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German Lebkuchen

Mmmh, Lebkuchen!
I am not sure how many variations of Lebkuchen there is but the mix of spices is key.
This recipe is great as it makes a large batch and is easy as you don't have to roll or
form by hand.



70 g dark chocolate melts
20 g butter, softened
200 g icing sugar, sifted
2 eggs
70 g ground hazelnuts
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons rum or apple juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon mixed spice
250 g plain flour 
For the icing
180 g icing sugar, sifted
6 EL orange juice or water
125 g glace or candied ginger

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
For the dough, melt chocolate in a water bath, set aside. In a a stand mixer beat butter and icing sugar until pale and creamy. Add all other ingredients and mix until combined. Spread dough into a Swiss roll tin (30x 24cm), smooth top.
Bake in pre-heated oven for 20-30 minutes or until a skewer inseretd into the centre comes 
out clean.
Cool the gingerbread cake in the tin. In the meantime mix together icing sugar and orange juice. Spread icing evenly over cake. Chop glace ginger and sprinkle over the icing. Let set before cutting into squares.


German coconut maceroons

So here is one of our recipes from the magazine…. enjoy baking the light and fluffy coconut macaroons with chocolate base.

3 eggwhites, at room temperature
330 g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
170 g desiccated coconut
Zest of 1 lemon
150 g dark chocolate, melted
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Place the eggwhites in a bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until soft peaks form. Add the sugar in batches, beating continually, until the mixture becomes stiff and glossy. Add vanilla extract and fold through with a spatula. Add the lemon zest and coconut, in batches, and gently fold through with a spatula until evenly distributed, being careful not to overwork the mixture.
Spoon 2 teaspoonful of batter on a baking tray lined with greased baking paper. Bake in the oven for 10–12 minutes, or until the macaroons are lightly browned.
Gently remove from the baking paper immediately and cool on wire racks. Once cooled dip macaroons in melted chooclate and let set on a wire rack.


Swiss chocolate cookies - Brunsli

 Brunsli (Swiss chocolate cookies)

Only a few sleeps left til Christmas… enough time to bake another batch of cookies… so why not try Brunsli? One of the most popular Swiss Christmas cookies and absolutely delicious with coffee, tea or even a glass of wine.

250 g sugar
250 g ground almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp plain flour
2 egg whites
Pinch of salt
100 g dark chocolate, chopped

Place the sugar, ground almonds, cinnamon and flour in a bowl and mix well.
Use an electric mixer to whisk egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Gently fold in the sugar-almond mixture with a spatula until just combined. Don’t overwork.
Melt chocolate in a warm water bath and fold gently through the sugar-almond mixture. Form the dough into a ball, cover and let cool at room temparature for about 1 hour.
Dust the work bench with sugar and roll the cookie dough with a rolling pin to about 5mm thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and place on a lined baking tray.
Let the cookies dry at room temperature for a few hours (best over night). Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees Celsius and bake cookies for 5 min. Remove from baking tray and place on a wire rack to cool.


Happy Holidays

While Christmas bells are chiming, oh, may there come to you
A dear little fairy, who's always good and true;
The little happy fairy, who drives away dull care,
And makes all things upon the earth seem ever bright and fair.
She'll whisper to good Santa to bring what you most wish;
So if you have been longing for a fine pudding dish,
She will not, as in by-gone years, forget and bring to you
Something that you do not want, though beautiful and new.
By Winifred Sackville Stoner Jr.

And a German poem I grew up with:
Markt und Straßen stehn verlassen,
Still erleuchtet jedes Haus,
Sinnend geh' ich durch die Gassen,
Alles sieht so festlich aus.

An den Fenstern haben Frauen
Buntes Spielzeug fromm geschmückt,
Tausend Kindlein stehn und schauen,
Sind so wunderstill beglückt.

Und ich wandre aus den Mauern
Bis hinaus in's freie Feld,
Hehres Glänzen, heil'ges Schauern!

Wie so weit und still die Welt!
Sterne hoch die Kreise schlingen,
Aus des Schneees Einsamkeit
Steigt 's wie wunderbares Singen -
O du gnadenreiche Zeit!
By Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff

See the our Christmas ebook at ISSUU.


Merry Christmas with s'more

Icy cold air, snowflakes and twinkling candles on a Christmas tree. The smell of mandarines, peanuts and cinnamon in the air.
Mum or grandma baking Christmas cookies in the kitchen… These are all typical Swiss and/or German Christmas childhood memories.

