I love to cook. It’s something I got from my late mum Pam Parker (nee Lamb), who was a fantastic and adventurous cook. She learned on the job as a domestic servant from the age of 11; once being berated by the stationmaster’s wife for not knowing intuitively how to make white sauce. This for a kid raised on mutton, johnny cakes and the like! Mum went on to cook in hotel kitchens, run her own catering business, and give cooking lessons from our kitchen at home. My taste runs to all kinds but especially the sweet stuff. I’ll post some of my favourites here. Hope you enjoy them – please let me know how you go.
Please scroll down for:
- Citrus Dream Cake
- Maudie’s Flying Fig Cake (with Salted Caramel Sauce)
- OMG Bliss Balls
- Butter Biscuits for the Mob
- Pammy’s Mini Lamb Pies
- Juicy Sultana Cake
CITRUS DREAM CAKE
- 180gms butter, softened
- 1¼ cup of caster sugar
- 3 small eggs (or 2 extra large ones)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1½ cups self-raising flour
- 1 cups Almond meal
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 oranges (zested and juiced)
- 4 lemons (zested and juiced)
- milk (enough to moisten batter)
- Pre-heat oven at 170 degrees (not fan forced).
- Grease a cake tin (round 20cm or equivalent), using baking paper if you prefer.
- Using the fine side of a grater, zest the oranges and lemons and then cut them in half and juice together. Set the juice aside.
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl.
- Continue mixing on low speed as you add eggs to the bowl one at a time, followed by vanilla essence.
- In a separate bowl, combine almond meal, baking powder and sifted self-raising flour and then gradually add to the rest of the mixture.
- Add half a cup of combined orange and lemon zest, and between ¼ and ½ cup of juice, and mix thoroughly. If the batter is too stiff, add a splash or two of milk to moisten.
- Spoon mixture into cake tin and cover with foil to prevent excessive browning.
- Bake on middle oven shelf for 20 minutes, then remove foil and back for a further 15-20 minutes (monitoring it carefully).
- Once cooked, turn the cake out on to a cooling rack.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine one cup of juice and 3 dessert spoons of caster sugar, stirring until somewhat reduced and syrupy.
- Once both cake and syrup are cooled, spoon syrup carefully over cake and leave to absorb.
- 1 ½ cups icing sugar
- Extra dessert spoon butter, softened
- Up to ¼ cup of juice
- Place sifted icing sugar, butter and – very gradually, one teaspoon at a time – juice in a bowl and mix well.
- Carefully drizzle cake with icing and top with some of the remaining zest.
- Serve with cream and, if desired, vanilla ice cream.
MAUDIE’S FLYING FIG CAKE (with Salted Caramel Sauce)
20 slices of fresh fig (cut ½-1cm thick, with skin and most of surrounding white flesh removed)
- 250 grams fresh fig puree
- 150 grams salted butter
- 4 eggs (room temperature)
- 3 teaspoons good quality vanilla essence or vanilla paste
- 300 grams almond meal
- 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
- 200 grams fine brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups caster sugar
- ½ cup water
- ⅔ cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
- 300ml thickened light cream (can be lactose free)
- Pre-heat oven 175°C.
- Grease the sides of a 21cm (8 inch) round springform cake tin, lining the base with baking paper.
- Melt butter on stove or in the microwave and then set aside to cool.
- Make caramel sauce by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan over a low heat until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat to medium and allow to boil lightly without much stirring for 5-7 minutes or until the mix takes on a honey colour. Add cream and salt and stir over same medium heat for two minutes before setting aside to cool.
- Line the base of the cake tin with sliced figs and then spoon half of the caramel mixture.
- Break eggs into a large mixing bowl, add vanilla essence and cooled butter and whisk for one minute.
- Add almond meal, sugar and salt to the bowl and use a handheld beater to mix thoroughly.
- Spoon half of the cooled caramel sauce over the figs, filling in any spaces between them (and set aside remaining sauce).
- Pour cake batter into tin on top of figs, taking care not to dislodge the caramel sauce.
- If you have a hot oven, line the top of the tin with foil, sealing it around the edges.
- Place tin on the middle shelf of your oven and cook for 30 minutes before turning (and removing foil if applicable) and then cook for a further 20-25 minutes. The cake is cooked when a skewer or non-serrated knife comes out clean.
