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A Travelling Cook: January 2015

A Travelling Cook

A Travelling Cook: January 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Gluten free Cauliflower pizza base


I've been reading articles in the food media that suggest that cauliflower is going to be big this year as a vegetable and a health food. I'm not so much a no carb/low carb kind of person but i like trying recipes that are different to my usual repertoire. 

Before commencing I researching a few different recipes on various paleo and vegan sites. 

The initial stages of pizza base making are all the same really:
  1.  Process the cauliflower into tiny pieces using a food processor
  2.  Cook cauliflower either through boiling, baking, steaming or microwaving
  3. Place the cauliflower in a cloth over a bowl and squeeze out as much liquid as humanly possible.
  4. Mix the cauliflower with other ingredients then bake the base in a hot oven until cooked.
  5. Top with pizza toppings and cook again.
The biggest challenge is making the pizza crust crisp rather than soggy and thus able to be held in one hand. To achieve this, various recipes have different suggestions from adding cheese to the base to nuts and flour. I looked at what ingredients I had at home and I tried a couple of different things, one pizza using egg replacer and corn flour and one using almond flour and corn flour. The latter worked the best.

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed/nut flour
  • ¼ cup corn flour
  • water or dairy free milk if needed
  • Pizza toppings (e.g. tomato paste, mushrooms, onions, olives, capsicum, basil, dairy free cheese). 

  1. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Preheat oven to 225 degrees celcius (437 degrees fahrenheit).
  3. Place tray in oven to heat. You want it nice and hot before you put the pizza base on it to help it cook through. 
  4. Cut cauliflower into small pieces and blitz in a food processor until it resembles a rice like consistency
  5. Boil for 10 minutes until tender. 
  6. Transfer to a bowl lined with a clean cloth (such as a new dish cloth). 
  7. Bring the sides of the cloth together into a ball and squeeze the cloth to remove as much liquid as possible. 
  8. Add herbs, salt and pepper, almond flour (or ground flaxseed) and cornflour to the bowl. 
  9. Mix together (it should be fairly dry but if it is too crumbly add some water or dairy free milk to shape it to a dough like consistency
  10. Shape the dough into one large or four small pizza bases. 
  11. Transfer the dough onto the same baking tray and flatten with the back of a spoon until a thin pizza crust forms.
  12. Bake for 20-30 minutes so until crispy and browned around the edges.
  13. Top with toppings of choice and bake for another ten minutes or so until cheese is melted and topping is browned. 
My verdict:  It reminded me that I don't really like cauliflower all that much. I love broccoli, but cauliflower has a stronger taste that just doesn't interest me. Despite what some people would like to believe, cauliflower cream pasta sauce tastes like cauliflower pasta sauce, not cream. And thus, cauliflower pizza base taste like, you guessed it-cauliflower! I've tried cauliflower mash with truffle oil which wasn't all that great, although I like cauliflower rice. If you like cauliflower, you will love this pizza. 

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Quinoa, barley and pickled vegetable salad

Despite appearances to the contrary, I don't eat fried food and sweet stuff all the time! My favourite food is actually soup which I love to cook (and eat) and I like making up recipes using what I have on hand. Ever since teaching preserving workshops, I'm a big fan of pickled vegetables. They are incredibly easy to make and great for gut health.

I'm a keen pickler. I love making kim chi, picalilli,  pickled beetroot and pickled cucumbers amongst other recipes. They go wonderfully with so many different snacks and meals and can also be enjoyed by the jar, standing in front of the fridge with a fork.

I can't eat a lot of wheat so I'm always on the look out for tasty grains. I finally found pearl barley at the supermarket here in Leipzig so I decided to knocked up a simple salad. Grains can be cooked in bulk and frozen in zip lock bags for easy meals, just add some veggies and seasoning and the food is on the table before you know it!

This is a salad where you can add veggies you like and omit those you don't. I would have used fresh parsley but was unable to find any in the supermarket so dried had to do. The dressing is light and can be flavoured with herbs or chilli if you like.

  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 tomatoes 
  • 2 spring onions 
  • 1 cucumber, 
  • 1/2 capsicum, 
  • I kohlrabi
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 6 large cucumber pickles
  • 2 tablespoons Sauerkraut ( I used a homemade red cabbage one)
  1. 1/4 cup of pickle juice
  2. 1/4 cup of olive oils
  3. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  4. Black pepper to taste

  1. Boil barley and quinoa in 2 1/2 cups of water until tender and almost all water has evaporated. Turn off heat, place lid on saucepan and leave to cook from the steam. 
  2. Leave to cool
  3. Dice vegetables and pickles into small pieces. 
  4. Add grains and vegetables to a serving bowl and mix to combine. 
  5. Mix dressing in a jar and shake well.
  6. Add to salad and serve

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Vegan corndogs

I made corn dogs last year for our vegan Oktoberfest supper club event and they were definitely a hit. They are incredibly easy to make and very quick. For a crowd it's best to have the oven preheated so you can keep the cooked ones warm until the others are done. 

