I recently came across a wonderful blog the Kulinary Adventures of Kath. There are so many beautiful recipes! She has a lovely recipe for Rose Biscuits from the book “Tea at Fortnum and Mason”. I had to get the book!
I love this great little book, so informative on the history and art of tea. I wanted to have a go at baking these gorgeous rose biscuits, and having done so, am now keen to make some of the other great recipes for sweet and savoury delights.
The biscuits are so easy. The only difficulty may be in acquiring crystallised rose petals as specified in the recipe. In Sydney, “The Essential Ingredient” stocks their own house brand of crystallised rose nibs. They also sell them online. They add a lovely fragrant flavour to the biscuits.
The recipe makes about 20 biscuits.
100g unsalted butter, softened + extra for greasing
50g golden caster sugar
1 tbsp rosewater
100g plain flour, sifted
50g ground almonds
15g crystallised rose petals, chopped
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly butter a baking tray or line the tray with baking paper.
Cream the butter, sugar and rosewater in a large bowl. Add the flour, ground almonds and rose petals and mix everything together to form a dough.
Take heaped teaspoons of the mixture and roll it into balls. Flatten them slightly on the baking tray. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until just golden. Leave to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container. These biscuits also freeze well.
Sydney in summer, January 2020. And what a summer. The drought and the bushfires dominate the literal and emotional landscape, as we swelter through hot, hazy and humid days.
Despite these conditions, there is still amazing summer fruit in abundance, to bake, preserve or simply to devour fresh as an antidote to the heat.
I love stone fruit in high summer. I’ve been jam making with apricots and with blood plums, fantastic for their rich ruby red colour.
I made muffins a while back with yellow fleshed plums, using my current go-to muffin recipe adapted from Matt Stone’s The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste. Here is the recipe from 2018.
This recipe celebrates plums, baked in the muffin mixture and also as plum pieces on top of each muffin, but you could just as easily make it with other stone fruit – apricots, peaches or nectarines.
2 free-range eggs
140g raw sugar
1 Granny Smith apple unpeeled and grated
1 plum, diced
75ml vegetable oil
10-12 pecans, chopped (optional)
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp salt
3 plums, cut into segments, to decorate
A few pecan halves, to decorate (optional)
Whisk the eggs together in a large mixing bowl and when the mixture is foamy, slowly pour in the sugar. Keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size.
Whisk in the apple, diced plum and oil. Stir in the chopped pecans, if using. Use a spatula to gently fold in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
The mixture can be baked straight away but Matt suggests leaving it in the fridge overnight. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. Even leaving the mixture for a few hours in the fridge is beneficial.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan-forced, 180 degrees C non fan-forced.
Grease a standard muffin tin and line 6 holes with squares of baking paper. Spoon in the muffin mixture, adding as many plum segments as you like on top to decorate, and pecan halves, if using.
Put the muffin tin in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Check the muffins at 15 minutes and every 5 minutes from there, using a skewer to check if cooked. From my experience, in my oven, they take about 20 minutes.
Remove the muffins from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. Remove them from the tin and place on a wire rack. I leave the baking paper on as the muffins are easier to store.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Great on their own, as they are so moist, but also good with butter, or Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of honey.
With spring very much in the air in September in Sydney, the produce that is available in fruit and vegetables is amazing. We are seeing in particular lots of early summer berries, and at great prices too. The markets are full of big juicy strawberries and punnets of oversized blueberries, with both kinds of berries going for a song. So delicious, so tempting!
September is the also the season for blood oranges, and I have been buying these to cook with, or just to eat, as I love their ruby red fresh and intensely sweet juice.
With so much lovely produce on hand, I have been jam making madly! My current favourite jam I call “Ruby Sunrise”. It’s a marmalade made from blood orange, ruby grapefruit and mandarin. It’s got a great colour and that blood orange tang. Recipe to be posted soon!
These little tea cakes were just an excuse to use my Ruby Sunrise marmalade and to make a rich sticky blueberry compote, to adorn those little cakes.
The tea cakes are made from my go-to easy cake recipe featured in the last post – Yoghurt Cakes with Middle Eastern Flavours. This is such a great recipe as its easy to make in the food processor, the cakes turn out really well and they are light and moist.
I halved the quantities from the original recipe this time. I got 5 good sized tea cakes baked in my popover moulds. I could have got 6, if I’d gone a little smaller. If you used ordinary muffin moulds, I think you could get 6-8 little cakes from the mixture. Or you can use the original recipe quantities if you are cake making for a crowd.
Ingredients 125mls canola or vegetable oil 165g caster sugar 1 free-range eggs 140g Greek yoghurt 150g self-raising flour 1 teaspoon orange blossom water (or vanilla extract or almond essence if you prefer) 1 quantity blueberry compote 2 tablespoons any good marmalade
Method Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Grease and flour whatever moulds you are using – popover or conventional muffin tin.
Place the oil, caster sugar and egg in the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined. Pulse in the yoghurt, followed by the flour. Stir in the orange blossom water to the mixture.
Pour the mixture into the popover or muffin moulds.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. If you’re cooking in muffin moulds, you might like to check after 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven, and cool for 10 minutes then turn out the cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Spoon over some blueberry compote and some marmalade onto each cake while they are still warm. The quantities are up to you, but a good teaspoonful over each little tea cake seemed about right to me.
To make the blueberry compote: Place a punnet of blueberries (125g) in saucepan with 3 tablespoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water. Stir gently till the sugar dissolves. Simmer for a few minutes only until the some of the blueberries have broken down, the compote is slightly reduced and is thick and syrupy.
Serve the little tea cakes more Greek yoghurt, or cream, with a spoonful more of the compote or marmalade if desired.
I love picking up local cookery books from places I’ve visited, the more esoteric the better. Visiting Shetland, I was keen to explore the food of the islands and to collect some recipes. I loved my exploration through eating! I had some wonderful food, particularly some excellent baking.
In Shetland I bought a facsimile edition of Cookery for Northern Wives by Margaret B Stout, a book published in 1925, “containing practical recipes for old-time and modern dishes, all suited to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.” Margaret Stout was a Shetlander who wanted to encourage young northern wives to cook simple dishes and also to record traditional Shetland recipes.
This is a recipe for Yeast Buns. They are basically fruit buns. I decided to give the recipe a go! The result was a rather soft style bun, almost like brioche. I expected it to be a bit like a hot cross bun, but it was much softer, more cake like, than a hot cross bun.
I did some tweaking to the original recipe. First, I substituted dry yeast for fresh yeast for the sponge. I also added sourdough starter for extra flavour as I always have plenty on hand from making sourdough bread. This changed the amount of flour I used in the sponge. I have included flour amounts for both using sourdough starter and without using it.
I cut down on the flour in the main mixture, as my baking sensibility suggested that 560g was a bit too much. I added more dried fruit than in the original, and substituted some candied clementine for the candied peel, as that is what I had on hand.
I converted the imperial measurements to metric, rounding up or down as necessary.
The bottom photos are of the original recipe from Margaret Stout’s book.
Sponge 113g strong flour 10g yeast 1 teaspoon caster sugar 113g sourdough starter (or 226g strong flour all up if not using the starter) 400 mls lukewarm milk
For icing: 1 cup icing sugar and enough orange juice to make icing of dripping consistency.
Here is the method, adapted from the rather scant instructions given by a Margaret Stout.
For the sponge, sieve the flour into a large bowl, then add the yeast and sugar and mix in the sourdough starter if using. Gradually add the lukewarm milk, stirring to make a smooth batter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel, or my favourite, a disposable plastic shower cap. Leave to rise in a warm place for an hour.
Prepare the rest of the mixture. Rub the butter into the flour. Add the sultanas, raisins, caster sugar and candied peel or clementine to the butter flour mixture. Beat this mixture into the sponge, once it has risen, and mix in the beaten eggs. Mix well, for about 5 minutes.
Cover the mixture in the bowl with plastic wrap/tea towel/plastic shower cap and leave to rise again for 1 ½ hours.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C fan forced.
Form the dough into small balls, place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cover the tray loosely with a tea towel and prove for 10 to 15 minutes in a warm place.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the buns are a deep brown colour.
Once out of the oven, while warm, brush the tops of the buns with a tablespoon of sugar mixed with a tablespoon of milk.
These buns are delicious eaten as is while warm! You can also eat with lots of butter and jam.
If you think the buns need zhushing, you could drizzle a little icing over the tops, made by mixing icing sugar with enough orange juice to produce a soft icing. I used blood orange juice as they are in season now in Sydney.
These buns keep well as they are enriched with milk, butter and eggs. They are really soft, and they remain soft even after a few days.
I’m so pleased I made them! It wasn’t difficult to adapt the recipe. The results were delicious.
I love looking over my posts from previous years, in the equivalent month. This post is originally from July 2017. I note that it was a balmy 21 degrees C. Today in Sydney has been a chilly 16 degrees C. Winter in Sydney can really vary!
This is a recipe for friands, very similar to the French financiers. I have called them tea cakes in this post, just as Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh, in their wonderful book Sweet, describe little cakes that go well with a cup of tea.
This version features wonderful blood oranges, which have just become available in Sydney.
The recipe is really so versatile, you could add lots of different fruit to the basic recipe. Cherries, pears, raspberries and blueberries work well.
6 egg whites, beaten lightly
75g plain flour
240g icing sugar, sifted
125g almond meal
150g melted butter, cooled
Grated zest and juice of a blood orange
10 tablespoons icing sugar or enough to make a thick glaze.
Optional – some salted pistachio praline to decorate*
Slices of blood orange
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 blood orange, and the juice of one half of the blood 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 blood 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 make the salted pistachio praline, dissolve a couple of tablespoons of caster sugar in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Don’t stir, or the sugar will crystallize. Once the dissolved sugar has turned to a deep toffee colour, pour the praline over a handful of salted pistachios on some baking paper. Once hard, bash the praline into fragments.
I’ll bake anything that involves flour. If it’s yeast based, all the better. And baking with your very own sourdough starter is the ultimate in satisfaction.
So I sometimes forget those lovely bakes that just involve self raising flour or plain flour and baking powder. They can be just as satisfying as yeast baking and are a lot quicker.
I recently acquired Shetland: Baking on the Edge of the World, by James Morton and his father Tom Morton. James is my favourite bread baker and I’ve been cooking his recipes since he first rose to prominence on The Great British Bake-off in 2012.
I was fascinated by his discussion of bannocks, both girdle cooked and oven baked. I’ve made both, but opted for the latter as they were easier to manage and produced a lighter product. I have served them up to friends who seemed to think they were scones… I kind of agree, although this might be an heretical thing to say!
Here’s James’ recipe for oven bannocks as I have made them. I’ve included the original quantities, which makes 16. I have actually made a half quantity each time I’ve produced them. This gives me at least 8 decent sized bannocks, more than enough for a morning or afternoon tea.
550g self-raising flour, plus extra for shaping 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda ½ teaspoon table salt 25g caster sugar 50g butter salted or unsalted (I prefer salted) 280ml buttermilk 150ml natural yoghurt 150ml full fat milk
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced. Line two baking trays with baking paper. Very lightly sprinkle them with flour.
Into a large bowl put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar. Mix these roughly together with a wooden spoon. Add the butter and rub in with your fingers until the mixture resembles floury breadcrumbs.
Add the buttermilk, yoghurt and milk and mix together, then add to the flour using a wooden spoon, doing this quickly so as not to over mix. The mixture will be lumpy and quite wet and will need flour to handle it.
To make the bannocks, heavily flour a work surface, and scrape all the mixture out on top. Add more flour, and pat down the pile of mixture with your hands, into a rough square, about 2cm or ¾ inch thick.
Use a round cutter to cut out bannocks, or cut into rough squares with a knife, and then place the bannocks onto the prepared trays.
Bake the bannocks for about 12-15 minutes, or until light golden all over. You will need to watch them carefully, as there is a point at which they are golden and cooked, but still soft in the middle, and ready to come out of the oven.
Remove from the oven, and leave to cool a little before serving with lashings of butter or cream, and a good jam or conserve.
Brioche, rich and buttery. Not quite cake, not quite bread. Cream buns, oozing with whipped cream and jam. So why not combine the two? This was my thinking when I was baking a few weeks back.
It was ANZAC Day in Sydney, and I felt bad about not baking my usual batch of ANZAC biscuits. Keen to further extend my baking skills in enriched dough, I had the bright idea of making brioche and topping with a mixture of golden syrup, oats and coconut as a nod to the aforementioned biscuit.
Then I thought, what about filling each brioche with whipped cream like a cream bun? Even better!
And yes, it worked a treat. Cream filled brioches with a golden syrup topping. Yummy!
When you try something for the first time, particularly if it’s a tricky yeast based recipe, you need to go to an expert for guidance. Once you’ve mastered the technique, then you can do a little bit of experimentation.
I went to baking guru Paul Hollywood’s recipe for brioche and then added the topping and filling ingredients. Here’s the recipe, with my tweaks.
500g strong white flour 50g caster sugar 10g instant yeast 7g salt 140ml full-fat milk 6 free-range eggs, one of these eggs beaten for egg wash 250g unsalted butter, softened
250ml cream for whipping 1/2 cup golden syrup + extra for drizzling A couple of tablespoons of rolled oats A tablespoon of coconut shavings
Put the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, milk and five eggs into a free-standing electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix for about 5 minutes to a smooth dough.
Add the butter to the dough and mix for a further 5 minutes in the mixer. Leaving the dough in the bowl, cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
The dough should now be stiff and easily shaped.
Grease 12 fluted brioche moulds. You may even have some mixture over, in which case you can bake as brioche rolls.
Cut the dough into 50g pieces. Roughly shape each piece of dough into a ball and put each one into the greased fluted brioche moulds. If you don’t have moulds, you could use a regular muffin pan. Or you can simply shape the dough pieces into balls and bake as rolls.
Leave the brioches in a warm place to rise for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 200C degrees C. Brush each brioche with the egg wash and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden-brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, whip the cream and chill the whipped cream in the fridge. In a small saucepan, heat the golden syrup, rolled oats and coconut shavings until the golden syrup is runny and costs the oats and coconut.
When the brioches are quite cool, cut in half. Pipe or spoon some whipped cream onto the bottom halves, enough to ooze out the sides a little. Place the tops back on. Drizzle the golden syrup/oat/coconut mixture over the tops as much or as little as you desire.
Serve with more drizzles of golden syrup. I like to set the tops of some of the brioches at a jaunty angle, making them look a little bit like open scallop shells, or so I think!