hot cross buns

24 Apr 2017

Passover coincided with Easter this year so I wasn't able to taste these hot cross buns until after Easter was over. I don't like posting a recipe until it passes the taste test, so apologies for bringing this recipe to you after the event, but let's face it, hot cross buns are good at any time of the year.

I've been making hot cross buns for years using this Margaret Fulton recipe but this year I decided to tweak the recipe a little. I doubled the quantity of dried fruit in the recipe and swapped dried apricots for the mixed peel (which many people don't like) then soaked the fruit in earl grey tea.

I defrosted one of the hot cross buns on Saturday; toasted it before slathering the bun with butter and enjoyed it with a cup of tea. 

The hot cross bun was delicious and I think the chopped dried apricots added a nice zing.

Here's the recipe for you. Please note, 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.

Hot Cross Buns adapted from
a Margaret Fulton recipe - m
akes 8

¼ cup currants, sultanas or a mix of both
¼ cup chopped dried apricots
1 Earl Grey teabag
2 cups plain flour
½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
7g (1 sachet) dry yeast
30g butter, diced
50g caster sugar
125mls lukewarm milk or water 
1 egg, lightly beaten

Paste for cross

2 tbs self-raising flour
2 tbs plain flour
2 tbs cold water
1 tsp sugar

¼ teaspoon powdered gelatine
2 tbs water
1 tbs sugar

1-2 hours before preparing the dough combine the dried fruits, the early grey tea bag and half a cup of boiling water in a small bowl. Steep the fruit until plump then drain well, discarding the tea bag.

Sift the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter, then mix in the well drained fruit. Stir in the dry yeast with the sugar. Combine the milk or water with the beaten egg  and add to the flour. Mix to form a soft dough. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic.

Shape into a ball, place in a clean, greased bowl and turn the ball over so that the top of the dough is greased. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently press out to 1 cm thick. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and shape each into a small ball. Place balls on a greased baking tray, at least 2.5 cm apart, or arrange in greased round cake tins. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size and soft to the touch. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

To make the paste for the cross, combine the flours, sugar and water and beat to a smooth paste. Put into a baking paper funnel or a small piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Pipe the prepared paste into cross. Bake the buns for about 20 minutes.

While the buns are baking make the glaze by sprinkling the gelatine over the water in a small saucepan. When softened, dissolve over a low heat. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat. Remove the buns from the oven and brush with the glaze while still hot. Stand the buns in a warm place, such as near the opened door of the turned off oven. This helps to set the glaze. Serve warm with lashings of butter.

I'll be back again next week so until then,

Bye for now,


chocolate plum cake

17 Apr 2017

Each month my receptionist brings me a few back issues of the Australian Women's Weekly because she knows I like doing their puzzles. There are always a stack of recipes to leaf through and a picture of a spiced plum cake in a recent issue, piqued my interest.

Although it still feels like summer, we're officially in autumn and the stone fruit won't be in the fruit shops for much longer. A few weeks back, I bought some plums and made the spiced plum cake. 

Something went awry. The cake turned out quite heavy and the finished cake, sweetened with brown sugar, wasn't sweet enough; the cocoa barely added any chocolate flavour and the spices were so mild they were barely noticeable. 

I do not like failure so I decided to make the cake again this time tweaking my own tried and true plum cake recipe. I swapped the lemon rind for vanilla, reduced the flour a little because I was adding cocoa and added cinnamon to the sugar topping and baked the cake in a larger tin. The changes worked a treat and the cake came out moist, delicious and chocolatey. 

This is a very moist cake so don't be alarmed if the plums sink to the bottom of the cake. It only makes the cake more luscious!

Here's the recipe for you. Please note 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.

Chocolate plum cake 

Cake Ingredients
4-6 plums
1 tablespoon caster sugar
110 grams unsalted butter
½ cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
¾ cup plain flour
2 tbs dutch process cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
¼ cup milk

2 tbs raw sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

To serve
Icing sugar
Cream, optional

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F, conventional. Grease and line the base and sides of a 20 cm springform tin with baking paper.

Cut the plums in half and remove the pits. Slice each plum in half again and sprinkle a tablespoon of caster sugar over the plums. Set  to one side.

To make the cake, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until combined well. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder together. 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. Combine the raw sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the plums and the cake batter. Bake the cake for 50 minutes or until the cake tests 'cooked' when a skewer is inserted into the middle of the cake.

