may: lisa’s blueberry banana bread with mascarpone and honeyed macadamias

I have to admit, when it comes to brunch, I’m not usually a sweet tooth. I normally go for the savoury items – think goats cheese tarts, Moroccan style breakfast tagine with a gooey egg or Spanish chorizo with poached egg and beans. So this month’s sweet brunch challenge was really that, a challenge.

Luckily, my husband is more of a sweet eater in the morning, and suggested banana bread. Great idea I thought, but how can I put a twist on this to make it a little more interesting?

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Along came some inspiration from my travel…. plane food of all things! Last year, I was lucky enough to fly business class between Singapore and Sydney. One of the things I ate as I was coming into Sydney was a scrumptious pancake topped with mascarpone and honeyed walnuts. It was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever eaten on a plane! You may scoff, but let me tell you, it was really really really delicious!

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Anyway, so there was my inspiration to this month’s dish. I decided to pair the banana with some blueberries, and then add some vanilla bean paste to the mascarpone, just for that extra bit of decadence. I used ready made honeyed macadamias for this dish, to save no time, but there’s no reason why you can’t make your own if you’re so inclined. Maybe even add some ground cinnamon to the sugar and egg white mix before baking for something a bit special.

Then to top it all off, drizzle with real maple syrup (not the fake imitation stuff please!) for that final bit of decadence.

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The best thing about this is that you can make the loaf well in advance, and then just slice and toast to warm once you’re ready to serve, making this an idea dish for when you have guests over. Find the recipe here, and enjoy!

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may: kerri’s choc chip scones

choc chip scones1I love these scones. As does everyone I make them for. They are lighter than the traditional scone, quicker to make, and much, much easier to get right! It’s definitely a recipe to keep up your sleeve for when you need to whip up a quick something, or you want to impress without too much fuss!

They are great for a tea time snack but I think they’re also great for a sweet brunch treat too! Light but decadent, you can eat them plain, with softly whipped (or double) cream, with jam, a berry compote, fresh berries… or all of the above!

I’m back in Sydney for a few months and going into winter, berries are out of season. As should cherries be but I found some at a good price, so enjoyed the last of the season, crushing them with some freshly whipped cream to accompany my scone.

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We’ve been super busy since coming back and haven’t been able to entertain yet. So though we enjoyed these at home ourselves, I also packed some up for friends with some simple makeshift craft supplies :) They’re a great treat for anyone who receives them. The feedback from my friends? Delicious!

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Enjoy this one-bowl, quick-mix-with-a-fork, sugar-crusted treat warm from the oven for the ultimate treat. Yum.

You can find the recipe here.

may: jasmine’s cheat’s version of sticky date pudding

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It’s getting cooler in Sydney and the cooler weather conjures up cravings for warm and rich desserts. This month I decided to make sticky date pudding…..that is the short-cut method with an amazing result!

The first time I tried sticky date pudding was on my first trip to Sydney 9 years ago! I had never heard of it before, but I was a fan of dates and it was something different, so I gave it a try. SO glad that I did…love at first bite (ok…cheesy….but true).

This recipe is simple. Really simple. And a crowd pleaser. During the cooler months I make this often. The dessert is re-heated when served, so can be made ahead of time as long as the cake and the caramel are stored separately.

This month, I made it for a mother’s day brunch we had at my Aunt’s house. I baked the sticky date cakes in a muffin tin the night before and put them into an airtight container.

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The caramel sauce I made on the morning of the brunch, but this can also be prepared the night before. To serve, arrange the cakes on a heat proof dish and pour the caramel overtop the cakes. Reheat in the oven at 160C for 5-10 minutes.

Voila! Serve warm with a cup of tea.

may: anna’s fig and pine nut tart

The weather is finally starting to get warmer in NYC. We celebrated the first weekend in May with brunch on our friends’ rooftop deck. There’s typically a short window when the weather is warm enough, but not too hot, to enjoy a whole afternoon sitting outdoors.

I wanted to make something fruity and light for the brunch – something sweet that could be eaten in the middle of the day without feeling like you needed to take a nap afterwards! I recently came across a blog called The British Larder, which has some really beautiful pictures and delicious-sounding recipes. There was a recipe for a fig and pine nut tart, which sounded great! I didn’t know if I’d be able to find figs, so I was prepared to substitute with peaches or plums, or even pears or apples. I usually like to buy fruit when it’s in season, but we can generally get things here year-round. I managed to find the figs in our local supermarket – they were a little pricey, but I thought it would be worth it for this recipe!
Fig Almond Lemon TartThe tart had a shortcrust pasty base. I haven’t really made shortcrust pastry many times before and I don’t have a favorite go-to recipe, but I’d like to find one! This one was very soft and a little difficult to work with, but it actually turned out quite well. The tart filling was made from almond meal with a hint of lemon, and topped with sliced figs and a sprinkle of pine nuts for some extra flavor and texture. The tart came out very light and was just the right texture I was looking for! The fig and pine nut combination was great, but you could really use any seasonal fruit and different nuts such as flaked almonds or chopped pistachios.
Fig and Almond Meal TartFor me, it’s always a tough choice between savory or sweet for brunch. When I’m eating out, ideally I’ll have a dining companion who also likes both, and we’ll order two dishes to share. Unfortunately, my boyfriend only likes savory, so will never go halves with me! But this month’s theme made the choice an easy one!

Find the recipe here