Tuesday 11 December 2012

Baking in silicone

So... My gingerbread recipe turned out to be not so great, the dough was sticky as &^%#, and it baked very uneven. Trying another recipe soon, but till that time I have something else to show you.

At my work we sell all different kinds of silicone mats and bakeware, mostly from Silikomart. I already made some chocolates in silicone moulds, and baked cakes in silicone, but now Silikomart has these great Christmas-related molds for cookies as well. They've been giving me looks and whispering to me whenever I walked past the bakeware,  and last friday I finally got to try one out!

I was very sceptical, because.. How do you bake cookies in silicone? You're supposed to roll it out and cut shapes with cookie cutters or a glass. My gut told me this wouldn't work.

I ignored my gut, thankfully! You can definately bake cookies in silicone molds. Wanna see? The image is poor quality but..

There! A cookiehouse, baked in silicone!
Ofcourse I couldn't help myself, so I bought one of Silikomart's Christmasmolds for myself. Or maybe I bought two. I will show you soon! Meanwhile, check out Silikomart's other products here if you like.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Gingerbread madness

You probably noticed I'm Dutch, and in Holland we don't have that American Christmas-madness.
I so wish we did. But we don't.
While I'm typing this next to my Christmas tree, listening to christmas songs, Holland is all about Sinterklaas. It's not really acceptable to put up your tree yet, you put it up when Sinterklaas leaves, so you don't offend him. Sinterklaas is kind of a Dutch Santa Claus, it even sounds very similar. But he is not Santa Claus, mind you. Sinterklaas is also hundreds of years old and has a white beard, but he lives in Spain. Somewhere in november he sails to Holland on his 'pakjesboot', which means.. something like presentsboat? Together with all of his 'zwarte pieten', which basically means black Petes. During the end of november to the 5th of december those Petes climb up your roof, crawl down your chimney and put a sweets or presents in your shoe. But only if you've been a good kid, sing some Sinterklaas-carols while you put your shoe somewhere Pete can find it, and put something nice in there for Amerigo. Amerigo is Sinterklaas's horse. Oh, and Petes also throw around candy. Then, on december 5th, it's time for presents, and the day after that he gets back to Spain and edits his huge book, where all the children are listed as naughty or nice. Sound familiar?
Also, Sinterklaas isn't even named Sinterklaas. His name is Saint Nicolas, and his birthday was on the 6th, not the 5th of december. I don't even know why the old man lives in Spain, since he was born in Turkey.
I can tell this is all very confusing, even for me.

Let me sum it up:

  • Santa Claus has reindeer and a sleigh. Sinterklaas has a white horse that walks on roofs and a boat. Boring.
  • Santa Claus lives on the North Pole and has Christmas elves to help him make/gather/whatnot all the toys. Sinterklaas lives in Spain with black Petes to help him. Which a lot of people find racist. He also has a gunny bag which he supposedly puts bad kids in to take with him to Spain. Somehow he puts the presents in those same gunnies. Like I said: Confusing!
  •  Santa has a jolly red-and-white hat with a puffy ball on top. Sinterklaas wears the kind of hat the pope wears. Red with a yellow cross. I guess it makes sense, since he used to be a saint.
  • And you know what else? Santa is fat. Which makes him way cooler. Even though it is said that Santa Claus was derived from Saint Nicolas.
You can tell I'm a fan of Santa. I'm secretly hoping he'll make me Mrs. Claus one day, but I think he's monogamous. And maybe a little old for me.

This was not supposed to be a long story at all. I just wanted to talk about gingerbread houses.

I will carry on.

Since we have Sinterklaas and a lot of sweets especially for that event, we don't have gingerbread. We know gingerbread by name, and we have the cut-out cookieshape for the gingerbread boy, but I have never actually tasted gingerbread. Which takes me back on track.


I did actually want to make a gingerbread house, so I baked the parts of the house I wanted to build, and went ahead.
 You can tell it looks a little pale. That's because I used a regular sugar cookie recipe, Dutch as I am.

 I'm actually a little embarrased to put these up, since they look kinda messy.

I came to two conclusions while making these.
  1. They're messy. It would have worked 10 times better if I decorated half of them before putting them together.
  2. They are NOT gingerbread houses. They are sugar cookie houses.
Solution: make a new one. Or maybe two new ones. Or maybe just one and a shitload of gingerbread men.

So today I went through my cookbooks and a lovely place called google, and found a gingerbread recipe to make gingerbread dough!
There it is. 3 plaques of gingerbread dough. Just chilling in my fridge. 

I'm very excited to bake a real gingerbread house this time, and I will keep you posted on the results!

Friday 16 November 2012

'Tis the season to make chocolate

Today I made you guys some cute little christmas chocolates! I know it's a little early, but since I work at a cooking store that just got all their christmas stuff in, I just couldn't wait.

Here they are, aren't they just the cutest?

Want to know how to make them?

You will need:

  • A mold, I used one from Silikomart
  • Small microwave-safe bowl
  • Candy melts or colored chocolate.
  • Regular chocolate
  • A pencil brush
And most important: A very comfortable working place. You're going to sit still for quite a while, so make sure you don't end up with a cramped neck!

I used a small bowl to melt my candy melts, you don't need a lot. You could also use one of those candy melting trays. Which I don't have.
 For instance: this is all the green I used for the chocolates above.

For these chocolates I used green, red and black candy melts and regular white and milk chocolate.

When you're melting chocolate or candy melts in the microwave, make sure you take the bowl out every 30 seconds or so, and stir a little. Melt one color at a time, you even might need to reheat it halfway, since candy melts dry very fast!
Make sure every tool you work with is completely dry, because water and chocolate are not friends. Trust me, they're not.

Now just take your brush and paint away!
Though it's really more a matter of scooping chocolate 
on to your brush and spreading it where you want it.

As soon as you're done with one color it should look something like this:
pretty weird-looking huh?

When you're done with the first color, melt the second and fill everything in that needs that color, and so on. 
Save the real chocolate for the end, because candy melts dry way faster than regular chocolate. You can actually paint with the real chocolate if you want. 
I used my brush for the white chocolate, since I used it for some details, but the milkchocolate was piped on top at the end with a piping bag. I like to use the disposable ones, so you can get messy all you want and just trow it away when you're done. I did melt the milkchocolate au bain marie, real chocolate needs real tools.

When you're done filling the shapes with chocolate, tap the mold gently on your working surface, so any airbubbles that got in there can get to the top.
...And now we wait! If you're impatient like me, just pop 'em in the fridge. These christmas creatures can handle a little cold.

You probably want some close ups, I just know you do.
I actually JUST noticed these are supposed to be candy canes. How lame of me. 
Next time better color them red/white. I honestly had no idea.

 You can tell the left penguin is a little messy, my candy melts started to harden and I was too lazy to reheat them. Never be lazy. I also forgot to fill in the text on the right one. Oh well.

 Make sure your layers are thick enough, especially when you're using white chocolate underneath! I brushed quite a layer on this tree, but the white chocolate still managed to shine through. Bastard chocolate.

 Yay! Frosty!

 There's no christmas without Santa

Rudolph wishes you a nice day, byebye everyone!

Friday 2 November 2012

Vanilla cupcakes

Ever since I bought the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, I've been hooked. I haven't used a mix for cupcakes since. I always bake them from scratch, and I know the recipe by heart.
I do try different recipes, but when it comes to vanilla cupcakes I stick with this one.

It's perfect, it's fluffy, it's sweet.. It's meant to be shared.

Make sure your butter is on roomtemperature, and preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Prepare your cupcake pan with 12 cups.
Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter together, and mix them until the mixture is somewhat sandy. Add half of the milk (that would be 60 ml, genius) to it, and mix again.
Then shortly beat the egg with the remaining milk and the vanilla-extract, I usually just poke and swirl around in it with a fork. Add to your mixture and mix it until it's nice and smooth, but no longer than needed.

Pour the batter into the cups (don't fill them for more than 2/3 though, they'll rise big time), and bake the cupcakes for 20-25 minutes, until they're light brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Now you can decorate with some buttercream and sprinkles, or just eat right away!

Thursday 13 September 2012

Lauren's cupcakes

Last year an acquaintance came to me for birthdaycupcakes for her little daughter, so I figured I'd post them here as one of my first blogposts. The cupcakes were meant to be in the same style as the brand "PIP".
I made regular cupcakes with strawberry stuffing and some mini vanilla-cupcakes.
Even though I wasn't fully content with the work myself, Lauren and her mom loved them!

Wednesday 12 September 2012