Baking & Biscuits

upside-down rhubarb, ginger & almond cake

COMMENTS: If you like rhubarb you'll love this moist cake from Katie Quinn Davies in July 13 'delicious'. Best eaten same day but that won't be a problem!

SERVES 8

INGREDIENTS:
5 rhubarb stalks, halved lengthways, cut into 5cm pieces
3cm piece ginger, finely grated
1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
4 eggs seperated, plus 2 extra egg whites
1/4 cup (60mls) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (150g) plain flour sifted
1/2 cup (60g) almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 160*C. Grease a 22cm round springform cake pan and line the base with baking paper. Cover the outside of the pan with foil to prevent any syrup from leaking out during cooking. Arrange the rhubarb in the base of the pan, ensuring there are no gaps.
Place ginger, 3/4 cup (165g) sugar and 1/3 cup (80mls) water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil, then cook for 10 minutes or until thickened but not golden. Pour over the rhubarb and set aside to cool slightly.
Beat egg yolks and 1/2 cup (110g) sugar with electric beaters until thick and pale. Add the oil, milk and vanilla, then beat until just combined. Add the flour, almond meal and baking powder, then beat until just combined. In a clean bowl whisk the 6 eggwhites to soft peaks. Fold one-third of the meringue into the batter to loosen, then fold in the remainder.
Pour batter over the rhubarb, then bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cook cake completely in pan (it will shrink slightly). 
Invert onto a plate then serve.

RASPBERRY & BANANA BREAD

COMMENTS: This bread from Jan 2013 "delicious" makes a perfect afternoon tea treat for the family and can be chargrilled & served with yoghurt for breakfast. I had no raspberries so used blueberries.

SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups (300g) plain flour
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
1/2 cup (125g) brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
150g unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (125ml) milk
3 overripe bananas, mashed (1.5 cups)
125g frozen raspberries, thawed

METHOD: Preheat the oven to 180*C. Grease an 8cm*23cm loaf pan and line base and long sides with baking paper, allowing some paper to overhang sides.
Place the butter, eggs, milk and bananas in a large jug. Whisk with a fork until just combined. Stir into the flour mixture until just combined. Add the raspberries and gently fold through.
Spoon into the prepared pan and smooth surface. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then use the baking paper to transfer banana bread to a wire rack to cool completely.

ITALIAN APPLE PIE

COMMENTS: This pie from 'Nigellissima' is really more of a cake than a pie but it is gorgeous warm out of the oven with some mascarpone. I always love a recipe where you bung everything into the food processor!

SERVES 8

INGREDIENTS:
100g soft unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
250g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
75mls full-fat milk, at room temperature
3 pink lady apples, or any crisp eating apples (approx 500g)
1 teaspoon soft light brown or demerara sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

METHOD:
Preheat the oven to 200*C. Butter 23cm springform tin and line bottom with baking paper. Put flour, baking powder, pinch of salt, butter, caster sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla extract into a food processor a blitz till it forms a thick, smooth batter. (At first it will come together but keep processing until it forms a batter.) Peel, core then halve one of the apples and chop into 1cm cubes. Add these to the batter and pulse to mix in. Pour batter into the springform tin.
Quarter and core the remaining apples including the other half of the first apple, then finely slice them and arrange in pleasing concentric circles on the top of the cake batter. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle this over the apples, the bake for 40-45 minutes, by which time the cake should be risen and golden. Pierce the cake with a cake tester, which should have only a few crumbs sticking to it when removed.
Leave to cool for one hour before springing it out of the tin and serve warm.

LEMON CAKE WITH PASSIONFRUIT SYRUP

COMMENTS: This cake from an old 'donna hay' magazine was light and tangy and didn't last too long in my house!

