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)


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.


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


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”.’


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


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.

Strawberry & rhubarb shortcake


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)


4 stalks of rhubarb

3 tablespoons sugar

1 punnet of strawberries


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.

Golden pear pie

golden pear pie

When Marc Weir announced his second annual #mwdeliciouspiemovement competition it seemed only right to use a Lois Daish recipe for my pie entry. Marc worked for Lois at the Brooklyn Cafe & Grill for many years and describes her as one of his strong food influences.

For this golden pear pie I used Lois’ recipe for a pear galette, but baked it in a traditional pie tin; if you prefer you could make the pie as a free-form galette. This is an exceptionally good pie: the pastry is very flaky and the cream cheese adds a delicious tang. Pre-baking the pears with butter and sugar makes them taste even more pear-like and allows you to drain off any excess juice before putting them into the pie crust to prevent the base going soggy.

Golden pear pie (Lois Daish, Listener, 10 April 2004)

Flaky cream cheese pastry:

250g standard flour

pinch baking powder

110g standard cream cheese

150g butter, fridge cold and cut into small cubes (if using unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt)

2 1/2 tablespoon cold water

2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar

Put the flour and baking powder into a food processor bowl and add the cream cheese. Pulse to form a fine, mealy texture. Add the cubed butter and pulse just long enough for the butter to coated in flour and beginning to be chopped up. Stop the processor when the lumps of butter are the size of peas. Add the cold water and lemon juice and pulse briefly. The mixture will be crumbly and will not be holding together in a ball. Tip the mixture into a bowl and use your hands to press into a ball (use your fingers to flick over a little more water if it is too crumbly to come together). Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 20 minutes before using. The pastry can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Pear filling:

4-5 pears (or apples)

juice of 1 small lemon

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 200°C. Peel, quarter and core the pears and cut into thin slices. Place into a large shallow baking dish with the lemon juice, sugar and butter and bake for 25 minutes. Turn the pears a couple of times while they bake to coat them in the juices which will exude from the pears. Remove from the oven and leave them to cool before using them to fill the galette (if there’s lots of excess juice then drain it off). The pears may be baked the day before you need them.

Putting together the pie:

Preheat oven to 180°C Remove pastry from the fridge and cut into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Sprinkle flour over a large clean bench and use a rolling pin to roll out the larger piece of pastry to fit a loose-bottomed metal pie tin. Transfer the pastry to the pie tin and gently push down to fit.

Roll the second piece of pastry into a round that is slightly larger than the circumference of the pie dish. Spread the pears over the pastry base and lower the pastry top on top. You want both layers of pastry to overlap the edge of the tin by about 2cm; cut off any excess and use this to make decorations for the top of the pie. Gently fold the bottom layer of pastry over the top layer and use the back of your index finger to push and crimp against the side of the tin. Brush with some milk or beaten egg and bake until golden brown (about 30 minutes).

Baked caramel custard

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‘I don’t think of dessert as an occasional reward for good behaviour. To me, it is an integral part of the meal…’

Lois Daish, Cuisine 134, May 2009, p. 94

What a refreshing change it is to hear someone talking about dessert without any connotation of guilt or decadence. Obviously moderation is always key and Lois goes on to say that dessert at her house is often just seasonal fruit, but sometimes it’s what she describes as a ‘milk pudding’; delights such as rice pudding, lemon delicious, bread and butter pudding or baked caramel custard. Lois and I are on the same page here. Have some dessert and really enjoy it.

The instructions below might seem a bit long but this isn’t a difficult recipe. If you’ve melted sugar for Lois’ Dutch caramel cookies before then you’re all set to whip up a baked caramel custard for pudding tonight.

Baked caramel custard (Lois Daish, Cuisine 134, p. 94)

For the caramel:

1/2 cup caster sugar

Preheat oven to 150°C (don’t use fan bake). You’ll need a small, deep baking dish for the custard and another larger baking dish that is a suitable size to rest the custard dish inside in a pond of hot water while it bakes.

Put the caster sugar into a medium-sized heavy saucepan (large enough to warm the milk in later on) and place over a low-medium heat. Once the sugar starts to melt, tilt the pan around gently to swirl the sugar so that it melts evenly. Once all of the sugar has melted and deepened to a rich golden syrup pour it into the baking dish, tilting the dish so that is spreads over most of the bottom of the dish. The caramel will harden as it cools. You don’t need to scrape out every last bit of caramel from the pan as you’ll use this pan to warm the milk.

For the custard:

2 1/2 cups (625ml) standard milk

2 free-range eggs

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I used vanilla paste)

Place the milk in the caramel saucepan. Put the remaining ingredients into a medium mixing bowl and whisk together just enough to combine thoroughly. Heat the milk until very hot but not boiling; it’s at about the right temperature once steam is coming off the top and if you dunk your finger into the milk you don’t want to leave it in there!

Pour the hot milk in a steady stream into the egg mixture, whisking as you go. Pour this mixture through a sieve into the baking dish with the caramel in the bottom. Place in the larger baking dish and surround the dish of custard with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the caramel dish. I find the easiest way to do this is to put the custard dish inside the larger dish and put these in the oven. I pull out the oven rack slightly and then pour hot water from a recently boiled kettle into the larger baking dish.

Bake in the oven for about 1 hour until a sharp knife cut into the middle of the custard comes away clean, showing that the custard is set all the way through. Remove from the oven and cool until lukewarm before serving, or serve the custard cold and chilled; I like it best served cold. 

Sticky date & walnut pudding

sticky date and walnut pudding

My Tuesday afternoon perked up considerably when I realised that if I stopped and bought walnuts on my way home from work, I could make Lois’ sticky date and walnut pudding for dessert. Dates and walnuts are such a great match; as a snack, on a cheeseboard, in a date loaf, but best of all in this perfect winter pudding. Lois’ recipe follows the ‘self-saucing’ pudding formula where you sprinkle sugar on top of the batter and pour boiling water on top. This pudding has a tendency to soak up most of the sauce as it cools, so it’s a good idea to make a little extra to pour over.

Sticky date & walnut pudding (Lois Daish, Listener, May 24, 1997)

3/4 cup dried dates, cut into thirds (this helps to ensure that you’ll discover any bits of the stone that may be left inside the date)

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup boiling water

1 free-range egg

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup fresh walnuts, roughly chopped

1/2 cup boiling water

1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C and butter a small deep baking dish (4 cup capacity). Put the dates, first measurement of boiling water and butter into a small bowl; cover and set aside for five minutes. Add the egg to the dates and whisk with a fork. In a separate bowl, measure out the flour, first measurement of brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt and stir to combine. Pour the date mixture and chopped walnuts into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Pour into the prepared serving dish and sprinkle with the last measurement of brown sugar and then pour over the boiling water. Bake for about 30 minutes until it is just firm; don’t overcook it or all of the sauce will evaporate.

Extra caramel sauce

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon butter

Put the three ingredients in a small pot and bring to the boil and simmer until it forms a smooth sauce. Spoon most this sauce over the hot pudding once you have removed it from the oven, leaving a little to drizzle over each serving.

Rhubarb clafoutis

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‘To take rhubarb out of the breakfast compote category, make a clafoutis. This is a giant popover studded with chunks of rhubarb, dusted with icing sugar and served with lightly whipped cream. Or, put less delicately, toad-in-a-hole with rhubarb instead of sausages

 Lois Daish, Good Food, p.147

Despite Lois’ intention to take rhubarb out of the breakfast realm, I do think that this would make a fantastic weekend breakfast. Only a small amount of sugar is added so that the rhubarb retains its characteristic tartness. Serve the warm clafoutis with a scoop of really good vanilla ice cream (or some Greek yoghurt if it’s breakfast time).

Rhubarb clafoutis (slightly adapted from Lois Daish, Good Food, p.147)

2-3 cups diced rhubarb

a little butter and about 1 tablespoon sugar for preparing dish

1 cup milk

1/4 cup sugar

3 free-range eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

pinch salt

1/2 cup flour

icing sugar for dusting on top

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place all ingredients except rhubarb and icing sugar into the jug of an electric blender and blend until a smooth batter is formed. Butter a large ovenproof dish and sprinkle with sugar; tip the dish from side to side to make a light coating of sugar and discard any excess. Arrange the rhubarb evenly over the base of the dish and pour over the batter. Bake for about 40 – 50 minutes until the clafoutis has puffed up around the rhubarb and the top has browned. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve warm.

Plum cobbler

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Plum cobbler has been the only Lois recipe so far that didn’t work the first time. I used the cobbler recipe from Good Food, which resulted in a cobbler that wasn’t sweet enough and very heavy and scone-like. The second attempt used a recipe from Lois’ book Dinner at Home and produced a lighter and more biscuit-like cobbler topping. The plums bubbled up and formed a jammy-syrup around the cobbles of biscuit dough and looked quite frankly adorable. Most importantly, it tasted sensational; the plums slightly tart and topping had a shortcake quality to it. Sunday night pudding at its finest.

Lois’ original instructions are to roll out the dough, cut into shapes, and layer over the fruit. I don’t doubt that this would look lovely, however to my mind cobbler is in the same pudding genus as crumble, i.e. one that you can throw together at a moment’s pudding whim with a minimum of implements (and therefore dishes) involved. So I simplified things. Plus, with the effort saved on rolling the dough you’ll have time to run up to the dairy for ice cream.

