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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Fig and Olive Oil Cake

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I truly believe that there are few things in the world that a cup of tea and piece of cake cannot fix. Bad day at work, cup of tea and cake make it better. Kids channelling the devil, tea and cake to the rescue. I’m quite sure many of the world’s conflict could be chatted out over a cup of team and a piece of cake.

I was recently given a bag of figs. These figs were bordering on over ripe and were sweet and soft. I felt rather lucky as they are so expensive at the shops and never as nice as home gown as they are so fragile. Given they were pretty ripe I set to working out what I could do with them. Of course being the baking addict I am I was like let’s make a cake with them. Out came the recipe books and internet searches before I settled on this recipe. I was a bit hesitant a you 1/2 bake the cake then add the figs, but it totally worked. It was moist, citrusy and figgy and perfect with a cup of tea.

Fig and Olive Oil Cake – recipe adapted from Shutterbean.com

1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup ground almonds
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
grated zest of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup extra olive oil
1/3 cup milk
5 figs, cut into quarters
1 1/2 tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Grease a loaf tin and line with baking paper.

Mix together the flour, ground almonds, and baking powder in a bowl.

Using a whisk attachment in a mixer whisk the sugar and eggs until fluffy. Add the citrus zest and juice, then stir in the olive oil and milk. Gently fold in the flour mixture then pour the batter into a prepared tin and bake in the oven for approx. 40 minutes.

Push the figs into the top of the loaf. Drizzle with honey and bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the top is caramelized and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool fully in tin, then remove from the tin.

Brew cup of tea, cut a large slice of cake and enjoy

Biscuits – roll them out, cut them up into shapes kind

Right it’s the second week of school holidays here.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had time off from work these holidays so I’ve been with the kids every day of the holidays. It’s been lovely to spend time with the kids, but when you’re peppered by chorus of I’m bored, what can I do, plus add one autistic child thrown out of routine into the mix and the 2 weeks can seem long time.

So in order to combat the boredom these holidays we’ve been making the most of this lovely spring bordering on summer weather and doing lots of outside stuff. We’ve been hiking to see waterfalls and as a bonus saw koalas, been on waterslides, been to the beach, gardened together, had picnics, visited play grounds. But we’ve also had some indoor time too doing arts and crafts and cooking in the kitchen. We’ve made butter from scratch, baked cakes and made biscuits. I made these at the kids request as they wanted a biscuit they could write their names with. So I pulled out my stock standard rollout and cut up shapes biscuit recipe and out came our newly acquired alphabet biscuit cutters and we made biscuits.

I love the smell of butter and vanilla and all the ingrediants created a very tasty dough.

Roll out, cut out biscuits – recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson How to be a Domestic Goddess

175g butter at room temp

200g caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

400g flour

1 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar together until pale and creamy.

Beat in eggs one at a time then beat in vanilla

Mix together flour and baking powder and add into wet ingredients. Mix until dough starts to form. I usually tip it out onto a kitchen bench while it’s almost a bit crumbly and then shape into 2 discs. wraps each disc in cling wrap and place in fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees

Once chilled its ready to roll out. I roll mine out between 2 lightly floured pieces of baking paper and roll till about 1/2 cm thick. cut out into desired shapes using biscuit cutters. left over dough can be reworked together and rolled out again.

Place shapes on baking paper lined tray and bake for approx 10-15 mins, or until lightly browned. leave to cool on trays for about 5 mins before moving to a cooling rack.

Blue Ribbon Baking- My Royal Show Baking

If you’ve been living under a rock this week in Adelaide the Royal Adelaide Show was been on. For those of you outside Australia it’s similar to a State Fair. About 500 000 people attend the show. There’s rides, show bags, animals, wood chopping, fireworks food, wine, a cornucopia of stalls selling stuff and an incredible variety of competition categories form including cookery.

Last year we had a look at the baking entries and I thought I reckon I could give that a go, so this year I did. for most of the open cookery there is no qualify you just fill out your entry form and pay your entry fee and turn up on allocated day with your baked goodies.

Instead of starting small and entering 1 category I thought I’d tempt a baking induced nervous breakdown and enter 3 categories. Chocolate cake, carrot cake and Anzac biscuits. I bake really good version of these (see my Anzac Biscuits post) so thought I’d give it go.

In the months leading up to it I was intent on baking these things often to get a consistent result. I didn’t bake them as much as I really should have but people I’d still have to suffer through multiple tastings of these baked goodies. My husband at present can’t really face another Anzac biscuit.

