Friday, July 29, 2011

cranberry and custard scones

To think I could have been indulging in these scones for years – six to be exact.  For that is how long the recipe has been languishing in my folder.  Unused.  Unloved.  Until now.

I’ve passed over this recipe many times.  Not because they didn’t look lovely – large scones oozing with custard and drizzled with icing – but because I thought they’d be time consuming.  Whipping up a batch of scones is one thing, but custard and icing too?  Sigh … if only I’d known.

Well now I can confirm that this recipe takes scones to a new high.  My first taste – and I couldn’t wait to taste them – was like biting into a cross between a Danish pastry and a scone.  Seriously scrumptious.  The vultures thought so too.  The scones vanished in seconds. 

As well as mistakenly waiting too long to attempt them, I also erred in the amount I made.  I halved the recipe figuring three of us would not eat twelve scones.  Wrong.  Three of us would have eaten twelve scones.  Hell, one of us may have eaten twelve scones!  I swear they were that good.  The look on B’s face said the same.  If there is one piece of sage advice I can give you – I implore you to make lots!

The recipe was published in City Mix magazine in 2005 and came from the then chef, Katrina Smith of Craven “A” café, 4 Saint Paul St, Auckland (I believe the café is still there, not sure if the chef is).  The café is near the University of Auckland and I imagine masses of grateful students have hungrily demolished these.  A warning to Katrina – if you ever see me, run!  I feel I am going to be overcome with gratitude for this treat and plant big kisses on your cheeks!

cranberry and custard scones

Makes 12 scones

a handful of dried cranberries
3 cups standard flour
3 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 pinch salt
200g butter, diced or grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups custard (make custard following packet directions)

Preheat oven to 220°C.

Place cranberries in a saucepan, add a little water and heat gently until cranberries are softened and water has evaporated.  Drain to remove excess water and leave to cool.

Make custard following packet directions (or use store-bought, chilled custard) and leave to cool (place in the fridge to cool down quickly if you are short of time). 

Mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl.  Rub in the butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add enough milk to form a soft, but not sticky, dough – use a palette knife to bring the mixture together.  Roll dough into a large rectangle and cut in half.  Brush both halves with the beaten egg.

Spread the custard over one half of the dough and sprinkle with the cranberries.  Place the other half of the dough on top.  Brush the top with beaten egg.  Cut into 12 pieces, place on a lined baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes.

When cooled slightly but still warm, drizzle the scones with the icing, or you can glaze with hot jam or dust with icing sugar.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

passionfruit cream biscuits

I was in two minds as to whether to start on these or not.  I don’t know where Saturday morning had gone but it was now afternoon and it felt like baking time was over.  I still had dinner to decide on, I wanted to read a book and I was thinking that they’d take more time than stated.  But I’m glad I did.  Perfect little biscuits and so easy to make. 

I don’t think I have ever made biscuits with a buttercream filling before – if I have, it was certainly a long time ago.  But I felt like something different and these looked so dainty.  The biscuits are sweet but not sickly sweet like packet varieties.  And I loved the passionfruit flavour and the crunch of the passionfruit seeds in the biscuit.

I used a slightly larger cookie cutter than specified and that made 18 biscuits and you know the size was fine – in fact it was hard to stop at eating just one!  

If you’re not going to eat all the biscuits straight away, fill the ones you need and put the buttercream in the fridge.  That will keep the biscuits from softening with the filling.  You will need to bring the filling to room temperature before you can pipe the rest.  The biscuits tasted good without the filling too.

I put one tray of biscuits in to bake while I cut the second lot of dough. That meant I didn’t have to worry about uneven baking or moving trays around. 

I impressed myself by piping the filling onto the biscuit base, none too professionally mind (just look at the photo if you don’t believe me!) – I definitely have a lot to learn as far as piping and icing skills are concerned but at least I gave it a go.

I’ll be making these again.  Now I can go sit by the fire with my book and indulge in a cookie or two with a cup of tea – and to hell with dinner!

passionfruit cream biscuits

125g (4oz) butter, softened
2 tsp finely grated lemon rind (peel)
1/3 cup (75g) caster (superfine) sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup or treacle
1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
2/3 cup (100g) plain (all-purpose) flour
¼ cup (60ml) passionfruit pulp

passionfruit cream
2 tbsp passionfruit pulp*
90g (3 ounces) butter, softened
1 cup (160g) icing (confectioners’) sugar

*I used store-bought passionfruit pulp.  If you use fresh passionfruit, you will need about six.

Beat butter, rind and sugar in an electric mixer bowl until light and fluffy.  Add golden syrup, beat until combined.  Stir in sifted dry ingredients and passionfruit pulp.

Turn dough onto floured surface, knead gently until smooth.  Cut dough in half; roll each portion between baking paper or plastic wrap to a thickness of 5mm (¼ inch).  Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.  Grease oven trays, line with baking paper.

Cut 25 x 4 cm (1½ inch) fluted rounds from each portion of dough; place about 2.5cm (1 inch) apart on trays.

Bake biscuits about 10 minutes.  Cool on trays.

While biscuits are cooling, make passionfruit cream.  Spoon passionfruit cream into a piping bag fitted with 5mm (¼ inch) fluted tube.  Pipe cream onto half the biscuits.  Serve dusted with a little extra sifted icing sugar.

passionfruit cream  Strain passionfruit pulp through a fine sieve into a small jug, discard seeds.  Beat butter and sugar in a small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in passionfruit juice.

Recipe from The Australian Women’s Weekly – afternoon tea

Saturday, July 2, 2011

fruity anzac biscuits

Call these fruity oat sultana cookies or what you will.  In New Zealand and Australia, a simpler version is known as an ANZAC biscuit.  Originating from the biscuits sent to ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) soldiers serving during the First World War, they were made to be hard and long lasting.  Over the years softer and chewier versions of this popular biscuit have appeared.  The ones I baked were definitely at the softer, chewier range of the spectrum, which I like. 

In this version, dried fruit and toasted sunflower seeds have been added giving a fruity taste and more varied texture.  I particularly liked the toasted sunflower seeds, with their nice snappy crunch.  I toasted the seeds by placing them in a small heavy cast-iron fry pan over a dry heat for a few minutes, shaking the pan for even toasting - but do watch carefully as they can burn quickly. 

I substituted cranberries, which I had, for dried figs, which I didn’t have.  I would have to try them with dried figs before I could confirm my preference, but I really liked the cranberries, both for taste and added colour.

Apparently they also freeze well.  Does the instruction thaw at room temperature before eating seem a bit obvious to you?

I will be making these again – lovely biscuits, little effort!

fruity anzac biscuits
Adapted from recipe by Dean Brettschneider (A Treasury of New Zealand Baking)

140g butter
60g golden syrup
80g rolled oats
70g sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
50g sultanas
60g cranberries
75g dried apricots, chopped
65g desiccated or thread coconut
125g standard flour
90g brown sugar
5g baking soda
2 tbsp boiling water

Preheat oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.

Melt butter and golden syrup together in a saucepan.

Place all remaining ingredients, except the baking soda and the boiling water, in a large mixing bowl.  Stir well to combine.

Place the baking soda in a small heatproof jug and pour the boiling water over it, stirring well to dissolve.  Add to the butter and golden syrup mixture, then pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Place large tablespoonfuls of the dough on to the trays.  Flatten each to a circle of about 6cm, leaving at least 2cm between each one.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the biscuits have risen, spread slightly and turned golden brown.  Rotate trays halfway through cooking.  Remove from the oven and allow the biscuits to cool slightly before placing them on a wire rack.

Makes about 18 biscuits.