So I’m in a bit of a baking frenzy at the moment, working my way through that ever-growing list of recipes to try (of which many are from Mary Berry). Luckily I can also fundraise for a good cause with the delicious results. Two of my colleagues have paired up with friends to complete the Oxfam Trailwalkers challenge; a 100km walk over 48 hours with an aim to raise funds for Oxfam and the important work they do.
While I would not sign up to walk 100km myself, I do think it is an excellent cause and would like to help them out by doing my bit to raise donations. So this loaf cake is one of many treats my office will be enjoying over the next two weeks (in exchange for a donation). A simple cake, dotted with dried apricots, it is nonetheless delicious and something different from the standard current and sultana fruit cake.
This cake will overcook easily so be sure to keep a close eye on it, checking every 10 minutes or so (sooner when it is nearing done), as every oven is different.
Despite the inclusion of dates and walnuts, this traybake does not taste anything like a sticky date pudding. While to some that could be considered a disappointment, it has a rich nutty flavour all it’s own which pairs beautifully with a smooth coffee on a chilly winter morning. The dates give a lovely sweetness and the walnuts a pleasant crunch. This is a traybake even those who dislike dates will enjoy.
A lovely, soft and fluffy traybake, this is more like a sponge cake in a tray than the usual slice. The fruit gives a lovely moisture to the finished product. Despite using the best marmalade available (from my home-made batch no less!), I was unable to taste the marmalade in it at all. Mary Berry warns against an excess of marmalade, lest it cause the traybake to dip in the centre but thankfully that did not happen in my case.
This is a recipe from the archives, one from a large folder of clippings collected from newspapers and magazines over many years. According to the clipping, it was printed in The Age in 2005. Looking for something different to use up some overripe bananas, I found this recipe easy and delicious, although it did make a large number of dirty dishes!
While it travels well and keeps well, overall the cake is a little dense and dry near the crust due to the long cooking time. I will probably keep using my trusty banana bread recipes to make the most of un-eaten bananas.
I noted this recipe with excitement when I first bought How to Be a Domestic Goddess; I have fond memories of peeling chestnuts hot from the open fire as a child and savouring the effort and sore fingers with delight at the nutmeat within. The recipe calls for unsweetened chestnut puree; presumably a tinned substance available at specialty stores in the UK. I had no luck finding such a product here in Australia however I did recently come across a chestnut paste in the cluttered aisles of an Asian grocery store. Although it had sugar and soy flour in it, I decided to use it and give the cake a go; it was the closest thing I have found thus far.
The cake itself is almost brownie-like, with a dense, fudgy texture, despite the long cooking time and the worryingly large cracks that cross the surface of the cake. I was sorry to discover that I could not taste the chestnut paste at all, although this is likely to be due to the paste I used than the recipe itself. I hope this is the case as I will continue to look for a tin of unsweetened chestnut puree to give this cake another attempt. Despite this lack of chestnut flavour, the chocolate flavour was rich and deep, aided no doubt by the chestnut paste. If you are a chestnut fan anf you can find the elusive chestnut puree, do give this a go. It’s a lovely cake with a delicious texture; perfect for an indulgent dessert at the end of an elegant dinner.
If I am ever asked for a carrot cake recipe, I just have to share this recipe. This recipe was first published by Readers Digest.
I’ve recently started ordering fruit and vegetables from a supplier that delivers directly to my door. Each week, I receive a box of carrots. Having two bags of carrots in my fridge, presented the perfect opportunity to bake this cake for my sister’s birthday.
These are beautiful little cakes to brighten up a gloomy Monday, such as we’ve just had in Brisbane. Mary claims these are easy enough for children to make and I can easily believe it; I could put them together in my sleep. Aside from their ease, they make a deliciously moist, plainly delicious sponge-style cupcake which can withstand a fair amount of fiddling. This is fortunate as they have a plain flavour on their own. I beat in half a cup of jam with the butter to flavour it and Mary provides a chocolate version with her recipe. Any citrus zest would be lovely here, a little vanilla essence or indeed a quantity of finely chopped apple or pear. As we are currently in the midst of school holidays in Queensland, these would be the perfect thing to make with restless children on a rainy day; especially if you let them decorate each cupcake!
I can see myself making these in many variations in future. They are quick, easy and can easily be adapted to suit any occasion or audience.
I know you can’t really have ‘leftover’ hot cross buns; they’re always good toasted and buttered, even a couple days old. But if you can no longer justify eating them for breakfast past Easter Monday, or perhaps if you’re looking for an Easter Sunday dessert that doesn’t involve chocolate, this might be just the thing for you. If you already have a beloved bread and butter pudding recipe you can of course use that and simply substitute the buns for your bread, but I would suggest adding the orange zest to your custard mixture as it brings out the mixed peel and spices in the buns beautifully. The base recipe here is from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion, always an excellent reference book for reliable recipes to build upon.
Butter, to spread
4 hot cross buns (1 per person)
Zest of 1 orange
1 cup milk
1 cup cream (or use the whole 300ml tub and put in 50ml less milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbs fortified wine (port or sherry – if it’s adults only)
1/4 cup castor sugar
White sugar to sprinkle
Preheat the oven to 160°.
Cut the buns into three thin slices and toast lightly in the oven. Spread liberally with butter and place into a dish of around 1 litre capacity.
Mix the eggs, zest, milk, cream, castor sugar, vanilla and fortified wine together and pour over and around the bread. Let it sit for 15 minutes to absorb the custard.
Sprinkle with the white sugar and bake for 35 – 40 minutes until it looks firm on the top. Let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.
While it’s not the most attractive of desserts, it will get wolfed down in appreciative silence!
What better way to kick off a four-day weekend than with a couple of fresh, home-made hot cross buns and a tea or coffee outside in the sunshine? Plus lashings of butter of course!
You can see Mr t2k’s bun is toasted while mine is freshly warm from the oven but not toasted, the soft inner waiting to be spread with peanut butter, just as I like it.
The shops open again tomorrow so there’s still plenty of time to make a fresh batch on Easter Sunday morning before the chocolate gorging begins. See my post here for the recipe.
Enjoy the weekend everyone!
P.S. Once you’ve had them warm from the oven, it’s hard to go back to day-old buns. Check back here Monday for a great recipe to use up leftover hot cross buns!
Melting moments were absolutely the defining biscuit of my childhood. For any occasion, a melting moment was always the perfect sweet treat. These are whipped up with ease by my Mum, who is absolutely an expert at recreating this biscuit perfectly every time. While they are undeniably perfection just as they are, I can never resist meddling with a recipe, even one as fundamental to my sweet tooth as this one!
‘Jaffa’ or chocolate-orange is one of my favourite flavour combinations for sweets, so I decided to use the base melting moment recipe and add orange zest and a chocolate ganache filling to create Jaffa yo-yos. I’m happy to say it worked beautifully, although I’d love Mum to make these with her expert touch; I feel they would be even better!