Soft Pretzels! (not so scary)

PretzelsPretzels are one of my all time favourite snacks. When a pretzel stand opened at my local shopping centre (Garden City, Booragoon for those of you playing along at home) back in 2005/6, I was so excited I think I had one a week for about 4 months. So soft, so salty, so covered in various toppings and with a myriad of dipping sauces.

S-J shares a similar love of the baked good and so we decided to get down to the business of pretzel making. This recipe was super forgiving to our extended periods between getting things done. I made the dough base at my house then pootled about getting ready for way longer than the suggested rising time, before jumping in the car and taking the bowl of expanded dough over to S-J’s house for rolling, boiling and baking. We managed to get all of that done (and baked up the dipping sauce) while her small son napped.

If that doesn’t tell you this is a recipe for you, I don’t know what will. Continue reading

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Spiced Chocolate and Pear Cupcakes (Or: Bake Off Episode 1)

Pear and Chocolate Cupcakes main

Hey! Hi! Hullo!

It is the last day of school holidays and I am finally typing up a post — the best laid holiday plans of teachers and bakers, my friends — but never fear because Katie and I (individually and collectively) have been busy in the kitchen making all sorts of stuff! Pretzels! Pickled Rhubarb! Quince Jelly! Carrot Cake! Many other types of cake!

The other major thing that has happened is that The Great Australian Bake Off has started airing and my face is on the television, what even?! You can see clips of the show on the website but I’ll link you to the most important part here i.e. the bit with Tiny Baby Arty being adorable.

I watched the show on Tuesday night with a bunch of my peeps and it was so lovely and I’ve only really heard positives so far. Hooray Bake Off! So that I don’t clog the New Fat Ladies twitter with all my #gabo shenanigans, you can find me at @ess_jay_bakes where I pretty much make hearteyes at the tv through the medium of twitter.

So, in the spirit of Hooray Bake Off!, here are the cupcakes that you got to see Dan and Kerry eat and compliment and me make silly faces about.

Continue reading

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Peanut Butter (or PB + J Thumbprint) Cookies

I was lucky enough to spend the evening with S-J’s small son recently and as his mothers were walking out the door, E mentioned that I sounded like I wanted to bake something but that sadly they were out of everything I’d need. I sort of waved her off and thought, I’ll be fine, no baking for me!

But then I sat there on the couch, cookie-less, and you know me, right? You can’t say I can’t bake, because, well, then I obviously have to.

So I scoured their pantry and fridge and came up with a cookie based on a few I love sort of mashed together a bit. I wanted a bit of variation as well so I split the dough in half and made two batches of these thick and nutty yums! If there is one thing I can say about S-J, it’s that the woman knows how to stock a house with good ingredients for inspiration.

milkandcookies

Peanut Butter (or PB+J Thumbprint) Cookies

2/3 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, pick your poison)
1/4 cup hazelnut spread (Nutella is fine)
1/4 – 1/2 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar

1 1/4 cups self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda (I will omit this next time, I don’t think it was necessary and I could almost taste it)
1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup berry jam (optional)
or
12 Hershey Kisses (or any chocolate you like)

Preheat oven to 170C

Make the dough
In a large bowl combine the nut mixtures, and beat well with the cream (start with 1/4 cup) and vanilla with a wooden spoon (or do this in an electric mixer using the paddle attachment). You should have a mixture the consistency of a soft frosting (if it’s too stiff, add the rest of the cream and beat again). Beat in the sugars next. Once all incorporated, mix in the flour until you have soft dough ball.

Form your cookies
Pinch of golfball sized chunks of dough and space them evenly on a lined cookie sheet/baking tray. For the standard cookie, dip a fork into some flour and gently press a criss-cross pattern while slightly flattening out the cookie. These do not spread much so make them about the size you want them to be.

For thumbprint cookies
Roll balls of dough and place evenly spaced on your lined cookie sheet. Using your thumb, create a dent in the top of the cookie. For PB+J cookies, fill this dent with jam. For chocolate cookies, bake first and then while hot, gently push a (unwrapped) Kiss into the dent, the heat from the cookie will melt the chocolate enough to secure it.

Bake cookies for 10 – 14 minutes depending on how soft/crunchy you like them. Rotate your trays if your oven is prone to uneven baking.

Fruit Tingle Birthday Cake (Or: how to make a birthday girl happy)

 

The second cake S-J whipped up recently was an orange Fruit Tingle cake. My absolute favourite lolly made into cake form? YES PLEASE! I helped a bit with the frosting and construction of this one, saying helpful things like MOAR TINGLES! and dancing around with excitement as it grew ever higher. This was my birthday cake, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never love a cake as much as I loved this one.

This cake was perfection in the exact form that it was originally blogged in by the creative and delicious mind of Raspberri Cupcakes and so we copied it fairly word for word, except of course that we are the New Fat Ladies and so therefore it needed MOAR LAYERS and also MOAR TINGLES IN MY MOUTH (and in the frosting). I even liked the way it was simply decorated, because, MOAR CANDY. Too make it even more delightful, the very clever Essie made me some Washi tape bunting and it was so adorable I nearly cried. We made 2.5 x the recipe below to get the giant cake.
Continue reading

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Review: Candied Bakery, Spotswood

This amazing bakery, located in the wild western suburbs of our fair city, has been on our minds for months here at New Fat Ladies HQ. We’d heard tales of crusty bread, creamy apple pie shakes and imaginative sweet pastry treats that tickled our taste buds.

We bundled ourselves into the car with empty bellies and drove the 40 minutes to Candied with only a little bit of bad directioning and an iphone that JUST WOULDN’T LOAD THE MAP to delay us. It was still worth the trip. Think about that for a second.

The bakery is located a stone’s throw from the Spotswood train station, very close to Scienceworks and would make for an excellent day trip of sweets and science!

photo (1)

Prices are a little on the high side, but for a boutique-style bakery that’s pretty much to be expected. I also didn’t care at all after I put the things in my mouth. SO TASTY.

We tried the following (for science):

- Crispy based Brownie
- Jam Donut
- Chocolate and Marshmallow Cookie
- Pain au Nutella (Nutella Croissant)
- Honey Joy Cheesecake
- Korean Chilli Paste Focaccia
- White Country Loaf
- Coffee
- Coffee Shake

All the sweet treats were met with happy faces and giddy licking of fingers, so I’d say we like them a lot. Look out for a New Fat Ladies rendition of the Honey Joy Cheesecake coming soon. The lamination on the Pain au Nutella had S-J and I making impressed faces at each other for about 5 minutes. We are baking losers you guys, no shame.

Both breads were excellent. I’m a chilli-wuss so none of the focaccia passed my lips, but it looked super tasty and seemed to disappear pretty fast. (SJ: IT WAS SO FREAKING GOOD!) The white loaf was super tasty. Crunchy but not impossible to chew crust, soft interior and was still fresh after 2 days – great for organic bakery bread!

SJ noted that her coffee was a little bitter on first sip, but mellowed as she went on. The coffee shake I had was pretty perfect, an excellent mix of flavours, not too thick and not left with 5 inches of undrinkable froth at the end, lovely and cold and delicious.

If I was to make a recommendation as to what you should get if you pass by Candied? Definitely the Coffee Shake and a chocolate and marshmallow cookie.

We plan to head back again and try out the pies and sausage rolls. Can’t wait!

Opening Hours
Wed-Sat: 7.30am – 4pm
Sun: 8am – 4pm

81a Hudsons Rd
Spotswood, Vic 3015

Ph: 03 9391 1335
Email: hello@candiedbakery.com.au

http://candiedbakery.com.au/

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A slightly more detailed Bake Off post (Or: HOLY SMOKES BAKE OFF!!!)

Anyone who has ever had to spend time in the same room as me for more than ten minutes ends up getting asked about whether or not they’ve watched The Great British Bake Off. Because I am obsessed. I force people to watch it — more often than not, I force them to watch approx 2 minutes and then they too become obsessed and so on — and then force them to discuss it in ridiculous amounts of detail and have them endure me talking about what I would have baked for that challenge and how I would audition for an Australian version in a heartbeat.

So, when one of my friends emailed me a link to an online application form for an Australian version, I may have made a very unladylike shriek and then began filling in the form.

I have never auditioned (or wanted to audition) for any other cooking show but, come on, it’s BAKE OFF! I JUST LOVE BAKE OFF SO MUCH! I wanted to be that person in the marquee with a cup of tea and ganache all over them! I could do that! I could be a bake off baker!

And then, somewhat surprisingly and two auditions later, I was.

IMG 0759Now, I’m not allowed to give away too much yet but I can answer the following questions which my students at school keep asking so I guess some other people might want them answered too.

  1. Who wins? No, I will not answer that question no matter what.
  2. Do you win? See above.
  3. When does it air? Still no official date! Soon! Just after Easter!
  4. What were the judges like? Honestly, lovely. Absolutely lovely! Dan is sweet and kind and generous and honest and knows many adjectives. Kerry is very generous, funny and very honest. I learnt so much from both of them and I still can’t quite believe that I got to spend time with them.
  5. What were the hosts like? Shane and Anna were absolute aces and very helpful and sweet. They really made us feel comfortable and at home. It would not have been as fun without them
  6. When is it filming? Already done, Year 8 Drama so finish your homework. (We filmed last year.)
  7. What were the other contestants like? Really fun and lovely. We are all still in touch and still share baking advice with each other.
  8. Can you make me a cake? Maybe at the end of term if you behave in class.

It was such an amazing experience and I am so glad that I hit submit on that application. I genuinely loved every second of it, even when it was long and frustrating and things weren’t going to plan!

I’m planning on doing some more Bake Off related blogging when the show gets going and I’ll hopefully be able to share some of the recipes as well. I also now have a personal baking-specific twitter, @ess_jay_bakes. Follow me there and see me flail about Bake Off in real time!

Bake Off. It is the best. Fact.

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