Tag Archives: brownies

I made bread…

…and it was wonderful!

Perfect buttered bread

This time last year, I was baking brownies. Brownies upon brownies upon brownies! It was definitely my thing.

This year, I am at home, with my own oven, my “own” (mother’s) kitchen, and I don’t need to borrow a kitchen from someone, where I would have to take all my own ingredients that were stored in the top of my cupboard above my clothes and linen in my bedroom… Yeah, it’s definitely good to be home!

It’s both a blessing and a curse though. Now I get to cook all the time. Which I love but which is also really bad, especially now that I am writing my final honours exams (from Monday. OMG I’m going to die! Wish me all the luck!). So, in between all the studying, and sometimes even instead of all the studying, I bake. And that is how this loaf came about.

I love cookery books. Aren’t they pretty? I really should use them since I have so many! It’s my “post-exams resolution”. That, and tidying up all the clutter in my room that has accumulated since I have had more pressing things to do (like “study”, which can be seen here and here). I have all these exciting cooking plans for the end of exams, it is so difficult to actually wait until they are over to start! Hence, procrastibaking.

Procrastibaking

 

So cookbook number 1 is a really cool baking book which I will share with you soon, once I have tried and tested a few more of its recipes. It is very educational, which, of course, is the whole point of me baking and sharing my lessons and experiences with you here on my blog! It doesn’t have enough pictures though, but I feel like complaining about that makes me sound like a child complaining over the quality of their picture book (or why grown up book are so boring). Time to grow up and get this honours degree I guess. Real world next year, bring it on!

 

Simple white bread loaf

Ingredients

  • 400g white bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 300ml warmish water

Method

  1. Place flour in a bowl. Place the salt in on the one side of the bowl and the yeast in on the other (don’t let them touch just yet)
  2. Add the water and mix well. Don’t be afraid to get your hands in there!
  3. When all the ingredients are well-combined (but don’t over-mix!), place the ball of dough in the bowl, cover with a cloth and leave for 10 minutes
  4. Remove dough from bowl, place on an oiled surface (not floured), and knead, 6-8 turns (not too long)
  5. Replace dough in bowl, and leave for 10 minutes. Repeat twice more
  6. On final kneading, leave the dough in the bowl for 45 minutes to increase in size (still with a cloth over the bowl)
  7. Remove the dough, and place onto a floured surface. Shape into an oval, or a weird circle, or whatever shape you manage to get out of it, no one will judge you if it’s not perfectly oblong
  8. Place almost-loaf onto the pre-floured pan that the bread will cook on, cover with a cloth, and leave to prove (increase in size) for around 45 minutes
  9. Preheat oven to 220ºC, dust loaf with a bit of extra bread flour, slash it down the length, not too deep, and place in the oven for 35-40minutes. Mine took 35 minutes, but ovens may vary
  10. Remove from oven, allow to cool a bit, then lather with butter and devour, making sure you save some for soup later (there is still a springy nip in the air at the moment after all!)

 

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Zucchini brownies? Not for me thanks!

Alternative title for this post: How to get kids to eat more vegetables. Or: How to mess with your friends who say they don’t eat vegetables. Or: A slightly healthier brownie recipe (but still includes sugar).

Not your typical background props for brownies

Not your typical background props for brownies

Zucchini was stalking me. It was like a green veggie monster lurking in every corner of my life saying “Eat me, eat me!” (In the creepiest veggie monster voice you can imitate). I was like, “ew, no! Vegetables!? Too much green! Too much health! Too much not chocolate!”

That peanut butter stripe... That melted dark chocolate... That richness that looks like it translates to goodness...

That peanut butter stripe… That melted dark chocolate… That richness that looks like it translates to goodness…

I figured though, since I had given in and made the carrot cupcakes, I would just have to give these babies a shot. Problem is, zucchini isn’t the same as it is overseas. We have mini zucchini, which I took an unfortunate while to realise is what we refer to as: baby marrow. I assume it’s the same thing???

I follow quite a lot of blogs, and there was a week where every single one of those blogs sent me some form of zucchini cake/brownie/muffin/savoury-thing recipe, and they all looked so amazing! But still… Vegetables… When I got this one from Yammie’s Gluten Freedom, I decided that that had to be the one. Her recipes are reliable, and her brownies have always come out tops in my books. Alas, my trust has been broken!!

Box of brownies

Just kidding, she will always be amazing, and these brownies aren’t half bad. The peanut butter topping definitely makes them worthwhile. My major complaint with this recipe is that they kind of taste like vegetables… Kind of a lot… We gave some to a friend though who refuses to eat veggies – we didn’t tell him – he actually said he enjoyed them, and that they had a nutty flavour. So the key to this recipe is: deception. Obviously, as the baker, this didn’t work so well for me, and all I could taste was green…

Zucchine, baby marrow, grown up marrow, courgette, by any other name does not belong in a brownie

Zucchini, baby marrow, grown up marrow, courgette, by any other name does not belong in a brownie

Zucchini brownies – made in SA

Ingredients

  • 2 cups finely grated baby marrows/courgettes/zucchini (I used the zester to grate mine superfine – I didn’t feel like having huge chunks of the stuff)
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 ¹⁄³ cup applesauce (mine was a good jar of the stuff)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ²⁄³ C oat flour/food-processed oats (ground down to a flour)
  • 1 C cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Additional: chocolate chips of whatever degree of healthiness suits your taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC, and line a 11×11″ baking tray/dish
  2. Mix the sugar, eggs, apple sauce, vanilla and baby marrows
  3. Mix the oat flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and soda, cinnamon and salt together
  4. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix well, ensuring there are no floury dry bits
  5. Pour mixture into prepared pan/dish
  6. Bake on the middle shelf for 1 hour
  7. Remove and leave to cool before frosting – I frosted mine with melted chocolate and a mix of melted chocolate and peanut butter

Best of G’Town: Milkshake hotspot

Mmmm milkshakes. I used to think that Bar One milkshakes was about as extreme and amazing as you could get (there is no disputing that they are fabulous, though). Then I found Red Café, and I was completely blown away.

Peanut butter milkshakes to blow you away, strawberry and banana smoothie (Pam thinks she's healthy). Bar One milkshake next to a peppermint crisp milkshake which tastes just like the dessert.

Peanut butter milkshakes to blow you away, strawberry and banana smoothie (Pam thinks she’s healthy). Bar One milkshake next to a peppermint crisp milkshake which tastes just like the dessert.

They have your traditional chocolate and vanilla, but then they also have Milo, Horlicks, and even peanut butter milkshakes! It’s like a perfect peanut smoothie, but it’s a milkshake, so it’s better. Then they have Dessert Milkshakes, which include peppermint crisp (Peppermint Surprise for those students who live in res at Rhodes University), Bar One and Oreo (cookies and cream is always a winner). They also serve smoothies if you would prefer to appear healthy, but they taste so great that it’s hard to believe it’s healthy fruity ingredients.

They have a charming breakfast menu, but the food menu is dominated by tramezzinis and baguettes. Their tramezzinis are definitely the better option, though, as they crisp up nicely, while the baguettes are rather bland… They also do salads and cater for certain fussy diets.

Breakfast wrap and a breakfast tramezzini, same filling, different outside. The wrap itself was somewhat bland, so it is better to have the cheese, scrambled egg and bacon in it's crispy tramezzini form.

Breakfast wrap and a breakfast tramezzini, same filling, different outside. The wrap itself was somewhat bland, so it is better to have the cheese, scrambled egg and bacon in it’s crispy tramezzini form.

They have a charming breakfast menu, but the food menu is dominated by tramezzinis and baguettes. Their tramezzinis are definitely the better option, though, as they crisp up nicely, while the baguettes are rather bland… They also do salads and cater for certain fussy diets.

Darren enjoyed a chicken mayo tramezzini, which was full to bursting with more than just a chicken mayo filling - there was cheese and I think they even crammed some mushrooms in there. The chocolate brownie was one of the greatest in Grahamstown for sure

Darren enjoyed a chicken mayo tramezzini, which was full to bursting with more than just a chicken mayo filling – there was cheese and I think they even crammed some mushrooms in there.
The chocolate brownie was one of the greatest in Grahamstown for sure

My first port of call, though, is the sweets and treats, obviously. Brownies, millionairs shortbread and an assortment of cakes go down a treat. My latest delight there was a chocolate brownie that was delicious. I couldn’t figure out if it was a especially gooey brownie, or slightly under-done; either way, it totally worked.

Red Café is definitely under-appreciated, though it does receive a steady amount of business by the sounds of things. It’s a pity about their open times, but it is understandable for a café to not be open for dinner; their menu doesn’t lend itself to that as much. Their food is consistently improving, providing reliable deliciousness – keep it simple and you’ll definitely get it right more often. Their location and set up is also ideal – the balcony overlooking the high street is quaint and cool (under the shade at least) for a hot summers day with a shake or a smoothie.

They have a unique balcony with a charming view. Here I enjoyed a roast chicken and cheese baguette with an Oreo milkshake.

They have a unique balcony with a charming view.
Here I enjoyed a roast chicken and cheese baguette with an Oreo milkshake.

Everything thing brownies

Have you ever done the everything thing? I’m at the stage in my life where it is happening very often, and it makes sense: I have so many big choices to make, and everything seems to have culminated into this period of my life. Never have I been faced with so many options and life paths, and it’s getting almost overwhelming.

So I decided to bake of course.

These were originally meant to be “kitchen sink brownies” but as I realised how much these brownies were becoming a metaphor for my life at the moment, they became Everything Thing brownies.

Baking Everything Thing brownies to distract myself from life choices

Baking Everything Thing brownies to distract myself from life choices

I am finishing up my Bachelor’s degree in a few days (couldn’t be more excited for it to be over!) and I now have the potential of the big bad world ahead of me. Let me just warn you that University pretty much doesn’t really prepare you for real-world activities, only life can do that. I am scared that wherever I decide to go, I will end up having learnt all about the industry, but not enough about how to do a job in it. Well, these are just my concerns and fears for the future. And then there’s the fact that I don’t even know what I’m going to do with my life.

These are the contents, not the ingredients of Everything Thing Brownies. The Snickers were strong, bordering overpowering, and the Rolo's disappeared. The Creme Caramels also disappeared, but that's because I ate them before they made it into the brownies

These are the contents, not the ingredients of Everything Thing Brownies. The Snickers were strong, bordering overpowering, and the Rolo’s disappeared. The Creme Caramels also disappeared, but that’s because I ate them before they made it into the brownies

I am going to London in two weeks time (looking forward to more travel pieces, yay!) and I am going to be spending time at a cool company there. I am meant to be returning to South Africa mid-January to start my honours degree back home in Johannesburg, which is cool because there’s not as much real life when you’re a student, however, yet another year of studies? It better be good. This obviously depends on whether or not I get accepted into my chosen University.

Looking back, though, I am heartsore to be leaving my current student life behind. I have recently met a huge number of wonderful people. I made biscuits for one of them with some cool new cookie cutters that I ordered online. I need some practice with them, but I am very pleased with my purchase. It’s going to suck leaving all these awesome people in this crazy little town.

Cookie jars are the cutest gifts I think <3

Cookie jars are the cutest gifts I think ❤

"Hi Pam"! "Pam and Chris". It's easier to make cookies like this for someone else rather than admitting just how lonely the future could be...

“Hi Pam”! “Pam and Chris”. It’s easier to make cookies like this for someone else rather than admitting just how lonely the future could be…

As far as the taste of the brownies are concerned: matched my life as well. They seemed like a really good idea at the time, and I was accumulating the ingredients and building up to and enjoying the idea of these little gems. They looked like they would work out, everything was great on paper. When I finally got around to it, it was actually pretty disappointing. The Snickers kind of ruined them on the first bite, because of the intense peanut flavour and the way that the caramel went quite hard… Once I got over the initial surprise of the flavour though, things got better. So that’s where I am right now: initial bite was rough, but I know it can only get better. Especially if you make the most of the other cool things going on in there, like Oreos and M&M’s.

Everything Thing Brownies (ET Brownies) are officially a thing. Just incorporate everything that makes you happy, and your life will match up eventually <3

Everything Thing Brownies (ET Brownies) are officially a thing. Just incorporate everything that makes you happy, and your life will match up eventually ❤

Brownie bake-off…

… a quest to find the best brownie recipe of them all!

Which one will it be? Which brownie recipe is Brownie of them all?

Which one will it be? Which brownie recipe is Brownie of them all?

Brownies are definitely my thing, so I was determined to find the best brownie recipe out there. I have some favourite blogs and some recommended recipes that I had to give a go, so I set them all up against one another and had a day-long brownie bake-off. I made six batches of brownies (obviously in my absolute element!) and got a bunch of my friends to rate them and decide on the best one. 

Batch # 1: Yuppiechef

Batch # 1: Yuppiechef

The first batch I made was the one from the online shop, Yuppiechef. They are certainly my favourite online shop because they sell cooking equipment to heaven and back and I just want to buy absolutely everything on that site! You will see the brownie pan that I bought from them in later photos, it was very handy, producing cute little individual brownies.

The judges’ opinions: Softer, cakier, moist, not dry and not too sweet (however a later test group noted that they were sweeter than Batch #2, which is contrary).

Batch #2: Food.com

Batch #2: Food.com (in my Yuppiechef brownie tray)

I had this recipe at a baby shower I went to once and it was beautiful. They had been baked perfectly. I do love my fudgy edges, and those didn’t have them that time, but wow, not too cakey, not too fudgy, they were fabulous. This batch turned out quite nicely as well, but perhaps somewhat less chocolate-y than the first time I had them.

