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Category Archives: Jams, Marmalades, Conserves and Chutneys

Fig and Frangipane Muffins

 

 

Here’s another muffin recipe – I’m always experimenting with ingredients and tweaking recipes to create new taste and texture sensations.

Figs are plentiful in early autumn in Sydney, and a colleague brought me some beautiful bounty from the Southern Highlands from her very own fig tree. Lucky Ms L to have a tree bearing such luscious treats!

This recipe is based on one from Mike McKenearney’s “Kitchen by Mike” see here for details – with a bit of method thrown in from Matt Stone’s Greenhouse Muffins and my own flavour combo of fresh figs, stem ginger and frangipane.

Ingredients

150g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of sea salt

80g butter, softened

65ml vegetable oil

150g caster sugar

2 free-range eggs

75ml buttermilk (or ordinary milk with a good squeeze of lemon juice added)

6 fresh figs

6 pieces stem ginger, finely chopped

1/2 quantity of frangipane

A couple of teaspoonfuls of a good jam – apricot works well

Handful of flaked almonds, toasted

Frangipane

100g unsalted butter

100g caster sugar

1 free-range egg

Method

These quantities make 6 big muffins. You could probably get 8 or so daintier muffins from the mixture.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a six-hole muffin tin with baking paper or paper cases.

In an electric mixer, whisk the butter, oil and sugar until smooth, and the sugar has dissolved. The mixture should look creamy.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Slowly add the buttermilk or lemon-soured milk.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into another bowl and then add  1/2 cup of the flour mixture and whisk on a low speeed until smooth. Be careful not to overmix and this will toughen the muffins.

Fold in the remaining flour mixture, again being careful not to overmix.

Chop 4 of the figs into quarters and then half each quarter. Carefully fold the chopped figs and the chopped stem ginger into the muffin mixture and then spoon evenly into the baking papers or muffin cases.

To make the frangipane, cream the butter and caster sugar in a food processor, add the egg and ground almonds and process until smooth. (You will only need 1/2 this quantity, if that).

Mix a good teaspoonful of the frangipane into each muffin. It doesn’t matter if it’s not mixed in too well – it’s nice to have an almond surprise in the centre of the muffin!

Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the muffin tin for 10 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

When the muffins are cool, brush the top of each muffin with jam, then sprinkle on some toasted flaked almonds.

I decorated with slices of the remaining 2 figs. It would be nice too, to bake some fig slices on the top of the muffins. My track record of having baked fruit pieces stay on top of muffins and cakes is not good! They always sink. So I content myself with decorating the baked goods with fresh fruit.

Serve on their own or maybe with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt.

 

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Strawberry Ripple Cake Revisited

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I was looking back at my archives and I found this lovely cake that I made a while back. I thought it might be nice to revisit it. It’s a simple butter cake, with a strawberry jam ripple. The addition of sour cream makes it a very moist cake too!

Summer in Sydney is all about the berries. Every supermarket and green grocer is practically giving away strawberries! And blueberries and raspberries are, well, as cheap as chips or … berries. So I use berries, and in particular strawberries, in cakes, puddindgs and pies quite a lot.

Ingredients

150g unsalted or salt reduced butter, at room temperature

215g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2  large free-range eggs

300g  self-raising flour

300g  sour cream

1/2 cup strawberry jam (preferably home-made, see recipe below)*

Icing

200g icing sugar mixture

15g butter, at room temperature, chopped

1 1/2-2 tablespoons hot water

1-2 drops red food colouring

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C or 160 degreees C fan-forced.

The cake looks nice in a decorative mold like a rum baba tin, which I used, or a bundt tin. Otherwise use a large cake tin. Grease the mold or tin with butter or non stick spray.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla in a food processor until pale and thoroughly amalgamated. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour and sour cream, alternately, using a metal spoon. Tricky but not impossible in a food processor!