- Remove cooked cake from oven and place tin on rack.
- When the cake has cooled thoroughly, run a thin non-serrated knife around between the cake and tin. Place a large serving plate over the tin and gently up-end. The cake should loosen on to the plate. Remove tin base and discard baking paper.
- If you have time, refrigerate the cake covered overnight.
- Cake can be served hot or cold, with cream and the remaining caramel sauce.
TIP: While figs are at their prettiest when deep purple, they can still be ripe if green. Test for softness and use fruit with insides that are juicy and intensely coloured. Generally speaking, ripe figs should be used within a day or two of picking.
TIP: This is a very moist cake. Once placed on your serving plate, it can be tricky to transfer to another so choose your plate well.
OMG BLISS BALLS
Makes 40, no cooking required
- 350g sultanas
- 300g cranberries*
- 250g almond meal
- 4 tbs cocoa powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 50g orange juice
- 50g desiccated coconut
- 25g desiccated coconut (for rolling)
- 500g chocolate melts (milk or dark)
The night before:
* Place cranberries in a plastic container pour over fresh orange juice. Cover and steep for 24 hours in the fridge.
- Strain cranberries in a sieve over a bowl, pressing with spoon to ensure excess liquid is removed. Set aside the juice and keep for later.
- Add all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined and fruit is in small pieces (but don’t overdo it; you don’t want mush).
- Use a large teaspoon to measure out each ball, using your hands to roll it to about the size of a lychee.
- Spread larger quantity of coconut on a non-stick baking sheet.
- Roll half of the balls in the cranberry and orange juice and then scoop up coconut with your hands and then press to bliss balls to coat.
- Melt chocolate melts (whether you do this in a microwave or over a saucepan, take care not to get any water at all in with the chocolate or it will clump or go grainy).
- Use a soup spoon to toss the remaining balls – one at a time – in the melted chocolate until generously coated and then transfer to baking sheet. Leave to set (this can take a few hours)
- Use a very thin, flat knife to lift the chocolate coated balls from the baking sheet and transfer to an airtight container, where they’ll keep for 2-3 days (although they’re unlikely to last that long).
TIP: Always use the best quality and freshest ingredients you can find.
BUTTER BISCUITS FOR THE MOB (AND FRIENDS)
(Makes 15-20 biscuits)
- 2 cups plain flour
- 150 gms butter (softened, not melted)
- 2/3 cup caster sugar
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla essence
- ½ teaspoon bicarb soda
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 cups icing sugar
- 3 teaspoons butter (softened but not melted)
- Red, yellow and blue (to combine with cocoa to make black) food colouring. Handy hint: You can also use caramel chocolate buds for the sun.
1. Preheat oven to 170C (or 150C fan-forced).
2. Put sugar in a large mixing bowl and mill with a beater for 10-15 seconds to remove any lumps.
3. Add butter to sugar and beat together (cream) for about a minute.
4. Add egg and vanilla essence and beat for a further 15-20 seconds.
5. Add flour and bicarb soda and beat for 30-45 seconds. The mixture should come away from the sides, forming big clumps and leaving the bowl fairly clean.
6. Roll dough on flour-dusted bench to ½-1cm thickness (dust the rolling pin with flour too).
7. Cut cookies to your preferred shape (I like an Australia, cutting extra bits for Tassie. I’m still working on the Torres Strait and other islands!)
8. Transfer carefully to one or two biscuit trays lined with baking paper, with space around each biscuit to allow for spreading.
9. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove tray from oven and, when biscuits are cool enough to handle, transfer them to a wire rack.
10. Make three separate bowls of icing, using one cup icing sugar, one teaspoon of softened butter, and a few drops of boiling water for each. Colour them red, yellow and black/dark brown (made with blue colouring and cocoa powder). Make the yellow icing fairly stiff so you can roll a 1cm round ball in your hands, and flatten onto biscuits for the sun.
