International Women's Day and Apricot Custard Cake

9 March 2020
There was no better place to spend International Women's Day (IWD) than at my local CWA cottage. Yesterday, I went along to give a talk and spend time with about 30 other women. It felt good to speak about the life we live here and to acknowledge IWD with local women. Everything I've done publicly since I set up my blog in 2007, including three books published by Penguin, being a monthly columnist for the Australian Women's Weekly and Burke's Backyard, and being on ABC radio on and off for many years, I did at home. Right here in my sewing room, I spoke live on air and I tapped out words that seemed to take on a life of their own and ended up landing all over the world. Home is not only a place to live and grow, it can also be the base from which we launch ourselves and our ideas. We really can do amazing things when we have a passion and put in the hard work to achieve our goals.  


I set off to the CWA cottage with my newly cut hair.

I've been celebrating IWD since the early 1980s when I lived in a mining town up north. Twice I "marched" up the main street with a friend to the town pub, had a gin and tonic, loudly toasted all women, then marched home again. There were only men in the pub and I don't think the men approved, or maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt and say they didn't understand what we were doing.  To be truthful, in those days, most women didn't know about IWD either. It's only become a world-wide celebration in recent years but each year it's been bigger, stronger and louder. I hope it remains a day of celebration and political action and doesn't dissolve into a day when we all sit around praising our mothers and best friends. If that happens it will lose the potential to improve women's lives and highlight the changes needed now and in future years.

A couple of ladies asked for the recipe of this cake I made last week using only pantry staples and backyard eggs. I think it's a good recipe to show how versatile your stockpile cupboard or pantry can be when many of us are trying to avoid the supermarket.


  Apricot custard cake  

Cake
125g softened butter
165g sugar
2 eggs
225g self-raising flour
60g almond meal
2 tablespoon custard powder
125ml milk

Top of cake when baked
410g can apricots - drain off all the juice
½ cup apricot jam, warmed

Custard
2 tablespoon custard powder
2 tablespoon sugar
250ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
20g butter

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease deep 22cm/8 or 9 inch round cake pan and line the base.



Make the custard - this is a thick custard
Combine custard powder and sugar in a small saucepan and using a whisk, gradually stir in the milk. Stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat, add vanilla and butter and stir until the butter melts. Cover the surface of custard completely with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming; cool to room temperature while you continue with the rest of the cake. Don't put the custard in the fridge as it will set and you'll have problems adding it to the cake batter.


Make the cake
Beat the butter and sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy; add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each egg. Using a spatula, stir in the flour, almond meal, custard powder and milk.

Spread half the batter into your cake pan then carefully add all the custard on top of the batter.  Use a large spoon to do this so you have dollops of custard sitting on the cake batter. Don't spread it out and don't mix it in with the batter.

Spread the remaining cake batter over the custard and top with the apricots.

Bake the cake at 180C/350F for about 1 hour.  Check the cake after 30 minutes and if it's already golden brown on top, cover the cake with foil to stop it burning.

Let the cake stand for 5 minutes then turn onto wire rack; turn top-side up, brush the top with warm jam. 

Then, put the kettle on.

I hope you have a great week.  Take care of yourself. xx





26 comments

  1. Yum Rhonda
    I was going to ask for the recipe after reading your last blog. Lovely cool day with soft rainfall here in Brisbane just lovely.

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  2. Thanks for sharing this recipe Rhonda, I'll have a go next week as soon as the weather is cool enough to light up the wood oven again. I would have loved to be in your local CWA group to hear you speaking about your "Down to Earth" life. Three years ago I was invited to speak at our local CWA evening group about the way we live, simple sustainable living, etc. It was such a lovely experience, the women were surprisingly different to what I was expecting, so I joined the group and became a CWA woman myself. I've met some wonderful young women doing fabulous things, and we share a love for helping people and fundraising for worthy causes. We even have a glass of wine at our night meetings and plenty of laughs too. Your new hair length looks great. XX

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  3. It was great to meet you at the IWD event and hear your presentation Rhonda. Thank you for this recipe too!

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    1. It was lovely meeting you too, Roz. I'm sure you saw yourself in the photo. xx

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  4. I read your last post and was hoping you'd share this recipe :) Thank you, it sounds delicious and it's great when a recipe contains simple, but delicious ingredients that most well stocked pantries would have on hand.

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  5. Yum. This recipe looks delicious and is something I will be making possibly tomorrow. Tomorrow is Bluey's 70th Birthday and this will make a good Birthday cake for him.

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    1. Happy birthday, Bluey. I hope you enjoy the cake.

