Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lemon, Passionfruit and Almond Slice


Did you know that NewsPoll did a survey on the effects of the economic downturn on peoples eating habits. The survey, commissioned by Taste.com.au, found that more than half of all Australians are eating out less often, while 44 per cent of us are more likely to prepare meals at home. The economic downturn means we eat out less, cook at home more and ask friends to bring a plate when they come round for dinner. Since the beginning of the global financial crisis, 18 per cent of us are more likely to entertain at home than we used to, and when we do have people round, 17 per cent of us are asking our guests to bring a plate.

This isn't a new thing people. There is a long tradition in Australia of taking a 'plate' to an event. I remember as a child going to community events such as dances and school functions and everybody took a plate of food to share for supper or lunch. As an adult I often go to meetings and get togethers and take a plate. If instructions are given they often includes things such as surnames from A to M bring a savoury, N to Z bring a sweet or vica versa. Sometimes the advice might be bring a salad or a sweet and the meat for a barbeque is provided. There are hundreds of variations to the instructions to bring a plate.
In our younger and poorer days we would often have bring a plate dinner parties. The hostess would cook the main course and direct the guests what to bring i.e. one would bring the starter, another the dessert or some cheese or a bottle of wine.

In the distant and not so distant past community event announcements might say "Ladies please bring a plate". I imagine if this was put on anything today the outcry against such a sexist comment would bring down the roof. It wasn't regarded as anything incorrect in the past. It was merely an indication that prior to the late 70's more women were domestic engineers/home managers whatever you like to call it. The men worked and women stayed home.
I grew up in a rural community and neither my own or any of my friends mothers worked away from the family home or business. That is not to say they didn't work very hard on family farms and in businesses most of them did. Any country wife would never admit she didn't have time to produce a plate for a morning tea or community event. That would be a sin up there with serving store bought biscuits (Cookies) to someone dropping in for a cuppa.

So these days times are tough, money is short and community groups and everyone else is counting their pennies. Asking people to bring something to contribute to a meal is on the upturn.
I don't wait for a request to be given. I like to cook for people. It is something I do well. The affirmation and enjoyment of others while they are eating something I have made makes me feel good. Plus I hate stale biscuits and see no reason for them. If we go to family or friends for a meal I always offer to take something if I have time to make it.

Tomorrow I am going to the South Australian Embroiderers Guild for a workshop with Gary Clarke. I had plenty of lemons and passionfruit to make lemon and passionfruit curd so a slice including those ingredients was a natural idea.
I chose a recipe from The Australian Women's Weekly Home Library Biscuits and Slice Cookbook. The recipe is called Sticky Lemon and Pecan Slice. I've made it before and I knew it was a great recipe.
I changed it to fit in with what I had on hand and doubled the topping part. I am providing the recipe as I made it.

Lemon, Passionfruit and Almond Slice.

Base
250 grams, 1 cup butter
50 grams, 1/4 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200 grams, 1 3/4 cups plain flour
30 grams, 1/4 cup cornflour
1/3 cup ground almonds

Topping
4 eggs
300 grams, 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
30 grams, 1/4 cup cornflour
30 grams, 1/4 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh passionfruit pulp
1 cup flaked almonds

Method
Preheat oven to 180° C / 360° F
Line a 20cm x 30cm lamington tin (8” x 12” x 2” baking tray) with bake paper.

Base
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy.
Stir in sifted flours and ground nuts.
Press mixture evenly into prepared pan.
Bake for 20 minutes in oven. Remove and allow to cool while preparing the topping.

Topping

Beat eggs in mixer bowl until thick and foamy.
Gradually add sugar beating well between each addition.
Stir in remaining ingredients pour over pastry base.
Return to oven and bake for 20 minutes or until set.
Cool in tin for several hours or overnight. Cut into 5 sm/2” squares.

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