Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Feeding the kids

It’s always hard getting home grown chicken into my kids. It’s usually tougher and stronger flavored than shop chicken. Also, it’s easy to overcook the breast and then it becomes very dry. On the basis that no-one has studied kids’ tastes as much as the red-haired clown, I decided that the breasts of the four boys we were given on the weekend would be chicken nuggets.

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I chopped the breasts finely, and mixed in tarragon, garlic, egg and a little flour. Then in went a bit of cheese and corn. The coating was ground up crackers and desiccated coconut. I formed them into little balls, and coated and flattened them.

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Voila! Both kids finished theirs all up! You see dessert in the background: it’s a brioche with blueberries poked in. It also worked it pretty well:

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Here’s hoping that full bellies make for a long sleep!

An autumnal cake

Until we set an orchard, we’re reliant on the shops for fruit. If like us you’re not lucky enough to have fruit trees, you can usually tell that a fruit is in season because it’s cheap in the shops.

Right now it seems to be pear season. These are going into Miss soon-to-be-4’s birthday cake. The great thing about pears is that if you slightly overdo it, they don’t make the cake taste weird.

So the recipe was 6 pears, halved and roasted until soft, then cooled, cored, skinned and pureed. Into that went 2 cups of sugar, 1 tablespoon if baking powder and about 1 cup of cocoa, plus some ground cinnamon and clove. Miss stb4 proclaimed that it “smelled gorgeous!” Mixed it till smooth, then beat in 4 big eggs. After that, in went about 250g melted butter and half a block of melted chocolate. Again, we mixed till smooth. Then we folded in about 2 cups plain flour. If you overbeat cake mixture that contains flour, it sets the gluten off and makes the cake tough. The advantage of adding the flour at the end is that you can beat the hell out of it to get the mix smooth at first, and you only need to ease off at the end when the flour goes in.

That went into an oven preheated to 160 for about 50 minutes. I put a tall baking paper collar around to stop it burning, which seemed to work.

This makes heaps of batter. You might want to halve it actually:

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It made 1 big cake and 3 small ones.

I think this is the best cake I’ve ever made: moist, spongy and chocolatey. Miss stb4 was much more interested in the batter though, and completely rejected the cake in favor of licking the bowl! 

Edit: once you decorate a cake for a four year old, all traces of the seasons are lost:
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Mmm beetroot

A friend brought us some beetroots today. Instead of doing them savory like I usually do, I went with sweet:

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It’s 200 grams of melted butter, 3/4 to 1 cup of cocoa, 1.5 cups of sugar and four eggs beaten together, with 3/4 cup floor folded through, then 6 big beetroots, boiled and peeled, then grated. Add salt if you’re using unsalted butter. It goes in the oven at 180 which you turn down to 160 after 20 mins. Skewer should come out a bit gooey. Probably a bit too beetrooty for the kids, so I might do 4 beetroots next time. I like it though!

Bake me some pie

After a rather gruesome week I had 10 pairs of chicken breasts and little energy or inspiration so it’s pie! Seared the breasts whole (I just couldn’t be bothered cutting them up) and simmered them in a stock made from 5 roasted carcasses and the remnants from a roast supermarket turkey hindquarter. Once cooked I chopped up the meat and reduced the stock. The pastry is a shortcrust of butter, flour and milk.

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I got 6 dinner sized pies out of this batch: 9 of the chickens were bantam australorp cockerels which had relatively large breasts for their size but still small by shop standards.
I love making shortcrust pastry; not only because raw it’s the favorite food of our 3 year old (besides chicken liver), but because it’s really hard to buy good pastry, but easy to make it. Butter and flour goes in the food processor, process and adjust by adding more of one or the other till you have something like wet sand. Add a small amount of milk, or an egg, and a wee bit of baking powder, mix, and chill for 20 mins. The only caveat is that you mustn’t overheat or overwork the dough: that would make it tough.

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