Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Family's Fruit Cake

Now, I am very fussy when it comes to fruit cake. I dislike fruit cakes that have a lot of sugar in them, and I always like to eat mine cold. But this recipe, handed down from my grandmother, is perfect! You may be able to convert non-fruit cake eaters via this recipe.

125g butter [or margarine]
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
500g mixed fruit (eg. sultanas, raisins, dried pinneapple, cherries, dates) (I always add more)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 eggs
1 cup plain flour, sifted
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1 cup dry sherry (plus an optional dash or two more)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp milk, extra
handful of almonds
6-8 blanched almonds for decoration
Place in a saucepan butter, sugar, milk and fruit and spices. Stir until boiling; reduce heat; simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in almonds. Let cool completly and then add the sherry and soda. Beat eggs; add to fruit mixture; add sifted flours and extra milk. Place mixture in deep 20cm round cake tin which has been greased and lined. Decorate top of cake before putting in the oven with blanched almonds. Bake in oven on 180 degrees (fan-forced) for around 1 3/4 hours or until skewer is clean.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Caramel and Macadamia Slice

I decided to try my hand at making a slice seeing as so many of you voted in its favour in the last poll. My sister is a Macadamia Slice connoisseur and when she tried the slice she said it was the best she ever tasted! Try it and see how it goes!

Ingredients for Base
1 egg
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup plain flour
1/4 cup self-raising flour

Ingredients for Top
200g butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
200g unsalted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
50g dark or milk chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 180 or 160 for fan-forced. Grease and line a 18cm by 28cm slice pan. Using an electric mixer, beat egg and sugar together until thick and pale. Add oil and beat until well-combined. Fold in combined, sifted flours. Spoon into prepared tray and smooth out evenly with hands or a baking spatula. Bake for 20 minutes until puffed and golden. Meanwhile, prepare Macadamia Topping. Place butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan over low heat. Stir for 5 minutes until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Simmer, without stirring, for 10 minutes until caramelised. Add nuts. Pour topping over the base and working quickly, spread it evenly. Bake for another 10 - 12 minutes, until golden. Cool in pan and drizzle with melted chocolate when completly cool. Cut into pieces to serve.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Traditional French Madeleines

Even those these require a Madeleine tray, I thought I'd post the recipe because it's so delicious. You can purchase your own tray here for under $15, and it's worth it because these unique treats certainly do impress! They are best eaten the day they are made and I would recommend that you have all your ingredients organized and ready to use before you start baking because the recipe requires continuous beating.
2 eggs
3/4 tsp vanilla
generous pinch of salt
1/3 cup of caster sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon of finely grated lemon rind
65g butter
icing sugar for dusting decoration

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees (fan-forced). Melt butter and cool to room temperature. In a bowl beat eggs, vanilla and salt at high speed until light. Beating constantly, gradually add sugar; continue beating at high speed until mixture is thick and pale and ribbons form in the bowl when beaters are lifted (eg. 5 minutes). Sift flour into egg mixture 1/3 at a time, gently golding after each addition. Add lemon rind and pour melted butter around edge of batter. Quickly but gently fold butter into batter. Spoon batter into prepared tray; batter will mound slightly above the tops. Bake for 14 to 17 minutes or until golden. These cook quickly so keep a close eye on them. Use a knife to loosen from the tray, but let cool for around 10 minutes beforehand. Sprinkle with icing sugar and enjoy.

Moroccan Style Yoghurt Cake

This recipe is from a cookbook I bought called "500 cakes." It has a light texture and is rather lemony. Due to its low sugar content, it needs to be accompanied with honey or other sweeteners such as icecream. By the way, I used low fat yoghurts to make this and it still worked fine. I would recommend to add a bit more sugar if you don't like your desserts very lemony (ie. 80g caster sugar plus the honey accompaniment). I would not recommend this dessert if you don't like lemon! My family enjoyed it, but personally I enjoy sweeter things like custard.

60mL sour cream
225g Greek yoghurt
1 1/2 tbsp conflour, dissolved in 1 1/2 tbsp cold water
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
finely grated zest of 1 orange
3 large eggs, seperated
60g caster sugar
40g toasted almonds, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and line a 20cm by 26cm baking dish with greaseproof paper. Stir together the sour cream, yoghurt and conflour mixture until well mixed. Fold in the lemon zest and juice and the orange zest. In a seperate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 50g of the caster sugar until thick and pale, then stir into the yoghurt mixture. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form peaks, and whisk in the remaining sugar. Fold the whites itno the yoghurt mixture, and pour into the lined baking dish. Place the dish in a roasting tin. Pour cold water into the tin until it reaches halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake for 35 -40 minutes. Remove from the dish and sprinkle with the toasted almonds, and leave to cool. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Drizzle with honey or icecream.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Baking Tips

Before I begin I just want to say a big thankyou to all of you that have started to follow me. I've been really busy and haven't been able to try out any new recipes, but I thought some baking tips could really come in handy. Also, today I made some adorable baby cupcakes I thought you'd all appreciate seeing some pretty pictures! I used the "feather light patty cake" recipe.

