Nicole’s Fruit Slice Recipe

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“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.” ~ Tom Stoppard

This week’s offering for my ‘Slice Extravaganza’ series – recipes taken from the hallowed  Family Recipe Book – is known simply as ‘Nicole’s Fruit Slice’.  Why? When I was a little girl it was my absolute favourite, and I never tired of it.

It has a moist biscuit base, a luscious tangy fruit filling with a hint of cinnamon and lemon and a sweet glace icing to top it off.

I would race home from primary school with my little brother and sister in tow, find the big old key under one of the potplants beside the laundry, unlock the back door, get everyone out of uniforms and into play clothes and then we would sit and have afternoon tea at the table in the kitchen before we did our homework. One glass of cordial each, or milk if there was plenty, and a piece of slice. (Often, we ate two..)

I am still quite partial to pink icing. Especially on cupcakes.  But that’s a whole other story. As you can see from the picture below, food appreciation and daydreaming has been a big part of my life since I was small! You will also see that I avoided eating crusts, on account of them making your hair go curly.

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Base Ingredients:

1 x cup of plain flour (all purpose flour), 3/4 cup of rolled oats, 1/2 cup of lightly packed soft brown sugar, 1/2 cup (4 oz or 125 grams) butter cut into cubes

*Note – for vegans, use a vegetable butter substitute.  If you’re gluten intolerant, this works fine with a commercial gluten-free flour mix and coconut substituted for the oats. – Don’t pack this too tightly into the tin if using the gluten-free mixture.

Fruit Layer:

1 cup of dried currants, 1/2 cup of sultanas (golden raisins), finely grated zest of one lemon, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of cornflour, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 cup of water

Glace Icing (Frosting):

1 cup of icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) 1 teaspoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of milk, pink food colouring

METHOD:

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

Line a 28cm x 18cm (7 inch by 11 inch) slice tin with some baking paper.

Base:

Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl and then rub in the butter with your fingertips.  The mixture should resemble soft bread crumbs.  Press the mixture firmly into the paper-lined tin, making sure to fill right to the edges.

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Fruit Layer:

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and stir to combine,  Keep stirring over moderate heat until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and spoon evenly over slice base.

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Place your slice into the oven and bake for 35 minutes, until the top is firm.

Glace Icing: (Frosting)

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and beat until smooth.  Colour a pleasing shade of pink. (Trust me – this is an issue of personal taste.) Place bowl over hot water until the icing is very runny and easy to spread. Pour over warm slice and spread to the edges.

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Allow to cool in tin before removing.  Cut into small squares. DO resist cutting before it cools, as slice takes a few hours to firm up and you’ll be left with a crumbly disaster! **Note – cooling can be hastened by placing in refrigerator…

Store in an airtight tin in a cool place. Goes exceptionally well with a cold glass of lemon cordial, milk or for the grown ups – hot French Earl Grey Tea!

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Chocolate Covered Coconut Slice Recipe

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“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” 
~ Charles M. Schulz

Chocolate and coconut is a heavenly combination, and this particular slice recipe delivers! It is quite light in texture, so it’s not rich and it’s not too sweet – a crisp biscuit base, a fluffy coconut centre and a succulent layer of real chocolate to top it off. This slice is a perfect accompaniment to a floral or fruity tea, or a good coffee.

It can also easily be modified to become gluten-free and diabetic friendly. Vegans – please use your favourite butter and egg substitute – I quite like replacing the egg with a 1/4 cup of applesauce or a 1/2 a banana, both of which compliment the other flavours.

Today’s recipe is another offering from the Family Recipe Book, our treasured ‘passed down’ and hostess-acquired recipes from three generations of women who love to cook.

INGREDIENTS

Biscuit Base: 95 grams of butter (3.35 ounces or 0.85 of a stick of butter), 2 tablespoons of caster sugar (superfine sugar) or equivalent sugar substitute, 3/4 cup plain flour, 1/4 cup 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 tablespoon of cornflour, pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

*Note: if using gluten-free flour use 1/2 cup of plain and 1/2 cup of self raising flour for a better result.

Coconut Filling: 2 cups of unsweetened desiccated coconut, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons of sugar (increase to 4 if you prefer a sweeter slice) or equivalent sugar substitute, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 2 tablespoons of self raising flour, 3/4 cup of milk or your favourite milk equivalent.

Chocolate Topping: 200 grams (7 ounces) of your choice of milk or dark chocolate ( I like a combination of both!) broken into pieces, 25 grams (0.9 ounces) copha or vegetable shortening. If you’re diabetic please use a diabetic chocolate or a dark chocolate that is low in sugar. 

choc mix

METHOD

Base:

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

Line a 28cm x 18cm (7 inch by 11 inch) slice tin with some baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar together (using electric or hand beaters) until light and smooth. Add in the vanilla and dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Mixture should be a crumbly paste.

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Press firmly into the tin, taking care to push mixture right into the corners. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden all over. Remove from oven and rest for ten minutes.

Coconut Filling:

Prepare this while the base is in the oven. Mix all ingredients together and leave sit for five minutes for coconut to swell and absorb any fluid. Spoon over the biscuit base, spreading evenly.  Return to oven and bake another twenty five minutes or until set and lightly browned on top.  Cool in tin.

Chocolate Topping:

Melt broken chocolate and copha in a saucepan together over low heat, stirring frequently until mixture is smooth and lump free. (You could also use your microwave – but we’re a microwave-free household so you’re on your own for instructions here!) Pour over Slice and spread carefully to the edges.  Leave to set in tin, and then cut into small squares.

Store in an airtight container, and refrigerate if you live in a hot climate or like your chocolate layer crisp..

*Warning – this Slice is prone to evaporation and other mysterious disappearances. 

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Variations:

* Evenly space walnut halves in lines before the chocolate sets so that when you cut the slice each square will have a walnut half decorating the centre.

* Add a tablespoon of Malibu (coconut flavoured white rum) to the coconut filling before baking.

* Spread a thin layer of Nutella on the biscuit base before adding the coconut layer. (This is especially good, and also goes well with the Malibu layer for a special treat.)

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Nana’s Passionfruit Slice Recipe

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“Cooking is not about being the best or most perfect cook, but rather it is about sharing the table with family and friends.”  ~ Skye Gyngell, My Favorite Ingredients

This is an old recipe that my Nana copied out from her friend Dulcie, after a successful ‘War Wives Luncheon’ during World War Two. At least that was the memorable annotation she jotted at the bottom of the piece of paper the recipe is written on.  As a child I would ask Nana over and over to tell me about that Luncheon in Sydney, and she would remind me how hard it was to make tasty food with all of the rationing and restrictions. Dulcie’s slice had been a real winner.

As a child I painstakingly copied the same recipe into the Family Recipe Book.  Each time I make this I think of my Nana and her friends, sitting drinking cups of tea, eating slice and chatting during the long days of the War, with the rations and limitations and hardships.

There’s a lot of comfort to be had in a cup of tea and a slice.

tea in front of the fire

Base Ingredients:

1 x cup 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 x cup of unsweetened desiccated coconut, 1/2 cup of  sugar, 1/2 cup (4 oz or 125 grams) melted butter, finely grated zest of one lemon.

*Note –  If you’re gluten intolerant, this works fine with a commercial gluten-free flour mix.

Method:

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

Line a 28cm x 18cm (7 inch by 11 inch) slice tin with some baking paper.

Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl and then mix through the melted butter.  The mixture should be moist and crumbly.

Press the base into the tin, being careful not to press down too heavily. (If you compact the base too much it becomes very hard to cut after it has cooked.)

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the top is nicely golden.

Remove from oven and cool completely. (This step is essential!)

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Topping:

1 x 395g can of sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice, pulp of 3 passionfruit.

Heat oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit), and then just before you pop the slice back in, knock the temperature back to 140 degrees for your fan forced oven or equivalent.

passfruits

Whisk the condensed milk, lemon juice and passionfruit pulp together.  The mixture will thicken from the acidity of the lemon juice. At this stage you should taste it… (Okay, I made that bit up, but who can resist?)

Pour the passionfruit topping over the biscuit base and smooth over until you have a good coverage.

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Bake in the slow oven for twenty minutes. The topping should be firm to your touch, and pale golden.

Remove from oven and cool completely.  Store in refrigerator in a hot climate, or if you are not eating this all in one day.  To serve, cut into small squares.

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Easy Apple and Cinnamon Bundt Cake Recipe

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I love this easy cake.  It takes five minutes to make, and is a favourite for morning or afternoon tea, or as a simple warm dessert. It’s a moist, light vanilla cake with a caramel-ly soft apple topping and a mouth-watering crust of cinnamon sugar. Even if you’re not a cake maker I encourage you to give this one a go!

I’ve been experimenting with different varieties of apples lately. The apple I’ve used in this cake is one of the first of the season for a wonderful old heritage variety called Cox’s Orange Pippin. But this is always delicious with Granny Smith apples too.

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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 tablespoon sugar extra and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. 1 x apple, cored and cut into very thin slices.  1 x bundt pan well greased with butter or 1 x 20cm round cake tin, paper lined.

* Note – if you don’t have a bundt tin use a 20cm round cake tin, well lined with paper, and put the apples on the top! Then serve apple side up. It will turn out more like a traditional tea cake, but still be just as yum.

Topping ingredients:

1 x tablespoon melted butter, 1 x tablespoon sugar and 1 x teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method:

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

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

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Fold through the yoghurt and flour until combined.

Arrange your sliced apples in the bottom of the bundt tin, sprinkling your layers with the  sugar and cinnamon.

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Then carefully dollop your cake batter on top and smooth out to cover to the edges.

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Place in the preheated oven and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.  Check your cake by poking  a skewer into the centre at 25 minutes. If it comes out clean it is ready. Leave in a little longer if batter still clings to skewer.

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Cool in tin for five minutes, then give it a shake to loosen it and invert onto a serving plate. Resist picking off any of that delicious apple, even though I know you’ll want to.  Fulfillment is mere moments away!

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Topping:

Melt butter and brush over the warm cake.  Then mix sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over top of cake. Let cake cool.

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Travels well for taking to friends’ houses! Enjoy, and please let me know how it turned out.

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PS – If you’re aiming to impress, and want to use this as a dessert cake, serve warm with ice-cream. This goes REALLY well with salted caramel ice-cream… Your guests will gobble it all up and think you a kitchen genius. :)

Heavenly Blueberry Crumble Slice Recipe

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It’s bucketing down here at the farm again, and there’s not much for me to do but sleep, cook or sit on the verandah sipping tea. We still have no power here after the big Australia Day Weekend Wet, but Ben has fired up the generator for a while and my biscuit tins are empty so I am on a mission.  The workers are hungry, (they’re always hungry!) and this is an easy slice to make when you have electricity.  In fact, with a bit of elbow grease I’ve made this with a wooden spoon, my bare hands and a camp oven over an open fire, but why bother when today I have a four hour window of oven-ready cooking time!

This is a very versatile slice.  It can be made with any fruit you have to hand (I like apple, apricot and nectarine too), but I have a mammoth bucket of blueberries in the fridge from the local farmers markets last week, and we need to use everything up before it goes off.  This slice eats well hot or cold.  But keep it in an airtight tin in the fridge if you live in a warm climate. You can also make a double batch and freeze one for later. (Mind you I don’t think this batch will last that long…)

Note – this can also be made just as easily by substituting gluten-free flour, and I have done so many times.

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Ingredients:

Base – 1 cup of sugar, 3 cups of plain flour (all-purpose for my American friends), 1 cup of cold butter cut into small cubes (250 grams, 8 ounces or 2 sticks), 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, zest of one lemon, 1 teaspoon vanilla. Hint – make sure the butter really is cold.

Fruit Filling – 4 cups of blueberries (or fruit of your choice), 1/2 cup of sugar, juice of one lemon, 1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour. I heaped teaspoon cinnamon, reserved.

Method: Place the cubed butter and sugar into the bowl of a food processor and whizz to combine.  You don’t want to mix it to a cream, you want to just barely combine it. Then add in the flour and baking powder and whizz again.  Dump in the egg, lemon zest and vanilla and process one more time.  The mixture should be soft and crumbly.  Divide in two portions.  (If you don’t have a food processor, use a scone knife to cut the butter through the sugar and flour, or rub it together between your fingertips.)

Press one half of the dough into the bottom of a baking paper-lined 28cm x 18cm (9 inch by 13 inch) slice tin. Don’t worry if it looks a little dry.

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Now mix your sugar, lemon juice and cornflour together, and then mix thoroughly through your blueberries.  Tip these over the base and spread out evenly with a spoon.

Mix the cinnamon through the remaining dough and then crumble over the top of the fruit, making sure to get the mixture right to the edges. Bake in a moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit ) for 45 minutes until golden brown.

Cool in the tin.

If you cut your slice while it is still warm it will bleed a little, but that’s the price you pay for immediate gratification.

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Okay, my baking is done, the tea is made, the sodden workers have returned and the generator is about to go off again. Thanks for all your kind thoughts and well wishes. I’ll catch up with all your messages once I have an uninterrupted power supply.

Sending much love to you all from my well-provisioned little farmhouse island,

Nicole ♥ xx

PS. A very unhappy Bert and Harry waiting for the rain to stop…

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Happy Birthday, Mum!

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It’s my mum’s birthday today. I can’t pop in and see her, take her flowers or make her a cake because she’s visiting with my brother down in Tasmania. (And yes, they are all safe from the fires, thank you!)

So instead I thought I’d take a moment to say thank you to my mum for some of the ways she has enriched my life.

Thank you mum for teaching me manners, and helping me understand that the feelings of others are important.  Thank you for teaching me to be considerate and compassionate.

Thank you for letting me follow you around the kitchen, for fostering my love of cooking, and for letting me make dinner – even when I did use every herb and condiment, and every pot and pan just to make one very strange-tasting dish.

Thanks for letting us spend so much time with our grandparents.  I am only now appreciating what a gift that is in my life.

Thank you for all the sacrifices you made to make sure we got a good education.

Thank you for teaching me that we should celebrate the important occasions in our lives.  In honour of this last one, here’s cake.  (BTW – You were the one who taught me how to make the chocolate leaves…)

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I hope you get to indulge in some fabulous tasty treats today. I love you.  {{{HUGS}}}

Happy Birthday Mum!

And if any of you would like to make this delicious Celebration Chocolate Mud Cake for yourself, my easy-to-follow recipe is here:

Celebration Chocolate Mud Cake Recipe

PS Don’t feel you have to wait for a special occasion to make this, because there is always something to celebrate in life!

Rhubarb Cream Puff Recipe

When you’re in a hurry, but still want something fabulous for dessert, this is it! There is no particular skill required, and the beauty of this recipe is that you can use any seasonal stewed fruit if you can’t get rhubarb!

Ingredients to Serve Four: one bunch of rhubarb, 2 apples, sugar, one cup or 300ml cream, one lemon, 2 sheets of commercial puff pastry, one egg, vanilla essence, raw sugar, 2 tablespoons flaked almonds, ground coriander seed (optional)

Rhubarb Compote:

Wash the rhubarb stalks well, and cut into inch long pieces.  I used one large bunch, which had about 8 stems in it. Weigh the raw rhubarb, and then measure twenty percent of the total weight of the rhubarb as raw (demerara) sugar. Then chop two pink lady apples (or any other apple of your choice) into smallish pieces, leaving the skin on but removing the core. Throw the sugar, rhubarb and apple into a pot. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. The rhubarb will break down and release its own liquid so no other fluid is required.  Cover your pot and place over a low heat.  Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick.  It will take about ten to fifteen minutes to cook, and the rhubarb and apple will be soft and delicious. Set aside.  You can serve this warm or cool – whatever is your preference.

Cream:

Beat 300ml cream (or a cup – don’t get too fussy about quantities here), a dash of vanilla and a spoonful of sugar to taste (you don’t want it too sweet) until it forms soft peaks.

Pastry:

Preheat your oven to the temperature recommended by the pastry manufacturer.  Use two sheets of a commercial puff pastry. Cut each sheet into four.

Lay the sheets on some baking paper on a metal tray.

Beat the egg with a dash of water, and brush over the pastry.  Then sprinkle four with a little raw (demerara) sugar,  and the other four with some sugar, a dusting of ground coriander seed and the flaked almonds.

Put into the oven until puffed and golden (about ten minutes).

To assemble, flip the four squares that have no almonds upside down onto a serving plate.  Add a layer of rhubarb, pushing roughly to the edges.

Spread a splodge of cream on top of the rhubarb.

Top with the other pastry lid, and you’re done. These are best made close to serving time so that they don’t go soggy.

Pastry lids can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container. Recipe can easily be increased for a crowd.  For an afternoon tea or something slightly daintier, you could also cut your raw pastry squares in half again, which will end up making eight long fingers instead of the four larger puffs.

If you have any compote left over, it goes very well with scones (biscuits), or as a sponge filling.  It’s also a perfect match with a good vanilla ice-cream.  Enjoy!