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Category Archives: Dessert

Pear and Sour Cherry Loaf

What to do with a couple of over ripe pears? Put them in a loaf of course and add sour cherries for a tangy flavour. And almond extract goes really well with both these ingredients!

A couple of things to say about this loaf. First, it’s an all-in-one loaf, and made in the food processor too. So it’s super simple. Believe me, the all-in-one method produces great results!

Secondly, I have been very interested in the Queen of Baking Mary Berry’s advocacy of baking spread, rather than butter, in cakes. I’ve used baking spread in Mary’s Victoria Sponge recipe and it produced a lovely textured sponge. So I have used baking spread in this recipe. But by all means, use butter if you prefer, but make sure it’s super soft.

Ingredients

125g caster sugar

125g baking spread (I use Nuttelex here in Australia)

2 free range eggs at room temperature

125g self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 very ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks

100g sour cherries

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Butter a 21cm x 10cm loaf tin, or similar size.

Put everything except the cherries into the bowl of a food processor. Whizz until everything is combined. Don’t overdo it or the mixture will be tough.

Stir in the sour cherries.

Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean.

Cool completely in the tin before turning out as the loaf is quite fragile while warm.

Serve sprinkled with a little caster sugar. A dollop of cream or yoghurt would be nice – I had some passionfruit curd on hand so I smothered the loaf with a few spoonfuls!

Apple Tart Easy as Pie

Here’s a recipe for a really easy apple tart. True, you do make the sweet shortcrust base. But if you’re pushed for a time just use a good store bought version – here in Australia Careme brand is excellent!

If you do make your own, my recipe is based on the wonderful Michael James’ recipe from “The Tivoli Road Baker”. There’s not much about pastry that Michael doesn’t know.

Apart from the pastry the only work is chopping up apples, so you can put this recipe together in no time at all.

Ingredients

Sweet Pastry

100g unsalted butter, diced and softened

100g caster sugar

1 free-range egg

250g plain flour

1/4 tsp salt

Filling

2 large apples

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons caster sugar

Demerara sugar for sprinkling

Method

To make the pastry, in an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together really well. Add the egg then add the flour and salt in two additions. Mix just until the pastry comes together.

Put the pastry onto a floured board and gently knead until it just comes together. It will still be quite soft and even a bit sticky.

Wrap in cling wrap and rest in the fridge for an hour.

Meanwhile prepare your filling by chopping the apples into thin slices. Put them into a bowl and cover with the lemon juice.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Butter a 23cm 9 inch fluted loose based tart tin.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and place on the floured board. Roll the pastry to a circle that’s bigger than the tin so the pastry will hang over the sides. Gently press the pastry into the base and sides.

Mix the caster sugar through the apple slices. Place the apple slices in circles around the pastry, doubling up the layers to use all the apple.

Turn the oven down to 180 degrees C. Place the tart in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the apples are soft and the pastry is golden brown.

Remove from the oven, and if desired, sprinkle with Demerara sugar for extra sweetness.

Serve with cream, sour cream or ice cream or just eat on its own. Simple and delicious.

Meringue Kisses

I whipped up a batch of meringues yesterday to serve at an Easter brunch. Very easy, and the recipe doesn’t require too many ingredients.

Serve the meringues on their own or sandwich together with whipped cream and serve with fresh raspberries.

Ingredients

2 free range egg whites at room temperature

A pinch of salt

115g caster sugar

Red food colouring

Whipped cream to fill, raspberries and icing sugar to serve.

Method

Preheat oven to 120 degrees C.

Whisk the egg whites and salt on low speed until frothy and they form peaks which hold their shape.

On medium speed, add the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Once all the sugar has been added, continue beating until the meringue is stiff and glossy, about 3 minutes.

For plain meringues, spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle, whatever size you want your meringues to be. Or just pipe straight from the bag!

For pink striped meringues, fit a nozzle, if using, into a piping bag, then paint vertical stripes of food colour with a pastry brush.

