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Whole Orange Cake (no butter, no oil)

19 Nov

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This cake is all over the internet and I’m sure you have seen it before. If you haven’t, let me sell it to you.

Plump, juicy summer oranges are simmered in hot water until burstingly soft and tender, then blended, skins and all. The aroma of the orange oil from the skins and the sweet flesh will really liven you up.

Almond meal is in there for sweet nuttiness. Wholesome brown sugar is whipped with whole eggs until silky and a little flour ties it all together.

It is SO easy, moist, keeps well and is oh so, well… Orangey. Because the skins are blended into the mix, you need to find thin skinned oranges without much pith, to minimise the bitterness.  It is delicious served with natural/Greek yoghurt and some orange wedges. And although this is not ever a criteria for me, this recipe has no oil or butter, just the fat from the eggs. So all those looking to eat lean, this is one for you.

I have experimented with this cake several times and I think this is just right. You can use any mould. My friend makes little orange love hearts. I make a bundt, usually.

You’ll need…

3 whole eggs

2 small oranges (thin skins)

1 1/2 cups almond meal

1/2 cup SR flour

2/3 cup brown sugar

Here’s what you do…

Simmer oranges, in water for around 1 hour.

Once cooled, puree in the blender or food processor until smooth. Combine eggs and sugar and mix until thick and ribbon-like.

Fold through orange mix and dry ingredients.

Pour into tin and cook in a 180 degree oven for about 25-30 mins, or until light golden brown and springs back when pressed lightly. Allow to cool in the turn before turning out.

That’s it! As my favourite tv celebrity meerkat would say, “simples”.

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two4six8!

Spanakopita (Spanaki = Spinach & Pita = Pie)

31 Aug

Ok, straight-up apologies to any Greek people reading this. This is probably not an authentic recipe and you will no doubt roll your eyes in dismay at yet another bastardisation of one of your most delicious dishes. Sorry, but sometimes I get a hankering and there is no good Greek food that I can afford around my neighbourhood.

Here’s what you’ll need…

1 packet of Phyllo pastry

About 150 grams butter, melted

1 large bunch silver beet or spinach

2 eggs, lightly beaten

200 gram block fetta (Greek), crumbled

2 tablespoons grated parmesan, or similar hard cheese

One brown onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon dill, chopped

A little olive oil

Salt and pepper

Here’s what you do…

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.

1. Rinse the spinach/silver beet thoroughly and drain. Squeeze out excess moisture with your hands. Roughly chop. Set aside in a large bowl.

2. Sautee the diced onion and the garlic in a little olive oil until soft and translucent. Add to the spinach.

3. Add the cheeses, egg and dill to the spinach and onion, season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.

3. Grease a large, rectangular baking dish with a little melted butter.

4. Set your phyllo pastry on the bench, opened out flat and cover with a tea towel to prevent from drying out (it is very tricky to handle if it dries – will tear and shred so easily it will drive you mad). It is also important to check the packet instructions – usually I have to leave mine out of the fridge, in the packet for an hour or so until it is room temperature before using.

5. Layer the base of the pan with 2-3 sheets of buttered phyllo. I find it easiest to lay the sheets in the dish one at a time and brush with butter in between each layer. It is very important that the layers are brushed with butter.

6. Tip the spinach mixture on top of the pastry base and spread out evenly, patting down gently with your hands.

7. Add the remaining sheets of pastry, one at a time, brushing with a little butter in between each layer. You will have lots and lots of layers, but this pastry is extremely thin and you want a nice top on your Spanakopita – flaky and buttery. Yum.

8. Using a very sharp knife, carefully cut the top of the pie into squares or triangles. Do not cut down into the filling. You want to cut through all the layers of pastry, as neatly as you can, but without reaching the filling.

9. Put the tray into the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

10. Allow to cool slightly, cut and serve.

Serve on its own as a snack or with a salad and some fresh Greek yoghurt. Also, good cold/room temperature.

Lemon Curd Pavlova

31 Aug
two4six8! Not the best pic as taken outside, under a tree, on my phone.

two4six8! Not the best pic as taken outside, under a tree, on my phone.

