luscious white chocolate cheesecake

28 Sept 2015

I've made so many recipes from Belinda Jeffery's book, Mix and Bake, that the cover is starting to tear. That's always the sign of a much loved, much used and much trusted recipe book.

This cheesecake recipe intrigued me because it's nothing like the ones I make. Let's just say I'm biased and in general I prefer the European style cheesecake and this recipe is more like a traditional New York style cheesecake. I went out on a limb and went ahead and made the cheesecake knowing it was going to be hard to impress me.

I followed the recipe to the letter but the white chocolate seized a bit when I mixed it into the cheesecake batter. Next time I'd melt the white chocolate in the warm cream ganache style, cooling the ganache to room temperature before adding it to the cream cheese mixture. 

I decided to decorate my cake with a few raspberries and some finely chopped pistachios for added colour and crunch.

Instead of making one large cake I decided to make smaller cheesecakes. I halved the mixture and it made two 12 cm cakes so you should be able to make four cakes from this recipe. Here's the recipe for you, pretty much faithfully copied from Mix and Bake. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Luscious White Chocolate Cheesecake from Mix and Bake by Belinda Jeffery. 

Serves 10-12

220 g good-quality white chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm
450 g cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup (55 g) caster sugar
3 tsp cornflour
3 eggs
3 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1½ tbs strained fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
2 cups (500 ml) sour cream
1 cup (250 ml) thickened cream
Fruit for topping (I chose raspberries)
Icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 20 cm spring-form cake pan (or four 12 cm spring-form pans) and line base with baking paper. Wrap the outside tightly in a double layer of foil (this prevents any cake mixture seeping out or any water seeping in as the cake cooks in a water bath). Sit the cake tin in a large roasting pan and set aside.

Put the cream cheese and sugar in a food processor and whiz them together for 30 seconds until they’re very smooth. Add the cornflour and give the machine a quick burst to mix it in. With the processor going add the eggs through the feed tube one at a time, whizzing each one in well before adding the next. At this stage stop the processor to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula to ensure everything is mixed in.

Sprinkle in the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract and salt and whiz them in briefly. Add both the sour and thickened cream and pulse them in with on/off turns of the processor only until they’re just blended in. Scrape in the cooled melted chocolate and pulse it in too until the mixture is smooth. Scrape the cheesecake mixture into the prepared cake tin. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come up about 3 cm up the side of the cake tin. Carefully transfer the whole lot to the oven.

Bake for 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the cake in the oven for 1 hour without opening the door.

Remove the cake tin from the water bath and unwrap the foil liner. Cool the cake completely in its tin on a wire rack. Once cool cover the tin with plastic wrap and refrigerate the cakes for 6 hours or preferably, overnight. The cake keeps well for up to a week in the fridge; however if you’re storing the cake for any length of time, remove the outer ring of the tin once the cake is firm to stop any discolouration from the tin.

When you’re ready to serve the cheesecake, sit the pan on a very hot, damp tea towel to help loosen it a bit and run a fine palette knife around the sides of the cake. Invert the cake onto serving plates and remove the tin and paper. If there’s a bit of moisture mop it up gently with kitchen paper. Decorate the top with fruit – I think it looks best when the fruit tumbles down the sides a bit and looks higgledy-piggledy to serve rather than carefully placed.

Dust with icing sugar just before serving. For clean sharp slices, cut the cheesecake with a hot, dry knife.

The verdict? I still prefer my European cheesecake but this one is pretty good. The cheesecake is silky smooth and light but I found it a little bland as all that cream masks the flavour of the cream cheese. The recipe contains very little sugar so I thought a little more sugar wouldn't have gone astray either. It's very easy to make though. The hardest part of the recipe is waterproofing the tins and getting the cooled cheesecake off the base. In the end I put a wet cloth into the microwave and heated it for 45 seconds and once I applied the cloth to the base, it did the trick.

Last week was busy and I'm still a bit tired from the drive up to Brisbane and back. I'm looking forward to the ong weekend and the all QLD Rugby League Grand Final.

See you all again next week with something from my kitchen.

Bye for now. 



in the garden, dungog

25 Sept 2015

Hi Every-one,

I'm in Brisbane at the moment visiting my family. I drove up last Sunday by way of Dungog where I stayed with my brother, Farmer Andrew. It's been a while since my last 'In the Garden' post from Dungog. Due to travel and family commitments I haven't been to Dungog since March. In April Dungog was badly flooded and this was my first time back since then. We went for a little drive around the streets that had been most affected. Many houses are still boarded up; some have been demolished and there are more 'to let' signs in the shops fronting Dowling Street than ever before.

I took these photos last Saturday, which was a lovely spring day in Dungog.

