This is a perfect autumn recipe – inspired by the flavors of freshly picked apples, and freshly harvested walnuts. Serve it up for morning tea, grab one for an emergency breakfast, or enjoy it warm with a dollop of cream for dessert. It’s also useful in being a recipe suitable for those needing or choosing to avoid eggs and dairy products.
- 1/2 cup (125ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 cup (220g) raw brown sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce or stewed apples
- 2 cups (250g) self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon ground / grated nutmeg optional
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts optional
- 1/2 cup sultanas optional
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Grease and flour a 20cm square cake tin.
Mix olive oil with sugar and applesauce, then beat well.
Stir in flour and nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.
Add nuts and sultanas if using, and mix through.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until done.
Remember to make sure the Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and walnuts you’re using are fresh, as both will develop a rancid flavor once oxidized which will be discernable in the finished cake. For EVOO, look for a harvest date of less than 2 years, keep your oil in a cool, dark place, and once opened use within 6-8 weeks.
With walnuts, if you’re buying shelled ones, look for a pale colour – older nuts tend to become darker with age. If you’re lucky enough to live in Tasmania, the walnut harvest has just about finished, so new season nuts will be available very soon.
If you’re more of a chocolate cake kind of person, then take a look at my favourite olive oil chocolate brownie recipe. And if you’re in need of some amazing, flavour filled Tasmanian Extra Virgin Olive Oil to help you with your kitchen experiments, then head over to our online shop – shipping is by Express Post within Australia, so you don’t have to wait long to get it!
Easter is just around the corner, and so my mind is turning to hot cross buns! I’ve updated this recipe, posted previously, which details all the steps for making sourdough hot cross buns. I’ve included timings, so they’ll be ready for morning tea on Good Friday, and all measurements are in grams rather than cups.
This recipe is a combination of a few others…
Slightly mangled copy of Mrs Beeton – the dog ate it…
On timings: This always ends up taking longer than I expect! The first time I made these, the final stage (stage 3), took me about 3 ½ hours up the point of eating, and I ended up missing my intended morning tea –time slot. A better method for me was to start a day earlier. I do everything up the point when the buns are shaped and on the baking sheet for their final rise, then put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning I take them out, allow about an hour to reach room temperature and rise, and then bake. The timings below will allow you to bake either late on Thursday night, or on Friday morning.
On fats: Traditional recipes use butter in the dough, and then they’re spread with butter for eating. This is unquestionably delicious, but extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) can be used instead, and yields an equally delicious result. Just make sure the oil you use is fresh, so check the harvest date is less than two years ago, and that the bottle has been open for less than 2 months (and preferably stored somewhere cool and dark for that time). When adapting a favourite recipe that uses butter, substitute an equivalent weight of EVOO, and beat with the eggs before adding to your dry ingredients.
And if you need fresh olive oil that’s bursting with peppery flavour, do check out our shop – shipping is via ExpressPost, and there’s no plastic packaging in sight!
On sticky dough: Sourdough is always sticky to work with, at least mine is. You may need to add extra flour to your worktop for kneading, and I always make sure to fill the sink with warm soapy water before I start, so I can easily wash my hands at the end!
On other options: These do take longer than buns which are made with regular bread yeast, and I wouldn’t recommend this as your first sourdough experiment! If it looks daunting, I’d encourage you to have a go at a non-sourdough version, like this one from SBS.
- 150g unfed sourdough starter (100% hydration, ie. fed at a ratio of 1g of water to 1g of flour). This will all be used, so make sure you leave some behind to continue your sourdough’s life!
- 75g flour
- 75ml warm water
- 160g milk, at room temperature
- 500g bakers/bread flour – divided into 300g and 200g, plus extra for kneading
- 8g fine sea salt
- 60g soft brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground pimento (allspice)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 50g extra virgin olive oil (or 60g of softened butter)
- 2 large free range eggs
- 1 orange (optional)
- 100g currants
- 50g good quality candied peel, finely diced
- Warm water (to soak dried fruit)
- 4 tablespoons plain white flour
- 4 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons white sugar
Stage 1 (eg Wednesday evening)
- Take 150g of unfed starter (mine had been fed one week before, and stored in the fridge). All of this 150g of starter will be used, so make sure you’ve got some extra to be able to continue your starter’s life!).
- Add 75g of flour and 75g of water, making 300g of starter.
- Mix together and leave covered at room temperature for 12 hours. (I cover with a Tasmanian beeswax wrap, plate, or cling film. You can use a cloth, but I find the surface tends to dry out.)
Stage 2 (eg Thursday morning)
- Mix together the 300g of starter, 160g milk (at room temperature), 300g of bread flour, and 8g salt to make a sourdough sponge. (The ingredients need to be combined to a dough, but not kneaded further at this stage.)
- Leave covered at room temperature for about 12 hours.
- Place the currants and candied peel in a small bowl or wide mouthed jar.
