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Brainchild of Halloween

I feel like I’ve been having the greatest kind of days. You too? Nice.

Each day deviated from the original plans. I met one of my closest friends the other day,with the intention of being all big-girl-like and having a fancy dinner followed by drinks at a swanky new joint. Only thing is we made it to the most cliche old-school dinner place in town (the kind that used to be cool when your mom was your age), cheap manicures, flea markets and a much-deserved foot massage. Oh, and those drinks? Swapped it with bubble tea instead.

And yesterday was meant to be productive, only thing is I spent it watching Harry Potter and baking cupcakes. But it was pretty awesome. And today, the beach was on the agenda, but after a late night of dancing, I think it’s going to be more Harry Potter and eating cupcakes. Probably a horror movie thrown in somewhere all in the spirit of Halloween.

My point is, no matter how you plan things, anticipate the scenarios, draw up a five-year route you’re going to take,it’s really rather amazing to go along with a bit of hope that someone’s got a plan you never thought of, but brings you along anyway. I used to get panicky every time I felt the pressure to come up with something, like I needed to conjure a well-thought of road map, with all my back up plans in place. Plus, the hazard that comes with the work I do requires I think of the worst case scenario in every scenario. But the greatest thing comes when you see that it’s okay to not have a plan, or have a plan different from what people expect you to have. I can deal with different.

I can deal with dancing to the music inside my head. I can deal with laughing at things people don’t find that funny. I can deal with eating ice cream for dinner. I can deal with picnics in the living room. And the best thing is, he can deal with me.

To get started, let’s not make pretty cupcakes. Let’s go all cool and CSI-like. Let’s go with brains.

Brain Cupcakes (Chocolate Mud Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream)

Chocolate Mud Cupcakes (adapted from The Crabapple Bakery Cookbook)

3 tbsp instant coffee granules
3/4 cup hot water
250g butter, unsalted
300g dark chocolate, chopped
4 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups GF flour blend
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder

1) Preheat oven to 160°C. Line three 12-hole cupcake tins with cupcake cases.

2) Dissolve coffee in hot water. Put the butter, chocolate and coffee into a metal bowl, set over a bain marie, and stir gently until butter and chocolate are thoroughly melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

3) In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and buttermilk until combined. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and cocoa together. Make a well in the centre and pour in the egg mixture and mix until well combined. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until homogenous.

4) Divide evenly between the 28 cupcake cases and bake for 25 to 28 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To Frost:

1) Fit a piping bag with a 6 or 8 mm round piping tip. Fill bag with the buttercream.

2) To get the design, pipe 2 straight lines down the centre of the cupcakefollowed by a repeated swirl on either sides. For the ‘blood’, the consistency of lightly warmed cherry/raspberry jam works well. Ensure the jam has NO seeds.

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Filed under Chocolate, Cupcakes, Events, Frostings, Inspired, Recipes

{Daddy’s Girl} Strawberry Birthday Cake

There are photos. The ones you wish no one took. The ones that make you wish you were young again. The ones that remind you of the good ol’ days. The ones that you had forgotten existed. And then the best sort; the ones that make you smile and if you looked hard enough, takes you back to the exact moment it happened. You know the ones. It’s probably the photos you take out to show anyone who wants a peek into your life. Doesn’t really matter if the dress and glasses you had on looked super dorky. Or that you’re the chubby 4 year old that the other kids poked fun at. The truth is, dad was the best dance partner who had a few groovy boogie moves and mom took a mighty good photo.

Dad woke up in good spirits today, feeling rather smug he made it to 55 and still livin’ it up like the hipster he is. Surely he can’t be that old since we spent the last hour syncing his iPhone full of songs; Above and Beyond, Maroon 5 and Bon Jovi. Plus, the fact that he recognised the importance of having a birthday cake (sort of hinted I should bake him one…) makes him SUPER RAD.

Happy birthday dad!

Birthday Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese

1.5 recipe x GF Genoise; bake in 3 x 6inch round tins. Cool completely.
Strawberry Coulis
Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
Creme Chantilly

Strawberry Coulis
250g frozen strawberries (frozen berries ensure consistency in flavour)
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp rose water OR 2 tsp Rose Syrup (I used Royal Rose NY)
1 tsp vanilla

1) Thaw berries in the microwave or overnight.
2) Process berries and its juices in the blender until smooth. Leave the seeds in.
3) Place the liquid berries into a small saucepan. Add in all other ingredients.
4) On medium heat, cook the sauce until it thickens. Allow to cool completely.

