Passionfruit Cheesecake

no-cream, no-egg baked cheesecake

Lately, I’ve noticed my shopping habits have changed. Since a young child, I maintained the idea of “more value for money” means you’re a better shopper. I remember seeing this in my mum, too. And I remember when she also started changing her ideas on this.

When everyone was living at home, our family was pretty big, so the concept worked to a degree. But there were just some things that fell out of the rule. The most prominent example to memory is the Kraft jar of cream cheese my mum bought for us in her weekly shopping. She used to buy the larger sized jar, because we ate most of it throughout the week, and bonus: it was more value for money. Then one day we kind of all stopped. Like our tastebuds and stomachs were no longer into the creamy, fatty delight that we enjoyed on toast.

So mum had to throw out the rest of the jar – she wasn’t going to sport a mouldy jar of cheese in the fridge, after all. A few weeks later, the same would happen. And again, and again, until she decided to purchase the smaller jar, although more expensive than the bigger jar!

Mum eventually stopped buying cream cheese all together; but moving into my own place, time proved I was to do the same as her. With everything.  Yet sometimes our purchases are beyond our control – like the size of a head of lettuce, or the smallest package of something still too large. But a smart shopper, I figure now, is the one that ends up using everything they buy, because although they paid more per quota at the end of the shop, they didn’t pay more for things they threw out at the end of the week.

Mini Passionfruit Cheesecake

So why do I mention all of this? Because last week I decided I was going to buy cream cheese to make cheesecake… And most recipes call for 1.5 or 2 packets of the stuff, and some cream, too. But I wasn’t taking any of it. I refuse to throw out left over cream and cheesecake after all my hard work!

And so out of determination came this delicious recipe. An “eggless & creamless” cheesecake – which if I can add, was made with a spare knob of butter and a packet of biscuits waiting around in my pantry!

Passionfruit Cheesecake

Yields: about 14 muffin-sized cheesecakes (I did 12 muffin sized, and one 10cm tin sized)

Ingredients:

recipe for 9-inch biscuit base (about 1pkt plain biscuits and 100g melted butter)

1 pkt cream cheese (250g) softened to room temperature

1/2 can condensed milk (just under 200g)

170g can passionfruit pulp, drained with 3tbs juice reserved

1 tbs cornflour

 

Method:

Line muffin tray with 12 paper cases and set aside.

Prepare biscuit base by pulsing biscuits and melted butter in food processor.

Place heaped tablespoon into each case and press firmly with the bottom of a glass.

Place in the fridge for 10-15mins while you prepare filling.

At this point, preheat oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C if fan forced.

To prepare filling, lightly pulse cream cheese, condensed milk and passionfruit pulp in food processor (or whisk together with stand mixer whisk attachment).

Dissolve the cornflour in 3 tbs of the reserved passionfruit juice and stir through cheesecake mixture.

Evenly divide mixture into prepared cases (I made an extra cheesecake in a 10cm fluted pan with remaining biscuit base and filling).

Bake, one tray at a time, for about 12 minutes, until cheesecakes are slightly puffed and risen.

Turn off oven and leave door ajar for 15 minutes before removing cheesecakes.

Cool to room temperature, then place in fridge to cool completely.

Dust with icing sugar and serve with your favourite berries.

Orange Poppyseed Cake

orange poppyseed cake & caramel sauce

I first tried this cake when my sister made it for the family a few years back. We’d only ever really baked vanilla cakes with a brush of orange rind and a sprinkle of coconut for added flavour. This was a fresh take on the usual and we instantly fell in love with it.

Orange Poppyseed Cake

Took this one to a bake sale to fundraise for refugees 🙂

Fast forward some years to a spring afternoon, it was a warm day but breezy enough to have a nice cuppa with some cake. I still remember our small gathering and our conversations of work, uni, and politics. Since then, this recipe became my home’s staple cake and started to embody so many raw emotions. As my place fills with the wondrous scent of orange and caramel, it weaves through feelings of joy, like that of an expecting mother, feelings of sadness, like a farewell hug and a “see you later”. It reminds me of my sister, half a globe away. It reminds me of the day I met my partner. And it usually signals a “let’s make up” or “welcome home” reconnection.

