Christmas Baking Class Week 1 (Part 2) – Cinnamon Pastry and Frangipane Tarts (with Raspberry)

Frangipane and raspberry tarts

I have previously posted about the  5 week Christmas baking course I am taking with Sarah Brigden (babyCakes) through Tuart College, where in the first class we made fruit mince (see post here). We then used the fruit mince to make fruit mince tarts with a frangipane (almond cream) filling/topping.

My fruit mince is still developing its flavour in the fridge, so I decided to make these tarts but with raspberries instead, as I always have some  in my freezer. The results were delicious and very popular both at home and at work. Mum has already asked for these for our family Christmas lunch.

The cinnamon pastry brings a nice added flavour to the tart, however you could leave it out or replace it with citrus zest, ground ginger, mixed spices –  it is up to you.

This pastry will keep in the fridge for 5 days before cooking or up to 3 months in the freezer (wrapped in cling wrap and placed in a sealed container or bag), while the frangipane will keep for a week in the fridge. To make these tarts with fruit mince, you can add it either before the frangipane or on top. Don’t overfill the tart cases, as the frangipane does rise a bit when it bakes.

Click here for the recipe

Lime and Raspberry Friands

The other day I was in the mood for baking something new, but not too complex. So I decided to make some friands. I pulled out my baking cookbooks to browse a few recipes for ideas (and method), and to my surprise there wasn’t a friand recipe in any of them.

So I jumped onto the internet and went straight to A quick search later I had seven recipes to look through. I decided to try the lemon friand recipe (given my love for all baked things with citrus in them).

In writing this now, I stopped for a moment to think about why I keep buying cookbooks when there are so many recipes on the internet these days. I suppose the simple answer is I like looking through cookbooks, getting inspiration, new ideas and learning new things. I can find recipes, flavour combinations or cooking techniques I didn’t know existed. Whereas with the internet, I usually already know what I’m looking for, and am looking for different ideas and ways of doing things before I go off and try my own thing.

Okay, cookbook collection justified, back to the friands.

I decided I wanted to add some raspberries to my friands, so off I went to the shops to stock up on almond meal, frozen raspberries and some fresh lemons. I got everything else, but my local big chain supermarket didn’t have any lemons! They did however have limes so I decided to give the recipe a go with limes instead of lemons. I like using limes in my baking, as I think they have a more complex, sweeter citrus taste rather than the straight, strong tartness of lemons (which I also love) and I will often use both lemon and lime together when a recipe only calls for one or the other.

The friands themselves were quite simple to make and turned out well. Although I think I overfilled them so they were a bit bigger than they should be, and also meant I couldn’t serve them the right way with the pattern on top. I liked the combination of lime and raspberry, resulting in a fresh, sweet tartness that balanced well with the sweet and textured friand mix. I’m certainly going to make them again.

Lime and raspberry friands Click here for the recipe

Lemon, Berry & Poppyseed muffins

I know breakfast is important, but I struggle to eat first thing in the morning. It takes me a bit of time to wake up enough to want to eat. So I usually eat my breakfast at work. A few years ago, this meant picking up a muffin from the bakery on my way to work. Not really the best start to the day. These days I’m a lot more organised (and making an effort to be healthier), and will take in fruit, cereal or home-made (and healthier) muffins for my breakfast.

A few years ago, I discovered the TV show Cook Yourself Thin. Two series of this show were filmed in the UK, with a different format each season. The general concept remained the same between the two series. Each episode focused on a person with weight issues and looked at their three (I think it was three) “downfall dishes”. Healthier, lower calorie dishes similar to the original were created as an alternative that could be cooked at home. I loved this show and I think it influenced what I try to do now, that is finding healthier alternatives to my favourites rather than cutting them out completely.  More recently the Hairy Bikers have done this with their book and TV series The Hairy Dieters, and I’ll cook something from their book soon (I of course bought the book as soon as I heard about it). I’m sure there are others out there as well that I haven’t discovered yet. If you know of any books or TV shows of a similar theme, please let me know.

But back to Cook Yourself Thin. These Lemon, Berry and Poppyseed muffins were the first recipe I tried from the series and I’ve made them several times since. They have quite a few replacement ingredients in them. The rice flour and almond meal make them gluten free (if you use gluten free baking powder). Courgette is used in place of butter or oil for moisture (you can’t taste it, I promise) and buttermilk is used in place of milk. I actually had some whey in the fridge from the cheese course I attended and I tried that instead of butter milk. The result was great (I think it actually made them lighter than usual) so I will be using that again next time I have some in the house. I like to wrap them individually once cooled and then freeze most of them. That way, I always have some in the freezer in case I need to grab something on my way to work. Once I get to work, I warm it in the microwave (removing the foil cases first if I’ve used them) and that is a quick breakfast or snack sorted.

Click here for the recipe

Berry and Almond Pies


I freely admit I am addicted to buying cookbooks and magazines. I read them like novels. And even though I have hundreds, it doesn’t take much to have me reaching for my money to buy more. With magazines, it’s the cover photo that gets me. Usually if it’s anything to do with baking or desserts, I’m hooked and have to buy it. It doesn’t always follow that I then make the recipe however.

The latest to tempt me was the cover of the November edition of Australian Good Food with Berry & Almond Picnic Pies. I had to have them. Above is a photo of my first attempt at the recipe. I’m pretty happy with the result and they taste quite nice too. click here for the recipe