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Prêt-a-portea, afternoon tea at the Berkley Hotel August 24, 2011

I started the day shopping in Harvey Nicols, which was very appropriate for what I had planned in the afternoon.

Prêt-a-portea at the Berkley Hotel, which is a modern take on the traditional English afternoon tea.  Prêt-a-portea is supposed to be inspired from fashion trends and encompasses inspirations from Tom Ford, Victoria Beckham, Chloe, just to name a few.

It was a rainy, gloomy day so I arrived early to my 3:30pm reservation.  The hostess who met me was absolutely lovely, apologetic that my table wasn’t ready (at 3:10pm) and seating me in the foyer with a few magazines.

I wasn’t forgotten either, at 3:25, I was ushered (with the magazines – as I was dining alone) to my table.  There was a place card, with my name on it! Very nice touch!

Personalised Place setting

I was presented with the menus, and the hostess also gave me a copy of the menu and the postcard inspiration to keep.  I went for the standard prêt-a-portea without the champagne and started off with a beautifully scented caramel and pear tea. The teapots and plates were all Paul Smith, brightly coloured stripe.

Menu – I can’t seem to rotate it!

Not too long after, the first of the savouries arrived.  Sandwiches, egg in a sweet, soft bun, tuna in tomato seeded bread, smoke salmon and teriyaki chicken rolled in tortilla.  All the sandwiches were served without crust, the bread soft, and reasonably tasty. These all went very well with my hot tea.

Egg sandwich, tuna and tomato bread, salmon, cucumber, terriyaki chicken wrap

Pear Caramel Tea

Paul Smith Dinnerware

Next up were the savouries: along with the savouries came with a 3 tier stand with brightly coloured, beautifully presented cake, savouries and shot glasses of little desserts.

Top tier, that was like a mint and coconut, I wasn’t a big fan of the Yellow shot glass

The savouries: Potato salad in a crispy crust, lobster nori roll, artichoke (sour with a nice crunch), cold spicy melon soup (delicious!) and Beef tenderloin.  All tasty and when the waiter asked if I wanted some more, another plate of savouries (all of them!) were quickly brought to me.  As I finished those, with a nod of my head, another plate of sandwiches.

Bottom tier, Savouries

After the 2 rounds each of savouries, I was ready for the sweets.  They looked too pretty to eat! They were all delicious with very distinct flavours, my favourite being the Chocolate and hazelnut praline.  I also loved the cookies, simply because I loved how they were iced.  Many of the desserts were quite mousse-like so it was very light and none of them were too sweet.

One of the cookies

I was also asked if I wanted to tea change and this time I got amazing apple and amazing it was.  Real fruit pieces, that were seeped in hot water.  Delicious, it was something to drink and something to eat!

I didn’t like one of the desserts, which was mandarin flavoured, but the rest I quickly devoured.  With a smile, another lot of desserts was brought, but this time, I was so full I was taking small short breadths.

After I finished everything, I was asked if I enjoyed everything? When I confirmed that I did, they said, “Would you like us to pack some for you to take home?”…WOULD I?! YES! I WOULD!

I got given a cardboard printed box that was shaped as a pretty handbag in colours of pistachio and pink and it contained three other desserts.

Overall, the only criticism was one of the (many) desserts that wasn’t to my taste, and some of the fondant that was used in shaping of the desserts…other than that, the whole experience was perfection.

I would recommend it to anyone and never did they once make me feel uncomfortable for dining alone.  Pictures are allowed too, so feel free to snap away!

I’ll be going back in a few months time – the menu changes every six months.  So, so worth it.


Caramel Room (The Berkeley Hotel) on Urbanspoon


Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Brownies December 8, 2009

I got this very easy and delicious recipe from D-Boy.  I don’t know where he got it from, but I love it and I will add it to my cooking/baking repitoire.  I promised I’d make these for him this weekend, and I’d say they went down very well.  The middle is gooey and soft, the cheesecake layer swirled through it stops it from being too coyingly sweet.  The top is slightly flakey and it is good.

It’s not the prettiest thing to look at, but trust me. It’s delicious.  My version is gluten free and it absolutely does not taste it, you can definitely just go with normal flour if that’s easier.

