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Category Archives: Sweet Food

Lockdown Weekend Waffles

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

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

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

Martha’s original recipe is here.

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

Ingredients

2 cups plain (all-purpose flour)

2 tablespoons sugar 

2 teaspoons baking powder 

1 teaspoon bi-carbonate soda (baking soda)

1/2 teaspoon salt 

2 cups buttermilk 

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 free-range eggs

Method

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.

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

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

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

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

Strawberry and Lemon Pudding

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

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

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

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

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

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

Method

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

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

Add the lemon juice and roughly mix together.

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

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

Serve with thick cream or ice cream.

Apple and Ricotta Ciambella

A ciambella is an Italian ring-shaped cake with lots of regional variations, so my research tells me. It’s a breakfast or afternoon tea cake, but it will double nicely as a dessert cake too. I’d never made one before – it looks wonderful so inviting – so I thought I’d give it a go.

If you’re looking for a simple cake that looks fancy and tastes delicious this is for you! The recipe is adapted from a couple of great recipes from Silvia Colloca and SBS Food .

Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

2 large apples

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon + extra juice for sprinkling

3 eggs

180g raw sugar

50g extra virgin olive oil

170g ricotta

200 g self-raising flour

75g almond meal

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

1 tablespoon orange liqueur

1 tablespoon golden syrup, warmed,for glazing

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. Non fan forced seems to work better for this cake.

Butter and flour any Bundt tin – a plain ring tin or something more fancy!

Peel the apples. Chop one of the apples into small chunks, and the other into thin slices. Sprinkle with a little lemon juice to prevent from browning.

Place the eggs and caster sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, and using the whisk attachment, whisk on low speed increasing to medium until the mixture is pale and creamy.

Add the olive oil and ricotta and whisk on a low speed just until the mixture is smooth and free from lumps.

Sift the flour, almond meal and baking powder and fold into the batter.

Stir in the lemon zest and juice, vanilla, orange liqueur and the chopped apple.

Pour the batter into the Bundt tin. Place the apple slices around the ring, overlapping each other.

Put the cake into the oven and bake for about 35–45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely in the tin, then loosen the cake around the edges with a palette knife.

Carefully turn the cake out onto a plate and then even more carefully turn the cake the right way up.

Brush the top of the cake and apple slices with the warmed golden syrup.

Serve on its own or pretty much with whatever you fancy – I served it as a dessert with a strawberry compote and plenty of lemon curd!

Breakfast Trifle with Granola Dust

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Granola Dust is a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s healthy take on food Everyday Super Food. It’s basically a granola mix blitzed in the food processor until the mix becomes pulverized. Great for serving with fresh fruit, or just sprinkling over muesli to add another texture.

Breakfast Trifle is a heathy and easy brekkie idea, using Granola Dust that you’ve already made up and have in the store cupboard.

To make a Breakfast Trifle, start of with a layer of Greek yoghurt, then add any mixed mixed berries you like, scatter some Granola Dust on top and finish with a drizzle of honey. You can make this in a jar or in a bowl. You don’t have to limit yourself to berries – stone fruit in summer, or poached apples or pears in winter would be great!

You can adjust the quantities depending on whether you’re making breakfast trifle for one or a large one for the family! The idea is to have fairly equal layers of Granola Dust, fruit and yoghurt.

The quantities for Granola Dust in the recipe are what Jamie Oliver specifies in his book. I thought that sounded rather a lot, so I made a quarter of the mix – this gave me half a large jar’s worth of Granola Dust.

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Ingredients

1kg porridge oats

250g unsalted mixed nuts such as walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, cashews

100g mixed seeds such as chia, poppy,sunflower, sesame, linseed, pumpkin

250g mixed dried fruit such as blueberries, cranberries, sour cherries mango, apricots, figs, sultanas

3 tablespoons quality cocoa powder

1 tablespoon freshly ground coffee

1 orange

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.  Place the oats, nuts and seeds in a large baking tray. Toss together and roast for 15 minutes, stirring halfway.

Stir the dried fruit, cocoa and coffee into the mix, finely grate over the orange zest, then in batches, blitz in the food processor till the mixture forms a rough powder or dust.

Transfer to a large glass jar (or jars) to store.

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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.

Healthy Banana Bread

Everyone loves banana bread! But the banana bread you get in cafes is really banana cake – too sweet and too “cakey” in texture! I picked up this recipe from a television show Hemsley +Hemsley: Healthy and Delicious. The Helmsley sisters cook food that is natural and healthy – grain, gluten and refined sugar free.

This banana bread is made with coconut flour and coconut oil. The sweetness comes from the bananas and some treacle and golden syrup. It does have 3 eggs. The bread cuts into 12 slices easily, so I think that distributes the extra calories quite well!

It’s a much healthier bread than the usual sweet and cake-like cafe offerings.

As usual I made my version with a few tweaks. You could really add anything you like – nuts or seeds would be great, and honey would be a great sweetener too. The treacle in my version gave a lovely, malty flavour and rich dark colour.

And it’s a throw-in-the-food-processor recipe so it takes no time to prepare.

One more thing – it keeps forever! It doesn’t dry out, and keeps really moist.


Ingredients

350g or 3 medium size bananas, mashed

60g  coconut flour

1 /2 tbs cinnamon

1 pinch salt

3 free-range eggs

50g coconut oil, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 tsp bi-carbonate of soda

1 tbs apple cider vineagr

1/2 tbs treacle

1/2 tbs golden syrup

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Put all the ingredients (except the golden syrup) into a food processor and whizz until smooth.  Spoon into the prepared tin. Drizzle over the golden syrup onto the top of the mixture.

Bake for 50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack completely before turning out of the tin.

I served my banana bread with cashew butter and fresh figs. The bread is quite sweet, so the cashew butter works well. Peanut, or any nut butter would be fine.

Blackberry and Apple Muffins

These little bakes are super delicious, Moist and tender and full of flavour. I do recommend making them as they are super easy and the mixture can be stored ahead and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to bake.

You can vary the fillings and flavours very easily as I regularly do, to create a new bake. The only ingredient you need to include is a grated apple or pear as this gives the muffins their moist texture.

I like a teaspoon of ground ginger in these muffins but you could substitute cinnamon or another spice according to taste.

This recipe gives enough mixture to make 6 medium to large muffins. Double it for 12.

I made these muffins in a quirky Silverwood muffin tin, available pretty easily in the UK, but if you’re in Australia like me, you will need to go to Blackwood Lane in Melbourne to buy them. An ordinary muffin tin works just as well.

Ingredients

2 free-range eggs

140g raw sugar

100g apples, unpeeled and grated

75ml vegetable oil

150g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ tsp salt

A handful of blackberries for the mixture plus extra for decoration

Glaze

2 or 3 puréed blackberries with a squeeze of lime or lemon and enough icing sugar to make a glaze.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees fan-forced 180 degrees non fan-forced.

Using an electric mixer and the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs until they are foamy. Then slowly pour in the sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size.

Still using the whisk, mix in the grated apple and oil. With a metal spoon or spatula, gently fold in the flour, baking powder, ginger and salt.

The mixture can be baked straight away, but leaving it in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight gives the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture.

When ready to bake, grease your muffin tin. If you want to use a fancy tin, my advice is to butter and flour very carefully to avoid the muffins sticking. I actually butter the molds, stick in the fridge for 10 minutes, then butter again, and finally flour.

If using a traditional muffin tin, after greasing you can line the holes with large squares of baking paper to encase the muffins.

Spoon in the muffin mixture to fill the cavities 3/4 full.

At this point pop several blackberries into each muffin, mixing in carefully. The blackberries are put in last to stop them breaking up too much.

Place the muffins in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, inserting a skewer into the muffins to check if they are cooked.

Remove the muffins from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. Carefully remove from the tin, leaving the baking paper case on, if using, and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the blackberry glaze, purée the blackberries and put through a sieve to remove the seeds. Mix with the lime or lemon juice and enough icing sugar to achieve the desired consistency.

Spoon the blackberry glaze over the muffins, allowing a little to drop down the sides.

Optional: a blackberry placed on top of each muffin for decoration.

Cinnamon Sugar Pastry Scrolls

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I’ve been baking with yeast or sourdough for so long that I’m in danger of forgetting that there are some pretty nice pastries to be made just using good old all purpose flour!

So here’s a recipe from the vault for deliciously soft and tender scrolls, with a cinnamon sugar filling, made with plain or all purpose flour. You can knock these up in half an hour – and doesn’t that beat all that time spent proving a batch of yeast based cinnamon pastries!

Of course you can fill these with a whole lot of different toppings too – dried fruit, chocolate or chopped nuts to name a few.

Ingredients

Dough
2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/4 cups thickened cream

Filling
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/8 cup caster sugar and 1/8 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Icing
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk

Extra caster sugar and cinnamon for dusting

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C non fan forced, 160 degrees C fan forced.
Place flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the cream until just combined. If the dough is a little dry, add a little more cream carefully.

Lightly flour a board and turn the mixture onto the board.
Knead the dough on the floured surface until only just incorporated.
Roll the dough into a large rectangle.

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Combine sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush the dough rectangle with melted butter.
Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the dough.

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Roll the dough from the longest side to form a scroll. Cut into 10 fat slices or 16 smaller slices slices.

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Place slices onto a baking tray.
Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden (the bigger the slices, the longer the cooking time).
Place on a wire rack and dust with the additional cinnamon and sugar while still hot.
Make the icing by mixing the icing sugar and the milk in a small bowl.
Pour the icing over the scrolls.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Will keep for a couple of days but best eaten on the day or soon thereafter!

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.

ANZAC Biscuits 2021

I love seasonal baking, and 25 April is ANZAC Day. ANZAC biscuits are traditionally baked and eaten around this date.

This day commemorates the contribution of Australian and New Zealand soldiers to World War One.

I’m quite pleased with this year’s biscuits. I have tweaked my normal recipe, which is based on the “original” ANZAC recipe from The Cook and the Curator, the cooking blog of Sydney Living Museums. I picked up a few good tips from Cloudy Kitchen’s ANZAC biscuit recipe.

The first of these tips was to brown the butter, to give more depth of flavour. To make the brown butter, you need to start of with a slightly bigger quantity of butter, to make up for the loss of volume when browning. I therefore adjusted the butter up in the ingredients section.

The second tip was to cook the biscuits at a lower temperature than I would normally use – this stops the biscuits spreading too much. The result is a plump biscuit, crisp around the edges and squidgy in the middle!

The third tip was to cook both trays at the same time in the oven, as the mixture changes consistency when left for a while before cooking.

So here are my “revised” 2021 ANZAC biscuits!

Ingredients

165g salted butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup brown sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. Line 2 oven trays with baking paper.

Place the butter in a small saucepan and heat until melted. Once the butter is melted, cook for about 3-4 minutes, swirling the pan often. The butter will foam and turn a golden brown. Remove from the heat and put into a bowl to cool slightly.

Combine the melted butter and golden syrup in the same saucepan. Add the bicarbonate of soda and boiling water and whisk to combine. Remove from heat.

Mix the rolled oats, flour and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter/golden syrup mixture and stir until well combined.

Take tablespoons of mixture and make into balls. Place the balls onto the baking trays, allowing space for spreading. Don’t flatten the balls!

Bake for 15 minutes or until biscuits are dark golden brown. Remove the biscuits from the oven and cool on the trays. The biscuits will firm up as they cool. Now remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight tin. They keep well for a few days.

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