Lemon lavender bundt and elegance

shapeI have a thing about bundts. I’m not even trying to be funny. I think bundts are gorgeous. I don’t even mind that they’re un-iced, which is unusual, because I am a big fan of buttercream! There is something about the shape of them that just screams elegance to me – the lines are so beautiful, so precise. To complement the beautiful form of bundts, I went with classic, elegant flavours, lemon and lavender.

The sharpness of the citrus works beautifully with the softness of the lavender. The Boy was not a big fan of the lavender, he much preferred the batter before the dried lav was added . If your intended audience is as critical as The Boy is, simply omit the lavender, this recipe works beautifully as a lemon bundt.

Eton mess and birthdays

strawbsThis humble little dessert is my way of getting excited about the long weekend coming up. I love that Australia gets the Queen’s birthday as a holiday, even though England don’t. The best way I could think of to celebrate her birthday long weekend was to make one of the most English desserts I could think of.

It has a special place in my heart because I hadn’t heard of Eton Mess before I lived in England. I was excitedly informed about this delicious dessert, only to find out that it’s pretty much a deconstructed pavlova. That’s not to say I was disappointed though! I was thousands of miles from home and the pub close to where I was staying prided themselves on their Eton Mess – it was like having a little taste of home close by.

Cashew, Cobs & caramel fudge and texture

mixIf you haven’t noticed already, I get kind of excited about food. I love putting unexpected flavours together (basil and chocolate, anyone?), I love putting a twist into classic recipes, and I’m really loving playing around with textures to avoid the sameness that can creep into an indulgence like fudge.

Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE simple, speedy fudge. I would have eaten my Nutella fudge all by myself if my siblings hadn’t found out about it. And the peanut butter fudge? I basically did eat that all by myself!

But this fudge is different. It’s kind of grown up. I’d venture so far as to say that it’s a little bit classy!

The smoothness of the chocolate fudge is gorgeous. It’s rich and suave. If this fudge was a person, it would probably be Richard Branson.

The addition of the jersey caramels, Cobs popcorn and the cashews. Make it brilliant, crunchy and a little bit nuts.

Probably still like Richard Branson…

I was a little worried about posting this recipe, because I thought that it was kind of ugly. It’s bumpy and chunky and not as pretty as the recipes I usually post. But the response to the preview photo I posted yesterday on Facebook was fabulous. I love that you guys see beauty in this chunky little delight.

Personally, I think that the alliteration of these three additives (as well as the taste) makes them the best. No matter what combination of ingredients is in the bite that you take, I promise it will be glorious.

Cobbs, cashew and caramel fudge

  • fudge400g dark chocolate
  • 395g tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp thickened cream
  • ½ cup cashews
  • ¾ cup jersey caramels, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup Cobs salted caramel popcorn

 

caramelGrease a 20cm square tin and line it with baking paper. You only need to grease it very lightly, just so that the baking paper has something to adhere to.

Chop up your caramels. Try not to chop them too finely, they’re beautiful when they’re big and chunky. Leave your cashews and salted caramel popcorn whole. Set these to one side.

meltPop your chocolate and sweetened condense milk into a saucepan over a low heat. Stir constantly until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Don’t worry if you can’t get the mixture completely smooth, a few little chunks of chocolate won’t make any difference to the finished product. Add in the thickened cream to give it a glossy sheen.

Take the chocolate mixture off the heat and stir in your caramels, cashews and Cobbs popcorn. Working as quickly as you can, distribute them evenly throughout the mixture, making sure everything is covered in the chocolate fudge. Pour into your prepared pan and smooth it down as best you can. Don’t bother making it perfect, there’s something to be said for delicious, ugly imperfection. refrigerate for at least an hour.

setThat’s it! Sit back and snack on any popcorn or caramels that you’ve got left over.

Remove from the fridge ten minutes before you want to serve it and slice into small squares. It’s super rich, so you only need a mouthful or two!

The great thing is, you can substitute the additives with anything – make a marshmallow, choc-popcorn and walnut fudge. Or M&M, jaffa and white choc chip fudge. There are so many great possibilities.

close

 

Choc chip slice and change

aboveI usually dislike change. I like adventures, but I am all for stability. Which is why moving has kind of thrown me off a little bit. Not having access to internet, for example, has resulted in very few posts recently. Not having access to a camera (I used to use my dad’s) means that even I do bake, I can’t show you. Not having an entirely set up kitchen yet means that my baking has slowed.

To top all of this off, the beautiful rustic table that I bought for our dining room didn’t fit through our door (insert crying face here), so we’re borrowing one from my brother’s generous girlfriend (who has been coming up lots recently!)

All of these things are different to what I am used to!!

What I do like about change though, is that it is a catalyst for experimentation. Lacking a cake tin, I opted to go back to my parent’s house and use their kitchen and camera. I was also equipped with their fabulous house warming present to the Boy and I, the Country Women’s Association Cook Book. Aren’t parents fantastic?

Chocolate raspberry muffins and familiarity

previewChocolate and raspberries are such a familiar combination. One of those things that I always fall back to when I need a fail-proof result. The sweet and tart notes of the raspberries, mixed with the sophistication of the dark chocolate turn out perfect, comforting little bites of homely muffins.

I always have raspberries in my freezer. They’re an easy way to jazz up a dessert, they’re a great addition to a smoothie, and I happily munch on them straight from the freezer sometimes. Actually, the reason I whipped up this recipe was because I needed to finish off my freezer stockpile.

Blueberry cranberry muffins and colds

tearIt’s probably not hard to see that I love cooking. One of the things that I love about cooking is the sharing aspect. I love nothing more than foisting food upon my loved ones. So when somebody that I love is unwell, I turn to food for the solution.

My brother’s girlfriend currently has a terrible cold, so I made her an immunity-boosting soup and these muffins.

They’re packed full  of blueberries and cranberries, which have antioxidants, vitamin C by the bucket load.

Lemon zest is great for eradicating toxins in the body. I realise that the sugar is probably counteracting the eradication slightly, but when you’re sick you need comfort food. We can’t be good all the time, right?

You’re doing your body a favour by eating one of these little muffins. Go on, make a batch.

Blueberry cranberry muffins

Makes 24

  • 1 cup frozen blueberriesbite
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 2 ½ tsp bicarb

Topping:

  • 1 tbsp lemon zest, grated
  • 1/3 cup sugar

berriesPut ½ a cup of the blueberries and ¼ cup of the cranberries into a small saucepan with the water and one tablespoon of the sugar. Heat the mixture over a low-medium heat, stirring constantly and squishing the berries as you go. Keep on the heat for 5-8 minutes, until the water has mostly evaporated and you’re left with a small amount of syrup. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. If you want a berry pulp, grab a fork and mash the berries further – I kept lots of whole large chunks in mine, but you can make them whatever consistency you like.

foldCream together your butter and sugar, then add in the vanilla and eggs. Mix well. Mix in the bicarb, then gently fold in the remaining blueberries and cranberries so that their colour doesn’t bleed into the mixture.

Mix together your sugar and lemon zest for the topping. Set this to one side.

sugarSpoon into cupcake cases, then top with 1 tsp of your blueberry cranberry mixture, then sprinkle a generous teaspoon of the lemon sugar topping over the mixture. When the sugar topping bakes, it should caramelise slightly to create a satisfyingly crunchy coating for the top of the muffin.

Bake at 180° for 25-28 minutes.

aboveIf you’re after a healthy beverage to go with these super muffins, try a lemon tea. Enjoy!

preview

Rhubarb doughnuts and plenty

previewLacking doughnut tins, I constantly avoid making doughnuts. Over the weekend, however, my will was not strong enough to resist my cravings for doughnuts, and I made them without the proper tin. And I made lots of them. Seriously, lots.

Was it an issue? Not at all. In fact, I’d say they were a resounding success. They were slightly heavier than a fried doughnut, but the taste was perfect. The Boy took one bite, and, eyes widened, exclaimed “they actually taste like doughnuts.”

As though my doughnut cravings would have settled for anything less!

The only tip in would offer for future doughnut bakers is to use thin jam. My jam had strawberry chunks in it (which is usually a good thing!), which made it difficult to squirt them into the centre of my doughnuts.

Mini rhubarb doughnut cupcakes:jam

Makes 48 minis, or 24 large

  • 6 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 x 8g sachets yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 200g butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1.5 cups milk

Chocolate rhubarb glaze:

  • 20g butter
  • 1 ½ cups rhubarb, chopped
  • ½ cup cream
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • ½ cup jam or custard

mixtureFit your mixer with your bread hook attachment*. Combine your flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add in your melted butter, slowly, allowing it to start to bring the mixture together. Mix for two more minutes, adding the eggs and vanilla as you go. Mix in the milk, half a cup at a time, until you have a cohesive dough, then continue kneading for 6 minutes.

*If you don’t have a stand mixer, a wooden spoon will work too, it will just take a little more muscle! When it comes to kneading, you can do this by hand as well, just adjust the kneading time by about half, so instead of stand mixing it for 6 minutes, you’ll hand knead it for 9.

Divide the mixture into two and put them in separate bowls. Cover your bowls with cling wrap, then leave it in a warm, dry place to sit for 1-1.5 hours. I left mine for 1.5, just to make sure I got maximum doughnuts out of mixture.

rhubarbWhen your dough has 30 minutes of rising left, preheat your oven to 180°. Grease a large baking tray with the 20g of butter and put your rhubarb in the tray. Roast for 20 minutes, until softened. Take them out of the oven and allow them to cool slightly, then mash into a pulp.

Once the dough is risen, divide the dough in each bowl (use a sharp knife to easily slice through the dough) into 24. I find the best way to ensure even-sized doughnuts is to weigh the portions out on scales.

Once you have 48 bits of dough, roll them into balls by turning the dough in on itself and tucking the excess under.

