Apple and butterscotch pudding

Mr Cake O'Clock has signed up to run a half marathon tomorrow. Madness, I know. But on the positive side, running that far requires carbo loading. And carbo loading means pudding. I have no excuse for eating it, but am not going to let that stop me.

Self-saucing puddings are incredibly straight forward to make. They're so simple in fact, that it's beyond me why anyone bothers buying packet mixes. This one is a fusion of quite a few different recipes from taste.com.au.

Apple and butterscotch pudding

4 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tspn baking powder
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
2 tbspn golden syrup
1 tspn vanilla essence

Butterscotch sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tspn cornflour
1/4 cup golden syrup
1 tspn vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups boiling water

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease a 2 litre casserole dish or pudding basin. Place chopped apple in base of the dish. Sift together flour and baking powder. Add remaining pudding ingredients and mix until smooth. Pour over apples. Combine the brown sugar and cornflour and sprinkle over the pudding batter. Mix together the golden syrup, vanilla essence and boiling water. Gently pour over the sugar mixture. Bake 45 minutes until golden brown. Serve with cream or custard.

Cake pops and bites

My first batch of cake pops were a success in terms of taste and chocolate dipping. However, they really weren't all that interesting to look at. I like glitter as much as the next girl, but so far as cake pop decorating goes, glitter is about as boring as it gets. So when an email advertising a cake pop class landed in my inbox on Monday, I was pretty quick to sign up.

The class was pretty much free-form, so some of my efforts are more basic than others. Judge for yourselves.

Cake bites in chocolate cases; delicious and chocolatey

Chocolate transfer paper makes for a sophisticated cake bite.


White tiger with chocolate stripes. Yummo!

This little bee even has a stinger

More grown up pops

Happy monsters

Sometimes simple is the way to go



Potato with fennel and onion

One of the benefits of getting a mystery fruit and veg box each week is that it forces you to cook and eat things that wouldn't normally appear on the shopping list. Call me boring if you will, but I had never eaten fennel until it turned up in the box one week.



Potato and aniseed don't sound like natural partners on the plate, but trust me, this dish works. The fennel imparts a subtle aniseed flavour to the potatoes, giving a fairly bland side dish a rather delicious lift. 

Potato with fennel and onion

300g potato
1 red onion
1 fennel bulb, stalks trimmed
1 tbspn olive oil
black pepper, to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Place half the oil in a small baking dish. Cut the potato, onion and fennel into evenly sized pieces. Place in the dish and drizzle with remaining oil. Season with black pepper. Bake 40 - 60 minutes, or until potato is cooked through with golden edges. Turn vegetables to coat with oil half way through cooking.

Doughnuts

After a lot of misses and only a couple of hits, I think I've finally mastered doughnuts. It turns out the key to success is the deep fryer. I've tried them in a normal frying pan with no luck whatsoever. The deep fryer makes keeping the temperature stable a breeze.



I have to confess that I cheated and used my bread maker. As not everyone owns as many gadgets as me, here's the recipe as needed to make them by hand. If you do have a bread maker, and its not at the back of the garage beneath the camping gear, then add the ingredients according to your bread maker's specifications, set the knead to around 5 minutes, and raising to 45 minutes.

Doughnuts

4 cups flour
2 tspn dry active yeast
1 tspn salt
2 tbspn sugar
2 tbspn butter
1.5 cups milk, lukewarm
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Vegetable oil for deep frying

Method

Mix the dry ingredients together. Rub in the butter. Combine the eggs and milk, and add to the flour, mixing to form a firm dough. Tip out on to a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap, and allow to rise until doubled in size, around 45 minutes. Roll the dough out on a floured surface. When around half to 1 cm thick, cut in to the desired shapes. A drinking glass and shot glass paired make good cutters for the classic doughnut shape, otherwise leave whole for jam or custard doughnuts.

Heat oil to around 160 degrees Celsius. Place the doughnuts in the oil and cook, turning often, until golden on both sides. Remove from oil and drain well.

Fill with jam, custard or cream, or top with a glaze or icing.

Variations

For chocolate doughnuts, add 2 tablespoons of good quality cocoa to the flour.

Fillings

I love custard doughnuts, and making them is easier than you would think.

1 cup milk
1/3 cup cream
1 tspn vanilla bean paste
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup custard powder.

Bring the milk, cream and vanilla to scalding point. Remove from heat. Meanwhile beat the egg and sugar together until tick and pale. Add the custard powder to make a paste. Add around half of the hot milk to the eggs. Whisk, then add the remaining milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard is very thick and no longer tastes flour-y.

When cooled, pipe in to the middle of your doughnuts.

For jam doughnuts, strain a little of your favourite flavour jam and pipe in to the middle.

Likewise, apple sauce makes a great doughnut filling.

If you prefer iced doughnuts, chocolate and strawberry are both simple.

1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tbspn milk
1/2 tbspn agave syrup
1 tspn flavouring essence
1/3 cup chocolate melts
1 cup sifted icing sugar

Combine the milk, butter, agave and flavouring. Heat until the butter has melted. Pour over the chocolate, and stir until melted. Add the icing sugar and blend until smooth. DIp the doughnuts in the icing and set aside until set. If you want sprinkles, add them while the icing is still molten. If you can't find agave, substitute corn syrup or glucose.

Cakes and pops

It's Sunday night and I've just finished off a weekend full of cooking with a batch of doughnuts. Yummo! But more about that later...

This weekend my most important task was creating a birthday cake for oldest niece, who was celebrating her tenth birthday with 15 girls and a sparkly disco. Obviously I was going to have to try to make a sparkly disco-ish cake.


The photo doesn't show it too well, but the whole cake was covered in holographic glitter - very sparkly! Most importantly, the birthday girl was very happy, especially since the colours and silhouettes matched her invitations.

I'm on a bit of a mission to reduce food waste at the moment. Apparently Australians waste $5.2 billion of food each year! That's a lot of money, and I want to make my share of it as small as possible. So I decided to make cake pops with the left over cake.

All of the recipes I've seen for cake pops suggest buying a packet of red velvet mix and stirring it together with a can of cream cheese frosting. As I'd never seen a can of cream cheese frosting until a visit to US Foods this morning - too late for cake pops, in other words. So I decided to improvise with the half a cup of white chocolate ganache left over from the cake's crumb coat, and about a quarter of a tube of sweetened condensed milk. I mixed it in with what basically amounted to half a butter cake, rolled the mix into balls and set them aside to chill. The next morning I dipped them in melted white chocolate, added lollipop sticks and a dusting of edible glitter. Voila! Cake pops, and not a can of cream cheese frosting in sight.


These were so easy to make that I'll definitely give it another shot next time I have some spare cake and ganache to mix with it. 
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