blueberry pistachio friands

19 Mar 2018

I have a new mini muffin tin and put the new pan pan to the test making a batch of blueberry and pistachio friands adapted from a recipe for blackcurrant friands I found in Plenty More by Ottolenghi.

Unusually for an Ottolenghi recipe, I needed to make quite a few changes to the recipe. The friands were very sweet so I reduced the quantity of sugar. The batter was also very soft and the first batch I baked was almost impossible to remove from the tin. I added a tablespoon of flour to the second batch, cooked them at a lower temperature and they came out just fine.

Here’s the revised recipe for you which makes 24 mini friands. If you only have one pan, once the friands are cool you'll need to regrease, flour and reline the tins before baking the second batch of friands. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Blueberry Pistachio Friands – makes 24
85g melted unsalted butter
65g plain flour
40g almond meal
35g pistachios, plus 1 tsp chopped to garnish
85g fresh or frozen blueberries, tossed in flour
Pinch ground cinnamon
100g caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp mashed banana
2 egg whites
Pinch salt
Butter/cooking spray

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and flour 2 mini muffin tins then place a small piece of baking paper in the base of each tin.

Reserve 1 tbs of caster sugar. Place almond meal, pistachios, flour, cinnamon and the remaining caster sugar into food processor. Blend until a breadcrumb-like consistency then tip into a bowl. Add melted butter, lemon zest & banana. Stir to combine.

In a clean dry bowl, whisk egg whites with the salt and the reserved caster sugar until whites form soft peaks. Gently fold a third of the egg whites into the nut mixture. Once incorporated, fold in another third, along with the blueberries then fold in remaining third of egg whites. Pour batter into muffin tin/moulds – filling only ⅔ full. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, leave to cool before turning out onto a wire rack. Remember to remove the baking paper before icing the friands.

Lemon Glaze
100g icing sugar, sifted
25ml lemon juice

In a small bowl, mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice to form a thick icing. Just before serving, drizzle the icing over the upturned friands, sprinkling with finely chopped nuts. 

I've been busily baking for Passover Week 2018 which will be coming to the blog next week. I can't wait to share what I've been baking.

See you all again next week.

Bye for now,



tropical hummingbird cake

12 Mar 2018

A few years ago I made a version of this cake but I found it too sweet, so I decided to remake the cake reducing the quantity of sugar.

I made the cake early one Sunday morning; I hadn't slept well and I was tired. I tasted the batter before I spooned it into the tin and found it not quite sweet enough so I added an extra tablespoon of sugar. 

It wasn't until the cake was in the oven and I was doing the washing up that I discovered the sugar I'd carefully weighed and measured the night before still sitting on the kitchen table. Oh dear.

It was too late to do anything about the cake so I hoped that the natural sweetness of the banana and pineapple in the batter would be enough to make the cake palatable but just in case I slathered the cake with loads of cream cheese icing.

Here's the recipe for you which makes a 18 cm cake. To make a 23cm cake just double all the ingredients but the baking time remains the same. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C. 

Tropical Hummingbird Layer Cake, adapted from Belinda Jeffery’s Mix and Bake.
¾ cup SR flour 
¼ cup Plain flour 
pinch salt 
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
pinch ground nutmeg 
25g roasted macadamias, coarsely chopped 
1 egg 
½ cup caster sugar 
½ cup vegetable oil 
½ teaspoon vanilla extract 
⅓ cup canned crushed pineapple in natural juice, undrained 
⅔ cup mashed banana 

Cream Cheese Icing 
60g softened unsalted butter, diced
125 g softened cream cheese, diced
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
To decorate (optional)
Toasted macadamias coarsely chopped/passionfruit pulp and diced mango

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease and line the base of a 18cm round cake tin with baking paper. Lightly dust the tin with flour.

Sift the flours, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl. Stir in the chopped macadamia nuts. In another bowl, beat the egg lightly with the sugar. Whisk in the oil and vanilla extract until well combined. Add the pineapple and mashed bananas and mix thoroughly. 

Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir them together to form a batter. If the batter is too thick, add a little more pineapple juice. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Cool the cake before turning out of the tin. Using a serrated knife, halve the cooled cake horizontally. Sandwich the two cakes together with about a third of the icing. Spread the remaining icing on top of the cake.

For icing, place the butter, cream cheese and icing sugar into the food processor and process until smooth before returning the mixture to the fridge to firm up.  

I decorated the cake with toasted macadamia nuts, diced mango and passionfruit pulp and took the cake into work keeping my fingers crossed that that the cake was edible. Thankfully cream cheese icing covers up a multitude of sins but next time I'll try and follow the recipe, exactly.

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

Bye for now,


plum ricotta crumble cake

5 Mar 2018

Last month I made a peach raspberry ricotta crumble cake which was very well received and it got me thinking. As it's plum season and until yesterday I'd not made my annual plum cake, I decided to play around with the recipe a little to see whether I could add some ricotta cheese to the cake. 

A few years ago when I wrote a food column for the blog decor8, I made a plum crumble cake. I used the crumble topping from a recipe in Belinda Jeffrey's book, Mix and Bake whilst the plum cake was adapted from a Gretta Anna recipe. 

For this cake instead of just topping the cake with plums I made a filling of plums, some ricotta and half the crumble mix which I scattered over the plums before adding the remaining cake batter. I haven't eaten my piece of the cake yet but it's looking pretty moist and delicious.

Here's the recipe for you which makes an 8 inch/20cm cake. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20ºC.

Plum Ricotta Crumble Cake
Crumble Topping
½ cup (70 gm) walnuts
¼ cup (55 gm) brown sugar
¼ cup (35 gm) plain flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
30 grams (1 oz) cold unsalted butter cut into small chunks

Crumble Topping
To make the crumble, pulse the walnuts in a food processor just a few times until coarsely chopped. Tip out into a small bowl then combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in the food processor. Add the butter and pulse until just combined. Place the crumble topping into the bowl containing the chopped walnuts and mix until incorporated . Refrigerate the topping while making the cake.

Cake Ingredients
6 small plums
1 tablespoon caster sugar
150 grams unsalted butter
150 grams caster sugar
1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 eggs
200 grams self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
125 mls (½ cup) milk
150 g well drained ricotta cheese

Cut the plums in half and remove the pits. Slice each plum half into quarters, put into a small bowl and sprinkle over the tablespoon of caster sugar.  Set aside. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Grease and line the base and sides of an 8 inch/20cm round tin with baking paper.

To make the cake, cream the butter, sugar and lemon rind together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until combined well. Sift the flour with the baking. Add the flour alternately with the milk to make a soft batter. You may not need to use all the milk. Spoon half the batter into the greased and lined tin. Crumble over the ricotta and half of the reserved crumb mixture then top with half the plum slices. Gently spoon the remaining batter over the fruit. Top the cake with the remaining plum slices then sprinkle the top of the cake with the crumble.

Bake the cake for 60-75 minutes or until the cake tests cooked when a skewer is inserted into it. Some of the plums may sink to the bottom of the tin while cooking. Cool the cake in the tin for about 15 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack. If desired, dust the top of the cake with icing sugar just before serving.

We're having a birthday morning tea for one of our colleagues on Wednesday so the cake is languishing in the deep freeze until then. I'll let you know how the cake turned out.

P.S Absolutely delicious!

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

Bye for now,

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