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Category Archives: Dessert

Lemon and Ricotta Cake

I recently had a great ricotta cake at the Carriageworks Farmers Market – a fantastic fresh produce market in Eveleigh, in Sydney. The cake had a great texture and was quite delicious.

So  I decided to make a ricotta cake with a lemon theme – lemon zest and juice in the cake, and also lemon thyme, my all time favourite herb!

The cake was beautifully moist, the ricotta really helping out here. Adding lashings of buttercream icing and the result was complete lemon lusciousness!

Ingredients

Cake

150g butter

200g caster sugar

3 free range eggs

200g self raising flour

1 tsp baking flour

200g ricotta

Juice of half a lemon

Zest of a whole lemon

A few sprigs of lemon thyme + extra to decorate

Icing

100g softened butter

200g icing sugar

Juice of a lemon

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees fan forced. Grease a 20cm springform tin (or 22cm tin for a slightly flatter cake), and line the bottom with baking paper. Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until well mixed and light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure to mix until the eggs are well incorporated.

Fold in the self raising flour and baking powder. Fold in the ricotta until incorporated, but being careful to not mix with too a heavy hand. Mix in the lemon juice and zest and the leaves from a few sprigs of thyme.

Spoon into the prepared tin, and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before removing the outer ring of the tin and carefully sliding off the base.

For the icing, cream the butter and icing sugar with enough of the lemon juice to make a lovely lemony  frosting.

Liberslly ice the cake with a thick layer of butter cream. Scatter some thyme sprigs on top for decoration. I added some candied lemon slices, but in hindsight the cake doesn’t really need them!

 

 

 


 

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Praline and Nutella Ice Cream

This is the easiest ice cream as it’s no churn, ie you don’t have to use an ice cream maker. The basic ice cream mix is from a recipe from the wonderful Annabel Langbein, See here for the link to a recipe for the simple Ice Cream Base.

I have made this ice cream many times with lots of variations. I blogged My Passionfruit Ice Cream Slice a while back.

So here is the recipe for ice cream with lots of nuts, toffee, peanut butter and Nutella! Great on it’s own but even nicer in a waffle cone!

Ingredients 

Praline

3 tbls caster sugar
75g nuts – macadamias, hazelnuts, almonds work well

Ice Cream Base

3 eggs
10 tbsp caster sugar, divided in half
2 tbsp boiling water
2 cups cream, chilled

2 tbls peanut butter
1 tbls Nutella

Method

For the praline, spread the nuts onto a piece of baking paper on baking tray. Put the caster sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy based frying pan. Carefully melt the sugar over a medium heat, being careful not to stir the sugar or it will crystalize. Once the sugar has melted and turned a tea colour, carefully pour the hot toffee over the nuts and allow to set.

Once set, break the praline into two. Bash one half into smaller pieces. Grind the other half to a fine powder.

For the ice cream, line two small  loaf tins with cling wrap, making sure the clingwrap overhangs the tins for easy removal of the ice cream. You could also use 6 large silicone muffin mounds. You could line them too, but the ice creams should just slip out if you run a hot knife round the edges.

To make the Ice Cream Base, separate the eggs. Place the egg whites in your largest bowl and the egg yolks in a smaller bowl, ensuring no yolk gets mixed in with the whites. Add 5 tbsp of the caster sugar to the egg whites and beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks (about 6-7 minutes). Set aside.

Add the remaining 5 tbsp of caster sugar and the boiling water to the bowl containing the three egg yolks. Beat until pale, thick and ribbony. You will know it is ready when it holds a figure of eight.

In a third bowl, beat the cream to soft peaks. Gently fold the egg yolks and cream into the beaten egg whites using a large flat spoon. This is your Ice Cream Base.

Fold in the praline pieces and the praline powder, and the peanut butter. Spoon the ice cream into the loaf tins or mounds. You can stir through the Nutella at this point, or as I did, ripple in the Nutella after the ice cream has been in the freezer for 30 minutes. This creates a more defined swirl.

Place in the freezer for several hours. If freezing for longer than that, cover to prevent freezer burn or flavour taint.

To serve, remove from the fridge and scoop into waffle cones, or lift out of the tin and cut into slices.

Drizzle with more Nutella, or sprinkle with any left over praline pieces, if you like.

Very Berry Eton Mess

Strawberries, cream and meringue – summer on a plate.

