Sponge Cake Mistakes

I watch far too many food TV shows and I read loads of books. And there is a recurring theme about remaining calm when you make a mistake. It’s an incredibly important thing to remember when you are cooking. I set up to make a different type of sponge cake last night, incredibly light and fluffy. So I baked it and to be honest it wasn’t spectacular. The top dropped and when I removed it from the tin it certainly was light, but the dip in the top was painful.

So I had already made the strawberry sauce, with balsamic and lemoncello and I had also made the lemoncello buttercream icing. What to do. Then I had a crazy idea. I quickly whipped up a mix of cream, sugar and mascarpone cheese then I took the caved sponge and halved it normally, but I used the dipped top as the base, spread some of the cream mix on it leaving the dip in the centre, used more cream mix to seal the base of the other half and then filled the dip with the strawberry sauce, put the other half on top. The result was a sealed cake with a surprise  in the centre. I then iced it as planned. And I had some cream and strawberry mix left, a quick swirl, bake two victoria sponges and I had a second cake.

So it was not lost, in fact the final outcome was arguably better than the original plan. When something goes wrong don’t be too fast to bin it. Sit back and think about your options. You never know you could end up with something special. I did.

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The Joy of Fresh Garlic

Fresh local garlic is a little bit of a luxury in Australia. The vast majority of ours comes from overseas and we are pretty much used to its semi dry nature. But I tell you what, have a go at the real thing and it is life changing for a serious foodie and cook. The fresh stuff is completely different, its bleeds when it is cut, not blood obviously, but sensational garlicky goodness. And some varieties like the one I have had to try in this post can even be eaten raw. Incredible.

A friend of mine has done something I would love to do. Pack up move north and buy a farm. Then grow garlic. WHAT? Garlic, yes. The most difficult crop on earth. I have to admire his dedication. I asked him for a little background on the farm.

Darkwood Farm is a family run organic farm in the beautiful Thora Valley on the mid north coast of NSW.

We believe our food supply should be in the hands of family farms and not greedy multinationals.

Our aim is to provide high quality, organically grown produce to consumers direct, from paddock to plate. Our online shop will be operational from June 2013 at www.darkwoodfarm.com.au and the Darkwood Farm Facebook page you will be able to see how we grow our products and follow the entie lifecycle of each crop.

Our first commercial crop is Garlic, of the Russian variety aka known as Elephant garlic due to its large size.

We grow our garlic on the alluvial flats next to the Bellinger River which adjoins our property.

Our next crops will include Ginger and Turmeric as well.

Hopefully from 2014 we will also be able to provide organic handmade goats’ cheese as we are currently selecting the first goats for our herd.

Last week he arrived in Surry Hills on a loud motorbike packing goodies. A pile of fresh garlic got handed to me and I couldn’t wait to try it. Over the weekend I test cooked a few different things including French Garlic and Onion Soup, a Pizza with Garlic and Whitebean Sauce and perfect Spaghetti with Olive Oil and Garlic. There is no where to hide in the last dish, it is just the olive oil and garlic and boy did the garlic do some talking. The difference with fresh is amazing.

So here are a few pictures of the final results. I am no photographer but you get the idea.

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So despite all the clever recipes the funny thing is that it was the simplest thing that absolutely won us all over. Basic pizza dough, some good olive oil and shaved fresh garlic. Absolute perfection.

I encourage you all to follow Darkwood on Facebook so you find out the moment they start selling direct to the public. Try the real thing, you will not regret it.