Saturday, June 30, 2012

June Clandestine Cake Club - Gluten free!

What an awesome spread our talented bakers bought to the June Clandestine Cake Club, Perth! The theme was gluten free, which gave us an amazing range of cakes! We expected almond/hazelnut meal cakes but we had a range of cakes made with all kinds of different flours, as well as an espresso roulade made with no flour or nut meal at all, and a raw cake! Big thanks go out to Liv, who hosted this months event - she was the hostess with the mostess!

Our cake club numbers jumped significantly when Renee Bergere of Great About Perth, Agenda City and Scoop featured a write up about us, and we were stoked when there were so many people interested!

What is kinda funny is... you'd expect the organisers of cake club to be fab bakers right? Well, Carolanne is, but of course, my cake didn't work! I made a baked cheesecake with roast pineapple in it, but it WOULD NOT set! ARGH! I learned something though, so now I know for next time to add a lot less pineapple! It goes to show that you do NOT have to be an amazing baker to come to cake club! You just have to have a love for baking and a want to socialise!

We're going to try and get a collection of the recipes, so if you're reading this and you attended, please get in touch if you'd like to include your recipe!

Have a look at the amazing range of gluten free cakes below!

For the recipe for Martines' delicious coffee pecan bundt cake, check her awesome blog Chomp Chomp!

If you're interested in attending the next cake club, then please check in HERE for updates!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Meal planning

As part of the Fitness for Foodies course, they encourage you to plan your meals, so you're not as likely to be disorganised and eat something fast and processed. I don't really eat THAT much processed food anyway, so this isn't a big change for me, but eating on the fly is pretty common. Going to the school canteen doesn't usually end well.

So I've planned. I enjoyed it immensely! It just meant that I had an excuse to flick through cookbooks on the couch (AFTER a run of course!). I remembered there were a few recipes from Movida that I wanted to try, and so I've picked 3 recipes from that beautiful book. I think this is going to be a great opportunity for me to try more recipes from my cookbooks, as I'm forced to plan and make lists, which makes it easier if you know exactly what you're cooking!

Heres roughly what I'm eating this week...

Porridge with stewed apples and cinnamon OR blueberries and raw honey
Scrambled eggs on rye toast
Museli with skim milk and fruit
Rye toast with avocado spread and baked beans

Tomato and cumin soup with a poached egg (I'm adding meatballs) from Movida Rustica.
Roast cod with garlic and chillies, with salad and roast sweet potato, from Movida Rustica.
Roasted capsicum and tomato salad with grilled chicken and boiled new potatoes from Movida Rustica.
Chicken cacciatore with Three Birds sauce from the Urban Locavore box, with roast cauliflower.

Lunch will be leftovers, or tuna/fetta/tomato/onion pasta or couscous salad, with some ryvitas.
For snacks, Im going to make a batch of hummus (which I loooove) and have roast/raw carrot sticks and cauli to dip with. Ill make a different dip each week, romesco is a fave, as is roast eggplant.

I don't think I'm really eating typical "diet food". These are tasty meals, they just happen to be healthy. The main thing I'm trying to do is avoid processed, empty carbs like sugar and white bread, and focussing on better carbs. I'm not going to go down the no carb road. I have before, and I felt shitty. Good carbs like potatoes with the skins on, and wholemeal pasta are ok!

What do you eat when you're on a health kick??

The journey begins...

Ok, I'm going to get serious about this health thing. I need to sort my shit out.

I am NOT  one for crash diets, quick fixes, or slogging it out at the gym for 2 weeks and then giving up. I can't change my habits that fast and expect them to stick, because I am actually mentally quite weak sometimes and I can justify anything.

Nipping through Red Rooster for nuggets on the way home is ok when I want nuggets. But when I think about it, it goes against so many things I stand for. You can tell how processed they are when you eat them, I'm sure at some stage they USED to be chicken, but they're not now. This crazy stuff has to stop.

I really like food, and good food. So when I look at what we eat, it's actually usually pretty good (aside from ninja stops at Red Rooster). We just probably eat a bit too much, and we eat out a lot. We shop at the markets so very little of what we cook is processed, because we really only buy the raw materials - fruit, veges, meat, milk and bread. Portions need to be controlled, and we need to be a little smarter about things we eat.

I also need to exercise A LOT more. Steve has a naturally fast metabolism, and goes to the gym at work most days - he's lucky he has a more flexible job than I do. As a teacher, I have set times for everything, I can't pop into the gym on my lunch break, I just don't have time. I need to find times when I can do 10-20 minutes of exercise, make it not seem like a chore. I've started the Couch to 5km program, which is pretty good. It basically makes you follow a set routine - run 60 seconds, walk 90 seconds, for 20 minutes. You end up running more, the longer you do it. The app is pretty good too, it just beeps at you when you need to start to walk/run. I also downloaded the Nike+ Runner app, which at the moment seems really cool. Once I've used it more, I'll review it. But it tracks your run via GPS, times it, and has a bunch of other cool features, including posting that you're going for a run on Facebook, and when anyone likes your status, if you're listening to music, it cheers! So cute.

