Oh Baby! A cheats lemon curd & vanilla buttercream naked cake

In April we celebrated my sister’s baby shower. It was a surprise, and in hindsight probably not the best decision to surprise a heavily pregnant woman haha but it was such a lovely day of celebration and luckily taken very well but my beautiful sister. If anybody knows me, they know that I love to entertain, from preparing food to decorating I love the whole process, even though at times it can be very stressful. At the time of my sister’s baby shower, I had my son’s 1st birthday that I was preparing for the following month. Luckily my OCD was on overdrive (my poor husband) and I was incredibly organised.

Being time poor, working part-time and looking after a one year old, I had no choice but to be organised. I really had to think about the catering and what would be the easiest treats to make on the day. Being an afternoon tea style event I purchased things like yummy croissants and antipasto goodies, which made things super easy, meaning I could really concentrate on presentation and decoration. As we didn’t know the baby’s gender it was a very neutral affair with a rustic/classic theme. Whilst I had been organised, it’s only natural for a busy mummy to forget something and sure enough I forgot to order a cake and it was too late to order one. So I had to think quick.

I originally planned to order a naked style cake (I already had the cake topper and honestly I’m surprised I remembered to order that! Haha) and I thought surely it can’t be that difficult. The only thing that worried me was the sponge cake and the buttercream icing. I have a fantastic sponge cake recipe but I didn’t want to risk it failing and I had to factor in that if it didn’t work that I would need to allow time to start over. Time – a luxury I didn’t have, so I opted for the safe option and I called upon my good mate Betty Crocker. Best decision. All you need for this recipe is two boxes of her delicious vanilla cake mix and a substitution of regular milk with buttercream milk to give it a richer flavour. I made the sponge along with the lemon curd the day before to ensure I allowed them to properly cool before assembling on the day.

My other worry was buttercream icing. I’d made buttercream in the past and every time I failed, I would somehow always have the ability to split the buttercream. So I did a bit of research. Baking is such a precise art form, there is literally no room for error, so I really feel for people who say they “can’t do desserts”. The simple secret to ensure that your butter cream works every time is that your ingredients need to be at room temperature. Write it down, highlight it and ingrain it in your mind. It’s such an important step and I assure you that you will never fail. So here it is…my cheats lemon curd and vanilla butter cream cake.

Love Wifey xx

 

Cheats Lemon Curd & Vanilla Buttercream Naked Cake

 

Ingredients

Sponge Cake

2 x Boxes of Betty Crocker Vanilla Cake Mix

3 extra large eggs

80g butter, melted

180ml buttercream milk

Lemon Curd (Vitamix Recipe)

5 large eggs

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Zest of 3 lemons

1.5 cups of caster sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 cup of unsalted butter at room temp

Vanilla Buttercream Icing

2 cups unsalted butter at room temp

4 cups confectioners sugar sifted

1/2 cup buttercream milk

2 tbsp vanilla extract

 

Method

  1. Prepare the vanilla sponge cakes according to the package instructions. Instead of cutting the cake in half I divided the batter prior to baking to produce 4 sponge cakes altogether, alternatively you can slice the cakes after baking. Allow the sponge cakes to cool completely and store in an airtight container before assembling if making ahead of time.
  2. To make the lemon curd I used the Vitamix recipe available on their website here, alternatively you could use store bought lemon curd or your own recipe. This recipe can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to a week.
  3. For the buttercream I would make this on the day you are assembling the cake, and if I haven’t stressed this point enough, ensure all your ingredients are kept at room temperature before use. Use a paddle attachment on your electric mixer and beat butter on high until pale ivory in colour and very fluffy. Make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl while beating.
  4. Turn mixer on low, gradually add the sugar whilst combining and scraping the sides.
  5. Slowly drizzle in the milk and vanilla and mix until well combined.
  6. Turn the mixer on high and beat until very fluffy, it should look like whipped cream.
  7. To assemble the cake you will need to ensure that you have 4 sponge cakes in total, lemon curd and butter cream at hand. If your sponge cakes turn out uneven you can even them out by cutting the tops off. Place a generous dollop of lemon curd in the centre of the sponge and pipe ring of buttercream around it.
  8. Place your next sponge cake on top and repeat, until you get to your last sponge for the top. At this point only spread or pipe buttercream on the top of your cake and add your decoration or leave it plain.
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Vive La France: Petit Tarte Tatin

In 2009 when my sister and I travelled to New York for the first time, we treated ourselves to a trip to The London, at the time the restaurant was run by Gordon Ramsay. It was the first fine dining experience I ever had and it was absolutely sensational and we even got a tour of the kitchen! Although a particular highlight of the night I have never forgotten was the dessert. It was a tarte tatin, a simple and super delicious treat. Despite the fact that I had been to France five years prior it was my first time that I had a tarte tatin! Quelle horreur!

Almost immediately after that crispy golden pastry and those caramelised apples touched my lips, I had to get my hands on the recipe. After searching every Gordon Ramsay cookbook I could find, I finally found the delicious treat I had been looking for in Gordon Ramsay’s Three Star Chef Cookbook. The recipe call for ready-made puff pastry but I just use frozen puff pastry sheets and it’s just as good, or if you’re really keen you can make your own.

Last weekend I had some girlfriends over for dinner and whilst I hadn’t even thought about making a dessert, which is very unlike me, I was completely horrified that I wasn’t more organised so I quickly had to think of a dish. I’d made this dessert a billions times before and I had all the ingredients at hand, so to make it a little more challenging I thought I’d try and make mini tarte tatins, and lo and behold the birth of the petit tarte tatin, the perfect mini dessert, for a tea party or event, or because let’s face it, they are just too cute!

Bon appetit!

Love Wifey xx

 

Petit Tarte Tatin

 

Ingredients

50g Butter

50g Caster sugar

4 x Dessert apples (e.g. pink lady) – peeled and cut in quarters or eighths depending on size of the apples

1 x Sheet of frozen puff pastry – thawed

Icing sugar & ice-cream to serve

 

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius and grease a 12-hole muffin tray and set aside.
  2. In a fry pan on a medium heat add the butter and sugar and apples and allow them to caramelise until they are a golden brown colour all over, keep a good eye on it as you do not want it to burn.
  3. Divide the apples evenly in the muffin tin.
  4. Cut circles out of the puff pastry, about the size of your muffin tin holes, making sure they are not cut too small. Keep in mind that the pastry will shrink when it is baked. Prick the pastry circles with a fork.
  5. Place the pastry over the caramelised apples and immediately bake in the oven for around 15-20mins or until the pastry is golden brown and crispy.
  6. Carefully twist each tarte, they should not feel stuck to the pan, but should rotate freely. Turn the them over and dust with icing sugar and serve with some ice-cream.

Makes approx 10-12

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My sister & I patiently waiting for our delicious tarte tatin @ “The London” – New York City 2009

People of the World, Spice up your Oats!

To be honest I’ve never really been a fan of oats, I find them bland and tasteless, requiring copious amounts of honey to taste, and whilst they are not the first thing I would pick off a breakfast menu, every so often (when the weather starts to cool down) I don’t mind having a generous bowl of oats.

Now you’re probably like “Does this chick even know how to cook anything other than breakfast?” and the answer is I do, however breakfast just happens to be one of my favourite meals of the day and I really want to share every one of my delicious breakfast creations with you. For some reason I find all my most exciting creations come to me in the morning and that’s probably why I have a whole note book full of recipes appropriate for breakfast or brunch. But I promise that after this post I will endeavour to mix things up a bit! In the mean time, enjoy my two way version of oats perfect for those cool Autumn mornings.

Love Wifey xx

 

Oats with Yoghurt & Grilled Peaches 

Ingredients

1 Peach cut in half and sliced

1 Cinnamon sticks

2 Star anise

1 Vanilla bean split and seeds scraped

1 Tsp Stevia (granules)

Ground Cinnamon

Greek yoghurt

2 Cups Almond milk

1 Cup Rolled oats (also works well with quinoa flakes)

Walnuts

Butter

 

Method

  1. In a saucepan combine the oats, almond milk, seeds from the vanilla pod and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon and mix over a medium heat until your oats are cooked to the desired consistency.
  2. Whilst your oats are cooking, in a fry pan on a medium heat add a knob of butter and place the sliced peaches, stevia, cinnamon stick, star anise and the left over vanilla pod and fry until your peaches have caramelised and are fragrant.
  3. Place your oats in a bowl, top with a dollop of greek yoghurt, delicious peaches and some walnuts.

