On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place


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I haven’t abandoned the blog

It’s been a very busy, but enjoyable, couple of weeks. First we had a week in Melbourne, comprising two weekends. No baking!  But there was the Baked Lemon Chicken Pasta dish I made and wrote up. Always a bit tricky when cooking/entertaining in someone else’s home.

And then since we’ve been home, I’ve been busy with two birthday cakes. I promise I will write them up, but not tonight.

First is the Angry Birds birthday cake I made for a friend’s son’s 9th birthday.

Ready for a party

As you can imagine, this cake, well not the cake itself, took a fair amount of time to make. The Angry Birds characters were made over a couple of evenings.

And then Saturday after Jo and Riley collected the cake I got stuck into making Dad’s 70th birthday cake. He didn’t know I was going to make a cake. I just wanted to. Then the Christchurch family arrived today for an afternoon tea in his honour.

Happy Birthday

And this is what it looked like on the inside.  Dad loves raspberries, which are not in season at the moment in New Zealand. So it was frozen raspberries. The layers are Lemon Curd and Raspberry filling. I used my trusty Lemon Curd recipe, but I added one more egg yolk than the recipe called for. And I can tell you that it did alter the taste. It was so so so good.

A perfect slice of birthday cake

And to balance things out, I made up a quick batch of savour muffins. These are Parmesan, Pesto and Pinenut. Very tasty, nice and light, full of flavour. I’ll also write that recipe up too.

Little savoury morsels


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The search is over

I have in my hot little hand (bench) a Waffle Maker!

Cuisinart WAF-RA

This has been on my wish list since before Christmas.

My brother told me I didn’t need to spend a lot of money, just get one from K-Mart. That made me feel good. I didn’t have to spend a fortune to get decent waffles.  But do you think I could find one that I cared for? I admit I’ve not looked in K-Mart (or have I?) but I’ve looked in Farmers, Briscoes and online, a lot online.

Last week I read a post by Deb from Smitten Kitchen for a Waffle recipe and I was again feeling like I was missing out because I simply didn’t have a waffle maker.

I remember the brunch with Louise and Simon over New Years where we had waffles. Waffles always make me think of Louise and Simon. Simon in the kitchen whipping up the egg whites just before making the waffles, and his story about how he came upon their waffle maker, it was a real find.

But I didn’t have a waffle maker and I wanted to make those glorious waffles for myself when I wanted.

Then Monday saw a subscription email to The Home Essentials arrive in my inbox. Quite often I just delete the email without even looking at the details, but Monday I scanned the list and there it was. On special no less.

Waffle Iron

The book that came with the waffle iron has heaps of recipes. I’ve already eyed up a couple that I’m really keen to make. Lemon Blueberry, and Lemon Ginger (using fresh grated ginger) which Mr Fussy will hopefully be pleased with. The Lemon waffle recipe uses buttermilk and yoghurt. We wont mention the yoghurt, I’m sure he wont even notice.

There’s a recipe for Apple and Walnut I’m keen on too, but Mr Fussy wont have it since it’s got walnuts in it, and you add a bit of cinnamon to the maple syrup. But so many possibilities.

Loads of recipes

This week I made a layered cake which I took into work today, it used Strawberry Puree. I’ve got some puree left and was secretly hoping the waffle iron would turn up in time for this weekend. And then last weekend when I made the Double Chocolate Berry Layered Cake I ended up with some frozen (then thawed) berries left over. I’ve got everything sorted for waffles this Saturday. I can’t wait!

But I’ll be using Deb’s recipe first, and pestering Louise to see if Simon will share his recipe (hint hint Louise!).

Here’s a sneak peak of the cake I took for a shared lunch today at work. I’ll write it up over the weekend.

Strawberry Layered Cake2

Lastly, on a different but related matter, I’ve just been delivered a packet of dried egg white. So if I do get Simon’s recipe and it only needs egg whites I wont have to feel guilty about wasting the yolks. And one of the Account Managers at work mentioned New World in Wellington sold packs of raw egg whites, and he bought me a pack yesterday which I’ll get tomorrow.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream can now be made in abundance without scrambling for recipes to use up the yolks. It’s only a problem during winter when a custard based ice-cream really doesn’t have a place in our freezer.

I’ll be sure to let you know how each type of egg white works out for both the SMBC and Royal Icing for cookies. Though I do have some RI in both the fridge and the freezer so probably wont need to whip up any in the next few weeks.

Right, off to watch New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker.


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The highs and lows of baking with Yeast

The other weekend I made a Lemon Pullapart bread. It ended badly, but I’m not one to go down without a fight. I was determined to give it another go, and succeed. I did, I’ll post later.

In order to gain a better understanding of why the bread didn’t turn out as expected I set about understanding the different types of yeast available in our supermarkets.

By far the Edmonds brand is the most popular (so says I). There’s two varieties of it.

I have the red top yeast at home. I bake bread each weekend in the breadmaker, and that’s the type of yeast I use.

But there’s yellow top yeast too. More on that later.

First of all I decided to make sure the yeast had life in it still. Was it still “active”. It was a brand new jar, but it wouldn’t have been the first time a new jar, within it’s expiry date, ended up being a dud.

I found several websites describing how to tell if the yeast was still good (proofing).

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast
  • Still in the yeast
  • In 10 minutes the yeast should have risen to 1/2 cup.

So how did it go?

Excuse the photos, these were taken on my phone, and rushed a little. As per usual these brainwaves comes to me when I’m expected to be out the door on 10.5 minutes (no lie).

 

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This was already at 10 minutes, and not looking like I expected.

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At a pinch you could say it “passed”. The mound in the middle exceeded 1/2 cup. But it took more like 12 minutes.

I wasn’t totally convinced this was the best type of yeast to use for the recipe I had found. On a mission I headed to the supermarket and bought the yellow top yeast.

For a start it looked more like the yeast used in the recipe. The yeast was little balls. The red top yeast is more like flakes with a very fine powder. The yeast includes improvers for assisting bread machine bread.

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In less than 10 minutes the yeast looked like this. Even though all the yeast balls still looked like they were hanging out down the bottom of the measuring jug.

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It was definitely “doing” stuff.

 

IMG_3235

The yellow top yeast is on the left (with the round balls) and the red top yeast on the right (flakes/powder).

 

To complete my experiment I made my bread machine bread once using the yellow top yeast. It was a reluctant riser and the bread was more dense. I made the same recipe (as I have for the past 5+ years) with the red top yeast and it was spot on.

Then I made the crusty no knead bread with the yellow top yeast. Up until now I’ve made it with the same yeast (red) I’ve had on hand.

The bread was much better. It rose more, it wasn’t quite so “soupy” when it was ready to be turned out and shaped into a ball. And the texture of the bread was more light and airy.

So my conclusion: If you’re making bread for the bread machine, stick with the Edmonds Red top yeast. If you’re making bread for baking in the oven, use the Edmonds Yellow top yeast.

Here’s a picture of the Crusty No Knead Bread using the red top yeast.

image

And a picture of the same bread using the yellow top yeast.

IMG_3657

And to re-cap. The Lemon Pullapart loaf I made with the red top yeast had to be thrown, even though we tried to pretend it was edible. The same recipe using the yellow top yeast was near perfect. It did all the right things and baked up correctly (except the very centre of the middle of the loaf). Stay tuned for that post.