plum and almond cake

30 Nov 2015

Summer is just around the corner and with one 42°C and a 38°C day already, it's going to be a hot one. Summer means stone fruit and when I saw plums in the fruit shop this week, I knew it was time to make plum cake.

I recently made a rhubarb cake which had some whole almond meal in the batter and I thought I'd add some to my plum cake recipe. Whole nut meal adds texture to the cake but it also makes the cake nice and moist.

Plum cake is always popular with my workmates so I took this one into work with me. It went pretty quickly, which is always a good sign. The cake is really versatile and works really well with apricots, raspberries, nectarines and rhubarb. You may need to reduce the cooking time a little.

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. If you'd like to make a 23 cm cake, just double the ingredients but the baking time will stay the same.

Plum and almond cake 
Cake Ingredients 
5 small plums 
1 tablespoon caster sugar 
125 grams (4 oz) unsalted butter 
100 grams (½ cup) caster sugar 
1 tsp grated lemon rind 
2 eggs 
1 cup self raising flour 
½ tsp baking powder
¼ cup (35 g) finely ground whole almonds
60 mls (¼ cup) milk or plain yoghurt  

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease and line the base and sides of a 16 cm springform tin with baking paper.

Cut the plums in half and remove the pits. Slice each plum half into quarters and sprinkle a tablespoon of caster sugar over the plums. Set aside.  

To make the cake, cream the butter, sugar and lemon rind together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until combined well. Sift the flour and baking powder together and stir through the ground almonds. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk to make a soft batter. You may not need to use all the milk. 

Spoon the batter into the lined tin. Decoratively arrange the plum slices over the top of the cake, gently pressing the plums down into the batter. Bake the cake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until the cake tests cooked when a skewer is inserted into it. 

Cool the cake in the tin for about 15 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack. 

Can you believe Christmas is almost here? I'm doing Christmas week again on the blog so I've been baking up a storm for the past month. I still have one more thing to make so the end is nigh. 

See you all again next week,

Bye for now,



ginger pecan slice

23 Nov 2015

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, pecan pie recipes started popping up all over the internet a few weeks ago and this recipe by Allison Kave attracted the most attention. It sounded nice but I didn't want to make pie. I thought a ginger flavoured pecan slice would be a nice option, that way I'd get the flavours of Thanksgiving without the bother of making pastry.

I found a recipe for a coffee pecan slice in my copy of the Australian Women's Weekly Baking CollectionThe book was a subscription gift and until now, I've not made anything from it. I used the base from the recipe and adapted the filling to reflect the flavourings of the bourbon ginger pecan pie recipe.

The slice is pretty simple to make - just a buttery shortbread base topped with a ginger flavoured pecan pie type filling. Instead of maple syrup I used golden syrup and used Bundaberg rum instead of bourbon. I am after all a girl from Brissie.

Once the slice was cooked, I let it cool for a while so the base would harden.

Once the slice was cold, I cut myself a piece and poured a nice cup of tea. 

I sat down to enjoy my cup of tea with my ginger pecan square. The base isn't as crisp as I expected so next time I'd only use plain flour in the base. The ginger flavour develops over time so they're even nicer the day after baking.

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.

Ginger Pecan Slice (makes 24 pieces)
125 g (4 oz) butter, cut into cubes
¼ cup (55g)) caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (150 g) plain flour
¼ cup (38 g) self-raising flour, sifted

1½ tbs plain flour
cup (75g) brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tbs finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
pinch salt
2 eggs
½ cup golden syrup
60 g (2 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp rum (optional)
2 cups whole toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Grease and line base and sides of a 30cm x 20cm pan with baking paper. Ensure baking paper extends 2cm above rim of pan.

In a small bowl cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Sift the 2 flours together and add to the butter mixture in 2 batches. Press the mixture into base of prepared pan smoothing with back of a spoon. Bake for 12 minutes until just golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and let the base cool for 10 minutes. While the base is cooling, reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F and prepare the topping. 

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a small jug, combine the eggs with the remaining ingredients; gradually pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until smooth. Pour the topping over the base, and then arrange the pecans over the topping. Return to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes until the top has puffed and is golden. Remove the slice from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan, before using the paper to lift out onto a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve. 

The slice will keep for a week in an airtight container.

As the recipe yields 24 pieces and I'm not a greedy piggy, I've put a few pieces aside for the cook (that would be me) and took some to my neighbours. The rest, I'll be sharing with my workmates.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekends after the sadness of last week. See you again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,



pumpkin brulee tarts

16 Nov 2015

Hi Every-one,

I normally use pumpkin in savoury dishes like pumpkin soup, roast pumpkin risotto or pumpkin and ricotta cannelloni. It's not Fall and we don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Sydney but with so many pumpkin flavoured desserts popping up all over the internet, I thought it was my turn to feature some 'pumpkiny' baking on the blog.

Initially I planned to make pumpkin flavoured cream brulees but with a little leftover pastry in the freeze, I searched the internet for a pumpkin brulee tart recipe. I found this one by Anna Olson and set to work adapting it.

With the pastry already made, all I needed to do was change the filling a little. Firstly I oven roasted a piece of pumpkin to make the puree; I cut the sugar in half because the butternut pumpkin puree was already quite sweet then I skipped the brandy because I don't have any in the house. I was going to use rum instead of the brandy but after making 2 Christmas cakes on Saturday, there wasn't any left. I used cream instead as the pumpkin mixture was quite thick and needed a little more liquid. I wanted the pumpkin tarts to taste more like pumpkin pie so I added a few extra spices to the filling.

Here's the recipe for you, which should make eight 10 cm tarts. 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.

Pumpkin Brulee Tarts, inspired by Anna Olson.

¼ cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
¼ cup almond meal
1¼ cups plain flour
110 gm (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
cold water

To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients 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 a little 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.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface (I use greaseproof paper) and roll out thinly with a rolling pin.

Grease eight 10 cm tartlet tins. Cut out circles of pastry large enough to fit the tart shells. Line the tins with the pastry and trim the edges of the tart tins with a sharp knife. Lightly prick the pastry surface with the tines of a fork and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Line the tart shells with muffin liners and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tart shells are golden then remove paper and weights. Place the tart shells on a wire rack to cool.

Pumpkin filling
180g (6 oz) cream cheese
½ cup packed brown sugar
6 egg yolks
¾ cup pumpkin puree
¾ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg and cloves
45 mls cream
Granulated sugar for bruleeing

Preheat oven to 160°C/325°F. Place the tart shells onto a baking tray.

In a jug, combine cream cheese and brown sugar with a stick blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend till smooth. Pour the filling through a sieve into a smaller jug then pour the filling into the tart shells.

Bake the tarts for 15 minutes or until the filling has set around the edges but still wobbles in the middle. Turn off the oven; leave the door ajar and leave the tarts in the oven for a further 5 minutes. Place the tarts on a wire rack to cool. Let the tarts come to room temperature before refrigerating for a few hours.

You can serve these as is but if you'd like to brulee the tarts, then sprinkle sugar on top of the tarts and use a blow torch (or place under a hot grill) to melt and caramelize the sugar. Serve immediately.

The verdict - the crunchy, slightly burnt sugar topping elevates the delicious pumpkin pie filling to a new level. 

On a sadder note, my heart is heavy following the attacks on Paris last Friday. Paris is one of my favourite cities and the 10e is where I normally stay. 2015 has been a challenging year for me personally and it can't end quickly enough. Roll on 2016!


black bottom cake

9 Nov 2015

Tomorrow, one of my workmates returns to work following a 6 week overseas holiday. We've really missed her, so to celebrate her return I've made a Black Bottom Cake inspired by a recipe for black bottom cupcakes in Belinda Jeffery's book, Mix and Bake.

I didn't have much time to bake on Sunday, so I was looking for something that wouldn't take long to make. The recipe looked like it fitted the bill. The cake has 2 layers - a chocolate cake layer topped with a chocolate chip studded cream cheese layer. I had some leftover chocolate ganache from a cake I made last weekend so I decided to ice the cake making a 3 layer version. I've not had a black bottom cupcake before and I haven't had a piece of the cake yet, so I can't wait to try it.