Last weekend I had my first Pav success! My Mum and my sister-in-law turn out perfect pavs every time, but I have never had the knack! My mother-in-law was hosting a big lunch in her beautiful backyard and I was on dessert duty. She had lots of enormous, juicy lemons from a friend’s tree, so we made lemon curd to top the pavlova. This was a break from the tradition of kiwi, strawberries, passion fruit. It turned out very pretty and tasted delicious. I’m sorry but I don’t have the lemon curd recipe I used with me, but it is basically egg yolks, lemon juice, sugar and butter all mixed together and stirred over a bain-marie for about 15 minutes or until thick. There are loads of recipes online. I decorated with some lemon blossoms and whipped cream.

I’m not normally a ‘follow the rules’ cook. However, there are a few things you can’t muck around with if you want a perfect Pavlova. Then again, who needs perfection? If you end up with gooey sticky bits, yum. I have never met a pavlova that doesn’t turn into a heap of mess when you serve it, so fear not. Here’s what to try…

You’ll need…

For the Pavlova:

7 egg whites
385 grams caster sugar
3 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon white vinegar

(A rule of thumb for pavlova is 1 egg white to 55 grams of sugar – so you can adjust quantities down or up fairly easily)

Here’s what you do…
Preheat oven to about 110 degrees celsius or only 100 for fan forced (yes, very low). Cut out a 25 centimetre (diameter) circle of baking paper. Smear a bit of butter on the tray underneath it to stop it from sliding around.

1. Ensure your mixing bowl is totally clean and dry. I like to use a little alcohol to clean out the bowl. Water is a pavlova enemy.
2. Carefully separate eggs. Yolk is also a pav enemy. Place in large mixing bowl.
3. Using a hand beater (or stand mixer on medium speed), beat the egg whites to soft peaks.
4. Gradually add the sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating thoroughly all the while. Continue beating until all the sugar has been added. Then keep on beating. You will probably be beating for about 15-20 minutes all together. You can stop until all the sugar has dissolved. You can test this by rubbing a bit of meringue between your fingers. If it feels grainy, keep beating until it isn’t.
5. Once the sugar has fully dissolved, your mixture will be very thick and glossy. Add the cornflour and vinegar and beat a few seconds until well combined.
6. Using a spatula, heap the mixture onto the paper and smear it out to fit just inside the baking paper circle. It is up to you what shape to make. I made a round, flat top with a slightly raised edge to stop the lemon curd from running over the sides (but if you like that look – do whatever you like).
– Of course you can make any shape pavlova you like: oval, square, rectangle? –
7. Place your pavlova in the oven AND DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES OPEN THE OVEN DOOR TO SNEAK A PEAK YOUR PAV MAY COLLAPSE. (Sorry for breaching food blog recipe write-up etiquette. I wasn’t yelling at you. I just don’t want you to be disappointed. It was capitalisation from a place of caring). Cook the Pavlova for around 1 hour and 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the pav to cool completely (in the oven). Some people leave the door ajar to speed this process up. (There is a picture of the ‘naked pav’ at the bottom of the post).
8. Top your pay with lemon curd and dollops of whipped cream. Or, other toppings I have heard of or tried include:

  • Of course, the traditional kiwi, passionfruit and strawberries, mango, banana
  • Mixed berries (can be macerated or not)
  • Cherries are lovely for Christmas
  • Grilled, poached or stewed fruit (cold obviously) such as rhubarb, peaches, spiced prunes, pineapple, figs
  • Some marscapone mixed in with the whipped cream
  •  Pomegranate and pistachio
  • Citrus – orange, mandarin, ruby grapefruit

I would love to know what your favourite topping is or would be. Be sure to leave a comment!

Enjoy!

Oh! And by the way, if a New Zealander ever tries to tell you that they invented the pavlova – tell them you are SURE it is Australian 😉

A blank canvass to decorate with any number of creative, seasonal, delicious toppings.

A blank canvass to decorate with any number of creative, seasonal, delicious toppings. Crispy shell with light, fluffy, sweet marshmallow centre. Australian dessert heaven!

