Easy Orange Butter Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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“In Britain, a cup of tea is the answer to every problem.
Fallen off your bicycle? Nice cup of tea.
Your house has been destroyed by a meteorite? Nice cup of tea and a biscuit.
Your entire family has been eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex that has travelled through a space/time portal? Nice cup of tea and a piece of cake. ”
~ David Walliams

 

This is a lovely cake – moist and orangey, and easy to make. It would be the perfect cake for a Mothers Day tea. I often make this when friends come over. Friends, tea and orange cake is the recipe for happiness!

Ingredients:

Cake: 250 grams butter (one cup or two sticks) at room temperature, 2 cups sugar, 4 large eggs, pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons of fresh orange zest, 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1/2 cup of milk, 2 cups self-raising flour (self rising), 1 cup plain flour (all purpose)

Cream Cheese Frosting: 250 grams (1 cup) cream cheese, 2 cups of icing sugar (confectioners or powdered sugar), 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice

Variations: Add a teaspoon of orange blossom water or rose water to the cake batter for a flavoursome twist. If you love earl grey tea then another favourite variation is five drops of bergamot oil in the cake batter and two drops in the frosting mix.

Cake tin – one large bundt or ring pan, well greased and lightly floured or two loaf tins (23cm x 12cm – 9 inch x 5 inch) lined with baking paper.

Method:

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

Chop the butter into cubes, and add to a large mixing bowl with the sugar, orange zest and salt. Beat with electric beaters until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is creamy and pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

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Sift the flours into another bowl and stir gently so that they are well combined.

Gently add half the flour and fold through the butter mixture. Then add the orange juice, stirring gently to combine. Add the second half of the flour and fold through, then add the milk in the same way as the orange juice.

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Spoon the cake batter into your prepared tin.

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Bake the bundt or ring cake for 45 minutes and then test. A thin skewer inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean. If batter still clings to the skewer cook a little longer and then repeat test. Bake loaf cakes for thirty five minutes and then test.

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Cool in tin for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

If baking the night before, wrap cooled cake in plastic wrap or place in an airtight tin so that it does not dry out.

 

To ice the cake combine cream cheese, sifted icing sugar and 1/4 cup of orange juice. Mix on low speed until combined. If mixture is still too dry add a little more orange juice. Beat on medium speed for one to two minutes until thick and creamy. Spread over top of cake.

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Cake can also be garnished with toasted coconut or almonds, little flowers etc.

Best eaten on the day it is made but will keep, refrigerated and well covered, for three days.

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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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Berry Nice Fruit Crumble Recipe

This is one of those desserts you just throw together. It’s fantastically easy and it tastes like heaven in a bowl. It comes to you courtesy of the mulberry tree in my back yard, and the amplitude of strawberries in my refrigerator.  I would like to claim that I grew the strawberries too, but alas, between Bert and the blue tongued lizard, there are never any strawberries left for human consumption in my vegetable garden.

Be careful of the mulberries. Their juice will stain fingers, chopping boards and clothes. But a green mulberry rubbed over the stain of a ripe mulberry works just like an eraser. Who would have thought? (Thanks to my grandmother, Marga, for that tip. They had a mulberry tree on their farm that we would climb as little kids to gorge ourselves on the fruit.)

Here’s a pic of the mulberries which actually made it into the bowl yesterday (as opposed to my mouth…).

While you are preparing your fruit, turn on the oven and preheat to 160 degrees celcius (gas mark 3, or 325 degress farenheit). Drop the temp just a little more if your oven is fan forced. By the way, this recipe serves 6 people. Less if the people at your table are starving or piggy people, more if your people are small-child sized or have already enjoyed a good dinner.

Fruit: 1 large granny smith (or other firm cooking) apple, peeled and chopped into small pieces; 1 punnet (about 1 1/2 cups) of strawberries washed, hulled and chopped; 1 1/2 cups of mulberries or other soft sweet berries – washed and stalks removed; 2 tablespoons strawberry jam.  Mix fruit and jam gently together until combined. If the jam is very thick add a little boiling water to thin enough to mix through.

 

Crumble topping: 1 cup plain (all purpose) flour, 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup flaked almonds, 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/4 cup raw (demerara) sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 heaped teaspoon lemon zest.  Rub butter into the dry ingredients with the tips of your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs. **This can so easily be made with gluten-free flour!!!

