the blue mountains

27 Jun 2021

I've just been on holidays for the past 3 weeks and I managed to get away before Sydney went into a 2 week lock-down. First destination was Brisbane to spend some time with my Dad, then back home for a day to water the plants and check the mail before driving to the Blue Mountains.
I left Sydney early and drove straight to Blackheath to do a walk to Porter's Pass, a walk I'd not done before. It was 4°C when I left the car and I have no idea of the temperature by the time I reached the Pass but it was cold.
It was a lovely walk with lots of flowers and birds flying overhead. It had recently snowed so the walk was a bit muddy and my shoes and socks were soaked by the end of the walk.
It was a really hilly track and getting down to this waterfall required a jump as my legs were too short to use the steps.
To my surprise I found the wattle was already in bloom.
When my legs went wibbly wobbly, I took that as a sign to turn tail and return to the car and this view. I'd love to go back and do the walk in full.
I drove to my accommodation via Evan's Lookout to admire the view.
The scenery is just spectacular.
I stayed at Silvermere Guesthouse at Wentworth Falls. This was my third stay as it's such a lovely place and the generous breakfast kept me fueled until dinner time.
I watched the sun go down behind these trees.
Silvermere has a lovely garden and the camellias were in bloom.
The next day I drove to Leura to roam around the Everglades House and Gardens.
I've visited the gardens many time but never in winter.
The magnificent view of the Jamison Valley from the gardens.
I spent a few hours wandering around the Paul Sorensen designed garden.
The garden combines both European and native Australian plantings.
The cascades
and the grotto pool.
While I was in Leura I wanted to do the Cascades walk but discovered the walk closed due to a landslip. Instead I went to the Gordon Falls Lookout and discovered there was a short walk nearby to the Lyrebird Dell.
Off I went to locate the Lyrebird Dell which was just lovely. Birdsong filled the air; the trail was green and verdant and best of all I had the whole walk to myself.

It's definitely worth a visit.

The next day I headed south to Orange so I'll see you all again soon with some more pictures from my mini break in New South Wales. 

Bye for now,



chocolate lemon brownies

21 Jun 2021

When Melbourne returned to lock down, people started to iso bake and photos of Julua Busuttil Nishimura's chocolate lemon brownies flooded instagram.

I needed to whip up something quickly for our work morning tea so I decided to make a batch of brownies. I really love my own brownie recipe so inspired by Julia's recipe I adapted my own slightly by topping the brownies with a layer of thinly sliced lemon and adding some dark chocolate pieces to the mix.

I was tired and misread the recipe and instead of using ½ cup of flour I only added ⅓ cup of flour. Due to the lack of flour, the brownies took a little longer to bake so the lemon slices were very well cooked by the time the base was ready but the brownies were definitely still squidgy.

The brownies were sinfully delicious and by lunch time, the tin was empty with nary a crumb left behind. 

Here's the proper recipe for you which makes a 17cm square pan of brownies. These are very rich so I sliced them into 12 bars. 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 lemon brownies - makes 12 bars
150g dark chocolate, chopped
125g unsalted butter, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract 
½ cup caster sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar
2 whole eggs
⅓ cup plain flour
1½ tbs cocoa powder
Pinch salt
65g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
9 thin slices of lemon, seeds removed

Preheat the oven to 180°C, conventional. Grease and line the base and sides of a 17cm square tin with baking paper. 

Place the chocolate, butter and vanilla in a small heatproof bowl. Melt in the microwave in 30 second bursts until the chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Stir in the sugars, then add the eggs to the chocolate mixture and beat until well combined. Sift together the flour, cocoa and salt then stir into the chocolate mixture and mix until the batter becomes very glossy. Stir through the chocolate pieces before scraping into the prepared pan then arrange the lemon slices over the top of the brownie mixture.

Bake the brownie for 35-40 minutes (I started testing at 25 minutes) or until the brownie has risen and come away slightly from edges of pan. When tested, it will still be moist in the centre. Cool on a rack before cutting into squares or bars.

