On to the plate

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


DoughEZ Mat

DoughEZMatWhen Dave (Mr Fussy’s good friend from High School) returned from his month-long ski trip to Denver, Colorado, he bought back a number of things I’d ordered from the States. One of those things was the very new to market DoughEZ mat.

Because I had a few cakes to make (still two to write a post for), this weekend was the first I had to focus of cookie things. I’ve made some Chocit roses and flowers, made some royal icing rose transfers, and finally this morning I made some cookie dough, three types in fact, so that I could test drive the DoughEZ mat.

Gingerbread_Chocolate SweetSugarBell_LemonShortbreadI made Sweetapolita’s Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookie, my preferred chocolate cookie recipe, Haniela’s Gingerbread cookies (which is an adaption from Sweetopia’s Gingerbread cookie recipe) and SweetSugarBelle’s Basic Sugar Cookie recipe.

I made some changes to Haniela’s recipe. I replaced the honey and molassas for Golden Syrup, and instead for Star Anise I used Allspice. To the chocolate cookies I added Raspberry emulsion (and wished I hadn’t). To the Basic Sugar Cookie recipe (BSCR) I added my usual lemon extract.

Both the Gingerbread and the Chocolate cookie recipes stated to chill the dough first. The BSCR doesn’t need to be chilled. However I always chill the dough, but after having rolled it out. Trying to roll out already chilled dough just hurts my wrists.

So none of the recipes had been chilled, but all of them rested a minimum of 30 minutes. Now it was time to see how the DoughEZ mat behaved with these 3 different recipes. All 3 of them were a softish dough. I could easily press my fingertips into the dough.

Sweetapolita_ChocolateI first cleaned the DoughEZ mat as described and placed the plastic guides under the mat. I used 1/3 of the dough and roughly shaped it into a square/rectangle and got to work. I folded the other half over the top and then rolled away. It was pretty quick work which I was very pleased with.

DoughEZ_ChocolateI carefully peeled back the top layer of the DoughEZ mat and was a bit disappointed that the dough had stuck a little to the surface. The instructions go on to say that you need to place a piece of waxed paper over the surface then flip the whole thing. Now to peel back the other side. Same deal. Bits of dough had stuck to the mat. So again I placed another piece of waxed paper down. It was very easy to just smooth over the surface to get those little peaks of dough back under control.

DoughEZ_GingerbreadNow for me I don’t mind the whole waxed thing because often I roll the dough and then freeze it. I like it to be between sheets of waxed paper. It means when it comes to use it, it’s good to go. I just use a pallet knife to loosen it from the waxed paper, cut my shapes, then I can easily remove the shapes and transfer to the baking tray.

DoughEZ_LemonShortbreadBut one of the big advantages of the DoughEZ mat is meant to be the saving on waxed paper. That you can just peel the mat away, use one piece of waxed paper (primarily to protect the mat) and cut the shapes. Many users of the DoughEZ mat have said they don’t worry about the waxed paper. They cut their shapes out directly on the mat without any damage or difficulty.

My experiment would be a bit one-sided unless I tried my usual method which is to roll the dough between two sheets of waxed paper.

WaxedPaper1What I became aware of, which I’ve never noticed, was the noise it makes rolling over waxed paper. It’s actually quite noisey. This is the first time I’ve had any strips to use as a guide. I usually use my Joseph Joseph rolling pin which has guides on the ends to ensure an even thickness of dough. I really like using the strips though. Often the rolling pin will slide rather than roll. It can really get a way on you and you find yourself almost laying over the bench. Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic, but it definitely heads in that direction.

WaxedPaper2The waxed paper behaved as it typically does, which is the bottom piece to crease. Which means you have to flip the dough over, pull the waxed paper out from the dough, lay it flat over the dough and roll again to try and ease the crease out from the dough. And now on thinking about it, it becomes a bit of a hassle to d fix it.

SSB_LemonShortbreadEven though the DoughEZ pulled a bit of the dough away on each side, the process itself was so much quicker and slicker that although not perfect using the dough recipes I used, I will definitely continue with the mat. Who knows, other recipes may perform better, but I like the chocolate and BSCR so I’m happy to use my little white scraper over the surface of the mat to gather up those little bits of dough. It’s not much of an inconvenience.

