Recipes from Magnolia Kitchen

CLASSIC RUSSIAN FUDGE

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PREP 5 mins
COOKING approx. 40 mins
SETTING approx. 2 hours
MAKES 64 pieces

INGREDIENTS
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) caster sugar
155 g (5½ oz) butter
70 g (2½ oz) golden syrup
155 g (5½ oz) milk
1 teaspoon salt
250 g (9 oz) Sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Oh Russian fudge, I truly have you to thank for where I am today— you are my OG MO-FO kitchen homie. The fudge pot used to come out just for work shouts and Christmas gifts— now we have multiple fudge pots, multiple flavours, customprinted boxes and customers worldwide who hungus it. I swear that this fudge is everything you remember from your home-baking activities at your grandparents’ house. Remember eagerly waiting for it to set so you could scoff it in front of the TV until the Goodnight Kiwi told you it was bedtime? It really does hold all those delicious memories in every bite. It has that traditional old-fashioned, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth texture. What memories will this evoke? What memories will you guys be making with your friends and families?

METHOD
Prep a 20 cm (8 in) square tin by lightly spraying it with cooking spray and lining it with baking paper.

Put all the ingredients except the vanilla in a large pot. Heat on low, stirring occasionally. The mixture will melt together and then start to slowly boil with large, rolling, popping bubbles. Be careful when you stir it, as these bubbles can pop and splash you—and trust me, that is not ideal and burns instantly. (Once it splashed on my cheek and I instantly had an ugly blister, and so many hand and arm burns have been caused by delicious Russian fudge. SO BE FUCKEN WARNED.)

Grab a digital thermometer and set it to alarm at 118°C (244°F). For years, I did the soft-ball test even when I was supplying stores and selling at markets—I was stubborn, and didn’t want to let go of the method I had grown up using. But seriously, this book is filled with recipes that require a digital thermometer so just do yourself a favour and get one. Stick the thermometer in the fudge pot, and when the alarm goes off, remove your fudge from the heat and add the vanilla.

NOW FOR THE ALL-IMPORTANT SECRET: use an electric handheld beater. In my opinion, not knowing this tip is hands down the reason why so many people fail at fudge. I always hear ‘I just can’t get it to set’, and I know why instantly! It’s something I struggled with in my early days of fudge making until my laziness got the better of me and I grabbed an electric beater to do the job most cookbooks told me I should do by hand. The electric beater will aerate and cool your fudge so that when it sets it sets hard, but when bitten into, it melts in your mouth. So—using an electric hand-held beater fitted with whisk attachments—whisk the fudge on low to start with, then increase the speed as the fudge thickens and splashes less.

You will know your fudge is ready when it is thick and you see lines forming in the mixture. Also, the centre pole on the whisk attachment will have a build-up of fudge that is all spikey. THESE VISUAL CUES ARE IMPERATIVE TO SUCCESS. (You only need ask my bestest friend Rose, who I taught years ago to make my Russian fudge. Other than my staff, Rose is the only person I have ever shared my Russian fudge techniques with. She made it for other expats in Singapore when her husband Dean was posted there with the Navy, and I believe it even shows up at her kids’ bake sales. Needless to say, my Russian fudge has made Rose far more popular than she would have been otherwise. You’re welcome, Rose, I love you epic amounts and thank you for always being so pretty. I can’t wait to see how popular it makes everyone else, too.)

Once your fudge is showing these visual cues, pour it into your prepared tin and smooth it out with a non-stick spatula. Allow to set for about 30 mins, then use a sharp knife to pre-cut the fudge into 8 squares x 8 squares. Allow to completely set hard at room temp, then remove from the tin and break into pieces. You will know you have made Magnolia

Kitchen-worthy fudge if your fudge meets these requirements:
• When you taste-test a piece of fudge, bite a corner off your square.

If you see teeth marks dragging down the side of the fudge, this is indicator of success number one.

• When you have a piece of Russian fudge in your mouth, use your tongue to crush it against the roof of your mouth—move your tongue from side to side, really crushing that fudge. If it feels like the inside of your mouth has just been licked by a cat, then you have failed— go straight to jail and do not pass go. If an overwhelming sense of joy floods your taste buds, making them sing, this is your second indicator of success and I salute you (but really I’m saluting myself, because this recipe is awesome and so am I).

