Tuesday, 19 June 2018

cinnamon and orange sticky date pudding

It's really kinda chilly in Sydney right now, finally winter, and definitely pudding weather.  Last year I partnered with Williams Sonoma Australia to create a recipe for one of their Nordic Ware bundt tins, after many, many rounds of testing this is it, cinnamon and orange sticky date pudding. Fragrant with spices and orange, it's beautifully light and moist, with a crisp yet chewy caramel crust, perfectly warm and comforting for these brisk conditions!

Kitchenware is definitely my thing, I'm a collector of cake tins, old and new, and have a fair few Nordic Ware pans. This pan though, may be my favourite; it's not overly complicated, I love the sauce hugging ridges, but it's the name that seals it, it's the "Party" pan...

Cinnamon and Orange Sticky Date Pudding

250g dates, stoned and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
zest and juice of 1 orange
90g unsalted butter
120g caster sugar
110g brown sugar
3 large eggs
250g self-raising flour
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

• preheat oven to 180°C
• carefully butter and flour a 10 cup bundt tin, take your time to ensure you do not miss any spots, particularly any ridges
• pour the orange juice into a jug, add water to make a total of 460ml, tip into a pan with the chopped dates and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat, add the bicarb soda, give it a quick stir and set aside for 10 minutes to cool, then using a stick blender or food processor, blend until smooth
• sieve the flour, cinnamon and cloves into a bowl, set aside
      • cream butter and sugars until fluffy and the colour noticeably lightens, add the orange zest, then the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each
      • fold in the flour gently, then stir in the date mixture, the batter will be very wet, pour into your prepared tin
      • bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes, the pudding is cooked when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (while the pudding is cooking make the sauce)
      • as soon as it’s out of the oven, invert the pudding onto a shallow oven proof dish or plate, pour a little sauce over the pudding and pop it back in the oven for 5 minutes or so, the sauce will form a deliciously chewy crust
      • sprinkle with flaked sea salt and serve generous slices with extra caramel sauce, a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, and maybe a candied orange slice or two
       Any leftover pudding can be stored, covered in the fridge, best eaten within 3 days

orange caramel sauce

550g caster sugar
300ml cream
100g unsalted butter
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick

• combine the sugar and 200ml water in a saucepan, bring to the boil over medium-high heat, stir until the sugar dissolves, then brush down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to remove any sugar crystals, cook until the caramel darkens and starts to smoke (10-15 minutes)
• add the cream, butter, orange juice and cinnamon stick (take care as the hot caramel will spit) stir until dissolved, remove from heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Strain in a jug, stir through the orange zest and set aside

sauce can be kept in an airtight container, in the fridge for a week

soft candied oranges

These soft candied orange slices will be slightly bitter, their bitterness works wonderfully with the sweetness of the caramel drenched pudding.
4 unwaxed oranges
500g caster sugar
500ml water

• wash oranges well and carefully cut into 2-3mm slices
• tip the sugar and water into a large pan, stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves
• increase the heat and bring the syrup to a gentle simmer, add the orange slices, continue the gentle simmer for 25 mins, or until the orange skin is almost translucent and can be easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, you may need to top up your pan with water as you go, to keep the orange slices covered
• carefully transfer the orange slices to a clean jar, pour the syrup over the top, cover your jar with its lid and store in the fridge. Any leftover slices will keep for a week or so, much longer if you use a sterilised jar.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

overnight cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning

A few years ago I started a new tradition; fresh baked cinnamon scrolls, oven warm, enjoyed in the lull after the presents on Christmas morning. It might seem crazy to add extra baking to an already busy time, but these are made ahead and need only be baked and iced on Christmas morning, the icing not an entirely necessary step, easily replaced with a dusting of sugar.

My search for the perfect scroll recipe has been a bit of an obsession, the family were definitely over them for a while, three batches in as many days possibly pushed them over the edge... These are a light, buttery, brioche style roll with tangy cream cheese icing, and fresh nutmeg festively reminiscent of eggnog. I can't claim they're perfect, but I'll happily bake these on Christmas morning and leave the experimenting for another year. Next on my hit list, those super soft and fluffy "white bread" style scrolls from Bakers Delight, any suggestions?

