Monday, August 24, 2009


I discovered these Australian delights during freshman year. They were so good that I made a second batch only a couple of weeks later. When you consider that I'm not much of a cake fan, that's rather impressive. Now, this is my go-to cake recipe, whether I am making lamingtons or just need a birthday cake. It is quite butter rich causing it to be dense enough to hold up to coating in chocolate and coconut for absolute deliciousness.

When I first made these, I described them to my friend Kristen over dinner. Of course, this meant that she had to try one. Once I brought one to her, she laughed in surprised. Although she had never eaten a lamington before, she recognized it from Possum Magic, an Australian children's book. The book has an illustration of the main character, a possum, eating a gigantic lamington!

I have never made a full recipe, since I try to accommodate whatever size cake pan I happen to have. Thus, the measurements that I provide are a bit imprecise. If you are worried about exactness, check out the recipe at NPR.

adapted from Greg Patent on NPR


just under 1 1/4 cups bleached all-purpose flour

a bit less than 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 stick + a tad salted butter, at room temperature

1 (barely overfilled) cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

3/4 cup whole milk (I used skim in this case, and it turned out fine. However, I usually choose to buy a small bottle of whole milk for this recipe.)

Chocolate sauce

2 cups confectioners' sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons salted butter, melted

1/3 cup boiling water

2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

To make the cake, adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 9 x 2–inch baking pan, dust it with flour, and knock out the excess flour.

Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a medium bowl.

Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and the vanilla and beat for 30 seconds. While beating, gradually add the remaining sugar. Scrape the bowl and beater, then beat for 5 minutes on medium-high speed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and beating only until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then cover the cake pan with a wire rack and invert the two. Remove the pan, cover the cake with another rack, and invert the cake again to cool completely right side up.

Drape the cake loosely with a kitchen towel and leave at room temperature overnight.

To make the chocolate sauce, in a medium metal bowl whisk together the confectioners' sugar, cocoa, butter, and boiling water until smooth. Set the bowl into a pan of very hot water to keep the sauce fluid. Spread the coconut in a shallow dish or pie plate. Drop a piece of cake into the chocolate sauce and use two long-tined forks to turn the cake quickly in the sauce to coat all surfaces. Lift the cake out of the sauce, letting excess sauce drip back into the bowl, and transfer the cake to the bowl of coconut. Use your fingers to sprinkle the cake with coconut, rolling it around to coat all surfaces well. Remove the cake from the coconut and set it on a wire cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining cake. Leave the cakes on the wire racks to dry for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lemony Geometric Goodness

"A triangle of pie is the best way ever discovered to round out a square meal," according to the Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook.

Ever since I received this cookbook from Nana, I've meant to try a recipe. However, with a table of contents with everything from custard pies to cake pies to a whole chapter devoted just to pie toppings, picking a place to begin is not easily done. Thankfully, my friend Brooke has raved about lemon chess pies for the past two years. She couldn't believe that I was a Southerner who had never tasted one. Well, I righted that by baking one earlier this week.

And I have to agree with Brooke. Lemon chess pies really are delicious (though fairly sweet), and Southerners and Northerners alike need to try one.

Lemon Chess Pie a la the Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook:

Unbaked 9 inch pie shell (*I made a regular shortening and butter crust rather than our family's traditional oil. I also added a bit of lemon zest to the dough)
2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. cornmeal
4 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
4 Tbsp. lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice

Combine sugar, flour, and cornmeal in large bowl. Toss lightly with fork to mix. Add eggs, butter, milk, lemon zest and lemon juice. (*Note: You're adding dairy and lemon juice together, so of course, it will curdle, but don't worry, it still tastes great.) Beat with rotary or electric beater until smooth and thoroughly blended. Pour into pie shell.

Bake in moderate oven (375 degrees F) 35 to 45 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cut pie while warm.

(Two last notes: It is probably best to refrigerate any extras rather than leaving on the counter indefinitely. Second, the cookbook recommends serving with unsweetened whipped cream. Mom, Dad and I thought that the pie did just fine without it.)

Saturday, August 8, 2009


I believe that what you wear should tell a story. Right now I'm wearing a tank top and a skirt. It's my first real tank top, bought at the mall around with my friend Allison. Skirt, one I made from a favored pattern. Even though it's the wrong type of fabric for the pattern, I knew I wanted to make it work.

I like what's dressing up my food to have a story too. The best stories come when you make it yourself. If food is your clothing, then condiments are the jewelry, adding the sparkle that sets everything off. I haven't tried ketchup--it requires more tomatoes and canning than I have, but I'll venture into other condiments.

Today I made mayonnaise for the first time. The process of making it accentuates how it is FAT. All the more reason to only have a small amount at a time. I think the recipe below makes about a cup of mayo, but I'm not certain. At one point when the blender didn't look like anything was happening I took a step over to the sink to rinse something. Mayo explosion! Be warned.

Mayonnaise in my Blender
(adapted from More With Less)

Whirl in blender:
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Add 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Now for the FAT!

Start your blender. Carefully remove cover (or just cap if you can pour in) and SLOWLY pour in
1/4 cup of oil. (I used olive oil.)

Then add 1 Tablespoon vinegar. (I used white vinegar.)

Finally, and still slowly, add another 3/4 cup of oil.

Nana's Mustard

I haven't made this in the new apartment yet, but it's only a matter of time. It's great sweet-sour, spicy mustardy deliciousness.

Mix: 1/4 c. ground mustard
1/4 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
Dash of salt

Heat to boiling: About 1/3 c. brown vinegar

Stir in enough vinegar into dry ingredients to right consistency.

Add: 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric

Let season one day to develop flavor.

Note: Turmeric is a strong yellow dye, so be careful about getting it on your clothes.