Passionfruit Cake

passionfruit cake

Chocolate cake with coffee icing.

It’s the cake I would make for mum each and every birthday when I was a teenager. The chocolate cake recipe was an ever reliable one from a Women’s Weekly Cookbook and the instant coffee icing would more often than not be dotted with a few stale old walnut halves to decorate. For years I never strayed from that recipe, (dry old thing it was.)

One year it was extra special, I forgot the eggs (or I think that’s what happened.) I gently tipped the cake out and splat. The whole thing landed on the cake rack in a thousand chocolatey bread crumbs. No one else was home, it was supposed to be a surprise. What on earth was I going to do?

In tears I tried to salvage the crumbs and somehow press them into a cake shape, (you see cake pops hadn’t been invented yet.) I pressed and pressed and then covered the whole thing with a thick coffee icing, trying to ignore the big wet salty tears that still occasionally landed on top. Mum got home and I offered up the lumpy shaped dome with the tear smudged icing…Happy Birthday Mum, I whispered with a slightly quivered bottom lip.

A crumbly chocolate cake with coffee icing this isn’t. If my mum wasn’t currently kicking up her heals at the moment in Europe I think I would have made this Passionfruit Cake for her instead. There is nothing fancy about it, just a simple cake that’s moist, not crazy sweet, really easy to make and not remotely like that dry old chocolate cake I used to make.

passionfruit cake

Passionfruit Cake

150g softened butter

150g caster sugar

3 beaten eggs

pulp of five passionfruit

225g self raising flour

Cream butter and sugar together until pale, then add eggs. Next add passionfruit pulp and flour. Bake in a greased and lined spring form tin at 180C for approximately 40 minutes.

Passionfruit Icing

25g softened butter

icing sugar

pulp from 1 passionfruit

juice from 1/2 a lemon

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Ginger Pear Cake and a mug of peacefulness

cityhippyfarmgirl

cityhippyfarmgirl

Looking up at the man I couldn’t help but have a quiet inward chuckle.

There he stood, poised, peaceful and completely in the moment. Sipping from his steaming mug, looking out over the morning sun lit park. Not once did he glance over to the hurrying mother of three, storming up the hill in an effort to get to school on time. Why would he? Bringing the cup slowly up to his lips with two gentle hands on either side, he was very much there, in his moment. His moment of stillness and quiet enjoyment. 

Why did this man on the balcony strike me so much on a sunny day at the end of the week?

Because he was in complete contrast to my morning, actually my whole week. It had been a busy one and on this day, it had been my cup of tea that had paid the price. The first was inhaled at 5.35am, the ambitious second cup was then microwaved for an uninspiring four times.

You don’t microwave tea! I hear you exclaim. I know, but I did. I do sometimes. As far too often that beautifully made up pot of tea, has been poured and left on the bench as something more pressing needs my attention. Four times that cup had been microwaved, and when it needed a fifth go, I gave up. We had to leave anyway, and that’s when I saw that man on his balcony.

With his steaming mug of solitude and peacefulness.

***************

I have a far more complicated (similar) recipe in my head for this cake, however on days where you find yourself microwaving your tea… simple cooking is called for and a blender cake fits the bill. 

cityhippyfarmgirl

Ginger Pear Cake

150g softened butter

150g brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 tsp powdered ginger

2 eggs

2 peeled and cored soft pears*

75g glace ginger, roughly chopped

225g self raising flour

In a blender mix all ingredients together except flour and glace ginger. Pour wet mixture out into a bowl and fold through flour and roughly chopped ginger. Pop into a greased and lined cake tin and bake at 180C for about 40-50 minutes.

When cooled, dust with icing sugar and have with a mug of hot tea.

* In season at the moment if you live in Australia

Baked Ricotta- Frugal Friday

baked ricotta

This is a ridiculously simple dish, where the possibilities are endless of what to team it up with. Add extra different types of cheese, fresh garden herbs, chilli, bacon pieces, shallots… endless I tell you.

A side salad or some roasted vegetables to go with it and a simple Friday night dinner is done. Five minutes tops, to put it all together.

