Thursday, October 29, 2009

Twisted Sticks

Yesterday morning we awoke to a blustery winter wonderland and mid-morning E took a break from work and well... so did I from job hunting and archiving projects from my desktop to shovel the driveway and pavements around the house. Suckers for punishment we didn't break out the snow blower cos we figured we could use some exercise, at least I did. After an hour or so of sweating, it was time almost lunch time and E was hungry! So I immediately got a pizza dough from a couple of nights ago ( I had to make a double batch from a measuring & experimenting accident with Bob's GF Mix ) and decided to make some cheesy bread sticks ( I was hoping it would mask the over powering beany taste and smell of the flour which I detest! - sorry Bob ) to go with some nice hot roasted root vegetable soup and a small salad. Perfect for a blustery snowy day!

Spelt Dough
This recipe which I have perfected (for now!) makes a really good dough for 1 Pizza or a dozen breadsticks
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup of warm water
1.5 cups Spelt flour (White or Wholemeal)
1 Tbsp EVOO and extra to coat the bowl
Pinch of sea salt

Breadstick ingredients
About 1/2 C finely shredded cheese - I used Parmesan but you can use whatever cheeses you that isn't too soft and tender
3-4 Cloves Garlic minced
1.5 tsp herbs - I used fresh rosemary
2 tbsp EVOO and extra for brushing dough
Sea Salt
Ground black pepper

Mix dough and allow to rest for 15 mins then gently knead using the pull and fold method as spelt has a very fragile gluten structure. Fold and pinch the edges together and plonk the pinched bottom into a bowl so there is a nice smooth top and allow to rise in a warm draft free area for 1 hr or until almost doubled ( Spelt doesn't rise as much as AP flour).

While the dough is rising prepare and mix the minced garlic,herbs and EVOO. This way the EVOO will be infused deliciously with the garlic and herbs.

After 1 hour, flatten dough and roll into a rectangle. Brush the dough surface with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. In the middle 1/3 of the dough (you will be folding the dough into 3rds) spread the garlic and herb mixture and sprinkle the cheese. Fold over 1 side of the dough and top the surface with the garlic herb mixture and do a final fold and sprinkle with cheese. Using a pastry cutter or bench scraper cut the dough into strips and gently twist and roll into long strips. Rest them in a baking tray for about 30 mins.
Preheat oven at 425˚C. Meanwhile brush the breadsticks with EVOO and sprinkle salt and a generous amount of pepper. Bake in a preheated oven at 425˚C until golden brown about 12 mins.

They are delicious fresh from the oven and fills the house with an amazing aroma and we snacked on the crunchy delights the rest of the afternoon.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Birthday Guinness Cake

Yes! That is snow you see in the background
It has been a busy few months with the big move and basically a new life in a new place. After about a month, I finally managed to unpack all my baking supplies and found new homes for them on E's kitchen shelves or he is sure to correct me "our" kitchen shelves. All this happened just in time too greet my parents visit and also some dear friends and also to warm the house as the mercury level here drops. Since then I've managed to bake up some delicious pecan sticky buns and others which I will share at a later time but for today it's E's birthday cake! Since he loves Guinness and with my parents around (to help eat the cake!) I decided to make a Guinness Cake courtesy from Nigella Lawson. The only criticism from E was that it wasn't Guinnessy enough...I suppose I will have to tweak it for next year then. This cake is so easy and absolutely delicious to make. Please make and enjoy.

Chocolate Guinness Cake
Makes One 9-inch cake and serves about 12

Cake Ingredients
250ml Guinness
250g unsalted butter
75g cocoa
400g caster sugar
1 x 142ml pot sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 1/2teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

Frosting Ingredients
300g Philadelphia cream cheese
150g icing sugar
125ml double or whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 180°C or 350˚F, and butter and line a 9" springform pan.

Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter in pieces and heat until the butter’s melted, at which time whisk in the cocoa and sugar. In a separate bowl, beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the butter beer mixture. Whisk in the flour and bicarbonate of soda until mixture is smooth. Pour the cake mixture into the springform pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until firm to touch. This is a damp cake so cool completely in the pan.

When the cake is cooled, whip the cream cheese until smooth and sieve the icing sugar over and beat together. Slowly add in the cream and continue beating until light and fluffy. Remove the cake from the pan and spread the frosting on top of the cake to resemble a delicious frothy pint of Guinness.

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