April 25, 2013


Today, April 25 is ANZAC Day (celebrated yesterday in Australia and NZ because they are a day ahead) .  It is a day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand for those "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations" and "the contribution and suffering of all those who have served." Courage, Endurance, Mateship, Sacrifice - that is the ANZAC Spirit.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, not the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."

Lest we forget.

Traditionally, each year I make ANZAC biscuits but this year I thought I would make something a little different.  I remembered seeing a slice (or bar cookie) during my travels on the web, so I went in search of it.  It turns out there are quite a few recipes out there, some very similar and some with some tweaks.  I settled on one from Taste.com.auhttp://www.taste.com.au.  I really like this site, and they also produce my favorite Australian magazine, delicious.

This ANZAC slice tastes a little like an oatmeal cookie, but it has golden syrup and coconut added.  It was a big winner in our household, and the few leftover pieces will store well because there are no eggs in this recipe, which was the original intent of the ANZAC biscuit - families of the soldiers overseas wanted something they could mail via sea to their loved ones that would not spoil easily.

(Printer Friendly Recipe)

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1¼ cups old-fashioned rolled oat
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar 
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (I used desiccated)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons butter, chopped 
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup 
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda 
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. Grease and line an 11x7 pan with baking paper, allowing a 1-inch overhang at long ends. 
  3. Combine flour, oats, sugar, salt and coconut in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. 
  4. Place butter and syrup in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until smooth. 
  5. Combine baking soda and boiling water in a jug. 
  6. Remove butter mixture from heat and stir in bicarbonate of soda mixture. 
  7. Add to flour mixture and stir to combine. 
  8. Transfer to prepared pan. Using the back of a spoon, press mixture evenly into pan (I used my hands). 
  9. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden. Cool in pan. 
  10. Once cool cut into squares and enjoy.

Recipe adapted slightly from Taste.com.au

April 21, 2013

The Cake Slice Bakers April 2013 - Lemon and Almond Streamliner Cake

The Cake Slice Baker's had spoken, vote was in, and this month's cake to be baked from Vintage Cakes was to be the Lemon and Almond Streamliner. I don't know about you but I have never heard of a "streamliner" cake before, and actually incorrectly called it a steamliner when I first started typing up this post.  The author of Vintage Cakes, Julie Richardson also had trouble finding out the conclusive reason as to why it was called a streamliner, deciding that it could have been named after "the streamlined trains and automobiles of the early twentieth century" or the "china made by the Salem China Company in the 1930's".  If I had to guess I would say that the name does have something to do with the streamlined trains, but might have more to do with a cake that was made and served on the train that became very popular leading people to say something like "I can't wait to have a slice of that streamliner cake".

I had mixed feelings about this cake because I had never really been a big fan of almond paste-flavored treats, but I loved the idea of a cake topped with lemon curd. However, I have learned that our tastes can change over the years, so I went on a search for almond paste.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a can of it in the first place I looked.  I took this as a sign that this was going to be a good cake.

The first step was to make the lemon curd so that it could cool down before use. It has a good amount of lemon zest and lemon juice, and I found that I could have just used a spoon and eaten it straight from the bowl.  Sensibility took over and I managed to get it covered with the plastic wrap before too much was devoured. The cake was next on the list, and once I had everything measured and ready to go it came together very quickly, and was actually baked in 40 minutes.  The recipes does state a little longer so keep an eye on your cake, especially if your oven runs a little hot.

It was hard for me to wait for the cake to cool down so I could assemble it.  I swear that I did wait the recommended 30 minutes but when I was inverting the cake onto the rack it cracked across the top and I had to do a quick save to stop it from splitting in half.  Next time I would leave it to cool at least another 15-30 minutes. It wasn't a big deal because I knew that the cake was going to be topped with the lemon curd anyway.

After a few bites of this cake my advice is that you run, not walk, out to get the ingredients so that you can bake it. My initial worries about the almond paste were completely unfounded.  I loved everything about this cake from the soft crumbs, the subtle taste of the almond, and that oh-so-good lemon topping. This cake is definitely one of those cakes that will impress people and have them begging for you to give them the recipe.

Only the crumbs and a lemon slice were left

Please click here to visit my fellow Cake Slice Bakers blogs to see their cakes.  And don't forget to check out our Facebook page.

