Archive for the 'cakes' Category

December Daring Bakers challenge: stollen wreath!

I was very excited when I read what December’s Daring Bakers challenge was! I’ve been wanting to make stollen for a long time now, and I even had all the ingredients in the cupboard. I had spied a recipe in the latest BBC Food magazine, but Penny’s recipe seemed more simple and straight-forward so I couldn’t wait to give it a try!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Stollen is a delicious German Christmas ‘bread’ that is packed with all the same goodies as a Christmas cake. It keeps beautifully fresh and is wonderful toasted with a little butter. The bread takes a little effort and planning, but it is totally worth it. This recipe made a large-looking wreath, but it did not last a week in the Pig Palace! I will definitely be making this one again, very soon. Merry Christmas everyone!

 

Stollen Wreath

Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people
Ingredients

¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.

Put the raisins in a small bowl, and soak in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To make the dough

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests. Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh – especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.
The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days and it toasts superbly.

Storage
The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.
The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar: Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and one month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

 

Boozy Christmas cake

Have you ever done something you know you shouldn’t do (and you’ve been told you are definitely not allowed to do) but do it anyway? I have definitely been guilty of that this week. One of the guys I work with has become my wine guru. He recommends fantastic vineyards I’ve never heard of that produce amazing wines, and points me to websites that sell wine for good prices. Which is where the trouble started…

I count beans for a living (accountant-type stuff), and because of this I am “careful” with my money. My grandparents are Dutch, so I was born with a natural predisposition to spend money only when it was a bargain or when the item was needed. When I was a kid, I used to stuff the $200 notes at the beginning of a Monopoly game under the board so I always had some saved at the end. No matter what it is, if I consider it of value I will squirrel it away for a rainy day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Combining my inner squirrel with an online wine auction site is a very dangerous thing. My wine guru sent me to this wonderful site, and Frank has been regretting it ever since. I have managed to bag some wonderful wines for a quarter of the price in the shop, but my love of a bargain has turned into an obsession. The other night I bid on two cases when I only wanted one, and Frank told me to no longer order wine until we’d finished what we had. But the next day I went back online, and two additional cases are due to hit the Pig Palace next week. (Frank doesn’t know yet, so I’m hoping he won’t notice the extra boxes in the dining room…)

My excuses are: a) they are bargains, b) we are having lots of guests to share it with, and c) the Festive season is almost upon us! And as I love all things Christmas so much, I thought it was high time we begin some Pig Palace Christmas traditions. First one off the block – boozy Christmas cake! Frank isn’t the biggest fan, but Mom and I are, so I’ve made two to stew in the cupboard until the great unveiling at Christmas.
This recipe is so easy and straight-forward. Give it a try!
Easy boozy Pig Palace Christmas cake – recipe from the BBC Good Food website

200g butter , softened to room temperature
200g dark muscovado sugar
200g plain flour
4 eggs , beaten
50g ground almonds
100ml sherry , sweet or dry, whatever you have in the cupboard
85g candied peel , roughly chopped
85g glacé cherries , roughly chopped
250g raisins
250g currants
100g pack pecans nuts, broken into big pieces
finely grated zest 1 lemon
1½ tsp mixed spice
1½ tsp rosewater
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking powder

Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Line the base and sides of a 20 cm round, 7.5 cm deep cake tin. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer for 1-2 mins until very creamy and pale in colour, scraping down the sides of the bowl half way through. Stir in a spoonful of the flour, then stir in the beaten egg and the rest of the flour alternately, a quarter at a time, beating well each time with a wooden spoon. Stir in the almonds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mix in the sherry (the mix will look curdled), then add the peel, cherries, raisins, cherries, nuts, lemon zest, spice, rosewater and vanilla. Beat together to mix, then stir in the baking powder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spoon mixture into the tin and smooth the top, making a slight dip in the centre. Bake for 30 mins, then lower temperature to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2 and bake a further 2-2¼ hrs, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave to cool in the tin, then take out of the tin and peel off the lining paper. When completely cold, wrap well in cling film and foil to store until ready to decorate. The cake will keep for several months. If you want to, brush the cake with a small amount of sherry once a week until Christmas…

Sticky banoffee cake

I’m back! Apologies for my absence. My wonderful family has been and gone, and took with them a good taste of what the Promised Land has to offer them. But I miss them terribly and I can’t wait until they move here!

When I was a kid, nothing much irritated me. But as a 20-something year-old, I seem to have added quite a few things to the “PLEASE don’t do” list. At first I thought it was inherited, but now I realise that it is an inevitable symptom of getting older. Things just seem to irritate people more the older they get. Which doesn’t bode well considering many things already fire me up!

I was told off by an older lady last week for dragging my feet. Considering I wasn’t walking very far, I couldn’t understand why this would annoy her so much. She also likes to stand behind me and pull my shoulders back (I slouch something terrible), which reminds me of what my Gran used to do when I was a teenager.

The school run on the train has always annoyed me. Of course, “in my day”, we would have given our seats to adults. But we didn’t catch trains in South Africa, and I had the luxury of the front seat of our car (if I was lucky/made a deal with dude) so I wouldn’t really know how I would have reacted. But still!

And on the note of getting older (sorry Whitters, you are still a pup), it was Frank’s brother-in-law’s birthday last week. As is tradition, I made a cake to celebrate. Whitters is one of the best audiences to bake for – he loves baked goods and isn’t too fussed if they don’t look lovely as long as they taste lovely. Since he loves banana cake (well, I hope he does), I decided to make a banoffee banana cake. And since I had loads of icing left over, I made another one for the Pig Palace! The cake was simple to make, and tastes delicious! Perfect for afternoon tea…

Sticky banoffee cake – recipe from the BBC Good Food website

200g caster sugar
200g softened butter
4 eggs , beaten
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 mashed, ripe bananas

For the filling:

284ml double cream
4 tbsp tinned caramel/banoffee toffee

Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Butter two 20cm sandwich tins and line with non-stick baking paper. In a large bowl, beat all the cake ingredients together including the vanilla extract and 2 mashed, ripe bananas, until you have a smooth, soft batter.

Divide the mixture between the tins, smooth the surface with a spatula or the back of a spoon, then bake for about 20 mins until golden and the cake springs back when pressed. Turn onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.

For the filling, whip the double cream and fold through the Banoffee toffee. To serve, spread half of the cream over one of the cakes.Sandwich together, then cover with more cream then decorate the cake with an elegant drizzle of Banoffee toffee. Keep in an airtight container and eat within 2 days.

Croquembouche!

I originally started this blog to track my monthly Daring Cook’s challenges, but it rapidly evolved to showcasing whatever gets whipped up in the Pig Palace kitchen. I love the Daring Cook’s challenges, but they only come once a month and I’ve often completed them within the first week! So, being brave, I’ve signed up to be a Daring Baker as well.

I’ve been watching the Daring Baker challenge reveals of my fellow foodies every month, and the Baker’s challenges look like such fun. They also look rather hard! But, I’m a firm believer in putting your head down and doing it. After all, I thought, how hard can something be? (Feel free to scoff at this point, I certainly did in hindsight!)

Seeing a beautiful croquembouche on Not Quite Nigella’s website, I was inspired to give it a try. I wouldn’t normally have dared to try it, but I remembered there was a recipe for it on the Daring Kitchen website for their Bakers’ May challenge. Apparently It was featured on the first season’s Masterchef, but those recipes require a mandatory 5 days in the kitchen and I wanted my croquembouche sooner (and with less effort) than that!

The recipe provided was fantastic. I was convinced every element of the dish would be hard, but in fact it was only the assembly that caused a few tears and a large quantity of sailor-mouth. The Crème Patissiere filling was straight-forward and delicious, and the choux pastry (which I thought was very difficult to get right) turned out light and fluffy. Even piping the custard into the buns was simple. It was just that darned toffee!!

The toffee turned beautifully amber, and then just solidified. I used tongs so I didn’t burn myself, but ended up ripping some of my buns while trying to drag them through the solidified toffee. Then when I held the buns to place them on the plate I touched the toffee and flicked the bun across the room in reflex. The toffee stuck to the counter and the bun rolled away, and I was left nursing a (tiny) blister and a counter covered in hardened toffee. I wasn’t able to decorate the croquembouche as I’d like, but I managed to get it looking like a tower-ish.
Despite the injuries, the effort was definitely worth it! I’ll definitely use the Crème Patissiere and the choux recipe again, but leave out the toffee in future efforts…

Croquembouche – recipe from the Daring Bakers’ May challenge

You will need approximately 10 minutes to prepare the puff pastry, 10 minutes to pipe and about 30 minutes to bake each batch. The crème patissiere should take about 10 minutes to cook and then will need to be cooled for at least 6 hours or overnight. The glazes take about 10 minutes to prepare.

For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere
2 cups (450 ml.) whole milk
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
12 Tbsp. (200 g.) sugar
2 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
4 Tbsp. (60 g.) unsalted butter
2 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat. Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook. Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.

Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 24)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.Preparing batter: Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Piping:
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Baking:
Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool. Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.

Filling:
When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Piece Montée:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate.

Healthy carrot & banana loaf

As a kid I hated Sunday afternoons. I knew the weekend was almost over, and that school was only a few hours away. My parents used to go off for their naps and I would be left to potter around the house, trying in vain to entertain myself. Normally my brother would be out, but if he was home I would go and harrass him in an attempt to have a little fun. Although this would often end in a dunk in the pool or enough screams to wake one of my parents up, which wasn’t an ideal way to end the weekend…

This is how I felt on Sunday afternoon. Like a kid left to my own devices. Frank has been ill lately, and spent a large portion of the day asleep. Knowing that work was on the horizon, I was desperate to do something useful so the weekend wasn’t just wasted time. I had already baked a loaf cake, cleaned up our guest bedroom, and planted some lavender we bought that morning; so I was left to potter around the house not knowing what to do. My mom had recently sent me a recipe for carrot and banana cake, so I decided to make a healthy-ish one for Frank when he feels okay to eat.

This recipe is easy to adapt, and very tasty. It doesn’t have any dairy in it, so is perfect for those who are lactose intolerant.

Healthy carrot & banana loaf – adapted from the recipe in the Snowflake book of baking

100ml brown sugar (100g)
2 eggs
100ml oil
25ml water/tea/rooibos (I used rooibos of course!)
250ml whole wheat flour
10ml baking powder
5ml bicarb
250ml finely grated carrot
2 bananas, mashed
125ml seedless raisins or sultanas
125ml chopped walnuts
handful pitted dates, finely chopped

Whisk sugar, water, eggs & oil together.

Add dry ingredients alternately with carrot, bananas, raisins, walnuts and dates to egg mixture.

Pour into a greased loaf tin.  Bake in preheated oven at 180°C (350° F) for 35-40 mins.

Leave in tin for a few minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.  Dust with icing sugar if desired.

Rooibos and vanilla loaf cake

My cupboard is a mess. So much so that I have to store half my shoes in Frank’s cupboard, much to his annoyance. He leaves his shoes in the lounge, so I always take the opportunity to sneak my shoes into his shoe-space when he’s not looking. Sometimes I’m even too lazy to put my shoes in his cupboard, so I leave them next to the bed. But then I throw dirty clothes over them and end up tripping on them every time i go back into the bedroom. (Frank doesn’t see them either, so it’s worth hiding them to laugh when he trips and swears!)

My cupboard can no longer close, so as Frank has been feeling very under the weather today I decided to clean out the cupboards and find all those clothes I’d forgotten about. And what better way to reward myself than with a cake!

A couple of weeks ago I entered a competition on Not Quite Nigella’s site and won myself a box of rooibos tea. For those of you who don’t know, rooibos (or redbush) tea is a herbal tea that originated in the Cedarberg in South Africa. I’ve been interested in using it in food, and decided to adapt a recipe to make rooibos and vanilla loaf cake. It has a wonderful delicate and sweet flavour, and worked well in the cake. It is best eaten with a nice hot cup of rooibos tea!



