English Lemon Cheesecake with Berry Compote



This is an egg free, no-bake cheesecake which has the perfect sweet/tangy balance.  There are many recipes out there with a similar basic recipe but I have (as i do) adapted this one for my own taste palate and tin size!

Serves 8 to 10


For the base:

16 digestive biscuits

120 g melted butter

For the cheesecake filling:

300 g condensed milk

300 ml double cream

300 g cream cheese

2 lemons

NOTE:   To increase the number of servings, I occaionally increase the measurements of condensed milk, double cream and cream cheese by 50g  if I have extra amounts handy.

For the compote

1/2 cup frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, summer fruits, forest berries or mixed)

1 tbsp jam or conserve (I use raspberry conserve)

1 heaped tsp sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice


  • Grease an 8 inch loose bottom cake pan
  • Crush the digestive biscuits leaving some larger bits (do not over crush).  Melt the butter in the microwave in ten second bursts.  Pour the butter into the crushed biscuits and combine.  Press this mixture into the cake pan and flatten down using the back of a spoon. Refrigerate while you make the cheesecake mixture.
  • Place the double cream in a large bowl and whip  until soft peaks.  Set aside.
  • Wash and dry 2 lemons. Roll them on a hard surface to soften slightly.  Grate the rind using a very fine grater. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze to collect the juice (no pips please!).  Mix the rind into the juice and set aside.
  •  In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese for 30 seconds until soft and smooth.  Slowly beat in the condensed milk until silky smooth.  Add in the double cream and whisk to combine. Add the lemon juice in gradually while mixing with the whisk.  You will notice the mixture thicken significantly.
  • Pour the cheesecake mixture over the biscuit base and chill for at least 6 hours.
  • To make the compote, place the frozen berries in a colander and briskly rinse under a tap.  Without losing the water and juice from the berries, quickly place them into a saucepan and set to heat on a low flame. Add the sugar and bring to the boil.  If it looks dry, add a table spoon of water at any stage.   Add the tablespoon of lemon juice and the jam and heat until it thickens slightly.  Take off the heat and pour into a serving bowl to cool down before placing into the refrigerator to chill.
  • To serve, remove the cheesecake from the pan and place on a serving dish.  Cut a slice onto a small presentation plate and add a heaped dessert spoon of the compote on the side.  Make sure after serving your guests, you take a nice piece for yourself and enjoy every last bite!






Coffee Buttercream Recipe


This deliciously smooth frosting is one of my favourites.  It goes very well with any cake flavour but best pairs up with coffee cake.  For a good coffee cake recipe click here.  If you do use this recipe, increase all the ingredients by 5o% so use 6 eggs, 12 oz flour etc.  Bake in two 9inch round pans. Then use the below frosting recipe to fill between the two cakes and cover. That will yield 12 generous servings.

My recipe for the coffee buttercream is slightly adjusted to the one in the link.


250g salted* butter softened to room temperature

2 cups of icing sugar

2 teaspoons of instant coffee (I used Columbian arabica) dissolved in a tablespoon of boiling water.


1. Beat the butter on medium high speed for 2 minutes.

2. Add the icing sugar 1/3 cup at a time, scrapping down the bowl regularly and beating with each addition. Occasionally a little less or more icing sugar may be needed to reach the desired consistency.

TIP: icing sugar has a tendency to fly everywhere so place a damp tea towel near the mixture to catch the dust.  If your mixer does not have a splash guard, place a damp tea towel on top too or stir each addition in carefully before starting the beaters.

3.  Slowly pour in the dissolved coffee with the beaters running.  Scrape down the bowl and give it a final beat on high for a minute or until whippy.

*I find salted butter produces a better result in baking and in frosting recipes compared to unsalted.

Most frosting recipes may look simple but can be tricky to get to the correct consistency.  This particular frosting is very easy to get a perfect consistency and taste.  Happy baking!

Frozen Berries and White Chocolate Muffins



This recipe is great when fresh berries are not available (either out of season or one of those ‘I need muffins now!’ times).  It uses frozen mixed summer fruits but I only used the blueberries, cranberries and raspberries.  I’ve made my own muffin wrappers which not only looks fabulous but allows me to make them extra large!

To make the muffin wrappers;

I made some using greaseproof paper and some using lined parchment.  The method is the same for both.  The greaseproof paper one looked more authentic (I’d like to try with white baking paper next time) but the lined parchment had the benefit of holding its shape better and didn’t show any grease marks.

