Quick Guava Tea Cake Recipe

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“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

Henry James

 

Afternoon tea is a popular time in our household. In fact, it usually attracts visitors hopeful of a cuppa, a chat, and a small slice of something tasty.

I love this tea cake recipe. You can whip it up in under ten minutes (plus baking time), and it makes a moist cake that goes well with a robust cup of tea or an afternoon coffee.

Tea cake was one of my Nana’s favourites. Traditionally it is topped with apple, but it seemed the perfect way to use up some of my bumper guava crop! The guava topping is fragrant, sweet and slightly exotic.

Paired with a hearty cup of Irish Breakfast Tea it truly is a little piece of heaven on a plate.

Cake Ingredients:

65g x (5 tablespoons) softened butter, 2 x teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 x egg, 1/2 x cup sugar, 1 x cup self raising (self-rising for my USA friends or 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 and 1/2 x teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt, sifted together), 1/3 cup plain yogurt, 1 x 20cm round cake tin, paper lined.

Guava Topping:

2 cups of sliced fresh guava, plus the sieved pulp from the fruit’s centre, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, zest of half a lemon, 1/3 cup of sugar

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Method:

Preheat oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Wash the guavas and remove the tips of both ends. Halve and scoop out the seedy centre.

Press the centres through a sieve. Discard seeds. This should yield about half a cup of pulp.

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Slice the guava flesh and place the flesh, the pulp, the lemon juice, zest and sugar in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat for two or three minutes until the fruit is soft and fragrant. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

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Place butter, sugar, egg and vanilla in bowl and beat until thick and creamy (about 2 minutes).

Fold through the yoghurt and flour until combined, and then spread the batter into your paper-lined baking tin.

Spoon about a cup of the gauva compote over the top of the batter.

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Cook for thirty minutes.  Check your cake by poking  a skewer into the centre. If it comes out clean it is ready. Leave in a little longer if batter still clings to skewer.

Serve warm with cream or ice-cream and the remainder of the guava compote. I apologise that this is the only picture I have of the cake being served but it got eaten before I could get a better one!

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The cake can also be enjoyed served cold, sliced and spread with butter. It is best eaten on the day it is made, but kept covered or in an airtight tin will last for three days. It freezes well too.

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Quick Apple and Blueberry Tart

fresh apple and blackberry tart

“Cut my pie into four pieces, I don’t think I could eat eight.”
~ Yogi Berra

This simple berry and apple tart is quick to make and tastes fruity and delicious. I use variations of this recipe all the time to whip up a speedy afternoon tea or dinner-time treat. Shop-bought pastry means all you need to do is a little chopping and mixing and then pop the tart into the oven. Five minutes preparation, 30 minutes cooking and you’re done.

Both the apples and blueberries were grown locally. The lemon is from the Meyer Lemon tree in my backyard.

Here’s the farmer whose family grew these delectable blueberries. His name is Otto Saeck and you can find out more about their farm here: Blueberry Fields

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Maybe when you’re next visiting the Byron Shire you could call in at one of our fabulous Farmers’ Markets and buy some of Otto’s blueberries to take home. (If they get that far!)

Anyway, back to tart baking…

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 sheets of frozen ready-rolled shortcrust pastry (or your own favourite pastry recipe), 2 cups of fresh blueberries (frozen are fine too), 2 cooking apples, 1/2 cup of sugar, zest and juice of one lemon, one heaped tablespoon of cornflour (cornstarch), 1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon, teaspoon of milk, a little extra sugar.

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Method:

Preheat your oven to moderate heat (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Find a suitable tin to bake your tart. I used a 36cm x 12 cm (14 inch x 5 inch) non-stick rectangular quiche tin with removable base, but you could use any small spring form or quiche dish. A removable base makes removing the tart easier, but it will still work in a conventional pie tin. Just grease it well!

*Hint – If you’re in a hurry you can use a pre-baked sweet pastry case.

2014-01-30 15.54.02Now take your partially defrosted pastry. Don’t let it get too warm or it becomes difficult to handle. Lay the pastry into the tin pressing an overlap of about a centimetre (half inch) at any joins. If you are using a conventional pie dish grease it lightly first to prevent the pastry sticking.

Use a sharp knife to trim away any overhanging pastry, and neaten the edges with your fingers. Reserve the pastry scraps for later. And be okay about your tart looking a little rustic. I promise it will still taste awesome.

