Feijoa Apple Crumble


Crumbles are possibly the easiest dessert to make. I usually make apple crumble which goes down a treat. After being inspired by this video I decided I would give other fruit crumbles a go. It’s feijoa season here in NZ. If you’re anything like me, you binge eat your feijoas before they ever make it to the desserts you planned on making with them! Every year I tell myself that I won’t be greedy and gobble them up in one go. This year that actually happened! The previous owners of the house we moved into planted 3 feijoa trees. That’s pretty much why I decided to move into this house hahahah. Anyhoo, we’ve been blessed with a bounty of fejoas as you can see in the picture above. Sadly we had a bit of a moth problem, however some neem spray seems to have solved that so we didn’t lose too many fruit in the end!

Now, back to the recipe. This crumble does have some apple in it, which you’re probably thinking defeats the purpose. You can totally go ahead and just use feijoas and forget the apples BUT be aware that feijos are a mushy fruit, so you’re not going to have much texture from the fruit alone. This is my only reason for adding the apples. It adds bulk to the fruit component of the recipe (I mean let’s face it, I still ate most of my feijoas while trying to make this) and it keeps it’s texture. As feijoas have such a strong scent a flavour, you actually don’t taste the apple at all.

I often like to add spice to my crumbles. This of course is 100% optional. When you use such flavourful fruit as feijoas, you’re really not gonna get the big spice kick. The spice is more of a light after taste. I like that, so I’m going with it.

Lastly, a note on the sugar in this. I personally don’t like a lot of sugar in my crumbles. I drizzled over some honey on the fruit as a had a few underripe feijoas in the mix. You can totally leave the honey out and reduce the sugar a bit. I mean, we’re not making health food here guys. Feel free to use this recipe for a healthier crumble alternative.

Feijoa Apple Crumble
Serves 4

500g Feijoas
2 Apples, medium sized
2 Tbsp Honey
1/4 cup Plain flour
50 g Rolled oats
50 g Desiccated coconut
50 g Soft brown sugar
40 g Unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small cubes
2 tsp Mixed spice, divided

Heat oven to 180C and grease a baking dish. You’ll need a 1 Litre capacity dish for this.

Cut each feijoa in half and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh in to your dish. Peel, core and finely slice your apples and place in dish. Drizzle honey and sprinkle 1 tsp of the mixed spice on the fruit and mix it in the dish. Arrange the fruit in a even layer.

Now we make the crumble. Put the flour, oats, coconut, brown sugar and mixed spice in a medium bowl. Give the dry ingredients a quick toss with your hands. Now add the butter. Using your hands, rub the butter into the dry mixture until you have a fine sandy mixture. Spread the crumble over the fruit and pop into the preheated oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the crumble is crunchy.

Once done remove from oven and cool slightly. Serve warm in bowls with vanilla ice cream or greek yoghurt.

Blueberry Orange Pancakes

Blueberry Pancakes 1
Blueberry Pancakes

I usually make pancakes for breakfast on special days or on mornings where I want an excuse to have something sweet for breakfast. I've been striving for the perfect pancake recipe for a long time now. I've tried a lot of different recipes in the hope to find the perfect one. I think this is it!

I like my pancakes to be light an fluffy. Almost every time I tried a recipe the pancakes would be flat and dense, which isn't the end of the world, but it wasn't the fluffy texture that I wanted. After much experimenting, I've achieved my goal. The fluffy-ness comes from the egg whites! I seperate my eggs and whip the egg whites then I add it to the batter at the very end. The addition of the egg whites at the end gives the batter a lighter texture which translates into a fluffy pancake! Presto!

This recipe is actually very basic and can be altered to suit the flavours you like. I decided to flavour my pancake batter with blueberries and some orange zest. Blueberries are cheaper now as we are at the end of the season so now's your chance to make good use of them. You can always use frozen berries if they aren't in season. You can pretty much use any berry you want, and if you're not a fan of fruit, you can always go down the chocolate chip route. Or keep things simple and just add a bit of cinnamon. Once you have the basic batter made, you can put in whatever you want. Your options are endless!

Blueberry Orange Pancakes
Makes 10 pancakes
2 eggs, seperated
1 & 1/2 cups standard flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar, optional
pinch of salt
1 cup milk of choice
3 tablespoons butter, melted (use margarine for dairy-free option)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange blossom water
zest of 1 orange
1 cup blueberries

In a small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff; set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.

Beat egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl; add milk, melted butter, vanilla, orange zest and orange blossom water. Beat to combine. Once combined, pour into the dry ingredients. Mix until there are no more flour pockets left. Lastly fold in beaten egg whites and blueberries.

Cook the pancakes on a hot greased griddle on one side until the edge looks dry and bubbly and the bottom is browned. Flip the pancake and cook the other side until nicely browned. Serve immediately with maple syrup and more blueberries. Whipped cream is good too!


Ugeshni Khan

Tropical Pavlova

Tropical Pavlova

Pavlova, or pav for short, is a great kiwi classic that's often eaten during the festive season, mostly because that's when the best fruit is around! Pavlova is basically a large meringue covered in whipped cream and fruit of your choice. It's not just any ole meringue though. Unlike standard meringues that are crunchy and dry, pavlova is crunchy on the outside but soft and marshmallowy on the inside. This is achieved by using cornflour and vinegar in the meringue mixture. Once it gets to the oven, the egg whites react with the cornflour and vinegar to form a crunchy shell whilst keeping the inside moist and fluffy. Isn't science cool?!

Pavlova is the perfect base for whatever toppings you love. As mentioned it's usually topped with fruit, but you can top it with whatever else you desire. As you know I'm quite the fruit lover, so obviously I went down that route. Berries and cherries are what you normally find on top of a pav, but I wanted to take things up a notch and go tropical. There's a lot of good mangoes around at the moment at reasonable prices so it was a no-brainer that mango would be on here. I wanted something tangy or sour to cut through all the sweetness, so I used some passionfruit topping. You can find this in the dessert section of your supermarket. There's a couple of brands that make it. I chose the one with the least amount of sugar added! Passionfruit tends to be rare and expensive here, but if you have access to fresh passionfruit then definitely use fresh. Of course any tropical fruit like, paw paw, lychee, banana etc will work too. You can use fresh or tinned. If using tinned drain the syrup or else the fruit will slide all over the place.

If you're living a gluten free and/or dairy free lifestyle then this dessert is great for you. There's no flour in this recipe. Cornflour is used which is gluten free. Do check the brand of cornflour that you buy though, as some have other things added in there.  The only dairy in this dessert is the whipped cream on top which can easily be subbed with whipped coconut cream. Coconut cream also adds to the tropical vibe so that's an extra bonus. Really, we can all enjoy this dessert!

I highly recommend that you make the pavlova a day in advance as it takes quite long to cool. Just like any meringue, pavlova bakes at a low temperature. Due to it's texture though, it is quite delicate and is susceptible to moisture and temperature changes. For this reason, once the baking time is up, you need to turn the oven off and leave the pav in there until it cools down completely. No opening the door! If you make it the night before, it can cool in the oven over night. It takes a good few hours to cool so don't rush it. Nobody wants melted cream dripping off their pav!

This dessert has a high sugar content, so smaller portions are recommend. It can easily serve up to 16 people so it's great for a party or special gathering. If you don't have a lot of eaters at your home, you can do what I did - decorate half the pav and keep the other half for another day. I'm sure you won't have trouble getting rid of it!

Tropical Pavlova
Serves 16
6 egg whites
1 & 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp cornflour (check for gluten free)
1 tsp white vinegar

1 cup cream, whipped (use coconut cream for dairy free version)
1 mango, diced
3 Tbs passionfruit topping
toasted coconut

Preheat oven to 130 degrees Celsius (not fan bake). Line a baking tray with baking paper, and draw a 18-20cm circle on it using a plate as a stencil. Set aside.

