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?

Milo cupcakes and dinosaur themed birthdays

wrapperI have wanted to do a themed birthday party for a long time now. When I was given some adorable cupcake wrappers by Illume Design, I knew what my theme would be – DINOSAURS!!

I very rarely do manly posts. Without even thinking, I drift towards florals and polka dots and tea pots. Browsing through previous blog posts, one might suggest that I don’t actually own anything monochrome or beige. I promise that I do! In an effort to counter this slightly, I styled a dinosaur themed birthday party (which any boy OR girl would happily attend.)

IMG_9589Milo isn’t a very pretty food, but it is delicious, which is why I love it. The very fact that Milo is kind of bumpy and ugly means that it is perfectly suited to a dinosaur-y landscape. It also makes the cupcakes extra delicious.

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

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Easter pavlova

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Vanilla fig tarts

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Honey jumbles

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Caramel egg browniesbite

Citrus hot cross buns

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Traditional hot cross bunstear


Nutella raspberry puffs

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 Crème eggs

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Chocolate blueberry friands

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Happy baking, and happy Easter!!

Lime curd and cravings

limesLately I’ve been craving things that aren’t sweet. Salty, savoury, tart foods. I’m fairly sure this is my body’s way of telling me that I should slow down on the baking, or cut down my sugar intake or something.

Silly body, you love sweet things.

I do listen to it sometimes. I try and eat healthily when I’m not testing baked goods (mostly!) So instead of making cupcakes or a cake for this post, I made some gloriously tart lime curd.

Dark chocolate caramel and popcorn biscuit

plateThe title of this post looks like two unrelated things, right? “Oh,” you though, “Gab has made some dark chocolate caramel and she has also made some popcorn biscuits, whatever they are.”

“It’s such a smoosh of words that they couldn’t all possibly be referring to one baked product,” I hear you thinking.

Well, your internal monologue is wrong. I made biscuits with dark chocolate caramel popcorn in them.

It’s like a zillion delicious things jam packed into one gloriously ugly little package.

Lavender poached pears and reliability

Poached pears are a failsafe dessert. They’re quick, they’re easy, and they’re bound to satisfy every time. You can dress them up or down, your guests will devour them regardless. To celebrate these reliable little beauties, I’ve put together four variations on the classic poached pear.

The first of these is a Lavender and fruit tea. The tea that I used is from my local fruit shop, and I’m not sure how widely available it is – this is what it looks like, if you’re interested. It’s got cranberry, apple, rosehip and hibiscus in it, but anything fruity and sweet enough will match the lavender perfectly.

Caramel and high tea

aboveI’m a big fan of caramel. Actually, that’s kind of a redundant statement, because I don’t know anybody who isn’t a fan of caramel. If you happen to know someone who doesn’t like it, please send them my way, I’ll remedy their ailment.

I’ve made caramel sauces and icings for the blog, but I realised today that I hadn’t posted a chewy caramel recipe. For that, I apologise. Caramel is pretty simple to make – it has a reputation for being difficult, but as long as you’re careful you should be fine.

So I’m fixing this right now. With these delicious, chewy delights. They’re just the right amount of chewy – not teeth-shatteringly hard, but not too soft either. (Insider tip: the longer your boil the mixture, the harder they’ll set; I boiled mine for ten and they were in the middle. Boil them for more than that and they’ll be harder, boil them for less and they’ll be gooier.)

These gorgeous little mouthfuls were the top tier of my high tea set up, (the high tea that I threw to celebrate having Cristina Re tea cups on loan!) I’ll post the other two recipes from the high tea in the coming days, so keep your eyes peeled!

Chewy caramels

shatterMakes 24 pieces

  • 395g can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ cup cup caster sugar
  • 125g butter, chopped
  • 1/2 cup golden syrup

Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.

ingredientsToss the condensed milk, sugar, butter and golden syrup into a medium sized pan. Turn the heat up to medium so that the butter melts, the sugar dissolves and the mixture combines, mixing regularly. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to boil for 10 minutes, making sure you stir consistently to avoid burning the mixture.

pourTake the mixture off the heat and set aside to let the bubbles subside.

Pour into your prepared pan and allow to cool briefly before putting in the freezer for at least an hour. Be careful, because your tin will heat up because the caramel is so hot. If you want salted caramel, take a pinch or two of salt flakes and sprinkle liberally.

saltRemove from the freezer about ten minutes before cutting. When it comes to cutting, lightly oil a knife so that it glides through the caramel more easily when you’re cutting. Personally, I like to allow the caramel to shatter slightly – when cutting, put pressure on the tip of the knife while it’s in the caramel without pressing the rest of the blade down, this should cause little fractures in the caramel.

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Plum frangipane tart and efficiency

sceneIf you have a friend popping over without a minute’s notice, efficiency is key. I was in a position recently where I had 45 minutes to throw makeup on and prepare something for afternoon tea when I knew that I had used up most of the flour on this cake (coconut raspberry cake.)

So I whipped up this little gem – it’s fast, easy and super impressive. Tarts are usually a pretty impressive dish to serve to people, but a frangipane tart sounds even better, it gives it an air of French sophistication. Try telling your guests that it’s “just a little plum frangipane tart I threw together” without having the smuggest face ever.

The delicious filling of this tart is gluten free, so would be perfect for celiac or gluten-sensitive friends – just make sure you find a reliable gluten free pastry. I’m in the process working out a decent gluten-free pastry, so watch this space. If you’ve got any suggestions for a GF pastry, comment below!

Plum frangipane tart:

Serves 8-10slice

  • 2 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry
  • 100g butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ tsp almond essence
  • 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk
  • 1 ½ cups almond meal
  • 2 large plums

pastryPreheat your oven to 180°C and grease a 35×12 cm tart tin.

Thaw your pastry until it is malleable enough to shape into your tart tin. Prick the uncooked tart shell with a fork, line with baking paper and pour baking weights in. Pop it in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven, take away the baking weights and baking paper, then return to the oven for five minutes.

Make the filling while the tart is in the oven.

plumsCream together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the vanilla and almond essence, then the eggs and egg yolk, mix to combine. Add in the almond meal and give it a good mix.

Allow the tart to cool slightly before filling it.

Spoon the frangipane into the tart case and smooth out with a spatula. Don’t worry about being too precise, the filling with smooth out perfectly whilst in the oven.

plumThinly slice your plums and arrange them as you please. I slotted mine in at a slight angle so that some of the flesh was showing, giving the tart a little pop of colour and allowing the sugars in the plums to be exposed to more heat so that they’d caramelise slightly.

abovePop this back in the oven for 30 minutes so that you’re whipping it out of the oven just as your guests arrive. Allow the tart to cool before serving.

(I also used the baking time to throw on a face of makeup and attempt to tame my hair!)

 

Chocolate date tray cake and cool food

stripeI bet you read the title of this recipe and thought “blech, dates.”

Some foods just aren’t cool.

Kale is the popular kid at school at the moment. Quinoa comes a close second. Mangosteen is new on the block, but he’s got his sights set for popularity too.

Dates, unfortunately, don’t even register on the cool scale. Dates aren’t even bullied at school – they’re the food that other foods forget exist. Dates are unseen, unappreciated and probably do their homework in the library at lunch time.

Poor dates.