Monday, June 24, 2013

Earl Grey Tea and Chocolate Tart

I feel like I never really learnt to appreciate days off until I became a chef. Yes, it is always lovely to have a little rest and realax but a free days never really rated as a big deal for me. Being a little bit of a workaholic I even found it stressful at times having free days with nothing planned to do. Now though I cant wait for my 'two days of treats.' They really never do seem to be as relaxing as I plan for them to be, but I appreciate them so much more now. 

So this is what I do..... without fail I will always bake some sweets. It might be a cake or a tart, or cupcakes. Then I will have a friend over for dinner, or maybe six friends over for dinner and we will drink a lot of wine. I will always go out to breakfast at least once. Usually I will go to a local cafe where I know all the staff, other times one of my best friends will drive around and pick me up, so he and I can go try somewhere new. There will be a lot of coffee involved. As in multipal trips to cafes 'just for one more coffee' or I'll brew a large pot of coffee and drink it in bed while I read cooking magazines. I will talk to my parents. We may chat on the phone for half an hour to an hour, and I'll tell me mum about my dating life, a boy who I might like, a boy who I dont like, or no boy at all. She will offer simple solutions to simple problems such as "why dont you just call him?" And I will jokingly rage at her saying "I cant just call him! He will think I like him....even though I do. Things have changed mum! Things have changed. One doesn't just call someone." Then I will consider her advice.....and call the person. I will watch a movie in bed and not care that usually at this time of day I would have normally baked at least 20 cakes at work. 

Days of are really just bliss. I do adore them.

I made this recipe on a day off....Its incredibly good.

Earl Grey Tea and Chocolate Tart

For The Pastry:

  • 280g plain flour
  • 20g coco
  • 200g butter
  • 100g of icing sugar
  • 2 eggs
For The Filling:
  • 300g of dark chocolate
  • 350ml of cream
  • 100 ml of milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of loose leaf earl grey tea 
What to do:

1. First of all the pastry! Rub together the sugar butter and flower with your fingertips until it resembles almond meal or bread crumbs. This can be done by hand, with a paddle attachment of a kitchen aid or in a food processor. I like to use my fingers because its a good time to stop and think.
2. Add the eggs and mix to incorporate. What ever you do, dont overmix! The dough should be smooth, but you dont want to knead it too much or it will shrink when it is baked.
3. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and place in the fridge to rest for half an hour.
4. Once the dough has rested roll out on a floured bench and use to line a circle tart tin. Once the tin has been lined place it back in the fridge for another forty minutes to rest. 
5. Remove pastry from fridge and prick all over with a fork. Line the tin with some baking paper and add baking weights. Bake for 15 minutes at 180 and then remove the weights. Bake for a further 5 minutes and then remove from the oven.
6. To make the filling place the cream and tea in a pot and bring to a simmer. Take off the heat and leave the tea to infuse. 
7. Once the tea has infused for 15 minutes bring the cream back to the boil.
8. Strain the tea from the cream (and discard).
9. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate. Stir so that all the chocolate melts.
10. Add the milk and mix
11. Lightly beat eggs and then add to the mixture.
12. Pour the chocolate mix into the tart shell and bake at 140 for 20 to 30 minutes or until the edges are slightly firm looking but there is still a wobble in the middle of the tart. 
13. Allow to cool and then remove from the tin.  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

How To Make Home Made Bagels

I walked into the cool room at work yesterday and was greeted with the sight of a large box of quinces. They were all beautiful in their wonky looking glory, and wrapped in purple tissue paper.....Im not quite sure why? I was so excited seeing them there ready to be poached and made into a tart to go on our winter menu. Its such a wonderful feeling knowing that people are coming into a restaurant and eating deserts that I have been dreaming up. Its also lovely to just know that the box of quinces are there because I ordered them. 

I really have been falling a little bit in love with my job lately. Dont get me wrong it is NOT all sunshine and roses, but there are just some days where I am so happy to be baking treats for other people to delight in. 

