Monday, April 6, 2015

Perfect draft free spot for proving dough.

Are you like me?

Running round the house with a bowl of dough trying to find a nice warm spot to leave it to rise?

I've used many spots depending on the days temperature. On or in the oven after it's been on. On top of the fridge wrapped in a bath towel. Sitting on the sideboard in a sunny spot. 

I found the perfect spot to keep my bowl or tray of dough to rise that stays nice and warm and is easily moved to keep out of the way so the rest of the kitchen is still usable. 

Inside the esky!

Now I know not many of my readers are Australian so for those of you across the pond it may be called a Chilly bin, cooler box or drinks chiller. 

It's a great spot that prevents drafts, keeps an even temperature and can be moved out of the way and leaves the oven free to be used for other baking. 

Inside I place a hot water bottle filled with hot water from the tap and a thermometer, although this is not a necessity I just like to keep a bit of an eye on how warm it gets. 

I will place my bowl of dough in one side and the hot water bottle on the other, not touching and pop on the lid. 
When the dough has risen and is then shaped into a tray I then place a cooling rack over the hot water bottle to prevent the tray touching the heat directly and place the tray on top. 

This has resulted in great dough each time. 

Give it a go for yourself. 

I also used (as pictured) a polystyrene box with lid instead of the esky when I didn't own an esky yet. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Quirky pot plant

I needed something extra for a Secret Santa gift. 

The recipient is a little quirky in the most endearing way, and I had in mind a dinosaur pot plant. 

However several stores later and even recruiting family and friends I wasn't able to find the right sort of dinosaur for the task. 

I will apologise now, I completely forgot to take pictures of the first quirky pot I made, during its process. So the steps are of the second one I made. 

I picked up an animal pack at a discount store (although a little smaller than what I was wanting) plus a can of spray paint that also sticks to plastic and a succulent plant at the hardware store. 

I used a box cutter/ Stanley knife to cut a piece of the back out. 

This was rather easy but please remember to always cut away from your body just in case the blade slips. 

I sprayed the toy with a couple of coats for paint, left it to dry. 

And planted in the succulent. 

A quirky little plant holder to sit on a desk or windowsill for a person in your life who has a great sense of humour or just young at heart. 

I made another for a friend who was helping me out trying to find a dinosaur as she couldn't quite picture what I was trying to achieve. 

I base coated with the blue then top coated with chrome. Just in case the chrome colour didn't stick to plastic. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

The best pizza dough ever! (in my opinion anyway)

About 18 months ago I went along with my dad to a pizza making class.

You see my dad has a wood fired pizza oven at his place and he was always experimenting with different dough recipes to get one that was great.

He did a lot of research online to find recipes and came across this little pizza place in Melbourne that gave classes. So during the summer break for both of us, off we went to learn for ourselves.

We spent 4 hours there, where we mixed our own dough, let it rise, prepared the toppings, learnt a few methods for kneading dough (14 years spent working with children under 5 years old meant this I was good at - thanks to play-doh)  pressed out the dough into pans, and made our choice of pizza. 

Into the oven it went to bake, and after that we ate them for lunch. 

A few pizzas were made and then baked while we cleaned up and away we went with Take-away pizza and a DVD reminder of the lesson, including the recipe!

This is now my dads go to recipe when making pizza or bread, and up until recently I hadn't made it again.

Don't get me wrong, I'd eaten it lots! but I just never made it at home.

I do prefer it baked in a wood fired oven rather than a regular gas oven, but it was good, no great, so much better than pre-bought pizza bases and the dough can be frozen and it thaws out and bakes as if it was made fresh.

So I thought I'd share this recipe with you, so you can try it for yourselves.

750 mls warm water
50mls olive oil 
50mls milk
50g fresh yeast
20g salt
1100g flour

Food grade bucket- this will be your pizza dough bucket. 

Add water and yeast into the bucket and mix to dissolve. (We used our hands for all of the mixing)
Add 40mls of oil and all milk and salt and mix until dissolved.
Add the flour and mix by hand for 2-3 minutes.
Add the last 10mls of oil and knead the dough briefly.

The dough will be very sticky, this is just as it's supposed to be. 

Cover the bucket with a clean tea towel and leave for 1 hour.

