Orange & Almond Brownie Recipe

Orange and Almond Brownie

Orange & Almond Brownie Recipe
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
So easy, it almost feels like cheating! Actually, I'm pretty sure it is cheating. Use Aldi's Moser Roth Orange & Almond Chocolate and you can't go wrong. Or some other good quality dark chocolate... but you get a lot of bang for your buck with the Aldi stuff!
  • 125g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 125g orange and almond dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 335g (1½ cups) white sugar
  • 115g (3/4 cup) plain flour
  • 30g (1/4 cup) Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
  1. Place butter and chocolate in a small pot, slowly stir and melt over a low heat.
  2. Set aside to cool whilst you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Quickly whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla extract together.
  4. Add the egg and sugar mixture to the cooled melted butter and chocolate.
  5. Continue to mix whilst adding the flour and cocoa till just combined.
  6. Don't over mix once the flour is in.
  7. Pour into a prepared 20cm brownie tin, buttered and lined with silicon paper.
  8. Sprinkle with sliced almonds to garnish.
  9. Bake at 180C for 30 minutes. Centre should be cooked but moist, edges should be crisp. Nuts should be lightly browned. If they start to burn cover the brownie with foil to continue cooking.
  10. Cool completely in the tin.
  11. Lift out silicon paper to slice into 16 pieces.
  12. Best made the day before you need them :-)

Orange and Almond Brownie

Juggling: my Splendid Sampler block!

Hi there! It’s been a while, I had the best intentions to do a lot more blogging in 2016. Oops. If you have a poke around you’ll see I’m not very good at the writing and documenting part of my creative life. Thanks for visiting me over here in the middle of a warm and sunny Sydney summer. Hope you are having a splendid day!

I assume some of you are here for tips on making Block 90 on The Splendid Sampler adventure. What a wonderful project Pat and Jane have put together, and can you believe we’re just 10 blocks shy of completing? I’ve been making some of the blocks along the way and now that I have a plan for sashing I’m more excited than ever to get cracking with it. I’ve made lots of sampler quilts, I really love them because there’s always something new and those little blocks are fun to make.

I'm setting my Splendid Sampler blocks with a jaunty & spiky sashing.

I’m setting my Splendid Sampler blocks with a jaunty & spiky sashing.

So, back to my little block… I’ve used some of my favourite techniques – applique circles, bias tape applique and wonky crosses. I love layering different techniques in a little block. But it can be a little daunting if you’ve never done something like this before. Working at a small scale also means I need to pay extra attention to extra bulk and staying inside the seam allowance.

As you read the pattern instructions you’ll see there are a few stages. I recommend you chunk it down to manageable parts if its the first time you try one of the techniques. Actually, even if you’re confident, take time to enjoy the process with a couple of cups of tea or a walk around the block…

choose fabric

Firstly, choose all your fabrics and gather your supplies. My suggested fabric quantities are generous so you can trim back your block. You’ll also see I use a metal 1/8″ bias tape maker. It came in a set which I bought online from California, I so wish I could get these easily locally. You may be lucky enough to have them at your local quilt store. But if not, you can carefully cut a strip of Mylar plastic. The metal bias bars get very hot and help form a nice crease, please be careful if you are using one.

I prefer using a metal bias bar and having a closed loop rather than an open bias tape because it is sturdier and I can manipulate it without worrying it will fray and lose the creases. It also stores nicely around a spool or wooden dowelling even in the most humid Sydney weather.

So grab your supplies and lets get started!

