We just got through day 13. I'm suffering from umbrella fatigue. Yes, it's been the 13th day of continuous rain in Sydney; from drought to drenching, the pendulum does swing both ways. And I guess now it's official, autumn is here, and I have to say a begrudging thank you for making it so obvious that you've arrived. Say hello to soaked hems, muddy feet and one constantly wet dog. I'll just try to think of it as one less bath I have to give him.
I know posting on the blog has been quite scanty of late, must be that crisp autumn air forcing me into hibernation. But the advantage of this is that my motivation for baking grows even the more as the weather gets colder. Keeping those oven fires burning is one way of staving off the chills.
Sydney houses, are notoriously known for not being able to stand up to the colder months. Many overseas friends living here who come from much colder climes always gripe about the inadequate amount of insulation in our houses. And coupled with the lack of central heating in most homes, it makes the winter months even more unbearable.
Our comparably mild winter probably doesn't warrant builders making houses with central heating a standard thing, but no matter where you're from cold is cold, especially at 6am when the dread of getting out of bed to take a shower overcomes you. I guess keeping the oven on is one way to get around this minor setback.
I made these cakes earlier this month but decided to give it an encore appearance at around day 7 of our marathon rainfest, while holed up at home just watching the spate of storms come and go. It was either build an ark or bake a cake and seeing as I was sitting on a pile of passionfruit, I made some cakes. If I was going to go down in a deluge, I might as well go down with cake.
With my priorities in the right place, I spent the better part of a day baking. With no central heating in our house, Jack (the dog) and I spent the rainy afternoon in front of the blazing oven, our makeshift fireplace. I'm sure he spends his time loitering around the oven just in case a rouge piece of food happens to accidentally fall out and magically land in his strategically poised mouth. He's quite the optimist, but it's still nice to have his company, no matter what the motives. He likes to think of himself as the sous chef, although most of the time he's more like the cleaner, mopping up spilled ingredients. He doesn't mind.
Right now, passionfruits are ubiquitous, so there's every reason for you to buy a whole lot. Here in Sydney we get the smaller round and wrinkled variety that have that distinct deep purple colour. They look quite strange and unassuming on the outside, and they weigh almost nothing but once you cut through that purple woody exterior there's a wonderfully rich and intensely brilliant daffodil yellow pulp inside.
By itself the pulp can be a little too tart to eat, but ripple a few spoonfuls through some vanilla ice cream or yoghurt and you have yourself a killer dessert. And if you are familiar with the Australian picnic staple, the pavlova, then you know that it's the passionfruit that gives it its bite.
The cakes are actually lime flavoured, but only subtlety. The passionfruit syrup is what gives the cake its kick. And like many other tangy fruits, a little bit of sugar takes this a dish a long way and livens it up a bit more. Add a dollop of whipped cream and you have all the insulation you need to get through a rainy day.
Baby Lime Cakes with Passionfruit syrup and cream
Recipe from Australian Gourmet Traveller
FOR THE LIME CAKES
125g soft butter
165g (¾ cup) caster sugar
2 tbsp finely grated lime rind
120g (½ cup) sour cream or plain yoghurt
150g (1 cup) self-raising flour
110g (½ cup) caster sugar
80ml (1/3 cup) lime juice
3 passionfruit, pulp only
300ml thickened cream
1 passionfruit, pulp only (optional)
30g pure icing sugar, sieved
Preheat oven to 170ºC.
Beat butter, sugar and rind using an electric mixer until light and fluffy, add eggs and beat to combine, then add sour cream or yoghurt and beat to combine.
Fold in flour, then spoon mixture among 8 greased and floured 150ml-capacity dariole moulds and bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
Cool for 5 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For syrup, combine all ingredients and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until syrupy. Makes about 1 cup.
For cream, combine ingredients and whisk until soft peaks form.
Refrigerate until required.
To serve, pour half the warm syrup over cool cakes and serve with passionfruit cream and extra syrup passed separately.