Judges’ opinions: soft inside, chocolate-y, with a crunchy coating. [I would say the crunchy coating is a bit of an exaggerated description, but they were somewhat fudgy on the outside]

Yammie is my favourite food blogger, possibly because we have a lot in common, but also because she produces some superb and truly delicious recipes. All her posts have so much character and her recipes are easy to follow. These brownies have proved a huge success in the past, when I used them in my slutty brownies and when I made a brownie pizza once as well. They are really great.

Judges’ opinions: Cakey, doughy and hard. Crunchy [They were more dense than crunchy]. One judge thought they would be good with tea, but that is because they are dense and chocolate-y.

These brownies are flourless and dairy-free, which means that they cater for a large number of people. And they taste fantastic as well! They have added coffee, which intensifies the chocolate flavour, and they still have great structure, even though they don’t have any flour. They are quite dense and a little bit sticky, but if that’s how you like your brownies, then that shouldn’t be a problem.

Judges’ opinions: Bitter [from the added coffee], dark and gooey [from the lack of flour and added coffee].

Batch #5: BBC Good Food

Batch #5: BBC Good Food

This recipe sounded absolutely fabulous! And it would have been too, however, by this time I was slightly limited. I no longer had a sieve (note the lumps of cocoa powder) and I was using a new oven. A new and extremely hot oven. We cooked them at 110 degrees Celcius (instead of 160), for 15 minutes instead of 25, and they got burnt to an absolute crisp. It was a sad day; I had been so looking forward to them. I managed to save the remains and everyone got to taste a sliver at least.

Judges’ Opinions: “How a brownie should taste”.

Batch #6: How Sweet It Is. These ones didn’t make photo-time unfortunately.

I love this blog as well. She has a lot of character and got me really into reading food blogs. What I liked when I first came across her page was that there is more than just food in her posts (similar to Yammie), she also had stories and you could really see her personality. She now posts some very interesting and different recipes. I am particularly keen to try this sandwich of hers.

IMG_6739

“But, what do you mean you don’t like this one? It’s the best!”

IMG_6738

“If you don’t like it, I’ll have it!”

IMG_6745

Brownies to last the week of studies

IMG_6742

So the final verdict…

Final brownie results

Final brownie results

In order of the best:

1st place: BBC Good Food (even though they were dinky and a tad burnt. Such a pity!)

2nd place: Food.com

Tied 3rd place: Yammie’s Gluten Freedom (see, gluten and dairy free can still be delicious) and Yuppiechef

5th place: Yammie’s Noshery

6th place: How Sweet It Is 

Finally made Slutty Brownies

Holidays are a tough (yet wonderful) time for me because I tend to overindulge in all the wonderful things that I don’t generally have access to in the little isolated town of Grahamstown. You may also be aware that I don’t have easy access to a kitchen, which makes baking and cooking pretty difficult. However, I was recently lucky enough to be offered kitchen facilities in my Warden’s flat, and I took the opportunity to make something so wonderful and delicious, that I will most certainly be baking them again within the next two weeks.

The name is interesting, but they’re just so delicious and indulgent, that everyone wants a piece. Slutty brownies have been on my “To-make” list for a while, and I now see that I was not mistaken in choosing this recipe.

The Slutty Brownie is made up of a base layer of chocolate chip cookies, a layer of Oreos, and topped off with a fudgey brownie layer. Those are basically the three most wonderful treats in the world, right?

I chose to stick with simple box mixes, which made it cheaper and fail-proof. I didn’t want to end up with a dud layer of choc chip cookies and a perfect brownie on top, that would have been such a waste!

Just some casual ingredients waiting to become something awesome!

Just some casual ingredients waiting to become something awesome!

The three main components: cookie dough (delicious as is, by the way, who cares about Salmonella...?)

The three main components: cookie dough (delicious as is, by the way, who cares about Salmonella…?)

Place the cookies into neat rows to make sure you get evenly distributed Oreo-goodness

Place the cookies into neat rows to make sure you get evenly distributed Oreo-goodness

Try not to notice the fact that I was 1 Oreo short...

Try not to notice the fact that I was 1 Oreo short…

Add your brownie layer

Add your brownie layer

Pop it into the oven

Pop it into the oven

I would advise that you bake for a few minutes longer than the recommended time to cook the brownies, because they are quite thick, and all that baking heat needs to get deep down through to the cookie layer. Your cookies are not that likely to burn, just beware if you are using a metal cooking dish.

See the lovely layers, so inviting and tempting

See the lovely layers, so inviting and tempting

Ooey gooey delicious finished product

Ooey gooey delicious finished product

They could possibly have stayed in the oven a little longer, but then the ooey gooey-ness of the brownies would have been lost. The softer brownie also offsets a crispier cookie layer, so you really get to enjoy the textures. The Oreo layer is like a small burst of happy in your mouth, a pleasant surprise each time you come across one with that characteristic sweet frosting inside.