apple cheesecake

26 Jun 2017

Hi Every-one,

This simple little apple cheesecake probably garners more compliments than anything I've ever made and as I've been making it for 30 years now, I think I've ironed out any wrinkles in the recipe. It has appeared on the blog before, albeit many years ago. When I checked the archives during the weekend, I discovered I hadn't posted the recipe.  

The original recipe made a 9 inch cake but I made an 8 inch/20 cm cheese cake for a work morning tea so I had to adapt the quantities to fit the tin. I made the base and filling the night before I baked the cheesecake so all I had to do was pre-heat the oven and prepare the apple topping. You can make the cheesecake using regular beaters but I've always used a food processor to make both the base and the filling. The apples you'll need to slice by hand or I guess you could use a mandolin.

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.

Apple Cheesecake (makes an 8 inch cake) 
75 grams unsalted butter 
tbs caster sugar 
⅔ cup Plain Flour 
½ teaspoon vanilla essence 

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and creamy. Mix in the flour and combine until the mixture forms a soft dough. If you prefer, place all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and combine until a soft dough forms around the blade. Press the mixture into the base of a greased 20 cm spring-form tin, bringing it slightly up the sides. 

1 250 gram packet of cream cheese, softened 
1 egg 
¼ cup caster sugar 
½ teaspoon vanilla essence 
1 tablespoon yoghurt 

In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and whiz until smooth. Pour over the base. 

1 peeled, cored and thinly sliced apple
1 tablespoons caster sugar 
¼ teaspoon cinnamon 
1-2 tbs flaked almonds 

Preheat the oven to 220° C. Layer the sliced apples over the filling.  Combine the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the filling. Finally top with the almonds. Bake for 10 minutes then lower the temperature to 190° C and bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until the filling is just set and the apples are lightly browned. Allow to cool in the turned off oven for 10-15 minutes, before removing from the oven. When cold, remove from the tin before cutting into slices to serve.

It's such a simple recipe using only a few ingredients but it does make a very delicious dessert. What you'll get are equal quantities of buttery vanilla scented shortbread, cheesecake filling with a topping of cinnamon flavoured apples and a little bit of crunch from the toasted flaked almonds. Delicious.

I'm not sure if there'll be a food post next Monday because this time next week I'll be in Cape Town. I'll post when I can but I think I'll be in an internet free zone most of the time I'll be in Namibia, so you'll see me when you see me.

Bye for now,


lemon yoghurt bundt cake

19 Jun 2017

A few weeks back I was invited to dinner by a friend and as always, I offered to bring a dessert. My friend's son doesn't like chocolate or creamy things so that means I usually bring along a fruit or citrus based dessert. I was time poor, so that ruled out a fruit dessert so I thought I'd whip up a lemon yoghurt cake. The recipe uses oil instead of butter so I didn't have to cream the butter and sugar. There was still a lot of measuring, lemon juicing and rind grating though but once that's done, it's quick to put together. 

I've made this cake before as a mini version but this was the first time I'd made the large model. Whenever I make a bundt cake, I'm always a little terrified that the cake won't unmould successfully from the tin. I very thoroughly greased and floured the tin then kept my fingers crossed. Thankfully the cake came out of the mould without the need to resort to violence.

A little drizzle of icing never goes astray and the thyme leaves seem to enhance the lemon flavour.

As I was bringing the cake along for dessert I couldn't cut a sneaky slice to show you how the cake looks inside. It's not a fluffy cake by any means. It's moist, quite tangy and solid in texture but not heavy or dense, if you know what I mean.

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.

Lemon Yoghurt Cake

1⅓ cups caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tbl finely grated lemon rind (2 small lemons)
200 ml vegetable oil
2½ cups self-raising flour
Pinch salt
1 cup Greek yoghurt
⅔ cup lemon juice

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

Preheat oven to 180°C (conventional). Grease and flour a large 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.

Not much longer now 'til I fly to South Africa. Just 10 more sleeps! 

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

Bye for now,


plum and walnut babka

12 Jun 2017

When I brought this babka into work one of my colleagues asked if I had a plum tree in the garden. No I don't have a plum tree but 'I wish' was my reply, because I love baking with plums. 

