plum drizzle cake

30 Jan 2017

As soon as plums appeared at my fruit shop a week or two back I knew it was time to make the annual plum cake. How much do I love plum cake? Well lots and lots judging by the number of plum cake recipes in the archives. But how could I make the cake a little different this year? I decided to use hazelnut meal in the batter, instead of the usual almond or walnut meal and iced it as well, something I've not done before.

This is my go to butter cake recipe and you can top it with just about any type of fruit or berry or combination of the two. To make the cake extra moist I placed a layer of sliced plums in the centre of the cake mixture. 

In a stroke of genius I decided to ice the cake and used some of the left over plum juices to make the icing. The icing tinted by the plum juice was such a gentle pretty pink colour. If you decide not to ice the cake then dredge the top of the cake with an extra tablespoon of caster sugar as new season plums can be quite tart.

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. This recipe makes a 17 cm cake. If you'd like to make a 23cm/9 inch cake, just double all the ingredients and bake for the same amount of time.

Plum Drizzle Cake - makes a 17 cm cake
5 small plums
1 tablespoon caster sugar
125 grams (4 oz) unsalted butter
100 grams (½ cup) caster sugar
1½ tsp finely grated lemon rind
1 egg
¾ cup self raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ cup almond, walnut or hazelnut meal
60 – 90 mls (¼ - ⅓ cup) milk

60 g pure icing sugar, sieved
1 tsp softened butter
1-2 tbl reserved plum juice

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F conventional oven. Grease and flour a 17 cm spring-form tin and line the base with baking paper.

Cut the plums in half and remove the pits. Slice each plum into quarters, put into a small bowl and sprinkle over the tablespoon of caster sugar. Set aside.

To make the cake, cream the butter, sugar and lemon rind in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until combined well. Sift the flour and the baking powder together then mix through the nut meal. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk to make a soft batter. You may not need to use all the milk. Spoon half the batter into the greased and lined tin. Layer a few of the plum slices over the top of the batter. Gently spoon the remaining batter over the fruit. Arrange the remaining plum slices over the top of the cake. Don't throw out any of the juice left in the bowl because you'll need this for the icing. If you're not going to ice the cake, then sprinkle an additional 1 tbs of caster sugar over the plum slices. 

Bake the cake for 1 hour or until the cake tests cooked when a skewer is inserted into it. Some of the plums may sink to the bottom of the tin while cooking. This is completely normal so don't worry. Cool the cake in the tin for about 15 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing combine the icing sugar and butter in a small bowl until the butter is incorporated. Add sufficient of the reserved plum liquid to make a thin icing. Drizzle over the top of the cake and allow to set before serving.

A slice of very moist plum cake. Perfect.

See you all again soon,

Bye for now,



frozen raspberry whip

23 Jan 2017

During the Christmas break I went through some of my old recipe books wondering why some books have become old favourites whilst others, I've never used. While thumbing through my copy of "Marie Claire: Zest" by Michele Cranston I found a recipe for frozen raspberry whip and as it's berry season in Sydney, I decided to give it a go.

Raspberries are never ever inexpensive in Sydney so I've made this twice now with defrosted frozen berries. It's so easy to make and a scoop atop some fruit salad is the perfect dessert for this hot summer.

Best of all it only requires a few ingredients and hardly any preparation time.

Here's the recipe for you. As always I use a 250ml cup and a 20ml tablespoon and my eggs are 60g.

Frozen Raspberry Whip, recipe adapted from "Marie Claire: Zest" by Michele Cranston

Raspberry Whip - serves 4-6
150g fresh raspberries, or defrosted frozen berries
2 tsp lime or lemon juice
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 egg white

To serve
Watermelon and berry salad

Whip the raspberries, lime juice, sugar and egg white with electric beaters or in a stand mixer using the whisk attachment for 5 mins or until the mixture is tripled in size and is very light and fluffy. Spoon into a container and freeze for a few hours or overnight. 

Just before serving, combine the diced watermelon and assorted berries with the lime syrup and let them sit and macerate for 5 mins before serving with a scoop of the raspberry whip.

Lime Syrup, adapted from a Curtis Stone recipe
1/3 cup sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Stir the sugar, 2 tablespoons of water, lime zest, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of lime juice in a small heavy saucepan over high heat until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a boil. Let the syrup cool completely, and then refrigerate it until cold. Strain the chilled syrup into a small bowl. 

