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Loophole Bingo November 28, 2010

…or how to bake at every opportunity for 24 hours, without incurring the wrath of the beloved:

Saturday, 5pm

Home on a Saturday night with no beloved, no LMFs and no pudding? Can’t go out, cos the small one is sleeping, you’ve given all your money to the chahrahprahctahr and the thought of taking off your ugg boots and going out in the rain is enough to make you want to collapse on the couch and watch fourteen hours of ABC election coverage? Then make these…

Very Moreish Coconut Puddings with Blackberry Syrup

400 grams of frozen blackberries (or fresh, it’s no biggie)

90 grams of unsalted butter, at warm room temperature

125 grams of caster sugar

2 eggs

60 grams of self-raising flour

2 tablespoons of almond meal

3 tablespoons of coconut milk

4 tablespoons of dessicated coconut

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees celsius (170 fan forced)

Butter up 5-6 small glasses/ramekins/mugs (roughly 1 cup capacity each)

Drop 5-6 blackberries in the bottom of each glass/ramekin/thingy, set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the flour, almond meal and coconut, folding until well incorporated.

Add the coconut milk and fold in until well incorporated.

Top up the glasses/ramekins/vessels with batter.

Put all the vessels on a baking tray.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until risen, golden and springy.

For the syrup –

Put the remaining blackberries, 60 grams of sugar and 1/2 a cup of water in a small-medium saucepan.

Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves.

Increase the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the berries are completely mushy and the liquid is getting syrupy.

Strain into a bowl.

Invert the puddings into bowls (you can cut the tops off the pudding before inverting, so they sit flat in the bowl, but it’s not essential).

Drizzle with syrup. Eat. Although we had none, a good dollop of cream or creme fraiche would go especially well.


*    *    *    *    *    *

Sunday, 8am

In possession of a new-to-you waffle iron, a gifted waffle recipe (thank you K!), and a beloved who wants waffles? Make these:

Chia Seed Waffles with….you guessed it – blackberry syrup

(no photos, camera batteries were busy being charged)

2 eggs, separated

~1 1/2 cups of full cream milk

2 cups of plain flour

1/2 a teaspoon of baking powder

1/4 of a cup of sugar

60 grams of butter

2 tablespoons of cold water

2 tablespoons of chia seeds

Switch on your waffle iron to heat up.

Beat your egg whites until firm peaks form. Set aside.

Beat the egg yolks and milk together briefly.

Add the sifted dry ingredients and beat until smooth.

Add the melted butter and the water. Mix to incorporate well.

Fold in the beaten egg whites…at this point your batter should be thicker than pancake batter, but not as thick as muffin mix. If you need to, thin it down with a bit of extra milk folded through.

Put 2-4 tablespoons (depending on your particular waffle iron) of batter into the waffle iron. Cook until golden and just crispy.

Drizzle with blackberry syrup, or golden syrup, or maple syrup, or any syrup really. Eat, with a generous-sized mug of tea.


*    *    *    *    *    *


Sunday, 2pm

Very taken with the coconut pudding, but a bit over the blackberry syrup? Visiting friends? Hankering for ganache? Make these….

Just Beautiful Coconut Cakes

180 grams of unsalted butter, softened

250 grams of caster sugar

3 eggs

120 grams of self-raising flour

4 tablespoons of almond meal

8 tablespoons of dessicated coconut

6 tablespoons of coconut milk

150 grams of dark eating chocolate

90 grams of cream

1/2 a teaspoon of coconut essence

Extra coconut to decorate.

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees celsius (170 fan forced)

Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Fold in the flour, almond meal and coconut, combining well.

Fold in the coconut milk, mixing until smooth.

Spoon mixture evenly between the 12 cupcake cases.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until risen, golden and springy.

While they’re cooking, start the ganache –

Melt the chocolate and cream together gently, in a small glass bowl, over just simmering water.

Stir until smooth then remove from the heat.

