Baking

Olive Oil Blondies w' Chocolate Frosting

in the two months since my last post here, i've started med school. it is insanely busy and crazy and i love it.  i can now give injections and have a rudimentary understanding of why these here olive oil blondies might be a tad bad for us. but oh well they're delicious let's eat them anyway. 

starting this new chapter of my life ( i say started, but i'm halfway through the semester) has made me consider what kind of stuff might be featured here on this little internet corner. i figure that i might like to look back on all aspects of my life, not just my baking and cooking adventures. so expect some med school life content! in other news, between lectures, tutorials and traffic jams (i am beginning to feel like i'm spending my life in the cars somewhat), i have been slowly rekindling my love with the gym. slowly.  it's a fragile and tentative relationship, not unlike the one between tom and jerry from old saturday morning cartoons. speaking of cats, the cat lady life is approaching me. when i once thought that uni life would be staying out late and partying on, it really is hanging out with my bestie's new kitten (so! cute!), and wondering if 8:30 is too early to go to bed on a saturday night. #grandmalife

the importance of routine is setting in too. even though all my days start at different times, and my timetable is slightly different every week, i'm starting to get used to a routine of uni, study, sleep, gym (ish), working and hanging out. hopefully i get better at incorporating more of these posts into that routine! the shock of feeling lost, confused and not understanding most of what is happening is wearing off, and slowly but surely uni is becoming more like a good friend rather than a weird kooky cousin. the more i hear about the importance of looking after yourself as a medical student, the more i realise the importance of keeping it simple when it comes to wellbeing. personally, i don't feel the need for special powders in my smoothies (but hey! if that's what floats your boat keep on rolling!) or complicated workouts and wellbeing apps. just simple things like drinking water, going for a run, lifting some weight, having naps, switching my phone off and taking time to check in with my brain about how i'm feeling works for me. essentially, the content i'm studying is complicated enough - so i figure keeping the rest of my life as simple as possible is the way to go! 

so, in the theme of keeping it simple, here's a delicous recipe that is no fuss. no thousand glossy photos or complicated instructions. just a treat that may not be excellent for your body, but is fabulous for the soul. it's all about balance hey?

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even though the easter period is a time for chocolate, this recipe is perfect to share with those who perhaps aren't chocolate fanatics. these blondies are sweet, moist, dense, caramelly and delicious. i threw a chocolate buttercream frosting on top (with sprinkles ofc) to jazz them up a bit because i live by the rule that everything is better with buttercream and sprinkles. this recipe belongs to molly of mynameisyeh, and i made them for a bake stall at my old high school earlier in the year, they were a hit!! my frosting was slightly different to the original recipe, just because of my own personal preference and for dietary reasons. 10/10 would recommend, an excellent alternative to a brownie for the dairy-free amongst us! 


Olive Oil Blondies w' Chocolate Frosting

makes 16 large blondies

ingredients

for the blondies

2 c flour
2 c lightly packed brown sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 c olive oil
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

for the frosting

200g vegan butter (room temp)

350g icing sugar

50g caco powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp unsweetened almond milk

sprinkles

method

to make the blondies

preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease and line a square baking tin with baking paper, about 20x20 cm. 

in one large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, salt and baking powder. in another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, eggs and vanilla. making a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the wet mix and whisk to combine. 

pour the batter into the lined baking tin and use a spatula or palette knife to spread an even surface on the mixture. bake for 35 minutes, then check for done-ness by sticking a skewer into the centre, on a slight angle. if it comes out clean, the blondies are ready. if not, bake for another 2 minutes, then check again.

leave to cool in the pan while making the frosting. 

to make the  frosting

cream the butter, icing sugar and cacao powder in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. beat for 3 minutes until pale and smooth. add the vanilla and almond milk and beat again for another minute. 

remove the blondies from the pan and frost. decorate with sprinkles as desired. 

