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Category Archives: Dessert

Passionfruit Mini Cakes

These little cakes are full of passionfruit in the cake mix and in the icing. I love the fragrance and flavour of passionfruit. I will buy them up while cheap and freeze the pulp – great when I want to make a passionfruit sponge or these little cakes!

Cooking with buttermilk gives a great flavour to cakes so that’s what I used here. You can make cheat’s buttermilk if you haven’t any on hand by simply adding lemon juice or vinegar to milk, or even lime juice. You now have a pretty good substitute!

Here is the recipe for these passionfruit mini cakes. You can make them in fancy molds as I did or make them in an ordinary muffin tin.

Ingredients

Cakes

200g self-raising flour

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

125mls buttermilk 0r cheat’s buttermilk ( I added the juice of half a lime to regular milk)

Pulp from 4 passionfruit

Passionfruit Icing

250g icing sugar, sifted

Pulp from 2 passionfruit + 1 passionfruit for the optional fondant icing

1 tbs passionfruit fondant creme (optional)

Method

Cakes

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced or 170 degrees non fan forced.

You can make this little cakes in any fancy molds you have on hand. The cakes pictured were baked in my Silverwood three tier muffin molds. I buttered and floured these molds. You can use any standard 12 cup muffin tin. Line the muffin tin with cupcake cases.

Put all the ingredients except the pasionfruit pulp in a food processor and blitz till smooth.  Stir the passionfruit pulp into the batter.

Spoon the mixture into the molds or paper cases. If you’re using fancy molds like mine you will get 6 sizeable cakes. Using a regular muffin tin,  you will get 8-12 cakes, depending on how big you want them.

Place the tin in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and golden on top. Check after 15 minutes, by seeing if a skewer inserted comes out clean. They may need a couple of minutes longer.

Cool the cakes in their molds or muffin tin for 5 minutes, then carefully remove from the molds or muffin tin and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Ice with a generous amount of passionfruit icing, letting it drip down the sides of the cakes.

Passionfruit Icing

In a bowl, mix together the icing sugar and passionfruit pulp and beat well. If the icing is too soft, or runny, then add more icing sugar to get the desired consistency.

Optional –  I mixed a tablespoon of passionfruit fondant creme (warmed gently in the microwave for a minute or two) with the pulp of 1 passionfruit. This made a very yellow icing which I drizzled on top of of the other icing. More for effect than anything else!

Orange Friands

Spring in Sydney means an abundance of oranges. Of course I love blood oranges, and use them whenever possible. But the humble navel orange is juicy, sweet and seedless. The wonderful Orange Grove Market sells local oranges that are just divine and I am buying them in abundance!

So I made my usual recipe for friands, some with blood oranges and some featuring navels. These little cakes are made with eggs whites only and ground almonds and are very similar to the French financier.

I made 2 batches, using a blood orange in one batch and a navel orange in the other.

Ingredients

6 egg whites, beaten lightly

75g plain flour

240g icing sugar, sifted

125g almond meal

150g melted butter, cooled

Grated zest and juice of an orange

150g icing sugar or enough to make a thick glaze.

6 orange slices, to candy

50g caster sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced. Lightly grease 12 friand molds.

Beat the egg whites until frothy with fork in a large mixing bowl.

Sift the flour and icing sugar into the bowl, stir in almond meal and then add the melted butter. Stir in the zest of the orange, and the juice of one half of the orange.

Spoon the mixture (approximately ¼ cup) into each of the molds.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes until cooked through and golden brown or until a skewer is inserted into centre comes out clean. Sometimes the friands need a few more minutes in the oven to be nice and brown.

To make the glaze, mix the juice of the other half of the orange with the icing sugar. You may need to add more or less juice or more or less icing sugar to get the glaze to the right consistency to ice the friands. Ice the friands with just enough glaze to coat the tops and perhaps to run down the sides a little.

To candy the orange slices, put them into a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes until slightly soft. Drain, and place the slices on a plate and coat well with the sugar. The slices will be sweet and slightly sticky.

Put the slices on top of the iced friands for serving.

Jammy Orange Cake

I love orange and lemon cakes! Which will be no surprise to readers of this blog, as I have posted a few. Recently I posted Claudia Roden’s famous orange almond cake, made by cooking whole oranges.

This cake also includes a whole orange, this time used without cooking. It also has marmalade in the cake batter as well as in the glaze, giving the cake a lovely “jammy” flavour, hence the name!

It’s also super easy and quick! It’s made entirely in the food processor. Saves on washing up too!

The resulting cake tastes great and looks pretty enough to grace any afternoon tea table.

Ingredients

Cake

180g butter

1 large orange

180g caster sugar

3 free range eggs,  at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

200g self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon good quality marmalade

Orange Glaze

150g icing sugar

Juice of half an orange

1 tablespoon marmalade (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

Grease a 20cm or (bigger) springform pan. If you use a bigger pan, your cake will be wider and not as high.

