Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Office Outfit of the week!

Office Outfits 15

This outfit actually was worn last week. I simply did not manage
to post. Even though it is very hot in Athens and I try to refrain
from wearing total black in this weather, I put this combination
together in a hurry because I overslept and there was not
enough time to stand in front of my closet and choose.

In the 5 minutes I had to spare this just felt stylish!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Daring Bakers - July 2012

This is challenge Nr. 4.

It was chosen by Dana McFarlane and it is about crackers!

The given recipes, as our guides, were savoury. Yet when I think "baking" I immediately think "sugar and/or chocolate".
I looked around the Internet a bit and I found a couple of recipes, that I thought were worth trying. So I decided to make Graham Crackers and Chocolate Graham Crackers.

Old-Fashioned Graham Crackers 
(slightly adapted from Epicurious.com)

The original recipe calls for turbinado sugar, which I didn't have. I used light brown sugar instead.

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
125gr butter (room temp.)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup water (twice)

In a bowl mix flours, cinnamon, soda and salt. Beat with the paddle attachment the butter sugars until fluffy. Add 1/3 of flours mixture and 1/4 cup water. Mix for 30 sec. Repeat. Mix for 30 sec. Add the remaining 1/3 flours and mix just until combined.
Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of parchment paper to about 1/2 cm thick. Put it in the fridge for 30 min.
Using a cookie cutter cut the crackers and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all the dough is used up. Sprinkle each cracker with a pinch of brown sugar  and salt.
Bake in a preheated oven for 20 min, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the crackers are golden around the edges.
Let them cool for 10 min on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack.

Light brown sugar.
The dough is not very sticky.

I cut both round and square crackers.

They are very tasty and crispy!

The roll and cut method was one aspect of the Challenge.

The other was the slice and bake method. For this I had to use cocoa (naturally!).

Chocolate Graham Crackers
(slightly adapted from Weelicious.com)

This recipe calls for dark brown sugar, but I had light brown, so I used this.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup light brown sugar.
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
125gr butter chilled and cubed
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water

Mix the flours, cocoa, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Add butter and mix until it looks coarse. Add honey and water and mix until it is combined.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on your counter and on top some cling film. Put the dough in the cling film and make a log. Cover it with the cling film and put it in the fridge for at least 30 min.
Remove log from the fridge and using a very sharp knife cut slices.
Bake for 15 min in a preheated oven 180o C. Let the crackers cool for 10 min, then put them on a wire rack.

I realised that I should have cut them thinner. Other than that, though, their taste is so rich and the aroma of chocolate combined with cinnamon..... OMG!

This was a very interesting Challenge. I am going to make savoury crackers as well, because the photos of my fellow Bakers are mouthwatering!!

Thank you Dana!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Caramel Cake!

I really really love caramel! The taste, the smell, the whole process of making it...

I found a recipe for caramel cake on "The way the cookie crumbles".
It is amazing! You cannot believe the smells!!!!!

It may seem a little tricky, but it is so worth it! I was eating the buttercream with a spoon....

Caramel Cake with caramelized butter frosting
(very slightly adapted)

Caramel Syrup:
2 cups sugar - 1/2 cup water - 1 cup water

Caramel Cake:
144gr butter - 280gr sugar - 1/2 tsp salt - 1/3 cup caramel syrup - 2 eggs - vanilla extract, if you want - 240gr all purpose flour - 1/2 tsp baking powder - 225gr milk
* everything must be in room temperature

Caramelized buttercream:
170gr butter - 450gr confectioner's sugar sifted - 3 tbsp heavy cream - vanilla extract - 4 tbsp caramel syrup - a little salt

For the syrup you place sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and mix. Cook on high until it is brown, brushing down the sides with a wet pastry brush. Very carefully add the 1 cup water. It will bubble a lot! Whisk over medium heat until the quantity has reduced a bit.

