When you are menu planning and making up your shopping list, try to choose meals that use a lot of the same ingredients. Doing this you can buy in bulk where appropriate, stop buying lots of different ingredients you only use once and keep your pantry, fridge and freezer contents under control.
While we were having lunch today Wayne had the TV on, watching Landline on the ABC. One of the segments on the show featured Show cooks. It seems that show cooking has had a resurgence in recent times, with this year's ECCA seeing an increase of 180 entries.
And can you believe the youngest entrant was just four years old!
As they were talking about fruit cakes, and how to cut all the fruit, line the tins etc Wayne hinted that perhaps I could make him one of my prize winning sultana cakes. Yes, I have won a first prize for sultana cake, not at an agricultural show, but at Group CWA, an honour I am still proud of.
Anyone who knows me understands why I am so honoured. I'm not a great cook and I really don't enjoy everyday cooking. I have a few recipes that I make over and over (if you check my menu plan each month you'll know what I mean) because I can make them very well.
Sultana cake is one of those things. My top 10 tips for a prize winning sultana cake are:
1.Use the freshest sultanas possible.
2.Always soak the sultanas overnight, drain and let them dry for 24 hours.
3.Dust sultanas with a little flour before adding them to the mixture.
4.Add 1 teaspoon of lemon essence with the liquids - it gives a delicious flavour.
5.Line the tin with 2 layers of brown paper and then 1 layer of baking paper.
6.After pouring the batter into the tin, wet your hands and gently pat the top to even out. This helps to stop the top cracking during baking.
7.Always pre-heat your oven and make sure it is exactly the right temperature before you put the cake in to bake.
8.Never open the oven during baking.
9.After baking time is up, take the cake from the oven and if it is singing to you it is done. If it's not singing, put it back in for another five minutes and test again.
10.Let cool in tin for 10 minutes before turning out to cool.
Now I've given away my secrets, I guess I should share the recipe too.
350g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp lemon essence
Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Cover the sultanas with water and bring to the boil (and yes, they were soaked overnight). Boil for 15 minutes and drain. Add butter to hot sultanas. Beat eggs and sugar together. Add to sultana mixture. Then add the sifted flour and baking powder. Add the lemon essence and mix well. Bake in a 20cm tin for about 11/2 hours. Test to see if it's done, if not return to oven for a few minutes and check again. Let cake cool in tin 10 minutes before turning out to cool on a cake rack.