On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place

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The sort of day a warm pudding makes perfect sense

The weather has been foul in Christchurch. We haven’t had snow (at sea level at least) to disrupt the normal work day routine, but it’s been bitterly cold with sleety showers and winds so strong our wee Fiesta was being buffeted about as I was driving to a client’s site.

It was the sort of day a warm pudding was forefront of my mind. These sorts of days make me feel like going home and making a fudgy pudding, or a self-saucing pudding. But I wanted neither of those things. I wanted something that would compliment the caramel sauce I needed to use up, and that would work perfectly with the half bottle of cream I had in the fridge.

Th makings of a winter pud

I knew Mr Fussy would love a ginger pudding, and when talking to Josie about it I commented on using the fresh ginger I had, and Josie said a microwaved pudding would be really quick to make. That lead to a discussion about how little our microwave is used to baking/cooking.

I did a quick search online and picked a random recipe. And what do you know? It used both fresh ginger and was a microwaved pudding. Not that I microwaved it.

The recipe was for 2 servings, but with 3 of us I decided to double the recipe. Talking of servings of 2, it really bugs me how difficult it is to buy pre-packed meat for 3. It’s not easy. In fact it’s often downright impossible and it stresses me out. Seriously.

The recipe said to add all the ingredients to a food processor, excluding the egg, and blend it all together, then add the egg and blend until mixed.

I went the old-fashioned way. And I mean really old-fashioned way. I hand beat it. It was quite the workout. But it did make me nice and toasty warm with all that vigorous activity.

Pudding bliss

And there we have it. Fresh ginger peeled and grated (with the zester) right from the freezer. And baked in a cake tin because all the “pudding” type cookware is in the garage and I preferred to stay indoors. I have my limits Smile

Oh, another thing in the favour of this recipe is that it’s a recipe by Chef Ainsley Harriott. He’s really funny. Have you seen his cooking shows?

Ginger Sponge Pudding adapted slightly from the BBC



  • Heat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
  • Prepare a suitable pudding bowl or cake tin (remember I doubled the recipe. I used my 6” cake tin) by greasing the sides with extra butter.
  • In a small measuring cup mix the egg and milk together and set aside.
  • Cream the sugar and butter, then add in the Golden Syrup and beat until it’s mixed in.
  • Add the grated ginger and mix into the batter.
  • Add the flour and begin to mix in, then add half the egg/milk mixture and gently mix to incorporate.
  • Finally add the remaining half egg/milk liquid and gently mix into the batter.
  • Spoon the batter in the prepared pudding/cake tin.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, checking every few minutes from 20 minutes.
  • The sponge is cooked when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Wait 5 minute before serving.

My Notes:

I used a wooden spoon and man-power to mix the batter but feel free to use a food processor as described in the original recipe, or hand beaters. Whatever you prefer.

I baked the sponge in a 6” cake tin for 20 minutes, then rotated the pan and continued to cook until it reached 30 minutes. This was for double the recipe.

Using a bigger dish means the cooking time will be less due to more surface area being exposed during baking.

Pudding caramel and cream

The pudding is really light, not just in colour (on the inside, I swear it’s not as dark as it looks in the photo above), but in texture. The edges had a nice crispness to it. Mr Fussy said “nom”. That’s all, just took a first bite and said “nom”. This is his serve and all he wanted was caramel sauce over it. He doesn’t like cream.


The ginger is fabulous. I knew when the pudding was almost baked because the smell from the oven said GINGER. I love the smell of ginger, and I love the flavour too but not nearly as much as Mr Fussy and he clearly gave this pudding his approval. So it’s just as well there’s plenty for tomorrow.

As for me, well I’ll take whatever’s going.

Ginger pud with lashings of cream and caramel sauce

Disappointingly the caramel was overpowered by the ginger and I could only taste it in one mouthful. Never mind, it’s still a very noble way to use up the sauce.


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Strawberry layered cake for lunch

Strawberry Layered Cake2

I’m a little delayed in getting this cake written up. But I was a tad busy in the kitchen this weekend which left me little to no time to sit down, for anything.

We’ve had some of our Australian team visiting for a few weeks, and that combined with one of our Consultants leaving on Friday was cause for a shared lunch.

