cinnamon spiced bundt cakes

30 Apr 2012

I'm feeling a little guilty because I didn't make it to the gym on Sunday morning. I'm still a bit tired from my whirlwind trip to Melbourne so I had a quiet morning at home catching up with chores before I met friends for dinner. I always bring dessert so I'll share the recipe and some photos with you next week.

Do you remember I made a moist plum cake a few months back? I wondered how the cake would taste without the plums, so I halved the cake recipe and made some mini bundt cakes.

When they came out of the oven I tossed them through some cinnamon sugar and took them into work the next day.

The crew loved them and said they tasted a bit like an old fashioned cinnamon doughnut. I hope you like them.

Cinnamon Spiced Bundt Cakes - makes 5 small cakes

printable recipe
100 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
100 grams caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
50 grams plain flour 
½ tsp baking powder
70 grams almond meal
30 grams toasted walnuts 


¼ cup extra caster sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Lightly grease and flour the mini bundt cakes.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Finely chop the toasted walnuts and reserve.

Add the eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula in between additions. Sift the flour and baking powder. Fold into the butter mixture. Fold in the almond meal and the chopped walnuts. Spoon the batter into the tins. 

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Combine the extra sugar and cinnamon in a small tray. Allow the cakes to cool a little before turning out onto a cooling rack. Toss while still warm in the cinnamon sugar then return to the cooling rack.

Serve with a cup of your favourite beverage but I had mine with a cup of tea.

I'll be back again on Wednesday with a Melbourne shopshoot, so until then.


four seasons in one day - melbourne

25 Apr 2012

I'm not taking any holidays until October, so I decided a mini break would have to suffice until then. I decided to go down to Melbourne and arranged to catch up with friends. I thought I'd drive down 'cos it's always handy having a car then a week ago I changed my mind and booked a flight down to Melbourne instead.

Melbourne is known for having 4 seasons in one day so in between the rain, the sun would peek through. I only had 2 days in Melbourne but I managed to cram in a great deal in a short space of time.

I visited the NGV and saw the Brent Harris print exhibition, which I enjoyed. Then it was on the tram to South Melbourne for a spot of shopping at Izzi and Popo.

Fitzroy was my next shopping destination. I dropped into Nook Vintage and Used Pty Ltd and picked up a few things. Shopping makes me hungry and the rain was about to fall so I ducked into Little Creatures Dining Hall.

While I was waiting for my spicy meatball pizza to arrive, I took some snaps.

Little Creatures Dining Hall is a pretty groovy place and I'm not sure if I quite fitted in.

The pizza was delicious though and by the time I'd demolished it, the rain had stopped.

I ducked out and carried all my parcels back to Prahran as carefully as I could and as they're all styling props, you'll get to see them sooner or later.

It's back to work for me tomorrow for the next 2 days then it's the weekend. Yippee! Today is Anzac Day and normally I'd have made a batch of Anzac biscuits to commemorate the day but I've been busy editing a shopshoot, so that didn't happen. I might make a batch this coming weekend instead.

See you all next week,


chewton - a road trip

23 Apr 2012

I decided it was time to run away from Sydney for a few days. I sent a few emails to friends, booked a flight to Melbourne and hired a car for a day so I could visit friends in Castlemaine. I took the scenic route up there driving through Woodend, Kyneton and the sweetest of villages, Chewton.

I think I took a photo of every structure in the village, the more ramshackle the better.

How great does this pub look swathed in vine leaves?

I had a few days of the best weather with amazing skies. Unfortunately Melbourne's reputation for having 4 seasons in one day has been on display during my stay down here. One hour ago rain was falling torrentially and now the sun is shining brightly.

The quaintest town hall located next to the busiest place in the whole of Chewton, the post office.

I'll leave you with one more image of Chewton.

I've been doing a few shopshoots whilst in Victoria so there'll be plenty more to share with you in the next month or so.

See you all again on Wednesday,


allt i hemmet - published

18 Apr 2012

A few months ago I received an email from Allt i Hemmet, a Swedish magazine, asking if they could use one of my Merci images for a feature on Paris. Sweden is a long way from here so I'd not seen a copy of their magazine before.

Of course I agreed and the photo appeared in the April edition of the magazine. My copy arrived last week and although I can't read a word of Swedish, the magazine was filled with all kinds of loveliness.

Here's a copy of the page lay-out and if you read Swedish, you can read the article below.

It's a lovely magazine and I'm very proud that one of my little photos appeared on it's pages.

I'll check back with you all next week so until then,



plum tarte tartin

16 Apr 2012

I know it sounds ridiculous, but until recently I'd never made or eaten a tarte tartin. The latest issue of Donna Hay magazine had a whole feature devoted to tarte tartin so during the easter break I gave it a go.

