Baking Day: September Edition

It’s been quite a while since I posted our Baking Day (Mis)Adventures. It’s really tough to line up our calendars to find a date that works for all 5 of us. So after much rearranging and postponing, we ended up deciding on a date that worked for 4 out of the 5 girls. Unfortunately Roxanne, who is a dance instructor, couldn’t attend due to auditions. She very gracefully bowed out, making it the turn of one of my other Sister-in-Law’s turns to host. This was our first baking day at Marguerite’s house (you’ll notice I’m now starting to use names, because I’m sure you’re staring to get confused with all of us!), and she had decided to make a Chocolate Mug Cake recipe she got from her friend, as well as a Pavlova.

We were all so very excited for the Pavlova – it’s not something we eat often. Let me tell you though, as much fun as it was getting into our usual shenanigans and almost-failures, here is my TOP TIP for Pavlova. You need an electric whisk/mixer. Marguerite has a hand whisk, which we all thought would be fine. We watch our favourite TV chef idols whisk cream and egg whites into submission by hand in no time all the time. How hard could it be, right? Ha! Lesson learnt. Unless you’ve got the arms of The Hulk and the stamina to run a marathon, don’t even bother. We had to take turns, we had to switch arms. It was a mess. We just couldn’t get those egg whites to submit to silky, shiny stiff peaks. No sir-ey. We eventually gave up when we deemed them to have soft peaks. We figured we couldn’t do any more. It was a lost cause, but we had no time to grieve for our epic failure – it had to go into the oven! BUT… Since the eggs weren’t stiff enough, it just would not hold a round shape. And we couldn’t find a springform to use as our shape. We had to improvise. Quickly. We ended up using a roasting tray, lined with baking paper, with rolled up logs of more baking paper to help make a rudimental shape. And in the oven it went.

I’ll tell you this though – it came out really well if I think how big of a flop it could have been! It was delicious. The exterior of the meringue crunchy, crispy and golden. The interior a pillowy, fluffy, sweet delight. And the fruits! Gorgeously plump little bursts of colour with major pops of flavour, layered with gloriously decadent whipped cream. Side note: The whipped cream was yet another fiasco… We couldn’t get it to whip! It. Just. Wouldn’t. Luckily, a valiant hero (Marguerite’s friend, Reg) wanted to pop in to say hello, and in a desperate attempt to save our dignity, we cried out in unison: “Bring CREAM!”. The cream was brought, the Pavlova assembled, and after taking some photos, it was greedily gobbled up. The fruits we used were pomegranate seeds, blueberries, raspberries and a double dose of strawberries. We used fresh strawberries, but I also cut half of the strawberries in halves, and with a touch of sugar and a glug of bubbly, let them macerate – allowing them to make their own sweet and thick syrup. Here’s the recipe, adapted from Sarie:

Pavlova with Mixed Berries and Whipped Cream

Ingredients:

  • 8 Egg whites
  • 630g Castor sugar
  • 20ml white wine vinegar
  • 30ml cornstarch
  • 250ml cream
  • 400g berries of your chocie
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 140 ˚C.
  • Whisk egg whites until it reaches soft peaks. Then start adding the sugar while whisking.
  • Whisk until stiff peaks are reached and the mixture is glossy. Fold in vinegar and cornstarch.
  • Line a baking sheet with baking paper and spray with greaseproof spray. Gently spoon mixture into a round form of about 30cm in diameter. You can use the back of a spoon to press into the top lightly, and then lifting, to form little peaks on the top of the meringue.
  • Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the exterior is golden, crispy and dry, but the interior still soft and chewy.
  • Let the meringue cool completely before starting with the decoration. When it’s cooled, it can be placed on a serving plate/cake stand.
  • Whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks. Ladle the cream onto the meringue.
  • Now, add the berries in any formation. Here’s where your creativity can come out to play.
  • Lightly dust with powdered sugar and VOILA!

Serve in “cake” slices with a glass of champagne and feel extra decadent!

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Now, for the Chocolate Mug Cakes. (Phew, this is a long post!) These little pots of dark delight is the perfect way to end your day, if you’ve had a rough day, after dinner, exhausted and just need a treat. The whole thing takes less than two minutes from start to finish! This is the first Mug Cake recipe that I’ve seen that really works, and delivers what it promises. Marguerite’s friend Magdel, (whose recipe this is), says she makes it often when she’s put the kids to bed and feels the need to satisfy a craving. I can see why. It’s quick, and delicious! And I can only imagine the variations you could try! Served with a scoop of ice cream, and off to bed! What’s better than that?!

Chocolate Mug Cake (makes 1)

Ingredients:

  •  1/4 cup Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp Milk
  • 2 Tbsp Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Hazelnut Spread (Like Nutella)

Method:

  • Mix all ingredients together
  • Pour into a microwave safe cup/mug/ramekin
  • Microwave for approx. 60 seconds. The less time it is microwaved, the gooey-er the middle will be. We found that 60 seconds delivered a cake-like consistency. Obviously every microwave is different, so it might be a good idea to experiment with times, and finding that sweet spot that delivers the consistency that you’re jonesing for.

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All in all, it was a successful baking day. We drank wine, we ate a lot of cheese. We baked, and laughed, and failed, and were surprised by how great our attempts turned out. And that, is ultimately what we’re aiming for.

