Monday, 26 January 2015

Lamingtons


Happy Australia Day Everyone!!....well, for yesterday. 

I decided to get into the spirit of the day by baking up a batch of lamingtons. But, after I ate nearly all of them, I didn't know what to write about so hence this post is coming a day late....but better late then never.


As many of you know the Lamington is a very treasured sweet to we Aussie's and without fail is always made on, or around Australia Day. For me, they should be made more of often but who wants to deal with copious amounts of coconut getting everywhere. And no matter how hard you try you can never wipe all of it up and you're still finding coconut days later in the most random places (I found some in my bathroom).

But, do you know the actual origin of the lamington? I didn't. So I decided to bust out the 'google it' and delve into the history of lamingtons.

Named after Lord Lamington, the 8th governor of Queensland, this culinary icon came about from an accident. Apparently, one of the maids working at Government House in Brisbane dropped the Lord's sponge cake into some melted chocolate. The Lord, was not one for wasteful habits, decided to roll the cake in some coconut as to not dirty his fingers. The maid's 'error' was much loved by all and in particular Lord Lamington.

Thus, lamingtons were born and to this day remain an Australian staple for Australia Day. Here is my interpretation that I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
INGREDIENTS
Curd
250g Morello Cherries
50g Sugar
30g Butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
Cake
1 1/2 cups Self-raising Flour
1/3 cup Corn Flour
185g Butter, softened
1 cup Castor Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup Milk
Icing
4 cups Icing Sugar
1/3 cup Cocoa
30g Butter
2/3 cups Milk
300ml cream, whipped
3 cups (or so) Coconut, shredded or desiccated 

To make the curd...
Do this first. 

Drain the cherries and purée in a blender. Pass the purée through a sieve. Place all ingredients in a saucepan and stir constantly on a medium heat. Stir until starting to bubble and thickened. Place in a bowl and line with cling wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool completely in the fridge. 

To make the cake...
Pre-heat oven to 180°C and grease a 25cm square, or lamington, cake tin with butter and baking paper (any size tin would work just as well).

In an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until pale in colour. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, until fluffy. Sift in dry ingredients, add the milk and mix until combined. Place in prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until coming away from the sides and cake springs back when pressed. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto cake rack and allow to cool completely.

To make the icing...
Place icing sugar, cocoa, butter and milk into a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until the mix is thick and glossy.


To assemble the lamingtons...
With a serrated knife, cut the edges off all four sides of the cake. Cut the cake into 1.5-2cm strips. Cut those strips into about 4 pieces and match them with a partner of the same size/shape. NOTE: some outer pieces might have a slope on them.  

Using 2 forks, dip each piece (one at a time) into the chocolate icing to completely cover it. Using the forks, allow a little of the excess icing to drip off then roll in coconut. Place back on the cake rack to set. 

Once set, sandwich together with curd and whipped cream. Or if you like, leave them as is.   




Sunday, 18 January 2015

One Day Cake


11 years ago today my older sister passed away.

She was only 15 years old.

Leaving behind my mum and dad, older sister, myself and younger brother.

Since that Monday afternoon on January 19, 2004 approximately 4pm, it’s been a hard journey….


Early on you wonder…
Why us?
Why her?
What did we do to deserve this?
When will the pain stop?
Is this real?
How will we continue on?

After you ask yourself all the questions, to which you may, or may not, find any answers, you cry. And you cry a lot. You cry so much that your eyes hurt. Once you think all the tears have gone you MUST, and you do, continue on.


It’s hard to put into words what it’s been like. You can only really understand if you have lost a loved one before. And even then, we all have our own subjective experience. How we grieve is based purely on the relationship we had with said person. 

I could try to explain what I think it was like for each of my family members but, well, I just don't know. I'm not a mind reader, I can't speak for them. Nor would I want to. Each one has their own memories of her and it is not my place to depict their feelings or experiences.

 
I can, however, speak for myself... 

I remember a cheeky older sister who was always up to mischief and always one for a practical joke. In my opinion, she was an older brother and another son to my brother and dad, a partner in crime and best friend to my older sister and a fun loving, can weasel her way out of anything daughter to my mum.

One specific memory I have of her is when it was just the two of us alone at home. Mum and Dad were at work and the other two….well, I don’t know where they were. 

It was September school holidays, and my sister had decided to bake butterscotch scrolls. As delicious as they were, they were kind of under baked and alas a food fight erupted in the house. This escalated quickly into a water fight outside and eventually we decided to share a bath (fully clothed) because we had gotten so cold. 

 
There are many more memories I could share with you but I should probably get to the point of this post. 

My mum has this old cake cookbook. I don’t think we ever baked anything from it except this cake. My sister used to always bake this cake and with 6 people in the house it would never last more than a day. This is why it is known, and will always be known, as the One Day Cake. 

Just a simple chocolate cake with, as my brother said the other day, a ‘hectic’ chocolate frosting. I’ve included the recipe from the actual book and as you can see from the food stains it is a much loved recipe in our house.

So, I sit and type and remember what was a beautiful friend, grand daughter, sister, cousin, niece and daughter to all those who knew our Penny. Full of life, love and taken from us way too soon.

I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and that Penny was not meant to spend a long time on earth (partly because she was an energiser bunny and would've hated getting old). It's hard to imagine how our lives would have turned out if she was still around. It's almost like she was never here. It's become a new normal.

But considering all this, I will never forget her and, even after 11 years, I'm still learning to live on in her absence.

Be loud, be brave, stay cool and have a pisser.

Forever young,

Penny Catherine Collins.