Tuesday, January 08, 2008

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY FATTENING

Over at the slice blog they have a new review and it's fattening but delicious.

Maria has also been on the hunt for a perfect vanilla slice. She has photos which are even fattening to look at.

Now this pre-occupation with the perfect vanilla slice is all well and good but what about that other slice which has been corrupted from something fine and delicious, downgraded to a blob of fatty pastry and glueified (if it's not a word, it should be) spongieform apples from a tin.

Where is the search for the perfect Apple Slice?

The one with the tart Granny Smith apple puree. The crisp biscuit short pastry on the bottom and on the top, a soft cake pastry shining with glaze, cinnamon and sugar. The slice that can only be enjoyed with a dollop of King Island double cream, on a plate with a cake fork. Make that two dollops of double cream, I'm dreaming of a large slice.

I went back through myGrandmother's cake book, the one that has enough DNA from baking to qualify as a dessert by itself. I was struck by the simplicity of the ingredients. From white flour, eggs, dried fruit, spices and vanilla essence (not even extract) delicious cakes emerged from tiny gas or wood fired ovens with a minimum of effort. Not on my part, cakes take precision and I'm a 'chuck it all in and hope for the best' baker. These cakes didn't need emulsifiers, artificial colours (marble cake excepted) hydrolised whatevers, preservatives or several different kinds of sugar under various names which are on every supermarket shelf. They were made and consumed on the day. It was a real trip down the kitchen memory lane. I think I gained 2kgs.

When was the last time you saw a cream puff that could only be held with two hands? My Grandmother made those, with whipped cream, dusted with icing sugar and strawberries (in season, only in season). Now we get pissy little profiteroles with custard and chocolate icing, a mouthful not a handful. And puff pastry matches. My memory is fuzzy here, I'm sure they weren't really 12 inches long it just seemed they were. Once again, whipped cream, raspberry jam and pink icing (had to be pink) on fresh made puff pastry. The recipe for puff pastry is in the book and believe me, this is one time when the bought pastry is better if you want to live long enough to eat it. Making it takes time, time and more time.

The only cake I can make with any success is Gingerbread cake with lemon icing and I make that because it freezes well so I can't eat it in one go. I have been known to snarf it while still frozen so that trick is only half successful. It also uses Golden Syrup which is really hard to get off spoons and measuring jugs so there's a lot of 'licking before washing' involved in making this cake.

So I throw out a challenge, let all go forth and find the elusive Apple Slice, the one true Apple Slice of olden days.

18 comments:

Ann O'Dyne said...

a brilliant All Aussie Old Style proper cake shop in ... Reservoir!
I swear.
In Edwards St near the IGA which has 23 different types of olives on display in the deli counter.
On Saturdays the queue snakes out that cakeshop door and there is nothing left at 1pm.
I bet they do a proper apple slice.

River said...

Villi's here in Adelaide still make yummy matchsticks, but they are dusted with icing sugar, not topped with pink icing. I haven't had a decent apple slice since the last time I made my own. And what's with fingerbuns nowadays? They used to be tasty, fruity, with fondant icing.Split and buttered for afternoon tea they were YUM. Now they're squishy little tasteless things with soft icing covered in coconut. Ugh.

JahTeh said...

Good one Annie O, it might as well be on the moon although isn't that near Lord Sedgwick's domain?

River, I can almost taste the icing sugar. You're right about the finger buns, lucky if you can spot two bits of fruit and soft icing with coconut is for Boston Buns. I'm not too good with yeast cooking either. If there was a recipe for stir fry yeast buns I'd be a shoo-in.

Brian Hughes said...

"When was the last time you saw a cream puff that could only be held with two hands?"

That'd be the time I tried to strangle Peter Mandleson...

Maria said...

It's a good thing I didn't make a resolution to stay healthy and thin this year.

