Friday 29 April 2022

Victoria Sponge Layer Cake for 15th Blog Anniversary

Do bloggers remember blog anniversaries any more?  It used to be such a fun thing celebrating a blogiversary but I don't see much about it now.  Which might be that after 15 years of blogging, my enthusiasm and energy has waned somewhat.  I still love blogging but I have such a wealth of recipes to return to if I find time to cook.  There is also so much else to keep me busy that blogging is slow going these days.

However it is easy to remember my blogiversary because it always follows E's birthday.  Although we are separated we are still friendly and this year Sylvia and I made him a Victoria Sponge Cake with buttercream and jam.  I know it is a childhood favourite of his and was rewarded with a declaration that it was as good as his Aunty Dolly's.  Now that is high praise.

We baked the cake the night before.  Then on the day of the birthday, we decorated the cake.  We kept it simple.  Sylvia and I decided on a gold theme with caramilk, gold leaf and gold spray.  I also did some piping for fun.  Making a layer cake was enough work so we also ordered pizza on UberEats. 

And because it is my anniversary and I haven't had as much time to share lately, I am including a list of links to articles that have made a thoughtful contribution to what in school we called "current affairs".  And a few quirky links that took my fancy.

Street Art Cities - Thanks to Mae for sharing this site for searching street art in various cities.  Sometimes it seems I have visited all the fun street art of my area so I have enjoyed some virtual visits to new street art sites and made notes of places I must visit when I get time.  However I am not sure if and how they keep it updated, given how quickly street art can change.

Celebrities Call Out Controversial Government Bill For 'Criminalising' Refugees - the Russian war on Ukraine has faded a little but it is still making huge effects in people's lives, including Ukrainian refugees.  It is not a proud moment when the UK takes the lead from Australia on demonising refugees and all the cruel treatment that follows this.  So I hope many will see this video reminding us exactly what "criminal" means when the UK government talks of refugees.

The 1969 Easter Mass Incident - This story on Chickens of Unusual Size tumbler about a bread Jesus is a good laugh, though I know it will not appeal to everyone.

Digital’s hidden cost to the Earth is in its manufacturing  - I find Gerry McGovern's writing on World Wide Waste fascinating.  One of the benefits of the paperless office was saving all those trees.  The environmental effects on the Earth are far more hidden in digital information than watching paper churn out of a printer.

Why Australia’s daily Covid cases are on the rise again - Raina MacIntyre shares her insights about the pandemic still having an impact on our lives whether we have restrictions or not.  And sometimes it seems that not a lot of other people know that!

Museum offers a toast to Vegemite as centenary looms for Australia's favourite spread - I love that there is a team of Vegemaniacs creating a Vegemite museum in Beaufort named after the food technician who created the taste.  They are calling for Vegemite memorabilia donations.

Shakespeare Insult Kit - The guy really knew how to throw around an insult.  I just wish I could remember these insults when I need them.

Election 2022: brain farts, amnesia and moronic scare campaigns - There has been a lot of talk about the media's role in our current federal election campaign.  This article gives a great discussion about this with some analysis of newspaper headlines.

Each blogiversary it seems a miracle that I am still blogging.  When I started I never could have foreseen I would blog so much interesting food, learn so much about cooking, and make so many wonderful connections with other foodies.  I've got better at photography. found new foods, ate out at amazing cafes, and accompanied meals with good friends and fine music.  I had fun. I never could have foreseen so much change in my life and in the world since 2007 when I started blogging.   But I look back and see a lot of these changes here in my blog.

The blog has grown so big.  It is now 2337 posts but I don't really keep track of statistics any more.  Apologies if you get lost in the long archive, or stumble over a typo, or find yourself clicking on a broken link, I don't have as much time for maintenance as I would like.  But there are also many recipes I love to make over and over, posts that make me proud and great memories, It is sort of like an old rambling shabby house.  I might be aware of the cobwebs, I might not invite over lots of other bloggers like I used to (or even visit them), but I still enjoy pottering in my own wee cosy corner of the internet when I can.

