Recently our family was honoured to host an Italian student from Mantova visiting our town for 10 days. She was one of 15 students on the tour. My daughter's school exchanges with schools in Mantova. Last year our students were hosted in Mantova and were made to feel very welcome by the families who opened their homes and hearts to our Aussie kids.
So came our turn. We were excited and anxious. Waiting as the days passed slowly. Planning and thinking of what would be the best way to show an Italian student our Australian tropical wonders and delights in such a short period of time. I thought about the food! What would I cook that would show our cusine, our tastes, our different cultures that have merge into one?
The most simple but good often please!
Peach blossoms, peaches, jelly cakes - whatever you like to call them these little cakes were my host daughter's favourite.They are really easily made from simple ingredients and can be stored in the freezer.
You will require gem irons to make the traditional shape but if not the cake can be baked in a cake pan then cut into squares.
For the cake batter you will need:-
140g castor sugar
250g self raising flour
(or the 250g all purpose flour with the appropriate amount of baking powder added)
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Beat butter and sugar to a cream. Add vanilla. Add eggs one at a time then beat well. Sift flour and add alternately with the milk. Mix lightly into a soft dough.
If using gem irons, spray well with oil and spoon scant teaspoonfuls of the batter. Bake for 10-12 minutes
If using a cake pan, grease and line with baking paper a 23cm square cake pan. Fill with the batter smooth and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Your cakes should be lightly browned and risen.
It's only at times like this when I stand back and take a good look at what I cook that I realise that probably 80% of my cooking is Italian based with the remaining being Asian or Indian while experimenting with other cusines. While my baking is 70% Australian/American consisting of cakes, muffins, biscuits and scones with a smattering of Italian canoli and bignoli and lots of experimenting!
To assemble your blossoms you will need:-
1 85g packet raspberry jelly (or Jell-o)
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold water
Whipped cream or prepared mock cream
Dissolve jelly crystals in the boiling water then add cold water. Allow to stand in the refrigerator until beginning to set or until the consistency of egg white.
Sandwich two halves together with cream.
If your not using gem irons you will need to cut your cake into small squares about 2.5cm square. Hopefully you cake is about 5cm high. Cut each square through the middle then sandwich back together with cream.
Dip your joined cakes into the partly set jelly then roll in coconut. Refrigerate or freeze to keep for longer.
What a pleasure it was to host our Italian student! We have learnt so much about a country and a people we thought we already knew and we have suprisingly learnt about us - our family. We are Australians with a strong Italian heritage but we are more. We have unknownly absorbed from the various cultures that make up our great, wide land. We are, our children are, what will be the future face of Australia - a people of many nations blended into one. Australia is still evolving- we are young and we have much to learn but my, what a future we have!
Our Italian student also watched, learnt and experienced much of what Australia has to offer. She has left Australia but not our hearts, returning to Italy with a new understanding of another culture - a very diverse culture.So, we thought we were going to share and teach about our world! How little did we know! That's why it's called an exchange - an exchange of ideas, thoughts and values. A glimpse into one an other's world.
What a gift!