Place fruit into a greased pie dish. Dump crumble mixture on top and use your fingers to press it out to the edges of the dish. Place on a baking sheet and put into oven. Bake 30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top, and bubbly at edges.

Serve your crumble with good vanilla icecream or some pouring cream. It would also be good with yoghurt. Enjoy!

 

ANZAC Biscuits – Nana’s Traditional Recipe

Tomorrow is ANZAC DAY in Australia, so I’ve been baking up a storm.  Of course, I think we may be the only country in the world where one of our most important national holidays celebrates a great war time defeat. But that’s another story, best told tomorrow.

My Nana was given this recipe by her mother, who used it to bake Soldiers Biscuits for the First World War – biscuits (cookies for my non-Australian readers) full of nutritional value, and with good keeping qualities, that could be shipped abroad to the fighting men. These biscuits do not contain any egg, which makes them much less perishable, and during the wars when there was rationing, the basic ingredients could still be come by. After the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli, Turkey, in 1915, these biscuits became known as ANZAC biscuits.

Every time I make them, I think of my Great Grandmother and my Nana, and of our troops abroad, then and now.  For me these biscuits are an ANZAC Day tradition, but I bake them often because they are delicious with a cup of tea, they fill you up, and they are quick to make.  Store them in an airtight tin and they’ll keep fresh for months. (Sadly, mine never last that long.)

Ingredients:

I cup each of rolled oats, dessicated coconut, sugar and plain flour, 4 ounces (1 stick) or 115g of butter (if you’re vegan use a butter substitute), 2 tablespoons golden syrup, 2 tablespoons boiling water (and a little more if needed), 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda.

Method:

Heat oven to 180C (moderate or 355F), and line two baking sheets with non-stick paper, or grease them.

Measure and mix dry ingredients into a large bowl.

Melt butter and syrup together in a saucepan. Add the bicarbonate of soda to a cup with the boiling water, dissolve soda and then tip into saucepan with the butter mixture.  The mixture will foam up – this is normal!

Tip wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well. If the mixture is a little dry add a touch more boiling water.

Form into teaspoon sized balls and place on tray, leaving room for spreading.Press down with a fork to flatten.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the biscuits are golden brown. Watch carefully for the last few minutes so they don’t overcook.

Cool on tray until firmed and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight tin.

Serve with tea, coffee or a nice cold glass of milk.  For best results, share with someone you love. ♥

Healthy Apple Crumble Recipe

Apple crumble has been a family favourite in our house for years. Now Autumn has arrived in Australia all the new season apples leave us spoilt for choice, and they taste positively delicious baked into a dessert.

I’ve modified this recipe so that it is gluten-free, sugar-free and so that it can also be dairy free or vegan. It’s quick to make, rich in fibre, and tastes wonderful as a hot or cold dessert, and will even double as breakfast!

The following recipe gives one serve, which I bake in a small ramekin. For more people just keep increasing the quantity, and use a larger baking dish.

Ingredients for the apple base:

One apple (today I’m using Pink Lady apples – very creamy and sweet and they keep a nice firm texture when cooked. I won’t use any sugar or sweetener as the fruit is ripe and sweet already, but a tart apple like a granny smith may need a little sweetening for most palates), six dates (optional – omit if you have diabetes or a sugar issue), 1/3 cup of water, half to one teaspoon stevia if needed (you could also use maple syrup, honey or rice syrup), a shake of powdered ginger or allspice.

Method:

Peel and core apple and chop into small pieces.

Add apple to saucepan with water and sweetener if the apple is tart, and turn to medium heat. After a minute or two add the chopped dates if you are using them.  Add a little ginger or allspice to season.

Stir often over medium heat until the liquid cooks off and the apple has changed colour.

Spoon into a ramekin or small dish, (or enjoy on its own as stewed fruit – great with yoghurt, on porridge or cereal, or even over ice-cream).

Crumble topping ingredients:

One tablespoon dessicated coconut, one tablespoon mixed seeds (optional but great for protein and fibre), one tablespoon rolled oats (if you’re celiac you may want to use a tablespoon of either gluten-free breadcrumbs, puffed rice/millet/buckwheat or a good gluten-free cereal), a little sweetener of your choice if you wish, one teaspoon of butter, vegan/vegetarian butter substitute or if you are mad on coconut like me, one teaspoon of coconut oil or cream.