SERVES 8-10

INGREDIENTS:
125g butter
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
2 & 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

passionfruit syrup
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
2/3 cup passionfruit

METHOD:
Preheat the oven to 180*C. Place the butter and caster sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until  light and creamy. Add the eggs, and beat well. Mix through the sour cream, lemon juice and rind, flour and baking powder. Spoon the mixture into a 23cm round cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake for 40 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
To make the passionfruit syrup, place the sugar, water and passionfruit in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, then allow the syrup to simmer 4-5 minutes or until it thickens slightly. Leave the cake in the tin for 5 minutes then place on a rack over a plate. Pour half of the hot syrup over the top. Allow to stand for 5 minutes then serve with the remaining syrup and thick cream or ice cream. 

LEMON CURD, MASCARPONE & ALMOND LAYER CAKE

COMMENTS: This celebration cake is definitely achievable for ordinary home cooks. I made the curd, syrup and cakes the day before and assembled in the morning before lunch. Make sure you liberally dowse the cakes in the syrup to make them super moist and add lots of cream and lemon curd in between the layers.

SERVES 8

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup 150g plain flour
1 tablespoon corn flour
2/3 cup (80g) almond meal
8 eggs, separated
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
200ml thicken cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g mascarpone

Lemon Syrup
400g caster sugar
2 lemons, thinly sliced

Lemon Curd
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
finely grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons
3 eggs, lightly beaten
100g unsalted butter, chopped

METHOD:
Preheat the oven to 180*C. Grease and line two round 20cm cake pans with baking paper. 
Sift the flours and almond meal into a bowl, then sift again. In a separate bowl, beat yolks and 80g sugar with electric beaters until thick and pale. Set aside.
In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Whisk in remaining 85g sugar, then continue to whisk until glossy peaks form. Fold egg white mixture into yolk mixture. Working in 3 batches, fold in flour mixture until just combined. Pour batter into cake pans. Bake for 25 minutes or until pale golden and the tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool in pans for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the syrup, heat sugar and 400ml water in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to meidum, then add lemon. Cover the surface with baking paper and simmer for 30 minutes or until the syrup hs thickened and lemon is translucent. Set aside.
For the curd, place sugar, zest and juice in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove pan from heat and gradually add egg, stirring to combine. Return pan to low heat and add the butter, a piece at a time, whisking constantly for 8-10 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl, cover surface with baking paper and chill lemon curd until ready to serve.
Lightly whip cream and vanilla with electric beaters, then add the mascarpone and beat on low speed until combined.
To assemble cake, cut each cake in half horizontally. Place 1 layer on a plate and brush liberally with lemon syrup. Spread with 1/3 of curd and top with 1/3 of cream. Repeat layers 2 more times, then top with final layer of cake. Drizzle with remaining syrup and decorate with the candied lemon slices.

PEPPERMINT CRISPIES

COMMENTS: I've slightly adapted this recipe from "kitchen coquette" by Katrina Meynink to make it both green and more pepperminty! Make sure you taste the mixture before spreading it on the tray to ensure you have the right flavour for you! I always double this recipe to make it really big and then I give some away!

INGREDIENTS:
250g white chocolate, chopped
3 teaspoons peppermint essence
60g (1 cup) Coco Pops
3 drops green food colouring

METHOD:
Line a tray with baking paper and set aside. 

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Add the peppermint essence & colouring a stir to combine. Mix in the Coco Pops and smear the mixture onto the prepared tray.

Refrigerate until set. Break into shards.


RHUBARB, VANILLA & SOUR CREAM CRUMB CAKE

COMMENTS: This recipe by Debbie Major comes from August 2012 delicious magazine. Remember to take your butter & sour cream out so they come to room temp.

MAKES 9 PIECES

INGREDIENTS:
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon brown sugar
200g caster sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup (200g) plain flour, plus 2 teaspoon extra
225g rhubarb stems, cut into 2.5cm pieces
140g sour cream, at room temperature
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (60g) almond meal
icing sugar, to dust

METHOD:
Melt 50g butter in a small saucepan over low heat. remove from  heat, add brown sugar and 35g caster sugar, then stir until sugar is dissolved and sauce is smooth and toffee-like. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, then pour into a bowl. Sift in 2/3 cup (100g) flour and a pinch of salt, then stir until a stiff, biscuit-like dough. Press the mixture firmly into the base of the bowl and set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 180*C. Grease and line a square 20cm loose bottomed cake pan with baking paper.
Place the rhubarb in a bowl with 1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar and the extra 2 teaspoons flour. Toss to combine, then set aside for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar and flour cling to the fruit. 
Meanwhile, stir the sour cream, egg, extra yolk and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla together in a small bowl. Set aside. Sift bicarb of soda, baking powder, remaining 2/3 cup (100g) flour, remaining 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar and a pinch of salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the remaining 75g butter and beat until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the almond meal, then gradually beat in the sour cream mixture until smooth.
Spread batter into the base of the prepared pan, then scatter over the rhubarb. Break the biscuit mixture into hazelnut-sized pieces and scatter over the rhubarb. Bake for 45-55 minutes until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (if you pierce a piece of rhubarb it will still be moist). Cool cake for 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack and dust with icing sugar. Cut into 9 squares and serve warm.

SALTY CHOCOLATE CHIP OATMEAL COOKIES

COMMENTS: These cookies from "A Cozy Kitchen" are really simple to make and completely heaven! Leave a lot of space between cookies on the baking tray as they expand a lot!

CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

These chocolate brownies from Donna Hay's website are super fasts to whip up using ingredients in your cupboard ready for the kids' afternoon tea.  I use the Nestle milk chocolate melts as they are so easy and great for the kids learning to cook.





BLUEBERRY CAKE

COMMENTS: Thanks to Jen M for this recipe. The cake is deliciously light and fluffy. Serve with passionfruit yogurt. You can use 1/2 blueberries, 1/2 raspberries.

INGREDIENTS:
125g butter
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups of plain flour
1 small carton sour cream (or 1 cup berry yogurt)
1 large teaspoon lemon juice
200g fresh blueberries (or 425g tinned berries, strained, or 250g frozen berries)
1/2 cup pecan nuts, chopped
Passionfruit yogurt to serve

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 180*C.
Cream butter & caster Sugar.  Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time.  Sift bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and  2 cups of plain flour.  Fold these dry ingredients, sour cream and  lemon juice alternatively into the egg mixture.
Pour ½ the batter into cake tin and add ½ of the blueberries and swirl with a kn ife.  Add the rest of the batter, then remaining ½ of the blueberries, top with Pecan nuts and repeat swirl.
Bake for approx. 1 hour until cooked.  Cool cake, remove from tin.  Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with Passionfruit Yogurt.

WALNUT, GINGER & CHOCOLATE BLONDIES

COMMENTS: These blondies from "Joy the Baker" are gooey, gingery and generally divine! I used caramel buttons instead of chocolate.

ROASTED STRAWBERRY & BUTTERMILK CAKE

COMMENTS: This recipe on "Joy the Baker" website caught my eye due to the succulent red strawberries (I LOVE cooked fruit) and the fact that the cake is cooked in a cast iron pan instead of a cake tin. I didn't have a cast iron pan so I used my tarte tartin steel pan which worked really well. The roasted strawberries in their juice are FABULOUS! You could add them to your porridge or serve them with ice cream for dessert.

RASPBERRY & WHITE CHOCOLATE MUFFINS

COMMENTS: These muffins from Donna Hay's "modern classics book 2" are quick and easy to prepare and are deliciously moist.

MAKES 12

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

METHOD:
Preheat the oven to 180*C. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
Place the sour cream, eggs and vegetable oil in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Stir the sour cream mixture through the flour and sugar mixture until just combined.
Sprinkle over the raspberries and white chocolate chips and stir once. Spoon the mixture into 12 cup muffin tin lined with muffin cups. Baked for 12 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

BANANA MAPLE SYRUP MUFFINS

COMMENTS: The maple syrup really makes these muffins from "Marie Claire Cooking". You can substitute the sour cream for yogurt if you prefer.

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup caster sugar
300g sour cream
1 egg
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 bananas, chopped

METHOD:
Place flour, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and mix to combine. Place sour cream, egg, maple syrup, oil and bananas in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add banana mixture to dry ingredients and mix until combined. Do not over mix.
Spoon mixture into muffin tin lined with cases and bake in a preheated 200*C over for 25-30 minutes or until the muffins are cooked when tested with a skewer. 
Serve with extra maple syrup. Makes 12.

PEAR & VANILLA CAKES

COMMENTS: These little pear cakes from Donna Hay magazine April/May '12 are an easy classic dessert to whip up to make your family dinner extra special. I halved the recipe to reduce the amount of left overs. Serve with a dollop of cream or creme fraiche.

MAKES 12

INGREDIENTS:
2 litres water
2 2/3 cups (370g) caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split & seeds scaped
12 * 125g Beurre Bosc pears, peeled & cored
thickened cream or creme fraiche for serving

Vanilla Cake
125g butter, softened
2/3 cup (150g) caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups (190g) self-raising flour, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (125mls) milk
icing sugar for dusting

METHOD:
Place the water, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan over low heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the pears, cover with a cartouche and a lid, and cook for 25-30 minutes or until tender. Drain on absorbent paper, set aside and allow to cool. 
Preheat oven to 160*C. 
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until pale and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and vanilla, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour and milk. 
Line 12 * 1 cup (250ml) capacity muffin tins with paper cases and spoon 1/4 cup of the mixture into each case. Carefully push in the pears and bake for 30-35 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.


CHOC HONEYCOMB SLICE

COMMENTS: This slice from "High Tea" is completely addictive and simple to make. Thanks to Wendy D for the recipe.

MAKES 18

INGREDIENTS:
100g unsalted butter, roughly chopped
300g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
115g golden syrup
200g digestive biscuits, roughly broken up
100g honeycomb, roughly broken up

METHOD:
Lightly grease a 16*26cm baking tin and line the base and sides with baking paper, extending the paper over the long sides for easy removal later.

Place the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 5 minutes, or until the chocolate has melted. Stir through the biscuits and honeycomb. Pour into the prepared tin and use a spatula to smooth the top. Refrigerate until set. Cut into pieces and serve.



MINI LIME MERINGUE PIES

COMMENTS: Wendy D made these gorgeous little pies from "high tea" using store bought little pastry cups and served them with grated lime zest over them. Rather than putting the pies in the oven as per the recipe below, you can use a blow torch to quickly brown the meringue just before you serve them. Serve the pies as part of a high tea or a dessert plate after dinner.

MAKES 24

INGREDIENTS:
4 sheets ready-rolled sweet shortcrust pastry
115g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
80mls (1/3 cup) lime juice
185mls (3/4 cup) water
30g unsalted butter
2 egg yolks

Meringue
3 egg whites
170g (3/4 cup) caster sugar

METHOD:
Preheat the oven to 180*C. Grease two 12 hole mini muffin tins.
Use a 7cm cutter to cut 24 rounds from the pastry sheets. Press the rounds into the prepared tins and prick the bases well with a fork. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
Combine the sugar, cornflour, lime zest and juice, and water in a large saucepan and stir over medium heat until the mixture boils and thickens. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Mix well and gradually stir in the egg yolks. Spoon 1 heaped teaspoon of the lime curd into each pastry case.
To make the meringue, beat the egg whites in a large bowl with electric beaters until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until it dissolves and the mixture is thick and glossy. Spoon 1 tablespoon of meringue over each pie. Bake for 4-5 minutes or until lightly golden on top.
These pies will keep, stored in an airtight container, for up to 2 days.

YOGHURT CAKE

COMMENTS:
This gorgeously moist & tangy cake from Valli Little's "Delicious - Simply the Best" is delicious served with yoghurt and some poached fruit or try it with the roasted plums - see Blog 10 March.

