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Category Archives: Sweet Food

Soul Cakes for All Souls’ Day



It’s 2 November, All Souls’ Day, and today I baked Soul  Cakes, the traditional fare for this special day.

 “The cakes, often simply referred to as souls, are given out to soulers who go from door to door, singing and saying prayers for the souls of the givers and their friends.”

The musician Sting has a version of the traditional song “Soul Cake” on his album “If on a Winter’s Night”. Here are some lyrics.

“A soul cake, a soul cake,

Please, good missus, a soul cake.

An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,

Any good thing to make us all merry,

A soul cake, a soul cake,

Please, good missus, a soul cake.

One for Peter, two for Paul,

And three for Him that made us all.”

These souls cakes are half biscuit, half cake. They are heavily spiced, and coloured yellow with a little saffron. I added the zest of a mandarin, an orange is just as good. I made mine quite thick, to be more cake like, and less like a biscuit. I think this works well.

My soul cakes are a little rustic, ie not very pretty, but taste really spicy and are quite more-ish.

While a traditional treat for this day, you could make them anytime as they are super delicious!

Ingredients

100 g butter, softened

100g caster sugar

2 free-range egg yolks

250g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 -1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon saffron

Zest of an orange or mandarin

2 tbs milk

75g sultanas

Method

Put the softened butter, caster sugar and egg yolks in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until everything is combined and the mixture is creamy. Don’t worry if it looks split – the addition of the flour will fix that!

Sift the flour and spices,including the saffron. Put the mixture with the orange/mandarin zest into the processor, blitzing for a couple of seconds only, then blitz in the milk a little at a time until the dough just comes together. Don’t over-mix! If the dough isn’t yellow enough, add a pinch more of saffron.

Stir in the sultanas by hand.

Form the dough into a rough ball, them roll into a sausage shape, with a rough diameter of about 50cm or 2 inches, or whatever size you want your soul cakes to be.

Wrap in grease proof paper and chill in the fridge for a couple oh hours or until you want to bake.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced or 180 degrees C non fan forced.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Take the sausage from the fridge and cut into thick wedges. Place each wedge on the baking tray. At this stage you should cut a cross on the top of each soul cake. I have to admit I forgot to do this today! But I  have included a photo of a prototype batch with crosses. Incidentally these ones looked nicer but didn’t have the lovely rich spicy taste of the version in this post.


Bake for 15 minutes or until firm and just brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Delicious eaten warm! If not eaten on the day they will harden up a bit. The soul cakes can  be frozen too, but eat on the day if possible – All Souls’ Day!

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.

 

 

 

Boozy Buns with Raisins and Sultanas

 


I’m a huge fan of buns, rolls or scrolls, any kind of bread with a sweet filling. I usually make cinnamon scrolls, which are always delicious. This time I wanted to make some sweet buns using boozy fruit from the jar in my store cupboard.

I keep a jar permanently in the cupboard with raisins and sultanas soaking in alcohol. I top up the jar with rum or brandy or even whisky, whatever I have on hand. Stick in a vanilla pod, give the mixture a stir and leave the fruit to macerate. The boozy fruit makes a delicious dessert served over ice cream or with cream or yoghurt, or as a filling for cakes or pastries.

These yeasted buns are full of luscious fruit and almond frangipane, rolled like a scroll, and finished with a golden syrup glaze while still warm. They are pretty easy to make, particularly if you use a mixer with a dough hook. You will need to use a bit of elbow grease if you knead by hand!

Start the buns the day before you want to bake them, and leave in the fridge overnight for the second prove. Then bake them first thing in the morning and eat them warm from the oven for breakfast if you can’t resist the smell of freshly baked sticky buns!

Ingredients 

For the Dough

500g strong flour

7g instant yeast

10g salt

50g caster sugar

250g milk

2 large free range eggs, beaten

50g butter

For the Frangipane

50g butter

50g sugar

60g ground almonds

1 large free range egg

1/2 teaspoon almond essence

Filling + Glaze

300g boozy raisins and sultanas (If you don’t have a jar of prepared fruit, simply put the fruit in a bowl and cover with 1/2 cup of rum, brandy or whisky. Leave to soak for 1/2-1 hour)

100g golden syrup

Icing

100g icing sugar with a little water to make a paste

Method

Put the strong flour into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook or into a large mixing bowl if kneading by hand. Add the instant yeast and salt, making sure the yeast and salt are on opposite sides of the bowl, and the caster sugar. Add the milk which you have warmed to tepid (microwaving is easy) and the beaten eggs. Mix by hand into a rough dough, even if you’re going to use the dough hook in the next stage.

