Italian meringue

Italian meringue
Italian meringue

Italian meringue has several uses in dessert world. It is the most versatile element when it comes to decorating cakes, mousses, tarts and other desserts. The fact that it can be piped in to any shape you like gives you space to be creative and make dessert plates look stunning. Also when burned using a torch, the meringue changes the look completely making a simple tart look elegant. It is not difficult to make Italian meringue as long as all the steps are followed correctly.

It is a mixture of egg whites and sugar just like the easy Swiss meringue, but the sugar is added as a hot syrup. The trickiest bit is to get the sugar syrup to reach 113 °C- 115 °CAlso the egg whites has to be whisked to soft peak stage before adding the syrup. The best way to do this is to start whipping the egg whites when sugar syrup reaches 110 °C. Use a candy thermometer to read the temperature. As soon as the temperature is right, you can start beating the egg whites again and drizzle the syrup until every thing is combined. The mixing ball will feel very warm to touch at this stage. Keep whisking on high speed until the bowl feel cold to touch. By this time the meringue will be looking nice and shiny and thick.

Italian meringue
Italian meringue

Do not leave it for too long as it will deflate. The firm meringue is stable and could be piped to any shape. You can either burn it using a blow torch or leave it as it is.

Any left overs can be baked in a slow oven to make meringue kisses, bird nests or mini pavlovas. To do this, use a pastry bag fitted with a tip of your chose and pipe small kisses on to a lined baking tray or a silicon mat. Then bake the in 120 °C oven for about two hour and then let them dry out in a switched off oven. Remove when done. Store in a air tight container.

Italian meringue
Italian meringue
Italian meringue

dessert

Servings: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 225 g sugar
  • 125 ml water
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (or few drops of vinegar)

Instructions

  1. Place water and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves.
  2. Increase heat and bring sugar syrup to a boil.
  3. Keep boiling until temperature reaches 110 ºC.
  4. At this point start whisking the egg whites and the cream of tartar to a soft peak stage.
  5. Meanwhile let the boiling sugar syrup reach 115 ºC and take it off heat.
  6. We are going to add this syrup into the beating egg whites next.
  7. While whisking the egg white on medium-high, drizzle the hot sugar syrup in a steady, consistent flow until all of syrup is being used.
  8. Increase speed to high and keep whisking until the mixture cools down and a shiny stiff meringue is developed. This usually takes about 5-8 minutes.
  9. Use the meringue as desired.
https://myloveofbaking.com/italian-meringue/
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Cheesecake and lemon-curd surprise

cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise
cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise

This is my version of Bomb Alaska for the winter. The burned meringue is hiding a creamy baked cheesecake and a generous layer of homemade lemon curd. This dessert strikes a perfect flavor balance between sweet and tangy with different textures ranging from creamy to crispy.

The main element of this dessert is the cheesecake which is an all season dessert for me. I love to top the cheesecake with seasonal fruits or berries. Sometimes I like to have it plain or with maple syrup. But my latest addiction is lemon curd. I love how the lemon curd cuts through the creamy richness of the cheesecake. So I decided to use the combination for this dessert.

cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise
cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise

You can find my lemon curd and Italian meringue recipes on this blog. Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice for best results when making lemon curd. And you can make lemon curd ahead of time. They keep well in the refrigerator for up to a week or more if you bottle it properly. I always have a jar or two of lemon curd in my fridge. I think it is a good way to use up lemons when they are in abundance.

The Italian meringue, even though made out of a lot of sugar, is not over powering at all. Instead it balances the textures of a dessert. In this dessert this is also the sweet element. A thick meringue coating is used here to cover the entire cheesecake while the generous layer of tangy lemon curd cuts through the sweetness perfectly, making you want to go for more.

cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise
cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise

Cheesecake needless to say is creamy and cheesy which is very neutral so you can pair it with other flavors as you wish. This is a simple cheesecake with just cream cheese, eggs and sugar. But I have made the biscuit base a little bit thicker than I usually would. Because I needed a lot of crunch to balance out all the soft textures piled on top of each other. And an extra pinch of salt in the biscuit crumb, which will enhance it’s flavor even more.

The meringue recipe makes about a two cups which is a little too much for this dessert. But the leftover can be used to make meringue kisses. Just pipe small dollops and bake for about 2 hours at a law temperature (150 °C) until crispy and lightly browned. These crispy meringues are perfect to be served with tea or coffee or served as a separate dessert, paired with some cream and berries.

cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise
cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise

This dessert is best eaten on the same day of making as the meringue will not last long and cannot be refrigerated. Also once sliced, the lemon curd will start oozing. This is why I make a small cheesecake so this could be finished in one sitting. Perfect for a group of 4 – 6 people. For a larger group, you can double this recipe without a problem.