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

To serve, sprinkle with icing sugar and if you like, a good dollop of cream wouldn't go astray.

I hope you all enjoyed your Easter break.

See you all again soon.

Bye for now,


bondi markets

10 Apr 2017

After a long hot dry summer, we've just been through a rainy spell in Sydney. I think we were all experiencing cabin fever by last weekend when the skies cleared and out came the sun. The day was too nice to spend inside, so after the baking was done and cooling on a rack I set out for Bondi.

I'd just missed the bus, the next one was 30 minutes away and as Bondi Beach is a 30 minute walk from my place I decided to walk there instead. My destination? The Bondi Markets. On Saturday the markets are primarily food based stalls, whilst on Sunday it's gifts and clothes. Come along with me for a browse.

The markets are held in the grounds of Bondi Public School, my Mum's old school.

I spent a few moments roaming around getting my bearings.

I found plant stalls and some pretty clothes.

No Bondi Market would be complete without a crochet string bikini stall!

Beautiful roses at my favourite flower stall.

I found jewellery, clothes and loads of puppies. Bondi is a very doggy suburb.

Some more spectacular flowers.

Leather items and giftware.

and finally, some beautiful hydrangeas.

I hope you enjoyed my little visit to the Bondi Markets. I must return one Saturday to check out the food stalls.

Have a great Easter break and see you all again next week.

Bye for now,


passover week 2017 - meringue kisses with salted caramel cream

7 Apr 2017

Welcome to the final recipe for Passover Week 2017. Meringues are always a fail safe option for Passover. When I spied this Stephanie Alexander recipe for brown sugar meringues with salted caramel cream I knew I had to make them for Passover, that's until I couldn't find any kosher for Passover brown sugar.

I put my thinking cap on and decided to add a little golden syrup to the meringue mixture, to try and replicate the brown sugar flavour.

The filling is true to the original recipe and makes a very large quantity.

I decided to make small meringues and here's the recipe for you which makes 12-14 filled meringues. Please note 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.

Meringue kisses with salted caramel cream – adapted from a Stephanie Alexander recipe

INGREDIENTS - makes 12-14 kisses
2 egg whites
½ cup (110g) caster sugar
2 tsp golden syrup
1-2 tbs flaked almonds

Salted caramel cream
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
1½ tbs strong espresso coffee
1 cup (250ml) thick cream
Pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 120°C, conventional. Grease and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Using a stand mixer, whisk egg whites to soft peaks. With the motor running, add one-third caster sugar at a time, beating well after each addition, until the whites are glossy and thick. With the motor still running, gradually add golden syrup until well combined.

Spoon meringue mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm plain nozzle. Pipe tablespoon-sized meringues onto prepared trays, leaving space between each meringue. Top half the meringues with a few flaked almonds.

Bake meringues for 1 – 1½ hours or until crisp to the touch. Turn oven off and prop the door open with a wooden spoon, leave meringues in oven until cooled. Store in an airtight container.

For the salted caramel cream, place the sugar and 1/4 cup (60ml) water in a heavy-based saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat to dissolve the sugar, then increase the heat to high and boil for 5-6 minutes until you have a medium-dark caramel; do not stir.

Carefully add coffee and 2 tbs extra water, stirring, until the caramel is smooth again. Boil to reduce for 1 minute or until a drop looks and feels syrupy on a cold saucer, cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, whisk cream to soft peaks. Stop the motor and spoon all of the caramel over the cream. (If you do this with the motor running, all of the caramel will be spun onto the sides of the bowl instead of on the cream.) Whisk until well blended and firm. Stir in a few flakes of sea salt.

Sandwich as many pairs of meringues as you wish to serve with a little caramel cream pairing one almond topped meringue with one plain meringue. Leave to soften for 30 minutes before eating.

The golden syrup makes the meringues a little sticky but it does add that brown sugar flavour and as for the salted caramel cream filling! Absolutely delicious.

I hope you've enjoyed this year's Passover Week. If you're looking for any more Passover ideas, please check the archives.

See you all again next week.

Bye for now,


passover week 2017 - lemon and almond syrup cake with white chocolate ganache

6 Apr 2017

Welcome to Day 4 of Passover Week. Sometimes inspiration comes in many shapes and forms. I made a blood orange version of this Ottolenghi recipe for Christmas Week in 2015. The cake was so moist and used such a small amount of flour I just knew it would be easy to renovate for Passover.

