This was the post I was going to bring to you last week, but then I got really sick and haven’t been anywhere near my computer since the last post. So if you need a pumpkin puree recipe for the pumpkin cupcakes, you’ll find the follow up to that here.
While I making mountains of pumpkin puree and throwing them in desserts for the first time ever, I knew I couldn’t escape the pumpkin fest without baking pumpkin pie. This seemingly staple American dessert is practically non-existent here. Any time I’ve told an American friend I’ve never eaten pumpkin pie, I’ve received a reaction more akin to what I’d expect if I’d just confessed to being a centaur. Cam tried one on holiday in Canada some 8 years ago, loved it, and occasionally asks me to make one for him. I suppose it was about time I finally jumped in to see what all the fuss was about.
I mentioned in my previous post that I’ve never tried pumpkin in a sweet dish before. With Halloween around the corner I decided it was a good change to change all that. I bought a stack of pumpkins on the weekend and started having some fun.
My first stop was incorporating pumpkin into cake. I absolutely love all the spices that make up pumpkin pie spice, so I just knew I was going to love these. But I also wanted to incorporate some of Halloween into them as well. Here’s where the ghosts come in.
Halloween is very much not a holiday celebrated in Australia. Yet we seem to go along with it anyway. We don’t really get into lantern carving thing, and Trick or Treaters are usually met with scorn, confusion or a mixture of both. I couldn’t even tell you what candy corn tasted like. Ask most Aussies, and they’ll tell you it’s an American holiday not to be celebrated here. There’s a clear divide between the lovers and loathers of Halloween.
But we still get a bit of the Halloween fever here. This is probably mostly driven by the commercial side, with supermarkets and retail outlets stocking heaps of Halloween merch and covering their stores in black and orange decorations. People throw Halloween parties, as will pubs and clubs. Some of my favourite local music events happen on Halloween, Creepshow at The Espy being my absolute favourite. It usually involves watching lots of my favourite Melbourne bands playing sets in crazy costumes to a mosh pit of us crazy fans in equally crazy costumes. Good times.
So while we’re not huge on Halloween and while there’s seldom an occasion to bake for, I find myself following my American friends and baking Halloween-themed stuff anyway. It’s well and truly Spring here, but I love being inundated with all the Autumn colours you Northern Hemisphere-ians are experiencing right now. Any excuse to pretend it’s Autumn.
Another thing we don’t do in Australia is sweet pumpkin food things. Pumpkin is the kind of thing we have with a Sunday roast. It’s a savoury fruit. The prospect of making it sweet seems utterly foreign. I keep promising myself I’ll try some sweet pumpkin dessert soon to see what all the fuss is about, but in the interim I thought I’d start with something more familiar inspired by the pumpkin pie.
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…
Cinnamon is very not so secretly one of my favourite things to cook with. If I can find an excuse to put cinnamon in a thing, there will be cinnamon in the thing. Be it a bowl of yoghurt or just a hot chocolate, a little cinnamon turns it into the most exciting thing in the world.
So it’s no surprise that the simple cinnamon bun is high on my list of loves. Every now and then, I like to try something new with my standard recipe to change it up a little.
This method puts a whole lot of twists on the traditional cinnamon bun.
With Mother's Day just around the corner it's a time for making all things pretty and elegant. The first thing that comes to mind for this occasion is roses. The rose has been used as a symbol in most societies throughout human history. And it's little wonder. It's a beautiful, and varied, flower. Qualities that make them a lovely way to say thanks this Mother's Day.
The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose…
I'm addicted to making macarons lately. And I have no intention of stopping until I iron out the little creases that are the imperfections in my biscuits. As if I'm going to stop when I do finally get them perfect. Ha!
They're so addictive and so appealing to make. It's becoming and\ obsession. There are so many colours and flavours and possibilities just begging to be explored.
My major challenge at the moment is getting the biscuits all the same size. No matter how carefully I drew the circles and how carefully I piped, they'd always be different. I'd spend ages trying to match up same-sized biscuits, getting grumpy about the misshapen ones. So I thought it was time to try something new.
Easter is all about the hot cross bun in this household. But there's only so many batches of the lovelies I can make in one Easter. I decided it was time to approach it from a smaller angle.
These cookies take all there is to love about the hot cross bun and wraps it into one bite-sized piece of crumbly goodness.
Let's get baking….
This curry is one of my all-time favourite recipes. It's rich and flavour-full, but the addition of peanuts takes it to an extra level of taste and texture. I made this one for the family a few weeks back and wanted to share it with you guys.
While I typically use chicken for this recipe, like most curries you can swap the meat for whatever your preferred meat is. Chicken is such a cheap meat here that it makes a delicious budget meal, but if you live in a country where poultry is more expensive, feel free to sub in whatever cut of meat you like.
Let’s get started…