Coffee and walnuts, a match made in heaven. This is a simple but very delicious cake, great for the afternoon tea table. There’s not much to do to decorate the cake apart from icing it, so I’m calling it a “rustic” cake. You could go fancy if you wanted to!
You mix most of the ingredients at the same time, so it’s a kind of one bowl cake. You just add the coffee dissolved in milk and walnuts at the end.
Bake the cake in two layers, fill and ice with buttercream. You could easily make this as cupcakes as well!
50g ground almonds
125g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
125g caster sugar
2 large free-range eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons instant coffee powder
2 tablespoons milk
50g chopped walnuts + a few extra for decorating
125g butter, softened
250g icing sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons instant coffee
1 tablespoon milk
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Grease two 18cm (7″) cake tins.
Put all the ingredients except the milk, coffee and walnuts into an electric mixer and mix until smooth and well incorporated. Dissolve the instant coffee into the milk, and add together with the chopped walnuts into the mixture.
Divide the batter equally between the two tins. Place the tins in the oven and bake for 25- 30 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and golden on top, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven, leave in the tins for 5 minutes before carefully turning out of the tins to cool on a wire rack.
In a food processor, cream together the butter and icing sugar until light an fluffy. Dissolve the instant coffee into the milk. Add this mixture to the icing, process until light and creamy.
When cakes are completely cool, spread half of the buttercream icing on the bottom layer, and top with the second layer.
Roughly ice the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the buttercream using a palette knife. When you get to the sides, occasionally dip the palette knife into cold water as you ice to remove some of the thicker icing and to create the “naked icing” effect. The idea is that the top of the cake is well iced and that the side sides are stripped back for a more rustic look.
I haven’t put up any posts on sourdough bread recently, which is surprising as I make a loaf one a week or so. Possibly because bread making is so much a part of my routine and I am making pretty similar loaves each week.
However recently I have been experimenting with nut and fruit sourdough – bread that’s somewhere between a savoury and a sweet loaf. I think my last couple of loaves have hit the nail on the head – full of earthy flavours of walnuts and the sweet/sour taste of dried sour cherries. I like to include a small amount another fruit too – either raisins or golden raisins, to add a little more sweetness.
The recipe is my go-to sourdough process with modifications to allow for the addition of the walnuts and dried fruit.
425g strong flour
150g sourdough starter
75g sour cherries
50g raisins or golden raisins
Mix Measure the flour, sourdough starter and water into a large bowl. Don’t add salt just yet. Roughly mix to a shaggy dough with a wooden spoon or dough whisk.
Autolyse Cover with a plastic shower cap or plastic bag or tea towel and leave for 30 minutes so the mixture can autolyse.
Knead and Prove Add the salt to the mixture. Using an electric mixer like a Kitchenaid, and the dough hook, knead on low speed for about 10 minutes or until the dough windowpanes when stretched.
Remove the dough from the bowl of the mixer and fold in the walnuts and fruit. I usually do this mixing in the nuts and fruit in 3 or 4 handfuls. Stretch the dough over the ingredients each time you add a handful. Don’t stress about having the fruit and nuts completely evenly distributed.
Cover the dough again and leave somewhere warm to prove for about 4 hours. After this first prove the dough should have noticeably increased in size, but not doubled.
Pre-shape Carefully remove the dough from the bowl with help of a dough scraper onto an unfloured work surface. Definitely no flour needed! I use an oversized wooden board, but a bench top will work too. Sprinkle a very little water on the surface. The dough will be a bit delicate, so no rough treatment. Slide the scraper underneath the dough, lifting it from underneath. You will feel the scraper catch the dough as it lifts it up. I try not to remove the scraper, just move it round all of the dough in a circle. Sometimes the scraper sticks, and you need to pull it out, remove the sticky dough, and then go under again, but the more you move around the dough, the tighter the dough becomes and the less likely to stick. Do this circular movement with the scraper a few times until the dough forms a round, wobbly ball that roughly holds its shape. Leave for 20-30 minutes to let the gluten relax.
Shape It can be tricky to shape a loaf so full of fruit and nuts, so shape carefully and don’t be too aggressive with the dough. You are shaping the dough into a boule or round loaf.
Lightly flour your surface and your hands. Flip the pre-shaped dough over onto the floured surface.
Imagine the round of dough is a clock face. Take one edge of the dough at 12 o’clock and gently pull towards you, and fold into the centre of the dough. Move the dough around to 3 o’clock and pull and fold again. Move to 6 o’clock, then 9 o’clock, pulling and folding. Do this process a couple of times until the dough feels tight and a little bouncy. Scoop the dough into curved hands and rock the dough backwards and forwards on the floured surface several times until the dough feels tight and smooth.
Carefully move the dough into a round proving basket, sprinkled with flour, with the smooth side of the dough on the bottom and the seam side on top.
Second Prove While you can prove your dough for 2-3 hours at room temperature, I advocate the retarded or fridge prove, and this method serves me well. Leave the dough at room temperature for an hour then place in the fridge for 8-12 hours. Proving in the fridge at night allows you to bake your bread first thing the next morning.
Score and Bake This bread is baked in a round cast iron pot. Sprinkle a handful of semolina inside the cast iron pot. Pre-heat your oven to really hot – 240 degrees C. Put the pot in the oven when you turn it on and leave for 30 minutes.
Once the oven is hot, turn your dough out of the proving basket onto a thin flat baking tray or peel, dusted with semolina. The nice side of the dough is now on top. Open the oven and carefully take off the lid of the pre-heated pot. You can then slide the shaped dough into the hot pot.
Now score the dough using a lame or razor blade or sharp knife. Scoring with a cross is good, or you can score with 2 parallel slashes, giving the bread more of an oval shape.
Put the lid back on the pot and close the oven door. Turn the oven down to 220 degrees C. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for a further 25-30 minutes with the lid off. The loaf should be a nice burnished brown, but if it looks too dark after 25 minutes take it out.
Remove the bread to a wire rack or board and leave to cool for an hour before cutting.
Serve with a lot of good butter. This bread doesn’t need jam but it’s up to you! It would also be good with a nice cheddar, or perhaps cream cheese or Brie or Camembert.
Making your own pasta is so satisfying! Here is a recipe for a couple of different kinds of ravioli. You can use my fillings or create some of your own.
Whether you use a pasta machine to roll your pasta, or roll by hand, it doesn’t take too much effort to create a lovely lunch or simple supper!
The basic recipe for the pasta is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe. It’s pretty easy to do and the pasta dough is rich and silky. The quantity makes enough for 12 ravioli.
3 large free-range eggs
300g Tipo 00 flour
Put the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs into the bowl. Break up the eggs with a fork in the well.
Gradually incorporate the eggs into the flour, mixing with your fingertips. Mix until you have combined all the eggs into the flour and you have a rough dough.
To make the Taleggio and Walnut Ravioli, I mixed in a small handful of fresh thyme leaves to half of the dough quantity before the kneading stage.
Now knead both kinds of rough dough until each comes together into a smooth ball, and continue kneading until the dough has been really worked well, and is smooth, soft and silky.
Wrap the doughs in cling wrap. Leave in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour, in order to make it easier to roll and shape.
For each kind of ravioli, use the pasta machine to roll the dough so you have 2 thin sheets. It’s important to roll the pasta sheets so they are very thin; I didn’t quite get the sheets thin enough so the pasta was a little thick.
If unsure about how to roll the dough using a pasta machine, there are plenty of “how-to” videos on YouTube.
You can also roll your dough by hand using a rolling pin. Jamie Oliver’s advice is to roll small pieces of dough, one at a time. Try to get them as thin as you can.
