Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Peach, Basil, Ricotta and Honey Cake

When someone said count your blessings now
For they're long gone
I guess I just didn't know how
I was all wrong
                                                   Who Knew - Pink

How are you all this Tuesday morning? Today is usually Tuesday with Dorie, but as there are five Tuesdays in March, I have a free Tuesday to post whatever I like.

I love a cake with unusual ingredients, and Jordan Rondel, a New Zealand born cake genius, publishes lots of brilliant recipes featuring different to usual flavour combinations.  Before the world as we know it changed forever, I made Jordan's Peach, Basil, Ricotta and Honey Cake and took it to share with my work colleagues.  You can find the recipe online here.

This cake has a richness from the ricotta, sweetness from the peaches and honey (which is brushed on top of the warm cake rather than being in it), and an unusual but delicious twist from the basil.  It is also a very pretty cake (though I left off the fresh basil leaves that Jordan used to decorate the top of the cake, as I am sure no-one I know would have dug that.)

You can see from the photos of the interior of the cake that it is really smooth and creamy and dense from the ricotta:

There are still lots of beautiful peaches around in Australia right now, so I highly recommend making this lovely cake before peach season is over.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

TWD - Nutella-Banana Panna Cotta

Last night, my external-to-work choir had practice via live streaming on Facebook.  I was not certain it would work, but it did, and it was marvellous. It lifted my spirits and is the most joyous thing I have done for a while. Singing and baking are my refuge and joy in these troubled times, so despite having no-one to share my baking with for now, I hope to minify recipes and bake on.

This week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Nutella-Banana Panna Cotta.  I was skeptical as to whether the banana flavour would come through, but it did.

The finished dessert was smooth and silky and delicious:

It was like a chocolate banana mousse.

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

Monday, March 23, 2020

Bacon and Egg Pie

Rosina goes to market everyday ...

For a while last week, I felt like Rosina, going to market every day to try and buy what I needed from the supermarket. To the credit of the supermarkets, I was eventually able to buy everything I needed but one, and that one thing I can live without.

Australia is implementing phase one lock down to stop non-essential travel.  Many state borders are locked down from tonight. It is a very uncertain time.

Baking is dear to my heart. It makes me happy. I also love sharing my baking with my colleagues, but that is not possible right now. However, I intend to bake on, albeit in a more limited way.

I decided to make my Mum’s Bacon and Egg Pie on the weekend. I have made it once before in a different form. You can find the recipe here.

The changes that I made from the published recipe are as follows:

1. Instead of filo for the crust, I mixed 1 cup of VitaWheat biscuit crumbs with 60g of melted butter and pressed the mixture into the base of an 8” pie pan, and chilled it while I made the filling.

2.  I swapped the ham for 2 large bacon rashers which I chopped into small pieces and fried with a chopped onion before adding to the filling.

3. I chopped up half a fresh tomato and added it to the filling.

This pie is delicious served with salad or cooked greens.


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

TWD - Garam Grahams

This week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Garam Grahams. I was pleased as I already had all of the ingredients.  These biscuits are savoury Graham Crackers flavoured with garam marsala.

I made only a quarter of the recipe, which is just as well as that is all the garam marsala I had left.

I was pleasantly surprised by these biscuits - they are utterly delicious, with a mildly spiced earthy wheaten flavour.

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

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Cherry Pie for Pi Day

Today is Pi Day (3/14 in US date format), being the first three digits of the mathematical value, Pi. I finally remembered to make a pie for the occasion, joining in all the online fun.

I decided to make a cherry pie using some fresh frozen cherries I had. This pie was not the most successful pie I have ever made, as the filling was quite runny (the recipe insisted on 3 cups of liquid):

However, it tasted pretty good anyway, despite resembling a pie that had been run over by a car once I cut into it:

I will publish  the recipe for completeness (someone gave it to me from a photocopy), and you can decide for yourself whether to reduce the liquid (I recommend doing so because it was very runny):

Pie crust

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup Crisco
1/4 cup ice water

Mix the flour and Crisco together with a pastry cutter until it looks like small peas. Add the water and bring the mixture together with your hands.  Roll the dough into a ball, divide it in two, and roll each ball out with a rolling pin between 2 sheets of baking paper until it is large enough to line an 8” pie tin.  Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.


3 cups fresh frozen cherries, thawed and juice retained
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup water
4 tablespoons cornflour

Pit the cherries and drain the juice out of them into a bowl. The recipe says this should yield 2 cups of juice - I only got 1 cup.  Add the water to the juice to make up to 3 cups of liquid (which I believe is way too much).

Take 1 cup of cherry juice mixture and whisk in the cornflour.

Put the remaining 2 cups of juice, 2/3 cup of the sugar and the salt into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil.  Add the remaining 1 cup of juice, and cook the liquid until it becomes clear and thickens slightly.  Add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and mix to combine.

Place the drained cherries into a bowl and pour over the liquid, and stir to blend. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally  to avoid scum forming on top.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Line a greased 8” pie tin with one sheet of pastry. Pour the cherry mixture into the pastry crust. With the remaining sheet of pastry, form a lattice crust on top the cherry mixture. Brush the top of the lattice crust with a beaten egg.

Bake the pie in the oven for 35-40 minutes then remove from the oven. Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack to room temperature before serving.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Best Ever Chocolate Cake for Queen Baking Club

For one of the Queen Baking Club challenges, our challenge recipe was Best Ever Chocolate Cake from this Queen recipe

As someone said on the Facebook site, this chocolate cake is so wonderfully chocolatey and rich, it could well be the Bruce Bogtrotter cake.

The recipe tells you how to convert it to cupcakes if you prefer.  I only made a half recipe as it was quite a big cake.

I think the photos speak for themselves.  Enjoy making this easy but delicious chocolate cake from Queen Fine Foods!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

TWD - Coco Rochers

This week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Coco Rochers - or in common parlance, coconut macaroons. They contain just four ingredients - egg whites, sugar, shredded coconut and vanilla extract.

The dough is made by heating all of the ingredients but the vanilla until the mixture is hot to touch, then mixing in the vanilla and chilling the mixture for a few hours.  When ready to bake, take the dough and scoop it, roll it into balls or shape it into little pyramids (the latter of which I did, because why not!).  The macaroons are then baked until they are just golden on the outside and firm to the touch.

I liked these macaroons - they are rather sweet so one or two is enough, but good. They are crispy on the outside and chewy and soft in the middle.

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

Monday, March 9, 2020

Ottolenghi's Spiced Shepherd's Pie with Butterbean Crust

I own a copy of Ottolenghi's Simple, and have baked numerous terrific sweet dishes from that book.  However, I thought it was time to try some of the savoury dishes.  I started with the Spiced Shepherd's Lamb Pie with Butterbean Crust.  If you don't own Simple, Ottolenghi has published the recipe in The Guardian here

Traditionally, Shepherd's Pie has a mashed potato crust, so I found the idea of a mashed butterbean crust quite intriguing. Tahini is mixed through the butterbeans to give a lovely nutty flavour.

I also mixed things up by using pork mince instead of lamb mince. 

The mince filling contains green olives and dried apricots, giving the pie an exotic, tagine-like flavour.

I served my Shepherd's Pie with boiled beans and carrots that had a tablespoon of carrots mixed through.  It was a wonderful feast for a cool evening.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Walnut, Apple, Carrot and Honey Cake (aka Canberra Cake)

The Canberra Cake is so called because it is made with ingredients sourced from the Canberra region of Australia.  If the truth  be told, I did not source my ingredients from Canberra, so I will call my cake Walnut, Apple, Carrot and Honey Cake - or even more plainly, Carrot Cake.  This recipe was emailed to me by a friend.

It is quite a delicious cake, especially if you love cream cheese frosting!

To make this cake, you will need:

250g walnuts, roughly chopped
250g apples, peeled, cored and diced
3 carrots, grated
300g plain flour
250g honey
4 eggs
200ml olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius and grease and line a 24cm springform pan.

Sift the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl.

Whisk the eggs, honey and olive oil together in a jug.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a spoon to combine.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake in the preheated oven for one hour or until cooked through.

Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack in the pan for around 15 minutes before unmoulding onto the wire rack to cool completely.

For the icing, beat together 125g softened cream cheese, 2 tablespoons sifted icing sugar and 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional).  If the icing is too loose, add more icing sugar.  Once the icing is of a spreadable consistency, spread it evenly over the top of the cake using a metal spatula, and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

Slice and serve. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Plum and Custard Streusel Cake

While I was staying with my mother over the Christmas/New Year period, we found ourselves with a glut of plums that needed to be used.  My immediate thought was plum cake!  The only question was which recipe I would choose.

I settled on this  Plum and Custard Streusel Cake - because who doesn't like custard and streusel?  I left out the slivered almonds from the cake, as I did not have any.  I also substituted fresh plums for the canned plums, given that the whole point of making the cake was to use up the plums in the fridge.

My finished cake may not have been as pretty as the photo in the recipe, but boy it tasted good:

If you would like to try this luscious cake, you will need:

8 whole plums, stoned and halved (fresh or canned)
200g softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup milk
25g chilled chopped butter


2 tablespoons custard powder
2 cups milk


1/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup crumbed walnuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the custard:

Blend the custard powder with a small amount of the milk in a small saucepan to make a paste.  Over a gentle heat, add the remaining milk, and stir until the custard heats and thickens but does not boil.  Remove the custard from the heat and cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

For the streusel:

Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and stir well to combine.

For the cake:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and grease and line a 23cm round springform pan.

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together for 5 minutes until pale and creamy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Beat in the flour and milk alternately in two tranches.  Spread half of the cake batter over the base of the springform pan.  Sprinkle half of the streusel mix over the cake.  Dollop the custard evenly over the streusel, and spread out evenly to cover the streusel.   Arrange the plum halves over the top of the custard.  Spread the remainder of the cake batter evenly over the top of the cake to cover the plums. 

Add the remaining flour and butter to the remaining streusel mix, and rub together with your fingertips to form crumbs.  Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top of the cake, and bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before unmoulding, right side up, from the tin onto a wire rack, and allowing the cake to cool completely. 

Serve as is or with cream or icecream.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

TWD - Almond Crescents

This week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe is Almond Cresents. I thought it was quite appropriate because it was the Greek Festival here in Melbourne on the weekend (and these are classic Greek cookies).

These were simple to make and very tasty. There is no chilling or cutting - just roll pieces of dough into sausages, shape them into crescents and bake. I am not a fan of the bought ones, but this home made version of Almond Crescents is a winner. Perfect for Christmas too.

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

Sunday, March 1, 2020

The Old Fitzroy, Woolloomooloo

Hidden in a back street of Woolloomooloo is a pub in the grand old tradition of Australian pubs, the Old Fitzroy.  

The pub was first established in 1860, and now serves "pub grub" at its finest.  As well as the pub, there is a theatre at the side.

The interior of the downstairs section of the pub crosses Aussie pub with genteel additions like chandeliers:

Upstairs, the pub has been transformed to resemble an English hunting lodge: 

I ordered the rissole sandwich with beetroot, cheddar and fries ($19):

You just say the word "beetroot" and I am there, and who can resist a rissole - just ask Darryl Kerrigan. This sandwich lived up to its ingredients - a juicy rissole with even juicier beetroot and cheese, served in toasted bread with shoestring fries on the side. I washed it down with a beer, which was the perfect beverage to have with this sandwich.  This sandwich was fabulous - it's a shame The Old Fitzroy is so far away, otherwise I'd be back for this every single time.

They also serve great English pub grub like pork pies, Scotch eggs and terrine.

The Old Fitzroy can be a little hard to find, tucked away as it from the main drag, but it is worth seeking out, especially for those who love the good old Aussie pub of yesteryear, with no beer garden in sight. 

129 Dowling St
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011
Ph: 02 9356 3848