Tag Archives: baking

Life lessons from baking a gingerbread tardis

‘Twas the day before Christmas Eve, and all through the house harsh words can be heard as a lone baker struggled with the impossible task of keeping cool during a searing 36 degrees Sydney summer  day. The baker realised, that much to her dismay that there was a reason why ginger bread dough needed to rest in the fridge prior to shaping. Wrestling with a warm dough pregnant with 185 grams of butter was rather like wrestling with a melting eel; slippery and impossible. 

Nevertheless, a promise was made that a tardis will be delivered come Christmas Lunch. Sighing the baker continues on. 

Gingerbread tardis

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Meatless Monday – Pear & Raspberry Bread and I wish you hadn’t asked

Art & About 2012

It is wet. I am standing inside a room dripping with water from its roof. Inside this little cottage, the smell of wet woollen rug and the metallic sound of water hitting metallic surface was overwhelmed by the sense of quiet that blanketed the room. I am in a dream, someone else’s or mine or ours meeting in this other worldly space it’s difficult to tell.

They say that a picture tells a thousand words, but I dare say experiencing an art work is a hundred thousand more. The Art & About installation work “I wish you hadn’t asked” is one which will likely haunt me in odd moments and several future dreams (rain coats optional).

I wish you hadn't asked

There is a moment in a relationship when something is said, or done, that can’t be taken back; then the rot sets in. Step inside this ordinary house where rain pours inside its walls, slowly destroying the private world within. Raincoats provided.

A word of advice for those who turned up expecting fireworks on the first day of Art and About, don’t. There are things around, but the programme on the first day felt a little bare compared to the lists of exhibitions and events listed in the catalogue handed out by helpful volunteers. Some of the exhibitions are so subtle you are likely to miss, like the smiley road signs posted close to Hyde Park. What you should do is come back multiple times and see all the facets of the Festival.

Art & About 2012

And now back to our usual Meatless Monday program. Today’s recipe being Pear & Raspberry Bread. The original recipe comes from Coles, and can also be accessed here.



  • 825 g can pear halves, drained, juice reserved (1 large Coles can)
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries


  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C or 160 °C fan. Grease a 15cm x 25cm loaf pan and line with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Puree half of the pears and chop remaining. Measure pear puree in a jug or measuring cup and add enough reserved juice to make up to 1 cup.
  3. Place dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add egg, oil, raspberries, pear puree mixture and chopped pears. Gently fold together until just combined. Fill prepared loaf pan. Bake for 60-65 mins until cooked when tested. Cool bread in pan. Store in an airtight container.

A few notes about this recipe. This bread is incredibly moist, so much that I wonder whether adding another 1/2 cup of flour will not go amiss. Next time, I would try not pureeing the pears, I don’t think it’s actually necessary as the canned pears are quite soft. I will definitely recommend pureeing fresh pears though.

Meatless Monday – Lemon and Honey ANZAC Tart


To those who voted in the council elections over the weekend, the results are slowly being tallied here. The advantage of living in Lilyfield is wandering down to the fantastic Orange Grove Market to pick up some ingredients before sauntering in to drop my vote. Today’s Meatless Monday is a dessert…K wanted something lemony, so off I went to the bookshelves only to realise with a sinking heart that all my lemon tart recipes will take another day of dough prepping.

Googling away I found the following Lemon and Honey ANZAC Tart recipe at taste.com.au.

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 300g Anzac biscuits (1 packet of biscuit)
  • 60g unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tbs honey, plus extra to serve
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, plus 150ml strained lemon juice
  • 395g can sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) pure (thin) cream
  • 4 eggs
  • Thickened cream, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  2. Place biscuits in a food processor and whiz until fine crumbs. Add butter and pulse to combine. Press crumb mixture into the base and sides of a 4cm x 22cm round loose-bottomed tart pan. Chill for 30 minutes or until firm.
  3. Place honey, lemon zest and juice, condensed milk, cream and eggs in a bowl and whisk gently until combined. Pour into the tart case and bake for 35 minutes or until just set but the centre still has a gentle wobble. Cool in the pan to room temperature, then place in the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours or until cold and set.
  4. To serve, slice the tart and drizzle with thickened cream and extra honey.

Spring is here and all the flowers are saying "pollinate me!"

This tart is really easy to make, and you get a lovely lemon-honey fragrance wafting from the oven when you’re baking. The consistency of the lemon mixture is very similar to a cheese cake, minus the cheese. I love the combination of coconut base combined with the zesty lemon taste. Serve with cream or vanilla ice ream while sipping tea in a garden while surrounded by the scent of spring,

Lemon and Honey Tart

Meatless Monday: Spinach, red onion and feta tart

Spinach, red onion and fetta pie

A crazy few weeks and being stranded in odd cities for work and leisure thanks to the ash cloud meant that I am a bit behind on posting (again1!). Nevertheless, here’s let’s hope we stay back on track with this simple, but delicious Spinach, red onion and feta tart.

I found the recipe from one of those recipe cards I picked up at Coles and was pleasantly surprised to realise that the Sydney Market has a pretty big list of recipes based on different season’s produce! Not so good is realising that their PDFs are locked and in order to reproduce the recipe I will have to type it up from scratch!


  • 3 sheets frozen short crust pastry
  • 2 bunches english spinach, leaves trimmed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 eggs lightly beaten (I made do with 3)
  • 3/4 cup thickened cream
  • salt and pepper
  • 60g kalamata olive pitted
  • 100g feta cheese crumbled
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degree celcius. Take pastry from freezer to defrost. Once defrosted use pastry to line up a 30cm loose based tart pan. Prick the base of pastry with a fork. Bake blind for 5 minutes, remove weights and bake again for another 6-8 minutes until pastry is crispy. Take out of the oven and cool slightly. Reduce temperature down to 180
  2. Wash and wilt spinach in the microwave for 3-5 minutes. Remove exceed liquid and chop roughly
  3. Heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly, line base of pan with onion and garlic mix. Sprinkle spinach on top.
  4. Whisk egg, cream, salt and pepper together. Pour over spinach. Sprinkle with olive and fetta, bake for 25-30 minutes until set. Cool slightly and remove from pan to serve.
Using the red onion for the base adds a lovely sweetness to the dish, balanced by the tartness of the olive and fetta. I added an extra sheet of pastry as the pastry became  a little too crispy with just 2 layers, other than that this is a very solid recipe!

Blue berry pie and getting back into nature

Three little martyoshkas ready to measure

So I have started doing a bit of baking again. The cold weather and the presence of someone with a very sweet tooth around means there is human garbage can  I can feed my failed attempts to.

Bluberry pie

I had my eye on Bill Granger’s recipe for Blue Berry Pie recipe from his “Feed Me Now” book for a while. Through various reasons, I never had enough butter to make the buttery pastry. I finally bought the required 360gm of butter on the weekend and out comes the rolling pin.

Blueberry pie recipe

500g plain flour
60g icing sugar
1 pinch of sea salt
360g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed (can and should be reduced to 300g)
130 ml soured cream (I used normal cream)

500g blueberries
115g caster sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tbs cornflour
2 medium egg yolks, lightly beaten (I find 1 was more than enough)
2 tbs white or demerara sugar

To serve
pouring custard, cream or vanilla ice cream

To make the pastry, sift the pastry ingredients into a bowl. Add butter and rub with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add cream and mix until dough comes together into a ball. Divide the dough in half, shape into balls and wrap each one in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before using. If you leave it for longer they turn into frozen butter balls.

Preheat the oven to 200 degree. Unwrap one pastry ball and roll out on a lightly floured surface to a 4mm thick round. Use to line a 23cm pie tin, lightly pressing the pastry into the corners, then trim the edge. Roll out the other pastry ball to a similar round and place on a board. Place the pie tin in the freezer for at least 15 minutes to set. Cover the other pastry sheet with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.

For the filling, toss the blueberries with the caster sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cornflour. Scatter evenly in the pastry case. Brush the rum of the pastry case with egg yolk, then lay the pastry round on top to cover the pie and press the pastry edges firmly together to seal, then crimp the rim with a fork dipped in flour.

Brush the top with egg yolk, sprinkle with sugar and make 5 small incisions in the pie lid. Stand the pie tin on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 170 degrees and bake for a further 35 minutes or until golden.

Allow the pie to cool before serving with ice cream.

Bluberry pie

The end result was an incredibly buttery , almost too buttery for my liking. It took me a lot longer to bake the pie in my old electric oven and there was a point when I thought the blue berry filling would explode. Thankfully that didn’t happen and the end result was quite satisfying. Gooey and warm in the inside, crustily flaky on the outside.

