I love desserts – that much is common knowledge around here. But I especially love desserts that have evocative and descriptive names, that really make you feel something. Red Velvet. Persian Love Cake. Black Forest. Bombe Alaska. Lemon Delicious. Even Cherry Pie – the most literal name ever, but just hearing the words paint pictures of old school Americana and brings back memories of summer.
Lemon Delicious has long been one of my favourite winter desserts. I say it’s a winter dessert because it’s a warming and comforting pudding, but the flavour is bright and happy, zingy with citrus. It’s a little old fashioned, a lot nostalgic, and the perfect comfort food for cold nights.
Even though the process is a little different, Lemon Delicious reminds me of a self-saucing pudding, because it goes into the oven as one batter, but as it bakes, two distinct layers form. On the bottom there is a lemony sauce and on the top there is a sponge-like cake. Traditional self-saucing puddings are usually chocolate or sometimes even butterscotch flavour. A Lemon Delicious is all about citrus – using the zest and juice for maximum lemoniness.
This time I decided to give it a little twist – a tablespoon of ground French Earl Grey tea in the mix. I already know it goes perfectly with lemon, so I had high hopes for this dessert and it didn’t disappoint. While the main flavour was definitely citrus, the Earl Grey gave a nice subtle, floral undertone that worked perfectly. If you want a stronger flavour, just add more ground tea.
French Earl Grey is one of my favourite ingredients to add to desserts. You can infuse it into ice cream or use it ground in chocolate chip cookies. I’ve also used the brewed tea in a rich chocolate cake or to soak dried fruit for a Christmas pudding. It might not spring to mind as an ingredient, but it’s very versatile in desserts.
I love T2 loose leaf French Earl Grey – both for baking and drinking – but feel free to use your favourite. I’ve got so many kinds of different teas, but French Earl Grey is one of my very favourites. I re-buy it over and over and panic a little if I’m running low. The floral hint of sunflower, rose and hibiscus is lovely with the black tea and classic bergamot.
Lemon Delicious is really easy to make – most of the ingredients are just whisked together all in the one bowl, with the egg whites being folded in last. The trick to getting a lovely lemon sauce is not to overcook it. The top of your pudding should be golden but a little wobbly due to the sauce underneath.
This pudding is cooked in a water bath, so make sure your baking dish will sit nicely inside a larger dish or tray before you start. You can make this recipe in one large enamel or ceramic dish to share or in individual 1 cup ramekins. Adjust the baking time a little depending on how large your pudding is. Start with 20 minutes and keep checking the oven every 10 minutes. I love to serve any kind of warm dessert with ice cream, but you could also use whipped or clotted cream, your choice of fresh fruit and definitely a good dusting of icing sugar. Happy baking!
French Earl Grey Lemon Delicious Pudding is a delicious and comforting winter dessert, bright with citrus flavour and floral tea.
Keyword Autumn, Dessert, Pudding
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
150 g butter, melted
2 teaspoons lemon rind, finely grated
½ cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
¾ cup self raising flour
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon French Earl Grey Tea, ground
4 eggs, separated
Icing sugarice cream and raspberries, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease an oven proof dish (I used two enamel dishes but I’ve also made this in 6 x 1 cup ramekins).
Place butter, lemon rind, lemon juice, sugar, flour, milk, ground tea and egg yolks in a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
In a separate small bowl, beat egg whites using an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold a quarter of the egg white in to the lemon mixture until combined. Gently fold in remaining egg white.
Spoon mixture into prepared dishes. Place dishes in a large baking tray and pour boiling water carefully into the baking dish until halfway up the sides of the smaller dish. (I open the oven, put the baking tray onto the oven rack and then pour the boiling water in to avoid having to carry a heavy tray filled with hot water).
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and just set. Serve warm with cream or ice cream, raspberries and a dusting of icing sugar.
I am calling it now – June is the month of soup! Comfort food is all I want to eat now that the temperatures have dropped and winter is truly here. Steaming bowls of Pho from my favourite Vietnamese place. Chicken Noodle Soup to soothe my never-ending cold (three weeks and counting). And thick and comforting Roasted Pumpkin and Carrot Soup that feels like a warm hug.
If you can’t tell by now, I’m not generally a winter person – Sydney doesn’t even get that cold. Your girl has never even seen snow! My hands and feet are always freezing and it gives me a little pang of sadness to see the sun set before 5pm. But cold nights are always improved with a big bowl of soup.