See you all again later in the week with some more Blue Mountain photos.

Bye for now,


shopshoot - the press shop

16 Jan 2017

I escaped Sydney for a few days last week, running away to the Blue Mountains. I didn't take the direct route though and travelled first to Bowral for lunch before driving across Sydney to the foot of the Blue Mountains. 

The reason for the detour to Bowral? To visit the brand new Press Shop Cafe and Bespoke Letterpress shop in the newly redeveloped Dirty Jane's Emporium. The shop and cafe are the brain child of my friend Alischa Herrman.

I visited the shop on a bright sunny summer's day and the cafe was filled to the brim, so much so I had to get my lunch at another cafe!

The cafe is decked out in shades of pale blue, white and marble with timber trims and touches of brass.

I really loved the marble topped outdoor tables and those cute salt and pepper shakers.

At the rear of the cafe is the Bespoke Letterpress shop. This collage gives you an overview of the shop.

You can see the presses through the glass windows.

Some of the stationery goods for sale.

and lastly this beautiful ribbon display.

It was time to explore Dirty Jane's where I discovered the just opened Orangery, part of the Potting Shed in Bowral.

Here's a taste of what I found inside.

An eclectic collection of items on display, all highly covetable.

A few more pretty items I found outside in the Potting Shed.

Lots of  rusty, wire plants and terracotta pots.

I just loved this scene so much, I photographed it twice!

Well maybe three times.

And a final image before I left to find some lunch before driving to Wentworth Falls.

I've lived in Sydney for a long time now but I tend to travel between the east where I live and the north and inner west because that's where my friends live. As I drove from Bowral and headed further and further west, I passed suburbs I'd only heard about but had never visited. I now know where Badgery's Creek is located, home to Sydney's long awaited second airport and I can tell you, it's a long long way away from the centre of Sydney. I also discovered the suburb of Luddenham.

Apparently Luddenham is known for it's strawberries, Christmas trees and a race track but it was this sweet little church, St James, that made me stop and turn around.

It was a really hot day so I didn't linger long but I loved everything about it.

The stone work, the stained glass windows and the simple cross and bell.

And of course the quintessentially Australian galvanized iron roof.

As I walked back to the car I spied this rickety fence. What lurked behind?

I found this old house in an advanced state of decrepitude. 

This was as close as I could get due to all the fencing. Someone clearly didn't want any-one inside this house.

The view from the other side. See what I mean?

My favourite shot of the day - that blistered green paint, the orange vine, the old tin roof and thistles in the overgrown garden. What's not to love?

It's still too hot here to cook, so next time I'll share some photos from my time in the Blue Mountains or the Blue Hills, as my Swiss friend refers to them.

Bye for now,



watermelon mint and feta salad

9 Jan 2017

It's summer in Sydney and so far it's been quite a hot one. With the temperature close to 40°C one day, cooking was out of the question and all I could think of was salad and in particular watermelon, mint and feta salad.

I consulted my recipe books and decided to use a recipe from Nigella Lawson's book, Nigella Summer. I figured the feta added enough salt so I decided to leave out the olives in the recipe and instead added slices of cucumber. Off to the shops I went to buy watermelon, mint and cucumbers.  

It's one of those recipes that relies solely on the quality of the produce, so use in season watermelon, the freshest herbs and the best feta cheese you can find. 

Watermelon mint and feta salad, serves: 8 lightly adapted from this Nigella Lawson recipe.

1 small red onion
2-3 limes, juiced
1½ kilograms watermelon (sweet and ripe)
250 grams feta cheese
1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
1 bunch fresh mint (chopped)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small cucumber, strip peeled and thinly sliced
black pepper

Peel and halve the red onion and slice very thinly. Place the sliced onions in a small bowl with the juice of 2 limes and leave until the onion becomes transparent.

Remove the rind and pips from the watermelon, and cut into triangles. Cut the feta into similar sized pieces and put them both into a large, wide shallow bowl. Tear off sprigs of parsley and roughly tear the mint into pieces and add to the bowl.

Enjoy as is or as a side salad.

Tip the onions and lime juice over the salad in the bowl, add the oil and cucumber, then toss the salad very gently so that the feta and melon don't lose their shape. Add some black pepper and taste to see whether the dressing needs more lime juice or additional seasoning.

See you all again soon with some photos from Bowral in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.

Bye for now,

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