Baking Tips

1. Unless specificed, ingredients for baking are best used at room temperature. This is particularly important for eggs.
2. Unless specified, when recipes call for sugar I use white or caster sugar. Raw sugar is too granulated for my liking
3. Always read through the full recipe before commencing to ensure you have all the ingredients and know whether you have to prepare or reserve certain ingredients for later in the recipe
4. Always test your cakes with a skewer to ensure its cooked properly all the way through
5. For a lighter cake, seperate your eggs. Add the yolks to your butter mixture and then fold the egg whites into the batter (when there's flour)
6. Toss your nuts or dried fruit lightly in flour before putting them into your batter. This will help them not to sink to the bottom when cooking
7. When cooking cakes or pies with fruit on the top, sprinkle some lemon on the top to prevent burnt fruit topping.
8. Never use a cheap cocoa (like hot chocolate), the richer your cocoa the better your cake (eg. belguim cocoa is great)
9. I always like to add an extra 1/2 tsp to my recipes if they call for vanilla. The more vanilla, the better (perhaps this is due to my love for French desserts?)
10. You'll know the cake will turn out moist if your recipe has oil in it. When baking fruity cakes, such as a carrot cake or zucchini loaf, look for recipes that incorporate vegetable oil. They'll always be nicer this way.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Best Ever Orange and Almond Cake

This cake is heavenly! Perhaps the word "cake" is wrong? This is more like a slice of cloud-like orangey bliss. My mother went to a café and said that she had the best ever Orange and Almond cake; and said that I could not beat it. But, being the competitive baker I am, I decided to bake my own in an attempt to beat this "café cake." And when she tasted my creation, I indeed did! It was the best moment (after having boiled oranges for 1 hour and a half and having waited paitently for the cake to cook) to hear that all my work paid off. Usually I would dust the cake with icing sugar, but my mother also demanded icing. You will find a perfect icing accompaniment for this cake as well. I considered calling this a "cloud like cake" because it truly is - almost like mousse - and will be so light that it melts in your mouth. But I do warn you, this is potentially lethal for those of us trying to watch our figures!

Ingredients for Cake
2 large oranges (eg. Navel)
6 eggs, seperated
3/4 cup caster sugar
200g almond meal
1 tsp baking powder

Method for Cake
Wash oranges and place them unpeeled in a pot of boiling water. Let it simmer for 1-2 hours (eg. I did 1 1/2). Then, drain the water and allow the oranges to cool. Cut the base of the orange and remove the pith (white stuff between the rind and the flesh) because this will reduce the bitterness. Blend the oranges in a food processor/blender to a smooth consistency. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare a round 20cm deep baking tin. Springform tin's are the most convenient here. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together using an electric mixture until smooth. Please note the egg whites will need to be kept for later use. Add the orange purée and beat. Add the baking powder and almond meal and beat at a low speed until just combined. Beat the egg whites in another bowl until stiff peaks form. Add these whites to the almond batter and fold in gently until just combined. Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 1 hour and test with a skewer. Dust with icing sugar or the following orange icing.

Ingredients for Icing
60g butter, softened
2 teaspoons grated oranged zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 cups of icing sugar, sifted

Method for Icing
Beat the butter and the zest, then gradually add the juice and icing sugar. Spread over cake and around it's sides. Sprinkle some grated orange zest on the top, this gives the cake an extra dimension, texture-wise.

French Picnic Quiche

This is a delicious recipe which I translated and borrowed from the French blog "sooishi". Originally it's from a German cook, Catherine Kluger, and its recommended for a picnic or Sunday lunch. I made it for dinner and it was very well recieved! I have never made my own pastry before, but it was rather straightforward.

