Tag Archives: baking

The Miraculous Flour-Less Chocolate Cake

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In 1996 my mother bought me a cookbook.

The book titled ‘YUM’ by Terry Durack, a well known Australian food writer and critic, still commands prime position on my now heavily laden shelf, 20 years on. There are several reasons for this. The most important one being the recipe for his Miraculous Flour-Less Chocolate Cake.

The binding of the book has long fallen from its cover. There are smudges of chocolate over its pages. The paper it was printed on is looking a dull shade of white yellow, but still this book remains on my shelf. Why? Because it’s the best darn chocolate cake I’ve ever baked!

I practically know the recipe off by heart, (I’ve baked it so many times), yet I still take the book out each time and savour those smudges, those faded pages, and the reminiscing it invokes of all the times I’ve cooked and eaten this cake from this cookbook.

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I was a third year apprentice chef, learning the ways of the kitchen, and how to thrive in (at the time) a male dominated industry, when I was given this book. Lets say it has sentimental value. ‘Yum’ reminds me of long hard days working in professional kitchens, being young and free, learning to cook, and what makes a good recipe. And my Mother, it reminds me of my Mother.

But the Miraculous flour-less chocolate cake recipe, lets talk about that! I think it’s the fudge like consistency that I’m most attracted to. It’s never dry like some flour based chocolate cakes can be. The blending of melted chocolate, butter and almond meal feels strong, and then the folding of whisked egg whites makes it light. 

For me, the importance of good cook books are the memories they can invoke. We’ve all been exposed to many an average cookbook. You know the ones. Someone gains a little celebrity status and they then write a cookbook book full of over saturated recipes trying to make us believe they are experts in the felid of cooking. Those cookbooks leave me feeling uninspired.

‘Yum’ on the other hand is of a different era, where cookbooks were peoples life work; recipes they’d been cooking for years. Recipes of substance and worth.

To quote Terry Durack, in reference to his Miraculous Flour-Less Chocolate Cake recipe he says ‘I borrowed it from Jill Dupleix, who borrowed it from Elizabeth David, who borrowed it from the French. It taught me the value of borrowing recipes’.

And his words in turn taught me the value of sharing recipes. Enjoy!

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The Miraculous Flour-Less Chocolate Cake

(Adapted slightly from ‘Yum’ – Terry Durack)

200g 70% cocoa dark chocolate

150g caster sugar

150g butter, diced

100g ground almonds (almond meal)

5 free range eggs, separated

To Finish

Dutch cocoa or icing sugar 

Cream or ice-cream 

Pre heat oven to 175C Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper.

Melt the chocolate, sugar and butter in a bowl sitting on a pot of simmering water.

Remove from heat, stir thoroughly to combine. Mix in the ground almonds, then beat in the egg yolks one by one.

Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, and stir a couple of spoonfuls into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, before gently folding in the rest.

Pour into the cake tin, and bake for 40 minutes.

Leave to cool slightly before removing from tin. Dust with cocoa, or icing sugar, or eat as is. Serve with cream or ice cream.

 

Raspberry Almond And Buttermilk Cake

 

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It doesn’t come naturally for me to share my personal life here on my blog, this has always been a space to share recipes, post my photographs, and write about food. But there are some things, and some events, that change everything. These are the ones that must be shared. So it seems as good a time as any to spill the beans that I’m six months pregnant. In just under 3 months time our lives here will be far from quiet!

This will be my third baby (yikes!). I have no illusions of grandeur, of getting any sleep for the first six months, or of having any time to my self really. I daydream about sleepily rolling out my yoga mat with baby by my side as I try to establish back my post baby yoga-body. I console and remind myself that my ten and seven year olds will be excellent helpers and of course my husband too, who this being his first baby can’t wait to experience every moment of it.

Then, as I have always done over the years, to settle my nerves, or calm my mind, I turn to my kitchen, and I cook.

 

 

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And what better thing for a pregnant woman to cook than cake! Cake has been my saving grace, my shining knight, my obsession.

The golden hue to this – I’d almost say wholesome – cake is largely due to the whole wheat flour and brown, rather than white, sugar, with the added benefit of almond meal and sliced almonds for protein. This more wholesome style of baking is becoming my preference.

I like less sugar in my cake. I feel happier about eating it if there’s fibre, and whole grains, and now that I’m eating for two there’s a satisfaction and fullness that comes from altering white flours, and white sugars, for their less processed cousin.

