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.
There’s always a dilemma when making sourdough, that is, what to do with left over starter. I often add sourdough starter to baking with man-made yeast, for added rise and that extra sourdough flavour.
Making sourdough crumpets is another favourite. There are recipes that suggest only using starter, with bicarbonate of soda added of course. Having tried these recipes, I’m not a fan of the resulting intensely “sour” flavour of the crumpets.
So I have experimented with a few versions and have come up with a recipe that is now my go-to crumpet recipe. In fact it’s easier than ordinary recipes involving man-made yeast!
The quantities are simple: equal amounts of strong flour, sourdough starter and water, plus a little salt and sugar and the bicarb. No proving or waiting involved. And the result is beautiful, flavoursome, dense crumpets complete with those crumpet holes!
200g strong flour
200g sourdough starter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2-3 tablespoons butter for cooking/greasing
You will need a fairly large frying pan for the recipe plus crumpet rings. I used to use silicone egg rings until I invested in proper metal crumpet rings. The egg rings are fine, but I do like the stability of the metal rings.
Mix the flour, sourdough starter and water to a smooth paste. Add the salt and sugar and mix again. Add the bicarb. At this stage you will see some bubbles from the bicarb reaction. I get varying degrees of bubbles but I find that the crumpets still do their thing even when there are less bubbles.
Add a tablespoon of butter to the pan and melt over low heat. Once the butter melts, use a pastry brush to carefully butter 4 crumpet rings. I use this method as it saves on melting butter separately. Add another tablespoon of butter, turn up the heat to medium and leave the rings in the pan to heat up.
Now it’s time to cook the crumpets. Several important things to remember. Clean the crumpet rings in between cooking and butter again, otherwise the crumpets are in danger of sticking. Fill the crumpet rings half to three quarters full. Half for a traditional size crumpet and three quarters for a whopper size. I like my crumpets thick but I’ve learned from experience that filling the rings with too much mixture means the crumpets spill over the top and quite frankly end up so thick they don’t fit in the toaster!
Cook the number of crumpets that can fit in your pan. In my case, I can cook three at a time. I’ve always got the fourth ring ready to go with more mixture. Keep on cooking until you’ve used all the mixture. I usually get 6-9 crumpets from a mixture.
Fill each ring with the required amount of mixture and leave for a good 6-10 minutes to cook. The crumpets should rise and have almost cooked through. Remove the rings with tongs and flip over. The crumpets should be brown underneath. (If you can’t remove the rings don’t worry, turn the crumpets over in the rings and then remove the rings once cooked.)
Cook for a couple of minutes on the second side until brown. Remove from the pan. I find that the crumpets don’t all cook at the same rate so I remove them at different times.
Use the remaining tablespoon of butter as necessary to butter the rings for the next rounds of crumpets and also to add a little more butter to the pan as you cook more crumpets.
A word on holes. When you cook the first side, after a few minutes you will see the trademark holes forming on the top. The holes develop and pop as the mixture dries out.
I give the holes a helping hand, by popping the emerging holes with a skewer. I think this is quite acceptable as the ultimate aim in having holes is to allow more butter to be absorbed!
The crumpets, as is traditional, need to be toasted. Don’t be tempted to eat them untoasted just because they are freshly made!
I make these crumpets whenever I have left over starter after bread making and sometimes I top up my starter just to make a batch of crumpets.
They also freeze beautifully – I always have a few packs of crumpets ready to unfreeze and then toasted.
I serve them with lots of butter and good quality honey or jam. In the photos I served them with my homemade strawberry conserve, recipe here.
If you’re a dedicated sourdough bread maker, this is the perfect recipe to use that precious starter you have worked so hard to develop and want to put to good use.
I love having morning and afternoon teas. It’s a great way to catch up with friends and I like the fact that I can prepare everything in advance, from cakes to scones to sandwiches.
A big favourite is my Victoria Sponge. It’s a delicious cake, and filled with jam or cream, it’s so more-ish. The recipe is based on one from James and Tom Morton’s “Shetland, Cooking on the Edge of the World”.
James describes in vivid detail his grandmother’s recipe. It really is a tribute to her baking skills and to recipes handed down through the family.
Now Queen Victoria would not be at all amused, as I fill my sponge with cream. Sacrilege I know, but I love the ooze of softly whipped cream on top of jam in between those delicious sponge layers!
150g salted butter
150g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 medium free-range eggs
150g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Full fat milk, to loosen mixture
To fill and decorate
Strawberry or raspberry or mixed berry jam, homemade or store bought,
200 mls cream, whipped
Icing sugar or caster sugar, for the top of the cake
Fresh and crystallised rose petals
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, 160 degrees C fan-forced. Grease 2 18cm (7 inch) cake tins with butter, really really well.
Take a large piece baking or parchment paper, fold in half, and draw a circle around one of the tins. With the drawing as a guide, cut out 2 circles. Line the base of each cake tin with the paper circles.
Heat the butter in a microwave or in a saucepan on the stove top, to the point where half the butter is just melted, and the rest is soft. Put the butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs into a mixing bowl, or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, and whisk on medium speed until the mixture is very pale and thick, almost mousse like.
Sieve the flour and baking powder, and fold these in gently using a metal spoon, being careful not to overmix. When the mixture is nearly smooth, add a little milk, a dash at a time, to loosen the mixture “until it falls from the spoon in a swift wave”.
Spoon the mixture into the tins, gently smoothing flat. Put the cakes into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown on top and the cakes bounce back when gently pressed.
Take out of the oven, and cool in the tins for 10 minutes. Run a butter or palette knife around the edge of the tins to free the sides. Carefully turn the cakes onto a wire cooling rack. Peel off the baking/parchment paper. Leave to completely cool.
