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Ficus

Figs are present in the stories and iconography of every major religion, but I adore them for their sweet sweet jam.

Figs are in season here in Australia, so I picked up a few to experiment with. I quickly realised that this jam tasted so good and was so simple that it would be a definite repeat this season, and my first batch may not make it to the jars.

Adam&Eve&Figs(Wikimedia)

Fig Jam

1. Combine 6 coarsely chopped ripe figs and ½ cup water in a saucepan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes until tender. Cool slightly.

Chopped Figs

2. Blend in food processor until smooth.

3. Combine purée and sugar in heavy-based saucepan over medium-low heat. (same weight sugar as purée). Cook, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours until mixture is thick.

4. Cool off heat for 30 minutes before refrigerating.

Fresh Fig Jam

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Belligerent Biscuits

Being near to a certain Catholic holiday, I thought it appropriate to make Lebkuchen (Love Cookies). Only after the boy ate some dough, and asked, “Does this have ginger in it?”, did I remember his allergy. A quick wikipedia search taught me that another spice prominent in the recipe, cardamom, is in the same family as ginger, and those allergic to one, are often allergic to the others. Who needs arsenic?

Lebkuchen

Unfortunately (for him), most of my favourite recipes have ginger in them, and I love ginger in most everything. Furthermore, this recipe would give me an opportunity to use some of the marmalade I made (say that ten times fast).

Lebkuchen

1. Melt 60g butter and 2/3 cup golden syrup (cane syrup in US)

I ran out of golden syrup so used some local ironbark honey instead.

2. Sift in 1 tsp bi-card soda, 2 cups plain flour, 1/4 tsp each ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cocoa.

3. Mix in with 1 tbs milk until dryish dough.

4. Roll out and cut until heart shapes and place on tray. Use end of wooden spoon to create dips in the centre of each biscuit, and fill with jam or marmalade.

Evidently, I could not locate my heart-cutter on this occasion.

5. Bake for 10 minutes and cool completely.

6. Using a double saucepan, or glass bowl over a boiling pot, melt 125 g cooking chocolate, and spread on back of cooled biscuits. Refrigerate to set.

Chocolate

 It may also be worth a mention that I once won 1st prize for these cookies in a local fair 😉

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With a knife, dear Liza

As I had successfully made marmalade, I was obliged to make scones to accompany it.

Scones

(biscuits to Americans I believe http://alldownunder.com/australian-convert/food-chart.htm)

1. Rub 30g butter into 2 1/2 cups SR flour, 1 tbs castor sugar, 1.4 tsp salt

I ran out of SR flour so mixed 2 tsp baking powder into plain flour, which did the trick.

2. pour in milk bit by bit (about 3/4 cup in total) until you have a dough consistency, not sticky, not crumbly.

To avoid scones becoming rocks, mix milk in with a knife. For years I never followed this tip, but trust me, it makes such a difference to the consistency post-oven.   

Mix with a knife

 3. When dough just combined, roll out 2cm thick and cut with round cutter. They can be put pretty close together on tray as they rise up not out. Bake for 15 minutes in moderate oven

.

mmmelting

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3 bowls of sugar

Channelling my inner CWA, I decided to make marmalade. What most suprised me about this project what just how much sugar marmalade contains, even when home made. At least I know it contains no preservatives or colours.

Three Fruits Marmalade

Ingredients: 1 grapefruit, 2 oranges, 1 lemon, 2.5L (10 cups) cold water, 2.5kg caster sugar

Method

1. Slice off ends or fruits, cut in half lengthways, then thinly slice crossways. . Place with water in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a cool place for 8 hours or overnight to infuse.

The recipe advises to keep the seeds, but unfortunately, even though I had purchased my fruit from a small locally owed grocer, they were still genetically modified enough not to have seeds to preserve.

Fruit Infusion

2. Transfer mixture to a heavy saucepan. Boil, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes until rind is tender.

3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 120°C. Place sugar in shallow dish in the oven, stirring once, for 10-15 minutes until warmed.

Sugar for Marmalade

4. Reduce stove heat. Add warm sugar and cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Gently boil, stirring occasionally and remove any scum on the surface, for 50 minutes until mixture thickens to setting point. (Spoon a little marmalade onto saucer in the freezer for 2 minutes so see if it turns gel-like)

5. Ladle into jars, seal and turn upside down for 2 minutes. Turn upright and set aside until cooled.

Unfortunately most of my reusable jars were occupied by various nuts and fruits, so I did have to purchase some to use for this recipe.

 

Finished Product

While marmalade can be a bit zesty for my tastes, I know my mum will enjoy a jar. The colours of this project alone made it worth it, and reminded me of my 60s vase collection:

Some encased glass 60s vases

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Bundt Cake

I love that bundt cake is any sort of cake in a pretty doughnut shape. The name inspires ideas of CWA afternoon teas and neighbourly chats. My favourite part about bundt cake is that I can avoid that messy awkward mess of crumbs that results from a full round cake being cut. I got a brand new tin over the weekend, though I was too impatient to order an original Nordic Ware tin online.  

This particular weekend, I made my simple chocolate fudge cake, which also works well in cup-cake form. It is very moist but not too rich or fancy.

My method of baking is less about technique as throw it all in and stir, in defiance of the steps chefs tell you ae needed to make a quality dish. This cake however, was designed to be a throw it all in sort of affair, so I’m not teaching any bad habits.

1 tbs white vinegar

6 tbs vegetable oil

1 ½ cups SR flour

3 tbs cocoa

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup water

Mix it all together until smooth. Bake in 180 degree oven for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with icing sugar.

Half the cake was eaten before I was able to take a picture so I guess that is a good sign. Did I also mention I got a shiny new cake server?

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When Brisbane River’s breaking, Delilah will be baking

I’m watching the creek across the road swell. I know it will be here eventually and I will hop in my car and drive up the hill to my cousin’s place. But we’re not going just yet. How to pass the time and not worry?

Baking of course.

Unfortunately, I find it hard to pick a recipe as I have no milk. But of course! ANZAC biscuits. They were thus named in a time of war, as they were sent to the soldiers because they lasted a long time. Should we not be able to get groceries for a few days, seems like a wise choice.

250g butter melted and mixed into 2 cups each of flour, rolled oats and coconut. 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 tbs golden syrup and 1 tsp of baking soda. Bake in moderate for 10 minutes. Yum!

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Not Chelsea Buns

Today I set out to make some Chelsea Buns. about half way through I realised I has the wrong recipe and what I was making were Fruit and Nut Scrolls. Pretty similar really, but I don’t get the fun part of smishing them all into a cake tin.

Being a Women’s Weekly recipe, it was pretty hard to ruin, which is useful because I changed most of the ingredients. 

Aside: I substituted apricot jam for Rosella Jam. Up until a month ago I though one could only buy Rosella Jam at a church fete. However, when doing some Christmas shopping I was very excited to stumble upon a jar in Oxfam, and have been very anxious to bake something with it. Oxfam’s is smoother than something a god-fearing granny might make, more gelatine and processing I imagine, but the flavour is satisfying.

I would describe the result of this recipe as damper with stuff in it. This is really quite perfect as I was supposed to be camping today, and would probably be eating damper if Queensland wasn’t such pluvial state.

This recipe also has cloves in it which is a spice I have a particular weakness for (though Paprika is still number one). I added in some Cinnamon, as my instincts feel cloves and cinnamon get lonely without each other.

Here’s a picture:

Fruit and Nut Scrolls:

Dough: 3 cups SR Flour, 2 tsp castor sugar, 50g butter rubbed in, 1 1/3 milk, kneaded and rolled out to 26 x 36 cm rectangle.

Filling: 1/2 cup currants, 1/2 cup sultanas; 2 tbs slivered almonds, 1/3 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp rum, 1/4 cup brown sugar

Sprinkle filling across dough and roll firmly. Chop into 2cm medallions and bake in hot oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Glaze: Heat 2 tbs Rosella jam with 2 tsps water. Brush onto scrolls as soon as removed from oven.

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