31 Jan 2021

I took an extra day off work and ran away to Canberra last weekend. Originally I'd planned a visit to Brisbane but the QLD border was still closed to Sydney residents so I made a location change.
The border to the ACT re-opened to Sydney just before Australia Day so I booked a hotel, arranged tickets to the National Gallery of Australia and the War Memorial, made a dinner reservation, packed an overnight bag and hopped in the car for the 3 hour drive south.
I've been to Canberra a few times before, sometimes staying in Manuka and sometimes in New Acton. New Acton is close to ANU and has lots of good eateries. The hotel in which I stayed is just around the corner from Rebel Rebel where I'd booked dinner and Mocan and Green Grout where I had breakfast.
My first stop was at the National Gallery of Australia. It was a scorcher of a day so I was keen to stay indoors but was drawn outside to the Sculpture Garden and the imposing work by James Turrell, Skyspace.
I was wearing SPF 50 but I still managed to get burnt whilst strolling around the Sculpture Garden.
After dinner when it had cooled down a little I drove over to Parliament House, which was just about deserted.
I waited for about 5 minutes and had the place to myself.
The following day I had tickets to the Australian War Memorial.
The early viewing time and the booking system meant I was able to take photos of the Pool of Reflection with few people in my shot.
  The wall of poppies is one of my favourite parts of the War Memorial.
A last look over Canberra before the drive home.
I drove home via Collector, a little town that time almost forgot. It's over 10 years since my last visit and whilst new houses are being built there, Collector still doesn't have either a petrol station or a grocery store.

I did take a roll of black and white film with me that I'm yet to finish, so hopefully if they turn out okay I'll have a few more images to share with you in the next couple of weeks. 

See you all again soon,

Bye for now, 



neopolitan sugar cookies

I had lots of spare time during the Christmas break and searched high and low for new recipes to share with you over the coming year. These Neopolitan cookies caught my eye and I decided to make a batch for my empty biscuit tin.
I decided to track down Matthew Rice's original recipe and adapted it. I already had some freeze dried strawberries left over from making the Woodland meringues, so I had all the ingredients in the house.
The cookies were very easy to make. I used my food processor to whiz the dough together and sightly adapted the original recipe.
Here's the recipe for you which makes 12 cookies. I only made a half batch, so double the recipe if you'd like to make more. 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.
Neapolitan Sugar Cookies by Matthew Rice - makes 12
1⅓ cups plain flour
½ tsp bicarb soda
pinch salt
110 g unsalted butter room temperature
⅔ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 egg
4g ground freeze dried strawberries
1-2 drops red food coloring
3 tsp cocoa sifted with ½ tsp espresso powder
1-2 tbs sugar 
Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl and set to one side. 
Combine the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in the egg and then slowly add the flour to the creamed mixture. Mix on low speed only until the flour disappears. 
Turn the dough out and divide it into three pieces. Set aside one portion - this is the vanilla portion of the cookie. Place the second portion back into the mixer bowl. Add the freeze dried berries and sufficient food coloring to colour the dough pink. Remove the dough from the mixer. Add the last portion of dough to the mixer, and mix in the cocoa powder and the espresso powder.
Divide the vanilla dough into 12 equal portions and roll into balls. Repeat with the other flavours then place each flavour into separate containers and refrigerate for at least an hour, but preferably overnight. 
Preheat oven to 190°C, conventional. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Roll each ball in sugar, and then take a portion of each colour and compress together to form a ball. Compress a little so that each cookie looks a bit like a hockey puck. 
Place 6 cookies on the baking tray, allowing plenty of room for the cookies to spread. Bake one tray at a time for about 15 minutes or until the cookies spread nicely, and the vanilla parts are golden around the edges.
Cool on the tray for 10 minutes before placing on a cooling rack. When completely cold, store in an airtight tin. 
These are nice and simple cookies, perfect with a glass of milk or a cup of tea. The chocolate portion, my favorite, tastes of chocolate and the strawberry portion tastes like strawberries. I shared these with my next door neighbour's children and they were a hit.
See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.
Bye for now,