This babka came about following my epic fail making an apple babka inspired by a recipe by Uri Sheff. The dough didn't rise very much; there wasn't enough filling for the babka; when I twisted the dough as per the instructions the filling fell out and I didn't make quite enough syrup to moisten the cake when it came out of the oven. Despite all this, the apple babka tasted pretty good. Uri mentioned the babka worked well with plums so away I went to work on my own plum version.

I used my cinnamon and walnut babka recipe as a base then topped the lot with some oven baked plums. I then kept my fingers crossed that it would all work out. Thankfully it did and I can't tell you how good a slice of this was still warm from the oven. Now making babka is a fiddle, I'm not going to lie. There are many steps and it takes 1-2 days from beginning to end but for a lot of this time the dough is resting. Many recipes make two babkas but as my freezer is small I have no place to store a second babka so I only made one and a large one at that.

Here's the recipe for you which makes one large babka. 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.

Plum Walnut Babka 
Oven Baked Plums 
500g deseeded plums, sliced 
1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar 

Preheat oven to 200°C. Place the sliced plums into medium, shallow ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until the plums are just tender. Cover and leave in the switched off oven until cold. Refrigerate until needed.  

Yeast Mixture 
2 tsp dried yeast 
1 tsp flour 
1 tsp sugar 
¼ cup warm milk 

2 cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting 
¼ tsp salt  
¼ cup caster sugar  
75 g unsalted butter 
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla 
1 to 2 tbl milk or water 

80 g soft butter 
100 g brown sugar 
1 tsp golden or maple syrup 
4 tsp ground cinnamon 
50 g almond meal 
50toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

⅓ cup water 
⅓ cup sugar 
1 cinnamon stick 

In a small bowl, combine the yeast with 1 tsp flour and 1 tsp sugar and the lukewarm milk. Cover and set to one side for about 10 minutes until the mixture froths up, then continue on with the rest of the recipe. 

Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl. Add the sugar then rub in the softened butter. In a small jug, combine the egg and vanilla and add sufficient milk or water to make ¼ cup of liquid. Add the yeast mixture to the flour followed by the egg mixture and mix until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes before removing the soft dough and placing into a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave in a warm place for about an hour before placing the dough in the fridge to rest overnight. 

The following day bring the dough back to room temperature while you prepare the filling. Grease and line the base and sides of a loaf pan with non-stick baking paper. In a small bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, the syrup and the ground cinnamon. Mix in the almond meal to form a paste, ensuring there are no lumps in the mixture. Drain the plum slices. 

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle measuring 15 by 11 inches (38 by 28 cm). Trim the sides to make them even, then position the dough so that a long side is closest to you. Use an offset spatula to spread the filling over the rectangle, leaving a ¾ in/2 cm border all around. Top with the drained plum slices, then sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the plums. Brush a little bit of water along the long end farthest away from you. Use both hands to roll up the rectangle like a roulade, starting from the long side that is closest to you and ending at the other long end. Press to seal the dampened end onto the roulade and then use both hands to even out the roll into a perfect thick cigar. Rest the cigar on its seam. 

Trim about ¾ in/2 cm off both ends of the roulade with a serrated knife. Now use the knife to gently cut the roll into half lengthwise, starting at the top and finishing at the seam. You are essentially dividing the log into two long even halves, with the layers of dough and filling visible along the length of both halves. With the cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of each half, and then lift the right half over the left half. Repeat this process, but this time lift the left half over the right, to create a simple, two-pronged plait. Gently squeeze together the other ends so that you are left with the two halves, intertwined, showing the filling on top. Carefully lift the cake into the loaf pan. Place the tin into a plastic bag, tie loosely and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours. The cake will rise by 10 to 20 percent. 

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C, making sure you allow plenty of time for it to heat fully. Remove the babka from the plastic bag then place the babka on the middle rack of the oven, and bake for about 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

The plum babka is pretty juicy so you may want to skip the syrup. Otherwise while the cake is in the oven, make the syrup. Combine the water, sugar and cinnamon stick in a saucepan; place over medium heat and bring to the boil. As soon as the sugar dissolves, reduce the heat and simmer the syrup for 5 minutes. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush the syrup over. It is important to use up all the syrup. Leave the cake until it is just warm, then remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely before serving.

This makes a very moist but absolutely scrumptious cake which could last 3-4 days but it's always been eaten well before then.

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

Bye for now,


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