I didn’t want to make the same version so instead of elusive clementines or blood oranges I made the cake using lemons. I made a loaf version of the cake but you could make the cake using a small 16-17 springform tin. For a larger version just use the quantities in the original recipe.

White chocolate is the perfect pairing with lemon, so for the topping I made a white chocolate ganache and some candied lemon rind. Don’t think you need to top the cake with anything fancy though because the cake is so moist and delicious as it is. If you can't track down kosher for Passover white chocolate, a bowl of whipped cream is all you need to accompany this cake.

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 gm and my oven is a conventional oven, not fan forced. If your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the cooking temperature by 20°C.

Lemon and Almond Syrup Cake (adapted from Ottolenghi)
2 lemons
100g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
140g ground almonds
2 large eggs, beaten
50g Passover baking mix (equal quantities of superfine matzo meal and potato starch)
pinch salt

40 g caster sugar
60 mls lemon juice

To decorate (optional) - candied lemon slices/whipped cream ganache

White chocolate ganache (optional)
40mls cream
75g white chocolate, finely chopped
If whipping the ganache, you’ll need an additional 40mls cream

Candied Lemon Slices (optional)
1 small lemon thinly sliced and seeds removed
1/2 cup caster sugar 
1/2 cup water

Preheat the oven to 180C°, conventional. Lightly grease a small loaf tin or a 16-17 cm round tin and line the sides and base with baking parchment.

Finely grate the rind of the 2 lemons before juicing them. Reserve the juice. Put the butter, 125g of sugar and the lemon rind into a bowl and mix. Do not work the mix too much or incorporate much air. Add half the ground almonds and continue mixing to fold through. Add the eggs gradually, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as you go. Add the remaining almonds, the baking mix and salt, and work until the mix is smooth.

Spoon the cake batter into the tin and level. Bake for 50-60 minutes - a skewer should come out a little bit moist. When the cake is almost cooked, prepare the syrup. Combine the remaining sugar and 60 mls of the lemon juice in a small pan; bring to a boil then remove from the heat at once. Pour the hot syrup over the cake, making sure it all soaks through. Leave to cool. Serve it as it is or topped with the white chocolate icing and candied lemon slices.

To make the candied lemon slices, combine the sugar and water in a frying pan, place over a low heat stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 5 - 8 minutes or until the toffee starts to turn golden. Add the lemon slices and turn frequently until the lemon slices are golden and well coated about 3 - 5 minutes. Remove the slices and place on baking paper. Allow to cool at room temperature.

For the icing, put the cream in a heatproof bowl and place in the microwave. Cook on high for about 30 seconds or until the cream is close to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate to the hot cream 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. Let the icing set, then garnish with some pieces of candied lemon rind. 

I decorated the cake with some whipped white chocolate ganache and if you’d like to do the same, whip the cooled white ganache with the additional cream until it thickens, then decorate as desired.

I can't tell you how moist and delicious this cake is. This is an absolute winner and one cake I'll definitely make again.

See you all again tomorrow with another Passover recipe.

Bye for now,


passover week 2017 - individual passover pecan pies

5 Apr 2017

Welcome to day 3 of Passover Week. Every year I search out a good pastry recipe for Passover and every year I'm left a little disappointed. This year I tried an almond pastry from Helmsley and Helmsley. The recipe uses maple syrup so you'll need to hunt down a bottle with Passover certification. If you can't find it, then golden syrup or pancake syrup with appropriate certification will work just as well.

The tart shells baked up really crispy and I was excited but after one night stored in an airtight tin, they'd already gone a little soft.

They crisped up again once they were filled and baked but I think these little tarts would be best served on the day they're made. If you have to store them, then keep them refrigerated overnight until serving time.

Here's the recipe for you. Please note, for all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 gm and my oven is a conventional oven, not fan forced. If your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the cooking temperature by 20°C.

