Thursday, May 27



My oven can be relied on to do one thing and that's be unreliable. If a recipe says "bake for 30 minutes" it's a guarantee that the bake time will be anything but 30 minutes. It doesn't matter if the oven is up to temperature or that it took 30 minutes last time. My oven is the king of inconsistency.

So, naturally, the first time I made this I shouldn't have trusted my oven, or the cake tester for that matter. They both lied. I tested it and then took it and went to turn it out of the tin and "splat!" runny cake mix all over the bench.

Of course, I reacted in the most mature way possible. I stamped and let out a large whine. Yeah, mature.


Normally I'd give up and just spend the rest of the day sulking but not this time. The oven was already hot, the recipe was simple to put together and I even had a spare loaf tin. As they say, Try and try again.

The second attempt was a success. The Cake/quickbread cooked all the way through - thankfully. I don't think I would have been able to handle another failure.

This is a really simple recipe but it's nice and comforting. It tastes like gingerbread but in loaf form which works well for me because I adore ginger. As it cooks it fills the house (well, my tiny house at least.) with the most wonderful smell. Definitely going to make this again!


(from Delicious Magazine: Sweet)

100g (3.5 oz) unsalted butter
100g (3.5 oz) treacle
100g (3.5 oz) golden syrup
110g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
200g (2 cups) self-raising flour
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
2 eggs
125ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Grease and flour a 26cm x 7cm (10" x 3") loaf pan.

Place the butter, treacle, golden syrup, and sugar in a pan over medium heat. Stir to melt the butter and then set aside to cool slightly.

Sift the flour and spices into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and buttermilk.

Fold the slightly cooled syrup into the flour and then add the egg mixture. Stir to combine, then spoon or pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin for 5 minutes and then turn out on to a wire rack. Serve warm with ricotta or butter.

Wednesday, May 19

Orange zest & cinnamon doughnuts

orange zest doughnuts

I used to live in fear of yeast but now I'm finally overcoming my terror. Until recently I'd never, ever had a success when making yeasted dough. Everything I made would end up rock solid and awful. Absolutely awful. So I gave up and decided that yeast and I would never be friends.

Well, things change. I'm gradually building my confidence. I started simple with pizza dough and then... more pizza dough (hey, different recipe - totally counts as something new) and now, doughnuts. Delicious, delicious doughnuts.

Home-made doughnuts really are one of life's pleasures. There is absolutely nothing good about them, they're unashamedly bad for you. They're also amazing and fluffy. Nothing like those hard, slightly stale doughnuts from the shops.

These doughnuts contain orange zest which adds a degree of complexity (ugh!) to the taste. I hadn't expected them to taste as orangey as they do so I was surprised when the flavour came through so strongly. It's good though, orange flavoured doughnuts aren't something you can buy at the shops.

orange zest doughnuts

These doughnuts are supposed to be filled with chocolate ricotta but they're not. I have all the ingredients in the kitchen but after biting into one I couldn't bring myself to fill them. They're rich enough as it is. I think if I ever make them again, I'll make them smaller and then fill them. As it stands they're so large (read: normal doughnut sized) that I can't imagine making them any richer.

Orange zest & cinnamon doughnuts

(adapted from Gourmet Traveller, March 2005)
makes 16

150ml lukewarm (38-45°C) milk
75g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
410g (2 3/4 cups) plain flour
80g (2.8 oz) butter
Canola oil, for frying
165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar, extra
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place milk, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl and stir until dissolved, then stir in the eggs and orange rind. Sift flour and pinch of salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, then, on low speed, slowly pour in egg mixture and knead for 8 minutes. Increase the speed to medium, and add the butter, in 3 batches, and beat until the dough is smooth and shiny.

Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and stand in a draught-free place for 1 hour until the mixture doubles in size.

Knock down the dough, then divide into 16 pieces and roll into smooth balls. Place the balls 5 cm apart on lightly greased trays, press slightly to flatten, the cover and stand in a draught-free place for 1 hour or until risen.

Heat oil in a deep-fryer or a large saucepan to 160°C (320°F) and fry doughnuts, in batches, for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking, then drain on absorbent paper. Combine extra caster sugar and cinnamon and roll doughnuts in the sugar to coat evenly.

Doughnuts are best made on the day of serving.

Tuesday, May 11

Coconut macaroons

coconut macaroons

I know, I know, could you get more simple than coconut macaroons? They're so simple you barely even need a recipe let alone a whole blog post. Nevertheless, I'm going to continue.

My mother used to make coconut macaroons when I was a kid, they were the go to treat due to their simplicity. Her macaroons were quite different to these, they were filled with nuts and sultanas and various other things we had around the house. Most startlingly of all, they didn't use eggs.

These macaroons do use eggs so they're by no means mother's macaroons but they are a great way to use up those pesky egg whites you get stuck with after making ice cream. Ice cream that gets eaten before you ever get a chance to photograph it.

Coconut macaroons are simple, unlike the frequently misspelled, and unrelated, macaron. Sometimes simple is the way to go.

I used unsweetened coconut for these even though all the recipes I found called for sweetened coconut. They're sweet enough for me without the extra sugar. Though if you can't find unsweetened coconut, apparently, sweetened coconut is a-ok.


Coconut macaroons

makes about 20

3 egg whites
150g (5.2 oz) caster sugar
250g (8.8 oz) desiccated coconut
A handful of currants

Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and continue whipping until the whites are smooth and glossy.

Fold in the remaining sugar and all the desiccated coconut. Add the currants and mix until just combined. Cover mixture and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour to firm up.

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Line one large, or two small, baking trays.

Remove the coconut mixture from the refrigerator and, using lightly oiled hands, roll mixture into 2.5 (1 inch) balls. Place balls 2.5 cm (1 inch) apart on trays. Bake for 15 minutes or until light golden. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.