SERVES 6-8

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup thick Greek-style yoghurt, plus extra to serve
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extra
1/3 cup (80mls) sunflower oil
2 eggs
250g plain flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
finely grated zest of 1 orange
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
icing sugar to dust

METHOD:
Preheat the oven to 170*C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm round springform cake pan with baking paper. 
Combine yoghurt, caster sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk in oil until well combined, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition. Sift the flour baking powder and baking soda into the bowl, then add the citrus zest and a pinch of salt and stir to combine.
Spread the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. (Cover loosely with foil if the cake is browning too quickly.) Allow to cool completely in the pan, then dust with icing sugar.

COCONUT CAKE

COMMENTS:
This beautiful layered coconut cake with lemon curd filling comes from the Joy of Baking website and is superbly moist and tangy with a velvety meringue icing. My friends Lisa R & Wendy say it is not difficult but does have a few steps and is best made the day before and kept in the fridge.

HEALTH SLICE

COMMENTS:
Thanks to Sarah F for this fast and tasty slice that my kids now love for their afternoon tea.  My kids aren't fans of sultanas so I add some oats, slivered almonds and white chocolate chips. Sarah says it is also great with any dried fruit eg dried apples, cinnamon & dried ginger and with pecans pressed into the top and sprinkled with extra sugar. The possibilities are endless really!

INGREDIENTS:
1.5 cups self raising flour (can use wholemeal if you want)
3/4 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup desicated coconut
3/4 cup sultanas
2 eggs
4 tablespoons butter, melted

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 180*C and line based of 20cm by 30cm slice tin with baking paper.

Mix all the dry ingredients together well and make a well in the centre. Crack the 2 eggs into the well and stir until they are as incorporated as you can get them.  Pour in the melted butter and keep stirring until everything is combined.

Press the mix into the slice tin and bake for 20 minutes and test the centre.  If it's still a bit wet, pop it back in.

Allow to cool then slice.

MELK TART (Milk Tart)

COMMENTS: My mother-in-law Merle makes this delicious tart for us which hails from South Africa. Serve it with some fresh fruit.

SERVES 6-8

INGREDIENTS:
Pastry -
60g butter
1 cups plain flour
1 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoons oil
Pinch of salt (don't use if using salted butter)
1 small egg, well beaten

Filling -
1 egg
5 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons (rounded) plain flour
pinch salt
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 200*C.

In the food processor, blend the flour, salt & butter together until it resembles breadcrumbs and then add the caster sugar, oil and egg and blend again until the mixture again resembles breadcrumbs. (Don't over mix - it should not come together in the way ordinary pastry does.) Press pastry into a tart pan approximately 25cms and bake in oven for around 15 minutes.

Meanwhile beat together the flour, salt, sugar & egg. Place the milk & butter into a pan and bring almost to the boil. Pour half of the milk, stirring all the time, into the sugar mixture and stir until sugar has dissolved.  Pour the rest of the milk into the mixture and put back on the heat. Bring back to the boil, stirring all the time and boil until the mixture thickens.  To test if it is thick enough, take a spoonful of the mixture and make a ribbon design on the top. If it stays there for a little while, it is ready.

Pour the mixture into the tart shell and use a sieve to dust it with cinnamon.


MERLE"S XMAS MINCE PIES

COMMENTS: This is my mother-in-law Merle's special recipe for these little pies and I promise you will not find a better mince pie in any shop anywhere. It is a great recipe for the kids to help you with. The pastry is very thin and the filling just perfect even for those of us who don't like Xmas cake.  Roll the pastry as thin as possible and you will make many more than the official recipe which says 24. Just as well as they only last a matter of minutes when a dozen come out of the oven! I think they are FAR too good to save just for Xmas...

MAKES 24

INGREDIENTS:
Pastry -
275g plain flour
25g ground almonds
175g butter, cut into pieces
75g castor sugar
rind of 1/2 lemon
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons milk

Filling -
450g fruit mince from a jar
1-2 tablespoons brandy
1 finely chopped apple

Icing sugar to serve

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 200*C.

