Writer’s block is not fun.
I have plenty of other ways to procrastinate, I don’t have to blog.
Some options include:
Sow seeds (in life and in the ground).
Organise possibility of being a lead tenant for Youth For Christ next year.
Organise possibly extending my trip to Perth so I can hang out with Peace Tree. (and visit Georgia and Dave?)
Study for my quiz tomorrow.
Make more chocolate muffins for September Camp.
Upload my study questions for Sep Camp.
Go for a walk. Or a run. Or do some yoga. Or some other kind of physical exercise to not. stress. out. Because I have this essay I keep procrastinating from doing.
So yeah, I wrote up a complete running sheet for the last few days before camp. I have an illness. I have lists upon lists and I HAVEN’T STARTED MY ESSAY YET (Mum and Dad, just forget you read that, yeah?)
It’s ok, I planned time to write the essay. It’s gonna happen. I haven’t got a back up plan so it HAS to happen (hopefully with little to no effort on my part.)
Besides, I have apple pie to calm my nerves.
Technically, it’s apple and pear pie. I got fruit from the farmer’s market on the weekend because it’s almost not apple and pear season anymore and I wanted pie. I love pie.
And thanks to Pam’s Pie Tutorial courtesy of The Pioneer Woman (thank you, Ree!) I made a perfect pie. I’m not kidding. It tastes amazing, it was perfectly cooked, it looks incredible and it’s just as good cold as hot.
I know. I’ve already had more than I need.
Apple and Pear Pie (two crust)
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Pam says that pie making is not a recipe, it’s an approach. It’s about the technique. So while this is a recipe, it’s a very loose one. Play around. Enjoy. Make pie.
2 1/2 cups flour (plain or pastry)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
250g butter, cold, cut into chunks
1/4 cup ice water
about 6 cups (8 pieces of fruit) fruit, peeled and chopped (if needed)
1/2 cup (more if needed) sugar
2 tbsp cornflour or other thickener
juice of one lemon
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
pinch nutmeg (more than cloves)
Pulse 2 cups flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until it looks like breadcrumbs (alternatively, whisk together dry ingredients and use fingertips to rub in butter.) Pulse in 1/2 cup flour (just) and place in a bowl or on your counter. Sprinkle water over, knead in and form into two discs.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Celsius.
Stir together fruit, lemon juice, thickener and spices. Make sure all the fruit pieces are even and that the mixture coats each piece.
Now, to roll out the dough, take two pieces of parchment paper (or baking paper) and place a dough disk in between them. Roll out to fit your pie pan (this recipe makes enough for one two crust nine inch pie). Place one rolled out disc into the bottom of your pie dish and prick all over with a fork.
Place the fruit in the dish and dot with butter (about four or five tablespoons). Cover with the other half of the dough, rolled out. Crimp the edges however you like and slit the top a few times. (You may choose, as I did, to decorate the top with the scraps of dough left over.) Brush with a beaten egg or some heavy cream.
Bake at 250º for about half an hour, until nicely browned on top. Cover with foil to stop browning and lower heat to 200 degrees for anywhere from 1/2 hour to 40 minutes – apples will need longer, berries will need less.
Let rest for about ten to twenty minutes on the counter before you eat with heavy cream or ice cream.
Warning: Another photo-heavy post coming up.
Mostly because I’m still kinda scattered.
But sunsets are something that helps me to stay calm.
Even though I’m behind on my uni work and I’m nervous about camp.
So, less words.
I am a big fan of Greek-style yogurt.
And I love five:am yogurt.
And I love chocolate!
And I love cake. And snacking. So they’re all represented here.
And sometimes you just gotta bake.
Hence, the chocolate yogurt snack cakes. Again, from Smitten Kitchen: one of my major inspirations in cooking and in photography and in blogging.
Beware of the tiny ones, though. They’re dangerous. They slip under your guard and suddenly, BAM! You’ve eaten twelve.
How do you de-scatter? Calm down? Refresh?
spending time with God in the sunset, sunlight, good times and deep in the funk.
And the chocolate. Always the chocolate.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
I doubled the recipe because I have a lot of yogurt to use (and I’ll be making more this week because as I mentioned I have a camp that I am going to and it made 36 cupcake sized muffins and 12 mini muffins. So I’ll give the doubled recipe with the original measurements in square parentheses.
