playing with flour

Month: July, 2012

Grapefruit Curd

As promised, here is the grapefruit curd recipe. It is very flexible and I would recommend you alter the amount of sugar to suit your tastes. If you prefer a more tangy, bitter curd use 1/3 cup sugar instead as I found these measurements quite sweet.

The grapefruit makes for a nice change from the traditional lemon curd but I’ve also made a number of others in the past including passionfruit and raspberry. I think I may have to attempt lime curd next!

As with any other curd, it goes fantastically with baking (such as these cupcakes) but also on toast, yogurt, cereal… whatever you dare to try. I have one more recipe using this curd coming up soon and then I promise to stop talking about grapefruits for a while!

Grapefruit Curd

½ cup grapefruit juice
1 tbsp grapefruit zest, finely chopped or grated
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup caster sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Combine the eggs, lemon juice and sugar in a medium saucepan and stir until mixed. Add the grapefruit juice, zest and butter and heat slowly over a low heat, stirring constantly. Do not heat too quickly or the egg will curdle.

Continue to heat until curd is thick and smooth, and coats the back of a spoon. This could be anywhere between 10-20 minutes depending on how thick you’d like it. The curd will continue to thicken somewhat when cooling.

When ready pour through a fine sieve to catch any cooked egg strands. Cover and refrigerate until cold. If you want to bottle the curd for gifts or storage make sure you sterilize your jars first. I found this recipe made for nearly 2 full jars of curd.


Grapefruit Cupcakes

Grapefruits are not my favourite citrus. Far from it in fact. But my husband loves them so we often have them around the house. I have previously used the following recipe with lemon curd which was absolutely delicious, but this time decided to try it using grapefruits.

The result was suprising in that I actually enjoyed them more than I expected. The curd is not too bitter and the pairs well with the cream cheese frosting. The addition of grapefruit juice and zest to the cupcake batter means you get the citrus notes all the way through, and the slight bitterness stops the sweetness being overpowering.

I would recommend waiting until your curd, cupcakes and frosting are all cold before attempting to assemble these, otherwise it gets a bit messy. The reaction you get from people when they reach the gooey centre is priceless.

I will post the recipe for the curd in the next few days.

Grapefruit Cupcakes

Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

1 cup plain flour
¾ cup caster sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp grapefruit zest, finely chopped or grated
¼ cup grapefruit juice
3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 180° and prepare your cupcake cases.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, zest and butter in a bowl and beat until combined. You should get a sandy consistency. Pour in the milk and juice and beat until combined.

Add the egg and mix until incorporated, then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or until smooth.

Spoon into cupcake cases until 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool before filling and frosting.

To fill cupcakes:

Prepare a batch of grapefruit curd (recipe to follow).

When cool, use a teaspoon to hollow out the centre of the cupcakes. Fill the cavity with grapefruit curd then place the top of the cupcake back on.

Grapefruit Frosting

Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

2 cups icing sugar, sifted
5 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp grapefruit zest, finely chopped or grated
2 tbsp milk

In your mixer, beat together icing sugar, butter and zest on medium speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. On a slower speed add the milk and beat until combined. Then increase to high speed and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

To get the variations in colour, take a small amount of frosting and add a small amount of grapefruit curd. Mix well until your frosting is a different colour. You can enhance the colour with a drop of food dye if needed. When piping use mostly the plain frosting but add some coloured frosting to the bag also (I like to put a stripe down one side of the bag). As you pipe you will get variations throughout your frosting.

Caramel Almond Biscotti

Nothing goes better with a cup of tea or coffee than biscotti. Meaning ‘twice-baked’, these crunchy Italian biscuits are simple to make and so versatile you can add almost anything to them. Previously I’ve made simple almond and lemon zest, mixed nut, hazelnut and chocolate and double chocolate biscotti. This time I wanted to use up some of a large bag of almonds I recently bought and these delicious caramel chips.

My mum and I found these caramel baking chips in the supermarket recently and they’ve fast become one of my favourite baking ingredients. They’re strong and sweet and don’t lose any of their caramel flavour when baked. If you cant find them regular chocolate chips or even white chocolate chips would substitute well.

This recipe makes for some really light biscotti with an excellent crunch. The almond and caramel pair really well together and make them seem quite decadent. Next time I think I’ll enhance the vanilla a bit more, perhaps using a vanilla bean instead of extract, to make it a bit stronger.

