Chocolate Sponge Drip Cake

This next cake was a small cake order I received. Well, small was the operative word until a last minute change of heart moved it closer into regular cake territory. This customer had recently moved to Aus with her husband and was celebrating her husbands birthday for the first time here together. She said she wanted something special, a homemade ‘Aussie’ cake.


We went over a few ideas and settled on a simple naked sponge with a smattering of chocolate ganache.

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TMNT Birthday Cake

A quick little post this week to show you guys a cake I made for a 5th birthday. The brief was for a TMNT cake with just the little heads poking through the manhole. The other request was to not make the cake too sweet. I was honestly more nervous about this part than anything. You can’t simply cut out the sugar without changing the texture of the cake, and then there’s all that icing!

I decided to drop the sugar amount by about 15% and substituted half the caster sugar with raw sugar. They wanted a red velvet cake so I used an oil-based blended recipe like this one to give me more flexibility with the sugar amount.

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Love Hearts Cookies

When I was a kid one of the great joys of school was heading to the canteen at lunchtime to buy a packet of lollies. I don’t eat many, if any, lollies these days, but I have such an emotional attachment to those I had as a kid. There’s almost more nostalgia-factor attached to these than anything else. One of the most popular lollies were the sherbet-ty lollies called Love Hearts. There’s a few variations of this lolly. In some places they’re called Sweet Hearts, in others they’re called Conversation Hearts. But we all recognise these little heart-shaped lollies with their corny little lovey sayings emblazoned on them. What better time to recreate them in cookie form than for a Valentine’s Day treat?

Recently I’ve been experimenting a lot with making custom cookie cutters. I’ve gotten into 3D modelling and printing as part of my cosplay/prop building hobby. I started bringing these skills across into my baking hobby, but I never quite knew how to approach it as far as the blog went. How do I custom make a tool to use and then post it here without a way to replicate it?

So I’ve started a little Etsy Shop. It’s cosplay resource heavy at the moment, but as I post the cookies here I’ll also be providing the tools I made for sale there. Some ideas, such as these, will be a bit easier to replicate using standard cookie tools than others. But the option will be there should you desire it.

Now, back to cookies!

Cinnamon Stars [Zimtsterne]

Cinnamon is a common theme among these Christmas cookies. And just as well as its probably our favourite spice. Hell, is there anyone who doesn’t like cinnamon? But these next cookies don’t just have cinnamon, they are all about the cinnamon.

Zimtsterne are a German cookie and very popular around Christmas time. Traditionally served by German Jews at the meal after Yom Kippur, the star shape of the cookies represent the nightfall that signifies the end of the fast. It can vary in ingredients but these are cinnamon stars at their most basic. 4 ingredients, minimal prep and did I mention you don’t even have to decorate them? Yeah, that icing goes on before the biscuits even bake.

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Speculaas

Today’s festive cookie is one that has more memories associated with my fiance than me. He has a great number of memories from the Dutch side of his family, particularly his grandparents, feeding him all sorts of treats. Of all the ones he’s asked me to make, speculaas are certainly one of the most requested. And what better excuse to make them than for Christmas.

Traditionally these cookies are baked for St Nicholas Day or for Christmas. As such they are also traditionally stamped with an image depicting St. Nicholas and the stories around him. I didn’t have any springerle moulds so I settled with a simple Christmas star instead.

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Koeksisters

Perhaps I’m stretching the biscuit theme a little here, but when making Klejne I couldn’t help but be reminded of another treat which is similar in method, similar in flour profile, but quite different in result. Koeksisters are a South African treat which is essentially a friend, plaited dough drenched in syrup. Another treat enjoyed year-round particularly in their native home, but often reserved for important celebrations.

Once you make them you might realise why. This is not a treat that favours the waistline. The luxuriously soft donutty dough is lathered generously in a thick, sugary syrup; and its not exactly easy to stop and just one!

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Klejne

Growing up around the northern suburbs of Melbourne meant growing up in a very multicultural area. Almost none of my friends were from white Aussie backgrounds and this meant I was incredibly lucky to grow up surrounded by a rich array of different cultures. One of the ways many of those cultures expressed themselves was through food. Every visit to friends’ houses after school introduced me to a world very unlike my own, and this was especially so at Christmas time. I remember so often being presented with platters full of Christmas cookies to take home of varying shapes and flavours I’d never seen before. Christmas at my house meant roast meats and salads and barbecues and pavlova and chocolate ripple cakes. But baking cookies was never one of our traditions. 

This year I wanted to spend some time visiting those memories and cuisines from around the world. This year I want to send people home with giant platters of traditional Christmas cookies.

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