This time of year is a great time for classic Australian bakes and barbies. My lamingtons first appeared in epicure’s Chocolate cook book.I’ve added some other Australia Day classics as well: Slow cooked lamb and pita bread for January souvlaki!
My Aunty Pat was a great cook, known for her sponge cakes. When I was a child I gave her a battery-operated sifter which she good naturedly used and claimed that it made her sponges ever lighter!
I have used her sponge recipe here as the base for my lamingtons. Just bake the mix in a lamington tin. You won’t believe how delicious these are! Moist and light as a feather. And no battery-operated sifter required!
1 sponge cake (see recipe below)
½ cup hot water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons dutch cocoa
1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind (optional)
1 – 2 teaspoons orange essence (optional)
2 cups pure icing sugar
2 cups dessicated coconut
Cut cake into small squares using a serrated knife. This is easier if the cake has been slightly chilled.
In a medium bowl, combine hot water, butter and cocoa and whisk until smooth. Add orange rind and flavouring at this point if you want jaffa-flavoured icing. (Traditionalists can ignore this step.)
Beat in icing sugar with a wooden spoon. Add extra hot water if the mixture is too thick for dipping. You want it quite runny, but still of a coating consistency.
Now for the messy bit. Using two forks, dip the pieces of cake in the icing, one at a time, and turn them over to cover completely. Don’t fuss too much about any errant crumbs. Now roll the cake in the coconut and place on a cake rack for the icing to set. It is a good idea to have a tray underneath to catch any drips. Repeat the process with the remaining cake. If your forks get too messy, just replace them with clean ones. Ditto, the coconut.
Store in an airtight container – if there are any left!
Auntie Pat’s Sponge
¾ cup caster sugar
¾ cup corn flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon SR flour
Beat whites until stiff.
Add caster sugar.
Sift cornflour, SR flour and baking powder
Fold into mixture.
Pour into a greased and lined 22cm square lamington tin.
Bake 20 minutes 200C.
Slow roasted lamb shoulder with chilli and sage
I tried this dish at The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s Masterclass. The rich flavour of the lamb is balanced with the bold flavours of chilli, garlic and sage.
1 shoulder of lamb, bone in, about 2kg
salt and pepper to season
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 head garlic, cut in half
1 cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves
3 bay leaves
6 good quality anchovy fillets
½ cup red wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 160C fan forced (180C conventional).
Ask your butcher to cut the lamb through the bone, on the underside, at intervals. Trim off most of the surface fat, then season well with salt and pepper. Heat a large frypan, add oil and brown the lamb on all sides for 10 minutes, until well browned.
Place browned meat in a roasting pan and add the remaining ingredients, reserving the grapes to add later.
Cover the pan with foil and cook in the oven for 3 hours, basting with the pan juices every 30 minutes or so.
The lamb should be meltingly tender by now. If not, cook further until tender.
This recipe belongs to Cath Claringbold. It is now firmly in my recipe folder and I use it to make the best soft pita bread. Just ask my kids.
Makes 12 pita bread
1¼ cups tepid water
1½ teaspoons of dry yeast
1½ teaspoons caster sugar
Mix together in a small bowl and leave in a warm spot until mixture foams, around 20 minutes
460g plain flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup of olive oil
In a large bowl mix the flour and salt and make a well. Add the olive oil and the yeast mix and combine. Work the mix until it comes together and then turn out on to a lightly floured bench and knead for a few minutes until the dough becomes silky and smooth.
Put it back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel and leave to prove for around 15 – 20 minutes.
Preheat the Barbeque to a medium heat.
Divide the dough into 12 and roll out into flat thin even disks approximately 16cm in diameter.
Brush the flat bread with some olive oil and place it oil side down on the bars of the BBQ. Gently brush a little oil on top as well.
In a matter of seconds the bread will start to puff and after 20-25 seconds flip them over and cook for 20 seconds more. Do not cook for too long or they will dry out too much and become crisp.
When they are cooked stack them one on top of the other and wrap them tightly in a clean tea towel or even cling wrap to keep them warm and help them sweat a little and stay soft until ready to use.