Sociable Saturdays and Slow Sundays

My weekends are proper weekends again. Hooray, and phew, only two days not working to do things like switch the sheets, hang out with people, paint, shop, get my recharging time in, blog, sleep late – I’d forgotten. Looking forward to Fridays is back on my radar! 

This weekend has been a fantastic combination of the social and the slow. As an introvert, I really enjoy people’s company, and I really enjoy, and need, big chunks of time by myself. 

I set my alarm for Saturday morning and headed to Carlton for a #BWPmeetup organised by the lovely Naomi. A group of eight Blog With Pip alums got together at Travelling Samovar, a beautiful tea house, where we sampled a range of iced teas, learned about cold infusions and a little of the history of tea, and we even got to blend our own tea to take home. We all had a wonderful morning in their sun dappled courtyard. 

BWP fun at Travelling Samovar

One of my favourite moments was chatting with one of the owners, Pascale, about the BWP community. If you read more than one Pipster’s blog, I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of praise for Pip Lincolne, and hand on my heart, without elevating her to sainthood, I’d say Pip’s greatest achievement as a teacher is fostering a truly supportive, encouraging, online community. This is rare! As we all know, the internet can make people lose their minds (and manners) a little, as anyone who spends time reading comments, message boards, or hanging out on Facebook and Twitter would have seen. 

I was so proud to be able to tell Pascale about our community, how those of us who live near each other arrange meetups and how some travelling Pipsters have arranged international meetups, and how I have friends like Rach in Auckland thanks to blogging. 

So Saturday started out with a fun and social vibe. A few of us went on to lunch a few doors down and we had a great conversation over pizzas and salads. I enjoyed a cheeky glass of midday wine! 

I was so happy that I got to meet a few new people, and enjoy a gorgeous summer morning with such quality ladies. 

The rest of the day was solo and quiet, which also suits me just fine! 

This morning I baked a KILLER loaf of banana bread using this recipe by BabyMac. I love that #sundaybakingsunday has become part of people’s routine. I love seeing all your delicious pies and cakes and lunch box treats on Instagram. 

Bev’s Banana Bread

Mmmmm… so good!


I’ve done a little painting, hung out online and am showered and wearing fresh pjs! For bonus points, it is Fresh Sheets Day. Ahh, life is good. 

Time is precious. 

Whether you enjoy it more in the company of others, or spending it alone, or a combo, time is a real privilege. 

We have only this moment. Today. 

I hope that thought inspires us to treat each other with kindness, to be mindful that everyone we meet has battle scars and victories that have shaped them, that the best thing to do if we feel unsure of someone’s intention is to ask, politely, and as appropriate, to engage more with each other. I wish I could look you in the eye as you read this. I truly feel like I’m entering into conversation with you here. I want it to be a genuinely open dialogue. 

So here’s to slow Sundays, social Saturdays and the simple joy of putting my head down on fresh sheets tonight. 

How has your weekend been? Got a story to share? I’m listening. 


Annette xx 


Sunday Baking Sunday – the damper pull-apart edition

Today’s Sunday Baking Sunday effort has been a resounding success, if I do say so myself. Go me!

Seems a few of you agree, at least from a visual perspective, as I’ve had lovely likes and comments on Instagram and Facebook as I’ve posted as many photos as a proud mother would of their ‘baby’. Granted, I’ve already eaten a good third of my ‘baby’ so perhaps that’s not a great metaphor.

I’ve been on a bit of a citrus kick in the kitchen lately, so this week as I pondered what to bake, I decided I’d like to take a turn into savoury baking again.

Here she is….

damper pull-apart loaf
Damper Pull-Apart


I found a damper pull-apart recipe that I planned to follow in the August 2014 issue of Real Living magazine. The food section in Real Living has a really accessible, delicious selection of recipes, so if you’re a regular reader who usually flicks past that section, I’d encourage you to slow down and try something that their food team has put together.

Though I read through the recipe several times before launching into today’s baking, I still managed to miss several ingredients and steps, which leads me to conclude that I’ve really made a variation on the recipe I was allegedly following. It worked out beautifully, proving that though recipes can be super helpful, they don’t have to be slavishly followed to get a good result. The quantities of flour, buttermilk, salt and butter remained the same, which I think gave me a good foundation for wandering off the suggested path.

So, here’s my variation on the Real Living Pine Nut, Parmesan & Thyme Damper Pull-Apart.

We begin with the name and key ingredients – pine nuts, check, thyme leaves – nope, substituted some dried basil & fresh spinach leaves, parmesan – intended to add it, completely forgot to.

Shrugs shoulders, onwards.

Annette’s Pine Nut, Spinach, Garlic, Sea Salt & Basil Damper Pull-Apart. 


