Florentines

Florentines copy

Florentines  are very rich and decadent in both appearance and taste. But they are such a lovely treat to enjoy with good coffee, good company or both!
I made a batch of these recently and packaged them individually in little cello bags, then gave one each as a small Christmas gift to a group of special running club friends.

They are very simple to make, but give an impressive result. I made quite largish sized biscuits and got 12 from this recipe. You could make them smaller of course, and stretch the recipe to more serves. I am slightly OCD and used a cookie cutter to shape the mixture into circles before I baked it. You can just plop it onto the trays though if you are happy with a more free form look.

Be sure that the biscuits are completely cooled before spreading the chocolate on the base, they are bit delicate so handle gently :)

Keep them in the fridge, and they will last for up to 2 weeks (but of course, in all honesty, they don’t actually last that long in my fridge because we eat them all in a matter of days!)

Florentines
 
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Recipe type: Baking
Serves: 12 large biscuits
Ingredients
  • 50g Brazil nuts
  • 50g slivered almonds
  • 65g sultanas
  • 70g glace cherries
  • 30g dried cranberries
  • 2 cups cornflakes
  • 200g sweetened condensed milk
  • 100g dark chocolate
Method
  1. Pre heat oven to 170 degrees and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Place Brazil nuts into bowl and chop speed 7, 2 seconds.
  3. Add all other ingredients except chocolate and combine reverse speed 3, 10 seconds.
  4. Use an egg ring or cookie cutter to help shape the mixture into rounds onto the baking trays. Or you can 'plop' it on if you prefer a free form look.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes until just golden.
  6. Once the biscuits have cooked and cooled, wash and thoroughly dry the bowl and place the chocolate in, grate speed 8 for 8 seconds.
  7. Melt the chocolate for 4 minutes, 50 degrees, speed 3.
  8. Spread the chocolate on the base of the biscuits and rest them upside down while it sets.
  9. Store the Florentines in the fridge if the weather is warm to prevent the chocolate melting.

 

Christmas Cake

ChristmasCake copy
We have lots of traditions that we share each year in the Christmas season, this cake is one of them. I have made this same recipe every year for 15 years. When I make this every member of the family contributes a ‘good luck stir and Christmas wish’ to the batter before I pour it into the tin to bake. I like to make this at the start of December, and let it sit for a few weeks, and we always cut the cake and share our first slice on my son’s birthday which is 2 days before Christmas Day. Did I mention how much I love traditions at Christmas?!

The recipe has a quirky Australian twist with the addition of beer to soak the fruit instead of liqueur. It gives a nice yeasty flavour to the cake. We don’t use the same beer every year, selecting the beer is my husbands job. He generally chooses a boutique beer (this year we used Boa’s Bind Amber Ale from Sail & Anchor – from Fremantle here in WA)
The ginger is the other flavour that I really love and makes this recipe stand apart, I love eating a slice of this and coming across a little gingery nugget of flavour.

The cake is made in two stages; on day one you chop and soak the fruit. You then leave the fruit mix overnight (or two nights if you like).
The second stage involves finishing the batter and then baking. Make sure you choose a day when you are at home for most of the day for this – as the baking time is up to four hours. If it is hot weather I sometimes bake in the evening. The smell of the cake cooking instantly sends me into Christmas mode.

There is a little bit of preparation time involved with this one, the Thermo does most of the hard work for you (fruit chopping and butter creaming) but the actual mixing is done by hand. You will need a really large bowl and really solid wooden spoon. Make sure you line the tin properly with three layers of baking paper. Sometimes lining the tin seems to be more fiddly than the cake making itself, but don’t skip this step! It is important to protect the cake while it bakes.

Enjoy the process, bake this cake with love, and share with joy at Christmas time with family and loved ones.  It is special :)

 

