Orange & Vanilla Madeleines

Orange & Vanilla Madeleines Orange & Vanilla Madeleines

How many of you have actually tried French madeleines? I have to admit, they taste very much like the popular South East Asian sponge cake snack “kueh bolu” (or “kuih bahulu”), probably because the ingredients used are similar. They’re even baked in little fluted moulds like madeleines are, though madeleines are distinctively shell-shaped while traditional kueh bolu look more like flowers (or super chubby starfish). Continue reading “Orange & Vanilla Madeleines”

Flourless Orange & Hazelnut Cake with Caramelised Walnuts {gluten free}

Flourless Orange &  Hazelnut Cake

It’s been a long while since James and I had a proper baking session, so we decided to whip up this insanely moist gluten-free cake on Saturday. Most of you are probably familiar with the classic orange and almond cake, so we decided to put a little spin on it. We used ground hazelnuts in the recipe instead of the usual almond meal, a concept that has served me well in the past. This cake is a little time-consuming to make, mostly because you’ve got to boil and then purée a couple of oranges before you even start on the cake batter. But it’s all worth the effort, guys. Believe me.  Continue reading “Flourless Orange & Hazelnut Cake with Caramelised Walnuts {gluten free}”

Orange & Banana Breakfast Muffins with Shredded Coconut

Orange & Banana Breakfast Muffins

For a more filling and satisfying breakfast, start your morning with these spiced orange and banana muffins! They’re super simple to make – just throw some flour, baking powder and spices into an awesome concoction of butter, eggs, dark brown sugar, orange zest, mashed banana and milk. Spoon the mixture into paper cups and sprinkle some desiccated coconut over the tops to make them extra pretty. Bake for less than half an hour and voilà! Super delicious muffins for brekkie! Continue reading “Orange & Banana Breakfast Muffins with Shredded Coconut”

Orange Spiced Rum Balls

Orange Spiced Rum Balls

I’m taking a break from blogging about our adventures in Japan to bring you this super simple, ultra snazzy recipe for orange spiced rum balls. Just in time for the coming Christmas dinner party you’re gonna be throwing, yes? Continue reading “Orange Spiced Rum Balls”

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs {vegan}

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

Happy Saturday, readers! We made these fairly healthy vegan pancakes for breakfast this morning! I adapted Andrew Olson’s recipe for “The Perfect Vegan Pancakes” into this supercharged version that features the generous flavours of cacao nibs and orange (zest + juice). They turned out fantastic and, quite honestly, proved to be one of the best things to wake up to in the morning!

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

No eggs or dairy here, for those of you looking to cut down on your intake of animal produce. The recipe calls for the old flaxseed + water trick in place of eggs. For those who don’t know, it creates a gooey mixture that acts as a vegan-friendly binder in recipes. Also, instead of butter, grapeseed oil is used, although you can use coconut oil instead for added complexity in flavour.

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

There is no sugar in this recipe. Only the natural sweetness of freshly squeezed orange juice is added. The incorporation of orange zest and cacao nibs invite a unique grainy texture to the pancakes, as well as a good dose of vitamins and minerals. Sure, we know plenty about cacao nibs and their superfood status, but believe it or not, there are benefits to eating orange peels too!

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

These are small and cutesy little pancakes – pikelets, if you will. With all the cacao nibs and zest thrown into the mix, the batter ends up being pretty viscous and will not spread too much when ladled onto the frying pan, which is just as well since we’re after thick pancakes. While they don’t exactly turn into puffy pillows like those Fluffy Breakfast Pancakes with Lemon & Honey we made awhile back, these mini pancakes are still pretty good for a filling, guilt-free breakfast.

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs {vegan}
adapted from Andrew Olson’s perfect vegan pancakes.

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of sea salt
zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons cacao nibs*
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds**
3/4 cup soy milk (or your favourite non-dairy alternative)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

** I used TRU RA’s Cacao Nibs. They’re organic, cold-processed and vegan!
** I used Melrose Organic Golden Flaxmeal. The golden variety tends toward a more subtle flavour in baked goods, whereas brown flax might leave too strong an aftertaste.