Store in an airtight container. This will last months if kept at a neutral temperature out of direct sunlight. But let’s be honest, what kind of person are you if you have fudge in your pantry for months?

OPPOSITE Boxes of fudge and other deliciousness on the shelves at Magnolia Kitchen Sweet Cafe. The hand-painted logo on the wall was my market signage at the very first ‘Treat Shop’. It has pride of place in the cafe as a reminder of how far I’ve come.

Download printable recipe (PDF)

 
ALLERGY-FRIENDLY BROWNIES

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I love this brownie, not just because it’s tasty as fuck while allowing so many people with aversions and allergies to delight in our talent, but also because it actually came about out of my inability to eat another mouthful of hummus. Do you know Bruce? He went and invented aquafaba (see page 26), which if you didn’t know is bean brine (most commonly chickpea brine). Bruce is the Messiah—ask his friends, they will tell you. Thanks to Bruce we were buying in 2.5 kg cans of chickpeas just to get the brine for our allergy-friendly baking. I didn’t want to waste all those chickpeas so I was making roasted chickpeas, chickpea patties and lots of fucken HUMMUS! It got ridiculous, and I was starting to really dislike the chickpea (which is unfortunate as it’s a staple of my vegetarian diet). So I created this brownie recipe specifically to use up the leftover chickpeas. Bruce has a lot to answer for. Everyone say, ‘Thank you, Bruce.’

FREE FROM GLUTEN, EGGS, DAIRY AND ANIMAL PRODUCTS

PREP 25 mins
BAKING approx. 45 mins
MAKES 9 pieces

INGREDIENTS
400 g (14 oz) can chickpeas
125 g (4½ oz) coconut milk
125 g (4½ oz) dairy-free butter substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200 g (7 oz) soft brown sugar
60 g (2¼ oz) almond meal
60 g (2¼ oz) Dutch cocoa
½ teaspoon baking powder
100 g (3½ oz) gluten-free flour
150 g (5½ oz) chopped 70% dark chocolate, plus extra for topping
Dutch cocoa or icing sugar, to dust

METHOD
Preheat your oven to 160°C (315°F). Prep an 18 cm (7 in) square baking tin with baking spray and line it with baking paper.

Drain your chickpeas. KEEP THE BRINE FOR BRUCE. Put the drained chickpeas and coconut milk in your blender and blend until you have a smooth paste.

While this is blending, put your dairy-free butter, vanilla and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until light and fluffy. Add the chickpea paste mixture and beat to combine.

Add the remaining ingredients except the chocolate, and slowly beat until just combined. Add the chocolate and fold it through by hand. Dump the mixture into your prepared tin and evenly sprinkle a handful of chocolate over the top. This can now be baked as is, or you can try one of our flavour alternatives listed overleaf.

Bake for about 45 mins—you want the outer edges to be solid and the inner bit to be slightly soft. Allow to cool in the tin, then chill in the fridge for an hour before cutting. Sprinkle with a dusting of Dutch cocoa or icing sugar before serving.

Download printable recipe (PDF)

 
LEMON AND POPPY SEED LOAF

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PREP 20 mins
BAKING 50–60 mins
MAKES 1 standard loaf

INGREDIENTS
2 eggs
250 g (9 oz) caster sugar
350 g (12 oz) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon lemon zest
50 g (1¾ oz) poppy seeds
150 g (5½ oz) butter
100 g (3½ oz) lemon juice
100 g (3½ oz) milk
dried edible flowers, e.g. lavender, pansies, cornflowers, sweet peas

Citrus & lavender glaze
100 g (3½ oz) icing sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ drop food-grade lavender oil*

METHOD
Preheat your oven to 170°C (325°F). Grease your standard-sized loaf tin with a little butter and line it with baking paper.

Beat yo’ eggs and sugar with a mixer until thick and fluffy, then add the dry ingredients—flour, baking powder, lemon zest and poppy seeds—to your mixer bowl and beat to combine.

Place the butter, lemon juice and milk in a suitable bowl and heat in your microwave in 30-second bursts, until the butter has just melted. Add half at a time to your mixer bowl and beat well after each addition.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin, put in your preheated oven and bake for 50–60 mins until golden brown on top—when you give it a poke with a skewer, the skewer needs to come out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly in the tin, then tip the loaf out onto a cooling rack.

Mix together the glaze ingredients and pour over the warm loaf so that the glaze dribbles down the sides. Top with a sprinkling of dried flowers.

