louise cake with plums and coconut

25 Feb 2019

When my copy of Sweet arrived, the baking book by Ottolenghi and Helen Goh, my eyes were drawn to the Louise Cake with plums. I just had to wait patiently until plums came back into season. Traditionally a Louise Cake is made with raspberry jam, so don't let the absence of fresh plums hold you back.

The cake or slice has 3 parts - a lemon flavoured base/a layer of fruit or jam and a topping of coconut meringue. I decided to hold true to tradition and used flaked coconut in the topping instead of the toasted flaked almonds in the version found in Sweet.

I also added an additional step, dredging the plum slices with sugar before baking. I bake with plums all the time and sometimes they can be unexpectedly tart.

I decided to make a small batch of Louise cake which I baked in a 7 inch square tin without a removable base. I was concnerned the slce might implode upon removal but cooling it for an hour in the fridge seemed to do the trick

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.

Louise cake with plums and coconut - adapted from a recipe from Sweet
60 g unsalted butter, softened and cut into 2 cm cubes
50 g caster sugar
½ tsp lemon zest
1 egg
60 g plain flour
¾ tsp baking powder
pinch salt
10 g desiccated coconut
40 ml whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

5 small dark red plums, ripe but firm or peaches, apricots, cherries, etc.
Extra sugar

30 g flaked coconut
70g egg whites 
pinch salt
92 g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp vinegar
½ tsp cornflour

Heat the oven to 180ºC.  Line the base and sides of a high-sided cake tin (preferably with a removable base) with baking parchment. You can use either a 7 inch square or a 17cm round tin.

To make the cake place the butter, sugar and lemon zest into a food processor and mix until the butter is light and creamy. Add the egg and process until combined. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the shredded coconut and combine well. Pour the flour mixture, the milk and vanilla into the food processor and whiz to make a soft batter. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and even the top with a spoon.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden or when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

While the cake cools down, prepare the plums. Divide each plum vertically in half. Discard the stones and then slice every half into four segments. If you use smaller plums or cherries, then just quarter each fruit. Dredge the plums with sugar and place to one side while you prepare the meringue.

To make the meringue, in the bowl of a stand mixer whisk the egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until soft peaks from. Add the sugar a tbs at a time and continue whisking on a high speed until the egg whites become stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla, vinegar and cornflour and whisk again. Finally, add most of the coconut flakes reserving a few tbs for the topping. 

Arrange the plum pieces on top of the cake, close to each other and cut side down.  Try not to overlap the fruit; otherwise, it will make the middle layer of the cake watery. Distribute the meringue on top of the plums. Swirl the meringue around in order to get rough waves and peaks. Sprinkle over a few coconut flakes.

Bake for 35-40 minutes at 180º C or until the meringue has formed a crust and is lightly coloured. If the meringue is browning too quickly you may need to shield the top with a piece of baking paper. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for at least 30 minutes before removing from the tin.  Cut into 9 squares to serve.

This is a very tasty treat with a bit of a tang from the plums. The cake is best served on the day but it can be stored for up to 2 days in the fridge in an airtight tin. I'm now going to work on a version for Passover probably using jam rather than fresh fruit but we shall see. 

Anyway I'll be back again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


chocolate rosemary olive oil cake

18 Feb 2019

I've been making a few gluten-free (GF) goodies of late but I've never used a commercial GF flour before. I bought a pack of GF flour a few weeks ago and decided to try it out making something pretty easy - a one bowl cake recipe from Julia Busutill Nishimura.

I've used rosemary with chocolate before but I reduced the amount in the recipe just a little.

I found I needed to use a bit more liquid than suggested in the recipe. I guess that's because the GF flour was primarily rice based. No-one else commented but I could definitely detect a grainy texture in the finished cake however the dark chocolate ganache topping covered a multitude of sins.

Here's the recipe for you which makes a small bundt 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.

Chocolate Rosemary Olive Oil  Cake - adapted from here
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 egg
150g natural yoghurt+ 2 extra tbs
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g self-raising flour (GF)
25g dutch cocoa powder
1 tsp finely chopped rosemary, plus extra to serve

75g 70% chocolate, finely chopped
50ml pouring cream

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease and flour a small bundt tin. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, egg, yoghurt, sugar and vanilla until combined.

Sift flour and cocoa into wet ingredients and add rosemary. Mix well to combine. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out just clean. Cool slightly in tin and turn out onto wire rack to completely cool.

Meanwhile, heat the cream until just begins to simmer. Take off heat and pour over chocolate. Leave to sit for a couple of minutes and then stir until all the chocolate has melted. Set aside for 10 minutes to cook and thicken slightly. Pour over cake and let drip down the sides. Top the cake with extra rosemary sprigs and flowers. 

The rosemary and olive oil gives an intriguing savoury note to this cake. I wasn't keen on the grainy texture from the GF flour though, so I'd love to remake this some time using regular flour.

