The Great Kiwi Pav

I’m a Kiwi so as far as I’m concerned the pavlova came from New Zealand. I’ve never researched the origins so my opinion is solely based on my cultural loyalty!

My Scottish mother struggled with making a pavlova, that one dessert that every wife in New Zealand could make.  I’m aware of many stressful attempts until she found the recipe that worked for her. This is the recipe that I use to this day and I swear by it too!

It isn’t fancy and it isn’t ornate it’s just delicious! In New Zealand it’s traditionally decorated with fresh strawberries and kiwi fruit but I find a selection of fresh berries works just as well.

With my brother and his family over from New Zealand for a holiday it’s an ideal time to make one so I thought I’d share my recipe with you.


4 free range egg whites

225g caster sugar

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 dessertspoon cornflour 

2 teaspoons vinegar ( white or malt is fine)

Preheat the oven to 130C ( 250F, gas mark 1/2).

Beat the egg whites until stiff – you should be able to tip the bowl upside down and they won’t shift.

Add half the sugar gradually while beating. Beat until firm peaks have formed.

Fold in the remaining ingredients.

Pile onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment, use a bit of the raw pavlova mix to stick the paper down. You’re looking for a roughly 9 inch round circle.

Bake for 1 hour and a half. When the time is up turn the oven off – don’t open the oven to check it! Leave it to cool completely, preferably over night.

When you’re ready to eat it, smother your pavlova with whipped cream ( I add caster sugar and vanilla extract to mine) and decorate with berries of your choice.

Enjoy xx

Date Cake with Cooked Coconut Icing

img_0692I did have a lovely summery cake planned for this week but given the autumnal feel to the weather I thought this was more appropriate!

This is a recipe I’ve had for years, long before I left NZ.  I can’t remember where it came from unfortunately, possibly from Cuisine Magazine would be my best guess.

It’s a lovely moist (cringy word I know but a good one for cakes!), moreish cake that’s great with a cup of strong, freshly brewed coffee.

The recipe I have is for an 8 inch round cake and given that it only has one egg it’s difficult to scale up to my preferred 9 inch round size.  I’ve left it at 8 inch round for simplicity.  It’s an easy cake to make and lovely eaten while still warm with a bit of cream.

Date Cake with Cooked Coconut Icing

125g dates, chopped
250ml boiling water
125g butter
220g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 free range egg, beaten
50g walnuts, chopped
200g plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda

60g butter
90g light brown sugar
30ml (2 tablespoons) milk
80g desiccated coconut

Grease and line a 8 inch round, deep cake tin. Preheat oven to 180ºC (170ºC Fan Oven, Gas Mark 4).

Cover the chopped dates with boiling water and stand aside until lukewarm.

Cream butter and sugar.  Add vanilla and beaten egg.  Beat well.

Add the dates in their liquid, the walnuts and sifted flour & baking soda.

Turn mix into prepared tin.  Bake at 180ºC for 35 minutes or until the cake shrinks back slightly from the side of the tin.

Prepare the icing and gently spread on top of the cake.  Bake for 10 minutes more or until topping is golden.

Melt butter, light brown sugar and milk together until boiling.  Remove from the heat and add the coconut.

Elderflower & Lemon Cake

Elderflower & Lemon Cake

It may not be very summery at the moment but I’m sure better weather is just around the corner!  A great cake for summer is this Elderflower & Lemon Cake, we made it as our Summer Cake of the Season at Beau’s Bakehouse last year and it went down very well.  So well that a version of this recipe appears in The Cotswold Cook Book published by Meze Publishing earlier this year.

This cake is an elderflower and lemon flavoured sponge sandwiched together with lemon curd and elderflower buttercream and then topped with a lemon glace icing and lemon zest.

The way I make sponges is to weigh the eggs (still in their shells) and then weigh the butter, sugar and flour to the same weight.  I find this makes a lovely textured, delicious sponge.  I always use butter in my baking – I find the flavour and mouthfeel is much better than margarine and well worth the extra spend.