So how was the garden? As it's spring in the Southern hemisphere, the garden was in full bloom. As you may remember I have bit of a thing about wisteria and it was everywhere!

I'm no horticulturist, so I don't know the names of many of these plants but I do spy a little patch of violets and some bluebells amongst the wisteria.

When I was a little girl, my Dad used to buy a posy of violets for me when he'd visit the florist, so violets have always had a special place in my heart.

The garden was filled with blossoms as well, both peach blossoms and nectarine blossoms.

They're so pretty, aren't they?

and a quiet corner of the garden.

The bees were wild for this tree but we don't know what it is. Can any-one out there help us?

The veggies were going mad in the veggie patch under the watchful eye of this handsome chap

and the chicken ladies were laying up a storm. I took a dozen eggs home with me to Brisbane.

A last photo from the garden for you.

Have a great weekend and I'll be back again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


spiced zucchini and pecan loaf

21 Sept 2015

That leftover butterscotch cream cheese icing I had from this recipe was in the fridge, just crying out to be used. I thought I might team it with banana cake but when I found a few zucchini lurking in the crisper, I thought I might make a spiced zucchini cake instead, adapted from this recipe.

I'm always a bit wary of cakes made in a loaf tin as they always crack and have a tendency to be a bit dry. This cake is pretty easy to make; didn't crack too badly and the zucchini ensured the cake stayed nice and moist.

One of the benefits of icing is the icing covers up those cracks. I kept the decoration pretty simple - just a few toasted pecans and some shredded lime zest. If you think making the butterscotch sauce is a bit of an overkill, I think a lime flavoured cream cheese icing would also go really well with this cake. 

I took this into work and one of my colleagues said 'Good cake Jillian' and announced that she preferred zucchini cake to carrot cake and I think I have to agree. That butterscotch cream cheese icing goes really well with the cake, though to be honest I could just eat spoonfuls of the stuff and forgo the cake.

Here's the recipe for you which makes a small loaf cake. For a 23 cm/9 inch cake refer to the original recipe for quantities and baking time. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Spiced Zucchini and Pecan Loaf
1 cup + 2 tbl (170g) plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
150g (⅔ cup) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
⅓ cup (80 mls) sunflower oil
1 cup (150g) grated zucchini
½ cup (70g) pecans toasted, chopped
¼ cup buttermilk

To decorate
Butterscotch cream cheese icing
¼ cup toasted pecans
Shredded lime zest

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease and line a small loaf tin with baking paper. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, vanilla, eggs and oil together. Fold the egg mixture, zucchini, and pecans into the flour mixture. If the mixture looks a bit dry, then stir in the buttermilk. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely. Remove cake from the pan when cooled. I iced the cake with butterscotch cream cheese icing, then decorated the top with some toasted pecans and a little shredded lime zest.

Butterscotch Cream Cheese Icing
15 gm butter
15 gm brown sugar
15 mls cream
1 tsp golden syrup
60g cream cheese, softened at room temperature
25g unsalted butter
1 cup sifted icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

First make the butterscotch. Combine the butter, brown sugar, the cream and the golden syrup in a small saucepan. Cook over a low heat until the butter melts and the mixture is smooth. Cook for a minute or two until the mixture thickens. Add a pinch of salt and set aside to cool. You’ll need to use 1 tbs of the butterscotch for the icing.

In a small bowl combine the cream cheese, the butter, icing sugar, the vanilla extract and 1 tbs of butterscotch. Beat the mixture until it’s soft and creamy.

Moist and delicious!

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

Bye for now,


the society inc - shopshoot

14 Sept 2015

A few years ago whilst visiting New York, my reference book for things to see and do was Sibella Court's book, 'The Stylist's Guide to NYC'. Sibella is a stylist, designer, author and the owner of The Society Inc and if you've seen Restoration Australia then you'll have met Sibella, as she hosts the show. Last weekend while on the hunt for furniture I found myself in Precinct 75 and literally stumbled upon the new home of Society Inc. I happened to have my camera with me and asked if I could take a few photos.

You may have noticed that my shop shoots are few and far between these days. I used to photograph shops on my days off but for the past 2 years I've been using those days off to travel home to Brisbane where my parents live. There were other reasons as well - everything was starting to look the same and I got bored. Same brands, different countries. It got to the point where I could walk into a store in New York, London or Sydney and I could identify the brand and provenance of every item in the store. Well I can't say that about the Society Inc, a treasure trove of items many of which have been designed by Sibella.

Let's step inside, shall we? The store in housed in a former paint factory and unlike it's old home in Paddington, the Society Inc has plenty of space in it's new home.

Big enough to house surf boards,

A bed and a dovecote and the odd sailing vessel

Sibella's range of hardware. Don't you just love the old fashioned signage?

Some covetable lighting.

Sibella's range of paint colours

In more detail

A study in blue

A few details,

A still life

and a final photo.

I hope you enjoyed my little visit to the Society Inc which you can find in Sydney at Warehouse 3.02, 75 Mary Street St Peters.

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

Until then,


upside down blood orange polenta cake

7 Sept 2015

If you're thinking to yourself, haven't I seen something like this before on Jillian's blog, then you'd be right. Almost one year ago to the day I featured a version of this recipe on the blog. I'd always planned to make it again, I just had to wait for blood oranges to come back in season. Well as they're back in the shops, here is the 2015 version of Ottolenghi's Blood Orange Polenta Cake.


On Saturday when I went to the cupboard and opened the container holding the polenta flour, I found it filled with moths. I tossed the polenta flour in the bin and went to the shops to track down some quick cook polenta because that's what Ottolenghi used in the original recipe.

Making the cake the second time round, I learned a few things. Firstly blood oranges are much easier to cut when cold, so put them in the fridge for a few hours before slicing them. Secondly, the quick cook polenta makes the cake really moist but it does leave a slightly grainy texture. If that's not for you, then track down some polenta flour. Thirdly if you use a spring-form pan like I did, remember to put the tin on a tray while it's baking or you'll have burnt sugar syrup all over your oven. You'll need to soak the tin in hot water for a while once you remove the cake, to dissolve the baked on toffee.

Fourthly who knew the Donna Hay for Royal Doulton Cake stand was so fragile. Soon after taking this photo, I knocked the cake stand over and smashed it. That's why it suddenly disappears in the remaining photos!

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C. This recipe makes a 17 cm cake so if you'd like to make a larger cake then refer to the 2014 recipe for quantities. Even though the cake recipe isn't gluten free, it has so little flour it would be easy to swap out the flour for a gluten free product.

Upside Down Blood Orange Polenta Cake 2015, adapted from Ottolenghi the Cookbook.

Caramel topping
65g (⅓ cup) caster sugar
1 tbs water
15g unsalted butter, diced
3 small blood oranges, store in the fridge overnight

Cake Ingredients
25g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
100g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
1 tbs grated blood orange rind
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
120g (1 cup firmly packed) ground almonds
60g quick-cook polenta
¼ cup orange juice (optional)

2 tbs orange marmalade
2 tsp water

1. Lightly grease a 17 cm round cake tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment. If using a loose-based tin, make sure the paper circle you cut for the base is large enough to go some way up the sides as well, to prevent leaking.

2. Grate the zest of 2 of the oranges and set aside. Using a small, sharp knife, slice off 1 cm from the top and bottom of each orange. Standing each orange up on a board, carefully but neatly follow the natural curves of the orange with the knife to peel off the remaining skin and all the white pith. Cut each orange horizontally into roughly 6 slices. Remove the pips and place the slices on a large plate until ready to use.

3. To make the caramel, put the sugar and water in a heavy-based saucepan. Stir gently to wet the sugar through and then place on a low-medium heat. Slowly bring the sugar to the boil. As soon as the toffee reaches a nice golden colour remove the pan from the heat. With your face at a safe distance, add the chunks of butter. Gently wiggle the pan a few times until the butter melts, then pour the caramel over the lined base of the cake tin. Carefully but quickly (so it doesn't set) tilt it to spread evenly. Lay out the orange slices tightly over the caramel.

4. Heat the oven to 190°C. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

5. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with the reserved orange zest and the vanilla. Make sure they are well combined but do not incorporate too much air into the mixture. Gradually add the eggs. Next add the almonds, polenta and sifted dry ingredients until just combined. If the cake batter is a little thick you may need to add some orange juice. I added ¼ cup blood orange juice. 

6. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake tin, making sure that the oranges underneath stay in a single neat layer. Level the mixture carefully with a palette knife. Place the cake in the oven and place on an oven tray to catch any drips. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out dry. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes.

7. While the cake is still hot, place a cardboard disc or a flat plate on top. Briskly turn over and then remove the tin and the lining paper. Don't leave the cake in the tin for too long or the sugar syrup will set and you may have real problems extracting the cake from the tin. Leave the cake to cool completely. 

8. For the glaze, bring the marmalade and water to the boil in a small saucepan and then pass through a sieve. While the glaze is still hot, lightly brush the top of the cake with it.

This recipe makes an exceedingly moist, deeply orange flavoured cake which develops it's flavour the longer you keep it. If you store the cake for a few days you'll need to re-glaze the cake before serving.

Next week I promise will be completely blood orange free, even though I still have 5 blood oranges lurking in my crisper. 

See you all again next week with something you've not seen on the blog for a while, a shop shoot.

Bye for now,


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