I’ve made a variation on this soup probably a dozen times in the last few years. Sometimes I will use sweet potato and carrot instead of pumpkin. Or a combination of all three! Roasting the vegetables gives the soup a lovely complex flavour. You don’t even have to peel the veggies! When the pumpkin is cooked, you can just scoop it out of the skin. It’s definitely worth roasting if you have the time, but if you need dinner in 15 minutes flat, then just let your Instant Pot or pressure cooker do all the work. Soup comes together soooo easily, and is even quicker than Uber Eats!
Pumpkin and carrot are high in beta-carotene, which gives them their orange colour. Your body turns this into Vitamin A, which helps your immune system. I’ve already had 2 pretty bad colds this year and the winter season has barely begun. Sounds like I need another bowl of soup!
This time my secret ingredient was a whole clove of garlic, roasted with my veggies. I wrap it up in foil with a little drizzle of olive oil and magic things happen as it cooks. The flavour gets super sweet and more-ish. In the past, to get the level of sweetness I wanted, I have added some honey or maple syrup but this gave me flavour and sweetness all in one ingredient!
Garlic was one of the first vegetables to be used as medicine and it is amazing for your cardiovascular system and immune system. I think trying to keep your immune system strong in winter is one of the best things you can do.
My Pumpkin and Carrot Soup is gluten free, dairy free and vegan if you use vegetable stock. It’s so hearty, satisfying and healthy, but can still meet everyone’s dietary needs. You could even replace 1 cup of stock with coconut milk if you want it even more creamy. The flavours would be so delicious together.
I used a homemade chicken stock in my soup. It’s such a handy staple to have in the freezer and it uses up leftover bones and veggies that would otherwise be thrown out. Leave me a comment below if you’d like to see a post about how to make stock from scratch!
Since I already had the oven on to roast my vegetables, I decided to make a batch of crispy spiced chickpeas to scatter over the top of my soup. I often make them to eat as a snack or to go into a warm salad. This was the first time I had tried them with a soup but it won’t be the last. I love that they add a crunchy texture and lovely flavour. The spices I used on the chickpeas mirrored the spices in the soup so they were perfect together. You could also add a swirl of pesto or coconut milk to the the soup when you serve it.
If you make this Pumpkin and Carrot Soup or any of my other recipes please be sure to leave a comment, give them a rating and tag me on Instagram! I absolutely love seeing photos when you guys make my recipes!! I look forward to making many more soups as winter goes on (and on and on…)
Pumpkin and Carrot Soup with Roasted Chickpeas
Cold nights are always made better with soup! My Pumpkin and Carrot Soup with Roasted Chickpeas is comforting and healthy (gluten free, dairy free and can be made vegan).
Course Dinner, Soup
Keyword Simple Dinners, Soup, Winter
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
1 400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sumac
2 kg butternut pumpkin (squash), seeds removed and chopped into large pieces
6 carrots, halved lengthways
Salt and pepper
1 head garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil, extra
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock (homemade if possible)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sumac
Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F) and line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper. On the first tray, spread out the chickpeas. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus some salt and pepper, the garam masala, cumin and sumac. Massage with your hands to ensure all the chickpeas are coated in the oil and spices.
On the other tray, place the pumpkin and carrots. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and thyme.
Take a piece of aluminium foil and place a head of garlic in the center. Drizzle with the extra 2 tablespoons of olive oil and wrap up to enclose. Place onto the tray with the pumpkin and carrots and put both trays in the oven.
Roast for 30 minutes and then remove the tray with the pumpkin and carrots. Leave the chickpeas in the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes.
Scoop the flesh out of the pumpkin if you like – it will be really easy to do this once it’s cooked. Unwrap the roasted garlic and squeeze the cloves out of the skins. Place the roasted carrots, pumpkin and garlic into an Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Add the stock, garam masala, cumin and sumac. Cook on the Soup setting for 10 minutes.
Remove the chickpeas from the oven and set aside.
Release the pressure on the Instant Pot. Transfer to another heatproof bowl. Use a stick blender to blend the soup until completely smooth and season to taste. Serve hot in bowls, topped with roasted chickpeas and fresh thyme.
One of the weirder pieces of health advice I’ve ever been given is Chew your smoothies. At first I was like “Huh? Smoothies are for sipping!” but when I read up on the reason why, it started to make sense. A smoothie is like a nutrient rich meal with carbs, protein and fat. Because they are blended into a liquid, your body treats it like a drink rather than a combination of foods. When your digestive system is confused, it can lead to bad digestion and poor absorption of nutrients.
And isn’t that the whole point of drinking a smoothie – to get in lots of nutrients in one convenient mouthful?! Chewing initiates digestion and in turn releases saliva and pre-digestive enzymes. This tells the rest of your digestive tract that food is on the way and to get ready to break it down. On busy days, I add some chia seeds or a small handful of homemade granola on top of my smoothie as a reminder to chew them.
When I do have the time to sit down and enjoy breakfast, I love to make a smoothie bowl with lots of delicious toppings. It makes me happy to spend a few minutes decorating it beautifully, even if I’m not Instagramming it! Eating slowly and mindfully is another way to help our digestion. I’ve made hundreds of smoothies over the years, but you guys, this one might just be my favourite. This smoothie bowl is inspired by my all-time favourite winter dessert – Sticky Date Pudding.
I’ve been obsessed about trying to create the perfect healthy version of a Sticky Date pudding and a smoothie bowl seemed like a great idea. I wanted the flavour of dates to be prominent, but also the flavour of caramel to shine through.
Dates are a super food in their own right. Medjool dates are the softest and sweetest, with a whole heap of health benefits. They are high in dietary fibre which can help with digestion, can help to regulate hormones and can also be beneficial in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Plus they are naturally sweet, like nature’s candy!
Maca powder is another powerful adaptogen that I’ve used before and try to incorporate into my smoothies often. It has a sort of honeycomb-ish toffee taste and can help with anxiety and stress. I like to add some protein and fat to every one of my smoothies because I find it really turns it into a meal that keeps me satisfied for several hours. The avocado helps to make it super thick and luscious, as well as adding some healthy fat.
I used Tropeaka Salted Caramel vegan protein powder because I thought the flavour would be perfect. I was right. This is my new favourite flavour! You can definitely just use your favourite one or skip it entirely. I like this brand because their protein powders are gluten free, dairy free and organic. I have no trouble digesting them like I have had with whey powders in the past. This is not a sponsored post, I just really love this Aussie company and their products!
Smoothie Bowl toppings are almost as important as the smoothie itself. You want taste AND texture. I used some homemade granola, which I always have on hand. You could use a high quality store bought one too. Fresh figs, slivered almonds and a drizzle of rice malt syrup top it off beautifully. I loved every spoonful of this smoothie and it really did give me Sticky Date pudding vibes, but healthy. Dessert for breakfast is my favourite.
This Sticky Date Smoothie Bowl tastes freakin’ incredible, but is higher in sugar than the normal smoothies I make. The frozen banana really helps to make it nice and thick – all the better to eat with a spoon. I have also heard of using frozen cauliflower for the same effect with no sugar. If you try this, please let me know!
My Mum is one of the most thoughtful and kind humans I know, and one of my favourite people to bake for. She has a sweet tooth (it must be genetic) so I love making desserts for her. She is always sending me links to recipes I might like to try. One of her favourite desserts ever is the Vanilla Slice and I realised it has been quite a few years since I indulged her. She still remembered the passionfruit version I made her… in 2012!
If you aren’t familiar, a Vanilla Slice is a famous Australian bakery dessert. It’s our Australian version of the mille feuille. I love when one food concept has so many different versions from all around the world, from France, the Philippines, Greece and South America (umm the dulce de leche sounds like an amazing addition).
You can get a Vanilla Slice at almost every bakery here, but most of the time they aren’t my bag of tea. They are often solid as a brick with stodgy custard and a too-sweet glaze. I don’t even want to tell you the affectionate but gross nicknames that some Aussies have for this dessert! A fresh, homemade one is a true thing of beauty.
Originally, I had wanted to make it as a recipe coming up to Mother’s Day, but I wasn’t going to be seeing my Mum until the day itself. I wanted to actually make it for her, and she was sooo happy when she saw it. Her reaction really warmed my heart and re-affirmed why I love baking so much. I absolutely love making people happy with homemade treats.
I made a bright and vibrant pomegranate glaze to go on top. It looks super pretty and has only two ingredients – just the juice (squeezed out of the pomegranate seeds in a sieve) and icing sugar. If you can’t tell, I’ve been really into pomegranates lately. In my last post I used them in a savoury recipe that turned out beautifully.
Pomegranates are in season right now and just gorgeous. I’ve been using them in salads and on top of smoothie bowls. They remind me of my Nanna, who still has a healthy pomegranate tree in her backyard. As kids, we spent countless afternoons picking out the arils one by one. It kept us entertained for hours. Nanna is also one of my earliest influences for cooking and baking. I remember spending a lot of time in the kitchen with her as a kid, when I wasn’t having a piano lesson, but that’s a story for another day!
