Hello my lovelies.

I’m sorry I wasn’t on yesterday.

I went off to our plot at the Ballarat Community Garden and didn’t get back for 3 and a bit hours.

Before

Before

After all that weeding and mulching I was ever so tired and typing and internetting wasn’t really something I felt up to.

After.

After.

Thankfully, I had put a corned beef on to cook in the slow cooker before I left, so there really was nothing left to do for dinner.

That is, beyond mashing some spuds and cooking the Pak Choi I had just plucked from the aforementioned plot.

I had been followed home by a massive rainstorm, so it was doubly nice to tuck in to my meal knowing that (a) I had missed a drenching and (b) I didn’t have to do anything else that evening.

Dinner.

Sunday Dinner.

Today, I finally finished the shopping and hit the green grocery – so I’ll be publishing lists tomorrow. I also managed to make some Lemon Butter with my friend Althea’s eggs, and my friend Stephen’s lemons.

Little jars of sunshine to start the spring

Little jars of sunshine to start the spring

Then I started an experiment. There is a recipe for ginger beer in my mother’s collection and I have been meaning to try it for some time. This is that time. I’ll tell you in a few days if I was successful, but this is how it looks right now.

Ginger beer?

Ginger beer?

Tonight we shopped the fridge and I had vegetarian bean curry and the boy had honey teriyaki chicken; both over rice.

Tomorrow we will be starting the day with a celebratory breakfast. I have some brie in the refrigerator and some croissants in the freezer. These two shall be combined.

🙂

We have finance, Peeps. Life is good.

 

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Swiss Roll

The first time I made a Swiss Roll I do believe it was in my Home Economics class and I was around 14 years old. That was over 30 years ago.

It was also the last time I made a Swiss Roll.

In case you haven’t picked up on this yet, Swiss Roll making isn’t a high frequency activity in my kitchen.

Got it?

Anyhoo…I needed to make something for my Thursday lunch group.  It needed to be something simple and non energy-sapping. I’d just made a double batch of Lemon Butter and thought maybe some of that could be used in …  something?

Lemon Butter.

Lemon Butter.

Then I remembered that one of the ladies at the group is doing a cookery course and one of her assignments was a sponge cake filled with lemon curd.

‘What about a Swiss Roll?’ something whispered in the back of my head.

So I went with it.

I found this very simple recipe here on one of Jamie Oliver’s sites. I can honestly say it’s one of the easiest things I have ever made.

The hardest part was working out whether I had a Swiss Roll tin! I knew they were big and flattish but…so I asked Mr Google and found the answer resided here, with the ever delectable Nigella Lawson.

A Swiss roll tin is a specific tin that is designed to bake a thin, rectangular sponge cake that is then rolled up to make a Swiss roll (jelly roll or roulade). It has slightly raised edges (about 2 to 3cm/3/4 to 1 inch) deep and has dimensions of roughly 23 x 33cm (9 x 13 inches).

I had one of those. It was all good.

I also had all three (3!) of the necessary ingredients.

I used a stand mixer because I can’t hold things very well right now and I could just turn this on and block my ears. If you have a hand-held electric beater or whisk then go for it. If you have none of these things but are possessed of a balloon whisk and well-developed biceps, then feel free to join in the fun.

Heat your oven to 200°C/400°F.

Start with sifting a teeny amount of caster sugar into a bowl and add three eggs.

Start with eggs and sugar. Now beat.

Start with eggs and sugar. Now beat.

Whisk the two together until the mixture becomes thick and creamy.  This could take quite some time. I stopped at one point and decided to add some lemon zest to the batter just to tie it to the lemon butter a bit better. Not sure it made a measurable contribution in the end.

You can see it's getting a little thicker here.

You can see it’s getting a little thicker here.

It still wasn’t thick enough though. You are looking for a thick, creamy looking batter. You’ll know you’ve reached the right point when the beaters start to leave a trail in the mixture, like this…

Can you see the ripples? That.

Can you see the ripples? That.

Put your electric beaters away; from this point on being gentle is your game plan.

Sift the Self Raising flour into a bowl and then sift it again into the mixture. Fold it through the egg mixture using a metal fork.

Gently fold in the flour.

Gently fold in the flour.

