Chocolate Birthday Cake
Birthdays were always special times. We usually had glorious parties at home after weeks of planning. Bianca’s parties tended to feature a swimming or Halloween theme. Sven’s parties usually involved some type of sporting theme.
This is one of those everyday plain chocolate cakes that everyone loves. We used it baked in a lamington tin covered with smarties to take to school to celebrate birthdays as well as at the birthday party. It was extra special cause we only had it when someone was having a birthday cause I always suspected that chocolate wasn’t real good for you and stayed away from anything chocolate most of the time.
300g (440g) butter, cut into small cubes
200g (300g) flour
250g (400g) sugar
40g (60g) cocoa
4 (6) eggs
100ml (150ml) water
2t (3t) baking powder
- Heat oven to 170°C or 325°F.
- Butter and flour a 23cm diameter baking tin (20cmx30cm lamington tin).
- Place all ingredients in food processor.
- Process for 10 seconds.
- Scrape ingredients down and process for another 10 seconds.
- Place in baking tin and bake for about 45-50minutes until knitting needle or skewer comes out clean.
- Cover with chocolate icing and decorate.
Note: Quantities in brackets can be used to make the larger lamington sized cake
250g icing sugar
1 Tablespoon boiling water
- Process in food processor till well mixed.
- Spread top and sides of cake with icing immediately. It will set if not used immediately.
Celebrate 4th July with American Apple Pie
No one does fruit pies and tarts as well as the United States especially in the country towns. I scoured the country trying to find the secret of the luscious gooey apple pies and as you can see from this recipe it’s all in the syrup made from apple ‘juice’ and butter. What more fitting way to celebrate 4th of July than with this Apple Pie. Serve with ice cream – ‘a la mode’ – as the Americans would say.
1.2 kg (2.5lb) granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1 cm thick slices
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark treacle sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon maizena/cornflour
Flaky pastry to fill a 9 inch (23cm) pie dish – ensure it is deep enough as this is a typical American high pie.
- Line deep pie dish with flaky pastry.
- Mix apples and all the ingredients excluding the butter, maizena and pastry in a large bowl.
- Macerate for at least 30minutes. Drain in a colander collecting all the “juice”. You need about 1/2 cup of “juice”.
- Boil this “juice” together with the butter in a small saucepan until thick and the liquid has halved.
- In the mean time add the maizena to the apples and and mix till dry.
- Now add syrup to apples and stir through. Place in pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 60 minutes to maintain flakiness of the pastry.
- Remove plastic wrap. Bake in preheated oven at 425F/210C for around 40 minutes in bottom shelf of oven.
- Cool for 4 hours before serving.
Chocolate and White Biscuits Impress
These brown and white biscuits are delicious and very sophisticated so you can use them to impress. You can experiment with different patterns. They are good fun for kids to make as well.
250g(1/2 lb) butter
125g(1/4 lb) icing sugar
375g(3/4 lb) flour
30ml(2.5 Tablespoons) cocoa
little lemon juice
- Heat oven to 160°C or 325°F
- Cream butter and icing sugar in a Kenwood mixer till light and fluffy.
- Add flour and a little lemon juice. Mix.
- Remove mixture from bowl. Divide into half.
- Add cocoa to one half and beat well in Kenwood Mixer.
- Pat each mixture into a separate firm ball and flatten into a rectangle about 1cm(1/2 inch) thick
- Slice each rectangle into 1cm(1/2 inch) strips
- Alternate 2xwhite strips with 1xbrown and add 2 layers on top alternating colours so you end up with a cube of 3×3. This process is similar to how you would plait hair.
- Another option is to make spirals by laying the white rectangle on top of the brown an rolling it like a swiss roll before slicing.
- Slice into ½cm(1/4 inch) biscuits and bake on a flat biscuit tray for 15minutes.
- Smile at the compliments.
Pecan Meringue Pie
This sweet is thick, gooey and absolutely scrumptious. When Bianca was first born I used to have a ritual where I would meet my best friend, Keryn, for tea once a week. This was what we would order when we were being bad at one of our favourite coffee shops in Rosebank in Johannesburg. Something I have not seen in Australia- maybe because they don’t have Salticrax. In case you’re wondering what we had for tea when we were good it was ……. cheese muffins. Click here for the Cheese Muffins.
2 extra large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup caster sugar
16 salticrax, broken into small pieces
1 cup halved pecans
whipped cream and some extra chopped pecans to serve (Optional)
- Heat oven to 160°C (300°F)
- Beat egg whites until frothy.
- Add sugar and baking powder and beat until stiff.
- Fold in pecans and salticrax.
- Smooth into greaseproof lined pie dish.
- Bake for about 30minutes until colour changes and tart is dry.
- Just before serving, cover with whipped cream and extra pecans.
- Eat in one sitting as it will go soggy if left overnight.
Note: The closest thing I found to Salticrax in Australia was the Franklins No Frills imitation Jatz. Jazz themselves are not quite right.