Due to the lack of flour these brownies were extra squidgy and delicious, just what you want in a brownie. Next time I make chocolate lemon brownies, and there will be a next time, I'll read the recipe correctly and use the correct amount of flour. I think I'll peel the rind from the lemon before slicing it into rounds as once baked the skin became quite hard and instead add some grated rind to the brownie batter. Watch this space.

See you all again next week. 

Bye for now,



deep dish salted caramel apple pie

14 Jun 2021

This pie started it's life about 12 months ago when I first heard there was such a thing as a salted caramel apple pie. I downloaded a few recipes and had plans to make my own version then and there but 2020 got in the way.
Last month with a stack of Falcon enamel pie dishes at my disposal from Everten (gifted), I decided it was time to finally get this pie made. Originally it was going to be a lattice pie but whilst scrolling through the internet I saw a version with a crumble topping. 
I had some crumble topping and leftover salted caramel sauce in the fridge, loads of apples in the fruit bowl so all I needed to do was make some pie dough and pretty soon I would have pie. Except this is not that kind of pie recipe. I actually made it over the course of 2 days. There are loads of steps and chilling involved but I think the finished product justifies the means because this pie is sensational! Honestly, it's one of the best things I've ever made.

It's a bit of a bitzer of a recipe - lots of bits of this and bits of that. The filling I found online on the Taste website whilst the pie dough is from a Julia Busutill Nishimura recipe. The crumble topping is from a Nigel Slater recipe whilst the salted caramel sauce is an old favourite from Belinda Jeffery's book, Mix and Bake. The salted caramel sauce requires a thermometer and makes a generous quantity so you will have leftover caramel sauce that keeps for ages in the fridge. If salted caramel sauce seems a bridge too far, then just buy a jar of good quality sauce and proceed. The pastry recipe makes sufficient for a double crust pie or a pie and a galette so there will be leftover pastry. It freezes well though. If pastry gives you the yips then buy some all butter shortcrust pastry or leave out the base and make this into a salted caramel apple crumble. It will still taste delicious.

After all those preliminaries, here is the recipe for you which makes a 26 cm deep dish apple pie or a regular 9 inch pie. 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.

Deep dish salted caramel apple pie
Salted caramel sauce
1 cup cream
1 cup brown sugar
⅓ cup caster sugar
½ cup golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch sea salt flakes

2 ½ cups plain flour
1 pinch sea salt flakes
1 tablespoon caster sugar 
250g cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces 
150 mls cold water
1 tbs lemon juice or apple cider vinegar 

3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
2 large Pink Lady apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs plain flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch allspice
pinch ground nutmeg

75g unsalted butter
75g plain flour
90g raw sugar
3 heaped tbs rolled oats
Pinch each salt and cinnamon

To serve
Salted caramel sauce

Put the cream, the sugars, syrups and vanilla in a small heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to the boil stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to boil until a sugar thermometer registers 108°C. Remove from the heat then set aside for 20 minutes before whisking the mixture smooth. Add a pinch of sea salt flakes to taste. The sauce will still be runny at this stage but the caramel will continue to thicken as it cools. This makes more caramel sauce than you need for this recipe but the sauce keeps for many months in an airtight container in the fridge. Just re-warm when needed.

Stir flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add butter and cut it into the flour with a pastry blender or your hands. Work quickly, cutting it in until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain. You can also do this stage in a food processor.

Combine the water, lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the water mixture over the flour mixture, and cut it in with a bench scraper, a spatula, or your hands until it’s fully incorporated. Add more of the water mixture, 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing each time until it just holds together (sprinkle dry bits with more small drops of water to combine if necessary). It should have streaks of butter.

Cut the dough into two, and shape each half into a flat disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. You’ll only need to use one disc of pastry for this recipe but the dough can be refrigerated for three days or frozen for one month. 

