Honey pear cake and oversupply

sceneThis post came about because of an over supply of two things.

Pears and honey.

So I created a honey pear cake.

Makes sense, right?

I was lucky enough to receive another delivery of free pears last week (I spoke about the first delivery here.) I’m currently trying to find more ways to use these babies up, because I’ve eaten about 50, poached close to a dozen, given away what seems like bagfuls, and I’m still left with a bowl of them which are threatening to go bad on me. Continue reading “Honey pear cake and oversupply”

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. Continue reading “Lavender poached pears and reliability”

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!)

 

Raspberry scrolls and hearts

closeI’m not really that big a fan of Valentine’s day. I love the idea of celebrating your loved one, and I love ANY excuse to bake, but I get a little jaded by the comparisons and expectations that couples have put on them as the day dawns. I would much rather a hand-picked bunch of flowers than a shop bought one, I’d rather a batch of home-made cupcakes than a box of chocolates – I love jewellery and pretty things, but I much prefer presents that are better thought out.

So when I saw heart shaped pastries on Pinterest, I started to think about what else I could make into heart shapes. Y’know, because baked goods + festive shaping = ultimate gift.

Ask anybody, it’s a well-known fact. Continue reading “Raspberry scrolls and hearts”

Speedy Portuguese tarts and perfection

tartsI love a good Portuguese tart, but I can never recreate them authentically in the kitchen. I feel that the Portuguese do a much better job of them than I do, why challenge perfection?

I went to a Portuguese festival earlier on in the year and I fell even deeper in love with the little pastry treats. I instagrammed them too, look!  Instead of trying to recreate them in all their custardy glory, I make a quick version to tide me over until my next trip to a Portuguese bakery. Continue reading “Speedy Portuguese tarts and perfection”

Yoghurt Berry cake and cooking credentials

You may be reading this blog wondering what credentials I have to be advising people about their cooking (valid question) – the answer is: none. I have no formal culinary qualifications, I just love it. I’m a strong believer in doing what you love – I love writing, pretty things and cooking, so writing a cooking blog seemed like a sensible choice.

flowersWhen I say cooking, I mainly mean baking. I have a near insatiable sweet-tooth, so I gravitate towards cooking things which are sweet (and often visually pleasing!) I will try to blog about savoury dishes as well, but I can’t promise they’ll be exciting – nobody gets excited over spag bol!

Cooking (baking especially) should make you happy. If it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong. There are always going to be times when you can’t fathom getting home from work/uni/whatever else you do to slave over an oven, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Find recipes that excite you. Experiment. Make something up! You don’t have to be a professional to make something amazing.

Not everyone gets as excited about cooking as I do, but I like to think that they have it within them somewhere.

A friend of mine loves coming to my house because there are always left overs. She goes crazy over a simple chocolate slice or mashed potato, but refuses to believe that she can replicate them in her house.  She can. I’m going to make her understand this even if it pains me! You can cook as well.

This recipe is super simple and works warm or cold. It’s great for entertaining – it’s quick to make and it makes people happy! It works with most fruits as well. If you don’t have fresh berries, use frozen ones. Nectarines cut into wedges look really effective if you use a lamington tin instead of round cake tin.

sliceSuper simple Berry Yoghurt Cake

  • 125g butter
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 3/4 cup vanilla yoghurt
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Icing sugar, to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced. Grease a 23cm round cake tin.

Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

mixtureAdd eggs, beating to combine. Mix in your plain flour, then the yoghurt. If you only have greek yoghurt in the fridge (like I did), add a teaspoon of vanilla to the mixture as well. Add the self-raising flour and mix until combined. This is quite a thick mixture, don’t worry if it’s a little hard to mix. Spread mixture into your greased cake tin.

tinThe cake tin I’m using has been well-loved. It has held many of my mother dearest’s crème caramels and cakes. As a result, it’s a little worn (that’s being polite) and has a tendency to cling onto cakes when you want to remove them. To combat this I simply trace the base of the tin onto baking paper, cut the round out and place it over the greased base. Problem solved.

frozen berriespressPress a few berries gently into the mixture, but sprinkle most of them across the top of it and then pat them down gently with your hand. If your oven is prone to over-browning things, cover the cake with tin foil two thirds of the way through cooking.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

cake
Remove from oven and let it stand for ten minutes before serving. Sprinkle with icing sugar and add a dollop of cream or yoghurt to finish.

off centreDon’t worry if you take this cake out a little too soon, my favourite part of any cake is the squidgy bit right in the centre where the heat hasn’t completely cooked the mixture. I’m a sucker for cake mixture, and the centre of this cake is glorious!

trio

 

 

 

 

Your finished product should look even better than mine because I foolishly used 2 cups of plain flour instead of one plain and one self raising. It should look more like this (I instagrammed this cake when I made it about a month ago.) We all make mistakes!

 

 

 

Melting moments and surprises

I always thought that melting moments would be super tricky to make. It wasn’t until late last year that I came to realise just how easy they are. And I was pleasantly surprised! This recipe produces beautiful, soft little biscuits which (as the name suggests) melt away in your mouth.

Mid-way through making these alabaster beauties the front door-bell was rung quite fiercely. I broke away from rolling the dough IMG_4799and answered the door, doughy-handed. I’ll cut out the boring bits (like polite chatter with the mailman and the unwrapping) and tell you that in the big box that arrived with the mailman came my very own KitchenAid mixer. For whatever reason, the Boy took it upon himself to surprise me with it! I’m amazingly grateful… and super keen to use it!!

Norman partook in the celebrations by attempting to eat the little packaging puffs. Then he spat them out, then tried to eat them
again. He ended up in the box full of them and made himself quite comfy!

I won’t gush any further, but it will hopefully feature in upcoming blogs. It’s so beautiful I could die!

I’m hoping it will also improve the quality of my baking (especially meringues, which are the bane of my life!)

Biscuits:

plate

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/3 cup cornflour

Filling:

  • 60g butter, softened
  • 1 passionfruit
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups icing sugar

MixPreheat oven to 160°C and line a large tray with baking paper. If your baking paper is disobedient, dab a few spots of butter in the corners of the tray and use that to keep the baking paper down.

Cream butter, vanilla and icing sugar together until smooth and creamy – it should change in colour
slightly. Sift the flours into the butter mixture and mix until you get a soft dough. When you scoop a spoonful out of the mixture it should look like ice cream – solid, but soft at the same time.

Measure out heaped teaspoonfuls of mixture and roll them into small balls, lining them up on the baking paper as you go. Don’t worry if the balls aren’t perfect, they’ll smooth out even further when they’re in the oven. icecream

press 1When you have a tray full of soft doughy spheres, grab a fork and use it to lightly flatten them, pressing a pattern into them as you go. To avoid messing up the pattern or the smooth dough, pull the fork out towards you after you’ve pressed them down.
icingBake for 15 minutes and make the passionfruit filling while they’re in the oven. Beat the butter and icing sugar together, then mix in the passionfruit pulp. Take the biscuits out of the oven and transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool. Even if they don’t look done after 15 minutes, they are – you don’t want them to brown like you generally would a biscuit, these biccies are beautiful and pale. Once the biscuits are cool spread a teaspoon of passionfruit filling onto one biscuit and sandwich it with a second.

You can substitute the passionfruit for any other fruit of your choosing. Experiment – let me know what filling you use!

You should get about 28 individual biscuits, which will make 14 melting moments. You might want to double this recipe though, they don’t last long! passionfruit