Posts tagged Baking

I can’t claim this recipe. I can’t even claim having found this recipe. The thing is, my friend who shared the love my way doesn’t have a food blog of her own (though the way she cooks, she should) so I feel it’s my duty to in turn share the love to you lot…whomsoever you lovely bunch are.

I’m constantly on the hunt for ‘treats’ which house relatively sound levels of goodness, both so that I don’t feel pangs of guilt every time I reach for the cookie jar, but also so I can have some control over the level of sugar which hits the thirsty veins of my threenager on a daily basis. Trouble is that most of the time I make something in the ‘vaguely healthy’ treat category she can sniff it out from a mile off and turns her picky little nose up at it.

These cookies, blessedly, have achieved the seemingly unachievable…being miraculously delicious and healthy at the same time. The original recipe is also very malleable which means you can tweak to your heart’s content depending on how you’re feeling on any given day and what’s in the pantry. You can roll them in sesame seeds or desiccated coconut or just leave them nude (as Thea demands). I’ve used liquid honey, brown rice syrup and pure maple syrup as the sweetener on various occasions. Maple and honey will yield a sweeter cookie if that’s what you fancy. Use all peanut butter, all tahini or a mix of the two. Leave out the cacao and chocolate and the recipe will be close to the original.

I’ve never made Elana’s recipe in its original form (though I have no doubt they’re great). I made a few little changes in the desperate hope my daughter would go for them and go for them she did. So…cook them à la original or mix it up a bit and get creative. Either way this recipe is a keeper. They’re regulars in the cookie jar now, which is almost always half-empty.

Makes approx 16 cookies (plus a little extra for eating raw…don’t deny yourself the pleasure).

1 1/4 cups ground almonds (almond meal)
2 tbsp cacao powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch sea salt
30g dark chocolate (I like to use 85% dark) – finely chopped
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/3 cup mix of tahini and peanut butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup sesame seeds (or desiccated coconut)

1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C and line an oven tray with baking paper.
2. Combine the ground almonds, cacao, baking soda and sea salt in a mixing bowl along with the chopped chocolate.
3. Put the honey, tahini, peanut butter, coconut oil and vanilla in a separate bowl and stir well to combine.
4. Tip the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir well to bring together into a dough.
5. Roll portions of the dough into walnut-sized balls (approx 20g each) then roll in the sesame seeds to coat well.

6. Place on the lined oven tray and flatten just slightly with a fork to about 1cm thick (they spread a bit while cooking). Bake for 10-12 minutes in the middle of the oven (too low/high and they will burn). I like these nice and crispy so tend to bake to 12 minutes but if you prefer them a little chewy err, on the side of caution and aim for 10 minutes. My oven is a little temperamental so to ensure they cook evenly I rotate the tray half-way through the cooking time.

7. Remove from the oven and gently transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Just a quick little post today…my new baby has decided that day sleeps are overrated, unless she happens to be attached to my chest, so as you can imagine any spare time is pretty much non-existent. Having said that I have managed to throw a thing or two into the oven since August arrived a couple of weeks ago. Mostly these baking sessions have involved one recipe set to ‘repeat’ as it’s one of the quickest and easiest baking recipes I’ve come across. Not only that but these little cakes are one of the healthiest treats you could dream up being free of refined sugar, gluten, butter and oil. The original recipe comes care of the much-loved Petite Kitchen blog – I’ve made her Upside Down Mandarin & Poppy Seed Cakes innumerable times now but today felt like experimenting with the basic premise of the recipe whilst changing up the ingredients a bit.

My version below is even quicker and easier to make. I replaced the mandarins with frozen berries and used coconut in place of the poppy seeds. No need to boil mandarins for an hour – just defrost a cup of berries and you’re good to go.

These are truly a one-bowl-wonder. Everything gets put into the bowl of an electric mixer and whisked until well combined. Couldn’t be easier! The cakes are stained a shade of blue from the berries breaking down in the mix but they can be dressed up with a light dusting of icing sugar if you feel that way inclined.

