Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Butter Cookie

Butter Cookies
makes 2-3 dozen cookies

1 cup or 2 sticks butter
2 ¼ cup sugar
1 egg

3 ½ cups flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp flavor extract (optional, your choice)

Cream the butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl then add the egg and flavor extract, mixing well. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and salt together before adding in small portions to the butter mixture, combining well after each addition.

Divide the dough into portions, roll out each between 2 plastic sheets, till about 5mm thick. Place the rolled out sheets of cookie dough onto a baking tray to be chilled in the fridge, preferably overnight.

Before baking, preheat oven to 350F. Remove cookie dough sheets from the fridge and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Place cut shapes onto a cookie tray lined with silicone sheet or parchment paper, leaving about an inch between each cookie to allow for expansion. Re-roll the scraps of cookie dough into new sheets and chill it before repeating the whole process.

Bake for 8-15 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies, until the edges start turning brown. Cool the cookies completely before decorating with icing.

Royal Icing

500g icing sugar
3 tbs meringue powder
8-12 tbs water

Sift together the dry ingredients and mix with water. Add more if the consistency is too stiff in order to get a suitable piping consistency. Add more water to get a consistency for flooding the outlines. Use only food colour gel to get the shade desired.

I used a a #2 piping tip for the outlines and a #3 or #4 tip for flooding.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Rich Fruit Cake

Every year around September, I start raiding my family's liquor cabinet for long forgotten bottles of brandy that rarely get used. Then by October, I would have bought the dried fruit and taken out the 2 largest canning jars that I have.

I soak the dried fruit in brandy until this time of the year when I make multiple batches of fruit cake to give away to those whom I owe favours to. The recipe can be doubled to quickly make a big batch but the baking time still remains long so I usually set aside at least half a day for my production.

Rich Fruit Cake
makes 3 loaves (7.5 x 3.5 in) or 24 cupcakes

1 1/2 - 2 lbs of dried fruit
1/2 cup brandy

Soak the dried fruit in brandy for at least a couple of days before baking. Drain the fruit well before dredging with flour during baking. Set aside the brandy left behind, it should have thickened to a sauce.

1 cup or 2 sticks butter

2/3 cup sugar
2 tbs treacle or golden syrup
6 eggs, separated
1/4 cup grape juice
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tbs ground cinnamon

Preheat oven at 300F.
Cream the butter until pale before adding in the sugar and beating until fluffy. Add in the treacle or golden syrup and eggs yolks until well combined then the grape juice. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and cinnamon together, setting aside about 1 cup to dredge the drained dried fruit with. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture and mix well. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold in the dredged fruit then the egg whites. Scoop into cake tins or cupcake liners.

Bake for 90 minutes if making loaves or 40 minutes for cupcakes. Cover the tops with foil halfway through baking time to prevent over browning. Upon cooling, spoon the reserved brandy over the top of the cakes and let it soak in. Wrap and keep overnight before eating.

For a stronger brandy flavor, I sometimes fill a syringe (it helps to have doctor friends who are foodies) with brandy and pump more into the middle of the cake.

For the cupcake versions, I topped them with royal icing.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Apple & Cinnamon Cereal Muffin

Its not that I haven't been baking. I've been busy at work and working on perfecting my decorated sugar cookies which I'll hopefully post about before Christmas.

Anyway, this recipe came about because I had too many apples in the fridge. I also wanted to try a cereal topped muffin for a more interesting texture.

Apple & Cinnamon Cereal Muffin
makes 24 muffins

3 cups flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup or 1 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbs treacle or molasses
3-4 apples chopped

1 cup instant cereal
2 tbs sugar
1 tbs cinnamon

Preheat the oven at 350F. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Combine the milk and eggs in a smaller bowl and beat together. In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter then stir in the sugar and treacle until there are no more lumps. Add the egg mixture and the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together until just combined. Spoon into muffin liners.

Mix together all the ingredients for the topping and distribute a teaspoon or so over the top of each muffin before putting into the oven.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops of the muffins spring back when touched.

Verdict: Not the cakey texture I was going for but it was moist and the crispy and sugary cereal topping was a nice change from the norm.