I signed up for this Fitness for Foodies (FFF) 8 week course, and to make sure I don't cop out, Carolanne is coming with me. It's pretty good value, $139 and for that you can go to 3 group fitness sessions, and you get a weekly email with a bunch of really useful info, recipes, and charts. The thing that has really appealed to me has been the charts. I need to have a routine and it needs to be planned out. FFF gives you a meal planner, a really good shopping list, and an exercise planner. I love these. They're going to go on the fridge! It also has a chart where you can measure progress - your fitness, blood pressure, weight (only if you want to though!), and body measurements. This is also something I need. I need to see progress, benchmarks. These progressive checkpoint sheets are great because they're varied, you may not lose much weight one week, but you've managed to lose some cm's off your arms and can do more sit ups!

I'm also playing netball again on Monday nights, which is sweet! I get to chase a ball around again! YAY!

It's about celebrating the little wins, all the different ones! I don't JUST want to lose weight (though that is a big factor), I want to be fitter, and healthier. I want to be one of those people who enjoys going out running, and needs to do some exercise or they get restless. I'm sure that with all the little things I'm trying to change, I'm hoping to see a different "win" each week.

This is my plan, and I WILL stick to it this time!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Banana and blueberry bread

S has been struck down with the man flu, and luckily, I haven't! I don't know how I've avoided it, but I have. My diet has been loaded with Beroccas, blueberries and fruit, trying to keep my immune system strong so I don't get sick, as S has taken 2 days off work which is testament to the strength of this cold! I've been feeling run down, and we've both been in bed by 9:30... So I was very much in fight off the bugs mode!

I decided to make something that would give us some energy, fill us up with antioxidants and most importantly, be delicious. So banana bread it was - and to make it extra yum, I added blueberries, walnuts, and cocoa nibs. The cocoa nibs were added for their health benefits - when we visited Gabriels Chocolatier in Yallingup, I was told cocoa nibs contain 300 times the amount of antioxidants than blueberries! So I figured these both had to go in...

To fight a cold, blueberries are a pretty amazing way to go - one serving has about 25% of your daily vitamin C needs. Speaks for  itself doesn't it! The antioxidants (which it is EXTREMELY high in) work to neutralize free radicals (unstable molecules linked to the development of cancer), cardiovascular disease and other age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Substances in blueberries called polyphenols, specifically the anthocyanins that give the fruit its blue hue, are the major contributors to antioxidant activity (info found here). I'm also told that purple carrots contain these anthocyanins, which is why they are more nutritious than their orange brothers (not only are they way cooler, they're better for you!).

Cacao nibs are said to be even higher in antioxidants than blueberries! What's great about the antioxidants in the nibs, is that they're more stable than other food sources, and so are more easily taken in by your body. They're also really high in magnesium, which plays a major role in nerve and muscle function, bone strength and circulation. It cannot be produced by the body, and therefore, must be obtained through food sources or supplements.

Is there anything BETTER to throw into your banana bread? I think not.

I used my fave Tessa Kiros recipe and changed it up a bit...

Banana, Blueberry and Cacao Nib Bread

125g Butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
350g (3 or 4) old bananas (mashed or chopped)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp milk
1 generous cup frozen blueberries
2 handfuls crushed walnuts
1/2 cup cacao nibs (you can add more if you want to!)
Handful rolled oats

1) Preheat oven to 180C and prepare your loaf tin.
2) Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth, and then add the bananas and cacao nibs.
3) Add the milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and mix well.
4) Sieve in the flour and baking powder, and mix well until smooth.
5) Pour in the walnuts and blueberries, and mix gently to ensure even distribution.
6) Pour the batter into your loaf tin, and sprinkle the rolled oats on top.
7) Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.
8) Leave your cake to cool for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Enjoy on its own, with butter, toasted... However you like! It's worth waiting till the next day though, the loaf will cut better, and the flavours will have made friends by that stage, and will be a much more cohesive flavour. 

Without the additions of blueberries, walnuts and cacao nibs, this is my fave recipe for banana bread, I don't use any others now. It's soft, tasty, not too sweet, but just sweet enough. It's really worth trying!

Keep your eyes open for an even better version of this loaf! Im going to be experimenting with different flours and sweeteners to make this a snack that is healthy, not just "healthy"!

