When I was musing on Twitter whether or not blogging was for me, everyone said yes and at least one person told me I had to include recipes!
But before I give you my first one, I would like to tell you about food and I.
My passion for cooking came early on. Nan was a good old fashioned cook but cake wasn’t her thing! “There’s nothing that can’t be fixed with some hot custard” was her favorite saying about cakes!! And trifle was her thing!
Mum could do three dishes – a tasty hot stew type beef curry, spag bol and Hawaiian Casserole. And every sunday she would make jam drops, rock cakes and a dry as dust date cake.
I think I was really inspired by the local CWA, Red Cross and Ladies Auxilliary women. Mostly they were the same people.
Any time there was a function, fundraiser, wedding, funeral, party – anything really – all the food came out. Beautiful, simple, well made food interspersed with flashes of brilliance.
I learned to cook on wood stoves. We had one (mum and dad still do), as did Nan, as did most people where I grew up. It was the cooker, heater and hot water system all rolled into one! It was a bit of a shock at high school having to cook on an electric stove.
I worked as a shearers cook for a while – 10 years as well as other shed jobs. I was a good cook and could work magic with very little but was completely stressed out. I would do a much better job of it now I think. But doing that job required me to use everything from leaky old wood stoves to gas ovens. Most of which came out of the ‘Main House’ when it no longer served its purpose. That experience taught me a lot about adapting and making failures work. I can also disguise old broken mouth sheep meat!
All this has stood me in good stead in recent months. Lack of funds has meant a major belt tightening by all. I have even started making my own bread because its cheaper. Not a lot of ready made or take away is purchased here!
Meal times in our house can be very chaotic too. I rarely see the kids before they leave for school and often wonder if they even get breakfast! I think the mornings they don’t at home they have found 20c and bought toast at the canteen. But their lunch is always packed and waiting in the fridge. They often feel special too as not many other kids get home made double chocolate biscuits, carrot cake muffins or the other delightful fillers I make. The other kids always want to know what exciting things Miss 5 has in her lunchbox! When I was at school, bought bickies were very special!
But we make sure we have a few meals a week where we all eat together. And once a month(ish!) when our son is home we invite our other daughter and have a family dinner.
I don’t believe enough families share food any more. The art of conversation is slowly dying and sitting around a table sharing food and thoughts is a huge opportunity to teach kids about getting along with others.
So..here it is! The photos aren’t spectacular but I hope they give you an idea what’s going on. Photography is a skill I am working on.
This recipe is my favorite cake recipe. Its easy to make, a little time consuming and fiddly but totally worth it.
It comes from The Australian Woman’s Weekly Cookbook ‘Home Baked’. If you know someone who loves to cook this would be a great present. A lot of my sweet cooking comes from this book. The messy pages are proof!
This is not a cake that would be given the tick of approval by the Heart Foundation! It uses nearly a kilo of sugar and a lot of butter. But it does make a very big cake.
The tin to cook it in needs to be pretty big. They’ve suggested a rectangular one. I use a very old 25cm square one that was a wedding present for my parents. So its 40+ years old!
Family Chocolate Cake
2 cups of water
3 cups of caster sugar
250g butter, chopped
1/3 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
3 cups self raising flour
4 eggs, beaten lightly
Combine the water, sugar, butter, cocoa, and soda in a medium saucepan – I use a rather large deep boiler type saucepan. The bicarb makes this froth up a lot when heating! Stir over heat, without boiling until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil then reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Transfer mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. This is where you can make or break this cake. Let the mix cool!! Don’t be too hasty. But the length of cooling you allow changes the texture of the cake. Leave it only for 1/2 to 1 hour if you want a dense gooey cake, leave it to cool completely for a lighter cake. Don’t refrigerate! I did once and it overflowed in the oven!!
Preheat oven to moderate – 190C. Grease a deep 26.5 x 33cm (14c/3.5L) cake tin or baking dish and line the base with baking paper.
Add flour and eggs to the bowl and beat until smooth and pale in colour. Pour mixture into prepared tin. I tend to gently tap the tin on the bench once or twice. This mix is prone to air bubbles. But its not required.
Bake about 50 minutes, until you can put a skewer in the cake and it comes out clean and the cake is slightly springy to touch on top. Its a very ‘about’ 50 as well!! This cake took 1hr 20min. Others have been done in 50, some less, some more. If its not done in the allotted 50 minutes, cook for 10-20 minutes till its done. It really needs hovering over from 40 minutes on. I always put a biscuit tray under this one – it has overflowed before!! That probably changes the cooking time…
While the cake is cooking, make the icing. It needs cooling time.
Combine 90g of butter, 1/3 cup of water and 1/2 cup of caster sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved without boiling. Sift 1 1/2 cups icing sugar and 1/3 cup cocoa into a medium mixing bowl then gradually stir in the hot butter mixture. When it is smooth, cover and refrigerate until thick. The recipe says 20 minutes, again I found more time was required. That’s why I make it while the cake is cooking. If the icing is too hard to put on the cake, zap it in the microwave in 5 second bursts until it is.
Ice and enjoy!!
Its good for about 2-3 days, up to 5 days if you keep it in the fridge. Mine never last that long!
This cake freezes ok iced too!
I have warmed this cake slightly and served with ice cream for dessert….