Fig and Olive Oil Cake

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I truly believe that there are few things in the world that a cup of tea and piece of cake cannot fix. Bad day at work, cup of tea and cake make it better. Kids channelling the devil, tea and cake to the rescue. I’m quite sure many of the world’s conflict could be chatted out over a cup of team and a piece of cake.

I was recently given a bag of figs. These figs were bordering on over ripe and were sweet and soft. I felt rather lucky as they are so expensive at the shops and never as nice as home gown as they are so fragile. Given they were pretty ripe I set to working out what I could do with them. Of course being the baking addict I am I was like let’s make a cake with them. Out came the recipe books and internet searches before I settled on this recipe. I was a bit hesitant a you 1/2 bake the cake then add the figs, but it totally worked. It was moist, citrusy and figgy and perfect with a cup of tea.

Fig and Olive Oil Cake – recipe adapted from Shutterbean.com

1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup ground almonds
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
grated zest of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup extra olive oil
1/3 cup milk
5 figs, cut into quarters
1 1/2 tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease a loaf tin and line with baking paper.

Mix together the flour, ground almonds, and baking powder in a bowl.

Using a whisk attachment in a mixer whisk the sugar and eggs until fluffy. Add the citrus zest and juice, then stir in the olive oil and milk. Gently fold in the flour mixture then pour the batter into a prepared tin and bake in the oven for approx. 40 minutes.

Push the figs into the top of the loaf. Drizzle with honey and bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the top is caramelized and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool fully in tin, then remove from the tin.

Brew cup of tea, cut a large slice of cake and enjoy

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Saturday is for pancakes, Sunday is for bacon and eggs

bacon and eggs

I love on the weekends having time to make a really nice big breakfast, most people who know me know that in our household pancakes rule the breakfast choices on Saturday. But Sunday, well Sunday is for bacon and eggs.

One Sunday recently we sat down for bacon and eggs and assorted accompaniments and I looked at the plate and started to think about what makes the perfect bacon and egg breakfast.

Obliviously it starts with the bacon. Good quality Australian bacon is a MUST. My butcher does pretty good bacon, all made on site, the rashes are not too thin and not to thick and taste amazing. The only flaw is that they are short cut bacon rashes and my husband in particular misses the crispy fattiness of the middle bacon rashes.

Eggs well it’s a given they should be free range, and free range as in really free range, not oh look we meet some flimsy guidelines so can stamp free range on the carton, but ones that come from a farm that actually give their chickens access to free range. We are lucky that we have our own chickens who give us the best eggs. How you cook the eggs is up to you, we prefer to have ours scrambled. Usually I whisk up some eggs with a bit of cream, melt some butter in a saucepan, add eggs and stir with via wooden spoon till done. I’ve even been known the add in some pesto and fetta too.

Tomatoes, now some people grill this or fry them up, but I prefer to drizzle them in olive oil and sprinkle some fresh basil on them and roast them. Obliviously if you are doing whole or even halved tomatoes this takes a bit of time and planning, but I’m not an organised person so usually just throw some cherry tomatoes in the oven as they roast in no time.

For me spinach is a must (for husband it’s a avoid at all costs). Fav way to cook it for breakfast is to sauté it in butter and an whole garlic clove (discard garlic when serving)

And lastly there needs to be toast. Preferably thick cut sourdough toast, with butter, real proper fantastic tasting butter. Others in the family also put things like, honey, jam vegemite etc. on their toast. Not me, when it comes to bacon and eggs I like it with just plain butter.

Others might add sausages or mushroom or even a has brown and I’ve been known to add corn fritter to the list of things on the plate. But what’s above well I think that makes a pretty perfect bacon and egg breakfast.

Champagne Ice Cream

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I love champagne, there I’ve said it.

Maybe it’s clichéd, lady in her mid 30’s loving champagne, but it’s quite hard to find a bad champagne. Don’t get me wrong there are some average ones out there, but hardly any I’d class as bad. Plus it’s so celebratory drinking it. Perfect for so many occasions, catching up with friends, tick, enjoying pre dinner drinks, tick, Christmas day drinks, tick.

Last year before Christmas I became obsessed with the idea of making champagne ice cream. I had it in my head would go well with Christmas pudding. So after a fair few attempts (some ending in scrambled eggs) I made a good batch, taste tested it on my work colleagues, then made some for Christmas day, where I served it up with the Christmas pudding and……..

It went amazingly well with Christmas pudding.

There’s just one thing about the champagne ice cream, it requires 1/2 cup of champagne, this leaves an awful lot of a bottle left over. I’m sure like me you don’t want to waste it, so enjoy the rest of the champagne whilst the ice cream is chilling.

Champagne Ice Cream – adapted from Gourmet Traveller

1/12 cups cream

1/2 cup champagne (like most things related to cooking and wine, don’t use anything too cheap and nasty)

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

Combine cream and champagne in a sauce pan and just being to boil.

Meanwhile whisk egg yolks and sugar in bowl sitting over simmering water, whisk until pale and creamy.

Add eggs and sugar mixture to cream and champagne mixture. Whisk to combine. Heat over a medium heat, stirring with spoon, unlit thickened and coating back of spoon. Be careful with this as if you take it too far, it will scramble the eggs in the mixture.

one thickened put into bowl (not glass or ceramic) and put bowl into cold water and stir for a couple of minutes (you want to cool it down and prevent further cooking).

Once mixture is no longer hot, pop into fridge until cold. then churn in ice cream maker, if you don’t have an ice cream maker, that’s ok just beat it with beater, op in freezer 30 min, then beat again, repeat 3-4 times. Freeze until fully frozen.

Serve with Christmas pudding, Enjoy.

Part of the Sweet Adventure Blog Hop Sweets For Santa Hosted by the Hungry Australian

SABH 12 12 Santa 150 Fig, Raspberry & Ginger Ice Cream Cake (Sweets for Santa)

375 ml (1½ cups)                     pouring cream
                    125 ml (½ cup)                     Champagne
                    4                     egg yolks
                    110 gm (½ cup)                     caster sugar

Candy Cane Infused Vodka

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas (cue music)

No really it is, there are decorations up in all the shops and here in the city I live in Christmas has been heralded in by the annual Christmas pageant which is one of the biggest, if not the biggest Christmas pageants in the world. Its huge and this year over 350 000 people turned out to watch it (that’s like 1/3 of the city’s population).

Tradition growing up was that we put the Christmas tree up on pageant day, and I’ve continued this tradition with my kids. We blast out the Christmas music (much to my husband’s horror), and set to work putting up and decorating the tree and much of the house. We even had our outside lights up on the same day. Whilst that sounds impressive it’s really 2 strands of solar powered lights which over time have become entangled with a climbing rose and wisteria so we can’t actually pack them up, so all actually do is flick the on switch.

One of my new Christmas traditions is to make candy cane infused vodka. I got the idea to make it whilst listening to the Joy the Baker podcast and Joy and co host Tracey were talking about making infused vodka. I thought candy cane infused vodka would make an amazing present. I was wrong on 2 counts with this. I envisioned little jar of candy canes surrounded by vodka, reality the vodka essentially melts the candy canes within hours so its becomes a pink, sticky vodka mixture. The second reason is the smell. The permit in the candy canes combines with the vodka to make a scent one what one might tactfully call super charged mouth wash. I’ve totally put you off making it now haven’t I, well stick with me on this.

Ok so it didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but not being one to waste vodka I put out the call on facebook as to what I could drink it with. A very wise and knowledgeable friend suggested apple juice. So I bought some apple juice and mixed a shot of the candy cane vodka in with a glass of apple juice and hello new favourite Christmas drink. The peppermint worked really well with the apple juice. I’, thinking about this year taking it a bit further and making full cocktail using the vodka, so I’m all up for suggestions on things to mix with the candy cane vodka.

I’m not going to give you a recipe for this as it’s so easy. You just need a glass jar, vodka ( go with mid range stuff) and candy canes. Simply put candy canes in jar pour in vodka so it comes almost all the way up to the top of candy canes (I used 7 full sized candy canes in a 500ml jar then just poured in vodka till almost up to top of candy canes), put lid on leave in dark place for 3-4 weeks shaking every couple of days and ta do, candy cane vodka.

Cinnamon Cake

I’ve been experiencing a bit of meh in the kitchen recently. I really haven’t had that much desire to cook/bake. I mean I’ve been cooking dinners and making lunches etc. but I’ve been doing this more because it has to be done then a burning desire to cook. Perhaps life’s just been to chaotic and tiring I’m not sure what was behind it but this week I got my baking mojo back. I’ve made a couple of cakes and have been pursing recipe books feeling enticed to bake and cook other things. It’s good to be back in my kitchen happy place.

One of the cakes I made is a cinnamon cake. It has a layer of chocolate and cinnamon sugar in the middle and chocolate icing and was really really delicious.

Cinnamon Cake – recipe adapted from Dorrie Greenspan’s Baking from my home to yours

1 1/4 + 2 tbls cups of sugar

1 tbls + 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 3/4 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup milk

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

125g + 2 tbls butter, melted

90g dark chocolate chopped

preheat oven to 180 degrees, grease a square cake tin.

stir 2 tbls sugar, 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon together

whisk together flour, baking powder and remaining cinnamon. In another bowl mix together eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix milk mixture into flour mixture.

Fold in butter. it will look like it won’t mix together but just keep gently folding it in. it will end up a nice shiny batter.

