Author Archives: bakedinpretoria

Blizzards, cabin fever and pretzel sandwiches

20cm of snow! Apparently it isn’t a lot of snow at all, but for a couple of Southern Hemisphere natives, and recent arrivals to the cold North American winters, 20cm might as well have been 2 meters of snow (and yes, we are still using metric units of measure here. As they say, baby steps when you are adjusting to something new). Luckily, even though we may not be as prepared as most, our local town council experiences snow on an annual basis, and was more than well enough prepared for what the worst winter in Canada since 2009 had in store. Okay maybe this part isn’t true, but it is certainly the most snow we have ever experienced, especially considering our recent snow experiences.

On the plus side, the stores managed to stay well enough stocked to support a little bit of baking to alleviate the cabin fever from being cooped up inside, which truth be told wasn’t necessary but probably just came about from our fear of venturing outside in -28C weather. But Africa breeds them tough, and even with our sun shine quota at an all time low, the LiveInBaker was still able to whip up:

Oreo Pretzel Sandwiches

Makes 24 pretzel sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces (113g) white chocolate
  • 18 Oreo cookies
  • 4 ounces (113g) low fat or full fat cream cheese, softened
  • 48 waffle pretzels

In an ideal world, we would turn the Oreo cookies into fine crumbs with the help of a blender – but since we don’t have one of those nifty gadgets, we had to manually crush the cookies until we had fine crumbs. Now any normal person would have a rolling pin at their disposal to do so, but our modestly stocked kitchen doesn’t have one of these so we used a wine bottle. Crushing the cookies manually takes some time, so keep working at it until you have fine cookie crumbs.

Mix your Oreo crumbs with the softened cream cheese and pop it into the fridge to firm up for about 30 minutes.

Remove your cookie cream cheese mix from the fridge and roll into 24 little balls (about 1-2 teaspoons each). Sandwich each little Oreo ball between two waffle pretzels until you have 24 sandwiches. Pop them in the fridge for an hour to firm up.

Melt the white chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave and dip each pretzel sandwich into the chocolate. Allow chocolate to set and store your white chocolate covered Oreo pretzel sandwiches in the fridge.

The original inspiration behind this recipe can be found here

The photos:

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BakedInPretoria: 2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report (unaudited) for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 1,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 3 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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A bare pantry, birthday cookies and the tumble dryer

Well that was an awkward silence. This feels like the first post in months (okay it actually is the first post in months – seems time flies when your having fun and drinking beer and of course moving across the world). So the blog has made the move with us to Canada from Pretoria in November, and the LiveInBaker has finally had some time amongst all the settling in, exploring, and getting dragged around by me taking in as much of the craft beer that can be found in our area as possible. However birthdays give rise to exceptions, and as such, this is the first BakedInPretoria post that hasnt been written in Pretoria, but rather comes to you from a cold and snowy Mississauga.

We arrived here with an empty pantry that would put even Mother Hubbard to shame – we have some basics in the fridge and pantry but certainly nothing that would be worthy of a birthday bake – and so the challenge was to find something to bake using what little was in the pantry, and not breaking the bank buying loads of ingredients. Might I add that all our bakeware, mixers and baking related kitchenware is sitting safely in storage somewhere in South Africa – and so challenge number two was to find something bake-able with the limited bakeware at the LiveInBakers disposal.

Now I wasn’t exactly privy to the LiveInBakers first attempt at baking here, instead being told that no I wasn’t in fact smelling anything to do with baking, and that I should calm down and go to sleep. Afterwards, once the cookies had been revealed, she had the following to say:

“First on my mind was to simply buy a box cake mix and ready frosting and throw together a birthday cake, but I wanted to make something a little more interesting than that. Maybe brownies using box cake mix but changing the ingredients around a little so that you have a dense, moist, gooey brownie – a little something like this
But I am embarrassed to say that we don’t even have a pan to bake the brownies in – but not to worry, another idea came to mind…ready-made cookie dough! With the help of the Pillsbury Dough Boy himself and a little inspiration from the recipe section, I decided to make:”

Birthday Cookies

Ingredients:

• 2/3 cup crunchy peanut butter (we always have peanut butter)
• ½ cup oats (our breakfast staple)
• 2 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 egg
• 1 roll of Pillsbury Choc chip cookie dough
• ¼ cup mini m&ms or chocolate chips
• ¼ cup raisins (we add these to our oats – cranberries/cherries/blueberries would work too)
• ¼ cup chopped salted pretzels (salted nuts would work well)
• 1 tumble dryer

Heat your oven to 350°F – yes our oven now works in Fahrenheit, but it’s about 180C. In a large bowl (now we don’t actually have a bowl, but do have a salad spinner, so it’s bowl was used) stir together the peanut butter, oats, oil and egg. Break up cookie dough and add it to peanut butter mixture. Add the m&ms, raisins and pretzels and stir until well mixed.

On ungreased baking sheets, drop heaped tablespoons of dough about 5cm apart. Press with fingers to flatten slightly.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and edges are just set (tops will not look done). Do not overbake. Cool for a few minutes until they are firm enough to handle and remove from baking sheets to cooling racks.

20130106-165533.jpg

Oh yes, and the tumble dryer, well the birthday cookies were a surprise and they needed to be put somewhere safe. There is no hiding place in this apartment – it is so small and absolutely every cupboard and drawer space is packed with our stuff. And so The LiveInBaker resorted to hiding the baked cookies (along with the other evidence in the form of leftover pretzels and m&ms) in the tumble dryer, knowing its the one place I was guaranteed not to look.

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Tag-team driving and Chocolate Chip Pretzel Squares

There are a number of ways young South African’s have come up with over the years to try to get home safe and sound after night out and having had one too many, pushing them just a little bit over the legal driving limit.

And no, just cause the glass you drink out of is 500mls, doesn’t mean that you can still only drink one glass of beer and still be below the limit.

I’ve heard of everything, from the thumb method, where the avid party goer, once in the car, grabs hold of the steering wheel and points both thumbs upwards towards the roof. The idea is simple, if you’re pointing both thumbs up, you’re going straight. Anywhere else and you’re in trouble.

Then there’s the sneak method, wherein the driver chooses to use back roads to avoid and sneaky police roadblocks, and sneaks stealthily (as if a Toyota Tazz can do anything stealthily) across the busier intersections.

And then, when things go really bad, and you’ve been caught by the infamous sneaky road-block, many people turn to their trusted “Fisherman’s Friend” breath mints, in the hope of fooling the breathalyzer.

The best method, obviously, is to ensure that you don’t go over the legal alcohol limit if you’re going to be driving, and while most people seem to get this correct, there are times when other plans are needed.

Hence our invention, the tag-team drive home.

The concept is simple, a quiet discussion as to who would like to drive from which event. In our case, a Craft Beer Festival held in the early afternoon for me, and a house-warming party in the late evening for the LiveInBaker. These happened to be on the same day, so there was much coffee being consumed between the events, as well as one hectic power nap.

It’s an almost fool-proof system, except for the hangover which comes early if you’re going to be the late night driver. But I’m sure that it is a lot less painful than a weekend spent in the local “Chookie” (prison).

Oh yes, there are also more tangible rewards, it means that the LiveInBaker volunteers to bake some pretty amazing treats to ensure there’s enough energy for the drive home:

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Squares

Ingredients:

For the squares:

  • 500ml flour;
  • 5ml bicarbonate of soda;
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt;
  • 170g butter, softened
  • 185ml brown sugar;
  • 100ml white sugar;
  • 2 large eggs;
  • 10ml vanilla extract
  • 375ml coarsely chopped pretzels;
  • 3 slabs of Albany (Dark) chocolate; chopped into chunks.

Topping:

  • 2 slabs of Albany chocolate, broken up;
  • 125ml cream;
  • 24 whole pretzel pieces.
Chocolate Pretzel Squares

This is the size I thought we should leave the square

Preheat your oven to 180C.  With waxing paper, line a 20 x 25 cm metal baking pan.
Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl.  With a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients.  Stir in the chocolate chunks and chopped pretzels. Spoon dough into the baking dish.

Chocolate Pretzel Squares

The cutting begins

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden and just set. Once done, transfer the pan to a rack and let it cool completely.

While cooling, you can get started on the topping or ganache.