Fill the piping bag with the meringue mixture.

For plain or pink meringues, pipe meringues onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper.

Place tray into the oven and bake for 1 hour, then turn oven off and leave to cool for several hours.

Lovely on their own, or sandwich together with whipped cream and serve with raspberries and a dusting of icing sugar.

Easter Egg Rocky Road

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Easter is upon us! Already thinking that you might end up with too many Easter eggs? Well here is a lovely idea to use up that excess chocolate.

Rocky Road is always great if you want to throw a few delicious ingredients into some melted chocolate – nuts, marshmallows, glacé fruit all work well.

Easter Egg Rocky Road is a perfect recipe to include mini Easter eggs, and as well you could smash up some bigger eggs too!

Easter Rocky Road is simple – you can add pretty much what you feel like at the time.

Here’s what I did.

Easter Egg Rocky Road

Melt a 200g block of dark chocolate and a 200g block + half a block of white chocolate. Pour into a tin lined with foil, dark on one side and white on the other. Leave a little of each chocolate for splattering.

Using a skewer, run some pink food colouring through the white chocolate.

Place as many as you like of the following in the melted chocolate – pink and white marshmallows, Smarties or M and Ms, mini Easter eggs.

I scattered some freeze-dried raspberry powder over the Rocky Road too.

Splatter or drizzle the left-over dark chocolate on the white side and the white chocolate on the dark side.

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Fig and Almond Tart

It’s mid March and the last of the figs are still available in the markets. This is a tart I made in another summer, when figs were plentiful, so I thought I would share the recipe again to maximise the last of the fig bounty.

The figs are baked on an almond frangipane base in shortcrust pastry. Figs and frangipane go well together, the lovely almond cream complementing the juicy sweetness of the figs.

The shortcrust pastry is based on Maggie Beer’s sour cream pastry but any good shortcrust would do.

Ingredients

For the shortcrust pastry base:

200gm chilled unsalted butter

250gm plain flour

1 tsp caster sugar

135gm sour cream

For the Frangipane:

100gm butter

100gm caster sugar

100gm ground almonds

1 free-range egg

10 fresh figs, quartered

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, (180 degrees C non fan forced).

Butter a 23cm (9 inch) fluted flan tin with a removable bottom.

To make the pastry, pulse butter, flour and caster sugar in a food processor until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream and continue to pulse until the dough starts to incorporate into a ball. Using your hands, shape pastry into a ball. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
 Roll the pastry out and place into the buttered flan tin.

To make the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar in a food processor or you can use an electric mixer. Add the ground almonds and egg and mix well.

Spoon the frangipane over the tart base. You may not need all the mixture – the idea is to have a base on which to sit the figs. Arrange the fig quarters in a circular pattern over the frangipane. You needn’t be too precise. The figs should be sitting on top of the frangipane. If they sink in, you probably have too much frangipane and may need to take some out.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the frangipane is set and the pastry looks cooked round the edges. Don’t overcook so that the pastry edge burns.

Remove from the oven, and after 10 minutes, when the tart has cooled slightly, carefully remove the outer ring of the flan tin.

Serve at room temperature on its own, or with cream or yoghurt.

Passionfruit Butter Cake

This would have to be one of the easiest cakes to make and it looks pretty nice too!

It’s an all in one cake. I’m a huge fan of these kinds of cakes as Mary Berry the “Queen of Cakes” advocates this method.

So this is a simple butter cake, given a bit of zing by adding passionfruit to the batter and in the icing. But you could just as easily substitute lemon or orange as the flavouring or chocolate or coffee.

I made the cake in a bundt tin, but an ordinary cake tin is fine. A bundt tin makes a cake look special, a tip given to me by another good cook, my sister!

