Raspberry and Vanilla Tea Cake

 

Raspberry and Vanilla Tea Cake

I always fancied living in another era, it probably comes from secretly reading too many bodice ripping romance novels or, not so secretly, reading Jane Austin or maybe even watching too many episodes of “Downton Abbey”. I can quite imagine myself as Elizabeth Bennett the first time she clapped eyes on Mr Darcy or as Lady Mary swanning around the vast corridors of her stately home in all her satin finery. I think I could become quite a master at casting a gimlet eye at the hapless servants as they scurry about with their dusters and coal buckets while I swanned off to afternoon tea.  However, knowing my luck if I lived in that time I would be the one more likely to be carrying the coal bucket or serving the overlarge tray brimming with ‘cakey’ goodness while at the same time cowering under the acid tongue of the Dowager Duchess … so much for my delusions of grandeur.

I recently discovered that “high tea”, as we call it in Australia, was not originally the delightful gathering of ladies sharing gossip over a leisurely cup of tea with some dainty cucumber sandwiches and tiny bite size cakes. It was, in fact, a custom from Victorian times where the working class of Britain would come home after a day of back breaking work to partake in more substantial fare more akin to an evening meal. The term ‘High’ comes from the height of the table where tea is served, high being a dining table and low being a coffee table.

Anna the Duchess of Bedford is credited for the popularity of the afternoon tea. It was common practice at that time (1800s) to have a late evening meal so by the time 4 o’clock rolled around hunger pangs were starting to set in. Anna would counter this by having tea and biscuits served in her rooms to keep her going until dinner time – clearly she is a woman after my own heart. Anna began sending out invitations to her friends to join her for afternoon tea and it soon became such a popular way to socialise that other middle and upper class households also began adopting the practice of an at home afternoon tea.

Nowadays high teas, or afternoon teas, are more likely to be held in hotels than in your own home, but if you fancy recreating your own version of Downton Abbey and  inviting some friends over to revive a tradition this raspberry and vanilla cake would be perfect for your own “at home” afternoon tea. Now I just have to wonder what Mr LG would look like in a butler’s uniform…hmmm.

Raspberry and Vanilla Tea Cake

Recipe

Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine Issue 76.

Ingredients

  • 120gm unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 220gm caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 225gm plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 125ml milk
  • 100gm frozen raspberries
  • vanilla sugar.

Method

Preheat oven to 160°C. Spray a 26cm loose based tart pan with oil. Line the base with baking paper.

Mix flour and baking powder together in a medium bowl.

Beat the butter, vanilla extract and caster sugar together until light and smooth.

Add eggs one at a time mixing well between additions.

Remove bowl from mixer. Add flour and then milk in two separate additions mixing with a spatula until fully combined,

Scrape batter into the tart pan and smooth the top with a knife or palette knife.

Press frozen raspberries into the top of the batter.

Sprinkle with vanilla sugar

Place pan on a lipped baking tray in case batter leaks from the tart pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely in pan before turning out.

Dust with icing sugar before serving.

Raspberry and Vanilla Tea Cake

Raspberry Swirl and White Chocolate Ice Cream

Raspberry Swirl and White Chocolate Ice Cream

Last week it was lemon stealing wallabies, this week it is dog riding possums. What the??? So here goes: “Once upon a time in a land down under”…. no seriously this is a true story!! Well it all happened at the magic hour of midnight. Mr LG had let the dog out for a last bit of doggie business, it was the middle of winter and so he was wearing his coat which funnily enough resembles a horse blanket (the dog that is not Mr LG :)).

When the dog hadn’t returned after 15 minutes Mr LG went outside to find out where he was. No one was more surprised than me to hear Mr LG call out that there was a possum on the dog’s back. Of course Mr LG hasn’t always let the truth get in the way of a good story so I thought he was pulling my leg. A few seconds later Mr LG dashes in the back door and grabs the torch because, yes, there was indeed a possum hitching a ride on the dog’s back looking not unlike a little miniature jockey.

Mr LG has become quite adept at wrangling wildlife since we moved to Australia so our wee visitor was more than happy to move on after having a torch shone in his eyes. So what did the dog think of all this carry on… not much apparently he didn’t seem overly fazed by his unexpected jockey and in fact was quite happy to follow him off into the woods. This of course meant Mr LG then had to go down the back into the spooky dark to wrangle the dog who chooses to forget his name whenever it suits.

Dogs, possums and cold winter nights aside I ask the age old blogger question – is it ever too cold to eat ice cream? Of course the answer is a resounding NOOOOOOO. And so I present to you this absolutely decadent raspberry swirl and white chocolate ice cream.

 

Raspberry Swirl and White Chocolate Ice Cream

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 quantity of this vanilla ice cream
  • 250gm frozen raspberries
  • 62.5gms sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 120gm white chocolate, chopped coarsely.

Method

Make vanilla ice cream as per instructions here up until it is ready to churn. Refrigerate.

Make raspberry puree by placing raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring to avoid the berries catching. Once the raspberries have released their juice simmer for 5 minutes. Put the berries through a sieve over a bowl to remove the seeds. Set aside for later use.

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil over a high heat. Remove from heat. Place chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl over the hot water until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Start churning the ice cream mix in ice cream machine as per manufacturers’ instructions. When the ice cream is half churned place the melted chocolate in a zip lock plastic bag, cut a small corner off the end of the bag. Hold the bag over the ice cream machine and allow the melted chocolate to drizzle into the ice cream. The chocolate will harden on impact with the cold ice cream and leave chocolate shards through out the ice cream.

Once the ice cream has finished churning scoop into a plastic container. Pour small amounts of the raspberry puree over the top of ice cream. Use a knife and mix to create a swirl pattern. Place ice cream in the freezer to harden.

 

Raspberry Swirl and White Chocolate Ice Cream

 

Cherry and chocolate chip cookies and a lemon stealing wallaby

Cherry and Chocolate Chip Cookies

A family of wallabies has moved into the Lemon Grove garden. At first they stayed way down the back of the section closest to the reserve. Gradually they have made their way closer and closer to the house until just yesterday when I caught one with his greedy paws on my lemon tree. He spotted me just as he plucked the best looking lemon off the tree. So there he is frozen in place staring at me while holding onto his stolen bounty for dear life, then he hopped off at an incredible speed before leaping over the back fence and into safety. It was a surprise to me as while I knew wallabies were herbivores I didn’t know they ate lemons! My lemon stealing wallabies never quite come close enough for a photo opportunity so you will just have to make do with these shots of today’s blog offering: cherry and chocolate chip cookies.

Cherry and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe

Makes 14

Ingredients

  • 125gm unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 85gm caster sugar
  • 85gm light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 165gm plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 100gm chocolate chips
  • 70gm dried cherries.

Method

Heat oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Place the butter, vanilla extract, caster sugar, brown sugar and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix until fully combined.

Remove the bowl from mixer and add in the flour and baking soda in two batches. Mix with a spatula to combine.

Add the chocolate chips and dried cherries and mix in using a spatula.

Scoop heaped tablespoons of the mixture into balls and place on pre-prepared baking tray, allow at least 3-4cm for the cookies to spread.

Bake at 180°C for approx. 12 minutes. Cool on baking tray to allow cookies to firm before moving from the tray.

Cherry and Chocolate Chip Cookies