Pour 1/2 batter in cake tin. Sprinkle chocolate over batter, the sprinkle cinnamon sugar. Top with remaining batter.

Bake approx. 40 minutes or until done (skewer will come out clean). Cool in tin 15 mins then turn out onto cooling rack.

Icing

180g dark chocolate

2 1/2 tbl butter softened and cut into pieces.

heat chocolate until it’s almost all melted (I do this in short 30 sec bursts in microwave). Stir in butter, finish melting chocolate, you don’t want it really melted and runny, so if it’s like that just leave it for a few minutes so it’s a bit thicker and easier to work with.. Spread on top of cooled cake. leave to harden up at room temp.

Raspberry Cream Powder Puffs

I’ve really been wanting to make jam tarts. I gave it a go earlier this year with pretty average results. Now on that particular occasion I should have taken it as an omen as I made them for a picnic at the moonlight cinema where on the night we went we got drenched by rain.

Given the failure with my first go at baking jam tarts it’s taken me a while to get up the courage again, but when I saw the theme for this month’s Sweet Adventures blog hop was high tea I thought yes, I small conquer jam tarts. But alas it was not meant to be, as while I was flicking through cookbooks looking for recipes I came across a recipe for mulberry cream powder puffs (or are they sponge kisses?), Mulberries are in season at the moment and dotted all round my neighbourhood are mulberry bushes hanging over front fences laden with fruit. I’ll admit I’ve sampled some of the mulberries hanging over fences but in this case didn’t actually have any. While it crossed my mind to go mulberry picking I thought I might look a bit odd wandering around the neighbourhood stealthy picking mulberries. So I decided to make these powder puffs with raspberries instead as I had some in the freezer.

They were amazing, very high tea worthy, light, delicate, pretty and delicious.

Raspberry Cream Powder Puffs –  recipe adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly Baking Day

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbls cornflour

2 tbls plain flour

2 tbls self raising flour

1/2 cup cream

1 tbls icing sugar

1/2 cup of raspberries (or berries of choice)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease two 12 hole shallow patty pans

Beat eggs and sugar until thick pale and creamy.

Triple sift flours then add the egg mixture. Carefully fold in flour. Don’t be to gung ho or else you’ll knock the air out of the mixture.

Drop tablespoons of mixture on to patty pan holes.

Bake 12 mins. Once done turn onto cooling rack.

If like me you only had 1 shallow patty tin you’ll need to wash it, dry it re grease it and bake the second batch.

Once the powder puffs are cool, whip the cream and icing sugar together until soft peaks form. Gently fold in raspberries. If using frozen berries which you have defrosted be really gently otherwise they’ll fall apart if you are too rough mixing them in.

Sandwich 2 powder puffs together with raspberry cream, repeat with other. Dust with icing sugar.

Make a cup of tea to go with them, hide form children and enjoy

Sweet Adventures October 2012 - High Tea

Part of the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop – High Tea host by Le Delicieux

Biscuits – roll them out, cut them up into shapes kind

Right it’s the second week of school holidays here.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had time off from work these holidays so I’ve been with the kids every day of the holidays. It’s been lovely to spend time with the kids, but when you’re peppered by chorus of I’m bored, what can I do, plus add one autistic child thrown out of routine into the mix and the 2 weeks can seem long time.

So in order to combat the boredom these holidays we’ve been making the most of this lovely spring bordering on summer weather and doing lots of outside stuff. We’ve been hiking to see waterfalls and as a bonus saw koalas, been on waterslides, been to the beach, gardened together, had picnics, visited play grounds. But we’ve also had some indoor time too doing arts and crafts and cooking in the kitchen. We’ve made butter from scratch, baked cakes and made biscuits. I made these at the kids request as they wanted a biscuit they could write their names with. So I pulled out my stock standard rollout and cut up shapes biscuit recipe and out came our newly acquired alphabet biscuit cutters and we made biscuits.

I love the smell of butter and vanilla and all the ingrediants created a very tasty dough.

Roll out, cut out biscuits – recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson How to be a Domestic Goddess

175g butter at room temp

200g caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

400g flour

1 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.

Beat in eggs one at a time then beat in vanilla

Mix together flour and baking powder and add into wet ingredients. Mix until dough starts to form. I usually tip it out onto a kitchen bench while it’s almost a bit crumbly and then shape into 2 discs. wraps each disc in cling wrap and place in fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees

Once chilled its ready to roll out. I roll mine out between 2 lightly floured pieces of baking paper and roll till about 1/2 cm thick. cut out into desired shapes using biscuit cutters. left over dough can be reworked together and rolled out again.

Place shapes on baking paper lined tray and bake for approx 10-15 mins, or until lightly browned. leave to cool on trays for about 5 mins before moving to a cooling rack.