Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

I adore cheesecake. It is so light, fluffy and creamy, and so decadent! When I saw this combination of bluberries and lemon, I knew I had to try it. And I loved the idea of baking it in a slice tin! And oh my goodness, it is delicious!

Ingredients:

Base:
200g biscuit/cookie crumbs (I used a mix of shredded wheatmeal and marie biscuits, digestive biscuits would also be fine)
40g sugar
115g butter, melted

Cheesecake:
500g cream cheese, at room temperature
115g sour cream
170g sugar
2 eggs
3 tsp finely grated lemon zest
35mls fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
350g frozen blueberries (you can vary this amount to suit your preferences)


Method:

Preheat the oven to 160˚C (325˚ F). Line a 22 x 33cm (9 x 13 inch) pan with foil. Lightly spray the foil with cooking oil spray.

Combine the cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter with a fork until well combined and crumbs are moist. Press evenly into the lined pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Move to a wire rack to cool briefly.


Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese and sour cream in the medium bowl of an electric mixer, and beat until combined and smooth. Gradually add sugar and beat until combined and fluffy (1-2 mins).


Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition until smooth. Add lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla and beat until just mixed through. Carefully fold in the blueberries.


Spread cream cheese mixture over base, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the centre stops jiggling when you tap the pan.

Move to a wire rack to cool, then transfer to the refrigerator to cool preferably overnight (or at least 4-5 hours).


Slice with a large knife, cleaning after each slice.



Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats

Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread

I honestly think that the smell of baking bread must be one of the best scents in the world. Maybe one day someone will be clever enough to bottle it? But this bread tastes just as good as it smells. Juicy sultanas and currants, and a delicious sugary cinnamon swirl. It is time consuming, but so incredibly worth it! Plus, it was a perfect way to break in my KitchenAid stand mixer, and welcome it to the dough-kneading world!


Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread
Ingredients:
For the dough:                                     
3.5g  instant yeast
240mls warm milk (105-110˚ F / 40-45˚C)
485g all-purpose (plain)  flour
60g butter, softened
 65g sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ cup raisins                        
¼ cup currants (optional)
Vegetable oil/cooking spray

For the filling:
185g sugar
15g ground cinnamon
 30mls water

1 egg, lightly beaten
Method:
Lightly oil a bowl with vegetable oil/cooking spray. Set aside.
Combine yeast, warm milk, flour, butter, sugar, egg and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer. Briefly mix using the paddle attachment until a dough begins to form.
Swap to the dough hook attachment and mix on a low speed until the dough begins to come away from the sides of the bowl, and becomes smoother. (Alternatively, mix dough by hand, then once it comes together knead, by hand on a floured surface, until dough is smooth and supple.)
Add in the raisins and currants and keep mixing until they are evenly distributed through the bowl, and the  dough is soft and supple.
Move the dough to the oiled bowl, turning over and around to coat lightly. Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm area and leave about 50mins to 1 hour to rise (or until doubled in size).
Turn dough onto a floured surface/pastry mat. Pat dough into a round (about 20-23cm/8-9 inches). Taking the top third, fold down, and with the bottom third, fold upward.
Similarly, take the left and right sides and fold into the centre in thirds.  Press to seal. This should form a rough rectangular shape. Move back to the bowl, cover lightly again with plastic wrap. Let rise again in a warm area for about 45 mins (or until doubled in size).
Meanwhile, line a 23cm x 13cm (9 x 5 inch) loaf tin with non-stick baking paper. Then make the filling by combining the sugar, cinnamon and water in a small jug, stirring to combine.
Transfer dough back to a floured surface, and roll into a 25 x 30cm (10 x 12 inch) rectangle. Brush lightly with the beaten egg. Smooth filling over rectangle, leaving a 1.5-2cm (½ to ¾ inch) border around the edges.
Fold in the edges of the two long sides, and one of the short sides (about 2.5cm/1 inch). Begin to roll the dough at the unfolded short end, keeping tight (by gently pressing), continue rolling into a tight spiral log. Pinch together the seam with your fingertips and place into the prepared tin with seam facing down.
Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let dough rise  in a warm area about 30 mins (or it rises just above the edges of the baking tin).
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425˚ F (220˚C).
Once the dough has risen, brush very lightly with the left-over beaten egg. Bake for 40 minutes or until the bread is golden brown on top, rotating after 20 mins. (Be very careful, my oven browned the surface too quickly, so loosely cover with some foil if this happens to you – check at about the halfway point).
Cool loaf in the tin for 5-10 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice in desired thickness to serve.
Serving suggestions: warm or toasted (under the grill -  because the filling melts in the toaster!) with butter or honey...or just by itself.
Makes one 23cm x 13cm(9 x 5 inch) loaf

