Lamington Cake

31 Jan 2011

After school my Mum used to drop by our local cake shop to pick up cakes for our afternoon tea. She'd always come home with lamingtons and jam tarts. What can I tell you about lamingtons? The story we were told is the lamington was developed by a chef working for Baron Lamington, the then Governor of Queensland. What did the chef devise? A sponge or butter cake enrobed in chocolate icing them rolled in coconut. Normally the cakes are served invidually rather than a single cake.

I did think about making some traditional lamingtons but the thought of being covered in chocolate icing and coconut up to my elbows wasn't too appealling so I made a lamington cake instead. 

I remember seeing a picture of this cake in Delicious magazine last year, so when I googled Lamington Cake and up popped this recipe I knew it would taste pretty good. Delicious magazine recipes are very reliable.

The base of the cake is a vanilla flavoured butter cake covered with a wicked dark chocolate ganache, then topped with coconut. Last Sunday was a really hot day so it was challenge getting the cake iced. As it was, I was covered in chocolate ganache by the time I'd finished.The kitchen cabinets were coated in chocolate, as were my top and skirt and I even found some ganache in my hair!

How was it received? The entire cake was gone just after lunchtime which was quick even by my test audience's standard, so I guess I'll be making it again for next Australia Day.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekends. I had a nice one myself. I went to a photographic exhibition, met a friend for dinner and tried out a new cookie recipe and then it was over!

Got to fly,


amsterdam here I come

28 Jan 2011

Guess where I'm going in June?

You guessed it, Amsterdam. It's been a long time since my last visit to Amsterdam so I bought Pia's book for a bit of inspiration. 

I'll be there for a week in June attending a conference followed by 4 weeks visiting London, Paris, Berlin and Croatia. I've not been to Berlin or Croatia before so I'm really looking forward to the holiday part of the trip. So far the only part of the trip that's booked is my stay in Amsterdam, so if you have any suggestions for things to see and do and places to eat in Amsterdam I'm all ears.

Have yourselves a lovely little weekend,


Happy Australia Day

26 Jan 2011

Hi every-one,

just a quick hello. Today is Australia Day so we're enjoying a public holiday here. It's stinking hot in Sydney today, so instead of going into the city to watch the celebrations, I'm heading out to catch a movie.

I'm leaving you with something special that I made for Australia Day, a Lamington Cake. Lamingtons are one of the few treats that actually originated in Australia. I'll blog about the cake in full on Monday cos I haven't had a chance to sample a piece of the cake yet and I've got to fly.

Enjoy the rest of your week,


Apricot Cake

24 Jan 2011

Normally apricots in Sydney are a bit hit and miss - a bit too much talk and not enough action. Not this summer though. Not only have they looked gorgeous, they've tasted gorgeous as well. I bought some from my local fruit shop last Friday and took them home with no plans other than to eat them.

Then I started thinking about my favourite plum cake recipe by Gretta Anna and wondered how the cake would taste if I made it with apricots?

Just like the plum cake, many of the apricots sank to the bottom of the cake ensuring the cake was nice and moist. The apricots themselves added a nice tang to the taste of the cake and the cake was deemed a success by my test audience.

I took a slice home with me and once I've finished this post I'm going to make myself a cup of tea and enjoy my slice. Thanks to the lovely girls from Miljo for the wooden board and butter spreader you see here which arrived in the Christmas post.

See you all again on Wednesday, which is Australia Day and keep emailing those suggestions for my new food feature

Bye for now,


Your Help is Requested

20 Jan 2011

I've been working on a new food feature for the blog. I plan to feature regular food that's either quick and easy to prepare or can be prepared in advance and reheated - the kind of food I prepare for myself. I'm still going to do loads of baking so don't stress that the cakes and cookies will disappear from the blog. I've done a bit of the photography already and I do seem to have a predilection for Italian food and food that's coloured red, white and green! There must be some Italian heritage in there somewhere.

I do need a catchy title for the feature though and I was wondering if my readers could help me out? If you have any great suggestions could you send me an email, as I don't have any bright ideas of my own. I'm open to suggestions.

Looking forward to reading your ideas,




19 Jan 2011

Can you guess what I've done? I've moved over to the other side.

Well actually, not completely. I spent all weekend installing a windows operating system on the mac. Why? Because the mac comes with very little software meaning I'd have to spend lots of money investing in new software. That seemed a bit silly when I already had copies of windows software. I also use some windows only programmes that can't be replicated. 

It took close to 11/2 days to install all the software and it was a bit painful at times but I'm just about organised now and I toggle between the 2 systems. The new computer is lightening fast and my photos do like nice on the screen. I've already found some things the mac does better and some things that can only be done on windows. So far it hasn't driven me crazy but who knows how I'll feel in a couple of months???

I'm meeting a friend for Turkish pizza tonight so I better go and get ready. I'll be back tomorrow with a plea for your help, so stay tuned.


Lemon Blueberry Puffs

17 Jan 2011

My Mum collects recipes and I've been doing the same since I was quite small. The trouble with having an uncatalogued recipe box is you don't quite know what's in there. Just before Christmas I went through the box and unearthed a few recipes I thought it was time to try.

I used to make choux pastry all the time but haven't in ages. Choux pastry is quite simple to make - you just have to follow the instructions to the letter. I also split the puffs or eclairs in half and scrape out all the uncooked mixture before returning them to the oven to dry out.

I unearthed a recipe for lemon blueberry puffs and thought it was time to start making it again. It also gave me an excuse to make some more lemon curd and you all know how much I like lemon curd. The puffs are just profiteroles filled with lemon curd and although I tried to track down a recipe for you, I couldn't find one that replicated the one I used. If you want to try making them at home, I used a 2 egg choux pastry recipe and a 3 egg lemon curd recipe.

