a passionfruit tart

31 Oct 2011

I've always loved the taste of passionfruit. Passionfruit are quite expensive at the moment but when they're on special at the fruit market I buy up big and freeze the pulp. I've been making passionfruit tarts for many years and I've always used the same recipe. A year or two ago the recipe suddenly stopped working for me. The pastry shell would split and half the filling would leak out creating a big mess or else the filling would turn out really frothy.

I'm kind of known for my paper thin pastry but after way too many disasters, I decided to adapt the recipe slightly and made my pastry a teensy bit thicker than usual. This Matt Moran recipe from Gourmet Traveller is very close to the one I used. In addition to the passionfruit juice, I used some blood orange juice to maintain the vibrant colour of the filling.

Eureka! The tart came out perfectly. I took the tart into work and when it was discovered by the throng, I could hear squeals coming from the office. They do like this tart.

I took my slice home and decided to pretty it up a bit with some passionfruit syrup and slices of just ripe mango. I probably like mango even more than I like passionfruit. Yum!

I've gone a bit pastry crazy the past few weeks. I've got one tart post in the wings and another one or two in the pipeline, so stay tuned.

I hope you all had lovely weekends. See you all again on Wednesday,


mini lemon poppyseed cakes

26 Oct 2011

Which flavour do you prefer, lemon or chocolate? We were talking about this at work the other day. Personally I love lemon desserts and I seem to have been baking lots of lemony flavoured treats recently.

I found this recipe flicking through one of our old magazines at work. The recipe calls for whole lemons, which are first cooked in water, then pureed.

I thought that sounded interesting so I made a half quantity of the recipe and whipped up some mini lemon poppyseed cakes.

I took the cakes into work and the test audience gave them the thumbs up. They liked the cakes because of their dense texture. The cake was all gone before I had a chance to taste it but I kept 2 aside for my friend B and she also gave them the thumbs up, so I guess the recipe is a keeper.

I'm off to meet a friend for dinner so I've got to fly. Ill be back again next week with some more baking, so until then,


Christmas baking

I love Christmas baking and usually I whip up a batch of mince pies as well as a Christmas cake and some kind of shortbread cookie. Each year I make something special for the blog and last year it was these cranberry and shortbread stars.

How would you like to email me ( your favourite Christmas baked goodies recipe and why it's your favourite and I'll pick one or two to bake and feature on the blog? I've been thinking about this for a while, inspired by this feature by Sweet Paul. I'd need the recipes by the end of November by the latest so get cracking!

I hope you're enjoying your weekends,


sweet and spicy souvenirs - labour and wait measuring spoons

24 Oct 2011

Here's another purchase from my trip, some porcelain measuring spoons from Labour and Wait.

labour and wait measuring spoons

Labour and Wait had lots of things I wanted to buy but with limited space, anything I bought had to be small. These spoons filled the bill.

delhi chutney

Last month, I ran out of home made chutney so I put the new measuring spoons to use. The chutney recipe I use has loads of spices in it - cayenne pepper, ginger, dried mustard and turmeric.

delhi chutney

I've been making this recipe for years and serve it as an accompaniment to curries. It's called Delhi chutney and it's a spicy chutney made from apples, dates, mangoes and onions. I've tried to track the recipe down for you on the web without any luck at all. I can find mango chutney and apple and date chutney but nothing that combines all three ingredients.

The recipe makes quite a chunky mix and like a good wine, the flavour matures the longer you store the chutney. I'm planning to serve the chutney with a chicken korma curry that's on the menu for this week.

delhi chutney

Another busy weekend with lots of baking, Sunday lunch with a friend and a successful shoe shopping trip. 

See you all again on Wednesday,


Sweet and spicy souvenir - Mulberry Frangipane Tart

19 Oct 2011

Today's souvenir is a confiture jar I picked up in Paris at BHV but what to match it with? Last week one of my workmates handed over a small container of mulberries. When I was growing up, every-one had a mulberry tree in their back yard. We didn't, but the branches from the next door neighbour's tree conveniently overhung the back fence. I love mulberries and my fingertips were often stained with the tell tale mauve evidence of my pilfering.

mulberry frangipane tart

I was meeting friends for lunch last Sunday and it was my task to bring along the dessert, so I pondered for a moment and decided to make a mulberry frangipane tart. I made up my own recipe but based it loosely upon this one here. I didn't have enough time or mulberries to make my own mulberry jam but bought some French blackberry jam instead.

I get up really early each Sunday to get my baking underway before a 9.15 a.m. cycle class. It's pretty early but the light is so nice then.