Thyme, Taleggio and Walnuts Ravioli
Combine 100 gms or so of taleggio cheese (any soft rind cheese will do) and a dozen or so walnuts chopped.
Ravioli with Pecorino and Sundried Tomato
Combine 100 gms or so of pecorino cheese (parmesan will work too) and a small handful of chopped sundried tomatoes.
For each kind of ravioli, place 6 small spoonfuls of each mixture on one pasta sheet, allowing for a border when you come to cut the ravioli. Moisten the exposed pasta and put the other pasta sheet on top. Press down to divide the sheets into 6 and, making sure you don’t trap any air with the filling, seal the ravioli edges.
Cut pasta into shapes using a pastry cutter or a sharp knife. I dusted the ravioli with a little flour to help them keep their shape as I wasn’t cooking them for an hour or so.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and put the ravioli in. Cook for 5 minutes until al dente.
For a quick sauce, heat a little butter in a frying pan until the butter foams; pour over both kinds of ravioli and serve with additional shaved pecorino.
I’m making lots of pies this winter, as well as sampling the pies of a couple of of really good bakeries. My local Bourke Street Bakery makes some beautiful beef pies, packed full of beef and encased in excellent pastry. Very yummy if you’re in a hurry and can’t rustle up your own.
I posted this pot pie recipe last year. It’s such a simple one to make as the filling takes no time. I made it recently, this time making ham and leek pasties instead of pies.
So here is the recipe from last year.
”I had some chunky ham pieces and a leek in the fridge so decided that they would be the basis for some simple pies. I also had a lovely washed rind cheese, soft and melting, that I thought would go beautifully with the ham and leek. I’m a huge fan of nuts, so it was a no-brainer that I decided to put some walnuts in the pies as well. They added a lovely crunch and texture to the pies All these ingredients were stirred into a white sauce, piled into the bowls, topped with puffpastry and baked in the oven.
I recommend using a good bought butter puff pastry for the recipe.
The recipe makes two substantial deep bowl pies. You could double the quantities for a larger pie in a conventional pie dish.”
1 large leek
A knob of butter to cook the leek
200g ham chunks
50g any soft washed rind cheese
A small handful of walnuts or to taste
25g plain flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 sheets of butter puff pastry or about 180g from a block of puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon milk, for glazing
Cut the leek into small slices. Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the leek with a good pinch or two of salt. Cook on a low temperature until the leek slices are soft, about 10-15 minutes.
Chop the ham into bite sized pieces and roughly slice the cheese. Chop any whole walnuts into smaller pieces.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.
For the white sauce, melt the butter in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the flour and stir for 1-2 minutes, to make sure the raw flour taste is cooked out.
It’s important to do this and the subsequent stirring in of the milk with a wooden spoon.
Gradually stir in about a third of the milk, making sure the milk is incorporated and there are no floury lumps. When the sauce has noticeably thickened, add another third of the milk and repeat the process. Add the last third of the milk and cook until the sauce is nice and thick. Simmer gently for 5 minutes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Stir the ham, leek, cheese and walnuts into the white sauce in the saucepan. Pile the mixture into the individual bowls.
Cut out circles of puff pastry that are larger than the diameter of the bowls and will be enough to completely cover the tops. Brush the tops of pies with the beaten egg.
Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 20 minutes until the top of the pies are golden brown and puffed up.
It’s fig season and I have just picked up a lovely box of figs at a good price. Up until now they’ve been a little pricey, but February seems to be the start of fig bounty which will last till the end of March.
I made this cake at almost the same time in February last year. I’m posting again as I think the recipe is pretty good, and in preparation for the new fig creation that is to come from the aforementioned box of figs!
This recipe for walnut cake is based on my almond cake recipe that I usually make with stone fruit. I have a couple of versions on this blog. This time, I used walnuts, as I was looking for a robust flavour to go with some caramelised figs. In the almond cake recipe, I use bought ground almonds, whereas in this recipe I take whole walnuts and whizz them in the food processor to make ground walnuts with some little nutty bits still remaining. This gives the cake a nice texture.
The cake is drizzled with a coffee caramel syrup, and figs which have been poached in this syrup are placed on top. I also put some fresh figs on top which worked well too. But the caramelised figs are nicer.
Cake 150g butter 100g caster sugar 50g brown sugar 3 free range eggs I teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste 1 teaspoon almond essence 150g walnuts 1 tablespoon plain flour 1 teaspoon baking powder Pinch of salt
Coffee Caramel 3 tablespoons caster sugar 75mls good coffee liqueur- I used Mr Black from Botanica Distillery in NSW, a cold brew coffee liquor. Any liqueur is fine! A few splashes of water up to 50mls to thin syrup to pouring consistency 3 figs, cut in half for poaching, or 2 or 3 fresh figs.
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C, 160 degrees C fan forced. Grease a 20cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper.
Put the walnuts into a food processor and pulse, stopping every so often to make sure you don’t over process. You want some chunky bits as well as some fine ground walnuts. Set aside, but don’t bother washing the processor!
Combine butter and sugar in a food processor, with vanilla extract or paste and almond essence. Add the eggs one at a time and pulse well. Fold in ground walnuts, plain flour, baking powder and salt.
Put the mixture into the springform and bake for about 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the cake.
While the cake is baking, make the caramel.
For the coffee caramel, put the caster sugar in a small frying pan or saucepan and dissolve the sugar gently over a low heat. Don’t stir the sugar or it will crystallise! Once the sugar is dissolved, cook until it turns light brown, sort of tea coloured. Take it off the heat and add the coffee liqueur carefully, as the caramel is hot. You can add some water if the syrup is too thick. If the caramel has already turned to toffee, don’t worry. Just gently heat the caramel with the liqueur over low heat and the toffee will dissolve.
Put 6 of the fig halves into the coffee syrup and poach for a couple of minutes over a low heat until the figs are slightly softened.
Once the cake is out of the oven, and while it is still hot, pierce the top a few times with a skewer and pour a few teaspoonfuls of the syrup over the cake.
Serve the cake with the poached figs on top, with a little more syrup drizzled over the figs, and Greek yoghurt or whipped cream or creme fraiche. Or decorate the cake with the plain figs, or a combination of poached and fresh, and a little of the syrup and yoghurt or cream. Either way it’s delicious.
Super food, super easy and super good! Jamie’s latest book Everyday Super Foodis a bit of a revelation, crammed full of beautiful, colourful, easy recipes that are really healthy.
The research, the nutritional information, and the carefully planned and written recipes make this book a must-read and a must-cook. I’m big on flavour, and what I’ve cooked so far is bursting with it …I can’t wait to cook more!
If you love cooking, love really tasty food, and would like to feel that you are doing your bit to eat healthily, then get Everday Super Food. It’s common sense, not faddish, and do-able!
I made Smoothie Pancakes with Berries, Banana, Yoghurt and Nuts today. I went for blueberries, next time I’ll try raspberries. I didn’t realize till I was making the recipe that there was no sugar – the blueberries are sweet enough – even for the sweet tooth of this quirky writer! The drizzle of honey on the pancakes themselves when serving adds that little extra sweetness which is nice. Here is Jamie’s recipe very slightly tweaked.
320g blueberries or raspberries
1 ripe banana
170ml semi-skimmed milk
1 large free-range egg
250g wholemeal self raising flour
4 tbs natural yoghurt
Sprinkle of ground cinnamon
30g mixed unsalted nuts, chopped
Drizzle of honey
Blitz half the berries, peeled banana, milk, egg and flour in a food processor or blender to make a smooth pancake batter. Fold in the remaining berries. Place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium high heat. When hot, put some batter into the frying pan to make large pancakes or small ones. I went for smallish. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or until crisp and browned. Jamie suggests flipping them for an additional 30 seconds each side to ensure they are super crispy. This seemed to work for me.
