Coffee Cardamom Cake | Gluten Free

Warmly spiced gluten free coffee cake with sweet coffee and butter glaze.This moist cake is perfect when paired with a cup of your favourite brew, and a friend or two to share it with.Coffee Cardamom Cake | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeI made this cake to celebrate my friend Lynn‘s 30th birthday! This week my sweet baking and blogging buddy celebrates her birthday – and you can’t have a birthday without a birthday cake! Lynn and I bonded over our love of baking science, the colour orange, cardamom, anything ending in -oatmeal cookie or beginning in lemon poppyseed. And in two weeks Chris and I get to meet Lynn and her incredible husband Matt for the first time! I’m sure there will be lots of celebrating while we are taking a local’s tour of Philadelphia, but I just had to celebrate my sweet bloggy friend’s birthday with a cake, which probably wouldn’t pack very well!Coffee Cardamom Cake | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeLynn makes no secret of her love of coffee, and we are both massive fans of the sometimes under-used cardamom. This cake has a decent dose of each, and is sweetened only with brown sugar, which contributes moistness and an extra depth to this simple, but celebration-worthy coffee cake. Sometimes coffee cakes can be a little dry, but the brown sugar in this cake, along with the Greek yoghurt keep it nice and moist, and the coffee and butter glaze that tops the cooled cake gives a final touch of moisture and sweet coffee crackle. This gluten free cake is so simple to put together. Just creaming, beating, stirring, baking, and frosting. Simple but perfect. Coffee Cardamom Cake | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeSimple though this cake might be, its simplicity is deceptive. I cut myself a slice to taste the cake before taking the remains to work, but I found myself returning not long after I’d finished that first slice for just ‘one more piece’. If you are a ‘one more sliver’ person who finds herself standing bathed in refrigerator light cutting perfectly straight lines with her fork, then this cake is dangerous to you – and so worth making! Everything about this cake is classic but perfect. Take it with you to a morning tea, or bake it up for your next celebration, this cake is simple sweet heaven.

Happy birthday Lynn! Coffee Cardamom Cake | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Coffee Cardamom Cake

Gluten Free | Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 80 grams brown rice flour
  • 80 grams buckwheat flour
  • 50 grams white rice flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 125 grams butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150 grams (3/4 cup) brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup Greek/natural yoghurt

For the frosting

  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup walnuts

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and butter and line an 8-inch (20cm) round cake tin. Set aside until required.
  2. Mix together coffee and warm water and set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, white rice flour, baking powder, and cardamom.
  4. In the bowl of a standmixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl using a handmixer) beat together butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy.
  5. Add cooled coffee mixture and vanilla extract and beat in.
  6. Mix in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.
  7. Beat in flour in two additions, alternating with the yoghurt.
  8. Pour batter into prepared cake tin and smooth the top. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes back clean.
  9. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
  10. To make the frosting dissolve coffee in milk. Place in the bowl of a standmixer fitted with the paddle attachment along with the butter and icing sugar. Beat until smooth.
  11. Frost the top of the cooled cake and top with the walnuts.

Coffee Cardamom Cake | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Ginger, Apple, and Almond Cake

I wish I could invite you over for coffee and cake. Just like last time I had a good, weighty, spiced cake to share over a cup of tea, there is much to talk about. Not big exciting things or changes in my life, but ideas and thoughts beyond my own sphere of experience. The mind knows no bounds and out there are ideas for us to capture, absorb, understand, and discuss. Ideas like – how would you live, how would you choose to live, in the shadow of an unpredicted, unexpected stroke that might reoccur at any moment, or, never again? Geoff Dyer provides insight. Lighter, happier ideas like wishing that this was my new kitchen, just look at those gleaming benches and that magnetic blackboard wall!

Ginger, Apple, and Almond Cake | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

We would pour cups of freshly percolated coffee and I would serve you thick slices of this moist gingery cake with an angel dust coating of icing sugar, and over mouthfuls of soft sweet apple and roasted almonds we would talk about the intricacies of the creative brain or how neither of us can believe it took me so long to read this book.