Strawberry Cream Cheese
250g cream cheese, room temperature
60g butter, room temperature
1.5 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/4 cup strawberry coulis

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth on LOW. Add in the icing sugar and beat well.
2) Slowly add in the strawberry coulis and beat well until combined on LOW. Use immediately or place in the fridge until ready to use.

Creme Chantilly
300ml whipping cream, very chilled
1/4 cup icing sugar

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the cream and icing sugar until medium peaks form. Set aside in the fridge until ready to use.

To Assemble
1) Mix 1/2 cup warm water with 1 tsp vanilla. This is your imbibing syrup.
2) Take 1 of the genoise layers and brush with imbibing syrup. This is your bottom later.
3) Top layer with 2 tbsp of strawberry coulis and spread evenly across the layer. Using a piping bag fitted with a 10mm round piping tip, pipe the strawberry cream cheese filling over the coulis in a circular motion. Top with second layer. Repeat with coulis and cream cheese.
4) Top with 3rd layer and brush top with imbibing syrup. Cover cake top and sides with the creme chantilly. Sprinkle rainbow happiness with wild abandonment.

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Filed under Cakes, Frostings, Fruit, Recipes, Uncategorized

{The Fudgier, The Better} Brookies

I must’ve missed out on a lot, especially since I haven’t written in awhile. Have you started taking sugar with your tea? Have the flowers in the garden, blossomed? When did you get your haircut? I like the new streaks in your hair. Glad you went with the maxi dress for that party.

Things have been shifting around here. Some of the dresses I hardly wear have made it into the other wardrobe (the one filled with everyone’s other things); the weather seems to be going bi-polar; relationships have been moving forward (in a great way), I’ve shifted from scaredy cat to daredevil rollercoaster rider. Yeah sure it took a whole lot of convincing together with an insane amount of screaming and cussing but I made it.

So what’s new with you? Some days I figure there’s nothing quite new with me and it’s actually rather comforting. Plus I figure I’m too lazy to think about what’s really ‘new’ since I go through things everyday and it’s not particularly newsworthy. Maybe one day we’ll run out of things to talk about.

When that happens, we can stick to topics about the weather, food and shopping. And you’ll tell me how your day’s been, we’ll spend the afternoon with tea (or coffee, you pick) and something freshly baked. I reckon people always prefer it that way, you know, homemade with love and all that warm fuzzy feelings sort of thing. And if we realllyy end up with nothing but dry words, these Brookies are so fudgey (with a hint of cookie; brookie = brownie + cookie) that it’s almost impossible to talk with them in your mouth.

(non)Conversation sorted. You’re welcome.

Brookies (adapted from Clinton St Bakery)

2 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup GF flour blend
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups couverture chocolate (55%)
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp butter

1) Preheat oven to 170°C, fan forced. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment (or Silpat).

2) In a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate, oil and butter in the microwave using 40 second bursts on med-high heat until melted. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

3) In another bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder together.

4) In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together. Slowly add in the melted chocolate and fold as you go. Fold in the flour mixture until no streaks of white are visible.

5) Place the batter on a shallow tray, such as a pie plate, and chill in the freezer for 6-8 minutes or until it firms up slightly.

6) Drop the batter in tablespoonfuls on the prepared baking tray and bake for 11 minutes or until the tops are crackly andslightly firm to touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from baking paper. Cookies will be fudgy and chewy. Milk isn’t mandatory but highly recommended for maximum pleasure.

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Plum Tray Bake with Lavender & White Chocolate Custard

Holiday plans work like coffee for me. Gives me that instant high, feeling all excited, imagining a whole new world of endless possibility.

Then there’s work.

Work isn’t bad. Work gives us the financial support for such day dreams of glorious sightseeing, late mornings and waking up in a place that allows you to be a new person; even if it’s just for a week. Work also makes the holidays so much better, it’s a bonus really! It’s like you paid the same amount as the dude next door, but because your job works you that much harder, you feel this much better. Score!

I like to make believe my work week gets lifted to loftier heights when I manage to squeeze in a bake session. Probably makes it even better when I feel utterly inspired and do something like whisk dried lavender flowers into my creme patisserie. And then it gets way groovier when I now have dessert sorted for the movie marathon with my man tomorrow.

What? It’s not Friday yet?!

Plum Tray Bake with Lavender & White Chocolate Custard

250g cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
160g unsalted butter, softened
120g brown sugar
1 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp GF flour blend
1/4 cup GF oat flour (or  sorghum or buckwheat flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
400g plums, re-seeded and sliced about 1cm thick
1/2 cup sliced almonds

1) Preheat oven to 175°C. Line a 18 x 28cm baking pan with greaseproof paper.

