Life’s a beach

Having lived 26 of my 31 years within a stones throw of a beach, the coast means an awful lot to me. Whenever I feel like I’m running on empty, chances are you’ll find me wandering across the sands of whatever beach is closest. Whether it’s the sound of the waves or the salty sea air, there is something restorative about the beach, especially in Winter.

Stanwell Park Beach

While Sydney’s Bronte Beach is and always will be my first true love, this long weekend was all about more recent and to be perfectly frank, extensive beach history. When Mum mentioned a Sunday roast I figured it was the perfect excuse to get out of Sydney and head south to the Gong. Who can say no to good food, family and the sand between your toes? Especially when it also means a chance to play in Mum’s kitchen with my favourite little apprentice…

View facing north from the Sea Cliff Bridge

My youngest brother Ant (who happens to have Down Syndrome) is such a delight to cook with, he literally has me in stitches every time. Ask for the sugar and he’s likely to break into song and dance (think cheesy 1960’s pop songs – thanks Mum), ask for some cutlery and expect a re-enactment of a scene from The Simpsons, ask for something else and suddenly the karate kid has invaded the kitchen.

Cooking is our thing, literally. He will only cook with me but even then, it’s not without argument. Today after a heated debate over the merits of baking yet another banana cake (he’s nothing if not consistent in what he will and won’t make!), we settled on a strawberry and pear butter cake. Whilst we waited for it to cook, we cracked out the scrabble board (circa 1977, seriously…) and watched the rain tumble-down. Perfect way to finish off a great long weekend, hope you all had a good one too!

Strawberry and pear butter cake

Strawberry and pear butter cake

  • 250gm butter
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 50ml milk
  • 4 eggs, separated and the egg whites lightly whisked
  • 3/4 punnet of strawberries, halved or quartered depending on the size
  • 2 poached or fresh pears, diced
  • Icing sugar to dust.
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease and line a 20cm round spring tin and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and caster sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg yolks and milk and mix until smooth.
  4. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold through.
  5. Add the egg whites and mix until just combined.
  6. Pour into the prepared cake tin.Top the entire cake with the strawberries and pear (I like to arrange them in alternate rings around the cake, noting that usually whatever is in the centre generally ends up sinking during the baking process!). Bake for about 80 minutes. You may want to check at the hour mark and cover with foil if it is browning too quickly.
  7. Cool for about 30 minutes and dust with icing sugar.