Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tapioca with Apricots and Orange Blossom

I bought my first bottle of Orange Blossom Water last week, and the first thing I wanted to use it in was tapioca pudding. I didn't get the chance to make and eat anything that night, so I decided I would have a slightly healthier version for breakfast the next day.

I soaked 1/3 cup of tapioca in water over night, then drained it and cooked it with 1 cup of milk, a tablespoon of sugar, some chopped dried apricots, and a splash each of vanilla extract and orange blossom water.

It was delicious, but I wouldn't recommend tapioca as a breakfast food. It's almost pure carbohydrate and even with the milk, I was hungry again less than two hours later. The rest of it was lovely as dessert the following evening though.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cabled Beanie

The knitting project turnover rate has been pretty slow lately. I've mostly been working on a shawl which is now 0% complete, because I've ripped it back for the third time.

However, last week I finally purchased a set of interchangeable needles! So I'm gearing up to get some serious knitting done, and this is the first item finished:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Custard & Pear Cake

What I was aiming for: A light tea cake with a layer of vanilla custard and pear slices in the middle.

What I got: A giant scone with a layer of vanilla custard and pear slices in the middle.

I'm not sure if the problem was me or the recipe, but I suspect the latter. I knew something wasn't right when rather than cake batter I had a sticky dough to work with; that's why there's so many and such large air gaps in the cake. The end product wasn't at all bad, and if I had intended to make a giant scone I would have been very pleased. My flatmate is actually the one who noted the resemblance to scones, and she was more than happy to have seconds. And it turned out quite handy two days later when friend came to visit. Intending to bring scones, I told her there was no need as I still had part of giant scone in the fridge!

One thing I really did love was the white, vanilla seed speckled custard. My local supermarket only has custard powder made with wheaten cornflour, so until I remember to grab some next time I'm at a different store, I'll have to continue to use plain cornflour and vanilla. I added yellow colouring when I made the vanilla slice recently, but this time I didn't bother. The stark whiteness allows the vanilla seeds to really stand out, and somehow suits the pears.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Coffee and Apple Cake

Yes, that's my doona/duvet in the photo. I was sitting on my bed, just about plough into my piece of cake, the last piece of cake, when I realised I hadn't taken any photos of my Coffee and Apple Cake. You see, I like cake best when it's fresh out of the oven, still warm. So I bake when people are already over. Then the cake (or pudding, or cookies, or whatever) gets eaten straight away. So there's only photos if something is leftover the next day, and only if I can remember to take the photo before sticking that something in my gob.

This cake is a total crowd pleaser (unless it comes out of the oven looking like this!). I have one friend who, when my name and baking are mentioned together, will tell anyone in ear shot about this cake, even though I've made it for her only maybe three times in the ten years that I've known her. She even expressed more desire for it than a Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake! I think that's going a little far, but the Coffee and Apple Cake is the perfect afternoon cake. It's a very moist cake, slightly crumbly and best eaten with a fork. The flavours of the brown sugar, coffee, apple, and cinnamon work so perfectly together. Everyone needs a piece of this cake.

I had a pretty extensive look online for the same or similar recipes, and I was surprised that I came up empty. The recipe is originally from a Woman's Weekly cake book - hardly an obscure source. So here it is, with the small changes made by my mum and I over the years.

Coffee and Apple Cake with Caramel Icing

1/2 cup sultanas
1 tbs instant coffee
1/2 cup boiling water
90g butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 large apple, grated

Line a 22cm square cake tin with baking paper. Pre-heat the oven to 180 Celcius.

Combine the sultanas, coffee, and boiling water in a bowl, cool to room temperature.

Cream butter, vanilla essence, and brown sugar until light and fluffy, beat in egg; beat until combined. Stir in half the sifted flour, cinnamon, and bi-carb soda along with half the coffee and sultana mixture, then stir in the rest of the flour and sultana mixtures. Stir in grated apple and walnuts.

Spread batter into cake tin and bake for 25-30 min.

Caramel Icing
2 tbs brown sugar
30g butter
1 tbs milk
1 cup icing sugar

Combine brown sugar, butter, and milk in a saucepan, stirring constantly over heat without boiling, until smooth. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in sifted icing sugar.

Note: The coffee flavour in the cake is pretty subtle, so if you really like coffee feel free to make the 1/2 cup of liquid as strong as you can, and/or use real espresso. Also, I sometimes make coffee flavoured icing instead of caramel, to increase the coffee flavour.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Black Beans

A few weeks ago I was soaking some black beans (turtle beans) to make a salad, and I wondered if the beans would sprout. I had a look and couldn't find any pictures of the growth habit, but someone on a gardening forum said that they grow into bushes rather than climbing, which suits me just fine because I already have snow peas and sweet peas on my limited fence space.

Just over a week ago I put eight seeds in a container, and five have already sprouted!

I'm not sure how they'll go. It's towards the end of general bean planting time here in Sydney, so hopefully it suits them. I won't be too upset if they fail though. Eight beans out of a one kilo bag of beans - it was definitely worth a try. They're such pretty looking seedlings too.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Coconut and Passionfruit Two Ways

I wanted Coconut & Passionfruit Self-Saucing Pudding.

But, I only wrote down the ingredients and didn't read the instructions.

I got Coconut Cake With Passionfruit Custard Top.

It was actually really nice. The cake was really dense, but the passionfruit custard was great. I'll make the effort to read the instructions next time though, because as nice as it was, I wanted self-saucing pudding and it didn't scratch the itch.