Saturday, October 16, 2010

Of swords and sponges

This blog may be about food, but this post will be partially about one of the other things I enjoy in my spare time : foreign (preferably Asian) films
Last night I stayed up way too late, 'bout 1am, watching two amazing films. First there was The Princess Blade which is Japanese. Next was Confession of Pain which is set in Hong Kong. They were both MAV but the violence was done in a way that was far from vulgar. The Princess Blade made me cry, it was heartbreakingly sad and the ending was not what I would call happy but it was wonderful The fight scenes using the swords were amazing, more dancing than fighting.
 Yumiko Shaku who played the main character Yuki was definitely the highlight, her acting skills are amazing! The character for a large part of the film was emotionless and she did this so well.
Confession of Pain was my favorite of the two films, probably because I am a sucker for a happy ending, well, happier than the other film! The perfect mix of combat, murder, romance and intrigue, I will definitely watch this again!

So, go and out and watch these films, because sometimes everyone needs to have a good cry, and a film is the perfect excuse!

Onwards and upwards - to the food!
Today I rose late (how I love weekends!) but I did not want to waste any more of the day, so I set about doing one of the most worth while things ever in my opinion - baking!

Never having made a sponge cake, I found a simple looking recipe and decided to try my luck. It was easier than I expected, and turned out very well. My greatest worry was having the two cakes ending up different heights, therefore not giving the cake the aesthetic I wanted.  But both cakes turned out well. 

 The two sponges

I then proceeded to add strawberry jam, cream, icing and a little heart cut from and apple until this emerged from the bomb-site that was the kitchen by that stage...

The completed sponge, made with love!

Upon tasting, it certainly is very light and fluffy but a little dry. Unfortunately I don't quite know how to remedy a dry sponge, more research is in order! I really enjoyed the sponge-making process and shall embark on this voyage again soon.

Easy four egg sponge

4 eggs (at room temperature)
2/3 cup castor sugar
1/3 cup cornflour
1/3 cup plain/all purpose flour
1/3 cup self-raising flour 
For icing:
6 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp boiling water
(approximate measures)

1) Beat eggs in a small bowl until thick and creamy. With your beaters set on moderately high this should take about seven minutes
2) Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time until, beating after each addition until sugar is fully dissolved
3) Put egg mixture into a larger bowl and set aside
4) Sift remaining ingredients together three times. This helps aerate and mix the flours. 
5) Sift the flour mixture into the eggs and sugar. Fold through gently until combined.
6) Separate batter evenly into two lined 20cm round cake tins.
7) Bake for about 20 minutes in a moderate oven.
8) Let the cakes cool to room temperature 
9) Spread one cake with jam of your choosing and then a thick layer of whipped cream, top with other cake. 
10) Make icing by mixing together the sugar and water until it become a spreadable consistency, you may need to add more/less water.
11) Spread icing on top of cake and serve!
***note cake will need to be stored in the fridge***

My next activity involved trying out my new mini-bundt tin, which is like a muffin tin except with  bundts instead of muffins!

I used a tasty and moist carrot cake recipe. Remembering my previous epic fail involving bundt cakes sticking, I made sure to both oil and flour the tin before using.
It took much shaking but in the end most of the cakes turned out well, and they taste great too!

The pretty cakes

This cake recipe could also be used for one big cake if you so wish.

Sour Cream Carrot Cake

3/4 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain/all purpose flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream

1) Sift flours, soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into a bowl, stir in sugar and carrot
2) Combine oil, eggs and sour cream in a separate bowl
3) Mix the two elements together
4) Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in a moderately slow oven for about 50 minutes (if making one large cake) or 20 minutes (if using mini-bundts or muffin tin)

So, an interesting and tasty last few days. 
Happy cooking!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

You must endure the rain to see the rainbow

The rain for me was in the form of a chocolate cake. 
My mother was halfway through making it when I arrived in the kitchen, she was heading to an appointment and left it in my care.
It is a boiled chocolate cake with orange that I have made many times. But having received a bundt tin for my birthday, I decided to give that a go. It cooked well, but there was an issue...
It did not turn out whole! I went out with friends while the cake was still warm so mother turned it out and oh dear! I did grease the plan liberally with oil but it seems it was not enough. Next time I use the bundt tin I shall use both oil and either sugar or flour to stop the cake from sticking.
But the cake still tastes good, it is a family favorite being rich and moist.

Boiled Chocolate Cake
1 cup water
125g butter
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
2 tbsp cocoa
pinch salt
1 3/4 cup self-raising flour
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar 
1 tsp vanilla essence

1) Put sugar, water, butter, vanilla essence, cocoa, bi-carb soda and salt into a large saucepan.
2) Over a medium heat, stir until boiling
3) Turn down heat and let simmer for five minutes*
4) Let cool until at room temperature (to do this quickly, put the saucepan into a sink of cold water and stir)
5) When cool, add the eggs and flour. Mix well until combined and smooth
6) Pour into greased and lined 22cm round tin (or any tin that hold about the same amount) 
7) Bake in a moderate oven for 45 - 60 minutes
8) Let cool in tin before removing.
* the mixture will froth up - but be careful that it does not bubble over. So keep a close eye on it and use a large saucepan

Sunday, October 3, 2010

In remembrance

Today means the start of daylight savings, the start of exam revision and of course, baking.
I sit in my living room, enjoying the view on what has to be one of the most beautiful days we have seen this year. Beside me sit a glass of milk and a plate of freshly baked Anzac biscuits. 
Some people like this tasty war time treat crispy, but I like them with a crunchy outside and a chewy center, mmmmm!
So today as I sun-bake, I think of all those men who went to war, some never to return, for their country. 
It doesn't have to be the 11th of November to remember.

Anzac biscuits - recipe -
We had no golden syrup left in the house, so instead I used treacle. This works in much the same way, you just end up with a slightly more sweet and rich biscuit. Also, the recipe calls for teaspoon size amounts of mix per unit, I did mine a little larger, making 24 in total. The mix also was a little dry, so I mixed some more treacle with boiling water and added that a teaspoon at a time until got the consistency I was looking for.

125g butter (salted is fine)
1 cup rolled oats
1 tbsp (20ml) treacle/golden syrup
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 tsp bi-carb soda
1 cup plain/all purpose flour
2 tbsp (20ml) boiling water
1 cup sugar

1) Preheat the oven to 150C.
2) Melt butter and golden syrup/treacle in a medium-sized saucepan, then add the bicarbonate of soda that has been mixed with the boiling water.
3) Combine all dry ingredients then add in the the butter mixture.
4) Mix to a moist but firm consistency, adding more liquid if necessary.
5) Put teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto a lined tray, taking care to leave plenty of space between each biscuit. 
6) bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. They will still be soft when you take them out of the oven, but will crisp up as they cool.
7) Let the biscuits cool on the tray for a while before transferring them to a wire rack.
Note: for a thinner, crisper biscuit, add an extra teaspoon of boiling water.

Tasty Anzac's sitting in the sun!