**** Update ****

Brenda from DoughEZ was kind enough to offer the following suggestions:

Play around with your dough and new Dough EZ system.
Slightly knead your dough on the mat before rolling out.  Place your dough within the mat and use mat cover to partially flatten. Now use your rolling pin and begin to roll out dough as directed stopping halfway thru, before you reach the desired thickness. Slowly peel back mat to see if sticking occurred. Please see photos.( I almost have the cover of the mat flush with itself, when you peel back cover.) Recover and continue to roll to desired thickness.
Depending on your recipe residual sticking may occur during the initial roll out. It should cease during re-rolling process. You should be able to re roll your dough, numerous times with out having issues that normally take place when you use excess flour in the process.
To remedy this, take scraps and run them across the mat and it will pick up these little pieces. If your recipe is extremely sticky or extensive sticking of dough to the mat occurs, then add a small dusting of flour to the mat at the beginning of the rolling process or as needed.
Hope this information helps. For more tips and techniques, check out our video demos or tutorials at www.dough-ez.com.
**** And on another note, I wanted to mention the fabulous communication with Brenda. When I first saw the mat I contacted Brenda about whether she shipped to New Zealand and she came back with a price. Then I made contact a few days later asking if there was any chance the mat could be sent to Dave and gave the date he was to leave Denver. Brenda very kindly got the mat sent sooner than the website suggested and then followed up after it had been despatched. That’s great customer service in my book. Then the email the other day asking how I was getting on, which coincided with this post. It’s great to see a business so interested in how their product is being received. ****


Mother’s Day – 2014

I think I’m mellowing. Mr Fussy may disagree. But I’m not all up in arms over the bits that didn’t go my way with the cake I made for Mother’s day.

We’ll get to that.

Clair Bowman's Cake Lace. Patchwork cutters for the cake board.

Clair Bowman’s Cake Lace. Patchwork cutters for the cake board.

More important, here in New Zealand it’s Mother’s Day. I had 3 mothers in the house, Mum, my sister and my Mother-in-law. And I didn’t forget about my younger sister too. I even make a special cookie just for her. She was in my mind even though she lives in Wellington and couldn’t be here for afternoon tea.

So happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums celebrating their special day today.

The "sweets" all laid out. Just waiting for those savoury items to make afternoon tea complete.

The “sweets” all laid out. Just waiting for those savoury items to make afternoon tea complete.

And for those of us not Mums, whether it be by choice or not, hope you’ve had a great day too!

Back to the cake. I made it the other week and froze it. I made it from a box mix (!) where I added sour cream to it. There’s a couple of reasons I chose to make the cake with a box mix. I had box mixes to use 😉 I wanted to freeze the cakes and I knew I would have the cake out for 3-4 days before it was going to be eaten. Those box mixes with sour cream added really last the distance, and they still taste really good.

All egg white Lemon Emulsion cake. Limoncello SMBC.

All egg white Lemon Emulsion cake. Limoncello SMBC.

This time I made the cake with all egg whites. This really does make a big difference in getting a very white cake. It was a lovely light cake and was still moist and flavoursome. And surprisingly, the syrup in the Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC) which had separated when I thawed it and re-whipped it fully incorporated and didn’t separate as the cake sat. I’ve thought the separation of the syrup is what causes my perfectly baked cakes to end up a bit soggy in the past. So now I’m a little confused, because that didn’t happen, yet it happened for my ANZAC cake, and this was the very same SMBC, the only difference is this was frozen AND I added Limoncello (which you couldn’t taste), and as I say the syrup separated as it thawed and I began to remix it. I’m confused.

I cut just a little too much of the cake lace to test spraying water. Now I had to try and disguise the gap.

I cut just a little too much of the cake lace to test spraying water. Now I had to try and disguise the gap.

I had made LMF fondant during the week. It was simple to make and easy and I thought all was going well until I rolled it out and lay it over the cake. It immediately tore at the edge. And this cake is not a double-barrel cake (twice the height of a normal cake) where that sort of thing is almost expected. So Friday night I had to get the trust Bakels fondant out, which is white, and knead a little of the LMF into it, to try and get a bit of a lavender colour, and use this. It really didn’t turn out very lavender in the light of day so I knew I would have to air brush the colour.

My original plan was to have the fondant lavender so I could just air brush pearl over it and the cake lace. In the end because the cake ended up 4” I used different cake lace than I had intended. The piece I wanted to use I ended up only having one strip off and I needed almost 2 strips to go around the cake. So I used the larger piece of cake lace. And believe it or not, these piece of cake lace are the very same I made when I blogged about Clair Bowman’s Cake Lace some 3 months ago! And it was still so supple.