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats originally from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

Chocolate Caramel Slice

This slice is incredibly decadent. A crunchy biscuit base, smothered in a gooey, golden caramel layer and a creamy milk chocolate topping. It was perfect to serve at my brother's birthday afternoon tea - he loves caramel! And it's easy to see why with this slice. YUM!!!


Ingredients:


For the base:
180g plain (all-purpose) flour
50g dessicated coconut
105g brown sugar
135g butter, melted

For the caramel layer:
85mls golden syrup (approx. 1/3 cup)
130g butter, chopped
2 x 395g cans condensed milk

For the chocolate layer:
195g milk chocolate
15mls vegetable oil (approx 3 teaspoons)


Method:


Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 inch) tin with baking paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, coconut and butter and stir to combine. Press mixture into tin in an even layer (you can roll a cylindrical plastic cup/glass across to help you do this – it helps create a smooth and even layer). Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a light golden brown.

Meanwhile, make the caramel by combining the golden syrup, condensed milk and butter in a medium saucepan. Stir constantly (to prevent the caramel on the bottom of the saucepan from burning – don’t panic if this happens, there may be little flecks of burnt bits in the caramel but it won’t matter once the slice is tasted with all layers together) over a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes (depending on the heat of your stovetop.)


Pour caramel mixture over the hot base and return to oven for approximately 16-20 minutes or until caramel is a golden (or caramel) colour (you may have to rotate the tin in the oven to ensure the caramel is browning evenly).


Transfer tin to wire rack to cool briefly, then move to the refrigerator to cool completely.


Meanwhile, combine the chocolate and oil in a double boiler, or small heatproof bowl set up over a saucepan of just simmering water. Stir well until chocolate is melted and smooth.


Pour chocolate mixture over refrigerated slice and spread for an even coating of the surface. Return to the refrigerator and cool until firm, then using a large, warm knife cut into desired slices.


Makes approximately 25-30 pieces.



Source: Adapted from Donna Hay Modern Classics Book 2

Vanilla Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

I have tried a couple of sugar cookie recipes, and would have to say that this one has been the best! It has a beautiful sweet, buttery vanilla flavour, and is perfect for decorating with royal icing. I'm still getting accustomed to the whole cookie decorating thing, but practice makes perfect so practice it is - make yourself a batch today and practice too!



Vanilla Sugar Cookies
Ingredients:
375g all-purpose (plain) flour
2 tsp baking powder
230g caster sugar
235g butter
1 egg
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

Method:
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Into a medium bowl, sift flour and baking powder. Whisk until mixed. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla, beating until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating on a low speed until just combined. Make sure to scrape down the bowl when necessary!

Turn cookie dough onto a floured surface, and knead lightly until smooth. Using a well floured surface and rolling pin, roll out and cut into shapes (approximately ¾ cm thickness).

Note: dough can be rolled out between two sheets of non-stick baking paper, or on a floured pastry/silicon mat).

Bake for approx. 10-12 minutes. Let cool briefly on trays, then transfer to a wire rack.
 
Royal Icing
Ingredients:
40g meringue powder (I use ‘pavlova magic’ in the egg-shaped container)
110mls water
450g pure icing (powdered) sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract (optional) Note: if icing is to be white, use a clear extract 
 
 Method:
In the bowl of an electric mixer add meringue powder and water. Beat with the paddle attachment until well combined, light and foamy. Sift the icing sugar over meringue mixture, and beat on a low speed until well combined. Continue to beat until icing holds stiff peaks. (It took me quite a while to reach this stage, feel free to keep adding more sifted icing sugar if the mixture does not stiffen up enough. More water can always be added if you make a mistake!)          