The loaf can be sliced and frozen (put baking paper between the slices to stop them sticking). Pop slices in the microwave to heat through or just toast them.

* Given that this is such a small, stupid measurement, here’s how I do it. Grab a teaspoon (just a regular cutlery-set teaspoon), dip the handle into the lavender oil and flick the tiny amount that gathers on the handle into your glaze.

Download printable recipe (PDF)

 
STRAWBERRY AND PISTACHIO CAKE

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PREP 20 mins
BAKING approx. 30 mins
CHILLING 2 hours
MAKES 1 x 13 cm (5 in) three-layer cake
SERVES approx. 14

INGREDIENTS
150 g (5½ oz) raw shelled pistachios
300 g (10½ oz) plain flour
255 g (9 oz) caster sugar
24 g (7/8 oz) baking powder
170 g (6 oz) butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
240 ml (8 fl oz) milk
60 ml (2 fl oz) canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200 g (7 oz) frozen (or fresh) strawberries

To decorate
see suggestions overleaf

METHOD
Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F), prepare three 13 cm (5 in) cake tins with cooking spray and line them with baking paper.

Put your pistachios in a blender and blend until fine, making sure you don’t overblend them and get nut butter. Put them through a sieve to remove any persistent chunky nuts—you can blend these again (and sieve again), or keep them for decorating (or just stick those nuts in yo’ mouth).

Place all the dry ingredients, including the ground pistachios, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low to combine. Chop your butter into cubes, add it to the dry ingredients and mix on low until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. I love this technique so much—it just feels like life is more simple this way (though you can also do this by hand, see the Vanilla Bean Cake recipe on page 61).

In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients (not the strawberries, obviously) until combined. Add two-thirds of the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, and mix on medium-high until thick and fluffy. Add the remaining wet ingredients and mix well until combined, thick and fluffy. You can’t beat this too much, so really beat the shit out of it to get that thick but fluffy consistency.

Scoop mixture evenly into the prepared tins (use your scales to get them all the same; see my tips on page 25). Finely chop your frozen strawberries and distribute evenly among the tins. Bake for about 30 mins, until the cakes are golden brown and a skewer poked into them comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for 5–10 mins, then turn out onto cooling racks.

Wrap your cooled cakes in plastic wrap and chill them for 2 hours (or overnight), to make them easier to trim and ice. Ice your cake with buttercream as shown in the instructional on pages 68–75.

OPPOSITE A dessert-sized serve of my Strawberry & Pistachio Cake (see pages 26–27 for my guide to serving sizes).


DECORATION
The sky is the limit in terms of decorating this cake. You may want to leave it simply finished with sharp-as-shit buttercream and top it with leftover chopped pistachios and freeze-dried strawberries, or you could get a li’l bit fancy up in the hiz-ouse like I have with this cute-as-F kitty cat design.

For the simple decoration, use 1 recipe Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream (page 104) or Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream (page 107), with 1 recipe Strawberry Compote (page 135) as your filling, plus the leftover chopped pistachios and freeze-dried strawberries.

If you have chosen to be extra like me, here are some easy tips for the kitty cake. Ice your cake with Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and once you have your sharp-as-shit buttercream put the cake back in the fridge while you prep the decorations.

You will need modelling chocolate for the ears, fresh flowers, florists’ tape, edible paint, a small food-safe paintbrush, a small amount of buttercream in a piping bag with a small piping tip (I used top #22), and a selection of sprinkles.

Knead your modelling chocolate until it is soft and resembles playdough consistency. Roll it out to about 5 mm (¼ in) thick, then cut into even triangles in proportion to the cake. Curve these so that they aren’t completely flat.

Choose the flowers you want and trim the stems so that you have at least 5–7 cm (2–3 in) of stem. Wrap the ends of each stem in florists’ tape to seal the cut end and protect the cake against contamination.

Take the cake out of the fridge and use the edible paint to paint a cute-as-F cat face on the front of the cake.

Pipe small dollops of buttercream where you want the ears to go, then place the moulded ears on top. Use edible paint to colour inside the ears if you wish. Pipe swirls of buttercream around the ears and add a few random dollops. Position your flowers around the ears, pushing the stems into the cake. I like to add more on one side than the other—personal aesthetics. Finally, add a few sprinkles around the ears and the top of the cake.

Download printable recipe (PDF)