Monday, May 30, 2011

Almond and Vanilla Cupcakes

I've made these cupcakes once. That was today when I felt like trying out a new baking recipe. And they are AWESOME! They have instantly become my favourite cupcake ever and I HAD to share the recipe instantly.

Almond and Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes 12

135g butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
2 tspn vanilla extract
3/4 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cups almond meal
3 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 1/2 tspn baking powder

Pre-heat your oven to 170C (160C if fan-forced) and line a 12-hole cupcake pan with papers.

In a medium-sized bowl, cream the butter for 2 minutes. Add the sugar in thirds and beat for 2 minutes after each addition. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute per egg. Add the vanilla and beat the mixture one last time until it looks pale and fluffy.

Add half of the flour and half of the almond meal and gently stir it into the butter mixture. Add the yoghurt and stir then add the remaining dry ingredients and stir the mixture until everything has combined.

Spoon the mixture into the cupcake papers and bake for 20-25 minutes (or until a skewer inserted comes out cleanly). Remove the cupcakes from the pan and leave them to cool completely on a wire rack.

Make a simple icing (using icing sugar and a splash of water). For something a little different, add 1/8 tspn of violet water, orange blossom water or rose water to the icing. Or, if you'd prefer, ice them with a white chocolate ganache.

Then try not to eat them all at once. ;p

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pizza Dough

I've had a request for my pizza dough recipe from fellow Twitterer @Davsimp. So here it is David. :)

Basic Pizza Dough
Makes 4 thin bases

200mL lukewarm water
8g fresh yeast
5g sugar
350g strong bread flour
A decent pinch of salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp milk
4 pieces of baking paper, the same size as your pizza stone (or baking tray)

Add the yeast and sugar to the warm water then leave it to sit for 10 minutes so the yeast activates.

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl then add the yeast mixture, olive oil and milk and combine the mixture. Tip onto a surface and knead. If the mixture is too wet, add some more flour. If it's too dry then add a splash more olive oil.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes then pop it into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave it to prove for 20 minutes.

Cut the dough into quarters then knead them all seperately for 5-10 minutes each. (It's always good to have a bit of help at this point!) Leave for a further 30 minutes to prove. (At this point, I just dust the kitchen bench with a bit of flour and leave them there, covered with a tea towel.)

Preheat the oven to as hot as it will go and put a pizza stone (or your baking tray) in to heat up. Roll out the pizza dough portions onto a piece of baking paper. Prick the dough all over with a fork (this stops it rising unevenly and looking "bubbled") then add your toppings to the pizza.

Working quickly, take the stone out of the oven, slide your piece of baking paper (with the pizza on it) onto the stone, then put it back into the oven for 6-8 minutes.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pantry Paella

I have only recently discovered the delights on paella (yeah, I know, it took me awhile!) and I've been playing about with a few different variations. This is one I've dubbed "pantry paella". Mainly because I keep most of these ingredients in my pantry or fridge (or freezer - thank you frozen beans!) and it's dead easy to make.

Pantry Paella
Serves 4

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion (or 2 little ones), diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
6 large chicken thighs, cut into large chunks
1 capsicum (red or green), diced
100g green beans
2 tomatoes, diced
Large pinch of saffron threads
1 tspn dried rosemary
1 tspn smoked paprika (use normal paprika if you can't get smoked)
1L chicken stock
1 cup long-grain white rice (or use paella rice if you have it)

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium-low heat and gently cook the onion until it's transparent. Add the garlic and cook for a minute then add the chicken thighs and turn the heat up to medium. Let the chicken thighs brown all over.

Add the capsicum and green beans and cook for about 5 minutes - until the capscium has begun to soften a little. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until the juice has leaked out of the tomatoes and looks like it's beginning to thicken.

Stir in the saffron, rosemary, paprika and stock. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let the whole lot simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occassionally so nothing sticks on the bottom of the pan.

Tip in the rice, bring the mixture to a boil, stir well then lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the rice has cooked. If it looks like it's drying out before the rice has cooked, then just add some more hot water. Season the paella well with salt and pepper, then serve. Don't forget to save the slightly burnt, crusty bit at the bottom of the pan for yourself (or share if you're a nicer person than me!)