I might be the only person you know who uses a fork for this, but it works. Folding is basically the same as stirring, but in slow motion. You are trying not to beat out all the air that you have just beat into the egg mixture. Think of the flour as just being there to stabilise that structure.

Once all the flour is incorporated, stop.

2015-08-26 17.17.03

Line your Swiss roll tin. Pour the mixture into the tin and spread out with a spatula. Again, be gentle.

Trim the paper after you've filled the tin.

Trim the paper after you’ve filled the tin.

Bake for 7-8 minutes, until lightly brown and fully set.

In retrospect, I think mine could have used a few minutes more...

In retrospect, I think mine could have used a few minutes more…

Now, this here is the secret bit so listen up!  I remembered this from Home Ec. all those years ago.

Mrs Wood would be proud.

You’ve got to roll it up while it’s still warm and let it cool that way. That prevents cracks (and tears ) caused by rolling up a cold cake.

So, using the paper lining, pull the cake up out of the tin and onto a cake rack. Decide if you want to roll from the long side or the short and orient your cake accordingly. Mine was to serve a lot of people after a lot of food – small slices would do. I went for the long side roll.

Pull the paper away from the other edges, so it doesn’t get rolled into the cake.

Pull your lining paper away from the other edges.

Pull your lining paper away from the other edges. As you can see, a few minutes more in the oven might have been in order…

Roll up slowly with the lining paper still on. This will stop it from sticking to itself when you need to unroll it later.

Roll up your roll. (Sorry.)

Roll up your roll.

Then roll your roll up in a clean, dry tea towel. Leave it until it is completely cool.

Roll into a tea towel.

Roll into a tea towel.

Alternatively, you might wish to remove the backing paper and use a tea towel in its place so that the fabric is holding the cake apart. I didn’t have any tea towels without a pile to hand and that would have only ended badly.

When it is completely cool, unroll and fill with lemon butter if you wish.  You might also like to use jam, or thickly whipped cream. Just remember that you need to roll it up again, so don’t slather it on or you’ll have filling oozing out everywhere.

Spread with your filling of choice.

Spread with your filling of choice.

Re roll, this time leaving the paper (or tea towel) behind.

Re-roll.

Re-roll.

I wrapped mine up, sausage-like, in cling wrap and refrigerated it overnight.

Swiss Roll sausage

Swiss Roll sausage

To serve, place on a serving tray and sprinkle with icing (confectioner’s) sugar – I forgot to take a picture of this bit. Sorry.

This is what it looked like after we’d eaten most of it though…

Cross-section.

Cross-section.

It was very well received.

Swiss Roll

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

3 eggs

75 g caster sugar

75 g self-raising flour

2-3 tablespoons jam/lemon curd

Method

Heat oven to 200°C/400°F.

Grease and line a Swiss Roll tin with greaseproof paper.

Sift the flour onto a plate.

Place the eggs and sift sugar into a mixing bowl.

Whisk using an electric beater until the mixture becomes thick and creamy and the beaters leave a visible trail. About 5 minutes.

Sift the flour (for a second time) into the mixing bowl and gently fold into the mixture using a fork.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out gently with a spatula.

Bake for 7-8 minutes.

Turn out of the tin onto a cooling rack and gently remove the backing paper.

Roll up using a clean, woven tea-towel and leave until cool.

When cool, unroll and spread with your desired filling.

Re-roll. Place on serving dish with the edge of the roll on the bottom, and sprinkle with icing or confectioner’s sugar.

Slice to serve.

 

 

 

Hidden Treasure Muffins

Allow to cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.

So, you’ve made yourself some Dulce de Leche, or even some Lemon Curd – now what?

Make these.

Simple, tasty, made from things you’re likely to have already and hiding a sweet(er) surprise, what’s not to love about these morsels?

You now you want one.

You know you want one.

A batch or two of muffins mixed up on a Sunday afternoon and stored in an air-tight container can provide you with a week’s worth of school/work lunch treats. That can save you quite a bit of money over the medium to longer term, especially if you provide your own beverage as well.

They taste better than most mass-produced cakes (there’s a certain floury taste to things made from a premix) and you get to look mysterious when people beg you to tell them where you bought them…

Get picky. Eat only the best, and that usually means things made from scratch – it doesn’t mean things that are too difficult to make yourself. I promise.

These particular muffins make use of things you’ve already learned how to make here: dulce de leche and/or lemon curd.

Before I start to guide you through it, though, just a quiet word. Muffins are sensitive souls. They need a gentle touch – one that will let them know they are loved and then leave them alone…

In other words, don’t overmix them!

As soon as all the flour is incorporated, stop. Just stop. That is all.

Treat them gently, and you too could have a platter that looks like this.

A veritable treasure trove.

A veritable treasure trove.

If you do happen to overmix them, it simply means your muffins won’t rise as much and will be slightly denser in texture.

This is not a tragedy.

This is a reason to try again and see if you can improve your results.

Shall we begin?

Preheat your oven to Moderately Hot.

Start by sifting your Self Raising flour and baking soda together into a large mixing bowl.

Add your brown sugar, but be careful to pack it into your measuring cup first! When you tip it into the mixing bowl it will look like those sand castles you used to make with your bucket at the beach.

This is a brown sugar sandcastle.

This is a brown sugar sandcastle.

Mash it up with your spatula or wooden spoon to get rid of lumps and stir into the flour.

How are you doing so far?

Believe it or not — you’re nearly done!

Melt your butter. This can be done in a small saucepan over a low heat on the stove, or in a microwave.

I use a pyrex jug for mine and zap it at 50% for a minute and then repeat until it’s liquid. Then I stir the buttermilk into the milk.

Mix your butter and buttermilk together.

Mix your butter and buttermilk together.

If you can’t find buttermilk anywhere, then a 50/50 mix of plain yoghurt and milk will also work; alternatively add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of milk and wait 5 minutes.

Break your egg into your butter mixture and whisk well with a fork.

Then make the ever-necessary well in your flour and pour the liquid into it.

Add the wet to the dry

Add the wet to the dry

Then stir – quickly and gently. Try stirring around the outside and then slicing underneath. It’s hard to describe and I think I may need to post a video at some stage.

In the meantime…just don’t beat the life out of it.

When all the ingredients are just combined. Stop. This is not a cake batter, it will not be smooth and liquid. It will look lumpy – like this.

Stop when it is just mixed together.

Stop when it is just mixed together.

Place some muffin cases into your muffin tray. You could just grease the cups, but the paper cases make eating your snacks a much cleaner experience, means they don’t stick together when stored and also make it easier to pack them for lunches.

If you don’t own a muffin tray (I’ve had mine for nearly 20 years, add it to your list.) then use a flat baking sheet or pizza tray and place double thickness muffin cases on top and close together. You could even do this in a cake tin, if you wished.

Dollop spoonfuls of the mix into the bottom of your muffin cups. Don’t spread or smooth the batter, just leave it as it falls.

Fill the bottom of your muffin cups.

Fill the bottom of your muffin cups.

Now for the fun bit. Deploy your fillings. I used a teaspoonful of dulce de leche per muffin in this example. It’s quite sweet and I thought that would be sufficient. You may use more, of course!

I would use a tablespoon of Lemon Curd for this purpose, but it’s still up to you (and how much you have to hand!)

It helps to fill a coffee cup with boiling water and dip your metal spoon into it before dipping it into your cold filling. The heat will cut through the cold caramel and help it to slip nicely off into the cups. There is no need to dry your spoon between dunkings.

Use a cup of hot water to help spoon out your filling.

Use a cup of hot water to help spoon out your filling.

Now cover your caramel with the rest of the muffin mix.

Hide the treasure.

Hide the treasure.

Pop into your hot oven to bake for 20 mins, while you wash up ;-).

If your oven is not fan-forced, you may wish to rotate the tray at the half-way point to ensure even browning.

When done, test by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the center of the thickest muffin. If it comes out clean of raw batter, it’s cooked. Just remember you may hit caramel or lemon curd too!

Allow to cool in the tray for 10-20 mins and then move to a cake rack to cool completely. Set up a guard if you wish to keep them for lunches during the week to come…

Allow to cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.

Allow to cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Muffins: If you tire of using your Dulce de Leche or Lemon Butter in these, and the budget permits, then try sifting a ¼cup of cocoa in with your flour and using a cup of Nutella to fill with.

You’re welcome.

 

Hidden Treasure Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Print

Ingredients:

2½ cups self raising flour

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (Baking Soda)

½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed

125g butter, melted

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk

2/3 cup Dulce de Leche or Lemon Curd

Method:

Grease a 12 hole muffin pan, or line with paper cases. (I find this makes transporting them a lot easier.)

