ANZAC Apple and Rhubarb Crumble

Each year on the 25th of April, Australians and New Zealanders remember those who lost their lives fighting for their country.

Over the ANZAC Day long weekend we had a house full, so I decided to make a fruit crumble because everyone loves them. The latest edition of Australian Gourmet Traveller featured a recipe called Apple ANZAC Pie which used the same ingredients you use to make ANZAC Biscuits, so I adapted it slightly to make an ANZAC Crumble.

ANZAC biscuits were sent by Australian and New Zealand wives to soldiers who were fighting abroad. They were popular because they kept well during naval transportation.

Rhubarb grows like a weed in our garden so I often mix it with apples. If preferred just leave it out and increase the number of apples by 2 or 3. The fresh ginger was a great addition to the fruit layer, but some of the smaller kids didn’t like it. If preferred just leave it out. And if you’re concerned that it will be too sweet, leave out the brown sugar.

The verdict on this recipe was that it’s the best crumble ever. Actually the topping isn’t very crumbly, it’s more like a fruit cobbler. Sorry it wasn’t published in time for ANZAC day, but I’m confident it will go down well any time of year.


Fruit layer:
5 large Granny Smith apples or cooking apples
About 10 sticks of rhubarb, washed and cut into 2-3cm lengths
¼ cup sugar
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger (optional)
6 Tbs water
185g butter
¼ cup each treacle and golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 cups plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup desiccated coconut (preferably coarse flakes)
To serve:
Vanilla ice cream or cream

Peel and slice apples and place in a saucepan with the rhubarb, sugar, ginger and water. Cook for 8-10 minutes until slightly softened then spread into a greased 25cm pie dish.

In a large bowl melt butter, treacle and golden syrup in the microwave then mix in the bicarbonate of soda, flour, oats, sugar and coconut. Spoon all over the apple and rhubarb mixture, using a fork to cover any gaps. Refrigerate until serving time.

Pre-heat oven to 180°C then bake the crumble for 25-30 mins or until crisp and golden. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or cream.

Serves 12

Notes: if you don’t have any treacle, double the amount of golden syrup. If you don’t have either use honey or maple syrup instead.

Bread & Butter Pudding with Caramelised Bananas

Matthew doesn’t like bananas or custard, especially if they’re served together as Banana Custard. A few years at boarding school in the UK during his impressionable youth is to blame. He describes over-ripe greenish-black banana slices mixed into lumpy, cold, congealed custard. You can just imagine it.

I grew up in the UK with my mother’s version of this traditional British dessert – hot, creamy custard with perfect slices of banana folded through, all topped with lightly toasted coconut flakes. Delicious.

In the early days of our marriage I tried to persuade Matthew that my banana custard was different. He would love it. But no-way-José could I persuade him to try it. I had never been to boarding school, he said, so I had no idea how strongly these culinary disasters were etched on his soul.

For the first six months of married life we lived in a granny flat tacked onto a large house which was owned by an elderly widower. From time to time we invited Tom for dinner and once or twice he invited us back. He wasn’t much of a cook and his repertoire was fairly basic. Roast hogget (somewhere in age between lamb and mutton) with vegetables, cooked in a pressure cooker to within an inch of their lives, by which time they all took on the same greyish hue, followed by a simple dessert.

As I helped Tom to clear away the dishes from the main course I spotted the dessert on the sideboard. Banana Custard. This is going to be fun, I thought.

Now it’s important to point out that Tom had quite clearly used the boarding school recipe book. And for those who don’t know him, I should also point out that Matthew was about five years into what ended up being a successful career in diplomacy.

Tom served three generous helpings of Banana Custard. Matthew glanced at me and rolled his eyes. He could see I was on the verge of uncontrollable laughter. He was not even slightly amused. Well, the diplomat rose to the occasion and you would have been proud of him. He ate the lot, then looked at me with an expression of relief that clearly said “Thank God that’s over.”

I really don’t know what came over me, but I heard myself saying “That was delicious Tom, Banana Custard is Matthew’s absolute favourite.” And with that Tom served Matthew a huge second helping.

By the time he had finished the second bowl Matthew was looking somewhat green around the gills. But he didn’t follow through with his threat to kill me when we got home, divorce proceedings were avoided and we’re still together 40 years later.

