Australia isn’t famous for its bakeries (but perhaps it should be), because you sure do miss them when living overseas and realize the wide range of simple baked goods that you took for granted.
On my trips home to Australia (currently living in Seattle America) it feels like I’m on a constant bakery crawl as get all the amazing offerings that I miss. It was quite hard to narrow it down to only 10 for this summary post as I get to showcase my childhood favorites.
After a lot of time, trial, and error I have created this list of recipes that I cook while feeling homesick, most are adapted for the outdoors including camping, hiking, picnics, and just traditional backyard BBQ.
Table of Contents
1. Cheese and Bacon Rolls
This is almost always the first baked good I buy when going home to Australia, whether a batch from the local supermarket or one from the local bakery. It took a while to lock down the recipe as it is a light bread which is different from many of the other rolls I make.
The big thing to get right was the topping, it needs to be a white style cheddar (or Monterey Jack), and the bacon, which actually to get the closest turned out to be using ham.
Camp OvenCheese and Bacon Rolls Recipe
2. Caramel Slice
Slices, in general, aren’t a thing here, with the closest items here being bars and ‘tray bakes’, so unsurprisingly these are not readily available. There are in some parts of America where caramel shortbread and millionaire shortbread are available, which are similar, but not like the ones of my childhood.
The small touches that make it the Australian versions are three relatively hard-to-get ingredients (depending on where you are) golden syrup, copha, and desiccated coconut.
Camp OvenChocolate Caramel Slice Recipe
Brought up in Australia this is a traditional dessert through summer and even Christmas which is light and served cold, perfect for those hot evenings. I do appreciate however its history is a little murky and there is the possibility that it is actually a New Zealand dessert.
This version is a picnic-style that has individual serves. They can be pre-assembled or brought the components and assembled just before serving. These ones are topped with fresh strawberries although passion fruit is more traditional, again, is one of those hard-to-get items which I use when I can, but alas had none when doing these photos.
Camp OvenIndividual Pavlovas Recipe
4. Boiled Pineapple Fruitcake
Unlike America where there seems to be an irrational dislike for fruitcakes, often turning up as the trick ingredient in cooking and baking shows, it is still loved and most supermarkets have at least two always readily at hand (dark and light).
This was by far my favorite recipe which is quick and easy to make compared to others where the dried fruit can be too hard or sinks to the bottom. It also features a Queensland stable, pineapple which is a definite Aussie twist to its English ancestors.
Camp OvenBoiled Pineapple Fruitcake Recipe
5. ANZAC Biscuits
To understand these biscuits you first need to understand the acronym ANZAC which stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. This goes on to help explain the simplistic ingredients such as no eggs as this biscuit was often baked and posted to deployed soldiers during World War I, so needs to be able to last long periods of time.
This also answers a modern debate in Australia of whether they should be crispy or soft and chewy. The true traditional versions clearly had to be dry and crisp to last the postage and war storage. These days however there is a wider variety, many of which do contain eggs and are soft and chewy.
This version is based on a recipe published in the early 1900’s around the time of the First World War and what I consider the true traditional version. It was cooked and photographed in a wood-fired oven from the late 1800’s c/o Fort Nisqualli Living History Museum which gracefully allowed me to cook in their period-accurate kitchen.
Camp OvenTraditional ANZAC Biscuits Recipe
6. Rocky Road
In traditional Australian style, this has a back story too. It was originally concocted way back when most goods were still being shipped from Europe, so it wasn’t unusual after the long voyages for items to arrive spoiled.
Not to be in a position to waste food, the spoiled confections were encased in a chocolate coating to disguise the taste and sold as a new item. This became so popular it continues to be made today, although the recipes vary wildly to use old candy or showcase other items. The modern version typically consists of nuts, lollies (candy), and/or marshmallows.
PicnicChocolate Rocky Road Recipe
7. Vanilla Slice
Filled with a rich firm custard, vanilla slices are a perfect dessert option for a picnic or day outing. Although using a custard filling it is made with cornflour and custard powder rather than the traditional egg method making it both more stable and giving a longer shelflife.
This version uses the traditional puff pastry and simple icing topping from my childhood, but I have noticed that some are becoming more elaborate with different pastries and even coconut toppings on the icing.
Camp OvenHomemade Vanilla Slice Recipe
8. Chocolate Apricot Bites
Growing up in South Australia it was likely that FruChocs was one of your childhood favorites. A confection produced by local company Robern Menz which started making them 1948. It was also a fun place to visit as you could get anything chocolate coated, and there were a lot of dried fruits and lollies (candy) to choose from.
For those not familiar with these, they are a cube of fruit paste covered in milk chocolate. FrutChoc inspired, I can taste my childhood favorite in the recipe, but… on getting my hands on the ingredients of the original there are actually a lot of differences such as this being all apricot when the original has more peach than apricot. The other main one being the recipe uses dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate.
Camp OvenChocolate Apricot Bites (Fruchocs) Recipe
Growing up lamingtons were just always there, we made hundreds of them for school fundraisers, but now living out of the country I have to admit it is sort of weird having a cake with icing on all 6 sides. I can’t say that I have run into anything similar on my travels.
They are also not as easy to make as you would think! The key trick is to add the chocolate icing and coconut to the frozen cake, this stops it from falling apart. This took me a surprisingly long time to work out. Reflecting on my childhood we did actually do this but I always just thought it was how the baker delivered the cake… sigh…
Camp OvenHomemade Lamington Recipe
10 Meat Pies
Meat pies are an Aussie food institution. They are everywhere from bakeries to supermarkets, street vendors to the corner coffee store. This simple handheld food is the lunch and easy dinner across the country.
Making a really good one however has proven to be a little trickier. This recipe is now my go-to when making an Aussie meat pie. The filling is basic and spot-on to taste. To create a bit more stability the base is a shortcrust pastry while the top is the traditional flaky puff pastry.
They are made in a mini version in a cupcake tray, because living overseas if it is hard to buy premade Aussie meat pies, it is definitely impossible to buy a standard Australian meat pie size tray.
Camp CookingMini Meat Pie Recipe