lemon cake

I’m sorry it took me until now to post about this lemon cake! I even posted a teaser photo like a week ago. Two weeks ago. Wow, that was a while ago. And I made it before that, too. NaNo kinda stole my life last month. I’m very excited for the next month. There will be a lot of reading done. Maybe even some book reviews here, if you guys are interested?

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spicy hermit cookies

This is called procrastination, people. When you have at least one and a half thousand words to go until you hit the target for the day (25,005 words on the 15th – it’s hump day and it hurts) but you’ve hit writer’s block (hard. ouch) you write about… well… spicy hermit cookies.

It’s National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day. Don’t ask me where, I was just procrastinating, I mean getting lost in the beauty of, I mean, reading Sweetapolita’s blog when she linked me to this site where they have a directory listing of National Dessert Days. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s predominantly US based but they do have National Peach Melba Day (January 13) so there’s hope for us Aussies.

So what, exactly, is a spicy hermit cookie? Well, I searched the interwebs, the fountain of all knowledge, and found this particular recipe on the Joy of Baking. Apparently, they’re called hermit cookies because they keep well, so they’re good to squirrel away, like a hermit, for later.

And they’re spicy.

I didn’t have all the proper ingredients, so I improvised. But they are just as good as real ones, I promise. (She says, having never tried an actual spicy hermit cookie.) Improvisation is encouraged in baking.

Try them! They’re good, I promise. And they’re good for procrastination, too. They are really easy to make and it’s fairly simple to swap some of the ingredients around if you don’t have them on hand.

Spicy Hermit Cookies

Adapted from the Joy of Baking (not to be confused with Joy the Baker.)

Ok, so I didn’t have allspice, so I swapped in ginger and nutmeg. I didn’t have raisins, so I swapped in sultanas. I skipped the dates and used slivered almonds instead of pecans. They’re still good. And a perfect cookie jar cookie.

115g butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 tsp bi carb soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 cup raisins

1 cup pitted dates, chopped

1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, bi carb soda, salt and spices. Fold into butter mixture in two batches. Fold in fruit and nuts.

Drop tablespoons of mixture onto the baking trays and bake 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Let completely cool, then eat with cold milk or store in amazing cookie jar for future munchies.

get your hands dirty [bread]

I know! Three posts in three days! What is going on?!?! Don’t get used to it, I still have two essays to finish. Ok, one to finish, one to write. This is not going to be a regular thing.

Until after I hand my essays in and do my speeches.

Ok, so after I finished writing the homemade nutella post, I went into the already-dark kitchen (it’s only nine fifteen, people! I’m used to going to bed before you guys!) and did a little after dark baking.

Yes, it is a bit of a habit of mine to bake/cook late at night. I get restless, I get procrastination-y, I get the munchies. You understand.

I wanted to bake crusty bread to serve with dinner – I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned but at my house, we take it in turns to make dinner for everyone who happens to be home for dinner that night during the week. Every few weeks we have a night off because there’s six of us and only five weeknights (I can do maths!) and this week, I made white bean and spinach stew. (It was delicious, by the way. Yes, I will be posting. No, I’m not sure when.)

So I had to start tonight because I have uni tomorrow so I don’t have time to let the bread rise during the day, I have to let it rise in the refrigerator overnight (by the way, refrigerator, WHERE IS YOUR D?) Oh, hey, check out this awesome thigamabob:

I’m aware it’s a bowl with a lid. Guys, it’s a BOWLwith a LID. No need to get glad wrap out every time you want to let dough rise! Just pop the lid on! Magic.

It’s pretty easy to make crusty peasant style bread. Stir the flour, water, salt, yeast together. Let it rise. Bake it. Eat it. Easy.

After I put it in the fridge, because I am becoming increasingly unable to leave a dirty kitchen… I was going to say overnight but really, at all – I cleaned the kitchen and then put the dishwasher on (three cheers for dishwashers!) and then came and wrote this.

This actually reminds me of when I went to Surrender. I’m pretty sure I mentioned it… oh, yeah, that was a hectic few weeks back there. Surrender was amazing. While I was there, I did a bread workshop.

Now, it may seem a little weird to have a bread workshop at a Christian social justice gathering, but this was all about getting more in touch with God, with the earth, the things you eat, what sustains you. What brings us together. We come together to break bread, drink wine, share stories, give and receive love. Bread is powerful. Bread has been around almost since people have been around. Bread is so life-giving. Bread’s pretty dang awesome.

Get your hands dirty. Make some bread.

Artisan Bread

Adapted from girl versus dough

I quartered the recipe and I’ll give you the measurements I used next to the measurements you’ll need for the full four loaves. They’ll be pretty small if you want to do it that way but one was enough for seven people to have one slice, so it was perfect for our dinner.

