Banana oat bars

IMG_2637 The other day – I got to baking. And boy have I missed it. On the menu? Banana oat bars (which were inspired by these banana oat chocolate bars – with a few additions / subtractions along the way). IMG_2618 I opted for a natural nut / seed and sultana mix (instead of a straight seed mix), and left out the linseeds (I didn’t have any). Oats, dried cranberries and cinnamon rounded out the remaining dry ingredients. IMG_2621 As for the ‘wet’ ingredients – I used coconut oil and honey (in place of the rice malt syrup). Oh and a couple mashed bananas, of course. IMG_2622 Mixed together – then pressed into a lined sliced pan. IMG_2623IMG_2624 Baked for 35 minutes or so at 180C, and our house smelled amazing! IMG_2629 The recipe called for a dark chocolate drizzle – but with the dried fruit I found these were sweet enough for my liking. IMG_2631 So I kept the bars as is…. IMG_2636 A tasty return to baking indeed! What about you? Baked anything yummy recently?

Honey Joys

IMG_2099 Last week, Miss C had her “school” Christmas Party. And, as is often the case with functions such as these, we were asked to “bring a plate”. Now, normally I would jump at the chance to get creative in the kitchen. However a busy work schedule + baking a baby has taken its toll on me lately – with the kitchen coming in second to time on the couch. So I had intended to just pick up something from the shops on our way to the party. Then I found a big box of unopened cornflakes in the cupboard, and suddenly a little homemade treat didn’t seem so onerous after all. Enter….Honey Joys!  And a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Butter, sugar and honey – warmed until starting to bubble. IMG_2091 Poured over 4 cups of cornflakes, and mixed until well combined. IMG_2092 Into some muffin cases, and baked for 10 minutes. IMG_2093 Yep. That was it. IMG_2095 A (not so healthy) plate to share – done in less than 15 minutes. IMG_2096 After the party, there was not one single honey joy left – so I am calling it a win! IMG_2097 You can find the recipe here. What about you? Ever made honey joys?

Homemade jam doughnuts

IMG_2046 There are some homemade dishes that you are very proud of. Perhaps not because they turned out perfectly, but because you conquered something new, and the end result was edible. Delicious edible. Rustic , yes. Delicious rustic. These homemade jam doughnuts were just that. Inspired by some gorgeous jam gifted from Hanks Jam – and a craving for sugary warm doughnuts. The only problem being that I have never made jam doughnuts from scratch before. IMG_2023 So  what’s the deal with Hank’s Jam anyway? I had seen some at my local IGA – but was intrigued to find out…

“Hank’s, Sydney’s favourite gourmet jam, celebrates 21 years of business this year, after starting in a small kitchen near Bronte. Hank, a young chef, started making jams part time to earn some extra cash to support his love of surfing. Soon the demand and reputation of these beautifully crafted jams spread and cafes all over Sydney were demanding Hank’s Jam. After making its mark on Sydney, Hank’s continues to grow and will now be available in IGAs nationwide for all of Australia to enjoy.”

Not to mention – they tasty pretty damn good! One fine weekend afternoon, not all that long ago, I got to work. Dough was made, proved, then rolled and shaped. IMG_2027IMG_2028IMG_2035IMG_2036 And with no circle cutter in sight, it was only appropriate that I used the top of my own jam jar instead! IMG_2037IMG_2038 Left to rise… IMG_2040 Then into my trusty – albeit wonky – deep fryer…. IMG_2042IMG_2043 And somehow doughnuts sprung to life! IMG_2044 Time for the fun part! I rolled the doughnuts in a mixture of caster sugar and cinnamon while they were still warm – and piped a generous amount of the mixed berry jam inside. And, my friends, I could not have been happier with the result! IMG_2051 Sure, they were a little rustic, but the dough was light and fluffy – with just the right amount of sugary sweetness. Instantly I was reminded of the big bag of warm jam doughnuts we used to pick up from a roadside vendor when travelling to the beach for our family holiday as a child…. IMG_2050 They were most delicious when eaten while warm – and we wasted no time in indulging.  Next time I’d probably pipe even more jam into the middle – for the mixed berry filling was rather scrumptious. IMG_2053IMG_2055 So – while it was not the simplest of recipes, and most certainly not the quickest, it was a fun foray into the world of doughnut-making nonetheless! IMG_2059 Homemade Jam  Donuts – makes 20