And so I hope to continue blogging, albeit at a slower pace.

More blog anniversary cakes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Victoria Sponge Layer Cake
Slightly adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe and BBC Good Food
Makes 2 x 20cm round cakes

225g butter
225g castor sugar
225g (4) eggs
225g self raising flour

100g butter
3 cups icing sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
generous 1/2 cup of raspberry jam

Grease and line 2 x round 20cm cake tins.  Preheat oven to 180 C.

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs, beating after each egg.  Gradually beat in the flour.  The batter is quite thick.  Spoon batter into the prepared tins, smoothing the top of each.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cakes are golden brown and spring back when touched on top.  Cool on a wire rack.

To decorate: first made the buttercream icing by creaming butter and gradually adding icing sugar until you have a thick icing.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice and beat to loosen the mixture slightly.  Spread one cake generously with jam (warm for 30 seconds in microwave if that makes it easier to spread.)  Spread or pipe buttercream over the jam.  Place second cake on top.  At this point you can dust the top with icing sugar.  Or you should have enough icing to spread on top, scrap around the edge of the cake and pipe some rosettes in a circle.  


Traditionally Victoria Sponge Cakes are made by weighing the eggs and then adding exactly the same amount of butter, sugar and flour.  I remembered this before adding the eggs and when I weighed them they weighed 205g so I added 20g of milk to make up the difference.  Not quite traditional but it worked. 

When I spooned the mixture into baking tins, I weighed it to get it even.  By my calculations I should have had 450g each but I only had about 430g each.  I guess the rest was stuck to the beaters, the spoon and the bowl.

The jam that I used was a home made raspberry and plum jam which was a bit old and quite thick.  I added a squeeze of lemon juice and then heated it 30 seconds in the microwave and stirred it to check the consistency to make it easier to spread. 

I added lemon juice to the buttercream sugar as the cake and icing were very sweet.  You could also add a little milk or vanilla to loosen the icing.

I was really pleased that this amount of icing made just enough without any over.  I might have liked slightly more for the side but went with the rustic naked cake look.

If you wish you can pile some of your favourite things inside but it is not necessary.  We put some caramilk chocolate squares and choc chips, please some gold leaf and gold glitter, as well as birthday candles.

On the Stereo:
Eyes Open: Snow Patrol

Monday 18 April 2022

UooUoo artwork for RCH 50th anniversary 2021

I love a public art initiative.  In late 2020, one hundred UooUoos sculptures (which were partly based on the wombat and dugong) were painted and decorated by artists to be located in an art trail around Melbourne and Geelong to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Royal Children's Hospital.  I was lucky to see a few of them as I was out and about before they were auctioned off to raise $867,100 in April 2021.  They were so cute and cheerful I wish I had seen more.  I found this post in my archives and would like to share the photos I took.

The above photo is at Flinders Street Station in the CBD by the iconic clocks!

The University of Melbourne outside the Chemistry Building, Parkville

Princess Park, North Carlton.

Between the National Gallery Victoria and the Melbourne Arts Centre, Southbank

Between the Arts Centre and Hamer Hall, Southbank

Outside the State Library, CBD

At the Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

Federation Square, CBD 

More outdoor public art in Melbourne:

Saturday 9 April 2022

In my kitchen: April 2022

April has us holding our breath as we wait for the federal election to be announced.  Meanwhile we are still concerned about Covid numbers, flood victims and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  I am taking a bit over a month of leave to rest and look after Sylvia.  The school holidays start tonight and Easter and ANZAC Day are soon upon us.

Above is a photo of the goodies that my mum sent home with me after I recently visited for lunch and also went to the beach for a swim.  I read The Age newspaper online these days but I miss reading the weekend magazines in hardcopy so my mum sometimes saves them for me.  She was also making jam so I came home with a quince jelly and a dried apricot and pineapple jam.  She had also made a batch of hot cross buns - not her most beautiful but great warm and buttered for breakfast.

