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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Brioche buns

As a child, I used to think I was quite the baker, given that my parents owned a cafe, it felt like I had baker super powers that made me totally wrong was I! On Sundays I would excitedly mix and knead the bread dough, let it rise, bake it, then carefully wrap it in a tea towel and deliver it to my parents, big grin on my face and wait in anticipation of them cracking it open to reveal, steaming hot fluffy bread.... Such was never the case! It was always so hard you could give it to the dog as a chew toy. 
Years later, bread still scares me, I have learnt many things and my cooking skills have improved ten fold, but 
Today, all that changed. I made brioche buns. They were easy. They look great. They taste even better. 
Brioche is a French style bread which I would say is more a bread/pastry hybrid. It's light and fluffy, with a buttery finish. And it's perfect as a burger bun. 
I won't publish the recipe, as it was one I found on a website. That being said, there were a few things I would change, so stay posted for a recipe in the future. In the meantime....what would you fill your brioche with? 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Silverbeet of my heart....

I'm shocking when it comes to planning meals, especially when it comes to using up bits and pieces that we already have in the fridge. It's not that I waste food, I cook things on a whim and it usually doesn't involve ANYTHING I have at home, J on the other hand is marvellous at using up left overs and creating something from nothing. 
There I was at work yesterday, making coffee and I see this man emerge from a car with a pile of silverbeet so big you could barely see him behind it. He was dropping off at the country women's association (CWA) which is right next door to the cafe. I waited a few moments and then RAN next door.... I'm going to make spinach pie for dinner! 
I love making my own pastry. But let's be honest...sometimes there are never enough hours in the day. It had been a long day and there was already a few sheets of ready rolled shortcrust in the freezer. If treated right, ready rolled pastry is a great alternative to making your own. I will however, also include a recipe for shortcrust in case you have time on your hands. 
The filling for the pie was super easy and super tasty, food doesn't have be complicated to taste amazing! 
I simply used my bunch of fresh silverbeet, some pine nuts for texture and some fresh ricotta, mixed it all up with a couple of eggs, and salt & pepper to season. 
I used to favourite pie dish to house the pie, yes....I am aware it's a 'cherry pie' dish, there is just something special about baking a pie in a classic dish, it's just the right height and the way it curves ensures that you always get a thin crunchy crust around the outside of the pie. (Which is MOST important) 
When I was living in melbourne, despite the fact I had to share a kitchen with the cafe I was managing, I collected an array of vintage kitchen items, including quite a few illustrated pie dishes, I had one for ever kind of pie, pecan, lemon meringue, pumpkin, and of course cherry. When we moved back to hobart, sadly a decision had to be made regarding the pie dishes, so I chose my favourite and gifted the others to pie loving homes. 
Make pie not war.... 

Silverbeet&ricotta pie

1 bunch fresh silverbeet
400g fresh ricotta (from the deli) 
1/2 c pine nuts (toasted) 
3 eggs 
Salt&pepper to taste 
2 sheets ready rolled shortcrust pastry
1qty home made shortcrust (see recipe below) 

While your pastry is chilling or defrosting, chop silverbeet roughly and submerge in a pot of boiling water, you want to just wilt it not cook it through. 
Drain and put into a mixing bowl with the eggs, ricotta, and pine nuts. Season to taste. 
When pastry is ready, brush pie dish with butter or spray with non stick spray oil. Line with one sheet of pastry, fill with silverbeet mixture and top with another sheet of pastry. Fork the rim to seal the edges, cut a small hole in the lid to let the steam out , brush with an egg glaze, and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. 
Bake for 20-30 mins at 200c or until golden in colour. 

Shortcrust pastry 
 2 cups (300g) plain flour   
 145g butter
  •  2–3 tablespoons iced water

Process the flour and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. While the motor is running, add enough iced water to form a smooth dough. Knead very lightly then wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. When ready to use, roll out on a lightly floured surface until 3mm (1/8 in) thick. Makes 350g (12 oz), which will line up to a 25cm (10 in) pie dish or tart tin.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A long time coming....