Baked Ricotta

350g ricotta

3 eggs

75g self raising flour

50g melted butter

1 tsp oregano

salt and pepper to taste.

Beat eggs, mix through everything else except flour, and then fold that through too. Pop it into a greased pie dish (or something similar) and bake at 200C until puffed up and golden, (about 35 minutes.)

Purple Carrot Cake

purple carrot cake purple

Purple isn’t a colour that holds a strong part in my life. It seems to come up in flicks and flecks and then disappears again.

When I think of purple I think of the purple cabbage dish my mum used to make as a child…oh how I used to shudder knowing that was going on to my plate. Any offers of her to make it again as an adult have been politely refused as really…you can’t fight history.

Purple, and I think of the beautifully scented lavander that sits outside my front door. A heady large bush that seems to have a constant stream of buzzing bees dancing on it’s purple flowered heads. Brush past it with your hand just after rain shower and you are rewarded with a heady scented smell that clings to finger tips.

I once had an oversized costume jewellery ring with a purple stone centred in the middle. An old flatmate had given it to me on my birthday. It wasn’t a considered birthday present, it was more the fact that I appeared in the room at the same time as he unveiled the ring. We used to joke that he had got it off someones dying finger….given that he used to keep a large axe in his room, and periods of ridiculously erratic behaviour… probably not a joke I would find quite so funny now.

Purple was on my leg recently. A peach sized bruise that I didn’t have the foggiest idea of how it got there. For two weeks I was reminded of the fact that I didn’t remember how something so big and sore had got there in the first place. (What is it about bruises that make you prod it routinely to make sure it still hurts?)

Purple is also the colour of an old brooch that has sat in a small wooden of mine box for a very long time. I’ve never actually worn it, so it still sits in little drawer surrounded by a purple ribbon, ready and waiting for that one day.

So what does purple have to do with my carrot cake? Well clearly I’ve used purple carrots. Those carrots with the deepest darkest of colour. Carrots that stain your fingers when you peel them, and carrots that scream out to be made into a cake. Not just any cake though. I had played with my carrot cake recipe before, using the purple carrots and all I got was dark coloured flecks through out. Where was the purple? (Like in this sourdough.) I needed to somehow let the carrot cough up its colour without becoming a stodgy lump by cooking it too much. I also didn’t want to put any vegetable oil, or sugar in there. Raising your eyebrows a little? Nope, stick with me.

Local honey and sultanas for sweetness. Pecans and wholemeal spelt for flavour. Carrots for well, purple. And voila, purple carrot cakeMaybe purple is going to hold a bigger part in my life now after all.

Purple Carrot Cake

400g grated local purple carrots

100g melted butter

150g local honey

3 beaten free range eggs

1 tsp cinnamon

50g roughly chopped pesticide free pecans

50g natural sultanas

150g wholemeal spelt flour

150g s/r flour

Grate carrots and melt just the butter just a little with them either in a pot or microwave. Just enough to melt the butter- which also releases the purple colour. Mix through remainder of the ingredients, leaving the flours until last, then folding them through too.

Bake at 180C for approximately 45 minutes, in a greased and lined tin.

double ginger bites

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doublegingerbites

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My loved grandparents came to visit… and there were Double Ginger Bites.

The girls came to visit for a little cake and coffee by candle light… and there were Double Ginger Bites.

A little Christmas package was sent…and there were Double Ginger Bites.

I was hungry, and dinner seemed like a terribly long way off…and there were Double Ginger Bites.

Double Ginger Bites

125 grams softened butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 beaten egg

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup golden syrup

4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tps cardamom

3 cups plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate soda

100g chopped uncrystalised ginger

Mix wet ingredients together. Mix dry ingredients together. Mix them all together. Knead it a little on a floured surface, mixing in the chopped ginger until you get a smooth dough. Let it rest in the fridge a bit until firm, then roll out dough 5mm thickness (or thicker if you prefer) and cut into rough squares and lay on lined baking tray.

Bake at 190C for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until light golden.

a triumphant beetroot

We eyed each other off. Me on one side, it laying boldly on top. My shoulders slump a little, my breath exhales slowly and I gingerly pick it up.

