Carrot Cake with Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting & Passionfruit Glaze

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This cake is for those who cannot make up their minds. Currants, raisins or dried cranberries? Walnuts, pecans or macadamia nuts? Heck, let’s have them all. Baked into a moist, flavourful cake. Slather on cream cheese frosting laced with raspberry puree and topped with a tangy, bright yellow passionfruit glaze. I used to bake this all the time for family and friends – simply iced with a vanilla bean cream cheese frosting. No frills, just a homely rustic treat.

Mise en place. I’m not usually this organised but for the sake of this blog, I will.

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Kitchen chronicles, continued

I was inspired to continue where I had left off, albeit rather abruptly, after requests from friends to revive this space. One which was fast becoming obscured by virtual dust and cobwebs that exist in cyberspace. In fact, one of my closest friends had recently dug up an old post of mine and texted ‘NAT MAKE THIS FOR ME’ at midnight, complete with a screenshot of my experimental pumpkin tortellini. 

The last time I had written a post was slightly more than a year go. Blame it on work, inertia, writer’s block, or simply because I haven’t got any time. To be honest, the ease of Instagram/twitter made blogging seem like a hassle. Occasionally, an email notification would pop into my inbox telling me that a reader had favourited, commented or started to follow this humble blog documenting my kitchen adventures and the occasional disaster. Little encouragement like these go a long way and I really want to continue doing what I truly love. Food, photography and writing (yes, and eating of course)

Recipes scribbled onto post-it notes and nestled in pages of my planner are waiting to be documented. Not forgetting my perpetually-hungry and eager taste tasters. So here’s to a new start on this space and plenty more good times to come!

Earl Grey Cupcakes

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Earl Grey has got to be one of my favourite teas – love it especially, lightly sweetened with a spoonful of honey. I was really excited to make these to bring to a pot-luck party. The distinctive scent of bergamot, tempered with the floral sweetness of vanilla beans and a touch of citrus zest to brighten the flavour. The cupcakes were then crowned with a dollop of silky, dark chocolate ganache frosting. Then next time, i might even grind some of the tea leaves and add to the cupcake batter for a more intense earl grey flavour. Continue reading

Viennese Cookies

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Oh, for the love of butter cookies. The pale-golden little crisp morsels of buttery goodness. The ones that shatter instantly on the first bite, melts in the mouth,  allowing the delicate sweetness to permeate. Incredibly addictive stuff! I like to pipe little swirls of them and sandwich the baked cookies with a dollop of melted dark chocolate. A sprinkle of powdered sugar completes the looks and turn them into yummy festive treats. And if you’re looking for an easy-peasy edible gift to make, I always turn to them especially during the holidays. Mason jars (or any recycled jam jars)  filled with these, all wrapped up and labelled, are perfect for gifting!

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Vegan Apple Tart

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Vegan baking – no dairy products, no eggs, no what! Now, this has got to be a challenge. Baking for people with dietary restrictions can be tough and there is a limit to how far you can make your vegan cupcakes taste like the real deal. Moreover, things like egg replacers, vegan margarine or shortening (filled with hard-to-pronounce chemical names) sound far from appetizing. Here’s a vegan dessert that not only tastes pretty good but is also easy to make and devoid of those nasties. The tart crust was made with a combination of oat flour, chopped walnuts and olive oil to bind it all together. Layers of thinly sliced apples, cinnamon, muscovado sugar and plump raisins meld together in the heat of the oven, becoming just fork-tender to contrast with the crumbly, nutty crust.

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Rosemary, Currants & Browned Butter Bread Loaf

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Decided, on a whim, to make bread. That was until I discovered that there wasn’t any more yeast left! So I went with an Irish soda bread (Okay, inspired by masterchef again) and tweaked the flavours a whole lot. Here’s a combination of sweet and savoury – rosemary infused into the browned butter, or beurre noisette, with it nuttiness and richness. The loaf was brightened with citrus notes from the orange zest and the currants gave it little pockets of sweetness. Finally, a little black pepper and sea salt to round off.

