Sunday, 22 January 2012

Lamington Icecreams

Happy Almost Australia Day everybody!

Well, my life has been pretty boring of late. It's pretty much been a case of rowing and napping, repeated a billion times. Oh, and baking of course :)

As I'm writing there are angry clouds in the sky, and gusts of wind rattling the poor trees, who are sick and tired of being pushed around. They've had to endure the less-than-lovely climatic conditions for the past few days (and let's face it, most of the summer), and it looks like they will have to put up with the mean, wild weather for another week or more!

 This doesn't bode well for Australia Day, which is this Thursday for all you non-Australians out there. Australia Day is usually a time of hot, sunny, clear days, so most people would have had barbecues planned, or spending a nice, peaceful day out on the lake or at the beach...  But perhaps not this year!

Perhaps a 'Christmas in July'-type event would be more appropriate. Australia Day-in-July?
Maybe I'll create a sandy beach inside my house, and turn all the lights and heaters in the house on, and play backyard cricket indoors, with all Mum's breakable vases around. Sounds good, right?

I thought I was being really clever by making these chilled-icy-treat versions of the traditional Australian lamington. I thought they could be enjoyed on an ideally sunny, outdoorsy kind of Australia Day.

But aargh damn you unpredictable 2012 weather! It would seem that you have tried to rain on my parade again! (See what I did there? With the weather pun? Hm?)
But nay! These will taste just as yummy inside my house, on my fake beach.

But seriously, people, I am pretty proud of my little Aussie invention here. Lamingtons (for those of you who are not Australian) are traditionally a small cake made out of two layers of vanilla sponge, sandwiched together with a layer of strawberry jam in the middle, and coated with a layer of chocolate icing and dessicated coconut. So I thought, hey, this could taste super good in icecream-form!

I made two types of ice cream - vanilla, and strawberry jam, and they taste just like the traditional cake, except smooth and creamy and cold! I put them on paddlepop sticks and coated them in the chocolate and coconut, and then WOW THEY LOOK REALLY SIMILAR TO

I was extremely happy with the way they turned out. They look so similar to the real thing on the outside, and then you bite into the middle and get the surprise layered hit of vanilla and strawberry jam and it's so delicious and fun to eat and gah I love them so much!

Yay for foods that look like other foods!

I hope you make them and enjoy them, whatever the weather.

{Vanilla Icecream and Strawberry Jam Icecream recipes adapted from David Lebovitz' Vanilla Icecream}

Lamington Icecreams

Makes about 12

 2 cups full cream milk
A pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
4 cups thickened cream
8 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup strawberry jam
About 12 paddlepop sticks
350g dark chocolate
150g unsalted butter
3 tbsp milk
1 cup dessicated coconut


Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan.When the sugar is dissolved, and the mixture is starting the bubble at the edges, add the vanilla bean paste and stir. Take off the heat.

Let's make a little ice bath! Place a big (2-litre capacity) bowl inside an even bigger bowl that is partially filled with iced water. Pour the cream into the top bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Pour a little of the warm milk mixture into the yolks, and whisk to combine. Then add the egg mixture back into the original milk mixture in the saucepan, and combine again.

Cook over low heat, stirring  and scraping the bottom of the saucepan constantly, until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a metal spoon.

Through a seive placed over the top of the bowl on top of the ice bath , strain through the custard mixture. Stir over the ice bath until cool, add the vanilla extract, and then divide into two smaller bowls 3/4 of one mixture in one, and 1/4 in another. Cover the larger portion of the two with cling wrap, and chill in the fridge for minimum 2 hours.

In the smaller portion bowl, mix in the strawberry jam until evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Cover and chill, minimum 2 hours.

After 2 hours, remove the vanilla mixture from the fridge and churn in an icecream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Once frozen, but still soft, pour half of the icecream into a lined (cling or baking paper) rectangular or square slice pan, of about 25x20cm dimensions. Even out with a spatula, and freeze until hard. Freeze the remaining vanilla portion in a bowl or airtight container until ready for use.

Remove the strawberry jam icecream from the fridge, and churn in the icecream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. (You will need either a second, fully frozen freeze bowl to do this immediately, or you will have to fully refreeze the first one.) Spread a thin layer of the strawberry jam icecream over the frozen vanilla layer in the tray, and freeze again.

About 10 minutes before bringing out the layered icecream, allow the remaining vanilla portion to soften. Then, spread evenly over the strawberry layer and refreeze, minimum 1 hour.

