I bet without even mentioning anything, my Mum could guess which of the things I baked as a teenager would be the “favourite”.
But in case Mum needs a hint. It’s a slice.
A slice is my thing. Cookies are Mr Fussy’s. And all the other things, muffins, cupcakes, loaves and cakes, well they’re all nice too, but if you asked what my favourite type of baked item was, it’s a slice.
And we all know (if you’ve been reading along) caramel is my favourite. And this slice has caramel in it.
Before I get ahead of myself too much I will explain we were in Akaroa this weekend. I was slightly nervous about the non-baking weekend. It never stopped me reading blogs or looking at Pinterest, but I knew it was unlikely I would get the time to bake.
Akaroa is 75km from Christchurch. It’s a French settlement. It’s a tourist spot now and it’s a windy hilly hour’s drive. Mr Fussy loves it. He loves the opportunity to really drive. And it was the first trip to Akaroa in our new car. And Mr Fussy had a ball. We took Yvonne, my Matron of Honour, she didn’t have such a great time in the back of the car as Mark continued to drive around all those corners, changing gears multiple times, braking for corners, then powering out of them. We had to make an impromptu stop, but there was not “decorating the car” as Yvonne
threatened put it.
We had hired a holiday home for the weekend. The trip is always worth it. And it was great to see the famous Fish & Chip shop having recently opened. We were last at Akaroa in March last year for our 10th wedding anniversary, and the week following the Fish & Chip shop caught fire and burnt to the ground.
Because of the earthquakes in Christchurch the big cruise ships can’t dock at Lyttelton Port. So they come to Akaroa. Akaroa has benefited, but not been protected from the damage of the earthquakes. Many of their buildings have structural damage and are awaiting repairs, or more likely awaiting the outcome of an insurance assessment. But Akaroa seems to be thriving, despite another the very recent fire, this time destroying the bakery.
This weekend there was a Dragon Boating competition, so the little settlement was heaving with activity.
We made our way back home with more time than I had expected. So I was able to catch up on the weekends usual chores and just have enough time to bake ONE thing.
I don’t know where this recipe came from. From Mum’s family I would guess. It’s called Skites. I don’t know why.
This slice (a bar if if you’re from America or Canada) is unashamedly simple. It comes from a time when there weren’t baking chocolate, or chocolate of varying percentages of cocoa. From a time when icing was just icing. Nothing more than butter, icing sugar and water. Or if you wanted chocolate you added a bit of cocoa powder. Just simple ingredients, nothing fussy, but flavours that I still remember and think back on with very fond memories.
I could have changed this recipe to make it more “now”. Glorified it a little with real chocolate “frosting” and a more “real” caramel filling. But I didn’t do those things. I wanted the same flavours as I remember from my childhood.
I scrambled up to the cupboard where all my old recipes are and hoped that I had actually kept this one. I found it. Typed out on a real typewriter. I remember typing up several of Mum’s recipes when I left home. And there is was, on the same piece of paper as Pavlova and Boysenberry Delight.
It was typed in imperial measurements, and I’d missed a vital ingredient out. Which I realised as soon as I had the filling in the pot and it was all melted together. I knew it was missing the brown sugar. It didn’t look or smell the same. So I added what I expected to be the logical amount and it turned out like I remembered.
- 125gm butter at room temperature
- 85gm sugar
- 1 egg
- 143gm flour
- 1 Tbs Cocoa (I used Dutch processed, which of course wasn’t around, but the only Cocoa I had in the pantry)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tin Condensed Milk
- 75gm butter
- 1 Tbs golden syrup
- 70gm brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups Icing Sugar
- 2 Tbs butter
- 1.5 Tbs cocoa
- 2 Tbs water
Heat oven to 180deg Celsius.
- Line a Sandwich tin with baking paper.
- Cream the butter and sugar.
- Add the egg and incorporate (see photo, it wont fully mix in).
- Add sifted dry ingredients and mix until incorporated.
- Spread into a Sandwich tin.
- Bake 15 minutes.
- Put all the ingredients into a pot and heat on medium-low until melted and thickened slightly.
- Pour over the warm base and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
- Sift icing sugar and cocoa.
- Mix in the butter and water until all the ingredients come together.
- Spread icing over the cooled base and filling.
There’s not a lot of base and you might think it’s not enough for a sandwich tin but it is. I spooned little bits and then used damp fingers to press it in until it was mostly spread out. I then used an offset spatula to smooth and spread it evenly in the tin.
A Sandwich tin is 20cm X 30cm (8” X 12”), and yes, it’s a metal tin.
The original instructions had the base baking for 20 minutes and the filling poured over when it was hot. I chose to bake the base for 15 minutes then put the filling on and return to the over for a further 5 minutes (20 minutes all up). This cooked the caramel a little more. I remembered that some times the caramel was still a little sloppy and would ooze out a bit. But watch you don’t end up cooking the caramel until it burns.
I put the icing on a little too soon and it almost melted a little on the top. Because the light was disappearing too fast I had to work faster than I wanted to get a slice and take photos. The icing hadn’t set properly.
The base isn’t crunch or hard or dense, it’s almost cake-y.
Feel free to “tart” up the recipe replacing the very humble chocolate icing for an icing made of chocolate.
In actual fact my recipe just said “When filling set ice with chocolate icing”. That’s how it was when I was a kid. Everyone knew how to make icing. You didn’t need to weigh or measure anything. You just knew
See how the caramel filling wanted to bubble up and cook a little too much. Just watch for that. Though it’s handy for seeing where the oven cooks fastest.
Mr Fussy has never had Skites. He was happy to scrape the pot out of the remaining caramel filling. But I’ve never made Skites since we’ve been married. He seemed happy enough with it. But I don’t think it holds a special place in his heart like it does mine. It tasted how I remember it.
Hopefully the icing is fully set because it’s time to finish cutting it up and putting it away. I suspect there might be one piece less to put away when I get going. It’s an occupational hazard