Cook this: matcha magic cake

After my trip to Japan gave me a much deeper appreciation for matcha, I started following Matchaeologist’s Instagram account. Since then, I’ve made a few of their recipes, like these mini matcha balls and these white chocolate matcha muffins.

A recipe for a pretty easy but very delicious-looking matcha cake popped up, and I knew I had to try it. I was intrigued by the amount of egg and milk in it, compared to the very low amount of butter. The video of it being cut up also made it look like it had a really interesting/different texture to a standard cake…

It was super quick and easy to throw together, and required no special ingredients that I didn’t already have. It also came out looking a little differently to the Instagram video, with an almost glutinous/gelatinous layer on the bottom, and an incredibly light and fluffy cake layer on top. I suspect that may have had something to do with the beaten egg whites folded in, the low amount of flour, the melted butter, maybe a combination of it all… whatever it was, I loved it! The only real difference I made to the recipe posted on Instagram was to add a little more flour – the amount they called for really didn’t seem to be anywhere near enough compared to the amount of milk, and I’m pretty happy with the results. Anyway, here’s how I put mine together; if you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it turned out for you!

Ingredients:
– 2 eggs, separated
– ⅓ cup caster sugar
– ½ tsp vanilla extract
– ¼ cup melted butter
– ⅔ cup plain flour
– 1 tsp matcha
– 1 cup milk, lukewarm

 

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC and line a square cake tin with baking paper.

2. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until peaks just form (be careful not to over beat), and set aside.

3. In a larger mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until pale. Then, add in the vanilla and butter, and beat again until completely combined.

4. Sift in the flour and matcha, and stir until just combined.

5. Gradually pour in the milk, stirring to combine.

6. Lastly, use a spatula to fold in the egg white, bit by bit. It’ll be a wet batter, so don’t freak out – it will cook into cake form in the oven!

7. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until set and golden on top. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

8. This cake goes particularly well dusted with icing sugar – and a pot of green tea 🙂

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Cook this: “check every bulb” Christmas cupcakes

We’ve all got Christmas traditions. Some are pretty normal, like our tradition of baking scones on Christmas morning before taking Marley to the park for a run around. Some are not so normal, like watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation over and over and over again (not my tradition, originally, but husband has converted me). I didn’t like the movie much at first. But year after year, it’s been screened at our house on the 1st of December, and then almost every night thereafter until Christmas. Now I actually love the stupid movie. I find myself reciting the lines along with cousin Eddie and Clark. Damnit.

Anyway, we had our first family Christmas even for the season on a few weekends ago, and I took up the dessert task. I found inspiration in the most unlikely of places – the scene where Clark needs Rusty’s help to unknot some Christmas lights. Pinterest gave me a good idea on how to put them together. And I added my own touch by giving a few cupcakes “knotted” lights. It made me laugh. Simple things, I know…

Anyway, they’re pretty easy to put together! For the cupcakes, use your favourite recipe; I went with a thick chocolate brownie mudcake concoction. Then for the frosting:

Ingredients:
– 120g white chocolate
– 4 tbsp milk
– 50g butter
– 3 cups icing sugar
– m&ms and black writing icing to decorate

Method:
1. Combine the chocolate, milk and butter in a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water, and stir witha wooden spoon until combined.

2. Remove fromthe heat amd cool for a few minutes, then sift in the icing sugar a cup at a time, beating with an electric mixer as you go, until you have a thick, smooth frosting.

3. Pipe or simply spread the frosting onto the cupcakes in a cone shape, and use a black writing icing pen/tube to swirl circles up each frosting cone. Pop m&ms in at intervals as the bulbs.

And that’s it! Super easy and very do-able 🙂 Nothing like a Pinterest win to get you into the Christmas spirit…

Cook this: Olive bread

Husband never used to like olives. Until he tried them again a while ago. And he discovered he actually did like them, a lot. He noticed a handsome looking olive loaf last weekend at a bakery we stopped for tea and coffee at, and requested I make a loaf; far be it for me to say no, so I threw together a quick easy loaf, and it turned out pretty darn good. Pretty easy to make, as well…

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf):
– 500g plain flour
– ½ tbsp salt
– ½ tbsp dried yeast
– 1 heaped tbsp dried rosemary
– 475ml warm water
– 1 cup pitted olives of choice – I used kalamata

 

Method:
1. Combine the flour, salt, yeast and rosemary in a large mixing bowl, then stir in the warm water. Once combined, mix in the olives.

2. Cover the mixing bowl in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. When you’re ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.

4. Preheat the oven to 220ºC, grease a loaf tin and place the dough into it (alternatively, line an oven tray with baking paper and shape the dough into a free form loaf). Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, or until baked through; the easiest way to test it while it’s still in the tin is to tap the bread – if it has a hollow sound, it should be baked through.


I’d highly recommend serving it fresh out of the oven, topped with prosciutto and fior di latte cheese. Amazing!

Cook this: Orange, rosemary & olive oil cake

As a general rule, I’m not a fan of social media. I got off Facebook… wow, it was so long ago now I can’t even remember when. I don’t get the point of Twitter. I really don’t get Snapchat. I don’t have time for that crap in my life. But Instagram, I actually really love. I find it a happy, safe(r) sharing space. It’s where I go for travel inspiration and food inspiration and just generally finding amazing people who are living their dreams, which give me that little extra push to live mine.

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One of the accounts I’ve started following relatively recently is @dear_franny, which most people who know me would find kinda weird. Rachel posts mostly photos of her adorable little girl, and I’m not really an “awww look how cute the baby is” kinda gal. But she also bakes. And her baking shots always look amazing. One of her latest really caught my eye – a citrus rosemary olive oil cake. I’m a fan of olive oil in a cake for something a bit different, and I love the combination of citrus and rosemary, so I thought I’d take a peek. Rachel uses the rosemary just in the frosting, but I wanted a plain, simple cake sans-frosting, so I made it a bit more “me.” Here’s my version…

Ingredients:
– ¾ cup caster sugar
– finely grated zest of 1 medium orange
– 1 cup plain flour
– pinch of salt
– ½ tsp baking soda
– 1 tbsp dried rosemary
– ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
– ½ cup milk, at room temperature
– 2 medium eggs, at room temperature
– juice of half a medium orange

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Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 175ºC and grease a medium sized round cake tin.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and orange zest, rubbing them together with your fingers, which releases more of the oils from the zest (great tip, Rachel, thanks!).

3. Once combined, add the flour, salt, baking soda and rosemary, and mix to combine. Set aside.

4. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, eggs and orange juice until completely combined.

5. Pour the wet mixture into the dry, bit by bit, folding it in with a spatula as you go. Once completely combined, pour the batter into a cake tin and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until it passes the skewer test.

6. Cool in the tin until cool enough to handle, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. You can ice it, if you want – I like just a bit of icing sugar dusted over the top. Keep in an air-tight container up to 4 days.

Cook this: Roast sweet potato, date & olive salad

In my precious Evernote app, I keep a folder of recipes that I continue to add to every time I see something delicious online that I plan to try at some point. One of those came from Little Market Kitchen last year in the form of a roast sweet potato, olive and date salad, and I kinda forgot about it… until now!

With Melbourne’s weather finally starting to turn a little warmer (sort of, in spurts…), it seemed the perfect salad for us – a good combination of fresh and roasted, substantial enough to call a meal, and with a brilliant twist of roasting not only the potato, but the olives and dates as well. I put my own twist on it, and here’s what I came up with…


Ingredients (serves 4):
– 1 large chicken breast
– 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
– 1 heaped cup of pitted dates
– 1 heaped cup of pitted olives (I like kalamata, but you can use any you like)
– olive oil
– 2 tbsp maple syrup
– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 1 tbsp seeded mustard
– baby spinach and rocket (as much or little as you like)
– a handful of crumbled feta cheese (or more, if you really like it)
– a handful of slivered almonds

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and spray a small baking dish with a little cooking oil. Add the chicken breast and drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle some salt and pepper over it. Into the oven to cook for around 20min, or until cooked through. Once it’s done, let it cool enough to be handled, then roughly chop it and set it aside.

2. Once the chicken is cooking, line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper.

3. Spread the cubes of sweet potato over the tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes – you can do this at the same time as the chicken if your oven has enough room.

4. Take the tray out, add the dates and olives to the sweet potato, and roast for another 10 minutes, then take out of the oven to cool a little.

5. That’s the hardest part! To make the dressing, whisk together the maple syrup, olive oil and mustard. To put the salad together, layer the baby spinach and rocket, followed by the roast potato, olives and dates, then the chicken, and finally the feta, almonds and dressing. Enjoy 🙂

Cook this: mini matcha balls

One of my favourite Instagram feeds belongs to Matchaeologist; purveyors of high quality matcha, and sharers of the best matcha recipes online. The last recipe I tried from their feed was this batch of oddly coloured but VERY delicious matcha white chocolate muffins. Yesterday morning,  another one of their recipes caught my eye. With a little tweaking, I give you these ridiculously simple to make and full of goodness matcha balls.

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Not only do they require very few ingredients, they can very easily be made gluten free. They’re lactose and fructose free,  too. They take all of 3 minutes to put together before a quick bake in the oven. They come out like delicious little biscuit balls on the outside, with a soft, moist centre. Stop reading,  start baking.

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Ingredients:
– 80g plain flour
– 5g matcha
– 25g caster sugar
– 20g almond meal
– 2 tsp vegetable oil
– 4 tbsp water

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper.

2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, then stir in the oil and water.

3. Roll into small balls and place on the oven tray. Bake for 18 minutes, then transfer to a metal rack to cool.

4. Once cooled to room temperature,  dust with icing sugar and serve.

Cook this: almond & polenta cake

Apologies for the hiatus in baking of late; between the cookbook being prepared for launch and the rest of life, I haven’t had much time or inclination for it. But, I got back in the kitchen this weekend and finally made a cake that’s been on my “to bake” list for a while – an almond polenta cake by Therese at My Nordic Kitchen. I love almonds. I love polenta. It was an obvious one for me.

I played with the recipe a little, as I am want to do by upping the polenta ratio and making it a bit of a smaller cake. It’s delicious, so next time I’ll double it. It’s a super light and soft cake, and goes down perfectly with a good pot of Earl Grey tea.

Ingredients:
– 50g butter, softened
– 5 tbsp. caster sugar
– 2 large eggs, at room temperature
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– finely grated zest of one lemon
– 150g Greek yoghurt
¼ cup plain flour
¼ cup almond meal
cup polenta
½ tsp baking soda
– pinch of salt
– handful slivered almonds

Method:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and grease a bread tin.

2. Combine the butter and sugar with electric beaters until smooth and creamy, then add the eggs, one by one, and beat until combined.

3. Add the lemon zest, vanilla and yoghurt, and stir through.

4. Finally, add the flour, almond meal, polenta, baking soda and salt, and stir to completely combine.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and sprinkle the slivered almonds over the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake passes the skewer test. Cool in the tin, and keep up to 3 days in an airtight container.