As it was Passover I couldn't use puff pastry so I used my Passover shortcrust pastry instead. It was dry and crumbly but I managed to cover the plums. I figured as the pastry would eventually be upside down, it wouldn't matter too much if there were cracks in it.

Now these plum tarte tartins weren't the prettiest dish I've ever made but boy were they tasty.

I've been really busy this past week, so I've not had time to write out the recipe for you but it's based on this one from the Donna Hay website. Instead of strawberries, you use halved plums which are placed in the base of texas muffin tins then topped with pastry and baked until the pastry is golden.

As they're so easy to make I can see tart tartins will be a regular fixture on my winter menu.

I hope you all had great weekends. See you again on Wednesday,


passover fig frangipane tart

13 Apr 2012

Do you remember the fig frangipane tart I made last year? I decided to see if I could make a passover version. I set myself the ultimate challenge of making workable pastry using my Passover baking mix. I used my regular shortcrust pastry recipe and substituted the flour with a combination of potato flour, superfine matzo meal and ground almonds.

The pastry was drier than usual but could still be rolled out between 2 sheets of baking paper. I'm not sure I could use it for anything larger than these tartlet shells cos it was pretty crumbly. I need to work on the proportion of the different flours so at this stage I'm not going to share the pastry recipe with you as it's still a work in progress. Edit - here's a link to the Passover Fig frangipane tart recipe from 2015 including the pastry recipe. 

I managed to get the tartlet shells cooked and filled without any major disasters.

Now I did try one of these little tarts and as you can see the pastry was really crumbly but the tart was delicious. I managed to get these to work intact and once again, no-one at work realised I'd 'renovated' the recipe for passover.

Passover Fig Frangipane Tart Filling - makes six 8cm tartlets
printable recipe

100 grams unsalted butter
100 grams caster sugar
100 grams almond meal
1 teaspoon potato flour (starch)
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 large egg
1 tablespoon finely chopped whole almonds, skins left on
2 tablespoons apricot jam

6 small figs, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon sugar
Optional – 2 tablespoons warmed apricot jam.

½ recipe Passover short crust pastry- see here 

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF. Roll out the Passover short crust pastry between 2 layers of greaseproof paper and use to line six greased 8 cm tartlet tins.  Refrigerate the tartlet shells for 1 hour. Line the tins with baking paper and fill the shells with baking weights. Bake for 15 minutes before carefully removing the lining paper and the baking weights. Return the partly cooked shells to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes until the shells are lightly golden. Allow the tartlet shells to cool while making the filling.

Sprinkle the caster sugar over the cut side of the figs and put to one side.

In a small bowl or in a food processor, combine the butter, sugar, almond meal and the grated rind until a soft mixture is formed. Add the egg and when combined, stir in the chopped nuts.

Spoon 1 teaspoon apricot jam into each tartlet shell. Gently spoon the almond mixture evenly into the pre baked tart shells. Don’t overfill the tarts ~  is fine. Gently place one halved fig onto the filled tart, cut side facing up.

Reduce the oven temperature to 180ºC/350ºF and bake the tarts for 30 minutes or until the filling has puffed and golden in colour. Remove the tart shells from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
When cool, gently remove the tarts from the tins.

If desired you can glaze the top of the tarts with 1-2 tablespoons of warmed apricot jam.

That's the last recipe for the week. I hope you've enjoyed my week of Passover baking.

See you all again next week,



kaffir lime and coconut tartlets

12 Apr 2012

Normally for Passover I'm faced with 2 baking options - meringues or coconut macaroons. Meringues are off the menu until I invest in a new oven but I couldn't entirely abandon coconut macaroons. Here they are, reinvented as kaffir lime and coconut tartlets. I can't take credit for the concept as I've had this Gourmet Traveller recipe bookmarked for ages and just reworked it. As well as passover friendly these little tartlets are also gluten free.

I've never managed to track down flaked coconut at the supermarket, so I used shredded coconut instead.

The mixture is pretty sticky so getting it into the muffin moulds was a bit of a challenge. I have other flatter tartlet moulds which would have been far easier to use but I kind of forgot I had them!

I greased the moulds then dusted them with potato flour and lined the bases with paper to ensure I'd be able to extricate them from the tin. The tartlet shells are quite moist, even after baking, so they're quite fragile. For the lime curd filling I selected a recipe with no added fat, so the end result is a very tangy curd. Next time I might add a little bit of unsalted butter to smooth out the tang in the curd.

I kept some of the filled shells in the fridge and they keep okay for about 24 hours and thereafter they get soggy. I took them into work today and they were given the seal of approval by my test audience.

Kaffir Lime and Coconut Tartlets - adapted from Gourmet Traveller
makes 12 mini tartlets
printable recipe
Coconut Crust
1½ cups shredded coconut
¼ cup caster sugar
1 egg, separated
1 fresh kaffir lime leaf, finely shredded

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. 
Grease and flour 12 mini muffin tins (I used potato flour) and line the bases with baking paper.

In a medium size bowl beat the egg yolk and half the caster sugar until pale and thickened and the sugar has completely dissolved. In a clean and dry bowl whisk the egg white. When soft peaks form, slowly add the rest of the caster sugar to form a meringue. Fold the egg whites through the egg yolk mixture; gently add in the kaffir lime leaf and the shredded coconut.

Using your fingers, press tablespoons of the mixture into the prepared muffin tins. Bake the tartlet shells for 10 minutes until the crust is just golden. Turn the oven off (I left the oven slightly ajar for 10 minutes to bring the temperature down first) and leave the tartlet shells to rest in the switched off oven for another hour.

Take the tray from the oven and carefully remove the tartlet shells and place on a wire cooling rack.The unfilled tartlet shells can be stored in a airtight tin.
Fill the tartlet shells with lime curd just before serving.

Light Lime Curd adapted from an Alice Medrich recipe
Makes ½ cup. You will need to make a double batch to fill the 12 tartlets. You'll have a bit leftover but that's not such a bad thing.


⅓ cup lime and lemon juice (I used 1½ limes and 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
5 tablespoons caster sugar
1 large egg at room temperature

In a small saucepan combine the juice, the rind and the sugar and stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolve. 
Lightly beat the egg in a medium bowl. Add the lime syrup to the egg mixture in a steady stream whilst whisking constantly for 1-2 minutes. Strain the lime mixture back into the saucepan and stir continuously over a low heat for about 5 minutes or until the curd has thickened. Spoon the curd into a container, cover and place in the fridge.

I'll be back tomorrow with the last of my passover baking recipes, so until then.


passover fruit and nut bars

11 Apr 2012

I made some fruit and nut bars just a few months ago using this recipe. I really like them and have made them a few times since. As they contain little else apart from dried fruit and nuts held together with egg, sugar and flour, I thought it would be an easy recipe to renovate for Passover.

I left out all the raising agents and the vanilla and used my passover baking mix instead of the flour. I made my sweet little fruit bars with pecans, walnuts, dates, apricots and some dried cranberries but you can use any combination of dried fruit and nuts.

You wouldn't think leaving out such a tiny amount of baking soda would make a difference but the passover fruit and nut bars were a bit more chewy than the regular kind but still nice.

Passover Fruit and Nut Bars - adapted from David Lebovitz
printable recipe
3 tablespoons potato flour
3 tablespoons superfine matzo meal
6 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 cups walnuts, almonds, or pecans toasted and coarsely chopped
1¼ cup pitted dates, quartered
1 cup dried apricot halves (preferably not turkish apricots) cut in half
¼ cup dried cranberries
1 large egg

Grease and line the bases of 4 small 5 x 10 cm loaf tins with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) and position the rack in the centre of the oven.

In a large bowl, mix together the potato flour, the superfine matzo meal and the brown sugar. Add the prepared dried fruit and nuts and using your hands mix the fruit, separating any pieces that stick together.

Beat the egg in a small bowl, then using your hands mix the egg with the fruit and nut mixture until everything is coated with the batter. Spread the mixture in the prepared tins and press down firmly.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until the tops of the bars are golden brown. Cool the bars in the pan, then lift out. To cut the bars into even slices, use a serrated knife.

Storage: These cakes keep really well stored in an airtight container at room temperature wrapped in plastic.

I'll be back tomorrow with more of my Passover baking treats, so until then,


passover chocolate baci

10 Apr 2012

I think the recipe for which I'm most frequently asked is the one for Nonna's cookies. Well late last year I found this recipe in the local paper and it's very, very close to the one given to me by my patient, Nonna Raffaella.

This is one of my favourite cookie recipes and it was easy to 'renovate' for Passover.

I took out the vanilla essence and swapped the flour for my passover baking mix - equal quantities of potato flour and superfine matzo meal. 

The recipe suggested using nutella to sandwich the cookies together but you know I've never ever tasted nutella and I'm not sure if it can be used during Passover anyway. Raffaella's recipe uses melted dark chocolate to sandwich the cookies together so that's what I did.

I decided to top the cookies with hazelnuts so they'd look a bit like the 'baci' chocolates.

