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Hold on February 7, 2011

January has passed, in a sticky blur of mango and sand. Summer is always like this for me – Christmas whizzes by in a frenzy, then I wallow through the first month of the calendar year, letting the garden, my hair and the lists of postponed stuff and phone calls grow to unmanageable proportions. At heart I’m still on school holidays in January and this feeling doesn’t dissipate, no matter how far from actually being in school. Aside from regular games of slow-motion chasey, the small one and I have mainly lain around, on the beach, in the pool, in the wild grass of our yard, and on the floor of the living room, listening to the pock-grunt of tennis and reading Moo, Ba, La La La forty hundred times or so. The few days I’ve worked have been slow and quiet, long hours of sitting with women while they breastfeed, interrupted only to help plough through the Christmas chocolates.

But now it’s February, the true start of the year. Crammed weeks of delayed appointments, maniacal list-crossing-off activity, actual work, shonky parenting* and a happy happy return to baking. Our poor, neglected oven isn’t going to know what’s hit it. Christmas brought a heavy windfall of recipe books…Jose Marechal’s Secrets of Macarons, Tim Halket’s Five Fat Hens, a book of afternoon slices to drool over (ginger cheesecake, earl grey tea custard, oh my), The Original Australian Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book (!!! clever, clever SF) and Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Cake Bible. The latter alone could keep me occupied for months, and to begin – something simple and ferociously indulgent:



Chocolate Oblivion

455 grams of your favourite dark eating chocolate, I used Old Gold which is only about 50% cocoa

225 grams of unsalted butter

300 grams of eggs (weighed without shells – 5 or 6 large)



Preheat your oven to 220 degrees celsius (200 fan forced)

Grease and line a 20cm springform tin and set aside with a roasting pan

Break up the chocolate and chop the butter roughly. Put them both into a large metal bowl over a pan of just simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Take off the heat and set aside.



Break your eggs into a large glass bowl. Get your handheld electric mixer ready. Place the bowl over a pan of just simmering water and beat the eggs on high speed until they are warm-hot and foamy. Take off the heat and continue to beat on high speed until the eggs are cool.



Fold the eggs gently into the chocolate mixture in two-three installments, folding until no streaks remain.



Pour the mixture into the prepared springform tin. Place the tin in your roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with very hot water (up to about 3 cm up the side of the cake tin).

Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes. In the meantime, butter one side of a piece of foil.

Place the foil over the cake and bake for a further ten minutes. The cake will still look fudgy in the middle – this is good.



Take the cake out of the oven and out of the water bath. Cool on a rack, in the tin, for 45-60 minutes, then refrigerate for a few hours.

When it is nicely firm, very carefully remove the springform side of the tin. You may need to gently run a palette knife between cake and tin first. Cover a plate in cling film. Invert the cake onto the covered plate, remove the base of the tin gently. Lastly, invert the cake onto a serving plate. Slice generously.


Eat. At room temperature it is silken and ever-so-slightly melty. On a hot day, straight from the fridge, it is cold and densely fudgy. We went through two cakes in a week, with a little help from the LMFs. No sugar, no flour. Really, it’s damn near a health food.


*More on this shortly.


Loophole Bingo November 28, 2010

…or how to bake at every opportunity for 24 hours, without incurring the wrath of the beloved:

Saturday, 5pm

Home on a Saturday night with no beloved, no LMFs and no pudding? Can’t go out, cos the small one is sleeping, you’ve given all your money to the chahrahprahctahr and the thought of taking off your ugg boots and going out in the rain is enough to make you want to collapse on the couch and watch fourteen hours of ABC election coverage? Then make these…

Very Moreish Coconut Puddings with Blackberry Syrup

400 grams of frozen blackberries (or fresh, it’s no biggie)

90 grams of unsalted butter, at warm room temperature

125 grams of caster sugar

2 eggs

60 grams of self-raising flour

2 tablespoons of almond meal

3 tablespoons of coconut milk

4 tablespoons of dessicated coconut

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees celsius (170 fan forced)

Butter up 5-6 small glasses/ramekins/mugs (roughly 1 cup capacity each)

Drop 5-6 blackberries in the bottom of each glass/ramekin/thingy, set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the flour, almond meal and coconut, folding until well incorporated.

Add the coconut milk and fold in until well incorporated.

Top up the glasses/ramekins/vessels with batter.

Put all the vessels on a baking tray.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until risen, golden and springy.

For the syrup –

Put the remaining blackberries, 60 grams of sugar and 1/2 a cup of water in a small-medium saucepan.

Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves.

Increase the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the berries are completely mushy and the liquid is getting syrupy.

Strain into a bowl.

