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Archive for January, 2012

Regular readers of this blog (waves to my husband) will recall “the Wombat Cake Incident“, in which the harsh Australian sun took a cruel, cruel toll on my little big boy’s 1st birthday cake. This year I took preventative measures and made the icing (in the thermomix) using both copha and butter. I also used the thermomix to make the cake, using the basic cake recipe from Dani Valent’s book In the Mix. It seemed to do the trick, in that the icing didn’t melt into a big puddle. It was also nice and easy to spread at midnight, which is when I always seem to be finishing off birthday cakes!

The little big boy is obsessed with cars and trains, so he got a train. The cake itself was overcooked so a bit dry but I’m hoping the small people won’t hold it against me.

The train cake

As well as the train cake, we also had this fantastic “tie-dyed” cake, made by my friend Bernadette and her husband and niece. The cake itself was a devil’s food cake and was Miss B’s cake of choice (traitor!). Better photos of the cake can be found on Bernie’s blog.

Bernie's fabulous tie-dyed cake

And finally, here is a cake I made for the husband’s birthday in December. It is a lemon luxury layer cake from Rose Levy Berenabaum’s book Heavenly Cakes. It used about 18 eggs and 3 blocks of butter. I don’t even think I am exaggerating. There was lemon curd, a white chocolate custard, a buttercream and the cake itself. It was delicious, but quite a commitment!

Lemon luxury layer cake

Here is the inside of the cake. The layers are meant to be even but I am rubbish at cutting even layers. More practice needed!

cakey insides

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I’ve missed the last few challenges, due to races such as the Kepler Challenge, Christmas and um, not being very organised. However, being a massive fan of scones and having learned so much from Audax in previous challenges, I couldn’t miss this month’s challenge.

Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!

We were given a basic scone recipe (known as biscuits in some countries) and encouraged to master it and play around with different versions. I certainly didn’t master it but I rediscovered the joy of the simple baking tasks, and I loved this recipe. My scones do actually look quite brick-like in the photos but I promise you they tasted light and quite delicious. I will definitely be trying more variations in the future. Thanks Audax!

Basic Scones (a.k.a. Basic Biscuits)
Servings: about eight 2-inch (5 cm) scones or five 3-inch (7½ cm) scones
Recipe can be doubled

Ingredients:
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (10 gm) (⅓ oz) fresh baking powder
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
2 tablespoons (30 gm/1 oz) frozen grated butter (or a combination of lard and butter)
approximately ½ cup (120 ml) cold milk
optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9.
2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.)
3. Rub the frozen grated butter (or combination of fats) into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones.
4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be!
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.)
6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire.
7. Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones.
8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set.
9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.

I made basic scones with the help of my almost 4 year old helper, Miss B, who now runs for her stool and apron as soon as she sees me getting out my mixing bowls. She is also quite fond of spreading flour around the kitchen, which may be apparent from the photos.

Small hand patting out the dough

Finished scones

I then tried some sultana scones. Sultana scones will always have a special place in my heart. For a while there I would happily eat at least one sultana scone a day, which caused a few issues when I went travelling and couldn’t say “doughy thing full of dried fruit” in any language other than English.

Sultana scone

Close up sultana scone

These also look pretty rock like, but I think that is largely because I patted the dough out too thin. Next time I make them I’m going to make thicker ones. And I am pretty sure next time will be pretty soon!

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