Oats with Spiced Plums

Ingredients

1 Plum cut in half and sliced

1 Cinnamon stick

2 Star anise

3 Cloves

1 Vanilla bean split and seeds scraped

1 Tsp Stevia (granules)

2 Cups Almond milk

1 Cup Rolled oats (also works well with quinoa flakes)

Butter

 

Method

  1. In a saucepan combine the oats, almond milk, seeds from the vanilla pod and mix over a medium heat until your oats are cooked to the desired consistency.
  2. Whilst your oats are cooking, in a fry pan on a medium heat add a knob of butter and place the sliced peaches, stevia, cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves and the left over vanilla pod and fry until your plums have caramelised and are fragrant.
  3. Place your oats in a bowl and top with your yummy spiced plums!

A Very Indulgent Easter: Nutella Tsoureki French Toast

Happy Easter Friends! I can hardly believe Easter is already here, I was just getting over the over indulgence during the Christmas period and now it has started all over again! This year I was fortunate enough to join in the Greek tradition of making tsoureki (sweet Easter bread) and koulouraki (Easter biscuits) in the lead up to Easter with my sister in-law. Last year I made my first tsoureki bread with a twist making nutella filled tsoureki muffins which turned out great, but this year I went traditional with the help of Yia Yia and her special recipe, where experience is everything and measurements are well…pretty much non existent. A recipe of this stature deserves to be treated with love and respect and despite feeling daunted at the prospect of attempting a mother of a recipe, my sister-in-law and I rounded up our determination to make it work. And I can proudly say after 10 hours and 18 Tsoureki later, we were a success! Kudos to us!

Last Easter as every other, we end up with so much tsoureki we don’t know what to do with it, so I decided to make some french toast using our left over tsoureki and I haven’t looked back. The beginning of our own little Easter tradition. I still haven’t figured out what to do with all the left over Easter eggs but I’m sure that I will get to that soon enough! In the meantime however enjoy this yummy and indulgent french toast recipe, perhaps you can start a new feasting tradition with your family!

 

Happy Easter!

Love Wifey xx

 

Nutella Tsoureki French Toast

Ingredients

1 loaf of Tsoureki or Brioche

Nutella

3 Eggs

Dash of milk

Pinch of salt

Roughly chopped hazelnuts

Olive oil for frying

 

Method

  1. Slice the tsoureki loaf in approximately 1cm thick slices. Sandwich two slices of tsoureki together with nutella until you have used up the whole loaf.
  2. Whisk eggs with a dash of milk and pinch of salt.
  3. Dip all the tsoureki sandwiches into the egg mixture and coat well.
  4. In a frypan place some oil and on a medium heat fry the tsoureki sandwiches until all sides are golden brown.
  5. Serve the tsoureki french toast with a dollop of nutella and some roughly chopped hazelnuts.

 

Note: Tsoureki is available at most Greek delicatessens during easter time, if you don’t have any a brioche type bread or even panettone will do. You can also add bananas or berries to your nutella filling if you like, or just omit the nutella completely! The possibilities are endless!

Honeymoon Acai Bowl

Since our honeymoon in Hawaii, my husband and I have been eager to recreate the infamous acai (pronounced “ah-sah-EE”) bowl that’s been popping up on trendy breakfast menus around Melbourne. Many versions of the acai bowl I have tried have been too sweet and it’s taken me a while to get this recipe right.

The once humble, but absolutely delicious acai berry originates from Central and South America. Some studies have shown that the berry has a higher concentration of antioxidants when compared with other berries, therefore making it’s claim to superfood stardom, but I should note that the research on the health benefits of the acai berry is limited and a variety of fruits and vegetables found at your local green grocer are just as effective and more economical.

An acai bowl addiction can become an expensive one (approximately $9.50 per 400g of frozen puree packs), so it’s not something we would make every morning for breakfast. Having said that, it is a wonderful weekend treat that we love to reminisce over.

A hui hou – Until we meet again.

 

Love Wifey xx

 

Honeymoon Acai Bowl

 

Ingredients

2 x 100g Acai berry frozen puree packs (I use Amazonia, they are usually found in the frozen section of gourmet food stores and health food stores)

100ml Almond milk or Soy milk

1 handful of frozen berries (I love to use raspberries and blackberries)

1 frozen banana (or fresh – my husband likes it this way)

Fruit (I like to use sliced banana, strawberries or kiwi fruit)

Muesli (I prefer to make my own with seeds and nuts and low in sugar)

Shredded coconut

Flaked almonds

 

Method (Serves 2)

  1. Add the milk, banana, frozen berries and acai packs to your blender and blend until you get a thick consistency.
  2. Divide the mixture into bowls and top with muesli, shredded coconut, flaked almonds and fruit.
  3. Sit back, hang loose and enjoy the flavours of Hawaii!

Reflection: A journey to find my voice

Two thousand and sixteen has been a difficult one for me, both emotionally and physically.  Whilst becoming a Mother has been one of my finest achievements this year (and probably in my lifetime) it’s also been one massive learning experience. I’ve been forced to see habits in myself that I have refused to acknowledge and with the only solution being to face them head on. Adjusting my habits to help me form new ones and thus leading to a clearer perspective, a neutral mind and peace within myself.

I’ve always been the type of person to stuff my thoughts and feelings in a box deep within hoping they’ll magically stay there. Unfortunately there are only so many things you can stuff in a box, or under the carpet so to say. They will resurface, and when they do it’s not just a trickle of thoughts or emotions, it’s everything at once. Every little bit comes bursting out in an uncontrollable explosion.

In social situations I’ve always been quite reserved, I’ve never truly spoken out about how I’ve really felt (unless you know me well enough). Sure, in a work situation (typical gemini!) I have always had the confidence, but on a personal level I haven’t, especially with people with overpowering personalities. I’ve always allowed other people’s opinions and thoughts to overshadow my own. I would often not speak my truth, I’d go along with everyone else, worrying that if I didn’t, I would offend (the last thing I would ever want to do) or alter peoples perception of me.

And on the off chance I would find the courage (and that’s rare) I’d be left with the panging feeling of guilt that I may have just hurt someone. It wasn’t just an emotional feeling, it was physical, right in the heart. So rather than working up the courage and then having this debilitating feeling of guilt, I’d rather just leave myself feeling small in those situations and allowing feelings of anger to set in for not speaking out.

Call it hormones or the intense #tigermama instinct, soon after my sons birth I began to realise that it wasn’t just me anymore. I wasn’t speaking for myself, there was another human being here who I was responsible for. If I wasn’t able to speak for him who would? And there it was staring at me right in the face. The guilt. For all these years I was suppressing that exact emotion. My habit of never speaking out just wasn’t working anymore. The only solution that I could see was to dig deep, find the courage and speak. Speaking from the heart…gracefully and truthfully.

I needed to cut the guilt. It had to stop.

Breaking a habit is hard but I’m determined it can be done. People break habits all the time, and it doesn’t happen in a day, it may not even happen in a year, but one just has to start these things and here I am at the end of a year with a long road ahead of me that I know isn’t going to be easy. But it’s all a process right? and I’m starting off small. I guess it makes it easier to break a habit if it’s for someone you love. My motivation is my son, I want to show him that our strength comes from within, it’s the fire in our belly, the compassion in our heart and our ability to speak the truth that we should never be afraid of. As much as I am doing this for him, I am doing this for me too. It blows my mind that we as adults can learn so much from our children.

Thank you 2016 for opening my eyes to my old habits and showing me that I have courage and the voice to go with it. I’m looking forward to many more life lessons I will come across in 2017.

Have a blessed New Year my friends.

Love Wifey xx

A Summery Christmas: Nectarine, Rocket & Prosciutto Salad

With the beautiful summer weather (about time Melbourne!) and the festive season upon us, it was time to bring out my summery Christmas salad to get us into the spirit!

Festive in colour and the perfect dinner for those balmy nights or refreshing side dish for the Christmas table, it’s definitely one of my go to recipes of the season! Enjoy!

Love Wifey xx
Nectarine, Rocket & Prosciutto Salad

Ingredients

2 Nectarines chopped into sticks

100g Proscuitto roughly torn in bits

1 Red capsicum chopped in chunks

1 Punnet cherry tomatoes halved

4 Large handfuls of rocket

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

Method

1. Wash and prepare ingredients and combine in a large bowl with a good glug of olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.