1/2 cup pine nuts (I just used a whole little packet of pine nuts which you can buy at the supermarket)

3 1/2 cups of self raising flour

Sea salt flakes

1 3/4 cups buttermilk (I made my own by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice per cup of milk, then allowing it to stand for 10 minutes)

100g butter, melted

3 cloves garlic, minced (I used three teaspoons of minced garlic from my trusty jar in the fridge)

A good shake of dried basil (or whatever you like or have on hand)

A handful of fresh spinach leaves, torn.

You’ll also need a baking tray for your pine nuts, and a 20 x 10 cm (ish) loaf tin, also lined with baking paper.


Get your buttermilk organised, if you’re making it with milk and lemon juice/vinegar. Let it stand for 10 minutes.

Pop your oven on to 200 degrees Celsius.

Put your pine nuts on a lined baking tray and pop them in the oven as it is coming up to temperature. Keep an eye on them, you don’t want burnt nuts. Should take about 5 minutes to turn a lovely light golden colour.

Sift the flour into a large bowl, add 3/4 tsp sea salt flakes and mix. Create a well in the centre of the mixture.

Melt the butter (I did mine in the microwave).

Nut check!

Pour the buttermilk and half of the melted butter into the well you’ve created. Stir until it all comes together into a soft dough.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface (or try an oiled surface if you’re that way inclined).

Check your nuts again, they should be done by now!

This is the best part – knead that soft dough for just 1 minute! (Helpful tip – I put a bowl of water in the sink before I start this step, so I can wash my fingers off without getting dough all over my taps. I know, right? Super clever!)

Push and shape the dough into a rough rectangle, about 30 x 40 cms. I didn’t bother measuring, and I’m sure my dough didn’t stretch that far!

Add the garlic to your remaining melted butter, mix around a bit and then pour carefully, and evenly over your dough. Grab those golden nuts, sprinkle them over the dough and butter. Doesn’t that look good?! Mmmm. (This is a major deviation from the original recipe, as they wanted the butter and garlic poured over the loaf once it was in the pan. I think perhaps only really impacted the colour of the loaf, and having the extra butter and garlic through the loaf was super tasty.)

Pine nut scattering
Pine nut scattering

Shake your basil or other herbage over the dough, tear your spinach leaves and dot them around the dough artfully, and begin salivating.

Now, the fun part – cut your dough into even strips (vertically) and then stack those strips on top of each other, toppings and all. It’s a good idea to take into account the measurements of your loaf tin at this point. My dough got cut into four strips, just use your best judgement on this.

The dough needed a little help coming off my not-quite-floured enough surface, so it got an extra twisty element as I gently lowered it into the loaf tin.

Ready for the oven
Ready for the oven

Bake (at 200) for 45 minutes, then cover the loaf loosely with foil and bake for a further 25 minutes.

Et voila, delicious damper that’s got a golden crust and pulls apart easily to be shared. So good right! And pretty easy. The prep shouldn’t take more than 15 – 20 minutes.

Serve with a good smear of butter, or you could use smashed avocado or those dips you’ve got hanging about in the fridge. In fact, this pull-apart could be the star of a Sunday platter, with some lovely cheeses, ham and olives. The possibilities are endless.

Escapng pine nut, lovely crust
Escapng pine nut, lovely crust

This loaf is definitely in the spirit of Sunday Baking Sunday – which you’re most welcome to join in with on social media using #sundaybakingsunday – it’s all about easy, delicious recipes that you don’t have to follow slavishly. Use the basic ratios, then go crazy. This way when you just forget stuff, it becomes CULINARY ART darling!

Happy baking, enjoy the rest of this sunny Sunday, and let me know if you’re going to try this pull-apart.

What’s your best variation on a recipe? Chat away in the comments here and on social media, I love it when you do!













The spirit of #sundaybakingsunday

Hello friends! 

I just wanted to say thank you to those of you who join in with my weekly baking snap-fest on Instagram. 

SundayBakingSunday isn’t about spending three hours creating the fanciest cakes, or using the most difficult to source ingredients. 

It’s about my kitchen, it’s about your kitchen. 

It’s snapping a shot of your cake – straight out of the oven, plonked on a board. 

It is the smell of whatever we’re creating telling us it is almost ready… it is about the people you bake for, and no-apologies-required second pieces. 

It’s about lunchbox treats and baking your sister’s birthday cake. 

It’s come as you are – no light box required! 

There’s so much that’s styled and truly beautiful out there, and I appreciate those talents but #sundaybakingsunday is a place of domestic democracy – all cakes, slices, pies, loaves welcome!! Burnt, underdone, just right – come to the table. 

