We are very lucky to have some really good neighbours. The family over the back fence are especially wonderful and share so many things. Business advice, snake sighting updates, their chickens’s fresh laid eggs, recipes, jams and a lot of fresh produce. They have a very productive mango tree and banana tree and we share a passionfruit vine that will not be tamed. In return we have given over rights to our papayas (tried them on the children – not interested) and the children try to stop themselves throwing stuff in their rock pool. I don’t think the neighbours are getting a fair deal.
Most recently we were gifted a box of custard apples from over the back fence. They ripen pretty quickly, so I had to think quick. They are delicious, but a bit fiddly to work with. They have a strange texture for a fruit and a delicate, sweet flavour that can conflict with or be overpowered with other fruits. You need to remember the custard part of its name and match it with things you might match with custard. Cake, pastry, berries, lemon but not orange, chocolate, vanilla and so on. They make a sweet, thick smoothie as a substitute for bananas, mixed with berries, nuts, milk of your choice. And they really shine in a teacake. I went straight to the source and converted a recipe from Custard Apples Australia. Well, I thought they should know what they’re doing.
Prepare your cake tin. I used a bundt tin, because I have a thing for uniced cakes in bundt shape. Also it takes less time to cook and if buttered well enough you won’t leave half the cake in the tin. But butter away at whatever tin takes your fancy. The original recipe suggested a loaf tin, which brings to mind that this is a possible banana bread substitute. Like banana bread, the more fruit you use the moister the cake. If you are not sure of your tin, line with baking paper as well.
Add 120g raw/rapadura sugar to Thermomix bowl and a quarter of a vanilla pod. Chop/grind Speed 9 for 10 seconds. Leave it in for the next step, it will be okay with a bit of a warming. Take your butter (home made I hope!) out of the fridge and measure 125g into the bowl. Soften it up a bit on 50 degrees for 40 seconds on Speed 4. If you don’t have vanilla pods, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract at this point. Insert butterfly with a flick of the wrist and pull gently to make sure its locked on to the blades. Mix on Speed 4 for 15 seconds, then add 2 eggs, one at a time through the hole in the lid while still on Speed 4. Once all is well combined turn the dial off and move on to the custard apples. Try to make sure you don’t mix for too long, 20-30 seconds all up should be more than enough.
Cut your custard apples down the centre. To remove the innards you can use a spoon, but I found it more efficient to just separate the flesh from the seeds with my hands. Do this close to the Thermomix so you can just throw the seedless, skinless flesh into your cake mix. Use about 3-4 custard apples, depending on size and amount you snack on while removing the seeds. Once you are done, wash your hands and add 200g flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Mix again, Speed 4 for 10 seconds. Check if all has combined. If need be, get the spatula involved and scrape flour off the sides and mix again for 5 seconds. Pour into prepared tin.
Bake at 160 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. My oven seems to be fast, hussy of a thing. So it was 45 minutes. Stick a skewer in at around 40 minutes and check how its going. Its done when the skewer comes out clean. Let it cool for a bit in its tin, before turning out. While it is still warm sprinkle with some sugar and a little ground cinnamon.
There was a birthday in the household this week. Miss now 6 has decided caramel is her favourite flavour. So a caramel cake was requested. Never made one before. She also requested that it be decorated to look like a white bird with pink eyes. I am glad she has a lot of confidence in my cake making abilities. But I managed to get out of failing at making a cake look like a bird by suggesting the girls decorate the cake themselves. Better than I could do it myself!
The cake is even more delightful to eat than it is to look at (impossible!). I based it on this recipe that I discovered through googling Caramel Cake Thermomix. Who knew what would result? A beautifully flavoured, not too sweet, soft cake that would be perfect for any occasion. Add a little more salt to the mix and you have the flavour of the last few years – salted caramel. It would be beautiful with some sliced fruit baked on top (or bottom if you want to call it an upside down cake). It would also be delicious with some vanilla ice cream.
Take some sugar, about 200g. The recipe says brown, I used rapadura, as I had some on hand and I find it does have a lovely toasty caramelly flavour. You could use raw sugar if you don’t have the others. Into the Thermomix bowl and grind to fine powder on Speed 9 for 15 seconds. Add 125g softened butter. If you forgot to get it out of the fridge in time, simply put the sugar out of the bowl, add the roughly chopped butter and soften on 50 degrees, for 40 seconds, Speed 4. Scrape the butter from the top of the blades and insert butterfly with a flick of the wrist. Return the sugar (if you have removed it), add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and cream together for 30-40 seconds. While you have the butter on hand, grease and line a smallish cake tin (I used an 18cm) and turn on the oven at 160 degrees.
With the Thermomix still spinning at Speed 4 crack 2 eggs over the lid and pour contents through the hole. Add a tablespoon of golden syrup (or treacle, as that is what I had to hand) while its all still whipping away. Try not to have it all going for much longer than 2 minutes during this process. Open the lid and weigh in 225g plain flour, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Add 125g milk. Close the lid and mix it all together (with butterfly still in place) until you can see the flour has blended through completely (about 15 seconds). Pour into prepared cake tin and bake until a wooden skewer comes out clean. My oven took about 45 minutes.
Let it cool completely in the tin and then ice according to taste. I just did a vanilla royal icing as white icing was requested. Yes, the vanilla turns it brown at first but you can add extra egg white and it will come back to white colouring. There is a caramel icing listed on the site where this recipe came from. Or choose any of the icings from the Everyday Cookbook – cream cheese, buttercream and of course, colour accordingly. The flavour is so light and delicious that it could perform very well as a teacake – no icing at all, perhaps a sprinkling of cinnamon.
Don’t ask what kind of cake I am doing for the actual party. I usually don’t publish photos of those, lest they be reposted under the heading Nailed It. Presentation ain’t my strong suit.
At this time of year Queensland really shows off. Not with sweaty, but even temperatures, while the southern states suffer bipolar weather conditions. Not with the sudden, yet inevitable thunder storms every other day. Certainly not with the threat of cyclones in the far north, although I suppose that is a bit of extravert behaviour. No, the turn of January into February brings the most abundant and wonderful fruit to woo all your senses. The stone fruits in every market and every fruit shop call to you with fabulous sweet scents and parading of plump flesh and sumptuous colours. The figs, my god, the figs! All the sought after, rare fruits that appear briefly and expensively in Sydney are being offered by the trayful for weeks. Mangoes are being sold at ridiculously low prices, possibly because there are mango trees everywhere in suburban streets, heavy with fruit, dropping produce on the pavement. It is times of abundance such as these that call for creativity to use it all up.
I am toying with a few mango chutney recipes but not quite happy with them yet. In the meantime I have always wanted to try the steamed cheesecake in the Everyday Cookbook. I made the base out of crumble mix I had left over from a previous dessert making enterprise. And I made enough mango coulis for cheesecake topping as well as several days of my daughter’s current favourite breakfast combination of mango and yoghurt.
For the base, add the following to the Thermomix bowl. 100g rolled oats, 100g plain flour (you can use any kind of flour you like really), 80g brown sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 100g butter (not too soft). If you wanted lemony rather than gingery/cinnamonny first grate the zest of half a lemon, then add flour, oats, sugar and butter. Mix 5-10 seconds Speed 5 on Reverse. Check consistency. Butter should have mixed evenly through so it all looks a bit bread crumby. Grease and line a springform tin. If you want to steam this in the Varoma you need a 15cm tin. Or you could do it in individual portion tins. I grabbed the first one I saw, which was 23cm. This is why my cheesecake in the picture isn’t very high and why I steamed it in the oven instead. Press crumble base mixture into the bottom of the chosen tin until it is mostly even and reaches the edges all around. Bake in 160 degree oven for 10 minutes or until slightly browned and biscuit like. Set aside to cool.
Rinse out and dry the bowl then move onto making the mango coulis. Add 30g raw sugar and zest of 2 limes to the bowl and blitz on Speed 9 for 10 seconds. Add flesh of mangoes that are starting to get black spots or really need using up. I used 3 medium sized one. If using more or less adapt other ingredients accordingly. Ripe mangoes don’t need a lot of added sweetness, so you could skip the sugar altogether, but be sure not to add much more even with more mangoes. You don’t want cloying. You can be a bit more free wheeling with the sugar if the mangoes are greener or firmer. Add juice of two limes (the ones you zested earlier perhaps), 50g water and cook 4 minutes, 90 degrees, Speed 3.5. Set aside to cool, then transfer to the fridge.
