It’s Autumn, and finally the temperature in Melbourne has dropped a little!
I was lucky enough to receive a windfall of Barlett pears from my neighbour, however I noticed that the markets are full of these pears at $1 a kilo, so it was obviously a bumper year for them this year!
I’ve had my eye on this flavour combination for a while and had a couple of ideas that I wanted to throw together. Hope you enjoy it!
‘Chocolate beetroot cake,’ has been a phrase that has both intrigued and repulsed me for YEARS! No, I just couldn’t do it. So many opportunities to do a trial and so many reasons to not go there. Please, don’t get me wrong, I am a big beetroot fan in its many of its guises; most importantly; a burger is no burger of mine without it. But, no matter how many people said a beetroot chocolate cake was all kinds of wonderful, I just couldn’t make the leap….until today.
When I decided to listen to my family and post reviews of the recipes I tested, I knew there were 2 recipes that I have avoided for decades yet, never been able to let go of.
Time to make the plunge; this Moist Chocolate Beet Cake recipe is originally by Nigel Slater but I found it via David Lebovitz website. I followed the recipe to the letter, although I did not have an 8 inch springform so used a 7 inch and had batter left over. You definitely need an 8 inch and in fact I probably could have used a 9 inch pan.
“A beautifully textured cake, full of deep chocolate flavour and just enough sweetness to balance the bitterness of the cocoa. If you like chocolate and beetroot paired, this is a spectacular recipe! For the adventurous, definitely try it, you might find you enjoy it.”
Do I have a good recipe for…
Gluten free substitution suitable. I would feel happy to bake this cake with a gluten free flour substitute. It may have a slightly gummy feel to it though. Another option would be to substitute half almond meal and half gluten free flour. I feel all almond meal would change the texture too much.
Unrefined sugar substitution suitable. This cake would actually take on a whole new complexity of flavour using coconut sugar or rapadura sugar. The caramel flavours of these sugars would really give you a lovely depth of flavour. To avoid grittiness, process the sugar until it is finer before you use them. Raw castor sugar or Stevia would also work.
Recipe as written, is nut free.
Not dairy free. The flavour that is added by this amount of butter would make it difficult to change out for anything else.
What would I change? As a chocolate beet cake it was beautiful, I wouldn’t change it at all. Although, I found the flavour of beetroot had mellowed even more after 2-3 days.Since I am a big believer of allowing chocolate cakes time to develop in flavour, I would even consider making it 2 days ahead of serving.
I personally, would consider cutting the beetroot with some green apple to help smooth the transition between chocolate and beetroot. But hey, that’s just me!
To ‘Bliss’ it, I would serve it with sour cream on the side to give it a punchier flavour and a creamier accompaniment. Creme fraiche was a little bit delicate in flavour and texture for me and I didn’t really think the poppy seeds did anything for it. I would consider a really airy cream cheese frosting for it as well, but it would definitely have to be whipped within an inch of its life!
Wow, so there it is; Nigel Slater’s Moist Chocolate and Beet Cake. What a great start!
I hope you have enjoyed my first recipe review, and found it useful? Would love to hear what you think.
See you next time 😉 X
PS if you are looking to get a springform pan, it is definitely worth spending a little bit more money to get one that won’t leak!
This is a link to Amazon.com, for a particularly highly rated tin by Kaiser, that won’t break the bank.
Trials and tribulations, we all have them; they never stop coming at us.
But, when we go looking for trials…well, that is another matter altogether! Usually, I am not expecting tribulations to come along with these trials though 🙂
I get asked for recipes, A LOT! And, since the only way I actually find good recipes is by trialling them, I thought you might like to see what I trial, how they turn out and how I rate them.
In fact, the internet is so choc-a-block full of recipes that it is nearly impossible for you to know if they are really any good so, if you have any recipes that you have had your eye on and you would like me to trial and rate, send them through to0! I’ll pick and choose some to bake up and post.
I’m also going to pop a little tick box section about whether the recipe is, or can, substitute ingredients for;
I have yet to come across a really good substitute for egg so at this point I don’t feel confident to add that to the list. (if you have any recipes you would like me to trial for eggless cake, PLEASE shoot it through! I’ve trialled some really bad ones blech!!!)
