Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cinnamon Oysters

I just discovered that these were a New Zealand invention! So what a great choice to make this week. When I was young and Mum was just getting into weird fashion design stuff she entered the Bluff Oyster Festival Oyster Sack Fashion Show - which is making a piece of clothing from and oyster sack (plastic sacking), which I later got into for a brief stint before uni aswell. We were lucky enough to obtain clean sacks from a fishing company after the first year that she entered, when a friend and I had the misfortune to get sack cleaning duty, outside on a cold day with the hose. In order to thank the kind fishermen for their help we would make plates of cinnamon oysters to take down to them. Now I am making them again to say thank you to the dockmaster here in Galway, who last year spread the word that I was looking for samples of goose-barnacles and thanks to his help I managed to get everything that I needed. I have neglected the thank you gesture for far too long but now I will finally do it. Partially to encourage him to keep on spreading the word about looking for strandings of my study animal, but also because it is of course the proper thing to do. I was debating whether to make these or marine biology cookies with my new cookie cutters (a starfish, a scallop and a jellyfish, from ebay!). These one out because when it comes right down to it they are awesome, while cookies are just cookies.

So what exactly are cinnamon oysters? When I first mention them I often get weird looks and noises of disgust, which makes sense now that I know they are a kiwi thing. They of course are not oysters. They are small cinnamon sponges, baked in patty tins or bun tins or even better, oyster tins. So any flat little cake tin, muffin tins will do but they are too deep so do not have the right shape. Oyster tins are rounded, they have no flat bottom. You make your little sponges and when they are cool you cut them in half and fill with a blob of whipped cream, so it looks like an oyster with it's shell half open. Only I am not a huge fan of cream and it doesn't keep very well, which is important when you intend to take your baking to work the next day or for a walk down to the docks. So I have used a nice creamy buttercream instead, though of coures you can still use cream if you like. It is best though if you add the cream just before serving, and this little dish is really perfect for morning or afternoon tea. In my mind's eye trading the cream for buttercream will make cinnamon oysters a little like ginger kisses. But you know, on second thought maybe ginger kisses are a down-under treat too? And maybe I should attempt to make them? They are really soft, cake-like cookies that are sandwhiched together with vanilla buttercream. They are so amazing! So I am essentially making a cinnamon version, but they will still be oysters because they are sponge, definately not cookie, not even soft cookie, they are one little cake sliced in half and the buttercream is piped in as a bit of a blob, not spread on. So there you go, cinnamon oysters!

Cinnamon Oysters
A Kiwi classic from the Edmonds Cookbook

2 eggs
75 grams caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
50 grams flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

First heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius and grease your oyster tins - or an alternative. I am using shallow bun tins and also muffin tins because I can't help but bake in bulk. Twelve just wouldn't be enough! Grease them well so that your oysters will pop out really easily. This recipe makes 12.

Beat the eggs and sugar until very thick. You will need an electric beater. Even better, a cake mixer because then your arm won't get sore! I beat the mixture for 5 minutes, maybe it needed to be more though, I'm not sure. The eggs will get thick and pale.

Add the golden syrup and beat again. Sift the dry ingredients over the mixture and fold them in gently. Put spoonfuls of the mixture into the tins. Pop the tins directly into the oven and bake for 12 minutes. After removing from the oven let the tins rest for about 5 minutes, then carefully turn the oysters out onto a tray. As soon as I put them in the oven they rose a lot, but then they sunk!

I don't know why, I will have to ask my Mum because they never used to sink. Maybe the oven was too hot, or the mixture not beaten enough, or the mixture mixed too much after the flour was added, or maybe they should just have baking powder as well as baking soda? I will have to try this again. Maybe it was just my bad luck - first time I ever made a sponge it sunk but the next time it was fine. So I don't know why they sunk and I hope that nobody else's sink but if they do that is OK, once they have cream inside nobody will notice.

Let them cool, they should be fully cold, and then carefully slice in half. Fill with cream or buttercream and dust the tops with icing sugar if you like (we always used to do this at home but it is not technically in the recipe).

Vanilla Buttercream

So this little recipe makes a very good buttercream frosting and is by far enough for a dozen cupcakes or to fill and ice a normal size cake.

100 grams butter
250 grams/1 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Up to 6 tablespoons (90 mL) milk

Using your electric beater, or mixing really really well by hand, cream the butter with the icing sugar (you need to sift the icing sugar of course). Add the vanilla essence and a bit of milk, continue beating. Add less milk if you want a stiffer frosting.

1 comment:

  1. a very cute idea... i need to start saving my cat food cans!


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