Stir in the coconut essence and set aside to cool and thicken, stirring occasionally.

When the cupcakes are cool and the ganache has thickened, swirl ganache generously over each cake, dusting each one with coconut immediately.



Loophole 1: Visiting gift…check

Loophole 3: Virtuous use of leftovers…check

Loophole 6: Freeing up freezer space for actual meals…check

Loophole 17: Baking on request…check

Loophole 36: Baking to accommodate previous excess baking (syrup has to go with something)…check

Loophole 83: Using up ingredients to regain use of favourite containers (not drawing a long bow at all)…check

Bingo! Yes! Over here!! Bingo bingo bingo!!!


MDB: Part two, lemony oomph October 14, 2010

Filed under: Beautiful baking,Moreish puddings — titchandboofer @ 10:31 am
Tags: , ,

In which yesterday’s imperfect dessert is magically transformed into a many-layered, gooey, tangy delight:

Free-range lemon curd

75 grams of unsalted butter, chopped

3 eggs

50 grams of caster sugar

150 mls of lemon juice (~3 lemons), strained

zest of 3 lemons, very finely chopped/grated

Set up a sieve over a medium bowl, resting in another bowl of iced water.

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over low heat.

Add all the other ingredients and stir over low heat until thickening. Do not boil or you will scramble the eggs.

When the curd coats the back of a wooden spoon thickly, take off the heat immediately and pour through the sieve into the prepared bowl.

Allow to cool and thicken, stirring occasionally.

Bake another of the puddings, turn into a bowl and top with ice-cream and a couple of generous spoonfuls of curd.

Now that is perfect. A great big burst of tangy lemon, silky ice-cream and white chocolate just hovering in the background.


More defiant baking: Part one

If I’ve been out and about during the day, far from the kitchen and thoughts of dessert planning, I sometimes think to myself ‘Ah well, perhaps we don’t need dessert tonight. Perhaps I can just have a cup of tea and maybe a teensy piece of chocolate or twelve’. I’m almost convinced of this. Until about seven thirty pm. Then I get completely distracted, eyes glazing over, while I compile a mental list of potential dessert ingredients. Then I start grilling the beloved:

If I was making pudding, what would you want?

Don’t want pudding, am busy.

But if I was and you did, what would you want? (such a stupid question, beloved cannot understand the overwhelming need to make something different and will invariably suggest making these chocolate fondants)

Don’t want pudding. Thought you weren’t baking today? WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT BAKING? I’M WATCHING MY STORIES!!

What about something with cherries?



Gah. Can’t you just make chocolate fondants?

Hmmm. Lemon. Something quick and lemony? Lemon delicious? No. Boring. Lemon lemon lemon.

muttering… fondant fondant fondant

Hah! Lemon fondants! Would still need chocolate. Hmmm. White chocolate?


That’s it! White chocolate and lemon fondants! (could be way too sweet, but worth a shot)

8pm Puddings

300 grams of white chocolate (at least 35% cocoa butter: ie. Green & Black’s or Whittaker’s)

75 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature

75 grams of brown sugar

40 grams of plain flour

6 eggs of various sizes*

Zest and juice of a lemon

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 fan forced).

Butter six ramekins/small cups/small glasses.

Gently melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over just simmering water. Set aside to cool a little.

Put the butter, sugar, flour and eggs into a food processor and whizz until combined and smooth.

Add the zest and juice and whizz to incorporate.

With the processor running, add the melted chocolate in a continuous stream.

Divide the batter evenly between the six ramekins.

Bake for 8-9 minutes.

You can prepare these up to two days in advance. Just cover and chill the filled ramekins before the baking stage. I usually do this if I’m only baking for the beloved and I – bake two at first and the remaining four can be plucked out and baked as we like for snacks and whatnot. When you cook them, increase the baking time to about 12 minutes.

