All the small things.

Its been a hard week. My transition into graduate studies hasn’t been a smooth one. Waking up hopeful, going to bed even more disheartened than the day before. Desperately in need of a pick me up. Desperately in need of a win. That’s where I’ve been this week. And I spiral. I’m a spiralling kinda girl. Think up every negative thought possible and let it pile atop me to no end. If I don’t take the time to stop myself, I’d be lost.

I’m not usually this way. But maybe I had seen myself somewhere else by now, in my head. I have exactly what I wanted yet not at all at the same time. I have never met anyone more confusing. I spend my days questioning my own thoughts, whether they are right. Because I feel wronged yet completely ungrateful at the same time.

I realise that I need to stop. I realise that the road to where you need to be isn’t always the one you pictured taking, that slowly and on my own terms I will learn to accept that someday. I realise that I need to just be okay where I am for a while. To trust, this course is not mine to control. To appreciate all the good around me in the form of little things. Like these cookies.

When I’m down, all I want to do is bake. Cliché but doesn’t make it any less true. So itching all week to bake myself a pick me up, I obsessively went through my long list of food blogs (yes, I abuse my rights to bookmark)– his being one of them. On the day I found his blog (only a few months ago), I went a little overboard and managed to go through every single post he had ever written (4 years worth!). Yeah. Amazing. Psychotic? Let’s agree to disagree. Anyway, having gone through all the recipes on his blog, there may or may not have been a spastic clicking moment where I bookmarked a few (a lot) of his recipes. I won’t say. But this recipe wasn’t one of them for some BIZARRE reason. Let’s call it temporary brain dead.

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These. They’re wonderful. They’re, as he calls them, CINNAMINIS! Would it make you think any less of me if I said I’ve been screaming that all day? No? I hope so. It makes this whole thing like ten times more fun, and it was already pretty damn fun to begin with. Just sayin’.

Gotta admit I was a little worried at first. First of all, never made cinnamon rolls before (sad to say). Second, Tim addressed them as cookies. With that said, I found myself asking a lot of questions like “Is this too much butter? Did I roll the dough out too small, how much sugar exactly goes on this thing?! They look soft in the photos, I hope they come out soft. What if they come out like rocks?”.

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Needless to say, all that worrying was in vain. Because they came out perfect (which translates into: I literally stared them down the whole time they were in the oven to make sure nothing went wrong)! In the oven, all that brown sugar and butter bubbles and boils to form this perfect caramel between each layer which is so fun to watch yet extremely excruciating at the same time.

To save you the trouble of wishing (trying) to reach into the screen and feeling these babies up like I wanted to, I will tell you now that these cinnaminis are like a hybrid between a cookie and a bun. Crunch on the outside, chew on the inside. Heavenly. So heavenly in fact that I popped one right into my mouth the moment I took them out. (No judging. Except maybe you shouldn’t do that unless you like temporary, internal chest burns.) Of course I didn’t know it then but I was so happy after I tasted them that I went for a second one right after. Then I did a dance, yes, as I bit into them I danced a little. I swayed and ooh-ed and smiled from the inside out. Then I attacked another.

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It goes without saying that I lack that girly touch that most girls have to make things pretty. Tim’s are gorgeous by the way and put mine to shame. But they’re so yum I don’t care! :D

I know these little rolls aren’t going to take my troubles away, but they are precisely the little things in life that I have learned to appreciate and be happy over. Like pancakes or early, quiet mornings.

So, try them? Not a question. You must! Try them!

Sweet little traditions.

Growing up we were taught that family always came first. That no matter what happened, we would always have each other; for better or worse. We are a small family, the four of us, but we are a happy one. Like every family we battled through our own share of ups and downs– arguments, memories, family vacations and some very very lame jokes (on my dad’s part). And like every family, there are things we do that will always remain our own. This cake is one of them.

On more laid-back weekends, when the afternoon sun was a little kinder and work did not get in the way, my mom would make us this cake. It was a cake we celebrated, a little something so humble yet equally special that we could share– the four of us.

Light on the tongue, soft to the bite, just so slightly sweet you almost have to close your eyes to savour it. Moist, so so moist. And now that I have taken over the baking department in our home, my mother has passed the responsibility of recreating this wonderful little tradition on to me. And the best part? It’s steamed. Now, stay with me on this. I know its not conventional but trust me. It will not only work but it will taste so good that by the end of it you will want to kick me for not warning you about how dangerously addictive it can be.

Steamed Milo Cake

makes one 8 x 8 inch cake

5 oz. castor sugar
6 oz. butter (I used salted but unsalted would be good here)
3 large eggs
4 oz. all purpose flour
4 oz. Milo (or any other chocolate malt powder you prefer really)
1 tsp. baking soda
5 oz. evaporated milk

Line cake tin with parchment/silicone/wax paper.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, ensuring each one is completely incorporated before next addition.
In a separate bowl, sieve together the flour and baking soda. Add Milo to the mix, do not sieve.
Add dry ingredient mixture to the creamed butter and sugar.
Finally, add the evaporated milk and mix well. At this point, it will look a little strange, like the mixture has curdled and isn’t well incorporated. Do not worry, trust me and carry on with the next step.
Cover the top of the tin with cling film and put in steamer until cooked (approx. 30-40 minutes); a clean toothpick/cake tester when inserted into the centre should come out clean.

*in case you need a conversion for these units you could try here.

Batter pre-evaporated milk.

Post-evaporated milk.