Serve them with a large dollop of something on the side, depending on your required level of virtuousness…thick greek yoghurt and a drizzle of honey for a guilt-free treat; my favourite – a half-half mix of greek yoghurt and whipped cream with a touch of vanilla extract; or a large dollop of mascarpone for a slightly naughtier version.


INGREDIENTS (makes 10 mini-cakes)
1 cup frozen berries – I used a mix of blueberry and raspberry
Juice 1 orange (or tangelo)
4 free-range eggs
2 cups ground almonds
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
Finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup liquid honey
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1. Place the frozen berries into a small bowl, squeeze over the orange juice and set aside to defrost.
2. Preheat the oven to 160°C and grease 10 muffin tin recesses well with butter.
3. Put the eggs, ground almonds, coconut, lemon rind, honey, baking soda, apple cider vinegar and defrosted berries/juice into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on a medium-high setting until well combined.
4. Divide the mix between the 10 muffin tins and bake for approximately 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of a cake comes out clean.
5. Leave to cool completely in the tins then gently lift out with a knife.
6. Dust with icing sugar to serve if desired and accompany with your choice of yoghurt, cream or mascarpone.

Gah!! It’s been a tragically long time between posts. I feel so sheepish about my lack of blogging of late I’m slightly hesitant to get back on that horse. Funny thing being though that I came up with this recipe on the same day as this scented macaroons post and somehow got distracted enough to forget that it was all written up and ready to go! Distracted indeed. Two things are primarily to blame…

1. Needle&I suddenly took a busy turn and I’ve been struggling to keep up with work whilst still being enough of a Mum to my girl Thea that she didn’t forget who I am.
2. I’m pregnant with #2. Which has somehow thwarted my energy and motivation for much of the 8+ months I’ve been in my current, er, state. This pregnancy has been so much more taxing than the first, for obvious reasons. No longer able to put my feet up when and for as long as I felt like it, I’ve had to keep my puffy extremities firmly planted on the floor, mostly chasing around after my toddler. This has left little reserves for anything other than the orders which have just kept rolling in.

Excuses aside (I could go on, but those are the principle ones) I’m now in an odd state of limbo awaiting #2’s imminent arrival. I really did think it would arrive earlier rather than later but apparently it’s made itself quite comfortable on the inside and no amount of coaxing seems to be encouraging it to enter the world proper. So…being the impatient person that I am, I have to distract myself from this waiting before it completely does me in.

Back to food then! Getting into the kitchen again is one of the things I’ve been enjoying over the last week or so. I’m stocking up the freezer, baking every other day and generally spending time in the kitchen for pleasure’s sake.

As I mentioned, this recipe has been lurking in the background for some time now. I took a little jaunt down memory lane with the macaroons which took me back to all the divine sweet treats we found on our travels through Morocco in what seems like another lifetime completely. This is loosely based on my (slightly time-fuzzy) memories of the delicate pastry treats encasing sweet combinations of dried fruits, nuts and spices that could be found in the plethora of incredible bakeries of Morocco.

The filling is very easy to whip up, the only slightly fiddly bit is in the rolling of the filo which really isn’t difficult at all but it does require an unhurried hand. These would be a lovely finish to a dinner party served with a small, strong coffee or mint tea on the side.


150g pitted dates
Juice of 2 oranges
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup ground almonds
1 tbsp liquid honey
40g roughly chop nuts – brazil, almond, walnuts or pistachios work well
8 sheets filo pastry
2 tbsp butter for brushing – melted
Flaked coconut – to serve (optional)

1. Put the dates into a small bowl, juice the oranges and pour over the dates to just cover. Leave the dates to soak for at least two hours or overnight (covered, in the fridge).
2. When you are ready to start assembling, preheat the oven to 180°C and line an oven tray with baking paper.
3. Drain the dates well in a colander for a good 15 minutes, shaking the colander a few times to remove as much liquid as possible.

