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Hot Cross Buns

Fill your kitchen and your home during this Easter time with the spicy aroma of the very best home made Hot cross buns, made with real ground spices and baked with love for your family and friends!   One of the highlights on the calendar of worldwide annual baking traditions are these buns. A feeling of expectation arises when the pervasive spicy aroma of flavourful yeast-risen buns fill the air in many home kitchens.   Be sure to also try the recipe for Hot Cross Hybrid (Pain Au Chocolat), an Easter-themed pastry.

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Hot Cross Hybrid

This recipe is a cross (excuse the pun!) between a Hot Cross Bun and the popular French pastry, pain au chocolat, which is made with yeast-leavened dough and filled with chocolate.  “Pain au chocolat” literally means chocolate bread.

Be sure to also try the traditional recipes for traditional Croissants and Hot Cross Buns.

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Tamarillo Cheesecake

Finding out how to utilise tamarillos when in season is worth doing!  Tamarillo, also known as tree tomatoes, can grow to about two meters tall with clusters of fruit that slowly ripen to a deep red. The taste can be described as “unusual and interesting – even as “an acquired taste”.  See the image below.  The unique tropical flavour which reminds of a mix between passion fruit and guava and a hint of other fruits, turns a cheesecake into a sublime dessert or tea time treat. Continue reading Tamarillo Cheesecake

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Fillets Of Venison With Juniper Berries

Juniper berries pairs very well with venison. Read the post Juniper Berries for more info on this superfood. To improve the flavour and soften the meat, marinate it for several hours or for up to 3 days in the fridge or freezer before cooking.  The Cooked Marinade used in this recipe is by Carolié de Koster from the Art of Cooking Recipe book p. 294.   Be sure to also try the recipe for German Pot Roast (Sauerbraten).  It is an authentic German dish that is flavoured with Juniper berries.
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Every home should permanently have a jar of Biscotti in the kitchen! Best biscuits ever to nibble or dunk in coffee or as the Italians do, in sherry or wine! Thanks to the clever Italians!
New style biscotti are light, crisp and irresistible and have gained popularity worldwide! These Italian “biscuits” were traditionally hard and dry and to become palatable, they were dipped into dessert wine or after dinner cappuccino. Currently many delightful variations are made which can be nibbled on as is, at any time of the day! And best of all, they are not difficult to make at home!

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Chicken & Chicken Liver Pâté Phyllo Roll

Baked paté as good as it gets! Serve warm as a nutritious light meal with mashed potato and steamed vegetables or snack-style, either warm or cold, with favourite pickles or pickled vegetables, sweet chilli sauce and olives. Be sure to also try Carolié’s Chicken Liver Pâté With Bacon & Port.

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Mashed Potatoes With Variations

This recipe for plain mashed potatoes makes the creamiest, fluffiest mashed potatoes imaginable. If possible, purchase floury potatoes especially suited for mashing – check that the other varieties are completely tender before attempting to mash them.  Be sure to try the variations listed below for an interesting take on this popular starch staple.

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Beesting Pastries

A classic confection from Germany, known as “Bienenstich Kuchen”, turned into decorative pastries. The crunchy nutty caramel topping contrasts well with the rich and creamy custard filling!

According to Wikipedia: “the cake may have earned its name from its honey topping: according to one legend, a bee was attracted to the cake and the baker who invented the cake was stung”. 

Prep time       30 minutes plus rising time
Cook time      ± 20 minutes
Yields              24 small pastries

1¾ cups (400 ml) cake flour
1 sachet instant yeast (8 to 10 g)
½ tsp (2.5 ml) salt
1/3 cup (75 ml) sugar
2/3 cups (175 ml) lukewarm milk
1/3 cup (85 ml / 75 g) butter
1 large egg
½ tsp (2.5 ml) vanilla essence
± ½ cup (125 ml) additional flour

Caramel and Nut Topping
1/3 cup (85 ml / 75 g) butter
1/3 cup (85 ml) cream
½ cup (125 ml) sugar
¼ cup (60 ml) honey or syrup
1 cup (250 ml / 100 g) sliced (flaked) almonds
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla essence

Custard Filling
1/3 cup (75 ml) custard powder
2 Tbsp (30 ml) cornflour
1/3 cup (75 ml) sugar
good pinch salt
2 cups (500 ml) milk
1 cup (250 ml) cream (added after cooling)

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the additional flour in a mixing bowl and beat well. Add sufficient of the extra flour to form a soft dough and knead only until smooth. Cover and allow to rise in a mildly warm spot until doubled (30 minutes).
  2. While the dough is rising, prepare the custard for the filling. Combine all the ingredients except the cream in a large jug and microwave 3 minutes on High until the custard starts to thicken. Beat well and microwave until the very thick custard becomes bubbly. Beat well and allow to cool and refrigerate until quite cold before completing the filling with the added cream.
  3. While dough is rising, also place all the ingredients for the topping into a small saucepan and stir over moderate heat until syrupy. Simmer the topping for 5 minutes and set aside to cool slightly before using.
  4. Grease 24 cups of two medium size muffin tins with butter. Knead down the dough and divide into 24 portions (± golf ball size). Pinch off balls or roll into a strand and cut and adjust the portions until there are 24 even sized portions.
  5. Place the balls into the muffin cups as you go and with the fingertips flatten the top. Allow to rise for 10 to 15 minutes until doubled.
  6. While the dough is rising prepare the filling. custard and allow to cool. Place the ingredients for the topping into a small saucepan and bring to boil over moderate heat, stirring. Allow to simmer at least 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes syrupy. Cool to lukewarm.
  7. Preheat the oven to 180ºC while the pastries are rising. With the fingertips, make a small hollow on top of the risen pastries and divide the topping between the pastries. Bake 18 – 20 minutes or until golden brown and firm. Cool a few minutes and remove to a cooling rack. Do not cool in the tins as the topping will harden and make them stick
  8. To complete the filling, add the cream to the cold firm custard and beat with an electric beater or blend with a stick blender until completely smooth.
  9. Cut the cold pastries in half horizontally and pipe or spread the custard filling over the base. Cover with the top layers and serve or refrigerate until required.


  • The recipe will make about 24 small pastries – if the balls are slightly larger and a few less pastries are made it will not matter at all.
  • The filled pastries will keep well if refrigerated for up to 4 days.
  • The baked pastries without custard filling freeze well to thaw and fill when required. To freeze half of the pastries and fill only half, cook half of the filling.

Recipe by Carolié de Koster from the Art Of Cooking Recipe Book p. 851.

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Cooked Marinade

To improve the flavour and soften the meat, marinate it for several hours or for up to 3 days in the fridge or freezer before pot-roasting, roasting, grilling or barbecuing.  The marinade can be used for large joints, steaks or ribs and will be sufficient for up to 5 kg of meat. Use only glass bowls for marinating – metal bowls will react with the marinade, while plastic bowls absorb flavours and will become stained. The meat can be frozen in the marinade for several weeks, which has the added advantage that it is immediately ready for use after thawing.  Be sure to try the recipe for Fillets Of Venison With Juniper Berries.  Be sure to read the post Juniper Berries for more info on this superfood.

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Fun With Phylllo

Phyllo pastry is such a versatile ingredient.  It can be used for everything from snacks and appetizers to main dishes and impressive desserts!  Phyllo pastry is made with flour, water and a small amount of oil or white vinegar. Phyllo-based pastries are made by layering many sheets of phyllo pastry brushed with olive oil or melted butter. The pastry is then filled, shaped and baked.  The crisp texture of baked phyllo pastries is achieved by the extreme thinness of the dough and by brushing each sheet lightly with melted butter before using it. The butter helps keep the sheets from sticking together while the recipe bakes and produces separate fragile sheets of pastry.

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Baked Cheesecake Loaf

This is a neat cheesecake, most suitable for serving in coffee shops or as an elegant dessert, sliced and served plain or surrounded by a fruit sauce or fresh fruit.

