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!!

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

Pumpkin & Spice Cupcakes

Hints of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice combine beautifully with the natural sweetness of roasted pumpkin and, when topped with a light and airy cream cheese icing, make these the Autumnal cupcakes of my dreams. Try and stop at one!

Note: it is best to make the pumpkin puree the day before.

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Ingredients (makes 12)
½ a butternut pumpkin (approx. 550g)
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing
225g full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
115g butter, room temperature
3 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon

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Method

To make the pumpkin puree, preheat oven to 180°C fan-forced. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Peel and de-seed the pumpkin and cut into 3cm pieces. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until pumpkin is golden and tender. Once cooled, blitz in a blender until silky and smooth. Refrigerate until required.

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with patty pans.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, bicarb soda and spices together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 cup pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently stir with a silicone spatula until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the 12 patty pans. Bake for 18-25 minutes, or until the cupcakes bounce back when touched. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin before transferring to a cooling rack.

To make the icing, add the cream cheese and butter to a large bowl and beat with a handheld mixer on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla, cinnamon and icing sugar and beat on low speed until just combined. Switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes until light and airy. If the icing is too runny, add extra icing sugar.

Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, spoon the icing into a piping bag fitted with a large star piping tip (I use Wilton 1M). Ice the cupcakes in a circular motion from the outside in for a softserve look. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from ‘Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting’ from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Speckled Egg Easter Cakes

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Happy (almost) Easter everyone! Today I’m sharing my super simple recipe for these adorable miniature chocolate cakes topped with a Flake nest and speckled eggs. To make it even easier, feel free to use a packet mix cake (I like Betty Crocker’s Devil’s Food Cake mix).

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Ingredients (makes 2 10cm cakes, 1 10cm cake and 12 cupcakes, or 24 cupcakes)
125g butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups caster sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup self-raising flour
½ cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup (160ml) water

90g dark chocolate melts
30g butter
1 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons hot water

1 packet Speckled Easter eggs (I used Darrell Lea)
3 Flake bars, lightly crushed

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Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160 fan-forced). Spray a 10cm round cake pan with cooking oil and line the base with a baking paper. Fill a 12-hole muffin tin with patty pans*.

Place the butter, vanilla, sugar, eggs, sifted flour and cocoa, and water into a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients are just combined. Beat the mixture for a further 3 minutes on medium speed until smooth and pale in colour.

Fill the round cake pan about 2/3 way full and divide the remaining mixture evenly among the patty pans. Bake the cupcakes for approximately 18-20 minutes and the mini cake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the chocolate icing. Place the chocolate and butter in a small heatproof bowl. Half-fill a small saucepan with water; bring to the boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer. Put the bowl of chocolate mixture on top of the saucepan and stir until smooth. Add a little of the sifted icing sugar and some of the water; stir until mixture is smooth. Keep adding the sifted icing sugar and the water, a little bit at a time, stirring, until the icing is spreadable.

When the cakes are completely cold, spread with chocolate icing using a metal spatula. Shape the Flake pieces into a nest on top of the cakes and top with speckled eggs. Enjoy!

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*Alternatively spray and line a second 10cm round cake pan, or prepare two 12-hole muffin tins with patty pans.

Cake and icing recipe adapted from Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Quick Mix Chocolate Cake’ and decoration inspiration from taste.com.au

Snickers Fudge Sauce

This is really more of a suggested combination of flavours than a real ‘recipe’ but it gets such positive reviews each time that I make it that I thought I should share it with you. It’s basically a Snickers bar in a sauce and is perfect draped over ice-cream with some crunchy salted peanuts, or added to another dessert to make it extra indulgent.

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Ingredients (makes a generous serve for 4-6 people)
175ml cream
100g dark chocolate
100g peanut butter (smooth or crunchy will work depending on your desired texture)
2½ tablespoons golden syrup

Method
Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan. Heat over a low-medium heat, stirring until melted and combined.

Serve with ice-cream, profiteroles, brownies or anything else you please. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Sundae’

 

Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes

I can’t believe it’s already March! 2019 is flying by and that means that St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and with it, my desire to tint food all shades of green.

While many of my St Patrick’s day recipes (such as my grasshopper pie, mint chocolate fudge and chocolate mint sundae cupcakes) rely on food colouring for their hue, these cupcakes get their colour entirely from the natural Japanese green tea powder, matcha.

I have wanted to make these extraordinary looking cupcakes ever since I received the Hummingbird Cupcake Bakery Cookbook in 2011, and finally had the opportunity to when farewelling a matcha-loving colleague last month.

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The cakes themselves only have a mild matcha flavour but the frosting really packs a punch. If you’re not a big matcha fan or want to appeal to a wider audience, I would recommend only adding in a fraction of the matcha powder into the frosting initially and adding more to taste. Or alternatively, frosting the cakes with vanilla buttercream instead.

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Ingredients (makes 12)
120ml milk
3 matcha green tea bags
100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140g caster sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
40g butter
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Matcha frosting
250g icing sugar
80 butter
20g Matcha green tea powder (plus extra to decorate)
25ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Method
Put the milk and green tea bags in a jug, cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 170ºC. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with patty pans.

Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and butter in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low until it reaches a sandy consistency with everything combined.

Combine the tea-infused milk (with tea bags removed) with the egg and vanilla extract. Slowly pour half into the flour mixture, beating until all ingredients are well combined. Repeat with the remaining milk mixture. Mix for a further few minutes until the mixture is smooth.

Spoon the mixture into the patty pans until two-thirds full and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cakes spring back when touched. Leave cakes in the tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat together the icing sugar, butter and matcha powder on a medium-slow speed until it comes together. Turn the electric beater down to low and gradually add in the milk and vanilla. Continue beating for a further 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Using a Wilton 2B icing nozzle, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes and sprinkle with extra matcha powder. Enjoy!

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Recipe adapted from ‘Green Tea Cupcakes’ from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook