Monthly Archives: March 2013

Easter Biscuits

Easter BiscuitsWell, it’s Easter weekend so I couldn’t resist baking some Easter Biscuits to have with our morning coffee.  Traditionally these are biscuits that would be given as gits on Easter Sunday.  These biscuits are as easy to whip together as something like a scone, and are delicious!  This recipe makes about 30 biscuits.

Easter Biscuits

Ingredients

2 C flour
1 t baking powder
125gm butter
½ C sugar
¼ C currants
¼ t cinnamon
¼ t grated lemon rind
1 egg

Method

  1. Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl.
  2. Cut in butter until it resembles find bread crumbs.
  3. Add sugar, currants, cinnamon and lemon rind.
  4. Lightly beat egg.  Add to dry ingredients, mixing to form a stiff dough.
  5. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board.  Roll out to 4mm thickness.  Cut rounds using a  7 cm scone or biscuit cutter.
  6. Place biscuits on a greased oven tray.  Bake at 180oC for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  7. Either dust with suger as soon as they come out of the oven, or dust with icing sugar when serving.

Easter Weekend = Hot Cross Buns!

120406 Hot Cross BunsOne of the great things about holidays is the traditional food that accompanies them…and other than the obvious; chocolate eggs, Easter has to have Hot Cross Buns!

I’ve tried various recipes over the years, and this is the best one so far and it also comes with a recipe for the crosses.

If you haven’t made Hot Cross Buns (or any bread really) I encourage you to read the tips below as one of the trickiest things about making bread is the rising of the dough.

Tips

  1. Ensure the room you are working in is warm or that you have a warm place to put the dough to rise before you begin.  Some options are:
    – In the sun on the bench
    – In a sink of warm water
    – In the hot water cupboard
    – In an electric oven heated to 95°C for 1 minute then turned off.
    – On a heated wheat sack (don’t heat the sack too much, and don’t put the bowl directly on the sack so put the sack in a container, and then the bowl of yeast sitting on that.
    – Set over a pan of hot water placed on the bottom shelf of a closed oven.
    – Inside a turned-off clothes dryer that has been run on the hot cycle for one minute.
    – Boil 2 cups water in a bowl in your microwave to create a warm moist environment, then turn off the power, put the dough inside and close the door.
  2. Wherever you chose to let the dough rise, ensure that it is draught-free.  Draughts cause the dough to rise unevenly and slowly.
  3. Use a clear glass container with straight sides for rising dough makes it easy to see when it’s doubled in size. Use a marking pen or piece of masking tape to mark where it was when it started.
  4. To test it after the first rise, poke two fingers into the dough about 2½ centimetres. If the indentations stay, the dough’s ready. The finger poke method is only good for the first rise.

This recipie makes 20 buns.

Dough

Ingredients

1 cup milk
½ cup hot water
2 T sugar 2 Tbsp dried yeast
2 C flour
100g butter (softened)
½ C sugar
1 egg
1 t salt
2 T mixed spice
1 t grated nutmeg
1 t vanilla
1 C mixed fruit
2-3 C flour

Paste for the crosses

½ C flour
2 T oil
½ C water

Glaze

2 T sugar
2 T water

Method

1/ Place the milk, hot water and 2 T sugar in a large bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
2/ Check that this mixture is lukewarm.  (Adjust the liquid by placing the bowl in either a sink of cold water if it is too hot or a sink of warm water if it is too cold.)
3/ Sprinkle the yeast into the liquid and let it stand for 3 minutes, then stir to break up any lumps.
4/ Add 2 cups of flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth. This mixture is quite sloppy and you should be able to see bubbles coming up out of the mixture. The bubbles prove that the yeast is growing.
5/ Stand this mixture to rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

