lime pistachio layer cake

27 Jun 2016

When it comes to my birthday, I make my own birthday cake. This year I decided to try a recipe from Delicious Magazine. Originally the cake was a gluten free lemon cake but as its lime season here I adapted the recipe a little, well actually quite a lot and I used regular rather than gluten free flour.

The original cake had 4 layers but I couldn't work out how I could safely navigate the cake on my one hour commute to work so it became a 2 layer cake.

The cake is very easy to make but the first time I made it, the cake mixture barely rose. Despite that the finished layer cake tasted delicious. 

I guess it's hard to go wrong with a moist and nutty cake layered with cream and lime curd, doused with lime syrup then topped with lime icing and a few extra pistachios.

I wasn't happy to share the recipe the way it was, so I tweaked the recipe a little and remade the cake as a bundt cake.

This time the cake rose high and handsome so I'm happy to share the revamped recipe with you.

Lime and Pistachio and  Layer Cake (adapted from Jamie Oliver Gluten Free Bakes, Delicious Magazine Issue 160 June 2016)

Lime Curd
75 mls lime juice
The grated rind of 1 lime
⅓ cup caster sugar
2 egg yolks
60g unsalted butter, chopped

Cake Ingredients
125 g unsalted butter
50 g pistachios, plus extra to decorate
¼ cup almond meal
125 g caster sugar
¾ cup self-raising flour
pinch salt
½ tsp baking powder
¼ cup low fat plain yoghurt
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup lime curd
½ cup double cream

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
75 g pure icing sugar, sifted

To make the lime curd, combine the lime juice and rind, the caster sugar and egg yolks into a small microwaveable bowl. Cook on medium-high for 1 minute before stirring. Continue the same process for 4-5 more minutes or until the mixture thickens a little. Pass the curd through a fine sieve into a separate small bowl before adding the unsalted butter. Mix thoroughly until well combined then pour the curd into a small sterilised jar and allow to cool. Seal the jar before storing the curd in the fridge.

To make the cake, grease and line the base and sides of a two 16cm round cake pans with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add oil, then remove from heat and set aside to cool. Whiz the pistachios in a food processor until very finely ground. Place in a bowl and sift in all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre. Add butter mixture, yoghurt, eggs and vanilla and whisk to make a loose batter. Divide batter between pans, then bake for 25 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool slightly.

Reserve I tbs of lime curd. Whisk the remaining lime curd and double cream in a bowl until thick. Chill until needed. Combine the lime juice and 25g icing sugar in a pan over low heat stirring until the mixture is clear. While cakes are still warm pierce all over with a skewer, then slowly drizzle 1 tbs lime syrup over each cake. Set cakes aside to cool completely.

When cakes are cool, place one cake layer on a plate and spread with the reserved lime curd, then carefully cover with the cream mixture. Top with the second cake layer. Combine remaining icing sugar with the lime syrup to make a thick icing, adding a little water to loosen if necessary. Stir in the lime zest, then drizzle the icing over the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Scatter the chopped pistachios over the cake to serve.

You can also make a small bundt cake with this recipe and and it will take about 30 minutes to cook through. Drizzle the cake with the syrup, reserving 1 tbs to make the icing. When cool top the cake with the icing and reserved pistachios. Even without the curd and cream, the syrup soaked cake is pretty delicious.

So it's time for me to say goodbye to my kitchen for the next 5 weeks. Instead of baking photos expect to see travel photos on the blog for the next month as I make my way to London, Glasgow, Zurich, Paris and on to Iceland. You can also follow my travels on instagram.

I'll post when I can from the road.

Bye for now,


chocolate meringues with rhubarb and raspberry compote

20 Jun 2016

Whenever a recipe calls for egg yolks, I always freeze the whites. If I need to make a pavlova or meringues, the frozen whites are easy to defrost and it saves the problem of what to do with all those leftover yolks.

Whilst rummaging through the freezer a few weeks back I found a container of egg whites and feeling the need for something sweet, I set about turning the whites into some chocolate meringues. Now those of you who've followed my blog for a while know that chocolate meringue made with cocoa doesn't 
always work out. The cocoa tends to deflate the egg whites and the meringue loses its shape. 

I found this recipe for chocolate meringues in ‘Falafel for Breakfast’ by Michael Rantissi and Kristy Frawley and I was keen to try the recipe because it used chocolate rather than cocoa. The melted chocolate didn't deflate the meringue and my new oven cooked the meringues perfectly.

