It didn’t start well.
The clever/talented/lovely Anneka Manning of Bake Club had travelled to our Farm Kitchen just out of Orange to host a ‘no time to bake class’ and we had started early, setting up for the morning to come. I turned the oven on and set it on moderate, then in went the first cake of the day.
Pretty soon it became obvious that there was something wrong. The oven thermometer was showing 240C and wouldn’t budge no matter where we moved the dial. Holy self-raising-flour – the temperature dial was broken and a full class of ladies were due to arrive any minute.
At this point I simultaneously cut open the top of my index-finger and began to panic, or perhaps the former was a quickly manifested consequence of the latter. In any case, it was getting hot in the kitchen and on my part there was blood, sweat and one or two tears. Anneka on the other hand stayed cool as a cucumber.
This lady really is a baking pro. She calmly asked if I could duck down to our house (2kms away) and turn on that oven. And so while everyone arrived and Anneka greeted them with tea and coffee; I drove backwards and forwards with tins of cake batter on my knee until we figured out how to work with the hot oven. And therein lies the beauty of Anneka’s recipes – they are so good that even a cranky hot oven can’t send them south.
The caramel walnut cake pictured below, (its aesthetics a casualty of the hot oven), was sliced, iced and actually one of the nicest treats of the day. Anneka explained how to rescue baking disasters like this and the class/morning proceeded beautifully. We made a whole orange cake, oat and honey slice, blue cheese and walnut biscuits, almond shortbreads and sweet little baked donuts. All in the space of two hours and all with oven dramas.
Hopefully Anneka will return next year for more classes (and I promise the oven will be fixed well before then) but in the meantime, please check out her website for loads of recipes, class dates and baking tips. Anneka is one of Australia’s best food writers and baking experts and also happens to be an absolutely lovely person – her classes are the best.
Melt and mix caramel walnut cake
Thank you so much Anneka for sharing this recipe here – it’s such a winner! This recipe is a great ‘stand-by’ one that is perfect to whip up at a moment’s notice – it’s particularly good for cake stalls and picnics! The best thing about this cake though (if you omit the buttercream and just sprinkle it with icing sugar) is you don’t need any special equipment – just a saucepan and a wooden spoon! – A.
200g (1 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
100g butter, cubed
100ml milk 1 egg, lightly whisked
75g (3⁄4 cup) coarsely chopped walnuts
150 g (1 cup) self-raising flour
100g butter, softened
115g (1/3 cup) golden syrup
110g (3⁄4 cup) icing sugar, sifted
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease a 9.5 x 20 cm (base measurement) loaf tin and line the base and long sides with one piece of non-stick baking paper, allowing it to overhang the sides.
2. Place the brown sugar, butter and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter just melts. Remove from the heat. Use a wooden spoon or balloon whisk to stir in the egg and walnuts.Add the flour and stir until just combined.
3. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Stand for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
4 . To make the Caramel Buttercream, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and golden syrup in a medium bowl until pale and creamy.Add the icing sugar and beat until well combined and very creamy.
5. Spread the cooled cake with the buttercream and serve cut into slices