Competition Results:  2016 Newcastle Regional Show

Sweet Perfection entered into four categories of this year's Newcastle Regional Show and we are proud to report a First Place win in all four categories, plus two special prizes!

First Place: Iced and Decorated Wedding Cake

First Place: Modern Bride's Wedding Cake

First Place: Single Tier Decorated Special Occasion Cake

First Place: Miniature Special Occasion Cake

Special Prize: Mavis Mepham Prize for Best Modern Bride's Wedding Cake

Special Prize: Jean Mackay Memorial Prize for Best Wedding Cake - Champion Exhibit Open Icing and Decorating.

 

Greek Yoghurt Cheesecake: A Recipe

greekyoghurtcheesecake1

Being left with a kilogram of quality natural Greek yoghurt in the fridge last week had me thinking about cheesecake. I've recently been experimenting with both baked and non-baked cheesecake styles (much to the family's delight), but the Greek yoghurt took me in a different direction.

If you love baked cheesecakes, and would like to try something that is a wee bit lighter in kilojoules (the difference is 300kJ per serving, or 200kJ per 100g) while keeping the same dense creamy texture, please give this cheesecake a try. If you prefer a tangy-er lemony cheesecake, add in the lemon juice and zest. Or for a deeper vanilla flavour add in the seeds from a vanilla bean.

100% of my testers preferred this cheesecake to Donna Hay's Classic Baked Cheesecake (which is made with a combination of ricotta and cream cheese). I also have die-hard non-baked cheesecake lovers in my family who give this recipe two thumbs up. 

This should serve 12, but I make it in an 8" or 9" square* and then cut it into small squares which serves around 20 -25 portions (halves the kilojoules you're taking in!)

This cheesecake can be served with your favourite berries and/or a berry coulis.

Ingredients:

Base:

175g plain sweet biscuits (Arnotts 'Nice' are great)

85g slightly salted butter, melted

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

 

Filling:

500g (2 x 250g blocks) cream cheese

500g plain natural Greek yoghurt (8-10% fat level), drained of any watery liquid

200g caster sugar

3 large free range eggs

1 TBSP (20mL) vanilla extract

2 TBSP (40mL) fresh lemon juice

1 vanilla bean - scraped seeds OR fine zest of one lemon

 

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 150 deg C. Bring your cheese, yoghurt and eggs to room temperature.

2. Line an 8" square* or 9" round pan with non-stick baking paper. Ensure you have some strips running under the base and up the sides to create little handles to help remove the cheesecake once baked.

3. In a food processor, process the biscuits to crumbs.

4. Mix crumbs, cinnamon and melted butter, then press mixture into the base of your prepared pan. Place in fridge, until filling is ready.

5. Using an electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese and sugar until light and creamy. Add in yoghurt, beat until combined. 

6. Add in eggs, extract, lemon juice and either your vanilla bean or lemon zest and beat on low until just combined.

7. Pour onto base. Allow any bubbles to settle. Tap the base of pan on a tea towel spread on the bench top, to assist with bubble removal. If there are any still lurking on the surface, use the back of a teaspoon to break open.

8. Place pan on middle shelf of preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should be just set but still a bit wobbly in the centre.

9. After 45 minutes, turn off oven and leave cheesecake inside for one hour. After an hour, remove pan and leave pan to cool on a cooling rack. When it achieves room temperature, cover pan in cling film and place in refrigerator to set (minimum 8 hours).

10. Remove cheesecake carefully from pan, and cut into serving portions. Serve with your choice of fresh berries and/or a berry coulis. Enjoy!

* If you are baking in a square pan, you can have the corners receiving a bit too much heat, which can dry out your cheesecake corners and edges. To prevent this, you can wrap your pan with baking strips. To make your own, use an old towel cut into 7" strips length-ways, wet down and wring out, wrap around your pan, pinning to hold together. Otherwise, just use a round pan!



Eggsellent Egg Conversions for the Home Chook Owner

I love chooks. I even love the word "chook" - which is the name we give to chickens here in Oz. If you are lucky enough to live in a council area that condones the private ownership of a handful of gorgeous, feathery, egg-bearing yard-fowl, you might very well be a "Chook Fancier" too. 
Having free-range chooks is one of life's simple pleasures. You put in veggie scraps and a handful of chook pellets every day, plus lots of fresh water to drink, and you get perfect little protein-and-vitamin-filled gifts in return. Plus, in case you didn't know this, chooks have personalities all of their own. So they are productive and interesting pets!

"Bok-bok-bok"

I have been a chook owner in the past, but since we last moved house, we've not as yet had the time to set up a new chook enclosure. In the mean time, I have been vicariously (and, okay, enviously) enjoying my friend Mandie's new chook ownership stories. Mandie's girls started laying in dribs and drabs, but now that they are a bit older and spring is approaching, she is becoming 'ova-run' with eggy goodness.

Mandie rang me a while ago, wanting a bit of advice about how many eggs to use in a flourless orange cake she was making. She had been saving up some eggs, but given they were not standard sizes, she needed to know how many eggs to add to match the recipe's specified egg count.

Mandie thought it was a good topic to share on the blog today. So let's discuss Egg Conversions.

 

Why are Eggs So Darned Good?

irst of all, eggs play an important role in baking. They bind, add structure, act as rising agents, and affect the moisture level of your baked goods. They can be separated and the parts within used for different purposes, eg. whites for meringues, royal icing, marshmallows, macaron shells, white cakes and Swiss Meringue Butter Cream, and the yolks for making custards, hollandaise and bernaise sauces, creme patissiere and enriching brioches and many rich cake batters. And of course, eggs can be used whole (without the shell, of course!)

 

Commercial Egg Standard Weights

When you buy eggs from the supermarket, you will have noticed that egg cartons have a weight listed. In Australia, 600g eggs are classed as "large", 700g are "extra large" and 800g are "jumbo" sized (and often double yolkers!)  These stated weights refer to the minimum total weight of all 12 eggs in the carton, including the shells.

Unless specified otherwise, Australian standard recipes generally call for the use of eggs with an average weight of 60 grams each. Often, recipes state these are ‘large eggs’, when in fact, 60 gram eggs are classed as ‘extra large’.

 

If you have your own laying chooks in the backyard, how can you make sure you have the right amount of egg content for your recipe?

Beautiful home-grown eggs - aren't chooks brilliant?

Gauging the Sizes of Your Chooks' Eggs

This is where having a set of scales becomes important. Anyone who likes to bake should invest in a good quality set of digital scales, as relying on volumetric or unit measurements never really yields as perfect a result as weighing your ingredients.

So, the first thing you can do, is weigh your own chook eggs. An "extra-large" egg (remember, those that come in a 700gram carton) will have a MINIMUM weight of 58.3 grams each - with their shells on. But let's use an average weight of 60 grams.

Mandie's cake recipe called for six eggs, meaning six eggs with an average weight of 60 grams each, which is a total weight of 360 grams. Mandie therefore needed to weigh her various free-range homegrown eggs to reach a total weight of 360 grams. 
 

What if you have some bantams and/or really big bongo-sized egg-laying chooks?

You may need to adjust your egg numbers to make up the required total weight. Recipes will call for a number of eggs, so it helps to calculate the total weight of the required eggs, remembering the standard as 60 grams per egg, and adjust your egg quantity as necessary.

What happens if you need less than a whole egg to make up the weight required? Simply break an egg into a cup, whisk it gently, and pour the mixed egg to make up the total required weight.

 

What are the relative weights of shell, egg white, and yolk?

Many recipes will call for the use of egg white, or yolks. Simpler, small-scale recipes will call for a number of whites, or yolks. Larger-scale bakery/patisserie recipes will often call for a weight in grams for egg whites or egg yolks.

Once again we need to first consider the standard egg size as 60 grams. Then, we can consider the ratios of the egg components.

According to Pace Farms, the ratio is 11% shell, 58% white and 31% yolk. 

An extra-large (60 gram) egg will have a shell weight of 7 grams, a white weight of around 35 grams, and a yolk weight of around 18 grams.

So, the contents of six whole eggs would weigh 6 x (0.58 + 0.31) x 60 grams = 320 grams.

However, say Mandie's recipe said to use 6 egg whites, and she had a bunch of different-sized eggs. Six standard egg whites would average 6 x (0.58) x 60 grams = 209 grams. 
Therefore, Mandie would need to crack and separate her eggs, adding whites to her bowl that is sitting on her scales (tared to zero), until the reading was 209 grams. 

Knowing these percentages allows you to use your very own multi-sized chook eggs, and be assured you are putting the correct quantity of egg, egg white or egg yolk as is called for in the recipe. Best of all, you are making use of the absolute freshest and yummiest eggs you can get anywhere - those of your very own chooks.

One last tip: it is better to be a little bit over than a bit under when adding eggs to most recipes. So don't be too obsessed with hundredths of grams!

I will write about some more egg-related baking tips in a future post :-)

Happy baking!

Welcome to the New Website!

The summer holidays are great for more than just relaxation, sunny days and barbecues.

The absence of routines like school volunteering, making school lunches, and "Mum's taxi" duties frees up some valuable hours for those often postponed business duties (especially when you're a solo operator like me!)...like rejuvenating an outgrown website platform.

I hope you enjoy the new look, the clearer, bigger photos and the updated information. I just adore this new streamlined site! I've changed the website, but as always, my devotion to creating the perfect cake for you, my client, remains the same :-)

If you have any feedback, or suggestions for how to improve the website, please drop me a line or leave a message on the Facebook Page :-)

 Enjoy!