My new oven and I are still building a relationship. After much trial and terror I've worked out that the bottom of the oven is really hot and each rack gets progressively cooler towards the top of the oven. To bake bread, pizza or to make a roast I use the bottom rack. To bake cakes and biscuits or to make a casserole I use the middle rack but until now I've not tackled meringue so I wasn't sure where to cook them. I decided to bake the meringues on the top shelf; cooked them for just over an hour and they were done perfectly. Too easy!

Once they were cold, I broke one of the meringues in half, tasted it and found it was way too sweet for my taste. As I'd made six I needed to find a way of making the meringues palatable. I folded some Greek yoghurt through double cream I had in the fridge, topped the meringue with a spoon of the oven baked rhubarb and raspberry compote I'd made earlier and a new dessert was born. The combination of the sweet chocolatey meringue, slightly sour cream and the tangy rhubarb compote was delicious.

Here's the recipe for you which makes 12 large meringues. I made a half batch which yielded six meringues.

Chocolate Meringues (makes 12 large meringues)
120g (4 ½ oz) dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), chopped
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white vinegar

To serve
125 g double cream
¼ cup Greek yoghurt
Berries or oven roasted rhubarb

Preheat oven to 140°C/275°F. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Place chocolate in a small heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water (don't allow bowl to touch water) or melt the chocolate in the microwave; stir until just melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Beat egg whites in a small bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; gradually add caster sugar, beating after each addition until dissolve until the mixture forms a thick and glossy meringue. Fold in the cornflour and vinegar then swirl in the melted chocolate. Spoon 2 heaped tablespoons of the mixture onto the baking tray for each meringue leaving room for the meringues to expand during cooking.

Bake meringues for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until the meringues are firm and dry to the touch. Turn the oven off and leave the meringues to cool in the oven with door ajar.

To serve, combine the double cream with the Greek yoghurt. Dollop the cream over the meringues and serve with fresh berries or some tart rhubarb compote.

See you all again next week with my last baking post before I head overseas.


simple danish rye bread

13 Jun 2016

I don't know what came over me but a few weeks ago I suddenly decided I needed to make rye bread. I tried making rye bread using a sourdough starter and while it tasted delicious the bread was as heavy as a brick. I threw out most of the loaf and decided to try again.

I tracked down a recipe for a simple Danish rye bread that used a tiny bit of yeast and then set about sourcing the remaining ingredients.

Linseeds came from the supermarket; sunflower seeds from the fruit shop; I didn't try to source malt I just used molasses instead. The sticking point was the cracked rye. I couldn't find it anywhere. I tried my local health food shop without success; searched online but could only locate 20kg bags of the stuff. In the end I bought the rye from the US and waited a week for it to arrive. 

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As I started the soaking process on Thursday night I thought to myself, this bread had better turn out. Friday I made the dough and stored it overnight in the fridge. The dough was very sticky and only rose a little. I baked the bread on Saturday and reading other recommendations I stored the bread overnight in a plastic bag. It looked okay but how would it taste? 

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Thankfully it tasted very good. If you like me suddenly get the urge to make some danish rye bread, I have the recipe for you.

Simple Danish Rye Bread from The New Nordic by Simon Bajada

150g cracked rye
75g sunflower seeds
75g linseeds (flax seeds)
480ml cold water
250g wholemeal rye flour
½ tsp dried instant yeast
2 tsp salt
1½ tbs golden syrup or honey
1 tbs malt
Sunflower oil, for greasing

Day 1 Combine the cracked rye, sunflower seeds and linseeds together in a bowl with 300ml of the water. Cover with a clean tea towel (dish towel), lid or plastic wrap, but don’t make it airtight, and leave to soak at room temperature for 18–24 hours.

In a second bowl, mix the wholemeal rye flour with the yeast and the remaining 180ml of cold water. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside at room temperature for 18–24 hours.

Day 2 Combine the two mixtures together, adding the salt, golden syrup or honey, and malt. Knead together thoroughly for at least 5 minutes; all the ingredients need to be well combined and evenly distributed. The dough will be wet, like cement, and it should fall off your hands if held up.

Grease a 25 cm x 10 cm (10 in x 4 in) loaf (bar) tin with sunflower oil. Transfer the dough to the tin and smooth over the surface. Leave in a warm place for 2–3 hours, until the dough has risen to the rim of the tin.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and cook the loaf for about 1 hour 20 minutes. It won’t have risen dramatically but there should be a visible crack along the top of the loaf.

Remove from the oven and turn the loaf out on to a wire rack. If the base and sides are still a bit moist, cook the bread upside down without its tin in the oven for a further 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely on the wire rack. This can take 2–3 hours, depending on the environment. The loaf will stay fresh for 3 or 4 days if it is stored in a paper bag at room temperature.

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On Sunday for my lunch I made this egg and tomato smørrebrød from a Trine Hahnemann recipe. It was absolutely delicious.

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Now that I have a bag of cracked rye in my fridge I guess I'll be making this bread again but not for a while as in just two weeks time I'll be flying to London for a 4 week stay in Europe. The first week I'll be attending a conference then the remaining time will be holiday. I'm starting to get a little bit excited. 

See you all again next week.


rhubarb semolina and almond cake

6 Jun 2016

Plums have long gone from the fruit shop but I wanted to make this Karen Martini semolina almond and blood plum cake. I decided to make the cake using rhubarb instead of plums.

I set to work adapting the recipe. 

I reduced the juice to make a syrup to brush over the cake but the syrup was too thick and wouldn't brush. I could have thinned the syrup down and started again or used some sieved warmed raspberry jam but by this stage I wasn't prepared to wash up any more utensils so omitted this step.

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I took my slice home for dessert and while the cake was lovely and moist, the cake without the reduced syrup wasn't quite sweet enough. If you omit the syrup, you may want to add a little more sugar to the cake batter or add the reserved rhubarb juice to the batter which is how I've written the recipe.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C. 

Rhubarb, semolina and almond cake, adapted from this Karen Martini recipe


200g trimmed rhubarb cut into 1 cm pieces
1 tsp grated orange rind
¼ cup orange juice
40g brown sugar
125g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar
1 tsp grated orange rind
2 extra-large eggs
70g full-cream natural yoghurt
¼ cup buttermilk
25 mls orange juice
100g fine semolina
100g almond meal
100g plain flour, sifted
1¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 handful flaked almonds

To serve - icing sugar and cream


Preheat the oven to 190ºC conventional. Grease a 20-centimetre round springform cake tin and line with baking paper.

Combine the rhubarb, orange rind, orange juice and brown sugar to a bowl and toss through gently. Set aside for 15 minutes or more, gently tossing the rhubarb through the liquid every now and then.

In a large bowl cream the butter, caster sugar and orange rind until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.

Combine the yoghurt, buttermilk and orange juice in a bowl. Drain the rhubarb and add the reserved juice to the yoghurt mix and add to the cake batter. Beat until combined.

Combine the semolina, almond meal, flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl, and then fold into the mixture by hand. Mix until smooth and well combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and arrange the rhubarb over the batter. Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the rhubarb and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out cleanly.

Cool for 15 minutes before unmoulding.

Best served warm, dusted with icing sugar and served with a dollop of cream.

I hoped you managed to stay warm and dry during the weekend.

See you all again next week,

Bye for now,


rye chocolate chunk cookies

30 May 2016

When you keep reading how fabulous Tara O'Bradys' chocolate chip cookies are, eventually you have to succumb to temptation and try them yourself.

I'm on a bit of a rye flour craze at the moment so I swapped out some of the plain flour in the recipe for rye flour. I'm also a big fan of pecans so into the cookie dough they went as well.

As this a melt and mix recipe, it takes no time to put together.

I'm a big fan of resting the dough overnight so I scooped out the dough the day before I baked the cookies. I baked half the batch one day and froze the remaining cookie dough to bake another day as we had a morning tea at work later that week.

Here's the recipe for you for Basic, Great Chocolate Chip Cookies - from Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady (Ten Speed Press).

Makes about 38 cookies

1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, chopped
3¼ cups (415 g) all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons medium-grain kosher salt
1½ cups (320 g) packed light brown sugar
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 ounces (340 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
75 g coarsely chopped pecans
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat an oven to 360°F (180°C). Line 2 heavy baking sheets or sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan over the lowest heat possible, melt the butter. There should be no sizzle, crackling, or pops; let the butter ooze into liquid, without boiling, so minimal moisture is lost. Stir regularly, until the butter is almost completely melted. (This is a good time to chop the chocolate.)

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. Set aside.

Pour the melted butter into a large bowl and whisk in the sugars. The mixture may look like it will seize, but it will relax with a few seconds of stirring. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking briskly after each addition, but only to combine. Stir in the vanilla. Use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to stir in the dry ingredients. Once mostly blended, fold the chocolate and pecans into the dough until the remaining flour is incorporated, and the dough no longer looks dusty. Bring any stray ingredients up from the bottom of the bowl. Do not overmix.

