Easter Cupcakes 3 Ways

Wow, I can’t believe it’s only 1 week until Easter Sunday!

Here are 3 simple ways to decorate cupcakes for Easter. I used my favourite dark chocolate mud cupcake recipe for the cakes, but they would be equally delicious vanilla or any other flavour of your choice! When I made mine, I just made one batch of the cakes and divided each of the frosting recipes by a third, but feel free to triple the cake recipe if you want 3 full batches, or pick and choose which decorations you’d like 🙂

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Dark Chocolate Mud Cupcakes Ingredients (makes 12)
90g softened butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
⅔ cup self-raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
⅓ cup almond meal
⅔ cup water
60g dark chocolate melts, melted

Method
Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan-forced). Line a 12-hole muffin tin with patty pans.

Beat butter, sugar & eggs in a large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add in sifted flour and cocoa, almond meal, water and melted chocolate.

Fill each patty pan approximately ⅔ of the way full. Bake for around 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Stand cakes in tin for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

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Dark Chocolate Easter Nest Cupcake Ingredients (makes 12)
Dark chocolate frosting: 
125g butter, softened
1 ½ cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons dutch cocoa powder
2 tablespoons milk

Chocolate Easter Nests
1x 100g packet Chang’s Original Fried Noodles (or equivalent)
2 tbspns crunchy peanut butter
200g dark chocolate melts
1 bag of Cadbury “Mini Eggs” (or equivalent)

Method
To make the nests, microwave peanut butter and chocolate until melted. Mix until it is a smooth paste. Add the noodles and coat them well.

Spoon the mixture onto grease-proof paper and shape into nests small enough to fit on top of your cupcakes. Top with three mini eggs and then place in the refrigerator until set.

While the nests are setting, make the frosting. Beat butter in a medium bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in icing sugar, cocoa and milk in two batches. If the frosting is too stiff, add more milk. If it’s too runny, add more icing sugar or cocoa.

To decorate, spread each cupcake generously with frosting and top with a nest.

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Bright Springtime Easter Cupcake Ingredients (makes 12)
Vanilla frosting:
125g butter, softened
1 ½ cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla essence (or flavouring of your choice)
Green food colouring

To decorate:
Wilton grass icing nozzle tip
1 bag of Cadbury “Mini Eggs” or equivalent

Method
To make the frosting, beat butter in a medium bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in icing sugar, vanilla and milk in two batches. Add green food colouring until desired colour is reached (start slowly, the colouring is often very strong!) If the frosting is too stiff, add more milk. If it’s too runny, add more icing sugar.

Spoon frosting into a piping bag with a grass tip attachment. Pipe frosting vertically onto the cupcake until each cupcake is fully covered. Top with 3 mini eggs.

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Bunny Behind Cupcake Ingredients (makes 12)
Vanilla frosting:
125g butter, softened
1 ½ cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla essence (or flavouring of your choice)
Green food colouring

Decorations
12 Ferrero Raffaello white chocolate truffles (or equivalent)
36 white mini marshmallows
Pink icing pen (or alternatively use pink icing, fondant or melted pink candy melts)
Milo (Australian malt powder) or crushed chocolate biscuits, for the soil

Method
To make the frosting, beat butter in a medium bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in icing sugar, vanilla and milk in two batches. Add green food colouring until desired colour is reached (start slowly, the colouring is often very strong!) If the frosting is too stiff, add more milk. If it’s too runny, add more icing sugar.

Top each cupcake with a generous layer of frosting, but be sure to leave aside a small amount of frosting to use as ‘glue’. Smoothe the top of each cupcake so you have a flat surface to work with. Sprinkle milo or crushed chocolate biscuits onto the frosting (but leave a border of green around the edge); this makes the ‘soil’. Firmly place a Raffaelo truffle into roughly the centre of your soil on each cake.

To make the tails, shape mini marshmallows into spheres and press firmly down. Attach each tail, using a small amount of frosting (so the green doesn’t show), to the Raffaelos (I chose to do mine to one side but I have seen them work top and centre).

To make the bunny’s feet, flatten 2 white marshmallows per bunny and squeeze in the centre to give a foot-like shape. Using your icing pen, draw on foot and toe-pads. Attach, toes down to the Raffaelos using a tiny amount of icing on the top back-side of each foot.

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Frosting recipes adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Cupcakes by Colour’ cookbook.

 

Chocolate Mint Sundae Cupcakes

Chocolate and mint are a match made in heaven and these cupcakes combine them in one deliciously compact package. The cupcakes are a dark chocolate mudcake which, to me, are the perfect blend of light and rich. They are then topped with a generous layer of fluffy mint buttercream (which tastes exactly like peppermint ice-cream I might add), melted dark chocolate and a crumbled Flake bar – what’s not to love?! These are also a gorgeous shade of green – perfect for St Patrick’s Day!

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Ingredients (makes 12)
90g softened butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
⅔ cup self-raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
⅓ cup almond meal
⅔ cup water
60g dark chocolate melts, melted

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
125g butter, softened
1 ½ cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk
Peppermint essence
Green food colouring

To decorate
1 large Flake bar, crumbled
30g dark chocolate melts, melted

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Method
Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan-forced). Line a 12-hole muffin tin with patty pans.

Beat butter, sugar & eggs in a large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add in sifted flour and cocoa, almond meal, water and melted chocolate.

Fill each patty pan approximately ⅔ of the way full. Bake for around 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Stand cakes in tin for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

Once cakes are fully cool, you can make the frosting. Beat butter in a medium bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in icing sugar and milk and a drop each of peppermint essence and green food colouring  (or until desired colour and flavour reached).

Ice cupcakes with a generous layer of frosting. To decorate, dollop each cupcake with dark chocolate and spread it so that it looks as though it is dripping slightly down the cakes. Top with crumbled Flake.

Enjoy!

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Adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Cupcakes by Colour’ cookbook

Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

I love this cake, it’s so quick and effortless to put together and is absolutely delicious (also, because it contains carrot it’s basically a salad, right?!). It’s great at any time of year but is particularly good as a treat around Easter for someone who doesn’t like chocolate or for people who are chocolated out!

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Ingredients (serves 8-10)
1 ½ cups grated carrot (lightly packed)
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 cup plain flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
¾ cup vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:
40g (1 tablespoon) softened butter
60g cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia)
1 teaspoon lemon rind
1 ½ cups icing sugar, sifted

To decorate (if desired):
Extra chopped walnuts
The thin end of a small carrot cut into 2 halves
4 sprigs of coriander

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Method
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).

Grease an 8″ round cake pan with margarine and line the base with baking paper.

Combine eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla & sifted dry ingredients  in a large bowl & beat on low speed.

Stir in carrots & walnuts. Mix well.

Pour mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for approx. 40 – 45mins or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes, before placing it on a wire rack to cool completely.

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To make the cream cheese frosting, beat butter & cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add in the lemon rind and icing sugar and beat until smooth. Spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake.

If desired, decorate by placing the finely chopped walnuts around the edge of the cake and the carrot pieces in the centre of the cake with two coriander sprigs above each carrot. Enjoy!

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Recipe from Aunty Cynth

Chocolate Berry Meringue Nests

These meringue nests are the perfect conclusion to a summer dinner party or BBQ. They are light, flavoursome and not too sweet when paired with fresh berries and whipped cream. I especially love that they look like you’ve gone to a lot of effort (when they’re really very simple to make) and they don’t heat up the house too much while baking!

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Ingredients (makes 4)
3 egg whites
¾ cup (165g) caster sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla essence
1 tablespoon dark dutch cocoa powder
300ml thickened cream, whipped
Fresh berries, to decorate (I used strawberries, raspberries and blueberries)

Method
Preheat oven to 120 degrees C (~100 degrees C fan-forced). Line a large oven tray with baking paper.