Christmas Cake
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Baking
Serves: Lots!
Ingredients
  • 250 g dates
  • 125g dried apricots
  • 250h raisins
  • 250g sultanas
  • 125g mixed peel
  • 60g glace cherries
  • 60g glace ginger
  • 375ml beer
  • 250g butter (at room temperature)
  • 400g honey (1 and ¼ cups)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ cups SR wholemeal flour
  • 1½ cups plain wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • Blanched almonds for decorating (optional)
Method
  1. Place dates and apricots into the Tmx bowl and chop speed 6-7 for 10-15 seconds until diced. Remove and place in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add raisins, sultanas, mixed peel, cherries and ginger to the Tmx and chop speed 6-7 for 10 seconds. Add to the dates and apricots in the large mixing bowl.
  3. Pour the beer over the fruit, mix well with a spoon and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel, and refrigerate overnight.
On the day of baking
  1. Prepare your tin. You will need a 25cm round spring form tin. Grease and line the tin with three layers of baking paper (greasing in between each layer) This may seem fiddly but it is important as the cake has a long baking time.
  2. Put butterfly attachment into the Tmx bowl and add butter and honey. Cream together speed 4 for 15 seconds.
  3. Add eggs and combine (with butterfly still in) for a further 10 seconds at speed 4.
  4. Add the butter mixture to the fruit mixture and stir by hand. You will need a sturdy wooden spoon for this!
  5. Add the mixed spice and two flours, in two batches, stirring in between to combine.
  6. Pour/dollop the cake mix into the prepared tin and smooth the top with your spoon. Decorate with blanched almonds if you like.
  7. Bake the cake in a slow oven - 150 degrees, or slightly less if you oven tends to run hot. The cake will take approximately four hours to cook, after 2 hours cover the top with foil to prevent it over browning. Check the cake often in the last 2 hours of cooking time. It can vary depending on your oven. Test with a skewer in the deepest part of the cake.
  8. Once cooked cool in the tin, overnight. Remove the tin the next day and store in the fridge. You can sprinkle a little brandy over the top while it is being stored.
  9. The cake will keep for up to three months. I like to wait about 3 or 4 weeks after cooking the cake before we start eating it, just to let the flavours develop.
Notes
I have provided the flour quantities in cup measures as they are measured into a mixing bowl not the Tmx bowl.

 

Muesli Bars (Nut Free)

MuesliBarsI have to hide these in the back of the freezer to stop my kids (and husband) eating them all at once. I think that is a good indicator of how yummy they are.
This was a recipe that my demonstrator gave me when I purchased my Thermomix, I have adapted it slightly from the original and made it many many times since.
It is nut free, so suitable for school lunchboxes, and freezes really well.
To prevent the bars being crumbly once cooked, use a very generous tablespoon of honey, and press the mixture down very firmly into the tin (I use the back of my MC to do this).
I cut the slice into bars, but you can also cut into squares for smaller portions.
This is definitely one to try for yourself – they taste so much better than anything you can buy from the shops.

Muesli Bars (Nut Free)
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Baking
Serves: 16 bars
Ingredients
  • 30g pepitas
  • 40g sunflower seeds
  • 5 dried apricots
  • 10 dates
  • 125g butter
  • 100g raw sugar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 95g rolled oats
  • 95g rice bubbles
  • 35g sesame seeds
  • 20g shredded coconut
Method
  1. Grease a slice tin and line with baking paper, extending above the sides.
  2. Place pepitas, sunflower seeds, apricots and dates into Tmx. Chop speed 6, 7 seconds.
  3. Remove from the bowl and set aside.
  4. Melt the butter, sugar and honey together at 90 degrees, 4 minutes, speed 1.
  5. Add all other ingredients including the seed/apricot/date mix and combine reverse speed 3, 30-40 seconds, scrape sides down part way through if needed.
  6. Press the mixture into the tin (use the back of the MC to press it down).
  7. Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes - but watch them closely, they can go from cooked to over-cooked very quickly!
  8. Let cool in tin and then remove and slice into bars.
  9. These freeze really well.

 

Butter Cake

ButterCakeOver the years I have made many many birthday cakes, in all shapes and sizes. Every year my kids pick a cake from the Women’s Weekly birthday cake book (sometimes months in advance) and making and decorating special cakes has become a lovely tradition. I almost always use butter cake as the actual cake base, this recipe is perfect as it makes a big quantity. Depending on the cake I either make two separate cakes, or one big slab to cut the shape from. This recipe is lovely and buttery and is very reliable (I have not had many fails!)
Of course I always ice with buttercream (you can find the recipe here)
You don’t have to be baking a birthday cake to use this recipe though. Recently I wanted to bake two cakes to give away, one as a housewarming gift for a friend, and one as a welcome home gift for my parents-in-law. So this recipe was great, two cakes from one batch. The batch of icing makes enough to cover both cakes also.

Butter Cake
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Baking
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 250g butter at room temperature
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 200g milk
  • 250g SR flour
  • 60g cornflour
  • 350g caster sugar (you can make your own in the Tmx)
  • 4 eggs
Method
  1. Grease and line two round cake tins. Pre heat oven to 180 degrees.
  2. If you are making your own caster sugar mill the sugar (for this quantity mill in two batches, 3 seconds, speed 9)
  3. Add butter to Tmx and melt, 100 degrees, 1 minute, speed 1.
  4. Add milk, vanilla and eggs (in that order - do not put eggs straight onto warm butter mix!). Combine speed 4, 10 seconds.
  5. Add flours and sugar, mix speed 5, 30 seconds.
  6. Pour batter into prepared tins and bake at 180 degrees.
  7. If cooking two cakes cook time will be 40 minutes.
  8. If cooking one large slab the cooking time is slightly longer; 50 minutes.
Notes
Cooking times can vary depending on your oven. Check towards the end of the specified time and remove when the cakes are golden on the top, and a testing skewer is removed clean.

