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Category Archives: Dessert

Middle Eastern Sherbet Berry Balls

These are super easy sweet bites that need no cooking! Make them small as I did for an after dinner treat or bigger and they could double as a light dessert.

I used frozen blackberries, but raspberries or strawberries would be great too.

The “sherbet” part comes from sprinkling them with freeze dried raspberry powder. If you can’t get hold of any, they are equally delicious just rolled in coconut or chopped nuts. Or you could even roll in more chocolate, grated!

Ingredients

40g dark chocolate

100g frozen berries slightly thawed

80g rolled oats

1 tablespoon golden syrup

40g coconut oil

60g shredded coconut

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Freeze dried raspberry powder

Ground pistachios (optional)

Method

Take the chocolate and chop into squares or small pieces. Place in a ziplock bag and bash using a mallet or similar into chocolate rubble.

Place the berries, oats, golden syrup, coconut oil, 40g of the coconut, sesame seeds and chocolate in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Cover with cling wrap. Place in the fridge for several hours or until mixture is stiff enough to roll into balls.

Roll large teaspoon portions of mixture into balls. Roll in remaining coconut to lightly coat.

Sprinkle with freeze dried raspberry powder for the sherbet effect.

If using, sprinkle some ground pistachios over as well. It’s nice to do a few this way.

You will need to store these in the fridge. They should keep in an airtight container for a week or more.

Rosemary, Olive Oil and Orange Cake

Cakes where orange or lemon are predominant flavours are an important part of a baker’s repertoire. They make wonderful afternoon tea cakes and can be dressed up for dessert.

This is a lovely cake from Middle Eastern inspired cook Yotam Ottolenghi. I’m revisiting it in autumn in Sydney, as we are enjoying long warm days, perfect for cake and coffee in the sunshine!

The cake itself is flavoured with rosemary, and the orange and lemon icing gives the cake a great citrus tang.

Although there are few steps to the recipe, it’s actually quite easy. You could leave out crystallising the rosemary sprigs to save time, but the sprigs are a nice aromatic touch plus they look great on the cake.

You could bake the cake in an ordinary tin, but if you have a bundt tin, make it in that, so the icing can drip down the centre of the cake.

Here is Ottolenghi’s recipe.

Ingredients

Cake
30g unsalted butter, softened, for greasing the tin
240g plain flour plus more to flour the tin
160 mls extra-virgin olive oil
120g caster sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (from about 1 1/2 oranges)
1 ½ tablespoons packed finely chopped rosemary leaves
2 large free-range eggs
130g sour cream
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Crystallised Rosemary
10 small rosemary sprigs, no more than 3 cms each in size
1 free range egg white, lightly whisked
2 teaspoons caster sugar

Orange Icing
1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 ½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
150g sifted icing sugar

Method

At least six hours before you plan to ice the cake, prepare the crystallised rosemary. Brush rosemary on all sides with a little of the egg white and then dip it in the sugar, so the needles are lightly coated on all sides. Set aside on a wire rack to dry. Repeat with remaining rosemary. *Note: You want small, decorative clusters of needles. The simplest way to do this is to pull the smaller, bottom-most clumps off of large sprigs, or trim off the very tops of several sprigs.

Heat the oven to 160 degrees C. Generously grease a 23cm bundt tin with half the butter and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Butter again, generously, and then flour it, tapping away the excess.

Put olive oil, caster sugar, orange zest and chopped rosemary leaves in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until combined, then add eggs, one at a time. Whisk for another minute, until thick, then add sour cream and mix until combined on low speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the whisk.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the olive oil mixture and mix until combined. Increase speed to high and whisk for one minute.

Scrape batter into the bundt pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cake is cooked, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate.

To make the icing, in a small bowl whisk together orange juice, lemon juice and icing sugar until smooth. When the cake has cooled, drizzle the icing on top, allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake, then top with the crystallized rosemary and serve.

Persian Love Cake – Lemon and Rose

I’ve always been fascinated with Middle Eastern cooking, and over the years I’ve built up a repertoire of favourite recipes. At first I was guided by cooking luminaries such as Claudia Rosen – her orange almond cake is cafe legend the world over – and the highly knowledgeable Elizabeth David.

And latterly, like so many people with a passion for good food, I have lapped up everything the wonderful Yotam Ottlenghi has said and written about Middle Eastern cooking, particularly the cooking of Israel and Palestine, where he developed his unique take on flavour.

