apple cinnamon cake

26 Aug 2013

Do you remember I made an apple cinnamon cake a few months ago? Whilst it was nice I thought I could make it better so here's my second attempt.

I made the cake when I was home in Brisbane and I thought about making an upside down cake but the cake tin I'd brought with me leaked when I tested it. Instead I baked it in my favourite little spring form tin; iced it with apple flavoured glace icing and topped the cake with some whole walnuts.

Now I can never stop fiddling with recipes or as I like to think of it, improving them. I used more apples in this recipe and instead of grating them I chopped them coarsely before adding the chopped apple to the cake batter.

The chopped apple was pretty chunky so I was a bit worried the apples wouldn't cook through.

The apple glace icing was something I've not tried before. I thought it tasted great and I can see I'll be using it again in the future.

Here's the recipe for you, which makes a 17 cm cake. For a 23 cm cake, just double all the ingredients but keep the baking time the same.

Apple Cinnamon Cake
1½ cups coarsely chopped, peeled cooking apples
1 (20 ml) tablespoon lemon juice
1¼ cups plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
100 g melted unsalted butter
⅓ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
¼ cup milk or buttermilk
½ cup walnut pieces

½ cup sifted icing sugar
2 teaspoons butter, melted
The reserved apple and lemon juice.
Additional 1 tablespoon apple juice
Whole walnuts for decoration

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.

Grease and line a 17 cm spring form tin with baking paper.

Combine the coarsely chopped apple and the lemon juice in a small bowl. Set to one side for 20 minutes. Drain the apples, reserving the juice for the icing. Sift the dry ingredients into a small bowl. Set to one side.

In a medium size bowl combine the melted butter, the sugars and vanilla. Add the egg and beat until well combined. Add the flour and sufficient milk to make a soft batter. Gently fold in the chopped apple and nuts. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and smooth the top. 

Place the cake tin on the middle shelf in the oven and bake for 50 - 60 minutes at 180°C/350°F or until the cake is cooked when tested. If the cake is browning too quickly you may have to cover the top with a piece of greaseproof paper.
Place the tin a wire rack to cool. When the cake is cool, remove it from the tin and discard the lining paper.

In a small bowl, combine the sifted icing sugar and the butter. Add the reserved apple juice and enough juice to make a spreadable icing. Spread the icing over the top of the cake, allowing a little to drizzle down the sides. Let the icing to set a little before decorating with the walnut halves.

If you like, you could leave the cake un-iced and just dust it with icing sugar before serving with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. 

P.S One day I will make the upside down version of this apple cake!

See you all again next week,



farro risotto with caramelised vegetables - le creuset love

19 Aug 2013

I've just been on a quick trip home to Brisbane. I did manage to make a cake while I was home but I haven't had any time to prepare the images. Hopefully I'll get that on the blog in the next week or two. Instead I'm bringing you something I made a few weeks ago.

Have you ever cooked with farro? I bought a packet a month ago to make a side dish and with half a packet leftover, I wanted to find ways to use it. I chose this recipe for barley risotto and used farro instead of the barley.

Farro is a very nutty grain and it will never get really soft no matter how long you cook it, so think of this more as a warm grain salad than a risotto.

You oven roast the vegies and next time I make this, I would change the cooking time a little. The beetroot takes quite a long time to cook, so I'd put that in first adding the carrot and pumpkin about 10 minutes later followed by the onion and garlic.

I used my new Le Creuset pan to cook the farro. You may have noticed this blog isn't sponsored so if I use a product, it's because it's something I bought for myself and really use. This was a birthday gift so I now own two; I use them all the time and love them.

It's a very tasty dish which I served with salmon one night and steak the other. I can't wait to make it again, but as I've used all the farro, this time I'll make it with barley.

See you all again next week with something sweet, but if you can't wait and you're looking for some more of my recipes, my latest Delicious Bites post for passion fruit cupcakes can be found here.

Bye for now,


spiced moroccan meatball soup - delicious magazine

12 Aug 2013

My friends know me very well. For my birthday they give me food styling products and subscriptions to food magazines. One of my favourite food magazines is Delicious magazine. Generally the recipes are easy to make and full of flavour.

I found this recipe for spiced moroccan meatball soup in the July 2013 issue and I've made it about 4 times since then. You can prepare the broth and the meatballs in advance, have the vegetables chopped and the whole meal can be put together in about 20 minutes. The recipe uses loads of herbs and spices, fresh coriander stems as well as the leaves and the piece de resistance, Israeli pearl couscous.

Israeli couscous is much larger than regular couscous and doubles it's size when cooked.

