pear chocolate almond scones

 

 

scone + coffee = breakfast of championsscones, scones, scones

I really love scones. They’re quick, they’re easy, they’re versatile and they’re absolutely delicious.

Stephanie Alexander’s sister once told her that when she heard the sound of a visitor at the gate, she should be able to get a batch of scones in the oven by the time they were at the front door. I’m fairly sure I’ve mentioned that before, but I love it so much, I’m saying it again. I don’t think I’m at that stage yet, but I can definitely make you scones for breakfast when I get back from my morning run.

pair of pears

chocolate + almonds = delicious

Scones take next to no effort, especially if you’re using a food processor. I don’t tend to these days, as I’m living at a house that doesn’t have a dishwasher. When you’re faced with three extra dishes or one to clean, always choose one.

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salted butter caramels

Good morning, starshine! The earth says hello. Particularly this little corner of it, over here in PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA!

I’m just a little excited to be here, I don’t know if you can tell. It’s sunny, the mangoes are abundant and there are lots of awesome people around. Also, I got my nails done and they’re pretty. There’s a lot to be exited about. Continue reading

breakfast

I went home this past weekend to visit my family and ooh and aah over my sister’s wedding photos. I don’t always get home as often as I’d like to, despite the fact that my family only live a 2 1/2 hour drive away. Our lives get busy, work doesn’t always co operate and sometimes, there just isn’t the time.

However, I did get to drive home after work on Saturday, listening to the Joy the Baker podcast and finally wearing a light, summery dress – the weather is warming up, people! Despite my penchant for winter and all the fun it brings, there’s something undeniably uplifting about a warm, sunny day, light sandals and country air.

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father’s day breakfast buns

What do you love?

I love breakfast. I love coffee. I love family. I love eating, I love food.

I love sunsets, especially ones shared with friends. Especially ones from my own porch. (They’re beautiful!)

I love winter. I love socks. I love loving stuff, getting so uncontrollably, jump-up-and-down-in-your-chair LOVING stuff. Being so excited by something you literally cannot control yourself. I love uncontrollable laughter with friends.

I love reading. I love writing.

I love baking and cooking. I love sharing, especially something I’ve made, with other people. I love giving.

This week, I got uncontrollably excited about the Melbourne Writer’s Festival. I started reading a book I bought there (I currently have four books I’m juggling, five if you count the Bible. Not that you wouldn’t – it’s just that it’s always being read in some capacity:). I finished writing my essays and drank surprising amounts of coffee (surprising considering the amount of stress I put myself through with those essays). I watched several sunsets from my porch, one from my lecture hall and one in my rearview mirror. I celebrated socks by wearing two pairs at once at the start of spring, the end of winter but still a pretty good season.

I gotta say, I pretty much love all seasons. For different reasons.

This week, I heard about some things that other people love. What other people do in their everyday lives that expresses their love for something bigger than themselves. I gave a piece of myself in the form of a poem. I got a stir in my belly that warned me of getting stuck in a rut.

And I baked breakfast buns for my family for Father’s Day. I didn’t get to be at home for as long as I’d have liked to, but I was there for long enough to make and enjoy these immensely. I’m hoping the next time I try, they’ll rise a little better, though.

What do you love?

Lemon Raspberry Breakfast Buns

Adapted from Joy the Baker

 

So, my yeast wasn’t exactly alive. Not quite dead, but I couldn’t make it into the scrolls that the original recipe requested, so I rolled it out as best as I could and cut it into rounds and we ate it that way. It was still delicious, and I’ll put in instructions for both ways.

1 cup milk

2/3 cup sugar

1 pkt active dry yeast (1 1/2 tbsp)

1/2 cup (110g) butter, room temperature)

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp salt

4 1/4 cups plus 1/2 cup plain flour, plus more for sprinkling

For the filling:

1 heaping cup fresh raspberries (or frozen, not thawed, unless you’re making buns not scrolls) (I used a mixed berry mix because that’s what we had)

1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp cornflour

1/4 cup butter

 

Warm the milk to just under body temperature (in a saucepan or in the microwave). Pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir the sugar and yeast into the warm milk and leave it to froth if you like, but you should probably know if your yeast is alive. (HINT, HINT).

Add the butter, eggs, lemon zest, salt and 4 1/4 cups flour. Beat on low speed for a few minutes, then scrape down the bowl and mix again for a few seconds. Now you can use a dough hook, if you have one, and mix on medium speed for ten minutes, or take out the dough and knead it for the same amount of time. Use the 1/2 cup of flour, plus more if needed, to sprinkle on your kneading surface. It should be soft and slightly sticky.

Place in a large, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place either in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or in the refrigerator overnight.

If you left it in the refrigerator, take it out for half an hour while you do this next bit.

Grease a 9×13″ pan or line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside.

Combine raspberries, 1/3 cup sugar, lemon zest and cornflour and set aside. If you’re making the scrolls, brown the butter in a saucepan and set aside.

