The best part of baking

Apart from the finished product, one of the best things about baking is eating the leftover mixture.  When we were kids, my sister and I would always argue who was going to lick the bowl/beaters and who got more than the other (actually we still do!)  Looking through the photos I took yesterday when we made Raspberry Spiked Brownies – I think we will have to start having the same argument with Liam!  Needless to say, he wasn’t very hungry at dinner time!

 

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Raspberry Spiked Chocolate Brownies

Over the last few weeks I have been hooked on brownies and blondies.  Each recipe I have made, I’ve thought it to be the winner.  However I think this combination of rich dark chocolate brownie with raspberries literally takes the cake (pun intended).  These are sensational, the brownie is so rich and chocolatey, and the raspberries are such a great contrast.  The centre is quite soft, and is GREAT warm with vanilla ice cream.  My little helper enjoyed licking the bowl…. I know just award me mother of the year now.

yummy

yummy

Recipe from Donna Hay Simply Essentials – Chocolate

200g dark chocolate chopped

250g butter

1 3/4 cups brown sugar

4 eggs

1 1/3 cups plain flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup cocoa powder sifted

1 1/2 cups raspberries – fresh or frozen

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  • Place chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth
  • Place in a bowl with the sugar and eggs
  • Sift over the flour, baking powder and cocoa and mix to combine
  • Pour into a 23cm greased square cake tine lined with non stick baking aper
  • Top the mixture with the raspberries and bake for 45 minutes or until set.
  • Brownies should be very fudgey in middle
You MUST try this!

You MUST try this!

My 3/4 Year Resolutions

There are just 14 weeks left until the end of 2013…. FOURTEEN WEEKS!  That’s just over a quarter of the year left to go and only 13 weeks until Christmas (you can thank me later for that reminder).

Rather than waiting for the new year to make resolutions, I’ve decided to make a few promises to myself – starting now.

  • Stop and enjoy the moment. Whether it be playing with the boys, reading stories or just having a quiet coffee whilst they are both asleep, rather than thinking about what I need to do next, or worrying about the mess being made/what we should be doing instead I am going to just STOP and enjoy as I will never have this time back.
  • Having time to myself regularly is non negotiable.  Since I have an abundance of babysitters whilst we are visiting, it has made me realise even just getting out by myself for 45 minutes to go for a walk in the mornings makes me happier and more relaxed, which in turn makes me a better Mum.  A quick catch up with a friend for an hour without the boys reminds me that I can have a conversation which doesn’t revolve around the kids.
  • Make the most of everyday.  We have been lucky enough to have some gorgeous weather the past few days. Instead of sitting around, I’ve been making an effort to get out and about, whether it be down to the park for a play or a day trip. We are having new experiences and creating new memories
  • Take more photos of myself with the boys. Each week I vow to have one photo of myself with either both or one of the boys.

 

What are you going to do to see out 2013 on a high?

 

Me time...

Enjoying some ‘me’ time…

Chocolate Goodness – Choc Chip Butter Cake

Continuing my journey through Donna Hay’s Simply Essentials Chocolate book, I decided to make this butter cake – with choc chips of course!  After I had made a different version of butter cake over the weekend, I was keen to try another recipe.

This cake is incredibly moist and has a great vanilla/buttery flavour.  I didn’t have any sour cream, and substituted with natural yoghurt which worked well.  I also used a whole bag of cadbury dark chocolate chips instead of chopped dark chocolate.  I love dark chocolate and thought it complemented the cake brilliantly, but others said they would have preferred milk chocolate.  After having a big weekend, I’m back on the straight and narrow and have eaten well today. However the temptation of warm cake was too much and I gave in and ate a whole piece…  it was worth it though!  I will now be setting the alarm early to go for a walk in the morning!

 

185g butter softened

1 1/4 cups caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs

3/4 cup sour cream

2 1/3 cups plain flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate

 

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees
  • Place butter, sugar and vanilla in bowl of mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until light and creamy
  • Add the eggs and sour cream and beat well
  • Fold through the flour, baking powder and chocolate
  • Spoon the mixture into a 20 x 30cm slab tine lined with non stick baking paper
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer
Yum!

Yum!

Baby Celebration Cake

Since my babies like to arrive earlier than expected, I’ve never had a baby shower.  I jinxed myself during my last pregnancy by having a morning tea to celebrate 31 weeks (the longest I have ever been pregnant!) – I was then admitted to hospital 5 days later and Aiden arrived a few days after that!

When my sister said she didn’t want a baby shower, I was a little disappointed, but respected her decision.  I did still want to do something special for her.  She has been amazing over the past couple of years, dropping everything to fly up and help us out when I’ve been pregnant/in hospital, and I was looking forward to having an opportunity to repay some of the massive debt we owe her.  It’s quite likely her little bub will be arriving a few weeks earlier than expected, so we took the opportunity to arrange a surprise family lunch for her this weekend.

As with any kind of celebration, it’s not complete without a cake and I was keen to try something new.  I’ve always thought rainbow cakes look impressive, and to go with the baby theme I thought pink and blue layers (she hasn’t found out what she is having – much to my frustration!) would look good.

Baby Shower Celebration Cake

I was really happy with how the cake turned out. I was a little worried about how I was going to put it together, but it was surprisingly easy.  I kept the decorations simple and just used smarties (only needed 2 bags to get enough pink and blue ones), but you could jazz this up as much as you want.

Loving the layers

Loving the layers

baby shower cake 4 copy

Butter Cake – The below recipe makes one cake.  You will need two of these for a four layered cake as pictured- recipe is from Donna Hay Modern Classics 2.

125g butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup cater sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups plain flour – sifted

1/2 teaspoon baking powder – sifted

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda – sifted

1/2 cup milk

Pink and Blue food dye

  • Preheat over to 150 degrees
  • Place all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on low speed until combined
  • Add a few drops of food dye until you have desired colour
  • Increase the speed to high and beat until just smooth

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  • Grease a 20cm round tin and line with non stick baking paper, spoon mixture into tin and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes then turn onto a wire rack

Buttercream

500g butter – softened (I use Lurpak butter, it’s a bit pricer but the colour is much better)

6 1/2 cups of icing sugar – sifted

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

  • Beat butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth and creamy
  • Add vanilla to butter mixture and beat well
  • Gradually add sifted icing sugar, and beat until well combined
  • Slice cakes in half once completely cooled.
  • Place one layer on serving plate, add even layer of buttercream, repeat until all layers of cake are stacked together – I find it easiest to use a pallet knife to do this
  • Spread remaining buttercream around outside and on top of cake
  • Decorate as desired

 

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Linking up with The Multitasking Mummy for Mummy Mondays

 

 

The week that was….

We’ve been back in Victoria for a week now… and STILL NO BABY!!  I shouldn’t complain, Tiff was only 36 weeks yesterday, so hopefully bub stays put for another week or so.

A beautiful bump x

A beautiful bump x

 

The boys have been fantastic, Liam in particular is having a ball with so many new things to look at and do.  He is fascinated watching the cars and trucks driving past Nan’s house.  He also loves saying ‘truck’ and ‘beep beep’. It would be nice if he pronounces the ‘T’ a bit clearer, as it can be confused with another word…..  He is also loving spending time with his Nanas and Poppy and also his Aunty and Uncle.  We are all missing Daddy, Liam loves talking to him on the phone.

Liam LOVES watching the trucks

Liam LOVES watching the trucks

Story time with Nan

Story time with Nan

 

Aiden is also having lots of special cuddles – he has been going through a growth spurt the past week and we are now officially in 000s!!!

Special time with Nan

Special time with Nan

 

The weather hasn’t been too bad.  It’s certainly much cooler than back home, but we’ve at least had a few days of sunshine.

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The highlight of the week was our lunch today to celebrate the upcoming arrival of Tiff’s new bub.  Living interstate we often miss out on a lot of family events, so it’s really special when we can be involved too.

baby shower cake 2 copy

How has your week been?

Inspiration for the weekend – Orange and Blueberry Cake

A few months back I turned 30 – I’m still coming to terms with it! I thought it was about time I ramped up my anti ageing efforts so a couple of weeks ago I went out and bought some super dooper (and expensive) eye cream.  Fast forward to three days later and my cheeks/under my eyes were red, dry and puffy,  so last weekend I was back at Myer to return it.  It was perfect timing as Myer had a one day sale with 40% all full priced books, so I took the opportunity to buy ‘Baking’ by Australian cooking royalty – Margaret Fulton, and also ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ by Nigella Lawson.

Margaret Fulton - Australian Baking Royalty

Margaret Fulton – Australian Baking Royalty

I’m slowly reading through ‘Baking’ and there are so many recipes that I want to try.  It has all the old favourites (tea cake, self saucing chocolate pudding etc) as well as recipes from around the world such as Bienenstich (honey flavoured bee sting cake from Germany) and Danish Raspberry Shortcake.

I thought I’d try  the orange and blueberry cake, as Mum had all the ingredients.  Whilst the cake tasted great, and Mum’s work colleagues were happy to devour the leftovers the next day, I was a little dissapointed that the blueberries all sank to the bottom, and I had to add another 15 minutes to the cooking time , but will put this down to being unfamiliar with Mum’s oven.

2 cups self raising flour sifted

1 1/3 caster sugar

2 eggs lightly beaten

3/4 cup milk

grated rind and juice of 1 orange

130g butter melted

200g fresh or frozen blueberries (I used frozen)

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease a deep 22cm loose based flan tin or cake tine
  • Combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl
  • Add the eggs, milk, rind, juice and butter and mix until combined
  • Spoon into the prepared tin
  • Top with half of the blueberries and bake for 20 minutes
  • Sprinkle over the remaining blueberries and bake for another 20 minutes
  • Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool
Orange & Blueberry Cake

Orange & Blueberry Cake