Sunday, April 29, 2018

Blueberry, Orange and Poppyseed Cake

I am a fan of the recipes by Jordan Rondel, a talented New Zealand baker with a shop called The Caker.  On recently, Jordan published a recipe for a Blackcurrant, Orange and Poppyseed Cake.  I am yet to see blackcurrants in the shops here, but I thought blueberries would make  a worthy substitute in this delicious sounding cake.

The cake comprsies two layers, dotted with poppyseeds and fruit, then sandwiched together and frosted with cream cheese frosting flavoured with marmalade.  Jordan just used straight cream cheese to cover her cakes, but I prefer cream cheese frosting.  

The resulting cake is pretty, moist and flavourful - an absolute winner for me.

The recipe (with a few tweaks by me) is as follows:

150g butter
150g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
150g plain flour
50g almond meal
20g poppy seeds
2 tsp baking powder
¼ cup sour cream
Zest and juice of an orange
150g fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat your oven to 180C, and grease and line 2 x 22cm round cake tins.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, ensuring that each egg is beaten in well before adding the next. Add in the flour, almonds, poppy seeds and baking powder and mix on low speed until just combined. Add the sour cream and orange zest and juice, and again beat until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the 2 prepared cake tins and press the blueberries on top of each cake, dividing them evenly.
Bake the cakes in the oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through, rotating the cakes front to back at half time.
Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before unmoulding onto a wire rack to cool completely.
To sandwich them cakes together and ice them, I doubled this cream cheese frosting recipe and added a tablespoon of marmalade to the frosting to give it an orange flavour, like Jordan's cream cheese.
Slice and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Anzac Pear and Ginger Loaf

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Laurence Binyon, For the Fallen

Today is Anzac Day in Australia, when we pay our respects to Australian soldiers from all the wars in which Australia has been involved.  You can read more about Anzac Day here.

As I have previously mentioned, my state primary school did an excellent job of teaching us about the significance of Anzac Day and ensuring that the students commemorated it.  Funds were raised for the returned service people through sales of little navy and silver lapel ribbons, the Last Post was played at a special assembly, and the choir sang songs about Australian soldiers. 

Anzac Day in Australia is also traditionally marked by the Anzac biscuit, which has become the official food of Anzac Day.  I understand that the version of Anzac biscuits eaten by the troops was  rather less tasty than the one we enjoy today, but they have become an important symbol of Anzac Day nonetheless.

This year, instead of Anzac biscuits, I decided to make Lorraine's Anzac Pear and Ginger Loaf.

This loaf really is like a sweet Anzac biscuit in loaf form.  The batter presses rather than pours into the tin, and the resulting loaf has a dense quality.  Be careful with the cake while it is warm, as it can be a little fragile where the pears are dotted into the mixture.

The cake tastes best served warm, when it is still a little crumbly and doesn't necessarily cut into neat slices yet.  The ginger adds a touch of zing and the pears add moistness and sweetness to the loaf.  I think I might like it best without the icing, as I don't handle a lot of sweetness very well anymore.

To all my fellow Australians, wishing you a blessed Anzac Day. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

TWD - Viennese Sables

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Viennese Sables.  I was a little hesitant, as Dorie's friend had described these biscuits as tasting like the Danish butter cookies that you get at Christmas - which I find to be pretty tasteless.   However, these lovely little buttery biscuits were not like that at all - they were buttery and crisp and golden.

The recipe said that it made 24 biscuits.  I am not sure how Dorie managed to get that many, as my biscuits were not very big and I only managed to get 11 out of the dough. 

One of my piping bags ended up being collateral damage as it burst its seams when I tried to pipe the biscuits.  I did struggle a little getting the dough to pipe - it was fairly robust.  However, I am happy with the end result.

These are the kind of elegant little cookies that I envisage nibbling over tea with finely dressed ladies at a garden party or such like.  However, I think you'd have to increase the recipe a fair bit to make enough of them for a party.

To see what the other Dorie bakers made this week, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.  

