Monday, June 29, 2009

Celebrating the solstice (or...Summer is on the way!)

So last week marked the Winter Solstice here in the Southern hemisphere - and happily it also happened to be a Sunday. Excellent excuse for a pork roast, I say! But I won't go through the “ins and outs” of what I think makes the best pork roast here - I'll save that for another post. Here I'll concentrate on the mulled wine and the Yule Log that I couldn't help but make.

Mulled Wine:

I’m certainly no wine connoisseur, but I think that Australia does some lovely Shirazes - so I picked up a bottle of that. I really do think you need a nice fruity red for this - to nicely complement the sweetness of mulled wine. To make approx 300mL mulled wine: 250 mL Shiraz or other fruity red wine 1/3 cup water 2-3 tbsp honey (to taste! So leave the honey out) 1 tbsp each of orange juice and lemon juice 3 cloves 1 tsp nutmeg 1 cinnamon stick Simmer over a very low heat for approximately 20 mins, ensuring honey is dissolved. Add more to your taste. I preferred it quite sweet! And Food Critic Andrew agreed with me that this was a nice, sweet wine. Strain into glasses and Serve warm.

I hadn't really intended initially to make any sort of dessert for roast pork lunch, and I didn't. A dinner invitation was extended to us by some dear friends so I thought I'd make a Yule Log in the spirit of the winter solstice. I'd also bought a jelly roll pan so obviously (!) had to take it for a test bake. This was a hit with everyone. I was initially a bit worried about the chocolate fudge icing, wondering if it would be a bit too rich overall. As it turns out though, the icing was exactly right, and was the thing I am most proud of. The sponge was OK - but actually I think I would prefer a more chocolate-ey affair. The sponge turned out nicely raised - I must have whipped the egg white enough! I am so tempted to make another sponge just so I can actually believe that I can do a great job baking one. I wish I’d taken a picture of the inside now that I'm writing this so you could see what I mean, but you'll just have to believe me. The whipped cream filling was a slight disaster. It soaked into the sponge and was barely visible (except at the ends). A quick survey of the internets suggests that the fact that I had used a Tatura ‘pre-whipped’ cream may have actually contributed to this considerably. I don't usually use it I promise! But I was running out of time, and the nearest convenience store only had the pre-whipped stuff. (Food Critic Andrew is quite happily eating it from the can as I write, probably! It’s very sweet. Far, far too sweet for me). I was quite appalled - I mean, who doesn't carry cream in their convenience store? Not very convenient, evidentially. They did have ‘pure’ cream, but I was actually slightly unsure as to whether it would whip OK, given that it has no thickener. So, not wanting to abandon the entire project I chose the pre-whipped stuff. The internets now assure me that whipping pure cream is do-able as well. I will experiment with that! (As a side note, I also discovered the difference between clotted cream and regular whipped cream. Sounds delicious - I've just found a recipe. Gosh I love this job).

Chocolate Sponge (adapted from “Cookery: The Australian Way”, Cameron, Russell and Williams, 5th ed):

½ cup (75 g) plain flour
3 tbsp (30 g) cornflour
1 tspn baking powder
3 eggs
½ cup (125 g) caster sugar
15 grm cocoa
2 tbsp (40mL) water

Either: 250 mL whipped cream, or 1 quantity chocolate fudge icing.

Chocolate fudge frosting:

120 grms best dark cooking chocolate
¼ cup (50 g) unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten
175 g icing sugar

Making the chocolate roll:

Set oven to 190 celsius
Sift flours, cocoa and baking powder

Separate the eggs, and place whites into a mixing bowl. Beat until stiff, gradually adding sugar whilst doing so.
Add egg yolks, and beat until mixture resembles thick cream
Gently fold in sifted flour
If it is very thick, add water (do not overmix)
Pour into a greased swiss roll or lamington pan
Bake at 190 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Turn sponge onto a clean tea towel that has been sprinkled with caster sugar. Remove any baking paper, and trim any crusts that have formed.
Stand for 2 minutes
Unroll, and spread cake with with whipped cream or fudge frosting.


Place chocolate and butter in microwave and melt for about 30 seconds to 1 minute (until smooth).
Add egg and beat until combined
Add sifted icing sugar and beat until smooth and glossy.

Pour most of the mixture over the roll for a glossy base.
Leave to cool and thicken, then spread with a butter knife over for a “bark” effect.
Sprinkle with some sifted castor sugar


  1. I loved mulled wine! We always do a big pot when we're camping, and leave just to the side so it stays steaming (gotta try and leave the alcohol in it), and everyone helps themselves all night. Some nice and warming on a cold night.

  2. SO nice and warming, sheesh.