some washing (I’m wearing dirty jeans, people. Not just worn, I know some people don’t wash their jeans, but these have work stains on them). I’m busy from pretty much today until the end of semester. I’m turning twenty tomorrow. Today. I don’t even know what day it is!
But I made ice cream. From scratch, for the first time, pretty much, without an ice cream machine. I. Made. Ice. Cream.
And it’s delicious.
Sometimes, you just have to do what you do. Don’t worry about the lack of sleep or the fact that you have to get up early to do it, the fact that it may be a little less than perfect due to the fact that our freezer isn’t as cold as it should be and I could’t baby it because I had to run out to go see the last (sob!) Harry Potter film. Sometimes you just have to go with a whim. Which happened last night, as I was trawling through the blogosphere and came upon this beauty.
Isn’t she gorgeous? My friend was over and we both decided we wanted it. And so we decided to make it this morning.
I had to run to the shops to get some of the ingredients, and living as I do in the hills, I couldn’t get plain malt powder – so I got chocolate malt powder instead. I don’t think this compromised on the taste AT ALL. In fact, although I’m planning on making it again with plain malt powder (it’s that good people. THAT. GOOD) I don’t think it needs it.
And, yes, I know it’s the depths of winter. I know it’s 12° outside. I understand that ice cream is usually considered a summer food. But guys, I read all these blogs from the US and even though I’m definitely a winter person, sometimes I get season envy. Because you over there, you get to pick fresh berries and make ice cream (even combine the two and make ice cream with fresh berries…) and wear shorts and go to the beach.
I’ll just sit here, rugged up next to the heater and eat my choc malt ice cream with mixed in maltesers. Yum.
Choc malt ice cream
Adapted from the brown eyed baker
1 cup half and half – in Australia, I think you could use Jersey milk or extra light cream (labelled “cooking cream”) – I used a mix of 100ml thickened cream and 150ml Jersey milk. Jersey milk is higher in protein and fat than regular milk, and contains A2 beta proteins, which are better for you.
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream – I used thickened and think it could probably have been heavier, so use real heavy cream.
2/3 cup malted milk powder – I used Ovaltine
teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
Heat the half and half/light cream/Jersey milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and it’s all steamy up in there.
Meanwhile, whisk the cream, malt powder and vanilla together in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over it. Set aside.
When the milk mix is ready, whisk the egg yolks in a smallish bowl. Add a small amount of the hot milk and sugar, and continue whisking as you add in small amounts of the milk mixture. Pour it back into the saucepan and stir continually over low heat for forever (not really!) until the custard is quite thick, coating the back of the wooden spoon. Pour it into the big bowl with the cream and malted milk powder, and whisk them together.
Put a whole lotta ice cubes in an even bigger bowl than the one you already have and fill it with water. Put your soon-(ish)-to-be ice cream bowl in there and stir/whisk until it’s cold. Refridgerate until really really cold. This will take a while. If you are impatient, it will seem like forever.
If you have an ice cream machine, at this point, haul it out and set it to good use. If not, you can follow these directions. Our freezer isn’t quite up to the task, as I mentioned, so it took quite a bit longer than the two to three hours David reckons it’ll take but trust me, this is worth the wait.
I say almost because I kinda forgot an important ingredient.
See, when you make muffins – even awesome muffins born from the cinnamon walnutty goodness of last post’s cookies – it’s kinda important to have some sort of ingredient that works together with the other ingredients and does some sort of scientific thing that not only helps it to taste awesome but makes it rise and makes the texture fluffy and lovely.
It’s a leavening agent. Yes, ladies and gents, I forgot the baking powder AND the baking soda. I am a very smart cookie.
But I’m a nuff nuff muff muffin.
They taste really really good, don’t get me wrong. They taste just as good as the cookies. (maybe even better. I don’t have a direct comparison. We ate all the cookies already.)
I get this feeling I’m missing something in my life. Flour one day, baking powder the next… I don’t know what’s going on. Baking still calms me down and makes me happy, but I think I need to … re-evaluate or something. Journal more. Be more. Just be.
This is why it’s a good thing that holidays are around the corner. This is also why I’m trying not to freak out about the fact that I’ve got two exams in the next two days, and I’ve been procrasti-baking and procrasti-cleaning and procrasti-tooling around on the internet for the past week. Or so.