Prepare your 3 bias tape loops first. Cut your strips from an 8″ square of fabric. 3/4″ wide strips cut on the diagonal from the square.

cut bias strips

Press strips in half. Wrong sides together, be gentle not to stretch them.

press bias in half

Place bias bar inside the fold and mark where your seam should go. Don’t make it too snug or you won’t be able to slide the bar in and out. I use a generous 1/8″ seam.

stitch with correct seam allowance

Once you have stitched the strip and you are sure you can move the bias bar in and out, trim back the seam allowance to reduce bulk.

trim back seam

We’re nearly there… twist seam to the back and press it down. Remove the bias bar. Repeat for the two other bias tape strips.

press back seam

Wind them around your finger or a pencil to get them to curl a little. This will help you get nice tight loops to applique.

twist around your finger

Make sure you’ve got all your fabric pieces ready to proceed. Background, squares for circles and strips to insert.

bias tape ready

Trace the pattern lightly on to your background square. Trace the outside of the circles and one side of each loop. You will use this as a guide to place your applique. Make sure you leave plenty of room around the outside to centre your block. I also mark the corner points to help with trimming the block later.

trace pattern on background

Using little dots of applique glue, place your loops down on your background fabric. You can also use tiny applique pins or baste them down with thread.

applique glue

Using a colour that camouflages with your applique loop, stitch it down firmly. See the tails of the loops? They will be hidden behind the appliquéd circles. Trim them on the diagonal to make them less bulky.

applique loops

Now it’s time to prepare your juggling balls. This is a two step process. First we make the wonky crosses, then we trim them back to a circle to applique down.

Start with one of the square pieces of fabric and cut it randomly in half. Select which fabric strip you will be inserting.

cut square in half

Sew the strip to one half. Then stitch the other half of the square to it. Always using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

piece in strip

Cut this randomly across the strip you just set in. Choose your next fabric strip.
cut in half again

Stitch one side on first. Sewing the second side is a little trickier. You need to try to align the two sides, which is difficult with that pesky angled seam allowance in the way. I visually line it up as much as possible then fold over the seam allowance to check it. Sliding it up and down till its as good as I can get it.

fold over seam allowance to help align

Because I’m extra cautious I still don’t stitch the whole seam, I just sew the crucial middle of the seam bit first, flip it over and check it before stitching the whole lot. This may seam tedious but it’s not as tedious as having to unpick the whole thing!

stitch centre to check

Flipping over to the back of your wonky cross, trim or grade that top seam allowance. Usually we can press seams open to reduce bulky seams but the open seams stretch too much for these small circles.

grade seams

Grab your circle template and trace around it with a pencil. Check out those graded seams…

trace circle

Trim back your circle to a generous 1/4″ – 1/2″ seam allowance and stitch a running stitch around. Pull on the end of the threads to gather the circle around your template. Don’t cut your threads yet!

gather circle

To get a nice smooth circle ready to applique down I run some starch around the outside edge of the circle with a brush. Or you can put a little pressing liquid in a dish and roll the edge around quickly. Press the circle with a warm iron, be careful not to melt your plastic template!

starch edges

You can wrap a piece of foil around it if you like, that helps protect the plastic and holds the heat for longer to get a crisp edge.

wrap with foil

Repeat that for the two remaining circles and applique them down into place. Choose fine thread that disappears when you place it over your applique shape.

applique circles

When you are finished with all the applique, give it a light press and trim your block down to 6.5″.

trim block

And that’s another block done and ready to join the others! I hope you’ve learnt something new. We all have our favourite techniques and I know fiddly work isn’t for every one. You may want to skip making the bias tape loops and just applique ribbon or use embroidery to create the loops. And instead of those wonky juggling balls you can fussy cut some fun fabric circles…

Whatever you do, thank you for joining me for The Splendid Sampler. I look forward to seeing all your lovely blocks. And I’m eagerly awaiting The Splendid Sampler book that Pat and Jane are publishing with all the patterns so I can continue making more of these great blocks. It’ll be a lovely record of this fun project.

Here’s a photo of my original block that will appear in the book. In fact, I think it’s even on the cover. I can’t wait to see my block together with all the other Designer blocks!


I’m more of an Instagram girl these days, feel free to tag me if you have any questions. You can find me over there as lorena_in_syd. I know, sew original!

Happy stitching!

