That awkward moment when someone asks you for your recipe…

Today a friend asked me outright for my recipe for chocolate brownies. No big deal, right?


That awkward moment when...
You want my WHAT???

I can’t help but feel a little protective of my recipes. Afterall, I’ve put in the hard yards, making them time after time, tweaking them ever so slightly with each baking to eventually reach near total perfection. So of course I’m going to be a little resentful if you want to come along and claim all my hard work as your own.

Does that sound mean? Spiteful even? Or worse… petty! Whatever happened to the collaborative community approach to baking… where everyone willingly swaps and shares recipes for the greater good of bakers everywhere. Oh HANG ON – maybe that’s what the sticking point is. I was asked for a recipe, but I wasn’t given one in return. If I was receiving some real gem of a recipe I wouldn’t feel quite so bad about giving up my own baking intellectual property for you pass off as your own.

So, now I’m really interested to know – do you share recipes willingly, or keep them just for yourself? Are you one of those audacious people that ask others for THEIR own recipes? If so, do people give those precious recipes to you, or do you think they give you a slightly different version (not the carefully tweaked one that took years to perfect) so when you make it, it just isn’t quite the same? Now, that really would be petty!



Homemade Decadence and Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book

I cannot express my excitement at receiving a package from Amazon this week – it was there waiting for me on the doorstep when I returned from a weekend break in Christchurch, which I must mention was super fun and quite an interesting place to be right now with so much post-earthquake development.

We packed our weekend full of eating excursions (Pomeroys – great food, and extensive craft beer selection; Mexicanos – the Barbacoa beef is highly recommended, melt in your mouth spicy/smoky deliciousness; The Tannery – steam punk styled Victorian shopping mall with plenty of eating opportunities) and have probably come back 5 kgs heavier…

But anyway, I digress, and have more pressing issues – which recipe to make first from my brand new cookbooks?? I splashed out and purchased two gorgeous new cookbooks this week. The first, Joy the Baker’s Homemade Decadence, and second Four and Twenty Blackbird’s Pie Book. Now… the dilemma of which recipe to choose to make first is a wonderful one to have, and I will have some tough choices to make this weekend – can’t wait!



The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book and Homemade Decadence – in my clutches at last!

Do you have either of these cookbooks? Can you suggest an amazing recipe to try? Do you get as excited about new cookbooks as I do…?

Chocolate cheesecake brownies anyone?

I love chocolate, I love cheesecake, I love brownies… so considering that, there is a high probability that I would adore chocolate cheesecake brownies, right? But actually, I’m a bit of a brownie purist – I like chocolate brownies and that’s it, no nuts, no fruit… just good quality chocolate! To me, that’s what a brownie should be. And I like them fudgey (to the point of almost not being cooked in the middle), I really don’t like them when they get a hard, crackly crust on the top – but I digress…

I’ve had a recipe for chocolate cheesecake brownie for ages, but maybe my purist tendencies have caused me to take so long before trying to make them. But the planets aligned today and I just happened to look in my fridge and see an abundance of exactly the right ingredients – fantastic!! (It may also have been the inspiration gained after reading the fantastic sounding recipe for Cappuccino Brownies that I saw on the Amandeleine blog).

In the past I’ve had my issues with Donna Hay recipes, but I’ll give her another chance… this one is bound to work (I can feel it) plus it’s not one of those highly-technical baking recipes where everything has to be exactly right in order to work. I figure any recipe where you just throw everything in a blender at once and whizz the ingredients together can’t be all that technical.

To make Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies you will need:

Straight from the oven - ignore the unorthodox round tin...!

185gm melted butter
1/4 cup cocoa (best quality dutch process of course!)
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup plain flour

For the cheesecake:
285 gm cream cheese
4 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 160 c (325 F). Place butter, cocoa, sugar, eggs and flour in a food processer and whizz till smooth. Pour into a greased 20cm slice tin or similar. To make the cheesecake, whizz the cream cheese, sugar and eggs together in a food processor. Place large spoonfuls of the cheesecake mixture on top of the chocolate mixture and gently swirl with a knife to get a ‘marbled look’. Bake for around 40 mins until set. Cool in the tin then cut into slices.

The verdict:

The odd texture didn't stop me from eating it, of course...!

I probably wouldn’t bother making this again to be honest. The texture of the cheesecake part was nice and light, but with a touch of egginess (not so good) and it contrasted strangely with the heavy, greasy texture of the brownie… and the two components didn’t really stay together well – they kept separating whenever I cut a piece of the brownie. Donna Hay be damned – I was right to be a brownie purist after all!!

In search of the ultimate muffin recipe…

I consider myself an amateur muffin connoisseur… (with tongue firmly in cheek!) Muffins are my morning tea of choice at the majority of cafes I frequent, and yet, in all my years of muffin eating, I have only eaten a few that I would class as ‘really good muffins’. That goes for baking muffins too, I have tried loads of different recipes – sweet and savoury – and yet none of the recipes I have tried are recipes that I would pass onto people and say ‘Try these, these are great!”.

So what’s up? Muffins aren’t HARD to make… they are generally considered an easy thing to bake, and would be something that first time bakers are pointed to as a recipe to try out first. Just mix wet ingredients with dry (but don’t over mix), add some flavoursome addition, and you’re off – so why are they never any GOOD?

By good I mean light but with a close cake-y crumb, sweet and moist and full of fruit etc (if sweet), or salty and cheesy and full of veges/meat etc (if savoury). Most muffins I come across tend to be dry and heavy, with nothing much inside, and a faint but awful aftertaste of baking powder. Even the muffins I make (and can tinker with the ingredients somewhat) are never quite right – I seem to get moist and heavy, or light and dry… it’s like one cancels out the other.

So does anyone have a great muffin recipe they would mind sharing? Or any hints or tips? I would truly overjoyed to finally find a great muffin recipe after all these years of searching – and no doubt, my waistline could also benefit 😉

Onwards and upwards

I’ve decided to ‘let go’ of last week’s cupcake fiasco. Onwards and upwards I say!

I have been studying Rose Levy Beranbaum’s wonderful “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes” book, and I came across a recipe for Whoopie Pies. Now, being a resident of little old New Zealand means that not only had I never tried a Whoopie Pie, I had never even heard of one… but the name intrigued me, so I decided to do a bit of research and came across all sorts of great recipes and variations on the original Whoopie Pie, as well a blog where someone is making every recipe from Rose’s book – how very Julie and Julia!!

So I think the next recipe I try to perfect will be the Whoopie Pie… watch out New Zealand! You’re about to be ‘Whoopied’ (Whoop Pied) Ha ha…