Archive of ‘Festive food’ category

Christmas thumbprint cookies

Christmas thumprint cookies

Christmas huh. How did that happen? If you, like me, have found it’s suddenly the latter half of December and you haven’t done a thing…read on friend. I’m here to help.

Over the next week I’m throwing together baking with love some gifts for friends and family. Um, if you think you are one of those friends or family who will be getting these gifts maybe you should stop reading. Otherwise, here are some easy, cheap and super tasty gifts. (more…)

Why making fruit mince pies will be the death of you – part 2 (the pastry)

One perfect fruit mince pie

Update Nov 2014: Looking back I did have a mini breakdown at my first try of ever making pastry. I think trying to photograph, blog and present various options while doing it for the first time ever added to the time and effort – so you’ll be fine! Take heart.

Some readers also left other recipe options in the notes. This year, I’m also going to try one of these pie maker machines, I’ll let you know how it goes. Now, back to your usual programming…

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I must write this quickly, before the endorphins from the sugar kick in and I forget how hard the past seven hours were.

You see, someone needs to tell the truth. Someone needs to stop fooling people about recipes and ‘whipping up’ something simple and start talking real talk.

So here it is.

Making fruit mince pies from scratch is *probably* not worth the effort.

There. I said it.

And I can say it because between me and a friend today we made over 40 fruit mince pies. (more…)

Fruit mince pies – part 1 (the fruit mince)

Fruit mince in a jar

Right. Let’s mince.

This is a two part series on making fruit mince pies. Firstly, you need to get your mince soaking. Preferably for at least one week, up to a month (OK OK, AT LEAST over night, all right?).

Then, once that’s done skip across and check out ‘Why making fruit mince pies will be the death of you – part 2 (the pastry)‘.

I do love eating fruit mince pies. Here’s what we’re aiming for: (more…)

Passionfruit melting moments

Through extensive research over the past 25 years it is apparent that everyone loves melting moments. The buttery goodness, with or without icing, is always a favourite.

Here’s the proof:

Case 1: as a young’n’ my Grandma used to make them to take to the oldies home that she volunteered at. And those oldies used to play seriously competitive bingo to win a parcel of them.

Case 2: as a young’n’ I used to go to the oldies home with my Gran and my brother and I would play seriously competitive bingo to try and win a parcel… even if afterwards my Gran made me give them back to the oldies.

Case 3: A semi-young’n’ I used to make them for my dad to take to work in exchange for a bit of pocket money, and the guys in the factory love them on smoko (for non Australians, smoko = morning tea break).

Yep, this is a biscuit for the oldies, young’n’s and the everyday man. Word.

I think there is something in that for all of us.

It should be noted that my Gran’s melting moments had a cocoa based chocolate icing in between them. My Dutch Grandfather had to have chocolate with everything. Not a bad thing. And then my Mum’s melting moments had a melted-chocolate based chocolate icing.

And now I bring you passionfruit.

Ingredients

250 grams butter
½ cup icing sugar
½ cup caster sugar
½ cup custard powder
2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
1 ½ tablespoons of water

Icing

2 passionfruit
Tablespoon of butter
Approx 2 cups of icing sugar – have more on hand.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees, line cookie trays with baking paper.
  2. Beat the butter and sugars together.
  3. Add custard powder, flour, vanilla essence and water, mix well. The dough will be hold-it’s-own-shape thick.
  4. Take a teaspoon of mixture and roll into a ball. Get them round, you’ll need them a uniform shape for icing. Place on cookie trays and then squish down hard with fork.
  5. Bake for 8 – 10 mins until just golden on the bottom (check by lifting one up with a spatula).
  6. Cool on rack.
  7. To make icing: scoop passionfruit insides into a bowl, add a tablespoon of margarine. Add enough icing sugar so it’s as hold-it’s-own-shape as the dough was. This will be a lot.
  8. To ice, you should be able to put some icing on one biscuit, then roll in between two biscuits to make the icing round, then squish it. This will give it a nice shape.

Note: I did end up with a bit of left over icing, which suits me fine as it freezes well. It’s hard to the quantities just right. If you do, let me know and I’ll update the above.

Quantity: Makes 42 individual biscuits, so 21 sandwiched with passionfruit icing.

Healthy? *snort* maybe in opposites land. One of the biscuits is 86 calories. For the whole thing with icing it is about 223 (depending on your icing quantity).

Storage: No eggs, so they will last. Store in airtight container.

Great-grandma’s pumpkin cake

This recipe was passed on to me by an Aunty. It was passed to her by her Grandma. And now I’m passing it on to you!

Great-grandma Beatrice was a farmers wife with four sons and one daughter. Practical recession-busting recipes like this were very much the go. But this recipe is by no means cheap on taste.

The pumpkin makes this cake lovely and moist, and the spices and mixed fruit remind me of Christmas.

I never met my Great-grandma as she passed away before I was born. I really like the idea of making a cake that she made. This to me is what cooking is all about.

To complete the little loop I’ll be taking some of this cake with me on a walk in the English countryside with the Aunt who gave me the recipe. Then it’s all tied up with a nice little bow.

Note: I used dried cranberries, dried cherries, almond, sultanas and the rind of a lemon and orange for my mixed fruit component. I’d usually use a bag of mixed fruit, but the bag of mixed fruit at the supermarket was 80% sultanas and 15% currents. How is that mixed? That’s just sultanas and currents. Pffft. And yea, I know almonds aren’t fruit. But I like them, so they went in.

I also didn’t have mixed spice and am trying hard to not accumulate things as I’m leaving London so soon, so used a combo of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. It was lovely. I hope my Great-grandma was OK with all this. I think she would be.

Mixed fruit and the rind of a lemon and orange for extra zest

Ingredients
250 grams pumpkin, cooked and mashed
¼ cup butter
2 eggs
¾ cup sugar
250 grams of mixed fruit
1 teaspoon mixed spice (lacking this – I used a combination of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg)
1 ½ cups self-raising flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon vinegar

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C and grease a 18cm round or square cake tin.
  2. Into the hot cooked pumpkin, add the butter and allow to cool.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well.
  4.  Pour in to your prepared cake tin and bake for 50-55 minutes. It’s done when a knife comes out clean and it’s nice a golden on top.

Healthy? Cut up into 16 peices to take to work with tea makes them 165 calories a slice. The whole cake is 2,650 depending on your fruit choices.

Gluten free? I think you could easily swap in a GF flour and it would bind well. But I haven’t tried it.

Storage: In an airtight container. It also freezes beautifully.

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