Chocolate Bliss Balls two ways (vegan and raw)

Vegan, Raw, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

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 It’s been one of those post-exam weeks where I have literally achieved nothing with my time. I spent the first day sitting in front of the heater eating sultanas and staring at the floor. I spent the second day sleeping and playing with my dogs ears. The rest of the week has gone much the same way. It has been awesome. 

I had grand plans to share a new zucchini noodle recipe with roast tomato sauce, but alas I ate all the zucchinis. I also ate all the tomatoes, and the avocado as well. I’m sorry! I have a good feeling that next week will be zucchini noodle week. So instead this week turned into bliss ball week because you can never have enough recipes for these protein balls, and also cafe’s these days are selling them for like, $3 a ball. That’s not cool guys. You could make twelve balls for that amount of money! (And it would taste better. Sshh). 

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 Something exciting did actually happen this week. I got a tattoo! It’s a little sun on my left shoulder drawn by my friend Lilli, who designed the title here and is an amazing artist as well. I’d wanted to get a little sun tattoo for a year at least and when my friend said she would get one too, I thought yolo! It’s tattoo time! 

It didn’t really hit me that I’d got it until a few days later, but I’m very happy with it. The sun as a symbol means a lot to me and now every time I look over my shoulder, there it is sitting there. A little ray of sunshine. There’s a picture of it on instagram if you want to see, although I have to warn you I am a little bit nakey in that photo. (Please don’t report me!)

Ok, bliss ball time. Also, I promise I will quit with the dark lighting after this post! I’m going through backgrounds in colour phases to learn about my camera settings, which is why things are looking strange and repetitive lately ❤ Have a great week! 

One Year Ago: Apple, Quince and Walnut Crumble Pie

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 Basic Bliss Ball Recipe:

1 cup dried fruit: either dates, apricots, sultanas or a mix

1.5 cups nuts: walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews or a mix 

Coconut and Vanilla:

Soak 1 cup sultanas in water for half an hour. Bash up 1.5 cups walnuts in a mortar and pestle. Add 3 tbsp desiccated coconut, and the seeds from half a vanilla bean. Blend everything together. Roll the balls in more coconut and store in the fridge. 

Chocolate and Cinnamon:

Soak 1 cup apricots in mandarin or orange juice for half an hour, and chop finely. Bash up your nuts in a mortar and pestle. Blend with the drained fruit, 1 tsp cinnamon and 4 tbsp raw cacao powder. 

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Apple and Pear Honey Crumble with Toasted Almonds

Optional Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

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Ok, I’ve finally accepted it. It’s officially winter now in Sydney. I may or may not have attempted to hang on to Summer for a little too long this year. I may have bought a bikini yesterday. And a pair of shorts. But to be fair the warm weather lasted for ages! There were a few chilly nights, where I insisted on wearing summer clothes and ended up having to shelter under my taller friends’ armpits for warmth. But all in all this Autumn was rather balmy. 

It’s strange how in Sydney no one really accepts that it gets cold in Winter. All through Summer everyone’s super prepared with their chilled watermelon and beach trips, but come winter literally no one knows how to act. No one even owns proper coats, let alone umbrellas or *gasp* thermals. For the first time ever last night I actually used the heating in my room, thinking, “hmm. 28C seems like a pretty nice temperature.” One hour later I woke up sweaty and panicked, dopey from all the gas in my room. I had to crawl to the remote and turn the heat down. I had to crawl.

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So today this is my slightly better remedy for winter. Everyone knows the best part about winter is the dessert. It must be warm and it must be served with vanilla ice cream. Otherwise the criteria is pretty vague. We had a whole bunch of pears and apples sitting in the fruit bowl and at first I was going to make a pie, but who has time for that?! Also, I wanted to eat this particular dessert for breakfast. This was also why I made the crumble in individual bowls, so that no confused lost soul would accidentally think I made the crumble for sharing purposes. 

