Tag Archives: cooking

Milktart

Dairy… It’s a love hate relationship for me. I love it, it hates me. In fact, I think it love-hates me, and can’t actually make up its mind. Either way, I am of the moderately informed opinion that dairy isn’t really ideal for human consumption at all, but chances are, unless you are hugely intolerant/allergic to the stuff, you won’t really care about a little bit of discomfort for the sake of the dairy!

Mini milk tart
Take, for example, the classic South African Milktart: 71% milk (excluding the crust, which can be omitted for the grain/gluten-free). I could honestly eat the whole thing. And yes, I would over-dramatically hate my life afterwards, and yes, I will possibly go into some form of hyperglycemic shock (from the 12 teaspoons of sugar), and yes, I would insist on running 10km every day for the next month, to try work it off and make myself feel less guilty for the gluttony, but this little local tart can be so worth it… (I say this as if I haven’t eaten a whole milk tart by myself before… This is a judgment free space people!)
I’ve been on a quest to find a recipe that doesn’t involve either condensed milk or custard powder. This one fails in that quest, but succeeds in every other tasty way. Of course, my search will continue, and many milktarts will be quality tested on the way, so it can’t be all that bad.
Melk tert

Milktart

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 10ml flour
  • 10ml custard powder
  • 20ml cornflour
  • 60ml sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5ml vanilla essence
  • 565ml milk
  • 30g butter
  • 1 baked pastry case or biscuit crust
  • A little cinnamon

Method:

  1. Beat the eggs, then add the dry ingredients (flour, custard powder, cornflour, sugar and salt) and vanilla, and beat well
  2. Heat milk and butter until just boiling, then turn down to a slight simmer and gradually add the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Make sure not to let anything stick to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Cook, stirring continuously, until mixture thickens
  4. Pour mixture it a pie shell (biscuit crust or pre-baked), and sprinkle with cinnamon
  5. Leave to cool (or scald your tongue on the better version of warm homemade custard)
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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!)

 

Freshly brewed cake

I am finally in England, and I finally have my degree! Could that be any more exciting?

Brace yourself

Winter is certainly not coming, it is most definitely here. Feel it! It is wonderful. Before I tell you anything about the most perfect cake in my life right now, I need to give you some advice, especially if you are not from a cold country. Just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean you need to be cold too! I arrived with my South African winter coats, bracing myself against the cold. I expected the cold, and I was ready to deal with it. Little did I know that you can actually wear a genuinely warm jacket, and you don’t have to feel the cold at all. You can also get really stylish jackets too (fancy that…), so there is no excuse! This revelation has saved me, and I look forward for my next few weeks in this bitter yet beautiful city.

Another great thing about being here in the big city is all the new coffee opportunities. I can continue to hone my skills in the brewed art, however finding a good cup of coffee has been surprisingly difficult thus far. And my English Granny complains about the coffee in SA? She clearly doesn’t know what she’s talking about. One coffee that does not fail, however, is this delicious and delectable coffee cake.

This espresso sponge cake with mocha buttercream frosting is truly the best cake recipe I have stumbled upon yet

This espresso sponge cake with mocha buttercream frosting is truly the best cake recipe I have stumbled upon yet

As I must have mentioned before, this blog is largely about me learning to cook and bake, and become a better food photographer. You are joining me on my learning experience, my delicious food-journey, venturing into the unknown as I experiment with new foods and techniques. Obviously, this learning takes some proactivity, so I started an online cooking course, which turned out to be super handy and educational! It was kind of basic, but there were definitely a few technical tips in there that I picked up and they did have some great recipes that you had to complete as part of the course before you could move on. That includes this amazing coffee cake, which has literally become my favourite cake recipe ever thus far, and some amazingly simple sugar/butter cookies that are easier and simpler than mine.

Pam agreed with me on the coffee cake and on the biscuits. Hi Pam

Pam agreed with me on the coffee cake and on the biscuits – delicious. Hi Pam

The coffee sponge is so light and fluffy, with just enough coffee that it’s not overpowering but that you still get sufficient coffee flavour. The instruction video describes the ‘beautiful caramel coloured cake batter’ but I thought it looked basically the same as normal cake batter. It was still a very tasty cake batter (had to make sure there was enough coffee in there of course… There was).

It was literally the largest cake tin I have baked in - it was unnecessarily large, and I ended up with a single layer cake, contrary to instruction

It was literally the largest cake tin I have baked in – it was unnecessarily large, and I ended up with a single layer cake, contrary to instruction

I made this cake during my final exams, and it certainly kept me going for a portion of my studying. Unfortunately, it sat beside me, smelling wonderful, and it didn’t keep me company for long enough. Made for a good study snack of course at least.

Make sure to let your cake cool...

