oranges coming out of my ears

The week before last, I made an error in my grocery order. I do the bulk of my grocery shopping online and sometime I misread the specified quantity. This particular time, I accidentally ordered 2kg of oranges instead of 2 oranges!

We ate many, many oranges over the past week or so, but I soon realised we were not going to get through all of them before they started to go bad. I acted swiftly, and was able to find ample delicious cake recipes to use them up.

Hazelnut and orange olive oil cake

I love nutty cakes, and since I had some left-over hazelnut meal, I chose this as my first recipe. The original recipe called for orange flavoured liqueur, but I opted for orange juice instead. This also used up the rest of the orange used for the zest in this cake!

making hazelnut and orange olive oil cake

I decided to make cupcakes instead of a whole cake because I though it would be easier for distribution and sharing at playgroup and the office. Instead of cooking them for 45 minutes, I took them out after 20 minutes.

hazelnut and orange olive oil cupcakes

Orange pistachio cake

I stuck with the recipe for this one – it sounded so delicious with the pistachios, mint and orange flower water! While a little more fuss than I usually like, the boiled and pulped orange gives it such a lovely orangey flavour and is ever so moist. Also a gluten-free one!

making orange pistachio cupcakes

Again I went with cupcakes for these, and I cooked them for 35 minutes on a slightly lower temperature because they seemed to be browning a little too quickly.

pistachio orange cupcakes with orange flower water syrup

With the orange flower water syrup drizzled over them, they look so glossy and delicious – and they are.

Finally, I had a little bit of syrup left after all my cupcakes were soaked, so instead of eating it all off the spoon (which very nearly happened) I poured it into mini cupcake cases and popped them back into the oven for another 20 minutes of so and made some toffee. Yum!

orange flower water toffees made from left over syrup - very sticky but very delicious

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baking and being

Today is my birthday. I’m thirty six and just realised just how quickly the last 6 years have gone! Six years ago I celebrated my birthday expecting my first child. I was blissfully unaware of the magnitude of the changes this child would enforce on me. And yet, I cannot imagine my life had these changes not occurred.

It’s been an extremely busy couple of weeks. Still getting into the swing of doing the whole school thing, I now feel a little more relaxed about it all and not so frightened of forgetting to pack lunch or return notes on time. Scarlett has settled in to OOSH a little better, and Xavier has stopped crying when I leave him at preschool, instead adopting an awkward little sad wave goodbye. Lots of cuddles resolve any ill feelings at night.

I have been insanely busy at work lately, which I have come to realise has made me a little on edge at home, but I am trying to be conscious of it and keep things in perspective. Even though at times I feel that I am not achieving anything much, I am lucky enough to have a boss who reassures me that I am, and appreciates my efforts.

After an extremely long week (having attending a music festival and two gigs), I am just grateful to stay home today (in my pyjamas) and do the things that make me happy. Presents in bed, breakfast made by someone else, lounging around and baking. Today I have made good use of some bananas that were going bad…

banana bread with coconut

And have also made some delicious Crunchy Lola Cookies

delightful crunchy Lola cookies

But what I am enjoying right now, is listening two my delightful children playing ‘schools’ downstairs. Scarlett, being so excited about learning new things at school, has decided to start her own letter lessons for toddlers such as her brother. I wonder if she will become a teacher one day?

excited to be writing her own words, each family member was asked what they like doings this evening

apple and date chews

So the second snack item I made this weekend was something that sounded delicious to me. I should have known it would not be to Scarlett’s taste. Oh well, more for me and hubby!

apple and date chews

Apple and date chews

  • 400g apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup dates, chopped
  • 1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius. Grease and line a slice tin.

Mix all ingredients together until well combined. Spread into tin.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Cool in tin, then cut into fingers before turning out.

I got 24 small bite sized pieces from this batch. Scarlett had one nibble and placed the remained of her piece back on the chopping board. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

afghan biscuits

I’ve been trying to make some sort of slice or snack for school lunches each weekend so there is something home-made in Scarlett’s lunch box. This trend will probably wane as the term moves on, but for now, I’ve got a heap of recipes to try. Here is one I made today and it has the thumbs up from Scarlett. Xavier is yet to try one.

afghan biscuits

Afghan biscuits

  • 190g softened butter
  • 1/3 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups of wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 3/4 cups cornflakes

Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius. Lightly grease baking trays.

Cream butter and sugar, then add sifted (or unsifted if you are lazy like me) flour and cocoa. Carefully fold in the cornflakes a little at a time.

Drop spoonfuls of mixture onto the trays and bake for 12-15 minutes.

When completed cooled, ice with chocolate ganache icing if so desired. I thought in this case it was best to leave them be.

Easy. And yummy. They in your mouth like buttery shortbread. I got 26 biscuits out of this batch.

christmas baking

Today I spent the day baking with my mum. For as long as I can remember, my mum has made the most delicious biscuits each christmas. There is her famous almond bread, hazelnut logs, almond crescents and pistachio pears.

As my sisters an I got older, we started to pitch in and began helping out each year. For several years now though, both my sisters have been living in another state, so it’s just mum and I. This year it was I who approached mum to get the day organised.

There is something very special about baking with a mission. Not just baking one cake or a batch of cookies, but to tackle the sum of baked goods we plan each year requires organisation and hard work. For six straight hours we each moved from one task to the next. Grinding, beating, mixing, moulding, baking, dusting, drizzling. Today we barely stopped to eat lunch or have a cup of tea.

The results were worth it.

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Aside from the copious amounts of baked goods I returned home with today, I also left with a great feeling. Mum and I had spent the whole day working, but also chatting and just being together which has been a rare thing this year. We talked about kids, work, health, religion, education, discipline and being women. I’ve suggested we do it more often. We have a lot to talk about.

baking with lemons

I love baking, so whenever the opportunity presents itself I can’t resist. I recently received some home grown lemons from my dad’s tree, and not wanting to waster them, I went in search of something sweet to use them in.

I found a delicious (gluten and dairy free) Lemon Meringue Pie recipe, but lacked the occasion for it. Plus, I knew the kids would not appreciate the effort it required. This morning Xavier showed some interest in helping, so I found this simple Orange Poppyseed Cake recipe and substituted orange with lemon.

We added a delicious simple lemon icing (icing sugar and lemon juice) and voilà. Delicious.

 

mandarin season

I love mandarins – they are one of the best things about winter. A friend of mine has an enormous mandarin tree in her backyard, so she tries to give as many of them as possible away when people visit. That way,  she won’t have to continually clean up rotten ones from the lawn!

I recently gratefully receive my second batch of mandarins but was a little less excited than the first time. The kids wouldn’t eat them. These ‘organic’ mandarins are not uniform in size or colour, and they have seeds! I knew I could not eat 4 bags of mandarins myself before they went bad, so I went in search of recipes.

I love cake, so this whole mandarin and pistachio cake really appealed to me, but 2 large mandarins wasn’t going to cut it. I’d would have to make ten cakes! So I went looking for marmalade. I found this mandarin marmalade recipe on a table for two (which I only just realised was the ex-masterchef guy Billy Law’s blog). The recipe was a little beyond the effort I usually put in, but I liked the idea that I could use only what I already had in the house – no need to go and buy special setting sugar or anything like that.

After many hours of peeling, seeding, chopping and cooking, I finally made my first ever marmalade (or any jam for that matter). I am so please with the result. I’m going to give some to my dad for Father’s Day tomorrow and keep the rest for myself.

I may just have to pay another visit to my friend’s house before mandarin season is over…