xmas month 2021 - very berry trifle

20 Dec 2021

Welcome to the final recipe for Xmas month 2021, a recipe for my Very Berry Trifle. Is it even Christmas if you don't serve trifle?


This trifle will feed a family and I want you to think of this as a suggestion rather than a recipe. You can choose the fruit and the flavour of the jelly and alcohol to suit your taste and the seasons. Instead of sponge cake, you could use meringues, jam rolls, sponge fingers or even macarons. If you’re serving the trifle to children you could use fruit juice, vanilla flavoured milk or sugar syrup instead of alcohol to soak the cake. If you like, you can make all the elements from scratch or you can purchase them, the choice is yours. I decided to buy a ready made sponge but made the jelly and custard from scratch. 

Trifle can't be rushed and it's best made the day before serving then decorated on the day. You need time for the jelly to set and the custard to cool. 

Remember to make start the trifle the day before you plan to serve it. Here’s the recipe for you which makes 4 litres of trifle, which is large enough to feed a crowd.  For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60 g eggs. The jelly was adapted from a Donna Hay recipe.

Very Berry Trifle 
1 quantity berry jelly, recipe below
1 8 inch unfilled double layer sponge cake
cup raspberry jam
¼ cup Marsala or sherry
500mls (2 cups) vanilla bean custard
250g punnet strawberries, halved and sprinkled with 2 tsps sugar
300 mls cream
250g mascarpone
2 tbs caster sugar
To serve 
punnets of fresh berries and a few mint leaves or shaved pistachios

Berry jelly 
3½ tsp gelatine powder
750 mls cranberry drink
½ cup caster sugar or to taste
125g frozen mixed berries
125g fresh strawberries, halved

Vanilla bean custard 
1 cup full cream milk
1 cup thickened cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
4 egg yolks
1 tbsp cornflour
1/3 cup caster sugar or to taste

Berry jelly 
To make the jelly, place the gelatine and ½ cup (125 ml) of the cranberry drink in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes or until the gelatine is absorbed. Place the remaining juice and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, add the gelatine mixture and stir to combine. Set aside to cool for an hour. Arrange the berries over the base of a 4l trifle bowl then gently pour over the jelly mixture. Refrigerate overnight or until set. The jelly will be softly set.

Vanilla bean custard 
Combine milk, cream and the vanilla bean paste in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until hot (do not allow to boil). Remove saucepan from heat.

Whisk egg yolks, cornflour and sugar in a microwave proof bowl until well combined. Pour the mixture through a sieve into the saucepan. Return mixture to the stove and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 15 to 20 minutes or until custard thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon (do not allow custard to boil, as it might curdle). You can also do this stage in the microwave. Cook on medium power for 3-4 minutes, whisking every minute until the custard is thick and silky smooth. Cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming before refrigerating. The custard will continue to thicken as it cools.

To assemble 
If you like, trim the brown edges off the cake, and cut to fit the trifle bowl. Spread a thin layer of jam over the base of the sponge then gently place the sponge round over the berry jelly layer before drizzling the top of the sponge with the Marsala. Carefully spoon the custard over the sponge then refrigerate the trifle for a few hours to allow the flavours to develop.

Just before serving, whip the cream, mascarpone and sugar until soft peaks forms. Top the trifle with a layer of sliced strawberries then cover the strawberry layer with the whipped cream. Just before serving, decorate with the fresh berries and mint leaves or chopped pistachios.

Something you can make ahead of time and feed a crowd. What's not to love? The trifle bowl is by Maxwell and Williams for work I did for Everten.
That's the last post for me for 2021. I'll be back next year with more baking and hopefully some travel as well.

Stay safe and well.
Bye for now,


xmas month 2021- lemon and passionfruit curd burnt basque cheesecake

17 Dec 2021

Cheesecake is a bit of a classic at Christmas time so I decided to make a lemon and passionfruit curd burnt basque cheesecake. It doesn't have a base and it’s cooked in a very hot oven which caramelizes the top of the cheesecake, giving the cheesecake its characteristic burnt flavour.

As there isn’t a base to protect the cheesecake, you line the tin with 2 overlapping layers of baking paper. Lemon passionfruit curd is swirled through the cheesecake before baking and also through the whipped cream topping. 

You can buy the lemon curd and stir through some passionfruit pulp or you can make your own curd. I’ve included a really easy microwave curd recipe for you, which is best made the day before you make the cheesecake to allow it time to cool and set. The cheesecake also requires a long cooling time, so it’s also best made the day before serving. The cheesecake is at it's best served at room temperature so decorate it just before serving and as it's very rich, small slices.