Beat egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer or mixmaster until soft peaks form. Add caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until the sugar dissolves between each addition. Add in vanilla essence and cocoa powder.

Divide the meringue mixture into 4 roughly equal sized dollops on the baking tray, and spread into circles approximately 11cm in diameter.

Bake in the oven for approximately 45 minutes or until meringues are firm. Turn off the oven and let meringues cool for 5 minutes, before letting them cool completely with the door ajar.

Top meringues with whipped cream and berries. Enjoy!

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Adapted from ‘Chocolate Berry Meringues’ in The Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook ‘Best Food’, 2005 reprint.

Xmas Reblog: Christmas Crinkle Cookies!

Gosh these are good. So good in fact that I’m reblogging them and I STRONGLY urge to make yourself a batch, stat! You can thank me later…

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Ingredients (makes approx. 36 cookies)
100g butter
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 tspn vanilla extract
2 eggs
100g dark chocolate, melted
1 ¼ cups flour, sifted
2 tspns baking powder, sifted
¼ cup cocoa, sifted
1 tablespoon red food colouring (depending on strength & desired colour, mine could have been a bit redder)
150g extra dark chocolate, roughly chopped
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup icing (powdered) sugar

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Method
Place butter, brown sugar & vanilla in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 3-5mins or until light and well combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the melted chocolate and beat until combined. Slowly add the flour, baking powder, cocoa and food colouring and beat until a smooth dough forms.

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Fold through the chocolate chunks and refrigerate, covered, for an hour.

Preheat oven to 160°C fan-forced. Roll dessert spoons of the dough into the white sugar, shape them gently into balls and then toss in icing sugar. Place them on lined baking trays allowing plenty of room for spreading.

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Bake the cookies for 12-14mins or until the surface is cracked and the edges are slightly crispy. Don’t worry if the centre of the cookies looks undercooked, it will harden while cooling and be deliciously chewy. Enjoy!

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Adapted from the Red Velvet Crackle Cookies recipe in the Donna Hay Magazine Dec/Jan 2014

 

Brown Sugar Pecan Praline Cookies

These cookies are soft and buttery, topped with a brown sugar frosting & crunchy pecan praline. I made these ready for having with tea & coffee at out ‘Chrisgiving’ celebration tonight and I must say I am pleasantly surprised – they are very more-ish and feel appropriately Thanksgiving-y.

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Ingredients (Makes around 35-45 cookies)
For the cookies
250g butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups plain flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup finely chopped pecans

For the praline
1 cup pecans
½ cup white sugar
2 tablespoons water
For the icing
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup milk
1 tbsp butter
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
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Method
In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

Add the flour and baking soda and beat until combined. Gently stir in the chopped pecans.
Cover the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 30mins.
While the dough is chilling, make the pecan praline. To make the praline, combine all ingredients in a frying pan over a moderate heat and stir well. Continue to stir as the water evaporates and the pecans become covered in white sugar. Continue stirring as the sugar melts to form a toffee around the pecans. Once all of the almonds are coated in toffee, pour onto a tray lined with baking paper to cool. Once cool, cut up with a knife or blitz in a food processor to make a fine crumb.
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I then blitzed these in the food processor for a few seconds to get a finer crumb
Preheat the oven to 160°C fan-forced. Line 3 large baking trays with baking paper. Shape dough into roughly golf-ball sized balls, flatten them with the palm of your hand and place them approximately 4cm apart on the lined baking trays.
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Bake for 10-15 mins or until fully cooked and lightly browned at the edges. Cool for 10 mins on their trays before transferring to a cooling rack.
To make the icing combine brown sugar and milk in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to a boil and boil for approximately 3 mins, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in butter.
Add in the icing sugar and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. If the frosting is too thin, add more icing sugar (but leave it for a few minutes before doing this as it will thicken over time). If too thick, add more milk.
Spread icing on each cookie and top with praline. Let the icing set fully before storing in an airtight container. Enjoy!
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Adapted from ‘Brown Sugar Pecan Cookies’ from The Recipe Rebel

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Pic from Inspired Taste.net (mine got eaten too quickly!)
Pic from Inspired Taste (mine got eaten too quickly!)

