Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Coffee Fruit Cake

Shall I be controversial and say lots of people don't like fruit cake? I'm not even sure I do, but this one will change your mind.  No, really.  It has coffee; it has chocolate; it has fruit and somehow it all comes together in a moist, fruity, chocolatey bite. And even better, it is so very quick and easy to make and bake. You could even put it together for an afternoon tea if you had a few hours notice.

moist, chocolatey, fruity cake 


1 kg. dried fruit - your choice; I used about 400g. of sultanas, 200g. currants, 200g. sour cherries and craisins, and 200g. prunes

2 cups (500mL) strong espresso coffee, freshly made and still hot 

3 eggs

3/4 cup (159g.) dark brown sugar 

150g. of 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped

2 cups (264g.) self-raising flour


Place the fruit in a large mixing bowl

Make up the coffee and pour it over the fruit

Allow to steep for at least one hour; even overnight is fine

Butter and line the base and sides of a 20cm X 20cm cake tin - mine is about 8 cm deep

Beat the eggs and sugar in a small bowl with a fork until combined

Add this mix to the large bowl, along with the chopped chocolate and the flour

Give it a good stir till well mixed

Bake in a 180C oven for about 1 hour; test with a skewer in the centre to see if it comes out clean.  If so, you know it's done; otherwise, keep checking it every 5 mins. till done

Then leave it to cool for 10 minutes in the tin; I accidentally left mine in the tin for about an hour and it was fine

Turn out onto a wire rack till cold

Wrap very well in baking paper and alfoil, and store in the fridge in a plastic container


This is a recipe by Alison Alexander, a well-known Brisbane food consultant.  She devised this delicious cake for a coffee roasting house here

I soaked my fruit for about 4.5 hours and it was perfectly plump and moist

Alison suggests a 20cm X 28cm tin but I found my square tin worked perfectly, though it did need a few more minutes baking

coffee-soaked fruit and some of the other ingredients   

eggs and brown sugar forked together, plus chopped chocolate 

everything mixed in well

butter and line the tin with baking paper; give it a bit of a collar  

ready to bake for an hour in a 180C oven

 and cooked! not burnt, just the fruit looking a bit brown :=) 

Santa guarding his slice

I think you would agree this is an easy cake to put together, and makes you look like a champ.  I'm sure your family and friends will think you slaved over it for hours.

my plunger doodle

Thursday, 1 December 2016

In My Kitchen - December 2016

What do I have in my kitchen this month?  Not much folks, not much.  I have been running around like a headless chook, without much to show for it.  I bet you all feel the same with the Christmas rush kind of knocking us over and hauling us along with the tide.

But there's always something new, so let me show you a few things that have come into my kitchen recently:

another gorgeous (Safu) tumbler from Magnolia Mountain  

I keep buying the amazing and beautiful work from Magnolia Mountain.  You basically have to be on their mailing list to get any of their items as they sell out immediately!

and of course, I bought a copy of our lovely host's book 

I am really looking forward to reading it.  Hubby and I travelled to Hungary some years ago in our younger days and really loved it. The food was wonderfully cheap, and the public transport in Budapest was fabulous.  So I can't wait to read about Liz's Hungarian family.

addictive salted caramel popcorn  

The lovely Marisia makes addictive fudge and popcorn, and sells it at local markets, as well as being a hairdresser and a mum!  You can find her around the Brisbane markets here and there.

home made breadcrumbs

Well, sort of home made.  I didn't make the bread, but I had some wholemeal bread that needed using so I zapped these to put in the freezer for later.  So satisfying isn't it?

my homemade tiramisu plus my new knife!  

I made a big batch of tiramisu to take to a friend's dinner.  I added loads of Frangelico and Kahlua; no point in making it otherwise. The knife is an el cheapo from Big W, but it is fabulous my dears. The air pockets actually work, and food just slides off the knife when you cut it.  Who needs to rob a bank first to get a decent knife?  Not me.

I had my morning iced coffee in my glow-in-the-dark martini glass - why not? 

our mate Mel's cooking school (Vanilla Zulu) is inside this mag.   

had to buy some mace for gingerbread 

weird isn't it?

The mace looks like dried seaweed to me.  Weird stuff, but smells great. You probably know it is derived from the waxy, red covering of nutmeg seeds, which are enclosed by the covering and are inside the nutmeg fruits.  It always amazes me what people think of using as food.  I mean, who looked at that and thought - "yep, looks great to eat". But thank goodness they did.

and then I whizzed it in the coffee/spice grinder 

and decanted it into a tiny jar with a paper funnel made by Mr P.   

and here it is ready for baking duties 

Everybody is welcome to show off their kitchen goodies on Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things blog.  Get your post up by the 10th of the month, and let Liz know you want to join in the fun.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Tweed Regional Art Gallery Dinner

Art galleries are like cathedrals to me.  I feel at peace, and at one with the world.  And naturally, since we love the Tweed region, we head down to the gallery there every few months.  Recently, we drove down for a dinner with Meg Stewart the writer, who gave a talk on Margaret Olley the painter.  Meg is the author of a biography of Margaret, whom she met up with regularly while writing the book. It was a fabulous night, and well worth the long drive there and back on a Saturday night.

cane sugar burning off in the fields

You drive through lots of sugar cane fields on the way, and they were doing the burning off in some of the fields that day.  As you drive past the sugar mill, you can see the clear white smoke coming out of the stacks, and smell the odd sweet scent of it.  

the smoke is actually pure white; and mostly steam 

Meg about to give her speech  

And there was dinner!  Delicious food prepared by a local restaurant - Mavis' Kitchen who also run the cafĂ© attached to the Gallery.  

we had beef

Everyone at our table had pre-ordered the fish dish so we both had beef.  There were a number of lovely ladies at our table, one of them a Gallery guide, another Margaret.

the gorgeous Margaret, one of the Gallery guides 

an ever so pretty tiramisu   

and a pavlova nest


hubby and the lovely Ingrid who is the curator of the Margaret Olley Centre  

The Gallery really is a must if you are ever in the area.  It is such a beautiful region of Australia.  I know I have mentioned this place a few times but I am just so enamoured of it.  I'm sure anyone who visits would also love it.   

looking out to the hinterland from the Gallery   

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Nordic-Style Chocolate Potato Cake

I think the Nordic food rage is still raging, so I have tried another recipe from The New Nordic by Simon Bajada.  This one is a chocolate and potato cake; unlike my fave Belinda Jeffery version which only has 60g. of raw, grated potato, this one has 400g. of cooked and mashed veg.  Phew!  Talk about interesting. 

I have long been a fan of vegetables in cakes; witness my attempt at a choc/zucchini cake when I was a poor student living in a share house.  I didn't have a car, and the shops were not close, so I "borrowed" a cup of extra virgin olive oil from a house mate. Little did I know how expensive it was (for a poor student like him-or me), and how far he had ridden on his push-bike to get it.  Ooooh, he was not a happy camper.

Serves 6-8:


400g. of potatoes, unpeeled

2 very large eggs (I used 66g. eggs - jumbo)

70g. caster sugar

1 tsp baking powder

100g. butter, softened plus extra for greasing the cake tin

4 tbs good quality bitter cocoa powder

25g. breadcrumbs for the cake tin - I zapped some wholemeal bread

2 tbs icing sugar to decorate

200 mls whipping cream to decorate


Boil or steam the potatoes till tender (10-15 mins), then cool slightly, peel and mash, and put in the fridge to cool!

Place the eggs, caster sugar, baking powder and butter in a large mixing bowl

Whisk for 5 minutes - I used a whisk but you could try electric handbeaters I reckon

Add the cocoa powder and whisk for another minute

Now add the mashed potato and fold in very gently just till the potato disappears into the batter - careful not to overmix or it will get gluggy

Grease a 20 cm tin with butter then tip the breadcrumbs around, and discard the excess

Spoon the thick batter into the tin, and smooth over

Bake at 150C for 35 minutes till a skewer comes out of the middle clean

Let it sit for 10 mins. in the tin to cool

Serve with icing sugar and lots of whipped cream


Use a ricer to mash the potatoes if possible; you need this to be very smooth and lump-free

I would suggest adding more sugar than Simon says; perhaps 100-120g. rather than 70g.

Simon says to use unsalted butter but I like the saltiness it gives to the cake

Don't worry if the batter looks curdled after whisking; once the cocoa goes on, it comes together

I found the breadcrumbs gave the cake a slightly odd taste and texture; perhaps use almond meal or just flour after greasing

throw any leftover breadcrumbs in the freezer for next time

ingredients gathered

peel the cooked potatoes

whisk the ingredients together sans cocoa 

mash about to go into the chocolatey batter  

thick and gloopy batter but that's okay  

ready for baking @ 150C for 35 mins.  

I threw some chocolate over the top as well as spreading Macabella paste under the cream     

To be brutally honest, I would not make this cake again.  Not without a lot of tweaks. Our guests - I will call them The Dudes Family - said it was "not bad".  The birthday dude said it needed heaps more sugar.  To me, it tasted like potatoey chocolate.  Mr P. said it was okay, and he couldn't taste the veg. part.  I think it needs less potato, more sugar and lots of chocolate ganache dripping over the side.  I did spread some Macabella over the top to add a more chocolate/sweet taste under that thick layer of cream.

This is not a bad cake; it just isn't a great cake and I wonder if the author had actually done much taste testing.  I think it is meant to be a bit savoury and a bit unusual; he says it is in the Nordic style rather than a true Nordic recipe.  Give it a go and see what you think.:=) 

my baby potato doodle  

Friday, 18 November 2016

A - Z Guidebook - Piazza Navona, Rome

statues showing their rudey nudey bits off

This is Bernini's fountain in the Piazza Navona in Rome.  No qualms about showing off their manly bits here.  We spent a few days wandering around Rome some years ago, on our way to London.  We were amazed and confused and delighted by it all.  

We had a guidebook - well, actually pages of a guidebook that I had photocopied - which seemed to give the most irksome and ludicrous directions and instructions about seeing Rome.  For instance, we caught a bus to a church with a crypt to see the bodies, only to find that it was via the longest, most laborious, most labyrinthine route you can imagine.  There was in fact a main road with heaps of buses going back into town so we just hopped on one of those and got back way faster than the trip out.  

Every trip we took, every place we went ended with us walking for hours and/or taking lengthy bus and train trips.  I think it was Fodor's Guide, heaven help us.  I will never know if some crazy student/traveller was doing their research from the comfort of their own home or making it all up.  Anyway, we got to see lots of Rome that we probably wouldn't have otherwise.

Join up, join up global bloggers/travellers with Fiona from Tiffin Bite Sized Food Adventures, and show us your stuff.  This month we are getting stuck into the letter R.

TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -