Golden: Rose-scented Cheesecake on a Coconut Base with Berry Compote

So we embarked on a gluten free cheesecake baking adventure last Thursday and it was very well received. Too bad our gluten free guest couldn’t make it. I guess that means we have an excuse to make it again though, at least!

I was very happy to read in the beginning of the cheesecake section that all the cheesecakes in Golden could be easily adapted to gluten free. I love a baked cheesecake more than just about anything so I have high expectations and rarely do cheesecakes live up to them. This was certainly an exception.

Aaron and I divvied up the tasks for the cheesecake preparation: I made the base and the compote while he conquered the cheesecake filling. The compote is basically some frozen raspberries cooked in a saucepan with sugar and a lemon that’s been cut in half until it boils and thickens. Then you pull the lemons out and over a mesh sieve juice the lemons into the mixture. It is so much easier to get all the juice out of a hot lemon. What a cool trick! Then it has a bit of rosewater and some fresh raspberries and strawberries stirred through before being refrigerated until ready to serve.

The base is pretty much a coconut macaroon – and what a clever way to make a cheesecake base gluten free! It’s simply coconut, butter, sugar, salt and egg that has been mixed together, pressed into the lined baking tin and baked until lightly golden – this took me about 20 minutes, while the recipe said 10.

Aaron tackled the filling which had all the usual cheesecake suspects – cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, sugar, flour which he used cornflour for – and then the flavorings added were rosewater and lemon zest. We poured this over the cooked base and baked it in the oven for 35 minutes.

I was so skeptical of this cooking time. I’ve never cooked a cheesecake so quickly or at such a high temperature. But, it turned out perfect! No cracks in the top and it was set yet creamy. Hallelujah!

The only weird thing about the cheesecake is this little concave side we have happening. I have no idea why that would occur?! It made the presentation not as beautiful as it could’ve been, but it’s hard to complain when it tasted so dang good!

Thanks Honey and Co – I now have to try all of Golden‘s cheesecake recipes!

Throwback Thursday: PB&J Whoopie Pies from The Fearless Baker

I’m still totally addicted to the peanut butter and blackberry jam combo. One of the reasons I was really looking forward to getting The Fearless Baker back out from the library was because I knew that inside that magical book there was a recipe that would indulge that PB&J craving – PB&J Whoopie Pies.

The cookie is actually part wholemeal which makes it more reminiscent of a sandwich and it is light and chewy like cake or muffins. They were super easy to make and so satisfying to eat.

The filling is peanut butter marshmallow cream and it makes a huge amount! You make it by first making a sugar syrup and then adding it to whipped egg whites and once that’s combined you fold through peanut butter that’s been mixed with butter, salt and vanilla. I bought the good stuff – Bonne Maman blackberry jam to finish these off and they are easily one of the most amazing creations to ever come out of my kitchen.

They were messy to eat, I’ll be honest. The marshmallow cream being so generous wanted to ooze out the sides with each bite. I wouldn’t change that though, I wouldn’t change anything at all!

We used the leftovers to create cheats PB&J wagon wheels – I bought some chocolate wheatens that we spread with blackberry jam and peanut butter marshmallow cream and sandwiched together. There was no way I was wasting a single bite of that marshmallow cream!

There are still so many things I want to try from The Fearless Baker. One month going through that book was clearly not enough.

Golden: Vegan Ginger & Date Loaf Cake

Food52 Baking Club is going through Honey and Co’s book Golden this month and I just couldn’t help but be intrigued by their loaf cakes. I adapted the vegan was as the book suggests with their ginger and date loaf cake fillings to make this hybrid beauty.

The cake is a mixture of date syrup, water and canola oil that has been brought to a boil and then stirred through a dry ingredient mixture of flour, sugar, bicarb, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cardamom. Lastly, you stir in some chopped dates and crystallized ginger before baking it in a greased loaf tin for 30 minutes. When you pull it out of the oven, you simply brush on more date syrup and add some more chopped ginger to decorate.

I was surprised that the vegan cake recipe said 30 minutes in the oven, but when at 30 minutes I checked it and the top looked done and the skewer came out clear I promptly pulled it out, declaring the time had been right.