 

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The first slices of this raspberry, almond and buttermilk cake, served still warm from the oven, are the best. The days that follow, I like to lightly warm the cake through, and always find the excuse to serve it with cream.

Frozen raspberries are perfectly fine for baking, yet if you can get some fresh ones to garnish the cake with you’ll be all the more happier for the effort.

 

Raspberry, almond and buttermilk cake 

150g softened butter

100g brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

2 free range eggs

200g plain whole meal flour

50g almond meal

1/2 tsp bi carb soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup frozen raspberries

40g sliced almonds

To serve

Cream

Fresh raspberries

Pre heat oven to 175C Line a 23cm spring form cake tin with baking paper.

Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whisk on a medium high speed for 1 minute. Add the eggs one at a time beating between additions, and scraping down the sides of the bowl till fully incorporated.

Sift the bi carb and baking powder onto the butter mixture, add the whole meal flour, almond meal and buttermilk and beat till well combined.

Add the frozen raspberries and fold gently to combine. Spread the cake evenly into the lined tin, sprinkle the top with the sliced almonds and bake for 50 minutes, or till an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Remove the spring form tin and cool the cake on a wire rack. For best results, serve slices of warm cake with cream and fresh raspberries.

 

 

 

 

Baked Rhubarb With Orange And Cloves

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Although rhubarb is readily available through autumn it’s often not till early winter that I get round to baking my first tray.

I keep it on hand in the fridge mainly to eat with breakfast, be it with porridge, yoghurt, or muesli. But it would be a crime against rhubarb to stop there. It’s such an interesting fruit to use in baking, that when I do have cooked rhubarb in the fridge, I often feel compelled to bake.

Sometimes I arrange batons of rhubarb across a butter milk cake – before it goes in the oven – or I fold it through and on top of muffins, and have even been known to layer it in the bottom of creme brûlées.

 

 

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The tartness of rhubarb is its defining appeal. And that tartness requires a certain amount of sweetness to tame its sour taste and soften its flavour. I use orange juice, brown sugar and cloves to do this.

As the rhubarb slowly cooks, covered in the oven, it half steams half poaches itself to tender pieces. When cooked just right rhubarb should hold its shape easily, yet still fall apart at the touch of a spoon.

So next time you’re out shopping and you see rhubarbs bright red stalks staring back at you, reach out, grab a bunch, come home, flick the oven on, and you too can discover the many possibilities with baked rhubarb.

 

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Baked rhubarb with orange and cloves

Ingredients 

1 bunch thick stemmed rhubarb

zest 1/2 an orange

1 orange juiced

1/4 cup brown sugar

8 cloves

Pre heat oven to 160C.

Trim the rhubarb of all its leaves, wash and cut into 6 cm lengths.

Lay the rhubarb neatly in a small baking tray.

Place the orange juice, orange zest, brown sugar and cloves in a small pan, stir over a medium heat till sugar dissolves, then pour the liquid over the rhubarb. Cover the tray tightly with foil and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes for thicker stalked rhubarb, less for thinner rhubarb.

Cool completely in the tray before transferring the rhubarb to a container, cover and store the rhubarb in the cooking syrup in the fridge for up to five days.

Quinoa, Cinnamon And Chia Seed Bars

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It’s been a lot of years since I have eaten store-bought muesli bars. They have too much sugar for my liking and added preservatives that I just don’t care for. I prefer to make my own.

This simple recipe is adapted from one I wrote for Who Magazine last year.

Oats and quinoa flakes are combined with spices, dried fruit and nuts. It uses rice bran syrup as a natural alternative to highly processed sugar, and chia seeds soaked to a gel to help hold it all together during baking.

 

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Using rice bran syrup makes these quinoa and chia seed bars low Gi, and that’s a good thing! Low GI foods are digested slower, causing a lower rise in blood glucose levels making it a more sustainable energy source, which also keeps you fuller for longer.  Yay! 

For those of you with children who face the weekly ordeal of packing lunch boxes,(I have two of them that like to inspect the contents of their boxes each day), teach them good food doesn’t come from a packet and add these to their weekly routine.

For hikers and bushwalkers, these bars can quickly become a backpack staple, and one you’ll be happy to have near by when hitting those mountains.

And if you are the type of person to have breakfast on the run (not me, I am truly dedicated to this first meal of the day, and cannot leave home with out it) these bars would get you off to a good start.

Get baking!

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Quinoa and chia seed bars 

1 tbsp (Australian standard size: 20ml) black chia seeds

1/2 cup rice bran syrup

1/4 cup rice bran oil, or grape seed oil

2 tbsp honey

1/2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup quinoa flakes 

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 1/2 cups trail mix (dried fruit and nut mix)

Pre heat oven to 175C

Place the chia seeds and 1/4 cup of cold water in  a small bowl, whisk and stand for 10 minutes till chia seeds turn to a thick gel.

Place the rice bran syrup, oil, honey (if using) and spices in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, turn off the heat and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the quinoa flakes, rolled oats, shredded coconut and trail mix.

Add the soaked chia seeds to the warm rice bran syrup and whisk to combine. Pour onto the quinoa and oat mixture and stir till well combined.

Line a 30cm shallow baking tray with baking paper. Place the quinoa mixture  into the lined tray and using a spatula press it firmly all over till it’s smooth and level.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly in the tray before cooling on a wire rack.  Once bars have cooled, use a sharp knife to cut bars to desired size. Store in an air tight container for up to one week.

Note: For a vegan version of these bars, leave out the 2 tbsp of honey.

(C) Copy right foodfrommichelleskitchen 2016 –  Quinoa and chia seed bars

 

 

 

 

Roasted Broccoli And Garlic Frittata With Pine Nuts And Thyme

 

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I guess I’m one of those lucky parents; my kids have always eaten broccoli. There possibly was some persuading in the beginning but I never had to hide it in their food, or tell them funny stories about eating their ‘trees’. It was, and still is, their most beloved vegetable.

And although my interest in vegetables – of all tastes and flavours –  is far greater than theirs, for me broccoli is a green I always want to see on my plate.  Strangely enough, it’s comfort food.

 

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You are probably familiar with the concept of roasting cauliflower. Its green cousin, – broccoli -can be prepared in exactly the same manner. The florets are sliced into large pieces drizzled with olive oil, salt pepper, maybe a spice, maybe a herb, and roasted in the oven for about 30 minutes.

After you’ve roasted a batch for this frittata, you really must roast another tray and serve it as a side dish on another occasion. We ate roasted broccoli with preserved lemon chicken and quinoa tabouleh a few nights ago and it was delicious.

For this frittata I’ve thrown in whole cloves of garlic to roast. The cloves are then squeezed and the cooked garlic puree (which softens in flavour) is whisked into the egg mixture. It’s fabulous.

Frittata is simple food. It’s dinner. It’s lunch. It’s even breakfast if you’re that way inclined. In fact, sandwiched between two pieces of bread it becomes picnic food too. Eggs are such an easy meal for any time of the day. I would be lost without them.

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Roasted broccoli and garlic frittata with pine nuts and thyme

Ingredients

350g broccoli (one large head stalks included)

4-5 cloves garlic

2 tbsp chopped thyme

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

6 free range eggs

200ml thickened cream 

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

Olive oil

Pre heat oven to 200C.

Slice the broccoli into1cm thick pieces and scatter it on a large tray (lined with baking paper if you wish). Sprinkle the broccoli with olive oil, chopped thyme, salt and pepper and whole cloves of garlic (skin and all). Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Turn the oven down to 175C.

When the garlic has cooled slightly squeeze it out of the cloves. Roughly chop it. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs, chopped garlic, cream, salt and pepper.

Line a 23cm square tin with baking paper. Place the broccoli into the base of the tin and scatter over the toasted pine nuts. Pour the egg mixture over the broccoli and top with grated parmesan.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve warm or cold.

(C) Copy right 2016 – Roasted broccoli and garlic frittata with pine nuts and thyme

Upside Down Blueberry, Hazelnut And Ricotta Cake

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Cake has a wonderful way of making everything seem good and bright and cheery.

This upside down blueberry cake is light and fruity and not-too-sweet.

Why is it an upside down cake? The blueberries sink to the bottom of the cake during baking so flipping it over onto a plate lets the dark purple colours shine through. It’s far prettier served upside down. The crumbled chunks of ricotta create little pockets of soft cheese that surprise and excite when you spoon into the cake and find them there nestled next to the tangy blueberries.

