September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Challenge - September 2010

This is my first ever Daring Bakers Challenge!! Hooray! This month's challenge is Decorated Sugar Cookies with the theme of "September" in mind and for all those down under, September means the start of Spring!

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The cookies that I made are in the shapes of butterflies, dragonflies and hearts. I always tend to think of lush green fields, full of beautiful blossoming flowers with cute little butterflies when I think of Spring. To me it is the prettiest season of the year and I love it because of the awesome sunshine and warm weather it brings!

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For the challenge we had to use Peggy Porschen's cookie recipe:

Basic Sugar Cookies
Makes Approximately 36 x 10cm cookies

200g / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp Plain Flour
200g / 1 cup Caster Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted)
Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming creamy in texture.
Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5m. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
Leave to cool on cooling racks.
Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.

• Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.
• It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
• Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in some cookies being baked before others are done.
• Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
• If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated cookies can last up to a month.

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To decorate, instead of using just royal icing I also opted to cover the cookies with Marshmallow fondant and edible glitter as well.

Royal Icing
Adapted from Joy Of Baking
315g – 375g Icing Sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
10ml / 2 tsp Lemon Juice
5ml / 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional

Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.
Beat on low until combined and smooth.
Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.

• Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use.

Marshmallow Fondant
Adapted from Cake Journal

230 g White Marshmallows (I usually just 2 x packets of the pink & white marshmallows and use all the white marshmallows for one batch and the pink ones for another batch - that way I don't even need to colour the white marshmallows to get pink coloured fondant)
2 Tbsp Water
450g - 900g Icing sugar sifted (plus extra for kneading)
Spray oil
Food colors or cocoa powder (Flavouring optional)

Put the marshmallows in a heatproof bowl and add the water. Put the bowl in the microwave oven and heat it for approx. 2 mins. until the marshmallows puff up.

Stir the marshmallows until they get smooth. This is the time where you can add your chosen food color/cocoa powder or give it flavour. Note: Color the mixture a bit stronger than desired. You can always make the color lighter afterwards by mixing it with white marshmallow fondant.

Now add the icing sugar and stir the mixture with a well greased spoon. Keep adding icing sugar until it looks like a dough. Turn out the “dough” on a greased work board and with your hands greased with spray oil start kneading the marshmallow fondant. Keep adding a little icing sugar at a time until it is not sticky anymore.

Be careful not to use all the icing sugar as to much icing sugar can makes it too dry. It is ready when it feels pliable and ready to roll. If you are not using the marshmallow fondant straight away then rub a bit of spray oil on it and wrap it in cling-film and seal it in a airtight bag.

Note: Some uses the marshmallow fondant right away but I prefer to let it rest for a day before use.

If your marshmallow fondant feels very hard you can always warm it up in the microwave for a few sec. at a time. Then it should be more pliable to work with.

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I had so much fun making these cookies! Hope you all do too!! And a very big thank you to Mandy from What the Fruitcake?! for hosting! x

p.s - Another awesome idea for these beautiful little cookies is they can be given as party bags for kids birthdays or even bombonieres for a wedding.. all you need to do is change the shape of the cookie to what ever you please.. the possiblities are endless!! :)

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The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

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September 19, 2010

Ma Ba Sa

I have to say, this little Korean restaurant and I have history. Not long ago it used to be situated along Pitt Street just opposite the Art House/Galleries Victoria, except, it was operating under a different name (Hancook). Mum was the one who first introduced me to this little gem, back then she used to always visit it after one of her gym sessions. When we heard that they had to close due to repossession we were devastated… “where am I gonna get my hot pot from now?? OMG!” … but never fear for …*drum roll please*.. I introduce to you… the new and improved Ma Ba Sa!

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The new restaurant is now located comfortably along the other eateries on Darling Street in Balmain. Upon walking into this cute little restaurant I get a really cozy feeling, it is stylishly decorated with indoor and outdoor seating…but, the best part about it is, the food is still just as good!!

First glance at the menu and I was able to spot the new additions already..such as the steamed dumplings. These were so good! The skin was thin and soft and the meat inside was nice and juicy.
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Jjim Mahn Du - Steamed dumplings (pork & vegetables) - $7

An old favourite and a dish I get everytime I go there are the pan fried dumplings. These are what fried dumplings should be. They're different to the Chinese style fried dumplings (Wor Tip), where it can be soft on one side and just slightly fried on the other with a big chunk of meat inside. These are thin with a serious crunch to it, yet the inside is still nice and juicy - not dry at all. It also goes so well with the soy/vinegar sauce served with it.

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Kun Mahn Du - Pan-fried dumplings (pork & vegetables) - $7

Of course, it wouldn't be a Korean restaurant without the complimentary side dishes. These included Kim-Chi, pickled vegies (bean sprouts, spinach & potato) and fried fish cake.

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Assortment of complimentry side dishes

To start the mains we ordered the Bi-Bim-Bap, which is a rice dish topped with a selection of ingredients such as pickled carrots, bean sprouts, spinach, cucumbers & mince. To eat it you need to mix all the ingredients together in the bowl and if you like, add a little of the mild chilli sauce (its not hot.. more on the sweet side). I love having it in the stone pot because it sort of burns the rice which adds that awesome crunch! mmMMm

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Dolsot Bi-Bim-Bap - $15

My brothers favourite is the Chicken Teriyaki. The chicken is deep fried then tossed into the teriyaki sauce with the vegetables, it is served on a sizzling plate which smells so awesome when they bring it out!

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Chicken Teriyaki - $14

Dad's favourite is the Ginseng Chicken. This is such a comforting dish, its a whole baby chicken stuffed with sticky rice in a clear sweet chicken ginseng broth.

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Sam-Gye-Tang - Stuffed baby chicken soup with sticky rice & ginseng - $22

Now... the dish I want to talk about (my favourite) is the Kim-Chi hot pot/stew. I get alot of cravings for different types of food but this is a recurring favourite. Inside the hot pot is Kim-Chi (duh), pork, veggies & rice cake (aka nian gao - made from glutinous rice flour, it is another type of "noodle" except it comes in different shapes/sizes - sometimes like oval discs or long cylinders. It has a soft, chewy type of texture, which really gets my appetite going). I also like to add extra ramen too!! This dish bursts with flavour and has a lovely bite to it. On cold days or even when I'm down this dish always hits the spot. (Btw, incase you're wondering, I didn't eat the whole thing myself, its a pot for 2... or in our case 3)

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Kim-Chi Dduk Jeongol - Spicy Kim-Chi & rice-cake stew with pork & veggies - $38

By this time I am stuffed, but there is always room for dessert, right? ...Also new on the menu are the Ice cream "sandwiches" & Rice cake icecream.

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Sponge Cake ice cream - $5

The sandwiches were delicious! The sponge on either side of the vanilla icecream were so incredibly light and soft and the chocolate sauce absolutely topped it off.

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Rice cake Ice cream - $5

These are parcels of icecream wrapped in rice cake. Not too sure what flavour the rice cake was but I did detect a hint of green tea. The rice cake was a little harder than usual but the more you ate it the more you wanted... its weird, maybe its the whole chewy effect? lol!

Ma Ba Sa
Shop 2, 390 Darling Street
Ph: 9555 6621

September 12, 2010

Mario Cake

To continue the saga of September birthdays, here is the birthday cake that I made for my little brothers 11th birthday... HAPPY BIRTHDAY DYLAN!!! xx
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The cake was decorated using fondant, even the characters around the cake were made from fondant. I made Piranha Plants, Goomba's, Mushrooms & Koopa Troopa shells. The cake was finished off with figurines, which also make a great present for the birthday boy/girl to keep afterwards.

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The same cake and frosting recipes that was used to make the Lego cake, were used to make this cake too. I used one quantity of the cake recipe but divided it between a 6" tin & 8" tin to make the two layers. Here is a picture of the inside of the cake.

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Tip: if you want more height for your cake, just cut each of the two layers in half. Then ice and sandwich each of the 2 layers together (i.e. total of 4 separate pieces, 2 for the 6" cake and 2 for the 8" cake). I added an extra 1 cup of evaporated milk to 1 quantity of the frosting and found that it was enough to cover both layers with a bit extra to spare.

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It was such a fun cake to make and all the kids absolutely loved it... so mummies (and daddies) give it a go and surprise your little one with this special cake for their next birthday! :)

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PS: Tutorials on how to make the characters coming soon, keep posted! x

PPS: Figurines were purchased from Anime at Abbotsford in a pack for $20.

September 9, 2010

Lego Cake

September has arrived... and so has Spring! Yay!! Despite the wonderful sunshine and bright days we've been having... it has been an awful monster of a week for me. Between juggling my social/private life with work, trying to get out into the sunshine and baking there just aren't enough hours in the week, don't you agree?

However, a big plus (depending which way you look at it) is, this month is totally birthday galore for me. Both my siblings birthdays are in September and this includes my sisters 18th! (yes I'm feeling the old age! *sulks*). My little cousin's (who is basically like my brothers twin) birthday is also in this month too, he was born just a week before Dylan.

So being the awesome cousin that I am (and using any excuse to bake a cool cake). I decided to bake a Lego cake for the little sucker! Happy Birthday Dennis!

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Moist Chocolate Mud Cake

Adapted from HubPages

This truely is a, very, very, very moist chocolate cake. It is not too rich, yet will still satisfy a chocoholics cravings. It is a very simple recipe, which is great to whip up if your pushed for time or just have a gazillion other things to tend to.

350 grams dark chocolate pieces
225 grams butter
600 ml water
3 eggs
400 grams castor sugar
400 grams self raising flour

Grease and line a 23cm/9" round cake tin. Preheat oven to 170oC

In a saucepan over low heat, heat chocolate, butter and water. Stir frequently until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Gradually beat cooled chocolate mixture into eggs.

Whisk sugar and flour into chocolate mixture, continue beating until smooth and well blended.

Pour mixture into cake tin. Bake for 45 minutes or until skewer inserted into centre of cake comes out clean.

Turn cake onto wire rack to cool.

*Please note: This mixture is quite runny, use a solid cake tin not a springform tin.

*Tip: Line tin with baking paper, this will make the cake easier to remove from the tin, no sticking to the sides.

Creamy Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from Frosting Recipes

I recently discovered this recipe and I LOVE it! By now you've probably noticed that I like to skimp on making the frosting from scratch once in a while and turning to the premade stuff. BUT this recipe changes every thing. It is easy and quick to make and results in near perfect consistency every time for piping (as it is quite thick and holds its shape). However, it is also very versatile as you can add more evaporated milk to thin it down for icing the entire cake or to use between layers.

6 Tbsp cocoa powder
6 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

In a large bowl, mix the cocoa powder and confectioner's sugar.

In another large bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy.

Slowly add the sugar mixture and evaporated milk to the butter whilst it is still mixing, alternating between the two. Also add the vanilla at this point, if using.

Can be refridgerated for 2 weeks, bring to room temperature before using (or you can microwave it for 5-10 secs at a time until it reaches the soft/spreadable consistency you want)

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