11. Once biscuits are cool, ice and allow to set. Store in an airtight container…or not…they won’t last long!
PAMMY’S MINI LAMB PIES
With mint and coriander chutney
(Makes 12-15 pies)
Okay, it’s bloody cold. And, apart from the vegos amongst us, who doesn’t like a flavoursome, meaty pie to ward off the winter chills? You can make either mini pies – as I have here – or one big pie. If you don’t have time to make your own pastry, shop-bought is fine. The chutney is actually a borrowed Indian recipe and makes for a tangy addition to your plate, although a tomato chutney or relish also works well. Serve these pies with creamy mashed potato or a salad – whichever takes your fancy. There are three relatively simple components to this dish, dealt with separately below.
- 3 cups of plain flour
- 225 gms of butter, butter
- 2 medium eggs, chilled
- 2 tablespoons of water, chilled
- Pinch of salt
- Process flour, butter and pinch of salt in a food processor until like fine breadcrumbs.
- Whisk egg and water in a bowl, then add to flour mixture while food processor on. Process until mixture begins to form large clumps, stopping before mixture forms a ball.
- Turn pastry out into work surface and knead gently. Form into disc or log. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight or at least two hours.
- 750gms to a kilo of lamb, diced fairly small
- 1 small brown onion, finely sliced
- 1 cup of carrot, finely chopped
- 1 cup of frozen or fresh peas
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2-3 cups of beef of stock
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- Worcestershire, HP or hot sauce or balsamic vinegar to taste
- Melt one tablespoon of butter in a large pan and brown meat and onion together, in two batches if necessary (draining off liquid if necessary, as too much of it can stew meat and make it tougher).
- When meat is just about cooked, add a tablespoon of brown sugar to the pan to caramelise the mixture.
- Separately, boil or steam the carrot and peas until only just cooked.
- In another pan, make fairly thick gravy by melting the second tablespoon of butter, adding flour and whisking continuously while slowly adding a stream of beef stock. Add other sauce flavorings as desired, and work out any lumps with the whisk.
- When the vegies are cooked and the gravy made, add them to the meat, season with a pinch of salt, combine well, set aside.
- When your pastry is nearly chilled enough, pre-heat your oven to about 165C.
- Once the pastry is ready, grease a mini pie tray or one single pie dish. Line tray reservoirs or pie dish with pastry rolled to about 4mm thick (a large glass or small bowl is a helpful for cutting round shapes for mini pies), ensuring there’s a bit of overlap. Cut ‘lids’ to size and lay on top, pinching the edges together with a fork.
- Brush pastry with beaten egg or milk and bake for 45 minutes or until cooked and a nice golden brown colour.
- 1 and ½ cups of fresh mint
- 2/3 cup of fresh coriander (washed, with tougher stalks removed)
- 3 tablespoons of thick plain yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste or puree
- 1 and ½ teaspoons of caster sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Wash and drain the herbs.
- Place ingredients in a food processor and pulse until fully combined and the herbs are mostly broken down. The colour will be creamy green, with a tinge of brown from the tamarind.
- Chill chutney in the fridge until pies are ready.
- Drizzle chutney over hot or warm pies and dig in.
JUICY SULTANA CAKE
- 400gms natural sultanas
- 1 cup unsweetened orange juice
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tsp cornflour
- 200gm butter, softened (but not melted) to room temp
- 1 cup brown caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1½ cups sifted icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 3-4 tablespoons orange juice
- Preheat your oven to 140 degrees celsius (no fan bake). Grease and line either a medium round cake tin or large bar cake tin with baking paper.
- Combine the sultanas, orange juice and water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat and simmer until fruit absorbs almost all of the liquid.
- Drain a few tablespoons of liquid into a small bowl and stir in the cornflour until a smooth paste and then return to the sultana mixture. Once thickened, remove sultanas from the heat and allow to cool on a plate or large bowl.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift flour and baking powder together, then add in several batches to the sultana mixture. Combine thoroughly using beater on low speed (avoid fast speed so sultanas stay in tact). If mixture is stiff, add a little milk.
- Transfer mixture to the greased tin and smooth surface with a spatula. Bake for two hours on lower oven shelf, before switching to fan bake at the same temperature for 10 minutes.
- When cake top is golden brown, removed from oven and wait until cake cools before turning on to a wire cake rack.
- Once thoroughly cooled, top cake with icing made from icing sugar, a tablespoon of softened butter and enough orange juice to flavor. Optional: Top with 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest