(also known as my favourite cake of all time)
So if you follow me on the ‘gram or are a friend of mine on Facebook you might have noticed that I haven’t been posting a lot of cake recently and instead I’ve been documenting my one woman battle to save the planet. I have started a compost bin, I’ve switched to solid dish soap (ok except in times of great greasy distress), I’ve passively protested at my local Countdown by leaving plastic film on the shelf, I’ve emailed my favourite brands asking them to give me better planet friendly packaging options, I’ve switched to tree free toilet paper and I am currently in the process of sourcing sturdy cotton dish cloths to replace my microfibre ones which are apparently leeching their microplastics into our waterways!
I’m trying but it is really hard to make good choices. I have been trying to reduce my plastic waste but often having food items wrapped in plastic is unavoidable and more times than not more cost effective than the naked alternative (like how is that a thing?). I have my favourite skin and haircare brands but even when purchased in bulk each bottle comes in a new pump bottle or spray nozzle. I’ve tried emailing but companies just haven’t caught up with the play.
Then there are the trade offs. If I switch to paper what is that doing to the trees? What is the water cost of this product vs that product. How much waste was produced during manufacturing? Take switching out red meat for a diet high in nuts; while you don’t have the waterway pollution and greenhouse gases produced in rearing cattle you have grown almonds which require lots of water to grow and then get shipped all the way over here from far yonder.
Being ‘eco’ conscious can also be rather price prohibitive. Visiting one of those refillery places can set you back mega bucks for pantry staples and when refill products for cleaning products are more expensive than the original trigger packaging (yes I am looking at you Countdown) of course consumers are going to be swayed by price. Flip I bought some plastic free dental floss the other day and 30m set me back $9!
Sometimes it also feels like no matter what you do it won’t make a difference. I try really hard and then the other day I heard a bunch of reasonably affluent men (I say reasonably affluent because we were up a mountain where we are all members of a ski club standing next to their row of brand new European cars so it can be a fair assumption) bragging about how when their woollen ski socks get a hole in them they just take them back and replace them year on year and how bloody clever they were for doing it. They laughed at me when I said that wasn’t very sustainable and suggested they try darning them instead (or you know buying better ski socks). They are the demographic who can afford to be conscious consumers but couldn’t give a flying fat rats arse on their impact on the planet that they leave to their children.
So enough ranting. I came up with a list of ways you can reduce your impact without forking out a butt load of money or going stupidly out of your way. I hope it helps.
Buy loose produce from a fruit and vege shop and use reusable produce bags. A no brainer but it is so easy to buy a convenient pre bagged load of carrots or onions.
If you’ve got a butcher or your supermarket has one keep a couple of spare plastic containers with your shopping bags and get them to weigh your meat directly into them. Bonus is that you don’t have to buy a huge pack if you don’t need it and it might help you to reduce your overall meat consumption.
If you can afford it switch your toilet paper to tree free TP - not only will you reduce the number of trees that you flush down the loo but upon ordering you will have dozens of toilet puns thrust at your inbox PLUS you’ll have snazzy displayable toilet rolls PLUS you don’t have to awkwardly carry loo paper out of the super market ever again!
Buy refill packs. I recently found out that Eco store sell 5L refills of their cleaning products online. So not only is it cheaper to buy bulk in the long run the plastic used to make their packaging comes from sugar cane and is totally recyclable. Added bonus is that if you are a Southern Cross member you get 15% off always (log in to your profile to find the code).
Bring a reusable vessel with you next time you get coffee or sushi. My local sushi shop is more than happy to fill my click clack with tasty treats. Store a bottle of soy sauce in your work fridge so you can say no to small packets of soy sauce too. I am going to buy reusable chop sticks for our work cutlery drawer too.
Say no to straws and lids at Maccas. Use the cup like a grown up.
