The Daily Plenty Workshop
It’s really quite shameful to have prolonged this rendition of The Daily Plenty workshop I attended so many months ago. Time; life; space seemed to get in between us and the memories began to fade with the patina of a fond veil. Landing on my doorstep though to revive recollections was a tiny parcel almost forgotten; it’s contents, our long awaited cookbook - the evidence of our labours woven together by some very creative hands.
Finding myself in the company of some seriously stellar women all that time ago altered my trajectory. We laughed, cried, ate, drank and sang kumbaya - well no not really but you get the idea. We bonded. Deeply. Now don’t get me wrong I’ve never been one for the tribe, but these women just got me, without the need for explanation or justification. It was four days of floral, festive, joy. I went without expectation and yet some how it exceeded my wildest imaginings.
The premise was to celebrate the secluded Dumaresq Valley capturing a glimpse of its soul in the pages now published. The stage of our frivolity was Moorabinda Station, a rural property wearied by time but ever the more magical for it. Beautiful tin dwellings housed on its acres played host. There was the cavernous wool shed with grand timber beams and faint hints of lanolin; rustic shearers quarters adorned with light and linens and the old cooks kitchen, all warm and dark stained by smoke from the wood fire oven. Each place had its own qualities. It’s own stories.
The days were lessons and advice punctuated by moveable feasts and casual conversations. We sat at tables crowned by cotton branches, nestled soup filled pottery to our chests aside the fire and languished atop sandy banks by the riverside. The food was near indescribable, all the mastery of Sarah Glover and her merry band, namely Somer Watson and Jane Grylls. It was wild, uninhibited cookery that tamed the elements, we gorged upon rich dark jus, tender meringues, pine tainted creams, crisp radishes, smokey roots and delicate crumbs. Each table was a lavish and savoured spread, that I fear described would be represented unjustly. All I’ll say is that I’ve never eaten as much or been so satisfied by every bite.
It was the making of fast friends. All who’d ventured there for assorted reasons and far away places drawn by the promise of thoughtful details and solidarity. It was an embodiment of the beauty we covert in carefully crafted scenes and stories. Brought to life by the energy and sheer determination of women forging creative lives for themselves. There was the pioneer of our gathering - Annabelle Hickson with ever a bright smile and warm word on her tongue, she gave life to making beautiful the otherwise ordinary and welcomed us like dear old friends. The life of our party Luisa Brimble with billowing laughter and heartfelt praise, our success was her success and she made sure to celebrate so. Our big love came from Lean Timms and her thoughtful counsel, she’s one of the loveliest persons I’ve ever encountered and returns good graces tenfold. The style maven Caitlin Melling, most kindly spoken and filled with elegance, she offered embrace and advice without requisite, freely encouraging our improvements with sweet optimism; and of course our wordsmith Megan Trousdale ever at the ready with advice and sincerity she would listen with intent and always afford an genuine reply. They were each endlessly humble, generous and wildly talent and I thank them for the privilege.
These pictures hardly do justice to the experience, but they’re my attempt. If you’re enthralled there are more tales and all the lovely captures of my fellow attendees in the cookbook. It details ten of Sarah’s recipes and you can find it here. Below I’ve written one of my favourites from it, for you.
Charred Pecan and Honey Syrup Cake
This recipe is by Sarah Glover, from our Daily Plenty cookbook
150g butter salted
150g honey (extra for drizzling)
200g pecans finely diced or blended (extra for garnish)
100g cassava flour
5g baking powder
A sliced pear for decoration
Nutmeg for dusting
Preheat your oven to 180º celsius or get your campfire coals ready. Lightly butter a cake tin and line the bottom and sides with baking paper.
Cream the butter, honey and marzipan till light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and then fold in the pecans, flour and baking powder. Pour into the prepared tin, top with more pecans and pear, brush with a little olive oil and drizzle on some honey and a hint of nutmeg.
Bake for 35 - 45 minutes until the top of the cake bounces back and is firm to touch. While the cake is baking make the honey syrup.
A vanilla bean, split
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Place the honey, water and vanilla bean in a small pot and bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 - 30 minutes. Cool the cake a little then serve with the honey syrup and fresh cream.
Tips & Tricks
Wait 10 - 15 minutes before you take the cake out of the tin. If you rush it, the cake will crack. Use any seasonal fruit available for decorating the top of the cake.
"I think of good eating as something to enrich our daily lives, be it a dish of slow-roast ribs with creamed cauliflower or a bowl of saffron-hued dal. Simple cooking that results in something unfussy, unshowy, understated. Something to bring pleasure to our own lives and to those of others"
Nigel Slater, The Kitchen Diaries III