Place one cake, upside down on the plate or cake stand you intend to serve the cake on. Spread with the jam, and then spoon or pipe on the whipped cream. Place the other cake on top.
Dust with icing or caster sugar, sieved over the cake. I like to serve the cake with fresh and crystallised rose petals.
For the crystallised rose petals:
Take one lovely rose, hopefully growing in your garden, and gently wash and dry each petal. Lightly beat an egg white, with a few drops of rosewater, in a small shallow bowl. Dip each petal in the beaten egg white, shaking off any excess. Put 75g caster sugar on a large plate. Dip each petal in the caster sugar, again shaking off the excess. Place the petals on baking paper on a tray, to dry, in a warm place.
The petals are quite fragile, but will last a couple of days. They are very useful for decorating cakes, biscuits and tarts. And adding the rosewater intensifies the rose flavour!
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.
This recipe has become my go-to recipe for an easy, full proof flavoursome cake. I make it as one cake or lots of little ones, in different tins and moulds. As someone who has problems with cakes sticking to tins, I’m very impressed that the cakes turn out every time!
The recipe comes originally from the taste website. I have tweaked and made variations many times. The link to the original recipe is here.
I posted the rosewater version a while back. I have also made an orange blossom cake using the same basic recipe. Here is the recipe for both versions.
I really suggest that you try your own variations using different flavours, such as coffee or mocha, or folding in a handful of fresh berries such as blueberries or raspberries. It’s such a great recipe, it’s worth trying the possibilities!
Ingredients 250ml canola or vegetable oil 330g caster sugar 2 free-range eggs 280g Greek yoghurt 300g self-raising flour, sifted 150g icing sugar, sifted For the Rosewater Cake: 2 tablespoons rosewater and 1-2 drops pink food colouring For the Orange Blossom Cake: 1 tablespoon orange blossom water, 1-2 drops yellow food colouring and the juice of half an orange
Method Preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Grease and flour a large Bundt mould or a 22cm cake tin.
Place the oil, caster sugar and eggs in the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined. Pulse in the yoghurt, followed by the flour. Stir in half the rosewater for the rosewater cake. Stir in all the orange blossom water for the orange blossom cake.
Pour the mixture into the bundt mould or the regular cake tin.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Just make sure you keep checking with a skewer for “doneness” after 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven, and cool for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For icing the rosewater cake: place the icing sugar in a bowl with remaining rosewater and pink food colouring. Gradually stir in enough warm water to make a smooth icing, slightly runny.
For icing the orange blossom cake, place the icing sugar in a bowl with the yellow food colouring and enough of the orange juice to make a smooth icing, slightly runny.
Drizzle the icing over the cake, letting the icing drop down the sides. Decorate with edible flowers, crystallised rose petals and candied orange.
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.
As the title implies, this is a recipe for a Chelsea style bun. But the thing that makes it different is that mashed banana is incorporated through the dough, giving the bun a real banana hit!
They look and taste great, but I got a bit worried that you can’t see any banana, so I did do some decoration with a few banana slices and some toffee. I think this was “gilding the lily”. They’re fine on their own!
Filling 1/4 cup butter 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup hazelnut praline paste (This paste is sometimes hard to source, so you could substitute Nutella)
Icing 200g icing sugar Enough water to make a smooth paste
Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Put the tepid water, yeast and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Leave it to sit for a few minutes, to allow the yeast to start to activate.
When the mixture is frothy, add the buttermilk and the mashed bananas. Mix well using the dough hook.
Add the flour and salt mixture to the bowl and continue to mix with the dough hook on low speed the dough is smooth and starts to become elastic. Add the vegetable oil and mix until the dough becomes soft and silky.
Form the dough into a ball and place it into a clean bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film, or my favourite, a disposable plastic shower cap. I always use shower caps to rise dough, as they neatly fit over the top of the bowl! Allow to dough to rise for 60-90 minutes, until roughly doubled in size.
Towards the end of rise, get your filling ready. Melt the butter gently in a microwave on low, and have your brown sugar and praline paste/Nutella on hand.
Flour a work surface. Turn out the dough and knead gently for a few minutes until the dough is soft and pliable.
Roll out the dough into a big, long rectangle. The rectangle should be about 20cm wide. It’s hard to say how long the rectangle is, at least 50 cms, but it could be longer. I judge by the thickness of the dough, rolling out to get a decent length, but you do want dough that’s not too thin, just thick enough to encase the filling.
Spread the melted butter over the dough rectangle, then sprinkle over the brown sugar. Dot the dough with the praline paste or Nutella, as you can’t really spread the paste.
Roll up the dough along its long edge into as tight a cylinder you can get, being careful as the dough is quite hard to manage. Slice the cylinder into roughly equal pieces using a sharp knife. I usually get about 12 buns per cylinder, but the number of buns will vary depending on how large you want the finished product.
Line a large baking tray with baking paper and arrange the buns cut end down. Cover the tray with cling film or put inside a large plastic bag. I have several of these that I have rescued after I’ve had something delivered. Leave to rise for another 60-90 minutes at room temperature, until the buns are noticeable bigger, but not necessarily doubled in size.
15 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced.
Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until the buns are a deep golden brown colour. You can check after 15 minutes to make sure the buns are not browning too quickly – if so, cover the top with foil for the last part of the baking.
Remove from the oven, and cool to room temperature. Once the buns are cooled, drizzle with water icing.
For the icing, mix the icing sugar with enough water until the icing is thick but of dropping consistency. Drizzle the icing over the buns using a fork or spoon.
The Banana Chelsea is now ready to eat! But if you want to prove the bun is actually a banana Chelsea, by all means top with a slice or two of banana and even a few toffee shards. I did do this, but really, the buns taste like banana, so there’s really no need for additional advertising!