Kitchen Therapy


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2012 – Resolutions and Peach Jelly and Vanilla Panna Cotta

I am a sucker for New Beginnings.
A Fresh Start.
Hope and Possibilities.

To me, a New Year is like buying a new Journal.
The pages are crisp, clean and waiting to be written on.
I get butterflies in my stomach in anticipation.

I love setting New Year Resolutions.
(I forget most of them by mid January).
But my goodness I love setting them!

So with New Year’s Eve approaching, I was not going to let my favourite time of year slip by me in a blur of busy-ness!

I have been wanting to do the Bondi to Bronte walk for a few weeks now.
So I convinced my husband and kids a 7 km, cliff walk, was exactly what we all needed!
The cliffs, the ocean, the crashing waves, it all feels so… cleansing!
But at the same time it’s Bondi beach.
It’s fun and exciting and a place where anything can happen!

So as we walked from Bondi beach…

Past the Bondi Icebergs…

And made our way to Bronte…

Where we stopped and had lunch…

I FELT the frustrations, the regrets and the limitations I had wittingly and unwittingly imposed on myself and exposed myself to.
The hurts, humiliations and embarrassments.
The worries that kept me up at night.
The people that let me down (again and again) as I turned a blind eye.
And those that were always there and I shamefully took for granted.
I didn’t run away.
I wanted to!
But that’s not what today was about!
Today was about new beginnings and making resolutions.
And I couldn’t get to the fun part until I worked through the messy bits.

On the walk back I thought of all the good stuff of 2011.
The achievements, successes, joy and love.
I tried to pinpoint what I was doing around the times that I felt at my best.

I also starting to think about a story I read by an author (no idea who it was). They said one year they set themselves one resolution. To not tell a lie. Sounds simple! But this one little resolution led to the dissolving of friendships and relationships and incredible turmoil. In hindsight, they said they could see it was a necessary step to finding what they’re about in this life.

So rather than making my usual list of resolutions, I too have only picked one resolution for 2012.

To be PRESENT.

Science has now confirmed that our mind can change the brain’s circuitry and change the connections our brains make. We filter input in our own unique way based on the life experiences we have had. As a result we can get into a rut, making the same choices again and again.
Choices that are familiar and comfortable but not necessarily good for us.

Being present means we remain open to ourselves and others.
It means, when stuff comes up for us, we don’t react in our usual ways.
It means sitting with unpleasant feelings, like uncertainty and vulnerability, without reacting.
And when the need to run, fight, please, or plead subsides, we have clarity.
We are open to the present moment without judgement.
We are open to all the possibilities of life.

And what could be more exciting than that?

A clean slate to write on for 2012.

We came home and made this Peach Jelly and Vanilla Panna Cotta.

I saw this dessert in Issue 6 of the Donna Hay Magazine a few years back.
It looked so festive and elegant I couldn’t resist it.
I have been making it every year since.
It’s become tradition.
We all look forward to it.
As the panna cotta sits on the stove cooling, we stand around, chatting and dipping our spoons into the silky smooth mixture.
We all look forward to it.
For our family this dessert signals the holiday season is here.

PEACH JELLY AND VANILLA PANNA COTTA
(pretty much as it appears in Issue 6 of Donna Hay Magazine) 

Peach Jelly

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
3 peaches, halved and stoned
1 tbsp gelatine
1/3 cup raspberries

Vanilla Panna Cotta

2 tbsp gelatine
1/3 cup warm water
3 3/4 cups single or pouring cream
1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. To make the jelly, place the water, sugar and vanilla bean in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the peaches and allow to simmer 3-5 minutes or until soft. Remove the peaches, slip off skins and set aside. Place 1/4 cup of the peach liquid in a bowl, sprinkle over the gelatine and set aside for 5 minutes. Add the peach and gelatine mixture to the remaining peach liquid, stir and simmer for 2 minutes or until the gelatine is dissolved. Remove the vanilla bean. Place the peaches cut side up in a well greased loaf tin, sprinkle with the raspberries and pour over the liquid. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

2. To make the panna cotta, sprinkle the extra gelatine over the extra water and set aside for 5 minutes. Place the cream, icing sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the gelatine mixture and simmer over low heat for 4 minutes or until the gelatine is dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour the panna cotta mixture over the set jelly and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. Invert and slice to serve.


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Sweet and Salty Layer Cake

Food makes life exciting. An adventure.
There is always something new to try. New tastes, textures, combinations.
Cakes on the other hand, well, they make life worth living.
Dramatic. I know. I don’t care! It’s true.
To me they are work of art.
The different layers, textures, colours, techniques fill me with awe and wonder.
I can look at cake books, cake pics or just hang out at store front windows of great cake shops for ages.
They fascinate me and excite me.
They fill me with are and wonder.
And my favourite of all are the white cakes. They look so incredibly light, fluffy, glossy, heavenly!
Having said that, you can see my cake here is anything but white.
Not sure how that happened?
But I have to say this was an amazing cake to make and eat.

The aromas that filled my kitchen were delicious.
That made me smile and filled me with joy.
It’s as simple as that.
And that’s what makes it all worthwhile.

Being a psychologist I tend to read a lot. Actually being a psychologist has nothing to do with that, I’ve always loved reading. But being a psychologist I tend to read a lot on the certain topics and one of these is the topic of happiness. There are different levels of happiness. There is the happiness that comes from eating a cake, this is temporary and fleeting. And then there is the happiness that comes from making a cake. That’s the happiness that I am talking about here. It’s deliciously satisfying and the sense of accomplishment stays with you forever!

This cake was neither quick nor easy. But that’s what I liked about it. It was a challenge and it kept me engaged.
And that’s where the satisfaction comes from!
The challenge! You can read more about that psych theory here!

 

The recipe follows but nothing beats having the book to lovingly hold and flick through.
Enjoy!

SWEET AND SALTY CAKE

(As it appears in Baked New Frontiers in Baking)

FOR THE CLASSIC CHOCOLATE CAKE LAYERS

3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups hot water
2/3 cup sour cream
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

FOR THE SALTED CARAMEL 

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup sour cream

FOR THE WHIPPED CARAMEL GANACHE FROSTING

1 pound dark chocolate (60 to 70% cacao), chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE

2 teaspoons fleur de sel, plus more for garnish

MAKE THE CLASSIC CHOCOLATE CAKE LAYERS

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.

In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, hot water, and sour cream and set aside to cool.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until ribbonlike, about 5 minutes. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.

Add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely. Remove the parchment.

MAKE THE SALTED CARAMEL

In a small saucepan, combine the fleur de sel. Bring to a simmer over very low heat until the salt is dissolved.

Meanwhile, keeping a close eye on the cream mixture so it doesn’t burn, in a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don’t splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F, or until the mixture is dark amber in colour, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 minute.

Add the cream mixture to the sugar mixture. Whisk in the sour cream. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.

MAKE THE WHIPPED CARAMEL GANACHE FROSTING

Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over very low heat.

Meanwhile, keeping a close eye on the cream so it doesn’t burn, in a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup, stirring them together carefully so you don’t splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350 degrees F, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the caramel cool for 1 minute.

Add the cream to the caramel and stir to combine. Stir slowly for 2 minutes, then pour the caramel over the chocolate. Let the caramel and chocolate sit for 1 minute, then, starting in the center of the bowl, and working your way out to the edges, slowly stir the chocolate and caramel mixture in a circle until the chocolate is completely melted. Let the mixture cool, then transfer it to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Mix on low speed until the bowl feels cool to the touch. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the butter, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Scape down the bowl and beat on high speed until the mixture is fluffy.

ASSEMBLE THE CAKE

Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Spread 1/4 cup of the caramel over the top. Let the caramel soak into the cake, then spread 3/4 cup of the ganache frosting over the caramel. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the fleur de sel over the frosting, then top with e second cake layer. Spread with caramel frosting and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the fleur de sel. Then top with the third layer. Spread with caramel. Crumb coat the cake and put the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up the frosting. Frost the sides and top with the remaining frosting. Garnish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

This cake will keep beautifully in a cake saver at room temperature (cool and humidity free) for up to 3 days. If your room is not cool, place the cake in a cake saver and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for at least 3 hours before serving.


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Meringue Coffee Cake

“A gorgeous brioche-like dough is rolled jellyroll style around a whipped meringue and whatever filling you choose, shaped into a wreath and baked.”
(Jamie of Life’s a Feast and Ria of Ria’s Collection)

Now, how could I resist a daring challenge like that!
I joined The Daring Kitchen a couple of months ago! The first challenge came and went. To be honest, I felt overwhelmed!
The next challenge was announced and hosted by Jamie of Life’s a Feast and Ria of Ria’s Collection.
After reading the above description and the clearly written recipe, I started to feel my confidence build.
I felt myself rising to the challenge! I wanted to make this cake.
I decided on Jamie’s All-American version with cinnamon, chocolate chips and walnuts (which I substituted for pecans).