  • 1 1/4 cup plain flour 
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal (not corn flour)
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic and onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups dairy free milk
  • Vegan hot dogs/sausages
  • Plant oil for frying
  • skewers
  1. Preheat the oven to 150 celcius and put in a tray lined with foil.
  2. Before you start frying: Check the sizing of your corn dogs. I only have a few saucepans here and a full size frankfurt with a skewer stuck in it won't lie in the biggest pot so I cut the frankfurts and my skewers in half and made smaller corn  dogs. 
  3. Heat plant oil in large heavy based saucepan.
  4. Put 1/4 cup of plain flour on a plate.
  5. Combine the remaining ingredients together in a bowl and stir well. You want the batter to have the consistency of pancake batter.
  6. Pour into a tall glass or jug for ease of dipping
  7. Pat the hot dogs dry with a paper towel. 
  8. Put one stick into each corn dog. 
  9. Roll the frankfurts in the corn flour and shake off the excess.
  10.  Dip each corn dog into the batter and twirl it around as you remove it from the glass.
  11. Immediately put it into the boiling oil and fry until browned
  12. Place on kitchen paper to drain then pop in the oven until all corndogs are done
  13. Serve with tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, sriracha and mustard.

Tofu hot dogs are really good.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Review: Vleischerei, Leipzig

On friday night it was a bit cold here in Leipzig. It had been snowing a little during the day and the streets were quiet. It was a good night to stay at home and watching telly and drink something hot. But I'd be busy all week which included lots of cooking and recipe testing, so we decided to pop out to Vleisicherei for dinner. 

Vlesicherei is an old vegan fast food cafe with a generous selection of drinks (even cider) and a menu where fake meats are prominent. The name is a pun on Fleischerei which means butcher in English. Gyros, sausages, burgers, seitan steaks, fries and a choice of sauces including mayo, hommus and garlic sauce. I'd read reviews that the service was slow and surly but it must have been a good night as our food was fast and fresh and the staff member I spoke to was friendly. As well as the hot food, there's also a small range of deli items to buy like vegan cheese and seitan sausages and homemade cakes. This is not everyday food unless you have an amazing metabolism and immune system but is delicious every now and again. 
We paid around 6,50€ ($9.20AUD) for heaving plates of food: fresh salad, tasty chips and our choice of sauces. I had garlic sauce and mayo, both of which were blissfully free of the nasty soy aftertaste of a lot of sauces I have tried. I'm not sure if the gyros meat I had comes from Vöner in Berlin originally or a company that makes mock meat products, but it was delicious if a little too salty. I can't eat a lot of seitan products, but now and again they really hit the spot. 

Chris had salad, chips and Thuringer sausages with hommus and plenty of salad. He declared them excellent. 

The cafe is small with big steps at it's entrance and a strange layout which fails to make adequate use of the space. There's also stairs to the counter where you choose food and order. Square tables would work better than round and would mean more people could sit. We were happy to share a table with others but it's a place that seats about 15 max.

My pictures aren't great as it was so dark and gloomy with the weather, but you can see more pictures on Happy Cow

Zschochersche Street 23
04229 Leipzig

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Vegan ingredients resource list

I've written a little vegan ingredients resource list to coincide with my vegan ebook, Australian classics veganised. I'll be adding to it when I write my next book. 

For convenience I use the terms cheese, butter and egg. There are loads of different terminology but I find a lot of it rather clumsy and annoying to edit although I appreciate some people prefer words without animal product connotations.. 

Custard powder
Custard powder is not dried, powdered custard. It is made up of thickeners, colours and flavours and resembles traditional custard when combined with sugar and non-dairy milk. It should not be confused with 'just add water' instant custard which contains eggs and milk. 

Dairy free butter
Dairy free butter is readily available in most supermarkets. It should not be confused with margarine which has whey and casein. A true dairy free butter is made from plant oils such as canola, olive and coconut oil. Nuttlex is readily available in Australia and Alsan S in Europe. 

Dairy free cheese
Dairy free cheese have undergone amazing growth and innovation in the last ten years. You can choose from tofu, nut and coconut oil based cheeses. It's worth reading the labels though because at least one tofu cheese in Australia contains rennet (an enzyme produced in the stomach of mammals).  You can also of course, make your own. Violife is probably the most popular cheese of late that is widely available in Australia and Europe. 

