Monday, 27 June 2011

Daring Bakers' June 2011 - Baklava

Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

I don’t enjoy baklava very much as I find it a bit too sweet but as it was my first challenge I wasn’t going to say no. The word phyllo got me thinking and wondering if I even had tasted such a dough. It took me a couple of days to connect the dots and realise phllyo is actually FILO. It was such a duhh moment!

I wasn’t too keen on the filling and wanted to try a nut-free baklava and I ended up mixing sunflower seeds, to give a bit of texture, dried strawberries and chocolate chips. The result was satisfactory but I think I might stick to the original version in the future!

The phllyo dough was especially hard to deal with, but it is probably my fault as I don’t own a proper rolling pin. It wasn’t as thin as I would have liked it but ah well..

There are three essential parts to making baklava; the filling, the dough and the syrup.

Phyllo Dough 

185g all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
105ml water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon cider vinegar. I used malt vinegar

To make the dough, combine flour and salt. Add the water, oil and vinegar to the flour and mix until you get a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes and you will end up with a smooth, soft and almost elastic dough. Lightly cover the dough in oil and wrap it tightly in cling film. Leave to rest for 2 hours.

To roll the dough, use a chunk of dough as big as a golf ball. Make sure you flour your hands and counter thoroughly. Try and get the dough as thin as you can.

After each layer is rolled out, make sure you flour it excessively to ensure the next layer does not stick to it. (This was my mistake.)


50g Sunflower seeds
20g Dried strawberries
2 tablespoons of Chocolate chips
100g sugar
½ teaspoon allspice powder

Chop the sunflower seeds as finely as you can or if you have a food processor, pulse it on high until finely chopped. Combine with the rest of ingredients and set aside.


½ inch cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
150g water
100g sugar
150g honey
2 lemon slices
1.5 tablespoons lemon juice.

Heat the sugar and honey in a pan until the sugar has dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and let it boil for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain mixture. Allow to cool while the baklava bakes.

Putting the baklava together

As my phllyo layers were far from perfect, I decided I would hide its flaws but making baklava rolls instead. I followed this method and it was actually quite an enjoyable task. Oh, also remember to brush melted butter on each layer of the phyllo, another thing I forgot to do!

Bake at 150’C for 30 minutes, remove then cut the pastry to fit the specific size you want. Continue baking for another 30 minutes until the phyllo is brown and looks crispy. 

Once the baklava has cooled down, pour the syrup evenly over the top. Leave overnight as the syrup will absorb into the pastry, giving it a lovely texture.

Verdict :  I enjoyed making baklava but I think my next attempt will involve a more authentic flavour. I may also have to stick to store bought phllyo pastry..

Phyllo Dough on Foodista

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Mini Passionfruit Cakes

This is my little brother.  Who really isn’t very little anymore. Yes, he is a poser. He turns 22 on the 28th of June and yet again I won’t be home to celebrate his birthday with him. I’m hoping this post transcends the miles that separate me from home. 
We’ve always been close growing up but I think in the last 5 years we have bonded even more than before. I can always rely on him to bring me back to earth, to give me the advice I need to hear or just be a nag. He’s always managed to come across as the older one, intellectually as well as height wise! 

Here is a little secret, if you ever meet him, remember to slip in the word ‘smelly’ into the conversation and see the annoyance it causes him.

Ideally I should have dedicated a cheesecake recipe to him as it is his favourite cake but as he has developed a more adventurous palette over the last couple of years, I’m sure he’d appreciate these passion fruit mini cakes! 
Happy birthday little bro! Hope the coming year will be as memorable and as exciting as the last year has been. Lots of love big sis x

p.s. These mini cakes are perfect for a tea party or a tea time treat. The mixture of lemon and passion fruit gives the cake a tangy, light texture perfect for the summer.

Mini Passion fruit Cakes

Makes 8 mini cakes

Adapted from Modern Entertaining

Cake Ingredients
2 tablespoons passion fruit pulp (Roughly two fruits)
60g butter, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon rind, grated
55g caster sugar
1 egg
75g self raising flour
60ml plain yoghurt or buttermilk

Icing Ingredients
80g icing sugar
1 teaspoon milk

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. Grease the muffin tin or if using cupcake liners, line the tin holes. Strain the passion fruit pulp over a small bowl, separating the seeds and juice. Reserve them in different bowls.
  2. Beat butter, rind and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg. 
  3. Next, fold in flour, passion fruit juice and yoghurt. Spoon the mixture into muffin tin holes. These are mini cakes so each allocate two tablespoons of cake mixture per hole.
  4. The cakes need to be baked for about 15 minutes. Stand cakes for 5 minutes and turn, top side up, onto a wire rack to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, stir the icing sugar, milk and reserved seeds in a bowl until combined. Top the cooled cakes with icing and let it set until icing hardens.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Courgette Couscous Salad

As a student, this recipe made one of my staple meals for many reasons. It is quick to whip up, healthy (about 250 calories per serving!) and cheap. Couscous is also a versatile ingredient which works well with most other ingredients. 

This salad works well as a meal on its own or as a side dish. Tangy, flavourful and filling and all under 15 minutes. It is also perfect served hot or cold. 

Fun fact of the day.  Did you know half a courgette counts as one of your recommended five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetable?

Courgette Couscous Salad

Serves 2 as a main dish.


300g couscous
1 pint vegetable stock
2 courgettes, sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
Goat’s cheese or feta cheese
Juice of half a lemon

  1. Heat a pan and cook the courgettes and garlic. Drizzle the courgette slices with olive oil and season. Cook for a few minutes on both sides until softened. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Next prepare the vegetable stock and soak the couscous until all liquid is absorbed. Toss the cooked courgettes with the couscous and add the cheese. Finally add the lemon juice for a tangy finish.

Zucchini on Foodista

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Green Tea Cupcakes with Green Tea Frosting

I’ve pretty much had a week from hell and in attempt to plough on, I decided nothing can cheer me better than baking. 

Cheesy music, dancing in an empty flat and whipping up a cake.

Baking therapy. Word of warning though, it only works if you pull a baking success out of the bag. Baking failure will throw you back into the pit of despair you’re desperately trying to escape.

Anyway, moving on...

Green tea cupcakes are simply deliciously. The hint of woodiness that emits from the green tea powder blends perfectly with the sweetness of the cream cheese frosting.

Green Tea Cupcakes

Yields approximately 24 cupcakes


170g self raising flour
170g plain flour
225g butter, softened
450g sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons green tea powder


  1. Add both flours; stir to combine and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter until smooth and add sugar gradually. Beat until fluffy.
  2. Next add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  3. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over-mix. 
  4. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling about ¾ full. Bake at 180’ for 20 minutes.

Green Tea Cream Cheese Frosting 


200g cream cheese
110g butter
300g icing sugar (rough estimate)
Seeds from half a vanilla pod or 1teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon green tea powder

  1. Bring cheese and butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours.
  2. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl. Beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy and add half of the sugar, the green tea powder, and the vanilla. Beat until combined. 
  3. Gradually add remaining sugar (more if you have to) until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.