new starts

chocolate buttermilk layer cake donna hay: the new classics

In this family, we all have, shall we say, champagne tastes. This meant that over the past couple of years we’d been spending a mint on family birthday dinners at very nice restaurants. We all agreed that this year we’d try to start a new birthday tradition – the birthday-ee gets a home-cooked meal of their choosing (as complicated and difficult as they like) and we’d bust out the fancy crystal, china and silverware. And then we’ll have one VERY bang-up meal for everyone.

First birthday of the year was Joe/Frank who chose slow cooked lamb with parmesan and anchovy potatoes and the pictured cake.

There’s supposed to be a fair amount of pan juices with the lamb, but on past occasions these have evaporated pretty quickly in a traditional baking dish, even after repeated topping up with water, so I decided to bust out the amazing kitchenaid enameled cast iron casserole / dutch oven. The results were amazing, the lamb so tender, the potatoes brilliant. It was a really wonderful meal.

It was my first time making a layer cake and I probably should have researched how to cook flat layers because the tops of the two cakes ended up quite domed. But it all worked out with careful balancing and strategically placed icing. The cake was huge, incredibly rich and decadent and there was loads left over. It tasted even better in the following days after a stint in the fridge.

A big success and great way to kick things off I think!


I’d left the kitchenaid to soak overnight and when I was wiping it out found a quite large chip had come from the bottom and more was flaking away – noooooooooooooo!

The InformationSuperhighway suggested this might be because of the pan getting too hot too quickly. Oh, you mean like shoving the whole thing cold into a very, very hot oven? Honestly we’ve treated this thing with so much abuse over the years that it would never have occurred to me not to do this!

So the quest was on to find a replacement. This proved exceptionally difficult – the kitchaid was a giant 7.6 litres (8 quarts), no longer seemed to be available and everything else, like le crueset, staub &etc were well under 7 litres. We need something really big for the enormous batches of bolognaise and casseroles we make.

I was kind of keen on raw cast iron because I have had a tiny cast iron skillet for over 25 years and it is amazing. I had a bit of trouble finding something like that too and then finally stumbled on solidteknics – cast iron made in Australia with Australian materials. Crazy!

I remembered that Clarissifer had a giant stash of cast iron delivered to SML just before Xmas and so I asked the who and what – same brand I was considering (she was in on the kickstarter) and she loves it. Consider me sold.

And so it was that this giant box arrived:


Containing a smaller giant box:


Compares quite well in size to the very well used predecessor and has HEARTS in the handles:


And has the casting date on the bottom!


We’ve so far used it for gumbo and red beans and rice and it has been better than we could have hoped.

Because we anthropomorphise everything and we’re ridiculous, we’ve named him dwayne

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