Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Chocolate Cola Cake

This is a recipe I found by chance while I was looking for something else, and I had to make it straight away, even though it's hot here at the moment, and not really a good time to have the oven on!

I halved the original recipe to one I can fit in my 20 x 20 cm Pyrex dish, because it isn't anyone's birthday and I didn't think we needed to eat a whole cake between us. (OK so it's Australia Day, but that's not really enough of an excuse for us, as we don't really commemorate it in our house!)

Put flour, bicarb, sugar and cocoa in a bowl and combine. Beat an egg lightly, and add vanilla extract.

In a small pan, melt the butter gently, then add cola and milk. Turn off heat. Add egg and the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and mix in quickly and lightly.

Pour mixture into a cake pan - mine was a 20 x 20 cm Pyrex dish lined with a strip of baking paper. Cook at 180 C for 30 minutes or so until a skewer comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 mins before removing to a cooling rack. My cake was quite delicate so needed to be handled carefully.

The icing was made by melting butter then stirring in cocoa and cola. Pour the mixture into some icing sugar and beat together until smooth.

Pour onto cake and spread over the top. There was enough to cover the top of the cake and for some to dribble down the sides a little.

Cut into slices and watch it be demolished extremely quickly.

This was a very light, moist cake, with an interesting taste - the cola gave it a subtle flavour that was different to other chocolate cakes - it's hard to describe, so maybe you should make it yourself and see!

125 g self-raising flour
pinch of bicarb
2 tbsp cocoa powder
150 ml caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
125 g butter
100 ml cola
2 tbsp milk
100 g icing sugar
50 g butter
1 tbsp cola
1 tbsp cocoa powder

Friday, 22 January 2010

Leek and Sweet Potato Quiche

I made this quiche the other day when our friends Lisa and Ailin were coming over for lunch. It uses the olive oil pastry (the easiest pastry in the world) that I always use for quiche, so it's really quick to make.

Sarah, my sister, has a friend who uses the recipe - and she says that instead of rolling out the pastry, she just presses it into the quiche dish with her hands. I tried this and it works well, so now it's even quicker and easier! It gives a slightly ragged-looking edge, unless you spend a little time tidying things up, but raggedy edges don't worry me.

I lined the dish with the pastry, then put in a layer of leeks that I'd sliced finely and softened in a little butter and oil. I was planning to use onion, but the leeks were very reasonably priced today.

Then I put over a layer of thinly-sliced sweet potato.

I scattered over some creamy fetta cheese - and a little cheddar too, as I wasn't sure I had quite enough fetta - and added some chopped parsley.

To the eggy/milky mixture I added a generous teaspoonful of wholegrain mustard and some salt and pepper. As usual I had enough to make a mini quiche aswell.

Then I poured the egg/milk over, and cooked it for 45 - 60 mins at 170 C.

It was very tasty, I thought - mildly flavoured but not bland, and quite filling.

The original recipe for quiche is here

8 heaped tbsp flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
8 tbsp olive oil
8 tbsp water
1 medium onion or leek
1 small sweet potato
fetta/cheddar cheese
eggy topping:
3 eggs
400 ml milk (approx)
wholegrain mustard
salt, pepper

Friday, 15 January 2010

Mango Smoothie Ice Cream

I read about this very quick and easy way of making ice cream on the Claytons Blog, where Coby made a banana version. It uses sweetened condensed milk and doesn't need to be churned in an ice cream maker.

I made mine with mango instead, as it's pretty warm here at the moment, and mango is such a summery flavour. Coby said her children called theirs 'banana smoothie ice cream' which is a good name, so mine is 'mango smoothie ice cream'.

Put the condensed milk and cream in a large bowl, then mash up the mango with a fork and add that too.

Whisk it up really well with electric beaters. (This was very splattery, probably because of all the little lumps of mango.)

Pour into a container and freeze for several hours. Take it out of the freezer 15-20 minutes before serving, because it will probably be spoon-bendingly hard at first.

It's a pretty sweet ice cream - not really surprising when you think that condensed milk is one of the sweetest substances known to man.

Today, for some reason I decided it needed biscuits and melted dark chocolate, but they weren't necessary at all - it definitely doesn't need accompaniment.

Flesh of 1 mango
400 g can of condensed milk (I used skim)
Enough cream to fill the empty condensed milk can (about 300 ml according to Coby)

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Peanut Brittle

I've never made toffee or peanut brittle before, but Stephen convinced me we should try, as brittle is one of his favourites and he hasn't made any for years - so at 1030 the other night, this is what we were doing.

