Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Cookin' with Booze (Tequila lemon cupcakes)

A while ago, I made Absinthe cupcakes (they were a whopping ~2 standard drinks a cupcake). Several of my friends expressed their enjoyment of them, and their further interest in "testing" any other booze related cooking I should happen to do. Now, some of them got their wish.

A word of warning - these cupcakes will put you over the legal limit for P-plater driving (above 0.0 blood alcohol, for those not in the know). They work out to be between half a shot to 2+ shots of tequila each, depending on how strong you make the syrup.

Tequila lemon cupcakes


2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup tequila
3 tsp lemon juice
4 large egg whites
1 Tbs lemon zest

For syrup
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup tequila (or less, if you want less alcoholic muffins[or more, if you want strongly alcoholic muffins. Beware though - add to much and you'll end up with tequila pudding])

1.Combine together sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. 

2.With an electric beater, mix in butter. 

3.Pour in milk, tequila, and lemon juice. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. 

4.Add egg whites to mix and beat for 2 minutes. 

5.Pour into cupcake tins (remember, cupcake liners are your friends). Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 - 25 minutes or until done. They will be quite solid when cooked, almost crunchy on top.

6. Allow to cool. While the cupcakes are cooling, make a syrup to brush them with.


1. Mix sugar and water together.

2. Bring to boil on stove top. 

3.Allow to cool, mix in tequila. (Make sure the syrup is cool before adding the tequila)

4. Brush muffin tops with syrup.

and now, as always, pictures:

All the ingredients. Note the unopened bottle of Tequila.
All the dry ingredients

ALL of the ingredients!

Putting the mix into the cupcake tin

Cupcake liners: because protection is important!

I coloured the cupcakes, because why not!


The syrup, without the tequila

So. Much. Tequila.

Muffins! With Syrup!

Blue Muffins! Also with syrup!



Saturday, 27 August 2011

*sparkle sparkle* (Choc chip cookies)

</Alex Armstrong impression>

Today’s recipe is one which has been passed down through my family for generations. It apparently was created at some point in the 18th century, and has been modified by everyone who has made it. However, not one single person has actually written down the ingredients – we’ve all been taught along the lines of “add about this much flour, until it looks like this”. So, as part of my contribution to the proud tradition of modifying this recipe, I worked out the ingredients.

Thomas Family Choc Chip Cookies


2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (250 g) unsalted butter (regular butter will do)
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk
2 cups (500g) chocolate chips(at minimum. You can add more if you like)


1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. Microwave butter for 30 seconds, stir and set aside.

3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until creamy.

4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add milk and beat until combined.

5.Gradually sift in flour, baking soda and salt. Beat until just combined (Over mixing will lead to tough cookies)

6.Stir in chocolate chips.

7. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.

8.Place small globs of chilled dough onto a baking tray (baking paper is still your friend!).  Leave a fair amount of space between globs, as the cookies tend to spread a fair bit while cooking.

9. Bake for 10 minutes or until light brown.  Transfer cookies to cooling racks (careful, they’ll be hot and soft!)

10. Before adding more dough to the warm baking tray, place tray in freezer for 5-7 minutes to cool.

11. Repeat until all the dough is cooked.

Once again, photos!
(No cameraman this time, only your dear humble blogger)

(some of) the ingredients! 
 Chopped butter!
 Melted butter!
 More melted butter!
 The unmixed version of the sugar/butter mix
 More mixing!
 MORE MIXING! (This is nearly the colour it should be)
 As you can see, it's fairly solid
 Eggs, donated by the Drage family chickens (Thanks Sam!)
 It's not rotten, so into the mix it goes!
 The cookie dough. (That white powder is plain flour, I swear!)
 Mixed cookie dough!
 The best bit - adding the choc chips!
 Mixed in choc chips - yum!
 More photos of the bowl of dough. This is what it looked like fresh out of the freezer.
The cookies!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

D'ough! (Italian Bread)

</Homer Simpson impression>

Not making something sweet tonight, but rather a lot of bread. Very nice bread, the recipe for which is again from Brown eyed baker (here).

Italian Bread 
2 cups lukewarm water (not boiling, but not straight from the cold tap)
1 package active dry yeast
5 to 5¾ cups bread flour (plain flour works too)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar (or any brown sugar you’ve got)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (or any other sort of olive oil)
2½ teaspoons salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten

1. Stir the yeast into ½ cup of the warm water. Let proof as you measure out the dry ingredients.

2. Combine 5 cups flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the yeast mixture, remaining water and olive oil. Using a dough hook attachment, mix on lowest speed of electric mixer until a dough starts to form, adding more flour as needed.

3. Knead on low speed  for 7 minutes. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 1 to 2 minutes, or until a smooth, firm, elastic dough is formed.
(You may need to add more flour during this step. I ended up adding a couple of handfuls more flour)

4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and spray the dough with a thin coating of cooking spray. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to proof in a warm, draft-free place for 1½ hours or until doubled in size.

5. Remove the plastic wrap, punch down and flatten the rounded dough with the heel of your hand.
(It’ll feel really soft, like punching condensed air)

6. Roll the dough up tightly, sealing the seam well after each roll. The dough should be elongated and oval-shaped, with tapered and rounded (not pointed) ends.

7. Preheat the oven lined to 220 Celsius. Place an empty baking tray on the bottom rungs of the oven to heat up. Place the dough on a different baking tray lined with baking paper. Allow the dough to proof, loosely covered with a floured canvas cloth, for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
(I didn’t have a canvas cloth, so I just left the dough uncovered.)

8. Brush the dough with the egg white. Using a razor blade or sharp knife, slash the dough lengthwise about 1/4-inch deep, keeping the blade at a 45 degree angle.