I used this link to make these but the method is outlined below

Cut the wrappers paper into approximately 15 cm squares.  Place the paper centrally on an inverted glass just smaller than the diameter of the muffin tray holes and fold the paper around the glass.  Repeat for all 12 wrappers.


Lined Parchment


I also made some using greaseproof paper


Frozen Berries

Frozen berries will release a lot of fluids once thawed.  This can make your batter runny but worse still, it can cause pink and blue streaking in your batter discoloring the final result. Fresh berries do not cause this but as we are using frozen berries in this recipe, it is important to drain excess fluid from the berries.  To do this, place the berries in a colander, wash briefly under cold water and leave to drain for 30 minutes.  Most of the fluid will drain off as they thaw.  As an extra precaution, dry slightly on paper towels while you prepare the batter.



Liquid released from berries as they thaw


Drying excess liquid on paper towels




For the Crumble:

2 heaped tbsp plain flour

2 heaped tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 tbsp butter

For the muffins:

3 cups self raising flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup soft brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

100g white chocolate chunks or drops

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sunflower oil

1 tsp vanilla flavoring

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 1/2 cups frozen berries


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 165º C.  Place the ingredients for the crumble in a bowl and use the tips of your fingers rub the butter into the sugar and flour to make crumbs


    Crumble consistency

  2. In a large bowl place all the dry ingredients (flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and chocolate chunks).  Mix to combine.
  3. In a jug, place the oil, milk, vanilla, eggs and mashed bananas and whisk using a simple whisk.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and use a whisk to combine. Gently fold in the berries, to distribute, taking care not to streak the batter.  A little bit of streaking may occur but it doesn’t show up when baked.
  5. Use an ice cream scoop to put two scoops into each muffin case.
  6. Top with a teaspoon of the crumble topping.


    Top each muffin with the crumble mix

  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.


    After 30 minutes of baking. These muffins are BIG!

Cool the muffins to room temperature and store in a air tight container. Consume within 48 hours.

These make great lunchbox items or afterschool snacks!


My daughter enjoying her muffin while walking home from school






Salted Caramel Cake


Salted Caramel Cake

This dense flavor-packed cake featured on Junior Bake Off (the childrens version of The Great Brish Bake Off).  The kids were given 1hr 20minutes on the show but in reality you need double that if you want to allow for preparation and cooling. I didn’t use the recipe on the website so this is my own variation but I did get my daughter (the ‘junior’ part) to help out with the decoration.

This cake is all about preparation. You can prepare certain items before hand to make it easier to assemble especially if kids are helping out. You can also buy some of the fillings and decorative components to the cake e.g. caramel sauce, packet chopped nuts, dream whip/ squirty cream etc. Below is the recipe of the cake I made from scratch.

Ingredients Serves 16

8 oz Butter (Softened)

7 oz Caster Sugar

4 Eggs

9oz Self Raising Flour

Vanilla ( 1/2 a bean or 1 tsp extract)

3 to 4 tbsp. milk

1 cup caramel sauce –  I used this  salted caramel sauce recipe found on Sally’s Baking Addiction.

125g salted peanuts

400 ml double cream (600 ml if you include for the caramel sauce recipe above)

Butter Cream ( 3/4 cups butter and 2 cups icing sugar – see recipe details in the method)


Prepare the caramel sauce as directed on Sally’s website.

To prepare the chopped nuts:

Preheat the oven at 180C.  Place the peanuts on a baking tray lined with baking/greaseproof paper. Using a damp cloth, wipe the excess salt off the peanuts.  Bake the nuts until golden brown (about 20 minutes). Cool the nuts then crush using the end of a rolling pin.  Set aside.

To make the Madeira cake, cream the butter with the sugar until pale.  Add the vanilla. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Finally, fold in the flour, alternating with the milk until well combined.  Split the mixture between two round 9 inch greased and lined pans and bake in a pre-heated (160 C) oven for 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool cakes to room temperature. Trim the top of the cakes to remove the brown tops and uneveness (optional but the cake will have a cleaner finish when you cut into it)

Whip 200ml of the double cream to soft peaks.

Place one of the cakes on a serving plate or cake board with the base side of the cake facing the cake board. Spread 1/3 of the caramel sauce over the top. Cover this with the whipped cream and place the second cake on top with the base side facing upwards. Set aside while you make the butter cream.

To make the buttercream, beat 2/3 cup of butter until pale. Beat in 2 cups of icing sugar gradually adding a very small splash of milk to aid mixing.  Add the second third of the caramel sauce into the buttercream and beat until smooth and spreadable.

Using a hot palette knife, spread the butter cream over the top of the cake and down the sides.  Try and get the top of the cake as smooth as you can.

