lamington cupcakes

28 Jan 2019

I've been looking forward to the Australia Day long weekend pretty much since I returned to work in the New Year. I planned to make a lamington roll to share with you and was so organised, I baked it a week early. It was an absolute disaster and as I was going away for the Long Weekend it looked as though I'd have nothing to share with you.

I came home a little earlier than planned and went straight to the kitchen to make Plan B, some lamington cupcakes from the Cook and Baker. I adapted the recipe a little; halved the recipe and added a buttermilk soak. The cupcakes didn't rise a great deal and as I was pretty tired, I wasn't sure if I'd used plain flour instead of self raising, so I went to bed in 2 minds whether to make something else for you or complete the process. In the end I did both!

I've had no lunch or breakfast so my caloric intake today has consisted of chocolate icing, coconut, whipped cream and cups of tea. I've literally just finished cleaning the mess made from dipping the cakes in chocolate icing. I can't tell you how many times I've swept the floor in a futile attempt to remove all the coconut from the kitchen floor. I now remember why I only make lamingtons once a year. It's a real fiddle but the end result is pretty delicious.

Here's the recipe for you, slightly adapted from original recipe from The Cook and Baker and you'll need to start this process a day ahead. If you don't feel like making jam from scratch, shop bought is fine.

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.

300 g (10½ oz/2 cups) self-raising flour
40 g (1½ oz/1⁄3 cup) cornflour (cornstarch)
pinch salt
340 g (12 oz) unsalted butter, softened
330 g (11¾ oz/1½ cups) caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
4 eggs, at room temperature
200 mls milk

Buttermilk Soak

1/4 cup milk 
½ cup buttermilk
3 tsp caster sugar 
½ tsp vanilla extract

Lamington Dip

160 g (5¾ oz/1½ cups) dark cocoa powder
500 g (1 lb 2 oz/4 cups) icing (confectioners’) sugar
100 g (3½ oz/2⁄3 cup) chopped dark chocolate 
500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) boiling water 

To serve

320 g (11¼ oz/1 cup) Berry Jam 
350 g (12 oz/5 1⁄3 cups) thread (shredded) coconut, for coating  
Whipped Cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Lightly grease and flour two 12-hole standard 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) muffin tins.

Sift together the flour, cornflour and salt, and set aside. Use an electric mixer with a beater attachment to beat the butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy. Add the vanilla and then beat in the eggs one at a time. If the mix starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of the sifted flour. Fold in the rest of the sifted dry ingredients, then add the milk and mix until just incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the sponge springs back when gently pressed on top. While the cakes are baking prepare the buttermilk soak. Combine all the ingredients in a small jug and stir until the caster sugar is dissolved. Cool the cakes for about 10 minutes in the tins before turning out. Place the cakes on a rack over a tray to catch any drips. Using a fine skewer, poke a few holes in the top of each cake before spooning a few teaspoons of the buttermilk soak over each cake. Allow the cakes to cool completely before storing overnight in the fridge in an airtight container.

For the lamington dip: Sift the cocoa powder and icing sugar into a medium bowl. Add the chopped dark chocolate and pour over the boiling water,½ cup at a time until you reach the right dipping consistency. Whisk until combined and the chocolate has melted. Strain through a sieve to remove any lumps and allow to cool. If the mixture is too thick just add a little more boiling water.

To assemble: Cut each sponge in half and sandwich together with the raspberry jam. Carefully dip each one into the lamington dip, drain off any excess chocolate and roll in the coconut threads to coat. Place on a wire rack to dry. 
Serve with whipped cream.

Note: Store in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days.

Berry Jam

Makes about 1.25 kg (2 lb 12 oz/4 cups) • Preparation time 30 minutes plus 10 minutes standing time • Cooking time 40 minutes


1 vanilla bean
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz/8 cups) raspberries and strawberries (halved) fresh or frozen
495 g (1 lb 1½ oz/2¼ cups) caster (superfine) sugar
juice of 1 lemon

Split the vanilla bean in half lengthways, then scrape the seeds from the halves using the tip of a sharp knife.

In a heavy-based saucepan, put the berries, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla bean and seeds, and 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) water. Stir constantly over low heat until the sugar is dissolved, approximately 5 minutes.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for approximately 20-25 minutes until the mixture will jell when tested on a cold saucer.

Discard the vanilla bean. Stand the jam for 10 minutes to settle before pouring into hot sterilised jars.

Note: Store in a cool, dark place for up to 12 months. Once opened, keep in the fridge and use within 1 month.

I hope you enjoyed your Australia Day Long Weekend. See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


apricot and almond cake with a cinnamon topping

21 Jan 2019

Christmas heralds the all too brief apricot season. I spent Christmas in Brisbane and when I returned home to Sydney, I spied some beautiful apricots in the fruit shop. I came home with a dozen, determined to turn them into an apricot cake. 

