Time waits for no one ~ 2017

More than a year has passed since my last post but the neglect has not been in vein. In 2017 my husband and I welcomed our beautiful baby girl, Isla, into the world. Motherhood for any new mum is a very steep learning curve and like many I’ve found it difficult to get much else done.

Sadly we also said goodbye to my dear, beloved Opa not long after Isla was born. My Opa was the sort of man that always put a smile on your face and made you glad of what you had so you never felt like you were missing out on anything. I suppose what I have learned from him is that to be rich beyond measure is to live a life of fulfilment from within, but balanced with a sense of adventure and enriched with the delight of new experiences. Chief among those is experiencing different tastes and foods because my Opa was a foodie long before the term was coined. So here’s to 2018 – may it be a year rich in love, laughter, excitement, happiness and contentment.

Celebration Chocolate & Earl Grey Milkshakes with mini chocolate doughnuts

~ for the chocolate & earl grey milkshakes (serves 6)
500ml pure cream
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
600ml full cream milk
50g caster sugar
2-3 strips of orange peel, roughly 5cm each
2 tsp earl grey tea leaves
Rose pashmak to decorate

~for the mini chocolate doughnuts (makes 30)
Sunflower oil for greasing
20g unsalted butter
15g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
1 large egg (approx. 60g)
70ml full cream milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour, sifted
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cocoa (Dutch processed)
50g caster sugar
Pinch of sea salt

~ for the icing
75g icing sugar
10g cocoa (Dutch processed)
20ml full cream milk
10g sprinkles


To make the milkshake, heat the cream and chocolate in a large saucepan over a medium heat until the chocolate has melted. Add the milk, sugar and orange peel and heat until it comes to the boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add the tea leaves. Set aside to cool, then transfer the milk mixture into an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.

To make the doughnuts, preheat the oven to 160oC and lightly grease 2 silicone mini doughnut moulds.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a small saucepan over a medium heat. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg and gradually add the milk, followed by the chocolate mixture. Mix in the vanilla extract, then add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, cocoa, caster sugar and sea salt and gently fold through.

Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round nozzle. Pipe the mixture into a mini doughnut mould until the batter fills each doughnut ring halfway. Bake for 10 minutes, then leave to cool in the moulds for a couple of minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the doughnuts have cooled, mix the icing sugar, cocoa and milk together in a small bowl and dip one side of each doughnut into the icing mixture. Add sprinkles to each and allow to set.

When you’re ready to serve the milkshakes, strain the milk mixture through a fine sieve into a pouring jug and discard the tea leaves and orange peel. Pour the milk mixture into mini milk bottles (or glasses) and decorate with doughnuts, pashmak and paper straws before serving.


Making An Impression


Wow! It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. Life just gets in the way sometimes, doesn’t it! I’ve never felt so time-poor and have even wondered myself whether I’d ever get back round to blogging. But blogging and baking are like an old flame, quietly burning away and waiting for the passion to be rekindled.

Still, time moves forward and with it the changing seasons bring irresistible gems… like blood oranges. Yum! I love blood oranges! They’re sweet with a slight bitter edge and have the most magnificently coloured flesh. Transformed into a smooth and tangy citrus curd and coupled with a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth biscuit, these cookies are the ideal way to celebrate another season of beautiful blood oranges and my return to the blog.


Blood Orange & Poppyseed Thumbprint Cookies

~ For the blood orange curd. Makes around 300g
Zest & juice of 2 unwaxed blood oranges
100g caster sugar
A pinch of fleur de sel or sea salt
100g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
4 medium egg yolks

Place the blood orange zest and juice, sugar, salt and butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Heat until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool slightly.

Add the egg yolks to a mixing bowl and whisk until they start to turn pale and thicken slightly. Add a small amount of the blood orange mixture to the egg yolks and whisk it in. Gradually add the remaining blood orange mixture, then transfer it to the saucepan and return it to a low heat, whisking continuously until it thickens and a couple of bubbles escape. This could take 10-15 minutes, but don’t be tempted to stop whisking otherwise it will curdle.

Pass the curd through a fine sieve into a clean bowl and cover with cling film. Make sure the cling film comes into contact with the surface if the blood orange curd to prevent it from forming a thick skin on top. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Transfer to a sterilised jar and store in the fridge for up to a week.