Instead of making two cakes you can also make one large cake with this recipe. Which is often what I do when making birthday cakes that have to be cut into shapes. I use a large rectangular casserole dish when I need one slab cake.

 

Blueberry Muffins

BlueberryMuffins copyThe colour of blueberries is almost as appealing as the taste! Just be careful if your children are eating these – the blueberries can stain clothing! This recipe makes a large batch, either 12 jumbo sized muffins or 18 regular sized ones.  I keep frozen berries in the freezer all the time, they are good to have on hand for baking or to use in smoothies. If you don’t have blueberries you could also use strawberries , raspberries or a mixed berry combination. Just keep the quantity the same.

Blueberry Muffins
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Baking
Serves: 12-18
Ingredients
  • 50g butter
  • 75g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 160g milk or buttermilk
  • 90g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla (essence, paste or extract)
  • 330g SR flour
  • 20g dried apple
  • 160g frozen blueberries
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, line a muffin tray with muffin cases. I have an 18 hole muffin tin that I use for this recipe, if you are using a 12 hole tin use large cases if possible, or cook over two batches.
  2. Weigh the dried apple into the Tmx bowl and chop by turbo pulsing a few times. Remove from the bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the butter to the Tmx bowl and melt 100 degrees, speed 1, 2 minutes.
  4. Add all other ingredients except blueberries and dried apple and mix 20 seconds, speed 4-5.
  5. Add apple and blueberries and combine until just mixed through, reverse, speed 1, 10 seconds (use spatula to help mix through if needed)
  6. Spoon into prepared muffin cases and bake in 180 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.
Notes
This is a very thick batter to work with, but the finished texture of the cooked muffin is lovely. You may find it easier to fold the berries through the mixture by hand, with a soft spatula, rather than use the Thermomix (step 5).

 

ANZAC Slice

ANZACSliceIt was back to school this week for my kids, so quite a lot of lunchbox baking took place over the weekend to re-stock the freezer. This variation of good old ANZAC biscuits  is a favourite  and it freezes really well. It is it quick to make, doesn’t need icing, and the finished texture is nice and chewy and soft. I slice it and store it separated with layers of baking paper in the freezer.

 

ANZAC Slice
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Baking
Serves: 10-16 slices
Ingredients
  • 130g plain flour
  • 90g rolled oats
  • 65g desiccated coconut
  • 150g butter
  • 120g golden syrup
  • 75g brown sugar
  • ½ tsp bicarb soda
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line a slice tin with baking paper - extending above the long sides slightly. My tin measures 17 x 28cm.
  2. Add butter, golden syrup and sugar to the Tmx bowl and melt 100 degrees, 3 minutes, speed 1.
  3. Add bicarb soda to melted butter mixture and combine speed 3, 5 seconds.
  4. Add all other ingredients and mix together reverse, speed 2, 20 seconds.
  5. Press into prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes until golden on the top and the edges are just coming away from the sides of the tin.
  6. Let cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then lift out of the tin (use the baking paper to lift it out).
  7. Cut into 10 bars, or 16 squares.
Notes
This is quite a sweet recipe. You can reduce the sweetness by reducing the sugar to 35g.

 

Savoury Muffins

BaconMuffinsI like baking muffins. I find them very convenient for kids lunchboxes, they are portioned and ready to go. I freeze almost all of the muffin recipes that I cook, making them even more convenient – just get as many out as you need per day without having to defrost the lot. These are a good savoury alternative for lunchboxes and they are also really yummy to serve with soup for lunch. Eat them straight out of the oven whilst still warm – yum!  As with all muffin recipes be careful not to over mix or the texture will go rubbery. Mix until the ingredients are only just combined, this will give you a lighter and fluffier texture when cooked.