Heat your oven to Moderately Hot – 200°C or 400°F.

Sift flour and bicarb into a large bowl.

Add brown sugar and break up any lumps as you stir them together.

In a pyrex measuring jug (for ease) heat your butter in a microwave for 1 minute at 50% power. Repeat until melted. (This step can be done in a small saucepan over low heat if a microwave is not available.)

Add butter milk to jug and whisk together, then add eggs. Mix liquid thoroughly.

Make a well in your flour and pour in all the liquid at once.

Fold together until just mixed. DO NOT BEAT!

Cover the bottom of your muffin cups with a tablespoon or so of the batter.

Place a spoonful or so (it is up to you how generous you wish to be…) of your caramel or lemon curd on to this and then top with the rest of the batter.

Bake on the top shelf of your oven for 20 mins, rotating the tray halfway through.

Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick or skewer through the thickest part of a muffin. If it comes out clean of batter, it’s done.

Leave to cool in the muffin tray for 20 mins or so, before removing to a cake rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

 

 

Lemon Curd (Lemon Butter)

Lemon Butter in tiny quilted jelly jars...

This is a fabulous, old-fashioned little spread which is quite easy to make and can deliver spectacular results.

The gorgeous colours of home made lemon curd

The gorgeous colours of home made lemon curd

It can do so with an investment of only an hour or so (which gets shorter the more often you make it) and very little money.

Even less money if you are given the lemons or own a tree!

But, before you begin, understand that this is not a preserve like a jam or a jelly. It won’t keep indefinitely.

This little jewel contains eggs and – strangely enough – butter. Refrigerate it and use it within 3 months to be safe. If you are giving it away, ensure that the recipient knows this too. Salmonella is not fun.

This is all you need to make Lemon Butter or Lemon Curd

This is all you need to make Lemon Butter or Lemon Curd

I like to use small jars when bottling this, it’s one way to make sure the entire jar is either used all at once or in very short order. Ball’s has small, quilted, jelly jars* that I’ve found to be the perfect size for my Lemon Butter needs. One batch of this recipe will fill 3 – 4 of these jars. Keep one, give the others away as gifts or bribes…

Lemon Butter in tiny quilted jelly jars...

Lemon Butter in tiny quilted jelly jars…

Alternatively, reuse small jam jars that you’ve taken great care to sterilise.

Recycled jars after they've been sterilised

Recycled jars after they’ve been sterilised

(Ask for your jars back when they’ve been emptied too!)

Lemon Curd can be used as a spread on your morning toast, as an accompaniment to tea and scones, or as a filling for pies and slices.

Keep an eye out for recipes like this popping up on this site in the future. *wink*

Combine your sugar, butter, zest and juice

Combine your sugar, butter, zest and juice

When you become more confident with making this, try substituting other citrus for the lemon. It works beautifully with the same number of limes instead of lemons, or try using two oranges or a 2 lemon/1 orange combination. Experiment. Enjoy.

Whisk over low heat until you can see the whisk lines in your mix...

Whisk over low heat until you can see the whisk lines in your mix…

Lemon Curd or Butter

  • Servings: 3-4 small jars
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

3 juicy lemons (zest and juice)

200g/7oz/1 cup caster sugar

115g/4oz/8tbsp unsalted butter, diced

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

Method:

Wash the lemons.

Place the first three ingredients into a large heatproof bowl, and set over a saucepan of gently simmering water.

Make sure the water isn’t touching the bowl!

Using a wire whisk, stir gently until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved.

Break up the eggs and egg yolks with a fork and add to the mix.

Whisk until thoroughly combined.

Stir the mixture constantly until it thickens and looks like a custard. The longer you heat it, the thicker it will get.

Take it off the heat when you are happy with the texture.

Remember that it will become thicker when cooled as well.

Remove from the heat and pour into small, warm sterilized jars.

Cover and seal.

Store in a cool dark place, ideally the fridge.  Once opened, always store in the refrigerator.

Use within 3 months.

* These are available in Australia now in Big W and Woolworths/Safeways stores at very reasonable prices. For some reason though I can’t find them on any of their websites. Which is a massive nuisance really.