Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bakers’ Best Friends

I get loads of emails asking advice on baking, recipes and equipment. While working, baking and looking after my family I don't always get time to answer in detail so I have decided to try and make a regular post on my blog to share some of my favourite tips/recipes with you.....

Equipment & Tools

Whether you’re an avid baker or just enjoy having homemade treats on hand for your friends and family, there’s no harm in making sure you have the appropriate cookware sets and bakeware available to you at a moment’s notice. As baking is considered more of a science than cooking, it’s helpful to keep a great set of measuring cups and spoons on hand to ensure your baked dish has the correct proportions and will cook through evenly. Furthermore, you can never have too many mixing bowls for complex recipes that require special blending instructions or indicate that specific ingredients need to be kept separate.

Depending on your experience, dough may be one of your most basic ingredients that you have to prepare for each dish. Whether you roll out mounds of dough once per day or as little as once per month, it’s never an easy task if you aren’t equipped with a quality rolling pin that does a great job every time. In addition, it’s a smart idea to splurge on a hand or stand mixer from KitchenAid that ensures a good blend every time you use it. Investing in low-quality baking basics will leave your oven running for more time than you wish as you’ll be spending extra time rolling, blending, and mixing.

To add versatility to your baking experience, consider purchasing a variety of different shaped baking pans that include the basic shaped pans like rectangular, square and round. This will give you the versatility you need in the kitchen to keep up with all of your delicious recipes whether you’re making a side of cornbread, a pie for dessert, or breakfast muffins. If you’re a cookie connoisseur, the top bakeware items on your list should be a reliable baking sheet and durable cookie cutters that will make clean cuts in your baking designs. Plastic baking sheets typically are more expensive than dishwasher-safe aluminum ones but are easier to roll on and are less sticky when coming in contact with cookie dough. In contrast, shop for metal cookie cutters as this sharper material provides a cleaner cut and truly defines the shape of your cookie.

Happy Baking :O)

Jammy Dodgers

(Taste NZ Magazine)
Makes 16-20

250g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
375g plain flour, sieved

200g raspberry jam
juice of 1 lemon

Beat butter and sugar until pale & creamy.

Add vanilla and egg yolk and beat until just combined, then gradually stir in flour until the mixture comes together.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 30mins.

Preheat oven to 180c fanbake

On lightly floured surface roll the dough out to about 3-4mm thick and cut into 8cm rounds. Use a small cutter to remove the centre of half the rounds. Re-roll and cut out trimmings.

Bake in preheated oven for 10-12mins or until lightly golden. Transfer to cooling rack and leave to cool.

While the cookies are cooling, put the jam and lemon juice into a saucepan and heat it until it just comes to the boil, reduce and simmer for 2-3mins, then remove from the heat. Spoon about 1 tsp of jam over each of the whole cookies and top with cookies who have had the centre removed.

Store in an airtight container. Dust with icing sugar to serve.


Anonymous said...

Dear Kathryn,

I recently discovered your blog and have been really touched by the aim of it.
I am found of cake decorating, and try to realise nice ones for any occasion.
I am a mother of four children, living in France, and soon (in four weeks) we will be moving to Germany (my husband has already moved for a new job).
In this regard, I wanted to realise a special cake for my children at school as a "goodbye cake" and we I saw your case cake, I thought I could try it.
Any advice for a novice ?
Kind regards.

The Cake Maker said...

Hi Madame H,

Start with the basics and get your foundations right. Get your cake/icing/ganache (whatever you are using) as smooth as possible as bumps and lumps will show through the fondant. For me cake decorating is all about practice and getting familiar with the paste and how it behaves. Debbie Brown books are great for clear instructions and she teaches from the basics to an advanced level, and on a huge variety/style of cakes. Good luck :O)