2) Add cream cheese, vanilla, caster sugar and 1 egg to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 2-3 minutes until smooth.

3) Place butter, brown sugar, flour and remaining 3 eggs in a clean bowl and beat for 2-3 minutes until creamy. Spread the flour mixture in the tray followed by half the cream cheese mixture, swirling gently to combine. Top with half the plums. Repeat the process with remaining flour mixture, cream cheese mixture and plums. Sprinkle the sliced almonds over the cake and bake until golden. About 50-60 minutes.

4) Remove the plum tray bake from the oven, allow to cool, dust with some icing sugar and serve warm with custard.

Lavender and White Chocolate Custard

1 cup milk
300ml thickened cream
4 egg yolks
2 tbsp cornflour
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp dried lavender flower buds
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g white chocolate, chopped

1) Heat milk and cream in a medium saucepan until almost boiling. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, sugar and egg yolks together int a bowl until lightened. Slowly pour the hot milk/cream into the egg yolk mixture, all the while whisking to ensure the yolks don’t screamble.

2) Return the mixture to the pot and cook over a medium heat, whisking constantly. Add in the vanilla and dried lavender flower buds. When mixture begins to bubble, remove from heat immediately, whisking vigorously. Fold in the white chocolate until it has all melted. Run the custard through a sieve to remove lumps and flower buds. Serve with tray bake.

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[Love Letter] Pancakes

Dear Pancakes,

I love it when you’re fluffy

I love it when your edges are slightly brown

I love the way butter melts over you

I love how maple syrup always complements you

I love pairing you with caramelized bananas

I love it when you’re dotted with blueberries

I love how you’re always a part of slow mornings, newspapers and dreamy skies

I love how I get get a whole stack of you all to myself

I love the million ways to eat you

Mostly, I love how you always start my day off right

It’s rather crazy to imagine how something as humble as a pancake has sparked countless conversations between me and the people around. There’s been times where we’ve been so disappointed with a certain spot’s pancakes that the whole group has decided to boycott the establishment. Then there has been the debate on which joint serves up a better pancake. And how do you even decide what makes a pancake better than another? Do box mixes count? Is it really a crime that the hotcakes from Maccas is up on my list of good pancakes? What the hell is a flapjack? Can we even include crepes in our pancake hunt?

Fluffy, lightly golden, unsalted butter, hint of vanilla, real maple syrup. Fulfill that; and I don’t really care where you got your pancakes from.

Yet, I haven’t met a gluten free pancake out there. Much less meet one that I like. And for the sake of my sanity, I decided to make my own. Lucky I had company to help consume some of the pancakes. This recipe makes…a lot of pancakes.

Clinton St Baking Company Cookbook Pancakes (adapted to gluten free)

2 cups GF flour blend
1/2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
3 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups whole milk
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
blueberries, chocolate chips, sliced bananas optional

1) Measure and sift all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl; flour, baking powder, sugar and salt

2) In another bowl, whisk together the yolks,milk, melted butter and vanilla, until combined. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients.

3) Whip egg whites in a bowl of a stand mixer until soft peaks form (soft in the middle). Carefully fold half the egg whites into the batter, before folding in the remaining whites. It should look like whitecaps in the ocean with foam on top.

4) Heat a griddle (I use a non-stick frying pan) until hot. Grease with unsalted butter (I used an oil spray). Drop 1/4 cup of pancake batter on the frying pan and cook until bubbles start to appear on the surface. If using, add the toppings to the pancakes now before flipping over.

5) When pancake is golden brown on both side, remove with a spatula. Repeat with remaining batter and filling.

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[You’re My Favourite] Carrot Cake

You know he’s a keeper when he sees a bakery and thinks of you.

or cake.

or unicorns.

But mostly, you know he’s a keeper when he always lets you have the first bite of dessert. It’s almost better than opening doors and pulling out chairs. And not noticing (or maybe he does, but decides to let you get away with it anyway) you always choose to start eating a cake from the sides because there’s always more frosting there.

Today’s one of those rare days I’m home alone. No one’s doing anything else while I bask in the fact that it’s only Saturday afternoon and already I feel productive. There isn’t anyone on the phone, no one doing the ironing. It’s just me, pigtails, Chrysanthemums in a vase, carrot cake in the oven the murmuring of the fan.

