Saturday, 13 April 2013

Sydney Royal Easter Show & Coca-Cola Cake


It worked! After 3+ years of begging, the girls finally wore me down. We made it to the Show at last. The Sydney Royal Easter Show, also known as the Royal Easter Show or simply The Show, is an annual event held in Sydney over two weeks around Easter. It is run by the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales and has been around since 1823. The Show has agricultural shows, an amusement park, a fair, events judging livestock, produce, arts, crafts, photography, cooking. There is shopping, restaurants, commercial stands, exhibits, a horticultural display, dog shows and cat shows. The Show attracts 1 million people per year and contributes $500 million to the NSW state economy. (source: Wikipedia). I have grew up going to the Dutchess County Fair in New York. Because Australia has a much smaller population than the US, I expected the Show to be similar to the Fair. I was very wrong - this Show was on steroids! The amount of rides, food, people, animal displays, competitions, etc. was overwhelming, a sensory overload, a real extravaganza!

I had been warned by other parents about the Royal Easter Show - 'it's crowded, it's expensive, it's exhausting.' However, no one told me how much fun it would be. Many people don't know how much I like animals, watching competitions and watching people in general. In fact the my highlight of any big event or crowded place is people watching. With the long lines for rides and the fact that I can't ride rides anymore without becoming sick and dizzy (think Phil on 'Modern Family' at Disney Land), gave me a lot of time to people watch. My ADD stream-of-consciousness at an event like this usually goes along the lines of - "Wow, check out the tatoos on that guys! There must be 6 female names - hmmm, wives or kids?...why are the Australian girls so tall and slim?! No fair....Nice rat tail - oh and wait, there's a mullet - bonus.....check out her haircut - cute....what did he say? that's a new slang word for me....what is she doing with him? wake up, girlfriend.....5 kids? God bless you....cute that my neighbour?" These events are both enjoyable and exhausting for me.

Go boys! Chop, chop chop! 

nice matching
what conditioner do you use, dear?
You the man!
Showbag madness....most crowded hall at the Show

Me at the end of the day
We managed to see some of the competitive events at the Show. While looking for a restroom, I came across the Competitive Woodchop which even had its own pavilion. While this event is new to me, it has been at the show since 1899. Yes, there are teams from around the world that compete at axe throwing, power sawing, tree topping, speed climbing, log rolling and chopper setting. It is all about wood and bizarre to see. Who knew? Watch out, curling! We also watched some of the dog show. As a dog owner and big fan of the movie, "Best in Show" I enjoying seeing the different types of dogs, viewing unique breeds and comparing how many of the owners and dogs look similar.

My girls were keen to get their show bags. Show bags started out as a way for companies to introduce new products and give out free samples. Over the years, it has become a candy mecca for kids. Various confectionery brands put bags together full of sweets and candy, ranging in price from $5-$20. This hall was by far the busiest when we entered; a claustrophobic nightmare. The girls were smart, efficient shoppers and both selected the same show bag as it had a lot of candy for the price. I even picked up a nice housewife tote bag full of a handful of magazines, cleaning samples, soaps, tea and much more.

In line with the Show, I thought my Coca-Cola Sheet Cake would be a great recipe for this blog. I have altered the original recipe from the Coca-Cola Company  to my liking, essentially adding more cocoa, less sugar and the choice of adding or omitting marshmallows. My frosting is more of a glaze and significantly different from the original. While marshmallows sound like a strange item to add to a cake, they melt in and make the cake very moist. The cake tastes wonderful with or without the frosting. Because it is a large sheet cake, it'll last the week (maybe) at home and can easily be served at a group event or BBQ.

Coca-Cola Sheet Cake
adapted from the Coca-Cola Company original recipe
Cola cake

2 cups sugar - *see notes*
2 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups *white* mini marshmallows - *see notes*
1/2 cup/115 grams, butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cocoa
1 cup Coca-Cola®
1 teaspoon/5 ml baking soda or bicarbonate soda
1/2 cup buttermilk - *see notes*
2 eggs
1 teaspoon/5 ml vanilla extract

1/4 cup/55 grams, butter
1/4 cup cocoa
6 tablespoons/100 ml, Coca-Cola
2.5 cups icing/powdered sugar
1 teaspoon/5ml vanilla extract
1 cup/4 oz chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F/175C degrees.
1.In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients - sugar and flour and marshmallows.

2.In a saucepan, mix the butter, oil, cocoa and Coca-Cola. Bring to a boil and pour over dry ingredients, blend well. If using marshmallows, mix until marshmallows are almost completely melted.

3.Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk just before adding to batter along with eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well.

4.Pour into a well-greased 9- by-13-inch pan and bake 35 to 45 minutes.

5.To make frosting, combine butter, cocoa and Coca-Cola in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add confectioners' sugar and vanilla and stir until smooth.


6. Spread over hot cake and sprinkle chopped nuts if using (I love pecans or walnuts). Let frosting set and cool for 1 hr. Cut into squares and serve.

- I have alternated between US and metric measurements as most cooking stores in OZ sell measuring cups and I mainly see cup measurements used in recipes here.

- If you use marshmallows, reduce the sugar to 1 cup.

- If baking cake with marshmallows - Aussies readers - DO NOT USE PASCALL, IGA or WOOLWORTH's marshmallows. They are very sweet and very artificial; they will affect the taste of the cake. Use the more natural ones from Harris Farms, the Green grocer here locally, even Coles generic best buy ones. Use white marshmallows only as the pink ones will add an artificial taste to cake.

- There is no need to buy buttermilk. You can make it by using either adding 1 teaspoon white vinegar OR 1 teaspoon lemon juice to 1 cup of milk. 

 - If you make frosting, do not make it ahead of time as you need to pour it over the cake shortly after baking


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