Happy Australia Day, everyone!
Whether you’re an Aussie at home or abroad, or a fellow Australia fan like me, I hope you found your own traditional or unique ways to celebrate the day.
If you’re asking yourself, “What IS Australia Day,” it’s a national holiday celebrated on January 26 which commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove and the first settlement in 1788.
While living in Sydney in 2011, I actually failed to celebrate Australia Day properly, much to my dismay. It was my last day in the flat I had shared with an Aussie for five months, and I had to pack all of my belongings and clean before leaving my beloved Sydney on a 2.5 month road trip.
So last year, my first Australia Day back in the USA, I found several ways to celebrate from afar. And I must say, I had the PERFECT DAY.
Now, if you take a moment to read the post I linked to just above, along with this one about being an Aussie representative in my hometown, you’ll notice that for the last year I’ve been making promises to you all left and right about reproducing Bakers Delight’s cheesymite scroll on Australia Day. And while I’m sure NONE of you remembered those empty promise until now, I’m totally fine calling myself out on completely dropping the ball on that one.
Since I didn’t fulfill a year-long promise to produce homemade cheesymite scrolls, I celebrated Australia Day the best way I know how — FOOD!!! Well, food that didn’t include cheesymite scrolls…
We got things started with a box of Adriano Zumbo’s salted caramel macaron mix that an American-living-in-Australia pal sent to me recently. Wait — she just received her Australia citizenship yesterday, so I guess I could also say an Australian friend sent it to me. Congrats again, Kristin!
While I worked on the meringue, Gav traced the template for piping the shells like a trooper.
I’ve made macarons a time or two before and always felt fairly confident that I had whipped the egg whites enough. Since beating powdered egg whites felt a little different than beating the real thing, I wasn’t too sure when the mix was ready. I certainly didn’t expect it to be this shade of orange.
But they piped out and settled beautifully. No bumps — just flat, lovely looking, oh-so-promising shells.
And then disaster struck.
We’ve heavily relied on an oven thermometer since moving into our flat since the inside of the oven is actually significantly cooler than it says on the oven temp display. We’re getting better at predicting what temperature to preheat the oven to in order to achieve the desired temperature, but it’s not always easy.
Well macarons are tricky little things, and really need you to bake them at a specific temperature. Even with our oven thermometer, we were a little concerned about the true temp of the oven. And who knows. Maybe I under or overwhipped the meringue in the beginning. Clearly something, or several somethings, went wrong because our poor macaron shells turned out like this:
And they looked just as sad fully assembled.
The taste was nice but the texture was oh-so-wrong. Incredibly crispy shells and a tough shell center.
So, um, lessons learned:
I am heaps better at eating macarons than I am at baking them.
I am definitely NOT making macarons for the wedding. A paid professional will have that job.
Despite our less-than-desired results on the macarons, I had another recipe lined up I was itching to make — these double decker lamingtons from an Aussie Paleo blogger. These babies are gluten AND dairy free. And they use some of my fave natural, healthy, awesome ingredients. What’s not to love, people?!
So we got to work.
The recipe called for a shallow pan, and we had the exact same size the blogger used. Success!
Well, success until I realized that while we saved money by reusing the parchment paper from the macarons for the cake, the ink trasferred from the paper to the baking tray, permanently staining it. At least the cake remained ink-free.
The gluten and dairy free paleo cake bakes up fairly thin, hence the need to stack layers and create a double decker lamington! Oh yes, what are lamingtons, you ask? A cake/sponge cut into squares, dipped in chocolate, and rolled in coconut.
These lamingtons are moist and dense and packed with healthy fats and other nutrients. The only sweetener we used was natural maple syrup, swapping out the author’s rice malt syrup. Everything else about the recipe we followed exactly.
After we finished baking, I met up with a friend for a cuppa (cappuccino with almond milk, in this case) at a local cafe, wearing a Queensland Maroons State of Origin shirt. A mini-Aussie flag was tucked into the outside pocket of my purse.
To bring my Australia Day celebrations to a close, I’m enjoying two more food-related (duh) moments today:
While there is no photo documentation as proof, for breakfast I had a slice of gluten free toast with Earth Balance coconut spread (think butter, just non-dairy), and a thin layer of Vegemite (which I’m pretty sure contains gluten as it’s made from the yeast of Carlton beer…oops!). The things I do for Australia Day!
When Gav gets home later, we’re going to watch the first episode of the SBS documentary on Adriano Zumbo. ‘Cause, ya know, I appear it in for several seconds and tell the nice cameraman how I’m trying to eat as many flavors of Zumbo’s macarons as possible.
I hope you had a wonderful Australia Day, and MARK YOUR CALENDARS! In one year I will be sharing a cheesy, salty, delicious tale of making cheesymite scrolls. Really.
Featured image source