Let’s feast together and enjoy our Sundays. 


Annette xx 

Sunbeam Baking Sunday – Chocolate Velvet Cake

Good morning bakers!

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I recently WON a brand spanking new Sunbeam Mixmaster. Apparently it can mix planets, but I haven’t been able to find my slices of Jupiter in the back of the pantry.

Ta-daaaah, my lovely prize and my winning pun!



So after a few teething problems (which I’ve diagnosed as Nervous Operator Syndrome), I have baked my first cake using a mixmaster.

I chose Chocolate Velvet Cake, because – chocolate.



The recipe isn’t mine, so I won’t anger the gods of copyright by reproducing it, but the internet being what it is, a quick Google of Chocolate Velvet Cake and you’ll be ready to make your own version, in plenty of time for afternoon tea today!


What is your go-to cake?

Do you have a mixmaster?

How do you fit planets in the bowl?

I love seeing what you’ve been up to in your kitchens, so if you’re on Instagram,  Twitter, or Facebook, snap a shot of your cake, slice, tower of choux pastry, savoury muffins or pies and tag it #sundaybakingsunday. It’s great to see what other people are up to, don’t you think?

Until next Sunday, or the urge strikes again, I wish you happy baking, and a second slice of chocolate cake!

Go on, you know you want to.


Annette xx



Baking our blues away

Hello! It’s Sunday, which means it’s time to bake. At the moment, there’s a chocolate cake in the oven and I’m really looking forward to sharing a slice or two with my friend Sharon, who is just back from her honeymoon. Wedding photos – yay!

Baking is somehow more satisfying when the results are shared, don’t you think?

Rather than just rave about my own baking prowess today – mighty as it is *cough*, I wanted to let you know about a great event that’s happening this week called Baking Our Blues Away.


This event is the brainchild of Michelle Symes, wife and mother of two, who has had her own experience with dealing with anxiety and illness in her family.

You can read about her experience here on the BOBA website.

Please pop over to the site for all the info about this great volunteer run initiative.

Based on her experiences of life backing up the lemon truck on her doorstep, Michelle is calling on bakers (and non bakers) everywhere to create something home-made (or bought from a local bakery, we won’t tell) and share it with someone in your life on Tuesday 15 July.

You could bake a lemon slice and take it to work, and encourage people to down tools for a cuppa and a chat.

You could whip up a batch of apple and cinnamon muffins and pop around to your mum’s house, or call in on your bestie, your brother or sister. Pop the kettle on, enjoy a treat and connect over a cuppa.

The idea is just to bake, share and connect. Pretty simple stuff really, but easily put in the ‘I’m too busy’ basket.

With 1 in 4 Australians suffering anxiety, something as simple as sharing a cake and a cuppa can be a really powerful thing. I know there have been times when a chance to just chat over a cuppa and cake have been really important. Even though cake is awesome, we know it can’t really help anyone. But conversation can, looking someone in the eyes and asking them how they are can. Caring can.

You can join the Baking Our Blues Away Facebook event here and find out more about this great initiative. Even if you can’t bake on the nominated day, why not make a time to bake, share and care with someone this week? It could be just the tonic someone needs.

Oh, there goes the alarm on my cake….

It needs another five or ten minutes.

Being a big fan of social media (who me? The sun was up when I logged into Instragram, I swear!) Baking Our Blues Away is hashtag ready for all eventualities.

You can share using #bakesharecare or #bobacakefail if you have a bit of a kitchen disaster. My tip – icing covers a multitude of sins!

So, maybe double batch whatever you’re baking today and find a time to sit down and enjoy the fruits of your flan tin with a workmate, neighbour, relative, a new mum, someone just out of hospital, someone grieving… you get the idea.

Let there be baking, and sharing, and caring.

Now, do you think Sharon will mind if I have a slither of chocolate cake before she gets here?

I look forward to seeing what you create to #bakesharecare and hearing your stories about the power of a meaningful chat and a slice of cake.

Bake on, friends!

Annette xx BOBALogo

The pleasures of snail mail, and baking

Hello Sunday morning – rain falling on the roof, the warmth and whirring of the heater, birds chirping outside, and the joy of my first cup of coffee for the day. I like Sundays.

I don’t know if it’s a winter thing, a getting older thing, or just a Sunday morning thing, but more and more I am enjoying, and craving, simple pleasures and moments. Perhaps that’s why I am enjoying the rhythm of baking every Sunday and sharing that here and on Instagram. (Don’t forget to play along – just bake, snap and tag #sundaybakingsunday.)

This morning I’ve made a choc coconut slice and a square tinned “loaf” of banana bread, just to mix things up.

The choc coconut slice isn’t from a recipe book, and I didn’t find it online.