Sift the flour into a mixing blow and add the ground almonds. Add the butter and rub into the mixture evenly. (This can be done in the food processor.)  Add the sugar and grated lemon rind. Lightly mix the egg yolk and the milk and then stir into the dry ingredients to form a fairly soft dough.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Chill for 30 minutes before using.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface (or in between two pieces of cling wrap or baking paper lightly floured). Using a plain or fluted cutter, stamp out 24 circles (approx. 5cms) of pastry and 24 slightly smaller circles (approx. 4.5cms) for the tops. Place the bottoms in lightly greased tartlet tins (prepare in batches if necessary depending on how many tins you have).  

Meanwhile mix the fruit mince with the brandy and chopped apple then place a teaspoonful of the mixture in the centre of each pastry circle. Take care not to overfill the pies. Dampen the edges of the pastry and cover each one with a pastry top.  Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Dust with icing sugar and serve hot.  

SWEET & SALTY CRUNCH NUT BARS

COMMENTS :
I love the combination of sweet and salty in these chocolates from "Nigella Kitchen". I made them in a tin foil square tray which makes it super easy to remove when it is set. It takes about 12 minutes to make and then 4 hours to set. Be warned this is IMPOSSIBLE to stop eating!

Makes about 36 small squares.

INGREDIENTS:
200g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate
125g unsalted butter
45mls tablespoons golden syrup
250g salted peanuts
4 * 40g Crunchie bars

METHOD:
Chop up chocolate and drop into heavy based saucepan with butter and syrup, put on low heat and melt gently together.
Tip the peanuts into a bowl and crush the Crunchie bars with your hands and combine with the peanuts.
Take the melted chocolate off the heat and stir in the peanut mixture then tip straight into a foil tray or lined cake tin. Smooth the top of the mixture, pressing down as much as possible with a spatula.
Put into the fridge for about 4 hours then, once set, remove from tray/tin and cut into squares. Keeps for 3-4 days (but it won't last that long!).

CUPCAKES

C OMMENTS:
My friend Lisa R is a brilliant baker and is the QUEEN of cupcakes so of course I must have her favourite cupcake recipe for this website. She likes Nigella's cupcakes from "How to Eat" which you make in the blender and can easily double or triple as the occasion warrants.


MANGO MERINGUE BIRTHDAY CAKE

COMMENTS:
OK, I'm not going to try to pretend this is easy or quick to prepare or indeed that I have actually made it!  My friend Julia F did, however, make this cake by Christopher The of BlackStar Pastry on the cover of Nov '11 Delicious. She said it was delicious, it was lots of fun to make with her daughter and she'd do it again. You can see below it looks FANTASTIC! So if you're up for some baking and have some spare time, give it a go!

Begin this the day before and you will need a blowtorch, piping bags with a 1cm plain nozzle, and ,preferably, a kitchen thermometer. (Borrow from your friends.) Edible jasmine is from garden centres.  Natural almond meal is ground almonds with skin on, available from health food shops.

INGREDIENTS:
600mls thickened cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 mangoes, peeled, thinly sliced
225g caster sugar
125g eggwhite (about 4 eggwhites)
unsprayed jasmine flowers, halved
blueberries & mint leaves to serve

Almond dacquoise
175g eggwhite (about 5 eggwhites)
100g caster sugar
110g natural almond meal 
110g icing sugar, sifted

Cradle Cake
75g egg yolks (about 4 egg yolks)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup (165mls) buttermilk
1 1/3 cups (200g) plain flour, sifted
200g caster sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
115g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 (105g) schredded coconut