Savoury Muffins
 
Author:
Recipe type: Baking, Savoury Snacks
Ingredients
  • 25g Parmesan cheese
  • 100g cheddar cheese
  • 4-6 spring onions
  • 4 rashers bacon
  • 210g butter
  • 300g SR flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 230g buttermilk (or low fat milk)
  • 125g creamed corn
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease a 12 hole muffin tray (or prepare with liners)
  2. Place Parmesan into Tmx bowl and grate speed 8, 5 seconds. Set aside.
  3. Place cheddar cheese and parsley to bowl and chop speed 8, 5 seconds. Set aside.
  4. Add onions to bowl with bacon and chop speed 5, 5 seconds (note: if you like your bacon to be in larger chunks turbo pulse at this step for better control of 'chunkiness').
  5. Add butter to the bowl and then cook onion, bacon and butter mix at 100 degrees, reverse speed 1, 3 minutes.
  6. Add all other ingredients to the bowl, adding the flour first onto the bacon mix then other ingredients.
  7. Lock the lid and combine on interval setting for 20 seconds until just mixed through.
  8. Place into muffin tray and bake in 180 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until golden on top.
Notes
This makes 12 very large muffins. I often make smaller muffins and the recipe can stretch to 18.

 

Honey Spice Cake

HoneySpiceIsn’t the old plate in this photo gorgeous? I love it – it belongs to my Mum who lent it to me for photo taking purposes.  Thanks Mum!
This has quite a unique taste, a bit like a light ginger cake but the caraway and cardamom make it quite different. The flavours of the spices balance out the sweetness of the honey perfectly. I was unsure if my kids would like this – but they gobbled it up!
When milling the spice seeds don’t worry if they don’t mill to a fine powder, a few larger bits of seed give the cake a lovely crunch of flavour as you eat it.

Best enjoyed with copious amounts of tea,  drunk from beautiful cups with saucers :)

Honey Spice Cake
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Baking
Serves: 1 cake
Ingredients
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • ½ tsp cardamom seeds
  • 150g butter
  • 70g raw sugar
  • 250g honey
  • 225g SR flour
  • 2 eggs
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees, grease and line 23cm round cake tin.
  2. Place cardamom seeds and caraway seeds into Tmx bowl and mill speed 9, 20 seconds. Remove from bowl and place aside.
  3. Melt butter, honey and sugar at 100 degrees, speed 2, 3 minutes.
  4. Add flour, then all spices, then eggs. Mix speed 5, 15 seconds.
  5. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes until golden on top and a testing skewer is removed clean.
  6. I like to ice this with plain icing (just icing sugar, a little dob of butter and enough boiling water to make a smooth paste. I make mine the old fashioned way with a bowl and spoon as I don't use measurements, so like to judge the consistency as I go, but you can make icing in the Thermomix too of course)

 

Double Choc Muffins

DoubleChocMiffinsI cannot lay claim to the original of this recipe. I think it came from the back of a choc-chip packet once upon a time, but I have since converted it for the Thermomix. These are quite chocolately. For normal everyday muffins I use the recipe out of the Everyday Cookbook. But these are nice for when you need that extra chocolate hit, and they have more of a crumbly muffin texture (which I like).

Double Choc Muffins
 
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Recipe type: Baking
Serves: 12 muffins
Ingredients
  • 220g SR flour
  • 95g vegetable oil (or oil of your choice - make sure it is non-flavoured)
  • 110g milk or buttermilk
  • 100g castor sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 35g cocoa
  • 115 choc chips
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line muffin tray with cases
  2. Add flour, sugar and cocoa to the Tmx and mix 4 seconds, speed 5
  3. Add oil, milk, vanilla and egg to the bowl and mix speed 5, 5 seconds.
  4. Add choc chips as the last ingredient and combine 5 seconds, reverse speed 2 until choc chips are mixed through.
  5. Spoon evenly among cases (an ice cream scoop is good for this).
  6. Bake in 180 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until slightly crusty on the top and skewer comes out clean.

 

Banana & Cranberry Loaf

BananaCranberryBread copy
A bit of a twist on banana cake. Last time I made this I didn’t have quite enough cranberries so I did a mix of cranberries and choc chips (which was very well received by my three cake testers!) This recipe is dairy free also.
This can be made as a cake, or a loaf/bread. I have made it a few times as in a loaf tin and prefer it this way. Lovely to eat fresh from the oven or toast lightly under the grill and eat with butter as banana bread.

Banana & Cranberry Loaf
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Baking
Serves: Large cake
Ingredients
  • 175g SR Flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 2 bananas
  • 75g dried cranberries
  • Juice of one orange
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g sunflower oil
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees, grease and line a ring tin or loaf tin.
  2. Place all ingredients except dried cranberries into Tmx bowl and mix speed 5, 30 seconds.
  3. Add cranberries and mix reverse, speed 3, for a further 20 seconds until combined.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake 180 degrees for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. If using a loaf tin the cooking time may be slightly longer.
  5. Ice with lemon icing or cream cheese frosting.