Friday, December 7, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Tonight I am going to watch Christmas movies! I have waited long enough, but tonight is definitely the night for me to bust out my favourite Christmas DVD and snuggle up on the couch with some wine. I'll get the toddler off to sleep and then it's all about me ;-). I can say that now, it's only just past 9am. Give me the full day at work as well as an evening of an over tired toddler and my story might change, but right now I'll revel in the thoughts of cheesy Christmas and some alcoholic grapes in liquid form.

To further accentuate the Christmas cheer, I have made some Christmas cookies for the office. A crisp sugar cookie with a subtle mint flavour. ENJOY!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Crumbling over cupcakes

I ask you, what do you like doing on the weekend? Do you like hanging out with friends? Having a beer? Chilling out? I'm going to assume you answered yes to all those questions, because if you didn't, I'm sorry but we can't be friends. The best we'll be is somewhat acquaintances who nod politely at each other when we meet in public.

So, why do I bring this up? No, I'm not culling my Facebook friends (not before Christmas anyway, are you mad!!). I'm just testing the waters to find out if these cupcakes are for you. They are pretty special, so you'd want to share them with some pretty cool friends. They are great with a beer on a hot afternoon. And they are also great to use as a hearty farewell! These cupcakes were made especially for my friend who was moving jobs - bigger and better things. They are everything a good cupcake should be - moist with layers of flavour, topped smooth frosting and a delightful crunch. ENJOY!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday morning in the kitchen

I generally do my grocery shopping on the weekend (possibly the best opening line for a blog post  FYI - who wouldn't want to continue reading when I've opened with such a cracking sentence?). Because of this, I have usually ran out of bread and anything exciting for breakfast by Saturday (awesome - following sentence was just as strong, let's just get through this and see where it goes). 

So when my 3 year old yells out to me at 5am saying he's hungry, I picture the contents of my fridge and realise, I either have to get up and make something or let him starve. And let me say, the starving would never happen as he would constantly be in my room whinging "Mummy, I'm hungry", "Mummy, my tummy is crumbling" (yep, yesterday he said crumbling instead of rumbling, cute. He also saw a tweety bird balloon and said "Mummy, who is that chicken guy", made me laugh! - but I disgress). On these mornings, I get myself into some kind of semi-conscience state and make something easy but suitably tasty. 

Below are some recipes for just these kind of mornings. Please feel free to suggest others, as I am running low on brain energy before 6am (and coffee)...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Stanthorpe's sweetest for a Friday

If I was to imagine my favourite holiday, it would be somewhere cool so I could rug up and possible have a fire going in the evening. Somewhere with delicious food and plenty of wine. And somewhere I feel like I can learn something and experience the diversity and excitement of the area. Last weekend I got to do just that!

For those not familiar with the Granite Belt, do yourself a favour and get acquainted! It is a sumptuous region in south east Queensland where the temperature is just right to grow and produce grapes for wine (especially red wine, my favourite) and an amazing variety of fresh produce. Last week I was spoilt to a few days away in Stanthorpe. Living so close to the Granite Belt and all the fresh, amazing food it offers, I wonder why I don't go more often (it's only 2.5hrs from Brisbane). I was really taken by all the fresh food, but even more so the almost unlimited number of wineries and cellar doors. It really is my heaven! Funnily, I bought more port than I did wine, however I did sample a lot of wine.

This post is dedicated to my weekend away and features some of the lovely things I bought.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rainbow cake makes everything better

As I have mentioned (in almost every post), I have a little boy. He's three and a half and in my eyes, one of the most beautiful things on earth - however, I might be bias. This could come as a surprise to some readers, however I have been accused of mothering him a little too much, possibly over protecting him. But I ask you, is it coddling to swoop in and SAVE him from harm's way? Even if that incident is tiny? Maybe... He is an only child, so of course he will always be my baby. I joke about how much I am going to be one of those annoying Mum's where no girl is ever good enough for her angle son - I'm hoping that's a joke, only time will tell.

