Archive of ‘Beginners guide’ category

How to make hot cross buns

A loaf of hot cross buns, two rippled off

Look what I did! Look look! So proud. Don’t worry, I’ve got step by step instructions for you too.

And yes, they do taste better than store bought. Promise.

Half a hot cross bun with butter

I did lots of research on this one. Combined three different recipes, checked what my favourite baker puts in his. Then, I made them again tweaking the things I thought could have been improved from the first batch. I’ve got your back on this one. AND, I’ve got a chocolate chip version I’ll put up in a few days. (more…)

How to burn stuff


Here is a perfect recipe for when you’re cooking for people you don’t like or just have a thing for carcinogenic food. In just 4 easy steps you too can ruin countless recipes.

Ingredients (necessary to have all the below within a 7 day period):

  • Start a new job
  • Return from an interstate holiday the day before starting said job
  • Purchase a second hand car
  • Commit to baking at least two batches of muffins and some muesli bars for a food swap
  • 1 broken timer
  • 1 faulty smoke alarm (though, to be fair, I’m quite glad the smoke alarm hasn’t being going off every second day)

Step 1: Upon returning from an interstate holiday (the day before starting a new job) commit to baking most evenings. Insist you are invincible and, most probably, Wonder Woman. Watch. Me. Go.

It helps it you can get cocky and start challenging yourself to mixing entire batches of muffins in the space of two songs. Which, for the record I totally can do. I didn’t say anything about the cooking process. (more…)

Olive and parmesan bread rolls

Homemade bread rolls, crunchy and steaming, full of flavoursome olives and parmesan – need I say more?

The same hot baker who taught me to make scones taught me to make bread. His attitude was great: bread is not tricky, and this whole thing of knead your dough for 15 minutes, stir it clockwise four times then blow on it until it rises is just not needed. Pffft.

Here’s how to make bread. Simple and good. I’m going to do a few bread posts soon, including sour dough. The first four steps for bread making are labelled below as most recipes use the same methodology, and future-Aimee will be referring back to this post.

Step one: Combine the flour, yeast, salt, parmesan, olives, garlic and optional sage/basil in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre and add the water.

Step two: Use a wooden spoon to combine ingredients and then your hands to bring the mixture together to a soft dough. Give it a good pounding until well combined.

It helps to think of something that makes you angry, like my new neighbour the DJ who won’t turn his music down no matter how nice I ask. *thump* *thump* *thump*

Step three: Make the dough into a ball and leave it in the bowl, spray with olive oil, or drizzle it with olive oil to ensure it doesn’t dry out and stick to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and stand in a warm, draught-free place for 45-50 minutes, or until the dough has risen and doubled in size. Watch the magic begin…

You can see the dough below is about double the one I’m pounding above.

Step four:  Lightly grease a baking tray with spray olive oil and sprinkle with flour. Turn dough out onto your lightly floured bench and use your fist to punch the dough down again.

If you were making a loaf you’d stop at this point and make it into a round loaf, oval loaf or put into a lightly floured and greased bread tin. But for the rest of us, let’s get ready to roll (as in bread roll, do you get it? ah, forget it, my talents are wasted).

Use your fingers to make it into a rectangle about 1.5cm thick. Fold into a roll, making sure the seam is at the bottom, and cut into eight portions, or just roughly make eight portions from your original rectangle.

Place onto the greased tray.

Brush each portion lightly with water, press optional sunflower seeds on top and leave in a warm, draught- free place for 45 minutes, or until the dough portions double in size.

preheat oven to 220°C.

See how they grow? The ones below are still not cooked, this is just them doubling.


Bake the rolls in preheated oven for 18 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through, and the base sounds hollow when tapped.

Get it while it’s hot!

Lovely with pumpkin soup. Nom Nom.

Thanks to my lovely friend Pam for her help with this. We drank champagne while I baked, she snapped and we chatted. It was lovely.

Also, while I have your attention, two important things:

Firstly, a big thank you to Just a Smidgen for passing on the Versatile Blogger award on to me. Made my day!

Secondly, Erin from the Spiffy Cookie is having a blogger bake sale at the moment to raise money for her friend Dave. Funds will help buy him a prosthetic leg after a recent motorcycle accident. You can bid on items, then they are mailed to you. It’s for American readers only though, as international shipping of baked goods was a bit of an unknown factor. Please go across and have a look.

Ingredients (makes eight bread rolls)
450 grams (3 cups) plain flour, sifted
1 x 7 gram sachet dried yeast (or 2 ¼ teaspoons)
1 teaspoon Salt
20 grams (1/4 cup) finely shredded Parmesan
40 grams (about eight) black olives, pitted, chopped (feel free to add more if you’re an olive fan)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
300mls lukewarm water
2 teaspoon of olive oil or spray oil
Water, for brushing

Optional:
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or basil
Pumpkin seeds, to top

