Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spinach Ravioli with Basil Oil

This is the second dish that Loren and I made together, adapted from the Donna Hay Seasons Book.  It was very filling, we could only eat a few pieces of ravioli each but they were extremely delicious.  I don't think I've enjoyed pasta this much.  Instead of using gow gee wrappers, we used vietnamese rice paper and they worked perfectly for us.

Ingredients for Ravioli and Filling
300g baby spinach
200g ricotta
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
1/4 cup basil leaves, finely chopped
32 gow gee wrappers or 1 pkt of vietnamese paper rolls
200g fresh mozerella, sliced
Ingredients for Basil Oil
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice

To make the basil oil, place the basil, oil and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor and process to combine.  Set aside.  Chop the spinach and place in a bowl with the ricotta, parmesan, lemon rind and basil and mix to combine.  Place a gow gree wrapped on a flat surface and brush the edges with water (or break vietnamese paper into quarters, and wet one of them before placing on a tray).  Place a tablespoon of the spinach mixture in the centre of the wrapper and top with another wrapper (or place mixture in vietnamese paper and roll it into a ball).  Press the edges to seal.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.  Cok the raviloi in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes or until cooked through.  Arrange the raviloi with mozzarella and spoon over basil oil to serve.

I'm sharing this recipe at My Sweet and Savory for the Meatless Monday Cooking Campaign. Why don't you get involved too?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rhubarb Lattice Pie

Well, where to start?  I have had the best cooking experience, not to mention a generally good time, that I've had in a while.  My friend, Loren, invited me over to her house for a big cooking night.  Her family is Italian, so needless to say they have an inspirational passion for cooking, and welcomed me into their home and kitchen.  Oh their kitchen! It was an experience in itself.  They had a huge oven, a great gas cook top, and all the kitchen gadgets you could imagine.  They even had a draw for all their spices and their cupboards were perfectly organized! Besides from learning some Italian swear words, I learnt a lot about cooking from Loren and her family.  Did you know that cabonara is traditionally not made on cream? It's from egg.  Who would have guessed!  And sometimes it's better to abandon your utensils and use your hands to really bring mixtures together thoroughly.  Most importantly, I realized that food truly has the power to bring people together and enables you to learn exciting new things about people's history and culture.   

Loren's Cook top
Among other delicious dishes, we baked this rustic looking 'Rhubarb Lattice Pie' from the Donna Hay 'Seasons' book.  I can recommend both the pie, and the book. I can't wait to share the other recipes we tried out with you all.  And I can't wait to try them again in my humble kitchen.  So, here is a big thank you to Lorena...or as the Italians say...Grazie Lorena!  I will always remember cooking in your wonderful kitchen, with Italian words floating around, and the scent of baked goods wafting through the air.

 Ingredients for Vanilla Pastry
1 2/3 cup plain flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
180g cold butter, chopped
1/3 cup iced water
1 tsp vanilla extract 

Ingredients for Rhubarb Pie
385g rhubarb, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 egg white, lightly beaten, for brushing
sugar, for sprinkling

Method for Pastry
Place the flour, sugar and baking powder in a food processor and process to combine.  Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  With the motor running gradually add the water and vanilla and process until the mixture comes together to form a  smotoh dough.  Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge 30 minutes before using.

Method for Rhubarb Pie
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan-forced).  Place rhubarb, sugar, cornflour and vanilla bean in a bowl and mix well to combine.  Set aside.  Halve pastry and roll out each piece to 3mm thick.  Line the base of a lightly greased 22cm metal pie tin with a piece of the pastry.  Spoon the rhubarb mixture into the pastry shell.  Using a ravioli cutter, or knife, cut the remaining pastry into 12 by 2cm wide strips.  Arrange the strips on top of the pie to make a lattice.  Press edges to seal and trim excess.  Brush withe eggwhite and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 45 - 50 minutes or until the pastry is golden and crisp.  