I decided to stick very closely to Donna Hay’s recipe. The flavour of the custard was out-of-this-world good. Imagine vanilla bean flecked custard encased in a lovely flaky puff pastry. In the recipe notes, they didn’t recommend using thickened cream, which is all I had on hand this time. They recommended a single pouring cream that didn’t contain gelatine, so I will try this next time. The texture of mine was just set which I much preferred to most of the thick and solid set bakery versions I’ve had in the past.
So this dessert is my belated Mother’s Day tribute to my gorgeous Mum and Nanna. Two amazing women that I have been so blessed to be raised by and learn from all my life. It was such a pleasure to make it and for Mum to be so happy when she saw it. Making this felt like a walk down baking memory lane. It had been so long since I had made a vanilla slice, or a custard at all. It reminded me of how my love of baking started and developed in those early years of blogging and how much I still love to bake for the people I love.
A delicious and vibrant take on an Aussie bakery classic – the Vanilla Slice. I served mine with a bright pomegranate glaze.
Keyword Australian, Dessert, Pies & Tarts
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 48 minutes
Refrigerate at least 6 hours
Total Time 1 hour 18 minutes
Servings 12 servings
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
1½ cups full cream milk
1½ cups cream *see note
60 g unsalted butter, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
⅔ cup caster sugar
⅓ cup cornflour
½ cup water
6 egg yolks
1/4 cup pomegranate arils
1 cup icing sugar
Extra pomegranate, to serve
Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Place the pastry sheets on baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper. Top each pastry sheet with non-stick baking paper and place an additional baking tray on each pastry sheet as a weight. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until golden and puffed. Cool completely and then trim to size using a serrated knife. I used a 22cm-square cake tin.
To make the custard, place the milk, cream, butter, vanilla bean paste and sugar into a medium saucepan and cook until just coming to the boil. Remove from the heat.
Combine the cornflour and water and whisk into the hot milk mixture with the egg yolks. Return to the heat, whisking, and bring to the boil. Cook, whisking, until thickened (1-2 minutes).
Place 1 pastry sheet in the base of a lightly greased 22cm-square cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper. Ensure you have enough baking paper hanging over the sides of the tin so you can lift the slice from the tin after it has chilled.
Top with the custard and the remaining pastry sheet and press down gently. Refrigerate for 3–4 hours or overnight, until set.
To make the glaze, put the pomegranate into a sieve over a small bowl. Press down on the seeds to release the juice. Sift in the icing sugar and stir until fully combined. Add more icing sugar if you want a thicker glaze.
Pour the glaze over the vanilla slice, top with extra pomegranate and return to the fridge for 20-30 minutes or until set. Cut the vanilla slice with a serrated knife. You could also cut the slice first and then glaze if you prefer.
This recipe is adapted from Donna Hay. Her version said to use a single (pouring) cream which doesn’t have any additives such as gelatine. I used thickened cream and this slice was set but not a ‘hard’ set custard.
I love inviting my friends and family over for lunch. Our apartment in Sydney is fantastic for entertaining. We have a lovely view and the place just has good vibes when filled with people. These days, cooking for my family and friends feels really special since most of them live more than an hour away and I don’t see them all the time.
When I’m entertaining, I want to make it special but I’ve learned that fussy dishes that require a lot of tending and stirring and precise timing are way too stressful. No one likes being stuck in the kitchen instead of hanging out with your guests! I have shared a few of the tips I’ve learned about entertaining over the years in this blog post.
Roasted chicken is an absolute classic for a reason and a dish that I think everyone should learn to make. It’s a crowd pleaser and you can add almost any flavour you like. I managed to find an organic free range butterflied chicken at the supermarket which was perfect for this recipe.
You can use a regular chicken but buying one already butterflied (or learning to do it yourself – hello Youtube!) will help it cook more quickly and evenly. You could also do this with chicken pieces if a whole bird seems a little overwhelming. Don’t worry, this was me for years before I got the courage to roast a whole chook on my own!
This time I wanted to do a really punchy spice paste that would give the chicken a lot of flavour. I had some store-bought harissa (although I really want to make my own next time) as well as pomegranate molasses and a bunch of spices from my cupboard. I used sumac, paprika, garam masala (a spice blend with delicious things like fennel, cinnamon, cardamom and caraway) and a touch of cayenne pepper.
Pomegranate molasses has been a favourite ingredient of mine for a while. It is a reduced syrupy pomegranate juice that is tangy, a little sweet and has a great depth of flavour. I love adding it to marinades for ribs or roast meats and as a secret ingredient in homemade barbecue sauce. It worked perfectly with all the strong spices, adding some sweetness that helped balance the spicy harissa and cayenne. You can find it at Harris Farm or any middle eastern grocery store.
The chicken skin turned golden and a little crispy in the oven and the meat was perfectly cooked. I served my roasted chicken with an extra drizzle of pomegranate molasses and tons of fresh pomegranate seeds for colour and crunch. I also scattered over some fresh coriander and some flaked almonds that I toasted in the oven for about 5 minutes. I really loved the combination.
On the side I made some harissa roasted carrots that had a nice hit of spice and some nice fluffy cous cous. Roast carrots are a favourite side dish of mine, especially when I am making a main course with a Middle Eastern influence. This lovely Sunday lunch all came together really easily. The oven did almost all the work, which means it could also work as a weeknight dinner too.
If I was making this for just my housemate and I, we would use the leftover roasted chicken in a pasta dish or a wholesome soup. I also love to take the bones and make a chicken stock overnight in my slow cooker. I’ve recently started a little zip lock bag in the freezer for scraps like carrot tops, onion skin and herb stalks that would otherwise be tossed in the garbage, but are great for throwing into a chicken stock.
Roasted Chicken with Pomegranate and Harissa Carrots
Roasted Chicken is a crowd-pleasing classic and perfect for entertaining because the oven does all the work! It’s served with a delicious spice rub and fresh pomegranate, coriander and almonds for colour and crunch.
Keyword Simple Dinners
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 people
1 free range chicken, butterflied (about 1.6kg)
1 tablespoon sumac
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
Cayenne pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon harissa paste
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Plenty of Salt & pepper
1 bunch baby carrots, washed and greens chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon harissa paste
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt & pepper
Pomegranate molasses, extra, to drizzle
1 fresh pomegranate
1 bunch Coriander
1/4 cup flaked almonds, toasted in the oven
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
Cous cous, made according to packet instructions
Take the chicken out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you plan to cook it. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F).
In a small bowl, mix together the sumac, paprika, garam masala, cayenne pepper, harissa paste, pomegranate molasses and olive oil with some salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Rub the spice mix all over the butterflied chicken and place into a skillet or a roasting dish.
Meanwhile, arrange the carrots on a flat baking sheet. Stir together the olive oil, harissa, paprika, salt and pepper. Using a pastry brush, coat the carrots evenly in the harissa oil mixture.
Place the chicken and carrots into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and cooked through. Check it at the 20 minute mark and rotate the trays. If the chicken is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with foil. The carrots may be done sooner if they are very small.
To serve, drizzle the chicken with extra pomegranate molasses and top with fresh pomegranate, coriander and flaked almonds. Transfer the carrots to a serving dish and drizzle with pomegranate molasses, and top with pomegranate and crumbled feta. Serve immediately with cous cous.
At the moment, it feels like summer and autumn have collided. We are well into autumn and I went to the beach 3 times last week. Sydney has been gorgeous with sunny days and blue skies. I’m so grateful that the weather is still glorious and I’m determined to spend lots of time outside enjoying it.
The summer’s bounty of mangoes, peaches and nectarines have ended… but we still have plums, figs and berries. Plus new season pears, apples, pomegranates and quinces. I loved seeing them at the farmers market all at the same time. To me, this is the perfect time to do some preserving!
I love preserving some of summer’s best produce in jams and pickles to enjoy for a little longer. I picked up some tiny ‘imperfect’ plums from Harris Farm. They were half the price of the normal plums and saved them from going into landfill – win win. My intention was to make a batch of jam, so I didn’t really care what they looked like!
This time I wanted to try a slightly different technique with my jam making. It was an experiment that worked out really well. I feel like have hacked the jam making process! I roasted the plums first, before making the jam. The idea was to bring out their natural sweetness and intensify the flavour without adding a ton of sugar, and it worked!
I loosely based this recipe off one which called for 1.5 kilograms of sugar, or over 3 pounds. When making jam it’s not unusual to use a 1:1 fruit to sugar ratio but I often try to reduce that amount without affecting the integrity or taste of the jam.
My Roasted Spiced Plum Jam recipe used 1 kilo of plums and less than 1 cup of sugar and it was still plenty sweet. I actually had to balance out the sweetness with a little red wine vinegar, but this added a beautiful complexity to the taste of the jam. If you also enjoy fruit and vinegar, have you ever thought about making a shrub?
I think this method could work well with other types of fruit too. I’m already a huge fan of roasted strawberries, figs, cherries and rhubarb. I think they would all be delicious in jam form as well. The oven does most of the work, so the actual jam making part is very quick.
I wanted my Spiced Plum Jam to have a warm Chai inspired flavour. Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and of course, vanilla are all lovely with plums. I used them both in the roasting step and the jam making step. You could use whatever you like – even some more unusual flavours like black tea, bay leaves, rosemary, fennel seeds or some black or pink peppercorns would also work well here.
