On My Shelf | Spiced Apple Cake

If you’ve ever been to Melbourne and you haven’t been to Burch and Purchese, you’ve been wasting your life. It’s the closest thing to a Wonka-wonderland that we’ve got, and it’s utter magic.

Darren’s first book covered all his patisserie’s signature cakes and general fancies. It’s a thing of great beauty, but perhaps not the most practical thing to work from. His second (and brand new release) is a much more everyday kind of thing, with the perfect kind of bakes for afternoon teas, through to some more professional (but not impossible) looking desserts that would impress the pants off your next dinner party. And if you get a little stuck, there are some pretty handy how-to and troubleshooting sections to get you through. The book hit my desk last week and it it’s just beautiful. I haven’t been inspired by a book in a while, but this is something that deserves space on your shelf.

This was the first thing that spoke to me when I opened the book. The recipe belongs to his wife, Cath, who had it given to her by her mother. Darren calls this a cake, except what holds together a dozen apples is pastry, but not a proper pastry. The spices elevate the whole thing, and it’s not overly sweet. Kind of imagine a pot pie, but with apples. I don’t entirely understand what’s happening here, all I can tell you it is thoroughly fucking delicious.

I made this over the recent long weekend, while all my friends were gallivanting in the South West – Pemberton, Margaret River. The apples I used are a mix of green and red, which prevents the cake from being too sweet. Plus, they all came from WA’s  Southern Forests region, so while I couldn’t be there,  I could still enjoy their magnificent produce. They don’t pay me to say that, it’s honestly the best food you’ll ever eat, I promise!

 

Spiced Apple Cake

From Lamingtons and Lemon Tarts by Darren Purchese

120g unsalted butter
110g caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
250g self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed allspice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon

12 apples, peeled and cored
1 vanilla bean
finely grated zest and juice of a lemon
150g caster sugar

1 egg whisked
Extra caster sugar, to sprinkle

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, cream together the sugar, butter, and salt. Add the egg, beat to combine, then add the spices and flour. Mix gently until there are no floury bits. Wrap the dough in cling film, and stick in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Cut the peeled and cored apples into quarters, and then each quarter into four pieces. Place the apple pieces in a pot with the sugar, juice, and zest and vanilla bean and pod, then place the pot over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the apples are soft, but still holding shape. Remove from heat and leave to cool completely. Remove and discard the vanilla pod.

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Heat the oven to 160 degrees Celcius, and grease a springform cake tin.Take two-thirds of the pastry, and roll it into a circle that’s about 5mm thick. If it’s too soft, place it in the fridge to chill and firm up a bit. Press it into the cake tin and up the sides, and leave just a little overhanging the edge. It’s a super forgiving pastry, so don’t worry if it tears, just smush it back together or patch it with some extra pastry.

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Pack the apple into the pastry as firmly as you can. Roll out the remaining dough into a pie lid, place over the apple, then fold the overhang and smoosh to seal. Brush with the whisked egg, then sprinkle sugar over the top. Place in the oven for 45 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.save-new-1

Leave to cool for 15 minutes in the pan before carefully releasing the springform tin. Serve with a thick custard. It’s delicious both hot and cold. Or eaten straight from the pan eight hours later. Because that happened. Seriously.

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How-To | 5 Tips To Bake Like Katherine Sabbath

They tell you that you should never meet your idols, because you’ll almost always walk away disappointed.

I had no such luck when I recently met Katherine Sabbath. That lady is a dream.
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Katherine was brought to Perth for the first time by Kitchen Warehouse for a series of demonstrations to make her iconic melted ice cream cake.

I’m not going to lie to you – I got there 40 minutes early so I could nab a seat in the front row, like the dork that I am. I’m going to say this – and I just can’t emphasise it enough – she’s just so damn nice. While waiting for other attendees, she was happy to answer questions, talk about Instagram and her breakfast (Stimulatte in Subi, for those playing at home) and rearrange the bench to make sure no body missed out on seeing what she was doing.

Before long, it was show time.

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First and foremost: Her aprons are from Gorman. They are gorgeous. Buy them here.

Two: “If I want a chocolate cake, I want the richest chocolate cake I can. I definitely believe in only making a cake that you’d want to eat yourself,” Katherine says.

In fact, if you took away nothing else from her demos, let nugget of advice be it. She believes that by making cakes you want to eat, you’ll buy better ingredients, your passion will show through, and you’ll end up with a better cake as a result.

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Three: Time and patience.If you’re trying to make a towering masterpiece, try and give yourself 2-3 days to do it, so you don’t end up in a panicked, crying mess on the floor (I have no experience in that…), especially if it’s your first attempt. It also goes without saying that if it is your first time making something, do not mess with the recipe. 

Cakes come together best when they are cold, so throw every layer into the freezer for 15 minutes before you add another – it will help your cake hold its shape.

Four: Think you can’t recreate one of her cakes? THINK AGAIN. All of those cakes you see on Instagram are made in her tiny home kitchen. Even more impressive is that she’s only just invested in a Kitchen Aid. Yep, all of those incredible cakes were made with an electric hand mixer. The take away: if she can do it, so can you.

What I love most about home-taught chefs is that they know how to make do with what they’ve got. No Thermomixes, no Vitamixes, no ingredients that you need a chemistry degree to be able to pronounce. Those flawless sides on her cakes? Achieved with a cement scraper her dad bought her from Bunnings 10 years ago, when she couldn’t find or afford professional tools to keep up with what she needed.  (Something kind of like this)

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Home cooks also probably have jobs outside their craft – Katherine taught high school kids until this year, while whipping the internet into a frenzy. Your saving grace when you promised someone a cake for Friday night, but can’t skip work during the day? Your freezer. Katherine recommends making double batches of cakes or Swiss meringue buttercream next time you hit the kitchen, because both freeze beautifully for up to 3 months. Simply pull them out to defrost in the fridge overnight, and assemble the next day.

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Five: The fun part of cakes is obviously the decorating. Katherine recommends fresh and freeze dried fruits, Americolor pastes, edible flowers, chopped nuts, Valhrona crisp pearls, edible glitter and plenty of sprinkles. The key to those delicious signature drips? Colour melted white chocolate with either a gel paste or special chocolate colouring (supermarket water-based colours will seize the chocolate and ruin it), and gently coax the chocolate off the sides of a chilled cake with the back of a spoon.

Experiment! Have fun!

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Places to shop:

Additional tips and recipes:

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What I Love | Woman Crush Wednesday

The Internet is a both a blessing and a curse. So often I have days where I end up infuriated, heartbroken and frustrated by the goings on that it’s all I can do to turn off my phone and put it away, rather than throw it into the ocean, never to be seen again.

And then there are days where I scroll through my various social media channels and are met with post after post of little fist bump moments, which makes everything seem possible. Creating beautiful or delicious things, righting wrongs, teaching others or just generally kicking ass and taking names, I’m pretty excited by the amazing work of so many others.

So today, we’re striking out and doing a #womancrushwednesday – a tribute to a bunch of ladies who do work I can’t get enough of. Some I know, some I stalk from afar don’t, but all are women worth knowing.

This Little Pig Went To Market

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The women from This Little Pig Went To Market (sisters Katherine Jess) are here to save your life. Well, kind of.

With life getting busier and busier, This Little Pig makes life just that little bit easier, by delivering simple, good-for-you meal kits to your door that are, most importantly, bloody delicious. Delivered Saturday and Wednesday, and come loaded with gorgeous fresh produce from suppliers like Torres Butchers, Noodle Forum, Duck Duck Mother Goose and Subi Farmers Market. Everything you need (minus a splash of oil here and there) comes in the box, from marinated meats to dressing to finish the dish. All you have to do is throw it all together (with the funny and adorable instructions clearly laid out for you), and nothing takes longer than 40 minutes. The girls are passionate, knowledgeable, friendly and kind – generally all-round lovely humans.

Katie Willcox

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A friend pointed me to Katie Willcox’s movement after a particularly bad day (buying jeans is torture, I swear). In the lead up to bikini body/summer workouts/blah blah blah season, it might be worth checking in from time to time to remind yourself that yes, you are beautiful, worthy, and fucking badass, no matter what you look like. With 86 thousand followers on Instagram, I’m thrilled that her message is getting across to girls (and women) everywhere.

Iron Chef Shellie

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Shellie Froidevaux has an unknown (to her) superpower: to turn me into a starving, drooling mess in about 3 seconds. Don’t believe me? Take a look at her incredible food photography for yourself. Warm, colourful and 100% delicious. Plus, her website is gold – Salted caramel tart, anyone? Don’t pretend you wouldn’t. Oh, and if you’re on Twitter, she regularly live tweets If You Are The One. Hilarious.

Tiah Eckhardt-Delaney

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You probably know Tiah without knowing exactly why you know her. Tiah is the face of Berlei, Frank Body, Wheels and Dollbaby, Honey Birdette and Dita Von Teese and looks like a completely different person every single time, running the gauntlet of girl-next door to full scale minx, from high fashion to Helmut Newton-inspired dream.

She has wealth of experience in the fashion to shoot down any misconceptions about the industry, she doesn’t shy away from either how ridiculous it can be, but also how hard she and others work. She’s perfectly placed to call out the ridiculous double standards when it comes to women, beauty standards, nudity and sexuality.

But what I probably love most about Tiah is that there is straight up and down ZERO bullshit. She’s tough, fiery, honest, funny, and a massive dork. Plus, she’s from Rockingham, so you know she’s completely unfuckwithable.

She’s coming back to town as the face of the Telstra Fashion Festival in September, and you can follow her in Instagram here (milly NSFW).

Pixel Coffee

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Oh, Pixel. You’re an Instagram lover’s dream, with your white and mint tiles, adorable cups, copper details and COLD BREW ON TAP.

Pixel strikes the perfect balance between dishes that are good for you, with gorgeous bits to treat yourself with. But it’s the cake that has my heart (as always), and oh, how I love those cakes.

In a world where cakes are increasingly inspired by Katherine Sabbath or Unbirthday Bakery (and there’s nothing wrong with that, I take inspiration from those ladies), I love Pixel’s simpler, but no less beautiful offerings. It inspires me to life my day-to-day cakes to a higher standard (and the team at work could not be happier).

Go. Eat. Be happy.

K Gets Organised

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You’ve probably seen me talk about Kelsie before – but buckle in, I’m going to do it again.

As someone who still has trouble colouring in the lines at 28, I’m always completely and utterly in awe of anyone with artistic talent. Kelsie has this in spades. I mean, she paints doughnuts on stationery, OF COURSE I’m completely on board for this. She’s so talented and makes the most beautiful things (see my Hole Foods logo – yup, that’s her work too).

PLUS: I’m giving away some of her lovely goods! YOU CAN WIN THINGS! I have a little bundle of gorgeous things worth over $60, including cards, notepads and the ‘Let’s Do This’ case (my favourite!). Just tell me in the comments what’s on your to do list, and a winner will be drawn on 5 August!

So, tell me: who is inspiring you lately?

All images from their respective Instagrams.

Throes of Winter | Spiced Strawberry Ricotta Cake

The last few weekends have been pure Bri-bliss. Grey, cloudy, rainy, general miserable weather. Monday’s small talk around the coffee machine end in my gleeful recounting my weekend tales – ‘I didn’t leave the house once‘ – and then my colleagues looking at me like I’m mildly crazy and back away slowly.

You see, that is my heaven. In the throes of winter (as much of one as we get in our fair city), you bet your ass I’m going to build a nest on my couch, read books and drink more cups of tea than recommended.

I was struck with idea lightning on one of these weekends – all the tea I was drinking needed a side of cake to go with it. The idea came to me fully formed: I didn’t want to spend much time in the kitchen (it was a really good book I was reading), I wanted the lightness of ricotta, nothing too sweet, but maximum Wintry spice flavour. And so, this came to be.

This is one of those perfect cakes that you serve up for a friend who’s come over for coffee and a catch up. Then, once they’ve gone home, it just sits on the kitchen bench, and every time you walk past, you cut off a sliver to munch on as you go about your business. Sliver by delicious sliver, the cake won’t last the weekend!

Spiced Strawberry Ricotta Cake

Adapted from Bon Appetit

1½ cups plain flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1½ cups ricotta
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cardamom
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
57g unsalted butter, melted
1 cup strawberries (or any berries, fresh or frozen), halved of large
Icing sugar, to dust.

Preheat oven to 180°c. Grease a springform cake pan with butter or oil, and line the bottom with baking paper.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt in a large bowl.

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In a medium sized bowl, beat together the eggs, ricotta, and vanilla until smooth. Gently fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Add the butter, and again fold to combine.

Pour the batter into the cake pan, and then poke the strawberries evenly into the mixture.

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Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then cool completely on a wire rack. When ready to serve, dust with icing sugar.

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Sexy AF | Chocolate Cake

Guys, it’s time to get sexy.

There is nothing in this world so reliable as good ol’ chocolate cake. But over the years, it’s earn itself a reputation as bland, dry, even boring. I mean, I get it. Cheap cocoa powder is no one’s friend. Neither is tins of pre-made frosting (or anything out of a box, for that matter).

But this, this is none of those things. This is the moment in the movie when the nerdy girl takes off her glasses, shakes out her hair and Robert Palmer kicks in as she werks it down the high school corridor. Be prepared to have your jaw drop.

The book that this recipe is from called it The Little Black Dress cake. I get it, it can be dressed up or down, it’s always a winner. But I really don’t think that title really encapsulates just how good this cake is. It is, without question, sexy. as. fuck.

I mean, look at this. It’s gorgeous. It’s pretty hard not to feel very Nigella Lawson while slowly stirring that melted chocolate until it’s all thick and glossy.

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The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of liquor, and this is a good time to get creative, or see what’s in the cabinet. Dark rum and brandy taste expensive and rich, coffee liquor (or just espresso) adds depth, Frangelico or Grand Marnier add a little fun. You can leave it out entirely if you prefer. It definitely could do with a little bit of double cream, because screw it. Be bad. Enjoy it.

 

Sexy AF Chocolate Cake

From Delicious. Simply the Best

500g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
125g unsalted butter, chopped
6 eggs, separated
90g caster sugar
150ml thickened cream
2 tbsp liquor
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

450g good quality chocolate, chopped
175g unsalted butter
600ml thickened cream
1/4 cup liquid glucose

Heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a springform cake tin and line it with baking paper.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in either a microwave proof dish or in a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir the two together until smooth, then set aside to cool slightly.

With an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together until thick and pale. Add the cream, liquor, vanilla and chocolate mixture and stir until well combined.

In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mix in 3 batches. Do this carefully, you want to keep as much as air in the mixture as you can.

Spread the mixture into the cake pan, and bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out with a couple of crumbs. Leave to cool in the pan on a wire rack.

To make the ganache, melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl in a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. In a saucepan, bring the glucose and cream to just below boiling point, then remove from heat, pour over the chocolate mixture and stir until combined. Chill for 30 minutes until thick. Spread the ganache over the cake and decorate.

Now, how you decorate the cake is up to you. While the those little silver cachous are pretty, they’re a chipped tooth waiting to happen. Stick to edible gold or silver leaf, or for a more modern touch, caramel popcorn.

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Mug lovin’

I have many vices.

I’ve come home from dinner with friends on one too many occasions feeling quite ill. Not because there was something wrong with the food, quite the opposite. I come home sick because I ate ALL THE THINGS. That little voice that tells you that you’ve had enough to eat? I don’t have one.

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Of course, this wouldn’t be an issue if I was into salads. I’m not though; my poison is dessert. Panna cotta, mousse, ice cream or gelato, cake or tarts; there’s nothing I don’t love.