This recipe is loosely a Persian Love Cake – I got a lot of inspiration from Turkish cooking too, in particular the recipes of Sevtap Yuce. My cake features lemon, rosewater and almonds as the principal flavours.

This cake is quite big – it’s essentially a sharing, celebration cake. You could scale it down if you wanted, or make 2 smaller cakes from the mixture.

Ingredients

150g butter

330g caster sugar

zest of 1 1/2 lemon

6 large free-range eggs

300g plain flour

165g ground almonds *

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of sea salt

1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

300g Greek yoghurt

3 tablespoons rosewater

*If you like your almonds to be a little crunchy, instead of using ground almonds, try pulsing flaked or slivered almonds in a food processor until they are ground but still have a bit of texture.

Syrup

125g caster sugar

125g water

Juice of a lemon

1-2 tablespoons rosewater

To serve – any of these are great!

1-2 tablespoons whole pistachios

Cardamom pistachio sugar**

Edible dried rose petals

Crystallised rose petals

Glacé fruit as decoration

** Here in Australia I use Cardamom Pistachio Sugar made by Gewürzhaus. Hopefully there will be other brands available where you live.

Method

Preheat the oven to 160°C, non fan forced. Carefully butter a 24cm springform cake tin.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing carefully after each addition to make sure the mixture doesn’t curdle. Add a dessertspoon of flour 3 times each time you’ve added 2 eggs. This will help stabilise the mixture and stop it curdling.

Sift the rest of the dry ingredients – it’s important to do this to give this rather dense cake some aeration.

Fold the sifted dry ingredients into the mixture.

Stir in the yoghurt and rosewater. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 – 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. If you’re worried about the cake browning too much, after half an hour or so, you can place a piece of foil over the top of the cake.

Once cooked, remove the cake from the oven and cool for 5 minutes in the tin.

Remove the ring of springform tin, then remove the cake from its base.

Place on a serving plate.

For the syrup, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon juice, and bring to the boil, and cook for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add the rosewater. Cool the syrup to room temperature.

Pierce the cake all over with a skewer, and spoon the cool syrup over the hot cake. Leave at room temperature so that the syrup can soak into the cake.

Scatter any of the following over the syrupy cake – whole pistachios, cardamom pistachio sugar, edible dried rose petals, crystallised rose petals or glacé fruit.

Serve the cake at room temperature, with a dollop of thick cream or Greek yoghurt.

Raspberry and Peach Meringue Roulade


My last post was a chocolate meringue roulade – so you may be wondering why another roulade post so soon! Well, when I’m on a roll (pun definitely intended), I like to crystallise my ideas for a new recipe while they are still fresh. And besides, a friend requested this recipe when she saw the photos on Facebook.

So here’s the recipe with the ingredients and instructions for the “Peach Melba” flavours.

Ingredients 

4 egg whites 

250g caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1/2 teaspoon almond essence

Icing sugar, for dusting

For the filling:

150ml cream (any whipping cream, however I used thickened cream as it whips better) see note*

150ml good quality Greek yoghurt

2 yellow peaches, cut into quarters or eighths, depending on the size

125g fresh raspberries 

To decorate:

2 tablespoons raspberry compote** or good quality raspberry jam 

A handful of toasted almond flakes or hazelnut pieces 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced. Line the base of a Swiss roll tin (23 x 33 cm / 9 x 13 in) with a sheet of baking paper.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition, until all the sugar has been incorporated and the mixture is stiff and glossy. The mixture should pass the “thumb and finger” test: roll a little meringue between thumb and first finger, and if it’s smooth and not grainy, all the sugar has been well incorporated! 

Fold in the vanilla extract and almond essence.

Carefully spoon the meringue into the tin, flattening with a palette knife to level the surface. Place the tin into the preheated oven, and bake for about 20 – 25 minutes, or until the meringue is firm to the touch. The meringue may take a little longer to cook, you want it to be firm enough to roll, but not so hard that it won’t roll but just breaks up. 

Remove the meringue from the oven and, very carefully, turn out onto a sheet of baking paper. Peel the baking paper from the bottom of the meringue. Let the meringue cool for 10 minutes, but don’t let it get completely cool as it won’t roll.

Make a cut a couple of centimetres along the long side of the meringue. Make sure you don’t cut through the meringue completely.  This cut will help you to start the roll.

