For the love of friends


(Sticky ginger, golden syrup and yogurt cake)

This post had a beginning, but I decided to truncate it and concentrate on my main objective instead, which is to write this in appreciation of friends who have been supportive and helpful of late. You all know you who are, and since I’m not very good at expressing myself in person, I have decided to say it with another thing that I love : yogurt.


(Yogurt lavender cake)

Full fat, European-style cow’s milk yogurt, which I tend to always keep a carton of in my fridge. If ever I needed to put forward a case for the planet-threatening, methane-belching cow, bovine yogurt would form one of my principle arguments. Granted, far more environmentally friendly four-footed creatures have graced this planet and yielded us many pleasures in a 125ml easy-peel tub. Sheep’s milk yogurt for example, which is very flavoursome and can also be used in all these instances. I guess I just have a soft spot for something I grew up eating so regularly – who, as a kid, didn’t lick the smear of yogurt off the yogurt tub lid?

As B is intolerant of most dairy products except yogurt, I often use it as a substitute for cream, buttermilk or sour cream in certain recipes. Along with a dash of rice vinegar, yogurt is my not-so-secret-ingredient in homemade potato salad and coleslaw. For baking, I sometimes have to adjust quantities, or alter the baking time slightly when substituting with yogurt. I rarely have a problem with the end result and in fact take pleasure in knowing that I’ve actually made my cake marginally healthier.


(Sour cherry and yogurt cheesecake with green tea)

The sticky ginger cake recipe (originally with sour cream) comes from Belinda Jeffery’s book. It is one of the most fantastically moist, heart-warming cakes your fork will ever meet. Belinda says it is the cake you must make, out of the entire book, and I couldn’t agree more.

The yogurt lavender cake is based on a recipe from this book and the cheesecake is from this book, which I aim to write more about soon as it is one of my current favourites. Below is the recipe for the green tea cookies which aren’t actually part of the original cheesecake recipe, but which also feature in the book and are the best green tea cookies I’ve tasted to date.

Green Tea Sable Cookies :
(makes about 50; recipe from Okashi by Keiko Ishida)

240g pastry flour (chilled)
15g green tea powder (matcha powder)
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
130g icing sugar
pinch of salt
2 egg yolks

Sift flour and green tea powder twice. Set aside.

Beat butter, icing sugar and salt until soft and creamy. Add egg yolks and mix well. Add flour and green tea powder mixture and fold in with a spatula. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

Divide dough in half. Place both portions in two large pieces of parchment paper. Shape into logs about 3.5cm in diameter. Wrap logs with parchment paper and refrigerate until firm. If not using immediately, wrap with cling film and freeze. Cookie dough can be kept for up to 2 months in the freezer.

Preheat oven to 150’C. Cut logs into 7mm thick rounds. Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 25 minutes, then remove and leave to cool on wire rack before serving. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 10 days.

(Optional presentation : Prior to baking the cookies, you can dip the edges of each sliced cookie in granulated sugar. Also if you wish, you can brush a little egg white over each cookie and scatter with a few green tea leaves on top.)

[Note : To use as a garnish for the yogurt cheesecake above, I crumbled the sable dough on a tray before baking].

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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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Daring Bakers Challenge : Cheesecake

Brie and white chocolate cheesecake, pecans and celery

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

I guess I’ll start by being completely honest and saying that I’m not a huge fan of cheesecake. The only cheesecake I would ever pay money for, comes from Yellow Bistro in Potts Point. Other than that, I’ll eat it if placed in front of me (because I’ll try anything at least once), but only with great dismay at the thought of there being so many other delicious things I could be putting on my hips instead.

The idea for the Brie cheesecake came from a chance conversation with Lorraine about cheesecakes. Somehow the word “cheeseplate cheesecake” was thrown out there and at some point we even contemplated collaborating to create an entire platter of cheeseplate-themed cheesecakes. Unfortunately, time and busy lives prevented this from occuring.

I know it is a little cliched that I have decided to present this as a ‘deconstructed’ cheesecake. The idea has been done to death before, but I thought the presentation would really suit the cheeseplate theme. The Brie flavour in this cheesecake is actually quite subtle. If you eat it alone, you will find that the cream cheese and white chocolate flavours are dominant, while the Brie-ness is only more apparent at the finish. However, the flavour really comes to the fore when you take a bite with the accompanying candied (and slightly salty) celery.

Brie and white chocolate cheesecake, pecans and celery :
(This recipe is a combination of Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake, and a Brie-white chocolate cheesecake from Pure Chocolate by Fran Biglow)

Brie and white chocolate cheesecake :
270g cream cheese
65g caster sugar
40g white chocolate
2 eggs
135g triple cream brie (weight after rind has been removed)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 150’C.

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave in a double boiler. Set aside to cool.

In a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Transfer the cheese to a separate bowl and set aside.

In the same mixing bowl using the paddle attachment, beat the Brie until completely smooth. With the machine still going, gradually add the cream cheese to the Brie, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time. Pour in the melted white chocolate and continue to mix until well blended and smooth. Pour into a baking dish and bake it in a waterbath for about 55 minutes (it may take longer depending on the size of your dish). The cheesecake should have a slight jiggle to it. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the waterbath, then cover and put in the fridge to chill.

Pecan ‘crust’ :
110g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
70g unsalted butter
65g light brown sugar
30g pecans, roughly chopped

Combine the flour, baking powder in a bowl. Rub in the butter then add the brown sugar and pecans. Scatter this mixture on a lined tray and bake at 170’C for about 35 minutes until browned. Stir the mixture occasionally during the baking time, to ensure even cooking.

Celery confit :
(based on recipe in Wild Sweets by Dominique and Cindy Duby)
100g celery stalks
150ml sugar syrup
50ml water
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon yuzu (or lemon) juice

Trim stalks and remove filaments with a paring knife. Using a potato peeler, shave long vertical strips the length of the stalk.

Bring the syrup, water, salt and yuzu to a boil. Taste and adjust with more salt if necessary. The salt is important to balance the sweetness. Add the celery and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from syrup and chill until required.

To assemble :
Spoon the baked cheesecake mixture into a food processor. Process briefly until smooth.

Place a teaspoonful of cranberry relish or jam on the plate (this is optional). Scatter the pecan crust over this. Arrange a spoonful of cheesecake mixture on top of the crust. Serve alongside the candied celery strips.

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