baking

The delightful first birthday

In a way The Baby’s first birthday was the first day of the rest of our lives for both Mr G and I.  Playing around with icing, planning food, overcatering – my career hasn’t left any room for entertaining ever and I’m completely new at it.  I bought the Australian Women’s Weekly Vintage Birthday Cakes books from my childhood and went all out on the number 1 cake.

Here it is, freshly iced with buttercream icing that I watched a million YouTube videos on how to do because I had no goddamn idea.

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And here it is after I bombed it with a million decorations and spelled out her name (blurred) in silver balls that Mr G found in Woollies for me.

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I also made Nigella’s Nutella Cake from Domestic Goddess.  The ganache split but the hazelnuts hid it well.

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I’d never had honey jumbles as a kid (nor heard of them) but found this attractive looking recipe on Taste.com so thought I’d have a crack.  They were delicious and I’m told they were true to people’s childhood memories.  They are basically iced gingerbread renamed for some reason.  At some point when I’m less tired, I’ll start photoshopping my food photos to perfection like other blogs.

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Here’s one heavily filtered with the Instagram filters.  Those are peanut butter squares also from Domestic Goddess up the front.  They taste exactly like Peanut Butter Cups – it’s frightening.  And delicious.  Note the copious amounts of cheese and glass of champagne,  because as I quickly learned, the first birthday party is really for the grownups.

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And here’s the baby taking off because the grass is full of far more interesting things than a grownup has to offer!


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I can happily report that much champagne was drunk, the baby cried and fell asleep in her pram while the rest of us stuffed ourselves full of party food and reminisced about childhood and discussed handbags.  The little things are so brilliant so sometimes.

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Bake.

Donna Hay's Choc Peppermint Creams

Yes it was Valentines Day recently.  Yes I took the opportunity to stuff myself stupid, make something nice for my husband, and look at what I found in last years Donna Hay Christmas issue?  I should probably wax more lyrical about Donna Hay magazine.  I love it.  Say what you like about her, her magazine and cookbooks are simple and fantastic.  I don’t want to think about food.  I don’t want complicated.  I want to shove stuff in the oven or in a pot or on a pan and have it taste good.  Food snobs can go and live in another corner!  These turned out fantastic – although don’t bother using Lindt dark, they came out way too strong, and I’ll wager that it probably doesn’t even need dark chocolate in the cookie mix.  Don’t be lazy like me and chop the chocolate roughly, do it properly or melt it down.  Next time I’ll probably leave it out though, it overpowered the peppermint.  That didn’t stop me eating far too many and taking the rest to work to get the evil little bastards out of the house.  Here’s the recipe

Choc peppermint creams.

150g butter, softened
1/2 cup (90g) brown sugar
1/2 cup (175g) golden syrup
1 1/2 cups (225g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
1/4 cup (25g) Dutch cocoa, sifted
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda, sifted
200g dark chocolate, chopped
peppermint cream
2 1/2 cups (400g) icing (confectioner’s) sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 tablespoons milk

  1. Place the butter, sugar and golden syrup in an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until pale and creamy.
  2. Add the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda and beat until a smooth dough forms.
  3. Add chocolate pieces and mix until well combined. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes or until firm.
  4. Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).
  5. Roll 1 tablespoonful of the dough into balls at a time. Place on baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper and flatten slightly, leaving room to spread. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the tops are cracked. Allow to cool on wire racks.
  6. To make the peppermint cream, place the icing sugar, peppermint extract and milk in a bowl and beat with a hand-held electric mixer for 3-4 minutes or until smooth.
  7. Spread half of the biscuits with the peppermint cream and sandwich with remaining biscuits. Makes 18.

Donna Hay Magazine Issue 60

Vintage baking.

The exams from hell are over (I passed), and for a month there I was left feeling run over by a train, several trucks, and a medium sized campervan.  But with the last four weeks of uni left forever, and work soon to start in January, it’s time to forget all that and have some fun!

One of my favourite things to do is pore over The Barossa Cookery Book.  In a nutshell, this little gem was created to raise money for the soldiers, first in 1917, then again in 1932 for WWII (which is the edition I have).  It differs from other Australian cookbooks of the time (the food was extremely basic) in a major way.  The settlers of the Barossa were largely German.  Which means a large proportion, if not most, recipes in the book are steeply rooted in European heritage.  According to this article, a lot of the names of the recipes had to be changed from their German originals to more ‘Australian’ sounding ones given the anti-German sentiment at the time.  Imagine my surprise the first time I made ‘honey cookies’, and what came out was gingerbread!  And not just any gingerbread – according to the aforementioned article, it was a 16th century recipe for it.

Today I made ‘honeycomb cake’, and the beginning of the recipe it says ‘bienenstich’, which means bee-sting.  The only bee-sting cake I’ve ever seen has been a mile tall and stuffed with cream, but this is unfilled and more like a coffee-cake.  I Googled the German word, and discovered that this recipe is favoured by elderly German women, and that the cream filled version is a more modern take.  I’m a bit old fashioned in my tastes.

The recipes in the book aren’t for the faint-hearted.  They’re written in a sentence.  They expect you to know what a ‘moderate oven’ and ‘a little bit longer’ mean.  But I don’t mind – there’s no pictures, and you have no idea what you’re going to get.


This is me getting a bit arty with the camera.  The top of the cake caramelised and was chewy while the inside was dense and cakey.   I admit, it was a little dry – I assumed a moderate oven meant 180C but I’ll try 160 next time.


It was a minor complaint!  Did you know that Italians eat cake or cookies for breakfast (exercising portion control of course!) with a caffe latte or espresso?  For the rest of the day there is no sweets.  It makes sense in a way, if you eat your sugar and fat in the morning, you’re sure to use it!  If you eat it right before bed, what’s your body going to do with it?  We all know the answer to that!

Here is the recipe in it’s original form

Bienenstich:  Bake in a dish of which the rim can be taken off.  For Cake:  Three and one-third ozs butter, 3 and one-third ozs sugar, 1 egg, 1/2 lbs S.R. flour, 3 tablespoons milk.  Cream butter, sugar and egg.  Press the dough into dish about 1/4 inch thick.  For the Top of Cake:  Three and one-third ozs butter and sugar, 1 1/2 ozs finely grated almonds, essence of vanilla, 2 tablespoons milk.  Melt the butter, add other ingredients, let all boil up and pour over cake.  Bake in moderate oven for 1/2 hour (or a little more).  Should be made the day it is wanted.

Mrs. M Menz, Norwood.

Here’s what I did with that:

Cake

  • 95 grams butter
  • 95 grams sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 230 grams SR flour
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Topping

  • 95 grams butter
  • 95 grams sugar (I used brown, other recipes use honey)
  • 45 grams flaked almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/4 tsp vanilla paste)
  • 2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 160C.  Cream the butter and sugar then add the egg and mix until combined.  Add the milk, then the flour – it should be like a sticky dough.  Put into a cake tin with a removable base and pat out until it’s about half a cm thick.

For the top of the cake, melt the butter, then add the other ingredients, bring to the boil, then pour all over the cake.  Bake in the oven for about half an hour.

Enjoy!  (I may just, for breakfast!)