Living in Australia, where we have a BBQ for Christmas and go to the beach, bringing back some of those memories inspired us to our new magazine for Christmas. So if you want to know what a Brunsli, Mailänderli or a Lebkuchen is, then look no further and get baking.

To keep you going whilst you are baking or just in case you get really hungry, there is a hearty Baked Beans recipe.
And just in case you are searching for gift ideas, why not give some beautifully wrapped home made cookies or if you would like to venture further, have a look at Juliana’s craft project.

Christmas is in the air

A while ago we went up to the Blue Mountains to a friends place for some "Plaetzchen backen", making cookies. The kids had so much fun and we snapped happily away as we thought we would use it for our s'more Christmas mag. Here are a few that we didn't find space for in our little

And that was the end of the photo shoot.


Christmas wreath

Happy 1st Advent folks!

While my German friends enjoyed the first snow we are sweating at 35 degrees and the thought of
a candle wreath on the table wasn't that appealing to me.

Instead I made a flower power wreath inspired by the amazingly creative guys from prints charming.
I attended their workshop two weeks ago and managed to just finished my cardboard/paper flowers
just in time for the 1st Advent.

My finished paper flower wreath.

Cardboard of all sorts, hot glue gun, paint and twigs is all you need.

A bundle of twigs is getting recycled.

Start with laying out the twigs first and hot glue together.

Beautiful creations by prints charming using recycled cardboard packaging.


German Lebkuchen cookies - November Daring Bakers Challenge

Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.

Oh, Peta gave us so many choices but I knew I had to make the German Lebkuchen (gingerbread) cookies. Lebkuchen is the ultimate Christmas memory to me and this recipe is beautiful soft and moist yet firm enough to cut out any shape you like. Perfect for Christmas baking with family and friends.

In Germany it's a beloved tradition to have friends over for some cookie baking (Plaetzchen) to devour them on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas Eve. Also important is the table decoration consisting of a wreath with four candles marking the four Advent Sundays. On the first Sunday you'll light only one candle and then the second on the second Advent and so fourth.

It's such a nice welcoming of Christmas that I miss very much here in Sydney. I still have candles on the table but since it's summer it doesn't quite feel the same to me.

Anyway, baking is still fun even in summer and these gingerbread cookies are very scrumptious. 

85ml honey
115g dark brown sugar
30g butter
225g plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 egg, beaten
50g ground almonds
25g icing sugar sifted
2 tsp water 


In a large pan place the honey, sugar and butter. Put on a low heat until the butter and sugar have melted.  Remove from the heat. Sift together the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda. Beat the egg in a small dish. Add one half of the flour mixture and half of the egg to the pan and mix well. Repeat with the remaining flour and egg. Finally add in the ground almonds and mix till thoroughly combined. The dough now needs to be chilled, it is very sticky and will seem along way away from being a biscuit dough but don’t worry.

Place it in a plastic bag, an easy way of doing this is to fold a bag over the inside of a large jug and tip the dough in.
Chill overnight in the fridge, in fact you can leave this dough to develop it’s flavours in the fridge for up to three days.

Roll dough out between two sheets of greaseproof paper to approx 5mm thick. Preheat the oven to 160c Fan/180c/Gas Mark 4. Cut out shapes and lay them on a lined baking tray.

Bake in the oven for 7-9 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to cool for five minutes on the tray to firm up a little before carefully transferring to a cooling rack.

Mix up a runny icing glaze combining your sifted icing sugar with the water. Line up the lebkuchen on a wire rack. Using a pastry brush glaze the tops of the biscuits by brushing on a thin layer of icing.  Apply a second coat and leave to dry. The biscuits will keep for up to three weeks in an airtight container – that’s if you can resist eating them.


Pulled pork

Saturday was a day for comfort food, it drizzled all day and was somewhat cold compared to the nice warm days we already had.
My folks were out camping and I had a nice day of catching up with friends ahead of me. But oh, this weather, I needed something to cheer me up.

Being busy catching up I didn't have too much time fussing about in the kitchen but knew a friend would come over for dinner so I pulled out my slow cooker, bought a beautiful piece of free-range pork neck and let it simmer for six hours. It was the best pulled pork I've ever made so far. Juicy and tender, easy too shred and the sauce was divine!

I can't remember when I heard first of pulled pork but it's such an easy dish and so delicious. Very versatile too, mixed it through some green leaves and vegetables and have it as a warm salad, on rye bread with beetroot relish as an open sandwich, or as I did on the third day, make it into quesadillas. Yum!