Maybe its not just work that is making me so cheerful. Maybe its this wonderful feeling I have that something grand is about to happen. Im not sure what yet....but Im very certain. I think its the cold weather inspiring this idea. Everything just feels so charming and clean in the cold that you cant help but feel like there is something good just waiting to happen. 

One small lovely thing that happened this week was making bagels. I was surprised at how easy they are to make, and it feels like such a treat having freshly baked breads in the house. Like living in a bakery!

One of the girls doing work experience at my work gave me the recipe. I hope you enjoy it. Dont be intimidated by using yeast. Its really quite easy....just dont worry if it takes longer to rise in the cold weather. 

Home Made Bagels

300g plain flour
4g salt
15g sugar
3g dry yeast
160 to 170g water (warm)

What to do:

  • Mix all ingredients together to form a ball. The mix should be soft but not too sticky. I added a little extra water. Just make sure you have a nice elastic dough.
  • Knead dough for five minutes and then place in a bowl covered with a wet towel to rest for 20 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into four balls and cover with a damp towel to prove. They should grow about 30 percent. 
  • Next shape the dough into balls with holes in the middle. Leave in a warm place to prove for 20 minutes to an hour or until they have nearly doubled in size.
  • Bring 1.5 liters of water to the boil in a pot along with 1 tablespoon of honey.
  • Gently add one bagel to the water and cook for 30 second on each side. Remove from the water and repeat with the remaining bagels. 
  • Once all the bagels have been boiled place them on an oiled tray and bake in a preheated oven at 210 for 12 to 14 minutes.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Green Tea Cupcakes

Life has been so beautiful lately and filled with so many treats. Im really starting to get into this whole 'winter' thing. I remember my last two years here being so miserable and just wanting to crawl into bed for six months until it was over. This year however, Im delighted with it. There are so many lovely winter things to do, and I really do like the rainy weather. 

Lately I've been inspired to make some big warming braised meat dishes and there is nothing more lovely than sitting down to a hearty meal and a glass of red wine at night. I also just really enjoy going to the butcher to purchase the meat. In my life, I have never yet met a rude butcher. They are always so very charming and helpful and give wonderful cooking tips. I dont know if this is because all butchers are just good people or if it has something to do with being a young blond haired girl? Either way its always kind of lovely. 

The highlight of this week though was a little surprise tea (and by tea we mean champagne)party I threw for one of my oldest friends. It was her birthday a couple of weeks ago and everyone got so busy it just sort of slipped by. So I decided something must be done about it and invited all the ladies around for cakes and drinks. We had such a good time. It can be so nourishing just getting together with a group of your best friends and talking about whats going on in your life. I really had the best time making cupcakes for the party and styling the table. Everything from my favourite bottle of bubbly (from Paris!) to the pretty tea cakes felt like a special treat. Its such a blessing to have wonderful people to share treats with. 

I made quite a few different sweets for the occasion, but I'll share with you the one that everyone liked the best. 

Green Tea Cupcakes 
(This recipe is from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

You will need:
120 ml of milk
3 green teabags (I used jasmin because its my favourite)
100g plain flour
20g coco powder
140g caster sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp of baking powder
A pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
Half a tsp of vanilla essence

For the frosting:
250g icing sugar
80g unsalted butter
20g matcha powder (plus extra for decorating.) 
25ml of milk


1. Soak teabags in milk overnight or at least for three hours to infuse the milk with a green tea flavour. 
2. Combine all dry ingredients.
3. With a paddle attachment of a kitchen aid or with your finger tips add the butter and rub into the flour until the mix resembles sand and has no lumps of butter. 
4. Remove tea bags from the milk.
5. Whisk together egg and milk.
6. Slowly add the milk to the dry mix, and stir to combine. 
7. Half fill patty pans with the mix and bake at 170 for 20 to 25 minutes
8. Allow cupcakes to cool. 
9. To make the frosting cream together the butter along with the icing sugar and catch powder until it is creamy and soft.
10. Slowly add the milk and stir to combine.
11. Pipe or spread the frosting on top of the cooled cupcakes. 
12. Sprinkle with some extra matcha powder