Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fruit Cake




  • 1kg mixed dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup red glace cherries, halved
  • 1 cup pitted dried dates, finely chopped
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 200g butter, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange rind
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2/3 cup brandy
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup blanched whole almonds
  • warmed apricot jam, to serve
  1. Place dried fruit, cherries, dates, sugar, butter, orange rind, orange juice, mixed spice, bicarbonate of soda and 1/2 cup brandy in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 8 to 10 minutes or until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer to a bowl. Cool completely.
  2. Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C fan-forced. Grease a 6cm-deep, 22cm (base) round cake pan. Line with 3 layers of baking paper, leaving a 5cm overhang
  3. Add egg to dried fruit mixture. Stir until just combined. Sift flour over mixture. Stir to combine. Spoon mixture into prepared pan. Smooth surface. Tap pan on bench top to settle mixture. Arrange almonds around edge of mixture. Bake for 3 hours to 3 hours 30 minutes, covering with foil after 2 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Drizzle over remaining brandy. Wrap pan in foil, then in a tea towel. Cool completely. Brush cake top with jam. Serve.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Home-made Wagon Wheels





Recipe adapted from tartlette

For the cookies:
250 gms unsalted butter, softened
1 cup pure icing sugar, sifted
330 gms plain flour
1/4 cup cornflour
1 egg white, lightly beaten, for brushing

For the marshmallows:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup glucose syrup
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tbsp powdered gelatin
2 tbsps cold water
2 egg whites, room temperature
2 tsps vanilla bean paste

For the chocolate glaze:
340 gms dark chocolate
vegetable oil

For the cookies, beat butter and icing sugar with an electric mixer until pale and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add flour and cornflour, stirring until a soft dough forms. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, knead until just smooth and form into a disc. Cover with glad wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 160C. Roll out shortbread on a lightly floured surface until 5mm thick. Cut 4.5cm diameter rounds and place on baking trays lined with baking paper. Refrigerate until firm, then prick cookies with a fork and brush lightly with egg white. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes until cookies are lightly golden, remove from oven and cool completely on trays before moving to a wire rack. Dollop a small amount of raspberry jam in the centre of each cookie (about 1/4 tsp).

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, glucose, and sugar, bring to a boil until it reaches soft-ball stage, or 115C on a candy thermometer. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix. Whisk the whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites. Add the vanilla bean paste and continue whipping until stiff. Transfer to a pastry bag. Pipe marshmallow onto each cookie, then allow to sit at room temperature for 1 - 2 hours. You want to marshmallow to begin to set, which will make it easier to coat in chocolate glaze. 

Melt the chocolate and 1/4 cup vegetable oil together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Add more oil as needed until glaze is as runny as desired. Adding too much runs the risk of the glaze sliding off your marshmallow peaks, not to mention your chocolate tasting oily, so add gradually and with cautio. Allow to cool for 10 - 15 mins. 

Line a tray with baking paper. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the warm chocolate glaze. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Place on the prepared trayand let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gingerbread House




3 Cups Sifted All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
3 teaspoons Mixed Spice
8 Teaspoons Ginger
1 Cup Shortening
11/2  Cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Unsulphered Molasses
2 Eggs

Sift together first 5 ingredients. Blend together molasses, shortening, sugar and eggs. Stir dry ingredients into molasses mixture. Add enough of the additional flour to make a dough stiff enough to be shaped into a disc. Refrigerate overnight for easier handling. Can be frozen

Roll to about 1/4" thickness on a floured cookie sheet. Trace the house pattern pieces onto typing paper and cut out. Arrange pattern pieces on cookie dough and carefully cut around each pattern being certain to allow 1/2" space between pieces to allow the dough to expand as it bakes.





Cut the dough with a sharp paring knife or the edge of a metal pancake turner. Be certain the walls and roof are the same size as the patterns. Remove scraps leaving house pieces on the cookie sheet. Do not attempt to shift pieces once they have been cut out. This will stretch the dough and distort the shape. Bake at 350 12-15 mins.
Cool on a wire rack



Assemble using Royal Icing as "glue". Glue the walls together first. When icing has hardened (about 15 mins) then glue on the roof. Glue on the chimney and door. When icing has hardened you may begin decorating the house with additional icing and candy.

An AMAZING Cheat:
Roll out strips of fondant and use them to anchor the house to the board and to hold the pieces together, before finishing with royal icing, makes things so much easier.




Gluten and Suger Free Banana Bread







3 eggs, separated
5 tbsp honey
4 tbsp olive oil
2 mashed bananas
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups almond flour or finely grounded almonds



Preheat the oven to 170
Cream the egg yolks and honey in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
Add the oil, vanilla, mashed banana, cinnamon, baking soda and almond flour and combine well.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Fold egg whites into the banana mixture to pull it away from the sides before gradually folding the rest of the egg whites into the mixture. 
Line a loaf tin with coconut or almond oil and pour the banana mixture into this.
Place in the oven for 40-45 mins