soft gingerbread tiles with lemon butter glaze

15 Jan 2018

When I returned to Sydney I bought a few items at the Boxing Day sales including these snowflake pie crust cutters. I doubt I'll ever use them to decorate pies but I thought they'd make great cookie cutters.

I couldn't wait to use them and I knew exactly what to make, the soft gingerbread tiles with lemon butter glaze from Sweet by Ottolenghi and Helen Goh.

I made a few adaptations to the original recipe. I don't like the taste of molasses and didn't have any treacle in the house, so I used golden syrup instead. To save time I threw everything into the food processor and found I didn't need to use the full quantity of golden syrup. When I made the glaze I went down the non-alcoholic route and used lemon juice rather than rum.

The original recipe said it would make 12-14 biscuits depending on the size of the cookie stamp but I made about 30 cookies. I was a bit generous with the glaze so I ran out, so if you use small cutters like I did, you might need to make a little more glaze. 

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams; I use unsalted butter and my oven is a conventional gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Soft Gingerbread Tiles with Lemon Butter Glaze - makes 30 small cookies
Soft Gingerbread 
235g plain flour
1 tbs dutch process cocoa powder
½ tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
 tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp salt
85g unsalted butter at room temperature
90g brown sugar
75-100g golden syrup
1 large egg yolk

Rum or Lemon Butter Glaze
80g icing sugar
⅛ tsp cinnamon
15g unsalted butter, melted and warm
15 mls dark rum (or lemon juice)
1 teaspoon warm water

Place the dry ingredients into a food processor and whiz for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and sugar and whiz until soft breadcrumbs form. Add the egg yolk and the golden syrup and whiz until the mix comes together. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently.If the dough is soft you may need to chill the dough before rolling out.

Preheat oven 190ºC. Line two baking trays with baking parchment and set aside. Roll out the dough so it’s 6mm thick Dip the cookie stamps in a small bowl of flour, shake off any excess and then press them firmly into the dough, one at a time, to create a deep imprint. Using a round biscuit cutter that is slightly larger than the pattern, cut out the pieces of imprinted gingerbread.

Transfer the cookies to the lined baking trays about 1-inch apart. Re-roll the dough and continue to stamp and cut until all the dough is used up. Bake for 9-10 mins, rotating the trays halfway through, until firm to the touch. Don’t be tempted to cook any longer as the gingerbread will continue to firm as they cool.

While the biscuits are in the oven, prepare the glaze as it needs to be brushed on while they are still warm. Sift the icing sugar and cinnamon into a bowl. Add the melted butter, rum (or lemon juice) and water and mix with a spoon until smooth. The glaze will thicken slightly if it sits around, so stir through a little more warm water if you need to – it should be the consistency of runny honey.

Remove the biscuits from the oven, leave to rest for 5 mins, then brush or dab the glaze all over with a pastry brush. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Biscuits will keep for up to five days in an airtight container.

Like all Ottolenghi recipes, this one worked like a dream and the gingerbread was packed with flavour.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


apricot and almond cake

8 Jan 2018

Hi Every-one,

Happy New Year and welcome to the first post of 2018. I may have taken a break from blogging but I've done plenty of baking since my last post. I think I baked at least 4 dozen mince pies and made a huge batch of chocolate chip cookie bark to share with my Brisbane friends while I was away.

I normally make plum cake at this time of year, however apricots have been plentiful and not too expensive this summer so I thought I'd make an apricot cake instead.

I made the cake on a very hot Sydney day and the smell of the cake as it baked almost distracted me from the heat coming from the kitchen. The cake came out of the oven looking golden brown and smelling delicious.

This cake is nothing complicated, just a lemon scented butter cake topped with apricots and almonds but often simple is delicious.