This Bread and Butter Pudding with Caramelised Bananas, from one of my favourite UK food writers Nigel Slater, is a 21st century update on Banana Custard. So delicious even Matthew eats it!

Bread & Butter Pudding with Caramelised Bananas

300g brioche or croissants
1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract
6 cardamom pods
½ tsp cinnamon
400ml can coconut milk
400ml milk (or use half milk and half cream)
3 eggs
3 Tbs brown sugar
Pinch salt
A sprinkle of sugar for the topping
For the bananas:
2 Tbs sugar
50g butter
4 large bananas
Zest of one orange
To serve:
Thick cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 180°C. Butter a baking dish (approximately 22cm) or 6-8 individual ones. Lightly toast the sliced brioche or halved croissants until golden-brown. Arrange in dish, overlapping slightly. If using small dishes you will need to cut the brioche or croissants into smaller pieces.

Remove cardamom seeds from the pods and crush with a mortar and pestle or a rolling pin. Slice the vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. With a hand whisk, beat cardamom, vanilla seeds or extract, cinnamon, both milks, eggs and sugar in a large bowl until combined.

Pour custard over brioche and sprinkle a little more sugar over the top. If using individual dishes you can fill them to almost the top, but you may have some custard left over. Dessert can be made ahead to this point and kept in the fridge for several hours. Bake for 25 minutes or until nicely browned and the custard is just set. Cool for 10-15 mins then serve with the bananas.

For the bananas: cut in half length-ways or slice on the diagonal. Heat sugar in a large non-stick frying pan. Swirl it around and when melted and caramel colour add the butter and swirl to combine. Add the bananas and turn to coat them with caramel on both sides. Cook very briefly or they will become too soft. Sprinkle with orange zest and serve immediately with the bread pudding and thick cream if liked.

Serves 6-8

Gluten-free Christmas Pudding

Christmas puddings keep for months and improve with age, so I usually make them in October or November. One for the family and a couple of smaller ones to give to friends. I collect pudding bowls in second hand stores for this purpose.

In cooler climates you can store them in the pantry, but in Australia I prefer to keep them in a second fridge we have in the garage. Sometimes I make two large puddings and keep one to serve at a “Christmas in July” dinner party. And if that doesn’t happen the second pudding will still be delicious the following Christmas, more than 12 months after it was made!

I decided to adapt my traditional recipe to make it gluten-free. Still perfectly nice for everyone, but suitable for a growing percentage of the population who don’t tolerate gluten. A food processor makes quick work of the breadcrumbs, grated apple, chopped figs and pureed orange. Some people don’t like mixed peel and glacé cherries, so I have included substitutions for these.

The number of puddings you end up with from this recipe depends on the size of the bowls – two big ones, or one big one and two small ones, or four small ones. This year I doubled this recipe and ended up with 8 puddings of various sizes as you can see in the photo.

Gluten-free Christmas Pudding150g currants
200g dried figs, stalks removed then chopped
200g sultanas
200g raisins
60g dried mixed peel or dried apricots, chopped
60g glace cherries or dried sour cherries
60g blanched slivered almonds (or walnuts or macadamias)
2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored & grated
½ tsp salt
1 tsp each ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
350g gluten-free bread made into crumbs in food processor
4 eggs, beaten
150-200g dark brown sugar
½ cup brandy or rum
1 cup gluten-free beer or sherry
1 Tbs black treacle
250g unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 orange, blitzed in food processor, skin and all
Brandy Butter to serve

Place all the ingredients in a very large bowl and mix well. Choose 2 to 4 pudding bowls, depending on size, grease lightly then fill with pudding mixture. They don’t rise much so bowls can be filled almost to the top.

Cover puddings with buttered baking paper, butter side down, and tie down with string. Steam puddings (see below) for about 5 hours or until evenly browned. Cool then cover with a fresh piece of baking paper or wrap in foil and store in the fridge.

Steaming the puddings: If you have a very large stock-making saucepan you can steam two puddings at the same time, one on top of the other. Place a metal trivet or an upturned saucer in the bottom of the pan, then the first pudding, then an upturned side plate and then the second pudding. Pour hot water in to come halfway up the bottom pudding. Hopefully everything fits and you can put the lid on. If not use two pans, or make half the recipe and just one pudding. Turn on the heat and let the water simmer for 5 hours, topping up from time to time as necessary.

