panettone french toast

Panettone French Toast | The Secret Life of Bee

If you have no panettone left over, well done. I’m impressed. Now go out and buy another one because this is so worth it!

Panettone French Toast | The Secret Life of Bee

This sweet Italian bread is texturally a dream for french toast. It’s very absorbent and already packed with buttery flavour and jewels of candied citrus and raisins. It’s a wee bit fragile so don’t get distracted by making mimosas and leave it soaking for too long. Serve it with your choice of fruit, maple syrup, honey, thick cream or even a dollop of greek yoghurt. I had mine straight out of the pan with a drizzle of maple syrup and it was blissful.

Panettone French Toast | The Secret Life of Bee

*A little tip: If you are making this for your family you obviously want to serve everyone at the same time with glorious piping hot french toast. This can be a painful mess with four frying pans on the go. For the sake of pictures I fried some slices as you’ll see here. For my family- I soaked the rest of the panettone in the egg mixture and then placed the slices on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. I baked the french toast in the oven at 180˚C until done. It was beautifully golden and had a slight crunch on top. Everyone was served at once and tummies were very happy.

Panettone French Toast | The Secret Life of Bee

Panettone French Toast

serves 4 hungry humans

Ingredients:

  • 4 rounds of panettone, sliced in half
  • 6 eggs
  • 150ml pouring cream
  • 150ml full cream milk
  • 2 Tbsp caster sugar
  • pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • fruit of choice
  • butter, for frying

To serve: thick cream, maple syrup, honey or berry coulis

Method:

Slice the panettone and set aside.

Whisk the eggs, cream, milk, sugar, salt, vanilla and cinnamon is a mixing bowl large enough to soak the panettone slices in.

Panettone French Toast | The Secret Life of Bee

Soak panettone slices in the egg mixture. Fry the slices in a non-stick pan on medium heat with a blob of simmering butter. Flip the slices very gently to get them golden on both sides and cooked through in the centre.

Panettone French Toast | The Secret Life of Bee

Serve with your choice of fruit, maple syrup or cream. I blitzed a handful of fresh raspberries and fresh strawberries in a Nutribullet with 1 tsp icing sugar and the juice of half a lemon to create a very fresh and vibrant coulis.

Bon appétit!

Panettone French Toast | The Secret Life of Bee

 

rose water pavlova with whipped cream & boozy berries

Rose water pavlova with whipped cream & boozy berries | The Secret Life of Bee

A pavlova is a beautiful dessert piece for the Christmas table. It’s a breeze to make and assemble and you can even make the meringue base the day before if you’re pressed for time and too busy stuffing a turkey and frying potatoes in duck fat.

Rose water pavlova with whipped cream & boozy berries | The Secret Life of Bee

Dressing the pavlova is the best part. It’s really up to you what flavours and textures you’d like to go with. I’m a big fan the classic berries and cream. I love the tartness of the berries with the sweet meringue, add a hint of vanilla to the cream and i’m in tastebud heaven. I do not add any sugar to the cream itself. A traditional Chantilly cream would have vanilla and sugar in it but I feel the meringue itself is sweet enough.

You could go the tropical fruit route and fill your pavlova with mango slices, kiwi and fresh granadilla. Or something rich and luxurious like a chocolate cream with salted caramel, poached spicy pears and toasted hazelnuts. It’s a blank canvas so you can play as much as you like. My favourite part of a pavlova is that it acts as table decor! It’s beautiful and will stay crisp for quite sometime if you dress it at the last minute. Be the host with the most this festive season and make this glamorous dessert for your loved ones.

Rose water pavlova with whipped cream & boozy berries | The Secret Life of Bee

Rose water pavlova with whipped cream & boozy berries

Ingredients:

  • 160g free-range egg whites
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp corn flour
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • 1l whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • fresh berries
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • brandy
  • raspberry jam

Method:

Preheat oven to 120˚C.

Separate eggs. Pour whites into a clean and dry mixing bowl or into the bowl of an electric mixer. You can wipe the bowl with a dash of vinegar to be sure there are no traces of grease. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until light and foamy. At this point gradually shower in the caster sugar bit by bit. Continue to whip until thick and glossy. Finally add the corn flour and vinegar and finish the meringue off to stiff peaks. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down without fear of it landing up all over your floor. Fold in the teaspoon of rosewater gently without knocking any air out of the meringue.