You can serve whole, or slice the pancakes in half so you can see the fruit. Serve with a spoonful or two of yoghurt, a sprinkling of cinnamon, some chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey over the whole lot. Delish.
Here is another venture into the world of sticky buns, cinnamon scrolls and brown sugar sweet treats. I love my bread making, and I am pretty keen on making enriched dough at the moment.
This recipe is my take on Sticky Buns from the Great British Bakeoff and the inimitable James Morton’s Cinnamon Buns.
It’s an enriched dough filled with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, and topped with MORE brown sugar, butter, maple syrup and pecans!
James Morton cooks his buns in a casserole dish or pot such as a Le Creuset, as the heavy sided baking dish creates softer buns. He’s right – it’s the way to go for beautiful soft unctuous buns, so I recommend you try this baking method. Whatever you bake your buns in, make sure that the dish or pan has a rim, as the topping might flow over during cooking.
250g plain white flour
250g strong white flour
8g table salt
7g instant yeast
100g sourdough starter (optional)
50g caster sugar
280g milk, warmed until tepid
1 free-range egg, at room temperature
50g unsalted butter
50g unsalted butter
75g brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
100g butter (salt reduced or salted is fine for that “salted caramel” flavour)
2 tbs maple syrup
100g pecan pieces (walnuts work just as well)
Place the flour, salt, yeast, sourdough starter if using, sugar, tepid milk, egg and cinnamon into a large bowl and mix them together by hand or you can use an electric mixer with a dough hook. Knead by hand or in the mixer about for 10 minutes.
Melt the butter and add to your dough. Mix it in by hand or use a machine until completely combined. Cover the bowl (I use a disposable shower cap but cling film is fine) and leave the dough to rest for 60-90 minutes at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge, until it has grown to roughly double its original size.
Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a big, long rectangle. The rectangle should be about 20cm wide and up to a metre long. Melt the butter and brush over dough. Sprinkle the dough all over with brown sugar and then cinnamon.
Roll up the dough along its long edge into as tight a cylinder you can get, but be careful as the dough is quite fragile. Slice this cylinder into 6-9 roughly equal pieces using a knife.
For the topping, process the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup until thoroughly mixed in food processor. Grease a large lidded casserole dish and spread the mixture evenly over the base of the dish. Scatter the chopped nuts over the base of the dish and gently press in.
Arrange the buns cut end down in the casserole dish. Place the lid on the casserole and leave to rise for another hour at room temperature, then check to see that buns have risen.
30 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced. Put the lid back on the casserole and place in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes with the lid on and 10 minutes with the lid off.
Remove from the oven and run a knife around the inside of the dish to loosen the buns.
Leave for 3-4 minutes for the bubbling to subside – no longer as the caramel will set.
Carefully invert the dish onto a plate with a rim, again to stop the topping spilling over. Lift off the baking dish. The buns will be sitting up beautifully covered in the lovely caramel topping!
I always read with interest and great enjoyment the posts of My Revolutionary Piea fascinating look at American culinary history. I was particularly taken with a “Brownies” post, which detailed the origins and evolution of this now ubiquitous sweet treat.
Below are My Revolutionary Pie’s adaptations of one of the first brownie recipes from 1906 created by Fannie Farmer, in The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, and a recipe of a former student of Farmer, Maria Willett Howard, published in 1907 in Lowney’s Cook Book.
Both brownies are different from the dense, heavy versions of today. They both contain quite a small amount of chocolate – 2 ounces (about 57 grams). They are sweeter and less chocolatey. I liked the Lowney’s Cook Book version better – it has more butter and produced a less crunchy texture. The walnuts really stand out in both versions.
However, the photos look very similar – I can really only tell the difference because I photographed them on different plates!