I'm ashamed to say it's been a few months short of 2 years since I've blogged! I think about it everyday, I take pictures everyday of everything I'm doing and say to myself "that one's for the blog".... I go home with the intention of writing a blog and well... There's dinner....and after work chats....and don't even get me started on the cat! The biggest distraction in my life!
So what have I been doing all this time? There was the sisters wedding, in which I was maid of honour and cake maker and mum and I became experts in the art of pierogi making. There has been LOTS of working at the cafe just doing what I do and the occasional birthday cake, I taught myself to make macarons, and every now and then treat the customers to some delicious delights that I just HAD to make! 
It's Tuesday and Tuesdays are my favourite day, because its epicure day! Flipping through epicure this morning I noticed a write up on my fav blogger, Not quite nigella and hence the inspiration to blog today and the motivation I needed to hopefully keep it up. I would love to one day have a successful blog and even a cookbook! 
I'll leave you today with these beautifully oozy beignets I made in the cafe this morning, pronounced ben-yay they are like a fried donut stuffed with chocolate and covered in a mountain if icing sugar, taste like heaven and will hopefully become a regular at the cafe. 
Recipe was found at Joy the baker

3/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 to 4 1/2 cups bread flour, plus about 1 cup extra for flouring the work surface
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Canola oil for frying
Powdered sugar for serving, a lot… about 2 to 3 cups
To start, allow the whole milk and buttermilk to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before bringing this recipe together.
Pour whole milk into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.  Heat until milk is steaming and small bubbles form on the surface.  The milk will be very warm to the touch.  Remove from the heat and pour warm milk into the bowl of an electric stand mixer.  Add buttermilk to the warm milk.  Stir in granulated sugar.  Sprinkle yeast over the milk and sugar mixture.  Stir gently.  Allow milk and yeast mixture to sit for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.  When yeast is active, the tops of the mixture will be slightly foamy and bubbling.
Add flour, baking soda, and salt to the wet ingredients.  Use a dough hook and beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Increase speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes.  This is a very wet dough so the dough will stick to the bottom of the bowl as it is beaten with the dough hook.  Try not to be tempted to add more flour, but is you must, add up to 1/2 cup more flour (the mixture will still be wet).   Stop the mixer and use a spatula to scrape the dough from the bottom of the bowl, ensuring that all of the wet and dry ingredients are thoroughly combined.  Remember:  the dough will be sticky.  AKA:  don’t freak out.  Leave dough in the mixing bowl to rise.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean dish towel.  Allow to rest in a warm place for 1 hour.
Generously flour a work surface with bread flour.  Use a spatula to remove the risen dough from the bowl.  Once dough is on the floured work surface, generously flour the top of the dough.  Gently flatten the dough, fold it in half, then tuck the ends under to create a dough round.  The dough will still be very moist, but as long as your work surface is well-floured, you shouldn’t have any issues.
Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough into a 1/2 to 1/3-inch thick rectangle.  Cover the dough with a clean dish towel and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Using a bench knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch squares.  Stop to flour the knife or pizza cutter as you slice.  Try to separate the slices as you cut them so the dough does not stick together after it is sliced.
Place enough oil in a saucepan to fill it to a depth of about 3-inches.  I used 32 ounces of oil in a 3qt saucepan.  Place a candy thermometer in the oil and heat over medium-high head to 375 degrees F.  Place several layers of paper towel on a clean work surface.  Place a cooling rack (if you have one) atop the paper towels.  This will be our cooling and powder sugar station.  Place powdered sugar is a fine mesh sifter to dust the beignets as they come out of the oil.
Gently add beignets to the hot oil.  Try not to overcrowd the pan, I could fit three beignets at a time in my pan.  Fry until golden brown on both sides, flipping them once or twice during frying, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from oil and place on cooling rack.  Immediately dust with a generous amount of powdered sugar.
Before frying more batches of beignets make sure the oil is at 375 degrees F.  Fry until all dough is cooked through and dusted with sugar.  Serve immediately.  These beignets are best (as most things are) straight from the fryer.  These beignets are best the day they’re made, very soon after frying.
To Make the beignets ahead:
The beignet dough can be made up to 8 hours in advance of frying. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. After cutting the dough, place the beignets on the paper and place another greased sheet of parchment paper, sprayed-side down, on top. Wrap the entire baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The beignets can be fried straight from the refrigerator.