9. pour the rest of the water onto the heated up baking tray, leaving it in the oven (you’re steaming the bread to get a nice crust). Place the tray with the dough on it into the oven.

10. Bake the dough for a total of 45 minutes, or until a hollow thud is heard when tapping the bottom of the bread. Allow the bread to cool before slicing.
(We ended up burning it slightly, and only cooked it for ~30 min. It seems to depend on the oven)

And, as always, Pictures!
(again, my lovely camera man was Sam.)

kneading the dough.

Action shot! 
yay, more  blurry action shots!
 Pro-tip: do not wear black while baking. You will look like an incompetent crack addict.
Knead I say more? 
 The kneaded dough, in the bowl. 
 It's ALIVE!
 Like punching condensed air.
 Shaped into a loaf. Note the round ends.
 Slice it up!
 So we kinda burnt it a bit.
 It still tasted good!
 Slicing into it was interesting - let it cool and soften up a bit before you cut it.
It was fine on the inside.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Poké cake (Vanilla strawberry cake with marshmallow and chocolate icing)

Tonight's entry is actually one I made a week or two ago, and then subsequently fed to my D&D group.

The cake recipe comes from the site Brown Eyed Baker, here, and the icing recipe is one I got from a friend.

I'll reproduce the cake recipe here, since I changed a few bits and added things.

Also trying out a new format - recipe is in normal text, my notes are in italics.

Vanilla strawberry cake

2 1/2 cups cake flour , plus extra for dusting pans
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 3/4 cups sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
250 g unsalted butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk , room temperature
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (at minimum. I used about 3 1/2 teaspoons, and it tasted fantastic)
6 large egg yolks , room temperature
3 large egg whites , room temperature(that's 6 eggs in total, not nine eggs.)

Punnet sliced strawberries (however many you want, really. Slice them thinish though.

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 175 degrees. Grease a large round baking tin, and line the bottom with baking paper (I forgot to do this. The cake stuck to the bottom and tore, so I had to ice it back together) . Dust pan with flour, and knock out excess.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in large bowl. In 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.
(protip: there are a few ways of separating the yolk from the white. I tend to just crack the egg in half gently and strain it through my (clean!) fingers, which works as long as you’re gentle. Other people I know crack a smallish hole in the side of the egg, and let the white drip out into a cup. Separate the eggs however you’re most comfortable doing so, but remember to both check for rotten ones and to keep both bits of the egg. Also remember that you only need 3 egg whites for this recipe, so keep two of the extra ones separate for the icing. Find another use for the unneeded egg white.)
2. In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy. If you don’t have a stand mixer, don’t despair! You can use an ordinary electric beater, but your arms might get slightly sore. If you have a hand powered beater, and are either a masochist or skipping the gym to bake, you could use that instead.
 3. With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). You’re going for the uncooked meringue look here. Transfer to a clean bowl and set aside.
3. Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain). Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated.
4. Using rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of whites(the meringue stuff you made in step 3) into batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain.
(protip the second: Folding !=stiring. If you are unsure of the difference, youtube it.)
5. Pour cake mix into prepared tin. Lightly tap the sides and base of it against the bench to dislodge any large air bubbles.
6. Using either a butterknife or your fingers (I suggest the butterknife), press the sliced strawberries into the batter until they are totally covered. Try not to push them too deep into the batter, or they’ll possibly stick to the bottom and tear your cake.
7. Bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. (Mine actually took around about an hour, and I had to pull it out and cover it in alfoil and two layers of tea towels, then let it sit on the bench for half an hour before it was cooked. However, I suspect this was mostly due to my oven being old.)
8. Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cake from side of pan with small knife, then invert onto greased wire rack and peel off parchment. Invert cake again and cool completely on rack.

And your cake is done!
(if it tore, don’t worry. Icing can hide all manner of sins)
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for:
Marshmallow Icing
120g white sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 ½ tsp water
2 egg whites (this is why I told you to keep the egg whites left over from the cake)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.    1. Cook the sugar, golden syrup and water in a saucepan over high heat until it reaches the softball stage (which the recipe tells me is 115 degrees Celsius on a sugar thermometer, I don’t have one of those, so I just waited until the mix looked like this:

then called it done.)

2.    2.While that’s cooking, beat the egg whites in a bowl until soft peaks form. (I’d suggest using an electric hand mixer to do so.)

3.    3.With the blades still running on low speed, pour the hot sugar syrup in a steady stream into the bowl.

(Please be careful, the syrup will be very hot (trust me, I know from experience it hurts when it gets on your fingers). The syrup will cool quickly in the pot, so work fast to get it into the bowl.)

4.    4.Once all the syrup is in the bowl, increase the speed of the beaters to medium-high. Continue to beat the mixture until it is glossy, thick and cool. Towards the end of mixing, add the vanilla essence.

And now, pictures! Again! (less of them this time, because my camera was playing up)
As you can see, I tore the cake a bit getting it out.

You can also see some of the strawberries through the cracks.

The sugar/water/golden syrup mix, before it gets cooked.

just before the softball stage.
Your humble blogger. And my kitchen.
(Yes, I am actually sober in this picture)
(Softball, softball, anyone?)
One of my conscripted helpers, Sagan. Or, as most people know her now, Duckling.
We must concentrate very hard on this icing. 
(also, the camera appears to be mid-blink)
Please do not ask why there is a jar of grilled eggplant on the table.
More icing!
another conscripted helper, Caitlin. AKA Jellyfishie.
There is a long story behind the nicknames.
So, we kinda ended up with a pink and white Poké ball...
and we created a fair bit of mess while achieving this,
nearly done!
smoothing down the icing.
There was a lot of left over icing. 
Now all that's needed is the middle band.
Which was store bought chocolate icing, piped on via glad bag.