250g of Dark Chocolate

200g of butter, softened

1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar

4 eggs

1/2 cup of gluten free self-raising flour, sifted

1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa, sifted

250g of lite cream cheese

1/4 cup of caster sugar

125g of frozen raspberries – I don’t see why fresh ones wouldn’t work though

Preheat oven to 170C, line your brownie pan.

Melt your chocolate, I did mine in the microwave on medium in 30 second bursts.

Beat the butter and the brown sugar until creamy.  Add three of the eggs and beat well after each addition. Fold in the flour, the cocoa and the melted chocolate.

In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and the caster sugar, add the egg and mix well.  Lite cream cheese is a lot softer than full fat ones, so it won’t take long.  Fold in the raspberries.

Put 2/3 of the chocolate batter on the bottom of the tin, and the put all the cream cheese mixture over it, top this off with the remaining chocolate batter and use a skewer and swirl it around.  Bake for 50 minutes.



Assembling of an Engagement Cake November 29, 2009

You know what’s crazy?  Offering to bake someone a cake for their Engagement.  You know what’s even more crazy?  When said offeror has only made one other cake for someone and that was for her three year old nephew’s birthday who showed her a rock in a box and said, “Look eggs!”.


Nine hours, a dozen eggs, a kilo of butter, even more of that of sugar, sweat, loads of dish washing – this.


The cake is equivalent to 6 batches of cake and is made up of a 9 inch pan, a 7 inch pan and a 5 inch pan.  I lined the pans’ sides and filled the cake to the rip so that the cake rose was about 7 centimetres high.  The top tier, I tried to slice into two using my new cake slicer that I bought from ebay for about $8 or $9 but it came out uneven so the remaing cakes were all divided into three and filled with salted butter cream.

After frosting all three cakes, I then had to crumbcoat each cake, and then frost them.  In the midst of all of this, I ran out of the double batch of butter cream I’d made (I underestimated how much frosting I’d need to fill and crumb coat the cakes).  So I had to take butter out of the fridge to soften, and then make another batch of buttercream.  The second batch, I used a slightly different recipe (no shortening ) and the buttercream was a lot lighter and didn’t set like the previous batch.  You can see the difference between the two frosting.  The first tier was frosted with the first batch of buttercream, and the bottom two cakes were frosted with the second batch of butter cream.

After frosting and sitting on the floor and carving the supporting rods (dowels) out and then putting the cakes together (this caused me some stress)…it was time to decorate the cakes.  I’d decided on fondant flowers…which made me a bit aprehensive.  I’ve worked with fondant twice and I think it’s seriously hard to work with.  It is NOT like on YouTube where it looks like it’s so easy to play with.  My fondants are sticky and don’t stay the shape I want it to.  I made white, light pink, and pink flowers using flower cutters I’d bought.  They were plastic cutters and from now on, I might just buy metal ones, the plastic cutters don’t cut as cleanly – in my opinion and leaves a slight edge to them unless I jiggle the cutters around a bit.  Maybe they weren’t the faciest cutters maybe?  I haphazardly placed the flowers on, cascading down one end, and dotted each one with cachous (glued on with buttercream) and then finished the sides and backs with a few random flowers here and there.


I breathed a sigh of relief I got it to my friend’s house in one piece and was suitably chuffed when everyone commented on its look and its taste!  🙂


My Homemade Oreos November 27, 2009

Filed under: desserts,Food,Home Cookery,Pastries — Dobsessed @ 6:49 am
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I watched Julie and Julia the other day and it turns out that Julie Powell gained 9kg in 365 days cooking for Julia Child’s cookbook and you know what?  I thought it was pretty impressive that she didn’t gain more weight from it.  I bake.  I eat and I bake some more and I’ve probably put on 5kg in the 2 months I’ve started regularly baking.


These days, I’m more likely to skip pilates and bake. Two days ago, I blamed it on tiredness and ate pies.  Last night, I blamed it on the storm (and then promptly went out in the storm to buy Copha so I could make Oreos).  It’s totally irrational.  It’s terrible for my thighs but I’m lost and I’m absolutely addicted.