The seed mix I use is called Kapai Puku. It’s available online but not everywhere – there’s a good post about it, and how you can make your own substitute here.

Method:

Rub crumble ingredients together with your fingers so that it becomes clumpy. (Very un-technical term – sorry!)

Sprinkle over apple mixture.

Bake in moderate oven until the top browns – around ten minutes.

Eat with great gusto – can be served with yoghurt, coconut cream, cream or ice-cream. Or enjoy it on its own. Comfort food at its finest.

Five-Minute Fudge Recipe

Creamy chocolate fudge – no-one can stop at just one piece…

I have always been an old fashioned, hard-core, boil ’em up kind of fudge maker. This makes great fudge, but it’s fiddly and I have spent many hours testing my batches to get them from ‘soft ball stage’ to ‘hard ball stage’- where I can drop a spoonful of mixture on a cold saucer and be able to get it to form into a firm ball before madly getting it into the tins before it sets too hard to manoeuvre.

After much perseverance I became the ‘Fudge Queen’ – cleaning up in the local agricultural shows and being awarded many ribbons and prizes. (It sounds more glamorous than it is – one of my ‘prizes’ was a tea towel, another was a nifty peg bag full of plastic bags – Oh Hale Goddess of Domesticity… Meanwhile our neighbour’s prizewinning cow netted him a bottle of rum, and several cartons of beer!)

Prize winning cows trump prize winning fudge any day!

A few years ago a friend gave me a recipe she uses to make commercial quantities of fudge for a fudge house.  I couldn’t believe how simple it was, or how great it turned out. And it only takes five minutes.

I make this often for street stalls, gifts and bribes. It may be a cheater’s kind of fudge but it is every kind of delicious. It will be one of the things in my Easter Basket presents for loved ones this year.

Ingredients:

400g chocolate*, 60g butter, 1 x 395g tin of condensed milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla

Note: Use a good quality chocolate. Cheaper chocolate has less cocoa solids and more vegetable oil, which gives a much softer fudge. White chocolate and milk chocolate will also give a softer result. That’s still fine. Just keep it in the fridge or freezer.

Method:

Use baking paper to line a tin.  I use a 16cm square tin, which gives a thick slab of fudge, but you could also use a longer, shallower tray.

Paper lined tin beside my trusty recipe book

Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Then break in your chocolate.

Try not too eat any of the chocolate pieces!

If you are going to prepare any variations now is the time to do it! I made a few batches, but this first one I made with milk chocolate and a cupful of jersey caramels which I chopped into smaller pieces.

Tip the condensed milk and vanilla into your saucepan and then allow it all to melt.  Stir with a strong wooden spoon. The mixture will come together quickly so watch it carefully. Dump in any additions and stir through.Then quickly spoon into the paper-lined tin and leave in fridge for a few hours to set.

Work quickly as it will begin to set quite fast

Variations:

Soak 3/4 cup of raisins or sultanas in 1 to 2 tablespoons of rum until the alcohol has been absorbed (this works best over a few hours or overnight).  Add to dark chocolate.

Add one cup of chopped walnuts and substitute coffee essence for vanilla. Use chocolate of choice.

One cup of chopped cream biscuits such as Oreos added to milk or dark chocolate.

One cup of chopped glace ginger – this is divine with dark chocolate.

OR use 200 g of plain chocolate, and 200g of a flavoured chocolate, such as Lindt Chilli, Orange or Mint.

This is so simple, even non-cooks can make it. *WARNING Highly addictive! ♥

If you live in Australia or anywhere else tropical (or if your central healing is turned up!), keep this fudge in the fridge or freezer, as it will become quite soft in warm weather.

Chocolate caramel fudge

Easy Moist Boiled Fruit-Cake Recipe

With Easter coming up I shall have a houseful of people to feed. My easy Boiled Fruitcake is a wonderful treat to serve with  a cup of tea, or heated as a dessert with fresh cream, custard or ice-cream. Even non-cooks can make this cake!

I love this recipe because I can whip it up with ingredients I have in the pantry. It keeps well, and freezes well too. (The picture above also shows a batch of my Lemonade Scones, to which I added some dates and lemon rind.  Sorry, no tablecloth the day this picture was taken – we’d been out mustering cattle and were all a bit grubby for fancies.)