6/ In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until it is pale and creamy in colour.
7/ Add the egg, salt, mixed spice, nutmeg and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
8/ Mix in the dried fruit.
9/ When the yeast mixture has doubled in size, add it to the creamed mixture with another 2-3 cups of flour.
10/ Mix well using a wooden spoon or a dough hook on your cake mixer.  The mixture should be a soft ball that can be kneaded. Add extra flour if the mixture is still sloppy.
10a/ If you do not have a dough hook, knead the dough by hand. To do this, lightly sprinkle flour on a clean bench and place the ball of dough in the middle of the flour. Flatten the ball with your hand, then with your fingers pull the edges of the ball into the middle and press it down lightly. You should be able to get into a rhythm when you knead the dough in this way and it takes about 10 minutes to complete this.  When the dough is smooth and shiny, you have kneaded it enough. Be careful not to mix too much extra flour in during the process.
11/ Press the ball of dough into a rectangle 25cm by 30cm and 2cm thick.
12/ Cut the dough into 20 squares and roll each into a ball shape.
13/ Place on a greased oven tray or slice tin. Space them 1-2 cm apart to allow for rising and spreading. Cover lightly with a tea towel.
14/ Leave them in a warm place to rise until they are double in volume. Takes about 1 ¾ hours (1 hour over hot water). (See tips above for ideas on how to get the best results).

15/ Make the paste for the crosses by mixing the oil and flour into a smooth paste. Add extra water if needed. It should be smooth and just thick enough to squeeze through a nozzle or a ½ cm hole cut in the corner of a plastic bag.
16/ When the buns have doubled in size, use a very sharp knife or clean box cutter to lightly mark a cross on each bun, then pipe a cross using the paste.
17/ Bake the buns at 180o fanbake for 10-15 minutes or until they are lightly browned.

18/ To glaze the buns, dissolve the sugar in the water then brush the glaze over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven.

Beautiful Handmade Jewelry Sale!

With the change of seasons upon us, I thought it would be a good chance to have a bit of clear out of stock, and what better way of doing that than having a SALE?

To this end, I have updated all the pricing on my website, and

REDUCED EVERYTHING BY 40%!

Check it out at my website www.moorebeads.co.nz

The Best Chocolate Cupcakes You’ll Ever Eat!!!

Choc Cupcakes 4Every time I tune to the Food Channel there seems to be programs and advertising for Cupcake shows…..Cupcake Wars, The Cupcake Girls, Charly’s Cake Angels……  They are definitely ‘trendy’ right now; and who wouldn’t like gorgeous little mini cakes topped with decadent frosting?

Wanting to be considered up with the “trendy lane”, I’ve now baked a few doezen cupcakes; however it would be fair to say that I haven’t been too adventurous yet on this front in terms of tastes and styles.  I think that this is because very early on I found THE most amazing recipe that always leaves the consumers of these little gems begging for more!  And of course the like all amazing recipes, it is super easy!

Before we launch into the recipe though, let’s just quickly talk about the whisky.  My husband loves single malt whisky so we usually have some in the house, and now the Glenfiddich 12 year old is officially called my “Baking Whisky”.  Glenfiddich 12 year old isn’t the cheapest whisky, but you do have to be a bit careful about trying an alternative.  I once used a Laphroaig 10 year old, but it is a very peaty whisky and the flavour over-powered the cocoa.  You also don’t want to go for something that is too ‘alcohol’ tasting.  If you aren’t sure, you could chat with your local bottle store owner and see what they would recommend.  Failing that, you could try orange juice….I haven’t yet, but it’s on my list of things to do so I’ll report back once I do.

Just in case you didn’t know, the alcohol burns off when cooked so you can safely pig out on way too many and still drive your car afterwards. 😉

This recipe also makes an amazing Chocolate Cake.  Use a 23cm Spring Form cake tin and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

For ideas on how to frost your cupcakes, keep an eye out for my next post!

Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients

2/3 C cocoa
1 t vanilla essence
100ml Glenfiddich 12 year old whisky
1 C boiling water
2 eggs
2 C caster sugar
½ C sunflower oil
1 C buttermilk
2 C plain flour
¼ t salt
2 t baking soda

Method

Choc Cupcakes 1Preheat oven to 180oC.  Line muffin cups with paper cupcake cases.  See Cupcake Case guide below for volume.

In a bowl, whisk together the cocoa, vanilla essence, whisky and boiling water.
Beat eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in sunflower oil.

Add buttermilk and hot water mixture

Choc Cupcakes 3Sift flour, salt and baking soda into the bowl and beat for a minute or more until shiny.  The mixture will be very wet.  Use a whisk for this bit if you still have lumps of flour.

Spoon mixture into the prepared cupcake cases so they are about 90% full and bake depending on size, as per below.

