Late Winter

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Hello friends. If you have called in purely for the chocolate slice, grab the cocoa and the butter and scroll to the bottom. If you would like to read a little more, please take your time.

As we head towards spring the light is shifting, the days are stretching out just slightly and my enemies, those revolting blow flies are once again buzzing around the house.

I have seen a flock of freshly hatched emus in the paddock, carefully exploring their new world with their protective father. The chooks are laying and there are tiny lambs finding their land legs in the paddock.

We have a goat muster in our hill country on the horizon which always has an air of excitement about it. This time it will be a little bit different as we remember a valued friend and team member who would normally have lead from the front on these mustering missions, but sadly is no longer with us.

I am a bit behind in the vegetable garden but at this time of the year it seems quite forgiving.  Sicily Purple cauliflower has been a standout over winter.  Now, I am digging in a green manure crop of Lucerne and preparing once again for tomato season.  Last year my most successful variety was San Marzano so I will be trying that one again. 

In the autumn I devoted a large space in the veggie patch to Queen Anne’s Lace. I love these soft flowers and was hoping they would be in bloom for a special function we are holding on our property later in the year. Just like the rest of the world; the future of the function is uncertain but I am hoping for lots of flowers, regardless of pesky pandemics.

Winter veg

I like to keep my bread making equipment simple. I have stainless steel bowls, sturdy scrapers, sharp razor blades for scoring and pizza/bread peels that are well worn from years of wood oven work. But, cleaning the flour from the bannetons can be a fiddly job. I have recently tested one of these banneton brushes and they are great. Any excuse to visit Odgers and McClelland. Bread friends, take note!

Futuresteading is a new to me podcast and all of my favourite people are there including Pip Lincolne and Kate Ulman who were some of the first bloggers I started following, many years ago. Naturally, their stories have changed over the years and hearing their voices feels like checking in with wise and trusted friends.

Also, Company, a podcast from Skye Manson. Skye has a smooth, silky voice and is also very observant and perceptive as she guides her guests gently through their own life stories.

Do you buy many books? I could buy so many but I try to be more selective these days, only buying the ones that really grab my attention and that I can see myself reading many times over. I have been a long-time fan of Annie Smithers for her no nonsense yet highly skilled approach to cooking and growing food. Her new book, Recipe for a Kinder Life, is on my wish list.

I recently posted a photo of my favourite crunchy chocolate slice on Instagram and then promised I would share the recipe. I am not reinventing the wheel with this, similair recipes have been around forever. But, this is a favourite in our house so I hope you enjoy it.

Happy baking, friends x

Crunchy Chocolate Slice
INGREDIENTS
  • 250 g butter
  • 225 g plain flour
  • 30 g cocoa powder
  • 175 g brown sugar
  • 100 g shredded or desiccated coconut
Chocolate Icing
  • 50 g butter
  • 2 tbsp hot water
  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 30 g cocoa powder
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C

  2. Line a 33cm x 23cm slice pan or brownie pan with baking paper. Set aside.

  3. Place butter in a small saucepan over low heat until melted.

  4. Sift flour and cocoa into a large bowl.

  5. Add sugar and coconut to the flour and cocoa and combine.

  6. Add melted butter to the flour mixture and stir until well combined.

  7. Press mixture firmly and evenly over the base of the prepared pan.

  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the mixture is starting to bubble around the edges. It may feel soft at this stage but it will become firm as it cools.

  9. Cool in pan and then place on a wire rack. Refrigerate the slice prior to icing, this will make it easier to ice.

Chocolate Icing
  1. Place butter and hot water in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter is melted.

  2. Sift icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl.

  3. Add melted butter to icing sugar mixture and stir until smooth. Add small amounts of extra hot water and continue to mix if the icing seems too dry.

  4. Spread icing evenly over cold slice and top with coloured sprinkles. Cut into pieces to serve.

  5. Store in a airtight container. Refrigerate in warm weather.

13 Comments

  1. Reply

    Alison

    August 13, 2021

    Thank you for introducing me to Skye Manson, I love her interviewing style, just like eavesdropping in a cafe 😁. Today’s task is to download onto my mother’s (85) iPad so she can enjoy them too.