Preparation:

  1. To prepare the flax egg, combine the ground flaxseeds with 2 1/2 tablespoons of filtered water in a small cup. Stir and set aside to thicken.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, orange zest and cacao nibs. Mix well, set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the soy milk with the apple cider vinegar, then stir in the grapeseed oil and the flax egg.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl containing the dry ingredients and gently stir together until just combined. Do not mix too thoroughly – lumps in the batter is fine.
  5. Lightly grease a frying pan and place over medium-high heat. Once fairly hot, ladle a small amount of batter (up to 1/4 cup) onto the middle of the pan and turn heat down to medium-low. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is used up. You can keep the pancakes warm in a preheated oven (set to about 50°C) while you fry up the rest.
  6. Serve pancakes with your syrup of choice and some orange segments.

Zesty Orange-Scented Pancakes with Cacao Nibs

Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake

Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake

I recently read an article about beauty rituals from around the world. Some of the more interesting ones included using lemon juice to remove nail polish residue (apparently common knowledge to the French), and boiling daisies in water to create a tonic that intensifies the highlights in your hair (a Turkish secret). However, the most intriguing beauty ritual on that list by far – at least to me – was the use of rosemary water to improve hair shine and enhance hair growth. Imagine that! I guess that explains why I’ve seen shampoos and conditioners glorifying rosemary as a key ingredient.

Rosemary and Orange Rosemary and Orange Rosemary and Orange

Well, I’ve got a rosemary secret for you: the woody herb makes a pretty delicious addition to sweet cakes. The fragrant, evergreen leaves of this wonderful plant proved its worth by giving depth and flavour to the mandarin orange pound cake we made over the weekend. Of course, much of the flavour came from the oranges, but the brazen use of rosemary just added a little something extra. 

Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake

As soon as we pulled this cake out of the oven, we were greeted with the best smell in the entire world. There’s nothing quite like the scent of a warm, sweet, amazingly aromatic, fresh-out-of-the-oven cake chock full of herby, citrusy goodness. We slathered the top with a simple glaze made of one part mandarin orange juice, four parts icing sugar. A single sprig of rosemary completed the look and made for the ultimate adornment.

Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake

Then came the taste test. We think it passed with flying colours. Baked to golden perfection with a slightly crumbly exterior and a moist-yet-dense interior (just like a pound cake should be), this thing was unbelievably buttery and gorgeously flavoured. We noted that the cake itself didn’t turn out too overly sweet, which gave the orange glaze the perfect time to shine.

Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake

Rosemary & Mandarin Orange Pound Cake
adapted from Tide & Thyme’s meyer lemon pound cake.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup organic soy milk
Juice of 1 mandarin orange
Zest of 1 mandarin orange
1 large sprig rosemary
1 cup caster sugar
250 grams butter, softened
5 eggs, beaten

for the glaze:
1/4 cup mandarin orange juice
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C and line a 9×5″ loaf pan with non-stick baking paper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well, set aside.
  3. In a small cup, stir the soy milk and orange juice together. Set aside.
  4. Remove rosemary leaves from sprig and chop finely.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the orange zest, chopped rosemary leaves and sugar. Rub the mixture together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
  6. Add the butter to the sugar mixture and beat until light and fluffy, then gradually beat the eggs into the creamed mixture.
  7. Alternating between the dry ingredients and the milk mixture, gently stir them into the mixing bowl in 3 or 4 increments, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and use a spoon to smooth the top.
  9. Bake for approximately 55-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  10. Remove from oven and let cake stand in pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. To make the glaze, combine the juice and sugar in a cup, stirring thoroughly until the sugar dissolves. Add more sugar or juice to create your desired consistency, then carefully drizzle the mixture over the cooled cake.
  12. Best eaten the day it is made, but you may also keep the cake stored in an air tight container for a couple of days.

Rosemary Sprig

Orange & Cinnamon Chocolate Brownies

Orange and Cinnamon Chocolate Brownies Orange and Cinnamon Chocolate Brownies

I’m sure many of you have realised by now that we’re back home in Australia. The Gold Coast is still as cold as ever, making its last journey through winter. Soon, it will be spring. Perhaps a new beginning for me. I am a fresh graduate; my certificate’s all ready to be framed and mounted somewhere on my wall. To be honest, I’m not sure where to go from here. I have a few ideas, but they’re all very loose ones. I’m finding it all very hard and overwhelming to pick and choose. It’s a little scary. But I suppose a lot of people come to this stage in life and manage to find their way sooner or later. I hope my turn comes soon.

