Cream cheese swirl bread

Fancy a rich, sweet bread for breakfast this weekend?

Cream cheese swirl bread

Weekend breakfasts around here are rarely a family affair. Instead, it’s a slow trickle of people wandering out from under the covers to grab a coffee or a slice of toast. Once the temperature starts dropping, though, I am more inclined to rally them round the table (although admittedly it’s more like brunch before I can get some of them out of bed). Steaming mugs of coffee or hot chocolate, slabs of sweet bread and a whole lot of laughter is a great way to start a day, especially if the sky is grey and the leaves are falling onto the damp ground.

Makes 2 loaves


500g (scant 4 cups) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 x 7g sachet (2 1/4 tsp) instant dry yeast
300ml (1 1/4 cups) milk
50g (1/4 cup) granulated (white) sugar
1 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract


200g (7 oz) cream cheese
2 tsp vanilla extract
250g (2 cups unsifted) powdered (confectioners’) sugar
65g (1/2 cup) all-purpose (plain) flour


1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tsp water
2 tsp sugar


In a large bowl, whisk together 250g (2 cups) of flour and the yeast.

In a small saucepan, mix the milk, sugar and salt, and warm over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves and the milk reaches 45°C (110°F).

Add the milk mixture, egg and vanilla to the flour and yeast and mix until smooth.

Add the remaining flour half a cup at a time, until you have a smooth dough, kneading for at least 5 minutes. It will start out sticky, but it will become soft and smooth as you knead.

Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until it doubles in size, about one hour.

The dough can now be refrigerated in an airtight container overnight, if desired.

Filling, assembly & baking

Butter or spray two 25cm (10″) loaf pans.

Stir together cream cheese, milk and vanilla until smooth. Whisk together the powdered sugar and flour, then add to cream cheese mixture and stir to combine.

On a lightly floured surface and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough to a 40 x 50cm (16 × 20”) rectangle.

Spread dough with filling then roll up from the short edge to form a tight log. Cut into two equal halves.

Transfer loaves to the pans, brush with egg wash, cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about one hour. Rising will take longer if dough was refrigerated overnight.

Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F).

Brush loaves with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake in centre of oven for about 25 minutes, until golden.

Cool in the pans for 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days (although fresh is best).

Posted in bread, breakfast, snack, sweet | Leave a comment

Turkish Delight macarons

I’m continuing in my quest to create new and exciting macaron flavours, and, once again, taking my cue from something else. I’ve made rose macarons before, but for these ones I wanted actual Turkish Delight to feature. The recipe I used for the Turkish Delight was halved (because that’s all I needed for this project) and slightly adapted from and it is a beauty. As for the shells, they are standard Italian meringue method ones but with a portion of the almonds replaced with pistachios. They are a bit softer than an all-almond shell, though, because of the higher oil content of the pistachios.

Turkish Delight macarons

If you want to make Turkish Delight just to eat, use a square or rectangular baking dish, about 20 x 20cm (8 x 8″) heavily coated with non-stick spray to set it overnight, cut it into cubes with an oiled knife and pack the pieces in plenty of powdered sugar.

Turkish Delight

400g (2 cups) granulated (white) sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
540ml (2 1/4 cups) water, divided
80g (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) cornstarch
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp rosewater
a few drops pink gel or pinch pink powder food colouring

powdered (confectioner’s) sugar for dipping cookie cutter


Place the granulated sugar, lemon juice and 180ml (3/4 cup) of the water in a medium heavy-based saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil. I don’t stir at all to avoid getting sugar on the sides of the pot, but if necessary, you can brush down the sides of the pot with a wet pastry brush. Do not stir at all once it starts boiling, though. Insert a candy thermometer.

Allow the sugar mixture to continue boiling, without stirring, until it reaches 115°C (240°F) – soft ball stage – on the candy thermometer.

When the sugar syrup is around 107°C (225°F), get the other part prepared. Place the remaining 360ml (1 1/2 cups) of water in a medium-large heavy-based saucepan. Add the cornstarch and cream of tartar and whisk until the cornstarch dissolves completely. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. The mixture will become thick and pasty.

Once the sugar syrup is at 115°C (240°F), remove it from the heat. Very slowly and carefully pour it into the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly until it is fully combined.

Reduce the heat to low and let it bubble, whisking it every 8-10 minutes, for about an hour, until the mixture has turned a light golden-yellow colour and is very thick and gluey.

After an hour, remove from the heat and whisk in the food colouring and the rosewater. Pour onto a silicon mat and spread with a silicon spatula to about 1/2cm (1/5″) and allow it to set, uncovered, for about three hours.

Macaron shells

90g ground almonds
50g unsalted pistachio kernels (peeled, if you can get them)
140g powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
100g egg white (from approx. large 3 eggs), room temperature, divided 50/50
100g granulated (white) sugar
40g water
a few drops green gel or pinch pink powder food colouring (optional)


Prepare 2 parchment lined baking sheets.

Mix the ground almonds, pistachios and powdered sugar together then grind in batches in a food processor until you have an extra fine texture.

Sift into a large bowl, re-grinding any bigger pieces of nut.

Add 50g egg whites and mix thoroughly into the nut mixture. Set aside.

In another bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the other 50g egg whites to stiff peaks.

Meanwhile, put the granulated sugar and water into a small saucepan and heat without stirring on medium-low to 118°C (245°F) – firm ball stage.

While whisking the egg white constantly on low speed (to avoid splashing hot syrup), slowly add the cooked sugar mixture to the beaten egg whites, pouring it down the inside edge of the bowl. Whisk at high speed until the mixture is cool, about 3 minutes. Add the desired amount of green gel or powder colouring just before the end. The mixture should increase in volume and become firm and shiny – you should get a beak when you lift the whisk.

Scrape the meringue onto the almond mixture and incorporate with a rubber or silicone spatula until you have a homogenous batter that runs from the spatula in a thick ribbon. This batter will get thin far more quickly than an almond one because of the high oil content of the pistachios, so watch it carefully.

Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 7 – 9mm (1/4 – 1/3″) plain tip (this is best done in two batches, so you don’t overfill the bag). Pipe 60 equally sized rounds, about 4cm (1 1/2″), in staggered rows onto the prepared sheets. Hold the piping bag upright with the tip just above the sheet and pipe without pulling upwards or swirling in circles, so the batter comes out in a round blob around the tip, and give a little sideways flick at the end to break the stream.

Tap the baking sheets firmly on the bench several times to release air bubbles and obtain a smooth surface. Leave to rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, until a slight skin forms.

Meanwhile, preheat oven (bottom heat only) to 150°C (300°F).

Bake the macarons for 18 minutes, one sheet at a time, on the middle shelf, turning the sheet half-way.

Remove from oven and remove the parchment from the tray with the shells still on it and place on a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes, until completely cool, then remove macaron shells carefully from the parchment.

When ready to fill your macarons, use a 4cm (1 1/2″) cookie cutter, frequently dipped in powdered sugar, to cut the Turkish Delight into 30 discs – they are quite sticky but not difficult to handle. Sandwich the Turkish Delight disc between two macaron shells each. The extra bits can be packed in powdered sugar either to eat or to use elsewhere, for example, dice them up and add them to ice cream or cake filling or frosting.

Store macarons in an airtight container at room temperature to mature for 24 hours before eating.

Posted in biscuit, candy, cookie, macaron, sweet | Leave a comment

Banana and brown sugar muffin tin rolls

Fluffy and sweet, a perfect lunchbox or after school treat.
Or breakfast, because they’ve got fruit in them?

Banana and brown sugar muffin tin rolls

A friend of mine posted a comment on a social media site recently that said, “On average I spend $50 a year to watch bananas turn brown.” My first thought was, “And how quickly we grow weary of banana bread!”. So when I found a couple of very ripe bananas in the fruit basket, I decided to do something a little different with them. As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m a big fan of muffin tin rolls – they are easy to throw together, the variations are endless and they are perfect for popping into a lunchbox. And I love, love, love playing with yeasted dough.

Makes 24


100g (7 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
600g (4 4/5 cups) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 x 7g sachet (2 1/4 tsp) instant dry yeast (or 8g, 2/12 tsp active dry yeast)
1 tsp salt
75g (1/3 cup, packed) brown (demerara) sugar
200g (7 oz, 14 tbsp) sour cream
2 large eggs
2 medium sized ripe bananas, mashed


125g (1 cup) all-purpose (plain) flour
325g (1 1/2 cups, packed) brown (demerara) sugar
170g (3/4 cup, 1 1/2 sticks)) butter, room temperature

1 egg, lightly beaten together with 1 tsp water for wash


Rub butter into flour with your fingertips until it has the texture of soft breadcrumbs.

Add yeast, mix thoroughly, then add salt and sugar.

Whisk together sour cream, eggs and mashed banana then add to the dry mixture, stirring to combine.

Either fit the mixer with a dough hook or turn dough out onto a clean work surface and knead until soft and elastic. It will be quite wet and sticky.

Transfer dough to a large, buttered bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, about an hour, but up to two, depending on ambient temperature.

Grease or line two 12-hole muffin tins.

Gently push down the dough, turn out onto a well floured surface and knead together briefly, cut in two equal pieces, cover one half with plastic wrap and roll the other half out to a rectangle about 30 x 40cm (12 x 16″) with a floured rolling pin.

Put the flour, brown sugar and butter for the filling in a medium bowl and mix with a fork until it looks like wet sand, then smear the rectangle with it.

Take a sharp knife, dip the blade in flour as needed, and cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 6 equal pieces crosswise. Roll the strips of dough from the short edge then arrange them cut-side-up in the prepared muffin tins, squishing them in as needed.

Repeat with the other half of the dough. I do it one by one this way so the first batch is ready to go into the oven earlier, that way the second batch doesn’t overproof.

At this point, the rolls can be covered and refrigerated overnight – just bring them to room temperature for an hour or so in the morning before rising and baking. Or you can freeze them – cover tightly in plastic wrap, transfer to freezer bags when completely frozen, then thaw before rising and baking.

Cover rolls loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F).

Brush rolls with egg wash then bake one tray at a time in centre of oven for 20 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Posted in bread, cake, muffin, snack, sweet | 2 Comments

Condensed milk thumbprint cookies

condensed milk thumbprint cookies with strawberry jam

Nestlé make sweetened condensed milk and have a website loaded with recipes for their products. You’d think they’d be careful, right? Like, in a cookie recipe that is built around one of their most popular products, they’d actually get the instructions right? The instructions relating to when to add their product in the recipe? Nope! I must have read it ten times, thinking I’m going blind because how could they just leave it out? I even did a search on the page. But my eyesight wasn’t the issue this time! They left it out! And there’s no comment section to let them know, so I’ll just publicly shame them instead :p

Anyway, this recipe is adapted from theirs, and unless I’m mistaken, the directions contain all the steps required to produce a lovely cookie with a crisp exterior, chewy interior and a sticky jam filling.


Makes about 45

60g (1/2 stick or 1/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
100g (1/2 cup) granulated (white) sugar
200g (2/3 cup) sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg
350g (2 4/5 cups) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 1/2 tsp baking (bicarb) soda
1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup strawberry (or other) jam


Place butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until light and fluffy.

Add egg and beat until thick, then add condensed milk and beat until smooth.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt, add to wet mixture and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon just until combined.

Form dough into a slightly flattened ball, wrap tightly in plastic or place in a large ziploc bag and refrigerate for about an hour.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and line two cookie sheets with baking paper.

Take walnut sized bits of dough and roll into balls, press slightly onto baking sheets and use your thumb or fingertip to create a deep indentation in the top. Put a small half teaspoon of jam into each indentation.

Bake one sheet at a time in centre of oven for about 15 minutes, until pale golden.

Remove from oven and cool on tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Posted in biscuit, cookie, snack, sweet | 5 Comments

Vietnamese caramelised tofu with red peppers

Quick and easy, sweet and spicy and full of flavour, this Vietnamese caramelised tofu with red peppers is one of our regular weeknight stir fry dinners. We serve it with noodles and a side of stir fried Asian greens.

Vietnamese caramelised tofu with red peppers

This recipe was adapted from a video recipe on herbivoracious – I eyeballed the quantities for the sauce and changed the method and ingredients a bit to suit us.


Serves 6

peanut oil for frying
about 600g (21 oz) firm tofu, dried on paper towel and sliced
2 medium onions, halved and sliced lengthwise
100g (1/2 cup) granulated (white) sugar
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine or sake
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
chilli flakes to taste (I use about 1/2 tsp)

1-2 red peppers (depending on size), chopped
2 spring onions (scallions), chopped


Heat a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil in a large skillet and fry tofu until golden on both sides (you may need to do it in 2 batches). Remove from pan and set aside to drain on paper towel.

Add a dash more oil if needed and fry onion on medium heat for a few minutes, just until softened.

Whisk together sauce ingredients (sugar > chilli flakes), pour into pan and bring to a simmer over high heat.

Stir in tofu and let cook over high heat until sauce caramelises, about 5 minutes.

Add red pepper and stir fry until just cooked but still crisp.

Serve topped with chopped spring onions.

Posted in asian, dressings&sauces, tofu | 2 Comments

Prague Kolach

It’s Daring Bakers time and I am actually posting on reveal day for a change!!! Yay me!  ;)

This month, we were given a choice of three amazing Czech traditional sweet treats, and as 3G was going to a bring-a-plate party and volunteered to provide dessert (yes, I got less than 24 hours notice that I was making dessert for a bunch of teenagers), I went for the Prague Kolach. It was a hit!