Turn out the puddings into bowls and top with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

Dig in…with the first spoonful, the shell of the pudding will burst and molten pudding will ooze out deliciously.

The verdict: almost there, but not quite perfect. The balance of white chocolate to lemon needs to swing more to the lemon for my liking, to balance out the white chocolatey sweetness – next time I would add the zest of two more lemons. I would also use Whittaker’s white chocolate instead of Green & Black’s – the vanilla isn’t needed here and adds unnecessarily to the sweetness. We still have four in the fridge waiting to be baked, so I’m going to cook up some lemon curd this afternoon and try one with that for some added lemony oomph. Watch this space…

In exciting news, Betty is back on the lay after two months of concentrated chick-raising. Pictured (back left) are the shells of two of her gorgeous little eggs. Darker than Lola’s creamy shelled eggs (back right) and Mrs P’s bright white delights (front), Betty’s eggs are light brown, slightly glossy and oblong, with compact golden yolks and very viscous whites.


Cross ants September 11, 2010

I have often been asked “who taught you to cook?”. The simplest explanation would be “my mother” but that’s not entirely true. The Granny loves to cook, cooks a lot (some might say way too much, but they are just ungrateful whinypantses) and is pretty damn good at it. She is not, however, an instructional type of teacher. Starting from when I was little, if I was bouncing around, begging to make cake (oh, it started early, this compulsion) she’d just gesture at the kitchen and tell me to have at it. Then she might pop in a few times to check nothing had exploded or caught fire. I will never forget one particular devastation when I was about seven. I was making a chocolate cake (natch) but hadn’t learnt the difference between beat/mix/cream/fold/stir etc. Figuring they were interchangeable and must be the product of some creative editing (well, you wouldn’t want to bore people) and indulging my growing love affair with the Kenwood Chef mixer, I just beat the crap out of everything. This, as you may have already predicted, did not end well. All ingredients in, vigorous beating complete, I peered into the bowl to see….not very much at all, a dismal amount of runny batter so thin it would barely coat a spoon. The Granny, in her wisdom, advised me to cook it and see what happened. A burnt chocolate pancake, that’s what happened. Lesson 1 – Folding – Complete. And so the years went by. The ‘learn as you go’ school of teaching was all fine when it came to cooking from recipes. Now, though, The Granny is still two decades ahead in her own baking evolution and just makes stuff up. Really good stuff. Stuff that would be nice to repeat. Trying to get specific instructions out of her is still impossible. We have had many variations of the following conversation:

Me – Thish ish vreally ymmmm (with mouth full)

Her – Oh, it’s easy, I just whipped it up before breakfast while I was knitting a fire-engine (or something)

Me – What’s in it?

Her – Um, butter and eggs and things

Me – How do you make it?

Her – Oh, you just, um, did you want a cup of tea? (The Family equivalent of ‘quick! look over there!’)

I once suggested she could do a recipe for this blog and we were suddenly diverted into a conversation about the Christmas holidays. So, it’s likely her baking secrets will remain just that. Anyhow, The Granny’s passion for baking is almost equalled by her enthusiasm for eating baked goods. Unlike me, she has no qualms about having the equivalent of cake for breakfast every day and, for as long as I can remember, her breakfast plate has held some kind of sweet pastry delight. While I’m not prepared to commit to the seven hundred weekly hours of exercise required to balance this out, I do join in when we holiday together. I have two favourite breakfast baked treats – the coffee scroll (oh, how I love you) and the almond croissant (and you). Yesterday, in what seems to be becoming a weekly event, the beloved staged a takeover of the kitchen and made ordinary, boring croissants into almond croissants. Then she told me she’s not really that into baking. Then she turned the croissants into pudding, involving two types of custard and a chocolate sauce. Then, being lazy friday, we got together with the LMFs and ate it all.

