Gluten free lemon yoghurt cake

Very soon this blog will have to be re-named ‘fear-germ’ as everyone will be too scared to read it, for fear of finding yet another sad story. Unfortunately, that’s all I have for you again today but it is slightly sweetened by the addition of a wonderful Donna Hay lemon yoghurt cake recipe. I am hopeful for gentler and happier waters ahead.

A letter to our dog Elvis

I find you in unexpected places. Your ball tucked behind a chair, your jacket hanging over a balustrade.

I go to save you a snippet of cheese, salmon or sausage and realise you are no longer here.

I watch our boys reach down to where you once sat but you are gone. They recoil in confusion and tears well up in their eyes. Every night before bed, Kid 1 goes to your pillow and breathes in deeply, stating that it smells of you.

Children are more easily distracted. They move in and out of grief fluidly but when it strikes, they are hit hard. For us ‘so called grown ups’, who made the call, based on the opinion of an unknown emergency vet late on a rainy Friday night, there is second guessing and a deep unease. And for me, who spent more time with you than all of us, losing you is far worse than I could have ever imagined.

We had you fourteen beautiful years but we are greedy and it doesn’t seem long enough. The unconditional love you provided soothed all of us at varying times. Our boys learnt about responsibility, loyalty, trust and compassion through having you in their lives. (And well, buying you as a tiny puppy after our first miscarriage, The Yak and I did too.) The lads are now learning another life lesson on loss and bereavement.

We think we hear the jingle of your collar, the pitter patter of your petite paws.

Night falls, I tell the Yak to remember to take you out for a wee but you are no longer here.

Sitting on the couch, there are no more gentle snores, no more ‘hello I am here’ visits. As I go through my work-a-day-life, passing through our home, there are no more doggy-lying sunshine spots.

I could burn this house down for it’s emptiness. You were a member of our family and part of our heartbeat. You were our baby before our babies, a patient and fun-loving brother to our boys, our Happy Birthday singing diva, our cheese-loving fluffy puppy, sneaky cake-eating canine, fence-jumping pooch, Houdini style escaping hound, our ball-chasing high energy muppet, my sweet compadre and house shadow.

What will we all do without our morning lick and cuddle? We are undone, you will live in our hearts forever. I dedicate this cake recipe to you sweet dogger, in the memory of the many cooling cakes you sneakily partly devoured. We love you Elvis and we always will.

If you are looking for a tender, human and canine pleasing, tangy gluten free cake recipe then this is for you. Using lemons from our own trees surely made it more delicious. There is a link to Donna Hay’s original recipe after the photos. Enjoy.

GLUTEN FREE LEMON YOGHURT CAKE

WHAT YOU NEED
3/4 cup (180ml) vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil)
2 eggs
1 tbl finely grated lemon zest (I used about 1 1/2 tbls)
1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
1 cup (280g) Greek yoghurt (I used vanilla bean yoghurt)
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
300g gluten free self-raising flour

Lemon Icing
1 cup sifted icing sugar
1 tbl lemon juice
1/2 tsp boiling water

WHAT YOU DO
Preheat oven to 160C and grease and line a 24cm springform baking tin.
Place the oil, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, yoghurt and caster sugar in a large bowl and whisk together to combine.
Sift the flour over the mixture and stir to combine.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 50-60 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Allow the cake to stand for 5 minutes before removing from the tin.
To make the icing, combine the icing sugar, lemon juice and boiling water.
Turn the cake out onto a cake stand and pour the icing over the cake whilst the cake is still warm. (I didn’t do this, I iced the cake when it was cold.) Let it stand for ten minutes for the icing to set then cut it and well, tuck in.

A slight adaptation of a Donna Hay recipe, link to the original recipe is provided below.

https://www.donnahay.com.au/recipes/desserts-and-baking/lemon-and-yoghurt-cake


Soft ricotta banana bread, gluten free

Legend has it that Cleopatra, the last active ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt, had seven hundred donkeys milked every day so she could opulently fill her bathtub to soak her royal self in. The properties of this magic milk supposedly prevented wrinkles and assisted in preserving youth and beauty. If I were to choose a dairy product to ablute myself in, it would be a tub filled to the brim with fresh ricotta. Since our local butcher started selling this soft cheese in adorable little blue basins, I have gone on a bit of a ricotta bender (which is certainly easier on my liver than a wild drinking spree would be.)

