summer berry and nectarine crumble muffins

29 Feb 2016

When I started this blog I didn't include the recipes, just links. So many websites have changed their addresses since that time, rendering the links useless. Since January I've been revisiting all my old posts reconnecting many of those old links. I also noticed how many comments I used to receive. You've all become very quiet of late which makes me wonder if I've lost all my old readers. I do so hope you're still out there.

One of the posts I revisited was this recipe for summer berry and white chocolate muffins, which was a bit of a disaster. As we're having a long hot summer here in Sydney I decided to remake them last weekend using this Ottolenghi recipe as my inspiration. I did make quite a few changes to the recipe.

I love raspberries and as they're in season, I used them instead of blueberries. Raspberries are always so expensive in Sydney so I used frozen berries in the muffin mix but topped each muffin with a few fresh raspberries. The original recipe contained a chopped green apple but I used a large nectarine instead. I had buttermilk in the fridge so I used that instead of regular milk and I used some pecan crumble mixture that was already lurking in the fridge.

Here's the recipe for you. Here's the recipe for you, which makes 12 regular sized muffins. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Summer Berry Crumble Muffins inspired by Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

Makes 12 regular sized muffins.

270 g plain flour
2½ tsp baking powder
1 large egg
170 g caster sugar
70 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
190 ml buttermilk
½ tsp grated lemon rind
1 large nectarine, cut into 1cm dice
100 g fresh or frozen berries (I used raspberries) plus extra for topping

35g plain flour
55g brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
70g pecans or walnuts
30g cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks

To make the crumble
Put the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg into a food processor and briefly whiz to combine. Add the nuts and scatter the little chunks of cold butter over the top. Pulse just until the butter is incorporated and the nuts are the size of coarse breadcrumbs. Tip this mixture into a bowl and keep it in a cool spot. You won’t need all the crumble mixture for the muffins. It keeps forever in the fridge in an airtight container.

To make the muffins
Preheat the oven to 180°C /350°C. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, lightly whisk together the egg, sugar and melted butter. Whisk in the milk and lemon rind. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the milk mixture and fold together very gently. Make sure you stir the mix just enough to combine then gently fold in the fruit; it should remain lumpy and rough.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases to fill them up. Generously cover with the crumble topping to form small domes over the batter then dot with a few extra berries.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

Take out of the tins while still warm.

I took these into work and they disappeared pretty quickly, which is always a good sign.

See you all again next week with a very chocolatey cake.

Bye for now,


sunday special - egg, chorizo and gruyere breakfast bread

22 Feb 2016

Every January I go through my food magazines to cull the ever growing pile. I pulled out the April/May 2012 Donna Hay magazine and promptly bookmarked about 12 recipes I'd like to make.

With my new stove freshly installed, I decided it was high time to make something a bit special for my Sunday breakfast. I looked through the magazine and decide to make the egg, pancetta and gruyere bread recipe with a few minor changes. As I don't eat pancetta I swapped it for some chorizo I had in the freezer. The basil I had growing in a pot; the swiss cheese was already in the fridge so the only thing I had to buy were the truss tomatoes.

I decided to prepare the yeasted dough the previous evening and generally with a long slow prove you need less yeast so I reduced the quantity of yeast a little. The sugar in the dough recipe isn't necessary so I left it out completely.

This breakfast bread was one of the first things I baked in my new oven. I'm still working out the oven and which of the shelves to use, so the bread isn't as golden as I would have liked but it didn't alter the taste, which was delicious! 

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Egg, Chorizo and Gruyère Breakfast Bread - adapted from Donna Hay Magazine
Servings: 4-6

1½ cups 00 flour or plain flour plus extra, for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1tsp dry yeast
⅔ cup (160ml) warm water
½ tablespoon olive oil, plus extra, for drizzling,
4 eggs
½ small chorizo sausage, coarsely chopped
250g truss cherry tomatoes
1 cup (100g) grated gruyere cheese
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
⅓ cup basil leaves
Salt and pepper

The night before you plan to make the breakfast bread, prepare the dough. Place the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl. Add the olive oil and water and bring together to form a dough or you can do all this in a stand mixer with the dough hook. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in a large bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and put into the fridge to prove overnight. The following day remove the dough from the fridge (which will have risen overnight) and bring to room temperature. 

Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F). Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to make a 25cm square. Transfer to a deep-sided 25cm-square baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and push dough into the edges. Crack the eggs onto the dough and top with the chorizo and tomatoes. Sprinkle with the cheese, chilli flakes and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 12–14 minutes or until golden. 

This will make firm eggs so if you prefer runny eggs, I'd add them halfway through the cooking time. Also truss tomatoes look pretty and photograph well but they're not that practical as you have to fish the twigs out of the bread before you can eat it so next time I'd just use cherry tomatoes.

Believe it or not I've just had the stove installed for a second time so I'm hoping all will be smooth sailing for now. See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


plum and walnut cake

15 Feb 2016

As you know I have a bit of a thing about plums - 10 plum recipes on the blog to date and counting. It's plum season here in Sydney so while these beauties are in the shops I've been baking as many plum desserts as I can. If you think this plum cake recipe sounds familiar it's because it is. A recipe for Nigel Slater's Moist Plum Cake first appeared on my blog in 2012 and I've been planning to remake it ever since. 

Why you might ask? In it's first incarnation, all the plums sank to the bottom of the cake. Whilst the cake was very moist and delicious it didn't look so pretty so I thought I'd work on a way of keeping some of the plum slices on top of the cake.

I've made this cake twice now and by swapping the proportions of the flour and almond meal; cutting the plums into thinner slices and making 2 layers of plums I think I've got this cake sorted out in the best possible way.

The cake is still very moist but best of all you still have plum slices on the top of the cake. How many plums you'll need will be determined by the type of plums available. I used a combination of sugar plums and red plums which are quite small so I used about 12 plums.

Here's the recipe for you, which makes a 17 cm cake. if you want to make a 20 cm cake refer to the original recipe. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C

Plum and walnut cake, adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe
100g unsalted butter
100 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
12 plums
2 large eggs
70 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
35g toasted walnuts, finely chopped 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.Grease and line a 17cm tin with baking paper. Meanwhile, halve the plums, remove the stones, then cut each half into quarters. Sprinkle over half a tablespoon of caster sugar and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until it is pale and fluffy. Beat the eggs lightly with a fork, then gradually add to the butter and sugar mixture. Sift the four and baking powder together then fold them gently into the mixture. Fold in the ground almonds followed by the walnuts. 

Spoon half the mixture into the cake tin. Place half the plum slices in concentric circles on top of the batter without overlapping, then carefully spoon the remaining mixture over the plums. Place the remaining plum slices decoratively on the cake. 

Bake for 1 hour in the centre of the oven, then test with a skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 15 minutes before turning out.

I had my slice for dessert and it was as moist and delicious as I remembered. I took the rest of the cake into work today and not one crumb is left - a very good sign.

See you all again next week.

Bye for now,


plate 2 plate - jo rodgers chocolate hazelnut and rosemary pie

8 Feb 2016

For this month's Plate Plate post, Juliana suggested something chocolate flavoured in honour of Valentine's Day. I've only recently discovered instagram and in particular Jo Rodgers feed. When I saw these pictures of her Chocolate hazelnut and rosemary pie I thought I'd like to give the recipe a try.

Assembling the ingredients - photo by Juliana.

As a nod to Valentine's Day I couldn't help myself and dug out my heart shaped cutters. The rosemary I used in the pie came from a small rosemary bush in my garden.

Juliana and I both made some changes to the recipe. Juliana left the syrup out entirely whilst I reduced the quantity of sugar.

I haven't made pastry for a while and used my food processor to speed up the process. Jo's pastry was very easy to handle. Oops, just noticed that some-one (that would be me) can't spell hazelnut.

Here's Juliana's pie out of the oven ready to be cut.

I'm always worried that the filling won't set so I added a tablespoon of flour to the filling. I needn't have bothered because it came out fine.

Here's a nice slice of the pie courtesy of Juliana.

For the original recipe click hereI made some adjustments as I didn't have enough light corn syrup and as it's a hard to find product in Sydney, I used some dark corn syrup and some golden syrup as well. Golden syrup is much sweeter than corn syrup, so I reduced the sugar a little. I always use a tablespoon of flour in my pecan pie to firm the filling a little so I did the same here. I also found that my flour and caster sugar weighed more, so I've noted the weight of the flour and sugar that I used. 100 g of whole hazelnuts wasn't enough to fill my 8 inch pie tin so I halved the hazelnuts. If you use whole hazelnuts, I think you'd need about 200g to fill the pie tin. 

