Italian apple cake

 

Ingredients:

3 apples

1 ½ c flour

2 t baking powder

¼ t fine salt

1 large egg

1 c sugar

½ t almond or rum extract

½ c Greek yoghurt

½ c sunflower, vegetable or grape seed oil, plus more for greasing

icing sugar for dusting

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 190°C. Grease a 20-cm springform cake tin with a little oil. Line the bottom of the pan with baking paper and lightly oil the paper.

Place flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk together. In a separate bowl, add oil, egg, yoghurt, sugar and almond extract and beat with a mixer to combine well. Peel, core and quarter your apples then cut crosswise into thin slices with a mandolin. Most recipes add lemon juice to the apples to prevent them from browning but I find using lemon juice overpowers the apples in this recipe. To prevent the apples from browning, I don’t peel and slice the apples until this stage, when both the flour mixture and wet ingredients are ready.

Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture whisk until just combined. Gently fold in the apples. Pour batter into cake tin.

Bake for 40-45 mins or until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 20 mins. After 20 mins, loosen the sides of the cake from the tin with a knife and remove the springform ring. Continue to cool the cake until it gets to room temperature. Invert cake onto a plate and remove baking paper. Re-invert onto a serving patter then dust with icing sugar.

Serves 6-8.

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Aussie Christmas Trifle

 
 
Aussie Christmas Trifle

Here's the perfect trifle for your hot Aussie Christmas. The mangoes and strawberries are refreshing and oh-so satisfying mixed with custard, cream and sponge. The only danger is it goes down so easily you end up eating multiple servings!  I made this for my husband's family this weekend and they all loved it. 

Ingredients:

450 g madeira cake, cut into 3 x 5 x 2 cm rectangles

1 kg thick custard, this tastes way better than the ones you make out of a packet

1 large punnet strawberries, hulled and sliced, leaving a few pieces with leaves intact for garnishing

3 large ripe mangoes, cut into cubes

1 packet strawberry jelly crystals (I prefer using the lite jelly as it has less sugar)

1 packet lite mango and passionfruit jelly crystals

1/4 c creme de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur)

400 ml thickened cream, whipped till you get soft peaks

Method:

Make 1 day ahead or night before so that the flavours have time to infuse.

Make strawberry jelly according to packet instructions minus 50 ml of water for a firmer texture. Allow to cool before pouring over the strawberries. 

Arrange the pieces of madeira cake on the bottom of a large glass bowl. Scatter strawberries over the cake then sprinkle with creme de cassis. Pour the cooled jelly over and place in the fridge to set. I waited for about 45 mins.

Make mango and passionfruit jelly according to instructions minus 50 ml of water. Allow to cool while you prepare the custard and mangoes.

Pour 3/4 of the custard over the strawberries and spread evenly. Cut up the mangoes and spread over the custard. Pour mango and passionfruit jelly over the mangoes. Place in the fruit and allow to set overnight.

Just before serving, place remaining custard over the mango jelly then the whipped cream. Top with strawberries.

Serves 15 people.

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strawberry chiffon cake

 

Strawberries and cream. And cake. It's hard to say no this classic and winning combination of flavours. Maybe I didn't do a good enough search but I couldn't find a recipe like this one online so I had to draw from different sources to put this cake together. It's pretty labour intensive but the reward is worth it!

Ingredients:

cake

1 and 1/3 c cake flour or in Australia it's biscuit pastry & cake plain flour (it comes in a box and Woolworths stocks the Lighthouse brand); alternatively, you can use self-raising flour and take out the baking powder

1 c caster sugar

1.5 t vanilla extract

2 t baking powder

3/4 t salt

1/2 c and 2 t cold water

5 egg yolks

5 egg whites

1/3 c and 1 t vegetable oil

1/4 t cream of tartar

Method:

Preheat oven to 165 °C. 

Line the bottom of a square 20 x 7 cm cake tin with baking paper. Set aside. Do not spray your cake tin with any oil as this will brown your cake.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Stir with a whisk to combine well. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Add egg yolks, oil, vanilla and water and beat with an electric mixer until light and smooth.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed. Once frothy, add the cream of tartar. Continue beating until soft peaks form.

Fold in the egg white mixture into the batter with a rubber spatula in 3 batches. It's important to use a spatula and a folding motion so as not to deflate the egg whites. It's done when there is no streak of white or yellow and all you have is a uniform pale yellow colour.

Pour batter into prepared tin. Place cake at the lowest oven rack so the top of the cake does not brown too much. Bake for 40-50 mins. The cake is done when a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake.

When cake is done, remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Cool for 5 mins then run a sharp knife around the edges until the cake can easily slide out of the tin. Place the wire rack on top of the cake then turn the cake over onto the wire rack. Remove the tin and baking paper. Allow to cool completely. Using a long knife, cut the cake in half horizontally.

 

 

strawberry syrup

1 c chopped strawberries 

1/2 c caster sugar

1/2 c water

Method:

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat over medium high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium low heat and cook for 20 mins or until the sauce has thickened. Cool then store in the refrigerator until needed. 

You can make this a day head and use the leftovers for toast, scones or milkshakes.

strawberry filling and icing

450 ml thickened cream

45 g icing sugar

2 t gelatine powder

4 T cold water

1 cup finely chopped strawberries (about 140 g)

8-12 strawberries (depending on size), halved lengthwise, to decorate the top of the cake

strawberry syrup

Method:

Brush some strawberry syrup on the two cut sides of the cake.

If you happen to get a batch of sour strawberries, you can sweeten the chopped strawberries by adding 1-2 T of the strawberry syrup.

Beat the thickened cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add icing sugar and beat until sugar has dissolved.

In a small saucepan, place 4 T of cold water and then sprinkle gelatine powder over it. Let it stand for 5 mins. Place over very low heat, stirring constantly, just until the gelatine dissolves. Remove from heat. Cool until it reaches the temperature of your finger. Do not let it cool past this point or it may solidify.

In a small bowl, place 1 T of the whipped cream and gradually stir in the cooled gelatine until well combined. Replace this mixture back into the bowl of cream. Whip the cream until stiff.

Spread 6-7 T of cream on one of the cake halves. Arrange the chopped strawberries on top. Cover with another 5 T of cream. Sit the other cake half on top, cut side down. Use the remaining cream to cover the top and sides of the cake, working quickly before the gelatine sets.

Place the strawberry halves on top of the cake and drizzle with a bit of strawberry syrup. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Note: You will need about 3 x 250 g punnets of strawberries for the entire recipe, with some leftover.

Optional: top with rose petals or other edible flowers. Try to get home-grown roses from your own garden or someone else's so you where pesticides haven't been used.

Serves 8-10.

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apple crumble with walnuts and cheese

 
apple crumble with cheese

If you're someone who gets the magic of salty-sweet in desserts then you're in for a treat with this apple crumble recipe. I grew up in Manila with a lot of sweets mixed with cheese like ensaymada (a Filipino brioche like bread topped with butter, sugar and cheese), mamon (a chiffon cupcake that can be topped with cheese), puto (steamed rice cakes) and bibingka (a rice cake traditionally cooked in claypots lined with banana leaves). So when I was experimenting on apple crumble this week, the tasty leap to cheese was not a big one. 

It's not just Filipinos that love to have sweets with cheese. The North Americans also have their beloved apple pie with a slice of cheese. I suspect this mixing of cheese with sweets is probably an extension of the European tradition of having their desserts with cheese. 

It may seem like a strange combination but don't knock it till you've tried it.

Ingredients:

4 medium sized apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/8 lengthwise segments, then cut each 1/8 segment into 4 crosswise pieces; I use a mix of granny smith, royal gala or jazz apples

1/4 c maple syrup

80 g chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes

3/4 c plain flour

1 t baking powder

1/2 c brown sugar

1 t ground cinnamon, 1/2 t for the apples and 1/2 t for the crumble

1/4 c chopped walnuts

pinch of fine sea salt

cheddar cheese or any cheese you like, for grating

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 190 °C. Lightly grease oven-proof pan with a capacity of 1.5 litres. 

Mix apples, cinnamon and maple syrup together then transfer to greased baking dish. 

Place flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and walnuts into a large bowl and combine well with a whisk.  Add butter and rub it into flour mixture with your finger until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Place in freezer for 10 mins or in refrigerator until you're ready to bake.

Sprinkle crumble mixture on top of apples. Do not press down the crumble mixture as this will make your crumble too hard when it cooks. Bake in oven for 40-50 minutes, until crumble is golden, apples are soft and syrup is bubbling through the surface.  Place the dish in the middle rack, making sure it's not too close to the heating element as this can burn the crumble before your apples are cooked.

