Baking

High Tea

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Every now and then I get a hankering for high tea. I love how fancy everything is, from the elegant set up to the finger sandwiches to the tasteful little desserts. Oh and let’s not forget about the tea. Unfortunately most places charge an exorbitant amount for high tea so I figured why not host my own high tea party instead.

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My sandwiches included:

– smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese

– grilled capsicum and hummus

– cheddar cheese and tomato

– egg and mayonnaise

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Top Tier: Classic vanilla cupcakes

Middle Tier: Chocolate brownies, Anzac slice, Lemon tarts, Button cookies

Bottom Tier: Classic scones, Mini quiches, Cheese and spinach triangles

Overall:

Preparing for this was fun and easy. Everything was homemade except for the quiches, the triangles, and the lemon tarts (which I put together using store bought tart shells and lemon curd from a jar). My guests were super impressed and we all ate until we could no longer move. (I kept refilling the tiers and eventually gave everyone some food to take home as there was so much leftover). This was definitely a great experience and is something anyone can do.

Reindeer Cookies

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pretzels
  • M&M’s (I used brown milk chocolate M&M’s for the eyes and red crispy M&M’s for the noses, but any colour/type is fine)

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.

2. Combine brown sugar, peanut butter, butter, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add egg and mix.

3. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture and mix just until blended.

4. Form dough into 3cm balls. To make reindeer-shaped cookies, pinch the bottom of the ball slightly to form a point, then gently flatten with your hand.

5. Place cookies on a greased tray and gently press pretzels onto each cookie.

6. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until cookies begin to brown.

7. Remove from the oven and IMMEDIATELY (and gently) press M&Ms in for the eyes and an M&M for the nose.

 

Overall:

How cute are these cookies? They are slightly crumbly, not overly sweet, have a wonderful peanut butter flavour, and are simply perfect for Christmas.

Blueberry Cornbread Muffins

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Recipe from: Joy of Baking.com 

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used brown sugar so that the muffins would be more moist)
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup corn, vegetable or canola oil

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200°C

2. In a large bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Gently stir in the blueberries

3. In another bowl whisk together the egg, milk and oil

4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir just until the ingredients are combined (over mixing will result in tough muffins)

5. Spoon mixture into a greased muffin tray and bake for 20 minutes (or until cooked through when tested with a skewer)

 

Overall:

These muffins were like nothing I had ever tasted before. The crunchy texture and subtle corn flavour combined with the blueberries and fresh lemon zest resulted in lovely muffins that are great to snack on.

Hot Cross Cookies

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Recipe from: Donna Hay

 

Alterations I made were:

  • substituting the sultanas in the recipe for chocolate chips
  • using melted white chocolate for the crosses instead of icing sugar

 

Overall:

I’ve had a cookie craving for the past week now and finally found some time today to make these. These sweet crumbly cookies have a distinctive cinnamon taste and I feel that one teaspoon of cinnamon instead of two is plenty enough. (Note that I didn’t use a piping bag, hence the uneven crosses.)

 

Hope you all have a Happy Easter!

The Best Vanilla Slice

It all started with the fact that I had never been to “that place in Sorrento” that makes the famous Sorrento vanilla slice. After a quick Google search I discovered that the place was called Just Fine Food. So one sunny afternoon I took a little road trip down to Sorrento to see what all the fuss was about.

 

Just Fine Food

23 Ocean Rd, Sorrento 5984 4666

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There was an ample amount of creamy yet lumpy vanilla custard that was mildly sweet. Although I found the pastry to be quite thin and ordinary, I did like the layer of jam that came at the bottom of the slice.

Just Fine Food on Urbanspoon

I finished off this vanilla slice thinking to myself that like the name of the place, it was just fine. It got me thinking that there had to be places that were closer to home that made fantastic vanilla slice. So I decided to go to Aviv Cakes and Bagels, as a friend of mine had once told me that the vanilla slice there was simply amazing.

 

Aviv Cakes and Bagels

412 Glenhuntly Road, Elsternwick 9528 6627

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The vanilla custard was smooth and moderately sweet, while the pastry was delicious: thick, crispy and almost biscuit-like. As a whole, I really enjoyed the sweet to creamy ratio of this particular vanilla slice.
Aviv Cakes & Bagels on Urbanspoon

 

I also had to make a stop at The French Lettuce as they have this sign in front of the place:

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The French Lettuce Patisserie and Bakery 

237 Nicholson St, Carlton 9347 7311

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The mildly sweet custard filling was light and extremely creamy, while the pastry was thick, flaky and buttery. The vanilla slice here also came with a side of strawberry jam which was perfect for breaking up the creaminess and for providing some contrasting flavour.
The French Lettuce Patisserie & Bakery on Urbanspoon
 

I also attempted to make my very own vanilla slice. I found this recipe from Best Recipes except instead of making up the icing, I dusted my vanilla slice with icing sugar.

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Notice how yellow my custard filling turned out? That’s because I added less cream than what the recipe required (not intentionally, but because I was out of cream and couldn’t be bothered going out to buy more). Also, notice all the little lumps in the filling? Turns out that you should probably sift the custard powder before you mix it with everything otherwise you will end up with lumps that are impossible to get rid of!

 

 

Overall:

This was a fun little quest and in the end the best vanilla slice for me personally was from Aviv Cakes and Bagels. The pastry was fantastic and the filling was very scrumptious as it had the perfect balance between creamy and sweet.