Monday, June 18, 2007

What is that?

If I were to ask you "Would you like a CWA Fluff, or maybe a French Rock, or how about a Roman Candle?" Your answer like mine would probably be - "What is that?"

These are just a few of the mysterious recipes that populate the CWA cookbook. For anyone non-Australian the CWA is the Country Women's Association - an Australian institution. The CWA has a long tradition of lobbying the Government on rural issues and baking. Oh yes, the baking.


The CWA is all about good solid traditional home cooking. The reason I bought this book is because it reminds me of my Nanna. I spent a lot of time with her growing up and she took me on all her social outings. I was a regular at bingo, hoy and CWA meetings. She made the best bread and butter pudding, not to mention her jam roly poly.

Even on its own the CWA cookbook an interesting read. It's now in its 52nd edition and I don't think the recipes are ever updated. They still talk about putting things on the fire, cooking in kerosene tins and using a good quick oven. There's a whole section on liver recipes, a cure for chiliblains and a treatment for scaly legs on chickens.


Perusing this book, I decided that I was in need of adventure. With nothing more than the general catergorisations to guide me, I set out to make some of the more obscure recipes to see just what I would end up with. So here they are.

CWA Fluffs (Afternoon tea cakes, scones and girdle cakes)


Okay, I was kind of expecting these to be like powder puffs, you know those little sponge cake drops. But instead I would describe them as a cross between shortbread and a butter cake. The shortbread accent comes through from the rice flour that is used. At the same time they are very light and crumby. Overall, they were really enjoyable. They are on the dry side so they would go brilliantly with a good cup of tea.


French Rocks (Confectionary)


These were a huge success. They turned out to be a boiled lolly. They start off hard, but quickly soften in the mouth and if you aren't careful they clamp onto your teeth. I coloured them pink and added a few drops of rosewater. Gorgeous.

They were tricky to make as it requires you to make a hot sugar syrup, allow it cool sufficiently, and then mould it with your hands. The first time you go to touch it is nerve racking. But now that I have made it once, and I know how it works, it will be a breeze. I have some particular tips which I have included with the recipe below.


Roman Candles (Cold Sweets)


So I had a pretty good idea of what these would be, but I couldn't resist seeing them for myself. These may have been a huge hit at dinner parties in the 1930s, but I doubt they would make much of an impression in these days of sophistication, except perhaps with small children.

While I understood the concept, they just didn't say candles to me. More there's a banana with a cherry on top. So I went wild and draped the egg white all over the banana to give a truer representation of wax. While this did make them more candely (so to speak), it pretty much made me not want to eat it.


So there you go. This was a lot of fun. I will be making a lot more things from this book. Here are the recipes.

CWA Fluffs
(adapted from the CWA Cookery Book and Household Hints)

Cream 125gm of butter and 60gm of caster sugar. Beat in 1 unbeaten egg. Mix in 60gm of ground rice, 90gm of self raising flour and 1 tspn of vanilla. Spoon into greased patty tins. Make a small hole in the centre of each one and add a drop of raspberry or strawberry jam (enough to go on a saltspoon apparently). Bake in 180C oven for about ten minutes.

French Rocks
(adapted from the CWA Cookery Book and Household Hints)

Place 500gm of sugar, 1 cup of water and a pinch of cream of tartar in a saucepan. Stir until the mixture boils, and then leave for eight to ten minutes. Do not let the mixture colour. Turn out onto a large, lightly oiled teflon coated tray. Leave to cool for a few minutes. Sprinkle with desired food colouring and essence (vanilla, mint, almond etc). Turn over and over with a stout metal spatula. It should start to turn opaque.

Once the mixture is cool enough (PLEASE BE VERY VERY CAREFUl HERE) stretch and fold the mix for a few minutes and then shape into long twists, logs or other desired shapes. Generally, the mixture will be getting close to cool when it is solid but still malleable. I found using food safety gloves to be ideal. By this stage the mix will not be hot enough to melt the gloves, but if it is still too hot to handle comfortably you can pull the gloves, and therefore the sugar away, from your fingers quickly and easily. The mix will peel away from the gloves once it has cooled sufficiently. This is also why it is important to use a teflon pan, as the mixture cools it will easily peel away from the base of the pan.

If you have shaped the mix into ropes, cut into lengths with clean kitchen scissors. If you have left it too long and it has become too hard, hold a sharp broad bladed knife over the lolly and snap down. It will break relatively cleanly.

Roman Candles
(adapted from the CWA Cookery Book and Household Hints)

Place a round of pineapple onto a plate. Place half a banana into the centre and top with a glace cherry. Beat an egg white until stiff and drape around the bottom of the candles. Enjoy.

4 Comments:

At 5:09 am, Blogger Culinarily Curious said...

See... this is what I *love* about food bloggers! Without a network like you I'd never have been exposed to CWA, CWA Fluffs, or French Rocks. Because of you, they'll probably make an appearance in my kitchen sometime soon. Thanks for sharing your experience!

 
At 11:19 pm, Blogger Cheryl said...

Wow. These are all so beautiful. I love the French Rocks. They are so beautiful you could serve them at weddings.

 
At 4:56 pm, Blogger Ali-K said...

KJ thanks for this post. I don't own the CWA cookbook but I can rarely resist opening it to a random page whenever I'm in a bookshop. It's full of great laughs but also amazes me at how people made do without the appliances we have today. We really are spoilt.

 
At 11:57 pm, Anonymous Rob said...

I just got a copy of the 2000 reprint of the CWA Cookbook.

It takes pride of place in my kitchen alongside "The Commonsense Cookbook".

You wouldn't need any other book, I reckon !

....now I'm off for some lovely Raw Liver Juice (see the invalid cookery section)

cheers,
Rob. (Sydney)

 

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