Tag Archives: cake

Red Cross & kitchen secrets

It’s a special belly today, celebrating 100 years of the Red Cross with a bit of history and a call to arms – get thee to a kitchen, and bake a cake.  And then I will bring you a wonderful session from the recent Byron Bay Writers Festival, ‘Kitchen Confidential’, with Simon Marnie, Christine Manfield, Steve Snow and Jim Hearne.  Find out what chefs really think of customers and critics, dusts and foams, why you should really invite a chef to dinner, and much much more.


The Red Cross in Bangalow is looking for local cooks who can contribute a cake by this Friday, August 15.  They are looking for 100 cakes, and hopefully will get even more.  So get along and support them by buying a cake too.

The BIG CAKE BAKE is a Red Cross fundraiser.  Take your cake, or cupcakes, to the Bangalow RSL Hall, Station Street by 8.30am for judging (or just donate a cake, you don’t need to compete).  Or go along and eat cake!  $5 for a slice of cake and a coffee or tea, from 10 am.  Call Trisha for more info on 0429 882525.

Today’s guest, Trisha Bleakley, has kindly contributed her own seasonal cake recipe to get you inspired.




3 mandarins (large) or 4 medium washed
250 g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
6 eggs
250 g almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
icing sugar, to serve
Cook's notes
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection),
reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1
teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All
herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All
vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are
55-60 g, unless specified.


Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Wash the mandarins and cook in the
boiling water for 2 hours. Drain, allow to cool to room temperature, then
puree. This step can be done ahead of time.

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease and line a 22 cm spring form cake tin
with baking paper. Beat the eggs and caster until well combined. Stir in
the mandarin puree followed by the almond meal and baking powder. Pour the
batter into the prepared tin and dust the top with extra caster sugar. Bake
for 1–1¼ hours, until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the
centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin. Dust with icing sugar, cut into slices and serve.


You can replace the mandarins with 2 oranges (Large)
If citrus is not in season you can use tinned mandarins, puree
Substitute almond meal for hazelnut meal (but it does give it a stronger

Bangalow Banquets & glamorous mullet

Today is the last belly of 2013 for sister D and me, so we've packed it full of goodness for you.  In the first hour, Jody Vassallo will tell us about the wonderful new Bangalow Banquet community cookbook project, then we'll talk  hanukka & stonefruit, in our second hour we have one of Australia's best fish cooks, Paul Wrightson - Byron Beach Cafe executive head chef, here to talk about sustainable and fabulous fishy choices for the party and Christmas season, a new cookbook to give away, news, markets & more, so tune in to the belly kitchen.




Here are a couple of recipes for you from this wonderful community project.  Something old and something new, both highly recommended by our guest Jody.



Chia Crackers recipe submitted by Jody Vassallo

These crackers are the perfect wheat free snack,
top them with a few slices of avocado and a
drizzle of lemon juice or use them as a dipper for
guacamole, salsa or any type of hummus that
takes your fancy.
½ cup chia seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds or flax seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
½ cup almond meal
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon sea salt
225ml water
1 tablespoon tamari

Preheat oven to 160°C (320ºF). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Put the seeds, almond meal, salt and herbs into a bowl and mix to combine.
Whisk together the garlic, water and soy and pour over the seed mix. Stir until combined. Spread onto a
baking tray and bake for 30 minutes, then slice in half and carefully turn over, don’t worry if it breaks you are
going to make smaller crackers in the end. Continue cooking for 25 minutes or until the crackers are crisp.
Allow to cool on the tray before breaking into cracker size pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Avocado Lime & Coriander Dip recipe submitted by Sally Johnston

2 avocados, mashed
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large red chilli, seeded and chopped
1⁄2 small red onion, finely diced
1⁄3 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
3 drops Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste

Place avocado in a bowl. Spoon over 2 tablespoons lime juice and toss gently to coat. Add oil, chilli, onion and
coriander to avocado. Add Tabasco sauce to taste. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently to combine.
Stand for 5 minutes. Serve with crackers


from the section of the cookbook called : The Middle Years 1970s ~ 1990s


5 Cup Cake Recipe submitted by Felicity Scott

Easy, delicious, never fails.