Ginger, Apple, and Almond Cake | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 

At our worn wooden table we would share the thoughts that have made us smile, what has kept us up into the wee hours of the morning. What has made us grateful to be here, and all the future plans that we are looking forward to bringing into reality (hint: suitcases are hopefully involved!). One slice is not enough to enjoy the heady ginger scent and the richness of brown sugar, nor is it enough to talk about all that occupies our hearts and minds. Oh, won’t you knock on the door and come over for a coffee and a chat?

Ginger, Apple, and Almond Cake | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Ginger, Apple, and Almond Cake

Serves 10-12. Makes one 8-inch bundt cake

Note: if self-raising flour is unavailable use 2 1/2 cups plain flour and 1 tablespoon baking powder. To toast nuts: measure 1/2 a cup, spread over a tray and place in an oven heated to 180C (350F) and roast in oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and then chop.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups self raising flour (see note)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 100 grams butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup Greek/natural yoghurt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and roughly chopped (see note)
  • 2 medium apples, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Grease an 8-inch bundt tin very well. Set aside until required.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt.
  3. In a medium size bowl whisk together melted and cooled butter, golden syrup, milk, yoghurt, eggs, and vanilla essence.
  4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just mixed.
  5. Add almonds and apples and stir to distribute. Pour batter into prepared tin and smooth top.
  6. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  7. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool in tin for 15 minutes. Then turn out onto a plate and allow to cool completely.
  8. When cake is cool mix together icing sugar and cornflour and sift over cake.
  9. Serve with whipped cream or by itself.

Ginger, Apple, and Almond Cake | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Sprinkle and White Chocolate Cookies

Some of my earliest memories are of making cookies. Four year old Amy standing on a stool watching Mum make her famous chocolate chip cookies after she had put Jessica down for a nap; seven year old Amy and four year old Jess getting their hands dirty rolling dough into balls while making melting moments with Dad from his old Navy cookbook. Staying overnight at our Mormor’s house the scents of a faraway Denmark would be conjured as we made biscuits whose recipes were only carried in Mormor’s memory. As we got older we took over the kitchen in the afternoons and made the classic cookies and biscuits that had become a tradition in our biscuit tin. Perhaps that is why cookies are the first thing I want to cook when I step into the kitchen. When I am sad a batch of chocolate chip cookies is the cure. When I am happy whipping up delicate sandwiched creations are a celebratory experience.

Sprinkle and White Chocolate Cookie | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

These cookies are a celebration: of Easter, of time with family, and of chocolate and sprinkles and the fact that it’s okay to be frivolous sometimes. These are chewy cookies studded with sweet white chocolate chips and showered with a confetti of coloured sprinkles. The dough is rich with vanilla and almond extracts. One request: remember to chill the dough because this stops the butter from melting as soon as it comes into contact with the heat from the oven and therefore prevents the cookies from spreading too much. It seems like a pain, but really it gives you time to clean the kitchen so that you can enjoy your cookies without having to worry about the dishes. These are also great to make with the little ones. Soon enough they’ll be grown and making them for you!

Sprinkle and White Chocolate Cookie | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Sprinkle and White Chocolate Cookies

Gluten free. Makes at least 24 cookies. I used ‘Dollar Sweets’ Sprinkles because they are gluten free!

If you do not require these to be gluten free you can use a total of 2 cups of plain flour in place of the almond meal, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, and sorghum flour.

Ingredients

  • 125 grams butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 70 grams almond meal
  • 70 grams brown rice flour
  • 75 grams buckwheat flour
  • 75 grams sorghum flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup multi-coloured sprinkles
  • 200 grams white chocolate chips

Method

  1. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper and set aside until needed.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together almond meal, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, sorghum flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl beat butter, sugars, vanilla and almond extracts until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs and beat until smooth.
  5. Add flour mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. Stir in sprinkles and chocolate chips until completely distributed.
  6. Cover bowl and chill dough for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Place heaped tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave at least 6cm between the balls of dough as these cookies will spread during cooking.
  8. Once you have used up all the dough return the trays to the refrigerator for another 20 minutes. This is the time to preheat the oven to 160C (320F).
  9. When the oven has heated to the right temperature bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. Rotate trays halfway through baking time.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  11. The cookies will keep for four days in an airtight container.

