Thursday, 29 December 2011

Spiced Pumpkin & Pecan Biscuits

Hello all!

I want so badly to say Happy New Year to you, however I am being incredibly impatient and cannot wait to post this recipe! And also I kind of wasn't prepared to say goodbye to 2011 in that last post as I was all hyped up about Christmas. So now that all the Christmas stuff has died down, I'm ready to release this year and head on to 2012! So, if you're reading this in 2011, Happy 2011! And if you're reading this in 2012, Happy New Year!

2011 has been a big year, but 2012 will be even bigger. For one thing, it's my last year at school, and then the big wide world is right there waiting for me. I'm kind of scared, very excited, happy and sad. Endings and beginnings, hellos and goodbyes, and lots of study! Ugh.

Oh well, at the moment I'll just take things day by day, and see what happens from there.

At the moment, I'm living it up in the Snowy Mountains - except it's summer. I love the snow, but at this time of year it's just as beautiful. The wildflowers, the green slopes, and the crystal clear rivers - it's so peaceful, the perfect way to see out the year. Yesterday and today we went on an overnight hike. Camping out in the mountains was magical... and extremely cold at night! Going off track was wonderful - you really get away from the tourist-y rush, and feel like intrepid explorers! Camping here is like nothing else. Because there are no trees, you can see forever.

But anyway, onto the biscuits. I know what you're thinking - pumpkin?! In a biscuit?!
But have no fear. These biscuits have been delightfully made over by the addition of cinnamon, mixed spice and maple syrup, and mixing in pecans give a lovely crunch to the soft and almost cake-like texture. They're feather light and wholesome. Perfect with a cup of tea!

{Recipe adapted from Honey and Jam}

Spiced Pumpkin and Pecan Biscuits

Makes 24

2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 2/3 cups caster sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup pecan nuts, toasted
300g steamed or roasted butternut pumpkin, mashed
1 egg


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line 2-3 baking trays with baking paper.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, mixed spice and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the pumpkin, egg, and maple syrup, and beat until smooth. Mix in the dry ingredients, and the cooled pecan nuts.

Using a tablespoon, place spoonfuls of the mixture onto the lined baking trays, and flatten slightly.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown around the edges.

P.S. Happy New Year again! Yay!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Jolly Red Velvet Christmas Cupcakes

Season's greetings, friends!

Well, it's two days out from Christmas, and I think I am more or less ready for the festive mayhem that is to encompass the next few days. My Christmas lights are up and my house looks jolly indeed, my Christmas tree happily occupies the corner of our living room, and our family has been on top of the present-buying for the relatives, so no cousin has to be left out awkwardly for the celebrations!

Luckily this year, as mentioned in an earlier post, my friend Sian and I have started a little plate-painting business, so last-minute presents have been at the ready for friends, family, and workmates. Just yesterday we had our twilight stall at the farmers' markets, which went over fabulously, with lots of purchases and interest in our designs! Obviously lots of people had left their shopping till the last minute, but hey, that suited us fine! It gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that on Christmas, people will tear away the packaging to reveal our little plates. I hope they are enjoyed.

Aside from holding the stall, wrapping presents and decorating the house, I decided to bake these gorgeous little red velvet cupcakes. I had never tried red velvet before, but I am always up for new things, and thought the shade of red complemented the occasion nicely. So I made a batch for my friends, cooking up a right crimson mess in my kitchen in the process - but hey, it was totally worth it.

These cupcakes are soft and, well, velvety, and the cream cheese frosting on top is light, and perfect piped into a small dollop on top, so you can still see the deep red underneath. I think the cupcakes are perfect as they are, but I had a bit of spare time on my hands, and wanted to make the cupcakes look a little more festive, so I made some fondant to mould into little Chrissy shapes! My favourite shape would have to be the snowman - he's just so damn cute!

{Original recipe (minus the fondant) adapted from 'Everything Alice', by Hannah Read-Baldrey and Christine Leech}

Have a wonderful Christmas everybody! I'll post again in the New Year!

Red Velvet Christmas Cupcakes

Makes about 20 cupcakes
340g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 tbsp cocoa powder
50ml red food colouring
A dash of milk
110g unsalted butter, softened
340g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla essence
250g lite sour cream
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp baking soda

110g unsalted butter, softened
240g cream cheese
340g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence

Fondant (optional):
1.5 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp milk or water
Food colouring


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Place 20 cupcake wrappers in muffin tins.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and food colouring. If the mixture is still dry and forms little 'pebbles', add just enough milk to make a thick, shiny paste with no lumps.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. When light and fluffy, add the eggs, then the cocoa paste and the vanilla essence - mix until smooth. Add the sifted flour and the sour cream, and again mix until smooth.

In a cup, mix the vinegar and baking soda - it will fizz. Add this to the cake mixture. Divide the mixture evenly between the cupcake cases, and bake for 20 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in their tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To decorate:

Once the cakes have cooled completely, combine the butter and cream cheese and blend until smooth. Sift in the icing sugar and add the vanilla extract. Using a piping bag, or a dolloping-instument (ie. a spoon), ice the cupcakes.

To make the fondant, combine icing sugar, butter and milk/water in a large bowl and mix until a dough-like mixture forms. If the mixture is too soft and creamy, add more icing sugar until the right consistency is acheived. Knead for 1-2 minutes. Divide the fondant into bowls, and colour separately with different food colouring. Model as desired, and pop onto the top of your cupcakes!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Dark Chocolate-Orange Ice Cream

Greetings, friends!

