I’ve got heaps of friends who are vegetarian. I love them for their dedication to the cause and often join them in devouring delicious vego meals. I’ve got a couple of vegan friends (and have even made a sumptuous raw vegan dessert before) and I really admire them for their efforts. It’s not easy being vegan – in my research for this cake I found out that some sugars (apparently mostly in America) are processed with animal bones. I read that some baking paper isn’t vegan-friendly. I also learned that some apple juice is clarified using fish bladders.
It’s not very often that one gets an offer of free figs. So when a very generous friend of mine messaged our group of friends offering free figs, everyone jumped at the chance. She even delivered them to our doorsteps!
Clearly she is a saint. If you’d like to see what this saint’s instagram looks like, click here. It’s full of beautiful photography and enviably delicious cooking dates with her Nonna. Continue reading “Vanilla, fig & honey cupcakes and fig deliveries”
Halloween is all about the creepy and unusual. These babies are in no way creepy (they’re mostly delicious) but they are unusual. I’m bucking the Halloween trend of faux blood and ghouls and doing my own bright and airy, Australian Halloween. Check out my non-spooky pumpkin bundt and choc-pumpkin cupcakes.
So, before you judge the combinations of flavours, have a think about the salted caramel craze. It’s huge. Salted caramel milkshakes, salted caramel sauces, salted caramel fudge, it’s everywhere. The beautiful mixture of salty and sweet just works. Continue reading “Vanilla caramel crisp cupcakes and unlikely combinations”
This rhubarb and vanilla jam is so speedy to whip up that you will wonder why your fridge is not filled with every single delicious home-made jam in the world. You can have it made in under 20 minutes! I tend to think that the less ingredients your jam has, the better, so with four ingredients, this rhubarb and vanilla delight is a winner.
I made it for Father’s Day because my dad is a bit of a rhubarb fiend. I have vivid childhood memories of him stewing it slopping it over ice cream. Slop is exactly the sound I recall it making as he scooped it from the pan into his dessert bowl.
Sorry dad, but it never looked appetising! The beautiful, vibrant colours would leech out of the stalks and into the water, leaving everything looking a bit anaemic.
It was only recently that I re-discovered rhubarb. I like it best when it’s complimented with sweetness, like in my rhubarb glazed doughnuts, or in a lovely syrup and served with porridge, like I had for brekkie the other day.
Vanilla rhubarb jam:
Makes one cup.
Grab a large, heavy-bottomed pan and put the water in first, this will stop the sugar from catching on the bottom of the pan and burning.
Add the rhubarb, vanilla paste and sugar. I used Heilala vanilla bean paste because it’s slightly more concentrated than vanilla extract. If you’re using regular vanilla extract, add a dash extra.
Stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved completely. You’ll notice the syrup start to turn a beautiful pinky-red colour.
Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up to medium-high and stir constantly for 12-14 minutes.
As you’re stirring press down with your wooden spoon to get rid of any big chunks of rhubarb. When the jam has thickened and most of the liquid has disappeared, it’s done.
This jam is delicious on toast, the vanilla gives it a mellow sweetness which makes it taste like rhubarb with custard!
I’ve been slow in getting recipes up recently because the oven at my rental place is unreliable. I love having my own kitchen to experiment in, but I don’t think it loves me back… not all the time, anyway!
So this recipe is basic, easy and nice. Because it is nice to be back. I find blogging such a great outlet – not having the opportunity to write posts because of lack of recipes to share saddens me somewhat.
Enough dwelling on negatives – let us focus on the nice things! I delighted over a gorgeous speckled egg amidst a collection of perfectly beige counterparts. The name of this cake came about because I had such a fun time icing it. I was aimlessly dabbing away at it when I realised (with a little giggle) that it had started to resemble a little hedgehog. Continue reading “Hedgehog sprinkle cake and niceness”
I never used to trust figs because they’re so squidgy and unusually coloured and lacking a core. It’s kind of funny, because those things now make them perfect fodder for my baking. They’re downright beautiful – I searched Pinterest for recipe inspiration and ended up “oohing” and “aahing” at how photogenic such an unassuming fruit could be.
They’re adorable little sacks of beauty.
Figs can be pretty expensive in Sydney, but I found a pack on special (yay!) I wanted to keep the figs as close to natural as possible and pick other flavours that would highlight their sweetness. Vanilla and blueberry make perfect partners in crime for fig.
The great thing about these tarts is that they are a perfect “grown up” option for Easter. If you’re not a big fan of chocolate eggs (I don’t understand you, but I do know you exist), a humble tart like this is a great alternative for an Easter treat. These little tarts are completely customisable – top them with whatever you want! I
Fig and blueberry tart
- 2 cups plain flour
- 135g butter
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp water
Vanilla crème patissiere
- 2 egg yolks
- 6 tbsp corn flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 cups milk
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
- 2 figs
- 100g blueberries
Rub together your plain flour and butter until they resemble bread crumbs. Add in the sugar and mix, then mix in the egg yolks. Make sure you mix thoroughly so that you don’t have mottled pastry. Add in the water, one tablespoon at a time – it may take slightly more or less than three tablespoons to achieve a cohesive dough.
Preheat your oven to 200°C and grab your dough from the fridge. Grease a 12 hole cupcake tin. Roll out your chilled dough to 4-5mm thickness and use a scone cutter to cute circles big enough to fit in the cupcake tin and create a small edge.
While the tarts are in the oven, make a start on the crème patissiere. Bring the milk, butter and vanilla to a boil in a medium saucepan. Make sure you stir the mixture constantly to avoid burning the milk. Once it’s come to a boil, turn off the heat and set the mixture to one side.
Mix the egg yolks with the sugar and cornflour in a large bowl until you have a thick paste. This mixture does the same job that store-bought custard powder does. Grab your hot milk and pour it into the egg mixture in small increments (this tempers the mixture and ensures that it won’t separate later, if you pour all the hot milk in at once, you risk burning or cooking the egg mixture), mixing well after each addition.
Once all of the milk is mixed in, you should have a warm, silky mixture. Pour it back into the milk pan and whisk it over a very low heat. Timing is crucial at this point, because you want to thicken the mixture. Whisking constantly to encourage air into the mixture, make sure you pay attention to the texture of the mixture – once the mixture reaches the consistency of soft serve ice cream, take it off the heat and keep whisking. If you leave it on the heat any longer, it will over-cook and start to look like scrambled eggs!* The residual heat in the mixture will cook the crème patissiere further, so whisk for a good five minutes before spooning it into the tart cases.
Set in the fridge for ten minutes to cool, then top with whatever Easter-appropriate toppings you like, get creative. If you prefer Easter eggs or chocolate and blueberries on your tarts, try that instead – they’ll still look great and taste delicious!
*If you do happen to over-cook the mixture, add a generous dash cold milk and whisk into the mixture until you achieve a smooth crème patissiere.
Completely unrelated to figs or tarts, here is a gratuitous photo of Norman napping. He got so impatient of waiting for the crumbs as I baked the pastry shells that he snuck up onto the lounge and had a sneak sleep.
Australians don’t really embrace Halloween. I grew up thinking that it was a really “American” thing to do. I’m not making a comment on the origins of Halloween, or its potential pagan roots; I mean the commercialised, gore-loving, pumpkin-carving Halloween that is marketed to us every year.
As much as I think it’s a pretty weird occasion to celebrate, I do love an excuse to decorate cupcakes! I realised, however, that I’m no good at genuinely gruesome or scary things…my Halloween cupcakes are like a cutesy kind of gross. Like Frankenstein and the Powerpuff girls collaborated.
Or something like that. Continue reading “Angry owl cupcakes and Australian Halloween”
These lovely little muffins are gorgeous and packed with floral notes. They’re the perfect afternoon pick-me-up because they’re full of pears and they’ve not got too much butter or sugar in them; the sweetness in the mixture mainly comes from the vanilla bean and the earl grey tea. They’re also great because there is no wastage! You make use of the poaching liquid and the pear peel, so they’re super thrifty! Thriftiness is in at the moment, thank you Macklemore!
I bought my tea from a fabulous little tea supplier I stumbled upon at the Marricvkville organic markets, but you can use whatever type you want. The Ttotaler tea that I used is particularly special because it’s bursting with rose petals, which give the mixture a beautiful fragrance and a pop of colour as well. Continue reading “Earl grey poached pear muffins and thriftiness”
It’s the Boy’s birthday tomorrow. Every year I labour over what to buy him – whether he will like this gadget, or approve of that shirt. This year, I’ve gone for something different. He has far too many gadgets and says he doesn’t need any more shirts, so I’ve gone for something completely, outrageously odd. If I had to title it, I would call it “for the man who has everything.” I love it, so I hope he does too. Keep an eye on the blog, I may post pictures of it if he approves!
Being unemployed and slightly short of money, the majority of my present is going to come to him in the form of food. He wants a big salad for dinner and a sponge cake for his birthday cake.
I don’t love making sponge cakes, I find them temperamental and disobedient…he says he doesn’t mind if I don’t make a sponge though, he knows how much I enjoy making deliciously dense chocolate cakes! Continue reading “Chocolate melting moments and birthdays”
A few weekends ago, the boy and I went for breakfast together; yep, we’re pretty cute. Coupley cuteness aside, the café that we ate at had a whole wall of organic and interesting products. One such product that we found was Lyle’s golden syrup…he almost lost it! Being English, Lyle’s golden syrup has a special place in his heart. I don’t think it’s too different to normal golden syrup that we can get here, but the tin it comes in is so iconic and tempting that this simple sweetener has snuck its way into my good books as well. Continue reading “Golden syrup cupcakes and Englishness”