Wednesday, September 19, 2012

$120 Food Challenge by Sandra Reynolds and a Legless Chocolate Cake

Recently I was intrigued to see a cookbook based on the $120 food challenge blog at my local library. I’m always looking for ways to eat better more cheaply and I love the idea of an Australian-based budget cookbook that uses ingredients which are easy for Australian cooks to get following Australian seasons, so I placed it on hold. It arrived last week and I am very impressed.

My first impression of the book was that the recipes look great! There are even vegetarian recipes that I think my carnivorous boyfriend would love, which is saying a lot. Sandra Reynolds takes cheap ingredients and uses herbs, spices and processes to make basic food tasty and inexpensive. The downside to this is that to do this needs time and planning – this is not a cookbook for someone who wants to get home, look in the pantry and grab ingredients for dinner to be on the table in 20 minutes. That said, I’m a planner with lots of time, so not a problem for me at all. My first recipe was the 'Legless' Chocolate Cake.

The cast of characters:

Sandra says it’s a huge cake, so I halved the recipe (full not halved recipe given below). Given how easy it was to halve, I wouldn’t be surprised if at some stage in the recipe’s evolution it has been doubled to take to a party and just stayed that way.  It's an easy cake to mix, which is a definite bonus in my book. 

I served it with strawberries and cream...

..and it was absolutely delicious! Plus all of the ingredients for the cake itself are pantry and fridge staples. I can see this cake coming into frequent rotation every time I entertain. I think this cookbook is a winner.

A Legless Chocolate Cake

2 cups caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla essence or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 2/3 cups plain flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups hot coffee
icing sugar or extra cocoa powder, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease and flour a cake tin.
2. Beat sugar, egg, vanilla and oil and beat with a hand-held electric mixer for four minutes or until smooth and creamy.
3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon into a separate bowl. Add to egg mixture in alternate batches with the coffee, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
4. Pour batter in tin and cook for 40-50 minutes or until cake is done.
5. Cool in the tin for a few minutes and then turn out onto a cake rack to cool completely.
6. EAT!

PS: I also tried the steak and wedges and they were completely delicious. I would definitely recommend this cookbook

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