It's the school holidays and, ordinarily, you would have whisked the family off somewhere. But these are not ordinary times.
So make the best of the time at home and bake with the children. Here are three fun recipes to try out. If you bought ingredients for the recipes I gave two Sundays ago, you will have some left over for this new batch.
Some of you have asked for savoury bakes and I give you a recipe for gluten-free Brazilian Cheese Bread. If you are also making boba at home, it uses the same main ingredient - tapioca starch.
For tea time, whip up a chocolate cake that uses mayonnaise - yes, the sandwich spread - in place of eggs and butter. Fizzy lemon lime soda gives scones, another teatime treat, a lift.
Let me know what other recipes you'd like me to tackle and decode. Happy baking.
BRAZILIAN CHEESE BREAD
Got some tapioca starch left over from making boba at home? Make this gluten-free bread. It has a mochi-mochi texture and is a popular snack in Brazil, where it is called pao de queijo.
Even in non-Covid times, the traditional ingredients for this snack, sour tapioca starch and meia cura cheese, would be hard to track down here.
But tapioca starch or tapioca flour, used to make kueh and to coat meat for deep frying, can be found in grocery shops and supermarkets, and can be used to make these buns.
If you don't have parmesan, use shredded cheddar or edam cheeses. I have also seen some recipes using shredded mozzarella, although it will not have the same flavour intensity as parmesan.
1. Put some elbow grease into the kneading, it will become a smooth ball.
2. Don't freak out when, after adding the egg, the mixture becomes a mass of curds. Continue kneading to incorporate the egg into the dough.
3. Get the kids to help you roll the dough into balls. No matter how knobbly or rough the balls are, they will magically become smooth and round in the oven.
4. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to two days. Before eating, reheat in the toaster oven for 2 to 3 minutes.
100ml whole milk (not skimmed or low fat)
3 Tbs olive oil
200g tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour)
1 egg, beaten
80g grated parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 170 deg C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. I use the tray that comes with the oven.
2. Pour the milk, water and olive oil into a small pot set over medium heat. Keep an eye on the pot and turn off the heat when the liquid is just coming to a boil.
3. Place the tapioca starch in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk mixture. Using a spatula, combine the wet and dry ingredients into a shaggy dough. Let it cool for 15 minutes.
4. When the dough is cool enough to handle, knead it with your hand for 8 to 10 minutes, until it comes together in a smooth ball. Add one-third of the beaten egg (photo 1) and continue kneading until it is worked into the dough. The dough will appear curdled (photo 2). Continue kneading and adding the rest of the egg in two more additions.
5. Add all the cheese and knead until it is well-incorporated into the dough. It will look stretchy (photo 3).
6. Using wet hands to prevent sticking, roll the dough into 24 balls, each about the size of a large cherry tomato. Or use a spoon to scoop the dough onto the baking tray. Place them 3 to 4cm apart. Bake the cheese bread for 35 to 40 minutes, or until they are golden brown on top. Cool on a metal rack, serve warm.
Makes 24 buns
LEMON LIME SODA SCONES
220g self-raising flour, plus extra to dust
90ml whipping cream, plus 1 tsp for brushing on the scones before baking
90ml lemon lime soda such as 7-Up or Sprite
1. Preheat the oven to 220 deg C.
2. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre, add the 90ml of whipping cream, then the soda. Mix with a fork to form a dough and knead very lightly, just to bring the dough together. Do not overwork the dough (photo 1).
3. Sprinkle flour on a work surface, place the dough on it, dust the top with a little flour and gently pat into a 14 to 15cm diameter round. Use a knife to cut the dough into six wedges (photo 2).
4. Place the wedges on a paper-lined baking tray. Brush the top of the dough with the extra whipping cream.
5. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the tops are golden. Remove from the oven and cool on a metal rack. Serve warm, with clotted cream or butter and jam.
Makes six scones
CHOCOLATE MAYONNAISE CAKE
I first made this cake when I was at university, after reading about it in a cookbook with wacky recipes.
Mayonnaise in a cake may sound abhorrent, but think about it - the spread is an emulsion of egg yolks, oil and vinegar. Eggs and oil are common in cake recipes. In some, a sour agent like lemon juice, yogurt or buttermilk is used to activate baking soda, so, really, mayonnaise lets you cut out these three ingredients from a recipe.
Last I checked, mayonnaise is not sold out yet. And the finished product does not taste of mayonnaise, I promise.
1. If you do not have a 22cm round cake tin, use a 22 x 22cm square one.
2. Have the kids help you weigh out the ingredients and lick the spatula after you have scraped the batter into the cake pan.
3. I use 1 tsp of instant coffee to intensify the chocolate flavour. Feel free to swop it for 1 tsp of vanilla extract.
4. Serve the cake with softly whipped unsweetened cream and berries, or a scoop of ice cream.
250g plain flour
200g caster sugar
45g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda 1 tsp instant coffee granules
1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Line the bottom of a 22cm round cake tin with baking paper, oil the sides of the cake pan and the paper. Set aside.
2. Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and baking soda together in a medium mixing bowl until well-combined. Spoon the instant coffee into a measuring jug, add water and stir until the granules dissolve. Add the mayonnaise and combine thoroughly using a fork. Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and mix until evenly combined.
3. Pour the batter into the baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean.
4. Let the cake sit in the pan for 15 minutes, unmould and let it cool completely on a metal rack before serving. The cake will be puffed up right out of the oven, and will sink in the middle as it cools.
Serves six to eight.