Jam Drops

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Jam drops, sweet old fashioned jam drops have been in my biscuit making rotation for what seems like a long long time.  I know I’ve been making them since having children as page in the recipe book the recipe comes from has been drawn on (several times) by small children wielding pens.  

They’re a particular favourite in our house and everyone even our autistic son who’s super fussy about the food he eats, loves them.

They are so simple to make and have never let me down. This is my my tired and true recipe which I add coconut too, but that optional and you can leave it out if coconut isn’t your thing.

 

Jam drops – recipe adapted from The Country Women’s Association of Australia Country Classics

125g softened butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 cups self raising flour

2/3 cup desiccated coconut

Strawberry jam (or whatever other jam you fancy)

 

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar together.  Add eggs one at time and beat them in well.  Mix in sifted flour, then coconut.

Roll into balls about the size of a walnut and flatten slightly.  Using  end of a wooden spoon dipped in flour make a hole in each biscuit (its best if you kind of move the end of the wooden spoon around to make the hole a bit bigger then the size of the wooden spoon handle).

Fill holes with jam

Bake for 10 to 15 mins, then cool for a bit on trays before moving to cooling rack.

Enjoy

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Vanilla Slice

Next in my adventures in baking the great Australian classics – Vanilla Slice

confession until I made vanilla slice I’d only eaten it once and wasn’t overly impressed.

From what my friend Wikipedia tells me it’s based on a Mille Feuille. This is alternating layers of puff pastry and cream patisserie. A vanilla slice is a simplistic version of this – puff pastry on the bottom, a layer of delicious custard, topped with puff pastry and covered in delicious icing/

This recipes also for those who claim they can’t make custard, because its super easy and you can make custard.

puff pastry action

simple ingrediants for custard

all coming together in

Vanilla Slice

2 sheets puff pastry defrosted

2eggs

5 tbls corn flour

3 cups of milk

3 tbls sugar

2 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 cup passionfruit pulp

2 cups icing mixture

preheat oven to 180 degrees

Prick puff pastry with a fork and place in oven. Bake until golden.

cut to size to fit in tin (in this case I used a square cake tin). line tin with a strip of foil or baking paper longer than width of tin (you need it over hang edges of tin). place one sheet of puff pastry on bottom of tin

Whisk eggs cornflour and milk in saucepan. heat over medium heat until it starts to become thick, then whisk in sugar and vanilla. You need the custard to be pretty thick so keep whisking until I gets there.

Pour custard into puff pastry lined tin. {Place second sheet of puff pastry on top.

Put passionfruit pulp into a bowl then mix in 1 cup of icing mixture, keep adding icing mmixture4 a little bit at a time till you get a thick icing, Spread icing over puff pastry. Place in fridge to set

Cut up, eat enjoy

*** if you want to make a pouring custard follow directions above but only use 3 tbls cornflour & 1 tsp vanilla, and heat till it coats back of spoon

*** you can replace passionfruit icing with icing of choice if passionfruit is not your thing

Sausage Rolls

Everyone can make sausage rolls right, there an Australian classic? Yeah maybe not me. Up until now I’d tried several times to make them with varying degrees of failure. At hearing this people just look at me like I’m crazy and tell me “but they are sausage rolls, they’re so easy to make”.

Based on a conversation like this I set myself a mission to successfully make sausage rolls. I put the call out for hints, tips and recipes for making them and people gave me loads of advice and recipes.

So now I had the problem of lots of recipes. In the end I went with 3 recipes, thinking that at least 1 of them would work out

Guess what they all worked out!!!!

Ingrediants at the ready

The first one I selected was one a delightful colleague at work gave me. it seemed pretty basic, 500g sausage meat, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, herbs and bread crumbs tolled up in puff pastry. How’d it taste? pretty good

The second one was the famed recipe of a friend’s mother. It was pretty basic 500g combination of beef mince and sausage meat, onion, garlic and some dried thyme rolled in puff pastry. How’d it taste? again pretty good

The third one was the Annabel Langbein’s lamb, rosemary and apple sausage rolls. How’d these taste we these were the winners (only just).

Lamb, rosemary and Apple Sausage Rolls recipe adapted from Annabel Laingbein’s The Free Range Cook

400g lamb mince

250g sausage meat

1 apple unpeeled and grated

2 eggs

1 small onion grated

1 clove crushed garlic

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1/2 tsp chopped rosemary

1 tsp tomato sauce

2 sheets frozen puff pastry defrosted

preheat oven to 200 C

combine lamb mince, sausage meat, apple, onion, 1 egg, garlic, parsley, rosemary and tomato sauce in a bowl (I just used my hands to mix it all up).

Place mixture along one side of puff pastry roll up to enclose the filling.. I basically just putt filling along one side then rolled it up in whole sheet.

Cut into desired sizes, make a couple of slashes on top of each sausage roll.  Beat remaining egg and brush on top of each sausage roll.

Put onto oven tray and into oven and bake for 35 mins or until golden (which if you have an oven like mine is closer to an hour). They release a bit of fat/liquid soak this up about 10 mins before they are ready to let them really crisp up.

Then eat and enjoy. I also froze these and they defrosted and reheated in the oven really well.

Lamingtons

When I first thought of the idea of baking all the classic Australian baked goods the first thing that came to mind was Lamingtons. Almost everyone else suggested pavlova but not me. Come Australia day everyone’s serving pavlova but I’m handing out Lamingtons.

I mean what’s not to love, it’s perfect cake covered in chocolate icing then rolled in coconut. I like them so much I’ll even eat the ones you get pre-packaged from the supermarket. But we all know homemade is best.

