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Category Archives: Biscuits and Slices

Soul Cakes for All Souls’ Day



It’s 2 November, All Souls’ Day, and today I baked Soul  Cakes, the traditional fare for this special day.

 “The cakes, often simply referred to as souls, are given out to soulers who go from door to door, singing and saying prayers for the souls of the givers and their friends.”

The musician Sting has a version of the traditional song “Soul Cake” on his album “If on a Winter’s Night”. Here are some lyrics.

“A soul cake, a soul cake,

Please, good missus, a soul cake.

An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,

Any good thing to make us all merry,

A soul cake, a soul cake,

Please, good missus, a soul cake.

One for Peter, two for Paul,

And three for Him that made us all.”

These souls cakes are half biscuit, half cake. They are heavily spiced, and coloured yellow with a little saffron. I added the zest of a mandarin, an orange is just as good. I made mine quite thick, to be more cake like, and less like a biscuit. I think this works well.

My soul cakes are a little rustic, ie not very pretty, but taste really spicy and are quite more-ish.

While a traditional treat for this day, you could make them anytime as they are super delicious!

Ingredients

100 g butter, softened

100g caster sugar

2 free-range egg yolks

250g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 -1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon saffron

Zest of an orange or mandarin

2 tbs milk

75g sultanas

Method

Put the softened butter, caster sugar and egg yolks in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until everything is combined and the mixture is creamy. Don’t worry if it looks split – the addition of the flour will fix that!

Sift the flour and spices,including the saffron. Put the mixture with the orange/mandarin zest into the processor, blitzing for a couple of seconds only, then blitz in the milk a little at a time until the dough just comes together. Don’t over-mix! If the dough isn’t yellow enough, add a pinch more of saffron.

Stir in the sultanas by hand.

Form the dough into a rough ball, them roll into a sausage shape, with a rough diameter of about 50cm or 2 inches, or whatever size you want your soul cakes to be.

Wrap in grease proof paper and chill in the fridge for a couple oh hours or until you want to bake.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced or 180 degrees C non fan forced.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Take the sausage from the fridge and cut into thick wedges. Place each wedge on the baking tray. At this stage you should cut a cross on the top of each soul cake. I have to admit I forgot to do this today! But I  have included a photo of a prototype batch with crosses. Incidentally these ones looked nicer but didn’t have the lovely rich spicy taste of the version in this post.


Bake for 15 minutes or until firm and just brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Delicious eaten warm! If not eaten on the day they will harden up a bit. The soul cakes can  be frozen too, but eat on the day if possible – All Souls’ Day!

Blueberry, Almond and Orange Cake



A couple of posts back I revisited my Blueberry Hazelnut Cake. So I really had to make another blueberry cake straight after posting that recipe as blueberries are everywhere and are so inexpensive! I picked up 3 punnets from a fruit stall in the city for $5 – such good value!

This is a riff from the original recipe, this time using ground almonds and orange. Orange slices make a great decoration for the top of the cake too. Like the original cake, I made a quick blueberry jam to spoon over the top. Better then frosting, and it really complements the blueberries inside the cake.

This is an incredibly moist cake, because of the blueberries and the Greek yoghurt. The cooking time is 45 minutes, but you may need to give it a little longer if it’s still not quite baked when you check using the skewer test.

Because it’s so moist I thought about adjusting the liquid quantities, but decided not to, as I think this cake works really well as a rich dessert, and is also a great cake for keeping. And don’t worry if it doesn’t rise that much, there is a lot of fruit in it which makes it harder to rise.

Any orange is fine for the juice and decoration – I used a blood orange as they are in season in Sydney and are so pretty!

Ingredients

125g softened butter

115g  caster sugar

1 teaspoon almond essence

2 free-range eggs

1 heaped tablespoon Greek yoghurt

100g ground almonds

100g plain flour

I teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

60ml milk

1 tablespoon orange juice

200g fresh blueberries

For the quick blueberry jam

100g blueberries

50g caster sugar

Juice of half an orange

Orange slices for decoration, if desired

Method

You can make this cake in a stand mixer, but I prefer to use a food processor. Either will work well.

I made this cake in a square cake pan with a removable base, but of course a round spring form pan is what most people will have, so that will work fine.

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced. Grease a 20cm square pan with a removable baseif you have it, or a 20cm spring form round pan, and line the base with baking paper.

Cream butter, caster sugar and almond essence extract in a food processor.  Add the free-range eggs and process until eggs are well incorporated. Pulse in the Greek yoghurt.  Sift the ground almonds, flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Stir in the sifted ingredients into the mixture with a spoon, then stir in the milk and orange juice.