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Blossom Thai, South Yarra

Friday night is often restaurant night for me.  I like to try different places as well as the old favourites.  One Friday night, we were going to the movies at Palace Como to see The Post, so it made sense to find a place to eat in South Yarra, near the cinema.

I found Blossom Thai in Toorak Road (just across the road from the cinema) by some Web searching.  When the booking was made, Tim also handily found that we had a discount voucher for Blossom Thai in our Entertainment Book (bonus!).

The interior of Blossom Thai is typical of Thai restaurants - heavy wood furniture punctuated by Asian style artwork with lots of gold:

Our host made a number of recommendations from the menu based on what is popular, so we largely went with those recommendations.  (After all, the host should know what is good!)

We started with the Potato Prawns ($9.90), pictured at the top of this post.   These tasted as good as they look.  The Potato Prawns are prawns wrapped in potato strings, then deep fried and served with sweet chilli dipping sauce - so good.

The prawns tied with our first shared main, Soft Shell Crab Curry ($24.90), as my equal favourite dishes:

In the photo, this curry doesn't look much, but there are actually two whole crabs (one each) in the curry.  The crabs are fried, and served with vegetables in a yellow curry sauce.  This was just devine.

Our second shared main was good, but did not reach the giddy heights in my estimation of the other two dishes.  It was a nightly special, being a barramundi fillet cooked in coconut milk, coated with a coconut crumb, and wrapped in a banana leaf:  

While not bad, it didn't have the wonderful depth of flavour of the curry, so we did not enjoy it as much.

For dessert, we ordered the very un-Thai like sticky date pudding ($12.90), because we both love it and our host talked up his house-made butterscotch sauce:   

Whilst not traditional, we enjoyed it very much, and our host could be deservedly proud of the sauce.

I enjoyed my meal at Blossom Thai and would happily go again.

Blossom Thai
278 Toorak Rd
South Yarra VIC 3141Ph: (03) 9827 8599

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Banana, Coffee and Cardamom Bundt Cake

I am watching Season 2 of Victoria with Jenna Coleman at the moment.  I am loving every second of it, especially the gorgeous costumes and the utterly devine Tom Hughes as Prince Albert.  I last caught up with Jenna as Clara Oswald in Doctor Who, and with Tom as Martha Costello's pupil in the first season of Silk, so this series is quite a different pace for these two actors. 

In parallel, I have restarted reading Julia Baird's excellent biography of Victoria: The Queen, which I had put down over 12 months ago due to life's distractions and the lack of portability of this weighty tome.   The most intriguing element for me about Victoria's life was the constant tensions between her desire to retain power as Queen versus the expectations of society (not to mention her husband) placed on her as wife and mother.  She was certainly a strong woman who overcame many obstacles while dealing with these tensions to maintain her hold on power.

Victoria has absolutely nothing to do with this delightful Banana, Cardamom and Coffee Cake by Helen Goh, other than that I am sure that Victoria would have enjoyed it, given her lust for food (and life in general).  The recipe came from last weekend's The Age Good Weekend magazine (p35). 

This cake is described by Helen as a banoffee pie in cake form.  I am not sure that this cake reminded me of the gorgeous, soft, toothsome caramel mouthfuls that you have with banoffee pie; however, this cake is absolutely delicious in its own right.  It disappeared at work in record time; and there I was wondering if people would like it because of the sticky coffee flavoured caramel pooled on the plate.    

You will be pleased to know that the recipe for this cake is widely publicly available on the Web here.  There is nothing hard about making this cake.  Just be careful, as always, when making the caramel, as it has a hissy fit when you add the cream and coffee.  Burning yourself with hot caramel would take the gloss off the experience.

If you like banana cake and caramel, you will love this moist, tender cake with its lashings of coffee caramel. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Pulled Pork Rolls with Fennel & Apple Slaw - Red Tractor April

It's time for this month's Red Tractor calendar recipe, which is Pulled Pork Rolls with Fennel & Apple Slaw.

Before we get started, this is April's calendar quote:

I am not sure that this always holds true, but certainly I can thank my Mum for a good solid start in life and ongoing support.

I did not use the calendar recipe for the pork; instead, I used this slow cooker recipe from 

I agree with the comments on the recipe that the spice content could have been upped a bit, but in the end, it was ok and fit for purpose.

Here is my assembled roll (open roll is featured at the top of the post to showcase the slaw):

Once you have your pulled pork, you will need the following to make up the rolls:

1 thinly sliced fennel bulb, retain fronds
2 tablespoons parsley leaves (I skipped it)
1 pink lady apple, skin on, quartered and thinly sliced (or any red apple)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
1/4 cup aioli (or 1/4 cup mayo with a squirt of garlic paste mixed in) 
6 crusty bread roll, split
3-4 cups pulled pork

Toss, the fennel, fronds, parsley, apple slices, olive oil, sugar and juice together.  Season with salt and pepper and stand for 5 minutes.

Mix the aioli and mustard together and spread on the bread rolls.

Top each roll with a handful of pulled pork and slaw (and crispy pork skin if you have any - mine was chewy sadly). 

I liked the aioli and mustard spread and would do that again.  I also quite liked the slaw.  However, there seemed to be a lot of pork, so I might cheat if I made these again and use sliced pork from the deli or some alternative.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

TWD - Mocha ricotta puffs

This week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Mocha Ricotta Puffs.  These are chocolate and coffee flavoured biscuits containing ricotta for smoothness.

The dough is quite sticky and dense, which made the cookies a little challenging to release from the cookie scoop.  I dipped the scoop in water every second cookie or so to help me to remove the dough from the scoop.

I made a full recipe and took them into work, where they promptly disappeared.  I thought they were good, and not dissimilar to a cakey brownie in taste and texture.

To see what everyone else made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

TWD - Apple Matafan

For Tuesday with Dorie this week, I made Apple Matafan.  This is a chunky, cakey, apple-packed pancake made entirely in a skillet on the stovetop.  It is sprinkled with icing sugar and optionally, drizzled with maple syrup (of course).

I made one third of the recipe, enough for two.  Here's a peek inside:

It was delicious served warm, though I thought it definitely needed the maple syrup for moisture.  A word of warning - it is also very filling.  Don't be suckered into a double helping unless you are really hungry.

To see what the other Dorie bakers made this week, visit the LYL section of the TWD website

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Baked Doughnuts with Citrus Curd

If you are a fan of doughnuts but deep frying makes you go cold, baked doughnuts could be the answer for you.  Honey & Co The Baking Book features a recipe for Baked Doughnuts filled with Lemon and Lime Curd that doesn't even require a special pan or a doughnut cutter - you just roll a butter rich dough into balls, bake them, coat them in butter and citrus sugar, and fill them with citrus curd.

Don't they look great:

Be careful though - they are very rich and buttery and sugary, so in the future, I would make them half the size.

I used Dorie's Citrus Curd to fill the doughnuts  rather than making the Honey & Co lemon and lime curd.

Tempted?  The recipe (with a few modifications by me) is as follows:


3 eggs
1 x 7g sachet dried yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
300g white bread flour
25ml milk
125g diced cold butter


Citrus curd 

Put all the dough ingredients except the butter in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and combine at low speed.  Once the dough forms a ball, add the butter, a little at a time, until it is all combined into the dough.  Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

Take the chilled dough and divide it into 8 even sized pieces (~ 80g each).  Roll each piece into a ball on a floured surface, and place on a baking tray (about 5 cm apart).  Allow the balls to rise to double their original size.  (Mine took ages - well over an hour.)

Heat your oven to 230 degrees Celsius.  Bake the risen doughnuts in the oven for 8-10 minutes, by which time they should be golden brown on the outside. 

While the doughnuts are baking, melt 160g butter.

In another bowl, combine 100g sugar with the zest of a lime and rub the zest into the sugar until fragrant. (I used the zest of half a lemon instead.)