Cross Ant Pudding

The first bit:

4 croissants, preferably a day old (you could make them yourself, but that is a whole other level of baking enthusiasm)

150 grams of unsalted butter at room temperature

75 grams of icing sugar, sifted

1/3 of a cup of plain flour

2 cups of almond meal

1 teaspoon of almond essence

1/3 of a cup of flaked almonds

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees celsius (150 fan forced)

Put the butter, sugar, flour, almond meal and almond essence in your food processor. Whizz well to combine.

Split the croissants in half horizontally.

Place the bases on a baking tray.

Spread with 3/4 of the almond paste.

Replace the croissant tops and spread with the remaining paste.

Scatter with the flaked almonds.

Bake for ten-fifteen minutes, until golden and lovely.

Dust with a bit of extra icing sugar.

The next bit:

Your 4 almond croissants

4 eggs

110 grams of caster sugar

300 mls of full fat milk

300 mls of pure cream (not thickened)

1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped

2 tablespoons of Amaretto (or whatever you like best)

Grease a baking dish. The beloved used a square glass one, about 1.5 litre capacity.

Tear up the croissants and fill the dish.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl until just combined

Put the milk, cream, vanilla pod and seeds into a medium saucepan. Heating over low heat, bring it to just below boiling (sort of simmering around the sides).

Gradually pour the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.

Add the Amaretto and whisk to combine.

Pour this mixture over the torn croissants in the baking dish. Set aside for at least an hour to soak in.

The next bit:

4 egg yolks

250 mls of full fat milk

250 mls of pure cream (not thickened)

55 grams of caster sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Put a medium sized bowl ready over a bigger bowl with some ice in the bottom.

Lightly beat the egg yolks in another medium sized bowl.

Put the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Bring to just below boiling point.

Pour the milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return the complete mixture to the pan and stir constantly over a low heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Pour immediately into the bowl over ice, cover with clingfilm and let cool until needed. (It’s to serve over the finished pudding)

The next bit:

200 mls of pure cream

50 mls of full fat milk

200 grams of good dark chocolate (the beloved used Whittaker’s 72%), chopped

25 grams of cocoa powder

Put the cream and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat.

Bring to just below boiling point.

Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until smooth (here the beloved had a mini-tantrum when the sauce split – we fixed it by stirring in a bit of extra cream)

Whisk in the cocoa, then set aside.

The last bits:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 fan forced)

Bake the pudding for 45-55 minutes, until just set and golden. Cover with foil if it browns too quickly.

Remove the pudding from the oven, let it sit for a little while (at least 10 minutes).

Turn out of the dish, slice and serve drizzled with the custard and the chocolate sauce. Add some extra almonds and raspberries if you want to, but it’s hardly essential, there’s quite enough going on.

Eat it up.


My friend the tissue box September 3, 2010

Filed under: Beautiful baking,Moreish puddings — titchandboofer @ 10:17 am
Tags: , ,

Entire household still in the throes of tedious, mouthbreathing cold. Shan’t bore you with details of same. On the upside, desperation to stagger to the end of the week meant lazy Friday became lazy Thursday. The house was filled with the LMFs, teetering piles of thai takeaway containers and the leftover-from-small’s-birthday sparkling grape juice (oh yes, we go hard and then we go and lie down with a good cup of tea). And what better way for the cold-stricken and weary to prematurely finish the week, than by finishing dinner with an enormous hit of chocolate? Thank you beloved, I shall whine about your kitchen invasion no more, at least not this week.

Desperation Pie

an adaptation of a Sophia Young recipe

Pie crust:

250 grams of plain flour

30 grams of icing sugar

150 grams of cold unsalted butter, finely chopped

1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Process the flour, sugar, butter and salt in your food processor until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Whisk the egg with the vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and process until just holding together.

Shape the pastry into a disc, wrap in clingwrap and regrigerate for ten minutes.

Pie filling:

150 grams of dark chocolate (72% Whittakers is perfectly acceptable), finely chopped

150 grams of caster sugar

50 grams of cocoa

250 grams of ground almonds

200 grams of cold unsalted butter, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of Amaretto (or liqueur of your choice)

4 eggs

Process the chocolate, sugar, cocoa and almond meal until finely ground.

Add the butter and Amaretto and process until combined.

Add the eggs, two at a time, processing until combined after each addition.

Transfer into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius (180 fan forced) and pop a baking tray in there to heat up.

Butter a tart pan, ideally with a removable base. If you get to this point and discover that you have returned ‘your’ tart pan to your mother, just use a baking dish. We used a round, glass one with excellent results.

Grab your pastry from the fridge. Roll it out between two sheets of baking paper to a thickness of ~4mm.

Gently line your pan/dish with the pastry, pushing it into the corners and trimming the top edge. Make fork pricks liberally over the base and sides.

Freeze for at least 30 minutes (longer won’t hurt).

Once the pie crust has been nicely chilled, and you’ve downed your pad ginger chicken and roti, remove it from the freezer.

Spoon in the refrigerated chocolate filling and smooth the surface with a spatula. You don’t have to be too fussy.

Place the pan/dish on the hot oven tray and bake for ten minutes.

Reduce the oven heat to 180 degrees celsius (160 fan forced) and bake for a further 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the filling is firming. A little less time equals more of a gooey, molten filling and vice versa.

Leave to sit about on the stove top for ten minutes or so, then serve up with ice-cream.

Eat, then eat some more. When you take your bowl back to the kitchen you might just want to tidy up the cut edges of the leftover pie a little. Or just have another piece.


Molten August 25, 2010

The beloved has been baking. She does this very occasionally. On a lazy Friday perhaps, or if she’s on holiday. It always makes me nervous, mainly for ludicrous reasons…what if she loses my best tiny spatula, or uses a bad, unvetted recipe, or breaks all the wooden spoons (which could actually happen – she has engineered some unfortunate blender vs. wooden spoon incidents. Oh god, what about the blender?) or blows up the oven? I know I’m not the only one afflicted with ERK (Extreme and Ridiculous Kitchen-possessiveness). You’re out there. You know who you are. We should form a support group.

Fortunately she usually makes the same thing, a pudding which could make anyone overcome just about any affliction, except diabetes. Pure heaven in a ramekin.

Once upon a time I worked in an office. Those of you familiar with working in an office will understand this phenomenon: if a colleague on maternity leave visits with their baby everybody stops work until the baby has exited the building. Apply this to our chickens*. Enough said.

Beloved Pudding

adapted from Annie Bell’s gorgeous desserts

300 grams of dark eating chocolate, broken into pieces

75 grams of unsalted butter, chopped

75 grams of brown sugar

5 eggs (*see above)

40 grams of plain flour, sifted

1 tablespoon of Amaretto (or the liqueur of your choice)

Ice cream, cream or creme fraiche to serve

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees celsius (170 fan forced).

Butter six ramekins (roughly half-cup size).

Melt your chocolate gently. Either do this in a bowl over a pan of just simmering water, or in the microwave on 60% power. Set aside.

Put your butter, sugar, eggs and flour in the bowl of your food processor. Process until smooth. Add the chocolate and process again. Add your generous tablespoonful of delicious Amaretto and give it all one last spin.

Divide equally between the ramekins.

Sit the ramekins on a baking tray and bake for 8-9 minutes, until just rising. There should be a layer of cooked cake on the outer and molten chocolate on the inside.

Serve immediately. If you want to make these ahead, you can get to the ‘divide into ramekins’ bit and then cover each ramekin and put them in the fridge. When you bake them from the fridge add about 3 minutes cooking time.

