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apple cheesecake

26 Jun 2017



Hi Every-one,

This simple little apple cheesecake probably garners more compliments than anything I've ever made and as I've been making it for 30 years now, I think I've ironed out any wrinkles in the recipe. It has appeared on the blog before, albeit many years ago. When I checked the archives during the weekend, I discovered I hadn't posted the recipe.  




The original recipe made a 9 inch cake but I made an 8 inch/20 cm cheese cake for a work morning tea so I had to adapt the quantities to fit the tin. I made the base and filling the night before I baked the cheesecake so all I had to do was pre-heat the oven and prepare the apple topping. You can make the cheesecake using regular beaters but I've always used a food processor to make both the base and the filling. The apples you'll need to slice by hand or I guess you could use a mandolin.



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 oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Apple Cheesecake (makes an 8 inch cake) 
Base 
75 grams unsalted butter 
tbs caster sugar 
⅔ cup Plain Flour 
½ teaspoon vanilla essence 

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and creamy. Mix in the flour and combine until the mixture forms a soft dough. If you prefer, place all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and combine until a soft dough forms around the blade. Press the mixture into the base of a greased 20 cm spring-form tin, bringing it slightly up the sides. 

Filling 
1 250 gram packet of cream cheese, softened 
1 egg 
¼ cup caster sugar 
½ teaspoon vanilla essence 
1 tablespoon yoghurt 

In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and whiz until smooth. Pour over the base. 

Topping 
1 peeled, cored and thinly sliced apple
1 tablespoons caster sugar 
¼ teaspoon cinnamon 
1-2 tbs flaked almonds 

Preheat the oven to 220° C. Layer the sliced apples over the filling.  Combine the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the filling. Finally top with the almonds. Bake for 10 minutes then lower the temperature to 190° C and bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until the filling is just set and the apples are lightly browned. Allow to cool in the turned off oven for 10-15 minutes, before removing from the oven. When cold, remove from the tin before cutting into slices to serve.


It's such a simple recipe using only a few ingredients but it does make a very delicious dessert. What you'll get are equal quantities of buttery vanilla scented shortbread, cheesecake filling with a topping of cinnamon flavoured apples and a little bit of crunch from the toasted flaked almonds. Delicious.

I'm not sure if there'll be a food post next Monday because this time next week I'll be in Cape Town. I'll post when I can but I think I'll be in an internet free zone most of the time I'll be in Namibia, so you'll see me when you see me.


Bye for now,


Jillian
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lemon yoghurt bundt cake

19 Jun 2017



A few weeks back I was invited to dinner by a friend and as always, I offered to bring a dessert. My friend's son doesn't like chocolate or creamy things so that means I usually bring along a fruit or citrus based dessert. I was time poor, so that ruled out a fruit dessert so I thought I'd whip up a lemon yoghurt cake. The recipe uses oil instead of butter so I didn't have to cream the butter and sugar. There was still a lot of measuring, lemon juicing and rind grating though but once that's done, it's quick to put together. 



I've made this cake before as a mini version but this was the first time I'd made the large model.Whenever I make a bundt cake, I'm always a little terrified that the cake won't unmould successfully from the tin. I very thoroughly greased and floured the tin then kept my fingers crossed. Thankfully the cake came out of the mould without the need to resort to violence.



A little drizzle of icing never goes astray and the thyme leaves seem to enhance the lemon flavour.



As I was bringing the cake along for dessert I couldn't cut a sneaky slice to show you how the cake looks inside. It's not a fluffy cake by any means. It's moist, quite tangy and solid in texture but not heavy or dense, if you know what I mean.



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 oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Lemon Yoghurt Cake

Ingredients
1⅓ cups caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tbl finely grated lemon rind (2 small lemons)
200 ml vegetable oil
2½ cups self-raising flour
Pinch salt
1 cup Greek yoghurt
⅔ cup lemon juice

Lemon drizzle icing
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tsp melted butter
a little boiling water
Fresh thyme leaves

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C (conventional). Grease and flour a large bundt tin.

In a large bowl, combine the caster sugar, the egg and the grated lemon rind. Gradually add the oil and mix thoroughly.

Sift the flour with the pinch of salt and stir into the egg mixture in thirds, alternately with the yoghurt and the lemon juice. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes. The top should be golden and when tested, a skewer comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a rack.

