Summer Fruit Galette

It’s the end of summer (already Autumn if you talk to some) but the summer fruit seems to still be coming thick and fast. We had some great peaches the other day so I whipped out this really quick and easy galette instead of a pie for a casual dinner with friends.  We were in a rush so I used bought pastry and it was perfectly fine. If you have time, homemade sweet short party would be next level.

Summer fruit galette

6(ish) peaches, ripe but not too ripe
1 punnet fresh blueberries (or 1 cup frozen)
1 tablespoon corn flour
1 tablespoon sugar (optional – leave out if you think your fruit is ripe and sweet enough)
1 packet sweet short pastry, thawed

Roll pastry out on a piece of baking paper, to a rough rectangle the size of an A4 piece of paper.   Toss the peaches, corn flour and sugar (if using) in a bowl, then spread onto the rolled pastry, leaving a gap a few centimetres around the outside. Fold the edges up over the fruit, making a rough kind of pie crust effect. Gently dot the blueberries over the top of the pie, and in between any gaps in the peaches.

Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, depending how thick the fruit layer is. The peaches should be soft to the tip of a sharp knife and the pastry golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes to let the juices thicken, then dust with icing sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Lemon Yoghurt Syrup Cake

I’ve had this cake in my recipe book for so long I can’t remember where I ever found it.  I often make it when I need to bake something quick and easy, when I have excess lemons to use or a touch of leftover yoghurt.  It keeps well although in my house it normally doesn’t last long enough to find out.  

Over the years I’ve adjusted the recipe little, just reducing the sugar in the cake a touch as a reaction to modern trends, and you can use any kind of “cultured dairy”, plain unsweetened yoghurt, sour cream or creme fraiche. The tangier the better though, to go with the tangy lemons.

It’s best to pour hot syrup over a hot cake, otherwise it can go a little soggy.

Lemon Yoghurt Syrup Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup yoghurt (or sour cream) – (I love The Collective Straight Up plain unsweetened, its tangy but not bitter and nice and creamy)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use ricebran but something light with little flavour will do)
3 eggs
zest of 2 lemons

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons, how convienent!!)

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease and line the base of your tin (20cm round, 20x30cm sheet cake tin, or a loaf tin) with baking paper.

In a bowl sift the dry ingredients. In another bowl whisk together wet ingredients and lemon zest. Combine the two bowls, gently mixing to incorporate together. Don’t beat too much or you will end up with bubbles in the cake.

Pour into cake tin and bake in centre of oven for 40-45 mins until a skewer comes out clean. (If baking in a slice/sheet cake tin, this will be a shorter time, 25-30 minutes but just keep an eye on it.). 

While cake is cooking heat sugar and lemon juice to make a syrup.  If you have extra lemon zest or juice it won’t hurt to add them to the pan. 

Remove cake from the oven and poke holes with a skewer all over the cake. Place on a board or plate to catch any stray syrup, and pour hot lemon syrup over the cake trying to keep it even (but if you don’t manage to, the soggy syrupy bits are the best!). 

Lovely hot or cold, served with extra yoghurt or cream or if you’re being really extravagant, some cheeky marscapone. Or just eat by itself if there’s any left.

Peanut Brownies

It’s funny what can inspire you to cook something.  An open packet of roasted salted peanuts and a paint tin of M&Ms (a freebie from buying paint for our new kitchen!) inspired our baking this afternoon.

Peanut brownies are an old school NZ favourite – a classic from the Edmonds cookbook era.  I remember having the extra special treat of baking in my lunchbox, in the days before muesli bars and bought biscuits became the norm.

There’s a running joke in our family that chocolate baking only needs a tablespoon of cocoa, a hark back to our childhood days when nothing ever came out of the oven with the dense strong chocolately flavour that I search out in my baking these days.  So when I saw this recipe had only 2 tablespoons of cocoa it was a flag to me to increase it and modernise this old recipe.

I’ve reduced the sugar a little, amped up the cocoa, and used roasted salted peanuts.

