The last week I have been busy, busy in our little kithcen practising baking and making jams. I've felt like a right housewife and having a ball!
I have been doing lots more also, like checking out other people's blogs (I love doing that, especially at work, shhh!), thinking about the pedge I will make for this new (financial) year (have a look at Sam's here, we are going to encourage each other over the next 6 months), working of course, and getting ready to go to the flea market this Sunday!!! I am so excited to clear out all of our stuff, it's going to feel great driving home afterwards with (hopefully) an empty car boot. I'll update you about the flea market next week with lots of photos (warning: they won't be pretty, we have to be up at 4am!)
So here are some of my finished products:
My first bread baking experience turned out pretty well. I don't know how we will go replacing the bread we get from the shops, we like this bread so much we go through it much more quickly!! The aroma's that filled the house while I was baking the bread were so mouthwatering too, this is my second favourite thing about it. I've seen on a few blogs about making your own yeast, I definitely want to try that as it looks pretty easy and will help me in maximising things I can produce myself.
The jam above the bread is my first jam made by myself! Everyday I walk home from work I pass the neighbours FULL cumquat tree with all the fruit just going to waste. So the other weekend I went up to ask them if they minded if I took some to make some jam. I knocked and knocked on their door for about 5 minutes but no one answered, so what did I do? I very sneakily grabbed a whole bunch and creeped home! I didn't take too many that's why there's only about half a jar. I have this great old preserving book that I picked up from the Lifeline Bookfest the other week (absolutely loved the Bookfest, we got over $100 worth of books, and thats a lot because they were soo cheap!) and copied the recipe very diligently. Next time though I won't cook the jam for so long because it's pretty hard/set.
I baked this mandarin cake after seeing it on Rhonda's down to earth blog here. So so easy to make. I was going to make the orange cake that Rhonda made but this is why I couldn't:
Eww gross I know, and I only had two mandarins left but they did the job wonderfully! I have never really needed a food processor before. Weird I know but I have made do with our blender or beaters. But with this recipe I really needed the processer to mix up all of the mandarin into a mushy mess so I could mix in the flour, etc. So I had to think a bit laterally. First I tried the old faithful blender. But all of the mandarin just stuck to the outside in big clumps, barely processed at all, just out of reach of the thrashing metal blades. I was pretty stumped after that and was searching in my cupboard knowing a food processer would be oh so handy right then. Then I stumbled across my large Breville juicer that was hiding in the back of my cupboard (don't use it nearly as much as I should, when I have fruit trees it will be a different story!). And bingo, problem solved! I fed the mandarins through the juicer and then put all of the fleshy parts (that are normally thrown out when you juice) and the juice that came out of the spout into a mixing bowl and added the other ingrediants.
While my mandarin cake was cooking, I started on a batch of orange marmalade. Because it was only an after thought and this was a Sunday I hadn't soaked the skin and seeds in water over night to release the pectin. I have now realised I just need to follow recipes and not get so cocky thinking I know what I'm doing. Even after cutting up the rind and adding it and the seeds to my cheesecloth and have it cook with the flesh of the orange and grapefruit for over an hour the result was more of a syrup than a marmalade, because of the lack of pectin released I'm assuming. So I continued to jar it up and when it cooled I tasted it and it was terrible! The grapefruit flavour had taken over the entire jam/syrup and it was extremely tart. I've left it sitting in jars on my bench for a week now thinking about what to do with it. I am now thinking I will re-heat it all back up and add in some apple and passionfruit for sweetness, and some SOAKED orange rind and seeds for the pectin to help it set a bit more. Hopefully I can save it. I will update you on how it turns out.
Here are my finished products. Look at all that jam I have to 'fix'! You can tell I was overly eager to get the icing on while the cake was still a bit warm, it ran all over the sides of the cake and underneath it. It still tasted yummy though!
So some lessons learned from this baking experience:
- Just follow the recipe - no Kim you don't know what you're doing, stop being so stubborn and just follow that darn recipe!
- Grapefruit is gross. Period.
- To make the cake cool down more quickly (so you can get ice it and eat it more quickly) put it in the freezer for a little while !! Hehe