I thought the cake lace might seem odd to eat but I wasn't even aware of it.

I thought the cake lace might seem odd to eat but I wasn’t even aware of it. And the air bubbles I’ve been unhappy with weren’t even something I noticed when looking at the cake.

Anyway, cake lace is applied to the cake by using a moistened brush and brushing the side of the cake. Well that was going to be problematic given the colour of the cake came from being airbrushed. So I sat there and wondered. First I cut a bit off one of the strips (as you’ll see, I shouldn’t have cut quite so much!) and used my spray bottle to see how it would hold up with I sprayed the cake lace instead of the cake. All looked good. It wasn’t dissolving. My problem was that I had a very supple piece of cake lace and with it wet how was I really going to line it up and press it against the cake? Back to the drawing board. What I ended up doing was spraying the cake. First I sprayed the cake face on and ended up wetting it too much. That too much wetness ended up as droplets on the cake. And you guessed it. I put my big fat fingers in it smudging it. Boo.

Instead I sprayed the cake side on and sprayed as I turned the cake (on a turn table). That seemed to work well enough. Now it was just the trick of still lining the cake lace up against the bottom of the cake and sort of folding it up onto the sides. It mostly went on without a hitch. I still had to wait and make sure that I hadn’t over-sprayed the cake and the cake lace was going to dissolve. Thankfully that didn’t happen, although a very small bit of it almost did.

Cookies I decorated this morning with ribbon roses and other embellishments. Bottom right is the special cookie I decorated for my sister who is in Wellington. This one had a bit more work with extra piping.

Cookies I decorated this morning with ribbon roses and other embellishments. Bottom right is the special cookie I decorated for my sister who is in Wellington. This one had a bit more work with extra piping.

Over ANZAC weekend I made a number of roses. I only had pink and white gumpaste with me and I wanted lavender roses. You’d have thought that I’d have added some blue or violet to it and just made it lavender. But no, not me. I wasn’t thinking that at the time. I’ve spent days dusting different roses trying to make pink lavender and never liking the end result. In a way I was relieved after putting the cake onto the cake board to realise that it needed nothing more, and in fact adding more would make it too busy. That old saying less is more rang true in this scenario. So although I had dusted all the roses I didn’t use any at all. Nor did I use any of the other little fondant/gumpaste buds I made (more for making Vintage styled cupcakes). And I almost didn’t use any of the ribbon roses I made, or the other little roses with added silver cachous, but I managed to work those into some cookies in the end.

Last weekend I had taken some cookies out of the freezer to decorate. What I didn’t consider is that as the cookies sat defrosting (still wrapped) they would stick to the wrapping. So when I eventually got around to unwrapping the cookies the royal icing had stuck and obviously pulled away as I removed the wrapping. Undeterred I carried on. Even if they couldn’t be salvaged it was still a good experience (and lesson!) to try something new. I made an Iris for Mum, bunch of Lavender for my MIL and Tulips for Natalie. I didn’t know what flower she might like but the Tulips were fairly simple in construction, even though I ended up making the main one look like a pineapple top.

Flower cookies I made for the 3 Mums in attendance.

Flower cookies I made for the 3 Mums in attendance.

Last night I decided that I’d pull out some more undecorated cookies and flood them using the new pastry bags that had arrived during the week (bought off eBay, and delivered free – takes an age but they eventually arrived). Using the bags is called tipless piping. There’s been a huge interest on certain Facebook pages and when the discussion first began I ordered the bags too, though I had to order from a different seller because I had to find someone who would ship to NZ. I had decided that if I didn’t like the feel, or the bags didn’t cut it, then I would still use them instead of making a capsule for the royal icing. And I can tell you that they are so much easier to prepare than gladwrap. So much calendar to dispose of, and yes, they do work. My lettering wasn’t quite as tubular as others say they get, but I think part of that is my royal icing was quite stiff so it wouldn’t settle as such, but I was trying to make sure that what I piped stayed put. I had tried last week with a normal piping tip and the black spread too much and I didn’t like the end result. I still have a bit to learn about the right consistency for piping letters.

Lastly I made the same chocolate cake I’ve made before using Rosie’s (of Sweetapolita) recipe, and I used a 500gm container for Maraschino cherries reserving 12 cheeries for the top and using the rest to make a cherry filling. Unfortunately I was so busy trying to get every last bit of cornflour/cherry juice mix from the jug that I forgot to stir what had already been poured into the pot and some of it congealed. It took a while to pick those bits out, and I didn’t get quite all of it.

