Monday, May 13, 2013

Chocolate Cake with Candied Orange Peel and Syrup and an Idyllic Childhood

Chocolate Cake with Candied Orange Peel and Syrup

Talk about an idyllic childhood.  Mine was provided by this terrific woman.  My dad was there too, but mum really did the lions share of the work in the home.

She wanted 6 kids, but she only got me.  Mum made the most of it and gave me a lovely time.  I do remember thinking at about 7, I hope mum has no more kids, as I like it just like this.  As a mum now myself, looking back that was a very selfish thought. I also remember lying back in the bath one night, when I was about 12 and genuinely thinking,  I have had the best childhood.  Funny that not long after that, I went through alot of difficulty as a teenager, but probably no different to most.  Mum was always there and that made it all so much easier to cope with.

Part of my childhood involved roaming around in this bush, pretty much unchecked.

We used to build the best cubbies down here.  We collected gum nuts, which was the local currency and made lots of crushed sandstone.  Lord knows why, but it was fun crushing up the rocks and collecting all the pretty coloured sand. We walked the dogs with a lady in the street, Mrs Woodhouse, who practically took all the kids and dogs from our street down the bush every day after school.  What a crazy noisy rabble we were, but it was loads of fun.

We used to swim in the upper reaches of the Lane Cove River down there in the early 1970's and picnic on her banks, before the development that our houses were part of, wrecked the river by causing massive weed infestation and making it a polluted, silted up cesspool.

The back window of a vintage car
The wreck of this old vintage car has been in the bush since I was a kid.  It has survived bushfires for almost a century, but the rust is about to do her duty and get rid of her all together.  This part of the North Shore was very isolated prior to the opening of the Harbour Bridge in 1932 and there was lots of boot legging, sly grogging and long gone gangster hide outs up there where I grew up.

The best bit was we once found the buried proceeds of a bank robbery, that must have happened in the early part of the century, when the spot was very remote.  It was all imperial currency and only coins, buried off an old fire trail.  My friends and I spent hours digging up sixpences and shilling coins.  We dreamed of how we would spend the money.  Our immigrant neighbours reckoned they were going to take a holiday back in the UK.  They had got there first and dug up the best stuff, but I don't think they ever got to the old country on the proceeds of those coins alone.  I can't remember anyone telling the police either, which was probably the wrong thing too, but consequences were not as feared or respected in those days and there was the law of 'finders keepers', which kept the ethical amongst us satisfied.

  I have tried to find the spot again to show my kids, but can't for the life of me find it.   Either we got all the loot out, or the bush has done her work and over grown the spot, but I remember there being so many hessian sacks that we left.

We went on a big bush walk after a hearty mothers day lunch, so we could all indulge in this lovely cake thereafter, which I made for the first time.  I adapted it from the Avalon Food Cook Book.  I made the version with fresh orange juice, but I also added the candied orange peel and syrup that just lifted it to absolute divinity.

It's moist and scrumptious.

And there is left over cake sitting in my kitchen, that I would like to eat, but know I shouldn't.  I have no will power, so I bet I will have a nibble around lunch time.

Chocolate Cake with Candied Orange Peel and Syrup
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 oranges) Reserve the zest as well.
125g/1/2 cup butter diced.
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder/bicarbonate of soda
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Icing sugar for dusting
Oil spray to grease

Candied Orange Peel
Reserved orange zest from above (I just grated it off)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup water

To Make the Cake
Preheat the oven to 160C/ 325F
Lightly grease and line a 21 cm/ 9" spring form tin with baking paper.
Place the orange juice, butter and cocoa in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until butter has melted.
Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda, brown sugar in a bowl and combine.  Add the chocolate mixture and combine well.  Add the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and whisk together thoroughly.

Pour into cake tin and bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before turning out to cool on a wire rack.
Dust with icing sugar and serve with candied orange peel, orange syrup and cream.

To Make the Candied Orange Peel and Orange Syrup
Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and simmer to dissolve sugar, without boiling.
Add the rind and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove the peel with a slotted spoon and drain on a sieve over a bowl.
Decant the syrup from the saucepan and reserve until serving.  There will be more syrup from the bowl under the sieve after a while too.

All in all it was a lovely Mothers Day, with beautiful food and company.  We may be small in number, but we are a tight knit unit, for which I am ever so grateful.

Oh and on our bush walk, Mr Beach House and I got to chatting about his current return campaign at the gym and how fit he is feeling.  I said.  "You'll probably out live me", which would be a feat, as I was still roaming around this bush as a little kid, when he flew out for his first big trip to the UK and Europe as a 20 something.

His response "That's the plan."

Game on darl!!!!!

For more easy baking ideas have a look here.

Today I am linked up here


  1. What a lovely trip down memory lane :)

  2. Sounds like a perfect place for a child and you're right, an idyllic childhood. I wonder if our children will have the same memories? Everyone must have orange cake on the brain. I've been seeing so many of them. I'm posting a Mandarin cake recipe tomorrow. Can't beat em though.

    Anne xx

  3. Looks beautiful. Love the styling of your delicious cake.

  4. lovely story! sounds a bit like my childhood.. we used to grind sandstone as well!
    the cake looks amazing.

  5. That's so on darl!
    Loveee your cake too!!!
    Tania xx

  6. Ha thats out catch cry to in our house - Game on! Looks like a perfect Mothers Day and what a gorgeous place to grow up xx

  7. Love your story, how fun and what a great childhood. The cake looks amazing. Hugs, Marty

  8. Wonderful tale of childhood memories. And the delicious cake!

  9. What a gorgeous post, a great yarn about the bank robbery - what a THRILL for a kid, loads of emotions and gratitude and a chocolate cake recipe too. Lovely photos but get thee behind me Satan, I need to avoid cake for a few weeks. Great to have a bit of heathly competition with the hubby!

  10. I love chocolate and orange together! Glad you had a lovely Mother's Day!

  11. What a lovely story, and you are rocking that chocolate cake!

  12. Lovely post, Carolyn. Nice to see a photo of your mum! I loved reading about your adventures in the bush and how amazing that you came across the loot! I wonder what happened to the person who hid it there. Perhaps he rotted in jail never giving away his hiding spot. I definitely believe in 'finders keepers'. And that cake looks amazing. How awesome is the combination of orange and chocolate xx

  13. Beautiful! and the cake looks Amazing think I might make it for my Husbands 30th this Weekend!

  14. What a beautiful part of Sydney, Carolyn! I loved the story about you finding the treasure. What a hoot! I think I'll give your cake a go as well - looks divine!! Fi xx

  15. YUM! What beautiful photos, too!
    I'm visiting you today from a Stroll Thru Life. I co-host a Linky Party Tuesday (open thru Sat). I hope you get a chance to stop by my blog, leave a comment and Link Up, too!
    ~ Megin of VMG206
    Join me each Tuesday for Brag About It Link Up Party

  16. Enjoyed that read hon...such great stories from your childhood! You make that cake sound easy... I'm tempted to have a go xx


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