  • 490g plain flour
  • 55g caster sugar (+ 1 cup extra)
  • 15g dried yeast
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 100g melted butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup jam
  1. Combine the flour, caster sugar, yeast and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the centre.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the milk, butter and egg yolks, then pour into the well.
  3. Stir until the mixture forms a dough, then knead for 5 minutes or until smooth. Place in a clean bowl (lightly sprayed with oil), cover and allow to prove for 1 hour (or until doubled in size).
  4. Punch down, and knead for another few minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured bench until 1cm thick.
  5. Using a 7cm round cutter, cut into circles and place on a lined baking tray. Set aside to rise for a further 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, combine caster sugar and cinnamon on a plate. Fill piping bag with jam.
  7. Heat canola oil in a deep fryer until 160-170C. Cook donuts 1 to 2 minutes each side, or until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl lined with paper towel to drain – then roll in sugar mixture to coat.
  8. Finish by piping jam into the side of each doughnut – and ENJOY!

What about you? Have you ever made your own jam doughnuts? Thanks again to Hanks Jam for the generous gift that inspired these treats! Check out their website for other ‘jammy’ recipes….

Chocolate peanut butter cupcakes

IMG_0711 Thankyou all for your words of support on my last few posts. Sharing such personal experiences is often never easy, but then it can also be incredibly therapeutic at the same time. And given our pregnancy ‘journey’ has been so very all-consuming over the last couple of years – physically and emotionally – to downplay or ignore it would just be…well….silly. One of the biggest changes I experiences during the first trimester – was a complete lack of creativity when it came to food. I’ll explain more another day – but spending time in the kitchen just had no appeal. Which was so very strange given it is normally my favourite place to be! But I am pleased to report that a sense of normalcy is starting to return, slowly but surely, and I even got my ‘bake’ on over the weekend. IMG_0687 With the RSPCA cupcake day as my inspiration, I couldn’t say no to baking a batch to share at my work’s morning tea. IMG_0689 And, instantly, I knew what flavour I would make. Chocolate and peanut butter – aka one of my favourite flavour combinations! IMG_0709 Beautifully light and fluffy chocolate cupcakes… IMG_0690 And the most indulgent peanut butter icing I’ve ever made. Yes, lovely people, there was nothing healthy about this – let me assure you! IMG_0698 Piped and finished with a halved peanut butter cup and…well…I must say I was rather chuffed with the result! IMG_0707 My little “army” of cupcakes – all ready to be shared and consumed! IMG_0700 And consumed they were Smile  IMG_0710 You can find the recipe I used here (sans the chocolate icing, and cookie). What about you? What is your favourite cupcake flavour?

Olive oil loaf with candied blood oranges

IMG_0578 The last dish in my blood orange series, is back on the sweet spectrum. A tasty little loaf to serve for afternoon tea, perhaps, or otherwise indulge in at any time of the day. IMG_0555 This loaf, while generally pretty simple, is jazzed up with blood orange zest in the cake itself, topped with blood orange slices that have been ‘candied’ and then drizzled with the infused sugar syrup. IMG_0557IMG_0559IMG_0562 The end result is a loaf that is moist, yet light… IMG_0597 I couldn’t resist adding  sprinkling of chopped pistachios to the top of the loaf also – which not only colour contrast to the vibrant red of the blood oranges – but also added a nice crunch to the loaf itself. IMG_0575 But my favourite part – was certainly the sweet sugared orange slices as well as that syrup that had found its way into the middle of the loaf. IMG_0600 A cake best eaten while still warm out of the oven, perhaps with a dollop of cream or crème fraiche.  Or even spread with a little butter. IMG_0604 A delicious end to a delicious ‘blood orange’ inspired week! Olive oil loaf with candied blood oranges For the candied blood oranges

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1-2 blood oranges, sliced thinly
  1. Combine the water, sugar, honey and cardamom in a large frypan over a medium heat. Add the orange slices in a single layer, and bring to a gentle simmer.
  2. Cook gently for 40 minutes, turning over the orange slices every 10 minutes or so.
  3. Remove orange slices and place on a piece of baking paper and set aside. Reserve sugar syrup in a small jug and keep warm.

For the loaf:

  • 2.5 cups plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • zest of one blood orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbs chopped pistachio nuts
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a loaf tin.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cardamom in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat the sugar and eggs, until light.
  4. Add the eggs, yoghurt, olive oil, zest and vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. Add the flour mix in a couple batches, and mix until just combined.
  6. Pour into the prepared tin, and smooth top.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack.
  8. Use a skewer to pierce holes in the top of the cake, then pour over half of the reserved sugar syrup. Arrange orange slices on top, brush with extra syrup and sprinkle with pistachios.
  9. Slice and serve.

Again, a big thankyou again to Red Belly Citrus for inviting me to be a part of their campaign. It’s been a lot of fun – combining two or my loves (new ingredients and recipe creation) and I will certainly be keeping an eye out for this gorgeous fruit in months to come!

Olive and sundried tomato focaccia

IMG_0356 Happy Monday lovely people. I trust that you all had a wonderful weekend. Truthfully, ours was not quite as expected. For the little Miss was unwell for most of it, so a lot of time was spent dozing on the couch – hopefully fighting off whatever bug has been present. We did, however, have a pretty busy week last week. We had guests for dinner not once, but twice, and even went out for dinner another night. And while my pants are perhaps a little tighter for it, we certainly enjoyed quite a few tasty meals. One such evening – it was roast lamb. With all the trimmings – roasted vegetables, a cauliflower bake, greens, gravy….. But besides all that  – I couldn’t resist creating a little bread dish to start. Olive and sundried tomato focaccia to be precise. IMG_0347 I followed this recipe, basically, but added some sundried tomato as well as the olives. IMG_0351 And while the end result was rather tasty – it perhaps lacked a little ‘rise’ but I’m blaming that on a shortness of proving time on what was a cold Canberra day. IMG_0353 We sliced and served the focaccia as a starter – still warm as it was fresh from the oven. IMG_0354 And it was just as yummy the following day – when I used it to make a toasted sandwich for lunch. IMG_0355 This was definitely an apt reminder at how lovely home-baked bread is – and a nudge to get my ‘bread-bake’ on more often! For it really is very simple – even if it does take a bit of prep work… IMG_0360 What about you? Do you like making your own bread?

Mesquite fruit bars

Happy new financial year lovely people! I *should* probably be starting on our tax returns, or perhaps working on finalising the business books, but instead I want to share with you this tasty little treat that made an appearance in the BBB kitchen this past weekend. Filled to the brim with dried fruit, oats and coconut… IMG_0220 And flavoured with a new ingredient – mesquite powder – I was really pleased with the end result. IMG_0216 The batter was not unlike a cake batter – and resulted in a bake that was light yet moist. IMG_0222IMG_0224 Finished with some melted dark chocolate and a sprinkle of coconut… IMG_0227 And we had ourselves quite the tasty treat for afternoon tea. IMG_0228 I loved all the “hidden” surprises – with the yummy dates and apricots shining through. Not to mention the sunflower seeds for crunch. IMG_0229 Definitely a great treat to add to our ‘lunch boxes’ this week – with half of the batch going into the freezer for future treats too! Feel free to email me for the recipe! What about you? Baked any interesting lunch-box treats lately?

Lemon meringue cake

IMG_0132 It seems that lemon meringue pie is a firm family favourite in our household. And while I love making it, I can’t deny the fact that it is time consuming. Pastry made, rested, rolled, rested….you get the idea. So with my little brother arriving into town a day after his birthday, and knowing he was also a lover of lemon meringue, I decided to get creative. And make a lemon meringue cake. In place of pastry, I cheated and cooked two vanilla cakes – from a packet (gasp). IMG_0117 I did, however, make the lemon curd from scratch. And before too long, it was time to layer. IMG_0119 Cake, lemon curd, cake, lemon curd and…..cake! IMG_0120IMG_0121IMG_0122 Sandwiched together, then covered generously in light meringue. IMG_0125IMG_0126 Finished by baking for 10 minutes or so, or until the meringue was starting to colour. IMG_0139 I was really pleased with how this turned out. It took a little time, but not a lot of time, and had all the trademark lemon meringue flavours! IMG_0131 Yes, this will most certainly be added to my ‘baking repertoire’. IMG_0197 Lemon Meringue Cake

