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On Finding Favour...

Favour is a blessing.

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favour and a good name in the sight of God and man." - Proverbs 3:3-4

The Beauty of Sweet and Sour

lemon tart trio

Someone once said this of a lemon tart I made - that it wasn't a good mix of flavours, just because sour and sweet didn't seem like a wonderful combination. I was rather offended, not because my tart was criticised, but because the best pastry in the world was chided for that very aspect that I loved about it. I love that the lemon tart is a mix of both the sweet and sour and the sugar in the tangy lemon curd complements it so well that it can be eaten by the spoonful. 

Yesterday I tried another lemon curd recipe by Alton Brown because I was trying to finish up my egg yolks in the fridge. Honestly I can't decide which is my favourite curd recipe but I must say, this was really good. It was smooth, creamy and just the right texture and thickness. You can have the curd with anything and everything, with bread, with cereal, and of course my favourite way to finish the curd is to have it with a tart, which I made. 

Lemon Curd (adapted from Food Network and modified)

5 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3 lemons, zested and juiced (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup butter, cut into smaller pieces
1 vanilla bean 

Add enough water to a medium saucepan to come about 1-inch up the side. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium sized metal bowl and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup of juice and the zest into egg mixture and whisk till smooth. Once water reaches to a simmer, reduce heat to low and place the bowl on top of saucepan. Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in butter a piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next. Let the curd cool before refrigerating.

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Cupcakes and Weddings

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Cupcakes are perfect gifts for everyone. When you run out of things to give people, or in my case, strapped for cash to buy gifts, baking cupcakes is the way to go! It's heartfelt, sincere and full of love. Today I whipped up a batch of cupcakes for my neighbours, whose son is getting married tomorrow (well the son is my neighbour too, but I can never tell each son apart; they have 3). They were nice enough to invite my mum and myself to the church wedding tomorrow but my mum is away soaking up the aussie sun and I just couldn't make it, so I decided to bake for them just as a little token from the both of us. 

Choc cupcakes


Today I used the Magnolia Bakery vanilla cupcake recipe and split it into half so that I could add cocoa powder and make chocolate cupcakes too. The cupcakes were topped off with swirly creamy buttercream frosting (my favourite!) Let's just hope my neighbours have a sweet tooth, or at least they have some form of liking for cream. 

It was quite an adventure today baking the cupcakes. First I ran out of eggs. Then my mixer had to break down while I was trying to make the frosting. Thank God for my cousin who stays upstairs. It was a lifesaver because I managed to get eggs, and try my hand at my niece's awesome Kenwood. Note to self:NEED to get a kitchenaid or a kenwood next time! 

Despite that little bit of drama over there, I loved the end result. The cupcakes looked so pretty (and almost professional, now I'm not really trying to praise myself here), but look at the pictures! I hope they do the beauty of the cakes justice. 

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Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes (adapted from food.com)
(Makes 24)

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers. 
In a small bowl, add the flours, stir to combine, set aside
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter using an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth
Add the sugar gradually and beat for 3 minutes or until fluffy
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition
Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla
With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overmix
Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling about 3/4 full
Bake in a 180 degrees C oven for 20-25mins
Cool cupcakes in tin before frosting

pinkcupcake


Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

4 large egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

To make frosting, combine egg whites, sugar and salt in heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F and the sugar has dissolved.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fixed with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. If the frosting looks soupy or curdled continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again about 3-5 minutes more. Tint with desired colouring and frost your cupcakes!

The Third Kind of Marriage

Some food for thought, although I am not married yet and will not be married in the near future. 

Picture 2_phixr


"... The third kind of marriage is not perfect, not even close. But a decision has been made, and two people have decided to love each other to the limit, and to sacrifice the most important thing of all - themselves. In these marriages, losing becomes a way of life, a competition to see who can listen to, care for, serve, forgive, and accept the other the most. The marriage becomes a competition to see who can change in ways that are most healing to the other, to see who can give of themselves in ways that most increase the dignity and strength of the other. These marriages form people who can be small and humble and merciful and loving and peaceful. 

And they are revolutionary, in the purest sense of the word." 

Marriage is For Losers, Dr Kelly Flanagan


It's time for me to stop being idealistic and start living in reality. Love just isn't easy. 

Daydreaming takes you far

09_phixr
Image courtesy of bbabble

Last night my niece told me she wanted a HUGE kitchen. By HUGE, she meant that her future home would comprise of a kitchen and nothing else. She will sleep in the kitchen armed with a sleeping bag, and literally live in the kitchen. That got my thoughts running today. I want a gorgeous kitchen too. 

My kitchen will be white, with splashes of colour. It will have an island counter in the middle where cooking and preparation of food can be done, and it will have another counter that joins the living room to the kitchen. Maybe my kitchen will have a small dining table instead of the island. It will have an espresso machine, a kitchen aid mixer, a bright red convection oven and colourful bowls, plates and cups. My kitchen will also open out into the backyard (that's if i live in a house) and the backyard will overlook a rose garden and a lavender field. 

Daydreaming takes you to places. 

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