luisa

Top Ten Beginner Baking Tips

Learning to bake can be a daunting task! My top ten tips are designed to give you some clarity of what you need to consider to ensure your first foray into baking is a success

  1. Read the recipe from start to finish – it can be tempting to skim a recipe and just plunge in to realise that maybe this recipe only uses some of the eggs for one part and the others for another or the total sugar is split into two. There may also be equipment you need for certain stages so by reading all the way through you can have a mental picture of what is required for the whole process
  2. Get out all the ingredients first – unless you have done a specific shop for the recipe it can be tempting to assume you have all you need. I have been caught short on eggs or butter thinking I had enough only to find that sadly wasn’t the case! Having everything ready to go on your bench means you know you have enough and it is all at arms reach for the whole process
  3. Use accurate scales – digital scales are your best best for accuracy – ensure they don’t get dropped or bumped as this can cause inaccuracies. If you are not sure if you scales are accurate, measure something you know has a weight on it such as a block of butter to test. If the scales are out by more than a few grams time for new ones
  4. Ensure measuring utensils are dry – wet utensils from measuring wet ingredients can cause the dry ingredients to stick and not be measured accurately into the mix. Too many inaccuracies can lead to your recipe not working. Either measure the dry out first or ensure you wash and dry the cups or spoons after measuring the wet ingredients.
  5. Level off measuring cups properly – it can be tempting to think close enough is good enough – ensuring your cups or spoons are level will ensure the correct amount – guessing for too many ingredients can lead to your recipe not working. Scoop out your dry ingredients and top with spoon using a flat knife to level the top.
  6. Pre heat the oven – this can seem obvious but it is essential for success – a cold oven causing mixes to cook unevenly – a preheated oven ensures even baking temperature and correct times
  7. Ensure ingredients are in date – opened products don’t have a shelf life to their best before – ingredients such as flour, spices, and baking soda can all lose their flavour or raising ability if on the shelf too long. Date your open containers to ensure you know how long you have had the ingredients for.
  8. Use the right size pan for the right amount of mix – over filling cake tins can make a cake burnt on the outside and raw in the middle. Overfilled cupcake tins can cause overflow and messy products. Under filled tins will cook to quick and you will end up with a flat cake. Check the recipe to ensure your baking tins match the size given. Too small – see if you can cut down the recipe – too big perhaps double the recipe. Totally off – find a different recipe or purchase a tin in a more common size.
  9. Line tins and trays – I can this my insurance – it prevents your cakes and slices from sticking to the sides of the tray and tins and ensures you can cleanly and easily remove once cooled.
  10. Cook as soon as the mix is ready and use a timer – baking recipes do not like to sit on a bench for too long. Raising agents begin to activate and any air whipped it can start to release. When you mix is done, pop it in the pan and bake straight away. When it cooking put on your timer – it is easy to assume you will remember what time it went in but you would be suprised!

And most of all – have fun! Baking is an enjoyable way to cook and delicious results are just your next recipe away

Bar Snacks – Spiced Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp Coriander, ground
  • 2 tsp Rosemary
  • 1/4 cup Maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp All spice
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin, ground
  • 2 1/2 cups Nuts, Mixed
  • 2 tbsp Butter

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • If nuts are not already roasted, place on lined baking tray and spray with oil – bake for 5 minutes until golden. If already roasted, skip this step
  • While the nuts are roasting in the oven, prepare the spice mixture by adding butter, syrup and spice mix together in a heat proof bowl and microwaving for 45 sec to 1 min
  • Once the nuts are toasted, remove from the oven and coat with warm spice mixture – mix well to ensure even coating
  • Return the nuts to the oven for approx 10 more minutes or until golden, stirring once after 5 minutes
  • Remove tray from oven and cool on baking tray
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week

Overnight Oats – Peanut Butter and Banana

Ingredients

  • ½ cup rolled old fashioned oats
  • ½ cup milk of choice (cows, soy, nut milks)
  • ¼ cup yoghurt of choice (dairy or non dairy)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Method

  • Place all ingredients into a large glass container and mix until combined.
  • Cover the glass container with a lid or plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. Toppings can be added the night before or immediately before serving.
  • Uncover and enjoy from the glass container the next day. Thin with a little more milk or water, if desired.

Bar Snacks – Cheesy Zucchini Chips

Ingredients

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 teasp garlic powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated cheese blend – Parmesan and mozzarella

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper

Slice the zucchini into thin rounds

In a medium shallow dish, whisk together the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper

Process the breadcrumbs, cheeses and garlic powder lightly together

Dip each zucchini into the egg mix and then into the breadcrumb mix, pressing it on all sides of the zucchini

Arrange the zucchini on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer

Bake the zucchini chips for 20 to 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through, until they are golden brown and crispy.