Invert the puddings into bowls (you can cut the tops off the pudding before inverting, so they sit flat in the bowl, but it’s not essential).

Drizzle with syrup. Eat. Although we had none, a good dollop of cream or creme fraiche would go especially well.


*    *    *    *    *    *

Sunday, 8am

In possession of a new-to-you waffle iron, a gifted waffle recipe (thank you K!), and a beloved who wants waffles? Make these:

Chia Seed Waffles with….you guessed it – blackberry syrup

(no photos, camera batteries were busy being charged)

2 eggs, separated

~1 1/2 cups of full cream milk

2 cups of plain flour

1/2 a teaspoon of baking powder

1/4 of a cup of sugar

60 grams of butter

2 tablespoons of cold water

2 tablespoons of chia seeds

Switch on your waffle iron to heat up.

Beat your egg whites until firm peaks form. Set aside.

Beat the egg yolks and milk together briefly.

Add the sifted dry ingredients and beat until smooth.

Add the melted butter and the water. Mix to incorporate well.

Fold in the beaten egg whites…at this point your batter should be thicker than pancake batter, but not as thick as muffin mix. If you need to, thin it down with a bit of extra milk folded through.

Put 2-4 tablespoons (depending on your particular waffle iron) of batter into the waffle iron. Cook until golden and just crispy.

Drizzle with blackberry syrup, or golden syrup, or maple syrup, or any syrup really. Eat, with a generous-sized mug of tea.


*    *    *    *    *    *


Sunday, 2pm

Very taken with the coconut pudding, but a bit over the blackberry syrup? Visiting friends? Hankering for ganache? Make these….

Just Beautiful Coconut Cakes

180 grams of unsalted butter, softened

250 grams of caster sugar

3 eggs

120 grams of self-raising flour

4 tablespoons of almond meal

8 tablespoons of dessicated coconut

6 tablespoons of coconut milk

150 grams of dark eating chocolate

90 grams of cream

1/2 a teaspoon of coconut essence

Extra coconut to decorate.

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees celsius (170 fan forced)

Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Fold in the flour, almond meal and coconut, combining well.

Fold in the coconut milk, mixing until smooth.

Spoon mixture evenly between the 12 cupcake cases.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until risen, golden and springy.

While they’re cooking, start the ganache –

Melt the chocolate and cream together gently, in a small glass bowl, over just simmering water.

Stir until smooth then remove from the heat.

Stir in the coconut essence and set aside to cool and thicken, stirring occasionally.

When the cupcakes are cool and the ganache has thickened, swirl ganache generously over each cake, dusting each one with coconut immediately.



Loophole 1: Visiting gift…check

Loophole 3: Virtuous use of leftovers…check

Loophole 6: Freeing up freezer space for actual meals…check

Loophole 17: Baking on request…check

Loophole 36: Baking to accommodate previous excess baking (syrup has to go with something)…check

Loophole 83: Using up ingredients to regain use of favourite containers (not drawing a long bow at all)…check

Bingo! Yes! Over here!! Bingo bingo bingo!!!


My new best friend November 25, 2010

Is there anything chocolatey that cannot be improved by the addition of a teaspoon of peppermint essence? Locked in my current obsession for all things minty, I think not. These are certainly no exception:

Hot Damn I Love These Choc-Mint Brownies

(…so much so that they were made and eaten far too fast for photos. Just use your imagination. Or don’t waste the time – just make them. Stat.)

200 grams of dark eating chocolate, roughly chopped

165 grams of unsalted butter, chopped

1 teaspoon of peppermint essence

325 grams of caster sugar

130 grams of plain flour

3 eggs

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees celsius (150 fan forced)

Butter and line a square cake/brownie tin

In a small bowl, over just simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter together.

Stir until smooth.

Remove from the heat and stir in the peppermint essence.

Put the sugar in a medium bowl.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the sugar, mixing to combine.

Add the flour and mix to combine.

Add the eggs and mix until smooth.

Pour into your prepared tin.

Bake for 25-35 minutes. (I like them less done, rather than more, and put them in the fridge to firm up a bit. This leaves them nicely gooey and so coolly minty.)

Cool in the tin for 15 minutes or so, then turn onto a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar if you want, but it’s by no means essential.

In view of the current rate of essence consumption I’ve decided to make my own. This recipe looks like a goer. As soon as the torrential rain eases up, I’ll be out to pick some mint. Watch this space……


And so the world is divided November 18, 2010

Inspiration seems in short supply today. It could be that I’m just tired and distracted. Or it’s possible I inhaled a little too much bleach vapour in the midst of my cleaning frenzy. Either way, I’m finding it hard to get too exercised about the media coverage of Significant Progress to the Gay Marriage Cause. Perhaps I should be more impressed, but at the moment the most I can muster is ‘meh’. So politicians are being encouraged to consult their constituents? Was that not always their job?