Dairy free chocolate
 Dairy free chocolate can be bought in some supermarkets and all health food shops. Dark chocolate is generally dairy free but check the ingredients list. 

Dairy free milk
Dairy free milk is easily available in most supermarkets and includes rice, soy, oat and nut milks. I use oat milk mostly in cooking because I like it, but any of these are fine. 

Egg replacer
 Egg replacer is made from a variety of raising ingredient like potato flour and corn flour. It can be used as an alternative to eggs in pancakes, cake, biscuits, burgers etc. Powdered egg replacers cannot be used to create egg recipes such as scrambles or omelets. (Tofu and also Chickpea flour work well though, stay tuned for a future recipe!). 

I've bought Australian company Organ's egg replacer in Australia, England and Europe. 

Golden Syrup
Golden syrup is a thick, amber-coloured form of inverted sugar syrup, made in the process of refining sugar cane or sugar beet juice into sugar, or by treatment of a sugar solution with acid. It is used in a variety of baking recipes and desserts. It has an appearance similar to honey, and is often used as a substitute by people who do not eat corn syrup. Some people make their own but I've never tried it. It's easily found in Australia and the UK and in some international shops in Europe. Agave and maple syrups work well as substitutes but treacle should be avoided due to it's overpowering taste. 

The jackfruit tree is a widely cultivated and popular food in tropical regions of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, SriLanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Phillipines. Jackfruit is also found across Africa and throughout Brazil. Jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh.

You can buy jackfruit in large Asian supermarkets. It most commonly comes tinned and is available in the tinned fruit section.Make sure you buy the one that comes in brine water than syrup as the syrup is really sweet. The sweet one (not suitable for savoury dishes) looks like this:

This is the one you want:

 It has a stringy texture that when cooked and shredded resembled shredded meat. Thus the fruit is a great option as an alternative to meat in vegan dishes. You could use it in tacos, pies, pasta, casseroles...many options! I like to use it to make jackfruit bournignon. You can also of course use it in desserts once sweetened with other fruit or sugars.


Macadamia nuts and oil
Macadamia nuts and oil come from a species of tree indigenous to Australia and native to North eastern New South Wales and central and South eastern Queensland. They are available in most supermarkets and delicatessens everywhere. 

Soy granules/TVP
Soy granules (also known as textured soy protein and textured vegetable protein) are a dried soy product which can be soaked in stock or water and when cooked resemble minced meat. They are pretty bland so lend themselves well to herbs, spice and sauces. 

Stock cubes/stock powder
there are lots of stock products which are animal and msg free but resemble the spicing of meat dishes. These can be used in soups, sauces and all kinds of dishes. Massel is probably the most well known brand and is available in all Australian supermarkets. 

Vegemite is a dark brown Australian food paste made from leftover brewers' yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives. It is wonderful on toast or when added to casseroles and curries to create a rich umami flavour. It should not be confused with Marmite and Promite that are vastly inferior products. It is readily available in all Australian supermarkets, Tescos in London and expat shops around the world. If you are an expat overseas it is worth noting that it cannot be carried onto planes, customs will confiscate it as a liquid! 

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Food for thought

January is always a bit of a nothing month in some respects. But I must confess to loving the cooler weather, it makes it better for sleeping, that's for sure! I have Timehop on my phone and I look back at the hot weather with dread this time in previous years.

Sadly our sweet Mr Pablo was put to sleep last Friday. He had been unwell for some time with old age and was starting to suffer. We went to a wonderful vet clinic here who assessed him and concluded that the end was near. He wasn't eating or drinking so we made the decision together to put him to sleep. He had a wonderful 18 years, four is which he shared with us. We both miss him terribly. I keep expecting to see his little face peeking around the corner of the apartment or hear his meow. When we get settled somewhere permanently, we'll certainly get another kitty but not for a while yet.

I released my first ebook this week, Australian Classics Veganised. It's a small recipe book of 11 recipes. I initially planned to do a blog post consolidating a series of Australian vegan friendly recipes from different bloggers but I did not get many entries. So I decided to put that project on hold and work on my first recipe book. Keeping busy is a good way to work through grief. Writing recipes is more work than it looks, I know this from teaching recipes! Hopefully people will buy a few copies, I'd love to spend the money on some new glasses. I'm also donating 50 cents from each copy to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne, Australia. I'm also doing a little guide to ingredients included in in the book on the blog here. It was originally intended for the book but the formatting of the publishing program posted each ingredient on a separate page, annoying.

