Caramel Slice

I love caramel slice but am constantly disappointed by the thick-bottomed, chalky and bland mass-produced stuff you buy at many cafes around the place. Instead, when I can be bothered, I make my own… and it’s amazing (if I do say so myself). The recipe originally came from my Mum’s high school cookbook and I am eternally grateful to the Annesley College Mothers’ Club for sharing it. It is very simple to make, using very few ingredients, and is perfect for occasions when you’re asked to ‘bring a plate’. The hardest part is not eating it all in one sitting (which is why I often make a double batch).

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Ingredients
Base:
185g plain flour
125g butter, softened
60g sugar

Caramel layer:
125g butter, chopped
125g sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
½ tin condensed milk

Topping:
150g dark cooking chocolate

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Method
To make the base, grease and line a swiss roll tin (or lamington tin – whatever you have, it will just alter the thickness of each layer) and preheat the oven to 180°C (or 160°C fan-forced). Rub butter into flour, add sugar and press evenly into the prepared tin. Bake for 20mins or until golden brown.

To make the caramel, put the butter, sugar, golden syrup and condensed milk into a heavy-based saucepan and boil for 5 minutes, stirring all the time (pay particular attention and scrape the bottom of the pan, otherwise it will burn).

Pour over the base. Leave to cool for about an hour.

Finally, to make the topping, melt the chocolate in the microwave or on the stovetop. Pour over the caramel.

Once set, cut into even squares using a knife dipped in hot water between each slice (so it cuts easily and leaves the layers intact).

Enjoy!

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Adapted from ‘Caramel Slice’ in the Annesley College Mothers’ Club Cookbook

Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

When my sister and I were younger we loved nothing more than “sticky tape pudding” on a cold winter’s night. Not much has changed, but (to our great relief) we now know that the secret ingredient to our favourite pudding is not sticky tape. This dessert is perfect served warm out of the oven, swimming in a pool of butterscotch sauce, with a good helping of vanilla ice-cream.

P.S. This butterscotch sauce is liquid gold. I sometimes make it just to go on ice-cream for the ultimate sundae & it never lasts long in our household!

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Ingredients (serves 6-8)
Pudding
1 ½ cups chopped dates
1 cup water
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
60g butter
¾ cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup self raising flour, sifted

Butterscotch Sauce
125g butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup golden syrup
300ml thickened cream

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Method
Grease and line a 20cm round cake pan with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180°C (160 fan-forced).

Combine dates and water in a small saucepan, bring to boil, remove from heat & then add bicarb soda and stand for 5 mins.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time; combine well. Fold in flour alternately with date mixture into the egg mix and gently stir until combined.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. Cool in pan.

Make sauce by heating butter in small saucepan, adding the sugar and syrup (handy hint: spray your ¼ cup with a bit of cooking oil before adding the golden syrup and it will come out much more easily!) and stirring over the heat (without boiling) until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat & stir in cream.

Pour ¼ cup of sauce over the pudding and return to the oven for a further 5 mins (with foil over the top so it doesn’t darken too much).

Cut into desired size pieces and serve with lots of sauce and vanilla ice-cream.

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Recipe from Mum (originally adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly)

Simple Sugar Cookies

Happy 1st birthday Bakerholics Anonymous! To celebrate this milestone I thought I would share a recipe that I have only recently discovered but used frequently – with delicious results. These sugar cookies are perfect for any occasion as you can use any shaped cutters you like (my most recent batch were heart shaped for Valentine’s day but I have made a number of different varieties: stars and angels for Christmas, & even some Emperor’s New Groove themed ones!) The real beauty of these cookies is their versatility; they can be flavoured (via the cookie dough – think cocoa or cinnamon, or the icing), be very plain for fussy eaters by omitting the icing, and can be as thick or thin as you desire – just be sure to adjust oven times accordingly.

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Image                                   Emperor Kuzco Cookie from ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’

Ingredients
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
1 teaspoon water
3 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

Icing
2 cups icing sugar
15g (1 tablespoon) or so of melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla (or flavouring of choice)
Food colouring of your choice (I used Wilton Red food gel)Image
Method
Cream butter, sugar & vanilla using electric beaters until well combined.

Add the egg and water and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Divide into 2 roughly equal pieces, cover with glad wrap (or plastic wrap) and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat oven to 190°C. Roll out dough using a rolling pin until you reach your desired thickness (anywhere between 5mm & 1cm is good) and cut out shapes using cookie cutters (or freehand with a knife if you’re skilful!)

Place onto a baking tray (they don’t have to be spread out much as they don’t really expand) and bake for 5-8minutes.

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Once cool, ice with icing and decorate as desired.