Fading flowering basil

I haven’t added gardening to my repertoire, but I just realised how much I missed taking my camera out and start taking photos of the most beautiful mundane objects. There is a little garden growing on a balcony sprouting baby vegetables that I have been watching for a bit. The gardener is not having much look so far and only the tiniest of vegetables are growing. Right now I have miniature carrots in my bridge, and not quite sure what to do with them…

Baby coriander DSC_0073 Basil DSC_0087

Vivian and drowning in baked goods

Sunday brunch

Our kitchen is currently packed with enough freshly baked good to keep us carb happy for the rest of the week. My housemate is back to his baking frenzy and we currently have a small mountain made up of delicious rock cakes. After nearly losing a tooth and breaking my jaw in the process, my past experience with rock cakes had been rather rocky (ahem). Though this version is lovely and more scone like, definitely give it a go if you have a kilogram of flour lying around.

My suggestion is to have it smothered with butter and fig jam. I bought a giant jar of the most delicious fig jam from Carluccio’s and can’t help but spread the love on any roll, toast or bread like substance.

On the knitting front, redrice bubble and I are knitting Vivian as our knit a long. So far, we’ve frogged it twice, but loving the pattern itself. It’s interesting enough to be challenging, but there’s enough repetition for it not too be too frustrating. I have knitted it using Bendigo Wooll’s classic 8ply with the colour being coffee. It will end up being a lighter hoodie than specified, but figured that it will be spring by the time I finish this one.

Vivian in progress,

Freaky Valentine

When valentine invades

What happened when Friday the 13th was the day before Valentine’s Day? Aside from the horror of heart shaped sashimi and (I suspect) a heart shaped axe being sold somewhere by a canny entrepreneur or two somewhere, the two rarely meets.

Zombie flashmob...

On Friday I wandered down to London Bridge to catch a glimpse of a flash mob dressed as zombies. Unfortunately the zombie mob was outnumbered by the photographers mob and the rather wary looking police force overlooking the entire scene. It was nothing like the impressive mob from last year’s World Zombie Day crowd, but I found the whole thing rather comical.

Lemon butter cookies

As for today, I was adamant not to touch anything remotely heart shaped. However after walking down Hampstead high street and being ambushed by everything from heart shaped cakes, cookies and giant signage I gave up and bought some heart shaped cutters. The recipe for these lemon butter cookies came from here. I added vanilla extract, but otherwise did not alter in any way. It was a nice simple recipe that would have been easy to alter, switching the lemon for vanilla, rose of attar or any other random flavour. I should have glazed the cookies before baking them, but otherwise I was quite happy with the way it turned out, buttery with a hint of lemon tang.

Lemon butter cookies

Knitting and baking

Peekaboo mittens WIP

Crappy disjointed week and the same is looking the same for next week unfortunately. Trying to finish projects that I have started, but I haven’t had much time to sit down properly do so…Above is an almost complete set of Peekaboo mittens (pattern by Pensive Frog) knitted using Jaeger Roma, shade 020 I picked up from Ally Pally a few months ago. I think I might need to redo the first one since the slit is not as centre as it should be.

ANZAC biscuits

With less than 4 weeks to go before my holiday starts I am becoming ridicilously home sick of late. Much to my housemates’ bemusement I came home after work and started baking ANZAC biscuits before I started cooking dinner. The recipe is taken from lemonpi’s blog and are mighty delicious with a hot cup of tea. I think the oats and flour here are quite different to home, a bit more fine than what I’m used to. Overall, I really like this version better than what usually comes out of the oven at home.

Comfort food – banana bread

Baking therapy - banana bread

After three months away from Australia, it surprised me that I haven’t craved anything too much. Well I do miss a good coffee that’s not from a coffee chain, Pork roll from the local Vietnamese bakery, great Asian food in general and a decent sausage roll…but nothing that made me wake up in the middle of the night craving it like mad.

For some reason I had been dreaming about banana bread for past week or so. It’s not the best looking food, but there’s something comforting about having it with my coffee when I need a quick pick me up. A treat is exactly what I needed after the longest week and a half where work was so slow to the point where I ended up checking flickr more often than I should.

As this is the first Saturday in ages where I didn’t have to be anywhere, all I wanted to do is to stay home and bake a loaf of banana bread using a recipe I begged off Miss I over the phone. This was exactly what I did for most of Saturday, with Keane’s Under The Iron Sea playing in the background.

The end result is as you see it. Not the most photogenic looking loaf, but absolutely delicious and suits the weather to a tea.

(Under threat of broken limbs I am never to reveal the recipe unfortunately…)