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Lemon Curd

Whenever I make lemon curd, it doesn’t last long enough for me to take a decent picture. That’s a testament to its deliciousness, I suppose. This is good on everything. Seriously.

A note about the quality of your fruit – the lemons should be just past ripe, firm with a bit of give and if you want to be the freak in the grocery store sniffing the produce, they should smell, well, lemony. I’m all for being frugal, but don’t cheap out on the lemons in this case or you’ll end up with an inferior end result.

Recipe from Odlums, with my own observations thrown in. I’ve tried others and ended up with something resembling lemon taffy. Not cool.

Ingredients

3 egg yolks, beaten

125g caster sugar

The zest of 2 lemons (just the yellow part, no underlying white rind)

1/3 cup of lemon juice (2-3 lemons, or if you’re just shy with the juice of 2, add a bit of water)

50g butter

  • Melt the butter over a low heat and add the sugar, juice and zest.
  • Whisk in the egg yolks and continue whisking for 1-2 minutes for a light texture.
  • Once the sugar has dissolved, stir with a wooden spoon. The curd is done once the mixture coats the back of the wooden spoon without dripping off. This usually takes 6-8 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and strain into a bowl while still hot to remove the zest (or leave it in if you swing that way).
  • It should be a bright, vibrant yellow and still liquid while hot. It will thicken as it cools into a gel-like curd.
  • Once cooled, transfer to an airtight container (or old jam jar in my case) and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
  • Goes well with pancakes, rice cakes, yoghurt, buns, porridge, muffins, toast…you get the idea.

I am not vegan, nor do I possess an ice cream maker, but here we are, with something resembling a frozen vegan-friendly dessert. Before we go off gallivanting, you are going to need a blender/food processor. I have no concerns about eating animal products but I do try to eat well and this is a truly guilt-free treat without consisting of chemicals, air and pixie dust (the primary ingredients in Coke Zero, I assume).

You’ve probably seen this floating around the web, I first saw it on xoJane. This is a really simple way to have fresh ice cream at home and if you happen to have some extra bananas that are past their best, even better! Plus it’s one of those recipes that’s entertaining in its scientific makeup. It’s as mind-blowing as honeycomb!

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Ingredients (makes roughly enough to serve 4 large scoops):

2 over-ripe bananas

One or two tablespoons of water (or milk/soymilk).

Optional: Peanut butter, maple syrup, honey, nuts, chocolate chips, etc.

  • Peel and chop your bananas into 1-inch chunks. Freeze in a single layer until frozen solid, at most an hour and a half (if you leave them overnight, you’ll probably need to leave them out for ten minutes to soften a little).
  • Blend the banana chunks. This will be LOUD. My blender sounded like it was in pain. After a few minutes the pieces will combine into a creamy mass.
  • Regularly scrape the edges of the bowl so that you don’t end up with lumps. If the bananas don’t seem to fully come together, add enough liquid so that they resemble soft-serve ice cream.
  • Add any extras you like, I used a bit of golden syrup for some sweet flavour.
  • You can eat it at this stage but I recommend returning it to the freezer in a sealed container for more scoopable ice cream (scoopable is so a word).

Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

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More likely known as Tiger Bread, this was my first time using yeast. The version I made was a soft white bread with the crunchy, rice flour topping. It was certainly interesting. I was like a child on Christmas morning when I discovered my dough had actually doubled in size. Oh the wonder! Hopefully you can manage to be much cooler than me if you decide to make this.

As for the sandwich part, does eating it with white chocolate spread count? How about lemon curd? I baked it on Saturday night and it didn’t stick around long enough to give me a chance to make a proper sandwich! Anyway, it tasted most amazing with just a bit of butter, while still a tad warm.

Ingredients (makes 2 loaves).

For the bread:

One 7g pack active dry yeast

60ml warm water

240ml warm milk

20g sugar

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

300g to 600g plain flour

For the topping:

Two 7g packs active dry yeast

240ml warm water

30g sugar

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

240g white rice flour

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  • Combine yeast, water, sugar and milk and let sit for five minutes.
  • Add sunflower oil, salt and 300g of the flour. Gradually add more flour until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.
  • Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  • Combine all the topping ingredients in a large bowl and beat until smooth and thick. Let this stand for 15 minutes.
  • Again on a floured surface, shape your dough into loaves, being careful not to handle it too much. Cover with plastic wrap and let them sit for 15 minutes. Then spoon the topping onto your loaves and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown with a cracked top. If you tap them, they should sound hollow.
  • Allow to cool slightly (I don’t expect you to wait until they’ve gone cold!) and enjoy.

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100g caster sugar
3 tablespoons golden syrup
1 and a half teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

Mix sugar and syrup in a heavy-based saucepan.
Over a medium heat, melt and bring to the boil until a deep golden colour, this should take 2 to 4 minutes.
Remove from the heat, whisk in the bicarbonate and quickly pour onto a lined tray.
Leave to set for 20 minutes, drizzle with chocolate if desired.

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Look, I don’t even know what to call this. It’s a hybrid, a mash-up of brownie, cake and chocolate biscuit cake. With Oreos. I can’t even describe it. Obviously I’m just trying to kill myself with calories. It tastes good though! I’ve made it twice, it was a big hit with my little brother.

