Gingernuts

Unknown

This book was provided by the publisher at no cost.

Previously, on BakeClassrhubarb cakeself-saucing puddingthe book itself; sponge-making.

I have never made gingernuts before, which seems vastly remiss since they’re definitely a favourite. And they’re going straight to the top of my ‘I feel like baking but nothing too strenuous also I don’t have anything exotic in the house’ list of recipes, too, which is a feeling I et surprisingly often – these are incredibly easy and very very tasty. I was a bit dubious that there wasn’t enough ginger (3 tsp), but I was grumpily good and followed the recipe aaaand I think it’s safe to say they were spicy enough.

Apparently I also made them too big. Perhaps my estimation of how much a tablespoon of biscuit mixture is is somewhat off. As you can see they kind of… spread. They looked more like a gap-y slice than neat little biscuits. (The big gap in the second row wasn’t there while they were cooking….) Still, they were excellent, and will apparently keep for about a fortnight. If they’re not eaten first.

IMG_0894.JPG

Sponge. Again.

This book was provided by the publisher at no cost.

UnknownPreviously, on BakeClass: rhubarb cake; self-saucing pudding; the book itself.

When I tried to make lamingtons, I mentioned that I have yet to conquer The Sponge. I thought that maybe BakeClass would help; after all, it’s got step by step instructions that are pretty clear.

The setting: one friend who saw The Fifth Element about eight years ago; another who had maybe seen bits; and a third who had never seen it. The perfect excuse to test my sponge-making abilities.

I carefully read the instructions, and they seemed to make sense. I got the eggs out hours before I was going to make the cake, so they would definitely be at room temperature. I measured everything scrupulously. I even did the grease the tin – line the tin – grease the paper thing as commanded.
I came unstuck at the last instruction: after sifting over the flour and cornflour, and then the warm milk and butter, I was to beat briefly until flour was combined – but not for TOO long. My panic was this: how do I KNOW when it’s combined? There was still a speck of IMG_0895flour on the top; I presume that means it’s not combined? That cake-y type consistency at the bottom of the bowl, is that good or bad? Does it mean I’ve over-beaten? OH NO WHAT HAVE I DONE. This is the first instruction I’ve found in the book that’s not as precise as I would have appreciated.

And then it seemed to take longer to bake then it ought to have. Maybe it’s my oven. I should get on that.

Anyway, once cooked the sponge had this effect on the top. I think this was as a result of the cake-y consistency and that it means it was over-beaten.

IMG_0896They didn’t rise as much as I would have hoped, as you can see. Still it must be said that these were better than the sponges I made last time, so I guess there’s hope? They were a bit fluffier, for sure.

I filled the cake with whipped cream, of course, and with Kate’s What Eve Did Next  – an apple and lavender jelly that’s just amazing. I sprinkled some lavender on top and everything. How fancy is that?

ETA: how could I have forgotten the result?? Despite my misgivings, five of us managed to polish the entire thing off over the course of the movie (which was only two serves each; the beloved managed to get one…). It wasn’t as airy as I would have liked, and a couple of spots tasted a bit… eggy, maybe? I think it was the swirly bit featured on top. The Eve was delicious but probably could have had a bit more added – the recipe called for something like 225g of raspberry jam, and I used nowhere near that much because it sounded far too over the top!

IMG_0897

BakeClass: the book itself

UnknownBakeClass was provided to me at no cost by the publisher, Murdoch Books. Available from March 2016; RRP $45.

(Previously, on BakeClass… )

I took BakeClass away with me last weekend to show a couple of other baking-type people (who both quite liked it), and it made me sit down and actually read the opening pages. I had previously just flicked through the recipes and glanced over the actual lesson pages – I rarely read the introduction etc to a book like this, regarding them more like reference books than chronologically-ordered-type books. But now I have.Unknown

(I’ve also taken off the dust jacket to reveal the cover on the right, which I think I prefer.)

As the name suggested, and the organisation into lessons, this is a book largely designed for someone who’s not especially comfortable with baking. This is not me – I may be disgruntled with sponges, but I’m not afraid to jump in and have a go at most any recipe – as long as I’ve got the time and the inspiration.

That’s not to say I don’t have anything to learn from a book like this. As a friend put it, you read and say “uhuh, uhuh, uhuh – oh! – uhuh, uhuh…” – and that’s quite useful. It’s nice to know you’re basically on the right track, and learning new stuff is always nice.

I will never nuke butter to cheat-soften it again. I pinky-promise to be more organised with my baking (…hmm…) and either cube or grate the butter if I get impatient.

I like Anneka’s approach: here are reasons why you might think you can’t bake, and here are some reasons to rethink; here are some things to consider to make it more excellent (time, for whom, what do YOU like, etc). I also like her explanation of some of the fundamentals (different creams!), and the list of recommended cake tins means I might need to go shopping… (plus I recently encountered a rectangular tart tin I NEED YOU IN MY LIFE).

The lessons themselves progress logically, from very straightforward to the more complex. I love that there’s a ‘Mix in the Food Processor’ step! I am intrigued that you’re meant to keep your palms upwards while rubbing in; I think I do this, but not consciously. I have tried the pushing+pulling kneading trick a couple of times but I’m still not convinced I’ve got it.

In the end, there are stacks of recipes in here that I’m dead keen to try out, and that makes this a winner in my book. And kitchen.

It’s available from Fishpond. 

Chocolate self-saucing pudding

UnknownPreviously, on BakeClass… (provided by the publisher at no cost)

Chocolate self-saucing pudding is not new for me. It’s not quite a standard, because I keep experimenting with other things, but it’s not a novelty. Generally I have made Stephanie Alexander’s recipe, and it’s never made me sad.

There might be a new kid in town.

Context: friend comes over for dinner. I’ve not really made plans for dessert (steak by us, fig and goat’s cheese salad by her). Flicking through BakeClass looking for something straightforward, I hit Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding, and the friend makes encouraging noises.

It’s nothing new in terms of ease; it’s about the easiest pudding ever. Differences from Stephanie: she uses plain flour and baking powder, Anneka uses SR flour; this isn’t a real difference. Stephanie has 1/4 cup castor sugar; Anneka has 1/2 cup brown sugar – and this is where the difference lies, I think, because I think this pudding was that bit richer as a result. Interestingly Stephanie has 180g brown sugar in the topping, and 2 tbsp cocoa; Anneka has 100g and 30g (and a bit more boiling water).

This experiment may have been slightly led astray by the fact that apparently my oven isn’t heating consistently, so one side was a bit gooey-er than the other. Which isn’t a failing in such a pud, of course… .

Result: I think this is my-go choc self-saucer from now on. Already anticipating the double chocolate variation (add 100g chopped chocolate “with the sugar” – I presume that means with the topping).

No photos because I don’t believe anyone’s every really taken a particularly flattering picture of chocolate self-saucing pudding. It just always looks like mud… as long as you get it on a good day…

 

BakeClass: Rhubarb Cake

This book was sent to me by the publisher at no cost.

Unknown.jpegAnneka Manning promises that I will “learn to bake brilliantly, step by step,” so that’s a rather exciting thought. I’ve been baking for years, but I am always interested in new recipes, and of course there are some things that just elude me (darn you sponge cake). So: lessons AND recipes!

Firstly: it’s a lovely looking book, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I appreciate that in a recipe book. It’s hefty (275-odd pages) at nearly A4 size, so I’m mighty glad I have a cookbook stand. The pages themselves are well laid out; mot recipes have a picture (which, I’m not completely a must-have-pictures girl, but it definitely adds something to the look of it), and the recipes are clearly laid out and so far, easy to follow. There are some ‘Baker’s tips’ on a few pages some of which seem obvious, others – well, I’ve made a few springform tin cakes, and it had never occurred to me to put the baking paper OVER the base and THEN clamp the sides in. I think this is a case of ‘dumb smart person’. So if nothing else I’ve learned that. IMG_0888.JPG

The first thing I’ve made is the Rhubarb Sour Cream Crumble Cake, which is in the ‘measure and beat’ section. Again, didn’t think I’d learn anything here, but um, I think I usually put the dry ingredients in before the wet but not consciously… so that’s an excellent pointer. And I’ve started picking up on the idea of room-temperature eggs, so this was yet another reminder about that. Guess I have to plan my baking a bit further in advance than I have tended in the past.

IMG_0889.JPGI made this because a friend gave me a pile of rhubarb sticks (whoo!), and we had people coming over for dinner. The cake batter itself turned out beautifully and I am once again glad I have a stand mixer, because it makes multitasking a reality. For some reason my crumble did not crumble, but turned into dough – perhaps too little flour? the butter was straight from the fridge but it was a fairly warm day, so that may have been a problem. At any rater I have dotted it over the top and spread it out a bit; it cooked fine and tasted perfectly nice.

Verdict in the end was very positive. We ended up with a bit left over but I think that was because our guests were being too polite to have extras.