Rose water pavlova with whipped cream & boozy berries | The Secret Life of Bee

Dollop the meringue into a circular shape on a baking tray lined with a silicone mat or baking paper. Make sure the sides are quite high and then using a spoon spread some meringue in the centre of the circle to hold your filling.

Bake the meringue at 120˚C for 2 hours and then leave to cool.

While the meringue is baking make the berry coulis. Place your choice of fresh or frozen berries and lemon juice into a small saucepan. Add a scant tablespoon of caster sugar and cook down until the berries begin to disintegrate. Finish with a generous splash of brandy and then blend using an immersion blender.

Rose water pavlova with whipped cream & boozy berries | The Secret Life of Bee

Once the meringue is completely cool whip the cream and vanilla until soft peaks.

Spread some of the raspberry jam into the centre of the pavlova. Spoon the cream on top of the jam and then drizzle with the coulis and top with fresh berries.

Rose water pavlova with whipped cream & boozy berries | The Secret Life of Bee

Rose water pavlova with whipped cream & boozy berries | The Secret Life of Bee

 

Cold Brew Coffee

Cold Brew Coffee | The Secret Life of Bee

Cold brew coffee is one of my favourite discoveries. I do love my coffee in general but heading into a rather sweltering South African summer there are only so many hot beverages one can consume comfortably. So what makes cold brew coffee different from a normal iced coffee? Well for starters and perhaps my favourite attribute is that it tastes sweet without having to add a drop of sugar.

The gentle cold brewing process greatly reduces the amount of acidity and bitterness associated with normally brewed coffee. You can of course add milk and sugar and enjoy it however you please but the cold brewing process produces a delicious smooth and refreshing drink as is. It is a much healthier alternative to the typical iced coffees piled high with whipped cream, made with artificial powders or filled with sugar syrups.  As with anything- quality ingredients produce a high quality result. So choose the best beans you can!

Cold Brew Coffee | The Secret Life of Bee

Cold Brew Coffee

Ingredients:

  • 160g (2 cups) coarsely ground coffee ( I used Truth coffee)
  • 2l cold filtered water

Equipment:

  • 1 x large glass container/jar
  • a piece of muslin cloth

*if you would like to make a smaller batch you can do so in a little French press and just follow the same 24 hour cold brewing process

Method:

Place the 2 cups of coffee in a large glass jar. Add the cold filtered water and stir well. Place in the fridge for 24 hours.

Strain your coffee using a sieve fitted with a piece of muslin cloth. If you do not have any muslin cloth a few layers of paper towel in a sieve and a few more strains will do the trick!

Cold Brew Coffee | The Secret Life of Bee

You can pour your cold brew coffee into little bottles for when you’re on the go in the mornings or enjoy it at home with a splash of milk and a dash of vanilla over ice. You can also dilute it if you prefer a milder flavour or turn it into an espresso martini for those especially difficult Monday mornings.

It will keep in the fridge for up to one week in a sealed container. Or if you’re like me and don’t understand moderation you’ll drink it all in one day and give the Energizer Bunny a run for his money.

Cold Brew Coffee | The Secret Life of Bee

French Apple Tart

French Apple Tart | The Secret Life of Bee

The classic French Apple Tart is a staple for your recipe book arsenal. A real crowd pleaser this one. What I love about this tart is that it’s got just the right amount of swanky. Impressive enough that it looks beautiful but also easy enough to make at the last minute.

French Apple Tart | The Secret Life of Bee

I decided to start the last week off with a juice cleanse. Well that lasted one whole day and I ended up with a bunch of unused apples and a rather excessive amount of kale and celery. So instead of presenting you with a kale and celery tart I went with an apple tart instead!

French Apple Tart | The Secret Life of Bee

French Apple Tart

serves 6-8

Ingredients:

Pastry:

  • 200g flour
  • 100g butter
  • 4g salt
  • 20g icing sugar
  • 5ml cold water
  • 1 tsp vanilla powder/ extract
  • 1 egg

Filling:

  • 3 apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 30g butter
  • 30g Demerara sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla powder/ extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (or more to taste)

Topping:

  • 3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced into half moons
  • Demerara sugar
  • butter
  • apricot jam

Method:

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Begin your sweet pastry dough. Whisk flour, sugar and salt together. Add butter and work with your fingers into a wet sandy consistency. Add the egg and vanilla and bring together into a dough. Add the tsp of cold water if necessary. Roll dough gently into a ball, flatten slightly and place wrapped up in the fridge to rest.

