Tag Archives: TWD

Rash promises and kitchen derring-do: turkish coffee brownie layer cake

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This is a cake of two tales. And the tale of two cakes.

Story the first.

Once upon a Saturday night, there was a Pimms cocktail-addled promise to make a layered birthday cake. Which I promptly forgot about until Sunday evening (the birthday was on Monday).

It was the prettiest Pimms cocktail I had ever seen, with three different types of citrus, strawberries, mint, a dash of this and a splash of that. An English-summer-meets-tropical sunset mash of colours and flavours.

But if I have to bake a cake every time I have that cocktail, I may just switch to a martini.

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Story the second.

Once upon a Sunday evening. With a sense of wild, reckless adventure, and no little trepidation, I poured cake batter into teacups and put it into the oven.

Wild recklessness, because I picked up the teacups from an op shop, with no knowledge of whether they were oven safe. Trepidation, because We could have had a Turkish coffee brownie flavoured explosion in the oven.

(But, looking on the bright side of life, a Turkish coffee brownie flavoured explosion might have led to a new oven. One with an accurate temperature gauge, a working oven light, and a steam function for baking bread.)

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Cakes I & II

We didn’t get a new oven.

Instead, we got brownie cakes. I inverted the teacup cakes so they became domed-shaped single-serve mini layer cakes. With just enough space for one candle on top.

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Gussied up elevenses: Marion Cunningham’s scones

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Elevenses. The meal eaten by hobbits between the second breakfast and luncheon (J. R. R. Tolkien). A second breakfast – those hobbits are wise creatures.

For me, elevenses isn’t elevenses unless scones are involved. But whose scones?

The American scones have changed from the classic Britisher. No longer are they round, primly delicate, glazed with milk, eaten with clotted cream and jam. The transtlantic type can be stuffed with fresh pears, berries, nuts, chocolate, and did I hear mention of jalapeno? Made with wholemeal (whole wheat), ricotta, cream. Sugar coated, maple syruped, and glazed.

In a word, gussied-up. (ok, two words)

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Bialys, and a cow-herding robot called Shrimp

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I have something that I want to tell you about: a robot herding cows.

I knew some engineering students at uni, and one of them has been telling me about our university’s robotics research. Basically they are making robots that – one day – will be able to do all kinds of clever things by remote control or (gasp!) autonomously.

One of their experiments is cow herding with a robot called Shrimp. And it was picked up on Canadian TV, the BBC and lots of other media sites! I think Shrimp is kinda adorable, in the Wall-E style, and it looks like the cows just accepted that there’s a robot ushering them around – !!

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Bialys, the stories

I digress from bialys. This bread seems about as far removed from cow herding robots as you can get. The stories about bialys are a little sad yet appealing to the romantic imagination. They look into the past, not into a robotics future.

Bialys, or bialystoker kuchen, comes from the city of Bialystok, Poland; it was part of Czarist Russia at one stage. Bialys look similar to the bagel, except it has an indent and not a hole, the indent is traditionally filled with an onion and poppyseed mixture, and it is baked without being boiled first.

Bialys seems to have been eaten at all meals by the Jewish people in Bialystok, but now is much less commonly found. Some stories from people who have migrated to the US are here. Mimi Sheraton also wrote a book, The Bialy Eaters, The Story of a Bread and a Lost World.

(Mimi Sheraton’s book title made me think of the Lotus Eaters from Ulysses, except eating bialys in other parts of the world probably reminded people of home and Bialystok, not forgetful of it.)

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Tuesdays with…Peter? Making Peter Reinhart’s challah

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When I bake with a recipe, I like to think about little ways to tweak it, play with it, personalise it. But today, I’ve gone completely rogue on the TWD group. Sorry guys.

Instead of Julia Child / Lauren Groveman’s challah, I made Peter Reinhart’s challah recipe instead.

You see, I was planning to share it with a Jewish friend. Since I didn’t know if he observed dietary laws about separating meat and dairy, I didn’t want to give him challah made with butter. Instead, I made a non-dairy challah.

Reinhart’s challah uses egg yolks to add richness. Lots of yolks. (Apparently egg is neutral under dietary laws) Kneading by hand took longer, but on a leisurely evening, I hand kneaded, and watched the dough change from a sloppy, wet mess to a soft, malleable ball.

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The dough proofed in the fridge for 3-4 days, to develop flavour and shape, and become silky to the touch. Then, I learned to braid challah, with 6 braids. (I may have got a little confused in the beginning, and un-braided once, but thanks to clear instructions from Smitten Kitchen, by the end of the first loaf of challah, I was braiding like a pro.)

And the dough became two loaves of lovely, gorgeous-smelling bread. Richly yellow, with a dark lacquered crust. I used ironbark honey from around the Blue Mountains, which has such an alluring smell that permeates the room. The challah also became imbued with the smell and loveliness of the honey. Fresh from the oven, the challah was soft, a little sweet, pulled into strands, and made me want to dive into its sunny yellow depths.

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Is it a cookie? brownie? double chocolate dog bones?

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I have been on a roll with this oversized cookie thing. First there was a giant cookie, now we have a cookie slab. A double chocolate cookie-brownie slab. Come to think of it, a gluten-free double chocolate cookie-brownie slab.

Half of the slab became brownie-like slices, and the other half – I had  a dog bone-shaped cookie cutter, so there were double chocolate dog bones.

Woof.

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In the evening, Mr Gander and I had this exchange:

Mr Gander: what’s this?

Me: A giant cookie slab. Or cookie slab. As a cookie, it’s giant; but as a slab, it’s merely normal sized.

Mr Gander: and these?

Me: Dog bone cookie cut-out things.

Mr Gander: … …

(ps, he ate them anyway)

These were made from the recipe for double chocolate cookies, as part of this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) assignment. I made this recipe using a mix of gluten free flours, following the ratio of 60% starch (I used potato starch and white rice flour), 40% whole grain (I used quinoa, brown rice and corn flour) from Gluten Free Girl. I also used more 85% chocolate, because I like my chocolate dark and cookies giant. 

The resulting cookie slab was a super-intense chocolate hit, dense, almost toothsome, not unlike drinking a doppio (double shot espresso) from the original Campos cafe. Best enjoyed in small bites with equally strong tea or coffee, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If made with more milk chocolate, it would become a perfect companion to a glass of cold milk too. The recipe only uses a small amount of flour, with a huge quantity of chocolate, so I don’t think the GF flours affected the texture much, unless it made the cookies slab a little bit more crumbly.

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