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Red Velvet Candycane Cupcakes

red velvet cupcakes We have always wanted to make red velvet cupcakes. The name its self sounds so alluring and appetising and the actual cakes are strikingly red, topped with delicious cream cheese icing (who doesn’t love cream cheese icing  either on a cake or straight out of the bowl). Despite the name sounding so elusive, there are hundreds of red velvet cupcakes recipes out there.Finding a good one is a different story.

You will see that they all contain similar ingredients, cocoa, red food colouring, buttermilk (responsible for the moist and tender crumb) and your usual flour, sugar and rising agent (usually baking soda). The difference between recipes we researched is that some called for oil and some called for butter. We tried recipes with both butter and oil and, I found that the recipe that included the oil gave me a softer textured cake and better crumb. While some people may argue that butter will make the cake taste better, if it’s dry and crumbling, a buttery taste won’t save it.

As much as we love a red velvet cupcake, we have to say that regardless of what fat you use, they can often end up tasting like a mild chocolate cupcake (that happens to be red).  We didn’t really see much a difference between the cupcakes made with butter and those made with oil. That said, we would rather use oil and have a light and fluffy cupcake over a dry one. plus the use of oil means no creaming sugar and butter (Win – if you are short of time, don’t have a fancy mixer or just cant bothered with the laborious task of creaming!)

This brings me to our next point. It’s all about the icing. While i’m not a fan of the cake by itself, add cream cheese and you’ll have people frosting over these cakes like there’s  no tomorrow.   The cream cheese icing transforms what is really is a chocolate cupcake into a red velvet cupcake. Make sure you have your cream cheese icing  nice and thick and fluffy to really taste the red velvet experience. To achieve this, don’t over beat the cream cheese as it will start to go liquidly. Instead you may want to use our trick which is to beat the butter and icing sugar first (just until it is stiff) and then add the cream cheese at the end.

Given it is nearly Christmas, Alex and I decided to make a red velvet cup cake with a Christmas twist. We added crushed candy canes on top and if you are a fan of choc mint, add a small dash of peppermint essence to the icing.

We would love to hear how you go with these cupcakes or if you use a recipe that contains butter that you think might be better,  let us know as we would love to give it a try.

– Alex and Rani

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Red Velvet Candycane Cupcakes Recipe

Red Velvet Candycane Cupcakes
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 18 or more
Vibrant and delicious red velvet cupckes with a minty twist
For the cupcakes
  • 350g (2⅓ cups) plain flour
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 315g (1½ cups) caster sugar
  • 250ml (1 cup) buttermilk
  • 185ml (3/4 cup) vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp red food colouring
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 packet candycanes crushed
For the icing
  • 250g pkt cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 100g butter, at room temperature
  • 195g (1¼ cups) pure icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line eighteen 80ml (1/3-cup) capacity muffin pans with paper cases.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar.
  3. Whisk the buttermilk, oil, eggs, food colouring and vinegar in a jug until combined.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Add the buttermilk mixture and stir until just combined.
  5. Divide the mixture among the prepared pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. To make the cream cheese frosting, use an electric beater to beat the cream cheese, butter, icing sugar and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.
  7. Pipe or spoon the cream cheese over the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.

Winter Warmers – Jam Filled Doughnuts

jam filled doughnuts

Doughnuts, bombolini, churros  What ever you call them, these deep fried ball of sweet doughy goodness are something that Art of Baking have been wanting to try for a while now. They really are one of the most guilty pleasures and all though they are a calorie bomb, t it well worth it. Unfortunately, this recipe is so easy to make, that you might find homemade donuts are no longer a once off treat.

Last Monday when Alex and I were coming home from catching up with a friend from Hobart, Alex reminded me how much he would love to eat a hot jam doughnut and we shivered at the train station waiting for what felt like an eternity for our train to take us home.

The next day when flicking through my new Gourmet Traveller magazine, I stumbled across a recipe for jam doughnuts. It was a sign. The recipe was not too complicate either and I had most of the ingredients at home. I made the dough in the kitchen aid and it was a breeze. We out in a simple store bought raspberry jam and rolled them in a cinnamon sugar. Eaten warm they are delicious treat.

The recipe said to let the dough prove for one hour until doubled in size. I found that my dough needed a bit longer, about 2 and a bit hour.  However once the dough has been cut into the doughnut shapes it does continue to rise so don’t be disheartened if after two hours you feel the dough has not risen as much as you would have expected.

The recipe also says to roll the dough out to 1cm thickness and again this does not sound very think but when cut into the doughnut shapes, it will rise. The doughnut also puff up a lot when they hit the oil, so the guide of 1cm thickness is probably accurate. The first time I made these I rolled them out to about 5 cm thick and I found that the middle did not cook as they were a bit too thick.

