In an attempt to stop scorning the Ekka* – and its entourage of westerly winds, allergens and disease carrying microbes – I decided to do something to honour it. Most of my grand gestures involve food, so my first thought was to whip up a ‘competition-worthy’ cake using a recipe from my CWA cookbook.
Then I remembered that I never follow recipes (or anything really) to the letter, so this would be a CWA cake…with a twist!
Uh oh. The CWA don’t generally entertain ‘twists’ in baking. Anything too twisty would surely compromise the integrity of the cake’s crumb, may result in a domed and cracked top and don’t even get me started on air bubbles. Disaster.
Ok, so I wasn’t going to whip up a prize-winning CWA cake (especially after seeing a smurf village made entirely from cake at the Ekka).
So, how about trying out one of my nan’s old recipes? After all, she was a honest country girl, and her sprawling country Queensland family still enters comps at the Ekka (though generally in the livestock and horticultural arenas, not the culinary).
More importantly, she always turned out perfectly-shaped fruitcakes and air-bubble free cupcakes and I am certain she wouldn’t give a monkey’s if I made one of her cakes a little ‘twisty’ (I rather suspect nan believed CWA cookery competitions to be some kind of cult meeting with strange talk of tunnelling, wire rack marks and lumberjacks**. I’m also sure she felt her superior knowledge in the areas of rose aphid management and pruning techniques was decidedly more useful).
But then I remembered that I’m not actually in possession of a quaint little stash of fabled family recipes for foolproof country baking (I feel very cheated). The only ones I managed to salvage are either for date cakes or tomato chutney (nan had an inordinate number for both). So, a wintery date cake it was going to be (sans chutney). Perfect!
Only, I couldn’t really remember eating the majestic date cakes and loaves nan turned out. Presumably, as a child, I prefered to demolish the pattie cakes and picklets and leave the heavier fruitcakes, served with strong cups of black tea, to the adults. So I wasn’t entirely sure what I was aiming for.
This was turing into a bit of a debacle. Surely it would just be easier to haul my disease-carrying-microbe riddled body to the Ekka and pick up a real CWA cake or scone (and perhaps a horrid, sticky toffee apple to go…for old times sake).
But I persevered and, in the end, I decided to throw everything into the mix (so to speak). One of nan’s date cake recipes, a CWA date and walnut cake recipe, my signature apple and raisin cake recipe…and bananas. You know, to give it a little taste of Queensland. And because I love bananas.
I should probably clarify that I didn’t simply throw all of the ingredients from all of these recipes into one ginormous ‘cake’ mix. I merely used them as inspiration to (finally) create a dairy-free Sticky Date and Banana Loaf. And, I am pleased to say, it turned out quite well.
It may not have looked like the impeccable CWA fruitcakes, pictured above…but, it certainly passed the taste test (even the cake-averse Gourmet Beau was repeatedly caught sawing into the loaf…oblivious to its clumsy, domed and cratered top).
Despite all of the palaver that preceded it, the resulting cake is actually very modest and super easy to make. It is a heavier-style loaf cake (though still fine and tender) and very comforting, wintery and ‘sticky-date-like’. Enjoy!