Teacake for Two

Yet another post about baking, not writing. Sorry. Although…I do think about my manuscript while cooking, so it’s not a total departure. (My characters had a whole conversation in my head while I mixed the batter — fellow fiction writers will understand this, I’m sure.)

Anyway, last week my husband mentioned he likes apple teacake. I LOVE apple teacake. After the low-cake disaster from a few weeks back, I was ready to go back into the kitchen and give it a go. My lovely friend Kandy Shepherd, who is a baker and author extraordinaire, had a couple of suggestions for me about baking — the most important of which was to stop substituting ingredients. Makes a lot of sense, really!

The My Nana’s Recipes blog had a very simple apple teacake recipe using ingredients I already had on hand. If I may say so, it turned out beautifully and it broke cake-height records in my household — a whopping four centimetres!

Kandy, if you’re reading, you might want to close your eyes now, because I have to admit to tweaking the recipe. I used gluten-free self-raising flour again, and egged on by hubby, I added an extra egg. He’d read somewhere about putting an extra egg into cakes to make them richer… Oh, and I creamed the sugar and butter properly. By “properly,” I mean I didn’t take my usual lazy-baker’s route. i.e melting the butter. (On further reflection, this is prolly why my previous cakes haven’t risen to the occasion. Ahem.) No, I worked with softened butter and elbow grease. Great tips for creaming butter and sugar by hand can be found in this post on The Kitchn blog and in its comments trail. Also, in the batter, I put in half a finely diced apple, though I wish I used more or made them chunkier pieces because I can’t detect the apple in the finished cake!

I can’t offer you a taste-test (there’s only two slices left anyway), so here are a couple of piccies. I used a filter for the first shot, so the cake looks more yellow/orange than it actually is.

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Mm-mm! Apple teacake.

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Best served drowned in pure cream.

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Surf, Sun, Sizzle…and now zzzzz!

A day after returning from the US, I trotted off to the RWAustralia conference in Coogee, Sydney, for a couple of days, where I held a workshop with Tracey O’Hara on Saturday, then presented my AV show for the awards festivities that night. The tag line for the conference was ‘Surf, Sun and Sizzle’, and let me tell you they should’ve added ‘sensational’, because it was just that. Now I need lots of sleep! Congrats to Cathleen Ross, Kandy Shepherd and their hardworking committee for putting on a brilliant conference.

Spare a thought for the very gracious NZ author Nalini Singh, who is now heading off to her fourth (?) writers conference since July. I somehow missed bumping into Nalini in Orlando, but I was so glad to meet her in Sydney. Anna Campbell hand-sold Nalini’s books to at least four unsuspecting conference-goers, and I’m sure they’ll be very happy with their purchases!

One of my YA books, ‘Ghost-Ridden’, was lucky enough to nab third place in the Emerald Award, which is the Aussie equiv to the Golden Heart. Historical author Alli Withers, who is not only the sweetest person ever but a fantastic writer, won first prize. Yay, Alli! Also big winners were my dear, dear friend Sharon Archer and my workshop buddy Tracey in the Ruby Award. The full list of RWAus contest placings for 2010 can be found here.

Editorial director for Harlequin Enterprises Dianne Moggy presented Sharon with her Ruby Award. Before she left the stage, Dianne whispered to me that she liked my shoes! That’s almost as good as hearing an editor say she liked my book! Dianne, if you’re reading, here are the shoes. I know you’ll thank me for not including my feet in the picture.

It was fantastic to finally meet some of my online pals in person, including author Eleni Konstantine, who did a tremendous job volunteering at the conf, and Christina Phillips, whose first book for Berkeley Heat comes out next month. Several people travelled from far and wide, including two of my fave NZ residents, Sara Hantz and Amanda Ashby. They conducted a fun and enlightening workshop on YA fiction, and also gave me serious private pep talks and hugs! Thanks, you guys!

From left, Sara, Amanda, and Christina's hair.

At the awards night, I sat with Vicki Lewis Thompson and her daughter/assistant Audrey. It turns out we’d arrived in Australia on the same plane a day earlier. Both Vicki and Audrey were so gracious, and being cat people, we got along famously. I’m so glad they came all the way out here for our conference. I just have to show you the cover of one of Vicki’s books–it features a black cat that looks remarkably like my Pinklepurr.

'Blonde with a Wand' - Vicki Lewis Thompson

Vicki and Audrey, in case you’re reading, here’s that cute piccy of my other cat:

To those who kindly attended my workshop, thanks for coming along! We had an awful tech prob and also ran out of time, so I’m grateful to all of you for persevering with us. The workshop notes are now on my website and I may post my demo book trailer here soon.

Now, after being away from home for nearly four weeks, I’m off to sort out my life! I will post more photos of the Orlando conference a little later…

Happy Monday, all!

TGIF!

Wow, what a week. More than a hundred years after Australian women won the right to vote, our first female prime minister was installed into office yesterday. She wrestled leadership of the ALP and the PM-ship from Kevin Rudd in extraordinary circumstances. While I wish Julia Gillard had been elected by the public, it’s still quite a milestone. It’s going to an interesting few months in Australian politics.

Now to other topics… My lovely friend Kandy Shepherd sent me a copy of her latest book, HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. Behind the adorable cover is a fantastic read with good doses of romance, suspense, and Kandy’s trademark humour.

I looked after my neighbours’ pretty white cats for a few days, and in return they gave me these stunning chockies from the Hunter Valley. It’s lucky I managed to get a photo, ’cause these choc kitties are lonnnggg now.

It’s not exactly the best photo. I was more focused on scarfing those babies down. There are much better pics of fab foodstuffs at Epicute.