~ For the cookies. Makes 20
15g poppyseeds
15ml full-cream/whole milk
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature  75g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 egg yolk
150g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
75g blood orange curd

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius/ 340 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking trays with baking parchment.

Add the poppyseeds and milk to a small mixing bowl and leave to soak for 15-20 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and mix until thoroughly combined. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into the butter mixture and mix until just combined, then stir in the milk and poppyseeds and gently bring the dough together.

Roll the cookie dough into 3-4cm balls and place on the baking trays 5cm apart. Gently flatten each cookie until around 2cm thick and indent the middle with your thumb. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and using the end of a wooden spoon, gently press down on the indent to make it slightly deeper. Add 1/2 teaspoon of blood orange curd to the centre of each cookie, rotate the tray and bake for a further 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.


Two~Nicholas Cake (Pistachio Sponge with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting)

Pistachio 1

With my younger brother still recovering from a serious car accident and long days at work, I’ve hardly spent much time baking recently… and even less blogging! I’ve missed it. I love to give my blog the attention it deserves, but it’s important to remember that people are always much more deserving of our attention. My Opa (Nicolaas) recently celebrated a birthday, and my younger brother (Nicholas) recently came home for the first time since his accident. Both occasions were celebrated with a rich, decadently dressed pistachio sponge cake covered in honey cream cheese frosting and seasonal fruit – which I’m calling a Two Nicholas Cake in their honour… Two of the best damn Nicholas’s the world has ever seen! I love them to bits!

Pistachio 2

~ for the sponge
125g shelled pistachios
300g lightly salted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
300g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 large, free-range eggs
225g self raising flour

~ for the sugar syrup
50g golden caster sugar
50ml water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

~ for the icing
300g icing sugar
75g lightly salted butter, at room temperature
200g cream cheese, cold
1 heaped tablespoon of Australian honey
An assortment of fresh fruit to decorate – I’ve used figs, muscatel grapes and sugar plums

Pistachio 4

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius/340 degrees Fahrenheit and line three 6″/15cm round cake tins and one baking tray with baking parchment.

Roast the pistachios nuts for 7-8 minutes on the baking tray, then set aside to cool. Place the nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Weigh out 25g and set them aside for decorating the cake.

To make the sponge, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of a freestanding mixer using the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs and mix until fully combined. Add the flour and mix until just combined, then fold through the pistachio nuts until evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack.

To make the sugar syrup, heat the sugar and water over a high heat until it comes to the boil. Set aside to cool slightly, then add the vanilla extract.

While the cakes are still warm, poke holes in each sponge with a toothpick and brush with the sugar syrup. Leave the cakes to cool, ideally wrap them in foil and leave at room temperature overnight, then trim the tops and halve each sponge, giving you six layers.

When you’re ready to assemble the cake, make the icing by placing the icing sugar and butter in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and whisking slowly until you have a sandy consistency. Add the cream cheese and mix on a high speed for a minute or two (don’t over mix your icing or it will go slack). Mix in the honey and then sandwich each layer of the sponge together with a portion of the icing. Cover the cake in the remaining icing and decorate with pistachio nuts and fresh fruit.

My cheeky little helper, my beautiful niece, Paige
My cheeky little helper, my beautiful niece, Paige

Welcome to the Streets of Barangaroo


Sydney’s latest foodie haunt is as hot as the chicken dished up by Belle’s Hot Chicken, who are just one of the pop-ups calling the Streets of Barangaroo home for the next 9 months.


When Copenhagen’s famous Noma restaurant moves to Sydney’s new Barangaroo development in early 2016, it will be in good company. The Wulugul pop-up is a new outdoor-canteen style food and drink hub located along the foreshore of Barangaroo.


Among the new kids on the block is Gin&It, a small bar with an enormous range of gin from across the globe. If you’re a gin drinker, you can’t miss an opportunity to sample their encyclopaedic catalogue of gin, and if you’re not very fond of gin (like me), it might surprise you. Their gin cocktails developed exclusively for Barangaroo are exquisite and have me rethinking my aversion to gin. A particular favourite of mine of was the Aviation (gin with maraschino liqueur, crème de violette and lemon juice served with a glacé blueberry) and the Coriandrum (apple wood smoked gin with a celery & coriander liqueur and lemon juice).


Mamak is already well known in Sydney for its Malayasian street food. Their satay chicken skewers, roti flatbreads and vegetable curries are bursting with flavour and have a comfortable undercurrent of heat.