Place chocolate in a glass Pyrex dish.  Heat the cream on the stove top until scalding (or bubbles from around the edge). Pour the heated cream over the chocolate, and cover with a lid. Leave it as is for 5 minutes, before stirring until well melted and combined.  Let it stand for another 10 minutes to thicken.

Chocolate Pretzel Squares

Busy choosing my piece

Pour over the top of your giant pretzel square and use a pallet knife to even out the ganache. Press the pretzels, evenly spaced, into the ganache. Leave it to set completely.

Once set, remove from the pan, and cut into 24 even squares, so that there is a whole pretzel in the middle of each square.

Take one and eat it for yourself, and once done, serve to everyone else.

Chocolate Pretzel Squares

This recipe was inspired by The Ginger Snap Girl, her blog is awesome so go check it out.

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Power to the People – Cherry and Chocolate Banana Loaf

Amandla!

Amandla!

Even in sunny South Africa, it is scary as to how reliant we have become on a consistent supply of electricity.

For a nation that prides itself on its ability to rough and enjoy it, you’d be amazed at how quickly panic sets in as soon as the power is cut-off. Okay to be fair, even the toughest of people will balk at the thought of facing 35C temperatures without even the smallest of working air-conditioners to take the edge off of it. And of course, it is perfectly acceptable to be brought to tears when your television cuts out due to a power outage right before a Brian Habana intercept try! But no one wants to face an Atterbury intersection, let alone Grayston, to be met by a set of blank traffic lights.

But as long as you can finish drinking all the beers before they get warm, you will make it through!

The LiveInBaker was recently busy with a boredom induced bake, when much to her horror, and with a very disappointing “click”, the kitchen was plunged into darkness. We were in the middle of another Eskom black-out.

But we were prepared for this, and with a swift and rather stylishly performed pull, the cover was removed from our outdoor gas braai, the valve was carefully opened, and two burners quickly lit, combining two of the best three words starting with B (or are there actually 4 words?) – Bake and Braai!

Cherry and Chocolate Banana Loaf – Braai’d

Ingredients:

  • 125ml butter;
  • 200ml brown sugar;
  • 3 bananas, mashed;
  • 180ml milk;
  • 2 extra-large eggs;
  • 500ml cake flour;
  • 3ml bicarbonate of soda;
  • 3ml baking powder;
  • 5ml vanilla essence
  • 100g dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped up;
  • 80g Maraschino cherries, chopped and dabbed dry with paper towel

Preheat your “oven” (or in this case gas braai) to 180C and Spray-and-cook a 10×20 cm loaf tin.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the mashed banana and mix lightly.

Beat the milk and eggs together, and sift the dry ingredients together.

Cherry and Chocolate Banana Loaf

The moment before the power outage.

Add the egg mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the dry ingredients. Make sure to mix well. Add the vanilla essence and fold in the chocolate and Maraschino cherries.

Turn the batter into the prepared loaf tin.

Normally you would then bake in the oven for around 1 hour.

However thanks to the wonder that is Eskom, the electricity cut out 5 minutes into said hour.

Cherry and Chocolate Banana Loaf

Yes, that is a gas braai in the background

However, the LiveInBaker’s abilities continue to amaze me, and as quick as a flash, she was out of the door and had the gas braai lit, with the 2 outside burners burning on a low gas setting, with the temperature gauge slowly creeping towards 180C. Before this moment I wasn’t even sure that she new where the braai was kept, let alone how to operate it.

Cherry and Chocolate Banana Loaf

Two slices for you and the rest for me!

Place the tin over the centre burner (so that you are cooking through induction and not direct heat), close the lid, and keep a close eye on your temperature gauge. When the top of the bread is golden brown and a testing skewer comes out clean, your banana bread is ready.

One tip we have learnt, is that you need to get the bread tin off the braai grid, as the grid itself gets hot and left the base of our banana bread a little bit more crispy than we would have liked. Next time we’ll put an inverted baking tin underneath the bread tin to get it away from this heat.

Cherry and Chocolate Banana Loaf

The finished loaf

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Beer, Braai, Bacon and Boerie – How we do Heritage Day

Sorry that you were not able to spend Braai Day with us. If you had, you would’ve had some damn good food. I’m sure your own Heritage Day celebrations where just “fine”. As fine as anything that doesn’t end with ice cream sandwiches can be!