The other way to steam puddings is in the oven. Choose a deep roasting pan into which the puddings all fit. Pre-heat oven to 150°C. Place bowls in roasting pan. Pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the bowls. Cover the entire roasting pan with foil and crimp it under to seal. You may need two pieces if it’s not very wide. Place in the oven for 5 hours. Check after 2  hours and top up the water as necessary.

To serve, steam puddings again for 2-3 hours and serve with Brandy Butter.

Makes 2-4 puddings

Pear Pecan and Caramel Puddings with Ginger Ice Cream

This delicious dessert is adapted from one which appeared recently in Gourmet Traveller. On a cold winter’s day it just hits the spot.

Pear Pecan and Caramel Puddings with Ginger Ice Cream6 small ripe pears
Poaching liquid:
1 litre water
2 Tbs sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1 vanilla pod, split
Pudding mix:
1 cup pecan nuts (or walnuts)
1 cup self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup brown sugar
125g butter
6 rounded Tbs Caramel (see note below)
¼ cup raw sugar (optional)
Ginger Ice Cream:
2 cups whipping cream
1 can condensed milk
3 tsp powdered ginger
½ cup crystallised/glacé ginger, chopped

Peel pears and leave whole. Place water, sugar, cinnamon stick and vanilla pod in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins. Add pears and simmer for 25 mins or until cooked. Drain pears and discard syrup.

Preheat oven to 180C. While pears are cooking blitz the nuts in food processor, then add flour, vanilla, cinnamon, eggs, milk and melted butter and mix till combined. Grease six one and a half cup ramekins or small pudding bowls. Divide pudding mixture between the bowls. Place a rounded tablespoonful of caramel in the middle of each, then sit a pear on top and push it down into the pudding. If liked, sprinkle with a little raw sugar. Bake for 25-30 mins or until puddings are golden brown and well risen. Dust with icing sugar and serve topped with a scoop of Ginger Ice Cream.

Ice Cream: with electric beaters, whip cream until soft peaks then add condensed milk and powdered ginger and continue to whip until combined. Fold in crystallised/glacée ginger with a rubber spatula then scrape ice cream into a plastic container with a lid. Cover and freeze for several hours or until firm.

Serves 6

Note: use a can of Nestlé Top and Fill Caramel or in South America use Dulce de Leche (Manjar) or make your own from a can of condensed milk (see Banoffi Pie recipe). Instead of six small pears you can use 3 very large ones peeled and cut vertically in half.

Quick Apple Cake

My mother used to make a dessert called Eve’s Pudding which consisted of stewed apples topped with a simple butter cake mixture. It was a family favourite when I was growing up in England.

This quick and easy recipe combines the same simple ingredients, but instead of being underneath the cake the apples are mixed through. You can use oil or butter, although butter always gives a better flavour.

Served warm with cream or ice cream it’s sure to please the whole family. Any leftovers are perfect for school lunch boxes.

Quick Apple Cake2 eggs
1¾ cups sugar
½ cup vegetable oil or melted butter
2 cups Plain flour and 2 tsp baking powder
(Or 2 cups self-raising flour)
4 tsp cinnamon
6 eating apples, peeled and sliced

Pre-heat oven to 180ºC. In a mixing bowl beat the eggs with the sugar and oil or melted butter until well combined. Fold in the sifted plain flour and baking powder (or self-raising flour) and cinnamon. Add the apples and mix to coat thoroughly. Tip mixture into a well-greased 22cm (9 inch) cake pan or pudding dish. Bake for 50 mins or until well risen and golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Serve warm or cold

Serves 8-10

Summer Pudding

This is an old English recipe which was traditionally made in summer when the red berries are in season. Nowadays you can make it any time of the year with frozen fruit.

I made double the recipe in an 8 cup (two litre) bowl using a 1.5kg bag of mixed frozen berries from Costco. The mix consisted of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. In England they would also have added a few blackcurrants, but unless you grow them yourself (as we do, but we’ve eaten them all this year!) they’re hard to find in Australia, even in season.  It’s hard to say how much bread you will need – I used about two thirds of a loaf. There were just enough raspberries and blueberries in the garden to use as decoration.

