A cake for people like me who love oranges - peel, juice, flesh and all. The cake itself has two whole oranges blended into the batter and is topped generously with slices of candied blood orange. Unlike many gluten-free cakes, this one stays deliciously moist for days! To save time boil the oranges the night before you intend to make the cake so that they are soft and ready to go when you need them.
You will need:
- 2 whole oranges (I used the seedless "cara cara" variety for it's beautiful sweetness and ruby colour)
- 125g salted butter, softened
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups self-raising gluten free plain flour
(OR a combination of 1 cup rice flour + 1 cup tapioca flour with 4 teaspoons GF baking powder OR 2 cups almond meal with 4 teaspoons baking powder)
For the candied blood oranges:
- 1/2 cup water,
- 1 cup caster sugar,
- 3 small blood oranges, sliced in thin rings
For the cake:
Place 2 whole oranges in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring the water to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer oranges for 1 hour with a lid on the pot. Drain the water out and let the oranges cool down overnight or for at least 4 hours before making the batter.
Preheat moderate oven (180’c). In a blender - blitz oranges (rind and all!) until smooth. Beat in softened butter, sugar and eggs. Mix in flour and beat until smooth. Pour batter into a (paper-lined) 22cm spring form cake tin. Bake for 50-60 minutes. You will know when the cake is done when a skewer or thin knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove cake from the oven and cool while you make the candied orange slices.
For the candied blood orange slices:
Slice three small blood oranges into thin rings. In a large, heavy-based frying pan bring 1/2 cup water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil on a high heat. Gently place all your blood orange slices in the pan - they can overlap each other - and reduce heat to low. Let the oranges simmer for 20-30 minutes. I used tongs to flip the slices over a couple of times in this process. Turn the heat off. Remove the slices and let them cool a little on a piece of baking paper or on a clean plate. There should be a little syrup left in the frypan.
Arrange candied slices on the top of the orange cake and drizzle all the remaining orange syrup on top. Enjoy on it's own or with a generous dollop of double cream or greek yoghurt...
My newly finished Steele pinafore is a labour of love! The pattern is very well written but requires careful concentration. I enjoyed the challenge of sewing it, and even though my topstitching is not perfectly even, I am happy with the results. The fabric is "Roccoco" gingham linen from Merchant and Mills and is deliciously soft and comfortable. I love that it throws navy, grey, beige and mauve depending on the lighting. I know I will wear this pinny over and over again.
I also recently made another Eva dress as a sample for a sweet fabric and haberdashery shop in Bendigo called "House of Cloth". It was a pleasure to test this pattern using their beautiful European linen which has black and green threads woven together to create this shimmery teal hue. It is a lovely pattern; enjoyable to read and follow. Once again I decided to lengthen the sleeves to 3/4 length.
The weeks of winter blur together, one after the other. The weather frames the stuff of life, work and home. We move through frost, wind, rain, sunshine, frost and rain again. I find myself with less to say, and more to listen to. We sit with big, momentous decisions and try our best to slow down, to understand each other. I walk and feel acorns crunching under my boots, mud squelching. I spy daffodil heads swelling, parrots and galas chattering. And still the the wood heater keeps us warm, my bedside piled high with books, our table laid with good food and the shenanigans of young people, the hardenbergia showers white pea flowers, the blueberry dotted with buds...
Making: a Steel Pinafore with sublime checked linen
Knitting: Rift Sweater for my (almost 40 year old) love
Baking: Frangipane tart with rhubarb and blackberries frozen in summer
Reading: Matrix by Lauren Groff and Bedtime Story by Chloe Hooper
Listening to: Rang Tang Ring Toon (and other whimsical tunes) by Mountain Man
"You will indeed go out with joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush, a cypress will grow,
and instead of the brier, a myrtle will spring up;
they will make a name for the LORD,
an everlasting sign, never to be destroyed.”
I drove the boys up to Sydney with me for the beginning of the school holidays. Our cups were filled with the sublime - cousins and family, hugs with my mum, playground adventures, Lebanese pizza, salt water, sandy feet, urban sounds, city birds and glorious sun rays. Sydney will always be the place I grew up: the city I studied and explored on train, bike and foot. It's where I got married, where I discovered Arabic and jacarandas and heavy metal. Fostered faith, found friendship. It's loud and chaotic, overdeveloped and overwhelming, and the traffic makes me want to give up driving forever - but it's gloriously diverse, colorful and exciting. It's the ground on which I lived for two thirds of my life. I am glad to return and say to my children: this is the city where I was born //
It has been so cold recently. The coldest beginning of June I can remember since we moved to these parts nine years ago. I wish I could tell you that each time the winter season comes around I am better prepared, more accepting and embracing of it's unique opportunities and prompts - but I'm not. I loathe it. My whole body seems to go on protest: sore, knotted, aching, raw, sad. I have some deeper issues with my health and specifically my thyroid that we are trying to pin down and support - and interestingly one of it's symptoms is poor circulation and an increased sensitivity to the cold. Knowing this helps, if only to remind me that my body is actually finding it more difficult to winter than previous years. I wish I could curl up in a cave to hibernate and reappear with the bright sun in spring!
I recently finished knitting a shawl using a skein of handspun and dyed wool I bought on my birthday weekend at Tarndie Farm. I used some other fingering weight yarn a friend gave me. All through the knitting process I wondered how these colours would sit together, how unusual and theatrical they seemed. I wasn't sure I would like it, let alone want to wear it. And now the shawl is finished I chuckle at it's honest reflection of winter: the brown wood for the heater, table tops and toast, the silver frost, grey hairs, woollen jumpers, and the red rosehips, beetroots, swollen fingertips, blessed life-giving blood. Best of all it's soft and warm, exactly what I need.
How are you going? Is it winter for you or is summer unfurling? If you were here I'd put the kettle on and we would pull our chairs close to fire and sip warm relief. Take care x
A Short History of the World According to Sheep by Sally Coultard (2020)
A friend lent me this. A wonderful read, refreshing in it's brevity and attention holding. Sally Coultard writes with wit and detail as she explores a global history of sheep farming and the development of wool as a fibre, and the many crafts and trades, political unrest and culture formation that arose from it. From breeds of sheep in ancient Mesopotamia to the hand-spun sails of anicent Norwegian ships, export of royal stockings to agriculture in Australia - the stories and historic records are fascinating. Not to mention the section all about sheep and wool derived words and idioms: warp, weave, fleeced, spinster, dyed-in-the-wool, spin a yarn, pull the wool over one's eyes, moral fibre, bellwether, sheepish, wolf in sheep's clothing, black sheep!
This Golden Fleece by Esther Rutter (2020)
Following on my sheep theme, I read this one by Esther Rutter exploring Britain's history and love of wool. She travels around the countryside and isles, visiting sheep farms, woollen mills, museums and markets - weaving personal stories with history and folklore about the craft. She also documents her own progress knitting some special projects for herself and loved ones. I enjoyed this so much!
Madam Bovary by Gustav Flaubert (1856)
Read and dissected slowly in my book club (with my sister, sister's partner, and mum). Such a rich and provocative work. Originally written in French, it was interesting to compare our various English translations. I have read MB before - in high school, but didn't get nearly as much out of it as I did re-reading it in this season of life. It raises so many questions around femininity, sexuality, marriage, class, narrative, faith. So worth reading.
I thought it was just me (but it isn't) by Brene Brown (2007)
I listened to this as an audiobook while I cleaned the eggs over a week or two, and appreciated the time and space to reflect in-between sessions. I ended up buying a hard copy I enjoyed it so much - although enjoy isn't the right word, more that I valued it's insight and wisdom greatly. Brené does a great job unpacking the devastating social, emotional, and physical effects of shame through her 6-year study with women of varying ages and ethnicities. “Nothing silences us more effectively than shame" she writes. I found her case studies and personal stories heart breaking and sadly familiar. She shares lots of practical suggestions and ideas for identifying and abandoning shame and finding life-giving and compassionate alternatives. “If empathy is the skill or ability to tap into our own experiences in order to connect with an experience someone is relating to us, compassion is the willingness to be open to this process.”
Anti-Social: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians and the Hijacking of the American Conversation by Andrew Marantz (2019)
My beautiful library purchased this one after I requested it. I have followed Andrew Marantz's writing for the New Yorker for a few years with great interest and respect. His book explores the rise (and rise) of political extremism and white supremcey made possible through digital media and social networking. An engrossing, disturbing, important read.
Love Objects by Emily Maguire (2021)
This was a random library borrow based on the back (and front) cover. I felt like reading fiction and was intrigued by the synopsis and her exploration of hoarding as a mental health condition, as well as the complicated nature of extended families in times of crisis. It held my attention mostly, though some parts are quite graphic and disturbing. Always strange and wonderful to read a book set in my birth city, Sydney and in neighborhoods I know well.
Things I don't want to know by Deborah Levy (2018)
This was the first installment of her "living autobiography trilogy" and my favourite of them. It is the shortest in length but felt the most intimate and revealing. Beautifully written. Levy delves into her childhood growing up in apartheid South Africa, and later moving across to England. Highly recommend.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (2005)
A friend lent me this. I have long wanted to read it. So beautiful, so heart-breaking. I couldn't put it down, and thought about it long after the last page ended. Highly recommend. “We are not idealized wild things.
We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.”
Read my autumn reading here
Read my summer reading here
to your lovingkindness
steady my feet on soft grass
to the gentle stream
may I bathe in living water,
drink from your wellspring
at the harbour of your grace
a place to rest my head
in the hope of new life
where space for stories grow,
compassion and belonging.
to the still small voice
that I would hear you
in the clamour and in the silence
ABOUT the author
Emily Clare Sims is a farmer and mama to three young boys. Each day she looks for ways to notice beauty, contemplate her faith and savour the seasons...