It’s a recipe that was sent to me with a handwritten letter and a gift. Thanks Pia!

Pia is one of my Blog With Pip classmates and you can follow her adventures here.

Here’s the recipe Pia sent me:

Pia recipe


And here’s the result!

choc coconut slice



I’m saving the sampling until after lunch (or at least breakfast). This slice was so quick and easy to put together and smells and looks delicious!

Do you have any handwritten recipes in your collection? Handed down through the generations, or shared by a friend?

Knowing that Pia took a few minutes to write me a letter, adding a gift, well two if you include this recipe (which I do!) and finding an envelope, a stamp and the time to pop the letter into a mail box – these things remind me that there’s kindness in the world, and plenty of it. Her letter and gifts made me smile and feel good, they were a real boost in a crappy week.

Sure, she could have sent me a link to the recipe on Facebook or via email (and I am a fan of those methods too), but I’m really chuffed that I have a favourite “feeling a bit shite” comfort recipe of hers, in her lovely handwriting, which I get to share with you.

I hope you’re having a lovely Sunday, and that you might be inspired to get out your recipe folder and bake something, perhaps from a handwritten recipe someone kind once sent you.

Time for a second cuppa, and maybe a cheeky square of Pia’s choc coconut slice!

Have a great day.


Annette x

Royal #sundaybakingsunday – Raspberry & Coconut Cakes

Rainy, cool days are the kind of days that draw me into the kitchen. The fact that this is a long weekend (a very Happy Un-Birthday to you Your Majesty) means there’s more time for baking and trying new recipes. This week’s #sundaybakingsunday involves a winning combination – raspberry and coconut.

I have a small collection of cookbooks that I thumb through for inspiration, and cook from regularly – including Donna Hay, Jamie Oliver, and Matt Preston (as well as a few strategically placed stacks of food magazines). I have to confess the bulky blue Women’s Weekly tome ‘Kitchen’ hasn’t been pulled off the shelf that much lately, or ever. It’s arranged by cooking equipment rather than the usual format of savoury and sweet dishes sectioned into chapters on pork, fish, chicken, soups, puddings and so on.

Flicking almost to the back of the book, I found the chapter I was after – ‘The Muffin Pan & The Patty Pan’ – ahh my comfort zone. Those of you who have embraced #sundaybakingsunday know that I love to whip up a batch of muffins. I do. They’re easy, always tasty and no fuss. They can be sweet or savoury and they don’t take long. That’s my kind of baking. There are fancier cooks out there; they won’t find any competition here.

So I found a raspberry and coconut muffin recipe, and a banana and blueberry patty cakes recipe and I thought, hang the expense, I’ll mash the processes (not the flavours) together and see what happens. (I couldn’t be bothered with rubbing butter and flour. There, I said it!)

Well that would have been fine if I’d actually read the recipes carefully and followed either of the processes correctly!

Avant-garde baking – it’s a thing!

I should have melted 125 grams of butter and half a cup of milk, instead I combined the butter and ¾ cup of caster sugar on the stove, and by the time the butter melted, the sugar hadn’t really dissolved.

I used my trusty hand mixer to get 2 eggs thick and creamy.

I combined the butter, sugar and eggs into a bigger mixing bowl, added about ½ cup desiccated coconut and ½ cup of coconut milk (left over from making butter chicken earlier in the week) and sifted in 1 ½ cups of self raising flour.

Clatter in a cup of frozen raspberries, mix, mix and I was good to go.

Filled up my baking tray with even-ish blobs of delicious cake mix, trying to be sure the berries were evenly distributed, and then into the oven at about 200 Celsius for 25 minutes.

My muffin tray is eminently reliable as a non-stick baking tray, but today, not so much! Disaster!

Not really, but even though I sprayed the tin, the bottoms of my little berry coconut cakes didn’t want to come out nicely.

cake close up


The cakes were super light and DELICIOUS, which I think was helped by getting the eggs nice and fluffy, so I’m still counting this bake as a success. Next time I’ll try and stick with one recipe – ahh, who am I kidding, I’m a bit of a culinary winger. I like to throw in a dash more of this, switch out an ingredient for something I’ve got on hand, and make a little disguise-the-ripped-cake-bottom sauce with jam, I cook outside the lines.

cake close up


That’s the beauty of home cooking, it is just that – cooking for the people at home, the people who I hope will accept, enjoy and perhaps even compliment a deliciously light cake, whether it is entirely intact or not.

Happy baking my friends! Let me know what you come up with this weekend, whether it is royally ‘themed’ or not.

You can leave a comment, or better still, do that and share a photo of your kitchen triumph on Instagram or my Facebook page, and don’t forget the #sundaybakingsunday tag.