These are things I’m willing to get to the bottom of

23 Feb

Ten points to you if you got the movie reference.  You win the internets.  Let’s talk cake, because…why the fuck wouldn’t we?!

For an intelligent person who has eaten at least quadruple their fair share of cake, I am pretty confused about some things cake-related.

I keep seeing American recipes for “White Cake”, but I have always wondered how they differ from Yellow Cake, Pound Cake, etc  I read a comment online where someone said they couldn’t make a White Cake, so they made a Vanilla Cake – how different can they be?  I wondered what makes a White Cake white and a Yellow Cake yellow, (besides the quite obvious ‘colour’ thing) and why a Vanilla Cake isn’t either one of those, either.

So here goes.  According to the interwebs:

  • Yellow Cake:  Is yellow because it contains just the yolks of eggs, butter and wholemeal flour (i.e. slightly coloured).  It has more flavour on its own.
  • White Cake: Is white because it contains the whites of the eggs only, shortening and plain flour (i.e. white).  It is more bland, so tends to go better with more flavourful frosting/additions.
  • Vanilla Cake:  Is a combination of the two; uses the both the yolk and the whites of the eggs, butter and white flour (either self-raising or plain).  Pretty much equivalent to a Butter Cake, which I would say is the most “typical” kind of cake in Australia if you’re not making a sponge or chocolate cake.
  • Pound Cake:  It’s made with a pound each (or the same ratio, but in smaller quantities) of flour, butter, eggs and sugar.  Feels and tastes like a brick.  Basically equivalent to a Madeira Cake.
  • We all know what Sponge Cake is.

(Of course flavouring, sugar and milk etc would be added as necessary to the above ingredients, but I’m focussing on what contributes to the colour of the actual cake).

Ok, it’s not so hard so far, except I also see a lot of White Cake recipes that use butter instead of shortening (SPOILER ALERT: butter is yellow, so who the hell knows how that makes sense).  Australian butter is fairly yellow so I’m anticipating being fairly disappointed with the lack of whiteness, but we’ll see what happens.

I wanted to give it a crack because fluffy white cake with fluffy white frosting is basically my dream cake, so I’m on the search for a good recipe.  I’ve found this one on sweetapolita.com, and this one on iambaker.net and I am going to try one of them out (not yet sure which one).  I have a new frosting that I want to try, too.  Prepare to be underwhelmed.

Finger jellies

16 Feb

Finger Jellies

I have never made these before, but they look awesome and I came across a recipe in an old cookbook the other day, so thought I’d give it a go.

I used the jelly I had on hand – bubblegum and lime.  If I had gone out and bought some for this purpose, I  would probably have gotten diet/lite jelly and more complementary colours.

This recipe is for using four different colours/flavours of jelly – if you want to only use two, either use two packs of each colour, or halve the recipe below.

Ingredients:

  • 4 packets jelly (85g / 3 oz each)
  • 1 tin sweetened condensed milk (~385g I think)
  • 1.375L boiling water (5 & 1/2 cups)
  • 125ml cold water (1/2 cup)
  • 30g unflavoured gelatine
  • Dish that will hold at least 1.5L (6 cups) of liquid
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  • Place each packet of jelly in a separate bowl/jug (something that holds at least 500ml and with a pouring lip/spout is best) *or see Note
  • Add 4g of gelatine to each jelly and mix to combine
  • Pour 1 cup of boiling water over each jelly and stir until dissolved
  • Put the condensed milk into a bowl/jug (one that holds at least 1L (4 cups) is best) and mix with 1 cup boiling water
  • In another bowl, sprinkle 14g gelatine over 1/2 cup cold water, and let sit for a few minutes
  • Very lightly spray the dish with cooking spray, then wipe to remove most of the spray – you just want an extremely thin layer to stop the jelly sticking to the sides, but not so much that you taste oil when you’re eating the jellies
  • Pour 1/2 cup boiling water into the gelatine mixture and stir to combine
  • Add gelatine mixture to the condensed milk mixture and stir to combine
  • When the first jelly has cooled, pour it into the bottom of the dish and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes
  • When the first layer has set, pour one cup of the condensed milk mixture over top, and refrigerate for another 10-15 minutes
  • Repeat with the remaining layers (jelly #2, condensed milk, jelly #3, condensed milk, jelly #4) – if the jugs of jelly start to thicken, zap them in the microwave for 10 seconds and they will become more liquid and easy to pour
  • Leave to set overnight for best results

Finger Jellies

I don’t recommend using the jelly crystals with natural flavouring/colouring unless you want pale colours (like the green in the ones above).

They were easy to make, but time consuming because I used six 250ml (1 cup) ramekins and so I had to measure out the jelly evenly between each of the ramekins.  It would have been much easier just to dump each jelly into a single dish and not have to measure them out.

I ran some hot water over a knife and ran the back of the knife around the edges to dislodge them – they then easily turned out onto the plate.

Anyway, they tasted about how you’d expect… like jelly (what a surprise).  The kids really liked them, and they look pretty fancy for what they are.  I turned two out and the four of us shared them – by the end of it, I was pretty sick of jelly… then I looked in the fridge and remembered there are four more of these things to eat.  The kids will demolish them, but even as a person that likes jelly, I couldn’t eat too much of this stuff.

Verdict? Hmmm, I will probably only make these for kids’ parties, for the novelty value.  They don’t offer anything new or unusual in the taste department.  (Side note: they would also not be firm enough to have sitting out all day).

*Note: You don’t really need to have five jugs on hand – you will use one larger one for the condensed milk, and that will be in use pretty much the whole time.  For the other four colours, you can just make one jelly at a time (remember you will be putting a condensed milk layer on top of that first jelly, so you will have 20-30 minutes for the second jelly to cool down if you make it right after pouring out the first one).

Chocolate cake recipe

8 Feb

Generally I just use a basic buttercake recipe and throw in half a cup or so of cocoa, and voilà… chocolate!

But here is a ‘proper’ chocolate cake recipe.  It comes from the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book.

Ingredients:

  • 1 & 1/3 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa (powdered)
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 & 1/4 cups caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup water

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180ºC
  • Grease and flour, or line, the cake tin
  • Sift cocoa powder and flour into a bowl
  • Add rest of ingredients and stir to combine
  • Beat until mixture is smooth and has lightened in colour
  • Spread mixture in prepared tin
  • Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean
  • Turn onto wire rack to cool

Banana cake

1 Feb

Banana cake

We had some left over bananas this week, so I thought I’d make a cake to use them up.  This is a pretty basic recipe, and there’s no creaming the butter and sugar together, so it’s fairly quick, too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 & 2/3 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 50g butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 medium bananas, mashed

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 180ºC and line a tin with baking paper
  • Sift dry ingredients together
  • Mix together wet ingredients (excluding banana)
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir to combine
  • Add banana and stir to combine
  • Pour mixture into tin (about 1/2 to 2/3 full) and spread out evenly, if necessary
  • Bake for around 30-35 minutes, until cooked

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I put the cake in the freezer for about half an hour afterwards, so that it stayed moist.  It is super moist and is very nice with a little butter.  We’re keeping it in the fridge and just cutting a slice off here and there.  The kids love it.

The kids chose to use two shallow heart shaped tins for this, but I would probably use a loaf or deep round tin next time.

There was some mixture left over and I just added a handful of mixed, dried fruit and nuts to it and made muffins – I’ll be taking those in my lunch this week!

Meatloaf Cupcakes

18 Jan

Meatloaf cupcakes…seriously?  Until a week ago I didn’t even know these were a ‘thing’.

But of course being a cake guts, the aesthetics appealed to me even if the ingredients didn’t. I’ve never made meatloaf before – I always thought they were just a big log of dried out, chewy meat – sounds like absolute shit, and they don’t look much better.  Then I read something online where a person referred to meatloaf as “squishy” – that was even worse than imagining it being dry.

Anyway, the cupcake lover in me won out, and I thought I’d give them a bash.  Surprisingly, they tasted awesome, and the husband asked to have them again the next day (which we didn’t.  Ha.).  I called the kids in to dinner and they both said “Ohh, siiiiick”.

