Rhubarb and apple crumble

Rhubarb and Apple Crumble

I love any fruit crumble and I love rhubarb, so this recipe was a must. The crumble topping is a little different from what I am used to, but works well. The ground cassia is not an essential ingredient but does add a nice spice to the mix.

Because the rhubarb will collapse in the middle when taken out of the oven, it is important to have it well covered with crumble.

8 stalks rhubarb
4 granny smith apples
50g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons caster sugar

360g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cassia
180g caster sugar
250g chilled unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla bean

To make the crumble, sift the flour, baking powder and ground cassia into a bowl and add the caster sugar. Dice the butter, then rub it and the vanilla extract into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture is crumbly and lumpy.

Wash the rhubarb, discard the leaves and chop the stalks into 3cm lengths. Core, peel and cut the apple into similar sized chunks.

Butter a medium-sized baking dish with most of the softened butter, leaving a little to dot over the fruit. Mix the rhubarb and apple into the dish, then dot with the remaining butter and sprinkle with the caster sugar.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Generously pile the crumble over the fruit. Bake for 45 – 60 minutes, or until the crumble is golden brown and the juice from the fruit is bubbling around the edges.

Serve with thick cream.

Many thanks to Nadine from Feast Photography for the photo.

Almond Christmas Wafers

christmas almond wafers

185g butter, softened
250g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
250g plain flour, sifted
100g ground almonds

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour and almonds and mix to a firm dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until very firm.

Divide dough into 4 portions, roll out one portion 5mm thick and refrigerate the remainder until required. Using biscuit cutters in Christmas shapes cut out the dough (Christmas trees, angels, stars, etc.). Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake on a greased and lined baking tray at 180C for 10 – 12 minutes, or until golden.
Store in an airtight container. Dust some of the shapes with icing sugar before serving.

Layered Mascarpone and Berry Christmas Pudding

Layered Mascarpone and Berry Christmas Pudding

250g mascarpone
3 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons caster sugar
300ml cream
125g amaretti biscuits, crushed
125g hazelnuts, chopped
1 punnet blueberries
2-3 punnets strawberries
Extra blueberries and strawberries for decoration
Toasted slivered almonds for decoration

Almond Christmas Wafers to serve. (Recipe follows)

Process mascarpone with egg yolks and sugar in a food processor until smooth. Whip cream until soft peaks form and fold through the mixture. Carefully wash and dry the beater, then beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold through the mascarpone mixture. Fold in the amaretti crumbs and the hazelnuts.

Wash and hull the strawberries, cut into halves, quarters if they are very large. Wash and dry the blueberries.

Arrange alternating layers of mascarpone and mixed berries in a glass serving bowl, finishing with a layer of the mascarpone. Do this carefully, as the dessert looks spectacular through the glass. Chill well. Decorate the top with a wreath of berries and scattered almonds slivers.

To serve, place on a large serving platter and surround with almond Christmas wafers.

Photo by:

Hard Sauce


Hard Sauce is a must with Christmas pudding even if everybody has eaten too much by then to appreciate it.

90g butter
¾ cup icing sugar
½ cup ground almonds
1 tablespoon brandy
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Cream butter until soft. Add sifted icing sugar and beat until light and creamy. Add ground almonds and beat until mixed. Beat in brandy, then fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Allow to set in a shallow dish. Chill will before serving.

Photo by:

Frozen Christmas Pudding


This recipe came originally from Peg Tiffin. Despite the fact that it is frozen, this pudding is very rich and will fill you up just as much as a hot one!

2 eggs
300ml milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 –2 teaspoons cocoa
1 teaspoon mixed spice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1½ -2 cups mixed raisins and sultanas
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup chopped almonds
300ml cream, whipped
6 large spoonfuls vanilla ice cream, slightly melted

Soak fruit in a generous quantity of brandy overnight. Strain and retain liquid to add later to pudding.

Heat milk to just below boiling point. Beat egg yolks with brown sugar until light and thick. Gradually stir in scalded milk. Return this mixture to the saucepan and stir over a very low heat or in the top of a double boiler until the custard coats the back of a spoon.

Add cocoa and blend well. Allow to cool. Add spices, fruit and nuts to the custard mixture. Add the brandy in which the fruit soaked. Whip cream and fold into the mixture, then stir in the slightly melted ice cream.


Photo by: Donna Hay

French apple tart

This recipe has saved me on several occasions when a dessert is needed at short notice. Use bought short-crust pastry shells if you are really short of time, or make your own and bake blind before adding the filling. Both keep well in the freezer and are useful in emergencies. This tart is quite delicious and if you don’t let your guests see the foil container the bought case came in, they will never know the difference!

1 x 15cm sweet short-crust pastry (pate sucre) shell, baked blind

1½ – 2 Granny Smith apples
2½ tablespoons brown sugar (not the very dark variety)
1 – 1½ tablespoons plain flour
1 level teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon slivered almonds (optional)
½ – 1 cup pure cream

Peel, core and slice the apples, and place in a bowl. Add the sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and slivered almonds (if using) and toss together gently until well blended. Tip into the pastry shell and even mixture out.

Add as much cream as needed to cover the apple mixture without over-filling the shell.

Preheat the oven to 190C and bake for approximately 40 minutes.

Serve hot with cream or crème fraiche.

Gretta Anna’s cheesecake

If Gretta Anna can be believed, this recipe started the whole cheesecake rage in every coffee shop and bistro in Australia. Whether that is true or not, it is very reliable and still produces moans of appreciation.

225g plus 5 extra plain sweet biscuits (Arnotts Sweet Arrowroot)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

600g Philadelphia Cream Cheese (not the light variety)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Whipped cream to garnish
Nutmeg, freshly grated to garnish

Lightly grease a 25cm spring-form pan. Crunch the biscuits well by putting them between two sheets of cling foil or baking paper and rolling them with a rolling pin. They should be well crumbled, but not powder. The consistency of cornflake crumbs is perfect. If preparing crumbs in a food process be careful not to over-process.

Mix the biscuit crumbs with the melted butter and line the base and sides of the spring-form pan with the mixture, making sure that you do not get too much of a build-up of biscuit crumbs where the base meets the sides. Refrigerate until needed.

Cream together the Philadelphia cream cheese and the sugar, but don’t over-beat. Add the eggs, one at a time, very gently, so as to let as little air into the mixture as possible. Add the vanilla essence and the lemon juice and mix well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared crumb-lined tin.

Preheat the oven to 160C and bake the cheesecake for approximately 65 minutes. (1 hour and 5 minutes, in case you think I have made a mistake.) Watch it carefully in the latter stages to ensure that the mixture does not rise too much. If it does, turn down the heat.

Remove the cake from the oven and do not be surprised if it still has a slight wobble. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight, still in the springform pan. To serve, balance the cake on the fingers of your left hand, unclip the pan with your right hand and let the collar of the pan slip down over your left arm. It helps if someone is there to take the cake from you at this stage.

Sprinkle with grated nutmeg and serve with whipped cream.