Method

  1. Combine the flour, yeast, salt, parmesan, olives, garlic and optional sage/basil in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre and add the water.
  2. Use a wooden spoon to combine ingredients and then your hands to bring the mixture together to a soft dough. Give it a good pounding until well combined.
  3. Make the dough into a ball and leave it in the bowl and spray with olive oil, or drizzle it with olive oil to ensure it doesn’t dry out and stick to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and stand in a warm, draught-free place for 45-50 minutes, or until the dough has risen and doubled in size.
  4. Lightly grease a baking tray with spray olive oil and sprinkle with flour. Turn dough out onto your lightly floured bench and use your fist to punch the dough down.
  5. If you were making a loaf you’d stop at this point and make it into a round loaf, oval loaf or put into a lightly floured and greased bread tin.
  6. Use your fingers to make it into a rectangle about 1.5cm thick. Fold into a role, making sure the seam is at the bottom, and cut into eight portions, or just roughly make eight portions from your original rectangle.
  7. Place onto the greased tray.
  8. Brush each portion lightly with water, press optional sunflower seeds on top and leave in a warm, draught- free place for 45 minutes, or until the dough portions double in size.
  9. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 220°C.
  10. Bake the rolls in preheated oven for 18 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through, and the base sounds hollow when tapped.

Healthy? Depends if you’re one of those no-carby people. Whom I do not understand. These are 200 calories a roll.

Storage: They freeze well, otherwise best eaten within a couple of days. Store in airtight container.

Source: Modified from taste.com.


Banana and chocolate chip muffins (how to make muffin)

It’s time for a how-to post, meet my test subject, banana and chocolate chip muffins!

I’ve had a bit of feedback that ‘fold in all other ingredients’ isn’t that helpful if you haven’t been cooking much. So it’s time for a step-by-step guide. I’m going to use banana and chocolate chip muffins as the example because it’s a pretty normal recipe with the usual mix-dry-ingredients-add-wet-and-fold instructions.

Clever muffin, eh?

I think I take for granted cooking basics. I was lucky, in my house while I was a young’n’ cooking, I could always ask my mum for clarification.

10 year old me: Hey mum, the recipe says cream the butter and sugar together*, what does that mean?
Mum: Oh, no one actually does that darling. Just melt the butter and put it straight in.

Priceless motherly advice. Especially as her ‘it’ll be fine’ philosophy taught me not to be daunted by fancy-pants recipes. Not that I tend to make too many of them anyway.

*please note that although sometimes creaming butter and sugar is a grand old waste of time, for some recipes, like chocolate chip cookies, it makes them fluffier and is worth the effort. Just soften the butter on defrost in the microwave (but don’t let it melt!) and use electric beaters to beat the sugar and butter together until it’s pale in colour and fluffy, or work your arm muscles and do it yourself with a wooden spoon. Both will work.

This post will soon be followed by a basic muffin recipe you can adapt. But for now, let’s talk banana and chocolate chip.

Ingredients
Dry
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/3 cup caster sugar
Wet
60 grams butter, melted
2/3 cups mashed banana (about 2 medium/small bananas)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips (about 100 grams)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. In other words, turn the oven on when you start preparing your muffins.
  2. Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin – either spray the tin with oil spray, or rub paper towel in some margarine or butter and grease each muffin cup. If using patty pans, spray lightly with olive oil.
  3. Place flour and caster sugar (your dry ingredients) in a bowl and mix together. Form a bit of a well in the middle.
  4. In a medium bowl or jug, mix up all your wet ingredients. If there is butter, melt it. Hold off on the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into the well you have just formed.

Add wet to dry

Then add your chocolate chips, make sure you eat a couple to check they’re OK.

Then, using a large wooden spoon, in a single action, run the spoon around the side, then along the base of the bowl. Now fold the mixture over onto itself.

Start at the side, run along the base, and over the top.

The point of this is to combine the ingredients without knocking the air out of it. Air keeps it fluffy. Fold until the ingredients are JUST combined. It’s OK if there is still a bit of flour not mixed through. Muffins are supposed to be rough, and if you over mix, they get chewy and tough. Just give it a go, but if you want further instructions, then you can always watch an American girl called Casey on You Tube stirring some egg whites into a chocolatey thingy to get the technique down.

…just a little flour left showing, so two more folds ’till done.

Spoon your mixture in to your prepared muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes, turning the tin around half way through the cooking time so they cook evenly. I should add here that this recipe makes about 12 small muffins, or 10 better sized ones.

Muffins are done when either one, or all of these things apply:
1. you give it a poke with your finger and it bounces back instead of indents
2. it is golden on top
3. you stick a skewer or sharp knife in it and it comes back clean. By clean, it means no raw looking dough. A bit of melted chocolate chip doesn’t apply.

As a general rule, if you think muffins are done, give them another 2-5 minutes. Anywhere before burning point is OK in my books. Note that with biscuits, the opposite applies, if you think they need two more minutes, pull them out there and then. Over cooked biscuits are only good for lobbying at siblings, whereas soft chewy biscuits are an art form.

Using tongs, remove the muffins from your pan and move to a rack to cool. This is important otherwise the muffins steam themselves in their little cups and go soggy. If you haven’t used patty pans and they’re a bit stuck, try giving the muffins a gentle twist, then use a knife to leverage one side out before grabbing it with your tongs.

Allow muffins to cool completely before putting in an airtight container, or yet again, they’ll steam themselves straight to soggy-ville.

Eat them!

These muffins are especially fun served sliced, with banana and whipped cream inside. Faaancy.

Healthy? 185 calories if you make 12

Gluten free: I’ve used GF flour and these work well, though slightly crumbly. Could do with an extra egg white if converting.

Storage: In an airtight container, or freeze well.