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 160*C. Grease and line the base and sides of 4 * 20cm spring form pans with baking paper.  
For the dacquoise, place eggwhite in an electric mixer with a pinch of salt.
Whisk until foamy, then gradually add the caster sugar, a tablespoonful at a time, whisking constantly until stiff and glossy.  Sift the almond meal and icing sugar together in a bowl, then, in three batches, gently fold into the meringue mixture.
Scoop 1/4 of the dacquoise into a piping bag fitted with an 1cm plain nozzle. Starting in the centre of 1 cake pan, pipe in a spiral to completely cover the base of the pan.  Using a small palette knife, spread the outer circle of dacquoise up the sides of the cake pan to create a 2cm boarder.  Repeat with remaining dacquoise to fill each cake pan.  Set aside.
For the cradle cake, place egg yolks, vanilla and 60mls cup buttermilk in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. Place flour, sugar, baking powder and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer and mix to combine. Add butter and beat until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Add half of the eggyolk mixture and beat to combine.  Add remaining egg yolk mixture and remaining 105mls buttermilk and beat until a smooth batter. Fold in coconut.
Scoop 1/4 of the cake batter into a clean piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle.  Starting from the centre of 1 cake pan, pipe batter in a spiral to completely cover the dacquoise, ensuring the batter sits inside the 2cm border. Repeat with remaining batter to form 4 cakes. Bake for 50 minutes rotating after 25 minutes to ensure even cooking, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in the pans.
In a clean, cold bowl, whisk 400mls of cream with 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla until stiff peaks form. Remove cooled cakes from pans and transfer 1 cake to a board or cake stand. Spread with 1/5 of the vanilla cream then cover with 1/3 of the mango slices.  Spread another layer of vanilla cream, then invert 1 of the cakes so that the dacquoise layer is facing up.  Gently press down to sandwich cakes together, smoothing any cream around the sides with a palette knife.  Set aside and repeat this process with the other 2 cakes, vanilla cream and mango.  Spread remaining vanilla cream on the top of 1 of the assembled cakes, then top with the other assemble cake to form 4 tiers.  Gently press down again.  Loosely cover and chill overnight.
The next day, place sugar and 75mls water in a pan over low heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Increase heat to medium-high and cook, brushing down sides of pan with a damp pastry brush, for 6-8 minutes until 116*C (if you don't have a kitchen thermometer, 1/4 teaspoon sugar syrup dropped into iced water will form a soft ball).  Whisk eggwhite in an electric mixer until soft peaks form.  With the motor running, carefully pour hot syrup down the side of the bowl.  Whisk for a further 20 minutes on medium speed until meringue is glossy and voluminous and bowl is cool to touch.
Transfer meringue to a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle. Starting from the bottom, pipe the mixture around the cake to cover the sides. Alternatively spread with a palette knife.  Use a kitchen blowtorch to gently brown the meringue.
Whisk remaining 200mls of cream and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla to stiff peaks.  Spread on top of the cake, then decorate with jasmine, blueberries, mint and remaining mango.

COCONUT & CHOCOLATE MACAROONS

COMMENTS:
These coconuty biscuits from Alison Thompson's "Bake" are "irresistible". So simple to prepare, all in one bowl, they make an excellent gift if you are going to someone's house for dinner.

MAKES 32

INGREDIENTS:
4 egg whites
300g caster sugar
300g desiccated coconut
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
30g apricot jam
200g dark chocolate, tempered

METHOD:
1. Preheat oven to 200*C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. Combine egg whites, sugar, coconut and vanilla in a bowl. Heat the apricot jam in the microwave for 15 seconds, until warm, then add to the mixture.  Using a spatula mix the ingredients until well combined.
3. Press tablespoonfuls of the mixture into firm mounds on the baking trays. Bake for 7-10 minutes until golden around the edges.  Cool on the trays.
4. Dip the base of each macaroon into the melted chocolate, then place chocolate side down on the baking trays to set.

Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

GINGER NUT BISCUITS

COMMENTS:
These biscuits from "Bake" by Alison Thompson are deliciously gingery. Perfect for my ginger mad family. Great with some ginger tea for afternoon tea.

They harden upon cooling.

