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.

IMG_5816
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

Guest post gig

Fabulous Cheryl from ‘Itty Bitty Foodies’, wrote me a very succinct note to my offer of a guest post, my ‘Cutest lamingtons ever’ recipe.
YES!
Oh, wow, really? How do I do this? What do I wear? Hee hee hee, I’m pretty excited by the possibility of stretching my legs and stepping slightly outside the confines of my own page.
I can’t wait! Tell you when it is up. In the meantime here is a little sneak preview ūüôā

The cutest lamingtons ever!

Secret ‘Clark Kent’ Business

“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.¬† It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s…” just me, actually.¬†¬†Nah, it’s not that¬†I am trying to say I have super powers or anything.

This is exactly how I feel sometime! Who am I if I am not you? Maybe I am me? But, really I am just too busy right now to be both of us!!

It’s more that I am wondering, has your Clark Kent persona ever become so overwhelmingly busy, that¬†your fun, flying Superman outfit, doesn’t get a chance to leave the bottom drawer?¬† The red¬†underpants seem to¬†lose their elasticity, and the flouro yellow badge on your chest,¬†seems to have faded when it finally sees sunlight?

Quick change, I need to pack for another business trip and finish my monthly report…no time for whipping egg whites, seriously, who has time for egg separation?

Don’t tell anyone, but unlike alien abductions, this happens to all of us all of the time!¬†¬†It is actually true that¬† I do have a¬†day¬†job that involves me wearing respectable pants and reading glasses.¬† It is also true that¬† I have been so busy working my respectable day job as well as fulfilling orders for my wonderful customers that I haven’t had a chance to throw on my little retro apron, or pick through my trusty library of cookbooks to just play, photograph and blog.¬† I can’t believe it has been 3 months since I have had time to post anything!

However, one great, upside to having been so busy over the last few months is that I have had a chance to pick up wonderful ideas for posts that I hope to be able to share with you very soon!¬† A trip to Mildura, a chance to fulfill one of my New Year’s resolutions,¬†directions in where I am going with my chocolate cakes.¬† I hope that they will be as fun for you to read in the coming months as it has been for me to experience them.¬†

But, in the meantime,  here is something for you to ponder on.  What do Camembert cheese, Squid ink, and Blueberry have in common?  Answer you very soon!

Hope that your Clark Kent is well and truly contained to allow the ‘Super’ in you to come out and play with me!¬† I would love to know, what do you do for a day job, and how do you cut loose and fly high?

Whose tradition is it anyway? The Kitchen God

Interesting that Dr Charlie Teoh, has inflamed a racist debate just as I was writing this post.¬† Not only is it the week before Australia day, but also only a few days before….

Firecrackers,¬†lucky red packets, dancing lions and dragons, loud drums and clanging¬†gongs…have you got it yet?

Hong De Lion at Melbourne International Airport giving travellers a taste of Australia!

Chinese New Year¬†marks the beginning of the new lunar year by well,¬†pretty much everyone in Melbourne!¬† Anyone who is Asian or who has friends of Asians descent are¬†familiar with the noise, spectacle and general good cheer of Chinese New Year, in the same way all we non-Christians¬†recognizes Christmas as a time of family, good will and gift giving.¬†¬†Although celebrations have certainly been going on for about 150 years in Australia, since the influx of Chinese migrants during the gold rush, Australians do not all celebrate it…yet,¬†‘though¬†it will be interesting to see if it become a national holiday over time?!

Australia has moved¬†over the last¬†40 years, towards a whole new, embracing, national identity that leaves the “White Australia”* policy as an embarrassing¬†foot note on a developing nations history.¬† From a very personal view,¬†¬†even though one arm of our family is now 6th generation Australian,¬†I grew up during a period in time where it was a¬†struggle understanding my identity as an Australian of Chinese descent, dealing with blatant racism, even as a small child by fully grown (non-drunk, take note Politicians) adults, having my face, clothes and food laughed at, and of course¬†not being¬†blonde and blue-eyed, I would¬†just feel¬†outright, alien.¬† In fact,¬†my identity is something¬†I still struggle with and subconsciously, always try to hide.¬† I am sure that this feeling of being an outsider no matter what colour your skin, no matter what your age, is more common than any of us¬†care to admit.¬† And yet,¬†at the same time, I have never felt so accepted and ‘normal’ within the community.¬† Life is always changing, I look around me and feel that it is¬†an amazing time for me to be living in and celebrating Chinese New Year in Melbourne!¬† There will always be small-minded, ignorant, and just plain rude people in any society, however, as I said in my New Year’s Eve post…with a bit of effort, we can always improve.

