Coconut and Raspberry Bread

This is a ‘bread’ like banana bread, in that it’s really more like a bread-shaped cake. Name aside, it’s super simple to make and perfect for brunch, afternoon tea or dessert. I like it because it’s deliciously moist and not too sweet, but feel free to dust it with icing sugar to make it extra decadent. thumb_img_2444_1024

Ingredients (serves 8-10)
1 ¾ cups desiccated coconut
1 ½ cups coconut milk (I use Vitasoy unsweetened coconut milk found in the longlife milk section at most supermarkets)
¾ cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 ⅔ cups self-raising flour
1 cup frozen raspberries

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Method
Add the coconut and coconut milk to a large bowl and stir to combine. Cover with Gladwrap and let it stand for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Spray a loaf pan with cooking oil and line with baking paper, ensuring you have overhang at both sides to help get it out.

Stir sugar, egg and vanilla essence in to the coconut mixture. Gently stir in the flour and then fold through the frozen raspberries.

Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted come out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then lift onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Dust with icing sugar to serve if desired. Enjoy!

thumb_img_2449_1024It’s also delicious toasted with margarine or butter!

Recipe adapted from a 2006 issue of Super Food Ideas.

Mini Quiches

These delicious quiches are perfect for picnics, high-teas or parties. Here I’ve provided the recipe for cheese & bacon mini quiches, which are probably the biggest crowd pleaser, but you can add anything you’d like to your quiches – I love spinach and semi-dried tomato as a vegetarian option.

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Ingredients (makes 36)
2 sheets puff pastry
5 rashers shortcut bacon, with fat removed
185g shredded cheese
3 eggs
½ cup thickened cream

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Method
Defrost pastry sheets at room temperature for approximately 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190°C fan-forced. Spray three 12-hole round-bottomed patty-pan/yorkshire pudding pans (see picture below) with cooking oil. Otherwise, muffin pans will work fine but you may need to adjust the size of your pastry rounds.

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Image Credit: Amazon.com

Dice bacon into 1cm squares. Cook until crispy (I tend to be lazy and use the microwave, but by all means cook in a frypan).

Once pastry has defrosted, cut out rounds with a 6cm cutter and press into prepared pans.

Divide bacon pieces evenly among quiche bases. Top with approximately 1 teaspoon of cheese per quiche.

Whisk together eggs and cream in a small bowl. Transfer into a small jug for easy pouring. Pour approximately half a tablespoon of egg mixture into each quiche base.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Let the quiches cool for 2 minutes in pans, then transfer to wire cooling racks.

Quiches can be served warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

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NB: Quiches keep for 1-2 days in an airtight container in the fridge, but are best eaten on the day they’re made so the pastry is crisp.

Recipe from my Mum, Anne Bills.

Powder Puffs with Strawberries and Cream

This is probably my most requested recipe and I feel terrible for having kept it in the Bills/Payne/James/Hockney family vault for so long! My Mum (and her mother and grandmother before her) makes powder puffs for special occasions and they are always incredibly popular. They’re dead easy to make and the “sponge biscuits” keep in an airtight container for ages**. The only trick is to fill them with cream far enough in advance so they soften up – then they’re like eating sweet, fluffy clouds. I love them filled with strawberries and cream, lightly dusted with icing sugar, but you could fill them with just about anything.

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Ingredients (makes approximately 45 sandwiched powder puffs)
3 eggs
¾ cup sugar
½ cup plain flour
½ cup cornflour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon bicarb soda

To fill
Whipped, sweetened cream flavoured with a drop or two of vanilla extract
Strawberries, thinly sliced

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Method
Preheat the oven to 200°C (or 180°C fan-forced). Line 3 large baking trays with baking paper (you will fill approximately 6 trays due to spreading, but I just rotate and re-use the trays).

Beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl with electric mixers until light and fluffy. Add in sifted flours, cream of tartar and bicarb soda and mix until just combined.

Drop ½ teaspoons’ worth of the mixture onto the prepared trays, leaving plenty of room to spread (I usually fit 12-15 on my large trays). Bake for 6 minutes* and then leave to cool slightly, before removing from the tray with a metal spatula and letting them cool completely on a wire cake rack. Repeat this process with the remaining mixture.

2-3 hours before serving, match each sponge biscuit with another of approximately equal size. Spread each ‘biscuit’ generously with thickened, sweetened cream and add sliced strawberries to one half before sandwiching them together.

Dust with a little icing sugar just before serving. Enjoy!

Notes:
*They will harden like a biscuit (they’re supposed to, don’t worry), but will soften when you add the cream later.
** Store in an airtight container with grease-proof paper between each layer so they don’t stickthumb_IMG_1897_1024.jpg

Adapted from a very old family recipe.

Neapolitan Easter Layer Cake

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This cake is surprisingly quick & easy to whip up and makes the perfect centre piece to an Easter celebration. This cake is very rich so small pieces are recommended, especially when consumed in addition to chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday!

Of course, this cake doesn’t need to be Easter-themed at all, just omit the mini eggs and decorate as desired.

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Ingredients (layer cake serves up to 20 + 6 cupcakes out of the vanilla cake mix)
For the white & pink layers
190g butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
410g caster sugar
4 eggs
1½ cups plain flour
¾ cup self-raising flour
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
¾ cup milk
Pink food colouring

For the chocolate layer
60g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
140g caster sugar
1 egg
100g self-raising flour
¼ cup cocoa
80ml water

For the vanilla buttercream
200g butter, softened
½ cup milk
1 tblspn vanilla extract
8 cups icing sugar

To decorate
150g dark chocolate
1 ½ bags Cadbury mini eggs, or easter eggs of your choice

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Method
Grease & line three 20cm cake tins and line a 6-hole muffin tin with patty pans. Preheat oven to 180°C or 160°C fan-forced.

To make the vanilla cake layers, add the butter, vanilla, caster sugar, eggs, flours, bicarb soda and milk to a large bowl. Beat for 1-2 minutes with an electric mixer until completely combined and lighter in colour.

Fill the 6 patty pans approximately ¾ full with cake batter and set aside.

Divide the remaining vanilla batter into halves and colour one half pink with food colouring (this time I only used a couple of drops, but in future I will put in more for a more vibrant colour). Spread white mixture into one prepared tin and pink mixture into another, and set aside.

To make the chocolate layer, add butter, vanilla, sugar, egg, flour, cocoa and water into a large bowl. Beat for 1-2 minutes with an electric mixer until completely combined. Spread into remaining cake tin.

Place the three large cakes into the oven and bake for ~40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. When they are half way cooked (i.e. after 20 minutes), put the cupcakes into the oven and let them cook for ~20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Cool cakes for 5 minutes in their tins, then gently turn out onto metal cooling racks to cool completely.

Once the cakes are cool, you can start on the frosting. Cream the butter for 1-2 mins in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Add the milk, vanilla and half of the icing sugar and beat for at least 3 mins (until the mixture is light and fluffy). Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 mins or until of a spreadable consistency. Add extra milk if too dry or extra icing sugar if too wet.

Spread frosting over the top of each of your cupcakes and top with a mini egg if desired.

To assemble the layer cake, put a small amount of frosting in the middle of a cake stand (or plate/cake board/ whatever you want your cake to be displayed on) and gently place your chocolate layer on top. Top the cake with a generous layer of frosting and smoothe it out to the edges so you have an even layer. Gently place the pink layer directly on top, ensuring that it is flat and in-line with the chocolate layer (if the cake is wonky at all, shave some of the cake off with a knife so it sits flat, or add more frosting where it is thinner). Top the pink layer with a generous dollop of frosting and, again, smoothe it out to the edges so it’s evenly spread. Gently place the white cake on top, again making alterations if necessary so that it is flat and even.

Coat top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting and don’t worry if you get crumbs in this layer (it is known as the ‘crumb coat’). Put the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes or until set. Top with another layer of frosting and smoothe with a palette knife so you have a neat, even surface. Return to the freezer for a further 10 minutes to set.

While the cake is in the freezer, melt your chocolate ready for the drizzle. Once your cake’s frosting is set, pour the melted chocolate onto the top of your cake and allow it to run down the sides. Make sure the entire top of the cake is covered in chocolate. Once the chocolate has set slightly (but not completely!!) top evenly with mini eggs. Leave it for a few further minutes until the chocolate has completely set and then serve. Enjoy!

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Cake recipes adapted from the ‘cut and keep butter cake’ and the ‘one-bowl chocolate cake’ in the Australian Women’s Weekly Classic Cakes cookbook.

Decoration inspiration from Sainsbury’s Magazine.

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

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.

Crispy Skinned Peking Duck Pancakes

I’ve wanted to start the savoury baking section of my blog for a while now, but unlike with sweet baking, my savoury baking is almost never planned (and consequently not photographed). Finally, after months & months of struggling to decide which recipe to put up as my first in the section, I decided on one of my all-time favourites: peking duck pancakes.

If I’m honest, they are a bit time-consuming to make, and duck breasts certainly aren’t cheap, but considering how much you can pay for these babies in a restaurant, it’s certainly worth your while having a go at home, and they’re absolutely delicious!

The recipe I have written here is enough for a main meal for 4, but feel free to halve it if it’s just for an entrée, or double it to make it serve more.

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Ingredients (makes approximately 40 small pancakes)
For the pancakes:
4 ½ cups plain flour
1½ -2 cups boiling water
Sesame oil

For the duck:
4 duck breasts
Salt

To serve:
1 large cucumber, cut into batons
The green tops of 2-3 spring onions, julienned
Coriander/cilantro
Hoisin sauce (aka the greatest thing ever)

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Method
To make the pancakes, place the flour in a large bowl and stir in the boiling water. Knead until the dough is smooth.

Place the dough into a clean bowl, cover with a clean,damp cloth and allow to stand for at least 30mins.

Knead again for about 5mins, then divide into approximately 40 balls.

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Dip one side of a ball into a little sesame oil. Press the oiled ball together with another (unoiled) dough ball, oiled side towards the centre, and roll out to form a 15cm circle. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.

Fry the pancakes in a lightly oiled pan over a low heat, turn and lightly cook the other side. Both sides should be only very little browned (sort of like a mini tortilla).

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Carefully peel the pancakes apart (careful not to burn yourself!) and keep warm until ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 200°C and 2 frypans to a medium-high heat. Prepare the duck by scoring the skin with a sharp knife and lightly salting it.

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I know I said 4… and this is 6. But I had 2 left over for another time

Place 2 breasts in each pan, skin-side down and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the skin is golden. Turn and cook for a further minute.

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Transfer the duck breasts onto a lightly oiled baking tray and cook in the preheated oven for a further 8-10 minutes.

While the duck is cooking, prepare your vegetables.

Once the duck is cooked, rest it for 5 minutes and then slice.

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To assemble the pancakes, put approximately a teaspoon of hoisin sauce onto the middle of the pancake, top with 2 slices of duck, some cucumber, spring onion & coriander and roll. Enjoy!

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Pancake recipe adapted from ‘The World’s Finest Food’ by Ann Creber, Elisabeth King & Phil Wymant

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.