I decided to try some new flavours in the crumble as a little experiment, and they worked so well I knew I had to post the recipe. The cinnamon and honey go so well with the pears! I literally couldn’t stop eating it. But the flavour that worked best was the oranges I squeezed over the fruit to stop it going brown. We had heaps of oranges as well and I juiced a couple to stop the fruit going brown as I took photos. Holy moly! It made the filling so much better! I would possibly vote this crumble one of the best I’ve ever tasted. 

Remember to serve with ice cream. And you should probably wear woolly socks whilst you eat it, preferably whilst watching Brigitte Jones Diary. But it’s up to you 🙂

One Year Ago: Tangy Lemon Curd Frozen Yogurt

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 Apple Crumble with Honey and Almonds:

6 medium firm apples, peeled and sliced 

6 medium firm pears, peeled and sliced

juice of 2-3 medium oranges

1 heaped tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp runny honey, or maple syrup for vegan

For the fruit filling, combine everything in a heavy bottomed pan and cook, covered, on a low heat for about 15 minutes, until the fruit is soft but still holding its shape. Preheat the oven to 160C (320F). 

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For the crumble:

50g butter (vegan butter or coconut butter can be substituted for vegan) chopped 

100g wholemeal flour (almond butter for gluten free)

100g gluten-free oats

40g toasted almonds, chopped roughly

2 tbsp raw sugar 

25ml almond milk

Rub the butter and flour together in a bowl between your fingers until the mixture is crumbly but not doughy. Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients until combined. Pour over the almond milk and chop through the mixture with the spoon until everything is lightly crumbly. 

Spoon the fruit into an oven proof dish (or around 6-8 small ones). Cover with the crumble and bake for half an hour, until the top is toasty and golden and the fruit bubbling. Serve warm with ice cream.

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Raspberry, Burnt Butter and Coconut Friands (gluten free!)

Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free

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 My favourite scene from Kath and Kim is when Kath and Kel are at a cafe having a cup of tea, and when Kel goes to pay Kath says “no we’re not paying Kel. My friand was dry.” My goodness, such good memories. Kath is right though! There is nothing, NOTHING worse than a dry friand. 

You may be wondering right now what a friand is. Otherwise known as a financier, it is a little French almond cake usually topped with a piece of fruit or two. I wonder if Australia is the only country to call them Friands. I think it might be a national habit to think up funny names for otherwise normal products. Why do we call granola bars muesli bars? I honestly don’t know. So whether you call them friands or financiers, that’s what I made today. But these ones are a little bit special!

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 When I made trifle a few weeks ago I used up twelve egg yolks. That’s a lotta yolks! The egg whites have been patiently staring at me from the freezer ever since, to the point that I can hear their little voices talking to me. “What are you waiting for Lillian? We’re ready to go!” CURSE YOU EGG WHITES. Joking…but seriously sometimes I feel my life is dedicated to thinking of what to do with leftover egg whites. 

Cue friands. Friands use egg whites, and they are made with almonds! So no gluten AND no more egg whites. Well I didn’t quite manage to use up all twelve of them, but I did make them gluten free! I ground up some finely desiccated coconut and replaced the plain flour with that. And it was awesoooome.

They came out tasting so coconutty and soft and just uuugh. Yum. And burnt butter people. Don’t pretend that ship has sailed yet. 

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When I was researching recipes I was surprised by how unhealthy friand recipes are. Like HEAPS of sugar and icing sugar at that! Whenever I see icing sugar I think of when my friend ate a mug of it with a spoon on holidays once because she was craving sugar so much. I decided to just take a risk and replaced the icing sugar with agave nectar and the white sugar with a few tablespoons of raw sugar. 

And guess whaaaat they still tasted amazing. Lil = 1, Icing Sugar = 0. The agave nectar actually kept the friands really moist so there was no worry of them drying out. The edges went deep golden because I left them in the oven a minute or two long and the filling was still super light and lovely. You could replace the raspberries with any berry or even a little piece of fruit if you like. I adapted this recipe from David Lebovitz and he mentions peaches, plums or blackberries could be nice. If you try them tell me how they go!

One Year Ago: Rich Dark Chocolate Fudge

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 Raspberry, Coconut and Burnt Butter Friands: Adapted from Ready for Dessert 

110g (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

140g (1.5 cups) ground almonds

40g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut

100g (1 cup) raw sugar

4 large egg whites 

70ml (5 tbsp) agave nectar or honey

100g raspberries, enough for a few each

1 tsp almond extract

1 pinch of salt

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Preheat the oven to 200C (390F) and line 12 small or 6 big muffin tins with muffin liners. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat. Cook slowly stirring only occasionally until the butter starts to darken and smell nice and toasty. Turn it off when you start to see brown, it will continue to cook longer after the heat it off. Allow to cool. 

In a blender, pulse the almond meal, coconut and sugar until very finely ground. Pulse in the agave, egg whites, salt and almond extract. Stir in the butter and spoon into the muffin tins. Top with a couple of raspberries and cook for 15-18 minutes, until the tops are fluffy and golden and the raspberries have sunk down. They last well but taste best on the first day you made them. 

Enjoy!

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Vanilla and Cinnamon Flecked Rhubarb Cake (and a birthday!)

Gluten Free
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 It’s my blog’s birthday! Happy birthday blog 🙂 I’m actually half a week late because I completely forgot what month it was I started, but it’s the thought that counts right? And the cake of course. 

When I started this blog I had no idea what I wanted it to be. I loved baking, and I loved taking photos of what I made. My sister suggested I put up the recipes and photos in a blog, which sounded like a better idea than just hoarding hideous photos on Microsoft. I was so completely intimidated by the beautiful blogs I was reading at the time, I thought my blog would be a clumsy failure full of silly writing and hopeless photos. And guess what, it was! (Example 1: my first post…)

But over time I think (I hope!) I’ve gotten a little better at it. The recipes I put up now reflect the food I love to make and eat, and the photos, although looking nothing like how I dream of being able to photograph one day, are in their own clunky way prettier. It makes me happy knowing that people read what I write and actually try out the recipes. Even though it’s not why I started, and it’s not why I continue to work hard on this space, it’s nice knowing there’s a little audience out there. I’m so thankful that you all exist! All the comments I get and emails bring a smile to my face 🙂

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 I thought for this momentous day I would share a few of the blogs that inspired my to start (most of them you’ve all probably heard of) and also a few of the blogs that inspire me to keep going. Undoubtably the two blogs that sparked a love of photography and baking, and continue to inspire me daily, are Poires au Chocolat and Raspberri Cupcakes. There’s not a doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t have started blogging if not for these two. Even today when people ask me for what blogs I think stand out, with the multitude of professional photographers and chefs setting up their own sites, I first think of these two. 

As my blog has developed it’s own taste and taken a turn for the healthy, 101 Cookbooks, Sprouted Kitchen and of course Smitten Kitchen have become my staple weekly reads, that I check probably more regularly than my university emails, unfortunately. 

And as for the new blogs I’ve discovered, the lovely Josefine at Smoothie Lover, Consuelo’s Honey and Figs, and the beautiful To Her Core, constantly put up amazing recipes that I always, ALWAYS want to eat. Their posts are always so beautiful and healthy I’m so happy to have discovered them. 

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 I had a lot of ideas for what kind of cake to make for this day, but in the end I decided against a big celebratory layer cake or tart. I wanted to make something that represented exactly what my blog would taste like if it was a cake. And I’m pretty sure I got it right! 

This cake is so yummy. It’s so moist and rich. The syrup soaks down and keeps the cake moist for ever, and the topping is crunchy and tangy from the rhubarb and raw sugar. We ate this with ice cream for afternoon tea, but it could work for any special occasion really. And the recipe is inspired by a woman’s weekly recipe, just like that very first plum cake I made on my first post. 

So Happy Birthday Sugar and Cinnamon! And Happy Easter to all of you. If you’re reading this now, just know that if I could I would give you a big slice of cake with a scoop of ice cream on it xxx

One Year Ago: Healthy Date and Walnut Balls

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185g (1.45 cups) butter, softened

150g (2/3 cup) caster sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 tbsp orange zest, from about 2 oranges

1/4 cup (60ml) buttermilk or yogurt

150g  (1 cup) self-raising flour (or 1 cup almond meal for gluten free- will be slightly denser but still great)

80g (1/2 cup) ground almonds or semolina

1/5 tsp cinnamon

200g (1.8 cups) rhubarb, cut into 3cm pieces

1 tbsp raw sugar

For the Syrup:

1 cup (250ml) orange juice

110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar

125ml (1/2 cup) water

11g (1 cup) rhubarb, cut into pieces

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Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and line a 20cm (8 inch) cake pan with baking paper. Beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the orange zest, followed by each egg, beating in one at a time slowly so the mix doesn’t split. Once combined, mix in the flours and cinnamon gently, and the buttermilk until just combined. 

Smooth into the cake tin and top with the rhubarb and raw sugar. Bake for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a skewer comes out clean. 

Meanwhile make the syrup. Combine all the ingredients and cook in a small saucepan over a low heat until the rhubarb has dissolved (you can strain it if you want a smoother syrup). Cook for about ten minutes to reduce it, then pour half over the hot cake and reserve the rest for pouring over pieces when you serve it. Eat with ice cream!

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Apple, Almond and Raspberry Crumble Cake

Gluten Free and Refined Sugar Free, opt. Vegan

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 The first cake I ever made was a peach upside down cake. I was on holidays at Jervis Bay and me, my sister and friend were thinking of something to do. It was raining, so we couldn’t go swimming or bike riding. And it was still those olden days when kids didn’t have Iphones or laptops until they were at least thirteen. So we decided to make a cake. We cut up a peach and put it in the bottom of a cake pan. Then we got a Green’s cake mix and added the water and eggs, then poured it over the top. Pretty impressive for some little kiddies right? If only we’d buttered the pan. 

I remember making that cake was the first baking I’d ever seen or done in my life. No one baked in my family and we didn’t even really eat sweets, besides for cream and jam sponge cake on our birthdays. I thought the cake was incredible! The peaches sunk into the cake and made a crispy, jammy layer on the bottom of the pan. The cake was raw in the middle and overflowing at times, but it was a real cake! Full of fresh peaches no less. It made me think of all the other possible things you could try to put in a cake. It made me realise that cakes don’t have to only be one flavour! Recipes are just a guideline ripe and ready for adapting!

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 While it can be fun to follow a recipe exactly, especially a complicated one, and come out on the other side with the perfect chocolate mousse or the perfect meringue, making your own way usually leads to the most memorable desserts. This cake/crumble/fruit blob today is the perfect example of where deviating from the recipe can end up in something way yummier and more exciting than you originally intended. I had been dreaming of these rhubarb crumble bars for ages, and was planning on making an apple and rhubarb version with cinnamon instead of coconut. And then I lost the rhubarb…apparently it was in the drinks fridge. (Yes, the most plausible place to keep rhubarb, I agree) But I’d already cut up all my apples!

I used London Bakes Blackberry and Oat Crumble as a base and decided to adapt it to make some gluten free raspberry and apple crumble bars. Everyone likes raspberry and apple right? But when the “bars” came out of the oven, bars they were not. I’d added too much fruit to base ratio to start with, and the crumble was freestyling all over the place, more like an apple crisp than a bar! Oh no! But then I tried it. Wow. It was so rich and almondy and tart from the berries, gooey and sweet from the apples, crunchy and coconutty, cinnamon flecked, vanilla scented, heaven. I wouldn’t change a single thing in this recipe. It’s the perfect comforting bowl of crumble, because there’s a nutty almond base that tastes exactly like the filling in an almond croissant! And it soaks up all those pesky fruit juices. Vanilla Ice Cream is the only thing that should accompany a big, steaming serve of this apple and raspberry almond…cake? Crumble? Let’s just call it pudding. 

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Apple, Almond and Raspberry Crumble Cake: Adapted from this recipe

300g (2.5 cups) chopped apple (about 3 medium)

50g (1/3 cup) raspberries

30g (2 tbsp) demerara sugar

50g (1/2 cup) almond meal

55g (1/2 stick) butter or coconut butter, cold and cubed 

30g (1/4 cup) oats

20g (2 tbsp) mixed seeds and slivered nuts

 

110g (1 stick) butter or coconut butter

160ml (3/4 cup) honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs or 2 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 4 tbsp water and left to gel

100g (1 cup) almond meal

1 tsp baking powder

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Use your fingers to crumble the 50g almond meal, 50g butter and raw sugar into a bread-crumb like consistency. Stir in the oats and seeds. Preheat the oven to 160C (340F). Line a 20cm x 20cm (8 x 8 inch) pan with baking paper. Beat the 110g butter and honey together until smooth and fluffy. Add in the chia eggs or normal eggs and beat until smooth. Add in the vanilla, then the almond meal and baking powder. Mix until smooth. Pour into the bottom of the tin and smooth down. Sprinkle over the chopped apple (you can leave the skin on) and the raspberries. Sprinkle over the crumble mix. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the fruit is soft and oozing and the cake edges are set. Eat warm with ice cream! 

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Creamy Vanilla Rice Pudding (vegan and gluten free)

Vegan, Gluten Free and Sugar Free

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When I was young my sister and I went through a rice pudding phase. A rice pudding phase so intense that for a while afterwards, every time someone mentioned eating rice pudding I thought back on that experience as the dark days. I can now think of that time quite fondly, when I would eat one or two packets of cold, gloopy rice pudding every single day. It was an important part of my childhood, and many people’s childhoods, to get completely obsessed with a certain packaged product and eat so much of it you eventually want to exorcise every box from the face of the earth (for me this includes Easy Mac, frozen packets of dim sims and Yoplait vanilla cream…shudder). 

It was a shame to get sick of rice pudding though because I’d never actually tried the real deal, not straight out of a packet. I mean…has anyone? I know people in Europe eat it on Christmas Eve and hide an almond inside as a prize, but in Australia the only rice pudding I’ve ever seen is in a packet or a can. We’re not really rice pudding people. Come to think of it, the only place I’ve seen rice pudding as a popular choice on the menu was at the old person’s centre I used to volunteer at. Image

Well things are about to change! Because rice pudding is actually really delicious, and it’s naturally gluten free. You can use basically any milk you want, including soy and almond (the best is coconut) making it naturally vegan as well. I made a seriously vanilla-flavoured simple rice pudding with almond milk, topping it with fresh blueberries. I was tempted to make a coconut version and top it with mango slices, or maybe a cinnamon and ginger version topping it with poached rhubarb. But I decided to stick with simple for the first go. 

I used a mash-up recipe from Jamie’s America and Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert, for the sole reason that the recipe claimed to make the ‘creamiest rice pudding ever’. I don’t know about you, but I can never resist a recipe that claims to be the best. I know! So naive. I chose to make my pudding over a stove, meaning I had to stir it basically constantly for the last twenty minutes. If you really don’t want to do that I guess you could do it Jamie’s way and bake it in the oven, but it’s pretty fun stirring the rice until it’s as creamy and thick as you like it. I had so much fun making and photographing this pudding because it was so easy and homely. There was no fear of melting ice cream or ugly brown or strange flavours. Just simple old vanilla rice pudding. 

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This pudding is really delicious and thick despite the handful of humble ingredients and minimum fuss to make it. It’s delicious warm but also great cold, so try it both ways and see what you prefer. Experiment with toppings and different milks and tell me how they go! 

On another note, I’m getting super excited about summer and going away! I’ve been busy making lots of posts that I can put up over the weeks I’m not here so there’ll be lots of things still going on, don’t worry! Hopefully there will be wifi and hopefully that wifi will allow wordpress to be accessed…otherwise I don’t really know what’s going to happen! I’m also hoping that it won’t actually be minus 13 degrees in Budapest but hey! We can only hope and pray. 