This cake recipe I used to make one of the layers for the cake I made for Mother’s Day, except it wasn’t right. I made a change thinking it wouldn’t matter (replace Strawberry Jelly powder with freeze dried Strawberry powder), but it did. Add to that I wrapped the cake up and put it into the freezer before it was completely cooled, meant I was doomed.

This is what the cake should have looked like.

Pink cake batter

Yep, now we’re talking. A properly pink cake batter. Not that greyish colour I ended up with using the strawberry powder. Oh, and I have proper cake flour! I’ve grown tired of substituting cake powder with a few tablespoons less standard flour replacing those tablespoons with cornflour. That’s not such a big deal. But sifting it 5 or so times is a couple of minutes (and mess) I could spend doing something else, like sitting down Winking smile

What I have found is that spraying the cake pans with Wilton Bake Easy and then flouring the tin (as directed) leaves this thick coating around the cakes, as you can see in this first photo.

Filling and covering a layered cake

Notice how little frosting I had left for decorating? That’s a 12” disposable bag, that’s barely holding any frosting. I was a bit miffed. What I wanted to do wasn’t going to happen. I wanted to pipe a border around the base and do something different to the top than what I ended up doing.

The other disappointing thing was the colour of the frosting. The strawberry puree added some colour as expected, but it was far from pink. There’s a whole lot of butter in the frosting. I expected that it would leave the frosting a little “yellow” but even adding a touch of electric pink food gel wasn’t making a difference. So the vintage flower I’d made (and had to remake) wasn’t going to be used because it was pink (well a mottled pink and white) and that frosting was quite apricot in looks.

Not so pink frosting

Often there’s cake at work. Sometimes for someone’s birthday, sometimes because we’re celebrating some work achievement. One of my bug bears is to see a perfectly good cake hacked by someone too eager to get a piece and with complete disregard for the number of pieces that could be sliced to give more people a taste.

So I’m sort of the official cake slicer. Yes I get paper towels to wipe the knife clean(er). The knives at work are not really the types you’d expect to make tidy clean slices without tearing at the cake.

It will come as no surprise to you that I bought my own knife a tea towel (for wiping the blade clean) and a cake slice. You could look at it that I’m well prepared given the opportunity, or I have a few issues that need (?) to be worked out.

The official cake slicer

So after the first slice, which I proceeded to photograph with my Samsung Galaxy III, I managed to then get 16 slices from the cake.

There had been a few ooh’s and ahh’s when people spied the cake, but then there was so much cake! So much cake that each cake had left-overs. Which suited me. I could bring a slice home for Mr Fussy and try to do what I could with it for taking a photo in a better environment.

Even layers

This poor slice was an abandoned piece that ended up with another slice laid over it – hence the out of place crumbs in the frosting layers. But those layers are perfectly flat and that’s thanks for the Wilton cake strips. It makes the task of decorating a lot easier and quicker.

Straight sides

While the tops were nice and even, the shrinkage of the cake in the pans differed enough to make frosting the sides a slower job to make sure that I ended up with nice straight sides. I think it worked out well enough. I just wish the top was a bit cleaner. But there’ll be plenty more opportunities to practice and this is a touch better than any cake I’ve frosted that didn’t have some sort of frosted pattern up the sides.

I used my bench scraper which is generally used for when I’m working with dough but it’s often mentioned as a handy way to get straight sides on a cake.

So after all this, the recipe I used is found on Rosie’s blog Sweetapolita. Rosie found it on allrecipes and adapted it slightly. I didn’t look at the original recipe to see what those adaptions were.

The cake is really moist. So moist that the doily stuck to the cake. I had to keep warning anyone taking a slice to remember to peel off the paper.

First slice

There seemed to be mixed reaction to the frosting. I saw that some people had left the frosting from the top of the cake on their plate, and others mentioned how much they loved the frosting and that it wasn’t too sweet. So like all things in life, one thing will be many things to many people. You might notice that while I can cut a cake into nice even slices, I seem not to have mastered (yet) how to get a good cut to ensure each layer comes to the same point.

Little pearls

You can see some of the puree through the frosting. You can of course strain the strawberry puree which will eliminate most of the bursts of reddish pink popping out of the cake. While I couldn’t use the fondant flower I’d made, I used two different sized white pearls to give the cake a little bit extra interest. Mr Fussy, who ate that slice I bought home thought there was something crunchy in the cake, he had quite forgotten the little pearls on top of the cake.