Ingredients for Pastry
200g flour
1 pinch of salt
90g of very cold butter, cut into cubes
1 egg
2 tablespoons of cool water

Method for Pastry Shell
Mix flour and salt, then add the butter. Sand the dough gently between your fingertips until you have a fine "sand-like" mixture. Careful not to overwork the butter, lumps are acceptable here. Mix the beaten egg with fresh water and add to dough. Try to work the dough as little as possible, but make it homogeneous. Sandwich the dough in 2 pieces of cling wrap (ie. sandwich = 1 sheet of cling wrap + the dough in the middle + another cling wrap) and leave it in the fridge for 1 hour minimum (I left mine for around 4 hours whilst I went shopping and got on with my day). After it's been chilled, get out a round 20cm deep cake tin and grease it slightly. Then, get your dough and flatten the dough with the end of a rolling pin whilst still keeping it in the cling wrap. Then roll it out into a smooth dough, about 1cm thick and make it's circumfrence larger than your cake tin. Take one piece of your cling wrap off whilst holding it in your hand. Flip the dough into your cake tin, ensuring there is dough for the walls. There should be 1 piece of plastic cling wrap sitting on top of your dough which should now be snuggly in the cake tin. Smooth it out via the cling wring if needed, before taking the cling wrap away. Prick the dough with the bottom of a fork and then refridgerate it for 30 minutes. After this, line it with baking paper and put some rice or beans or baking weights and bake it for 30 minutes on 160 degrees (fanforced). Remove the weight, and then the pastry with 1 beaten egg. Put the tart back in the oven for 3 more minutes before filling.

Ingredients for filling
300mL milk
200mL of carnation light and creamy evaporated milk (or cream if you desire)
3 eggs
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
150g of roughly chopped fresh tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
1 onion
100g mozzarella
150g zucchini
150g fresh tomatoes
fresh basil
olive oil
Method for total quiche
Mix vigorously together the 3 eggs, milk, evaporated creamy milk, salt and pepper. Set aside. Wash the zucchini and slice them into very thin slices. Cook them in the microwave with a little bit of water for around 4 minutes on high. Meanwhile, bring your pan with a generous drizzle of olive oil to high heat. Sauté the garlic and finely chopped onion together for around 1-2 minutes. Then, add in the roughly chopped tomatoes. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Add a pinch or two of sugar to reduce the acidity. Then, remove it from the heat and mix some freshly chopped basil. Pour this stewed tomato and onion mixture into the bottom of the prebaked pastry pie. Spread it evenly. Then cover it with a layer of the cooked zucchini (be sure to drain the water before using). Then cut the other fresh tomatoes into slices and lay them on top of the zucchini. Then put mozzarella on top and sprinkle it with basil. Pour the egg mixture over and fill it to the edge of the pie. Cook in the oven for around 40 minutes, or until golden brown.
Serve with a salad.

Note: "Sooishi" has step by step images for the essembly of the tart. Simply click here to see

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dreamy Vanilla Frosting

This icing pairs well with the "feather light vanilla cupcakes" that I posted a few days ago. It's not too sweet and the perfect consistency for icing cupcakes. It makes enough to ice a large cake as well.


260g icing sugar, sifted
110g butter, at room temperature
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp milk
Beat together the icing sugar, butter, vanilla and milk until smooth and creamy. Spread on top of cake and decorate to your desire!

Chocolate Vegan Cake

You may think that a vegan cake would be unable to surpass a regular chocolate cake recipe, but those who have tried this agree that this vegan recipe certainly is a strong rival. This was made for a birthday, hence the giant-cupcake shape, but you can put it in a regular tin. We also doubled the recipe, and that worked out fine too. It's yummy and light, and quite possibly better than a normal chocolate cake. Test it for yourself, and tell me what you think of it!

Ingredients for Cake
1 1/2 cup plain flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 cup cold water
Ingredients for Icing
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated, nondairy butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/3 cup cocoa, sifted
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 tablespoon water or nondairy milk

Preheat the oven to 180 (fan-forced) and grease your desired tin, eg. bundt tin, round tin or customized shape. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cocoa in a bowl and mix until combined. Create a well in center of these dry ingredients and add the vanilla, oil, vinegar and water. Mix until just combined. Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes and test with a skewer. To make the icing, cream the butter until smooth. Then on low speed, add the sugar and cream for about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and, on high speed, combine all the ingredients. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk/water if too dry. (The icing will keep in a fridge (in a covered container) for up to 2 weeks, but re-whip before using).

Note for chocolate cake : The richer your cocoa (eg. belgium cocoa powder) the better the end result for the cake. I don't recommend using 'cheap' or 'weak' cocoa for any chocolate recipe ie. hot chocolate powder is not equivalent to cocoa powder!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

[Natalie's] Pistachio Cake

My good friend asked me for a pistachio cake, and while I'm not much of a fan of them myself, I said that I would bake one for her. Soon I got busy with work and study and my plan to surprise her with a delicious cake failed. However, yesterday that changed when I found I finally had some spare time on my hands. I made this delicious cake, and even I thought it was amazing! It's taken six month's...but here it is...Natalie's Pistachio Cake.
Note: For the icing I would recommend omitting the green colouring, unless you like the green colour, as pictured.