Well, I have had a massive week - I went on camp for 5 days, and gee it was hard work! I felt kind of guilty leaving you folk stranded out there, with nothing to read/bake from me, so for that, I apologise. And yet, on the other hand, I had a fabulous week, and I'm back now, so stop complaining!

 Thank you.

Good thing I had baked some treats before I went away, because I am too exhausted to even do my favourite pastime! But I'm sure I'll have more than enough time to bake now, what with my long holidays ahead.

Christmas is just a week away! This excites me, and frustrates me too. I have missed out on a week's festive preparations, and now I am struggling to keep up with all this cheer! I have not even got around to putting up my outside Christmas lights yet, and my house looks extremely plain and un-Christmasy. I'm sorry, house!
Perhaps I'll put up some Chrissy photos when the big day comes around. My Christmas tree is pretty damn impressive, if I say fo myself. One year I'd like to have a real tree. That would make me jolly indeed.

Ooh! The thought of having a real tree made my mind venture even further into Highly-Unlikely Land. Wait for it.... how amazing would it be to have a white Christmas!?
I love Australia, and our family Christmases are always lovely and summery, but come on - snow, fireplaces, hot drinks, etcetera etcetera - that would be phenomenal.
So... anyone want to fly me to Canada? Switzerland? No?

Well, I'll just have to show you this delicious ice cream to keep my thoughts cold, and to remind me that Australian summers are truly the bomb-diggity.

Alrighty - here goes.

{Recipe adapted from Serendipity Sundaes, by Stephen Bruce}

Dark Chocolate-Orange Ice Cream

Makes 1 litre

2 cups full-cream milk
2 cups lite thickened cream
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
270g good-quality dark chocolate
Juice and zest of half a large orange

Combine the milk and cream in large saucepan over low heat, and heat until warm. Once warm, add the chopped chocolate, and stir over the heat with a wooden spoon until smooth and the mixture is beginning to simmer. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium heat-safe bowl, beat the egg yolks and caster sugar with an electric mixer until thick and pale yellow (2 min).

Add a quarter of the warm chocolate mixture to the yolk mixture and whisk until combined. Then, whisk the yolk mixture into the remaining chocolate mixture and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. DO NOT OVERHEAT. Nobody likes scrambled egg ice cream!

Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into a clean bowl, and cool to room temperature. Then, stir in the orange juice (but not the zest). Place in the fridge and cool until chilled.

Once completely cool, freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker (according to the manufacturer's instructions). Just before you turn the ice cream maker off, stir in the orange zest, making sure it is spread evenly throughout.

Remove ice cream and store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Sunday, 11 December 2011



Sorry for the inconvenience, but as it is now SCHOOL HOLIDAYS (!), I have a week-long boat camp to attend. I have been incredibly busy what with school finishing up, so I am sincerely sorry for my 7-day postponement of posts. Please don't cry though, I'll be back in a week!

Have a festive week! Eep!


P.S. Hmm? What will the next post be? The above photo might give a hint, mightn't it?


Monday, 5 December 2011

Peach and Blueberry Tart

Well hey all you summer-lovin' folk out there.

Hip hooray for summer! The sun is shining, the birds are singing - oh no wait, the weather has been cold and wintery and rainy and AARGH. I thought I'd be all summery and bake a lovely fruity tart for this fine weather, but the atmosphere has been ever so moody, and is having a little laugh behind my back, I think. Well, wherever YOU are, I hope the weather is nice, so you can enjoy this delicious seasonal treat.

Another hip hooray is in order because... school is finishing the day after tomorrow! Hopefully now I will be able to take a big breath and not think about all the stuff I have due the next day.

And sorry for doing this but... Christmas! Yay, woohoo, yeehaw!
Ok, enough. I know you get sick of my jolly holiday talk.

I cannot believe that the school year is finally drawing to a close. This year has been a tough one, and an amazing one. I have achieved so much (like my little blog, and my friend Sian and I's plate stall), and am so lucky to have the people in my life to support me in what I do every day. I feel I have really grown up this year, and for the first time I am feeling that even if I do leave home soon, I'll be able to cope independently, because I know what a loving and caring support network I have right here at home. I love everybody! Thankyou.

I don't really know what spurred me to write what I just wrote. I just had a really appreciative sort of moment just then! Wow. I hope that all you readers out there (if you're out there) have that same kind of love and sense of kinship that I have here. If not, I hope you find it very soon.

Ok! On to the tart! What more needs to be said? It's yummy, it's fruity, it's fresh, and it's perfect for sharing with your loved ones.

Recipe adapted from Always With Butter (amazing blog + photos).

Peach and Blueberry Tart

Serves 8


For the crust:
125g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 tsp almond essence (but don't fret if you can't find it in a shop)
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups plain flour
For the filling:
1/2 cup thickened cream
1 egg
1/4 tsp almond essence
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp honey
3 peaches, sliced
2 punnets blueberries
Icing sugar, sifted, to dust


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius, and grease a 23cm tart pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until smooth and well-combined. Add the remaining pastry ingredients and continue to mix until blended nicely.

Press into the tart pan, including up the sides, and bake crust for 12-15 minutes, until puffed slightly and lightly golden.

For the filling, whisk the cream, egg, essences and honey until well-combined.

Arrange the fruits nicely in your cooled crust, and pour the filling over the top. To make your tart look pretty, don't cover all the fruit with the filling, leave the tops uncovered.

Place the tart back in the oven (still in the tart pan), and bake for 45 minutes, or until the filling is set and it is starting to go lightly golden. Straight after removing from the oven, sprinkle with icing sugar.

When ready to serve, sprinkle again with a dusting of icing sugar.