Monday, 30 April 2012

The joys of baking... well not quite...

Some people, find baking joyful, therapeutic even... I just find it frustrating!!! (I'm more of an ad-libbing cook!!)

I wanted to thank my team for the past 2 years by putting on afternoon tea. What a perfect way to spend my ANZAC day... So my tips for baking:

1. Before serving to others, try the recipe first!!
2. Read the entire recipe and understand each step, rather than as you go (yes thats right, I mixed the wet and dry ingredients a little too early!)
3. Weigh and measure accurately. Baking is a science.

Lemon meringue cupcakes - thanks to BBC food

Ingredients (Serves 8)

For the cupcakes
  • 100g/3½oz butter, softened
  • 100g/3½oz sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out using a sharp knife
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 100g/3½oz self-raising flour
  • lemon, zest only
  • 75g/2¾oz ready-made lemon curd
For the meringue
  • 2 free-range egg whites
  • 100g/3½oz sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C
  2. Cupcakes - cream the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds together in a large mixing bowl until pale, fluffy and well combined. 
  3. Crack in the eggs, one at a time, and beat until both are fully incorporated into the mixture.
  4. Fold in the flour and lemon zest until well combined. 
  5. Place 12 paper or foil cupcake cases into the wells of a muffin tray, then spoon in the cupcake batter. Add a teaspoonful of lemon curd to the top of each cupcake.
  6. Bake the cupcakes in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until they are pale golden-brown and spring back when pressed lightly in the centre.
  7. Meringue - whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Gradually add the sugar, whisking continuously, until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed and the mixture is thick and glossy.
  8. When the cakes are cooked, turn off the oven and preheat the grill to its highest setting.
  9. Spoon the meringue over the cupcakes and tease it into spikes using a fork. Place the cupcakes under the hot grill for 2-3 minutes, or until the meringue is golden-brown.

       (Gluten free baking is always fraught with flatness... So i picked an easy recipe from

Ingredients (serves 8)

  •   Canola spray, to grease
  •   50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
  •   80ml (1/3 cup) hot water
  •   2 tsp instant coffee powder
  •   2 tsp boiling water
  •   1 x 100g pkt almond meal
  •   100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  •   3 eggs, separated
  •   Strawberries/Raspberries, washed, sliced, to serve
  •   Thickened cream (yes the full fat variety, because the skinny    
  •   just doesn't whip!)
  •   Icing sugar - to make it look pretty!


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush a round/square (whatever tickles your fancy) 22cm (base measurement) cake pan with canola spray to lightly grease. Line the base with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Combine the cocoa powder and hot water in a medium bowl.(Avoid mixing cocoa in tin and spraying all over your face, like I did!) Combine the instant coffee powder and boiling water in a cup. Add the coffee to the cocoa mixture and stir until combined.
  3. Add almond meal, sugar and egg yolks to cocoa mixture, and stir until well combined.
  4. IN A SEPARATE BOWL (yes don't get carried away like me and put in the same bowl)- Use an electric beater to whisk egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Use a metal spoon to fold a spoonful of egg whites into cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold in remaining egg whites until just combined.
  5. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Place cake pan in a roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach two-thirds of the way up the side of the cake pan. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven. Remove cake pan from water bath and set aside for 20 minutes to cool. Turn cake onto a wire rack and remove paper. Set aside for a further 20 minutes or until cooled to room temperature.
  6. Whip thickened cream until it thickens and the cream can hold the shape of the whisked cream, like a ripple. Add berries on top and dust with icing sugar to look pretty!

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