Sticky Toffee Pear and Ginger Cake

How wonderful! Windfall of Bartlett pears ūüôā

 

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!

To see the video of this yumminess being put together Youtube Sticky toffee pear and ginger cake

Make this indulgent dessert for sweet-tooths, on the day  and dish it up warm, with double cream or good quality vanilla bean ice cream.

Deliciously indulgent. Sticky toffee, pear and ginger cake.

Sticky Toffee Pear and Ginger Cake

For top and sauce

120g butter

160g brown sugar

3 medium firm pears

handful of naked/ glace ginger roughly chopped

For cake

2 cups dried dates

2 cups boiling water

1 1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda

100g softened butter

150g brown sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 tspn vanilla paste

195g self raising flour

 

Method top and sauce

Place butter and brown sugar into a small pan.  Place over medium heat and stir until smooth.

Pour into an 8 or 9 inch cake pan (or 3 x 5 inch pans,  2 x 6 inch pans)

Peel and slice pears.  Place them in a fan pattern into the sauce to cover the base of the pan.

Chop ginger coarsely and sprinkle evenly over the pears.

Method cake

Preheat oven to 175C

Roughly chop dates and place in a bowl.   Pour over boiling water and then add bicarbonate of soda.  Mix together and leave for 5 minutes.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined.

Use a food processor, hand held blender, or hand beater to whizz the date mixture until it is smooother but still a little chunky.

Add 1/3 of the flour to the butter mixture and beat until just combined.

Add 1/2 date mixture and beat until just combined.  

Repeat with flour and then the date mixture.

Add the last of the flour and beat until just combined.  A light touch with the mixing will ensure your cake is nice and soft!

Spoon cake batter gently over the pears.

Bake 8 inch pan for 50-60 min at 175C or until skewer comes out clean when tested.

(Bake 5 or 6 inch tins for about 40-50 minutes or until skewer comes out clean when tested.)

Cool in tin.

Invert onto a plate to serve while it is still warm and serve with double cream or good quality vanilla ice cream mmmmmmm.  Enjoy!

What more do you need? Maybe just a cup of tea? ;P

 

 

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Microwave Cake? – Passionfruit Sponge with Marinated Berries and Whipped Cream

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Market fresh Aussie passionfruit mmmmm!

C’mon, ¬†I’ve baked for many, many (toooo many!) years, and yes, I’ve owned and loved using a microwave for at least¬†25 years.

yuk calvin face
Like, really?  Microwave cake??

But, babe! ¬†You know it, I know it, how come everyone on Masterchef doesn’t know it? ¬†YOU CAN’T BAKE A CAKE WITH A MICROWAVE. ¬†What is going on people?

There has been the inevitable, take over of the world, of microwave mug recipes. ¬†Late night or quick dessert fixes, I get it; ¬†I really do! ¬†I even bought my daughter a mug cake recipe book for Christmas. ¬†But, microwave sponges seem to be the biggest thing since Matt Preston, himself! ¬†I am dragging my ‘Vans’, I know, but traditional techniques are what I taught myself, so even though this recipe is from 2014…

http://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/masterchef/recipes/80-40-20–passionfruit-sponge–marinated-berries–whipped-cream

I’m testing it out, ‘coz I have been sucked in by the hype, over 1500 people have rated it 4 stars, and I NEED to know!!

How ironic that my ramekins were too big and I had to use teacups!
After 40 seconds in a 1100 watt microwave and it isn’t cooked
Another 20 seconds has done it
Ran a knife around the edges but it is still a little rustic when turned out

 

Texture was a little dense and rubbery but quite acceptable to eat warm with cream and berry compote as the recipe suggests.

 

Cooled to stale cake consistency after about an hour, dry and hard

 

Bliss

“Definitely a mug cake. ¬†Great eaten warm but a little bouncy and slightly dense. ¬†Tastes great and is a perfect, quick treat for pudding. ¬†Cools to stale cake consistency within an hour.”