plum hazelnut ricotta cake

25 Jan 2021

Now that stone fruit are back in the fruit shop, I have so many recipes I want to share with you. I've even frozen some plums and apricots just in case they disappear from the shelves before I have time to bake with them.
Today's recipe is an adaptation of the apple ricotta cake I made a few months ago. I just knew it would taste delicious if I made it with plums. I played around with the recipe to make this version which uses toasted hazelnuts in the batter and as a topping.

I've given you instructions for a stand mixer, but when I make small cakes like this one, I often make the batter in my food processor so it takes no time to put together.

Here's the recipe for you which makes a 17 cm cake. For all my recipes, 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.

Plum hazelnut and ricotta cake



125 g ricotta, well drained

1 egg yolk

20 g caster sugar

½ tsp of vanilla extract

½ tsp lemon rind



3-4 plums, stones removed

1-2 tbs caster sugar

110g unsalted butter

110g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

75g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

50g (1/2 cup) toasted hazelnut meal

2 tbs coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts

1 tbs caster sugar



For the ricotta filling, mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until combined.



Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 17cm tin with baking paper.

Thinly slice the plums into a small bowl then dredge with sugar. If the plums are very tart, you may need to use a bit more sugar. Set to one side.


Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat together. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl and then add the hazelnut meal. Stir to combine to make a soft batter. 


Spoon ⅔ of the cake mixture into the prepared pan. Spoon the ricotta filling, over the cake batter, spreading it almost to the edge. Top with the reserved plum slices. Gently spoon over the remaining cake batter and then smooth the surface. Top with the toasted hazelnuts and gently press into the cake batter.


Scatter the sugar on top of the cake and bake for about an hour until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out moist but relatively clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you can't eat nuts just swap the nut meal with the same quantity of flour and top the cake with the plum slices instead. A light dusting of sugar over the top of the cake before baking will give a contrast in texture.  
I have at least 3 more stone fruit bakes coming your way. Hopefully they'll be as tasty as this plum cake. 

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen. 
Bye for now, 

lamington layer cake

18 Jan 2021

Each year to celebrate Australia Day, I make lamingtons. I like to play around with the traditional lamington though so in the past I've made lamington cupcakes, lamington ice cream cakes and a single layer lamington cake. This year I decided to make a lamington layer cake, sandwiched with home made raspberry jam and cream.

I needed to make a batch of raspberry jam first because my pot of jam was almost empty. At the last minute I decided to make some vanilla syrup to douse the layers because there is nothing worse than a dry lamington.

The whole process was pretty easy and far less messy than making individaul lamingtons. I am however still sweeping up bits of coconut from my kitchen floor and finding little bits of coconut in nooks and crannies in the kitchen.

Here's the recipe for you adapted from herewhich makes a 3 layer 16 cm 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.

Lamington Layer Cake 
100 g self raising flour
50g plain flour
20 g cornflour
Pinch salt
170 g unsalted butter, softened
165 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, at room temperature
50 mls milk

Vanilla Syrup
50 mls water
½ tsp vanilla bean paste or ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
50 g sugar

Chocolate Icing
5g (1 tsp) butter
1 cup sifted icing sugar
12 g (1½ tbs) cocoa powder, sifted
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup (60 ml) milk
30g (1oz) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

½ cup of raspberry jam
300ms cream, softly whipped with ½ tsp vanilla bean paste and 3 tsp caster sugar

To decorate
½ cup of desiccated coconut

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (conventional) and grease and line three 16cm tins with baking paper. 