 

And I just found a picture of a doozie my amazing sister-in-law made, from Mum’s recipe, I think!

PERFECT PIES!

16 Aug

Just a friendly reminder to MAKE AND EAT PIES! In my book, there is no more satisfying a food experience when you are cold, hungover, starved, sad or celebrating.

Here are a couple I’ve made lately to inspire you and get those salivary glands going…

Apple and Cranberry Pie

Christmas Turkey Pot Pie.

After dinner I asked my niece (3 at the time) what type of pie she loves best, “Love Heart Pie”, she answered. Don’t we all!

Or check out the Lamb, Onion and Stout Pie recipe I submitted for a competition ages ago. It didn’t win, but it won me a husband!!

Aussie Icon

Aussie Icon

Personally, I love all sorts of pies. Lattice top pies, bottomless pies, pot pies, party pies. But my favourite is a real, proper pie – pastry on the bottom, pastry on the top, hot, steamy salty or sweet filling.

PIES! Make one today. Your friends, family and belly will thank-you.

In my book, the perfect pie is actually not perfect at all, at least not aesthetically! I like homemade pies that have gravy goo oozing out the edges or sticky fruit leaking through slits in the top. Wonky edges and extra crispy bits are perfect. As long as the pastry is cooked through and the filling is made from good stuff, you can’t go wrong! No Martha Stewart style perfection pies for me please. I guess in a pie I’m looking for unpretentious perfection… If that makes sense?

Or if you want to try a truly weird food experience, form my hometown of Adelaide, try a pie-floater! A hot meat pie, floating in pea soup, with lots of tomato sauce. If you’re lucky you’ll get a spoonful of mash on top. Sounds ridiculous? Tastes amazing. Promise. Try it! Next time you make pea and ham soup get a pie from the shop, plop it in a shallow bowl of soup, tomato sauce on top. Promise you’ll love it, you just have to embrace it.

Here are some leftovers pies ideas…

Chop up leftover roast meat, veggies and gravy.

Use a tin of cream of mushroom soup with leftover roast chook or christmas turkey.

Homemade baked beans make yummy pies, add a bit of cheese!

Mix leftover steamed/stir-fried vegies with some satay sauce and make little satay veggie pies.

Stewed fruit of course – my favourites are apple and cherry, apple and pineapple, apricot made from rehydrated turkish dried apricots (put some booze in this one)!

Put your leftover curry in a pie!

TIPS FOR A PERFECT PIE! (Pie pros will already know these probably, but they are tips that helped me learn to make good pies)!

Whether you are using store bought pastry or home made, it is important to blind bake your base first! I find the best way is to cover the base with baking paper.

Always brush your pastry top with egg-wash or something to make it shiny.

Here are some toppings I’ve tried:

* Fig Jam – looks pretty with the little fig seeds
* Cardamom sugar – mix a pinch of cardamom into some Demerara sugar
* Coloured sugar – you can buy it from the grocery store – kids love this!
* Lavendar sugar, thyme sugar, rosemary sugar – these are all herbs that taste lovely with sweet fillings

Crust ideas:

* Cheddar crust is amazing! Just add cheese to your pastry dough for savoury or sweet pies. So delicious!
* Herb crust – load your pastry with herbs for extra flavour
* Pepper crust – instead of making a peppery stew for a filling, add lots of pepper to the pastry
* Of course cut out shapes for the top! Scour the op-shops and kitchen stores for unusual cookie cutters, some of the ones I have found are a cute rabbit for rabbit pies, christmas themed for leftover Christmas pies, flowers for a girly strawberry pie. Be creative with shapes – cut out a fish for the top of a fish pie
* Instead of one large sheet cut to fit your pie tin, cut the pastry into lots of rounds, or use a cutter to make lots of pieces and layer them in a pattern of concentric circles on top. You can see the filling through little gaps and it just looks, well… different and kind of cute. Here is an example – this blogger has done a superb job, geez that looks like a tasty pie! Herb Crusted Peach and Cardamom Pie
* Cut out little shapes to make a border around the outside edge of your pie top.
* Cut shapes out of your top sheet instead of layering extra pastry cut outs on top.