I am aiming to post my first recipe review on Saturday, and I would love your feedback!.
Allen’s Jaffas, staple of all Aussie kid’s lolly bags; that was all this cake was going to be about.Simple to make, accessible and relatable, that’s what we want, isn’t it?
But, as I wandered around the market, all I could see were ‘slurp-alicious’, juicy, sweet navel oranges. Fresh juice and zest with Dutch cocoa, were always going to be a part of a Jaffa cake but the more I thought about it the more I needed to make some home made, fresh orange juice jelly to give it zing. I smothered it all in dark chocolate ganache and KAPOW :), I had it.
Rich, fudgy, full of real, fresh, flavours.
Now I had caked myself into a corner; with all this real, home made style flavour and texture; how was I going to incorporate my bag of supermarket lollies? Jaffas are most notable as being the confection of choice in the day, to be rolled down cinema aisles (yes, pre-carpet!) and thrown at people from the balconies?! Besides eat the whole lot myself I just couldn’t see how I was going to use them.
Please don’t get me wrong, I love my supermarket lollies, or else I wouldn’t have bought them to make the cake in the first place, but I was feeling really stuck now.
As I was playing around, a little skirt of Jaffas started building up around the cake and suddenly….
I thought of Josephine Baker!
Her incredible style, grace and beauty contrasted with her sense of humour and willingness to do (and wear) the bizarre and ridiculous; the idea just somehow seemed to work with this juxtaposition of home made and commercial flavours and textures.
Call me mad, but I topped the cocoa dusted cake with a little kiss curl of Jaffas and some pretty flowers, and thought it worked great! All in the Josephine Baker tradition of beauty and artistic expression through the quirky, and the contrasting.
Bliss’ delicious Josephine Baker Jaffa Cake, what do you think Jo Jo?
Feel free to drop me a comment if you would like me to post the recipe!
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Once upon a time, there was an innocent, novice, bread baker who started to notice a little chill in the air. The days began to grow shorter, and the leaves on the trees turned yellow. She knew Autumn had arrived, and those long cold days of Winter were only just around the corner.
As always, her thoughts turned to food. She reminisced fondly of the previous Winter; great steaming bowls of veggie packed soups, served with toasted slices of sourdough bread, mmmmm. That simple combination made for delicious and healthy lunches, while fulfilling the comfort factor that was required to satisfy her soul in the middle of Winter, even when served over the stainless steel bench of the staff cafeteria.
But wait, a marvellous thought came to our idealistic baking heroine! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to bake her own sourdough bread, warm and inviting, ready to be sliced and toasted, to serve with nourishing bowls of goodness ladled from great steaming pots. Her minds eye could see the great soup vat sitting atop the old wood fired, kitchen stove, wafting steam and emanating wonderful aromas, that seemed to be an invisible invitation to all and sundry; “Come, pull up a chair around the great wooden table and sup ’til you are filled.” A truly vivid imagination does our innocent bread baker have, given that she knows full well only 2 people in her entire extended family of 10, will come anywhere close to eating sourdough bread with soup for a meal. (and, she has no such wood fired stove!)
But, our heroine is nothing if not tenacious. Her single minded determination, to make a sourdough bread that she felt was of standard, led her to reach her hand into the dark recesses of the fridge and pull out a sourdough starter that had taken up residence in the back of the fridge.
Oh what a sad, sorry and *’hooch’ drowned sight that starter was! Our novice bread baker had neglected the poor starter due to ignorance (and a punishing work/family schedule!), and was immediately faced with a long, slow road to try and breathe life back into the struggling mass of living beings she had so cheerfully thrown together several months before.
She dutifully fed and watered said mess, and waited…and waited. Not surprisingly, in hindsight, nothing much happened.
*Hooch is the liquid that separates from the starter.
Many, many websites were read, to find the answer to her dilemma, but it was all so confusing!
One writer wrote of the confusion for novice sourdough bakers being that they keep too much starter. Our innocent baker would say that the crux of the confusion for novices is that there is too much freedom in the world of sourdough bread!
What is the one best way to feed a starter? The one best recipe? The one best technique? The one best flour?
It doesn’t exist, of course!
The whole point of sourdough bread is that it is baking bread using only natural yeast, as the ancients did. Which ancients are they, our intrepid heroine asked? Whichever, bread eating ancient civilisation, you may wish to poke a stick at, is the general answer!
So, in her Zen sourdough moment, when the light finally penetrated through the fog, the answer was revealed to her. All techniques, all cultural differences, and all things are equal. You need to find your own path.
The innocent little baker, was delighted! She was free, free to be herself; to learn and create.
Oh, you should have seen her scouring websites with renewed vigour in order to understand the science, trying to digest the ramblings of water and flour ratios. Wrapping her head around the intricacies of activating a fridge bound starter, and since she is actually a biologist at heart; throwing herself into experiments to mark the timing of growth and visually interpreting the different stages of her starter sponge.
Then, one afternoon, she stumbled upon the fact, that it is traditional (somewhere or another) to name your starter. Of course…it is a living thing after all!
It was actually an easier task than she had imagined. She had read of people giving their aspirating, wet, doughy lumps, such uncouth names as, “Creature” or “Thing” and no matter how she considered it, that train of thought just didn’t seem right to her. In a flash of genius, over a hot cup of tea, she realized that her starter was;
born of white flour and *honey, with a little help from commercial yeast
a pain in her arse
that she had no idea how to make it happy
it had taken a considerable amount of investment on her behalf to learn about its moods
it took forever to get ready when she needed it
it was refined and didn’t smell too bad 😉
and, that no matter all its shortcomings, she loved it!
*Honey is a stupid choice, as it is an antimicrobial and we are trying to grow yeast and bacteria! Who came up with that recipe?
“Princess” was an obvious choice 🙂
Princess has now leavened (slowly, ‘though successfully) 4 loaves of mild and refined white, sourdough bread to the bakers great delight! Lovely toasted and perfect for soup, yes, there was success for our happy baker!
PS: For those who may be interested, I am noting down a few things that I learned about feeding and starting Princess, I hope it helps you in your journey, and if not, at least I have it all written down for my own reference!!
To feed only Keep 30g of Princess and throw the rest away Mix in 30g of water, incorporating plenty of air Mix in 24g of plain flour and 6g of rye flour Leave to sit on bench for at least an hour Refrigerate
To build up enough Princess for baking Take Princess out of the fridge 2 nights before you wish to bake Empty all of Princess out into large bowl Mix in 65g water, incorporating plenty of air Mix in 65g plain flour Cover loosely and leave overnight
Next morning Mix in 125g water, incorporating plenty of air Mix in 125g plain flour Cover loosely and leave for the day
Up to 250g of Princess is ready to be mixed into bread recipe to be rested over night!
Spoon 30g of Princess into clean jar and feed according to feed only instructions, ready for next bake.
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I’m so excited, I can’t breathe and yet it is still a month away….give me back Game of Thrones….puhleeeeese.
(Sorry, I needed to keep that original sentence in, even though the new season started 3 weeks ago! Sometimes, nothing but pure passion can really reflect a moment in time!)
I have been wanting to put together an inspired dessert since the last season ended and no matter how I cut it. I couldn’t stop thinking about John Snow. Okay, young, handsome, committed to the greater cause, and just a touch innocent, I am sure that had nothing to do with my choice…at all!
This dessert came to me completely instinctually, brandied dates and chocolate just kept coming up as the heart, so I went with it. Dusky and warm with a distinctly individual sweetness, mmm I can see how a little bit of Master Snow has crept into my foodie subconscious!
Wrap it all in an innocent and meltingly, smile inducing, butterscotch pudding, you know, the kind that puts a little smile on your face just thinking about it? You know, the same feelings, that your first crush used to give you?
Ha ha ha! Let’s give it a go then, I don’t see how it can’t work 🙂
I know that there is nothing medieval about this recipe at all, in fact the base pudding recipe is so common you could find it on a million websites (ok, yes I changed it just a tiny bit!). But, who cares when this recipe is so easy, you can make it, dish it out and curl up on your couch, just in time to revel in adding a whole extra layer of enjoyment to watching this great epic!
