Almost perfect chocolate cupcakes

April 19, 2019 at 14:41 (Bake, Uncategorized)

100g soft butter/full fat marg

1 cup sugar

3 eggs – separated

1.5 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 heaped tablespoons dark cocoa

40g dark chocolate – grated


Beat the butter/full fat marg and sugar together until smooth, add the egg yolks.  Add the flour, baking powder, grated chocolate and cocoa – add some milk until the batter is smooth and creamy.  The amount of milk will depend on the size of the yolks. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the chocolate batter.  Spoon the batter into cupcake tins lined with cupcake papers and bake until done – this will depend on how big your cupcakes are.

Small cupcakes bake faster than big ones. I usually just ice them with regular chocolate icing but one time I made big cupcakes, cut off the tops while they were still warm and spread a touch of warmed plum jam across the top.  I then scooped on some chocolate icing and shoved the halved tops into the icing.

Sometimes I also make hundreds of small ones and freeze them.  You can defrost them on the counter or in a microwave.


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Coconut Macaroon Cake

April 2, 2019 at 14:57 (Bake, Uncategorized)

After a marshmellow melting disaster, I had a large amount of unused toasted coconut. I thought about coconut macaroons but I’ve never had any real success with them so I decided to try a cake experiment.

1 cup flour

1/2 cup of toasted coconut

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup milk

100g butter

3 large eggs seperated

Cream the butter, egg yolks and sugar until smooth and creamy, add milk and coconut and mix with a whisk.  Add shifted flour and baking powder. Beat the egg whites into soft peaks and fold into the batter. Bake at 180C – the baking time will depend of the size of the tin used.  A shallow tin will cook faster than a deep tin but usually it bakes for 30 – 45 minutes.

I drizzled it with icing and a sprinkle of toasted coconut.

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Fruit Trifle

March 21, 2019 at 14:39 (Bake, Uncategorized)

A little more traditional than the last one.


1 cup flour

0.5 cup ground pecans

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup milk

100g butter/full fat marg

2 large eggs

Cream the butter/full fat marg and sugar until smooth and creamy, add eggs and milk and mix with a whisk.  Add shifted flour and baking powder.  Do not over mix the batter.  I usually fold in the flour with a spatula. Bake at 180C – the baking time will depend of the size of the tin used.  Bake the cake in the dish you are going to serve the trifle in – obvious make sure it’s oven proof first.


1 can of fruit cocktail

50g gelatin

Drain the fruit but keep the syrup.  Warm the syrup in a saucepan and add gelatin.  Before the gelatin sets pour over the hot cake – straight from the oven.  Toss in the fruit and press into the cake.


570ml milk

60ml cream

1 vanilla pod

4 egg yolks

30g sugar

2 teaspoons cornflour/potato flour

Slice the vanilla pod lengthwise and place in a heavy based saucepan with the milk and cream – bring to a simmer.  Whisk the yolks, sugar and cornflour/potato flour in a bowl.  Add half the hot milk mixture slowly to the egg mixture while whisking.  Return the milk egg mixture to the saucepan and simmer until the custard thickens, whisk gently and continually to ensure no lumps form.  Pour custard over the cake and fruit.


250ml cream

Sugar to taste

Wait for the trifle to cool completely before whipping the cream.  Add sugar to taste and spoon cream over the trifle.

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Panna Cotta

March 4, 2019 at 14:50 (Bake, Uncategorized)

I find panna cotta strange. It’s made up of things I don’t like to eat but I quite enjoy it.

200ml double cream

10g gelatin

400g double cream yoghurt

100ml milk

150g sugar

5ml vanilla essence

Heat the cream, milk and sugar until the sugar has dissolved – do not let it boil. Add the gelatin and stir until it’s dissolved. Add the yoghurt and pour into a bowl through a sieve.  Put in the fridge overnight.

Sometimes I make a packet jelly with half the recommended water and pour it over the panna cotta once it’s set.

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Jeffrey’s Bay

February 20, 2019 at 08:30 (Move, Uncategorized)

Been in JBay for a little over two weeks and overall, it’s been good. There are a few things that I had expected but the levels were surprising. I expected the macho male first attitude but the number of entitled white men was more than I expected, and also, the number of younger white men with that attitude. A large number of young people also smoke, and it’s weird to see.

One thing I didn’t expect the was the terrible driving. There is no traffic in JBay and only one traffic light (which is out during load shedding), but the driving is appalling. Another thing is barking dogs. Dogs bark all the time – it feels like I’ve swapped house/car alarms for barking dogs.