Ingredients:

1.2kg mixed dried fruit (you can buy this as a bag of mixed fruit but I rather like using what is to hand), 250g butter – cubed, 1 and 1/4 cups water if using pre-packaged mixed fruit, 2 cups of water if using a combination where the fruit looks quite dry, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 1 x 395g tin of condensed milk, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or vinegar of your choice), 2 tablespoons rum or brandy, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, 2 cups of plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon allspice. Almonds and/or cherries to decorate if desired. *Note – if you wish, substitute strong tea for the alcohol, and gluten-free flour instead of plain flour

Method:

Place your mixed fruit into a large saucepan.  (For this cake in the picture I used 200g of dried peaches finely chopped, 100g of goji berries, 400g of dates and 500g of sultanas and a handful of chopped pecans as that was the fruit I had to hand. The gojis, dates and peaches were very dry so the extra water was needed!) 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.

After cooling it should look like this, with nice juicy fruit pieces.

When the mixture has cooled preheat your oven to 150 degrees celcius – you want a slow oven so the cake cooks through thoroughly without burning or drying out. Prepare a large round or square tin by lining it with baking paper, or choose two or three smaller tins. (I used three for this batch as I wanted to eat one, give one away, and have one to keep.)

While the oven is heating, add your condensed milk, vinegar, alcohol and vanilla, stirring well.  Just mix it straight into the big saucepan.  That way you only have one pot to wash up! The mixture will 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 may then decorate the top with almonds or cherries if you wish. Place 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.  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 x 24cm square tin – bake for two hours

When you pull the cakes from the oven pour a capful of extra rum or brandy over the top while the cake is still warm. Then leave them to cool in their tins before removing.

These ones are the date and goji fruit mixture I described in the method above, using rum.  They are rich and dark and divine:

And this batch was predominantly sultana, cherries and a little mixed peel with brandy, which gave a lighter texture and flavour:

These make great gifts, and the flavour is good enough to use them as a traditional Christmas Cake. Enjoy! ♥

Heavenly Chocolate Brownie Recipe

This brownie recipe is so good that my neighbour’s son prefers to be paid by the tin full rather than take cash when he works in my garden! As the picture suggests it is moist, dense and fudgey.  It’s a pleasure to make, using only a large saucepan and a cup. You can have it in the oven in ten minutes, and half an hour later it’s done. I always make a double batch in a baking tray (approx 22cm x 32 cm) because it doesn’t seem to last long around here. The recipe below is for a standard batch.

*Be warned – they are highly addictive!

Ingredients: 125g unsalted butter (one stick or 4 ounces), chopped into chunks (you can use salted but I prefer the sweetness of unsalted butter for this recipe), 200 grams dark chocolate broken into chunks (7 ounces chocolate or 1 cup), 3/4 cup soft brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup plain flour (all purpose flour), 3 eggs, 1 cup of nuts or chocolate chunks or a combination to suit yourself.

Note – Good nuts to use include walnuts, pecans or macadamias.  Chocolate chunks should be largish – if you use small chocolate drops they will melt and you won’t have any evidence of them in your finished brownie. Milk, dark or white chocolate are all fine – use whatever takes your fancy.  I also use fresh berries from time to time for a pleasing variation.

Method:  Use baking paper to line a slice tin (28cm x 18cm or 8 inches by 12 inches) Add the butter, sugar and chocolate to a large saucepan. Melt ingredients over low heat, stirring until all combined. Turn off the heat. It should be warm but not hot.  If you can’t stick your finger comfortably into the mixture let it cool a little. Add the vanilla.

Dump in the cup of flour, and then break the eggs into the cup, beat lightly and add to the saucepan too.  Mix well to combine.  Add the chocolate chunks or nuts and mix through, then pour batter into tray.

Bake at 180 degrees celcius or 160 degrees celcius in a fan forced oven (moderate or 355F – drop a little lower if fan forced) for 30 minutes.  Mixture should no longer be wobbly but a pick inserted in the middle of the cake should come out with traces of mixture still clinging to it. If you like your brownies fudgey take them out now.  If you like them firmer and more cake-like cook for 40 minutes. (You may need to play around with this timing depending on the speed of your oven.  They all differ a little.)

Cool in tin.  To serve dust with icing sugar and cut into squares.  They are excellent warm, served with cream or ice-cream. A perfect accompaniment to coffee.  They also travel well and make great gifts.  Enjoy!