Dobos Torte

29 Dec 2008

When I was growing up, Dobos Torte was the celebration cake amongst my parents circle of friends. We always left the party with a brick of caramel covered cake wrapped in foil. I only ever ate the toffee and left the cake and frosting well alone.

When my sister turned 21, she asked if I would make a Dobos torte for her birthday cake. I made the cake from my Time Life Book on the Cooking of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I made every one of the 7 layers individually and whipped the cocoa butter cream with egg yolks and sugar syrup just like the recipe instructed.

My sister requested a Dobos Torte for her birthday this year so at Christmas time with all the family present, I gathered the ingredients and made the cake over a 2 day period. I used the same recipe as before though I did a bit of a search on the internet first.

Trying to pipe the butter cream in a kitchen that was over 30 degrees C was a bit of a challenge but I managed okay. With 7 layers of butter cake, interspersed with chocolate butter cream and topped with a caramel layer this is a truly wicked cake but very very good! 



27 Dec 2008

I'm heading back to Sydney today and thought I'd leave you all with a reminder of summertime in Brisbane. These hibiscus are in my parents garden and I shot these images early in the morning before the day became too hot.

My thoughts go out to all my friends shivering in the Northern Hemisphere whilst we're baking in Brisbane.


Fruit Mince Pies

24 Dec 2008

Well it's Christmas Eve here so Christmas is just round the corner. The festive baking is now done but we still need to arrange the turkey and the trimmings.

I really like fruit mince pies 'cos they give you just a little taste of Christmas. I made these pies for a work morning tea last week and normally I'd make a batch of these for home as well. 

This year we have a fruitcake, 2 puddings, a buche de noel and an extra special Christmas treat so the mince pies will just have to wait until next year.

Have a great day tomorrow which I hope you get to spend with your family



New Farm, Brisbane

22 Dec 2008

I'm back home in Brisbane for the Christmas break. On Sunday I met a friend for brunch at our usual haunt - spoon deli/cafe at James Street Markets in New Farm. The markets are busy every time I visit them - a combination of people eating at spoon or cru bar or buying provisions from the shops.

James Street itself is now home to many fashionable boutiques and design shops, eateries and the Palace Cinema. 

After a brunch of poached eggs and smoked salmon on rye with asparagus and oven roasted tomatoes we headed over to kova, one of my favourite gift shops. 

Every time I go there I always leave with a gift, this time for a friend rather than one for myself. On the hunt for Christmas cards we walked a little further up James Street to d.i.g, a sweet garden shop with a combination of plants, french provincial accessories and other goodies. If it were a little closer to home I think I'd be a regular visitor.

I can't believe that Christmas is almost here,


Letterpress gift tags

19 Dec 2008

I try to complete my shopping and Christmas preparations by the end of November if at all possible, because I loathe crowds. For Christmas this year I tried to do as much online shopping as possible.

I know I've mentioned etsy before but I do love it so. Unfortunately most goods are priced in US dollars and as the Aussie Dollar isn't so strong at the moment I've had to curtail my spending. Before I did though, I ordered some of these lovely letterpress Christmas gift tags from Simplesong Design's etsy shop. Suann also has a lovely blog.

I placed the tags on some branches over in etsy corner, so named because many of the items were sourced from the website, including the letterpress print and the ceramic dove.

Some of the gift tags have already gone to their homes and I'll be using the rest tomorrow when I finish wrapping my Christmas gifts. If I don't get the chance to post again before Christmas, enjoy the holidays.




17 Dec 2008

Nothing says summer like cherries. We have such a short cherry season in Sydney so as soon as cherries appear at the fruit shop I buy them, whatever the price. They are at their best at the moment, just in time for Christmas. I know I normally post an entry that involves baking but why would you want to do anything to a cherry other than wash and eat it? Apart from the occasional batch of cherry jam or a cherry clafoutis I don't cook cherries. As a clafoutis is way too warm to eat during a Sydney summer I'd make it for winter but as cherries aren't in season during winter, I'd use frozen cherries

I saw these beautiful white cherries at the fruit market last week and had to buy a few just so I could photograph them. I actually prefer the taste of the dark red cherries but how pretty are they?



Christmas Pudding

14 Dec 2008

I come from a family that does not celebrate Christmas, so the best part of the day is the food. For our family, Christmas is the one time of the year when all the family gathers under one roof and eats way too much. The best part of the Christmas feast is the pudding. When I was a little girl we used to eat tinned Big Sister pudding topped with custard, then when I was 12 I made my first pudding from a recipe torn from the pages of a women's magazine found in the waiting room of my Mum's surgery.

The following year I bought a pudding basin and made the pudding from the recipe contained in my Margaret Fulton Recipe Book. I cooked so much from that book that it fell apart and I had to purchase another copy - both copies of the book are still at home in Brisbane. We've been making the pudding from the same recipe ever since. I spent one Christmas in Canada when I worked at the Edmonton General Hospital and was horrified to discover that Canadians don't make Christmas pudding! I asked my friends over on Boxing Day and made 6 individual Christmas puddings so I could share the goodness with one and all. The puddings were a roaring success.

Now that I live in Sydney my Dad makes the pudding for Christmas Day but it means once I fly home I can't partake of any of the leftovers and I'm not talking turkey here. I had a brainwave and decided to make some individual puddings just like the ones I made in Canada. The little puddings are wrapped in plastic and stored in the bottom of the fridge waiting until I feel the need for some warm, spicy pudding topped with custard. 

You have no idea how hard it was not to eat the pudding I was photographing. It had literally just come out of the oven and it smelled so good. The only thing that saved the pudding was the knowledge that I was meeting a friend for dinner that night. I did nibble on the red currants though, the first of which appeared in my fruit shop on Saturday. Perfect timing.



Oven Baked Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote

9 Dec 2008

How much do I like rhubarb? Let me count the ways. I grew up liking the taste of rhubarb. I remember the first time I tasted baked rhubarb when Mum cooked it with low calorie orange cordial using a recipe from the Weight Watcher's cookbook. Fast forward a few years when I lived in Edmonton, Canada. We used to go to Vi's Cafe across the street from my friend Sandi's condo for dessert. That was the first time I'd ever tasted chocolate pecan pie and rhubarb and strawberry pie. Yum!

I posted photos of my oven baked rhubarb a few months back but that was before I remembered how great rhubarb tastes with strawberries. I made a few adjustments to the recipe and now have oven baked rhubarb and strawberry with everything. 

I make it into a crumble with diced pear or apple; I used it to top those scones I made a few weeks back; I eat it for dessert topped with yoghurt and every morning it tops my breakfast of bircher muesli.

I'll be sad when rhubarb season is over but then I'll make my oven baked plums with pears and cinnamon which tastes almost as good!




7 Dec 2008

Saturday was a scorcher of a day in Sydney. I made my way down to Coogee to the Coogee Family Fun Day held as a fundraiser for the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick. I was on the hunt for Christmas presents but I heard on good authority that Santa was visiting the beach that day. I found what I was looking for pretty quickly and spent the rest of the time taking a few photos of the area.

Sydney is blessed with beaches and Coogee isn't that far from my home. It's a well known backpacker location and the recovery location for the Sydney Swans. 

There are many great old buildings still left in Coogee including the infamous Coogee Bay Hotel. Coogee is also where my travel agent Kurt is based, down at the Coogee Bay Road Flight Centre.

I came home to work on a wedding album before heading out to Foveaux's for dinner. I was up early to do some Christmas shopping but came home without gifts for any-one but me. This has got to stop as I still have 1 present to source by Wednesday and another one by this coming Saturday! My present to myself was a pair of gold sandals that were on sale (thankfully) as the original price was too ridiculous for words. I misread the label on the shoes and they ended up being a $100 more expensive than I originally thought. I don't tend to take my reading glasses with me when I'm out shopping and it does land me in a bit of strife at times.



Butter Milk Scones

3 Dec 2008

A few weeks ago I had a rare day off and as I was awake bright and early I decided to bake a batch of scones. As there was some leftover buttermilk in the fridge from the upside down pear and ginger cakes I decided to bake some buttermilk scones.

The keys to making light fluffy scones are having a light hand with the dough; making sure each scone is about 2 cms (1 inch) high; keeping the scones close together on the baking tray before baking the scones in a very hot oven and then once the scones are cooked, wrapping them in a clean tea towel.

Scones don't keep well so serve them as soon as possible with your choice of butter, cream or ricotta and jam accompanied by a nice, strong cup of tea. That's what I had for my breakfast on that particular day,


Upside Down Pear and Ginger Cakes

1 Dec 2008

A few weeks ago I decided to make a large upside down pear and ginger cake to take into work. I was editing a wedding at the same time so wasn't really paying full attention to my baking. I'd made this cake years before and didn't remember having any problems with the recipe.

When the cake was baked, I waited 30 minutes before turning it out to cool only to watch the cake break apart into about 4 separate pieces. I didn't have enough time to make another cake so I quickly returned the cake to the baking tin and hoped that time and loads of sticky brown sugar would hold the cake together. It didn't but my workmates are pretty forgiving and reported that although it didn't look too flash, it tasted pretty good. It was liked by all even those who don't normally like the taste of ginger.

As I hadn't been able to photograph the cake before it subsided I remade the recipe, this time in individual moulds. I halved the recipe and made 6 mini upside down pear cakes with the mixture.

There is something very appealling about the combination of ginger, hazelnuts, brown sugar and pears.

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