Fold in the fresh blueberries. Spoon into whichever cake pan you are using.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Check the cake after 35 or 40 minutes, and if it’s browning too quickly, place a piece of baking paper or aluminium foil over the top to prevent burning.

Meanwhile, cook the blueberries for the quick jam and the caster sugar with the orange juice in a small saucepan for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved, the blueberries are slightly softened and the liquid slightly reduced. You can gently press on the blueberries with the back of spoon to help them release their juices.

Cool the cake completely in the pan before removing the sides/ring of the pan. As the cake is quite moist and therefore a bit delicate, carefully remove it from its base using an offset spatula or indeed an ordinary metal spatula.

Pile the blueberry “jam” onto the top of the cake. Serve with more fresh berries and orange slices if desired. I think this particular blueberry cake is fine on its own, as it’s so moist, but you could always dress it up with cream or ice cream if serving as a dessert.

Lemon Yoghurt Sheet Cake

 





I was debating whether this was a sheet cake or a traybake. I guess it’s the former, as it’s more a cake than a “slice”, the Australian version of a traybake, and baked as a sheet in a 13” x 9” cake pan.

Lemon and yoghurt go well together and create a moist cake, and topped with a lemon glaze makes it extra lemony!

Ingredients

Cake batter:

250g butter, softened 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

250g caster sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

3 free-range eggs

250g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

100g Greek yoghurt

Juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon milk

Lemon glaze:

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Enough icing sugar to make a thin but spreadable icing

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced.  

Line a 13” x 9” cake pan with baking paper. Beat butter, vanilla and sugar in a food processor until well creamed.

Add the lemon zest. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in the flour and baking powder, the yoghurt and the lemon juice, in 2 batches. Stir in the tablespoon of milk.

Spread mixture into the pan. Bake about 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the cake  comes out clean. 

Cool in the pan, then turn the sheet cake out onto a wire rack.

For the glaze, mix the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to make a spreadable glaze. It’s rather hard to say how much, just keep adding icing sugar a little at a time until you get the right consistency.

Spread on top of the sheet cake, no need to be too precise, this is more of a glaze than an icing and should drip down the cake.

Anzac Biscuits 2020

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Anzac Day is tomorrow – 25 April 2020. The day is always marked, though tomorrow will be quite different, with marches and services not happening in Covid 19  times. Traditionally Anzac biscuits are baked and eaten around this date.

While the biscuits were made during World War One by women’s organisations in Australia, my reading has come up with a recipe for the biscuits that predate WW1. There is a fascinating article from The Cook and the Curator, at Sydney Living Museums, which describes a recipe from the early 1900s. The link to the article is here. One thing is definite, coconut is a later addition. Which suits me fine, as I am tired of the presence of coconut shreds and shards in biscuits, cakes and muesli!

“It is universally agreed that an Anzac biscuit is oat based, contains no eggs, and is made with melted butter rather than butter creamed with sugar.”

The first-known published recipe in Australia appeared as “Anzac Biscuits or Crispies” in the Melbourne Argus in 1920. New Zealand lays an earlier claim for an “Anzac Crispie” in the St Andrew’s Cookery Book, in 1919. The titles of both recipes seem to answer the big question – should an Anzac biscuit be crispy or chewy? Crispy obviously.

I’ve made a few Anzac biscuits over the years, and I rather like this recipe. It’s from “Better Homes and Gardens” May 2015, and purports to be similar to the original recipe, the ingredients being rolled oats, sugar, plain flour, butter, golden syrup or treacle, bi-carbonate of soda and boiling water.
Golden syrup makes lighter coloured biscuits, while treacle makes the biscuits darker. Both are yummy!

Ingredients

125g unsalted butter
2 tbsp golden syrup or treacle*
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp boiling water
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
¾ cup caster sugar

*Golden syrup is more traditional in Anzac biscuits, but treacle also works well, giving the biscuits a nuttier flavour and darker colour.

Method

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Line 4 oven trays with baking paper. Combine butter and golden syrup or treacle in a small saucepan and cook over a low heat until butter is melted. Add bicarb and water and whisk to combine. Remove from heat.

Combine rolled oats, flour and sugar in a large bowl, add butter mixture and beat until combined. Form into small balls and put on prepared trays, allowing space for spreading. Flatten slightly with a fork.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until biscuits are golden. Cool the biscuits on the trays then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Easter Cookies


I posted a recipe “Hot Cross Bun Cookies”last Easter.  I’m posting again as “Easter Cookies” as they’re so easy to make and can be an alternative to hot cross buns. Not a replacement of course – Easter wouldn’t be Easter without hot cross buns! Children can make them too, keeping them busy and happy in these difficult times.

