Gypsy and the Botanist

New website


Hello there.  It’s been a while, but I’ve been a busy bee, working on my new website.  All of the recipes featured on here are included on my new site, as well as many new special treats.  Please take a peek!




Dark chocolate, merlot and plum tart.




I received a whole stack of plums earlier in the week, and had been toying with a few different ideas as to how to use them all. Back in Poland, a common chocolate is dark chocolate filled with dried plums. Here, I’ve connected the plums and chocolate with merlot wine. Deep, rich, velvety, always with notes of beautiful plums. The Sydney weather has been quite gloomy, rainy and stormy, so I’ve added some spices (cinnamon and dried ginger), to give this a little kick.




250g digestive cookies

200g hazelnuts

2.5tsp dried ginger

2.5tsp nutmeg

150g unsalted butter, melted



1kg plums, halved and stones removed

100g brown sugar

0.5tsp dried ginger

0.5tsp cinnamon

400ml merlot wine

50g blueberries


Dark chocolate filling

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

100g caster sugar

330g good quality dark chocolate

150g unsalted butter



Starting with the base, heat the oven to 180C. In a food processor, blitz the biscuits, spices and hazelnuts until finely ground. Transfer this into a large bowl, and add the melted butter, and stir through until well combined. In a greased and lined 23cm tart tin, press this mixture up onto the sides. Chill this tin in the freezer for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the freezer, and bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes (or until the base feels dry), then set aside to cool.

For the plums, place the halved plums into a saucepan, and add the merlot wine, brown sugar, and spices. Simmer for approximately 15 minutes, keeping an eye on it, and stirring every few minutes. Then add the blueberries and simmer for another 10 minutes. You want to cook the plums so they’re soft, but still hold their shape. Set aside to cool.

For the dark chocolate filling, melt together the butter and dark chocolate in a bowl over simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water in the saucepan. Set aside to cool. Then in a mixer, whisk the eggs and egg yolks with the caster sugar on a medium speed for approximately 5-7 minutes, until creamy and fluffy. Once the chocolate has cooled slightly, add this to the egg mixture, and beat for another 5 minutes, until the mixture is glossy and smooth.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the tart tin, and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes. You want the chocolate to have a slight crust, but not dry out completely. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool for approximately 10 minutes, leaving the tart in the tin.

Once the tart has cooled a little, arrange the plum halves on top of the tart, along with some of the blueberries. Once the tart is covered, spoon over some of the merlot juice.

Set aside, leaving the tart in the tin for approximately 2 hours. Then remove the tart from the tin, and leave to cool completely on a wrack. For serving, drizzle a bit more of the left over merlot, and decorate with some salvia flower buds.



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Coconut and pineapple cake, with coconut cream cheese frosting.


After my last successful experimentation with coconut sugar, I decided to continue, and take it to the next level and experiment with coconut flour. I’ve previously baked with pineapple, and loved the result: its natural sweet and sour flavours caramelise beautifully when baked. And we all know coconut and pineapple were made to be used together. To give it a little kick, I’ve added some chili. The result is a super moist and dense cake, but because of the shredded coconut, there’s still a lightness to it. The creaminess of coconut cream cheese frosting further lightens the density of the cake, and just melts right into the texture.



1 fresh pineapple, roughly chopped

2 chilis

250ml coconut cream

200g unsalted butter, room temperature

100g coconut sugar

200g brown sugar

4 eggs

A pinch of salt

200g coconut flour

200g plain flour

100g shredded coconut

4tsp bicarbonate of soda

100g caster sugar

3tbsp plain natural yoghurt

150ml milk


Coconut cream cheese frosting

150g unsalted butter, room temperature

400g cream cheese, room temperature

500g icing sugar

125ml coconut cream


Preheat the oven to 180C.

Lightly blitz the chopped up pineapple and one of the chilies. You want a chunky puree, rather that something completely smooth. In a saucepan, add the pineapple and chili mixture, along with the coconut cream, and the remaining whole chili. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes, taking care to stir regularly so as to not burn the cream. Remove the whole chili, and set aside to cool.

Beat the butter with the coconut and brown sugars, for approximately 4-5 minutes, or until light and creamy. On a lower speed, add the eggs, one at a time, until each is combined, and then the pinch of salt. Sift the coconut and plain flours together. Still on a low speed, add half the flour to the batter along with 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda. Then add the coconut and pineapple mixture until incorporated. Add the caster sugar and the shredded coconut, followed by half of the milk, and beat on a low speed for about 2 minutes. Add half of the remaining flour mixture, followed by the rest of the milk, and then the remaining flour mixture.