So who ever said “you can’t eat your cake and have it too” needs to dig in and just bake another. Because it’s well worth it.

Orange Poppyseed Cake

Yields: one 8 inch cake (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

Batter

1/3 cup (80g) butter, melted

1 cup caster sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

3 tbs poppyseeds

1/3 cup milk

juice of 1 medium orange

finely grated orange rind, from one orange

Caramel Sauce

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

4 tbs (57g) butter

1/2 cup cream (thickened/single)

1 tbs vanilla

pinch of salt

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease a 6cm-deep, 19cm square cake pan, or an 8 inch round pan. Line base and sides with baking paper.

Place butter, orange rind, sugar, eggs, flour, poppyseeds, milk and orange juice in a large bowl. Stir to combine, until no lumps are left.

Pour the mixture into baking pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean (cover cake loosely with foil if over-browning during cooking).

Remove from oven. Stand cake in pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, place a medium saucepan over medium-low to medium heat and add all ingredients at once.

Cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes.

Turn off the heat and pour into a small milk mug.

Once cake is at room temperature, poke with a skewer (all over the top), and pour remaining hot caramel sauce onto cake. Let absorb. Repeat if desired.

Garnish with fresh orange slices and white chocolate shards if desired.

Serve with caramel sauce so caramel lovers can add more to their piece!

lemon coconut baked cheesecake

coconut lemon cheesecake

Who could ever forget that pesky tune? …Is life in plastic truly fantastic?

Sometimes I stop and ponder why when we cook and bake we demand perfection. How often do you do that? I baked a cheesecake last week. Not any cheesecake… a superbly cracked all the way down cheesecake!

It wasn’t a case of ‘bad beginner’s luck’. I have baked uncracked cheesecakes before – but I do take the blame for all the cracking. It was in and out of the oven before you could say “what’s that amazing smell?” And without proper cooling down time, cracks were aplenty.

It made me reconsider whether I should take the cheesecake to a dinner I was invited to… and whether I should be posting it here at all. I figured we’ll never truly appreciate perfection without embracing imperfection. And I mean smashingly tasty imperfections.

Although I see the cracks as an added personality to the cheesecake, if you should make this and desire no cracks, let it set with the oven door ajar, then cool out on a bench to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 4 hours to enhance the flavours.

lemon coconut cheesecake

the ‘coconut’ part of this cheesecake is optional

Serves: 8-10

Ingredients:

Base:

175g plain biscuits

130g butter, melted

1/4 cup desiccated coconut (optional)

Filling:

500g cream cheese, at room temperature

3/4 cup white sugar

2 tsp vanilla essence

3 XL eggs, separated (or 4 smaller, separated)

1/2 cup thickened cream

Lemon flavour:

rind of 1 lemon, and its juice OR

1/2 batch of this lemon curd recipe

Coconut – optional, but feel free to add another 1/4 cup into the filling for added flavour

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (160 fan forced) and spray 20cm spring form pan.

Place the biscuits in a food processor and process until finely crushed. Add the butter and process until well combined. Press the biscuit mixture over the inside of the greased pan to evenly cover the base and come 2/3 of the way up the sides. Sprinkle 1/4 cup coconut on base and place in the fridge while making the filling.

biscuit base

To make the filling, use electric beaters to beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl until the mixture is light and creamy. Add the lemon rind & lemon juice (if using), egg yolks and cream. Beat until well combined and the mixture is light and fluffy.

batch of filling

Use clean beaters to whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

whipped egg whites

Add to the cream cheese mixture and fold in the same direction (eg. clockwise) until combined. Do not overmix, do not mix in various directions to keep air in the whites.

IMG_3995

If using lemon curd, pour the mixture into prepared pan and dollop the curd and use a skewer to swirl through the cheesecake filling.

lemon curd dolloped lemon curd swirled

 Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until golden and just set in the centre. Turn oven off and keep door slightly open to allow it to set further, about 15mins. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

cheesecake

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours – overnight to firm. Remove from the fridge 10 minutes before serving, and dig in!

