very berry jam

17 Sep 2018

I'm in the process of reworking my pannacotta lamington cake recipe and I need berry jam for the filling. Nothing tastes quite like home made jam so instead of racing to the shops to buy some jam, I decided to make a batch. Berries are cheap and plentiful at the moment so I decided to make a small batch of strawberry jam. When I went to the fruit shop on Saturday raspberries were on special so the strawberry jam I'd planned to make became a raspberry/strawberry concoction. For all of you wondering in light of the strawberry contamination crisis, I carefully checked the strawberries and cut them into quarters before using them.

I only needed one pot of jam but if you'd like to make more then just double or treble all the ingredients. 

Once the ingredients are measured and in the pot, jam is only 20 minutes away.

Here's the recipe for my very berry jam, which makes one 400 ml pot of jam.

Very Berry Jam
1 lemon
250g strawberries, washed, dried, hulled and quartered if large
250g raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 vanilla pod, halved
250g white sugar

Juice the lemon and reserve the skins. Combine the strawberries, raspberries, the lemon juice, the vanilla pod and sugar in a bowl and leave to macerate for a few hours or overnight in the fridge. 

The next day place a saucer in the freezer to test the jam's setting point. While the jam is cooking, prepare the jars. Wash the jars in hot soapy water and rinse. Place the jars and lids in a deep saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring water to the boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium and boil for 10 minutes. Line a baking tray with paper towel. Remove the jars using metal tongs and allow to air dry or dry with a clean paper towel. 

Place the fruit mixture plus the reserved lemon halves
 in a shallow saucepan (I used a wok) and cook over a medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil stirring occasionally for 20 minutes or until jam is reduced by one-quarter.

Cook until the jam has reached it’s setting point (105°C). To check when jam is set, remove the jam from the heat and place a spoonful of hot jam onto the chilled saucer. Return to the freezer for 1 minute. Run your finger through the jam to test if it wrinkles and jells. If it doesn't, return to the heat for a further 5 minutes then repeat the test.

Take the jam from the heat and discard the lemon halves. I like to leave the vanilla pod in the jam as it's large enough to avoid. Allow the jam to cool for a minute or 2 before spooning the hot jam evenly into the sterilized jar. Set the jam aside to cool completely before sealing, labelling and dating. Store the jam in a cool dark place, then once opened store in the fridge.

Despite being only 50% raspberry you can barely detect the strawberries at all in the jam so you'd never know. 

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

Bye for now,


lemon poppyseed bars

10 Sep 2018

Last month when I made the sour cherry chocolate brownies I used an 8 inch square tin and the brownies came out quite flat. I realised it would have been better if I'd made them in a 7 inch tin, a tin that I didn't have in my cupboard. Thanks to Everten that problem has been rectified so I decided to make a batch of lemon poppyseed bars in my new tin. 

Lemon bars are much loved by my workmates so by lunch time there were no leftovers. I didn't manage to snaffle a piece for myself either but I did trim the bars before serving and the trimmings were all for the cook.

I like my lemon bars lemony, so you'll need about 3 lemons when making this recipe.

Here's the recipe for you which makes 10 bars or 9 squares. 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.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bars - makes 10 bars or 9 squares
120 gm unsalted butter
1/3 cup icing sugar
½ tsp lemon rind
1 cup plain flour
3 tsp poppy seeds

Grease and line the base and sides of a 7 inch (17.5 cm) square tin with baking paper.

In a food processor, combine the butter, icing sugar and grated lemon rind and process until smooth. Add the flour and process until a dough is formed, then add the poppy seeds. Whiz a few times until the poppy seeds are incorporated, then press into the tin. If you don't have a food processor you can make this by creaming the butter and sugar and lemon rind in a bowl before adding the remaining ingredients.

Bake at 180°C/350°F (conventional oven) for about 20 minutes or until the base is lightly browned. Put to one side while you make the topping.

¾ cup caster sugar
1½ tablespoons plain flour
1½ tsp grated lemon rind
3 eggs
⅓ cup of lemon juice
Icing sugar

Lower the oven temperature to 170°C/325°F (conventional oven).

In a bowl stir together the sugar, the flour and the grated lemon rind until combined. Add the eggs gradually and mix to a smooth paste. Finally stir in the lemon juice and mix until combined. Pour the mixture over the warm cooked base and return to the oven. Bake until cooked, about 20-30 minutes.

While still warm, sift with icing sugar. Allow to cool before cutting into squares or bars. You may need to recoat the bars with icing sugar just before serving.

I've been baking up a storm so I'll see you all again next week with some baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


cinnamon scrolls

3 Sep 2018

I grew up making cinnamon rolls with my Dad and when I came home from Brisbane last weekend, that's all I wanted to bake. I had everything I needed in the cupboard so set to work. Pretty soon the whole house was smelling of freshly baked cinnamon buns - just the best!

The yeast dough can be made the day before and stored in the fridge then brought to room temperature when needed. Once the dough is rolled out, the cinnamon filling is spread over the dough, the dough is then rolled and sliced and placed in a muffin tin and set aside in a warm place to rise. I made these on a very cold day and had to rest the tray on my heater protected by a towel to encourage the scrolls to rise.

Here's the recipe for you which makes 12 large scrolls. 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. These are best served the day they're made. Otherwise as soon as they're cool, store in plastic bags, freeze and defrost when needed.

Cinnamon Scrolls
90g butter              
170 mls milk                              
2 tsp vanilla                         
400 gm plain flour  
½ tsp salt                                
40g caster sugar 
10g dried yeast   
1 egg, beaten

30g melted butter 
Granulated sugar

80 g of soft butter
100g granulated sugar
1 tsp golden syrup
4 tsp cinnamon
30 g almond meal

Syrup - optional
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 cinnamon quill

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat, add milk and vanilla and heat until lukewarm. Mix flour, salt, sugar and yeast in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make a well in the centre, then, with motor running, pour milk mixture and beaten egg into the well and knead until smooth and shiny (2-3 minutes).  

Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (1 hour). While the dough is rising, make the filling. In a small bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, the syrup and the ground cinnamon. Mix in the almond meal to form a paste, ensuring there are no lumps in the mixture.

Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line each with a paper liner. Knock back the dough on a lightly floured surface then roll out to a 20cm x 35cm rectangle. Brush the edge of the dough with water before evenly spreading the filling over the dough to within a cm of the edge. Start rolling the dough tightly from the long edge then with a sharp knife or scissors cut crosswise into 12 even pieces. Place each roll into the prepared muffin tray then coat the buns with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle each bun with a little sugar. Cover with a tea towel or place inside a large plastic bag and stand in a warm place to prove (30 minutes – 1 hour).

Preheat the oven 180°C. Place the muffin pan on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until the buns have risen and are well browned. While the scrolls are baking make the syrup, if using.

Bring sugar and water to a simmer and stir until sugar dissolves. Add the cinnamon quill and bubble the syrup for a few minutes until the syrup thickens a little. Remove from heat and set aside to cool allowing the cinnamon quill to steep in the syrup. As soon as the scrolls leave the oven, drizzle 1-2 tbs of the syrup over each bun. Cool in the tray for 15 minutes to let the buns absorb the syrup and then cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Can be eaten warm or at room temperature.

The scrolls came out of the oven sky-high and smelling so good. I had one straight away and have the rest tucked in the freezer for whenever a cinnamon scroll craving strikes.

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

Bye for now,


lemon and ginger syrup cake

27 Aug 2018

I was in Brisbane unexpectedly last week and with some time on my hand I decided to bake a cake. I was going to make an almond cake but Dad suggested I make something a little less ambitious. I turned to an old copy of the Cook's Companion and after looking through it I made an old favourite, Angie's lemon cake. I hadn't made the cake in ages and I'd forgotten how delicious it is. By the time I left Brisbane the last piece had been eaten.

Now that I'm back home again it's time to return to my normal routine. A few weeks ago one of my long time patients, Peter, brought me some home grown lemons. With lemons in the fruit bowl and preserved stem ginger in the cupboard I planned to make Tamasin Day-Lewis's recipe for drenched ginger and lemon cake. In the end it seemed easier to adapt what I already had so with the addition of some finely chopped preserved ginger and a spoonful of the ginger syrup, I turned my lemon syrup cake into a lemon and ginger syrup cake.