Remove the zucchini chips from the oven and serve warm – tomato salsa would be a wonderful dip to accompany these!

Italian Crostoli

Ingredients

500g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cupicing sugar, plus extra for dusting

1 orange, rind grated 

1 lemon, rind grated

¼ cupunsalted butter, softened

1 tbsp grappa (Italian brandy)

3 eggs

vegetable oil for deep-frying

Method

Combine the flour, aking powder and vanilla

Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. (This can also be done in a food processor.)

Add the grappa and eggs and mix with your hands to form a dough. Transfer to a work surface and knead until smooth. Cover in plastic wrap and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into four sections. Roll the first through a pasta machine on the widest setting. Fold it in half and run it through the machine again.

Do this several times until smooth, then start rolling it out at narrower settings until you reach the last setting and have a very thin, long sheet. Lay the sheet on a floured surface while you roll out the other pieces of dough.Cut the sheets into strips 3–4 cm wide (a ravioli cutting wheel with a crimped edge gives a decorative look).

Cut a few small slits in the centre of each strip running lengthways.

Deep-fry small batches of crostoli in hot oil (180°C) until pale golden. Drain on paper towel. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Triple Layer Berry Cheesecake

Triple Layer Berry Cheesecake

Triple-layered berry cheesecake served on a plate

100g butter melted, plus extra for the tin

200g digestive biscuits

2 gelatine leaves

50g raspberries

50g caster sugar, plus 2 tbsp

350g strawberries

500g full-fat cream cheese

250ml double cream

few drops red or pink food colouring

1 tbsp vanilla bean paste

50g white chocolate melted

Butter and line the base and sides of a 20cm springform tin. Blitz the digestives in a food processor until you get fine crumbs, or bash in a sandwich bag with a rolling pin.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in the melted butter until it looks like damp sand.

Tip into the prepared tin, and smooth the mixture with the back of a spoon to make an even base, then chill.

Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water. Put the raspberries in a food processor or in a jug using a stick blender, and blitz to a smooth purée.

Sieve out the seeds. Warm the raspberry sauce in a small pan with 1 tbsp sugar until just starting to steam, then pour over 1 drained gelatine leaf in a bowl and stir to dissolve.

Blitz 3 (about 65g) of the strawberries in a food processor, and warm through with 1 tbsp sugar in the same way. Tip into a bowl and stir in the other drained gelatine leaf.

Whisk the soft cheese, cream and caster sugar until it just starts to thicken. Divide between three bowls (about 260g per bowl).

Fold the strawberry purée into one with a few drops of food colouring to make it light pink, the raspberry mix with the gelatine into another with more food colouring so it’s dark pink, and the vanilla bean paste into the third.

Spoon the raspberry filling over the biscuit base, smoothing the surface so it’s flat. Next, add the strawberry filling, gently smoothing over without disturbing the bottom layer, then repeat with the vanilla mixture, using a clean spoon to level the top. A spatula or knife might help with this to keep from dragging the below layers.

Chill for 4 hrs or overnight.

Run a knife around the sides of the cake tin between the cheesecake and the parchment, and loosen the base.

Transfer to a cake stand, and smooth the sides, using a palette knife, to neaten the layers. Mix the chocolate with a few drops of lemon extract, if using.

Pile the remaining strawberries, some sliced, some whole, on top, and drizzle over the chocolate to finish

Utensils required:

Sprinform tin

Bowls

Food processor or stick blender

Electric beater

Sieve

Spoon/Spatula

Baking paper

Recipe from BBC good food – https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/triple-layered-berry-cheesecake

Moroccan Filo Rolls with Fattoush Salad – Dinner sorted

Moroccan lamb filo 

Prep Time:  30 minutes    Cook Time:  40 minutes   

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 brown onion finely chopped

500g lamb mince

3 garlic cloves crushed

1 carrot grated

6 dates chopped

1 tbsp Moroccan spice mix

200g baby spinach leaves

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup plain yoghurt

1/8 cup bread crumbs

2 tbsp parsley chopped

2tbp mint chopped

1 box filo pastry

Method

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan over high heat
  2. Add onion to pan and cook until softened and golden, add garlic to pan and cook
  3. Add mince and brown
  4. Add spices and cook, add vegetables and cook until softened
  5. Stir through yoghurt, bread crumbs and herbs
  6. Place into a bowl and allow to cool
  7. Preheat oven to 180 degrees – line a baking tray with baking paper
  8. Place one sheet filo onto paper, brush with butter, Top with another sheet and repeat with five more sheets to create a stack
  9. Spoon mince mixture along the long side, roll up to enclose the mince mix
  10. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds
  11. Repeat with remaining sheets and mince mix until finished
  12. Cut each roll into four. Back for 20-25 minutes until golden

