Chocolate Cake

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So tomorrow is our son Zachie’s 4th birthday, we had a party for him today at Hays Paddock, a fantastic park in Kew East, there is an enclosed section which has an adventure playground and loads of room to run around, there are a couple of ovals as well just to make sure there is enough space for just about everyone!

It’s autumn here in Melbourne and we had a glorious day of sunshine & cool breezes without a cloud in the sky. I saw a cake similar to the design I made and always thought it’d be great for our boy who loves everything to do with trucks and construction.

You will need

250g Butter

400g Sugar

250g Self Raising Flour

50g Cocoa

1 tsp Vanilla

200ml Milk

4 Eggs

Pre heat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

Cream the butter & sugar until it’s light and fluffy, add the eggs one by one beating well in between. Sift the flour & cocoa and add to the mix, while slowly beating pour in the milk, mix well for about a minute and ensure it’s all combined.

Grease & line a 26 cm spring form or round tin, pour the batter into prepared tin and bake at 170 degrees Celsius for approx 40 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.  Allow to stand in the tin for 5 mins or so and then remove and allow to cool completely.

You could leave it at that, but I made some chocolate butter icing, for which you’ll need 250g butter softened, 3 cups pure icing sugar and a tablespoon of cocoa, make sure you sift the icing sugar to remove all the lumps and add to the butter after you have creamed it and it’s light and fluffy, also add the cocoa.

I used violet crumbles & small snickers bars as the rocks, violet crumble is chocolate covered honeycomb.

Enjoy & happy happy birthday my darling boy – I love you right up to the moon and back and up again and back! xxx Mumma

Simple Sushi

Well this is definitely one to get your kids onto. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make sushi or california rolls as the larger ones are known here. Zachie & I went to the supermarket and bought Sushi rice, one of those bamboo mats you use to roll up the sushi, some nori paper and the vinegar that you use to flavour the rice.

We already had tuna, cucumber, carrots, avocado etc to use as fillings so we were all set to have a go – now the first attempt I have to say was very impressive. I did undercook the rice slightly, but it was okay, there is certainly a reason they call it sticky rice.

So I simply followed the recipe on the packet of rice, which pretty much says to cook a cup of rice in 375 mls of water, you have to rinse the rice first, bring it to the boil and simmer for 10 mins then let it sit for 10 mins.

Then transfer it to a plate and add about 3 tbsp of sushi vinegar, stir it around & fan it so it cools down as quickly as possible. Once it’s cold/cool then you’re good to go ahead and use it.

I mixed a tin of plain tuna with some mayonnaise, julienne some cucumbers & carrots, you could also add capsicum & sliced up some avocado.

Just spread the rice over the nori paper to within 2 cms of one edge and right to all the other edges, put your toppings on and roll up. It really is that simple, Zachie had a great time making it & eating it as well!

Definitely something to add to your repertoire if you & your family love sushi!

Pizza Perfection!

So Friday night came around very quickly last week and I was in the mood to make some pizza, it became a slightly drawn out affair, but that went well for the dough which rose to the occasion perfectly.

I had picked up some bocconcini at the wholesalers and thought…Yep on pizza that will be lovely. We had some left over eggplant from dinner a few nights before, add some freshly sliced mushrooms & olives, home made tomato sauce, cheese and voila dinner is served.

You will need:

For the dough – this amount will make enough for 3 good sized pizzas

25gm fresh yeast or 1 Tbsp of dried yeast

1 tsp runny honey

500g plain flour (if you have it you can use Tipo 00 flour which is great for pizza bases but it’s not essential.

1Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tsp sea salt

375ml lukewarm water

Crumble the yeast into a bowl with the honey and water, mix well and set aside in a warm place. Sift the flour and when you can smell the yeast and see bubbles or foam on the top it’s ready to add the flour to along with the salt & olive oil. Mix well until it forms a smooth ball (if you have a dough hook on your mixer you are in luck). You may need to add a little extra water or flour, if the dough is too sticky or dry, you want the dough to be soft & slightly stick, but not dry. Cover & leave the dough to prove for at least 10 minutes or until it’s doubled in size.

If you like your pizza bases thin, knock back the dough and divide into 3 pieces, roll out, place on greased trays that have been sprinkled with a little semolina and proceed with your toppings.

If you like a thicker pizza base, knock back the dough and divide into 3 pieces, roll out, place on greased trays that have been sprinkled with a little semolina and set aside to rise for at least an hour in a warm place. Then proceed to top your pizza’s.

For the toppings:

Really it’s up to your imagination & taste buds, I made a mushroom & olive pizza & eggplant & bocconcini. I had made my own tomato sauce with onions & garlic (I had made a lot for a party we had on) but you can quite easily use tomato paste, an italian herb mix or fresh herbs.

Capsicum, Proscuitto, Cheese, olives, artichokes, salami etc, all the standard toppings work, but generally for a traditional italian pizza limit your toppings to no more than 4 not including cheese & tomatoes.

For something a bit different & very special try Buffalo mozzarella & freshly chopped parsley, basil, oregano & thyme with lemon zest & garlic, mix it all together and sprinkle over the cheese.

You want your oven to be as hot as you can get it to start with and then when you put in the pizzas turn it back to about 220 degrees celsius. Cook them until golden and enjoy!

Tips: Don’t forget to season your pizzas with Salt & Pepper, unless you’re using extra salty things like feta & anchovies. Put the cheese on the bottom and for an extra hit of flavour mix tasty, mozzarella & parmesan or pecorino together. If you have a pizza stone use it or buy a couple of terracotta tiles (as per Gary from Masterchef) and use semolina as your base as this really does help to prevent your pizza’s from sticking to the trays, alternatively if you’re making quite a few you can have them waiting to go into the oven on baking paper which makes it much easier to move around and onto the trays.

Oh and did I mention my Dad is building a wood fired oven! :D