Summer Pudding750g mixed red berries, thawed if frozen
Sliced homemade-style white bread
100-150g sugar
To serve:
Icing sugar
Thick cream or whipped cream
A few fresh berries

Remove crusts from bread and cut to fit bottom and sides of 4 cup pudding bowl. It’s like doing a jig-saw puzzle! Put fruit and sugar in a shallow pan, cover and cook gently for 5-10 mins, shaking occasionally. Cool a bit and adjust sugar.

Summer PuddingUsing a slotted spoon, half fill basin with fruit, then a layer of bread, fill with remaining fruit and cover with bread. Spoon in enough juice to fill the basin. Use a knife around the edge of the bowl to make sure the juice goes down and colours all the bread. You will probably use it all. Place a small plate and a 1 kg weight on top and stand the bowl in a dish to catch juices. Refrigerate overnight.

To serve, run a knife with a thin blade around the pudding to loosen it from the bowl. Invert onto a serving plate then shake and it should drop out. Dust with icing sugar and serve with thick cream or whipped cream and a few fresh berries.

Serves 6-8

Cappuccino Puddings with Coffee Ice Cream

These puddings are quick and easy and all the preparation can be done in advance. Make them in coffee cups or small ramekins and keep them for up to 24 hours in the fridge, covered, until you’re ready to cook them.

The puddings aren’t very sweet but the ice cream is, making a nice contrast. If you can’t be bothered making the ice cream, just serve the puddings with cream. The recipe serves six if you use smaller cups and is easy to double.

Unfortunately the ice cream started to melt before I took the photo, so it looks even more like a cappuccino!

unnamedCoffee ice cream:
300ml thick cream
½ of a 395g can condensed milk
2 Tbs instant coffee mixed with 1 Tbs boiling water
125g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate, broken into squares
1 Tbs instant coffee mixed with 1 Tbs boiling water (see note)
4 eggs
2 Tbs plain flour

For the ice cream, whip cream with electric beaters until soft peaks form, then whip in the condensed milk and the coffee until thoroughly combined. Scrape into a plastic container with a lid and freeze for several hours or overnight.

For the puddings, lightly oil 4 to 6 coffee cups or small ramekins. Melt butter in microwave. Add chocolate and stir till dissolved, then mix in coffee mixture. Thoroughly beat eggs with a fork, then mix into chocolate mixture with flour. Divide between the coffee cups and refrigerate, covered, until serving time.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Bake puddings for 10-11 minutes until nicely risen. They will still be soft inside. Serve with a scoop of coffee ice cream on top.

Serves 4-6

Note: if preferred leave the coffee out of the puddings and just put it in the ice cream.


Many moons ago I was in Spain for the first time on a school exchange when my host family took me to an establishment which served churros and nothing else. The queue of people waiting to be seated went out the door and halfway up the block. Always a promising sign.

We eventually sat down to a huge plate of warm crispy churros rolled in cinnamon sugar which was placed in the middle of the table. We each had a mug of very thick hot chocolate to dip the churros into. And I mean thick – you could almost stand your spoon up in it! I was hooked.

Like eclairs and profiteroles, churros are made from choux pastry, but instead of cooking them in the oven they’re fried in hot oil, like doughnuts. I have a special gadget for pushing the dough through, but a piping bag with a large star nozzle works just as well.

Instead of a mug of thick hot chocolate serve the churros with a simple dipping sauce made from cream and chocolate. For a more grown up combination try them with salted caramel sauce. Either way they are delicious.


1 cup milk
75g unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
1¾ cups plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
Vegetable oil for frying
sugar and cinnamon for rolling
Chocolate sauce:
1 cup thick cream
125g chocolate (milk or dark)
Salted Caramel Sauce:
½ cup sugar
½ cup cream
60g butter
½ tsp salt

In a non-stick saucepan heat milk, butter and sugar until boiling point is reached. Remove from the heat and add the flour and baking powder, all in one go. Beat well with a wooden spoon until lump-free and mixture leaves the sides of the pan clean. Return to the heat and cook, stirring for 2 mins. Remove from heat and add the beaten eggs gradually, beating well after each addition. Cool.

Heat oil in a large deep frying pan or deep fat fryer. It should be at least 4cm deep. Place some of the mixture in a piping bag with a star nozzle or in a special churros gadget. When oil is hot pipe in the churros a few at a time, using a knife to cut them off when they are 10-15cm long. Cook, turning once, till golden on both sides, then remove from oil and toss in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Serve warm with chocolate or salted caramel sauce.