Sprinkle and White Chocolate Cookie | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Cookies always feature at our family celebrations. Do you have a family cookie recipe that is handed down through the generations?

Salted Cashew and White Chocolate Cookies (gluten free)

Today is Saturday. I don’t think you can find a person in the world who doesn’t understand the fragile and fleeting beauty of a Saturday morning. More energetic than a Friday night when you are tired from working all week, and less worrisome than a Sunday afternoon when work looms large on the horizon. Saturday morning are one of my favourite times of the week. Saturday mornings mean the farmers markets with my mum and sister, Saturday mornings mean a long run when I am in training (such as at the moment), and after that run, Saturday mornings mean cookies.

DSC01033

These cookies are a riff on the Chunky Dunkers that I made a few months ago. (And by made we all know that I mean that they barely made it out of the oven before I was double-fisting them and cursing my mouth for not being big enough to hold more than one bite at a time.)

The Salted Cashew and White Chocolate Cookies are slightly salted, in fact next time I make them I may bump the salt up to a whole teaspoon rather than a half just to get that extra little salty kick. The cashew butter is subtle but more pronounced once the cookies are cooled, and it makes the crumb oh so tender. And when that tender, salty dough meets salted cashews and creamy sweet white chocolate chunks your mouth explodes in a divine explosion of cookie goodness.

DSC01036

Salted Cashew and White Chocolate Cookies (gluten free)

If you don’t need these to be gluten free you can use 250 grams of plain flour in place of the rice flour and buckwheat flour). 

Makes about 20 cookies.

Ingredients

  • 50 grams butter, softened
  • 60 grams cashew butter
  • 50 grams caster sugar
  • 125 grams brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (ensure this is gluten free)
  • 100 grams white rice flour
  • 150 grams buckwheat flour
  • 150 grams white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup salted cashews, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line two large cookie sheets with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl beat butter, cashew butter, sugars, and vanilla until light and fluffy. I used a wooden spoon, but you can use a hand-held mixer instead.
  3. Add egg and milk and beat well.
  4. Sift in salt, baking powder, and flours. Stir until well combined.
  5. Mix in chocolate and nuts until evenly distributed.
  6. Scoop out mounds of dough with a soup spoon (or an ice cream scoop if you want extra-large cookies). Leave about 6 cm between cookies to allow for spreading.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Rotate halfway through cooking time.
  8. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

DSC01046

 

Sometimes the bribe of a cookie keeps my feet turning over in the last mile or two. Sometimes the craving hits after I get home, but the cookie can never be ignored. So go on, treat yourself. It’s the best way to start the weekend.

Tell me dear reader, how do you like to start your Saturday mornings? Anything special that you look forward to all week?

Weekend Breakfast: Honey, Apple, and Spice Loaf

Could we still call this breakfast? Perhaps brunch might be a more apt title. It was well after eleven this morning when I slid this loaf into the oven, and just before twelve when I sat down to a slice cut from the still- warm loaf. We had a long night on Saturday, celebrating a friend’s birthday, and a Sunday sleep-in session was most definitely required. The problem with sleeping in though is that I am not very good at it. I get up at five during the week, and I can make my body sleep until eight, but any time past that and I am a alert and awake. I feel sorry for my poor darling, who is talented in the art of hibernation, and has to deal with a girlfriend who wriggles around like a sack of jumping beans and can’t get back to sleep once she has decided to wake up and start the day.

Breakfast Winnie the Pooh and Piglet

A.A. Milne’s classic

Today was one of those mornings. I tried to snuggle. I tried to grasp onto the last remembered threads of sleep and wander back into dreamland again. But it was to no avail. I had already set my mind on another goal: breakfast. There were so many options: muesli with yoghurt and berries, gluten free toast with jam, cornflakes with strawberries. And then, I remembered the apples. Too soft to eat, too ripe and red and juicy to be thrown away – perfect for baking. Cloaked in a warmly spiced batter the apples were transformed from rejected snacks to a celebrated breakfast. Perfect for a nourishing Sunday meal whether you want to call it breakfast or brunch, or just a sweet treat.

