Sunday, December 30, 2012

Extras...

Hmmm, I'm going to have to squeeze a few lobbed-in-together Christmas-make posts, or I am not going to finish this biz before the end of the year!
Firstly; as I am sure everyone is aware ;) Christmases here are HOT!  Here in Perth; we delighted in temperatures of 40C on the day, and joy of joys; the entire following week has, and will be, also over 40C.  Monday promises a cool change of 38C, lol.
Literally, I've been in my bathers almost all day  :S
Anyhoo, Christmas Day is generally synonymous with cold seafood, chilled bubbly, cold ham, and refrigerated fruit platters, since the very thought of firing up the oven to cook a traditional hot roast anything, that is going to heat up the kitchen and the house even more than it is already, is just too awful for words....  however, some traditional European dishes have snuck their way into our hearts and been adopted, and one of my favourites is Siena cake.
It is a deliciously rich, flavoursome and chewy concoction and makes a terrific gift; it lasts happily in the fridge for weeks, that's if it remains uneaten for that long.  This year I multiplied the recipe by 4 to make a ginormous batch, enough for a cake for everyone else in the family, so everyone got a Siena cake as well as the owls.  
I use a simplified version of the recipe from the Italian cookbook published in the 90's by the Australian Women's Weekly, the original is reproduced here


Siena cake

125g (4oz) slivered almonds
125g (4oz) hazelnuts
60g (2oz) glace apricots
60g (2oz) glace pineapple
60g (2oz) mixed peel
2/3 cup plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon cinnamon
60g (2oz) dark chocolate
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
icing sugar


Spread almonds and hazelnuts on oven tray, put into moderate oven 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly golden. Chop hazelnuts roughly, combine in bowl with almonds, chopped apricots, chopped pineapple, chopped mixed peel, sifted flour, sifted cocoa and cinnamon, mix well.

Put sugar and honey in separate saucepan, stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved, brushing down sides of saucepan with brush dipped in hot water to dissolve any sugar crystals. Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer uncovered approximately 5 minutes or until syrup forms a soft ball when a few drops are dropped into a glass of cold water. Drop chocolate in and stir well to melt then add
 to fruit and nut mixture, mix them well.

Spread mixture quickly and evenly into 20cm round cake tin lined with baking paper. Bake in moderately slow oven 35 minutes, remove from oven, cool in tin. Turn out, remove paper. Wrap in aluminium foil. 
Leave at least one day before cutting. Before serving, sift icing sugar thickly over top.
Nice to have on hand for if friends spontaneously pop over for celebratory drinkies during the Christmas-New Year's break unexpectedly....  I cut mine into very slender 1cm slices and serve them as pictured at the top, for a decadent morning tea or an after dinner treat. 

Random trivia: actually our dog was supposed to be named Siena too; but an extra "n" snuck in there somehow when all her papers were filled out and registered.  I blame Sienna Miller entirely.
Another coupla makes; inspired by Novita, I made some cute little novelty coin purses for my littlest nieces and nephew.  These are the Feed the Animals coin purses, from the Straight Stitch Society.
They are fully lined with the same cotton used for the "food" zip pull, and were made all from scraps and small odds and bobs in my fabric and button stash, and I bought one short zip, from Spotlight.
Following tradition, I slipped a coin into each purse before wrapping them  :)

30 comments:

  1. Yummo! I might just try this cake... although my baking skills aren't that good.

    I would happily deal with thunderstorms and pouring rain that we had in Sydney than 40 Celsius!!

    Love your little purses. So cute.

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  2. Those purses are so cute.
    This many days near or over 40C is a bit hard to take. Thank goodness for pools and air con. The evenings have been nice.

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  3. 40°C+ temps - that's full on summertime for you over 'that-side' of the island!!! Makes my humid Brissie weather suddenly seem much more acceptable...J

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  4. +40°C temperatures is my idea of a nightmare, oh my goodness that is hot. This side of the world it is -12°C and there is a lovely blanket of snow. I love a snowy winter at Christmas time. Oh course I'm being nostalgic, in about a week when I'll be getting up early to scrape my car I'm probably going to want it gone and wishing for warmer temps. The cake looks delicious! And those coin purses are too cute.

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  5. Carolyn, you can well and truly modify this 'maffia-cake' into 'panforte di Australies' by using Mac's (Macadamia Nuts) - tried and tested and found a good competitor ;-)

    Loving greetings,
    Gerlinde

    (crossing fingers for 'non-attachements' to the weather)

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  6. I have spent a few tropical Christmases in Hawaii and I think they are fantastic, any holiday spent in a swimsuit is my kind of holiday.
    Those coin purses are so cute.

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  7. I have been enjoying the heat as well, but at the beach, swimming, fishing reading and relaxing.

    I love the little purses. They are very cute.

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  8. Sienna Cake at Christmas is a family tradition here as well, the same recipe even! My daughter made a Christmas pudding this year (the old fashioned ones wrapped in calico) but the thought of a saucepan of water boiling for 4 hours on Christmas Day was too much! We are saving it for a cooler patch of weather.

    PS Your 'not naked toes' post has inspired me to take more care of my feet and show off my tangerine painted toes in pretty new Havaianas.

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    1. thank you JenC! I think a cool day is coming on Thurs, so hopefully you will get to cook and eat your Christmas pud then ;)

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  9. I love to make as many of my Xmas presents as I can. This year Limincello and ginger spice biscuits featured heavily! Love those coin purses! I don't have many children to sew for but I can think of a few adults who may like them.

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  10. I love those purses - I have the pattern, just need to make some up.

    Also, I can hardly believe your temperatures. Here in Canada it has been freeeeeezing . . . . minus 20 to minus 30c! It does mean that we don't mind cooking a hot meal on Christmas Day though!

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  11. Is this the same as a panforte?.....I was just googling for recipes during the week. Isn't it great that you supply us with a tried and tested recipe. I just love your blog Carolyn, and thank you for your kind words and encouragement on mine.

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  12. Gorgeous coin purses and thankfully Christmas was a very cool day here.

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  13. Yum!
    I have the same coin purse pattern. Your versions look like heaps of fun to own.

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  14. Fancy cakes! Cute coin purses! You have all round creative chops!

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  15. Any cake with honey and cinnamon has to be wonderful. Those coin purses are hilarious! I'll be you are a very popular auntie.

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  16. Yum!! Thanks for the recipe. :)

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  17. Those coin purses are fabulous fun and that Siena cake looks amazing.

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  18. looks delicious, could eat it all here in cold, cold Denmark
    Happy New Year to you and your family ;-)

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  19. Those little coin purses are darling! Well done you! Happy New Year Carolyn xxx

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  20. Oh Carolyn, I love that monkey purse!!!

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  21. I don't celebrate Christmas, but this fabulous cake would be perfect for any of our Jewish holidays. But I might get in early and serve it at our Australia Day barbecue!

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  22. Yum!!! what is the mixed peel? not familiar with this term - thks! and happy new year to you and all your lovely family, Carolyn.

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    1. Thank you Coco! Mixed peel is a mixture of chopped, crystallised citrus peel; and is sold as a ready-to-use product here. I guess it could be fairly easy to make your own... maybe? :)

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  23. Never heard of Siena Cake, but I agree that this recipe could pass for Panforte, which I am fairly certain is Italian, and is totally delicious. I can't imagine being generous enough to share it as gifts. You are nicer than I am!

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  24. I have just loved reading all the posts of the Christmas presents you have made. I especially loved the owls and might have to steal that idea for another year! How lovely for you to see your family loving the home sewn gifts.

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  25. Hehe. I make panforte every year at Christmas for Mum. I make 2 - one to eat on Xmas day and one for Mum&Dad to munch into over January. Lasts forever. When we were in Siena earlier this year everyone agreed that the cake tasted stale compared to the one we have at home. Never found a cafe that sold it tasting really fresh. And we tried hard! Mind you it was top tourist time. My recipe doesn't have the chocolate in it though. Great post as usual. Loved Cassies dress and the finish on the neckline. Will be using that on some cool don't touch me anywhere sundresses that I need right now in Sydney.

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  26. The Siena cake was absolutely delicious. We couldnt stop eating it Love Mum and Dad

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  27. that looks yummy ... Enjoy your hot weather! I'm savoring our winter because it will be over way too fast. ...

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  28. Now those coin purses are just too cute!

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