This bread is without a doubt the lightest, fluffiest loaf you’ll come across and with its shiny golden exterior and featherlight white centre, it’s as much a joy to look at as it is to eat. It’s also really simple to make so is perfect for bread making beginners.
This version uses a tangzhong method of making a roux out of flour and water to ensure soft, fluffy bread every time.
Ingredients (makes 1 large loaf) Tangzhong 25g bread flour 90ml water
Loaf 300g bread flour 7g sachet of fast acting yeast 120ml milk (lukewarm, not hot) 30g butter 40g caster sugar 1 egg
Glaze 1 egg
Add water and flour to a small saucepan, whisk until free from lumps. Place over a low-medium heat and stir constantly until it thickens. Set aside to cool.
Once cooled, add the egg to the tangzhong and stir until combined. Add the bread flour, yeast, milk, butter, sugar and eggy tangzhong mixture to the large bowl of a standmixer. Use the dough hook of the standmixer on a medium spped to combine and knead the dough until it is no longer sticky (approximately 10-15 minutes). Add a small amount of extra flour if required.
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (approximately an hour).
Once it has risen, punch down the dough and divide into three equal pieces. Set the other pieces to one side and use a rolling pin to shape a piece into an oval shape.
Fold one side of dough over to halfway across the remaining dough then fold the other side on top(see photos below). Roll up the piece of dough from the short side (bottom to the top of the middle picture below) as you would a cinnamon roll.
Repeat with the other pieces of dough then put all three rolls of dough in an oiled loaf pan.
Cover and leave to rise again until the loaf is just reaching the top of the pan.
Once nearly risen, preheat oven to 175°C (160°C fan-forced). Lightly beat the egg and brush the top of the loaf with egg wash.
Bake the loaf for approximately 30 minutes until golden brown. If it browns too fast, loosely cover with foil for the last part of cooking. Turn onto a cooling rack to cool before slicing.
Recipe adapted from Caroline’s Cooking ‘Japanese milk bread’.
There’s something very freeing about a cake that’s supposed to crack, and that’s exactly what this one does – right before your eyes. But it’s the incredibly light, cloud-like texture of this cake that makes it so special (and gives it its name) due to its airy, flourless batter and whipped cream topping.
Ingredients (serves 8-10) 250g good quality dark chocolate, chopped 125g butter 6 eggs 175g caster sugar 300ml thickened cream 2 teaspoons icing sugar Fresh berries Edible rose petals (optional)
Method Preheat oven to 180°C (160 fan-forced). Grease and line the base of a 23cm springform tin.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once melted, remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until smooth and glossy.
Separate 4 of the eggs and set the whites aside. Using electric beaters or a stand-mixer, beat the yolks and remaining 2 whole eggs with 75g of the caster sugar on high speed for 3-4 minutes or until really creamy. Gently fold in the melted chocolate mixture.
In another bowl, whisk the eggwhites until they’re just frothy, then slowly add the remaining caster sugar while whisking until the mixture holds soft peaks.
Add a table spoon of the whisked eggwhites to the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then gently fold in the rest, maintaining as much of the air in the mixture as you can.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 35 minutes or until it is no longer wobbly around the edges (but still soft in the centre).
Leave the cake in the tin to cool.
Once cooled, whip the cream and icing sugar until very thick and velvety.
Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the tin and carefully transfer to a serving plate.
Top with the whipped cream, berries and rose petals. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from the ‘Chocolate pomegranate cloud cake’ in Special Delivery by Annabel Crabb and Wendy Sharpe
Black forest cakes are a tried and true favourite for a reason – especially when cherries are in season and at their most flavoursome. This is another cake using the Milk Bar method of cutting out rounds from a large rectangular sponge cake, ensuring you get perfectly even layers every time.
While I made this into a 2-layer cake this time as it was a gift for a couple in quarantine who didn’t need a giant cake, the recipe actually makes a 3-layer cake.
Ingredients (serves 12-14) Equipment 9 x 13 inch “quarter sheet pan”* A 6 inch cake ring* 6 inch wide acetate roll Sticky tape
Chocolate Ganache 120g dark chocolate melts 90ml cream
Cherry Jam 225g fresh or frozen cherries (pitted and chopped finely) 25g caster sugar 1 tablespoon cornflour
Buttercream 115g butter, roughly chopped, room temperature 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 cups icing sugar 1 tablespoons full-fat greek yoghurt, room temperature ½-1 tablespoon full-cream milk, room temperature
Cherry MilkSoak 40ml full-cream milk 25ml kirsch (cherry liqueur) or cherry juice
10-12 large fresh cherries, to decorate
Chocolate Ganache Add the dark chocolate and cream to a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the chocolate is nearly melted. Remove from the heat and continue stirring until the chocolate is fully melted and smooth. Set aside (at room temperature).