Take the dough out of the fridge 5 to 10 minutes before you roll, so it won’t crack. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin. Begin rolling, starting from slightly below the centre and rotating the dough as you go. Lightly sprinkle more flour on everything as you go. Be careful not to let the centre get too thin—it shouldn’t be less than ⅛ inch in thickness. You want the dough to be 2 or 3 inches larger than the pan you are using—lay the pie tin face-down on the rolled dough to see if it’s rolled out enough.

Butter the pie dish. Fold the dough disc in half, lay it across one side of your pan, and unfold. Make sure there are no gaps between the dough and the pan. Trim the dough along the edges to allow 1-2 cm of excess. Fold the excess dough under and crimp decoratively. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the filling and the topping.

Combine apples and lemon juice in a bowl. Add brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Let rest for 30 minutes. 

Place all the ingredients into a small bowl. Rub the butter into the sugar and dry ingredients until it forms a soft dough then place in the fridge until needed.

Take the pie dish out of the fridge. Arrange one-third of the apple mixture over the pastry case. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the caramel sauce. Continue layering with half the remaining apple and drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons caramel sauce. Top with remaining apple. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill.
Preheat the oven to 200°C, conventional. Place pie on a baking tray on the lower third shelf of the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry edges are just coloured.
Remove the pie from the oven and lower the oven to 190ºC, conventional. Sprinkle clumps of the crumble topping over the top of the pie to cover the apple. Return the pie to the oven this time placing it on the middle shelf. Bake for a further 30 minutes or until the apple is cooked when tested with a knife and the crumble is golden brown and you can see the juices bubbling. If the top of the pie is browning too quickly, cover it with foil or a piece of baking paper. I left the pie in the turned off oven for a further 30 minutes to ensure the apple slices were fully cooked.
Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Allow to cool 2 to 3 hours to let the filling set before serving. 
Serve with cream and some of the remaining salted caramel sauce and prepare to be blown away. The pastry base is nice and crispy - no soggy bottoms here. The filling is well flavoured and not too sweet and the crumble topping is also nice and crunchy. Stored in the fridge, the pastry base was still crisp 3 days after baking so it also keeps well.

I'm heading down to Orange later this week where it's been snowing up a storm so I'm off to the shops to buy some warmer gear. 

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

Bye for now,


honey and co coconut almond cake with cherries

6 Jun 2021

I don't bake with fresh cherries as they are just too expensive so I use frozen cherries instead. I don't think I have the patience required to pit vast quantities of cherries either. I had half a packet of frozen cherries in my freezer and was thinking of the best way to use them.

As you know I have a continuing love affair with the duo behind Honey and Co. I recently spied a plum version of this coconut and almond cake on their Instagram feed and when I tracked down the original recipe it used cherries. I'd found my recipe.

The cake is a simple melt and mix affair topped with luxe ingredients, in this case cherries and pistachios, then baked until golden brown. All that's needed is a sprinkle of icing sugar and maybe a dollop of cream if you're feeling fancy.

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

Honey and Co coconut and almond cake with cherries
⅔ cup almond meal
Scant ½ cup plain flour (65g)
⅓ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
¾ tsp baking powder
pinch salt
2 eggs, room temperature
½ cup caster sugar
cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100 g cooled melted butter
200 grams fresh sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted, or frozen pitted sweet cherries, thawed and patted dry (you can also use sliced pitted plums)
1 tablespoon caster sugar
35 g unsalted pistachios, chopped
Icing sugar, to serve (optional)

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base of a 8 inch round tin with baking paper. 

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs with the sugars, vanilla and cooled melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients onto the dry batter mixing to form a thick batter. 

Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Tear the cherries in half over the cake sprinkling with the extra tablespoon of caster sugar. Top with the pistachios and bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes out dry
Allow to cool for 1 hour before removing from the tin. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
The cake was everything you'd expect from Honey and Co, equal parts simple to make but delicious. I'm sure it would be equally delicious topped with plums with a touch of lemon rind in the batter.

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

Bye for now, 

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