DSC00753

Honey, Apple, and Spice Loaf (gluten free)

As always, if you do not require this to be gluten free please replace the buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, and almond meal with 230 grams of plain flour. You could use a mixture of wholemeal and white in this cake as it would hold up well with the breakfast attitude and homeliness of the apples and spices.

Ingredients:

  • 100 grams buckwheat flour
  • 80 grams brown rice flour
  • 50 grams almond meal
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 apple cored and diced
  • 2 tablespoons flaked almonds

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C (375F) and line a 9 x 4 inch loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl, this should only take about 20 seconds. Then stir in honey and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, almond meal, brown sugar, baking powder, and the spices. Ensure that there are no large lumps of brown sugar. You might have to break them up with your fingers.
  4. In a separate, small, bowl whisk together buttermilk, vanilla essence, and eggs.
  5. Add melted butter and buttermilk to the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir the chunks of apple through.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan, sprinkle with flaked almonds, and slide into the oven.
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes. You may have to cover this halfway through to stop the almonds from burning.
  8. Remove and allow to cool completely before slicing. Although, sliced warm and eaten plain, or with jam, it makes a lovely Sunday breakfast with a large mug of tea and a good newspaper.

DSC00754

Tell me dear reader, do you enjoy sleeping in? Or are you an up-and-at-em person? Also, weekend breakfast/brunch, what’s your favourite?

A.A. Milne's classic.

Just Make These – Trust Me: Chunky Dunkers

I know, the title, it’s a little…forceful, but believe me, I do not speak with vehemence and command unless absolutely necessary. I have made these cookies twice in the past two weeks. Once, with wheat flour for a mid-week treat and as a thank you to our neighbours, and last night with gluten-free flours as the sweet send-off after a family dinner gathering. Last night in fact, the whole batch was devoured. I may have had a heavy hand in this. In fact, it may have come down to a close friend and I slowly picking at the skeleton of the orphan cookie (you know, the last one on the plate after all the others have been eaten) until I finally snatched up the last crumb and declared myself the greedy winner.

DSC00696

These are the cookies you crave when you are craving cookies. The moist just-cooked centres that completely satisfy the inner you that is torn between eating the whole bowl of raw cookie dough and actually being a grown-up and making sure most of it ends up on the baking tray and in the oven. You know, that inner part of you. I can’t seriously be the only one… Yesterday was a cookie craving kind of day. I was writing reports, which is an interesting learning process that I, strangely, enjoy. It started after lunch. My nice, sensible lunch, filled with protein and healthy carbohydrates to refuel me after a morning run and ride. I sat at my computer sipping a cup of green tea, rubbing the skin of my Sundowner apple (my favourite, and currently in season), while I tried to get my report-writing mojo back. All I could think was….mmm cookies… The first words I said to my mother when I got home? “I’m making cookies”. With a business-like tone and a nod to confirm my multi-calorie deal. An hour later, I emerged triumphant. A warm cookie and glass of almond milk in my hands. Yes, make these, make them now. Sharing the orphan cookie is entirely optional…

DSC00692

Chunky Dunkers (gluten free)

If you don’t need these to be gluten free you can use 250 grams of plain flour in place of the rice flour and buckwheat flour). You can also use milk chocolate or white if you don’t enjoy dark chocolate, or why not a mix of both? 

  • 50 grams butter, softened
  • 60 grams peanut butter (I used super crunchy, because why bother with anything else)
  • 50 grams caster sugar
  • 125 grams brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder (ensure this is gluten free)
  • 100 grams white rice flour
  • 150 grams buckwheat flour
  • 150 grams dark chocolate, chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line two large cookie sheets with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl beat butter, peanut butter, sugars, and vanilla until light and fluffy. I used a wooden spoon, but you can use a hand-held mixer instead.
  3. Add egg and milk and beat well.
  4. Sift in salt, baking powder, and flours. Stir until well combined.
  5. Mix in chocolate until evenly distributed.
  6. Scoop out mounds of dough with a soup spoon (or an ice cream scoop if you want extra-chunky dunkers). Leave about 6 cm between cookies to allow for spreading.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Rotate halfway through cooking time.
  8. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool completely.  (Except for the obligatory baker’s cookie, which must be snatched still warm from the tray and devoured in post-baking glory).