Pour the mixture into a greased and lined 28cm round pan, and bake for approximately 50-60 minutes, or until golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Set aside on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes to cool, then remove from the pan, and let the cake cool completely on the wire rack.

For the frosting, beat the butter for about 5 minutes, or until light and creamy. Add the cream cheese, and beat for a few minutes. Then add 250g of the icing sugar, and beat for another 2-3 minutes. Add the coconut cream, and beat until combined. Then gradually add the remaining icing sugar, and beat on a high speed for about 5 minutes.

Once the cake has cooled completely, horizontally cut through the middle of the cake. Spread some of the cream cheese frosting, and then sandwich the two cakes back together. Spread the remaining frosting over the top, and around the sides of the cake. Decorate with some coconut chips. I also sprinkled some coconut sugar and chili flakes.



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Coconut, lemon and white chocolate cookies.


So this recipe was a complete fluke. Halfway through, I had started to accept it was a failure. And was genuinely, hugely surprised when they turned out not just ok, but a massive hit! Being summer, I wanted to continue my focus on zesty, light flavours. But I’ve also been toying with the idea of coconut milk. So I’ve brought them here together, and the result is a beautiful creamy, caramel flavour, with just enough zing to bring some lightness.

Part of the reason I thought this would fail is that the cookie batter is very “wet”. Despite this, they baked beautifully.



250g unsalted butter, room temperature

450g caster sugar

200g coconut sugar

Pinch of salt

600g plain flour

4tsp bicarbonate of soda

200ml good quality coconut milk

3 lemons, juice and zest

3 eggs

200g shredded coconut

Sea salt

Macadamia nuts, crushed



Preheat the oven to 180C.

In a small saucepan, simmer the coconut milk with then lemon juice and zest, for about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and pinch of salt.

Cream the butter, coconut sugar, and 250g of the caster sugar for approximately 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, beating on a low speed, until incorporated. Still on a low speed, mix through half of the flour mixture until incorporated. Then add the coconut and lemon, and then the remaining flour and caster sugar. Once this is incorporated, stir through the chopped up chocolate.

On a greased and lined baking tray, break off pieces of the dough, and form them into balls about the size of golf balls. Place these balls on the baking tray, about 5cm apart. Sprinkle each ball with sea salt and the crushed macadamias. Bake in batches for approximately 10 minutes. Then press each cookie flat with a fork, and bake for another 3-5 minutes, until golden.

Remove from the oven. Allow the cookies to cool on the trays for 10-15 minutes, and then transfer to a wire wrack to cool completely.



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Peach, rosewater and rosé wine frangipane tart.

IMG_0056 web

The beautiful pink blush hue of rosé wine has always caught my eye. While I’ve baked a lot with beer, the colour of rosé had me determined to bring it to a baked sweet. The rosé I had in mind was the first one I drank this summer – the Krinklewood 2014 Francesca Rose ( A local biodynamic winery, located in Broke, NSW. This rosé is light, with notes of light rose petals. And of course, in honour of summer, the other star of this tart is peach. Delicious, soft and sweet, with a deeper blush hue.

I poached the peaches in the rosé and some rosewater, and the result was a beautiful, delicate taste of summer. And the colour (in the bottom right corner above). The leftover syrup, well, I think it’s going to make an amazing base for my vodka soda, or even as a cheeky drizzle over some vanilla ice cream.



Shortcrust pastry

250g plain flour

100g icing sugar

150g unsalted butter, cold

1 egg

3 egg yolks

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

1 tsp dried ginger powder

A pinch of salt

1/2 cup of milk



230g unsalted butter, room temperature

250g caster sugar

3 eggs

250g blanched almond meal

100g plain flour

1 lemon, zest

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

2 tbsp rosewater


Poached peaches

150g caster sugar

350ml good quality rosé wine (I used Krinklewood’s 2014 Francesca Rose)

8 tbsp rosewater

1/2 lemon, juice

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

10 peaches


IMG_0036 web



For the shortcrust pastry, place the mixing bowl and correct dough attachment in the freezer for 30 minutes. Then add the butter, and sift the flour, icing sugar, salt, vanilla beans and ginger powder into the bowl, and return to the freezer for another 10 minutes.

In a mixer, pulse the mixture until it starts to form a breadcrumb like texture. Add the egg and 2 egg yolks separately until each is combined. Continue to mix until the mixture starts to form a dough.

Refrigerate the mixture for at least 2 hours, but ideally, overnight.

To poach the peaches, add the rosé wine, sugar, vanilla bean seeds, and lemon zest into a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Simmer, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Cut 5 of the peaches into small wedges, and add them to the rosé. Simmer the peaches for approximately 5-7 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you want them to take on the flavours, but also hold their shape. Set aside to cool, and keep the poaching rosé mixture.

To make the frangipane, beat the butter and sugar for approximately 5 minutes, until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until each is incorporated. Then beat in the ground almonds, flour, vanilla beans and lemon zest.

Roll out the pastry so it’s approximately 3cm in thickness. Cut it and place it into a 23cm greased tart tin, leaving some extra pastry to cover the sides. Blind bake the pastry for approximately 20 minutes. To seal the pastry, beat the remaining egg yolk and milk, and lightly brush the pastry, and return to the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Remove about 10 pieces of the poached peach wedges, and mash them with a fork. Spread these on the base of the tart, and then fill the tart with the frangipane. Place the remaining poached peaches around the top of the frangipane. Bake for approximately 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Remove from the oven, and allow it to cool on a wire rack for approximately 15-20 minutes. Then remove from the tart tin, and allow to cool completely.

In the mean time, cut the remaining 5 peaches into small wedges. Bring the rosé to the boil, and reduce to a simmer, and then add the peaches. Simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Like before, you want them to soften, but keep an eye so they retain their shape. Set aside to cool.

Once the tart is cool, brush the top with some of the rosé liquid, and then arrange the remaining peach wedges around the tart. Sprinkle with some dried rose petals.



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Zucchini, cheese, rosemary and polenta olive oil cake.


It’s summer, so zucchini is in abundance. Zucchini works a dream in cakes. It carries other flavours beautifully, and it’s texture makes sure a cake is moist. But. It ain’t all about sweets. I had been thinking about how to best use zucchinis. While I love the sweet cakes I use it for, I couldn’t get the idea of zucchini and cheese out of my head. Cheese is one of my favourite ever foods, maybe I need to increase my intake? Anyway, I decided to make a savoury “cake”.  The polenta, combined with the zucchini, gives an amazing texture with the gooey cheese and the rich olive oil. And for an added surprise, I’ve added some chillies from my mama’s garden, and some sundried tomatoes.



3 zucchinis

150g cheddar cheese

100g provolone cheese

3 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced

2 long stems of rosemary

2 chillies

A handful of sundried tomatoes

1 tsp nutmeg

3 eggs

2 tbsp salt

100g unsalted butter, room temperature

50ml good quality olive oil

2tsp bicarbonate of soda

150g plain flour

100g polenta



Roughly grate the zucchinis, and cheeses. Then roughly chop the rosemary, chili, and sundried tomatoes.

In a mixer, beat the butter until soft and creamy. One a lower speed, add the eggs, one by one, until combined, followed by the olive oil and salt. Continuing on a low speed until combined, slowly add the zucchinis, cheese, garlic, rosemary, chilli, sundried tomatoes, and nutmeg. Add the bicarbonate of soda, followed by the sifted flour, and then the polenta. Beat on a low speed until combined.

Pour the mixture into a greased and lined tin. Decorate with some thinly slice tomatoes, and some sprigs of rosemary dipped in olive oil and sprinkled with salt.

Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan for 10-20 minutes, and then transfer onto a cooling rack to cool completely.





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Wine time.


If you’ve had a look at my instagram (, wine (and beer) is a big part of my little food project. I think the two are inseparable, and obviously, wine also tastes delicious. And as many of you may have seen, I often like to bring the two together – beers and wines and spirits in my cakes, in my roasts.

A big thing for me is keeping things local. My mum who was a chef always taught me to cook with what was growing in the garden at the time. We’d often buy our fruit and veg from those little stalls down a highway. That imperfect, spotty fruit. Which was packed full of beautiful intense flavours.

But I digress. Yesterday, while taking in the delights of what is quite possibly my new favourite wine shop (Annandale Cellars), I learned that one of the shop owners makes his own small batch wines, Clo Wines. So naturally, I had to try it. And what a treat it was. It’s summer here in Sydney, but the days have been cooler, and gloomy. He recommended his 2013 Pinot Grigio. Dry, deep, woody, and notes of summer’s stone fruits. And complete with a stunning blush hue. I can’t wait to try others in the range. If you are in Sydney, get your hands on Clo.

And watch this space for some more baking. I have some ideas bubbling away for other ways to use beers and wines in food.

Keep it local, peeps. Support the little guy, or you’ll be missing out on some amazing secret treats  – you never know what you might discover.



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Things I found.



One of the thing you should know about me is that I’m completely obsessed with flowers and plants. I nerd out over them. Big time. My home is like a jungle, with plants large and small, and flowers too, everywhere. No corner has been left untouched. On my balcony, I have an old dining table for entertaining. But all it now entertains is my balcony garden – it is home to all my outdoor plants. Any dining that would take place there, guests would be competing with terracotta pots of herbs and edible flowers for plate space. Oooops.

The other thing I’m know for is…. um… “trimming”… people’s gardens. Living in an apartment, what will grow is limited. I don’t get to grow beautiful majestic trees and blooms. So when I go on walks, it is not unusual for me to take a pair of scissors… and do a little bit of pruning along my way. I should preface that I never enter gardens. These are things hanging along the footpath…. Over the weekend, I went on one of my walks, and 1.5 hours later, these are the beauties that I collected. Wild orchids. Flowering gums (that intensely hot pink hue, I find it irresistible). Giant gumnuts. And the biggest magnolia grandifloras.



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Stout, dark chocolate and berry cake, with a stout and berry glaze.



A good stout has a rich, deep chocolate undertone. I’ve often cooked with stout for that reason. It gives food a beautiful depth. So here it is today, in one of my (many) different takes of stout and chocolate. I always love adding some berries, they give a tartness to the creamy and rich bitterness of the stout and dark chocolate. Here I’ve used a stout from one of my favourite breweries, in the suburb across from me: Batch Brewing Co. You can use guinness, but for something a little bit special, go with a craft stout or porter.



400g mixed berries

400g good quality 70% dark chocolate

200g unsalted butter, softened

200g caster sugar

A pinch of salt

4 eggs

300g plain flour

3tsp bicarbonate of soda

3 tbsp natural yoghurt

3 tbsp good quality cocoa

300ml stout


Stout and berry glaze

100ml stout

100g mixed berries

3tbsp brown sugar


Preheat the oven to 180C.

Simmer the berries over a low heat in a pan. Add a small splash of water if needed, so it doesn’t burn. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the berries start to cook, but keep an eye on them, as you don’t want them to lose their shape. Set aside to cool.

In a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate, and set aside to cool.

Beat the butter and sugar, until light and creamy, for approximately 5-6 minutes. On a low speed, add one egg at a time, until each is just incorporated. Add the pinch of salt and cocoa, beating until incorporated. Follow this with half of the flour mixture, and the bicarbonate of soda. Add the berries, and the melted dark chocolate. Then slowly pour in half of the stout. Add the rest of the flour, followed by the rest of the stout.

Pour the mixture into a greased and lined loaf pan, and bake for approximately 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and leave the cake in the pan for about 10-20 minutes until it has cooled a little. Move the cake out of the tin onto a wire wrack to cool completely.

For the glaze, simmer the berries for about 10 minutes. With a fork or the back of a spoon, press down on the berries so they mash up a little and make a juice. If you don’t want chunks, sieve out the berries. Add the stout and brown sugar, and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Once the cake has cooled, drizzle the glaze generously over. I decorated the cake with some flaked almonds, cocoa nibs, and some leftover berries.




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Poached peach, vanilla bean and coconut cake.


Peaches are in their prime right now, so I couldn’t resist making their beautiful coral coloured flesh the star of this cake. To make sure the peaches didn’t take the moisture out of the cake, I poached them first with vanilla beans and some cloves for extra depth. In honour of summer, I made this a coconut cake to keep things light and creamy. I used shredded coconut for the texture, but if you prefer, desiccated coconut will work too.



200g unsalted butter, softened

200g white caster sugar

200g plain flour

4 eggs

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

2tsp bicarbonate of soda

A pinch of salt

100g shredded coconut

2tbsp natural yoghurt

150ml buttermilk


Poached peaches

5 peaches, sliced into 8 wedges each

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

7 cloves

50g brown sugar

100ml water




Preheat the oven to 180C.

To poach the peaches, place the sliced wedges into a saucepan, along with the scraped seeds of the vanilla bean, the cloves, brown sugar and water. Bring to the boil, then with a lid over the pan, let them simmer for approximately 10-15 minutes. You want them soft, but still keeping their shape. Set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar, for approximately 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. On a low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, until each is incorporated. Then add the half of the flour, the salt and bicarbonate of soda, and beat until incorporated. Add the yoghurt, the scraped seeds of the vanilla bean, and half of the buttermilk, beating until incorporated. Add the shredded coconut. Then add the remaining flour and buttermilk.

In a lined and greased 18cm round pan, pour a bit of the cake mixture in so that the bottom of the pan is covered. Then arrange some of the poached peaches, and then pour over with the remaining cake mixture. On top, arrange the remaining peaches. Keep the remaining peach syrup. Bake for approximately 40-50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool in the tin for 20-30 minutes, then move onto a wire wrack, and allow to cool completely.

Once the cake has cooled, drizzle the remaining peach syrup over the cake.




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