Paul Hansen’s Orange Cake

One of the many great stories in Liz Harfull’s The Blue Ribbon Cookbook comes from Paul Hansen, and his delicious orange cake:

You would be hard-pushed to describe Paul Hansen as a typical show cook. Born and bred at historic Kulcurna Station near Lake Victoria, Paul counts taxidermy, song writing and photography among his many skills. He also makes a mean orange cake. Although he has been known to whip up a six-course dinner party for 80 people to raise money for the local gun club, his training for the task was far from conventional. ‘I work away a lot in mustering camps and I am normally head cook and bottle washer for eight to ten people, but there is not a lot of cake cooking,’ he says.

Paul Hansen with his orange cake

Like many country show towns, Renmark has introduced a men’s only cake competition in recent years to generate fresh interest in cookery. The contest is fierce in this Riverland version, which celebrates local produce by insisting the blokes make an orange cake using a recipe provided. Paul won first prize in 2007 with a cake decorated by torchlight on the bonnet of his ute; he had to do it at the last minute after being held up organising entries for the wool section, which he convenes. ‘I don’t take it too seriously. I just came in after work one evening, threw everything into a bowl, mixed it up, put it in the oven and off we went,’ he says. ‘I just did what they said I had to do in the show book.’

Paul has also been known to enter taxidermy in the craft section. He studied the relatively lost art by correspondence about eighteen years ago, and has sometimes been asked by wildlife services to help preserve animals and birds for display. ‘I don’t know what got me into it,’ he confesses. ‘But I don’t do heads on walls. I am more interested in preservation.’

Through his volunteering and competing at the show, Paul is following a long-standing family tradition. His great grandfather exhibited at the very first Renmark Show, and the society is due to hold its 100th event in 2010. It comes at a time when the show society is gaining a new lease of life, winning a Community Event of the Year award and drawing more patrons. Among the most popular attractions are the vintage tractor and stationery engine displays, a ute muster, native animal displays, and a giant sandpit for the children.

Orange Cake from Liz Harfull's Blue Ribbon Cookbook blue_ribbon_cookbook_image_p143b blue_ribbon_cookbook_image_p143c

Paul Hansen’s Orange Cake

85 g butter (or margarine), softened
3 eggs (50 g each)
114 cups SR flour, sifted
12 cup castor sugar
90 ml orange juice
grated rind of one navel orange

Preheat the oven to moderate (180 ºC in a conventional electric oven).

Grease a 20 cm round cake pan, and line the base.

Put the butter, eggs, flour, sugar, orange juice and rind in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch.

Blessing the Fleet from Liz Harfull’s Almost an Island

Almost an Island: The story of Robe

Liz Harfull’s Almost an Island is full of fascinating information about Robe on the Limestone Coast. One of the great traditions of the area is the blessing of the fleet, which happens every spring. Liz explains:

Blessing the Fleet

Every spring, at the start of the rock lobster fishing season, people gather at the Robe marina for an important ceremony. The Blessing of the Fleet brings peace of mind to the fishers and their families who are involved in what remains a risky way to earn a living.

According to celebrant Jan Bermingham, the tradition started sometime in the 1950s under the influence of immigrants arriving in Australia from Italy and Greece. Blessing the fleet is a strong tradition in Mediterranean countries where it is held every season to ensure a safe and bountiful fishing season. When the custom was introduced in Adelaide, an Anglican priest serving on the Limestone Coast thought it worth doing at Robe too.

Fishers have a reputation for being superstitious and the ceremony has real meaning for the community. At one stage it was moved to the end of November, weeks after the season started, so it could be part of a village fair designed to draw tourists to the town. ‘The local fishermen had the Church of England priest down here on the morning the season opened to bless them as they went out to sea. They were not going to wait a whole month,’ says Jan.

‘Even though a lot of fisherman don’t grace the doors of a church they are very, very conscious of their God.’

The ceremony involves a brief service, which seeks God’s blessing and commemorates the lives of fishers lost at sea. Teenagers then dive into the harbour to retrieve a wooden cross.

As the daughter, sister and aunt of professional fishermen, Jan knows the worry many families experience. ‘When we lose a boat everybody feels it,’ she says.

‘They don’t like to show emotion but they are so bonded together, and they know it could have been one of them.’

Blessing the fleet, from Almost and Island

Decorated fishing boats gather for an early Blessing of the Fleet ceremony, c. 1950s. (Courtesy Met Riseley)

On the silver screen …

SA Tourism have been producing some great ads recently.

There has been a bit of disagreement over the most recent Adelaide ad (see on InDaily here). Amber Petty wasn’t much of a fan. But I think it’s killer, and it is nice to be reminded just how darn beautiful and alive this old state of ours is.

But it’s not all about the big production ads. Through the SA Tourism Through Local Eyes project, a whole bunch of wildly talented South Aussies have been making short films to show their view of the state.

It’s through this project that the most recent Limestone Coast ad has been made – and of course, if we’re going to talk beautiful areas of SA, we’re going to talk Limestone Coast.

The thing that has got all us Wakefieldians so excited, however, takes place at 1:42 exactly:


To see more of the innovative advertising SA Tourism have got going on (and you really should – they’ve got some beauties), have a look here.

New books, and three sleeps til the fair!

Almost an IslandThings are ripping along over here at Wakefield Press HQ. We all know that the lead up to Christmas is the busiest time of the year, but this year we decided to challenge ourselves by bringing out a bunch of new books at the same time. Johnny in the warehouse is getting a workout!

First things first: you’ve all had a peek at Janis Sheldrick’s superb Nature’s Line: George Goyder, Surveyor, Environmentalist, Visionary by now, and bought a few copies for Christmas presents (not yet? Don’t worry, let us help you out with that). This one has been flying off the shelves since it arrived late last month.

Then, of course, you’ve all seen Rodney Fox’s joy at the final version of Sharks, the Sea and Me, an extraordinary autobiography about his extraordinary life. This one will be launched at our book fair extravaganza, which is only three sleeps from now.

In the last few days, we’ve also welcomed in stock of Liz Harfull’s Almost an Island: The Story of Robe, which details the history of the Limestone Coast town alongside beautiful images (see the gorgeous cover to the left). There have been a lot of people eagerly awaiting the arrival of this title, with Harfull’s Blue Ribbon Cookbook one of Wakefield’s most popular titles from the last few years, and Australian winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, in the Best Easy Recipes category.

Last but certainly not least, there’s also Don Loffler’s Holden Days, the hardback reprint of the latest Holden title from Loffler’s extremely popular series. Something to flick through and think about while the productivity commission rolls on.