150g unsalted butter

150g caster sugar

150g ground almonds

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon table salt

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

100g fine semolina

75g icing sugar, sifted

2-3 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons almond flakes


  • Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F and prepare 12 muffin cups with paper liners (not necessary if using silicone).
  • Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture turns pale and fluffy.

  • Add the ground almonds, baking powder and salt and mix until just incorporated. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  • Then add the extracts, zest and juice. Finally, gently fold in the semolina. Divide the mixture between muffin cases.

  • Bake for one hour, until the cake tops are springy and just beginning to turn golden. Cool completely before icing.
  • To make the icing, whisk together icing sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl to make a thick but spreadable icing.

  • When mini muffins are completely cool, spread about 1 teaspoon of icing over each one with the back of a spoon.
  • Sprinkle a few toasted almonds over the icing and leave to set before serving. Makes 12 mini semolina muffins.

Adapted from The Kitchenist

One of my favourite coffee cakes, from A Word From AuntB, this pound cake recipe has undergone some degree of experimentation in my attempt to find the type of sugar that leaves a distinct signature to set my pound cake apart from all others. At last I found the correct formula with Sucre Brun Clair Mou that can be bought exclusively from the Aventure du Sucre Boutique in Beau Plan. This unique variety of sugar, produced only in Mauritius, imparts a delicate caramel flavour to the cake and transmits a sweet fragrance to the kitchen throughout the baking process. I usually divide the batter into halves and bake them as individual cakes in mini Bundt tins. The finishing touch to this gorgeous teatime treat is nothing more than a generous dusting of icing sugar and a sprinkle of coarsely chopped toasted pecan nuts.



100g unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/ 2 cup granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup cold sour cream

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups pastry flour, sifted

1/4 teaspoon table salt

1/2 cup pecans, chopped


  • Cream the butter and sugars together in a food processor with a paddle attachment or with a hand-held electric mixer.
  • With the mixer running at slow speed, add the vanilla then the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  • Mix until you have a smooth batter then transfer the batter to a very large mixing bowl. Keep the electric mixer aside.

  • Stir the baking soda into the sour cream and let it sit for about 5 minutes. The sour cream will increase in volume.
  • Whisk the salt through the flour so that the two are well combined. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the cake batter.
  • Stir just until it has been absorbed. Add in 1/2 of the sour cream and mix until just incorporated. Try not to over mix.

  • Repeat steps, ending with the final portion of flour. Finally fold in the chopped pecans nuts carefully into the batter.
  • Oil a non-stick Bundt pan or butter and flour a regular Bundt pan. Do not omit this step even if the pan is brand new.
  • Preheat oven to 275F. Layer the batter into the prepared cake pan; it should be about three quarter full with batter.

  • Place the pan on the middle rack of your preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Increase the heat to 325F.
  • Bake for about 50 minutes more, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time until cake turns golden brown.
  • If it is still not done after 50 minutes, return to oven, turn off heat and finish baking in the residual heat of the oven.

  • Once the cake is baked, let it cool completely before turning out of the pan. Frost cooled cake with caramel if desired.
  • This cake may be served plain but can be garnished with fruit and whipped cream or toasted and served with ice cream.
  • It keeps quite well in an airtight container and freezes very well if double wrapped, first in waxed paper and then in foil.

Brown Sugar & Pecans

The August Daring Bakers’ Challenge took us for a spin! Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen taught us to make rolled pastries. Ensaimda is a famous Spanish coiled breakfast pastry from Majorca, Spain. The traditional recipe uses lard, however, butter can also be used.

First yeast dough is rolled out until extremely thin, butter is spread on one side and the dough is rolled into a rope and then shaped into a coil. Ensaimda can be plain or can be filled with angel’s hair, custard cream, almond, ice-cream, chocolate or apricots.



2½ cups (10½ oz) (300 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour

2¼ teaspoons (1 packet) (7 gm) active dry yeast

1/2 cup (120 ml) warm water

1 large egg, room temperature

½ teaspoon (3 gm) salt

¼ cup (60 ml) (2 oz) (60 gm) granulated sugar

2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

7 tablespoons (110 ml) (3½ oz) (100 gm) butter, softened

Confectioners’ sugar/icing sugar/powdered sugar for dusting


  • If you are using active dry yeast, add ½ teaspoon sugar add to lukewarm water and set aside for 5 minutes until it proofs.
  • In a large bowl or bowl of kitchen aid mixer combine the sugar, egg and olive oil. To this add flour, salt and yeast mixture.
  • Knead for 6 minutes if using kitchen aid or an electric mixer or 10 minutes by hand, until you get a soft and pliable dough.

  • Transfer the dough to a well greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or covered with a cloth. Let dough rise for 2 hours.
  • It should double in volume. Degas dough and divide into 4 equal parts, then shape it into balls. Lightly oil the work place.
  • Place a ball of dough, using a rolling pin roll out the ball into a long thin rectangle of about 12×4 inch (30×10 cm) piece.

  • Divide the softened butter to 4 pieces. Place one butter portion on the rolled out dough and spread it into a thin layer.
  • Take dough between fingers and try to stretch it gently so that it is even thinner and larger about 16×7 inches (40 x18 cm).
  • Roll the dough from the long end to into a tubular shape. Then roll the tube again into coil shape similar to a snail shell.

  • Make sure to keep the coil loose so that there is enough space in between the layers as this will help the dough to rise.
  • Repeat for the other three dough balls and butter portions. Place snails onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Slightly press the sides with your hand. Cover the baking sheet with a clean cloth and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled.

  • During the end of second rising, pre-heat oven to 180⁰C/350⁰F/Gas mark 4. Bake ensaimadas for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Watch them closely during the end of baking time. They should be golden brown in color. Remove from oven when done.
  • Immediately place them on cooling racks and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar or confectioner’s sugar. Serves 4.

Daring Bakers August 2014 Challenge

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