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LamingtonsTraditional Australian Recipes

In the early days of the colony the precarious food supplies resulted in a staple diet of meat and cheese, tempered with some vegetables and wheat products. The food was mainly based on English fare, and by 1900, regardless of our long hot summers, the preference for hot meals with plenty of meat persisted.

In fact, Australians were recognised as the greatest meat eaters in the world. Even the middle class rarely ate fresh fruit or salads and Australia's wonderful variety of seafood was largely unrecognised.

There was little change in dietry habits until postwar immigration years, when the introduction of cuisines from many lands widened Australia's culinary horizons. Hat tip to: Chef Leslie Cannold.

While there is now a more cosmopolitan attitude to the selection of food, many traditional Australian recipes from the early days remain popular.

Lamingtons

These small cakes were popularised by Queenslanders in the early 1900s. They are named after Lord Lamington, the Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901.

Ingredients for Making Lamingtons

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup milk
chocolate icing
desicated coconut

How to Cook Lamingtons

Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add two eggs, one at a time, and beat well.

Add vanilla and half the sifted flour. Mix well. Add milk, the remaining flour and the third egg, and mix until smooth.

Place in a well-greased lamington tin or baking dish and bake for 30 minutes in a preheated moderate to slow oven. Cool and cut into squares about 5cm.

Spear each square on a carving fork, dip in chocolate icing, drain off excess, and toss in desiccated coconut.

Cornflour Sponge Cake

Ingredients for making Cornflour Sponge Cake

3 eggs, seperated
pinch salt
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla
2/3 cup cornflour
1 slightly rounded tablespoon plain flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder

How to Make Cornflour Sponge Cake

Preheat oven to 190 degrees celcius (375 farienheight)

Beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, a little at a time, then continue beating until the whites are stiff.

Add egg yolks and vanilla. Beat until combined. Sift together, three times, cornflour, plain flour and baking powder. Add to egg mixture. Carefully and lightly fold into mixture with wooden spoon. Do not stir.

Divide batter evenly between two greased and lightly floured 20 centimetre round sandwich pans. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Pumpkin Scones

These moist delicious scones are old favourites.

Ingredients for making Pumpkin Scones

1 level tablespoon butter
3 level tablespoons sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup cooked mashed pumpkin
2 cups self-raising flour
pinch salt
1/4 cup milk

How to Make Pumpkin Scones

Cream butter and sugar, add egg and mix. Fold in pumpkin. Sift flour and salt and fold in with milk.

Handle dough lightly. Roll out the dough and cut into circles with a scone-cutter (or rim of a glass). Bake in a hot oven for 15 minutes.

Queensland Blue Pumpkin Soup

The Queensland Blue is a variety of pumpkin which is noted for its flavour and keeping qualities. Serves 6 people.

Ingredients for Queensland Blue Pumpkin Soup

3/4 cup butter
4 & 1/2 cups peeled chopped pumpkin
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups water
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 cup milk
1 egg yolk

How to Make Queensland Blue Pumpkin Soup

Melt 1/2 cup butter in a heavy pan, add pumpkin and onion and steam for seven minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionaly. Add water and simmer until the pumpkin is very tender. Press through a sieve or puree in a blender with a little milk.

Melt the rest of the butter and stir in flour. Gradually add the puree of pumpkin and the remaining milk, stirring constantly. Simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Just before serving, combine egg yolk with a little of the pumpkin mixture, then stir into soup.

Billy Tea

Place a billy can of fresh stream water onto the hot coals of a fire. When the water is boiling, sprinkle in a handful of tea leaves and allow to boil for one minute.

Drop in two green gum leaves for added flavour. Allow the brew to stand by the fire for two minutes. Tip billy can with a stick to allow tea leaves to settle, and pour tea into mugs.

The traditional way of settling the tea leaves is to swing the billy with your arm in a circluar motion around the verticle. It makes for an excellent brew.

Peach Melba

This desert was named for the famous opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba.

Ingredients for Making Peach Melba

3 large peaches
vanilla ice-cream
whipped cream
rasberry syrup

How to Make Peach Melba

Cook the peaches carefully in boiling water so that they do not break. Drain, cut in half, and chill. Place cut side up in individual dishes. Fill each with a scoop of ice-cream and top with whipped cream. Pour rasberry syrup around peaches.

