Monday, November 23, 2015

ginger pecan slice

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, pecan pie recipes started popping up all over the internet a few weeks ago and this recipe by Allison Kave attracted the most attention. It sounded nice but I didn't want to make pie. I thought a ginger flavoured pecan slice would be a nice option, that way I'd get the flavours of Thanksgiving without the bother of making pastry.

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I found a recipe for a coffee pecan slice in my copy of the Australian Women's Weekly Baking CollectionThe book was a subscription gift and until now, I've not made anything from it. I used the base from the recipe and adapted the filling to reflect the flavourings of the bourbon ginger pecan pie recipe.

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The slice is pretty simple to make - just a buttery shortbread base topped with a ginger flavoured pecan pie type filling. Instead of maple syrup I used golden syrup and used Bundaberg rum instead of bourbon. I am after all a girl from Brissie.

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Once the slice was cooked, I let it cool for a while so the base would harden.

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Once the slice was cold, I cut myself a piece and poured a nice cup of tea. 

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I sat down to enjoy my cup of tea with my ginger pecan square. The base isn't as crisp as I expected so next time I'd only use plain flour in the base. The ginger flavour develops over time so they're even nicer the day after baking.

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Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Ginger Pecan Slice (makes 24 pieces)
125 g (4 oz) butter, cut into cubes
¼ cup (55g)) caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (150 g) plain flour
¼ cup (38 g) self-raising flour, sifted

1½ tbs plain flour
cup (75g) brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tbs finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
pinch salt
2 eggs
½ cup golden syrup
60 g (2 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp rum (optional)
2 cups whole toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Grease and line base and sides of a 30cm x 20cm pan with baking paper. Ensure baking paper extends 2cm above rim of pan.

In a small bowl cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Sift the 2 flours together and add to the butter mixture in 2 batches. Press the mixture into base of prepared pan smoothing with back of a spoon. Bake for 12 minutes until just golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and let the base cool for 10 minutes. While the base is cooling, reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F and prepare the topping. 

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a small jug, combine the eggs with the remaining ingredients; gradually pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until smooth. Pour the topping over the base, and then arrange the pecans over the topping. Return to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes until the top has puffed and is golden. Remove the slice from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan, before using the paper to lift out onto a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve. 

The slice will keep for a week in an airtight container.

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As the recipe yields 24 pieces and I'm not a greedy piggy, I've put a few pieces aside for the cook (that would be me) and took some to my neighbours. The rest, I'll be sharing with my workmates.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekends after the sadness of last week. See you again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


Monday, November 16, 2015

pumpkin brulee tarts

Hi Every-one,

I normally use pumpkin in savoury dishes like pumpkin soup, roast pumpkin risotto or pumpkin and ricotta cannelloni. It's not Fall and we don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Sydney but with so many pumpkin flavoured desserts popping up all over the internet, I thought it was my turn to feature some 'pumpkiny' baking on the blog.

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Initially I planned to make pumpkin flavoured cream brulees but with a little leftover pastry in the freeze, I searched the internet for a pumpkin brulee tart recipe. I found this one by Anna Olson and set to work adapting it.

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With the pastry already made, all I needed to do was change the filling a little. Firstly I oven roasted a piece of pumpkin to make the puree; I cut the sugar in half because the butternut pumpkin puree was already quite sweet then I skipped the brandy because I don't have any in the house. I was going to use rum instead of the brandy but after making 2 Christmas cakes on Saturday, there wasn't any left. I used cream instead as the pumpkin mixture was quite thick and needed a little more liquid. I wanted the pumpkin tarts to taste more like pumpkin pie so I added a few extra spices to the filling.

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Here's the recipe for you, which should make eight 10 cm tarts. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Pumpkin Brulee Tarts, inspired by Anna Olson.

¼ cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
¼ cup almond meal
1¼ cups plain flour
110 gm (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
cold water

To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients in a food processor and whiz for a few seconds until well combined and free of lumps. Add the cold butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and a little cold water and whiz until a soft dough just starts to form around the blade.

Remove the dough from the food processor and gather the pastry into a ball; flatten slightly before wrapping in plastic and placing in the fridge. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface (I use greaseproof paper) and roll out thinly with a rolling pin.

Grease eight 10 cm tartlet tins. Cut out circles of pastry large enough to fit the tart shells. Line the tins with the pastry and trim the edges of the tart tins with a sharp knife. Lightly prick the pastry surface with the tines of a fork and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Line the tart shells with muffin liners and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tart shells are golden then remove paper and weights. Place the tart shells on a wire rack to cool.

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Pumpkin filling
180g (6 oz) cream cheese
½ cup packed brown sugar
6 egg yolks
¾ cup pumpkin puree
¾ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg and cloves
45 mls cream
Granulated sugar for bruleeing

Preheat oven to 160°C/325°F. Place the tart shells onto a baking tray.

In a jug, combine cream cheese and brown sugar with a stick blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend till smooth. Pour the filling through a sieve into a smaller jug then pour the filling into the tart shells.

Bake the tarts for 15 minutes or until the filling has set around the edges but still wobbles in the middle. Turn off the oven; leave the door ajar and leave the tarts in the oven for a further 5 minutes. Place the tarts on a wire rack to cool. Let the tarts come to room temperature before refrigerating for a few hours.

You can serve these as is but if you'd like to brulee the tarts, then sprinkle sugar on top of the tarts and use a blow torch (or place under a hot grill) to melt and caramelize the sugar. Serve immediately.

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The verdict - the crunchy, slightly burnt sugar topping elevates the delicious pumpkin pie filling to a new level. 

On a sadder note, my heart is heavy following the attacks on Paris last Friday. Paris is one of my favourite cities and the 10e is where I normally stay. 2015 has been a challenging year for me personally and it can't end quickly enough. Roll on 2016!


Monday, November 09, 2015

black bottom cake

Tomorrow, one of my workmates returns to work following a 6 week overseas holiday. We've really missed her, so to celebrate her return I've made a Black Bottom Cake inspired by a recipe for black bottom cupcakes in Belinda Jeffery's book, Mix and Bake.

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I didn't have much time to bake on Sunday, so I was looking for something that wouldn't take long to make. The recipe looked like it fitted the bill. The cake has 2 layers - a chocolate cake layer topped with a chocolate chip studded cream cheese layer. I had some leftover chocolate ganache from a cake I made last weekend so I decided to ice the cake making a 3 layer version. I've not had a black bottom cupcake before and I haven't had a piece of the cake yet, so I can't wait to try it.

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I put the cake into the fridge before topping it with the ganache layer. When I cut a piece of cake to photograph it looked pretty squidgy, which is always a good sign. 

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Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

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Black Bottom Cake
250g (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
⅓ cup dark chocolate chips

¾ cup plain flour
½ tsp baking (bicarb) soda
pinch salt
2 tbs cocoa powder
½ cup caster sugar
½ cup warm water
1 tsp espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tbs vegetable oil
½ tsp balsamic vinegar

Chocolate Ganache
30g (1 oz) unsalted butter, diced
50g (1 ¾dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp honey

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a 16 cm spring-form tin with baking paper.

To make the topping, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until thoroughly mixed in. Stir in the chocolate chips and put the bowl into the fridge while you make the cake.

To make the cake, sift the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa into a bowl. Stir in the caster sugar.

In another bowl, dissolve the espresso powder in the warm water. Mix in the vanilla extract, the oil and vinegar.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet mix and stir together until just mixed. Spoon the batter into the lined cake tin and level. Gently spoon the cheesecake layer over the cake mixture and place the tin in the preheated oven.

Bake the cake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the chocolate layer comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin and leave on a cake rack to cool completely.

If you’re going to ice the cake, place the cake in the fridge while you prepare the chocolate ganache.

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To make the ganache, put the butter in a heatproof bowl and place in the microwave. Cook on high for about 30 seconds or until the butter has melted. Add the chopped chocolate and honey to the hot butter and stir until all the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Let the chocolate stand for about 30 minutes until it thickens a little before pouring over the cooled cake. Allow the topping to set completely before serving.

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The cake is languishing in the fridge at work so I'll let edit the post tomorrow and let you know how it turns out. 

P.S. The cake received a big thumbs up at work. I specially liked the cheesecake topping.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.


Monday, November 02, 2015

lemon yoghurt cake

Do you ever feel as though you've come too late to the party? Well that's how I feel about lemon yoghurt cake. 

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When I was home in Brisbane last month I browsed through a back issue of Australian House and Garden and found a recipe for Lemon Yoghurt Cake by Simmone Logue. The cake takes about 5 minutes to make and the recipe looked almost too good to be true so I took a photo of the recipe and decided to make it once I was back home. 

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Just to make sure, I looked online and found a plethora (I've been looking for a way to use that word in a blog post for ever!) of recipes for lemon yoghurt cake and they all looked pretty much alike. I looked through the fridge and I had all the ingredients; I tweaked the proportions a bit and whipped this up last Sunday before the gym.

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I love all things lemony so I was keen to try a slice however I gave the cake to my neighbours as a thank-you gift. Sunday it was back into the kitchen to make the recipe again, this time as tea cakes.

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Here's the recipe for you, which makes a small bundt cake or 4 tea cakes. To make a large bundt cake, double the ingredients but bake for the same length of time. Tea cakes will take about 35 minutes. 

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For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Lemon Yoghurt Cake 

⅔ cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 tbl finely grated lemon rind (2 small lemons)
100 ml vegetable oil
1¼ cups self raising flour
Pinch salt
½ cup Greek yoghurt
⅓ cup lemon juice

Lemon drizzle icing
½ cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp melted butter
a little boiling water
Fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 180°C (conventional). Grease and flour a small bundt tin.

In a large bowl, combine the caster sugar, the egg and the grated lemon rind. Gradually add the oil and mix thoroughly.

Sift the flour with the pinch of salt and stir into the egg mixture in thirds, alternately with the yoghurt and the lemon juice. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes. The top should be golden and when tested, a skewer comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a rack.

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To make the icing, combine the sifted icing sugar with the lemon juice and the melted butter in a small bowl. Add a little boiling water to make a smooth icing. Drizzle the icing over the cake then decorate with fresh thyme leaves.

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I just ate half a tea cake with a cup of tea. The cake is quite tangy and not too sweet, so the icing is a must and the addition of the thyme leaves adds that little bit of something extra to the cake.

See you all again next weekend with some more baking from my kitchen,


Monday, October 26, 2015

shopshoot - weylandts

Hi Every-one,

last week I flew down to Melbourne to attend a food photography seminar at the Digital Imaging Show. While I was down there I also visited the David Bowie exhibition at the ACMI. It was amazing but there was so much content that the exhibition really deserved a much larger venue. The music accompanying the exhibition was great and I still have the song 'Life on Mars' on repeat in my head.

Have you ever been to Melbourne? I have family down there, so I've been a regular visitor since I was a little girl. When I was 14, I was considered old enough to fly down solo so I spent a few weeks of the school holidays with my friend Jenny and her family. Even at 14 I could appreciate that Melbourne was a shopping mecca and it still is today.

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So shopping was definitely on my to-do list while I was in town. Apart from prop shopping I was on the hunt for furniture for my living room and found my way to Weylandts in Abbotsford. I was looking for an armchair that I'd seen on-line.

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Weylandts is housed in a massive old warehouse a short walk from Collingwood Station. Apart from furniture and accessories, it houses a busy cafe, called The Kitchen by Weylandts. 

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The building is huge with soaring ceilings so it's the perfect canvas for large scale furniture and installations.

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A closer look at that amazing chandelier.

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Another corner of the building.

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I found some bold patterns.

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Interesting textures.

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This beautiful mirror which reminded me of the peacock cane bed head and chair that's in my old bedroom in Brisbane.

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Wall art featuring earthy tones and textures.

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A few little piggies

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and walls of accessories to provide those final finishing touches.

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I did eventually  track down the armchair but as I couldn't fit it into my carry on, I came home with a little something for the kitchen that will make it's d├ębut on the blog very soon.

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I hope you enjoyed my little visit to Weylandts. See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen,

Bye for now,


Monday, October 19, 2015

sour cherry amaretti

That biscuit tin of mine always needs replenishing. I was hunting through my favourite baking bibles last weekend looking for something quick and simple to make. These amaretti from Ottolenghi the Cookbook, fitted the bill. I checked the cupboards and all the ingredients were at hand so once I returned from the shops, I whipped up a batch. 

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I had some almond meal in the cupboard so instead of toasting whole almonds and grinding them into meal as Ottolenghi suggested, I toasted the almond meal. Once the almond meal was cool I went ahead and followed the recipe. An unexpected dinner invitation meant the first batch went to another home so I made another batch last Sunday. 

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The amaretti were delicious but I found the first batch were a little sticky and a bit too sweet. I tweaked the recipe a little and that's the recipe I'll be sharing with you. I also had some candied blood orange in the fridge so I chopped up a piece and added it to the mixture. If you want the original proportions, you can find them here. I've since made the ameretti without toasting the almond meal and honestly I didn't notice any difference.

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Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

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Sour Cherry Amaretti, adapted from Ottolenghi. Makes 24.
220g ground almonds
100g caster sugar
Grated zest of one lemon
Pinch of salt
60g dried sour cherries, roughly chopped
1 piece candied orange rind, coarsely chopped (optional)
90g egg whites (approx. 2 large eggs)
2 tsp honey
Plenty of icing sugar for rolling

Heat the oven to 180°C. Place the ground almonds on a small oven tray. Toast the almond meal in the oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden. You’ll need to stir the mixture a few times to make sure it toasts evenly. Set aside to cool.

Mix the cooled ground almonds, sugar, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl with your fingertips. Add the cherries and orange peel (if using) and set aside.

Whisk the egg whites until they reach a soft meringue consistency. Add the honey and whisk until firm. Gently fold into the almond mixture until it forms a soft paste.

Using a tablespoon, form the mixture into 24 irregular shapes then roll in icing sugar. Arrange on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for about 15 minutes until they have slightly coloured but still remain relatively pale and chewy in the centre. Leave to cool before storing in a sealed jar.

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These little amarettis are absolute flavour bombs and they might just have become my favourite new sweet treat. I have some hazelnut meal in the fridge and I can't with to try this recipe using a different nut meal and a different dried fruit or perhaps some coarsely chopped chocolate.

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I hope you get a chance to try these little gems. I've got a feeling I might be making a few of these for Christmas!

See you all again next week.

Bye for now,


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

plate 2 plate - apfel kuchen

Hi Every-one,

welcome to this edition of Plate 2 Plate.

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It was my turn to choose the recipe for Plate 2 Plate and as it's now Autumn in Zurich where Juliana lives, I suggested making an apfel kuchen (or apple cake) to Juliana and she agreed.

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chose this apple cake recipe from Australian Gourmet Traveller as I'd bookmarked it ages ago and just hadn't found the time to make it. I do have a similar apple cake in the archives but I'm always keen to try new recipes and this one intrigued me.

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I made this apple cake when I was recently home in Brisbane. Topped with cream it's become one of my Dad's favourites. Juliana's cake is pictured above while mine is below.

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The recipe contains no fancy ingredients, just apples, lemon, cinnamon, and the cornerstone of any baker's pantry - eggs, sugar, butter and flour. The autumnal images are courtesy of Juliana while the rest are mine.

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Juliana prepping her apples.

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Prepping, Jillian style.

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The pastry is very easy to make in the food processor but it is soft. I'd go easy with the eggs and just add sufficient for the pastry to come together. 

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I found the easiest way to line the tin with pastry is to cut it into 4 pieces - one piece for the base; another for the lid and 2 strips for the sides. The quantity of pastry is generous so you'll probably have a bit leftover for later. 

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Once baked, this a pretty rustic looking cake. The pastry is so short that little bits fall off but I think that adds to it's charm. 

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The cake is topped with a drizzle of apple flavoured icing, my favourite bit.

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Just a note of warning, this cake is not particularly sweet so if you have a sweet tooth you may want to increase the sugar in the filling. Try using ½ cup of caster sugar rather than ⅓ cup suggested in the recipe, if you use tart green apples like I did.

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Here's the recipe for you. I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

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Juliana and I shoot and style our images without any consultation and we couldn't believe how similar our cakes looked. Good enough to eat!

Apfel Kuchen, recipe by Brigitte Hafner

8 large Granny Smith or Cox’s orange pippin apples
Finely grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
Finely grated rind of ½ orange
75 gm caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125 gm pure icing sugar, sieved

450 gm cold butter, cut into small cubes
250 gm (1⅓ cups) plain flour
250 gm (1⅓ cups) self-raising flour
80 gm caster sugar
2 eggs, whisked

1. Peel, core and finely slice the apples, then place in a bowl with citrus rinds, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon, toss to combine and set aside to macerate (1 hour).

2. Meanwhile, for pastry, process butter, flours, sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Add egg and process until mixture just comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill (1 hour).

3. Preheat oven to 165°C. Roll two-thirds of pastry to just under 1cm-thick on a lightly floured surface and line the base and sides of a greased 28cm spring-form tin. Drain apples well (reserve liquid) and fill pastry case. Roll out remaining pastry, roll over the rolling pin and lift pastry over the apple. Press and crimp edges with your fingers to seal and then bake until deep golden brown (1 hour). Set aside in tin to cool for 10 minutes, then release sides of spring-form tin and set aside to cool completely.

4. Meanwhile, place 1½ tbsp of reserved apple liquid in a bowl and gradually stir in icing sugar until a glaze consistency forms. Drizzle over cake and serve.

Brigitte suggests making this cake the day before you plan to serve it. The apple cake will keep for 4 days, if it lasts that long.

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I've made the apple cake twice so far and tomorrow I'm planning to make another one so it's quickly become a favourite recipe. I hope you enjoy making it as well. Many thanks to Juliana for continuing to be my partner on Plate 2 Plate.

It's been a busy couple of days for me. I've just flown home to Sydney following a few days in Brisbane visiting my family, then Thursday I'm flying down to Melbourne to do some prop shopping and to attend a food photography seminar.

See you again next week.

Bye for now,