 Peanut Brownies
adapted from Edmonds Cookbook

125g butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups standard plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt (omit if using roasted salted peanuts)
3 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup roasted, salted peanuts (or just plain roasted peanuts)

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy and light.  Add the egg and mix well, then add sifted dry ingredients and mix gently until a dough forms.  Add peanuts and mix.
Place tablespoon sized cookies onto baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes until cooked (be careful you don’t burn the bottoms!)


Tuesdays with Dorie – Rugelach

Well, I’m not doing so well with this blogging business.  Seem to go in fits and starts.  And I always remember that it’s Tuesdays with Dorie week on the Sunday night before!!!  Last couple of weeks have been recipe and baking light – have fallen back on a couple of slow cook meals that I’ve done in one go and reheated every night, as the house DIY and baby growing take their toll.  Luckily, I remembered this week that the recipe was Rugelach and had handily scanned the recipe so I had it on my phone and could check the recipe in the supermarket.  Seems I didn’t read the whole recipe though, as you’ll see it made for a tasty but messy substitution!!!

Sooooo – I had no idea what Rugelach was before I read this recipe and had never tried them before.  Rugelach are a tasty pastry of Jewish origin – often made in a crescent shape (like a croissant).   This recipe was for more of a “cut” cookie – when rolled up they reminded me a little of a cinnamon bun. It’s made with a cream cheese pastry, spread with a fruity jam like paste, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar (you had me from here alone!), then nuts and dried fruit, and rolled. From looking at a couple of the posts already up, seems you could bake them flat (like a sausage roll), or standing up like a cinnamon bun.

I’d never made a cream cheese pastry before, but this turned out really great, and I’ll definitely be looking out for more recipes that use it. The recipe said to have the butter and cream cheese at room temperature, but again due to lack of organisation (and impatience), I used cold butter and cream cheese. The dough was light and kind of flaky with that slight tang from the cream cheese.  Delish!  Turns out it’s also pretty great cold, as I’ve just eaten my second one from the leftovers in the fridge as I type this!!!

Chilled Pastry

My lack of organisation meant I didn’t really follow the rest of the recipe properly after the pastry.  I was too disorganised to make the lekvar (like a thick jam) myself, and I forgot to buy nuts.  So I used this really great plum jam we had, and instead of nuts…….  chopped chocolate.  It was actually delicious – the combination of jam, cinnamon and chocolate worked well.  Although it was VERY messy to bake (which might have somethign to do with the fact I didn’t chill it after rolling it up – again the impatience!!!).  The chocolate and jam and sugar kind of caramelised and spread over the baking tray, although when I took them out of the oven I just used a spatula to kind of push it all around the tray and back towards the pastries and they looked ok (well you can judge from the photos).  And tasted GREAT!!!!!

The rolled pastry with jam and cinnamon sugar

Ready to roll....

Cut and ready to bake

The hosts this week are The Urban Hiker and My Baking Heart – the recipe can be found at either of their sites….

The finished (sticky and messy!) product!

* PS – I’ve learnt early on that the recipes in this book make WAY too much for just the two of us in this house – so I made 1/3 of the recipe.  It made about 10 large-ish bun sized cookies/pastries.  (There are only 2 left).  And I was left with a heap of cinnamon sugar.  So I might have to make some more of the White Loaves and use it to make cinnamon bread or buns instead!!!!

**PPS – I promise I’m going to get my act into gear and start posting properly.  And taking some proper photos (that aren’t last minute in the middle of the night).  Promise.  Really.



TWD: Baking with Julia – White Loaves

So, it’s the first recipe of the Tuesdays with Dorie group I’ve joined. This week the recipe was White Loaves, hosted by the hosts of the group over at TWD, Jules and Laurie.

I’ve been looking forward to trying this recipe since I saw it was on the list, as the last time I made bread was years ago and it was really dense and not so great. I was hoping my baking had improved over the years, and of course my recipe horizons have opened up considerably since then.

I’ve been a bit distracted the last few weeks, with summer holidays and long weekends keeping me lazing on the beach and reading books rather than baking, but the weather has been too windy for boating this final long weekend (Waitangi Day for those of you who are out of NZ) so I finally got organized on Sunday night and got baking, for fresh bread to have on Monday morning! A little last minute, but who could blame me with a view like this!!

