Waiting for Agnes

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Squatter’s rights October 3, 2010

Three years ago the beloved’s sister, SF, and her husband, The Doctor, left most-liveable-Melbourne to live and work in far away places. They packed up their house and sent their cat and their excellent kitchen appliances to the foster care of friends and family. Beige Lightening, their cat, was only a temporary foster child for us, jetsetting off to join his parents after a few months of hanging out with his furry cousins (Possum Tail and Whelan The Wrecker). Happily, the fostered kitchen appliances remain. One of these is the ice-cream machine – a Simac Il Gelataio that churns and freezes with a quiet hum that belies its speed and vigour.

If you had to write a priority list of kitchen appliances, an ice-cream machine might fall in the middle somewhere. Far less essential than a kettle, but more important to everyday life than a poffertje pan. Nothing else can do the job as efficiently (the ice-cream churning attachments for freestanding mixers are not nearly in the same league) but, on the other hand, there’s nothing else they can do. You might only use it five times a year but home-made ice-cream is approximately 450% better than the stuff from the shops (with the possible exception of Maggie Beer’s tiny tubs of joy that cost approximately 450% more per litre than Moet). You can make any flavour you fancy, to use seasonal fruits or match flavours to your meals, and you can make any quantity (only got 150 mls of cream? make half). Not yet convinced of your own need? Then beg or borrow one, or sneak into someone’s kitchen and use theirs to make this:

Blackberry Raspberry Ice Cream

Vanilla base:

300 mls of full fat milk

300 mls of cream

1 vanilla pod

6 egg yolks (I used little silkie eggs – the 6 yolks weighed in at 85 grams)

100 grams of caster sugar

Blackberry & Raspberry compote:

250 grams of blackberries

125 grams of raspberries

160 grams of brown sugar

~a tablespoon of water

For the blackberry and raspberry compote:

Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the fruit is starting to break down. I used frozen blackberries and fresh raspberries, but you could have both frozen or both fresh, it really doesn’t matter, it will just take a little longer if the fruit is frozen. If it gets too liquidy, just drain a little of the liquid off. When you’re happy with it, set aside to cool while you make the vanilla ice cream base.

For the vanilla ice cream:

Put the milk and cream into a medium size saucepan. Split the vanilla pod lengthways. Scrape the seeds into the saucepan and then add the pod as well.

Over medium heat, bring the mixture to just below boiling – it will steam a little and then foam. Turn off, cover and leave to infuse for at least fifteen minutes.

In the meantime, whisk your egg yolks with the sugar until pale and thickened. When it’s ready it will fall like ribbons from the whisk.

Get ready:

Set a sieve over a bowl. Rest this bowl in a larger bowl with some iced water in the bottom. Set aside.

When the milk mixture has infused, remove the vanilla pod and discard it. Then add the milk mixture to the eggs and sugar, whisking continually until well combined.

Return the mixture to the saucepan over a medium-low heat.

Heat, stirring continually, until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon thickly. This will take 6-7 minutes. Voila – vanilla custard!

Take off the heat immediately and pour through the sieve into the waiting bowl.

Allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Churn it in your ice-cream machine (or whosever it may be) until it’s almost set, then add the berry compote and continue churning until combined and set. Then transfer to a container (at least 1 litre in size) and freeze. Alternatively – if you want it to have a swirl/ripple effect – transfer the vanilla ice cream to a 2 litre container and swirl the berry compote through with a spoon, then freeze until set.

Now, if you can, be patient for at least a few hours. If you try it immediately, the vanilla flavour still overwhelms the berries, but a few hours later the berry flavour intensifies and is just beautiful. The beloved had hers with a dark chocolate sauce and was very happy indeed. I had mine on its own, but was imagining how lovely it might be with these chocolate puddings. Equally, serve with some fresh berries, or reserve a little of the compote to spoon over the top.

SF and The Doctor, we do miss you terribly and we will be so very happy when you come back to Melbourne, but my it will be hard to see the foster children leave home.

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So long and thanks for all the apples September 24, 2010

Filed under: Beautiful baking,Cakes to covet — titchandboofer @ 10:02 pm
Tags: , ,

The Nanna and Coach have gone off traveling once more. They travel every couple of months, be it to cling to the bunks of a ship in the wild Antarctic seas, or to venture all the way to London’s borough market and bring home muesli. I am a little sad, as their absence means no Nanna Day each week for the small person and no Family Dinner Night each week for all of us. I’m also a teeny bit jealous, itching to go somewhere hot and sticky, where coconuts with straws are sold from roadside carts and you can swim at dawn – when the baby wakes up – and snooze in the afternoon. But I am also a little happy, as their departure means we inherit their perishables: salty black olives, fillets of snapper, bulbs of fennel, fancy yoghurt, extra eggs and shiny, crisp Granny Smith apples.

Farewell Cake

3 small Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored, quartered and finely sliced

250 grams of blackberries (frozen is fine, even preferable as they will hold their shape better during mixing)

350 grams of self-raising flour, sifted

250 grams of dark brown sugar

250 grams of natural yoghurt (or flavoured, whatever you fancy)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

125 grams of unsalted butter

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (160 fan forced).

Butter and line a 23cm springform tin.

In a small bowl, melt the butter and set it aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, dark brown sugar and cinnamon, whisking to break up the sugar (you could sift it, but that’s far more time consuming).

Add the apple and blackberries and stir gently. I didn’t want to make the blackberries mushy and turn the whole cake purple.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add the yoghurt and melted butter, whisking to combine.

Add this mixture to the flour, sugar and fruit.

Fold gently until combined. The batter will be dense and sticky.

Scrape into your prepared tin.

Bake for 1 and 1/4 hours.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Lovely eaten warm and not at all bad cold either.

It’s quite a dense cake, thickly studded with the tangy, juicy berries and slivers of apple that still keep a bit of bite to them. Slightly cinnamony, but not at all overwhelming. In fact, if you love cinnamon you could add an extra half a teaspoon and be very happy. We ate it all by itself, but a big dollop of creme fraiche or real vanilla yoghurt couldn’t hurt. And needless to say, it goes very nicely with a great big mug of tea.