You can make the entire cake in a food processor but I chose to use my hand beaters and a bowl. I first whizzed the lemon rind and sugar in the little food processor attachment that came with my stick blender. If you don't have one of these handy items or a food processor, just rub the finely grated zest through the caster sugar with your hands to release the oils. If you don't have any ginger syrup I think you could add a small piece of peeled ginger to the lemon juice and sugar while making the syrup. It would work just fine, maybe even better!

Here's the recipe for you which makes a small bundt cake. 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. As always if you want to make a larger bundt cake then double all the ingredients and bake for the same amount of time.

Lemon and Ginger Syrup Cake
1 lemon
90g caster sugar 
125g self-raising flour 
pinch of salt 
½ tsp baking powder 
125g softened unsalted butter 
2 large eggs 
⅓ cup natural yoghurt, buttermilk or milk
40g finely chopped crystallized or preserved ginger 

60g caster sugar 
The juice of 1 lemon
1tbs ginger syrup (home-made or bought) 


Preheat oven to 170ºC. Grease and flour a small bundt tin and place in the freezer until needed.

Zest and juice the lemon. Pulverise the zest with sugar in a small food processor or
just rub the finely grated zest through the caster sugar with your hands to release the oils. Sift flour with salt and baking powder into a small bowl and set to one side.

In a medium size bowl cream the softened butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time followed by the flour, alternating with the yoghurt or milk until you have a nice soft batter. Gently stir through the chopped ginger before spooning the mixture into the prepared tin. Smooth the top and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and tests cooked when tested with a skewer.

While the cake is cooking, make the syrup. I
n a small saucepan, mix the sugar with the lemon juice and ginger syrup and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved. Let it simmer for a minute or two to thicken. Pour a little syrup over the base of hot cake when it comes out of the oven then let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes before turning it out onto a rack. Pour a little more of the syrup over the cake allowing it to absorb. You may not have to use all the syrup. 

Tamasin Day-Lewis serves this cake warm as a pudding with some crème fraiche and leftover syrup. Normally I allow the cake to cool completely before serving. Serve as is or if you like you can serve the cake with a dollop of cream and any remaining syrup. The candied lemon slices you see are completely optional.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekends. See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


apple and olive oil cake with maple cream cheese icing

20 Aug 2018

It's a bit of an Ottolenghiathon around here at the moment. A recipe for this apple and olive oil cake first appeared in Ottolenghi the cookbook, then reappeared last year in Sweet. A few years ago, I made a version for Passover week which never made it to the blog because it wasn't very good and I've been meaning to make a regular version ever since.

I made a mini version of the cake and to do so I combined the 2 versions to come up with this one. The resulting cake is very moist and probably doesn't need the cream cheese icing but everything tastes better with cream cheese icing.

The maple cream cheese icing isn't the Ottolenghi version but my own spin and one I've used before. The apple chips are also my own addition - unnecessary but fun and easy to make. I just put them on the bottom shelf of the oven while the cake baked.

Here's the recipe for you which makes a 17cm cake. 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. To make a 23 cm cake just double all the ingredients and bake for the same length of time.

Apple and olive oil cake
40g sultanas
150g plain flour
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
pinch salt
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
60ml olive oil
100g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten plus 1 extra egg white
1-2 Granny smith apples (400g)
½ tsp grated lemon rind
30mls water

Maple icing
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tbs brown sugar
1 cup sifted icing sugar
40 ml maple syrup

Optional - Apple chips
1 small pink lady apple
2 tbs maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 17cm round cake tin with baking paper. Set aside.

Place the sultanas in a small bowl. Cover with boiling water and let soak for 1-2 hours or until plump. Drain the water from the sultanas and set to one side.

Sift the flour, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt together into a bowl and set aside. Peel and core the apples, then cut into 1cm dice and set aside in a separate bowl.

Place the sugar, olive oil, whole egg, vanilla extract and lemon rind in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat until the mix is light in colour, doubled in size and has thickened a little, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the machine and use a large spatula to fold in the flour mixture and the water.

Place the egg white in a separate clean bowl and whisk to form soft peaks. Gently but thoroughly fold the egg white into the cake mix and then gently fold in the diced apple and the drained sultanas.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin, level the top with a spatula and bake for approximately 1 hour (my cake took 1 hour and 10 minutes) or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the cake is browning too quickly you may need to cover the cake with baking paper halfway through the baking time. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool in the tin.

Maple Cream Cheese Icing
Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugars in a small bowl until light and fluffy. Add sufficient maple syrup to make a soft icing. Refrigerate the icing until ready to use.

When the cake is completely cooled, use a large serrated knife to cut it in half horizontally. Spread a third of the icing over the bottom layer of the cake, then place the other layer back on top. Spoon the remaining icing on top – leave the sides un-iced so that the icing in the middle can be seen – and serve. If desired decorate the cake with some apple chips.

Apple chips
Preheat the oven to 180°C .Thinly slice the unpeeled apple using a sharp knife or a mandolin. Remove any apple seeds. Lightly brush one side of each apple slice with maple syrup. Place on a rack and place in the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the apple chips are lightly golden, crisp and the edges have started to ruffle. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. The apples will continue to crisp up as they cool.

Hoping to see you all again next week,


take home chocolate cake

13 Aug 2018

I'm a huge Ottolenghi fan, so as soon as I heard Ottolenghi had penned a baking book called Sweet with Helen Goh, I ordered a copy. Even though I've had the book for close to a year now, I've only made a few items so far because life keeps getting in the way. A few weeks ago I decided to make something
that was quick to put together and selected the take home chocolate cake from the book. 

It's a melt and mix cake so it took no time to make, in fact measuring the ingredients took longer than preparing the cake.

I'd read a few reviews reporting the cake took less time to cook than indicated in the book (1 hour) and that the resultant cake was very crumbly and dry. My cake took about 50 minutes to bake and I took the cake into work and waited for the verdict. The cake wasn't dry but it didn't hold it's shape when cut, instead exploding into a shower of crumbs. Despite this, the cake received a big thumbs up.

Although the cake tasted great, I wasn't happy with the texture so I re-made the cake on Saturday. I'm not a huge fan of melt and mix cakes so the second time I made the cake I made it the old fashioned way creaming the butter and sugar together.

The batter made that way was much firmer than the melt and mix batter and the cake took a little longer to cook, just over an hour. However when cut, the slice came out exactly the way a piece of chocolate cake should - deliciously moist and chocolately. 

Here's the recipe for you which makes a 17cm cake. If you'd like to make a 23cm cake you'll need to double all the ingredients but the bake time will stay the same. I used my own ganache recipe but the cake recipe is an adaptation of the Take Home Chocolate Cake found in Sweet by Ottolenghi and Helen Goh but made my way. 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.

Take Home Chocolate Cake
100g 70% dark chocolate chopped into small pieces 
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature   
125g caster sugar 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1 large egg, lightly beaten 
135g self-raising flour 
15g Dutch-processed cocoa powder  
a pinch salt 
¾ tsp instant coffee granules dissolved in a little boiling water, then topped up with cold water to make cup

90g dark chocolate chopped 
 cup double cream
2 tsp golden or maple syrup 

Heat oven to 180°C. Grease a 17-centimetre round tin with butter and line with baking paper, then set aside. Melt chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between increments until completely melted. Cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until incorporated followed by the cooled melted chocolate. Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt together into a bowl and then add the flour in batches alternating with the coffee mixture to make a soft batter. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour or until the cake is cooked and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean or with just a few dry crumbs attached. The top will form a crust and crack a little, but don't worry, this is expected. Leave the cake to cool for 20 minutes before removing from the pan, then set aside until completely cool. 

While the cake is cooling, you can make the icing

Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave in 30-second increments, or over a bowl of simmering water, stirring between increments. Remove the bowl and whisk in the cream and the golden syrup. The topping should be smooth and quite silky. If you want a thin layer to spread over the cake, it can be poured over while liquid so that you get an even, light and shiny coating. For a thicker icing with a spreading consistency, leave it for about 1/2 hour at room temperature. The icing will thicken as it cools. if it seizes,just return the mixture to the microwave for a few seconds to loosen.

Spread the topping on top of the cake using an off-set spatula. When set, peel the baking paper from the cake and discard. Place on a serving plate and refrigerate until serving time. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving. With or without the icing the cake will keep well in an airtight container for 4-5 days.

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

Bye for now,

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