Monday, May 02, 2016

buttermilk pancakes - sunday special

During the Easter break a friend invited me over for brunch and served up a massive pile of ricotta hotcakes topped with Greek yoghurt, bananas and raspberries. 

Inspired by my friends pancakes I tried this recipe for buttermilk pancakes from Cooks Illustrated.

While making the pancakes I was busy baking a cake while also styling and photographing some cookies so my mind was not really on the job. I forgot to add the melted butter to the batter which I later found in the microwave but added an extra egg. Some how they still managed to turn out okay and I scoffed 4 of them for my breakfast.

Now that Passover is finally over I've returned to the kitchen with a vengeance. Yesterday I baked a cake; made a loaf of bread and made another batch of buttermilk pancakes but on this occasion I followed the recipe. If you look closely at the images below you can see the difference between the 2 batches. The pancakes on the right were made using the correct recipe whilst the pancakes on the left were my distracted batch. Yesterday's pancakes rose at least twice as high.

buttermilk pancakes photo blog-11_zps2j8pt3oa.jpg

Here's the recipe I used, slightly adapted for an Australian tablespoon.  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 gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Cooks Illustrated Best Buttermilk Pancakes - makes about 16 pancakes

2 cups plain flour
1½ tbs sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
¼ cup sour cream (I used Greek yoghurt)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1-2 tbs oil

Preheat oven to 90°C/200°F. Spray a wire rack with cooking spray and set it inside a rimmed baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a second bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream or yoghurt, eggs and melted butter. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Gently stir until just combined. The batter should be lumpy with a few streaks of flour. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes.

Heat a tsp of oil in a 12-inch non-stick pan over medium heat until shimmering. Using paper towels carefully wipe out oil leaving a thin film of oil on the bottom and sides of pan. Using a ¼ cup measure, portion the batter into the pan in 4 places. Cook until the edges are set; first side is golden brown and bubbles on the surface are just beginning to break, 2-3 minutes. Using a thin wide spatula flip the pancakes and continue to cook until second side is golden brown and cooked 1-2 minutes longer. Repeat with remaining batter, using remaining oil as necessary. Serve pancakes immediately or transfer to wire rack in preheated oven.

buttermilk pancakes photo blog-10_zpstodv9zu2.jpg

Here they are topped with Greek yoghurt, banana and raspberries and doused with maple syrup. For dessert I topped the pancakes with some oven roasted fruit and yoghurt and drizzled with maple syrup, they were equally delicious.

buttermilk pancakes photo blog-9_zpslaexxhgn.jpg

Maybe you could surprise your Mum with a pancake breakfast for Mother's Day.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekends. See you all again next Monday.

Until then,


Monday, April 25, 2016

anzac apple crumble

Today is Anzac Day and it's traditional to bake a batch of Anzac biscuits. I thought it would be nice to make something different so last week whilst I was looking through an old copy of Gourmet Traveller magazine I found this recipe for Anzac Apple Pie. It's not really a pie though, it's just a fancy apple crumble. I had most of the ingredients on hand so I whipped this up for dessert.

anzac apple crumble photo blog-9_zpsnyqfrnfp.jpg

I didn't have any treacle so I doubled the quantity of golden syrup and added a teaspoon of grated lemon rind to the crumble topping.

anzac apple crumble photo blog-7_zpsbdec201m.jpg

It came out of the oven looking nice and golden with a soft Anzac biscuit topping. 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.

Anzac Apple Crumble
Anzac biscuit topping
120 gm (¾ cup) wholemeal flour
110 gm (½ cup) firmly packed brown sugar
45 gm (½ cup) rolled oats
40 gm of desiccated coconut and moist coconut flakes
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind 
90 gm butter, softened
¼ cup golden syrup
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda 

Stewed ginger apples
4 Granny Smith apples, coarsely chopped
15gm piece of ginger, thinly sliced
55 gm (¼ cup) brown sugar
½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
½ cinnamon quill

To serve: icing sugar, vanilla ice-cream or thick vanilla custard +/- caramel sauce.

Anzac biscuit topping
Stir flour, sugar, oats, both coconuts and the lemon rind in a bowl to combine and make a well in the centre. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat with golden syrup, add 1 tbsp cold water and stir until combined (1-2 minutes), then stir in bicarbonate of soda (1-2 minutes; be careful, mixture will froth up). Stir golden syrup mixture into dry ingredients. Shape mixture into a 20cm disc on a baking tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate for about 30 minutes). Preheat oven to 180ยบC while you're preparing the apples. 

Stewed ginger apples
Combine ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat with 1 tbsp of water and stir occasionally until apples are tender (10-12 minutes). Spoon into pie dish or baking dish with a capacity of about ½ litre, cover with Anzac biscuit topping, pushing sides into dish to enclose and bake until topping is golden brown and crisp and apples are tender and bubbling (15-20 minutes). 

Dust with icing sugar and serve hot with scoops of vanilla ice-cream or custard. I didn't do this but I think it would be delicious topped with some caramel sauce.

Wishing you all a peaceful Anzac Day.

Bye for now,


Monday, April 18, 2016

passover week - ottolenghi’s chocolate fudge cake with a twist

Welcome to the final recipe for Passover Week 2016 and it's a show stopper.

This gem from Ottolenghi is flourless so it was always suitable for Passover but what would you say if I told you it was also dairy free? Don't thank me now, just race out and buy some extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter, lots of eggs and some dark chocolate and make this!

I won't lie and say this is a cake that requires no effort, because it does if you follow the recipe to the letter. There is chopping, melting, stirring, beating, cooling and waiting.

Ottolenghi's instructions are then to bake the cake in 2 separate layers.  I used about half the batter for the first layer and found the cooking times needed to be adjusted. I stored the batter in the fridge while the first layer was cooking and cooling. The first layer took 30 minutes to bake whilst the second layer took 40 minutes. Is this step strictly necessary? I don't think so as the 2 separate layers were barely discernible when the cake was cut. Next time I'd bake the cake for about 55 minutes and dispense with the whole 2 step process.

The original recipe used butter but on a whim I decided to make the cake using extra virgin olive oil. The oil and chocolate mixture did seize a bit so there was no runny chocolate sauce texture as described in the original recipe. In the end it all worked out once the egg yolks were added but you have been warned. The cake has a mild olive oil flavour so use a good quality, well flavoured oil.

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.

olive oil chocolate fudge cake photo blog-6_zpsmkdfem1o.jpg

Ottolenghi’s Chocolate Fudge Cake with a Twist - makes a 17 cm cake.

To make a 20 cm cake use the quantities in the link.

150ml extra virgin olive oil or 150g unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces
215g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces 
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar  
35mls water 
3 large eggs, separated 
pinch of salt 
cocoa powder for dusting
To serve: raspberries/pomegranate seeds or sour cherries 
Preheat oven to 170°C (325°F). Butter a 17cm spring form pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment/baking paper.  

In a large heat proof bowl, combine the olive oil or unsalted butter and the chopped chocolate. Combine the brown sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Pour the boiling syrup over the olive oil and chocolate and stir until they have melted into a runny chocolate sauce. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, to the chocolate mixture and then beat until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Set the bowl aside until the mixture comes to room temperature. 
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and salt to a firm but not dry meringue. Fold a third of the meringue into the chocolate mixture. Once combined, add another third, fold and then fold in the remaining third until just combined. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan reserving the remaining batter for later and bake for 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and leave it on a wire rack to cool completely.  
Flatten the cake with an offset spatula and pour the rest of the batter on top. Level the surface again. Return the cake to the oven and bake for a further 20-25 minutes (my cake batter was stored in the fridge and took 40 minutes to bake). When tested with a skewer the cake should have a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
Allow to cool completely in the spring form pan before unmoulding the cake. Dust with cocoa powder before serving. I added some pomegranate seeds for some added colour and texture but I think raspberries or some sour cherries would also be nice.

The cake is moist, dense and delicious and will keep covered at room temperature for 4 days. I'd be inclined to store the cake in the fridge, bringing it to room temperature before serving.

See you all again next week.

Bye for now,


Saturday, April 16, 2016

passover week - lemon almond ricotta cake

Hi every-one,

I wrote and posted this recipe yesterday but there must have been a glitch in the system because the post disappeared. So here we go again. 

Have you ever made your own ricotta? I'm not going to give you a recipe for ricotta cheese as there are many on the web but if you can't buy passover friendly ricotta for this recipe (which you can't in Sydney) you may have to make your own. It's pretty simple to make though - just milk, salt, lemon juice, a thermometer, a way to drain the curds and a bit of time.

passover lemon almond and ricotta cake photo blog-1_zpssnsnrkfm.jpg

This cake is based on the famous lemon ricotta cake from the River Cafe. I made a version of this cake last weekend in a fluted tin even though I knew it was unlikely to come out cleanly and without a struggle.

