27 December 2009


I have an excellent pavlova recipe I would like to share with you. Its from an old Home Economics class at school and I'm so glad I kept it, as its brilliant. It gives a perfect crusty outside and gooey soft inside, just like a pavlova should be and although its sweet, its not too sweet.
I made one for Christmas Day this year and it went down a treat.

4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I use vanilla bean paste)
1/2 cup fresh whipped cream
Lots of fresh fruit. I used chopped strawberries and blueberries, but you can use whatever you like. A kiwi classic is obviously kiwifruit!

Cut a 20cm round shape out of baking paper and place on baking tray. Turn the oven to 140 deg Celsius.
Whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time and slowly. This is very important so the sugar dissolves. When it is all added the mixture should be glossy and thick. Sprinkle the cornflour and vinegar over the mixture and fold in carefully. Add the vanilla and fold in again.
Place the mixture on the piece of baking paper and shape carefully using a palette knife. You can play with the shape a little here but don't spend too long on it!
Place in the middle tray of the oven for 1hr and 15mins. When cooked it should be left in the oven to cool completely before removing. If you are not decorating it straight away keep in an airtight container in a cool place - but not the fridge!!
When ready to serve, whip the cream and plonk on top, and then place fruit however you would like. Serve and enjoy this incredibly delicious kiwi summer classic!

Daring Bakers Challenge: Gingerbread House

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

I was really looking forward to this challenge. I had made a gingerbread house last Christmas, well actually a gingerbread shed for the guys at Owens work, and I was planning on making one as a gift to my lovely friends Claire and Nathan who hosted Christmas Day this year, complete with a silly amount of lollies. So I made that one with the help of my 7yr old and was rather larger than I was intending and it ended up very wonky! Lucky I had extra dough leftovers to make a more sophisicated and understated house. I didn't see the point in making a dough that was thick and sturdy enough to last a long time but didn't taste good, so I stuck to the recipe I used last year and worked really well for me. It was from the Littlies magazine. Its nice and firm but has a beautiful flavour and rolls out well with a generous helping of flour.

Here's the first one:

Fantastic for kids - my kids were so gutted not to be on the receiving end of this house!

And here's my proper teeny weeny cute one:

Instead of using a whole bunch of lollies I used a few leftover pineapple lollies I made myself and put them on top. Otherwise its just royal icing and a few gold sugar pearls.
I made my own template and found that with the help of some glasses I could assemble it pretty easily. Both houses were tricky as the weather is so hot, and the royal icing just melts and slides around terribly, but it does harden up eventually, so keeping the glasses to hold it together as long as possible is the best.

I loved this challenge!

23 December 2009

Christmas Nut Pies

This is a recipe taken from Jo Seagars Easy Peasy Summer Entertaining book. Such a simple and sweet recipe that I thought I would make some yummy presents.

Here's a step by step recipe for you to make your own.

What you need:
125g butter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup assorted nuts - no skins. I used hazelnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, cashews and of course pecans.
60g butter, melted
1 egg
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
You will also need a mini muffin tray - either non stick or well greased.

First turn your oven to 180 deg Celsius.
Blend butter, flour and icing sugar together in a food processor until the dough rolls into a ball around the blade.
Take this out and divide into 15 little balls and press with floured hands into the muffin tray and up the sides. Pop into the fridge for 30 mins.

While the pastry is in the fridge melt the butter, add the egg and sugar and vanilla and beat until a nice gooey consistency. My secret and must have ingredient instead of vanilla essence is this lovely paste. Just the teeniest tiniest bit goes a long way and has a beautiful flavour.

Place the nuts into the pastry and spoon filling over the top, being careful not to overfill.

Bake for 20-25mins and cool on a cooling rack.

Best served warm, and I think with a nice dollop of cream!

I had left over filling and pastry as my mini muffin tray only makes 12, so I made a larger mini pie and then I still had some left over filling so I used some puff pastry I had in the freezer and made 2 more. These probably take another 5-8 mins or so to bake.

These smelled so fabulous while baking I couldn't help myself and tucked into one before it could cool. Hmm this summer weight loss is not happening anytime soon by the looks of it! These are sweet, and I think a perfect size for a Christmassy nutty bite!

21 December 2009

Last but never least...

It was the 3rd birthday in December in our family yesterday. My lovely mum's. Mum and Dad came down for lunch and spent the day with us, before we all headed over to the Vector Arena on the ferry for the St Pauls Glow event. It was incredible! Well done St Pauls for an excellent Christmas event. And catching the ferry home in the sunset was just a perfect ending.

Mum loves loves loves lemon, so I made a lemon cake with whipped cream filling and a lovely lemony buttercream. Not too sweet with plenty of tang and very perfect for a perfect summer day!

Love you heaps mum!

19 December 2009

Christmas rush...