Generally though, I’m pleased with the move. Last week I found a cute place that can be made really comfortable. It’s small and super convenient.  When we were looking at houses back in CT, there were a few places that looked amazing. When we got here though, the places were still great but they were far from shops and other conveniences, and to get anywhere you would need to get into a car because the road need an upgrade and the driving is all over the place so cycling was out of the question. Living in the city for near 20 years means that I can no longer live without certain things as much as I liked the idea of our very first plan, I’ve realised it’s not for me – too remote, too much hard work and I don’t want to be so far away from everything.

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Baked Peaches

February 13, 2019 at 14:35 (Bake, Uncategorized)

A simple summer dessert.  It’s quite light and not very filling so it’s perfect for after big meals 🙂

Six ripe peaches

Six ripe nectarines


Vanilla sugar

Slice the peaches and nectarines and place them in a baking dish.  Sprinkle some [to taste] vanilla sugar over the pieces and bake at 200 c until soft.  Place the baked fruit and resulting syrup into small ramekins and allow to cool.  Next, sweeten some mascarpone cheese with vanilla sugar and place on to of the cooled fruit.  Serve.

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Peanut Butter Biscuits

January 24, 2019 at 14:34 (Bake, Uncategorized)

I love peanut butter biscuits.  I can never have one, I always end up munching five or six at a time.

1 ½ cups flour

125 g butter/full fat marg

3 tablespoons peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

Cream the sugar, butter and peanut butter until smooth.  Add the egg followed by the flour and baking powder.  Roll small amounts of mixture into balls and place on a baking sheet; flatten slightly with a fork and bake for 15 -20 minutes at 180C.

Sometimes I use crunchy peanut butter so there are bits of peanut in the biscuits but you can add a handful of chopped peanuts into the mix.  I have on occasion added choc chips – just as tasty.

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Pork Stew

January 5, 2019 at 12:52 (Bake, Uncategorized) (, , )

I watch a Korean reality TV show called 2 Days & 1 Night, and I think it’s the Hangover Race episodes where one group eats this awesome looking nappa cabbage and pork stew. I googled it and made up a variation of it which was delicious.

This version is with baby bok choy because nappa cabbage is so difficult to find 😦


About 300g pork shin, with skin and excess fat removed, fried in a little olive oil.


When lightly fried, add a quarter cup of soy sauce and fry for a few minutes.


Add roughly a litre of hot water.


Finely chopped small onion and medium potato.


Add onion and potato to the stew – the potato will cook away to thicken the stew.


Boil for 20 minutes. Simmer for a further 30 minutes to cook away the potato pieces.


Baby bok choy – trim the ends before putting whole in the pot.


As the bok choy wilts, push it into the stew. Simmer for about 20 minutes.


Ready to eat. I usually leave it for an hour or two then bring to the boil and eat it with rice.


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Mary, moving and spiders

December 31, 2018 at 07:32 (Move, Uncategorized)

Mary loves eating spiders.

Rose and Mary bring all sort of bugs into the house, they play with them till they’re dead and then Rose plays with them some more. Most mornings involve crime scene clean up.

Mary though, has a fondness for spiders. She doesn’t play with them at all – she catches and eats them. One evening she came in meowing as usual but when she came into the room, she was also licking and chewing (and meowing). It looked like she had a blackjack stuck among her whiskers so I quickly got up to pull it out. It was a spider leg. She wasn’t distressed at all, she was finishing up a delicious snack.

In my current  urban environment, the spiders tend to be small. But JBay has a lot of natural vegetation and the houses all have large gardens, and my year in Mossel Bay taught me that given the chance, spiders grew very big. I have a fear brewing inside me – Mary bringing in a large spider, a rain spider, a hairy spider…

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Fruit Cake

December 4, 2018 at 14:33 (Bake, Uncategorized)

I love fruit cake.   This cake uses ground almonds instead of flour so it should be good for those that can’t eat wheat.  Ground almonds give the cake a moist texture but it doesn’t become as cakey as flour so easily crumbles.  It would work well with custard as a pudding.

200g ground almonds

200 g butter/full fat marg – melted

1 teaspoon peanut butter (can be left out)

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoon baking powder

100 g coconut

3 eggs

500 g mixed raisins

250 ml orange juice

200 g cherries

100 g mixed nuts – roughly chopped

100g milk chocolate – roughly chopped

Soak the mixed raisins in the orange juice for a few hours before mixing all the ingredients together.  Place in a lined cake tin and bake at 180C until done, about 1 – 1.5 hours depending on the oven.  The edges should be browned but the centre should still be somewhat jiggly but not gooey.  As the cake cools it will become firmer, wait until it is completely cool before removing from tin.

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