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls for Christmas Morning


250g warm milk
6g (2 tsp) instant yeast
500g bread flour
1 tsp sea salt
50g caster sugar
100g butter, at room temperature
2 eggs


240g brown sugar
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
100g butter, at room temperature

cream cheese icing

150g cream cheese, at room temperature
120g icing sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
45ml milk
fresh nutmeg

• gently warm the milk in a small pan, until it feels just warm, approx. 40ºC if you’re measuring, add a tablespoon of the sugar and the dried yeast, whisk to combine, leave to stand for 5 minutes, it should start to bubble and foam
• tip the flour, remaining sugar and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer, use a whisk to combine then add the warm milk/yeast mixture, eggs, and butter; using the dough hook mix on slow for approximately 5-8 minutes, the dough should be smooth and glossy, and have pulled away from the sides of the bowl; transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for around an hour, or until it has doubled in size

• while the dough is proofing prepare the cinnamon filling; in a microwave proof bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, mix in the ground cinnamon, set aside
• line a tin with baking paper, I use either a 38cm x 26cm baking pan or 30cm cast iron low casserole pan, but something with similar dimensions will be fine
• lightly dust the bench with flour, tip the dough out of the bowl, it may need encouragement, and roll to a rectangle 40cm x 60cm, turn the dough a few times as you’re rolling, dusting the bench with more flour if the dough starts to stick
• pop the cinnamon mixture into the microwave on low for 30 seconds, this will soften, but not melt the mixture, making it much easier to spread; check it after 20 seconds as you don’t want it to melt
• spread the mixture evenly over the dough leaving a small a 1cm gap along the top of the long edge

• starting with the long side of the dough, carefully roll into a tight roll; cut the roll into 12 pieces for a rectangle pan, 11 for the round pan, you can eyeball this or use a ruler, I’m absolutely a ruler girl… a serrated knife will work well, but for super neat edges try using dental floss, I've given up trying to write instructions for this, have a look at this clip)
• place the rolls in the pan, cut sides facing up, cover tightly with plastic wrap and put into the fridge overnight
• the next morning take the rolls out of the fridge and let them sit on the bench while the oven heats to 175ºC; once the oven has reached temperature, pop the rolls in and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and the middle rolls are nicely puffed

• while the rolls are baking, make the cream cheese frosting; sieve the icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer, add the cream cheese and vanilla, using the paddle attachment beat on high for 1-2 minutes until smooth, drop the speed to low and add the milk a tablespoon at a time until you have a pouring consistency – you may not need all of the milk
• remove the rolls from the oven, stand on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes then drizzle with cream cheese frosting and a grating of fresh nutmeg
• serve immediately, with the excess icing in a bowl for dipping, enjoy!

The rolls are best eaten warm, fresh out of the oven, give any leftover rolls a quick 20 second blast in the microwave to soften

Saturday, 12 August 2017

cherry and pistachio bakewell tart

I had big plans for Christmas in July this year, they didn't happen, but this pistachio and cherry Bakewell tart did. 

When I was as kid in the UK, I loved Mr Kipling's cherry bakewells, with their thick layer of white icing and sticky glacé cherry. I'm hoping this is a slightly more sophisticated take, I've lost the icing and glacé cherry, and swapped a portion of the ground almonds for pistachios. 

Cherries and pistachios just sing Christmas, so I broke my buying out of season rule and spent a small fortune on imported cherries from America. I think it was worth it, that jar of cherry jam might keep me going until summer, when it's Christmas for real and the boxes of local cherries are piled high...

Cherry and Pistachio Bakewell Tart

I'll pretty much always bake from scratch if I have the time, and while the recipes for cherry jam and sweet shortcrust pastry are included below, you can absolutely swap them out for store bought. If you're in Australia try Careme pastry, it's fabulous!

1 quantity sweet shortcrust pastry
125g cherry jam
200g butter
200g caster sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
100g ground almonds
100g pistachios, plus 25g for decoration
30g plain flour
zest 1 lemon
butter for greasing

• lightly grease a 28cm pie tin or flan dish, preheat your oven to 180°C conventional, 160°C fan
• roll pastry to approximately 3mm thick, carefully line your flan dish, gently pressing the pastry into the corners; prick the base with a fork, line with baking paper, then fill completely with baking weights. (I have a canister of rice that I use, I've tried ceramic pastry weights, but find the small grains of rice really get into the corners to give neat edges.) Roughly trim the excess pastry, leaving about 1cm extra above the edge of your dish, this will be trimmed after the tart is baked, giving you a really clean finish
• bake pastry for 15 minutes, remove the baking weights and return to the oven for 5 minutes, or until golden, set aside to cool


• put the pistachios, ground almonds and flour into a food processor, blitz until the pistachios are finely ground
• cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, add the beaten eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition
• fold through the ground nuts, flour and lemon zest
• spread the cherry jam over the tart base, spoon the filling over the jam, spreading carefully to level
• bake for 35-40 minutes until puffed, golden, and just set in the centre
• while the tart is baking, finely chop the extra 25g pistachios, set aside
• leave the tart to cool, then using a sharp serrated knife, trim away the excess pastry
• dust with icing sugar, garnish with a couple of fresh cherries and the chopped pistachios
• serve at room temperature with cold whipped cream (it’s equally delicious slightly reheated and served with ice cream, very convenient really as this is a big tart!)

cherry jam

This recipe makes much more jam than you'll need for the tart, so store it in a sterilised jar and it will keep for months in the pantry, 3 weeks in the fridge once opened. There are many ways to sterilise jam jars, I use this method from taste.com.au.