DSC00691

Tell me, dear reader, what is your favourite type of cookie? Are you a crunchy fan or a soft, doughy fan? Nuts or no nuts?

These are definitely my favourites: I am a choc-chip lover! And doughy all the way, except for shortbread, which must be crispy and crumbly. Nuts, definitely nuts.

Midwinter Skies and Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Midwinter

winter again

so newly cold

spring summer autumn lie in drifts under the trees

the dreamtime has come

in suspension

a fire in a clearing

in the forest

with, overhead, the stars.

Clouds of breath, heads are planets,

the newness of finding answers,

making a shelter from the rain

firewood, dry sticks. Last year’s

poems are kindling, they make good fuel

good flame, good ashes. Birds who have stayed

sing about cold, the clarity

of the moon, the stony creekbed its sounds

of the scent of brewing tea, winter again,

a fire in a clearing.

~ Michael Dransfield, Collected Poems (1987).

gabby's lemon tree

In the middle of a Queensland winter the skies magically clear. The veil of cloud is drawn from the sky and pure, crystalline blue paints the dome of the sky and pervades the view from every window. Against this azure canvas the bright waxy yellow skin of the lemons on my neighbour’s lemon tree stand bright and bold and beautiful. I long for the sharp clean taste of lemon juice and rind in everything I eat. Sharp, acidic, pure it cuts through the sticky sweet or slow-cooked savoury pots of winter food. I also love using lemon in baked goods, and this Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake is the perfect mid-morning midwinter treat. Cut a thick slab, brew some tea, and watch the winter sky for a little while.

DSC00601

Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I used a 10-inch bundt cake tin for my cake. You could use a 10-inch springform pan instead if you do not have a bundt tin. Please ensure that you butter and line the tin well to avoid leaving half your cake in the pan. This is especially important with intricately designed bundt tins.

This is the kind of cake that keeps well for a few days. Perfect to make on a Sunday and wrap up slices for lunch box treats throughout the week.

Ingredients:

  • 125 grams butter, softened
  • 100 grams cream cheese
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence
  • 250 grams plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). Thoroughly butter (or oil) a 10-inch bundt tin and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachments beat together butter and cream cheese until completely combined and smooth.
  3. Add caster sugar to bowl and beat until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs to bowl one at a time and beat each addition until well combined. Scrape down the bowl between each egg.
  5. Pour lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla essence into the batter and mix well.
  6. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mix to bowl and on low speed mix together until just combined. You may wish to finish the mixing by hand so that you do not over mix the batter.
  7. Pour batter into prepared bundt tin and slide into the oven.
  8. Bake for 35-45 minutes (this will vary on your oven, and the size of the baking tin used). Check every 10 minutes. Towards the end of baking you may need to cover the top with aluminium foil to avoid a burnt crust.
  9. Insert a wooden skewer into the middle of the cake. It should come out clean when the cake is completely cooked. Remove cake from the oven and cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Then upturn cake onto a cooling rack and cool to room temperature before drizzling with lemon glaze and serving.

To make the lemon glaze: mix together 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice until smooth. You want a firm but flowing consistency – stiff enough that it doesn’t fall off the cake, but liquid enough to flow down the sides. You may need to adjust the amount of juice or icing sugar to achieve this consistency.

DSC00592

Tell me dear reader, do you love midwinter mornings?

Any favourite poems about your part of the world?

New York Style Chocolate Streusel Crumb Cake

New York holds special memories for me. My darling Casey and I had an amazing adventure there five years ago (can you believe it’s been five years Case?) and since we left, I have held the memory of tall buildings blocking out the horizon, eternally busy side walks and subway stations, and millions of lives lived side-by-side in a special place in my heart. We ate peaches, the juice dribbling down our chins as we walked along the upper reaches of Broadway, and bought souvenirs, and ate rice soup for lunch and then splurged on dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s ‘The London NYC‘ and drank cocktails in the lounge of the Algonquin Hotel catching sight of the hotel cat before we returned to our upper west-side hovel of a hostel.

Night skyline

Night skyline

New York seems a lifetime ago: hot sticky days where the warm air blowing out of the subway vents seemed almost cooling; hours wandering around every museum we could find (still missed out on the Guggenheim though…); trying on clothes in the department stories we had dreamed of for a long time (I’ll be back one day Saks); picnicking in Central Park (crème brulee and raspberries from Dean & Deluca is really the only way to do it); dinners at the Barking Dog Restaurant (if I lived in New York this would be my local diner) – and the myriad desserts and baked goodies that we discovered in our two week adventure. Oh the cupcakes, the blueberry shortcake with ice cream, the toasted pecan and toffee ice cream, the molten chocolate cakes, the chocolate-cardamom truffles….

Casey and I in the city that never sleeps

Casey and I in the city that never sleeps

The crumb cake or streuselkuchen was originally made by European immigrants and over time has become synonymous with New York coffee shop foods. I honestly cannot remember if we ate crumb cake while we were in New York, however it seemed as though we delighted in every other baked good, so it is entirely probable that we did. My love is for the streusel, the crumb, itself. This cake features a buttery, cinnamon fragranced crumb followed by a layer of chocolate and then a slightly dry vanilla cake beneath – perfect for pairing with a morning cup of coffee, or for a slightly more indulgent treat, try a mocha cappuccino – trust me.

photo (33)

New York Style Chocolate Streusel Crumb Cake

I can’t really think of anything to say about this cake other than: make it and share it and you will have friends forever. Perfect to take to work for those potluck morning teas.

Ingredients for crumbs:

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Ingredients for cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 2/3 cup chopped chocolate, or chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Grease the sides and bottom of a 9 1/2-inch round springform pan. Line the bottom with baking paper.
  2. Melt butter in the microwave. In a separate bowl whisk together all other ingredients for crumb. Stir in melted butter with a fork until mixture is crumbly.
  3. In a medium-size bowl whisk together plain flour, caster sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Measure out sour cream into a measuring jug and then whisk in eggs and vanilla bean paste.
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add sour cream mixture. Beat until smooth.
  6. Pour batter into the pre-lined baking tin. Sprinkle chopped chocolate or chocolate chips over the batter, then spread crumb mixture evenly over the top of the chocolate.
  7. Slide cake into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean (there may be some melted chocolate sticking to the skewer, but no cake mixture).
  8. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing the cake from the tin and then allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

DSC00586

Tell me dear reader, do you have any favourite holiday spots that you can’t wait to return to? Any favourite food memories from vacation?

Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib Stew with Rosemary Pecorino Cornbread

I have spoken before of my difficult relationship with winter. There is something about the empty cold blue sky and long windy nights that leaves me feeling expectant somehow (no, not that kind of expectant), restless, waiting for spring. One thing I do love about winter though is the long walks I take in the mornings, and the stories that I listen to along the way. I am currently obsessed with historical podcasts, in particular ‘Stuff You Missed in History Class‘ (I am currently working my way through their back catalogue) and the podcast produced by The National Archives.

DSC00541

Some of my fondest memories as a child are the nights when either Mum or Dad would read to my sister and I before we fell asleep. When Jess and I shared a bedroom, Mum would settle herself between our twin beds and read to us from ‘Listen with Mother’ (a book produced from the BBC radio show of the same name). ‘Are you sitting comfortably?’ she would ask. My sister and I would reply with a sleepy chorus of ‘yes’, and Mum would begin to weave a story in her smooth, perfect voice. Other nights my Dad would be on storytelling duty. These were the nights that Jess and I would be allowed to fall asleep in Mum and Dad’s big bed. All three of us would pile into their water bed, Dad snuggled in between, our very own captive storyteller. With his glasses perched on the end of his nose so that he could see on the awkward angle he was forced into. He would crack open ‘Stuart Little‘ or ‘The Giant Baby‘ and read us a chapter or two until our heads would drop back onto the pillows.

DSC00552

Listening to stories about historical figures or events makes me feel like I am back inside the cocoon of comfort woven during those story-filled nights. I am lost in the world of whichever character or adventure is the topic of discussion. From the strange life of Margery Kempe, to the spine-tingling true story of Broadmoor Hospital, or the real life pirate story of Stede Bonnet, I am kept captivated by the tale until the very last minute. Long winter nights are similarly made for tales – true or fantastic. A belly full of something warm and satisfying is all you need before settling back in your favourite chair with a book, or a podcast, or your favourite storyteller and losing yourself in the pursuit of adventure.

DSC00556

Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib Stew

For the beef to most satisfyingly fall from the bones and melt into the thick vegetable and wine stew this must cook for at least four hours. A longer cooking time of six hours will render the flesh so tender and flavoursome that angels and demons will weep together. There was little conversation at our dinner table last night as Mum and Dad scooped their bowls of stew out with Rosemary and Pecorino Cornbread (recipe follows). Make this on a weekend when you can curl up comfortably with a book while the scent of red wine and paprika fills the house and drives away the coldest winter day.

A note about wine: I used Lambrusco because my Dad loves it and the rest of the bottle didn’t go to waste. You can use whatever your favourite red wine is, and then serve the leftovers with dinner (or drink it while you wait for dinner to cook – we don’t judge in my house).

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 chunky beef short ribs (about 800 grams)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large brown onion, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, diced
  • 1/2 red capsicum, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, chunkily chopped
  • 3 small-medium potatoes, diced
  • 400 gram tin tomato purée
  • 400mL red wine (measured in tomato tin)
  • 1L beef stock
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C (300ºF) and arrange oven racks to accommodate a large casserole dish.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large stove top safe oven-proof casserole dish with a lid. Brown the beef short ribs on each side and then remove to a plate. Add celery, onion and garlic to the pan and sauté until the onion is clear.
  3. Tumble the capsicum, carrot and potatoes into the dish and add the paprika and thyme leaves. Stir so that all the vegetables are coated. Cook for about 5 minutes with the lid off.
  4. Add the short ribs back into the dish and add the bay leaves, tomato purée, red wine and beef stock. Give the mixture a big stir so that all the ingredients are covered by the liquid.
  5. Bring casserole to a simmer. Remove from the stove top and place in the preheated oven.
  6. Cook for four to six hours. Give the casserole a stir every forty-five minutes. At the end of the cooking time you may want to thicken up the sauce a little. Simply remove the beef ribs and in a small glass mix together one tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch) and one tablespoon cold water and stir this into the stew. Bring to a bubble on the stove top again and then replace the short ribs.
  7. Serve in big deep bowls with a decent chunk of cornbread. And maybe a little butter too. And wine, definitely wine (or red fizzy drink for Mum).

DSC00554

Rosemary Pecorino Cornbread (gluten free)

Just a few notes: one, I used fine grain polenta, not the the quick cooking or pre-prepared kind in the US this is probably labelled cornmeal; two, you can replace the buckwheat flour with plain flour if you are not cooking for a coeliac. If you cannot find pecorino cheese use a sharp cheddar or parmesan instead.

Ingredients:

  • 160 grams fine grain polenta
  • 80 grams buckwheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (gluten free)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary)
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). If you are cooking this at the same time as the short ribs above, 170ºC will be fine and may just require a few more minutes to cook. Line an 8-inch square baking tin with baking paper.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together polenta, buckwheat flour, salt, black pepper, and baking powder.
  3. Whisk in rosemary and pecorino. Set aside for the moment.
  4. In a small jug measure out the buttermilk. Into this whisk the olive oil and eggs until thoroughly combined.
  5. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and briskly mix in the wet ingredients.
  6. Pour batter into lined tin and slide into the oven.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Allow to cool, or not, before serving with a steaming hot bowl of soup, or simply a generous dob of butter.

