I’m the kind of person who never read recipes first. I’ll be flicking through a cook book, see a picture of something that looks good, quickly browse the ingredients and if I have most of them get started straight away. If it’s a standard thing I’ll have trouble even following the recipe, I’ll just use the quantities and the general order of ingredients as a guide.
About three years ago I saw this recipe for apple confit and needed to make it. After dinner was done and people were washing up I started on this recipe. It obviously wasn’t a standard thing so I followed the recipe as I went along. I put the confit in the oven and referred to the next step to see what I had to do once it was out of the oven. Then I saw it: “Refrigerate overnight until firm”.
I announced we were eating it warm, unfinished and accompanied and resolved to return to it properly prepared one day. One day took quite a while to come around again. But when it did, I was prepared this time.
I’ve had a slight hiccup with the Jupiter cake tutorial: I have the video done but it just won’t save! All my attempts at troubleshooting haven’t worked so I’m having to sort that out. I’ll have it for you soon!
In lieu of that, it’s time to move on to the Daring Baker’s challenge this month!
This month’s challenge was entitled ‘Eenie Meenie Miney Moe!’ In a celebration of past Daring Baker and Daring Cook challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we’d like. The real challenge was picking which delicious recipe to try!
I set about trying to find the hardest recipe I could. I was going to challenge myself to the most ludicrous challenge I could find. But I struggled to find something that scared me. The most fearsome challenges I’d heard about from other bakers were things I have or now regularly bake: french macarons, joconde, croquembouche. The desserts I hadn’t tried all used techniques I’m familiar with. It was actually a nice moment to reflect on how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned over the last 3 years.
I couldn’t find something as challenging as I’d wanted, but there was one…
The chocolate marquise. It was the challenge from May 2011. I’d never heard of it before and it looked divine. But the recipe was massive and had a bunch of pressure points that seemed difficult, so I decided to take it on.
I discovered as I made it that it wasn’t that scary, but it does force you to plan ahead. You need to be organised and to think through the components, particularly during plating. You have to have a plan of attack and stick to it. I’m a hot mess in the kitchen so perhaps this was the biggest challenge of all…
The end of June is approaching, meaning it’s time to share another Daring Bakers’ challenge!
Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens. Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie.
Pies are something that I love but get really easily intimidated out of in the kitchen. It’s more to do with the crust than anything. When I first started baking I attempted a number of pies, and they were largely hit and miss. Mostly miss, for when I tried unmoulding them from the tin they would either stick or snap or crumble or all of the above. So I ran away from pies. This challenge was a good way for me to test the waters again and see how I’d go now that I have many more kitchen hours under my belt.
There were four pies on offer. I went from saying I’d do one to taking on three of them!
The macaron madness continues! And shows no signs of abating. Since moving to using silicone mats I’ve started to run into macaron errors. I guess it’s better experiencing it now then during my first try of them, but it can be frustrating. It happens most when I tweak the base recipe, so that’s gonna be a given.
But making mistakes is an important part of the learning curve. Through making errors and working to correct them, I’m learning. And hey, an ugly macaron doesn’t mean a bad-tasting macaron. Just an unbloggable macaron. I can deal with more excuses to bake.
Perfectly formed or not, these babies seem to disappear just as quickly as I can make them. So while they’re still desired, I’ll keep on baking!
Time for some salted caramel…
My favourite thing in the world is make bite-sized versions of food. I love catering parties and making everything tiny. An idea I've had swimming around my brain for years was tiny crème brûlées. I'd been on the hunt for ceramic Chinese soup spoons every time I entered a home wares store, but could never find any, let alone white ones. All I could ever find was plastic or metal spoons – not very oven friendly, or mouth friendly after having been near a blow torch.
So when my sister got me this amazing canapé set for my birthday, without even knowing how much I'd wanted to make this dessert, I know just how to break it in.
And break them in I did…
Of all the people I make food for, my number one priority in life is my boyfriend, Cameron. He's what motivates me to learn and try new things and attempt to impress him with some crazy dessert. He gets to eat almost everything I make, the only exception being commissions, really. I'll upload snaps of my cakes to Facebook and people will be quick to tell him how lucky they believe him to be. They think he must get the most amazing, whimsical cakes for his birthday. They think him blessed to be able to request from me to bring anything to life via this edible medium. But the reality is that he wants none of that. At heart, he's a simple man.
So when his 30th birthday rolled around I wanted to make him something impressive to mark the occasion.
He just wanted a cheesecake.
What the birthday boy says, goes…
Santa hats are one of the most iconic scenes at Christmas time. Whether it's from a Christmas graphic in a shop wiondow or your cousin's choice of head gear at the family feast, we see them everywhere throughout December. Here in Australia, we celebrate Christmas in summer, so Christmas feasts typically involve lots of summer fruit. Strawberries are amongst my favourite and they will always adorn the pavlova and anything else I can justify adding them on to. Along with strawberries, white chocolate is another familiar flavour amongst the desserts. So I figured, why not combine all three?
This dessert is a new take on an old favourite.
Santa Claus is coming to town…