Depending on your attitude to rinsing the bowl between things, either clean and dry bowl or be okay with a little mango/lime flavour in the cheesecake filling. Definitely not a bad thing. Just the layers aren’t as separated flavour wise this way. Blitz 50g sugar and half a vanilla bean (or add a teaspoon of vanilla essence with the cream cheese) for 10 seconds (little more if the bowl is wet or still has residual mango coulis), then add 500g roughly chopped cream cheese and blend for 40 seconds speed 5. Scrape down bowl. Turn to Speed 4 and add 4 eggs one at a time through the hole in the lid until all combined. Once eggs are in, blend 30 seconds on Speed 9 until smooth consistency. Pour cheesecake filling onto cooled crumb biscuit base.
If steaming in the oven, cover cheesecake tin bottom and sides with foil so it is waterproof, then place in a roasting tin and pour water into roasting tin till 1/3 up to sides of cheesecake tin. Loosely place tin foil over top of cheesecake to allow steaming, but avoid burning. Place in oven on 150 degrees for 40-60 minutes. It is cooked when its solid in the centre. Not sure a skewer will come out clean but it shouldn’t be too wobbly or liquidy when gently wobbled.
If steaming in the Varoma, place 1L water into cleaned mixing bowl. Place cheesecake into Varoma dish on top and put on the lid. Steam on Varoma temperature, 50-60 minutes, Speed 2. If individual portion sizes it will be shorter cooking time. Check after 20 minutes. Again check its doneness with a gentle wobble.
Set aside to cool, then once cooled to room temperature, pour mango coulis on top then place in fridge to set for 3 hours or overnight. Coulis should be thick enough not to dribble down the sides. If it is a bit thin you can wait till you serve the cheesecake before you pour on the coulis. And if you have left over mango coulis pour it on everything you eat from now on till used up. It goes with everything!
I was given this recipe by a great Thermomix loving family who have been very generous, sharing several family recipes with me. They call this one ginger crunch slice, but a key ingredient is something they introduced me to – naked ginger. It is dried, uncrystallised ginger. So, naturally the high school child in me insisted it be called Naked Ginger Slice.
Still sweet and intensely gingery naked ginger gives a lovely chewiness to this crunchy and gooey slice. This slice has grown on me since I made it first earlier in the week. I’ll be making it again very soon. And I will bring Grandma some too on my next visit, nursing home dining room rules be damned.
For the base, put a handful of pieces of naked ginger (around 6-8 pieces) in the Thermomix bowl with 100g raw sugar and chop for 3 seconds on Speed 8. Put the butterfly in and add 125g softened butter. Cream butter, sugar and ginger for 15 seconds on Speed 4. Add 200g of plain flour and 1 tsp baking powder and mix for 10 seconds on Speed 4. Remove butterfly and press mixture firmly into a greased slice tin until it looks slightly less crumbly. The texture appears weird, but it does work. Bake in 190 degree oven for around 15 minutes until golden brown all over. Cool in the tin while making the icing.
For the icing, blitz 90g raw sugar into icing sugar on Speed 9 for 10 seconds. Add 80g butter, 20g golden syrup and 2 tsp ground ginger. Heat for 5 minutes on 60 degrees, Speed 2. Pour icing over the still warm ginger crunch base. Cool in the fridge until icing is set (as I clearly did not in the picture) then slice.
I have been experimenting with lots of new recipes lately after my jam frenzy. A lovely family of Thermomix owners have shared their recipes for brownies, chocolate cheesecake and ginger slice among others and I have been trying them all. I will be blogging about some of them shortly.
First, I thought I should share with you something I didn’t experiment with at all, just slapped together one night on the request of my mother in law for her birthday cake. It was a great request because I knew I would have all the ingredients and I hadn’t tried making it before. My perfect combination. There is an orange/lemon cake recipe in the Everyday Cookbook which I have since tried (I made a lemon poppyseed cake this time) and works very well. However, for the first time I followed the recipe on Chonny’s Thermomix Delights because a) I hadn’t realised I already had a recipe and b) this recipe used oil instead of butter and I had run out of butter. I loved this recipe because you just chop a whole orange into quarters and bung it in the Thermomix and whiz it till its smooth. No big chunks of orange peel. No peeling zest, no mess, no fuss.