DSC00548

Tell me, dear reader, what are your childhood memories of storytelling? Any favourite books? Do you still like listening to a soothing voice telling tales of adventure and daring?

Almond Butter Shortbread (gluten free)

Lately I have been addicted to The Newsroom – the TV show about a TV show. Jeff Daniels stars as a news anchorman, Emily Mortimer is his senior producer, and these two have a tenuous relationship and heavy history that adds delicious background tension to the political and media-related commentary of the show. I bow down to Aaron Sorkin’s genius, from the opening score (beautifully composed by Thomas Newman) to the real news footage laced throughout each episode, every piece of the show comes together perfectly.

Last night as I was balancing a bowl of baked beans and broccoli (post-gym and pre-internship online work dinner) on my knees curled up under the covers of Chris’s bed I commented to Chris that every time we finishing watching an episode I feel heavier. I feel weighted down by the emotional interpretation and exposition of each news story that this fictional team of journalists and newsroom staffers present. The scope of the stories and the impact of the facts that the team choose to expose and those they choose to hide seem more comprehensible viewed through the lens of a period of hindsight and the filter of fiction.

(c) HBO

(c) HBO

In reality I am an aspiring news-junky. Chris and I watch a lot of American political satire (our favourite is The Colbert Report), and I listen to ABC radio and pick up The Australian newspaper whenever I can, but given the chance I will just read the arts section of the newspaper and listen to the developments of the day before I return to reading blog posts from my favourite writers on the web. Still, one day I will learn enough to make erudite arguments at cocktail parties (because I go to so many of those…) or contribute knowledge-based arguments across the dinner table at large gatherings (my people generally aren’t discussing politics when we could be discussing Proust’s madeleines or the latest from delicious. magazine). For now, I am happy being an eternal student of the news, and dedicated watcher of The Newsroom.

I am curious though, where do y’all get your news from? Are you dedicated to one news program over the other? The hours of 6-7:30pm in my parent’s house is dedicated to various news and current affairs programs, while I am more of a radio news person.

As the closing credits rolled across the screen last night I had long finished my dinner and finally I tip-toed out to the kitchen, put the kettle on, and snuck one of these Almond Butter Shortbreads to nibble alongside while I pondered the latest developments from my favourite (fictional) news team…and scrolled through some blogs of course…

All piled up and ready for afternoon tea.

All piled up and ready for afternoon tea.

Almond Butter Shortbread (gluten free)

These are crisp little biscuits that are perfect saucer-side to accompany a cup of tea or coffee. They keep well for about a week in an airtight container and are perfect with or without the chocolate drizzle, but come on, who can live without some chocolate drizzle on their shortbread…

Note: almond butter is available from most supermarkets now or your local health food shop. If you want, you can make your own, which I plan to do when my current pot of nut butter runs out – try this recipe from Martha Stewart.

Ingredients

  • 100 grams butter, softened
  • 75 grams almond butter
  • 100 grams raw sugar (turbinado sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 150 grams buckwheat flour
  • 100 grams brown rice flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 100 grams dark chocolate, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (350F) and line two large cookie sheets with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl cream together butter, almond butter, and raw sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl sift together buckwheat and brown rice flours and cardamom.
  5. Add sifted flour mix to batter and combine. This is a very dry mixture so you may need to knead it with your hands to finish it off. Gather mix into a ball and place on a bench that is lightly sprinkled with some extra buckwheat flour.
  6. Roll out mix to 0.5-0.7 mm thickness and using desired cookie cutter (do you like my pretty birds?) cut out shapes and place on lined cookie sheets. Leave a few centimetres between each cookie so that they bake properly.
  7. Slide cookie sheets into preheated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden on top.
  8. Remove and cool completely.
  9. Once cookies are completely cooled, melt chocolate in the microwave and drizzle over the cookies.
  10. Allow chocolate to set (if you can wait that long) and then serve.
My afternoon treat.

My afternoon treat.

 

Dear reader, are you a Newsroom fan? Are you  a political news junkie? Or celebrity news junkie?