If you'd like to make this at home, here is the recipe for you which makes an 18 cm cake. I think you could also bake this in a 20cm cake tin but you'd just layer all the apricot slices on the top of the cake and it might need a little less time to bake. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams; I use unsalted butter and my oven is a conventional gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Apricot and almond cake  
Cake Ingredients  
6 apricot 
125 grams (4 oz) unsalted butter  
100 grams (½ cup) caster sugar  
1 tsp grated lemon rind  
2 eggs  
3/4 cup self raising flour  
½ tsp baking powder 
¼ cup (35 g) finely ground whole almonds 
1/4 cup milk or plain yoghurt  
tablespoons caster sugar  
tbs flaked almonds 
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease and line the base and sides of an 18 cm springform tin with baking paper.  
Cut the apricots in half and remove the pits. Slice each apricot half into thirds and sprinkle with little of the extra caster sugar. Set aside.   
To make the cake, cream the butter, sugar and lemon rind together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until combined well. Sift the flour and baking powder together and stir through the ground almonds. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk to make a soft batter. You may not need to use all the milk.  
Spoon half the batter into the lined tin then decoratively arrange half the apricot slices over the top of the cake, sprinkling the apricots with some caster sugar. Spoon the remaining cake batter over the apricots gently pressing the remaining apricot slices down into the batter. Sprinkle with the rest of the caster sugar and the flaked almondsBake the cake for 50 minutes – 1 hour or until the cake is golden brown and tests cooked when a skewer is inserted into it.  Cool the cake in the tin for about 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.  

I took this into work today to sweeten my workmate's first day back at work for 2018. 

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


seasons greetings

25 Dec 2017

It's been a long year and I'm going to take a break from blogging for a little while to recharge my batteries. I'm planning to be back on Monday January 8 with something new to share with you from my kitchen.

Wishing you and yours all the best over the festive season.

Bye for now,


xmas week 2017 - macadamia and passionfruit roulade

22 Dec 2017

Every Christmas table requires a show stopper dessert and I think this rolled pavlova fits the bill. The recipe was inspired by this one I found online at Woolworth's of all places. 

Originally I was going to fill the roulade with whipped cream and some homemade passionfruit curd but I simply ran out of time. In the end, I played around a bit with the cooking temperature and time, changed the filling and the topping to come up with this recipe.

I've not made a rolled pavlova before so I was holding my breath. Had I overcooked the meringue? Would it crack as I rolled it? Thankfully no disasters befell and I thought the end result looked pretty impressive. This is a sweet dessert so the macadamia brittle may have been a bit of an overkill but the tartness of the passionfruit worked well in the filling. I think any kind of berry in the filling would also work well.

Here's the recipe for you which serves 6-8 people depending on how hungry you are. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams; I use unsalted butter and my oven is a conventional gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Macadamia and passionfruit roulade
4 egg whites (120g)
150g caster sugar, plus 2 tsp extra
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp cornflour
45g macadamias, finely chopped
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

the pulp of 4 passionfruit
1½ cups thickened cream

Macadamia brittle
50 g caster sugar
1 tbs water
75g toasted macadamia halves, coarsely chopped then topped with a sprinkle of sea salt

Macadamia brittle
1 passionfruit

Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F. Grease and line a 26cm x 32cm swiss roll pan with baking paper. Using electric beaters, whisk the egg white until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tbs at a time, beating until sugar has dissolved and mixture is thick and glossy. Add vanilla, vinegar and cornflour and stir briefly to combine.

Using a flexible spatula, scrape the meringue mixture into the lined pan and smooth top. Combine the macadamias, cinnamon and extra sugar and sprinkle over meringue. Bake for 20 minutes or until meringue is puffy and lightly coloured and springs back when gently pressed. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Place a clean piece of baking paper over the top of the meringue before inverting onto a clean tea towel covered board. Carefully lift away the pan, then gently peel back baking paper.

Meanwhile, to make the filling, place the passionfruit pulp in a strainer over a small bowl to let the juice drain. Measure out 1 tablespoon of the juice. Whisk  the cream with the passionfruit juice until soft peaks form. Spread the meringue with about ¾ of the cream leaving a 2 cm border at the short end furthest from you. Drizzle the passionfruit pulp over the cream, reserving the remaining passionfruit for decoration. Roll up from the short end closest to you, using the tea towel to assist. Transfer to a platter seam side down and refrigerate for 1 hour to firm, or until ready to serve. You can store the covered roulade overnight in the fridge but decorate just before serving.