Even though Thanksgiving isn’t really a holiday celebrated here in Australia, this year my family decided to get in on the action anyway as a number of us will be away over Christmas (and we like to party with or without good reason). So, in keeping with tradition, I made a pumpkin pie for dessert. I had no idea what to expect having never tried one before, but gave a highly rated recipe I found online a go and was really pleased with the result. If I didn’t know there was pumpkin in there (and it wasn’t orange) I wouldn’t pick it because it’s really the vanilla and spices that come to the fore, with the pumpkin providing a creamy, sweet back note. Pumpkin-y or not it was delicious and I’ll probably make it again when pumpkins are in season.

Ingredients (serves 8-10)
Pastry
1 ½ cups plain flour
3 tspns icing sugar
140g cold butter, chopped
1 egg yolk
2 tblspoons water

Filling
2 cups pumpkin puree (made by roasting pumpkins, scooping out the flesh, blitzing it into a smooth paste in a blender and then putting it in a sieve for an hour or so to remove the excess juice)
3 large eggs
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar
¾ cup cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
A pinch of salt
1 quick grind of pepper (i.e. a really small amount, sounds odd but it works!)

Method
To make the pastry, put the flour, icing sugar, butter, yolk & water into a food processor and process until it just comes together. Press into a ball, knead gently on a floured surface until smooth & then refrigerate, covered in clingfilm, for 30 mins.

Preheat the oven to 200°C fan-forced. Lightly grease a 23cm flan tin or pie dish.

When the pastry has chilled, roll dough on a floured surface until large enough to line the tin (I often have a bit left over). Lift pastry into tin, ease into the sides & then trim the excess.

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Cover the pastry with a sheet of baking paper and fill with pie weights or uncooked rice. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs and sugar until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree, cream, vanilla and spices and stir until all incorporated.

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Pour mixture into pastry case (obviously remove the baking paper and pie weights first!!) and smooth over the top. I ended up having a bit of pumpkin filling left over that I might use in muffins or something (if I don’t eat it all first :P)

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Bake pie in the oven for 10 minutes before reducing the heat to 160°C fan-forced for around 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

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Let cool completely before transferring to a serving platter and then serve at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy!

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Pic from Inspired Taste (mine got eaten too quickly!)

Pastry recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe & Filling Recipe from Inspired Taste.net

Quick & Easy Indian Flatbread (Roti)

This recipe really gets a workout in our household because 1. we love Indian food, 2. we especially love having it with bread to soak up all the curry sauce deliciousness, & 3. this recipe is incredibly quick, easy & non-scary as it doesn’t involve yeast. We make rotis particularly when having butter chicken, but it’s great with all kind of curries. Thankfully, it only takes about 15-20 minutes from start to finish so is perfect for while your curry is simmering away.

It also travels really well as I discovered last week when we took butter chicken & rotis over to my grandparents’ house for dinner (see pic below), and will keep in cling wrap at room temperature for a couple of days (perfect for any leftover curry!)

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Ingredients (makes 12 rotis)
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups plain flour
½ teaspoon salt
200ml water

Method
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, salt, water and oil until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a flat, floured surface and knead until smooth and pliable (around 10 minutes).

Preheat frying pan on medium-high heat.

Divide the dough into 12 equal parts, form into rounds and then roll each out to 15-20cm rounds with a rolling pin.

Cook the roti for about a minute on each side, or until it has some dark brown spots on each side. Serve warm.

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Recipe adapted from ‘allrecipes.com.au’.

