Book Review & GIVEAWAY: Edmonds Best of Baking

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My nana was an atrocious cook but an utterly amazing baker. Her cream sponges and Neenish tarts were phenomenal, and she made the best griddle scones in the history of the world. I can remember her battered, tattered, splattered old copy of the Edmonds Cookbook, and the way she only used it to check that her memory of the recipes was right.

Hokey Pokey Biscuits

When asked if I’d like to review the new Edmonds Best of Baking, it was a no-brainer: I’ve grown up baking with Edmonds, and I knew that it would contain a variety of simple yet delicious, decadent, beautiful recipes that would appeal to my children, and to me. Recipes that wouldn’t need fancy, expensive or hard-to-find ingredients; recipes that would contain copious amounts of those current evils, butter and sugar, and would therefore taste amazing.

Choosing a recipe to try was difficult, purely because I bookmarked at least eleven on my first flick through. Once I’d narrowed it down, I still couldn’t choose between the finalists, so I didn’t: I made them all.

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First up were the Hokey Pokey Biscuits, which I remember my mum making when I was little. There really can’t be an easier or faster biscuit recipe than this – these tasty cookies were ready for eatin’ within half an hour of the decision to bake. My boys (including the adult one) loved them, and they didn’t last long; we like a chewy cookie so I cooked them for the shortest recommended time, and they were perfect. These have now made it to top spot on my “Help! I’m out of baking for the lunchboxes” list, due to the speed with which they’re ready, and the fact that I will always have all the ingredients in my pantry.

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Next I decided to try the lemon version of the Basic Biscuits. Again, these were super-easy and I had everything I needed, and the addition of the lemon zest made these wee cookies something special. They were buttery and a little like shortbread, zingy with lemon but not overpoweringly so. I turned these babies into spider cookies for my babiest one’s fourth birthday party, and unsurprisingly, there were none left! I’m keen to give the spice version a go soon.

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Lastly, on a bit of a whim, I made Chocolate Eclairs (also for the party table). Except I made chocolate puffs (piping the mixture as Cream Puffs, as suggested), filled with a white chocolate custard. I don’t know why people are scared of making eclairs and puffs, as they are incredibly easy; the Edmonds recipe was very straightforward and these puppies turned out brilliantly, despite the fact that I accidentally turned the power to the oven off during the second stage of cooking.

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There are many, many appealing recipes in Edmonds Best of Baking, some of which will be very familiar to those of us who’ve grown up in New Zealand. Each recipe is accompanied by beautiful photography which will have you drooling from page to page. It is said that we feast with our eyes first, and for me, a winning recipe book is one that features pictures of each dish, on which Edmonds Best of Baking definitely delivers. Based on the photos alone, I want to try making the Warm Gingerbread Date Cake (I KNOW!! Sounds amaaaaaazing, right?!), and the Honey Tea Buns next!

And guess what? You might get the chance to try them too, because the kind folks at Hachette New Zealand have given me an extra copy of Edmonds Best of Baking to give away to one lucky reader!

Simply comment below with your favourite item to bake, and you’re in the draw!

Competition closes on Friday 24 June, at 8pm (NZ time). Open worldwide.

Chelsea & Me: Spiced Pumpkin Muffins

Chelsea & Me

Chelsea Winter. Winner of Masterchef NZ in 2012, author of three cookbooks, and my go-to gal when I’m in a recipe funk. At My Table and Everyday Delicious and now her new book, Homemade Happiness, are the most-used and most-recommended cookbooks in my kitchen, so I’m making it my mission to try every recipe.
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I’m not a huge muffin fan, but I do love pumpkin and something about this recipe really caught my eye. I think it was the idea of pumpkin and brown sugar dancing together in the mixture, creating a magical caramel batter with hints of ginger, nutmeg and cloves.

spiced pumpkin muffins

The recipe is very simple and quick, like all good muffin recipes should be. The only lengthy part of the process was chopping and cooking the pumpkin, but once it was simmering away on the stove I was able to get all the other ingredients together and clear up as I went.

spiced pumpkin muffins

But what you really want to know is, “What did they taste like??”, right?

spiced pumpkin muffins

Amazing. Delicious. Sweet. Spicy. Fluffy.

spiced pumpkin muffins

I didn’t tell my kids that they contained pumpkin, and they both scoffed them down; knowing it was the main ingredient, I could taste it, but if I didn’t know….well…I wouldn’t have known. The flavour was subtle, and the cinnamon and Demerara topping was a lovely addition; the soft, fluffy muffin combined with the sweet, crunchy topping was really, really good.

(This recipe can be found in Everyday Delicious.)

Chelsea & Me: Afghans

Chelsea Winter. Winner of Masterchef NZ in 2012, author of two (nearly three, eeeeeek!) cookbooks, and my go-to gal when I’m in a recipe funk. At My Table and Everyday Delicious are the most-used and most-recommended cookbooks in my kitchen, so I’m making it my mission to try every recipe.

Chelsea & MeI’m usually an Edmonds afghan purist, so it was with a little trepidation that I decided to try making Chelsea’s coconut version.

Afghans Aside from the raw mixture being slightly crumblier than usual, the end result was a deliciously fudgy, nutty cookie that still tasted and looked just like an afghan. My boys “apparently” don’t like coconut (so they tell me), but they loved these treats, and they went down well with adults too.

AfghansThe recipe features in At My Table.

NZ Ninja Bake 2015

Last weekend, stealth ninja-bakers were diving over fences and behind bushes* in their missions to deliver baking to front doors and letterboxes unseen. Unsuspecting recipients were opening their doors and checking their mail, surprised to find baked treats waiting for them.

NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015This is the third Ninja Bake I’ve been involved in (check out 2012 and 2013), and the buzz of baking for deserving lovelies who have been nominated by their equally-lovely friends is yet to wear off. There’s something pretty special about secretly making a stranger’s day alongside other anonymous bakers. There’s something pretty special about being involved in an event that lets people know that what they do and what they are going through is acknowledged and not un-noticed.

One of my favourite parts of this year’s bake has been seeing the number of bakers who have also been nominees, proving that good people attract other good people. Reading about their surprise at leaving to get their ninja on and finding they’ve been “bombed” was a really inspiring part of this weekend.

NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015By some stroke of luck, the person I was to bake for required dairy-free treats, so I made my Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake into cupcakes (18 minutes cooking time for the medium-sized cakes, 13 minutes for the minis). I iced them with a simple vanilla buttercream frosting (diary-free, of course!), packaged them up with the Ninja Bake poem and a Random Acts of Kindness card, and set off to make my delivery. The container was too big to fit in their letterbox, so I had to get brave and deliver to the glass front door. As I raced up, I realised the curtains were pulled, so I’m pretty sure I got away unseen.

NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015 NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015 NZ Ninja Baking Drop 2015 NZ Ninja Baking Drop poemCheck out NZ Ninja Baking Drop on Facebook and Instagram, or check out the blog. The event was timed to coincide with the 11th NZ Random Acts of Kindness Day on Tuesday 1st September.

*No ninja bakers were harmed in the delivery of baked goodies

Chelsea & Me: Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Chelsea Winter. Winner of Masterchef NZ in 2012, author of two (nearly three, eeeeeek!) cookbooks, and my go-to gal when I’m in a recipe funk. At My Table and Everyday Delicious are the most-used and most-recommended cookbooks in my kitchen, so I’m making it my mission to try every recipe.

Chelsea & MeWe don’t eat a lot of desserts or puddings; my boys have always been more than happy with fruit and sometimes yoghurt as their afters. Sometimes, however, the mood strikes me and I decide it’s time we finished our meal with something sweetly delicious.

To be honest, I didn’t think my boys were going to like these wee puds. To be even more honest, I didn’t think I was going to like them either.

Four virtually empty bowls proved me wrong.