Cover the bowl with a tea towel or my favourite, a plastic shower cap, and rest for 20 minutes. Then move the bowl to the mixer and knead with the dough hook until the mixture is smooth and starting to develop some elasticity, about 5 minutes. Add the butter in small pieces, then knead again for about 5 minutes, using the mixer until the butter is thoroughly incorporated, the dough is smooth and you can achieve the “windowpane” effect. That is, you can pull  some of the dough off the dough hook, between two fingers, stretching it so that it’s translucent.

If you are kneading by hand, you will knead to work the dough really well, in both stages, to get it to the desired silky, elastic stage.

Cover the bowl again and leave in a warm place to prove for about an hour, until the dough is doubled in size. You ideally need a temperature of about 25 degrees C. In winter in Sydney it can be hard to get that temperature, so I usually resort to leaving the bowl near the heating source, and even giving it an extra 30 minutes plus if the dough hasn’t doubled in size.

Make the frangipane while the dough is proving. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and mix. Or you can beat the ingredients together by hand. Either way you want to end up with a smooth paste.

Once the dough is risen, take the dough out of the bowl onto the bench top or ideally a large wooden board. Flour the bench top or board liberally with flour. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough into a large rectangle, as large as you can go, with the dough ending up about 1/2 cm thick. My dough rectangle is usually about 30cm in width by 40-50cm in length.

Smear the frangipane over the entire rectangle of dough. It will look like you haven’t got quite enough, but keep on spreading and you will cover the rectangle.

Drain your boozy raisins and sultanas, and scatter them over the dough. Now carefully roll up the dough along the long side. Using a sharp knife, slice the dough. You should get about 12 slices, give or take.

Line a large baking tin or tray with baking paper. Carefully place each slice, cut side up, into the tin or tray, fitting them snugly together.

Place the tin or tray into a large plastic bag. You will need to make sure you have enough room in your fridge, as you are going to prove the buns in there overnight. Put the tin or tray into the fridge, and leave for 8-12 hours overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced, or 200 degrees C non fan forced. Place a baking tray, or ideally a cast iron pan, in the bottom of the oven, with some water in it, to create steam for your baking.

Remove the plastic bag from the tin/tray and put the buns straight from the fridge into the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until the buns are risen and a deep golden brown.

Remove the buns from the oven. Warm the golden syrup to make it spreadable – 30 seconds in the microwave on low, or gently heat in a saucepan.

While the buns are still still warm, brush all over with the golden syrup. Be generous! You want the buns to be really sticky!

Pull the buns apart, and eat while warm – they are truly delicious and moreish. Or wait till they are cool, and drizzle over some icing. Make the icing by adding water, a teaspoon at a time, to the icing sugar, until you have a paste that you can drizzle over the buns – not too thick but not too runny.

An easy way to drizzle is to put the icing in a zip lock bag and snip the corner off. You can squeeze the icing out of your makeshift piping bag.

Or even easier – dip a fork in the icing and drizzle straight over the buns!

Whether you eat warm or at room temperature, ice or not, these buns are super yummy. They keep for a couple of days, and also freeze well.

But best eaten on the day!

Peach Pudding


I’m a big fan of late night radio – perfect for an insomniac. Recently I heard an interview with Alistair Wise from the bakery Sweet Envy in Hobart here in Australia.

Alistair was talking about winter puddings, a timely topic for our current chilly Southern Hemisphere weather.

Alistair gave a favourite recipe, off the cuff, to Philip Clark, the presenter of Night Life, a national nightly radio program. He called it ”Apple Novel“ – a simple pudding made with apples, poaching liquid and a butter/sugar/flour mix.

I jotted down the quantities and promptly set about making it a few days later. It was so easy and really sensational! I’ve made it twice with pears, and this time I made it with peaches.

Peaches are definitely out of season in Sydney. While shopping at Harris Farm Markets, I picked up some absolutely beautiful peaches from the US. I don’t know what variety they were, they were huge, sweet and very juicy!

So they made their way into my latest version of Apple Novel, now called Peach Pudding.


This dessert can be made with apples, pears or any stone fruit. And I really think you could use tinned pears, peaches or apricots – the advantage being you can use the tinned juice as the liquid in the pudding.

I used apple juice in my peach version, as the peaches didn’t need poaching.