Lemon and Almond Streamliner Cake

  • Grated zest of 2 lemons
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ½ cup lemon juice (from approximately 3 lemons)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1¼ cups (5 ounces) sifted cake flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup almond paste, at room temperature
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk, at room temperature

  1. To make the lemon custard, combine the lemon zest, milk, and ¼ cup of the sugar in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until just hot. 
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, thoroughly whisk together the egg yolks, the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, and the salt until well combined, then whisk in the cornstarch, then the lemon juice.
  3. Slowly whisk a third of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the hot milk and cook over medium-low heat, whisking steadily, until the custard begins to thicken and bubble for 1 minute (you will need to stop whisking for a moment to check if it is bubbling).
  4. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl and whisk in the butter until it has melted. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly upon the surface of the custard and place in the refrigerator to cool for about 2 hours. The custard is easiest to work with once it has set. 
  1. Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350°F; grease a 9- x 2-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a parchment paper circle. 
  2. To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then whisk the mixture to ensure that the ingredients are well mixed. 
  3. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the almond paste, butter, sugar, canola oil, and vanilla on low speed until blended; gradually increase the speed to high and cream until very light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes, stopping the mixer frequently to scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. 
  4. Blend in the eggs one at a time, adding the next one as soon as the previous one has disappeared into the batter. 
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour. After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl. Stop the mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula to ensure you do not overbeat the batter. 
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Rap the pan firmly on the counter to release any air bubbles. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the cake is a deep golden color and a wooden skewer poked in the middle comes out just barely clean, 42 to 45 minutes. The cake might crack on the surface as it bakes; don't worry, this simply provides a way for the cake to soak up more of the lemon custard. 
  7. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Gently invert the cake onto the rack, leaving on the parchment paper until you assemble the cake. Flip the cake right side up and continue to cool the cake on the rack until it reaches room temperature. 
  8. To finish the cake, remove the parchment paper and place the cake right side up on a flat plate. Using a metal spatula, spread a thin layer of the lemon custard on the sides of the cake to seal the cake and give it a light shine. Put the rest of the lemon custard on top of the cake, spreading it just barely out to the edge. Use your spatula to make a swirly design in the custard on the top of the cake. Allow the assembled cake (or really, the lemon custard) to set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 
  9. Bring the cake to room temperature before serving (this will take about an hour). Any leftover cake keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Cake from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson

April 09, 2013

Caramel-Banana Muffins

Once again I found myself with an excess of bananas - note to self, maybe only buy one bag of bananas from Costco each week.  As much as I love banana bread, I thought that muffins would be a good change of pace and they are easy for my girls to carry to school and share with their friends.

I really wanted to add caramel to the bananas and found this recipe on the Midwest Living site.  Their recipe had a pecan-cinnamon sugar mixture added to it but, as much as I would have enjoyed it, I knew that the muffins would be enjoyed more by the girls if it was left out.

The muffins were baked for 20 minutes but they did not get very brown.  Since I did not want to over-bake them once they were ready I took them out of the oven. Maybe the pecan mixture would have helped the browning process, so I'll try adding it next time.  Also, I think that in future I would make my own caramel.  I was happy to use up some of the ice cream topping that has been in my refrigerator for a while, but it was very sweet.

Caramel-Banana Muffins

(Printer Friendly Recipe)

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 medium banana, peeled and mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons caramel-flavored ice cream topping
  • 1 medium banana, peeled and thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 375℉.
  2. Line twelve muffin cups with paper bake cups.
  3. In a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. 
  4. In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, softened butter and ⅔ cup sugar with an electric mixer until well combined. 
  5. Add egg and beat well. Beat in the mashed banana and vanilla until combined. 
  6. In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 
  7. Add to the banana mixture, beating on low speed until just combined. 
  8. Spoon half the batter into prepared muffin cups,
  9. Drizzle ½ teaspoon caramel topping over batter in each cup. Top with remaining batter. If you like, top each muffin with 2 thin slices additional banana.
  10. Sprinkle with tops with the cinnamon sugar mixture. 
  11. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. 
  12. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pan. 
  13. Serve warm drizzled with more caramel topping, if you like. 

Recipe from Midwest Living.

April 08, 2013

Apple Cinnamon Custard Cake

It's funny isn't it how the word tea cake can mean different things depending on where you are in the world.  To me a tea cake is usually a cake made from flour, eggs, butter, sugar, and milk.  It is usually sprinkled with a cinnamon sugar mixture, and can contain fruit.  If you are from the UK a tea cake could mean a yeast-based sweet bread containing dried fruit, and in the Southern US it could mean a cookie (shortcake). 

I came across this recipe whilst I was looking through the Coles(Australia) website. For those unfamiliar with it, Coles is a large supermarket chain in Australia.  Now I know this may seem like a strange thing for me to be doing, but there was a method to my madness.  I have someone special coming to visit me next week and they offered to bring some goodies from home.  The things I miss has definitely grown smaller during the years I have lived away from Australia, but there are still a few things that I have never found a substitute for, or that I still miss. Whilst I was looking at various products I saw a link for Curtis Stone and found that he has teamed up with Coles to provide a range of recipes, including his Feed Your Family recipes to feed your family fast, in season and on a budget, as well a Video Cookbook, where you can cook-a-long with him.

This was a very quick recipe to put together.  I had some Granny Smith apples that I needed to use up, but I think that pears would work very well also, and I had Grand Marnier on hand but Calvados (an apple brandy) would be really good too.  Within 20 minutes it was in the oven baking, and the cake was ready right at the 50 minute mark.  I made this in a springform pan that has a glass serving plate, and I was glad that I did because there was no way this cake was coming off the bottom without some serious damage.  The crumb is just too tender to move.  If you don't have a glass bottom springform I would suggest cutting out a circle of parchment paper and placing this in the bottom of your pan, and then gently lifting it with a large spatula to your serving plate.

This cake smells heavenly coming out of the oven and it was a little difficult to wait for it to cool, but I didn't want to damage it so I was patient.  It is really good at room temperature, but I liked it even better when I warmed it a little before serving it with a dollop of whipped cream.

Apple Cinnamon Custard Cake

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 wedges, then cut into 1/2 cm thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, or other orange liqueur
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons extra
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon extra
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar, sifted

  1. Position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 350℉.
  2. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with the butter. 
  3. In a medium bowl, toss the apples with Grand Marnier to coat, and set aside.
  4. In another medium bowl, whisk together the 1¼ cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking powder, salt and ¼ tsp of the cinnamon.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, milk, whole eggs, orange zest and vanilla to blend. Whisk dry ingredients into the wet ingredients to form a smooth batter, being careful not to over-mix.
  6. Transfer 1 cup of the batter to a small bowl and mix in the remaining 2 tablespoons flour; set aside. Whisk egg yolks into remaining batter in the large bowl just to blend. Stir in the apples.
  7. Transfer the apple batter to prepared pan and, using a off-set spatula, spread batter into an even layer and press the apples in to submerge them.
  8. Pour the reserved batter evenly over the apple batter.
  9. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining caster sugar and cinnamon to blend, and then sprinkle it evenly over the batter.
  10. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the top is golden brown.
  11. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the cake and release the pan sides.
  12. Cool cake for about 30 mins to serve warm, or cool completely. Dust with icing sugar.
  13. To serve, cut cake into wedges and serve with a generous dollop of whipped cream.  
Recipe by Curtis Stone via the Coles (Australia) Website


April 06, 2013

Buttermilk-White Chocolate Panna Cotta

There is a first time for everything, and this was my first time making panna cotta. I have certainly had my fair share at restaurants but had never attempted to make it myself.  If I had realized how easy it was to make something this delicious I would have been making it years ago.

My initial inspiration for trying panna cotta was actually Roxana's Home Baking.  I really enjoy reading her blog and I recently saw that she co-hosts a monthly Chocolate Party.  Each month a seasonal ingredient is chosen to go along with chocolate, you make something with both of these ingredients, blog about it, and then link back to the Chocolate Party Page (read more about the instructions here).

This month's choice to be paired with chocolate was buttermilk, so I decided that I wanted to make a panna cotta featuring these two ingredients.  This dessert was inspired by two recipes - one I found at Savuer and one at Tiny Test Kitchen.  I guess I wanted the best of both worlds - white chocolate and buttermilk but in one recipe.

How can something so delicious be so easy to make?  Within 20 minutes I had the mixture in the ramekins and ready for cooling.  Then came the wait - at least 3 hours to set.  I actually recommend a little longer than this because I would rather be safe than sorry.  Once they were set up I drizzled a little passionfruit pulp over the top and they were ready to enjoy.  So ono! (Hawaiian for delicious).

Buttermilk-White Chocolate Panna Cotta
Printer Friendly Recipe

  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 4 oz white chocolate
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or 1/2 vanilla pod, split lengthwise)
  • 1¾ cups buttermilk 

  1. Soften gelatin in 1 tablespoon cold water in a medium bowl for about 5 minutes. 
  2. Put cream and sugar into a small saucepan. Add vanilla bean paste (or scrape seeds from vanilla pod into pan, then add pod).
  3. Heat cream over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves, 3–5 minutes, do not let the mixture boil.
  4. Remove from heat and add white chocolate, stirring until melted.
  5. Add gelatin to cream mixture and stir until fully dissolved. 
  6. Stir in buttermilk, then strain into another bowl.
  7. Divide custard between six 8-oz. ramekins and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours. 
  8. To unmold, dip ramekins into a dish of hot water, then invert custards  onto plates.

Recipe by All That's Left Are The Crumbs©