Friday, August 27, 2010

Best Vanilla Cake [with Chocolate Leaves]

This vanilla cake recipes comes from the amazing Donna Hay. I paired her beautiful light cake with a creamy vanilla icing and festive chocolate leaves. Last week, however, I used this cake, topped with cookies in the shape of "21" to surprise my friend for his birthday. So as you can see, this brillant cake can form the base of any baking need - from festive cakes, a birthday surprise or an elegant afternoon cake.

Ingredients for Cake
125g butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbornate of soda
1/2 cup milk

Ingredients for Icing
2 cup icing sugar
50g butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp milk, depending on consistency

Preheat oven to 150 degrees (fan-forced) and grease and line a round baking tin. Place butter, sugar and vanilla together and combine on low speed until they are just combined. Add all eggs and, on low speed, beat until well combined. Sift powder, soda and flour and add milk over the mixture and on medium speed bring the batter together until completely smooth. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes. Test with a skewer. Leave to rest in tin for 5 minutes, before turning out onto a rack to cool. To make icing, beat together the butter and vanilla. Sift the icing sugar in gradually, and on medium speed, beat until combined. Pour milk over, and on medium speed, beat the whole mixture until smooth and spreadable consistency. Decorate your cake accordingly eg. chocolate leaves, sprinkles, coloured icing, smarties, sugared flowers or chocolate moulds.

Chocolate Leaves

Chocolate leaves are a creative and unique way to decorate your baked goods. They look impressive on cakes, tarts or even on dessert platters. Here are simple instructions to make them, but you may need to change the amount of ingredients depending on the amount of leaves you require.

chocolate melts
glaze or paint brush

Pick as many leaves as you need, ensuring that you choose non-toxic types. Wash these leaves under water and pat dry. Set aside. Fill a small saucepan with water and place over the top of the saucepan a heatproof bowl. Bring the water up to medium heat and place the melts inside this heatproof bowl. Slowly melt the chocolate. Set aside and, working quickly, dip you paint brush in the chocolate. With smooth strokes, spread the chocolate over the leaves; trying to aim for a fairly thick covering. Allow to set for 10 minutes, before covering with a second layer if neccessary. Cool leaves in freezer for at least 2 hours, before peeling back the leaves and using as a decoration on a cake, slice or tart.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Orange Bundt Cake

This is an easy cake that has a deliciously crisp outside and a soft interior. Perfect for afternoon tea, or when someone unexpected comes over.

Ingredients for Cake

1 large orange (roughly 250g)
175g butter, at room temperature
3 eggs, lightly beaten
slightly less than 1 cup of caster sugar
2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest, finely grated

Ingredients for Icing
60g butter, room temperature
2 tbsp orange juice
2 cup icing mixture

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and grease a bundt or kugelhopf tin. Cut the unpeeled orange into segments, remove pith and place in a food processor. Blend until smooth mixture. In a seperate bowl, beat together the butter, vanilla, zest and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add in the orange purée, and on low speed, mix until combined. Gradually add the lightly beaten eggs, mix until combined. Sift the flour over the mixture, and with a wooden spoon mix together until almost combined. Pour the golden syrup over in a circle over the batter, and mix again with a spoon until well combined. Spread mixture into the pan, and bake for around 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave in pan for at least 5 minutes, before turning onto a rack. To make the icing, beat together the butter, and juice until smooth. Gradually add the icing mixture, and continue beating until smooth and spreadable consistency. Add extra juice if not to your desired consistency. Drizzle over the cooled cake, and serve.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rustic Roast Vegetable Frittata

Unfortunately, my image doesn't give justice to this frittata, but it really was both delicious and beautiful. The vibrant and fresh vegetables pushed through the golden top of frittata, and the body of the frittata was light and delicate.

300g pumpkin, cubed
1 red onion, chopped into 3cm chunks
1 red capsicum, in slices
1 carrot, in 1cm slices
1 large zucchini, in thin slices
4 medium size mushrooms, in slices
7 eggs
1/2 cup milk
garlic clove

Cook all vegetables in oven along with some sprigs of rosemary...or if you want a healthier alternative cook them in the microwave. Cook pumpkin in microwave.
Cook carrot, zucchini and capsicum together with a bit of water and rosemary in the microwave. Cook mushrooms on saucepan with water. Cook red onion with rosemary, garlic and oil in saucepan. Whisk together eggs and milk, then fold through all the vegetables. In a dish, sprinkle bit of rosemary at bottom and a few bits of minced garlic. Pour egg mixture over top and bake for 30-40 minutes on 160 degrees.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Simple Cinnamon Tea Cake

Sometimes simple can be the best. This certainly is a simple cake but its flavour is delicate and homely. Definitely, this cake is great for those (comme moi) who don't like over the top cakes! It developed a delicious, slight crust around the edges of the cake, which really soaked up the cinnamon and sugar topping...


60g butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 cup of self-raising flour
1/3 cup milk
10g butter melted, extra
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp caster sugar, extra

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan-forced) and line a round cake tin. Beat butter, sugar, extract, egg and cinnamon together until light and fluffy. Stir in the sifted flour and milk. Stir with a spoon until combined. Spread mixture into pan; bake for around 25-30 minutes. Stand in pan for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine in a bowl the melted butter, cinnamon and sugar. Turn the cake out of tin and brush the cake and sides with the melted butter mixture. Serve with whipped cream or plain...or with custard for a truly delicious (but "healthier") dessert.
Serves 10, 184 calories per slice.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Les Tartelettes Décorées [Decorated French Tartlets]

Again, my Jane Price "Desserts" book has not failed me in delivering an exceptional tart recipe. What I really like about this pastry is that it's, so far, been a no fail! And it results in a pastry that is not too buttery, sweet, thick, dense or soggy. I played with the ingredients and measurements to come up with enough pastry dough (pâte à tarte) for 8 mini tartelettes. This way, you can share them around; and get creative by varying your decoration style. I went for a simple look and decorated them with fruits and nuts, but really there's endless possibilities (think of embelishments such as chocolate moulds, nuts, glazed fresh fruit, drizzle of a contrasting chocolate, citrus peel etc). And, bien sûr, you can fill the tartelettes with anything you like, such as caramel, chocolate, citron or custard filling. For the apple slices on top, the recipe follows below after the pastry.

Ingredients for Shortcrust Pastry
1 1/4 cups plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar
90g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg yolk, cold
1 tbsp iced water

Method for Pastry
Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the sugar. Using your fingertips, rub the butter until themixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and add the add yolk and water. Mix to a dough with a flat-bladed knife, using a cutting action. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather into a ball. Press together until smooth, then roll out and cut to fit 8 mini tartlet dishes. Regridgerate for 20 minutes; preheat the oven to 190 degrees (fan-forced). Line the dishes with baking paper and spread some baking weights at the bottom. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the paper and then continue to bake for a further 20 minutes. Set aside to cool before filling them with your choice of filling (eg. caramel, chocolate, lemon, custard, almond, berry).

Method for Apple slices
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan-forced) and line a tray with baking paper. Slice one red apple into thin 3mm thick slices. Try to pick the brightess colour apple, and preferably one that does not change colours between red and green. Lay the thin slices on the baking tray and sprinkle with a little bit of caster sugar. Bake for approximatley 15 minutes, or until colour has changed but not browned. Option: if you're presenting these for a special occasion, consider glazing the apple slices over. If you choose this, do not bake the slices of apple with the sugar on top.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Marbled Cheesecake Brownie

This recipe comes from the Australian magazine Recipes+ and the end result is delicious and moist! It is a definite crowd pleaser, for both adults and children, as it combines the favourites: a cheesecake and a brownie.

100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
125g butter, chopped into cubes
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup caster sugar, plus 1/3 cup extra
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plain flour
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare a 30cm by 20cm slice pan. Combine chocolate, butter and cocoa in a saucepan over low heat and stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat, and add 1 cup of sugar and 2 of the eggs. Stir until combined. Sift flour over chocolate mixture and stir; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, 1 egg, extra sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth and creamy. Place large spoonfuls of chocolate mixture and cream cheese mixture into the prepared pan, alternating mixtures. Using a round bladed flat knife, swirl mixture to marble. Try to leave a small amount of the base unmarbled if you'd like a predominately brownie base. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted at centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool the brownies in a pan.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Healthy Vegetable Frittata

Unlike Europe, it's hard to get to farmer's markets to purchase fresh produce. But today, I finally had enough time to visit a fresh food market! The produce looked amazing, the prices were great and the people were friendly. What more could a foodie ask for? I came home with an abundance of vibrant vegetables and fruit, freshly cooked pumpkin bread and lots of ideas for future dishes. After my tiring shopping expedition, when I came to cooking dinner I decided that I need something quick, that would also allow me to incorporate a lot of my lovely vegetables. Hence, the frittata.
Frittatas are really a "no brainer" type of recipe. Some eggs, some milk or yoghurt and your choice of filling...et voilà you have a simple but delicious meal; plus it's very healthy. This frittata is a vegetarian one, and although it uses some lemon you don't really taste that in the final outcome. So, if you'd like some lemon flavour to it I'd advise to increase the lemon more than what is stated. Also, I did make two frittatas and in the coming days I will post my other frittata creation, Rustic Vegetable Frittata which has a rosemary and garlic flavour.

1 potato, peeled and sliced
300g pumpkin, cubed
1 small floret broccoli, thinly sliced
150g fresh spinach
1 leek, thinly chopped
4 onion bulbs, chopped into 2cm thick chuncks
1 clove of garlic, minced
bit of thyme
7 eggs
1/2 cup of low fat greek yoghurt
1/2 cup of grated cheese
generous squeeze of fresh lemon
sprinkle of pepper
good splash of milk

Cook pumpkin and broccoli seperately in microwave. Cook potato with lemon juice and a sprinkle of thyme in microwave. In saucepan, bring oil to medium heat along with onion bulbs and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the leek along with a generous squeeze of lemon. When onion and leek are soft, add in spinach and allow to wilt. Put another bit of lemon juice in, along with a sprinkle of thyme and some pepper. Pour potatoes in the saucepan too. In a large bowl, whisk together most of the grated cheese (reserve a sprinkle for end), eggs, yoghurt and milk. Pour the cooked pumpkin and broccoli in, and then the leek onion mix. Fold through evenly. Pour into a dish and smooth out. Put rest of the cheese on the top and give one last squeeze of lemon before putting in the oven for around 30 – 40 minutes on 160 degrees.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Japanese Yakitori

I made these for our Asian themed banquet, and my family really loved them. The sauce is so easy to make and delivers a perfect ratio of sugar/salt which is crucial in Asian cooking. Yakitori is a Japanese type of skewered chicken, (thank you Wikipedia). I hope you enjoy!


1/2 cup reduced-salt soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup sherry
1/4 caster sugar
1kg chicken breasts, cut into pieces
6 green onion bulbs, sliced into roughly 3cm lengths

Soak skewers in cold water for around 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the soy sauce, stock, sherry and sugar in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool while you prepare the skewers. Thread chicken pieces and onion onto skewers; makes around 12 to 15 depending on size of chicken pieces. Place them in a dish and pour the sauce over them. Leave the sticks for 20 minutes in the fridge. Then rotate the sticks in the sauce and leave them for a further 20 minutes. (You can stick this marinating step, if short on time). Preheat a fry pan on medium high heat, with a small drizzle of soy sauce. Grill the skewers along with the sauce in the pan (if cooking chicken skewers in batches, pour small bits of sauce with each batch). Continue to grill them until cooked through, for around 6 to 8 minutes. Serve with rice or salad.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wholemeal Bread

This is my first attempt at making bread. And I could not be happier about the end result! The outside was crunchy, and inside was soft with a lovely wholemeal texture. My family certainly appreciated having home baked bread for the first time; and as a baker I certainly appreciated the rustic smell of bread wafting through my kitchen. Thanks to Taste.com.au for the recipe.