Lorena x

The Splendid Sampler

It’s no secret that I love a sampler quilt, in fact I think I may be a tiny bit addicted to little blocks that let me play with fabric in small chunks of time. If you also love projects that keep changing and surprise you with different techniques and fabric possibilities you may want to join The Splendid Sampler Sew Along.


This brilliant year long project is the brain child of two very talented designers, Jane Davidson and Pat Sloan. They’ve collaborated with over 80 exciting designers to bring you one hundred 6″ patterns over the course of a year. Patterns will be released every three or four days, allowing for holidays.

There’s a bunch of other big names in this collaboration, a handful of Aussies I love like Cat Demack, Jen Kingwell and Siobhan Rogers. Some long time favourite international designers like Kerry Green, Latifah Saafir and Victoria Findlay Wolfe. Actually, choosing just three to mention was hard, you need to check out the whole list!

And then there’s me. Hahaha, I’m certainly feeling like I’m punching above my weight with this and I’m intending to sew along and learn new stuff from all the other designers. And I’ll have to put more effort into this blogging caper… but it’s more likely that you’ll find me over in The Splendid Sampler Facebook Group (Currently 8,000+ members) or posting my progress on Instagram. Check out #TheSplendidSampler hashtag to see what everyone else is doing.

It all kicks off this Valentines Day (14th February) perfect to demonstrate the huge love that Pat & Jane have poured into this adventure. So what are you waiting for? Sign up is free over HERE!


They called it “Diet Pie”…

Diet Pie
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
So named at quilt class, cause there are no calories whilst stitching, right?
  • 3 medium granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons currants
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves, ground
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon plain flour
  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  • egg and milk wash
  1. Simmer apple, water, lemon juice, sugar and currants for 5 minutes till apples are tender but still hold their shape. Watch they don't burn! Add a tablespoon of water if that looks likely!
  2. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon, cloves, walnuts and flour.
  3. Cool completely.
  4. Cut pre-rolled pastry into two large circles. Use the biggest plate or bowl you can and a sharp knife.
  5. Place one circle on a sheet of baking paper on a flat baking tray.
  6. Top with apple filling, keeping 1" clear around the edge and press it level.
  7. Place the other circle on top and press the edges together till sealed.
  8. Using a small bowl, trace a faint circle in the centre.
  9. Then with a sharp knife cut out from the circle forming 16 slices.
  10. At this point you may need to chill the pastry again if it's a bit floppy before proceeding, place baking paper with tart/ pie on a plate into the fridge or freezer to firm up the pastry a bit. When cooled slide paper back onto baking tray
  11. Next, turn each slice on its side to expose the filling.
  12. Brush lightly with beaten egg and milk.
  13. Bake at 200C for 30 minutes till golden and puffed, if browning too quickly you may need to turn down your oven a bit.
  14. Allow to cool on a rack before serving.
They called it Diet Pie...

They called it Diet Pie…

Diet Pie

Sydney Quilt Show 2015

Wingdings: A Variety of Symbols by Lorena Uriarte. Inspired by the back side of Chuck Nohara's Symbol Quilt.

Wingdings: A Variety of Symbols by Lorena Uriarte. Inspired by the back side of Chuck Nohara’s Symbol Quilt.

Oops, it’s only when I saw my quilt in Quiltmania this week that I realised a massive oversight on my part. Seems I forgot to write about my most exciting quilty event of the year! The Quilters’ Guild of NSW’s annual Sydney Quilt Show, a member’s show with over 400 quilts in various categories and displays was on 17-21 June. It’s now months ago but it’s probably a good idea to document the event, especially since I won something and so did many of my friends.

There was a spectacular Red & White Challenge this year, over 140 Red & White quilts hung together in a brilliant display of ability and creativity. I had worked diligently to complete a quilt I’ve been wanting to make since 2012, a red & white version of Chuck Nohara’s Symbol Quilt. The original Symbol Quilt is double sided, with the red & white blocks on the back (see photo below).

My quilt really was an adventure, I’ve never made a two colour quilt before and I found it challenging. I was glad when it was finished and very grateful that Michele Turner was quilting it. I really needed a break from it. And it took months for me to pick a fabric for the binding. In the end I was really happy with how it looked and it won First Prize in the Machine quilted Category of the Red & White display. Hooray! Thank you to the sponsors Quiltsmith, Sew Easy, Tech2Home and Nestle for my amazing assortment of prizes.

Some photos of Windings: A Variety of Symbols. Not great ones. This may be why I haven’t written this post before!

IMG_2498 IMG_0143 IMG_0888 IMG_1311 IMG_1453 IMG_1495

I also entered a second quilt in the Modern Category, Under the Sea a variation of my Opal Essence quilt pattern. There’s an embarrassing amount of teal and aqua in my stash. This quilt documents much of it!


Like most of my quilts, they all end up in use or display around our home. Adding some colour to gloomy days or a warm wrap when it’s chilly!

Under the Sea & Rainbow Reverb quilts adding colour to a gloomy day...

More on the Sydney Show soon… in the meantime you can see all the prize winning quilts in The Quilters’ Guild of NSW Gallery.



Alfajores de Maicena





Alfajores de Maicena
Recipe type: sweet treat
Cuisine: Argentina
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24
A light and crumbly shortbread, filled with caramel and rolled in coconut. Perfect with coffee!
  • 85 grams butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon rind
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 ¼ cup cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • extra cornflour for rolling pastry
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup Dulce de Leche (a tin of sweetened condensed milk, covered with water and boiled for 3 ½ hours)
  1. Cream the butter, sugar, lemon rind and vanilla essence with an electric mixer until smooth (1 to 2 minutes)
  2. Beat in whole egg till combined
  3. Mix through ¼ cup plain flour and then the egg yolk
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir mixture to combine
  5. Sift the rest of the flour, cornflour and baking powder into the mixing bowl
  6. Stir with a wooden spoon till a dough forms (do not over mix)
  7. Scrape the dough out, form intoa disc and cover with cling wrap, chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge
  8. Grease two baking trays and heat oven to 180C
  9. Dust a little cornflour on the bench and a rolling pin
  10. Roll out the dough to ½ cm thin and press out discs using a 5cm biscuit cutter
  11. Gather scraps of dough, roll out and cut as many discs as possible from the dough
  12. Lay biscuits on greased baking trays and place in the oven
  13. Cook for 8-10 minutes till the bottoms are cooked but the tops are still creamy white
  14. Allow to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack
  16. Top one biscuit with a small teaspoon of dulce de leche and top with another biscuit
  17. Squeeze together till a little caramel oozes from the sides, smooth along the outside of the biscuit
  18. Place desiccated coconut in a bowl and roll around the edges of the alfajores to cover with coconut
  19. Yield: 24 small alfajores

alfajores filling

my cheaty appliqué “thircles”

Yes, you read right. Thircles. You may already know that a squircle is the shape somewhere between a square and a circle but what’s a thircle?

If you’ve seen my Opal Essence quilt you’ll notice that all the circles are made up in thirds. The first quilt was made by appliquéing the third of a circle on to a diamond shape. A simple way to make sure you get a smooth circle is to use a template under your appliqué piece. The great thing about using this technique with a thircle (tee-hee, it still makes me giggle!) is that you can easily remove your template and reuse it.

My template of choice for this technique is a really smooth, bump free freezer paper template. You trace your pattern piece on to freezer paper and cut it out very carefully.

My cheaty applique thircle how to…

1. Press your freezer paper template to the wrong side of your fabric. As you will be folding the fabric over the template to appliqué try to place the curved edge on the diagonal grain. The stretch that lies here on the bias helps to create lovely soft curves with less bumps and folds.

2. If you are fussy cutting and placing the paper on the bias isn’t possible, consider using the fabric in a larger thircle. A larger, gentler curve is more forgiving with stiff fabric.