Icing
To make the icing, combine the sifted icing sugar with the lemon juice and the melted butter in a small bowl. Add a little boiling water to make a smooth icing. Drizzle the icing over the cake then decorate with fresh thyme leaves.



Not much longer now 'til I fly to South Africa. Just 10 more sleeps! 

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,

Jillian
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plum and walnut babka

12 Jun 2017



When I brought this babka into work one of my colleagues asked if I had a plum tree in the garden. No I don't have a plum tree but 'I wish' was my reply, because I love baking with plums. This babka came about following my epic fail making an apple babka inspired by a recipe by Uri Sheff. The dough didn't rise very much; there wasn't enough filling for the babka; when I twisted the dough as per the instructions the filling fell out and I didn't make quite enough syrup to moisten the cake when it came out of the oven. Despite all this, the apple babka tasted pretty good. Uri mentioned the babka worked well with plums so away I went to work on my own plum version. 




I used my cinnamon and walnut babka recipe as a base then topped the lot with some oven baked plums. I then kept my fingers crossed that it would all work out. Thankfully it did and I can't tell you how good a slice of this was still warm from the oven. Now making babka is a fiddle, I'm not going to lie. There are many steps and it takes 1-2 days from beginning to end but for a lot of this time the dough is resting. Many recipes make two babkas but as my freezer is small I have no place to store a second babka so I only made one and a large one at that.



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 oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Plum Walnut Babka
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 to 2 tbls milk or water
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup sugar


Oven Baked Plums
500g deseeded plums, sliced
1½ tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat oven to 200°C. Place the sliced plums into medium, shallow ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until the plums are just tender. Cover and leave in the switched off oven until cold then refrigerate until needed.

Yeast Mixture
2 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp flour
1 tsp sugar
¼ cup warm milk

Dough
2 cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup caster sugar
75 g unsalted butter

Filling
80 g soft butter
100 g brown sugar
1 tsp golden or maple syrup
4 tsp ground cinnamon
50 g almond meal
50g toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

Syrup
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick

In a small bowl, combine the yeast with 1 tsp flour and 1 tsp sugar and the lukewarm milk. Cover and set to one side for about 10 minutes until the mixture froths up, then continue on with the rest of the recipe.
For the dough, sift the flour and salt together into a bowl. Add the sugar then rub in the softened butter. In a small jug, combine the egg and vanilla and add sufficient milk or water to make ¼ cup of liquid. Add the yeast mixture to the flour followed by the egg mixture and mix until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes before removing the soft dough and placing into a greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave in a warm place for about an hour before placing the dough in the fridge to rest overnight.

The following day bring the dough back to room temperature while you prepare the filling. Grease and line the base and sides of a loaf pan with non-stick baking paper. In a small bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, the syrup and the ground cinnamon. Mix in the almond meal to form a paste, ensuring there are no lumps in the mixture. Drain the plum slices.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle measuring 15 by 11 inches (38 by 28 cm). Trim the sides to make them even, then position the dough so that a long side is closest to you. Use an offset spatula to spread the filling over the rectangle, leaving a ¾ in/2 cm border all around. Top with the drained plum slices, then sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the plums. Brush a little bit of water along the long end farthest away from you. Use both hands to roll up the rectangle like a roulade, starting from the long side that is closest to you and ending at the other long end. Press to seal the dampened end onto the roulade and then use both hands to even out the roll into a perfect thick cigar. Rest the cigar on its seam.



Trim about ¾ in/2 cm off both ends of the roulade with a serrated knife. Now use the knife to gently cut the roll into half lengthwise, starting at the top and finishing at the seam. You are essentially dividing the log into two long even halves, with the layers of dough and filling visible along the length of both halves. With the cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of each half, and then lift the right half over the left half. Repeat this process, but this time lift the left half over the right, to create a simple, two-pronged plait. Gently squeeze together the other ends so that you are left with the two halves, intertwined, showing the filling on top. Carefully lift the cake into the loaf pan. Place the tin into a plastic bag, tie loosely and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours. The cake will rise by 10 to 20 percent. 



Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C, making sure you allow plenty of time for it to heat fully. Remove the babka from the plastic bag then place the babka on the middle rack of the oven, and bake for about 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

The plum babka is pretty juicy so you may want to skip the syrup. Otherwise while the cake is in the oven, make the syrup. Combine the water, sugar and cinnamon stick in a saucepan; place over medium heat and bring to the boil. As soon as the sugar dissolves, reduce the heat and simmer the syrup for 5 minutes. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush the syrup over. It is important to use up all the syrup. Leave the cake until it is just warm, then remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely before serving.



This makes a very moist but absolutely scrumptious cake which could last 3-4 days but it's always been eaten well before then.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,

Jillian


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home-made crumpets

5 Jun 2017



Growing up, my winter after school snack was always a toasted crumpet slathered with butter. A few months back I saw a photo of a chocolate crumpet on instagram and was immediately intrigued and vowed to make a batch. However as I'd not made crumpets before I thought I better make a batch of regular crumpets first.



I didn't have any crumpet rings though, so I found a set online, ordered them then waited 2 weeks for the crumpet rings to make the 7 km journey from the store to the local post office. Thanks Australia Post.




Since their arrival, I've made 2 batches of crumpets. I used the recipe on the back of the crumpet rings and also this Bill Granger recipe. The Bill Granger recipe took longer to make and had more steps but yielded a more consistent crumpet so that's the recipe I'm posting. 



The home-made crumpets are smaller, softer and definitely more tasty than the shop bought kind. They freeze very well and as I discovered, make an excellent midnight snack toasted and topped with butter and some home made blackberry jam.

Here's the recipe for you and just a reminder that I use a 250 ml cup for all my recipes.

English Crumpets - recipe from Sydney Food by Bill Granger  

Makes 16 8.5cm crumpets  

Ingredients 
1½ cups of milk 
1½ tsp sugar 
7g dried yeast 
375g plain flour 
½ tsp salt 
½ tsp baking soda 
200ml water 

Method 
Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat until just warm. Transfer into a bowl and add the sugar and yeast. Allow to stand for 10 minutes or until the milk starts to bubble. 

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the milk/yeast mixture to the flour and beat until completely smooth. The mixture will be quite thick at this stage. Cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place for 1- 1½ hours until doubled in volume and full of air bubbles. 

Mix the baking soda with the water and combine this with the crumpet mixture to make a kind of gloopy batter. Leave to stand for 30 minutes 

Heat a heavy based frying pan or griddle over a medium heat and grease with a little butter. Thoroughly grease the crumpet moulds and re-grease them between batches. Place the crumpet rings on the hot surface and place 2 tbs of mixture inside the ring. Don’t overfill as the mixture will rise in the rings whilst cooking. 

Within a short period of time your crumpets should get small bubbles all over the surface that begin to break. Cook for about 10 minutes until surface is covered in broken bubbles and the top is dry.  Remove the crumpet rings, turn gently and cook on the other side until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and wrap the crumpets in a clean tea towel while you cook the rest. Any leftovers can be frozen for later and toasted before serving.



I can't imagine buying shop bought crumpets again. Now that I have my crumpet rings, it's time to work on that chocolate crumpet recipe.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,

Jillian 
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chocolate halva brownies

29 May 2017

Brownies. I thought I'd baked every flavour combination there was until I started seeing chocolate halva brownies popping up on instagram.



I grew up eating halva though I haven't had a piece in years. I decided to make some chocolate halva brownies and looked online for recipe ideas. 



I found a few recipes that added tahini to the mix. I'm a bit ambivalent about tahini as I find it too bitter. I measured out a small amount of tahini to add to the batter then at the last minute didn't use it.



In the end I used my regular brownie recipe and added 125 grams of coarsely chopped vanilla halva that I bought at my local deli. I grew up eating Israeli halva so assumed it was a middle eastern sweetmeat. The deli from which I bought the halva was Macedonian. My Maltese colleague also grew up eating halva as did a Greek work mate. I had no idea halva was eaten in so many countries.



The brownies came out of the oven suitably squidgy and I couldn't wait to try them. If you'd like to make a batch of chocolate halva brownies, you can find the recipe below. 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 oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.





Chocolate Halva Brownies
125g (4 oz) vanilla halva, cut into 1-2 cm chunks
½ cup plain flour then remove 1½ tbs of the flour
1½ (20 ml) tbs cocoa
125g (4 oz) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
185g (6 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
⅔ cup caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (conventional). Grease and line the base and sides of a 9 inch (23cm) square pan with baking paper or aluminium foil, making sure the paper goes up all four sides. Place the halva cubes over the base of the tin.

Sift the flour with the cocoa into a small bowl. Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl placed over a medium saucepan filled with simmering water, stirring until smooth. You could also do this in the microwave. Remove the bowl from heat and beat in the ⅔ cup sugar, the vanilla then the eggs.

Mix in the flour and cocoa mixture and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the batter becomes smooth and glossy. Spread the brownie mixture evenly in the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated 180°C/350°F oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the batter in the centre of the pan is just set. Cool on a wire rack, then lift out of the tin and peel away the foil or paper. Cut the brownies into squares or bars.



These will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days and they also freeze well.

I took these into work and they were a roaring success with most people intrigued by the unique flavour of the halva. One of my workmates declared these the perfect brownies, as they were crusty on top and squidgy inside. They are moist, darkly chocolate and not too sweet. I still have half a container of halva in the fridge so I guess I'll be making another batch soon.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,

Jillian


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pink finger buns

22 May 2017

Growing up, a finger bun slathered with butter and topped with icing (and the icing had to be pink) was one of my favourite treats. Sure you could get ones with plain icing (boring) and ones topped with coconut, which I thought was and still think is an abomination. 



When I was last home in Brisbane I went through my old recipe file and returned to Sydney with this finger bun recipe that I'd cut out from the Australian Women's Weekly. It's yellowed and faded and must be at least 30 years old.



I haven't had a finger bun in ages so I pulled out the recipe and stuck it to the fridge with a fridge magnet and went to work. I changed the recipe ever so slightly by adding some dried apricots and soaking the fruit first in hot tea. I just used an English Breakfast tea bag but I'm sure any other flavour would do just as well.



I shouldn't cook when tired so there were a few disasters along the way. I forgot to grease the tin so the cooked buns stuck a bit to the tray. 



Once I glazed the buns, I managed to rip the tops off half the buns while trying to get them out of the tin. Memo to self - don't bake when tired. I also ran short of icing but couldn't be bothered making any more.


Am I the only one that makes silly decisions when over tired? Thankfully I still had 4 left that were suitable to photograph and the pink icing covered a multitude of sins in the remaining buns.



I already had some natural pink food colouring in the cupboard so used a few drops to tint the icing. The finger buns looked exactly as I remembered so once they were photographed, I slathered one with butter and enjoyed it with a cup of tea. 


It tasted pretty good but honestly the finger bun would be nothing without that pink icing. If you'd like to make a batch at home here's the recipe for you which will make 8 buns. 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 oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C. If you need to feed a crowd then just double everything. 

Pink Finger Buns – makes 8

Ingredients
¼ cup sultanas
2 tbs each dried currants and coarsely chopped dried apricots
1 tea bag
½ cup boiling water
2 tsp (7 g) dry yeast
25g caster sugar
2/3 cup warm milk
2 cups (30g) plain flour
30 g (1 ounce) butter, chopped
1 egg, beaten lightly

Glaze
2 tsp caster sugar
½ tsp powdered gelatine
2 tsp hot water

Icing
1 cup icing sugar
2 tsp butter, melted
1 tbl milk, approximately
Pink food colouring

Method
In a small bowl combine the dried fruits, add the tea bag and cover with boiling water. Leave to one side to steep for at least an hour. Drain well before using.

Grease a 20 cm x 30 cm (8-inch x 12-inch) lamington pan. Combine yeast, sugar and milk in small bowl. Cover; stand in warm place about 10 minutes or until frothy. Sift flour into large bowl, rub in butter. Stir in yeast mixture, the beaten egg and the well-drained fruit and mix to a soft dough. Cover; stand in warm place about 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F. Knead dough on floured surface about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Divide dough into 8 portions; shape into buns 15 cm (6-inches) long. Place eight buns into the pan; cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap, stand in a warm place until buns are well risen. Bake buns 8 minutes; cover loosely with foil, bake a further 5 minutes or until golden brown.

For glaze, combine ingredients in small pan; stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar and gelatine have dissolved. Turn buns, top-side up, onto wire rack; brush with hot glaze, cool.

For icing, sift icing sugar into small heatproof bowl, stir in butter and enough milk to make a firm paste; tint pink with colouring. Stir over hot water until spreadable. Spread icing over top of cold buns.



My junior taste testers gave the buns the seal of approval as did the adults. I can't wait to make them again.


See you all again next week with some more baking.

Bye for now,

Jillian
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