This versatile creamy white cheese is mildly sweet and tangy and is used in both sweet and savoury cooking. It makes a beautiful breakfast when smeared on crunchy sourdough toast atop some fruity berry jam. I have dolloped it between roasted eggplant, zuchinni and red capsicum in a vegetable bake. It’s been beaten into a lime ricotta cake, stuffed into veggies and baked and makes a great filling for eggplant involtini. Huge spoonfuls have been stirred through pasta sauces just before serving as well as added to mushrooms and thyme to fill a gluten free savoury tart.

Bananas past their prime cannot be wasted and what better way to use them up than in a banana bread that also calls for ricotta? Yes sure, recipes for this ubiquitous bake are a dime a dozen but this is a wonderfully soft, tender and aromatic loaf. It is even better when topped with just a smidgen more of that fresh ricotta. Go big like Cleopatra or go home.

SOFT RICOTTA AND BANANA BREAD

WHAT YOU NEED
113 grams (1/2 cup butter), melted
3 ripe bananas
1 large egg
3/4 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup fresh ricotta (not skim ricotta)
1 tsp vanilla extract
270g gluten free plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
Pour the melted butter into a large bowl, add the bananas and mash well into a pulp.
Add the egg and beat until smooth.
Add the sugar, ricotta and vanilla and mix well.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet until just incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the centre of the oven for 55-65 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. (You may need to cover the top of the loaf with foil towards the end of the bake to avoid overbrowning.)
Remove to a cooling rack and let cool for about 20 minutes before removing from the pan.
We ate the crusts of this deliciously soft and moist loaf whilst they were still warm. Just wonderful.

Cooking notes: I have been getting really good results with a gluten free flour blend from Bobs Red Mill called ‘Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour.’ It is found in some supermarkets and health food stores. I have no affiliation with this company and haven’t been paid in any way, shape or form for mentioning this brand. I just really like it and couldn’t keep it to myself, that would be selfish.

A slight adaptation of this recipe

https://www.aol.com/article/lifestyle/2016/08/01/soft-ricotta-banana-bread/21442917/


Lime and ricotta cake, gluten free

One of our next door neighbours has a prolific lime tree and kindly threw a few of them my way. (She didn’t actually lob them at my head, instead she walked over and very nicely handed them to me. We live in a civilised neighbourhood.) It makes me think of the saying ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ In this case, when someone gives you limes you should go and cook with them. Or make a gin and tonic. It’s up to you.

In a seemingly unconnected recent development, our local butcher had started selling tubs of creamy fresh ricotta. One of which just happened to be sitting in our refrigerator. After a bit of thought, some ingredient kismet ensued and this moist, delectable, tangy cake ended up on the kitchen bench and in the tummies of two hungry boys. Who fortuitously happened to be in the right place at the right time. Kind of like me and those limes.

GLUTEN FREE LIME AND RICOTTA CAKE

WHAT YOU NEED
180g butter, room temperature
3 tbl lime zest (I used 2 limes)
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
250g ricotta cheese
1 tbl lime juice
1 cup gluten free plain flour
1/2 cup almond meal
3 tsp baking powder

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 160C and line a 24cm/9 inch springform cake tin with baking paper.
Beat the butter, sugar and lime zest together in a bowl (I used an electric mixer) until light and fluffy.
Beat in the egg yolks, ricotta and lime juice until well combined.
Sift the flour, almond meal and baking powder. Stir the flour mixture into the rest of the ingredients.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed. Fold them into the cake batter in two batches.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour or until the cake tests clean with a skewer.
Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes before removing onto a cooling rack.
Dust with icing sugar before serving to make it look pretty. This is a light and moist cake. It makes a great dessert served on the day you make it but it is still good for two days afterwards. I recommend not refrigerating it as the texture goes very dense and firm and in my books, a bit unpleasant. I also like to warm it for a few seconds in the microwave before eating it.

A Cheergerm adaptation from this recipe http://allrecipes.com.au/recipe/23985/lime-and-ricotta-syrup-cake.aspx


Gluten free jam drops

Recently, Kid 1 has assured both myself and The Yak that we are not cool. I was the first to transgress after daring to use the word ‘swag’, a young persons vernacular for ‘cool’ or ‘awesome’. The second infringement came from The Yak when he attempted a ‘dab’ (a particular two arm salute currently popular with the youth of today). After both incidents, the Cool Kid informed us that we were both totally cringeworthy and embarrassing.