Rooibos and vanilla loaf cake – adapted from BBC Good food recipe for Jaffa loaf cake

140g butter , softened
200g self-raising flour
1 1⁄2 tsp baking powder
200g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs
1 bag rooibos tea covered in 3 tbsp boiling water (steeped for 5 mins)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk

to finish:
1 bag rooibos tea covered in 3 tbsp boiling water (steeped for 5 mins)
50g golden caster sugar
50g dark chocolate

Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line the base of a 1.2-litre loaf tin. Put all the cake ingredients and the tea (excluding tea bag of course!) into a bowl and beat with a hand whisk or wooden spoon for 3-5 mins, until light and fluffy.

Spoon the mix into the tin and level the top.

Bake for 40-50 mins, until golden brown and firm to the touch. Meanwhile, dissolve sugar in boiling water with tea bag. When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and spoon over the tea. Leave to cool in the tin, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Break up the chocolate and melt over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave on Medium for 1-2 mins. Drizzle over the cake and leave to set.

Honey cake with honeyed almond crunch

When I lived in London I used to confuse everyone by saying it felt like Christmas when the sun started shining and the days became spring-like. Coming from the Southern Hemisphere I love hot Christmases, and the thought of summer gets me hopping about like a small child.

Sydney has been putting on a wonderful show of spring lately. We have been lucky enough to have two wonderful weeks of sunshine and fairly warm weather while it is still technically winter.  On Friday I got the fuzzy “yay, summer and Christmas are coming!” excitement, and realized with utter joy that this year will be my first proper hot Christmas for 6 years. (We moved here just before last Christmas, but we had only just landed and it still felt like a holiday so I didn’t get the Christmas build-up…)

As Sydney and I have had our good and bad times over the last couple of months, I thought I would regale you with some of the reasons I love Sydney/Australia:

  • The weather is proper. It is hot in summer, cold in winter, and utterly wonderful in between. You get a chance to appreciate both the cold and the heat as you experience extremes (ish) of both
  • There are so many different places in Australia to see, and each is like a different country
  • The food in Sydney, and in Australia, is of very high quality
  • The Australian culture is fantastic. (Despite my recent discovery that Australians don’t like South Africans very much…)
  • Australians work hard and play hard. I enjoy the playing part the most, the working part takes a little getting used to
  • Outside of Sydney working hours, the people are relaxed and friendly. (Although sometimes a little too close for comfort)
  • We have a cute little home for a fraction of the rent we paid in the UK
  • I have been able to get into food blogging, and get involved in food blogging, which is something important in my life
  • I learned how to dive! YAY!
  • Our Christmases are hot. Often rainy, but hot.

As I am feeling all spring-like at the moment, I decided I would make a delicious loaf to celebrate the wonderful Sydney weather. Frank loves honey, and although I’m not the biggest fan, I thought I would give this recipe a go. It turned out rather tasty in the end!

Honey cake with honeyed almond crunch – recipe from the BBC Good Food website

175g slightly salted butter , softened, plus extra for greasing
85g clear honey, plus 4 tbsp for drizzling and extra to serve
85g caster sugar
85g ground almonds
200g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
100ml natural yogurt
2 large eggs , one separated, plus 1 extra egg white
85g flaked almonds

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease a 900g/2lb loaf tin and line with a strip of baking parchment that overhangs each end – this will help you lift the cake out when it is cooked.

Put the butter, honey, caster sugar, ground almonds, flour, baking powder, bicarb and yogurt into a large mixing bowl. Put the egg whites into another small bowl. Put the yolk and remaining whole egg in with all the other ingredients.

Whisk the whites until stiff, then put your electric beater into the other bowl of ingredients and beat until just smooth. Stir in a third of the whites, then gently fold in the rest with a wooden spoon. Tip the mix into the prepared tin, scatter over the flaked almonds and bake for 55 mins on the middle-lower shelf of the oven until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven. Quickly drizzle with 2 tbsp honey and scatter with a small pinch of fine salt. Put back in the oven for 5 mins more. Remove from the oven, drizzle with 2 more tbsp honey, then cool in the tin on a wire rack. Release stuck almonds from around the edge with a knife; then, using the parchment overhangs, carefully lift the cake from the tin. Eat in slices, drizzled with a little extra honey if you like.


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