I decided, after reading a few of the comments on the TWD site, to make my loaf with a cinnamon swirl, seeing as we were heading home and unlikely to eat a loaf of plain bread before we leave. Also, I love cinnamon, especially for breakfast.

I found the recipe pretty easy to follow and execute. I was a little worried about making it away from my KitchenAid and dough hook, but it wasn’t too hard, I guess because I halved the recipe and only made one loaf instead of two. I’d read from others in the group that their mixers didn’t handle the dough that well, must be from the quantity so next time I try this at home I’ll have to remember to make a half recipe again too.

The loaf turned out great. I proved mine in the fridge overnight so I could bake in the morning and I don’t think it rose as much as it could have if baking straight away. But it was still light with a great crust and crumb. Definitely way better than my last bread making attempt!! The cinnamon swirl was also a great addition, next time I make it with cinnamon I’ll add more sugar to the dough (over the amount specified in the recipe), but this recipe is definitely getting added to my favourites list, plain or fancy.

Recipe #1 – success!!!! In two weeks time, we’ll be making chocolate truffle tarts. And by then I’ll be in my new house with my new kitchen, so stay posted as I have a flurry of things to post about in the meantime!

* the recipe can be found on the hosts sites as above
** check out the other bakers who have baked this recipe also on Tuesdays with Dorie
*** I used instant yeast and apparently didn’t knead mine as much as some of the other bakers (there was talk of KitchenAid mixers having fits but I didn’t have mine so I kneaded by hand and only for 3-4 minutes! – note to self – read the recipe more….) – but still turned out ok….

Project Wedding – Making Whoopie

I’ve been a bit remiss on the blog lately. Ok, very remiss. I’ve been doing a bit of baking but taking photos has been a bit beyond me, and I feel bad posting just words. Feel free to tell me otherwise.

I’ve been thinking about making whoopie pies for a while. While researching chocolate cupcake recipes for Project Wedding, I kept coming across whoopie pie recipes. And Pinterest is full of pictures of them. Anyway, whoopie pies are the new cupcake. They’re easier to eat, no fussing around with wrappers, and you don’t get left with that annoying bit on the bottom which has no icing left. (Can I convince you T??) Some stories say they were designed to use up leftover cake batter and icing. They’re supposed to be a bit like a cross between a cookie and a cake. The original versions I’ve seen are chocolate with fluffy vanilla icing, a bit like an Oreo.








I decided to make chocolate cakes, but with a chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream instead. This gives a nice creamy taste but without the extra sweetness you’d get from other frosting recipes. I used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen for the buttercream, adapted a little to reduce the amount of butter. I think the butter here in NZ has a stronger taste and I like the flavour and texture of this recipe with less of it.








Chocolate Whoopie Cakes
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes 2 dozen finished sandwiched cakes (24 individual cookie/cakes)

1 3/4 cups plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
113g butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon lemon juice made up to 1 cup milk and left for 5 mins)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line baking trays with baking paper.

Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Beat butter and sugar on a medium speed until fluffy. Add egg and beat until combined, then add vanilla. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk, either beating on a low speed or folding in with a spoon.

Use a cookie scoop to scoop the batter onto the lined trays, and bake for about 12 mins until middles are set to the touch. Cool on a cooling rack.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
250g butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
150g dark chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature

Heat egg whites and sugar over a pot of simmering water, whisking gently until it reaches 160degrees Fahrenheit. Beat using a whisk attachment on medium speed for 3 minutes, then beat at a high speed for another 7-10 minutes until the bowl is cool to the touch. Add vanilla. Switch to a paddle beater and slowly add the butter piece by piece, waiting until each piece is incorporated before adding the next. The meringue will deflate slightly and will possible stay a bit runny until most of the butter has been added. If the mixture looks like it’s curdling, just keep beating beating beating. Trust me. I was nearly in tears an hour before my birthday party this year, because the caramel icing I was making curdled. I just left it on the mixer, still beating and it miraculously came back together by the time I’d done my hair. Once all the butter has been incorporated, slowly add the cooled melted chocolate and beat until combined.

