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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Friday, November 18, 2005

Hay, Hay it's Donna Day

If you're not Australian you're most likely not to get that direct reference to a very popular, long-running, now defunct Saturday night tv show. In any case, it's a clever pun thought up by Barbara, who's organised the inaugural Donna Hay day. If you don't know who Donna Hay is, check out Nic's description. Even though Nic's not Australian, she's a major fan of Donna Hay, as are quite a lot of international foodbloggers. Ms Hay really has become quite a success in Australia; in fact it was only fairly recently I discovered she was Australian. "Oh, somebody that successful must be from the UK or USA" I would think. Oops - Cultural Cringe strikes again.

Only yesterday I received my Christmas edition, full of beautiful, clean, bright photos of holiday biscuits and treats I'd love to make, but for this first Donna Day extravaganza, the wildy popular swirly self-frosting cupcakes have been chosen. It's true that I have already
made and posted about these before, as have quite a list of other foodbloggers (they were indeed flavour of the month), but in light of their obvious popularity, the idea to choose them is a good one. Those who have made them know how easy and attractive they look, and for those who don't - what more gentle way to be introduced to the Donna world?

Last time I used the new Kraft dark chocolate peanut butter spread: Nuts About Chocolate; mmmmm. Just like a Snickers bar - and I used it again for half of this batch (shown in the top photo). I was inspired after that about all the possible toppings I could use for the swirly features, and one in particular stood out; the thick, dark apple paste from Holland: Appelstroop. This stuff has the colour and texture of engine grease, but tastes fabbo. It's basically apple juice and sugar boiled down for ages until it turns thick and gooey. Yes, it's very sweet but it also has a tongue-tingling tang from the apples and a hint of smoky bitterness like treacle or molasses. Don't know about elsewhere, but it's pretty easily available from lots of supermarkets

So, you can see my effort using the apple paste. Not quite as successful with the swirling technique there. I've come to the realisation that has put a dampener on my wild list of possible toppings. Peanut butter and Nutella etc. work well because they have a similar texture to the raw cake batter; therefore the swirling and subsequent cooking amalgamates the two components well. However, using apple syrup or honey or raspbery jam....not so good. The texture is too runny, and they don't swirl too well. They also tend to bubble over and coat your muffin pans with a thick, baked-on syrupy mess which is a nightmare to clean.
But, oh yeah; they taste pretty damn good. And that baked in frosting makes them perfect to transport - just as I'm doing this afternoon as I take off for a long weekend at a friend's beach house on the Great Ocean Road. No phones, no internet - just lots of books and walk on the beach. Cheers!
I'm looking forward to seeing how many people around the world make this recipe this weekend, and who wins the prize for the prettiest swirls.

If you want the recipe for the swirly self-frosting cupcakes, it can be found in this post.

Appelstroop swirly cupcake I was enjoying...


  • I think the applestroop ones look pretty good, Niki. Enjoy your weekend and I may/may not see you next week depending on whether this get tog goes ahead!

    By Blogger cin, at 11/18/2005 12:57:00 pm  

  • They do sound like they'd be lovely with the applestroop. I can't wait to see other variations!

    By Blogger Nic, at 11/18/2005 03:43:00 pm  

  • I swear I am too scared to give these cupcakes another whirl (pun intended!) my last two batches were disasters, with my first batch the oven was on too low for some reason, with the second batch there were no obvious errors, they just failed to work. I was baking them the second time in an attempt to get them ready for a school carnival and just couldn't bring myself to send the evidence of my failure. I will wait for a Donna Hay competition I don't think I am jinxed in, before I give it a go.

    By Blogger Amanda, at 11/20/2005 12:03:00 am  

  • What camera do you use to photograph your food? And are you using manual settings such as a low aperture to get such natural lighting? Everytime I take food pics without a flash they're unfocused, and with a flash the colours are all wrong...yours always look worthy of being in a recipe book...whats your secret?? :)

    Tan @ redskye.typepad.com

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/21/2005 04:16:00 pm  

  • They look great and, being a fan of stroop, I think the applestroop version sounds yummy too! :) Aw! I feel bad that I missed this event (especially since I love these cupcakes)...have been out of commission lately due to technological disasters so I'm only now starting to bloghop again...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/21/2005 05:39:00 pm  

  • Cin/Nic - the appelstroop ones don't look so bad in those photos actually - but in real life they weren't so attractive. This time 'round the cake was a bit dry too. I'm not sure what happened there, but not my most successful baking attempt.

    Lushlife - I had a slight disaster with the appelstroop ones - in that they sort of exploded. Also my batter turned out a bit dry this time. Almost like there was too much baking powder - but I used the same amount as last time. Odd.

    Tan - Thanks for the compliment! I use a Canon Powershot s45. It's a pretty nice camera at the upper end of the basic range. But the big secret is...the macro setting. I totally rely on it for every photo. On most cameras it's the button or setting with a picture of a tulip or flower - and it allows you to focus on very close range items clearly. Without it, the photos are out of focus. I couldn't believe the difference in quality when I discovered it.
    I also never use a flash - even in the evenings, because it makes food look fake and unpleasant.
    Those two settings are really the only things I use, and can make my photos occasionally look pretty good. I surprise myself a lot of the time!

    By Blogger Niki, at 11/21/2005 05:46:00 pm  

  • I can just imagine how fab those Applestroop ones tasted. Great pictures. I'll be doing the round up this weekend. First I just need a little sleep after the Perth - Auckland night flight.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/25/2005 07:48:00 am  

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