French Apple Tart | The Secret Life of Bee

For the filling melt butter in a large saucepan. Add the diced apples, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Cook down until apples are soft and fragrant. If your apples are not very juicy add 1-2 Tbsp of water to assist with the cooking.

Remove apples from the pan and place in the fridge to cool.

French Apple Tart | The Secret Life of Bee

Roll out your pastry dough quite thinly and place into a greased tart shell pan. Make sure to press the pastry quite firmly into the 90˚ corners of the pan. Blind bake the crust for ten minutes using a layer of baking paper and baking beans or rice.

Remove crust from oven and set aside.

Peel, core and slice remaining 3 apples as evenly as possible.

Begin assembling the tart by adding the cooked apple mixture into the bottom of the tart shell and smooth evenly.

French Apple Tart | The Secret Life of Bee

Layer apple slices one over the other in a pretty circular fashion.

Dot the tart with a few knobs of butter and a sprinkle of Demerara sugar.

French Apple Tart | The Secret Life of Bee

Place in the oven to bake for approximately 20 minutes.

When the tart is cooked, remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

Mix 1 Tbsp apricot jam with a dash of water in a saucepan. Mix into a glaze and using a pastry brush, glaze the tart for a shiny finish.

Serve with whipped vanilla cream or ice cream.

French Apple Tart | The Secret Life of Bee

 

Zesty Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Icing

Zesty Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Icing | The Secret Life of Bee

Cupcakes remind me of my childhood. I think they were one of the very first things my mom ever taught me to make. She bought me an adorable kiddies cookbook and pretty much let me wreck havoc in the kitchen. I still have the book. Most of the pages are glued shut with batter but I treasure that thing like a bar of gold.

Zesty Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Icing | The Secret Life of Bee

This recipe is so simple and so speedy from start to finish. The perfect tea time snack, birthday treat, dinner dessert or peace offering for your neighbour when you might have had a bit of a rowdy party on the weekend… Whoops.

Zesty Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Icing | The Secret Life of Bee

I added lemon zest to the batter as I am in a love affair with lemons at the moment. Well always. But you can add orange zest, almond extract, a dash of brandy… Whatever floats your cupcake boat. I love this recipe because of the nostalgia and because of the final product. Light, fluffy, buttery, moist little cakes that really scream just-one-more-bite-your-jeans-are-made-of-stretchy-material.

Zesty Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Icing | The Secret Life of Bee

Zesty Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Icing

makes 18 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 280g flour
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 250ml milk
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 120g butter, melted and cooled
  • 50g organic maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 2 lemons

Icing:

  • 140g unsalted butter
  • 280g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla powder
  • pinch of salt

Method:

Preheat oven to 200˚C and line a cupcake tin or two with cupcake holders.

Place flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large mixing bowl and whisk them together.

Mix eggs, milk, maple syrup, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a separate bowl.

Pour milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until half incorporated.

Pour in the melted butter and mix everything until smooth.

Fill cupcake moulds two thirds of the way up and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden and cooked through. Remove cupcakes from the pan and place on a cooling rack.

Zesty Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Icing | The Secret Life of Bee

For the icing: Whip butter until soft and fluffy and incorporate the rest of the ingredients. Mix until smooth. Ice cupcakes when they have cooled completely and decorate with fruit, flowers, glitter and love.

Now just for shits and giggles I decided to use some of my batter in a Madeleine pan.

Zesty Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Icing | The Secret Life of Bee

Why? Well why not? Should Madeleines be the only batter allowed to grace this adorable little sea shell pan? I think not.

So I greased my Madeleine pan and popped in a scant tablespoon of cupcake batter. Baked them with the cupcakes at 200˚C but for probably 3/4 of the baking time.

Zesty Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Icing | The Secret Life of Bee

The best part is now where do you put the icing? Well I stuffed them with it! Using a sharp small knife make a little hole in the underside of the Madeleine and create a little cavity. Pop your icing into a piping bag and fill the little cavity with icing. Voilà! Now go make a cup of tea and these babies!

Zesty Lemon Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Icing | The Secret Life of Bee