09 December 2015

Easy Christmas Cake

Christmas cake. Fruit cake.
Not my favourite flavour. 
Actually if I had to choose from a plate of cakes I'd choose anything but fruit cake. It's kinda like a last resort option if that's all that's left and I need to feed my sweet tooth. Fruit cake and fruit mince pies can go and jump in the same lonely category really.

But this cake I can make an exception for. Mostly because it has no candied orange peel or glace cherries (yuck!). It DOES have dark chocolate and Cointreau and candied ginger though. And THAT'S okay! And its so simple to make there's no reason not to make i!

1kg of fruit (I used sultanas, currants, apricots, candied ginger and dates)
2 cups cold espresso coffee
100g good dark chocolate chopped roughly
2 cups self raising flour

Soak your fruit in the coffee overnight so it soaks up all the lovely caffeine. This is where I added a healthy dose of Cointreau too (Cointreau is a delicious orange liqueur, otherwise known as triple sec) and just a nice small amount of VERY finely grated orange peel to mix through (no chunks!).

The next day I preheated my oven to 180 deg C and added the chocolate and flour to my soaked mix (warning: its real easy to sample a lot of the fruit before adding anything!). And for good measure I added another healthy dose of Cointreau. The mix required a little more liquid anyway.
Bake for 1hr and cool before cutting.

This cake is really sweet so if you want to cut down on the sweet I'd take out the dates - although these do give a lovely stickiness and flavour to the cake. But cut your slices small and its perfect with a bit of a Christmas nip or an afternoon espresso.


07 December 2015

Hi

So. If there is anyone out there still reading my little old, truly deeply neglected blog then you'll probably be surprised to see I've posted for the first time in...gosh nearly 2 years!!

I know I said I was giving this up...but I think my mojo is back. Maybe. 

Life has taken over. I got a job managing a cafe two years ago and two weeks in I was buying packet chips and BISCUITS for the kids. I'd not bought biscuits since I had Katie...they were always homemade. Now I laugh at allll the tiiiime I had on my hands. Being a working mum for the first time in forever has come with its ups and downs and being so busy left little time to blog, take photographs or bake. If I had quiet times they were spent catching up on washing, sleep, paying bills, having a coffee with a friend. Blogging was bottom of my to do list.

I'm still working and that's not even slowing down. I'm managing a team of awesome people though and with a move to a new place closer to work (literally AT work) it's allowing me some more freedoms of my time.

It also helps that I have a new kitchen to inspire me!

We purchased our first home recently and had a brand new build which has been the most exciting and scary thing we've ever done!

It means too I could have the kitchen I really dreamed of!



Life isn't perfect but this year has been amazing. We've had challenges beyond belief. I've spent most of it without a husband as Owen got a contract to supervise growing in a new golf course in Auckland, so he has been coming down on weekends only. I've had amazing help from the best friend in the whole entire world who gave up her plans to come and wrangle the kids for me, be my cheerleader and sounding board and keep me sane. I'll be forever grateful to this wonderful wonderful woman...who has now moved on to her next adventure and to be with her family down country.

I've had the last of all my surgeries and treatments in the last year...my 5 year post cancer diagnosis mark came and went with no major dramas (just a very annoying gall bladder needing removal) and I feel so gooood, so grateful for life!

So I kinda thought now's a good time to make a quiet comeback to Delissimon. But let's not make any long term commitments yeah?





11 February 2014

Summer Lovin'

Life’s a little tricky right now. 
Oh let’s be honest when isn't it tricky?

Sometimes nothing is more satisfying than grabbing my camera and the little folk and heading outside to the orchard for a ramble in the evening light. Watching them interact like friends, fight like bitter enemies and laugh like conspirators all in the space of 5 minutes.

These are the simple pleasures that I grasp onto when life becomes hard, complicated and somewhat scary. I'm in my 30’s and I still hate having to make serious adult decisions. Lately I've been doing too much of that and getting lost inside my own head. I've had enough of making life complicated…wasn't that why we moved away from Auckland?

I can’t explain more here, and to be honest I've been through worse, but somehow it’s easy to forget that and be consumed with the NOW of everything isn't it?

In the meantime, these crazy, noisy and precious little people fill the joy that life sometimes tries to steal.

And chocolate helps too.




16 January 2014

Summer Plum Cake

The recipe I got this cake from called it a kuchen, however to my knowledge a kuchen is a cake made with yeast as its rising agent and although, like this cake it is made with fruit, this cake is not made with yeast. So its a cake.



Its a lovely, easy and light cake and a great way to use up those beautiful summer plums though...

Summer Plum Cake (recipe credit Cake Bible)

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
100g softened butter
2/3 cup castor sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
1/2 cup sour cream
5 large plums or 8 small/med plums, cut into quarters 
1/4 cup castor sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 175 deg Celsius and line a 20cm baking tin with paper. 
In a mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, and using an electric beater cream the butter and first measure of sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until combined then add the vanilla and almond.
Add the sour cream alternately with the dry mix and beat until smooth.
Spoon the batter into the baking tin and place the plums on top (in any pattern you choose).
Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top and then brush with the oil.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until firm and springy to the touch.
Cool for 30 minutes before cutting. 

This would be beautiful with a vanilla custard or a lightly whipped cream.



11 January 2014

Long time, no blog....

So I'll start by saying I'm ashamed I've not only been absent from my own blog since my last post on the 17th October, but I've not even read anyone else's either. I've been so caught up with the cafe and all the Christmas functions we held and between juggling family and keeping my house tidy (ha!) I've not even picked up my camera until last week.

I'm on a break this week - the kids headed to Auckland with my parents (thank you!!) and I'm spending some time with myself so now is the perfect opportunity to post...if anyone out there is still checking my poor neglected blog!

We had a lovely Christmas, with my brother and his girlfriend and their friends making a trek from Melbourne to spend Christmas with us. We had a really special time together with lots of laughs - as I always do when one of my brothers is around.














I was hoping to find time to put up a recipe or two this week, but it turned out that instead I enjoyed some sun, sleep, beach and time off with Owen as well as Skyping my big brother in Chile and meeting my brand new niece.
It's been a crazy three months and I finally hit a wall enough to just look after myself a little.

I'll be back again soon, I promise!

17 October 2013

I haven't forgotten you!!....

As if this year hasn't already been crazy and eventful, I have some more amazing changes coming up in my life.

Firstly though I have had to give up being The Little Big Markets photographer before I had begun which was a real bummer, as I was really looking forward to that. But I won't be able to afford the time as I'm now part of an awesome cafe and so excited to bring some new life, colour and flavour to a fantastic community.
So, watch this space and if you are ever heading to the Bay of Plenty, stop in at Cafe Nineteen at Fairview Golf Course in Katikati and come and see us!!

I'll still be posting lots here with recipes and photos...but only once I get my head around finding where everything is in the new work environment!

xx


15 September 2013

5 Years

I just realised today that I've been blogging at this address for 5 years this month.

I popped back and had a look today at my very first post and it makes me squirm. I'm almost too embarrassed to link to it! But as a kinda very lame blog birthday present here it is... It consists of a VERY average photo of a packet mix I did with the kids.
It's cute but I took my photos with a point and shoot and I had no idea what I was doing except that I wanted some place to show my small but meaningful (for the kids anyway) efforts. Wow, what a long way we've all come. Haha.

Now some bloggers with lots of sponsors and time to organise do amazing giveaways and awesome stuff for their blogaversaries (I kinda really dislike that word) but I'm afraid I've got nothing for you, except to say thank you. It's quite humbling to think that people like what I do, make, see and create. As well as all the cheerleaders and the sense of community that blogging brings, I've made friends with fellow bakers, photographers, mothers, and breast cancer survivors that also blog. I've even been lucky enough to have met and become friends with some of them in real life not just online. I've been given an outlet to my creativity while keeping my family in the loop of our life, especially during tough times. Not trying to blow my own trumpet, but you can see how far I've come since that first blog entry as without this outlet I would have never entered "that baking competition", had recipes published, had photos reproduced in books, submitted and had published magazine articles, published a book or most important to me, be a voice for breast cancer.
Maybe one day someone might pay me for it?

Simply I want to say thanks, and I'll just keep on doing what I'm doing. I love this place. I hope you do too.

xx


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11 September 2013

Behind the scenes....

there's always these two. Trying to be stealth and sneak up on me...


Inky kept photobombing me with his ears.

Coco Moco Slice

I don't know why I called it that. It sounded catchy.


This is a coconut mocha slice and its very smooth and sweet - I wasn't sure how this would go down, too sweet is sometimes overwhelming but the day after I made this it tasted even better so its one of those 'its even better the next day' recipes. And I keep eating it...it's delicious!

I can't take credit for the recipe though, this one comes courtesy of one of Grandma Farrell's Australian Women's Weekly recipe books I inherited (complete with all her notes and adaptations for her favourites which makes it extra special). If you, or the person/people you are making it for don't like coconut you could take that out and use oats, or even ground almonds...hmm now that I've mentioned it I might try it with that too.


Base:
90g coconut
1/2 cup self raising flour
1/3 brown sugar
100g butter, cubed

Mocha Topping:
2 teaspoons instant coffee
1 tablespoon hot water
395g can sweetened condensed milk
100g dark chocolate, chopped
30g butter

Grease and line a square or oblong baking tin. 
Heat oven to 180 deg C.
Combine coconut, flour, sugar in a bowl and add butter. Mix with paddle beater in electric mixer until the butter is combined in the dry mix and resembles breadcrumbs or if you like the long version you can rub the butter into the mix with your hands (I prefer the quick way). Take mixture out and press into baking tin firmly and evenly.
Bake for approximately 12 minutes - or until the top is golden.

Mocha Topping:
While the base is baking you should start on this. Dissolve the coffee in the hot water in a medium size saucepan. Then add the remaining ingredients and stir over a low heat until the butter and chocolate has melted. Bring to the boil and let it simmer for about 3 minutes and it is thick and coats the back of a spoon well.

When base is cooked leave for 10 minutes until pouring topping over. Sprinkle with extra coconut (I used some lovely BIG chunks of Ceres Organic Coconut Chips because they are crunchy and so delicious).
Let cool to room temperature and then place in fridge to set.
Once set it will cut beautifully.