Photo Fest: Up Close and Personal with Tisa

Ok, I know it’s been months since I posted the last development photos, but these ones are the real deal! We are all done, dusted, finished and ready to open our doors! Unfortunately we still have a few bureaucratic hoops to jump through, but that can’t stop me from virtually welcoming you to Cafe Tisa! Enjoy!

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Upside Down Apple Walnut Muffins

The above title is exactly what I typed in to google to try to find a recipe for these. Guess what I found?

Zilch. Zip. Zero.

I was shocked and awed!! There were many variations of the upside down cake/muffin. Pineapple seems to be a popular choice, and I actually found several recipes that had this muffin in a different order – walnut cake with apple topping. Somehow, it just didn’t appeal.

I was looking for something soft, tender and juicy for the cake, with a sweet and crunchy upside-down topping. In the end, I had to wing it.

For a first try they didn’t turn out too badly, but I learnt some lessons:

1. I think that they would look better in a bigger muffin pan. The bottoms of mind aren’t big enough to show off their walnuty goodness.

2. I need to further research how to obtain the perfect sugar butter mixture to hold the nuts in place . I’m looking for something that ends up nice and shiny, even better if it crystallizes into a sheet!

3. Next time I might try chopping the nuts up a bit. I thought they would be more impressive left whole, but I might get a more even covering using smaller pieces.

Apart from these learning curves, they turned out ok! I found that they went perfectly with a hot cup of tea at about 5 o clock!

Have any of you had experience baking upside-down cakes or muffins? What happened?


Gooey Sticky Chocolate Mud Cupcakes

The cafe is almost finished!!! It’s so exciting, and the guys who have been working on it for us have been doing such a good job, that last weekend I decided to whip up a bunch of these for them. This recipe is actually for a cake, but I changed it to cupcakes so that they would be a bit easier to eat. Sadly, I arrived too late… they had already finished for the day! Luckily for those who actually did end up eating them!

This mix is unbelievably rich, dense and moist. Top that with a smidge of chocolate ganache, and this a chocolate explosion!

Unfortunately, not all went so smoothly with the transformation from cake to cupcake. Because it truly is so moist, it becomes a bit delicate to handle. I filled the muffin tins to the top so they ended up with a nice top on them. Sadly, this was the downfall for some of them:

However, I baked about 5 in slightly bigger molds (it was a really big mix!) and their tops stayed nice and flat, even though they rose higher than the edges. I think that the flat top works better for this particular cupcake.

In any case, whatever shape they were in, the taste sensation remains! Just make sure you save this one for a special occasion!

From an old magazine clipping in my mum’s wonderful collection of recipes:


Sweet Treats From Down Under: Yo-Yos

I’m going to make a sweeping statement, backed up by no evidence at all, and say that yo-yos have got to be the favourite for most Kiwis. My evidence is that when I told mum that I was making them the other day, the response was “oooohhhhh….. yuuuuummmmmmm!!!!” Now, considering mum isn’t really that into sweets, yo-yos must be pretty awesome. It must be something to do with the way the biscuit crumbles, yet at the same time melts in your mouth… and then of course there is the creamy, vanilla, custard filling.. need I say more?

Obviously, like most Kiwi favourites, the best recipe is found in the Edmonds cookbook:

I absolutely love mine… the great mix of having all of those old recipes that go back generations, plus my yearning for anything that tweaks at my kiwi nostalgia means that I am constantly drawn to this book; usually with delicious results!

Custard powder is one of those omnipresent ingredients in NZ which we take for granted, yet barely exists here! I usually stock up on a few boxes each trip home, although I have found a couple of random little sachets of what I believe is the same thing… still, there’s nothing like Edmonds!

Anyway, fill your cookie jar up with these bad boys, and I guarantee they will be gone before you know it!

What are your favourite sweet treats from home?


Cafe Tisa Coming To Life

It’s been a few weeks since I posted the first pictures showing the preliminary stages of how our cafe is transforming, so this post will show a bit of a time lapse, with the last photos being taken today!

The view from the front door.

From the back of the building… our two new doors!

The freshly tiled bathrooms..

Now.. these next ones were taken this afternoon:

OK! Thats all until we finish!! I will leave all future pics for the final unveiling which will hopefully be happening in about 3 weeks time! Wish us luck!


Keep it Kiwi – Cafe Tisa challenges the future Chef’s and Baker’s of NZ

Back in NZ, I have a wonderful friend who dedicates her life to educating the future. As a teacher, it is her job to find stimulating ways to provide a well rounded education for our kiwi kids. When she came to me with the idea of challenging her students with a recipe for their technology unit, I was immediately in!

The challenge for me was to think of a way to make this fun, exciting and accessible to her students. While a Daring Kitchen type challenge may be fun, accessibility would certainly be an issue. So how to make it relevant? Halloween is too close, and christmas too far… but then the answer fell like a miracle kick from Piri..

Following the incredible success of our All Black heroes, their challenge is to create a dish fit for a celebration!

New Zealand national rugby union team

Image via Wikipedia

So what are the criteria?

  • The dish ABsolutely must be, or have an ingredient which is emblematically kiwi: Think kiwi fruit, kumara, pavlova; let your minds run wild! As long as you can explain why it is kiwi, you can use it.
  • The dish must be fit for a celebration. Something you can bring to a party, or give as a gift.
  • Give yourselves a pseudonym. This is an interactive challenge. That means that the students can comment on the blog, I can talk about their progress and at the end, parts of their reflections and photos will be shared. Due to privacy issues we don’t want to use real names, so be creative! It might be the name you wish you’d been called when you were born, a superhero name, the name of your cat… whatever! Just have fun with it!
The idea of the challenge is to come up with an idea of your own, but within the next week I will be posting a recipe for inspiration which may be adapted to suit the purpose if need be!

So what do you say cook’s and baker’s? Are you in?


Sweet Hearts

With the countdown to opening time coming closer and closer, I’ve been trying to make sure that my menu is 100% ready and foolproof… I want anyone to be able to follow the recipes! Most of the things that I intend on having on sale in the cafe are things that I’m already pretty confident with, but there are a few things that I have heard time and time again that I absolutely must have that I’m not so sure of – and one of those things was cheesecake.

Although I’ve always liked cheesecake, it’s not something that I’ve ever made a lot of. I think part of it is the fact that I don’t often have occasion to do so. And having a whole cheesecake to get through in the fridge with the two of us isn’t such a good idea! In any case, this one will be cut up and delivered around after we have done the official taste test!

One of the main reasons I need to try out these recipes is to work out how they go with the ingredients I have here, the size of the tins and the heat that I will need to use to cook. I found out with this recipe that I didn’t have enough biscuit base to use all of the filling, so I was left with a fair amount of filling which I couldn’t bear to throw away! I didn’t have any base left either, so I decided to fill these cute little heart shaped, silicon cupcake holders that I hadn’t used yet. It was a bit tricky getting them in and out of the oven due to the floppiness of the cases, but as long as they were treated delicately they turned out perfectly!

I topped them with the caramel sauce I made for the main cheesecake, and little heart strawberries (yay berries!). I think they’re perfect for a little valentines treat, or just to say I think you’re awesome any time of the year!