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 13, 2021

      That’s great Alison! Skye is so lovely, what a wonderful thing to share with your mum.

  2. Reply

    Reannon

    August 13, 2021

    Jane, I loved listening to those eps of Futresteading too! Pip & Kate feel like old friends to me even though they are not in my real life.

    Your garden looks so healthy & green. Despite the bucketloads of rain we’ve had things don’t look it feel vibrant. They just seem muddy. I did pull some weeds from the veggie bed last week so who knows, maybe I’ll grow something come spring…..

    I do love a chocolate slice so will have to try your one.

    I own no fancy bread making equipment but do feel that it is time to buy some baskets for shaping.

    I’m sorry to hear your friend is no longer with you. Much love xx

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 16, 2021

      Thanks Reannon, I wish you were closer, I would give you some bannetons. I have too many! x

  3. Reply

    Anne

    August 13, 2021

    Your purple cauliflower and colander of produce looks fabulous. Does the cauli keep its colour when cooked? Alas, I can’t grow them as the slugs eat them faster than I cut them. I’m using my nasturtiums, which are in full flower now, for making water colour paint with the grandchildren and dyeing wool. Weird I know!

    As ever, your photos make me yearn to revisit Australia. Fingers crossed that it will happen again.
    Ax

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 16, 2021

      I love your creativity with things from the garden Anne, nasturtium paint sounds so beautiful! I really hope we can travel again too, we are now in proper lock-down and the thought of a holiday feels so far off! x

  4. Reply

    Jemma

    August 13, 2021

    Oh Jane Odgers & McClelland might just be my new favourite place to shop thanks for the tip! I made our family choc slice this week for lunch boxes but think ill give yours a go next week since it scarcely lasts more than 2 days in our house!

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 16, 2021

      Hi cousin Jemma, so lovely to hear from you! If only all shopping was as lovely as the Odgers & McClelland experience. Chocolate slice is always a good idea, but it does disappear quickly here too. Stay safe in lock-down x

  5. Reply

    Kylie

    August 16, 2021

    Hello dear Jane,

    I didn’t know you were still writing your blog(!) so finding you again (via Five things To Be Cheerful About newsie) is a lovely surprise- as is seeing Lucy Violet’s colande rin your pics. It’s nice to know that you still use it and that it’s getting some love. That chocolate slice was always in our lunchboxes- thanks for reminding me about it. Anyroad, take care Jane x

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 16, 2021

      Hi Kylie, lovely to hear from you. Are you still in WA? I hope you are staying safe. My old Blogger page had a serious error and I had to walk away from it, but I missed it. So I had a clever friend set up with WordPress page which I have kept up with on and off! Suddenly I feel the urge to get back into it and keep writing. Yes, those colanders are very useful, I use them daily in the vegetable garden. x

  6. Reply

    Jenny

    August 16, 2021

    Hi Jane
    I have followed the “Shady Baker”: for some time on instagram and enjoy your posts so I am very excited to find your blog and hope you find time in your busy life to post again. It is so nice to read about others living on the land, in all different environments and loving it.
    Your slice sounds delicious and as you say, always a winner. I have just finished “Recipe for a Kinder Life” and it was a delightful read about gardening, cooking, geese, balancing your life and more.
    Pleased it is on your list!
    Kind regards,
    Jenny
    @woodstock_farm

    • Reply

      Jane S

      August 16, 2021

      Thank you Jenny, lovely to hear from you and make the Instagram connection! I need to order Annie’s book, it sounds right-up-my-alley! I appreciate you calling in.

  7. Reply

    Leisa

    September 23, 2021

    Jane, so pleased to have found you and I am enjoying all that you share. Having lived in western Queensland for a bit and growing up on a sheep farm there is so much I love about your stories and images. Oh and I love baking too. I initially found you for your chocolate slice – which is why I am here this morning! The hungry fam is desperate for ‘something to eat’ so I’m grabbing your recipe again so the tweens and teens and can make it themselves. It was eaten very quickly when I last made it so I’m sure it’s all the incentive they will need to get in the kitchen. There’s something so nice about baking something that another family loves in the hope that mine will also and I can add it to my old tattered recipe book! Thank you for sharing your recipe. Leisa

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