- Add the juice of the orange (if using), and add enough warm water to cover the fruit by approximately 2cm. (This makes the fruit nice and plump in the finished buns.)
Stage 3 (eg Thursday evening)
- Fill the sink with hot soapy water, so you can wash your hands easily after kneading.
- Drain the orange juice / water from the dried fruit, and pat dry.
- Put 60g brown sugar, 50g extra virgin olive oil, and 2 eggs in a large bowl and beat until light.
- Add the sourdough sponge and beat to combine.
- Combine the further 200g bread flour, 1tsp allspice, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, then add to the sourdough sponge mixture from the previous step.
- Knead for 10 minutes, then set aside for 10 minutes to rest. (You may need extra flour for kneading to reduce sticking.)
- Add the drained currants and candied peel mixture to the dough, and knead gently to combine (without squishing the fruit!)
- Leave in a covered bowl somewhere warm for 60 minutes. (Under the heat lamp in the bathroom works brilliantly on a cool day.)
- Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape into buns. (I needed to use a bit more flour to reduce stickiness at this point.)
- Place on a well-oiled baking sheet, and cover with a well-oiled piece of cling film. (If you don’t oil the cling film, it sticks to the buns and may tear them when you pull it off.)
- EITHER: Leave covered somewhere warm for 60 minutes if you want to bake straightaway.
- OR: Put in the fridge overnight, then take them out in the morning (eg. Friday) and place somewhere warm for a hour or so until risen.
- Preheat the oven to 200degC (for fan forced).
- Get the glaze ingredients ready in a small saucepan.
- Make the cross mixture by combining 4 tbsp plain flour and 4 tbsp water. Put in a piping bag (you can make one out of baking paper or a plastic bag if you don’t have one.)
- Add the crosses to the risen buns, and place in the hot oven.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the baking sheet 180 degrees to help them brown evenly, and bake for a further 8-10 minutes.
- When you’ve rotated the buns, make the glaze: heat the 2 tbsp milk, 2 tbsp water and 3 tbsp sugar in a pan on the stove. Bring to the boil and simmer for 6 minutes.
- Take the buns out of the oven. Remove to a cooling rack immediately if possible, and brush with the glaze.
- Allow to cool a little, if you’re able… Delicious enjoyed with butter, or a drizzle of fresh Tasmanian extra virgin olive oil!
I hope you’re enjoying the change from summer to autumn (at least if you’re in the southern hemisphere!) Autumn is a favourite time of year for me, so although I’m kind of missing the really long days of summer, I love the cooler days, and cooking the heartier food that seems to go with it!
We’re still enjoying zucchini (courgettes!) and I’m going to share three recipes I’ve found recently that can help you use these up. You may have a glut from your own garden, but if not, they’re a good price in the shops while they’re still in season.
First up is Zucchini Loaf Cake. It’s got a texture a bit like banana bread, with a lovely lightly sweet and spiced flavor. The recipe calls for vegetable oil, but I’d always recommend extra virgin olive oil, so you get maximum nutritional benefit from the calories in your fats. There’s an extra dose of healthy fats from the walnuts too (although you could omit these if you’re not a fan). The zucchini makes for a fab texture, and the sultanas add a great juicy burst. Finally, self-raising flour should work fine, in place of the plain flour plus bicarb and baking powder. Or use wholemeal for a little more fibre.
I like this as an emergency breakfast, as well as a snack during the day. Slice it after it’s cooled and freeze the individually wrapped slices – they’ll defrost quickly when you need them.
Next is this Baked Beef and Rice Stuffed Zucchini – perfect for those slightly overgrown zucchini hiding in your garden! The stuffing includes rice with the mince, so it’s a perfect all-in-one meal. If you don’t want to make the whole thing in one go, prepare the stuffing in advance, bake the halved zucchini, and assemble the “boats”. Then they can be kept in the fridge, and baked when you’re ready.
I used wallaby mince when I made this, but the lean beef suggested would be great. Lean lamb or even turkey mince would probably work pretty well too. The combination of rosemary and mint are fantastic, making the whole dish taste really fresh and lively. If you wanted a vegetarian version, perhaps mushrooms or eggplant could take the place of the meat? Finally the cheese… I love parmesan, but I find it doesn’t melt enough in this, so I prefer cheddar, although feta would provide a nice alternative.
Lastly, a Baked Zucchini, Tomato, and Potato Gratin. There’s a fair bit of slicing to do which is a bit of a pain, but it can all be done in advance. This makes a wonderful light meal on its own, and is also a brilliant side dish. Try it with your next BBQ! Leftovers can be refrigerated or frozen, and reheat well.
You may have seen a couple of other zucchini recipes here that I’ve shared previously, but in case you missed them, check out Spicy Zucchini Tomato Rice, and Colourful Roast Veggie Pasta.
If you’ve got a favourite zucchini recipe I’d love to hear it – tell me in the comments!