Using floured scales weigh out
250g for small pizza
300g for medium pizza 
350g for large pizza

Roll each amount on a floured surface into a ball and allow it to rest for 30 mins, cover again with the clean tea towel 

Oil a pizza pan and place a ball of dough top side down onto the pan. 
Push out the dough using your fingers and add which ever are your favourite toppings

Bake for 7 minutes or until golden in a moderate oven or wood fired pizza oven. 

This recipe will make enough for about 6 big pizzas. So for any left over dough, add a small amount of oil into a freezer bag and scrunch it up to spread it around. Add 1 ball of dough, remove as much air as possible and seal the bag. Pop into the freezer until the day you need it and it should be defrosted in the fridge. 
If you want to use the dough the following day place the bucket with the lid on into the fridge after the 1st hour of resting. Roll out and allow to rest as above on the day you use it. 

Now about the bucket. It was what we used at the pizza place and has continued at home. By all means use a large mixing bowl if you prefer. It just frees up a mixing bowl for us and we know no other food flavours will end up in the dough if we only use the bucket for dough. 
After making all the dough balls just leave the bucket and bits of dough to dry. The following morning use a bit of paper towel to wipe out the bucket, a quick wash and it's ready to go again. 
It's much easier and cleaner to wash this way than putting wet dough into the sink and cleaning cloths. 

This dough recipe is also used for breads etc. we had an amazing sundried tomato and basil bread recently but try whatever takes your fancy!

I may be linked up at these parties.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

New favourite Banana Loaf Recipe.

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Mix together for 2 minutes until pale in colour:
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla essence

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt 

3 over ripe bananas

Pour into a greased loaf tin sprinkle with raw sugar and bake at 180'C for 55-60 minutes. 

Or into muffin pans baked for 25 minutes.

I often do variations to the muffins depending on other ingredients on hand.
I've added 1/4 caramel chips
Or substituting 1/4 cup canola oil for 1/4 cup coconut oil and adding 1/4 cup shredded coconut. 

Try your own combinations and let me know your favourites!

I may be linked up at these parties.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tim Tam Cheesecake

This past Mothers Day I was keen to bake my mum SOMETHING??

It took a while to come up with an idea, but I got there.

She loves Tim Tam Biscuits.

So I decided to combine these into a cheesecake to make a very decadent dessert for her.

250 g choc ripple biscuits
100 g butter cubed
500 g cream cheese cubed
1/3 cup cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1 packet Tim Tams (any flavour)

Chocolate curls / more Tim Tams / Maltesers to decorate

Into a food processor, blend the choc ripple biscuits until fine. 

Add the butter and mix until combined. 

Press the mix into a lined spring form pan. 

Place the cubed cream cheese into the bowl of your stand mixer and mix until smooth.

Add the cream, vanilla and sugar and mix until smooth and the sugar is dissolved. 

Stir in the crushed Tim Tams and spread onto the base. 

Cover and chill overnight

Prior to serving decorate as desired. 

In the past any biscuit base I've made used melted butter. But I wanted to give it a try using chilled.  The base turned out perfect! It was soft enough that a spoon got through it easily and not crumbly at all.

Now I didn't think it was sweet, but others who tasted it said it was. So maybe use a little less sugar and try as you go, adding as much as you think it needs.

I may be linked up at these parties.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Victoria Sponge

The first recipe I made using my kitchenaid stand mixer was this Victoria Sponge.

I followed the kitchenaid recipe for their gluten free sponge, but since gluten is ok for my family to eat I substituted for regular flour and excluded the gum.

My lesson learnt: never step away from the mixer when whipping cream! It was a little over whipped but not yet butter, as the cake had to travel, it did stand up well to a trip in the car.

And here is my baby, I've had her for 2 years now and she it yet to get a name.

I'm thinking something 1950's housewife'ish???

Any suggestions?

I may be linked up at these parties.

Raspberry and white chocolate muffins

My go to recipe for muffins would have to be this one. 

The recipe was given to me by an old college of mine and it has never failed. 

Raspberry and white chocolate muffins


2 cups plain flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup caster sugar
1 cup white choc-bits
1 cup buttermilk or milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g butter, melted, cooled slightly
1 cup frozen raspberries


1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 12 x ½-cup muffin pan or line with patty cases.

2. Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in sugar and choc-bits.

3. Whisk buttermilk or milk, eggs, vanilla and melted butter in a large jug until well combined. Using a large metal spoon, stir mixture into dry ingredients until just combined. Gently swirl through frozen raspberries (do not over-mix).

4. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Stand in pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Lightly dust with icing sugar if desired.

I may be linked up at these parties.