Sunday, 22 August 2010

Election Blues and Matrimonial Slice

I felt quite flat this morning. I found myself playing The Frames song Pavement Tune and singing along to the lyrics “I want my life to make more sense”. Australia has a federal election last night and neither of the major parties won enough seats to form a majority government. The country feels rudderless, bereft of leadership.

We are waiting to hear who will govern the country. With a hung parliament it could go either way. Postal votes are still to be counted, alliances are to be negotiated, processes to be navigated in this unusual situation. It will feel shameful if the Labour Party does not get back in because we will have such a short-lived stint with our first female prime minister.

I believe that leaders emerge in time. My organisation has finally got a new Chief Executive Officer, after eight months of working in a leadership vacuum. All of the staff are delighted. Australia will appoint a prime minister soon. I fear, based on the election campaigns of the contenders, that it may take longer to get a leader with vision and compassion.

Last night wasn’t all bad. We went to an election night party organised by my friend Yaz. He made a carrot cake, to symbolise the carrots offered to the voters by the contenders, and decorated it with jelly babies to symbolise the graphics that represent those elected in the Senate. Brian served up a plate of watermelon and political simile as he explained that it was green on the outside and red on the inside

I took along a batch of Liz O’Brien’s vegetarian sausage rolls (though they are probably better known in Melbourne as Cindy and Michael's veg sausage rolls). They went down well. If I had been thinking about symbolic food I might well have take some of my matrimonial slice.

You may know this slice by another name. It has a biscuit base, jam filling and sweet coconut macaroon-like topping. I think it was my friend Nicki C who called it matrimonial slice. I don’t know where the name came from but I assume that it was because it was so good that a gentleman would have to propose to the young lady who baked it for him. A quick search of the internet seems to suggest this is not a common name and that where it is used oats are often involved.

Matrimonial slice might be useful for our unmarried incumbent prime minister Julia Gillard should she wish to marry. It could be useful if the Greens got their way and gay marriage was legalised. But most likely is that it will be useful to the major parties who are looking at a political marriage to gain the power to rule the country.

To tell you the truth I actually made this slice because my dad was coming to dinner and I thought he would appreciate some home cooking while my mum was away. It is a slice that my mum often made for us when I was little but I am not sure this recipe is a keeper for me. It needs a bit of work.

I love the recipe because it is like making shortbread (base) taste better and macaroons (topping) taste more substantial as well as using up jam which I don’t eat so much on toast. Oh and it tastes good too. It is easy to make and uses ingredients that are kitchen staples. Sylvia and I stirred it on the floor and she helped me sprinkle the coconut topping on the jam layer. Only a bit of it got on the floor! You might also be interested to hear that cats find it fascinating!

The base on this version was a bit thin and undercooked on the bottom and well cooked on top. Below are a few other versions of the recipe to inspire me when I next try it. You might be interested to notice they are all Australian.
Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: PPN Neofolk Buckwheat Pasta Bake
This time three years ago: Blues Clues Birthday Cake

Matrimonial Slice (or Coconut and Jam Slice)
slightly adapted from Australian Women’s Weekly Old Fashioned Favourites

90 grams Butter
½ cup Castor Sugar
1 Egg
cup self raising flour
cup plain flour (maybe next time I will substitute self raising flour)
1 tbsp custard powder
cups jam (I used raspberry and plum jam)

Coconut Topping:
2 Eggs
¼ cup Castor Sugar
2 cups Coconut

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Cream butter, sugar and egg in small bowl until light and fluffy (I did this by hand). Stir in flours and custard powder until combined. Spread mixture evenly over the base of a lined 20cm x 30cm lamington tin. (My tin was a little bigger and I thought maybe I needed a slightly smaller tin – maybe my 23cm square tin.) Spread a layer of jam over the base.

Make the topping by mixing all the ingredients together. Scatter evenly over the jam layer and lightly press down.

Bake for 40 minutes and cool in the tin. NB I found this a bit problematic as my oven can be a little fickle and I think the middle could have been cooked more but there was no way to test it till it was cooled according to this recipe. I also found that my slice browned on top really quickly – by about 20 minutes – so I had to put it on the lower rack in my oven for about half the baking time.

The recipe says keeps for up to one week in an airtight container – ours is still tasting good after 4 days. I have read that it can be frozen but I haven’t tried this.

On the Stereo:
Workers Playtime: Billy Bragg

20 comments:

  1. It loos good just the same. Yummy flavours. Hope the result of your hung parliament is better than what we ended up with. We have some black days ahead.