If you’re looking for a bright colourful cake for a birthday then I think you can’t do better than this. I baked the cake on the Tuesday evening, popped all the layers in the fridge (after completely cooling them) and then decorated the cake Wednesday night, returning the cake to the fridge. I can tell you the frosting set as you’d expect when a good chunk of it is butter. But during the ride into work I began to smell the cake and it really didn’t seem to take long before the frosting was beginning to soften.

Strawberry Layered Cake1

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Not looking forward to the power bill

Our last power bill arrived on Friday. It’s the highest bill we’ve ever had. And it’s not yet Winter.

But did that stop me from using the oven this week?  No.

I’ve got so much to share. It’s almost frightening all the things that have happened this weekend I want to jot down and share on my blog.

Thank goodness this time next week we’ll be in Melbourne and I’ll have a week of shopping, relaxing, and catching up on my posts.

But in the meantime here’s a preview of what I’ve got tucked away ready to give a blow by blow account of.

Let’s start at the very beginning. That would be Friday. This is a progression of the weekend from start to finish.


I first made Lemon Curd because I wanted to have the lemon curd with soft whipped cream on the waffles I was making.

So following the curd came making the waffle recipe which used yeast and had an overnight rest.

We had waffles for breakfast both Saturday and today.

Start to finish - Waffles

This morning I more of less had dessert rather than breakfast. I used the caramel sauce I made a few weekends ago with chopped up banana. Oh my goodness. What a terrific way to start off the day!

But we’re not yet finished with Friday.

If there was one thing I really wanted to put to bed this weekend it was finding out if I could make an Angry Bird fondant topper. But to begin with I needed to make the cake balls. I used a 9” strawberry cake layer I had in the freezer with some left over strawberry frosting and I was good to get rolling.

Cake balls

Alastair at work, one of our Account Managers, was kind enough to buy me some liquid egg whites which he’d seen on one of his many trips to Wellington. What he’s doing in the supermarket I’m unsure of, I must ask. Anyway the egg whites were best by 1 June and we’re away so there’ll be no baking being done for a week. What intrigued me was the note on the back of the packet saying “not suitable for whipping”. So I had to experiment, right?

Liquid Egg Meringues

These actually might have been great had I not burnt them. I gave the best to my sister with a bottle of cream and some frozen berries and suggested she crumble them up and serve it for pudding.

Ok, Friday done and dusted.


Other than the waffles for breakfast, that was it until mid afternoon. I was off to Mercato, meeting mum there, to learn about tempering chocolate, making ganache and understanding all sorts of things about chocolate. I had a thoroughly good time, learnt a ton of new information, sampled everything that was made (and there was a lot!) and handed around (cocoa nibs, and all sorts of Valrhona goodies). I then proceeded to buy a bunch of stuff in preparation for home made pizzas for Sunday.

I had a late start arriving home after 3pm but got onto a Lemon Meringue Tart. I got the recipe from a French blog, but the lemon cream is the same I have previously made. Both the dough and the lemon cream needed to be made a day ahead.

Stages of a Lemon Meringue Tart

And tonight I made Italian Meringue. I’ve never made it before. And I learnt heaps.

Made Saturday, and completed Sunday. I started the day with more or less dessert, and ended the day the same way.

I’m not yet done with Saturday, because I decided to get cracking and try to make an Angry Bird character.

The first Angry Bird I made wasn’t particularly “angry” looking. So with a bit of feedback from Facebook I re-made the red bird on Sunday. Oops, I just realised I deleted all the photos I took of it because it wasn’t right.

Here’s a few photos I took on my phone.

Red bird, first attempt

To round out the evening I made yet another batch of meringues. This was using rehydrated egg albumen. I was almost certain it wouldn’t work and secretly glad that I would be able to just wash the bowl and sit down. But oh no. It actually worked. Not wanting to over cook the meringues this time I turned the temperature down and checked the meringues every 10 minutes from 40 minutes on. And guess what, they seemed dry at around 80 minutes and this morning when I touched them, they’re tacky. Geez.

Egg Albumen Meringues


Well there was a repeat of Waffles. They were so light and crisp.