In the battle of the cake vs tin, the tin won and I stuck the broken bits of cake back together and smothered it in icing sugar. It tasted great though and well worth making again.

passover lemon almond and ricotta cake photo blog-5_zpsggsmk4yk.jpg

So back to the kitchen I returned for round 2. To save time, I didn't make my own ricotta this time. Instead I used favourite brand, Paesanella and baked the cake in a more sensibly shaped tin. It came out of the tin without a problem and this time I decided to top the cake with some softly whipped cream and candied lemon rind.

passover lemon almond and ricotta cake photo blog-7_zpsziwnxjdm.jpg
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.

passover lemon almond and ricotta cake photo blog-9_zpsklp6kxbo.jpg

Almond and Ricotta Cake - makes 1 x 17cm cake
125g almond meal
50g passover baking mix
150g fresh ricotta or white curd cheese
75mls strained lemon juice
110g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar
finely grated zest of 3 lemons
3 eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 170C. Butter a 17cm round cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.

In a small bowl, combine the almond meal with the passover baking mix. Place the ricotta in a separate bowl; lightly beat with a fork then add the lemon juice. 

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and lemon zest together until pale and light. Add the egg yolks one by one, then add the almond mixture alternately with the ricotta mixture. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the almond mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes until set. Test by inserting a skewer, which should come out clean. Cool on a cake rack.

Dust with icing sugar or top with softly whipped cream and candied lemon slices. Decorate just before serving.

Candied Lemon Slices
1 small lemon thinly sliced and seeds removed
⅔ cup caster sugar
⅔ cup water

In a frying pan, combine the sugar and water, place over a low heat stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for 5 - 8 minutes or until the toffee starts to turn golden. Add the lemon slices and turn frequently until the lemon slices are golden and well coated about 3 - 5 minutes. Remove the slices and place on baking paper. Allow to cool at room temperature.

passover lemon almond and ricotta cake photo blog-8_zps9p45q88v.jpg

The cake is lovely - light and moist and well worth the time and effort involved in making your own cheese.

Have a great weekend. See you next Monday with the final recipe (I think) for Passover Week.

Bye for now,


Thursday, April 14, 2016

passover week 2016 - passover maple syrup pecan pie

Last year I discovered a pastry recipe in Belinda Jeffery's book, Mix and Bake, that could be adapted for Passover. I made some little fig frangipane tartlets and they turned out quite well. Emboldened I thought I'd try making something a little larger this year and decided to make a pecan pie. I used maple syrup in the filling as corn syrup isn't Passover friendly. 

passover maple syrup pecan pie photo blog-1_zpsr4artgn9.jpg

The pastry is very delicate but somehow I managed to get in into the pie tin. Don't even try to wrap it around the rolling pin before easing it into the pie plate as that technique won't work here. Either pat the pastry into the tin using your hands or roll it between 2 sheets of non stick paper and upend the pastry into the tin while holding your breath and crossing your fingers for luck!

passover maple syrup pecan pie photo blog-2_zpsrasy4sya.jpg

The pie came out of the oven looking pretty good but the crust is so delicate if you look at it, it shatters. I was worried I wouldn't be able to successfully cut a slice but chilling it helped to firm the pastry.

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. 

Passover Maple Pecan Pie - makes a 20-23 cm tart

120g almond meal
Pinch of salt
3½ tablespoons Passover baking mix (equal quantities superfine matzo meal and potato flour)
75g very cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks (I'd reduce this to 60g next time)

½ cup caster sugar
2 tbs potato flour (this helps to set the filling)
3 eggs
1 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons melted butter
1½ cups (175g) toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. For the crust, put the almond meal, salt and Passover baking mix into food processor and whiz together until combined. Add butter and whiz some more until it forms coarse breadcrumbs. Press the crumbs into the 20 - 23cm flan tin or if you like, roll the pastry out between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper before wrangling the pastry into the tin. It will crack so you'll need to patch it. Put the pie crust in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.

To make the filling, combine the sugar, the potato flour, the eggs, syrup and the melted butter. Chop approximately ¾ of the pecans, add to the mixture and stir to combine. Pour carefully into the prepared tin. Arrange the remaining pecans decoratively on the top. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 180°C or until the filling is well browned and just set. Remove to a wire rack and cool. Once the pie has cooled return it to the fridge and leave overnight to allow the pastry to firm. Serve with a dollop of cream for a job well done!

passover maple syrup pecan pie photo blog-5_zpsswft5kr9.jpg

The verdict - the pastry is very brittle so next time I wouldn't bake this in a pie tin. Instead I'd use a fluted 20-23cm flan tin with a removable base that way it would be easier to cut and serve a neat slice. As the pastry is so delicate, the filling although delicious soaked into the pastry resulting in a soggy bottom. In the end, the pastry probably works better for little tarts than one large pie so I guess my search for the perfect passover shortcrust pastry continues.

If I can get a cake baked, cooled and styled in time I'll see you all again tomorrow with another recipe from Passover week. If not then I'll see you again next week for Part II of Passover Week.