While the roulade is in the fridge, you can make the macadamia brittle. For the macadamia brittle combine sugar and water in a small pan. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a boil. Don't stir again until it's time to add the nuts. Cook until the toffee turns a golden brown, then add the nuts. Stir the hot toffee once or twice just to coat the nuts, then turn out onto baking paper or a silicone mat and flatten out the brittle with a knife or offset spatula. Allow to cool completely before breaking into smaller pieces. You'll only use a small amount for this recipe. Store the remainder in an airtight container, that's if you can resist eating the leftovers.

To serve, pipe or spoon the remaining cream down the centre of the roulade. Top with some of the macadamia nut brittle and the remaining passionfruit pulp. Cut into thick slices to serve. 

I'll be back next week to wish you all the best of the season before taking a break from the blog.

Bye for now,



xmas week 2017 - chocolate mint cookies

21 Dec 2017

Welcome to day 4 of Xmas week 2017. I've always loved the combination of chocolate and mint. I've had this recipe for after dinner mint biscuits bookmarked for ages and decided to apply some Christmas spirit to them.

I came home from the shops with a packet of candy canes and set to work with my biscuit cutters. You don't have to go to the effort because the biscuit are delicious as they are but I think the star cut-outs make them look more festive.

The biscuits are sandwiched together with a mint flavoured ganache and the candy cane garnish is an optional extra.  I'm planning to give these cookies to my next door neighbours for Christmas.

Here's the recipe for you which makes 20 filled biscuits.

Chocolate mint cookies - makes 20
260 gm (1¾ cups) plain flour 
160 gm (1 cup) pure icing sugar, sieved 
50 gm (½ cup) Dutch-process cocoa, sieved 
225 gm cold butter, cut into 2cm pieces
1 egg yolk 

Peppermint Filling 
180 gm dark chocolate (56% cocoa solids), finely chopped 
160 ml pouring cream 
2-4 drops pure peppermint extract (see note), or to taste 
2 peppermint candy canes crushed 

Process flour, icing sugar, cocoa and a large pinch of sea salt in a food processor to combine, then add butter and pulse until mixture is sand-textured. Add yolk and process until mixture comes together. Turn out onto a work surface and gently knead to come together. Flatten out the dough then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and firm (1 hour).

Preheat oven to 180°C. Unwrap dough and roll out to a 5 mm thickness. Using a 5cm round cutter, cut out 40 rounds, re-rolling as required. Cut out a small star from the centre of 20 of the biscuits. Place on 2 oven trays lined with baking paper (leaving about 3cm between each biscuit) and bake until biscuit edges are firm (10-12 minutes; swap trays halfway through cooking). Cool slightly on trays, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Peppermint Filling 
Place chocolate in a bowl and set aside. Bring cream to the simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Pour over chocolate, set aside to melt chocolate (5 minutes), then stir until smooth. Add peppermint extract, set aside to cool to spreading consistency.  Spoon a little of the peppermint filling onto half the biscuits, sandwich with remaining biscuits, sprinkle some of the crushed candy canes into the hole then set aside to set (15 minutes) and serve. Biscuits will keep stored in an airtight container for 3 days. 

See you all again tomorrow with the final bake for Xmas week, a show stopper of a dessert.

Bye for now,



xmas week 2017 - fruit mince wreath

20 Dec 2017

Welcome to day 3 of Christmas week 2017. This time last year I made a cinnamon and walnut wreath for Christmas which was delicious but I suspected it would taste even better if I added some fruit mince to the mix.

Some of my workmates don't like fruit mince so I told them I'd made an apple, sultana and walnut wreath and it disappeared in the blink of an eye. I made my regular babka dough; covered it with my usual cinnamon and butter filling then added a cup of my cheat's fruit mince. I then sprinkled over a handful of walnuts before rolling and slicing and proving.  

I can't tell you how good my kitchen smelt while I made this. Is it worth the extra effort to shape the babka into a wreath? Probably not but the wreath has a wow factor that a babka just doesn't possess. A word of warning though - you can't just whip the wreath up in a day; it's a definite 2 day process but I think it's worth the effort.

If you want to impress your friends and family for Christmas, here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams; I use unsalted butter and my oven is a conventional gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Fruit Mince Wreath
75g unsalted butter
100mls milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting
¼ tsp salt
45g caster sugar
2 tsps dried yeast
1 egg


80 g softened unsalted butter
100 g brown sugar
1 tsp golden or maple syrup
4 tsp ground cinnamon
50 g almond meal
⅓ cup nuts, roughly chopped (macadamias, almonds or walnuts)

Fruit Mince

One 310g bottle of fruit mince
1 green apple, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon thick cut orange marmalade
30 gm (1 oz) melted butter


⅓ cup water
⅓ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick


To make the dough, melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat, add milk and vanilla and heat until lukewarm. Mix flour, salt, sugar and yeast in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make a well in the centre, then, with motor running, pour the beaten egg into the well and gradually add the milk mixture and knead until smooth and shiny (2-3 minutes). The mixture will be quite soft at this stage. If it's not then you might need to add a little more milk.

Grease a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the greased bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (1 hour) or you can leave the dough to prove in the fridge overnight, which is what I usually do. The following day bring the dough back to room temperature while you prepare the filling.

In a small bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, the syrup and the ground cinnamon. Mix in the almond meal to form a paste, ensuring there are no lumps in the mixture. Set to one side. Put the fruit mince into a mixing bowl. Add the apple, the grated rind, the marmalade then the melted butter and mix until well combined.

Line a baking tray with baking paper or you can use a silicone baking mat. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle measuring 15 by 11 inches (38 by 28 cm). Trim the sides to make them even, then position the dough so that a long side is closest to you. Use an offset spatula to spread the filling over the rectangle, leaving a ¾ in/2 cm border all around. Measure out 1 cup of the prepared fruit mince. Spread the fruit mince on top of the filling using the offset spatula then sprinkle over the chopped nuts. Brush a little bit of water along the long end farthest away from you. Use both hands to roll up the rectangle like a roulade, starting from the long side that is closest to you and ending at the other long end. Press to seal the dampened end onto the roulade and then use both hands to even out the roll into a perfect thick cigar. Rest the cigar on its seam. At this stage I usually return the roll back to the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up the filling.

Trim about ¾ in/2 cm off both ends of the roulade with a serrated knife. Now use the knife to gently cut the roll into half lengthwise, starting at the top and finishing at the seam. You are essentially dividing the log into two long even halves, with the layers of dough and filling visible along the length of both halves. With the cut sides facing up, gently press together one end of each half, and then lift the right half over the left half. Repeat this process, but this time lift the left half over the right, to create a simple, two-pronged plait. If you like, you can just place the cake into a lined loaf tin to make a fruit mince babka. Otherwise, gently squeeze the two ends together to form a wreath showing the filling on top. Carefully lift the cake onto a baking paper lined oven tray, placing a small greased ovenproof ramekin in the centre of the wreath. Cover the wreath with a large upturned bowl or plastic bag and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 to 1½ hours.

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C, making sure you allow plenty of time for it to heat fully before the wreath has finished rising. Remove the bowl or plastic bag, place the wreath on the middle rack of the oven, and bake for about 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. If it’s not ready, then return to the oven for another 5 minutes. If you make this into a fruit mince babka, you'll need to bake the babka for about 30 minutes then test with a skewer as above.

While the wreath is in the oven, make the syrup. Combine the water, sugar and cinnamon stick in a saucepan; place over medium heat and bring to the boil. As soon as the sugar dissolves, reduce the heat and simmer the syrup for 5 minutes. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, brush the syrup over. It is important to use up all the syrup. Leave the cake until it is just warm, then remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely before serving. If you like you can tie a ribbon to add a festive touch.

You won't use all the fruit mince but it refrigerates well so I put any leftovers back into the bottle and use it to make mince pies just before Christmas.

I hope you get a chance to try this recipe as it's seriously good.

See you all again tomorrow for day 4 of Christmas week.

Bye for now,


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