Monthly Archives: May 2013

Sweet memories of Tan Cake

20130528_150829When I was a kid, there was one thing my Mum was famous for…Tan Cake.  Every child in our neighborhood knew about it, and wanted some (and no one ever questioned why a slice was called a cake!).   To be fair, how could anyone turn down something that requires half a tin of Sweetened Condensed Milk?

I remember my older brother telling me about one of the “Cake on a Plate” days they had in his primary school classroom.  Mum had, as usual baked Tan Cake.  It was her tried, tested and never fail “go to” recipe.  The deal was that every child in the class had to take in some home baking from their Mum, and then they moved around the table a bit like the “Musical Chairs” game and you were supposed to take a piece from the plate closest to you.   Apparently one of the girls did everything she could to make sure that she was within arms reach of my brother’s plate and had several pieces.  I’m not sure if they do things like that in schools anymore, but the memory always makes me smile and remember my dear Mum.

Needless to say, my Mum still bakes this delicious slice, and I turned to this good ‘ole gem a couple of days ago.  Even making it is such a treat for me, and licking the wooden spoon from the caramel brings back such happy, contented childhood thoughts.

So, without further ado…here is the infamous recipe!

Tan Cake


3oz (1/3 C) Sugar
6oz (170gm) Butter
10oz (2 C + 2 T) Flour


2oz (60gm) Butter
½ Tin (200gm) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 T Golden Syrup
2 T Chopped Nuts


  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add flour.
  3. Press ¾ of mixture into base of a swiss roll tin.
  4. Warm butter, golden syrup and sweetened condensed milk in a pan until butter is melted.
  5. Pour over base.
  6. Crumble left over base mixture on top.
  7. Sprinkle over chopped nuts.
  8. Bake at 160oC for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Double Chocolate Biscotti

20130525_125532The other day I had the pleasure of catching up with a school friends brother.  We hadn’t seen each other for years, but fell into easy conversation like we’d seen each other just the week before.  Our ‘excuse’ for the catch up was for us to share a coffee made with his newly gifted coffee machine.  Since I’ve had one for more than a decade, I offered to give him some tips on how to froth milk 🙂

It would probably come as no surprise to those who know me well, that I was quickly inspired to dig out an old recipe I had for biscotti.  I also got thinking about how Biscotti is one of those unique baked goods that you would only ever think to eat with coffee.  No one says “Hey, want some Biscotti with your tea?”  Or “Hmm, a slice of Biscotti would go great with this orange juice”.  I might have to give this more thought over another coffee dunked piece of Biscotti!

My original recipe is actually Lemon and Almond Biscotti, which is equally as delicious as my “Am Woman, Must Eat Chocolate” version.  Below is my recipe, and below that are the quantities for the Lemon and Almond if that is more your thing.  If you don’t have Dutch Processed Cocoa, you can use ‘normal’ cocoa, but you won’t get the same depth of flavor or color.

Double Chocolate Biscotti


3 C Flour
3 T Dutch Processed Cocoa
1 t Baking Powder
½ t Baking Soda
1 t Salt
¾ C Sugar
3 eggs
½ C Chocolate Bits (plus that little bit extra just because it’s Chocolate!)


  1. Sift together the first 5 ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and sugar until light in colour.
  3. Slowly add dry ingredients.
  4. Add Chocolate bits and mix gently.
  5. Turn out and knead until smooth (about 2 minutes) on a lightly floured board.
  6. Divide into two and shape into ‘flat’ logs (about 2.5cm high).
  7. Bake at 165oC for 25-30 minutes (a skewer should come out clean).
  8. Leave to cool completely, and then cut 1.5cm slices diagonally.
  9. Lie in single layer on 2 baking trays and toast in oven at 150oC for 20-30 minutes.

Lemon and Almond Biscotti

Replace Cocoa and Chocolate Bits with:
1 T Lemon Zest
1 ½ t Lemon Juice
1 C Toasted Whole Blanched Almonds

Add first two ingredients before step 3.
Add Almonds at step 4

Smoke Salmon Bread Baskets

Smoked Salmon Bread Baskets 5This weekend we are visiting my sister-in-law and her fiancé for dinner.  Naturally I threw out the question “Is there anything you’d like me to bring”.  I have to admit that I was expecting an answer of “No, thank you”, but instead got “Yes, thanks.  How about some pre-dinner nibbles?”

The first thing that came to mind is these delicious Smoked Salmon Bread Baskets.  We have served them at our house a number of times and everyone LOVES them!

Smoked Salmon Bread Baskets


250gm smoked Salmon
1 loaf white sandwich bread
¼ C olive oil
1/3 C whole-egg mayonnaise
2 t extra virgin olive oil
1 t white wine vinegar
1 t finely chopped dill
3 T horseradish cream
3 T salmon roe
Fresh dill sprigs to garnish


Preheat oven to 180oC (350oF). Cut crusts of slices of bread, and using a rolling pin, flatten to 1mm thick with a 7 cm cutter.
Smoked Salmon Bread Baskets 1Smoked Salmon Bread Baskets 2

Brush both sides with olive oil and push into the holes of two dozen flat-based patty tins.
Smoked Salmon Bread Baskets 3

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until crisp. Cool.
Smoked Salmon Bread Baskets 4

Combine mayonnaise, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, dill and horseradish.
Note: Both the bread cases and the mayonnaise mixture can be made the day before. When the cases are completely cold, store them in an air tight container. Store the mayonnaise mixture in the fridge.