This is such an easy recipe! You can mix it up in 5 minutes, put it into the oven and voila, your pudding is ready to eat in half an hour!

I’ve tweaked the original recipe, cutting down on the sugar somewhat.

Great recipe, easy make!

Ingredients 

3 large peaches*

100g self raising flour

50g butter cut into small pieces

100g caster sugar

250ml apple juice (or any other fruit juice)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Cut the peaches into quarters. Lay the peach quarters into a baking dish. I used a shallow cast iron pan.

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 apple juice and roughly mix together. The mixture should look curdled, but that’s ok as you’re not looking for a cake mixture consistency.

Pour the mixture over the peaches. Put into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the pudding is brown on top.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly. When you serve the pudding, there will be a lovely baked layer on top, and underneath soft fruit in a thick sauce.

Serve with thick cream or ice cream. Delicious served warm or even cold. And so easy!

*You could use apples or fresh pears, but you will need to poach them to cook them partially. You can then use the poaching liquid as the liquid in the batter.

 

 

Lemon Yoghurt Sheet Cake

 





I was debating whether this was a sheet cake or a traybake. I guess it’s the former, as it’s more a cake than a “slice”, the Australian version of a traybake, and baked as a sheet in a 13” x 9” cake pan.

Lemon and yoghurt go well together and create a moist cake, and topped with a lemon glaze makes it extra lemony!

Ingredients

Cake batter:

250g butter, softened 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

250g caster sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

3 free-range eggs

250g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

100g Greek yoghurt

Juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon milk

Lemon glaze:

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Enough icing sugar to make a thin but spreadable icing

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced.  

Line a 13” x 9” cake pan with baking paper. Beat butter, vanilla and sugar in a food processor until well creamed.

Add the lemon zest. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in the flour and baking powder, the yoghurt and the lemon juice, in 2 batches. Stir in the tablespoon of milk.

Spread mixture into the pan. Bake about 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the cake  comes out clean. 

Cool in the pan, then turn the sheet cake out onto a wire rack.

For the glaze, mix the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to make a spreadable glaze. It’s rather hard to say how much, just keep adding icing sugar a little at a time until you get the right consistency.

Spread on top of the sheet cake, no need to be too precise, this is more of a glaze than an icing and should drip down the cake.

Baked Cheesecake with Salted Caramel Sauce

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Baked cheesecake. An oldie but a goodie. One of the best desserts there is, in my book. This recipe is from the vault – made for a lunch with friends at Palm Beach, both good cooks, so I needed to impress!

A classic baked cheesecake is made even more luscious with a sour cream topping. And  a bit more decadent with a salted caramel sauce and salted praline bits and pieces.

Cheesecake

Ingredients

Crumb Crust
230g sweet biscuits (half plain, half ginger nut)
1/2 level teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 level teaspoon cinnamon
85g butter

Cream Cheese Filling
500g cream cheese
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 free-range eggs

Topping
1 carton (280ml) sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 dessertspoon lemon juice
1 level tablespoon sugar

Method

Crush biscuits very finely in a food processor and add the nutmeg and cinnamon. Melt butter in a saucepan, remove from heat and quickly stir in biscuit crumbs.

Press firmly into greased 22cm springform tin bringing mixture at least half way up the sides of the tin.

Put cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice in the food processor and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, whizzing after each addition.

Pour mixture into uncooked crumb crust and bake in a moderate oven at 180 degrees C for 30 minutes. Remove from oven.

Beat together the topping ingredients and pour over hot cheesecake. Return to oven and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Cool, then store in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

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Salted  Praline

Heat 1 cup of caster sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Be careful not to stir the sugar – tilt the saucepan to help melt the sugar. Cook for several minutes until the sugar turns a deep caramel tea colour and take off the heat. It’s a fine line between toffee that’s cooked and toffee that’s burnt!

Add 1/2 tsp of sea salt flakes and pour onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Quickly scatter over a handful of flaked almonds.

Leave to cool and harden. When completely cold, place the praline in a ziplock bag and bash into pieces with a mallet or rolling pin. Make sure you have small fragments, larger pieces, and some large shards for decoration.

Salted Caramel Sauce

Ingredients
200g sugar
75ml double cream
50g butter, cubed
½ tsp sea salt flakes

Method

Put the sugar in a  saucepan with 50ml water. Gently heat on low, swirling the pan but not stirring, until just melted.  Simmer gently, swirling regularly, until the liquid is very dark golden caramel. Remove the saucepan from the heat then carefully and quickly whisk in the cream and butter. Be careful as the mixture will splutter. Keep whisking until smooth, then beat in the salt. Let cool. You can make the caramel in advance.  Put in the refrigerator but bring back to room temperature before using.