Place your egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer. Use a clean glass bowl if you're using a hand mixed. Start whipping the egg whites on medium speed until they become frothy. Gradually add caster sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, while the mixer is on. Once all sugar has been added turn the mixer up to high speed and beat for 10 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved and the meringue is very thick and glossy. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the cornflour and vinegar.  Using the beater from the mixer, by hand, gently fold in those last ingredients until combined. Your meringue is now ready!

Take your bowl over to your baking tray. I like to dot a bit of meringue on the under side of my baking paper so it will stick to the tray. Spoon the rest of your meringue mixture into the circle on the baking paper, making sure the base is covered well. I like to hollow out the middle a bit so it's more bowl shaped. If you like you can smooth the mixture out to create a flat surface or do some swirls if you're feeling fancy.

Place your tray in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the pav in there to cool completely without opening the oven door. It's best if you leave it to cool over night. Don’t worry if the pavlova has a few cracks in it – this is completely normal. It's actually a sign that the top is gonna be nice and crunchy! The cracks will be covered with cream, so it will still look pretty anyway.

Once the pav has cooled, you can top it with with your whipped cream and fruit. A sprinkling of toasted coconut and a few sprigs of mint are a nice touch but you can leave it out if you don't have it. Serve immediately. Store any leftovers in the fridge. If you're making this a few days ahead of time, store the pav in a large dry, air-tight container and add the toppings just before serving.



Apple Blueberry Crumble


It's common knowledge that when fruit is in abundance, I make dessert. It's also common knowledge that I love using spices in my baked goods. So it should be no surprise to you that this recipe contains both, along with a crunchy topping too.

Crumbles, or crisps as they call them in the west, are the easiest way to use up a lot of fruit. Due to the simplicity of the recipe, crumbles can easily be adapted to suit your dietary requirements. I like to keep mine plant based, so I often use coconut oil, margarine and maple syrup instead of butter or sugar. There is very little difference in the overall taste though, so no matter what you choose to go with, you won't be missing out.

I've made this recipe several times over. I usually stick to using 6 apples, but this time I reduced the amount of apples and added some blueberries instead.  You can stick with all apples, or use any other berry of choice. Blueberries are in season now, so it's a good time to use them if you like them! You can use frozen if you have them on hand. No need to defrost them either!

The best part of this recipe is that it's really simple to make. It's one of those, dare I say, dump-and-go recipes. The hardest part of the recipe is actually peeling and chopping all the apples. If you've got kids, or a loving partner, now's the time to get them in the kitchen to help with all that peeling and chopping!

Apple Blueberry Crumble
Serves 8
4 medium apples, cored, peeled and sliced (I use pacific rose)
2 cups blueberries (use any fresh or frozen berry of choice, or two more apples instead of the berries)
1 tbsp butter, melted (use margarine, or coconut oil if vegan)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 cup maple syrup (substitute with caster sugar if need be)
Juice of half a lemon

1 cup standard flour (use almond flour, or GF flour for Gluten Free option)
1/3 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup shredded coconut
2/3 cup sliced almonds (save some to sprinkle on top)
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
120g butter, melted (use margarine, or coconut oil if vegan)

Preheat oven to 180ºC. First we make the crumble. In a medium bowl place your flour, sugar, coconut, almonds and walnuts in a bowl. Pour over the melted butter and rub the mixture with your fingertips until it resembles course breadcrumbs. Set Aside.

In a large bowl, place all your filling ingredients. Give it a good toss so that it's all coated evenly. Pour it into a 2L capacity baking dish. Crumble over the topping and place in preheated oven for 25-30minutes. The topping should be golden brown when it's done.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, custard or even coconut yoghurt.



Vegan Raspberry Bounty Bites


I was definitely a bounty bar kinda girl. Mention coconut and chocolate and I'm down. Now take it once step further and add some raspberries and now you've got me hooked! Coconut, raspberry and chocolate are actually a match made in heaven. These little bites are perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the coconut, sharpness of the berries and bitterness of the dark chocolate. It makes for the perfect snack when you're feeling peckish between meals. The great thing about it is not only is it super easy to make, it's vegan, and it's pretty healthy too! These bites don't contain much sugar due to the minimal use of a natural sweetener. I chose maple syrup for my sweetener but you could always use stevia, or honey if you're not vegan. I used 78% dark chocolate which is also quite low in sugar, you can of course up the cocoa percentage if you're a fan of dark chocolate. 

This is actually my take on a recipe from Nadia's Healthy Kitchen. The recipe is fairly simple and can easily be adapted to suit your needs. Nadia makes hers into chocolate bars, but I decided to portion control mine and make them bite sized. You can of course make yours in any shape you want. You can even get creative and use different shaped chocolate moulds if you're in the mood. If you really couldn't be bothered though, you can easily turn this into a slice by simply putting the coconut mixture into a loaf tin and then pouring the chocolate over, freezing the whole thing, then cutting it into your preferred size. Voila!

I've actually made this more than once! The first time I made a two layer bounty bar with a vanilla layer and then a raspberry layer on top. It was ok, but my taste buds weren't satisfied. I really wanted to up the anti with the raspberry flavour and make it shine. I ditched the layers and played around with the quantities a bit. I eventually found a good balance by using more raspberries and adding some freeze dried raspberry powder to add more depth of flavour. This is optional but highly recommended. Not only does it make the bites look pretty, but the taste is phenomenal! The rest of the ingredients are fairly basic so you shouldn't have a problem sourcing them. Now you really have no excuse not to make this!

Raspberry Bounty Bites (Adapted from Nadia)
Makes 36 bites
2 cups (235g) desiccated coconut
1/2 cup (56g) coconut flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (235ml) full fat coconut milk
1 cup (140g) raspberries – fresh or frozen
1/3 cup (75g) coconut oil
1/3 cup (80ml) maple syrup
3 Tbs raspberry powder
200g dark chocolate
freeze dried raspberries to decorate

Place all the ingredients, except the chocolate, into a medium saucepan on medium heat. Stir the mixture and mash the berries as you go. Once it's all combined take it off the heat and place into your mould of choice. I used silicone mini cupcake moulds. Place the mixture in the freezer for one hour to freeze completely. 
Once the coconut mixture if frozen, pop it out of it's mould. Cut into slices if you didn't use individual moulds. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and set aside. Melt your chocolate either in a bain marie or in the microwave. Generously coat each bite with the chocolate and set on the lined tray. Decorate each bite with some crushed freeze dried raspberry. Once all the bites are coated and decorated place them back in the freezer to set. It should take about 30 minutes to set. Once it's set you can have it immediately and store any left overs in the fridge for up to a week.


Pear and Raspberry Cake


By now you have probably figured out that I love baking with fruit. Apples, oranges, plums, bananas, berries, basically any fruit that I can get my hands on, it all ends up in my baked goods. Pear and raspberry is actually a great combo, which I'd never used before until I made this cake. It was a surprisingly good combo! The sweet pears and the sour raspberries work perfectly together with this buttery cake. Needless to say, this cake didn't last long, it was gone with 48 hours...

The cake in this recipe is a basic butter cake. The best thing about basic recipes like this is that it can easily be tweaked to suit your needs. You can change up the fruit, add some spice, or simply have it plain! I've made this recipe a few times now, mostly with the pear and raspberries but I recently used the same recipe to make a lemon blueberry cake instead. It was a very summery cake indeed. You can try other fruit combinations, peach and raspberry will be my next stop, but the options are endless. You can also add some spice to the mix, such as cinnamon or even ginger. Pear and ginger would work great too! Honestly the combinations are endless. Have fun with it I say!

Pear & Raspberry Cake (From Laced With Sugar)
Serves 8-10
125 grams butter, softened
160 grams sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
100g sour cream
150g standard flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 small can sliced pears, drained
1 cup frozen raspberries (do not defrost)

Preheat oven to 180˚C.
Grease and line your cake tin with baking paper (I used a 23cm round tin. Square tins work too)

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and creamy. Add in eggs one at a time, beating until each one is incorporated into the batter. Add in the sour cream and mix until combined. Mix in the flour ensuring there are no air pockets in the mixture. Lastly fold through the raspberries. Pour batter into cake tin. Smooth out with a spatula. Arrange your pears on top of the cake. No need to push them down as the cake will rise around it.