And tadaa! We have Steamed Milo Cake! Enjoy :)

Two years…

That’s how long we’ve been together. It isn’t a long time, is it?

It’s interesting how we got together; he and I. It was not easy, you could almost call it arduous even. Unfortunately, the process of getting a boyfriend isn’t always through a romantic comedy type meet-cute (although it should, always). Sometimes the process of gaining also means losing something else. Regretfully, some hearts were broken, simple communication often escaped us and a few friends were lost in the process. But at the same time, stronger bonds were forged, lessons were learned and new strength was found through prayer and in each other.

If you asked me now what I would do differently if I could change the course of history, I’d probably tell you that with the exception of sparing the hurt feelings of all other parties involved, nothing. Except I’d do it all more surely this time around. That I wouldn’t doubt that this person was not only be capable of providing what feels like an inexhaustible supply of love and security, but that he’d also quickly become my best friend. That he could teach me love that is much unlike everything I’ve ever read or what people have attempted to describe. That it is worth all the trouble to be with someone who brings the absolute best out of you, who actually knows you better than you do yourself.

So, in an attempt to express the gratitude and love that I feel every day, on his birthday a couple months back I decided to make him dinner. If you know me at all, you’d know that just the idea of that worried us both a little bit. However, putting my lack of experience in all things cooking aside, I was very excited.

Dinner turned out all right although lacking in some places, the result of a complete rookie in the kitchen no doubt. So, if its okay with you, let’s never again not go into the details of our dinner. What we absolutely must talk about though is the birthday cake that completely stole the show.

Cheesecake is the silly boy’s favourite. He’s generally a pretty loose guy when it comes to food and all other things but there are two things that he just absolutely cannot and will not compromise on; burgers and cheesecake. You have to get them just right or you will hear about it so you can probably imagine the concern I had when attempting this cake. However, all worries proved to be in vain once I stumbled upon this blog (a very happy accident!) and did a test run.

Now, I am not particularly picky when it comes to cheesecake, I do not enjoy it religiously but I believe that this recipe may be capable of converting a few non-believers into forming a mini cheesecake cult. Just maybe. It is a cheesecake in all its glory, no trimmings, no fancy schmancy. Simplicity at its best; extremely light, very tasty and relatively easy to make.

And do you want to hear a secret? It got the cheesecake nazi’s stamp of approval. ;)

I followed the recipe exactly which you can find here. And while you’re there be sure to check out the rest of her blog, it is stunning. :)

Happy weekend!

Warm greetings!

Now, I’m not sure where my love of baking came from. I’d like to say that it just sprouted from within me overnight but I think it partly came from watching my mom in the kitchen as I was growing up. Although baking in the kitchen is something that only happens on more special days, when she does the products are glorious.

It wasn’t until a few months ago that I started really trying my hand at it. It was when we finally got the Food Network on our local cable provider. Watching them every day would really get my senses tingling and doing a little dance, so that was really the last straw for me. I had to try it for myself and no, they did not disappoint– it really is heaps of fun. Currently being on break, I get a lot of free time on my hands these few months before I really start my research so I’d like to try as many recipes as I can in the mean time.

Took a trip to the local kitchen supplies store a few weeks back with my mom and finally picked up my very own mini-bundt tray after weeks of agonizing on whether or not to get it. I wanted to try it out right away so I looked through a few of the blogs I frequent and found the perfect recipe. Honey-Meyer Lemon Pound Cake with Chamomile Glaze from Desserts for Breakfast! Now, recipes don’t always jump out of the page for me but this one really did somehow. Maybe it was her beautiful pictures or the serendipity of the find, either way I had to try it immediately.

These little bites are warm and comforting, with a slightly chewy outer layer but a soft and crumbly interior. They give off the loveliest faint aroma of honey and will put a smile on any rough day.

Enjoy!

Honey-Meyer Lemon Pound Cake with Chamomile Glaze
adapted from Desserts for Breakfast 

makes 6-8 mini bundt cakes
(I got about 20 small ones, probably due to smaller moulds on my part)

 For the cake:

1/4 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp meyer lemon juice*
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn salt
13 Tbsp (or 187 g) butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp meyer lemon zest
3 eggs

For the glaze:

6 Tbsp hot water
4 Tbsp dried chamomile blossoms**
3/4 cup fine granulated sugar **

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C/350 degrees F.
Grease mini-bundt molds.

Whisk milk, lemon juice and honey together until combined, set aside.

Cream butter until light and fluffy using a mixer bowl with a paddle attachment on medium high for approx. 2 mins. or using a wooden spoon like I did (I let the butter soften to room temperature first which makes it a lot easier to cream).
Gradually add sugar and lemon zest, mix for 2-3 mins.
Add one egg at a time, beating well between each addition until completely incorporated.
Beat in flour mixture in two batches, alternating with milk and honey mixture. Do not overmix.

Pour batter into moulds, bake for 25-35 minutes (mine took around 30 mins) until cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean.

Remove cake from oven, let cool for 10mins before removing from moulds.

Pour hot water over chamomile blossoms, cover and let steep for 5mins.
Remove blossoms and stir sugar into the liquid until combined.

Glaze warm cakes, let dry completely before serving.

* we are not supplied with Meyer lemons here so I used regular medium sized lemons which worked fine too.

** i substituted the chamomile for Lipton’s Yellow Label Tea which was the only kind I had on hand and cut the sugar added to the glaze down by half, just a personal preference.