Guest Chef 2019 - Catherine Madden
Adorned with extravagant toffee shards and luxurious Swiss meringue butter cream, Catherine Madden’s baking creations are masterpieces, genuine works of art.
This Moree home cook has fast gained a reputation as one of the region’s most talented cake creators, and come May 11, Catherine will be sharing some of her skills at Moree on a Plate.
She is the third local cook to be demonstrating at this year’s food and wine festival as part of its ‘look local’ theme – showcasing local talent as well as local produce.
Together with Daisy Nguyen and Di Haddad, the three accomplished creators will deliver interactive demonstrations sharing some of their skills.
And when it comes to baking, Catherine has a treasure trove of tips and tricks she will generously share.
“I had two grandmothers who were both excellent cooks, so baking was something I was taught very early in life,” she explains.
Moving from Sydney to Moree upon her marriage to husband Matthew, the couple raised three children – Cate, Charlotte and Alexander – on the family farm ‘Fairfield’, giving her further cause to bake.
“It was much easier to bake their morning tea and lunch box treats, it’s all my children ever knew!”
For Catherine, the process is just as rewarding as the outcome.
“I love the preciseness of baking, it is like a science.”
“I make sure I read the recipe two to three times before I begin, and have all my ingredients out and ready to go – if you’re not prepared, that’s when you make mistakes.”
But even the queen of baking herself isn’t immune to cake fails.
“I had a big shocker one Easter, we were entertaining 30 people for a sit-down lunch and somehow I totally forgot to include sugar – it was so bad no one could even feign politeness!”
“It’s become the running joke every Easter!”
Catherine bakes weekly – laughing that husband Mathew and son Alexander frequently hover around the kitchen looking for smoko.
However, Matthew is quick to contest he sees more cakes walk out the door than he ever gets to eat.
“Often my friends ask me to bake a cake for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings – it’s a huge privilege and it gives me great pleasure making a cake and contributing to someone’s special occasion,” Catherine smiles.
Not afraid to experiment, Catherine has mastered some of baking’s most challenging techniques and processes including frosting, isomalt, Italian meringue and anything toffee related.
Swiss Meringue buttercream is one of her favourites, but she admits it was a process almost doomed to her.
“The buttercream actually curdles during the process, and I almost gave up – but a quick google search revealed this was actually very normal – thank goodness for google!”
Her ‘go-to’ cakes are Lamington Cake, Orange Cake and Chocolate Cake, and while she could no doubt whip these up with her eyes closed, she always has a quick glance of the recipe, ‘just in case’.
‘It’s so easy to forget something, I do always rely on a recipe, even if it’s a deviation of a recipe.”
From how to re-use the off-cuts of cake, the best flour to use, the optimal temperature and size of eggs for baking and even making sure your bi-carb and baking soda is within its used by date, Catherine is excited to be sharing her practical kitchen knowhow at Moree on a Plate.
With Toby Osmond comparing her demonstration, and local florist Tia Carrigan of The Bespoke Botanical Co including a floral cake arrangement segment, Catherine will hold two demonstrations at Moree on a Plate, primarily focussed on getting that perfect frosted finish.
“Baking from scratch really is a lost art, there is no denying a home make cake tastes better, and is such a pleasure to create, and serve.”
Moree on a Plate is on Saturday, May 11 from 10am - 4pm at The Moree Secondary College.
Gold Coin entry, for further details see www.moreeonaplate.com