Pulled pork sandwich with beetroot relish


Recipe for pulled pork:
1.5- 2kg pork shoulder (neck) roast
1 cup barbecue sauce (I used Stubb's)
½ cup cider white balsamic vinegar
½ cup chicken stock
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed

1. Place the pork roast into the slow cooker; pour in the barbecue sauce, vinegar and chicken broth. Stir in the brown sugar, mustard, cayenne pepper and garlic. 
2. Cover and cook on High until the roast shreds easily with a fork, 5 to 6 hours.
3. Remove the roast from the slow cooker, shred the meat using two forks. Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker and stir the meat into the juices.

For the beetroot relish:

2kg (about 5) fresh beetroot
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, finely chopped
2 cups balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
21/2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large fresh rosemary sprigs

1. Trim and peel beetroot. Grate beetroot in a food processor using the grater disc (you can use a normal grater but with this amount of beetroot, you’ll be swearing).
2. Place beetroot, apple, vinegar, orange juice, sugar and cloves in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the rosemary. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 1 hour or until the mixture thickens slightly. Season with salt.
3. Remove the rosemary and discard. Spoon the hot relish into sterilised jars. Seal and invert for 2 minutes. Keeps 2 months in the fridge.



Blueberry friands with white chocolate

Blueberries are in such an abundance right now and we all love them. They are bursting with flavour and are so healthy. Beautiful in porridge for breakfast and also good for dessert and baking. I made the friands using white chocolate and ground almonds. Very yummy!



makes 22

1 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 cup ground almonds 
100g white chocolate melts, melted
160g butter, melted, cooled
5 egg whites, lightly whisked
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 punnet (125g) blueberries
Icing sugar, to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced.
Sift flour and icing sugar into a big bowl. Add ground almonds, melted chocolate, butter, egg whites and vanilla. Stir until just combined. Divide mixture evenly into friand patty cases, filling the case to 2/3. Sprinkle top with blueberries and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre of a friand comes out clean. Dust with icing sugar. Serve.


Samsung TVC - Enjoy more

A while ago I was assisting Julie-Anne (food stylist extraordinaire) on the production of a TVC
for a Samsung fridge and washing machine. We spent three days cooking and baking like
maniacs as the food gets thrown through the air and it meant a lot of freshening up and re-setting.
It's great to see the ad looks so cheerful and fun.

Maybe one day I will have a kitchen big enough to own a fridge like that :-).

Behind the scenes photos:

The set.

The set.

Our kitchen.


Christina Tosi from Momofuku in Sydney

I was very lucky last week to get to meet Christina Tosi from Momofuku New York. She is here for the Crave food festival in Sydney and also visited us at Breville to give us a bit of an insight into her little success story. She is a pastry chef and runs a quite unique and highly successful bakery in New York called milk.

I found her story most inspiring and despite the success she seems to be very grounded. She told us that she always enjoyed baking, even as a kid and naturally would chose a path in the hospitality industry. She did a degree as pastry chef and worked in kitchens in the US, one of them was WD40 in NY.
Even though baking was her thing she wasn't too happy in restaurants kitchens and started an office job, at Momofuku. Missing her home baking though she would bake when at home to feed her colleagues and they were all in awe of her creations. Her boss (David Chang) took notice as well and when he got offered a small property spot in NY to run a bakery he came to Christina Tosi.

She now runs several Milk bakeries across NY and has gone from strength to strength in her endeavor to challenge the pastry world with unusual adaptations of old time classics.

Take her compost cookie for instance. That's what I heard first off. A very tasty cookie , so American in shape but with a list of, at first, weird ingredients, but it so works! And so it goes on... Milk also invented the cereal milk - toasted cereal steeped in cold milk, then strained and bottled up. She uses different types of cereal milk for her cookies and cakes but reckons that cornflakes gives the broadest spectrum of yummyness.

Instead of shortcrust she uses a range of crunches to cover the base and one of her most popular pie is the crack pie, which I yet have to try myself thanks to her cookbook. So far I have tried a few different cookie recipes and my family was most grateful. Home baking, but a little bit more fancy without the queues, that's quite something.



Spring has sprung in Sydney

Ah, spring has finally arrived! The colours, the smell the buzzing sound of all the busy bees - it's just so beautiful. The mornings and evenings are still quite chilly but as soon as the sun peeks out, it's getting very warm.

I have to thank one of my colleagues who told me about the cherry blossom festival in Auburn and that's where I went a couple of weekends ago to capture all the beautiful flowers and colours.

I wasn't alone, lots of people came, either to have family photos taken, to admire the beautiful landscape of the botanical garden and cherry blossoms or just to hang out.