I’m not posting any recipes this Braai Day, instead I am going to share some of my favorite recipes, spots in Pretoria giving you everything you need for a good braai, and a couple of photo’s of our exploits.

Beer and Bacon Mac and Cheese recipe courtesy of Simply Delicious

I buy my meat from Kings Meat Deli

Coals provided by some well-lit Charka Brickets

I get my Ice Cream from Royal Danish, which if you haven’t been there, is a real must! Even if you need to drive to Pretoria just to try it!

And for the photos:

‘n Lekker stukkie wors!

Getting the chicken espetada ready

Beer and Bacon Mac and Cheese

How did that sneak in there?

There at least has to be one healthy item on the table.

Royal English Toffee from Royal Danish

Closing braai day with ice cream sandwiches

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Heritage Day and celebrating the braai!

Everyone has traditions. Like in my family we believe in traditional medicine, which means that when we get a headache, we take a Disprin, because that is what we’ve done for generations.

On the 24th of September, South African’s celebrate Heritage Day, which means each South African gets to celebrate their own unique heritage. A lot of South Africans choose to do this by doing something that has become synonymous with being South African, and that is to crack open an ice-cold beer, and getting a “lekker stuk of wors” on the braai.

So in celebration of Heritage Day, here are some videos that celebrate the braai!

BraaiBoy breaks the current record for the longest braai

Know your wood from you wood with Jan and Neels

Ons gaan nou braai!” (which also explains the South African definition of “Now now”)

Bringing the girls to the braai

And have a look at my favorites from last year.

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Redemption and Soft Gooey Chocolate Cake

So the LiveInbaker has been forgiven.

Miraculously, some of the cake that the LiveInBaker made has survived a week (pushing a new record) and has made its way back to me.

Unfortunately, it made it back at the end of a day filled with an assortment of puddings, and so all I have been able to eat is a small square from the corner. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as this cake is so decadent, that not even the lowest of cholesterol levels can survive its assault.

But it is good enough that it can get even the most heinous of baking crimes forgiven.

Soft and gooey chocolate cake:

Ingredients:

  • 250g plain chocolate;
  • 225g unsalted butter;
  • 80g golden syrup;
  • 5 eggs;
  • 175g caster sugar;
  • 55g plain flour.

Preheat your oven to 150C. Spray and cook a 23cm springform cake tin and then base line (which is to cover the base of the springform tin with baking paper, not something a DJ would drop at a club).

Gooey Chocolate Cake

Ready for melting

Melt the chocolate, butter and golden syrup using a double boiler. Once melted allow it to cool a bit before stirring until smooth.

Gooey Chocolate Cake

Fight the temptation to eat it just yet

In another large bowl, stir together the eggs, caster sugar and flour until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture and pour into the prepared tin.

Bake for 25-30 minutes (the cake will have a slight wobble in the middle). Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool.

Gooey Chocolate Cake

Almost ready

Once the cake has chilled a bit, remove the sides of the springform tin but leave the cake on the base and chill for around an hour in the fridge. The LiveInBaker actually made this the day before it was needed, so we just left it on the kitchen counter for around 24 hours in an airtight container (once it was completely cool). This results in the best end product. It should be firm enough to slip off the base of the tin when ready.

Gooey Chocolate Cake

Ready for eating

As weird as it sounds, the cake is best served with sour cream. Don’t question it, just do it.

Warning, this cake is dense and decadent, so when serving, rather go for thinner slices than you might normally, or risk putting your guests into a mammoth food coma!

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Cherry Loaf and sleeping on the couch

All deals are off!

The LiveInBaker has committed a cardinal baking crime, and I’m not too sure whether I will be able to forgive her.

She didn’t fall victim to this absurd trend of baking everything “gluten free” (or as I refer to it, fun free), and no she hasn’t started using some sort of “healthy” artificial sweetener instead of sugar (though to be fair, she normally only uses brown or unprocessed sugar, no complaints there though). She did something far far worse!

The LiveInBaker baked, without letting me lick the bowl clean.

I know, I know, you are all thinking how I can let this go unpunished, and don’t worry I won’t!

Since Friday, all the toilet seats in the house miraculously stay up, and empty milk bottles are placed back in the fridge.