Line the base of the pan with baking paper.

Melt the butter in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop.

Cut off the stem section of the orange. Chop the orange into large chunks, including the skin.

Put the chunks into a food processor and blitz until pureed, about a minute.

Add the melted butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla to the processor and process till combined. Add the SR flour, baking powder, salt and marmalade and blitz until just combined.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven, and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the pan ring to loosen the cake from the pan.

After another 10 minutes remove the ring and take the cake off the base, placing it onto a serving plate.

To make the glaze, add enough icing sugar to the orange juice to make a drippable icing. Stir through the marmalade if using.

With a palette knife or spoon, spread the glaze over the cake, letting it drip down the sides.

Serve as is or decorate with whatever you fancy – I love fresh flowers, or glacé or dried orange!

Fruit In Booze

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Fruit and booze – what a great combination! This is a great way to preserve summer fruits.

I blogged this first as Hoarder’s Jam, a curious title as it’s clearly not a jam and why would anyone hoard fruit?

It’s less of a recipe, more some simple instructions on how to combine fruit, sugar, spices and alcohol.

Lovely summer fruit like plums, peaches and apricots can be preserved, and the bonus is the fruity preserving alcohol is a great tipple or the basis of a champagne cocktail.

Ingredients 

Any mixture of stone fruit to make up 6 pieces:

Plums, apricots, peaches

250 g caster sugar

1 long piece of orange rind

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

330 ml alcohol: brandy, rum or gin

Method

Cut the plums  and apricots in halves, the peaches in quarters. Place the fruit and the sugar in china or glass bowl and leave for 1 hour.

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Transfer the fruit and sugar mixture to 1 litre glass jar with a strong lid. Place the orange rind and vanilla bean in the jar. Pour the alcohol into the jar. The fruit should be covered; top up with a little more alcohol to make sure all the fruit is covered. If the fruit won’t stay submerged, fill a small ziplock bag with a little water, seal and place on top of the liquid to keep the fruit under the liquid.

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Make sure you note the date of preserving on the jar. Keep in a dark cool pace for a minimum of 2 weeks or up to 3 months.

You can turn the jar occasionally, or VERY gently shake the jar. This is to help the sugar dissolve. After 1 week, the colour of the liquid begins to deepen, and a lot of the sugar is dissolved, with a residue still sitting on the bottom of the jar.

After 2 weeks the liquid in the jar has turned a deep ruby colour and all the sugar is dissolved.

Refrigerate after opening, although I’m inclined to believe the fruit is well and truly pickled and should survive quite well for a few days in the cupboard.

Claudia Roden’s Orange and Almond Cake

This is such a well known cake – I guess every cafe in Sydney makes a version and every other home baker makes it too.

Claudia Rosen wrote about it in “A Book of Middle Eastern Food”, first published in 1968. My family have been making it for almost as long, way before it became a cafe staple.

So I thought I’d post the recipe, with Claudia’s pared down instructions as well as my tips. Here’s a little bit of background from Claudia about the cake:

This is a Sephardic Jewish cake, brought to the Middle East by the Sephardic Jews when they migrated from Spain and Portugal in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It’s a cake that is served at Passover, as it’s made with ground almonds instead of flour.

This is a food processor cake, as I mix the whole thing in the food processor. Very easy and it saves on washing up!

Recently I had an online baking session where I made the cake with a friend, with some great results! I’ve included some photos of both of our cakes.

Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

Cake

2 large oranges

6 free-range eggs

250g caster sugar

250g ground almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

Glaze

200g icing sugar

Juice of half of an additional orange

Method

Put the 2 whole oranges into a saucepan large enough to hold the oranges. Cover completely with cold water. Bring to the boil, then cook the oranges for 1 1/2 hours or longer until soft.

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees fan forced. Grease a 21cm or 22cm spring form pan. Line the base of the tin with baking paper.

When the oranges are cool, remove from the water. Cut in half and remove any pips. Put into a food processor and blitz to a rough purée. It’s ok if there are a few small lumps in the purée, you just don’t want any big lumps.

Beat the eggs with a fork to break them up. Add the beaten eggs to the food processor, with the sugar. Pulse until the eggs and sugar are really well combined. Add the ground almonds and baking powder and pulse to combine.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Place the pan into the pre-heated oven and bake for 1 – 1/4 hours or until the cake is golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. This cake is very moist, so it will take at least 1 hour or longer to bake.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool. After 10 minutes carefully run a palette knife round the edge of the pan to loosen the sides of the cake. When the cake is completely cool, remove from the pan and place on a serving plate.