Individual Passover Pecan Pies - makes eight 6cm tartlets

Almond Pastry Recipe, adapted from this recipe
200g ground almonds
¼ teaspoon of sea salt
15g butter, room temperature
¾ tablespoon maple syrup
1 medium egg

1 egg + 1 yolk
50g sugar
1½ tablespoons melted butter
½ cup maple syrup/golden syrup or pancake syrup
1 cup toasted pecans

In a bowl or food processor, mix together the dry ingredients with the butter. Mix the maple syrup and egg together and add sufficient of the egg mixture to the food processor and whiz until a dough forms. You might need to add a touch more almond flour to bring it to a pastry dough texture. Cut into 2 pieces and chill in the fridge.

Working with a half of the chilled dough at a time, roll between 2 pieces of greaseproof paper until a few millimetres thick. Line eight 6 cm tartlet shells with the pastry (you won’t need to use baking beans) and place on a baking tray. Bake the tart bases for 5-10 minutes at 170°C, until just golden and remove from the oven. Allow to cool completely before filling.

Heat the oven to 180°C while you make the filling. In a jug combine the egg, the yolk, sugar, syrup and the melted butter. Put aside 8 pecans, then coarsely chop the remaining pecans and divide evenly between each tartlet shell. Place the tartlet shells onto the baking tray then carefully pour the filling into the prepared tins. Decorate the top of each tart with a whole pecan then bake for 15-20 minutes at 180°C or until the filling is well browned and just set.

I shared these with my neighbours and nobody knew they were made for Passover, as they tasted just like regular mini pecan pies.

See you all tomorrow with another recipe from Passover week.

Bye for now,


passover week 2017 - raspberry craquelin profiteroles

4 Apr 2017

Welcome to Day 2 of Passover Week. Many years ago I used to make Passover 'bagels' which were made from choux pastry using matzo meal instead of flour. Last year I tried making passover profiteroles using my Passover baking mix and they were an abject failure. The potato flour when cooked was a nasty thing so I went back to the drawing board and decided to try again this time using superfine matzo meal by itself.

For the choux pastry, I used this Trine Hahnemann recipe swapping superfine matzo meal for the flour. I wanted to top the profiteroles with something other than chocolate so I made a crumble or craquelin topping.

Traditionally this topping is made using brown sugar but I couldn't track down any brown sugar in the passover section of the supermarket so I used plain sugar and it turned out just fine.

I lightly adapted the filling from Trine Hahnemann's recipe and 
I added some lemon curd I had in the fridge.

Here's the recipe for you which makes 12 profiteroles. Please note 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.

Raspberry Craquelin Profiteroles – makes 12
50g Passover baking mix (equal quantities potato flour and superfine matzo meal)
50g caster sugar
40g unsalted butter, softened

To make the craquelin, place baking mix in a small food processor and blitz with the sugar and 40g butter and whiz to combine until a soft dough forms. Place dough between 2 sheets of baking paper and roll out to 2 mm thick. Place on a tray and refrigerate or at least 30 minutes to firm up. Cut out twelve 5cm circles and refrigerate until needed.

Choux Pastry
100g butter
200mls water
100g superfine matzo meal
½ teaspoon caster sugar
Pinch salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
butter, for the tray

Cream Filling
300ml cream
3 tbs caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
150g raspberries
Optional – lemon curd

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a buttered baking tray with baking paper. Mark twelve 5cm circles on the paper leaving space between.

Put the butter in a saucepan with 200ml of water and let it melt over a gentle heat before bringing to the boil. Meanwhile, sift the matzo meal, sugar and salt into a bowl. Take the saucepan off the heat, add the meal and stir with a wooden spoon until a firm, smooth paste is formed. Return to the heat and beat until it comes away from the edges of the pan and forms a ball, then remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Add the eggs to the dough a little at a time, beating well after each addition, until the mixture is smooth. You may not need all the egg.

Put the dough into a piping bag fitted with a 2cm plain nozzle and fill each circle. Brush the top of each profiterole lightly with any remaining egg then top each bun with a craquelin circle. Bake for 30 minutes; do not open the oven door for the first 10 minutes or the pastry may not rise. With a sharp knife pierce a hole in the side of the bun to let the steam out, then reduce oven to 160°C and bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until dry to the touch. The pastries are done when they are golden brown and firm. Transfer to a wire rack and with a sharp knife, slice the profiterole in half. Remove any uncooked mixture and return to the oven to dry out for a further 10 minutes. Leave to cool.

