Monday, 5 October 2009

Labour Day 2009 (South Australia)

Today is a public holiday, which is why I have the time to have a crack at this blogging caper. I should probably be outside on the beach on a beautiful day like today...
...but instead, I have opted to stay in and bake. And blog. (Note: I did go outside in the end, while the cake was cooling. I did 6,357 steps along the beach and back. Go me!).

On the menu today is Buttery Orange Cake from the Australian Womens Weekly "Cook". This is the book (the tagline is questionable - if you want to know how to cook absolutely everything, by which I mean the basics like roasts and pikelets and puddings and plain cakes, then The Commonsense Cookery Book is what you're after. It's the shizzle. We've got a well-loved paperback version at home):

And "buttery" is certainly no overstatement - the recipe has 250g of butter in it. Mmm, buttery goodness! Two things: 1) The Australian Womens Weekly will hereafter in my blog be referred to as the AWW 2) I got it from my dad for Christmas a few years ago. Here's what he wrote inside the cover:

I haven't actually invited him over for tea yet. Oops.

We have a fan-forced electric oven here in my house by the beach (which we may or may not be getting evicted from in the next three weeks. Not cool). I hate it. I hate it for two reasons: 1) It's electric. 2) It's fan-forced. I grew up with a gas oven, no fan, that's about twice the size of this one. I LOVE it and I MISS it. I like that when you're cooking with it, the temperature specified in the recipe is... wait for it... the temperature you set the oven to!!! None of this "reduce the heat by 20oC" caper!!!
See? The recipe says 170oC but it's on 150oC. And I bet it doesn't cook right, because it never does. Stupid oven (Note: having taken the cake out of the oven a good 15 minutes after the cooking time should have been up, which happened the last three times I baked a cake, I am beginning to question this "reduce the heat by 20oC" malarkey). Grr. I also don't know whether it's my imagination, but gas-cooked things seem to taste better - like they're crispier on the outside, and with a fuller flavour. I reckon electric ovens give a cake flavour that's half-way to a microwave cake. Ugh. Sure, you have to rotate things in the gas oven otherwise you may get a darker (read: burnt) side, but that's all part of the grand adventure that is cooking!
Haha, check out this guy. He was running backwards before, which was quite funny. He's not now, but... oh, never mind. I found it amusing!

Today, I am using a fresh orange for its zest as well as some juice.

It's an AUSTRALIAN orange.

I'm a bit picky about this - I'm against buying non-local produce (unless I really, REALLY want it, in which case it's okay). The lady at the supermarket, for example, was trying to flog grapes the other week by handing out samples. She then told me that they were American grapes (in a very un-enthused voice, mind you). UN-sold! Not that there's anything wrong with American produce, I just won't personally be buying grapes until the Aussie ones hit the shelves in late January. Unless I really, REALLY want them, in which case it's okay.

Mmm, butter/sugar/orange zest *drools*

I'll be using one of those stupid hand-held twin beater-style mixers, which I also HATE. But beggers can't be choosers, and I should be grateful that the Keays family has a) invited me into their home, and b) allowed me to use their STUPID, USELESS PIECE OF CRAP mixer.


Again, I'm probably prejudiced against this equipment because I grew up in a household that had a Kenwood Chef. Best mixer EVER. Although, I hear the Kitchen Aid ones are the Bees Knees too. I'm torn between wanting this beautiful stainless steel Kenwood, and this funky red Kitchen Aid. Sigh. I think I'm in love. Don't be surprised if I end up with both (I'd actually be perfectly happy if I got Nanna's, which Uncle Andrew has, and which I bet he never, ever uses).

So here I am giving it a bit of a leg-up.

I totally shouldn't have to. In order to get to this point, the STUPID, USELESS PIECE OF CRAP mixer made some terrifying groaning noises. Boy, was it struggling, even though I microwaved the butter to soften it before I asked the mixer nicely to please do its very best to cream the butter and sugar for me.
So here it is, being all yummy - butter and sugar, the perfect union, actually improved on by the addition of orange zest (because it makes it less sugary and helps you believe it's good for you - cos there's fruit in it, obviously!) and my favourite step in baking (besides eating the final product, that is).

But guess what.

I didn't eat any of it! And I didn't even lick the bowl! I kind of decided that after yesterday's little dietary glitch at the Croatian Club with Lj and her sisters Anna and Maria (and I probably spelled their names wrong, cos Anna is with a short a, so it's probably Ana, and Maria has a soft, rolly r, so it may be Marija. Then again, I could be talking rubbish. Note to self: check with Lj), that I should go a bit easy on the baked goods today, and save allllll my calories for the finished product.
...Oh, except that I had to taste-test the ganache (both of them), just to make sure there was nothing wrong with the flavour of chocolate mixed with butter, cream and sugar. And nothing wrong with the flavour combination of the two. Cos there are SO many ways THAT could have turned out badly ;)
...Oh, and FYI, I don't "do" Self-Raising flour. No, I do plain flour and baking powder.

2 tsp of baking powder (POWDER, not SODA) to the cup (of plain flour) turns it into SR flour. My mum taught me that. It means you only need to keep one kind of flour in your cupboard, which can serve both purposes. Ain't she a smart cookie? :) Also, see that seive? I bought it yesterday cos this one

was driving me MENTAL!!! See that li'l hexagon thingie?

There's three layers like that, and half your flour/sugar/whatever gets stuck in it, which kinda isn't an option in a household with someone who can't eat gluten.

Adding the OJ to the mix...

Looks a bit vomity, doesn't it.

Much better.

Better still.

The Trail of Destruction...

...from TWO angles!

Uh-oh, I may have over-cooked it.

Stupid oven.

No matter - my aim today is to play with decorating techniques. Instead of the orange glaze that the recipe specifies, I'm covering it with dark chocolate ganache and piping detail in white chocolate ganache. Any potential dryness in the cake should be balanced by the chocolately goodness.

And here it is, all finished.

(my handwriting needs work - I have new-found empathy for the Wreckerators of the world)

And cut.

Nomnomnom. Not dry at all, and the balance between sweet and bitter, each of which are present in both the dark chocolate ganache and the orange cake, is perfect.

I love public holidays!

(and cake)

1 comment:

  1. Ok, this blog thing is excellent, but if you're going to continue I'll need cake sent to me via overnight courier. It is simply unfair to taunt me in this way. You know the address.



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