biscuits next to cup of coffee
blogging, food, health, recipe

Home made Honey and Oat Cookie Recipe

Honey has been on my mind lately, interviewing as I was, an expert on Beekeeping in my job as a reporter for a community magazine.

I can now tell you loads about the complexities of a bee colony, what threats they face, how they are heavily regulated by themselves and the bees and the process of making honey.

Whilst beekeeping can turn into an obsession, I am more obsessed with honey and its use as food. I sourced a wonderfully tasty Immune boosted raw Honey from the Beekeeper himself. This honey has all sorts of health benefits as the bees graze from a wide variety of food sources.

Apart from having one teaspoon of this delicious food from the Gods, each day, I made some Honey and Oat Biscuits, (or Honey and Oat Cookies if you are American), using a favourite recipe of mine, that I will share here:

Honey and Oat Cookies (Biscuits) Recipe

  • 1 cup Self Raising Flour, (or all-purpose flour with 2 teaspoons Baking powder)
  • 3 tablespoons custard powder
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup (125 g) or softened butter
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 cup wheatgerm or bran

Method

  1. Blitz the flour and custard powder
  2. Add sugar and oats and blitz again
  3. Add butter through the chute as processing til blended
  4. Add honey and process till well combined
  5. Roll teaspoonfuls of the mix into balls and toss lightly in the wheatgerm/bran
  6. Place on baking tray and flatten lightly with the back of a fork
  7. Cook for 10 – 12 minutes in a moderate over 180 degrees C (350 F)
  8. Allow to cool on tray

Makes about 15- 18 cookies

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Chocolate Cake with Zucchini Squash

At the Home by the Sea, I am always looking to incorporate more vegetables in our diet.

If you have read this blog before you might be aware of my penchant for sweet treats. Especially those with brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon, such as the Danish Spice Cake, or Walnut Streusal Cake.

Fellow blogger Sandy just had to go and post a delicious recipe of Chocolate and Zucchini cake with just those aforementioned ingredients that I love so much.

Clear the hallway! I said when I read the post.

“I am headed for the kitchen.” No sooner had I read the post then the cake was in the mixing bowl.

Here is the result:

Sandy’s Chocolate and Zucchini Cake

zucchini chocolate cake with walnuts

Health Benefits of Zucchini or Squash to your Diet

Zucchini is low in calories, fat, and sugar and is a great source of antioxidants and Folate. It also contains Vitamins (A, E and C) that improve skin integrity, alleviate puffiness, build collagen and fight damage from free radicals. So Zucchini make us look younger!

Recipe

I reduced the zucchini – I use 2- 3 zucchini amounting to about 500 ml shredded – squeezed it out a little then added a 2- 3 tablespoons of extra flour to Sandy’s recipe.

Find the Full recipe at Sandy’s blog post.

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Edamame and Avocado Smash on Beetroot Hommus

Ingredients:

  • 1 Slice Sourdough or Rye bread toasted
  • 1/2 small can of cooked Edamame beans
  • 1/2 ripe Avocado
  • 2 tablespoons of Beetroot hommus
  • Spinach leaves and Cracked Pepper to garnish
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food, health

Hot Crab Dip or Cold Crab Dip

I have had this small tin of crab meat in my pantry for (mumble, mumble) quite some time now. I really did not know what I was going to use it for.

I think it was originally destined for a party, hanging out with other Swedish sandwich cake ingredients, but things did not work out between them, and so the crab meat, was left on the shelf… literally!

Image
Crab Dip

Inspiration hit me one night when the Moth aka hubby and I were on our own, no family to cook for and decided on a light meal to end the week. Surfing the net always provides inspiration and along the way I found a recipe for Hot Crab Dip.

As one always does, there were adjustments I just had to make, serving it cold, and adding some extra vegetables for crunch. As I like fresh and crunchy celery, cucumber and capsicum, I chopped these up and added them in. The dish has some added Vitamin C and fibre this way.

But credit goes to Will Cook for Smiles for the essence of the recipe. She baked hers in the oven, whilst I often prefer my seafood cold, so I didn’t. It is totally agreeable either way.

It is just your own preference.

Here is what I mixed to make this superb light meal/appetizer/dip/wine & cheese accompaniment.

Crab Dip Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 130 g tinned Crabmeat
  • 40g spreadable Cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup Sour cream
  • 1/4 cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 stalks of Spring onion, finely chopped and diced.
  • 1 Garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of shaved Parmesan cheese, to mix in
  • 1/4 cup of shaved Parmesan cheese, for topping
  • Salt & fresh cracked Pepper

Optional Extras if serving it cold:

  • 1/2 medium Yellow and Green Capsicum, chopped & diced.
  • 1/2 small Lebanese Cucumber, chopped & diced.
  • Celery – 1 stalk – only if you like it very crunchy

Method for Serving Cold Crab Dip

Mix all ingredients together. Serve with crackers, fresh bread or baguette.

To Serve Crab Dip Hot:

  • Preheat the oven to 170 degree celsius or 340 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Combine all the ingredients, top with the second 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake 20 minutes
  • Serve with crusty sourdough bread or crackers of your choice.

It was hard to stop nibbling this more-ish mix with my water crackers!

Next time I’s serve it hot with some fresh salad and a secondary dish.

Enjoy.

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DIY Cake and Cookie Pre-Mix and Save

Never buy a packet cookie or cake mix again! Many of them are just flour, sugar and dehydrated egg or fat.

You can easily make good quality cake mixes on your own in a food processor, or by hand, if you relish manually rubbing in butter to flour; (I don’t). But it does save you money and assist in building a zero waste household!

Photo by Mareefe on Pexels.com

Buying larger bags of flour and sugar, in order to make up a few batches of cake mix will save money in the long run, as you can access cheaper prices for buying in bulk.  Think how much each individual box of cake mix costs. I estimate you could save at least 2/3 of the retail price. So in effect, 3 for the price of 1!

These pre-made mixes can be made up immediately they’re removed from the fridge, but it will take a little longer than if the ingredients are at room temperature when you make them up. Use this time well by preparing pans, trays etc. whilst waiting for the mix to acclimatize.


Hints on Making Your own Baking Mixes:

  • Measure ingredients accurately.
  • Place mixes into sealable plastic bags: large zip lock bags are great.
  • Mark down the date prepared and the contents: eg.Chocolate cake/ orange cake, on the label. You might even want to add some simple directions on preparing or baking and give these mixes as gifts to friends. A marble cake pre made mix is welcomed by my friends.
  • Sealed well these mixes will store in the freezer for 3 months.
sourdough

Foundation Cake Pre-Mix

*NB: Self raising flour is the equivalent of 1 cup of plain or all purpose flour mixed with 2 teaspoons of Baking powder sifted and mixed thoroughly.

Cake Mix Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups Self-raising Flour*
  • 3/4 cup (180 g) castor sugar
  • 2 tablespoons skim milk powder
  • 125 g (4oz) butter, straight from fridge and chopped into small cubes
  1. Combine sifted flour, sugar and milk powder in the bowl of food processor fitted with a metal blade for blending the butter.
  2. Blitz dry ingredients for 2- 3 seconds to mix.
  3. Add the chopped cold butter.
  4. Process 10 to 20 seconds until butter is evenly distributed in dry ingredients.
  5. Seal and store or continue to make a completed cake.

Making up the Cake from the Pre-Mix

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract or Vanillin Sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Method:

  1. Prepare Foundation Cake Mix in a mixer bowl as instructed above.
  2. Add the eggs, vanilla and water.
  3. Beat on low speed until ingredients are combined.
  4. Increase mixer speed to medium and mix for three minutes or until mixture changes in colour and is smooth. (There should not be any lumps in the mixture; if there are, beat til they’ve disappeared).
  5. Spread mixture evenly into well-greased 20 cm Round, Bundt, Ring, or a 28 x 18 cm, (11x 7 in) lamington tin.
  6. Bake in moderate oven 30 minutes and leave for 10 minutes before turning on to wire rack to cool.

Cake Variations:

Orange Cake

Add 2 teaspoons grated orange rind with the water and eggs and omit vanilla.

Top cake with Orange glace icing when cold.

Coffee Cake

Dissolve 1 tablespoon instant coffee with 1/4 cup boiling water, and make up to 1/2 cup with cold water but leave to cool before using. Use this in place of the 1/2 cup water in original recipe.

Top with glace icing of your choice, or coffee icing.

Chocolate Cake

Sift 1/3 cup Cocoa into a small basin, gradually blend in 2/3 cup water, stir till smooth. Use in place of water in original recipe. (The extra water is needed in this recipe to absorb the cocoa.)

Top with chocolate icing.

Cooking Times

Cooking times vary so here is a guide to tin sizes and cooking times:

20 cm (8 inch) ring tin – 35 minutes

2 x 25 x 8 cm (10 in x 3 in) bar tins – 30 minutes

20 x 10 cm (8in x 4 in) loaf tin – 50 minutes

23 x 12 cm (9in x 5 in) loaf tin  – 50 minutes

25 x 15 cm (10in x 6 in) – 45 minutes

Basic Cake Icing

Vanilla Glace Icing

  • 1  1/2 cups Icing or Confectioners sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract or Vanillin sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Milk, approximately
  1. Stir Icing sugar into small heatproof bowl
  2. Stir in butter, vanilla and enough milk to make a thick paste.
  3. Stand basin over hot water, stir constantly until icing is of spreading consistency.
  4. Spread over cold cake with spatula.

Variations:

Orange Glace Icing: Use 2 tablespoons strained orange juice in place of milk and omit vanilla.

Coffee Icing: Sift 2 teaspoons instant coffee powder with icing sugar.

If granular instant coffee is used, heat the milk and dissolve the coffee in the milk.

Chocolate Glace Icing: Sift 2 tablespoons cocoa with the icing sugar.

You will need about 2-3 tablespoons milk to bring mixture to a paste-like consistency.

Cookie Pre-Mix

Makes 20 cookies / aka biscuits

  • 1 and 1/4 cups self raising flour [ ie. 1 and 1/4 cup all purpose or plain flour and 1 and 1/4 teaspoons baking powder].
  • 1 tablespoon skim milk powder
  • 1/3 cup castor sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut
  • 125 g (4 oz) butter
  • Sift flour milk and sugar, place in bowl of food processor which has been fitted with metal blade.
  • Add coconut, and chopped cold butter.
  • Process 10 – 20 seconds or until butter is evenly distributed through dry ingredients.
  • Seal and store for up to 3 months in fridge or freezer.

To make Cookies:

  1. Place prepared biscuit pre-mix in a bowl.
  2. Add 3 tablespoons water and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together. (Mixture should be quite stiff).
  3. Roll teaspoonsfuls of mixture in to balls and place 5 cm (2 in) apart on lightly greased oven trays.
  4. Flatten biscuits with a fork which has been dipped in flour, or top biscuits with almonds, cherries or choc bits.
  5. Bake in moderate oven 10 – 15 minutes or til golden brown.
  6. Place on wire racks to cool.
cooking anzac biscuits

If you are planning a fund raiser, making the mix beforehand and bake without lengthy preparation on the day of sale.

No doubt about it, freshly baked home baked treasts will sell like hot cakes!!

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vegetable soup
food, health

Time for Tuscan Bean Soup

The beauty of this soup is that it works with most leftover vegetables. I chop up things I find in the fridge at the Home by the Sea, such as the leftover broccoli stalks or slightly limp-few days old -beans and add them in. The soup will taste just as good, if not better.

The addition of chickpeas adds a lot of fibre to this recipe and balances out the carbs hidden in the pancetta/bacon.

A hearty soup perfect for an easy family dinner.

tomato-parsley-food-cooking-

Tuscan Bean Soup Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cold-pressed Olive Oil
  • 2 medium Brown Onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • 200g Speck, or good quality Bacon or Pancetta, coarsely sliced
  • 2 -3 Carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can Diced Tomatoes*

I didn’t have a can of chopped Roma Tomatoes, in the pantry, so I boiled up 8 fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped them roughly, then boiling them in a saucepan till soft, [about 8 -10 minutes on medium heat].

  • 1/4 head of Cabbage, shredded coarsely
  • 1- 2 Zucchinis, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Thyme
  • 2 cups Chicken or Vegetable stock
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 small can of Chickpeas, in vinaigrette, rinsed and drained
  • 1 new Potato, coarsely chopped
  • 1 whole Celery stalk with leaves attached
  • Chives, a handful sliced plus some extra for garnishing

Serves 6

Tuscan Bean Soup

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan
  2. Cook onion, celery, garlic, and selected cured meat, such as Pancetta, stirring until onion and celery is soft (about 5 minutes)
  3. Add carrot, undrained tomatoes, cabbage, zucchini, potato, thyme, stock, drained chickpeas, water and the whole celery stalk, with leaves attached.
  4. Bring to boil
  5. Simmer uncovered about 30 – 40 minutes [go for a nice walk whilst it is simmering]
  6. Remove the whole celery stalk with leaves
  7. Add finely sliced chives and garnish with a sprinkle prior to serving.
  8. Serve with a crusty bread

If you are a soup lover, you might also like Lemon Broccoli Soup

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Easy Salmon Pie with Cheesy Crust

Salmon is low in fat and high in protein. Not to mention it is a good source of B12, potassium, iron and vitamin D. No wonder the Scandinavians enjoy it.

Making pastry can be a pain but it’s a breeze with this recipe as the kitchen food processor blends and forms a delicious, cheesy pastry shell.

Cooks Notes:

This recipe is substantial and makes a filling pie great for serving the family or group. The pie cuts easily and holding its form brilliantly on the day of cooking as well as the next day for a summer lunch.

Salmon Pie Recipe

Preheat Oven to 180 C (350F)

Cheesy Pastry Crust Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups Plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Paprika
  • 125 g Butter
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar or firm Cheese (substitutes are fine as long as it isn’t a cheese that melts too much such as mozzarella)
  1. Rub the butter into the flour using a Food Processor but not so much that it turns into a ball (keep it crumbly)
  2. Add the grated cheese and mix through the pastry.
  3. Set aside 1/4 of the mix to reserve for the pie topping
  4. Press the remainder into an 8-9 inch pottery, or glass, pie dish until it covers the base and sides to form the pastry shell.

Filling Ingredients

  • 220 gram (around 8 oz) can cooked Red or Pink Salmon, preferably boneless
  • 3 Eggs
  • 375 grams Sour cream (13 oz)
  • 1 Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Chives
  • 2-3 drops of Tabasco sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 cup grated Cheese (extra)
  1. Drain and flake salmon and combine with the rest of the filling ingredients
  2. Place the combined mix into the pastry shell
  3. Crumb the reserved portion of the pastry crumbs on top
  4. Bake 40 – 50 minutes at 180 C (350 F) or until golden brown on top

Delicious served hot or cold the next day with a green salad.

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A Gluten-Free Christmas Menu

You know your own children’s preferences, but when they become adults and bring home partners, you might have to face the prospect that the partners has different dietary preferences that need to be accomodated at festive occasions, like Christmas.

Scandinavian Christmas light

I am rather late in planning this Gluten free Christmas menu and it is not Vegan, nor vegetarian so that is a heads up. But it is highly nutritious.

Entree or Nibbles

First off we have a Prawn, snow pea and Capsicum Entree, I used the following Prawn dish idea but made it a kind of tasting nibbles board, rather than a whole dish. I will add some nice cheeses, home made Knekkerbrød (Norwegian crackers) and nuts to accompany this.

Fresh is best for this opener. Given that all prawns are frozen at the point of capture, fresh is a loose term these days. But we are Australian, so we have to have some kind of shellfish option to start the hot meal.

Christmas food

Mains

Meat

  • Assortment of oven-roasted, gluten-free meats – without stuffing and preferably organic in nature

Roasted Vegetables

  • Potatoes roasted with garlic, thyme and dill
  • Pumpkin, sweet potato, and carrots (all roasted with rosemary sprigs)
  • Onion
  • Choko
  • Red capsicum drizzled with olive oil and roasted lightly

Salads

  • Cauliflower butter beans and Pumpkin Hommus
  • Chickpea Spinach and Eggplant Salad
  • Broccoli, Quinoa and Edamame Vegetables (served warm for the Moth)

Christmas food collage

Dessert

Smashed Pavlova with seasonal stone fruits – there is just a little teaspoon of cornflour in this Pavlova recipe but when there is a coeliac visitor, one has to be extra careful. This is not just Gluten intolerance, but allergy!

  • Gluten-free Option – Chocolate Brownie

For the Moth: Warm Plum Pudding served with custard and ice cream

(not gluten-free)

What kind of different dishes are you cooking this Christmas?

Are you breaking from preparing traditional foods?

Merry Christmas from the Home by the Sea

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vegetable soup
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Chicken Soup Home Remedy

With Australia in the midst of winter colds and what seems now the ever-present spectre of Covid threatening us, it seems fitting I re-visit an old recipe post from pre-Covid times.

It has been some time since I cooked Chicken soup for a sick teenager, but I remember it like it is yesterday.

Chicken Soup Makes you Feel Better

Setting: Pre – Covid days when teenage boys roamed my house

“Ahhhh, I feel sick, I think I’m coming down with a cold,” wailed my teenage son as he came home from school, one day.

Oh dear, you do look a bit pale, I’ll make some Chicken soup for you to…” I begin, before I am abruptly cut off with a, Talk to the Hand,’ kind of gesture, frequently observed in male adolescents.

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“Fine,” I then respond, trying not to feel rejected and putting on a nonchalant face. “But it helps me feel better, when I feel ill,” I plead, as the teen, now making a hasty exit from the kitchen, heads straight for the lounge.

In one swift movement, he has grabbed the remote control and launched himself into the air, landing lengthwise on the Ektorp lounge like some ‘lounge lizard‘, flaked out on sedatives.

During this pseudo-aerial display of slothfulness, Number #1 Son and older brother to the Teen and self-confessed germophobe seated on the floor in front of the TV, [apparently, there are no suitable chairs in the house], looks at his brother in horror.

It is clear he is nearly beside himself with the knowledge that something as infectious as a common cold, has entered his personal space and so abruptly leaves the room, mumbling something about establishing a quarantine zone, and swearing not to touch the TV remote, for at least two weeks!

Unsurprisingly, I know his father will hold no issue with that comment, detected by the sudden throat clearing and smirk I see building across his face.

Amidst the sniffles and sneezes, now reaching somewhat of a crescendo from the lounge lizard, I begin to assemble the ingredients for Grandma’s Chicken soup – lots of parsley, garlic, all manner of vegetables and a bit of extra salt.

Salty Foods are Helpful

Believe it or not, salt can actually be good for you when you are sick, (just make sure to drink plenty of water/fluids with it to prevent dehydration). This is basically the only time eating something as salty as potato crisps, could be seen to do any modicum of good, so make the most of it, I say.

Believe it or not, there is now proof that Grandma was right, after all, in serving up Chicken soup when someone in the family is sick, so there is a method in my madness, (if you’ll excuse the cooking pun).

The Science of Eating Chicken Soup When you are Sick

Researchers have found

“…chicken soup does have a mild anti-inflammatory effect and can reduce the impact of a cold. The American journal of Therapeutics says carnosine in chicken is the ingredient that most likely helps our immune system.”