Bake in your preheated oven for 50-60 minutes. Test for done-ness by inserting a skewer int he middle of the cake - it should come out clean.
Cool in tin. Dust with icing sugar if you wish. Cut and serve. It's lovely served warm with a scoop of ice cream!



Pumpkin Bread


I find the word bread often confuses people. We think of bread as something you make sandwiches with, which is true. But in the baking world, banana bread, or in this case pumpkin bread, isn't for sandwiches. It's simply a tea loaf you can enjoy with your cuppa in the afternoon.

I'm a big bread fan! I've been making banana bread for years and have since branched out to many more bread and loaf tea time treats. These loaves often contain fruit like, bananas, apple and now pumpkin. After making pumpkin waffles, it made perfect sense to use the leftover puree in a bread!

This pumpkin bread has that vibrant orange colour from the pumpkin and has a very slight pumpkin flavour. It's super moist due to the pumpkin, but also the apple sauce. I wanted this loaf to remain healthy so I have used an unrefined sweetener, maple syrup. You could also use honey, however this will change the flavour. I would recommend a honey that doesn't have too strong a flavour. Sticking with the unrefined theme, I have used whole wheat flour here. Standard flour will work too, but I urge you to try the whole wheat if you can. It adds a nutty flavour to the loaf.

The recipe is simple and healthy with just a few ingredients. The loaf cooks at a lower temp and for just 50 minutes. You really have no excuse left not to try it.

Healthy Pumpkin Bread (Adapted from Cookie and Kate)
Serves 10
⅓ cup vegetable oil (coconut oil and olive work too)
½ cup maple syrup (honey works too)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin purée (homemade or store bought)
¼ cup milk of choice (I used almond milk)
¼ cup apple sauce
1 ½ tsp pumpkin spice blend
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour (I use atta)
½ cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 160 C.
Grease and line a 9 inch loaf tin. Set aside

In a large bowl whisk together oil, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin puree, milk and apple sauce.
To the same bowl add your pumpkin spice, baking soda, salt, flour and walnuts. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix together until combined. Avoid over mixing as this will result in a tough bread. 
Once combined pour the batter into your lined loaf tin and bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes. To check if done place a skewer in the middle and it should come out clean.
Allow to cool in tin, then slice and enjoy!


Apple Berry Sponge Pudding

Every now and then I end up with a recipe that is a crowd pleaser time and time again, like this one, or this one. Well now I have another to add to the list! I love this dessert because not only is it warm and cozy for these winter nights, but it has 3 of my favourite dessert components - fruit, cake and custard. Who doesn't love that?

This pudding is basically "stewed" fruit with a layer of vanilla sponge on top. It's warm and delicious served with cream, custard or ice cream. The best part is that it's super simple to make! In fact, I would go as far as saying this recipe is fail proof. Even when you think it's gonna flop, it never does. Trust me!
This pudding is a great way to use up any excess fruit you may have on hand. Pretty much any fruit will do, apples, pears, berries, stone fruit etc. The recipe is basic enough that you can get creative with different fruit and spice combinations if you're up to it.
Today's one is a simple apple berry mix with some cinnamon in there for good measure. I prefer to have some texture in the fruit layer rather than just having fruit mush, so I chose apples that remain firm once cooked. Apples like granny smith or fuji work great for this. I used pacific rose as it's readily available to me. I like to pair this apple with berries that have some tartness to them. Blackberries and raspberries are great, but I have a bag of mixed berries on hand, that included blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. All together it makes for a great mix of sweet and tart for the fruit layer. With the addition of the soft vanilla sponge and custard on top, well it's pretty much heaven.

Apple Berry Sponge Pudding (Adapted from Bite)
Serves 8
Fruit Mixture
2 large apples (I used pacific rose)
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
500g mixed berries (I used frozen)

Sponge Top
125g butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
sliced almonds to decorate

Heat the oven to 180C. Lightly butter a 2L-cup capacity oven-proof dish.

Peel, core and cube your apples. Place apples in a saucepan with the water, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Cook on medium heat until the apples have softened. Add in your mixed berries and continue to cook until the berries have softened. It will take about 5-6 minutes.
While that's happening, make your sponge top.

Using a hand mixer, beat sugar and butter in a medium bowl until pale a fluffy. Add egg and beat until combined. Add flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture. At this point you should have a fairly thick mixture. Add milk, and mix in. You should have a batter that is off a soft drop consistency, kinda like buttercream. Use more milk if necessary to loosen mixture. You definitely don't want a pourable batter though!
Once correct consistency is reached, your fruit will likely be ready. Spoon fruit into your oven proof dish. Do not add all the liquid, you want the fruit to be a little wet, but not swimming in liquid. (Reserve the extra liquid to use as a berry sauce when serving!) Working as quickly as possible, spoon sponge batter over the fruit mixture in the dish and spread out. It's easiest if you drop spoonfuls around the edge of the dish first and work your way in. Don't fret if the batter starts to melt, it will come together in the end.
Lastly, sprinkle over the almonds and place dish in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the sponge is golden and springs back when lightly touched.
Serve warm with cream, vanilla custard or ice cream.




Baked Lemon Cheesecake

Cheesecake is by far the creamiest dessert ever. I often make cheesecakes that don't require baking, simply because it's quicker, however it just doesn't compare to a baked cheesecake. Baked cheesecakes always taste more creamy and indulgent, so whenever I can, I choose baked.

People shy away from baking cheesecake because it can be a bit tricky. The most common issue people face with baked cheesecake is that it has cracked, or the texture is crumbly rather than smooth. There are a couple ways to combat this. I'm going to share 3 methods that have proven to always work. You pick the one that is most convenient for you.

The best way is to bake the cheesecake is in a water bath. Using a water bath is a fail safe way of ensuring that the cheesecake has baked evenly, and it also prevents it from cracking.
This can often be a bit of a challenge, as when you use a springform tin, even if you cover the bottom with tin foil, water can still find it's way into the cheesecake and you end up with a soggy base. You do get some raised tins, which are helpful in this situation, but they aren't easy to find.

The second method is to bake the cheesecake on a lower heat and allow it to cool in the oven. The main reason for cracks in cheesecake is simply because of the temperature change. Cheesecake is not like a flour based cake, it's much less stable, so when you take it from a very hot temperature to a cold temperature it will crack. The trick it so allow temperature to decrease gradually. To do this, simply turn the oven off after baking and leave the door slightly ajar. Allow the cheesecake to cool as the oven cools. Once it's come to room temperature you can remove it and pop it in the fridge.

There is one last fail safe when it comes to cheesecake cracking, and that is to loosen the cake from the tin. This is what I do, coz it's quicker. Basically once it's done baking, remove it from the oven and run a knife along the rim of the tin. This will loosen the cake from the tin. Do not open the tin. Just leave it to cool on the counter. Often if you don't do this, the cheesecake sticks to the tin and as it cools it starts to shrink and crack.

So now that you have 3 options on how to ensure you have the perfect cheesecake, pick one and give it a go. It's really not as complicated as it sounds, and the reward is of course, amazing.

Baked Lemon Cheesecake (Adapted from Taste)
Serves 8 -10
250g plain biscuits
100g butter, melted
500g cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 tsp lemon zest (about 3 lemons)
3 eggs
1/4 - 1/3 cup lemon juice, depending on how sour you like it (about 3 lemons)
Whipped cream to serve

Preheat oven to 160°C. Line the bottom of a round springform pan and grease the sides. Any pan between 20cm - 25cm will do. Smaller pan will give thicker slices.

Using a processor, or by hand, crush your biscuits until it's a fine sand texture. Add your melted butter and mix until combined. Press mixture into pan and refrigerate until needed.

In a large bowl beat cream cheese, sugar and lemon zest until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating between additions. Add lemon juice and beat once more until combined. Remove tin from fridge and pour the cheesecake mixture over the base.

Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes until filling is just set. there should still be a slight wobble in the middle. Cool in oven with door slightly ajar. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until cold. Serve with whipped cream. I decorated mine with some lemon zest too!



Salted Caramel Hummingbird Cake


A hummingbird cake is like the ultimate tropical spice cake. It's made with banana, pineapple and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. It's almost like a banana cake crossed with a pineapple upside down cake. You really have to try it to know what it's like. I know many people were confused by the combination of pineapple and banana, but when they ate the cake, they were instant fans.

This past weekend we were invited to a dinner party, so of course I was going to make cake. I made two hummingbird cakes, both pictured above. I got a lot of positive comments from the guests. The stand out in this cake is actually the frosting. You'll remember this frosting from my apple spice cake. It's super smooth, creamy, slightly savoury and slightly sweet. My cream cheese frosting is not like your average. I don't use butter or sugar in mine. I prefer to use a liquid sweetener such as maple syrup in this case. I'm not a fan of gritty frosting that is sickly sweet which is why I usually opt for a liquid sweetener. I don't see the need for butter in a cream cheese frosting so I never use it. To me, my version of cream cheese frosting is the perfect balance of sweet and savoury and turns out many other people agree with me!

Now, I definitely think you should make your own salted caramel for this frosting. It's super easy to make and in my opinion it tastes much better than your store bought variety. But if you couldn't be bothered, you could actually leave it out and use more liquid sweetener instead. I would definitely recommend adding a pinch of salt to your frosting though.

Salted Caramel Hummingbird Cake (Adapted from SBA)
Serves 12-14
370g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 & 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups mashed banana (4 ripe bananas)
one 285g can crushed pineapple
3 large eggs
2/3 cup (160ml) vegetable oil
1 cup (200g) brown sugar
3/4 cup (150g) caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups walnuts, chopped

Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
750g cream cheese (3 blocks)
3/4 cup salted caramel
2/3 cup maple syrup

For the cakes-
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line your 3 baking tins. I used three 25cm tins. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt together in a large bowl.
Whisk the rest of the cake ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Fold in your walnuts.

Evenly divide the batter between your 3 tins. Place in preheated oven and bake for 26-29 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Rotate pans halfway through to ensure even baking.
Once cakes are out of the oven allow them to cool in the tin. Once they are cooled you can remove them from the tins and cut the tops off to make it level.

For the frosting-
In a large bowl place your cream cheese and beat until smooth. Add half of your salted caramel and maple syrup. Beat until well combined. The frosting will thin out with the addition of the caramel and maple. Taste, and if required, add more of the salted caramel and maple until you get a slightly sweet and slightly salty frosting. Once the desired taste is reached, cover it with glad wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Once cakes are cool and frosting is made, it's time to put it all together. Place the bottom layer on your cake board/plate and top with some frosting. Smooth out with a spatula before placing the next layer of cake on top. Repeat the process until your 3 layers are stacked. With the remaining frosting cover your cake as you see fit. This would make a really pretty naked cake too! I stuck with the traditional look and covered the entire cake in frosting.

Decorate as you see fit. Flowers did the trick for cake 1, but cake 2 was decorated with walnuts. If you're planning on doing some piping you will need to make more frosting as the amount specified in the recipe it just enough to cover the cake.



Jumbo Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins 1.JPG

I love cafe style muffins. Of course they are insanely large and are a million calories, but they just taste so good! Blueberry is usually my muffins of choice simply because blueberries are awesome. Also the combination of cinnamon and blueberries in this muffin just smells insanely good. You won't be able to contain yourself. Also, your house will smell great!

This is the simplest recipe ever. Sally is my favourite baker and her recipes have never failed me. I have used this recipe a million times over with different add ins and it's always been good. I especially love the high temperature trick as it gives the muffins that nice dome shape. It's perfect!