Press the chopped nuts into the sides of the cake. Use the palette knife to press the nuts neatly around the bottom edge of the cake tucking any stray nuts in.


Fill a piping bag (no nozzle) with the remaining caramel sauce.  Cut the tip to make a 5mm hole.  Pipe lines across the top of the cake about 1cm apart.  Next, run a toothpick perpendicular to the caramel lines to drag the caramel down to form a V. Continue along the top of the cake, each time going in the opposite direction to create the pattern.  This is the part my daughter enjoyed most!


To finish the cake, Whip the remaining cream (about 200 ml) and pipe a neat border around the top edge of the cake.


Salted Caramel Cake

Remember this cake contains fresh dairy ingredients so store in the refrigerator and take out 30 minutes before serving.

Imperfect Perfection

There used to be a time many years ago where I’d open a cake decorating manual and be amazed at the perfectly crafted birthday cake to which I’d wonder how they achieved such an immaculate finish. Whether the pictures were photoshopped back in the day or not, they certainly were presented in the best light,  set up in a flattering backdrop with a highly skilled photographer taking the shots. Regardless, the cakes looked great. Nowadays I can’t open a cake book without cringing at those same cakes.  The same cakes that once took my breath away now look painfully boring. The once vibrant colours look tacky and unoriginal and very dated.

Nowadays cake decorating is an art as well as a skill. The colours and textures around us, both natural and material, leave a creative mind saturated with ideas for his or her next project.  The internet has been a great resource for techniques, recipes, inspiration and sharing of experiences and ideas.  No longer is cake decorating institutionalized where a teacher in the later decades of life dictates what patterns and frills are acceptable and how you should configure your petal formation in a fondant rose.  I remember looking at my mothers creepy looking cake manuals (rather binded photocopies of recipes and past students work)  when she studied cake decorating at college.  All those little tools she had to buy of which she didn’t even use half. All that white, make that super white, fondant. I don’t remember any colour. Maybe a bit of pink for the roses. I always wanted to help but they had to be done a certain way.  Those perfect roses would look so old-fashioned if used on a cake now.  ‘Perfection’ has changed.  What was regarded perfect then is not what perfect implies nowadays. When it comes to cake decorating or when recreating original objects into another medium (like say,into cake!),  the concept of perfection likely lies somewhere between imperfectly fake and imperfectly natural.  Maybe this trend is a reflection from what has been happening in the fashion and beauty industries .  At the end of the day we make and produce things people want and we do that by being creative and  on trend and these two factors are influenced greatly by what surrounds us from other industries.

So how to translate IMperfectionism into cake design? Aim to have the cake looking like a cake! A Gucci handbag cake should still look like a cake! It should be well crafted but with some charm.  The client should want to cut into it! They wont feel like doing that if it looks rigid and over structured. Would you want to cut your designer handbag? Of course it’s not literally the same thing but how many times have you heard someone say ‘Its too nice to cut’? It’s a cake, it’s meant to be eaten and slicing into it is meant to be a pleasurable experience! Creating an imperfectly fake handbag cake should still be an immaculately  crafted cake. Some cake charm could be added where appropriate.   For example adding a bit of curve even if is not present in the original may add character.  Some highlighting on the fondant may make the look more succulent and more cohesive with what the cake tastes like on the inside.

So what about imperfectly natural? This applies to things that generally have some flow or growth. Water, flowers, people, animals and fabrics would fall under this category.  You want your flowers to look like roses but not so real people think they’ve come from the florist. Perfection is usually viewed but not always touched or handled. Are you more likely to stroke a perfectly groomed rose with its perfectly tightly wrapped fleshy petals or, to run your fingers through long uneven grass. Its similar with a lot of our senses. Textures excite us. A texture is an imperfection from the smooth. Textures in food is the same. Rustic looking cuisine has been in fashion for most of this century and its strength is just growing. The naked cake is just an example of how imperfectly perfect society really likes it!

rustic cusine

Rustic cuisine

Another dimension to the imperfect natural look is found in the virtual environment in which we live these days.  Virtually created scenery, animals and people have made us accept the unreal as real.  A ribbon of fondant rolled up to look like a rose is now an acceptable rose to place on a cake. It doesn’t have a single petal on it but we perceive it as a rose because our minds register having seen that image regarded as a rose perhaps in a cartoon or virtual setting. Opposite to this, but still in line with being imperfectly natural, fabric rarely drapes perfectly in real life but on a cake we drape fondant perfectly with no creases and sometimes no regard for gravity!