  • 2 x packet vanilla cakes
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbs corn flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 tsp butter
  • Grated rind of one lemon
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  1. Cook the vanilla cakes as per the packet directions, then allowed to cool.  I then sliced each of the cakes into 2 horizontal layers , but only used 3 layers for the final cake. You could therefore most certainly get away using one cake if you were to slice it into 3 layers.
  2. For the lemon curd – combine the sugar, cornflour, water and juice in a small saucepan and stir until smooth. Place over a low heat, and cook – stirring – until thickened. Remove from the heat and add the egg yolks – stirring until smooth. Return to the heat,  bring to a gentle simmer  and cook for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir through the butter and lemon peel. Set aside to cool.
  3. For the meringue – whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and whisk on a high speed until stiff peaks form.
  4. To assemble – place one of the cake layers on an oven-proof plate. Top with half of the lemon curd. Repeat, and then top with the final cake layer. Spread the meringue over the top and sides of the cake to cover completely.
  5. Bake at 350C for 10-15 minutes or until the meringue has browned lightly. Cool and serve.

What about you? What is your family’s favourite dessert?

A “lighter” treat for the Cookie Monster

IMG_0081 I found a recipe for cookies, recently, that had me intrigued. Instead of butter – it used apple sauce and rice bran oil.  And, instead of a whole egg, it used an egg white only. IMG_0083 And although I didn’t have any cocoa powder (which would have resulted in the “double chocolate” its title suggested), I did throw in a good amount of dark chocolate chips. IMG_0087 Aka – sweet tooth satisfied. Even if they were a little on the ‘rustic’ side. IMG_0082 Makes 14 (adapted from Recipes +)

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup raw caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup rice bran oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce
  • 1.5 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup dark choc chips
  1. Preheat oven to 160C fan forced, and line two trays with baking paper.
  2. Whisk egg white until soft peaks form, then add sugar in stages, and continue whisking for 4 minutes or so. Add the oil, vanilla and apple sauce, and stir to combine.
  3. Add sifted flour and bicarb soda, and chocolate chips, and fold to combine.
  4. Spoon tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared trays, and press tops to flatten slightly. Cook for 12-14 minutes – then cool on the trays.

What about you? Baked any fun cookies lately?

Banana Bran Muffins

While I love cooking, I love baking even more. There is something so very relaxing about pulling together ingredients and creating a delicious sweet treat for the family to share. And with our littlest member of our family having now found her sweet tooth (thanks perhaps to Easter, or Grandad and his Freddo Frogs?!) – I’ve had to find healthier alternatives to keep her fooled… So last weekend, we got to baking. On the menu? IMG_9571 - Copy Banana bran muffins! IMG_9562 They have a little sugar, but not a lot, and are jazzed up with the addition of bran flakes, sultanas and wholemeal flour. And bananas. Of course. IMG_9564 Mixed, and spooned into muffin cases.. IMG_9565IMG_9566 Then baked until golden brown. IMG_9569 They didn’t rise as much as muffins might normally do – but they remained a nice soft muffin without being dense. IMG_9570 And while they may not have the allure of her Grandads secret chocolate stash, the little one seemed happy enough with the alternative. IMG_9574 Another bonus? Being able to freeze these – so that we can continue to enjoy them over the next few weeks too! Banana Bran Muffins – makes 12  (adapted from here)

  • 60g all bran
  • 250ml milk
  • 60g butter
  • 60g raw caster sugar
  • 1 egg
    • 130g wholemeal plain flour
    • 1tbs baking powder
    • 2 bananas, peeled and mashed
    • 80g sultanas
    1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.
    2. Soak the all bran in the milk for 10 minutes.
    3. Cream butter and sugar, until pale and creamy. Add egg, and beat well until combined.
    4. Stir in the soaked bran, sifted flour and baking powder.
    5. Fold in the banana and sultanas, and stir until just combined.
    6. Spoon into the prepared cases, and bake for 25-30 minutes.

    What about you? Do you have a favourite muffin?