Roll out the dough. If you’re making buns, preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius, and roll the dough out to about an inch or so thick and cut out 2″ rounds. Place on the baking trays and bake about 20 minutes. Serve with the butter and raspberry mix scattered over.

If you’re making scrolls, roll it out to about a centimetre. Brush with the browned butter and scatter the raspberry mix all over. Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar over and carefully roll the dough and filling lengthways into a log.

Slice it into inch thick rounds and nestle into the baking dish. Cover with a tea towel and let rise another hour in a warm place.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius and bake 20-25 minutes, until the filling is bubbling at the edges and the tops are golden brown. Let cool about half an hour and then gobble them down with your family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

blondies

 

Blondies are amazing. Blondies are like brownies without the chocolate mixed in. Blondies can be any flavour or combination you like. Blondies are very popular.

They are so great to share, because blondies are a one bowl recipe, so easy it’s not even funny, and when you put mnms in there like I did, they’re colourful and a bit crazy while still being a neighbourhood staple type treat. Like camp – colourful and a bit crazy but familiar and comforting at the same time.

See? One bowl, only a few dishes.

Not even that many ingredients – but you can add as many extras as you like.

Like MnMs.

Make them. Do. At camp this week I’m on meal crew which means I make lunches for all the leaders every day. I love it. I love working with food, it’s my thing. A clean kitchen makes me happy (props to the girls who did all the cleaning up today!) and baking helps me destress. Truth.

I cook for a lot of different reasons, and part of those is because, let’s be honest, people love it. And I love people. Put the two together and people like me because I bake for them. Sometimes I bake so people will like me. (ps – this works). Sometimes this is a bad thing. Sometimes I should just trust that I am beautiful enough in my own way not to manipulate people into liking me, because they will anyway, just for me.

For anyone out there who’s reading this and understands the concept of the enneagram and you’re a two, you may understand. If not, I just want to say that I find personality types useful in discerning how to be a better person and become closer to God.  It’s also helpful for understanding other people.

These are easy to make and share. Wrap them up and put them in a container, take them to work or uni or school or whatever. Hand them out to random people. Just Do It.

Blondies

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

So as you can see from the photos, I made two types. Both were from the same recipe, however I did a couple of things different the second time.

So the first time I used a packet of mnms – that’s 200g of mnms there – and mixed it in at the end, and that was all.

The second time, I felt that I needed more mixture, so I added an extra 65g of melted butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of cocoa, because you can never have enough chocolate. Then I put in half a cup of dark chocolate chips and a packet of mnms, 200g again. Yum!

125g butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch salt

1  cup flour

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line an 8″x8″x2″ baking tin with baking paper.

Melt the butter and mix it with the brown sugar, well. Beat in the egg and the vanilla. Sift in the flour and salt. Stir in any additional mix ins.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake about 20 minutes. Slice into squares and serve to your friends.

white chocolate macadamia cookies

My brother is staying with me for this week. My family, as I’m fairly sure I’ve mentioned before, lives in the country, and I barely live in the city of Melbourne, out in the outer outer suburbs, where there are trees and views and long drives to anywhere. J’s doing work experience reblocking houses this week. (He’s basically digging holes for a week. Underneath houses.)

Me and J fought growing up. I mean, I have a sister, so obviously we fought, especially since we’re only two years apart. But me and my brother fought more. When I was bigger, I’d win. When he got bigger… we stopped fighting. As much. Because he used to win All. The. Time.

Now he does karate and I used to do karate and so it’s reduced to play-wrestling and him tickling the shiz outta me. (I’m not ticklish! I just have sensitive skin….yeah…)

Macadamia white chocolate cookies used to be a major staple at our school canteen. And I used to be the one who made the snacks at our house. But J didn’t eat them all – mainly because I have two other brothers and a sister. Five kids and two adults can polish off a tray of biscuits faster than you can say ‘Those are for school!’

(Ps, I sometimes shorthand write recipes I find on the internet on leftover conference promotion cards. No biggie. That’s one there on the side, peeking in.)

Well. Except for the fact that Mum was very good at keeping snacks for snacks and leftovers for leftovers – if you had leftovers for lunch and they were meant for dinner that night, watch out!

In any case, make these cookies and they won’t last long in any house.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Adapted from Joy the Baker

Pps: It looks like I made two batches of cookies. Not so. For some reason, my camera started shooting blue pictures. Sorry!

125g butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

about 2 tbsp milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup plain flour (I used wholemeal spelt. They were delicious.)

1/2 tsp bi carb soda

pinch salt

130g chopped macadamia nuts

approximately 180g white chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Melt the butter in a saucepan. If you are patient, unlike me, melt it until it is browned. If not, don’t stress, they taste delicious anyway.

Pour the butter into a glass or ceramic bowl to help it cool straight down. Mix in sugar, then milk, egg and vanilla. Gently stir in flour and bi carb soda and salt, then fold in nuts and chocolate.

