chocolate marmalade cake

29 Jun 2020

I started seeing pictures of Nigella Lawson's Pantry Shelf Chocolate Orange Cake on instagram a few weeks ago. The recipe is an old one from her book 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' which I found online. I noticed quite a few people had either reduced the sugar content in the cake recipe or left the sugar out completely. I decided to make my own version in which I reduced the amount of sugar and also added a bit of cocoa to the mixture because can you ever have too much chocolate?

The original recipe was for a melt and mix cake but I really don't like the texture of cakes made this way so I decided to cream the butter and sugar first. It's one extra step but I think its worth it. 

Although I had a little bit of blood orange marmalade in the cupboard, I used the marmalade mandarin I had in the pantry. 

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 60 g eggs. My oven is a conventional oven so if you have a fan-forced oven you may need to reduce the temperature by 20ºC. If you'd like to make a larger cake, try this recipe which is almost identical to Nigella's recipe.

Chocolate Marmalade Cake
200g marmalade
65g dark chocolate, chopped
100g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
1½ tbs dark cocoa powder
90g butter
2 tbs caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Topping (optional)
50 mls cream
50 dark chocolate, finely chopped
Candied orange or mandarin peel

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a small bundt tin and dust with cocoa powder then place in the fridge until needed.

Place the marmalade in a small bowl and heat in the microwave for a minute or until warmed. You can also warm the marmalade in a small saucepan on the stove. Add the chopped chocolate and mix until melted then set aside to cool for 10 minutes. 

Sift the flour, cocoa and salt into a small bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until the colour has lightened; then add the eggs one at a time until well combined. Mix in a third of the flour mixture followed by the marmalade and continue in this way to form a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, smooth the top then bake in the pre-heated oven for approximately 45 minutes or until tests cooked when tested with a skewer. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before unmoulding. If decorating with the topping, allow the cake to cool completely.

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 a while to cool and thicken slightly then drizzle over the cooled cake. Allow to set a little before decorating with the candied peel if using.

The end result is a pleasingly citrus scented chocolate cake which I still found plenty sweet even when I'd reduced the sugar. if I were to make the cake again I'd use a bit more butter and a little more chocolate as well to make the cake a bit more luxe.

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

Bye for now,


apricot and almond crumble slice

22 Jun 2020

I found a nice looking recipe for a plum and walnut crumble slice in the May issue of Delicious magazine. Fresh stonefruit is hard to find now we're moving into winter so I bought a tin of apricot halves in juice and thought I'd make the slice using tinned apricots instead

When I fished the bag of walnuts halves out of the fridge and tasted one, they'd turned rancid so I looked to see if I had any other nuts in the fridge to make the crumble. I found half a bag of almond flakes, 2 blanched almonds in another packet and a half packet of raw almonds. I blanched the almonds, coarsely chopped them, added them to the flaked almonds then set to work making the slice.

Once I'd made the crumble mix and scanned the recipe I was a bit taken aback with how much sugar the recipe contained. I dialled back the sugar in the base and wish I'd noticed earlier because I would have reduced the sugar in the crumble as well. I do not like overly sweet cakes and all that sugar detracts from the flavour of the fruit.

To make this as easy as possible apart from chopping the almonds by hand, I whipped up the rest of the slice in a food processor. 

Here's the recipe for you which makes 18 generous slices. 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 20ºC.

Apricot and almond crumble slice – makes 18 slices
90g blanched almonds, chopped or flaked almonds
80g unsalted butter, softened
160g (⅔ cup) brown sugar (next time I’d reduce this to ½ cup)
75g (½ cup) plain flour
Pinch sea salt flakes
½ tsp cinnamon

100g unsalted butter, softened
100g (½ cup) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
170g self-raising flour
¼ cup buttermilk
¼ cup golden syrup
1 410g tin of apricot halves in juice, drained and halved or 7 fresh apricots seeded and quartered

To serve (optional)
Labne, unsweetened cream or crème fraiche.

Grease and line the base and sides of a 20cm x 30 cm (8 x 12 inch) lamington with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180°C, conventional.

To make the crumble, place the chopped nuts into a bowl. Place the rest of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and whiz to make a soft dough. Transfer the dough into the bowl containing the nuts and using your finger tips combine to make chunky crumbs. Place in the fridge while you prepare the base.

Wipe out the food processor then place the butter, sugar and vanilla into the bowl and whiz until the butter is softened. Add the egg and process until combined. Scrape down the bowl before adding the flour, golden, syrup and buttermilk and processing again to make a soft batter.