The fun thing with these doughnuts is that once you have the dough ready, you can make them into all different shapes. Keep them in round ball to fill with hot jam ( or nutella!) or even a vanilla custard or crème patisserie. Or cut them in rounds and cut a hole in the middle to make good old fashioned cinnamon donuts that I remember eating with my dad as a kid from Fantasy Doughnuts at our local shopping centre. The bits of dough you cut out can also be deep fired for one popping mouthful of goodness.

Which ever way you make them, the main thing is that they are delicious. We think this dough is a great solid base and I’m looking forward to trying them with nutella and perhaps a sugary pink icing!

We hope you enjoy making them too and let us know your favourite way to eat them!

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Jam Doughnuts
Cuisine: Sweets
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 14
  • 400g (2⅓ cups) plain flour
  • 10g dried yeast
  • 50g caster sugar with extra for dusting
  • 150ml warmed milk
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) pouring cream
  • 50g grated butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Start by mixing your flour yeast and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook to combine. Slowly add warm milk, butter, cream, egg, pinch of salt and cinnamon until a smooth dough begins to form.
  2. Let dough sit in warm area with a damp tea towel over the top until the dough has doubled in size. This should be around 60-90 minutes.
  3. Once dough has risen turn dough out onto a floured beach and begin knocking it back and flattening it to a 1cm thickness then cutting into 6cm rounds with a cutter. At this stage put the cut rounds onto a tray to prove further for around 5-10 minutes.
  4. Heat oil in a deep saucepan for 175C. We recommend deep frying the doughnuts in batches, turning them occasionally until they are golden and puffed (around 3-4 minutes on each side taking care of spitting oil). Once they've finished cooking place them on paper towel to drain.
  5. Roll cooked doughnuts in caster sugar with cinnamon. If you have some jam around the house we recommend piercing a hole in one end of the doughnut then piping raspberry jam into the centre. Best enjoyed warm.
To knock back dough, gather it in a ball and pound it down on your bench with your wrist. Gather the dough back up and repeat this a few times

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– Alex and Rani



lamington recipe

Alex and I have always wanted to attempt to make lamingtons. An Australian icon and a delicious treat that we use to eat as kids from the local bakery.  The Lamington consists of a delicate sponge cake, covered in chocolate icing and rolled in desiccated coconut. While most of the recipes we researched did not add jam and cream, we decided to dress our lamingtons up by slicing them in half and adding fresh whipped cream and raspberry jam. We found the addition of jam and cream took the lamingtons to another level and made them slightly more moist and moreish.

As I kid, I never appreciated that the lamington is actually quite a complex little cake – something that Alex and I discovered when attempting to make a batch. I have also never made a sponge cake before and having heard many tales about how difficult a sponge cake is to make, I was hesitant but excited to try and make a sponge for the first time.

Our first attempt involved a lamington recipe that called for a cake that required 250g butter and 4 eggs. While this recipe was not your typical recipe for a sponge cake (using so much butter and only 4 eggs, it resembled more of a butter cake) it was taken from a good source so I was quite confident it would be a good lamington recipe to try.  Well it turn out this cake was a disaster; it sunk in the middle and was very heavy and dense. After some tears on my behalf, Alex suggested we use a recipe in which the sponge cake was made using only eggs and a tiny amount of butter. Our second attempt involved whipping 6 eggs and triple sifting the flour but  it was worth the effort as it resulted in a feather light sponge cake. With the sponge mastered we then had to cut the cake into even sized pieces, dip each piece in chocolate icing and then coat each cake in coconut. This process resulted in a kitchen covered in the above ingredients but the results were better than we had hoped for. Having seen the mess I had made making the lamingtons, I was relieved that they ended up resembling the lamingtons I remember seeing in the bakery.

There are many variations you could use for the sponge cake to make the lamingtons. So if you have your own sponge cake recipe you could use this. Give this recipe a try, its well worth the effort and we hope you enjoy making this recipe as much as we did.