Some food combinations are a natural and lemon works really well with blueberries.

The recipe made 16 puffs and I kept the ones you see on the blog for myself and took the rest into work. I made some that were filled with both lemon curd and whipped cream but preferred the lemon curd. I treated myself to one each night when I came home from work. Last week was such a rough week.

Lots of my work colleagues are still on holidays, so I thought it might take some time for the blueberry puffs to be consumed. They were all gone by day's end, which means they were given a big tick of approval. They can be a tough crowd at times, my workmates.

Although last week was a challenging and worrying one, I've decided it's time to get back to my normal routine, so I've been to the gym and here I am back blogging. My latest purchase from the Book Depository has just arrived, The Hare with Amber Eyes, so I have a new book to read as well. 

See you all again on Wednesday,


Brisbane Floods 2011

12 Jan 2011

I grew up in Brisbane and I'm old enough the remember a little of the 1974 floods. We were staying at the Gold Coast for our summer holidays and missed most of the worst because the road to Brisbane was cut by floodwaters. We were given an extra week's school holiday though so we were happy. Family friends were affected though. We took part in a working bee one weekend, clearing mud from what had been a beautiful home on the river's edge at Jindalee and I remember Mum bundling up clothing parcels for another family.

I now live in Sydney and like everyone else I've been watching the latest floods on tv. It's hard being far away and powerless to help out though Mum's been keeping me up to date with the local news and I've been emailing and texting friends to make sure they're okay. I'd planned a completely different post today but the subject of that post was forced to leave her home due to flooding, so the timing didn't feel right.

As the news has been so grim, I'll leave you with a bright and sunny photo I took in Brisbane just last year.


Cranberry, chocolate and macadamia nut shortbread rounds

10 Jan 2011

I had another post written but decided to post something that was a bit more colourful. I've just finished the last fruit mince pie and needed something quick and easy for my cookie tin. I once again turned to this recipe and adapted it to produce these cookies. I halved the quantities as I didn't want to make too many cookies and left out the ground nuts completely but I added an extra 1/4 cup of flour as the mixture was very soft. It was a wee bit too much flour, so I then had to add a teaspoon or two of milk to get the correct consistency.

To the base mixture I added a 1/4 cup each of chopped toasted macadamia nuts, dried sweetened cranberries, some dark chocolate chunks and a dash of cinnamon. You'll need to use a serrated knife to slice these babies evenly as it's a chunky mixture. I'd planned drizzling some extra chocolate over the top of the cookies when they were cooked but decided after they came out of the oven, that they didn't really need anything extra. I've tried one of the cookies and it was satisfyingly shortbready.

What could be better than freshly baked cookies with milk? Well freshly baked cookies with a cup of tea but that combination doesn't photograph as well!

I returned to the gym last week after a break for Christmas and I've just tackled my first full working week in a while. Working a 4 day week last week wore me out so I don't know how I'll feel after 5 days. Wish me luck.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekends,

See you all on Wednesday,


Mac Advice

6 Jan 2011

Many thanks to my lovely readers for their helpful suggestions. I still have a few questions yet to be answered so I think another visit to the Apple store in on this weekend's agenda. I'll keep you all posted!

In the Garden - Dungog

5 Jan 2011

It's been a while since I did an 'In the Garden' post. I don't get to Dungog all that often, I guess every 3 months or so. Last time I visited it was spring, this time it was summer. The garden changes so much with the seasons. The lime trees were heavy with fruit and the iceberg roses were in full bloom.

I needed some help with plant identification, but I was assured this was a crab apple tree.

I already knew this was a zinnia though.

Sometimes when things in the garden are a little past their prime, they are still beautiful.

Another burst of colour from the garden.

I need a bit of advice from my helpful readers. My p.c. is about to die and needs to be replaced. For the first time ever I've been looking at a mac. If I buy one, I'll need to buy new software as none of mine is mac compatible and I'll need to get familiar with a new operating system.

Should I jump ship or stick with what I know?


Christmas Cake 2010

3 Jan 2011

Have you heard about the Driver Reviver campaign? The drive from Brisbane to Sydney is more than 12 hours, so I stopped a few times for my reviving cup of tea. At the second stop, instead of a biscuit they were serving Lions Christmas cake. I normally forgo the biscuit but I gratefully accepted a piece of fruit cake.That piece of cake sustained me through the last 3 hours of the journey home.

Fruit cake is one of those cakes that you either love or loathe. I do like fruit cake but it must be moist and the worst review you can ever give a fruit cake is 'it's a bit dry'. I've been making the family Christmas Cake since I was 16 and I've only tried a handful of recipes in all that time. Our christmas cake is a rich dark fruit cake, a traditional cake we inherited from Britain. The fruit cake is a celebration cake used to make christening cakes as well as wedding cakes and is normally topped with marzipan and royal icing. Here is a recipe from Delia Smith - it's not the one I use but it's not dissimilar.

I made the cake at the end of November and took it home with me to Brisbane. My parents cut the cake a few days ago and it was given a tick of approval. My own slab has been wrapped and placed in the feeezer to prevent parental nibbling.

The recipe makes a bit too much batter to comfortably fit into a 9 inch tin so there's always enough left over to make a teeny tiny cake to tide me over.

So welcome to 2011, the start of a New Year. I brought the New Year in with friends down at the Manly Esplanade in Sydney watching the fireworks. It was a perfect night and a lovely way to see in the New Year. I hope you enjoyed your own New Year's Eve celebrations.

Meanwhile, spare a thought for my fellow Queenslanders who are battling massive floodwaters. I saw the flooding first hand on my drive home last week. It's truly heartbreaking,

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