Peanut Butter ‘Pupcakes’

This may seem like an odd thing to post, but anyone who knows me knows that I’m a very devoted ‘dogmother’ to gorgeous toy cavoodle named Bailey:

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Bailey turned one on Thursday and we hosted a ‘pawty’ for her at a local dog park (check our her invitations below!!).

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To celebrate the occasion I made a batch of mini ‘pupcakes’ iced with Bailey’s beloved peanut butter. There are a huge number of dog-friendly cupcake recipes out there but this one appealed to me as it’s relatively healthy, refined sugar free & uses ingredients I had on hand.

1x the recipe made 4 large cupcakes & 24 mini cakes. The texture is very dense as the the binding agents are banana & apple sauce, but they certainly passed the puppy taste test! They also don’t brown much in the oven (even when they’re done) as there’s no refined sugar to ‘caramelise’, so insert a skewer to ensure they’re cooked.

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Ingredients
Coconut oil (to grease pans)
1 ½ cups wholemeal flour (or white flour if desired)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 very ripe banana, mashed
¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 cup water

To decorate
Organic, smooth peanut butter
Small dog biscuits

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One of the pawty guests, GB, enjoying a pupcake
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Bailey eating a pupcake

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C (or 160°C fan-forced). Grease a 24-hole mini muffin tin & 4 holes of a muffin tin, with coconut oil/canola oil.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder.

In a large bowl, cream the applesauce, banana and maple syrup with electric beaters. Add a quarter of the flour mixture, followed by ¼ cup water and beat until combined. Repeat until all is incorporated.

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Bailey was more than happy to taste test!

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins, filling the mini muffin trays to very near the top and filling the muffin tins ¾ full.

Bake the mini cakes for 10-15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cook the large cupcakes for approximately 25 minutes.

Once cool, “ice” with a thin layer of smooth peanut butter and top with a dog biscuit.

Watch your furry friend enjoy!

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Happy Birthday Bailey!!

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Recipe adapted from a number online; largely from Morsels & Moonshine.

Tangy Lemon Tart

Since moving to Adelaide, I’ve been lucky enough to have access to an abundance of homegrown lemons. In our rental house in 2013, our lemon tree provided perfect fruit almost all year round, and my Aunt & Uncle also grow outstanding citrus and always seem to have plenty to give away. This has meant lots of experimentation with lemon desserts and this one has to be one of my most popular! This tart has a strong, slightly tart lemon flavour and  gorgeously short, melt-in-your-mouth pastry. Serve dusted with icing sugar and with thickened cream or ice cream for a perfect dinner party dessert.

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Ingredients (Serves 12)
Pastry
2 cups plain flour
½ cup icing sugar, sifted
180g cold unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten

Filling
5 eggs
3 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
200ml freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
100ml freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
250ml pouring cream

Icing sugar, to dust
Double cream or vanilla ice cream, to serve

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Method
To make the pastry, process the flour, icing sugar & butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and process until the mix just comes together. Form the pastry into a disc, wrap in glad wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Spray a 27cm tart pan with a removable base with cooking oil. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface until 4mm thick and use to line the prepared pan. Trim the edge, then line with baking paper and fill with pastry weights (or dried rice). Bake for 15mins then remove weights and paper and cook for a further 5mins until golden. Set aside.

Reduce oven to 150°C.

To make lemon filling, place eggs, yolks & sugar into a bowl and stir until just combined (try to avoid creating bubbles). Gently stir in lemon and orange juices. Pour cream into a small saucepan and bring almost to the boil, then stir it into egg mixture. Using a fine sieve, strain lemon filling into a jug. Place tart shell onto an oven tray and pour in the filling.

Bake for 15mins, then carefully rotate to ensure even cooking. Bake for a further 10mins or until just set. To check, gently shake the tart; it should be slightly wobbly in the centre.

Cool the tart to room temperature, then dust with icing sugar and serve with double cream or ice cream.

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Adapted from Matt Moran’s Lemon Tart featured in MasterChef Magazine – Issue 3, July 2010.