I looked through my copy of 
the Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander and came across the Mieze's plum cake recipe. I've made something similar to this before and wondered how it would work if I used apricots instead? I found an apricot and almond cake recipe in Sweet, which looked very similar to the plum cake recipe, so decided to give it a go.

I made the cake and took it with me to our New Year's Eve beach picnic which unfortunately was washed out. I left without trying a piece of the cake and decided to make it again, this time for my work colleagues.

Here's the recipe for you which makes an 8 inch 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. 

Apricot and almond cake with a cinnamon topping (adapted from Stephanie Alexander recipe for Mieze’s Plum Cake) 

5-6 large apricots halved and stoned 
50g caster sugar 
½ tsp ground cinnamon 
30g unsalted butter 
pinch salt 
1 large egg 
25g ground almonds 

125g unsalted butter, softened 
100g caster sugar 
finely grated zest of 1 small lemon  
1 tsp vanilla extract 
2 large eggs 
70g self-raising flour 
70g plain flour 
Pinch salt 
1-tbs milk or yoghurt 

To make the topping, combine the sugar, cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle one tbs of the cinnamon sugar over the cut surface of the apricots. Set to one side. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the remaining cinnamon sugar and salt. Stir to combine, and then remove from the heat. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, stir through the beaten egg and set aside. 

Preheat the oven to 190°C and grease an 8 inch/20cm round spring-form tin and line with baking paper. Place the butter, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times. Sift the flours and salt into another bowl, reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients to the creamed mix. The mixture should be of a dropping consistency so if the mixture is looking too dry add a tablespoon or 2 of milk or yoghurt.  

Spoon the batter into prepared tin (it should not fill more than a quarter of the depth, as the cake rises a great deal), smooth the top and sprinkle over ground almonds. Arrange the apricot halves on top, cut side facing up, starting around the outside edge of the tin and working towards the centre, then spoon the cinnamon topping over and around the apricots. 

Bake at 190°C for about 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Set aside for 20 minutes in the tin to cool before removing and serving warm, with some cream alongside if desired. 

I took this into work worried that the apricots might be a bit too tangy and the cake too dry. The apricots were tangy but in a good way and the longer the cake was stored the more moist and delicious it became. Next summer when apricots are back in abundance I'll definitely be making this cake again.

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

Bye for now,



raspberry frangipane tart

14 Jan 2019

It all began with a raspberry tart from my local bakery whilst I was in Paris last year. I love raspberry tarts and every one I've sampled in Paris has always been a little different. Some are nothing more than a crisp tart shell filled with berries; some have a crème patissiere filling, whilst others have a frangipane base topped with fresh berries. This one had a frangipane base topped with a berry compote rather than jam. It was delicious and I knew it was something I'd like to create at home.

Well raspberries are plentiful at the moment and not too expensive so I set to work trying to recreate that special tart. Rather than making individual tarts I decided to make a singular larger tart.

Why I decided to make pastry on a 30°C day is beyond me. When I tried to roll out the pastry, it melted so there I was at 9.00 p.m lining the tart shell when the weather had cooled down a little. 

The beauty of a frangipane tart, is there is no need to pre-bake the tart shell. Whilst the recipe sounds like a lot of work, many of the stages can be made ahead and put together at the last moment. I made both the pastry and the Crème pâtissière ahead of time. I made the frangipane in the food processor so it took 5 minutes to make from whoa to go. The raspberry compote only takes a few minutes to prepare as well and you could always leave this step out and use  some raspberry jam.

Whilst I used my own pastry recipe and compote recipe, the filling is based on the one I found here. I was supposed to top the tart completely with fresh berries but the compote was so pretty I didn't want to hide it from view. I now have 2 extra punnets of raspberries in the fridge that I know, won't be going to waste.

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.

Raspberry Frangipane Tart – makes a deep 17cm tart or a shallow 22cm
¼ cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
¼ cup almond meal
175g plain flour
Pinch salt
110 g (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
1 egg yolk lightly beaten

Crème pâtissière
1/3 cup milk
1/4 of a vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract
20 g sugar
1 tsp flour
1 tsp cornflour
½ beaten egg
5 g unsalted butter

50g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
½ beaten egg
50g almond meal
Pinch salt
1 tsp plain flour
1 tsp rum
1 quantity crème patissiere

Raspberry Compote
250g frozen raspberries
75g (⅓ cup) caster sugar 
1 tbs water
7g cornflour mixed with 1 tbs water
A squeeze of lemon or lime juice

1-2 punnets raspberries

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 yolk 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. You’ll only need about half of the pastry dough to make a 17cm tart or the full quantity to make a 22 cm tart. The pastry freezes well so just wrap the remaining pastry in plastic wrap and store in the freezer. 

Refrigerate the pastry for an hour and then roll out thinly - 3mm thick. Line a greased 17 cm flan tin with the pastry then return to the fridge for another 30 minutes during which time you can make the Crème pâtissière, the frangipane and the raspberry compote. 

Crème pâtissière
In a small saucepan, bring the milk, 10g of sugar and the vanilla pod to the boil. In a separate bowl, mix half the beaten egg with the remaining sugar, flour and cornflour.

Pour the milk over the egg mix, mix well, put back into the saucepan return to the heat and keep cooking for 1 min after the mix thickens. Add the butter, mix well to combine then cool and reserve.

Cream together the unsalted butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg followed by the almond meal, salt, flour and rum. You should end up with a soft paste. Stir in the cooled crème pâtissière.

In a small saucepan, bring half the frozen raspberries, the sugar and water to a simmer. To thicken the raspberries, add the cornflour mixture to the raspberries and allow to just simmer but don’t boil as the raspberries will fall apart. Cook gently until the mixture is quite thick then pour over the remaining berries and set to one side to cool. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste, stir through gently then place in the fridge until needed. You’ll need ½ cup of the compote for this recipe or 1 cup if you're making the larger tart. Store any remaining compote in the fridge and spoon over your muesli or serve with yoghurt.

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Fill the pastry shell with the frangipane mixture then level the surface with a knife. You only want the filling to come about halfway up the pastry shell. Place the tart on an oven tray in the preheated oven and bake at 190°C/375°F for 40 minutes until the frangipane filling has puffed and is golden brown. Remove from the oven, place on a rack and let the tart cool completely.

To assemble the tart - spoon the raspberry compote over the baked almond filling. You’ll need a full cup of the compote and more fresh raspberries to make the 22 cm tart. Place each raspberry around the edge of the tart facing down as close as possible to the next raspberry to create a nice circular pattern. Place in the fridge until serving time.

I'm yet to have a slice but I'll report back when I have. (I had my slice last night and it was delicious!)

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

Bye for now,




7 Jan 2019

Happy New Year and welcome to the first post for 2019. When I was back in Brisbane for Christmas I discovered an old but never used nut loaf tin in the cupboard under the oven. It needed a good clean so once that was done I came back to Sydney with the tin in my luggage, inspired to make a nut roll.

There are quite a few recipes for the classic date and nut roll on the internet but I wanted to make something a little different. I looked through my copy of Sweet by Ottolenghi and Helen Goh and decided to make the butternut, honey and almond tin cake. I thought I had all the ingredients on hand but when I checked I'd run out of almonds so I used toasted pecans instead.

I'd never baked a cake in a roll tin before so I closely followed the instructions I found online, which cautioned over filling the tin. I probably could have filled the tin a little more because I had enough batter leftover to make a little bundt cake. If you don't have a nut roll tin, Ottolenghi suggests using two 400g tin cans with one end removed. The tins need to be lined with baking paper, with an overhang to help remove the cake from the tin once baked.

Here's the recipe for the pumpkin honey nut roll which was adapted from an Ottolenghi recipe from Sweet. This should make 1 large roll, 1 loaf or 2 small cakes baked in 400g tin cans. 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.

Pumpkin Honey Nut Roll
100g cold cooked mashed pumpkin (I oven roasted mine but you could steam it or microwave it)
125g unsalted butter, softened
100g caster sugar
1 tsp grated orange rind
25g runny honey
1 large egg, beaten
160g self-raising flour, sifted with a pinch of salt
¼ cup milk
100g raisins, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes then drained
50g coarsely chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 190°C. Adjust the oven racks to give you enough space to place the tin upright in the oven. Grease and flour an 8cm x 17cm nut roll tin. Line the 2 ends of the roll tin with baking paper and secure one to make the base of the tin. If you can’t locate a nut roll tin then you can use two 400g tin cans, with the top removed, carefully lined with baking paper. Allow an overhang if using this method to help you wrangle the cake out of the tin. Otherwise use a small loaf tin or a 17cm round tin greased and lined with baking paper.

Cream together the butter, sugar, grated orange rind and the honey until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg gradually and beat until combined. Mix in the cooked pumpkin, followed by the flour, alternating with the milk, then stir in the raisins and the pecans. The mixture should be quite soft. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin. If using a nut roll tin you should fill the tin just over halfway. Place the second lid on top of the roll tin. If you’re using a loaf tin, cover the top of the tin with a layer of pleated foil to allow the cake to steam while cooking, giving it its characteristic texture. I had a bit of mixture leftover so I greased and filled a small bundt tin.

Place the tin(s) on a baking tray and bake for 25-30 minutes for the bundt and 45-50 minutes for the roll or until a long skewer or piece of spaghetti inserted comes out clean. You’ll need to use an oven mitt to carefully remove the top lid to do this. 

The baked cake is very moist so allow it to cool and firm for about 30 minutes before unhooking the side of the tin and placing it on a cooling rack or sliding the roll out using the baking paper. Once cold, I wrapped the cake in plastic and stored it overnight in the fridge before serving.

The cake is lovely thickly sliced and topped with butter. I found it quite sweet because of the pumpkin, so next time I’d reduce the sugar to 75g.

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

Bye for now,


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