Specialty coffee roasters and winners of TimeOut Sydney’s best cafe for 2015, Edition Coffee Roasters, are serving up some of the finest single origin coffee you’ll ever taste. Artfully roasted according to the characteristics present in each batch of beans rather than to suit a particular style of drink (most roasters will roast their beans to suit espresso or filter, etc.), these guys take coffee to another level. The single estate Colombian the boys had on the night of the Wulugul launch was probably the first Columbian brew I’ve ever tasted that didn’t have chocolate or cherry in the flavour profile, instead it was light and zesty with a very clean mouth-feel and a hint of gooseberry. Amazing!


RivaReno Gelato will be keeping Wulugul foodies cool over the summer. Their silky smooth gelato is made using milk imported all the way from the Stura Valley in Italy for an authentic gelato experience. And in case you’re thinking it doesn’t get any better than that, it’s then thickly coated in rich, single origin Valrhona chocolate with a crunch that echoes through your head as you bite into it.


The star of the show is definitely Belle’s Hot Chicken, an American style eatery from Melbourne. Their fried chicken ranges in heat from mild to actually-made-my-sister’s-boyfriend-cry-it’s-so-hot (sorry Carrick)! This is pure comfort food. Belle’s tender and tantalisingly tasty fried chicken is accompanied by the ideal chip (soft and fluffy in the middle, crunchy on the outside), pickles and an assortment of sides and sauces. Well worth queuing for.


There aren’t many places in the world that compare to what’s on offer at Barangaroo. With breathtaking views of Sydney’s world famous harbour that only get better as the sun sets and the foreshore lights up with thousands of decorative lights, staying for another little bite to eat or enjoying another drink is almost compulsory.


A heart of gold (Speculaas Molten Lava Cakes)

Speculaas molten lava cake 1

I love being able to share what I bake with my family. It’s something I’ve not really done much of because I didn’t catch the baking bug until I moved to London in 2009. It’s a wonderful feeling, putting your heart and soul into making something for people you love and seeing them enjoy it, it makes you feel all warm and gooey inside… like a molten lava cake!

If I had to use a taste or smell to characterise my family, Speculaas would definitely be one of them. It’s sweet, warm and comforting, and reminds me of visits to my Oma & Opa’s house. But what makes this particular recipe extraordinarily special is that a few weeks ago my younger brother and I shared them for dessert the night before he was involved in a terrible car accident. We bonded over a familiar flavour, something we both grew up with, but tasted by each of us in a new way. So this recipe is dedicated to my amazing little brother, Nick, whom I love and adore, and who has a heart of gold.

Speculaas molten lava cake 2

Speculaas Molten Lava Cakes

~ makes around 10 cakes

15g crushed Speculaas cookies, plus extra to decorate
120g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
100g white chocolate
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg, ginger & cardamom
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
100g brown sugar
50g golden caster sugar
60g plain flour, sifted
A pinch of sea salt

Speculaas molten lava cake 3

Lightly grease a 10-12 cup muffin tray and coat with Speculaas cookie crumbs.

In a heatproof bowl set over gently simmering water (Bain-Marie), melt the white chocolate and butter, then stir in the vanilla and spices. Set aside to cool slightly.

In the bowl of a freestanding mixer using the whisk attachment, mix together the eggs and egg yolks. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved, then pour in the butter mixture, flour and salt and whisk until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tray and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake the cakes for 10-12 minutes, or until they start to come away from the sides of the tin but still have a slight wobble in the middle. Leave to cool in the tin for a couple of minutes, then carefully remove the cakes from the tin and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or custard and a sprinkling of Speculaas cookie crumbs.

Speculaas molten lava cake 4

10,560 miles later… (Meyer Lemon Heaven)

Meyer lemon cloud cookies

It’s been a busy month. It’s no easy feat packing up all your worldly belongings (especially when your kitchen is as busy with kitchenware as a cookshop) and moving to the other side of the globe. In fact, the bulk of my kitchen is still in transit and so I’m feeling rather encumbered at the moment. There’s also the challenge of finding my way around a much changed Sydney and discovering all the places that sell the specialty products I love to accumulate, so I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled across a stash of Meyer lemons at the Sydney Sustainable Markets last Saturday morning.