A couple of tips – be very careful handling the biscotti until they have been baked and cooled for the second time, they are really delicate and fall apart easily. Once finished though they’re firm enough to fling around! Also if your dough is really thin and won’t hold its shape at all you can add some more sifted flour but you’ll have to beat it in by hand. If you do, go slowly and add a small amount at a time and ensure it’s completely mixed in.

Caramel Almond Biscotti

110 g whole almonds
130 g caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
230 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
110 g caramel baking chips

Preheat oven to 180° and line a baking tray with baking paper. Chop your almonds roughly and set aside.

Place eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until thick, pale and creamy, about 5 minutes or so.

In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add this to the egg mixture and beat until combined. Add the vanilla and ensure it is mixed through. The batter should be thick and creamy and quite sticky.

Fold in the chopped almonds and caramel chips.

You now need to mold a log shape with the dough. I found it quite sticky and hard to work with so I would recommend putting it straight onto your baking paper and using some flour to help move it around. It doesn’t have to look perfect but should be a roughly even shape.

Turn your oven down to 160° and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the dough is quite firm and golden. Ensure it is properly cooked or it will fall apart when cutting through the centre. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.

Using a serrated bread knife cut the dough on a diagonal angle into slices. It’s up to you how thick you would like them; I went for roughly 1.5cm. Place each biscotti back on the baking tray and bake for approximately 10 minutes on each side or until golden. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Celebration Cookies

It has been an exciting and anxious day today, waiting for results from my final ever university exams and finding out where I will be placed next year as an intern. It’s been a really long road with nine years of university and two degrees, but I can finally say I’ve made it. Officially I don’t get the doctor title until the end of the year but it feels pretty damn good just the same!

I found these cookies on David Lebovitz’s blog and immediately wanted to try them. They make for the perfect cookie to have with a cup of tea or coffee and it’s hard to stop at just one. I made them early this morning, before I’d gotten any of the good news, quietly confident they would be celebration not commiseration cookies.

These cookies use tahini, which is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. Make sure you buy 100% ground sesame seeds as some varieties include sugar or other ingredients. The cookies come together really quickly and have a complex sweet taste that allows the sesame seeds and almonds to shine. Next time I’d like to add some praline or similar to give an added crunch but they are lovely just as they are.

Tahini and Almond Cookies

Recipe by David Lebovitz

140 g plain flour
140 g wholemeal flour
70 g almond meal
150 g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
150 g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons water
200 g tahini paste

Preheat oven to 175º and prepare 2 baking trays with baking paper.

If you have a food processor it’s just a matter of combining all the ingredients except the tahini and water and processing until you get a fine crumb. In my case I used my stand mixer until I got the same result, it wasn’t a problem, it’s just a longer process.

Add the water and the tahini and continue to mix until you get a smooth dough. Knead the dough on the counter a couple of times to bring it all together.

Create small balls of dough and space evenly on the baking trays. Flatten each of them slightly with your fingers.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on a baking rack.

Old-fashioned Chocolate Cake

I love a complicated recipe. Numerous steps, hours of preparation and cooking, multiple techniques. It’s a challenge I’m more than willing to accept. But sometimes it’s good to make something simple and classic, like this chocolate cake. Rich, but not overpowering, dense but not heavy, it comes together incredibly fast. I recommend using good quality chocolate and cocoa as there is nothing else to hide behind, so you will notice the difference. The frosting is deliciously chocolately and super easy to spread. Perfect for a last minute dinner party!


Old-fashioned Chocolate Cake

Recipe by Nigella Lawson

200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
40g cocoa
175g soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150ml sour cream

Preheat oven to 180° and grease and line two 20cm baking tins.

Cream butter and sugar in large bowl then add all the remaining ingredients: flour, baking powder, bicarb soda, cocoa, eggs, vanilla and sour cream. Mix on medium speed until all combined and smooth.

Pour into prepared tins and cook for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely on wire racks before frosting.


Chocolate Frosting

75g unsalted butter
175g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
300g icing sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125ml sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (If you want you can use the microwave but go slowly!). Allow to cool slightly. Add the golden syrup, vanilla and sour cream and mix to combine.

Seive the icing sugar into the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. You may need to adjust the thickness of the frosting by adding a small amount of water or more icing sugar to get your desired texture.

Spread 1/3 of the mixture on one cake, then place the second cake on top. Use the remaining frosting for the top and sides of the cake. Decorate as desired.