3 cups (3/4 cup) lukewarm water (about body temperature)

1 1/2 tbsp (3/8 tsp… that was why it didn’t rise so much.. should be 3/8 TBSP…ah well) active dry yeast

1 1/2 (3/8) tbsp coarse salt

6 1/2 cups (1 4/5 cups) bread flour

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon until it’s all coming together. Dust flour over the top and lightly knead until you have a slightly sticky ball of dough. Grease a bowl (the same one you mixed it in if you want to save on dishes) dump the dough in, cover with glad wrap and let rise two hours (or overnight in the fridge).

If you made the full amount, split it into four separate balls. Dust each with flour again, and turn the dough around in your hands, tucking it under as you go, until it’s a smooth and elastic ball. Sprinkle polenta over a baking sheet and place the dough (evenly spread if you’re making more than one) on top, and let sit for about 40 minutes.

At about the 20 minute mark, preheat your oven to 230ºCelsius. Slash a sharp knife through the top of your loaves a few times, and place your baking tray on a top rack (when it’s done sitting:) and put a deep dish half full of hot water underneath it. Bake about half an hour.

When it’s done, it’ll be a lovely deep brown colour. Take it out of the oven and let it cool before slicing and serving. I didn’t let mine cool very much. I like hot-out-of-the-oven bread. Dip some in your homemade nutella.

procrastabaking

I started uni again a couple of weeks ago and just after I started, I discovered this youtube channel and stopped studying before I started.

That’s not entirely true. My general dispensation to stay inside and read, combined with my intense nerdiness which means I geek out over textbooks (textbooks. Not even awesome soon to be published by favourite author who’s going to sign all the first printing of his new book books but textbooks. NERD ALERT) combined with the terrible weather combined with OH MY GOODNESS ALL MY CLASSMATES ARE SMART I NEED TO PROVE MYSELF ness means I still study. But still, I procrastinate. Not only by watching youtube videos but also by baking.

Unfortunately, I seem to be much more able to convince myself not to bake than not to watch youtube (here’s the probable reason why) but fortunately, when I do bake, I make some pretty awesome things.

Like these rolls.

They’re adapted from the most popular recipe on Joy the Baker, Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread, but I made the dough into rolls because I don’t own a loaf pan. Also because I knew that cream cheese glaze would work on cinnamon rolls. Because I still had some left over from when I made carrot pineapple cupcakes.

These were amazing. They are best eaten straight out of the oven, with or without the cream cheese glaze on top (alternatively, for a more complementary cream cheese glaze you can blend the cream cheese with icing sugar and milk until it’s silky smooth and drapes well over the buns.)

This is the song I was listening to when I made the buns:

I freaking love this song!!

And the one I listened to as I ate them:

Clearly I still have some issues to do with procrastination (and perhaps vlogbrothers…) but I have to say, it’s true that when I have to do something, like for uni, I procrastinate, whereas when I do it just for fun, it tends to happen a lot faster. And so I just have to pretend I’m not going to uni and not getting anything for this assessment that’s due in two days, and it’ll happen really quickly! Yay!

It’s been 21 days since the project started and there are some updates, but I don’t want to post twice in one day so you’ll have to wait until an as yet undetermined date. DFTBA.

UPDATE: I wrote this the day the first project incarnation was supposed to “end” but I’m posting it now. Please don’t hate me. The project is failing miserably but I’ll write more later.

Cinnamon Buns

Adapted from Joy the Baker

2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons plain flour

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1/2 tsp salt

200g unsalted butter

1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup water

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FILLING:

1 cup (approximately) sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

 

Whisk together 2 cups of the flour, yeast and salt and set aside.

Whisk together the eggs and set them aside.

Melt the butter with the milk in a saucepan. Let it cool slightly and add the water. Cool so it doesn’t kill the yeast (about room temperature is fine).

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the milk mixture. Mix it together, then add the eggs and mix them in. Mix until it’s all incorporated, then add 3/4 cup flour and mix until that’s incorporated.

Place the dough in a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.

*At this stage, you can refrigerate it until morning.

Deflate the dough (if you’re taking it from the fridge, just leave it out for about half an hour first) and knead in 2 tablespoons of flour. Let that sit for five minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Melt the butter. Butter a large baking dish. (Do this. I didn’t. Do.)

Now, roll out the dough until it’s about 50cmx30cm. Brush it with the melted butter, then scatter the dry filling ingredients all over it. Roll it up into a log and slice into thick rounds. Arrange these on the baking tray and let rise another half hour or so. You can preheat your oven now to 180 degrees C.

*Alternatively, at this point I refrigerated my buns overnight. I let them sit for half an hour in the morning while my oven was preheating, and then…

Bake the buns for about half an hour, until deep golden brown. Share with your housemates. I said share! I know it’s difficult. Do it.