Wow this Christmas is so so busy, the busiest yet I think. Ever since the show filmed I've had something on every weekend, so I will be so pleased to sit back next weekend and enjoy watching the kids play with their Christmas presents and potter down to the beach after consuming all the Christmas leftovers.
This weekend is a flurry of activity as Owen is making a playhouse for the kids for their Christmas present. Except its not so much a playhouse as an extra wing to the house!! Its gonna be huge!

I've dramatised the angle a wee bit but it is big. They better play in it!!

Here are some more gift ideas for Christmas - especially good for clients, teachers and various people you want to gift something small and sweet to:

These are the chocolate and fruit cakes I made for teachers earlier on in the week and some passionfruit cupcakes for those that aren't fruit cake fans.

Today I made some cupcakes for a wee girl turning 2. What better way than to combine a Christmas and birthday party for everyone - that's what we used to do when Katie was little. I made 30 cupcakes in a christmassy birthday theme.

Ho ho ho happy birthday!!

18 December 2009

New Look!

You might be looking at this page wondering what happened to the old look? Well I've updated this to a lovely Gisele Jaquenod design. Hope you like this new look!

16 December 2009

Christmas Goodies Part 2

These are some choc ginger cookies I made for Madelines classroom's shared lunch. I was also just experimenting with some different decorations!

Pretty stars:

Little bite sized circles dipped in chocolate:

And some candy cane shapes, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy canes (the fruit flavoured ones):

Anyway here's the recipe:

Choc Ginger Cookies
125g butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (or you can use powder, or glace ginger finely chopped)
1 1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup cocoa

Cream butter and sugar, and add egg. Add ginger. Sift dry ingredients together and add in 2 batches to the creamed mixture. Roll dough out to 5mm thickness and stamp with your choice of cookie cutter.
Small cookies take about 10mins, large cookies give a couple minutes more. Bake in 180 deg Celsius oven.

These are seriously so yummy its hard to stop munching!

15 December 2009

Katie's Birthday

Katie is finally 5! Phew. Its been a long wait. I think she started counting down about 7 months ago. About 6 months ago she was ready for school.
So off she trotted to school yesterday morning with her new Hannah Montana bag, which was so huge she could have fitted herself into it, and wearing all the jewelry and hair accessories should fit on her wee self. She loves it! Although, she is getting a pretty sweet deal this week as all they are doing are making Christmas decorations watching movies and swimming - absolutely no hard work as its the last week of school before a long summer break. But for now its great.
Making her cake however, wasn't so great. She wanted a chocolate cake. Easy. Made. Done. But when they were in storage waiting to be iced, one of the cakes broke in half. Fine, use the filling to keep it together and just use it as the bottom half. Then the weather was so humid the buttercream wasn't setting properly and the cake was just sliding around everywhere. My only solution was to cram as much onto the fondant as possible so it wasn't too noticeable that the cake was actually quite wonky. By 11pm on Saturday night I was only putting the fondant on and stayed up for a wee while longer just finishing it off. The main thing is that Katie LOVED it and that's all that mattered!
So here it is. Chocolate cake with butterscotch buttercream and fondant:

And also these passionfruit cupcakes with chocolate buttercream icing:

But I must say I secretly really miss my little buddy. At least I have another 6 weeks before she's back at school.

07 December 2009

Afternoon tea celebration

This week was my lovely mother in laws birthday - a rather big celebration was called for this year so my two gorgeous sisters in law and I pulled together an afternoon tea for all her friends and family and even the weather cleared up in time.

Here's what I spent all of Saturday making...

The cake:

Mini lamingtons:
Lime and coconut cupcakes

and Hazelnut Lady's (a hazelnut cookie sandwiched with a chocolate hazelnut cream)

Thanks go to Sani and Meagan for an excellent afternoon!

03 December 2009

Christmas Goodies - Part 1

Ahhh Christmas time. That time of year when its humid and wet, the house smells like burnt gingerbread and everyone is so ready for a holiday. Don't ya love it? I do! I love chucking on the Christmas CD and playing it everyday so that when Christmas is over, then everyone is really really happy to not hear it again.

I also love the baking, and all the rich yummy things you can make (and eat!). Its a great family time and one of those occasions where getting all the kids involved from decorating the tree (which I sneak in and "touch up" when they're asleep) to making presents, baking, making more decorations is so lovely, fulfilling, special and creates a tradition of its own.

First up this year: Mini Coffee Soaked Fruit and Chocolate Cakes and then some Ginger and Nut Cookies. These are the gifts I'm making with the help of the girls for their teachers and assorted loved ones. Last year it was decorated cookies in a box but I'd like to try something a bit different.

We also got our first perfect looking strawberries growing in the garden that hadn't been attacked first by the birds. Before now they had been pathetic looking berries without much appeal.

If you are interested in any of these...let me know!