Put 3 cups of caster sugar and 1 cup of water in a heavy-based pan and heat, while stirring, until sugar dissolves.

Once dissolved, boil for around 10 minutes until it goes golden.

That's what it tells you to do in the recipes - but ours was taking ages and we were waiting at least 30 minutes before we decided maybe we should turn up the heat and boil it more rapidly.

Once it was boiling more rapidly it pretty quickly went golden, and when a drop of the hot sugar was put into a glass of cold water, there was a distinctive 'crack' sound which meant it was ready.

We used a large baking tray lined with buttered baking paper, and spread roasted peanuts over. (Protect the table/work surface underneath the pan, as the whole thing gets very hot.)

The peanuts could have been spread more evenly, but the non-peanut edges were good for the children who don't like peanuts.

And we found for those who do like peanuts, the middle part of the brittle (with lots of peanuts in) was the best part - so maybe next time more peanuts would be better.

Allow to cool, then break into chunks/shards.

3 cups caster sugar
1 cup water
200 g (or more) roasted peanuts (unsalted)

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Chocolate Raspberry Slice

I felt like eating something chocolatey today, and I wanted to make something new, so I tried this recipe, which is from the AWW. I halved all the ingredients because the original recipe was for selling at a fete or cake stall, and I wanted this just to be a little treat.

I really like chocolate recipes that use cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate. I find them less rich, cheaper to make, and you don't have to melt cocoa to use it. The biggest reason I prefer it though, is this: cocoa powder can sit in the cupboard for weeks and months for the moment when you need to make a chocolate cake, slice etc, and I don't think anyone's ever tempted to eat it - which can't be said for chocolate bars.

To make this slice, sift flour and cocoa into a bowl, stir in sugar and coconut, then mix in egg and melted butter until it's all well combined.

Press half the mixture in a lined 20 x 20 cm baking tray, using the back of a spoon and your hands. Cover with a layer of raspberry jam.

Cover this with the remaining mixture and spread over evenly. I could see this wasn't going to be very easy, so I crumbled the mixture evenly over the top and then gently pressed it all down with my fingers.

Cook at 170 C for about 40 minutes until firm.

While slice is still hot, make the icing by sifting icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl, then stirring in melted butter and a tbsp of hot water until you have a spreadable consistency. Add a few more drops of water if necessary.

Spread over the slice. I found there was only just enough to cover the whole thing, so doubling the icing recipe would make it easier to get a smoother topping. But I thought the finished slice had a good amount of icing, and it didn't seem skimpy.

Leave to cool in the pan, then cut into squares.

I had trouble taking a photo of these slices, as little hands wanted to reach in and take one. They were very popular with everyone (I especially like the crunchier corner slices) and they taste a little like Cherry Ripe bars in that they're a combination of chocolate, coconut and 'fruit'.

I know I'm going to be asked to make these again.

150 g plain flour
25 g cocoa powder
180 g caster sugar
60 g desiccated coconut
1 egg
100 g butter, melted
85 g raspberry jam (I used about 4 heaped tsp)
Choc Icing:
80 g icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
5 g butter, melted
1 tbsp boiling water, approx

(the above ingredients are for a 20 x 20 cm pan)

Friday, 1 January 2010


I didn't do any real cooking yesterday, but I did mix a lot of concrete. As I was standing there at the mixer I was thinking how in a way it is quite similar to mixing up a cake.

So in case, like me, you happen to have a cement mixer hanging around and you feel like doing a bit of building one day, here's how you make concrete!

Three buckets of gravel,

two buckets of sand,

(the sand can also act as a great babysitter)

and one bucket of cement.

Note the colour-coded buckets. I think you can tell a girl was involved in this building job!

Mix it all up in the cement mixer while adding just enough water to make a sloppy but not runny mixture. Keep making loads of it, starting a new lot every time a load is taken away in a wheelbarrow, and keep going until you're told to stop by the Man In Charge.

This is where all the concrete was going (actually it's called grout because it's runnier than concrete and is used for filling the concrete blocks).

These are part of the footings for the veranda for the back of our house. Hopefully one day soon we'll be all sitting out there sipping drinks and eating something tasty I've made.

I won't put a picture of the rest of our garden, but I think maybe you can imagine what it might be like!

Which is why last night we ate our dinner (fish nuggets and potato wedges from the freezer because it's all I could manage between loads of grout) in the front garden.

Happy New Year everyone!