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  2. Hello! Sorry I haven't commented for a bit - I have a big blog backlog! Sympathies about the election result, and I hope that the negotiations are exciting rather than depressing. We quite enjoyed feeling as though we were living through interesting times when it was going on over here. I love Yaz's cake, and your slice sounds tasty too. The jam looked especially good :)

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  3. Ahh yes the election! What an anticlimax. I did not see it becoming that close. That cake with the jellybabies is brilliant! :P

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  4. I love Yaz's carrot cake - how cool! Your Matrimonial Slice looks delish - I have never heard it called that before, but it was a staple in our house growing up.

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  5. you are such an inspiration for old-fashioned treat. love this :)

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  6. These look like a delicious treat! The jam you used sounds wonderful!

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  7. It's really so disheartening, isn't it? I'm so disappointed in Australia, though at least there was a bit of a win for the greens. (My housemate is convinced that Abbott and Gillard are in the midst of a passionate affair, so your matrimonial slice may be more apt than we realise... :P)

    This slice looks like such a yummy trip down memory lane. I ought to bake things fom my childhood more often...

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  8. I will be oh so happy when this election is completely over! Im also hoping Labour will get back in.
    Boy does that jam slice look yummy, I havent had that in yearsss :)
    Thanks for taking the time to comment about my soup also.

    Rose

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  9. I have fond memories of my grandma baking these slices, never knew what they were called though. Thanks for the recipe

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  10. I was looking through old recipes the other night and wrote down one exactly like this jam thingo! delicious! it looks tasty.

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  11. Oh that cake with the jelly babies is pure genius :) And can just taste the coconut on that slice... it looks sooo good.

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  12. I love the carrot cake, very cool pic!

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  13. my work establishment has been without a head for over 1 year (we have had an interim.) And, we are almost ready to hire someone but I understand the rudderlessness in small parts.

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  14. Thanks Jacqueline - I fear we may have some black days ahead but I believe in change so none of it lasts - I just want a good leader

    Thanks Lysy - E was in Scotland when the UK election was on and now I understand why he was pleased to be there for that election - there is some hope here that this is a wake up call, so maybe it will prompt some change

    Thanks Lorraine - I was surprised how close the result was too

    Thanks Cakelaw - I am beginning to wonder if I have got the name wrong after searching the net but I like the idea of the name - I can't even remember what we called it when I was young but it was always about

    Thanks Anh - it is only since I started blogging that I started to appreciate the uniqueness of many of the treats I grew up with

    thanks Jodye - the quality of the jam makes a difference to this slice - the jam I used was raspberry and blood plum from the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne

    Thanks Hannah - it has taken me a long time to start appreciating and baking foods from my childhood - love the idea of an abbot and gillard affair - it would explain a lot!

    Thanks Rose - it does feel like this is the election that will never ever end - thanks for visiting

    Thanks Katie - it does seem like the sort of slice our grandmothers would have made - they were so much more into jam than fresh fruit - for obvious reasons!

    Thanks Vegiebug - hope you make it

    Thanks Shauna - yaz has great vision with his cakes - just a shame they don't make blue jelly babies - what's that all about!!!!

    Thanks Deb - it was a cool cake - wish I had done it more justice with my photo

    Thanks Maybelle's mom - we didn't even get an interim CEO for 8 months so it is such a relief to finally have one - hope your is appointed soon

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  15. I didn't read the slice recipe earlier (distracted by the carrot cake). I haven't heard it called matrimonial slice either. I grew up eating it too. I made it a while back using this recipe http://www.exclusivelyfood.com.au/2006/05/jam-and-coconut-slice-recipe.html it was delicious, nice balance of base and topping.

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  16. I mentioned this slice at morning tea this morning at work, and the ladies (Kiwi and Scots) insisted that it could *only* be called Louise Slice! I don't have a name for it (Adelaide girl here), but I guess those regional names are very... regional. :)
    ~Sarah B

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  17. Thanks Sarah - I was quite certain about the name until I started searching the net and now I am a bit confused - but love hearing others' ideas on what the slice should be called

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  18. It would be too bad if Gillard has such a short term, but it's a start! Canada's only female Prime Minister was in office for just 3 months, if I remember correctly. And the slice looks like a good treat whatever the outcome!

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  19. Ooo I don't think I've ever had a bar like that. It has lots of my favourite things - shortbread, coconut, custard mmmm.

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