400g [200g] dark chocolate, coarsely chopped- I used a combination of 72% and 54% cocoa
1 cup (250ml) [1/2 cup - 125ml] vegetable oil
1 cup (250ml) [1/2 cup - 125ml] yogurt (I used Greek-style – plain yogurt is fine too)
2 cups (400g) [1 cup - 200g] sugar
2 1/2 tsp [1 tsp] vanilla extract
(I didn’t use almond extract but Deb suggests 1/2 teaspoon)
3 cups (400g) [1 1/2 cups - 200g] plain flour
3 tsp [1 1/2 tsp] baking powder
1 tsp [1/2 tsp] sea salt
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two muffin tins with patty pans.
Melt chocolate and half the oil in a ceramic or glass bowl over a pot of simmering water or in the microwave. Meanwhile, stir together the rest of the oil, yogurt sugar and extracts together.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yogurt mix and the slightly cooled chocolate mixture. Stir together.
Divide between the patty pans (use more if you need to) and bake about 20 minutes . Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream and berries. Or, you know, as is. With milk.
On Sunday, I went to the farmer’s market, baked bread, planted seeds to start a veggie garden and made chocolate yogurt muffins. It was a pretty productive day all around, except for the fact that I did not work on the essay that is due this Friday that I specifically stayed home to do. Ah well.
So this post will be pretty photo heavy. But they’re pretty! Look:
I didn’t write this yesterday because I was having a bit of a hard time finding words. My brain’s been a bit muddled up recently; I’ve been busy and stressed and I just can’t wait till uni’s over and I have a break.
In the meantime, I take time out from not studying to go to farmer’s markets and gobble up the amazing produce and products they have on offer. I start a garden. I run. I read. And I spend more time than I should on the internet.
I also have been spending time with some amazing friends recently and it’s been so good to catch up with people and really feel supported and loved. Sometimes, although I live in a house with a lot of people, it gets lonely and I start to descend into a bit of a funk.
Sometimes it’s worse than others, sometimes it lasts longer than others, sometimes I don’t admit it to myself and sometimes I do. Sometimes I’m a little bummed out for no reason, other times I’m a lot bummed out for no particular reason.
Sometimes there is a reason. It doesn’t really matter; what matters is that I push through, that there is light at the end of the road, that there is chocolate cake and homemade bread and good friends to laugh and hang out with.
And so, to bread!
As I’ve mentioned before, bread is an amazing food to make yourself. It really brings you to the essence of food – this most basic of sustenances is such a miracle to behold. I’m serious.
This bread I adapted from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef and while it’s not bad, I probably preferred the peasant loaf I made a little while ago. Still, I’m not really one of those people who will stick to one amazing recipe – I have to try them all!
This is better, I think, than bread you make in a bread machine. For starters, you get to get your hands dirty. Secondly, the texture is much nicer .
I had this with roasted tomato jam from jam lady jam and sharp cheddar cheese. It was divine. If you are in Healsville or about the area, you have to find jam lady jam or handmade in Healsville products. They are amazing.
This has been a kinda jumpy-aroundy post again and I do apologise for my erratic thought patterns and complete randomness. I hope to be much more organised in the future (namely, when uni has finished) although I’m not promising anything.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef
325ml tepid water
10g active dry yeast
250g bread flour
250g plain flour
Whisk together sugar, yeast and water. Set aside.
Whisk together salt and flours in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in wet ingredients. Stir together using a wooden spoon or your hands. When incorporated, flour your bench and dump dough on it. Knead for 5-10 minutes, then form into a ball.
Lightly brush oil all over your large bowl and place your ball of dough in and lightly brush oil over it so it’s covered. Cover the bowl with glad wrap or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm spot to rise for about an hour to an hour and a half.
Gently deflate and knead another minute or so. Shape into the type of loaf you want and sprinkle polenta over your baking tray (or the bottom of your loaf tin) and place dough on the tray. Let rise till doubled, about another hour. You can preheat your oven now to about 225 degrees celsius.
When dough has risen, slash a few cuts in the top with a sharp knife and place in oven for about half an hour. To check if it’s ready, when it’s deep golden brown, tap the bottom of the loaf and if it sounds hollow, it’s ready. Let cool for about twenty minutes before
ripping into it with your bare hands like a heathen slicing into it and scarfing it down.
So I know I just posted about red velvet cake a couple of days ago but in reality, it was about two months ago that I made red velvet cake for my birthday and I got to craving it again after a friend made red velvet cupcakes to share. Man, they were good. Also, posting about it made me crave red velvet cake. It’s pretty amazing.
So I decided to make cupcakes this time because they’re easier to share in a houseful of people [never mind that I ate most of them myself... hey, they're pretty good. And I have very polite housemates.] , and set out to redeem my red velvet cake making experience. This one probably wasn’t as fudgey nor as chocolatey as I would have liked, but they rose fantastically. And I’m definitely not sad that I’ll have to make them again to find the perfect recipe. They’re amazing.
