Friday, July 22, 2011

A sponge by any other name would still taste as sweet

The Victoria sponge cake was named after Queen Victoria, who favoured a slice of the sponge cake with her afternoon tea. It is often referred to simply as sponge cake, though it contains additional fat. A traditional Victoria sponge consists of raspberry jam and whipped double cream or vanilla cream, just jam is referred to as a 'jam sponge' and most certainly not a Victoria sponge. The jam and cream are sandwiched between two sponge cakes; the top of the cake is not iced or decorated.

A typical sponge cake is made by beating the eggs with sugar until they are light and creamy, then carefully sieving and folding in the flour (depending on the recipe, the flour may be mixed with a small amount of baking powder, though some recipes use only the air incorporated into the egg mixture, relying on the denaturing of the egg proteins and the thermal expansion of the air to provide leavening). Sometimes, the yolks are beaten with the sugar first while the whites are beaten separately to a meringue-like foam, to be gently folded in later. The mixture is then poured into the chosen cake tin and baked. Both methods take great care to incorporate air in the beating, whisking and sieving stages. This makes a very light product, but it is easy to lose the air by removing the cake before it has finished in the oven.

There are some tricks to making a sponge however and they are below for you.

) Mix the butter with the eggs thoroughly – they should be pale and fluffy, this could take 5 mins or more, even when using a mixer.
2) Make sure your oven is at the correct temperature, it is important to check your oven with a thermometer to be sure it is at the correct temperature as this can effect the rising of the cake.
3) Use eggs & butter at room temperature
4) Use a metal spoon to fold the sifted flour into the eggs, as this cuts through the mixture better.
5) Don't for whatever reason open the oven door till at least ¾ through the cooking time, as the cold air entering the oven will change the temperature and effect the cake from rising.
7) If the mixture is curdling when you are adding the eggs, add a tablespoon of flour. The cake will still taste just the same, but it may have a slightly denser texture.
8) Be gentle with the cake, using a light but quick hand when beating as this will help keep the bubbles in the cake which means it will rise better in the oven.
9) Leave the cake in its baking pan/tin for about 5 mins when you first take it out of the oven before turning it out onto a wire rack.


Ingredients (serves 6)

• 1/3 cup (50g) cornflour
• 1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
• 1/3 cup (50g) self-raising flour
• 4 x  eggs, at room temperature
• 2/3 cup (150g) caster sugar


1. Grease 2 x deep, 20cm round cake tins (or different tins, as directed in individual recipes) and line bases with baking paper. Sift flours and 1/4 tsp salt together three times to aerate.

2. Preheat oven to 180C. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed for 6 minutes, or until mixture is thick, pale and tripled in volume.

3. Gradually sift flour mixture over egg mixture while simultaneously folding in with a large metal spoon until just combined. Divide mixture between prepared tins. To level batter, gently spin tins on kitchen counter. Bake for 20 minutes (or as directed in individual recipes), or until cakes have shrunk away from the sides slightly and spring back when gently touched.

4. Turn out on to baking paper-lined wire racks. Carefully peel away baking paper, then leave to cool.

Stablized Cream (Thick sweet cream)

Ever added thickened cream to a cake and then found once you retrieved it from the fridge the cream had gone runny well fear no more. Stablized cream is delicious and so easy to make it is basically an easy thickened custard mixture with cornflour and then pouring that mixtrure slowly into whipped cream…one word….DIVINE.
Many people have reported that this recipes has saved their lives!

I made a Vanilla Sponge with lashings of thick whipped cream and strawberries for my cousin's fiance, Maria. Maria had trouble trying to locate a bakery in Melbourne  that made a Vanilla Sponge  cake with Whipped cream and sliced strawberries so I was so wrapt to learn that it reminded her of her childhood and was even more wrapt when I made it for her and she then sent me this picture of her looking "cake happy" on her special day. Happy Birthday Maria !!!

How to make Stablizied Whipped Cream

For 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, use 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of corn flour and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

Refrigerate the mixing bowl and (preferably whisk) beater for at least 15 minutes.

In a small saucepan place the powdered sugar and cornflour and gradually stir in 1/4 cup of the cream.

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and simmer for just a few seconds (until the liquid is thickened).

Scrape into a small bowl and cool completely to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla extract (Now this right here is the quickest custard you have ever tasted).

Beat the remaining 3/4 cup cream just until traces of beater marks begin to show distinctly.

Add the cooled cornflour mixture in a steady stream, beating constantly. Beat just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.

Then spread on layers of your cooled sponge cake.


Andrew McConnell’s first solo venture, Golden Fields, opened in St Kilda in May 2011.

Modern Asian’ may be the take, but it could also simply be termed ‘Andrew McConnell’s food’, as the chef - who is executive chef (and co-owner of Cumulus Inc. and Cutler & Co.) has drawn broadly from Asian cuisines mixed with his own heritage and training to produce a new version of his own fingerprint.

Sea urchin and crisp lardo on flatbread (above); pork dumplings, fat with steamed dough reminiscent of steamed pork buns; a hot buttered roll filled with crayfish and Kewpi mayonnaise lead the way to poached chicken with sesame paste, housemade rice noodles and chilli and beef brisket with wasabi butter and garlic shoots.

Golden Fields
157 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
(03) 9525 4488

Café vue at Heide

Café Vue at Heide offers a diverse range of delicious and affordable meals. Boasting a menu that comprises dishes suited to a casual lunch with friends from the amazing and talented Shannon Bennet (Below on left )who currently owns Vue De Monde.

The menu is diverse and offers a range for adults and children with a “Vue de Monde” twist.


Andrew mcconnell

Andrew McConnell is an artistic chef, the kind who prides the creativity of his craft and the diversity of influences in his culinary environment. Perhaps there’s no better location for him, professionally speaking, than his native Melbourne. McConnell was born and raised in the city and he’s worked his way through some of its many kitchens.

Three, One, Two., his previous restaurant, was named 2007 Best New Restaurant according to both Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine and The Age Good Food Guide. Andrew was honoured as ‘Chef of the Year’ by The Age Good Food Guide 2007. Andrew was awarded ‘Chef of the Year’ for the second time in the 2010 guide.

Andrew was Executive Chef at Circa, the Prince from 2004 to 2008. At the same time, he was Executive Chef and co-owner of Mrs Jones, a bistro on the site of what became Three, One, Two. Andrew’s first independent venture was diningroom 211. He was awarded two hats in The Age Good Food Guide in every year of its operation. Andrew shared the ‘Young Chef of the Year’ prize with his brother Matthew, in 2002.

Andrew McConnell has worked abroad, in Europe and China, feasting his professional curiosity on the grand and varied traditions that inform global cuisine. But throughout his culinary journey, McConnell’s own developing style has exhibited a purity of focus as well as a deft hand at juxtaposing simple elements – the great local products grown and bred on his native land – in powerful ways.

Andrew is currently running Golden fields and owns Cumulus Inc and Cutler and Co.

Shane Delia

Opening his first restaurant MAHA , in February 2008, is a testament to his heritage and passion. Shane has excited diners with his fresh Mediterranean approach to Middle Eastern cuisine.

Shane prides himself on his original culinary style that stems from the eclectic influences that have surrounded him both personally and professionally.
Shane grew up in a large Maltese family where food was more than just a meal, it was a chance for them to gather around a shared meal table and eat with the comfort and history shared by his family.

Shane Delia currently runs and operates Maha Bar and Grill and St Katherines with George Colombaris.

A good friend of mine left Melbourne for Adelaide -- farewell Matt Kelly and his partner Fraser McEachern.
Matt Kelly has set his horizons on opening his new business called Amity Apparel. It is a Online destination for resort and beach wear.  When you get a minute check out
I wish you all the best Matt I miss you !!!

Until next time go treat yourself by whipping up a sponge. Next blog will be about making fresh dips such as Avocado and chilli, Smoked Eggplant and lime & Garlic Bean Dip. Oh and there will be a very easy recipe on the popular Pretzel yes  "these pretzels are making me thirsty"!!!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Baby it's cold outside!

As it is rather chilly these days I have gathered some new and fabulous places to visit this winter.Ok so let's get started.

The first place to go and visit  is Geoff Lindsay’s new love “Dandelion”. Geoff Lindsay owned and operated Pearl restaurant and Pearl Cafe in Richmond and its catering business were sold to entrepreneur Chris Lucas in October last year.

Geoff Lindsay took some time out after he sold Pearl  to refocus and after six months of hard work and planning has made an inspired return with the much-anticipated opening of Dandelion in Ormond Road Elwood.

Geoff Lindsay is the man behind one of Melbourne's finest and was named Chef of the Year 2005 by "The Age Good Food Guide".

Dandelion showcases Vietnamese Cuisine.. A rich and diverse cuisine that exhibits a wonderfully intoxicating combination of the raw and the cooked, the hot and the cold, the sweet and sour. Light, fresh and healthy, dishes to be savoured and dishes to be shared

Sizzling coconut pancake with crab and BBQ pork and bean sprouts (below)

Now the next palce to venture to see and gasp at has to be “Burch and Purchese” located in South Yarra.

 You may have seen the amazing desert that was recreated on Masterchef last season.(below right ) Unbelievable stuff!

The Studio is a multi sensory retail space specialising in sweet creations perfect for spontaneous indulgent moments through to that very special dessert extravaganza.

Formally from the UK, pastry chef co-owners Burch & Purchese (below ) have built a reputation worldwide for their dessert wizardry; they fuse science with sweetness to create an exciting array of delicious tastes and textures.

Walking into Sweet Studio is unlike anywhere else you've been, a place where you can always expect the unexpected. You may find edible bubbles, a chocolate flower garden, a half chocolate and half jam spread, exaggerated raspberries or rich smoked chocolate, not to mention a magnificent selection of seasonal individual desserts or larger cakes all designed to take home for that special night in.