I also added a splash of a Tawny liqueur from Orange but you can use whatever dessert wine you like – Marsala, Port or even red wine would work well here too. All the alcohol does get cooked out, but if you prefer, you can omit it or replace with an equal amount of brewed chai tea.
I look forward to spreading this jam on my toast on cold winter mornings and remembering how lovely the weather was when I made it. It would also make a very excellent and thoughtful homemade Mother’s Day present. I love gifting a jar of almost every homemade jam or pickle I make to my parents. My Mum especially loves a good jam and I just know she will love this one!
My Roasted Spiced Plum Jam is a twist on the traditional method of making jam. Roasting the fruit brings out the natural sweetness and means you can use much less added sugar. This jam would be a perfect Mother’s Day gift!
Course Jams & Preserves
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 3 jars
1 kg plums, halved or quartered
2 tablespoons raw sugar
15 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
1/3 cup orange juice
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup dessert wine
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
8 cardamom pods
1/4 cup water
1-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F). Place the plums cut side up on a roasting tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Sprinkle over the sugar and spices and roast for 40 minutes or until soft and caramelised.
Carefully remove all the spices from the tray and place the plums and the juice into a large saucepan. Meanwhile, tie the cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise and cardamom in a piece of muslin.
Add the vanilla, orange juice, caster sugar and dessert wine and the muslin bag to the saucepan and stir over high heat without boiling until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and add water and red wine vinegar and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the jam thickens and jells when tested (see note).
Remove and discard the muslin bag. Pour the hot jam into hot sterilised jars and seal immediately.
To test if the jam has jelled, place a small plate in the freezer until chilled. Place a spoonful of jam onto the chilled plate and wait for a few minutes. Run a finger through the jam and if it wrinkles, it is ready.
I’ve said it before, but something about autumn and Easter time just makes me want to turn on the oven and get my hands into a bowl of dough. I love the smell of yeast, sweet spices, and delicious aromas coming from my oven. I love the whole process – mixing, kneading, waiting, rolling, baking. It’s totally therapeutic, one of my favourite ways to relax. It’s somehow way more satisfying to the soul than just making a cake.
I love a warm toasted Hot Cross Bun with melted butter or whipped ricotta and honey. This recipe is like a Hot Cross Bun and a Cinnamon Roll had a baby! The filling tastes exactly like a hot cross bun with brown sugar, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice, fresh orange zest and plump sultanas. All very delicious things.
I also added some ground roasted wattleseed to the filling. It is a native Australian spice that can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes. To me, the taste is halfway between coffee and freshly baked biscuits. It works really nicely with the other spices in the filling. I have written this as optional in the recipe below because I know it’s not easy to find, especially outside of Australia. You could add ground coffee if you want a similar vibe or just omit it.
The cream cheese glaze was also a delicious addition. Cream cheese icing is hands down my favourite kind of icing on any cake – sorry to buttercream or ganache! This glaze is basically a cream cheese icing made into a pourable glaze consistency with a little bit of milk. Adding the spices was a last minute decision and I’m very glad I did. The cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg perfectly accentuated the spices in the filling.
The dough was lovely and easy to work with. It would be a great recipe to start with if you want to try working with a risen yeasted dough for the first time. It’s also simple enough to get the kids involved! I made mine in a loaf pan but you could also use a round cake tin. It will make your kitchen smell incredible as it’s baking.
This kind of “pull apart” or “tear and share” loaf is a great option for a long weekend brunch, autumn picnic or potluck. It’s perfect to share with a group of your family or friends – just rip off a piece and pass it around! I’ve also been enjoying it as a snack with a warm cup of tea over the last few days.
I am really looking forward to Easter and the long weekend this year. I’m hosting a small lunch at my place and really looking forward to a nice chill few days of cooking delicious food and catching up with my favourite people.
If you are in need of any Easter recipe inspiration, make sure to check out my Favourite Recipes that I rounded up in my last post. There’s lots of delicious ideas in there!
Hot Cross Bun Pull Apart Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze
This recipe is like a Hot Cross Bun and a Cinnamon Roll had a baby! The filling tastes exactly like a hot cross bun with brown sugar, spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice, fresh orange zest and plump sultanas.
Course Breakfast, Brunch
Keyword Bread & Yeast, Breakfast, Brunch
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Rising Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
1 cup milk, warmed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 packet (7g) dry yeast
3 cups plain flour
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
60 g butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon ground wattle seed (optional)
1 cup sultanas
Cream Cheese Glaze
120 g cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4-6 tablespoons milk
Place the warmed milk, oil and sugar into a bowl. Sprinkle over the yeast and 1 cup of flour. Fold in carefully, cover and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour.
