Bringing real baking into your home with deliciously simple recipes.
Prep 30min (+20min cooling time)Bake 15minMakes about 50
Often associated with Christmas in Germany, these bite-sized mouthfuls of gingerbread deliciousness actually originated in Scandinavia. The combination of a soft, highly spiced centre hidden beneath a crisp, sugar-powdered outer coat is pure, festive heaven.
125g unsalted butter, softened slightly
110g (½ cup, firmly packed) dark brown sugar
1 lemon, zest finely grated
1 orange, zest finely grated
90g (60 ml/¼ cup) honey
40g (¼ cup) finely chopped candied citrus rind
350g (2⅓ cups) plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon crushed aniseed
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
125g (1 cup) pure icing sugar, to dust
Preheat oven to 160°C (140°C fan-forced). Line two large oven trays with non-stick baking paper.
Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and citrus zest until just creamy. Add the honey and beat until just combined. Add the egg and beat until evenly combine. Mix in the candied citrus rind.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on lowest possible speed until just combined and a soft dough forms.
Roll heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place 5cm apart on the lined trays. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, swapping the trays halfway through baking, or until they start to crack and are just cooked through.
Sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl. Add about 6 warm biscuits to the icing sugar and toss to coat generously. Place on a wire rack to cool and repeat with the remaining biscuits.
The uncooked dough will keep covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. Roll and bake straight from the fridge.
These biscuits will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.
Panforte is a traditional Italian confectionary packed with nuts and dried fruit. This one features ginger, pistachio and macadamias. It has a firm chewy texture and is rich and satisfying so you only need a small wedge. Serve with coffee or dessert wine after a meal, or anytime you need an afternoon pick me up.
Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 170°C (150°C fan-forced). Brush a small round cake pan (20cm, top measurement) with the melted butter to grease. Line the base with a circle of rice paper, cutting the sheets to fit. Line the sides with a strip of baking paper.
Sift the flour, cocoa, spices and salt into a large bowl, stir in the fruit and nuts.
Put the honey, sugars and water in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat, without boiling, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered and without stirring, for 5 minutes. Immediately pour the hot syrup and vanilla over the fruit and nut mixture and, working quickly, stir with a wooden spoon until well combined (see Baker's tips). Immediately, press mixture firmly and evenly into prepared pan.
Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool in the pan. Remove from pan and dust liberally with icing sugar. Serve in thin wedges.
Confectioner's rice paper sheets are available from Asian grocers, delicatessens and specialty food stores. Don't confuse it with Asian rice paper that is used to make rice paper rolls.
Before adding the hot honey syrup to the fruit and nut mixture, place a tea towel under the bowl to stop it from slipping when mixing.
This panforte will keep wrapped well in plastic wrap in a cool spot for up to 1 month.
The secret to a silky smooth baked custard is the balance of eggs to milk and cream and gentle baking. This velvety one is teamed with macerated prunes for a memorable dessert.
500ml (2 cups) milk
500ml (2 cups) pouring cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways and seeds scraped
5 eggs, at room temperature
110g (½ cup) caster sugar
250ml (1 cup) port
400g prunes, pitted and halved
To make the macerated prunes, heat the port in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot but not simmering. Pour over the prunes in a heatproof bowl, cover and set aside to macerate for 1 day.
Preheat oven to 160°C (140°C fan-forced). Brush a shallow 2 litre (8 cup) ovenproof dish with the melted butter to lightly grease and place in a large roasting pan or ovenproof dish.
Combine the milk, cream and vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat until almost simmering. Use a balloon whisk to whisk the eggs and sugar until well combined. Gradually whisk in the hot milk mixture. Strain the custard into a large jug and then pour into the greased dish. Add enough boiling water to the roasting pan to reach half way up the sides of the dish.
Bake in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes (see Baker’s tips) or until set on top but the custard still wobbles slightly when the dish is shaken gently. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. Place the custard in the fridge for 1-2 hours or until cooled completely.
Serve the custard in spoonfuls accompanied by the macerated prunes with some of the port.
The baking time will depend on the depth of your dish – the deeper the dish the longer the baking time will be. Always check your custard after 40 minutes though and return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes if it’s not ready.
This custard will keep covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. Stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
While not as well known as the traditional pretzel, these soft pretzel rolls with their salty exteriors and soft, milk bread interiors are just as addictive. Don’t be tempted to skip the boiling process before baking as this is what gives them their lovely dark colouring.