Sift the flours and salt together into a small bowl and set to one side. Using a stand mixer or hand held beaters, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until the mixture is light in colour and fluffy. Incorporate the eggs one at a time. Add one third of the flour to the batter and mix until just combined. Add half the milk and mix well. Repeat until all the ingredients are just incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between the tins and level the tops. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cakes bounce back when pressed lightly, or a skewer inserted into the top of the cake comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely. Using a pastry brush, brush each cake layer with 1-2 tbs of the vanilla syrup letting the syrup absorb.Chill the cake layers in the fridge for 15 minutes. This will help firm the cake and make it easier to handle.

Vanilla Syrup
Place the sugar and water into a small saucepan. Place over a medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower to a simmer and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture has slightly thickened. Take off the heat and stir through the vanilla bean paste or vanilla pod and seeds. Allow to cool completely before using.

Chocolate Icing
Melt the butter and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir sifted icing sugar and cocoa into the chocolate. Add the vanilla extract and enough milk to make an icing of a coating consistency. If the icing thickens too much thin it out with a little more milk or water or you can zap it in the microwave for about 20 seconds on high. This makes a generous amount of icing.

Prepare a baking tray with desiccated coconut so you’re ready to roll as soon as you’ve iced the cake layers.

Use a small offset spatula to ice the edges of the cake layer. Immediately roll the edge of the iced cake through the coconut. Place on a wire rack until the icing has set and repeat with the remaining cake layers.

Place the first cake layer onto a serving plate. Spread the layer with a generous amount of jam, and top with ½ of the cream. Repeat the process until you reach your final layer. Use a knife to spread the top of the cake with chocolate icing, and sprinkle with desiccated coconut. Refrigerate until serving time.

I took this into work and it went down a treat - well cake, chocolate, jam and cream!
See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen. 

Bye for now, 


nectarine polenta and basil loaf cake

11 Jan 2021

I've had this Helen Goh recipe for a gluten free nectarine, polenta and basil loaf bookmarked for ages. I've just been waiting for nectarines to come into season. As we're in the midst of summer in Sydney, stone fruit have finally made their way into the fruit shop. Expect all things nectarine, plum and apricot for the next few weeks.


I whizzed this cake up in the food processor so it took no time at all to come together. I think weighing out all the ingredients and lining the loaf tin took longer than preparing the batter.

As expected from a Helen Goh recipe it's easy to follow and the cake is bursting with flavour. The basil flavoured sugar is so yummy, I'm sure I'll be using it again in another recipe.
Here's the recipe for you, which makes a small loaf cake. For all my recipes, 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.

Nectarine, polenta and basil loaf cake


167g caster sugar

17g basil leaves

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature

80g ricotta cheese

2 tsp lemon zest

2 large eggs

40mls lemon juice

150g almond meal

75g maize flour or fine polenta

1 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

2-3 small ripe nectarines, stoned and sliced into eighths and sprinkled with 1 tbs caster sugar



Preheat the oven to 190˚C conventional. Grease and line a small loaf tin with baking paper, allowing a generous overhang on the sides to make it easier to lift out the cake later.

Place the sugar and basil leaves in a food processor and process until you are left with a gloriously damp emerald-coloured sugar. Set aside 1½ tablespoons of the sugar for sprinkling on top of the cake later.

Add the butter, ricotta and lemon zest to the sugar in the food processor. Process until mixture has lightened. Add the eggs, one at a time, processing after each addition. It will look curdled, but this will not affect the end result.


In a small bowl, place the almond meal, polenta, baking powder and salt. Whisk together to combine, ensuring there are no lumps. Add to the butter mixture in three batches, processing between each addition. Add the lemon juice and mix to combine. When fully incorporated, scrape the mixture into the lined loaf tin, smoothing the top.

Arrange the nectarine slices on top, overlapping slightly, then place in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cover the top loosely with foil if the fruit looks like it is getting too dark.

Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before lifting the cake onto a cooling rack. Cool completely. Just before serving, sprinkle with the reserved basil sugar.

The cake smells as good as it looks and tastes even better.
See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.
Bye for now,


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