So my slightly adapted version is to pour 200g raw sugar into the bowl. Zap into castor sugar by whizzing on Speed 9 for 4 seconds. I love milling the sugar so I usually do this step even if its not necessary. Throw in quartered orange (peel, pith, everything, though if there are seeds try to take them out as they can add a bitter flavour) and blend on Speed 7 or 8 for 15 seconds. I really didn’t want any peel chunks so really blended that orange to liquid. If you don’t mind your orange bits a bit bigger blend on Speed 6 for 6 seconds.
Insert the butterfly with a little twist so it holds on when mixing, then add 300g plain flour, 3 tsps baking powder, 1 tsp cream of tartar (handy to have in the cupboard for making your own baking powder and playdough), 3 eggs, 250g oil and 2-3 tbsps poppyseeds. Mix for 10 seconds on speed 4. Pour into a greased tin – I used a bundt tin – and bake for about 40 minutes on 180 degrees.
While the cake is baking make an orange syrup with 30g sugar and the juice of one orange. Place both into cleaned Thermomix bowl and heat at 100 degrees for 2 minutes on Speed 2.
Test the cake with a skewer to see if it comes out clean, then cool in the tin a little before turning out onto a plate and drizzling over some orange syrup.
This is one for the people I disappointed with my Green Juice post last week. And anyone who likes chocolate. And nuts. And things only the Thermomix can make seem hilariously easy.
Hazelnut Chocolate Spread appears as a recipe in the Everyday Cookbook. I implore you to try it. It kicks Nutella right in the bottom. It is rich, but not overly sweet. You could pour it straight from the Thermomix bowl into a cooked pastry case, leave it to set in the fridge and have an extremely good chocolate tart. You could use it as a filling for biscuit sandwiches or macarons. Or you could pour it into some jars and have tablespoon ready chocolate fix sitting in your fridge. I have been spreading it on lightly toasted sourdough for an after school dropoff pick me up with my morning coffee. My eldest is choosing it as her dessert, spread on fresh bread, if she makes a good effort eating her dinner.
There are a few different recipes that vary from the Everday Cookbook version. As usual, I took them all into consideration and came up with my own. First I ground on Speed 9 for 10 seconds 60g raw sugar to icing sugar (for easy dissolving). Next throw in 150g chocolate (broken into small pieces) and 90g hazelnuts and grind at Speed 9 for 10 seconds. Check texture and grind again if not fine enough for you. I didn’t bother skinning or roasting the hazelnuts, but I’m sure if you did it would produce an even lovelier toasty flavour. I used Lindt 70% cocoa dessert chocolate. This is the one I usually have in the fridge for my chocolate cooking needs. I can buy it at Coles and it gives a nicer flavour than any of the other cooking chocolates I have tried from the supermarket. One day perhaps I will look into finding a source for some higher quality chocolate like the Callebaut Muttering Housewife swears by. One day. Vary sugar according to the chocolate you use, and your sweet palette. If it is a milk chocolate it will be much sweeter than dark. Most recipes suggest between 50-90g sugar.
I skipped the cocoa powder because I had added an extra 50g chocolate. Add either 70g butter or same of a flavourless oil such as grapeseed. A nut oil would add a nice flavour too. Or coconut oil if you have it around. Not olive oil. Too fruity for this. I used oil instead of butter as I was going to sell a couple of jars at my school fete jam stall, so trying to reduce degradable ingredients and also wanted it to be spreadable out of the fridge. Add 100g milk and heat at 50 degrees for 6 minutes on Speed 3. Check the consistency after it has finished, cook a couple of minutes more if you think it too runny. It does firm up once in the fridge. Pour into your sterilised jars, transfer to fridge and try to resist eating in one go. They make a fabulous present.
Just a word on bottling your own freshly made goods. I realise some are a bit worried about things going off when its homemade. There are no use by dates on your jar of lovingly prepared stuff. From a lot of Google research and many conversations to home jam makers in my preparation for jam stall convening I came across a few basics to help with this. Hot things should be poured into hot jars, so glass doesn’t crack. Don’t use plastic, it is harder to sterilise without compromising and different plastics behave in different ways. Stick to glass. Clean and collect jars from your current stock of bought goods. Sterilise your cleaned jars and lids (steam in the oven, boil on the stove, steam in the Varoma if the jars fit) while you are cooking your jams, etc. 10 minutes on full steam should do it. Drain on a clean tea towel, then turn over to pour stuff in. The tea towel helps in clean up too – I have taken some practice to get most of the goods in the jar. Don’t use screw top lids or stopper lids because they don’t seal properly. Use jars and lids that most jams come in, ie, that have metal lids that twist a little to open. Pickle or olive jars are good, but you have a hard time getting the pickle flavour out, so use them for savoury things like sauces or your own pickles. Leave as little surface area as possible so oxygen has a harder time getting in. This means fill right up to the neck and try to use smaller neck jars. Fasten the lid and turn upside down for 10 minutes or until you remember to turn them upright. This not only helps to show you whether your lid is fastened tight, but also helps with the seal. Or so I have been told. Once opened to use, always store in the fridge. Lastly, check it for mould when using each time. Also, as my father would say, suck it and see. A sniff and a tiny taste will tell you whether it has passed its prime. My father would probably still eat it anyway, but he has some hardy gut bacteria from a life of indifference to use by dates.
School holidays are here (in Queensland at least), which means I try to fill up our time with lots of playdates. My aim is to minimise long stretches of time at home and maximise both tiring activities for the children and adult company for me. Both visits to other homes and receiving guests means a need for morning or afternoon tea. Having been in a mothers group for five years (a lovely group of people who are the very best of what other parents can be – non judgmental) I have found there is such a thing as cake overload. However, you still need to cater for the varying states of parenthood:
1. Pregnant. Eating cake is mostly guilt free (making exceptions for those with gestational diabetes, where you just have to say ‘I realise there is hardly anything here you can eat and I am really sorry for that. Have a cracker.’). When you are pregnant these days it is often necessary to feel guilty eating almost anything but cake once you have been handed that listeria pamphlet by your well meaning doctor. Any food prepared by others, especially your healthy choices of salads and sandwiches, are possibly harbouring this horrifying bacteria. And under no circumstances eat chicken, deli meats, soft cheeses or anything else that might allow you an enjoyable life.
2. Breastfeeding. Need cake even more than pregnant. Operating on very little sleep, possibly forgetting meals in the constant fog of calculating times between feeds for the wee one and requiring a larger calorie intake than usual due to having all nutrients sucked out every two to four hours.
3. Trying to lose weight. Once breastfeeding stops that larger calorie intake needs to be curtailed quicksmart or the continued lack of sleep and irregular meals seems to start working against your body and weight gain happens while you are worrying if the house is child proofed enough for the junior Houdini who recently emerged from babyhood. Which means cake playdates can be very hard to do.
4. Maintaining sanity. The rest of the parenting experience. Sleep is either still being caught up or just a new level of deprived. Children’s needs continue to outweigh parents’ needs by everything to none. Cake is appreciated but when playdates are more than once a week it is useful to have another choice.
Which brings us to muffins. Sure, they are cake like. But I find a bit more room to move in the healthier options department. And nutritional value. For example, you can stick either fruit or vegetables in there and children won’t necessarily run from them. Also, because muffins are supposed to be only barely mixed together they are very quick to make.
I have loosely followed a recipe from a blog I googled while looking for a way to make use of an excess of bananas – Cat Can Cook. It seemed to be a fairly robust, simple recipe that could be adjusted easily to fit in whatever you have in the fruit bowl or in the vegetable drawer. Firstly I did banana and sultana muffins.
Peel 3 or 4 bananas and break them into pieces as you put them in the Thermomix bowl. Add half a cup of sugar (I used rapadura sugar for these as I had it and am finding it gives a lovely caramelly flavour to things), a teaspoon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of baking powder, a teaspoon of bicarb soda (while you have the teaspoon out), 1 egg, a pinch of salt, 60-70 grams melted butter (or oil – depending on your tastes and what is in your stocks) and 220 grams (or one and a half cups) of plain flour. Mix on Speed 5 for 10 seconds. Check on it, maybe spatula the sides and if need be mix for another 5 seconds. Add a handful or so of sultanas and mix again, but on Reverse this time, for 5 seconds. Decant to muffin tray with patty pans if you can’t be bothered greasing the little indents. Bake in oven on 180 degrees for about 20 minutes. Everyone’s ovens are different so keep an eye on them and don’t do what I did and forget until they are quite brown on top and you can smell them through the house. Or do if that is how you appreciate time.
I have also tried apple and blueberry muffins, where you make an apple sauce first (there is one in the Everyday Cookbook – add some cinnamon if you wish) then follow as above, substituting blueberries for sultanas. Adjust sweetness depending on the fruit by tasting the batter. If it tastes as if you could keep eating it without bothering with the oven you should have it about right.
As for savoury, I have found if you substitute, say, grated zuchinni and/or carrot (blitzed from roughly chopped to itty bitty pieces prior in Thermomix) for the fruit and grated cheese for the sugar the flavour is about right. You may need to add some salt depending on the saltiness of your cheese. Depending on your child’s tastes you could throw in some spring onion during the grating process to add a zing to the flavour.
And there you have your basic muffin. Breakfast substitute for the perpetually foggy minded. Nutrition for the kidlets. Close enough for the cake deprived.
There is a new Thermomix YouTube video featuring WA chef Matt Stone making almond milk and then making a rice pudding with it. I was tempted to make almond milk because it sounded like a challenge and I tasted a lovely version at a Thermomix consultant gluten free cooking class. So away I went.
I ended up following the recipe given by Quirky Cooking for rice and almond milk. I soaked 50g brown rice and 40g whole almonds plus 4 or 5 pitted dates in 1 litre of water overnight then blended them in the Thermomix on Speed 9 for 2 minutes. Add a tablespoon of either flavourless or complementing flavour oil (eg, macadamia, grapeseed, coconut) to give a creamier texture to the milk. Cook for 6 minutes at 60 degrees, Speed 4. Puree on Speed 9 for 1 minute. Let it cool for a bit. Strain into a vessel through muslin if you have some handy, or a nut bag if you are even handier or through a fine sieve if you are me and new to the requirement for fine straining of nut milks. Keep the resulting sludge and either put it in some kind of cake batter if you are baking straight away or dry out in a low oven for a bit to make it less sludgy and more like an almond/rice/date meal to use later. Or you can look at the video mentioned above and do it his way.
Rice pudding I have not had much patience for. My mother was very good at making it, therefore I have a nostalgic hankering for it now and then. Until Thermomix, however, I have only attempted it once or twice before. Like custard it just takes too long on the stovetop and is too fraught with burning opportunities or an unpleasant outcome that makes me want to throw the saucepan in the bin contents and all and storm off to bed. Now I had made almond milk no problems and I really wanted to see if it would taste nice in a rice pudding as Mr Matt so confidently assured us it would.
The recipe given was a bit large for the two of us, so I halved it. I didn’t bother with the poached rhubarb bit, not having any on me and because I was wanting to use that plum sauce again. I found it interesting that the recipe calls for half almond milk, half pure cream. So if you are non dairy I am guessing all almond milk should work okay, just maybe end up with a bit thinner result. I put in 240g almond milk, 240g cream, a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste I made a few weeks ago (you could use half a vanilla bean split and scraped, or even vanilla essence) and cooked for 8 minutes on 90 degrees on Speed 2. I then added 100g arborio rice (as I am unaware of Rainfed rice as specified in the recipe, something I am sure will be corrected next time I see some of my extremely knowledgeable Thermomix colleagues) and cooked 20 minutes at 90 degrees on Reverse, Speed 2. Matt Stone didn’t say to put on Reverse but I was a little scared not to, not wanting to make rice paste for dessert.
On tasting, the rice was cooked but it needed a little more sugar, so I sprinkled some cinnamon sugar in and poured some plum sauce in then mixed on Speed 1 for 5 seconds (again worrying about turning it into a paste). It made a good amount for two. Sploshing some more plum sauce on top made it look prettier and gave it a great flavour. The almond milk didn’t make itself strongly known, but I did notice that after finishing I didn’t feel like I had a brick in my tummy as I did the last time I ate rice pudding. I think I shall make this again.