In other news, I went to the Windsor Hotel for high tea on Sunday afternoon with my sister. It was absolutely amazing and I will have (camera phone) photos along with a full post about it coming soon. There was amazing tea, expensive sparkling wine and lots of delicious food. Stay tuned.
I’m also really excited about going to something called a Truth Lab in Collingwood on Friday night. See, remember when I talked about going to Surrender? (And then promised to tell you more about but promptly failed to keep that promise?) So Surrender do these things called Truth Labs where it’s kinda like a mini-Surrender conference for one night. Amazing people are there, there’s a speaker (or two or three) and there are lots of awesome people to talk about doing awesome stuff with. Like going to SURRENDER:12 (that’s next year. This year was SURRENDER:11. Get it?)
Friday night. St Martin’s, corner of Wellington and Otter. Collingwood. 7.30pm. Jarrod Mckenna is going to be there. [insert small fangirl squee here. Sorry. I'm a nerd, we're allowed to be uncontrollably excited about things.]
And it’s time to make red velvet cupcakes. Because they’re made of awesome. Sorry for the random jumping aboutedness of this post. DFTBA.
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from Bakerella
So as I mentioned, these ones weren’t quite as fudgy as I would have liked them to be. They didn’t quite stand up to the cream cheese icing strongly enough. So, yes, my quest for perfect red velvet cake does not end here. But hey, no one’s complaining, right?
Also, one of the best things about this particular recipe is the ease in which you put it together.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 oz. red food coloring
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line 2 muffin pans with 24 liners. Set aside.
Whisk all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.
Whisk all wet ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients and slowly pour in the wet. Mix together with a wooden spoon until smooth.
Divide among the muffin liners (I got 24 standard cupcake size cupcakes filling them almost to the top, but Bakerella mentions that she got 22 and could have filled them less.) Bake 20-25 minutes, until a skewer or sharp knife inserted into the middle one comes out clean. Let cool in pans while you make the cream cheese icing. Ice and share with hungry, appreciative people who you love.
What do you love?
I love breakfast. I love coffee. I love family. I love eating, I love food.
I love sunsets, especially ones shared with friends. Especially ones from my own porch. (They’re beautiful!)
I love winter. I love socks. I love loving stuff, getting so uncontrollably, jump-up-and-down-in-your-chair LOVING stuff. Being so excited by something you literally cannot control yourself. I love uncontrollable laughter with friends.
I love reading. I love writing.
I love baking and cooking. I love sharing, especially something I’ve made, with other people. I love giving.
This week, I got uncontrollably excited about the Melbourne Writer’s Festival. I started reading a book I bought there (I currently have four books I’m juggling, five if you count the Bible. Not that you wouldn’t – it’s just that it’s always being read in some capacity:). I finished writing my essays and drank surprising amounts of coffee (surprising considering the amount of stress I put myself through with those essays). I watched several sunsets from my porch, one from my lecture hall and one in my rearview mirror. I celebrated socks by wearing two pairs at once at the start of spring, the end of winter but still a pretty good season.
I gotta say, I pretty much love all seasons. For different reasons.
This week, I heard about some things that other people love. What other people do in their everyday lives that expresses their love for something bigger than themselves. I gave a piece of myself in the form of a poem. I got a stir in my belly that warned me of getting stuck in a rut.
And I baked breakfast buns for my family for Father’s Day. I didn’t get to be at home for as long as I’d have liked to, but I was there for long enough to make and enjoy these immensely. I’m hoping the next time I try, they’ll rise a little better, though.
What do you love?
Lemon Raspberry Breakfast Buns
Adapted from Joy the Baker
So, my yeast wasn’t exactly alive. Not quite dead, but I couldn’t make it into the scrolls that the original recipe requested, so I rolled it out as best as I could and cut it into rounds and we ate it that way. It was still delicious, and I’ll put in instructions for both ways.
1 cup milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 pkt active dry yeast (1 1/2 tbsp)
1/2 cup (110g) butter, room temperature)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/4 cups plus 1/2 cup plain flour, plus more for sprinkling
For the filling:
1 heaping cup fresh raspberries (or frozen, not thawed, unless you’re making buns not scrolls) (I used a mixed berry mix because that’s what we had)
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1/4 cup butter
Warm the milk to just under body temperature (in a saucepan or in the microwave). Pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir the sugar and yeast into the warm milk and leave it to froth if you like, but you should probably know if your yeast is alive. (HINT, HINT).
Add the butter, eggs, lemon zest, salt and 4 1/4 cups flour. Beat on low speed for a few minutes, then scrape down the bowl and mix again for a few seconds. Now you can use a dough hook, if you have one, and mix on medium speed for ten minutes, or take out the dough and knead it for the same amount of time. Use the 1/2 cup of flour, plus more if needed, to sprinkle on your kneading surface. It should be soft and slightly sticky.
Place in a large, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place either in a warm place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or in the refrigerator overnight.
If you left it in the refrigerator, take it out for half an hour while you do this next bit.
Grease a 9×13″ pan or line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside.
Combine raspberries, 1/3 cup sugar, lemon zest and cornflour and set aside. If you’re making the scrolls, brown the butter in a saucepan and set aside.
Roll out the dough. If you’re making buns, preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius, and roll the dough out to about an inch or so thick and cut out 2″ rounds. Place on the baking trays and bake about 20 minutes. Serve with the butter and raspberry mix scattered over.
If you’re making scrolls, roll it out to about a centimetre. Brush with the browned butter and scatter the raspberry mix all over. Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar over and carefully roll the dough and filling lengthways into a log.
Slice it into inch thick rounds and nestle into the baking dish. Cover with a tea towel and let rise another hour in a warm place.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius and bake 20-25 minutes, until the filling is bubbling at the edges and the tops are golden brown. Let cool about half an hour and then gobble them down with your family.
AKA my favourite kind.
I mean, who doesn’t like a slice of birthday cake?
I’m sorry this post is a little late. Try a lot late, actually – my birthday was almost two months ago. There are pros and cons to baking at home. One pro is getting to use Mum’s fancy camera. A con is that between using that camera, not bringing my computer and relying on a certain brother to email me the photos I took meant that I actually had to wait till I went home again to get those photos back.
But look! I made you cake!
Ok, I made me a cake. My mum was worried I’d be psychologically scarred, baking my own birthday cake. Not really. I love baking, I’m picky with my food. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I like to try new things. Therefore, it made perfect sense for me to make my own birthday cake.
Unfortunately this one didn’t turn out as well as I would have hoped. I’ve wanted to make red velvet cake for a while now and so this seemed like the perfect opportunity (especially since my favourite colour is red. Most of the time).
I think the problem was that I used a teaspoon of baking powder instead of baking soda, although even baking soda would have had a difficult time inflating this cake. Which is especially disappointing considering the fact that I was at the parents’ house, which meant I had access to a stand mixer, and I didn’t utilise it to its full potential.
Ah well. We’ll just have to wait until Christmas, when hopefully I will get one from, uh, Santa. Yes, I still leave milk and cookies out for Santa, and a bucket of water and carrots for the reindeer. Although that may be difficult this year. I hope Santa finds us.
So, cake. Birthday cake. It was yummy anyway, despite its density, and I got to practise decoration (with pink cream cheese icing! yum! and! pretty!)
You should make this cake. Maybe you’ll make it better than I did. Maybe there is actually something wrong with the recipe. Nevertheless, it was pretty good, and especially so because of the cream cheese icing. I love cream cheese icing. Yum.
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
8 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 tbsp cocoa powder
4 tbps red food colouring (I used 50 ml and it turned out plenty red) mixed with 2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp distilled white vinegar
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease and flour two nine inch cake pans and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl and add eggs. Beat until well incorporated, scraping down bowl as needed.
Mix cocoa and vanilla with the water and red food colouring, making a thick paste. Add to batter and beat until well incorporated. You will probably want to scrape the bottom of the bowl several times to make sure the colouring is fully mixed through.
With the mixer on low, slowly add half the buttermilk. Add half the flour and salt and mix until incorporated. Repeat, and mix until smooth.
Add the baking soda and vinegar and beat on high speed for a few minutes, until fully incorporated and smooth.
Divide between the two cake pans and tap them against your bench a few times to get rid of air bubbles. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.
Let cool in the pan for about half an hour, then invert onto a baking rack until cool. You can make the frosting in this time.
To make the cream cheese frosting:
1 1/2 cups butter (about 300g), softened
8 oz (200g) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
4-6 cups icing sugar
2-4 tbsp milk
Cream the cheese in an electric mixer for a few minutes, until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add the butter, beating until well incorporated and smooth. Add sugar, salt and vanilla, beating until incorporated.
Turn off the mixer and add 2 cups icing sugar. Mix on low, adding more icing sugar and milk until you get your desired consistency.
Wait until completely cool before frosting your cake.