Belinda Jeffery’s Mix & Bake is one of my all-time favourite cookbooks and it is the delightful original source from which I’ve adapted this Coconut and Caramel Slice. Pretty much every recipe in this book is a taste winner and it makes a wonderful gift for those who love to bake. This easy slice is excellent for hospitality because it makes a large quantity in one baking effort (so you can cater for more than one event in one baking session) and the coconutty caramel flavour atop the crumbly vanilla base it so very hard to go past. The quantities below make a very large slice and costs $8 to make (up to 40 pieces), though if you don’t need such a large amount, simply halve all the quantities and you will have a slice that neatly fits into a standard 28x18cm sized lamington tin for around $4. Easily freezable and with a refrigerated shelf-life of over a week, this is a great option to keep ahead of a busy week of hospitality opportunities or for even just a moments quiet rest with a cuppa and a good book.
- 2 1/4 cups/335g plain flour
- 1/2 cup/80g icing sugar
- 250g cold butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 2 tablespoons coconut cream
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 45g butter, melted and cooled
- 1 cup/220g firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 1 1/2 cups/105g shredded coconut
- 50g flaked almonds for topping
- icing sugar for dusting (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees, (170 if fan forced) and line a large 32x24cm slice tin with baking paper.
- Combine all the ingredients for the base in a food processor and press evenly into the bottom of the tin. Set food processor aside and don’t wash it up yet. Bake the base for 20-25 mins until slightly golden. Set aside to cool. Reduce oven to 150 degrees, (140 if fan forced).
- While the slice is cooling slightly, put sugars and flour in the already used food processor and process together. Pull out the blade and gently stir in the shredded coconut. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine eggs, coconut cream, vanilla extract and melted butter using a whisk. Gently fold dry ingredients from the food processor into this wet mixture. Gently tip the whole topping mixture over the base and spread evenly. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds and bake for around 45 minutes, though start checking earlier. Slice is cooked when the topping feels set and the whole thing is evenly golden.
- Cool to room temperature and cut into squares or fingers as desired. This slice cuts especially well when cut with a large, sharp straight-edged knife and after spending some time in the fridge. Enjoy!
The first time I made this cake, my husband was away and my delightful friend Catherine was staying for a few nights with her delightful children. As is not unusual for me, I was trying to do too much in the kitchen at once – baking a cake, cooking dinner and parenting my own kids all at the same time. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised (but I was!) when I loosened the cake from the spring-form tin and the whole thing went frisbee-like, straight into the nearby sink of dirty washing up water! But I persevered and made it again because this recipe is thoroughly deserving of its title: it’s the best tasting apple cake I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating, it’s quick to prepare using the food processor, it’s rich in flavour and quite good to look at without any real effort. If you’re not a fan of marzipan, don’t be put off by the small amount required – it melts all through the cake upon cooking and contributes to the sweetness and nuttiness of the cake without leaving isolated bits of it in your mouth. And do feel free to use tinned apples in this cake, though fresh ones taste a fair bit nicer and are not much work at all if you can use a slinky apple machine to do the hard work of peeling and slicing for you. Costing just under $6 to make, this cake serves 12 people and is delightful on its own for morning or afternoon or becomes a wonderful dessert with a dollop of cream or icecream. Thanks for sharing this one Nicola, and thanks for inventing it, Mary Berry (whoever you are!).
- 225g grams flour
- 1 level teaspoons baking powder
- 225g sugar
- 2 large eggs
- half teaspoon almond extract
- 150g butter, melted
- 250g apples (approximately 3 medium sized), cored, peeled and sliced
- 50g marzipan
- 25g flaked almonds
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar for the top
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees or 160 degrees for fan-forced. Grease and line a deep, loose bottomed tin.
- In a food processor or mixer, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, eggs, almond extract and melted butter for 1 minute. Spread half the mixture in the bottom of the pan.
- Slice apples and lay them on top of the mixture, dice and scatter marzipan over the top of the apples. Spread the remaining cake mixture over the top of the apples and marzipan, trapping them inside. Scatter the flaked almonds and raw sugar on top.
- Bake for 1.25 to 1.5 hours, though start checking earlier. Cake is cooked when a skewer comes out clean of batter but moist from the apples. Cool in the tin and dust with icing sugar if doing so appeals.
