Tag Archives: baking

Chocolatey Zucchini Loaf (Or: And some other news.)

Photo  3I feel like this is part 7000 in my ongoing attempts to use all the zucchini.

I’ve had this Double Chocolate Zucchini Loaf from Tracey bookmarked for ages and when we brought in another bumper crop of zukes, it seemed like a good idea. Then Melbourne threw a spanner in the works by having such hot weather. Not only was it too hot to bake anyway, our air-con gets cranky if we have the oven on at the same time as it. Finally, Sunday morning was cool enough for me to bake before it heated up too much. I GOT TO THE GRATING! And then to the eating. Seriously, this was all that was left by the time we got take a photo.

Related: my lovely Lady Friend Esther made us a delicious Zucchini Slice for dinner last night (with yet more zucchini) and I thought I should bring it to your attention. Also, that’s her blog all about our little family and it makes for some excellent reading. (Here ends the cross-promotion.)
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Balsamic Cherry Pie

Over the festive season last year I was lucky enough to get to eat (too many) of the most delicious spiced cherries in red wine from  Bruny Island Cheese (club) and I have been chasing that taste ever since.

Cherries are one of the most versatile fruits, great fresh, stewed, jammed, savoury or sweet, and always delicious. For this pie I borrowed the amazing cherry pitter from S-J and took to gutting my cherries with maniacal glee (pro-tip: don’t wear a white shirt while you pit 1kg of cherries, it’s a blood bath). Full disclosure, I have not mastered the pitter and did have to issue a warning to my test-eaters to be on the lookout for stray pits – only 7 were found in the whole pie so that’s about a 95% success rate, I’m calling it a shaky win.

PIE!

Filling:
1 kg cherries
3 tbsps cornstarch
pinch of salt
1/2 cup white sugar (minus 2 tbsp to reserve for sprinkling)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup good quality balsamic vinegar (should be quite syrupy)
1/8 cup orange or lemon juice
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

Pie dough/pastry, enough for a double layer pie
I used Smitten Kitchen’s Pie Dough 101 but did the whole thing in the processor to save my bench top.

Egg Wash:
1 egg, lightly beaten
reserved white sugar

Preheat oven to 200C.

If you make your own dough, ensure that it is chilling in the fridge while you make the filling, if you’re using store bought frozen dough, make sure it’s defrosted in the fridge (needs to be pliable to line the dish).

Pick over your cherries and remove any stems and nasty fruit. Use your pitter (or a knife – be careful!) and remove all pits.

In a large bowl stir together all the pie ingredients except the butter. Mush the cherries a little as you go to release their juices. Enjoy your delightfully pink fingers and attack the cat with them. It’s good if you forget you have cherry fingers and wipe hair out of your face and discover the red smear hours later and give yourself a fright.

Roll out half of the chilled dough between two sheets of bake-paper to about 14-inch round (I never roll things perfectly round, but good luck to you). Ease it into your pie plate – remove one of the sheets of bake paper, flip the dough into the pan and use the edges of the paper to help ease the crust in. Press the base and corners to make sure there are no air bubbles. Trim the edges leaving an overhang of about 2 cm.

Pour the filling into the crust. I like a gooey pie – if you don’t you may like to hold back some of the liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Chop your butter into small cubes, scatter those on top of the filling.

Roll out the remaining dough the same way, cut into 2cm strips and layer half across the pie, leaving 2cm overhang. Take the remaining strips and weave to make the lattice. Fold the overhang under the bottom crust, pressing the edge to seal it, and crimp the edges together. Using a pastry brush, egg wash the pie crust, then sprinkle sugar over the top.

Bake the pie on the middle rack of the oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 175C. and bake the pie for another 20 – 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden (if it starts to brown on top too quickly, tent with tin foil and continue baking). Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

I think this pie is about 200% more delicious after a night in the refrigerator and is excellent served with whipped cream and/or vanilla bean ice cream. A lemon zest infused marscapone would also be pretty delish!

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Christmas Morning Muffins. (My way.)

Muffins

Christmas morning is not Christmas morning without these muffins now. I only started making them three years ago but they are now a family tradition. This year, I got up and made them with my boy. Well, being 11 months old, he just pootled around playing with his drawer of kitchen utensils (i.e. anything he can’t hurt himself with).

Christmas Morning Muffins

Makes 12 generous muffins

  • 1 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • freshly grated nutmeg (this is pretty much the only time I will be like this: If you don’t have fresh nutmeg, don’t bother. Freshly grated nutmeg is so radically different to the stuff in the jar that they shouldn’t be compared. Leave it out. Then go and get someone to buy you a microplane grater and some whole nutmegs. Rant over.)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Juice and zest of 2 oranges
  • 55g butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 75g craisins (or dried cherries. Or both. I’ve done both before.)
  • 75g chocolate chips
  • raw sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 200C.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and orange zest.

In a measuring jug, pour in the milk and add the orange juice until you have 2/3 cup of liquid. Add the melted butter and the egg and stir to combine.

Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined i.e. it will be lumpy and should be lumpy!

Fold in the dried fruit and chocolate and mix again very gently.

Divide into muffin tin and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake for 1o minutes.

Perfection.

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Sticky Caramel Scrolls (or: the best cinnamon scrolls you will ever stuff into your mouth)

S-J and I are both a little bit silly, and decided that after work on a Wednesday night is the PERFECT time to try out a multi-step, dough based, multiple rising recipe. Honestly, what could go wrong with that logic? But, it was an excellent idea after all! These delicious little scrolls are, if possible, actually more delicious the next day so I would encourage you to try this as a make-ahead for a breakfast or morning tea.

Sticky Caramel Scrolls

Adapted from Feast Magazine (online version found HERE)

Time: 3 hrs, including rising time
Yield: 20 scrolls

Dough
7g dried yeast
75g caster sugar (divided – take 1 tbsp out for the yeast activating part of the recipe)
125ml lukewarm milk
2 eggs
375g plain flour, plus extra, to dust
1 tsp salt
135g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, at room temperature (or, straight from the fridge and microwaved a little bit)

Saucy Business
125g unsalted butter
75g dark brown sugar
125ml whipping cream
60ml maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
150g roughly chopped walnuts, toasted

Squishy Buttery Filling Goodness
125g unsalted butter (very soft, for spreading)
165g (¾ cup firmly packed) dark brown sugar
3 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp salt

Making the dough

In the bowl of your stand mixer (if you have one, or a large bowl if not) gently combine the separate 1 tbsp caster sugar, yeast and lukewarm milk. Sit the bowl in a warm place for 5 minutes or so to activate (when it starts to bubble, you’re good to go!).

Whisk eggs lightly with a fork, then whisk into yeast mixture until smooth.

Fit the dough hook onto your mixer. In the same bowl, combine yeast mixture with the remaining sugar, flour and 1 tsp salt. Stick the bowl back on the mixer. Mix on low speed until a very soft, sticky dough forms. With the mixer running, add 125g chopped butter, one cube at a time, ensuring each piece is mixed through before adding the next. I needed to do a lot of stopping and scraping down the hook and bowl through this process.

Knead, using the mixer, on medium–high speed for 8 minutes (or your super strong arms), until dough is soft and silky. It is a VERY sticky dough to start off, I think I checked with S-J approximately 11 times whether or not we had added all the flour yet, but, it does all comes together after all that kneading and gets pretty sturdy.

Place dough in a lightly greased bowl. Melt remaining 10g butter and brush over the top of dough (or if you can’t find the brush because you’re in someone else’s kitchen like I was, rub the butter on with your fingers and then attack the cat with butter fingers). Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for 1½ hours or until the ball of dough doubles in size.

Making the sauce

Heat up a medium fry pan on over a low heat, add chopped walnuts, and shaking the pan fairly constantly, toast on all sides. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make caramel, stir butter, brown sugar, cream, maple syrup, vanilla and 1 tsp salt in a small saucepan over high heat until combined. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 – 10 mins, or until reduced and shiny. Pour two-thirds of the luscious sauce into your baking dish, tilting to coat bottom and sides, then sprinkle half of the toasted walnuts.

Leave the left over sauce in a warm place until the scrolls are baked (if it cools too much, reheat very gently over a low heat, just until runny enough to pour). Remaining walnuts are for the filling.

Making the filling

Clean the dough bowl and replace it in your mixer, with the whisk attachment fitted. Beat butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ½ tsp salt for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Stir through the remaining walnuts.

Assemble!

Punch down your gloriously risen dough! Turn out onto a lightly floured bench. Using a rolling pin dusted with flour, roll out to a 1/3 cm-thick rectangle, or using gentle stretches, pull it into a thin dough sheet over the floured surface. Spoon small amounts of the filling over the dough and using your nice warm fingers, begin spreading the filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1 cm border (Note: HA! Evenly! A filling with sharp and nubbly bits of nuts pushed over a thin and delicate dough? NOT SO EVEN.).

Do you have four hands? If not, grab a friend and start rolling, this part was the easiest it’s ever been for either of us with the benefit of four hands! Starting from the edge closest to yourself, begin to tightly roll up the filling covered dough like a Swiss roll, then trim edges and cut into 20 even-sized pieces. Place cut-side up on top of caramel in prepared baking dish. (Note: you may want to vary the size/number of your pieces depending on the size of your baking dish as well, these scrolls are on the small/medium side.)

Place a slightly damp tea towel over the pan and place in a lukewarm oven (like one you made dinner in, then turned off and remembered about 20 minutes later) to rise for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven while it preheats.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until buns are golden brown and the filling is bubbling. If the buns are browning too quickly, cover with foil. Cool for 5 minutes, then spoon over the leftover caramel sauce that is hopefully still warm. Eat!

These are excellent the next day as well. I imagine they would freeze quite well at either fully baked stage, or before the final rising – if freezing before rising, allow to defrost at room temperature and then bake, once risen, for 30 minutes.

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