3. Next, use a ruler with a 1/4″ marking to add your seam allowance to the straight edges of your thircle shape. Cut with a rotary cutter or scissors. I love using an Add-A-Quarter ruler for this step. Using scissors cut a generous 1/4″ seam allowance around the curve.


4. Use a fabric glue stick to keep the seam allowance tucked under. Use a fine line of glue, about 1/8″ away from the curved edge of the freezer paper. That will help when it comes to sewing the shapes down and will also reduce the chance of your fabric fraying along the raw edge.


5. Match the seam allowance of your thircle with the corresponding point of your diamond background. Pin or lightly glue your shape into place. I like to pin along both seam allowances where there’s no freezer paper.


6. Using a thread colour that disappears appliqué the piece down. Use small stitches and pull the thread a little to hide it.

7. Once the shape is appliquéd down, trim away your background with scissors leaving a generous 1/4″ seam.

8. Finally, whip out your freezer paper template to reuse. The less glue you use, the easier it is to remove and reuse the papers.


Now that your thircles are appliquéd down, you can piece your diamonds into a hexagon and fan your centre seam.


2013-08-26 14.51.09

I’ve been teaching workshops using this appliqué technique as well as the machine pieced thircles and most students are surprised by how much they enjoy the process. The smaller thircles are definitely less stressful if you appliqué them. The larger thircles can be rotary cut and machine pieced pretty quickly and painlessly. You can even mix both techniques in your quilt, maybe stick to one technique in each block though…

Hope that helps someone out there too afraid to try appliquéd curves. Let me know if you have any questions!




Pie baking weather

Brr, the chill has descended here in Sydney. Pie baking weather, heat the house by turning on the oven for an hour. Win/win!

Apple, rhubarb and strawberry pie

5.0 from 1 reviews
Rustic Apple, rhubarb and strawberry pie
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Rustic
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
An easy pastry recipe that can be adapted for savoury tarts and pies. It has a lovely soft crumb, like fine shortbread. I make it in the food processor but you can rub in the cold butter with your fingers quickly.
  • 200 grams plain flour
  • 125 grams unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar mixture
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold water
  • 3 medium size apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • ½ lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 bunch rhubarb, washed, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths
  • ½ punnet strawberries, rinsed, hulled and cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • ½ cup regular sugar
  • 1 teaspoon plain flour
  • ⅓ cup slivered almonds (optional)
  • ⅓ cup caster sugar for sprinkling
  • icing sugar to garnish
  • cream, custard or ice cream to serve
  1. To make the pastry:
  2. Place flour, icing sugar and butter into the bowl of a food processor.
  3. Pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the egg yolk and a couple of tablespoons of water.
  5. Pulse quickly and then turn out onto a lightly floured bench.
  6. Press the mixture into a ball, it should form a firm dough and stick together. If not, you may need a little more water, not more than a tablespoon at a time or it can get sticky and unmanageable.
  7. Press dough into a flat disc, wrap and refrigerate whilst you prepare your filling.
  8. The recipe work best if you can chill this for ½ hour or more so I often make this ahead of time.
  9. Apple, rhubarb and strawberry filling:
  10. Place rhubarb, apple slices,lemon juice and zest into a saucepan. Cook gently for 5 minutes.
  11. Add ½ cup sugar and vanilla and heat till sugar dissolves.
  12. Set aside to cool.
  13. Roll out your pastry:
  14. Using a rolling pin, roll out the pastry into a loose circle till it's about 35cm across.
  15. Butter a 20cm glass or metal pie dish and drape pastry into the dish, letting the excess pastry hang over the edges. Place it on to a metal oven tray and chill for 15 minutes to allow the pastry to relax again. (It is stressful work being rolled flat you know!)
  16. Heat the oven to 190C whilst you assemble the pie.
  17. Fill the pie crust with the cooked apple and rubharb mix, sprinkle with teaspoon of plain flour.
  18. Place cut strawberries on top.
  19. Sprinkle with slivered almonds.
  20. Bring edges of pastry up and over the pie in soft folds.
  21. Sprinkle the top of the pie with the extra caster sugar.
  22. Place pie with the oven tray underneath in the oven (to catch any drips) and bake for 20 minutes when it should be golden. Cover the top of the pie loosely with foil to prevent scorching and to cook the bottom evenly. Cook a further 20 minutes and remove the foil, if the pie needs a little more cooking and browning leave it in there a little longer. My pies took an hour to cook nicely, could be the size of my oven or the position of the rack, every oven is different!
  23. Serve warm, dusted with a little icing sugar and some cream, ice cream or custard for the ultimate indulgence. Enjoy!