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup soy milk
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup chocolate chips or dried fruit

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a wooden spoon.
Pour mixture into tin and bake in oven for 40 minutes. Serve warm with lashings of butter.
Serves 6-8







fiery saffron aioli and a simple salad


For the fish

1 kg coarse rock salt

2 large free-range eggs

1½ tablespoons fennel seeds

1 lemon

2 portion –sized whole sea mullet or sea bream, from sustainable sources, gutted, scales left on, gills out

1 small bunch fresh basil

1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the aioli

3 large cloves garlic, peeled

1 pinch saffron

sea salt

50 ml olive oil

50 ml good-quality Spanish extra virgin olive oil

For the side salad

½ cucumber, peeled

1 large handful green olives, stoned

2 bbq peeled red capsicums

a few sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped

freshly ground black pepper



This Spanish technique of baking fish in a thick layer of salt is not only quite theatrical, it will also give you the most perfectly cooked fish.

The salt is there to create a little kiln or oven around the fish so don’t; you won't be eating any of it. Make sure the fish isn't scaled because the scales help keep the moisture inside the fish as it cooks.

·         Preheat BBQ or oven on high.

·         Put the rock salt into a large, wide bowl with 2 tablespoons of water, your eggs, fennel seeds and the peeled rind of the lemon.

·         Mix everything together until sticky and claggy

·         spread two-thirds of the mixture around the base of a roasting tray in a thick layer.

·         Stuff the cavity of your fish with the basil and parsley (or any fragrant herbs),

·         lay the fish on the salt bed, and completely cover it with the rest of the salt so you get a layer just over 1.5cm thick.

·         Pat it down firmly, then put into the oven for 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Once cooked, remove from the oven, take a sharp knife and stick it through the salt into the middle of your fish. Carefully touch the knife to your lip and if it's hot, the fish is ready. Leave to one side for 10 minutes and make aioli and salad.


·         pound and mush up the garlic, saffron and a good pinch of salt in a mortar and pestle until you've got a smooth vibrant orange paste.

·         Use the pestle to mix in the olive oil, a drizzle at a time. Be patient and wait until you've got a smooth emulsion before adding the next drizzle.

·         Do the same with the extra virgin olive oil.

·         Add a squeeze or two of juice from your peeled lemon and taste again.


·         slice cucumber and put it into a bowl.

·         Tear the olives and add to the bowl along with the torn-up cleaned capsicums, the parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

·          Season with a little salt and pepper, then toss together.

by now the salt on your fish should be hard as a brick

·         give it a whack around the edges with the back of a spoon

·         peel off the whole salt top

·         Carefully brush the excess salt off your fish

·         then gently move it to a platter using a fish slice.





First up, some fabulous events that are coming up soon.

Kulcha Jam is having a South Indian themed fundraiser this Thursday December 5th.  from 6pm. Russell, the 'dosa' man will be cooking up a
delicious dinner followed by sweet delicacies made by other CO*OP members
who are caterers, chefs, cooks and food lovers.  There is lots of wonderful music, including Ben Walsh, Si Mullum from Wild Marmalade, and a Bollywood Sisters dance, and lots of Bhangra and Bollywoood music to get down to.  It's cheap and for a good cause, all proceeds to the food and music co-op.  At the Byron Arts and Industry Estate, 1 Acacia St, more info on www.kulchajam.org/coop or facebook.  And listen up to belly next week for co-op updates, as Alice will be visiting Sister Michael.

All that dancing on Thursday will get you limbered up for an evening of aphrodisiac delights at the Bangalow A&I Hall, on this Saturday December 7 at 7pm.  Check your local papers or listen to Arts Canvass this Thursday on bayfm for more.  Or check out the excellent blog by Megan one of the organisers – aphrocuisine.wordpress.com
It has lots of lovely recipes, worth checking out even if the only one you're loving at the moment is yourself.  Creative pairings like  Scallops with Custard Apple, Tarragon & Almonds, which the bellysisters have been given permission to share with you.  The menu for the Byron event includes in season watermelon and cucumber salad with rose geranium and toasted coconut, and mango curd tartlets.  mmm.  But maybe you shouldn't look at the menu, because you may be playing games like blindfolding your dining partner (or maybe someone else's, we don't know) and feeding them.          email : aphrocuisine@gmail.com or call 0431 911 403

And then feed your brain and your soul at the 2013 UPLIFT Festival – it  brings together some of the world's  most innovative advocates for global sustainability and oneness.  Byron Bay, 12-15 December.  Speakers who focus on food issues include locals happiness economist Helena Norberg-Hodge, who is a world renowned activist, writer and filmaker,  ex-bayfm presenter of the Healing Wave, Janella Purcell,  Jeffrey Smith, from the US, director of The Institute for Responsible Technology, on GMOs, and the delightful and insightful Vandana Shiva from India, biodiversity and seed freedom campaigner.  She calls patent and intellectual property laws of the World Trade Organisation "a tool for creating underdevelopment" with "only a negative function: to prevent others from doing their own thing; to prevent people from having food; to prevent people from having medicine".  If you can't get to Byron Bay or are looking for a cheaper option, you can subscribe to a live high quality web stream of the event.  See upliftfestival.com



The Northern Rivers region of New South Wales is blessed with a basket of
riches that is vitally connected to both land and sea. Whilst the coastal
plains and valleys are home to an abundant variety of crops and livestock,
the Tweed, Richmond and Clarence rivers provide a connection to the sea and
the sumptuous seafood that inhabits the coastal waters. In hand with a
number of producers, distributors, retailers, restaurants and cafes, the
farmers, growers and fisherman are all pulling together to celebrate the
quality and diversity that contributes to the provenance of the region.

In the Autumn of 2014, Northern Rivers Food are presenting the region's
inaugural Harvest Festival and are calling on all participants in the food
industry to take part on in what will be a week of events to celebrate and
showcase our finest offerings.
Running from the 26th April to the 4th of May 2014, the Harvest Festival
will host two signature activities that will be co-ordinated by Northern
Rivers Food. The first being the 3Rivers Farm Gate Tours which involve bus
tours visiting source of our amazing produce, and the other being the Long
Table Lunch. Surrounding these two events, growers, producers and
restaurants have the opportunity to create complimentary events (either
individually or in collaboration) across the week.
Want to get involved? Submit your event idea now!

An urban farmer & 2 librarians

the Lennox Head library recipe club - Katie is at the back in blue



Today on belly we went to an urban farm in Mullumbimby, the home of Sharon Gibson, abundant with enough plants to supply most of her family’s food needs, chooks, ducks & even guinea fowl. In the second hour we visited the very new Byron Bay library with Brenda Anderson, who gets to choose the books, including the cookbooks, & the Lennox Head library with Katie Brown, who has just started a recipe club & already has many great stories to tell.




Sharons garden part 1

Sharons garden – keeping ducks & other poultry

Sharons garden March – rainy weather & seasonal advice

Sharons garden March – Asian greens


For details of Sharon Gibson’s classes go to www.byroncollege.org.au/sustainability/


Katie Brown – part 1

Katie Brown – part 2

Katie Brown – part 3


Brenda Anderson part 1

Brenda Anderson part 2

Brenda Anderson part 3




Preheat oven to 170C and grease and line tin.




60g butter

1/2 cup golden syrup – I have used agave and it’s nice too


Place the above in a saucepan, stir on low heat until melted


1 cup plain flour

1 tspn bicarbonate soda

1 tspn mixed spice

1 heaped tspn ground ginger

1/2 cup caster sugar

Pinch of salt


Place above in a bowl


Add 1 egg

1/2 cup milk – mix until smooth


Gradually add butter mixture

Pour into prepared tin

Bake 45-55 mins or until firm to touch

Allow to cool 5mins



1/2 cup sugar


1tblespoon grated fresh ginger


Bring to boil and simmer 5 minutes

Pour over hot cake

This makes enough for a bar tin.


Click here to go to the Richmond Tweed Library website for all events info, including the recipe club and school holidays activities




Info below is from the library site (the event is free):

Friday 5th April at 11am

Join Victoria Cosford Byron based food journalist, author and restaurant reviewer as she discusses her favourite food finds of the Northern Rivers.

Victoria lived in Italy for four years, this adventure gave birth to her first book, a ‘gastro-memoir’ entitled “Amore and Amaretti – A Tale of Love and Food In Tuscany”. Back in Australia she worked in advertising with the Italian newspaper ‘La Fiamma’ followed by the Sydney Morning Herald before throwing it all in to pursue her passion for cooking and teaching cooking.

Bookings are essential please call 66876398 to reserve your place.




(The information below comes from Southern Cross University)


The native Davidson’s plum has been a staple of the Indigenous diet in the rainforests of Queensland and northern NSW for thousands of years. Now Southern Cross University is investigating the health benefits of this Australian bush food.

The University’s Special Research Centre Southern Cross Plant Science is seekingparticipants for a new study looking at the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of the Davidson’s plum (Davidsonia jerseyana), often referred to locally as the Mullumbimby plum.

The study is being conducted by Professor Stephen Myers and Dr Don Baker from the NatMed-Research Unit of Southern Cross Plant Science. Blackmores is financing the study and providing the study medication.

“Davidson’s plum has a long history of use as a food, both by Indigenous people and early settlers in Australia, and is now grown commercially for human consumption in jam, wine, ice-cream and sauces,” said Professor Myers.

“Laboratory studies have confirmed the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the plum, suggesting that it may be beneficial in stopping oxidative damage which is a major cause of cell ageing.  “We are now testing it in humans to explore this potential.”

During the study, participants will take a 100mL daily dose of an active medication for a fortnight, which is approximately equivalent to eating four Davidson’s plums per day.

The researchers are looking for people who are:

• women and men aged between 18 and 40 years

• smokers or non-smokers

• reasonably healthy

• able to travel to the University’s Lismore campus

For more information about taking part in the study, contact Shelley Robinson by calling 0419 098 018 or email plum@scu.edu.au


Love and chocolate covered books, sister T




Rosie, World Skills comp & Aries nibbles

On air on Byron Bay’s bayfm 99.9 on March 25, 2013


Today we have so many wonderful guests that I have cancelled most of my belly bits, so you can listen to…fabulous local Rosie Lee, who dressed up as a flying pig for one cause & is now covered in bees for another. World Skills regional winning local chefs Nadia de Jong & Joseph O’Grady . The fabulous belly astrogourmet, Lilith, with tipples & nibbles for Aries. And 2 wonderful gentlemen bellysisters, Ilias & Robert, in the belly kitchen. Ilias is learning to make delicious radio for you, & Robert has just come back from Womadelaide with some of his favourite music to share with us.





150g self raising flour

150g cornflour

250 g butter, room temp

1 vanilla bean seeds scraped

4 tbsp icing sugar sifted



60 g butter, room temp

150g icing sugar

1/2 passionfuit


Preheat oven to 160 C

Sift flour and cornflour

Cream butter, vanilla seeds and sugar in electic mixer till light and fluffy

Add flours and mix thoroughly

Place small spoonfuls on buttered tray or use piping bag with 1 cm star nozzle for swirl pattern

Bake 15 to 20 mins till golden, place on wire rack et WOILA !



cream butter, icing sugar and passionfruit till creamy

Small amount on one biscuit and top with another.


Store in airtight container




Cream 1/2 cup sugar with 1 tablespoon butter, add 2 tablespoons flour, the juice and rind of one lemon, 1 cup of milk and the beaten yolk of one egg.

Stiffly beat the egg white, fold into mixture and pour into a greased pie-dish. Place in a dish containing water and bake till browned in a moderate oven. A light cake mixture rises to the top, with a lemon curd sauce beneath.


All time fave recipe my mum used to make. Copied from her ancient old cookbook, the Woman’s Mirror Cookery Book.

My son loves it too !!




CSG  ISSUES – for lots of links and information go to the facebook page: CSGFreeByronBay

Or just look for the tent at local markets – it’s very yellow.



Today we have two upcoming local apprentice chefs Joe O Grady and Nadia de Jong who recently won the World Skills regional cooking competition and competed for the nationals placing 6th and 8th amongst strong fully qualified chefs!

They’ve studied at Wollongbar TAFE under the guidance of David Forster and Mary Allen and have blossomed into their roles as chefs in Fleurs Ballina and Harvest Newrybar.

Keep an eye out for these young talented chefs in the future

Opa!    ilias the GREEK


ASTRONIBBLES AND ASTRONIBBLES FOR ARIES – by Lilith the belly astrogourmet


Aloha Tess, today we¹re talking what kind of appetizer plate to bring to an Aries birthday celebration, and since we¹re both Aries today¹s program is all about guess who – yes, us.

Like all fire signs we like hot food, and are particularly partial to red food. But whatever you decide to birthday us with, think food with attitude: as in feisty flavors, spices, chili, Indian, Thai, and abandon bland.  Also  being Show Don¹t Tell people, despite how often you say you love us, we¹d really like to see that demonstrated by your going to a hell of a lot of trouble concocting celebration snackies to tweak our tastebuds and ignite our appetites..

Being the first sign of the zodiac Aries love the first course better than anything and would be happily satisfied with a selection of starters. Being creatures of extremes, we like both totally raw food or else food to which serious heat has been applied. So I’m putting my hand up for Individual Aries-red Roast Tomato and Bocconcini Tarts with rocket pesto, which makes tasty use of autumn produce. Because Aries are such individuals and this is a segment on finger food, we¹d like to put you to the time and trouble of making these tarts personalized, bite size and served up on a heart shaped betel leaf ­ because despite our fiery tempers we are all heart. Where to find? Betel leaves are dead easy to grow or available from the farmers markets. They’re actually a bit chewy raw, so if you think that mightn’t appeal to your particular Aries, Vietnamese sources suggest wilting them with a light grilliing, which also releases their peppery fragrance.

We¹ll cater to our raw natures in the drinkies department Tess with your personal favorite, suitable for both the alcohol-loving and alco-shunning Aries, the Virgin Mary ­ or its vastly more popular deflowered version, the Bloody Mary. The Virgin Mary, suitable for teetotallers and designated drivers simply omits vodka from the recipe, and is apparently also known in Australia as the Bloody Shame.

According to Wikipedia The Bloody Mary has been called “the world’s most complex cocktail” and barman Fernand Petiot who claimed to have invented it in 1921, described its construction thus: Cover the bottom of the shaker with four large dashes of salt, two dashes black pepper, two dashes cayenne pepper and a layer of Worcestershire sauce; then add a dash of lemon juice, cracked ice, two ounces of vodka and two ounces of thick tomato juice, shake, strain, and pour. Note no Tabasco in his original recipe.

I loved reading about the creative variations of this drink, ie. The Bloody Maria using Tequila instead of vodka, the Bloody Fairy with absinthe, Bloody Murder featuring wasabi sauce and the Bloody Hog made with Bacon Vodka  -­ who knew such a thing existed ­ all there in the wonderful world of google. My favorite has to be the Flaming, Frozen Bloody Mary, which is a frozen Bloody Mary topped with overproof rum and ignited in a ceramic mug to avoid shattered glass.  [please don’t try this at home]. I won’t even mention the version garnished with a sausage, or the desperate marooned people forced to use pasta sauce.

We here in the Bay can just get creative with chili or citron vodka, a little fresh horseradish, so some oysters. So Bottoms Up and happy birthdays, Aries.





110g plain flour

Pinch of icing sugar

60g cold butter

1 egg yolk

250g cherry tomatoes

1 tub of baby bocconcini, drained

extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup fresh basil pesto

Fresh basil leaves, to garnish



 Preheat oven to 190°C.

Sift flour, icing sugar and a pinch of salt into a food processor, add butter and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and 1-2 tablespoons of cold water. Process until mixture forms a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes

 Bring pastry to room temperature, roll out on a lightly floured surface and use it to line indvidual tart pans with removable bases. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Line the pastry-lined pan with aluminium foil and fill with pastry weights or rice. Bake for 10 minutes.

 Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes in the oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 Remove tarts from oven, remove foil and weights. Return to oven with the tomatoes on a separate baking tray for 5 minutes or until pastry is golden and tomatoes have softened slightly. Spread a little pesto over base of each tart and fill with bocconcini and tomatoes. Place in oven for 5 minutes to warm through. Serve with remaining pesto and basil leaves.




Greek cookbook : Tess Mallos

Lansdowne Press – Last print 1976


Eggs – Michel Roux

Quadrille publishing – Last print 2007


THE MUSIC today was very tasty I thought, thank you so much Sister Robert for the Womad tracks, and Rosie and Lilith for sharing some favourites too. Go here (bayfm page) for the full list and lots of videos


Love and chocolate bunnies,


Sister Tess


facebook page: CSGFreeByronBay

reverse cooking, positively strawberry & the art of the sponge

on air on bayfm’s 99.9 on August 1, 2011




By Khiara Brown (11 years old)

Miss August – Alison Drover

The sun is shining and the strawberries are putting smiles on everyone’s’ lips. Spring is on the way and it is the time for kissing goodbye the cold.   Take time to savour the winter vegetable soups – conserve and preserve surplus so that you can enjoy them in the months to come.
Asian greens are high in magnesium and so easy to cook.
Look for Choy sum, wombok, bok choy and use finely chopped cabbages with
Root vegetables – turmeric,  galangal, ginger and spring onions.
Eat locally and waste not, enjoy August

X Alison Drover

What’s in season around Australia in August

Brussel sprouts
Cabbage green and red
Silver beet
Sweet potato
Oranges Navel and Seville

ASIAN ROOT FAST CONFIT – perfect for vegetables and for basting chicken

Typically when we make a sauce or stirfry we add our ingredients to the oil.
This technique is the opposite as the hot oil is poured over the ingredients.  The benefit is that you have a concentrated flavour and infusion.
This is one recommendation however you can vary this according to individual preference and what is in season

•    3 stalks fresh lemon grass peeled and chopped
•    1 tablespoon ginger  – peeled and grated finely
•    1 tablespoon galangal root – peeled and grated
•    ½ tablespoon turmeric root – peeled and grated
•    2 shallot – peeled and sliced finely
•    1 clove of fresh local garlic peeled and chopped

½ cup of Sesame oil or vegetable cooking oil

*Variations – add 1 piece of lemon zest or orange approximately 5cm x 5cm piece,  palm sugar, coriander roots chopped

Put all the ingredients into a heatproof bowl  – ceramic style bowl is great.
Heat  oil in a saucepan until it is spluttering but not burning or smoking.
Pour the oil over the mix and combine. It will splutter and crackle which is the idea as all the ingredients are cooking.



Cook up some a mix of Asian greens whatever is in season and available. Add your root oil mix and then serve.


Take a pastry brush and brush the chicken with the oil and then roast in the oven. Alternatively for a stronger more intense flavour pour over the oil and leave to marinate overnight before cooking.

THE PERFECT SPONGE – made even more perfect with strawberries

Alison writes for Sprout Magazine  and these are her thoughts on baking the perfect sponge.

Sponges look easy but really test  our baking skills yet they are well worth the patience and can be enjoyed all year around filled with jam in summer, lemon butter in winter as it gets really cold with marmalade and some real custard.
The test is following the instructions and understanding the principles of baking as you go step by step. The proof is my confession that one of the first sponges I made for this article failed, which further highlighted for me the difficulty in baking and the art of the sponge. It was actually a blessing though, as it made me provide much more detail in the method so you can get the perfect sponge every time.
The following recipe seems to be the one that works. Duck eggs are best but if you can’t get these, go for the freshest eggs you can get. If your oven is not fan-forced or has a fan-forced function that can be switched off, preheat oven to 190°C and move the oven rack to about one-third of the way up from the base of the oven. If you are using a fan-forced oven or are not able to turn the fan off, preheat oven to 170°C.
You will need two 20cm diameter cake pans that are at least 5cm deep. Grease the inside of the pans and line the bases with a circle of non-stick baking paper, then grease the baking paper (this will make it easier to pull the baking paper off the cake when removed from the oven)

100g (2/3 cup) self-raising flour
50g (1/3 cup) cornflour (cornstarch)
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
5g (1 teaspoon) butter, at room temperature
60ml (3 tablespoons) boiling water
4 large eggs, at room temperature (I used eggs with a minimum weight of 59g)
150g (2/3 cup) caster sugar

Sift the self-raising flour, cornflour and salt together three times to remove lumps, aerate, and thoroughly combine the ingredients.
Once the ingredients have been thoroughly sifted, place the sifter over a bowl or on a piece of greaseproof paper to catch any flour that might escape from the sifter and return the flours to the sifter. Set aside.
Place the butter and boiling water in a small heatproof jug. The water needs to be hot so that the butter will completely melt.
Break the eggs into a large bowl. Using an electric mixer beat on medium-high speed for about 10 seconds to combine the yolks and whites. With the beaters running, add the sugar and continue beating on medium-high speed for about 6 minutes When you lift the beaters, the mixture that falls from the beaters should sit on top of the egg mixture (rather than sinking in).
Sift about one third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture, and using a large deep spoon, gently but quickly fold the flour into the egg mixture until nearly combined. Sift half the remaining flour over the egg mixture and gently fold until nearly combined.
Sift the remaining flour over the egg mixture and pour the water/butter mixture around the edges of the bowl. Fold the ingredients together, making sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl as you fold so the water combines with the other ingredients and doesn’t remain in a pool at the base of the bowl. Don’t mix any more than is necessary to combine the ingredients—if you knock too much air out of the mixture the resulting cakes will be flat and tough.
Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared pans.
If your oven has any hot spots, try to avoid placing the cake pans in the hottest areas of the oven. Bake for 20–24 minutes or until the cakes are lightly golden and spring back when gently pressed in the centre. Don’t use a knife/skewer to test the cakes in case they deflate.
Place a piece of non-stick baking paper on a wire rack, and turn the cakes out onto the baking paper. The baking paper helps prevent the tops of the cakes from being marked by, or sticking to, the wire rack. Gently peel the baking paper off the cakes.
Turn the cakes over so they are top-side up. Place a piece of greaseproof paper loosely over the cakes while they are cooling to help prevent them from drying out.
Spread a thin layer of strawberry or raspberry jam on one of the cakes—the least attractive side as it won’t be visible—top with a layer of fresh whipped real cream, gently place the other sponge on top.
Make a real pot of leaf tea, gather around and enjoy immediately.


•    Use eggs at room temperature—and for goodness sake use organic or free-range.
•    To ensure good volume, use a metal spoon with a cutting and sweeping action when mixing in the flour—any grease in the bowl, even a small amount of yolk with the egg whites, will prevent the sponge from rising.

Principles of cake baking
•    Beating introduces air into the mixture, therefore, beat butter, sugar and eggs well together in some varieties, and eggs thoroughly in all cases.
•    Beating the mixture after adding the flour and any fruit forces out the air; therefore never beat mixtures after the flour and fruit are added.
•    Air expands with heat, thus raising and lightening mixtures, so a hot oven is necessary.
•    Large cakes, if baked quickly, brown on the outside before being baked through. Small cakes baked slowly lose their moisture through evaporation and become dry and hard, therefore, bake large cakes slowly and small cakes quickly.
•    Lay one or two layers of paper over the top of large cakes, to prevent them over-colouring.

Other reasons cakes can fail

•    Ingredients. Bad or damp flour, rancid butter, cheap, dirty, or dry fruit, doubtful eggs, inferior sugar.
•    Methods. Rubbing the butter into the flour badly, or creaming the butter and sugar together insufficiently.
•    Moving cakes before they are set, this causes them to sink, and sometimes form holes in the centre. Banging the oven door during baking produces the same effects.
•    Not testing cakes with a skewer to ascertain if they’re thoroughly baked before removing from the oven.
•    Placing cakes when baked in such positions that the steam is unable to escape, with the result that it condenses inside the cake, and causes it to become heavy.

STRAWBERRY MUFFINS – made with buttermilk
small is beautiful and no need for a muffin top – quality over quantity
Recipe Alison Drover

Makes 10 muffins

•    380g flour plain
•    150g sugar
•    1tsp baking powder
•    pinch of salt
.        150 grams butter
•    2 eggs organic or free range please
•    300ml buttermilk
•    ½ vanilla bean
*   1 punnet local strawberries – rinsed, hulled (green bit removed from the top) and then chopped roughly but taking care not to squash   the fruit or bruise it.
*  ½ cup approx Demerara sugar

Weigh flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir don’t  beat several times with a whisk.
Melt butter – take care not to split the butter so melt slowly on the stove on low. Break eggs into a separate bowl and stir in the buttermilk and vanilla.
Pour the eggs over the melted butter and then place the bowl over the gas flame.
Stir continuously and until it is about 38 degrees blood temperature. (If you use a temperature once you will know what this should be for the future)
Gently fold the wet and dry ingredients. Don’t worry if there are a few lumps as it is more important that your dough is not overworked, as this will make your muffins heavy.
Add chopped strawberries halfway through this process.
Take a metal spoon and knife and transfer to patty tins.
Sprinkle carefully so as not to spill on the tin as this will burn the top the sugar on each individual muffin. This will give the muffins the crunchy top, which is delicious and also compliments the strawberries by creating a toffee like top.
and bake for 150 degrees Celsius for 20-25 mins.



The Sydney Morning Herald this week is investigating sales of rural land in NSW.
Mining and energy companies have bought up more than 35 000 hectares .  Foreign investors in agriculture have bought 225 000 hectares – both just in the last year.  The dominance of overseas buyers is being put down to Australia’s openness to foreign investment, and recent difficulties in getting credit within Australia.  There is growing worldwide demand for agricultural produce, as well as rising prices for mineral resources, especially coal and natural gas in NSW.  Many farming communities are concerned about agricultural land being used for mining.  Mining companies say some land is being bought as environmental offsets, and will not be lost to farming.

Do you remember all the rain we had in the first half of this year?  Unfortunately it also fell in most of Australia’s wine regions.  Wine grapes really don’t like rain just before and at harvest time, it dilutes the flavours and tends to cause rot.  So when you see the 2011 vintage on a bottle, maybe look for wines from Western Australia, which had very little rain.  The NSW hunter Valley was also ok.  You should expect very cheap prices though, as it was a big harvest.  Experts are concerned that many winemakers added concentrated grape juice to low quality wine to boost alcohol levels and richness, which is legal but doesn’t lead to a fabulous wine.  Concentrate has little flavour and can also be made from rot affected grapes.  Former Winemakers association of Australia president Alister Purbrick says as much as a quarter million tonnes of grapes may have been made into concentrate this year.

In local news, the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival starts this week, with workshops from today and festival events all over the region.  The main event is back at the old beach resort aka North Byron.  Festival director Candy Baker told me on the weekend she is predicting a mini draught for the rest of the week.  No cooking workshops this year unfortunately, but plenty of lunches and dinners.  Food obsessed festival guests include locals Belinda Jeffery and Janella Purcell, last year’s Masterchef winner Adam Liaw, and Victoria Alexander.  The very first session on Friday, at 9am, is called ‘eat my words, why we love foodbooks’, so make sure you get there for that one.  There’s also a new event, called Writers at the Lakehouse, where you can have a nice cuppa tea or coffee, and hopefully a biscuit, with your favourite writer.  This is a separately ticketed event, with tickets available at the Box Office on the day, so you could go along just for that.  15 people per writer, five writers in the Lakehouse at any one time.

It’s a good time for cookbook writers.  At the Australian Book Industry awards last year, 5 out of 6 finalists in the illustrated book category were food books. And the first Masterchef winner, Julie Goodwin, won with “Our family table”, beating books by 3 well known food professionals.  The  Award for outstanding service to the Australian book industry went to the first lady of Australian cooking teachers, Margaret Fulton. She is the first woman in six years to win the award and the first cookbook writer.