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  6. I have to try this recipe. I am happy to read about your celebrations of Women's Day. Love the mining town story.

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  7. Thank you for sharing about the IWD and speaking to the ladies. Wish that I could have been there too! Loved your story about the mining town escapade.... I also like your hair cut. This year I am wearing my short after a few years of a longer style. Blessings to you and your family. Carolyn in Florida

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  8. Yum. Another one for my archives! Your hair cut is gorgeous.

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  9. Thanks for the recipe Rhonda. My Mum used to make a similar cake without the fruit, it was a beautiful cake and adding that fruit would be even better. Your hair cut looks lovely and suits you well. I recently had about 4 inches chopped off mine and am trying to train it back to it's natural curl, which I have been straightening out for the last 14 years. Cheers to all of the wonderful women in our lives and in history, and of course to all of the CWA ladies who do such a wonderful job helping so many. Hugs for Gracie <3 Take care x Kate (Tassie)

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  10. I am writing this down. It sounds SO delicious. Thank you for sharing; it's nice to have good recipes we can make out of what's already stocked up and on hand.

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  11. Thanks for sharing the recipe Rhonda. I do love to read about what you are up to and it's very inspiring for me.

    Rhondamargarita

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  12. That sounds delicious. I plan to go to the store and add to my stockpile tomorrow. You have been so successful with your writing. What a gift it has been for all of us. I love seeing your talent all over your home through your blog and photos.

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  13. This looks like a delicious dessert cake as well Rhonda, thanks for the recipe. I always celebrated IWD when I was working, but not as much now. However being involved through the CWA sounds like a great idea. Nice haircut:) Cheers, Pauline x

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  14. Oh my, that cake looks delicious! Thank you so much for sharing Rhonda :)

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  15. Thanks for the recipe, I have never made a cake like that before! I love to see that you still have that fire in your eyes :)

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  16. That cake sounds amazing. I've never heard of custard powder, I'll have to see if I can find it in the US. I'm sure it can be ordered online if I can't find it locally. Thanks so much for the recipe and inspiration.

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    1. Angi, if you don't have custard powder, just make a thick traditional custard with eggs. There are many recipes for that online. You'll have to omit the custard powder in the cake batter too.

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    2. Most grocery shops carry a product called Bird's Custard. That is what you want to get; I live in California and my mother was English; we got it all the time (we eat a lot of custard) and I still buy it. Call around your local shops; I would bet someone has it.

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  17. Congratulations to all of you/us on IWD! Thank you for the recipe too! I'm not sure if we have custard powder in the U.S. but maybe Amazon and if not I noted your advice above. I have both of your books and I have been reading your posts from when you started your blog. It's going to take me awhile....I'm still in 2007! :) You are a prolific writer and we are so lucky for that! I am the only one around my area that feels this way and we are not allowed to have chickens here can you imagine? We have no sidewalks and no streetlights but the rule states "no livestock". I tried explaining that there are apartment dwellers that are allowed to have chickens in big cities! Oh well, I am 71 and these people are younger but much stodgier! LOL! You keep me going although I could use a Hanno too. I do the yard work and I have baked bread for years etc. I do most of what you do except although I am physically strong I tire lots quicker than I used to. But I am blessed to be able to do what I do as many my age are not as fortunate. I have to garden in containers as people around me use chemicals and we have lots of voles that dig under the beds and chew the roots of plants. Blessings to you and Hanno and the lifestyle you have created that has inspired so many.

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    1. That no livestock rule is crazy. They should be encourageing everyone to get closer to nature, not remove themseelves from it. I get tired too and regularly have a nap after lunch (our main meal) Hanno naps too, so does Gracie.

      When I took out our large vegetable beds, I grew vegetables in containers and they went quite well. I think the thing with containers is finding the right spot for them. Luckily, you can move them around. Enjoy your reading and keep going. xx

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  18. Rhonda, I would so love to see a piece of that cake fly in the window right now. I did check and you can get custard powder online. I know part of the beauty of this recipe is using mainly pantry items, but do you ever make it with fresh or frozen fruit, or would that add too much moisture? Rhubarb season is around the corner here and that is why I'm asking. I hope Hanno is feeling better. Beth in MN

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    1. Hello Beth. If I use fresh fruit, I cook it beforehand, then sit it in a sieve to allow the juice to run off. Hanno is better now, thank you. xx

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    2. Thanks Rhonda! Gracie's victory lap made my day!

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  19. Yum, that cake looks amazing. I'll definitely be writing the recipe down. Your hair also looks lovely. Glad the speech went well. x

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