It’s ok. I have almost-muffins. And hot chocolate. And Glee.
And I’ll be even more ok when I visit my Oma on Friday for her birthday.
It’s a pretty special occasion. She’s turning 21! No, that’s me next year. She’s… thirty! No, no one needs that freak out again. Or do they?
40? She is looking pretty good for her age.
Keep going… Ok, no, we’re actually going to stop there. Let’s just say that it’s rude to ask a lady her age, and my Oma is grand and wonderful and mature and sometimes giggles like a schoolgirl with me and my sister and our mum.
And her party is going to be so much fun! But I can’t think about it until after my exams.
Well, after these two anyway. I do have another (yep, I chose four subjects that have exams in my first year of university) but it’s not for a couple of weeks and I’m going to smash it out of the water. Just like I’ll smash these and the one I did today.
Ok, time to stop talking about [exams] and tell you about these muffins you absolutely have to make.
Just don’t forget the baking powder. And soda.
P.S. Please tell me about them! I was totally going to make a new batch but I’d run out of walnuts. And dates. And there weren’t any apples. And my nose is cold. And this blanket is warm.
125g butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup greek style yoghurt (I’m sure other plain yoghurt would work just as well)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup walnuts, chopped
about 3/4 cup dates, chopped
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup ground almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Beat the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla and scrape down the bowl, beating until fluffy again. Stir in the yoghurt and milk.
Using a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients (you can sift ‘em first if you want to … or not…) and the walnuts and dates. Scoop tablespoonfuls into patty cases lining muffin tins (I have a feeling these would be brilliant in the kind of huge, Muffin Break-esque texan muffin incarnation. Try it. I dare you.) Bake… in a 180 degree oven… well, mine took about twenty-five minutes but I don’t know how leaveners change the baking times. So, check them regularly. Then eat them.
I know what I’m having for breakfast.
I love love love to bake. So any occasion where I get to bake and not have massive amounts of leftovers (living, as I used to, pretty much by myself) is a happy occasion. Today, I had an incredible day where I heard many stories of everyday missionaries, people who live their lives for God just as they are. These people live in urban areas and just live life with people, reaching out to all different types of people, and making a worldwide community of hope. And I get to be part of that. Isn’t that awesome?
I brought cupcakes, in case you couldn’t tell by the title and/or first paragraph. One of the people I was spending the day with is allergic to gluten, so I made these amazing flourless chocolate cupcakes that I found on Smitten Kitchen, where Deb calls them chocolate soufflé cupcakes and tops them with mint white chocolate cream. I dislike the pairing of chocolate and mint (call me a heathen, call me a pagan, call me an idiot, it’s not going to change my mind. I’m sorry, I know it’s a classic, it just does nothing for me.) so I omitted the mint but I still got raves about them. They look awesome, too.
So. Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream. Made while listening to all released albums of The Cat Empire on shuffle.
For the cupcakes:
170g dark chocolate, broken up into pieces (I used a combination of 85% cocoa and 70% cocoa solids; I’m sure regular dark chocolate would be fine although I suspect milk could be overly sweet. Use your discretion.)
90g unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 tsp ground espresso coffee (apparently you could also use instant. I’m a snob so I don’t keep it in the house. It doesn’t add any coffee taste, just enhances the chocolateyness.)
3 eggs, separated
6tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line eighteen cupcake cups with paper pans – I managed twelve cupcakes and nine mini cupcakes, so I’m speculating as to the exact amount, because I was told there would be nine or twelve cupcakes. Maybe the Smitten Kitchen cupcakes are larger than these cupcakes. I wouldn’t make them any bigger, although the minis were well received.
Stir butter, chocolate and coffee in a small heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat until almost melted, then remove and whisk until fully melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
Beat yolks and 3tbsp of the sugar in a large bowl until thick and pale. Briefly beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla extract.
In a separate, clean, dry bowl, beat (with clean, dry beaters/whisk) egg whites until soft peaks form; add 3tbsp sugar and salt gradually and beat until glossy and stiffer. Fold into chocolate mix with a metal spoon in three batches.