Then it was onto rolling the dough for the tart, letting it sit in the fridge for 3 hour before baking, then filling it an hour before adding the meringue. And as I mentioned, making an Italian meringue. It’s the type of meringue you make for a Bombe Alaska. It’s cooked when the boiling liquid syrup is slowly added to the egg whites. But it’s not all that attractive stark white. And without a little butane torch I popped it under the grill for to brown.

During the morning I made 2 other characters from Angry Birds and repeated the red bird. I reckon I proved I can make these, well at least these 3 characters.

Angry Bird characters

I made a quick lunch using puff pasty filled with a nice Cranberry chutney, shaved ham and Cheshire cheese. It’s a recipe I used before and have blogged about in the past. Really simple, quick and easy and full of flavour and texture.

Following lunch I made a quick batch of Mr Fussy’s Vanilla cookies. He almost begged me not to make cupcakes. He’s over them. And I don’t blame him at all. So am I, but I didn’t have any last week, and only 1 the week before. It’s been left to Mr Fussy to eat them ALL. But he loves his Vanilla cookies and they’re a breeze to make.

So along with the cookies I made the pizza dough. This is a recipe I’ve made several times now and love. This time I used Wholewheat flour as the original recipe calls for but in the past I’ve used Semolina flour instead.

V Cookies and Pizza Dough

Then I had just enough time to prep pumpkin and kumara for roasting, along with another clove of garlic and get all the meat and other veggies cut ready for making pizzas. There’s quite a lot of work to do all that.

I found a little bit of time to tend to my worm farm, fold laundry and trim some trees before getting properly stuck into making dinner, and that meringue.

So I owe anyone here reading a few detailed posts about all of this, and for me too. I refer back to my own recipes when I want to remake something.


It’s been a very adventurous weekend, I’m exhausted but I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. Thank goodness there’s just one week of work before a holiday. At this pace I’m going to wear myself (and the oven) out.


The search is over

I have in my hot little hand (bench) a Waffle Maker!

Cuisinart WAF-RA

This has been on my wish list since before Christmas.

My brother told me I didn’t need to spend a lot of money, just get one from K-Mart. That made me feel good. I didn’t have to spend a fortune to get decent waffles.  But do you think I could find one that I cared for? I admit I’ve not looked in K-Mart (or have I?) but I’ve looked in Farmers, Briscoes and online, a lot online.

Last week I read a post by Deb from Smitten Kitchen for a Waffle recipe and I was again feeling like I was missing out because I simply didn’t have a waffle maker.

I remember the brunch with Louise and Simon over New Years where we had waffles. Waffles always make me think of Louise and Simon. Simon in the kitchen whipping up the egg whites just before making the waffles, and his story about how he came upon their waffle maker, it was a real find.

But I didn’t have a waffle maker and I wanted to make those glorious waffles for myself when I wanted.

Then Monday saw a subscription email to The Home Essentials arrive in my inbox. Quite often I just delete the email without even looking at the details, but Monday I scanned the list and there it was. On special no less.

Waffle Iron

The book that came with the waffle iron has heaps of recipes. I’ve already eyed up a couple that I’m really keen to make. Lemon Blueberry, and Lemon Ginger (using fresh grated ginger) which Mr Fussy will hopefully be pleased with. The Lemon waffle recipe uses buttermilk and yoghurt. We wont mention the yoghurt, I’m sure he wont even notice.

There’s a recipe for Apple and Walnut I’m keen on too, but Mr Fussy wont have it since it’s got walnuts in it, and you add a bit of cinnamon to the maple syrup. But so many possibilities.

Loads of recipes

This week I made a layered cake which I took into work today, it used Strawberry Puree. I’ve got some puree left and was secretly hoping the waffle iron would turn up in time for this weekend. And then last weekend when I made the Double Chocolate Berry Layered Cake I ended up with some frozen (then thawed) berries left over. I’ve got everything sorted for waffles this Saturday. I can’t wait!

But I’ll be using Deb’s recipe first, and pestering Louise to see if Simon will share his recipe (hint hint Louise!).

Here’s a sneak peak of the cake I took for a shared lunch today at work. I’ll write it up over the weekend.