The recipe is based on one from Donna Hay, with some tweaks.

Ingredients

125g softened butter
175g brown sugar
2 free-range eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
2 teaspoons lemon zest
375 self raising flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
80ml milk
80g sultanas
160g icing sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 baking trays with baking tray.
Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor. Add the eggs and vanilla, making sure the eggs are well incorporated.
Add the lemon zest, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, milk and sultanas to the food processor and mix in. Be careful not to over mix in case you break up the sultanas.
Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes or until firm. Roll tablespoons of the mixtures into balls and place on the baking trays.
Bake between 10-15 minutes, depending on the hotness of your oven, until the cookies are pale brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking trays.
To make the icing, place the icing sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and mix to a paste. Place the icing mixture in a piping bag and pipe a cross on each cookie. You don’t have to be too precise, the flavour of the cookies is more important than a beautifully executed item! Or that’s what I think anyway.

Rose Biscuits from “Tea at Fortnum and Mason”.


I recently came across a wonderful blog the Kulinary Adventures of Kath. There are so many beautiful recipes! She has a lovely recipe for Rose Biscuits from the book “Tea at Fortnum and Mason”.  I had to get the book!

I love this great little book, so informative on the history and art of tea. I wanted to have a go at baking these gorgeous rose biscuits, and having done so, am now keen to make some of the other great recipes for sweet and savoury delights.

The biscuits are so easy. The only difficulty may be in acquiring crystallised rose petals as specified in the recipe. In Sydney, “The Essential Ingredient” stocks their own house brand of crystallised rose nibs. They also sell them online. They add a lovely fragrant flavour to the biscuits.

The recipe makes about 20 biscuits.

Ingredients

100g unsalted butter, softened + extra for greasing

50g golden caster sugar

1 tbsp rosewater

100g plain flour, sifted

50g ground almonds

15g crystallised rose petals, chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly butter a baking tray or line the tray with baking paper.

Cream the butter, sugar and rosewater in a large bowl. Add the flour, ground almonds and rose petals and mix everything together to form a dough.

Take heaped teaspoons of the mixture and roll it into balls. Flatten them slightly on the baking tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until just golden. Leave to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container. These biscuits also freeze well.

 

Bread and Butter Pudding Traybake

I love bread, in particular sourdough. I also love traybakes, or slices as we know them in the Antipodes. I make a lot of bread, so it’s inevitable that I will have some leftover sourdough slices. What to do with leftover bread? I freeze it of course, but you can end up with too much bread in the freezer.

So I got to thinking about bread and butter pudding which uses leftover bread. And then I thought of making a traybake based on bread and butter pudding. Using sourdough, I thought the bread would absorb the liquid well, and make a traybake that you could cut into pieces. I also cooked it long and slow, to ensure that the custard set firm enough to slice. The sourdough worked well, the slightly tougher bread giving texture and firmness to the slice.

You serve this, like any traybake, at room temperature. But you could also warm through and serve more like a traditional bread and butter pudding. Either way, it’s nice with custard and caramel sauce!

Ingredients
250g sourdough bread
200ml full fat milk
150ml cream
2 free-range eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
70g raw sugar
Zest of a lemon (optional)
300g dried fruit – any fruit will do. I used sultanas, raisins and sour cherries.
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
50g butter, melted
2 tablespoons flaked almonds
1 tablespoon demerara sugar

Method
Tear the bread into a large bowl and add the milk and cream. Mix with a spoon, and then scrunch through your fingers to completely break up the bread. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and sugar and lemon zest if using. Stir in the fruit and spices. Mix well, then set aside for at least 15 mins in order for the bread to soak up the liquid.

Heat oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced. Butter and line the base of a 18cm non-stick square cake tin. Stir the melted butter into the mixture, then pour into the tin. Scatter the flaked almonds over the mixture, and then top with demerara sugar.

Bake for 1 hour until set and golden. Cover with foil if the bake is browning too quickly. Cool in the tin, and when quite cold, turn out of the tin and remove the baking paper. Slice into squares. Serve at room temperature, or you could warm gently in a microwave.

They’re nice on their own or with the aforementioned custard or caramel sauce.

Hot Cross Bun Cookies

It will soon be Easter so it’s time to start the Easter baking. If you’re looking for something different from hot cross buns, these cookies are a good alternative. I wouldn’t expect anyone to give up hot cross buns of course, but adding these cookies to your repertoire is a great idea.

The recipe is based on one from Donna Hay, with my usual tweaks. There’s no “bun” in the cookies – but hey, they have all the flavour of buns so they are entitled to the name!