One of my favourite cookies are Oreos.  I love Oreos, I love breaking them apart, and I love spreading crunchy peanut butter on them and eating them slowly, I love dunking them in milk and I love eating the white filling last.  Because I can no longer really eat Oreos anymore, I decided to bake my own.  I made a Devil’s Food Cake recently, and the rich, dense, deep cocoa flavour really reminded me of Oreos and that what gave me the inspiration.  Most recipes I trawled through on the internet suggests using a Devil’s Food Cake recipe but that didn’t really appeal to me, so I flipped through this beautiful book I bought recently, Organic and Chic and  halved and adapted the recipe in the book and it worked rather well.   The cookies were fairly close in taste to real Oreos, it just didn’t have the crunch and were like chewy cookies.  Some people who tried it said they preferred it that way.


The cookies were quick to make, but cutting them and then baking them in batches took a bit of time, no matter, I just watched YouTube while they bake their requisite 8 minutes. The first batch I made, I baked for 10 minutes, they got slightly too brown and the lone cookies (without the icing) were a bit bitter.  I baked the rest at 8 minutes but I really wished I had baked them for 10 because the 8 minute cookies were chewy whereas, for them to be truly like Oreos, they needed the crunch.  I think next time I’d also bake them in a slightly cooler oven, and for 11 minutes so they dried out the cookie a bit more.  My tasters at work liked the chewiness though, so maybe you could do a variation?



  • 115g softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of caster sugar
  • 1 egg – room temperature
  • 1 tablespoons of vanilla extract (I love vanilla)
  • 1 cups of cooking cocoa (don’t use drinking chocolate – that’s too sweet)
  • 1 cup of plain flour (I used White Wings gluten free flour)


  • 2 and a bit cups of pure icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 50g of Copha

1. Line your baking sheets with baking paper

2. Cream the butter and sugar then add the egg and vanilla.

3. Sift the cocoa and the clour together and slowly add to the buttery egg mixure until combined.

4. put a lump of the dough on the baking sheet, put another baking sheet on top and roll it out with a rolling pin.  I don’t have a rolling pin, so I used a vodka bottle.

5. Chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes or so.

6. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (or 160 degrees celsius if you’re baking it for 11 minutes).  Use cookie cutters to the cookies out and re-roll excess dough and repeat.

7. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes and allow to cool on a wire rack.

8. For the icing, mix everything together – I melted the copha in the microwave.  The icing will look nobbly and hard, but ignore this, and just spread it onto the cookies with a knife (you won’t be able to pipe it).  Store in an airtight container. 🙂


Breadtop | Garden City, Brisbane November 18, 2009

When I was a child, I absolutely hated eating bread.  I remember clearly, one Saturday morning, my Auntie had put toast in front of me for breakfast and I refused to eat it, doing the whole kicking and screaming thing because I hated bread and I hated toast and also because I was  a brat.  I also remember that my Auntie said that if I didn’t eat my breakfast, I wouldn’t be allowed to watch the parade that was going past our place that morning.  At the age of eight, I stubbornly sat at the breakfast table staring at the wall refusing to eat my breakfast and thus missing the passing parade, probably felt hungry too.


About five years ago, an amazing doctor that I met in Japan told me (through colour therapy and alternate medicine) that the stomach pains I frequently experience, the skin afflictions I’ve suffered from since I was two were because of my intolerance to wheat – when I say skin affliction, I’m talking about itchy boil-like blisters, peeling dry skin, split bloody skin.  So bad when I was young that I could barely walk without traipsing blood all over the kitchen tiles.  When I was in school, people wouldn’t shake my hands because my hands were very, very rough and I had to sleep with Vaseline coating my feet.  I’m sure this is a lot more information than you need…but I digress.  After two weeks of a wheat free diet, my skin completely cleared up (I’ve never even seen my skin sans blisters), I stopped feeling sick and ironically, ever since I stopped eating wheat, the biggest craving I get is bread.  Typical, isn’t it?


I cheat all the time, and suffer badly for it – because I don’t eat wheat all (most) of the time, whenever I do, my stomach pains are 50 times worse, I feel very sick, I feel like I’m going to fall asleep any second and my skin break out in painful sores pretty much the next day.  I know it’s crazy why I keep doing it to myself, but it explains why smokers still smoke despite knowing that it gives them cancer, heart diseases etc etc.


