The Kiwi’s Rock Cakes

Growing up in New Zealand, Rock Cakes were a Kiwi classic known to practically every family through their presence in the ubiquitous Edmonds Cook Book—the mainstay of Kiwi home baking for the better part of a century. We used to eat them at half-time while watching rugby on TV, or as a treat for lunch on a cold winter Sunday. This Sunday being the occasion of the Super Bowl, you {not us though—we don’t have a TV} have the opportunity to sort-of combine both. Maybe eat them halfway through the first quarter, before they get cold.

This recipe is adapted from an ancient version of the venerable Edmonds Cook Book owned by my maternal grandmother, and originally used Edmonds “Cake Baking Powder”. This was a substance introduced during wartime rationing to replace eggs. Lauren tells me that egg is used not only as a binding agent but also as a leavening agent, and I believe Cake Baking Powder fulfilled the latter purpose. When it was eventually withdrawn from sale in the late 1980s, it was to howls of protest, widespread stockpiling and supermarket riots as old grannies fought each other in the aisles for the last few cans as over baseball bats in a Zombie Apocalypse. OK, I made that last part up, but the stockpiling was real.

Cake Baking Powder was replaced in this recipe by regular Baking Powder, and everyone agreed that you couldn’t tell the difference.

The Kiwi's Rock Cakes from Kiwi and Peach

Rock Cakes

{makes 8-10 cakes}

110g {4 ounces} butter
¼ cup sugar
1¾ cups flour
110g {4 ounces} dried currants
1 heaping tsp baking powder
½ cup milk

Preheat the oven to 390°F/200°C.

In a large bowl, soften {but do not melt} the butter in the microwave. Cream the butter and sugar together, then sift in the rest of the dry ingredients and add the currants. Add enough milk to make the dough stiff—the measurement is not exact and depends on how soft the butter is.

Cover a cold baking tray with baking paper and spoon around 8–10 dollops of your mixture onto it using a pair of spoons. Don’t worry about making them neat and round—that’s very much not the point here.

The Kiwi's Rock Cakes from Kiwi and Peach

Bake at 390°F/200°C for 15–20 minutes until they just start to turn brown {test with a skewer if you’re not sure}. Turn them out onto a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.

Rock Cakes are best eaten warm, liberally buttered on the flat side. They’re good with jam too. And, if you want, they’re not a bad snack to have around for the next days lunch. Butter a pair and stick them together and you can even take them to work with you without making too big a mess.

The Kiwi's Rock Cakes from Kiwi and Peach

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Dutch Apple Cake

As a part of my Christmas gift, in addition to some amazingly awesome Wüsthof knives and the fact that he built us a freaking bed {more on that later}, the Kiwi has agreed to share the recipe for one of his family’s Christmas traditions—Dutch Apple Cake. Am I one lucky girl or what? 

But back to the apple cake, this stuff is delicious. You’re going to want to go ahead and make it immediately. It’s Christmas… in your mouth.


My Grandparents were from the Netherlands, and this recipe has always been a staple of my Dad’s baking. When I was young I used to help him make it—a favourite challenge was to try to peel a whole apple in a single continuous spiral. And then eat it likewise. Later on I learned to make it myself, and it became a staple for any occasion requiring a cake in the Autumn or early Winter, when apples are fresh and those delicious cinnamon spices taste just perfect. Dad always makes one of these at Christmas too, though of course that falls in the middle of Summer in New Zealand.

Now that I find myself in the northern hemisphere, Christmas coincides with the perfect season for apple cake, so there’s even more reason to make it. In fact, after serving it to Lauren’s family at Christmas lunch yesterday, I’ve been put on notice that this will be My Job every Christmas for the foreseeable future.

By the way, making whipped cream is trivial as long as you have electric beaters—and you don’t need to add a truckload of sugar. If your whipped cream comes out of a can you’re doing it wrong, and that goes double if the can doesn’t actually contain any cream, in the sense of having come out of a cow.

You might think of this as more of a pie than a cake. I just think of it as delicious.

Dutch Apple Cake from Kiwi and Peach

Dutch Apple Cake

The Crust
¾ cup sugar
225g {8 ounces} butter
2⅔ cups self raising flour

The Filling
5 Granny Smith apples
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp self raising flour
1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg

Whipped Cream
300mL {1/2 pint} cream
1 tsp sugar

Cream the butter and the sugar. {Melting the butter in the microwave makes this easy.} Then mix in the flour until it forms a dough. Expect to use your hands. Form the dough into a blob, wrap it in Glad wrap and put it in the fridge to chill while you prepare the filling.

Peel the apples, remove the cores. Over a large mixing bowl, cut them into cubes of about 1cm. Add the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Beat the egg and add half of it to the filling to bind the dry ingredients. Reserve the other half of the egg for glazing at the end.

Start preheating your oven to 180°C/355°F.

Butter a 9 inch expandable cake pan, or something of roughly equivalent size {ideally with a removable bottom}. Take around ⅝ of the dough from the fridge and press it out to cover the bottom of the tin and about an inch up the sides. Pour the filling in and pat it down with a fork until it is roughly level.

It’s at this point that Dad would let me eat whatever filling mixture was left over that wouldn’t fit in the cake. {I’m pretty sure he adds an extra apple to ensure overflow.} Don’t try this at home, kids! Remember, we’re not at home to Mr. Salmonella. {Though the risk is not high, it’s pretty unpleasant if you win the lottery.}

Roll or press out the remaining dough into a layer of about the same thickness as the sides/bottom of the cake. Cut it into strips about 1½ cm wide and lay them on top of the cake in a latticework arrangement. It’s fine to join together shorter strips, and at some point you’ll probably have to recombine the remnants and roll them out again—just beware, once it warms up the dough becomes very difficult to work with. Bonus: you get to eat any leftovers.

Sprinkle the top of the cake lightly with a little more cinnamon, then brush the remaining egg over the top with a pastry brush.

Bake at 180°C {355°F} for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Serve warm {outstanding} or cold {still very good} with freshly-whipped cream.

Dutch Apple Cake from Kiwi and Peach

The Kiwi Guide to Big Fluffy Southern Biscuits

The Kiwi is here again today to wrap up America Week by sharing his tried and true biscuit recipe. A while back he declared that he was on a mission to make the most perfect biscuit possible and has made biscuits pretty much every Sunday since in an effort to get them just right. These are, without a doubt, the best biscuits I’ve ever had.


When I first met Lauren we were both recently departed from the southeastern U.S., and both experiencing withdrawal of the staples of Southern cooking. It went without saying, then, that we would be attempting to make biscuits.

For non–American-speaking readers, I must mention that the term ‘biscuit’ does not refer to a harder version of an American cookie, as it does in English. An American biscuit, for the uninitiated, is most closely comparable to a scone, although it’s lighter and fluffier. The secret is that they’re made with buttermilk.

Buttermilk itself is a term with two meanings. It’s sometimes used to refer to the milk that is left over after you make butter—which is watery, and reportedly not very good. The stuff we want is the milk from which you might choose to make butter—which is to say, milk that has already started to go off. It’s sour, and also not very good. Despite this, Germans of all ages drink it neat, and apparently can’t get enough of it. I once saw an old lady in the supermarket scull a pint of it before bringing the empty pottle to the checkout. You can also make your own by adding lemon juice to otherwise perfectly good milk. Don’t. Anyhow, the acid in the buttermilk reacts with baking soda to form carbon dioxide, which makes your biscuits fluffy.

At least in theory. Our first attempt at making them yielded results that had exactly the size, shape, colour, consistency and, indeed, flavour of hockey pucks. We changed recipes and tried again. The result was better but still not good. In the end I baked about 20 batches, experimenting constantly, before I hit on the formula for perfect fluffy biscuits.

This recipe is borrowed from the Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook, which you should buy immediately unless you are lucky enough to live near a Tupelo Honey Cafe, in which case you should go there immediately, and then buy the book. Not only because the food is delicious but also because it’s that rarest of things among restaurant cookbooks: one we actually cook out of almost every week. You can probably use any recipe you like, however. I am here to tell you how to make your biscuits maximally fluffy on the first attempt, and that’s something you won’t learn from any cookbook.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can substitute in half a cup of wholemeal flour for a slightly healthier version {pictured below}. Most people don’t make wholemeal biscuits because they tend to be less fluffy, but I have had equally good results even with up to 1 cup of the plain flour substituted for wholemeal.

Kiwi+Peach: The Kiwi Guide to Big Fluffy Southern Biscuits

The Kiwi Guide to Big Fluffy Southern Biscuits

{inspired by Tupelo Honey Cafe‘s ginormous biscuits}

150g {about 1¼ sticks} unsalted butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp sour cream
½ cup buttermilk

The first key to fluffy biscuits is cold butter. Extremely cold. Place your butter in a flat glass dish and then put the dish in the freezer for at least a couple of hours before you start {overnight is even better}. Unsalted butter is preferred, because you want your biscuits to have exactly the right amount of saltiness and that’s very difficult to control with salted butter.

Preheat the oven to 225°C/450°F. Working as far away as you can from the oven, use a cheese grater to grate the butter into your cold glass dish. Finally, return the dish of cold, grated butter to the freezer while you prepare the dry ingredients.

Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. Next, begin cutting in the butter. To ensure it remains cold, I usually add it in 3 batches, returning the remainder to the freezer each time. To stop it from sticking together and forming lumps, coat the butter gratings in flour as you pull them apart. The correct tool for cutting in the butter is a pastry cutter—I love mine and would recommend you get one, but a fork should also work. When you’re done, the mixture should look like a coarse flour.

Kiwi+Peach: The Kiwi Guide to Big Fluffy Biscuits

Add the sour cream and mix it through. Next, start adding the buttermilk, a little at a time, stirring in between. Remember, the chemical reaction between the buttermilk and the baking soda starts now, so it’s important to keep the amount of stirring to an absolute minimum—just enough to get all of the dry ingredients stuck to some buttermilk. Keep adding buttermilk until you get there, it can often take a little more than half a cup.

This is the point where most recipes would tell you to roll out the mixture with a rolling pin, cut out the biscuits with a 3 inch biscuit cutter, and place them on a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray. This is a sucker’s game. Fluffiness means height, and therefore the last remaining enemy of fluffiness to be vanquished is lateral spreadage. Biscuit cutters are round, and therefore your biscuits will spread into the gaps between them and cost you some of your fluffiness.

Instead, drop the biscuit dough onto a lined baking sheet and prod it gently with your fingers into the shape of a giant megabiscuit about 3cm {1in} thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the megabiscuit into 6, but don’t bother to separate the segments {they’ll separate fairly easily after baking}. Finally, place whatever obstacles you can to prevent the biscuits from spreading. I place them in the corner of a relatively deep baking tray and butt a loaf tin up against the other long side. Use whatever you have.

Place the baking tray in the oven as far from the heat as possible. In the Land of the Free all ovens heat from the bottom and you like it, so place the biscuits at the top. In most other countries you get a choice. Our oven heats only from the top, so I place the biscuits at the bottom and that has worked fine for me.

Bake for 20 minutes. Melt about a tablespoon of butter in a small bowl in the microwave {10-15 seconds should do it, depending on your microwave’s power}. Remove the biscuits from the oven and brush the butter over the top with a pastry brush. {Since spreading is no longer a risk, you can move the biscuits away from anything touching them at this point, to help stop the edges getting too much crispier.} Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack.

Give them 10 minutes to cool, then eat them warm with butter and honey or jam.

{This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. That means that if you head over to Amazon from the link and choose to buy the book, a tiny bit of the money you spent on the book will come back to me for the referral.} 

Lauren’s Summer Favourite

The Kiwi has lovingly volunteered to help me out and share a few recipes of his own while we are away on holiday. Today’s recipe was the first thing he ever made for me {before he even knew about my love of coconut}, so I find it quite fitting that it’s the first thing he is sharing with y’all as well! So, without further ado, I’ll turn it over to the Kiwi.


I have no idea what the original source for this recipe was—I appropriated it from a couple of friends I was staying with after watching them make it and then made it my own—so there isn’t really a name for it. This was the first thing I ever cooked for Lauren {having not yet located a supply of lamb mince in Munich to make my usual favourite}. Ever since then it’s just been known to us as “Lauren’s favourite”.

Suffice to say, this dish comprises a range of diced vegetables in a coconut sauce, served over pasta. As well as being extremely tasty, it features an agreeable spectrum of colours and feels perfect for a summer’s evening. If you’re feeling carnivorous, or you just have some leftover {cooked} chicken to use up, then you can stir it in at the end, but it’s really not necessary.

Kiwi+Peach: Lauren's Summer Favourite {written by the Kiwi}

Lauren’s Summer Favourite

The Pasta
200g {6 oz} whole wheat spaghetti
1tsp salt

The Sauce
½ a large zucchini
1 small red bell pepper
1 small yellow bell pepper
½ a large eggplant
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp whole wheat flour
½ can {200mL or 6 oz} coconut milk
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
⅛ tsp ground black pepper

Chop all of the vegetables into roughly 1.5cm {½ inch} cubes. Eggplant can sometimes have a bitter taste in the liquid around the seeds, so chop that first, place it in a bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt to draw out the moisture. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients, or even do this step half an hour ahead if you have time.

Preheat a large frying pan on medium-high. You’ll be sautéing the vegetables so that they cook quickly without turning to mush.

Separately, bring a pot of salted water to the boil in preparation for the pasta. Where I come from not even the poorest English Lit grad student could imagine life without an electric kettle and this job takes two minutes. However, in America folks prefer to eschew such cheap and easily-available conveniences in favour of heating the water laboriously on the stove.

The zucchini takes the longest to cook, so add it to the frying pan first along with the oil and start sautéing. After a couple of minutes add the peppers and finally, after a few minutes more, wash the salt off the eggplant cubes and add them to the pan as well. You’ll want to begin cooking the spaghetti as directed at about this point. Continue sautéing until the vegetables are soft, but not yet starting to break down. This process takes about 5-10 minutes in total.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour to soak up any remaining oil. Stir for about a minute, then add the coconut cream. Grind in the pepper and grate in the parmesan cheese. I recommend moving to Europe, where you can bind blocks of genuine Parmigiano Reggiano in every supermarket fridge. That doesn’t make a big difference to the recipe; it’s just something I like to recommend.

Continue cooking and stirring for a few minutes until the sauce is thickened. Serve over the spaghetti with a little grated parmesan and black pepper for garnish.