Passionfruit cupcakes

passionfruit cakes

Another delightfully simple Lois recipe; the kind you might glance at on a page and not give too much thought to. It’s another matter entirely when a plate of these little passionfruit bejeweled beauties is in front of you at afternoon teatime. Even when you’ve just eaten a couple of cheese scones, eh Lily and Ollie.

Passionfruit cupcakes (Lois Daish, A Good Year, p. 36).

110g butter, softened

110g caster sugar

2 free-range eggs

120g plain flour

2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons milk

To finish:

3 passionfruit

Icing:

1 tablespoon butter, softened

3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted

pulp of 1 small passionfruit

Preheat oven to 190°C and thoroughly grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper patty pans. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Sift the flour and baking powder together and beat into the mixture together with the milk. Spoon into the tins and bake for about 15 minutes until the cakes are golden brown and when lightly pressed with a finger, the cakes spring back. Remove cakes from the tray and cool on a rack.

Once the cakes are cool, use a small sharp knife to cut a cone-shaped plug out of the middle of each cake. Cut the passionfruit in half and scoop out the pulp and spoon a little into the hole in each cake and then replace the plugs.

Make the icing by beating the soft butter and icing sugar together until smooth, then adding the passionfruit pulp. Spread a little of the icing over each cake to cover the plug. Eat within a day (you won’t have any trouble with this last part, I promise you).

 

Almond cake

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The privilege of being able to ask Lois about her recipes or for suggestions of what to make is one that I don’t take for granted. It’s pretty rare to have such access to your food hero and I count myself lucky to know Lois.

My dear friend Kate recently got married in Auckland and I decided to make a cake for her bridal shower. Successful cake baking relies upon good equipment and a knowledge of the oven you’re using, so I knew better than to try and attempt the bake in someone else’s kitchen.

I emailed Lois late last year to ask for her recommendation for a cake that could be made a couple of days before the big day in my Wellington kitchen, would keep well, and be robust enough to withstand being carted to Auckland as hand luggage. Lois immediately suggested her almond cake from Good Food.

Lois was right. The almond cake kept perfectly and appeared unphased by air travel. On the morning of the bridal shower I sandwiched together the three layers of cake using Lois’ buttercream icing and adorned the top with edible flowers. It looked like a dream and tasted like one too.

Almond cake (Lois Daish, Good Food, p. 96)

I tripled this mixture to make three cakes.

200g butter, at room temperature

200g caster sugar

4 free-range eggs

150g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

100g ground almonds

zest and juice of an orange or 1/4 cup of milk 

Preheat oven to 175° and grease and line a 22cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Mix together the flour, baking powder and ground almonds and stir gently into the batter alternating with the orange juice or milk. Stir through the zest. Scrape into prepared cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Buttercream icing (Lois Daish, Listener, October 25 2003, p. 43)

I doubled this recipe to make enough icing for sandwiching three cakes.

125g butter, preferably unsalted

1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted

2 teaspoons milk, room temperatue

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add half of the icing sugar and while beating add the milk. Beat in the remaining icing sugar and vanilla.

Blueberry buckle

 

IMG_4769Lois’ blueberry buckle is a perfect way to use up any frozen blueberries lurking in your freezer which you’re feeling a little hesitant about eating after hearing about this. That aside, this buckle is an extremely delightful dessert with a cute-as-a-button name.

Blueberry buckle (adapted slightly from Lois Daish, NZ Listener, 8 January 2005)

Topping:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

To make the topping, rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Alternatively chuck the whole lot into a food processor or mixer and process until combined. Set aside.

Buckle:

100g butter, softened

3/4 cup caster sugar

1 free-range egg

zest of a lemon

1 1/4 cups plain flour

2 teaspoon baking power

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup milk

1 heaped cup of blueberries, fresh or frozen (if using frozen berries don’t defrost first)

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 25cm loose-bottomed cake tin with baking paper and lightly grease the sides. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and lemon zest. If using a food processor scrape the mixture out into a large mixing bowl at this point. Sift the dry ingredients and add these to the creamed mixture alternating with the milk, mixing until fully combined.

Scrape the cake batter into prepared tin, cover with blueberries and sprinkle over the topping. Bake for about 35-40 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. If using frozen berries the cake might take a little longer, but start checking it from the 35 minute mark.

Macaroon syrup cake

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I’ll leave it to Lois to convince you that you need to make this cake:

‘In this luscious sryup-soaked cake, a high proportion of coconut ensures a rich, moist, chewy texture. On first tasting it, my daughter [Mary Daish] described it as “Bounty bar cake”.’

Sold.

Macaroon syrup cake (adapted slightly from Lois Daish, Listener, February 17, 2001 p. 43)

150g butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

4 free-range eggs

1 cup flour

1 heaped teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 cups desicated coconut

1/2 cup ground almonds

Syrup:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

zest of 1 lemon or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste

Preheat oven to 160˚C and butter a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour and baking powder and fold into the creamed mixture followed by the coconut. Scrape into the prepared cake tin, smooth off the top, and bake for 45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes away clean.

While the cake is baking prepare the syrup by gently heating all three ingredients together in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the hot syrup over the warm cake and leave for a few hours before serving.

Apple & almond cake

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This recipe contains only a small amount of flour, so you can easily sub in some gluten-free flour to make a gluten-free cake if that’s what you’re into; it’s already dairy-free just the way it is. Lois suggests baking the cake in two tins and then sandwiching the thin layers with some whipped cream, which sounds like a bloody excellent idea to me.

Apple & almond cake (Lois Daish, Good Food, p. 114)

3 free-range eggs

150g caster sugar (I used vanilla sugar; I keep a vanilla pod in a jar of caster sugar to gently infuse it)

50g flour (can use a gluten-free flour here)

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch salt

170g ground almonds

2 apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla (I used vanilla paste)

1 tablespoon sugar, for sprinkling on top 

Preheat oven to 160˚C and line a 22cm loose-bottom cake tin with baking paper. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture turns light in colour and thickens. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and ground almonds and then fold this mixture into the eggs. Stir in the chopped apples and vanilla. Scrape mixture into tin, smooth the top, sprinkle with the tablespoon of sugar and bake for 35 minutes until browned on top and firm to touch.

Note: I baked this cake using a conventional oven and when I checked it after 30 minutes the cake was still pale on top, so I turned the oven to fan bake and left the cake for another 5-7 minutes.

Strawberry & rhubarb shortcake

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It might seem extravagant to use a punnet of new seasons strawberries for cooking rather than just enjoying as they are. My solution is to buy two punnets, eat one straight and use the other to make a shortcake. Do not underestimate how sensational cooked strawberries and rhubarb are together; your kitchen will smell like something out of a fairy tale.

Strawberry & rhubarb shortcake (Lois Daish, A Treasury of New Zealand Baking, Random House, 2009, p.182)

Fruit:

4 stalks of rhubarb

3 tablespoons sugar

1 punnet of strawberries

Shortcake:

125g butter, softened

125g sugar

1 egg

225g plain flour

25g cornflour

1 teaspoon baking powder

For the fruit:

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Wash rhubarb stalks and cut into 1cm pieces. Put onto a baking tray and sprinkle with sugar. Bake the rhubarb for 15 minutes. While the rhubarb is baking, hull the strawberries and cut in half. Once the 15 minutes is up, add the strawberries and bake for a further 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

For the shortcake:

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the egg and continue to beat until fully combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Line whatever tin you’d like to use (a round 22cm tin works, as does a 20 x 10cm loaf tin) with baking paper. Put two thirds of the shortcake mixture into the lined base of the tin. Spread over the fruit mixture and then put dollops of the remaining shortcake mixture over the top. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.

Flapjack

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Lois’ flapjack is basically a giant Anzac biscuit baked in a tin. Perfect for those times when you have the mental capacity for weighing, melting, stirring, pouring, and baking, but shaping individual biscuits is a bridge too far.

Lois’ original recipe calls for the addition of sultanas or raisins, but I used dates as their chewy caramel-ness is perfect with oats and coconut. I think this recipe would also benefit from a sprinkling of pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds.

Flapjack (Lois Daish, Fuss-Free Food for Two, 1997, p.59)

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup dessicated coconut

1 cup sugar (I reduced this to 3/4 cup and it worked fine)

1 cup flour (I used wholemeal flour)

100g butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons boiling water

1 cup raisins, sultanas OR 1/2 cup chopped dates and 1/2 cup sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 170°C and line a baking tin (mine was 20cm x 20cm) with baking paper. In a large bowl stir together the rolled oats, coconut, sugar and flour. Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a small pot. Put the baking soda in a cup and add the boiling water. Pour this into the melted butter mixture and stir before pouring over the dry ingredients. Add the raisins or sultanas or date and seed mixture and stir thoroughly. The mixture will look a little crumbly. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin, push down and flatten out evenly and bake for 20 minutes. Cut into squares while still warm.

Chocolate, date & walnut kisses

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Lois & Me is about drawing attention to Lois Daish and her contribution to the history of food and cooking in New Zealand. But as well as adding to this history, Lois is fascinated by it and her Listener columns would often include historical research into particular aspects of New Zealand’s culinary history, particularly our baking tradition. Kelda Hains describes Lois’ approach to recipe development as ‘scholarly’ as it was often based on a good deal of reading and research. In this way, Lois’ Listener columns are ‘curated’; they may not always be recipes of her own devising, but they always involve her careful selection and testing.

I get so much enjoyment from reading through Lois’ Listener articles and wish that more people had ready access to these well-crafted and fascinating pieces of writing. Here is an excerpt from Lois’ October 2003 column entitled ‘Give us a kiss’:

‘Perhaps this is what happened. A cook made a tray of small drop biscuits, and thought they looked a bit meager and decided to join them in pairs with butter icing. The idea wasn’t entirely new. Flat biscuits, cut into rounds with a cookie cutter, had long been made into jam sandwiches that went by various names such as Shrewsbury, Belgian or German. What was new was the idea of joining biscuits that had been dropped from a spoon, or rolled into balls and then pressed with a fork. And these pairs of biscuits were given the name “kisses”, a term that had previously been used for small sweetmeats and which still persists in Hershey’s chocolate kisses. More interestingly for us is that, according to the Oxford Dictionary of New Zealand English, the first recorded use of the term “kiss” for a pair of biscuits was in New Zealand in the 1936 edition of the Women’s Institute Cookbook. Before long, community fundraising cookbooks included recipes for ginger kisses, coconut kisses, sponge kisses and, perhaps the best-known of all, Maori kisses, which was used for several types of kisses that had cocoa in the recipe, the most popular also including finely chopped dates and walnuts.’