I put the cake into the fridge before topping it with the ganache layer. When I cut a piece of cake to photograph it looked pretty squidgy, which is always a good sign.

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.

Black Bottom Cake
250g (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
⅓ cup dark chocolate chips

¾ cup plain flour
½ tsp baking (bicarb) soda
pinch salt
2 tbs cocoa powder
½ cup caster sugar
½ cup warm water
1 tsp espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tbs vegetable oil
½ tsp balsamic vinegar

Chocolate Ganache
30g (1 oz) unsalted butter, diced
50g (1 ¾dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp honey

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a 16 cm spring-form tin with baking paper.

To make the topping, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until thoroughly mixed in. Stir in the chocolate chips and put the bowl into the fridge while you make the cake.

To make the cake, sift the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa into a bowl. Stir in the caster sugar.

In another bowl, dissolve the espresso powder in the warm water. Mix in the vanilla extract, the oil and vinegar.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet mix and stir together until just mixed. Spoon the batter into the lined cake tin and level. Gently spoon the cheesecake layer over the cake mixture and place the tin in the preheated oven.

Bake the cake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the chocolate layer comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin and leave on a cake rack to cool completely.

If you’re going to ice the cake, place the cake in the fridge while you prepare the chocolate ganache.

To make the ganache, put the butter in a heatproof bowl and place in the microwave. Cook on high for about 30 seconds or until the butter has melted. Add the chopped chocolate and honey to the hot butter and stir until all the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Let the chocolate stand for about 30 minutes until it thickens a little before pouring over the cooled cake. Allow the topping to set completely before serving.

The cake is languishing in the fridge at work so I'll let edit the post tomorrow and let you know how it turns out. 

P.S. The cake received a big thumbs up at work. I specially liked the cheesecake topping.

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



lemon yoghurt cake

2 Nov 2015

Do you ever feel as though you've come too late to the party? Well that's how I feel about lemon yoghurt cake. 

When I was home in Brisbane last month I browsed through a back issue of Australian House and Garden and found a recipe for Lemon Yoghurt Cake by Simmone Logue. The cake takes about 5 minutes to make and the recipe looked almost too good to be true so I took a photo of the recipe and decided to make it once I was back home.

Just to make sure, I looked online and found a plethora (I've been looking for a way to use that word in a blog post for ever!) of recipes for lemon yoghurt cake and they all looked pretty much alike. I looked through the fridge and I had all the ingredients; I tweaked the proportions a bit and whipped this up last Sunday before the gym.

I love all things lemony so I was keen to try a slice however I gave the cake to my neighbours as a thank-you gift. Sunday it was back into the kitchen to make the recipe again, this time as tea cakes.

Here's the recipe for you, which makes a small bundt cake or 4 tea cakes. To make a large bundt cake, double the ingredients but bake for the same length of time. Tea cakes will take about 35 minutes. 

lemon yoghurt cake photo blog-8_zpspfv4fpd1.jpg

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.

Lemon Yoghurt Cake 

⅔ cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 tbl finely grated lemon rind (2 small lemons)
100 ml vegetable oil
1¼ cups self raising flour
Pinch salt
½ cup Greek yoghurt
⅓ cup lemon juice

Lemon drizzle icing
½ cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp melted butter
a little boiling water
Fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 180°C (conventional). Grease and flour a small bundt tin.

In a large bowl, combine the caster sugar, the egg and the grated lemon rind. Gradually add the oil and mix thoroughly.

Sift the flour with the pinch of salt and stir into the egg mixture in thirds, alternately with the yoghurt and the lemon juice. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes. The top should be golden and when tested, a skewer comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a rack.

To make the icing, combine the sifted icing sugar with the lemon juice and the melted butter in a small bowl. Add a little boiling water to make a smooth icing. Drizzle the icing over the cake then decorate with fresh thyme leaves.

I just ate half a tea cake with a cup of tea. The cake is quite tangy and not too sweet, so the icing is a must and the addition of the thyme leaves adds that little bit of something extra to the cake.

See you all again next weekend with some more baking from my kitchen,

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