Return the pie crust to the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Peel and core your apples and cut them into small pieces. Combine with the washed blueberries, lemon juice and zest, cinnamon, sugar and cornflour and stir well.

2014-01-30 15.59.52Dump the fruit into your tart case.

Now to pretty things up… Take the remaining scraps of pastry, cut into lengths and roll some thin dough sausages between your hands. Lay them diagonally across the tart, and then go back in the other direction. Feel free to make or cut out any other pastry shapes from the leftover scraps and use them to further decorate your tart. As you can see, I made a quite dodgy-looking flower. Did I say RUSTIC? Yes I did!!!

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Dip your finger in a little bit of milk and rub it over the pastry. Sprinkle sugar on your decorations. Then place into hot oven and bake for 30 minutes.

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Serve warm or cold. It goes smashingly well with fresh cream or ice-cream too. :)

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Mango and Fig Meringue Nests Recipe

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“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.” ~ Mother Teresa

This is a VERY easy dessert. Just a little chopping and stirring, but the results are pleasing and the flavours elevate it to a whole other level.

There is usually a packet of little meringue nests in my pantry. It’s amazing how many yummy desserts you can whip up with them in a culinary emergency, like yesterday…

I had a wretched Valentine’s Day on my last day of this round of horror Lyme drugs and spent most of the day in bed, but with the help of a friend I still managed to make dessert for what ended up being a ‘romantic’ backyard candle-lit dinner: just me, Ben, our neighbour Sheryl who’d come to help Ben with some farm work, our three dogs, and all the cows who came and stuck their heads over the fence.

Apparently if you light candles and put a flower behind your ear it’s classed as ‘romantic’. If only I’d known that years ago…

And the moo-ing cows really added to the elegant atmosphere. As you can see from the picture below we all got very dressed up!

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Anyway, dessert! We were gifted a few juicy mangoes from a neighbour, and I had two fresh figs and a couple of passionfruit from our own farm. Add  a little white chocolate, and a honey and cardamom infused cream and suddenly we have dessert magic.

Ingredients:

4 pre-prepared meringue nests, 1 large ripe mango (or 2 small), 2 passionfruit, 1 large or 2 small ripe figs, 1/4 cup chopped white chocolate, 150ml thickened cream, 1 teaspoon sweet sherry or vermouth, 1 scant teaspoon cardamon powder, 1 dessertspoon of honey

Method:

Chop the mango flesh and fresh figs and place in a bowl. Stir through the passionfruit pulp and then add the white chocolate chunks.

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Pu the cream, cardamom, sherry and honey in a small bowl and whisk together. (You could beat it until whipped and thick, but really, that’s a whole lot of unnecessary effort.)

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To serve, place the meringue nests on a plate and spoon in the fruit topping. Drizzle some of the honey cream over the top. Garnish with a sprig of mint if you so desire.

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In honour of Valentine’s Day we also made some naff little hearts from chocolate and strawberry fondant icing pens to adorn our plates too – that’s how fancy we are! :)  I swear this entire dessert took less than five minutes to make and assemble.

As we sat in the backyard eating dinner (food!!!) Bert was his usual devoted self. What a wonderful dog.2014-02-14 19.13.10 HDR

And Harry was fixated on my every mouthful me just because he loves me! Luckily they both had a Valentine’s Bone to munch on too.2014-02-14 19.16.40 HDRI’m so glad I made the effort to get out of bed for a few hours. Happiness is sharing time and food with the people (and dogs, and cows…) that you love.

Lots of love to you too, Nicole xx

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Blueberry Pancake Recipe

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“I like pancakes. They’re a kind of dessert for breakfast. What can be better than that?” ~ Nicole Cody

We have a houseful of friends staying at the farm right now, giving Ben a hand with some clearing and fencing. And man, these fellas can eat!!!

A girlfriend from the farm up the road dropped in an enormous bucket of blueberries a few days ago, so they were just perfect for a little breakfast innovation. On this current round of meds I’m still not up to cooking much, but pancakes? Hey, all I have to do is make the batter and the boys can fry them up themselves! Pancakes are tasty, filling and as Nana would say ‘economical’.

If you don’t have fresh blueberries feel free to use your favourite seasonal fruit, or some frozen berries.

If you make small pancakes they are also good as lunchbox treats.

Ingredients:

1 cup milk, 1/2 cup of plain or vanilla yoghurt (or just use milk) 2 cups of self-raising flour (self-rising for my USA friends or 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 and 1/2 x teaspoons baking powder and a pinch of salt, sifted together), 1 large egg, 1/3 cup caster (superfine) sugar, 1 teaspoon grated orange zest, 1 tablespoon of melted butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 and 1/2 cups of blueberries (use frozen if you can’t get fresh)

*Note: These also work just as well with gluten-free flour mix and soy or almond milk.

Method:

Sift the flour and sugar into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.  Whisk the egg and pour into the centre of the well.  Then add the yoghurt. Using a wooden spoon gradually beat the mixture from the centre, slowly incorporating more of the dry ingredients.  Now add the milk, little by little until the mixture is combined and has a thick, creamy consistency.  Let the batter sit for ten minutes to thicken further. (You can even leave the batter overnight if you like, but do pop it in the fridge if you live in a tropical climate. If it is too thick in the morning simply add a little more milk.)

Add the blueberries, orange zest and vanilla and stir through gently.

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Heat a large frypan over low to medium heat and brush with a little melted butter. (You can also cook them on a barbeque plate!) Place spoonfuls of mixture, well spaced onto the hot surface.  When they begin to show large bubbles on the surface, turn them over and cook for another minute or two.

The pictures above and below are from a small batch I made ages ago. My brain’s not quite in gear just yet, so I didn’t even think to get pictures of my industrial sized triple batch before the men devoured them…

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The pancakes taste great served with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey, a dollop of yoghurt and some more blueberries.

And they’re so simple ANYONE can make them. :)

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PS: This time a year ago we were flooded in here at the farm, and once again we had a truckload of fresh blueberries courtesy of our neighbour. My recipe for Blueberry Crumble Slice is delicious and well worth making. Just click on the link below:

Blueberry Crumble Slice

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Baked Passionfruit and Lime Cheesecake Recipe

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“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” 
~ William Shakespeare

Birthdays deserve cake. For the past few days I’ve had my dear friend Carly staying with us here at the farm, so that we could see in the New Year together and celebrate her birthday.

I’ve not been well on this round of lyme meds, so I wanted to make a birthday cake with minimum fuss and maximum taste. When Ben brought home a massive bag of fresh passionfruit from the farmers’ markets I was inspired to bake this delicious and super easy baked cheesecake. It’s moist and not too heavy, and can so easily be made gluten-free.

Ingredients:

Crust –  250 gram packet of gingernut biscuits or your favourite sweet plain biscuit, 100 grams of melted butter. Choose a gluten-free biscuit if needed.

Cheesecake – 500 grams (2 packets) of softened cream cheese, 300g of sour cream, 2/3 cup of caster sugar (or natvia works well too), 1 teaspoon of good vanilla paste or essence, 4 eggs at room temperature, finely grated zest and juice of two limes (1 large lemon can be substituted if limes are unavailable), 1 cup of passionfruit pulp.

One 22cm (8 inch) springform tin, lined with baking paper.

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Method:

Crust – Using a food processor (or a rolling pin and a plastic bag) crush your biscuits into fine crumbs. Add melted butter and mix well together. The crumbs should hold together when you squeeze them. If the biscuits are particularly dry add a little extra melted butter.

Press crumbs firmly into the bottom of the springform tin. Use your hands, back of a spoon or a glass to press down firmly. Don’t be insane though. If you press too hard it will be difficult to cut later on.

Place into the fridge to set while you are making the cheesecake mixture.

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Cheesecake filling – It’s essential to have your cream cheese, eggs and sour cream at room temperature. This way when you mix them up the lumps will dissolve quickly and you won’t need to over-beat the mixture. If mixture is beaten too much (lots of air gets in) it will rise and brown too fast, and shrink and crack upon cooling.

* Preheat oven to 150 degrees celcius or 300 degrees fahrenheit – you want a slow oven so the cake cooks through thoroughly without burning or drying out. If you have a fan-forced oven drop this temperature to 140C or 275F.

Beat cream cheese and sugar together on low speed until soft and smooth. (if you were really keen and had a strong arm you could use a wooden spoon like my Nana did!) Add in the sour cream and vanilla and beat gently to incorporate, and then add one egg at a time, beating slightly after each.

Take 3/4 of the passionfruit pulp and press it gently through a sieve to extract the juice. Add to the cheesecake mixture and discard the seeds.

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Add the lime zest and juice plus the remaining passionfruit and fold through.

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Pour over the base. Place into oven and cook for 50 minutes, until just set.

The cheesecake should still have a slight wobble to the middle when you tap the side of the pan. If you think it is still too wobbly, cook another five minutes or so. The cheesecake will firm as it cools.

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Turn off oven and open the oven door slightly, using a wooden spoon to keep the door ajar. Cool slowly in the oven for one hour. Cooling slowly will prevent the cheesecake cracking.

Return to fridge for 6 hours or overnight.

Serve with friends!

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Also delicious served with fresh passionfruit pulp or mango slices, cream and ice-cream.

Will keep, refrigerated for up to one week. If it lasts that long…

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Easy Berry Parfait Recipe

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“Some of the sweetest berries grow among the sharpest thorns.”
~ Scottish Proverb

 

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve loved parfaits. They’re so pretty with their layers of deliciousness! What’s even better about this dessert is that it’s healthy enough to eat for breakfast, and fancy enough to be served at Christmas Dinner.

This is such an easy recipe that kids can make it. (Making parfaits is fun.) If you’re letting them help, give them a small personal glass where they can make a ‘test’ parfait to eat in advance, like a chef’s reward. :)

 

Ingredients to serve 6 or 4 BIG serves:

2 heaped cups of mixed fresh or frozen berries, 2 tablespoons of caster sugar/superfine sugar or natvia, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cornflour (corn starch), 2 cups of your favourite yoghurt, 4 tablespoons of roasted coconut chips or toasted flaked almonds.

Glasses for parfaits – the choice is yours, but make sure your spoons can reach comfortably to the bottom of the glass, or there will be tears…

Today I’ve made some breakfast parfaits in short glasses, and some dessert parfaits in martini glasses. My berry mix included strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. My yoghurt? Greek passionfruit yoghurt for a little summery zip, and a parfait made with coconut milk yoghurt for a friend who is vegan.

If you’re dairy intolerant do try the coconut yoghurt or a good soy yoghurt.

Method:

Sort through your berries and wash. (Not necessary of they are frozen.) Drain, and chop any large berries into smaller pieces if required. Tip into a saucepan with the lemon juice and sugar.

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Squash the berries down a little with a potato masher to release some of their juice.

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Heat and stir for a few minutes so that the berries have broken down a little and the sugar has been dissolved. There should still be some whole berries in your pot.

Mix the cornflour with a tablespoon or so of cold water until it is smooth and milky. Dump into saucepan with berries and stir over medium heat for another minute until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat. Mixture will thicken more as it cools.

At this stage you can put mixture in an airtight container and keep in fridge up to one week if necessary. The berry mix will taste sweet and summery. It is also divine when spooned over ice-cream or ladled into little pastry cases with a dollop of cream and a few shavings of chocolate on top.

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To assemble your parfaits:

Have your glasses ready, along with some clean spoons.

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Start with a layer of berry mixture, placing it carefully so that it doesn’t drip down the sides of the glass. It’s better to work with a little at a time than big messy spoonfuls. If you do get a smudge, wipe it off with a piece of paper towel.

Now add a layer of yoghurt, again working slowly and neatly.

Another layer of berries, and then keep layering until you get to the top of the glass.

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Finish with a few whole berries or a splodge of yoghurt with a little more of the berry mix spooned into the centre of the splodge.

If you’re not ready to serve these yet, pop them back in the fridge.

Just before serving, sprinkle your toasted coconut chips or almond flakes over the top for a delicious crunch. The texture of the soft fruit and yoghurt with the crunchy bits is wonderful. Enjoy!

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Last-Minute Christmas Cake Recipe – Quick and Easy

Quick and Easy Christmas Cake

Quick and Easy Christmas Cake

“Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.” 
~ Charles M. Schulz

 

Did Christmas sneak up on you too this year? One minute it was 2012, and now it seems a whole year has flashed by and I missed it!

Christmas Cake and Christmas Pudding is usually an elaborate ritual in our household, but this year I was too unwell, and then suddenly BANG! I’d run out of time to make my usual recipes.

This Christmas cake tastes just as good as the one that takes me a whole week to make, and the ingredients list is only a quarter of the length of my traditional one. But that doesn’t matter. No-one will know. They’ll just be impressed that you made this yourself. Santa will be happy with the slice you leave out for him (don’t forget some carrots for the reindeers – although Harry and Bert tell me reindeers adore dog treats!) and this cake makes a thoughtful gift for friends and family too.

You can also reheat slices to substitute for a traditional Christmas Pudding.

Yes – fast, versatile, simple and yummy. This recipe is a clear winner!

Ingredients:

1 kilogram mixed dried fruit; 200 grams of glace cherries or glace fruit of your choice; 250g butter – cubed; 1/4 cup of rum, sherry or brandy; 1 cup water (use a little extra water if the fruit looks quite dry; 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1 x 395g tin of condensed milk, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar; 4 additional tablespoons rum, sherry or brandy; 1 teaspoon vanilla essence or good quality paste if you have it, 2 cups of plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon mixed spice, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. 1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind. Blanched almonds and/or cherries to decorate if desired.

 

Dietary Variations

This cake is already egg free.

* alcohol-free: substitute strong tea for the alcohol

*gluten-free: simply use gluten-free flour instead of plain flour. It cooks up beautifully as a gluten-free cake but do make sure your fruit mixture is quite moist as gluten-free cakes tend to dry out more

*nut-free: omit almonds and use glace fruit to decorate cake instead.

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Method:

If you have the luxury of time, put your mixed fruit into a large bowl and pour the 1/4 cup of rum, sherry or brandy over and leave for several hours, stirring every so often.

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If time is of the essence place your mixed fruit and glace cherries into a large saucepan. Pour over the quarter cup of alcohol and soak for 30 minutes. (If you’re in a super rush, you can omit this stage.) Then add the chopped butter, water and Bicarb Soda and bring to the boil, stirring often so nothing sticks to the bottom. When it has begun to boil turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. This takes a few hours and plumps up all the fruit beautifully.

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When the mixture has cooled preheat your oven to 150 degrees celcius or 300 degrees fahrenheit – you want a slow oven so the cake cooks through thoroughly without burning or drying out. If you have a fan-forced oven drop this temperature to 140C or 275F.

Prepare a large 9 inch/22 centimetre round or an 8 inch/20 centimetre square tin by double lining it with baking paper, letting the paper come five centimetres or more above the top of the tin to prevent the top of the cake browning too fast.

(I have also given cooking times for smaller tins below in case you choose to divide the mixture and make smaller cakes for gifts.)

While the oven is heating, add your condensed milk, vinegar, two more tablespoons of alcohol and the vanilla, stirring well.  Just mix it straight into the big saucepan.  That way you only have one pot to wash up! The mixture may foam a little – don’t panic, this is normal. Then sift your flour, baking powder and spices into the mixture and stir through until combined. Taste the raw batter and adjust spices if necessary. You mixture will be thick and you’ll need a strong arm.

Spoon the mixture into the tin or tins.  Wet your hand and then press down lightly on the mixture to smooth it out and make the tin evenly filled, ensuring the mix is pressed in well into the corners. You can also raise the tins up about 6 inches and drop them onto the bench to help get rid of any air pockets.

Decorate the top with almonds and cherries. I like making flowers but you could also do simple rings of nuts and cherries. Be creative – that’s half the fun of baking!

Place your cake in the oven and follow the baking times below, using a skewer to test of the cake is done about ten minutes before the time is up.  Poke the skewer into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean the cake is ready, if mixture still adheres to the skewer bake a little longer.

3 x 8cm by 25cm tins – bake for 50 minutes to one hour

2 x 12cm x 23cm loaf tins – bake for one hour and twenty minutes

1 large round or square tin – bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes to two hours (test for doneness)

When you pull the cake from the oven pour the remaining alcohol over the top while the cake is still warm. Then cover with a clean tea towel and leave to cool in the tin before removing.

Store in an airtight container, or wrap in plastic wrap and then tin foil. Excellent keeping qualities, and may also be frozen. (But seriously, it won’t last that long…)

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For presentation, you can wrap a pretty ribbon around the outside of your cake on Christmas day. But we never seem to quite get to that…

Oh, and a word of warning. Santa has been known to sneak over early and cut a big chunk for himself, as well as drinking all of the milk you would have used in your morning cuppa so HIDE THIS CAKE if you expect problems of that nature. :)boiled-fruitcakes