Baked bread rolls

beehive stuffed bread rolls

[repost with revised recipe]

Aahh… the golden beehive in a tray. This heart-warming carby goodness is all the craze in the middle east, especially among my Saudi (and Algerian) friends. Whenever a lady comes to a potluck party with a tray of these, the entire room turns to her and takes a big sniff in… in attempt to have the biggest share of the sweet suckle and tender smell freshly baked hives emanate. Usually portions are one bun per person. Ha, what a joke! But then again, a baking tray can only fit so many buns, right?

Undoubtedly, each woman at the party sneaks two onto her plate, and maybe one in the mouth when no one is looking… diet? What diet? I’ll start that tomorrow (because you don’t go to potlucks everyday, now do you?!) Then come the ladies that missed out, wishing under their breaths that there had been a second tray, and gently cussing the ladies that got 3.

Behive stuffed bread rolls

I’m not overreacting here. The buns are really that good, and if you don’t believe me, you’ll just have to try them for yourself with a cuppa!

The dough recipe I use here is from an old housewife, and good friend. She, of course, does not use measurements precisely, but a dough is a dough, and if you’re a good baker, you will be able to make this dough beautifully. Feel free to use a milk bread dough recipe if you’re more comfortable with that.

Behive stuffed bread rolls

Yields: one 12-inch tray

Ingredients:

4 cup plain flour

2 handfuls of powdered milk

1 to 2 cups warm water

2 tbs instant yeast

3 tbs sugar

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup flavourless oil

1/2 tsp honey + water to loosen

1 small egg for an egg wash

1 x 250g tub of cream cheese (or your fave filling)

black seeds (Nigella Sativa) or sesame seeds to decorate

Method:

Combine the flour, salt, sugar, milk powder and instant yeast in a large bowl.

Make a well in the centre and add 1 cup water and oil. Combine, adding more water until dough comes together.

Knead with a dough hook (or by hand) until the dough is smooth, soft and elastic.

Oil and allow to rise, covered, for 1 hour.

Split the dough into large walnut sized segments, roll into a ball and flatten slightly.

Place a teaspoon of cream cheese in the centre and pinch dough together to form a ball. Roll between your palms to smooth out the surface. Repeat for remaining dough.

Bread rolls ready to be baked

Arrange stuffed buns in a greased 12-inch baking tray, about a centimetre (1/2 inch) apart.

Brush buns with an egg wash and decorate with sesame/black seeds.

Allow to rise, covered, for another 30 mins – 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 fan). Bake buns on the middle rack until golden brown.

Baked bread rolls

In a small dish, drizzle the honey, adding a few drops of water to loosen.

When the buns are ready and still hot, brush over the honey mixture, serve warm from the oven with a cuppa! 🙂

peach, raspberry & banana smoothie

The summer’s heat is really getting to us and the poor A/C is barely keeping up. We’re burning up in the heat, but I think we really need to install some insulation to save burning our pockets on the electricity bill, too! 😉

In light of summer, though, I thought I’d share with you a delicious summer smoothie. I’m so obsessed with smoothies, I could have them all year round, not just in summer!

 

This smoothie is packed with deliciously moist peach, plump raspberries and sweet banana. I add vanilla ice-cream to give it a smooth, creamy texture, but low fat yoghurt would work as a great substitute for the weight-conscious.

 

Before I move on to the recipe, I want to share with you an eBook. Oh no, it’s not my own one – not yet anyway! I was browsing the cookbooks here when I came across Modernist Cuisine (you can buy it through Inkling). I really loved this one because it’s jam-packed with droolworthy recipes and imagery. eBooks have actually become a big thing on my list of things I love because they’re so nice to flick through and many of them are interactive as well. Perhaps it’s coming from a girl who spent all her uni life behind a monitor, but as much as I love my printed cookbooks, I can’t help but stop at the e- ones. What do you like better? e-s or prints? 🙂

 

peach, raspberry & banana smoothie

 

Serves: about 2 tall glasses

Ingredients:

1 ripe banana

1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1 ripe yellow peach, skin on (adds a delicious texture and flavour)

1 cup skim milk (full cream, lite, do as you please)

3 – 4 heaped scoops of ice-cream (might add up to about a cup even!)

