The Cinnamon Scroll Challenge

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I’m back!! Finally! It has been a while and a fair bit has changed but I am so excited that I am once again doing something that I really enjoy. Recently, I had a bit of a lightbulb moment where it occurred to me that there were a few things that I was doing in my life that didn’t make me happy, and a fair few things that I loved, but for some reason had stopped doing. So here I am, back to writing about my cooking escapades and I couldn’t be more excited. To celebrate this epiphany of mine I decided to give myself a little challenge in the kitchen and test out the Great Australian Bake-Off’s Cinnamon Scrolls, only this time they would be FODMAP friendly.

What is FODMAP you may ask? Well about a year ago I started an elimination diet to work out my food intolerances which were wreaking havoc on my daily eating. I discovered the low FODMAP diet, which is essentially a diet suited to people who have trouble digesting certain molecules including Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols (for more information visit  http://shepherdworks.com.au/disease-information/low-fodmap-diet/). But more to come on that later. At the end of the elimination process I found that I have trouble with lactose, wheat, fructose, garlic/onion and legumes. So it’s safe to say that my cooking has had to adjust accordingly!

But you don’t need to eat boring things and thats what I’ll hopefully show you with these tasty Scrolls! I made mine gluten free and also halved the recipe as it was a bit of an experiment but I think that it worked out pretty well!

IMG_7264GABO Cinnamon Scrolls (my Gluten free version)

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 1 x 7g sachet dried yeast
  • 275ml warm milk (not too hot or it will kill the yeast, you are aiming for body temperature, if you put your finger in and it doesn’t feel hot or cold, it is perfect)
  • 1 egg
  • 450g gluten free plain flour (plus extra for rolling)
  • 25g of gluten substitute
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted (and cooled slightly)
  • 1 cup of sultanas

Filling

  • 50g butter
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar

Icing

  • 2 cups of icing sugar (sifted to remove any lumps)
  • 20 – 30ml  strong espresso coffee (or dissolve instant)

Sugar syrup

  • ¼ cup of caster sugar dissolved in 2 tablespoons of boiling water

Method

  1. To make the dough,  warm your milk in a large bowl and then dissolve the yeast. Beat in the egg. Once combined, add the flour, gluten substitute, sugar and salt, and then the melted butter and mix until it is all combined. I used an electric mixer with a dough attachment. Then cover the mix with cling wrap and leave for 10 minutes. Add the sultanas and mix again, before covering.
  2. Let the dough rest for another 10 minutes before giving it a third mix.
  3. Now it’s time to leave the dough to rise by at least half for about an hour in a warm part of your kitchen. I put mine on top of the oven which was warming below.
  4. Meanwhile make your filling; soften the butter to a spreadable consistency and add the cinnamon and brown sugar and mix until dissolved. Set aside until needed.
  5. After the dough has risen by at least half, place the dough onto a floured work surface  (be generous because it can be quite sticky) and roll it out into a large rectangle about 1cm thick. Brush the cinnamon filling evenly over the dough, making sure that every bit of the top is covered.
  6. Working from the longer side, roll the dough tightly into a long log. Cut into 3cm “wheels” and place these in the baking tray (with the inside of the log facing up so you see the filling/scroll pattern). Each scroll should be almost touching the next. IMG_7258
  7. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise until they have almost doubled (about 30 minutes).
  8. Preheat the oven to 200C fan forced (220C). Once the scrolls have risen, bake for about 20-25 minutes until they are golden.IMG_7260
  9. While the scrolls are still warm, brush them with the sugar syrup and then set aside to cool. While they are cooling, make the icing by combining the icing sugar with the coffee. Add a little of the liquid at a time until you get the consistency you want (I wanted mine nice and thick so I only used a small amount of liquid)
  10. Once the scrolls have cooled, drizzle the icing on top and serve.IMG_7262

These can be frozen (if they last) but make sure you put them in an airtight container.

Happy Baking!