To make the glaze, mix the icing sugar with enough of the orange juice to make an icing of dripping consistency. Using a palette knife, spread the glaze over the top of the cake. You could decorate with fresh flowers or herbs if you like.

Serve on its own, in large slices, for morning or afternoon tea or as a dessert. Lovely with whipped cream or Greek yoghurt.

Ultimate Victoria Sponge

Victoria sponge is the centrepiece of a traditional tea table. It’s one of my favourite cakes and I’ve been making the recipe on repeat over this winter in Sydney, trying to get exactly the right consistency. It’s a labour of love!

I’ve blogged another version before, see here. That is a great recipe, but I’ve since refined my technique if not the ingredients, to make my current version.

The secret to this recipe is making a sabayon with the eggs and sugar, as you would with a Genoise sponge, before adding the other ingredients. This isn’t a Genoise, but the technique works well. The other secret is cooking the cake at 160 degrees C, a relatively low temperature.

And you need to fill the cake with both strawberry jam and strawberries! As well as lashings of cream of course!

Here’s the recipe. These quantities will make 3x20cm layers or 2x23cm layers. I’ve included the quantities for a smaller cake at the end of the recipe.

Ingredients

Sponge cakes

4 free-range eggs at room temperature

200g caster sugar

200g butter

11/2 tablespoons tepid milk

200g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Filling

200g strawberry jam (homemade is good)

300g fresh strawberries

250ml whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons icing sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. Grease the baking tins, whether you are using 3 tins or 2. Line the bottom of the tins with baking paper.

In an electric mixer using the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and sugar for 5-8 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is tripled in volume.

Meanwhile carefully melt the butter in the microwave.

With the motor running, pour the melted butter into the mixture. Add the tepid milk. Turn the mixer off and fold the flour and baking powder into the mixture using a metal spoon, being careful not to lose too much volume.

Pour the batter into the prepared tins, smoothing the tops if necessary.

Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake cones out clean.

Remove from the oven and cook in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack. Be careful with step – these sponges can be quite fragile!

While the cakes are cooling, whip the cream and the vanilla to soft peaks.

Once the cakes are quite cold, you can assemble them with the filling. Place one cake on serving plate. Spread half the strawberry jam over the layer. Spread half whipped cream on top of the jam. Top with 1/3 halved strawberries (quartered if they’re big).

Place another layer on top and repeat fillings.

(If you’re only making 2 layers, then adjust the quantities of jam, cream and berries.)

Place the top layer on the cake. Dust with icing sugar and place some whole strawberries on top of the cake.

This cake is best cut and eaten a couple of hours after being made. That way the flavours have developed and soaked into the sponge. And while it’s best to eat the cake on the day, it’s still pretty delicious the next day, that is if there’s any left!

Small Cake Ingredients

Cake

2 free-range eggs at room temperature

125g caster sugar

125g butter

1 tablespoon tepid milk

125g self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Filling

100g strawberry jam (homemade is good)

150g strawberries

125mls whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons icing sugar

This cake can be baked in 2x20cm tins for 20 minutes.

Chocolate Lovers’ Chocolate Cake

I don’t often make chocolate cake, and I’m not really sure why. Because really, a chocolate cake is a wonderful thing – a rich, moist, chocolatey cake that can go from morning tea through lunch and on to afternoon tea, and end up as a dessert at dinner time!

A former work colleague gave me this recipe a while back – thank you Pauline – and I’ve been waiting for a suitable time to make it.

Well that time came today. A friend was having a birthday and I wanted to bake a cake for her. We’re in lockdown in Sydney, and sometimes we need a bit of cheering up. So I made this cake for Margaret.

And just to see what the cake was like, I made a little sample cake just for me!

It’s so easy! Another one bowl, all in one mix. The cake is rich, dark and moist. Smother the cake with lots of beautiful chocolate buttercream, and voila! A lovely looking and tasting cake!

Ingredients

Cake

200g self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

65g cocoa

3 free-range eggs

250g sugar

125g very soft butter

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

250 ml milk

Chocolate Buttercream

100g very soft butter

200g icing sugar

25g cocoa

1 tablespoon boiling water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Butter a 20cm 9 inch round cake tin or a 20cm 9 inch square tin. Line the base of the tin with baking paper.

Put all the cake ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer. On low speed, beat all the ingredients until combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, smoothing the mixture into the tin.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes. To check for doneness, insert a skewer into the cake and if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.

Cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the chocolate buttercream, cream the soft butter, icing sugar, cocoa and boiling water until the buttercream is soft and easy to spread on the cake. You can do this by hand or you can use an electric mixer.

Once cool, generously spread the chocolate buttercream over the top and sides of the cake.

You can decorate with anything you like – I used silver almonds, rose petal sweets and fresh flowers.

Serve on its own or with a dollop of cream as a dessert!