 

Method:

Place roughly chopped banana and half the milk into a blender and blend until smooth. This is a perfect little trick to make sure you don’t have any lumps of banana in your drink.

Add in remaining ingredients and blend lightly until smooth (don’t over-blend!)

Pour into glasses and serve with ice if desired, most importantly, cool and freshen up in the summer heat!

 

 

☆ my 2013 resolution | recipe roundup from my blogroll ☆

Since it’s year’s end and blog posts are trending around the topic, I thought I’d join the party and post:

a warm welcome to all my new subscribers – I hope to dish up delicacies that’ll tickle your taste buds this coming year;

a tribute to my blogging friends… a roundup of some of the dishes I’ve made from some of my beloved blogging friends. I enjoy receiving your recipes and droolworthy photos right to my inbox; and

my 2013 “new year’s resolution” for the blog to be freshly pressed which never happened!

I’m one of those people that “don’t do”. I don’t do this, I don’t take part in that, etc etc. and new year’s resolutions are one of those things that I don’t really do. Because they’re always a failure. Since “losing weight” has broken the records for being the most wanted, consecutive resolution for the past decade, 2013’s shifted towards the blog in hope that since I’m not losing weight when I set a goal to, I may lose weight in lieu of the blog not being freshly pressed. Did it work? I won’t tell you. 😛 Because there’s either a problem with my posts, the freshly pressed editors, my scales, or eating habits.. or perhaps all 4 things. 😉 I s’pose there’s still 20 minutes to go on my side of the globe, so there’s still hope 😉

 

Most of my 2013 was spent tearing my hair out to graduate from my bachelor, so my cooking frequency dropped, and so did my posts, but I have been on your blogs, and I have fulfilled my promises. When I say “bookmarked for later cooking”, I truly mean it.

Despite losing many photos of dishes I’ve made, I’ll be sharing what I can today.

~★~☆~★~☆~

This past year, and the couple before, I’ve craved, sighed in desire, been inspired by, and eagerly awaited posts from my blogroll, from Samah’s Good Cooks, to Sawsan’s Chef in Disguise, to Ksenia’s Saffron & Honey and more.

~★~☆~★~☆~

To begin, I’m going to share with you Rufus’ Stir-fried chicken with basil, mushrooms and chilli. Rufus was my first commenter, and subscriber and his ongoing presence really boosted my confidence and willingness to continue blogging. I’ve spent far too many late night flicking through Rufus’ daily posts, and have managed to learn a lot of new things from the blog. Thanks, Rufus & co.

Chicken Basil

This chicken basil recipe was delicious, and I thoroughly enjoyed the combination of flavours – minus some of the chilli as the girls around here can’t stand too much spice. Definitely give this recipe a go, all of you, it’s not to miss!

What’s comes after a really good meal? A really good dessert, of course! I cannot begin to explain how comforting, Rufus’ Brie and strawberries “pie” is, or how ridiculously tasty it is, or how simple to make it is. What’s not as simple as I thought though, is the cheese used in this dessert. And particularly, how it’s pronounced. Brie is apparently said Bree and not Bry like “dry”. Sorry, let me insist English is my second language to avoid the embarrassment! 😉

Brie and Strawberries

 

As I was not going to compete with Katherine’s talent, instead of roses and leaves on a rounded Brie pie, I folded over a what looked like a little bundle, and cut out (freehand) letters to spell … well you can see that for yourself! This was a perfectly timed dessert which I shared with the extended family after the birth of a little baby boy to my aunty. The only problem with this dessert is that it’s not enough. The next time I make this, I’m buying an extra large wheel of Brie so I can satisfy my portion needs of desserts this tasty. 🙂

~★~☆~★~☆~

Next I present to you Five Euro Food’s Roasted Beetroot Dip. Five Euro Food is run by Charles, also one of my early commenters and followers, who had to wait a really long time before I decided to check out who this loyal follower was. Since then I fell in love with the Swedish, French, English and all-things-in-between recipes he’d post.

Roasted Beetroot Dip

 

Charles had creative ideas when it came to beetroot which was fantastic for me – because I love beetroot, and, well sometimes my grandpa would buy far too many to just be disappointedly boiled or pickled. The roasted beetroot dip was delicious, although I’ll be roasting the garlic with the beetroot when I make this again. Perhaps our Aussie garlic tastes really strong, but any left over dip will have a super garlicky taste the next day – so enjoy it freshly made, it’s really hard not to finish in one sitting anyway!

If dips aren’t your thing, and you like the chips instead, then go no further than the Hand-cooked beetroot chips also at Five Euro Food.

Beetroot Chips

The littlest one here absolutely loves beetroot chips, so I just had to give these a go, and they were delicious, and far better than the store-bought packs. Be sure to pat your slices dry before frying to get a delicious crisp 🙂

~★~☆~★~☆~

Now if you haven’t headed over to My Ninja Naan, you’re really missing out. I’ve just about made all the smoothie recipes on this blog, and can’t get enough of them! I lost all the photos I had of the smoothies I’d made, but when I coincidentally found myself making yet another Date and Banana Smoothie, I put my glass down beside my window and grabbed my camera for a quick shot. If dates aren’t your thing, then you have to sip the strawberry banana smoothie instead. Both are so delicious! 🙂

Date & Banana Smoothie

Check out the texture on that date 😉 Definitely use medjool dates are they’re soft and will blend smoothly. When I made this one I only had small dried dates, but if you love a bit of texture, then by all means throw ’em in!

~★~☆~★~☆~

Next up is Eva from Kitchen Inspirations. I’ve made more recipes from Eva than I’ll list here, but I’ll share with you my attempt at making Eva’s Rösti potato. I wasn’t very confident when I made this back in January(!) so my rösti didn’t have the gorgeous streaks of browned potato throughout. But it was delicious nevertheless, and was eagerly welcomed into the tummies of the family.

Rosti Potato

From Eva’s blog, I’m also going to share with you her Lovely, flaky buttermilk cheese scones. To be honest with you, my scones weren’t as flaky as Eva’s but they tasted so delicious, I took them along to a family dinner they vanished before anything else did.

Cheese scones

~★~☆~★~☆~

I’ll end my little roundup with Dawn from First Look then Cook. I made her Chive and black pepper pop overs without having ever known what a pop over was. I learnt about these beauties from her blog! 🙂

Pop Overs

With so much batter I made large ones in the 12-case muffin tins and and mini ones in the 24-case muffin tins. The chives and black pepper really complemented each other, and I can only say I’m so lucky to have been introduced to such yummy little treats!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little roundup. I can’t wait to list another, with recipes ranging from MJs Kitchen to Very Culinary‘s! 🙂

Until then, stay safe, keep well, and bon appétit! 🙂

great food blogger cookie swap | gluten free triple choc cookies

Hi everyone! I’m back Down Under and ready for business. Only I’m a couple of days late as this post was meant to go up 11.12.13 and be posted into the “Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap” roundup! Did I mention I signed up for that? Read all about the great cause here.

A pack of cookies

Making cookies is a dreadful thing for me, because of my previous (disastrous) experiences making them. So when I signed up to the swap, I practiced with a batch of cookies which turned out beautiful – recipe for that to come!

 

Things got “worse” when the three other foodie bloggers I was swapping cookies with came through. One of them needed gluten free cookies – and I’ve never, ever baked gluten free goodies that are not naturally so! So I Googled. On the bus to uni, on the way back, between classes, before bed, while eating breakkie. I needed a good recipe that didn’t have flour in it and that was fool-proof.

