Write a review for your chance to win

Thank you to all the wonderful readers who have bought The Cake Maker’s Wish so far. Your support means we need to print more copies! YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!

If you’ve read the book already, remember that just by writing a review for Goodreads or Amazon (and posting it to Facebook or Insta and tagging me so I can find it), you’ll go into the draw to win an indulgence pack including Ruby Olive jewellery, Fresh Chai Co chocolate chai, a block of chocolate and a signed backlist book. Winner drawn 2 July!

Thank you so much for your support 🙂

(Australian postal addresses only.)

Cake and Cover Competition

This week, The Cake Maker’s Wish finally made it out into the world after I began working on it five years ago! I had a wonderful time launching it online last Sunday afternoon. If you’d like to see the video, you’ll find it on Facebook here.

Now… for your chance to win a gorgeous prize pack!

Once you have your copy of The Cake Maker’s Wish, simply take a photo of it with some cake (any cake!) and post it to Facebook or Instagram, tagging me so I know it’s there, and using the hashtag #cakeandcover

Here’s an example:

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The winner will be chosen from a shortlist and win this wonderful prize pack, including a brooch and matching earring set from Ruby Olive, a copy of The Beekeeper’s Secret (for you to enjoy or pass on to a friend), my favourite brand of chai (and this one is chocolate chai!), and Lindt chocolate.

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The winner will be chosen on 2 July. I can’t wait to see your entries 🙂

Happy reading and caking!

Jo x

Three Course Dessert Degustation, drinks, music and more

Mini meringues, espresso martinis, Persian love cake, green tea, flourless chocolate cake, raspberry martinis and more…

It was my absolute pleasure to speak to Christine Anu on ABC radio last night on the ‘Evenings’ program and to create a virtual three-course dessert degustation for listeners to enjoy. I took the recipes from my book, The Cake Maker’s Wish, and matched them with accompanying drinks and (as spontaneously requested on air!) music as well. I had a wonderful time talking about one of my favourite topics: food.

You can catch the degustation discussion here and the segment starts at 2:10.

Music matches came from Pink Martini, The Cat Empire and Katie Noonan.

Thank you so much, Christine and ABC radio for supporting Aussie authors!

If you’re looking for my recipe for the Persian Love Cake, you will find it at the back of The Cake Maker’s Wish.

Jo x

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Mini Meringue Bites

These meringue bites are so simple (and inexpensive), they’ll become your go-to treat for any last-minute guests dropping in for coffee, or maybe use them as additional birthday party treats.

This is another recipe from The Cake Maker’s Wish. My cake maker, Olivia, gets to have fun creating a wedding cake for a celebrity couple and adds meringues as embellishments to her design, which is another great use for these mini meringues.

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The basic meringue recipe is simple but it’s also flexible as you can change the colour (pink, blue, white, caramel or rainbow unicorn!) or flavour (think vanilla, chocolate, coffee, rose or orange blossom) to suit your taste or needs. Glam them up or keep them simple. They can go as far as your imagination desires.

This one can also be gluten free. (In theory, cream of tartar is gluten free but if you have any concerns about it being processed in the same facility as grains then check with the manufacturer.)

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites, room temperature… free range, please… I love my chooks 🙂
  • 1 cup of castor sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • Add colours or flavours of your choice (e.g. vanilla, rosewater, orange blossom water, coffee, chocolate powder, strawberry powder, jam etc.). Add these to the desired taste or effect but most flavourings only require about half a teaspoon.

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 120C.
  2. Beat your egg whites and cream of tartar until they are beginning to hold shape.
  3. Add in your sugar a little at a time, mixing well between additions until the sugar is completely mixed through and the meringue is white, fluffy and holds stiff peaks.
  4. Add your vanilla and/or flavourings or colourings of choice and beat through.
  5. Pipe your mini meringues onto baking trays lined with paper. Bite-sized pieces could be the size of a twenty-cent coin.
  6. Place the trays in the oven and reduce the heat to 90C and bake for around an hour and a half. You want them to cook slowly so that they harden into bites.

Tip

Have fun with these! You could try splitting the meringue into two halves and colouring them differently, then putting both colours into a bag and piping them in a swirl to show both colours.

These Strawberry Lemonade Cakes Taste Like Sunshine and Holidays

Gluten free options

I’m not even going to try and pretend that I’m not crazy in love with these cupcakes! I had my character, Olivia Kent, bake these in The Cake Maker’s Wish because I found recipes online and thought they would be amazing. But… when I went to make them, I found them seriously lacking in flavour. It was so disappointing. I love the intensity of lemon meringue pie and lemon curd so I wasn’t going to have a bar of that! I changed the recipes to jack up the flavours, big time. Now, they burst with lemon and the seductive aroma and flavour of strawberries. Every mouthful inspires hope and happiness, perfect as a winter warmer to chase away the blues.

 

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I’m not going to lie, though: these are not quick to make. But, oh, they are worth it, especially for a special occasion.

Ingredients

Cake Part 1

  • 125g butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • zest of three lemons
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cake Part 2

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose plain flour (or gluten free plain flour)
  • 3 Tb arrowroot or cornflour (check that it’s gluten free cornflour if you want them GF)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (check specs for GF)
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Strawberry Buttercream

  • 250g butter
  • 500g pure icing sugar (check specs for GF)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen or fresh strawberries (hulled)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

(Note: These quantities will make more than enough buttercream for your cupcakes. You can reduce these quantities if you wish, keeping the ration of 2:1 for icing sugar to butter, or freeze the excess and use later for biscuits or a loaf cake of some sort. I always figure that if I’m making something I might as well make a lot of it to freeze some for later.)

Method

Cake preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (160C fan forced) and line your cupcake trays with paper. (This batch will make approximately 16 cupcakes.)
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat your butter and lemon zest, then add in the sugar and beat again until well mixed and fluffy. Add the egg whites and vanilla and beat to combine.
  3. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients of ‘Cake Part 2’ together, then add half of it to the butter mixture, mix to combine, then add half the sour cream, mix to combine, then repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and sour cream. Finally, add the lemon juice and beat again to form a batter.
  4. Fill your cupcake papers to 2/3 full and put them into the oven. The cakes will take 20-25 minutes, give or take. (I have a slow oven and mine took 30 mins.)

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Strawberry preparation

  1. Place your strawberries into a blender and blitz until consistent.
  2. Transfer the strawberries into a small pot and heat on the stove until they are gently boiling, stirring often. Continue to cook them until they have reduced down to approximate the colour and consistency of tomato sauce.
  3. Cool the sauce before adding it to the buttercream, otherwise it will melt the butter. (Putting it in the fridge is helpful.)

 

Buttercream preparation

  1. Make sure your icing sugar is as free of lumps as possible. You may need to dry beat it first. (Bashing it on the kitchen bench also helps!)
  2. Beat your butter, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Add approximately three tablespoons of the strawberry sauce and beat until combined.
  3. You may like to use a piping bag to pipe the cream or simply spoon it on! If you wish, you might like to decorate your cupcakes with extra strawberries or edible flowers for an added touch of beauty.

 

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Enjoy! These really are divine 🙂

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Order your copy of The Cake Maker’s Wish HERE.

 

 

 

Easy Gingerbread Love Hearts

These gingerbread love hearts are inspired by my character, Olivia Kent, from my book The Cake Maker’s Wish, who makes a peach-coloured version, though with much more fancy, professional decoration than these have! Still, I like to keep things in the realm of achievable. I had never made royal icing before making these pretty biscuits and while they might be beginner level, I still think they’re a gorgeous gift for yourself or someone you love. (I certainly didn’t hear any complaints when I gifted them on!)

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Gingerbread love hearts, gluten free

 

I’ve made these ones gluten free (as we are a fully gluten free household) but if you want to make them with regular flour, you can simply swap it for the same amount and they will turn out better, I’m certain. Anyone who has worked with gluten free food will know how variable the outcomes are and just how tricky it can be to work with, especially if you have to roll dough! Given that, I’m pretty darn pleased with these.

Most recipes I looked at included 1 tablespoon of ground ginger in the recipe. I did that to start with but could barely taste it! For me, what on earth is the point in something being ‘ginger’ bread if you can’t taste the ginger. I’ve doubled the amount and think it hits the sweet spot, but if you are a super keen ginger lover, feel free to experiment with even more, if you like.