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Recipe type: Baking
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
  • 6 eggs
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup cornflour
  • ½ cup self-raising flour
  • ½ cup plain flour
  • 20g butter, melted
  • 3 cups desiccated coconut
Chocolate icing
  • 5 cups icing sugar mixture
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 20g butter, chopped
  • 200g dark chocolate
  1. Start by preheating your oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced and greasing a 4.5cm deep, 23cm x 33cm (base) roasting pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, spreading paper 3cm above edges of pan.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla together for 8 minutes or until mixture becomes thick and creamy.
  3. Meanwhile, triple-sift cornflour, self-raising flour and plain flour together. Sift over egg mixture. Using a spatula or whisk, fold in flours until just combined. Fold in butter. Pour mixture into ready pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until sponge is golden and just firm to touch.
  4. Turn onto a wire rack lined with baking paper. Cool fully. Trim edges of sponge.
  5. Cut sponge into 24 squares.
Chocolate Icing
  1. Place icing sugar, cocoa, milk and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Mixing over heat until combined and smooth. Place coconut in a bowl.
  2. Using a fork, toss one piece of sponge in icing to coat. Drain off additional icing.
  3. Mix in coconut to coat all over the lamington.
  4. Once done transfer to a baking paper-lined tray.
  5. Repeat process with your remaining sponge, icing and coconut.
  6. Set aside for 1 hour to set and then enjoy!


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– Alex & Rani



When the month of December finally arrives, our thoughts start to turn to holidays, how many days of work we have left, how many christmas presents we need to buy at the last minute and the menu for christmas lunch.  Christmas time is that time of year when its not weird to begin planning what to eat for one day at least a month in advance!

The one thing we love about Christmas being during summer in Australia, is that you can still enjoy traditional christmas food such as turkeys and ham, but the stress factor can be minimised by cooking these easily  in a BBQ in the back yard and then serving it with roast vegetables and fresh clean salads. I always love planning the dessert for Christmas day as summer time means there is so much beautiful fruit available that can be used in nearly any dish to give a delicious finish to a meal.

Pavlova is one of my favourite desserts (Sorry NZ but I’m going to have to say it is a traditional Australian dessert!) but really I don’t care who invented it, i’m just glad someone did because it is divine!  I love the crunchy outside, the soft marshmallow meringue and the simple finish of cool cream on top. Paired with summer fruits it makes my mouth water. We decided to wish you all a merry christmas and created this summer berry layered pavlova. Not only does it make a sensational centre piece for the christmas table, it uses cherries and raspberries which are just delicious at this time of year and always look very festive. One of the other things about this recipe is that it is quite easy but looks impressive – an easy recipe at Christmas is a winner.

We created  3 meringue bases, layered them with whipped cream and added cherries and raspberries in between. The final meringue went on to and a mountain of cherries, raspberries and few blueberries topped with icing sugar finihsed it off.

We did learn along the way that you might want to make this recipe in a very well air conditioned kitchen or on a day in December when it is NOT over 30 degrees. Raspberries love to weep and dribble their beautiful juice and meringue can be very fiddle to handle on a hot day.  I pretty much created an eton mess on Alex’s kitchen bench.

However, the finished product tastes like summer, a very delicious summer. We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. We look forward to bringing you more yummy recipes in 2013.

– Alex and Rani

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Berry Christmas - A Summer Berry Layered Pavlova
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
A sweet, tangy and lucious cherry berry layered pavlova
  • oil spray
  • 5 eggwhites
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 600ml cream, whipped
  • 400g cherries, 200g of which are pitted and quartered
  • 200g raspberries
  • 100g blueberries
  • icing sugar to dust
  1. Preheat oven to degrees celcius or 110 degrees celcius fanforded
  2. Using a pencil, draw 3 18 cm circle on 3 pieces of baking paper.
  3. Spray oven trays lightly with oil and place the paper on them pencil side down
  4. Beat eggwhites until soft peaks form
  5. Add sugar gradually beating well after egg addition until thick and glossy.
  6. Beat in vanilla
  7. Spread the meringue onto the trays within the pencil lines
  8. Bake for 1 hour, swapping the trays from top to bottom shelf half way through
  9. After 1 hour, turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven with the door ajar to cool completely.
  10. To serve, place on disc of meringue onto a serving plate.
  11. Spread with one third of the whipped cream and top with half the quartered cherries and half of the raspberries and blueberries.
  12. Top with another disc of meringue, half the reaming cream and all the remaining quartered cherries, raspberries and blueberries.
  13. Place the final meringue on top and spread with the remaining cream. Pile the wholes cherries on top and dust with icing sugar.
Your egg whites are at the soft peak stage when you lift the beaters or whisk and the peaks just fold over.


NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chips cookies. One of the most loved cookies of our time and a good old fashioned favourite.  However given its simplicity in ingredients, how can it be that one simple biscuit could cause me so much grief?

A few years ago I was content with using any chocolate chip cookie recipe and as long as they didn’t burn I was satisfied.  As I continued to bake I became more interested in finding the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, one that not only produced a cookie with crisp edges but also a soft centre, one  that was not cake like but slightly chewy. Most of all I didn’t want a flat cookie that spread to a undesirable pancake.

