seasons greetings

24 Dec 2018

It's been a long and tiring year so I'll be taking a short break from blogging and hope to see you all again January 7, 2019.

Wishing you all the best for the festive season. By the way, if you'd like the recipe for this fruit mince star bread it can be found here.

Bye for now,



xmas 2018 - mangomisu

21 Dec 2018

Welcome to Day 5, the last day of Christmas Week. I've had this recipe for Mangomisu bookmarked for ever.

hen mangoes and passionfruit started to appear in the fruit shop, I decided it was high time I made a mangomisu for this year's Christmas week. I went to the grocery store and came back with a huge package of savoiardi, enough to make 2 mangomisus, a container of mascarpone and some cream and I was good to go. As there is no cooking involved, it's hard to describe making this as baking, so we'll call it an assemblage.

I tweaked the recipe a bit based on some of the comments and the need to make it alcohol free for my work place. Although there's no baking involved, this isn't something you can throw together at the last minutes as the mangomisu needs to set for at least 2 hours before serving.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs.

1 egg yolk
35g pure icing sugar, sifted
300ml thickened cream
250g good-quality mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 small mangoes, flesh sliced ½ cm thick
Juice of 2 oranges – 150mls
¼ cup passionfruit pulp
18 small savoiardi (sponge finger biscuits)

To decorate
1 passionfruit
1 punnet raspberries

Line the base of a loaf pan (23cm x 10cm) with plastic wrap, foil or baking paper, leaving 2 cm overhanging.

Place the egg yolk and icing sugar, thickened cream, mascarpone and vanilla extract in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until stiff and well combined. Chill until needed.

Combine the orange juice and passionfruit pulp in the bowl of a food processor and whiz for a few seconds to separate the pulp from the seeds. Pour the juice through a fine sieve in a separate bowl. 

Dip a third of the sponge fingers into the juice mixture and layer in the base of the prepared pan. Spread with one-third of the mascarpone mixture, and top with one-third of the mango slices. Repeat the process, then top with the remaining mascarpone mixture, reserving the remaining mango slices to serve. Cover the cake and chill for 2 hours or overnight until firm.

To serve, carefully remove the mangomisu from cake pan and transfer the mangomisu to a platter. (I just trimmed the foil around the mangomisu once it was safely on the platter). Decorate with curls of the reserved mango and a few fresh raspberries then serve topped with passionfruit pulp.

Stand back and watch this disappear. This was an absolute hit at work and as I still have loads of sponge fingers spare, I have plans to make a berrymisu version in the New Year.

See you all again on Monday for my final post of the year.

Bye for now,



xmas 2018 - rhubarb and ricotta tart

20 Dec 2018

Welcome to Day 4 of Christmas Week 2018. Originally I'd planned to make a raspberry frangipane tart for this year's Christmas Week inspired by one I tried in Paris. Whilst looking through my copy of Flour and Stone I saw a photograph of a rhubarb and ricotta tart and soon changed my mind. I have a love for rhubarb and these days it's always available at my local fruit shop so inspired by the image, I decided to work on my own version. 

I used my almond shortcrust pastry for the base and the filling is an adaptation of the filling from the lemon ricotta tart. The oven baked rhubarb is another tried and true recipe. The quantity needed to top the tart is quite small so store the leftovers in the fridge and use it to top your muesli or as a dessert.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Rhubarb and Ricotta Tart – makes an oblong 10 x 30cm tart
Oven Roasted Rhubarb 
1 bunch rhubarb, stalks washed and trimmed
4 tablespoons caster sugar
The juice of half an orange
2 strips of orange rind, each strip ~ 5cm long
1 cinnamon stick

¼ cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
¼ cup almond meal
1⅓ cups plain flour
110 g (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
Cold water

150g fresh ricotta cheese
100g cream cheese at room temperature
50g mascarpone
⅓ cup caster sugar plus 1 additional tbs
2 eggs, separated
2 tsp grated orange rind 

To serve
250 mls thickened cream whipped to soft peaks

Oven roasted rhubarb
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cut the rhubarb stalks into 10cm lengths and place into a baking dish with the orange rind and the cinnamon stick. Sprinkle with the sugar and drizzle the rhubarb with the orange juice. Cover the dish with foil or a lid and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the rhubarb is cooked but still holds its shape. Remove the dish from the oven and allow the rhubarb to cool. When cool, remove the cinnamon stick (it can be washed and used again) and store the rhubarb in a sealed container in the fridge. You won’t need all the rhubarb for this recipe.