Try this out when you want to please a crowd next time. It will definitely be a show stopper !

Cheesecake and lemon-curd surprise

cheesecake, dessert

Servings: 6-8 servings

cheesecake & lemoncurd surprise

Ingredients

    For the cheesecake base
  • 8-6 Digestive biscuits
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. melted butter
    For the cheesecake
  • 250 g cream cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 50 ml of milk
  • 3/4 cup of icing sugar (sifted)
    For topping
  • 1 cup lemon-curd (find recipe here)
  • 1 1/2 cups of Italian meringue (find recipe here)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 160 ºC.
  2. Prepare a 6 inch baking tin or a ring, lined with parchment paper.
  3. Melt the butter and let cool down.
  4. Place digestive biscuits in a food processor and process until fine. (or place the biscuits in a plastic bag and beat with a rolling pin)
  5. Add sugar and process to combine.
  6. Add melted butter and process until crumbs come together.
  7. Use the crumb mix to create a base in the tin or ring by pressing evenly. No need to cover the sides. Place this in the fridge until you prepare the cheesecake batter.
  8. In a bowl of a mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese until soft.
  9. Add the icing sugar and continue to mix.
  10. Add one egg at a time clearing after each addition.
  11. Finally add the milk and baking powder and stir until smooth.
  12. Pour in to the prepared tin or ring.
  13. Bake for about 1 hour until top is firm and center is still just wobbly.
  14. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool down in the tin.
  15. Once cooled, unmold the cheesecake on to a serving platter.
  16. Spread lemon-curd on the top of the cheesecake and smooth out.
  17. Pipe or spread the meringue over the cheesecake and the lemon curd starting from the outside.Once the whole cake is covered, pile some more meringue over the top and give some texture using the back of the spoon.
  18. Lightly brown the meringue with a blow torch.
  19. Best served on the same day.
  20. Store in a cool place covered for up to two days
https://myloveofbaking.com/cheesecake-and-lemon-curd-surprise/
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Tea-infused Scones

tea infused scones

Playing with flavors is one of my favorite pass time activities. This is another scones recipe that I tried and thought it is a keeper. A good flaky scone is always a winner at the table. What could be better than a scone to have with your evening cup of tea? An infused scone.

My latest obsession is infusing food with flavors specially with tea. It has become a bit of a trend followed by numerous cooking shows. However, I quite like the idea of infused teas and why not use that tea to infuse some scones?

What I have done is soak up a hand full of sultanas in hot tea. Tea can be anything you fancy, I have tried this with earl grey, lady grey, lemon grass and all of them turned out nice and aromatic.

It is simple. Just brew your choice of tea (a tea with unique smell works better) in a teapot and then strain and reheat the tea. I then let the sultanas soak in the tea for about an hour. Then simply strain and toss these sultanas in your scones dough. If you like a stronger infusion, use some of the tea as well.

When the scones are being baked, the whole house fills with the sensational fragrance that will make your mouth water.

As the scones are already so good and sweet with all the sultanas, you can eat them as is. But some jam wouldn’t hurt and a dollop of cream too if you fancy.

Give these a go and let me know if you liked it. Post any questions in the comments or on Instagram, I will try my best to reply to them all.

Tea-infused Scones

scones

Servings: 10 medium sized

Tea-infused Scones

Ingredients

  • 250 g self-rising flour
  • 20 g caster sugar
  • 15 g milk powder
  • 50 g butter (cold, cubed)
  • 100 ml water
  • A hand full of sultanas
  • Tea of your choice (I’m using lemongrass)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 220 °C
  2. Brew tea in a separate pot and strain out.
  3. Reheat and let sultanas soak in the tea for an hour.
  4. Place flour, milk powder, sugar in a big bowl and give a quick mix.
  5. Add the cold butter and rub in to flour using fingers, until it represents breadcrumbs.
  6. Strain the sultanas and add in to the mix.
  7. Add two table spoons of the tea to the mix.
  8. Add water and mix with a spoon or hand until just combined. (Adjust water depending on the wetness or dryness of the mix)
  9. Place the dough on to a floured surface and fold and compress delicately, until the dough comes together.
  10. Let sit for 10 minutes, covered with a tea towel.
  11. Roll the dough on a floured surface to a 3.5 cm thickness and cut shapes using a cutter.
  12. Brush the tops with a little milk or a light egg wash (optional)
  13. Place on the prepared tray and bake for 20 minutes or until tops become light golden brown.
  14. Roll on a floured surface to 3.5 cm thickness and cut shapes using a cutter.
  15. Place on the prepared tray and bake for 20 minutes or until tops become light golden brown.
  16. Let them cool on a wire rack.
  17. Serve with your favorite topping.
https://myloveofbaking.com/tea-infused-scones/
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Pumpkin spice cupcakes