If you are still having problems, the hints from Smitten Kitchen and also this one from Sweetapolita are genius

This should be enough to sandwich all the cakes together. Use a piping bag and be generous with the filling.

Store the filled cakes in the fridge if you need to, but leave out for a few hours before serving to soften the icing, otherwise it might feel like you are eating solid butter.

I’m still in search for the perfect cupcake recipe, and the wedding is coming up fast. At least I know I’ve mastered the Buttercream though!!!

Good times – Depot and Sugar Pie

We had one of the most incredible and memorable dining experiences on Saturday night. A last minute decision to head out for dinner on a “date night” led to a night reminiscent of hazy Saturday nights in London; bumping into friends, standing on the street drinking wine out of tumblers and some of the best and most exciting food I have had in a long while.  It’s taken me a couple of days to gather my thoughts and settle my excitement, when there is so much to love (from the New York style subway tiles and distressed wood floors, to the wine on tap and of course the food) there is a lot to untangle.

Depot in Auckland’s Federal St is the new abode of Wellington food scene’s constant, Al Brown. I haven’t eaten at any of Al Browns other restaurants yet, although I have long been a fan of his approach to food and hospitality, with emphasis on fresh, responsible and local. Reading his website this morning I am drawn to this quote that sums up completely our evening: “at the end of the day, sharing food, trading stories and having a laugh with good people is what it’s all about.”.

Depot does not take bookings, so we rocked up to put our names on the list and after a sneaky cocktail next door at Red Hummingbird (Luke Dallow’s new joint), we settled in outside with a carafe of the pinot on tap and a couple of tumblers to fantasise about what was to come.  And we were not disappointed.  As soon as we were seated at our table, Al Brown himself came along and suggested some starters – oysters, tortillas with baba ganoush and one of the highlights of the night – turbot sliders.  Two of us shared 3 each of the Tio Point and Orongo Bay oysters, accompanied by a Chardonnay vinegar and shallots.  The oysters were exactly as described, Orongo Bay were sweet and creamy and the Tio Point a bit more salty with a mineraly finish.  The other two non oyster eaters finished up the tortillas.  And then the sliders.  Sliders are a phenomenon that don’t appear nearly enough on Kiwi menus, and these were a great example, a soft bun, crispy piece of turbot with a tangy mayonnaise.  There may have been more to them but we didn’t wait long enough to find out before they were scoffed.

Second round of dinner, as suggested by the gorgeous waitress (I wish I had got her name because her recommendations were spot on) : falafels – crunchy, with whole chickpeas and harissa and a tangy goats curd; snapper tacos – like the sliders, scoffed too fast to notice what was in them, but so good I think they will be a lunchtime favourite any day I can sneak out of the office; roasted pork hock with apple and horseradish and amazing pressed crispy pieces of crackling (what is it about crackling…?); and the ultimate taste sensation – smoked beef brisket with rice and red beans.  The smoky flavour of this piece of beef was intense – I think we spotted pieces of chorizo which would have something to do with it.

Desert was gingerbread with tamarillo, and Sugar Pie, which, as Al Brown told us during one of his multiple visits to our table during the night, is from a recipe he was given by another chef in French Canada.  This pie was amazing.  Like a sweet custard, apparently slow cooked in the shell to make a buttery caramelly sensation.  I tried to recreate this pie the following day, but my pie tin leaked and the custart didn’t set – so stay posted later this week for an update on this when I try again.

I can’t really say more about the food – it was outstanding, simple but tasted amazing and the enthusiasm for the food and the stories behind it were infectious.  There’s no pretence here – it was a serve and share type meal, with a really casual feel – the place was chocka – we had to wait for the Prime Minister to vacate his table before we could sit – which also helped with the bustling atmosphere.  I would love to go back and spend some more time chatting with Al Brown about his food while he is still hanging about in Auckland, but one would imagine that the place will be a bit busy for that over the coming weeks.  I just hope it’s not so busy that I can’t get another fix of those tacos!!

Depot Eatery
86 Federal Street,
Auckland 1010, NZ
09 363 7048

PS – apologies for lack of photos.  I did try and take some on my phone, but we were so into the food, a couple of the courses we had eaten before I remembered to capture.