This is an exceptionally versatile pudding: make it to impress when you have people for dinner (individual puddings are so elegant), make it to heal an ailing beloved of your own who is lolling on the couch moaning about their headache, or make it in thanks for lovely gestures (say, for the person who builds your son a sandpit for his birthday)


Let the sun shine August 12, 2010

Things are getting dire here. Egg supplies are at an all time low. Days of overcast skies and hours spent huddling out of the rain under the hen palace have led to a complete halt on the egg production line*. I do wonder if Agnes and Mrs P have gone off the lay in protest at Lola’s continued egg theft. If so, it’s working a treat. She’s completely given up on pretending to be broody and is out and about and back to her old routine of getting herself covered in mud a mere ten minutes after she gets up in the morning and spending the rest of the day trying to fluff herself clean. Betty’s vigilant guard over her eggs in the broody house continues. With every day she is tolerant of less time spent away from them. Today she was warbling and pacing after a mere ten minute leg-stretch. By the poultry man’s (PM) calculations her chicks will be pecking their way out to freedom in three day’s time. One of my poultry books gives dire warning about the potential for her long fine feathers to strangle the young chicks, but the PM feels these fears are unwarranted. Despite having never met her, he has been strangely fascinated with progress reports on her brooding and asserts complete confidence in her abilities. Hopefully he’ll be as fascinated with any rooster-chicks that eventuate and kindly rehouse them before our neighbours decide they want us rehoused.

With the possibility of no new eggs by the weekend, I am hoarding the remaining five for a cake to celebrate the return from traveling of best lawyer friend (the BLF). Which last night left me with the dilemma of eggless pudding. Some might blithely say ‘just skip pudding’, like pudding is optional. It is a rare day indeed that pudding would be optional for me. A day that ends without dessert feels incomplete and leaves me inconveniently preoccupied with thoughts of breakfast and how far away it is. Happily, the Two Fat Ladies filled the void.

The Two Fat Ladies’ introduction to this recipe is written as follows:

“I remember, as a teenager, hearing this song on the American Forces Network and always thought it sounded very jolly:

‘Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pandowdy

Makes your eyes light up

And your tummy say “Howdy!”‘

So I thought we should include the pandowdy in our apple feast.”

As I read this, I can hear Clarissa Dickson Wright’s plummy English accent so clearly in my head. The enthusiasm that she and Jennifer Paterson had for food was utterly infectious and comes across in the written word almost as well as on the screen – they just loved their food unreservedly. I feel they would definitely approve of a household where you can count on pudding being available seven days a week.

Apple Pandowdy for a cold Wednesday night

900 grams of cooking apples

2 tablespoons of golden syrup (I didn’t have any, so I substituted treacle with excellent results)

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

175 grams of plain flour

good pinch of salt

2 teaspoons of baking powder

115 grams of caster sugar

115 grams of unsalted butter, melted

generous 150 mls of milk

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (170 deg fan forced).

Butter a 1 litre baking dish. Mine is quite broad and shallow, leading to a crispier topped pudding. A deeper dish will yield a deeper, fluffier pudding section.

Peel, quarter and core the apples. Thinly slice them into a bowl. Add the syrup/treacle, cinnamon and nutmeg, then toss gently to coat all the apple pieces evenly. Spoon the apple into the bottom of your prepared baking dish.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the milk and melted butter. Stir to make a smooth batter, then spread evenly over the apple slices.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. It is ready when the sponge has risen and browned and the apples beneath are softened. Serve from the dish or invert onto a serving dish (I wouldn’t do this unless you know it’s all going to be eaten in one sitting, as the sponge will get soggy).

Served hot, generously accompanied by cream or ice-cream and a big hot mug of tea, it’s a perfect end to a cold and drizzly day. The very top has a satisfying crunch. Beneath that is a layer of softer sponge and lurking beneath that is the apple – soft, spicy and sweet. Tummies all around will definitely say ‘Howdy!’.

*According to the PM, a hen needs at least 12 hours of light to conceive an egg, explaining why egg supplies can be low for the backyard hen in winter. This was quite a revelation. I always assumed they just weren’t happy to get their nether parts chilly.