Or so I thought. I really should’ve gone with the date and ginger loaf time which was twice as long. While the cake was cooked on the outside, the middle is a bit raw still. Oops. Luckily it doesn’t contain raw eggs so it’s still edible, gooey and delicious. I’m such a ginger fanatic, I could eat the crystallized ginger straight out of the bag – maybe even to the point of eating the whole bag!

For my first recipe from this book,  I’m pretty happy and will definitely have a go at making this again with a longer oven time. Next up, I’ll be trying one of their divine looking cheesecakes. Mmm mmm….

Throwback Thursday: Almond Pound Cake with Raspberry Swirl and Glaze from The Fearless Baker

It’s been awhile since I’ve had The Fearless Baker in my hands as it is quite the popular book at the library at the moment. I was so excited it was finally mine again because I could finally post about this most awesome cake that I’d tried but no longer had the recipe for.

When Bible study is on at our place, I often experiment with gluten free baking because one of our guests has an allergy. I usually look for a recipe that would be fairly easy to adapt and this fit the bill. The pound cake is a mixture of almond meal, gluten free flour, baking powder and salt combined with butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts and milk. Then once you’ve poured that into your bundt pan you swirl in 1/3 cup of raspberry jam and bake it for 45-60 minutes depending on your oven.

I just love a good bundt cake – they look like they take so much more effort than they actually do. But I really wanted this one to have wow factor, so I decided I wanted a berry glaze to go on top. Erin has a berry glaze recipe in her book so that’s what I was going to use until I saw that her recipe takes 2 cups of fruit juice and reduces it to 1/3 cup, similar to the bourbon/peach juice reduction in this pie. I’d been unimpressed with the reduced sauce that time so thought I’d take a shortcut and pushed raspberry jam through a fine mesh sieve to make 1/3 cup before mixing in some icing sugar mixture and some thickened cream. It needed the tiniest amount of rose pink food coloring to make the color pop, and then I poured it over the cooled cake.

It is by far the best glaze I’ve ever made, even Erin commented when I posted it on Instagram. Gotta be happy with that!

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Sourdough and book review

We finally have sourdough bread! This has felt like a never ending task, but I knew Peter Reinhart would come through for me in the end. It turns out, my  attempt to revive dehydrated starter and my first attempt from scratch were sabotaged by flour that was probably bleached and so I tried one final time with new flour and lo and behold it worked! The process has been taking a bit longer than I’ve experienced in the past because our kitchen is so cold at this time of year. I’ve got the microwave proofing box helping now though and I think we’ve had good results for our first round of baking.

I cut back the barm to 16 ounces so the day that the barm needed to be refreshed I had a lot of active starter to use. I ended up making the Poilane Style Miche, which is a hearty wholemeal loaf, and the Basic Sourdough Bread, which I added blue cheese, walnuts and craisins to.

Both of these started out by making a firm starter with a portion of barm, left refrigerated overnight and then made into the final dough. The rate of proofing meant that it took a good 3 days to get them made from start to finish, but the wait was definitely worth it.

Today we cracked open one of the blue cheese sourdough loaves to accompany our afternoon tea of cheese and crackers and it is delightful – and I just love the purple streak that the walnuts give the bread. I am commissioning Aaron to make some of his pumpkin soup to go with the other loaf because I imagine the flavours are going to complement each other perfectly.

As for the wholemeal loaf, I’m still trying to decide if we just cut it up and toast it or if we should turn it into a “cob” dip for game night. All I know is, we’re eating a lot of bread this week!

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice is a classic for a reason: it is practically an encyclopedia on all things bread and its explanation of the methodology of bread baking and the sheer variety of different bakes in the book keep people coming back to it again and again. I love this book and was hoping to try out more than what I have this month (maybe if I’d had quicker success with the sourdough I would have) and I’m especially keen to make the English muffins and to try the cinnamon rolls in order to compare them with the ones from Bravetart that I love so dearly. There is no doubt that this book will reappear on this blog in the months and years to come. Thanks, Peter Reinhart, for teaching me to love baking bread!

To see my other two posts from this book, click on the links below:

Throwback Thursday: Chocolate Cream Puffs with Mascarpone Filling from Baking Chez Moi

Throwback to July 2017 when Food52 Baking Club was going through Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking Chez Moi – it was a month of pure indulgence and there are several recipes that I will come back to again and again – like her custardy apple squares, her double mint milk chocolate mousse and gelee and these: her chocolate cream puffs with rose flavored mascarpone filling.

I’ve come to find out that cream puffs are one of my daughter’s very favorite things and Turkish delight is up there as well, so during the school holidays as a special treat one day for being the only 2 girls in a house full of boys we held a little high tea in her new, very girly bedroom. It featured many little treats that we had been making during that time period (like the Tartine shortbread and ANZAC bikkies from Dorie’s Cookies), but this was the icing on the cake for us.

The thing that’s unique to these little choux pastries is the cocoa powder. I’m only just starting to dabble in making choux pastry, so I felt like I was really taking a risk trying these out. I like Dorie’s method for making choux, taking note to bring the water and butter to a boil before adding the flour (I went through a rut a while back where I tried 4 times to make choux and I rage quit only to find out I was adding the flour too early), and slowly incorporating the eggs into the flour mixture after it has sat for a bit and it’s been mixed to cool it down. I love that with the smaller size I can just use a cookie scoop to portion them. And I love the ease of filling them because you just cut off the top and use a spoon.

It’s the simple things that make this recipe so approachable and the flavor that makes them so beautiful!

She’s already talking about the next time we can have a high tea (or go to Max Brenner again – am I the only one who thinks it’s too expensive for what it is?!) and I think maybe during the next school holidays I’ll have to oblige her. Maybe we’ll find a fondue set or a chocolate fountain to be part of it.

Even her Phoebe doll dressed up for the party. 😉 The other items on our high tea platter were ham and cheese toasties, chicken nuggets and sausage rolls. And we had to have scones with jam and cream of course. We let the boys sample the leftovers. =)

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: French Bread

I’ve finally made another recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice! Although it’s not yet the sourdough I’ve been dying to bake…soon though, soon…

This wasn’t even on my list of recipes to try but I was flicking through another of my favorite cookbooks and spotted the French Onion Soup and thought wouldn’t it be amazing to make French Onion Soup and to have even made the bread for it?! So it moved to the top of the list.

The French bread recipe is a bit similar to the Italian bread recipe in so far as you do an overnight starter that you then turn into a proper dough. But in this recipe it’s called a pate fermentee and its proportions and rise time are different before refrigerating overnight. The dough itself is different too..there’s no call for strange ingredients and there wasn’t even any oil added to this dough. Pretty straightforward really.

My microwave proofing method is showing great success. The dough doubled in only 1 1/2 hours when it was to be left for 2. Reinhart says if that happens to knock it back and leave it until it doubles from its original size. Mine easily doubled. We got back from school pick ups and it had spilled out of its container. Oops.

You split the dough in thirds from here and shape it into baguettes before leaving them out to grow to 1 1/2 times their size. This took about an hour but could have only been 45 minutes so I straight away started preheating the oven since it needed to be so hot and set the dough on a footstool in front of the oven for the ambient heat (we really lack in a good warm spot in our house to leave dough to rise – sometimes we actually resort to putting it in our car!) – I had Aaron slash the dough before putting the baguettes in the oven.

Our baking method had to be slightly different than the one suggested because heat dissipates so quickly since our oven is on the fritz. I imagine we could’ve gotten more color if our oven would heat up enough for the initial baking, and we only opened it once to turn the baking tray around and insert the thermometer to monitor the temperature. I didn’t use the spray bottle method either, but instead put a pan of ice cubes in the bottom of the oven to let off steam.

I’m pretty pleased with the result of these. They smell amazing and if I’d had these out of the oven sooner we would’ve been eating them with dinner. Didn’t stop us from sampling later on!

Hopefully Friday I’ll be back with a full report of my sourdough “project”.

Throwback Thursday: Shortbread from Tartine

Throwback again to September 2017 when Food52 Baking Club was baking from the Tartine Bakery cookbook. I found out my daughter loves shortbread recently and so happily obliged by making the simple 5 ingredients recipe from this book that I saw many in the Facebook group had tried.

I liked how this recipe called for cornflour as a means to softer shortbread because I like my cookies melt in your mouth texture. I also like how this recipe is cut into little logs rather than big wedges like traditional Scottish shortbread. I was concerned though that I didn’t have the right size baking pan, so I just used a standard Australian brownie/slice pan and it seemed to work fine. But there was no way this was going to cut into 60.  The picture in the book did not show bite size pieces. I cut mine into 3 rows of 11 and they were still quite small.

The recipe was so easy to put together. Cream the butter until it is super soft, then add salt, then the combined flour and cornflour, then lastly the sugar. Press it into the lined baking tin and bang it in the low temperature preheated oven (mine is 125C but it cooks hot – most would need 150C). Bake until lightly browned then sprinkle some sugar over the top to give it a nice coating. Cut into bars while still warm to the touch.

If you line the baking tin like I did then you avoid the hassle of removing and destroying the first piece of shortbread because you can lift the whole thing out on the baking paper.

My young girl was so impressed that Mommy made her shortbread and quickly sampled a piece, then another, and another. I read some complaints that the cornflour altered the taste of the shortbread but I didn’t find that at all. However I didn’t shake off the excess sugar on top so that may have masked the flavor in the end result. I am so glad to have a shortbread recipe and will be making these whenever I need a quick cookie for dessert.

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Italian Bread

And just like that it’s May and it’s time for new cookbooks to cook from. Food52 Baking Club is spending the month with Peter Reinhart and his well known bread baking book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. For my first bake I made some Italian bread to accompany Spaghetti Bolognaise for dinner.

If you’re familiar with bread baking, this isn’t all that hard but it does take time to get to the finished product. You make a starter called a biga from flour, water and yeast and let it proof for a few hours before knocking it back and refrigerating it overnight. The next day you use this biga and make the dough proper with more flour, yeast and water plus some sugar and salt and olive oil. You proof it again until doubled, divide it in half and shape it into batards on a baking sheet. Leave it to rise again (mine was slightly overproofed thanks to school pickups) and then cut in some slashes with a sharp knife and bake in the oven until golden brown and cooked in the center (I use a thermometer to check). Then you torture yourself for an hour before you can slice it up and devour.

This was a really nice bread. I think it would’ve been better not overproofed and it would look prettier if I’d had the optional diastatic barley malt powder for the added color as this looks pretty pale rather than golden brown. I plan to make it again after I try a few different breads as we’re teaching our eldest to cook and he’ll be cooking Spaghetti Bolognaise weekly for the next little while. Quite convenient that this has landed during Bread Baker’s Apprentice month.

Throwback Thursday: ANZAC Biscuits from Dorie’s Cookies

Last minute on Tuesday night I realized I had no golden syrup in the house and so we hopped in the car with a mission to find some. And would you believe we had to go to more than one place before we found some?!? Why did we need it so desperately? To make ANZAC Biscuits of course!

But then comes the age old question: which recipe do I use? I’m not a huge ANZAC biscuit fan, mainly because my oatmeal cookies are to die for (note the not so humble brag) and most of the ANZAC bikkies that I’ve had are way too crunchy (I’m a soft cookie girl). I came to find out a few years back that the crunchy or soft thing is all about what sugar you use and to my surprise the white sugar yields the softer cookie and not the brown sugar. So to find the recipe that seemed most suitable to me I started flipping through several cookbooks until I noticed that Dorie’s Cookies (the book Food52 Baking Club did in its inaugural month) happens to have an ANZAC biscuit recipe, and lo and behold it uses white sugar! So that’s the recipe we went with.

ANZAC biscuits are very basic to put together, no mixer required. You melt some butter and golden syrup and stir in some bicarb that’s been dissolved in water. That’s added to the rest of your ingredients: flour, oats, coconut (Dorie uses sweetened shredded stuff), sugar and salt. Roll the dough into balls and flatten a bit onto lined cookie sheets and bake them. And Bob’s your uncle, as they say.

Dorie notes that she found her biscuits too sweet when she first made them and halved the amount of sugar. The sweetness in these were perfect but I didn’t like the texture of the sweetened shredded coconut. I will try these again with the desiccated variety and use the normal amount of sugar to see which I prefer. I hazard a guess that it’ll be the more traditional version, but I’m happy to base my forever recipe on this version with a few personal adaptations, given these by far have been my favorite ANZAC biscuit to date.