The convergence of two events led me to spend a glorious morning in the kitchen baking from my new (acquired at Christmas) Donna Hay Modern Classics 2 Cookbook: this evening we have friends coming by for dinner and in honour of our 7th anniversay in business I get to play hooky from work today. Huzzah!
Of all the many, many cookbooks I own and cherish I have very little in the way of solid dessert recipes. I had put that particular Donna Hay cookbook on my list because most of the cookbooks I have lean toward the healthy/vegetarian/vegan variety and tend to lack in offering up a real depth of choice in the way of treats built primarily around the trinity of indulgent ingredients: butter, flour and sugar. Prior to meeting Martin, I had never actually used a Donna Hay cookbook, though I had often admired their simple layouts and stunning photography, but he brought one into my cookbook library when we moved in together and while I still haven't made full use of it I have always really enjoyed anything I've pulled out of there.
One of the aspects of Donna Hay recipes that I really enjoy is their simplicity. Typically they use very few ingredients, favouring instead an approach that lets fresh simple ingredients take centre stage as the main taste event. The same simple approach seemed to me to be true in the dessert cookbook, which was it ended up on my list instead of a Martha version or something like the Moosewood Desserts book. In fact the recipes are simple enough that last night, as I thumbed through it trying to pick the recipe I would try first, I was very pleased to note that many of the options I was considering I could make with ingredients regularly stocked in my pantry/fridge. Of course there are a few more fussy options in there: profiteroles anyone? But with the first attempt now behind me, I can say that Modern Classics 2 has at least one straightforward recipe that I would certainly make again. Of course, I've yet to taste anything save a lick of the bowl but that was pretty darn tasty.
If it somehow morphs into a total disaster, I will be sure to let y'all know, but it is currently cooling on a rack in the kitchen and looks and smells pretty darn tasty. So, if you've got a nice organic lemon lying around just itching for some zesting, why not try Donna Hay's Lemon Slice:
1/2 cup caster sugar (icing sugar)
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
120g butter (I'm so glad I bought a kitchen scale finally, I use it all the time now)
1 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch (I used arrowroot powder which I use instead of cornstarch)
2/3 cup single cream
1 3/4 cups caster sugar
1 1/2 tbsp zested lemon rind
3/4 cup lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 330F (170C). Process the sugar, flour, butter and milk in a food processor until the mixture comes together in a ball. (This took about 3 minutes for me). Press into a 8x12 inch baking tin lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes until it starts to brown.
To make the topping whisk the cornstarch (arrowroot) with 2 tbsps of the cream until smooth (use a large bowl here, I didn't and then had to transfer to a larger one making extra dishes). Add the remaining ingredients (I swear I had to look back at that list for 6 eggs about 6 times before I convinced myself that you really needed that many) and whisk together. Place in a saucepan over low heat and whisk for 6 minutes until the mixture thickens. I had to do this for about 10 minutes or a bit more even before mine thickened but perhaps that was the arrowroot? It was thick enough in the end.
Pour the lemon mixture over the base and bake for 5 minutes until just set. Cool. Slice. Ta da.