If the dough seems warm or looks overly glossy, refrigerate for 5 minutes. Then roll into balls using 3 tablespoons of dough for each. Arrange on the prepared pans, leaving 3 inches (7.5 cm) in between each. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired. Bake until the tops are cracked and lightly golden, yet the cookies are still soft at the centre, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking. Leave the cookies on the sheet pan for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Continue shaping and baking cookies with the remaining dough, making sure to use a cold sheet pan for each batch.

The cookies can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

If you have the patience, hold the dough in the fridge overnight and for up to a few days before baking, portioned in scoops and covered. Ageing the dough allows for the flour to better absorb the liquids. The flavour will become deeply caramelized and nuanced, and the cookies will have more colour, but slightly less spread. I usually bake one tray for immediate gratification, and keep the rest for later demand.

Thin and Crunchy Variation: For a thinner, crunchy-through-and-through cookie, use 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons (390 g) flour.

Shiny and Crisp Variation: For a shinier cookie with a crisp surface and edge, decrease the brown sugar to 1¼ cups (265 g) packed light brown sugar and increase the granulated sugar to ¾ cup (150 g).

Whole Wheat Variation: Some or all of the all-purpose flour can be replaced with whole wheat or rye. It will, of course, change the texture and look of the finished cookie, but is worthy of a try.

Nutty Variation: This amount of dough can accommodate ¾ cup (75 g) chopped walnuts or pecans.

To make ahead, shape the dough in scoops or logs, wrap tightly, then seal in bags, and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Frozen scoops can be baked without defrosting, while logs should be held in the fridge until soft enough to slice. Reduce the oven temperature to 330°F (165°C) and increase the baking time as needed.

I've just eaten the last of these cookies and they were just as good if not better a week later. Mmm, I think I might need to whip up another batch.

Bye for now,


plate 2 plate - red lentil hummus

23 May 2016

Hi Every-one,

it's time for another Plate 2 Plate post where Juliana and I make, style and photograph the same recipe. This time Juliana chose Heidi Swanson's red lentil hummus recipe. I eat hummus all the time but rarely make it and if I do make it, I admit to using tinned chick peas. I was intrigued by the recipe and wondered how the red lentil hummus would taste. Apart from the black sesame seeds I had all the other ingredients in my pantry.

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It looks like Juliana did as well.

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The first thing I noticed when I opened Juliana's files were how different her red lentils looked compared to mine. 

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Juliana used what we'd call yellow split peas in Australia and it might explain why our finished hummus looked so different. Here's Juliana's hummus, looking well just like hummus should.

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Here's how the two finished products looked side by side. Juliana's in is on the left; my effort is on the right.

My batch was a bit of a disaster. 

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My red lentil hummus was quite grainy and watery and looked more like a sauce than hummus. The recipe made a huge amount and while I like hummus, I decided against making another batch.

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Inspired by my copy of 'Falafel for Breakfast' I decided to prepare a Middle Eastern feast. As well as the hummus I made some za-atar bread; an Israeli chopped salad and some tasty beef kofta. I filled the bread with the salad and the kofta and drizzled over the red lentil hummus/sauce. Together it tasted great!

Here's the recipe for you from NEAR & FAR: RECIPES INSPIRED BY HOME AND TRAVEL by Heidi Swanson

Red Lentil Hummus
2 ½ cups cooked red lentils (see Note)
2 medium cloves garlic
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
⅔ cup (160 ml) tahini
¾ tsp fine-grain sea salt
2 to 3 tablespoons whey, kefir, or warm water
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
Extra-virgin olive oil, toasted sesame oil, minced chives, and/or chive blossoms, to serve

Start by adding the cooked lentils and garlic to a food processor and pulsing for at least a minute, scraping the paste from the corners once or twice along the way.

Add the lemon juice, tahini, and sea salt. Blend again, another minute or so. Don’t skimp on the blending time, but stop if the beans form a doughy ball inside the processor. At this point start adding the whey a splash at a time. Blend, blend, blend, until the hummus is smooth and light, aerated and creamy.

Taste, and adjust to your liking—adding more lemon juice or salt, if needed. Serve topped with the black sesame seeds, and preferably, a good amount olive oil, a few drops of toasted sesame oil, lots of chives and chive blossoms.

Note: Rinse 1½ cups (9 oz or 255 g) dried red lentils well and place in a saucepan with 1¾ cups (415 ml) of water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender, roughly 15 minutes.

Thanks once again to Juliana for continuing to make Plate 2 Plate happen.

See you all again next week.

Bye for now,

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