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Here we've scorched apricots on the grill and served them with torn jamon, shaved Manchego and peppery rocket leaves. Think of it as a twist on the good old melon-prosciutto routine. The mixture would also be great served on charred sourdough.

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Prepare to enter a picture of the countryside framed by note-perfect Australiana but painted in bold, elegant and unsentimental strokes. Over 10 or more courses, Dan Hunter celebrates his region with dishes that are formally daring (Crunchy prawn heads! Creamy oyster soft-serve! Sea urchin and chicory bread pudding!), yet rich in flavour and substance. The menu could benefit from an edit, but the plates are tightly composed - and what could you cut? Certainly not the limpid broth bathing fronds of abalone and calamari, nor the clever arrangement of lobster played off against charred waxy fingerlings under a swatch of milk skin. The adventure is significantly the richer for the cool gloss of the dining room, some of the most engaging service in the nation and wine pairings that roam with an easy-going confidence. Maturing and relaxing without surrendering a drop of its ambition, Brae is more compelling than ever.

Middle Eastern fruit cakes with orange-blossom meringue


You'll need

325 gm softened butter 280 gm brown sugar 4 eggs Finely grated rind of 2 oranges Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean 335 gm (2¼ cups) plain flour ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda 2 tsp ground ginger 1 tsp ground cinnamon ¼ tsp ground cloves 1.8 kg light fruit mixture 6 ripe apricots, coarsely chopped 100 ml golden rum, plus extra (see note) To serve: thinly shaved cedro (see note), glacé clementines cut into wedges and slivered pistachios   Orange-blossom meringue 200 gm caster sugar eggwhites 200 gm softened butter, coarsely chopped 2 tsp orange-blossom water, or to taste

Method

  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 150C. Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy (10-12 minutes), add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl, then add orange rind and vanilla seeds and beat to combine. Sieve in dry ingredients and ½ tsp sea salt, beat to just combine, then transfer to a large bowl and stir in light fruit mixture and apricots to combine. Divide among six 9cm-square cake tins, buttered and lined with baking paper, filling to 1cm below rim (there may be a little mixture left over). Cover tops tightly with a double layer of baking paper and tie with kitchen string, then cover with foil and bake until an inserted skewer withdraws clean (1-1½ hours). Stand in tins for 10 minutes then turn out and drizzle with rum. When completely cool, cakes can be wrapped in foil and stored in an airtight container for up to 3 months (see note).
  • 02
  • For orange-blossom meringue, stir sugar and 180ml water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, bring to the boil and cook until syrup reaches 116C on a sugar thermometer (8-10 minutes). Meanwhile, whisk eggwhite and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer until soft peaks form (2-3 minutes), then, whisking continuously, gradually add sugar syrup and whisk on high speed until bowl is just warm to touch. Gradually add butter, whisking to combine before adding more, then beat until well combined (4-5 minutes; if mixture curdles, keep whisking until mixture comes back together). Add orange-blossom water and whisk to combine. Spoon meringue over tops of cakes and stand until set. Serve topped with cedro, clementine and pistachios.

Note Cedro is the fruit of the citron tree. Glacé cedro is available from select delicatessens, Simon Johnson and David Jones food halls. If it's unavailable, substitute candied orange peel or candied lemon peel. If you plan to make the cakes well in advance, you'll need to "feed" them with rum to keep them moist. Once a week, unwrap cakes and drizzle each with a tablespoon of rum, then re-wrap. Ice them just before serving.


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Featured in

Dec 2012

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