Here’s the recipe for you which makes an 8 inch cake, which I adapted from here. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60 g eggs. My oven is a conventional oven so if you have a fan-forced oven you may need to reduce the temperature by 20°C. 

Lemon and Passionfruit Curd Basque Cheesecake
Lemon and passionfruit curd  
1 egg
⅓ cup (70g) caster sugar
80mls (⅓ cup) fresh lemon juice
2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
Pinch salt
45g unsalted butter, chopped at room temperature
The pulp of 1 passionfruit

750g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (375ml) thickened cream
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup (35g) plain flour
⅔ cup lemon curd
300 mls softly whipped cream, to serve

Microwave passionfruit curd 
Whisk the egg, sugar, juice, lemon rind and salt in a microwave-safe glass bowl until combined. Cook on low in the microwave for 3-4 minutes stirring every minute, or until a smooth, thick curd forms.

Sieve the curd to remove any eggy bits and lemon rind. Set aside to cool a little before stirring in the unsalted butter. Allow the curd to cool completely before storing in the fridge in an airtight container. When cold, stir through the passionfruit pulp


Preheat oven to 220°C, conventional. Grease an 8 inch springform pan. Place a 30cm x 40cm sheet of baking paper on a clean work surface. Top with another sheet of baking paper, turning 90 degrees to create a cross. Line the prepared pan with paper cross, pleating and folding the sides to fit.

Use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is very smooth. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue beating until the mixture is smooth and silky.

With the motor running, gradually add the thickened cream in a thin, steady stream. Continue beating until smooth. Add the lemon rind, vanilla and salt and beat to combine. Sift flour over the cream cheese mixture. Beat on low until smooth. Spoon over 2 tbs of the curd and use a large metal spoon to gently marble it through the mixture.

Pour half the cream cheese mixture into the prepared pan then spoon over another 2 tbs of curd. Pour over the remaining cream cheese mixture and use a round-bladed knife to gently marble. Place the cheesecake on an oven tray and bake for 55 minutes in the centre of the oven at 220°C or until the cheesecake is dark brown and puffed but still has a jiggle in the middle. Set aside to cool completely then place in the fridge to chill for 2 hours.
For a softer texture bring the cheesecake to room temperature before serving. Place the whipped cream in a bowl with a little of the remaining curd and gently marble. Top the cheesecake with the cream mixture then drizzle the cheesecake with the remaining curd. Cut into slices to serve.

If passionfruit isn't in season where you live, just leave it out and make the lemon curd version. It will be equally delicious. The beautiful white serving plates you see featured are by Noritake for work I did for Everten.
See you all again next week for the final recipe of Xmas month 2021.
Bye for now,


xmas month 2021 - chocolate raspberry pavlova

13 Dec 2021

Welcome to week 3 of Xmas month 2021. In Australia Pavlova is a traditional Christmas dessert and this year I decided to make a chocolate pavlova. Pavlova is made from just a few ingredients - egg whites, sugar, cornflour and a little bit of vinegar to create the characteristic marshmallow like interior.


The 70% dark chocolate swirled through the pavlova adds extra sugar to an already sweet dessert, so it's really important to counterbalance all that sweetness with something tart. I think fresh raspberries are the perfect match atop lashings of softly whipped unsweetened cream. If fresh raspberries aren't available where you live, I've given you a recipe for a berry compote which can be made from frozen berries.

As the chocolate pavlova mixture is inclined to spread more than regular meringue, I’ve suggested making a 7 inch pavlova which when baked should make an 8 inch pavlova.

Here’s the recipe for you which makes an 8 inch pavlova. The pavlova recipe was adapted from a recipe from Falafel For Breakfast: Modern Middle Eastern Recipes for the Shared Table from Kepos Street Kitchen by Kristy Frawley and Michael Rantissi. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60 g eggs. My oven is a conventional oven so if you have a fan-forced oven you may need to reduce the temperature by 20°C. 

Chocolate raspberry pavlova – makes an 8 inch pavlova 
120 g (4 oz) 70% dark chocolate
4 egg whites (120g), at room temperature
Pinch salt
220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon cornflour

Berry compote (Optional)
200g berries, fresh or frozen
45g (3 tbs) caster sugar
The juice of half a lemon
1-2 tbs water

300 mls thickened cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 punnet raspberries

Preheat the oven to 170°C, conventional. Mark a 7 inch circle onto a sheet of baking paper then turn the paper upside down. Use the paper to line a baking tray. I used the Bakemaster insulated baking sheet from Everten. I like to secure the paper with clips but you can also use a small dollop of the meringue mixture to fix the paper to the baking tray. 

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure that the water doesn't touch the base of the bowl. Stir until melted then set aside to cool to room temperature. Alternatively, melt the chocolate in a microwave.

Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar a tablespoon at a time and whisk until it forms a thick and glossy meringue and the sugar crystals have all dissolved.  Fold in the vinegar and cornflour and then gently swirl in the melted chocolate.

Spoon the meringue onto the baking tray, using the circle as a guide. Try to build up the walls of the pavlova so that it’s at least 2 inches high as the meringue spreads whilst cooking. Reduce the oven temperature to its lowest setting, place the tray onto the centre rack and bake for 1¼ - 1½ hours or until the pavlova is firm and the base is dry. I like to leave the pavlova in the turned off oven to cool before removing it from the oven and placing it on a wire rack. Once cold it can be stored in an airtight container until it is time to decorate.

Berry compote (optional)
To make the compote, combine all the ingredients into a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Gently simmer the mixture for 15-20 minutes. The mixture will have thickened a little and the berries should still hold their shape. Place into a covered bowl and refrigerate until needed. 

To decorate 
In a small bowl whip the cream with the vanilla bean paste until soft peaks form. Carefully remove the baking paper from the pavlova, then place onto a serving plate and decorate the pavlova with the whipped cream and berries. If you like, just before serving you can dollop on some of the berry compote.
Another delicious Christmas dessert which best of all can be made ahead of time then just decorated on the day. 

I'll be back again later this week with another classic dessert for Christmas week.

Until then,
Bye for now,





xmas month 2021 - sour cherry, oat and white chocolate biscuits

6 Dec 2021

Welcome to the 2nd week of Xmas month 2021. Each year at Christmas I make cookies to give to my neighbours. This year I made a batch of sour cherry, oat and white chocolate biscuits adapted from a recipe from Sweet by Ottolenghi and Helen Goh.

If you follow the recipe to the letter you will be rewarded with close to 30 delicious biscuits. The original recipe used cranberries but I prefer sour cherries and as I had a packet hiding away in my pantry that's what I used.
I've made these twice now and they're really tasty. The quantity of white chocolate in the recipe is just enough to coat all the biscuits so it's probably wise to  melt a little more just in case you get a little too generous with the coating.
Here's the recipe for you which makes about 30 biscuits (if using a 7cm cutter). For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60 g eggs. My oven is a conventional oven so if you have a fan-forced oven you may need to reduce the temperature by 20°C. 

Sour cherry, oat and white chocolate biscuits
150g whole almonds, skin on
150g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
75g wholemeal flour
150g rolled oats
¼ tsp salt
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature, roughly cut into 3-4cm pieces
100g caster sugar
1 tbsp finely grated zest of 1 large orange
125g dried sour cherries, chopped in half, soaked in 25ml orange juice
250g white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180°C, conventional. Spread the almonds out on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and, once cool enough to handle, roughly chop into 0.5–1cm pieces. Transfer the nuts to a large bowl and add the flours, oats and salt. Mix together and set aside.

Increase the oven temperature to 190°C, conventional. Line two or three baking trays with baking paper and set aside.

Place the butter, sugar and orange zest in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on a medium speed for about 2 minutes, until combined and light. Add the almond and flour mix to the butter and sugar and continue to mix on a low speed until the dough just comes together. Add the cherries and a little of the orange juice and mix for another few seconds to combine, then tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead into a ball, sprinkling over more flour if needed to prevent it getting too sticky.

Cut the dough in half and roll out one half so that it’s just over 0.5cm thick. Use a 7cm cookie cutter to cut the dough into rounds. Transfer these to a lined tray while you continue with the remaining dough. Bake for 18 minutes, until lightly coloured all over. Remove from the oven and set aside until completely cool.

Meanwhile, place the white chocolate in a small bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted. Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water.
To coat the cookies, use the back of a dessertspoon to spread a tablespoon of melted chocolate over each. Set aside on a cooling rack for the chocolate to set, which can take up to an hour, before serving.

The biscuits will keep for up to a week in an airtight container, if they last that long!
See you all again next week with another Christmas treat.
Bye for now,


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