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Rino Saffioti makes the best chocolate sorbet in Sydney.

Cow and the Moon were recently named the world’s best gelato makers, but nothing beats Rino’s chocolate sorbet. And because I’m a demanding pain-in-the-butt, they very kindly top it with homemade chocolate shavings and caramelised Piedmont hazelnuts for me…

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Baby M is the cutest little girl in the world.

She sat on our driveway and tried to make bubbles last week, by blowing through her nose…

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Baked goods improve exam performance. Chocolate helps too.

I’ve been baking and tempering for our young friends Rory and Alex as they study for their end of school exams. They assure me that it’s helping…

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Luca is going to be a famous fashion designer one day.

I gave him some Sheridan sheeting scraps I’d found at Reverse Garbage years ago, and he turned them into this shirt…

Note the perfectly straight stripes!

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There IS such a thing as a free lobster.

Two, in fact. My neighbour Liz ran out of freezer space and gave me her Costco lobsters. We made speedy mayo and Cuban bread today and enjoyed them for lunch…

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Life is always brighter with a new enthusiasm.

This month I’ve been learning to pipe buttercream flowers. This is my second attempt at hydrangeas following Rosie Cake-Diva’s YouTube tutorial

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Practice makes better.

Not perfect, but better. I’m still working on my roses…

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 Rocky Road should be made with dark chocolate.

This batch also had roasted hazelnuts, cranberries, glace ginger and marshmallows…

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What bold statements are you making today?

Did any of you read the title of this post and think of bagpipes? No? Sometimes I worry about the way my brain works…

Anyway…remember the rubbish attempt I made at cake decorating recently when I ended up with a volcano? Not just any volcano either, as my husband very kindly pointed out, but a “school science experiment one”.

So I decided I needed practice. I spoke to my wonderful friend Dotti who told me to start with a Wilton 1M piping nozzle and buttercream roses. A quick visit to Iced Affair (fabulous shop in Camperdown – Lorraine wrote about them here) and I had two tips (1M and 1F) and some primary gel colours…

Now I’m not a fan of cupcakes, but I figured they were the best foil for my fledgling attempts with a piping bag, so on the weekend I baked 31 of them. The first batch were made using our yoghurt cake recipe

I found Rosie Cake-Diva’s fabulous tutorials on YouTube, including this one for buttercream…

 

It uses…

  • 250g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 500g sifted icing sugar mixture (confectioner’s sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

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I watched her tutorial on buttercream roses three times before attempting them…

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Two-tone roses were probably a bit ambitious to start with, and I did end up with frosting everywhere. Nonetheless, after a few attempts, I was able to make this…

The 1F nozzle was great fun to play with…

The following day, I made chocolate cupcakes. The frosting on these didn’t hold up nearly as well for piping, but it was good practice nonetheless!

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t really like cupcakes, but thankfully the neighbours were happy to eat most of them. I still haven’t figured out how to prevent the edges of the roses from going raggedy – can anyone give me advice on that? Thanks! ♥

Inspired by Jamie Oliver’s new series Comfort Food, we made burgers for dinner last week (his original recipe is here). We made a simpler version, omitting the mustard and bacon.

A couple of notes:

The brioche buns were a riff on our sweet dough recipe – I halved the sugar and used lard in place of the butter to give them a more savoury note. They were shaped into twelve rolls, flattened slightly, then spritzed with water and topped with sesame seeds before baking. Here’s the revised ingredients list, instructions are here:

  • 1kg bread/bakers flour
  • 20g dried/instant yeast
  • 14g fine sea salt
  • 40g caster (superfine) sugar
  • 120g lard
  • 4 large (59g) eggs
  • 500g full cream milk, at blood temperature, or UHT milk, unrefrigerated

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For the sauce, we blitzed together a half batch of speedy mayo with a chipotle chilli (in adobo), a little Worcestershire sauce and a couple of tablespoons of semi-dried tomatoes in oil. This was mixed with chopped garden lettuce and spread over the buns under the patties.

Best burgers we’ve ever made! We’re really enjoying both the tv series and the Comfort Food cookbook. I only wish Jamie would release his cookbooks in Kindle format!

I was chatting with the lovely Marisa at Rino Saffioti’s Chocolate Shop last week. She was very interested in our crumb cake recipe and wondered if a gluten-free version might work.

I decided to experiment with some White Wings GF Self-Raising flour (note the claim at the bottom of the bag that it “bakes just like regular flour)…

I made the cake following our recipe exactly, simply substituting the gluten-free flour for regular self-raising. It worked brilliantly!

There was only a slight difference in the texture – the gluten-free version was lighter than the original…

I took the cake down to Marisa’s shop and she popped it in her display cabinet. Apparently it sold well!

I’m going to bake another one of these and use the cake mixture to top a fruit crumble. We have so many gluten-intolerant friends these days – it’s nice to have new treats to bake for them!

Our last flock of chooks reminded us of Morris Dancers and Ninjas.

This lot are the Fat Fairies. They have lovely temperaments – the group is harmonious with very little squabbling. And with the onset of spring, they’ve been eating and laying like crazy.

As with all fairies, they’re hard to capture in photos – there were only seven unblurry shots out of the 132 I took yesterday…

All the surplus rainbow chard in the garden ends up here…

The fairies adore old sourdough…

They’re currently laying at their peak – we’re getting four to five eggs a day (which explains the frenetic cake baking of late)…

Last week, one brave hen laid a 105g egg! We couldn’t figure out who it was – no-one appeared to be walking funny that day…


It’s a long weekend here in Sydney, and the sun is shining!

Hope you’re all having a great weekend too!

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