This is a fund-raising initiative that goes right to our hearts (via our stomachs). For the month of August, Australians are being encouraged to bake in order to raise money for the Australian Red Cross. Sunday Life is joining Australian Red Cross Big Cake Bake ambassadors chefs Marion Grasby and Adrian Richardson, actor Kate Ritchie and newsreader Chris Bath in the bake off, and it's already becoming competitive. In our office, picture editor Tegan is a front runner with her show-stopping chocolate caramel slice.
August 27 is the official Big Cake Bake date – when hosts will be cooking and sharing delicious home-made cakes in workplaces, schools, social groups and at home – but you can bake and donate all month. Register at bigcakebake.org.au and you'll be sent a kit with information, donation box, posters and oven mitt. Every dollar raised will help the Red Cross give families around Australia vital support and skills. Here, three of the ambassadors share favourite recipes to get you inspired.
ADRIAN RICHARDSON'S CHERRY TART
"The perfect dessert for a picnic or a dinner party. The pastry may seem a little soft, but once it's baked, it's short and sweet – the way pastry should be."
400g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
juice of 1 lemon
600g plain flour
50g brown sugar
1.6kg pitted cherries (4 x 400g tins)
juice and zest of 1 lemon
100g icing sugar, sifted
For pastry, with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar, then stir with paddle until pale and creamy. Add 2 eggs, egg yolks, vanilla and lemon juice, 1 ingredient at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add flour and salt and mix until dough comes together and is consistent but still soft. Be careful not to overmix dough or pastry will be tough. Rest pastry for 1 hour, then roll out two-thirds of the pastry to 5mm thick.
Heavily grease a 28cm-diameter flan tin (3.5cm tall). Line with pastry and refrigerate for 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 170ºC. Line pastry with baking paper, fill with beans or rice and blind-bake for 20 minutes. Remove weights and paper, prick bottom of shell 2-3 times and bake for 8 minutes. Brush inside with a lightly beaten egg and return to oven for 2 minutes, then remove.
For filling, combine all ingredients, then strain excess liquid. Fill tart with filling.
Roll out remaining pastry to 5mm. Cut into 1cm strips with a crimper. Lay strips over tart in lattice pattern. Press down ends to seal. Brush with beaten egg; sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake tart for 20 minutes until golden. Allow to cool in tin for 5 minutes. Serve warm.
KATE RITCHIE'S BANANA & WALNUT MUFFINS
"This recipe was passed on to me by a very dear friend of mine, Carol, during my days in Summer Bay, and is one of many scribbled on the back of Home & Away scripts."
2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 firmly packed cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups milk
¾ cup oil
1 cup mashed overripe banana
½ cup chopped walnuts (or ¾ cup chopped white chocolate)
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup plain flour
40g butter, chopped
½ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a 12-hole muffin tin. Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. Stir in sugar, then combined eggs, milk and oil. Do not overmix; the batter should be lumpy. Add banana and walnuts (or white chocolate if you have opted for a more indulgent version!). Evenly spoon mixture into muffin tin and top with combined topping ingredients. Bake for 20 minutes or until muffins are brown and firm. Allow to stand for 2 minutes, then turn out and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!
MARION GRASBY'S GOLDEN SYRUP PUDDING
"Nothing is more comforting than a sweet, sticky pudding baking in the oven. My golden syrup pudding recipe is my go-to dessert when I have friends or family over for dinner."
1 cup golden syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1½ cups self-raising flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup milk
1 tbsp plain flour
1 cup boiling water
icing sugar, to serve
vanilla ice-cream, to serve
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 6-cup-capacity ovenproof dish. Place butter and ½ cup golden syrup in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring, until combined. Remove from heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
Combine ½ cup brown sugar and self-raising flour in a large bowl. Make a well in centre and pour in melted butter mixture, egg and milk, and stir until well combined. Spoon mixture into greased dish. Mix remaining brown sugar and plain flour. Sprinkle this mixture over top of pudding.
Combine boiling water and remaining golden syrup. Gently pour mixture over top of pudding and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Scoop warm pudding into bowls, dust with icing sugar and serve with ice-cream.
Photography: Armelle Habib. Styling and food preparation: Vicki Valsamis. Props and surfaces all from The Establishment Studios, theestablishmentstudios.com.au.