Thursday, September 22, 2011

Banana and passion fruit pavlova

I recently tried this and it was so delicious that I just had to recreate it. I definitely prefer the taste of bananas and passion fruit with pavlova to summer berries. Also, while making the dessert I ended up researching why it is called passion fruit, and apparently it has nothing to do with it containing or inducing passion, but rather is a reference to Christian theology. Anyways, I ramble - enjoy!

For the pavlova:
4 large (120 grams) egg whites
1 cup (200 grams) superfine (castor) sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch (corn flour)

Preheat oven to 125 degrees C and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and draw a 18 cm circle on the paper. Turn the parchment paper over so the circle is on the reverse side.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat, on high speed, until the meringue holds very stiff and shiny peaks. (Test to see if the sugar is fully dissolved by rubbing a little of the meringue between your thumb and index finger. The meringue should feel smooth, not gritty. If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers). Beat in the vanilla extract. Sprinkle the vinegar and cornstarch over the top of the meringue and, with a rubber spatula, gently fold in. Spread the meringue inside the circle drawn on the parchment paper, smoothing the edges, making sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher than the center. (You want a slight well in the center of the meringue to place the whipped cream and fruit.)

Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the outside is dry and is a very pale cream color. Turn the oven off, leave the door slightly ajar, and let the meringue cool completely in the oven. (The outside of the meringue will feel firm to the touch, if gently pressed, but as it cools you will get a little cracking and you will see that the inside is soft and marshmallowy.)

The cooled meringue can be made and stored in a cool dry place, in an airtight container, for a few days.

For the topping:
1 cup (240 ml) double cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) granulated white sugar (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 bananas, sliced
4 large passion fruits, sliced and scraped

Just before serving gently place the meringue onto a serving plate. Whip the cream in your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, until soft peaks form. Sweeten with the sugar and vanilla and then mound the softly whipped cream into the center of the meringue. Arrange the bananas on top of the cream, and top with the passion fruit. Serve immediately as this dessert does not hold for more than a few hours.

Source: Pavlova recipe from joyofbaking

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

So I'm finishing off my dissertation, spending the next two weeks at a course, then packing off my stuff moving to a different country - so what do I do? Cupcakes. In my defense, I've at least chosen a method of procrastination that has delicious results. These cupcakes reminded me carrot cake (which I love) because of the taste of cinnamon and mixed spice added to the apple. You could easily make them cream cheese frosting instead of vanilla. 

For the cupcakes:

2-3 medium apples, peeled then coarsely grated (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup caster sugar
60g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp all spice
1 tsp pure vanilla essence
1 egg

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F) and line a cupcake tin with papers. Mix together flour, bicarb, salt, cinnamon and all spice in a bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy in a large mixing bowl, about 5 minutes. Continue beating on high speed and add vanilla and the egg, beating until combined. Beat in grated apple, don't freak out at this point if the mixture looks slight weird and curdled. With your mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture until just combined. Spoon mixture into lined tin, filling papers 3/4 full. Bake in the oven for 18-20 mins, or until cupcakes are cooked through (test with a skewer) and brown on top. Remove from the oven and cool in tin for 5 minutes, then remove from tin and cool completely on a wire rack.

For the frosting:

2 cups (230 grams) icing sugar, sifted
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk or light cream

In an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth and well blended. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add a little more milk or sugar, if needed (I ended up adding more icing sugar until it was the right piping consistency).

sources: raspberri cupcakes, joyofbaking

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Classic White Bread

I don't know what it is about dough that makes it so lovable. It's just so soft and smooth that I can hardly bear to put it in the oven. Anyway, suffice it to say I'll be making bread a lot more often from now on.

500g white flour (preferably bread flour) , plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 tsp honey
7g sachet fast-action yeast
3 tbsp olive oil
300ml warm water

Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Dissolve the honey in the warm water. Make a well in the centre, then add the oil and water, and mix well. If the dough seems a little stiff, add 1-2 tbsp water, mix well then tip onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Once the dough is perfectly smooth, place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Leave to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size or place in the fridge overnight.
Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Knock back the dough to let the air out of it, then gently mould the dough into a ball. Place it on the baking parchment to prove for a further hour until doubled in size.

before final proofing

after final proofing

In the meantime, preheat oven to 220 degrees C. Dust the loaf with flour and cut a cross about 6cm long into the top of the loaf with a sharp knife. Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees C and bake for 25-30 mins until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.

source: bbc goodfood