Maraschino Cheeries are a favourite of Mums so I wanted to make something using them for Mother's Day.

Maraschino Cherries are a favourite of Mums so I wanted to make something using them for Mother’s Day.

I used the left over ganache (it was also left over from Jasmine and Sam’s engagement cake, used on the Mother’s Day cake, and then the remainder had a good squeeze of light corn syrup added to ensure it didn’t set hard) and whipped it up so that I could use it to pipe a dam to hold the cherry filling, and also pipe a swirl on top to secure the cherry.

I did serve some savoury items. I cheated and bought a focaccia bread that needed to be finished off in the oven, and made my usual cheesy puff mini muffins (which stuck to the tin – despite it being non-stick and being sprayed with oil).

So there we have it. Overall I think it all turned out very nicely. Lots learnt but I’m no longer up tight when it doesn’t turn out perfectly. My family knows that I put my heart and soul into what I do and sometimes no matter how much planning and time you have, you can still be thrown a few curve balls. Practice means I’ll be better equipped to deal with those. Then when I know better and I don’t end up rescuing something, then I can be peeved off 🙂

I broke the "u" and tried to patch it up. No one noticed until I pointed it out. Maybe I should keep my mouth shut in future :)

I broke the “u” and tried to patch it up. No one noticed until I pointed it out. Maybe I should keep my mouth shut in future 🙂

This coming week I have a trip (for work) to Melbourne and I’m making the most of it by sticking around the weekend. I’m looking forward to spending some time catching up with Cate and Brett, and their new pup Zed, and maybe I’ll come back with a Kopykake tucked under my arm (and a few pairs of winter shoes!). I guess what I’m saying is there’ll be no baking in the upcoming week to post next weekend. I’m leaving during the day Tuesday. My MIL is house sitting for her SIL which leaves Mr Fussy at home alone with the cats. He’s very much looking forward to having the house to himself and enjoying a few days being a bachelor. It’s been a very long time since he’s been able to play that role with my MIL now living with us. I’m not sure what will be cooked in the kitchen this coming week, but it wont be anything you’d want to see pictures of 😀



Valentine’s Day dessert – early

Chocolate Hearts

Chocolate Transfer sheets used to fancy up the decorations

I’ll be travelling from Hamilton on Valentine’s Day. We’re going out for dinner on Saturday, but I wanted to make something nice for Mr Fussy.

Mr Fussy and his “resolution” didn’t want cake. I found a compromise. There’s cake, but it’s not covered in fondant and dressed up prim and proper. Instead this is a dessert, which has cake, and is similar to the Devils Dream Cake, Mr Fussy’s dessert of choice from Strawberry Fare (where we’re dining on Saturday).

This is my Valentine’s Day special dessert, made and served yesterday for some of my favourite people, Mum, Yvonne and my MIL, and of course, my wonderful husband, the love of my life.

For my Valentine

Layered dessert, all but the chocolate sauce.

For a few weeks now I’ve wanted to make a really really chocolate cake. And when we’d decided on a dessert rather than a cake I went to Rosie’s blog, Sweetapolita, to re-read a few of her recipes where she’d made cake for her and her husband. What I decided on was the cake from this recipe and then I went searching for recipes for a dark and white chocolate mousse.

I grabbed the dark chocolate mousse from another of my favourite blogs, David Lebovitz and picked at random another blog for the white chocolate mousse. I really didn’t want to add gelatine to the mousse, but I wanted something a bit more robust than the thickening from whipped cream. This recipe used both egg yolks (to give a more custard type consistency) and cream, but it was the only recipe I found that didn’t use gelatine.

Dark Choc Mousse

Folding the whipped up egg yolks and sugar into the melted and cooled chocolate.

I made the cake on Friday and measured the different round cookie cutters to the inside of the food rings. I had 3 good rings and wanted to get 3 more. I only managed to buy one more food ring. Sadly the kitchen warehouse place I shop had run out. My two sets of round cookie cutters are like a half size between them. I’ve used the cutter before for the Black Forest Dessert I made and it was fine, but the cake seemed to have shrunk a bit after I cut the rings out. I only realised this after having measured out the acetate and cellotaping them to size of the inside of the food rings. When I put the first round of cake into the bottom the acetate was too wide so I had to resize them all. I also had to shimmy them up the cake base so that I could get a little more height for all the mousse.

I made both the dark chocolate and white chocolate mousse Saturday morning and set them into the fridge while I fluffed about with preparing the food rings.

I wanted to make 6 desserts with 3 layers of cake with mousse between the layers, and a thin spread of raspberry puree between the middle layer of cake.

Raspberry Layer

Raspberry puree beneath and above the middle cake layer.

I baked the cake in a 9 x 13” cake pan and only managed 15 cake layers. Eeek, I need 18. I took some of the bigger scraps so I could piece together a middle layer for what would be my dessert and thought I would cut a few layers in half. What I found as I was layering the dessert was the cake layer was too thick. The cake baked 2.5cm which I was thrilled about. In the end I used the 2.5cm thickness for the base, then cut circles of cake through the middle for the middle and top layer of the dessert. I had plenty of cake left.

Thankfully I had left over cake (but no left over raspberry puree) because one of those desserts toppled over. I guess I shimmied the acetate sleeve a little too high and the weight of the mousse and cake caused the dessert to lean and then it was all over. I quickly noticed two others going the same way. There was a shriek and yell for more hands. Mr Fussy came to my rescue and we used the 4 food rings I had to guard some of the desserts that threatened to lean.

White Chocolate Mousse

Rich white chocolate mousse.

We ate that toppled dessert after lunch, it was very rich.

I bumped up the coolness in the spare fridge and left those desserts to firm up over the next 6 hours.

Mr Fussy cooked a lovely leg of lamb on the rotisserie BBQ, add some new spuds, spring (?) carrots and a fresh green salad and we had a really lovely dinner.

Food rings

Layered and ready for the fridge after a protective layer of Gladwrap.

Mr Fussy doesn’t know how I managed to eat my dessert minus the raspberry since he thought it would be too rich without the tartness of the raspberry puree. Yvonne even mentioned how it was a good balance with the chocolate.

The last touch I added to the dessert were the chocolate transfer hearts. I made them on Friday. It was my first time using chocolate transfer sheets and it was a bit of a learning experience. The white chocolate took forever to set enough that I could press out the hearts using my small heart cookie cutter. And when I thought it was set and went to nudge a heart out of the way, it melted. My hands aren’t that hot, but the few minutes sitting on the bench and it was enough to distort it.

Chocolate Transfer Sheets

Easy to use. Compound “chocolate” would be best for white, or be prepared to wait a loooong time for it to set up.

The dark chocolate was fine, it set up nicely and it cut nicely. And on that basis I decided to use the dark chocolate as the “glue” to hold two hearts together on a tiny straw.

I also made the chocolate sauce Rosie used in her Double Chocolate Cake recipe. It’s the first time I’ve made a chocolate sauce that didn’t include water or cream. My recommendation is to take it off the heat (sitting over a pot of simmering water) several minutes before serving, when it’s too hot the sauce is thin. I wondered if I’d need to double the recipe, expecting to completely drown the dessert, but I was the only one that was heavy-handed with the sauce and there’s plenty of sauce left. As there is of each mousse. For this dessert you would get away with halving each mousse recipe.

Add sauce

Smothered in chocolate. Now we’re talking.

We have enough that I’ve made 6 more desserts. I’m going to need to diet after all this chocolate overload.

2014-02-09 14.00.25

More chocolate mousse desserts. Mixing it up with dark then white, and white then dark mousse. Using up all the left over shards of chocolate. Nothing is wasted.

I just want to add a note about the dark chocolate mousse, the rum flavour is very prominent. I would have liked to swap rum for Cointreau but that wouldn’t go with the raspberry puree. I think you can probably omit any alcohol. I also used Bushells Coffee & Chicory essence instead of brewed coffee. I don’t drink coffee (or tea) so I have no idea on what a rich or dark coffee is. I find using the coffee & chicory to be easier to get a handle on.

Like the Double Chocolate cake that called for ¼ cup, so did the mousse. For both recipes that was 40ml of the coffee & chicory essence with the balance made of water. Mr Fussy said the coffee was what he found more obvious than the rum.

Also with the cake, I didn’t have enough dark muscovado sugar, I had 130gm and made the balance up with brown sugar.

Those are the only changes I made and I have to say that cake is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted. I love the little chocolate chips through the batter. I can’t wait to make it again!

Yvonne & Mum

Blurry photo aside, great company and a rich dessert with Mr Fussy’s Moa Pale Ale front and centre.