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Last night Jemima and I made a new version of Banana and Caramel Upside Down Cake, this time using some spiced stewed pears she had kicking around in the fridge… and in place of brown sugar we used a lovely raw caster sugar.

Best caramel so far guys, I’m switching to this stuff!

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This is the latest version of a much varied recipe… the original goal was to make real gingernut biscuits, and then inspired by Hilary that idea was eclipsed by the desire to get as much ginger into a cookie as possible. Buy the freshest ground ginger you can get, spice shops and markets are your best bet. If you can only get hold of the supermarket stuff increase amounts to compensate.

I often make these gluten free and lactose free, just use direct substitution of nuttelex for butter, gluten free flour for real flour etc. They taste pretty much identical gluten and lactose free.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 cups self raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
2-5 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cacao
100g dark chocolate
small bag of crystallised ginger

Method:
Preheat oven on moderate heat.
Cream butter and sugar, whisk in eggs and milk. Sift dry ingredients into bowl and mix well. Break up chocolate, roughly chop crystallised ginger up and fold through.
Drop large dessert spoons of mixture onto trays lined with baking paper and place in oven for 10-15 minutes. They should still be a little soft when done.

Use a metal spatula to transfer onto wire cooling rack, cool, EAT!

Variations:
Use golden syrup in place of milk.
Omit dark chocolate and cacao and increase amounts of ginger used.
Increase the amount of ginger used, by many many times. šŸ˜‰

Ricotta Hotcakes

This is from a Donna Hayes recipe that I cut out of the Age years ago, it’s been a standby of mine ever since. A lot of her recipes tend to be a little bland for my tastes, but this one is an exception. Like, an exceptional exception.

 

Ingredients:
1/2 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
200g ricotta

Method:
Mix sugar, egg yolks, buttermilk and vanilla together and sift in flour.
In a second bowl whisk egg whites till peaks form or whenever your arms give out.
Gently fold in egg whites and crumbled ricotta.

On a medium heat, melt a little butter in a heavy bottomed frypan. Spoon in two to three hotcakes, they should be fairly fat, but not so thick you can’t cook them through. Turn once and pile on a plate. A little butter between each hot cake will keep them tasty and good while you fry up the rest.

Serve with ice cream, maple syrup, more butter, raspberries and basically anything you can think of that’s yum.

Eat ’em.

Serves three hungry people, more if well behaved.

Notes: If you’re feeling lazy you can just put the eggs in whole and skip the whisking malarkey entirely, they are basically fluffy clouds of joy if you do however, so give it a go.

2 lemons
4-5 tbsp caster sugar
Ā½ tbsp rosewater
a few sprigs of mint, slightly crushed
water
ice cubes

Put the kettle on to boil and while you wait, juice the lemons. Put the sugar in a
small jug and pour over about a 1/4 cup of hot water, stir till dissolved. Add ice
cubes, mint, rosewater, lemon juice and enough cold water to make about 1 ltr.
Decant into a bottle with a good seal and put it in your picnic basket!

Variations:
Vary the amounts according to taste; less sugar will bring out the sharpness of the lemon, more will soften it.
Some people like to strain the lemon juice through a little tea strainer to exclude seeds and pulp. I like the bits though and leave them in.

In making Grapefruit Marmalade I cut a little too much grapefruit up and wondered what to do with it… and this was my answer. Tart little Grapefruit cupcakes.

Ingredients:
1 cup of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup of grapefruit juice and finely diced rind
3 eggs
2 cups gluten free self raising flour

Method:
Melt butter slightly by placing bowl in sink of hot water. Beat in sugar, eggs and grapefruit. Then gently mix in flour.

Line cupcake trays with paper cases and fill with batter.

Place in medium-hot oven untill done. Turn oven down if they are browning too rapidly, up if they are not browning at all.

Eat!

I found this recipe printed on the back of some recycled copier paper when I was in first year university. You can use virtually any citrus fruit, and you can even do it with plums if you add a bit of lemon juice.

You will need:
Grapefruit
An equal volume of white sugar

Glass jars with matching metal lids

Instructions:
Finely slice the rind and pith of half of the grapefruits, peel the rest and roughly chop up the flesh, discarding seeds and any woody parts of the fruit. Do this over a plate to retain the juice.

Place in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Simmer until the peel is soft and slightly clear. Remember that once you add the sugar the peel will not become any softer. So don’t rush.

Add in as much sugar as you have fruit, and stir well. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally.

Now sterilise the jars. Wash them in warm soapy water then place into a large deep pot full of boiling water.Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then drain and place on a clean teatowl or wooden chopping board to dry (the hot jars can crack if placed on a cold surface.)

There are a number of rather more reliable methods to sterilise jars, this is the method I use at home though. Use at own risk.

Now check the jam. Drizzle some of the liquid into a saucer and place in the fridge till cool. If it turns to jam you’re done, if not, keep simmering.

Decant the jam into jars and seal, wiping any drips from the sides.

And there you are, jam!Apparently this jar is from France, fancy.

Serving suggestion

My friend Virginia has a beautiful Early Kooka gas stove of only two heat settings, this visit I wanted to bake something worthy of it’s tiny wire racks and Jae and Fi’s brownie/cupcake recipe seemed the best candidate.

We altered the recipe, substituting dark chocolate melts for white ones and sour cherries for the dried apricots. A definite success.

Her lovely free range farm eggs required a little more beating then the ones I’ve become accustomed to in the city, and in my imagination held the gluten free batter together rather better.

Crunchy on the edges and sticky sweet inside... the best of ugly baking!