John Snow Pudding Recipe
4 dried dates
1-2 tablespoons of good quality brandy
approx 150g 50% cocoa dark chocolate, chopped
Pudding 1 cup self raising flour 2/3 cup brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 60g melted butter 1/2 cup milk
Sauce 2 tablespoons golden syrup 1.2 cups water 30g butter
Preheat oven to 170 Celsius.
Soak chopped dates in brandy for about 20 minutes and place into the base of 4 greased ramekins.
Place all pudding ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Stir through chopped chocolate.
Divide pudding mix into the 4 ramekins
Place all sauce ingredients into a small saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until butter has melted.
Pour sauce over the back of a spoon, onto the pudding mix. Equally divide sauce into the 4 ramekins.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes.
Take it out of the oven and spoon a dollop of triple cream on top.
Fluff your cushions, grab a spoon, make sure your remote control is within reach, turn on Game of thrones, take your first mouthful…now you know!
John Snow Chocolate and Brandied dates, Butterscotch Pudding mmmmmm 🙂
Brrrriiiiiioche, even the act of saying the word is sexy and indulgent. It was the kind of bread my mother turned her nose up at, “too rich, too much butter….”, and if that is your belief, this post is not for you. However, if like me, you believe those phrases were invented purely to pique your interest, please, come into my parlour!
I had dreamed of brioche, and fantasized about it’s buttery delights long before it was available here in Melbourne. At that time, I could only use my imagination to envisage how magical this egg and butter enriched, fluffy bun must be. I would, as I grew, be able to travel halfway across the city to buy croissants, freshly baked, by a real French baker, but being ever so entranced by my croissants, I never did ask to buy a brioche! It would be many years until I would be brave enough to try my hand at baking bread, and since I never fancied myself as any good, I always left the brioche of my fantasies, right where it had always been, only in my dreams.
If I had followed my food dreams as a teen, I certainly would have apprenticed as a patissier. When I look back, the number of cookbooks I picked up when I was younger, and the number of recipes I tried to emulate astounds me. Yes, a ‘can do’ attitude will lead you to mistakes and disappointment, as I discovered when I tried to make my own croissants at the age of 16, in the middle of a hot Melbourne Summer, with no airconditioning!
However, the call of patisserie has been like a Siren song across the years, something I would succumb to and, dabble in occasionally, but always with the hard-won, knowledge that pastry making was developed for those with time and patience. Yep, something that busy working Mum’s are never in great supply of!
So, armed with Bernard Clayton Jr’srecipe for brioche, (yes, a practical and highly regarded, American baker), and an eye on the clock, I am providing a ‘how to’ guide for getting brioche’s hot out of the oven for Sunday brunch.
Bernard Clayton’s Brioche (yeah okay, I made some very, very minor changes!)
Friday or Saturday Night (approx. 20 minutes of work time) :
a) Before you start cooking dinner, (if you sleep early, or if you have very young kids).
b) Or, After you have finished dinner, and before you start anything else (maybe sitting down to watch TV?!);
4 cups plain flour
3 Tblspns (15ml) sugar
2 Tspns salt
1 package of dry yeast
1/4 cup full cream milk powder
1/2 cup warm water
230g butter (room temp)
4 extra large eggs
Into a large mixer bowl pour 1 cup of flour, the other dry ingredients, anbd water. Beat in the mixer for 2 minutes at medium speed.
Add the butter and continue beating to blend together.
Add a second cup of flour. Mix thoroughly. Add the eggs, one at a time and the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time beating after each addition.
The dough will be soft and sticky, and it must be beaten until all ingredients have been well incorporated..
Attach a dough hook to your mixer.
Turn the mixer on medium. The dough hook will seem to turn aimlessly, but soon the dough will begin to come away from the sides. Be patient. Mix for a total of 10 minutes.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 2 hrs.
Later that evening (approx. 10 minutes of work time) :
a) After cooking, eating and possibly clearing up after dinner, (but definitely before you do little kids bath and bedtime).
b) Or, after about 1 1/2 -2 hrs of clearing dinner, and other ‘stuff’ (reading, surfing or watching TV if you are lucky!);
Marvel at how your dough has risen to about double the size!