Ingredients

200g softened butter

200g caster sugar

200g plain flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 free range eggs

3 tablespoons milk

Juice of half an orange

4 passionfruit

100g icing sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced, 180 degrees C non fan forced. Butter a large bundt tin or a 22cm cake tin. If using a bundt tin make sure you really butter it well to ensure the cake comes out successfully.

Place the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk, orange juice and the juice and seeds of two of the passionfruit in the bowl of a food processor.

Whizz until all the ingredients are well blended.

Spoon the mixture into whatever tin you are using. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes for the bundt tin or 30-35 minutes for the regular tin. The bundt tin takes a bit longer as it’s deeper.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 15 minutes before turning out.

For the icing, mix the icing sugar with the juice and seeds of the remaining two passionfruit. Depending on how juicy the passionfruit are, you may need to add more icing sugar.

If you think the icing needs more liquid, add another tablespoon of passionfruit juice or lemon juice. You want the icing to be able to drip down the sides of the cake.

Specialise in liberally over the top of the cake.

I think the cake is lovely just served on its own for morning or afternoon tea. But by all means serve with cream or Greek yoghurt if you think it needs it!

Coffee Walnut Rustic Cake

Coffee and walnuts, a match made in heaven. This is a simple but very delicious cake, great for the afternoon tea table. There’s not much to do to decorate the cake apart from icing it, so I’m calling it a “rustic” cake. You could go fancy if you wanted to!

You mix most of the ingredients at the same time, so it’s a kind of one bowl cake. You just add the coffee dissolved in milk and walnuts at the end.

Bake the cake in two layers, fill and ice with buttercream. You could easily make this as cupcakes as well!

Ingredients

Cake 

50g ground almonds

125g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 teaspoons instant coffee powder

2 tablespoons milk

50g chopped walnuts + a few extra for decorating

Buttercream Icing

125g butter, softened

250g icing sugar, sifted

2 teaspoons instant coffee

1 tablespoon milk

Method

The Cakes

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Grease two 18cm (7″) cake tins.

Put all the ingredients except the milk, coffee and walnuts into an electric mixer and mix until smooth and well incorporated. Dissolve the instant coffee into the milk, and add together with the chopped walnuts into the mixture.

Divide the batter equally between the two tins.  Place the tins in the oven and bake for 25- 30 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and golden on top, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven, leave in the tins for 5 minutes before carefully turning out of the tins to cool on a wire rack.

Buttercream Icing

In a food processor, cream together the butter and icing sugar until light an fluffy. Dissolve the instant coffee into the milk. Add this mixture to the icing, process until light and creamy.

To assemble

When cakes are completely cool, spread half of the buttercream icing on the bottom layer, and top with the second layer.

Roughly ice the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the buttercream using a palette knife. When you get to the sides, occasionally dip the palette knife into cold water as you ice to remove some of the thicker icing and to create the “naked icing” effect. The idea is that the top of the cake is well iced and that the side sides are stripped back for a more rustic look.

Quick Make Coffee Walnut Cake!

Peach, Plum and Raspberry Hazelnut Cake

Although we’ve had a tough summer in Sydney with so much rain, stone fruit is just starting to come into its own. Not the best stone fruit that we’ve ever had, but in late January it’s lovely to have some beautiful peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots. And of course berries are beautiful and plentiful and cheap at the moment!

I’ve been playing around with recipes involving stone fruit and ground almonds and hazelnuts. I’ve made a few upside down cakes which I’ve been very pleased with. This one is an “upright” cake with the fruit placed in the cake batter, some of it just showing through.

As usual, this is a food processor cake so it’s pretty quick and easy! You can serve it plain or drizzle some icing over the top, although it doesn’t really need it. It’s great served with cream, Greek yoghurt or vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients

150g hazelnuts

150g butter

150g sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

3 free range eggs

50g plain flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

8 peaches and blood plums cut into quarters or eighths slices

A handful of raspberries (about 10-12)

Drizzle icing

1 tablespoon of lemon juice or rosewater

Icing sugar

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced, 180 degrees C non fan forced. Grease a 23cm springform tin.