Spread the batter into the prepared tin then arrange the apricot slices over the base. Scatter the crumble over the apricots before placing in the oven. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the cake tests cooked when tested and the crumble is golden. 

Allow to cool before removing the slice from the tin and cutting into slices to serve. 

To cut down the sweetness I topped my slice with some labne but a dollop of cream fraiche or unsweetened whipped cream would do also do the trick. However, no-one else seemed to find the slice too sweet and a few people came back for seconds.

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

Bye for now,



raspberry powder puffs

15 Jun 2020

After school Mum would drive home via the local cake shop where we'd pick up something for afternoon tea. Inevitably I'd select a jam tart, an apple slice or a jam filled powder puff. Powder puffs are 2 little sponge cakes sandwiched together with whipped cream, jam or lemon curd.

In all those years I've never actually made powder puffs and with a new tin to try out from Everten, the time had come. There is a recipe for powder puffs in Sweet by Ottolenghi and Helen Goh which was based on a Stephanie Alexander recipe so I tracked down Stephanie's original recipe. 

Here’s the recipe for you which makes 12 large powder puffs. The recipe is adapted from a Stephanie Alexander recipe which you can find here. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60 g eggs. My oven is a conventional oven so if you have a fan-forced oven you may need to reduce the temperature by 20ºC.

Raspberry Powder Puffs – makes about 12
2 eggs, separated
½ cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
50g plain flour
50g cornflour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp cream of tartar
Pinch salt
15g icing sugar for dusting

200mls thickened cream
15g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
5 raspberries, crushed (optional)
⅓ cup raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 210°C (conventional). Lightly grease a macaroon tray with butter (I used the Bakemaster 12 cup macaroon pan from Everten) and set aside or line a tray with baking paper. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and whisk for another 5 minutes until the mixture forms a stiff and glossy meringue. Add the vanilla and the egg yolks one at a time and beat until just combined.

Place the flour, cornflour, bicarb soda, cream of tartar and salt in a bowl and sift twice before sifting for a third time into the bowl containing the meringue mixture. Fold the dry ingredients into the meringue gently but thoroughly stopping as soon as it’s combined. Stop mixing at this point.

Drop heaped tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the greased macaroon or prepared baking tray. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through until golden brown around the edges and starting to go crisp.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tray with a palette knife. Gently ease the biscuits from the tray and arrange in pairs on a cooking rack. If using a regular tray, wipe down the baking paper before continuing with the next batch.

Whisk the cream with the sugar and vanilla bean paste until soft peaks form. Don’t overbeat or you’ll end up with grainy cream. If you like you can fold through a few crushed berries.

At least 5 hours before serving spread a teaspoon of jam onto the base of half the biscuits followed by a tablespoon of the whipped cream. Sandwich together with the top biscuits and place the puffs in a container in the fridge for between 4 – 24 hours, layered with baking paper in an airtight container. The biscuits should have completely softened by this stage. Just before serving dredge the top of the powder puffs with icing sugar. These are best served at room temperature.

I took these into work and they disappeared so quickly I didn't get the chance to try one myself. Apparently they were very good.

See you all again next week.

Bye for now,


apricot and white chocolate oatmeal cookies

8 Jun 2020

I found my cookie jar inexplicably empty once again. Could I have eaten all the cookies I asked myself, then I remembered I'd taken them into work. As I was about to go to Brisbane for a week I wanted to use what was already in the cupboard and I didn't want to make too many cookies.

I found an oatmeal cookie recipe in the Coles magazine which included miso, fresh pears and dried pears. I like most dried fruit but dried pears are my least favourite. I'd recently bought a 500g bag of dried apricots which I wanted to use, so I decided to adapt the recipe to make a batch of apricot and white chocolate oatmeal cookies.

As it's been a while since fresh apricots last appeared in the fruit shop instead of using fresh apricots in the recipe, I soaked some dried apricots in boiling water to reconstitute them. It seemed to work out okay. My white chocolate chips had seen better days so I cut some white chocolate into chunks and as for the miso, I ditched it completely. 

As soon as I'd photographed the cookies, I ate one and it was delicious. The cookie was a bit chewy and a bit crunchy. White chocolate is quite sweet so the slight tartness of the dried apricots worked well. If you make these cookies, please don't use Turkish apricots as they don't have the same tart sweetness nor the same texture.

Here's the recipe for you which is adapted from here. The recipe makes about 12 cookies, depending on the size of the tablespoon you use. I used a 15ml cookie scoop on this occasion. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. I have a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20ºC.

Apricot and white chocolate cookies – makes 12
100g unsalted butter, chilled, chopped
60g dried apricots, diced 
½ cup (110g) brown sugar
30g caster sugar 
1 egg 
½ cup (75g) plain flour 
½ cup (80g) wholemeal plain flour 
½ cup (45g) rolled oats 
1 tsp baking powder 
Pinch sea salt flakes
35g white chocolate, coarsely chopped 
12 soaked and dried apricots to decorate, or 6 small apricots halved optional

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Soak 30g of the dried apricots in boiling water to reconstitute.

Place the butter in microwave safe bowl then cover Cook for 5-6 minutes or until dark brown. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl and set aside to cool completely. 

Preheat oven to 180°C, conventional. Add the combined sugars to the butter mixture in the bowl and beat until pale and creamy. Add the egg and beat for 1-2 mins or until well combined and a little paler in colour. Add the combined flours, oats, baking powder and sea salt and stir to combine. Drain the apricot pieces and pat dry with paper towel then add to the mixture with the dried apricots and white chocolate. Stir to combine. 

Roll 2 tablespoons of the mixture into balls and flatten slightly. Top each with an apricot half then lace on lined tray, about 5cm apart. 

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside on the tray for 10 minutes to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. 

I'm very happy that the cookie jar is full again.

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

Bye for now,


mandarin marmalade

1 Jun 2020

We have a lovely cleaner at work called Yan and last week she gave me a bag of home grown mandarins which she assured me were very sweet. I looked through my recipes and looked for ways to use my bounty. Last year I made some flourless blood orange cakes for Passover that were supposed to be made with Mandarin marmalade. I'd like to remake them so the first thing I did was make a batch of mandarin marmalade. 

I looked online for inspiration but in the end adapted my recipe for blood orange and vanilla marmalade. You need to start the recipe the night before as there is washing, peeling, slicing and soaking to be done before cooking the marmalade.

I discovered that mandarin marmalade takes less time to cook than orange marmalade. Once the sugar was added I put the timer on for 30 minutes and on a whim decided to check the temperature just before the timer went off. It had already reached it's setting point and my jam jars had yet to be boiled!

I quickly boiled the kettle and before too long I'd filled 2 jars with the marmalade with a little leftover for the cook. With a freshly baked loaf of 'no-knead' rye bread cooling I had the perfect reason to slice it then slathered said slice with butter and some of the marmalade. It was absolutely delicious both the bread and the jam.

If you'd like to make your own mandarin marmalade, 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. 

Mandarin Marmalade - makes 2 jars
600g mandarins, washed
¾ tsp sea salt flakes, plus 1 pinch extra
Water, to cover
Granulated sugar
The juice of ½ lemon 

You’ll need to start this recipe the day before.

The night before, peel the mandarins, reserving half the peel. Discard the rest or zest and freeze the grated rind to use later. Using a sharp knife finely shred the peel and then slice the peeled mandarins in half removing any seeds. Don’t throw out the seeds as you’ll use them in the marmalade. Coarsely chop the flesh reserving any juice. Place the chopped mandarin, shredded rind and juice into a bowl. Add the salt then cover the mandarins with water and leave the bowl covered in the fridge to sit overnight. 

The following day weigh the contents of the bowl and then in a separate bowl, weigh out half the amount of sugar. Place the reserved seeds into a piece of muslin and tie securely. Place the mandarin and liquid plus seeds into the widest heavy-based pot you have. Bring the mix to the boil then lower to medium and cook the mandarins for about 30 minutes or until the skins have softened. Meanwhile, place 2 saucers into the freezer. You'll need these for later. Fish out the bag of seeds, then add the sugar to the pan and stir until completely dissolved. Cook for a further 20 minutes or until the marmalade reaches its setting point ~ 105°C

To test the marmalade's setting point, place a teaspoon of the marmalade onto one of the cold saucers and allow it to cool. The marmalade should “jell” on the plate and not run when the saucer is tipped. If the marmalade fails to jell, cook for another few minutes before checking again.

Once the marmalade has reached setting point, take it off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and an extra pinch of salt. Allow the marmalade to completely cool before spooning into hot sterilized jars. If you like, you can loosely tighten the lids on the jars before simmering them in hot water for about 10 minutes to form a vacuum. Allow the jars to completely cool before fully tightening the lids. 

Store the jars in a cool dark place, then refrigerate once opened.

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

Bye for now,

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