These sticky date puds were incredibly simple to make, and took hardly any time to cook – I had them in the oven while we ate our dinner, then whisked up the caramel sauce while my boys were having a quick play. The hint of cinnamon in the pudding is perfect, and the dates were little hits of melty, gooey goodness.

sticky date puddingI think my husband was the only one who finished his pudding (the boys went halves) as it is a very sweet combination; a cool scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side provided a nice balance and cut through the sweetness.

If you are a Sticky Date Pudding fan, or have never given it a go, this is definitely a recipe you should try.

Chelsea & Me: Fresh Mint & Chocolate Slice

Chelsea Winter. Winner of Masterchef NZ in 2012, author of two (nearly three, eeeeeek!) cookbooks, and my go-to gal when I’m in a recipe funk. At My Table and Everyday Delicious are the most-used and most-recommended cookbooks in my kitchen, so I’m making it my mission to try every recipe.

Chelsea & MeWhen we moved into our new house two years ago, I was excited about having a bigger vegetable garden. The previous owners were keen gardeners, but as with most people who put their houses on the market, they’d let the vege patch go a little. As a result, the mint was flourishing. And by flourishing, I mean it was starting to take over like a scene from The Day of the Triffids.

Over the past two summers, we spent a lot of time eradicating it from the vege garden, and suddenly…we had no mint. No mint AT ALL. My mum gave me a mint root to plant in a pot (“Contain it!” she said. “Contain it goooood.”), aaaaand I forgot about it for a few weeks. When I found that dry, shrivelled root outside one day, I decided to shove it in some potting mix anyway, and wouldn’t you know, we now have a lovely pot of fresh mint in the front yard.

fresh mint & chocolate slice - chelsea winter fresh mint & chocolate slice - chelsea winter We’ve been making mojitos, adding it to fizzy water with slices of lemon and lime, and making Fresh Mint & Chocolate Slice.

Oh my. This slice is amazing. The biscuity base is chocolately but not too sweet. The mint cream is rather sweet, but offset by the inclusion of chopped fresh mint leaves. The dark chocolate icing…well…I don’t think you need me to wax lyrical about that, do you??

fresh mint & chocolate slice - chelsea winterThis recipe can be found in Everyday Delicious, but it’s also online here. If you have mint taking over your garden or politely keeping to itself in a pot, you should make this slice. It’s supposed to keep for up to a week in the fridge, but I doubt it will last that long!

(Chopping board from Needle and Nail)

Recipe: Dairy-free Apple Crumble Muffins

Apple Crumble. Synonymous with hibernating at home during the winter, snuggling under blankets and eating your body weight in all things carbohydrate. And ice cream, but that doesn’t really fit with the whole dairy-free idea, does it?

Apple Crumble Muffin I was sent some Equal Spoonful to try baking with, and after two failed attempts (I almost cried over the number of eggs I wasted), I found some tips online, and then set about creating my own muffin recipe, armed with a “What have I got to lose?” attitude. As it turns out, nothing. These little beauties were so delicious, and the absence of real sugar wasn’t even noticeable.

Apple Crumble Muffin Apple Crumble MuffinDairy-free Apple Crumble Muffins – makes 12

2c plain flour
1c Equal Spoonful
2tsp baking powder
1 – 2tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1c apple & nectarine juice (plain apple would be fine)
4Tbsp rice bran oil
1 free-range egg
1 apple, peeled and finely diced
1Tbsp rolled oats

Pre-heat the oven to 180degC. Line a medium muffin tray with 12 paper cases.

In a small bowl, combine the rolled oats and chopped apple. If you wish, you could add 1tsp of white or brown sugar to create a bit more of a crumble crunch to the topping. Set aside.

Sift the flour, Equal Spoonful, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat together the apple juice, oil and egg, then fold gently into the dry ingredients. Don’t overmix – the mixture shouldn’t be smooth.

Evenly fill the paper cases (to about three-quarters full); sprinkle with the combined oats and apple.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the centre of the muffins spring back when lightly pressed, or when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Best eaten warm on the day of baking; keep in an airtight container for no more than 3 days.

Apple Crumble Muffin Apple Crumble Muffin Apple Crumble Muffin