a plate of cinnamon oysters
Food, Recipes

Cinnamon Oysters


These are the most delicious, light as air little cakes that ever flew off a plate and into your mouth. Delicately spiced with cinnamon and ginger and filled with softly whipped cream, they retain that slight golden syrupy chew when they’re fresh from the oven, before melting into marvellous nothingness.

This recipe is from Lois Daish, published in her 1989 book Good Food, so it’s completely reliable.

They’re speedy to make so you could have them on the table within 30 minutes if you had to produce a last-minute dainty. If you’re organised and have cast-iron willpower you can make them the day before you need them. Fill straight away and pop in the fridge overnight. Or you can fill them and store them in the freezer ready to pull out for a future treat.

Cinnamon oysters

2 eggs
1 tablespoon golden syrup
100g castor sugar
70g flour
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch baking soda
cream, icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Lightly butter and flour 16 round bottomed patty pans (the flour helps, trust me).

Whisk the eggs, golden syrup and castor sugar together until the mixture is very high and light. Sift the dry ingredients together and fold in carefully.

Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for 6-8 minutes (original recipe calls for 8-10 minutes but 7 is usually about right if you’re using a fan bake).

Remove from tins while still warm. When they are cold split the oysters halfway through using a serrated knife. Fill with lightly whipped cream and sprinkle with sifted icing sugar.


I love how they really do look like oysters.

When you serve these, at least one person will sigh with delight and say something along the lines of, “Oh, my nana used to make these. I haven’t eaten them for years.” And then you will point them to this post for the recipe, and they will make them for someone else to sigh over. Hooray!


Make a difference

Aardvark, Brit makers of swelegant letterpress prints, have a new craft manifesto out. And today only, it’s half price with the discount code CRAFTY50 (‘today’ being variable wherever you are in the world, that’s until midnight GMT Thursday 4 October).

Ain’t it grand?



Vintage love

So, I’ve had this guest post up on the Holland Road Yarn Company blog for a couple of weeks now, where I riff about the oh so covetable Vintage wool from Skeinz. And I’m finally getting around to linking to it here (just click on the photo to read it).


Vintage love


Sat sit ‘n’ knit mitts

100 per cent cosy: Sat sit 'n' knit mitts - click on the pic to go to the project page on Ravelry

100 per cent cosy: Sat sit ‘n’ knit mitts – click on the pic to go to the project page on Ravelry

These mitts are made for fondling. Seventy per cent merino and 30 per cent cashmere equals 100 per cent cosy hands. Yay!

I love how they look. They’re quite elegant. And the double moss stitch gives them a lovely nubbly texture. Plus, there’s something about their shortness that’s very wearable.

The pattern is Emerald Green Handwarmers on the CreativeYarn blog. It’s free, it’s really cute, and easier’n an easy thing, making it a great project for beginner knitters. Great for gifts, too. They’re quick to make – you could easily pump out a pair in a lazy day with a box set. And they’re super economical on yarn. I only used 25g, that’s a grand total of 64m.

Besides… who wouldn’t want a pair of these? Someone wore a pair to a Saturday sit ‘n’ knit a few weeks back. Before the session was out most of us were hunting out the perfect yarn to make some ourselves.

I chose Zealana Willow, a slightly fuzzy, super strokable double knit. The colour is Pinot Noir, and you can buy it online or in person from the Holland Road Yarn Company. Step to it!

Food, Recipes

Lead me into temptation

Banoffee Pie - sex on a plate

Banoffee Pie – sex on a plate

Auckland baker Jordan Rondel’s first book, The Caker, is an abandoned romp that will tempt you to indulge in the sins of the flesh.

It is, of course, a book about cakes. But oh my! What cakes.

There’s nothing prissy here. No slick and sickly icing, fake flavouring and disappointing conveyer belt perfection. Instead there are seductively simple ingredients and alluringly clever combinations. Honestly. There’s a whole chapter given over to syrups and fillings and toppings that will make you go, Ooh! Including a method for a Black Doris Plum Icing that is nothing short of revelatory.

Teetering layers, tumbled with fresh flowers, these cakes promise nothing but pleasure.

Fruit features heavily. Caramel and Apple Upside Down Cake, Double-Layer Raspberry White Chocolate Cake with Rosewater Creme Icing, Dark Chocolate, Pear and Pistachio Cake with Ganache… Why, I don’t mind if I do.

The photographs, by Babiche Martens, are fashion mag stunning. A gorgeous young woman with bedhead hair bites her lip, a raven-haired beauty runs her fingers along a seemingly bloody blade (on closer inspection, it’s the reflection from a bunch of crimson roses).

As for the food styling… these cakes are positively wanton. They ooze cream, bleed raspberries, drip caramel and chocolate… Frankly, they’re begging to be devoured.

The book itself is a slim paperback volume. Unlike cookery collections destined for the coffee table, it’s light enough to take to bed. Perhaps that’s the point?

Within the covers you’ll find lust, desire, naked greed. And a whole lot of gratification. Talk about sex on a plate.

Let yourself be lured. And, if my words can’t convince you to go out and buy the book, well, let the pie do the talking.

The Caker’s Banoffee Pie

For the caramel
100g butter
100g caster sugar
400ml condensed milk (1 tin)

For the banoffee pie
150g gingernut biscuits, blitzed in a food processor
230g pecans or walnuts, halved
75g butter, melted
3 large, not overly ripe bananas, chopped
250ml cream, softly whipped
cinnamon for dusting

To make the caramel, place the butter and sugar in a non-stick frying pan over a low heat, stirring until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.

Add the condensed milk and slowly bring to the boil, stirring continuously, to make the caramel. As soon as the mixture thickens and begins to smell of caramel, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, place the crushed biscuits and half of the pecan or walnut halves into a bowl. Add the melted butter and stir well. Transfer the mixture to a 22cm diameter tart dish. Press the biscuit base evenly over the base of the tin, packing it down.

Add the chopped bananas to the caramel mixture and combine well. Spread the mixture over the biscuit base andchill for 30 minutes.

Remove from the fridge and spread the whipped cream evenly over the top of the banoffee layer. Place the remaining pecans or walnuts in a circular arrangement on top, and dust with cinnamon.

To store, cover well with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to a week.

The Caker


Sitting and knitting

Saturdays have a well-worn groove: listening to Radio New Zealand, shopping for vegetables at the Hutt Riverside Market, and knitting at the Holland Road Yarn Company.

They anchor me. Without them, it doesn’t feel like the weekend.

Saturday Sit ‘n’ Knit is the newest addition to the mix, but it’s already vital to my equilibrium – soothing away the tail end of a working week’s grumpiness and relaxing me into the right frame of mind to make the most of my home time.

Tash Barneveld has created a wonderful, vibrant space in her indie yarn store, bursting with colour and glorious yarn. It draws in knitters like… well, maybe I won’t use that simile, seeing as moths and wool don’t mix… but you know what I mean, eh?

As well as all the yarny goodness, there are comfy chairs to curl up in, solid tunes, knitterly journals and crafty accoutrements, and – often – cake and cups of tea. It’s not just for knitters, either. There’s no discrimination here. Tash encourages wool lovers of all kinds to come and hang out.

As for me, it’s my third place – not home, not work, but somewhere in-between. Warm, welcoming, just a short stroll from my flat, HRYC is at the heart of this amazing rich community I’m so glad to be a part of.

I’ve made lovely friends, regulars who come and knit in the shop most weeks, and others who just pop in when they can. It’s a pleasure to catch up, chat, see what they’re making, hear about their kids/partners/jobs… whatever.

Every now and again a brand new person sits down and joins us. That’s always a treat, like sharing a delightful secret.

We talk food and cycling and work and families and flatmates and films and patterns… and feed our yarn addictions. It’s fabulous.

So thanks Tash, and all the lovely Holland Road knitters. You guys rock my world, for real. xxx

How about you? Do you do anything special to shrug off work and get you in the mood for the weekend? Share your Saturday rituals in the comments.

Don McGlashan also rocks my world.

Find out more about visiting Holland Road Yarn Company, on Saturdays and other days


In the garden

Watching birds is captivating. These are some of the little dudes I’ve snapped in our back garden recently. Oh. And butterflies. Just because.

We have a regular gentleman caller in the form of a very handsome tui, and there are lots of fantails about at the moment, too, though I don’t have those on film.

How about you? What are some of the feathered visitors to your garden?

picture of song thrush.

Song thrush: isn’t he a dandy?

photo of a waxeye

Waxeye: so cute – almost disappears in our unmown lawn

photo of a blackbird

A lady blackbird (so, not really black at all, then…)

photo of goldfinch

Goldfinch: don’t you love that flash of yellow? And the red mask. Just like a superhero.

close-up photo of butterflies eating nectar

Monarch butterflies feasting on Fatsia japonica. The bees love it, too.