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festive marzipan with cranberries and pistachio

festive marzipan | south by north

Growing up very close to my German granny meant all kinds of great things at Christmas time. Not only did I get to open some of my presents on Christmas Eve, but we also had the best food…  Stollen (with thick butter), lebkuchen by the bucketload, rumtopf (was rarely allowed to try this due to overproof alcohol content!), and of course tons of marzipan. I have very vivid memories of making marzipankugeln – rolling marzipan into balls, covering it in cocoa powder and giving them out as gifts. A pretty gourmet effort for a five-year-old.

26 years later, I felt like it was time to up my marzipan game. I’ve coated these in dark chocolate and topped them with cranberries and pistachios for a grown-up version of my childhood favourite. So easy to make, so easy to eat. Scroll down for the how to.

festive marzipan | south by north

festive marzipan | south by north

festive marzipan | south by north

festive marzipan | south by north

festive marzipan | south by north

You will need:

– a block of marzipan
– dark chocolate, 85% cocoa
– Chopped pistachios and dried cranberries

Cut your marzipan block into equal sections, then roll each one into a ball. Put a handful of chocolate pieces into a microwave safe bowl, and heat for ten seconds at a time, stirring in between until it is fully melted (don’t let it boil!). Place the marzipan balls on a wire rack with something underneath to catch the drips. Pour a tablespoon of chocolate over each one, letting it run down the sides to fully coat the marzipan. While the chocolate is still liquid, top with chopped pistachio and dried cranberries, or whatever takes your fancy.

Leave your marzipan treats to set, then carefully remove them from the wire using a small knife.

P.S. Because I’m in Australia where it is currently scorchio, my chocolate was never going to set while out on the table so I popped it in the fridge. I am pretty sure they would have been more shiny if left out to set.

P.P.S. Did you spot my Frankfurt weihnachtsmarkt gluhwein mug?! I’ve had it for years, it’s the best.


diy eucalyptus floral garland (+ video tutorial!)



Last weekend was the annual ‘lose your mind at the flower market, make 47 wreaths and eat loads of food‘ day! The obligatory 47 wreaths were indeed made (more on that later), and banana split was eaten. After everyone left my place I decided to put together a festive garland with my floral leftovers.

A garland makes a great alternative to a wreath when you need something to fill a bigger wall space, and if you can’t hang things you can use it on a sideboard or table. It is festive but not super-Christmassy, y’know? In fact I could see myself making these throughout the seasons. This garland is still hanging in my lounge room a week later, and although it has mostly dried it still looks good.

I also decided to make my first ever video tutorial, which I am slightly nervous about… Please watch it and tell me what you think. Is it too long/short/weird? It was fun to put together so I expect I’ll do a few more in the future. This first try  has highlighted a lot of things I would change for next time. Mainly to get a tall tripod so that I don’t have to balance the camera on a stool which is also balanced on a chair!

Flower Garland from southbynorth on Vimeo.





speculoos cake with salted caramel frosting and espresso ganache

speculoos cake with salted caramel frosting and espresso ganache | south by north

David is always teaching me all kinds of useful life skills; rock climbing, how to be good at camping, how to use photoshop etc etc, and I thought it was about time I taught him a useful life skill. Learning how to bake a cake seems like pretty essential knowledge.

Last Sunday we spent all day in the kitchen, me hovering and giving instructions, and David learning why ‘softened butter’ does not require 90 seconds in the microwave. It was also a great lesson in why every spoon and bowl in the house must be used in the baking of a cake.

So technically, I did not bake this cake. David baked this cake. Isn’t it excellent?!

This is my recipe and I was a little more involved in making the caramel and evening off the frosting, but besides that David did the lion’s share of the actual making. I’m so impressed! Expectations for my next birthday are pretty high.

This cake has all of the good things. It’s like a decadant morning tea rolled up in one handy slice. Coffee. Salted Caramel. Speculoos. Chocolate. If you haven’t tried speculoos, get on it now. You can get the spread in lots of supermarkets in the US, and the biscuits can be bought here in Australia. Y’know those delicious cinnamon-y biscuits that come with your coffee? Yep, those.
Scroll down for the recipe.

speculoos cake with salted caramel frosting and espresso ganache | south by north

speculoos cake with salted caramel frosting and espresso ganache | south by north

speculoos cake with salted caramel frosting and espresso ganache | south by north

speculoos cake with salted caramel frosting and espresso ganache | south by north

(adapted from this delicious cake )
330g of lightly salted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups of brown sugar, packed
3 cups cake flour
1 cup of ground speculoos biscuits plus extra for decoration
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream
6 eggs

Preheat oven to 170°C and prepare two 8 inch baking tins by lining the base with baking paper and lightly buttering the sides. (I actually only have one tin, so I bake mine in two lots.)
Place the softened butter and sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer and set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, ground biscuit, baking powder). In a third bowl mix the wet ingredients (milk, vanilla, cream eggs).
Beat the butter and cream together using your stand mixer, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Turn the mixer to low then add half of the dry ingredients and half of the wet ingredients. Once combined add the rest.
Scrape the sides of the bowl throughout.
Mix until just combined, then divide the batter evenly into your baking tins, and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool before turning out onto a wire rack.

Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup of white sugar
90g of butter, cubed
1 cup of heavy cream
Pinch of salt

Place the sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan over a medium heat. After a short time it will start to turn brown at the edges, very gently drag the edges inwards to stop them burning. Avoid stirring too much and make sure you stay near the stove, caramel is needy and clingy and can never be left alone.
Once the sugar has fully dissolved and reached a deep amber colour, remove from the heat (but leave the heat on), quickly add the butter and stir vigorously. The mixture will bubble up and is extremely hot so be sure to protect your skin incase of spitting or spillage. Once the butter is melted place the pan back on the heat and quickly add and stir the cream (again this will bubble up). Once the ingredients are fully combined stir in the salt and leave the pan aside to cool. It will be pretty runny, it thickens as it cools.

Salted Caramel Frosting
300g butter, softened
2 cups of icing sugar
3 table spoons of salted caramel sauce

Beat the butter in your stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for a further couple of minutes. Add the caramel and beat until well-mixed.

Espresso Ganache (make after the cake is assembled)
1 cup of milk chocolate pieces/chips
1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 shot of espresso

Mix the espresso into the cream. Place a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water, and add the chocolate to the bowl. When the chocolate has half melted add the cream and stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate has completely melted.

Use a sharp serated knife to level the cakes.
Place the first cake onto your serving plate and add a dollop of frosting. Use a palette knife to spread it over the top of the cake. Place the second cake TOP DOWN onto the base cake and add another dollop of frosting on top. Spread the frosting thinly over the whole cake using the palette knife and then place in the fridge.
Once the first layer of frosting has slightly hardened (20 minutes), remove from the fridge. Add more frosting to the top of the cake and spread it towards the sides of the cake and down. Add more frosting where needed, and wipe your palette knife clean between each spread. Run your knife around the cake and across the top to create clean edges.

Next add the caramel drizzle. The caramel should be at room temperature. Using two teaspoons, carefully drizzle caramel around the top edge of the cake, letting it run down the sides. Place the cake in the fridge while you make the ganache.

Once the ganache has cooled a little (you don’t want to melt your frosting), pull the cake out of the fridge, and pour the ganache on top in the centre of the cake. It will flood the surface and start to harden fast, so work quickly. You shouldn’t need to spread it with a knife, just continue to pour until it runs down the sides and pools a little at the base. Place the whole cake back in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Once the ganache has set, use some of the ground speculoos to decorate the top and sides.

Instagram challenge: #myseasonof_florals

my season of florals | south by north

The lovely Laura and I have started an Instagram challenge, and we’d love you all to join in.

Inspired by the beauty of each season, we are asking you to add #myseasonof_florals to you floral photos for the rest of November. Each week we will be posting our favourites to Instagram and at the end of November we will pick a lucky winner to receive a mystery prize (to be announced next week!). We are only able to post the prize to Australia or New Zealand but welcome everyone to take part.

You can tag as many photos as you like, please be sure to also tag @hellolaurajane and @claireyclaire on your images.

Looking forward to seeing what everyone posts.

our winter wedding in the blue mountains

blue mountains wedding | south by north

We got married! Twice! Back in June, Dave and I got hitched in the Blue Mountains, NSW and then flew to London and did it all over again with my family and our friends over there.

Our wedding in the Blue Mountains was cosy and wintery – exactly how we wanted it. The venue was a large log cabin in Blackheath surrounded by gorgeous bushland, and almost all of our guests stayed on site in little cabins dotted around the property. Our aim for the day was to keep it informal and relaxed with plenty of good food, wine and merriment. We had log fires, lots of native flowers and tons of tealights, as well as the most gorgeous back drop of the Blue Mountains. We also got a little bit of unexpected decor – the seasonal wattle growing all over the place was beautiful!

All in all we had such a fantastic day and evening, and it turned out even better than we could have imagined. I’m going to write another post later on about all of the diy details, but for now I wanted to share some of the photos with you. All of these photos were taken by our absolutely amazing photographers, Willow and Co. Seriously, these guys were the BEST, we couldn’t have asked for two more lovely, talented people to do the job.

Scroll down for a selection, you can see some more pics and a little write up over on the Hello May blog.

P.S. I’ll be sharing some photos from our London wedding in the next couple of weeks too.

blue mountains wedding | south by north

blue mountains wedding | south by north

blue mountains wedding | south by north

blue mountains wedding | south by north

blue mountains wedding | south by north

blue mountains wedding | south by north

blue mountains wedding | south by north

blue mountains wedding | south by north

blue mountains wedding | south by north

blue mountains wedding | south by north

blue mountains wedding | south by north

blue mountains wedding | south by north

blue mountains wedding | south by north

All photos by Willow and Co.

three ways to use herbs to decorate a cake

decorate a cake with herbs | south by north

I like my rainbow-funfetti-unicorn-sparkle cakes as much of the next person. I really do. But sometimes it’s nice to just keep things au naturel. Herbs can be so pretty and are much more flavoursome that candy cake decorations, so I wanted to explore some ways they could be used as edible decor, not just an ingredient.

Conveniently, I had a rather naked looking honey and pear cake that needed some jazzing up, but these techniques would work with any cake. Scroll down to see how I used herbs to make it pretty (and not a rainbow sprinkle in sight).

decorate a cake with herbs | south by north

Substitute sprinkles for finely chopped herbs

This one is kind of easy peasy. You can either finely chop the herb of your choice, or use tiny thyme leaves like I did. Be sure to pick a flavour that complements your cake. Once your cake is iced, just sprinkle ‘em on top. Jobs a winner.

decorate a cake with herbs | south by north

Rosemary infused drizzle

Put a few sprigs of rosemary into a small saucepan, and add just enough milk to almost cover them. Heat this very gently and remove from the stove before it boils. Cover, and leave to cool for a few hours. Once fully cooled, strain out the rosemary and discard (or just pick it out if it’s still intact). Add icing sugar to the milk a little bit at a time until you have a consistency you like, then pour over your cake. For extra drizzliness poke a few holes in your cake before pouring. This would work with pretty much any herb.

decorate a cake with herbs | south by north

Crystallised sage leaves

This one is also easy peasy. Lay out all of the leaves you want to decorate, and one by one gently brush with egg white and dip into white sugar. the whole leaf should be coated but not saturated. for a cracked crystal look use fine sugar, and for a dusted look use larger grains. Leave these to dry overnight. (Before serving, make sure everyone is cool with eating uncooked egg whites).

If you are unsure of which herbs to pair with a sweet dessert, have a look through these ideas from Martha Stewart for some great flavour combos.

decorate a cake with herbs | south by north

how to make natural yoghurt

how to make natural yoghurt | south by north

We eat a lot of yoghurt in our house and I’ve been making my own for about 18 months now. It’s such a satisfying process and kind of science-y. I love that it gives me more control over the type of milk my yoghurt comes from (local, organic, whatever floats your boat) as well as working out so much cheaper.

There are two methods you can try to make your own yoghurt. Both methods involve heating then cooling your milk, adding culture and leaving it to incubate before fully setting in the fridge. The first is a basic, no equipment needed, but fiddly method that works well if you just want to give yoghurt-making a try, or make it occasionally. The second method is the one I use, and better suited if you plan to make loads of yoghurt and want it to be totally foolproof.

how to make natural yoghurt | south by north

Basic (but fiddly) method for making yoghurt.

You will need: a litre of fresh milk and a tablespoon of natural yoghurt, plus a sterilised glass jar or tub for storage.

Heat the milk slowly in a sterilised saucepan to 92°C, stirring to make sure that a skin doesn’t form. Best to use a thermometer for this as it is really important that the milk hits 92°C. As soon as it reaches the right temperature (don’t let it boil!), remove from the heat and let the milk cool to 40°C using the thermometer to check. Once the milk has cooled, stir in the tablespoon of yoghurt (this is the culture), pour into your glass jar or tub and put the lid on.

The jar of milk needs to stay warm at around 40° for 12 hours in order for it to turn into yoghurt. There are lots of ways you can do this (hi, Google), but lots of these ways didn’t work for me. Some of the more popular ones are; fill an esky/cooler with a couple of inches of boiling water then place your jar of yoghurt inside, place your jar of yoghurt in an airing cupboard or next to the radiator, or place the jar of yoghurt inside the oven with just the light on. When I first started out I wasted litres of milk trying different methods and ending up with a gloopy mess that definitely was not yoghurt. Having said that, do give it a whirl because lots of people swear by these methods. The one that worked best for me was to wrap my microwave rice heat pack around the jar, then wrap the whole thing in a big towel and leave it overnight.

