It was the Australia Day long weekend, and I had it all to myself. SO had taken the kids down the coast for 4 lovely days. I had the house to myself, the remote to myself, the bed to myself and the kitchen to myself. Oh, the quiet, the peace and tranquility, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. But, if truth be told, I can’t sleep when there’s no one here but me. I wake at every sound, I’m paranoid about the windows, the doors and the manhole being open. I leave the fan on, the tv on and the hall light on. And then nod off around 2am. So the kids will get back, it’ll be time to go back to work and I’ll be tired. C’set la vie.
What did I spend my time doing on this all too rare, kid-free weekend? Why, I bottled and baked, I got pampered with a massage and facial (thanks Secret Santa), I cooked and drank and relaxed. I love having time to myself, but by day 4 I miss the kids and am keen for them to come home. Thank God for mobile phones, Facebook and Instagram, they haven’t had a chance to miss me.
Sunday was spent solely in the kitchen and what better opportunity to get my bake on, but for that of an Australia Day function with my ma and pa and their friends, lakeside. I wanted to make a cake to take for dessert after a lunch of fish and chips by the lake at Snapper, and what a cake I would make! I was going to make a wonderful decadent chocolate cake, a rich, thick, deeply chocolate mudcake. So on getting the ingredients out, I realised I had no dark chocolate, no sour cream and no butter. Damn. So I searched my pantry and came up with…with dried figs. Dried figs. Obviously left over from my Christmas baking adventures, and along with half a packet of butter, it would have to do. I googled dried fig cake and found this one.
I didn’t have baking soda, walnuts or buttermilk, either, so I adapted it to fit what I did have. And, by Jove, it worked. Now, if you’re after a really sweet cake, this isn’t the cake for you. When the recipe asked for a tsp of salt I thought that was a little too much, but chucked it in anyway, and maybe this is what gave it it’s slightly savoury edge. It was a good, dense, figgy cake, with a hint of depth from the port. I had 3 people tell me “Fran, I don’t normally like sweet cakes, so this was good, very good”. Bloggable, even. One gorgeous lady went so far as to say it was one of the best cakes she’d had in a very long time. Bless. So, here ’tis.
- 375gm pkt dried figs
- 1/2c buttermilk (I used normal milk and added a tsp of lime juice, this makes buttermilk)
- 1 1/2c plain flour
- 1tsp salt
- 1/2c port
- 1/2tsp cinnamon
- 1/4tsp cloves
- 125gms butter
- 2 eggs
- 1c muscavdo or brown sugar
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1c chopped brazil, walnut or whatever nuts you have handy
The only change to the method of this cake was that I simmered the chopped up figs in the port with a dash of water and then just added it all at the fig-adding stage. Everything else was as per the recipe. It took bang on 45 mins at 180 (yes I know the recipe says 175, so that’s also different). Unless your oven cooks hotter/slower, check with a skewer at the 40 min mark to see if you need to cook any longer. Remembering that this is quite a dense cake, not airy and light. I think I’ll add more port next time and reduce the temp to cook it a bit lower and slower. But I like dense mud-cake like textured cake. Anyway play around with it so you get the consistency you adore.
My mum said that the fig seeds gave a really lovely crackling sensation as she ate the cake. Someone reviewed the cake and suggested pureeing the figs so that they’re not noticeable. I suggest you don’t. Snap, crackle and pop, figgy style.
I’d been given a bag of veg from the lovely Deb at work. Her dad’s garden, unlike mine, has gone ballistic and is producing produce at a rate they can’t keep up with. So I volunteered to take all the extras and do something with it all. First up, I made an Asian inspired flavoured oil, ginger, spring onion and chilli’s from my dad’s and the neighbours garden. I de-seeded the little red chilli’s as I don’t know how hot they were, and I’d rather have control over the heat by adding other heating ingredients when cooking the dishes. But, if you want to, chuck them in whole. Russian Chilli Roulette, why not. I’ve given all these bottles away. Now I need more hand outs to make my own.
In the big bag of stuff, I scored about 6 huge cucumbers and, perfectly timed, this recipe for pickled cucumbers hit my Twitter feed from Becc. It called to me. Here’s hoping they taste a little like those pickles you get on Cheeseburgers. Yum. I know you’re probably thinking, everyone hates those damn pickles that are on the Macca’s burgers, and they inevitably end up on the ceilings of said restaurants, but I love them and will happily eat them from the childrens burgers when they’re cast off in disgust.
And that was that. All free produce gone. I feel a little deflated. What can I cook now?
So there you have it. That folks, is how you spend a long weekend on your Pat Malone. Now, I’m off to finish the cake, indulge in a Meg Ryan rom com marathon and fold all my washing.