Well, with such an ancient celebration it is not surprising that there would be¬†many, many¬† traditions tied to its very mention, but given my slant on the world from the¬†suburban kitchen of Bliss,¬†I want to have a stab at Bliss-ing my favourite tradition…FOOD!!!

For foodies of all cultures, one of the best new year stories would have to be that of the Kitchen God.  Every new year, the Kitchen God leaves his post on the altar in the family kitchen ( yes, that is

Now, who wants to get a bad report when the Kitchen God heads off on his yearly mission?

probably where you would expect to find a kitchen god!) to travel up to heaven and give his report to the Jade Emperor on the goings on in the family as they talked, argued, laughed and cried over their family meals.¬†¬†Now, who doesn’t want to look good on their report, I ask you?¬† So, being as ingenious as the Chinese race is,¬† a wonderful and crazy, sticky, sweet,¬†concoction known as ‘Nian¬†Goa’¬† is offered to the Kitchen God on new year’s eve to stick his mouth together so that he can’t say anything bad in his report!¬† Aaaaaaah, love the creative use of¬†dessert!

The recipe for Nian Goa floored me! Basically, it is brown sugar caramel with rice flour steamed to¬†within an inch of its life….truly…hours and hours and well, hours!¬† So long in fact, you wonder if the original wasn’t just forgotten on the stove, while the cook went out to tend the fields, chat with the neighbours, buy groceries, get her hair done…..No wonder we never made it at home!!

With a texture like mozzarella and a brown sugar caramel flavour…it’s really not that weird when pan fried with egg!

Nian¬†Goa¬†has a crazy rubbery texture, when you get it home from the shop.¬† (No, seriously, it is round. bouncy and brown,¬†it could make a really good tyre substitute for a small go-cart!)¬† Then, being of Southern Chinese origin, we cut it into slices and then into squares, dip it in egg and pan fry it slowly until it has the consistency of mozarella cheese with a slightly crisp, egg-y outer.¬† Insane!!! But, I love it ūüôā

Hubby, is from Malaysia where they sandwich the slices between sweet potato, or taro and then dip it into batter and deep fry it.¬† Crispy on the outside, biting into aromatic, flour-y, potato-y, texture and then a gooey caramell-y centre. Crazy!!!¬† But he loves it ūüôā

So, Lynnette¬†and Hubby met, fell in love and live in Melbourne¬† where I have decided I am going to put a¬†Bliss spin on it.¬† Hmmmm, will it work?¬† Well, let’s see then… Love the egg-y combination¬†with the brown sugar¬†caramel flavour of mine, love the crisp outer shell of his and I especially¬†love how Aussies¬† make everything their own by adding Beer!¬† My most striking memory of TV as a newly migrated 4-year-old was the Vic Bitter ad.¬† “A hard-earned thirst, calls for a big cold beer.¬† The biggest beer is Vic, Victor-ia Bitter”, how do I remember it?¬† It is burned into my memory as being the most incredibly Australian thing I had ever, ever seen in my very short life!¬† No, not even Skippy the talking kangaroo could do it.

So, there we have it, ‘Egg yolk dipped,¬†beer batter, nian goa strips,¬†tempura style’ ha ha,¬†what a mouthful!¬† Dust liberally with icing sugar and serve with vanilla bean ice cream¬†on the side, in fact, give it a real Aussie feel and make the ice cream yourself with amazing fresh Australian dairy products,¬†like Gippsland cream.

Uh huh, mmmmmm¬†what a mouthful.¬† I think Kitchen Gods all around Australia will be toasting to the Jade Emporer’s health with a¬†dash of cognac after a dessert like that and¬†offering all mere mortals a resounding A+ ūüėÄ

Crispy and light, just a hint of fragrance from the egg and soft and sticky on the inside. A+ from me ūüôā

Health, Wealth and Heaps of Happiness for a magnificent Year of the Dragon everyone.  Goong Hei Fatt Choy xxx

*embarrassing footnote:  White Australia policy favoured Anglo-Saxon migration over all other cultures and nationalities to , I guess, produce a White Australia!

It’s New Year’s Eve and Summer is truly here

Summer is truly here!