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Adapted from ‘Alice & Lois.com’ – ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’

Gingerbread House

Every Christmas I construct a gingerbread house for the holiday season. They look so cute, taste delicious, can be decorated however you like and everyone is always so impressed when they find out you made it from scratch. The baking itself is very simple with this recipe, but the construction work is a little more difficult so I would definitely advise that you have an extra pair of hands to help stabilise it during the early stages.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

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Ingredients
Gingerbread :
90g butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup honey
2 tspns finely grated lemon rind
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5 cups flour
1 cup self raising flour
1 tspn bicarb soda
2 tspns ground ginger
1 ½ tspns ground cinnamon
1 tspn ground  cloves
½ tspn ground nutmeg
1 tspn mixed spice
Assorted lollies (to decorate)

Royal Icing
2 egg whites
4 cups icing sugar (powdered sugar)
½ tspn lemon juice

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Method
Combine butter, sugar & honey in a medium pan; stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Cool for 10mins. Transfer mixture to large bowl; stir in rind, eggs & sifted dry ingredients. Turn dough onto floured surface, knead gently until no longer sticky & refrigerate, covered for 1 hour.

Cut paper patterns for gingerbread house: one rectangle 20cm by 15cm for the roof panels, a rectangle 15cm by 10cm for the 2 sides & one rectangle 16cm wide by 19cm high for the front/back. Then from this final rectangle, mark 10cm high & draw a line across. Then rule from the middle of the top of the rectangle, down to edges of the 10cm rectangle part (these diagonal lines should be approximately 12cm long). Cut out shapes.

Preheat oven to 160°C fan-forced. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface until 1cm thick. Cut out shapes carefully around the patterns, using a serrated knife. Place shapes on lined baking trays and bake for 15mins or until firm & golden brown. Stand gingerbread on trays for 5mins and then transfer onto wire racks to cool completely.

To make the royal icing, beat egg whites in a small bowl with electric mixer until just frothy; gradually beat in enough sifted icing sugar for mixture to form very stiff peaks then stir in lemon juice. Keep the surface of the icing covered with a damp tea-towel to prevent it from drying out.

Using a cake board as the base and a helper to hold the pieces in place, pipe a thick line of icing on the bottom of the two side pieces and the front/back pieces. Hold in place until icing has hardened and it stands without assistance. Pipe icing between sides and front/back pieces both inside and out to strengthen. Leave for 10-15mins.

Pipe icing onto the tops of the sides and front/back pieces. Hold on roof pieces and pipe between them (hold them in place for at least 10mins). Add more icing around the edges of the roof panels to look like snow/icicles and decorate as desired.

Enjoy!

ImageBased on the ‘Gingerbread House’ recipe in Australian Women’s Weekly ‘The Christmas Book’

Giant Chocolate Cupcake

I love giant cupcakes. They’re so much fun to make, decorate and, more importantly, to eat. This recipe is for quite an intricate giant cupcake but it is easily adaptable – if you don’t want the bother of working with fondant you can just double the buttercream and ice the cake with that. The cupcake case is also optional (but I think makes the end product look so much more professional). Of course, you could also make the cake batter from scratch but do keep in mind that it is quite a time-consuming process already and the box mixes are relatively stable and so good for cutting and shaping.

The cupcake easily serves 10 adults and would be perfect for a kid’s party serving up to 20 children who have eaten other party food.

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Equipment
Silicone giant cupcake kit
Turntable
Serving plate
Pastry brush

Ingredients
Wilton candy melts
2 boxes chocolate mud cake mix

400g sifted icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
2 tspns vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter

White fondant icing
Blue food colouring
Red food colouring
Yellow food colouring
Large sprinkles (pre-made using fondant)
1 red gumboil

Method
Make cupcake case by pouring a small amount of melted melts into the silicone bottom case and, using a pastry brush, spreading it until the entire inside of the case is thinly coated. Refrigerate for 20mins and repeat. To remove from silicone once completely set, loosen by pulling  & pinching edges away from the chocolate & then gently peel down the sides of the mould.

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Make cake according to packet instructions and fill greased (spray oil) cases 2/3 full. Bake in moderate oven (175°C) for 40-70 mins (bottom will need longer than top) or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave in silicone moulds for at least half an hour or until cool. Then carefully peel off silicone, ensuring the cake is supported at all times.

Using a serrated bread knife, trim around bottom cake so all crunchy edges are removed. Level top (of base) and then cut base in half. Cut off bottom layer off top piece. Level base (of top).

Make buttercream by beating ingredients until light and fluffy.

Put a 1cm thick coating of buttercream between 2 bottom layers of cake and then between the base and top (ensure level – cut if necessary). Then put a thin layer of buttercream on the inside of the chocolate case and gently ease cake into it.