He is wrong, I am cool. (Sorry Yak, you are being left high and dry here.) This mother can still drop some cool jam. Well, some cool jam drops. Gluten free, melt in the mouth with a tangy raspberry centre. Enjoyed by both young and old. And that’s just swag.

GLUTEN FREE JAM DROPS

WHAT YOU NEED
150g unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups gluten free plain flour, sifted
1 1/2 tbls raspberry jam

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 180C and line two trays with baking paper.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until it is light and fluffy.
Add the flour and beat to combine.
Roll one large teaspoon of the dough into a ball, place on the tray and slightly flatten it with the palm of your hand. Repeat with the remaining dough, I got 15 biscuits.
Using your thumb, place an indentation in each biscuit then spoon in about 1/4 tsp of jam on each biscuit.
Bake for about 12-15 minutes until each biscuit is very lightly golden.
Let the biscuits cool on the tray for about 15 minutes (don’t try and move them too quickly as they are delicate and could break) then place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Eat them.

Recipe from http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/gluten-free-jam-drops/9c314daf-e2b9-4374-b3ea-9dd54abf4976


Christmas 2016

Christmas was spent somewhere different this year. Mr Bagpipes was housesitting a lovely large property in White Rock, outside of Bathurst in country NSW. This once working vineyard is perched on a hill in a charming bucolic setting. The Yak, myself and sproglets had visited there before and we were excited to celebrate Chrissy with all of our extended family. Our special guest was ‘Christmas Alf’, harking all the way from Manchester in the UK. (Not a real elf of course but the funny, kind and gentle man who happens to be Manchurian Bro-in-laws Dad.)

It was good to be together somewhere different and somewhere so very beautiful. In this freefall Christmas, I think we all felt a smidge unencumbered and a dash unrestricted by tradition. We kept that which suited us and gently nudged aside that which didnt seem necessary in this new setting.

Christmas Eve morn and our gaggle met at The Hub. Good coffee as always and darned good nosh. My poached eggs, asparagus, spinach and mushrooms on black rye arrived topped with hollandaise sauce and crispy sage. Be still my beating heart. (As long as my heart still ticks after that rich and creamy sauce.)

We stuck to our Christmas evening meal and more relaxed Boxing Day brunch. Two ethically sourced hams (yes, it does matter to us), were expertly glazed by Mum and devoured over the 4 day period. There was a delicious vegan gluten-free lasagna (the handiwork of Sister 2) for Christmas dinner, as well as a more traditional turkey, some much discussed ‘pigs-in-blankets’ that the Mancurian bro-in-law threw together, crispy stuffing balls and of course, a motza of side veggies. Desserts this year consisted of Sister 4’s fabulous pistachio ice-cream cake draped in a berry sauce and crowned with fresh berries as well as a batch of mini gluten-free, vegan sticky date puddings that I conjured up. We sat out on the vine draped patio, talking, laughing at ridiculous Chrissy cracker jokes, eating and drinking. The cicadas buzzed their Chinese operatic cadences and the sun set.

For Boxing Day brunch, the Yak made his now famous (well, within our circle) Boxing Day Fried Potatoes . They were as good as ever, and ‘it was said’ that they were the best thus far. When faced with a bag of heat affected ‘just past their best’ peaches, Sister 2 was inspired to throw together a peach puree. We added this fragrant mixture to some fizzy wine for delicious brunch bellinis and to soda water for a non-alcoholic tipple. (Nothing goes to waste when we roll.) There were fruit platters galore, fried eggs, croissants, homemade pickles, chutneys and jam.

The children ran and played endlessly; soccer, cricket, sword fights, Harry Potter incantations and movie making being the order of the day.

Naturally, there were some sad moments and those who died this year were remembered both aloud and quietly. Every one of us left our family get together with at least one precious memory, tucked safely away, to take out and savour in the year that is to come.

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Ginger shortbread for Christmas

Just as ginger is spicy and hot, I too, am a bit of a hot mess. Losing two absolutely beloved people in one year and all that comes with that, alongside some health issues; my blogging and writing mojo is sporadic at best. Frankly, my Cheergerm soul is weary, low and well, not so cheery as of late. As I tried to write this post, nine year old Kid 2 was beside me, wrapped in my doona; bouncing, rolling and banging his skinny bony knees into me. Asking me the same question over and over again. I snapped at him, then felt bad. He told me his new job ‘is messing up beds.’ This made me laugh. No chance of an idealised writing environment in my life, where is that solitary attic with a wooden desk that I once dreamed of?

Its been hard to get excited about Christmas, a season that usually provides much delight. Having children pushes me to make an effort. Writing the stripped back truth about your feelings can smack of self-pity and over-introspection. Whilst I am more than happy to read of others struggles, to write about my own leaves me feeling exposed and vulnerable. In the midst of it, I also know that things are so much worse for so many and that our children are healthy and happy. Rather than continue in this vein, here is a list of little joys I have collated from this past week.

The young kindergarten lass at the school Christmas concert on Friday night who raucously and joyfully sang ‘la la la’ shaking her head (much as a headbanger would at a Metallica concert).

Watching Kid 2 at the same concert, impersonating a kookaburra during a song with great abandon, all self-conscious anxiety placed aside for a moment.

Our twelve year old Kid 1 picking out small Christmas gifts for his kindy buddies, selflessly and of his own volition.

All the appreciative folk who view our street’s Christmas lights with gratitude and wonder.

The ongoing support of family and friends and the camaraderie I have found in this online blogging community.

The Scottish people, my ancestors, for creating that delicious biscuit called shortbread. Attributed to Mary Queen of Scots in the 16th Century, it was an expensive luxury for the ordinary folk. In Shetland, it was once traditional to break a piece of shortbread over the brides head as she crossed the threshold of her new home. (Not sure how I would have felt about buttery crumbs through my hair but this shows how special this biscuit was.)

My creation this year combines warm spices with small nuggets of ginger that add a chewy, toffee-like surprise. I used a brand that stated it was ‘un-crystallised bare ginger’ but it still has some cane sugar on it, so I am not quite sure what the difference is. (I imagine it contains less sugar.) There is nothing quite like giving something homemade as a gift. Pop your baked goodies in a vintage tin or wrap them in some pretty cellophane and finish off the parcel with a darling bauble. Another little joy to add to my growing list. Merry Christmas to you all.

GINGER SHORTBREAD, (CAN BE ADAPTED TO GLUTEN FREE)

WHAT YOU NEED
250g butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 3/4 cups plain flour or gluten free plain flour
1/4 cup rice flour
2 1/2 tsps ginger powder
1/2 tsp mixed spice
30g bare uncrystallised ginger, finely chopped (if you can’t find this ‘naked’ stuff just use crystallised.)
Extra white sugar for sprinkling on top

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 170C and line 2 baking trays with baking paper Sift the flours and spices together into a bowl.
Cream the butter in a stand mixer then add the sugar gradually, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy then stir in the finely chopped ginger.
Work in the flour gradually until the mixture is just combined.
Knead the mixture lightly to bring together to a dough. (I do this in the bowl.)
Divide the dough in half, place onto a floured board and pat each into a square.
Using a rolling pin, roll each square into a 16cm by 16cm square, roughly 1cm to 1 1/2 cm thick. Gently lift the squares onto the prepared trays and cut each square into 12 rectangle fingers.
Prick the surface of the shortbread with a fork. (This helps in releasing moisture as it cooks, making the shortbread crisper.)
Sprinkle extra caster sugar over the shortbread.
Bake in the centre of the oven for ten minutes then reduce the temperature to 150C and cook for about 30 minutes to 40 minutes. It is ready when it is firmish to the touch in the centre and golden around the edges.
Remove from the oven and carefully run a sharp knife through the shortbread rectangles again to make it easier to break into fingers later.
Cool down on wire racks. Gently break the shapes apart.
Wrap up festively and give to your best people, and eat some, always eat some.

Cooking Notes: when making gluten free shortbread, keep in mind the mixture will be more fragile. You may want to shape it into a square rather than use a rolling pin particularly if you are baking on a hot day.

A Cheergerm adaptation from The Margaret Fulton Cookbook 2004 Revised and Updated Edition published by Jannie Brown and Suzanne Gibbs.

Click below for previous shortbread recipes.

Cardamom, cinnamon and brown sugar shortbread
Cranberry, chocolate, pistachio shortbread
Old school shortbread
Gluten free shortbread


Spiced chestnut flour apple cake, gf

Oh no, not that old chestnut.

Rest assured, this is not some stale joke of a cake. After much searching, I finally found some chestnut flour and have been enjoying experimenting with this fine and light textured ingredient. Adapted from a lovely wee recipe on the Gluten Free Goddess blog, this cake is fruity, nutty, earthy and rich with spice.

It has been ‘dinner party tested twice’ and speedily gobbled up. And there is nothing tiresome or old about that.

SPICED CHESTNUT FLOUR APPLE CAKE, GLUTEN FREE

WHAT YOU NEED
Apple mixture
4 apples/ 800g (I used 2 Granny Smith and 2 small pink ladies)
1 tbl lemon juice
1 tsp raw caster sugar

Cake
1 cup almond meal
1 cup chestnut flour
3/4 cup gf plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder (or 1/2 tsp vanilla bean essence)
1/2 tsp fine salt
3 eggs (70g each), room temperature
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1/2 cup raw caster sugar
3 tbl light olive oil or grapeseed oil
1/3 cup sour cream

Topping
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 tsp raw sugar

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 170C and line a 24cm springform tin with baking paper.
Peel and cut the apples into a 2 cm dice, place in a bowl and add the lemon juice and tsp of raw caster sugar, stir and set aside.
Sift all of the dry ingredients into a bowl.
Beat the eggs and sugars in a large bowl until smooth then add sour cream and oil and combine well. (Add vanilla essence here if you are using it.)
Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet until combined.
Smooth half of the batter over the base of the prepared tin.
Add the drained apples to the tin and gently press down a little.
Spread the remaining batter over the top of the apples. (This ain’t easy.) Then sprinkle the chopped pecans mixed with raw sugar over the top.
Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Cool for ten to fifteen minutes then release from the tin, remove onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
This cake is complemented by a splodge of whipped or double cream or creme fraiche.

An adaptation from the Gluten Free Goddess blog. Link to the original recipe after the photos.

https://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com.au/2007/03/flourless-apple-cake.html


Vegan peanut butter and chocolate chip biscuits

Joe (she added the ‘E’ because that’s how she rolled) was beautiful, sweet, wise, brave, funny, passionate, a letter writer, smart as a whip, suffered from a chronic illness but never complained. An absolutely devoted wife, her equally devoted husband is bereft without his soul mate. Beloved baby sister of the Yak, a loving daughter, a committed vegan, animal lover and mother to two very fine cats. An amazing Aunt, sender of wonderful Christmas packages to our boys, the best of sister-in-laws and a true friend to many.

We are lost, The Yak is undone. She died far too young. As I write this it’s raining, like some cliched Hallmark movie. Except that real grief is not like a Hallmark movie. It’s hard, cold and shit.

The Yak made it to her bedside in the UK hours before she died, he went thinking he would be keeping her company in hospital. He came home for a short time then flew back again for her funeral. The tryanny of distance. The lads and I are preparing to leave on our pre-planned trip to the UK to meet up with The Yak. The original purpose was to visit with our Joe.

I have not had the heart to bake, write or blog. But it had been in my mind for the longest time to do a vegan post just for her. So here it is. Vegan peanut butter chocolate biscuits, I hope Joe would have loved them. Just like we loved her.

VEGAN PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE CHIP BISCUITS

WHAT YOU NEED
1/2 cup unsalted natural peanut butter
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white caster sugar (see cooking note below)
1/4 cup almond milk
1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder or 1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp ground flaxseed (this can be omitted if you don’t have it, it assists in binding the ingredients a little more)
1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
Place the peanut butter, grapeseed oil, sugars and almond milk into a large bowl. (If you are using vanilla essence add it here.) Beat well until the ingredients are well combined. (I used an electric hand beater.)
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and vanilla bean powder into the bowl with the peanut butter mixture. Add the ground flaxseed and stir well.
Mix in the chocolate chips.
Roll heaped teaspoons full of the dough into round balls and place on the baking tray allowing room for spreading.
Bake at 180 for 12-15 minutes until light golden brown.
Let cool on the tray slightly then remove to a wire rack to complete cooling.
This made about 22 biscuits.

Cooking Note: it appears that in some parts of the world, some white sugar is processed using bone char. Ewww. That appears not to be the case in Australia but to be safe, I imagine vegans would check it out before they used a particular brand of sugar.

Recipe adapted from the Vegan Yoga Life blog. Link follows photos.

Original recipe:

Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


Peanut butter chocolate brownies, GF

‘Starry, starry night, paint your palette blue and gray.’

Looking down upon this brownie reminded me (ever so slightly), of a two-toned version of Van Gogh’s iconic painting The Starry Night. Yes, it may be a stretch but this is possibly as close to creating a masterpiece as I shall ever get. My ‘swirling’ technique could use some work and my cake decorating skills are limited. I am a dab hand at the fine arts of ‘icing sugar dusting’, ‘coconut sprinkling’, ‘messy look icing’ and ‘rose petal strewing.’ Let’s just call it rustic styling.

Peanut butter is a recent joyous food rediscovery of mine and the chestnut flour contributes a wonderful light crumb. This fudgy brownie with it’s nutty ‘stick to the roof of your mouth topping’ is satisfying. A little bit goes a long way. Well, not in Kid 1’s opinion. He feels that a lot goes a long way and would have attempted to eat the entire tray if he was left to his own sweet-tooth machinations. ‘Tell Dad it’s not gluten free Mum. Please…’, he begged. After a little reconsidering, I realise I am an artist of sorts after all. And this child is one (of two) of my finest creations, no matter how gorgeously greedy he may be.

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE BROWNIES, GF

WHAT YOU NEED
150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
100g butter, chopped
75g chestnut flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 tbl cocoa powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 eggs, beaten
200g (3/4 cup) peanut butter (I used a natural peanut butter with no salt added)

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 160C and line a 16 X 26cm baking pan with non-stick baking paper.
Place the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan half filled with boiling water. Make sure the saucepan isn’t touching the water. Use a metal spoon to stir the chocolate until it is melted and smooth.(I actually just placed the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan and melted it over direct low heat whilst constantly stirring but this can be tricky so stick to the tried and true method.) Let it cool for a few minutes.
Sift the flour, sugar and cocoa into a large bowl and stir in the salt.
Mix the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture, then add the eggs and stir until just combined.
Pour into the prepared pan then spoon teaspoonfuls of the peanut butter evenly over the top of the batter. Use a round ended knife (a butter knife) to swirl the peanut butter into the chocolate batter.
Cook for 35-40 minutes or until crumbs stick to a skewer inserted into the centre.
Let it cool completely in the pan then cut into slices and eat it. A fine cup of coffee or good strong cup of tea is the perfect accompaniment to this toothsome treat.

A Cheergerm adaptation of a recipe from the Taste website. Link follows the photos.

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/16515/peanut+butter+and+chocolate+brownies

Note: The first quoted line is from the song ‘Vincent’ by Don McLean, a tribute to Van Gogh.


Lemon sour cream muffins

Kid 1: If I was to be killed and eaten, I would like to be put to sleep so I couldn’t feel anything, then have every part of my body used, eaten and nothing wasted. Kind of like a soft shell crab.

He really is showing an extreme commitment to the concept of nose to tail eating. During the school holidays, Kid 1 watched a junior baking show on television where ten year olds created intricate baked goodies. This put a fire in his belly and he insisted on baking these muffins completely by himself (under my supervision.) His egg-cracking ability has come along in spades and it’s lovely to observe his burgeoning kitchen confidence.

This is a standard recipe in our household and they are very good. The sour cream moistens the muffins and contributes towards a tender crumb and light golden exterior. They are tangy, creamy and moreish. The only thing that will be be left is the muffin wrapper.

LEMON SOUR CREAM MUFFINS

WHAT YOU NEED
1/3 cup vegetable oil (we use grapeseed)
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 eggs, 70g
Zest and juice of one medium size lemon (roughly 1 tbl of zest and 1/4 cup lemon juice. If I have extra lemons, I will often add another tbl of zest. We love ‘mega lemon’ flavour)
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup wholemeal plain flour
1 tbl baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven to 200C and place your muffin papers in a muffin tin or on a baking tray. I will often give the muffin papers a light spray with rice bran oil spray to avoid sticking.
In a large bowl, combine the oil and sugar.
Add the eggs and mix well.
Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and sour cream and mix well.
Sift the flours, baking powder and salt into the bowl then fold in gently. Do not overmix or your muffins will be not as tender.
Fill the muffins papers about 2/3rds full and bake for about 15-20 minutes until they are risen, light golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
Eat them.

Makes 11-12 muffins depending on the size of your muffin papers

Slightly adapted from a recipe from Jens Favorite Cookies blog, link to original recipe follows.

Lemon Sour Cream Muffins