So I had the day off work the day before I had to enter my goods. I imagined the day being spent listening to some tunes while I got my bake on. In fact it started with a dog chicken disaster and a sick child at home. None the less behind schedule I started baking. My first carrot cake was good as was my first batch of Anzac biscuits. The chocolate cake however was a complete and utter failure. It fell apart as I was getting it out of the cake tin. I also wasn’t happy with how high it had risen. So back to the drawing board I used another recipe with some modifications. it rose well, but then it too fell apart coming out of the tin. I drunk what seems a bazillion cups of tea and lunch had been cake batter so I was feeling all nervous and jittery on a caffeine/sugar high and getting panicked by the chocolate cake. So I baked another batch of Anzac biscuits which again worked well, then gave the chocolate cake a third time lucky go. Hallelujah it worked. I hadn’t put walnuts in my first carrot cake so thought I might make another with walnuts. By this time it was 9pm and I was all baked out. I put the walnuts in the cake, but forgot the bi carb/orange juice mixture. I realised this after I’d just popped the cake in the oven so pulled it out and stirred it through. But when I go the cake out of the tin it looked 2 toned as I hadn’t stirred it through thoroughly. But I had my first carrot cake so all good. I then iced the carrot cake and chocolate cake without incident (a miracle given it was near 11pm)

So after 12 hours baking and an insane amount of eggs, flour, butter and sugar later I was all done .

I lined up with everyone else to drop off their baked goods the next day. Which was itself fascinating seeing all the people with all their cooked goods, as well as seeing frantic last minute preparations for setting up the show

Well how’d I go? No ribbons for me as you can see in the picks below my entries were different form the winning entries. But I’m ok with that. I’m more impressed that I did it.

My Anzac biscuits

The winning Anzac biscuits (noticeably smaller)

My chocolate cake

The winning chocolate cake

My carrot cake

Th wining one (clearly the cute little carrots on the icing were a winner)

Would I enter again, sure, next year I’m aiming to enter the Anzac biscuits because mine were pretty damn good, just bigger than the ribbon winners, the rock cakes and lamingtons (see my blog post for my amazing lamingtons).

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.

Anzac Biscuits

On Anzac day I attend our local dawn service. I’ve been to the one in the city and its moving, but I prefer the local one. It closer and obviously easier to get to and has a community feel. But mainly I prefer it because it’s on the beach front and is hauntingly beautiful with the waves breaking and the seagull’s cries as dawn’s first light casts its glow over the service.

I go to the dawn service to pay special respects to my grandfather who fought at Gallipoli, my father who fought in WW2 , My uncles Dan and Dermot who also fought in WW2 and my Uncle William (Bill) who made the ultimate sacrifice at Kokoda.

My children are still young so when I talk to them about Anzac day I talk about how it’s a day for us to commemorate those soldiers who have served our country when asked. I am also pleased to see the kids also learn about it in school.

I also make Anzac biscuits. These are one of the easiest biscuits to make and of course they are delicious in an oaty golden syrupy kind of way. Some people put fruit or nuts in them but I think they are pretty good plain.

At the moment I’m tweaking my recipe as I want it to be perfect as I intend to enter my Anzac biscuits in the Royal Adelaide show (the blue ribbon shall be mine). I’ve used brown sugar here but have successfully used normal sugar as well (same quantities). I also used plain flour but have successfully used self raising flour (again same quantities).

Let’s make Anzac Biscuits

We’ve got sugar action

oats

flour

desiccated coconut

butter and golden syrup

bi carb foamy action

Anzac Biscuits

1 cup brown sugar (or white sugar)

1 cup plain flour (or SR flour)

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup desiccated coconut

125 butter

2 tablespoons golden syrup

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (bi carb)

2 tablespoons boiling water

Preheat oven to 160 C

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Combine butter and golden syrup in small saucepan, stir low heat until melted. Add boiling water, then add bi carb, stir. it will foam up at this stage which is good

Stir the foamy mixture into the dry ingredients. Take teaspoonful’s of mixture and place on lightly greased oven trays and press down slightly.

Pop in oven for about 20 minutes (or lightly brown). Cool on tray for a few minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Passionfruit shortbread

I love passionfruits, there is something intoxicating about thier scent, its all tropcially and summery or maybe its just I always remember my grandmother serving sponge cake with passionfruit icing.

I also love shortbread so when I read this recipe which combined beautiful shortbread with passionfruit cream I knew it had to be made.  Plus at the moment passionfruits are in season and you pick up bags of them fairly cheap, perfect for making all things passionfruity

Lets make passionfruit shortbread

Of course we’ll be needing passionfruits

and food processing butter sugar, egg and flour

bake it till its beautiful

and sandwiching it together with amazing passionfruit cream

Passionfruit Shortbread

Recipe adapted from Julie Goodwin’s Our Family Table

125g unsalted butter

1 2/3 cups plain flour

125g sugar

pinch salt

1 egg

extra sugar to sprinkle

Passionfruit cream

2 tbs room temp unsalted butter

1 cup icing mixture

1 1/2 tbs passionfruit pulp

Preheat oven to 180 c. Grease spring form pan, I also like to line the base with baking paper.

In food processor process butter and flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add sugar, salt and then pulse to combine, add egg, pulse until combines and formed a dough.

Turnout onto floured surface and gather together with your hands

Press dough into prepared tin, rough up top with fork and sprinkle over extra sugar (about 1 tsp)

Bake for 30 mins or until lightly golden (which in my oven takes way longer than 30 mins). Cool in tin about 15 mins then release and slide off base onto cooling rack.

Make passion fruit cream by beating butter and icing sugar together in mixer until combined and add in passionfruit pulp a bit at a time. Mix it until its light and fluffy

Cut now cool shortbread into wedges and sandwich together with lashings of passionfruit cream.

Eat several pieces as it’s just so damn good