Here we go…

Ingredients

  • 125g butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 cup golden syrup
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 2.5 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 Tbs ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground all spice
  • 150g pure icing sugar (make sure it’s gluten free if you want them to be GF)
  • Food colouring of choice, optional (I used Unicorn Superfoods natural pink pitaya powder)

 

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C (160C fan forced) and line two baking trays with paper. Ensure you have a little extra flour ready to dust your workspace to roll out the dough.
  2. With your beaters, beat the butter and brown sugar together until creamy, add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat again until mixed.
  3. Sift in your flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda. (Hot tip: if you don’t have a sifter (or don’t like using one–because they can be quite hard on fingers, wrists and elbows–you can simply shake your ingredients through a wire mesh strainer and it will work just as well.) Mix or low speed until combined into a bit of a ball of dough.
  4.  Place you dough onto your floured workspace and knead lightly until it forms a nice, lightly floured dough. You can wrap it in plastic and let it rest in the fridge for half an hour if you like, but I didn’t (because I didn’t read the instructions properly!) and it worked just fine.
  5. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is about 4-7mm thick. If you are using gluten free flour, I recommend the thicker width as gluten free dough tends to fall apart and break easily.
  6. Cut the dough into hearts with a cookie cutter, or any other shape you like, and place onto your papered baking trays, giving a little room between each biscuit for them to expand during cooking.
  7. To make your icing, beat your egg white until you they hold white peaks. Sift your icing sugar into the bowl and beat on low speed until combined. Add your colour of choice (or separate into multiple bowls if you want additional colours), then feed into a piping bag with your nozzle of choice.
  8. Enjoy!

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9780143792017If you would like to pre-order The Cake Maker’s Wish, click here.

 

Josephine Moon’s Rustic Apple Crumble Recipe (with Gluten Free Option)

I don’t know about you but I’m a total sucker for anything with baked apples in it. This recipe is a winner because it can be made gluten free and with a few tweaks it can even slide into the realm of being healthy. (Yep, I’ve eaten it for breakfast.)

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What I love about this recipe is that it is so flexible. In fact because I wanted to share this recipe so much, I had to force myself to write it down as I went because I usually make it up on the spot.

One of the opening scenes in The Cake Maker’s Wish involves an illicit apple crumble (you’ll have to read it to find out why that one is illicit!) and was inspired by my own trip to the Cotswolds in 2015.

This is a generous dish because you really do have the flexibility to make it all your own and I’ll leave you some notes on some suggested variations. Ready to get baking? Here we go.

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Josephine Moon’s Rustic Apple Crumble (gluten free optional)

Ingredients

  • 6-8 apples (a mixture of varieties is perfectly fine, and leaving the skin on adds nutritional value and the ‘rustic’ vibe… also, it saves time!)
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 100g butter
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (make sure they’re certified gluten free if you want it to be GF)
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup plain flour (or GF all purpose flour blend)
  • 1/4 cup sultanas (or cranberries, or other dried fruit)
  • 1/4 cup nuts, chopped roughly (walnuts are traditional but equally I have used pecans or almonds)
  • sprinkle of cinnamon (or nutmeg, or both) to taste
  • drizzle of maple syrup (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C (170C fan forced). Locate your cooking pot. I use a 25cm round cast iron pot with lid.
  2. Cut your apples into quarters to remove the core, then slice into approximately even slices (maybe 1-2mm wide). Layer them roughly into your pot, sprinkle with cinnamon, and add the tablespoon of water, which will give them a bit of steam to begin with.
  3. Combine your butter, sugar, oats, almond meal and flour into a bowl and work with your fingers to create sticky crumbles.
  4. Spread your sultanas and nuts over the top.
  5. Distribute your crumble topping evenly over the top and drizzle with maple syrup, if using.
  6. Place the lid on the pot and slide it into your pre-warmed oven for 15 minutes. Then remove the lid and leave to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes (depending on your oven) or until golden brown and apples are tender.
  7. Serve with cream, ice cream or yoghurt. Enjoy!

