Party Food

Cinnamon Doughnuts – Daring Bakers Challenge October 2010

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010



The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

Will this year get any busier?? I hope not – but I’m pretty sure it will.

October has been an amazing month. Birthdays always have a huge presence in October – with my family and friends accounting for at least 7 birthdays.

I did manage to fit in the Daring Bakers Challenge this month, though I couldn’t cater to all the requests (custard filled doughnuts didn’t make it). I ended up making the common cinnamon sugared doughnuts – which I often crave whilst out at the shops (and no – I don’t buy them even 10% of the time I want them).

I made these doughnuts the day after my first progressive dinner with friends. It was a lovely long evening with good friends, good food, lots of laughs and full tummies. I bet you can guess what course I cooked for the dinner?

Back to the doughnuts – these were lovely and you couldn’t get them any fresher. They were soft and delicious and even tasted ok the next day.

We tried to encase some chocolate inside some of the leftover dough and fry that, but either the cooking time wasn’t long enough or the dough was thicker (due to more handling) and didn’t cook as well. So, the chocolate filled doughnuts were still a bit raw inside…

I also tried the dough in a mini doughnut maker I was given – although it didn’t work, and I expect the recipe for the doughnut maker works a lot better.

For the recipe I used (and have given below), I felt that there was too much oil used in the saucepan. These doughnuts floated, and therefore you only need the oil a little deeper than half the height of the doughnut.

Even though I loved the doughnuts, I don’t tend to fry many things, mainly due to the excess oil that is often wasted. I did enjoy this challenge though. Thanks to our host for providing so many recipes and ideas for this month’s challenge.

Yeast Doughnuts

Preparation time:
Hands on prep time – 25 minutes
Rising time – 1.5 hours total
Cooking time – 12 minutes

Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size

Ingredients
Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml
Vegetable Shortening 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz (can substitute butter, margarine or lard) – I used butter
Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.) / 22.5 ml / 14 gm / ½ oz
Warm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
Eggs, Large, beaten 2
White Granulated Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 oz
Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 oz
Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp. / 5 ml / 6 gm / ¼ oz
All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup / 1,120 ml / 650 gm / 23 oz + extra for dusting surface
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)

Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)

Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.

Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.

Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.

Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.

Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).

Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.

Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).

Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired. Allow to cool slightly before coating in cinnamon sugar.

Cinnamon Sugar:
Mix together ¾ cup caster sugar with ½ teaspoon cinnamon for coating the doughnuts.

Decorated Sugar Cookies – Daring Bakers Challenge September 2010

Monday, September 27th, 2010

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

This challenge came at the perfect time, right before a High Tea that was being held at work. And just before my two week holiday – during which I would certainly not get these made. So I made these cookies right at the beginning of the month (and left it to the last minute to post it).

I tried to do a few different designs on my cookies, although not many turned out as pretty as I would have liked.

One of the mandatory elements for this month’s challenge was that it had to be the theme of September, whatever it means to each of us. For me, September is the start of Spring – my favourite season of the year. We have just had gorgeous flowers appearing in our garden. I recently bought three orchids, and after buying these, we found one in our garden which we had never noticed before. Then I was given oodles of them from both my Grandma and my Mum’s neighbour.

My sweet peas have flowered themselves silly. Last year I found my favourite one and once the seeds dried, I threw them around the garden, without Nick knowing and they have formed a jungle – and I love it.

I also discovered that previous owners have planted daffodils and although they didn’t flower last year, I’m so glad they did this year.

With such fantastic inspiration for this challenge, I tried to make flower inspired cookies. Most of which didn’t turn out as well as planned. Although the love heart ones will just have to symbolise my love of Spring.

The biscuits themselves were quite plain, as expected. For the time, effort and taste I probably won’t make these again, although I always enjoy trying something new.

Thanks again to our host for this month and the daring kitchen team!

Basic Sugar Cookies

Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4″ Cookies

200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming creamy in texture.
• Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during baking, losing their shape.

Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
• Tip: I don’t have a stand mixer so I find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoid flour flying everywhere.

Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.

Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)

Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
• Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.

Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.

Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.

Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
• Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.

Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.

Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
• Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in
some cookies being baked before others are done.
• Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.

Leave to cool on cooling racks.

Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
• Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated cookies can last up to a month.

Royal Icing

315g – 375g / 11oz – 13oz / 2½ – 3 cups Icing / Confectioner’s / Powdered Sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
10ml / 2 tsp Lemon Juice
5ml / 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional

Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
• Tip: It’s important that the bowls/spoons/spatulas and beaters you use are thoroughly cleaned and grease free.

Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.
• Tip: I’ve listed 2 amounts of icing sugar, the lesser amount is good for a flooding consistency, and the larger amount is for outlining, but you can add even more for a much thicker consistency good for writing. If you add too much icing sugar or would like to make a thinner consistency, add very small amounts of water, a few drops at a time, until you reach the consistency you need.

Beat on low until combined and smooth.

Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.
• Tip: Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use.

Decorating Your Cookies: Flooding
“Flooding” a cookie is a technique used when covering a cookie with Royal Icing.
1. You outline the area you want to flood which helps create a dam
2. Then fill or flood inside the area you’ve outlined

Decorating Your Cookies: Royal Icing
The most important thing when it comes to decorating with Royal Icing is the consistency.

There are two ways of flooding your cookies. Some like to do the outline with a thicker icing and then flood with a thinner icing. Some like to use the same icing to do both which saves time and you don’t have to have two different piping bags for each colour you’re using.

The Same Consistency Method
Consistency:

Mix your royal icing according to the recipe/instructions

Drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing and count to 10

If the surface becomes smooth between 5 & 10 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency
• Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, do the 10 second test, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.
• Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 10 second test


Two Different Consistencies Method

Consistency:

Mix your royal icing according to the recipe/instructions.

Separate into 2 different bowls, one lot of icing for outlining, the other for flooding.

For the outlining icing, drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing.

If the surface becomes smooth at around 10 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency.
• Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, count to 10 seconds, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.
• Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 10 second test.

For the flooding/filling icing, drag a knife through the surface of the Royal Icing.

If the surface becomes smooth at around 3-4 seconds, the icing is at the correct consistency.
• Tip: If your icing is too thick, thin it by adding a few drops of water. Mix, count to 3-4 seconds, then if it’s still too thick, add a few more drops of water, repeat, etc.
• Tip: To thicken your icing, add small amounts of icing sugar until thick enough for the 3-4 second test.

Colouring
Separate Royal Icing into separate bowls for each colour you plan on using.
• Tip: Make sure to cover the bowls with cling film or a damp cloth to prevent the top from setting and then making lumps

Using a toothpick, add gel or paste colouring to each bowl and mix thoroughly until desired colour is reached
• Tip: You can use liquid food colouring but you might not be able to get the desired strength of colour, liquid colouring will also thin out the icing so you’ll need to add more icing sugar to thicken it again.

Prepping and Filling Your Bag
Attach your icing tips to the piping bags using couplers
• Tip: You don’t need to use a coupler but it makes it easier if you want to change tip sizes
• Tip: A size 1 tip is best for doing intricate details. A size 2 tip is good for some details and outlining. Fill or flood with sizes 2 – 5.
• Tip: You don’t need a piping bag, you can use a parchment cone or ziplock bag with a tiny bit snipped off the corner. I would however recommend getting a piping set if you don’t have one as it will be much easier and more precise.

Stand the piping bags in glasses with the tops of the bags folded over the top of the glass.

Fill your icing bags with each coloured icing.

Tie the ends of the piping bags with elastic bands.

Decorating: Outlining

Fit the piping bag with a size 2 or 3 tip.
• Tip: Or snip a very small bit of the corner off of a parchment cone or Ziploc bag

Hold the piping bag at a 45 degree angle above the cookie where you want to start the outline.

Gently squeeze the piping bag and start moving in the direction you want to outline the cookie.

Start lifting the piping bag away from the cookie so that the flow of icing falls onto the cookie, making it an even and neater outline.

As you start to reach the beginning of the outline, bring the piping tip closer to the surface of the cookie to meet the start of the icing outline.
• Tip: If you’re doing an intricate cookie, like a snow flake, you won’t be able to lift the tip as far away from the cookie.

If you’re doing a different colour border, eg a black border, let the outline dry before flooding. If using the same colour for the outline as you’re flooding with, begin flooding after doing the outline.

Decorating: Flooding
Fit the piping bag with a size 2-5 tip, the bigger the area being filled, the bigger the tip.
• Tip: Or cut slightly more off the corner of a Ziploc bag to create a slightly larger opening.

Quickly zigzag back and forth over the area you want to fill.
• Tip: You need to be quick when flooding the cookie so don’t worry too much if it’s not filled in neatly.

Using a toothpick or clean paintbrush, push the icing around into the gaps that are still remaining.

Either pick up the cookie and tip it from side to side to even out the filling, or lightly bang the cookie down on your kitchen counter.

Decorating: Melding Colours

If you would like to add lines or dots to the base colour that you flooded the cookie with so that they meld and dry as a smooth surface, you need to add the lines/dots/patterns as quickly as possible after flooding and smoothing the surface of the cookie.
• Tip: Make sure to have all the colours you’re planning on using ready and close by so that you can switch between colours quickly

Simply pipe other colours onto the flooded surface in patterns or lines which you can either leave as that or then drag a toothpick through to make marbling patterns.

Decorating: On top of flooding

If you’d like to do other patterns/outlines or writing on top of the flooded surface so that they are raised above the flooded background, simply allow the icing to dry, preferably over night.

Fit the piping bag with tip sizes 1-3.

Pipe patterns or write on top of the dry icing
• Tip: For writing, the consistency of your icing should be thicker rather than thinner, drag a knife through your icing and when the surface smoothes around 12-15 seconds, the consistency is correct.

Packaging and Storing
Once fully decorated, allow cookies to dry for 24 hours in a cool and dry area.

Stack cookies in an airtight container, from largest cookies at the bottom, to smallest and more intricate at the top, with parchment or wax free paper in between the layers.

Store in a cool and dry area with the container’s lid firmly sealed.

Will last for about a month if stored this way.

General Baking Tips
When measuring by volume (cup) always shift/aerate your flour/icing sugar in the container/bag before measuring because it settles as it sits and so you end up with more flour/icing sugar in your cup. I do this by moving the ingredient around with a spoon, whisk or fork.

When measuring flour or icing sugar by volume (cup) never scoop the flour/icing sugar up with the cup otherwise you compress the contents and this can make a big difference in the amount you’re using. Rather, spoon the ingredient into the cup until level with the top.

When measuring baking powder or baking soda, always level off the top of the measuring spoon with something flat (like the back of a knife) as these ingredients need to be accurately measured.

When mixing your ingredients, always follow the recipe instructions, especially when it comes to beating in eggs and flour, so if it specifies to mix until just combined or to beat for 4 minutes, follow the instructions to get best results.

Unless otherwise specified, always have your ingredients at room temperature.

It’s always best to invest in an oven thermometer so that you know exactly the temperature you’re baking at then you can also find out if you have cold or hot spots in your oven.

If you need to rotate your trays midst baking, always allow at least half the baking time to lapse before opening your oven to move baking trays around, this allows time for your baked goods to form a good structure so that they won’t flop.

General Royal Icing Tips
Keep a damp cloth handy while decorating your cookies so that if you’re switching between different icing bags, you can keep the tips covered with the damp cloth so that the icing doesn’t dry and clog them.

If your icing tips do clog, use a toothpick or pin to unclog them.

Always pipe a little bit of royal icing onto a board/paper towel before you begin to make sure there are no air bubbles.

Remember to always cover bowls containing royal icing wither cling wrap, a damp cloth or sealable lid so that the surface doesn’t dry.

Don’t store anything decorated with royal icing in the fridge otherwise the royal icing will become tacky.

Pizza Wheels

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

These pizza wheels go so fast at any party we’ve had.

They can be made non-vegetarian by adding some chopped ham or salami.

I love them, and there’s not much more I really have to say about these – except how can you go wrong with a mini “pizza”?

Pizza Wheels

Recipe by Anita @ Leave Room for Dessert

Makes more than 40

4 puff pastry sheets
6 tablespoons tomato paste
1 red capsicum, diced
1 green capsicum, diced
grated cheese

Spread the tomato paste over the puff pastry sheets, leaving a 1.5cm gap from one end. Sprinkle capsicums then cheese over the pastry leaving the gap. Roll the pastry toward the gap and then press the end onto the roll to join the pastry. This can be covered and placed in the refrigerator until needed.

Cut 1cm slices of the roll and place on baking paper on a baking tray. Cook in a moderate oven (180C) for approx 10 minutes or until cheese has melted and pizza wheels have browned. Serve when hot.

Vegetable Rolls

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

VegetableRolls1

Now, I don’t suppose you could call anything with puff pastry healthy. Although, you could say this is healthier than the normal sausage roll. These vegie rolls are packed full of vegetables, most of which you might not be able to guess while eating them. So, unsuspecting kids (and adults) will get a vegie fill when they go for these rolls at a party.

VegetableRolls04

I decided to make this recipe combining many vegetables I had on hand, so I’m sure it can be altered to what you have lying around.

VegetableRolls07

Vegetables Rolls

Recipe by Anita @ Leave Room for Dessert

Makes: 50

250g spinach, fresh or frozen (thawed and water pressed out)
2 large carrots (300g), grated
1 zucchini (200g), grated
12 mushrooms (200g), grated
4 cloves garlic, crushed
200g corn kernels, drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
250g ricotta
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1/2 cup bread crumbs
5 sheets puff pastry

1 egg beaten for glazing (or milk)
poppy seeds for sprinkling on top

Mix all the vegetables in a large bowl. Add the ricotta, egg and sweet chili sauce, mix to combine. Add the breadcrumbs and mix until fully combined.