In my relentless hunt for ideas I conducted a poll. It was brief. In an ad break during her Stories, I asked the beloved what she thought of the news.

*    *    *

Someone passed a motion in Parliament? Ha!

No, not that kind of motion. The Greens passed a motion…

A green motion!! Hahaha!

Gah. Politicians are going to consult their constituents, you know? Ask their opinions.

Oh. Good. Shhh now, my stories are back on.

*    *    *

Yup, we are political animals here.

Much as the world is divided between the gays and the ‘dinosausers’, so it is between those who love icing and those who painstakingly scrape it off every slice of cake they meet, or just eat it and then whine about its excessive rich/sugary/creamy/abundant-ness. Like the beloved. Possibly it’s fortunate that she’s not as in love with icing as I am. If she was we might both spiral into a teeth-aching, nerve-jangling, eye-popping diabetic fit by dusk each day. And small would be raised on a diet of buttercream and ganache.

Anyway, by some unintended stroke of genius, I managed to make an iced cupcake that the beloved loves.


Miniature Minty Cakes

100 grams of plain flour

20 grams of cocoa

140 grams of caster sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

a pinch of salt

40 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature

120 mls of full fat milk

1 egg

1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla extract


150 grams of dark eating chocolate

90 grams of cream

3/4 of a teaspoon of peppermint essence

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 fan forced).

Line a 12 hole muffin tray with cupcake cases.

You can use a freestanding mixer, or handheld electric beaters.

Put the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a large bowl. Mix on slow speed until everything is well combined and a sandy consistency.

Whisk the milk, egg and vanilla extract together.

Continuing to beat on low speed, slowly pour about half the milk mixture into the flour mixture.

Increase the speed to medium and add the rest of the milk mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary.

Mix until smooth, without overdoing it.

Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 cupcake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes. When done they will be risen and springy.

Transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

While they are cooling, make the icing:

Break up the chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl. Add the cream.

Heat gently over a small saucepan of just simmering water until the chocolate melts.

Take off the heat and stir until smooth.

Add the peppermint essence, stirring to combine. Leave to cool and thicken, stirring regularly.

By the time the ganache thickens to a spreadable consistency, the cakes will be cool.

Swirl generously over each little cake.


Not really a cupcake. Not just a dry, sponge-like vehicle for excessive, garnished buttercream frosting (yes yes, I know they’re not all like that). These are tiny devil’s food cakes, moist and flavourful. Like a Mint Slice biscuit, but bigger and better.


Recipe catch up: Part 3 November 13, 2010

Or how to accidentally eat one’s body weight in rice in one day:

Lunch – Due to tragedy of zero leftovers at home, eat emergency cafeteria lunch of sushi hand rolls

Dinner – Scarf down large amount of heavenly chilli eggplant, with rice

Afternoon tea –

Rice Pudding Pie

otherwise known as Tamara Milstein’s Torta di Riso, from her very excellent book Bake Your Cake & Eat It Too

120 grams of rice flour

130 grams of plain flour

50 grams of pistachio kernels

70 grams of brown sugar

100 grams of white sugar

220 grams of butter, cold

2 large eggs

750 mls of full fat milk

160 grams of arborio rice

4 egg yolks

zest of 1 large lemon

2 tablespoons of almond flakes/slivers

1/2 a teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/2 a teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Put the rice flour, plain flour, pistachios, and a pinch of salt in your food processor.

Whizz until the nuts are roughly chopped.

Add the brown sugar, 120 grams of the butter and 1 egg.

Whizz until combined.

Remove the dough and knead very briefly, just to bring it together.

Shape into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Put the milk and rice in a medium saucepan with a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer for half an hour or until the rice is tender and the milk absorbed. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a small bowl, combine 75 grams of the white sugar, 50 grams of the remaining butter, the 4 egg yolks, lemon zest and almonds and mix very well.

Stir this mixture into the rice.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 fan forced)

Butter a 22cm springform cake tin.

Get your pastry out of the fridge. Roll it out between two sheets of baking paper, rolling until it is about 5mm thick and large enough to line the entire cake tin.

Carefully line the tin, patching any torn or split areas.

Pour the rice mixture into the pastry shell.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining egg, butter and sugar with the nutmeg and cinnamon.

Drizzle this over the surface of the rice mixture. You can gently swirl it in with a fork to spread it across the whole cake.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until nicely set and golden.

Allow to cool in the tin, then gently remove to slice and serve.

We ate this cool and by itself, which was super tasty. But I suspect it would be even lovelier with some cream whipped up with a smidge of nutmeg. And it may be drawing a long bow to suggest that this falls within Loophole number 3, but we did have an awful lot of rice in the cupboard. Surely it can’t last forever?


Recipe catch up: Part 1 November 12, 2010

Filed under: Beautiful baking — titchandboofer @ 12:33 am
Tags: , , , ,

Happily, amongst the work and the surprisingly long job of potting out my eleventy-hundred tomato seedlings, I have still been baking. Following last weekend’s Serious Conversation about Excessive Baking And Not Being Supportive, it’s all had to fit the Loophole Criteria.

First up –

Beloved’s Hated Lemon Cupcakes

120 grams of plain flour

150 grams of caster sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

Zest of three lemons, finely grated

40 grams of unsalted butter, at warm room temperature

120 mls of milk (I used goats milk, as we had a lot of it, with a very tasty, non-goaty, result)

1 egg



250 grams of icing sugar, sifted

80 grams of unsalted butter, at warm room temperature

Zest of two lemons, finely grated

25 mls of milk (again, goat is fine, as is any other full fat milk)


Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (160 fan forced)

Line a 12 hole muffin-tin with paper cases, or if you’re using the straight sided paper cases that hold their shape, just put them on a baking tray.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, zest and butter in a medium size bowl.

Mix on low speed with handheld electric beaters until everything is well combined and a slightly sandy consistency.

Continue mixing on low speed and gradually pour in the milk, mixing until just combined.

Add the egg and mix until smooth.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases, filling them 1/2 – 2/3 full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and springy.

Leave to cool completely.

For the icing:

Using your handheld beaters, beat the butter, icing sugar and zest on medium-slow speed until well combined.

Continue beating on slow speed, gradually adding the milk.

When the milk is completely incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until pale and fluffy, for about 5 minutes.

Swirl over the cooled cupcakes.

Don’t be fooled by their name. You will love them. They are moist and tangy, and very generously iced without being cavity-inducingly sweet. Am still sulking about having to give them away.



The Ghost of Chocolate fixes past November 3, 2010

Trying to get at the keyboard under the mound of random stuff on our desk, I unearthed two recipe books. When I got over the distracted drooling and planning for desserts of the future (coconut mousse! dondurma kaymalki!), I remembered I had dumped them here to post from. Apparently two weeks ago I must have been on some kind of quest to plough through as many 250 gram blocks of Whittaker’s 72% as I could get my hands on. And who can blame me?

Unadulterated Brownies

courtesy of the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, largely unphotographed due to general rushedness and distraction

200 grams of dark eating chocolate, roughly chopped

175 grams of unsalted butter

325 grams of caster sugar

130 grams of plain flour

3 eggs

icing sugar to dust

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees celsius (150 fan forced).

Butter and line a brownie tin (I use a square cake tin, from which I get about 16 brownies, 12 if I’m feeling greedy)

Melt the chocolate and butter gently in a bowl over just simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth.

Remove from the heat.

Add sugar and stir to combine.

Add the flour and stir to combine.

Add the eggs and mix until thick and smooth.

Spread into the prepared tin and bake for about 30 minutes. They should be just dry on top but still soft in the middle. Less is always more for brownies.

Leave to cool, dust with icing sugar and eat.

These are a dense, fudgy delight. One is never enough. And you can eat them with…

Very Chocolate Ice Cream

courtesy of Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis’s ice ceam and iced desserts

4 egg yolks

6 tablespoons of sugar

1 teaspoon of cornflour

350 mls of full fat milk

350 mls of thickened cream

250 grams of dark eating chocolate

Put the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a medium bowl.

Whisk until thick and foamy.

Prepare a bowl over a bowl of iced water. Set aside.

Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and bring it just to the boil.

Gradually whisk the milk into the egg mixture.

Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring continually until thick enough to coat the back of your wooden spoon.

No wonder I was making ice-cream…how gorgeous was the weather? And how idyllic the view from our stove. I love finding photos like this, a reminder of the moments of domestic contentedness that make up for all the ragged, weary, shouty times.

Take off the heat and pour into the bowl that you’ve set aside.

Break up 210 grams of the chocolate and stir this into the custard until melted.

Set aside while it cools.

Whisk the cream into soft peaks and fold into the chocolate custard mixture.

Churn in an ice-cream machine (begged, borrowed, stolen, owned, just grab one somehow) until scoopable.

Chop the remaining 40 grams of chocolate as roughly or finely as you prefer and throw into the ice cream machine at the last minute. Churn for a few minutes to combine.

Transfer to a 1.5 litre airtight container and freeze for a few hours.

This requires no further description. Just eat it.