I topped the tart with slivered almonds. I'd planned to sift some icing sugar over the tart before serving I but forgot to take it with me.

mulberry frangipane tart

I took a little slice home with me to taste, as I'd not made this before.

mulberry frangipane tart

When it was time to taste my slice, it was pretty nice and soon after, I received an sms from my friend thanking me for the yummy tart. I'm sure I'll be making this tart again next Mulberry season.

Bye for now,


Chocolate Stout Cake

17 Oct 2011

Last year I made some Chocolate Stout cupcakes with cream cheese icing. Whilst they were tasty, I couldn't get any-one to eat them. I ate most of them myself and gave the rest to my workmates with sons. I thought I'd try making the recipe again but this time I made a cake rather than cupcakes. Once the cake was baked and cooled, I put it into the deep freeze and pulled it out last week for a friend's birthday morning tea.

chocolate stout cake

Whilst I liked the flavour of the cupcakes, I didn't like the texture very much. I hunted down another recipe (they're all very similar by the way) and settled on this one on Smitten Kitchen but I changed the recipe substantially.

I ditched the melt and mix method instead creaming the butter and sugar before combining the eggs. I reduced the sugar substantially and added some yoghurt with the sour cream to lighten the mixture. The cake came out sky high and very moist. Of course when the time came to ice the cake, I had to use my favourite cream cheese icing recipe, using a bit of sour cream to tie in all the flavours.

I'm not really a chocolate cake fan, so I didn't have a slice but I tasted the crumbs and scraped the bowl and can tell you its a pretty tasty cake. What did my work colleagues think?

I think to say it went down well was a bit of an understatement. As the word went around that I'd baked a chocolate cake, people came out out of the woodwork. The recipe was requested and I was told it was the best chocolate cake they'd ever tasted. There's another farewell morning tea coming up soon, and I've made a small version cake using this recipe but this time I'm going to ice it using some leftover ganache I found in the freezer. I'll let you know what the test audience thinks.

I hope you all had great weekends. I did a bit of shopping, lots of baking, met a friend for sushi and watched the Australia vs New Zealand Rugby World Cup semi-final. Congratulations to New Zealand who were certainly the better team on the day.

See you all Wednesday and don't forget to send me your favourite Christmas baking recipes,


Austrian Coffee Cake

12 Oct 2011

I was home in Brisbane recently, visiting my parents and of course, the cat.

Miss M

I hunted through the cupboard under the oven looking for some old baking tins. The first thing that fell out was this kugelhopf tin
Dad used to make butter cakes when I was growing up, and this was the tin he used. We figured it's probably older than I am, which would make it vintage!

austrian coffee cake

I rifled through an old cookbook, Margaret Fulton's Creative Cookery Course and found this recipe for Austrian Coffee Cake, which I've been dying to make for ever. The first time I saw the cake pictured in a magazine, it had been baked in a kugelhopf tin so that's what I used. 

Now the thing is, I don't like the taste of coffee at all but my Mum does and as  today is her birthday, I thought I'd make something that she likes. Dad also has a whiz bang coffee machine so I knew he'd like to use his barista skills.

The tin might be vintage but the cake came out perfectly.The cake is a simple butter cake which is soaked in a coffee syrup (I skipped the rum) then covered in whipped cream. Mum can't eat cream so I left the cake unadorned and when cut, the cake was very moist and had a 2 toned appearance.

austrian coffee cake

When I left for Sydney, the cake looked like this -

austrian coffee cake

I'm not sure if there's any cake left but a big Happy Birthday to my Mum in Brisbane. 

Happy Birthday Mama,



whole lemon squares

10 Oct 2011

How did the Wallabies win that game? How did I not have a heart attack whilst watching the last 4 minutes of the match? Back to the matter at hand. Although I love cooking, most of the blogs I follow are wedding photography blogs, a few design blogs and friend's blogs. I only follow a few food related blogs but I do like David Lebovitz's blog, which I dip into from time to time when I need a bit of inspirationOctober is the month in which the Sydney Crave Food Festival is held. When I looked through the list of chefs presenting at Crave, there was David's name. When I checked the date, I realised I'd be out of town that particular weekend. Of course.

A few weeks ago I made some mini lemon and poppyseed cakes, which have yet to make it to the blog. They're sitting in a plastic container in the freezer as I write this. The cake recipe called for whole lemons simmered in water for 20 minutes. I only used one of the lemons and was wondering what to do with the other lemon, when I checked David's blog to find this recipe.

whole lemon squares

So I whizzed up my cooked lemon, skin and all and added it to my regular lemon squares recipe without making any other changes and kept my fingers crossed that the mixture would set. There was clearly more topping, which is a good thing and the top didn't dry out as usual. I took the lemon squares into work and didn't say a word.