I won’t lie they can be fiddly and a bit messy to make . You also need 24 hours to make them. This is because you need to freeze the cake. What’s that skip, why freeze the cake? Well you can ice the outside of a cake pretty well as soon as its cooled from the oven, but cut the cake and icing is not a fan of sticking to the crumbly insides. However freeze the cake and voilà the cut sides aren’t crumbly when frozen.

So righty O let’s make lamingtons

You’re going to need cake which is going to need butter and sugar

we’re adding the usual eggs, vanilla, milk and flour and mxing with our butter and sugar

an assitant in the form of a child is good and enhances the whole messy factor

chocolate icing!!

Lamingtons – recipe adapted from Super Food Ideas April 2002

Butter cake

125g butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs (room temp is best)

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 cups SR flour

1/2 cup milk

Preheat Oven to 180 degrees C

cream butter and sugar together

add eggs one at time beating well after each egg. Beat in Vanilla

add 1/2 the flour, then 1/2 the milk. The repeat with remaining flour and milk. Mix until all combined.

pour batter into baking paper lined 18 x28 cm slab tin

Bake for about 30 mins or until a skewer comes out clean

Turn out onto a wire rack. Once cool wrap in cling wrap and freeze

Just before you need to ice them, take cake out of freezer and chop into desired sizes (usually square)

Chocolate icing

500 g icing sugar

1/3 cup cocoa

1/2 cup milk

15 g butter chopped

4 cups desiccated coconut

sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a heat proof bowl. Add milk and butter

stand bowl over a saucepan of hot water. Stir until all combined and nice and smooth

Holding each piece of cake on a fork one at a time dip them in the icing until completely covered in icing. Let excess drip off then roll in coconut.

place on rack to let icing harden slightly (essentially you need to be able pick the lamingtons up without getting totally covered in chocolate icing).

You can vary it by cutting pieces of the un iced cake into 2 spreading jam or cream (or both) between the 2 halves then sandwiching back together and ice as above

Store in an air tight container.

Pavlova

I’m not a big fan of pavlova. Yeah its un Australian to admit it, but it’s just not my thing.

Now we have that confession out the way, I’ll also confess I’ve only made pavlova 3 times, including making it for this blog post.

Why am I making it if I don’t really like it. Well it all starts with last Christmas. We were hosting 20 + people at our house for lunch. If you’ve been to our house you can kind of understand this was a feat in itself (we have a small house). So because re arranging the whole house and cooking a meal for 20 people wasn’t enough of a challenge I thought I should serve Pavlova. I mean it’s the quintessential Australian desert (or maybe it’s from New Zealand, I’m not even going to go into that argument), perfect for summer and Christmas.

So I studied a few recipes, did a test Pavlova, took it to work where everyone said it was great. Was feeling confident. Well….

I was planning to make the pavlova Christmas eve and put the cream and fruit on it on Christmas day. Fairly sound plan, except with so much to do I only remembered the pavlova at 11:30pm Christmas eve. I mean that’s ok. We had so much else to do we’d be up till 2am anyway. So I go to make the pavlova and immediately stuff it up by adding the sugar to egg whites without whipping the egg whites up. Ok, stress levels starting to rise, I was down to my last 6 eggs. So I give it another attempt. no mistakes, it turns out perfectly. I leave it in the oven to cool as the recipe states.

Now for breakfast Christmas morning we have croissants for breakfast. I stick the oven on to cook them, get distracted, come back 15 mins later to put croissants in oven, opps pavlova is still in there. Ok it’s now kinda double cooked but still seems ok. So we move it to the kitchen bench were it sits quite happily until husband opened upper cupboard and box of crackers falls out and lands on pavlova.

At this point I’m really beyond caring. It’s Christmas day I’ve got 20 people coming for lunch, 2 kids who have opened toys and are over excited. There is mess everywhere. I’m like lets shove whipped cream and fruit on it and hope for the best. We do and people love the pavlova (ok lots of wine was drunk with lunch so it might have clouded people’s opinions but hey I’ll take the positive feedback).

So why make it again. Well it’s so quintessentially Australian I have to make it as part of my classic Australiana baking series. And also because I used to be scared of the idea of making pavlova. Really its not that hard, plus if it gets crushed by a falling box of crackers, it can totally be saved by whipped cream and beautiful seasonal fruit.

So let’s make Pavlova

There’s eggs or egg whites to be precise (lots of them)

Bit of salt

Bit of whipping

Sugar (lots of it) and then more whipping

Vanilla + vinegar + cornflour

Pavlova – recipe adapted from Julie Goodwins Our Family Table

6 egg whites

1/4 tsp salt
1 2/3 cups caster sugar

1 tlbps cornflour

1 tsp vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

600 mils cream

seasonal fruit (although in this case I used frozen berries)

Preheat oven to 170 degree C (150 if fan forced). Line baking tray with baking paper.

Beat egg whites and salt together until soft peaks appear.

Add in in sugar a little bit at a time. Once all added beat until stiff and glossy

Fold in cornflour, vinegar and vanilla. Be very gentle when doing this as you don’t want to knock the air out of the mixture.

Spread mixture on baking paper. make sure it’s not all the way to the edges.

Bake 30 mins then turn down heat to 140 degrees C (120 fan forced) and bake another 40 mins. Turn oven off and leave pavlova to cool in oven (its fine to leave it in there overnight or several hours).

When ready to assemble whip cream, spread on pavlova, top with fruit, serve bask in glow of having made and excellent pavlova.