M is train obsessed. So it was a given that his birthday cake would be Thomas. Mummy baked two square cakes, bought the appropriately coloured icing and left Daddy to it. The design and preparation was thorough, to say the least, painstaking attention given to each detail. The construction meticulous until finally, after many hours, the finishing touches were applied. It was a huge hit, inciting gasps and exclamations of love from the birthday boy. Thomas even received a few loving kisses and cuddles, until finally it came time to eat it. Daddy was reluctant to cut the face until he eventually realized any attempts to preserve Thomas’ dignity was futile. 15 minutes and half a Thomas cake later, we had two kids bouncing off the walls, high on life …. and frosting. Ahhhh, the joy of a kid’s birthday.
Friday night pizza used to involve a phone call and a 20. Now it involves some fresh dough, an oven and 3 pairs of hands. We have a system that means perfect pizza in less time than it takes the delivery guy to arrive. I make up the dough at 5:30 and leave it for the rise. P and C come home in time for P to put the kids to bed while C and I prepare the dough for the second rise and organize the toppings. After the second rise, C and I stretch out the bases, an art that we are getting better (and more competitive) at. P is in charge of toppings, C and I then help with topping once all 4 bases are sorted. 8 minutes in the oven and voila! We all sit around stuffing our faces and commenting how good we are at making pizza.
I’m back into foccacia. I have made it for a few different occasions and each time it goes down a treat. Two different varieties, one plain and one with garlic and rosemary infused oil (topped with some fresh rosemary so we can identify the two). Then cut into strips and served with a bowl of good olive oil and seperate bowl of balsamic vinegar to dip into. Mmmmm, delish! This is a winner with guests and always impresses, especially when it’s fresh from the oven.
Here they are (at last, at last), my sausage rolls. I made these for an international pot luck dinner. The idea was to bring a dish from your country. Suggestions included lamingtons, vegemite sandwiches, meat pies and chocolate crackles. In the end the sausage rolls won out …. Here they are. They actually turned much better than I thought and were very popular at the party, although nobody dipped in sauce … must be an Aussie thing.
Had a small episode of baking mania and ended up with about ten dozen cookies. The first batch was the old fave, choc chips. The second batch of cookies was a very similar recipe with raisins and oats instead of choc chips. A nice change from the usual, made with the same, mixer free method. They turned out really well, so will definitely do this recipe again.
Half the haul!!!!
So I decided it was time to try out the fruit bread again, with a few modifications.
I halved the salt, added 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence. The dried fruit consisted of half cup each of sultanas, and dried cherries and (at T’s request lots of craisins) 1 cup to be precise. I also had to modify the kneading technique … or fruit goes a flyin’! The kids were hovering to collect the errant fruit that happened to fling out, as if it was candy at the 4th of July parade. The result …. delicious!!!!
I was cleaning out the pantry and found a packet mix that I had bought when we first moved in (pre-baking lessons, of course). I almost threw it out, but decided that was wasteful, so …. it became muffins.
It was worth doing just for the comparison and I can honestly say “Not as good as mine”. Home baked is definitely best, and definitely worth the little, extra effort.
Here’s the my first attempt at fruit loaf. Regular olive bread recipe, with 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (we are in America after all), and half a cup each of raisins, dried cranberries and dried cherries. It made great toast but needed to be a touch sweeter to eat plain. So the plan is to cut the salt and try a little more fruit next time. The working technique needed to be modified slightly to prevent flying fruit, but the result was still good. The flower (the official title is still up for debate) was a big hit with the kids. The little pull-a-part sections made the perfect snack.
For P’s birthday on the weekend, I decided to bake some cookies and indulge his love of GIANT cookies. I filled two cookie sheets with regular sized cookies and with the rest (usually enough for another 10-12 cookies) I made just two. We are in the land of the “super sized” after all … they didn’t last as long as they should have, but were appreciated nonetheless.
This is actually Chris’s bread, but he won’t post it so, I will…. This was my first lesson on sourdough, made from the starter in the previous post. The technical details I’m not sure of. But it was very crusty and very delicious, and look at those perfect points on the epi … textbook. The loaf we ate as toast. And the epi was just for snackin’.