Archives for posts with tag: lemon

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Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. I wish I could actually give you all one of these cookies, they are delicious! I first saw the recipe the other week in the December (Christmas) issue of the BBC Good Food Magazine, which is the current issue here in Australia (we are always a few months behind in getting them). I always find new recipes I want to try in this magazine and I have just this week subscribed to the digital version of the magazine, so from now on I won’t have to wait months for the magazine to arrive in Australia.

The magazine included a section on Christmas baking traditions from around the world, including the German Christmas cookie the Zimtsterne. As soon as I read the recipe I knew I had to make the cookies, but I couldn’t wait for Christmas 2014! So instead I decided to use the recipe to make some heart shaped cookies for Valentine’s Day.

The flavours are amazing. The ginger, cinnamon and lemon go so well together and the biscuit has a lovely nutty, spicy flavour without being overpowering, with the lemon providing some freshness. These are a chewy cookie, with the outside developing a delicate macaron like crispness and that are completely different to gingerbread biscuits. I certainly plan to make them for Christmas every year from now on! They also have the added bonus of being gluten free so they make a great alternative to gingerbread for anyone who can’t eat gluten. I shared the biscuits around at work and I think it was one of the most positive responses I’ve ever had. They were very popular. So if you are looking for a different cookie recipe to try, or maybe something different for next Christmas, I recommend giving these a go.

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Cinnamon, ginger and lemon cookies (Zimtsterne)

Makes around 30 stars if you use a 5cm star cutter, approximately 18 hearts with a slightly larger heart shaped cutter

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites (I always use large/59g eggs)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 200g pure icing sugar – sifted plus extra for dusting
  • 250g almond meal/ground almonds
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 130C fan forced (150C). Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2. Place the two egg whites in a large clean bowl (not plastic) or the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk (using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer or an electric hand whisk) until it becomes foamy. Add the lemon juice at this stage and then whisk until the egg whites form soft peaks.

3. Once the egg whites have formed soft peaks, start adding the icing sugar in a spoon at a time until all the icing sugar has been added and the mixture is shiny and stiff.

4. Remove ¼ of the egg white/icing sugar mixture and keep in a separate bowl to use as the topping.

5. Add the almond meal, lemon zest, cinnamon and ginger to the rest of the egg white/icing sugar mix and mix to form a dough. It will be quite sticky.

6. The dough is best rolled out between baking paper as it is sticky. Place a sheet of baking paper on the bench. Dust a small amount of icing sugar onto the paper and place the dough on top of the paper. Dust the top of the dough lightly with icing sugar and then place another sheet of baking paper on top.dough

7. Roll out the dough to approximately 0.5cm in thickness. Peel off the top sheet of baking paper  and cut out to the shape of your choice and place on the baking tray. Repeat until you have used all the dough.ready to ice

8. Before baking, spread a small amount of the remaining egg white/icing sugar mix over the top of each cookie (either using the back of a small spoon or I used a small offset spatula). You may need to add a few drops of water to thin it out slightly if it is too stiff.

They got a bit neater with practice!

They got a bit neater with practice!

9. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes for the smaller stars. My cookies were a bit larger and took 15-20 minutes. You want to bake them until the icing on top has set but isn’t browning. Allow them to cool fully before storing in a sealed container. They will last for up to 2 weeks.

Adapted from BBC Good Food Magazine December 2013- Zimtsterne

Spiced hearts

Whisper cake 1

It is definitely summer here in Perth. We have recently experienced quite a few days above 40 degrees (celcius) and a lot of days in the high 30s. That isn’t the best weather to encourage baking and as a result the oven has been getting a bit of a rest.

One of the few things I have baked recently is this whisper cake. After the holiday period, I was looking for a treat that was a bit lighter and I found this recipe in the Australian Healthy Food Guide magazine. I’ve made it twice, once as a full sized ring cake, and once in my 12 cup mini bundt pan (which I’ve had for ages and had never used until now). The result both times was a delicious and moist cake. The flavours remind me of my favourite citrus (and coconut) cupcakes with raspberry frosting, but with a lot less fat/calories. This recipe is going into the favourites list! It is a very easy recipe, great for picnics and a lot easier to make in this heat than pastry from scratch, which was the other thing I baked recently for a picnic (mini quiches).

Whisper cake 2

Click here for the recipe

 lemon curd mousse

A belated happy New Year all. I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday season. I had a lovely Christmas with my family. Christmas really is one of my favourite times of the year. However, between all the Christmas cooking/baking, an old neck injury playing up again (ouch) and the fact that I was still working over the holiday period, I needed to take a holiday from something…so I took a couple of weeks off from my blog.

But my break is over and it is now time to get back to the baking and blogging, and what better recipe to start the year with than one of my all-time favourite desserts. I first tried this recipe from Gary Mehigan’s book Comfort Food a few years ago after meeting him and getting a signed copy of his book at a food show. This recipe includes my favourite lemon curd recipe that I often make on its own (it makes a great gift) and have written about previously. I’ve wanted to make the mousse for my blog for some time, but have been waiting for a reason to make it. I knew if I made it solely for the blog that I would end up eating too much of it myself! So when I was invited to a friend’s pre-Christmas dinner, I offered to bring dessert and knew it was time for this dish to make an appearance again. After all, the spicy gingernut crumble is reminiscent of ginger bread so that makes it Christmassy, right?

The gingernut crumble is quite easy to make, however you could always replace it with crushed bought ginger biscuits if you want to skip a step. The original recipe called for ground star anise, but I don’t like aniseed flavours so I have replaced it with mixed spice. Like most desserts I cook for dinner parties, this can be made ahead. The curd is best made at least the day before (or the morning) you want to use it so it has time to cool. The crumble can also be made a day or two ahead of serving. I have made the mousse up to a day before serving and it has still been great. It is always good to know you have dessert ready to go on the night with no stress.

This recipe is a cross between a mousse and a cheesecake. The tartness of the lemon cuts through the richness of the cream cheese and the sweetness from the condensed milk, with the crumble adding great spice and texture. It really is one of my favourite desserts.

Click here for the recipe

Lemon meringue pie

Finding the time to cook, bake and blog is difficult at the moment, as besides work I’ve also started rehearsals three times a week for a local musical which will be on in a few months. So things are busy at the moment, but it is a good busy and I’m so happy to be singing and rehearsing for a show again, after over a year off the stage.

I did however find time to give the Week 2 Great Australian Bake Off technical challenge a go. Lemon Meringue Pie is one of my favourites, but also one of the desserts I am often most disappointed in when I buy them at restaurants or bakeries as I usually find them too sweet with not enough of the tart lemon flavour, so I was interested to give this recipe a try.

I have to admit that in my rush, I didn’t read the recipe correctly and started making the curd filling in a completely different way to the suggested method. However, it still worked and the end result was a set curd filling. So the method here is what I did, not what was recommended in the original recipe (which you can find here). I also had to add extra lemon zest to increase the citrus flavour and even then the filling was a bit too sweet for me.

I managed to complete the dessert in less than 2 hours (which I think is the time the contestants had). If you have more time, I would suggest letting the pastry chill longer before baking in the oven, as I found it shrank back a lot with only a 5 minute resting time.

I’m looking forward to the next technical challenge – brandy snaps. I’ve always meant to give them a try but have just never gotten around to it.

Click here for the recipe

Lemon curd

If you have read any of my past posts, you will know that I love anything citrus based. Tart desserts are my favourite and I will always go for a citrus or berry dessert, rather than chocolate. I think my love of all things tart must come from my Nanna. I remember hearing tales of how, when she was a young girl,  she would get sent to the shop with the vinegar bottle to fill it up, and by the time she was home it was half empty because she had been drinking it on the way home!

So it will come as no surprise that lemon curd (or lemon butter) is a favourite of mine. Unfortunately, I find almost all of the lemon curd you can buy in shops tastes overly sweet and artificial, and doesn’t have that lovely tartness that I expect in lemon curd. So it is something that I much prefer to make myself. And with this recipe, it is easy to make at home.

I discovered this recipe a few years back when making Gary Mehigan’s Lemon Curd Mousse with Gingernut Crumble (a great dessert that I will have to make and post soon). This lemon curd  is actually made in the microwave (although you could do it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water if you prefer, however you need to stir it constantly if you cook it this way). It is a much quicker and easier than other recipes I have tried, and doesn’t need the constant stirring of the usual method. The end result is the best lemon curd I have ever made, beautifully tart with a wonderful creamy, glossy texture. The other thing I like about this recipe is that it specifies the volume of lemon juice you need. The amount of juice in lemons can vary so much, that I prefer having the volume specified in a recipe such as this where you are relying on the lemon as your main flavour. When I have tried other recipes, I  found I had to keep adding more, trying as I went, to get the right tart lemon flavour (not something I encourage you to do with raw eggs!). This recipe removes the trial and error  and I get the same result each time I make it.

Of course, if you prefer your lemon curd a bit sweeter, just add more sugar. That is the joy of making your own, you can make it just the way you like it.

Lemon curd

Click here for the recipe

When I started this blog, one of the things I wanted to do was work through my Nanna’s handwritten cookbook, which is full of recipes she collected throughout her life. Her handwriting however is quite difficult to decipher and there are minimal instructions, so it is quite a big task.

Nanna's cookbook

Nanna’s cookbook

I was reminded of this the other day when I was browsing through other people’s blog posts and came across a recipe for lemon and lime coconut slice by Daisy and the Fox. Instantly I thought of my Nanna’s lemon slice and knew I had to make her recipe this weekend.

My Nanna was a very important part of my life and one of my first cooking memories is making pikelets with her. She also taught me how to spin, knit and crochet. I am so lucky to have had her in my life and I often think of her and miss her.

After she retired, she moved to be closer to us (my brother and I were her only grandchildren). We often stayed with her on weekends and over the holidays. She also often picked me up after school, and looked after me when I was home sick. For my first two years of high school I went to a private school that was about 45 minutes from home (longer with public transport). Often the bus wouldn’t pick us up and I was having issues with my health. Nanna started driving all the way there and picking me up. She always had an afternoon snack waiting for me, like this slice.

I was thinking about this and other memories of my time with my Nanna while I was making the slice. Isn’t it wonderful how food can remind us of the people we  love and evoke memories of them and our time with them?

Nanna's original handwritten recipe

Nanna’s original handwritten recipe

Click here for the recipe

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