The winter weather maybe frightful but your home-made bakes will be delightful!

Baking requires attention to detail. Pans need to be prepared in advance and measurements must be exact. To get the best cake, creaming the butter and sugar until light and fluffy will help enormously. However, in this day of ‘busy, busy, busy,’ the food processor has a place.

It can be used for nearly every meal occasion as well as preparing batters for waffles and pikelets and a processor speeds up the preparation of many traditional cakes and cookies.

Just about every cookie which requires the butter and sugar to be creamed can be prepared in a food processor. The butter should be slightly soft or at least at room temperature before placing in the processor. The sugar, eggs and flavourings are added then processed until smooth. Use a spatula to scrape the mixture down the sides of the bowl to the base. The flour and raising agent are added next followed by a short whizz. There should be a light dusting of flour left on the top. This will be absorbed by the time the blade is removed or extras such as nuts, fruits or chocolate are added.


I used a conventional electric hand beater for these light delights. A food processor could also be used.

125g butter 
1/2 cup milk 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence 
3 tablespoons custard powder 
1 cup caster sugar 
2 eggs, lightly beaten 
1 cup self-raising flour
Icing: 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tablespoon custard powder
50g butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease an 8-hole mini loaf pan or cupcake pan. Dust with flour. 

Melt the butter in the microwave in a large bowl Add all the other ingredients and beat — preferably within electric beater — for 3 minutes. 

Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes then remove the cakes and place on a rack. 

To make the icing, sift the icing sugar and custard powder into a bowl. Stir in the butter. Add a little cream or milk if too thick. Spoon over the tops of the cakes. 
If preferred, they may be garnished with flaked almonds and dusted with icing sugar. Makes 8 mini loaves.


Crumble: 50g butter
1/4 cup each: brown sugar, flour, rolled oats, walnuts  
Cake: 125g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten 
1 cup each: milk, wholemeal self-raising flour, plain flour 
1 teaspoon each: ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg 
3 cups peeled and cubed pears

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Lightly grease a 20cm ring cake pan. Line the base with baking paper.

To make the crumble, place all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until just crumbled. 

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs and milk and mix until smooth. Add the sifted dry ingredients. Fold in the pears and half the crumble mix. Pour into the prepared cake pan. Top with the remaining crumble mix. 

Bake for about 1 1/4 hours or util a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes before removing from the pan.


1/4 cup sugar
125g butter, chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 egg
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3-4 tablespoons icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Place the sugar, butter and vanilla essence in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Mix until smooth. Add the flour and egg and continue mixing until a ball forms.

Place the ball between 2 sheets of waxed or baking paper and roll out to about 1cm thickness. Cut into squares or bars and place on a baking paper-lined baking tray. Sprinkle with the walnuts, pressing in lightly. Dust with half the icing sugar.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden. Dust with the remaining icing sugar. Makes about 16.


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