Divide and colour icing if desired. (Gel icing colour paste is recommended as it doesn’t alter the consistency compared to liquid food colouring).

This stiff icing is ideal for piping the outline of decorated sugar cookies, using a piping bag and small round tip. 

To prepare for flooding, simply add small teaspoons/drops of water, stirring carefully with a rubber spatula, until it reaches a syrupy consistency. Let sit for a few minutes to let the air bubbles come to the surface then carefully stir them back in. I then fill a squeeze bottle with this icing and fill in/flood the cookie, using a toothpick to move the icing around to fill the gaps. Let dry overnight. (To make the dots, fill another squeeze bottle with different coloured icing, and squeeze small drops onto the cookie. The drops will settle into the flood icing and make cute round dots.)

Storage: The royal icing can be stored in a sealed plastic container with plastic wrap covering the surface of the icing to prevent it hardening (as it does when exposed to air). The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for around one week. See http://bakeat350.blogspot.com/2008/12/frozen-assets.html for tips about freezing cookies. Bake@350 also has a great FAQ section for any questions you might have.


Source: both Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing  adapted from Bake@350.

Passionfruit Slice

I love passionfruit, so this slice is a real winner for me. Plus, it is incredibly easy to make. (Perfect for that last minute morning or afternoon tea that you need to whip up at a moment's notice!). It has a crunchy coconut base and a gorgeous smooth, creamy, tangy passionfruit topping.


Passionfruit Slice

Ingredients:
155g self-raising flour
90g dessicated coconut
120g caster sugar
135g butter, melted
1 X 395g can condensed milk
130mls fresh lemon juice
90mls passionfruit pulp (fresh or from can)

Method:

Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F). Line the base and sides of a 20cm x 30cm (8 x 12 inch) slice tin with baking paper.

Sift flour into a medium size bowl. Add coconut and sugar, stir to combine. Add melted butter and stir until thoroughly combined.

Bake for 15-17 minutes or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, in a medium size bowl, combine condensed milk, lemon juice and passionfruit, beating well with a wooden spoon until thickened, smooth and evenly combined.

Pour passionfruit mixture over the hot base, and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until set (you should be able to jiggle it slightly without the topping moving).

Transfer pan to wire rack. Cool completely in pan.

Slice to serve.

Store in an airtight container. Best eaten in 3-4 days.

Makes approx. 25-30 pieces.

Source: adapted from Taste, original recipe can be found here.

Apple Berry Crumble

On a recent family holiday, we discovered a mulberry tree, full of ripe, juicy purple berries! So what a perfect excuse to bake with them! This crumble was absolutely delicious, bursting with purple colour and berry flavour.  Combined with the apples and a crisp, nutty crunch on top, I've got to say this was one of the best crumbles I have ever made! If you don't happen to stumble across a berry bush, frozen berries would work just fine :)


Apple Berry Crumble 
Ingredients:
800g tin pie apple*
165g berries (fresh or frozen, I used mulberries)
130g rolled oats
210g brown sugar
90g dessicated coconut
135g nuts (I used macadamias and almonds), chopped
90g plain flour
125g butter, melted

Method:
Preheat an oven to 180°C (350°F).

Fill the bottom of a 23cm (9 inch) square baking dish with the apple, then sprinkle the berries evenly on top.

To make the crumble, combine oats, sugar, coconut, nuts and flour. Stir to combine.

Add the melted butter to the flour mixture, and stir well until combined and ‘crumbly’. Sprinkle on top of the apply berry mixture, pressing down on top.

Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven and run a fork over the mixture to raise the crumble. Return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Serve warm (and with a nice big scoop of vanilla ice-cream, if desired),

* To make your own apple filling, take about 9-10 medium green apples. Peel, core and cut into thin wedges. Place them in a medium saucepan, and add about 80mls cold water. Bring to the boil then reduce heat, and simmer, covered for 5-10 minutes until fairly soft and tender. Drain, then stir in approximately 25g sugar and 10mls lemon juice.


