double apple crumble cake

23 May 2024

I bought a copy of Claire Saffitz's recipe book, Dessert Person, in 2021 and I've been meaning to make the Double Apple Crumble Cake from the book ever since. The sticking point was the apple butter, which I've never seen in the shops. I came home from Brisbane to find some very manky apples in my fridge, tracked down a recipe for apple butter and made a small batch. With apple butter at hand I had no excuse any more and set to making the cake.

I changed things a little as is my wont. Claire suggests using unsweetened and unspiced apple butter in the cake batter but I'd already made my apple butter before reading the recipe so I went with what I had. 

I have a really nice crumble recipe so decided to use my recipe instead of Claire's. I also had half a green apple left over, so sliced it thinly and topped the cake with the slices, then glazed the slices with some warmed apricot jam. Please don't feel you have to do this; I just didn't want the apple to go to waste.

Here's the recipe for you, adapted from here, which makes a 17cm 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. If you'd like to make a larger cake, refer to the original recipe.

Small Double Apple Crumble Cake – adapted from Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
60g raw sugar
2 heaped tbsp rolled oats
pinch of cinnamon 

25g unsalted butter
400g Pink Lady or Granny smith apples, peeled, halved, cored, cut into 5mm slices
130g plain flour
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarb soda
¼ tsp salt
110g apple butter (from specialty stores or recipe below)
110g caster sugar
60g sour cream
30g vegetable oil
1 large egg 
1 tsp vanilla extract

Make the crumble by rubbing the flour and butter together, and stirring in the sugar, oats and cinnamon to make large crumbs. Place in the fridge until needed.

In a medium frypan, heat butter over medium heat. When it starts to foam, add the apples and cook, tossing, until slices have begun to soften and turn slightly translucent, 10-15 minutes (it’s okay if some start to brown, which could happen when using drier, cold-storage apples). Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180°C, conventional. Grease base and sides of a 17-cm springform pan and line the base and sides with baking paper. Arrange an oven rack in the centre position.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, baking powder, bicarb soda, and salt to combine. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the apple butter, sugar, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the apple butter mixture. Whisking from the centre of the bowl outward, incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet just until you have an evenly mixed batter. Using a large flexible spatula, fold the cooled apples into the batter, leaving any liquid behind in the pan and mixing thoroughly to distribute the apples evenly.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Sprinkle crumble evenly over the batter, breaking up any pieces larger than a marble. Bake until crumble is browned and a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake slides easily through the apple slices and comes out clean, 1 hour 20 minutes - 1 hour 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Cut around the cake with a knife, then remove the ring. Use a serrated knife to cut the cake into slices.

Apple butter, adapted from here.
750g mixed apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped (reserve the cores)
½ cup apple juice 
1 tbs lemon juice
55g brown sugar
1 cinnamon quill, 1 star anise and 4 cloves placed in a small spice bag
pinch sea salt

Place apple pieces and cores, apple juice and lemon juice in a large microwave safe bowl. Lightly cover and cook on high for 12-15 minutes or until apples begin to soften and fall apart. Remove from the microwave and discard cores. Blend softened apples in a food processor or use a stick blender and process until smooth. You should have about 2 cups of apple puree.

Place the puree plus brown sugar to taste, along with spices and salt  in a small saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Gently simmer, stirring regularly to avoid spattering, until apple butter is deep caramel in colour and thick enough to hold its shape on a spoon, about an hour. Remove the spice bag and transfer the apple butter to a jar or airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

As you'd expect from one of Claire's recipes it was absolutely delicious and just perfect for an autumn or winter dessert.

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

Bye for now,



chocolate cake with dark chocolate cream cheese icing

20 May 2024

My next door neighbours daughter will not eat fruit, even in cake form, so I need to consider that whenever I bake. The last few bakes have been fruit centred so I decided to make a chocolate cake so she wouldn't feel left out.

I turned to a Danielle Alvarez recipe from her latest book, Recipes for a Lifetime of Beautiful Cooking. As I'm now officially obsessed with the cream cheese icing from Beatrix Bakes, I whipped up (literally) a dark chocolate version with which to top the cake. The cake can be made as a layer cake, but I was in no mood for fiddling and made a single layer cake.

Here's the recipe for you, adapted from here which makes a 17cm 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. If you'd like to make a larger cake, refer to the original recipe. For a layer cake, divide the batter between two 16 cm round cake pans and bake for 40-45 minutes and make a double batch of the icing.

Chocolate cake with dark chocolate cream cheese icing
37g Dutch cocoa powder
85g brown sugar
75g caster sugar
112 ml hot, freshly brewed coffee (decaf and/or instant also work here)
1 tsp vanilla extract
70 ml neutral oil, such as vegetable oil
1 egg, at room temperature
½ cup Greek yoghurt or milk
½ tsp white wine vinegar
125g plain flour
1 tsp bicarb soda 
½ tsp baking powder 
½ tsp fine salt

60g dark chocolate, 
broken into pieces (I used 52%)
12g Dutch cocoa powder, sifted
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
60g pure icing sugar, sifted
½ tsp vanilla extract
60g cream cheese, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 180°C conventional. Grease and line the base of a 17cm deep cake pan with baking paper. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cocoa and sugars. Pour in the hot coffee and whisk to ensure there are no lumps. Add vanilla, oil, egg, yoghurt or milk and vinegar, then whisk until smooth. Lastly add in the flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and sea salt and, again, whisk until smooth.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan (about 1 hour) before making the icing. When cool, invert the cake onto a wire rack and remove the round of baking paper then turn right side up.

Place the chopped chocolate into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high in 30-second bursts until melted. Set aside to cool before making the icing. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cocoa powder, butter, icing sugar, vanilla, cream cheese and a pinch of fine sea salt and beat on medium-low speed for 10 minutes until light and fluffy. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Pour in the cooled melted chocolate and stir to combine.

To finish, you can slice the top of the cake off using a serrated knife to create a flat layer or leave it as is. Scoop the icing onto the cooled cake and spread it all the way to the edges. If making a layer cake, add half the icing to the top of one cake, spreading it all the way to the edges then lay the second cake on top and scoop the remaining icing onto the cake, spreading all the way to the edges. Slice and serve.

We all agreed that the star of the show was the icing so next time, I think a layer cake is the way to go. Expect to see another flavour of this icing on the blog very, very soon.

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

Bye for now,



dorset apple cake

13 May 2024

I've just returned to Sydney from a few weeks in Brisbane and Autumn clearly arrived while I was away. With the change of season, it's time to start baking with autumn and winter fruit. I have any number of apple cake recipes to share with you and the first one is my take on a Dorset Apple cake.

A Dorset apple cake is a classic English recipe which doesn't seem to have originated in Dorset. Whatever it's origin, it's a butter cake chock full of apples and I decided to top the cake with even more apples. Dorset Apple Cake can be served warm with cream as a pudding or can be served cold as cake.

Here's the recipe for you, adapted from here, which makes a 17cm 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. If you'd like to make a larger cake, refer to the original recipe.

Dorset Apple Cake - makes a 17cm cake
112g room temperature unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
250g green apples
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
112g caster sugar, plus extra for dredging
2 large eggs
115g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
15g almond meal
1 tbs demerara or raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C, conventional. Grease and flour a deep 17cm springform cake tin and line the base with baking paper. Peel, core and slice 1/2 an apple thinly. Sprinkle the apple slices with lemon juice to prevent them from browning and set to one side. Cut the remaining apple into 1 cm pieces, and toss with the remaining lemon juice.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter, caster sugar and lemon rind until pale and fluffy. As this is small cake, you could also use an electric hand beater for this step. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, adding a little flour with each addition to keep the mixture smooth

Sift the flour, the baking powder and salt into the bowl and fold in with the almond meal. Drain the apple pieces well, then stir into the mixture. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin, lightly level the top and top with the apple slices. Sprinkle the apple slices with the raw sugar then place the tin on the centre rack of the preheated oven.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until well-risen, brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the cake starts to look a little too brown, cover with a sheet of baking paper after about 45 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the tin and place on a serving plate. Dredge heavily with the extra caster sugar then cut the cake into generous wedges and serve warm with a spoonful of double cream.

I shared the cake with my neighbours and it went down a treat. I mean, who doesn't like apple pudding with cream?

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

Bye for now, 


pistachio and lemon iced buns

28 Apr 2024

A few weeks ago, I made a batch of iced pink finger buns, an adaptation of
the recipe for pistachio and lemon iced buns from 'Beatrix Bakes: Another Slice' by Natalie Paull which was featured in a recent issue of Delicious magazine. I'd always planned to make a batch of the orginal pistachio and lemon finger buns and when invited over to a friend's place, I said I'd bring along finger buns. I tweaked the recipe a little, made the dough and the zingy lemon stuff when illness intervened, so I put the bun dough into the freezer and a few weeks later, defrosted the dough and made the buns.

There are many steps to making these buns, so I was glad I just had to make the icing and the syrup, and with an early start, the buns were ready to transport by 10.30am on Sunday morning.

Here's the recipe for you which makes 6 buns. 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.

Pistachio and lemon iced buns, inspired by this recipe for pistachio and lemon iced buns from Beatrix Bakes: Another Slice by Natalie Paull.
Fruit soak
100g dried fruit (I used a mix of sultanas, currants and dried blueberries)
½ cup boiling water
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 and ¼ tsp yeast
135 mls lukewarm milk
30g honey
1 room temperature egg 
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (300g) plain flour 
½ tsp salt
60g room temperature unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 

Tiff’s zingy lemon stuff (makes 150g)
2 small lemons
2 tbs (40ml) water

Fluffy cream cheese icing
125g full fat softened cream cheese
125g unsalted butter, squidgy soft 
pinch salt
40g yoghurt powder or dried milk powder
125g icing sugar

40 mls lemon juice 
40g caster sugar

To finish
30g blanched slivered pistachios
60g butter of your choice

Fruit soak
Place the dried fruit into a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for an hour before draining thoroughly and patting dry with paper towel. Stir through the grated rinds and set aside until needed.

Grease a large plastic container and set to one side. Combine the yeast, milk and honey in a large liquid measuring cup and rest for 5 minutes or until foamy then stir in the egg and the vanilla. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour and salt and stir on low to combine. Add the egg mixture and mix on low to combine. With the mixer on low, add the butter, one piece at a time. When all the butter has been incorporated (about 10 minutes) increase the speed to medium and beat the butter into the dough, until all the little butter pieces are incorporated, and the dough comes away from the side of the bowl. Transfer the dough to the prepared container. The dough will be sticky, and you might need a spatula to scrape the dough into the bowl or container. 

Cover the container with a lid or with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Distribute the fruit soak over the dough and gently push it into the dough using your fingers. Place your fingers or a spatula underneath the dough and gently pull the dough up and fold it back over itself. Turn the container and repeat this folding again. Continue 6 to 8 more times, until all the dough has been folded over on itself. Re-cover the container and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat this series of folding 3 more times, for a rise time of 2 hours and a total of 4 foldings. Replace the lid or tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Place the cream cheese, butter and yoghurt or milk powder and salt in the bowl of electric stand mixer. Sift the icing sugar over the top. Beat with the paddle attachment for 10 minutes on speed 4 (below low) until pale, and fluffy. Store covered in the fridge until needed. If refrigerated, rewarm in the microwave in 20-second bursts until softened.

Zingy lemon stuff
Juice one lemon and place the juice in a non-reactive saucepan with the water. Trim the stalk end off the other lemon, halve it, and remove any visible seeds, then slice into thin half-moons and add to the lemon juice in the saucepan. Cover the saucepan with a lid and simmer over a low heat until all the pith is translucent. Take care the lemon doesn't catch any colour as it simmers. You can also use the microwave - cover with a lid and zap for 3 minutes on high. Cool, then whiz to a paste in a food processor, Scrape into a small container doing a final seed check, and chill.

Spray a shallow 20cm x 30cm 5cm deep baking tray with cooking oil spray and line with baking paper. On a lightly floured counter, divide the chilled dough into six, approximately 115g portions and gently shape into balls. Leave on the counter with a tea towel over the top and rest for 10 minutes. This little pre-shape will relax the dough so you can roll evenly shaped with extra flour as possible.

Roll the balls into smooth, even diameter cigars about 15cm long. Place the dough cigars in parallel lines on the lined tray. Space them apart by 1cm so they'll touch during baking. Free-range, far apart buns won't puff as much without support from their bun buddies. Spray the tops with cooking oil and cover with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature for the final proof (around 1 to 1½ hours depending on room temperature) or until they're a little puffed and snuggling one another. 

Towards the end of the proof, preheat the oven to 220°C, conventional. While the buns proof, finish the icing by stirring in 50g of the zingy lemon stuff. Set aside at room temperature or refrigerate if it's a warm day. 

Combine the juice and sugar in small non-reactive saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 seconds, until viscous like oil. Turn the heat off and set the syrup aside to cool at room temperature. Chop the slivered pistachios into a coarse crumb.

When the buns bounce back lazily when poked, put them in the oven. Turn the heat down to 190°C conventional and bake for 18-20 minutes. The bun tops will be a light tan colour, springy to touch, and the internal temperature will be 95°C. 

As soon as the buns come out of the even, brush the syrup all over the tops and sides. Leave the tray to completely cool on a wire rack for around 1 hour. If your icing is chilled, take it out of the fridge now.

To finish 
Pull a bun away from its buddies. Using a small, sharp serrated knife, split the cooled bun lengthwise like a hot dog bun, keeping the base intact, and smooth a good smear of softened butter on each cut side. 

Press the halves back together. Load the softened icing into a piping bag with a medium plain nozzle in place. Pipe a tight squiggly spine down the top of the bun and sprinkle a pile of crushed pistachios liberally on top. Serve within an hour or two of icing the buns.

I shared the buns with my friends and their 2 daughters, who'd just returned from a swimming lesson. I'd say the buns were inhaled rather than eaten as they disappeared so quickly. They really are very delicious and as far as we're concerned they don't need to be served with butter, they are just perfect the way they are.

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

Bye for now,



apple and blackberry crostata

You know summer is over when the fruit shop only has apples, pears and mandarins are on display. Blackberries also make an appearance at this time as do quince and pears.

When I was in Liguria a few years ago, a jam filled crostata was standard breakfast fare and I saw the biggest crostata ever in a local pastry shop in Santa Margherita Ligure. Ever since then I've wanted to make a crostata. About a month ago I received an email from Australian Gourmet Traveller which featured this recipe and the wheels were set in motion.

I decided to stick with my tried and true almond shortcrust pastry recipe, but made the apple and blackberry marmellata filling. If fresh blackberries are a bit too pricey where you live, frozen berries can be used in their place. 

Here's the recipe for you which makes a 10 x 33 cm rectangular tart. 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.

Apple and Blackberry Crostata 
Almond shortcrust pastry
¼ cup (45g) icing sugar
¼ cup (30g) almond meal
1⅓ cups (200g) plain flour
Pinch salt
1½ tsp grated lemon rind
110 g (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
Cold water

Apple and blackberry marmellata
30 gm butter
2 small royal gala apples (about 240g), peeled, cut into 1 cm pieces
2 small Granny Smith apples (about 250g), peeled, cut into 1 cm pieces
18 g ginger, finely grated
275 g blackberries
250 g caster sugar

Egg wash, for brushing
2 tbsp raw sugar, for dusting
Double cream to serve

To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients and the rind 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 and sufficient cold water 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. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes. 

