Sunday, August 30, 2015

Vanilla Cup cakes for Speech Pathology Week


This last week was Speech Pathology Week and I volunteered to bake some cup cakes, to be given away at Cairns Hospital to celebrate the event, as we are up here on holiday. I didn't go overboard with decorating these as time was of the essence and it was about quantity and having enough to hand out to the public who walked through the front door of the hospital. However I love this easy recipe, which produces a very tasty and reliable result.

Speech Pathologists treat and rehabilitate patients who have suffered from strokes and accidents affecting their ability to swallow liquids and foods, and also specialise in language and communication skills. I don't think a lot of people realise just what they do so it was great to be involved to raise awareness.


125g (4 1/2oz) unsalted butter, softened
250g (1 cup) Castor sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
3 eggs
185g (1 1/2 cups) plain (all purpose) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
185 ml (3/4 cup) milk
Bought Decorations or fruit such as raspberries ( which can generally be purchased now from a

Preheat the oven to 180 deg. C (350deg F/Gas 4). Line a 12 hole (1/2 cup) muffin tray with paper cases. Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and fold into the mixture, alternating with the milk, until it has a soft dropping consistency. Spoon into the cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in the tin. Turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool. Ice the cakes when cold and decorate.
Makes 12 Cup cakes.

Thanks to Bill Granger for this basic recipe which I used.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Sipping Duck coffee shed in Cairns

Great Coffee Art at the Sipping Duck in Stratford, Cairns, FNQ

When Neil and I are travelling, a priority of ours is to find a good cup of coffee, which generally means an establishment which does their own roasting, is prepared to offer a variety of roasted beans to try, and has perfected their own coffee art design. Even though we don't generally order food with our coffee it is also nice if we find a cafe with an impressive selection of cakes, biscuits, breads, etc. to try. The cafe culture in Cairns has not disappointed.

This morning, not only did we have a marvellous cup of coffee at the Sipping Duck in Stratford, but were also very impressed by the coffee art which adorned our coffees. Their coffee art is a flagship for the Sipping Duck, and if the barista has time, a very chirpy Sipping Duck greets you from the surface of your coffee. Very impressive. This is the best coffee art I have seen to date, and  coffee art has become a very competitive business.

The Sipping Duck is located in the Northern Cairns suburbs, at 25 Johnson St., Stratford, in a very unpretentious but appealing and eco friendly industrial shed, easily accessible from the highway leading out to the Northern Beaches.Or it can be detoured to when travelling to Freshwater to catch the Kuranda train.

The staff here work hard and fast, and yet are always happy to discuss the quality and source of their coffee beans to an interested customer, like my husband. Today Neil walked out with two bags of green coffee beans, which he intends to roast at home with his barista cap on, and at a much cheaper price than if we had purchased them online from our usual distributor. A very happy customer.

This morning we broke the rules and shared a slice of Jamaican ginger, pineapple, and fivespice bread, with our coffee, supplied by a local Cairns restaurant, Coco Mojo, a very clever move by the Sipping duck as it tasted amazing with large chunks of stem ginger throughout.

 I am also impressed by their generous community outreach. We attended the Freshwater Primary School Fete last Saturday, and the Sipping Duck Barista/owner, was busily making coffee all afternoon for eager customers. He supplied his time, equipment and the coffee beans free of charge as a donation to the event. 

Here's to a great cup of coffee.Well done to Cairns and the Sipping Duck.
ph.0413 025 243

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Homemade Sourdough bread with Seeds and Rolled Oats

Sourdough bread with Seeds and Rolled Oats

You can either make your own sourdough starter from scratch, find a baker that will give you some, or perhaps one of your friends already has some. People are generally very happy to share the bread making experience, as was my friend Felicity, who gave me the dough starter and a lesson in how to make it. To make this bread, you don't require a bread maker or a a dough hook in your mixer, just a passion to make your own bread, eat well, and it can easily all be done by hand.

You should already have 500g of Desem or Sourdough  in the fridge. You can take off the exact amount needed from your Mother dough or Desem for the recipe and use as such. Or you can take a small amount and give it 2 feeds to use for the recipe. I have done both and I don't think it makes a lot of difference as far as the quality of the final loaf of bread goes. It is more dependent on whether or not you have the time to wait for the dough to grow in between feeds, or if you want to make your bread straight away. However if you are time poor and need to make your bread straight away, you will need to feed your Desem in the fridge as well so that you don't lose it.

To make this bread, you will either need a large bread tin or tray to cook it in, and a good set of scales. All quantities need to be accurately weighed.

 Take 60g of Desem from the Mother dough in the frig, and double it with 2/3 flour and 1/3 water to double the amount. Add the combined flour and water gradually to the Desem until it is all combined. Let 60 g double to 120g. Take off 90g , feed it again, and let it rise to 180 g. Take off 20g. and use 160g for the following recipe.Allow 24 hours for all of this rising to happen.

Remember: When Desem in the fridge is down to 250g  double it with 1 part water and 2 parts plain flour. Put straight back in the fridge. Leave for 2 days and use as before.


350g Baker's Flour 76%
110g Other Flour 24%
12g salt 2.6%
160g Desem or Sourdough 34.7%
270g Water 58%

Make a porridge in a tray with boiling water from the following and allow to cool:

100g Rolled Oats 21%
60g Sunflower Seeds 13%
40g Linseeds 8%
200g Boiling Water 43%
30g Honey 6%
30g Oil 6%

Next step:
Sift the dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl.
Mix the 160g Desem and the 270g water with the porridge.

Add the porridge and Desem to the flour and combine well. Rest the dough for 10 minutes.
Turn onto an oiled or floured bench and knead gently for ten seconds. I use flour on my bench to knead the dough.
Knead again and place in a clean large oiled mixing bowl.

 Cover, place in a warm spot,  and allow to make a 50 % rise.(This generally takes a few hours)
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead again and knock back dough and place into the oiled bread tin you intend to cook the bread in or on a cooking tray if you intend to make a round loaf.
Allow to rise another 50%, or until the dough rises to almost fill the bread tin and then cook it. Sprinkle some flour on top for a nice finish.

Oven temperature:
220 deg. C. for 10 minutes
200 deg. C. for 20 minutes.
Remove bread from the tin and if it is still slightly soft around the crust, place it back in the hot oven without the tin to bake for a further 10 minutes to crisp up the outside.