Remove the doughnuts from the oven and allow to stand for 4 minutes.  Using tongs, dip the doughnuts, one at a time, into the melted butter, then roll in the sugar.  All of the butter should be soaked up by the 8 doughnuts.  Be careful when handling the warm doughnuts, as they are quite fragile.

Pipe citrus curd into the doughnuts using a piping bag fitted with a long tip, inserted into the top of each doughnut.

Preferably serve warm on the day they are made.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Crispy Beef & Shiitake Noodles

Today is a significant day in history, at least for some famous musical (or musically associated) people that interest me.  First up, it is the lovely Jane Asher's 72nd birthday.  If I had the time, I would have baked one of Jane's cakes from Beautiful Baking.  Jane used to own a shop called Jane Asher Party Cakes and Sugarcraft in Chelsea, which I visited way back in 2006.  Jane is multi-talented - she is also a famous actress (from the original Alfie among many other things dating back to her childhood), and even wrote a fancy dress costume book back in the 1980s that featured a young Emilia Fox as one of the models.  Jane was also famously Paul McCartney's girlfriend (and at one stage, fiancĂ©) during the 1960s.   

It is also Agnetha Faltskog's 68th birthday.  Agnetha is, of course, the blonde bombshell from ABBA, the 1970s supergroup.   I grew up on a steady diet of ABBA, and I vaguely remember having ABBA socks (being way too young to attend their concerts or buy their albums).  I still love watching ABBA videos and singing along to their music.

And also on this day, on a much more sobering note, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana ended his own life.  It is not an event I would have remembered being today, but I was reminded of the fact when watching the Smells Like Teen Spirit video on YouTube and seeing the comments. It's funny how I thought of that song today.

These things have nothing to do with today's recipe, but I thought it would be remiss of me to let the day go by without mentioning these famous people who have impacted me in one way or another.

The recipe is for Crispy Beef and Shiitake Noodles, from p37 of the March 2018 edition of Taste magazine. I love a stir fry, and this one has strong Asian flavours that are sure to please stir fry fans.

To make it, you will need:

450g fresh hokkien noodles
2 teaspoons sesame oil
200g halved shiitake mushrooms
3 crushed cloves garlic
450g beef, cut into strips
3 teaspoons ginger paste (I just used crushed ginger from the tube)
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1/4 cup cornflour
1/4 cup peanut oil (I just used olive oil)
200g bunch broccolini, halved lengthways
100g baby spinach
1/4 cup oyster sauce
toasted sesame seeds and sliced fresh red chilli for serving

Prepare the noodles if you want to according to the packet (I never bother).

Heat the sesame oil in a wok and add the mushrooms. Cook for 2-3 minutes until softened.  Add half the garlic and stir fry til golden.  Transfer to a bowl.

Combine the beef, ginger, five spice, wine and the rest of the garlic in a bowl.  Transfer to a plastic bag, add the cornflour and shake to coat.

Heat the peanut oil in the wok, and cook the beef in three batches.  Transfer each batch to a plate once cooked.

Add the broccolini to the wok and cook over medium high heat until tender crisp.  Add the noodles and cook for 2 minutes, then add the spinach and cook until wilted.  Return the mushrooms and beef to the pan, add the oyster sauce and toss to coat.

Serve sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and chilli. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

TWD - Kamish (Mandelbrot)

Today's Tuesday with Dorie recipe is a recipe for Mandelbrot that was nicknamed "kamish" by its creator.  "Mandelbrot" literally means "almond bread", and this one has big chunks of almond in it.  Other flavours include vanilla, cinnamon and coconut.

Mandelbrot are a little like biscotti, in that they are baked then cut and baked again on each of the cut sides.  In between bakes, the cookies are coated with a mixture of coconut, cinnamon and sugar.

These cookies are crumbly to cut into pieces after the first bake, but if you use the right knife and have patience, they turn out mostly OK.  And the crumbly bits are delicious to eat as is!!

To see what the other Dorie bakers made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.