Monday, July 22, 2013

Delia Smith's Madeira Cake

I stayed in doors on Saturday because it was so cold! We had the warmest July day at 23*C which was 10 degrees above the July average last Thursday, but Melbourne was back to its usual weather over the weekend with a top of 11*C! I stayed home and crocheted ~ a sneak peak at my rainbow granny stripe blanket below, and made a Madeira Cake from Delia Smith's Cake cookbook.

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It was a pretty average cake, and I much preferred the passionfruit Madeira cake I made last year. I'm rather dubious of recipes which mixes everything into a bowl, it somehow lacks the refinement of a cake that you have to cream the butter and sugar, adding eggs one at a time, and gently folding in the flour. For the time poor home baker, this cake was really quick and easy to make. Perhaps a nice frosting could have made this cake more interesting.

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I've never baked a cake with so many holes inside, but according to Betty Crocker, this is caused by a number reasons such as not enough liquids, the batter being over beaten, the cake not being baked in the middle rack, the oven being too hot or the cake being baked too long. I'm not sure what happened as I followed the recipe to the T, but the cake was nevertheless eaten despite the holes.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

The Great Australian Bake Off: Satay Pork Sausage Rolls

So here I am, just buying more cook books, and merely looking at the pictures! These are books I bought in June and I've tried ONE recipe! The first world problem I have is that I have too many recipes to choose from and I simply can't decide... sigh!

The Great Australian Bake Off television series started last week, I'm not sure if I'll continue watching the series (because it makes me drool), but the recipes featured in the book appear easy to follow and food I would eat. I'm generally not a fan of reality cooking series ~ it's great that it has inspired people to cook, but the sheer nastiness of some contestants (like those from My Kitchen Rules) are truly vulgar. I know these programs are heavily edited to portray contestants in the least favourable light to garner higher audience ratings, but there is enough negativity and meanness in the world. Such programs should showcase people's cooking talents and creativity rather than insults, mocking and tantrums. I know it's a competition, but couldn't people handle themselves with grace?

Anyway... a recipe that caught my eye from the Bake Off book was the satay pork sausage rolls. I love how creative Aussie cooks are ~ the humble sausage roll with Asian flavours! It contains sambal oeleck which I was going to make from scratch...but it was easier to buy from the supermarket (thank you Yeo's). I've been picturing myself making sambal by hand ~ I even bought a Balinese stone mortar and pestle from Oxfam...which I haven't used yet, but doesn't it make a great looking container for onions and shallots?

I used frozen shortcrust pastry (I know, it's cheating), and put one tablespoon (rather than two as specified in the recipe) of sambal oeleck as Mum thought it would be too spicy for Dad. I would recommend putting the full amount and even some fresh coriander. I couldn't taste the peanut butter, but I find that the Macro organic products to be over priced and bland.

The sausage rolls turned out pretty good and it was very easy and quick to make. Because they are bite sized, I must have eaten at least half a dozen (well, that's when I stopped counting)!

Note to self: remember to season with salt and pepper next time... agh, I always forget to do this!

The garden looks pretty ordinary in winter, but bees were just buzzing around our yellow flower succulents.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Kumquat Jam

My Mum had noticed a house with a huge kumquat tree in the front yard, so she knocked on the door and asked to buy some (if I was a teenager I would be like OMG, how embarrassing. Actually, it's embarrassing at any age)! The lady of the house said Mum was most welcome to the kumquats without charge, so Mum happily plucked four kilograms! She gave a kilogram to our Japanese neighbour who eats it fresh, and saved the rest to make jam.

The kumquats need to be washed and soaked for at least 24 hours.The fun part (not) is removing the pips so Mum and I did just that a few weekend ago. Save the pips, wrap them in muslin and cook it with the jam.

It is essential that you make your jam in a clean pot (our pot is for making jam only). The daughter of one of Mum's friend said their home made jam tasted "Chinese", so it's probably best not to use the same pot as the one you've cooked your five spiced stewed pork in. As with making meringues which requires a clean mixing bowl, cut half a lemon and rub all over the inside of your pot for a thorough clean.

Cook 1 kilogram of kumquat with 1 kilogram of sugar and 3 cups of water. The amount of water is the tricky part because we had initially made the jam with 5 cups of water, and since the kumquat was very juicy, the  result was very runny jam. If your jam turns out watery, don't trow it out, it's great eaten with plain yoghurt.

Cook the jam under low flame, and patiently stir until it thickens. Pour the jam into steralised jars (wash the bottles and the lids and pop them into the oven for about 15 minutes) ~ the rule of thumb is cold jam into cold jars, and hot jam into hot jars (we always do the hot jar method). Screw on the lid, tip the bottle upside down to cool which creates a vacuum seal. I printed out some labels, and topped the lids with paper doilies tied with red and white bakers twine. Mum dropped off a couple of bottles of the jam to the kumquat tree owner last week.