For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C

Jo Rodgers’ Chocolate, Hazelnut, and Rosemary Pie (adapted)

For the pastry
1½ cups (225g) plain flour
¼ tsp salt
115g/4oz cold butter, diced
60ml (¼ cup) cold water
1 tbs milk

For the filling
100-200 g (¾ - 1½ cup) whole hazelnuts
3 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup each light corn syrup, dark corn syrup and golden syrup or ¾ cup of your chosen syrup
¾ cup (165g) caster sugar
1 tbs plain flour
100g melted unsalted butter
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
170g/6oz dark chocolate, chopped
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, for the top of the pie

To serve
Cream or mascarpone

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour and salt. Add the diced cold butter and whiz for about 10 seconds or until the butter is pea sized. Tip out on to a flat surface, make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the cold water. Using your hands, mix the water into the flour until dough is formed. Otherwise, on a flat work surface, combine the flour and salt, then incorporate the cold diced butter with your fingers. Rub the butter into the flour until the butter pieces are no larger than the size of peas then continue as above. Wrap the pastry in plastic and put in the fridge for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Toast the hazelnuts in the oven until they begin to get fragrant, about 7 minutes. Let the hazelnuts cool, then rub off the skins; you can do this with your fingers or a cloth towel.

Grease an 8-9 inch pie plate. Roll out the dough wider than your pie tin. Gently lay the dough into the tin and trim the overhanging dough with a sharp knife. Put the pie tin back in the fridge while you make the filling.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine eggs, the syrups, sugar, flour, melted butter, salt, and vanilla extract. Stir in the chopped rosemary. Take the pie tin out of the refrigerator, and brush the edges of the dough with milk. This will help the pie to brown nicely.

Spread the chopped chocolate evenly over the bottom of the pie. Pour the filling over the chocolate then arrange the hazelnuts in concentric circles on top of the filling. If you halve the hazelnuts you'll need about 100g. If you use whole hazelnuts, you'll need about 200g to fill the pie tin. Place the single sprig of rosemary in the centre of the pie.

Bake the pie for 1 hour at 180°C/350°F or until the pie is browned and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let cool for one hour before serving. Serve with a dollop of mascarpone or cream.

The finished product from Juliana whilst mine is below.

This recipe was a bit of a challenge for me as it's the first time I've cooked pastry in my new oven. The oven is slow so I found I had to bake the pie for an hour before the filling had set. The verdict - the pie is delicious  and it went down a treat at work but I found it very sweet. Next time I'd reduce the sugar even more, maybe to ½ cup in total to offset the syrup and the chocolate. 

Thanks to Jo for the inspiration and for Juliana for continuing with Plate 2 Plate challenge.

Until next time,



plum and apple chutney

1 Feb 2016

I made a chicken curry a few weeks back and used up the last of my Delhi Chutney, a spicy mango, apple and date chutney. I went out to buy tinned mango, a key ingredient in the chutney, but there was none at the supermarket. I had plums in the house, so I tracked down a recipe for plum chutney on the internet. I settled on a Nigel Slater recipe and as I didn't have  quite enough plums, I used some apple in the recipe.

I quite like making jams and chutneys, so I pulled out my low Le Creuset pan, measured out all the ingredients and set to work.

Once everything is measured out, all you need to do is stir regularly while its cooking and when the chutney is nice and thick, spoon it into hot sterilised jars. It's best to store the chutney for a while to let it mature. I used some on my lunch on Saturday.The chutney is pretty sharp at first but 2 weeks later the chutney had mellowed quite a bit. 

Here's the recipe for you, adapted from this Nigel Slater recipe.

Plum and Apple Chutney
500g plums
250g green apple
350g onions, chopped
125g raisins
250g light muscovado or brown sugar
1 tsp salt
½ tsp crushed dried chillies
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
150ml apple cider vinegar
150ml malt vinegar
a cinnamon stick broken in two

Halve the plums, discarding the stones. Peel core and dice the green apple then peel and roughly chop the onions. Put the fruit and the onions into a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to the boil and then reduce the heat to low.

Simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1½ - 2 hours until the mixture thickens. Don’t forget to stir it occasionally as it may catch if you don’t and you don’t want that to happen! Pour into hot and sterilised jam jars. Seal.

Store in a cool dark place. If you can, leave the chutney to mature for at least a month before using.

Next week Juliana and I are planning something special for Valentine's Day. I've just had a new stove fitted, so I'm hoping all goes well....

Bye for now,


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