I like that the loaf wasn’t too heavy or fluffy with an almost-perfect slightly chewy texture, thanks to the whole wheat flour. This particular one must be toasted before eating. Lightly golden, crisp just around the edges and oh the difference it makes to the flavour! The combination of rosemary, black pepper, citrus and currants is magical. Now let me rave about the wonders of browned butter – it’s so freakin’ amazing. Sure, it requires some extra effort to make and careful attention to prevent it from becoming all burnt and bitter. But it is soo soo worth it! The depth and nuttiness, makes everything taste better. The loaf was gone so quickly that I had to make a ‘cake version’ the following night to take to school, as promised.  Continue reading

Brunch: Creamy Scrambled Eggs & Smoked Salmon

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A slow, leisurely brunch on weekend is just the perfect foil to a hectic week. No manic rush to get ready, no endless traffic jams, no stress. As much as I love exploring local cafes and restaurants offering all-day breakfast (which seems to be the most popular thing, since the ubiquitous molten lava cake), DIY is twice as fun. Well, maybe not. But here is a confession: I am addicted to the new season of Masterchef US. Inspired and ravenous, I woke up bright and early.. .which actually means 10.30 am… to cook brunch for the family whilst still in my PJs. Creamy scrambled eggs atop home-made waffles, smoked salmon and a side of salad. Woah, it wasn’t easy. Washed and prep-ed my salad, then whisked together the waffle batter. Had 2 pans in the wet kitchen and the waffle iron at the island going all at once. Thank goodness for the dishwasher!

The highlight of the day was definitely the scrambled eggs. Creamy, sexy and oh-so-luscious. Not overly cloying or buttery. Simply seasoned with a little sea sat + freshly cracked black pepper. I borrowed tips/techniques from everywhere: gordon ramsey, bill granger, nigel slater, etc. Oh, and i used milk, a cardinal sin in the culinary world. But really, who wants to eat a pound butter AND heavy cream first thing in the morning? Nope, I didn’t want to send my family straight to obesity/heart disease zone so here’s how I made brunch.  Continue reading

Ice-cream Sandwiches

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Who ever invented the ice-cream sandwich was such a genius! I grew up eating our local version sold by the ice-cream uncle, whose arrival was signalled by the unmistakable tinkling of the bell (which never failed to excite the kid in everybody) He would retrieve giant blocks of ice-cream from the mobile freezer, depending on your chosen flavour (raspberry ripple, red bean & choc mint were my favourites!), before slicing a neat rectangle and sandwiching it between two layers of crispy wafer or rainbow bread if you like. Mmmm.

Here it is, my very own take on the classic ice-cream sandwich. Instead of the huge round chewy cookies used in the American version, these feature my favourite chocolate shortbread cookies. This was closer in appearance to the frozen treats sold by our ice-cream man, just a tad more substantial and flavourful (the thin wafers were unfortunately, pretty tasteless). What better filling for my sandwiches than some homemade gelato – Dark Cherry and Espresso – made a few days earlier. Too much effort for something that disappears in a single bite? Well, these are certainly worth it and would make an awesome idea for your dinner party DIY dessert bar!  Continue reading

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

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Cake for breakfast? Well, yes. I love cinnamon-anything. Put them together and I’m a happy camper. Crunchy, crumbly sweet topping covers the top of the fluffy and moist cake, with more swirls of cinnamon within. A slice served alongside some yogurt and fresh berries is (one of of my many ideas of) breakfast nirvana. This is also great for tea time or a snack whenever a craving creeps up on you. I’ve made this cake countless times and it has since become a family favourite!
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Edit: The last week or so, was crazy — throw together 2 presentations, law musical, SUNIG netball matches and rounding it all of with a quiz and 2 midterm exams. Woah. That pretty much explains the short hiatus from this space and the fact that I’ve had no time at all, let alone bake. Thankfully, I’ve got a few back-up recipes and here’s one which was made early last year. Enjoy!

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Orange Almond Cake

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Here’s my first attempt at a gluten-free cake – however, this one was merely coincidental. It was inspired by the one I had at Dean & Deluca @ Mandarin Gallery. It was moist, full of zesty orange flavour and had an interesting crumbly texture to it (thanks to the almonds). Sadly, it was a whopping $9 for a teeny wedge. Gosh. Did someone say overpriced? My quick search online for ‘orange almond cake’ turned up 2,700,000 results. After comparing the recipes, I realised it was only made from 4 ingredients. Yes, four ingredients! It was pretty simple too – begin by boiling the orange, then blending it down before adding whipped eggs, sugar and ground almonds. The final result was utterly delicious, pretty darn close to the one at Dean & Deluca I must say! (Hehehe this totally sound like I’m blowing my own horn here) Their version had a glaze which helps to keep the cake moist for longer, especially when stored behind the glass display. I skipped that to keep it super simple. Looks like I’ll be making this again and again!  Continue reading

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