Strawberry Layered Cake2

Lastly, on a different but related matter, I’ve just been delivered a packet of dried egg white. So if I do get Simon’s recipe and it only needs egg whites I wont have to feel guilty about wasting the yolks. And one of the Account Managers at work mentioned New World in Wellington sold packs of raw egg whites, and he bought me a pack yesterday which I’ll get tomorrow.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream can now be made in abundance without scrambling for recipes to use up the yolks. It’s only a problem during winter when a custard based ice-cream really doesn’t have a place in our freezer.

I’ll be sure to let you know how each type of egg white works out for both the SMBC and Royal Icing for cookies. Though I do have some RI in both the fridge and the freezer so probably wont need to whip up any in the next few weeks.

Right, off to watch New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker.

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Italian Lasagna Rolls and a confession

First off the whole American Internet copyright scares me. So I’m only linking to the recipe and I’ll explain the changes I made. That wasn’t the confession.

This is another recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. I love Mel’s blog. She’s so down to earth with her meals, and that’s just what I want. Great tasting meals that don’t require a massive amount of energy and time. Though there’s a few steps involved in this recipe due to making a Ricotta filling, making the meat sauce and assembling the rolls. But it wasn’t difficult and it was sort of fun.

Italian Lasagna Rolls

Ok, to the confession. I’ve never EVER used Ricotta. I don’t even think I’ve had anything that had Ricotta as an ingredient, at least not knowingly.

I’d saved Mel’s recipe the moment I read it. Gotta love being able to subscribe to your favourite food blogs. I was actually concerned about what Mr Fussy would say to having Ricotta. I had planned to make this meal this weekend and blow me down if Mr Fussy didn’t order Chicken Cannelloni with a stuffed Ricotta filling while we were out for dinner Wednesday. And he didn’t turn his nose up at anything. He’s just now said he didn’t know what Ricotta cheese was.


I guess you could make this a lot simpler if you’ve got a favourite Pasta sauce. I used mince. It’s from one of Karen’s cattle. I bought quite a bit of the beast. There wasn’t a lot of fat that came off the mince. I bought the pasta many weeks ago when visiting the Mediterranean Food Company. A favourite of mine. I must get along to Mercato too. I always get a few extras than what was originally on my shopping list. To avoid another shop on Saturday I picked up a tin of tomatos from the Supermarket. They were also Italian. I was curious to see whether there’d be any difference.

Italian Tomatos

Look past the inconsistent lighting of the two photos. On the left is my usual tin of tomatos I get from the MFC, on the right the tin from the supermarket. The supermarket sourced tin had a lot more juice. I think there was about $0.50 difference. I’m much happier paying a little extra from the tinned tomatos I get from the MFC.

As for making these rolls. I can tell you it’s a fiddly job when your thumb is encased in a plaster.

Lasagna Rolls in the making

Ok, that’s the sanitised version of what was really happening. It wasn’t hard, the lasagna sheets were quite pliable after having cooked 4 minutes, the amount of time on the packet. I did worry they wouldn’t be cooked enough, especially when they’re so long and I was trying to cram them into what I refer to as one of my larger pots.

A messy job

I wasn’t wasting anything. I just picked up the baking paper and then let the filling fall over the top of the rolled lasagna, after all I was putting more meat sauce over it anyway.

So what of the changes I made to Mel’s Italian Lasagna Rolls.

  • I used fresh Basil in the Ricotta filling because I had fresh and my philosophy is if you’ve got it, use it. I know that means you need a lot more fresh to equal the depth of flavour of dried. I chopped about 2 Tbls of fresh basil in place of the dried basil.
  • I added another egg yolk to the Ricotta filling. I’ve got egg yolks coming out my ears thanks to the Swiss Meringue Buttercream I made. What’s another egg yolk between friends.
  • I also had fresh Thyme I used that instead, again more fresh than the dried Thyme the recipe calls for.
  • I didn’t have quite enough tomato sauce. I used 2 Tbls of Tomato concentrate to make up the difference. My bottle was 330ml and the recipe calls for 15oz. I made it up to 15oz which was only about 1/2 cup more.
  • I had roasted a garlic bulb Friday night. I used two cloves from that.
  • I used 1 small onion. It seemed about the amount of  1/2 cup of chopped onion.
  • I don’t have black pepper at all. I used ground peppercorns.
  • And it’s ok to use whole tomatos. Just use a wooden spoon, or even a potato masher to squish the tomatos. Once the sauce is cooked and reduced all those tomatos are soft and mushed up anyway.