 

After trying a Martha Stewart recipe, I gave up on flourless cookies and bought some gluten free flour. But even those flours, I read, can’t be treated like normal flour. With one day to go until I packed my bags to fly out, I found the courage to just give the whole thing a go. I made gluten free double (triple, actually) choc cookies from a normal double choc cookie recipe, and well, they turned out pretty awesome! 😀

As I’d made more than one batch, I had slightly different results, I got a bit of a flat batch, a burnt batch (my fault), and a chunky batch. While making the cookies I was so paranoid I’d accidentally put something in that wasn’t gluten free. I really did become so paranoid that I had to tell myself eggs were fine, and I didn’t need to Google whether they, too, were GF! 🙂

excuse the late night photos!

excuse the late night photos! ^^

All was well in the end, as I packaged my cookies and shipped them off hours before my flight – I sent my cookies out to Modest Munchies, The Aussie Kitchen, and The Little Blue Bicycle. I hope you guys all enjoy them very much! 🙂

 

double choc gluten free cookies

 

Yields: 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup (250g) butter at room temperature

1 cup (200 grams) sugar

1 cup (215 grams) light brown sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups (350 grams) plain gluten-free flour

3/4 cups (60 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup (4.5 ounces/125 grams) GF white chocolate buttons, roughly chopped

2 cups (12 ounces/340 grams) GF milk chocolate chips

1 teaspoon baking soda (I used 1 1/2 tsp baking powder)

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Method:

Preheat your oven to 190 deg C (350 F) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk butter and sugars in a large bowl until combined.

Add eggs, one at a time and mix until well incorporated. Add in the vanilla extract.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda/powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Whisk through until well combined.

Using a wooden spoon add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, ensuring the sides are scraped and mixed in regularly.

cookie batter

The cookie batter should be thick and rich!

Stir in the two chocolates and drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets and bake for 10-13 minutes, until the cookies have puffed a little and the tops are dry.

cookies ready to bake

Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a coking rack to cool completely.

Secretly enjoy a warm one with some milk!

double choc gluten free cookies

a postcard from malaysia

Hi all…. 🙂

Been a little quiet around the blog since I’ve gone overseas for a little holiday – hooray! I’ve come by Malaysia, the land of sweet people, rich culture, and good food. Coming here has been so enlightening as I revisit all the places I’ve been to and discover new ones along the way. My last stop was at Johor after crossing over the Singaporean border.

I had a very funny encounter today, which I thought I’d share with you 🙂 You see this fine gentleman here making me freshly squeezed watermelon juice…..

juice-bar-man

Well, he happened to have served me again, a year later, in the same shop, same uniform, just with a little hair cut 😉 Being a little Boost freak back home in Aussie, I loved drinking these freshly squeezed juiced, and spent quite a few of my ringgits last time I was in Johor! So when I popped in today with my good ol’ Canon and SD, I asked the gentleman if he recognised who the man in the photo was. He inspected the photo for a bit, recognised himself and threw a chuckle. What I remember the most from last year is being taught some Malay phrases as he made the juice. And here he is again a year later making me carrot juice w/ sweetened condensed milk and iced kopi o. Gosh the world is a sweet, small place 🙂

juice-bar-man

Will be popping by all your wonderful blogs to like and comment and drool as soon as better internet comes around and some rest time is scheduled in. Until then, happy cooking, and keep posting! 🙂

croissant au beurre

croissant au beurre || a spiel & recipe

Somewhere between last Saturday and now, I managed to realise I am the most pathetic human being alive. When I say this, I am referring to empathy, i.e. I am empathetic – but empathy has so much sociocultural connotative baggage involved with it, I like to use the concept pathos from Aristotle and mirror it so that I’m the one being emotionally moved and persuaded by others (and not vice versa).

 

Since childhood I’ve known myself to be a sensitive creature, who cramps when the guy in the movie gets punched, who cries when she sees someone else in trouble or upset, and who will make it her responsibility to ensure everyone she loves is happy, regardless of her own personal state. And I admit right now, this is a very dangerous wadi to be in because of just how unstable it can leave you at the end of the day. The danger extends beyond that, however. You see, I’m very good at listening. I will listen to your entire life’s story if you wanted me to know it, but I am the worst person at helping. I will not know what to say. I will not respond properly. I will in fact sit and cry with you. Cry when you leave. Cry all night long. And probably the next morning, too. If I try to help, I’d attempt to get your mind off your problems by chatting with you about petty things (perhaps my life story), or attempt to bribe your worries away with food. Usually that doesn’t work. And we end up crying anyway – I more than you. But in light of food, which is what I’m best at doing, I will be happy to cook things out of my comfort zone if it means I have to.

before baking

before baking

 

Now if you’ve ever promised a Frenchman a French delicacy, you’d know the sort of pressure I put on myself making these croissants. I have, indeed, read all your Darking Bakers challenge blog posts with recipes, I have watched at least 15 YouTube videos on how to make the crescent shaped croissant au beurre. I dreamed about these darlings for nights on end. I shopped for them. I took a deep breath. And got to work. And work started with transcribing Chef Bruno’s (who’s accent can’t be missed) Taste of Paris video by hand into my little notebook, with macarons on it!

 

home-made or store-bought?

after baking

 

That’s right. making these had to be done properly the first time round and I was going classical with a proper recipe on paper and memorising all the “tour double”, “tour simple”, and whatever else turns and folds were involved!

I realised after making these that the croissant itself is not difficult to make in the sense that it’s steps are almost basic baking steps you might do in any baking recipe, the waiting involved (and the realisation of how enormous these croissants can go) is what lets croissant making seem such a dragged out process. This being my first go at making croissants, I ran to the local bakery and grabbed  croissant to compare. And I honestly could not tell the difference – except that some of mine were a little more buttery tasting than the bakery one. That’s a plus, surely? 🙂

 

croissants before and after

before and after baking

 

The croissants themselves were delicate, flaky and crispy, but they need to be left in an airtight container to keep their crispiness, running around with them in a Japanese basket and brown bag won’t help maintain the delicate crisp. I made three batches, one was absolutely massive, the other two looked exactly like the ones you’d pick up from a local bakery. I only managed to photograph the final proofing (sounds so dramatic) as I was far too busy ensuring perfection during all other stages.

I hope you have a go at croissant making sometime soon. I highly recommend you watch Bruno’s video linked above. I enjoyed a croissant pressed in the sandwich press, stuffed with some fetta, dried mint and black seed (you need to try this with some cold watermelon: divinity between your hands).

 

homemade croissants

Yields: 10-14 croissants (depending on size)

Ingredients:

Pâton:

1 cup lukewarm tap water

4 tsps active dry yeast (2 packets fresh yeast can be used, just add to water & proof instead of flour)

3 1/2 cups unbleached bread/plain flour

3 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

100g (6 1/2 tbs) softened unsalted European-style cultured butter

Tourage:

250g (16 1/2 tbs) softened unsalted European-style cultured butter

 

Method:

Combine active dry yeast, salt, sugar and flour in a large bowl.

Add in the water and 100g of butter and continue kneading until just combined.

Transfer the dough to your work surface without additional flour and use your palm to knead the dough for five minutes.

When the dough comes together as a smooth, soft malleable ball, place in the bowl and let rise. This is the ‘first rise’ and should happen at 24 degrees C, that’s 75 degrees F, and should be left for roughly 2 hours to double in size.

Lightly dust your work surface and dough with flour. Deflate the dough and pat it (with your hands!) into a rectangular shape. Fold it over into thirds, then in half, wrap and refrigerate overnight. This is the ‘second rise’ and will allow the flavours to develop, adding depth and complexity. It allows the dough to relax and lose its stretchiness.

In the meantime, make your slab of butter by softening it slightly. Place the butter in a 7 by 8 inch sandwich bag and roll to the edges until you have an even thickness. Chill then trim off any thin edges.

Let the butter soften before beginning the tourage. When soft enough, remove the dough from the fridge and deflate.

On a floured surface, roll the dough into a 15 by 7 inch rectangle and place the butter slab on one half of the dough. Cover over with the other half of the dough. Tap the dough gently with a rolling pin then roll from the centre out until you have a 24 inch by 8 inch rectangle.

Sweep off any excess flour; fold the left third over to the centre, then fold the right over so the two ends meet. Readjust the thickness of the pâton (dough) by rolling over it then fold in half like a book. This is your double turn (called tour double).

Repeat the previous step, rolling out until you have a 24 by 8 inch long rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds, making your simple turn, then wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

When chilled, remove and roll out slightly. Cut in half and return one half to the fridge. The croissant dough should always be cool while being worked with. Roll the half you’re working with to an 18 by 9 inch rectangle with a 1/8″ thickness (~3mm).

 

the pâton

 

Cut the dough into six large triangles and roll into the familiar crescent shaped look.

Place croissants on lightly greased baking paper and brush with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt).

Repeat with other half of dough.

the last proofing

Leave croissants on a counter top to proof for 2.5-3hrs until puffed and spongy.

Brush with an egg wash again and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (205 C) and bake for 10 minutes.

Turn down the heat to 375 degrees (190 C) and bake for another 12 – 15 minutes until golden brown.

Serve the delicious, buttery, flaky croissants as you please. Just enjoy and never go back to a store bought croissant again!

swiss chocolate & pistachio brownies

Have you ever had someone or something enter your life briefly, consume so much of your thought, energy, and passion, only to then let life carry on fulfilling its mission, taking them as far away as close as it had brought them to you?

Yet you continue thinking about them – allowing your mind to be consumed in thoughts for extended periods of the day. You only wish the very best for them because of how well they were to you, and you yearn to embrace them once more…?

This has happened to me on multiple occasions – I’m sure it’s happened to everyone – and I don’t mean for it to be only about other humans. We can take the feeling, the entire ritual, and contextualise it in different ways.  It can be in the form of a natural state, like health (as health can come and go), it can be objects or pets, or even experiences, like travel.

 

One particular instance I’ll share with you today is my encounter with a young woman from Switzerland. I had come home from uni many nights ago with a terrible headache. I was feeling down in dumps, tired, and just wanted to be left alone. I got a phone call from a friend whose English isn’t great, asking if I could come and help entertain this young woman. I was beyond disappointed that I had to get off my couch and do this – but I did it. And it was such a life changing experience.

This young woman has since returned to Switzerland and if I could fly there every week to meet her, I would. She very kindly sent me some fine Cailler cooking chocolate, and a gorgeous pink shawl. I decided I’d make the recipes inside the chocolate wrapping because I wanted to live the Swiss experience of cooking something a Swiss person would if they’d bought this chocolate.

I ran into trouble here because the recipe was in French and German… So I turned to my trusty interneters and asked for a translation! I got an awkward recipe back, which I attempted, and somehow managed to NOT follow. Meaning I could have just done some brownies myself and called it a day. Sigh. I was meant to cream 180g of butter – but instead I managed to dump it into the mixture and create a brownie that took an hour to set in the oven, as opposed to a mere 20-25 minutes.

 

These brownies not only sound fancy (c’mon, surely they do), but they tasted deliciously sweet, and I shared it with my uni team members after finishing our project – especially after, as project manager, I’d been giving them “extra brownie points” all semester long for their hard work. So they deserved these. And you do, too, go ahead and make these, and keep an eye out for my next brownie recipe – I’m doing a little comparison test 🙂 Original (and my messy) recipe are below.

 

Swiss Brownies

 

Serves: 6 – 8 people

Ingredients:

180g butter, plus extra to grease pan

120g (1 cup) flour

160g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar

4 eggs

80g  pistachios, roughly chopped

200g Cailler milk chocolate, divided

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.

Melt 140g of the Cailler chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Chop the remaining chocolate to use later.

Place butter in a bowl and beat until pale and uniform. Add the melted chocolate, sugar, eggs, flour, and pistachios, mix to combine.

Butter a 9 x 9 inch square pan and spread to about a 1 inch (2.5 cm) thickness.

Sprinkle over the chopped chocolate from step 2 and place in the oven for 25mins or until set.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely before slicing or removing from the pan.

 

~*~*~

 

Seems so simple, right? I ended up doing the following due to my poor recipe following skills…

Melt 140g chocolate and 100g-120g butter* in a heatproof bowl. Add in all the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Stir in 2 lightly beaten eggs then 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and the pistachios.

Bake until set in 180 degree C oven, then leave to cool completely before serving.

 

* I’ve reduced the amount of butter for you in this version (do not use 180g!)

 

Enjoy with milk, ice cream, or as well-earned brownie points!