Easy Orange Butter Cake Recipe

“Mma Ramotswe sighed. ‘We are all tempted, Mma. We are all tempted when it comes to cake.’
‘That is true,’ said Mma Potokwane sadly. ‘There are many temptations in this life, but cake is probably one of the biggest of them.”
~  Alexander McCall Smith

 

When you live on a farm it’s a different way of life to being in the city. When neighbours drop by it’s still a trek. If the tractor repair man comes he’s had a fair drive before he gets to us. The same for any kind of tradesperson. If friends are in the neighbourhood, having travelled to our part of the world for some other reason, they’ll often call ahead to see if we are home. And then all of them pop in for a cuppa.

If it’s morning, we’ll have morning tea. If it’s midday I can always rustle up extra food for lunch. Afternoon tea is a chance to stop on the veranda for a while to escape the heat of the day, or to pop inside by the wood fire to warm up before heading back out to the paddocks again. Any time’s a good time for a smoko break when friends drop by. (Smoko is not Australian slang for a cigarette break – smoko is a break from work, where hot tea is served, and something to eat.)

This orange cake is a smoko favourite. If we are working down at the cattle yards or heading out bush I will leave the cake un-iced so that it travels better. But at home, especially with visitors coming, the icing makes the cake just that little bit fancier.

Our orange trees are full of fruit right now, so it’s only a short walk for us to grab a couple sun-warmed and fresh from the tree.

This is a lovely, moist buttery cake with good flavour. I hope you enjoy it as much as our family do! It cooks up beautifully with gluten-free flour too. 🙂

Lots of love, Nicole xx

Cake Ingredients:

  • 250g butter, softened (If it’s cold, let it come to room temperature or you’ll be mixng it forever to get it to cream with the sugar. If it’s very hot – like Australia in summer – just remove from butter from fridge, cut into cubes and place into mixer. It will soon warm up on its own.)
  • 1 rounded cup of castor sugar (rounded means a little bit heaped rather than flat)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tblspn finely grated orange zest
  • 2 cups of sifted self-raising flour (it’s fine to use your favourite gluten-free flour if you want)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice

For the icing (frosting):

  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tblspn softened butter
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice

Tip: For an extra flavour boost you can also use a good food-grade orange essential oil, 3 drops for the cake and 3 for the icing. I use Young Living essential oils, and I just love them!

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).
  2. Line a 22cm springform cake tin with baking paper.
  3. Beat the butter until soft in an electric mixer and then gradually add the sugar. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and thick. This takes a few minutes on medium speed.
  4. Add eggs one at a time on low speed, beating well after each one.
  5. Add orange zest and a couple of drops of food grade orange essential oil if you are using it.
  6. Stop the mixer and dump the sifted flour into the bowl. Mix on slow speed until well combined. Use a scraper to push the mixture on the sides of the bowl down into the batter if necessary and then mix again.
  7. With the mixer still on slow speed pour the orange juice in little by little until all combined.
  8. Spread the batter into your cake tin and smooth the surface, making the centre of the cake just slightly lower than the sides. This stops it rising too high when it bakes.
  9. Bake for 40 minutes and then check. Cake is baked if it springs back when touched in the middle, or if a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave a little longer if not quite done.
  10. Remove cake from oven. Cool in tin for five to ten minutes and then place onto a rack to cool completely.
  11. Place cake on serving plate.
  12. Add the orange juice, essential oil (if using) and softened butter to the sifted icing sugar, stirring well until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Spread onto the cooled cake. Dipping your knife in hot water will help give a smooth and shiny finish as you spread the icing (frosting) mixture.
  13. If you want to be fancy you can add some extra grated zest, candied peel or orange slices, sprinkles, coconut or white chocolate curls to decorate the top of the cake (I usually don’t bother.)
  14. Serve with a good cup of coffee or a pot of tea. I especially enjoy Earl Grey or French Earl Grey with this cake, but Irish Breakfast is also fabulous.