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Creamy Rice Pudding: Adapted from here

150g (3/4 cup) aborio rice (risotto rice)

1.25 litres (1.32 quarts) almond, rice or coconut milk (or cows milk) 

100g maple syrup or honey

1 vanilla bean, split in half

1 pinch salt

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Put all the ingredients in a medium-large saucepan over a low heat, scraping out the vanilla seeds into the pot and putting in the bean as well. Stir to combine the syrup and bring to a simmer. Stir every now and again to stop a skin forming and stop the rice from sticking. As the rice thickens stir constantly until the pudding looks like a soupy risotto. Turn the heat off and the pudding should thicken a little immediately. Serve with fresh fruit or stewed fruit. If refrigerated first, add a little more milk to thin it down a bit. Serves 4-5 people.

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Orange and Honey Rose Cake (gluten and sugar free)

 Gluten and Refined Sugar Free
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 This morning we woke up before the sun rose. We got dressed in the dark and for a moment I climbed back in to bed, still so warm. Together we made toast, got in the car and drove to the markets. We beat the banana truck and the shallots truck there, and while waiting for the doors to open, watched trolleys lift the bulging trays and wheel the boxes in to the stands. Inside the smell of fresh coriander and cut vegetables was overpowering, as trays of water-flecked greens were pulled out and displayed in their crates. 

We walked slowly from store to store, pulling out a few dollars at each for bundles of sweet potatoes, red tomatoes, spinach, herbs, bananas and apples. I wanted to buy a whole tray of mangoes. Already blushed and ripe, they rested next to great piles of red and purple grapes impossible not to pick at. 

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 Coming home with boxes of fresh fruit and vegetables, I wanted to make a cake that would taste as summery and light as all the fruit at the markets. The front garden has slowly filled with roses over the last few weeks and they are just beginning to drop their petals, so that when I went to grab some blossoms they showered down into my hands before I could cut their stalks. It envisaged a softly sweet, zesty cake decorated with their petals. Rose petals are good for decorating cakes, because they don’t leave a flavour or stain on the icing. They can be sugared and turned into a real edible decoration, or they can be left like they are here, purely for visual impact. 

The cake is adapted from the classic Claudia Roden orange cake, but with honey instead of sugar. It’s layered with yogurt kissed with a drop or two of rose water and topped with fresh petals. The cake itself is cool and light, despite being made entirely with almond meal. It smells gently of orange zest and the rose adds the subtlest floral flavour that is almost intangible. Rose water has a tendency to make or break a cake depending on how much you add, so if in doubt, use less instead of more. 

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 This orange cake is such a versatile recipe that turns out so differently from flour-based orange cakes. I’ve adapted it before to make chocolate orange cupcakes that turned out really good! And it worked perfectly here again with the yogurt topping. I love using yogurt as a topping because it tastes just as rich and creamy as cream cheese without any of the heaviness. I flavoured it with rose, but I’ve made it with cinnamon and vanilla before, both of which could taste nice here. 

Alternatively leave out the yogurt topping and bake the cake as one big cake in a 23cm tin. It lasts well in the fridge and stays moist for a really long time. I don’t really have anything else to say today, because I’ve had four hours sleep and besides, I’m about to go get gelato…so try the cake! And tell me any variations you try.
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IMG_6992 Orange and Honey Rose Cake: Adapted from Claudia Roden

250g (scant 3 cups) almond meal

250g (3/4 cup) honey

6 eggs, gently whisked

2 oranges

450g (1 pound) labneh, recipes follows

30ml (2 tbsp) honey

3 drops rose water (optional)

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To make the labneh, suspend the yogurt in a tied tea-towel over a sieve which is set over a bowl. Tie up the tea-towel in a bundle and put the whole set-up in the fridge for a few hours, up to 5 and at least 3. Boil the oranges in simmering water for 1-2 hours, until completely soft. Preheat the oven to 180 C (360F) and line two 20cm (8 inch) baking pans with paper. Blend the eggs, almond meal, cut up oranges, and honey until smooth. Pour into the tins and bake for 25 mins, until golden on top and cooked through. Leave to cool completely, then top with the yogurt and sandwich the layers together. Serves 8-10. 

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