It started snowing a week ago. Our ears prick up when there is talk on the radio about snow down to 600 metres elevation. That's Nundle. Snow at nearby Hanging Rock is not unusual. At 1200m there are snow falls at Hanging Rock several times a year. But snow like we've had the past week - 10cm deep, widespread, on the ground for consecutive days, and visible on the hill tops from our house - is rare.
The snow on the hills and rain in the valley make for freezing temperatures, below zero every night this week. It feels like the cold has leeched into the ground and is refrigerating the soil. As we make breakfast and look out the kitchen window Duncan and I notice there is snow on the hill across the road...and it is actually snowing at our house. The distinctive white flakes gently drift to the ground, bringing with them a quiet stillness, but it is not cold enough for them to linger and they quickly turn to water.
While Duncan goes to work at the shop I plan to stay home and work on our new website. A position by the fireplace will suit me well today. But even a wood fire at my back is not enough to warm my bones. It's time to crank up the oven and bake.
I feel like making Matthew Evans' Carrot Cupcakes, saved from The Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend, June 16, 2001. Matthew's writing is very funny as he jokes about stealing cupcakes and dipping his fingers in the cream cheese icing. I enjoy the prospect of the boys coming home from school, cold, and the house smelling good, with good things to eat for afternoon tea.
They arrive with big news. "Mum, Mum, there's snow on the hills behind the house." We rush to the back of the house and open up the curtains and sure enough there is a scene from the Swiss alps. And I have news for them, "Would you like cake for afternoon tea?". They disappear into the kitchen and return with a Carrot Cupcake for a snowy day.
Ingredients: 4 eggs, 220g castor sugar, 300g (about two medium) coarsely grated carrot, 250ml vegetable oil, 120g walnuts, or other unsalted nuts, chopped, 250g plain flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp bicarb soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, ground.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celcius. Beat the eggs with the sugar until pale and light. Add the carrot, oil and walnuts and stir to combine. Sift together the remaining ingredients and stir into the egg mixture, making sure there are no flour lumps. Spoon into about 20 patty papers (I like to use the self supporting patty papers) and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool and ice.
Cream Cheese Icing
Ingredients: 500g spreadable cream cheese, 50g butter, softened, 200g icing sugar, few drops real vanilla extract.
Beat the cream cheese with the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and smooth. Add lemon zest or juice if you like the tang. Spread over cakes and scatter with crushed nuts, lemon zest and cinnamon.