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Archive for March, 2013

Feeling inspired by last month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge, I spent some time reading other people’s creations for the challenge. I came across a black bean brownie recipe on a site I enjoy called The Gingered Whisk. It had a bit more sugar than I usually like to use but I had received consistent feedback recently of insufficient sugar in my baked goods (I just need to complete their reprogramming). So I decided to make the recipe exactly as Jenni had recorded it. The only change I made, inadvertently, was to use a Chinese black bean (not like the salty bean used in black beans sauce but not the same as other black beans I have seen). It seemed to work out ok.

Here is the link to Jenni’s recipe – brownies

Feedback has been very positive, including from the husband but also, more significantly, from my dad, who offered a “good”. I am not sure it will become a regular, given the sugar, but I’m definitely happy I tried it.

20130330-133444.jpg

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I finally did a challenge! Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results. I was pretty excited about this month’s challenge. Not because my kids don’t like vegetables, but because I like to add random fruit and veg to most things I make. Everything is made better with a bit of cauliflower, I say.

Unfortunately, despite making a few things (largely successfully), I failed to take proper photographs of them. So you’re just going to have to take my word for it. Hidden vegies are the goods.

I first made Chocolate, Zucchini and Pear Muffins. I think, but am no longer entirely sure, that I started from this recipe here but modified it a bit, so it was basically:

Ingredients

1/3 cup boiling water
2 grated zucchinis
1 grated pear
1 1/2 cups of plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa (I use Loving Earth raw cacoa powder because I like it)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup greek yoghurt (instead of oil)
2 eggs

I think because the pear was really ripe, it ended up being a super sloppy mixture and I figured I had wasted a few zucchinis. The muffins took ages to cook, plus I took them out too early, panicked and put them back in again, so they looked a bit ordinary by the end. However, to my great surprise they have been a big hit with Miss B, who is continuing to be a challenge on the lunch box front. I forgot to take photos, but they basically looked like chocolate muffins (take my word for it, please!).

Next I made Pink Bread, otherwise known as Beetroot Bread. This was partly to see if I could lure Miss B through the use of pink and partly because I had a stack of beetroot to use. I used this recipe here, basically without alteration. It was a bit of winner. It was also unfortunate, because I made it at a time when I had committed to giving up bread, and carbs, and possibly joy. That didn’t last long. Sadly, despite being a hit with the husband and I, it was not popular with the small people. I would definitely make it again though. It was a little bit sweet but not overwhelmingly so, with a beautiful texture.

Here is a picture of the loaf. I forgot to take a picture of a slice, so you’ll have to use your imagination. It was very pink.

Pink bread!

Pink bread!

And finally, I made White Bean Blondies. I’ve had a few bags of beans in my pantry for ages and have been researching ways to use them. I hadn’t thought of using them in baked goods but I discovered in the course of this challenge that there are plenty of legume based brownie and cake recipes out there. A lot of them seemed fairly unhealthy though, so I wasn’t quite sure what the point was. Then I found this recipe, which made much more sense to me. I made a variation of that recipe, as follows:

1 cup of cooked cannellini beans (soaked overnight, boiled for ages. I’m sure you could use canned but I didn’t want to)

1/2 cup sugar

50 grams of butter

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup of plain flour

1 small handful of multicoloured chocolate chips

Bake for about 30 mins in a 180 degree oven.

I threw everything except the chocolate chips into the thermomix and whizzed it until it was smooth before adding the chocolate chips. To my surprise, I discovered at this point that the mixture was quite delicious (even though I am not meant to be going anywhere near raw egg at the moment). To my even greater surprise, the finished product met with unconditional approval from the husband, even though he knew it contained beans. It’s also been a hit with the children. I’m not going to pretend it’s healthy – it’s still got sugar and butter – but it’s a lot better than some other treats and it whacks a big punch of fibre.

And now to the photo…

White bean blondie

White bean blondie

Now I know this doesn’t look that tasty, but (again) you’re just going to have to take my word for it. Was beans. Was good. And I plan to sneak beans into many future baking adventures.

Thanks Ruth!
3/4 cup chocolate chips

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My Miss B turned 5 on Sunday. It’s been a big year for her already – she has started school and loves it. We decided to have a party in a local park and invite her whole class, which seemed like a great idea until the week of the party. Solid rain, with the forecast for the day of the party most optimistically described as “showers”. There was much frantic checking of the weather prediction sites, desperately trying to find one that promised sunshine.

There was also much late night shopping while sadly noting the onset of a head cold and cranky throat. The birthday girl had requested an Angelina Ballerina cake and I did entertain thoughts of buying a plastic Angelina to just stick on the top but apparently they don’t make them – bastards! So I turned to my modelling icing. Which turned out to be 2 years out of date. Whoops. Luckily I had some ready made fondant so I just decided to make a soft Angelina. I’m sure ballerina mice are meant to be a bit squishy, right?

And here she is, in all her stuck-together-with-skewers, poorly painted glory.

Angelina topper

I was so relieved it looked vaguely like a mouse, but also so tired, that I sent out a picture on twitter along the lines of “For the love of God, can someone please tell me they can see who this is meant to be“. Luckily lots of lovely tweeps promptly messaged back saying “Angelina!”. I breathed a sigh of relief and went to bed.

The rest of the cake construction went relatively smoothly, although my runners arms got tired from kneading colour into the icing and I gave up before I made it to the stage of uniform colour. I also realised that I’m a bit crap at applying fondant icing. Fortunately I realised at the same time that I didn’t care.

So here it is:
gju_0481

And it didn’t even melt at the party! I did have a few amusing moments though – including the discussion with Miss B when I first showed her the cake:

B: Is it chocolate cake?!

Me: Yep!

B: But I wanted an Angelina cake!

Me: It is an Angelina cake. Angelina is on the top.

B: But it was meant to be Angelina flavoured!

Me: (thinking WTF?) Um…what does an Angelina flavoured cake taste like?

Be: Strawberry.

Me: Ah. Well, sorry about that.

Who knew mice tasted like strawberries?

I also had a request at the party to eat Angelina’s head. I have to point out that Angelina’s head had already come off when I cut the cake, so she wasn’t asking to decapitate Angelina, but I was concerned about her request to eat what was basically a painted blob of icing (non-toxic colour, obviously!). However, she was an extremely persuasive and charming 5 year old and I eventually gave in. She was delighted to find it was an entirely icing head and quickly came back for the rest of her body. I drew the line at that though – an entire icing mouse is just not healthy.

And I almost forgot the most important parts – a) it didn’t rain; b) Miss B had a fabulous day and c) I met a whole new group of fabulous children and parents. Life is pretty damn good.

So that’s it for children’s birthdays for this year. I suppose I should actually get my act together and do some baking challenges now! Either that or convince my dad that a man in his mid 60s really wants a lion cake for his birthday…

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