Plop approximate tablespoons of the mixture evenly around a baking tray, and bake for ten to fifteen minutes (mine took about eighteen to twenty.. It could have been my oven. Check them after ten.)

Share with your entire household. If that’s just you, don’t feel guilty.

engagement

Hey, so a LOT has been going on in the past week or so. I visited home, my car got in a bingle (it’s weird saying it like that, like Billie did it herself. It’s not true, guys. Someone crashed into my car. Reversed straight into it. From a driveway. How does that happen, exactly?) so I’ve been driving the Beast, otherwise known as the Fitzmobile, otherwise known as a Tarago. Back and forth. I’ve travelled a lot over the past few days.

But on the up side, the day I got home from home – back in Melbourne after spending a few days with the fam, who rings me but my darling favourite one and only sister – who’d just gotten engaged.

Woohoo!

It’s very exciting, and it seems even more so because her and her now-fiance have been together for seven years (seven!) and they’ve been talking about getting engaged slash married for a while now. In fact, he proposed on their seven year anniversary.

One, two, three: aaawwwww!

So, to celebrate, that night I made brownies again.

And covered them in alcohol, as that is the true Australian way to celebrate: by gettin’ our drink on.

And ice cream as well. Because you can’t really go past ice cream as a comfort food. And after driving for three hours and working for seven, comfort food was definitely in order. Especially since the kitchen was a mess when I got home.

There was due reason – our dishwasher decided it did’t like us, so we had dirty dishes and also the bottom rack of the dishwasher and the contents of the under-sink cupboard strewn around the room.

So major kudos to my housemates who fixed the dishwasher and cleaned the kitchen. Congratulations to the very happy couple.

And as you can see, these brownies are so good you may need to make them twice in two days, or else you may run out. And another tip – keep ’em in the freezer. Mmmm…

it’s nerd-tastic

Confession time again: I am a huge nerd. I’m not really the computer-game-playing type nerd, nor the maths nerd or the science-y nerd. I’m a book nerd. I adore reading and books, stationary, writing. I love to read. I used to stay up till all hours, reading. Once I started reading, then forgot the time and forgot to tell my parents good night. It was pretty late (for me – I don’t know how old I was, but young enough that ten thirty was pretty late) by the time I got up and said, I’m sorry, I forgot to say good-night.

Actually, I still stay up till all hours reading sometimes.

I also used to spend my lunchtimes at school reading in the library. Not for my entire school life, but I didn’t always have friends to hang out with, so I’d go to the library and read. And chat to the librarians.

I got to know my librarians really well.

I’m now out of school, at uni, doing well. I still love to read. I still like my librarians. And since I’m home this week, I went to visit school with my sister.

Yes. We visited our old high school. We are major nerds. Also, our dad works there (hi, dad!) so we’ve always been friendly with the teachers. We went around and visited people and marveled at the fact that there were many people we didn’t recognise.

There were a lot of them. Some were people who’d grown up, some were entirely new.

And I brought brownies to share.

Teachers are known sugar addicts (wouldn’t you be, if you had to deal with teenagers all day?) – we used to have chocolate fundraisers for various things, and we’d only have to ask Dad to bring a box to school. They’d be gone within the week. A few days, usually.

So I knew the brownies would be well-recieved. Plus, Dad likes showing off his daughters, especially since they bring treats, so he offers them around.

“Want a brownie? My daughter made them.”

These brownies are legendary. They’ve been around the web for a while now – it seems as though every man and his dog has made and written about them. For good reason.

The chocolate in them comes from cocoa, but don’t stop reading there – it’s really amazing. There’s a little over a cup and a half of cocoa in there. That’s a lot of chocolate. And mixed with the butter, sugar, a little flour and some eggs, you’ve got yourself a dense, fudgy, cakey brownie that pleases many palates.

Especially around report-writing time.

The Best Cocoa Brownies

From Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet via various sources around the web

I doubled this recipe because I had a slightly bigger pan and because I’d heard around the web that they were a little on the thin side. My doubled recipe made in a 9×13″ pan (I think…) made over sixty small brownies. They are the perfect size to freeze and eat later, and also the perfect size to share.

288 g butter (I’m sure 290 or 285 would also be fine)

482g raw sugar(2 1/2 cups)

164 g cocoa (1 3/4 cups)

pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 large eggs, cold

1 cup flour

(1 1/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces, optional)

Preheat oven to 170 degrees and put a rack in the bottom third of the oven. Line a baking tray with baking paper, leaving overhang so you can lift out the brownies once they’ve been cooked.

Put the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a heatproof bowl – pyrex or metal or glass – and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until the butter is melted. For me, I didn’t feel I cut the butter into small enough pieces, so for a little while there it didn’t look as though it would work. Fortunately, eventually, the butter melted and it looked grainy and sludgy and black and not smooth. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon, then beat the eggs in one at a time, vigorously. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated. Now it should be just right – smooth and silky.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake 25-30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in pan and then lift out, leave until cool and then cut into squares.

Eat. Or freeze and pretend to yourself that this makes you eat less.