The Perfect Pie…

* An old fashioned black bird is ideal for saucy fillings – cut a whole in the centre. He is designed to let steam out to help your pastry lid cook. Cute and retro, but very purposeful! Most kitchen shops should have them
* Make sure your pie filling is plenty moist – nobody likes a dry pie! Ask your green grocer about the best fruits for pies if you are not sure. You want fruit that holds its shape somewhat, but isn’t dry or too watery when cooked. Sometimes a combination of fruits is best to get the right balance. Pectin in fruit is what makes it go nice and sticky. For example, if you have a lot of berries (low pectin), mix it with something higher pectin (like an apple, plums or quinces).
Nobody likes a soggy-bottom pie either. If your sauce is too runny, thicken with a little corn starch and water or drain off some of the runny stuff.
* I always prefer to cool the filling before adding it to the pie. So, if you make a pre-cooked stew or other filling mixture, allow it to cool first. This will prevent your pastry from going gooey before it goes into the oven.
* In my opinion, is cooked in glass or ceramic. Not sure why I think this, just have a feeling that pies in metal tins are inferior. I guess ceramic and glass heat slower than metal and so the base doesn’t cook too quickly, leaving time for the filling to cook just right as well. Or maybe it’s just childhood nostalgia? My Dad always made rabbit pie in an oval shaped, dark brown, deep ceramic dish. For me, something with a sloped edge prevents the pastry from ‘slumping’ in the dish.
* Serve it with something! Whether it’s plain old tomato sauce on a meat/veg pie (don’t be a snob, you know you want it), a side of mash and peas or crispy salad, or for sweet pies a dollop of cream, custard or ice-cream is heaven. For something different, or a bit posh, try these out – natural yoghurt sweetened with honey or not sweetened at all, for fruit pies. Raita and chutney with a curry pie. Beetroot relish or chilli tomato jam with savoury pies.

Personally, I think the best list of pie recipes online that I have found belongs to the BBC.

And to my USA followers, you know I want to hear from you… You are a nation of bigger pie nuts than even us Aussies! I’ll never forget my first Cherry Pie a la mode experience when I was fifteen in a New York diner.

Chilli Chocolate Cake ❤

14 Aug

So I’m STILL really busy and this is cheeky – but I don’t have a lot of time for inventing. This cake recipe was from a great show that was screening on SBS television a few months back called Spice Trip. I tried this cake without the tequila and loved it so much I made it for our wedding day, along with a few other favourites as part of a cake banquet for our guests. I chose this because it is super duper quick and easy. No beatermix required. One bowl, a spoon and a whisk. Here is the link to the recipe
http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/really-easy-chocolate-cake-chilli-salt-and-tequila

I undercook this cake because I’m always worried about turning out a frisbee and wasting the good chocolate I use to make it. It is gooey the first day (amazingly delicious served warm out of the oven), and it kind of sets by the second day and is moist, firm and superb! I recommend covering loosely with foil for the last five or ten minutes and whatever you do don’t open the oven door to sneak a peak or you’ll get a pancake. Opening the oven door too early in the cooking process will cause your cake to collapse.

Here are some wedding snaps. I’ll have to ask my sister for the Russian Tea Cakes recipes.

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Chocolate, Coconut and Rum Cake

1 Feb
Tiki says "yum yum two4six8!"

Tiki says “yum yum two4six8!”

I’m not a very good baker. I just don’t have the feel for it and never really got the basics firmly under my belt. I do however, have baking under my belt in the literal sense. In fact, I always tell people I don’t really have  a sweet-tooth. Well, that’s just a big whopping ol’ lie isn’t it. I have the waist-line to prove it 😉 I especially like chocolate cake. Who doesn’t? Apart from my Nanna’s hand-written chocolate fudge cake recipe which lives tucked inside the front cover of Mum’s tattered and beloved Joy of Cooking, I really don’t know a chocolate cake recipe. Nanna’s is a good everyday chocolate cake, but I wanted to make something a bit spesh, you know? I also like rum. Rum and chocolate cake… Now you’re talking. Oh, merde! No butter. Hmmm. And merde encore, only two eggs. Lousy backyard chickens. Oh, there’s a spare egg white leftover. And what about that jar of coconut oil sitting in the pantry? Surely that stuff’s delicious. Mum makes the world’s best muffins with that stuff. And I hear it’s really GOOD for you. Something about good fats with a really hard to pronounce name… Medium chain triglycerides? Say that 10 times really quickly! After you’ve tested the rum for the cake.  Healthy chocolate cake… Woohoo!