To summarise, a cake should be extremely well executed whilst maintaining that cake charm. The client should want to cut it with delight. Our perception of perfection has changed to keep up with fashion and the world around us.  What was never imagined before even in our dreams have been bought to life by virtual images.  The internet and social media has enabled cake artists and enthusiasts, home bakers and anyone and everyone to share pictures of their wonderful cakes online and so the expectations of clients are higher now than ever before. Better cakes are being produced with better flavours. The client will go where they are being delivered what they want and this no longer only includes the local bakery.


2015-02-11 20.04.29

Crunchy Krunchie Granola Bars

These wholesome nutty oaty granola bars are even tastier than the best of the ready-made ones out there.They are full of good ingredients, do not contain preservatives, are cheaper to produce and will store for weeks. It’s a recipe that’s been passed down in my family and it’s still made very regularly by my mum and aunts. Krunchie is a family favourite! You can have it for breakfast with your coffee or as your sweet treat in the evenings with your tea. It’s a healthy and handy snack for kids on the mornings they don’t feel like breakfast or when they’re on the go.  This recipe will make plenty so you can share with your friends and neighbours. Who doesn’t like Krunchie eh!


3 cups uncooked porridge oats

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 1/2 cups almonds (with skins) chopped lengthwise into slithers

1 1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1 cup packed soft brown sugar

1/2 tsp ginger powder

1/2 tsp nutmeg powder

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

2 tsp baking powder

300g butter

2 1/2 tablespoons golden syrup


Pre heat the oven at  160 C

Place all the dry ingredients in a very large mixing bowl

Melt the butter and golden syrup in a saucepan on slow/medium heat.

Pour the melted mixture into the dry ingredients and stir really well until everything has been coated with the butter mixture and is well combined

Press into a greased 15 inch round cake tray or any metal tray.  You can use two smaller ones if you don’t have a 15 inch round pan.  Smooth the top using the back of a clean spoon. The packed mixture should be 1cm deep.

Bake for 35 to 40 mins at 160C

Remove from the oven and cool for ten minutes.

Use a sharp pointed knife to cut the Kunchies into imperfect squares about 6cm x 4cm *

Use a flat spoon or palette knife to carefully remove the pieces.

Cool on a wire rack.

Store in an air tight container. Will keep for weeks but share some!

* I like the odd bits and ends that result from using the round pan but you can use square pans and keep the squares perfect if you like!

This post is dedicated to my lovely mother and aunts who have perfected this recipe over decades and have shared it with us all :))

Victoria Sandwich Cupcakes




Victoria Sandwich Cupcakes


Light fluffy cupcakes with a tangy, sweet jam and cream filling dusted with icing sugar.  Perfect for afternoon tea.

Makes 12


For the cupcakes:

4 oz butter (softened)

3 1/2 oz caster sugar

1/3 vanilla pod or 1/2 teaspoon of extract

2 eggs

4 oz self-raising flour

1 oz plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tablespoon milk


For the filling:

12 tsp good quality raspberry/strawberry jam/preserve

300ml double cream

2 tablespoons icing sugar


For the top:

Icing sugar to dust



1) Preheat an oven to 160 C. Line a cupcake tray with 12 cupcake liners. Sift the flours, salt and baking powder and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar for about 30 seconds using an electric whisk or until slightly pale. Add the vanilla and beat again.  Mix in the eggs one at a time beating each one into the batter before adding the next.  Fold in half of the flour.  Add the milk and combine. Fold in the remaining flour and then use the electric whisk for a quick blast to make sure the batter is well combined and smooth (about ten seconds using an electric whisk). Divide the mixture between 12 cupcake liners and bake on the middle shelf for about 15 minutes.  Insert a toothpick to test if the cakes are cooked through (should come out clean). Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about an hour.

2) Whip the double cream until nearly at the soft peak stage.  Add the icing sugar and whisk together until soft peaks are formed.  If you have over whipped add some milk until it loosens. Fill into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip

3) Use a sharp small knife to cut a cone shape out of the top of each cupcake to create a top and bottom layer. To do this insert the knife, at 45 degrees, close to the top edge of the cake and continue going around with the knife to cut a cone out.


4) Place the jam in a bowl with a tablespoon of water and heat in the microwave for 20 seconds. Spread a teaspoon of the heated jam onto the bottom layer of the cupcake.


5)  Pipe a generous amount of the whipped cream onto the jam filled bottom layer.  Tip: leave some jam exposed in areas so they look even more tempting!

20150213_0855546) Place the top of the cups cakes back on top and press down very gently.   20150213_085653 7) Dust with icing sugar and eat one at once!