Not only that, but all the lids of all the jars in the kitchen have been closed that little bit tighter, and don’t even get me started on what is not happening with the empty toilet roll spindles.

Maybe I’m just upset, cause I missed out on an opportunity to taste:

Cherry Loaf:

Ingredients:

  • 150g margarine;
  • 625ml cake flour;
  • 10ml baking powder;
  • 2ml salt;
  • 100g glace cherries, halved (yes “plastic” cherries, I never said this was a fancy recipe);
  • 1 egg;
  • 5ml vanilla essence;
  • 125ml water;
  • 225g condensed milk (which is less than a can, which is awesome as someone has to finish what is left)
Cherries

Not so fancy, but they still taste good

Preheat your oven to 180C and spray-and-cook a 26×10 cm loaf tin. Line the loaf tin with baking paper and spray-and-cook again. Cream the margarine until light and fluffy. Sift the dry ingredients together and add the cherries.

Cherry Loaf

Ready for the oven

Add to the butter mixture, along with the remaining ingredients (whisk the egg before adding), and mix well. Turn the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for around 50-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Cherry Loaf

Just out of the oven

Allow to cool in the tin for a bit, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Cherry Loaf

The finished loaf

Now I might find it in my heart to forgive the LiveInBaker, but it would probably mean she would need to rebake this recipe, just for me, and yes I will be licking the mixing bowl clean afterwards!

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Doing Spring Day to taste – Lemon tart with berries

We might not have terribly cold winters here in Pretoria, but that doesn’t stop us celebrating Spring any more than any where else in the world. Picnics in the parks, outdoor concerts, and desserts that don’t use chocolate. Wait, seriously? If Spring means chocolate free puddings, maybe Winter isn’t so bad after all. Or maybe it just takes a really special dessert to convince me that not everything needs chocolate in it to be called a dessert.

So for Spring day the LiveInBaker decided to go for something a little bit lemony, a little bit tart, and all together pretty damn good:

Lemon Tart with fresh berries:

Ingredients:

For the pastry shell:

  • 150g cake flour;
  • 25g corn flour;
  • 40g icing sugar;
  • 90g butter;
  • 5ml vanilla essence;
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten.

For the filling:

  • 250g cream cheese;
  • Enough plain yogurt to thin cream cheese to desired consistency, around a quarter of a cup;
  • quarter to half a cup of lemon curd (done to your taste);
  • The grated rind and juice of one lemon (to taste);
  • 300 – 350g of mixed berries;
  • 1 table-spoon of icing sugar.

Sift the flour, corn flour and icing sugar together, then rub in the butter (don’t worry, I also don’t know what this means) until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Combine the vanilla and egg yolks, and then mix this into the crumbs to make a firm dough (you might need to add cold water if the mixture isn’t forming a firm dough).

The cling film stops the dough from sticking to the rolling-pin and counter top

Roll the dough out and line a 23cm round flan tin with it, pressing the dough up the sides. Prick the base with a fork (cover the entire base) and place in a fridge for 30 minutes.

Finishing lining the pastry tin

Preparing the tart shell for baking

Line the flan with baking paper and baking beans (or dried chickpeas for us). Place the tin on a baking sheet, and bake in a 200C oven for 20 minutes (turns out that blind baking is not in actual fact, baking while trying to keep both eyes on the rugby game), removing the paper and the beans for the last 5 minutes. Allow the pastry shell to cool completely before you start filling it.

Blind baking

Completed pastry shell

For the filling, cream the cream cheese, yogurt, lemon curd, lemon rind and lemon juice to your desired consistency and taste. We kept our quite tart.

Prepare your berries by washing and slicing the strawberries, and mixing it with 1 table-spoon of icing sugar. When you are ready to serve, fill the pastry case with your cream cheese mixture, and top with the sweet berries.

Decorating the tart with berries

You can either do the final preparation right before you serve, but you can also do this a couple of hours before. If you fill the pastry shell immediately before serving, the shell will remain very crisp and crumbly, and if you fill it a couple of hours before it will soften the shell a bit, but it won’t lose it biscuit like quality.

The completed tart, giving chocolate a run for its money

Drinking with this recipe:

We were drinking white and  rosé wine with this recipe, which, based on how the morning after felt, is not something I would like to remember.

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