B&P’s signature cakes are things to behold. No, these ain’t your normal sponge cake with cream . Expect the likes of a raspberry, lychee, white chocolate and Champagne cake, or maybe a chocolate, mandarin and Murray River salted caramel creation, featuring high-reaching ingredients like St Clements marmalade and aerated chocolate shortbread.

Burch & Purchese is less of a store and more like “Heston Blumenthal” meets  the sweets paradise in the Willy Wonka movies… so hold your breath, make a wish, and count to three....................come with me or go and see this place for yourself.

Where: 647 Chapel St, South Yarra

Hours: Tue-Sun 10am-6.30pm

Phone: (03) 9827 7060 (03) 9827 7060



* Melbourne Chef Philippa Sibley, who has a new book and a new gig to celebrate. Sibley will join two veterans of the hospitality industry, Stuart Brookshaw and Ruth Giffney, at a new Brunswick venture later this year as executive chef. Although best known as a desserts specialist (the subject of her forthcoming book, PS Desserts), Sibley will be across all aspects of food at Albert St Food & Wine when it opens in November. I cannot wait for this one. (You may be familiar with Phillipa’s cookies, bisects and breads).
The Brunswick venture will be a bar, restaurant, cafe and produce store.

* Rumi's (Lygon street Brunswick) Joseph Abboud (below) had a cult following for his Lebanese pizzas at next-door bar The Alderman.

 Soon you'll be able to find them again at his new Thornbury pizzeria, “The Moor's Head”, in a warehouse behind High Street. YAY!

The Moor's Head (named for the head of the arak still) will have a simple menu of pizza, salads and antipasti.

Traditionally eaten as a breakfast or lunch snack in the Middle East, they will be bumped up in size. Aboud hopes to open in a couple of months.


Philippa Sibley

She has been described as ‘legendary’ and a ‘pastry maestro’. Fittingly, Philippa Sibley has earned a reputation as one of the country’s finest dessert and pastry chefs.

Although Philippa’s passion for pastry emerged early on, it was during a stint in England and France that her fate was sealed. Having secured positions at the renowned Le Gavroche, Est, Quaglino’s and Harvey’s in London, Philippa was then appointed Chef de Partie at France’s three-starred La Cote Saint Jacques restaurant.

After arriving back on Australian soil in 1996, it wasn’t long before Philippa had opened the acclaimed est est est restaurant in Melbourne. Luxe followed in 1998, before Philippa moved to Ondine in 2001.

All three restaurants collected three hats in The Age Good Food Guide, and est est est and Ondine the coveted Best New Restaurant award. It was for her work at Ondine that earnt Philippa The Age Good Food Guide Chef of the Year Award 2004.

Philippa was appointed Head Pastry Chef at Circa, The Prince, in 2005. In 2009, after three years impressing critics and Circa patrons alike, Philippa took the reins at Bistro Guillaume, where her creations were described as ‘timeless things of beauty’.

Check out her website now ….


As the winter chill is definitely setting in how about whipping up a Croque Monsieur one night is Easy, delicious so much fancier than a toasted sandwich. This is dedicated to my girlfriend Lara.

A croque-monsieur is a hot ham and cheese (gruyere cheese ) grilled sandwich. It originated in France as a fast-food snack served in cafés.

Croque Monsieur Ham and Cheese Sandwich Recipe


• 2 Tbsp butter
• 2 Tbsp flour
• 1 1/2 cups milk
• A pinch each of salt, freshly ground pepper, nutmeg, or more to taste
• 4 slices Gruyère or swiss cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups grated)
• 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (packed)
• 2 slices of French or Italian loaf bread
• 4 slices of champagne ham, sliced
• Dijon mustard


1 Preheat oven to 200 c.

2 Make the béchamel sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium/low heat until it just starts to bubble. Add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, cooking until thick. Remove from heat. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the Parmesan and 1/4 cup of the grated Gruyère. Set aside.

3 Lay out the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven, a few minutes each side, until lightly toasted. For extra flavor you can spread some butter on the bread slices before you toast them if you want.

4 Lightly brush half of the toasted slices with mustard. Add the ham slices and about 1 cup of the remaining Gruyère cheese. Top with the other toasted bread slices.

5 Spoon on the béchamel sauce to the tops of the sandwiches. Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère cheese. Place on tray .Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn on the griller and grill  for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese topping is bubbly and lightly browned.

If you top this sandwich with a fried egg it becomes a Croque Madame.  :)

A BIG Happy Birthday to my nephew Addison who turned 4 on the 20th June. Addison asked me if I could make his cake.(I recall his mother asking me). Addison wanted a Batman cake.

Next blog is all  Scones, some  recipe's about all that is sponge, knowing the art of making great pastry cream and all things afternoon tea .  

Until next time get in the kitchen and cook !!!