Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Daring Bakers...Baked Alaska

I finally got around to completing my Daring bakers challenge. This month the Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers have partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge the Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petite Fours. The sources of Elissa's chellenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop.

I chose to go with the Baked Alaska, mainly because the idea has always intrigued me. Again the recipe was quite laborious with three components to put together (cake, ice cream and meringue). I have never eaten pound cake and think it must be an American cake as I remember it being mentioned on Grey Anatomy once (both entertaining and educational). The process of browning the butter was quite interesting and not something I had ever done before, I think it contributed a wonderful flavour to the cake, and will do it again.

Overall I didn't think too much of the dessert, the meringue was really soft and fluffy, which is not my favourite thing, I find things that are airy in texture make me feel a bit gross when they are in my mouth. The pound cake was quite dry, which I think was caused by sitting in the freezer allowing the meringue to set and then blasting it in the hot oven to brown it off.

I would recommend giving the pound cake a whirl, it was dense and quite rich with a lovely flavour from the browned butter. It would make a good birthday cake if you felt like a change from a plain sponge cake.


275g Unsweetened BUTTER

2 cups cake FLOUR (never heard of, put 2 tbspn of cornflour into your measuring cup and make up to a standard cup with plain flour)


1/2 tsp SALT

1/2 cup lightly packed BROWN SUGAR

1/3 cup granulated SUGAR

4 large EGGS


Preheat the oven to 160C, place a tray in the centre of the oven and prepare a 25cm x 25cm baking tray with some baking paper.

Put the butter into a saucepan and heat slowly. On a medium heat gently brown the butter, it will smell delicious and nutty. Watch it like a HAWK it will burn easily. Once ready allow to cool, transfer to a shallow bowl and pop in the freezer so the butter congeals, but doesn't go completely hard (about 15mins).

Sieve together the flour, baking power and salt.

Beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla.

Combine mixtures gently until just mixed. Scrape into prepared baking tray.

Cook at 160C for about 25 minutes or until lightly brown on top and a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tray and turn out on a rack.

You could cut this in half and fill with jam and cream, or ice with a really rich ganache. The cake is quite plain, but a perfect base to impress.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The best muesli slice...ever

I cannot believe it has been nearly 2 weeks since my last blog....shocking! It has been a very busy couple of weeks, The Boss' Great Grandmother came to stay and we went on a road trip up north to Keri Keri, I love Northland so it was a real treat. I suspect Great Grandma left with a bleeding tongue due to the number of times she had to bite it, as she witnessed my attempts of 'modern' parenting. The wonderful thing about my Grandmother is she makes her own pastry and bread, she could not hide her disappointment when she caught site of my frozen bought pastry and bags of bread. So while she stayed she made us a wonderful bacon and egg pie, which nearly had me converted to making my own, yet to be truly converted though. She also made us a Yorkshire pudding, which I am going to have a go at asap, so watch this space. Yorkshire pudding is not for those threatened by heart disease, but is a delicious treat with a slow roasted piece of beef and gravy.

Onto this super slice I made for Mr Hoopers lunch box this week. You need a few ingredients, but things are flexible with this recipe so feel free to mix things up a bit. You may recall a previous blog for a muesli slice, well this one has similar ingredients, but is naughtier, and doesn't need cooking, fabo!


125g crushed BISCUITS such as malt, arrowroot or wine (not too fine, a chunky rubble)
25g shredded COCONUT
100g chopped HAZELNUTS or WALNUTS
125g ROLLED OATS, toasted (about 7-10mins spread on a tray in a hot oven)
50g chopped DATES
100g chopped DRIED APRICOTS
100g melted BUTTER

about 100g ICING SUGAR
zest and juice of half a LEMON

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Pour in the melted butter and condensed milk, mix very well. Line a 25cm x 30cm (approx) tray with some baking paper. Press the mixture into the tray and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

You can either mix the icing ingredients by hand with a vigorous stir, or throw everything into a food processor. Spread icing on the slice and decorate with a sprinkling of nuts or pumpkin seeds if you so desire.

Some variations you could try out...
-replace the rolled oats with you favourite muesli
-replace the choc chips with currants, dried cranberries, or crystallised ginger
-use macadamia or pecan nuts

I hope you enjoy this slice, it is so easy and a fabulous sweet treat to fill the 3pm void, and quite frankly who can resist cream cheese icing!

I am planning a baby shower at the moment, so if you have any hot tips on throwing the best shower ever, please share them.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Date Snowballs

Today began poorly. As Mr Hooper walked out the door for work, I clung desperately to his leg, begging him to pull a sicky. He refused. As the door shut behind him, I rocked gently back and forth in the corner of our living room, watching my 6.5 month old son move around the room leaving behind him a trail of destruction. The Boss has transformed into The Beast, he is crawling and pulling himself up, so I am now on strict concussion watch, his head is massive so gravity enjoys dragging it towards the floor at a tremendous rate.

To maintain moderate sanity I imprisoned him in his high chair, with the wonderful satisfaction that ultimately I have the upper hand, well at least for now, no doubt I will receive years of pay back when he is twice me size and has a drivers licence. So as The Beast writhed with frustration in his new limited dwelling, I set about making these super delicious treats. My Mum makes them often and calls them Date Slugs, I have changed the name to glam them up a bit!

1 loosely packed cup of soft BROWN SUGAR
1 1/2 cups DATES chopped finely
1 beaten EGG
2 1/2 cups of RICE BUBBLES, aka rice crispies.
about 1/2 a cup of shredded COCONUT for rolling
Melt butter in a pot, and add the sugar, dates, egg and vanilla. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and stir for 5 minutes. Allow to cool until warm, don't let it go cold. Stir in the rice bubbles. Make into small balls with damp hands and then roll in the coconut.

Since this mornings 'episode' I have eaten 5 of these date snowballs and am feeling remarkably better, perhaps they are also medicinal.