In the meantime, make the filling. Place the brown sugar, cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg, vanilla, orange zest, wattleseed (if using) and sultanas into a bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.
Add the remaining flour, plus baking soda and baking powder to the yeast mixture. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to form a 30cm x 40cm rectangle.
Brush dough with half the melted butter, sprinkle evenly with the spiced filling mixture. Roll lenghwise to enclose, trim and cut into 10-12 pieces. Arrange pieces in a well-greased and lined 9cm x 22cm loaf tin. Set aside for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Brush with remaining butter and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and puffed. Allow to cool in the tin for 15-20 minutes.
To make the cream cheese glaze, place the cream cheese and icing sugar in a bowl and mix with electric beaters until light and fluffy. Add the spices and beat to combine. Add the milk a little at a time until the glaze reaches a nice pourable consistency.
To serve, pour the glaze over the loaf, with any leftover on the side for additional drizzling.
To me, Easter is a special time of year. I always feel the transition of seasons strongly in April. Summer is transitioning into shorter, cooler autumn days. Mangoes and peaches are out, but apples and pears are now in season. This new season coziness just makes me want to get in the kitchen and bake. I have a crazy urge to make yeasted doughs this time every single year – buns, rolls, loaves and scrolls!
I also love Easter as a time for family to get together over good food. When I lived at home, we would always have a decadent brunch – pancakes, cinnamon rolls or french toast. I always brought a dessert to share at our big Easter Sunday lunch – usually heavy on the chocolate. So I thought I would scroll back through my archives and share some of my favourite Easter recipes all in the one place!
I made a batch of my usual go-to doughnut recipe, and then filled them with a spiced custard and brandy-soaked currants before finally dipping the tops in dark chocolate and piping the signature cross in white chocolate. Delicious and fun!
If there is one thing I am certain of in this life, it is that I make a damn good Cinnamon Roll! This version includes delicious tea-steeped dates in the spiced filling and a salted caramel sauce. I love serving these for brunch during the whole Easter long weekend!
Chocolate and Malt are two of my favourite flavours. When I’m feeling daring, I test the limits of my lactose intolerance with a Choc Malt Milkshake. I’ve used those delicious flavours marbled together in these lovely mini bundt cakes, drizzled with homemade chocolate sauce and topped with yet more crushed up Maltesers.
Double Chocolate = perfect Easter Recipes! I might only ever bake brownies in skillets from now on. I love how the edges get crispy while the middle remains gooey and molten. Under-baking slightly is encouraged with brownies like this, especially when you can just pile ice cream and fudge sauce on top and dig straight in with a spoon.
I am not one of those people who buys Hot Cross Buns in January. I like to enjoy them for a week or two, and then not think about them again until next year. I’ve tried making them from scratch a couple of times, and this was definitely my best attempt. It has lots of dried fruit, spices and stewed apple in the mix. Sooo good.
This No Churn Ice Cream Bombe goes on the list of last minute Easter recipes and is a total crowd pleaser. My boyfriend still asks me to make this ice cream all the time – it’s his favourite of my many, many ice cream experiments! It would also make an epic milkshake flavour.
This cake has become one of our family’s favourites and we make it for many special occasions throughout the year – Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas and birthdays. Everyone loves it, so I just had to include it in this roundup!
This Chicken Pesto is one of my all-time favourite recipes. I don’t say that lightly, but I’ve made it so many times, I don’t even need the recipe anymore! I originally shared it back in 2007 and estimate that I’ve made this pesto once a month since then. That means I have probably made it close to 150 times (!)
I just truly love to cook this dish. It is such a quick and delicious weeknight meal. You can make the pesto, cook the chicken and make the sauce in the time it takes to cook your pasta. I really wanted to update it because my photography has improved quiiiiite a bit in the last decade or so. The badly composed, poorly lit photo seriously made me cringe.
Lately I have enjoyed revisiting some old favourite recipes and re-reading the words I wrote years ago. Re-shooting the dishes with the photography and food styling know-how I have accumulated throughout the last decade has been great fun for me too.
These are the recipes in my archive that have truly stood to test of time. I make them over and over and I know they will always work. While I can be a recipe-following rebel and always want to change something, I made this Chicken Pesto exactly as I had written it in my original post 12 years ago, and it turned out absolutely perfectly.
This recipe is totally adaptable. If I don’t have the exact ingredients, I just wing it. I like knowing that I can turn pretty much anything in my fridge into some sort of meal. It makes me feel like I’m on a Masterchef challenge!!
