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    Wednesday, November 27, 2013

    Christmas Cake - Herman The German, Travels Down Under to New Zealand, Just in Time for Christmas

    Herman Meets Busy Girl
    About 2 months ago, I was given by my Grandson Joseph a plastic container full of a Starter Dough. He was given it by my daughter Katie and so it started to spread around the family

    Herman is the gift that keeps on giving. Once you receive Herman, you transfer him to a larger bowl, give him a good stir and continue to look after him and feed him.
    After 9 days, you give him his final feed, then you split Herman into four portions
    Use one for making your cake,
    Save one for the next time and give away the other two.
    (I actually used 3 portions, made Bread, Banana and Coconut Cake
    Plus This Delicious Christmas Cake).
    Day 10. Cook
    Anyone can make this... it is so so simple, moist delicious, and we have nearly finished it already. A great success.
    “Sigh” that means, I will have to make another one, oh dear

    Your giver also hands you instructions and the recipe to make the original cake, which is like an apple strudel.
    Very yummy.
    But, Stop,  there is more... if you go onto the Herman The German Website,  click here
    there is a plethora of recipes. People all around the world have got excited about turning Herman into new delights. Including all sorts of cakes, muffins and bread
    Plus 'How to Start Your Own Herman'

    I was asked to devise a Christmas Cake.
    Decades ago my friend Jeannie, found a recipe for the aptly named “Busy Girls Christmas Cake”.
    It’s a Throw everything, all in together, cake, just like Herman.

    So Why not blend the two.
    Looking through other people attempts at different cakes on the Herman Website,
    For the proportions, I decided to remove 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of sugar and replace them with my portion of Herman
    (If you want to make the cake, sans Herman, replace the flour and the egg)
    Wet ingredients, dry ingredients and fruit
    Mix together
    Easy Peasy
    Preheat oven to 160C/325F
    Line a 23 cm tin with baking paper

    900 gms/2lbs ready mixed fruit
    60gms/2 oz blanched almonds optional
    950 mls/2 pints boiling water
    225 gms/8 oz butter cut into small pieces
    3 eggs
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2cup brown sugar
    2 cups flour
    1 tsp BP
    1 tsp mixed spice
    Pinch nutmeg
    Pinch cinnamon
    1 tsp almond essence
    ¼ cup Brandy or Rum

    In a large bowl place the fruit and almonds.
    Pour over boiling water, cover with
    a large plate and leave to stand for 15 mins.
    Strain off the water and cut butter into fruit.

    Place portion of Herman into a big bowl
    In another bowl beat eggs, white and brown sugar together. until soft and creamy.
    Add to Your Portion of Herman
    Sift Flour, Baking Powder and Spices together.  
    Stir butter and fruit mixture until well mixed.
    Stir in almond essence.
    Add the Herman, eggs and sugar blend
    Lastly fold in sifted dry ingredients.  

    Place mixture into prepared tin (well lined.)
     Bake at 160C/325F  for 1 3/4 hours.
    After one hour if you feel you need to, cover cake with sheet of brown paper.
    When it is finished check with a skewer or toothpick
    Hopefully after the 1 ¾ hours the skewer will come out clean
    You may have to cook for another 10 minutes
    When cold, prick with a skewer an inch apart all over the cake.
    Sprinkle brandy/rum over and wrap tightly in plastic
    I wanted to have a taste test after only 5 days, I had Girls coming for lunch
    It was lovely but if you can wait...give it at least a week before decorating.

    I’m not fond of the Almond Icing, Royal Icing Combo
    I went for the Apricot Jam Glaze and Glace Fruit and Nut Decor

    ½ cup Apricot Jam melted
    Your choice of Glace Fruits

    I went for Red and Green Cherries, Slivered Almonds and Mixed Peel
    Go mad it’s Christmas after all
    It has been tested on Real People and Given the Thumbs Up
    It is not a dark cake but so full of flavour.

    Looks like I will be baking it again on Friday, I’ll try and make it last ,closer to Christmas
    But then again... maybe I can make another

    Saturday, November 09, 2013

    Herman the German Friendship Cake - Also makes Good Bread

    I have been cooking Herman The German Friendship Cake for about 6 weeks now

    It is a starter mix that you stir and feed for 10 days
    To make the Starter Mix if you are having to start from scratch
    Go to the website click hereThen split in 4
    Cook with one
    Keep one for yourself and give away the others
    Originally, my daughter Katie gave a portion to Grandson Joseph
    He, then, gave one to me
    First we made the original cake,which has apples and raisins

    Tried one with Crunchie bars, not much success with that
    So No photographs of that

    Made a Raspberry and Chocolate one, This was very popular
    But this time,. I am using 2 portions
    I am making Bread AND a Banana and Coconut version that I found on The Website

    The Bread was posted by Cheryl
    Unfortunately, I left it in the oven too long and the rolls were overcooked
    I went back to bed as it was quite early and waited for the timer to go off

    Anyway I had one for breakfast and it was very tasty.
    Smothered it with Avocado and topped with tomato.
    The bread is sweeter than I would normally make, not as sweet as Brioche but nevertheless
    I will be definitely be making this again.
    It is perfectly fine to have with Savoury

    Next time I will keep an eye on the Oven
    I think maybe 15 minutes would do it
    We will have some for lunch with soup
    The rest I will turn into breadcrumbs for the freezer

    Actually...They were fine at lunch, in fact excellent with Cauliflower Cheese Soup
    Pity I have to wait another 10 days before I cam make it again
    There recipes on the website click here to get all of the info
    Also you will get "The How To Grow Herman"
    Great for children to be involved
    And now for the Bread
    I decided to make Bread Rolls

    This is taken from the Website as I said, posted by Cheryl
    I also took Cheryl's advice and let it rise over night
    Right Cheryl, this is from you

    To prevent Herman Bread tasting too sweet, you need to make an adjustment on “Day 9”.
Normally you would add his last feed of 1 cup flour, 1 cup (8oz) sugar and 1 cup milk, and then divide into 4 portions.
    But for bread, you need to add the flour and milk only, then divide into 4 portions, then add the sugar individually.  For any cake and friend portions add 2oz sugar, but for the bread portions add just ½ oz.  Then on “Day 10” bake or pass to friends as normal.
    The Recipe
        •    500g (1 lb 2 oz) Strong Flour (White or Wholemeal)
        •    1 Teaspoon salt
        •    240ml (8 fl oz) Tepid Water
        •    1 Portion Herman

    Tip:-   To get the perfect temperature water use 160 ml (⅔) cold tap water and 80 ml (⅓) freshly boiled water.
        1.    Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
        2.    Mix the water with Herman and pour into the flour well.
        3.    Gradually work the ingredients together to make a soft dough.  Add a little more water if it seems too dry, or add a little more flour if it seems to sticky.
        4.    Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.
        5.    Put the dough in a large clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for 3 to 8 hours until doubled in size

        6.    Knock back, then shape into a ball and place in a large loaf tin, or divide into 12 and shape into balls for rolls. 
    Cover and leave to rise for 2 to 6 hours.

        7.    Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220ºC / Gas Mark 7, for 35 minutes for a loaf or 20 minutes for rolls.  When cooked the bottom should sound hollow when tapped.
    A good idea:  Do steps 1 to 5 after lunch, Step 6 before you go to bed, step 7 first thing in the morning, and amaze the family with freshly baked bread for breakfast!
    Thank you Cheryl
    Unfortunately a little overdone
    But an excellent Crumb
    Reminiscent of Ciabatta

    So I will make this again
    This is a Rustic Bread, well worth it
    Now for the Cake

    This is mix all in together cake but I like to break it up a bit
    The recipe was posted by Rachel Norris

    Banana and Coconut Cake
    1 helping of Herman
    1 cup sugar   - 225 g
    2 cups SR flour -300 g
    ½ tsp salt
    ⅔ cup desiccated coconut
    2 mashed ripe bananas
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 tabs boiling milk
    ⅔ cup cooking oil 160ml
    2 eggs
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

    Pre-heat oven to 175C I use fan oven

    Put flour and salt through a sieve into a big bowl
    Add sugar, nutmeg and coconut

    Meanwhile in a small bowl
    Beat eggs, vanilla, add oil
    add Mashed bananas 
    Add to Herman
    Pour into dry ingredients

    Add baking soda to boiling milk
    and Add to the bowl

    Mix till combined
    Pour into prepared 23 cm tin
    Bake in oven for about 45 minutes
    You will probably find it needs another 10-15 minutes

    Test with a skewer if it comes out wet
    Put back in till skewer comes out clean
    It does take longer than you would expect

    Cool a little in the tin then turn out onto rack
    and cool

    I iced it with
    Orange and lemon icing
    160gms Icing sugar
    2 tablespoons butter
    Add zest of an orange
    And enough lemon juice to make a fairly stiff icing

    Very nice for Afternoon Tea
    It is Bread Baking Day #62
    I thought this would be a good post for this event

    Monday, November 04, 2013

    Quick and Tasty Prawn and Tomato Pasta - Pantry and Fridge Dish

    I need to have a herb garden here in our deck. Then this delicious dish, would look prettier.

    Nevertheless I haven't and I didn't want to go to the shops.
    I always have tinned tomatoes, dried pasta in the pantry
    Plus frozen prawns in the freezer
    Just add some garlic, lemon and good olive oil and you have an excellent dish
    This prawn dish is good enough to serve to guests.

    A friend, Chef Brent Matches, gave me a tip to get a really good quick tomato sauce.
    Add a slosh of vinegar at the end
    Use a good vinegar, I really like Cider or Rice Wine Vinegars, they have a touch of sweetness which lifts the tomatoes
     This also makes a great base for pizza and will keep well in the fridge for at least a week or so.

    I used Fettucine, but use any Pasta that takes your fancy or more to the point, whatever you have in the pantry
    Anything to soak up the fabulous sauce

    Tomato Sauce
    2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
    1 tin crushed tomatoes
     Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon sugar
    Slosh of vinegar (white wine, cider or rice wine)

    On a medium heat add olive oil and garlic
    Just cook for about 2 minutes to get the garlic going, (Oooh that divine aroma)
    Add the tin of Tomatoes, rinse out the tin with a little water, no waste please
    Season with Salt, Pepper and Sugar
    Simmer for about 10 minutes, longer if you have time but not really necessary
    Add Vinegar

    Set aside till needed
    Refrigerate, if needed later

    This is my favourite way of cooking prawns
    Inspired by Ina Garten The Barefoot Contessa
    Prawns cooked this way are now on our Christmas Menu
    Requested by the Grand Children

    They are so cheap these days, already cleaned and with just a tail on
    A great standby in your freezer
    The packet I buy, has approx 100 prawns per kilo
    Amount per person... that's up to you
    I reckon for this Pasta Dish about 8-10 per person

    Frozen Prawns
    Juice and Zest of 1 lemon
    Garlic peeled and crushed
    Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
    3 tablespoons of Olive Oil

    Thaw Prawns
    Throw into a ceramic dish
    Add Olive Oil. Lemon Zest, Garlic Salt and Pepper
    Let marinate for at least 10 minutes
    Meanwhile pre-heat oven to 210C

    Roast Prawns for 4 minutes
    Remove and pop into a dish with all of the juices
    Add Lemon Juice

    So while all of this is happneing
    Put a large pot of Salted water on to boil

    Add Fettucine Pasta... 100 gms per person

    Cook till al dente (around 8-9 minutes

    Combine Tomato Sauce, Pasta and Prawns
    As I said at the beginning, some cut up fresh herbs, would have been nice
    Basil or parsley I think


    Sunday, November 03, 2013

    Best Homemade French Bread - Thank you Terry Thompson-Signs of many more good lunches this Summer

     It is a beautiful day, here in Auckland
    November 4th, Summer is nearly here
    What a good time for lunch on the deck
    Sign, of many good days, to come this Summer
    Using what I had in the house, I cut up some, Tomatoes, Avocados, brought out some left over Prawn and Egg Salad
    Made this French Styled Bread
    It's really good
    Listening to Jimmy Buffet
    Perfect lunch.

    Just served with a Cheeky Pete's Shed Sauvignon Pink
    Wow what a find that is
    Anyway I thought I should re-post this recipe, I first posted it in 2008
    Many things have happened since then
    Bit I digress

    A while ago my good friend Diana gave me baguette tins. I have tried many recipes and have had success, but this is the closest I have got to bought French Bread.

    I love this cookbook from Terry Thompson. It’s called “Cajun Creole Cooking”
    She is so informative and instructive just like The Divine Marcella. I also include here as truly inspirational Elizabeth David and Mrs Julia Child...anyway
    I read Terry's book frequently for inspiration and it seems the page was always falling open on this recipe French Bread New Orleans Style.
    It seemed so simple anyone could make it. And it is so!

    It is designed for the food processor and what more can I say.
    Actual work time is only minutes but there is the usual resting time for the rising.
    So I started this at 8am and it was ready at 11.30 for our lunch.
    I turned my share into this yummy BLT.
    The flavour of this bread is fabulous. A great crispy crust and beautiful crumb.
    Fantastic flavour.
    All explained in the quote from Terry’s Book below.

    “A scientific discovery my good friend Shirley Corriher led to the addition of flavoured vinegars to the French Bread recipe. When testing breads prepared according to the age-old, long, slow rising French method, it was discovered that the dough became acidic during the extended and numerous risings. Her conclusion was simply to add acid at the beginning of the bread making process. The resulting loaves had both the aroma and the taste of the slightly soured and yeasty breads of Europe, without the long rising! Try this method with your favourite bread recipe, using as your guide one teaspoon of fruit-flavoured vinegar to every three cups of flour. Don’t be tempted to add more vinegar; excess acid could destroy the gluten in the flour.”

    I am so excited about this bread. It should be great on the boat.
    Have to take the food processor on board.


    1 1/2 cups warm water hand hot 45C
    1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

    1 pkt dry yeast (8gms)
    About 3cups flour

    1 1/2 teaspoons salt

    1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or any other mild fruit flavoured vinegar
    1/4 cup vegetable oil


    20 gms cup butter melted with 1/2 teaspoon salt

    In a 2 cup measuring cup combine water and sugar.
    Sprinkle in yeast; stir till blended
    Leave till foamy 5-10 minutes
    In a food processor with steel blade blend 3 cups flour, salt and vinegar
    Add dissolved yeast mix all at once
    Process 3-4 seconds to combine.
    The dough should be wet and sticky with a slight degree of body
    If it is too soupy add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time, processing between each addition until a wet sticky dough is formed.

    Process no more than 15 seconds to knead dough.
    Pour oil into a large bowl and oil your fingers
    Take dough from processor and pull of (with oiled hands) any dough stuck to blade and bowl.
    Form dough into a rough ball.
    Turn dough over several times to completely coat with oil.

    Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise till double in size. (approx 1- 1 1/2 hours)
    Lightly oil your tins
    Knock the dough down and pinch it into shape and pull to fit the tin.
    Brush dough with butter and salt glaze.
    Cover loosely with plastic wrap again

    Let rise till double in bulk
    Pre-heat oven to 205C
    When loaves are ready take plastic wrap off
    Brush again gently with butter and salt mixture.
    Into pre-heated oven

    It should take around 20 - 25 minutes to bake.
    Cook completely on cooling racks.

    This made 3 baguettes.
    Crisp crunchy crust and look at the crumb
    Just like a bought one.