If you use a deep dish, the crumble can end up browning before your apples are cooked. In this case, once your crumble is golden brown, cover lightly with aluminium foil until apples are soft.

Grate cheese over crumble just before serving. 

Serves 4-6.

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apple crumble with cheese by bent street kitchen

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black cherry brownies

 
black cherry brownies by Bent Street Kitchen

The brownie. Some like them chewy and gooey and while others like them cakey. I've always liked them moist and fudgey because if I wanted them cakey, I figure I might as well have a proper chocolate cake. What type of brownies do you like? 

This brownie is deliciously moist, rich and chewy and I've added some cherries to heighten the experience. These brownies go really well with a cold glass of milk (and the latest episode of Game of Thrones).

You can also use pitted Morello cherries, which are less sweet.

Ingredients:

200 g dark chocolate (70% solids), roughly broken into individual squares

 

200 g unsalted butter

3 eggs

300 g white sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

125 g plain flour

pinch of salt

1 x 415 g tin of stoneless black cherries in syrup, drained; or, morello pitted cherries if you want a bit of sourness

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C fan heat.

Grease and line 20 x 30 cm rectangular baking tray that's 4 cm deep with baking paper.

Place butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave at High for 30 seconds. Stir then repeat until butter and chocolate are just melted. Only heat in 30 second intervals to prevent overheating the butter and chocolate.

Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla extract with electric mixer until thick and creamy. Mix in melted chocolate and butter. Add flour and salt and combine well. Carefully fold in cherries in batches.

Pour into baking tray and cook for about 25-30 mins. It's done when the top has cracks and the centre is just set. Cool in tin for at least 20 mins before cutting. 

Serves 12 brownie hogs or 48 piglets.

Go to the comment section of this post and let me know how many oinks this recipe gets.

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vanilla and cinnamon poached pears

 
Vanilla & Cinnamon Poached Pears by Bent Street Kitchen

At first, I wasn't sure whether to post this recipe or not. It seemed so basic. I ummed and ahhed about it. Yet, it's a recipe I've been doing every year for the last 8 years whenever pears are in season. It's simple but delicious. I suppose this reflects what my cooking is all about. As much as I love eating out at fancy restaurants and sampling the latest cauliflower "foam", chocolate "soil" ice cream, or sous vide meat, when it comes to my cooking I like uncomplicated but delicious food. Food that comforts and makes you feel like you're home. 

You can use all sorts of flavouring for these poached pears like cloves, lemons, ginger or even star anise. However, keeping it simple has worked best for me so I've stayed loyal to my cinnamon and vanilla combo. 

Ingredients:

4 ripe and firm pears, peeled, cored and cut into halves or quarters

1 & 1/2 c sugar

1 cinnamon stick

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 t vanilla extract

1 litre water

 

Method:

Cut out a circle of baking paper to fit the circumference of the pan you're using. Fold the circle into a triangle and cut the pointy tip, making about a 2 cm hole in the centre of the circle. Prepare all the ingredients.

Heat water and sugar in a saucepan until sugar dissolves. Add cinnamon stick and vanilla bean. Slide pears in and cover with round of baking paper.  This helps the pears to cook evenly and not discolour. Keep the liquid at a very low boil and simmer until cooked through, about 15-20 mins. The pears are done when you can slide a knife easily into the flesh. Remove from the heat and cool. Store pears in poaching liquid.

You can serve these pears warm or cold with ice cream or plain yoghurt (particularly the creamy kind from Harris Farm). You can also add them to your breakfast oatmeal or bircher muesli.

Serves 4-6.

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Preparing Bent Street Kitchen's Vanilla & Cinnamon Poached Pears

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tarte tatin

Apple Tarte Tatin by Bent Street Kitchen

When the weather starts to cool like it has today, my mind inevitably turns to French food. I start dreaming of hearty stews like beef bourgignon or slow-cooked osso bucco. But, we're eating out tonight so I'll have to take out my cast iron pot on another day. I did spy some Kanzi apples in the fruit bowl and the leap to make tarte tatin happened in a millisecond.

I've tried numerous tarte tatin recipes and this is the one I've been happiest with. I did have aspirations of making my own puff pastry but since I got this recipe right just using ready-made pastry I haven't really bothered because it tastes pretty darn good just the way it is!

Ingredients:

1 puff pastry, thawed

2 Kanzi or Red Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into quarters

1/4 lemon, juiced

1/4 & 1/3 c caster sugar

3 T butter

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 200 °C.

Place apples in a bowl and toss with lemon juice and 1/4 c sugar.

Place pastry on a flat surface. Using a 20 cm oven-proof skillet as a guide, turn it over and press lightly against the puff pastry without cutting through it so you get an outline of the pan's circumference. Cut the pastry 1 cm larger than the pan's circumference.

Place the butter in the skillet and melt over high heat. Stir 1/3 c sugar and cook until the syrup bubbles, caramelises and turns brown. This takes about 6-8 mins. Shake the pan every so often to make sure the syrup is cooked evenly. Add apples and spoon syrup over them. Cook for about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

Arrange the apples cut side up. Drape the pastry over the apples, tucking the edge of the pastry over the apples and inside the pan. Poke 4 small steam holes on top of the pastry. Place in the oven and cook for 20-25 mins and until the pastry has browned and crisped.

Remove skillet from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Place a serving dish on top of the skillet and flip tart onto the dish. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 4.

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Apple Tarte Tatin by Bent Street Kitchen

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corn bread

If you like those smoky North American BBQ ribs like I do, then you're going to want some cornbread to go with them.  I've tried making cornbread in a baking pan several times but I kept getting inconsistent results. Sometimes the top would brown before the middle part is cooked. Or, the bread doesn't cook evenly across the pan. After those unsatisfying attempts, I decided to use muffin pans and they worked a treat. Having them as individual muffins also made it more convenient to store them. Plus, they produce very little mess because you don't have to cut the cornbread which can go all crumbly.

Cornbread by Bent Street Kitchen. Tofu testing the cornbread with her little piglet snout.

Cornbread by Bent Street Kitchen. Tofu testing the cornbread with her little piglet snout.

Ingredients:

1 cup plain flour, sifted

1 T baking powder

3/4 c polenta

1/2 c sugar

1 t salt

110 g butter, unsalted, melted

2 large eggs

3/4 c milk

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C. Spray 12-cup muffin pan with cooking oil spray.

In a large bowl, mix together polenta, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt until well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs then add the milk. Add egg mixture and melted butter to dry ingredients. Stir with wooden spoon until just combined. Do not overmix. Spoon into muffin pan, filling each cup almost to the brim. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until top is golden and skewer comes out clean. Rest for 5 minutes then turn onto wire rack to cool.

Serves 12.

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Nigella Lawson's chocolate pavlova

Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Pavlova by Bent Street Kitchen

This is my go-to no-fail pavlova recipe that I have made again and again thanks to Nigella Lawson. When I first came across it, the purist in me protested. A chocolate pav isn't really a pav, I thought. Then I tried to imagine what a dark chocolate chewy marshmallowy meringue centre would taste like and I was out like a shot buying the ingredients.

I consider this a no-fail recipe because it always tastes good regardless of whether the meringue sinks or not. It also doesn't matter if it cracks because you just cover it up with cream anyway. In fact, I think this pav looks good because of the cracks. The cracks give a preview of the light and squidgy chocolate goodness waiting for you.  As you can see from the photo, I overwhipped the cream. That's because I was busy chatting to my guests and my Kitchen Aid mixer was too efficient for its own good. That didn't matter either! You just end up gobbling down this pav because it's so tasty. 

When I serve, I don't tend to put the cream and raspberries on the entire meringue disc. Instead, I serve the pav individually. I do this so that I can store the leftover meringue without it going soggy with the cream. The meringue keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge. Plus, when done this way, everyone gets a generous amount of cream, raspberries and chocolate shavings.

Ingredients:

meringue base

6 large egg whites

300 g caster sugar

3 T cocoa powder, sieved

1 T balsamic vinegar

50 g dark chocolate, finely chopped 

topping

500 ml double cream

500 g raspberries

3 T dark chocolate, coarsely grated

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 °C and line a baking tray with baking paper. 

Beat egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until that meringue is still and shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar and the chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Mound on to the baking sheet in a fat circle approximately 23 cm in diameter, smoothing the side and top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 150 °C and cook for about 1 to 1 and a quarter hours. 

When it's ready, it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, and let the meringue disc cool completely.

When you're ready to serve, invert on to big, flat-bottomed plate. Whisk the cream till thick but still soft and pile it on top of the meringue, then scatter over the raspberries. Coarsely grate the chocolate so that you get curls rather than rubble.

Serves 8-10.

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oatmeal and raisin cookies

Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies by Bent Street Kitchen

It would not be unusual for me to start baking something at about 9 or 10 pm at night. I'd get a craving for something sweet and rush to the pantry to check if I have all the ingredients.  Often it would be something I'd find comforting and would go well with a cold glass of milk. These oatmeal and raisin cookies do the job nicely. The smell of nutmeg envelops the kitchen in a warm dreamy cocoon as the balls of batter begin to expand and turn golden in the oven. Nothing beats the experience of eating freshly baked cookies, still warm from the oven and downed with an icy glass of cold milk.

Ingredients:

120 g unsalted butter

3/4 c brown sugar

1/4 c white sugar

3/4 c plain flour

3/4 c rolled oats

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1/2 t ground nutmeg

1 large egg

1 t vanilla essence

3/4 c raisins

1/4 c walnuts, chopped, optional

Method:

Preheat oven to 180°C.  Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs and and vanilla. Mix flour, salt, baking powder and nutmeg in a separate bowl then stir into egg mixture. Stir in oats, raisins and walnuts if using. 

Shape batter into 3 cm balls. Place balls on cookie sheet leaving 3 cm in between them. Bake for 20-22 minutes but keep an eye on them when it starts approaching the 20 minute mark to avoid burning. Use a spatula to scrape off the cookies from the cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack.

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 Miso, Bent Street Kitchen's Little Helper.

 Miso, Bent Street Kitchen's Little Helper.

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Jamie Oliver's stewed fruits

Jamie Oliver's Stewed Fruits by Bent Street Kitchen

Autumn finally seems to be making its way to Sydney and what better way to say goodbye to summer than with these beautiful dusky pink nectarines and peaches. The original recipe is in Jamie Oliver's "30 Minute Meals" but I've made some minor adjustments by creating more stewed juices so the better to the drizzle the ice cream with. 

Ingredients:

18 ripe plums or a mixture of stone fruits

1 t vanilla extract

2-4 T caster sugar

1-2 oranges

1 cinnamon stick

good quality vanilla ice cream

Method:

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Halve and stone the fruits and place in a large roasting tray with vanilla extract. Peel zest from oranges and squeeze juice in. Add cinnamon stick, snapped in half. Place in oven and cook for 15-20 mins. The fruits should be soft and can be cut by a spoon when they're done. If they're not yet done by this stage, cover with aluminium foil so they don't burn and dry out and cook for a further 10-15 mins.

Serve with ice cream.

Serves 6-8. 

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Jamie Oliver's Stewed Fruits by Bent Street Kitchen

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white chocolate rocky road

White Chocolate Rocky Road by Bent Street Kitchen

I think it was around Easter and I remember arriving at my work desk to find a small block of white rocky road wrapped in clear cellophane with a dainty ribbon wrapped around it. My work friend Tracy had made some for everyone. I tended to get to work early and remember chuckling to myself as I heard one gleeful sound after another as each person found the little present waiting for them.

I was never a big fan of rocky road until I bit into Tracy's version. I think the rose water did it for me. I didn't get around to getting her recipe so I tried to create my own by tweaking a recipe I found on Taste.com.au. I just love the rich colours of the pistachios and cranberries against the snowy white chocolate. 

I've given these as gifts or served them with the coffee after dinner.

Ingredients:

300 g white chocolate, chopped

1/2 c dried cranberries

1-2 t rose water or just enough to soak the cranberries

1/3 c pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped

100 g white marshmallows

Method:

Grease an 8 x 26 cm bar pan. Line with baking paper with a 2 cm overhang. 

Toss cranberries in rosewater for 20 minutes then drain any excess liquid.

Place chocolate in microwave-safe bowl and heat in microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, uncovered. Stir every 30 seconds or until melted and smooth.

Put cranberries, marshmallows and pistachios in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add melted chocolate. Stir until combined. Transfer and press into pan. Refrigerate, covered with paper overhang, for 2 hours or until set. Cut into into desired size.

Serves 6-8.

Note: To toast the pistachios, preheat oven to 175 °C. Place pistachios on a cookie sheet and distribute evenly. Bake for 6-8 minutes. They will become fragrant when they are done. Watch them like a hawk because they can burn easily. Allow to cool.

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