Chocolate, date & walnut kisses (Lois Daish, Listener, October 25 2003, p.42-43)

85g soft butter

85g brown sugar

115g flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa

1 tablespoon milk

1/2 cup chopped fresh walnuts

1 cup finely chopped dates

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut a length of baking paper to cover a flat baking tray. Beat butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa and add to the butter mixture along with the milk. Add the walnuts and dates and mix thoroughly. Roll balls of mixture (Lois suggests half the size of a walnut; I made mine into balls weighing 15g each). Place balls of dough onto the baking tray and push down lightly with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes until the biscuits are firm at the edges but still slightly soft in the middle. Place on a rack to cool. Once cool, join the biscuits in pairs with vanilla buttercream icing. Makes around 15 kisses.

Vanilla buttercream icing

125g unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted

2 teaspoons milk, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste or 2 teaspoons cocoa

Cream the butter with an electric beater or food processor until very pale. Add half the icing sugar and while beating add the milk. Add the remaining icing sugar and vanilla or cocoa.

Chocolate coconut rough

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Traditional home baking in New Zealand is an ongoing fascination for Lois. These are recipes that were shared between friends, published in fundraising cookbooks, and handed down through families in cursive handwriting on pieces of notepaper. These are recipes that are a part of our food history but have fallen out of fashion and are now often only found in bakeries and lunch bars made with inferior ingredients. Made with love, butter (always butter), good-quality coconut and cocoa, old favourite chocolate coconut rough is a thing is beauty.

Chocolate coconut rough (Lois Daish, Listener, April 7 2001)

Base:

1 cup of flour

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup coconut, long thread or desiccated

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 heaped tablespoon cocoa

100g butter, melted (add a pinch of salt if you are using unsalted butter)

Icing:

30gm butter, melted

1/2 cup coconut, long thread or desiccated

1 cup icing sugar

1 heaped tablespoon cocoa

boiling water

Preheat oven to 180°C. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and pour over the melted butter. Stir to combine thoroughly and then tip into a lined or buttered baking tin and push down evenly. Bake for 15-20 minutes until you can smell the coconut toasting. While the base bakes, make the icing by melting the butter in a small saucepan and adding the coconut, icing sugar and cocoa. Add enough boiling water to make a sloppy icing and pour over the base while it is still hot from the oven. Cut into bars while still warm.

Lois & Kelda (and Kelda’s lemon yoghurt cake)

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Kelda Hains’ first job as a cook was at Lois’ bustling suburban restaurant the Brooklyn Cafe & Grill. Kelda recalls being a hospitality and tourism student and approaching Lois to interview her for an essay on small owner-operator run restaurants. Lois was the only restaurateur to ask for a copy of the finished essay; not for editorial control but out of a genuine interest. When Kelda returned to the restaurant to drop off a copy, Lois asked if she would like a job. Kelda said yes.

During the time that they worked together at the Brooklyn Cafe & Grill, Lois had a formative impact on Kelda’s approach to food. Kelda admired Lois’ style of food based on simplicity and thoughtfulness which she describes as ‘home cooking with finesse’ and her approach to running a restaurant based on generosity.

Kelda and Lois’ relationship wasn’t a typical mentor and student relationship however, as the information exchange went both ways. The shared inspiration Lois and Kelda found in each other is self evident as you look through Lois’ Listener columns, where Kelda’s name sometimes pops up as the source of recipes.

As co-owner of the wonderful Nikau Cafe, Kelda has developed a strong reputation for her own simple and thoughtful approach to cooking seasonal and local food. Not to mention for her baking, some of which is made using Lois’ recipes. Anyone who has had the delight of eating a baked something from Nikau Cafe will know to expect great things from Kelda’s recipe for lemon yoghurt cake and it most certainly does not disappoint.

Kelda’s lemon yoghurt cake (Listener, May 3 1997, p. 53).

4 free-range eggs

225g sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

grated zest of two lemons

1/2 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt

200g flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

75g butter, melted and cooled

Glaze:

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup icing sugar

Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a loose-bottomed 23cm cake tin and grease the sides with some butter. Use an electric beater to whisk the eggs and sugar until really pale and expanded in volume (will take a couple of minutes). Fold in the lemon juice, zest and yoghurt. Add the flour and baking powder and fold through. Stir 1/2 cup of the cake batter into the melted butter and then fold this mix back into the batter. Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake for around 30 minutes until firm.

To make the glaze, heat the juice and icing together until it forms a syrup. Pour over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin.