Polite Society

From Ngaire’s journal, 9th September 1964
This evening we spent a very pleasant evening with Dr and Mrs. Frank A’Court at their home. Dr A’Court has lent his Plus 4 trousers to the Durham Street Church Drama Club for their Centenary Play.”

The last time I was on the stage was in 1976 in Warracknabeal High School’s production of Trial by Jury. I was in the chorus, or perhaps I was a juror –  I can’t remember. What I do remember is Mum taking me to the Dalmonte Hair Salon to have my hair put up in a sort of beehive, and that I wore lashings of light blue pot-o-gloss eye shadow. I was very pleased with the result, though it’s possibly not a look either Gilbert or Sullivan had envisaged.

But back to polite society, golfing pants and (cunning segue) Petites Fours. I spent a very pleasant afternoon puddling about in the kitchen, and have several lovely if imperfect Petites Fours to show for it. By several I mean three.  It took me a little while to master the art of drizzling the fondant icing on and by the time I’d sorted out the timing (the first 20 appear to be wearing green beanies) I was almost out of icing. They are very pretty little cakes, the three of them, but another time I might settle for a batch of Melting Moments.

For those of you not put off by my ineptitude, you’ll need to bake a square Madeira Cake first. Once it’s completely cooled, cut it into small squares and trim the edges. I put my cake in the freezer for 1/2 hour before cutting. It makes it easier to cut cleanly – crumbs are your enemy when icing’s involved.

I used Martha Stewart’s fondant icing recipe. The icing works well so long as you don’t let it cool down too much – it needs to be warm enough to run down the sides of the cakes when you drizzle it on, but not so warm that it becomes thin. I kept mine sitting in a saucepan of very hot water. There are loads of instructions and clips on the internet for making and icing Petites Fours, and I’m sure you’ve gathered that you’d be much better looking there than listening to any advice I might have. I do recommend Ngaire’s Madeira Cake though.

Madeira Cake

220 gms softened butter, 1 large cup of sugar, 4 beaten eggs, 1/2 cup lukewarm milk, 1 heaped tsp cream of tartar, 1 level tsp baking soda, 1 large cup flour.

Cream the butter and sugar. Dissolve baking soda in 1 tsp of boiling water then mix with warm milk. Add to butter and sugar. Add eggs then fold in flour and cream of tartar.
Bake in moderate oven approximately 45 minutes.

Also great for lamingtons and trifle.

4 thoughts on “Polite Society

  1. Far from it Kate! It reminds me of the year Mum decided to try out some fancy icing lace work on the Christmas cake. We gave her plenty of encouragement, as only teenagers can (‘you missed a bit Mum’, ‘is it supposed to look like that?’, ‘you’re going crooked’), leading her to throw the icing bag on the bench and say ‘bother the bally Christmas cake.’ Of course that’s the cake we all remember – the one iced on two sides. Mum, I salute your patience!


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