Wellington restauranteur, top chef and baker Julie Clark developed her love of cooking from her mother, starting early with some classics from the Edmonds Cookery Book. Years later, it is evident that her Wanganui-based mother Joycelene Clark is still a clear Edmonds fan. "I mean it's incredible, she just turned 90, is very visually impaired and given up cooking...but she won't let anyone touch her Edmonds cookbooks," she says with a big smile. Julie's passion is at the heart of Floriditas, a true Wellington institution serving up seasonal dishes in simple and delicious ways.
Julie's favourite Edmonds recipe
"I remember banana cake, coconut ice and chocolate log were family favourites, and I love to...add a little twist that just gives it an extra personal touch." Even the Neenish Tarts have been featured on the counter at Floriditas.
Julie's Baking Tips
- When baking cakes and muffins, a little extra liquid helps the final result - you don't want it dry. For example, when making Queen Cakes, you can 'plump them up' by adding the juice of an orange to the ½ cup sultanas and placing in the microwave for a minute - then leaving to cool - do not adjust the milk quantity in the recipe. Add ½ tsp finely grated zest if desired.
- When baking, the creaming of butter and sugar is very important - do not skimp on this stage - you want it light and creamy, and the best tip for checking whether you have it creamed enough is to just rub a little mix at the end of your fingers. If it feels grainy, the sugar has not dissolved so give it more time. This is the biggest fault in baking says Julie.
- Invest in a cake mixer - buy the best you can afford - it makes baking so easy.
- When making pavlova or meringue, always seperate the eggs when cold, and then beat at room temperature. Take care to beat whites to soft peak stage only, then gradually add the sugar. If the recipe calls for the addition of vinegar, always add it at the end.
- When making biscuits and pastry, resting the dough in the fridge before baking helps produce better results.
- If you know a junior cook just starting out, biscuits are a good recipe as they are east and help build confidence, and the results are fast!
- Afternoon tea is a great option for at-home entertaining for new cooks. A lot of prep can be done ahead of time and is less daunting than a dinner party. Make sure to have a balance of fresh flavours (eg citrus), spice (eg tarts, ginger loaf) and savoury (eg sausage rolls), with the emphasis on fresh, light, balanced and varied options. Of course the old classics like cucumber or egg sandwiches with the crusts off have a place here too!