60g (¼ cup) bicarbonate of soda
1 egg, lightly whisked
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
2 teaspoons sea salt flakes, to sprinkle
410g (2¾ cups) bread flour
7g (1 sachet/2 tsp) dried yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
250ml (1 cup) luke warm water
30g butter, diced, at room temperature
Melted butter, to grease
Combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl or an electric mixer. Add the water and butter and use the dough hook attachment to knead on low speed to combine. Continue to knead on low speed for 5 minutes until the dough comes away from the side of the bowl and is soft but not sticky.
Brush a large bowl with melted butter to grease. Add the dough turning it to coat lightly with the butter. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
When the dough has doubled in size knock it back by punching it in the centre with your fist. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
Divide the dough into 8 even portions. Roll each portion into a ball and place on the lined oven tray about 5 cm apart, cover with plastic wrap or a slightly damp tea towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for about 20 minutes or until well puffed.
Preheat oven to 210°C (190°C fan-forced). Fill a large saucepan or large deep frying pan with water until about 8 cm deep. Add the bicarbonate of soda and coarse sea salt and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat so that the water is simmering. Working quickly, add 4 of the rolls to the boiling water by placing on a slitted spoon and sliding them into the water, bottom side down. Poach gently for 30 seconds, then carefully turn the rolls over and poach for a further 30 seconds on the other side. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the rolls one at a time back to the lined oven tray, allowing any excess water to drain away, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining rolls in one more batches.
Use a pastry brush to generously brush the tops of the rolls with the whisked egg. Use a small sharp knife or razor blade to cut two slits or a cross about 1 cm deep and then sprinkle with the sea salt flakes.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until dark golden, cooked through and the rolls sound hollow when tapped on the base. Serve warm or at room temperature with lashings of butter.
These rolls are best eaten the day they are made but they can also be frozen. Wrap individually in plastic wrap and seal in an airtight container or plastic bag and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature.
Gently baked in a spiced, red wine syrup these plums are flavoursome, rich and the perfect late-summer or early autumn dessert. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled. A good scoop of vanilla ice-cream alongside is a must.
6 medium (about 500g) plums, halved and stoned (see Baker’s tip)
1 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
250 ml (1 cup) good-quality shiraz
100g (½ cup, lightly packed) brown sugar
Vanilla-bean ice cream, to serve
Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).
Halve the plums and remove the stones. Place in a single layer in an ovenproof dish just large enough to hold them. Add the spices to the dish. Combine the red wine and sugar in a bowl or jug and stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the plums.
Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, basting the plums with the red wine syrup 2-3 times during baking, or until the plums are tender when tested with a skewer. Serve the plums warm, at room temperature or chilled with a little of the poaching liquid and ice-cream.
Blood or santa rosa plums work particularly well in this dessert.
You can replace the plums with 500 g cherries, pitted or halved, and stoned yellow peaches.
These plums will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced). Line two large oven trays with non-stick baking paper.
Combine the lamb mince, onion, pistachios, couscous, harissa, parsley, cumin, cinnamon and salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined.
Lay the puff pastry sheets on a bench top and cut each in half. Divide the lamb mixture into six equal portions and roll each into a sausage shape 25cm long. Lay one portion of the lamb mixture along a long edge of one of the pastry portions. Brush the opposite edge of the pastry with the egg wash and then roll up the pastry to enclose the lamb mixture, pressing the edges together to seal. Repeat with the remaining pastry and lamb mixture. Brush the sausage rolls with the egg wash, sprinkle with the sesame seeds or poppy seeds and cut each into 4 equal lengths to make 24 sausage rolls in total (see Baker’s Tips).
Place the sausage rolls on the lined trays, allowing a little room between each. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden and the mince is cooked through. Serve warm.
Shoulder mince is the best mince to use for these sausage rolls.
You can cut the sausage rolls into smaller or larger portions, depending on how you wish to serve them. They will still take the same time to bake.
You can cook the sausage rolls up to 2 days ahead of serving. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat at 180°C (160°C fan-forced) for 10-15 minutes.
You can freeze the uncooked sausage rolls for up to 1 month. At the end of Step 3 place them in an airtight container, separating layers with non-stick baking paper or freezer wrap. Bake straight from the freezer at 200°C (180°C fan-forced) for 40-45 minutes.