Once frozen, take the icecream layers out of the tray, and, using a sharp knife, divide into 4x4cm squares. Work quickly! Stick a paddlepop stick into the middle of each one (as below), place back on lined trays or containers, and refreeze.

In a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water on the stove, melt the chocolate and butter until shiny. Let cool for a bit, stir in the milk until combined and thinned out, and transfer to a tall and wide glass or jug. Line a baking tray, and shae out the coconut into a thin layer.

Again working quickly, remove the pops from the freezer, dip in the melted chocolate mixture, and then in the coconut, coating all sides. Place back onto the tray, and then quickly back into the freezer.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Two Almondy and Oaty Breakfasts

Greetings my lovelies!

Well, January is almost halfway done, and the clock is a-ticking ever closer to the start of the school year. Gah! I'm trying to remain calm though - enjoy the holidays while they last, I say! Rowing has also restarted for the year, which is good and bad. I think I may have gotten too used to sleeping in! Whenever I have a break from rowing, I always take my extra sleep for granted, and then I get angry at myself when I no longer have the freedom. Such is the nature of the human psyche, I suppose!

My sister's birthday was a success - she got her L's and has started driving! My Dad tells me she's a good driver, but I think I'll have to be the judge of that! (Because, I, as a superior P-Plater, know absolutely everything there is to know about the rules of the road.)

Also I have been stressing about taking down the Christmas tree. I think I'm doing it tomorrow. I've put it off for ages, because I get depressed when I have to box away all the cheeriness for another year. But never fear, because supermarkets have already started selling Easter Eggs! Oh dear.

So I'm not sure if I've ever disclosed this on my blog before, but cereal and muesli are pretty much my favourite foods. They're AMAZING. You can eat them any time of the day, and I frequently do. They're just the complete package! Wholesome, tasty, and pretty to look at. And so versatile!

So yesterday I thought I'd whip up a couple of my favourites and share with you lovely people! The photography and recipes are quite simple after the exhaustion and extensive celebration that was the birthday cake post of last week. But I think the simplicity reflects the nature of these delicious breakfasts/anytime foods. They really aren't anything fancy, just yum!

So hopefully these recipes will turn into your staples too!

P.S. Will you just look at that lovely golden colour of the granola! Sigh... until next week, kids!

...and after!

{Bircher recipe adapted from Donna Hay's 'No Time To Cook', Granola recipe adapted from Joy the Baker}

Bircher Muesli 

Serves 4

3/4 cup sultanas
1 1/2 cups good-quality apple juice
2 cups traditional rolled oats
2 medium red apples, peeled and grated
1 cup natural or dry-roasted almonds, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup thick natural or vanilla yogurt
Blueberries and Milk, to serve (Optional)


In a large mixing bowl, soak the sultanas in the apple juice for 10 minutes. Then add the oats, and combine so that all the oats are able to soak in the apple juice. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.

Add the grated apple, almonds, cinnamon, maple syrup, and yogurt to the bowl, and stir to combine. Either serve immediately, with the blueberries on top, and milk to pour, or cover with clingwrap and refrigerate overnight (I admit it is thicker and tastier the next day, but by no means is this necessary - it's delicious straight away nonetheless!)

Toasted Almond and Hazelnut Granola

Serves 8

3 cups traditional rolled oats
1 cup natural almonds
1 cup natural hazelnuts
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar

Line a baking sheet with baking paper, and place the almonds and hazelnuts on it. In a preheated 180 degrees celsius oven, toast the nuts for 10 minutes, or until fragrant.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, cooled and roughly chopped nuts, coconut, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter, oil, maple syrup and brown sugar together until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is starting to bubble. Give one last big whisk, and pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, tossing together so as to evenly coat the oaty mixture with the melted mixture.

Spread the mixture either into a large baking dish, or two lined baking trays, and pop back into the 180 degrees celsius oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden. Twice during baking, remove the granola from the oven and stir with a wooden spoon.

Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Serve over chopped mixed berries and yummy yogurt, or with milk.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Fading Chocolate Layer Cake For A Very Sweet Sixteenth

Happy January everybody!

How are you liking 2012 so far? I hope it's treating you well. Me? Oh, well I am currently loving this year because four days ago I SAW THE FLEET FOXES AT THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE! Oh, how glorious they were. They are my absolute favourite band, and they exceeded all my expectations entirely. It was like they were heavenly beings sent down to earth to sing for us wee human beings.