I can’t help but sigh. There we were again, looking eye to… well foliage, with the same old dilemma. What to do with you beetroot?

You see, beetroot and I were not friends. We never were. Sure, his trashy cousin from the can was fine. Actually rather enjoyable slapped on to a weekend burger, but it was this guy. The plump, rounded, red, rooted vegetable that kept cropping up in my vegetable box. Time and time again, there he was. When will this damn beetroot season end?

I had tried to like it, I really had. Steamed…ick. Pan fried…ick. Drowned in balsamic and goats cheese…ick. Chocolate cake…ok, that one was fine, but I didn’t want to be making that all the time. Nothing seemed to make those red bulbs tasty, the earthy taste of it just stuck to it. I didn’t like it as a kid and I didn’t like it as an adult.

So I gave them away. Happily dropped them off to a neighbour. Passed them on to a friend at school. No dilemma, no thought… here you go, they’re all yours! Big lovely red bunches of them.

Another week went by and it happened again. A top of the vegetable box, sitting proudly in all its rounded red glory, the plumpest, most delicious looking fat beets you had ever seen. (Yes, despite me thinking they tasted ick, I could still value their beauty.)

I sighed… come on, you can do this I whispered to myself… try again. So I instagrammed them, got a lovely lot of suggestions of what to do with them and then turned my oven on. Roasted was suggested, and roasted it was. I hadn’t tried that way yet, maybe, just maybe this was the way to make it slightly palatable.

And it was, it so was. That earthiness that I couldn’t shake before seemed to have disappeared. Leaving instead a sweetness (that rather surprisingly) was quite delicious.

Roasted Beetroot and Pistachio Dip

On a tray into the oven with your whole fat beets at about 180C, (they’re done when you can slip a knife in easily.)

the skin can easily be peeled off when you’ve done this-

chop in to rough pieces and add

a handful of roasted pistachio

salt and pepper to taste

blitz it all with a hand held mixer

and then stir though four heaped dessert spoonfuls of natural yogurt

******

We ate this with a little spelt sourdough, and also on top of pumpkin soup- which had some great colours.

For all those who already eat roasted beetroot and are thinking well, duh Brydie…of course that’s the best way! What can I say? Sometimes, things run a little slower round these parts.

tortilla de patatas- Frugal Friday

Tapas is one thing that Mr Chocolate has a real soft spot for. Anything that involves small dishes being brought to the table with lashings of olive oil over it, there is a good chance he’s straight in there with a fork at the ready.

Our first proper date was at a tapas restaurant. Dark walls, candle lit tables, and jugs of sangria dotted the various tables. Being fluent in Spanish, he encouraged me to try out some words he had just taught me on the wait staff. As my language skills at that stage were limited to “dos cervezas por favor”, any spanish chit chat on my part was questionable.

However the night was young, the sangria was good and my spanish got better. It wasn’t long before our table was littered with empty small dishes, and a smattering of olive oil drops. With satisfied bellies, the jug now empty, our conversation remained lively.

Sparks were flying and… (well, perhaps that’s a story for another day.)

Until then, how about an easy Tortilla de Patatas.

Tortilla de Patatas

(a very simplified version)

In a frying pan add

a good couple of slugs of olive oil

some cubed cooked potatoes (4-ish)

beaten eggs (4-ish again)

cook on a medium heat until it starts to cook on the edges. Then pop a lid on, lower the heat to cook for a further few minutes until cooked through. Season to taste.

*******

eat with gusto, a glass of sangria and your very best Spanish pick up line

“Donde estas la zapateria?” (which is probably not your best pick up line.)

surprisingly good chocolate hazelnut brownie

 

I think hazelnut chocolate is my second favourite chocolate, I boldly declared to Mr Chocolate.

It’s not quite as good as marzipan, but it’s definitely up there… trailing off just a little as I mused on the merits of both of them.

Yep… hazelnut and chocolate, they go really well together.