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A word of warning, watch this while it bakes. My oven seemed to have a vendetta against the poor cake, the cooking time and temperature in the original recipe were way off for me. Not gonna lie, it was a bit burnt. Slow and low is the best approach, if the top is fully cooked before the middle is done just cover it with some tinfoil and check periodically. Oh, and don’t even attempt to put mini marshmallows on top before you put it in the oven – you’ll end up with rocks. As any baker/cook knows, all ovens are different and that can be a right pain! If you do make this, let me know how it goes.

I happened to use this recipe to make a birthday cake but obviously it can also be made in a square tin for a more brownie-like offering.

Recipe tweaked from this lovely blog.

Ingredients (makes enough for one 9inch round cake)

125g dark chocolate

170g butter

200g sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 packet of Oreos (about a dozen), crushed

125g plain flour

100g chocolate chips

A handful of mini marshmallows (or regular ones chopped up). We’ll say half a regular-sized pack.

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  • Preheat your oven to 160°C (for a fan oven, adjust your own accordingly). Line your baking tin with greaseproof paper.
  • In a bowl over a pot of simmering water (you know, the poor man’s double-boiler), melt the chocolate and butter. Remove from the heat once they’ve melted together. While this mixture is melting combine your eggs and sugar. Add the melted chocolate/butter to the egg/sugar.
  • Add the vanilla and the flour.
  • Add in two thirds of the chocolate chips, Oreos and marshmallows, stirring well so that they’re evenly distributed.
  • Pour the batter into your prepared tin and top with the remaining Oreos and chocolate chips.
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes, checking from about half an hour on. When a toothpick or sharp knife comes out clean, add the rest of the marshmallows and put back into the oven for 2-3 minutes, until the marshmallows have melted.

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Recipe adapted from Operation Transformation’s Chicken and Parsnip Casserole.

It’s almost the middle of March but it still feels like Winter outside, so what could be better than a warm, filling savoury yet sweet dinner like this?

The recipe is based on a dish from the Operation Transformation show on RTÉ – the nutritionist on the show seems to be a big fan of sweet potatoes and they’ve been substituted in the place of parsnips in this dish, so I’m sure this fits in line with their healthy eating guidelines.

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 chicken breasts, cut into large chunks

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

300g shallots, peeled (obviously enough)

2 cloves garlic, diced

300ml chicken stock

2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons honey

Salt and pepper, to season

  • Preheat your oven to 180ºC (for a fan oven , adjust yours accordingly) and heat some olive or sunflower oil in a pan.
  • Over a medium heat, fry the chicken and garlic until the chicken has browned.
  • Add the shallots and fry until soft (about 2 minutes).
  • Combine the stock with the mustard, seasoning and two tablespoons of the honey.
  • Place the chicken, sweet potato and shallots in a large baking dish and add the stock mixture.
  • Cover with tinfoil and bake for 35 minutes. Stir half-way through. Drizzle the remaining honey over the dish, stir and continue cooking for a further ten minutes. The chicken should be tender and juicy and the sweet potato should almost fall apart when pierced with a fork.
  • Serve steaming portions on a chilly evening and marvel at how sweet and tender it is.

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The February Daring Baker’s challenge was to make any kind of quick bread that you wanted. I chose to make a basic sweet bread and my God, this was delicious. Really great comfort food with a mild and sweet flavour, it was so good eaten on its own or toasted with some honey.

The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lisa stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles. (Those are the blog-checking lines, we all know I don’t write that politely.)

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You should make this, seriously. I say that about a lot of recipes, but only about the worthwhile ones, I promise. This recipe has two parts, the bread itself and a glaze. It doesn’t take any longer than an hour and fifteen minutes, tops. It’s a simple (lumpy-on-purpose) batter that makes for a soft and crumbly hybrid of a bread/cake creation. Definitely a brunch-type recipe, or something to go with a nice cup of tea. I’ll stop raving now and give you the damn recipe, that’s what you’re here for after all.

Ingredients (makes one standard 9”x5” loaf)

2 cups/250g cream flour

1 cup/225g granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 large egg

1 cup/240ml buttermilk (or regular milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, let sit for 10 minutes)

1/4 cup/60ml mild oil such as sunflower oil

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 tablespoon honey

For the glaze: 1/3 cup/35g icing sugar and 1-2 teaspoons of milk, with 1 teaspoon of honey.

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  • Preheat oven to 180ºC. Grease and line a loaf tin.
  • Sift the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl whisk together the wet ingredients.
  • Make a well in the centre of the dry mix and pour in the wet. Stir until just combined (literally, this is important). The batter will be thick and lumpy with streaks of flour.
  • If you want to add nuts or fruit, do so at this stage.
  • Bake in your prepared tin for 40-50 minutes, depending on your oven. It’s done when risen and browned, a skewer or thin knife should come out clean. If the top is browned before the middle is fully baked, cover with tinfoil and continue baking until done.
  • While the loaf is cooling, mix your glaze. Slowly add the milk to the icing sugar until you reach the consistency you want (personally I like it to be thin so that the glaze sinks through the loaf).
  • While the loaf is still warm, poke small holes throughout to allow the glaze to drizzle through (I use a piece of uncooked hard spaghetti for this, works well!). Pour the glaze over and once it’s set, enjoy the comforting charm of some warm quick bread.

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