I made the dough and rolled it out…

I love, love, love meringue…

I ate just enough to make myself sick and spread the rest over the rolled out dough…

I then sprinkled my chopped walnuts, chocolate chips and cinnamon…

And rolled it up, jelly roll style!
(The ingredients made 2 cakes, I halved everything but the filling! So I had one cake with twice the filling!
It went well, however the excess meringue made the ends wet and hard to join when I formed a circle.
But to be honest, I didn’t care! I liked the look of my raw product!)

There was a bit of spill over from my filling but I was happy to eat it! It was oh so good!

Then after an hour’s rest, I baked my Meringue Coffee Cake!

And dusted it with sugar…

I couldn’t wait to have a bite… or two… Absolutely Delicious!

I took immense pleasure in unrolling and unwrapping the cake as I ate it.
I can’t honestly say what gave me more pleasure, the sheer sense of accomplishment from making this gorgeous cake or the incredibly light texture and taste!

I am so glad I decided to take the plunge and make this month’s daring challenge.
Below is the recipe as written by Jamie and Ria.

We have presented you with two variations of this delicious coffee cake: Jamie’s All-American versions with cinnamon, chopped pecans and chocolate chips or chopped chocolate and Ria’s Indian-inspired version with saffron added to the sweet yeast bread dough and **garam masala and cashews flavoring the filling. Let your imagination flow; you could add cardamom to the dough, drizzle a bit of rose or orange water over the meringue and chopped pistachios to the filling for another Indian version, or sweet, tangy dried fruits along with the nuts and whatever spice you choose in the

place of our choice for fillings.

Preparation time:
For the dough:
10 – 15 minutes preparation of the dough
8 – 10 minutes kneading
45 – 60 minutes first rise
10 – 15 minutes to prepare meringue, roll out, fill and shape dough
an additional 45 – 60 minutes for second rising.

Baking time: approximately 30 minutes

Equipment required:
Measuring cups for dry ingredients
Measuring cup for liquid
Measuring spoons
Cutting board and sharp knife for chopping nuts & chocolate if using
2 large mixing bowls
1 small mixing bowl
1 medium mixing bowl for beating egg whites, preferably plastic or metal
1 medium saucepan
Electric mixer or stand mixer
Wooden spoon
Rolling pin
Spatula
Clean kitchen scissors or sharp knife
Plastic wrap & clean kitchen towel
Parchment paper
2 medium-sized baking trays (or 1 large if your oven is large enough)
Cooling racks
Serving platter
Vegetable oil to grease bowl

DB

FILLED MERINGUE COFFEE CAKE
Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter
The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake

Ingredients
For the yeast coffee cake dough:

4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs at room temperature

10 strands saffron for Ria’s version (Saffron might be hard to find and it’s expensive, so you can substitute with ½ – 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom or ground nutmeg. Or simply leave it plain like Jamie’s version)

For the meringue:

3 large egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the filling:

Jamie’s version:
1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate

Ria’s version:
1 cup (130 g / 5 oz.) chopped cashew nuts
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon garam masala (You can make it at home – recipe below – or buy from any Asian/Indian grocery store)
1 cup (170g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips ( I used Ghirardelli)

Egg wash: 1 beaten egg
Cocoa powder (optional) and confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes

**Garam (means “hot”) masala (means “mixture”) is a blend of ground spices and is used in most Indian savory dishes. It is used in limited quantities while cooking vegetables, meats & eggs. There is no “one” recipe for it as every household has a recipe of their own. Below, I am going to share the recipe which I follow.

4 or 5 sticks (25 g) Cinnamon Sticks (break a stick and open the scroll)
3 ½ tablespoons (25 g / less than an ounce) Cloves, whole
100 g. (3.5 oz.) Fennel seeds
4 tablespoons (25 g / less than an ounce) Cumin seeds
1 ½ tablespoons (10 g / less than half an ounce) Peppercorns
25 g (less than half an ounce) Green Cardamom pods

In a small pan on medium heat, roast each spice individually (it hardly takes a minute) until you get a nice aroma. Make sure you stir it throughout so that it doesn’t burn. As soon as each spice is roasted, transfer it to a bowl to cool slightly. Once they are all roasted, grind into a fine powder by using a coffee grinder, or pestle & mortar. Store in an airtight container and use as needed.

Directions:

Prepare the dough:

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. Ria’s version: add the 10 saffron threads to the warmed liquid and allow to steep off of the heat for 10 minutes. This will give the mixture a distinct aroma and flavor and a yellowish-orange hue.

With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.

Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.

Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare your filling:In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes:

Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.

Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.

Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.

Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.

Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.