That’s it.

Ricotta filling spilling

And of the Ricotta cheese?  Well nothing in the meal tasted of anything distinctive (except a bit of peppercorn I got). So I guess it’s alright Smile

And as a bonus this meal is going to do two rounds. So that’s a nice quick meal during the week.


Double trouble and welcome to the neighbourhood

It’s been a long time coming, making a recipe from Deb’s blog Smitten Kitchen. But I got there. This is the Double Chocolate Layer Cake.

Here’s the first double. Cake and cupcakes

Welcome neighbours

Chocolate or Berry

And while we’re at it, Chocolate or Berry?

The recipe is for 2, 10” cakes. I really wanted to make Mr Fussy some Raspberry filled cupcakes, and I thought it would be nice to bake a cake for the new neighbours that moved in last Friday. However we didn’t have enough Raspberries, but we had heaps of bags of frozen mixed berries. So mixed berries it was.

Anyway, after reading over 200 comments on this one post on Deb’s blog I was settled on making a 6” layered cake and using the rest of the batter to make cupcakes. So cupcakes for us, cake for them.

There were a lot of people commenting on making the cakes in 9” pans and having the batter pouring over the top. Deb (and another blogger who made the recipe) said that there’s very little rise when baking. So here’s my 6” cakes, in a 3” deep pan. The batter uncooked measured 3cm, and here’s the cupcakes before and after.

3cm to this

Rising to the occassion

With all due respect, this recipe does have more than adequate rise to it. So be warned if you’re making this recipe and trying to cram the mixture from a 10” cake into a 9” cake pan.

The original plan was to bake a two layered cake for Darren and Teresa (I think I have the names right), but when the cakes came out I knew it was going to be rediculous making a layered cake with these two. Change of plan. Split each cake and make two layered cakes. There’s the second double.

Once the cakes had cooled I wrapped them in Gladwarp and put them in the freezer while I got cracking with the Berry filling, and then moved onto the Swiss Meringue Butter Cream.

The details

Funny thing making the SMBC. Or not. After last week’s 2nd ever time making this and finding the bowl was so hot that it took an extraordinary amount of time to cool the mixer bowl before beginning to add the butter, I used a different bowl to heat the egg whites and sugar thinking this might alleviate some of the heat by then transferring the mixture to the KitchenAid bowl when it was time.

Nope, as soon as I transferred the mixture it immediately heated the KA bowl and I was again grabbing a towel and dousing it in cold water and wrapping it around the KA bowl. In the end it still took a really long time so I did as Carol mentioned on the Facebook page, and I put the bowl into a sink filled with cold water. I did this when the meringue was really thick and glossy and I was ready to swap from the whipping attachment to the usual mixing paddle. And this was about 20 minutes into mixing the meringue.

French tip

I thought it was time for a slightly different view of the cake to keep you from nodding off while I blabber on about the SMBC experience.

Anyway after the bowl was cooled off I began to add the butter which was cool but not cold out of the fridge. First I didn’t have unsalted butter. I didn’t think it would make a huge difference. I just wouldn’t add the salt with the vanilla to the recipe. Hah! It’s amazing just how much salt there is in normal butter because it was really obvious. But not a nasty “oh I’ve ruined it” surprise. I actually liked it. Even though SMBC isn’t as sweet as normal frosting it’s still sweet. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of sugar still in the recipe, it’s just white sugar, not icing sugar.

I had the wet towel draped over the top of the KA because the motor was till hot and my head very close to the bowl looking to see that each chunk of butter had been fully mixed in before adding the next few cubes. While I was watching, and anticipating adding another two batches of butter (85gm left I might add) I noticed the mixture changing. I actually thought it was about to curdle.

Double everything

By the way, these photos are all of the cake I gave the neighbours, but I promise I made two. You’ll see.

The SMBC wasn’t curdling at all, it was just at the right stage for turning glossy and velvety. Which meant there was no need to add anymore butter. Right? Well I stopped anyway.

The SMBC weighed 1353gm, I made the same quantities as last weekend. 10 cups of SMBC. That’s 9 egg whites. That’s a lot of yolks that I’m still trying to decide what to do with. I’m looking to buy Egg Albumen. I’ve found a couple of options on TradeMe. They’re for weightlifters, but it’s just dried egg whites. What do you think? I hate wasting all those egg yolks. And I can use the dried egg whites for Royal Icing too. I’m not fond of the Wilton Meringue Powder. The CK brand was nicer.