Christmas Fruit Mince Tarts like Granny used to make them.
This recipe uses a shortcrust pastry which goes all biscuity and is quite divine despite the simplicity of the pastry. These are very traditional – hearty and delicious. The pastry is prepared using a Kenwood mixer rather than a food processor and the extra few minutes required are well worth the result. The pastry allows for a substantial quantity – only make as many tarts as you need and eat warm if you can. Save the remaining pastry in the fridge for another occasion during the festive season.
Makes 48 tarts (7cm diameter) with lids.
500g caster sugar
2 cups Self Raising flour
1½ cups plain flour
2 jars Robertson’s fruit mince
- Cream butter and sugar in Kenwood Mixer until almost white.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating all the while
- Add flour and knead well
- Break into two portions, wrap in cling wrap and store in fridge.
- Grease a 12 cup muffin baking pan with capacity for twelve 7cm diameter tarts.
- Roll pastry out to about ¼cm thick – you definitely don’t want these too thin.
- Using a 10cm cutter, cut rounds and line holes of prepared pan.
- Fill with Robertson’s fruit mince.
- Using a 7cm cutter, cut tops and place on top of fruit mince.
- Pinch pastry closed and brush with egg.
- Bake at 170°C for 15- 20minutes until lightly browned.
- Immediately turn out onto a wire rack so that pastry crisps up and does not get soggy.
- Cool 20minutes and serve sprinkled with icing sugar. They are wonderful eaten cold but even better slightly warm. For ultimate flavour, eat them on the same day you bake them or reheat if made the day before.
Liz’s Famous Christmas Fruit Cake
I found this recipe in a copy of the Sunday Times in the early 1980’s and, with a few modifications, made it my own – one of the cakes that established my reputation as a cook. Aren’t people kind? The reputation is undeserved as this is so easy – use quality ingredients and don’t dry the cake out when you bake. Then you, too, will be famous. A bit of trial and error is involved in getting the moistness just right – make some notes that are specific to the way your oven functions till the cake is perfect. Believe it or not, this is a boiled fruit cake so you can make and eat it straight away. I boil then mix the whole thing in a deep 23cm pot. And, yes, it was the cake I made for our wedding cake.
Simmer in a large pot for 10 minutes:
750g mixed cake fruit mix, Use Sunbeam brand WITHOUT the imitation cherries
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup sugar (Try reducing sugar)
1 cup boiling water
Add the following and continue to simmer for a further 5 minutes:
125g glace cherries, halved (not imitation) or any other place fruit
1 cup mixed unsalted nuts, halved (mix of almonds, brazils and walnuts work best)
Cool thoroughly or overnight then add the following beaten together:
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon almond essence
1 teaspoon lemon essence
1 teaspoon rum essence
2 Tablespoons brandy
Sift together and add:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
- Mix all well.
- Line a 23cm round baking tin with 3 layers of greaseproof or brown paper. Add fruitcake mixture.
- When baking it is best not to use the fan forced feature as this dries the cake out. Bake at 140°C for 45minutes then at 160°C for another 45 minutes. Start checking early and remove as soon as the knitting needle/skewer comes out just clean.
- Remove from pan and pour over 3T brandy. When cool turn cake over and pour over another 3T brandy.
- Wrap in 2-3layers of foil in an airtight container. Can be eaten immediately but can keep for 3 months.
Everyone loves this Easy Lemon Meringue Pie
Make when you’re feeling indulgent – really bad, but sooooo delicious… easy and a little different because it uses condensed milk as a base for the filling. A Golliwog biscuit base adds a lovely chocolatey contrast to the lemon filling or use ginger nuts for a spicy combination – my favourite. The food processor works well to crush those Arnott’s ginger nuts – don’t make them too fine as it is nice to retain some crunch.
1 packet Golliwogs chocolate biscuits or Gingernuts, crushed
125g butter, melted
1x400g tin condensed milk
2 eggs, separated
½ cup juice and rind of 1 large lemon
¾ cup caster sugar
- Heat oven to 170°C.
- Mix melted butter with crushed biscuits and use to line a 23cm pie plate. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
- In a clean bowl, mix condensed milk with 2 egg yolks, juice and rind of 1 medium lemon
- Pour condensed milk mixture into biscuit lined pie plate
- In a clean bowl beat the 2 egg whites until stiff.
- Slowly add caster sugar beating all the time to make the meringue mixture. I often omitted the caster sugar and just spread the egg white over the lemon filling – a slightly different texture but still works well.
- Spread meringue mixture over lemon filling.
- Bake for about 20 minutes till meringue has set and is lightly browned. If you have omitted caster sugar in the meringue the cooking time will be less – around 15 minutes.