For the cake grease and flour a loaf pan. Preheat the oven at 180o C. Cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt and cream until fluffy. Slowly with the mixer working pour the syrup. Mix ans scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time and mix. Add the vanilla and mix.
On low speed add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and 1/2 the milk. Mix. Then 1/3 of the dry ingredients and the rest (1/2) of the milk. Mix. Then the last of the dry ingredients (1/3).
Turn the mixer off and using a hand spatula do a few folds until the batter is uniform.
Put it in the loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate pan and bake another 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let it cool completely before you put the buttercream on it!

For the buttercream you start by melting the butter and cooking it until it is brown. Pour through a fine sieve and let it cool. When it is cool, put it in the mixer and start adding the confectioner's sugar. When the mixture looks chunky add a little syrup and cream and mix. Repeat this process until all the sugar is added and the buttercream is smooth. Add some salt and mix again.

Now you are ready to assemble the cake.
You can frost the cake all around or you can cut it and fill it, as I did.

As you can see it will not rise much.

This yellow colour is natural!
I cut the loaf in half.
Using a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (not shown) I filled the cake and made dots on top.

I drizzled it with some caramel sauce!

As this cake was going to Ioanna's godmother, I had to bake a smaller one, a sample if you will, to taste make sure it is nice and OK to offer.

I baked a couple of cupcakes in cups (!).

I just love this golden colour. It is a very tender cake and it is moister inside that I expected. No need to say that we all went crazy for it.

Everybody enjoyed it!

I am definitely making it again. In fact I will make this my go-to caramel cake and stop looking for another recipe.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Office Outfit of the week!

Office Outfits 01 

This combination is very office oriented, yet it is really
comfortable. If you simply change the shoes and put on
i.e. simple ballerinas or even flat sandals, then you have
a casual outfit for an afternoon!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Office Outfit of the week!

Office Outfits

It is so hot these days in Athens....
If I could I would wear just a caftan to work...

This outfit is easy going and cool and appropriate for the office. I actually choose this quite often.
Besides, the combinations based on white capri pants are infinite!!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Texas sheet cake!

My most favourite ingredient is chocolate by far, then comes lemon and vanilla.
Usually when I need to have something sweet, I immediately think of chocolate...

I had this recipe for a Texas sheet cake for some time now and I couldn't get it out of my head. It is an amazing cake which I spotted on Brown Eyed Baker.

I finally baked it.
First time no nuts on top.
Second time I added chopped hazelnuts on top.

Both times HEAVEN....

The recipe is very easy!

TEXAS Sheet Cake (very slightly adapted from the original)

1 cup margarine
1 cup water
4 tbsp cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup
6 tbsp milk
4 tbsp cocoa powder
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 cup chopped nut, if you want

Preheat the oven to 180o C and grease a pan, that is suitable for a shallow cake.It will not rise, so you can see how shallow or not it will be, even before you bake it.
Put margarine, water and cocoa in a pot and bring to a boil over medium. Remove and add in the flour, sugar and salt. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Add the yogurt, eggs and baking soda and again whisk until thoroughly combined and smooth.
Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Bake for 20 - 25 min until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, prepare the icing.
In a pan bring the margarine, milk and cocoa powder to a boil. Remove from the heat and mix in the sugar until smooth. Stir in the nuts, if you will use.
Take the cake out of the oven and immediately pour the hot icing over the hot cake. If you want, poke here and there a few holes with a skewer. Let it set for 30 min.

Dig in and try not to eat it all at one sitting....

The cake in my pan. (excuse the bad photo...)
It is so moist.....
See how the icing has cracked?
Seriously it is amazing, very tasty, very chocolaty and your guests will never guess there is no melted chocolate in it!
I don't have any pictures of the hazelnut version, because I thought about it too late and it was all gone... All I can say is that the hazelnuts do complement the chocolate!!!!


Saturday, 7 July 2012

Office (NOT) Outfit of the week!

beach 01

Well, not exactly office....

I had the week off and I took Ioanna to my parents' summer
 house to spend a few cool days!


P.S. Back to work on Monday.........