In late September in Sydney we are experiencing 30 degeee days and lots of sunshine. It feels more like summer than spring! This is a happy time when the climate of the two hemispheres is somewhat aligned. Late summer in the north meets early summer here.

So let’s celebrate strawberries in all their glory! Here’s an Eton Mess, more procedure than recipe. My version has a mixture of cream and mascarpone, a pink meringue, some strawberry goo (strawberries cooked with a little sugar until gooey) and strawberry powder sprinkled on top, the latter a serendipitous find at @TheSourceBulkFoodsBalmain, my local providore for nuts, grains, dried fruit etc.

Here is the procedure. I am not giving quantities – just use your judgement as to how much you want of each ingredient.

Ingredredients

Strawberries

Cream

Mascarpone

Crushed meringue

Strawberry fruit goo* (you could just as easily use strawberry jam)

Strawberry powder

Method 

Layer individual glass dishes or one large trifle bowl with  hulled fresh strawberries, cut in half if large, or left whole if small.  Add cream to some mascarpone until the consistency of whipped cream – add a little cream at a time so you can find the “right” consistency.

Pile spoonfuls of the cream mixture onto the strawberries, then sprinkle over some crushed meringue. Add a little of the strawberry fruit goo.  Add more spoonfuls of cream, strawberries and larger meringue pieces.

To finsh, sprinkle over some strawberry powder.

So there it is – Eton Mess with a very berry theme!

*Strawberry fruit goo – cook 250g of very ripe strawberries with 50g sugar in a pan over a medium heat, stirring the mixture until the sugar dissolves, mushing the strawberries a little. Cook until the mixture has reduced and you have a sticky jam like consistency.

 

Blood Orange Mini Cakes

This is the “mini” cake version of a larger blood orange cake I make. See here for the recipe. I thought that little cakes might be good for an afternoon tea, so I have adapted the recipe to make lovely little jewel bright cakes which are just delicious. Nothing beats the flavour and colour of blood oranges!

Ingredients

Candied orange slices

2 blood oranges
200g caster sugar

Cakes

2 blood oranges
200g  caster sugar
125g very soft butter
2 free range eggs
½ tsp vanilla essence
125g plain flour
75g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder

Method

Candied Blood Oranges
Finely slice 2 of the oranges, discarding the ends and keeping as many slices intact as you can.
Dissolve 200g of the sugar in 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Carefully place the orange slices in the syrup and simmer them until they are soft and sticky. Remove from the syrup using tongs. If the syrup is not reduced enough, cook it for a few minutes extra to thicken – but don’t let it go to toffee.

Cakes
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.
Grease a mini cake tin which has removeable bottoms. Line the bases with circles of baking paper. If you don’t have a tin with removeable bottoms, you could use an ordinary muffin tin, but turning out the mini cakes will be tricky, as you need to keep the candied orange slices intact.
Chop 2 of the blood oranges in quarters and remove each end. Blitz in the food processor until reasonably finely chopped – there should still be some small chunks in the mixture.
Add the butter and 200g of the sugar and blitz in the food processor. The mixture will look very curdled! Add the eggs and vanilla and blitz again, the mixture will still look very curdled!
Gently fold in the flour and baking powder, making sure not to over mix or the cake with toughen. The cake mixture will now look “normal”.
Place the candied orange slices on the paper bases in the tin, as artistically as possible, remembering, as this is an upside down cake, that the bottoms become the top!
Place the batter over the top of the slices. Bake for 20- 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cakes comes out clean. As these cakes are small, they may need a little less cooking, but they are also quite moist, so may need the allotted time. My advice is check after 15 minutes and keep checking thereafter.
Remove from the oven once cooked and cool the tin on a wire rack. When the cakes are cool (not cold), carefully remove each mini cake from the mold.  Even more carefully, take off the bases and peel away the baking paper.
Brush the mini cakes with the blood orange syrup and serve.

Blood Orange Breakfast Sorbet with Granola and Fresh Fruit

It’s blood orange season and I love finding opportunities to use this beautiful fruit with its gorgeous colour and fragrant flavour. I made blood orange friands recently – here is the link to the post.

This is a super easy breakfast recipe which could translate into dessert with ease!  The sorbet is made by blending frozen blood orange segments with yoghurt – instant frozen delight. Add some granola, store-bought or home made, and any fresh fruit you fancy and you have a zingy, taste-bud tantalizing breakfast to start your day.

Here’s the recipe or the assembly – it’s pretty easy!