Anyway, over the weekend my protection instincts went into over drive. He had a sleep over at Grandma and Popops and hit his head about 30 minutes before I picked him up. I won't go into detail about what happened, as this is a baking blog and my detailed description could gross some readers out, however I did take him to the emergency room and they glued his wound back together. Seeing my baby boy like that, even though he was exceptionally brave, made me feel all kinds of guilt and I just wanted to hold and cuddle him for the rest of the day. We decided to do some special baking, so Reuben picked a cake and some decorations and got to it. Of course he choose a chocolate mudcake! A rich, thick, chocolatey cake - but what's better to cure a sore head?

So this cake is for my little boy, who was the bravest little man yesterday and now possibly has a little scar on his forehead which resembles Harry Potter.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

OMG Rockie Road Brownies

If you don't like rockie road I think you need to get off your computer, go find some good rockie road (not the crappy powdered chocolate with awful sugary "turkish delight" jelly and hard marshmallow), eat it and instantly change your mind. Trust me, your life will be better - your hair will smell sweet, your eyes will sparkle, your boss will tell you what an amazing job you're doing (possibly give you a raise), your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse will for no reason start rubbing your shoulders, your children (or the neighbour's children) will go to bed early and sleep through the whole night without waking you up... see, better life.

So, with the amazing flavours of a good rockie road now causing you to salivate uncontrollably, I want you to further this intensity and start thinking of brownies. Gooey, rich, chocoloaty brownies. Now, call me crazy, but what if we combined these two amazing delights!!!!!!! If that was too much for you, I request that you take a moment before reading the below recipe, it will blow your socks off with deliciousness and divine taste sensations!

Something to look forward to when you eat these is how the marshmallow melts throughout the brownie when it is being cooked. If any marshmallow was lucky enough to be near the top, it partly explodes and creates a chewy, sweet sensation on top. The marshmallow throughout the brownie develops as little sweet sections of loveliness, mixed in with the crunch of the pecans and then the surprise of the dates. I don't think I need to encourage you any further, just make these for someone special (and that someone special can be YOU).

Monday, October 15, 2012

Muffins, stick bread and birthday cake

Some weekends I am so busy I barely have time to prepare dinner, other weekends I seem to spend all my time covered in flour and popping things in and out of the oven. This weekend was the latter.

Friday evening I made a light dinner of coconut prawns with a crunchy salad and afterwards felt like something sweet, so threw together a coconut cake. Then Saturday morning my breakfast plans changed at the last minute (by changed I mean I read the text message wrong and was a week early), so went home and made some lovely pumpkin, blue cheese and candied walnut muffins for my friend, who I was due to spend the rest of the day with. Saturday night I was treated to some outback delights with damper cooked camping-style over an outdoor fire. I've never been a camper but really enjoyed sitting in the backyard, drinking Shiraz and eating freshly cooked (occasionally burnt) damper covered in golden syrup. Sunday I had another friend come over. It was her birthday the weekend before so wanted to treat her with something tasty and made a Caramel Mudcake, the recipe I got from a cookbook I got "free" when donating $2 at the checkout of my supermarket.

Even though I seemed to have the oven running half the weekend, I feel really refreshed and happy with my baking efforts. I even squeezed in a trip to the supermarket where I stocked up on heaps of fruit and vegies for the week, and went to a local kite festival with my three year old boy. Now it's time to kick off another week at work... and maybe another week of baking!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Step into Spring cupcakes

I really like making cupcakes. You can create so many variations and they are super easy to eat, especially in a work environment. We had organised a little morning tea for the team at work today and so I decided to make some carrot cupcakes (same recipe as previous post, but in cupcake form) and well as another flavour to give a bit of flavour options. At the supermarket yesterday I was really excited to see blueberries on special for $3.50 a punnet. As they are usually up around $6 each, I jumped at the discounted price and bought some. 

I don't often buy blueberries. I find that if they are not in season, even just by a few weeks, it is more common to get sour or tart berries. The perfect blueberry should be a little sweet, smooth and have a lovely burst of juice as you bit it between your teeth. This is also what I wanted from my cupcakes. Using my normal vanilla cupcake recipes and only adding blueberries and some lemon rind, these were delicious! As we're coming into Spring, definitely give these a go!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Celebration cheesecake!

My friend recently got married over in Fiji and last night was the first time I saw her since she changed from a Miss to a Mrs. Something was in order to celebrate, however being a Friday I was again lacking ideas and energy/time. The last time we caught up we chatted about cheesecake. I remembered making the Nutella No-Bake Cheesecake for my brother and his girlfriend a while ago and it was super fast and easy. On my way home I picked up the few ingredients I needed and went home to prepare. As I started making it though, I decided I wanted something different and suddenly craved caramel. So switched ideas and started making a caramel sauce. Before long dessert was ready and in the fridge to set. 

Dinner was a middle eastern inspired vegetable and chickpea stuffed eggplant (with some champers to celebrate). After dinner we busted out the wedding photos, all 800+ of them. It was so lovely seeing their day through the photos and the excitement and love they shared for each other. With so many pictures, we decided to stop half way for dessert. It was so creamy and smooth, and the caramel made it super rich. I found it hard to finish mine, however it was the perfect sugar kick to continue looking through the rest of the photos and amazing stories from their time away.

This is such an easy dessert, I think anyone could master it (even you Ms Borgna...). I think next time i make it I'll try a fruity flavour, maybe a mango or passionfruit. ENJOY.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sometimes you just need cake

I try to be good. I try not to eat too many sweets. I try to ignore the lolly jar at work. But sometimes it's just too hard and you just need to let go and enjoy yourself. Last night I made a "healthy" pasta dish and afterwards was feeling like I still needed something. I went through a pantry and fridge check list in my head and realised i had everything I needed to whip up a carrot cake - even cream cheese for the icing. So, I popped into the kitchen and before I could say "what's up doc" I had a cake in the oven. The cake was ready 20 minutes later (I split the batter into two tins to make it cook faster, and also allowed me to have a layer cake = double the deliciousness!!) and after leaving it too cool for another 15/20 minutes, it was iced and ready to eat. As I'm generally baking for other people, it's rare I eat cakes so soon after coming out of the oven. Last night's treat was still warm however cool enough for the cream cheese icing to stay firm. It was also so soft and delicate. So so good! And worked perfectly in lunches today (which is Friday, always a day where a sugary treat is needed).

Monday, September 24, 2012

When in doubt, make brownies

Last week was a big week. Really busy at work, sick child and I was feeling sick as well. At the beginning of the week I'd organised a dinner at my place for Friday. I was looking forward to it, however once Friday came around the thought of cooking dinner made me feel exhausted. So, we opted for some really nice Thai takeaway. However, I couldn't have people over for dinner and not make them some kind of dessert. A few weekends ago I bought 2 new cook books, which I have had my eye on for ages. They were Desserts from the famous Loveless Cafe and SprinkleBakes. I hadn't had a chance to try any recipes from them, so I flipped through the Loveless Cafe cookbook pages for something that would match my energy levels (aka something simple). I came across the Peanut Butter Brownies and knew I was on a winner. The brownies were moist and rich and had a wonderful salty peanut flavour marbled through it. I would have liked the peanut flavour to be stronger, but a day later the flavours had matured and tasted so much better - so if you can, bake a day in advance. ENJOY.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sweet treat for breakfast

I've always been told that the most important meal for the day is breakfast, something to give you a good kick-start in the morning and get your body working. When I was a teenager and really conscience about my weight, I used to try and skip breakfast, but my Dad cottoned onto this pretty quick so would pretend to read the paper while I ate breakfast, but really he was watching me eat and making sure I was being healthy (couldn't get one past him).

Now I'm an adult, I'm still pretty irresponsible when it comes to breakfast. It's not a weight thing anymore, I just prefer to have a coffee in the morning, which generally gets me through to lunch time. Although, I do LOVE going out for breakfast - I'm a complicated person :-).

Anyway, last week I saw this amazing looking breakfast bake via Pinterest and I really wanted to make it for the girls (and the few boys) in my office. I bought all the ingredients over the weekend but until this morning, when my toddler dragged me out of bed at 5.25am with the line "Mummy, I need to do wee wee", I didn't really have the time to make it. So, with my early rise this morning, here is a mid-week sweet breakfast for my hard working teammates! Enjoy.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Another weekend, another trip to the markets! And once again strawberries were the item to buy in bulk, which of course I did. So, with another weekend with a fridge full of strawberries, I contemplated what to make with them. I could possibly make some strawberry and banana smoothies, or maybe a strawberry mousse cake, or even the classic strawberry shortcake. However, with no visitors planned for the week, I thought I should try something a bit simple. I instantly thought of biscuits with a buttercream filling. So with that, the task was set.

I wanted to make a chewy, golden biscuit, something similar to an Anzac, however I wanted honey to be the stand-out flavour. I played around with a few ideas and settled on a mix between an Anzac and an oat biscuit. After my buttercream success last week, I decided to go with this new method and finish it off by adding a strawberry puree. The result was a fluffy and smooth cream with the sweetness of the strawberries an absolute hero. I can see these being a delightful addition to the next high tea I bake for! ENJOY.

Friday, September 7, 2012

German stylin' for a Friday

This week at work we wrapped up the Hamburg Season, which consisted of a collection of performances by the Hamburg Opera, Orchestra and Ballet. The team have been working on this project for about 8 months and put their blood, sweat and many tears into it. As I lead a different project earlier in the year, I didn't have much to do on Hamburg, so felt it was my duty to offer them some praise in the form of cake!

I did a quick Google for Greman cakes and found one, which use to be a bakery favourite of mine that I never knew had it's origins from Germany, and also found a few recipes for the classic Black Forest Cake. I decided the team deserved both cakes, so I made both in my own style.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Welcome Spring!

Winter is over and Spring has sprung. The weather has been perfect, making it feel like the colder months are over and we have blue skies and sunshine ahead of us. To celebrate the start of Spring, I bought 4 big punnets of strawberries (they had a special of 2 for $3!!!) from the markets. With so many strawberries, I decided to share the Spring love and give one punnet away, then I planned on using the others for some baking and weekday lunches.

When I think of strawberries, I immediately match them with cream. Strawberries and cream is such a classic dessert, everyone has something they associate with strawberries and cream. For me, it would have to be going to a school art fair with my Mum. I remember nothing about the art fair, or what else was actually there, but I do remember Mum buying us a cup of strawberries and cream each for morning tea and sitting in the sun to eat it. I think I was only 12 at the time and this was the first time I had enjoyed strawberries and cream just like this. It felt like Mum and I were doing something special together, just the two of us, without Dad or my siblings. The memory is sweet and innocent, just like the dessert.

So, with that in mind, I wanted to use my strawberries to make something that represented that memory. While the toddler was resting on Sunday (supposed to be resting anyway, he skipped his nap and decided to "play", aka trash his room), I researched strawberry recipes. I stumbled across this great looking strawberry cake via Pinterest. It had a deliciously pink colour and a new way to make a french meringue buttercream - I had to try it.

So, with strawberries ready and beater out, Reuben and I started baking post "rest". The cake itself was super easy to make and the buttercream turned out perfectly - I am definitely changing methods to this one from now one! There was heaps of batter so I made a bundt style cake as well as 6 cupcakes. Next time I think I'll split the batter to make a layer cake and add some strawberry jam in the centre. Enjoy.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Empty the fridge baking

It's the end of the week and I have a few bits and bobs left in my fridge that I'd prefer to use than throw away. One of these items is 3/4 of a bag of beetroot bulbs. I've seen a few recipes where beetroots have been added to baking to make something sweet, but never tried it. Last year my friend at work made me a chocolate beetroot cake for my birthday and it was delicious - so moist and rich. However, being the end of the week, I had minimal butter, no eggs and no chocolate left... so what to do with the beetroots I just roasted (besides making a salad, which I will have for dinner tonight!!). I did a little search online and found a few recipes for beetroot biscuits. I decided to play with this idea and made some end-of-the-week-fridge-clean-out cookies! They were surprisingly nice, not the most delicious biscuit I've ever made/eaten, but worth a try. They are crumbly and have a nice chocolate hit followed by the sweetness of the beetroot. ENJOY.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Who needs a reason to bake?

There are many reasons to bake - birthdays, celebrations, dinner parties... however my reason for baking last night was because I bought a new tin! I have been wanting to buy a bundt tin for ages and finally did over the weekend. I also had some passionfruits and a lemon which looked like they were in desperate need of being used, so that was another reason. Actually, I don't need a reason to bake, I just do it because I love it!

This is a delicious cake to share for morning tea or with coffee. It is moist yet crumbles between the fingers. The flavour is subtle with the butter coming through nicely, however if you'd like a stronger passionfruit flavour, add an extra passionfruit or two. The coconut adds a final tropical flavour and texture to the cake. So yummy! ENJOY.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

So Frenchy, so chic

Last night I had my brother and his girlfriend came over for dinner. I use them as an excuse to make something special and generally try something new. Last night, for no particular reason, I decided to go French. I think the direction actually came from the desire to have seafood. I'm not overly confident with cooking seafood as I haven't done it much before, but I found a recipe for a french style seafood soup and thought it looked pretty easy. So, for dinner I made Seafood Bouillabaisse w/ a Capsicum Rouille. The Bouillabaisse was eaten too fast to even get a picture, however I can describe it - a deliciously warming soup with lovely chunks of seafood, a small kick from the rouille and some crunch from the crusty bread (also perfect lapping up the remaining flavours).

Dessert was chocolate cake. This recipe is from a basic French cooking book I've had for year. It is so easy and has minimal ingredients. It's also gluten free, so I like to think that means it's a healthy cake. To make it even more healthy, I wanted to add blueberries, which I had bought yesterday morning from the markets. The cake is so fudgy and rich though, I didn't want to make it too complex by adding the berries to the actual cake, so instead made a creamy topping, which helped balance the richness of the chocolate.

Needless to say, dinner was a hit. Peter and Nadia brought two amazing bottles of wine and as always, we had a great catch-up. Thanks guys and hope you enjoy the left over cake I made you take home.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dedicated to Ms Banoffee

Tomorrow is my friend Lisa's last day at work. I've mentioned her before, she's the one we through a baby shower for a week or so ago. Kinda obvious why she's leaving us... This post is dedicated to her.

I started at my current job at QPAC almost 4 years ago. I had wanted to work at QPAC for a long time and was so excited to finally get my foot in the door. Behind my excitement was that awkward feeling you always get when starting a new job and the over-hanging question "was changing jobs the right decision?". On my first day I met everyone in the team and they were all nice. Then I met Lisa and her warmth and instant friendship made me feel right at home. I was suppose to sit with her for about half an hour so she could explain what she does and show me a few things I'd be doing. Suddenly about 2 hours had flown by and we had barely touched on either of our roles. This kind of behaviour continued over the years. She sat separately from our team so I was to act as the bridge between her role and our team. We took this as permission to get a hot chocolate a few times a week and just chat - don't worry, we always took some spreadsheets in case we needed to talk about work. We'd get lost in conversation and completely loose track of time - this pretty much sums up our friendship. She is someone who is instantly accepting and backs me up 100%. I am really sad to see her leaving our team, but over the past 4 years I've developed a really strong friendship with Lisa and am excited that we've manage to be friends at and outside of work (and will continue to be). She's supported me through some really tough periods in my life and is always there when I need that little bit of extra help. I am now looking forward to supporting her and her hubby around the birth of their first baby (if they want me there or not haha). 

So, to send Lisa off properly I have created my own style of her favourite dessert - Banoffee Pie. My version is in a portable and easy to eat form of a cupcake. Enjoy!

The team eating some cake: Kate, Leisa, Dave and Lisa

Monday, August 20, 2012

Happy RSPCA cupcake day

Today is RSPCA Cupcake Day. I never had a dog growing up, and even now I don't have any pets (a toddler is enough work), but I was still excited about baking today. Yes, it's raising money for a charity, so yay to yes, but I'm more excited about being able to show off my cupcakes to the team at work and seeing what everyone else has made. 

I saw a post on raspberri cupcakes blog a while ago and really wanted to give it a go. I thought a work bake-off was the perfect occasion! I was a little concerned though that one batch of cupcakes wouldn't be enough, so I got up at 5am this morning and made a batch of double chocolate cupcakes with a sour cream ganach. The smell of chocolate that early in the morning was a bit overwhelming, also proabably aided in the tantrum my toddler through as I tried to get us out of the door in time. Oh well, it was all worth it as we rasied over $250. Happy cupcake day everyone!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A confession and chocolate

A small confession to start with - I use to work at The Cheesecake Shop. This was my first job and it was much better then working behind a counter of a greasy fast food chain. I got to decorate cakes and write messages for special occasions. Instead of smelling like chicken fat at the end of the day (like some of my friends did), I smelt like cream and sugar. This was my first introduction to baking and working with food. It was a few more years before I started my own baking and getting excited about food, but I will always remember my time there as a nice introduction.

The reason I bring this up, is I got to try many different flavours and types of cake while working at the Cheesecake Shop. I have never been much of a nut fan, so I always surprised myself when I tried the pecan pie and then want more and more. The gooey filling with the crunch of the pecans lured me in and was even more amazing when heated up in the microwave for a bit. I haven't worked at the Cheesecake Shop for about 7 years, and since then rarely gone in and had their cakes. A few weeks ago I was given a slice of caramel pecan pie (not from the Cheesecake Shop) and the memories of eating pecan pie and all the cakey goodness came back to me. I decided to make my own pie, which of course meant adding chocolate. So here it is, my homage to my days at The Cheesecake Shop and Pecan Pie!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A burst of summer in winter

Today was cold! Cold for Brisbane anyway. Apparently it was 3 below average this morning. It is definitely Ekka time (always cold and everyone's sick). This morning at the train station I shivered while standing in what must be the coldest platform in Brisbane. I am not really a Summer girl, but I was keen on anything to warm my bones, even a touch of Summer. Luckily last night I did some baking with some classic summery flavours. If I can't be warm, at least I can eat something that reminds me of warmth. A hot cup of tea and one of these for morning tea has made my morning. ENJOY!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Here's to the Mummy to be!

My dear friend Lisa is about to have a baby. A few months ago in a flurry of excitement, another friend from work and I decided we NEEDED to throw her a baby shower (as she was avoiding having one at all). How could she miss having a heap of people around telling her awful birth stories, or playing games that would make a non-pregnant person churn, or stressing over whether people will turn up... doesn't sound all that awesome now I think about it, although it was!

We were a little slack in organising, however pulled it all at the last minute. We had many grand plans with the styling and decorating, but in the end decided simple was best. I also had a disaster day in the kitchen. The food I have baked perfectly a thousand times before stuffed up and the food I usually have trouble with was amazing. I even made two batches of sugar cookies, both for some reason came out of the oven crystalised (any tips onto why would be great). I ended up making two batches of cupcakes (not all successful), caramel tarts, custard tarts, sandwiches, avocado and tomato bites, and roast pumpkin and onion jam tarts.

Lisa was a beautiful Mummy-to-be and we had a wonderful morning. I can't wait to meet the little man! Counting down the weeks.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lazy weekends call for baking

I love lazy weekends. I don't get them often as I have a toddler who is so full of energy I sometimes wonder if I'm feeding him crazy pills! On the few weekends I can get him to have a midday nap, I either take advanatge of the quite time and also take a nap or or flip through a variety of cookbooks to dream up my next baked treat.

The weekend just passed, I decided to bake instead of sleep. It rained all week, so something sweet was definitely in order. I had a few bananas left over from lunches so thought I'd do something with those and mix it with either chocolate or caramel. I started flipping through some books I'd borrowed from the library as well as searching some of my favourite recipe sites and found a recipe for a Banana Caramel Cake - so caramel won over chocolate!