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Tips for healthier versions

  • Add chia seeds and/or coconut shreds to the crumble topping–this makes it worthy of being a breakfast food in my opinion 🙂
  • Reduce or even eliminate the sugar. I have made this with no sugar and you’d be amazed how much sweetness is in the apples already.
  • Choose plain, unsweetened yoghurt as your topping of choice.

 

Happy baking!

Jo x

Pre-order The Cake Maker’s Wish now. 

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How 1 Euro Italian houses and The Cake Maker’s Wish are Related

Since I started writing The Cake Maker’s Wish (all the way back in 2015), my imaginary idea of reviving a dying little village by importing people from around the globe has gone a little more global (and viral).

Today, you can buy an Italian house for only 1 Euro, in the same country that previously gave away castles, monasteries and towers. Ireland has called for residents of Australia and USA to emigrate to the tiny island of Arranmore. Spain has had a problem of abandoned villages across the country, so the officials from Galicia set about giving away one of these villages. In all of these examples, the goal has been to give the properties to someone who has detailed plans to renovate, restore and add capital back into the local area, to save a dying population and/or economy, and restore economic trade to the local business owners. This is exactly the premise that I used for the setting of The Cake Maker’s Wish, though at the time, I didn’t know it was really ‘a thing’.

Where it all began…

In 2015 I travelled to the UK on a writing trip to meet with my UK publisher and agent, to delivery an author talk in Abergavenny in Wales and to do research to look for a new story. I travelled with my dad, my sister and my sister’s baby (who was 14 months old). As part of that trip, we rented a stone cottage in the Cotswolds where we based ourselves for ten days and travelled the area from there.

I was lucky enough to get to know some of the locals. Two of them—men who’d grown up in the village in the fifties—made me a cup of tea to tell me about what life was like when they were young. In that conversation, they lamented the fact that the village had changed so much from when it was owned by the Lord of the Manor, which had created a unified, collaborated feel through the workers, with a thriving community spirit. Over time, as the village was sold off, wealthy investors from the city would buy up cottages as holiday homes, but that meant that most of the properties were sitting empty for most of the year. The village couldn’t function as it used to, no longer community-sufficient, with people having to travel further and further away to find work and services and the house prices forcing workers out of the market.

I was really touched by their sadness and went back to my rented cottage and sat down with a notebook and pen and thought, well, I’m a writer, surely I can bring this village back to life on the page. And that’s how it started.

And now…

I confess to being truly delighted that my imagination has conjured something that isn’t completely out of the box at all, that its themes and efforts of small communities trying to survive and hold onto their connections is very real, and that equally real efforts are happening around the world right now to save them. In my heart, I am a girl from the village. I may have been born in Brisbane but I have now spent almost fifteen years living in small country towns. I know the huge beating hearts that live in them and how important it is to support them and celebrate them. This is exactly what my new novel does.

The Cake Maker’s Wish is out 2 June but you can pre-order it now from all good bookstores and online retailers. I look forward to sharing the imaginary village of Stoneden in the Cotswolds with you very soon!

 

Coming Soon! The Cake Maker’s Wish

I am thrilled to share the cover for my new book, The Cake Maker’s Wish, coming to you on 2 June 2020. I adore it!

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Life in the village isn’t always sweet and simple . . .

When single mum Olivia uproots her young son Darcy from their life in Tasmania for a new start in the English Cotswolds, she isn’t exactly expecting a bed of roses – but nor is she prepared for the challenges that life in the picturesque village throws her way.

The Renaissance Project hopes to bring the dwindling community back to life – to welcome migrants from around the world and to boost the failing economy – but not everyone is so pleased about the initiative.

For cake maker Olivia, it’s a chance for Darcy to finally meet his Norwegian father, and for her to trace the last blurry lines on what remains of her family tree. It’s also an opportunity to move on from the traumatic event that tore her loved ones apart.

After seven years on her own, she has all but given up on romance, until life dishes up some delicious new options she didn’t even know she was craving.

An uplifting and heartwarming story about the moments that change your life forever, human kindness and being true to yourself.
Praise for Josephine Moon:

‘A mountain of heart, an abundance of soul and a banquet of mouth-watering food.’ Good Reading

‘You can’t go wrong with a book by Josephine Moon.’ Vanessa Carnevale

‘A delightful page-turner and a truly moving tale.’ Better Reading