mandarin olive oil cake

25 Nov 2019

I recently spent a few weeks at home in Brisbane. Just before I left, I discovered my Dad had polished off the last piece of pumpkin spice bundt cake. I didn't want to leave him with an empty cake tin before I returned to Sydney so I looked through the fridge and cupboards to see what I could come up with.

My Dad doesn't like sweet cakes and he likes the cake to be moist as well so with that in mind I decided to make an olive oil and yoghurt cake. To make sure it was really moist I swapped almond meal for some of the flour. Normally I'd make a lemon yoghurt and olive oil cake but Dad doesn't like the flavour of lemon. He just loves mandarins and as there were plenty of mandarins in the fruit bowl I made a mandarin flavoured olive oil and yoghurt cake.

Once everything was weighed out and measured, the cake didn't take long to prepare and Dad had a slice for his afternoon tea. He declared it was 'nice cake Jilly', which really is all I could ask for.

If you'd like to make a mandarin olive oil cake, here's the recipe for you which makes a medium (5 cup) bundt cake or an 8 inch cake. I've made variations of this recipe using lemons and blood oranges, so of course you could use any citrus you like. 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 gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Mandarin Olive Oil Cake 
2 small mandarins
1¼ cups self-raising flour 
pinch salt 
¼ cup almond meal
¾ cup caster sugar (might reduce this a bit next time) 
2 large eggs, beaten 
⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil or a neutral tasting oil (I used a mix of olive oil and canola oil)
⅔ cup Greek yoghurt

To decorate - icing sugar 

Finely grate the peel then juice the mandarins. You’ll need 50 mls of mandarin juice for this recipe.

Grease and flour a 5 cup bundt tin or an 8 inch round tin. Place the tin in the fridge until required. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Sift the flour and salt together into a medium size bowl and then stir through the almond meal. Set aside.

Place the sugar into a bowl. Using you fingers, rub the mandarin zest into the sugar until fragrant. Mix the eggs and sugar together then add the oil and mix until well combined. Add to the flour mix, then in thirds stir in the juice and yoghurt to the egg mixture; stir to combine. When just combined, pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. The batter will be quite soft

Bake for 35–40 minutes if using a bundt tin (it will take a bit longer in a regular cake tin), or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean and the cake is well risen and golden brown. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then invert the cake onto the rack to cool completely. When cool, dust with icing sugar.

The end result is a moist, vibrant sunshiny cake. With none of my styling products at hand, I had to focus simply on photographing the cake. I don't think that was a bad plan and I might continue to do so in the future.

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

Bye for now,


basque burnt cheesecake II

18 Nov 2019

Yes, you're absolutely right. I have made a basque burnt cheesecake before. When I made the cheesecake I used cream cheese but I wanted to remake it with cottage farmers cheese because that's what my Mum always used when she made her famous cheesecake. I bought some farm cheese during the weekend and almost fainted when I realised how much I'd paid for it. Who knew cottage farmers cheese was more than twice the price of cream cheese?

I cut the slab of farm cheese in half and
 stashed a portion in the freezer for later and used a mixture of 2 cheeses in the filling.

I also changed the base recipe. The past few months I've been trying to make a perfect sponge roll but so far have had nothing but disasters. The first one wouldn't detach from the baking paper so went straight into the compost bin. The second one was more successful but cracked when I rolled it. I put it in the freezer until I worked out the best way to use leftover sponge cake other than in a trifle. I read online that you could use spongecake crumbs to make a cheesecake base so that's what I did.

I can't get the perfectly burnished top I see online when I make the cheesecake. I think it's the combination of a slow gas oven and a much lower sugar content in the filling. Next time I might glaze the top of the cake with egg yolk halfway through the bake, but then again maybe I won't. 

Here's the recipe for you which makes a 17cm cheesecake. If you'd like to make a 23cm cheese cake, just double all the ingredients and bake for the same length of 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 gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C. 

Basque Burnt Cheesecake II
60g sponge cake, crumbled
¼ cup almond meal
15 gm unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 180°C. Butter a 17cm spring-form pan, then line with baking paper making sure the paper comes at least 2" above top of pan on all sides. In a food processor whiz the sponge cake crumbs with the almond meal until combined. Drizzle in the butter and process until it forms a soft mixture. Press the mixture into the base of the tin, bringing it slightly up the sides. Bake for 15 minutes or until the base is lightly golden. Set aside to cool while you make the filling.

250g cottage farm cheese
125g cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup caster sugar or to taste
Pinch salt 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs plain flour
3 large eggs 
100 mls  cream 

Place a rack in middle of oven; increase the oven temperature to 200°C. Place pan on a baking sheet.

Place the cheeses, sugar, salt vanilla and plain flour in the bowl of a food processor and process. Add eggs and cream and process until the mixture is combined. The cottage cheese has quite a grainy texture so don’t expect the mixture to be perfectly smooth.

Pour the batter into prepared pan. Bake cheesecake until deeply golden brown on top and still jiggly in the centre ~ 50 minutes. If the top is a bit pale, increase the temperature to 220°C and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool before unmoulding from the tin. The cheesecake will rise dramatically then fall, this is normal. Let cool completely before carefully peeling the baking paper from sides of cheesecake. 

The cheesecake can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill but be sure to let the cheesecake sit for several hours at room temperature to remove chill before serving.

I had a slice last night and it tasted just like Mum's so I'm glad I have a bit of the cottage cheese in reserve because I'll be making this again.

I can't believe how Christmas has snuck up on me. I've just started my Christmas shopping and I've been busily baking for Christmas Week.

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

Bye for now,



spiced pumpkin bundt cake with maple butter glaze

11 Nov 2019

I cook with pumpkin all the time as they're a year round item in Australia. It seems to be much more seasonal in the Northern Hemisphere and with the advent of Fall, the internet is filled with pumpkin flavoured goodies.

Not wanting to be left behind I headed into the kitchen and came up with a pumpkin and maple flavoured cake recipe. Today I'm sharing the recipe with you - a spiced pumpkin bundt cake with a maple butter glaze.

I'm in Brisbane at the moment visiting my Dad and carried some frozen oven roasted pumpkin puree in my carry-on. Every-one does that don't they? To make the puree, I placed a 400g chunk of seeded but unpeeled pumpkin in foil and roasted it in a 200°C oven until it was fork tender. Once cool, the flesh comes away easily from the skin and I mashed the flesh with a fork. The 400g chunk yielded exactly one cup of pumpkin puree which is what you'll need for this recipe.

I used my Dad's bundt tin which is a 5 cup bundt tin and topped the cake with a maple butter glaze and some of my favourite maple glazed pecans but regular pecans would do just as well. 

Here's the recipe for you which makes a medium bundt cake or an 8 inch cake. 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 gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Spiced pumpkin bundt cake with maple butter glaze 
1½ cups plain flour
1 slightly heaped tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
pinch salt
2 eggs
½ cup caster sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree

To decorate – pecan halves

Heat the oven to 180°C. Butter and flour a 5 cup bundt pan then place in the fridge.

Sift the dry ingredients into a medium size bowl. Set to one side. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, the sugars and the vanilla. Whisk in the oil and mix until it is smooth. Add the flour followed by the pumpkin puree in batches to form a runny batter. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes at 180°C, until golden brown and the cake tests done when a skewer is inserted. Cool the cake for 15 minutes on a rack before turning it out and allowing it to cool.  Make sure the cake is completely cool before glazing it and decorating with pecan halves. I glazed mine with some maple syrup and you can find the recipe here. 

Maple Butter Glaze
60 g icing sugar
10 g unsalted butter, melted and warm
10 mls maple syrup
1-2 tsp warm water

Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl. Add the melted butter, maple syrup and water and mix with a spoon until smooth. The glaze will thicken slightly if it sits around, so stir through a little more warm water if you need to – it should be the consistency of runny honey.

I hope you give this recipe a try as it's pretty quick and easy to put together and it's packed with flavour. Dad and I both cut small slices of cake and within 5 minutes returned to cut ourselves another slice because it was so tasty. The cake keeps really well and the flavour improves over time. A week after baking the cake was still moist and as it had absorbed all the maple butter glaze by then, it was even more delicious.

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

Bye for now,


strawberry cake

4 Nov 2019

I have to be honest. The strawberries this year have been very disappointing. As they don't have much flavour, I wondered if baking them into a cake would improve the flavour. I made a strawberry cake using a Martha Stewart recipe I last made many years ago. It's a simple butter cake topped with strawberries but of course I tweaked the recipe a little. I've attached a link below to the original recipe.

I'm in Brisbane this week with my Dad so I had to use what was in the cupboard. I made the cake in Dad's old 9 and 3/4 inch cast iron skillet as I couldn't locate our old pyrex pie plate. 

It seemed a fine idea at the time. Unfortunately the skillet retained it's heat a little too well and the cake batter was cooked long before the strawberries were. 

Here's the recipe for you which makes a 9 inch strawberry cake. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Strawberry cake - adapted from Martha Stewart Living 
1½ cups plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
pinch salt
100g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
⅔ cup caster sugar
½ tsp grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs 
½ cup milk

375g strawberries, hulled and halved
1 tbs sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter a 9-inch deep dish pie pan or grease and line the base of a 9-inch springform cake pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, the ⅔ cup caster sugar, the lemon rind and the vanilla until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat on low speed until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, and beat on low speed until smooth. (Note: the batter will be thick.)

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula. Arrange the strawberries on top, cut side down, so that they completely cover the batter. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the strawberries.

Bake until the cake is lightly golden and a tester comes out clean, about an hour. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack. Serve with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired. The cake can be stored at room temperature for several days, loosely covered.

It's always a little disappointing when your baking doesn't quite go to plan. The cake tasted fine but as the base was over-cooked, the cake was a little dry. No-one likes a dry cake so next time I make a strawberry cake I'll be using a different recipe and I'll make sure I bake it in a ceramic pie plate or a springform pan.

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

By for now,

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