Chocolate Baci adapted from Steve Manfredi printable recipe 
Baci Ingredients
50g Passover baking mix (equal quantities potato flour/superfine matzo meal)
50g unsalted butter, softened
30g almond meal
30g hazelnut meal
25g sugar
½ tsp cocoa powder
25g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped

10 hazelnuts, roasted, skins removed then halved

30g dark chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 160ºC/325ºF. Place all the baci ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well blended.

Shape into a log, wrap tightly with cling film and rest in the fridge for at least an hour.

Roll teaspoons of the mix into small balls working quickly with lightly floured hands, and place on a buttered baking sheet. Top half of the cookies with a hazelnut. Place back in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes then bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Remove the tray from the oven and allow the baci to cool for a few minutes before placing on a rack. Once cooled, spoon a little melted chocolate between the flat sides of two baci and gently stick them together. Makes 15 filled biscuits

Store in an airtight container and they will last a week.

I hope you like them. See you all tomorrow,


passover tart lemon squares

9 Apr 2012

Last year when I read I could substitute equal quantities of potato flour and superfine matzo meal for flour during Passover I got a little bit excited. No longer was I condemned to a week of coconut macaroons and walnut sponge cakes. I made chocolate brownies using this mixture and they were such a hit, I set myself the challenge of renovating some more of my favourite baking recipes for Passover.

I decided to start with tart lemon squares and I didn't tell my test audience they'd been 'renovated' for Passover.

They didn't have a clue. I think the potato flour in the shortbread base made the base even better than usual but made the filling a bit more cloudy.

Passover Tart Lemon Squares 
110 grams (4 oz) unsalted butter
¼ cup caster sugar
½ cup superfine matzo meal
½ cup potato flour (starch)

Preheat the oven to 180º C/350°F. Grease and line a 23 cm/8 inch square cake tin. 

In a food processor, combine the pastry ingredients and process until a soft dough has formed. Otherwise, cream the butter with the sugar in a small bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in the potato flour and the matzo meal until a soft dough forms. Press the dough into the tin. Bake at 180ºC/350°F for 15 – 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

3 eggs
1 cup caster (superfine) sugar
3 tablespoons potato flour (starch)
¼ cup of lemon juice
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon

If you have a food processor, combine all the ingredients and whiz until mixed. Otherwise using a spoon, combine the sugar, the potato flour and the lemon rind in a small bowl. Add the eggs one at a time and gently mix until smooth.
Lastly add the lemon juice.

Pour the lemon mixture over the still warm cooked base and return to the oven. Bake until just cooked, about 20-30 minutes. While still warm, sift with icing sugar. Allow to cool in the tin before cutting into squares.

I hope you had a lovely Easter break. Apart from Sunday, the weather here in Sydney has just been spectacular - more summer like than autumnal. I've had a lovely restful break and I'm in no rush to return to work tomorrow.

Bye for now,


2016 update - there are stacks more Passover recipes now on the blog. Just put 'Passover' into the 'search this blog function' and see what comes up.


double chocolate easter cupcakes

4 Apr 2012

I don't own a stand mixer because my kitchen is too small to house one. I'd have to store it in my sunroom which is already filled with enough junk as it is, thank-you very much. That doesn't mean I can't dream though. Whilst looking through the website of a well known and very expensive brand of mixer, I came across this recipe. How could I not bake these cupcakes for Easter?

I bought the cupcake holders in London a few years ago but I've only used them once before. They're silicone and they work really well.

I always seem to have leftover chocolate ganache lurking in my freezer so I defrosted what I had - a mix of both milk chocolate and dark chocolate ganache. The easter eggs, I had to buy.

I've always had a soft spot for mini Easter eggs.

Here they are, all packed up and ready to go.

The recipe made 11 small cupcakes and I did try one of the cupcakes. I have to say, the cupcakes are good, they're very, very good.

I'm really looking forward to my Easter break. As Passover starts this coming Friday I'm planning to bake up a storm and will try to post a passover sweet treat every day next week. Passover baking throws up many challenges which I'm aiming to overcome. Wish me luck.

Wishing every-one a safe and Happy Easter,


design bureau

2 Apr 2012

Have you heard of the magazine, Design Bureau? Well I hadn't when I received an email from Sarah at Design Bureau magazine last October inviting me to contribute some of my Merci photos to their magazine. Design Bureau is based in Chicago and I live in Sydney Australia, which is why I'd not seen or heard of the magazine. Seeing my images featured in print still gives me a thrill, so I agreed to send along a few images.

The images were to feature in their March/April issue and a copy of the magazine landed on my front door step last week.

Here's the lay-out they designed.

I thought they did a really good job. If you'd like to read the article, here is the pdf. Many thanks to the staff at Merci for allowing me to photograph their iconic Parisian store.

See you all on Wednesday with an Easter inspired treat,

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