Put the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan and toast over a medium heat until just brown. Blitz half in a food processor until fine crumbs. Blitz the other half so that they are still quite chunky. Remove from the food processor. There’s no need to wash it – just use again for the cake batter.

Beat butter and sugar in the food processor until pale and well creamed. Add vanilla paste.

Add the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of the flour at the same time with each egg. Mix in the food processor until each egg is incorporated. Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients by pulsing carefully. Some of the nuts will still be quite chunky which will give texture to your cake.

Spread the cake batter in the tin, smoothing the top with a spatula.

Arrange the peach and plum pieces in a circular pattern in the batter, pushing the pieces right into the mixture. Place the whole raspberries in between the stone fruit, just on top of the cake.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. If the cake is browning too quickly, cover the top with foil to prevent burning.  When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Carefully remove from the base of the springform tin, removing the baking paper.

You can serve as is, or with a dusting of icing sugar, or a lemon or rosewater drizzle icing.

To make a drizzle icing, mix a tablespoon of lemon juice or a tablespoon of rosewater with enough icing sugar to make a drippable drizzle! Drizzle over the cake using a fork.

Serve on its own or with cream or ice cream.

White Nectarine, Ginger and Hazelnut Upside Down Cake

I love this cake as it’s so easy to make. It’s yet another cake based on stone fruit and a kind of frangipane mix, this time using ground hazelnuts.

You can make it with apricots, peaches and plums. And as it’s an upside down cake you get to see the lovely fruit on top of the cake!

Oh, and it’s all done in the food processor. Labour non intensive!

Ingredients

150g butter

150g sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

3 free range eggs

100g plain flour

100g hazelnut meal

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

4 white nectarines, cut into thin slices

1 tablespoon of stem ginger pieces, sliced thinly (5-6 pieces)

3 teaspoons demerara sugar

Method


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, 180 degrees C non fan forced. Grease a 22 cm springform tin.

Beat butter and sugar in a food processor until pale and well creamed. Add vanilla paste.

Add the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of the flour, hazelnut meal, baking powder and ground ginger mix at the same time with each egg. Mix in the food processor until each egg is incorporated. Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients by pulsing carefully.

Arrange the nectarine slices in the springform tin in a circular pattern, slightly overlapping. Place the ginger slices in between the nectarine slices. Spread over the cake batter, smoothing the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the mixture with the demerara sugar.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. If the cake is browning too quickly, cover the top with foil to prevent burning.  When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Carefully invert the cake onto a plate to serve.

Yoghurt Rosewater Cake

This is my absolute go-to cake when I’m looking for something special and really easy!

I’ve posted versions of it twice before – but I was so pleased with this latest incarnation that I just had to write about it again.

I’ve simplified the cake through many bakes, and this latest version doesn’t t even need icing!

Give it a go if you’re looking for a cake that is fragrant, moist, with a delicate crumb, cuts well, keeps well and eats spectacularly!

Ingredients
250ml canola or vegetable oil
330g caster sugar
2 free-range eggs
280g Greek yoghurt
300g self-raising flour, sifted
2 tablespoons rosewater

To serve – icing sugar and fresh or dried rose petals, whipped cream and Greek yoghurt

Method
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Grease and flour a large Bundt mould or a 22cm cake tin.

Place the oil, caster sugar and eggs in the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined. Pulse in the yoghurt, followed by the flour. Stir in the rosewater.

Pour the mixture into the bundt mould or the regular cake tin.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Just make sure you keep checking with a skewer for “doneness” after 30 minutes. 

Remove from the oven, and cool for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To serve, sieve over some icing sugar, about a couple of tablespoons, and fill the centre with a few tablespoons of whipped cream and Greek yoghurt – or all cream, or all yoghurt. Your choice!

You can ice this cake, as I have done in previous versions, but it’s so elegant and pretty baked in a Bundt mould, it doesn’t really need it!

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