Category Archives: fruit

Spiced Chocolate and Pear Cupcakes (Or: Bake Off Episode 1)

Pear and Chocolate Cupcakes main

Hey! Hi! Hullo!

It is the last day of school holidays and I am finally typing up a post — the best laid holiday plans of teachers and bakers, my friends — but never fear because Katie and I (individually and collectively) have been busy in the kitchen making all sorts of stuff! Pretzels! Pickled Rhubarb! Quince Jelly! Carrot Cake! Many other types of cake!

The other major thing that has happened is that The Great Australian Bake Off has started airing and my face is on the television, what even?! You can see clips of the show on the website but I’ll link you to the most important part here i.e. the bit with Tiny Baby Arty being adorable.

I watched the show on Tuesday night with a bunch of my peeps and it was so lovely and I’ve only really heard positives so far. Hooray Bake Off! So that I don’t clog the New Fat Ladies twitter with all my #gabo shenanigans, you can find me at @ess_jay_bakes where I pretty much make hearteyes at the tv through the medium of twitter.

So, in the spirit of Hooray Bake Off!, here are the cupcakes that you got to see Dan and Kerry eat and compliment and me make silly faces about.

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Fruit Tingle Birthday Cake (Or: how to make a birthday girl happy)

 

The second cake S-J whipped up recently was an orange Fruit Tingle cake. My absolute favourite lolly made into cake form? YES PLEASE! I helped a bit with the frosting and construction of this one, saying helpful things like MOAR TINGLES! and dancing around with excitement as it grew ever higher. This was my birthday cake, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never love a cake as much as I loved this one.

This cake was perfection in the exact form that it was originally blogged in by the creative and delicious mind of Raspberri Cupcakes and so we copied it fairly word for word, except of course that we are the New Fat Ladies and so therefore it needed MOAR LAYERS and also MOAR TINGLES IN MY MOUTH (and in the frosting). I even liked the way it was simply decorated, because, MOAR CANDY. Too make it even more delightful, the very clever Essie made me some Washi tape bunting and it was so adorable I nearly cried. We made 2.5 x the recipe below to get the giant cake.
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Balsamic Cherry Pie

Over the festive season last year I was lucky enough to get to eat (too many) of the most delicious spiced cherries in red wine from  Bruny Island Cheese (club) and I have been chasing that taste ever since.

Cherries are one of the most versatile fruits, great fresh, stewed, jammed, savoury or sweet, and always delicious. For this pie I borrowed the amazing cherry pitter from S-J and took to gutting my cherries with maniacal glee (pro-tip: don’t wear a white shirt while you pit 1kg of cherries, it’s a blood bath). Full disclosure, I have not mastered the pitter and did have to issue a warning to my test-eaters to be on the lookout for stray pits – only 7 were found in the whole pie so that’s about a 95% success rate, I’m calling it a shaky win.

PIE!

Filling:
1 kg cherries
3 tbsps cornstarch
pinch of salt
1/2 cup white sugar (minus 2 tbsp to reserve for sprinkling)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup good quality balsamic vinegar (should be quite syrupy)
1/8 cup orange or lemon juice
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

Pie dough/pastry, enough for a double layer pie
I used Smitten Kitchen’s Pie Dough 101 but did the whole thing in the processor to save my bench top.

Egg Wash:
1 egg, lightly beaten
reserved white sugar

Preheat oven to 200C.

If you make your own dough, ensure that it is chilling in the fridge while you make the filling, if you’re using store bought frozen dough, make sure it’s defrosted in the fridge (needs to be pliable to line the dish).

Pick over your cherries and remove any stems and nasty fruit. Use your pitter (or a knife – be careful!) and remove all pits.

In a large bowl stir together all the pie ingredients except the butter. Mush the cherries a little as you go to release their juices. Enjoy your delightfully pink fingers and attack the cat with them. It’s good if you forget you have cherry fingers and wipe hair out of your face and discover the red smear hours later and give yourself a fright.

Roll out half of the chilled dough between two sheets of bake-paper to about 14-inch round (I never roll things perfectly round, but good luck to you). Ease it into your pie plate – remove one of the sheets of bake paper, flip the dough into the pan and use the edges of the paper to help ease the crust in. Press the base and corners to make sure there are no air bubbles. Trim the edges leaving an overhang of about 2 cm.

Pour the filling into the crust. I like a gooey pie – if you don’t you may like to hold back some of the liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Chop your butter into small cubes, scatter those on top of the filling.

Roll out the remaining dough the same way, cut into 2cm strips and layer half across the pie, leaving 2cm overhang. Take the remaining strips and weave to make the lattice. Fold the overhang under the bottom crust, pressing the edge to seal it, and crimp the edges together. Using a pastry brush, egg wash the pie crust, then sprinkle sugar over the top.

Bake the pie on the middle rack of the oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 175C. and bake the pie for another 20 – 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden (if it starts to brown on top too quickly, tent with tin foil and continue baking). Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

I think this pie is about 200% more delicious after a night in the refrigerator and is excellent served with whipped cream and/or vanilla bean ice cream. A lemon zest infused marscapone would also be pretty delish!

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Summer Tipples

To me, there is nothing that says summery get-together more than a jug of something cool and delicious.

There are endless combinations to be tried and tested, everyone has a favourite flavour and level of sweetness, and I hope at least one of these combinations tickles your fancy.

I like to work with the basic equation of fruity+sparkling+/-booze+ice+/-bitstoeatwithyourfingers = punchy perfection.

All measurements below work for jugs that hold 1.5 – 2L of deliciousness.

Jug O' Pimms

Jug o’ Pimms

Pretty Borage Ice Cubes (or regular ice if you aren’t fancy)
200 – 400 mls Pimms (choose your booze level)
1/2 cucumber sliced (seeds removed if it is a particularly seedy one)
Mint (optional)
1L Ginger Ale (or Lemonade if that’s your jam)

Fill your jug with as many icecubes as you can because it is 41C outside and your aircon is broken. Use the very pretty icecubes you have been making with borage and watch as the pretty flowers float about in your drink and taste like cucumber.

Slice up your cucumber in whatever way you like. I am partial to long thin strips but do what feels best and chuck that in the jug. If you have some mint, add that in there too.

Pour in the Pimms. I’m not going to lie to you – I have no idea how much we usually use – enough so that it tastes like Pimms? We probably had a good inch and a half to two inches in our 2 litre jug (then we added more after tasting). Top with ginger ale (lemonade if you must) and drink. Sit back and reflect on a job well done.

Pomegranate Punch

1 Pomegranate (refridgerated)
300 mls sparkling mineral water
300 mls ginger ale
50 mls Chambord
50 mls Absolut Vodka (use a different kind if you like, but this is my favourite)
40 mls Ribena cordial or POM Cherry and Pomegranate juice if you can get it
Ice to fill jug

Cut pomegranate in half, over a bowl (or straight into your jug) tip the pomegranate cut side down and WHACK the outside repeatedly with the back of a wooden spoon until 95% of the tiny jewel-like seeds have popped out. Tear the pomegranate apart to remove the remaining seeds. Repeat with other half. Remove any pith.

Into the jug pour the pomegranate seeds, alcohols and cordial. Mix gently and allow to sit in the fridge for up to 2 hours to chill/infuse.

Just before serving, add ginger ale and sparkling mineral water and mix gently. Top with ice.

Drink! Enjoy getting sticky red fingers while trying to fish the seeds out of the bottom of your glass. This was our Christmas Punch this year and it made us all quite jolly!

Eternal Sunshine Punch

400mls pineapple juice
200 mls pink grapefruit juice or orange juice
2 limes
1-3 tablespoons brown sugar (depending on your sweet tooth)
750mls Omni Citrus (or any fruity sparkling)
Ice to fill jug

Start dreaming of an island holiday after you see a pineapple on the bench and tin of juice in your pantry (so fancy). Find umbrellas from hilarious party your housemate held 4 years ago. Get idea!

Peel zest from one lime, muddle with the brown sugar in the bottom of the jug. Add juice from this lime to jug.

Slice remaining lime into thin slices (try not to cut your finger at this point, citrus juice is not your friend if you do). Add slices to jug. Pour in all remaining liquid ingredients, stir gently. Top with ice. Sit outside with a giant fan, sunscreen and hat, sipping this out of some kind of ridiculous glass with an umbrella and oversized garnish of pineapple and cherry.