Lemon Drizzle Loaf

I know that most people have made a version of a lemon drizzle, but just because it is such a great and easy cake to make, I thought I would write up my version for anyone looking for a simple recipe.

It’s a great lockdown cake! And really easy as it’s an “all in one cake” – you just mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

This week I had a Zoom cookalong during lockdown with a friend, and we made this cake, with great success. I have included photos in the post of both our lovely loafs.

While you can bake this in a round cake tin, we baked it into a loaf tin, which cuts into beautiful thick slices! If you haven’t got a loaf tin, bake it in a round cake tin, 18 cm or 20cm.

Tip: it’s important to have the butter really soft and the eggs at room temperature.

Ingredients

Cake

175g self-raising flour

175g caster sugar

175g very soft butter

3 large free-range eggs, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of a lemon

3 tablespoons milk

Lemon Syrup

100g caster sugar

Juice of a lemon

Lemon Icing

Juice of 1/4 lemon

Enough icing sugar to make a dripping icing (about a cup)

Method

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

Grease a 21 cm loaf tin with butter. Line the base with baking paper.

To make the cake, place all the cake ingredients (minus the milk) into a large bowl. Using electric beaters, mix the ingredients to a smooth batter with no lumps.

Add the milk to loosen the batter.

Transfer the mixture to the loaf pan. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until the cake is brown on top and a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes our clean. Remove from the oven.

While the cake is baking, make the lemon syrup. Heat the sugar and lemon juice until the sugar is dissolved in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes until slightly thickened.

Once the cake is out of the oven, prick all over with a skewer. Pour the warm syrup all over the cake. The cake is still in the pan.

Once cool, turn the cake onto a board or plate. Turn right way up.

Serve as is or with an optional simple lemon icing.

To make icing, put the lemon juice in a small bowl and then add enough icing sugar to make a dripping icing. Using a palette knife, drip a thin layer of lemon icing over the cake.

Lockdown Weekend Waffles

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If you’re in need of making something indulgent this weekend – waffles may be the answer! And particularly if you’re in a part of Australia that’s in lockdown, I hope this might cheer you up.

I found a good recipe by the inimitable Martha Stewart for buttermilk waffles. Very easy and very quick. However, I must fess up and explain that the first waffles were rather flat and a bit disappointing. So I added spoonful or so of extra flour and anothter 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder to the remaining mixture. This did the trick and the the rest of the waffles were thick and fluffy! However, I hope that if you followed the inimitable Martha’s recipe as is, it will work out fine for you.

I included my recipe troubleshooting as I always like to be as accurate as possible as I describe my cooking experiences.

Martha’s original recipe is here.

I served the waffles with some cookie crumbs – I crushed up a couple of cookies I had left over. Add a good drizzle of golden syrup, some whipped cream and a few raspberries and strawberries and you’re in the waffle breakfast business!

Ingredients

2 cups plain (all-purpose flour)

2 tablespoons sugar 

2 teaspoons baking powder 

1 teaspoon bi-carbonate soda (baking soda)

1/2 teaspoon salt 

2 cups buttermilk 

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 free-range eggs

Method

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, bi-carbonate of soda and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, and eggs, then add the flour mixture, and mix until batter is just combined.

Heat the waffle maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and brush with a little oil. Pour batter onto the grid, spread batter if necessary, but make sure you don’t overfill the grid. Close the waffle maker and cook until the waffles are golden brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.

The waffles will be cooked but maybe a little soft. At least mine were. Put them in the preheated oven for a couple of minutes to crisp up and also to keep them warm.

Make the rest of the waffles in the same way. Serve with golden or maple syrup, whipped cream or yoghurt and fresh fruit – berries are great! And cookie crumbs for some extra luxe!

Strawberry and Lemon Pudding

This is so easy! A strawberry and lemon pudding, a lovely hot “saucy” pudding for a cold night. It’s another version of my Peach Pudding I posted last year.

And you can make the pudding with lots of different fruit – apples and pears, with blueberries or raspberries.

Just a note – you don’t need to use lemon juice. Any fruit juice will do for the liquid.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

125g strawberries
100g self raising flour
50g butter cut into small pieces
100g caster sugar
200-250ml* lemon juice, 3-4 lemon slices

* The lemon juice quantity doesn’t have to be too accurate – more juice and the pudding might take a bit longer to cook.

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Cut the strawberries in halves. Lay them into a cast iron pan or baking dish.

Tip the self raising flour, butter pieces and caster sugar into a bowl and rub together into a breadcrumb consistency, a bit like making pastry.

Add the lemon juice and roughly mix together.

The mixture should look curdled, but that’s fine as you’re not looking for a cake mixture consistency. Pour the mixture over the strawberries.

If using, place a few thin lemon slices on top. Put into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the pudding is brown on top.

Serve with thick cream or ice cream.

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