I haven't really seen the world. I've traveled throughout the United States and Canada, but have yet to leave the North America for some real Travel Channel style voyaging. For me, it's not so much a money issue - being double-income-no-kids is quite the treat. I honestly just haven't had the time. I didn't take any time off between high school and university to backpack around Europe. Nor did I leave my institute of post secondary education to "find myself" in South America. I didn't even have a time to do the Galapagos Islands between receiving my degree and getting shoved into a career. Now I'm just to damn busy to travel.
Luckily, I can live vicariously through photos of Mr. C's travels, dusty history books, and the odd Anthony Bourdain special. But, sometimes, that's not enough. I want to see the sights. Live the night lift. And, most of all, eat all the food. I'd even forget my vegetarianism and horrible shellfish allergy to sink my teeth into some Thai/Moroccan/Peruvian street food. Hell, I wouldn't even regret the horrible dysentery that would follow.
For now, I guess I just have to experiment with the tastes of globe. Especially the sweet tastes.
As one of this years baking goals, I'm going to force myself to take time out of my busy schedule to really experiment with international pastry. More specifically, international cakes. Thumbing through my new book, AWorld of Cake, I've just begun to realize how differently the world views it's baked goods. Cake isn't always the three layers and a blob of buttercream mess we seem to be smitten with. There's so much more out there in the world. And I intend to bake every single one.
The first country I want to visit is a fellow Commonwealth member. It's a tropical nation where every animal is either poisonous and/or has a weird pouch thing attached to it. I would like to visit it someday when, you know, it isn't completely covered in water. Or a cyclone.
May I introduce you to the Australian Lamington:
Makes about 32 mini cubed pieces
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1) Preheat the oven to 350F. Oil a 8-inch square cake pan and set aside. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
2) Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg, beating well. Stir in the milk and vanilla. With a wooden spoon, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.
3) Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for about 25 to 35 minutes, until the top is slightly golden and your cake tester comes out clean. Remove the cakes and allow to cool well in the pans. Wrap the cooled cakes in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.
4) Remove the plastic wrap and measure the height of each cake. With a knife, lightly score a grid of squares that are as long and wide as the height of the cake. Cut the cake along those lines.
1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
1) Melt the butter and stir in the cocoa powder until combined. Add the confectioners' sugar, alternating with the milk, until combined. Add the vanilla. add more milk or sugar as necessary to achieve a thin (but spreadable) consistency.
2) Spread the coconut on a large plate. Spear the cake pieces one at a time and dip into the cocoa icing to cover completely, then roll in the coconut until completely covered. Set on a rack to dry. Continue until all the pieces are covered.