Sweet potato tarte tatin

Sweet potato tarte tatin

A quick one today, because I’m typing this up before I head to Australia on vacation for a couple of weeks. Our Daring Bakers challenge for March was that French delight, Tarte Tatin. I have made plenty of apple and pear ones, and a savoury tomato version, so I wanted to try something new and went for sweet potatoes. This is a scrumptious dessert!

Rough Puff Pastry: 15 minutes plus 1 hour chilling time (or overnight)
Tarte Tatin: about 90 minutes for prep, cooking and baking

Rough puff pastry

1 cup (250 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour
2/3 cup (160 ml) (5 oz) (140 gm) unsalted butter, cold
¼ tsp fine salt
¼ cup (60 ml) ice cold water

In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. With a pastry blender (or two table knives) cut in the butter until the mixture in crumbly but even, with pea-sized pieces of butter. Make a well in the middle and pour in the ice cold water. Toss the flour/butter and water together with a fork until the dough starts to clump together.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface – don’t worry if there are still pockets of dry flour. Gently knead and squeeze the mixture a few times just enough to bring it together into a square (a bench scraper is helpful for this). Be careful not to overwork the dough: there should be visible bits of butter and it should still look very rough.

Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a rectangle about 25cm (10″) long. Fold the bottom third of the dough up into the middle, and fold the top third down, like you are folding a letter. This is one fold. Turn the dough a one quarter turn so that one of the open edges is facing you, and roll out again into a 10” (25 cm) rectangle. Fold again – this is the second fold. Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times, for 5 folds total. Your dough will get smoother and neater looking with each fold.

Note: If your kitchen is very warm and the dough gets too soft/sticky to do all the folds at once, chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes between folds.

After the fifth fold, use your rolling pin to tap the dough into a neat square. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for a least 1 hour, or overnight.

Tarte tatin

3-4 sweet potatoes, about 550g (about 20oz)
juice of half a lemon
85g (6 Tbsp) unsalted butter
200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
rough puff pastry, above

Peel and slice the sweet potatoes into 1.5 – 2cm (3/5 – 4/5″) discs, toss with lemon juice in a bowl and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375˚F).

Melt the butter in a very heavy, 23 cm or 24 cm (9” or 10”) oven-proof skillet over medium heat, then sprinkle with the sugar. Stir with a whisk until the sugar melts and becomes a pale, smooth caramel. The sugar will seem dry and chunky at first, then will start to melt and smooth out. If the butter appears to separate out from the caramel, just keep whisking until it is a cohesive sauce.

Drain the sweet potatoes, arrange in the pan and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, turning them once after 10 minutes. Move the slices around the pan gently so that they all cook evenly. When they are starting to soften but still keep their shape, remove the pan from the heat. Set aside until the filling stops steaming before covering with pastry.

Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, and trim it into a circle a little larger than your pan. Lay it over the filling, tucking in the edges between the filling and the sides of the pan, and cut a few steam vents in the pastry.

Place on a rimmed baking sheet (just in case the filling decides to bubble over the sides) and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, increasing the oven temperature a little during the last 5 – 10 minutes of baking if the pastry isn’t browning properly.

Remove from the oven and let sit just until the caramel stops bubbling. Immediately place a serving platter (slightly larger in diameter than the pan) over the pastry. Wearing oven mitts, grab hold of the pan and platter and quickly invert everything to unmold the Tatin onto the platter. If any of the pieces stick to the pan or come out of place, rearrange them with a spatula. The tarte Tatin can be served warm from the oven or at room temperature. Suggested accompaniments include vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or crème fraîche.

*****

Daring Kitchen blog-checking lines: For the March Daring bakers’ challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchen taught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She  challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch.

The original apple tarte tatin recipe can be found here.

Posted in daring bakers, dessert, pastry | 2 Comments

Banana split cupcakes

Got overripe bananas in your fruit basket? Fed up to the back teeth with banana bread? Have I got a treat for you!

Banana split cupcakes

Banana split cupcakes with chocolate chips and a strawberry swirl, topped with a simple creamy frosting and completed with a cherry. The cupcakes are made with all the flavours of a banana split, including the ice cream! A fun and delicious cupcake for a kid’s party, a picnic or a lunchbox surprise – it’s a banana split that won’t melt or give you brainfreeze ;)

Makes 12
Preparation 10 minutes
Baking 30 minutes
Cooling & frosting about 1 hour

Ingredients

240ml (1 cup) melted vanilla ice-cream
100g (1/2 cup) granulated (white) sugar
1 large egg
2 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
250g (2 cups, spooned and scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
80g (1/2 cup) chocolate bits
75g (1/4 cup) strawberry jam, warmed and stirred until smooth

Frosting

125g (1 cup) powdered (icing or confectioners’) sugar
2 – 3 Tbsp whole cream (or milk)
6 glacé cherries, halved

Directions

Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F). Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper liners, or grease well.

Beat melted ice cream and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add egg and beat well.

Stir in mashed bananas.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, toss through chocolate chips, and fold into banana mixture until just combined and there are no traces of flour left.

Spoon batter into muffin liners.

Drop a little of the strawberry jam on the top of each muffin and swirl in a little with the flat side of a butter knife.

Bake in centre of oven for 30 – 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove from tins to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting

Mix together the powdered sugar with enough cream to get a spreading consistency. Smear over the tops of the muffins and top with half a glacé cherry.

Allow frosting to set for about half an hour.

Posted in cake, dessert, ice cream, muffin, snack, sweet | Leave a comment

Baked maple syrup & strawberry jam oatmeal

The February Daring Cooks challenge was to make porridge of some description. Twice, actually, in order to perfect your technique. After years of seeing baked oatmeal all over the internet and wanting to try it, I finally had the opportunity! My first go was a complete bust, so we will not speak of it again. But this one was a delicious, warm, sweet success :)

Baked maple syrup & strawberry jam oatmeal

I have never been a big fan of stove-top porridge, always needing to absolutely drown it in milk and sugar to try to make up for the texture, but this really is something else altogether. The texture is a lot like a moist cake, and the maple syrup adds such a wonderful flavour without the need for refined sugar. And served with a dollop of thoroughly decadent cream, it’s like dessert for breakfast!

Serves 8, but keeps in the fridge for several days and reheats well
Preparation 5 minutes
Baking 50 minutes

Ingredients

250g (2 cups) rolled oats – I used oat flakes (thinly rolled, chopped oats)
1 tsp baking powder
pinch fine salt
500ml (2 cups) milk
2 large eggs
250ml (1 cup) maple syrup
45g (3 Tbsp) butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
150g (1/2 cup) strawberry jam, warmed

strawberries, rinsed, hulled and halved
double cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F) and butter a medium-sized casserole dish.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, syrup and melted butter.

Add the oats, baking powder and salt, and mix until well combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and dollop the jam into it.

Bake for about 50 minutes, until it springs back when touched and is lightly browned on top.

Serve with more maple syrup, a pile of strawberries and a dollop of cream.

*****

Daring Kitchen blog-checking lines: For the March Daring Cooks’ challenge, Ruth from Makey Cakey invited us to start the day with something filling, warm and nutritious. We got to experiment with different techniques and flavorings to create our own perfect personal porridge.

See the original recipe here.

Posted in breakfast, pudding | 2 Comments

Dalek cupcakes

Today marks my 4th blogiversary. How time flies!

 photo dalek_final_zpsfddpmozg.jpg

I actually made these Dalek cupcakes on Christmas day, to eat while we watched the Doctor Who Christmas special, but needed a good excuse to post something so fangirly! So, without further ado… because who needs ado when you have Daleks?

Materials

For 12 Daleks:
18 toothpicks cut in halves
Silver sugar balls… what the Doctor described as “edible ball bearings”
12 cupcake liners or a 12 hole muffin tin
Small square or rectangular cake pan – mine was 16 x 25cm (6 x 10″)
12 hole cakepop pan
4 – 5cm (1 1/2 – 2″) round cookie cutter
Optional 12 small foil pie plates, flattened, for stands

Devil’s food cake for bases, middle sections and heads

Adapted from Martha

You’ll be making:
12 cupcakes
12 hemispheres (using a cakepop pan)
12 discs cut from a small sheet cake

 photo dalek_04_zpsbdikg2jm.jpg

65g (3/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
180ml (3/4 cup) hot water
375g (3 cups) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp fine salt
340g (1 1/2 cups or 3 sticks) unsalted butter
450g (2 1/4 cups) sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tbsp plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
200g (scant cup) sour cream, room temperature

Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). On two baking trays, set out 12 paper liners, 12 half cakepop molds, and grease a small cake pan and line the base with parchment.

In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, about 5 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined.

Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among liners and cakepop molds, filling each three-quarters full, and pour the remaining bater into the small cake pan. Bake, rotating trays and swapping shelves after 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in centre of one of the cupcakes comes out clean, 25 – 30 minutes.

Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Trim any uneven surfaces and use a 4 – 5cm (1 1/2 – 2″) round cookie cutter to cut 12 pieces from the square/rectangular cake.

“Glue” for joining pieces together

65g (1/2 cup unsifted) confectioner’s (icing or powdered) sugar
1 tsp cocoa powder
2 – 3 tsp milk

Mix together the sugar and cocoa, then add milk by dashes until you get a thick, spreadable consistency.

Use a smear on the underside of the middle sections to glue them to the bases, then do the same with the heads.

 photo dalek_01_zpsknbg2rwj.jpg

Chocolate buttercream frosting

Adapted from addapinch

115g (1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, room temperature
30g (1/3 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
200g (1 2/3 cups unsifted) confectioner’s (icing or powdered) sugar
45ml (3 Tbsp) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift cocoa into a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer.

Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well combined.

Alternately add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture – 1 cup of sugar followed by a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer up to high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.

Add vanilla extract and combine well.

Add additional milk or sugar as required until you get a good spreading consistency.

Use a small spatula (like one for working with fondant) to spread a layer of frosting all over your Daleks.

Take a tablespoon of the frosting and add enough additional powdered sugar to make a fondant consistency, then roll little balls for the eye stalk and right arm. Leave the left arm as is. Decorate with edible ball bearings.

Posted in cake, dessert, sweet | 4 Comments

Triple chocolate mud cake and baking as therapy

Milk and white chocolate two-toned mud cake with dark chocolate fudge frosting.

Triple chocolate mud cake

When I want to celebrate something, I dive into the kitchen to construct something fun. Similarly, when life hands me something bad, I turn to the solace of baking, where I can focus my mind and energy on creating something special to share with those around me.

We lost a dearly beloved family member this week to leukaemia and, being so far away and therefore unable to be with my family at this terrible time, I needed to do something other than sit and tearfully peruse the numerous heartfelt tributes on facebook, so I retreated to the kitchen.

Every bite is filled with love.

Makes a 24cm (10″) cake
Preparation about 1 hour
Baking about 1 hour
Cooling and frosting about 1 hour

White chocolate batter

100g (7 Tbsp) unsalted butter, diced
100g (3 1/2oz) white chocolate, chopped
100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) dark brown sugar
90ml (6 Tbsp) hot water
1 Tbsp golden (cane) syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
150g (1 cup + 1 heaping Tbsp) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Milk chocolate batter

100g (7 Tbsp) unsalted butter, diced
100g (3 1/2 oz) milk chocolate, chopped
100g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) dark brown sugar
90ml (6 Tbsp) hot water
1 Tbsp treacle or molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
150g (1 cup + 1 heaping Tbsp) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F). Grease a round 24cm (10″) springform cake pan and line base and side with baking paper.

You need to make 2 separate batters, so follow the instructions for each batter… although it means a lot of washing up at the end, I recommend making them at the same time. If you use double-acting baking powder, it will start to activate too soon in the batter that you make first.

Place butter, chocolate, sugar, water, syrup/treacle and vanilla extract in a medium, heavy-based saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat with a wooden spoon or spatula for about 3 minutes, until the butter and chocolate have melted, the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth (it will be the consistency of syrup). Pour into a mixing bowl and set aside to cool for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add egg and beat well.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt, then sprinkle over wet ingredients and whisk to combine.

Pour the milk chocolate batter into the pan, then pour the white chocolate batter over the top then swirl in by slicing right across the pan 4 times or so with a spatula (the front edge of the blade, not the flat side).

Bake in centre of oven for about 55 – 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out damp but with no more than a crumb or two.

Cool cake in pan cake for 20 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Dark chocolate fudge frosting

115g (1 stick or 1/2 cup) butter
250g (9 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
125g (1 cup unsifted) powdered (confectioners’ or icing) sugar

Place butter and chocolate into a medium saucepan over low heat, and stir gently until melted. Stir in vanilla.

Sift sugar and gradually add to chocolate mixture while beating with an electric hand mixer.

Allow to cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally – it should thicken significantly, but if not you can add a couple more tablespoons of powdered sugar. Give it good beat before using, to lighten it up.

Transfer cooled cake to a serving plate and spread frosting over top and sides with an offset spatula.

Posted in cake, dessert, snack, sweet | 6 Comments

Sandwich bread with wholemeal & rye

Rich, soft sandwich bread loaded with flavour, using 2 parts white bread flour, 2 parts wholemeal flour and 1 part rye flour, with a dash of treacle for depth.

This is sandwich bread as it should be!

Sandwich bread with wholemeal & rye

This bread is easily done in a day, although I tend to do the slow overnight rise in the fridge because I think it yields a better bread with a softer crumb and a richer taste when you let the yeast work slowly.

Makes 2 medium loaves

Ingredients

240g (2 scant cups) bread flour
240g (2 scant cups) wholemeal flour
120g (1 scant cup) rye flour
1 x 7g sachet (2 1/4 tsp) instant dry yeast
400g (1 2/3 cups) tepid water
30ml (2 Tbsp) sunflower oil
30ml (2 Tbsp) black treacle (molasses)
9g (1 1/2 tsp) salt

extra sunflower oil for pans

Directions

Mix together flours, yeast and water in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and rest for about 30 minutes.

Mix oil and treacle into dough, then add salt and knead until smooth and soft, 8 – 10 minutes.

Transfer to a clean, lightly oiled bowl and allow to rise until doubled, about an hour, or put it in a plastic container, cover tightly and leave in the fridge overnight.

Lightly oil 2 x 20cm (8″) loaf tins.

Turn dough out onto a lightly oiled surface, knead together gently and cut in half. Stretch each piece out to a square, about 20 x 20cm (8 x 8”), fold the top third down and pinch the seam closed, fold the bottom third up and pinch the seam closed, then place seam side down in the tins.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature until they have doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour, although it could take two hours if the dough was refrigerated.

Preheat oven to 220°C (430°F).

Reduce oven temperature to 190°C (375°F) and place both loaves in centre of oven. Bake for 30 minutes, until deep brown and hollow sounding when tapped underneath.

Remove from tins to a wire rack to cool completely.

Posted in bread | 7 Comments

Middle Eastern feast

The February Daring Cook’s challenge was to make a Middle Eastern breakfast. I’ll admit straight up that we had ours for a sort of late-lunch-dinner because there just wasn’t an opportunity during the month for a weekend morning-brunch affair. But despite being at totally the wrong time of day, the whole thing was absolutely amazing!

Middle eastern feast

According to the rules of the challenge, we had to make 3 elements of the feast from scratch, so I made Ful Medames (fava beans), Tabbouleh, pan-fried halloumi and hommos. I won’t repeat the hommos recipe here, except to tell you that I these days add olive oil instead of water to my old recipe to get it creamier.

Ful Medames (fava beans)

2 x 400g cans (2 x 14 oz) Ful Medames (cooked fava beans)
1 medium tomato, seeded and finely chopped
2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
80ml (1/3 cup) tahini
juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 – 2 tsp cold water for the tahini sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on top

Drain and rinse beans and add to a medium pan with 1 can of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes letting much of the water evaporate. Mash a bit with a fork or potato masher, leaving some whole.

Remove from heat and add tomato and about 3/4 of the spring onions and the parsley.

In a separate small bowl mix tahini, garlic, salt, lemon juice and enough cold water to get the consistency of thick cream.

Add tahini mixture to beans.

Pour mixture into a serving plate, top with remaining spring onions, and drizzle with olive oil.

Serve warm.

Tabbouleh

1/2 cup bulgur
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 medium tomato, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 red pepper (capsicum), finely chopped
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
pinch saltalt

Boil the bulghur in about 2 cups water for 5 minutes, then drain well.

Mix all the ingredients together and adjust lemon and salt to your taste.

It’s best when left to sit for a couple of hours.

*****

Daring Kitchen blog checking lines: For the February daring cooks challenge, Manal from Manal’s Bites invited us to celebrate the most important meal of the day Middle Eastern style!

The original challenge post with more recipes can be found here.

Posted in breakfast, daring cooks, dip, lunch, salad | 5 Comments