chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf | The Secret Life of Bee

If you’ve ever wondered what carbohydrate heaven looks like… it looks like this. Swirls of melted chocolate with hints of cinnamon in between layers of soft fluffy dough clouds. Bliss. This loaf came about because I wanted to make a babka. Babka requires some patience which I lack most of the time (especially while driving) so this is my solution to a sweet treat that’s rather similar, but a lot faster.

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf | The Secret Life of Bee

Some of my friends are probably reading this and thinking, “how’s the diet going B?” Just splendid. Thanks.

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf | The Secret Life of Bee

This recipe makes a large loaf. Don’t be like me and insist it can fit into a smaller one. You will regret it and make a mess. If you don’t have a large loaf tin rather make two smaller ones. The one I finally and wisely used was 23 x 13 x 8 cm. You can also make quite a few variations of this loaf by adding some nuts and other spices to the chocolate layer. I think even crumbling something like a crunchie chocolate bar into the swirl layer could be divine. So get baking and be prepared to lick the spoon. A LOT.

Chocolate & Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

makes 1 large loaf


  • 375ml warm water
  • 10g instant dry yeast
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 560g flour, divided in two
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 60g butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste

For the filling:

  • 150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 120g butter
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 2-4 Tbsp cinnamon sugar


Pour warm water into a bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes until foamy. Add the brown sugar and mix.

Place 280g of flour and the sea salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Pour in the yeast mixture and mix until well combined. Add the butter in dollops and mix in well. Add the vanilla and mix.

Now add the second half of the flour a little bit at a time. Once all the flour has been well incorporated scrape down the dough into a ball and change the paddle attachment for the dough hook. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until silky and elastic.

Place dough in a large oiled bowl and leave to rise somewhere warm for 1 hour. Once the dough has doubled in size it’s good to go.

For the filling: Place the chocolate and butter into a double boiler and melt. Allow to cool and then mix in cocoa powder. Place in the fridge if you need it to firm up a little into a spreadable paste like texture.

Punch down and roll out dough onto a floured surface into a long rectangle. Try keep the short side as long as your loaf pan for ease later on.

Spread with chocolate paste and then dust with cinnamon sugar.

Roll into a log starting at the short side of the rectangle. Slice the log in half lengthways and then criss cross the two sliced logs together. Cut off the pointy ends of the log.

Place in a well greased loaf tin and allow to rise again for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180˚C.

Bake loaf for about 45 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool before slicing.

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf | The Secret Life of Bee

chocolate & cinnamon swirl loaf | The Secret Life of Bee


freekeh beet burgers with avonaise

Freekeh Beet Burgers with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

I was recently invited to take part in Faithful to Nature‘s Organic Recipe Challenge. It had to be something vegetarian, seasonal, family-meal friendly and made with organic produce and pantry items from Faithful to Nature‘s online organic shop. Perfect timing then for me to have fallen in love with a new, yet ancient grain. Freekeh. It’s absolutely delicious and so I decided that my recipe would involve it somehow. It’s basically green wheat that gets roasted, rubbed and cracked, creating a smoky, savoury and nutty flavour. It has a very high protein and vitamin B content so I mixed it up with some quinoa, chickpeas and roasted beets and seriously you’ll never need a beef burger again.

Freekeh Beet Burgers with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

Food and family go hand in hand for me as meal time has always involved everyone in and around the kitchen, chit chatting at the dining room table or perched on the kitchen counter. Burgers were a firm favourite growing up as everyone had a job, did their part and then built their own burger just the way they liked it. They were always deliciously messy and ruined granny’s snow white table cloth every time. This freekeh beet burger is perfect for a family lunch or dinner and is really easy to put together!

OZCF Market | The Secret Life of Bee

It’s difficult not to fall in love with everything at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market where I bought my produce for these burgers. Their gorgeous organic veg is the stuff food porn dreams are made of. I might have gone a little bit wild and ended up with zero space in my fridge for anything other than glorious seasonal veggies. Beetroot is one of my all time favourite veggies and apart from its tremendous colour it’s full of antioxidants, fibre, folic acid and helps lower blood pressure. Could these burgers get any healthier?

Freekeh Beet Burger with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

If bread is not your friend then just enjoy your burger in a lettuce wrap. That’s exactly how the husband and I devoured these! So they’re vegetarian, vegan, low GI, healthy and darn pretty! I used a food processor to make life a tad easier but if you don’t have one no problemo. Just use a fork to mash the roasted beetroot and chickpeas. Same goes for the avonaise. I used a stick blender to combine all the ingredients but you could easily mash them up and have a chunkier guacamole style sauce. So pop on an apron (because beetroot) and get cooking!

Freekeh beet burgers with avonaise

makes 6-8 patties depending on size



Preheat oven to 200˚C.