Cupcake Case Guide

Size Makes Cooking time
Regular (Sml) (70mm x 30mm) 24 15 mins
Regular (Lge) (75mm x x33mm)  23-24  20 mins
Texas (80mm x 40mm)  12  27 mins

Lemon Meringue Pie Delight!

Lemon Meringue 9Generally speaking, I love all things ‘Citrus’.  Madeira Cake, Lemon Pound Cake, Lemon Tarts, and of course the infamous Lemon Meringue Pie.

I have to admit that the first time I made a Lemon Meringue Pie, I was feeling quite daunted by the prospect; I didn’t have much experience in baking pies or meringues.  However I was happy to discover that they are really pretty straight forward, and will never fail to impress your dinner guests.

The recipe that I use is from the Edmond’s Cookbook.  It’s important to note at this point that the Edmond’s Cookbook as evolved over the years, and sometimes they change their recipes.  The newer versions tend to state something along the lines of “zest and juice from 3 lemons”.  The problem with this is that it depends on how juicy your lemons are on how much juice you get.  And of course, the size will tend to dictate how much zest you get from them.  Essentially you risk not having a very ‘lemony’ filling.  The recipe in my book says 2 teaspoons of grated lemon rind and ½ cup of lemon juice and produces a very nice lemony flavour.

Ok, first step is to take your eggs out of the fridge (cold egg whites just won’t cut the mustard here!), the next step is the pastry.  Let’s be realistic about this one.  Either you’re in the mood to make pastry or you’re not.  Or maybe you just don’t have enough time.  So, go on…..get the store bought pasty out of the freezer…I won’t judge.  (…really, I won’t…..I have store bought in my freezer too!).   For this pie I use the sheets of short sweet pastry.  One 12” square sheet will be enough.  I do roll it out a bit so that it fits my tin.

If, however, you are rubbing your hands together in anticipation of making pastry, here’s the recipe that I use.  It’s the one that my mother uses, and she is a “never-fail-pastry-maker” extraordinaire!  You can tell it’s old school with the ounce measurements, so I’ve converted them to grams too.

Short Sweet Pastry

Ingredients

4oz Butter (113gm)
8oz Flour (226gm)
1 T Sugar
3 T Chilled Water

Method

Combine flour in a bowl and rub in butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (or use a food processor to do this).  Add the sugar.
Add enough water to combine into a firm dough. (if using food processor, use the Pulse function)
Knead lightly to bring mixture together.

There are some general rules around pastry making that my mother has taught me:

1: Use chilled butter chopped into small cubes
2: Sift the flour to incorporate air
3: Use chilled water and only add one tablespoon at a time….some days you’ll need a little less, some days a little more…..Don’t add too much water or the dough will be tough.
4: Handle as little as possible – especially important if you are making this by hand
5: Let it sit wrapped in plastic wrap for 20-30 minutes before rolling out (pop it in the fridge if it’s a hot day)

I had a quick Google and found that the wonderful Delia Smith has written up some advice on her website.

Mini MeringueOk, now onto the actual pie making bit.  The recipe that I use is posted below.  If you want to have a little bit of fun with the meringue ‘look’ try popping half of it in a piping bag.  Spread half of the mixture over the filling, then go crazy with an interesting nozzle and pipe the remaining meringue on.  When it browns up it can look really pretty.

The recipe says it serves 6, but I find that I can easily get 8 slices out of it.  It’s a pretty full on pie and sometimes a little can go a long way.  This recipe can also be spread over 6 mini meringue pies.

One last tip…….put your finished pie in the fridge and make sure that it is chilled before you cut into it.  If you don’t, the filling will flow onto the plate where you just cut a slice.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Ingredients

Short Sweet pastry for pie shell.

Filling
¼ C cornflour
1 C sugar
2 t grated lemon rind
½ C lemon juice
¾ C water
3 eggs, separated
1 T butter

Topping
¼ C caster sugar
¼ t vanilla essence

Method

Pie Shell
Lemon Meringue 1On a lightly floured board roll out pastry to 5-6 mm thickness. Use to line a 20 cm flan ring (You can use a 23cm spring-form cake tin if you want)
Trim off any excess pastry (If using a cake tin, I push the pastry up the side an inch or so, then tidy up with a knife)
Bake blind at 190°C for 15-20 minutes.
Remove baking blind material.
Return pastry shell to oven for 1 minute to dry out pastry base.