Lebanese Fattoush Salad

Ingredients

Salad

1 large pita bread cut into triangles

3 tablespoon olive oil

 salt to taste

Freshly cracked pepper to taste

1 large head of cos lettuce chopped

1 large vine-ripe tomato diced

1 cucumber quartered and chopped

1/2 a large green capsicum diced

5 radishes diced

2 green onions chopped

1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

Dressing

3 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoon lemon juice

2 garlic cloves pressed or grated

1 teaspoon sumac – substitute grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses substitute balsamic glaze

1/2 teaspoon mint fresh or dried

1/2 teaspoon salt

Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions

In a large pan, heat 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on medium heat. Add the pita bread and season with salt and freshly cracker pepper

Fry the pita for 5-7 minutes until the pieces are crispy and golden in colour. (Alternatively, bake the pita bread at 200° for 5-10 minutes.) Set the fried bread aside.

In a large bowl, add the salad dressing ingredients: olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, sumac, pomegranate molasses, mint, salt and pepper. Whisk together until the dressing is emulsified and well blended.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss.

Add the fried pita bread to the salad immediately before serving and gently toss again.

Serve chilled or at room temperature

AMERICAN STYLE APPLE PIE

A classic recipe for dessert delicousness

INGREDIENTS

  • 400 g butter (cold, divided)
  • 520 g all-purpose flour (divided)
  • 1 egg yolk ½ tsp salt
  • 170 g sugar
  •  60 ml water
  • 8 apples
  •  ½ lemon
  •  ½ tsp cinnamon
  •  ¼ tsp nutmeg
  •  100 g brown sugar
  •  1 egg white

Utensils: stand mixer, plastic wrap, oven, rolling pin, pie dish, pie weights, parchment paper, cutting board, knife, large bowl, cooking spoon, pastry brush

METHOD:     

360 g butter – 500 g flour – 1 egg yolk – ½ tsp salt – 120 g sugar – 60 ml water

Cut butter into large pieces and add to a stand mixer with most of flour, egg yolk, salt, and sugar.

Beat for approx. 2 – 3 min. until crumbly. Then, slowly add water, reserving a small amount for the final step, and continue to beat for another 1 – 2 min. until dough is smooth and uniform in consistency.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator. Allow to set for approx. 1 h. 40 min.

 Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Cut dough into two even rounds. Then, flour work surface, place dough on top, and roll out, one at a time, using a rolling pin until rounds are larger than your pie dish.

Flour both sides of dough and transfer to pie dish. Press evenly into all edges of dish and then remove excess dough. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of dish and fill with pie weights.

Place in preheated oven at 180°C/350°F and blind bake for approx. 10 min.

Peel, core, and quarter apples. Then, cut crosswise into medallion-sized pieces.

 In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together apple, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, sugar, and brown sugar.

Transfer apple slices to pie dish and spread out evenly. Cut remainder of butter into pieces and place on top of apples. Cover pie with rest of dough. Make a small hole in the middle, so air can escape.

Mix together egg white and water and brush on top. Return to oven and bake at 180°C/350°F for approx. 50 – 55 min. until golden brown. Enjoy

Easter Marshmallow Treats

Easter Marshmallow Treats

A new take on the easy and delicious rice bubble treat

  • 280 grams marshmallows
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 6 cups rice bubble cereal
  • 1 food colouring of choice
  • 1 sprinkles or decoration of choice
  1. Place butter and marshmallow into microwave bowl

  2. Heat for 1 minute intervals until melted

  3. Alternatively place in heavy based saucepan and melt over low heat

  4. Stir together with caution when melted – it will be hot!

  5. Add a few drops of food colouring as desired and stir

  6. Add cereal, mix well and quickly

  7. Line a slice tray with baking paper and press mix into tray evenly

  8. Refrigerate for min 30 mins to set

  9. Cut into shapes and decorate as desired

Pear and Almond Cake

Pear and Almond Cake

An easy and delicious pear cake that looks fancy but is super easy. If you don’t want to use tinned pears just sliced fresh ones or peel and poach your own. Enjoy!

  • 125 gram butter
  • 125 gram caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50 gram plain flour
  • 100 gram almond meal
  • 4 gram baking powder
  • 1 tinned sliced pears
  • 50 gram flaked almonds
  • 2 tablespoon icing sugar
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius

  2. Grease and line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan 

  3. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy with an electric beater or stand mixer

  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour and baking powder together, gently fold in the to the butter mix with the ground almond. Spoon into the pan noting it won’t fill very high

  5. Arrange the pear slices in an even pattern over the batter and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle flaked almonds on top, return to oven for 5-10 minutes until cake is cooked through and almonds are golden

  6. Allow to cool and remove from pan. Sprinkle with icing sugar and cut into generous slices to serve. Enjoy!