I measured the 353gm into a bowl and added a few dessert spoons of the mixed berry filling to it, and a little bit of Electric Pink Americolor gel to it. I probably didn’t need it. I actually didn’t see any change in the colour. So pretty much all the colour is from the berries.

The remaining 1kg of SMBC I added Whittaker’s Ghana chocolate (70%), I can’t remember how much because I had some that I’d melted last weekend and didn’t use, and then a further 6 pieces. It wasn’t as dark as I was going for but I was too lazy to melt and cool some more before mixing it in.

double trouble

Told you I made two Smile

I got a little distracted when I was torting the cake and while trimming the top I didn’t see that some of the side had broken off. That made the top of the cake the bottom layer to ensure the two little bits that broke off weren’t going to collapse from the side and give me all manner of grief when covering it with SMBC.

At least I didn’t have to make a decision about which cake was being given away. If you want to make a good first impression, give away the best. I guess the fact I turned up there still rubbing meringue off my face and with my yellow croc gardening shoes didn’t really help with a good first impression. Perhaps they overlooked that for the cake.

Anyway, what’s left to talk about?  Ahh yes, the photo up above with the cupcakes and the double coloured frosting.

I decided that if it was good enough to use Gladwrap for RI to then make it easier to put into a piping bag, then it was probably good enough for SMBC, but I went one step further and decided to bundle the Chocolate and Berry into the same bag. It mostly worked out well. Except the house was so hot that the frosting was softening to the point it was becoming difficult to pipe with.

And if you’re wondering about how to make a hole in a cupcake for filling, the apple corer works nicely. Except these cupcakes (and cake) are super moist and squishy that you’ll end up clogging up the end of the corer making it a little untidy. But you can always put the cupcakes in the fridge for 30 minutes. I’m sure that would help, in the same way putting the cakes into the freezer before torting helps.

Mum had wondered if the Strawberry huller would work. It does. But it doesn’t make quite as neat a job as the apple corer. I suspect more homes have an apple corer than a strawberry huller anyway. Though I wouldn’t be without my strawberry huller.

Mixing it up

I’m utterly hopeless with the French tip. I can manage this piping but I can’t not pipe a uniformed round. I tried. I scraped the SMBC off and re-piped it. The fact the SMBC was too soft didn’t do me any favours either. I popped that back in the fridge and waited (impatiently) until it had cooled some before having another go at piping.

Chocolate berry layered cake

Lord knows what we’re going to do with another 5 slices of cake and 18 cupcakes. I have to confess that when I make cakes or cupcakes I tend to snack a little as I work. That’s another reason I’m enjoying making cookies. There’s nothing to nibble on. The trimmings from the top of the cakes, the centres I extracted for the berry filling, all gone, as well as sharing one undecorated cupcake with Mr Fussy to “test” the texture to confirm it was just as Deb and most of her 200+ commenters said.

To recap: the recipe I made as written by Deb with the following changes. Instead of 1 1/2 cups of coffee I had 20ml of Bushells Coffee and Chicory Essence and added boiling water to make 1 1/2 cups of liquid. I used  85gm of Whittaker’s Ghana chocolate (70% cocoa). I used mixed berries instead of Raspberries for the filling. The batter weighed 2247gm. I put 600gm into each of the x 6” baking tins and got 19 cupcakes. The cakes still took 60 minutes to bake. The cupcakes 21 minutes.

The recipe from Rosie made 1353gm of SMBC. It was sufficient to crumb coat and frost both 6” layered cakes and frost 18 cupcakes. I have quite a bit of the chocolate left and enough of the mixed berry to frost a couple more cupcakes. All left over frosting is in the freezer.

Double delight

I quite like only having the berry filling between the layers. It didn’t ooze out and it’s difficult to detect , but it’s there. It’s quite subtle but served with the left over berry filling it ramps up all those lovely fresh berry flavours.

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Bored with potatos, why not rice?

We’re only just getting settled into winter meals and I’m already bored with potato. We don’t just boil potato, well I par boil and then toss them in oil sprinkle on salt throw in some garlic and sprigs and rosemary and roast, but not just plain boiled potatos.