The original recipe called for sliced bananas on top of a caramel cake, however I'm not really a fan of the texture of baked bananas so I went with a more traditional style banana cake and incorporated the caramel sauce. While baking this cake the house filled with a glorious fragrant of sugar, bananas and warmth (yes, that is a smell!). Then once it came out of the oven, I realised this is the perfect afternoon tea/dessert cake!

There are a few treats you can make that work as a sweet afternoon tea cake or a decadent dessert cake. This cake serves both purposes. At room temperature it is a moist banana cake with a sweet caramel topping. Heated up slightly and served with fresh cream for dessert, it is a sticky, rich cake that smells divine! ENJOY!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Something golden to brighten up a rainy day off

The last two weeks in Brisbane have been amazing. The weather has been perfect - sun shining bright and clouds no where to be seen. The temperature's been a bit on the cold side (for Brisbane), but the warm sun during the day has made being outside bliss. With the weather so lovely, I decided it was a great time to finally take some days off and relax. I really should have taken time off last week, as this week has been overcast and wet! I need to make the best out of the situation, so I invited my friend over for a play date with her two gorgeous girls. And when I invite guests over, I bake. With the weather not clearing, I thought something sweet and warming would hit the spot. I found the below recipe and knew I had to try it. The buns were delicious fresh from the oven and not too sweet (will use more golden syrup next time). Definitely worth a try next time you have friends over!

Monday, July 9, 2012

So Frenchy, so apply

I generally like to bake something simple for my toddler to take for lunch during the week, a little lunchbox treat. I will sometime make some cookies or a little apple or butter cake, then cut into easy pieces and freeze for easy use when making lunches in the morning. I was doing some blog research over the weekend and found a recipe for a French Apple Cake. It looked so delicious that I had to try it. The original recipe called for rum, however I didn't have any in the cupboard, but always have some brandy left over from Xmas baking (so this won't really be a lunchbox treat for Reuben, but Mummy needs treats as well). The original recipe also called for plain flour and baking powder instead of self raising flour. I have run out of baking powder, so went with the self raising. My cake turned out flatter than the one in the recipe, so think next time I will have to do it properly, will also try with rum.

Whatever the ingredients, this was the perfect after lunch treat for myself and the toddler. Enjoy.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Using lemons to say thanks

For the past 6 months I have been working on a massive project at work that has pretty much consumed me. It was challenging but so much fun and a fantastic experience. Leading this project meant that I received most of the praise when things went right (and alternatively, most of the criticism when they didn't). 

I wanted to thank the other people in my team who put in just as many hours (possibly even more) and also offered their heart and soul to the project. I thought the best way for me to say thanks was with a cake! I don't make many fruity cakes, but with so many beautiful citrus fruits in season, I thought this would be perfect. Also, the person I'd like to dedicated this cake to (our wonderful graphic designer, who in my opinion saved our ass many times over with her skill and speed) is very healthy, so this cake is probably better suited to her than a crazy chocolate cake. ENJOY.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rhubarb Rhubarb Rhubarb

My brother and his girlfriend returned from four weeks overseas today. I was really excited to see them and hear the stories of their amazing adventure. Dad forwarded me an email about a week ago from my brother in Portugal informing them of their arrival home, not to worry about picking them up from the airport and that we'll all have dinner the night of their return. He then threw in a cheeky, "and looking forward to one of Cathy's desserts - can you tell her to bake" hahaha. Thanks bro ;-).

Because I was so excited about them being back, I couldn't decide on what to bake. Do I do something topical and make something from one of the cities on their travels (aka France, Spain, Portugal and London)? Or do I make something seasonal to remind them of home? Or do I do my signature over-the-top and chocolate? 

To help with this decision, I went to the markets yesterday morning. We had a great time picking all the fresh fruit and veg and going through the rows of gourmet treats. I found a bunch of rhubarb and thought a nice crumble would warms their bones, so decided on that. 

At home that night, I scrolled online and went through multiple cookbooks to find the perfect rhubarb recipe. I found some pretty exciting posts, however went with a recipe from Maggie Beer's book. I adore Maggie Beer and thought this recipe would be perfect, especially since they bought me the book on their last trip to the Barossa - fitting. ENJOY (we did!!).