Many a Moore College family between the years 2008 and 2011 will remember Julie Morrow’s Ice-cream slice, often served up at the weekly-free-for-all college playground dinners. Always a hit, several people have mentioned how great the recipe is for hospitality and have replicated it many times long since their time at college has come to an end. And for good reason: it’s really fast to make, tastes terrific and serves at least 21 people for a total cost of $13, though much less if you stock up on biscuits and chocolate bars when on special. Thanks for a great recipe Julie, and thanks for reminding me to give it a go, Jess!
- 1 x 375g tin condensed milk
- 600ml cream
- 3 x 52g chocolate bars of your choice (I used cherry ripe), roughly chopped
- your choice of food colouring (I chose to keep mine white this time)
- 1 1/2 packets of plain biscuits such as Malt-O-Milk (I used Morning Coffee)
- Line a 20x30cm slice tin with foil and put down a layer of biscuits wrong side up. Make sure they fit in the tin nice and snugly.
- Whip cream until thick, add condensed milk and whip again. Gently stir through chopped chocolate bar and food colouring, if using. Spread cream mixture evenly over biscuit base and then top with another layer of biscuits, right side up this time.
- Cover with foil and freeze overnight. When ready to serve, tip slice out using a board to keep it stable when up-ending it. Remove the last layer of foil and cut into biscuit sized portions using a large sharp knife. Eat and enjoy immediately!
TIP: If you don’t eat it all when you first serve it, cut slices into individual portions before returning left-overs to the freezer. This will make it easier to access and serve next time round.
One of my favourite places to stop when driving the Hume Highway is the Long Track Pantry at Jugiong. The coffee tastes great, the food is delightfully made on the premises and there’s lovely tables to sit either inside amongst a vast array of kitchen giftware or outside in the sun with gorgeous rural views. A few weeks ago we stopped there on one of our many trips and Steve picked up one of Long Track’s free magnets containing this chocolate cupcake recipe. It quickly appealed to me because all the ingredients go in the food processor at the one time and then it’s straight into muffin cases and into the oven. At the same time I found I was lean on morning tea supplies in the freezer for the school term ahead, so I decided to give these a go. Moist and chocolatey and totally eatable even without icing, I’m sure I will be making these cupcakes again. The total cost for these is less than $5 and the recipe below makes a neat 24.
- 180g soft butter (room temperature will do)
- 3 cups self-raising flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 9 tablespoons cocoa
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 3 cups caster sugar
- 6 eggs
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees / 160 degrees if fan-forced. Distribute 24 patty cases across 2 twelve hole muffin tins (regular sized, not patty cake or mini muffin sized – though you can make them smaller if you wish).
- Place all ingredients into a food processor and mix until smooth, but don’t over process. Spoon into prepared muffin cases and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes.
- When cool, ice with chocolate icing if desired, or sieve a little extra cocoa powder and icing sugar over the top (I didn’t do either and they still tasted lovely). Enjoy!
One lovely thing about writing a blog is hearing from other bloggers. One day I hope to meet Meredith who writes a very stimulating blog The Key to the Door, but in the mean time I’m thoroughly enjoying trying some recipes she has sent in along with her stamp of approval for their ease of use when having people over. When I tried this delicious chicken dinner, I didn’t have much time or energy for cooking but the quickness and ease of it meant we got through another arsenic hour scenario and it wasn’t too taxing. Originally from the $120 Food Challenge website, I’ve adapted this a little to serve more people by cooking it in the oven rather than on the stove. Everyone in our family loved this and it’s such a versatile recipe: next time I make it, I’m planning to add a jar of drained and pitted Kalamata Olives and might then call it Oven-baked Chicken Cacciatore! Using the quantities below, this recipe serves 8 and costs around $16 to make. Thanks for sharing, Meredith.
- 8 chicken thigh fillets, (could also use drumsticks)
- 4 tablespoon oil
- 4 brown onions, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 packet French onion soup mix
- 2x 440g tin diced tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
- Heat oil in a heavy based saucepan or large frying pan and sauté chicken pieces until brown and then place in a large oven-proof casserole dish.
- Add onions and garlic and fry until translucent. Add tomatoes and juices, the soup mixture, water, soy sauce, and season with salt and pepper and a teaspoon of sugar.
- Distribute this mixture evenly over the chicken and bake in a moderate oven for 40 minutes. When cooked, top the whole dish with parsley and serve with rice and greens if desired.
I love gingerbread – actually, I love anything with ginger in it. And years ago, my friend Cynthia put me onto this amazing recipe called Grandpa Pencil’s Gingerbread Men. Since then, it’s been my go-to for great tasting gingerbread that turns out just how I like it: sweet, gingery, a bit of crunch but mostly chewy in texture. And of course, the kids always love decorating them. The only down-side has been the time it often takes to make and decorate a batch of these lovely things – definitely more a holiday or a weekend thing, than something achievable when life is busy. But I’ve come by two solutions to this problem. The first is these square cookie cutters I recently stumbled upon for $9.95 in a kitchen shop. No more re-rolling excess dough multiple times because the cookie shapes are so awkward. With these square cutters, there’s no need for edges at all, which maximises time by just cutting once. I should say too, as my friend Jane suggested to me: you really don’t need square cookie cutters to treat rolled out dough like this – just use a butter knife and cut the dough into squares in whatever size you prefer. And here’s a tip: the best way I’ve found to lift the uncooked shapes off a floured bench is to use a thin, metal egg lifter. The second gingerbread solution is to cook Grandpa Pencil’s dough as a slice instead of as cookies and decorate with freckles before they go in the oven, which is my adaptation below. Either way, this recipe will cost no more than $3 to make. Thanks Cynthia, for sharing this one all those years ago.
- 125g butter, softened to room temperature
- 125g sugar (I use brown)
- 280g plain flour
- 1/2 teaspoon bi-carb soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup golden syrup, warmed in microwave
- 24 freckles
- Cream butter and sugar. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
- With beaters mixing slowly, gently add warmed golden syrup until mixture turns to a ball of dough, not too wet and not too dry.
- If making into biscuits roll mixture onto a floured bench, otherwise, using wet hands, press mixture into a 30 x 20 cm lined lamington tin.
- Press 24 freckles into the wet mixture in a 4×5 configuration and bake at 180 degrees (170 if fan-forced) for 45 minutes. If it goes brown on top but still hasn’t cooked through, cover with foil and return to the oven. The end result should be a fudgy/brownie consistency, not so much a crumbly or dry slice. Allow to cool completely in tin before cutting between freckles into 24 squares.
The warmer weather has well and truly arrived and as usually happens, I find myself craving lighter meals such as these delightful Dill and Smoked Salmon Frittatas. The basic recipe for these was given to me by my friend Kara who makes them as finger food, baked in mini muffin tins and topped with a small piece of salmon and dot of sour cream. And if you’re looking for a yummy and easy finger food option, I heartily recommend making them that way. But seeing as this blog is all about easy hospitality, I tried making these a little less labour intensive and with a view to serving as a main. The recipe that follows is Kara’s basic frittata recipe, but with a slightly different methodology. Make these ahead of time and freeze for quick lunches at home or for 6 people coming over for lunch – simply thaw gently and warm a little in a low set oven. Serve with a side salad and some crusty bread. The good thing about these little babies is they are the perfect thing to serve those on a sugar free and carb free diet (minus the side of bread) and they’re also gluten free. Making 12 regular muffin sized frittatas or 48 mini muffin sized hors d oeuvres, this easy, do-the-whole-thing-in-the-food-processor recipe will cost around $13, though less if you purchase the herbs at a green-grocer rather than the supermarket, and the ricotta from the deli rather than the fridge section.
- 8 eggs
- 3 tablespoons dill
- 3 tablespoons chives
- 1/3 cup cream
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- salt and pepper
- 1 x 415g can smoked salmon, drained with the majority of skin and bone removed.
- In a food processor, put in dill and chives and process until finely chopped.
- Add ricotta, eggs and cream and process again.
- Exchange the chopping for the grating blade and grate half a cups worth of parmesan onto the top of the mixture. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
- Grease muffin trays well with spray oil and pour mixture in until 2/3 filled.
- Distribute salmon in chunks over the portions and top each with the remaining parmesan cheese.
- Bake at 160 degrees for 20 mins if using mini muffin tins. If using regular sized muffin tins, bake at same temperature for 20 mins, plus a further 5 with the oven cranked up as far as it can go. This cooks the frittatas further and allows them the brown on top.