Monday, December 27

Date, walnut, raisin, & red currant bundt cake


The best thing about Christmas is that it gives everyone a good excuse to get together and be merry. There's eating, drinking, chatting, and laughing. Hopefully there's good times had by all. And where there's all these things there's got to be dessert, and where there's dessert, there's me.

I'm always after an excuse to try new recipes, or to make something that feeds more than two people. Whenever I get together with my friends I always look forward to making a bundt cake. As I've said before, I'm not really a fan of fancy iced cake (unless there's mousse involved somewhere). On the whole, I prefer my cakes to be full of nuts and best served with a cup of coffee.

This cake fits the bill perfectly. It's dense but not dry. The fruit throughout adds flavour and texture, and syrup glaze makes it intensely orange-y.


The original recipe called for cranberries but as it was Christmas eve the day I made this cake there were none to be found anywhere. Instead I substituted dates, raisins, walnuts, and fresh red currants. Really you could use anything you like. I found the addition of fresh red currants added am intense bite to to the cake which I enjoyed but the cake would be fine without them. Not everyone has gardening obsessed parents who give them all kinds of free stuff.

The recipe itself is very simple and quick, which is excellent when you've decided you want to make a cake on a whim.

Date, walnut, raisin, & red currant bundt cake

(adapted from Genesis of a Cook)
Makes one 10-12 cup bundt cake

120g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g (1 cup) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Zest of 1 medium orange
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
220g (2 cups) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
160ml (2/3 cup) buttermilk
50g (1/2 cup) fresh dates, chopped
50g (1/2 cup) walnuts
40g (1/4 cup) raisins
2 medium sized bunches of fresh red currants, or 40g (1/4 cup) dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Thoroughly grease and flour a 10-12 cup bundt tin.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk thoroughly.

Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until it is light a fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the orange zest and vanilla bean seeds and beat until well combined.

Reduce the mixer to low, add half the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add half the buttermilk and continue to mix until combined. Add the remaining half of the flour, and then the buttermilk. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the dates, walnuts, raisins, and currants.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then invert it onto a rack and let it cool for at least 20 minutes before glazing. Once cool, transfer the cake to a serving plate.

Orange Glaze

130g (1 cup) icing sugar
125ml (1/2 cup) freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest

For the glaze, combine the ingredients in a small pot over low heat. Whisk the glaze until the sugar has dissolved then pour glaze over cake. Serve at room temperature.

Friday, December 17

Raspberry & rhubarb breakfast muffins


I'm sorry little blog, you've been neglected. Life called and I left you alone and un-updated for far too long. But now I'm back, in a new tiny unit that has a kitchen that is half the size of my previous one and is just as old. Still, it's all good. A place to live is a place to live. The kitchen might not be great, but the oven turns on and that's enough to keep me happy.

Anyway, when you're in the middle of unpacking there's not much time to make something fancy. This is especially the case when half your things are still in boxes and there aren't any fancy implements within arm's reach. When I made these muffins I hadn't even unpacked my muffin tray. luckily I had unpacked my favourite muffin papers and a single baking tray. I love these muffin papers because you don't need to put them into a muffin tin, you just place them on a tray and away you go. One less thing to clean, especially when you no longer have a dishwasher. I also had a few bowls unpacked, a couple of gadgets but no whisk or stand mixer. I also had a insatiable desire for muffins and was immensely curious as to whether or not the oven actually worked. Luckily, muffins only require a few bowls, and a spatula - hooray!

These muffins are super simple and delicious straight out of the oven. With a muffin in hand unpacking seems a whole bunch more approachable.


Raspberry & rhubarb breakfast muffins

(adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking)
makes 9-12 standard muffins

285g (2 cups) unbleached plain flour
135g (2/3 cup) sugar, plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
85g (3 ounces) butter
Finely grated lemon zest
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
65ml (1/4 cup) yoghurt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup finely chopped rhubarb
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F) and position an oven rack in the centre. Place 12 muffin papers in a muffin tin, or 9 self-standing papers on a baking tray.

Place the flour, 2/3 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and stir thoroughly.

In a medium fry-pan, melt the butter with the lemon zest. Turn off the heat. Add the milk and yoghurt and let the mixture stand for a minute or two. Pour the milk into a medium bowl, add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until well blended.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour the milk mixture into the well and stir well with a spatula. Mix only until there are no streaks and the batter looks fairly smooth. A few lumps scattered throughout are fine. Gently fold through the raspberries and the rhubarb.

Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Stir together the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar, cinnamon, and ground nutmeg and sprinkle over the tops of the muffins.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops feel firm and a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Transfer the muffin tin to a rack a let cool for 5 minutes. Then, remove the muffins from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.