Plum cobbler (adapted from Lois’ recipe in Dinner at Home)


8-10 red fleshed plums, cut in half and stones removed

2-3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon flour

Place fruit into a high-sided baking dish and sprinkle with flour and sugar. Put in 180°C oven and bake for 15 minutes while you make the cobbler topping.


1 cup plain flour

1/2 cup sugar

100g butter

1 egg

Put all ingredients into a food processor and process until crumbly. Tip mixture into a bowl and knead with your fingers – you should be able to create clumps (cobbles, if you will) of dough that will stick together. Take these clumps and flatten them out slightly in your hands and arrange over the fruit in a fairly messy way with the cobbles overlapping and some bits of fruit sticking out. Neatness is not the point here. Put the cobbler back into the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until the cobbler topping is brown and the plums have bubbled jammy juice around the edges of the dish. Serve hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Fresh cherry cake

cherry cake 029

It’s a miracle that there were any cherries for this cake at all. The cherries that  I bought to use in this cake were particularly good: large, glossy and so tasty to eat just as they were. Lois’ fresh cherry cake seemed like a worthy cause for the remainder of the cherries (or simply as a way to stop me from scoffing the entire punnet).

Similar to a torte in that it is made with largely just eggs, sugar, and ground almonds, I imagine that this cake could be made gluten-free by using some fresh gluten-free breadcrumbs.

Lois’ fresh cherry cake has a sense of elegance to it and could be served as a dessert cake with whipped cream or mascarpone, or as a cake to have with coffee.

Fresh cherry cake (Good Food, p. 35)

6 free-range eggs

120g caster sugar

150g ground almonds

50g dark chocolate, grated

50g fresh white breadcrumbs

1-2 cups of fresh pitted cherries

icing sugar to dust on top

Preheat oven to 160°C and grease and line a 20cm cake tin. Separate the eggs. Using an electric beater, mix together the yolks and caster sugar until it turns thick, pale and has expanded in volume quite a bit. Fold in the almonds, chocolate, and breadcrumbs.

Clean the beaters thoroughly and then use them to whip the egg whites in a large clean bowl until stiff. Fold the egg whites through the mixture. Pour half of the mixture into the cake tin and arrange half of the cherries over the top; cover with the remaining mixture and arrange the rest of the cherries on top.

Bake for 55 minutes until the top has turned a lovely golden colour. Allow to cool before removing from the tin. Dust with icing sugar before you serve it.

Raspberry drenched chocolate cake

raspberry drenched chocolate cake 032

This cake is being added to my regular cake repertoire. A raspberry-infused chocolate cake with a fudgy consistency but not so dense and rich that you can’t have a sneaky second slice.

When I mentioned this recipe to Lois, she wondered whether it might be more popular now than it was when she first published it, as the taste for dense, rich chocolate cakes has grown. As chocolate cakes go, this isn’t the most intense, mousse-like one you’ll find, but I think that it is one of the nicest.

This recipe is has a few stages and a number of bowls involved, but it’s not tricky. And totally worth it.

Raspberry drenched chocolate cake (Good Food, p.35)


100g dark chocolate (I used Whittaker’s Dark Ghana 72%)

100g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

3 free-range eggs

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/4 cup flour

raspberries for decorating

Raspberry purée:

1/2 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon orange or raspberry liqueur (I had some kirsch kicking about, so I used that)

To make the cake and puree:

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Butter and line a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin. Set up a double boiler: find a small to medium-sized pot and a glass bowl that will sit inside the pot with the edges of the bowl supported by the edge of the pot. Put just enough water into the pot so that the water doesn’t touch the bowl. Bring the water to a gentle simmer and then carefully place the bowl on top. Break the chocolate into chunks and place into the bowl. Stir until melted, then add the butter cubes and stir until shiny and smooth.

Prepare the purée by putting all three ingredients into a blender and blitzing until smooth. Scrap out of blender and push through a sieve into another bowl.

Now, back to the cake. Separate the eggs and place the yolks into a medium-sized mixing bowl and the whites into a large-sized bowl. Add 1/4 cup of caster sugar to the yolks and beat until thick and pale with a set of electric beaters. Pour in the chocolate and butter mixture and the raspberry purée. Sift the flour into this mixture next and stir until combined.

Clean the beaters thoroughly and whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of caster sugar and beat until glossy. Fold the egg whites, a spoonful at a time, through the chocolate mixture – you want to keep the mixture light and airy but fully incorporate the egg whites with no lumps. Pour batter into the cake tin and bake for 30 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin.

Chocolate glaze:

100g dark chocolate

45g butter

2 tablespoons more of the same liqueur you used in the raspberry purée

Set up your double boiler again and melt the chocolate. Add the cubes of butter and mix until smooth. Add the liqueur and remove the bowl from the double boiler. Once the cake has cooled, carefully pour the glaze over the cake and decorate the top with fresh raspberries.

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