Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

I know its been a little while since I have baked, but we just had so many goodies left over from Valentines Day, that we literally just finished eating them :)

I picked out three different recipes and gave Matty the honor of choosing the one I did. The choices were cappuccino brownies, coffee and walnut cake, and of course, cinnamon rolls. You know which ones he chose, but it was a close call between them and the cake. I didnt have any walnuts, so that left the rolls.

The interesting part about these rolls is that my mom asked me if I had any yeast, or if I knew how long I had to let them raise. I took another look at the recipe and told my mom that they didnt have to raise and there was no yeast in the recipe. Even though these are homemade, they didnt require what I guess most cinnamon rolls do require.

So what these did require was self-raising flour, salt, caster (bakers) sugar, cinnamon, butter, egg yolks, and milk for the dough; cinnamon, brown sugar, caster sugar, and butter; and for the icing, icing (powdered) sugar, cream cheese, butter, boiling water and vanilla.

It really was a surprisingly easy recipe for me. I didnt expect them to be so easy. The hardest part was rolling the dough up swiss-style as the recipe called for. And of course, rolling it out into a rectangle before the rolling part. I dont have a whole lot of room as you have probably seen, so I had to move my little "Easy Bake Oven" to have the room to roll.

I have to say, the icing was definitely the best part, and Matty and I agreed that we should just make extra of the icing and put it on everything - chicken burger, nachos and all! It was just that good! But really, the rolls were great, and Matty enjoyed one last night after dinner and we enjoyed them for breakfast this morning. Who would have thought that I would be making homemade cinnamon rolls in a kitchen barely big enough to fit me when we came to New Zealand?

Oh and this picture, surprisingly, was taken by me! I know - who knew?!? I do feel bad though, because Matty thinks he is out of a job now. But really, that was just luck I think. Matt is the real deal when it comes to the pictures!

I just wanted to also add a little note about the earthquake in Christchurch. Luckily, we were no where near the quake, so we didnt feel it, but we have some friends that did. Thankfully they are safe and alive, but definitely felt it emotionally and physically. I just want them to know that we are praying for them and for everyone else that was affected by it. Im so thankful though that our friends are safe. We also want to help in any way that we can, and will probably be giving somehow to Christchurch, we are just trying to determine how. Please join us in praying for all the people affected by the quake.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hearts, Kisses and Cake!

I hope everyone had a WONDERFUL Valentines Day! I know I did! I had so much fun preparing for the day too! There were so many things that I wanted to make goody-wise, and I didnt even know where to start. There were two recipes in my book that I wanted to try, and then I came across a great website that gave me the idea for the other treat.

For this first recipe, I had to go out and buy a rolling pin and some heart cookie cutters first. Of course I didnt have those, but I was determined to make these sugar cookies. Now for making them - as for the ingredients, I had them all; as for the knowledge, I had none! I have never made sugar cookies before, and i have never had to deal with rolling out cookie dough. I went out and bought a wooden rolling pin, because I couldnt find a different one, and it wasnt so bad, except the dough kept sticking to it. But I eventually figured it all out, and went to the baking part. I burned the first batch, undercooked the second, and by the third, I had it down. My only problem was that I started this so late on Saturday, that by the time I finished those three batches, we had somewhere else to be, so I had to refrigerate the rest of the batch. What I didnt realize that I should have done though, is wrap it then put it in there. So, of course, when I went to finish them the next day, they were ruined! Ugh, but what can you do? You certainly learn a lot when you do this, especially teaching yourself.

So anyway, I only had one really good batch and it still worked for what I wanted to do with them. And, of course, Matt took a great picture of them. And he also enjoyed some for himself :)

For my next goody, I cant take the credit for - although I wish I could because they were so GREAT! I got the idea from where, if you are ever looking for great ideas, you will find them there. She is an amazing baker who came up with so many great ideas, and even has a book called Cake Pops. I definitely want to get that one! Anyway, my lovely friend Maureen told me about the website (thanks Mo!), and I just cannot get enough of it! I found these little guys, called Oreo Kisses, and I just had to try them! Go to her website and you can get the recipe to make them too! They are so great! So here is the process I went through with some pictures along the way.

First I had to crush up 38 oreo cookies, preferably in a food processor the website says, but of course, I dont have one of those, so I did it the old fashioned way - Ziploc bag and crushing tool. Which tool did I use, you ask? Well... I used the back of a knife! Haha, why did I do that when I knew I had a rolling pin? No one really knows the answer to that question. Matt came up to me when I was about halfway done, and asked me that same question, and I turned to him with another question - why werent you here when I started this? The real answer is that I was already tired, and just wasnt thinking. That part ended up taking a long time, but it was worth it in the end.

After crushing, I mixed them with cream cheese, then formed them into 1" ball shapes, then onto the kiss shape. It took me a while to get that part down, but they really turned out nice in the end. The website then said to put in the freezer for a couple minutes, but as my freezer is the size of my thumb, I had to put them in the fridge for about an hour, and I couldnt even put them all in at the same time! I had to alternate with that, because my fridge isnt much bigger than my thumb. Here is the picture of them between the ball and kiss stages.

 When the kisses were all formed...

 Here I am in the process of dipping the cold kisses into the melted chocolate. I used dark chocolate melts, and this was the most fun part of the process. It was so great to see the almost finished product, and who can say dipping things in chocolate isnt fun - really?!

 Dont they already look scrum-diddly-umptious?

 Once all dipped, back in the fridge they go to harden. Then, to give them the ultimate "kiss" looking presentation, I cut up tin foil and wrote out cute little Valentines messages on some paper and wrapped them all up. All of this, was, of course from her website too. I cant take credit for any part of this recipe, except that mine did turn out the way they should have. They were super yummy as well as pretty! I even gave Matt the honor of being the one to take the first bite for this picture. I was very proud of doing this recipe; it was very labor-intensive, but so worth it in the end.

 The finished product was that I took two heart cookies, three kisses, and a few of my homemade chocolate chip cookies and put them into goody bags and handed them out to some of Matty's coworkers on Valentines Day. They were all pleased that I had some goodies for them, and when they tasted the "kisses", they were very pleasantly surprised - or so Matt told me :) It made me happy anyway!

Last, but not least, was the Valentine's Day Cake, or as the recipe book calls it, Valentine Chocolate Heart Cake. Well, again, I didnt have the heart cake pan, and I couldnt find one despite my efforts, so I resorted to a round pan. The recipe also called for the cake to have fresh (or frozen) raspberries, but when I went to the store to get some, the harvest was out. There wasnt even any strawberries, and I dont need to re-iterate about my freezer, so I just went with nothing, although that would have made it look really pretty.

This recipe called for self-raising flour, baking powder, cocoa powder (a lot of it), eggs, muscovado sugar, which is just a fine brown sugar, oil, single cream (like 1/2 and 1/2), and then for the icing, chocolate (I used dark) and double cream (heavy whipping cream). It was pretty easy to make, albeit messy! The hard part came when doing the icing. The recipe said to cut the cake in half horizontally, and spread raspberry jelly, the chocolate icing, and fresh raspberries (which of course I didnt have) and sandwich the halves back together. That didnt work out so well for me, as the halves were pretty thin and kept falling apart. The top half became more like the top 4 quarters, but thats ok. In the end, it still looked pretty and was very yummy, although Im not a huge cake person. The icing was also a very messy part, but I enjoyed scooping up the chocolate and accidentally letting it fall into my mouth :)

So there you have it - our Valentines Day treats. Needless to say, Matty was very happy with these treats, as were others at his work. And, as I was making the kisses, it really hit me that I was doing what I was meant to be doing, even if it isnt always easy, and I have some recipes that dont turn out to be perfect. I realized that I could very easily do this everyday. Just to see the look on people's faces when they have something so yummy really gives me a good feeling. Matt got me a really cute New Zealand apron and my first recipe box for V-Day, and I have already written some recipes, and cant wait to use my apron! And I helped him with his passion too, with Beauty and the Beast, and a drawing book. We are just too good to each other!

Thanks for all the great comments, and keep checking in :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chocolate and Vanilla Marbled Loaf

This isnt one of the recipes that I originally had marked in the book, so I am now up to 56 recipes instead of 55. I dont know why, though, that I didnt mark it off in the beginning, because look how yummy it looks. It was yummy too :). Lately I have been trying to make  recipes with ingredients that I already have, so I dont have 10 different kinds of oil and 5 different kinds of flour. We dont have the storage space, so I have been trying to be aware of that. The only thing I had to buy for this one was the chocolate, so I was okay with that.

This marbled loaf had chocolate, vanilla, milk, butter, caster sugar, sour cream, flour and baking powder. You make the mixer, then split it in half, adding chocolate to one half and vanilla to the other. Then of course, to get the marbled effect, you add them to the loaf tin separately and swirl with a knife or skewer. That is easier said than done! Maybe I just havent mastered it yet, but luckily, that doesnt mess with the taste of the finished product. The recipe also said to bake it at 325 F, and as we already know, my oven doesnt let me choose the temperature, so I went with Mark 4. The recipe said to bake it for 45 minutes, or until firm to the touch and well risen. I baked it for 45 minutes and touched it, and it was firm to the touch. I pulled it out, let it cool and took it out of the tin. I realized that it was falling apart a bit, and it didnt look as risen as it should have, but again, that didnt seem to mess with the taste, so I am okay with that for this time. I have learned and next time, I will let it rise more, but for now, we are enjoying the taste. Matt even said that he liked it better than the molten cupcakes, so I would definitely say success.