Cake Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Spray the base and sides of a quarter sheet pan with cooking oil and line the base with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer, or a large bowl if using a hand mixer, on a medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat on high until combined.
Add the buttermilk, oil, 2 tablespoons of your pre-prepared chocolate ganache, vanilla and coffee into a small bowl and stir until the coffee has dissolved. Add this chocolate mixture into the the butter mix and beat on high for a few minutes, scraping down the bowl as required.
Sift the flour, cornflour, cocoa powder and baking powder into the batter. Beat on low until the mixture has just combined, and then pour the batter into the lined cake tin. Smooth out flat and tap the tray gently against the bench a few times to get out any air bubbles.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes and then remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Cherry Jam Place the cherries, caster sugar and cornflour into a saucepan over a medium heat. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat slightly and continue to stir until thickened.
Buttercream Beat butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until butter is pale and creamy.
Add vanilla and 1 cup of icing sugar. Beat on a low speed to combine, then turn up to medium and mix for 30 seconds. Add the remaining icing sugar along with the greek yoghurt. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. If too stiff, add milk. If too wet, add extra icing sugar. It should be fluffy and spreadable.
Cherry Milk Soak Add milk and kirsch to a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Assembling the Cake Place your cake on a large chopping/bread board. Using the picture below as a guide, use a 6 inch metal cake cutter to cut out 2 rounds of cake and then two half pieces.
Place the 6 inch cake ring onto a plate or cake stand. Line the inside of the cake ring with a ‘collar’ of acetate, taping the edges together to join.
Place the two half pieces of cake at the bottom and press down firmly. If there are any gaps, use extra cake scraps to fill in the holes and press down very firmly to make one even layer. Carefully remove the cake ring (but leave the acetate).
Spoon 2 tablespoons of the milk soak over the cake layer. Allow to soak for about a minute. Spoon approximately one third of the chocolate ganache onto the cake layer, and spread evenly, ensuring the ganache gets right to the edges of the cake. Spoon half of the cherry filling on top of the ganache and spread out evenly to the edges of the cake. Add a few tablespoons of buttercream on top and smooth with a spatula to ensure the layer is (roughly) even.
Repeat this process for the second layer: cake, cherry milk soak, chocolate ganache, the remaining cherry jam and a thick layer of buttercream. If you need to, attach another round of acetate on top of your current cake collar (using tape to join the two collars) to ensure it is tall enough that all cake is supported.
Add the final layer of cake, spoon with the remaining milk soak and then top with the remaining chocolate ganache. Decorate with a ring of cherries and place in the fridge to set for a few hours. While the cake sets, add any remaining buttercream to the cake offcuts and enjoy as a snack!
Remove the cake from the fridge and gently peel away the acetate strip/s just before serving. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from What Charlotte Baked ‘Black Forest Naked Cake’. Buttercream recipe adapted from The Sweetest Menu ‘Milk Bar Birthday Cake’.
*If you don’t have a quarter sheet pan and/or round cutter, you can use two 8 inch/three 6 inch round cake pans
Ingredients (makes approx. 25 large round cookies) 125g butter ½ cup sugar 1 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 egg 1 ½ cups plain flour 2 teaspoons mixed spice 1 teaspoon baking powder
Approx 200g white fondant icing Icing sugar Vanilla essence Red and green food colouring
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 vanilla essence and icing sugar until you have a thick syrup consistency.
Divide your fondant icing into 3 roughly equal parts. Colour one red, one green and leave the other white.
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. Stamp with a ‘Merry Christmas’ cookie stamp or decorate as desired. Repeat until all cookies have been decorated. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from ‘The Best Valentine Sugar Cookies’ on Alice & Lois.com
I’ll be the first to admit that I was skeptical. As a brownie purist and cookie lover, I couldn’t imagine how ‘brookies’ could improve on perfection. Well, I’m happy to say that I was proven wrong! Brookies combine the rich chocolate fudginess of a brownie with the convenience and shelf life of a cookie. They also have both the crunchy side parts AND the fudgy middle of a brownie in the one morsel, so there’s no more fighting over who gets which brownie. To sum up, I’m mad at myself for resisting this trend for so long when they are JUST. SO. GOOD.