Pop the balls into a greased 24 capacity mini cupcake tin, then let them sit for a further 15 minutes.

While they’re cooking, melt the chocolate, sieve the rhubarb pulp into the melted chocolate and mix in the cream. Sift the icing sugar into the mixture, then mix until smooth. If they icing isn’t looking pink enough, add a few drops of pink food colouring.

unicedPreheat your oven to 180C°.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they sound hollow when tapped. (If you choose to make 12 regular cupcake sized doughnuts, bake for 15-18 minutes.)

drip (1280x853)When the doughnuts are cooled, use a squeezy bottle to put a small amount of jam or runny custard at the centre, then spoon the glaze over the top. Top with sprinkles for an extra doughnut-y feel.

Chocolate chip biscuits and requests

sceneI was recently asked by a regular reader if I had a good chocolate chip biscuit recipe. A chunky, chewy, good old-fashioned type of biscuit.

And I didn’t! What kind of blogger doesn’t have a basic choc chip biscuit recipe?!

I have several types of biscuit recipes (there’s dark chocolate caramel popcorn, perfect chocolate, boyfriend, Anzac,  gluten free choc chip, speculoos and salted caramel just to name a few), but no basic choc chip ones.

So I’m setting out to amend this.

These biccies are soft and chewy, with sweet, caramel undertones as a result of the brown sugar. A word of warning – these biscuits puff up beautifully, creating a smooth, even top of the biscuit, so if you want chocolate chunks poking out of the top of your biscuit, maybe place them into the rolled balls just before you put them in the oven.

Traditional choc chip biscuits

  • 200g buttermilk
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • ¼ cup choc chips
  • 100g milk chocolate, roughly chopped

mixCream the room temperature butter together with both types of sugar. Add in the egg and beat well before mixing in the vanilla and cornflour.

Add in the flour one cup at a time and mix at a medium speed. The mixture will become quite dry. Once all of the flour is mixed in, shape the mixture into a ball, wrap it in cling film and pop into the fridge for 20 minutes.

coldI never used to refrigerate my biscuit dough, but it really makes a difference to the end result. It also makes rolling the balls less greasy because the butter firms up whilst in the fridge.

Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper (I used my silicone baking mat from House, which I’m slightly in love with.)

rolledOnce your dough is chilled, scoop a tablespoon off the mixture and roll it into a ball. Repeat until you’ve finished the mixture, then pop into the oven for 13-15 minutes. Rotate half way through the baking process if they over-brown.

stackThe biscuits that were part of the photo shoot were eaten so quickly by The Boy and my brothers that I didn’t get a shot of how jam-packed with chocolate these little biccies are. You can see the chocolatey goodness in my breakfast biscuit Instagram post though!

Crabapple crumble pie and the long weekend

samThe Easter long weekend was delightful –  I over-ate, explored some amazing woods, gained two sausage dog friends briefly, and experimented with recipes.

The over-eating was partly the fault of the Easter bunny, who is super generous every year. The rest of the over-eating was simply because I was in great company, and there is no better way to bring people together than a meal.

Egg hunts and ten essential Easter recipes

Easter is a fantastic time of the year. No matter how much a person may dislike religious celebrations or the hype that supermarkets create months beforehand, nobody can argue with days off and an excuse to eat life-endangering amounts of chocolate.

trowelI don’t think I could possibly rate my favourite holiday (I don’t discriminate, I love them all), but Easter is pretty great. Every year, regardless of location or participants, my family holds an Easter egg hunt. It started when my brothers and I were little – we would go to our cousins’ farm in Orange and the Easter bunny would visit in the night. Easter morning, all the kids would wake up bright and early, line up and wait for permission to begin the race, much to the delight of the adults.

jackMy cousins’ farm was the best place for the Easter bunny to secret away little chocolate Easter eggs; there were gnarled tree branches, lavender bushes, paving stones, fence posts and garden beds. We spent every Easter at the farm pretty much from when I was born until I was about 18.

chicksClearly the tradition continued way past our youth, because nobody wanted to give it up.

In recent years, we’ve not been able to go to the farm, so we’ve started an Easter egg hunt in Sydney. Now, thankfully, there is a new generation of kids who can partake in the Easter egg hunt, and while I’m slightly jealous of them for being able to join in the hunt, I love their enthusiasm and wild-eyed bemusement at seeing that Easter eggs have been delivered, and scattered throughout the garden by the Easter bunny.

Last year’s Easter was adorable (I spammed my Instagram followers with all of the cuteness), I can only assume that this year’s Easter, which is going to be at the farm again, will be equally as cute.

If you’re not excited about Easter yet, maybe I can entice you with some delicious Easter-appropriate recipes.

Simple Sunday cinnamon scrolls

scrolls

Easter pavlova

above

Vanilla fig tarts

close

Honey jumbles

close

Caramel egg browniesbite

Citrus hot cross buns

cross

Traditional hot cross bunstear


Nutella raspberry puffs

mess

 Crème eggs

egg

Chocolate blueberry friands

scene

 

Happy baking, and happy Easter!!