After searching various cook books and baking blogs, I decided to try the Nestle Toll House recipe, you know, the one that is on the back of the packet of Nestle Toll House choc chips. The recipe is devised by Ms Ruth Wakefield who accidently created the chocolate chip recipe. She is considered a somewhat heroine in the baking world. Being the recipe that invented the chocolate chip cookie I figured it would produce some pretty awesome cookies (I should also sheepishly insert here that after watching a Friends episode where Phoebe admits that her Grandmother’s secret choc chip cookie recipe that produces the best cookies is actually the Nestle Toll House recipe, I was further convinced!)

I continued to use this recipe for a few years, learning along the way little tips and ticks to make the cookies stop spreading and ending up flat, such as chilling the dough in the fridge before baking and making sure your cookie trays are cold. However I found that despite my best efforts, I would still end up with flat cookies.

I then searched for the reasons why this occurred. There is in fact a science to all that sugar, butter and flour and after reading countless articles on the art of baking cookies, I discovered that the New York Times had the same issues as me a few years ago and David Leite set out on the quest to find the prefect chocolate chip cookie. He ended up publishing this article, which explains the science of producing the prefect chocolate chip cookie and after conducting his investigation, he formulating what has been regarded as the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. The article is a very interesting read and explains that using both bread and cake flour plays a very important role in producing cookies that are not flat as does letting the dough rest for at least 36 hours. Further, this resting time allows the flavours of the cookie to develop giving you a richer, tastier and all round more delicious cookie. The type of chocolate used is also important, plain old choc chips won’t suffice (sorry Nestle). Instead, disc of coventure chocolate are used as they melt beautifully to produce a rich, gooey chocolate cookie. The balls of dough also need to weight to  at least  about 100g (3.5 ounces)  in order to produce a cookie that is about 12 cm (5 inches) big. This way you can experience all the textures of the cookie that this recipe produced. That is a crisp outside, soft centre and the one and half inch ring in the centre where the two textures meet (told you it was scientific!).

The recipe also calls for a sprinkling of sea salt on top of the dough before it is baked which can transform the cookie as the tastes of saltiness beings out the caramel flavour. In How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science, Paula Figoni explains that salt changes the rate aroma molecules evaporate, resulting in a longer lasting flavor. Apparently salt in baked goods is all the rage now.

Anyway enough of the science, the main things you need to know is that these are by far the BEST chocolate chip cookies that have even passed my lips. They are beyond delicious. Eaten fresh the day they are made you will understand that the 36 hour wait is defiantly worth it. The chocolate is still melted and gooey and they have the most delicious toffee/caramel flavour. Crispy on the outside but soft in the centre, they are cookie perfection.

As the recipe requires the resting time, it does take some planning ahead. You may be tempted to bake the cookie dough straight away. Doing so will still produce a nice cookie, but to really experiment the New York Times wonder, rest the dough for at least 36 hours. It can be left in the fridge for up to 72 hours (if it lasts that long) and it also freezes well for 3 months ( ask Alex, his freezer is now full of glad bags contaninig carefully meaured balls of cookie dough, ready to pop right in the oven.)

I’m so glad that I finally had the chance to try these cookies. I declare this my go to recipe and with all due respect to Ms Wakefield, I will never look at the back of another packet of nestle choc chips again.

NY Times Cookies
Possibly the best chocolate chip cookies you will ever make
  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons(8½ ounces) cake flour
  • 1⅔ cups (8½ ounces) bread flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2½ sticks (1¼ cups) unsalted butter
  • 1¼ cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate disks, at least 60 percent cocoa content
  • Sea salt.
  1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds.
  4. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them.
  5. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees (170 degrees Celsius).
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
  8. Scoop 6 3½-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie.
  9. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more.
  10. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.
  11. Eat warm.
  12. Yield: 18 5-inch cookies.
Metric conversions: For the flour: 8.5 ounces = 241g For the sugar: 10 ounces = 283g 8 ounces = 226g You will need 282.5g of butter you will need approximately 500g of chocolate chips Other notes: I usually make you make 2 ounces cookies (57g) cookies as I found 3.5 ounce cookies are just a bit too big. for 2 ounce cookies you will need to bake them for 12-15 mins. All oven vary so keep an eye on the cookies. they are ready when the edges are slightly brown and starting to crisp up but the centre is still soft.they will harden upon cooling. if you use salted butter, dont add salt to the flour. Sometimes I sprinkle sea salt on the top before baking other times I dont. try it with both and see what you like best.