Fondant au Mocha

The Clandestine Cake Club of Perth recently had its 2nd meeting, about 6 weeks after we recovered from the first one! We started our cake club with the theme of autumnal fruits, but this time we went as far away as possible from anything remotely healthy. This time, the theme was decadence! What a rich, over the top afternoon! There was some bubbles to start out with, and as an antidote for sugar overdoses, we had some salted nuts and chips stashed away, just in case!

But the stars of the show were obviously the cakes. We had some awesome creations, but the best thing about it was everyones' interpretation of the theme! It was a really impressive display of baking, exactly what the theme demanded! It turns out that our interpretation of decadence has something to do with chocolate and booze!

We had a delicious bourbon chocolate cake, with bourbon cream cheese icing and a bourbon cider jelly on top from Ai-Ling, the brains behind Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse! This was so impressive and such an original idea... The cake was Nigellas' Chocolate Guinness cake, but used bourbon instead! This cake is a go to fave of mine, so I was pretty much sold as soon as I tried it. I was really surprised how well the cider and bourbon went together! Such a great cake! We couldn't help but wobble it every now and again!

Bri of the fabulous blog Eat Meets West made a ridiculously impressive crepe cake, with something like SIXTEEN crepes! WOMAN! You crazy! But it was SO NICE. I thought it would be a bit sickly, as crepes have never agreed with me, but the swiss meringue buttercream between each layer did something to my cakey soul. It was so nice. We needed some teamwork to get the first slice out, but after that it was pretty special. Did I mention the chocolate icing that had been poured all over it? Bitch please.

To follow that was Liv's creation from Col Panna - Caprioska cake! She explained that to her, decadence meant cocktails, so she designed a cake to fit her favourite cocktail! There was lime, vodka in the cake, icing AND a glaze, as well as a coating of sugar with the vodka syrup, to replicate the crunch of the sugar in the cocktail. It was another really creative cake, as well as obviously being delicious! It was a nice change from all the chocolate too!

Then there was fellow organiser Carolanne, of Carolannes Kitchen, who, inspired by a recent trip to see Heston Blumenthal live, replicated one of his recipes - the exploding gateaux! Pop rocks in the base, and she used a water gun to squirt the top of the cake with chocolate! Very cool!

Then finally, my cake, which was a pimped up version of Trish Deseines Fondant au Chocolat. This, along with the choc guinness cake by Nigella is one of my go to choc cakes (along with the choc red wine cake I made last meeting!), because it is so simple, has few ingredients and is totally decadent! It is very rich, which is why its perfect for a Parisienne lady, as she only wants a tiny slice! I changed the recipe, but only slightly. I used almond meal rather than flour to make it gluten free, and to make it a bit more decadent I used espresso in the glaze rather than water. I made a coffee almond praline, blitzed it up and crumbled it on top for some crunch against the fudgy cake!

Here it is below...

Fondant au Mocha

200g Dark chocolate (minimum 65%)
200g butter (softened)
200g Sugar
1 tbsp hot espresso coffee
5 eggs
2 heaped tbsp almond meal

100g Chocolate (minimum 65%)
50g butter
2 tbsp espresso coffee

1 Cup sugar
1/2 chopped almonds
Rest of the espresso (1-2 tbsp)


1) Preheat the oven to 180C, and prepare a 25cm round cake tin.

2) Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl, set over barely simmering water and pour on the hot coffee.

3) Let it sit until the chocolate is mostly melted, then add the butter. Again, leave it until it has melted then give it a quick, gentle stir to incorporate everything together.

4) Add the sugar and stir well, then break the eggs into the mixture one at a time mixing well after each egg has been added. Finally mix in the almond meal.

5) Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, you'll find the cake very moist in the middle - it shouldn't wobble still, but if it does, a couple more minutes and it'll be done! Just keep an eye on it. Note this is not a cake that rises much, and any rise that DOES occur, it falls back pretty flat once its out - don't worry, that's normal!

6) Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin/mould, and if you can, leave it overnight before serving.

7) While its cooling (or while its cooking!) put the sugar and coffee into a pan on a medium heat, and watch it bubble up and thicken into a caramel - DO NOT STIR!

8) Once its thickened, add the almonds and swirl the pan to combine. Pour it out onto grease proof paper and let set.

9) Crack the disc of caramel up, and put it into your blitzing device and blitz away! You decide how fine/chunky you'd like it, but don't go too far with it or it'll feel like you're eating sand!

This is also my entry to the We Should Cocoa challenge! This month the challenge is to pair chocolate with coffee, which is a pretty easy task as I LOVE it together! We Should Cocoa was started by Chocolate Log Blog and Chocolate Teapot but this month is hosted by The Kitchen Maid