Breadtop, a franchise that’s comfortably ensconced in Sydney and Melbourne opened its first Brisbane store in Garden City and the glow of the golden, shiny breads, the beckoning trays had me grabbing buns left, right and center, and to hell with feeling sick for the next few days.


I bought many, many goodies and all their breads are quite reasonably priced, the more expensive treats being the cold, decorated cakes in their pastry cases.  I just went basic and got a variety of breads that I could place onto my tray myself.

This was a kani korrokke (seafood croquette) with mayo in a split roll, I had thought it was fish finger and was very pleasantly surprised as I love kani korrokke.  The croquette was cold, but beautifully smooth and creamy in amongst the sweet roll.  I must warn those who don’t like slightly sweet breads avoid Bread Top.

One of my other favourite cheating foods is chicken pies (I also love egg noodles), so I got this chicken and mushroom roll which was topped with a square of puff pastry.  The filling was slightly sweet, creamy and was lovely with the soft, doughy bread.  The puff pastry square was very mild, didn’t offer any crunch or buttery goodness.  My half eaten rolls definitely don’t convey how great these sweet breads are.

Apologies again for the half eaten rolls, I only remember to take pictures after I’ve taken a few generous bites.  The green tea and red bean roll was dusted lightly with icing sugar and quite true to macha green tea, the red bean paste wasn’t overly sweet and roughly mashed.  I prefer my red bean paste smoother and sweeter.

The purple hued taro roll looked like a cinnamon scroll with the swirls at the top and was swirled throughout with taro paste, it was rich and delicious, probably one of my favourite breads,

My next favourite roll was the coconut and milk roll, dolloped at the top with a bit of custard.  I call this the butter roll, which brings me back to my childhood when I use to run around Malaysia with these coconut-y, sweet and buttery filled rolls.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I ate half a bag of these (a plastic bag of 6 slightly smaller rolls) in one sitting along with all the other baked goods I had.


I also bought a green tea soufflé roll which was soft, spongy and strong in green tea flavour – sorry, no photos for this one.  All this bounty? Plus a bag of 6 smaller green tea, red bean filled rolls, only set me back $18 something!


I’d like to say that it was all worth it, and at the time it was, but I definitely paid for it the next day.


Butterscotch Latte Cupcakes October 27, 2009

Filed under: desserts,Food,Home Cookery,Pastries — Dobsessed @ 10:15 pm
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Butterscotch Latte Cupcakes

I really wanted to bake today because I received my delicious, gloriously red KitchenAid yesterday.  I bought it from Kitchenware Direct, it was great, $100 cheaper than what I saw in the shops, and it arrived within 6 working days (quoted 5-7 days) and in mint perfect condition, no dents or nicks – I checked.

On the weekend, I’d spent four and a half hours baking a Salted Caramel Cake with Brown Butter Frosting, a Daring Baker’s Challenge from last year, but I liked the idea of salted caramel and thought I’d challenge myself and gave it go.  The cake was pretty good, the whole cake was polished off within two days, but I was left with memories of the brown butter frosting (deliciously butterscotch) and a big container of left-over caramel syrup.  I decided to kill two birds in one stone, that is, break in my KitchenAid and use some of the caramel syrup.

I thought hard about what would go with butterscotch/caramel and my friend Nancy came to my mind.  We’re both known for drinking our ‘fake’ coffees, fake because she drinks caramel lattes, and my coffee order of ‘White chocolate mocha on skinny soy, extra shot with no cream” usually gets me a raised eyebrow or two.  I guess this cupcake is inspired by her coffee order :-).

butterscotch latte cupcakes

Butterscotch Latte Cupcakes – A recipe by ‘Bury Me In Food’

Makes 12 cupcakes



175g gluten free self-raising flour (I used Organ’s) – Sifted

175g softened unsalted butter

130g caster sugar

3 large free range eggs

4 tbls of Caramel Syrup (look for the recipe by searching for salted caramel cake)

1 tbls of coffee disolved in 2 tbls of hot water or 40ml shot of espresso


90g of butter

220g of icing sugar

1 1/2 tbls of caramel syrup

1 1/2 tbls of cream

1 tsp of coffee dissolved in 1tbls of hot water

Freshly ground rock salt


1. Preheat oven to 180c (fan forced).

2. Cream butter and sugar.  Add sifted flour, eggs and whisk. I did these in parts, eg. flour, eggs, whisk, flour, eggs, whisk etc.  Add caramel syrup and coffee and whisk until it is well incorporated.

3. Ladle into 12 paper cup cake cases and bake for 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

4. Take cupcakes out of the oven and brush more syrup over the top – 1 layer is fine.

5.  For the frosting, melt butter on medium heat until it is brown and you can smell nutty, butter.  Don’t burn the butter or it will taste bitter.  Allow the butter to cool and strain through a fine sieve to get rid of all the gritty brown bits.

6. In a bowl, place your butter and icing sugar and whisk, gradually add the caramel syrup, coffee, cream until it’s thick. Ice the cupcakes with the frosting.

The combination of the slightly bitter coffee scent and the sweet butterscotch frosting went perfectly with the coffee came (not much of the caramel came through) but the coffee is faint and not overpowering.  The cake itself is soft, spongey and not crumbly.  There were slightly larger salt crystals in the frosting which contrasted well with the sweetness. This recipe can be adapted by using your usual non-gluten free flour.


Misshapen Lemon & Lime Tarts September 27, 2009

Filed under: desserts,Food,Home Cookery,Pastries — Dobsessed @ 9:01 pm
My Misshapen Lemon & Lime Tarts

My Misshapen Lemon & Lime Tarts

For those who know me, they won’t deny that I’m one of the most impatient people in the world.  I hate waiting, I’m known to call if people are five minutes late.  I cannot handle Myer during Boxing Day sales, and warehouse Sass & Bide $5 jeans sales? Even that won’t entice me.  Pretty much the only thing I’ll wait for is food…(I waited 37 minutes for a table at Yum Cha on Saturday!!).  My love of food, however, has not allowed me to display patience towards baking.  My food tends to taste OK (or so people I cook for tell me), but they’re generally quite ugly.  I’m working on it!

Ever since I had a lemon & Lime tart with blood orange ice-cream at Freestyles Tout (in West End), I’ve been craving it.  Thin crispy short crust pastry, butter, tart lemon and lime custard, creamy blood orange ice-cream…I was thinking about them for weeks.  In the end, I decided to make some myself.  I’m not usually a fan of very sour desserts, so I trawled the internet for recipes until I found one that I thought would work well.  It’s Wolfgang Puck’s recipe, which you can find here http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/wolfgang-puck/caramelized-lemon-lime-tart-recipe2/index.html.  Because I’m impatient, because I’ve yet to master the art of really cooking that well, I cheated and bought frozen short crust pastry and just made the curds to go in them.  I haven’t yet bought a blow torch, so I didn’t do the cramelised top either (which might’ve cut the acid actually), I decided to just serve them with cream.


My tarts were ugly for a number of reasons.  I didn’t have a cookie cutter (I usually make cakes or fat chewy cookies rather than a flat dinosaur like cookie), so I used my mum’s rice measuring cup and traced them with a knife.  I wasn’t very tidy – I’m working on being a perfectionist too.  The pastry was a bit thick – should’ve rolled them thinner (I didn’t have a rolling pin, I used a glass water bottle – learnt this from my grandmother).  My tart filling worked quite well though I thought…I used roughly two lemons and 6 limes.  The response to them were very mixed…so I think it all depends on one’s palete.  Pretty much everyone in my family thought they were way too sour, I’m not a fan of sour usually, but I actually liked them! One of my sisters thought that there weren’t enough lemons in them – she’s had a baby recently, so I think her taste buds are not stable.

My work colleagues were all generally pretty positive (I baked and shared, what would they really say?) but one girl did gag and spit it out (she’s not a fan of egg apparently).  My chocolate themed desserts usually provides for a more consistent response.  With such mixed reviews, I may have to perhaps perfect the misshappeness of my tarts before I try again.  After all, no one likes an ugly tart, do they?