Meanwhile, whip the cream to firm peaks. Fold the Greek yoghurt into the whipped cream. Spread the cream/yoghurt mixture over the surface of the meringue.

Place the peach slices  and raspberries on top of the cream along the length of the roulade. 

Now roll up the meringue from the long side, using the baking paper to help you. It will be difficult to get it to roll, and it might crack, but the cracks are inevitable and quite acceptable. You may only get  a loose roll, as I did. I think this is fine, as a more rustic roulade will still look good and taste great!

Place the rolled meringue, now a roulade, into the fridge to chill for at least an hour. The roulade can be left overnight, too. Unlike a pavlova, a roulade will benefit from getting a bit soft, as it will cut better.

To serve, dust liberally with icing sugar, spoon over the raspberry compote or jam, and scatter the almonds or hazelnuts over the whole roulade. 

Cut into thick slices and serve. Nothing more needed!

*Thickened cream is available in Australia. It has a milk fat content of 35% and it contains additives – gelatine and vegetable gums, and this helps hold its shape when it’s whipped.

** Raspberry compote is easy to make if you want to use it in this recipe. Take 125g or so of fresh raspberries, or frozen, and put into a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and  1 tablespoon of water. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring, then cook without stirring until the raspberries have reduced and the mixture has thickened. This isn’t jam, so no need to cook to a jam consistency. Leave to cool to room temperature.

 

Chocolate Meringue Roulade

I have a confession – I had never made a roulade, meringue or sponge, until last week! I guess it was just one of those things I thought might be too tricky to do.

So I decided to give it a go, doing a meringue roulade as I have a heap of egg whites currently frozen, left over from using many egg yolks used in panettone making. Well that’s another story…

I had the idea of what to do, having watched the Queen of Cakes Mary Berry make meringue roulade on a Great British Bakeoff special. So I felt well equipped to give it a go!

And while the result was a little informal – Mary’s favourite epithet to describe messy bakes in the GBBO – I quite liked the rustic finished product! 

Ingredients 

4 egg whites 

250g caster sugar

100g dark chocolate

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Icing sugar, for dusting

Filling 

150ml cream (any whipping cream, however I used thickened cream as it whips better) see note*

150ml good quality Greek yoghurt

125g fresh raspberries 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan forced. Line the base of a Swiss roll tin (23 x 33 cm / 9 x 13 in) with a sheet of baking paper.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition, until all the sugar has been incorporated and the mixture is stiff and glossy. The mixture should pass the “thumb and finger” test: roll a little meringue between thumb and first finger, and if it’s smooth and not grainy, all the sugar has been well incorporated! 

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or very carefully in the microwave. I use this latter method, but you must do it slowly, in intervals, on a low setting, to make sure the chocolate doesn’t seize. Gently fold into the meringue. Fold the cocoa powder into the meringue equally gently.

Carefully spoon the meringue into the tin, flattening with a palette knife to level the surface. Place the tin into the preheated oven, and bake for about 20 – 25 minutes, or until the meringue is firm to the touch. The meringue may take a little longer to cook, you want it to be firm enough to roll, but not so hard that it won’t roll but just breaks up. 

Remove the meringue from the oven and, very carefully, turn out onto a sheet of baking paper. Peel the baking paper from the bottom of the meringue. Let the meringue cool for 10 minutes, but don’t let it get completely cool as it won’t roll.

Make a cut a couple of centimetres along the long side of the meringue. Make sure you don’t cut through the meringue completely.  This cut will help you to start the roll.

Meanwhile, whip the cream to firm peaks. Fold the Greek yoghurt into the whipped cream. Spread the cream/yoghurt mixture over the surface of the meringue. Place the raspberries evenly over the cream. 

Now roll up the meringue from the long side, using the baking paper to help you. It will be difficult to get it to roll, and it will crack, but the cracks are inevitable and quite acceptable! You may only get  a loose roll, as I did. I think this is fine, as a more rustic roulade will still look good and taste great!

Place the rolled meringue, now a roulade, into the fridge to chill for at least an hour. The roulade can be left overnight, too. Unlike a pavlova, a roulade will benefit from getting a bit soft, as it will cut better.

To serve, dust liberally with icing sugar, and serve in thick slices.

*Thickened cream is available in Australia. It has a milk fat content of 35% and it contains additives – gelatine and vegetable gums, and this helps hold its shape when it’s whipped. 