I really enjoyed these beetroot and gouda crackers.  They are such a vibrant pink and have a lovely cheesy taste and snap.  I was surprised after starting the packet when I checked and found they were gluten free.  It is amazing how much more quality and variety there are in gluten free products over the past 15 years since my family first had celiac diagnoses.

I have done a lot of working from home this year but I have enjoyed it when I have gone into the office.  Sylvia helped me make these blueberry muffins for a morning tea recently.  They were lovely and fluffy with jammy blueberries.  I was glad I took them in as the other person on morning tea made some stunning (but very non-vegetarian) maple and bacon cupcakes.

My mum bought me this vegan moussaka which I really enjoyed for dinner with some bread.  I really loved the nuts and seeds decoration on top of the vegan cheese sauce.

Our No-Junk-Mail sign on our letterbox fell off so I had to buy a new one at Bunnings hardware store.  After the purchase, I fancied some pesto and rode on up to O'Hea's Bakery which sells a good one.  I was also tempted by the spaghetti hoops and milk chocolate raspberries.  I was spared further temptation because I was limited in what I could carry on the back of my bike because it was an impulse detour and I had not taken decent bags with me.

I remember a time when I was frustrated that I could not grow parsley.  It grows like a weed for so many people that having it wither in pots felt like a great failure.  It feels like I have really succeeded with parsley in the garden now that it not only grows in a few pots but had also is growing abundantly on the edge of our astro turf!

Do you remember the supermarkets had alarmingly empty shelves at the start of the pandemic in March 2020?  One of my significant purchases was a 3 litre bottle of rice bran oil.  I usually buy 500ml bottles but there were none on the shelves at the time.  So I chanced on the massive bottle and took it home thinking it would get me through.  I have periodically decanted some into a smaller bottle which I find easier to handle.  I decanted the last of this huge bottle a week or so ago.  It seems like the bottle has lasted a long time, especially as I have cooked less over the past year or two.  However I suspect I would have been shocked in March 2020 to find that it would last me two years but would not outlast the Covid pandemic!

This photo is of some interesting recent supermarket purchases.  The caramel choc chips are fascinating.  They are like a cross between something to eat as finger food and something to bake with.  The salted caramel biscuits were extraordinarily rich and creamy.  It was no surprise that I loved the Chokito Bites with their fudgy centres, given that I love a Chokito chocolate bar.  The Sourdough Crisps have a very moreish cheesy flavour and a pleasingly light crispness.  I have always loved McVities chocolate digestives but these hazelnut caramel ones take them up a notch with a chewy caramel between the digestive and chocolate.  And I am yet to open the Heinz soy and vinegar street sauce.  I bought it both because it was on special and because I wondered if it was similar to Ponzu Sauce that we love.

Sylvia was given a microwave popcorn maker for her birthday and has had fun trying some different popcorns.  We made this salted caramel popcorn which I cooked longer than last time and it was really good.

One of my nicest afternoons lately has been spending time with a friend browsing an op shop.  It was probably my first time at the op shop since the middle of last year so I really enjoyed seeing bargains, wanting beautiful crockery and sharing possibilities for odd plates.  The photo shows what I did purchase: some cutlery and an ice cream scoop.  I guess I am not doing enough dishes lately because we keep running out of good knives.  I have some knives I bought in a bag from an op shop that aren't great quality.  I tried not to get tempted at the op shop but 20c each for second hand cutlery seemed pretty reasonable.

Friday night has been pizza night in our house for years.  Lately we have bought more pizzas than I have baked.  Recently we had had a thing for Crust Pizza.  They don't have the vegetarian pizza that I had a lot in my 20s but I order the Hawaiian with no ham, and add in capsicum and olives.  And yes I am one of those people who love pineapple on my pizza!  Sylvia loves the margherita pizza and the garlic bread.  We both love the brownie bites that were 2 for the price of one for a while (but sadly no longer).  They come with a fudge sauce and were especially good warmed up.

