Desserts are not my favourite thing, but from time to time I find myself yearning for Bunnies in the Paddock.
No, not the hopping kind, but a dish first baked for me by my mother-in-law, over 20 years ago now.
It's not up to much, she said, as she dolloped onto our plates. But by gum, it's a cracker.
This is plain, no-nonsense country-style tucker: easy to make, sustaining, delicious, but Baked Alaska it is not. It resembles, depending on how you make it, a bit of a hill, with little bunnies dotted around. It's a great dish to make for good friends, the type you don't need to impress with glamour but who appreciate real, hard-working food.
I actually got into a great deal of trouble with this dish. Years and years ago, when the daughter was just shy of three years of age, I promised I'd make it for her the next night. I was tucking her in at the time, I recall. Her little eyes widened and she expressed concern at such a thought. No, I assured her, we wouldn't be eating bunnies; this was a wonderful dessert that we wise, caring mothers kept up our sleeves to impress our children with.
What happened, of course, was the next night it did not get made. Maybe we'd run out of eggs. Or custard powder. The weeks went by, followed by months and then years. She often reminded me of my rash, unfulfilled promise.
Finally, there were no excuses. If I left it any longer, the daughter would be ready to leave home. It was time to make Bunnies in the Paddock.
After so many years, she probably was expecting something really grand. Liked Baked Alaska, or something. With much trepidation and a sprinkle of anxiety, I whipped the dish together. The moment of truth had arrived. She bit into her hillock, with lashings of cream, and her eyes lit up like a three-year-old's. She pronounced it grand. And could I make it again?
Tomorrow, I promised.
And actually, I did.
- 60g butter
- 60g sugar
- 1 egg
- handful sultanas
- 125g flour
- 30g custard
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1- 2 tbsp milk
- icing sugar to dust
- cream to pour over
Preheat the oven to 200ºC and lightly flour a baking tray.
Cream softened butter with sugar. Add the egg and beat together, using a fork.
Add the sultanas. Sift in the flour and baking powder. Stir with a wooden spoon while adding the milk.
The final consistency should be moist and firm, not runny. Turn the mixture out onto the centre of the baking tray. Smooth out to into a circular mass, about 3cm thick. It will look a bit like a big biscuit.
Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, keeping an eye on it. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with cream.