Lo­cal treats take the cake

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - BOOKS - ELAINE REEVES

THE AUS­TRALIAN BLUE RIB­BON COOK­BOOK By Liz Har­full ( Allen & Un­win, $ 39.99)

FIVE Tas­ma­nian show cooks have won against much stiffer com­pe­ti­tion than they would ever en­counter at any of the 23 agri­cul­tural shows in Tas­ma­nia.

Their recipes are among just 70 of the best selected from about 600 shows through­out Aus­tralia for The Aus­tralian Blue Rib­bon Cook­book.

“Judge” and au­thor Liz Har­full had dif­fer­ent stan­dards to the show judges, who rule out cakes with rack marks on the bot­tom, square rather than round scones, or co­conut ice in which the pink layer is not ex­actly as deep as the white layer.

She was look­ing for cooks with a good story and for “recipes people would ex­pect to find in a book about show cook­ing, but with a lit­tle twist”.

And she wanted to “cap­ture recipes that are in dan­ger of slip­ping out of people’s mem­o­ries of how to make”.

On a re­search trip in 2010, Liz al­ready knew Vic­to­ria cake and Madeira cake from Tas­ma­nia would make the cut. These recipes sel­dom fea­tured in shows in other states but were in most Tas­ma­nian show sched­ules.

The cho­sen ver­sions were Judy Berry’s Vic­to­ria cake from the Bream Creek Show and Ge­orge David­son’s Madeira cake from the Long­ford Show.

Jelly cakes are also dis­ap­pear­ing from many show sched­ules, but Lexie Young reg­u­larly wins with them at shows in the North.

Lexie’s fam­ily’s in­volve­ment in shows be­gan with her great­grand­fa­ther win­ning a prize at the first West­bury show in 1864 for best iron plough, which he made him­self.

Lexie first pitched at the same show when her mother was con­venor of the lunch booth. More than 50 years ago she won first prize for jelly cakes at Delo­raine Show, and she still makes them by the dozen, ac­cord­ing to Liz.

“She is not al­lowed to turn up at any oc­ca­sion with­out her jelly cakes,” Liz said.

Shows were pro­vid­ing a “new de­gree of ex­cite­ment” for chil­dren, Liz said. None more so than among the Bosveld fam­ily of Ho­bart, where all but the youngest of the 10 chil­dren com­pete in the Ho­bart Show – hav­ing first com­peted for kitchen space at home. Their recipe for rasp­berry and white choco­late muffins is in the book.

The old­est show in Aus­tralia – Camp­bell Town, founded in 1838 – is rep­re­sented by sheep farmer Doug Loane’s win­ning ap­ple, raisin and wal­nut Man Cake recipe from 2010.

The last es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ent for mak­ing the cut to be in­cluded in the book was gen­eros­ity of spirit, says Liz. Those shar­ing their se­crets in­clude Rod Chap­man, who used to be a Grange Her­mitage wine­maker, on the bal­ance of fruit salt, su­gar and spices in hot tomato sauce, and a fail- safe car­rot cake from Sale Show, where the prize for a na­tion­wide car­rot cake con­test is 100 times higher than the $ 10 you might hope for at most shows.

And how good does your scone recipe have to be to make it into such a book? One day Queens­lan­der Dorothy Ride­out’s oven was not hot enough to fol­low the usual ad­vice to get the scones straight into the oven, and she had to leave them sit a few min­utes. They turned out bet­ter than ever. Now she al­ways lets the scones sit for five min­utes be­fore putting them in the oven.

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