To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients in a food processor, and whiz for a few seconds until well combined and free of lumps. Add the cold butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and sufficient cold water and whiz until a soft dough just starts to form around the blade. Remove the dough from the food processor and gather the pastry into a ball; flatten slightly before wrapping in plastic and placing in the fridge. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes. You’ll only need about half of the pastry dough for this recipe. The pastry freezes well so just wrap the remaining pastry in plastic wrap and store in the freezer.

Grease a 10 x 30cm flan tin and place it on an oven tray. Line the tin with pastry, trim the edges then refrigerate for a further 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 190°C. Cover the pastry with a sheet of baking paper and fill the shell with baking beads or rice and blind bake for 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove the paper and beans from the pastry case and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes or until golden brown and the base is dry. If any cracks occur in the pastry, you can patch the holes with some leftover pastry.

Make the filling while the pastry is baking. Place the cheeses in the food processor and process until smooth. Add ⅓ cup caster sugar, the egg yolks and the orange rind and process again. In a clean dry bowl beat the egg whites until stiff. Add the extra tablespoon of sugar and beat until glossy. Pour the cheese mixture over the egg whites and gently fold together. Reduce the oven temperature to 170°C. Put the flan tin into the oven then carefully pour in the ricotta filling – you’ll have a little filling left over. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the filling has puffed and is just set. The tart should still have a wobble in the centre when you jiggle the tin. It will continue to cook and firm up when it is out of the oven and cooling. 

Allow to cool completely before decorating the top of the tart with the whipped cream and the rhubarb slices.

I know there are lots of steps in this recipe, but both the pastry and oven roasted rhubarb can be made in advance and the filling takes no time at all to prepare. I think it's worth the effort. When I took this into work,it was an absolute hit with my work mates. 

See you all tomorrow with the last of my Christmas Week bakes.

Bye for now,



xmas 2018 - chocolate orange tart

19 Dec 2018

Welcome to Day 3 of Christmas Week. I was looking through Sweet by Ottolenghi and Helen Goh and saw a photo of some little baked chocolate tarts. The tarts have a sweet surprise of either marmalade or tahini in the base. I'm not a huge tahini fan but I knew I had a pot of blood orange marmalade lurking in one of my cupboards. I located the pot of marmalade then put my thinking cap on and wondered if I could make a larger chocolate tart using the 17cm tart ring I'd carefully carried home from Paris.  

I used my favourite chocolate pastry recipe for the shell, then spooned some marmalade into the pre-cooked base. I then topped the marmalade with my favourite chocolate custard filling before baking the filling until it had just set. As I'd not made the tart before, I took it into work with my fingers crossed. I shouldn't have worried because the tart was a triumph - crisp chocolate pastry, silky smooth filling with a marmalade surprise in the base. I was going to candy some orange slices for decoration but instead bought a bag of chocolate dipped orange slices online. 

Here's the recipe for you which makes a 3 cm deep 17cm tart. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Chocolate Orange Tart Recipe - makes a 17cm tart
Chocolate Pastry
225 g (8 oz) plain flour
25 gm (¼ cup) cocoa 
125 g (4½ oz) unsalted butter chilled and cubed 
85 g (3 oz) caster sugar
1 egg, beaten

225g good-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 eggs
150ml thickened cream, plus extra whipped cream to serve (optional)
100ml milk
½ cup orange marmalade

Cocoa powder
Chocolate orange slices (optional)
Whipped cream

Place the flour, cocoa, butter and sugar in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Gradually add the beaten egg until the dough starts to gather around the blade of the processor. Remove the dough and bring together into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. You won’t need all the pastry so freeze the leftovers for later use. 

Lightly grease a 17 x 3 cm tart pan. Roll pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper to 5mm thick, then use to line pan. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line the pastry with baking paper and pastry weights or uncooked rice. Blind-bake for 20 minutes, then remove paper and weights and bake for 10 minutes or until pastry is dry. Set to one side until cool. If there are any cracks in the pastry, repair the cracks with some of the leftover dough.