Meyer lemons are one of the things that have evaded me and my baking to date. I’ve been wanting to try these golden beauties for a long time, fascinated by Martha Stewart’s obsession with them. Although they’re a lemon, they taste almost like an orange; beautifully sweet and summery. Meyer lemons are prized for the abundance of highly fragrant oils found in the skin, it’s the most glorious, heady citrus scent. So like a kid in a candy store, I excitedly filled my tote bag with these fabulous fruits… which in retrospect just wasn’t enough. You’ll find me back at the market this weekend, buying them by the bucketload!

A Sydney local enjoying the winter sun
A Sydney local enjoying the winter sun

Meyer Lemon Cloud Cookies
~ makes approximately 30 cookies

130g unsalted butter, at room temperature
190g raw/granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 5 Meyer lemons
Pinch of sea salt
2 large, free-range eggs
250g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
50g icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

In the bowl of a freestanding mixer using the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer), cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Mix in the lemon zest and a pinch of sea salt. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until fully combined. Sift the flour and baking powder together and gently mix into the butter mixture until just combined.

Sift the icing sugar into a clean bowl. Roll the cookie dough into walnut sized pieces (roughly a tablespoon) and roll each one in the icing sugar. Place on the baking tray around 5cm apart and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the cookies start to brown around the edges. Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container or biscuit tin for up to a week.

Meyer lemon cookies

Ruby Red Rhubarb & Rose Bakewell Tart

I love Bakewell tarts. Proper Bakewell tarts, that’s is, not those crummy shop-bought, factory-made excuses for a Bakewell tart. A proper Bakwell is full of velvety frangipane, a generous layer of rich jam and a delightfully flaky pastry… they are strictly a fondant-free zone! A proper Bakewell tart needs to live up to its name.

Sadly I’ve not yet visited the English town of Bakewell, but what I imagine it to be is a haven for tea time treats and old English charm. In reality, the town gets its name from a man called ‘Badeca’ and an old English word for stream, ‘wella’. But it seems to me that Bakewell was fated to deliver one of the world’s best baked goods. My interpretation of the Bakewell tart uses strawberry jam and rose kissed rhubarb, whose crimson hues peek out from beneath a scattering of flaked almonds and the buttery frangipane.

Bakewell 1

Rhubarb, Rose & Strawberry Bakewell Tart

~ For the pastry

120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
60g icing sugar
A pinch of salt
2 medium egg yolks
220g plain flour

~ For the filling
150g rhubarb
1 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp rose extract
1 tsp water
150g strawberry jam
200g butter
200g caster sugar
A few drops of almond extract
2 medium eggs
200g ground almonds/almond meal
50g self-raising flour
50g flaked almonds
Icing sugar to decorate

Bakewell 2

To make the pastry, beat the butter, icing sugar and salt together in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated. Stir in the flour until just combined (or I like to gently mix it in with my fingertips), then wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least an hour (preferably overnight).

When your dough is ready, take it out of the fridge 20 minutes before you want to use it to allow it to come to room temperature. Roll it out between two pieces of cling film until it is 3-5mm thick. Line the base of a 10″/25cm tart tin with baking parchment, then line the tin with the pastry and chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

To make the filling, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the rhubarb into 7-8cm pieces. Place the rhubarb in a small baking tray and sprinkle with caster sugar, rose extract and water. Bake for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool down.

To make the almond frangipane, place the butter, caster sugar and almond extract in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and beat until light and fluffy using the paddle attachment*. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated. Fold in the ground almonds/almond meal and self-raising flour until just combined. Cover the base of the pastry case with strawberry jam and dollop the almond mixture on top. Even out the mixture using a spatula or palette knife, then place the rhubarb on top, followed by the flaked almonds. Bake for 30 minutes, then cover with foil to prevent the almonds from burning and bake for a further 15-20 minutes.

Allow the tart to cool completely, then remove it from the tin and dust it with icing sugar. Keep in the fridge for up to a week.

* If you don’t have a freestanding mixer, use an electric beater with the whisk attachments.

Bakewell 3

Put your honey where your mouth is (with a slice of Honey & Cinnamon Cake)

It takes 12 worker bees their entire life to produce 1 teaspoon of honey for harvest
It takes 12 worker bees their entire life to produce 1 teaspoon of honey for harvest

Honey bees are the only insect in the world that produce food eaten by humans, and honey is the only food to contain all the components needed to sustain life (vitamins, minerals, enzymes and water). Honey is also the only food to contain the antioxidant “pinocembrin”, which is associated with enhanced brain function, making honey one of nature’s most unique superfoods.

What I love most about honey is the diversity of flavour and its versatility in cooking and baking. Honey is one of nature’s miracles, and what better way to celebrate it than with a delicious, warming Honey & Cinnamon Cake.

To find out more about honey and honey bees, visit Fine Foodies magazine and read my column Put your honey where your mouth is on page 28 of the Summer 2015 issue.

Honey & Cinnamon Cake
Honey & Cinnamon Cake

~ for the sponge

200g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp floral honey
4 medium, organic free-range eggs (at room temperature)
200g self-raising flour

~ for the sugar syrup
50g golden caster sugar
50ml water

~ for the buttercream icing
200g icing sugar, sifted
120g butter, softened
1 tsp floral honey
2 tbsp whole/full cream milk
1 tsp bee pollen, to decorate
1 tbsp floral honey, to decorate
6 fresh physalis, to decorate (optional)

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two 6″/15cm round tins with baking parchment.

In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, add the butter, caster sugar, ground cinnamon and honey and mix together with the paddle attachment until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and make sure it’s all mixed together evenly. One by one, add each egg until fully combined. If the mixture starts to curdle, add some of the flour. Once you have a smooth, even mixture, add the flour in batches and mix until just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and even out the surface. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until it starts to come away from the edges and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

While the sponge is in the oven, make your sugar syrup by combining the caster sugar and water in a small pot over a medium heat. Slowly bring it to the boil, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

When your cake is baked, allow it to cool in the tin for around 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Using a toothpick, poke holes in the sponge and then brush it with the sugar syrup. Ideally you want to wrap your sponge in foil and let it rest overnight before cutting and assembling it, but if you don’t have time, wait for it to cool completely before cutting.

When you’re ready to assemble the cake, make your buttercream icing by placing the icing sugar and butter in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and slowly mix them together using the whisk attachment until you get a sandy consistency. Add the honey to the mixture, then gradually add the milk. Mix on a high speed for a few minutes until it’s light and fluffy.

Trim the top of each sponge so they’re even, then halve them horizontally. Place the bottom sponge on a plate, cake stand or cake board and spread 1/4 of the buttercream icing on it, making sure to go right to the edge of the sponge. Place the second sponge layer on top and repeat until you get to the last layer. Top the cake with the remaining buttercream icing, then smooth the icing around the sides so you get a thin, sparse layer around the outside. Decorate with the bee pollen, honey and fresh physalis. Serve at room temperature.

Better than a pot of gold, honey is nature's most delicious treasure
Better than a pot of gold, honey is nature’s most delicious treasure

First time fishing & an all-too-easy Mackerel & Rhubarb Ceviche

Rhubarb, Ginger & Mackerel Ceviche
Rhubarb, Ginger & Mackerel Ceviche

While I refine the Bakewell tart recipe I had hoped to have on here by now (it’s not quite right yet… a couple of adjustments and it’ll be perfect!), here’s a quick recipe for a mackerel ceviche that’s wonderfully easy to make and super tasty!

I’ve really got into the ceviche scene recently. It’s such a beautiful way to eat seafood, especially in summer. It’s refreshing, light and keeps the house cool because you don’t need to use the stove or oven to cook the meat. Mr Brown and I went deep-sea fishing for the first time yesterday and we caught two very beautiful mackerel (and four whiting! Well done us!). Ceviche really captures the freshness of seafood, so if you’re catching your own fish and want to make the most of having it that fresh, ceviche is the way to go.

Freshly caught mackerel
Freshly caught mackerel

2 mackerel, filleted and pin boned, with skin on
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
50g rhubarb, thinly sliced
1 long red chilli, de-seeded and thinly sliced
1 tbsp finely grated ginger
A handful of coriander, roughly chopped
A small handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
75g tortilla chips, to serve

Dice the mackerel fillets into 1cm pieces. Add the mackerel, lemon juice and orange juice to a mixing bowl, making sure the mackerel is completely covered with juice. Mix in the rhubarb, chilli and ginger, then leave to marinate for 5-10 minutes. The mackerel is ‘cooked’ when it becomes opaque.

Add the herbs, then season to taste and drain away any excess liquid. Serve on a bed of tortilla chips. Margaritas optional!

Deep-sea fishing off the Dorset coast
Deep-sea fishing off the Dorset coast