2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
1 1/3 cup plain flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 sachet (7g) dried yeast
1 tsp salt
375mL lukewarm water
+ 2 tbsp butter, for brushing
+ 1 tbsp lukewarm water, for brushing
+ 1-2 tbsp your choice of seed (eg. sunflower, pumpkin, poppy)

Brush a 10 x 20cm (base measurement) loaf pan with the melted butter to lightly grease. Measure all your ingredients. Place the flours, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Make a well in the centre and add the water to the dry ingredients. The water needs to be lukewarm to activate the yeast and encourage it to grow. If the water is too hot, it can kill the yeast. To test whether it is at the right temperature, sprinkle a little on the inside of your wrist - it shouldn't be too cold or too hot. Use a wooden spoon to stir until combined and then use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. (You can tell when the dough has been kneaded enough by pressing your finger into the surface of the dough - if it springs back, it has been kneaded sufficiently). Shape the dough into a ball. Brush a large bowl with the melted butter to grease. Place the dough into the bowl and turn it over to lightly coat the dough surface with the butter. This will stop the surface of the dough drying out as it stands, which can affect the rising process. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and then place it in a warm, draught-free place to allow the dough to rise. (The ideal temperature for rising bread dough is around 30°C). Leave the dough in this spot until it is double its size. This quantity of bread dough should take between 45-75 minutes t double in size. (When the dough is ready, it will retaining a finger imprint when lightly pressed). Once the dough has doubled in size. Punch it down in the centre with your fist. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead again for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and elastic and returned to its original size. Preheat oven to 200°C. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and shape each into a smooth round. Place the portions of dough side by side in the greased loaf pan. Brush lightly with the melted butter. Stand the pan in a warm, draught-free place, as before, for about 30 minutes or until the dough has risen about 1cm about the top of the pan. Gently brush the loaf with a little water and then sprinkle with your choice of seeds. Bake in preheated oven for 30 - 35 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. The best way to tell when the loaf of bread is cooked is to tap it on the base with your knuckle - if it sounds hollow, it is cooked. Turn the loaf immediately onto a wire rack and allow to cool. (If left in the pan, the loaf will sweat and the crust will become soft). Once cool, store the loaf in a well-ventilated place at room temperature. This bread is best eaten on the day it is made. However, it makes great toast 1-2 days later.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Layered Lemon and Coconut Slice

Moi, I don't like lemon slice. Pour moi, it's too sweet. Or it's trop lemony. But this lemon slice, I seriously enjoyed! The coconut topping adds a new dimension and the lemon curd in between ensures that its not too overdone. I may have added some ingredients or changed the quantities, but thanks to Taste.com.au for the main recipe.

Ingredients for Base
125g unsalted melted, softened
2/3 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cup self-raising flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup lemon curd (recipe follows)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
Ingredients for Lemon Curd
50g unsalted butter, chopped
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
1/6 cup of lemon juice (eg. 1/2 of 1/3 of cup)
1 egg, lightly beaten
+ 1tbs corn flour
Ingredients for Coconut Topping
1 egg white, lightly beaten
3/4 cup if you want sweeter
1 1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Method for Lemon Curd
Place butter, sugar, lemon rind and lemon juice in a heatproof bowl. Place over saucepan of simmering water, don't let bowl touch the water. Cook by stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, whisk in egg slowly and return to heat. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens and coats. If lemon curd is not thicken enough, whisk in 1 tbsp of cornflour and continue to stir over heat. Leave to cool whilst continuing to prepare rest of slice.