Don’t be intimidated – Bake a White Chocolate Collar Cake for that Special Birthday
This is one of my favourite adult birthday cakes – it looks spectacular and tastes divine. The finished cake does take a bit of time as the collar is fiddly and can be nerve wracking the first time you do it. However, the sense of achievement and admiration is well worth it. The trickiest part is actually the cutting of the cake as it is so delicate – be sure to use a sharp hot knife which you dip into hot water and dry between slices. The cake component actually tastes better if made the day before. I recommend using white chocolate for the collar and decorating with chocolate curls rather than berries as this gives the best results. The collar does not have to be perfect – I think it looks better when it has some raggedy edges.
175g butter, soft
¼ cup cocoa
1½ cups sugar
2 cups self raising flour
¾ cup milk
1t bicarbonate of soda
1t vanilla extract
¾ cup boiling water
750g white, milk or dark chocolate couverture
Optional: Berries to serve
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Butter and flour a 23cm springform tin and line the base with glad bake greaseproof paper.
- Beat all cake ingredients together in a Kenwood mixer for 3-4 minutes.
- Spoon into baking tin and bake on centre shelf of oven for 45 minutes.
- Cool – the cake is even better eaten the next day.
- To make the collar, form a double collar of glad bake greaseproof paper that will fit around the outside of the cake and extend about 4cm above it
- Melt chocolate in the microwave on defrost (white chocolate burns very easily) stirring occasionally.
- Spread a thickness of 4mm of chocolate onto the greaseproof paper that makes up the paper collar. The remainder will be used for the chocolate curls.
- Working quickly while the chocolate is still soft, hold both ends of the paper collar firmly, and wrap the collar with the chocolate against the cake, around the cake.
- Stand or refrigerate 5 minutes until chocolate has set.
- Carefully peel off glad bake greaseproof paper – it really does work.
- Spread remaining chocolate on a piece of glad bake and leave to harden. Reheat a little to soften if necessary.
- With the blade of a knife at a 45° angle and pushing away from you make chocolate curls to decorate the top of the cake
- The cake should be cut with a hot knife.
- Optionally decorate top of cake with mixed berries just before serving.
So Easy, So Good – Mrs G’s Orange Cake
You don’t need guests to make this cake – it’s so easy using the food processor that we have it all the time. Serve sprinkled with icing sugar for everyday or make an orange icing to jazz it up. This will keep for one day. As with all food processor cakes avoid overprocessing to keep cake light.
½ orange with rind, cut into 2 quarters
1 cup caster sugar
250g butter, cubed
2 cups self raising flour
- Heat oven to 180°C.
- Prepare a 23cm diameter cake tin. I usually line with baking paper to eliminate sticking.
- Add 1/4 orange with rind to food processor. Remove rind from second quarter and add flesh to the food processor. Process orange.
- Add caster sugar, butter and eggs, and process till just mixed. Over processing results in a heavy cake.
- Now add self raising flour in 4 batches, BRIEFLY processing in between each addition.
- Pour into prepared 23cm cake tin. Bake at 180°C for 50-60 minutes until skewer comes out clean.
- Sprinkle with icing sugar.
Marble Streusel Coffee Cake has it All
This cake has everything – delicious ingredients like chocolate, nuts and coconut but is not rich, a crunchy textural surprise in the middle, looks good and is incredibly easy to make in the food processor. As with all food processor cakes, the secret is not too overprocess else the cake will taste heavy – follow the instructions carefully. Don’t be put off by the size because the cake also keeps well. However, it is probably a little large unless you have a few guests around to share it.
1½ cups sugar
3 cups flour
1½ cups sour milk (add 4t vinegar or lemon juice to sour milk or use yoghurt)
1½t baking powder
1½t bicarbonate of soda
½ cup desiccated coconut
200g dark chocolate, melted
1 cup walnuts
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup sticky dark brown sugar
- Heat oven to 175°C.
- Using the steel knife in a food processor coarsely chop the nuts with several quick on/off turns. You want them as chopped nuts – not powder.
- Remove half the nuts to use later for the cake batter.
- Add remaining filling ingredients to food processor with the other half of the nuts and process for a few seconds just to mix together. Do Not overprocess. Remove.
- Now make the batter by processing butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla for 2 minutes. It really is 2 minutes.
- Add half the flour and process with 2-3 on/off turns, until nearly blended. DO NOT OVERPROCESS else cake will taste heavy.
- Add sour milk, baking powder and remaining flour. Process with several on/off turns, JUST until blended.
- Add coconut and reserved nuts. Process with 1 or 2 more quick on/off turns.
- Pour half the batter into a greased 26cm diameter Bundt or tube pan.
- Drizzle half melted chocolate over batter and cut through batter with a knife to swirl chocolate through.
- Sprinkle with ¾ of the filling and press down firmly.
- Top with remaining batter and cut through remaining melted chocolate.
- Top with remaining filling and press down firmly. Top filling may burn if not moistened with a little batter. However do not busy as this is a topping that replaces icing and should look attractive.
- Bake for 55-60minutes and cool for 15 minutes before removing cake from tin.
- Enjoy the compliments.