Fitwise Magazine 2014

Furthermore, Lisa Renn of the Dietitians Association of Australia says,

“there are studies that say chicken soup is beneficial in improving symptoms such as a runny nose, coughs, sneezing, sore throats and chills.”

Dietitians AA

So what, you might ask, does the ailing teen do when I place a tray of hot, steamy, freshly-made chicken soup on his lap?

He gobbles it up so fast, it is practically inhaled!!! And yes, despite the glazed looks teens often give you when the TV is on, I did hear a nasal, “Thanks Mum,” somewhere amidst the slurping noises,  which like Grandma’s Chicken soup, warms my spirit!

Grandma’s Chicken Soup Recipe

  • 1 Chicken Breast, sliced thinly or cooked leftover chicken
  • 400 mls good quality chicken broth (either make your own from boiling a whole chicken or use a stock cube/good prepared broth – I use Campbells)
  • 2 medium onions sliced/diced
  • 2 sticks celery, finely diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • Shallots – 1/4 bunch, finely sliced
  • I large handful of Parsley, diced
  • 1/4 cup frozen beans or peas
  • Creamed corn – I medium can, drained
  • Sweetcorn kernels – I small can, drained
  • Lemon juice ( 1/2 lemon)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional Extras:

2 Handfuls of any other vegetable, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, sweet potato, that you may wish to use, diced, shredded or broken into small florets.

Method

  1. Sauté onion, garlic and celery in a large saucepan
  2. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add carrots and optional veges and cook for around 6 minutes
  4. Add the chicken strips and stir till they change colour and cook through completely
  5. Add the shallots, parsley, frozen beans/peas, and cook a further 2-3 minutes
  6. Add corn, lemon juice and finally add the egg, whilst stirring
  7. Add seasoning to taste.

Serve with bread or alone, it is oh, so good!

Serves 4 people (or 2 teens!)

Variant:

Throw in 1/4 cup Arborio rice and stir – cooking the dish, for another 8 minutes or until rice is completely cooked through. This turns it into a thick casserole type of dish.

Slow Cooker Chicken Soup Option

Throw all the ingredients in the Slow Cooker adding water to cover and return home at the end of the day with the house smelling like Grandma – in a good way, of course!!

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chocolate orange cake
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Weekly Cake Recipe Rich Chocolate Orange Cake

One Cake A Week

Do Chocolate Cakes in your house disappear all too quickly?

Then your household will love this Chocolate Orange cake. It has the flavour of Chocolate with a hint of orange juice goodness. Better than chocolate!

Chocolate Orange Cake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 125g butter (softened)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 3/4 cups Self Raising Flour (equivalent to plain flour with 3 teaspoons of Baking powder added)
  • 1 1/3 cup castor or fine white sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 1/4 cup water

Method

  1. Preheat Oven 180 Celsius or 375 Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease and flour a 20 cm/8 inch bundt or round cake pan.
  3. Combine all ingredients in an electric mixer adding wet ingredients last.
  4. Beat on low speed until all ingredients are combined.
  5. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes or until the cake mixture changes colour and is smooth.
  6. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50 – 60 minutes.
  7. Leave stand for 5 minutes before turning out.
  8. Dust generously with icing sugar before serving.
  9. Optional: Ice with Choc Orange frosting, if desired.

Chocolate Orange Frosting

  • 60 grams or 4 tablespoons soft Butter
  • 1 tablespoon grated Orange rind
  • 1 1/2 cup Icing Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Cocoa

To Make Frosting:

  1. Beat butter and rind in small mixer bowl until light and fluffy.
  2. Add icing sugar and milk gradually.
  3. Divide frosting mixture in half, stir sifted cocoa into one half and mix well.
  4. Top cake with spoonfuls of orange and chocolate iceing.
  5. Swirl icing with knife to give a marbled effect.

I am making #onecakeaweek at the Home by the Sea. Join me in collating a recipe blog list by leaving your link in the comments below.

More HbtS Cake Recipes. There is plenty to choose from.

A Home by the Sea