You might have seen Leipzig in the news regard the Lediga and Anti-Lediga protests? Its interesting to observe as an expat. We went along to the first big protest against Lediga Monday last week with over 30,000 Leipzigers. Those numbers are amazing considering that Leipzig only has 550,000 people. The Lediga people (including many from outside Leipzig that are bused in) pledge to protest each week. There has been bomb threats and assault upon police and journalists. I actually wonder what their final aim is?

Thing that interest me this week:

The science behind your sriracha obsession, Sarah Jacoby, Refiney 29. Yes I love the stuff.

This is such a cute idea for a party.

How to cook the perfect Vegetarian Haggis, Felicity Cloake, The Guardian. I had Haggis for the first time last year when i went to a Burns day party.

We need to remember Anita Cobby, Clementine Ford, Daily Life. I read a book about her life and death in high school and it's haunted me ever since.

I've read a couple of new Chick lit books this week (as... ahem... research). I was especially disappointed with Sophie Kinsella's latest, Shopaholic to the Stars. Painfully littered with American stereotypes (in the worst way), it lacked the wit and humour of some of her other works. Saving Grace was interesting in that the story was superficially compelling but really had so many red herrings that were never developed and a 'baddie' that never got their comeuppance. Of course, my mood over the last week has not been all that cheerful with Mr Pablo's death so it possible I would find any books inadequate.

I've been watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix and Season Two of Broadchurch.

Lots of bits and pieces to be getting on with, write again soon...

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

My new recipe ebook: Australian Classics Veganised

Guess what? I have made a Recipe ebook! It features 11 classic Australian recipes that have been revamped to be vegan and cruelty free. From Kingston biscuits to fish and chips to lamingtons, there's something for everyone. It's only $3.00 per copy (less than the price of a cup of coffee in Melbourne) and fifty cents from each purchase goes to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne, Australia.

I had a great time writing and testing the recipes and I would love for you to buy a copy of the ebook and enjoy cooking the recipes! 

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lentil and green vegetable soup


I've been getting into soups a lot for lunch this winter. Basically I cook up a a big batch and freeze it in smaller zip lock bags and tubs for lunch, served with bread and spread ( 'butter' or avocado). Feel free to vary the ingredients and spices, it's a tasty soup which lends itself to big flavours or something milder.

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 long green chilli, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 teaspoons miso paste
  • 1 1/2 litres vegetable stock
  • 1 kilo broccoli
  • big handful of rocket
  1. Brown onion, garlic, chilli and zucchini.
  2. Add miso paste, half of the stock and lentil and cook until lentils and carrots are tender
  3. Add broccoli, rocket and other half of the stock.
  4. Cook until broccoli is tender (probably 5 minutes or so).
  5. Blend with a stick blender.
  6. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice or topped with soy sour cream or cashew cream and parsley. 

I featured my soup on No Croutons required , as supported by Lisa's Kitchen.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Fruit upside down cake

I made this cake with the intent of using up some rather sad looking fruit but not wanting to make a crumble or struesel.This is a tasty cake that goes wonderful with ice cream, soy whipped cream or custard. Or even on it's own with a cup of tea! 

Fruit Layer
Mixed fruit to cover:
  • Three oranges (peeled and sliced into bite sized pieces)-next time I would just use one orange I think
  • Two plums
  • Three nectarines
  • 2 Tb sugar, powdered
  • 1 tsp squeeze orange juice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 Tb water
  • 1 Tb vegan margarine or butter
  • 2 cups self raising flour 
  • 1/2 cup  sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed orange juice
  1. Preheat oven to 180c/365 celcius
  2. Grease a spring form cake tin with butter or oil.
  3. Place fruit in the pan decoratively
  4. Make caramel but dissolving sugar in boiling water. Once dissolved add the butter and stir well, taking care to not burn yourself.
  5. Slice fruit into small wedges.  Place in a bowl and mix in the sugar, squeezed orange juice and cinnamon. Set aside.
  6. Allow mix to combine and slightly darken to a yellow with a froth. I imagine the caramel would be quite dark if you used brown raw sugar.
  7. Carefully poor caramel into cake tin ontop of the fruit.
  8. In a bowl mix together flour, salt and vanilla essence. Add milk and squeeze of orange and stir gently taking care not to overmix the mixture. 
  9. Pour the batter over the apple layer, making sure to first fill the gaps between the slices. 
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake layer comes out clean.
  11. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife along the sides for easy removal.
  12. Place a large serving plate on top and carefully invert the cake onto the plate.
  13. Allow to cool before serving. 