Here you can find a link to a video of one of my favourite songs of the night, Blue Ridge Mountains. This video was from 2008, so Robin Pecknold's hair was a lot shaggier than it was the other night, but the performance was just as beautiful as this one, and even better because of the amazing acoustics in the opera house.
So I'm still kind of on a high from that concert. It was just the best thing ever!
Ok Angela, stop and breathe. Whew.

Anyway, onto some of my other favourite things! Birthdays, cakes, baking, yay! Yesterday I had the privelige of baking a cake for my sister Lizzie's birthday party - she's turning sixteen! Gasp! She's going for her L's and gah she'll be able to drive and how did this happen? Ahh, they grow up so fast.
She had a really cute picnic thing up in the Hunter Valley, and I got to bake!
She loves chocolate (and hey, who doesn't?), so I decided to jump on this food blog fad of making "fading" layer cakes. People also do those ones where they make each layer a colour of the rainbow, so when you cut into the cake, a dazzling spectrum of colours peeps out at you! So instead of doing the colours using mountains of food colouring, I decided to attempt to make a cake where dark chocolate faded into creamy vanilla. The layers worked really well, and were really defined - they went down a treat at the party. I also used my brand new piping set that I got for Christmas to pipe on the vanilla bean buttercream on the outside.
This was my first attempt to make a full-on massive layer cake with smooth icing, so I am pretty damn proud of myself! It took the whole day and I was absolutely covered with sticky sugary substances, but it was so worth it! It's not perfect, but I love it!
Also, I had heard of crumb coating before, so I gave it a shot, and found that it was totally necessary to catch any naughty crumbs that wanted to be stuck in the outside layer of icing! I still got some stuck in there, the little fiends, but my buttercream was vanilla bean, so the crumbs just look like little vanilla seeds! Yay, I'm so sneaky!
{Here's the recipe - inspired by the Purple Sprinkles Ombre Cake that Steph from Raspberri Cupcakes made, except with chocolate! Initial chocolate cake recipe adapted from 'Chocolate Magic' by Kate Shirazi, basic buttercream from Raspberri Cupcakes.}
Fading Chocolate Layer Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Makes one hell of a birthday cake - 5 layers, serves about 20.

For the cakes:
450g unsalted butter, softened
900g caster sugar
3 tsp vanilla essence
6 large eggs
450ml milk
10 tbsp sour cream
400g self-raising flour
6.5 tbsp cocoa powder
250g dark chocolate
100g unsalted butter, extra

For the icing:
900g icing sugar
450g unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp vanilla bean paste, or the seeds from 2 vanilla bean pods

Milk/Dark chocolate freckles
Royal icing - 1 large egg white, 1 cup icing sugar, food colouring


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease and line however many uniform cake tins you possess (20cm  diameter would be ideal).
In a large moxing bowl, beat butter, sugar and vanilla together until thick, pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Add the milk and sour cream and beat well (it may look curdled, but don't worry, that's what it's meant to do). Sift both flours over the mixture , and fold until combined.
Divide the mixture into 5 separate bowls. In one bowl, sift in 3 tbsp of the cocoa, in the next, 2 tbsp, in the next, 1 tbsp, in the next, 1/2 tbsp, and leave one plain vanilla. Now, in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, melt the butter and chocolate until smooth and glossy. To the darkest cake batter, add about 1/2 of the melted chocolate, and to the second darkest, 2/3 of the chocolate that remains in your bowl. To the third darkest, add the remaining chocolate. The mixtures should have a defined gradient of shading. Bake 2 (or however many cake tins you have) of the mixtures in the oven for 45 min, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cover the rest of the mixtures with cling wrap. Once the first batch is cooked and transfered to a wire rack to cool completely, repeat with the other batters until all are baked and COMPLETELY cooled. With a breadknife, trim the tops of the cakes so they are flat and level.
To make the buttercream, sift the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl, and add the softened butter. Mix with an electric whisk until fluffy and light. Add both the vanilla substances and mix well.
Stack the cakes on top of each other, darkest first, and in between each layer, spread a thin layer of buttercream, spreading almost to the edges.
Once all the cakes are stacked, crumb coat the cake - using a spatula, thinly coat the whole outside of the cake so you can still see the crumbs. See how they get caught in the icing? Refrigerate for 15 min.
Once refrigerated, spread a thicker layer of buttercream evenly over the cake. I used a spatula which I intermittently dipped in warm water, and ran vertically up the cake. Place freckles around the base of the cake.
To make the royal icing - whisk eggwhite until slightly frothy, then sift in enough icing sugar to make a stiff, yet pliable paste. Colour as desired, and, using a piping bag, pipe whatever the hell you want onto your cake!