Ingredients for Cake
55g shelled pistachios
170g butter, at room temperature
170g caster sugar
3 eggs
110g self-raising flour
Ingredients for Icing
1 egg white
150g icing sugar, sifted
3/4 tsp lemon juice
green food colouring (optional)
extra ground pistachios (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and grease and line one round cake tin. Finely grind the pistachio nuts in a food processor, then set aside. Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the ground pistachios, then sift the flour on the top and fold in. Spoon the cake batter into the tin and bake for approximately 40 minutes. Test with a skewer to check. Turn the cakes out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. To make the icing, gradually wisk the icing sugar into the egg white until thick and glossy. Then beat in the lemon juice. Finally, you can add a few drops of green food colouring and pour the icing over the cake. Top with ground pistachios for decoration and taste, or silver dragées look effective. If you don't won't the food colouring (as pictured) leave it white and still top with pistachios. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Feather-light patty cakes

I've been looking for a great recipe for light and fluffy cupcakes, and finally have got it sorted! These little cakes are feather light and delicious.

2 large tablespoons softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence (plus and optional 1/4 tsp)
2 eggs, lightly beaten at room temperature
2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
3/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and line enough muffin/cake pans for 18 cupcakes. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Sift in the flour and add milk. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Place the mixture into the patty cases and bake for exactly 30 minutes. Decorate your cupcakes accordingly, and you're welcome to draw some inspiration from the attached photos.


Please note: Unless specificed, all the images on this blog have been taken by me.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Irish Apple Cake

Very quick and easy to make, and is yummy for a winter dessert. Serve hot (or cold if you like it) with custard, cream or ice-cream. This cake is a Irish recipe, and is supposed to have a rustic, traditional, home-cooked look about it.

250g plain flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
125g caster or white sugar
125g butter
3-4 green apples, peeled, cored and rougly chopped
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 180 degrees fan-forced. Grease a 20cm round cake tin. Sift together the flour, baking powder and sugar. Mix with a wooden spoon. Cut in the butter roughly (do not rub it in or cream it) and then add the apples. Stir in egg and milk to make a fairly stiff mixture (the batter will be lumpy-ish). If you need a dash more milk to make it less dry, then add it sparingly. Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Museli Bar Slice

This is a delicious recipe that makes a delicious and healthy snack. The rolled oats make it a Low-GI recipe, and it has less sugar than commerical 'energy' or 'oat' bars. I lessened the sugar to 1/4 cup sugar, and you can even lessen the butter. But try it with 50g of butter first, and modify it after you've tasted it the first time. I also added cranberries and almonds, but it's fine without it. Don't forgot to look at the note at the bottom of this recipe.

50 g butter
1/4 (or 1/2 depending on taste) cup raw sugar
1/4 cup honey
100g pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 weet-bix, crushed
1/2 cup self-raising flour
(+ tbsp milk if needed)

Preheat oven to 170 degrees fan-forced. Line baking square tine. Place butter, sugar and honey in saucepan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and sugar has dissolved. Cool slightly. Meanwhile, combine pumpkin seeds, weet bix, sultanas, oats and flour. Add butter mixture and stir til combined. Smooth mixture into pan and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Let cool in pan for 30 min. Cut into slices and serve.

This recipe takes well to variations. Experiment yourself - eg. almonds and cranberries are a nice addition or even apricots, choc-chips, sun flower seeds, dates etc. It's all up to your tastes! Sugar can be lowered accordingly and a drop of milk can be needed if it's too dry.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Banana and walnut bread

1 3/4 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
100g chopped walnuts
3-4 large over-ripe bananas
3 large eggs, lightly whisked
1 tsp vanilla
100g butter/margarine (ie. bit less than 1/2 cup)

Melt butter and set aside to cool. Preheat a fan-forced over to 175 degrees. Grease a loaf tin and line base with baking paper. Sift flour, cinnamon, soda, and salt into bowl. Mix slightly with a spoon, then, add sugar and nuts. In a seperate bowl, mash bananas and then stir in the eggs, vanilla and butter. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients until they're just combined - don't overmix. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown. Cool in tin for 10 min and then turn out onto wire rack.

Topping options
Can top with cream cheese icing (visit carrot cake recipe for icing recipe) or just top with diagonoal slices of banana, or even icing sugar, or simply keep it plain (as pictured). If you refridgerate it, try cutting a slice the next day and toasting it with lashings of butter - very delicious!

Note: Click the image to see a larger version

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