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Apple Strudel (Or: I really like apples)

In a lovely coincidence, I happened to make Apple Strudel the same week that the lovely lads and ladies on the Great British Bake Off had a strudel challenge. It’s like it was meant to be. It probably had more to do with the 1kg of apples I had picked up at the market the week before that were judging me from their fancy fruitbowl. Whatever the reason, strudel was made and I carted it off to a dinner party/games night at a lovely friend’s home and it was a tasty to ending to a deliciously autumnal meal (yes, spring is here, no, I don’t accept it, AUTUMN FOR PRESIDENT).

Disclaimer: We are a cooking blog, but we are people too. I find that I have things in my life that I prefer to do that don’t involve the multi-hour process to create butter puff pastry, so I tend to buy the fanciest brand I can afford from the frozen section and call it a day. If you can actually tell the difference, you impress me, because I’ve made many kinds and I really can’t. It is just not worth it to me for a casual meal, and if you can play with store-bought and get it to do what you want, I say take that extra time you have to drink a cider, eat some good cheese and pat yourself on the back for your excellent time management choices.

One day we’ll probably do puff pastry and I’ll be all “IT’S SO WONDERFUL I DON’T KNOW WHY I DON’T MAKE IT ALL THE TIME”, and you can point me back to this post and heckle me if you like, I won’t care though, because no matter what, in the end, I’ll have a belly full of pastry!

So, back to the strudel. I have a fear of runny liquid insides ruining my strudel, so these apples are cooked twice before they are rolled inside pastry for the final filling. This means that it is a very soft filling once cooked for the second time. All the apples collapse into the raisins and disappear into your tummy in seconds.

I made two, and the four of us ate it all.

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Apple and Cherry Crumble

Apples and cherries should just get married, they’re so perfect together. I enjoy eating this crumble so much, and have been making it fairly regularly through Winter and into Spring. It is friendly to variations like subbing out either of the fruits for apricots/blueberries/rhubarb (with extra sugar)/plums/peaches but the cherry and apple combo is my favourite.

You can leave the apple peel on if you like (as I’ve done here), but if you’re being fancy, or like me you enjoy it when the fruit collapses all willy-nilly into itself, then peeling the apples is your best bet.

Apple and Cherry Crumble

Time: 20 mins prep, plus 35 cooking time
Yield: Serves 4 – 6 with cream/icecream

1 kg apples (I like Granny Smith’s)
500g box  frozen cherries (or about 700 grams of fresh cherries, which you’ll need to pit)
1 lemon (or 1 tsp lemon juice)
3 tbsps brown sugar
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tablespoon cornflour

for the crumble topping:
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbsps brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
100gms butter, cubed

Do ahead

Grab a large pie dish, using one of the cubes of butter, rub all over the inside of the pie dish and lick your buttery fingers.

Preheat your oven to 190C (fan forced)

Prep the fruit

In a small bowl mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and cornflour, using a fork to break up any lumps.

Peel, core and chop the apples into about a 1 inch dice (or the size of your cherries). Squeeze half of the lemon over the apples to stop them from browning.

If you are using fresh cherries, wash and pit them. If you are using frozen cherries, give each of them a quick squeeze as you drop them into the bowl to make sure the pit has been removed.

In a large bowl, combine the lemony apples, cherries, and the sugary spiced mixture. Using your hands, mix gently to coat the fruit.

Pour the fruit ino the buttered pie dish. Push it down so that there is a small lip around the edge for the crumble to sit in and then you really want the fruit to sit up above the lip  a little in the middle, so mound it up, as it will collapse a bit during cooking.

I was trying to be fancy and cut the fruit into thin slices, don’t be like me, it went to mush. Boo.

Making the Crumble

Add the flour, sugars, cinnamon and butter to a bowl. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until you have a sort of rubble texture.

Carefully pour/plop/pat this on top of the fruit mixture. Pat down firmly.

Set pie dish on a tray/cookie sheet covered in baking paper and put into the middle of your preheated over for 25 – 40 minutes. If the top starts to brown too much, remove the crumble from the oven, break the topping up a little and then place back into the oven (this lets ALL of the crumble bits have a chance to brown).

Serve with cream or icecream.

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