Sunday, November 30, 2008

the pudding has been eaten, now for the proving

Well the caramel cake below was certainly full of caramel. I took Marilla from Cupcake Rehab's idea of drizzling the left over syrup over the time, and it certainly looked really pretty.

The cake itself was light and very very nice. I think I cooked my syrup a little too long and it was more toffee than caramel, but I like toffee nearly as much as I like caramel so that's OK. The icing however was way, way over the top. Far too sweet and far too much of it. If I were doing this again I would probably make half the amount of icing and spread it thin and flat. I've seen a couple of people who have done cupcakes, and this might cut through the sweetness a bit. Lainie-bird and I ate a small piece each (left most of the icing) then the rest went down to Princess for her clan. They'll polish the rest off, no worries!

But I do have an awful amount of syrup left over. If you've done this challenge and have worked out what you're doing with the leftovers, suggestions are most welcome. I reckon there's a Christmas gift in there somewhere!

You'll also see below that the fonts went crazy on this post. This also happened with the pizza last month. So this time I copied and pasted the recipe into word and then back into my post, but it still didn't like it. Don't know whether I should work out how to fix this or just live with it. The later most likely!

daring bakers - caramel cake

There's been a lot of non-food talk on this site over the past little bit, so Daring Bakers have pulled my up by my bootstraps and got me into the kitchen at last. This month's DB is a Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting. And first up, in line with the new DB rules, let me get the credits outta the way. This month's hostess with the mostest is Delores from Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, with co-hosts Alex from Blondie and Brownie and Jenny of Foray into Food. The recipe itself is from Shuna Fish Lydon from Eggbeater, but this particular recipe is available on Bay Area Bites. You can go straight to this link to get the recipe, but I've broken from my usual practice of relying on lazy links, and have tirelessly typed it out, to make it all metric for those so inclined.

Carmamel Cake with Carmaelised Butter Icing

Caramel Syrup

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelisation
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When colour is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels s
ticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

These are my before and after syrup photos.

The Cake

140g unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe above)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ba
king powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt and cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on baking tray. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

Caramelised Butter Icing

170g unsalted butter
450g icing sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.
Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add icing sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all icing sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Now, I've been a little late posting this, so I have to admit I haven't tried it yet, there will be guests arriving in about an hour and this will be our desert. What I have tasted (batter and icing) is pretty darn fine. Caramel is a favourite flavour of mine, and this has it in spades. The cake took much longer than expected to cook, so I hope it's OK in the centre.

This was dead easy to get together, even with the three seperate bits. My only advice is that unless you have multiple uses for it, half the syrup recipe, as it produces buckets of the stuff.

I will let you all know later tonight how the proof of the pudding went.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

film foot notes

I was berated today for seeing the afore mentioned awhstraliah - for being commercial drivel. And it's true there has been an amount of commercial interest in the film.

But I've been a fan of Baz's from the beginning. There's always a romantic tint to his films, and I'm decidedly unromantic. But there's more to his films than this (and you may have to bear with me, because there are several tangents coming up now.....)

First and foremost, I see his films being about transformation and redemption. Whether it's Fran who is transformed from the ugly duckling to the beautiful swan in Strictly Ballroom, or Lady Sarah who is transformed from the stuck up British trophy wife to the fighter in Australia. Redemption in the form of Scott Hastings standing up for his beliefs in artistic expression, Satine as she moves from prostitute to lover in Moulin Rouge, or the Drover as he learns to express his love for the woman and the child in Australia - they are powerful stories and ones that I'm sure we can all find in our own lives.

And then he paints them with such magic. Australia by no means has the glitz of Moulin Rouge, the sequins of Ballroom or the shimmer of Romeo and Juliette (or the script), but it still has a fantasy about it, the colours, the movement and the scenery.

And beyond that is 'the message'. Quite upfront is the story of the Stolen Generations. Non-Australian's won't be familiar with it, but the Stolen Generations represent decades of Aboriginal children who were stolen from their families and put into missions and trained for service - on the basis that their black mothers were emotionally incapable of caring for them, and intellectually incapable of educating them. These children were not only stolen from their families and friend, but also from their countries and their dreamings, which has lead to unspeakable hurt and discrimination in this country, and a lack of connection for these children with their past. And for many years it has made me very ashamed to call myself Australian. I've never felt I have a right to be here, let alone belong here.

This was, in a very large way, put to rest when the Australian PM, Kevin Rudd, took the bold step of apologising to the Stolen Generations. Something that has been desired by Aboriginal groups, and the Australian community as a whole for a very, very long time. But no politician has had the courage to do this. The closest was a former PM Paul Keating (a total legend), who gave the Redfern Address, many years ago.

But without the apology, I don't know if this film could have been made the way it has. It has started a real healing for this country. Nic is referred to in the film as the Rainbow Serpent, come to heal the land - and I hope this is what is happening here now.

But off on another tangent, there was horrible, hate-filled death on the streets of Mumbai this morning. I love India, really love it, and I send all my best wishes to those affected by today's bombs, and hope that anyone thinking of doing something likewise remembers Baz's lessons of redemption and solidarity.

This is Keating's address. It makes my cry like a baby every time.

(and this is meant to be a food blog?)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Movie Madness

This week I am on leave, after finishing one job, before starting a new one. So there's been sleep and food and beer. Can't ask for more than that, can you really.

Well me ol' cobbers you can. Today me and me mum went to see Australia (awhstrahlia if you're a local).

Blimey - or should that be 'crikey' - she was grouse (=good). OK, that's enough of the Australian-isms.

But it really was a good film. Laughs, tear, that Baz Luhrmann magic. Aside from the dreamy Hugh Jackman and our Nic, it had a star studded Australian cast, Ben Mendelsohn, the wonderful Bryan Brown, Australian film legend Jack Thompson (who was fantastic), David Gulpilil, David Wenham and Barry Otto, as well as some really cute kid who played, well the kid. I don't remember his name, but I suspect he will become the David Gulpilil of the new generation. And of course Bill Hunter. It's not an Australian film if Bill's not in it, but Baz managed to squeeze him in for one of the opening scenes. Non-Australians may not recognise many of these names, but click on the links and there's a good chance you know some of the faces.

Then mum made us a fantastic Thai style salad with grilled lemongrass chicken on top. And raspberry ripple for pudding. Can't get any better than that!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

lamb chops

I was at the butcher the other day and they had the most glorious lamb forequarter chops in the window. I couldn't resist. The lady behind the counter said 'I like to crumb them'.

And all of a sudden I was 12 again. My gran used to crumb chops and they were one of my favourite things in the world. The butcher lady said she shallow fried them, to keep the crumbs moist. I tried this one night, and then baked them the next - like my gran used to. Maybe it was just sentimentalism, but I liked the baked much better. And it's so easy to do. simply dip the chops in a beaten egg (add a little Worcester if you like) and then into the bread crumbs. bake on a parchment lined tray for about 20 minutes at 200 degrees, turn and bake another 20.

mmmmmm.... so totally delicious. and relatively healthy, which is unusual on this site. try 'em tonight!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

it's a bit of a worry, mr president

I've been smiling all day. because of the result in someone else's election.

freaky man.

so far this is my favourite election blog post so far