Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Lamingtons - May 2015 Daring Bakers Challenge

 For the May challenge Marcellina from Marcellina in Cucina dared us to make Lamingtons. An Australian delicacy that is as tasty as it is elegant

I had the great pleasure of hosting this month's Daring Bakers Challenge. 

When I first hosted in December 2012 our culinary journey took us to Italy as we baked Panettone. On this occasion I would like to introduce you to one of my all time favourites – the Lamington. The classic Australian Lamington is a cube of vanilla sponge cake dipped in chocolate icing then coated with desiccated coconut. Sounds simple but it is delicious! It is said that the cakes were named after Lord Lamington who was the Governor of Queensland, Australia from 1896 to 1901. Stories abound as to why the cakes came about. I like the one that tells of Lord Lamington’s maid-servant accidentally dropping a freshly baked sponge cake into some melted chocolate. Apparently Lord Lamington disliked wastage so he suggested coating the chocolate coated cake in desiccated coconut to avoid messy fingers. A good idea, I think. Some New Zealanders actually like to claim the Lamington as their creation! However the Lamington came to be, it is now firmly embedded in the Australian culture. Sold in bakeries, cafés, supermarket, at bake sales and everywhere you expect and don’t expect. The Lamington is also a star at fund-raisers with “Lamington Drives” very popular with schools, sporting clubs and many other fund-raising ventures.
Usually the cake within the Lamington is a vanilla genoise sponge made by whipping eggs and sugar
until very thick and pale.  Flour (in my recipe cornflour otherwise known as cornstarch) is sifted well with baking powder and is very carefully and delicately but thoroughly folded into the eggs and sugar. A little bit of melted butter can be folded in at the end. This is optional but does add a bit of moisture to the cake. This cake is quite prized in Australia for being of a light and fluffy texture and a good sponge cake baker is highly regarded. The sponge is a little difficult to master but the key is a light hand, accurate measuring, room temperature eggs, and knowing just how long to bake it. Oh, and don’t open the oven door to peak or your cake will flop.

I would like to extend a big thank you to the amazing Daring Baker's who embraced this challenge and those who thought outside the "square" and came up with delicious and unique Lamingtons!

Classic Lamingtons

Sponge Cake
Servings: 24
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) castor (superfine) sugar
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups (300 ml) (200 gm) (7 oz) cornflour (cornstarch)
1 ½ teaspoons (8 gm) baking powder
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) butter, melted (optional)
2¾ cups (660 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) unsweetened desiccated coconut, to assemble

1. Preheat oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

 2. Prepare a 4 ½ cm (1¾ inch) deep, 23cm x 33cm (9”x 13”) baking pan by lining with non-stick paper.

  3. In a stand mixer bowl place eggs, sugar and salt. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high for 15
 4. While the eggs and sugar are beating sift the cornflour and baking powder at least 3 times.
 5. After 15 minutes add vanilla and beat on high for another 5 minutes. The mixture should have at
least tripled in size, be light in colour and very foamy.

 6. Sift flour mixture over the egg mixture. I like to use a whisk but you can also use a large metal
spoon to lightly fold the flour in. Some people like to use a wooden spoon but I find it too heavy.
Heavy handling now will result in a flat tough sponge. If you are using butter, thoroughly fold it in
now but lightly.
 7. Spread mixture into your prepared pan and smooth out evenly. Some cooks at this stage drop the
pan onto the bench top to even out the air bubbles! I have never had that much courage!
8. Bake in preheated moderate oven for 22-25 minutes. The sponge will rise quite a lot but then settle
back down. Don’t be tempted to open the oven to peak. I also warn the family to walk gently past the
oven! When baked the sponge will have shrunk very slightly from the sides and should feel springy
when pressed gently.

8. Turn the sponge out immediately onto a wire rack to cool and reverse sponge so as not to mark the
top. Allow to cool. It is best to keep the cake for a day before making the Lamingtons as the cake will
be easier to handle.

Chocolate icing
3 ¼ cups (780 ml) (400 gm) (14 oz) icing (powdered) sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) (40 gm) (1-1/3 oz) cocoa powder
1 tablespoon (15 gm) (15 gm) (½ oz) butter, melted
½ to ¾ cup (120 ml to 180 ml) milk
Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a heatproof bowl.
Stir in the butter and ½ cup milk. Set the bowl over a pan of hot water. Stir until icing is smooth
adding more milk to thin the icing if needed. I find I need more than ½ cup but not quite ¾ cup of

 To assemble the Lamingtons:
Cut the sponge cake into 24 rectangular pieces – 6 across and 4 down. To be particular you can trim
the crusts.

Keep the icing over the hot water to keep it melted. Place desiccated coconut in a shallow bowl.

 Dip each piece into the chocolate icing, allow excess to drip off

 Toss gently into the coconut.

 Stand cakes on a wire rack to set, about 2 hours.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Focaccia: April 2015 daring bakers' challenge

For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to
 Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch

It's always a thrill when the beginning of the month arrives and a new Daring Bakers Challenge is announced. I have been a Daring Baker now for almost 6 years! Yes, I can't believe it either! How time flies and I still am excited to discover each new challenge. When it is yeast cookery...even better still. So this month when our hosts Rachael of Pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise challenged us to make focaccia I was in my element. My plan was to make it many times using different recipes however times does fly and the month got away from me. I made two simple with garlic and rosemary and another with sun dried tomatoes and black olives. 
Thank you Rachael and Sawsan!

Focaccia Two Ways - my own recipe

3 teaspoons dried yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon malt syrup or honey
385g plain flour
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper

for Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia
2 or 3 cloves garlic, sliced and mixed with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sprigs of rosemary rubbed with a bit of extra virgin olive oil
sea salt flakes

for Black Olive and Sundried Tomato Foccacia
8 to 10 black olives, deseeded and cut in half
couple of spoonfuls of sliced sundried tomatoes
sea salt flakes

In the bowl of a stand mixer dissolve yeast with water and stand for a few minutes until bubbling slightly, add flour, oil, malt syrup and pepper. With the dough hook attached knead for 5 minutes, then add the salt. Knead again until the dough is smooth and elastic. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for about an hour or until at least doubled.

In the meantime prepare your toppings if you have not already.

When the dough is ready divide in half. Press out each half then fold it back up by bringing into the middle sides and the top and bottom. Press out and place onto a well oiled pizza tray. Push the toppings into the dough and sprinkle generously with the oil from the tomatoes and the oil from the garlic.

Sprinkly both with sea salt flakes. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.

In the meantime preheat the oven at 200C then bake for 20-25 minutes or until browned and looking delicious.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tomato Tarte Tartin -Daring Bakers' March 2015

 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.

Do you love anything pastry?

I always have. As a child I remember scraping out the filling to eat  just the pastry. As an adult I still think the pastry is the best part so when Korena challenged us to Tarte Tartin I was a very happy lady. I have previously tried my hand at Apple Tarte Tartin and love it and all it's caramelised juices mingling with the crust. With this challenge we were given free reign to make any home made pastry though Korena provided us with a rough puff pastry which when I have time I will try. Also free reign to use any fruit or vegetable of our choice. With such freedom I wanted to try a savoury Tarte Tartin. Here is the results. And it was delicious!
Thanks to our host, Korena!

Tomato Tarte Tartin


100 g plain flour
100 g fine semolina flour
Pinch salt
100g butter, chopped
80 g sour cream

Place flours, salt and butter into food processor. Pulse until like fine breadcrumbs. Add sour cream and pulse to combine and bring the dough together. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


2 red onions, finely sliced
a couple of glugs of olive oil
60g butter
4 teaspoons white sugar
7 to 9 plum tomatoes, to fit your baking dish snugly
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
150g feta cheese
a handful of black olives

Caramelise the onions slowly in a olive oil. Season with salt.

While onions are cooking melt butter in a frying pan. Sprinkle over sugar. Swirl the pan to mix. Replace over heat to caramelise sugar swirling the pan regularly.

 In the meantime prepare plum tomatoes by halving and remove the  seeds and surrounding jelly like flesh.

Once the sugar has caramelised place the tomatoes in cut side down.

 It will bubble and the tomatoes will release their juices. After 10 minutes or so the tomatoes will have started to soften. Turn each one over.

 Sprinkle over  balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Don't allow the tomatoes to break down. Once you think the tomatoes are softened enough remove them to the baking dish ( I used a 25cm quiche dish) cut side up.

Return the pan with the juices to the heat and allow to simmer to reduce the liquid to a caramel.

 Cool tomato caramel and tomatoes.

Back to the tomatoes sprinkle withe smoked paprika. Stone a handful of black olives and poke down amongst the tomatoes. Spread the caramelised onion evenly over the tomatoes. Stir the cooled tomato caramel to combine and pour evenly over the tomatoes. Crumble feta cheese over.

Roll out the dough to a circle larger than the baking dish. Place over the tomatoes tucking the edges in.

Bake 30 minutes at 180C or until nicely browned.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Baked Pork Buns - Daring Baker's Challenge February 2015

The February Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Julie of One-Wall Kitchen. She challenged us to an easy, simple filled bun using no-knead dough.

This month at Daring Bakers' we received a savoury challenge which was a lovely change. Julie of One-Wall Kitchen had us baking filled Asian Buns. Basically I kept with the challenge recipe simply adjusting the filling a little.

I have enjoyed making Steamed Pork buns over the years but I had never thought to bake them. This baked version was just as popular with the family. Thanks Julie, great challenge!

Baked Pork buns

Servings: 12 large buns

Dough Ingredients
1/4 ounce (7 gm) (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast (1 packet )
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) warm water
1 tablespoon (15 ml) sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) melted butter
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
4 to 5 cups (20 oz to 25 oz) (560 gm to 700 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour ( I only needed 560g)
1 egg for egg-wash for the buns

Filling Ingredients

1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
500g (1 lb) ground pork or pork shoulder, cubed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar )
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
4 spring onions

Heat oil in skillet.
Saute the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute or until fragrant.
Add pork and brown it in the skillet.
Add soy sauce, oyster, hoisin sauce, sesame oil and sugar and cook filling until pork is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.
Place cornstarch and water into a small bowl and stir with fork or small whisk until cornstarch is dissolved.
Stir cornstarch mixture into filling and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Mix in the spring onions. Then remove from heat and cool before making the buns.

Directions for dough:

Mix yeast, water, sugar, melted butter, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Slowly mix in flour until it's fully incorporated and you have a shaggy, very tacky dough, but not wet and sticky.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for up to an hour in warm place until doubled. While dough is rising, you can make your filling if you haven't already pre-made it to let it cool (see recipe below).
Punch down dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Depending on how much flour you added, it will be somewhat tacky to pretty tacky. Fold it over several times and shape it into a smooth ball, then divide into 12 equal pieces.

Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it into a disc about 6 inches (15 cm) wide.
Place a heaping tablespoonful of filling into the center of the disc.

Wrap the dough around the filling, and firmly pinch it closed over the top of the filling.

Place filled buns on a baking sheet and loosely cover them with plastic wrap. Let them rest for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
Beat 1 egg in a small bowl for egg wash and brush on top of each bun.

Bake buns for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm. As you can see some of the filling oozed out of holes or cracks in the dough. Next time I will not roll the dough out as thin.

Really, though, it doesn't matter these were delicious!