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

Bye for now,



mini pavlovas

11 Feb 2019

With Valentine's Day just around the corner the time had come to make some individual pavlovas. I always had loads of trouble baking meringue in my old gas oven. The flame would go out all the time, making meringues into a very long and slow process. I've had my new oven for 2 years now and haven't tried making a pavlova in all that time. 

I like mini desserts, so instead of making one large pavlova I decided to make 6 individual pavlovas. I measured everything out the night before and in no time at all I had a bowl of fluffy white meringue that I wrangled into 6 small pavlovas.

My new oven goes from 160°C to 'low' and I had no idea what that temperature was, but that's what I used. It must be quite low, because after an hour the meringues still weren't quite dry to the touch. The mini pavlovas took 1½ hours to bake, then I left them in the turned off oven to dry.

Traditionally a pavlova is topped with whipped cream and passionfruit or strawberries as it needs something tart and fresh to counter balance all that sugar. I served the pavlovas with whipped cream, raspberries and a shard of bitter chocolate flecked with toasted coconut. 

If you'd like to make some mini pavlovas for the special people in your life, 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.

Mini pavlovas – makes 6

2 egg whites 
Pinch of salt
110 g (½ cup) caster sugar 
½ tsp white vinegar 
2 tsp cornflour 
½ tsp vanilla extract 
150 mls thickened cream, whipped 
1 punnet raspberries, washed and dried
Chocolate curls, if desired

Preheat the oven (conventional) to 180°C/350°F. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper and using a 7 cm ramekin as your guide, mark out 6 circles on the paper. Flip the paper over and use this as your template.

In a large clean dry bowl, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Add the caster sugar gradually, one heaped tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat for a further 5 minutes or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the meringue is white and fluffy. Stir in the vinegar, cornflour and vanilla essence.

Pile or pipe the meringue mixture onto the baking tray, keeping within the marked circles. Smooth the tops so they resemble flat cakes. 

Place the pavlovas in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 130°C/275°F or the lowest setting for your oven and bake for 1¼ - 1½ hours or until the pavlovas are dry and very lightly coloured. Turn the oven off and allow the pavlovas to cool completely in the switched off oven.

When cool, remove the pavlovas from the baking paper and store in an airtight container. Just before serving, top the pavlovas with the lightly whipped cream and berries and a shard of chocolate, if desired. 

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

Bye for now,


peach melba yoghurt pops

4 Feb 2019

Now I know for some of my readers you're shivering through a snowy winter but it's summer time here in Australia. It's been a blisteringly hot summer in Sydney so I've been eating loads of salads and food that can be quickly cooked or reheated. For dessert it's been mangoes and popsicles! 

I bought some popsicle moulds just before Christmas but needed to clear out my freezer before I had enough room in which to fit the moulds. Friday night saw me tossing out items I couldn't identify or knew had been in there for way too long. I located some frozen raspberries in the deep freeze and after I rummaged through the fridge I found I had peaches and yoghurt as well, so peach melba popsicles it was.

I don't have a regular blender so I puréed the fruit using my stick blender. The Greek yoghurt I used was quite tart as were the raspberries so I needed to add something to sweeten the popsicles. I added some honey, but you could use sugar or any other sweetener that won't overpower the flavour of the fruit. The most difficult part of making the popsicles? The time you have to wait for them to freeze!

Here's the recipe for you, which makes 8 popsicles. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20ml table spoon. You'll need a blender, 8 x 1/3 cup popsicle moulds and 8 wooden popsicle sticks

Peach Melba Yoghurt Pops – makes 8

1⅓ cup plain Greek yoghurt
Runny honey or caster sugar to taste
150g fresh or frozen raspberries
1 medium peach, peeled and chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine yoghurt and honey, adjust the sweetness as desired, then divide into 3 bowls. Place a ¼ cup yoghurt into the first bowl for the raspberry layer. Place ¾ cup in the second bowl for the vanilla yoghurt layer then put the remaining ⅓ cup into a bowl for the peach layer. 

Place a few raspberries in the base of each popsicle mould. Puree the remaining raspberries in a blender until smooth, then strain through a fine sieve into the bowl containing a ¼ cup yoghurt and stir to combine with the yoghurt mixture. Put into the fridge until needed.

Puree the peeled peach in the blender, then add to the  cup yoghurt mixture and stir to combine. Pour the peach mixture over the whole raspberries. Freeze for about 20 minutes. Mix the vanilla into the ¾ cup of yoghurt and pour over the peach layer. Freeze for a further 30 minutes before topping with the raspberry yoghurt layer. Freeze until firm but not completely frozen, then insert a popsicle stick into each mould and freeze until set. 

To unmould, dip base of moulds in cold water and slide out the popsicles.

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

Bye for now,


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