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Monday, January 12, 2015


Piccalilli is an interesting beast. It's an English relish which originates from trading times when the English travelled by sea to buy spices from India. Tumeric and mustard powder give it it's lovely yellow colour and it's worth noting from years of teaching preserving that tumeric stains light coloured countertops very easily so pop down a cutting board or some paper to save yourself any bother. You can use apple cider vinegar as an alternative to malt vinegar (or even just plain white vinegar). I used balsamic vinegar in my latest batch for a twist so it's brown rather than this lovely shade of yellow. Leave the relish as long as you can before eating (up to three months if it has been waterbathed and stored appropriately) for the flavours to meld. Even a week helps! 

  • 2.5kg of Vegetables (cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, green beans, onion) cut in small pieces
  • 400ml Distilled Malt Vinegar
  • 600ml White Vinegar
  • 225g fine salt
  • 40g Cornflour
  • 3/4 cup Sugar 
  • 20g English Mustard Powder
  • 20g Grated fresh Root Ginger/powder
  • 20g Turmeric 
  • 2 pieces garlic


  1. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together with the salt. Cover and leave overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse the vegetables under running cold water. Dry.
  3. Put . of the vinegar in a large preserving pan and add the spices and vegetables. Bring to boil and simmer until tender.
  4. Mix the cornflour with rest of the vinegar and add to the pan. Mix together and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Turn into hot sterilised jars, seal by waterbathing and cool.
  6. Store for up to 3 months in a cool space before eating.

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A trip to Borough market, London

After Christmas Chris and I went to the UK for a week to visit friends and relatives. We took a trip to my favourite market, Borough Market in Southwark, London. As you can see it was a cold, drizzly day and going anywhere with a cover overtop was welcome! Borough market has lots of stalls selling a variety of food products such as  bread, fruit and vegetables, delicatessan, vegetables, ciders, cheeses and tea. We have a lovely morning sampling the wares (so much good cheese after Germany's bland offerings). 


I loved watching this woman making enormous sandwiches at the Spanish delicatessan. 

I would have bought a heap of preserves if not for the 'no liquids in carry on baggage on plane' rule. 


So much cheese!

I had one of these olive and cheese sticks. So good!

This stall of Middle Eastern goodness made me think of the yummy foods we used to enjoy in Brunswick and Coburg.  Most of the stalls were of proudly British produce but there was also quite a bit from France, Spain, Greece and a little from the Middle East.

And yes, we sampled wine and cider.

It's definitely worth a visit if you're in the area. Lot's of lovely fresh produce and you could easily make the most amazing hamper for a picnic or a hotel room snack dinner. 


We enjoyed orange and zucchini cake and coffee from a gelato bar just around the corner (crowd free) 

We stayed at London School of Economics student accomodation (Rosebery Hall) for two nights which they make available to the public over the semester breaks. It was a good location for where we wanted to go and places we were visiting. We had a perfectly fine room, warm and quiet with a shared bathroom and kitchen down the hall. It was less than staying in a room in someone's apartment through AirBnb and definitely cheaper than a hotel.

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Vegan lamingtons


I've always loved Lamingtons, so I decided to have a go at a vegan version. For those unfamiliar with this particular Australian delicacy, it is basically baked sponge cake which is dipped in chocolate icing and rolled in coconut. To go all out, the sponge cake can be sandwiched with cream and jam before icing. I can't for the life of me remember where I got the original sponge recipe which inspired my version as it had been sitting as a word document for three years in my drop box. Alot of vegan cake baking includes bicarbonate soda or baking soda in the dry ingredients but I avoid it as a rule as I've tasted quite a few vegan cakes with a nasty bicarb after taste. It's also been my experience with the use of vinegar. If you want to make your life easier, the sponge can be made beforehand and stored in the freezer until ready to use.

  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup nut milk
  • ⅓ cup of soda water
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (non hydrogenated)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbs of arrowroot cornflour
  • 1 tbs of vanilla essence 

Chocolate icing:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Dessicated coconut

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 celcius
  2. Whisk the lemon and milk together and leave aside for 5 minutes to curdle.
  3. Mix together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, cornflour,)
  4. Add the oil, milk and vanilla essence to the wet mixture
  5. Once there are no lumps, add the soda water and stir well
  6. Put the mixture into one large rectangular cake tin 
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
  8. Cool on a rack under completely cool (too warm and the cake will sink in the lamington chocolate)
Combine all ingredients and stir well until sugar is dissolved. If you like a thicker icing, use less water. 

To assemble:
  1. Place icing next to a shallow dish or plate of dessicated coconut.
  2. Working quickly, dip cake quickly in the icing then roll gently in coconut. 

Apologies for the quality of the photo, it's extremely dark and a storm is brewing! 

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