4. Place the drained dates into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to break them down a bit.
5. Add the cinnamon, vanilla, ground almonds and honey and pulse well until a relatively lump-free paste forms. You will need to scrape the sides down a few times during this process.
6. Add the roughly chopped nuts and pulse another couple of times to chop the nuts further whilst still keeping them a little chunky for a contrast in texture.

7. Lay a sheet of filo pastry onto the benchtop, making sure the surface is clean and dry. Brush with melted butter, lay a second sheet directly on top and brush again with butter. Cut the sheet into two large squares. Repeat until you have six double-layered filo squares.
8. Divide the mixture into 6 portions and spread into a long sausage shape along one side of each square, leaving a gap of about 2cm between the edge of the pastry. Fold the sides into the centre to hold the mix in place then roll up into a cigar shape making sure the open end is tucked underneath the roll when you place it on the baking tray.

9. Brush each cigar with a little butter and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden and crispy. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

10. Dry-toast the coconut flakes in a frying pan until fragrant and golden on the tips then remove to a board to cool.

11. Serve the cigars warm with a side of thick and creamy natural unsweetened yoghurt and a sprinkling of the coconut flakes.

I’ve becoming more than a little obsessed with coconut of late. My rather more glamorous friend visited recently from Sydney and brought all her lotions and potions along for the ride which made not only her smell delicious but our house as well. Her aura made its olfactory mark, let’s say. I was jealous. I wanted to waft about the house smelling divinely sweet and just a little bit less like the mother of a toddler. You mothers out there will know what I mean.

Short of investing in the mini-apothecary that my friend carries with her, I made sure I nosied about in her stash to find out the scented secret of my lust. There were a few things I would have loved to get my hands on, but one in particular struck me as both unusual and so scrumptious to the nostrils that I had to give it a go. What was it? Why the humble, pantry-stored, cook-em-up Coconut Oil. How I have yet to discover this apparent miracle substance is beyond me. How did I miss the boat on this one?? I’ve recently discovered that there are a million and one uses for coconut oil and as many benefits from smearing it on every corporal surface possible (including the interior). I’ll extoll the full list in another blog post, but suffice to say that it’s so good for the body that you could be forgiven for bathing in it every day. Though naturally you’d be a little greasier for it.

I’ve now taken to smearing my skin, head to toe, in this delicious substance twice daily after I shower. The first few times you do this you’ll find yourself sniffing your limbs every few minutes to fully inhale the intense coconuty delight that now resides on your epidermis. I smell like a Krispie biscuit 24/7 which is a very fine thing indeed.

All this skin-talk aside, the constant reminder of Krispie biscuits has made me crave coconut cookies. Not the packet, processed kind, but the homemade variety made from real ingredients with real goodness and flavour. So, I whipped these tasty little morsels up this morning to fulfil my wanton needs.

These macaroons are not the delicate, multi-coloured French variety but rather more of the Moroccan ilk which are chewy and tender and incredibly moreish. They’re made them with a mix of ground almonds and coconut, sweetened with honey and scented delicately with orange zest. Perfect for morning tea with a freshly brewed coffee.

NOTE: Be sure to place the tray of cookies in the middle of the oven. If you place them too low or high you’ll burn their bums/heads.


INGREDIENTS (makes 16 small cookies)
1 cup ground almonds
1 cup desiccated coconut
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup liquid honey
2 large certified free-range eggs – whites only

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line an oven tray with baking paper.
2. Place the ground almonds and coconut into a mixing bowl and zest the orange directly on top.

3. Add the honey and egg whites (no need to whisk first) and stir well to bring all ingredients together into a sticky mass.

4. Roll walnut-sized portions into balls and place on the baking tray. Flatten slightly with a fork and bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden.

5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Serve with freshly brewed coffee…these cookies are great for dunking!