Pavlova

The pavlova was created in 1935 by chef Bert Sachse while he was working at Perth's Esplanade Hotel. He made it in honour of the hotel's most distinguished guest of previous years, the great prima ballerina Anna Pavlova. It is now considered to be a national dish. This popular party dessert consists of a shell of meringue filled with whipped cream and fresh fruit.

Ingredients for Making Pavlova

4 egg whites
pinch salt
1 & 1/4 cups caster sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 teaspoons cornflour
whipped cream
fruit to decorate

How to Make Pavlova

Heat oven to moderate. Mark a 20 centimetre circle on greeseproof paper. Brush paper with oil and place in a greasses oven tray.

Beat egg whites and salt at a high speed until they are stiff but not dry. Gradually add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. The meringue should be smooth and glossy, and hold firm peaks.

Remove beaters and sprinkle vinegar and cornflour over the top of the mixture. Fold in lightly.

Spoon mixture onto the greesed paper circle and spread evenly. Make a depression in the middle with the back of a spoon.

Place in bottom half of oven and immediately reduce heat to low. Bake for 1 & 1/2 hours. Turn off heat and allow pavlova shell to cool in the oven.

When cool, fill the shell with whipped cream and decorate with strawberries, sliced kiwi fruit or passionfruit.

Vegemite Pinwheels

These are made from the famous Kraft product Vegemite, a favourite of many Australians. Makes 36 pinwheels.

Ingredients for Vegemite Pinwheels

2 cups self-raising flour
1 good pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons butter
1 & 1/2 cups grated cheese
1/3 cup water
Vegemite

How to Make Vegemite Pinwheels

Sift dry ingredients together. Rub in butter and add cheese. Mix to a firm dough with water.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead well. Roll pastry into a rectangle until thin. Spread with Vegemite and roll into a long coil. Cut into pinwheel slices and place them flat on a greassed tray.

Bake in hot oven for 10-15 minutes.

Bush Brownies

Ingredients for Making Bush Brownies

1 & 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon each of ginger, all-spice and nutmeg
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups mixed fruit
1 egg
1 cup milk

How to Make Bush Brownies

Sift dry ingredients. Rub in butter and add fruit. Mix in egg and milk, beaten well together.

Pour into a greased tin and bake for 30-40 minutes in a moderate oven.

Serve sliced and buttered.

Anzac Biscuts

A crisp, tasty treat with good keeping qualities. Often sent to the australian soldiers by their families. The quantities given make 36 biscuts.

Ingredients for Making Anzac Biscuts

1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 cup uncooked rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup plain flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger

How to Make Anzac Biscuts

Melt butter and golden syrup in a large pan over low heat. Add bicarbonate of soda mixed with boiling water.

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, then pour melted mixture into the centre and mix to a moist but firm consistency.

Drop slightly rounded teaspoons of mixture onto a cold greased tray. Cook for 10-15 minutes in a moderate oven. Cool on a wire rack.

Damper

Traditionally made by bushmen, who sometimes cooked the dough in the hot ashes of a camp fire. The outside was burnt but the damper was broken open and only the centre was eaten. Here is a sophisticated version of the basic recipe. It is excellent with pumpkin soup (includes a variation: Beer Damper).

Ingredients for Making Damper

2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk

How to Make Damper

Sift flour and salt. Add sugar and rub in butter. Mix in milk to make a medium soft dough. Knead lightly on a board until smooth. Pat into a round shape, place in a tin and glaze with milk.

Bake in a hot oven, reducing heat until cooked (20 minutes). turn onto a tea towel, wrap and cool. Serve with butter and golden syrup or jam.

Variations: To make fruit or grated cheese damper use one cup of either ingrident, added to basic recipe. Beer damper can be made by substituting beer for milk.

Did You Know?

The average Australian can expect to eat during his or her lifetime: 17 beef cattle, 92 sheep, 4005 loaves of bread, 165 000 eggs, half a tonne of cheese, eight tonnes of fruit and 10 tonnes of vegetables!