When I was in primary school, I used to get a day off school every year in August. I wasn’t ill, nor was there a family emergency, it was possibly the best day of the year except for Christmas and my Birthday. It was Ekka day (the Royal Queensland Show).
Mum would pick up my grandma early in the morning and the two of us would catch the train in to the show. I would ride the rides, throw balls in clown’s mouths, shoot darts at balloons and toss rings towards a stick. Then it was time to go and check out all the animals and for my grandma to catch up with old country friends (she’s a bushie).
One year while my grandma was chatting away in the middle of a stable, a calf, being led by a young boy not much older than me, stood on my little toe. I was trying so hard to be good and not interrupt my grandma’s conversation I sucked up the pain. I think I probably pictured the show bags I was about to buy and that got me through.
The show bag pavilion was always the last stop of the day and was conveniently located near the train station so we could buy our bags and be on our way home. There was a lot of careful planning that went in to choosing a show bag and I remember saving up for months. Of course my grandma usually bought us one too.
It was such a wonderful day and a great treat to get one-on-one time (my sister would go on another day). Apart from the show bags, rides, games and revolting Dagwood dogs, the Ekka has another time-honored tradition – the strawberry ice-cream.
I’m probably stripping myself of the right be called a Brisbanite by saying this but I’ve never actually eaten one. The last time I went to the Ekka I was still terribly fussy and didn’t eat strawberries! Can you imagine?
This Ekka holiday, I still won’t be able to sample the famous treat so I thought I’d pay homage to it in a cupcake form. I must say, if the ice-cream is anywhere near as good as my cupcake version, I might just have to pop in there today and get one.
I used my fool-proof cupcake recipe for the cupcakes and whipped it all together in my new food processor along with some strawberries (picked fresh the day before).
I love how pink the batter is despite only having 3 strawberries in it. I did have the pink food colouring out just in case but it most definitely wasn’t needed.
If you can get cones with a fat bottom on them I would recommend them. Getting them to stay standing in the tin was a bit tricky but before the batter was cooked they stayed upright reasonably well.
I baked them at 180C fan-forced for about 18 minutes. The time will vary depending on the shape of your cones so start checking them at 15 minutes. It’s better to err on the side of over-cooked rather than under-cooked with this recipe.
This is where the top-heavy cones and I had a little falling out. From oven to stove top above the oven they stayed put perfectly and smiled for their photo. When I lifted it up to move it to the other side of the kitchen and on to the wire rack, they started diving out left right and center. It was cone carnage and that’s why you’ll see quite a few with busted lips.
I tried to stand them up to cool them but the lazy little fellas just wouldn’t co-operate so I let them lie down for cooling.
When they were well rested and nice and cool I topped each one with a healthy serve of strawberry butter-cream icing.
Just like the classic, ice-cream version, the cakes got a nice blob of whipped cream (I used a star-tipped nozzle) on top.
For the finishing touch – a fresh strawberry.
These little cake cones were absolutely delicious. I think the cone helped to cut the sweetness and there was something exciting about the layer of crunch around the cake.
Because everyone has an ice-cream eating method (no, just me?) I’ll share my cupcake ice-cream eating method. I liked to break off the bottom half and dip it in the icing and then eat the strawberry and save the top with cream and icing for last. Yum! Enjoy!
What about you? What’s your fondest local show memory from your childhood?
Strawberry ice-cream cupcakes
- 1/3 cup freshly squeeze mandarin (or orange) juice
- 2 eggs
- 125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, chopped
- 3/4 cup caster (superfine) sugar
- 225g (8oz) self-raising flour
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 300g (11oz) strawberries
- 20 ice-cream cones
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 2 large strawberries
- whipped cream
- 20 strawberries for topping
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C(356F) fan-forced and line a mini muffin tin with ice-cream cones.
- Throw the juice, eggs, butter, caster sugar, flour, vanilla and strawberries in a food processor and process until smooth.
- Divide the batter between the cones so that they are 3/4 full.
- Bake the ice-cream cakes for 15-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Transfer the ice-cream cakes to cool on a wire rack.
- Make the icing by beating the butter with an electric mixer then adding the icing sugar. Add the strawberries and beat until smooth and fluffy.
- Add milk if the icing is too thick.
- Pipe the icing on top of the cones nice and high to look like ice-cream.
- Top with a blob of whipped cream and a strawberry.
Ohhhhhhhh…… As a Brissie girl who’s been living in London for the past 5 years (and has subsequently missed the Ekka 5 years in a row. Boooo!!!!) I sometimes get such waves of nostalgia/home-sickness for the sights, smells, sounds, and most importantly, tastes of the Ekka. Such was my desperation today, I started googling ‘Ekka strawberry ice-cream’ and found these AWESOME cupcakes! I’m really looking forward to introducing this more London-weather appropriate version of a traditional Brissie taste to my partner and friends – thanks Claire!
Would you believe I haven’t been to the EKKA for a few years?! Im a bad Brisbanian!! Hope you enjoy the cupcakes Kate.
Hot enough for ice cream where you are already?! Its still lovely and cool here in Sydney.
It is indeed Corrie. Today was like summer!
Claire, these are gorgeous! I’ve pinned them to make in the future. I think they’d be so perfect for a party.
Thanks Jen! They would make a great party cake because there’s no cleaning up!
These are beautiful Claire and I love how you photographed them. I think the presentation is gorgeous. I didn’t know the Ekka was famous for strawberry ice cream but I sure did know it was famous for dagwood dogs – I’d love the ingredient breakdown of what’s in those xx
I’ve heard it too and I’m oh so glad I’ve never eaten one!
They are so cute! And I wonder how Ekka differs from our Easter Show? From the photos I’ve seen, they’re both very similar! :) Except I don’t remember strawberry ice cream :P
They are pretty similar Lorraine ours just has a QLD touch.
These are beyond cute – they’d be so nice for a baby or bridal shower. Look at you already getting tons of use out of that Cuisinart! ;)
They would Jess. I think it’s a nice way to make cupcakes. There’s nothing better than being able to eat the wrapper!
What a brilliant homage to this EKKA treat!! – clever girl!! These cupcakes look scrumptious – you were very thorough with the eating suggestion too. I always leave the icing for last.
Thank you! The eating method is very important Kris!
I must admit I knocked off two of them rather quickly!
Our local county fair was in a town called Skowhegan. Maybe 5000 residents except for fair week. Maine is a large state but not many people live there because it’s so freakin cold in the winter. Show bags didn’t exist there and I only saw my first one after I moved to Australia.
I’d trade a showbag for one of these beautiful cupcakes anytime!
It sounds like a rather quaint little place! I think I’d prefer a cupcake over a show bag too. My grandma used to always tell us how they used to be called ‘sample bags’ and they were free. Just like the name suggests they were full of samples of goodies. Nothing’s free anymore :-(
Claire, I’ve never had a strawberry sundae either although I nearly bought one on Monday night. Your version however I would happily eat until the cows come home. They look wonderful. I like the idea of standing the cones in the muffin tray. I made cone cupcakes recently and jammed them into a deep baking dish but they still toppled.