After your milk has incubated for 12 hours, pop the lid off and check that it has turned to yoghurt. Don’t touch it, and try not to move it too much – do not stir! If it has yoghurted correctly (huzzah), leave the jar with the lid on in the fridge to set for another 8-12 hours.

You can use a spoonful of your homemade yoghurt as the culture for your next batch, although after a few batches the culture will be weakened and you’ll need to start again with store-bought yoghurt.

how to make natural yoghurt | south by north

Advanced (but foolproof) method for making yoghurt.

You will need a litre of fresh milk, yoghurt culture grains and a yoghurt warmer or slow cooker. You will also need a sterilised jar if you use a slow cooker.

Heat and cool the milk in a sterilised pan, according to the instructions in the basic method. Instead of adding the tablespoon of yoghurt to the cooled milk, add some yoghurt culture grains to the milk and stir with a sterilised spoon. If you have a slow cooker (set on low, 40°C) or yoghurt warmer, pour the milk + grains into it and leave for 12 hours to incubate. After incubation, pop the yoghurt in the fridge to set for 8-12 hours.

I have a yoghurt warmer which I LOVE and have heard great things about using a slow cooker in the same way. It guarantees that the milk stays at the exact right temperature and I have never had a failed batch. The yoghurt culture grains give a thick, tangy yoghurt every time. For me this method is better purely because we eat so much yoghurt and I want to be sure it will always work. This is the yoghurt warmer and culture kit that I bought around 18 months ago, the same tub of culture is still going strong so it is worth the investment if you are going to be making this on the reg. You can also buy the culture on it’s own from the same website if you are going to use a slow cooker.

Oh and before I forget! If you use long-life milk you don’t have to bother with the heating and cooling, just go straight in with the spoon of yoghurt or culture. Booya.

five things I learnt from the konmari method.

the konmari method | south by north

As someone who ‘struggles’ to keep on top of my clutter and tends to leave my junk all over the house, I was pretty keen to read Marie Kondo’s cult book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to try and kick myself into shape.

When I finally read it it on our honeymoon I was just blown away by it’s simplicity, and immediately made David read it after me. He is very tidy and organised by nature so was also keen to give the method a whirl. The basic idea is to go through everything in your entire house in a certain order, discarding anything that doesn’t spark joy. Everything that you keep is stored properly and neatly in a designated spot, and when you open a drawer or cupboard you should be able to see everything inside without having to shift things and rummage around (she has some great methods for achieving this!).

Now, I am not going to rehash the full details of the KonMari method as you can find out about it all over the internet and frankly you should just read the book! What I would like to tell you is how it went for us. On our first free weekend after the honeymoon we decided to KonMari the flat (I know, #marriedlyfe) and get rid of the clutter once and for all.

It has now been about a month since we KonMari-ed, here are five things I learnt.

One | Messy people can be reformed.
Messiness is not part of my DNA! Hallelujah! This is actually a huge relief and a bit of a shock, as I was secretly always worried that I could never change. Over the years I have gotten a lot better and was by no means hideously messy, but I can confidently state that the KonMari method has totally reformed me. It’s like a switch has flipped and tidying is no longer a chore – everything has a place, and everything goes back in it’s place. So simple. Gah.

konmari method | south by north

Two | I don’t need three muffin tins.
If like me you make muffins approximately never you probably don’t even need one muffin tin, so please tell me why I owned three? Also, no one needs three sellotape dispensers. I honestly thought we just had one that kept spontaneously moving around – this is clearly a ridiculous state of affairs.
What I am trying to say here is that excess stuff is kind-of gross. David and I are neither hoarders (muffin tins and sellotape dispensers excluded) or insane consumers but we still managed to get rid of a fairly shameful amount of crap. Following the KonMari method really highlighted the items that ‘spark joy’ and what was ready to head out the door. It is a freeing but eye-opening process, and certainly makes you think twice about bringing more objects into your home in the future. If I contemplate buying something I find myself asking. ‘where will I put that?’ and ‘does it really spark joy?’. This tends to mean I leave empty-handed which is a lot better for my bank balance. 

Three | Having a tidy home makes you feel nice.
Since we tidied our house I feel like one of those people on an advert for fruit tea, all leisurewear and woollen throws and scented candles. Seriously though, I can’t stress enough how calming for the mind it is to know that there is no clutter in our flat. I can tell you where everything is, and we know exactly what we own. I truly feel more motivated and energised when I’m at home. Even getting dressed in the morning is more enjoyable – when I open my drawers and cupboard I can see everything inside (special KonMari folding and hanging techniques) and there are no more messy piles of t-shirts or three dresses on one hanger.  

konmari method | south by north

Four | Being messy is pretty annoying for everyone.
I hated being messy and I’m certain that David was not thrilled by it either. When your idea of tidy is not quite the same as your living partner’s, it can create really unnecessary stress for both sides. David and I never had full-blown arguments about tidying and clutter but it was definitely always a thing. Now, along with the clutter, that stress has practically disappeared and our tidiness levels are much more even.

Five | It’s good to appreciate the things you own.
Giving everything you own a proper place to ‘live’ and making sure that all of those things spark joy really makes you appreciate your stuff a lot more. I have been wearing more of my clothes, using more of my kitchen utensils and generally enjoying my things a lot more. Everything is easy to find and nothing is hidden away and being forgotten.  

It’s been about a month now and we are still going strong. Ok so the laundry is not always folded right away but still, that is a minor indiscretion compared to before. Dave has always been very tidy, so now he is just ultra tidy. I probably sound like a total crazy saying this, but sometimes I open the cupboards and drawers just to see how lovely and neat everything looks inside…yeah…can’t believe I am admitting that but there it is! I have well and truly drunk the (tidy) koolaid.

blood orange meringues with blood orange and passionfruit curd

blood orange meringues with blood orange and passionfruit curd | south by north

When you are lucky enough to acquire a brand new Kitchenaid and six blood oranges in the space of time between breakfast and lunch on a Saturday, you know that it’s going to be a great weekend. That was last weekend, folks.

There was really only one thing to be done – put the two together and make some blood orange meringues. And then when you realise that you also have some passionfruits and it really would be quite nice to have something to dollop on top of the meringues, well then you make curd.

Scroll down for the how-to.

p.s. I totally realise that this is the first time I’ve posted in four months. If you are reading this, thanks for sticking with me. I’ll be following up with a few thoughts on the future of this blog in the next week or so, but for now, yay new blog post!

blood orange meringues with blood orange and passionfruit curd | south by north

blood orange meringues with blood orange and passionfruit curd | south by north

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 110°C (or 230°F), then whip up some classic meringue. To make four individual sized meringues I used three eggs whites and six heaped tablespoons of sugar. To make more, just use two tablespoons of white sugar per egg white.

In your stand mixer (woohoo, I can finally say that!) whisk the egg whites until they are fluffy and have doubled in size. Add the sugar slowly, one tablespoon at a time and keep whisking until the sugar is fully incorporated. To check, stop your mixer, use a clean metal spoon to take out a tiny amount of mixture and rub it between your fingers. You shouldn’t be able to feel a lot of sugar grains. The meringue mix should be glossy, and stand up in stiff peaks.

While you mixer is mixing, squeeze the juice from three blood oranges. Once your meringue is ready add a couple of teaspoons of juice to the meringue mix, using a clean metal spoon to fold it through. Put the rest of the juice aside. Be careful not to add too much juice, as the liquid will mess with the structure of your meringue. The orange flavour comes through very strong so you really don’t need much.

Spoon mounds of meringue onto a tray lined with baking paper, using two metal spoons for dolloping and shaping (if needed). Did I mention you will need lots of metal spoons for this?!

Turn the oven down to 90°C or 194°F and bake the meringues on the middle shelf for 90 minutes.

In the meantime, make your curd. This was the first time I have ever made curd! It turned out really well. I followed this recipe, but I substituted half of the passionfruit pulp for blood orange juice. To get a pip-less curd like mine, push the passion fruit pulp though a fine mesh sieve.

Once baked and cooled, serve the meringues with a generous heap of curd, and prepare to see them disappear in five seconds flat.

happy monday links | seven

happy easter | south by north

We are finishing up a glorious four day weekend here in Australia, Easter holidays are the best. It has been a perfect mix of wholesome outdoorsy-ness (Blue Mountains hike and a quick ocean dip), achieving practical things (a whole load of wedding stuff) and lazing about (fiiiinally watching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix). Besides all of that, here are some things I have been clicking on recently:

– Beautiful watercolour rocks.
– The prettiest cake.
– I just can’t deal with how cute this bikini is.
– Fave instagram find this week.
– Oh hai.
– Love this colour palette.

Photo by me. Follow along on Pinterest to see more things I like.