Dark Chocolate Squares The Process of Making Brownies Orange and Cinnamon Chocolate Brownies Orange and Cinnamon Chocolate Brownies

Something to comfort the soul, in the meantime. Brownies. And not the hard and heavy kind. The soft and chewy, if you will. With plenty of earthy nuts buried in its dark, chocolate depths. This is one of James’ creations. And it’s quite brilliant. Never have I tasted a brownie made with cake flour before (at least I don’t think so), and this recipe calls for it. Obviously, cake flour delivers a more tender, delicate crumb from its lower protein content. The resulting brownies are a little bit airier than ones made with regular all-purpose. Not that you see me complaining. I think it’s genius.

Orange and Cinnamon Chocolate Brownies Orange and Cinnamon Chocolate Brownies

There’s a hint of cinnamon added here. You’d be amazed how much of it you can actually taste. Same goes for the orange. Very familiar flavours. Comforting, I think is the word. These brownies are comforting. They are like a pat on the back or a knowing embrace when you feel a little weighed down about life-changing decisions.

Orange and Cinnamon Chocolate Brownies Orange and Cinnamon Chocolate Brownies

One of the best ways to eat them, we’ve decided, is to place a warm piece in a small bowl and shower it in some cold soy milk. Just enough to soak the surface and gather at the bottom. Then spoon your way to fudgy heaven. I think this is the quickest way to fall in love with these beautiful squares. Of course, you can’t go wrong with some ice cream on the side if that’s what you prefer instead.

Brownies with Soy Milk Brownies with Soy Milk Orange & Cinnamon Brownies

Orange & Cinnamon Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
170g unsalted butter, cubed
100g dark chocolate, chopped
70g white chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 1/2 cups raw sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules (optional)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preparation:

  1. Line a 7×11″ cake pan with foil and lightly grease the surface. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  2. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well, set aside.
  3. Melt the chocolate and butter together over a double boiler until smooth and glossy. Add the orange zest and mix.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar until most of it melts.
  5. Stir in the cinnamon, vanilla and coffee granules, then gradually add the orange juice, stirring continuously.
  6. In 3 or 4 increments, add the beaten eggs, mixing well each time.
  7. Slowly fold in the flour and the walnuts.
  8. Pour brownie mixture into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool completely in pan before cutting into bars.

Orange and Cinnamon Chocolate Brownies

Banana, Orange & Walnut Bread

Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread

Everybody loves a warm slice of banana bread, especially if it’s bursting with fruity flavour and charmingly dotted with a decent smatter of crunchy walnuts. While I believe such an item makes essential dessert fare at any respectable café, nothing quite beats a rustic, homemade little loaf of the stuff. Sweet, nutty and just a little bit zesty from the orange, this fragrant quickbread is soft, springy, moist and quite easy to make.

Golden Walnuts Cake Batter Cake Batter

Simple, mindful touches like the quick dash of orange zest and the banana slices left on top to caramelise sets this delightful creation apart from its mass-produced cousins sitting in pretty rows encased in walls of glass at popular cafés and bakeries. The extra effort is quite worth the final product, and you’ll be happy to know that your favourite cup of coffee goes very well with it too.

Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread

We currently have an abundance of fresh oranges at home, courtesy of family friends who own an orange orchard up in the hinterland. Apart from this lovely loaf, we’ve also made some orange chocolate brownies just to use up some of the citrusy fruit. Recipe to come soon!

Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread

Banana, Orange & Walnut Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup milk

to decorate:
1 banana, cut lengthwise

Preparation:

  1. Line a regular loaf tin with baking paper and preheat oven to 165°C.
  2. In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Mix well, set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  4. Continue to mix while gradually adding the beaten eggs to the butter mixture.
  5. Add the mashed banana, walnuts and orange zest, stirring well after each addition.
  6. Alternating between the milk and the flour, gently fold each ingredient into the butter mixture in 3 or 4 increments until just combined.
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf tin and arrange the banana slices on top.
  8. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  9. Remove from oven and let stand in tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Banana, Orange and Walnut Bread