Sicilian Lemon, Ricotta and Almond Cake Recipe #glutenfree

“Baking and love go hand in hand, for as one bakes a tasty treat and fills the room with its sweet aroma, the true joy is to take what has been made and share it with another.” 
~  Heather Wolf

 

Years ago I was travelling through a remote part of the Australian Outback. I stopped to refuel at a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere, and when I went inside to pay for my fuel I was overwhelmed by the smell of coffee. Good coffee. Long before there were baristas on every corner of the globe.

I mentioned to the middle-aged man who took my money that the coffee smelled divine. ‘Do you want some?’ he asked me. ‘Mum’s just made a fresh pot.’

Of course I said yes, and soon I was sitting at a table under a tree behind the roadhouse, with the man, his wife, and his very elderly Italian mother. She had brewed up her coffee in a stovetop espresso machine, the first one I had ever seen. The coffee was served in tiny glasses. No milk, but there was sugar if it was wanted. To accompany the coffee the old woman produced half a cake on a covered plate, still glistening with cold from the refrigerator.

She cut me a wedge, scooped a small serve of vanilla ice-cream onto my plate and then poured a drizzle of syrup over my cake from a glass jar.

The cake was delicious. Moist and dense but not heavy, full of sweetness and lemon that paired beautifully with the robust black coffee. I was in heaven!

Neither the old woman nor the man’s wife could speak English, but I still managed to get the recipe for the cake, which I recorded on the back of a used envelope. I also had my first taste of limoncello, which this Italian family also made themselves.

I hope you enjoy the cake as much as I do! You can certainly eat it warm, straight from the oven, but I like it better cold. An added bonus is that it is gluten-free. It will keep for a week, refrigerated. It also freezes well.

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs (or 4 small)
  • grated zest of 3 large lemons
  • 2 and 1/2 cups almond meal (I used ground whole organic almonds – the texture is still a little coarse, and the skins give a good flavour and texture)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (you can cut back to 1/2 if you are not a fan of sweet cakes)
  • 1/3 cup flaked almonds
  • Optional but good – 2 tablespoons of limoncello

Syrup Ingredients

  • grated zest of one large lemon
  • 1/2 cup  lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup  caster sugar

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C fan forced. Grease and line base of a 20 cm deep round cake pan with baking paper.

2. Place ricotta, eggs, zest, almond meal and sugar in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth. This only takes a minute or so. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with almonds. Bake for 55 minutes, or until cooked through.

3. Meanwhile, combine lemon juice, zest and extra sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Use a fine skewer to poke some holes in top of cake. Pour limoncello over cake and then half the hot syrup. Keep extra syrup aside for serving. Syrup will thicken as it cools. Leave cake to stand in tin until cold. (unless serving warm – obviously!)

Serve warm or cold, with vanilla ice-cream, natural yogurt and a drizzle of extra syrup. I am a big fan of coconut yoghurt with this cake. That’s what is in the pictures below.

My favourite cup measure gifted to me by my Nana!

Getting my ingredients together

When you grate your lemon zest, try not to get too much of the white pith, which has a bitter taste

The cake batter, thick and not over-beaten

The prepared cake mix, ready for the oven

The syrup, in all its lemony goodness

Hot cake, skewered and with syrup poured over

Cake is served! Afternoon tea on the veranda.

Sicilian Lemon, Almond Ricotta Cake. Let the eating begin!

Easy Chocolate Sour Cream Cake Recipe

Chocolate-s

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

 

Who doesn’t love chocolate cake?

Actually, my husband! But even Ben loves this cake, declaring it ‘the best chocolate cake he has ever tasted’.

If you’re looking for a simple, easy, moist chocolate cake recipe that can be whipped up as easily as a packet mix but with so much more flavour and goodness – this is it.

It really is as simple as throwing the ingredients in a bowl, mixing together, placing in the oven and baking. Kids and non-cooks will have success with this recipe. So yummy. So easy.

The cake is dense and fudge-y. You could serve it plain, or dust a little icing sugar over the top, but for a real celebration the ganache frosting totally rocks. In fact it dresses up this simple cake so much that suddenly it could be a special occasion cake, a dessert cake, a fancy cake…

I’ve made this very successfully with gluten-free flour too. This recipe is a keeper!

Ingredients:

Cake: 1 cup of plain flour (can be wheat flour or gluten-free), 4 tablespoons cocoa, 1 teaspoon bicarb soda, 1 pinch of salt, 1 cup of soft brown sugar – lightly packed, 1 large egg, 1 cup of sour cream, 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Chocolate Ganache: 200 grams of dark chocolate (70% cocoa is great!), 200 grams of cream, 1 tablespoon of honey

 

Method for Cake:

Line a 23cm round, deep tin with baking paper. Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Sift the flour, bicarb and cocoa together in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and then mix until combined. Don’t over-beat. You can mix by hand or with a mixer (I dump everything in my Kitchenaid and beat on low speed for a minute or so). The mixture will be thick, and it will seem like the cake can never rise. Don’t panic about that. It will.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30 minutes.

Cake should spring back when pressed lightly in the centre, or a skewer inserted in middle of cake will come out clean with no mixture sticking to it. If not quite done cook a little more.

Cool in tin. Remove paper and place on platter.

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Method for Ganache:

Place cream in a saucepan and heat until warm (not boiling). You should be able to stick your finger into the cream without burning yourself. Turn off heat. Break or cut chocolate into small pieces. Add to warm cream and leave to sit for a minute or two until melting. Stir to combine and then add honey and stir once more. Leave ganache to cool until it is thick but still spreadable. You can speed this process by placing ganache in fridge for ten minutes.

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Spread ganache thickly over top of cake. Decorate with sprinkles or other adornments if desired.

Store covered in fridge or a cool place and eat within three days. This cake also freezes well.

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Black Sticky Rice Pudding Recipe – Gluten Free, Vegan, Yum!

black sticky rice

“I like rice. Rice is great if you’re hungry and want 2000 of something. ”
~ Mich Ehrenborg

 

This is truly one of those comfort-in-a-bowl dishes. Black sticky rice pudding is popular in Thailand and parts of Asia. It can be eaten warm or cold, and makes a delicious dessert, but it’s equally good for breakfast or as a snack.

To serve I use a splodge of coconut cream or coconut yogurt, some fresh seasonal fruit, and sometimes a handful of nuts or seeds as well. It’s endlessly versatile.

Black sticky rice pudding is a great recipe – gluten free, dairy free, vegan and full of fibre, anti-oxidants and nurture-y goodness.  Black rice is a source of amino acids, iron, zinc, copper and according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is great for supporting and nurturing the liver and kidneys, two organs/energy centres that get very depleted during times of stress, illness or depression.  It’s great food for people with burnout or adrenal fatigue as it is warm and easy to digest.  Coconut is also good for low thyroid function and boosting slow metabolisms.

I usually make double this quantity and keep some in the fridge.  I reheat in a saucepan with a little extra water, but if you are a microwave user, I guess you could go there…

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Ingredients

1 cup of black glutinous rice (you can find this in most Asian grocery stores or good supermarkets), 2.5 cups of water, 2 tablespoons palm sugar or soft brown sugar, salt, vanilla essence, 1 cup of coconut milk/cream

Note – If you are sugar-free use Natvia, stevia or your favourite sugar substitute.

Method

Soak the rice overnight (or at least 6 hours)  in the water in a ceramic or glass dish. It’s really important to soak your rice well, so please don’t skimp on that part of the cooking process. The water will go a nice shade of purple – try not to get it on you as it will stain some fabrics. Many people suggest you discard the soaking water, rinse and start over, but then you’d lose many of the minerals and anti-oxidants that have leached from the water overnight.

Transfer to a suitable saucepan and place on the heat.  Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, and then reduce the heat to low, and cover.  Cook for a further half an hour to forty-five minutes, until the rice is soft and the mixture has thickened.  You need to play this by ear a bit, as you might need to add a little more water and cook longer. It all depends on the rice.

Add a pinch of salt and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of  coconut milk/cream, then sugar to taste. Add in a splash of vanilla essence too. I use about 2 heaped tablespoons of palm sugar, but if you prefer it sweeter, add more.  Stir occasionally over the next ten minutes until the rice is thick and pudding like. (I sometimes omit the coconut milk as a variation, which gives a nuttier flavour.)

Cool slightly and then serve in bowls with the remaining coconut milk/cream drizzled over the top.  Sliced banana or tropical fruits such as papaya or mango are also good.  In winter I may use berries.  Right now I am using a big dollop of coconut yoghurt (yoghurt made on coconut milk!) from a company called Co Yo, which is divine.

If I have made a less-sweet pudding, I will sometimes also add a sprinkle of palm sugar or a dash of maple syrup when serving.

Enjoy ♥

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sticky rice pudding

 

 

Green Goodness Sauce Recipe

green sauce

“She pulls on her heavy boots and carries the water bucket past the rose bushes, past the herb garden, and back to the barn behind the house. Her steps kick up the scents of herbs: thyme, mint, and lemon balm. The plants send up new stems each year from the roots that survived the winter and grew up again along the path. The perfumed walk is a mystical part of her world. Walking here is her favorite part of mornings. Sometimes, this is the highlight of her day.”
J.J. Brown

 

One of the simple pleasures of my life is to grab a handful of herbs from one of the pots or vegetable gardens at my back door to use in our evening meal.

This green sauce recipe takes just a minute or two to whiz together, and it elevates all kinds of meals to a new level of yum.

The sauce itself is vegan. It’s also sugar, dairy and gluten free.

I love the versatility of this sauce. I often use it as a dip with chopped up vegetables, or I fold it through a little yogurt (use coconut yogurt if you’re dairy free) for a creamier version – it’s also good with chunks of fresh bread or crackers.

You can spoon this sauce over steamed or baked vegetables, toss it through a bowl of pasta, add it at the end of a risotto dish, or serve it with fish, chicken or any kind of meat.

It’s a fabulous accompaniment to barbeques. I’ve even used it as a salad dressing.

I’ve given you this recipe base upon parsley and basil, but you can experiment with whatever other soft herbs and edible leaves, including bitter greens, you have to hand. Just a caution on bitter greens – use only 1/4 to 1/2 of your total herbs as bitter ones or the sauce becomes a bit too bitey. This recipe makes about a jar’s worth of sauce.

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Ingredients:

An equal-ish mix of parsley and basil leaves to make three cups. (If you have a little mint, thyme, chives or dill feel free to chuck a bit of that in too!) Up to three cloves of garlic. Juice and zest of one lemon, a tablespoon of gherkins, a tablespoon of capers, up to one half cup of extra virgin olive oil, pinch of salt and a grind or two of pepper, half (or one small) red salad onion.

Method:

Tear the leaves off the basil and add in the tops of the parsley. It’s okay for there to be some parsley stalk – don’t be too particular. Rinse if necessary.

Keep one cup of leaves aside and chop roughly. Dump the other two cups in a food processor or blender.

Add the peeled garlic, gherkins, capers, lemon zest and juice and 1/4 cup of oil in your processor or blender.

Whiz until combined and smooth.

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Spoon the green sauce into a bowl.

Add the chopped herbs and finely diced red onion to the sauce and stir to combine. This gives a lovely contrast of textures. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve and enjoy!

If there is any sauce left over it will keep in a jar in the fridge for up to one week.

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The vegan version – green sauce spooned over roasted cauliflower and sweet potato with a fresh garden salad.

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The meat-arian version – green sauce served over barbecued sausages with roasted cauliflower and sweet potato with a fresh garden salad.

green sauce

 

(Tip – if you have sausages left over, use them the next day in pasta – slice sausages and add to the green sauce then stir through pasta)

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Easy Mango Mousse #dairyfree #glutenfree #vegan #yum #paleo

vegan mango mousse

“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…”
~ Susan Polis Schutz

 

Mangoes are finally in season here in Australia. This is a super-easy and yummy mango mousse that tastes of summer and is something you can make all year round, even if you can’t access fresh mango. I’ve made this before with frozen mango and canned mango too. Perfect if it’s winter in your neck of the woods but you’re craving a little sunshine.

I’ve adjusted an old recipe of mine that called for cream and loads of sugar, and converted it to a recipe that is dairy-free and refined sugar-free. You can make this as a vegan or a paleo dessert – and it’s so healthy you could eat it for breakfast!

All you need to make this is a blender.

Ingredients:

270ml can of coconut cream – chilled (or use one cup), cheeks of three fresh mangoes, or the drained contents of an 800 gram can of mangoes or 2 cups of frozen mangoes, 1 tablespoon of agar agar (or use 1 tablespoon of gelatin if you aren’t vegan or vegetarian – this is a great option if you follow a paleo diet), 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of maple syrup or sweetener of your choice – natvia is a favourite of mine for sugar-free but coconut sugar also gives a great flavour (if you’re not vegan you could also use honey), a squeeze of lime juice or lemon juice if you have no limes!

Method:

Chill the can of coconut cream in the fridge for an hour or two or until when you shake it there is no liquid sloshing. If you’re in a cold climate it may already be like this at room temperature, but you need your coconut cream cold or it won’t whip.

Slice up your mango flesh or drain canned mangoes.

Soak your agar agar in 1/3 cup of water so it swells. Do the same if you are using gelatin. It’s fine to use the juice from canned mangoes or any squeezed pulp if you prefer.

mango1

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Place the chilled coconut cream (omit any liquid), mango flesh and agar agar mixture (or gelatin) into a blender or food processor. Whip on high speed until combined and fluffy. The time for this will vary depending on the speed of your motor, but really it should only take a minute or two.

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Now taste your mixture. Some mangoes are so sweet that they will need little extra sweetening. Add the quarter cup of sweetener (less if you feel it only needs a touch) and the squeeze of lime to freshen the flavour, pulse or blend quickly to combine and then taste again and add more sweetener if necessary until you are happy with the levels.

Pour into individual serving dishes or one larger bowl and refrigerate til set. You’ll need at least one hour for this.

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You can eat the mousse on its own, or garnish with more mango pieces. It’s also fabulous with a side of gelato or ice-cream, or a few gingersnaps.

I had a friend coming for dinner and I wanted to make pretty, so I chose a dollop of coconut yoghurt, some grated dark chocolate and a few fresh blueberries as my garnish. The nasturtium flowers made it feel completely celebratory.

The result?

Mango party for your mouth! <3 So very yum. 🙂

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Green Goji Bliss Balls

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“Humor keeps us alive. Humor and food. Don’t forget food. You can go a week without laughing.”
~ Joss Whedon

 

I often whip up a batch of these healthy, yummy snacks. Green Goji Bliss Balls are packed full of nutrition, and the lemon gives them a lovely fresh tang.

They are incredibly easy to make, especially if you have a good food processor or blender.

This recipe is high in good fats and protein, and in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. It is also vegan and gluten-free, refined sugar-free and dairy-free. A couple of these Bliss Balls and a fresh juice make a satisfying lunch if you’re on the go, and a great snack anytime. Don’t let the green colour put you off – they are absolutely delicious and lemony.

Note: Broccoli sprout powder is super-nutritious and helps to detox the body of heavy metals, as well as metabolising estrogen, normalising DNA methylation and working as a potent anti-oxidant and immune booster. But it’s fine to omit or to substitute for something else. 🙂

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds, 1/2 cup pepitas, 1/2 cup brazil nuts, zest of two lemons, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1 cup of unsweetened coconut, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 cup goji berries, 2 heaped teaspoons spirulina, 1 heaped teaspoon broccoli sprout powder, 3 tablespoons of maple or rice malt syrup . Extra coconut for rolling.

Method:

Zest your lemon and then squeeze the juice.

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Use a food processor  or spice grinder to chop the almonds and brazil nuts until they are finely chopped. Do this in a couple of batches if you need to. It’s fine for there to be a few larger chunks. Don’t process until it is a paste – you are looking for a crumbly, chopped texture rather than goo!

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Add all the dry ingredients and lemon zest into a large bowl and mix well with a spoon.

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Add the lemon juice and mix the entire lot together with a clean hand. You could use a spoon but your hand will do a better job!

When the mixture is well combined, roll into balls about the size of a golf ball. Drop the balls into a small container of coconut and cover them well. Place into the refrigerator to set (about thirty minutes).

These bliss balls will keep for a week refrigerated, if they last that long. Enjoy!

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