Make sure to let your cake cool…

The other problem with a single layer cake was that there was just too much icing for it, but there would have been just too little for a double layer one. I topped the cake with toasted walnuts the first time, but was disappointed by their flavour (which I was pretty new to), so I used pecan nuts the second time. I need to find a way to use pistachios, those are amazing (and addictive…).

The walnuts looked pretty good on this single layer espresso cake, but I do prefer the pecan nuts, as I used earlier in this post

The walnuts looked pretty good on this single layer espresso cake, but I do prefer the pecan nuts, as I used earlier in this post

The cookie recipe is one for the books; or one for your mental recipe book, as it is that easy to remember and execute. They use a really basic 3-ingredient cookie recipe, that works according to a ratio, and can be adapted to your tastes. In these, you add a dash of lemon zest, which gives them a perfect dash of flavour. The cookies are straightforward and reliable, as a genuine cookie should be.

Christmas sugar/butter lemon cookies

Christmas sugar/butter lemon cookies

Happy Christmas indeed!

The recipes are both from my favourite online shopping site, and they can be found here and here. Enjoy!

Rolo-stuffed milk chocolate chip cookies

Now, I don’t want to toot my own horn or anything, but these were literally the most amazing cookies I have ever made and ever eaten. The slutty brownies were pretty good as far as taste goes, but these cookies are definitely the most delicious things that I have EVER baked.

Big Rolo-stuffed milk chocolate chip cookies - the best I have ever had

Big Rolo-stuffed milk chocolate chip cookies – the best I have ever had

I had something else planned and ready to make for quite a while, but a craving for buttery cookies interfered with that, and so the Rolo-cookies were born! It took a while for me to make them because I kept eating all the Rolos… Oops…

I managed to perfect the chocolate chip cookie recipe that I initially had, although this time I used milk chocolate chips to complement the milk chocolate in the Rolos. It worked out quite nicely, as it was a nice draw away from my traditional Bournville.

The cookies are chewy, but not too much, and they don’t taste like butter (although the craving was most certainly satisfied). They are best enjoyed warm when the caramel inside the Rolos is still all melty and bursting with flavour, but cold Rolos are just as delicious, are they not?

I had to use the big Rolo slabs as my initial Rolo supply because they didn't have any rolls the first time I went. This meant massive cookies, but that's not a legitimate problem, is it?

I had to use the big Rolo slabs as my initial Rolo supply because they didn’t have any rolls the first time I went. This meant massive cookies, but that’s not a legitimate problem, is it?

Rearing to go - those beautiful mounds waiting to be transformed from delicious cookie dough into chewy, Rolo-stuffed, melted perfection

Rearing to go – those beautiful mounds waiting to be transformed from delicious cookie dough into chewy, Rolo-stuffed, melted perfection

Ready and large. Give those babies just a few minutes to cool, then grab one while it's still warm with a melted caramel and chocolate centre

Ready and large. Give those babies just a few minutes to cool, then grab one while it’s still warm with a melted caramel and chocolate centre

They are still delicious once cooled. And once you've started eating them, you don't worry about how pretty they are anymore.

They are still delicious once cooled. And once you’ve started eating them, you don’t worry about how pretty they are anymore

I even attempted to make caramel for the first time - it needs some work, but definitely on the way to success

I even attempted to make caramel for the first time – it needs some work, but definitely on the way to success

Caramel-filled heart - now that's true love indeed <3

Caramel-filled heart – now that’s true love indeed ❤ (and true love is always messy, particularly if you rush it)

Rolo-stuffed milk chocolate chip cookies

Makes 18 smaller cookies, 12 large ones (with big Rolo bits)

Ingredients

  • 150g salted butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips (130g chopped up Cadbury Dairy Milk)
  • 2 rolls of Rolos

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius, and line your baking tray
  2. Cream the butter
  3. Add the sugar to the creamed butter, and beat until well-mixed
  4. Add the two eggs and beat until well-combined
  5. Add dry ingredients and mix until you have a consistent dough. This dough is not too dry and holds its form fairly well
  6. Add in your chocolate chips and mix until they are evenly distributed throughout the mixture
  7. Prepare bottom cookie layer, making sure there is enough flattened out cookie dough that when there is a Rolo sitting neatly on there, it has a fair amount of dough surrounding it. This helps in step  8. Place Rolo on each cookie base
  8. Place your top cookie layer on top of the Rolo, and press down the sides, tucking that Rolo neatly and comfortably in there, ready for a cosy nap
  9. Place tray on middle rack and bake for 15 minutes (depending on the oven)
  10. Remove from oven and let cool. After 10 minutes, eat one, and marvel at its greatness, then let the others cool and save them for later

3-Ingredient Bar One Cupcakes

Note: this definitely classifies as one of my “Sweet Experiments”, but it is more of an adaptation of another recipe rather than being made according to an actual recipe. It is based on a recipe for 3-ingredient Nutella brownies that I found on Pinterest, but I am not sure on the actual origin, so I can only direct you here. So I bring to you 3-Ingredient Bar One Cupcakes.

