Cornbread with honey butter

Cornbread with honey butter
Cornbread with honey butter

Cornbread has never been a big thing in Australia, but I’m pleased to say that since we’ve had a surge of southern style restaurants open it’s often on the menu alongside grits and jalapeño poppers. (I’m yet to see a hush puppy but waiting with baited breath!)

I had the pleasure of trying a fair few traditional ones while travelling in the states a few years ago and loved the different flavours used – cheddar and jalapeño, cheddar and chilli, bacon and onion, etc.

I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert and I’m sure my American readers will be able to contribute a lot more to the conversation than me.

But from my research I saw a lot of debate around the ratio of plain flour to cornflour, whether to use buttermilk or whole milk, whether to include sugar or not.

The one thing everyone seemed to agree on is that fact that it should be baked in a hot skillet to get the best crust. I don’t have an oven-proof skillet so used a traditional round cake tin which worked fine.

I should also say now that cornflour is not the same in Australia as the US – cornflour to us is corn starch, so from my readings it’s recommended we use polenta instead.

I want to do a savoury flavoured loaf next week so stuck with the plain cornbread recipe this time and whipped up a quick honey butter to slather on top of it.

Delish!!

PS – I’ve just started a Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/projectpastryblog) for Project Pastry where I’ll be sharing all of my posts and also some other fun, baking ideas and stories. Please come and join me 🙂

Cornbread

140g flour
150g polenta
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
120g butter

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and give them a quick stir with a balloon whisk.

Break up the eggs in another bowl and add the milk and butter.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, then stir until just combined.

Baked at 190C for 20-25 minutes.

Flashback Friday – Hazelnut financiers

Hazelnut financiers
Hazelnut financiers

This is my first Flashback Friday, and what better place to start (or re-visit) than cakes.

Mid-week baking is always going to be a challenge between juggling a full time job and other commitments, so I think these posts will generally be quick and easy recipes.

I’ve baked financiers this week which are light, moist mini-cakes flavoured with beurre noisette and ground nuts (usually almonds).

The name comes from the traditional shape which is rectangular gold bars – I used a friand pan instead because my baking drawer is getting pretty out of control.

Beurre noisette, also known as brown butter, is created when you melt butter and slowly heat until it starts to turn a golden brown. It creates a delicious nutty taste which is the perfect match for the ground nuts or meal.

I decided to use hazelnuts for my recipe and added further flavour with orange and honey.

Hazelnut financiers

125g butter
1 vanilla bean, split
4 egg whites
100g caster sugar
100g brown sugar
30g ground hazelnuts
70g flour
1 tbsp honey
Grated rind from one orange

Create your beurre noisette by melting the butter in a saucepan along with the vanilla bean until it turns golden.

Hand whisk the egg whites until light and fluffy, then add the sugars. Pour in the butter, honey and continue to whisk.

In a separate bowl, mix together the ground hazelnuts and flour. Slowly incorporate into the egg white mixture. Lastly add the orange rind.

Fill greased moulds and bake for 15 minutes at 175C.

Mixed berry and chocolate muffins

Mixed berry and chocolate muffin
Mixed berry and chocolate muffin

My husband’s sister and her husband are visiting from the UK at the moment, and Frances is a huge fan of muffins.

I promised to bake her a batch which fit in perfectly with my move into quick breads for Project Pastry.

Quick breads cover a range of non-yeasted products including scones, muffins and fruit “breads” like banana bread.

They are relatively simple to make and the only thing to learn about is mixing methods which differ slightly.

For muffins, it’s generally the blending method where the wet ingredients are combined in one bowl; and the dry ingredients are combined in another bowl. Then the two are quickly incorporated together with minimal mixing to avoid gluten development.

This gives muffins a somewhat coarse crumb compared with cupcakes which generally have a finer crumb.

I decided to do a mixed berry and dark chocolate combination based on what was in my pantry and freezer but the joy with this recipe is that you can mix and match flavour combinations – fruits, spices, chocolates, whatever you fancy!

Mixed berry and chocolate muffins

50ml canola oil
50ml melted butter
180g caster sugar
1 large egg
140ml milk
235g self raising flour
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup mixed berries (frozen or fresh)
1/3 cup dark chocolate, chopped roughly
Demerara or granulated sugar for garnish

Sift the flour into a bowl.

In a separate bowl mix together the oil, butter and sugar. Add the eggs and milk, then mix again.

Add the flour, then mix until the batter is fully incorporated.

Gently fold in the berries and chocolate.

Spoon into greased or papered muffin pans then sprinkle with a bit of Demerara sugar for crunch.

Bake for 18 minutes at 190C.

New year, new goals

Happy New Year to everyone – I hope you had a wonderful break with your friends and family.

I’ve enjoyed a week at the Sunshine Coast with my husband, sister-in-law and brother-in-law and now very keen to get back into the kitchen again.

I’m not one for new years’ resolutions, but am going to try to focus a bit more on the blog this year. I’ve realised how much there is to cover and how little I’m scratching the surface with my weekly bakes.

I’m also really conscious of not moving on too quickly and forgetting everything I’ve learned – for example, it was this time last year that I was making layer cakes so need to continue developing my icing and decorating techniques while continuing with my curriculum.

So, to do a quick re-cap of the last six months I’ve achieved a major milestone with viennoiserie which was as challenging as I’d always expected it to be. Frozen desserts were also a big hurdle for me but I feel really confident making sorbets and ice creams now which is a great feeling. Lastly, confectionery was great fun and I now regularly making brittles, honeycomb and marshmallows which never fail to impress.

In fact, on Christmas Day (which I hosted for the first time) I made a ruby grapefruit sorbet as a palate cleanser, and honeycomb and chocolate truffles as after-dinner treats. None of these would have been on my radar if it hadn’t been for Project Pastry.

So what’s next on the list?

  • Quick breads
  • Chocolate work (probably need to wait until the temperature cools a bit)
  • Verrines
  • Plated desserts
  • Bread (which keeps being pushed down the bottom of the list)

My darling husband also bought me a “Mighty Macaron” cooking class voucher for Christmas so by February I’ll hopefully have conquered that demon!

I’m also going to try a second bake each week (or maybe fortnight if I’m realistic) called Flashback Friday which will go over things I’ve learned in the past e.g. pastry doughs, cremes, cakes, cookies, etc.

After 18 months on this blog, I’m still as excited as ever about what I’m learning and what’s coming out of my kitchen.

Thanks again for joining me on this journey and please feel free to drop me a line any time with questions, recipe requests or feedback on my efforts. As I’ve always said, this is a massive learning curve and I’m always keen to receive tips or advice 🙂