Author Archives: baking bohemian

About baking bohemian

My name is Jen and I am the baking bohemian. My blog identity comes from the cultural background of my mother’s family, (Bohemian), and my mother’s more left wing lifestyle (bohemian). The big ‘B’ Bohemian refers to the rich cultural heritage of our family that emigrated from Bohemia when it was still its own country (it now comprises two thirds of the Czech Republic). Food featured prominently in the family and broader social life of that part of my family. No social interaction was without sustenance, and any celebration, large or small, was an invitation to cook up a storm. My own family emigrated from the United States to Australia when I was a child. For the most part we lived with our mother, and my dad eventually moved back to the US. The little ‘b’ bohemian relates to the semi-alternative lifestyle we led with our mother. I hesitate to refer to her as a hippy, for that conjures up so many misconceptions, but certainly she was on that side of the fence. She was probably more eccentric than radical at the end of the day, but she could really cook. We always set extra plates at the dinner table because inevitably people would visit at dinner time. I started cooking when I was about eight. Cookies. Obviously I was motivated by desire! I loved cooking, I loved that the kitchen was always, in every way, the heart of the house, so I was always part of anything else that was happening while I was cooking. I loved people loving my food. With all the different things that I have done in my life and am interested in, food has remained my most consistent and enduring passion.

Blueberry Upside Down Cake

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  • Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

As we all know, blueberries are a super food.  I take this to mean that this is a health food cake!

• 1/3 c brown sugar
• 300 g blueberries, plus extra to serve
• 1 ¾ c plain flour
• 1 c caster sugar
• 2 ½ t baking powder
• ½ t cinnamon
• 1 egg
• ¾ c milk
• 1/3 c vegetable oil
• Finely grated rind of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 180 C. Line a 20cm round cake pan with baking paper. Sprinkle base of cake pan with brown sugar and then spread 150 g of blueberries evenly over the sugar.

Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. Add remaining blueberries and mix to coat.

Whisk together egg, milk, oil and lemon rind. Add to dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Stand for 5 minutes before turning out onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with extra blueberries and thickened cream.

Basic White Bread

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Basic White Bread
I have always enjoyed making (and eating!) bread, but my repertoire has been fairly limited. Lately I have been experimenting with all sorts of recipes. I have had some great successes and have had some impressive failures. The thing about bread making is that if your dough is too tough you can end up with a rock. It can also be very hard to work out what exactly goes wrong with a dud bread. You try a recipe that clearly works for someone else, but you just can’t make it do the right thing for you. It can be very frustrating!

So when you find a good simple reliable recipe that works for you, hang onto it!!

This recipe is a great starting point. I have made it many many times and it always works. It makes a medium density white loaf with beautifully crunchy crusts.

Recipe

• 2 T polenta
• 800 g bread flour
• 15 g instant yeast
• 2 t salt
• 2 T sugar
• 600 ml warm water

Preheat oven to 50C for rising the dough. Lightly oil 2 loaf pans, and dust each with 1 T polenta.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Pour in water and mix to a stiff dough. Place into a large oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Place in the oven for 15 minutes.

Lightly knead dough until it feels smooth and slightly elastic. This dough can be kneaded gently, pushing down with the heel of your palm and then folding the dough back onto itself. You want this dough to remain light and soft, so it doesn’t need too much pummelling and prodding.

Place each loaf into a pan and dust with flour. Using a sharp knife cut 3 slashes into each loaf. Place back in oven, uncovered, to rise for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and turn oven temperature up to 200C, returning the pans to the oven when the correct temperature has been reached. Bake until loaf tops are golden and they sound hollow when you tap them.

Apricot Coconut Choc Chip Cookies

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Apricot Coconut ChocChip Cookies

 

I make a lot of cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. They fit the bill from everything from lunch box sweet treats and school cake stalls to going away parties for soccer coaches! So I need to have a lot of recipes up my sleeve to keep things interesting.

I have a very large cookbook and foodie magazine collection to keep me inspired, and often I turn to my oldest books for tried and true recipt ideas. the trusty Country Women’s Association for simple, reliable and straightforward recipes.
This recipe isn’t actually old, but since it has come from the Country Womens’ Association it might as well be.  Recipe adapted from “Biscuits and Slices : Traditional, Tempting, Tried and True”, Penguin Books, 2009.

Recipe

• 125 g softened butter
• 1/3 c caster sugar
• ½ c brown sugar, firmly packed
• 1 egg
• 1 c self raising flour, sifted
• 1 c shredded coconut
• 1 c dried apricots, chopped
• 1 c dark chocolate bits

Preheat oven to 180C. Line 2 large baking sheets with baking paper.
Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Stir in flour until well mixed. Add coconut apricots and chocolate bits and mix well. If your dough feels a bit soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking.
Mould teaspoons of dough into balls and flatten slightly on trays, leaving about 5 cm between them to allow for spreading.
Bake for about 12 minutes or until beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and leave on trays for 5 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 30.

Coconut Layer Cake

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I don’t make cakes very often.  I like making them, but I know how quickly they will be gobbled up in our house.  So when someone asks me to bring dessert to an event it’s an invitation to bake!

This cake is so easy to make, and is moist and light.

Recipe

  • 2 c self raising flour, sifted
  • ¾ c desiccated coconut
  • 1 c caster sugar
  • 1/3 c almond meal
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 160 g melted butter
  • Desiccated and flaked coconut for decorating

Preheat oven to 175C.  Line a 21 cm spring form cake pan with baking paper.

Combine flour, coconut, sugar and almond meal in a large bowl and mix together.

Whisk buttermilk, vanilla and eggs together.  Add butter and whisk again.

Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and mix with a metal spoon until well combined and smooth.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes or until skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Leave to cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing. Cool completely before icing.

Icing

  • 2 c pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 90 g butter at room temperature
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 T milk

Beat all ingredients together until smooth, light and fluffy.  Add milk to adjust to the desired texture.

Using a large serrated knife, cut the cake in half horizontally.  Carefully lift the top of the cake off and place on a flat surface. Spread ¾ c icing evenly over the base of the cake. Carefully place the top of the cake over it.  Spread remaining over the top and sides of the cake.  Decorate with desiccated and flaked coconut.

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Spice Roasted Pumpkin

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Spice Roasted Pumpkin

Pumpkins are great vegetables.  You can use them in soups, salads, sweets and more, and they are nutritious and filling.

This recipe is so simple and easy but creates dish so full of flavour that it will be the star of the meal.

Recipe

  • ½ Kent pumpkin (organic if possible)
  • 4 T toasted pepitas
  • 4 T macadamia or avocado oil
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • ¼ t cumin
  • Sea salt
  • 2/3 c Greek yoghurt
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh coriander

Preheat oven to 200C. Brush large oven tray with 2 T of oil.

Deseed pumpkin and cut in 1.5 cm wedges. Place in single layer on tray.

In a mortar and pestle lightly crush the toasted pepitas. Add remaining oil, cinnamon and cumin. Spread spice mixture evenly over the pumpkin pieces.  Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for around 30 minutes or until soft.

Mix yogurt, lemon and coriander together.  Drizzle over the pumpkin immediately before serving.

For a vegan option you can omit the yoghurt, just sprinkle the coriander and lemon over the pumpkin when you serve.  Still delicious!

This recipe was inspired by one in Better Homes and Gardens, July 2013.

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

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My second blog post of the week is to say thank you for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award nomination.

So exciting!

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My thanks to Carla Sue at eat sweet for the nomination.  Carla Sue makes the most dangerously scrumptious sweet treats.

Because lemon is my current hot ingredient,  I have Carla Sue’s  Lemon Poppyseed Muffins at the top of my list to bake…

lemon-poppyseed-muffins     CarlaSue_white-chocolate-and-raspberry-cheesecakes

…followed immediately by her White Chocolate and Raspberry Mini Cheesecakes – because a good cheesecake is divine!

The best part of receiving a blog award is the opportunity it gives you to nominate your own list of bloggers to receive it!  Here is my list:

So congratulations all, and thanks for the entertainment and inspiration in your blogs!

Rules for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award (if you choose to accept)
1. Provide a link and thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Nominate 10-12 blogs that you find a joy to read
3. Provide links to these nominated blogs and kindly let the recipients know that they have been nominated
4. Include the award logo within your blog post for the award

The Liebster Award

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Sometimes I think of my blog as one of my pets.  I spend lots of time with it, play with it, offer a range of food options, and generally do my best to look after it. And unlike my furry bewhiskered pets, my blog never leaves stinky surprises lying around waiting for unsuspecting visitors to tread in them!

So I am quite fond of my online pet, and like any proud pet owner I am always thrilled when it gets an award!

Last weekend I was doubly thrilled and excited to receive 2 award nominations: the Liebster Award and the Sisterhood of the World Award.

Liebster

It was the lovely Judit from When Judit bakes… bread and better… and bakes some more who nominated me for the Liebster Award.  Judit is fabulous. She bakes wonderful breads (one of my current baking obsessions) and all sorts of delectable baked treats.   Two of Judit’s recipes on my must bake list are the Harvest Medley Cupcakes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Judit sourcream buns

and her Sour Cream Sandwich buns. So thank you Judit for a blog with a difference and with mouth-watering recipes (and the lovely nomination)!!

An award comes with questions to answer.  I grew up in the US and Australia, and I have never known what I wanted to be (still don’t).  Favourite flavours come and go, at the moment it’s lemon.  Favourite colour is equally variable, but blue always features. It’s so long ago since my first baking experience that all I remember is that it was cookies.  Hazarding a guess they would have been chocolate chip. The taste of the perfect cake?  Chocolate, vanilla, nut, syrupy fruit, coconut… the taste choices are endless and not to be judged.  Flavour is to be definite, texture is key.