500g pitted cherries, frozen are fine, if you go with fresh, the cherry pitter is your friend
large strip of lemon zest
juice of 1/2 lemon
500g jam sugar

• roughly chop half to two thirds of the cherries, the more you chop, the finer you jam will be
• put the whole and chopped cherries in a pan with the lemon zest and juice; bring to the boil over a medium heat, stir occasionally until the cherries are juicy and tender, likely around 15 minutes
• pop a couple of saucers into the freezer
• add the sugar to the pan, stir until dissolved, increase the heat to high and boil for 5 minutes
• take the pan off the heat, time for the wrinkle test! 
• take a saucer out of the freezer, spoon a little jam onto the cold saucer then pop it back into the freezer; retrieve your saucer after 30 seconds, gently push the jam with your finger, if it wrinkles it's ready! If not, boil the jam for another 2 minutes, re-test, repeat if necessary
• pour the hot jam into your hot jars, and seal; when cool, store in a cool dark place
• once a jar has been opened, store it in the fridge

sweet shortcrust pastry

250g plain flour, plus a little extra to flour your bench
60g icing sugar
125g cold butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten

• tip the flour and icing sugar into a food processor, pulse to combine, add the cold butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
• add the egg, pulse until the dough just comes together, lightly dust the bench with flour, turn the pastry out onto the bench and shape into a disc; wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to rest for an hour; take it out of the fridge approximately 10 minutes prior to rolling

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

strawberry and Chambord marshmallows

Summer in Sydney is a study of extremes; it's hot, bright, colourful, and noisy, with spectacular electrical storms, incredible downpours, and impossibly blue skies. It's not my season, maybe it's my english sensibilities, I love the gentle, more moderate autumn and spring, and relish the relative cool of winter. A silver lining though, for me, is definitely summer fruit; fridge cold water melon, stone fruit, cherries, mangos, their pips devoured over the sink, chins dripping, and berries, bring on the berries. 

A couple of weeks ago at the fruit market there was a tray sale, strawberries were $6 a tray, that's 3kg for six bucks, I bought 2 trays.  Six kilos is more strawberries than you might think, certainly more than I imagined, just wiping and hulling took ages! Half went into my jam pot, and just a portion of the rest into these mallows. They're packed with strawberry flavour, delicately spongy with just the right amount bounce. Homemade marshmallows are incredible, nothing like store bought, honestly, give them a go, you'll need a stand mixer and sugar thermometer, but it's plain sailing after that.

Strawberry and Chambord Marshmallows

350g strawberries
60ml Chambord liqueur (I'm new to Chambord, and it's love at first sight sip 💕)
18g powdered geletin
500g caster sugar
250ml water
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
snow sugar* for dusting

• lightly grease an 18cm by 24cm shallow cake pan and dust with snow sugar (an 18cm by 24cm pan is not essential, any pan that will give you a similar volume will be fine)

• put the strawberries in a blender and pulse to form a puree; push the puree through a sieve into a jug. You need 120ml of the sieved puree, but may have slightly more if your berries are perfectly ripe. Combine the strawberry puree with the Chambord, whisk in the gelatin, and set aside

• in a medium sized saucepan combine the caster sugar and water, cook over a gentle heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring as soon as the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the syrup reaches 125ºC on a sugar thermometer, approximately 5-8 minutes, keep a close eye on it, brushing any crystals that form on the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Once the sugar syrup reaches 125ºC, remove from the heat and add the strawberry mixture, stir until combined, take care as the mixture is seriously hot and will bubble alarmingly!

• meanwhile, using a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until frothy; gradually add the strawberry mixture, whisking continuously on medium speed until the mixture has doubled in volume, slowly decrease the speed, mixing until the bowl is just warm to touch

• pour the mixture into the cake pan, spread evenly, then dust the surface with snow sugar. Stand at room temperature for around 3 hours or until firm. Carefully turn the mallow slab onto a snow sugar dusted board, and using a very sharp knife, cut into squares; they can be as large or small as you like, I tend to cut into 36 pieces. I have a thing for super straight edges on my mallows, and have developed an annoyingly time consuming method to achieve them. If you're not that bothered, go with the sharp knife, mallow perfectionists read on... Heat a pallet knife over a flame, and quickly use the hot knife to cut the marshmallow slab in half, repeat the heating/cutting process until you have 6 equally sized strips, washing the knife between cuts. Turn your board through 90º and repeat the cutting process, turning your 6 strips into 36 mallow squares.

• whatever your cutting method, the cut edges will be sticky, so each square will need to be rolled in snow sugar.

• store in an airtight container between sheets of baking paper, keep the container in a cool place out of direct sunlight; the mallows will keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

* in Australia snow sugar is available from specialty food stores, including The Essential Ingredient, but can be substituted with a 50/50 combination of icing sugar and corn or potato starch

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

nutella chiffon cake

For you Lily! This nutella chiffon cake was my son's birthday request, it was about a month late, there were oven issues... I'm still working on the cake, it's tricky to achieve a good chocolate flavour and maintain the lightness of the sponge. So really, the cake here is just a vehicle for the frosting and ganache; the nutella buttercream was amazing, the smoothest finish I've had, and so delicious. The cake is a work in progress, please share any suggestions, I'll be back with an update soon...

chocolate chiffon

200g cake flour
30g cocoa powder
10g baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp salt
250g caster sugar
180 ml cooled, weak black coffee
125 ml canola oil
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped or 1 tsp vanilla paste
6 eggs, separated
1 extra egg white
1/2 tsp cream of tartar (not essential, but will stabilise the egg whites)
50g caster sugar

nutella swiss meringue buttercream, recipe below
cooled nutella ganache, recipe below
strawberries and ferrero rocher to decorate

serves 16

 preheat your oven to 170ºC

• combine the cake flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb soda and salt, sift into a the bowl of a stand mixer, if you have one, and with the paddle attachment mix through the 250g caster sugar 
• make a well in the centre of your flour mixture, add the cooled coffee, egg yolks, oil and vanilla extract, mix until smooth
• in another, really large bowl whisk the 7 egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar then mix until you have soft peaks, gradually add the additional 50g caster sugar, whisking until you have firm peaks and the sugar has dissolved
• fold the egg whites into the batter in three stages
• pour the batter into an ungreased, unlined angel food cake tin and bake for 55-60 minutes; check after 55 minutes, the cake should spring back when gently pressed, if not, put it back in for the extra 5 minutes
• remove the cake from the oven, and immediately invert to cool; if your tin doesn't have "feet" balance the upturned tin over a bottle, guiding the neck of the bottle through the centre tube of your pan
• when completely cool, to release the cake, run a sharp knife around the inside and tube sections of the cake tin, remove the cake leaving it sitting on the centre section of the tin; this next stage is tricky, slide a strong thread, I use dental floss, between the base of the cake and the tin, slide the string all the way around the cake, crossing each end around the tube. Invert the cake onto a turntable if you have one, or your serving plate, and put in the fridge for 15 minutes or so.

• frosting step one is the crumb coat, it uses a super thin coating of frosting to glue any loose crumbs to the cake
• starting from the top and working your way down the sides and into the hole through the centre of your cake, use an offset pallet knife to spread a layer of buttercream over your cake;  using the edge of your pallet knife or a cake scraper, gently scrape back as much of the frosting as you can leaving a super thin crumb filled layer behind
• return the cake to the fridge for at least 15 mins to set the crumb coat
• again with the offset pallet knife, cover your cake with a final thicker layer of frosting and return to the fridge for at least 15 minutes, this will firm up the frosting and help the ganache set 

• carefully pour the ganache over the top of the cake, you may need to encourage it over the sides, allow to drip, return to the fridge to set
• decorate with strawberries, hazelnuts, and chocolates of your choice
• slice giant slabs of cake with a serrated knife and enjoy
• the cake will keep covered in the fridge for 3 days

nutella swiss meringue buttercream

3 large egg whites
180g caster sugar
230g butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature

180g nutella
pinch salt
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

• combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, place over a pan of simmering water, don't let the pan touch the water; whisk constantly until the temperature reaches 72ºC 

• return the bowl to the stand mixer and whisk on medium high until the mixture cools, has doubled in size and forms stiff peaks
• change to the paddle attachment and add the butter a piece at a time, mix to incorporate each piece before adding the next; the mixture may look alarmingly curdled at times but keep mixing and it will magically come back together
• once all the butter is in, add the salt and vanilla seeds, mixing on slow until combined, finally add the nutella, again mixing slowly to combine

• the frosting should be firm enough to scoop, if it's too soft, put it in the fridge to firm up, checking in 5 minute intervals until it is ready
• buttercream will keep for a week in an air tight container in the fridge, allow to soften at room temperature before use

nutella ganache

100g nutella
60g chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
125ml cream

• finely chop the chocolate, tip into a small heatproof bowl with the nutella
• heat cream in a small pan until barely simmering, simmer for 1 minute then pour over the chocolate and nutella, stir to ensure the chocolate and nutella are covered by the cream, then let stand for 5 minutes
• stir until smooth and glossy, leave to cool