Turning a house into a home

ESSENTIAL Volume Two: Sweet  Treats for Every Occasion,  by Annabel Langbein. Published by...
ESSENTIAL Volume Two: Sweet Treats for Every Occasion, by Annabel Langbein. Published by Annabel Langbein Media, $65

Baking helps create a sense of home and makes people feel special, Annabel Langbein says.

"It's a great way to turn a house into a home.''

That is why she could not resist dedicating an entire book - nearly 500 recipes - to the topic in ESSENTIAL Volume Two: Sweet Treats for Every Occasion.

"It's the second part, my opus,'' she says from her Auckland kitchen where she has some quince paste on the boil.

Last year when she released ESSENTIAL, she quickly realised she was not going fit all her savoury and sweet recipes in one book and still be able to lift it.

She wanted the books to be a tool kit for learning and mastering methods and help people to become more confident and resourceful cooks.

Volume 2 incorporates recipes that have become favourites over the years, ones from her mother's kitchen, ones she used while her children were growing up and ones which bring back good memories.

She also kept in mind today's eating habits incorporating recipes that are gluten- or dairy-free, vegan and have less sugar.

The older recipes have been given a makeover to see how much less refined sugar could be used without sacrificing tenderness.

"It's a fine line. Baking is about chemistry and if you take out the sugar the chemistry changes. Sugar gives cakes their tenderness and lightness.''

That did not mean she has not included some completely indulgent recipes as well.

"Sometimes you just have to pull out all the stops. When it calls for wicked and indulgent, I've made it that way.''

Langbein also hopes her books will help encourage parents to get their children into the kitchen.

"My own passion for cooking started at my mother's side. She was a great cook and as a kid I hung out for that taste of the beater.''

Baking is an opportunity to give anyone a confidence boost, as a successful dish gives a person a sense of achievement and pride.

Throughout the book, there are tips on how to make the cakes, biscuits, slices and drinks more successful, such as pouring warm water over cold eggs to warm them up quickly, how important measuring is when baking but a measuring cup is not needed as long as the same jug or cup is used throughout.

It is also not a good idea to swap ingredients, although if its a chocolate cake or biscuit you crave swapping 2 Tbsp flour for 2 Tbsp of cocoa powder can be done.

"If it does collapse don't beat yourself up just add more icing.''

She hopes people will get back to that community contact of the past when people stopped by next door with a baked gift to welcome new neighbours.

By adjusting thickness and cook time you can make these crunchy or chewy - just how you like them.

Photo: supplied
Photo: supplied

Feijoa friands

With a fancy French name like ‘‘friands’’, you might imagine these would fall into the ‘‘too hard’’ basket, but they are possibly the simplest thing you’ll ever bake - no mixer needed, just a bowl and a spoon.

I like to grind my own hazelnuts with the skins on, as they have loads more flavour - just blitz them to a fine, sandy texture in a food processor - but you can use storebought ground hazelnuts or almonds if you prefer.

If it’s not feijoa season, use pear or peach slices instead.

Makes 8 

Ready in 40 minutes

1 ½ cups icing sugar, plus extra to dust
1 cup ground hazelnuts
½ cup flour or rice flour
5 egg whites
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
180g butter, melted and cooled
3 feijoas, thickly sliced, plus extra to serve

To serve
1 cup creme fraiche (optional)


Heat oven to 160degC fanbake and grease 8 muffin or friand pans.

Sift icing sugar into a mixing bowl, add ground hazelnuts and flour or rice flour and stir to combine.

Make a well in the centre, add egg whites, lemon zest and butter and stir briefly to just combine.

Divide mixture between prepared tins and top each with feijoa slices.

Bake until golden brown and set (25-30 minutes).

Allow to stand in tins for 5 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool.

Dust with extra icing sugar and serve with creme fraiche and extra feijoa slices, if desired.


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