I haven't had a decent apple slice for a while now either. It's another thing to search for. That and the fingerbuns. And while I'm at it, what about icecream that has bits in it? I'm sick of buying honeycomb or peppermint choc chip or pistachio or what-not stuff when you get mainly a faint honeycomb flavour or pistachio flavour or peppermint with a tiny choc flavour somewhere in it, and maybe IF YOU'RE LUCKY you spot a chip or two - instead of a good hearty mix of chips and ice cream. Gelatissimo can be the worst offenders because you go there and see the big display with all the chips and nutty bits in the display and somehow they always manage to serve you from the BOTTOM of the tub so none of those cookies or chips or nuts or whatever make it into your cone. And in the cookies and cream, there's always some cookies sitting in the icecream - whole choc cookies - but I've never had an icecream with a cookie in it. NEVER! I've a mind to demand they scoop from the top next time. I really am, and say "Excuse me, scoop from the top and mind you get plenty of those nuts in" and see whether they put up a fight or not, or try some dodgy tactics.

nailpolishblues said...

Oh, matchsticks! Finally, I reason to visit Adelaide!

JahTeh said...

Two words for you Fleetwood, Eccles Cakes! I believe they originated in Yorkshire?

Maria, the Ricketts Point Ice-Cream shop, Bluff Road, Highett has passionfruit ice-cream. I can get small cartons in Mentone but it's $13 so I'm still thinking about it but I've had a taste and I think it might be worth the loot but still, $13. I don't like my ice-cream with lumps of anything except strawberries. And what the hell is Cookie dough ice-cream?

Nails, besides Matches, any other favourite that we can enjoy with you?

alexis said...

Give me crumble or give me death.

Brian Hughes said...

Yorkshire?! YORKSHIRE!!? Those inbred, whippet-weaning, flat-cap-wearing, string-tied-round-the-trouser-legs scoundrels. They haven't forgiven us Lancastrians for winning the War of the Roses yet, but I'll be damned if they're going to steal our wonderful Eccles Cakes.

Bwca said...

ooh look Eccles - the cakes have fallen in the water ...

nailpolishblues said...

I'm not that big on bakeries. So long as they do good bread, a decent sausage roll, and maybe a proper old fashioned cream bun or matchstick I'm pretty much happy. Of course, they never manage all three/four.

JahTeh said...

Alexis, blackberry and apple crumble, don't forget the cream. It was the only thing that made blackberrying enjoyable. Why anyone would think trawling around creeks with critters swimming or beating off snakes in the undergrowth just for a few buckets of fruit was enjoyable for kids, I don't know. The crumble made up for it.

Sorry M'Lord, always getting my Yorks and Lancs mixed. Love Eccles cakes, give me heartburn though.

Thanks for Eccles earworm Bwca.

Nails, You have just named the three basic food groups for every bakery.

Middle Child said...

Jahteh...we have to face the fact that we just live in pissy litle times where things are supposed to be so bloody sophisticated but usually they are crap and your grannie's cookingnhad more guts and nutrition and LOVE in it that most ofmthe shotm you but today...ahh that felt good

alexis said...

Halfway through my kiddyhood the local council got tough on blackberries and we had to poison 'em. But what sort of noxious weed yields up blackberry crumble, I ax you?

JahTeh said...

Therese, the cookbook is so old that is has a very politically incorrect cake idea for children's parties, little minstrel nigger cakes and that's what they're called. You can't beat a good boiled fruitcake for eating and my Nanna (mum too) always used strong cold tea and a slurp of medicinal brandy.

Alexis, you have me wondering where blackberries come from nowadays. The supermarket shelves have jam and pies so who's got the secret berry stash?

alexis said...

I think they're legal in Tasmania, like opium poppies.

They were pretty rampant round our place, in the southern highlands of NSW. Not only did we have to get rid of them (i.e., deprive ourselves of our annual blackberry harvest), but we had to pay for the round-up and the labour to do so. My father spent the better part of six summers or so trudging around with a tank of poison on his back. Or maybe that was the Argentine serrated tussock.

Their noxious weed status was nothing to do with preserving native habitat or ensuring biodiversity, it was about keeping grassland free for grazing.

(I'd forgotten how bitterly I feel about this. Here I find myself coming across all environmental-vandal with my "bring back the blackberry" slogans.)

JahTeh said...

It's not native though, Alexis, just another immigrant from England which didn't even pay 10 pound for the passage.

JahTeh said...

I don't know why that link won't work but it's
http://vanillaslice.wordpress.com