Reduce oven to 150°C. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, not letting bowl touch water. Allow to melt and then stir until smooth. Remove from heat and cool. Gently whisk eggs in a separate bowl to just combine (don't allow to froth).

Heat cream and milk in a saucepan over medium heat until just below boiling point and then pour over eggs, stirring. Return to pan over low heat and stir for about 5 minutes until thick. Pour the custard through a sieve over bowl of chocolate, stirring gently until smooth.

Spread the marmalade over the base of the cooled pastry shell. Pour over the chocolate custard, then bake for 10-15 minutes or until just set. Leave tart in switched-off oven for 1 hour with the door closed. Remove and cool completely before slicing. If desired, top with a dusting of cocoa powder and a chocolate dipped orange slice with some whipped cream on the side.

It was a bit of a fiddle making the tart but I think the end result was worth the effort.

See you all again tomorrow for Day 4 of Christmas Week.

By for now,



xmas 2018 - white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake

18 Dec 2018

Welcome to Day 2 of Christmas Week 2018. A few years ago I bookmarked a recipe for a white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake. When I finally made it, I was really disappointed with the result. I cooked the cheesecake in a water bath without pre-baking the crust, so the crust was really pale. The filling was too set for my liking and all the raspberries floated to the top. The filling tasted more of white chocolate than cheesecake so I went back to the drawing board and rejigged the recipe.

This time I pre-baked the crust, discarded the water bath and baked the cheesecake in the oven. Although the cheesecake cracked while cooling in the switched off oven, I didn't mind a bit because it tasted as I hoped it would and I'd always planned to cover the cake with a layer of cream and raspberries.

Here's the rejigged recipe for you. Ideally start this recipe the day before serving as the cheesecake needs time to cool. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C. If you'd like to make a 23 cm cheesecake, just double all the ingredients and cook for the same length of time.

White chocolate and raspberry cheesecake - makes a 17cm cheesecake.
55 grams unsalted butter 
1 tbs caster sugar 
½ cup plain flour  
¼ tsp vanilla

60g white chocolate, chopped
60mls cream
375 gram cream cheese, softened 
 cup caster sugar 
1 tsp cornflour
1 egg 
1 egg yolk 
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
½ tsp grated lemon rind
150g raspberries, fresh or frozen 

½ cup double cream or whipped thickened cream
Extra raspberries
Icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Grease and line the base and sides of a 17 cm spring-form tin with baking paper. 

Place the butter, sugar, flour and vanilla into a food processor and whiz until a soft dough forms.  Remove the dough from the processor and gently press the mixture into the base of the spring-form tin. Bake the shortbread base in the preheated 180°C oven for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden. Set to one side and allow the base to cool. 

Heat the cream until just boiling in a small bowl in the microwave. Add the chopped white chocolate and allow to melt. Stir until smooth then set aside until cool.

Put the cream cheese, the caster sugar and the cornflour in the bowl of a food processor and whiz until smooth.  Add the egg, the yolk, the vanilla, the lemon rind and the cooled white chocolate mixture and blend until smooth. 

Sprinkle a few of the raspberries over the base. Pour half the filling over the cooked base; sprinkle the remaining raspberries before topping with the rest of the cheesecake mixture. Lower the oven temperature to 170°C then bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour or until the filling is almost set. Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool in the turned off oven for an hour. When completely cool, store the cheesecake in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours or preferably overnight.

To serve cover with some double cream or whipped thickened cream before topping with a fe fresh berries and a light dusting of icing sugar.

See you all again tomorrow for Day 3 of Christmas week.

Bye for now,



xmas 2018 - pistachio orange semolina cake

17 Dec 2018

2018 has been very challenging so in September I made the decision to skip Christmas week. However I soon discovered the only thing that brought me peace was baking and soon I'd baked so many items I had no option but to reinstate Christmas week. So welcome to Christmas week 2018. There isn't a theme as such this year except I can assure you that everything is very tasty. Some of the bakes do require a bit more effort or more luxurious ingredients than usual, but then again it's Christmas.

This pistachio and orange semolina cake is adapted from the Pistachio and rosewater semolina cake recipe from Sweet by Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. I'm not a huge fan of cardamom and I didn't want to buy a bottle of rosewater that I was unlikely to use again so I swapped it for the pomegranate molasses syrup that I already had in the cupboard. To decorate the cake I used candied orange rind instead of sugared rose petals.

I also used blood oranges in the cake because they were in season but a regular orange or mandarin would work just as well.

Here's the recipe for you for this deliciously moist cake. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C. This recipe makes a 17cm cake so if you'd like to make a 23cm cake, just double all the ingredients and bake for the same time. 

Pistachio, orange semolina cake, adapted from Sweet
75g pistachios, plus extra chopped pistachios to serve
50g almond meal
60g fine semolina
25g plain flour
¾ tsp baking powder
pinch salt
150g unsalted butter, chopped, softened
¾ cup caster sugar
2 tsp finely grated orange rind, plus 1 tbs orange juice 
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbs pomegranate molasses
½ tsp vanilla

1 tbs water
2 tbs caster sugar
50 ml orange juice
20 mls pomegranate molasses

Candied orange rind – optional
1 orange, rind removed and finely sliced
¼ cup water
¼ cup caster sugar
Additional caster sugar for coating

Grease a 17cm springform cake pan and line with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180°C.

To make the cake, place pistachios in a food processor and whiz until pistachios are nearly ground. Transfer pistachio mixture to a bowl and add almond meal, semolina, the flour, baking powder and a pinch of fine salt. Stir to combine.

Place butter, sugar and orange zest in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until well combined (be careful not to overwork – you don’t want a lot of air in the mixture). With the motor running, slowly add egg, beating well. Fold through the pistachio mixture, then fold through the juice, molasses and vanilla until just combined. Spread batter into prepared pan and use a palette knife to smooth the surface. 

Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean but a little oily.

In the final 10 minutes of baking, make 
the syrup by placing the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Add the remaining ingredients and when warm, remove from heat. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, drizzle with hot syrup (it looks like a lot of syrup; the hot cake will absorb it). Sprinkle with extra pistachios and set cake aside in the pan to cool to room temperature.

Remove cake from the pan and scatter with candied orange rind, if using. Serve with double cream if desired.

Candied orange rind - from 
Mix and Bake by Belinda Jeffery
Place the orange rind in a small bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 30 seconds before draining. In a small saucepan combine the water and sugar and bring to the boil. Add the orange rind and lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes before removing the pan from the heat and leaving the rind to cool in the syrup. When cool pour the mixture through a fine sieve to drain. Remove the peel and if desired toss through some caster sugar. Place on baking paper and allow to set before storing in an airtight container. I stirred the leftover syrup into the pomegranate syrup and poured it over the cake so none went to waste.

Even though the recipe was heavily adapted from the original it had all the hallmarks of an Ottolenghi recipe - full of flavour, moist and delicious! 

See you all again tomorrow with Day 2 of Christmas week 2018.

Bye for now,


flourless blackberry chocolate hazelnut cake

10 Dec 2018

When I made the chocolate raspberry buttermilk cake from the Flour and Stone cookbook, I immediately wondered what it would taste like if I made it with hazelnut meal, swapped blackberries for raspberries and espresso for buttermilk?

Determined to find out, off to the shops I went in search of frozen blackberries and hazelnut meal.

I used the same cooking technique but instead of lining the whole tin with baking paper I just lined the base and dusted the pan with cocoa hoping to get a nice clean edge.

I baked the hazelnut cake a little longer than the chocolate raspberry cake but without the protection of the baking paper I think I probably overcooked it a little as it wasn't quite as squidgy. As I had a pot of blackberry jam in the fridge, I glazed the top of the blackberries before I served the cake.

Here's the recipe for you, which makes a 17cm cake. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Chocolate hazelnut and blackberry cake – adapted from the chocolate raspberry and buttermilk cake from Flour and Stone. 

110 g good-quality dark chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
55 g unsalted butter, cut into large cubes 
2 eggs 
45 g light brown sugar 
35 g hazelnut meal 
15 ml espresso coffee
100 g frozen blackberries

Glaze (optional)
1 tbs warmed blackberry jam

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line the base of a 17 cm springform cake tin with baking paper and dust with cocoa.

Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water to melt, stirring occasionally with a spatula until melted and combined. Ensure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl and that the heat under the bowl is gentle so that the chocolate doesn’t burn. You can also melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl in the microwave in 30 second bursts, until the butter and chocolate starts to melt.

Meanwhile, place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed for about 5 minutes until it is thick and fluffy. Once the chocolate has melted, turn the mixer off and pour the chocolate straight into the bowl with the eggs, then add the hazelnut meal and the coffee. Return the bowl to the mixer but this time use the lowest speed to gently mix all the ingredients together (as if you were folding it by hand). You will notice the mixture is quite streaky at this point but after a few turns around the bowl the streaks will start to disappear and you want to stop the whisk just before the last streak disappears. This will ensure a light batter that has not been overworked. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to scrape all the way to the base of the bowl to ensure any chocolate that has fallen to the bottom is well combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 10-15 minutes at 170°C or until the top of the cake has formed a crust. Remove from the oven and cover with the berries, gently pressing them into the surface of the cake. Don’t be tempted to scatter the blackberries over the batter before baking as they will just fall to the bottom. Return the cake to the oven, reduce the temperature to 160°C and bake for a further 30-45 minutes or until the centre is springy to touch. If the berries are cooking too quickly just cover the top of the cake with a piece of foil. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before loosening the sides of the cake with a knife.

Let the cake cool in the tin for at least 2 hours before you remove it. The cake can be difficult to cut because it is so sticky but if you heat the blade of the knife with hot water and wipe it dry before slicing you will achieve a nice neat cut. If you like you can glaze the blackberries with a tablespoon of warmed blackberry jam. 

I took the cake into work and it was all gone before lunch, which is always a good sign.

See you all again next week which will be Christmas Week 2018. I've been baking up a storm so I have 5 delicious bakes to share with you and at the rate I'm baking, there may be even more.

Bye for now,



gluten free salted peanut chocolate caramel slice

3 Dec 2018

Caramel slice is hands down my workmates' favourite treat. I think it's the winning combination of a buttery base topped with a thick layer of caramel then finished off with a coating of dark chocolate. 

One of my colleagues is gluten intolerant so every now and then I try to make something that's gluten free. I was looking for gluten free flour a few weeks ago and spied a gluten free caramel slice recipe on the back of a packet of tapioca flour. I came home with the tapioca flour and used the recipe for the base paired with my usual caramel filling. I also found half a packet of salted peanuts in a container so I threw those in as well.

I wasn't sure how my work mates would respond to tampering with a classic but I thought the addition of salted peanuts was a bit of a master stroke. The gluten free base was pretty good but it's a bit thicker than my regular base and I found it a bit coconut heavy so next time I'd tweak the proportions a little. Don't skip the light dusting of sea salt flakes at the end, as they help to off set the sweetness of the caramel.

Here's the recipe for you which makes 16 squares. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced, you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Gluten Free Salted Peanut Caramel Slice
¼ cup brown sugar, lightly packed 
1 cup almond meal 
1 cup desiccated coconut 
2 tbs tapioca flour 
80 gm butter, melted 
¾ cup salted peanuts 

Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Line the base and sides of a 20 x 20 cm tin with baking paper. Combine all the dry ingredients for the base in a large bowl. Add the melted butter and mix well before pressing into the tin. Place in a pre-heated 180°C oven and bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until lightly coloured. Remove from the oven and scatter the salted peanuts over the base. 

2 x 395 gm tins condensed milk  
60 mls golden syrup 
60 gm butter 
2 tsp vanilla extract 

While the base is cooking, combine the condensed milk and golden syrup in a saucepan and cook over a medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until thickened and golden. You can also microwave in a bowl on high for 7 minutes, stirring every minute. Add the butter and vanilla to the caramel and stir until smooth. Pour the caramel over the peanuts and gently smooth with a knife. Return to the oven for another 15 - 20 minutes or until the caramel is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge. 

125 gm dark chocolate, chopped 
15 gm butter, chopped 
Sea salt flakes 

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering hot water over a low heat or in the microwave. Stir until the butter has melted and the mixture is smooth. Using a spatula, smooth the chocolate topping over the surface of the slice and sprinkle with a few salt flakes. Allow the topping to set for 20 minutes before cutting the slice into bars or squares. 

Store in a sealed container in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving and watch the slice disappear in front of your eyes. 

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


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