Pour half the mixture into the prepared mold or tin. Spoon over half the jam. Using a skewer, ripple the jam through the mixture.  Spoon the rest of the cake mixture in to the mold or tin, add the remaining jam and ripple again.

Bake for 40-50  minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.  The cake will take longer in a deep mold, it will take a shorter time in a conventional tin. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Icing

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Put the butter into a cup, pour over the hot water, and stir until the butter is dissolved. Mix into the icing sugar. Stir in the food colouring. Icing is not an exact science, so carefully add more icing sugar or a little water as needed, to get the icing to the right consistency. You can ice with a knife or just spoon over the cake and let the icing drip down the sides. Set aside until set.

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Christmas Cherry Cheesecake Semifreddo

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If you’re looking for cold pud ideas for Christmas lunch , this is what I did last year. Jamie Oliver had come up with a delightful frozen ice cream bombe using seasonal fresh cherries (at least for us in the Southern Hemisphere). But you could use frozen cherries if you are living in northern climes.

Cherries + cheesecake mixture =  cherry cheesecake semifreddo bombe, spectacular when frozen in a domed bowl and then turned out. Utterly delicious to eat…

Jamie has combined three great ideas – cherries because they’re seasonal for us in Australia, cheesecake which is always a winner and semifreddo for all us ice cream lovers!

It’s an easy recipe but you need to be prepared for a quite a few steps. It took me an hour or so on Christmas Eve, then freezing time overnight. It was ready to go for lunch on Christmas Day. I made these changes to the original recipe:

I used frozen pitted cherries rather than fresh (simply to save time pitting the fresh cherries)
I used ginger nut biscuits for the biscuit crunch component instead of digestive biscuits. This really worked as the biscuit crunch had a great festive ginger flavour!
Ingredients

150g digestive biscuits (I used ginger nuts)
75g unsalted butter
250g fresh cherries (I used frozen pitted cherries)
250g golden caster sugar
1 lemon
4 large free-range eggs
250ml double cream
250g cream cheese
50g dark chocolate
A large handful of cherries or mixed fresh berries

Method
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until fine. Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat and stir in the blitzed biscuits and a good pinch of sea salt.
Empty the mixture into a small baking dish (roughly 15 x 20 cm), pat down and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until golden and firm. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, halve and de-stone the cherries and place in a small pan with 200g of the caster sugar. (Or use frozen cherries). Finely grate in the lemon zest and squeeze in the juice of half and place over a medium-low heat.
Gently bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 6-8 minutes, or until softened and syrupy. Leave to cool completely, then blitz two-thirds of the mixture into a purée in a blender.
When you are ready to assemble the semifreddo, separate the eggs into two large mixing bowls and pour the double cream into a third bowl. Whisk the cream to soft peaks and beat in the cream cheese.
Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining caster sugar until creamy and pale and doubled in volume.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of sea salt until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the whites into the yolks, using a large metal spoon to keep the mixture as light as possible.
Beat a large spoonful of the egg mixture into the cream cheese mixture to loosen it, then carefully fold through the remaining.
Marble in half the puréed cherries and crumble in most of the biscuit mixture in large and small pieces, then fold through most of the whole cooked cherries. Spoon the semifreddo into a 1.5 litre ceramic bowl, then crumble over the remaining biscuit and ripple through most of the remaining purée. Put the dish into the freezer for at least 6 hours.
When you are ready to serve, dip the bowl 2/3 of the way into a large bowl or pan of just-boiled water, being careful not to submerge completely. Hold until you start to see the semifreddo loosen from the sides of the bowl. Place an upside down cake stand or plate on top of the bowl, and quickly turn over, holding one hand on the bowl and one hand on the cake stand.
The semifreddo should come out in a beautiful dome. Serve garnished with the remaining puree, cooked cherries, shavings of dark chocolate and a handful of fresh cherries or mixed berries.

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Blood Orange Upside Down Cake With Candied Orange

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Revisiting September:  Here’s a cake I made in september 2014, a blood orange upside down cake. This cake does blood oranges two ways – candied on the top of the cake, (which started off as the bottom) and whole oranges, skin and all, blitzed through the batter. A lovely introduction to the coming months of spring, when it will be warm enough to have afternoon tea in the garden!

Ingredients

2 + 2  blood oranges

200g  + 200g sugar

125g very soft butter

2 free range eggs

½ tsp vanilla essence

200g plain flour

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.

Cake

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

Grease a 20cm springform cake tin. Line the base with baking paper, cut slightly larger than the circle base, making sure the paper comes a little way up the sides of the tin. This is  as a precaution, in case the syrup leaks out of the tin.

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 base in the springform tin, as artistically as possible, remembering, as this is an upside down cake, that the bottom becomes the top.

Place the batter over the top of the slices. Gently tap the mixture to even it out. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool the tin on a wire rack. When the cake is cool (not cold), carefully turn upside down on a serving plate. Release the springform clasp, and carefully remove the ring. Even more carefully, take off the base and peel away the baking paper.

You should have a beautiful upside down cake with fruit intact! Brush the cake with the blood orange syrup, or you could serve the syrup on the side as a sauce.

Serve with whipped cream or sour cream or creme fraiche. I prefer the latter two as the cake is very sweet and needs to be offset by a little sourness.

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Berry and Custard Chocolate Brownies

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This is a great recipe for chocolate brownies with a couple of twists. It’s based on Jamie Oliver’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Brownies from his lovely book of delights Comfort Food.

I loved the idea of this recipe with its peanut butter custard, but sadly had to forgo the peanut butter as the group I was baking for had some problems with nuts. I made the custard with just vanilla. It was fine – the custard gives a velvety smoothness to the brownies. The “jelly” in Jamie’s recipe is raspberry jam. This part of the recipe I did adhere to, but added fresh strawberries instead of raspberries.

The resulting brownie is very chocolatey, with its rough chunks of dark chocolate, soft with the custard and sweet and sharp with the berry tang. Recommended!

Ingredients

Custard
250ml semi-skimmed milk
1 vanilla pod
2 large free-range egg yolks
50g golden caster sugar (or raw sugar)
1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
20g unsalted butter (at room temperature)

Brownie mixture
230g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
250g dark chocolate + 50g extra for chocolate chunks in the brownie
230g golden caster sugar (or raw sugar)
4 large free-range eggs
150g plain flour
2 tbls raspberry jam
75g fresh berries (I used strawberries)

Method

To make the custard, put the milk into a pan, halve the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds, then add both pod and seeds to the pan and lightly simmer on the hob, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a bowl, use a balloon whisk to combine the egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and soft butter. Whisking constantly, gradually pour the hot milk into the bowl, until combined. Return the custard mixture to the pan, place over a low heat and stir gently for 2 to 3 minutes, or until thickened. Leave the custard to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. For the brownies, grease and line a deep baking tray (20cm x 30cm). Melt the butter in a non-stick pan on a very low heat, then snap up and add the chocolate. Stir regularly with a spatula until melted and combined, then remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Leave to cool slightly, then whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until silky. Sift in the flour and mix well.

Pour the chocolatey brownie mix into the prepared tray, then swirl through the chilled custard (discarding the vanilla pod). Roughly mix in the additional chocolate chunks. Erratically distribute little spoonfuls of jam over the surface, then poke in the fresh berries (any fresh seasonal berries that correspond with the jam you’re using). Bake for around 25 minutes, or until cooked on the outside but still a bit gooey in the middle. Leave to cool before cutting into portions.

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Preserved Lemons

 

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Preserved lemons are the easiest and one of the nicest ways to make use of a lemon bounty.

In late summer, earlier this year, I was the lucky recipient of lot of beautiful lemons from an old tree in Burradoo, in the beautiful Southern Highlands of NSW. The lemons were mostly quite big and thick skinned, with a mild tang. They were well used in my kitchen, for several weeks. Lemon cake and lemon curd were obvious candidates for the produce.

