Friday, January 28, 2011

Australia Day

The 26th January is Australia Day. This is the day the British arrived in 1788 to form a penal colony. While this date may cause some controversy in different circles, it is the day we all celebrate being Australian, the Australian way of life and how lucky we are to live in such a fabulous country.

This year, we went to Greg's parents for a family lunch for 17. My Mum came too. It was an absolutely scorching hot day, high 30's, but luckily their house is air-conditoned :)

For the main meal, we had pork spare ribs, potato salad, green salad and sesame beans, with each family bringing a dish. My mum's potato salad is really good, but no matter what I do, it's never quite as good as hers!

Australia Day Lunch 2011

I was asked to bring a cake as it was also the opportunity to celebrate 5 family members' birthdays in January and February. As it turned out, we had 3 desserts!!

I kept it simple, using my  dairy free vanilla recipe and the butter frosting. To decorate I used coloured M&Ms representing different aspects of Australia
  • Yellow - sun and sand
  • Orange - sunset
  • Red - sunset and land
  • Brown - land
  • Green - grass and trees
  • Blue - sky and water

Australia Day Cake 2011

It was a really pleasant way to spend the day :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Birthday Baking

As if this time of year isn't busy enough, we had to go and have 2 children in January! At least now the parties are all over, the school year can start and I can get my business really up and running, especially since Sophie starts school this year!!

So once again, they could decide on which cake design they wanted. Amy only had a playdate with 2 friends instead of a party but she still had to have a cake. She chose a Donna Hay frangipani cake from her 2009 kids' issue magazine, using my dairy free vanilla cake recipe. Well, what a huge cake! 3 round cakes were needed, I bought a smaller tin than what she had in her recipe and it was still huge ! I had to use the lid off a plastic storage tub to put it on as it was too big for any of my trays! She thinks it serves 12-14. What is her serving size? The meringue icing was fabulous, but again, it made far too much.

Frangipani Cake

Sophie had a Pooh Bear party. I really don't know how she became so obsessed with him but at least he is cute and more age appropriate than some other characters! Her cake was super easy. She wanted a plain cake with a store bought Pooh Bear edible icing decoration on top of orange icing. Yes, her favourite colour is still orange. The decoration has instructions that it is best to put it on fudge icing made with "icing sugar, margarine and water beaten until fluffy". Well, no quantities were given and when I made it with the dairy free spread it all separated and was quite revolting so I made my normal butter icing and put the decoration on just when it was time for the cake at the party.

Pooh Bear Cake

I've just realised I didn't post a photo of her cake from last year! She ended up not wanting the fairy princess cake, opting for a butterfly, so long as it was mostly orange!

Butterfly Cake

Monday, January 24, 2011

Basic Cake and Icing Recipes

I have finally settled on a recipe for a basic cake and icing. The cake can be made dairy free by substituting the butter for a dairy free spread. I have found the Nuttelex Kosher to be fabulous! It makes a wonderfully light and fluffy cake. The same can not be said for using it for the icing! Major disaster! I'll stick to the butter icing or Donna Hay's meringue frosting. (p102 in her 2009 kids' issue magazine)



150g unsalted butter / dairy free spread
150g caster sugar
1tspn vanilla extract
2 eggs
150g unbleached self-raising flour

  • Cream butter and sugar.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Add one egg, combining well before adding the next egg.
  • Add flour and mix lightly until batter is light and fluffy.
  • Add to greased tin or patty cases for cupcakes and bake at 180ºC until golden and cooked through.

Cooking times - 10 - 12 minutes for cupcakes
                        - 30 - 35 minutes for 20cm round



100g icing sugar, well sifted to remove and lumps.
50 g cold unsalted butter
1/4 tspn vanilla extract
Colourings of choice

  • Combine butter sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Colour as needed, making sure not to add to much colouring as it does change the consistency of the icing.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Nana's Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding

2 Christmases ago I decided I wanted to make a Christmas pudding and the only one to make is the one my Nana made! I don't actually like pudding but there is something about the smell and the ceremony around it. Growing up, there were sliver coins in the pudding but I don't own any and apparently jewellers are no longer allowed to sell the silver tokens that were for sale for a while because they are a choking hazard!! Really!! I only have vague memories of those Christmases being the youngest grandchild and the age difference between my father and his siblings.

