Saturday, November 19, 2016

Food for the gods

My dad turned 90 last September and our family had the grandest of reunions in the Philippines! I say "grand" but not in the sense that it was lavish or anything like that.  It was grand because we have not had a reunion of this magnitude since 2003.  My brothers and I are scattered all over the world and to be able to all fly back to Manila with our families at the same time is one great feat!

Every time I visit family in the Philippines, I always take the opportunity to browse through my aunties' recipe notebooks to see what I can copy and recreate when I get back home to Australia. Most of their handwritten recipes are not very detailed and are more of just a listing of ingredients. The challenge always for me is to be able to sort of fill in the blanks.  I try to figure everything out by myself as I really don't want to bother my auntie (the baker) with questions.  She is even older than my dad at 92 years! One of my nieces who came from the US became very interested in the recipes and asked if I could send her copies.  I promised I would but that I needed to test them out first to make sure everything was in order!

The first recipe I tried out was that of food for the gods.  This pastry was a staple in all our family gatherings but as a kid, I never really liked them.  I didn't like dates.  I didn't like that it was moist and chewy. However, since I tasted sticky date pudding some years ago, that all changed. Now, I love them!

My aunties' recipe is pretty straightfoward and it is not too different from other recipes you will find online. What I noticed though is that it had only half the amount of butter than other recipes and rather than melting the butter, it is creamed with the sugar.  It doesn't make it less tasty though.  It is still moist, just not very wet and sticky as other food for the gods are.  If that is what you prefer (like me), then this recipe might be for you!



1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon honey
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (about 150g) pitted dates, chopped
1 cup (about 110g) walnuts, chopped


Preheat oven to 170C. Grease and line an 8x8 or a 6x11 pan with baking paper.

In a small bowl, sift together the plain flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar and honey until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add in the dry ingredients and beat mixture until just combined. Lastly, fold in the dates and walnuts.

Pour batter into prepared pan then level off with a spatula. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the four corners of the cake comes out clean. (It's ok for the centre to be a little moist just as long as the top surface is already dry and uniformly brown.) Transfer pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool completely before cutting into bars.

PS.  Before I forget, thank you so much for those who voted for my cake in the Lifestyle Food Bake Challenge.  Thank you even more for those who expressed their support in the comments section of my previous post and for those who emailed me personally.  I appreciate it very much!  And just to let you know, WE ARE IN THE TOP 10!  Hope you can keep on voting for my entry till the 13th of December.  After that, I'm praying Matt Moran and Maggie Beer will vote for my cake too!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Lifestyle FOOD Bake Challenge

I know I have been gone for a loooong time.  And to come back just to ask for a favour is not the best thing in the world but I'll take my chances for whatever it's worth.

You see, I entered a cake of mine in an online competition just for fun.  It's mostly a popularity contest. However, Australian Bakeoff judges Matt Moran and Maggie Beer will choose their top 3 bakes from the 10 bakes who receive the most votes.  Only the judges' choices will get prizes.

The cake I entered is the birthday cake I made for my first grandson.  Yes, you read that right!  I have a grandson.  His name is Lachlan and he is 15 months old now!  I have not shared this part of my personal life with you although without you knowing, I've actually shared some of the cakes I made for him for his baby showers (here and here) and baptism.  Maybe someday soon, I will tell you more about him and what it's like being a rather young grandma.

On Lachlan's first birthday last August, I made for him a 3D teddy bear cake which I so painstakingly made to look like his favourite teddy bear.  He loves his bear and doesn't go to bed without it!

His daddy (my second son) turned 21 just 5 days before his birthday so we held their party together.

To be honest, carving cakes is not my thing.  Never did it before and so it really took all the powers in me to pull it off.  I was so happy that I did!

Anyway, back to the contest...

Again, the goal here is just to get my entry to the Top 10.  From there, it will be up to the judges.  I have not seen any teddy bear cake entries yet so I sort of have high hopes for my cake to win.  But I do need your help for this to happen. Pretty please?

You don't have to sign up for anything.  All you need to do is go to my entry page and click on the VOTE button.  That's it.  You are allowed to vote once a day.  If you vote for me once,  I will appreciate it very much.  If you will take the time to vote for me everyday till the end of the competition on the 13th of December, then I would love you for it :)  And I would love you even more if you share the link with your friends and ask them to vote as well.  Is that asking too much? Hope not! :)

Thank you very much! I will surely let you know how it goes!

PS.  Just to let you know too, I am working on a second book.  And I am working on new cakes as well.  Being a grandma just takes too much time away from baking and sitting in front of the computer that's why it's taking so long to finish. I love being a grandma though!