Wait, we were talking about boys. Actually, let’s narrow it down to one specific one. The one who knows movie lines better than I do, writes postcards and thank you notes and understands me even when I’m speaking faster than a train. He sounds better behaved than I do. I can never find my keys, always blast my music way too loud and write letters but never post them. Do you have any idea how many unposted letters I have found in my drawers and bags!? The good news is that so far all the letters to him have made it.

At least I bake. People tend to be more forgiving when you have something sweet to offer. It’s a good decoy. “Hi officer, was I speeding? Wait, here’s some carrot cake, it’s even got frosting!”[cue: innocent smile]

Let me know if it works.

Try it out with this cake recipe. If the line doesn’t work, it’s probably you, definitely not the cake. Or maybe he hates carrots.

Carrot Cake (adapted from Dean Brettschneider)

250g GF flour blend
10g baking soda
10g ground cinnamon
4 eggs
150g brown sugar
100g caster sugar
370ml canola oil (or vegetable oil)
5ml vanilla extract
200g carrots, shredded
135g crushed pineapple, well drained

1) Preheat oven to 150°C. Grease and line a 9-inch round baking tin with greaseproof paper.

2) In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk the eggs and sugars together until light in color and double in volume. Add in the oil and whisk to emulsify.

3) Whisk in the flour in 2 additions until there are no floury streaks. Remove bowl from mixer and using a spatula, fold in the carrots and pineapple until you get an even mixture. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 2-2.5 hours.

4) Remove from oven to cool and frost. Keep refrigerated.

Cream Cheese Frosting

115g cream cheese, softened
65g unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
200g icing sugar

1) Mix all together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add more icing sugar for a sweeter frosting or more zest/juice for a tarter one. Note that frosting will be more viscous with extra lemon juice.

Tadah- Now you can bake a Get Out of Jail Free card!

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Double Chocolate Cupcakes

POSITIVITY IS…

like a pretty girl; sooner or later it’s bound to attract something. And one of ’em will be good.

like a pair of high heels; it makes you look good no matter how you’re feeling

like getting your nails done; the waiting sucks but it’s worth it

like holding hot coffee on a cold day; may not be the exact thing you need, but at least it makes you feel better

like eating cupcakes; it lifts your spirits no matter the occasion.

I’ve been in this job hunting circus for awhile now. It’s tough, and I’m really not a patient person. That’s usually why I prefer baking mini cupcakes instead of their grown up cousins; it takes far less time. It’s also why I prefer dresses over a pants-suit combo. It’s also why I hate wearing rompers; it’s far too fiddly when I need the loo.

My point is… I hate waiting, especially when I feel that I don’t know what I’m waiting for. And let’s face it; it’s like everytime I hit the ‘send’ button, my resume gets sent into a dark abyss, of which I don’t even know if I’ll hear anything in return. At the very least, baking ensured I get some form of gratification. My waist disagrees but I’m in no mood to argue.

So here I am, still hunting like a loon, but maybe I’ve grown tired of being impatient or perhaps it’s just sunk in that no matter how fretful I get, no employer over the internet is sharing my pain. But I’ve learnt that I can always make waiting a little more bearable by baking mini cupcakes, make chocolate frosting that doesn’t require 2 hours to set and eating cold cupcakes because they don’t dry out in the fridge.

If you’re waiting for something or anything, these will make it slightly less awful than the bleak situation you’re in; promise.

Double Chocolate Cupcakes
1 x recipe Double Chocolate Cupcakes
1 x recipe Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting

Double Chocolate Cake (adapted from Miette)

1  1/4 cup GF flour blend
1/4 cup GF oat flour
1 1/4 cup natural cocoa powder (I used Varlhona, but feel free to use your favourite)
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 ounces 56% couverture chocolate, chopped
1 cup boiling water
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups caster sugar

1) Preheat oven to 170°C. Line 48 mini-muffin tins with paper liners. I had some batter left over so I made 3 regular sized cupcakes extra.

2) In a bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. In another bowl, pour the hot water over the chocolate and mix until it’s homogenised.

3) In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the eggs until they are fluffy and triple in volume. Slowly add in the oil, whisking to blend. Add in the vanilla and buttermilk and mix well. Mix in the water + chocolate mixture. Add in the sugar and beat until combined.

4) In three additions, incorporate the flour mix until just combined. Divide evenly into the prepared tins and bake for 12-15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from tin to cool completely. FROST. CONSUME. FEEL BETTER.

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Filed under Cakes, Chocolate, Cupcakes, Frostings, Recipes