The original recipe used beef mince to make the meatballs but recently I've been using lamb mince. I haven't been to Morocco yet so I'm not sure which meat makes the more authentic version but either version is delicious.

I've not made any other changes to the recipe but I have changed the timing a little. I don't like mushy zucchini so I add it last. My couscous takes 10 minutes to cook so I add it in with the carrots. Also fry the meatballs just before you use them for the best texture. Otherwise they toughen so if you do make them in advance, rewarm the meatballs before you place them in the soup.

Here's the recipe for you.

Spiced Moroccan Meatball Soup
2½ tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic coves, crushed 
1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ground ginger 
2 tsp ground cumin
½ bunch coriander, leaves picked and stems chopped 
½ tsp dried chilli flakes 
2 carrots and 2 zucchinis, cut into 1 cm pieces 
4 cups (1L) chicken or vegetable stock 
500 g beef or lamb mince 
1 egg, lightly beaten 
⅔ cup (50g) fresh breadcrumbs 
1 cup (200g) pearl (Israeli) couscous 
½ cup (40g) flaked almonds

Heat 1 tbs oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add half each of the onion and garlic, then cook stirring for 2-3 minutes until softened. Stir in cinnamon, ginger and 1 tsp cumin, then cook for a further 2 minutes or until fragrant. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Using your hands, combine the cooled onion mixture, mince, egg and crumbs in a bowl and season. Roll into walnut size balls then chill for 10 minutes.

Return pan to medium heat with 2 tsp oil. Add coriander stems and remaining onion and garlic, then cook stirring for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add chilli flakes and remaining 1 tsp cumin, then cook for a further minute or until fragrant. Stir in the carrot, the couscous, stock and 1 cup (250 ml) water, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes or until the carrot has softened.

While the soup is cooking, heat the remaining 1 tbs oil in a fry pan over medium-high heat. Cook meatballs in batches for 2-3 minutes or until browned. Add the meatballs to the soup and cook for a further 2-3 minutes before adding the zucchini. Cook for a further 3 minutes or until just tender. To serve, sprinkle with coriander leaves and almonds.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekends.

See you all again soon,


blood orange and almond cake

5 Aug 2013

If you look back through my archives you'll find a few posts featuring blood oranges. When I was growing up, blood oranges weren't available in Australia. It wasn't until a school trip to Europe that I first discovered their existence. I ordered a very expensive glass of orange juice when we were in Italy and when the waiter brought it to me, I thought he'd given me tomato juice. Despite the colour the juice was delicious and almost worth the price we paid. 

Now whenever blood oranges are in season I try to find new ways of using them. It's not just the colour that's so appealling, the flavour is a bit more astringent than that of a regular orange.

Last year I made a version of this cake and due to jet lag, it was a bit of a disaster. I thought I'd revisit the cake which I made with a few modifications to the recipe. My polenta flour has gone AWOL, so I left it out entirely making this a blood orange and almond cake.

I made a mini version of the recipe and bought 3 blood oranges at the fruit market and I used every-one of them in the recipe. Blood oranges are a bit smaller than regular oranges so you made need a 4th orange to cover the top of the cake.

When the cake came out of the oven I decided not to douse it with blood orange syrup. Instead I glazed the top with some warm apricot jam thinned down with blood orange juice.

Here's the recipe for you.
250g unsalted butter, softened
200g caster sugar
Finely grated rind of 2 blood oranges
3 eggs
1½ cups self raising flour
½ cup almond meal
The juice of 1 blood orange
2 - 3 blood oranges, rind, pith and seeds removed and sliced horizontally
Apricot jam to glaze

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease and flour a 23cm/9 inch tin and line the base with baking paper.

Sift the flour and almond meal together into a small bowl. Set to one side. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, orange rind and caster sugar. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs then mix into butter mixture. If the mixture starts to look curdled, add a spoonful of the flour mixture.

Add the remaining flour mixture to the batter alternating with the orange juice to make a soft batter. If the batter looks too thick add a little more juice. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and arrange the blood oranges slices on top.

Bake the cake in the preheated 180°C/350°F oven for about 45 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and cake is cooked when tested with a skewer. Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack.

If desired, just before serving glaze the top of the cake with warmed sieved apricot jam.

I took the cake into work with me today and by lunch time there wasn't a morsel left - always a good sign. I had a little slice and I have to say this is a winner. I'd still make a few changes though. Almond meal is heavier than flour so the cake didn't rise as much as I'd hoped - perhaps a teaspoon of baking powder would help. I'd also add a bit more grated orange rind to give the cake a bit more oomph. 

I hope you enjoy the cake as much as I did.

Bye for now,

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