For my international readers, the 26th of January is Australia Day – a day where we get to take the day off work and have a BBQ, or go to the Big Day Out, or in my case make lamingtons! Lamingtons are a quintessentially Australia sweet treat and I thought it would be a perfect way to celebrate the day (I was initially going to bake pavlova but New Zealand has claimed rights to it!)
The lamington has its origins back in the early 1900s and apparently were named after Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland during that period. Lord Lamington was believed to have hated the dessert that had been named in his honour, referring to them as “those bloody poofy woolly biscuits” (haha thank you Wikipedia!)
Lamingtons were traditionally made with old sponge cake that was cut up and dipped in a runny mixture of icing sugar, cocoa and milk and then rolled in desiccated coconut. An ingenious way of using up leftover cake! But let’s be honest, who has leftover cake lying around?! Certainly not me! I would have eaten it. So I did something I never do, and purchased a store-bought cake. Now before you call me a hypocrite and start the Swah-bashing, lamingtons are far easier to make using store bought/old cake as freshly baked cake crumbles and falls apart. Also, I didn’t have time to bake a sponge. So maybe I was being a little lazy too.
I thought I would “turn up the volume” (thanks Ina Garten) on these lamingtons and dip them in a ganache made of dark chocolate and cream, and then split and fill them with berry jam and whipped cream. HEAVEN.
- 1 store bought sponge cake
- 220g dark chocolate
- 400ml thickened cream (250ml for the ganache and 150ml for the filling)
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- ½ cup jam (strawberry, raspberry, rhubarb – whatever you like)
- Using a serrated knife, cut your cake into relatively even squares (mine were around 3cm x 3cm).
- Transfer the squares of cake to 2 lined baking trays and let them dry out a bit whilst you get to work on the ganache (it makes your dipping and rolling job much easier).
- Over a double boiler or a VERY low heat, melt your chocolate into 250ml of the cream until smooth. Let this sit for around 30 mins and allow to thicker slightly.
- Get a big plate and sprinkle enough coconut onto it to cover the surface.
- Now the dipping – you might have your own technique but mine involved: skewer the square of sponge and dunk into the smooth chocolate ganache. Using a spoon in your other hand, pour spoonfuls of chocolate over and around the sponge until completely covered in chocolate. Use the skewer to life the sponge out of the chocolate bowl and let excess chocolate drip off.
- Plonk the chocolate covered square of cake into your plate of coconut. Using 2 forks, gently roll the cake around until completely covered in coconut. Use the forks to gently lift the lamington off the plate and back onto your lined baking tray to set.
- Repeat with each square of cake, replenishing the coconut on the plate whenever it runs low.
- Let the chocolate on the lamingtons set properly (I left mine over night but an hour should be fine) and then using a serrated knife, gently slice each lamington in half length ways.
- Pour your remaining cream into an electric mixer and whisk until soft peaks form.
- Take the lid off your first lamington and dab a small teaspoon of jam on the cut side of the bottom half. Then add a small teaspoon of whipped cream and put it’s lid back on.
- Repeat the process of filling each lamington (it’s much easier to spread the jam on first)
Tonight I am off to see Icelandic band Amiina play at the Sydney Festival, not an exactly Aussie thing to do but I am super excited nonetheless!
After sitting down and having a good think in response to the question “What are your 3 favourite cities in the whole world” I think I have settled on my top 3. I am sure as soon as I have posted this I will be madly apologising to Stockholm, Melbourne and Kyoto for neglecting them. But here we go:
I have visited Iceland on two occasions and have spent a lot of time in Reykjavik. Why do I love this tiny city of 120,000 people? I love the locals – so friendly, helpful and fiercely proud of their heritage and culture. I love the quirky shops lining the streets, the plethora of cool bars and the locals enthusiasm on weekends for the rúntur (pub crawl). I love walking along the harbour and watching the sunset at the Sun Voyager statue. I love that it no longer costs an arm and a leg to book a bed in a hostel anymore. I love that I can get on a bus and soon arrive at numerous breathtakingly beautiful natural wonders – the Blue Lagoon, Gullfoss, Jökulsárlón. I love the awkwardly cute puffins and the small, furry Icelandic ponies. I love that when I land in Iceland my heart swells and I feel HAPPY!
My first day in Tokyo I wasn’t sold. Maybe it was the jetlag but everything was too loud, fast and it smelt weird. Then on day 2 something just clicked and I fell head over heels for Tokyo. I love seeing the men in business suits picking up rubbish in the streets and shop owners frantically sweeping every morning (the place is so CLEAN for such a huge city). I love that despite the thousands of people swarming around stations and across crossings no one is rushing or rude. I love their respectful bowing and hearing “irasshaimase” every time I enter a store. I love their dedication and pride in their cuisine – I ate the most amazing food everyday. I love finding a shrine in the middle of the city and temporarily escaping the hustle and bustle. I love that you can buy sexy transvestite costumes in the local department store. I love that they have cat cafes.
♥ New York
Forget the Statue of Liberty and Times Square, there is so much more to this amazing city. I love the variety of amazing food this city has to offer (the bakeries, the pizza, the bagels). I love the plethora of amazing vintage stores (seriously, Sydney is terrible for vintage shopping!) I love retreating into Central Park for a relaxing afternoon picnic. I love the nightlife – rooftop parties, hidden bars, drinks in a beauty parlour. I love that a complete stranger will tell me I have lipstick on my teeth (New Yorkers are famously direct and forth coming!) I love the mind boggling amount of art exhibitions, events and theatre that is on every night.
And the overrated…
Rome is essentially a tourist city. Wherever I turned there were hawkers trying to see me their flashing Colosseum key rings, gypsies trying to relieve me of my spare change, overpriced restaurants or a tour group blocking my path. Don’t get me wrong – the ruins scattered about the city are truly amazing and well worth a visit (after you have queued for hours). But keep your visit to Rome to a few days – see the sights and then head off elsewhere – Tuscany, Milan, Florence, the Cinque Terre… so many places to take in the culture, food and wine without the tourist hustle and bustle.
Los Angeles is like a large, souless, cement suburb. Avoid the Hollywood area like the plague – not only are there unsavoury types hanging around but it’s dingy and the tourist-driven tackiness is a bit overwhelming. Whilst there are some great eating spots in LA I would much prefer to spend my time up the coast in San Francisco. The only reason you need to visit LA is for Disneyland (yep I’m a kid at heart).
Frankfurt, I have visited you twice and you bored the socks off me. In fact I got so bored by you I actually returned to my hotel in the early afternoon and watched TV (something I very rarely do when travelling). If you’re in Germany I strongly suggest you go north to Berlin for it’s rich and fascinating history, art scene and night life, or south to Munich for gorgeous architecture and Bavarian culture. Frankfurt is kinda like the boring cousin no one wants to hang out with.
What are your favourite cities? What let you down? Do you completely disagree with my overrated list? Let me know your thoughts and I may give those cities another chance :)
Loving this year’s colour as chosen by Pantone - Tangerine Tango! I am usually hesitant to wear/design with/buy orange but this softer hue is more of a coral (one of my new favourite colours) and I am definitely going to incorporate some tangerine into my life!
Sources (clockwise from top left)
♥ Kookai Dress from ASOS
♥ Orange Straws from Etsy
♥ Tangerine Tango Journal from Pantone
♥ Cupcakes in a jar from Glorious Treats
♥ Tangerine Kitchenaid Mixer from PNJ
To start off this tangerine love fest I think I’ll paint my nails tangerine and bake some citrusy tangerine tinted cupcakes.
On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the annual Sydney Food Bloggers Picnic organised by Suze from ChocolateSuze and Helen from Grab Your Fork. I turned up knowing no one but left with lots of great new foodie friends. Hooray! After fretting over what to bake to impress my fellow food bloggers I finally settled on my ginger cupcakes with cream cheese icing. And they were a huge hit!
Upon arrival I was greeted with lots of different treats safely nestled in their Tupperware containers (and some bugs made out of lollies!)
Soon everyone had whipped out their DSLRs and were photographing like mad!
Bloggers waiting to consume the goodies… (love the red plastic cups, it was like a frat party!)
Still photographing madly… Um can we start eating yet?!
My ginger cupcake!
My cupcakes were unveiled and ready for demolishing (btw I LOVE my new cupcake carrier from Lincraft – no more squished cupcakes!)
Bacon wrapped stuff by Lateral Eating Oh yeah!
Roast Beef baguettes by VXDollface
Simon from Simon Food Favourites made a pop up bar! Whisky and gin mmmm
Fairy bread by Sugar Puffi
Pandan cupcakes by Lay’s Kitchen Explorations. I LOVED these and they have inspired me to start using more exotic flavours in my baking
Browned Butter apple pound cake by Beyond Bourke Street
Group shot by Simon from The Heart of Food (you see my head peaking out at the top haha)
I’ve tried many a bad chocolate cupcake in my life and went on a sort of quest to perfect my own chocolate cupcake recipe. I think these chocolate cupcakes come pretty close to perfection – decadently dark and rich and not too sweet.
- 7 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 250ml boiling water
- 125g butter (room temperature)
- ⅔ cup caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 eggs (room temperature)
- 1⅔ cups plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 285g dark chocolate (I used 70%)
- ½ cup water
- 175g butter
- ⅓ cup icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line 2 x 12 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
- Stir the cocoa powder, coffee and brown sugar in a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Whisk to mix and set aside.
- Cream the butter and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy and then add the vanilla extract.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Slowly add the flour, bicarb and baking powder. Pour in the cocoa/coffee mixture and beat until just combined.
- Spoon the mixture into prepared muffin tins and fill approximately ¾ full (this recipe should make around 18 cupcakes)
- Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until the cupcakes slightly spring back when touched.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool slightly in their tin before turning out onto a wire rack.
- Melt the chopped chocolate with the water in short bursts in the microwave, stirring occasionally until melted.
- Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk them into the chocolate.
- Whisk in sifted icing sugar until completely combined and the ganache is smooth. If it starts to go grainy keep whisking – it will come good!
- Cool until spreadable, whisking occasionally. Pop in the fridge to speed up this process.
- Spoon icing into a piping bag and pipe swirls onto the cooled cupcakes.
Wow, life has been insanely busy lately and I am sorry to neglect you poor blog! Christmas and NYE festivities, I started my new job, began the agonising process of house hunting in Sydney (I clearly need to be more patient), managed to come down with a nasty throat infection (in the middle of summer? really?) and lots more.
Fortunately my good friend Instagram has been there to capture some of these moments! My username is Swah if you want to follow me, but be warned I take lots of pictures of cats and food.
♥ I drank a lot of champagne in December (trying to kind of detox now. Ha!)
♥ Gave myself a candy cane manicure (courtesy of Sally Hansen nail strips) and bought myself I Love Bodoni (amazing book)
♥ Looked after a kitty with a foot fetish and and took glamour shots of my beloved Bruce
♥ Went to the Harry Potter exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum! I purchased some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and my friend and I got our souvenir photo taken (we look SO.EXCITED!)
♥ NYE involved champagne, sparklers and friends
♥ Admired pretty hanging things (red lanterns in Chinatown and fairy lights on the way out of the Powerhouse Museum)
♥ Delicious coffee and gelato at Caffe Sicilia
2011, oh what a crazy year! So many amazing and new things happened, there were highs and there were lows and I was the busiest I have ever been in my life.
♥ Woke up New Years Day 2011 in an amazing apartment in the 1st arrondissement in Paris
♥ Thought I was going to die with pneumonia and was bed ridden for over a month and then continually sick for months after (not fun)
♥ My design skills improved dramatically and I started producing work I was genuinely happy and proud of
♥ Made some new amazing friends (from TAFE) and reunited with lost friends (from high school)
♥ Graduated from my graphic design and communication course with great marks
♥ Broke up with a long term love (…an example of when the heart shaped bullet point is not appropriate)
♥ Completed my first City2Surf despite my pneumonia-ruined lungs. Tough but rewarding. Going to try and run the full length next year!
♥ Got headhunted for an amazing job which I start next week (!!)
♥ My blog has gone from strength to strength and my readership is steadily growing. So proud of my baby – all that hard work is paying off!
♥ Moving into an awesome apartment in the inner city with an awesome friend
This NYE I will be enjoying some champagne with my girlfriends and partying on to the wee hours. Sure it may not be Paris, but I KNOW it’s going to be a fun night.
So 2012 is going to be very new and different for me. A new job, a new house, a new single life…. and possibly some plans to spend NYE 2012 in New York. HELL YES!
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely day with family or friends and eating FAR too much.
I made these festive ginger cupcakes for visiting relatives and they were a huge hit! Feel free to add 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to the cream cheese icing for an extra flavour hit.
- 340g butter (room temperature)
- 1½ cups caster sugar
- 3 tbsp golden syrup
- 4 eggs (room temperature)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ cups plain flour
- 2 tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 250g cream cheese (room temperature)
- 120g butter (room temperature)
- 3 cups icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
- Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy in a large bowl.
- Beat in golden syrup, vanilla extract and eggs, 1 at a time.
- Sift flour with spices and add to wet mixture. Mix until just combined (over mixing can result in tougher cupcakes).
- Fill cupcake wrappers ¾ full and bake in the oven for around 20-25 mins or until golden brown.
- Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
- Cream the butter and icing sugar together until well mixed.
- Add the cream cheese in cubes slowly until incorporated. Continue mixing for 5 minutes until the icing is light and fluffy.
- Spoon icing into a piping bag and pipe swirls onto the cooled cupcakes.
Wow, it’s hard to imagine that this time last year I was in Europe freezing my butt off and finally getting to experience a White Christmas! As an Australian, Christmas has always meant a stinking hot day with a BBQ and lots of salads followed by a swim and a nap. But I had always yearned for that quintessential white Christmas experience – snow covered buildings, mulled wine, and CHRISTMAS MARKETS!
First stop was Munich. The Christmas Markets in Munich are located in Marienplatz and run from Nov 25th – Dec 24th with opening hours of Monday – Saturday 10 a.m – 8.30 p.m and Sunday 10 a.m – 7.30 p.m.
The most famous Christmas market is the Christkindl market.
The Munich markets are breathtakingly beautiful with fairy lights lining the streets and illuminated Christmas trees and stars dotted around the marketplace.
The Rathaus (new Town Hall) looks even more beautiful lit up at night and serves as the perfect backdrop for these markets.
I LOVE gingerbread. Gingerbread stalls are everywhere, coming in different shapes and sizes. Happy Swah!
There are beautiful Christmas tree ornaments, photo frames and dolls for sale throughout the market place.
There are other smaller Christmas markets dotted around Munich, we stumbled upon this one whilst out sightseeing one day.
I LOVE YOU gingerbread. I demolished this in a day.
My next stop were the Prague Christmas markets. I was only going to walk by and briefly check them out but I actually enjoyed these markets even more than the famous Munich ones! The Prague markets are located at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square and run from 26 November – 08 January. Their opening hours are Monday – Friday 9 a.m – 7 p.m and Saturday – Sunday 9 a.m – 8 p.m.
Gorgeous Christmas trees are lit up with fairy lights throughout the Prague markets.
Similarly to the Munich markets, Prague stalls sold a variety of crafts, sweets and mulled wine.
The Prague markets also serve a dessert called Trdlo. It is a cylindrical pastry that is rolled in sugar and almonds. It looked and smelled amazing but as I am allergic to almonds I only could stare and sniff. :(
Even walking back to my hotel there were Christmas decorations and lights everywhere! It was like a fairy tale.
In the day time the Christmas markets are still beautiful (and a lot less busy). What a great time I had experiencing my first White Christmas :)
It was my birthday last week and I have been celebrating ever since! Amazing family, friends, food and (too many) drinks really made this a special one. And I love that basically every card I received had either a cupcake or a cat on it :) You guys know me well!
My plans for detoxing, exercising and eating healthily have now been thwarted by Christmas celebrations so I guess I’ll just worry about that all later!
I’ve been recently staring at gorgeously styled birthday parties, invites and cakes. Divine. Watch out next year!
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