When ready to serve, cut the salmon into 2 cm wide strips. Arrange folds of salmon in each cooled bread case and top each with 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise mixture. Spoon ½ teaspoon of salmon roe on top of each and garish with dill. Serve immediately.
Makes 24.

The Yummiest Pumpkin Soup…eva!

Pumpkin_SoupHere in New Zealand, Winter is on it’s way.  Today the it’s raining, and bit chilly, so I thought that a yummy batch of my favorite Pumpkin Soup was in order!  I think what makes this particular soup stand out for me is the beautiful oaky flavors that the dry sherry adds. This soup takes me about 2 hours to prepare and cook, and fills the house with those warm homely smells that you love when it’s cold outside, but snuggly warm inside!

Pumpkin Soup


1 T Canola Oil
2 Onions, chopped
2 large Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 medium Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
1 C Dry Sherry
8 C Chicken Stock
6 C Pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes (about half a pumpkin)
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Bay Leaf
½ t Ground Nutmeg
½ t Thyme
½ C plain Yoghurt


  1. Heat oil.  Add onions, carrots and potatoes.  Cook, stirring occasionally until tender (10-15 minutes).
  2. Add Sherry and cook until evaporated (3-5 minutes).
  3. Add Chicken Stock, pumpkin, cinnamon, bay leaf, nutmeg and thyme.
  4. Bring to boil, and simmer until vegetables are tender (35-45 minutes).
  5. Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaf.
  6. Blend in food processor or with stick blender until smooth.
  7. Serve with a dash of yoghurt, a sprig of parsley or some chopped pistachios.

Crocheted Flower Broach

Rose BroachI’ve had some fun lately creating this gorgeous broach, and with Winter descending upon us I’m looking forward to wearing it on one of my Winter coats.

I used bella baby bambini print, which is 50% nylon and 50% acrylic.

I’m working on documenting the pattern, so keep an eye out for that!

Fruit Mince Slice

20130501_162341I was having a bit of clear out of the pantry, getting rid of the things that expired (yes, those pesky beggars exist in every pantry, I'[m sure!), when I came across a jar of fruit mince.  I bought it at Christmas time last year, but ended up having enough of the fruit mince that I had made, so hadn’t used it.  Luckily it hadn’t yet expired!

I didn’t want to make anything to tedious…sometime you’re just not in the mood, right?  So I dug out a really yummy fruit mince slice recipe that I’ve used before.  I found it on the Raspberri Cupcakes blog here.

20130501_155700I’ve never followed the recipe entirely….I skip the pitted prunes and glace ginger….purely because I don’t have those items in my pantry and always tend to make this as an impromptu bake.  I also find that the mixture doesn’t cover the size of pan that is recommended, so mine comes out more square than rectangle (I just push the mixture out two thirds of the length of the pan).  And I split the dough one/two thirds instead of 50/50.  Oh, and because I love being a bit extravagant, I roughly spread white and milk chocolate on the top after it has cooled……naughty, naughty…..but yummy!!

Raised Flower Granny Square Blanket

Crochet Blanket bOver the New Year holidays I started eyeing up the stash of 8 ply wool that I realised I’d accumulated (in a very short period of time).  There was neither real rhyme nor reason for the colours that I had, except that they all seemed to be primary colours with the odd pastel thrown in.  After mulling it over for a few days, I decided that I would embark on making my second Granny Square blanket, but this time it would be a lot larger.  I also wanted this blanket to present some sort of challenge for me, as making a bunch of squares using double crochet stitch all the time could become a bit monotonous.

Blanket WoolCoupled with all of this, and my love for anything to do with making flowers, I formulated a plan to make a blanket with every second square having a raised flower on it.

So now I had the wool, and the plan….and then realised the perfect person to make this for.  One of my BFF’s LOVES colour!  Her house is filled with colour.  And her birthday was enough months away to give me ample time to embark on this project.

Blanket PricesOne additional thing that I wanted to achieve was to gain a better understanding of how much this was going to cost me.  So I created a spread sheet listing the following for each colour:  colour name, brand, shade, batch, weight of skein, how much I’d used, and cost of a skein.  At the end of the project I weighed each remaining skein and subtracted that from the totals.

Crochet Blanket dYou can find the patterns for some of the flowers listed on my Patterns page.  I haven’t yet written patterns for all of them, as there are about 6 different flower designed that I came up with.

Each granny square is 13cm (5″) square.  It is 6 large squares wide, and 9 squares long.  To widen the blanket I added half sized squares. The border is four rows of double crochet groups of 3, followed by 3 rows of ‘petal’ borders.  I got the pattern for the border from the book “Around the Corner Crochet Borders” which you can buy on Amazon.  This book has 150 borders and is a wonderfully colour instruction book.  The finished blanket is roughly 135cm (53″) x 109cm (43″).

Crochet Blanket eI hope that you like the blanket that I have made and am looking forward to giving to my BFF for her upcoming birthday.  I hope she loves it as much as I do!