After voicing my new-found decision of having a second favourite chocolate, I decided I needed to revisit the taste as quickly as possible. Just in case my bold statement had been made in haste. Chocolate…check. Hazelnuts…check. Fifteen minute window period to put it all together?…check. Melt, stir, pour, bake.

It seemed too easy.

Usually my baking needs a few tweaks, a change here and there, and trialled a few times to get it right. So I was surprised after tasting a corner of this one to find it worked just the way it was. I tried another corner just to make sure. No, seemed fine there too. A third corner? Yep, pretty similar to the other two corners.

It really was a surprisingly good hazelnut brownie.

Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie

200g chocolate (50%)

250g butter

200g brown sugar

4 beaten eggs

2 tsp vanilla

150g hazelnuts (I blitzed whole ones)

50g self raising flour

In a pot add the chocolate, butter, sugar and vanilla. Gently melt it down and add remaining ingredients. Pop into a greased and lined tray.

Bake at 180C for approximately 35minutes, and then let it cool in the tin.

Honey Spiced Spelt Scones and other spelt goodness

 

I’m having a love affair with spelt at the moment. I’d been meaning to for quite some time, and then finally I bought some, the love affair could begin.

I had dibble dabbled a little before but not like this. Not 10kg bag fulls of the wholesome goodness that it is. Sourdough loaves were switched to spelt, a variety of scones were made with spelt, caramelised onion sourdough rings were ripped apart, toasted spelt muesli was munched on, spelt and walnut bread rolls were teamed up with swiss cheese and inhaled. Spelt knekkebrod was revisited and spelt pancakes were jostled over. Slowly my bag full of spelt, got smaller and smaller.

It’s an ancient grain that has seen a relatively recent revival. Giving a slightly nutty flavour, I’ve just been substituting it with my regular flours and decreasing the liquid in the recipes. The Monkey’s haven’t noticed anything different funnily enough and still eating everything with boyhood enthusiasm. All baked goods have got a thumbs up from Mr Chocolate, and me?

Well I just think it’s a whole bundle of spelt goodness.

Honey Spiced Spelt Scones

1 1/2 cups s/r flour

1 1/2 cups wholemeal spelt flour

a pinch of salt

a pinch of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger

1 cup cream

1 cup water

2 heaped tablespoons honey

Lightly mix wet ingredients to dry, and turn out to a really well floured surface. Lightly knead using your finger tips mostly, bringing it all together (you don’t want to handle it a lot.) Cut into circles (an upturned glass works well.) and place on a greased or lined baking tray. Bake at 220C for approximately 20 mins or until a light golden.

Spelt Pancakes

50g melted butter

1 beaten egg

1 1/2 cups spelt flour

1 1/2 cups milk

first you need the rotten bananas… then you get the cake

So what do we need to make a smoothie?

Rotten bananas… milk… honey… vanilla,  and some yogurt.

A little chuckle might have escaped from me at the first ingredient mentioned. I would have said it a tad more delicately, but hey, the kid was right. Rotten bananas make great smoothies.

I’m trying to teach The Monkeys that not everything needs to look their pristine best before using, and can be turned into other things. Those blackened bananas were just the obvious ones. Now what else could you do with those old apples, stale bread, drying rice?

Monkey Boy does get it, and the way his answers roll off his tongue so effortlessly makes me proud. Hopefully he won’t be one of those kids from my childhood saying “EEEEWWWW, look at your manky banana!” Instead, he’ll say “oh look, your bananas looking a little past it, why don’t you take it home and make it in to an enjoyable  smoothie or a cake”. He’ll say this just after he’s got his final exam results of straight A’s, and then probably ride off into the sunset on his white horse.

Or at the very least he might say, hey you’ve got a rotten banana, let’s go make a cake.

Either way I’d be happy.

Banana Cake

150g softened butter

150g raw sugar/brown sugar

350g  mashed banana (or 3 rotten ones)

2 tsp vanilla

2 beaten eggs

2 heaped spoonfuls golden syrup

2 cups self raising flour

*****

Whack it all in a mixing bowl. Mix it up. Grease and line a springform tin, then bake it at 180C  for approximately 45- 60 minutes.