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I also made a jar of preserved lemons for a visit to my Palm Beach haven. I’ve made preserved lemons a few times, using various recipes. I turned this time to see what Jamie said on the subject. The following is adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe.

Ingredients

Fennel seeds
Coriander seeds
Cinnamon stick
Peppercorns
Bay Leaf
Sea salt
Large fat Lemons

Method

You will need a good preserving style of  jar for this recipe. Make sure the jar is clean, there’s no need to sterilise.  The jar should also have a strong clasp or well fitting lid. The jar should be airtight.

In a bowl, mix the spices and the sea salt. Cut a cross into the lemons, almost to the base, but making sure that the quarters stay together. Push the seasoned salt into the lemon segments. This can be tricky as the the lemons are slippery, but persevere.

Pack the lemons as tightly as possible into the jar. The less space there is between the lemons the more attractive it will look and you won’t need to use so much salt. As you layer the lemons, juice will be squeezed from the lemons. Make sure the lemons are covered with juice – you can top up with additional lemon juice if needed.

Close the lid and put the jar into a cupboard away from the light. The lemons will be ready after one month of preserving. Jamie says that the lemons will last for about 2 years – I have usually used them all before then!

To use, discard the flesh and pith and use the rind with grilled chicken, lamb or fish, and in Moroccan tagines and casseroles.

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Whole Lemon Cake with Mascarpone and Lemon Curd

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This is a lovely cake, fragrant with lemon and lemon curd. It’s really easy too! It’s based on a Mary Berry recipe, see here.

The cake is a one bowl cake – everything in the food processor. My kind of cake. Cooking a whole lemon and using this in the cake gives the cake that intense lemon flavour. It’s pretty versatile – I made it as a single layer first off, and then as I was taking it to lunch at friends I decided the cake needed jazzing up, so I quickly sliced it in half and filled the middle with more lemon mascarpone filling. Either version is great as you can see from the photos!

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Ingredients
1 medium lemon
140g softened butter
140g caster sugar
140g self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
2 free-range eggs

Icing (the icing also uses some of the whole lemon from above)
50g soft butter
175g icing sugar
250g mascarpone

For the lemon curd (You could also use bought lemon curd – but home-made is easy!)

100g unsalted butter it into small chunks
220g caster sugar
125 ml lemon juice
2 free-range eggs lightly beaten
Method

Put the lemon in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, or until very soft and tender. Drain, cut the lemons in half and remove any pips.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C , 160 degrees fan forced. Grease and line with baking paper a medium sized cake tin – 20cm or 21 cm works well.

Place the lemon in a food processor and process until pulverised, but with some chunky bits left. Transfer the lemon mixture in a small bowl.

Put all the remaining cake ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth. Stir in just over half of the lemon pulp. Keep the rest of the lemon mixture for the icing.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then turn the cake out, remove the baking paper and leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, put the butter and icing sugar in the food processor and blitz  until smooth and creamy. Add the mascarpone, blend again and then add the remaining lemon mixture and pulse until the icing is just mixed.

To make the lemon curd, put the butter, caster sugar and lemon juice in a bowl over simmering water (bain-marie) making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Whisk for 5 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and whisk in the beaten eggs.  Put back onto the heat, and whisk or stir with a wooden spoon until the lemon curd has noticeably thickened – hard to say how long, at least 10 minutes. Remove from heat when thickened. To store lemon curd before using, place cling film on the surface of the curd to stop a skin forming.  Store in the fridge.

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To assemble the cake: Carefully cut the cake in half.  Spread half the lemon mascarpone icing  on the bottom cake layer, then place the top cake layer on top. Ice the top of the cake with the remaining icing. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of lemon curd (or more if you really like lemon curd) over the mascarpone icing, gently swirling the lemon curd into the icing.

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