Cover top of cake liberally with buttercream to form a protective barrier against crumbs.

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Transfer cake onto a cake board on a turntable. Make a thin sausage out of white fondant (or a thick one for a really cartoon-ish soft serve effect) and put on cake in a spiral manner to achieve a ‘soft serve effect’ in the end.

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Roll out fondant until thin & large enough to cover top of cake and gently place on the cake. Gently massage fondant onto cake, hugging the curves & taking particular care not to pleat the fondant. Cut off excess if necessary and tuck the bottom up so all buttercream is concealed. Decorate with giant “sprinkles” made from red, yellow & blue fondant icing and place the gumball as a cherry on top.

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Rainbow Layer Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

As I’m sure you all know by now, rainbow cakes are in. To surprise my family at my 19th Birthday party, I decided to make one and keep it top secret. While it was time-consuming and challenging and, I admit, I had a few diva moments where I wanted nothing more than to throw the darn cake out the window, it was definitely worth it for the squeals of surprise and delight and the warm fuzzy feeling it gave me. I had, ambitiously, pictured it covered with perfect snow white roses. But it wasn’t to be when my rather overpriced Wilton star tip exploded and I was left with a huge mess and a 2-minute noodle effect. Still I persevered, and when topped with some flowers it didn’t look too bad. I have attempted to make this recipe idiot-proof (if I can do it, you can!) and so have used a packet cake base and converted all measurements. Good luck, this cake isn’t for the faint of heart!

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Ingredients (serves 12-16)
Rainbow Cakes
2 boxes Betty Crocker SuperMoist vanilla cake mix (cheating, I know!)
Milk (as directed on the cake box x2)
Eggs (as directed on the cake box x2)
Red, yellow, green & blue edicol food dye powders

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
12 egg whites (split over 2 batches – 6 per batch)
480g caster sugar (split over 2 batches – 240g per batch)
600g unsalted butter (split over 2 batches – 300g per batch)
4 teaspoons vanilla extract (split over 2 batches – 2 tspns per batch)

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Method
1. Heat oven as directed on the Betty Crocker cake box. Spray three 20cm round cake pans with cooking oil spray.

2. In a large bowl, beat cake mix and other ingredients as directed by the cake box (I have stupidly thrown mine out and can’t remember exactly but I’m pretty sure there were eggs, unsalted butter and milk) *remember to double the quantities as you’re using 2 boxes worth* until well combined.1170685_10151734990259463_1454942815_n

3. Divide batter evenly among 6 bowls.

4. Using food dye and a small quantity of water, make a red, orange (using red & yellow), yellow, green, blue and purple (using red and blue) paste. Add one colour to each bowl and mix until all the dye is incorporated. It might take a few goes to ensure your colours are really vibrant, but it is definitely worth making sure they are for the finished product.

5. Refrigerate the green, blue and purple batters until ready to bake. Pour remaining 3 colours into the 3 prepared cake pans.

6. Bake for 18-20mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean and the cake has started to pull away from the edges of the pan. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans and gently place onto cooling racks to cool completely.

7. Wash and dry cake pans. Lightly spray with cooking oil and then pour in the remaining 3 batters and repeat the baking process.

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8. To make the first batch of buttercream, add egg whites and sugar to a large metal bowl and place over a pot of simmering water, whisking constantly but gently until the mixture reaches 70 degrees C or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

9. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip the eggwhites until the meringue is thick, glossy and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (NOT WARM).

10. Switch to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time until incorporated and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if it curdles, keep mixing and it will eventually come back together).

11. Add vanilla, continuing to beat on a low speed until well combined.

12. Trim rounded tops off cakes to level (if necessary). Place the purple layer on the plate you wish to serve the finished cake on. Spread with buttercream to within a quarter of an inch of the edge. Place blue cake on top and repeat. Then add green, yellow, orange and, finally, red.

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13. Spread a light coat of buttercream on the top and sides of the cake to seal in crumbs. Then place the entire cake into a freezer while you make the second batch of buttercream.

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14. Repeat steps 8-11.

15. Remove cake from freezer, prepare a piping bag with a Wilton star tip (I used 2D) and fill piping bag about 2/3 full with frosting.

16. To make buttercream roses, starting at the bottom of your cake, hold your piping bag perpendicular to the surface you are icing, starting the centre of your desired rose and with a small amount of pressure, pipe in clockwise spiral around your centre, about 1 1/2 rotations or until your rose is of the desired size.

17. Repeat for the whole bottom row and then start a new layer, with the centre of your roses between the two roses below. Continue until the cake is fully frosted. Alternatively, just spread the buttercream thickly over the cake and decorate as desired. Enjoy!

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Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe adapted from Dessert Design Life.