Jumbo Blueberry Muffins (From SBA)
Makes 6-7 Texas size muffins
3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup (120ml) canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g fresh or frozen blueberries (do not defrost)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Spray your muffin tin of choice with non-stick spray or line with muffin liners. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until combined. Add in milk, oil, and vanilla and mix. Mixture will be pale and yellow. Now gently fold the wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Try not to overmix as it will result in tough muffins. The batter will be VERY thick and lumpy. Don't panic! It's meant to be like this.

Lastly, fold in the blueberries.
Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling all the way to the top. Bake at 200 degrees for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 180 and continue to bake for 25-26 minutes until tops are lightly golden and centers appear set. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan before devouring.



The Ultimate Apple Spice Cake

Apple Spice Cake
Apple Spice Cake Slice

I've made this spice cake before and I loved it so much I decided it should be my birthday cake. As much as I appreciate the work that goes into the popular fondant style cakes that are being made in various shapes and colours, that simply doesn't tickle my fancy. I like my cake to look like cake. Simple, clean, uncomplicated in design and booming with flavour is what I go for. I think that is why I lean towards fruit or spice flavoured cakes. Taste means a lot more to me that aesthetics and this cake really packs a flavour punch.

Let's talk about the cake. There are 3 main components; the spice cake, the apple filling and the cream cheese frosting. The cake itself is super moist. The spices are on point and if you leave the cake over night the flavour just develops and it's even better.

The filling was my way of making this the ultimate apple cake. The cake itself doesn't have any apple flavour. If you didn't have the apple filling, you'd have no idea the cake had any traces of apple in it. The addition of the apple filling really took this cake up a notch.

The frosting is something I could eat out the bowl! Yeah, OK, I did eat some out of the bowl, but it's seriously good! The creamy, salty, sweet combination really compliments the spice cake.

Basically, this cake is life, and you need to experience it. Now's good.

The Ultimate Apple Spice Cake (Adapted from SBA)
Serves 12-16
312g standard flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup vegetable oil
350g packed brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla essence
1 cup grated apple (grated carrot or courgette works too)

Maple Cinnamon Apple Filling
2 Tbs butter
2 apples, peeled and diced
2 Tbs pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon

Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
500g cream cheese, block style, softened
2/3 cup salted caramel
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 Tbs whole milk, optional

For the cake-
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line your cake tin/s. I used one 23cm spring form tin. If you're making this a layer cake, definitely use 2-3 tins so the cakes cook evenly.

Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

In another bowl, place the oil, brown sugar, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until it's all nicely combined. Fold in the grated apple (or courgette/carrot if you're substituting) until combined.

Pour batter into tin and bake for 60 minutes, if using one tin. If using multiple tins, 30-40 minutes is a good guide. check at 30mins and then every 10 minutes after that. Baking times will vary, so keep an eye on it. Test cake with a skewer to see if it's done. The skewer should come out clean.

Once done, remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the filling-
Melt butter in a fry pan on medium heat. Once melted add the apples, cinnamon and maple syrup. cook until apples are soft. Set aside for when you're assembling the cake. You might find that the butter hardens when you put it in the fridge, simply reheat in the microwave for 10 seconds before using it in the cake.

For the frosting-
In a large bowl place your cream cheese and beat until smooth. Add half of your salted caramel and maple syrup. Beat until well combined. The frosting will thin out with the addition of the caramel and maple. Taste, and if required, add more of the salted caramel and maple until you get a slightly sweet and slightly salty frosting. Once the desired taste is reached, if the frosting is too stiff for your liking, add the milk, else it's ready to slather onto your cake.

Once cakes are cool, it's time to put it all together. If you made one cake, you will need to cut it into 3 layers.

Place the bottom layer on your cake board/plate and top with some frosting. Dollop half the apple filling all over the frosting.

Place the second layer over this, and top with frosting then apples, then the final layer of cake. With the remaining frosting cover your cake as you see fit. This would make a really pretty naked cake too!

Decorate as you see fit. Flowers did the trick for me, but walnuts/pistachios and some salted caramel drizzled on top can work too. If you're planning on doing some piping you will need to make more frosting as the amount specified in the recipe it just enough to cover the cake.