Back to it, a pillow cheesecake and a giveaway.


(Helen’s Pillow Cheesecake with salted butter caramel sauce)

So I woke up this morning and wondered where on earth my holiday had gone to. I looked for it in all the typical places – the back pockets of my favourite pair of jeans, behind the door, under the couch – before realising that just like the last cookie in the jar, my holiday had already been consumed.

With typical perfect timing, my oven has also chosen this very moment, to break down. This oven, the sun, all pushing me towards the inevitable conclusion that is, the start of work.


In examining the remaining crumbs of my holiday, I realised that despite it’s brevity, there’s probably not much I could complain about. The weather had been kind, I managed to squeeze in some face-time with a few close friends and I started and finished two books (The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga and Surrender by Sonya Hartnett); an accomplishment these days when cookbooks are my main distraction.

Countless days of sleeping-in aside, my employers might be quite glad to hear that I’ve missed work and am actually looking forward to returning. Not to take anything away from the fact that I loved the kicked up feet, the new indent I’d made in our couch and the pleasure of forgetting-what-day-it-was. Some people have claimed I perform best under pressure and while I’ve vocally pishposh-ed their opinion, I’ve also quietly thanked them for the compliment. In our industry, to be told that you perform well under pressure is like getting the cherry bonus in a game of PacMan. (Confession : I don’t play PacMan particularly well).

I have decided to commemorate my return to work with a post and a giveaway. Since I’ve been on holiday (read : lazy), I haven’t been taking many pictures, so had to dig up a photo taken late last year of a cheesecake I made after coming across an old post of Helen’s. You can find the recipe here, and believe me when I say, this recipe is as much about the cheesecake as it is about that salted butter caramel sauce. Do not attempt to make one without the other!

As for the giveaway, I have to admit that this blog has never been able to afford giveaways. Lemonpi started out as a personal journal and I’d like to think it will always remain that way. I have no grandiose plans for it. It just is, and while it remains fun, it will continue to exist. So for my giveaway, I’m offering free compassion* to every reader who leaves a comment. If compassion isn’t your thing, then I hope you at least got a free smile for the day, from reading this post.

*Compassion is limited to one comment per reader only.

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Baaack.. to basics

Aaand, we’re back!

A bit brown, a little well fed and a whole lot more relaxed, B and I recently spent 7 blissful days in Bali, courtesy of the company he works for. We swam, ate, engaged in pingpong battles (we couldn’t remember the rules, so we made them up. In hindsight, I think these new rules were not to my advantage because I never did end up winning a single match) and occasionally saw sights like this. On the flight home, I cried, only for the end of Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music, but also to quietly mourn a return to reality. A return which marked the end to freewheeling days with the boy, an end to bucketloads of tempe goreng and the end to an otherwise endless supply of chilled frangipani scented towelettes (oh how good those were!).

Now we are back, with the boy still proudly displaying the tiny patch of apricot coloured skin at the back of his neck which he claims is something akin to a tan (his first ever). The piles of laundry have been suitably dealt with and the swimsuit folded away for another day. It is time to bake.

This one is an incredibly easy cake recalling the simple pleasures of taking tea and enjoying a little time out. It is also a cake with which to thank our neighbour, who cared for our plants while we were away.

Black/blueberry and cinnamon crumble cake :
(serves 8-10; from Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffery)

150g plain flour
110g stone-ground wholemeal plain flour
220g castor sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
80ml light olive oil
180ml milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
200g fresh or frozen blueberries [I used a mixture of blackberries and blueberries]
icing sugar (optional), for dusting

Topping :

35g plain flour
55g brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmet
70g pecans or walnuts
30g cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
100g fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat your oven to 180’C. Butter a 24 or 25cm springform cake tin, line the base with buttered baking paper, then dust with flour and set aside.

For the topping, put the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg into a food processor and briefly whiz to combine. Add the nuts and scatter the little chunks of cold butter over the top. Pulse just until the butter is incorporated and the nuts are the size of coarse breadcrumbs. Tip this mixture into a bowl and keep it in a cool spot.

Put both the flours, the sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into the food processor and whiz them together for 20 seconds. Tip this dry mixture into a large bowl. Scoop out 1 heaped tablespoon of it into another bowl.

Whiz the oil, milk, egg, vanilla extract and lemon zest together in the processor until they’re well combined. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in this wet mixture. Stir them together until they’re well mixed. Toss the blueberries in the bowl with the reserved spoonful of dry mixture, then gently fold them into the cake batter; I always find it fascinating that this fine, floury coating is just enough to help stop the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the cake as it bakes. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared tin. Sprinkle spoonfuls of the crumble over the top and give the tin a little shake to even it out. Press the blueberries for the topping gently into the crumble.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack for 12 minutes. Release the outer ring of the tin and gently lift it off. Sit another rack (or a flat plate) on top of the cake and carefully invert it onto this. Remove the base and paper and then invert the cake again onto the rack to cool.

Dust with icing sugar just before serving. You’ll find that any leftover cake freezes really well for a couple of weeks. I usually just sandwich the slices of cake between sheets of freezer wrap or baking paper. To defrost, you can microwave them gently, warm them in the oven or just let them sit out at room temperature for about 40 minutes (by way of this, I discovered that the cake is terrific served warm, rather like a pudding, with a little cream). Otherwise, it keeps well stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed container for 2 days.

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An ode : Green tea and white chocolate cake, summer fruits, sesame nougatine

She is black. Pastel polka dots all over her body like a clown disguised as a leopard. Sweetness and joy, with a killer heel.

Every girl has her favourite pair of shoes. They are the ones that make her feel like a million dollars, whether she’s in jeans or a cocktail dress. The ones in which she clicks down the street proudly, feeling strong yet vulnerable. The ones that cost too many clams to obtain, but which have paid back in emotional dividends too complicated to calculate.

Yes, every girl has her favourite pair of shoes. This is an ode to mine.

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