Happy Halloween!

OoooOooooh!

It’s Halloween and to be honest, this year like so many before it I’ve made minimum effort. I really love Halloween and all the fun size candy, but I usually spend the weekend curled up watching scary movies and munching away.

This year I picked up some fun Halloween sprinkles and thought I would put them to good use with some homemade vanilla funfetti spook cakes!

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While they were quite tasty, I had to settle for some last minute Dr. Oteker food colouring. As you can see the cakes are not nearly as vibrant as they should be and that’s with an entire tube. A Pinterest fail indeed.

Still though, I tried and if anything it’s a good excuse to work on my food styling.

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I also made some cookies with orange chocolate chips. Now the light was a little too dark for the photos … but I like the cute little pumpkin Mr.Snacks carved.

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And, just because it’s adorable – Here’s my wee dog back in Texas dressed up in the costume I bought him. Doubles as an outfit for every Taco Tuesday – Bargain!dsc_3641

So, that’s all the relevant images!

Happy Halloween!

Now onto Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s the best time of the year. 🙂

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xx

 

 

 

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Chicago Gourmet

The past month has been a bit of a whirlwind.

An absolutely amazing whirlwind of carbohydrates and beer which explains my five pound weight gain, but completely worth it. With all the early mornings, time changes, and lack of vegetables I’m just now getting around to something of a normal schedule.

My photos are all a mess, so it’s going to take some time to get everything sorted, but I have so much fun to share of my tales over stateside.

I wanted to start off with one of my favorite moments – Chicago Gourmet.

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The event took place exactly four weeks ago, on the weekend of September 24th and 25th. We just so happened to be in town for the event and it could not have been a better coincidence. Essentially it’s a big ‘foodie weekend’ with a few special events, celebrity/local chef demos but the main part of the festival is just roaming around Millennium Park picking up endless fancy snacks and samples of various types of alcohol.

How adorable are these blue velvet donuts?

This is the 9th year for the event, which is presented by Bon Appétit magazine and had a good mix of local Chicago restaurants/chefs and nationally recognised brands – mainly in terms of alcohol.


You buy one pricey ticket (about $200 bucks) and then once the gate opens you get a little goodie bag that contains flyers, a ceramic Chicago Bears coaster, an energy bar and a little plastic tray. Then you pick up your Chicago Gourmet branded wine glass and that’s you free to let loose for five or six hours.

Genuinely you can grab as much food or drink as you want – no need for tokens/coupons or purchasing anything additional inside. It’s great.

There was so much to eat and drink and this being our first time here, not really knowing much about the event we just aimlessly walked around stuffing our faces. img_7683

Snacks Ahoy!

Cinnamon Nutella Babka

Hopefully, I had you at Nutella.

Babka is one of those Great British Bake Off buzzwords that gets thrown around every season – mainly on the much anticipated bread week. And I can’t deny that the reason I made this is because of all the chocolatey swirls that lit up my telly some two or three weeks ago. 

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I know, but I’ve been busy getting ready for this much needed trip home. I’m now a week into this holiday and it has been going amazing (check out social media fun on the side panel). I mean, currently I’m editing this post while watching The Golden Girls and waiting for breakfast tacos to arrive. Seriously feels like I am living the life. 

Any way, I can no longer resist sharing a little Sunday baking fun with you. It’s bready, chocolatey and has a good amount of cinnamon spice in it – so Hello Autumn! 

Cinnamon Nutella Babka

Dough + Filling, 1 loaf pan needed

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (I used 1 x7g packet)
1/2 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 large egg
1
00 grams salted butter (ideally room temperature)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white bread flour
1 jar of Nutella
100g of dark chocolate, chopped

1. Heat milk up in microwave for about 30 seconds. Pour in a large bowl, ideally attached to a stand mixer/dough hook attachment.
2. Add sugar and pour yeast on top. Swirl once or twice to cover yeast with milk.
3. Leave yeast mix to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.Yeast mix should be foamy before adding in other ingredients.
4. Add egg, butter and cinnamon to yeast and mix gently for 1-2 minutes.
5. Add in flour 1/2 cup at a time until each batch is fully incorporated. Once all flour is added beat on high for 7-10 minutes. Dough should be in one lump and not stick to the dough hook. (Or if you do not have a stand mixer then just mix dough completely by hand for 20-30 minutes)
6. Hand knead dough for an additional 2-3 minutes before placing on a lightly floured surface.

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***You can let your dough proof overnight or make the babka straight away. I did mine straight away. Make sure dough reaches room temperature again before you decide to roll it, if refrigerating***

7. Roll dough out into a rectangle, ideally until dough is between .5-1 cm
8. Spread Nutella all over the dough – as much as you want! I did a rather thin coat, because Nutella is quite rich.

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9. Sprinkle chocolate chunks over dough, then tightly roll up dough starting from the longest edge. Don’t worry about any spillage.
10. Cut dough in half vertically, exposing all the lovely chocolate-filled layers.

dsc_629811. With the two strips of dough facing up, mash the top end portions of each strip together then start a crossover or rope pattern. I did mine quite loose, as the dough is rather heavy. Once you reach the end, connect the remaining dough together as you did for the top. (Refer to photos)

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12. Fold into a greased loaf pan with parchment paper, making sure a few twists and layers and exposed on the top, but otherwise just get it in.
13. Cover and prove bread for 2-2.5 hours – should be about double in size.

dsc_637414. Bake in the oven for at 375F (190C) for 30-35 minutes depending on your oven. Top should be golden brown and well defined. Stick in a cake tester or toothpick to test dough, go for the middle and find a less chocolatey bit- nothing should stick expect maybe some chocolate. Don’t worry if some of the chocolate looks burnt – it probably isn’t.

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Syrup (make while babka is proofing)

1/2 granulated sugar
1/2 water
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1.5 tablespoons honey

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1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and let boil on medium for about 4-5 minutes. Set aside to let cool.
2. Once babka is out of the oven, brush syrup over loaf and leave to cool inside the pan so the glaze soaks in.
3. Once babka is cool remove from the pan, cut into slices and devour! 

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I won’t restrict you, but this babka tastes better when heated up a little so you get the melty Nutella mess. I usually popped my slice into the microwave for a few seconds and enjoyed it with a cup of strong coffee.

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Ah, memories. I think this is definitely going to be baking staple in my kitchen. 

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xx