 

 

 

rosewater lemon cookies

NERDFIGHTERS!

I was one of those people in school who didn’t have many friends. For some of the years I was at school the most prominent memory I have is reading in the library (or some other enclosed space if the library was closed) during lunchtimes.

Big time nerd, guys. But that’s ok. I survived school (barely) and am now fairly confident in my nerd-dom. Recently I discovered the Brotherhood 2.0 project (follow here) and started watching. Basically, John Green (author of Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns and co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson) and his brother Hank Green (creator of EcoGeek) decided to embark on 365 days of textless communication, and vlogged back  and forth every weekday for a year. Through that project they coined the term “Nerdfighter” and got me hooked. If I’d discovered this project in its duration, the year of 2007 (when I was in year 10) I feel like my entire school experience would have been different.

Now I feel like it’s partially my responsibility to spread awesome wherever I go, because, hey, I’m a nerdfighter. Definition here (among other info):

So, when I finished studying the other night, I rewarded myself with making these cookies. They don’t look like they’re meant to because I have a smaller tip than was suggested, but that’s ok because you can make words out of them! Like this:

And this:

It’s pretty cool. That there at the bottom is a blob of cookies that stuck together that my housemate decided looked like a person. Seeing as it was a certain person’s birthday, it worked.

Don’t forget to be awesome.

Rosewater, Lemon and Polenta Alphabet Cookies

So originally these were Orange Polenta Crescents, because instead of rosewater you use orange flower water and instead of lemon zest you use orange zest. And you pipe them into crescents using a 3/4″ star tip. I didn’t have orange flower water, oranges or a 3/4″ star tip, so I improvised. They’re still really good. They’re pretty addictive, actually.

 

125g (1/2 cup) butter

80g (1/3 cup) caster sugar

1 teaspoon rosewater (or orange flower water)

finely grated zest from one lemon (or orange – probably could have used more)

2 eggs

165g (1 1/3 cups) plain flour

80g (1/2 cup) polenta

 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Place butter, sugar, rosewater and zest into a food processor and process light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time while processing. Add flour and polenta and pulse until a smooth dough forms. This might not quite happen at first – stick with it.

Put the mix in a piping bag with a 2cm (3/4”) star tip and pipe 7cm crescents onto the trays. Alternatively, use a smaller tip (this will really work your wrists) and pipe alphabet letters or lines and curvy bits so you can form them later.

Bake about 15 minutes, until pale brown around the edges. Cool on trays and then on a wire rack. They’ll keep for about three days in an airtight container.

 

 

carrot and pineapple cupcakes

Guys, I have a rash on my hands. Granted, it’s not very red or large or even very itchy (at the moment – it could spring into crazyitchy annoyingness at any moment. Watch out!

I think it’s stress related, but that is of course only a theory. And to be honest, it’s actually just resurfacing from a couple of weeks ago. What was I doing then? Oh, yeah, being a head counselor at a kids’ day care camp. Fun times.

They actually were fun times, just also quite stressful. Thankfully, I have this baking thing to destress me. Thank you God for flour, sugar, butter and ovens.

Also eggs.

So I actually made these before the birthday cake that is yet to appear on this blog (soon, people, soon. I promise.) and they didn’t quite turn out as expected. They were quite small, and I made a cream cheese lime glaze instead of the icing I was after (I may have figured that that would have happened if it weren’t for the fact that I had quite a few other things on my mind, namely university starting in three days and also work and also car trouble. Not fun.

But hey, they tasted good.

Until they turned mouldy. Not cool! Keep these in the refrigerator, and eat them quick. Share them with your housemates, your uni mates, your family, your friends. They are really nice. Especially coming from a sun-dappled kitchen.

Carrot and Pineapple Cupcakes

Ok, so related to the fact that these went mouldy in less than a week kept in an airtight container in winter at room temperature, I would suggest that a) keep them in the fridge and b) squeeze the carrots after you grate them to get the juices out. Also c) really strain that pineapple out.

Onwards.

1/2 cup (125ml) vegetable oil

3 eggs, beaten lightly

1 1/2 cups (225g) self raising flour

3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 cups (440g) firmly packed grated carrot, squeezed of juices

3/4 cup drained crushed pineapple

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 degrees fan forced). Line a twelve hole standard muffin pan or eighteen cupcake moulds (approximately).

Mix together oil, eggs, flour, sugar and cinnamon. Stir in pineapple and carrot. Warning – this will not look pretty. Do it anyway.

Fill the cases about three quarters full – a little fuller if you like them spilling over more, these were a little flat.

Bake about twenty five minutes, longer if they’re bigger.

Cream Cheese Lime Glaze

25g softened cream cheese

juice of one lime

Beat the cheese with electric beaters until smooth. Add lime juice and beat until combined. Dip each cupcake in the glaze. Eat with others.