Ingredients

125g softened butter
175g brown sugar
2 free-range eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
2 teaspoons lemon zest
375 self raising flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
80ml milk
80g sultanas
160g icing sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 baking trays with baking tray.
Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor. Add the eggs and vanilla, making sure the eggs are well incorporated.
Add the lemon zest, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, milk and sultanas to the food processor and mix in. Be careful not to over mix in case you break up the sultanas.
Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes or until firm. Roll tablespoons of the mixtures into balls and place on the baking trays.
Bake between 10-15 minutes, depending on the hotness of your oven, until the cookies are pale brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking trays.
To make the icing, place the icing sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and mix to a paste. Place the icing mixture in a piping bag and pipe a cross on each cookie. You don’t have to be too precise, the flavour of the cookies is more important than a beautifully executed item! Or that’s what I think anyway.

Blueberry Oat Cakes

These oat cakes are a cross between cakes, biscuits and scones. They are quite dense, with ground rolled oats and blueberries.

I developed the recipe because I am currently reading “The Violet Bakery Cookbook” by the wonderful Claire Ptak. As well as being a great baker in London, she made the famous wedding cake for Harry and Meghan in 2018. She has several rather rustic scones recipes, often with wholemeal or spelt flour, often featuring fruit, in her book. She is so imaginative in her recipes and I love her presentation too!

The mixture is very crumbly and will be difficult to bring together into a dough, particularly with the frozen blueberries. But don’t worry, just pat the mixture into shape and by resting it, you can cut the rounds from the mixture.

Here’s my recipe. This makes 12 smallish oat cakes. You could double the quantities for larger, more substantial oat cakes.

Ingredients
100g rolled oats
150g plain flour
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
50g raw sugar or brown sugar
Zest of half an orange
125g cold unsalted butter cut into 1 cm chunks
150g creme fraiche
125g frozen blueberries

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Blitz the rolled oats in a food processor until finely ground. Mix all the dry ingredients plus the orange zest in a bowl or in a food processor. Cut in the cold butter by hand until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs, or you can continue to use a food processor on pulse, but be careful not to overwork the dough.

Quickly stir in the creme fraiche until just mixed in. Stir in the frozen blueberries.

Turn the mixture out onto a floured board, and pat into a square about 3 or 4cms thick. Rest for 5 minutes at least, even 10 minutes.

Using a 6cm cutter, cut out rounds and place onto the baking sheet. You will probably get 8 or 9 from the dough, then you will need to gather up the remains of the dough and pat together (don’t re-roll) before cutting out the last few rounds.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the rounds are brown on top. You could check after 20 minutes to see how they are coming along. Take out of the oven and wait until the oat cakes are cool before serving.

Serve on their own – they are sweet enough – or with homemade berry jam and Greek yoghurt.

Cherry Jam Meringue Slice

DBF6387D-B84A-4718-85A6-FA7479BB6492 5DCC3599-F2AE-43F0-A89D-FE36FC88BDE8I was flicking through my mother’s well thumbed and dearly loved hand written recipe book, looking for inspiration for a sweet treat to make. I came across her recipe for German Biscuits, a lovely biscuit, jam and meringue recipe. I have made and blogged German Biscuits before – see here for the post. Where the recipe comes from is a little unclear as my post details, but presumably it would be German in origin!

This time I made the slice, as this is what it really is, with cherry jam, instead of apricot, but really any kind of jam works fine.

Ingredients

2 tbls butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs (yolks and whites separated)
1 cup SR flour or enough to make a stiff dough
Cherry jam
Flaked almonds

Method

Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees C fan-forced. Line a square baking tin with baking paper. I used a 20cm square tin.

Cream the butter and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a food processor. Add the beaten egg yolks with a very little water. Mix in the sifted flour. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness, and place in the lined tin.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until the biscuit is cooked and golden on top. Remove from the oven. Turn the oven down to 130 degrees C.

Spread the biscuit with the cherry jam to cover. Beat the egg whites until stiff, then add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating mixture until it is of stiff meringue consistency.

Spoon the meringue over the cherry jam, creating rough peaks. Sprinkle liberally with the almonds. Bake in a slow oven  to dry the meringue for about 15 minutes. You can open the oven door after 15 minutes and check to see if the meringue is firm to the touch but still has a marshmallow consistency. Cook for a little longer if necessary.

Remove from the oven and when cool, remove the slice by lifting the baking paper out of the tin. Cut into squares to serve. 709FC6C5-2BDF-4BCC-8B5C-3D024CA45F50.jpeg

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