Place the freekeh, quinoa and water in a pot. Bring to the boil and add a pinch of salt. Simmer with the lid on for 15-20 minutes until the grains are tender. Remove from the pot, drain and place in a bowl to cool completely.

Roasted beets | The Secret Life of Bee

Wash, trim and peel the beetroot. Slice into wedges and place in a roasting dish. Season well with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until tender.

Roasted beets | The Secret Life of BeeRoasted beets | The Secret Life of Bee

Place beetroot into a food processor and pulse until chunky. Alternatively mash with a fork. If using a food processor add the chickpeas and pulse. Next add the cooled freekeh and quinoa. Pulse gently to mix. Alternatively mash chickpeas and mix grains by hand.

Freekeh Beet Burger with Avonaise | The Secret Life of BeeFreekeh Beet Burger with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

To the grain and beet mix add the garlic, ginger, fresh coriander, fresh parsley, chilli, ground coriander, ground cumin, dried origanum, lemon zest, onion, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Freekeh Beet Burger with Avonaise | The Secret Life of BeeFreekeh Beet Burger with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

Shape the mixture into patties by hand. Place onto a lined and oiled baking tray. Reduce the oven temperature to 180˚C and bake the patties for 20 minutes until they have a crisp outer layer.

For the avonaise:



Place all the ingredients into a jug. Season well and then blend using a stick blender or mash with a fork for a chunkier texture.

Avonaise | The Secret Life of BeeAvonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

To serve:

Assemble your burger with a wholewheat bun, fresh organic mixed greens, the freekeh and beet patty, plenty of avonaise and eat with your hands!

These are also super delish served in a lettuce cup. Spread the avonaise onto the lettuce first and then top with greens and the patty.

I also served mine with some delicious dukkah roasted carrots and sweet potatoes. I just seasoned them well with olive oil, salt, pepper, organic dukkah and popped them in a 200˚C oven for 30 minutes until golden and cooked through. All that plus a bottle of homemade Kombucha and tummies were very happy indeed!

Freekeh Beet Burgers with Avonaise | The Secret Life of BeeFreekeh Beet Burgers with Avonaise | The Secret Life of BeeFreekeh Beet Burgers with Avonaise | The Secret Life of Bee

*Disclaimer: Pantry items sponsored by the lovely folks from Faithful to Nature. Go check out their amazing online organic shop!

Faithful to Nature Online Organic Shop | The Secret Life of Bee




raspberry financiers

Raspberry Financiers | The Secret Life of Bee

Financiers make me nostalgic for Paris. I miss walking into my local boulangerie first thing in the morning and being hit by the sweetest smell in the world. Freshly baked bread and pastries that would make a diabetic weep. The French take such pride in their pâtisserie. From the identically sliced figs on a massive tart to the expertly glazed raspberry on a macaron. It’s perfection.

Raspberry Financiers | The Secret Life of Bee

Financiers are it for me. They’re my Achilles’ heel of the pastry world. Specifically raspberry financiers. The slightly tart and super fresh raspberry is the perfect accompaniment to the buttery,  and indulgently rich ground almond based treat. I know it’s a forbidden word but deal with it… They’re incredibly moist. So don’t over bake them. It would be a crime of pastry passion.

Raspberry Financiers | The Secret Life of Bee

Lastly when you get to the recipe and you think i’ve made a typo with the amount of butter… I haven’t. Just deal with it. Butter is life. While at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris I learned it was possible to use several kilograms of butter in one meal. God bless the French. For financiers I like to make my own almond flour. I find freshly grinding the almonds make the little cakes more moist. OMG I said it again. Breathe. If you don’t have a Nutribullet or a little coffee grinder don’t bother- bought will do just fine. Now make these babies and share them with people you really love.

Raspberry Financiers

makes 18


  • 300g butter plus extra for greasing
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 350g icing sugar, sifted
  • 100g flour
  • 9 egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste
  • pinch sea salt
  • 250g fresh raspberries


Preheat oven to 180˚C. Grease 3 x 6 mini cupcake trays or similar moulds.

Brown butter in a saucepan and set aside to cool.

Place ground almonds in a large mixing bowl. Sift in the icing sugar and flour. Mix together.

Whisk the egg whites lightly just to combine them, not whip them.

Add them to the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix thoroughly.

Finally add the vanilla, pinch of salt and the cooled butter. Mix well.

Refrigerate the mixture for at least an hour before ladling it into the moulds.

Press three raspberries into each mould and bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Turn out onto a cooling rack and try resist eating them all at once.

Raspberry Financiers | The Secret Life of Bee

Raspberry Financiers | The Secret Life of Bee

Raspberry Financiers | The Secret Life of Bee