Taste heart emojiheart emojiheart emoji

Texture heart emojiheart emoji

Do I have a good recipe for…heart emojiheart emojiheart emoji

DeleteRedNot a recipe I would do gluten free.  The texture would suffer even more with any substitutions

tickUnrefined sugar substitution suitable.  Raw castor sugar or Stevia would work well.

tickRecipe as written, is nut free.

 tickI would be happy to substitute any kind of vegetable or nut oil for the butter in this recipe

when nothing goes right go  left
Image from www.upnorth.com

What would I change? Hmmm, probably it’s name! ¬†It is a great warm pudding or mug cake but would I call it a sponge cake? ¬†Probably not. ¬†It also needed 50-60 seconds in my 1100 watt microwave on high, not the 40 seconds as written in the recipe.

The flavour was great and would definitely have been great with the Chantilly cream. I personally¬†wouldn’t want to serve the passionfruit pudding with berry coulis though.

To ‘Bliss’ it, I would serve it with double or triple¬†cream or even a custard. ¬†I think a matcha infused custard with white chocolate, would have been gorgeous with this little pudding!

This recipe has definitely not convinced me that I can make cake in a microwave.

I hope you  have enjoyed this recipe review, and found it useful?  Would love to hear what you think.

See you next time ūüėČ X

Moist Chocolate and Beet Cake

Have you dared to try it?
I’ve put it off for years but the time for testing and tasting is finally here!

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Beetroot in a cake??!!!

‘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.

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Beautiful, just set and wobbly in the centre
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Sank a little while cooling. Not a big deal. Maybe another 5 minutes in the oven?
IMG_5821 cropped
Looking pretty with the entire tub of creme fraiche poured over it, and sprinkled with poppy seeds

 

 

Bliss

 

“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.”

Taste heart emojiheart emojiheart emojiheart emoji

Texture heart emojiheart emojiheart emojiheart emojiheart emoji

Do I have a good recipe for…heart emojiheart emojiheart emojiheart emojiheart emoji

tickGluten 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.

tickUnrefined 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.

tickRecipe as written, is nut free.

DeleteRed Not dairy free.  The flavour that is added by this amount of butter would make it difficult to change out for anything else.

when nothing goes right go  left
Image from www.upnorth.com

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 ūüėČ 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.


Kaiser Bakeware Noblesse 8-Inch Round Non-Stick Springform Pan

Josephine Baker Jaffa

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.

Zingy, fresh orange juice jelly cuts through a rich and fudgy, jaffa flavoured, chocolate cake.
Zingy, fresh orange juice jelly cuts through a rich and fudgy, jaffa flavoured, chocolate cake.

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!

Beautiful, graceful and elegant Josephine Baker
Beautiful, graceful and elegant 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.

Josephine's famous banana skirt!
Josephine’s famous banana skirt!

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.

 

Crazy combination that works... I think?!
Crazy combination that works… I think?!

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Kooky, quirky and humorous Josephine Baker.  What would she think?
Kooky, quirky and humorous Josephine Baker. What would she think?
    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!

If you are enjoying being ‘blissed’, don’t forget to subscribe to my email list or follow me on wordpress to see all my latest ramblings ūüôā

 

 

Love, Sunshine and Bucks Fizz. Champagne Syrup, Orange Cake Recipe.

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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? ūüėú
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!

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No, really this look was awful even in 1981!!

Bliss Bucks Fizz Cake
250g butter
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

Ms Maclaine and My Pear and Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Passionfruit Ganache

The first time I ever came across Shirley Maclaine was as a sassy, smart talking, lady of questionable repute in ‘Sweet Charity’ and of course, I LOVED her.

Hmm, short hair, red lipstick, AND a tattoo.  Why couldn't I be just like Shirley?
Hmm, short hair, red lipstick, AND a tattoo. Why couldn’t I be just like Shirley?

Julia Roberts may have caused an uproar about morally questionable role models in the ’90s, but way before then, my poor Mum really didn’t know what to do with¬†her little primary school¬†child¬†wanting to be Shirley Maclaine¬†and questioning why it was a bad idea to wear fish net stockings and get a tattoo!