 

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The Girls Who Bake – February 2014

Hi guys,

Sorry it’s been SO long! No excuses, I know. Bad blogger! Let’s move on though, okay? Let’s talk about our Baking Day! This time, it was my sister’s turn to host – and we had a blast! Her choices of treats to bake were Nutella filled rolls with an Espresso Glaze, and Triple Chocolate “Skinny” Muffins. The skinny muffins was a choice very cunningly made to soothe our guilty consciences, because, you know…it’s skinny! Before we started, my sister and I went to a group yoga session on the beach at Blouberg. We were very nervous since we’re new to yoga, and have never done a group session – we just do yoga at home. It was such an amazing experience though (except for the minor back injury I got)! My future sister-in-law joined us later that afternoon to help as well. Although, the two “helpers” generally mostly sit and drink wine… 😉

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Back to baking! We should have just made full-blast fattening triple chocolate muffins…Because the skinny ones were not so good. (That’s an understatement) I’m not entirely sure where we went wrong, but they were the most bland thing I’ve ever eaten! We tried one after they came out of the oven and we were shattered! Ugh. We ended up dousing them with some of the Espresso Glaze just to add some moisture and sweetness… Ah well, you win some, you lose some, amiright?!

As much as I disliked them, I’ll still post the recipe. If you try it and they come out well, let me know!

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TRIPLE CHOC CUPCAKES

Adapted from: http://dashingdish.com/recipe/triple-chocolate-chunk-muffins/

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup Oats
3 Egg whites
3/4 cup Unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup Unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 cup Plain greek yogurt (or regular plain low fat yogurt)
1/2 tsp Cream of tartar (or 2 tsp. vinegar)
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 cup Hot water
1/2 cup Baking stevia OR 1 cup sweetener of choice that measures like sugar – we used honey
1/2 cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips – we used dark chocolate, which might have affected the taste, so go for semi-sweet…
Tip Foil cupcake liners, remove the inner paper lining (because paper liners tend to stick to muffins!)

Method

THE ESTIMATED TOTAL TIME TO MAKE THIS RECIPE IS 35 MINUTES.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with foil cupcake liners, or spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a blender, (or food processor), mix all of the ingredients together, except for the chocolate chips. Blend until oats are ground and mixture is smooth.
  3. Place mixture in a bowl and gently stir in 1/2 of the chocolate chips (set the rest aside). Scoop mixture into prepared muffin pans.
  4. Place muffins tins in the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove muffins from the oven (but don’t shut oven off), and distribute the other half of the chocolate chips on top of each muffin.
  5. Place the muffins back into the oven and bake for an additional 2-5 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. We had to bake them an additional 5-10 minutes longer to finish cooking.
  6. Cool muffins before removing from pan. ENJOY!!! Here is where we drowned them in Espresso Glaze to at least try to impart SOME flavour. You’ll find the Espresso Glaze recipe in the Nutella Rolls recipe.

Now, let’s get to the good part. Nutella Rolls with Espresso Glaze. You could even stop reading after Nutella and you’d know that it was going to be fantastic. Because who doesn’t love Nutella? Who??? So, let’s go!

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RECIPE: NUTELLA ROLLS WITH COFFEE GLAZE

Adapted from: http://heatherchristo.com/cooks/2013/12/15/nutella-rolls-with-coffee-glaze/

For the dough:

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk

½ cup canola oil

½ cup sugar

4 1/2 cups AP flour

1 package yeast

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

4 tablespoons butter

Instructions

1. In a large pot, heat the milk, oil and sugar to a simmer. Then set aside to cool to luke warm.

2. When the milk mixture is luke warm, add 4 cups of flour and the yeast and stir well. Cover the pot with the lid and let sit somewhere warm for 1 hour.

3. When the dough has risen, stir in the last ½ cup of flour and the baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined. Let sit another 30 minutes.

Devide dough in half and roll out into approx. 30x40cm rectangles.

Filling:

13 ounces nutella

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Coffee Glaze:

3 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons Espresso (or strong coffee)

2 tablespoons cream

pinch of salt

Instructions

1. When the dough is finished rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prepare a sheet pan with a silpat or parchment paper.

2. Dust the countertop with a tiny bit of flour and roll the dough out into a big even rectangle.

3. Spread the nutella evenly over the top of the dough.

4. Gently roll the dough and nutella up into a log.

5. Slice the log into 12 rolls. Place them on the sheet pan and brush them all with the melted butter.

6. Drape a kitchen towel over the top of the nutella rolls and let them rise for 30 minutes.

7. Bake the Nutella rolls for about 15 minutes or until golden.

8. Take them out and transfer them to a cooling rack. While they are cooling make the Coffee Glaze.

9. Whisk the coffee glaze ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle the glaze over the rolls. Let them set up and then serve immediately.

How good do they look?! They were amazing. Gooey and oozy and sweet and sticky and all the things you want from a baked good. As per usual the wine was flowing, and we were barely snacking, much less eating, so after our day of baking we were ravenous and somewhat tipsy. Which led to us going out for a beer and then getting fast food… Yes, I know. You can shake your head at us. We deserve it. But this had led me to the following conclusion: We must find time to eat properly in between  baking. So, I have decided that from this month forward – which incidentally is my month to host – there will be food to feed us all… Not just sweets, but real food too, although who could say no to a life lived on sweet delights?!

If you make these, let me know how it went! I’d love to know about your baking adventures too!

Much Love

Coming Up

Heya!

I just wanted to keep you updated – I will be posting a new baking day adventure shortly! To keep you interested – the easiest Chocolate Cupcakes and Almond Biscotti. Also, our misadventures with Crème Brûlée. Stay tuned. The day was boozy, it was sweet, it was hilarious.

Laters. ❤