Fill cupcake pans to about 3/4 full – if any fuller, they will overflow, I promise. 3/4 means they will puff up beautifully, almost like soufflés.Bake in preheated oven 15-20 mins. Mini cupcakes will take 10-15 mins. Keep an eye on them, though.
For the white chocolate cream:
60g white chocolate
200ml thickened cream
Heat cream in a small saucepan until simmering. Place white chocolate in a bowl and pour the hot cream over; stir constantly until chocolate is melted. Chill at least two hours in the fridge or overnight. Beat to soft peaks and scoop quenelles over cupcakes. Scatter with dark chocolate shards. Eat and enjoy.
I like to cook to music. Today I made scones, lemon curd and meringues, all from the Masterchef Cookbook (Volume One – from the first season. The first season in Australia, I should add. I couldn’t find a copy in Amazon OR on the official website, so it’s just a link to the website at the moment. Sorry!) I am a huge sweet tooth, in case you couldn’t tell – for instance, meringues, for you poor unfortunates who live under rocks, are basically sugar and egg white. I think that the egg whites are there to make the sugar stand up on it’s own two feet, because basically it’s just SUGAR, all the way. But that’s ok.
Back to the cooking to music – for my scone lemon curd meringue marathon (well… ) I listened to The Cat Empire’s So Many Nights – I feel that TCE (apart from being my favourite band in the world) make the best music for cooking to. I have yet to find someone who can best them for getting me upbeat when I’m down, as well. I am a big comfort eater, I have to admit, but cooking and music always cheer me up. In fact, for dinner I had one of my favourite (savoury) comfort foods: poached eggs. Thanks to Kickpleat over at Everybody Likes Sandwiches for the perfect way to poach eggs.
Happy January 2.
I used buttermilk instead of milk in this recipe because I had it on hand and also, I think it gives a great taste. However, I added more than the recipe called for because it was too dry. Just add as much as you feel is right without you having to overwork the dough – the death sentence for scones. Also, I like to cut my scones into triangles, because then you don’t have to re-roll the scraps.
Makes 6-8 largeish triangle scones
2 1/2 cups s.r. flour
30g butter, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
milk to brush over
jam and cream, to serve. or butter and jam. or lemon curd, below.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a large oven tray with baking paper. Sift the flour from a height into a bowl and rub the butter in. Make a well and add the buttermilk; cut in with a knife. Turn the bowl out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead together. Flatten into a large disc shape and cut with a sharp knife into six or eight triangles. Alternatively, you could cut circles out with a cookie cutter; use a rolling pin if you like, but I don’t like to make more dishes than I need to. Place onto the baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes. (The recipe suggested 12-15; I checked at twelve minutes and put them in for another eight. Use your discretion and your knowledge of your oven.) Serve with any or all of the above suggested accompaniments.
I would probably add more lemon juice than I did today; I didn’t have many options, our tree only just squeezed out three lemons as it was. However, I do suggest you use home-grown lemons. If you don’t have a tree yourself, ask around, they tend to hide in people’s backyards. Or side yards.
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 tbsp cornflour
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
juice of 3 lemons
125g butter, chopped
Whisk together eggs, yolks, sugar and cornflour until sugar has dissolved. Whisk in zest and juice then place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (half a lemon in the saucepan will mean that the water doesn’t leave any discolouration on your pan) without letting the bowl touch the water. Stir in one piece of butter at a time, waiting until it melts before adding the next piece; the curd is done when it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. I find it useful to use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl at intervals. It should look like a large, sunny egg yolk. Very large. Cool and spoon into a wide-mouthed jar, package up with a gingham square and a pretty label and give to your neighbour as a gift.
This was part of a larger recipe for Aussie Mess, based on Eton Mess – add cream and seasonal fruits and a coulis, and voila! Pudding. Or dessert, as we Aussies would say. I piped them into large nest-like shapes, to be piled with cream and berries; I’ve also seen tiny meringues served at a café with the hot drinks. Very cute.
6 egg whites
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 120°C and line two large baking trays with non-stick paper. Beat the egg whites with electric beaters until soft peaks form; add sugar gradually (very gradually – you don’t want grainy bits. Let the sugar dissolve.) and beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Pipe or spoon onto prepared trays and place in oven for five minutes. Reduce heat to 100°C and bake a further 45 minutes.