Shitty photo of Meatloaf Cupcakes

 

The texture was neither dry nor squishy – it was actually pretty good.  The mash piped beautifully.

Recipe as follows:

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 500g mince (I used pork)
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup barbeque sauce
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1/2 tbsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1/2 tbsp vegetable seasoning
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF
  • Lightly coat a 12 hole muffin tin with cooking spray (or butter, or oil)
  • Put the meat in a bowl and break it up with a fork
  • Lightly beat the eggs, and add to the meat
  • Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine
  • Fill muffin holes evenly, and press down gently
  • Bake for around 20 minutes or until cooked in centre
  • Pipe mashed potato on top

I didn’t have any breadcrumbs, so I just broke up one English muffin into smallish chunks and threw it in there – seemed to work ok.  Depending on what I had on hand, I would also include more/different grated/chopped veges (zucchini, sweet potato, pumpkin, capsicum, onion etc) and use different herbs.  If I’d had it, I would have added garlic, too.  I like some barbie sauce in there because I’m not a great fan of tomato sauce, really.  I got 12 x 70g (raw) loaves out of this.

For the potatoes, just make your normal mashed potatoes, ensuring they’re soft enough to be piped.  I used a star tip and a pastry bag, but you could use a ziplock bag if that’s all you have (or even just dollop the potato on there).  If you want to brown the potato or melt some cheese over top, whack it under the grill for a little while.

These are ace.  Make them now.

Confetti cupcakes

2 Jan

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I saw a Duncan Hines box of confetti cupcake mix on sale for two bucks so chucked it in the trolley when I did the shopping.

There wasn’t much mix and you didn’t get frosting or cupcake cases, which I thought was a bit slack.  I got 15 x 30g (raw, wet mix) cupcakes out of it.  If I’m buying packet mixes, I always go for full cakes rather than cupcakes, because you get more out of them for the same price, but I bought this one because it was so cheap – never again.

The frosting is the usual Solite-based mock cream.  The husband is not usually a fan of cakes in general, but he ate three of these because the frosting was so good.  (Sometimes he actually gets shit right).

Confetti cupcakes

 

 
Um, that’s pretty much it :-/

Christmas shortbread

24 Dec

I decided to make shortbread as Christmas gifts, but am pretty fussy about shortbread and was hesitant to try a random recipe from the interwebs.

I found one on taste.com.au that not too many people had whinged about, and gave it a whirl.

It was very easy to make (this was my first time making shortbread, too), and the end result was awesome – it had a light, buttery, very crumbly texture.  It was perfect and I won’t even bother trying any other recipes – this one’s a keeper.

image
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Before baking)

Excuse the shitty camera phone pics…

I cut them in various Christmassy shapes and dusted some with icing sugar, and let the kids drizzle some melted chocolate over others.  Packaged them up in cellophane cake pop bags, put homemade Christmas stickers on them and palmed them off to the relos as pressies.

image
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Finished product)

Being Christmas Eve, I was in too much of a rush to get photos of them all packaged up.  Just deal, ok?  (Good excuse to make them another day and get some decent pics, though).

Recipe from taste.com.au:

  • Melted butter, to grease
  • 225g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour
  • 120g (2/3 cup) McKenzie’s Rice Flour
  • 100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 225g cold butter, coarsely chopped
  • Plain flour, extra, to dust
  • Melted white chocolate, to decorate
  1. Preheat oven to 150°C.  Brush 2 large baking trays with melted butter to lightly grease.
  2. Combine the flour, rice flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Use your fingertips to rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
  3. Roll dough out until 1cm thick. Use a 5cm-diameter star-shaped pastry cutter to cut shapes from dough. Place on prepared trays. Bake in oven for 45 minutes, swapping trays halfway through cooking, or until shortbread starts to change colour. Cool on trays for 1 hour. Drizzle with chocolate to decorate.

(I only cooked them for about 20-25 minutes and it was long enough – do the recommended 45 minutes and they would be crap).