The Comfort Bake: warm your heart
Life can be stressful. The antidote? Baking. It can offer a double dose of solace: the contemplative act of baking itself and the delicious buttery prize at the end. For those of you who lack confidence in baking, take heart. You really don’t need any fancy equipment or specialist skills. You just need The Comfort Bake. This foolproof recipe collection by the icon of good old-fashioned country cooking, Sally Wise, serves up recipes that are big on comfort and low on fuss. Like this sweet and tart lemon chiffon tray bake.
Tasmania’s favourite nan
Sally Wise OAM is a living legend of home cooking. She was the 2019 Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year. She’s also known as “Tasmania’s favourite nan” for her popular cooking school set in the picturesque Derwent Valley, bestselling cookbooks and decades-long regular spot on ABC Radio. When she’s not running cooking demonstrations at food festivals or community events, she can be found teaching locals, tourists, prisoners, young adults and children how to turn simple ingredients into comforting meals.
In Wise’s new book, The Comfort Bake, you’ll find savoury classics like pies, quiches, breads and focaccia. There’s also the creamiest potato bake ever. These sit alongside a glorious line-up of sweet treats. Think coffee hazelnut cake with espresso drizzle, rhubarb and caramel slice, spiced ginger cookie sandwiches and a supremely simple whisky and orange chocolate self-saucing pudding. To celebrate the launch of The Comfort Bake, Wise has shared with us this recipe for a lemon chiffon tray bake. And if that’s not enough to convince you that this is the book that you need in 2022, heed these words from former food critic now farmer and owner of Fat Pig Farm, Matthew Evans.
“Sally Wise is the granny we all wished we had,” he says. “In one book, she’s compiled all the recipes you’ll ever need to bake. It’s as sumptuous as it is soothing.”
Lemon chiffon tray bake
“This is an exceptionally delicious light and airy bake, perfect for sharing,” Wise says. “The lemon is enhanced by a cream cheese icing swirled with lemon curd. Of course, you can buy lemon curd. But making your own makes this just a bit more special. The leftover curd can be stored in a sterilised jar in the fridge for up to 10 days.”
For the base:
250g self-raising flour
3 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp sea salt
300g white sugar
6 egg yolks
125ml vegetable oil
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
120ml lemon juice
8 egg whites
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
For the lemon curd:
3½ tsp cornflour
150ml lemon juice
5 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks, lightly whisked
200g white sugar
150g salted butter, diced
For the topping:
60g softened salted butter
3 tsp finely grated lemon zest
350g icing sugar
40ml lemon juice
To make the base:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease a 22 x 35 x 4cm lamington-style tin.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then stir in the sugar.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk milk, egg yolks, oil, lemon zest and juice until well combined.
4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid mixture. Beat for 2 minutes using hand-held beaters or a stand mixer, then set aside.
5. In a separate and very clean large bowl, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar with hand-held beaters or a stand mixer until glossy peaks form.
6. Use a metal spoon to fold the egg whites in four batches into the cake batter.
7. Spoon the batter evenly into the tin and bake for 30–35 minutes until the cake pulls away from the sides a little and a metal skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
8. Leave to cool completely.
To make the lemon curd:
1. Combine the cornflour and lemon juice, then place in a small saucepan with the remaining ingredients. Whisk over low heat for 10 minutes until mixture thickens. Strain through a sieve and allow to cool.
2. This makes 280g. You‘ll only need about a third of this for the slice; keep the rest for another time, to top freshly baked scones or fill little tart cases.
To make the topping:
1. Whisk together cream cheese and butter until well combined. Use a large metal spoon to stir in zest and icing sugar, adding lemon juice as needed to make a soft, spreadable icing.
2. Spread over the top of the cooled cake.
1. Make small indents in the icing and spoon over the lemon curd to taste, swirling to make a decorative pattern. Cut into squares and serve straight from the tin.
Images and text from The Comfort Bake by Sally Wise, photography by Samuel Shelley. The Comfort Bake is available from Murdoch Books. RRP $39.99.