Crumb Coating
200 g ginger biscuits, crushed
2,5 ml ground cinnamon
butter (to grease the pan)

Cheesecake Mixture
5 large eggs, separated
30 ml sugar
500 g smooth, plain cottage cheese100 g butter, melted
150 ml sugar
75 ml cornflour
75 ml cake flour
30 ml lemon juice (optional)
5 ml vanilla extract

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 ℃.
  2. Grease one large loaf tin (2 liter capacity) or two smaller loaf tins (19 cm x 9 cm x 5 cm) generously with butter.
  3. Mix the crumbs and cinnamon and sprinkle into the tin(s). Shake to allow the crumbs to coat the sides evenly, then turn out the excess onto waxed paper and reserve for the top of the cake if preferred.
  4. Beat the egg whites until just firm and gradually beat in the 30 ml sugar.
  5. Add the egg yolks and beat lightly until combined.
  6. Place all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and beat very well for 3 to 4 minutes.
  7. Add the beaten egg mixture and beat in gently fut thoroughly.
  8. Pour the mixture into the tin(s) allowing at least 10 mm rising space.
  9. Sprinkle the excess crumbs over the top, if preferred.
  10. Bake for 50 minutes for the large loaf tin or 35 to 40 minutes for the smaller loaf tins, until set.
  11. The cake should rise very gradually until set and rounded at the top.
  12. If the cake rises to fast, turn down the oven temperature to 150 ℃.
  13. When the cake is firm if tested in the centre with the fingertips, switch off the oven, open the door slightly and place a spoon in the door if necessary.
  14. Allow to cool in the oven for 1 hour to prevent shrinkage and ensure the best texture.
  15. Turn the cheesecake out onto a serving platter and serve while still slightly warm or cool, cover and refrigerate until required.

Servings: 12

Recipe by Carolié de Koster for the Art Of Cooking Recipe Book p. 611.


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Strawberry and Custard Phyllo Pastry Pie

A memorable fruity dessert with “lean” custard and a crispy and light deep filo pastry case! Strawberries are a top contender as far as Vitamin C goes – six to eight provide the needs for the day as well as fibre and “sweetness” without many kilojoules.  Make the pastry shell in advance to have ready when the filling is made. Cool the custard before placing the strawberries on top and finishing off with the glaze.

Phyllo Pastry Pie Shell
6 sheets filo pastry
60 ml butter, melted

700 ml milk
60 ml cake flour
60 ml cornflour
10 ml custard powder
100 ml sugar
pinch salt
3 large egg yolks
5 ml vanilla essence
60 ml additional milk
3 large egg whites

Strawberry Topping
± 400 g fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
250 ml red fruit juice (any favourite)
30 ml cornflour (Maizena)

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Brush a 24 cm loose bottom baking tin or deep pie dish with butter.
  2. Place 3 sheets of pastry onto the work surface, brush with butter and cover with the next three sheets to lie exactly on top of the first to make a perfect double layer.
  3. Brush one double layer with butter and place the next two double layers star-shaped on top, brushing in between.
  4. Lift up the layers, place into the greased tin or dish and press gently into the dish to shape and create a frilly edged pastry case.
  5. Bake the filo shell about 6 minutes watching it constantly until a pale golden colour is reached.
  6. Cool a few minutes, lift out and place onto a serving plate – ready for the filling!
  7. Pour the first measure of milk into a large jug or bowl suitable to use in the microwave and microwave 4 minutes on High to bring it almost to boiling point.
  8. Combine the dry ingredients, egg yolks and vanilla with the additional milk and stir into the warm milk. Microwave on High for 3 minutes, beat well with a whisk and microwave 1 minute at a time, beating in between until bubbly, smooth and thickened.
  9. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and fold into the thickened mixture until evenly combined.
  10. Microwave 2 minutes more, beat lightly and pour into the baked pie shell. Allow to cool.
  11. Arrange the strawberries decoratively on top of the firm cooled custard.
  12. Mix the cornflour and red juice in a jug and microwave on High for 2 minutes.
  13. Beat well and microwave until thickened and transparent.
  14. Cool a few minutes and spoon over the strawberries.
  15. Refrigerate the pie at least one hour before cutting and serving.

6 servings.

Recipe by Carolie de Koster.  There is a whole chapter on Phyllo Pastry in the Art Of Cooking Recipe book. Be sure to check it out!