Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Neighbours that can bake

Back in the good old days recipes were swapped across fences. The art of baking was a unifying force as the sweet waft of stoves in action filled streets. I can only imagine it would be a stroke of pure blessed luck to lob alongside cooks that were generous in knowledge and skilled in their craft.

Hence my delight that for the next little while the cosy south island of New Zealand is my home. Christchurch to be precise. A poor wounded city that is bravely rebuilding a future. A city with its fair share of quirks and snarls, but city with quite possibly some of the finest baking I have ever spied.

Let it go on official record that our Kiwi neighbours are damn fine bakers. Fingers crossed that during my NZ tenure I learn a trick or two from my fellow Antipodeans.

Check out this delicious assortment on offer at my local Saturday morning haunt - The Riccarton Markets - baking at its best!

The Kiwis are masters of sweet toothsome millimetre perfect slices. A cup of tea with out a little square of one of these is a wasted opportunity.

This is Anna - she bakes like a woman possessed every week to deliver cakes that are plump and bursting with interesting things. I stalk her stall every week to see what is on offer.

Each little home made morsel is as perfect as can be. The hazelnut ameretti are crunchy on the outside and sweet and succulent on the inside - just like they should be.

Row upon pretty row of macaroons at their picture perfect best, Rose with cinnamon happen to be my favourite, closely followed by salted caramel.

and yes the custard does playfully ooze from these beauties with each bite.

Even the much maligned doughnut is given a delicious twist and turned  irresistible by the deft hand of a Kiwi baker.

 If you want the low down on the biggest, best most delicious thing then just ask a hungry wide eyed boy on limited income!
 Yes New Zealand- with your fairy tale beauty and old fashioned hospitality - I think we are going to get along famously.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Look who has a new toy

Just in case it was the lack of a fancy long pointy nosed camera that was holding me back from blogging greatness.......

I hereby vow to only post photos of great quality and have celebrated accordingly with a most glorious cake.
Here she is straight from the oven-

Rhubarb with coconut crust cake


A bold handsome cake best served straight from the oven on a cold winter’s day. You can play around with the fruit to match the season and your mood, however the bitey tang and blush coloured hue of rhubarb always make a delicious cake.


For the cake

80g unsalted butter

275g brown sugar

2 eggs

½ teaspoon of vanilla essence

Grated zest of 1 small orange

230 g sour cream

300g self raising flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

400 g raw rhubarb cut into 1cm pieces


For the topping

50 g butter

2 Tbs cream

½ cup brown sugar

1½ cups shredded coconut

1.    Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 24cm spring form tin

2.    Cream the butter with sugar and add eggs, vanilla, orange rind and sour cream, mix well to make a smooth mixture.

3.    Briskly fold in the flour and the cinnamon to make a thick batter, to which 2/3 of the rhubarb is added.

4.    Spread mixture into prepared tin and scatter and press remaining rhubarb on top of the cake.

5.    Bake for 50- 60 mins or until a skewer inserted to the centre comes out clean. Trap for first time players....... make sure the cake is quite well cooked at this stage, as once the topping goes on it is only for a short while. Don't be scared of overcooking- with all of the lovely fruit and sour cream this is quite a moist cake and difficult to over cook.

6.    At the 45 min cooking mark start to prepare the topping. Combine butter, cream and sugar in a saucepan, allow to melt and form syrup then add coconut and cook, stirring constantly for another 2 min.

7.    Spread the hot topping over the cake when it is sufficiently cooked and return it to the oven for 15 mins until it forms a caramelized golden crust.
8. Serve warm with a hearty dollop of cream and hopefully a spot of sunshine.


Got any photography advice you would care to share over a cuppa?