Eggs, chocolate, coconut oil, rum, flour. Let’s give it a bash. So, I got brave and made it up as I went along. And guess what? Success. It’s been out of the oven 30 minutes and I’ve already got two slices under my belt! Yay! I can bake!

Here’s what you’ll need…

2 eggs, separated

1 extra egg white

1/4 cup caster sugar

150 grams dark cooking chocolate

1/4 cup coconut oil

splash of rum/rum essence

3/4 cup SR flour

1/3 cup milk

Here’s what you do…

1. Grease a standard 8″ round tin and pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

2. Melt the chocolate (in the microwave or over a bain-marie) and set aside to cool.

3. In a medium sized mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl, beat the two egg yolks and caster sugar until light, fluffy and very pale (about 5 minutes). In another bowl, beat the egg-whites until stiff peaks form.

4. Mix oil and rum into melted chocolate. Stir thoroughly until well combined. While beating the egg yolk mixture on low speed, slowly pour in the chocolate and rum mixture. Mix until just combined. Don’t over-beat, or you will lose the air you need in the mixture.

5. Slowly add sifted flour and milk, alternately, mixing gently on very low speed (or you can do this by hand). I like to start and end with flour. Again, do not over-mix, just until the flour and milk is incorporated.

6. Add about 1/3 of the egg whites to the batter and slowly, gently fold through with a whisk or spatula. Once incorporated, add the remaining egg whites to the bowl and fold through the mixture.

7. Pour batter into prepared tin and sit this in another baking tray with an inch or so of tepid water in the bottom. Bake for around 20-30 minutes or until the top bounces back when lightly pressed with your finger.

8. Allow to cool in the tin for ten minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool. Ice and refrigerate to eat later or serve warm as a dessert. I just did a paper cut and sprinkled with icing sugar – maybe it doesn’t need icing at all?

Enjoy! If you think of any good serving ideas or garnishes – share them in the comments section.

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I served this piece with rum chocolate cream. It’s whipped cream with rum and melted chocolate. You could ice it with this?

Simple Pleasures: Melting Moments with Lime Butter Cream

29 Jan

So good with a hot cuppa for a relaxing treat

I needed to bake something egg-free for a friend recently. All I could think of was shortbread. Boring. Shortbread sandwiched around tangy, creamy icing. Now you’re talking. This whole batch of biscuits cost about the same as one melting moment from the sweaty jar at the local cafe.

These were perfect! Yummo and super easy and quick to make. I had to tweak the recipes I found to suit my ingredients. This is what I came up with.

All you’ll need…

Makes 12 small-medium sandwich style biscuits

125 grams unsalted butter, chopped

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

1/4 cup icing sugar

3/4 cup plain flour

1/2 cup cornflour

Filling

75 grams butter

2/3 cup icing sugar

1 teaspoon lime juice

zest one lime (finely grated)

Firstly…

Beat butter, vanilla and icing sugar until fluffy.

Sift together plain flour and cornflour and add to butter mixture in three batches, folding through.

Place small balls of batter about 2 cm’s apart on a non-stick baking tray and flatten with a fork. Alternatively, you can pipe the mixture onto the tray, using a wide circular nozzle. I did the latter and got nice, evenly round biscuits.

Bake for 12-15 minutes at 170 degrees. Cool on cooling racks. Be careful moving the biscuits as they are quite soft and breakable while warm.

For the Filling…

Cream all ingredients with a hand beater or free standing electric mixer until very pale, light and fluffy. Refrigerate until biscuits have completely cooled.

To assemble…

Pipe a dollop of icing onto one biscuit, then simply sandwich together with another.

The butter cream will still be soft. Refrigerate for ten minutes or until firm so they hold together when eaten. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

two4six8!

Peach and Strawberry Almond Crumble

29 Jan

Peach and Strawberry Almond Crumble

So I haven’t eaten dessert for weeks, and as you know I don’t really give a hoot about sweet things but this was delicious – teamed up with a rainy evening, Midnight Cowboy DVD and my favourite person to stay home with on a Saturday night – a winner!

This is easy as pie. I mean crumble.

This was a beautiful fruit combo but you could substitute almost any fruit. I had these getting very ripe in my fridge.

You’ll need…

2-3 large peaches, cut into pieces

handful of strawberries, rinsed, hulled and halved

2 teaspoons castor sugar

about 3/4 cup plain flour

about 1/4 cup brown sugar

60 grams cold butter, diced

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1/4-1/2 cup flaked almonds

Preheat to 190 fan-forced

The first step…

is to simply arrange your fruit in a shallow baking dish (mine was a one inch deep 20cm ceramic pie dish) and sprinkle with castor sugar. Leave to macerate a little while you prepare the crumble.

For the crumble…

Place all ingredients except the almonds in a stand alone mixer bowl, or a medium mixing bowl. Make sure the butter is very cold for best results. Process (on medium speed) or rub between your fingers until you have a large-ish crumble (if it is too fine, like breadcrumbs, the top will not go crunchy). It’s not a very enticing example but the crumble should be about the consistency of gravel.

Fold through the flaked almonds.

Sprinkle the crumble over the fruit – do not press it down – it should be a loose, even, thick layer.

Bake for around 20 minutes…

or until the fruit starts bubbling around the edges and the top is a deep golden brown.

I served it with yummy home-made custard – whisk 2 egg yolks, 1 tablsepoon cornflour, 1 tablespoon castor sugar thoroughly, pour over 250ml’s hot (almost boiling) milk – whisk vigorously. Pour into saucepan and stir over medium heat until thick. Refrigerate.

two4six8!

Yummy fruity comfort food

Love Cake with Figs, Pine Nuts and Rosemary

18 Apr

two4six8!

This cake is a traditional Armenian Spice Cake recipe handed to me by an old work colleague. It is my idea of a great cake. If you’re a sponge cake with jam and cream kind of person then this might not be for you, and I’m not sure if little kids will go for it. It’s a bit of a ‘grown up’ cake. It has a biscuity base, it is soft and dense and is flavoured with dark brown sugar and lots of fragrant nutmeg. It is quick and easy to make and has very few ingredients.

I have made this cake my own by using two ingredients which may seem unlikely cake topping ingredients but my palate loves them. I hope yours will too. They are typically savoury ingredients which I think complement the spice and brown sugar very well in this cake. Rosemary and pine nuts purportedly have aphrodisiac qualities (or at least significance to ancient societies for their fertility promoting qualities or sex appeal), as does the nutmeg, hence the name I’ve given it. Oh and today I had some figs ripe and ready to be eaten so I decided to use them too. I checked if they were suitably ‘sexy’ and it turns out some people say that it was in fact a fig with which Eve tempted Adam in the garden of Eden. So there was my answer!

You really can experiment with toppings for this cake. Chopped walnuts or pecans are apparently traditional and I have tried this many times. I like to toast them a little first to bring out the nuttiness. Once I made a tangy orange syrup to drizzle over the warm cake which was also fantastic! Natural yoghurt (or vanilla) is really nice with this. The tang really works with the sweetness from the dark brown sugar. A pineapple and mint salsa and some thick cream on the side is great too and has evoked rave reviews in the past.

Today I’m home and it’s rainy and cool outside and my house is filled with the aroma of cake! The anticipation’s getting to Paul!

Here’s the recipe. You’ll need…

1 cup SR flour

1 cup plain flour

1 cup dark brown sugar (or 1 1/4 regular brown)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

125g unsalted butter (but I’ve made it with salted and it tasted fine)

For the topping…

2 ripe figs, sliced

1 tbsp pine nuts (lightly toasted)

1 sprig rosemary, rinsed well under warm water

1/2 a fresh nutmeg, grated (or a whole one if you prefer – I use about 3/4)

My cute matrioshka measuring cups remind me of someone special ♡

Preheat oven…

… to 180 degrees fan bake setting. Grease a 21cm spring-form pan.

Into a large mixing bowl…

… sift flours, baking powder and sugar. Cut butter into cubes and rub into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Measure one third of this mixture (about a cup) and press it firmly into the bottom of the cake tin. Try to get an even layer. This will make the biscuit base.

Fine bread crumb texture is easiest with cold butter

In a separate bowl…

… dissolve the baking soda in the milk then add the egg and nutmeg. Mix well. Add the wet to the dry and combine well. I like to use a whisk for this step. Pour the cake mix into the tin and decorate with the fig slices, rosemary leaves and pine nuts (or whatever else you like).

Fresh nutmeg is easy to grate but you can use store bought ground nutmeg of course
If you use other fruit for garnish make sure you slice it fairly thin so it doesnt sink
Pretty!

Bake for around 50 minutes…

… the cake will be quite a dark colour. This is because of the dark brown sugar. It is important not to overcook this cake as the base can burn. If you think the top is really too dark, then cover it with foil about half way through to prevent it from getting too much darker. Keep an eye on it and when a wooden skewer comes out clean it is ready.

Allow to cool for 15 minutes in the tin

The texture of the cake is not super smooth. It is delicious served warm or at room temperature and keeps for a few days in an airtight container.  I hope this picture shows the biscuit base and texture of the cake.

two4six8!

Mmmm-muffins

31 Jan

A fiercely clever friend of mine once said “… hate that cutesy cupcake bullshit”!

She’s not wrong. I’ll prove it. If you had the choice of biting into a) a cupcake that tastes like the packet it comes from along with an inch high pile of sickly pastel pink piped on clag glue and icing sugar mix that makes every part of your mouth stick together in the most unnatural way OR…

b) This Coconut, Nectarine and White Chocolate Muffin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What would you chose?

Cupcake horror aside, muffins are often not much better. When I buy muffins they rarely taste like they’re supposed to.

I know this is no ground-breaking culinary innovation, but it has taken me countless muffin making experiments to get the texture and flavour to my liking. Now that I have perfected the recipe I thought you’d like to try it.

I like coconut a LOT, so I thought I’d put some in my muffins. I realised that adding a little dessicated coconut to the batter doesn’t give you a very coconutty flavour. So, I decided to try coconut cream as the liquid in place of buttermilk. Success!

These muffins are very moist (especially when eaten fresh out of the oven, still warm) and they have a golden, crumbly outside. The spiced sugar topping really, um, well tops them off!

The addition of white chocolate is indulgent but if it is too sweet for you, leave it out. Use pecans, macadamias or some other delicious nut in its place.

Here’s the recipe… I’ve put an asterisk next to the base ingredients so you can reproduce the batter adding whatever fruit or other star ingredient you like. You could use this recipe for savoury muffins by leaving out the sugar and vanilla, obviously. Crammed with fried onions and with sweet chilli sauce on top.

Ingredients

(makes 6 medium sized muffins)

150 grams SR flour*

50 grams brown sugar*

50 grams dessicated or shredded coconut (or mix of both)*

pinch of salt*

1 large egg*

125 ml coconut cream*

50 grams butter (melted and cooled)*

1 tsp vanilla extract*

2 ripe nectarines, sliced into thin wedges

1 tbsp white choc buttons

For the Topping

1 tbsp demerara/raw sugar

1 tsp mixed spice (allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Measure all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, mix thoroughly. Add nectarine.

In a separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients, whisk just to lightly beat the egg and combine all ingredients well.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour in the wet ingredients. Mix minimally with a spatula under JUST combined. Dry patches in the batter are a good thing.

Mix sugar and spice in a small bowl and sprinkle a little on the top of each muffin.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then on a wire rack.

Don't take me out of my comfort zone before I've cooled down or I'll break apart.


two4six8!

Valentines Day?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other winning combinations are pineapple and cardamom or passionfruit butter or marmalade (just put a blob in the middle after spooning the batter into the tin – poke your finger down into the centre, spoon some in, then close the hole over again gently).