Modern Quilt Show Australia, Kiama

Long overdue blog post number 2 this week. As Miranda’s mum would say, “bear with”!

Topic: Modern Quilt Show Australia, hosted by Wollongong MQG in Kiama, 30th & 31st May.

modern qult show flyer

Okay, right off the bat… I couldn’t attend this show as I’d absentmindedly booked myself out to teach in Brisbane this weekend. Rookie mistake. I will be making this show a priority in my schedule in the future as I heard so many wonderful things about it by those who did attend. Great vibe, exciting quilts, engaging discussions about where modern quilting stands today in Australia.

So, my only means of participating were by submitting two quilts for inclusion in the show. I have to congratulate the hardworking selection panel who picked the quilts to hang in this show, only the second time this event has been held. It’s a lot of work and not all the decisions are easy. From what I could see on social media that weekend and follow up blog posts, the show was a great success. Yay!

When I put my two quilts forward for inclusion they weren’t (ahem) actually finished, but I didn’t expect to have two accepted so I hedged my bets. I guessed which one would be accepted and started quilting that one. Then I received a notification that both were in and I frantically got to finishing them off. To put this in perspective I’d been busy finishing two quilts for the Sydney Show and wrangling together a GWSMQG group quilt entry too. In short, the house got very messy, and I probably wasn’t super social!

squircles mosaic

I was really happy with my finished quilts, Squircles was started at Quiltcon back in February in Carolyn Friedlander’s Aerial Grove class. I really, really loved making this quilt. I loved the freedom of not using a template or marking pen for the applique technique, I loved finding a variety of prints that would let the gorgeous Lecien yarn dye in the centre shine and I loved piecing the whole thing together like a jigsaw puzzle without referring to a pattern.

The improvisational quilting was a steep learning curve as I’d never tried portioning up a quilt top before and using a different pattern of straight line stitching in each section. It did break the job up and it made it less boring, which seems to be my main issue with quilting. It was still hard to wrangle though, 78″ x 78″ is not a huge quilt but it was still rather hefty to push through a domestic sewing machine. When I had finished both entries I treated myself to some hand quilting watching Carolyn’s Handwork Is Fun Webinar on the MQG website (members only). What a treat!

floors mosaic

My second entry was a folly, a spur of the moment idea whilst scrolling through one of my favourite Instagram feeds “I Have This Thing With Floors”. I came upon an image of a tiled floor that I imagined I could make by simply using pre printed stripes. This was my fastest quilt top EVER, I’m working on a pattern for this quilt top so I’ll keep you informed…

I was thrilled to have both my quilts included in the Modern Quilt Show and so excited to hear that I Have This Thing With Floors got a Judges Commendation. Completely unexpected! Nothing for Squircles but it is now one of my favourite quilts! Here’s a list of all the winners.

squircles couch

I did have a hand in a few other winning quilts at the show: Our GWSMQG group quilt won 2nd place in the Group category, My daughter Sofia won 1st Place in the Youth category and another group quilt made with the fun gals I went to QuiltCon with earlier this year won 3rd place.

Thank you to all the organisers and sponsors of the Modern Quilt Show, it’s an exciting time to be a quilter and you are helping to get the word out there x

Phew, long post. One more to come this week. You have been warned…