I ate (and, regretfully, shared) this batch too quickly to experiment, but I’m going to try making brooking sandwiches next time, with a peanut butter or caramel filling.
Ingredients(makes 24) 225g dark chocolate melts 75g butter, at room temperature ¾ cup brown sugar ¼ cup white sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 eggs, room temperature ¾ cup plain flour ¼ cup cocoa powder 1 teaspoon instant coffee 1 teaspoon baking powder
Method Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 20 second bursts, stirring between each burst, until smooth and entirely melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, add the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar together with electric beaters on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy (about 2 minutes). Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat on high speed for a further 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then pour in the melted chocolate and mix on medium-high speed for 2 full minutes.
Add in the flour, cocoa powder, coffee and baking powder and beat on low speed until just combined. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C (160 fan-forced) and line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.
Once chilled, roll the dough into roughly golf ball sized balls and place on the tray, leaving room to spread (I fit about 6 per tray). Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until the edges appear set and the top has a cracked appearance (don’t worry that the centre is soft, it will set as it cools). Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Enjoy!
Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week (but I doubt they’ll last that long!)
Recipe adapted from ‘My Favorite Brownie Cookies’ on Sally’s Baking Blog.
I’ve always been intrigued by floral desserts and these cupcakes, inspired by the Hummingbird Bakery, have been on my to-bake list for years. With socially distanced spring picnics all the rage at the moment, I thought now was the perfect time to give them a try. I admit, I was a little worried that they might taste like Grandma’s soap, but I’ve made sure the lavender flavour is subtle, resulting in a delicious vanilla cupcake with a floral back note. If you’re keen to up your picnic game and try something new, give these a go!
I bought my dried lavender flowers from the Essential Ingredient online store, but it’s available at many gourmet and specialty food stores.
Icing ¼ cup milk ¼ tablespoon dried lavender flowers 100g butter, softened ¾ tablespoon vanilla extract 4 cups icing sugar A few drops of purple food colouring 24 small sprigs of fresh lavender (to decorate)
Method Put the milk and dried lavender in a jug, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for 2 hours. Repeat with the milk and dried lavender for the icing (in a separate jug/bowl).
Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan forced). Line two 12-hole muffin trays with patty pans. Strain the lavender infused milk (for the cupcakes, discarding the dried lavender) and allow the milk to reach room temperature.
Sift together the flour and baking powder. In a different bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes. Add the caster sugar about a third at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. After the last of the sugar has been beaten, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar has dissolved. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat until just combined.
Add approximately a third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat on a low speed until combined. Add half of the infused milk and beat until combined. Repeat this process until all of the flour and milk is just combined.
Spoon mixture into the patty pans (filling each about ¾ full) and bake for 18-20 minutes or until the top springs back when touched. Remove the cupcakes from the trays immediately and cool on a wire rack.
To make the icing, strain the remaining lavender infused milk (once again discarding the dried lavender). Cream the butter for 1-2 minutes in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Add the infused milk, vanilla and half of the icing sugar and beat for at least 3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 minutes or until the icing is a spreadable consistency. Add the purple food colouring a tiny bit at a time until the desired colour has been achieved. Add extra milk (plain/not-infused is fine) if too dry or extra icing sugar if too wet.
Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, use a spatula to apply a generous layer of icing to each cake and top with a sprig of fresh lavender. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from the Crabapple Cupcake Bakery. Flavour inspired by the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
These rustic, café style baked beans are perfect for a hearty breakfast or easy dinner and are a great way of incorporating more beans in your diet. They’re full of rich tomato, garlic, bacon and herb flavours and are so delicious that even a traditional canned baked bean hater, like myself, will enjoy them.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 brown onion, finely chopped 100g bacon, chopped* 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves ½ teaspoon dried oregano 400g tin chopped tomatoes 2 x 400g tins cannellini beans, rinsed Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper Thick-cut bread (I like pane di casa), to serve
Preheat the oven to 160°C (140°C fan-forced).
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Add the bacon and cook for a further 5 minutes or until crisp. Add the garlic, thyme, and oregano and cook for a further minute.
Add the tomatoes and half a cup of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the rinsed beans, season with salt and pepper and transfer into a large casserole dish with a lid. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
While the beans are baking, toast the bread.
To serve, top two pieces of toast with the beans. Add further salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!
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.
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
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.
Ingredients (serves 12) Lemon Curd (makes 2 cups) 1 cup white sugar
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
1/3 cup boiling water
Meringue 3 egg whites
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Kitchen blowtorch (optional)
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.
Lemon 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.