Lovely cooking school in Italy

Ashley, a fellow food blogger happens to also run a cooking school in Italy with her chefie husband and she just send me some pictures from their past cooking classes. It really triggered my wanderlust. If the photos of the food and happy people is anything to go by - it must be a great experience and so much fun. Who wouldn't want to enjoy their home cooked dinner at a table outside under the stars like you see it here?

But first comes first: the cooking takes place in an old farmhouse taught by chef Jason Bartner. His credo is to take the ego out of cooking by creating simple, seasonal dishes at their organic farm and cooking school in central Italy. From the farm to the table at La Tavola Marche.

Dogs are the real champions in the truffle sniffing game. And - they don't eat them after they found them!

La Tavola Marche has been featured in many food magazines and it is definitely on my to do list when I am in Europe next.  Tutti a tavola! Can't wait!


Barbie cake for a birthday girl

Maggie, a friend's daughter turned 5 last weekend and I again made a barbie cake for her birthday bash. This time she asked me if I could dress barbie in rainbow colours. Rainbow colours can look a bit over the top but then I thought I might get away with using lots of different pastel colours to make up (or nearly) the colours of the rainbow.

I had not a great plan when I started of how I wanted the dress to look like it kind of evolved and it was so much fun! I guess I just still like playing with barbie even when I am way too old :-)
My daughter insisted on all the pearls and loved pressing them into the little flowers, couldn't have done it without her help. Just had to make sure she didn't eat too many before dinner, or no wait,  they must have dropped off the table (or so she said ;-).


August Daring Bakers Challenge - Choux Pastry

Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged
to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity
to go wild!

Mmmhh, choux pastry! Is there anything more French than that? Somehow I couldn't get myself
to do swans even though I liked the idea (maybe for my daughter's next birthday party - however
might be too fancy) as I always had to think of eclairs. I love eclairs and they look so elegant.

I once had to develop recipes with coffee and remembered a coffee glaze I used for a cake. This time I spread it on the eclairs and also put some coffee flavour through the whipped cream. Okay, here I actually used a short cut, instead of making a custard cream I only whipped some cream
but it's just as nice, I promise!


Pate a choux
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gm) (4 oz) butter
1 cup (240 ml) water
¼ teaspoon (1½ gm) salt
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
Line at least two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper, or grease pans well.
Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5 .
In a small saucepot, combine butter, water, and salt. Heat over until butter melts, then remove from stove.
Add flour all at once and beat, beat, beat the mixture until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pot.
Add one egg, and beat until well combined. Add remaining eggs individually, beating vigorously after each addition. Resulting mixture should be somewhat glossy, very smooth, and somewhat thick.
Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm-wide plain nozzle. Pipe mixture into 11cm logs onto prepared trays, allowing room for spreading. Lightly sprinkle the trays with water. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 160°C. Bake for a further 30 minutes or until puffed and golden. Turn oven off and leave eclairs in oven, with the door slightly ajar, to dry out. Remove the pastries to a cooling rack, and let cool completely. Cut eclairs in half horizontally. Spread top of eclair with coffee glaze and fill with coffee cream. Assemble and decorate with melted chocolate and sugar flowers.
Coffee cream
 1 cup thickened cream
2 tbs pure icing sugar
2 tsp instant coffee granules
2 tsp boiling water
1 tbs Baileys Coffee Irish Cream liqueur
Beat the cream and icing sugar in a bowl until soft peaks form. Stir the coffee granules and boiling water in a bowl until the coffee dissolves. Fold the coffee mixture and Baileys into the cream mixture until combined. 

Coffee glaze
1 cup icing sugar
5 teaspoons strong brewed coffee
3/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)

Combine everything in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Spread over the eclairs. Let set.



This weekend was such a nice outlook to spring. Saturday was still a bit windy but already so sunny and same on Sunday. Loved it!

Saturday is always my favourite farmers market at Carriageworks in Eveleigh. You get everything there and it's such a nice atmosphere. It's off the main road and there aren't any cars so it makes ideal to even bring the kids as you don't have to worry about the traffic.

I love all sort of vegetables but this weekend I felt especially inspired by the humble beetroot. It's a bit of a pain sometimes to prepare it as it stains everything and stubbornly but I love the earthy flavour. I prefer to roast them whole wrapped in foil in the oven and then just scrape off the skin (so easy) and since it already felt like spring I just teamed them up with my favourite soy and linseed bread from Sonoma Bakery, mixed leaf salad and labne cheese. So good!

Everything is so fresh and vibrant.

Carriageworks is such a great spot for the farmers market.

Enough room for the kids to wander around too.

Roasted beetroot, labne and good bread - 'nuff said!