It’s been quite some time between blog posts I must say. I’ve been a little on the busy side, to say the least, and sadly the first thing to drop out of my days is creativity in the kitchen. I’m a creature of habit when I’m stretched for spare time so all the usual culinary suspects have been boring me to tears lately in a desperate attempt to simplify my daily routine. About the only thing I’ve managed to squeeze in has been a spot of baking brought about by my monthly hosting of a group of friends and their rugrats at our house.

I had a mound of overripe bananas on the cusp of Rotsville which were destined for the rather disparate fates of either baked glory or rubbish bin demise. The day of hosting arrived just in a nick of time as the bananas reached their full-flavoured baking potential, mere hours before they were only ripe for turfing out.

So, bake ’em I did. Into this very moist, very delicious loaf which has been naturally sweetened with honey, dates and aforementioned bananas. With a base of ground almonds it’s gluten-free and incredibly moist thanks to the fruit content.

As divine as cakes are hot from the oven, this one does need a good 30 minutes to cool down before you carve into it. It’s dense from the fruit content yet light in texture, a combination which means it’s a little fragile when hot out of the oven. Exercise some restraint if you can muster it and leave the loaf to sit in the tin for 30 minutes before lifting out and carefully cutting into thick slices.

This recipe makes a large loaf so any leftovers can be put under a hot grill for breakfast the next day. Absolutely delicious smothered in butter or topped with a dollop of greek yoghurt if you want to keep it on the virtuous side.

125g butter – at room temperature
1/3 cup liquid honey
2 large free-range eggs
100g dates – roughly chopped
2 large bananas, approximately 250g peeled weight (the riper the better)
1.5 cups ground almonds
1/2 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
80g walnuts – roughly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a loaf tin and line the base with baking paper.
2. Place the roughly chopped dates into a small bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Drain well in a colander and set aside.
3. Put the butter and honey into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and creamy. Add the drained dates and beat well again – this helps break the dates down a little.
4. Add the eggs to the butter mix, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Mash the bananas well and add to the butter/egg mix and stir to combine.
6. In a large mixing bowl combine the ground almonds, flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and chopped nuts.
7. Tip the egg mix into the dry mix and fold together gently until just combined.
8. Pour the batter into the greased loaf tin, smooth the top and bake in the oven for approximately 1 hour until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
9. Remove from the oven and leave to sit in the tin for about half an hour before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

NOTE: If the top of the loaf starts to darken too much during cooking, place a sheet of tin foil very loosely over the top to prevent it burning.

Is it wrong to eat pudding for lunch? Not in winter…and definitely not on a Sunday. In my book a hearty apple crumble is capable of encompassing many nutritional essentials…protein, carbohydrates, fruit, grains and nuts. This may be slightly wishful thinking on my part but I’ll try anything to relieve the tiny skerick of guilt I’m harboring in the back of my mind. At any rate, it’s naturally sweetened with honey and coconut sugar so really it’s not naughty at all given fats in moderation aren’t anything to be scared of.

I could be talked into eating this crumble at any time of the day, if I’m honest. For breakfast with greek yoghurt or for lunch or dessert with lashings of whipped cream. Whatever time of the day you decide to eat this deliciously warming little pudding, you’ll find it easy to throw together and absolutely divine served fresh out of the oven.

NOTE: This crumble would be great with any combination of cooked fruit. I’ve made this before with a mix of apple and tamarillo which was divine as the tang of the tamarillo was beautifully offset by the sweetness of the crumble. Pears, nectarines or peaches would also be delicious. Play around with fruit combos to find your favourite.

INGREDIENTS – for the apples
4 medium apples – peeled and cored
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp liquid honey
2 tbsp water

INGREDIENTS – for the crumble
2/3 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup thread coconut
1/3 cup coconut sugar
Rind 1 lemon
100g butter – melted

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Cut the peeled and cored apples into quarters then cut each quarter lengthwise into slices approximately 5mm thick.

3. Place the sliced apples into a medium saucepan along with the vanilla extract, honey and water. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the apples are just tender but not falling apart. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly with the lid off.
4. Put all the dry crumble ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Add the melted butter and stir well to incorporate.
5. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the apples to a pie dish (approximately 4 cup capacity), press down slightly then trickle over 2 tbsp of the cooking liquid. Discard any remaining liquid.

6. Pour the crumble mix over the apples, spread out evenly and press down lightly with the back of a spoon.

7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden and oh so fragrant. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5-10 minutes, depending on how impatient you are.

8. Spoon into bowls and served with a generous dollop of freshly whipped cream.


I feel like I’m perpetually on a quest to find nutritious snacks to throw into Thea’s lunchbox which don’t cost the earth and won’t put her teeth into the line of sugary fire that most store-bought snacks promise to do. These little oaty bites are packed with the goodness of nuts and oats, are naturally sweetened with dates and honey and have a lovely nutty flavour thanks to the tahini. They’re very easy to throw together and keep well once stored in an airtight container.

What I love most about these bites is that you can make up double the dry volume (everything minus the tahini and honey) and reserve half of it in a jar as homemade muesli. It’s super delicious soaked in almond or rice milk with a dollop of organic natural yoghurt, a drizzle of honey and some fresh fruit. My kind of start to the day.

You could play around with the types of nuts and seeds you want to use depending on your preferences, just keep the volumes the same and the recipe will still work a treat. I used non-stick mini-muffin tins as they provide a good portion size and make it easy to press the bites into shape.

1/2 cup dates – roughly chopped
50g brazil nuts – roughly chopped
25g sunflower seeds
25g pumpkin seeds
30g dessicated coconut
100g oats (buy gluten-free if need be)
150g hulled tahini
4 tbsp manuka honey

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. Combine the dates, brazil nuts, seeds, coconut and oats in a bowl and mix well.

3. Add the tahini and honey and stir well with a wooden spoon until everything is well incorporated and has come together.
4. Use your hands to firmly press tablespoons of the mix into the mini-muffin tins (you don’t need to grease the cavities).

5. Bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the tins by gently running a bread knife around the edge of each bite. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container.


I’m chomping my way through an influx of homegrown lemons which have generously been gifted to us over the last week or so. It’s a race against time as I try to do them all justice before they turn into garden mulch. I whipped up these delicious little lemon and poppy seed muffins this morning after wracking my brain for all things lemony. They’re absolutely delicious still warm from the oven served with a generous “fuck it, it’s Friday” smear of butter…not to mention the delicate little crunch from the poppy seeds.

A quick word on eggs…I urge you to spend a little extra money on certified free-range eggs as they not only taste immeasurably better than cage eggs, but you won’t be left with a heavy conscience and bitter taste in your mouth as to the origin and treatment of the chickens from whence they came. It’s deplorable how chickens are kept in a significant amount of commercial premises and the term ‘free-range’ has no legal standard as to the actual conditions in which the chickens are kept. The use of ‘free-range’ on packaging has become an insidious marketing ploy. The only way you can be sure you are not supporting inhumane practices is to buy certified free-range* produce.

Right then, that’s today’s rant out of the way. I’m off to have my second butter-soaked muffin in the beautiful autumn sunshine.


INGREDIENTS (makes 8 medium muffins)
1 cup flour
1 cup ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup poppy seeds
Zest of 1 large lemon
100g butter – gently melted and cooled
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 free-range eggs*
Juice of 1/2 large lemon
1/4 cup milk

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line 8 muffin cavities with muffin cases.
2. Combine the flour, almonds, baking powder, poppy seeds and finely grated lemon zest in a medium mixing bowl.

3. In a separate small bowl whisk the melted butter, sugar, eggs and lemon juice until well combined.
4. Pour the butter mix into the dry mix along with the milk and fold gently together until just incorporated.
5. Spoon the mix into the muffin cases and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until lightly golden on top.

6. Allow to cool for five minutes then serve warm with lashings of butter.

NOTE: As with all muffins these are best eaten on the day they are baked. If you have any leftovers they can be refreshed by cutting in half and placing under the grill for a minute or two.


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