Well, fast forward many years later, after I had worn my share of fish net stockings, have had my hair long, short and shaved, and tattoos are the accepted norm;   I fell in love with the indomitable Ms Maclaine all over again, when I found this quote in one of my recipe books;

LOVE that Ms Maclaine :)
LOVE that Ms Maclaine ūüôā
Juicy and sweet, Bartlett pears peeled, sliced and ready to go!
Juicy and sweet, Bartlett pears peeled, sliced and ready to go!

Love it….love being able to play with chocolate cake and even more so when I pick up inspiration from fresh or home-grown produce.

So, in my grand tradition of walking into a shop and picking up ‘stuff’ that looks good, I found myself surrounded by mountains of Bartlett pears and, believe it or not, some great looking passionfruit!¬†¬† Pears are a mainstay of cold weather but passionfruit?¬† From New South Wales, what’s more, so we are talking passionfruit in the middle of winter…I am guessing hot-house, but hey, my taste buds were talking, I was going to make an exception today ūüôā

Bartletts are not my choice for eating straight up, that sweet, sticky juice, running generously through your fingers, as you try not to make a single handed mess, which inevitably turns into a double fisted, wet, napkin soaked drama; ending in a limp, and soggy mess with an urgent need to find a running tap!

Ha ha, maybe the Bartlett pears I am trying to eat for lunch are just too ripe, but for a dessert or a cake, they are my absolute favourites.  Suddenly all those sad and sorry, downfalls are in fact, the attributes that make them perfect!  Soft and melting, sweetly blessed with juice that flows and flavours everything that it comes in touch with, permeating with a fragrant, slightly caramel aroma that is unmistakable.

That's what I like to see, nice chunks of sweet and soft pear surrounded by a soft and light bed of...cake!
That’s what I like to see, nice chunks of sweet and soft pear surrounded by a soft and light bed of…cake!

I wanted to pair (no pun intended!) this luxurious texture and flavour of cooked pear with a lighter cake and decided on a buttermilk cake with just a hint of cocoa, to help the pear juice to be tasted through it.  The buttermilk gave the cake a slightly tangy flavour as well, which worked really nicely.

However, on its own, I have to say it was not a cake that had me jumping for joy, it definitely needed a little more.  Not exactly worthy of the  Hollywood aspirations of my childhood!

I decide that nothing¬†tarts up a simple, wall flower of a¬†cake, like a crowd pleasing 35% couverture ganache, but I wanted to¬†lift it a little, so as to compliment the pear and to give it a little zing that even Charity would be proud of ūüôā

Passionfruit in the middle of winter?  They look so good, I just have to break my seasonal rule today.
Passionfruit in the middle of winter? They look so good, I just have to break my seasonal rule today.

Please step in, passionfruit.¬†¬†It may not be seasonal, it may not be home-grown but by stirring¬†through the pulp of this little purple orb,¬†and¬†dribbling that thick and creamy¬†chocolate concoction over¬†my homely little cakes…yes, you guessed it; Bliss.

No, I know it is not Hollywood, walk of fame stuff, but served warm on a mid winters evening, I have to say this little cake makes me feel pretty sparkly, and special inside ūüôā

Homely no more :)  A little white chocolate decoration gives my little cakes star treatment :)
Homely no more ūüôā
A drizzled white chocolate¬†piece, gives my little cakes the¬†star treatment ūüôā

Orange blossom honey cake with yoghurt frosting, grilled figs and couverture collar

Do you live in a dream world like I do?
In my fantasies, I wake up late, have leisurely breakfasts of gourmet produce under a hanging wisteria bough, that is softly swaying in a warm, gentle breeze. Somehow in this dream I still make it to my local farmers market to stroll at my own pace, stopping to chat about, taste, and spend, without limit, on all the yummiest offerings of the season.

Food of the gods.Honey grilled figs, just lay gently on a bed of French toast and dollop generously with Greek yoghurt.  My idea of  heavenly breakfast!
Food of the gods.
Honey grilled figs, just lay gently on a bed of French toast and dollop generously with Greek yoghurt. My idea of heavenly breakfast!

Sigh…

Look what I found on my milk run :) mmmm
Look what I found on my milk run ūüôā mmmm

Of course in reality, I just go to the supermarket like everybody else, rushed after a full days work to pick up milk, and in just a little nod of respect to buying fresh, maybe pick up some meat and vegies, wrapped under plastic for dinner. That sounds so much better than it is, in fact such is the life of a working mum, who can’t even make meal planning for the week, work for her.

It was on one of these trips to the local Coles, rushing to the aisle where milk in plastic containers lives, that my eye was caught by this little jar with a handwritten shelf talker. Handwritten? In Coles? It says ‘Seasonal’ and I just happen to have a weakness for honey, (amongst many other things). Grab jar, drop in basket, keep walking very quickly.

My fantastic orange blossom honey cake.  Not strictly a chocolate cake but come on... Bliss!!
My fantastic orange blossom honey cake. Not strictly a chocolate cake but come on… Bliss!!

It was all the inspiration I needed for a new seasonal cake.
There is no better way to eat figs than the age old, Mediterranean way. One of my best friends, who happens to be Greek, first introduced me to the pleasures of fresh figs with Greek yoghurt, drizzled with honey. Really, some things don’t need changing, but you know me ūüôā

Moist and full of honey flavour with just a little hint of citrus, this gorgeous cake is layered with a tangy vanilla bean, Greek yoghurt frosting, topped with sweet as heaven, orange blossom honey grilled figs.  Finished with a dusting of cinnamon. Take each mouthful with a little of the 55% couverture dark chocolate collar, for a dusky cocoa hit, for balance. Food of the gods by Bliss xxx

My seasonal cakes are limited and may not be the same every year.¬† Please enjoy them while you can! ūüôā

My dream gourmet breakfast Bliss-ed!!  Nothing beats cake even if it's not technically chocolate ;p
My dream gourmet breakfast Bliss-ed!! Nothing beats cake even if it’s not technically chocolate ;p

Strawberries and Cream

Melbourne really turned it on last week, teasing us with the possibilities of clear blue skies and bright sunshine.¬† Spring has sprung (!), or at least that’s what we thought when I bought the first box of antihistamine, for my hay-fever prone family. Daffodils are nodding, my magnolia has put on it’s fragile, short lived, display, and the sprawling jasmine is beginning to bloom.

Strawberries and cream, my way!

For me, the strong, heady perfume of jasmine has always been able to bring me straight back to long, balmy evenings spent in the garden. It is one of the Heralds and  also one of the long standing Lords of Spring and early Summer in Melbourne. I will even trail long strands of freshly picked flowers in the house and in my car, knowing that there is a very strong possibility that my poor boys may suffer the consequences, just to prolong my nostalgic enjoyment for a few extra minutes!

And, what of that other precursor of warm weather?  The most classic of Spring/Summer fruits?

Aaaah strawberries!¬† Strawberries are already starting to make their appearance inmarkets .¬† Although, these strawberries have probably come down from warmer Queensland, it is only a few short weeks away until Melbourne has it’s own harvest. Even though I will be able to buy farm fresh, strawberries from the market, I am most looking forward to October when I can¬† head up to Ladybird Farm to get my hands dirty and pick my own organic strawberries for my new seasonal cake!

So, what have I come up with this time ? When I think of strawberries, cream just has to tag along!  So, I am hoping that it is how everyone else thinks too.

Bliss’ take on light, bright and happy.¬† Spring inspired, Strawberries and Cream ūüôā

Generous chunks of fruit! Now that’s what I’m talking about ūüôā

An entire punnet of strawberries, adding an aromatic sweetness to a moist, white chocolate cake.  Bite into a slice to find generous amounts of chunky fruit, folded in for an indulgent fruity hit.  Topped with a smooth as silk, jasmine and green tea infused, whipped, white chocolate ganache, dusted with green tea macha and topped with a single fresh strawberry and white chocolate shavings.

Perfect for sharing in the sunshine,¬† and with Spring racing season coming, don’t forget the Champagne!

Available 1st September-30th November 2011.   My seasonal cakes may not be the same every year so I hope you take the time to enjoy them while you can!