MAKES 24

INGREDIENTS:
225g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons mixed spice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground ginger
60g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, diced
125g golden syrup
50g caster sugar, extra

METHOD:
1. Preheat oven to 180*C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. Sift flour, baking soda, mixed spice, cinnamon, ginger and sugar into a large bow. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and golden syrup over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients.  Mix with a spatula until a dough forms.
3. Roll dough into walnut sized balls, then roll the balls in the extra sugar to coat. Place balls 5cms apart on the baking trays.
4. Bake the biscuits for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on the trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

FAMILY CHOCOLATE CAKE

COMMENTS:
This recipe was given to me by my friend Lisa whom is a "baker extraordinaire".  Whenever there is baking to be done she either volunteers to do it or someone dobs her in.  It is a photocopied recipe and I can't even see which book it is from.  It is a beautifully moist chocolate cake that caused my son to proclaim it the best cake he had EVER tasted!  I love the fact that it serves 20 so can feed the birthday party or the extended family. LOVE THAT!

SERVES 20

INGREDIENTS:
Cake:
2 cups (500mls) water
3 cups (660g) caster sugar
250g butter, chopped
1/3 cup (35g) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 cups (450g) self-raising flour
4 eggs, beaten lightly

Fudge Frosting:
90g butter
1/3 cup (80mls) water
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
11/2 cups icing sugar mixture
1/3 cup (35g) cocoa powder

METHOD:
1. Preheat oven to moderate. Grease a deep 26.5cm by 33cm baking dish, line base with baking paper.
2. Combine the water, sugar, butter and combined sifted cocoa and soda in a medium saucepan, stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat, simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes.  Transfer mixture to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
3. Add flour and egg to bowl, beat with electric mixer until mixture is smooth and changed to a paler colour.  Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.
4. Bake cake in moderate oven for 50 minutes.  Stand cake 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack and turn cake top-side up to cool.
5. Spread cold cake with fudge frosting.

Fudge Frosting: Combine butter, water and caster sugar in a small saucepan, stir over heat without boiling until sugar dissolves.  Sift icing sugar and cocoa into small bowl then gradually stir in hot butter mixture.  Cover, refrigerate for about 20 minutes or until frosting thickens.  Beat with a wooden spoon until spreadable.

RASPBERRY & WHITE CHOCOLATE MUFFINS

COMMENTS:
Another recipe given to me by my friend Wendy (see Fish Burgers) and again another winner. THANK YOU WENDY! These are my absolute favourite muffins as they are so moist with the buttermilk/yogurt in them and the raspberry and white chocolate chip combo is always a winner.

MAKES 12

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup quick oats
1 cup plain yogurt/buttermilk mix (half plain yogurt, half buttermilk)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup safflower oil
1 cup self raising flour with pinch of salt
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 180*C and line a 12 cup muffin pan with muffin cases.

Blend oats and yogurt/buttermilk mix then add egg, sugar and oil and beat with an electric beater until well mixed.

Sift flour/salt into mix and sprinkle raspberries and white chocolate chips. Gently mix to combine but don't stir too much.

Fill muffin cases and bake for about 35 minutes.  Put on rack to cool.

ROCKY ROAD CRUNCH BARS

COMMENTS
This recipe is from "Nigella Express" and is an absolute winner.  We often take it when we are visiting people for dinner. Watch out...it is IMPOSSIBLE to stop eating. I always make a double batch!

BANANA & BUTTERSCOTCH MUFFINS

T hese muffins from "Nigella Express" are delicious & quick to whip up before the kids get home from school. I haven't managed to track down butterscotch morsels as yet so I always use white chocolate buttons.

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fiona | Reply 14.03.2012 13.46

looks delicious. Will have a crack at the yoghurt cake this weekend. thanks Sam

Anna | Reply 21.10.2011 13.50

Sam you are amazing
very inspirational. I will never again be stuck for great meal ideas.
Love it!!

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17.05 | 21:12

very nice

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18.02 | 07:27

i would like a small turkey breast and turkey neck recipe - not dietic

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30.07 | 18:59

Excellent salad recipes and not time consuming to prepare ,Ursula

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Hi Sam, I would love to receive updates for your fabulous blog. Keep up the great work!

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