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Friday, October 8, 2010
I don't normally travel down under for work but last week, a rare issue came up and I had to make my first ever trip to Sydney. It was a 2 day work trip but I took the opportunity to stay on for 2 more days on my own. As for most trips I make nowadays, I have ceased to be ambitious and stopped bothering with pre-trip research. There was only one thing I knew I wanted to do and that was visiting the Donna Hay general store. I had first read about it at Not Quite Nigella's blog and had been quite fascinated by it ever since... and who wouldn't? Having been captivated month after month by the bright and breezy pages of the Donna Hay magazines,I knew I simply couldn't miss the one and only Donna Hay General Store on this planet.
Nestled in a trendy residential district, it is definitely outside the main tourist belt. I took more than an hour getting there from City Center by train,bus and alot of walking. However, I really didn't mind, I loved wondering in the suburbs,feeling the local pulse. Situated away even from the main commercial section of the suburb, this was an unlikely location for a store which in my opinion,makes this boutique store even more charming.
I was able to recognise styling props used in Donna Hay's beautiful photos among the merchandises. It wasn't a big store and the price tag was not exactly pocket-friendly but still that didn't stop me for lingering there for over an hour and leaving with a bunch of merchandises. The biggest draw has to be the chic and colourful cupcake/muffin liners. Unique in design, these are more expensive than your usual liners but not unreasonably exorbitant.
Then there were the ceramics and cake stands that came with clean lines and neutral pastel colours that are so Donna Hay.
To celebrate my purchase at Donna Hay, I decided to make the Donna Hay Double Chocolate Cake which I had first seen at Evan's blog. I had dreamt of creating the photos with the same fresh and luminous aura that is the signature of Donna Hay's magazines but shooting the cupcakes at night was tricky and I would have to admit that I haven't done justice to Donna Hay's beautiful cupcake liners.
The cake is absolutely delicious - fiercely chocolatey without being overly rich. It went really well with the fluffy Swiss Meringue Butter cream frosting- This is definitely a cake that does not require fancy liners to shine, I hope you get to try it too.
125g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1.5 tsp double acting baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
150g dark chocolate, melted
227 g unsalted butter, slightly softened
3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. In a bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together
2. In a mixing bowl, beat butter with sugar until pale and creamy.
3. Add egg one at a time and continue to mix until homogenous.
4. Add Vanilla extract.
5. Add flour and . Alternate with milk addition. Drizzle in melted chocolate and mix well.
6. Scoop into paper liners and bake in a 160C pre-heated oven and bake for 20mins.
7. Cool down cupcakes completely and frost the cupcake using butter cream below.
Swiss Meringue Butter Cream:
1. Place egg white and sugar in a mixing bowl. Place this over a simmering water bath and whisk with a hand whisk until sugar dissolves.
2. Transfer egg white into a mixing bowl and whisk with a bubble whisk , until peaks are firm but fluffy.
Add butter, one spoonful at a time. Change over to a paddle fixture and contiue to beat the butter cream to remove bubbles. At this point, you can add your flavourings or colours. For this, I added a few drops of pink colouring.