Get a worm bin - ok this one will cost you a bit to set up but there are tonnes of composting options to suit your lifestyle and budget. I am in love with the Tumbleweed bloke who just really loves compost. His instructional videos will give you all sorts of warm fuzzies. Composting will reduce the amount of organic matter that ends up in landfills and produces methane. Also your mum will love you for all the compost and worm tea you can give her garden.
If you are a chronic glad wrap user have a stash of reusable containers and jars on hand to store food and left overs in. I am a sucker for snap lock bags too so I am trying to restrain myself when reaching for them. Beeswax wraps also work a treat for covering large items (keep an eye on my Instagram feed. I am about to make a pile of them and sell them off cheap as chips).
Use bar soap that comes naked or in cardboard. One less bottle to put in the bin.
Same with shaving soap too. I actually gave Dylan’s safety razor a go today and I didn’t bleed to death in the bath (but save a spare plastic razor for when you need one on carry on).They are 100% stainless steel and last a lifetime. The blades also cost something stupid like 10 cents each so savings right there.
Waste less food. I am pretty guilty of buying too many vegetables and finding they go sad in my fridge. Luckily we are fast approaching soup season so with a bit of imagination you can turn most sad vegetables into a delicious soup that you can have for lunch. I’ve also started buying smaller packets of meat and making less food at dinner time. We always had left overs but not quite enough for a full lunch the next day so we’d just over eat it or leave it in the fridge until it has to be thrown out. Sometimes if it is a good meal to freeze I will whack a serving in the freezer (in a reusable container) for when one of us is out and is in need of a single serve dinner.
Sign your workplace up to Terra Cycle - its free and with each collection of specialty waste you send in you can raise money for an organisation of your choice!
So this recipe contains lots of imported nuts and butter so ironically is not very sustainable to make but it is damn delicious and if you take up any of the above ideas it will surely counteract making this cake (right? thats definitely how it works?)
This recipe is 100% from The Caker so full credit to her. I once tweaked it to make a layer cake which was amazing but I did that after I took all these photos. I’ll tell you how to make a banging layer cake too though as well as the loaf. This cake I actually made for my birthday thats how much I loved it. People often ask what cake I choose for when its my turn and this is the one that takes the cake. It is a lovely moist but quite dense cake, not in a bad way though. It slices beautifully and each bite is just packed with aromatics. It is a cake like nothing else.
Pistachio and Orange Cake
Adapted from The Caker’s book Wholesome Cakes
Makes one loaf (or for a two layer 20cm cake use the quantities in brackets)
190g softened butter (285g)
190g muscovado sugar (285g)
3 large eggs (5 eggs)
1 teaspoons vanilla extract or bean paste (2 teaspoons for good measure)
Zest of 1 orange (zest of 2)
90g pistachios, chopped to a coarse powder (135g)
75g ground almond (115g)
30g buckwheat flour (45g)
Honey cream cheese whip:
200g room temperature cream cheese - Philadelphia never lets me down (300g)
2 tablespoons honey (3 tablespoons)
Smidge more vanilla
Flowers, pistachios, orange rind curls, sliced almonds and freeze dried raspberry to decorate.
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius and a loaf tin with baking paper (or grease and line 2 x 20cm cake tins).
Cream together the butter, sugar, zest, and vanilla until pale. Add the eggs one at a time beating well between each addition so that the mixture becomes very voluminous.
Gently fold in the ground nuts and buckwheat flour until nicely incorporated.
Transfer the batter to the loaf tin (or evenly between two cake tins) and bake for 50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean (or 45 minutes for the cakes).
Leave the loaf (or cakes) to cool fully before icing. To make the icing whip together the cream cheese, honey, and vanilla until smooth. Remove the loaf from the tin and flip it upside down onto your serving plate. Artfully spread over the top and then decorate from there. If making the layer cake then remove the cakes from the tin, place one on a serving plate and spread just under half of the cream cheese whip onto the top and spread around so that it is not quite at the edges. Place the second cake on top and repeat with the remaining icing. Decorate as you fancy.
This cake will need to be stored in the fridge because of the cream cheese but honestly it won’t last that long.