I have made hundreds of cupcakes since I started my baking adventures and have always been trying to create new flavors. This pumpkin spice cupcake is one of them and by far my favorite. I was playing with pumpkin as it was the Halloween season and I thought there is never a better chance to try this cupcake.

I loved the soft pillowy texture despite having pumpkin in. Also the spices came through beautifully. The cupcake itself is not overly sweet so the cream cheese frosting goes really well balancing out the sweetness.

I didn’t use canned pumpkin puree, instead roasted a sweet butter nut pumpkin half until soft and scooped out the flesh. Puree the flesh in a food processor before adding to the cake. Be careful of how much milk you’d want to add. This depend on how wet your pumpkin puree is. You want the cake batter in the ribbon consistency just like a butter cake batter would look like.

You can swap milk with non-dairy milk. I used dark brown sugar but I think light brown sugar would be fine too.

For the frosting, I used 3 cups of icing sugar at first and thought it was a bit too rich and sweet. So I have changed the recipe to use more butter and less of sugar. The trick is to whip butter until soft and fluffy. Then you can add cream cheese followed by icing sugar and give a quick whip on high until just combined. Keeping the frosting in the fridge until it is firm helps with piping.

Cupcakes would sit at room temperature for a couple of hours in cooler weathers. They will have to be refrigerated after that and thawed back before serving.

This is a must try, if you are a fan of all things pumpkin!!

Pumpkin spice cupcakes

cakes

Servings: 12

Pumpkin spice cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the cupcakes:
  • 250 g plain flour
  • 180 g castor sugar
  • 125 g butter at room temperature
  • 80 g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 ml milk
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. bicarb soda
    For the cream cheese frosting:
  • 225 g cream cheese
  • 100 g butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
  2. Line a muffin tray with paper muffin liners.
  3. Sift together the flour and all the spices and set aside.
  4. Beat butter, white sugar and brown until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time clearing after each addition.
  6. Stir in the pumpkin puree and mix until just combined.
  7. Fold in the flour mixture alternating with milk.
  8. Dispense the batter into the molds and bake for about 20 minutes or the cakes are just done.
  9. Cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.
    To make the frosting:
  1. Beat butter until pale and fluffy.
  2. Add softened cream cheese and icing sugar.
  3. Beat until incorporated and refrigerate for about 15 minutes or until piping consistency is achieved.F
  4. Frost the cupcakes before serving.
  5. Refrigerate leftover cupcakes in an air tight container.
https://myloveofbaking.com/pumpkin-spice-cupcakes/
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Healthy banana loaf

When you see some overripe bananas, the first thing that comes to your mind is undoubtedly the good old banana bread. But I am not willing to put a load of brown sugar in my body to save a few bananas. It’s always good to have a slice or two occasionally but having a whole loaf sitting in the pantry is not going to help my diet.

So I thought of replacing the usual ingredients in a banana bread with their healthy substitutes to create a breakfast loaf. It still contains sugar and carbs and thus gives no excuses to over eating but it is better in many ways and is a great grab and go breakfast option.

Notice this is made with only whole wheat flour. I was tempted to substitute half of the flour with rolled oats, but I postponed it for another time. No refined sugar is used what so ever. Instead, I’m using some honey and molasses. Molasses gives that nice brown colour and that subtle caramelized flavour. But I am not quite sure the flavour came through in this case, but the colour was beautiful. Butter is replaced with olive oil and apple sauce. This makes the crumb supper moist and soft.

Make sure to grease the loaf tin properly. I have sprinkled some pepitas on top for extra texture but it is completely optional. If you like you can use some oats, or chopped nuts instead of pepitas or place a whole banana split lengthwise to make it more visually appealing.

Once the loaf is completely cooled, you can cut thick slices and wrap them individually and freeze them for up to two weeks.