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Macarons with the Master…Adriano Zumbo

ImageIf you’re a resident of Sydney (or maybe even Australia) then you’ve probably heard of Adriano Zumbo. For those of you that haven’t though, Zumbo is like Australia’s answer to Heston Blumenthal. Essentially, he made the humble French Macaron a household name here in Australia, opening several cafes throughout both Sydney and more recently Melbourne. His specialties include desserts and pastries, but not just your humble croissant or mousse cake, no Zumbo is famous for his experimental flavours and whacky combinations! He has always been a great favourite of mine as a chef, I think mostly because his recipes are quite complex but always look spectacular and as a result, I always want to conquer the challenge. Recently, he started a cooking school at his Rozelle premises and I was lucky to receive a class for Christmas!!  

So off I went, feeling slightly nervous at the prospect of meeting a culinary icon but also at the thought of having to successfully cook macarons in front of him! Now to be honest I have made macarons many many times before and each time to a varying level of success. I have come close to perfection quite a few times, but when attempted with the same recipe a second time, I sadly fail. Whether its French meringue or Italian, these things have a mind of their own! As a result I couldn’t successfully tell you which recipe is best or even how to make them properly to guarantee success. Despite that though I (of course) keep on trying (even though every time it ends in disaster I promise myself Never Again!)  

When I arrived I was directed to a room above the Rozelle Cafe (where you can watch the chefs at work while you fill your belly with delicious sweets) where I met the rest of my class. Altogether there were 12 of us, all women except for one brave man and I was quite surprised to hear that some of the group had travelled from inter-state just to take the class! There’s dedication! We received our recipe book and an apron before heading into Zumbo’s test kitchen, where the class would take place.

 

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The room itself was quite large (particularly considering it was sort of like one mans office) and filled with all kinds of equipment. Four moveable benches were set up down the centre of the room and the ingredients were placed on a side bench. We all washed our hands before finding a place at a bench with two others who we would be working with. Co-incidentally I found my way to a bench with two lovely ladies who were also school teachers! Needless to say team teacher worked very well together throughout the day! Then it was time to meet Adriano, who I must say is very very lovely and slightly shy. But a master none-the-less. He explained that each bench would make two flavours of macarons (about 60 macarons of each flavour) and then at the end we would split them all up amongst us. We would start with each group making their fillings, requiring us to measure out the specific ingredients that we needed. It was very much like being in a real kitchen. Everything was available to us but it was up to each group to collect their specific ingredients, in the right quantities as well as with the right equipment. I really liked that actually, as it felt more independant. It wasn’t like someone had measured it all and set it all out in front of me, but more similar to a real cooking environment at home. It seemed more realistic in the end, although I think some people were a little shocked that we got free range. 

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Adriano instructed each group as to what flavours they would be making, with all the recipes included in our cookbooks. My group would be making Lavender Macarons and also Chocolate which excited me greatly as I have never made either of those flavours! And then it was all systems go! The kitchen tentatively started moving into a whirring pace, with everyone moving about collecting what they needed. Our group didn’t have too much to collect incidentally, as our fillings were quite simple (that and we were an excellent group if I do say so myself!) so we finished quite quickly.

Adriano then explained that whilst there were instructions in our cook books, he also wanted to show us different ways/processes to achieve the same filling so he wouldn’t necessarily be going off the written recipe. At this point I got my pen ready, I didn’t want to miss a second. He then worked with each group individually to demonstrate how to create the fillings. This part was really fun as we got to be involved but also learn how to create wonderful flavours with relative ease. Most of the recipes involved a ganache base, with additional things incorporated for variation. My favourite was the rice pudding, which (believe it or not) required the group to make a beautiful creamy rice pudding and mix it with a white chocolate ganache. All the while we also received little tips and tricks, my favourite being to keep the vanilla bean pod once the seeds are scraped, the dry it out in the oven and grind it up to a fine powder. This can then be used in recipes for a more intense flavour with hints of coffee! Adriano also reminded us that its the filling that makes a difference!