Matt has eaten it every chance he can, and we are thinking about having some fondue tonight and dipping the loaf in there. Good idea you think? I hope so! And just a quick side-bar, I tried to take pictures of the bread, because Matt wasnt home yet, and I must have taken 15 pictures, and they all sucked! We have determined that I am the baker, Matt is the photographer and enjoyer of the goods (he gets more than I do anyway)! :) At least we know our roles haha.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Banana Loaf and Molten-Centered Chocolate Cupcakes

I have been wanting to make some sort of bread loaf since I got this book now, but I havent had a loaf tin, so this weekend we went to my favorite kitchen store here (Living and Giving), and bought a silicone one, as well as a new apron (yay!), as I havent had one up until now, and I am so glad that I do now. I make a huge mess when I bake, but isnt that the point anyway?!?!

Now that I have the loaf tin, I am going to be baking bread like crazy, and I started it out with banana bread. I love banana bread, and I have never made it myself, so what a perfect time to try! The only thing that I didnt like about the recipe in this book, was that it didnt have chocolate chips! What is this madness?!? Banana bread with no chocolate chips?! I dont think so! Ha, so I added some in, and I think that it turned out to be great! The only other issues I had with this recipe was that it called for white self-raising flour and brown self-raising flour, and the store only had white, so that is what I made the bread with. The recipe also called for demerara sugar, which I didnt know what that was. I did however find it at the store right away, so that worked out. And lastly, it called for rapeseed oil, which I thought I knew what it was (I was wrong) and I couldnt find it at the store, so I substituted it with grapeseed oil (though just maybe it was a typo), which turned out to not ruin the recipe, so it was okay. I found out later, though, that rapeseed oil is just canola oil (thanks to google), but it didnt seem to make too much of a difference.

The recipe said that it needed to bake for an hour, and then to check it and bake it longer if needed. Well it definitely wasnt done after an hour, but the top got a little burned (thanks to the tiny toaster oven), but overall, it took about an hour and 25 minutes, and the top was a little burned, but it was/is very yummy!

While the bread was baking, I was thinking that I still wanted to bake, so I went through the recipe book, looking for a recipe that called for ingredients that I had already. I know this is not the best way to look for a recipe, as I should have learned with the Sachertorte, but I did it anyway, and this time, it actually worked out okay.

They are called Molten-Centered Chocolate Cupcakes, and though you cant see in the picture, they have melted chocolate in the center (hence the name). It has butter, caster sugar, 1 egg, self-raising flour, cocoa powder, chocolate (I used dark chocolate), and icing or powdered sugar, just for dusting on the top. It was also a super easy recipe to mix, but the hard part came when putting it in the muffin tin. It said to put in half, then put the chocolate in, then put the rest on top of the chocolate, but easier said than done. The mixture was very sticky, and to make a divot in the mix in MINI muffin tins for the chocolate... not easy.

But, after I figured out how to work that out, they baked and they came out of the oven looking great, and they even tasted great. Matt came home and thought it was his birthday. He got banana bread, cupcakes (with his favorite - chocolate!) and some wine. It was a great evening for him, but I had to convince him to take pictures before he inhaled all the yummy treats! It was worth it I think. Dont those look so great with the powdered sugar? YUM!

Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins

Since we have been in New Zealand, we have found that Matt actually likes bagels, which is a new thing. He also likes cream cheese too now, but that is besides the point. So his favorite type of bagel is poppy seed, which is how this relates to this post. I was looking through the recipe book, and I saw a recipe for poppy seed muffins, and I thought that Matt might really like them, so I decided to try it.

I have to start out though by telling you that I am very afraid to use lemon in my recipes, because one Valentine's Day, oh so very long ago, Matt and I tried to make a pasta dish that called for lemon, and we put way too much lemon in the recipe, and it ruined the meal. So I proceed with caution now anytime a recipe calls for it.

So this recipe has flour, baking powder, caster sugar, poppy seeds, butter, 1 egg, milk, and of course, lemon rind and juice of one lemon in it. The recipe was quite simple to make, but again, I was most definitely nervous about the lemon juice part. It also wanted the rind, which meant that I needed a zester. Just one more thing that I dont have in my tiny kitchen. So, I did find a lie-down cheese grater/zester combo, and on top of that, I found it for 3NZD, so I was pretty happy. By the way, still dont have a hand mixer, but I will soon Im sure. Those, unlike the grater, are expensive. Hopefully Ill be able to find one cheap. But anyway, back to the recipe.

I think my favorite part of this recipe was the poppy seeds, because it said to toast them over medium heat for less than a minute, shaking the frying pan so they dont burn. I felt like a real chef doing that, and it was fun. :) So overall, the mixture was sticky, but super easy to make, and best of all of course, was that Matt really liked them. Unfortunately though, I left them out on a plate overnight, because my Tupperware dishes were being used by my Hummingbird Cake and Chocolate Chip Cookies, so they had to stay out, and they went bad pretty quick, but not too soon. We did get to enjoy a lot of them.

So speaking of Valentine's Day, it is coming up soon! Im very excited about that, and I want to make a cake (also in the book) that is a heart, and make some heart shaped cookies, but of course, I dont have a heart shaped cake pan or heart cookie cutters... Not sure what I am going to do about those, but Im still excited about it. So keep checking in! But for now, the beautiful picture Matty took of the muffins before they went bad.