Cream Filling
Put 12 whole raspberries to one side. Whip the cream together with the sugar until soft peaks form. Slit the vanilla pod lengthways with a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds with the tip. Add to the cream with the raspberries, whipping again briefly to mix in the vanilla and roughly break up the berries. Pipe or spoon some of the raspberry cream on the bottom half of the choux bun. Place a whole berry on top of the cream before placing the other half on top, being careful not to press them together. Refrigerate until serving time.

I had some leftover lemon curd in the fridge so I spooned 2 teaspoons of the curd in the base of the profiterole before filling with the cream and decorating with a single berry. If you’d like to do the same, the recipe is below.

Lemon Curd
2 egg yolks 
1/3 cup caster sugar 
1 tablespoon potato flour (starch)
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons 
¼ cup (60 ml) water

In top of a double saucepan mix the egg yolks, sugar, potato flour, lemon rind and gradually stir in the lemon juice and water. Cook stirring over boiling water until the filling is smooth and thick. Cool before storing in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated until serving time.

Yes these are a little bit of a fiddle but I think they're worth the effort and I'll definitely make them again. 

See you all again tomorrow with Day 3 of Passover Week 2017.

Bye for now,



passover week 2017 - flourless chocolate cake

3 Apr 2017

Welcome to Passover Week 2017. I've been baking up a storm in the kitchen and this year the items are on the slightly more ambitious end of the spectrum so I hope you'll like what I've been working on. Here's the first recipe for you, a flourless chocolate cake.

Sometimes it's easy finding recipes to bake for Passover that are conveniently flourless. Sometimes the recipe just needs a small amount of renovation before it's Passover ready. Often times you can't source the Kosher for Passover items you need for the recipe so find yourself looking for substitute ingredients then keep your fingers crossed that all will work out in the end. 

This first recipe is one of those conveniently flourless recipes - a slightly modified version of Flour and Stone's Chocolate Manjari Cake. I didn't have a choice of chocolate so I made this cake with the only Passover dark chocolate I could find. 

I baked a small version of the cake so the quantities were reduced to fit my tin but the original quantities can be found in the recipe, which I've linked above. I did slightly modify the technique to reduce the number of steps in the recipe. This cake requires endless beating and folding so I needed to wash my mixer and beaters three times during the construction phase.

I have to say, the end result was worth it because this cake was gorgeous - a little mousse like and intensely dark and chocolately. I haven't tried this myself but I'm sure it could be made dairy free by using almond milk and swapping the whipped cream for olive oil, slowly added to the whipped eggs and sugar. One day I must give it a go.

Here's the recipe for you. Please note, for all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 gm and my oven is a conventional oven, not fan forced. If your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the cooking temperature by 20°C.

Flourless Chocolate Cake – Flour and Stone
125 gm dark chocolate 
60 ml (¼ cup) milk
Juice of ½ lemon
25 gm Dutch-process cocoa, plus extra for dusting
1 egg plus 1 yolk
60 gm caster sugar
75 gm egg whites (about 2 large eggs)
100 ml pouring cream, whisked to soft peaks, refrigerated until required

Preheat oven to 160°C, conventional. Line a 16cm-diameter springform cake tin with baking paper. Coarsely chop the chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl. Bring milk and lemon juice to the boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat while stirring (don’t worry if it curdles). Add to the chocolate and gently stir until the chocolate melts. If there are a few unmelted chocolate pieces then microwave the bowl on high for 30 seconds and stir again until the chocolate has completely melted, then fold in the cocoa.

Whisk eggs and 45gm sugar in an electric mixer on high speed until thick and fluffy(5-6 minutes). Add the egg mixture to chocolate in 3 batches, gently folding to combine between additions. It’s okay if the mixture is streaky – there’s a lot of folding yet to do and we want to preserve as much of the air as possible.

Whisk egg white and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer on medium speed until egg white forms soft ribbons form (2-3 minutes), then gradually add remaining sugar and whisk to soft peaks (1-2 minutes).

Gently fold the cream into chocolate mixture in 2 batches followed by egg white in 2 batches. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake until centre springs back when pressed (1-1¼ hours). Turn off heat and cool in oven with door slightly ajar to reduce the amount the cake falls as it is cooling. When cake is cool, dust with cocoa and serve. The chocolate cake will keep for 4 days in an airtight container, though I doubt it will last that long!

See you all again tomorrow with some more Passover baking.

Bye for now,

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