Mrs Beeton’s Christmas Plum Pudding

 



Now I know posting a recipe for Christmas pudding on the day after Christmas is a bit.. well.. late! I made this pudding a few weeks ago and just got too busy with Christmas preparations and baking to post. But I wanted to show this excellent pudding so I am posting while we are still in that Christmas food and festivities zone.

And I’ll blog again next year in time to make the pudding for the big day!

Earlier in December I was lucky enough to attend an online event hosted by the wonderful Sydney Living Museums.

This organisation looks after significant buildings integral to Sydney’s colonial history. Visiting historic houses and public buildings is always a fascinating trip into Sydney’s past.

The demonstration was presented by Jacqui Newling, Assistant Curator and Sydney Living Museums resident expert in food heritage and colonial gastronomy.

I loved watching as Jacqui made the Christmas  pudding and really appreciated her step by step tips and tricks to making the pudding. She has a wealth of knowledge and importantly a really practical common sense approach to cooking.

I had to make the pudding! I made it the next day, and in order to be able to try it before Christmas Day, I made a baby one which I could eat on the same day.

What is amazing about this pudding is that it has no flour and no sugar! Bread replaces flour and the sweetness comes from the dried fruit. I have to admit I was a little dubious about the absence of flour and sugar, but I must say the resulting pudding was sensational! Deep, rich flavours with a strong caramel taste.

We ate the delicious pudding on Christmas Day. I served it with brandy butter, custard and cream – I think it deserved all three accompaniments.

Here is the recipe as presented by Jacqui Newling with her notations and this is the link to the original.

Classic Christmas Pudding

Adapted from Mrs Beeton’s Book of household management, 1861

Note

‘On Christmas-day a sprig of holly is usually placed in the middle of the pudding, and about a wine-glassful of brandy poured round it, which, at the moment of serving, is lighted, and the pudding thus brought to table encircled in flame.’

So says Isabella Beeton in 1861, in her best-selling Beeton’s book of household management (1861). I’ve adapted her ‘Christmas plum pudding (very good)’ for modern measurements, replaced suet with butter, and added some extra spice now synonymous with Christmas.

Serves 12

Ingredients 

750g mixed dried fruit

1 tbsp mixed spice

1 tsp nutmeg or cinnamon

1⁄2 cup fragrant tea or sherry

200g butter, placed in freezer for 1-2 hours

250g freshly made white breadcrumbs (made from a day-old 375g loaf, crusts removed)

6 eggs, well beaten

1⁄2 cup brandy

Equipment

1.5L pudding basin or equivalent smaller bowls
Baking paper cut to diameter of the pudding basin/bowls
Good quality aluminum foil Kitchen string
Grater, chilled in fridge Trivet

Method

1. If the fruit looks a bit dry, soak it with the spices in the tea or sherry overnight or for at least a few hours.
2. Grate the butter into the breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl and mix through with a knife.
3. Add the soaked fruit and spices.
4. Add the beaten eggs and brandy, and encourage everyone in the family to stir the mixture (an old tradition).
5. Grease the pudding bowl with butter and spoon in the mixture, just short of the rim, as the mixture may swell during cooking.
6. Cover the pudding surface with baking paper cut to size, then cover the bowl with two pieces of foil pleated together in the centre – the foil should reach halfway down the bowl – and tie securely with string. The pleat is to allow for any expansion during cooking.
7. Place the pudding bowl on a trivet in a deep saucepan and add enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides to create a water bath.
8. Cover and simmer for several hours, topping up with boiling water as needed (19th-century recipes invariably state
6 hours simmering to ensure a rich colour).
9. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate until required.
Serve with Mrs Beeton’s Plum pudding sauce. You can find the recipe for the sauce here.

 

Christmas Summer Fruits Meringue Trifle

 


Trifle is one of those desserts that are a favourite on the big day. Trifle or pavlova are good alternatives to Christmas pud, or can be served  alongside the hot pudding as something sweet, creamy and delightfully cold!

I try to devise a different trifle each Christmas. I made this one a couple of years ago and it was delicious – peaches, blackberry and passionfruit are combined with passionfruit curd, meringue and cream and the obligatory cake and custard layers into a light and fruity trifle.

An important note: this recipe may look time consuming because you make the custard, curd and meringue. If you don’t want to do all that work, you can absolutely use bought elements! Christmas is stressful enough without adding extra work!

Layers are important in any trifle, you can really layer this one any way you like.

Here is the order in which I layered my version:

Cake
Peaches/ passionfruit
Passionfruit curd
Meringue
Cake
Blackberry compote
Custard
Cream
Meringue shards/peaches/passionfruit/individual meringues

Ingredients 

Meringue
3 egg free range whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup caster sugar
A few drops of yellow food colouring

Passionfruit curd
4 tbls sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
Pulp of 3 passionfruit
2 free-range egg yolks
2 tbls butter

Custard
3 large free-range egg yolks
35g cornflour
50g caster sugar
600ml milk
300ml cream

Blackberry compote
500g frozen blackberries
3 tbls sugar
2 tbls water

2 bought sponge cakes (you can make your own but it’s much less time consuming to buy them)

6 yellow peaches, cut into slices
Pulp of 3 passionfruit

1/2 cup or to taste of an orange flavoured liqueur. (I used Cointreau and Orange Curaçao)

300ml whipped cream

Method

Meringue
Preheat the oven to very slow – 135 degrees C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
Beat egg whites at low speed with an electric mixer until frothy, add cream of tartar and beat on highest speed until peaks hold their shape. Gradually beat in 2 tablespoons of the measured sugar and continue beating for 2-3 minutes. Add all the remaining sugar at once, fold in quickly and lightly with a metal spoon.
Using 3/4 of the mixture, spoon or pipe two discs, each about the size of the diameter of your trifle bowl, onto the prepared trays. With the remaining meringue, colour one half yellow, and put both meringue mixtures  into two piping bags. Pipe yellow and plain meringues, as many as the mixtures will make, around the edges of the baking trays where you have placed the discs.
Bake the discs and meringues for 1 1/2 hours. Leave in oven for a further 1/2 hour or until dry.

Passionfruit Curd
Place all the ingredients into a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon, making sure all the ingredients are amalgamated and the sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to stir until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Put aside to cool.

Custard
Put the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar into a large bowl and stir together with a whisk. Heat the milk and cream together in a pan until hot but not boiling. Gradually whisk into the yolks, then return the mixture to the pan. Stir over a high heat until the mixture just comes to the boil and the custard thickens. Take off the heat, cover and allow to cool.

Blackberry compote
Put the frozen blackberries, sugar and water into a saucepan and gently stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to boiling point, turn the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the fruit is softened and the liquid is reduced. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Assembling the trifle
Line the base of your glass trifle bowl with half the cake, making sure there are no gaps. Liberally sprinkle over half the orange liqueur.
Scatter half the piece slices and half the passionfruit pulp over the cake. Spoon the cooled passionfruit curd over the fruit.
Now carefully place one of the meringue discs on top of the curd, trimming the edges if it’s too big. Place the rest of the cake pieces on top. If you think there is too much cake, leave some of it out. Sprinkle the cake with the remaining liqueur. Spoon the blackberry compote on top of the cake.
Carefully spoon or pour the cooled custard over the trifle, then add the whipped cream. Again, if you think there’s too much custard or too much whipped cream, add a little less.
To decorate the trifle, carefully break up the remaining meringue disc into shards big and small (so lots of broken bits don’t matter!). Place the rest of the peach slices and passionfruit pulp around the edge of the trifle and artfully place the meringue shards wherever you like.
Then finish by topping the trifle with the individual meringues.
This is how I made my trifle – I’m sure there are endless variations to the layering and presentation, so be creative!

Lemon Ricotta Cake with Italian Meringue

 



I love cakes that utilise dairy ingredients such as ricotta, yoghurt or sour cream to make a very moist and slightly fudgy style of cake. This cake has ricotta and Greek yoghurt to give that great texture, plus soaked in lemon syrup for added moistness as well as added zing.

You can top this cake in a lot of ways – drizzle with more lemon syrup, ice with buttercream or as I did, swathe with beautiful cloudy Italian meringue!

Ingredients

4 large free range eggs – approximately 200 – 220g in weight

200g caster sugar

Zest of 2 lemons

175g butter

175g ricotta

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

75g Greek Yoghurt

200g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bi carbonate of soda

Lemon syrup

Juice of remaining lemon left over from zesting

50g sugar

Italian Meringue

225g caster sugar

120 glucose syrup

90ml water

150g free-range egg whites

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 20cm springform tin with butter. Line the base with a circle of baking paper.

Whisk the eggs, sugar and lemon zest in an electric mixer, starting on low and gradually increasing speed to maximum. Whisk till mixture is pale coloured slightly increased in volume.

Melt the butter and cool to room temperature. Break up ricotta roughly with a fork to help in mixing it in.

Add the lemon juice, vanilla paste, ricotta, yoghurt and butter to the bowl and whisk on low speed until just amalgamated. You don’t want to mix too long and knock the air out.

Combine the plain flour, baking powder and bi carbonate of soda, stirring with a fork to mix. If you want to, you can sift these ingredients.

Very carefully fold the flour into the cake mixture in 3 or 4 lots. Again, be careful not to overmix as you will lose volume. The mixture will be slightly lumpy because of the ricotta, but don’t worry, that doesn’t affect the baked cake texture.

Carefully pour into the cake tin. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake come out clean. Check the cake after 30 minutes – you may need to cover the top with foil if it’s browning too quickly.

Meanwhile, make the lemon syrup by putting the lemon juice and sugar into a small saucepan  over a low heat and stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for a minute to reduce the syrup slightly.

Once cooked, remove from the oven, and leaving the cake in the tin, pierce all over the top with a skewer.

Pour the lemon syrup over the cake and then leave to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the spring form tin onto a plate.

To make the Italian meringue: first reserve 3 tablespoons of the caster sugar. Put the remaining sugar, glucose syrup and water into a small saucepan and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Have a cooking thermometer ready to test the temperature.  Without further stirring, cook over medium heat until the temperature reaches 117 degrees C on your thermometer.

Put the egg whites into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk  on a low speed. When the egg whites become loosened and slightly foamy, add the reserved 3 tablespoons of sugar, a tablespoon at a time.

Now you need to do this last action during the heating of the sugar syrup, which can be tricky. The idea is to pour the sugar syrup when it has reached 117 degrees C, onto the whisked egg whites and sugar. Pour the hot syrup down the side of the bowl, not onto the whisk.

Whisk on medium speed for several minutes until the mixture looks like meringue and is glossy and stands in peaks, and has cooled to room temperature. This will take at least 5 minutes – maybe more.

You can add any flavourings and colours at this point – stir in carefully by hand. I added the juice and seeds of a passionfruit for my cake, as passionfruit goes well with lemon.

To finish the cake, pile the thick luscious Italian meringue onto the top of the cake, using a palette knife.

Serve in thick slices, with more passionfruit, some lemon curd, whipped cream, ice cream, I could go on… this cake is a truly magnificent dessert cake however you like to serve it!

Blueberry Hazelnut Cake

 



This is one from the archives. A relatively easy cake that packs a real blueberry punch!  Because of all of the blueberries, it is a moist cake that keeps well.

Blueberries seem to be perennially in season here in Sydney and are relatively inexpensive. I have them permanently on hand for my breakfast granola with Greek yoghurt. But they’re yummy baked in a cake too.

This cake maximises the blueberry thing with fresh blueberries, dried blueberries and blueberry jam. The main hit comes from the fresh blueberries, and you could easily leave the dried ones out altogether- they’re not always easy to buy. Or substitute some raisins instead.

The “jam” is actually pretty simple – some blueberries cooked with sugar and water to make a rough preserve.

And a double hazelnut hit from the ground hazelnuts and the toasted hazelnuts.

It can be dressed up or down – great for afternoon tea or for a dessert.

Ingredients

125g softened butter

115g  caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 free-range eggs

1 heaped tbls sour cream

90g ground hazelnuts

1/4 cup toasted and finely chopped  hazelnuts

100g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

60ml milk

30g dried blueberries, soaked in 1 tblsp of water for an hour (or substitute raisins or leave out altogether)

200g fresh blueberries

75g caster sugar

Method

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

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced. Grease a 20cm spring form tin and line base with baking paper.

Cream butter, caster sugar and vanilla extract in a food processor.  Add the free-range eggs and process until eggs are well incorporated. Pulse in the sour cream.  Sift the ground hazelnuts with the chopped hazelnuts,  SR flour and bicarbonate of soda. Stir in the sifted ingredients into the mixture with a spoon, then stir in the milk.

Fold in the soaked dried blueberries or raisins if using, and half of the fresh blueberries. Spoon into the springform cake tin.

Bake for  about 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the remaining blueberries and caster sugar with 2 tablespoons of water 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 tin before removing the ring of the springform tin. As the cake is quite moist and therefore a bit delicate, carefully remove it from its base using an offset spatula or indeed a ordinary metal spatula.

Pile the blueberry “jam” onto the top of the cake. Serve with more fresh berries and a sprinkling of sugar if desired, with whipped cream, creme fraiche or sour cream, any kind of cream goes well with this sweet blueberry baked delight!

 

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Angel Food Cake With Berries and Berry Cream



Three months ago I had never made, or even eaten angel food cake. I’m not sure why I hadn’t come across this amazing cake – it is so delicious, and while not a doddle to make, is pretty easy once you have made it once and practised the techniques.

So the first angel food cake that I made was the first one that I ate! I love its sublime lightness, pillowy softness, and ability to be a fantastic vehicle for cream, fruit and sauces.

Angel food cake is notable because it contains no fat and no egg yolks. In fact, it’s basically egg whites, sugar and flour, with cream of tartar. It also needs to be cooked in a special angel food cake tin.

I did a heap of research online to find out how to bake this cake. There are several things you need to do for cake success:

*Acquire an angel food cake tin for a start, and learn how to use the tin.

The tin should be 25cm/10in in diameter.

*Don’t grease the tin!

*Cool the cake upside down, the tin being supported on its own legs.

*Treat your egg whites in the mixture with care. Whisk the egg whites until aerated and foamy but not dry. After adding the sugar, whisk into soft but not stiff peaks. The egg white mixture will continue to expand in the oven. Stiff peaks may deflate in the oven.

My recipe is developed from very helpful instructions from the Queen of Cakes, Mary Berry, link here and Sally’s Baking Addiction, link here. Both food writers explain the science of the angel food cake clearly with understandable instructions.

Angel food cake is best served with cream and fruit or a sauce. It would be tricky to ice the cake as it’s so delicate, so it’s usually served plain.

I served this particular cake with lots of strawberries and raspberries, and berry whipped cream – whipped cream mixed with some berry jam and then piped onto the cake in swirls.

An angelic dusting of icing sugar makes this a truly heavenly cake to eat!

Ingredients

Cake

125g plain flour

300g caster sugar

10 large free-range egg whites

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

½ teaspoon salt

To serve

250mls whipping cream

1-2 tablespoons of any berry jam – strawberry, raspberry or blueberry, or a mixture

250g strawberries

250g raspberries

Icing sugar, to dust

Method

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced, 180 degrees C non fan forced.  Make sure you have an oven shelf positioned in the lower third of the oven.

Sift the flour and salt and add to a food processor. Pulse them with 100g of the caster sugar. This will aerate the dry ingredients to help create a light cake texture.

Whisk the 10 egg whites in an electric stand mixer on a high speed for one minute until frothy. Add the lemon juice, cream of tartar and salt and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes, or until foamy peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Increase the speed, and add the remaining 200g of caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time to form firm, but not stiff peaks. You will end up with a big volume of meringue mixture.

Sprinkle over one third of the flour/sugar mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. Repeat with the next third of the mixture and then the last third. Be very careful to fold the flour/sugar mixture gently to keep as much air in the angel food mixture as possible.

Carefully spoon the mixture into an angel food cake tin. Do not grease the tin! There is a lot of mixture to get into the tin. Once in the tin, gently run a knife through the centre of the mixture to remove any pockets of air.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. The cake should be pale brown and should have risen slightly. If the egg whites have been over beaten, or the mixture stirred too aggressively, the baked cake can sink.

Take out of the oven and turn the tin upside down onto the tin’s cooling legs on the bench top. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for at least an hour, two is ideal.

Once the cake is cool, run a knife around the outer edge of the cake tin, and also the inner edge around the centre insert, to remove it from the tin.

Turn the tin over and invert onto a plate. Remove the centre insert, and very carefully run a palette knife between the cake and the base of the tin to separate the cake from the base.  Being very careful, turn the cake right side up and place on a wire rack to cool.

Once cool, very delicately turn the cake right side up and place on a serving plate.

To serve:

Whip the cream until fairly stiff, but don’t overwhip or you’ll end up with butter! Put into a piping bag, and swirl your berry jam of choice into the cream. Pipe swirls or rosettes, if you’re being fancy, around the diameter of the cake.

Pile lots of strawberries and raspberries into the centre of the angel food cake.

Dust liberally with icing sugar over the whole cake.

 

 

 

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