Perfect Baked Cheesecake

This cheescake is a labour of love but, in my opinion, is absolutely worth the effort as it yields a perfectly silky, tangy cheesecake with a delicious cinnamon crumb. Start the recipe the day ahead as it needs to set in the fridge overnight.

Ingredients (serves 12)
60g wholemeal plain flour
40g brown sugar
pinch sea salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
50g butter, melted

140g caster sugar
Pinch sea salt
500g full-fat cream cheese, cubed
2 eggs
300ml full-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Juice of 1 medium-large lemon

250ml full-fat sour cream (extra)
10g caster sugar (extra)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract (extra)

Decorate with berries, poached stone fruit or passionfruit pulp, if desired

Method
Preheat the oven to 150°C (fan-forced). Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

To make the crumb base, combine the flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and melted butter in a wide mixing bowl and mix together with your hands to a sticky crumble. Scatter the mix onto the prepared tray and bake for 25 minutes until evenly brown.

While the base is baking, spray a 20cm round cake tin with cooking oil spray and line the base and side with baking paper (I like the paper to extend well above the sides of the tin to make cake removal easier).

Put the sugar, salt and cream cheese into a large bowl and slowly cream the mix with an electric beater on low, scraping down the side of the bowl often with a flexible plastic spatula. Stay on low speed and add the eggs in two batches, scraping well between each addition, then add the sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and give the mix a final hand whisk to ensure there are no lumps. Add the lemon juice to taste and set aside.

Once the crumb is baked and cooled, blitz in a food processor to a fine crumb. Reduce the oven to 120°C.

Fill the base of the prepared cake tin with the crumb, packing it down lightly with the back of a dessert spoon to ensure an even spread. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the crumb-lined cake tin.

Make a water bath by placing a piece of paper towel in the base of a high-sided roasting tin. Sit the cheesecake in the roasting tin (the paper towel will stop it from sliding around) and pour in enough hot water to come one-third up the side of the cheesecake tin. Carefully lift the tin into the oven and bake for about 60 minutes, or until the edges are set but it still has a slight wobble in the centre.

To make the topping, mix together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla with a plastic spatula until runny and pourable. Starting from the outside, pour the topping over the cheesecake, smoothing it gently towards the centre with a spatula. Return to the oven and bake for a further 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool in the water bath until it reaches room temperature. Gently cover the cheesecake with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, cover a flat plate or board with clingfilm. Gently remove the paper from the side of the tin (this should loosen the cheesecake) and place the prepared plate/board on top of the cheesecake. Flip the cheesecake over quickly and place the plate on the work surface. Tap the base of the tin and lift a side of the tin – with a wiggle the cheesecake should release. Peel off the baking paper and invert again onto a serving plate so it is top-side up.

Serve chilled either by itself or topped with fruit (I like berries, poached stone fruit or passionfruit pulp). Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from ‘The cheesecake (that you will love the most)‘ in Beatrix Bakes

See?! Even pups can’t resist this cheesecake!!

Black Forest Meringues

Cherry season is always too fleeting for my liking, but while it’s here, I try to make the most of it. These black forest meringues showcase the cherries in a light and delicious summer dessert.

Ingredients (makes 6)
50g dark chocolate
2 egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
½ cup caster sugar
Cherry Sauce
12 cherries, pitted and quartered
1 dessertspoon white sugar
1 dessertspoon water
1 teaspoon cornflour
Whipped Cream
250ml thickened cream
1 dessertspoon icing sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Dark Chocolate Sauce
200g dark chocolate melts
200ml thickened cream
To serve
24 cherries, pitted and halved
6 whole cherries

Preheat oven to 120°C. Line 2 large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

Melt dark chocolate in the microwave or on the stove.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer or electric hand beaters to whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the cream of tartar and then the sugar, a spoonful at a time, whisking until dissolved before adding the next spoonful (test this by rubbing a little of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger).

Use a dessert spoon to spoon the mixture onto the prepared trays. Shape into 6 even meringues with a slight well in the centre. Spoon melted chocolate onto each meringue and use a skewer to swirl it through the meringue mixture.

Place the meringues into the oven and reduce the temperature to 90°C. Leave the oven on for 1 hour or until the meringues are crisp and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Turn the oven off and allow the meringues to cool gradually in the oven (approximately 2 hours).

While the meringues are in the oven, make the cherry sauce by blitzing the cherries and water in a stick blender until smooth. Add to a small saucepan with the sugar and cornflour and stir constantly until thickened. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Just before you are ready to serve, make the whipped cream and chocolate sauce. To make the whipped cream, blitz the cream, sugar and vanilla with a stick blender until thickened. To make the chocolate sauce, combine the chocolate and cream in a small saucepan over a low heat until melted and combined.