Blood Orange Sorbet

Peel and segment a blood orange, place on a plate, cover with cling wrap or a ziplock bag and freeze for at least a few hours or overnight.

Put the frozen segments into a food processor or blender with a couple of tablespoons of full fat yoghurt. The exact quantity is up to you – start off with a couple of spoonfuls, you can always add more for a creamier texture. Blend well until you have a sorbet like consistency.  You should wack the sorbet back in the freezer if you are not serving absolutely immediately – it does melt fast!

Granola

If you want to make your own, here’s a recipe:

Ingredients

2 cups of rolled oats

1 cup of any combination of seeds – I used chia, linseed, sesame, poppy, pepitas

1/2 cup of any nuts you like – I used macadamias, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts

1/3 cup honey, warmed to pouring consistency in a microwave

1/2 cup of any dried fruit – I used apricots, mango cheeks, cranberries, sour cherries

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C.  Line a large baking tin with baking paper. You need to be able to spread the mix out without too many piles.

Mix the oats, seeds and nuts together in a large bowl. Pour the warmed honey onto the mix and quickly stir it through. The mixture will be quite sticky, so stir fairly aggressively. Sometime I loosen the honey before microwaving with a little bit of water to make it more runny and easier to mix. Up to you.

Spoon the mixture onto the baking paper in the tin, spreading it out so that it covers the base of the tin and there aren’t any big lumps.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture is golden brown and thoroughly toasted. You will need to turn the mixture over half way through cooking, so that the underneath mixture gets its time on top and gets toasted. The oven time is a bit of guess work – just keep checking and remove when the mix is golden and not burnt!

Let cool for 5 minutes then add the dried fruit, combining everything well. Don’t worry if there are some clumpy bits stuck together with honey – they are a bonus!

Breakfast Assembly

Put a big spoonful or two of granola on a plate and scatter on some fresh fruit  – more blood orange slices, and some strawberries and raspberries work well.  Lastly, add as much of the blood orange sorbet as you want to the plate, and you have a lovely breakfast to go.

Clementine Layer Cake with Raspberry Meringue Buttercream


Here is a quirky celebration cake, or if you’re looking for a cake to make that requires a few cake decorating skills. Nothing too challenging, I assure you!

I created this one lazy Saturday, with nothing more in mind than I wanted to make a cake that looked good and on which I could try out a few new skills in icing and decorating. As I’m the classic rustic baker, this cake is quite achievable for anyone with some basic skills! I was inspired by a recent trip to Saga in Enmore, in Sydney’s inner west where the legendary Andy Bowdy makes awesome cakes! Check out the website here!

You could use all or just some of my ideas, and tailor make the cake to suit your own creativity.

And by the way, for us Aussies, who only recently have (limited) access to clementines, mandarins would be great too!

The full description of the cake is this: Clementine and Almond Cake with Raspberry Meringue Buttercream, White Chocolate Crumb, White Chocolate Passionfruit Drizzle, Toffee Fruit.  The cake itself is based on that wonderful, and now quite universal, orange almond cake from Claudia Roden, first seen in A New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden.

I have included the quantities for a full size cake mixture. You probably won’t need the entire mixture – however if your cake is a baked in tins larger than the ones I’ve used (10cm/4in), you may need the whole lot. If you do have some mixture left over, just bake it in muffins molds for some seriously moist and delicious little cakes!

The same with the meringue buttercream. I have given quantities enough for a large amount of frosting. You can make less, or keep the remaining buttercream for another bake.

So here’s my recipe for the cake and its assembly.

Ingredients

Clementine Cake
3 clementines skin on (or 3 mandarins)
4 free-range eggs
250g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
250g ground almonds

Raspberry Meringue Buttercream
4 egg whites
2 cups white sugar
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons freeze dried raspberry powder or enough to make a deep pink buttercream

White Chocolate Crumb
100g white chocolate
1 tablespoon passionfruit fondant creme* or a few drops good quality yellow food colouring

White Chocolate Passionfruit Drizzle or Dribble!
100g white chocolate
1 tablespoon passionfruit fondant creme* or a few drops yellow food colouring
A few drops milk

Toffee Fruit
3 tablespoons caster sugar
A few clementine segments and whole strawberries

Method

Cake

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, 170 degrees C non fan forced. Butter 3 small cake tins well, and line the bases with a circle of baking paper – I used tins 10cm/4in in diameter.
Place clementines in a medium saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain, cool and chop (discard seeds), then blitz in a food processor. Add the eggs and sugar and process until combined. Add the baking powder and ground almonds and blitz making sure  everything is thoroughly mixed. The mixture is quite a wet one, so you can, if you’re nervous add 1-2 tablespoons of plain flour to make the batter a little less runny.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tins.
Bake for up to an hour, or until until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the cakes comes out clean. If the cakes are still wet, bake for longer.  However, the cakes may take less than the hour – check at the 40 minute mark for “doneness”.
Cool the cakes before carefully turning out of the tins, removing the baking paper.

Raspberry Meringue Buttercream

Place the egg whites and sugar into a metal bowl and set over a saucepan filled with about 5 cms of simmering water.
Heat, stirring frequently, until the temperature of the egg whites reaches 60 degrees C.  Transfer the heated egg whites and sugar to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Mix at high speed until they have reached their maximum volume, 5 to 10 minutes.

Mix on medium or medium-high speed while pinching off small pieces of butter and throwing them in. Mix in vanilla. Continue beating for about 5 minutes until the meringue and butter mixture is completely amalgamated, thick and of icing consistency. Carefully fold in the freeze dried raspberry powder.

White Chocolate Crumb

This method is tricky and possibly controversial! There are no doubt recipes which tell you how to bake white chocolate in the oven until it caramelizes and goes crumbly. I can’t guarantee the success of my method – a lot will depend on the power of your microwave and you own baking intuition in judging timings.
Essentially, you are cooking the white chocolate after it has melted, causing it to seize.
My method is pretty easy – stick the white chocolate in pieces  in the microwave (not on high- medium or even lower), and carefully melt. Then add the fondant creme or yellow food colouring mixing it through the warm chocolate. It will start to seize up. If it’s crumbly enough for you, then it’s done. If you want a more distinct crumb, place the chocolate back in the microwave on a low heat and cook for longer. I would advise going in 20 second bursts until you are satisfied with the crumb texture.

White Chocolate Drizzle

This needs to be made when you are ready to apply the drizzle/dribble to the cake.
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, taking care that the bowl does not touch the water. Or live dangerously as I did and melt the white chocolate in the microwave on a low heat setting.
Once melted, add the  fondant creme or yellow food colouring. As with the white chocolate crumb, the chocolate will probably seize. Take off  the heat and add a few drops of milk and beat vigorously until the mixture is of drizzling consistency. It comes back pretty well.

Toffee Fruit

Put the caster sugar in a small frying pan over a medium heat and dissolve the sugar, being careful not to stir the sugar. Once the melted sugar has hit that beautiful toffee/tea colour, remove from the heat, and carefully pour most of the toffee over the clementine segments and strawberries on the baking paper. Pour the last bit of the liquid toffee onto the baking paper so that you can break it up into shards once cold.

Assembly

Carefully cut the 3 cakes horizontally in half, to create 6 layers. This can be quite tricky as this cake is incredibly moist and can break easily.Work out which of the 6 layers are good, and which  you want to disguise. Pick the best for the top layer, a sturdy one for the bottom layer, and all the rest in between.
Place the bottom layer on a cake plate or cake board. Ice with the meringue buttercream, again being careful  as the cake is fragile. Repeat with the other layers, making the frosting on the top nice and thick. Ice the sides of the cake. A good palette knife will help with achieving a smooth texture.

Now for the decoration! This is where you can use your creative license! I dribbled the white chocolate drizzle down the sides of the cake, scattered the white chocolate crumb over the cake and around the base, placed the toffee fruit on and around the cake, and lastly decorated the cake with the toffee shards.
But absolutely you can have fun with this cake and do whatever you like to make your cake a quirky and visually spectacular creation!

*My local kitchen store stocks a range of Roberts Fondant Cremes see here for the link to the Passionfruit one I used in the recipe. However you can easily get the yellow effect by just using yellow food colouring, and don’t worry about the passionfruit flavour.

 

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Passionfruit Buttermilk Cakes

Passionfruit are plentiful and quite well priced in June in Sydney. I’m addicted to their heady sweet and tangy taste and the lovely mellow yellow colour they give to cakes and icings. I also love the depth of flavour that cooking with buttermilk gives to cakes and breads. I was keen to try the cheat’s buttermilk you can make using regular milk. Simply add lemon juice or vinegar to milk, or even lime juice, and you have a pretty good substitute!

Here is the recipe for these passionfruit beauties. You can make them dainty or scale them up as I did, using my three tier muffin molds.

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.  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.

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!

 

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