Category Archives: Books

Cashew Honey Squares

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Cashew Honey Squares Today’s recipe is adapted from one in one of my newer cookbooks: The Baking Collection from The Australian Women’s Weekly.  Like so many Women’s Weekly cookbooks this one is a winner – sweet treats of every description from simple cakes and cookies to decadent pastries and fancy holiday delights.  An excellent collection of old fashioned Aussie favourites with some modern interpretations. These squares are soft and moist – more like mini cakes than a slice.  The honey works so beautifully with the cashews.  To top it all off they are SO easy.

Recipe

  • 1 c (150g) SR wholemeal flour
  • 1 c (220g) caster sugar
  • 1 c (90g) rolled oats
  • 1 c (80g) desiccated coconut
  • 2/3 c (70g) cashews, coarsely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 g butter melted, cooled slightly
  • 1 T honey
  • ½ c chopped cashews, extra

Honey Icing

  • 1 ½   c (160g) pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 60 g butter, melted
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 T hot water, approximately

Preheat oven to 160C. Line 23cm x 32cm (9” x 13”) swiss roll pan with baking paper. Combine dry ingredients and mix. Add eggs, butter and honey and mix well. Press firmly into pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool slice in pan. Meanwhile, make honey icing. Mix sugar, butter and honey well. Add enough water to make runny enough to pour. Spread over the slice, and top with remaining cashews. Adapted from Honey Walnut and Oat Squares, in The Baking Collection / The Australian Womens’ Weekly, 2013.

Book - TheBakingCollection

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Cinnamon Slice

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This recipe is just another excuse to indulge my love of cinnamon.  Goes well at a cake stall!

Cinnamon Slice

Recipe

  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c milk
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 4 T caster sugar extra
  • 4 t cinnamon extra

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 20 x 30 baking pan with baking paper. Combine extra sugar and extra cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.

Sift flour, caster sugar, cinnamon and baking powder into a bowl, and make a well in the middle.  Whisk eggs and milk in a small bowl. Pour egg mixture into the flour and mix with a metal spoon to roughly combine. Fold in the butter until batter is smooth – don’t overmix!

Pour half of the mixture into the pan and smooth out.  Sprinkle 2/3 of the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the batter. Gently smooth the remaining batter over.  Top with left over cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the pan before slicing.

“Sweet Food”

This recipe is adapted from a recipe in Sweet Food (Lynn Lewis (ed.).  Millers Pt : Murdoch Books, c2003, p98).  I just have to make mention of this book as it is one of my favourite go to books when I need to whip up a quick cake or slice.  There is a a good mix of reliable, easy to make and well articulated recipes for the time poor home baker.  I highly recommend it if you can find a copy!

Sweet Food

Christina Tosi at the Sydney International Food Festival

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The Sydney International Food Festival runs throughout October and there are special foodie experiences to be enjoyed throughout the city. The program includes everything from fine dining meal specials at top restaurants with international guest chefs to night noodle markets and breakfast at Bondi Beach. Whether you are a visitor from out of town enjoying the sights or a local getting out and about, the festival is a fun way to see and enjoy Sydney.  And Sydney is at its Harbour sparkling best in spring.

One of the Festival’s special guests this year is Christina Tosi from Momofuku Milk Bar in New York. I went to see her talk about Milk Bar at one of the World Chef Showcase sessions. The baker in me was so inspired and excited to see her.  It was amazing to hear someone proudly proclaim their love of sugar, and laugh about often preferring doughs and batters to the finished products. The great inspiration was the story of someone who has been able to turn her philosophy of having fun and not taking herself too seriously, along with a serious sweet tooth,  into a successful business. This ‘fun philosophy’ (along with a nod to American food traditions) is the starting point of her recipe ideas and the heart of the success of Milk Bar.

Christina Tosi is particularly known for her cereal milk, compost cookies and crack pie, all of which are featured in her new cookbook: Momofuku Milk Bar.  We tasted a compost cookie during the session and it was lovely – great crunch with a delicious tang from the coarse ground coffee bits.  However, my three picks from the book are the pistachio cake, chocolate chocolate cookies, and the cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookies.

Milk Bar also bakes savoury treats, which also have their own unique twist – think unexpected fillings, savoury butters in croissants, etc. Some of these are meals in their own right.

Christina is currently developing new recipes focusing on gluten-free, sugar-free and other bakery options to meet a broader range of dietary preferences. I am looking forward to her new ideas, but in the meantime, I will enjoy the inspiration that she shared at the food festival and the recipes in her wonderful cookbook.

Violet Coconut Macaroons

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I have talked before about my mom’s inclination to substitute ingredients in her baking and the frequently dodgy results.  Sweets in my adolescent years tended to be hard as rocks, and as heavy.  Of course we still ate them, but I frequently moaned about the obvious inadvisability of using recipes written for different ingredients (Betty Crocker sponge cakes really don’t work with wholemeal flour, honey and half the number of eggs!).  In fairness to my mom, there weren’t too many cookbooks out there back then that catered to alternative diets – particularly not for baking. Ingredients then were also much more limited: flour was either white or wholemeal, sweet meant sugar or honey, gluten free meant rice cakes and corn bread.

Nowadays we are so spoiled with options. Now there is a range of ingredients out there with which to excite any palette or dietary limitations. Inspiring cookbooks catering to this broader range of ingredients are still relatively rare, but they are there. I have one in particular that I really love for baking: Leon: baking and puddings – book 3 by Claire Ptak and Henry Dimbley.  Aside from the great range of recipes (not all of which require ‘health food aisle’ ingredients), this book also offers a fantastic guide to baking ingredients.  It explains (and demystefies) the different types of flour, sweeteners, fats, and rising and binding agents that are used in baking.

The recipe shown here from this book is for the best coconut macaroons I have ever tasted.  They are super easy and work perfectly every time. They are crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and totally mouth-watering!

Recipe

  • 3 egg whites
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 t honey
  • 150 g desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 t vanilla extract

Line a baking sheet with baking paper and pre-heat oven to 150C.

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a large saucepan. Stir all ingredients over a medium-low heat until well mixed and just beginning to scorch on the bottom.  Take the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Cook the mixture completely.  Use an ice cream scoop (about 50ml) to scoop out 10 even sized macaroons onto the baking sheet.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden and set. Cool completely before taking off the sheet.