To serve, smear the cherry sauce on the plate and place a meringue on top. Top with whipped cream, halved cherries and then drizzle with chocolate sauce. Add a whole cherry on top and enjoy!

Meringue recipe adapted from Taste.com.au ‘Basic Meringues’ and Donna Hay’s ‘No Fail Meringue Mixture’.

Inspiration from Matt Preston’s ‘Individual chewy Black Forest meringues’ in delicious.

Pastel Iced Sugar Cookies

Inspired by Peggy Porschen and her stunning parlour that I visited while in London in 2017, these beautiful cookies are as much fun to make as they are to eat.

Ingredients (makes approx. 50 small cookies)
250g butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
3 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons mixed spice
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
Star, Christmas tree and/or snowflake cookie cutters

1 330g packet royal icing mixture (I use Queen’s brand)
Pastel food colouring (I used blue, green, pink and purple)
Silver cachous

Method
Cream butter, sugar & vanilla using electric beaters until well combined.

Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Divide into 2 roughly equal pieces, cover with glad wrap (or plastic wrap) and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat oven to 180°C (160 fan-forced). Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin until you reach your desired thickness (I like mine around 6-7mm) and cut out shapes using cookie cutters.

Place onto a baking tray (they don’t have to be spread out much as they don’t really expand) and bake for 5-8 minutes, or until golden.

Once the cookies have cooled, make the royal icing according to the packet instructions. Divide the icing evenly into 5 bowls (or however many colours you want) and add a small amount of food colouring to all but one.

Spread a thin layer of the coloured icing onto your cookies with a butter knife and leave to harden. Spoon the white royal icing into a piping bag (I didn’t use a nozzle and just cut a tiny hole in the bag) and pipe on decorations. Decorate with silver cachous or however you wish. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’ on Alice & Lois.com

Christmas Light Cookies

These cookies are so easy to make, but look amazing. They’re absolutely perfect as end of year gifts, served on Christmas day or left out for Santa.

Ingredients (makes approx. 30 large round cookies)
250g butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
3 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons mixed spice
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

3 cups icing sugar
Boiling water
Mini M&Ms (cut in half)
Black edible marker

Method

Cream butter, sugar & vanilla using electric beaters until well combined. Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Knead gently for 1-2 minutes on a lightly floured bench and then divide into 2 roughly equal pieces, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C (160 fan-forced). Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin until you reach your desired thickness (I like mine around 5-6mm) and cut out circles using a large round cookie cutter. Repeat until you have used all the dough.

Place onto a baking tray (they don’t have to be spread out much as they don’t really expand) and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden.

When the cookies are cooled, make your icing by adding boiling water gradually to the icing sugar until you have the desired consistency (thin enough to spread easily, but not so thin that it runs off the cookies).

Once the icing has dried, gently draw the string of the Christmas lights with the black marker. Add the halved M&Ms as the ‘lights’ alternating whether they hang from above or below the marker line. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’ on Alice & Lois.com
Decorations inspired by various versions on Pinterest

Melting Snowman Cookies

These lightly spiced Christmas cookies are almost too cute to eat (almost…. sorry Frosty!)

Ingredients (makes approx. 30 large round cookies)
250g butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
3 cups plain flour
3 teaspoons mixed spice
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

3 cups icing sugar
Boiling water
30 white marshmallows
2 packets of mini M&Ms
Edible textas (black and orange)

Method

Cream butter, sugar & vanilla using electric beaters until well combined. Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Knead gently for 1-2 minutes on a lightly floured bench and then divide into 2 roughly equal pieces, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C (160 fan-forced). Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin until you reach your desired thickness (I like mine around 5-6mm) and cut out circles using a large round cookie cutter. Repeat until you have used all the dough.

Place onto a baking tray (they don’t have to be spread out much as they don’t really expand) and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden.

When the cookies are cooled, make your icing by adding boiling water gradually to the icing sugar until you have the desired consistency (thin enough to spread easily, but not so thin that it runs off the cookies).

To decorate, spread icing onto the cookie so it looks like a puddle, attach the white marshmallow to the ‘back’ and 2 M&M buttons. When the icing has dried completely, gently draw on the arms and facial details (my snowmen are surprised, but you can add whatever expressions you like). Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’ on Alice & Lois.com
Decorations inspired by various versions on Pinterest

Spiced Mocha Christmas Cake

To me, this is Christmas in a cake – fragrantly spiced with the familiar flavours of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, and bejeweled with Christmas colours. This cake is perfect as a Christmas table centrepiece, shared with friends or colleagues with a cuppa, or left as a snack for grateful Santa.

Ingredients
3/4 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
1½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
100g butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons sour cream
125ml hot water
75g dark chocolate
1 teaspoon instant coffee (I use decaf)

5 tablespoons icing sugar
1½ – 2 tablespoons hot water
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 dried oranges, halved
A good handful each of dried cranberries, pepitas, shaved coconut and flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 160ºC fan-forced. Line a 24cm loaf pan with baking paper.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, bicarb and mixed spice. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each, and then beat in a third of the flour mixture followed by a tablespoon of the sour cream, repeating until all used.

Put the water, chocolate and instant coffee in a pan and heat gently until the chocolate melts. Fold this into the cake batter, being careful not to over beat.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, lightly toast the coconut and almonds in a non-stick saucepan.

To make the icing, combine vanilla icing sugar and 1½ – 2 tablespoons of hot water. Leave it to thicken slightly before pouring on the cake. Decorate with orange pieces, cranberries, pepitas, shaved coconut and flaked almonds. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from ‘Christmas Cupcakes’ in Nigella’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess

Blueberry Swirl Meringues

These meringues have just the right level of chewiness and a subtle hint of blueberry flavour. I served them like mini pavlovas topped with whipped sweetened cream and fruit, but they’re also delicious on their own.

Ingredients (makes 12 large meringues)
35g blueberries
1 tablespoon water
4 egg whites, room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 cup caster sugar

Method
To make the blueberry compote, heat the blueberries and water in a small saucepan over a medium heat until broken down and soft. Blitz with a stick blender until you have a smooth consistency.

Preheat oven to 120°C. Line 2 large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer or electric hand beaters to whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the cream of tartar and then the sugar, a spoonful at a time, whisking until dissolved before adding the next spoonful (test this by rubbing a little of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger).

Use a dessert spoon to spoon the mixture onto the prepared trays (approximately 2 dessert spoons’ worth of mixture per meringue). Shape into circles of the desired size. Spoon approximately 1½ teaspoons’ worth of blueberry mixture onto each meringue and use a skewer to swirl it through the meringue mixture.

Place the meringues into the oven and reduce the temperature to 90°C. Leave the oven on for 1 hour or until the meringues are crisp and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Turn the oven off and allow the meringues to cool gradually in the oven (approximately 2-3 hours). Don’t worry if they collapse a little bit – that’s what a generous covering of cream and fruit is for!

Recipe adapted from Taste.com.au ‘Basic Meringues’ and Donna Hay’s ‘No Fail Meringue Mixture’.
Feel free to omit the blueberry if desired.

Lemon Meringue Sponge Cake

Light as a feather sponge cakes sandwiched with tangy lemon curd and enrobed in pillowy torched meringue – what’s not to love?! I made this cake for my 26th birthday and it has become a favourite. It is best to make the lemon curd the day ahead and the meringue just before serving.

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Ingredients (serves 12)
Lemon Curd (makes 2 cups)
1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 cup fresh lemon juice (approx. 4-5 lemons)
Zest of 2 lemons
115g butter, melted

Sponge Cake
4 eggs
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup self-raising flour
1 tablespoon cornflour
10g butter
1/3 cup boiling water

Meringue
3 egg whites
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Kitchen blowtorch (optional)

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To make the lemon curd, whisk together the sugar and eggs in a large microwave safe bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in lemon juice, zest and melted butter. Cook in the microwave on full power for 50 second intervals, whisking after each interval. You will know your lemon curd is ready when it coats the back of a metal spoon (approximately 3-5 50 second intervals). Pour into a sterile jar or container and allow to cool to room temperature before covering it with a lid and storing it in the fridge.

To make the sponges, line and grease two deep 20cm round cake pans. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).

In a large bowl, beat eggs with electric mixer until thick and foamy. Gradually add sugar, about a tablespoonful at a time, beating until sugar is dissolved between additions (total beating time approx. 10 minutes). Sift flour and cornflour together over the egg mixture. Gently fold to combine. Combine butter and water and gently fold through egg mixture.

Divide mixture evenly into prepared pans. Bake sponges about 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. As soon as the sponges are baked, turn out upside-down onto wire racks covered with baking paper to cool.

Once the cakes are completely cool, glue one sponge to a cake stand or serving plate using lemon curd. Spread a generous layer of lemon curd over the top of the cake and gently place the second sponge on top, taking care not to squeeze out too much of the curd from the middle (scrape away any excess from the sides).

To make the meringue, use electric beaters to whisk the egg whites and sugar in a large heat-proof bowl until frothy. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place over a medium heat. Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler. Whisking constantly with the beaters, heat the egg white mixture until the sugar dissolves completely and it is warm to the touch. Take the bowl off the saucepan, add the vanilla and mix on high until you have medium-stiff glossy peaks.

Working quickly, heap the meringue mixture onto the top of your sponge cake and gently spread down the edges with a metal spatula until the cake is completely covered. Create some texture with the meringue on the sides and top of the cake (this is one time where you don’t want it to be perfectly smooth). Use a blowtorch on low-medium to toast the meringue until it is your desired colour. Serve immediately.

Note: the cake is best eaten on the day it is made as the meringue changes texture, however it is still good the following day. Store covered at room temperature.

70EE0982-1FB5-4191-8F81-B888612A48AB_1_105_cLemon curd adapted from My Baking Addiction microwave lemon curd.
Sponge cake adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Best Ever Sponge Cake’.
Meringue icing adapted from The Cake Blog lemon meringue cake.

Pork & Fennel Sausage Rolls

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Ingredients (makes 12)
1/3 large fennel bulb, trimmed, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¾ tablespoon fennel seeds, chopped
500g pork mince
1 egg
¼ cup breadcrumbs
3 sheets ready rolled puff pastry, thawed, halved
1 egg, lightly whisked
Poppy seeds, to decorate

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Method
Preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Combine fennel, garlic, fennel seeds, pork, egg and breadcrumbs in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

Spoon pork mixture onto one side of the pastry and shape into a log. Roll to enclose. Brush some of the whisked egg on the overlapped edge to secure.

Use a sharp knife to cut the roll in halves. Cut slits in the top pastry at approximately 1cm intervals. Place on the tray. Continue with remaining mince and pastry sheets.

Brush the sausage rolls with remaining whisked egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until puffed, golden and cooked through. Serve warm with tomato sauce or chilli jam.

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Adapted by Mum from a Taste.com.au recipe

Marbled Fondant Cookies

Fondant sugar cookies have become a popular choice for celebrating special occasions; used widely for engagement parties, birthdays, weddings, gifts and party favours. It’s easy to see why as they travel and keep well and are completely customisable.

I made a batch yesterday as Mother’s Day gifts for my Mum and Grandmas and experimented with the popular marble fondant trend which is surprisingly easy to achieve. The most challenging part for me was getting my message evenly spaced and straight, so I would encourage you to give yourself plenty of time to get this right (don’t make them in a rush like I did!)

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Ingredients (makes approx. 30 large round cookies*)
250g butter
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
3 cups plain flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

Vanilla Glaze
½ cup icing sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Boiling water

Fondant Icing
Approx 300g fondant icing (I used Coles ‘Ready to Roll Icing’ in white)
Food colouring (I used Queen Pink food colour gel)
Letter press set (I used a Wiltshire 72 piece set)

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Method
Cream butter, sugar & vanilla using electric beaters until well combined. Add the egg and beat until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, mix sifted dry ingredients into wet ingredients until a dough forms. Knead gently for 1-2 minutes on a lightly floured bench and then divide into 2 roughly equal pieces, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C (160 fan-forced). Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin until you reach your desired thickness (I like mine around 5-6mm) and cut out circles using a large round cookie cutter. Repeat until you have used all the dough.

Place onto a baking tray (they don’t have to be spread out much as they don’t really expand) and bake for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden.

While the cookies cool, make your vanilla glaze by combining the glaze ingredients in a small bowl and adding boiling water until you have a thick syrup consistency.

Divide your fondant icing into 3 roughly equal parts. Colour one deep pink (or whatever colour you’re using), one a medium shade and leave the other white. Roll the fondant pieces into sausage shapes and twist together. Bend in half and repeat 3 times with the twisting and bending process until you see a nice blending, marbled effect.

Roll out your fondant using a rolling pin on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar until 3-4mm thick. Use the same round cutter as for the cookie to cut out circles of fondant.

Brush each cookie with a small amount of the vanilla glaze and the top with fondant. Press down gently to ensure the fondant has adhered completely to the cookie. Repeat until all cookies have been decorated.

If desired, use a letter press to stamp a message onto the cookies. Admire your handiwork and enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’ on Alice & Lois.com
Decorations inspired by various versions on Pinterest

*I made 24 large and 12 small/medium round cookies in this batch