If I haven’t used a spring-form tin I let the pie shell cool a bit then tip it out of the tin and place it on a baking tray before putting the filling in.

Filling

Lemon Meringue 3aBlend cornflour, sugar, lemon rind and juice together until smooth, then add water.
Cook over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly (I tend to let it boil for 2-3 minutes to make sure it really thickens up)

Lemon Meringue 5Remove from heat.
Stir in yolks and butter until melted.

Topping

Lemon Meringue 6Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry
Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until very thick and glossy.
Stir in vanilla.

Lemon Meringue 7a

Pour filling into cooked pastry base.
Spoon meringue topping over lemon filling.
Return to oven and bake at 190°C for 10 minutes or until golden.

Raised Flower on Granny Square #1

Flower 1.6In an earlier post I showed how to make a granny square with a round center. The real reason was so that I could experiment with making granny squares with a raised flower on it. This is the first of a series of postings on the different types of flowers I have designed.

For this flower, you can complete the square first, or stop after round 3, make the flower, and then continue with rounds 4 up.

If you want to download a printable version of this pattern, here is the PDF: Raised Flower on Granny Square Pattern

Raised Flower for Granny Square 1

MATERIALS
6 coloured yarns.  (Colour 5 is the colour that will be the colour that you will sew all of the squares together with.)

ABBREVIATIONS
Beg = Beginning.
Ch = Chain.
Dc = Double crochet.
Rep = Repeat.
Rnd(s) = Round(s).
Sc = Single crochet.
Sl st = Slip stitch.
Sp(s) = Space(s).
St(s) = Stitch(es).

INSTRUCTIONS
Note: Ch 2 at beg of rnd counts as dc.

Round 1: (Colour 1) Start with a magic ring, Ch 2, 11 dc in ring. Pull ring tight, sl st to join to the 2nd chain stitch and finish off.

Round 2: (Colour 2) Join. Ch. 2, 1 dc, 1 ch, (2 dc, 1 ch) 11 times, sl st to join to the 2nd chain stitch from foundation loop. Finish off.

Granny Square 1.1

Round 3: (Colour 3) Join. Ch. 2, 2 dc, 1 ch, (3 dc, 1 ch) 11 times, sl st to join to the 2nd chain stitch from foundation loop. Finish off.

Round 3

Round 4: (Colour 4)  Join.Ch 2, work corner (2 dc in sp, 3 ch, 3 dc) in same sp, *1 ch, 3 hdc in next sp, rep from * 1 more time, 1 ch, work corner (3 dc, 3 ch, 3 dc); rep from * two more times, **1 ch, 3 hdc in next sp, rep from ** 1 more time 1 ch, sl st to join to the 2nd chain stitch you crocheted at the beginning of the round. (Do not finish off colour).

Round 4

Round 5: (Colour 4) Work 2 sl sts so that your crochet hook is adjacent to the sp formed by the closest set of chain sts in the corner. Ch 2, work corner (2 dc in sp, 2 ch, 3 dc) in same sp, *1 ch, 3 dc in next sp, rep from * 2 more times, 1 ch, work corner (3 dc, 2 ch, 3 dc); rep from * two more times, **1 ch, 3 dc in next sp, rep from ** 2 more times 1 ch, sl st to join to the 2nd chain stitch you crocheted at the beginning of the round. Finish off.

Round 5

Round 6: (Colour 5) Join in a corner. Ch 2, work corner (2 dc in sp, 2 ch, 3 dc) in same sp, *1 ch, 3 dc in next sp, rep from * 3 more times, 1 ch, work corner (3 dc, 2 ch, 3 dc); rep from * two more times, **1 ch, 3 dc in next sp, rep from ** 3 more times 1 ch, sl st to join to the 2nd chain stitch you crocheted at the beginning of the round. Finish off.

Granny Square 1.14

Flower

Round 1: (Colour 6) Attach yarn to middle st of a 3 dc groups on round 3

Flower 1.1a

*Chain 3, sl st to middle stitch of next 3 dc group.  Repeat from * 11 times.

Flower 1.3a

Sl st to beg.

Round 2: *sc, hdc, 3 dc, hdc, sc, repeat from * 11 times.  Sl st to beg and finish off.

Flower 1.5a