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Luscious Lemon Pie


Everyone loves lemons and everyone loves pies, so a really tangy, deep and luscious lemon pie is a wonderful thing. This lemon pie is pretty easy to make. The base is made with crushed biscuit and nuts, with three ingredients, and the filling has just three ingredients too!

I make the pie with an Italian meringue topping. You don’t have to have this – you could just as easily serve it with whipped cream on top, or simpler still, pile up a whole heap of lovely fresh berries like raspberries or blueberries on the pie, and the berries cut through the sweetness of the filling.

I have made this pie with ordinary and with Meyer lemons, and while not essential, Meyer lemons give the pie a lovely flavour.

Ingredients 

Biscuit Base

160g ginger nut biscuits + 90g digestive biscuits (McVities are my fave)

80g salted macadamias (you could use almonds if you like)

100g butter

Filling 

2 tins sweetened condensed milk

4 large free-range egg yolks

Juice of 4 lemons + the juice of 1/2 lemon 

Zest of 1 lemon

Meringue Topping (optional)

100g caster sugar

2 free-range egg whites

Pinch of cream of tartar

Method

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan-forced. You will need a 20cm pie/tart tin or dish. A larger tin or dish is fine, you will end up with a shallower pie. A loose bottom tin, while not essential, makes it easier to get the pie out of the tin.

Put the biscuits and macadamias into a ziplock bag and bash with a rolling pin or mallet till you have a rubble of biscuit pieces and crumbs. Place the biscuit/nut mixture into a food processor, and blitz until you have mostly fine crumbs with a few larger biscuit and nut pieces. Melt the butter in a microwave or on the stovetop.

Stir the butter through the biscuit/nut mixture. Press the mixture into the tin, on the base and up the sides. Keep pressing with your fingers to make sure the base covers the tin and there are no holes. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the base is firm. Remove from the oven.

While the base is cooking, put the condensed milk, egg yolks, lemon juice and zest into the food processor and whizz until everything is well blended. Pour onto the warm base. The mixture should come almost up to the top of the tin. You may end up with a little too much lemon mixture, you can always bake this in a little tin or muffin mold and you have an extra dessert! Cook’s treat!

Bake for 20 minutes or until just set but the middle still has a slight wobble. You might like to check it after 17 or 18 minutes. Everyone’s oven is different and some ovens cook faster then others.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before removing from the tin. Or, if your pie is baked in a dish, leave as is. Chill in the fridge for at least a few hours.

Meringue topping (if using)

Combine sugar and 100ml water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook until syrup reaches 115C (soft ball stage) using a thermometer.

Now whisk the egg whites with cream of tartar on medium speed in a grease-free bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Cook the sugar syrup to 121C (hard ball stage). With the mixer speed still on medium, carefully and gradually pour the syrup into the beaten egg whites. Increase speed to high and beat until the meringue is cooled to room temperature and it is thick and glossy.

Spoon the meringue into a piping beg with a plain nozzle, or you could just use a ziplock bag with the end snipped off – works a treat! Pipe in whatever way you like  on top of the lemon pie. Scorch with a kitchen blow torch for added wow!

Serve with whipped cream and berries, lemon slices and anything else you fancy.

Vanilla and White Chocolate Fun Cake

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Here’s one from the vault – a simple vanilla and white chocolate cake pimped with some hundreds and thousands or sprinkles.

Usually these are just used as decoration on the icing on top of the cake, but I folded a few through the cake batter too – for a bit more fun!

This is a beautiful moist butter cake with a rich vanilla and white chocolate flavour. It is a colourful cake with hundreds and thousands baked into the mixture and sprinkled on top.

Lots of butter cream icing flavoured with vanilla paste makes it really yummy!

Butter Cake

Ingredients

250 gms butter softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups caster sugar

3 eggs

2 1/4 cups self-raising flour

3/4 cup milk

100 gms white chocolate, melted

A handful to taste of hundreds and thousands

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced. Grease and line a 22 cm round cake tin.

Beat butter, extract and sugar in a food processor until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in flour and milk in 2 batches.  Stir in melted white chocolate. Gently mix in hundreds and thousands.

Spread mixture into the tin. Bake about 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of  cake comes out clean. Stand in cake tin until cake is cool. Turn out onto wire rack.