Sweet Strawberry Cupcakes

After going overboard at the local markets and buying 3 large punnets of strawberries I had to find another way to use them up. I used a recipe for strawberry cheesecake cupcakes from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook and modified it slightly to make the cupcake bases. Instead of pairing it with a cream cheese frosting I used a sweet strawberry one.

The cupcakes are soft and crumbly with a mild strawberry flavour which pairs well with the stronger taste of strawberry in the frosting. There are a couple of modifications I would make next time around though. The frosting is very sweet and I feel would be better with less sugar. The chopped strawberries are delicious and moist but are very difficult to eat on the bottom of the cupcakes, however they would be perfect on top of the cake batter (but under the frosting).


Strawberry cupcakes

Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

1 cup plain flour
¾ cup caster sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp strawberry extract
1 egg
12 large strawberries

Preheat the oven to 180°. Prepare 12 cupcake cases.

Mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and butter on low speed until you get a sandy consistency.

Add the milk and vanilla and mix at medium speed until all combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add the egg and strawberry extract and beat well for a few minutes.

Chop the strawberries into small pieces as place in the bottom of each cupcake case. Spoon the batter over the strawberries until two-thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool before frosting.

Strawberry frosting

¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup pureed strawberries
2 ¼ cups sifted icing sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp strawberry extract

In a small saucepan heat the strawberry puree on medium heat until it reduces by half. Add the vanilla and strawberry extracts. Set aside to cool.

Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Continue to mix, adding the puree slowly, a small amount at a time, until you get a thick spreadable frosting.

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and decorate as desired.

Strawberry Rhubarb Tartlettes

One of my favourite things about winter in Queensland is the abundance of fresh delicious strawberries. An impromptu invitation for family to come over for dinner left me wondering what quick recipe I could whip up that would take advantage of these without disguising them too much with other flavours.

This recipe is fast to make, especially if you have the dough pre-prepared. It’s just a matter of macerating the fruit and baking. While strawberries and rhubarb are a classic combination you could easily substitute with other berries or stone fruits such as plums and nectarines. The pistachios on top give colour and an added crunch but can be left out if you’d prefer.

This recipe makes 6 10cm tartlettes. You will only need about 1/3 of the amount of dough but this can be halved or the excess can be stored in the fridge or freezer for later use.


Tart dough

285gm unsalted butter, at room temperature
1.5 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3.5 cups plain flour

Beat the butter in a mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the caster sugar, almond meal, salt, vanilla and eggs and mix until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add the flour half a cup at a time, mixing on a low speed until the dough comes together. It should be quite soft.

Roll the dough together with your hands and wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least an hour. The longer it cools the easier it will be to handle. The dough can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

When ready to make the tartlettes, break off a piece of dough and place the rest back in the fridge. Roll the dough out to approximately a 0.5cm thickness. You can make the dough thicker or thinner depending on your preference but cooking times should be adjusted accordingly. I like to roll my dough out on a piece of baking paper to avoid sticking to the bench and you can dust with some flour if the dough is hard to handle.  Fit the dough into your tartlette tins (I like to sit my tin upturned on the dough then flip it all over with the baking paper) and lightly press in. If you have any gaps or cracks use the scrap pieces of dough to fill them. Prick the bases with a fork. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 180° and blind bake your tartlette cases for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. You can weigh the dough down with weights or beans if you like but I found it wasn’t necessary.

Allow to cool before adding the filling.

Strawberry rhubarb filling

1.5 cups diced strawberries
1.5 cups diced rhubarb
¾ cup caster sugar
1.5 tbsp cornflour
Juice of half a lemon

Preheat oven to 180°.

Combine the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch and lemon in a bowl. Stir to mix. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Spoon the filling into the prepared tart shells but don’t overfill them. Add a spoonful of the juices from the fruit to each tartlette. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the filling is no longer runny.

Allow to fully cool before removing the tartlette cases. Top with extra diced strawberries and chopped pistachios. Serve with dollop cream or ice cream.

Yet another baking blog.

I haven’t started this blog to get attention or to show off my skills. I’m not looking for recognition or a following.

I’ve wanted to do this for some time now but it always came back to ‘why would anyone want yet another baking blog?’. The answer is they probably don’t. But I don’t mind. I want a place to keep all my recipes and to share them with people who enjoy them. I have a collection of recipes and photos of delicious things created over the years and I want somewhere to organise and display them. I want something to keep me motivated to try new things and to encourage me to write more, which is not something I feel particularly skilled at.

So here it is. If I happen to inspire or encourage others to try my recipes or create their own along the way, I could think of nothing better.

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