Teddy awaits a gorgeous Bar One Cupcake

Teddy awaits a gorgeous Bar One Cupcake. He needed some new love…

I followed the same recipe of 1 cup of chocolate-y-ness, 10tbsp flour, and two eggs, but this time it was more challenging. The bar one has to be melted down first, in order for it to be mixed into batter form.

Melty melty Bar Ones. I id it as a Bain-Marie, but with the milk you could probably get away with using a microwave, just don't burn that delicious chocolate

Melty melty Bar Ones. I id it as a Bain-Marie, but with the milk you could probably get away with using a microwave, just don’t burn that delicious chocolate

Some milk is also added so that it keeps its more liquid consistency, which makes the stirring in of the other ingredients easier. Then the flour is added while the melted Bar Ones are still quite warm and runny. This also gives the mixture an opportunity for the mixture to cool down a bit before adding the eggs, to avoid a scrambled egg effect.

This is the chocolate that you must make sure you do not eat. You need it for the recipe. Just keep reminding yourself of that. Trust me, I understand the temptation. This is basically the colour of the completed batter as well

This is the chocolate that you must make sure you do not eat. You need it for the recipe. Just keep reminding yourself of that. Trust me, I understand the temptation. This is basically the colour of the completed batter as well

They rise in quite an interesting way as well. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn, and make sure your pan is well-prepared for all that melted chocolate

They rise in quite an interesting way as well. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn, and make sure your pan is well-prepared for all that melted chocolate

They turned out quite nice, but not as sweet and moist as I had expected. Bearing this in mind, I had a similar outcome when attempting the Nutella version: the muffin/brownie is kind of dry. The end outcome is a subtle chocolate muffin, nothing too special about the flavour, apart from the obvious Bar One undertones in the chocolate flavour of the muffin, which was nice, obviously. It’s a good thing that the muffin itself is not too sweet though…

Check out those sexy muffin-bottoms! Quite an interesting and unintentional effect

Check out those sexy muffin-bottoms! Quite an interesting and unintentional effect

The real star of the show is the Bar One sauce/”frosting”. It’s very sweet, which offsets the subtle muffin and gives the whole thing a really great taste experience. It also adds some texture to the cupcake, and a lot stickier than your conventional frosting. It’s absolutely amazing, in fact.

A simple cupcake with the best sauce-y frosting you could ask for. No wonder Rainbow Teddy has a smile on his face

A simple cupcake with the best sauce-y frosting you could ask for. No wonder Rainbow Teddy has a smile on his face

Please note though, that this recipe makes a humble 6 cupcakes, which is fine if you’re baking for yourself to eat, right? So be sure to double the recipe if it is meant for sharing.

3-Ingredient Bar One Cupcakes 

Makes 6 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 250 g Melted Bar Ones
  • 30 ml Milk
  • 10 tbsp flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50 g melted Bar Ones with dash of milk for the icing

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius, and line a muffin tray
  2. Melt the Bar Ones to a very runny consistency, adding the milk as the mixture requires (it helps to have the milk in early so that stirring is easier)
  3. Remove the melted chocolate and add the flour, mixing until all the flour is well mixed (should not have any white bits visible – a nice smooth consistency). Let mixture cool slightly (must still be runny)
  4. Add the eggs and stir vigorously until ingredients are thoroughly mixed together
  5. Spoon mixture into prepared tray, and bake for 15-20 minutes (be sure not to let muffin edges brown – this will produce a very dry muffin)
  6. Remove muffins and let them cool
  7. Melt remaining 50g of Bar One with a dash of milk (about a tablespoon), stirring continuously to get a smooth mixture
  8. Pour Bar One sauce over muffins. Don’t be too generous as the sauce runs eagerly to the sides of the muffin

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.

Cake day inspiration

20130823-113232.jpg

I don’t know who they are, but the person that decided National Sponge Cake Day should be a thing, had to be one of the brightest people ever. I am very happy right now because of them.

Today the local Indoor Cycling studio is hosting a 12 hour cycle marathon. I am instructing two 1hour sessions. After my first one, I decided I would come celebrate this fine day. On the menu this morning (yes, it was my breakfast, don’t judge me), was a Bar One cake slice accompanied by a Bar One milkshake.

My tummy is in heaven, and my brain has been inspired. Basically this post is just to share this wonderful day with you and warn you that Bar One is likely to permeate my recipes in the near future.