Chocolate Sauce: heat cream until boiling point is reached then remove from heat. Add chocolate broken into squares and stir until melted. Cool a bit and serve warm.

Salted Caramel Sauce: melt sugar in a small heavy-based pan until melted and dark caramel colour, swirling the pan from time to time. Add cream and butter and mix until smooth. Cool a bit and serve warm. Can be reheated.

Serves 6-8

Chocolate-Espresso Self-Saucing Pudding

Every grandma worth her salt has a chocolate self-saucing pudding in her repertoire. They’re a cinch to make and because of the unique way the ingredients are assembled a delicious sauce forms under the pudding as it cooks.

Adding a couple of shots of espresso turns this into a more sophisticated dessert for coffee lovers. Adjust the amount of coffee to suit your taste or leave it out altogether and just use 2 cups (500ml) of boiling water. Kids will prefer it without the coffee.

Chocolate Espresso Self-Saucing Pudding

1 cup self-raising flour
½ cup caster sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
60g unsalted butter, melted
½ cup milk
½ tsp vanilla essence
1 egg
½ cup caster sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water and 1 cup hot coffee (2 shots)
To serve:
Cocoa for dusting
Thick cream or vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 180ºC and butter a 1.5L capacity ovenproof dish such as a lasagne dish. Sift flour, sugar and cocoa into a bowl and mix. Mix melted butter with milk and vanilla and beat in the egg with a fork. Mix thoroughly into flour mixture then tip into pudding dish and spread evenly. Mix sugar and cocoa for topping and sprinkle evenly over the pudding. Mix boiling water and coffee and carefully pour evenly over the top. Bake for 30 mins or until the top is firm.

Use a sieve to lightly dust the top of the pudding with cocoa powder. Serve with cream or vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6-8

Variations: use brown sugar instead of caster sugar. Add some chocolate chips and/or chopped walnuts.

Grand Marnier Soufflés

Serving hot soufflés is a sure way to impress your guests. But their reputation of being difficult makes many people nervous about making them.

In fact the only difficult part is making sure you get them from the oven to the table as quickly as possible, before they start to sink. Did you know that you can make them in the morning and leave them uncooked in the fridge all day? Don’t ask me why, but they don’t sink.

At serving time just stick them in a very hot oven and they will rise impressively above the rim of the dishes. Have your serving plates, icing sugar and sieve all ready and as soon as they come out of the oven it’s all hands on deck to get them to the table, as the guests say “Ooh aah” or words to that effect.

Grand Marnier SoufflésButter and sugar for the dishes
1 cup milk
4 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp orange zest (I used mandarin)
2 Tbs flour
¼ cup Grand Marnier
4 egg whites
pinch salt
¼ cup sugar
To serve:
Icing sugar
Thick cream

Butter four one-cup soufflé dishes, then coat the buttery sides with sugar, tipping out the excess. If baking straight away pre-heat oven to 200ºC.

Heat milk in a non-stick milk pan. In a small bowl mix egg yolks, sugar, orange zest, flour and Grand Marnier with a hand whisk until thoroughly combined. Add the hot milk and whisk to combine, then tip back into pan and return to heat. Cook gently, stirring constantly with a flat bottomed wooden spatula. As soon as custard thickens remove from heat and continue to stir briskly for 30 secs to ensure there are no lumps. Don’t over-cook or you will have scrambled eggs.

With electric beaters, whip egg whites and salt until stiff peaks, then add sugar and continue to whip to a stiff meringue. With a rubber spatula fold meringue thoroughly into custard, then divide between the soufflé dishes. It should come almost to the top. Place dishes on a biscuit tray so they are easy to put in the oven or fridge in one go.

Recipe can be prepared ahead to this point. Soufflés can be kept in the fridge for several hours. Bake at 200ºC for 15-20 mins until well-risen and golden. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately with a dollop of thick cream.

Serves 4

Variations: Use Cointreau or another liqueur instead of Grand Marnier. For vanilla soufflés leave out the liqueur and add 2 tsp vanilla essence or the seeds from one vanilla pod. Cut the vanilla pod into 2-3 pieces and put in the milk while you heat it up, then discard.