Butter Icing

3 tbls softened butter

Enough icing sugar to make a butter cream

1 tbs milk

1 tsp vanilla paste

2 tsps hundreds and thousands

Method

Cream butter with icing sugar, adding more icing sugar and the milk to make a smooth paste. Add vanilla paste.

The main thing is to add as much icing sugar sugar as is necessary to reach the required icing consistency that will be thick enough to stay on the cake but not too stiff.

Ice the cake, top and sides, and scatter hundreds and thousands on top of the cake.

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Poached Quince Tart



May 2020. Two months into isolation in the era of Covid 19. Things are looking a little brighter – Australia has some great statistics in dealing with the virus, and some restrictions are being lifted. I was very excited to be able to visit the wonderful Orange Grove Market the Saturday before last, the market opened again for fresh food. I’ll be there this Saturday, eager to pick up some lovely local  produce.

Autumn in Sydney means the start of the quince season, and I bought some beautiful quince the other day. With no particular recipe in mind, I just needed their heady perfume in the kitchen.
Of course I had to cook with them – I poached them to a deep, deep red ruby colour, in a sugar syrup and vanilla. I put half the poached quince into a short crust pastry tart, and I’ll be making a fabulous quince crumble/betty recipe with the rest this weekend.
Here’s the tart recipe. There’s no other filling apart from the quince – you could fill it first with a frangipane or creme patissiere, but I think pastry, quince and a good spoonful of cream or Greek yoghurt is sufficient.
Ingredients

Poached quince
2 quince

300g caster sugar

500ml water

Thinly peeled rind and juice of an orange

1 vanilla bean, split in half

1 tablespoon butter

Short Crust Pastry
250g plain flour

50g icing sugar

125g unsalted butter (cold)

Zest of half a lemon

1 free-range egg

Splash of milk

Method

Preheat oven to 120 degrees C. You will need a large casserole that you can put on the stove top and then transfer to the oven. A cast iron casserole is ideal.
Peel and core the quinces, reserving the peel and cores. Cut each quince into eighths, but don’t worry if you can’t cut neat slices – quinces are notoriously hard to manage!
Put the sugar, water, orange rind and vanilla bean into a large casserole on the stove top over a medium heat, and stir to dissolve sugar. Add the quince pieces. Cover the quinces with a cartouche, a circle of baking paper. Lay the peel and cores on top of the baking paper. Place the lid on the casserole and put in the pre-heated oven.
Bake until the quince is ruby red. This should take about 4-6 hours. You should check the quince after 3 hours to see if it is turning red. Remove the quince and strain and reserve the quince liquid. You can discard the peel and cores. Keep the vanilla bean, dry it and pop it in a jar of sugar to create vanilla flavoured sugar.

To make the pastry, sift the flour and icing sugar together, and put into the bowl of a food processor.   Add the cubed butter. Carefully pulse the flour, sugar and butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Pulse in the lemon zest.
Mix the egg and a splash of milk, and add this to the mixture, and pulse a few times until the dough comes together into a ball. If you’re having trouble, you can add some iced water, literally a drop or two at a time, to help form the dough into a ball. Be careful not to overwork the dough, as it will end up being tough.
Place a large piece of baking paper or cling film on your work surface. Tip the dough from the food processor onto the baking paper/cling film, and pat into a round. Cover the round with more paper/cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C, or 170 degrees C fan forced. Remove the pastry from the fridge. Grease an 18cm (7inch) tart tin. A 20cm tin would work too, you would simply roll the pastry a little thinner.
The easiest way to roll out the pastry is between 2 sheets of baking paper. Put the pastry onto one sheet, cover with the other sheet, and using a rolling pin, roll into a round big enough to fit into your tart tin. Ease the rolled pastry into the tin.  Put the tin into the freezer for at least 30 minutes, to make sure the pastry is really cold.
Remove the tin from the freezer. Line the tin with baking paper, and fill with pie weights. Dried beans or rice will work just as well. Bake for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the paper and weights. Return the pastry to the oven and bake for further 5-10 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

To assemble the tart, carefully take the tart shell from the tin and place on a plate. Choose the nicest pieces of quince and arrange in the tart shell.
Put about 50mls of the reserved quince liquid into a saucepan with the tablespoon of butter, and cook until the butter is incorporated.
Spoon a little of this quince buttery liquid over the tart, which will give it a nice glaze. I scattered a few sprigs of my favourite herb, lemon thyme, over the tart. Serve with spoonfuls of the aforementioned cream or Greek yoghurt!

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