Method for Slice
Preheat oven to 160 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare a 18cm by 28cm slice pan. Place butter, sugar, flour, egg, vanilla and lemon juice in a bowl and stir to combine. Press into pan and bake for 15 - 17 minutes or until light golden. Meanwhile, make coconut topping by placing egg white, sugar and coconut in a bowl. Stir to combine. Once the base is cooked, spread the already made lemon curd over the base. Sprinkle with coconut topping and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until coconut is golden brown. Cool in pan before cutting into squares and serving.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chocolate and Hazelnut French Friands

I don't usually bake so many baked goods with chocolate, but in my defence most of the recipes I've been sharing lately are a combination of chocolate and another delicious ingredient. For instance, my last post of chocolate and coconut slice, or chocolate and sprinkle biscuits. This recipe follows the same pattern...Who can resist the heavenly combination of chocolate and hazelnut? The texture is denser compared to a regular French friand, but still delicious in its own right! As for indulgent icing, it would pair beautifully with regular chocolate cupcakes.

Ingredients for Friand
180g butter
1/4 cup plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder (I always use pure cocoa powder)
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup hazelnut meal
5 egg whites, lightly beaten

Ingredients for Nutella Icing
1/4 cup pouring cream
180g nutella spread
1/4 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 200 degrees (fan-forced) and generously grease your friand tray. Completely melt butter in a saucepan on medium heat; but do not brown at all! Set aside. Sift plain flour, cocoa powder, and icing sugar into a bowl. Mix together with a spoon. Fold hazelnut meal into this mixture. Add egg whites and butter with a fork, stiring quickly until mixture is just combined. Spoon mixture into friand pans and bake for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and bake for a further 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely. To make the icing, use the whisk attachment to smooth together the vanilla and nutella. Set aside. In a seperate bowl, pour the cream in. With the whisk attachment, whisk the cream for around 1-2 minutes until the cream is thickened and is stiffer. Gradually add the thickened cream to the nutella mixture, whisking slowly. Continue this until all the cream is mixed smoothly into the nutella. Ice friands generously with nutella.

Classic Chocolate and Coconut Slice

Everyone needs a good chocolate slice recipe they can rely on. For me, this is it!

Ingredients for Slice

125g butter, melted
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup self-raising flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Ingredients for Icing
1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
10g butter, melted
1 1/2 tbs hot water

Preheat oven to 160 degrees fan-forced. Grease and line a 19cm by 29cm slice pan. Combine butter, sugar, egg and extract in a bowl. Stir in sifted flour and cocoa; then the coconut. Spread mixture evenly over base of prepared pan. Bake about 30 minutes, or until firm. Remove slice from oven and let cool before icing. To make icing, sift sugar and cocoa into a bowl. Add combined butter and water and stir until icing is a spreadable consistency. After mixing well, add more water, if necessary. Spread on top of cooled slice and top with extra coconut. Will store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chocolate Button Biscuits

I adapted this lovely recipe from the wonderful Donna Hay Modern Classics Book 2. It results in a soft, delicate chocolate biscuit. As a variation, instead of coating the biscuits in chocolate, you can sandwich them together.

Ingredients for Biscuit
65g cold butter, chopped
1/4 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
2 1/2 tsp cornflour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp buttermilk or normal milk
+ 1 tbs water, if necessary

Preheat oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare a large cookie tray. Process the butter cubes, icing sugar, flour, cornflour, cocoa, egg yolk, and milk until a soft dough forms. If your dough still isn't wet enough after 3 minutes of gradual processing, add the water and mix it through with your hands. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refridgerate for 30 minutes. Then, roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls, placing each on the prepare tray. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until the bases are lightly cooked. They will still be soft, but check the bases! Cool on tray, and they will harden slightly. Dip the cooled cookies in chocolate ganche and immediately decorate with sprinkles. Make 8-10 little buttons.

Ingredients for Ganche
50g dark chocolate
1/4 cup single or pouring cream

Place chocolate and crema in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until melted and glossy. When slightly cooler, dip chocolate button biscuits in ganche and decorate with sprinkles.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gâteau au yaourt aux pommes (French Apple Yoghurt Cake)

Gâteau au yaourt (translates to Yoghurt Cake in English) is a style common to those in France. The yoghurt produces a moist and light cake; which provides the baker with a batter perfect for other additions such as zests, berries, nuts or fruit. In France, it is common to have a plain yoghurt cake with a lemon glaze. This version, however, incorporates little bits of apple which complements the lightness of the cake. You will notice that I used different types of flour for my cake and that's just because I ran out of each. So, I'd recommend using plain flour, or if not use your preferred choice, such as wholemeal, and I assure you it won't impact your cake.
I was extremely excited to make my first French Yoghurt Cake because it entails a special way to prepare the cake. It's a tradition for the French, really. They get the yoghurt pot, empty its contents, and reserve it to measure the rest of the ingredients! C'est très mignon, non?

1 pot of plain natural yoghurt (I used 170g capacity)
1 pot of plain flour
1 pot of plain self-raising flour
1 pot of wholemeal self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 pots of light brown sugar
1/2 pot of vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 green apples, diced thinly
2 1/2 tsp vanilla essence (or 1.5 vanilla extract)

Peel, quarter and dice the apples into small and thin cubes. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees fan-forced and prepare a loaf tin for cakes. Empty the contents of a yoghurt pot into a bowl; reserve the pot to measure the following ingredients. With a whisk, mix together the yoghurt with the sugar and eggs until smooth. Sift over the flour (or flours) and the baking powder. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Pour the vanilla in and mix lightly; then put the apples in too and fold them gently through. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for around 1 hour. Test with a skewer, then cool completely on a wire rack.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Smartie Cookies

Looking to bring a bit of brightness to your day? Well try these bright smartie cookies! They prove that even the simplest sweet can be very much savoured...


175g caster sugar
110g brown sugar
225g unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 2 tsp vanilla essence)
450g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
55ml milk
+ smarties for decoration

Beat together the sugars and butter until pale and fluffy. In a seperate bowl, use a whisk to beat together the vanilla and eggs. Gradually transfer this egg mixture to the creamed mixture, beating between each addition. This will prevent the mixture from curdling. Over this mixture, sift the flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Use a metal spoon to carefully fold together until no lumps remain. Gradually add the milk and stir until soft dough forms (be careful not to add too much milk or dough will be too sticky). Leave in fridge for 20 minutes, covered. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (fan-forced) and prepare 2 large cookie trays. Remove from fridge and roll small balls of mixture; put on prepared tray and flatten slightly. The cookies will spread a fair bit when cooking. Continue rolling balls until no mixture remains. Decorate the balls of dough with as many smarties as you desire. Bake biscuits for 8-9 minutes or until they are golden brown, but still slightly soft. They will harden slightly upon cooling. If you want a crunchier cookie, then cook for longer until brown and rather firm to touch when removed from oven.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Banana Choc-Caramel Loaf

It is fair to say that this cake may not be the prettiest, but it sure does taste wonderful. The banana, chocolate and petit peu de caramel all compliment each other and results in a flavourful loaf style-cake. Despite the sweet ingredients, the cake was not oversweet and was surprisingly light and fluffy. Also, I'd like to add that the secret to baking the best banana baked good is... only using bananas that are extremely ripe...as in bananas that are basically black!

150g butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
2 large eggs
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups self raising flour
200g Mars Bars, chopped (ie. three 60g bars should be fine)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a loaf tin. Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs gradually; followed by all the bananas. Sift the flour on top of this mixture and throw the chopped up Mars Bars on top. Do not mix yet! Pour the milk in, and now mix all these ingredients together but stop when there are no more streaks of flour. Spoon into pan and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Oreo Icing

My last post was inspired by the Australian favourite, Anzac biscuits. But this recipe is very much an American style baked good! Oreo Icing, also known as Cookies and Cream Frosting, is a wonderful way to make your chocolate cupcakes more exciting. The texture is great - light due to the cream content but the addition of oreos creates a contrasting crunch. I paired this icing with the chocolate buttermilk cupcakes which I posted earlier, and topped some of them with mini oreo biscuits.

Ingredients for Icing
1 cup thickened cream (full fat)
1 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
9 crushed Oreo biscuits


Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the cream, icing sugar and vanilla together for 1 minute on medium speed. Then turn the speed to high and whisk until stiff. Stir in the crushed cookies. Place on top of your choice of cupcake.

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