Bye for now,


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

passover week 2016 - buttery flourless almond and coconut cake

Sometime the recipes I use for Passover Week are old favourites that I've adapted. Some recipes are ones I've found that are conveniently flourless.

 photo blog-6_zpsfxqxqnbi.jpg

This recipe falls into the second category and comes from one of my favourite food writers, Belinda Jeffery

buttery almond and coconut cake photo blog-1_zpsrxpwsyjv.jpg

It's a melt and mix cake so it's easy to make and disappeared in a flash when I took it into work. 

buttery almond and coconut cake photo blog-2_zpszkzyzppf.jpg

It can be served as is with a cup of tea for afternoon tea or dressed up for dessert with some oven roasted fruit and a dollop of cream.

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.

Flourless Almond, Coconut and Vanilla Cake - makes a 17 cm cake. To make a 23 cm cake, double all the ingredients but cook for the same length of time.

90g almond meal
30g desiccated coconut
pinch salt
125g caster sugar
2 x 60g eggs
The seeds of ½ a vanilla bean
100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons flaked almonds
Passover icing sugar, (optional), for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter a 17cm spring form cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the almond meal, desiccated coconut, salt and sugar with a balloon whisk to get rid of any lumps. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla seeds and the cooled butter until it is incorporated. Tip the butter mixture into the almond mixture and stir together to form a slightly runny batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and spread it out evenly, then scatter the flaked almonds over the top.

Put the tin into the preheated oven and bake the cake for about 40 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back slowly when you press it gently. Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack.

Once the cake is cool, invert it onto the rack, remove the tin and paper and invert it again onto a serving plate. Dust the top lightly with icing sugar, if liked, before serving.

buttery almond and coconut cake photo blog-5_zpsn4bmdvzp.jpg

A final photo for you.

buttery almond and coconut cake photo blog-7_zpsgxotyewq.jpg

I served the cake with some plums and pears I roasted with some finely orange rind, orange juice, a cinnamon stick, maple syrup and a dash of brown sugar. Delicious!

See you all tomorrow with another Passover week recipe.

Bye for now,


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

passover week 2016 - blueberry apple crumble tart

As promised for Passover I 'renovated' the plum tart recipe I posted a few weeks back. As it's autumn in Sydney (though you wouldn't know it from the weather) I wanted to use a fruit I knew would still be in season at the end of April. I thought about figs (too expensive) and rhubarb but it had sold out so there was none left in the fruit shop. 

passover blueberry apple crumble tart photo blog-4_zpskmv2znxj.jpg

The fruit shop was filled with apples so apples it was, perked up with the addition of some blueberries. At the last minute I decided the tart would be even nicer if it were topped with crumble so that's what I did. As apples aren't as tart as plums, I dropped the quantity of sugar in the pastry.

passover blueberry apple crumble tart photo blog-3_zps287cw7ws.jpg

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.

passover blueberry apple crumble tart photo blog-7_zpskwzulng2.jpg

Passover Blueberry Apple Crumble TartMakes one 8 x 8 inch tart

1½ cups Passover baking mix (equal quantities superfine matzo meal and potato flour)
110g cold unsalted butter, diced
½ cup caster sugar
A pinch of salt
1 egg
Seeds half vanilla pod or 1 tsp Passover vanilla extract

4 large green apples, peeled
1 tbs lemon juice
3 tbs caster sugar
1 tbs potato flour
¼ tsp cinnamon
One 125g punnet blueberries

1.To make the filling core the apple and coarsely chop. Place in a saucepan with the lemon juice and cook over a low heat until the apple has softened but still holds its shape, about 10 minutes or cook in a covered bowl in the microwave on high for 7- 8 minutes. Add the tablespoon of potato flour, sugar and cinnamon; cool to room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Lightly grease and line a 20 x 20 cm (8 x 8 inch) tin with baking paper, ensuring the sides of the tin are fully lined.

3. Put the Passover baking mix, butter sugar and salt into a food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the egg and the vanilla seeds and bring together until the ingredients form a ball. Press ⅔ of the mixture evenly into the prepared tin bringing the pastry up the sides a little. Reserve the remaining pastry; wrap in plastic and place in the fridge.

4. Bake the pastry in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until just golden around the edges. Remove the base from the oven and allow to cool slightly before covering with the apple filling. Spread it out evenly before scattering over the blueberries. Take the reserved pastry from the fridge and evenly crumble it over the apple filling.

5. Return the tart to the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the crumble topping is nice and brown.

6. Cut the tart into eight slices. Serve the tart warm or at room temperature topped with custard, a dollop of cream or some ice cream.

You can make the fruit filling in advance and even bake the base a day ahead if you wish. Otherwise, this tart can be stored in the fridge for up to 3–4 days but the pastry will soften a little. 

I took this into work today and it disappeared pretty quickly, always a good sign.

See you all again tomorrow with another passover week recipe.

Bye for now,