Sheep thrills - smoko at the shearing shed


It's shearing time in our area and the sheds that sit empty for so long have kicked into action. Alice, Tom and I have just returned from a visit to one of the area's biggest and loveliest sheep properties, Checkers, where I was to interview wool-classer Graham Collins for One Farm Day. And as our visit was to coincide with 'smoko' break, the kids and I thought we'd take out some afternoon tea. We made a dense fruit and nut loaf and a batch of lamingtons (recipes below).

Smoko was almost over by the time we arrived and the crew were downing the last of their tea before jumping up at exactly 3.30pm. Within minutes the sheep were in, the shears had started up and Graham was at his table, sorting and classing each fleece with Fred, the property's owner. It was pretty clear after about oh, 5 seconds, that we were in the way, so Tom, Alice and I retreated to the back of the shed and watched for a little while before heading outside to finish our afternoon tea under the peppercorn trees by the yards. 


Recipe by Norma Cleal, Warialda Show, published in my baking bible, the Country Show Cookbook

In her recipe, Norma suggests freezing the cake before cutting into squares and dipping in chocolate icing. This is great advice but unfortunately I read the recipe only a couple of hours before we were due at the shearing shed so recklessly skipped this step. They still worked out fine and tasted delicious but now I understand how much easier the whole process would have been if the cake had been frozen.

For the cake
225 butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups self-raising flour
2 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs
juice of one lemon
1 tsp vanilla 

For the icing
90g butter
1 tbsp cocoa
250g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla

To make up

A large bowl of plate of coconut (I used toasted, shredded coconut but I think Norma’s original recipe called for dessicated which would probably have looked much neater!)

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease a large lamington tin. Sift flours, baking powder and salt together. Put all ingredients in a large bowl and beat for 5-6 minutes. Pour into tin and bake for 50 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Wrap in plastic and cool in the fridge for 2 days. To make the icing, place all ingredients in a large bowl, combine well then add a little hot water, stirring all the time until the mixture is runny. To finish the lamingtons, remove cake from freezer and cut into 5cm squares, dip each square in the hot icing bowl using a fork, roll in coconut and pat into shape.

Fruit and nut loaf

I wanted to take the shearers a dense, filling cake that would give them lots of energy for their long working day. Full of nuts, fruits and wholegrains, this delicious fruit and nut loaf seemed to be perfect. Sadly Alice and Tom weren't at all interested in this one; too many bits' apparently. But the rest of us loved it, particularly spread with a generous nob of jam butter...

1 mixed cup of dried fruit, I used dates and dried figs
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup boiling water
125g butter
1 tsp bicarb soda
2 cups wholemeal flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 180c and grease a loaf tin. Mix together the dried fruit, nuts, water, butter and bicarbonate soda. The boiling water should melt the butter. Let cool. Add the flour, sugar and baking powder and stir together with the egg. Pour into the tin and cook for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

For the jam butter, mix together equal measures of jam and softened butter then store in the freezer before heading out.


  1. Sophie, you have a beautiful blog. I really like your outdoor and food pictures, it all looks stunning and delicious.
    Bonnie (byw)

  2. Your photos are just lovely. I just returned from a trip to Ireland where I saw many sheep in my travels across the pretty island. How nice to read about your sheep!
    Jennifer (BYW too!)

  3. Lovely Sophie! Even as sheep farmers shearing is still a special time of the year. Your smoko looks delicious, more great recipes! Love the jam butter idea too x


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