Roll out two-thirds of the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 4mm-thick rectangle and line a 10 cm x 33 cm rectangular tart tin, trim edges. Place in the fridge until required. Roll out remaining pastry on a lightly floured surface to 4mm thick, then place in the fridge until required.  

Heat butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, when foaming, add both apples; cook, turning occasionally until lightly browned (4 minutes). Add ginger and blackberries, stir for 1 minute. Add sugar; stir until dissolved. Bring to a simmer and cook until mixture gels when tested on a cold saucer (15-20 minutes). Spoon into a container and refrigerate until chilled (4 hours or overnight).

Place a heavy-based oven tray in the oven and preheat the oven to 180°C, conventional. Take the lined tin from the fridge and spoon in cooled jam mixture. Take the pastry sheet out of the fridge, then cut into 15mm-wide strips. Arrange the strips in a lattice pattern over jam, press pastry edges to seal and trim excess. 

Brush the pastry with the egg wash, dust with demerara sugar and place on the preheated baking tray. Bake until the pastry is crisp and golden (40-45 minutes). Cool in tin before serving. Crostata is best eaten on day of making.

I shared this with one of my neighbours and took the rest into work. My neighbour declared it some of my best work and I have to say, topped with cream, the crostata was delicious.

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

Bye for now,



helen goh's anzac cake

22 Apr 2024

Last year, ANZAC Day came and went so quickly I didn't have time to bake anything to commemorate the day so I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice. 

The cake of ANZAC Day 2023 was Helen Goh's ANZAC Cake. When I looked through the cupboard I had everything I needed. I just needed to snaffle a sprig of rosemary from the local Bellevue Hill flower box with which to finish the cake.

The cake has all the constituent ingredients of ANZAC biscuits, just in cake form. The oats are in the base and the coconut in 2 forms, coconut milk in the cake and shredded coconut in the topping. Please don't think about forgoing the topping, reminiscent of the 
topping found on a lumbarjack cake, because it's the topping that makes the cake.

Here's the recipe for you adapted from here, which makes a small loaf 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. If you'd like to make a larger cake, refer to Helen's original recipe.

Helen Goh's Anzac Cake 
65g rolled oats 
135ml canned coconut milk
112g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder 
scant ¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt 
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing tin 
65g soft brown sugar (light or dark) 
65g golden syrup 
2 large eggs, at room temperature
icing sugar, to serve 
whipped cream, to serve
a sprig of rosemary


40g unsalted butter 
50g soft, light brown sugar
50g dried shredded coconut 
30ml cream or coconut milk
pinch sea salt


Preheat the oven to 190°C, conventional. Grease and line a small loaf tin with baking paper, allowing an overhang on the sides to ease lifting the cake out when baked. 

Place the oats in a food processor and pulse a few times to achieve an uneven texture – some fine and some more coarsely cut. Transfer to a bowl with the coconut milk, stir to combine, then allow to soak while you prepare the rest of the cake. 

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Set aside for the time being. 

Combine the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the paddle attachment and blend on medium-high speed until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture will have the appearance of scrambled eggs at this stage, which is normal. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl, then add the oats soaked in coconut milk. Beat on low speed until just combined, then add the sifted dry ingredients and mix a few seconds longer – it won't be completely incorporated yet. 

Remove the bowl from the food processor and finish folding the batter with a rubber spatula, then scrape into the prepared loaf pan. Place on the middle shelf of the preheated 190°C conventional oven and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. 

While the cake is baking, place all the ingredients for the topping in a saucepan and stir over low heat until the butter has melted, and the ingredients are combined. Once the cake is cooked, remove from the oven (keep the oven on) and gently spoon the topping mixture evenly over the surface of the cake. Return to the oven and bake for another 12-15 minutes until the topping is golden brown. 

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 15 minutes before lifting the loaf out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Sift over some icing sugar, top with a sprig of rosemary (for remembrance) and serve with cool, whipped cream if desired. 

I shared this cake with my neighbours, who found the cake as delicious as I did. This recipe is a definite keeper.

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

Bye for now,


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