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happy belated easter, enjoy the choccies!! 

jess x

  

Gingerbread Biscuits

 an updated recipe

it's nearly been a year since this space here on ALA was updated and that's for a few reasons. firstly, and most obviously, i have been highly preoccupied with finishing my final year of high school and prepping for the exams which will let me into uni courses in 2018. secondly, in the time that may have been spare for recipe making, shooting and editing, i found myself at music rehearsals, at a much needed yoga class or dealing with some of the curveballs the universe has thrown at my life recently. 

during this period of waiting for my final results and score, i knew that it was time to return to this corner of the internet and to my long afternoons in the kitchen (even if the only person reading this is my mum) (hi mum!). so, here's a little update and recipe to get me back into gear!

if you've been around here for a while you'll know that christmas is my favourite time of year for food, and it will forever disappoint me that it is miles too hot in australia for warm comfort food in december and a racially-sensitive white christmas. nevertheless the universal nature of chrissy baking means that whilst my winter coats are away, the cinnamon and ginger can come out to play. 

this is an updated recipe, since during my time *off* from blogging there was a moment of discovery late last week in which i found this recipe tucked away in a stephanie alexander cookbook. oh stephy, you remind me that not all heroes wear capes. #aussielegend

these biscuits are spicy and crunchy and have just the right structural integrity to maintain their form when dunked into a cup of tea. mine were decorated with royal icing and coconut, but you could make a house, a family or a squad of superheroes with yours. the options are endless, so decorate your little heart out. go on, it's christmas. 

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notes: this recipe isn't mine (as mentioned above) yet some adaptations have been made to the original. because i posses the coordination and grace of a baby giraffe when it comes to most things, my shapes were small and my gingerbread on the thicker side for easy handling. personally, thicker gingerbread is my preference, however if thinner is your cup of tea, reduce the cooking time by 5-7 minutes 


gingerbread biscuits 

makes about 24 biscuits

ingredients

for the gingerbread cookies

85g unsalted vegan butter

90g brown sugar

1/4 c golden syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg yolk 

235g self-raising flour (plus extra to dust board)

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

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for the royal icing

2 egg whites 

1 c pure icing sugar 

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desiccated coconut (for decoration, optional)

method

to make the gingerbread cookies

in the bowl of a stand mixer slowly combine the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and golden syrup on low speed until a consistent colour is developed. increase the speed and beat until pale and creamy (~3 minutes).

add the egg yolk and beat high until the mixture increases in size and pales. 

meanwhile, in a large bowl gently combine the flour, salt and spices. with the beater on the lowest speed, add about 1/4 cup of the flour at a time, before increasing the speed to bind the dough together. it should be still quite wet and squidgy. 

roll the dough into a thick sausage about 20 cm long and wrap it in two layers of cling wrap. leave the dough in the freezer for three hours or until firm and cold (if you are making it multiple days in advance, let the dough freeze completely or chill in the fridge overnight for next-day use).

preheat the oven to 180C and line 2 trays with baking paper. 

dust a rolling pin and a clean dry surface with flour and roll out the chilled dough into a rectangle about 5mm thick. cut the dough into shapes and bake on the prepared trays in the oven for about 12-15 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch. re-roll any remaining scraps into a rectangle and cut more biscuits. if at any time during re-rolling remaining dough to cut more shapes the dough becomes warm from the heat of your hands, return it to the freezer until chilled once more. 

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to make the royal icing

while the biscuits are cooling, beat the egg whites and icing sugar on high, using a whisk attachment until stiff peaks are formed. transfer the icing to a piping bag with a small round nozzle and, once the cakes are cooled, pipe away! sprinkle some desiccated coconut on top for a wintery-snow vibe! 

make sure to wait until the icing is properly set hard before storing the biscuits in an airtight container. 

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Red Velvet Sheet Cake

argh christmas is in two days and argh so much still to bake but argh i'm so excited and argh it's gonna be so hot on christmas day and argh!!!!! i fought my way through melbourne central and onto a train today and nearly struggled to breathe in the christmas crowds this afternoon, but my mood lifted when i saw people running around wearing santa hats and reindeer antlers wishing everybody happy holidays! merry christmas! happy new year! enjoy hanukkah! thanks antler people <3

in other news, i finally filled the pots i've been storing in boxes on a bookshelf since we moved into there invited house with plants!! one's called clive, the other is patricia. patricia is my new kitchen and blog assistant and i think her pink colour makes her extra sassy, whilst clive sits on my desk and helps me make good decisions when writing and editing my essays. i also recently was gifted a gorgeous pine tree scented candle (thanks belle!!) and i think clive and patricia might be getting jealous (they don't really smell of anything you see) but it's ok, i think they'll get over it. 

speaking of plants, our garden has paving!! i'm so excited to play with a skipping rope on it and draw hopscotch games. do you remember those songs that we used to sing when playing jump rope? there was one about a teddy bear turning around, one was with the alphabet to guess the names of your future spouses and children.....ah grade 3 was cute. my ultimate favourite skipping game though was double dutch. i could not for the life of me be the person on the end twisting the ropes (the hand-eye coordination of eight year old jess was sadly, sub-par) but i got really good at the jumping bit!! it's funny the things you remember from being little hey? 

notes: here's a red velvet sheet cake inspired by this recipe here from molly (the ultimate bae). by adding more cacao powder and swapping the buttermilk out for almond milk, i made it a bit more fudgie. it's lying on the territory between a cake and a brownie and is a great base for flavoured frostings and fruity toppings with it's subtle chocolate flavour and dense, yet light, texture. i think a sheet cake is a really american thing to do, but i'm totally sold on the whole idea. it's super easy to share with the masses and decorate quickly. cake with friends that looks pretty with minimal effort, who doesn't love that???? 


Red Velvet Sheet Cake 

{makes 12 squares}

ingredients

1 1/4 c plain flour, sifted

3/4 tsp baking powder, sifted

1/2 tsp sea salt

3 tb cacao powder, sifted

1/2 c coconut oil 

1 c caster sugar

1 egg

1 tb red food colouring (paste or gel works best)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp white vinegar

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

fresh fruit (optional), to serve

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or the buttercream

330g vegan butter

750g icing (confectioner's) sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

method

preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and prepare a rectangular brownie tin (either with baking parchment or butter and flour). 

in a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cacao powder. set aside. 

in the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the coconut oil and sugar on high for 4-5 minutes or until pale, creamy and voluminous. add the egg and beat again for another 2 minutes. add the food colouring, vanilla and vinegar before mixing for a final 3 minutes on high, or until the colour has been evenly distribute throughout the mixture (scrape the bowl down with a spatula to check that the base of the mixture is evenly coloured). 

add the dry mix to the bowl of the electric mixer in three parts, mixing on the lowest setting. watch out for flour storms. add the almond milk and gradually increase the speed of the mixer to high. mix until well combined. 

pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes. start checking for doneness at 25 minutes using a skewer - if the skewer comes out clean, the cake is ready. 

set the cake aside to cool in the tin. once cooled, remove from the tin and frost with the buttercream icing. top with in season fruit (i used passionfruit and cherries - the chocolaty sweetness of the cake and frosting worked really well with the sharp and tangy flavours of the fruit) or sprinkles!!! 

cut the cakes into small squares to serve.the cakes will keep for 5 days stored at room temperature in a sealed container, although is best eaten within the first 3. 

to make the buttercream

in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the vegan butter and the icing sugar starting on a low speed, before creaming on high for 5 minutes. add the vanilla and beat again for another 5 minutes on high.

refrigerate the frosting for at least 15 minutes before spreading on the cake with a raised palette knife. 


- jess 

p.s. merry chrimbo!!! i hope santa comes!!