Rice doesn’t feature in our usual rotation. Mr Fussy doesn’t rate it at all, except of course that Portuguese meal I made where he was very keen on the whole meal, but especially the rice.

You have no idea what it meant to hear that he really liked the rice.

Given we were out for dinner last night and Mr Fussy did herbed potatos the other night, I’m not sure why I’m feeling “over it” when it comes to what to serve with dinner.

I saw we had chicken drum sticks in the fridge, I think I was actually over the way Mr Fussy cooks drum ticks. It’s either an Apricot Cook in the Pot or it’s liberally doused with a Southern seasoning from a package. Always too much, so much that the seasoning is still dry on the top.

I don’t really go for lots of spicy things, and I find the seasoning a little too much for me.

I suggested we use the bottle of Peri Peri sauce I bought some months back and mix it with some cream to help reduce the heat, and that I’d make rice. Make rice? Mr Fussy was OK with the idea. Of course I didn’t know what I was going to do with the rice and didn’t want just plain white rice on the plate.

You’ve got to love Google. After sifting through a number of recipes, all discarded for various reasons, ingredients or quantity of ingredients, or time. Yes time. I best get cracking because everything else was cooking and there wasn’t anything resembling a rice dish.

I got there.

Mexican Rice

And it was actually quite good, full of flavour and nicely cooked.

Easy Mexican Rice by Chef in You


1 cup long grain rice, soaked in water for 10 minutes 

1 tsp oil

  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno chile (remove ribs and seeds if you can’t handle the heat)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced (or as per taste)
  • 1 tbsp Tomato paste
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups vegetable stock (or water)
  • Salt to taste
  • Few sprigs of cilantro to serve
  • Juice of 1 small lime (optional)


  • Put a fry pan on medium heat and add the oil
  • Drain the rice and add to the fry pan. Gently move the rice about every few minutes.
  • In a blender add the chopped onion and chopped tomatos and blend to a puree.
  • Once the rice has become translucent add the garlic and chillie and cook for a minute.
  • Add to the fry pan the pureed onion and tomatos, tomato paste, salt to taste and 1 cup of stock or water.
  • Stir until all the ingredients have combined and place a lid on the fry pan.
  • After 5 minutes stir the rice and add more stock or water if required, up to a total 1 1/2 cups of stock/water.
  • Continue to cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the rice is tender and cooked completely.
  • Serve hot.

My Notes

  • I didn’t have a chilli so I sprinkled dried chilli flakes over the rice when I added the crushed garlic.
  • I used Italian cherry tomatos because that’s all I had, but I’d almost be tempted to add tinned tomatos if you don’t have fresh. The colour of the puree was a little insipid by comparison to the photos you’ll find with the original recipe.
  • I used 3 cloves of garlic but never found the flavour to be overpowering, in fact I couldn’t detect it as a single flavour.
  • I also used Chicken stock because it was better than beef stock and I didn’t have vegetable stock, but water would have done.
  • My rice was all but done at 8 minutes and I took it off the heat at 10 minutes.
  • The rice will easily serve 4 adults.

If you’ve got it, definitely add the lime juice. It just finishes it off nicely.

The rice tasted really nice, but there was a bit of a kick. But seriously, I don’t like spicy foods so when I say a bit of a kick it probably wasn’t detectable to most. I just checked with Mr Fussy and he said it wasn’t spicy (he’s laughing as I type this knowing that I’m typing about him).

If you’re looking for a quick change to a side dish and you’ve got rice handy then this is quick and easy and you’re rewarded with a flavourful, bright accompaniment to your meal.

Well this is embarrassing. As I’m sitting here trying to figure out what type of rice I used, I think it was actually Risoni. Not rice at all!

Whatever it is, it’s in a Tupperware container without any label. And as I look closely at the shape of the “rice” it’s certainly more like Risoni than rice.

Is it too late to pretend like this was a deliberate swap?  Yeah, thought you were all too smart to have the wool pulled over your eyes.

Oh well, whatever it was I used it worked out just fine Smile

If you’re using Risoni, or a similar type of pasta, you can skip the soaking of “rice” for 10 minutes. You wont have any of the starch that the soaking would have helped wash off.

Risoni or Rice

I think I need to cook with rice more so I’m totally familiar with it’s colour and shape. What a dag.