Once all the groups fillings were made we moved onto the shells. This was the bit I was most interested to see as this is where I always feel most uncertain. Adriano demonstrated how to make a beautiful vanilla shell which was actually so simple to make. I was really surprised! It was fantastic because I was able to iron out some of the uncertainties that I had about it and also see the consistency of a correct mixture (which is a lot more fluid then I have always thought). Overall I feel that what I am missing is the use of an electric thermometer for precise measure and also the non-stick mat that we used when piping it out.

ImageAgain it was time for us to take the reigns and move onto the making! We broke off into our groups and set about following our recipes. Everyone was working away in their teams, adding egg whites here and heating sugar there, it was so much fun! And then within a matter of moments we were all done and they looked great! I really couldn’t believe that we had done what we did so successfully. Sadly they still had to cook and form the foot so the proof of success was still yet to come. We left them to rest and form a skin while we sat down to lunch!

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Whenever I go to these cooking classes I am always surprised at the fact that we get lunch, not to mention the beautiful food that was on offer. We had two salads (a Greek salad and a chicken pesto pasta salad) and then a choice of two Quiches. Mmm yum!! it was fantastic! I would of had more but I didn’t want to look like a piggy. There was also a beautiful coffee machine inside the kitchen which we were able to use at any stage throughout the day!

ImageAfter lunch we re-entered the room to find our benches covered with beautifully cooked macarons! Everyone was so surprised by the level of success! Not one group had any dodgy ones! Fantastic! We paired the shapes up and then started to fill them all and wow, it was such a feeling of excitement for me! I finally succeeded in making proper macarons! Yes! 

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Each group then plated up 6 of their best for a photo opportunity and they all looked spectacular. I loved the range of colours and flavours! One of the ladies asked for a photo with Adriano, which was possibly a mistake as then we all wanted one. I was clever enough to remember my cookbook which he very nicely signed. Seriously, he was so lovely and nothing was ever a trouble!

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The last part of the day was the best! We each received a box and then were let loose to collect whatever we liked and wow did we all take home a lot of macarons! Check out my box, I couldn’t close the lid!

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Overall, I had the most wonderful day and would gladly do another class! I highly recommend this class to anyone who has a love for baking, trust me, you won’t be disappointed!!

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Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream

Today marks the start of my Easter Baking preparations and the first thing on my list is Vanilla Ice Cream! To make this recipe I use an ice cream machine but I have heard of people using a still freezing method (where you alternate between freezer time and beating with an electric mixer). Believe it or not, my machine is from Aldi (yep good old Aldi!) and cost me about $50! One of the best pieces of machinery that I have ever bought I feel. Anyway, what is great about home made ice cream is that it is surprisingly simple to make but tastes a thousand times better then the store bought kind. The recipe below is a basic vanilla recipe but you could alter and flavour it in any way that you liked. I’ve made a cookies and cream flavour by adding smashed Oreo cookies during the freezing process. Either way, you won’t be disappointed by the rich, creamy, silky results. For Easter, I plan to serve this with self saucing chocolate puddings with a salted caramel surprise centre! The recipe will be posted early next week! The ice cream will keep in the freezer for ages (making it great for entertaining as you can get it out of the way early) or at least as long as its resisted by you and your family!

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Enjoy and Happy Baking!

You’ll Need:

1 cup Milk

2 cups Cream

1 Vanilla Bean (seeds scraped)

6 Egg Yolks (freeze the whites to use for meringues or Macarons)

2/3 cup Caster Sugar

What I did:

1. Heat the milk, cream and vanilla bean seeds in a saucepan over a medium heat until its hot (but not boiling). Test it by putting your finger into it, if its just too hot to touch then its ready. Remove from the heat

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2. Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl and whisk until thick and pale in colour. Slowly add the hot cream mixture, whisking continuously.

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3. Pour the mixture back into a saucepan and stir over a low heat for four minutes or until the mixture is thickened slightly (you can test this by coating the back of a spoon with the mixture and drawing a line through it with your finger. It should leave a clean path). 

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(Notice how it coats the back of the spoon evenly and has a rich, creamy consistency)

4. Transfer to a container or tray and refrigerate until chilled. 

5. Pour the mixture into an ice cream machine, following the manufacturers instructions until it is firm, then freeze until ready to serve.

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Enjoy!!