Although Nana lived until 101, I was never given her recipe and neither was my mother.  An email to my cousin and the recipe was handed on. I am not going to put the recipe on here but keep it in my Christmas folder. Given it was never handed out freely, I feel as if I can't.

Having now made it for 2 Christmases, I must say, I LOVE the recipe, it really is quite easy but I still don't like pudding!! With the mix that doesn't fit in the pudding basin, I make cupcakes and bake them and those I really do like! I wonder if it is the whole boiling thing? ( I seem to only have photos of unbaked ones... )

Pudding Cupcake

So this year I made a double batch since it would be for serving 20 people. Not sure I needed that much but it was fun. (We ended up having a the spare small one in the new year with Greg's family). One thing I discovered is that the container the fruit is left to brew in makes a difference to the potency of the alcohol! This is not a recipe that calls for a couple of tablespoons of brandy, oh no, we're talking good size measurements of brandy and rum! Normally I put the fruit in my big stainless steel bowl and cover it in cling film. For the second batch, I put it in my stockpot, covered with cling film AND the lid. Oh boy! That pudding was VERY strong!

Flaming Pudding
Well, you can't see the flames but there is a puddle of brandy on top!

We served the pudding flaming with brandy and an icecream pudding made by someone else.

Pudding with Ice Cream Pudding

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Spiced Biscuits

Spiced Biscuits

We were running low on food in the house and Mum was calling in for a cup of tea. Time to make some biscuits! With limited staples in the pantry, I think these turned out really well and will become a regular I think! The spices can be adjusted to taste, the pattern on top can be there or not and they are really quick. The recipe makes about 24 - depends on how much is taste tested while rolling - which are slightly crispy on the outside and softer on the inside.



50g butter
50g brown sugar
100g golden syrup
150g self raising flour
1 tspn ground ginger
1 tspn mixed spice
1 tspn ground cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to moderate, 180ºC.
  • Place butter, brown sugar, and golden syrup in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until butter has melted.
  • Remove from heat and cool slightly - about 5 minutes.
  • Add flour and spices to the butter mixture and stir to combine.
  • Make heaped teaspoonfuls into balls and flatten slightly using the back of a spoon or be fancy and put fork marks on top!
  • Bake for 10 minutes until golden, cool for 3-4 minutes on tray then transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pea and Ham Soup

Wow, been a while between posts! Missed all the Christmas cooking and Amy's birthday. Never mind, got lots to catch up on then!

I'm not going to stress too much this year, as one of my New Year resolutions, I am going to be kind to myself! I am not going to feel guilty about not eating a 100% organic diet since with the price of food here about to go through the roof, it will be about eating well on a budget and supporting the Australian farmers any way we can! My craft business will hopefully bring in some revenue during the year :) Once the girls are at school, that should be easier to do! I can't believe Sophie starts school in 3 weeks!

So Christmas was lovely and as usual, we had a lovely big ham and therefore a lovely big ham bone to play with afterwards!! We LOVE pea and ham soup here so another big batch was cooked up. No, it's not the best weather for soup in Australia at the moment, being summer, but I'm not really sure there's much else you can do with a a ham bone! This recipe does make a lot as we had a whole ham leg.

I found the recipe I was meant to post last year (oops!) and made it again. Yummy!!

Pea and Ham Soup with homemade Rye Bread



Ham bones and ham from bones
2 small onions
1 Tblspn Massel Vegetable Stock powder / 1 cube
3.5L boiling water
250g yellow split peas
250g green split peas
3 tspns ground cumin


  • Remove any excess ham from the bones and chop up.
  • Break up the bones at the joints and place into a large stock pot.
  • Brown the bones and ham pieces.
  • Add boiling water - approx. 3.5L - to cover the bones.
  • Add chopped onions and stock powder / cube, cover and bring to the boil.
  • Check occasionally to skim off and fat and scum from the top.
  • When the meat is soft and coming away from the bones, remove bones from pot, take meat off and add it back to the pot. Discard bones.
  • Wash and drain peas.
  • Add peas to the pot, cover and return to the boil.
  • Continue to remove scum from the top and stir occasionally to stop the peas from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • As the peas begin to soften, add cumin.
  • Leave to simmer, covered until the peas are soft and soup has thickened.
  • Add more boiling water if soup becomes too thick or a thinner consistency is required.
  • Serve with fresh, crusty bread.