Pražský koláč (Prague Kolach)

I did mess with the system, though, so this is my interpretation… The original recipe called for mayonnaise in the cake but as I was getting everything out to bake I realised I was out, so I used mascarpone instead. The original recipe also called for a pastry cream made with custard powder (like vanilla pudding mix) and I didn’t have any of that either, so I made my usual pastry cream instead. As always, the recipe given here is as I made it. For the original recipe and the recipes for the other two types of kolach, see the pdf linked below.

Pastry cream

240ml (1 cup) whole milk, divided
2 tbsp cornstarch
75g (6 tbsp) granulated (white) sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

75ml (5 tbsp) double, heavy or whipping cream, chilled


Dissolve cornstarch in 1⁄4 cup of milk in a mixing bowl.

Combine the remaining 3/4 cup milk with the sugar in a small to medium heavy based saucepan on medium-low heat, bring to the boil, whisking occasionally so it doesn’t form a skin on top or scald on the bottom, then remove from heat.

Beat the egg yolks and vanilla into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly (this tempers the eggs so they don’t cook before they are mixed into the custard).

Return saucepan to low heat and pour the egg mixture back into the milk in a stream while continuously whisking.

Continue whisking until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Scrape into a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to fill cake, whip the cream to stiff peaks and fold into pastry cream.


250g (2 cups, scooped and scraped) all-purpose (plain) flour
30g (2 slightly heaped tbsp) granulated (white) sugar
1 x 7g sachet (2 1/4 tsp) instant dry yeast
1⁄2 tsp fine salt
125g (1/2 cup) mascarpone, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature (I used a medium one)
75ml (5 tbsp) milk, warm


50g (1/3 cup) all-purpose (plain) flour
50g (1/4 cup) granulated (white) sugar
1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
50g (3 1/2 tbsp) butter, chilled and diced

1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash


Note: if using active dry yeast instead of instant, activate it in the milk for five minutes before proceeding.

Whisk together flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl, then add mascarpone, egg and milk and mix to combine. Knead with dough hook on low speed or by hand for 10 minutes, until you have smooth dough. It will be very soft and sticky.

Scrape dough into a ball, cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, until doubled in volume.

Tip the dough into a lightly greased cake pan, 20 – 25cm (8 – 10″) in diameter. Press the dough out into the pan with damp fingertips. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F) while you prepare the topping.


In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add cold butter and, with your fingers, mix all ingredients until you have the texture of soft breadcrumbs.

Brush the cake with egg wash and sprinkle with the topping.

Bake in centre of oven for about 25 minutes, until golden.

Cool cake in pan for ten minutes then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before filling.

Use a large serrated knife to cut the cake into two layers, spread the pastry cream onto the bottom half and replace the top.


Daring Kitchen Blog-checking lines: The September Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Lucie from ChezLucie. She challenged us to make a true Czech treat –Kolaches!

Download the original recipe pdf here.

Posted in cake, daring bakers, dessert, sweet | 12 Comments

Vegetarian sausage rolls

Packed with 3 different kinds of beans for taste and texture, these vegetarian sausage rolls are low in fat and loaded with goodness. You can add herbs and spices to your taste, make big ones for dinner or little ones for finger food, and they just take a few minutes to throw together.

We served ours with barbecue sauce and spicy wedges.

Vegetarian sausage rolls


Makes 16

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely minced
2 – 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 x 400g (14 oz) can cannellini beans
1 x 400g (14 oz) can red kidney beans
1 x 400g (14 oz) can chick peas (garbanzos)
2 tbsp tomato paste or ketchup
2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper

2 sheets puff pastry, each 42 x 26cm (approx. 16 x 10″), thawed if frozen
1 egg, lightly beaten for egg wash, or 1 tbsp oil for vegan


Preheat oven to 220°C (430°F) and line a large baking sheet with parchment.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and cook the onion until it starts to soften, then add the garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Rinse and drain the beans well, then roughly mash them together with the onion and garlic, tomato paste or ketchup and oregano – you can do this in the saucepan, so you don’t need to dirty a bowl. Season well.

Cut the pastry sheets in half lengthwise. Put a quarter of the filling lengthwise down the centre of each piece of pastry, then fold the sides tightly over the filling and pinch closed. You can use some water or egg wash to seal it if you like, but I found it unnecessary. Use a sharp knife to cut each long roll into four.

Place the rolls seam-side-down on the parchment, brush with egg wash or oil and bake in the centre of the oven for about 20 – 25 minutes, until golden brown.


Posted in burgers&patties, pastry, tart&pie | 6 Comments