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event.  If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog to visit more kitchens and her wonderful hand drawn header.

Saturday 2 April 2022

Broccoli and miso pasties

It has been a few months since I posted a recipe, which I find odd as I set up this blog almost 15 years ago to just post recipes.  However one reason I need to post a recipe is because I loved these broccoli and miso pasties so much.  They were one of the most memorable meals I made towards the end of last year.  They had the satisfying comfort of pastry, the healthiness of green vegies and the great taste of miso and cheese.

Of course, as always, the pleasingly vibrant green mixture did not hold its colour so well once it has spent time in the oven.  But it was still one of the better broccoli meals I have made for some time.

I didn't follow the recipe from to the letter.  The recipe below is my version.  I cut corners where I could.  I cooked the broccoli and potato in the microwave rather than boiling, blanching and frying.  Instead of rubbing butter into the flour before pouring in the hot water for the pastry, I just mixed the hot water with flour and softened butter.  Anything to make dinner easier is welcome.

I am a great fan of hot water pastry and was interested to see that it was used on The Great British Bake Off.  In the world of pastries that need mollycoddling and handling with kid gloves, I really appreciate one that comes together easily, rolls out nicely, holds the filling without collapsing and tastes delicious.  I also have been enjoying some other fun cooking shows streaming on Netflix:

  • Is it cake? a show where contestants have to bake cakes that look so like an object, such as shoes, hats and rubber duckies, that it is a
  • Baking Impossible - a combination of baking and engineering, the bakineers are challenged to bake in the form of working cars, boats and towers that all must work and pass the stress test.
  • Sugar Rush Christmas - we loved the festive baking in this competition, especially the ugly Christmas jumper cakes.

Back to the pasties, they were such a joy in a busy time.  I loved them warm with salad and chips but they also worked really well at room temperature as a quick meal before rushing out the door.  I highly recommend these for a light meal or a picnic lunch.

More pasties on Green Gourmet Giraffe blog:
Cheese, onion and potato pasties (Tiddly Oggies)

Haggis neeps and tatties pasties (v)
Pasties with lentils and walnuts (v) 
Ripper vegie rice pasties
Spinach and potatoe pasties

Broccoli and Miso Pasties
Adapted from
Makes 4

For the pastry:

1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
160g butter, softened and diced
120ml boiling water

For the filling:

400g broccoli, cut into small florets
180g potato (two medium), peeled and diced
2 tsp olive oil
3 shallots peeled and finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, peeled, finely chopped
150g mature cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
50g parmesan cheese, finely grated
1½ tbsp white miso paste
zest from 1 large lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt (I used garlic salt with herbs)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

To assemble:

1 small lightly beaten egg or milk, for brushing and sealing pastry

To make the pastry: Place flours, salt, pepper and butter in a medium bowl.  Pour boiling water over this mixture and mix until you have a soft dough that comes together into a ball.

To make the filling: Cook broccoli and potatoes in microwave with a little water until al dente.  Fry the shallots and garlic in the oil in a frypan until golden brown and fragrant.  In a large bowl mix together the broccoli, potatoes, shallots, garlic, cheese, parmesan, miso, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper.

To assemble: Cut pastry into 6 parts, roll out into circles of about 2-3mm thick. Place 6th of filling to the side of the middle but keeping about 1-2cm border.  Use milk or egg to dampen the edges of the circle.  Fold pastry over at the edges and fold again.  Make thumbmarks along the edge to seal pastie.  Place on a lined baking tray(s) and repeat with remaining pastry and filling.  Brush each pastie with beaten egg or milk and then slash with a knife two or three times.  

Bake at 200 C for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.  Eat warm or room temperature.

Labour Leader, Anthony Albanese's Budget Reply Speech in Parliament