Source: Bec original. Apple filling adapted from Super Food Ideas, April 2008, page 81 (Apple Pie)

Muesli Slice

This slice is unbelievably good. You would think that when offered a brownie or some muesli slice, that most people would opt for the chocolate brownie. Nope, guess again. This muesli slice is so good that it goes faster than chocolate brownies, and is the one that most people RAVE about. Over the many times I have baked this slice, I have added a few extra ingredients here and there. The original recipe can be found here. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as everybody else does!




Muesli Slice
Ingredients:
65g butter, chopped
130g raw sugar
60mls honey
150g pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 weet-bix, crushed (can be substituted with a handful of coconut)
90g sultanas
40g currants (optional)
50g rolled oats
75g self-raising flour
Sprinkle of sunflower seeds
Sprinkle of linseeds
Sprinkle of sesame seeds

Method:
Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F). Line a 23cm (9 inch) square baking tin with baking paper.
In a large bowl, combine pepitas, weet-bix, sultanas, currants, oats, flour, sunflower seeds, linseeds and sesame seeds. Stir well to combine. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and honey. Melt together over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and stir thoroughly until combined. Press mixture evenly into the prepared pan (you can smooth the surface by rolling a small cylindrical plastic cup or glass over it, or using the back of a smooth metal spoon).
Bake for approx. 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely in pan, then slice to serve.
Makes 25 pieces (depending on what size you cut them)

Source: adapted from Good Taste Magazine, February 2007, Page 10,  original recipe can be found here.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

These chocolate muffins are like a brownie, a mud cake and a muffin all in one!  The last chocolate muffin recipe I tried was terrible; a tasteless, not very chocolatey cake that looked good, but really just wasn't. After searching for recipes, I stumbled across this one - the addition of chocolate chips as well as cocoa and melted chocolate give these muffins a one-up over the others. Don't be scared off by the sour cream – it helps give the muffin its gorgeous fudgy density. And they are heavenly served warm with a dollop of ice-cream.


Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins
Ingredients:


190g all purpose (plain) flour
1 ½ tsp bi-carb (baking) soda
40g cocoa
¼ tsp salt
210g dark chocolate
75g butter
170g sour cream
130g packed brown sugar
40mls milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
140g milk chocolate chips

Method:
Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F). Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases and spray with cooking oil spray.

In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking soda, cocoa and salt. Whisk until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.

In a double boiler, or small heatproof bowl set up over a saucepan of just simmering water, melt chocolate and butter, stirring regularly until smooth. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl combine sour cream, sugar, milk, egg and vanilla. Whisk together thoroughly.

Slowly add lukewarm chocolate mixture into sour cream mixture, in 2 separate batches, whisking continuously until well combined.

Add flour mixture, stirring carefully with a wooden spoon until just combined. Fold through chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cases with batter approx. ¾ full (I basically just used all the mixture to fill the 12 cases). Bake for 20mins or until skewer comes out mostly clean, with a few moist crumbs clinging to it (if it pierces a chocolate chip, test again!).

Cool for about 5 mins in pan, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm if desired.


Source: adapted from Recipe Goldmine


Homemade Oreos

Almost everyone loves oreos...there is just something about the combination of the dark chocolate cookie and the creamy vanilla filling. So why has it taken me so long to figure out there must be a homemade version? I have no idea! But these are just as good – a crunchy chocolate biscuit with creamy vanilla butter cream filling. And so quick and easy to make...get baking right now!

Homemade Oreos
Ingredients: 
160g  all-purpose (plain) flour
50g cocoa
1 teaspoon baking (bi-carb) soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
250g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
For the filling: 1 batch vanilla buttercream
Method:                                                                                                                                 
Preheat oven to 190°C  (375°F). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Place dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor (or electric mixer). Thoroughly mix until well combined.
With motor running, add butter, then egg until a soft dough forms and comes together.
Take teaspoon size amounts of batter (about 10g each for medium sized cookies) and roll into small balls. Place on baking paper about 7cm (2-3 inches) apart, and flatten slightly.
Bake for approx. 9 mins, rotating trays after about halfway through.
Cool baking trays on racks until biscuits cool and harden. Transfer biscuits to racks.
Pipe buttercream using a large round tip onto one cookie, then sandwich together with another.
Makes approximately 25-30 sandwhich cookies.

Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen originally from Retro Desserts, Wayne Brachman

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting


This recipe is my favourite for 'plain' vanilla cupcakes - although you could hardly call these plain! These cupcakes are light, fluffy and absolutely perfect coupled with super smooth, creamy vanilla buttercream.

 


Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients:
95g self-raising flour
80g all purpose (plain) flour
115g butter, softened
225g  caster sugar
2 eggs (at room temperature)
115mls milk
½ tsp vanilla extract

Method:
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a regular size 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
Sift flours into a small bowl, whisk together then set aside.

Measure milk into pouring jug, add vanilla and gently stir to combine, then set aside.

Cream the butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until well combined and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture. Beat in each addition until just combined – be careful not to overbeat! Also ensure sides are scraped down when necessary.

Spoon cupcake batter into paper cases, about ½ , to ¾ full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Let sit in tins for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 12.


Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:
115g unsalted butter, softened
450g icing (confectioners) sugar
55mls milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Method:
In a large bowl, beat butter until pale.

Gradually add icing sugar, alternating with the milk, beating thoroughly after each addition.

Add the vanilla, beating until combined. (More or less milk can be added to bring frosting to desired consistency).

Once icing is smooth and creamy, transfer to a piping bag and pipe onto cupcakes using desired tip, or spread onto cupcakes using spatula.

Makes enough to cover 12 cupcakes.

Source: RecipeLink for both Cupcakes and Frosting
                                  

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


This is one of the BEST chocolate chip cookie recipes EVER. After hours and hours spent searching for a 'subway' style homemade cookie, this one fit the bill perfectly - crisp on the outside, and chewy and fudgy on the inside. The types and amounts of chocolate chips used is completely up to you - they work perfectly with any combination of white, milk and dark chocolate chips, or even combinations like white chocolate macadamia. M&M's in place of choc chips is also a favourite of mine. YUM!


Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies            
Ingredients:
265g all-purpose (plain) flour
½ tsp. bi-carb (baking) soda
½ tsp. salt
175g butter, melted
200g brown sugar, packed
110 grams white sugar (granulated)
1 egg, plus extra egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
225g chocolate chips (can be altered to suit your own preferences)

Method:
Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F). Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl, whisk together then set aside.

Using electric mixer, beat together butter and sugars until well combined. Beat in egg and extra yolk, and vanilla until combined.

Carefully beat in flour mixture on a low speed until just combined.
Stir in chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

Let cookie dough sit for about 5-10 minutes until it becomes a little firmer, and easier to handle.

Roll together balls of cookie dough, (depending on how large you want your cookies, I roll balls of approximately 80-90g each). Holding one side of the cookie dough ball with each hand, pull straight apart.

Place each half with rough ends facing up on the baking trays, about 8 per tray, spread 2.5-3 cm (1 inch) apart.

Repeat for the rest of the dough.

Bake cookies for about 10-13 minutes (depending on the actual heat of your oven, each is unique!) until outer edges are golden brown and centres still soft and puffy.


Store in an airtight container, best consumed within 2-3 days.

Notes: Be very careful not to leave them in the oven too long, or you may lose some of the chewy, fudgy-ness of the middle. Also, don't remove from the baking trays before leaving them to cool down a little - the centres will still be soft and may fall apart.



Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats, originally from Baking Illustrated

Welcome to Bec Loves Baking!

Welcome to my food blog!

This is just a fun way for me to share my adventures in cooking and baking, and an excellent way for me to be able to document and record the numerous amounts of awesome recipes that I have the opportunity to try out.
I will try to post most recipes with measurements in grams, simply because not all countries share the same measurement systems, and I often find that following gram measurements means much more accurate results. This way, anyone who happens to stumble across this blog is able to use the recipes with ease.

Happy reading and happy baking!