So what do you do when you’ve got an insatiable cake craving at 9pm? Sure, you could make a whole cake, but there’s very little chance I wouldn’t eat the whole cake. Plus, there’s no telling my cravings that they have to be patient, because making a whole cake takes an hour.

Enter Mug Cake. Your prayers have been answered; single serve cake in a commercial break!

There are a million recipes for mug cake on the internet, however this one is my favourite. It doesn’t taste eggy, and the consistency is pretty excellent. This recipe serves one, so you can double it where necessary, should you need to share (or just be really hungry. I won’t judge you). Success!

 

2 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

From I am a food blog

1 egg
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
3 tbsp flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp chocolate chips
Small splash of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, icing sugar (optional)

Combine the egg, oil and milk together in your mug. Stir in the dry ingredients until well combined. Add the vanilla and chocolate chips, and give a quick stir.

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Place the mug on a plate as it’s likely to rise a lot, and may spill over – easy cleaning! Whack in the microwave for 2 minutes.

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Leave to cool for a couple of minutes, then serve with a dusting of icing sugar, or like me, with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.

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Love and other drugs

Here’s the thing. I absolutely understand why people aren’t into Valentine’s Day. I do. There’s pressure and expectation, and everything is expensive and I hate roses.

Going out for dinner is insane. I saw an ad for a restaurant in the city that was charging $90 a head, with a shared set entree and dessert, a main course. Not even a glass of wine. I’m sorry, you’re going to charge me $90 and I don’t even get to choose my own dessert?! Bollocks to that.

If I’m honest though, I’m a complete and utter hopeless romantic. I like the idea of celebrating love. Yes, you should do it every day, but we don’t. Life kind of gets in the way of that. So it’s nice to have a day where you go to the special effort of taking care of your loved one.

For those of you who remain footloose and fancy free, fear not. There’s Galentine’s Day. An invention of my spirit animal, Leslie Knope, you can celebrate the most important person in your life (being you, duh) with breakfast food, which, let’s be honest, is the best kind of food. Except for this cake, of course.

You can get all aphrodisiac like on V-Day, of course. But cut to the chase, no one hates chocolate, and everyone loves cake. This, I believe, is the ultimate chocolate cake. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but it is incredible.

Chocolate truffle cake with chestnut cream and ganache

From Delicious Magazine

2 cups (500ml) milk
250g unsalted butter, chopped
300g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
300ml thickened cream
3 eggs
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1 3/4 cups (385g) caster sugar
2 3/4 cups (410g) plain flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder

Chestnut cream
50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
300g unsweetened chestnut puree
75g softened unsalted butter, chopped
1 1/3 cups (200g) pure icing sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease and line two cake tins.

In a saucepan over medium low heat, stir together the milk, 225g butter, 200g chocolate and 125ml cream, until the chocolate melts and is combines. Leave to cool.

Beat together the eggs, vanilla and sugar in a large bowl with electric beaters until the mixture is thick and pale.

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Mix in the chocolate mixture, then add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

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Evenly divide the batter between cake tins and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then on a wire rack.

To make the chestnut cream, melt 50g of chocolate gently in the microwave or in a pan over simmering water. Remover from the heat and leave to cool slightly. In a medium bowl, beat the chestnut cream until creamy, the add the butter and icing sugar, and beat again until light and fluffy. Fold in the melted chocolate.

To make the ganache, place the 175ml of cream in a saucepan over low heat. Bring it to an almost-boil, then pour over the last 100g chocolate, and leave to melt. Add the last 25g of butter, stirring until combined and glossy. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, so it thickens a little bit.

Spread the chestnut cream over one of the cakes, leaving a little border to allow for smooshing. Place the second cake on top, then pour the ganache over the top, allowing it to artfully run down the sides. It’s rustic. go with it.

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P.S. Chestnut puree can be found at Fresh Provisions, some IGAs, and the David Jones food court in the CBD (which is where I bought mine – admittedly, it was sweetened, but still awesome).