Healthy banana loaf

cakes

Servings: 8-10 slices

Healthy banana loaf

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe medium bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 egg
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • A handful of pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 160 °C.
  2. Grease a 9 by 5 inch loaf tin.
  3. Place oil, eggs, honey, apple sauce and molasses in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  4. Add the smashed bananas and mix to combine.
  5. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to the wet mixture along with the milk.
  6. Stir until everything is combined and pour in to the prepared tin.
  7. Sprinkle the pepitas on top and bake for about an hour or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Let the loaf cool for about 10 minutes before taking it off the pan.
  9. Cool completely before cutting in to it.
https://myloveofbaking.com/healthy-banana-loaf/
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Protein brownie bar

protein brownie
Protein brownie bars

This is my favorite protein bar with more than 6 g of protein and less than 3 g of sugar per serve. When I run out of my vanilla protein powder, I use chocolate flavored powder to make these protein bytes. If you can’t stand the taste of protein shake like me, give these a go and you’ll have no problem in getting your post workout protein into your body. If not they can be used as a snack, no problem.

protein brownie
Protein brownie bars

Apart from it is high in protein, I have substituted butter with coconut oil and it turned out pretty OK. Chewy and chocolaty and most importantly, it camouflaged the protein powder really well.

This is a law carb protein bar but I call this a brownie, as I altered a regular brownie recipe and it looks a lot like one too. Brownies are very forgiving and so you can play with different fusions or mas-ups. Saying that I’m thinking of a cheese cake brownie that I always wanted to make.

protein brownie
Thick batter

Feel free to add your favorite. I’m using walnuts as it gives a nice texture and is packed full of nutrients. You can use hazelnuts too. Any nut that won’t go soggy when baked is okay. Usually, brownies call for a large amount of butter, and I’m replacing that with pure, extra-virgin coconut oil, because I like the flavor batter. You can of-course use grass-fed butter. I have also replaced some of the eggs with just egg whites. And last, but not least, the chocolate, has to be a good quality dark chocolate. If you use anything more that 70% cocoa, the bitter taste is going to come through. As we don’t add sugar, this might be a bit over powering, but again, if you are fan of bitter chocolate, no problem there!

protein brownie
Protein brownie slab

Experiment with adding other super foods, but be aware of the sugar to protein ratio. Even though we don’t add sugar as is, natural food contain sugar too. Try to keep sugar level down and increase the fiber, to make it low-GI.

These can be kept in an air tight container at room temperature for a day or two in cooler weather, but keep them refrigerated to preserve for longer.

Protein brownie bar

snacks

Servings: a dozen

protein brownie

Ingredients

  • 125 g coconut oil
  • 125 g dark chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/3 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 scoops of chocolate flavored protein powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • A handful of chopped walnuts”

Instructions

  1. Prepare a brownie pan (9” by ‘9’) by lining it with baking paper
  2. Preheat oven to 180 C
  3. Melt dark chocolate and coconut over a double boiler
  4. Lightly beat eggs and egg whites with vanilla and apple sauce
  5. Once the chocolate is melted, add the egg mixture followed by the dry ingredients
  6. Mix until just combined and fold in the nuts, do not over mix as this will make brownies tougher
  7. Pour into the prepared tin and bake until done for about 20 – 30 minutes
  8. Top should be completely dry and when pressed lightly, the center should feel soft but not runny
  9. It will continue to cook and set while its cooling down
  10. Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into bars/squares
  11. Refrigerate in an air tight container
https://myloveofbaking.com/protein-brownie-bar/
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White sourdough bread

white sourdough bread
white sourdough

This is my most basic sourdough recipe. By basic i mean, the simplest. This is a good every day recipe or could be a go-to recipe. As usual I don’t stick too much with measurements as bread making is sensory.  In saying that, I didn’t mean to ditch the recipe but to use it as a guide line. This is  especially true when it comes to adding water to the mixture.

So this recipe uses bread flour, 100%. Bread-flour gives structure to bread and that strong crumb we love. So I recommend, using a strong-flour (with a higher gluten %) if you want good results.

White sourdough bread

First things first! Lets get the starter ready, shall we. So if you keep your starter in the fridge like me, the process has to start the day before you intend to make your bread. Get your starter out in the morning and let it come to room temperature and let it get activated for a few hours. Give it a feeding and observe! If your starter is very active, it is ready. So you can give it another feeding in the night and let it sit in a cool place and this would be ready to use in the morning. Using a fresh starter is the key to reduce or eliminate strong sour flavor in the final product. And by using the starter at it’s prime stage, we get the maximum activity and hence a good rise to the loaf later.

If your kitchen is warm, you might want to be creative here. I usually place the fed stater  in the fridge for couple of hours before setting it on the counter-top. That way, it slows down a bit and would be ready by morning. Another thing is the ratio of starter to flour when you feed. 1 cup flour : 1 teaspoon mother starter (culture). Increase the flour(food) to lengthen the time. The idea is that the yeast will have plenty of flour to feed on, over-night, without going into starvation mode.
When you know your starter, this process becomes second nature. You would be able to predict the activity and the exact time the starter would be in it’s peak. 
The rest of the process it easy. Follow the steps. I have mentioned key things to remember in each step. And when adding water, do it gradually. If you think the dough is tough, it is okay to add more water, but make a note of how much you added, so you know next time. 

For a bread shaping video check this link

White sourdough bread

Bread

Servings: 1 loaf

white sourdough bread

Ingredients

    for the stater:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon culture
    for the bread:
  • 500 g bread flour
  • 10 g salt
  • 15 g oil (of your choice)
  • 200 g + 50 g water
  • 1 cup of starter (about 200 g)

Instructions

    To make the starter (at least 6 hours prior to making bread/preferably previous night)
  1. Use a clean jar
  2. mix flour and water until it resembles porridge. Add the culture, mix well again and loosely cover
  3. set aside until ready.
    For the bread
  1. In a large plastic container weigh flour and salt and set aside.
  2. In a separate container weigh 200 g water and oil.
  3. Then add the 1 cup of starter. Starter should be floating over the water like a sponge and this is a good way to know if your starter is active.
  4. Mix wet ingredients and add straight into the flour mix.
  5. Start mixing with a spatula or a spoon until water is absorbed. If it is dry, add the remaining 50 g water. (I have tried this recipe with 60% hydration, so 300 g water, and it still produced a manageable dough)
  6. Wash your hands and start mixing with your hands now. This way you can tell if the dough needs more water or not. The dough should be easy to work with, not too tough and a bit sticky.
  7. Make sure all the flour and water are combined, and that there are no traces of dry flour in the dough
  8. Now leave this covered for about 5 minutes
  9. Then give another mixing for about 5 minutes. Mixing should involve stretching and folding action. With every stretch and pull, you are making the gluten stronger.
  10. Leave aside for another 5 minutes
  11. Repeat this process twice more
  12. You would notice the dough changes every time. It will become less sticky and much easier to work with. You will also notice it is a lot more “elasticy” now.
  13. At this point its ready for bulk fermentation.
  14. Cover the container and place in a warm draft free place. I usually use my oven (turned off of-course :D) for this. Place a cup of steaming water in the oven to make the environment warm and moist. Or your can use a big plastic tub with lid on or even one of your kitchen cupboards.
  15. After 45 minutes, we will give the dough a fold. So take the container out. With wet hands, stretch and fold and tuck the dough from all four sides like you are wrapping something with it. The idea is to strengthen the gluten even more. Then leave it just as before for another 45 minutes.
  16. Repeat the folding once more and now its time for the final bulk fermentation
  17. This will depend on your starter activity, room temperature, humidity. So check your dough every 30 minutes. What we are looking for is the dough to have bulked in side and possibly with some few visible air pockets. Usually it will be ready in about 1.5 hours to 2 hours
  18. Its time to shape the loaf now.
  19. Remove the dough on to a lightly dusted surface. Fold it to make a big dough ball. This will be bouncy. This folding and shaping will remove some air but not all of it.
  20. Leave it covered for about 10 minutes to relax.
  21. Then it is ready for the final shaping. Follow some videos to learn how to do the final shaping.
  22. Place in a proofing basket or in any container. Make sure to lay a flour dusted tea towel or flour the basket well.
  23. Cover it completely and place in the fridge. The bread will now go in to a slow prove/bloom overnight. It will be ready for the oven in the morning
  24. On the following day,place the oven rack in the center and preheat the oven to 260 °C/ 500 °F.
  25. If you have a pizza stone, a ceramic tile, cast iron skillet or a dutch oven, place it in while the oven heats up. Place another deep tray at the bottom most rack of the oven and fill it with boiling water. This will produce steam.
  26. Check if your bread has risen. If you think it need some more time, you can pull it out and leave out for about half an hour or so. You can test this by gently poking the dough with a finger and if it springs back but not all the way back, it is ready.
  27. Once the oven is hot enough, slash the bread and place it in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. And then take the tray of water out, bring the oven temperature down to 230 °C/ 450 °F and bake for a further 20 minutes
  28. Once the bread is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack.
  29. Once the bread cools down, you can slice it with a serrated knife.
  30. If you want to preserve, slice the loaf, store in an air tight container and freeze.
https://myloveofbaking.com/white-sourdough-bread/
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