Take off plastic wrap and keep it aside.
Grab dough and give it a squish or two with your hands, or as Bernard says, “stir down dough” if you know what that means?!
Wrap dough in the plastic wrap you took off the bowl.
Put it in the fridge and go to bed. Yes, you can keep it there until Sunday if you are making dough on Friday night, or you could just bake it Saturday morning if you want!
Sunday morning 8 am (approximately 30 min of work time):
a) If you are an early riser, or have young kids, get up, make them breakfast, throw the laundry in the machine, make yourself a cup of tea, tell your partner to watch the kids, and then see below;
b) If you don’t normally get up early, sorry, you need to get up around 8.30- 9.00am (you can go back to bed in a few minutes!);
50% Cocoa chocolate bits or a bar that is roughly chopped, approximately 2 cups.
1 egg beaten with 1 Tblspn (15ml) milk to brush.
Divide dough into 4 pieces. Place one onto floured work surface, keep remaining pieces wrapped in refrigerator.
Press and roll dough into a narrow rectangle approximately 1cm thick.
Cut strip of dough into rectangles approximately 5cm x 10-15 cm. (I actually use a stainless steel ruler to cut straight lines, although I don’t actually measure!)
Place chocolate bits approximately 1 cm down from the narrow edge of the piece of dough. Pick up narrow edge, roll over chocolate bits and keep going until you have a neat little roll.
Place brioche rolls, seam side down on a baking sheet covered with baking paper.
Repeat process until all the rolls are made.
Brush all the rolls with the egg and milk mixture.
(This whole shaping process takes about 2o – 30 minutes)
Turn on oven to preheat, at 180 degrees Celcius. Don’t put the rolls in yet!!!
Leave rolls in a warm place to rise for 30 – 45 minutes
a) & b) Whether you have kids or not, go back to bed, with a cup of tea and the paper, maybe? Okay, reality bites, hang out the laundry, sweep the floor, clear away the kids breakfast (or feed them the cold leftovers!) and stack the dishwasher.
Sunday Morning 10am (approx 5 minutes of work time then 20 minutes baking time)
Brush rolls a second time with egg and milk mixture and bake for approximately 20 minutes.
Leave to cool on a wire rack or just devour them steaming hot!
Left overs can be reheated in the microwave for 10-20 seconds and if you have more than you can eat, freeze them for next week’s brunch!
Et voila, a time managed indulgence for the family, or maybe just for you and a special someone.
Home made, French patisserie before 10.30am on a Sunday morning, Bliss!
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Relaxing on New Year’s Eve with a family barbecue enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.
Looking back on 2013 there has been so much to be thankful for, and to celebrate before I move into the new and unknown.
Yes, my full time job, like many of us, eats into the time that I would rather spend on baking, creating and experiencing life, however without the balance, would I enjoy and look forward to these activities as much?
“And soon you will find
That there comes a time
For making your mind up.”
Bucks Fizz- Making your mind up lyrics
So, who doesn’t think about Eurovision 1981 when they are lying about in the sunshine enjoying a day trout fishing with the family? 😜
The last couple of years have been pivotal, in deciding to keep ‘Bliss’ a fun creative outlet instead of seeing it as a business. Certainly as 2013 comes to a close, it has definitely proven to be the right decision to make. As the great masters of philosophy Andy Hill and John Danter wrote in that history making song, I made my mind up!
Bottoms up then! No matter how nicely a glass of Veuve may go down at the stroke of 12. You know, a Yellowglen with orange juice, and a quick 80’s pop song may be all you need to put a smile on your face and cheer in 2014!
No, really this look was awful even in 1981!!
Bliss Bucks Fizz Cake
Grated rind of 1 medium sized orange
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 eggs separated
150g self raising flour
1 cup buttermilk Champagne Syrup
2 cups champagne (sweet, fruity and cheap is perfect!)
1 cup caster sugar
Raspberries to decorate
Preheat oven to 170C.
Grease and lightly flour a deep 20cm round cake tin.
Cream butter, orange rind and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg yolks one at a time, until combined.
Stir in half the sifted flour and half the buttermilk.
Then stir in remaining flour and butter milk.
Beat egg whites in a small bowl until soft peaks form, fold lightly in to cake mixture in 2 batches.
Spread mixtures into prepared pans and bake for approximately 1 hr.
Stand for 5 minutes before turning onto wire rack.
Bring the champagne and sugar to a boil and reduce to about half.
Poke holes all over the top of the cake and drizzle over the syrup.
Let syrup absorb into the cake and keep adding as much syrup as you feel you want!
This is the basic recipe that I have been working on and as soon as I put together some nice photos over the next couple of weeks, I will revise it. It will take me the next two weeks to work on my presentation!!
Hope you all have fun, try something new, and love what you do in 2014! xx
There are philosophical certainties in this life; birth, death, taxes and….over ripe bananas. So long as your household buys bananas, there is one certainty; there will be, at some stage in your life, a couple of bananas that are more brown than yellow, sitting in a fruit bowl or basket.
Occasionally, they are thrown away, and sometimes you have the time and inspiration to make something of them. This is a first in, what I believe, will be a series of recipes featuring these sad, orphan fruits.
So what inspired me to use up said bananas last night? It was some very special little tubs of honey, all the way from Beechworth, but more importantly, bought with the change that young children carry with them when they are on school camp. My big-hearted girl, loves her Mum and was thinking of me when she visited the home of honey in Victoria, earlier this year. She brought home little tasting tubs of ‘bold’, ‘fruity’ and ‘delicate’ blends, which we have been happily eating slathered and dripping, on hot crumpets with butter 🙂 However, time ticked on, and the inevitable question came, “Aren’t you going to make something with my honey?”.
I have to admit, I wasn’t thinking about it, but as I am now known as the cake lady by most friends and family now, the question lingered, “Where to, cake lady?” I had to do something…4 generations of apiarists at Beechworth have built this business to become one of the most well known brands of Australian honey, as well as a major tourist attraction, I had to turn it into cake. No pressure, Mum…
Bananas and honey are a ‘no brainer’ combination, if I added a smidgen of crushed pistachios, suddenly the flavours should become a little more complex, the eating a little more textural; combine it all into a gorgeously, rich sour cream cake base and we get mellow undertones which make me go mmmmm 🙂 In my head, banana cake had to be made with ‘fruity’ honey, a white chocolate whipped cream to serve it with just had to be dribbled with ‘delicate” honey, and my hot lemon tea while I baked, had to be sweetened with my favourite, ‘bold’ honey :D.
Well, that was the flavours sorted, so, here we go guys;
Honey, banana,and pistachio sour cream cupcakes
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 xlarge eggs
2 mashed bananas
250g self raising flour
1/3 cup sour cream
Approx 1 tablespoon crushed pistachios (optional)
Cream butter, sugar, and honey until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs one at a time, until just combined.
Mix in mashed bananas and pistachios
Beat in half sifted flour and half sour cream, until combined.
Beat in rest of sifted flour and sour cream, beat well.
Spoon into medium size patty pans until approx 3/4 full and bake for approx 20 minutes at 170 Celsius, or until cake springs back when pressed lightly in the centre.
Yep, hot out of the oven, the cake was light, moist, and had a good hit of banana. Unmistakable honey flavours and aromas came through with a hint of green, nuttiness which I was hoping for from the pistachio. Yum, yum, yum.
Now, come the part which I really have to use a different part of my brain for, the presentation. If you follow my blog, you will know this is not my greatest strength! It’s honey, so honestly, we had to have bees, and honey dribbles, with a nod to the shape of an old fashioned bee hive didn’t we?
Whip up 300ml thickened cream until soft peaks form.
Melt approximately 1/2 cup of white chocolate and stir until smooth.
Add melted white chocolate to cream and whip until stiff peaks form.
Pipe with a round nozzle a round to cover cupcake, then 2 smaller rounds on top of first layer.
Drizzle gently with honey, sprinkle with crushed pistachios if desired.
Cut slices of banana and slather liberally in lemon juice. Use a little flower cutter to cut through the slices.
Top off with a banana flower and a little sugar bee ( I made these but you can buy icing bees, and the wires are cute but end up spinning your bee all over the place!)