Sometimes I substitute different herbs, spinach or kale for the basil. If I don’t have pine nuts on hand, I use cashews or even sunflower seeds with great success.
When I can get a huge bunch of basil at the farmers market, I like to make a double batch and freeze it. That means I always have a super quick weeknight meal option in the freezer for busy days. Just transfer to an airtight container and drizzle a little olive oil over the top to ensure it doesn’t discolour.
You could also make this recipe with leftover roast chicken – homemade or store bought are both good. Prawns, hot smoked salmon or sautéed mushrooms would be good options too. You can also use any shape or size of pasta you have on hand. I’ve seriously made it with everything from penne to spirals to orecchiette and more. It even made a lasagne filling that was the bomb.
This time I decided to serve my Chicken Pesto with some roasted cherry tomatoes, which added a little extra cooking time to the final dish. It was delicious but 100% optional. I know I don’t always have time to roast tomatoes when I’ve come home late on a weeknight! Sun-dried tomatoes stirred into the sauce can give you an intense pop of flavour or just simply slice fresh cherry tomatoes in half and serve alongside.
I hope you give this recipe a try and that it becomes part of your weeknight repertoire like it has for me. I know I will continue to make it (and of course, variations of it) for many more years to come.
Creamy Chicken Pesto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
This Creamy Chicken Pesto has been a staple recipe in my repertoire of Simple Dinners since 2007! I have made it well over 100 times over the years and it’s one of my favourite quick and easy weeknight meals.
Keyword Pasta, Simple Dinners
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
400 g mixed coloured cherry tomatoes
Salt & Black Pepper
1 cup basil leaves, rinsed, roughly chopped
¼ cup parsley leaves, rinsed, roughly chopped
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 small chicken breasts, cut into 2cm cubes
1/2 cup thickened cream
Salt & Black Pepper
500 g dry weight spaghetti, cooked
Grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Cut cherry tomatoes in half and spread on a non-stick baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and black pepper. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, or until soft.
In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water.
To make the pesto, place ingredients into a food processor and pulse until combined to taste.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a fry pan. Add the chicken, cooking until cooked through. Remove from the pan, and set aside.
Over low heat, add the pesto to the frypan with the cream and cook for 5 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan and stir until chicken is coated.
Drain the pasta and then return it to the pot. Stir the pesto sauce into the pasta and serve, garnishing with roasted cherry tomatoes, basil leaves and parmesan.
How do we all feel about dessert for breakfast? I think you can tell that I’m kind of a fan. I just posted my new favourite breakfast – Baked French Toast. It is kind of on the decadent side and perfect for special occasion brunches. Most days I am having a smoothie (or a smoothie bowl when I feel fancy), a chia pudding or I fast until lunch time.
But today’s recipe for Coconut Panna Cotta is completely dairy free. They are actually one of the simplest desserts I’ve ever made. They would be perfect for a dinner party or even a summer BBQ. But they are healthy enough that you could have them for breakfast!
I decided to serve them in my new coconut bowls from Tropeaka. I usually make my smoothie bowls in them because #instagramlife. The coconut panna cotta looked so cute served in the coconut bowl! I decorated the top with sliced white peaches, berries, coconut flakes and edible flowers.
Coconut is one of my favourite ingredients because it is so versatile. It goes with so many flavours, like chocolate, coffee or spices. Coconut is best friends with practically every fruit I can think of.
You can buy coconut in so many different forms. Hydrating coconut water makes a great fresh drink. Coconut milk and cream are great in both sweet and savoury cooking, from smoothies to soups! Coconut sugar is a great refined sugar substitute. You already know that coconut oil can be used in a million and one different ways, from frying to skincare. Fresh coconut flesh is full of nutrients, and then there is also shredded, desiccated and flaked versions that are great in baking and desserts. Phew!
Gelatine is also another interesting ingredient. I’ve used gelatine in cooking for years and I had no idea it had a lot of health benefits! Grass fed gelatine is a great source of protein and collagen, which may help with skin, hair, gut health, mental performance, plus joint and bone strength, and more.. Lately, I have also been adding a teaspoon of gelatine to hot blended drinks – my own version of a Bulletproof coffee or tea. It has no taste but makes the drinks SUPER frothy.
You can top your Coconut Panna Cotta with whatever you like – as I said, coconut goes with almost everything! If you are having them for breakfast, you can try a scattering of homemade granola or top your favourite fruit and nuts. I think the contrast in textures from crunchy to smooth would be great. If you want to dress them up for dessert, try making a healthier chocolate sauce substituting coconut milk instead of cream, or a coulis with your favourite fruit.