Life is for living!!¬† A motto that is taken, at it’s most extreme, and greatly to heart in my household.

oh yeah, festive lava cakes for Christmas mmm

So, as you can imagine, the holiday season is pretty mad, at our house even when we pretend to celebrate quietly!¬† With a closely knit, extended family, we are never far wrong when we allow for about 30 for dinner.¬† The huge turkey, glazed ham, Uncle M’s plum pudding and all the ‘traditional’ Christmas trimmings, including Coffin bay oysters, Sashimi salmon, and my Mum’s¬† prawn and mango salad are looked forward to as Aussie Christmas delights by local and overseas visitors alike, every year.

But, I have to say, after the craziness of Christmas has passed, and all the kids, (big and small), have had the chance to go slightly nutty around the tree, I really, really, really look forward to bringing in the New Year.

I pretty much do nothing ūüôā¬† Not that it is just me that does nothing….the entire family pretty much does,

Black Rock, this photo is a little misleading as there were heaps of people there that day!

NOTHING! YAY!!!!!  I began finishing the old  year by enjoying a real Aussie experience bbq yesterday.   Admittedly, the beach at Black Rock is a lot more popular than it ever used to be, causing it to be more crowded and a lot dirtier than I remember, however, the crystal clear water and fantastic family friendly facilities made it a real day to to remember in 2011.

A bit more sunshine, and a bit more swimming to round off another busy year and then….peace.¬† A big smooch to one and all to bring in the new year and a ‘quiet’ beginning to 2012.

My resolution is pretty much the same as last year;

“I resolve to not allow life to¬† live me but for me to live my life.”

The great Aussie bbq experience! Delicious ūüôā

I think I did an ok job last year, ha ha ha!¬† But, like anything in this world, we could always improve with a bit more effort. What’s your new year’s resolution?¬† Mine is pretty boring, pretty standard.¬† I think that if I was to add a few extra notes they might look a little like this;

“I resolve to eat more ice cream.”¬† Seriously, I used to consider ice cream my favourite food, I must have eaten it 6 times last year…doesn’t sound much like a favourite, I definitely ate more broccoli!!

“I resolve to buy a bbq.”¬† Ridiculous??¬† We have lived in this house for nearly 5 years, we still don’t own one.

“I resolve to do more colouring in.” I discovered my teenage daughter doing a colouring book the other day….she looked so peaceful.¬† Hey, I want some of that!!

Love deeply. sing loudly and live like you mean it!!!¬† All the best for 2012 and may you enjoy the beautiful Summer weather that Melbourne has put on.¬† See you next year ūüėČ x

Bliss x

Staying true

“I know what I want and I know how I like it”
Sounds like it comes from a song… maybe it is? Unfortunately other people know exactly what they want and how they like it too!! What happens when the two views don’t seem the same?
Oooooo how I love a challenge ūüôā
Lovely Natasha emailed me to make a wonderful Bliss cake for her Mum’s 70th, however in the follow up email she slipped in the fact that her Mum doesn’t like chocolate cake or lots of cream! The brief

Bliss Chocolate Cake for a Mum who doesn't like chocolate cake!

went a little like this;
“She often orders lemon tart, orange cake, cheesecake or cakes w/ a fruit element like carrot, banana, apple, apricot etc. She also LOVES nuts.”
Well, where do I start?

From the beginning, I guess.
I can’t go past a layer cake for a birthday so I was definitely going to suggest the ‘Celebrate’. 4 layers of white chocolate cake but for a Mum from the tropics I tweaked it with a slight coconut-ty flavour.

Fresh lime, Italian meringue buttercream. Toasty coconut, and 70% couverture flakes

Home made indulgence? How about a little of my home made cumquat jelly. Gorgeous Cointreau flavoured jelly to add an unusual, hint of tart fruit flavour to the mix. Sprinkle the layer with toasted coconut flakes and a sprinkle of grated 70% couverture to finish it off.
Well, 3 layers of jelly just seemed a little too sickly and well, repetetive. So, to break it up a bit, the middle layer consists of a very thin layer of dark chocolate ganache and a generous layer of toasted almonds.  The flavours seemed perfect as a contrast and it also added the extra nuttiness that Mum loves!
Very, lightly frosted with Italian meringue buttercream flavoured with fresh lime. Dressed with more toasted almonds, and toasted flaked coconut and 70% courverture.
Happy Birthday Natasha’s Mum! Hope you enjoy eating it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Chocolate plaque to celebrate 70 years!