I tried a corner of one of the squares and they were a little too bitter for my taste. Next time I make the lemon squares, I'll remove the peel and reserve it, then remove the pith from the lemon first before quartering pureeing the flesh.
Lemon squares are always a favourite and I felt sure someone would notice a difference as the whole lemon squares certainly had a bitter edge to them. No-one said a word. 

I hope you all enjoyed the weekend. I tried to finish some half completed projects; bought a bag on sale to use as a stylish shooting bag and had lunch with a friend. All in all, it was a pretty good weekend.

See you all soon,


sweet and spicy souvenirs - cinnamon scented lamb and a ladle

5 Oct 2011

When I was in London I spied a slightly retro looking enamel ladle in Pedlars at Selfridges. It was so appealling, before I knew it it was wrapped in aqua tissue paper and had found it's way into my backpack where it stayed until I returned to Sydney. But what food to match it with????

Well I found this simple looking recipe by Neil Perry in the weekend paper and went on a search for shoulder of lamb.

I prefer to slow cook dishes in the oven rather than on the stove top so I cooked the lamb at 160C for about 1 and 1/2 hours and it was delicious. I also oven roasted the eggplant slices for 40 minutes at 200C to try to reduce the fat content of the dish. If possible, I prefer to make casseroles or stews the day before I serve them. 

Casseroles taste so much better on the second day but it also means I can remove any excess fat from the dish. As suggested, I've made the recipe using beef but it's nowhere near as nice as the lamb version. I'm yet to try making the dish with chicken but I will.

I hope your week has gone well. I'm back from my 4 day trip to Brisbane so I'm working a 3 day week this week. I have to say, so far I'm really liking it!

Thanks to Juliana for coming up with an idea for the title for today's post. I'll be back to see you all again next week,


upside down pear and ginger cake

3 Oct 2011

It might be spring in Sydney but autumn fruits are still in the fruit shops. I bought some corella pears a few weeks ago and I've been waiting for them to ripen. I've been making this upside down pear, ginger and hazelnut cake from Gourmet Traveller magazine for about 10 years now. The original recipe makes a 23 cm cake but I knew I hadn't bought enough of the tiny pears for a tin of that size.

upside down pear and ginger cake

I also wanted to use a loaf pan that's been in my pot drawer for a year now. It was one of the vintage tins I purchased from etsy some time back. I had enough mixture left over to make 2 texas muffin size mini cakes. So into the oven they went and into the shower I went. The brown sugar and butter layer bubbled over and someone hadn't placed a tin under the cake pan, so it hit the base of the oven and started to burn, creating a pall of smoke in my flat.

upside down pear and ginger cake

Off went the smoke alarm and before I had time to get out of the shower, change and deal with the smoke alarm, my next door neighbour had switched the alarm off in the hallway then knocked on my front door to check I was okay.

upside down pear and ginger cake

I thought it was so sweet of him that I took the 2 mini cakes over to his flat as a thank-you.

I tinkered with the recipe a bit (now there's a surprise, not) by adding an extra teaspoon of ground ginger; using crystallised ginger instead of the more mild glace ginger specified in the recipe and some extra buttermilk. From past experience this is one of those cakes that must be allowed to cool completely before turning out, otherwise it will break into pieces.

Here's the recipe for you -

Pear and Ginger Cake (from Gourmet Traveller)

60g melted butter
80g (⅓ cup) firmly packed brown sugar
3 beurre bosc pears, peeled cored and thinly sliced

125 g softened butter, chopped
170 g brown sugar (¾ cup lightly packed)
2 eggs
50 g chopped glace ginger
75 g (⅔ cup) hazelnut meal
310 g (2¼ cups) plain flour
1 tbs ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp coriander
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup milk
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 1 tbs boiling water

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease and line the base of a 23 cm/9 inch tin with greaseproof paper. Pour in the melted butter, sprinkle with the brown sugar and layer with the thinly sliced pears.

Cream the extra butter and brown sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time. Fold in the chopped ginger and the ground hazelnuts. Sift the flour with the baking powder and spices, fold into the cake mixture alternately with the milk and buttermilk. Finally stir in the bicarbonate of soda.

Spoon the mixture over the pear slices. Bake at 180°C/350°F for 50-60 minutes or until golden and cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool completely before turning out.

I took the cake into work the following day and and there was about 1/4 of the cake left by the end of the day. The following day I was told the ginger flavour had intensified further which I think is a good thing. I've not tried the cake yet as I'm in Brisbane at the moment, visiting the family. My slice of cake is still at home in the freezer.

Thanks for the nice emails and facebook comments on Tiff and Gareth's wedding photos.

I hope you all had great weekends. See you all again on Wednesday,

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