The recipe below makes 1 x 9 inch round sponge.

Elderflower & Lemon Cake

Eggs                                   300g (as close as you can get – it’s about 5 eggs)
Butter, softened              Weigh to eggs
Caster Sugar                    Weigh to eggs
Self Raising Flour           Weigh to eggs
Elderflower Cordial        50mls
Lemon Zest                       1 lemon


Elderflower Cordial           75mls
Lemon Juice                         1 lemon
Sugar                                     23g

Elderflower Buttercream

Butter, softened                    75g
Icing Sugar                            150g
Elderflower Cordial             2 – 3 tablespoons

Lemon Curd

Homemade Lemon Curd      2 tablespoons

Lemon Glace Icing

Icing Sugar, sifted                  475g
Lemon Juice                            1 – 2 lemons
Lemon Zest                              1 – 2 lemons, use a hand zester to get lovely long curls

Line the bases of 2 x 9 inch round sponge tins.  Preheat oven to 180ºC (170ºC Fan Oven, Gas Mark 4).

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes.  Gradually beat in the eggs.  Don’t worry if the mix curdles slightly it will rectify itself when the flour is added.

Gradually add the sifted flour, fold it in gently by hand to ensure you don’t lose any of the air you’ve incorporated into the mix.

Fold in the elderflower and lemon zest.

Spoon into your prepared tins and bake for about 25 minutes, until risen and the surface springs back when lightly pressed.

When the sponges come out of the oven heat up the drizzle ingredients (on a stove or in a microwave) until the sugar has dissolved.  Spread evenly over both sponges and leave in the tin to cool.

Elderflower Buttercream

Cream the butter and icing sugar together until pale and creamy.  Add the elderflower cordial to taste (making sure you don’t add too much or it will curdle) and beat until light and fluffy.

To Make Up

Spread one sponge with 2 tablespoons of lemon curd.  If you don’t have homemade lemon curd a good quality bought one will be fine.

Spread the other sponge with the Elderflower Buttercream and sandwich together.

Make the lemon glace icing by mixing together the sifted icing sugar and lemon juice until you have a medium pouring consistency – you want it to spread easily over the top of the sponge and just drizzle over the edges.  Drizzle over the sponge and sprinkle with lemon zest.

This size cake will give 12 wedges of cake, if it’s too much to eat straight away it can be frozen for up to a month.  Otherwise it will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container.



Caramelised Figs!

IMG_0674Given that my blog is called caramelised figs it seems fitting that I should talk a little bit about this delicacy!

To make mine I halve them length ways, roll in sugar and then gently cook in butter over a low heat until caramelised.  When they’re a lovely golden brown colour I remove them from the pan and either eat them as is or have the with ice cream or crème fraiche for something a bit different.

One of the best things you can do is take a leaf out of Nigel Slater’s book (Real Fast Puddings) and serve the caramelised figs with crème fraiche in a croissant.  In his book Nigel uses apples but it works just as well with figs!  Enjoy!

Welcome to My Blog

I’ve finally done it! I’ve been thinking about doing this for ages and last week thought “Just do it Jacqui!”.  After a few technical issues (I’m not the most technically minded) it’s here.

The blog is primarily going to be about baking, because that’s what I do, but I also love food and drink generally so I’ve decided not to limit myself.

I’ve thought a lot about what to call this blog and from the start decided that I wanted to choose flavours and foods that I enjoy.  I love figs and anything to do with caramel and as I love caramelised figs it seemed an obvious choice.  They can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes so it seemed like a good decision.

You’ll find me posting lots of recipes I grew up with, lots I’ve developed and some that I’ve tried from the numerous cook books I own.  I’m not the best photographer but I do promise to work on it because I know how important photography  is with food – there’s nothing more disappointing than a great cook book with rubbish photos.