Smells like home… apple spice cake

apple-spice-cake

It’s been pretty Wintery here this past week, so when I was asked to do some baking for a morning tea, I was thinking of sweet spices and dreamy baking aromas to make the house feel warm and cosy. Our weekly trip to the market at Ceres presented me with some gorgeous apples, so here is an adaptation of an old favourite cake, by the amazing and iconic Stephanie Alexander, an Australian pioneer in good food and growing your own. It’s a great recipe to have up your sleeve, as it’s made in the food processor, so is really quick and easy to slam together. And the smells coming from your kitchen will be divine.

As I was turning this one out of the tin, I dropped it onto the cooling rack (hence, it looks a bit worse for wear in the photos!). Oh well, when life gives you lemons… as the saying goes, so the kidlets and I enjoyed a sneaky piece from the cracked section while it was still warm for afternoon tea. I then did some deft cake cutting and presented only the clean cut pieces. Lemonade made, indeed.

Apple Spice Cake

adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s Rhubarb and Cinnamon Cake, from The Cook’s Companion

  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 300g plain flour
  • 380g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
  • 2 apples, one grated and one finely sliced
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • sprinkling of demerera sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 24cm springform tin with 20g of the butter, then dust tin with a little of the flour. In a food processor, cream remaining butter with sugar, then add eggs and vanilla. Sift remaining flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into a bowl, then add to food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the mascarpone and natural yoghurt, then transfer to a large bowl and stir in the grated apple.

apple-spice-cake-batter apples

Scrape into prepared tin and arrange apple slices on top. Squeeze over the half a lemon, and sprinkle with demerera or sugar crystals. Bake for 60 or so minutes, mine only took 55, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Serve warm (delicious) or cold (I was told it was delicious then too!)

A little note about this recipe, the original recipe suggests 1 cup of sour cream or creme fraiche, I just happened to have 1/2  a cup of beautiful organic mascarpone that needed a home, hence my mascarpone and natural yoghurt substitution. I have also used only yoghurt on occasion, so any creamy dairy based goodness should work out beautifully.

Happy days xx

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birthday cake for saachi

I was recently asked to make a birthday cake for a special little boy who has a very special diet. No flour, no dairy, no sugar… no problem!

Harvest-cake

I have lots of beautiful resources for specialised baking, but upon looking at his list of allowed foods, I had one go-to girl in mind, Caitlin from the ever gorgeous and inspiring blog Roost.

If you have a specialised diet, especially one which needs to avoid grains, then you will find her story and her recipes invaluable.

Birthday Cake for Saachi adapted from the Harvest Cake on Roost.

Makes one double layer 20cm cake.

  • 5 cups almond meal
  • 3 tsp bi-carb soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 100ml coconut oil, melted
  • 100ml honey
  • 2 vanilla pods, seeds scraped
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 cups chopped apple

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line two 20cm cake tins. In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and mix thoroughly. Pour into the cake tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 mins or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Cashew Cream Frosting

  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for three hours, water discarded
  • 225ml fresh apple juice
  • 4 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • seeds from 2 vanilla beans

Blitz all ingredients in a blender or Thermomix until super smooth. If the frosting seems too loose, add some almond meal and blitz again, until you achieve your desired consistency.

gluten-free-harvest-cake

Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

how to make a Monday, feel like a Friday

Mondays. I know it’s the start of the week, woo hoo, umm yeah, the start of something great, right?! Let’s be real, sometimes they are just hard work.

Enter: pizza. It’s cool, go with me here.

I have long been a believer in cake, and how it can make almost any moment feel more special (don’t tell me you’ve never had an emergency piece of cake!). Well, my latest idea is pizza, and how it makes any night of the week feel like Friday night.

Go on, give it a go. Shake it up and make pizza on a Monday night; it might just be the start of something great…

pizza with red quinoa salad

Spelt Pizza with Red Quinoa, Fennel and Apple Salad

250g spelt flour

125ml warm water

pinch of salt and sugar

25ml olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons instant dried yeast

Combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a bowl and give a little stir. Combine the warm water and olive oil, and pour into a well in the centre of the flour. Give it a quick mix around with a spoon until it comes together into a ball. Now, do yourself a favour, and give the dough a little knead whilst it’s still in the bowl (mix in all those little bits around the sides). This makes it less sticky when you turn it out, and you will need less flour on your kneading surface (i.e. bench top!).

Turn your dough out onto your nicely floured benchtop and knead that baby until it looks smooth on the outside when you shape it into a ball. Depending on your enthusiasm, this will take around 5 minutes. I like to hold one edge of the dough with my left hand, and push the bulk of the dough away with my right, virtually stretching and smearing the dough across the bench. Give it a try.

When it’s looking all nice and smooth and dough-like, pop it in an oiled bowl, cover it with cling-film and let it rise somewhere nice and cosy for about an hour.

Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 200 degrees celcius. If you have a fan forced oven, then put on the fan for a crispier base.

One hour later, divide your beautiful dough into two. Give it a workout with a rolling pin and roll it as thin as you dare (the thinner the better in my books). Don’t worry, pizza isn’t supposed to be round, asymmetrical is how the cool kids are doing it, trust me.

Transfer your magnificently shaped pizza base to a tray lined with baking paper, and top it to your liking. Tomato paste or pizza sauce first, then some mozzarella and then – go crazy! I chose salami cause I think it’s hard to beat a classic. If you’ve got some garlic oil hanging around, drizzle it around the edges and your house will smell like a real deal pizza shop.

Pop it into the oven for about 20 mins or until it’s nicely golden. Eat, enjoy, sigh and forget that tomorrow is only Tuesday.

PizzaSlice

And in my house, every good pizza needs a good salad. Give this one a go.

Cook yourself up about a handful of red quinoa. One day I will actually measure how much quinoa and how much water I put in, but sorry, today was not that day. Once it is beautifully cooked (I know you can do it), let it cool. Grab a salad bowl and put in a generous teaspoon of honey, a splash of olive oil and a swig of red wine vinegar (technical measures I know, but it’s hard to go wrong here). Oops! Don’t forget a pinch of salt. Give it a whisk! Pop in your cooled quinoa and let it soak up that dressing goodness. Tear up a few leaves of lettuce (I had cos on hand, but I think wild rocket would be awesome). Pop them in. Slice up half a bulb of fennel, and one small apple. Pop them in too, along with a handful of toasted walnuts. If you’ve got some good goat’s fetta in your fridge, then crumble in a little bit of that too. Salads in my mind are supposed to be freeform, substitution is totally allowed. Give it a toss to dress it all up, and you’re good to go.

Salad

And if you have a bit of salami and some lettuce leftover, why not make yourself a cracking sandwich the following day. Just pop the salami on a tray in a 200 C oven for 5 – 10 mins until crispy and bubbling, then layer it on some good sourdough bread with mayo, tomato, avocado and a leaf or two of lettuce. Hey, this pizza even makes Tuesday lunchtime feel special. Thanks pizza.

SLAT