Cut the pastry sheets in half. Spoon equal amounts of the vegetable filling down the middle or side of the pastry sheet – to form an even roll. Place a small amount of egg wash down the length of the puff pastry. Roll the pastry up firmly and sealing with a little pinch on the edge. Brush some egg wash over the top and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

VegetableRolls01

VegetableRolls02

At this stage, either freeze as they are (with some baking paper or puff pastry plastic between the rolls) or, to eat straight away – preheat oven to 180°C. Cut each roll into 5 equal portions. Place on a baking paper lined tray and place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until they are browned and cooked through. Serve with sweet chili sauce.

For Frozen rolls, allow to thaw enough to cut through with a knife. Cook in a preheated oven (180°C) for 20 minutes or longer, depending on how much they have thawed.

VegetableRolls03

VegetableRolls06

Almond Butter Biscuits

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

almondbb

One of my favourite memories of foods growing up is these almond butter biscuits. I remember getting a few at the beginning of every school year and always wanting more and requesting them throughout the year.

Melt in your mouth Heaven… with a bit of crunch from the almonds dusted in sweet icing sugar. The icing sugar can be a bit of a mess when eating, especially over black clothes, although this is a small price to pay for something so good.

Almond Butter Biscuits

Makes around 50 biscuits

8oz (250g) butter or margarine (I use salted butter)
3 tablespoons castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups plain flour
¾ cup chopped blanched almonds or slivered almonds
1/2 – 1 cup icing sugar or mixture

Cream butter with sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.

almondbb_butter

Sift flour and salt together and blend into creamed mixture then stir in almonds (make mixture just stiff enough to be able to roll it into balls in hand i.e. add a little more flour if necessary).

almondbb_mix

Place in balls the size of walnuts or in crescent shapes on an ungreased tray.

almondbb_shaped

Bake in moderate oven (180°C/350°F) for 15 minutes. Remove from tray and cool slightly. Roll in icing sugar. (Sift icing sugar on the bottom of the biscuits first then on the top)

almondbb_cooked

almondbb_icing1

almondbb_icing2

almondbb_plate

Portuguese Custard Tarts

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Portuguese_Custard_Tarts

Fresh home-made creamy thick custard with flaky buttery pastry… who could resist? I doubt many people at all (except perhaps my brother). Even people who wouldn’t normally like custard, probably because they’ve only had the runny bought custard, love these tarts.

I was only recently introduced to Portuguese custard tarts, first at work and then I decided to make my own as there aren’t any places near my house or work that sell them. I’ve tried a few variations, including the one from “Sweet Food” which I made the pastry and custard from scratch. Unfortunately the pastry turned out too crunchy and not as crispy and flaky as I would have liked and the custard was a bit too sweet.

I searched and searched for a reasonable recipe for pastry with Portuguese custard tarts, although most recipes use store-bought puff pastry and in the end this worked out best.

I made some of Bill Grangers Portuguese Custard Tarts for my Kitchen Tea a while ago and many of the guests liked them. So I have stuck with this recipe. They are tasty both warm out of the oven and cooled down.

This recipe is adapted from the UKTV site with the recipe from Bill Granger.

Portuguese Custard Tarts

Makes: 12-18

3 free-range egg yolks
115g caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
230 ml double/thick cream
170 ml milk
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1-2 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry

Put the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a saucepan and whisk together. Gradually whisk in the cream and milk until smooth.

Egg yolks, sugar and cornflour whisked

Egg yolks, sugar and cornflour whisked

Milk and cream combined with egg mix

Milk and cream combined with egg mix

Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens and comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Thicken custard

Thicken custard

Transfer the custard to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375F/Gas 5.

Lightly grease one or two 12-hole (80ml/2½fl oz) muffin tins.

Cut the pastry sheet in half, put one half on top of the other and set aside for five minutes. Roll up the pastry tightly from the shorter-sided end and cut the pastry log into twelve 1cm/½in rounds.

Pastry rolled and sliced

Pastry rolled and sliced

Lay each pastry round on a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll out until each is 10cm/4in in diameter.

Rolled pastry slices in muffin tin with cooled custard

Rolled pastry slices in muffin tin with cooled custard

Press the pastry rounds into the holes in the muffin tin. Spoon the cooled custard into the pastry cases and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the pastry and custard are golden.

Portuguese_Custard_Tarts_cooked
Leave the tarts in the tin for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Portuguese_Custard_Tarts_Rolled

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