PS: Happy Birthday Harry Potter!

 

 

chocolate chip cookies, a remix

Although I really love David Leite’s recipe for The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies (and I have yet to fully follow the recipe, seeing as I haven’t had cake and bread flour on hand at the same time…) I can’t commit to using just one recipe every single time. There are so many different chocolate chip recipes out there and I want to try them all! They all sound so delicious. And let’s face it, who wants to pass up taste testing a million different chocolate chip cookie recipes? Tell me. Because I must meet them and swat them over the head. Seriously.

There’s not much else to say, really, except that chocolate chip cookies win over the hardest of hearts, and everybody loves them (everybody. I mean it. As if you didn’t know). I made them for camp and they were gone in record time. Even though they really didn’t look as pretty as I’d hoped they would. They kinda went really wonky with the chocolate chunks sticking up in places and going all oozy around the edges. Just goes to show how much people love chocolate chip cookies.

Well, without further ado, here is the recipe. I got it off honey and jam, this beautiful photography and food site written and taken by a twenty year old (man, the talent in the people my age!) which is just amazing. Hannah was doing her own chocolate chip cookie recipe testing and got this one from Alice who writes savoury sweet life. Incredible.

Chocolate chip cookies

Adapted from savoury sweet life via honey and jam

 

250g butter (I used unsalted and then added the salt. Alice and Hannah suggest salted.)

salt (if using unsalted butter)

1/2 cup white sugar

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

12 oz flour (Hannah asked very nicely to weigh it, so weigh it I did.)

3/4 tsp salt (more if it’s sea salt)

1 tsp bi carb soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 cups /16 oz/ 400g/ 2 blocks of chocolate, broken into chunks. You can use chips, but this way is better. Trust me.

Preheat oven to 185 degrees celsius. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Chop up the butter and add the salt. I think I added about 1/2 a teaspoon. Cream the butter. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract.

Sift the flour, salt, bi carb soda and baking powder together. Fold the dry ingredients gently into the wet mix, in two or three batches. Fold in the chocolate chunks. If you need to, use your hands to get the chocolate chunks distributed evenly throughout.

Roll into tablespoon sized balls and space out on baking tray – these babies spread, so about two inches between each is probably minimum. Bake about 12-15 minutes.  Let cool on tray for about 5 minutes, then remove and cool on rack.

peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Isn’t it amazing when you make something and it just turns out to be someone’s very favourite thing? That happened to me this week.

Not hard to do, I suppose, when you’re making peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. These are amazing. No, really. Peanut butter combined with chocolate chips combined with cookie dough. I know. Who would have guessed?

The line up is fairly impressive. I keep thinking, when I take photos of all my ingredients together, that it’s kinda like a class photo. Back from when there still were class photos and not just rows of head shots in the yearbook. You had to make sure you lined up in order of height, stood tall, straight backed, no pushing. Hands together neatly in the front row. Ties tied neatly, top buttons done up.

White sugar wasn’t here for the photo (wagging school again, whatever will we do with you?) and dark chocolate chips weren’t either – he’s an exchange student from Ethiopia or Sudan, I can’t remember, but I just get lost in the beautiful colour of his skin. Oh, love. Absolutely gorgeous.

Lurpak Butter, the Danish transfer, in the front because he’s the teacher’s pet. It doesn’t matter, though, because he’s beautiful and charms all the girls with his accent and high milk fat content. Mmmm, butter.

The eggs are a little pushy, but they can’t help it. It’s just the way they were raised – free range, used to having their own way.

I’ve always thought, once you know what you’re doing when you’re baking, if you have just a list of ingredients and their quantities, you pretty much know what to do with them. Cream the butter and sugar, add the egg and vanilla, sift the dry ingredients together and fold them in. Fold through chocolate chips, form into balls, bake until brown and delicious. Try not to burn your hands when you eat them straight off the baking tray. Yum.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Joy the Baker. Yes, I’ve made a fair few of Joy’s recipes recently. Wanna know why? Just head on over to her blog and read it. I dare you to resist.

2 1/2 cups plain flour (I’m pretty sure I subbed in 1/2 cup of wholemeal spelt. Just putting it out there.)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch nutmeg

pinch cinnamon

225g butter

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or chunks (I used 1 1/2 packets of chocolate chips, two different types. It’s how I roll.)

 

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Sift the dry ingredients together (flour, bi carb soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon). Set aside.

Cream the butter and peanut butter; add the sugars and beat well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla essence.

Using a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then the chocolate chips. (At this point I refridgerated the dough overnight.)

Form tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls, then space on the prepared baking trays about an inch or so apart. Press the tines of a fork into each mound, then press them in perpendicular to the first time, so you get a pretty criss cross pattern. Bake about 12 minutes, rotating at the halfway point.