Fannie Farmer’s Brownies Adapted from The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1906 edition)
¼ cup butter, melted, plus butter for greasing pan
1 cup sugar
1 egg, unbeaten
2 ounces (2 squares) (57g) unsweetened chocolate, melted
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup walnuts, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163 degrees C) Butter an eight-inch (20cm) square baking pan, then cut out an eight-inch (20cm) square of parchment paper, place it in the bottom of the pan, and butter the parchment.
2. Blend melted butter with sugar. Add the egg and beat well. Mix in slightly cooled chocolate and vanilla extract and stir well. Blend in flour, followed by walnuts.
3. Spread mixture evenly in baking pan, using an offset spatula if possible.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until firm. Let rest a few minutes, then invert brownies from pan onto cutting board, peel off parchment, and slice into squares.
Lowney’s Brownies Adapted from Lowney’s Cook Book by Maria Willett Howard (1912 edition)
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus butter for greasing pan
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 ounces (2 squares) (57g) unsweetened chocolate, melted
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup walnuts, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163 degrees C). Butter an eight-inch (20cm) square baking pan, then cut out an eight-inch (20cm) square of parchment paper, place it in the bottom of the pan, and butter the parchment.
2. Cream the butter briefly, then gradually add the sugar, and cream well. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the slightly cooled chocolate.
3. Whisk together the flour and salt, then add to the batter and mix well. Stir in the nuts.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until slightly firm on top. Cut into squares in pan, then let cool for 15 minutes before removing from pan.
This is a versatile recipe as it can be made in different sizes, served as a dessert or just as a treat. It’s quite easy to make – another food processor mixture which I love! The most time consuming aspect is soaking the raisins beforehand.
1 cup of raisins
1/4 cup muscat
125g self-raising flour
125g caster sugar
2 large free-range eggs
A handful of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup muscat
Place the raisins into a bowl with the muscat and leave to soak for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. For small cakes, grease a muffin tin. Or, for a larger cake, grease a 20cm round cake tin. I happened to have a small square tin on hand, so I used that, as well filling the remainder of the mixture into muffin molds.
Put all the ingredients except raisins, muscat and walnuts in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Carefully fold the raisins and muscat and then the walnuts into the mixture. If the mixture looks too wet or sloppy, add a tablespoon or two more of flour.
Spoon mixture into the muffin tin or cake tins. Tap lightly to settle the mixture.
Place the tin/s in the oven and bake for 20 minutes for muffins, 35-4o minutes for the round cake tin or until the muffin/cakes are cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. I cannot be more precise than this as the mixture has a lot of liquid and it’s difficult to judge exact cooking times.
Meanwhile, to make the syrup, put the sugar and water in a heavy based saucepan, stirring until dissolved. Then boil for 5 minutes without stirring or until the the syrup has reduced to stickiness but not toffee. Take off the heat and add the muscat.
Remove the muffins/cake from the oven and pierce all over with a skewer. Pour over the hot syrup.
Cool the muffins/cake in the tin/tins. Turn out carefully as the the cakes can be quite fragile with the infused syrup.
Serve with a scattering of raisins and walnuts in any left over syrup.
Another slice recipe! This recipe is adapted from the May 2014 issue of delicious. magazine in a feature on slices. A caramel topping, crunchy with chopped walnuts, on top of a pastry base. The topping is a little bit soft and gooey, making it almost like a walnut tart.
Perhaps I’ll try converting the slice into a tart next!
125g softened butter
2 tbls icing sugar
150g self raising flour
250g brown sugar
100g walnuts, chopped
90g desiccated coconut
2 tbls extra flour
Preheat oven to 170degrees C. Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper, leaving an overhang of paper on the sides.
Combine the base ingredients in a food processor and whizz until a soft pastry like dough forms.
Press the dough into the baking tin and bake for 15-20 minutes until just golden brown.
Whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add in remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Pour the mixture over the baked base, return to the oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the topping is set.
Cool in the baking tin then cut into slices to serve.