Monday, November 21, 2011


On Sunday I decided to have another go at making my own phyllo pastry. Growing up, one of my favorite dishes was gibanica. It's a Yugoslav dish which is kind of like spanakopita but without the spinach. Essentially it's a cheese pie made with ricotta, cottage cheese and eggs, layered with phyllo pastry and baked. When I was living in Melbourne I discovered this amazing home made phyllo pastry and decided that it was so much better than the stuff you buy in the supermarket!
It is time consuming but the end result is so worth it.
You can make as much or as little pastry as you like, using a 2 parts flour to 1 part water ratio with a pinch of salt. Just get a feel for the dough, it should be firm but still a little tacky. Rub some oil over the surface and let it sit for an hour.
To roll the pastry you'll need to put down an old sheet or table cloth and remember a little gies a long way.
Start by rolling with a rolling pin and when it starts to thin out, you'll need to start gently pulling at the dough and stretching outwards, letting it cling to the fabric. It takes a bit if practice and patience but just remember it doesn't have to resemble the stuff you buy in the supermarket, keep stretching until the dough is paper thin.

500g fresh ricotta(firm)
500g cottage cheese( not creamed)
2 eggs
Salt&pepper to taste

Use any baking dish you like. The smaller, the higher your slice will be.
Start with a layer of pasty and spoon some of your cheese mixture on top, continue layering, brush the top with some melted butter. Bake @ 180 c for about 40 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and crispy.

I made a nice salad with lettuce straight from the garden and it was the perfect Sunday night meal <3

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Beetroot and chocolate brownie

Every Sunday mum and I go to our local farmers market to get fresh veggies for the cafe, last week I picked up a beautiful bunch of organic baby beetroots, with the thought of having a go at making beetroot chocolate brownies. Not being game to make it up as I go, I searched for a recipe that inspired me and I found a really simple one from River Cottage.


250g butter, unsalted
250g dark chocolate
3 eggs
250g caster sugar
Pinch salt
150g self-raising flour
250g cooked and pureed beetroot

Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Grease a baking tray 23cm square, or similar.
Melt the butter and chocolate in the warming oven, or over a pan of hot water.
In another bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together, then pour in the melted chocolate and butter. Sift in salt and flour and fold to combine. Fold in the beetroot. (Try not to overwork the mixture).
Pour into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes. You want the end result to be a little sticky and a little dense. Don't be too concerned if this brownie seems a little cakey at first, once it's cooled it will settle and turn into a delightfully moist brownie. <3

Monday, July 18, 2011

My daily escape

Baking is my escape....actually anything domestic is an escape for me. When i've had a bad day i go home and clean my house....even if it's already clean, it's something about the sound of my hoover that washes all that bad energy away. When i'm feeling inspired i bake. I remember when i was little, sunday was my favourite day of the week. Mum would help us make something, my sister and i would love to make a bag or a scrunchie or a loaf of bread...which was always so hard you could throw it against a wall and it still wouldn't break! But we were always encouraged to be creative. As we got older my sister found her niche in sewing and i found mine in baking. I am so lucky that i get to be creative everyday and have the freedom to try something new on a whim. Some of you might just think i work in a cafe and that's not really a career but i see myself as one of the luckiest people! I get to wake up everyday and do something that i love. i get to decide what muffins people will drool over, will i make some lemon tarts today? maybe some whoopie pies? the possibilities are endless and my world is filled with inspiration.....who wouldn't want that?
I've been wanting to start this blog for a while now, I want to share and learn and be excited.