Although i’d usually make this cake with almond meal, today I’ve used ground hazelnuts. But to be honest I think the almond is the way to go. You can be your own judge, and try either or both.

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Upside down blueberry, hazelnut and ricotta cake 

4 free range eggs separated

150g caster sugar

65g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

50g hazelnut meal

Zest of 1 lemon

100g melted butter

150g ricotta

125g punnet fresh blueberries 

To serve

Icing sugar

Thickened cream 

Pre heat oven to 175C. Line a 22cm spring form cake tin with baking paper.

Place the egg yolks and caster sugar in a medium bowl and whisk for 1 minute till light and creamy.

Sift the flour and baking powder onto the eggs, add the hazelnut meal, zest of lemon, and melted butter, and whisk to combine.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites to a soft peak.

Add half the egg whites to the cake mixture and fold gently, add remaining egg whites and fold till combined. Finally, crumble to ricotta in large chunks into the cake, add the blueberries fold gently and pour into lined cake tin.

Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack (don’t serve it warm, it’s better cold).

To serve, place an upside down plate over the cake, flip it over and remove the base. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with thickened cream.

 

(C) Copy right 2016 – Upside down blueberry, hazelnut and ricotta cake

Coconut Pepita and Chia Biscuits with Dark Chocolate

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I have to admit, I’m more of a cake-kind-of-girl then a biscuit one. It’s not that I don’t appreciate a good biscuit. I do. Actually, I’m sharing this recipe with you now because this IS a good biscuit. It’s a great biscuit. It’s crunchy…not too sweet…and can actually be debated that’s it’s kind of healthy.

And what makes it so? Wholemeal flour is a good start – sure beats processed white.

Then there’s the pepita seeds – the pretty green seed taken from inside a pumpkin seed – which by the way are full of iron, magnesium and zinc.

LSA mix – ground linseed, sunflower, almond meal – is in here too. That adds some healthy omega-3 fats.

Chia seeds are full of calcium and high in antioxidants – apparently they have higher levels than blueberries! – and they replace the need for egg – remember this recipe?.

And coconut, well, I just love coconut…

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These biscuits have a similar method to an Anzac biscuit, only they’re healthier.  The melted chocolate on top is totally optional and not altogether necessary. If I’m short on time I skip the melted chocolate part and leave them as is.

My kids love it when I bake these biscuits. Actually, my husband probably loves it just as much they do, maybe more. He’s a biscuit-kind-of-guy. He’s been known in the past to buy horrible supermarket biscuits. He practically has to sneak them in the door so I don’t give him a lecture on how foul they are, how full of processed rubbish they are, and how overly sugared they are – poor guy, must be tough being married to me.

He does love these though and if I’m trying to get him on board for some favour I need doing then a batch of these oh-so-good-biscuits are a great place to start.

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If you want to make these for the kids to take to school, yet your having to follow strict school guidelines about no food with nuts (this is seriously out of control this whole allergy thing) then leave out the LSA mix and add an extra 2 tbsp wholemeal self raising flour. That keeps them nut free and school lunch-box-friendly.

Coconut pepita and chia seed biscuits with dark chocolate

Ingredients

100g butter

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2tbsp hot water

160g wholemeal self raising flour

2 tbsp LSA mix (ground linseed, sunflower and almonds)

80g brown sugar

60g shredded coconut

70g pepita seeds

80g dark chocolate bits, plus extra for melting if desired

Pre heat oven to 175C OR 155C fan forced. Place the butter, honey, chia seeds, bi carb and hot water in a small saucepan. Stir over a medium heat till butter melts. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Place the wholemeal flour, LSA mix, brown sugar, shredded coconut, pepita seeds and chocolate bits in a medium size bowl, stir till well combined. Make a well in the center of the flour.  When the butter mixture has cooled add to the flour mixture and stir till dough comes together.

Line two trays with baking paper. Take a spoon of biscuit mix and roll it into a ball, place it on the lined tray then use your finger tips and palm of hand to flatten to a circular shape. Continue with remaining mix till all biscuits are rolled and flattened.

Bake in the oven for 18 – 20 minutes, or till golden and cooked through. Cool biscuits on a wire rack. If you are drizzling with the extra chocolate – this is optional and feel free to skip this step – place melted chocolate in a snap lock bag, snip off the end, and drizzle biscuits in a zig zag manner. Allow chocolate to set. Store the cold biscuits in an airtight container for 5-6 days.