Dreams? So many, some realistic some just fantasy, but always there. Fairy tales are about wanting everything to be perfect and to have a happy ending.

I love trees. Trees are proof of the perfection of nature. They are beautiful, majestic and grand.  There are trees for anywhere and everywhere, for every taste and every style.  The perfect rainforest has smooth barked trees up to the sky, kangaroos, wombats, birds everywhere and no leeches. I fear the disappearance of trees and rain forests. And bugs… definitely fear bugs.

So who can I share this award with?

And here are some things I would like to learn about you!

  • Why blog?
  • Where does your inspiration come from?
  • Where did you grow up?
  • Where would you love to visit?
  • Mountain, ocean or lake
  • Favourite childhood meal
  • Favourite food to cook
  • Most must have ingredient/s
  • Favourite kitchen tool
  • Best way to unwind and relax
  • Importance of facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to your blog

Next post, Sisterhood of the World Award…

Brown Sugar Pecan Muffins

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Brown Sugar Pecan Muffins

My grandparents lived for a time in San Antonio, Texas.  It was a place that they loved, and the friendships they made lasted forever. For many years, until my Grandfather’s passing, they made an annual trip back to visit their friends and to play golf.

My Grandmother would always bring back 2 or 3 enormous jars (they were SO big I’ve always wondered where she got them) of freshly picked pecans.  They were her favourite nut to bake with and she had a stack of recipes for them.

Her muffin recipe here dates back to the 1960s.

Usually I believe that muffins are best fresh out of the oven, but I think these muffins are best the next day.  They are moist and chewy, and the nutty flavours enhance once cooled.

Recipe

  • 1 c pecans
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • ½ c macadamia or canola oil
  • 1 lg egg
  • 1 T maple syrup

Topping

  • ¾ c dark brown sugar, packed
  • 4 ½ T butter, melted
  • ½ c crushed pecans

Grind pecans into fine crumbs (my Grandmother had the coolest hand-grinder that screwed onto a jar – I wish I could buy one) and set aside. You need to grind enough for the muffin batter and the topping.

Make the topping by mixing all ingredients together and set aside until needed.

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 1 hold muffin pan with paper baking cups.

Sift dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, oil, egg and syrup in a small bowl. Add egg mixture to dry indgredients and mix until just combined.

Divide batter evenly into the prepared cups.  Sprinkle topping over the batter.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Chocolate Shortbread Stars

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Chocolate Shortbread Stars

I often bypass cookie recipes that involve kneading the dough. I always think of them as a hassle, although the truth is, kneading the dough is not a lot of work, and is actually kind of fun.

These cookies have a very rich chocolate flavour, a good crunch and they melt in your mouth.  They are adapted from an Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook (always reliable) called “Bake”.  Another one of my ‘go to’ books for kids treats and quick desserts.

Recipe

  •  250 g butter, softened
  • 1 c pure icing sugar
  • 1 ¼ c plain flour
  • ½ c rice flour
  • 1/3 c cocoa powder (my preference is the Woolworths Home Brand because it is very intense)
  • 125 g dark chocolate bits
  • 2 T icing sugar, extra
  • 1 T cocoa powder, extra

Beat butter and sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Add sifted flours and cocoa in 3 batches.  Knead on a floured surface until smooth.

Roll dough between sheets of baking paper to 3/4 cm thick.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 160C, and line two large baking sheets with baking paper.

Cut stars (makes about 30 x 6.5 cm stars) from dough. Place them about 4cm apart on oven trays. Decorate with chocolate bits.

Bake for 16-18 minutes.  Cool on trays.

Sift combined extra icing sugar and cocoa onto cookies before serving.

Raspberry Rose Cupcakes

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Raspberry Rose Cupcakes 3

These cupcakes are divine.  The combination of raspberry and rose with a sweet vanilla icing works deliciously well.  And they are SO easy.

Recipe

  • 125 g butter, softened
  • ¾ c caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/3 c self-raising flour
  • 1 c ground almonds
  • 1/3 c milk
  • ¾ c raspberries (fresh or frozen), plus extras for decorating
  • 1 t rosewater *

Preheat oven to 180C.  Line a 12 x medium sized cup muffin pan with paper cases.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in flour, ground almonds, milk, and rosewater. Then very gently fold in the raspberries.

Divide batter between cases. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Leave to cool in pan.

Icing

  • 175 g butter
  • 1 1/2 c icing sugar
  • 1/4 t rosewater
  • 1/2 t vanilla

Beat all ingredients together until light and fluffy.  Spread generously over cupcakes and top with raspberries.

Raspberry Rose Cupcakes 4