Caramel Pinwheels and…The Aramoana

When I was about 10 we had some family friends with a holiday house in the Marlborough Sounds.  To get there you had to catch a ferry across the Cook Strait from Wellington Harbour at the bottom of the North Island to a little town called Picton at the top of the South Island.  From Picton you hopped on a water taxi that would take you to the holiday house in the sounds.   One Easter they invited us to join them for a week.

We all caught the Aramoana Ferry that would take around 800 passengers and headed into the Cook Strait.

Caramel Pinwheels – a tad overcooked but I’m working with a new oven!

Crossing the Cook Strait can be a frightening voyage because it is one of the roughest and most dangerous passages of water in the world.  It’s the only gap between the mountainous main islands so the strait acts like a huge wind tunnel.  It’s very unpredictable as a southerly gale can blow up a big swell almost instantly and that’s when you can have a rough trip.

Our trip over on the Aramoana Ferry was unremarkable with calm seas and beautiful weather and outside you could see the porpoises swimming along with the ferry like the scene at the beginning of James Cameron’s Titanic.  A little over three hours later we arrived in Picton and after collecting our luggage made it on board a water taxi for the ride to the Marlborough Sounds.  My mother’s friend jokingly said, ‘Count heads’ and the taxi took off but my father decided he would count heads and there were meant to be 12 of us but he could only count 11.  Back on the dock was my little sister who somehow, amongst all the confusion, had been left behind like that scene in Home Alone.  It happens!

When we arrived we walked up the dirt track to the house that was perched on the hill overlooking the sounds.  There weren’t enough bedrooms for all eight children so we slept in tents on the front balcony which was much more exciting.  We spent the week swimming in the frigid waters, playing cards, eating marshmallow Easter eggs and listening to the adults talk about all the damage the possums were doing that were not native, had been introduced by Australians and were an out-of-control pest problem.

On the morning we were leaving it was a beautiful day.  There were blue skies and just a slight breeze.  My father listened to the radio and heard that the crossing could be rough as strong winds and storms were expected.  Em and I were out on the balcony and dad approached with a box of pills and told us we would need to take a one to stop being sea-sick on the voyage home.  He handed us a pill each.  But Em and I looked at the beautiful weather and thought that was a load of rubbish so when he wasn’t looking we threw our pills over the handrail.

We caught the water taxi back to Picton then boarded the Aramoana bound for Wellington Harbour.  The journey from Picton through the sounds was lovely and we ate the gourmet fare that you could buy on board that included a meat pie and sauce with peas and mashed potato.  Then the ferry reached the open water and instantly the conditions changed.  The wind picked up, the clouds came over, the rain poured down, waves crashed into the sides of the ship spraying water up over the windows and the ship started listing dangerously from side to side.  The outside doors were locked for fear of losing passengers overboard.  Em and I were sitting on a bench with our meat pies, tomato sauce, green peas and mashed potato churning around inside us.  Everyone near us was sitting quietly with looks of pure fear as they gripped onto the sides of their seats and went from shades of white to shades of green.

Something sticky and sweet

When the ship listed badly to one side all the glasses in the bar slid to one end and crashed and then all the bottles fell out and crashed also.  Then they closed the bar.  The ship was barely making any progress and once we were halfway the captain had to choose between turning around and heading back to Picton or carrying on to Wellington Harbour.  And this is not a voyage that has been without incident with the SS Penguin sinking in 1909 killing two-thirds of her passengers and the Wahine sinking in 1968 that resulted in about 60 deaths.  The captain decided to press on towards Wellington.

As the boat listed and rolled Em and I were now thinking about those pills we chucked over the hand-rail.  We promptly joined many others in throwing up our pies, sauce, peas and mash all over the lino floor.  Stewards were running around with buckets of sawdust and they poured the sawdust over the vomit to prevent anyone from slipping in it.

Many hours later after one of the longest recorded crossings and one of the roughest, we arrived in Wellington Harbour.  We were very grateful to have made it.

I later had many more journeys across the Cook Strait and always, packed my pills with me!

Hmmm, what to cook after an episode of seasickness!  Something sticky and sweet might take your mind off a horror voyage.

Caramel Pinwheels:

Makes:  About 20

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  Very inexpensive and you may find you have everything required.  I only needed to buy patty cases!

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbspns melted butter
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup milk
  • brown sugar and soft butter for filling
  • patty cases
  • Pre-heat oven to 220C.

Fill 2 muffin trays with patty cases.

In a large bowl add flour, egg and butter.  Add half of the milk.  Stir with a metal knife.  If not forming a dough, add more milk.  The dough needs to be sticky so you get a light pinwheel.  When in a ball turn on to a floured surface using your hand to pat into a long oblong shape.  Roll out until 2cm thick.  Spread liberally with butter and top with 1cm of brown sugar.  Roll up.  Cut into pinwheels about 2cm wide.  Place in patty cases.

Bake 10-15 mins or until slightly golden and puffy with the butter and sugar having formed a caramel.

Enjoy while still warm.

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  1. These look delicious! 2 questions: 1. What are patty cases and 2. Can you substitute self-rising flour (which I never use/have) for another? Great story too!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Sheri, patty cases are those cases you use to put muffin mixture in. I’m not sure what you call them in the USA. And SR flour can be substituted with plain flour with baking powder. For every cup of plain flour, add 2 tspns of baking powder. xx

  2. looks so good!

  3. Although the treats look delightful and spark the thought of the wonderful aroma of baked goods fresh from the oven, I’m reminded of being prone to motion sickness – thus not the trip for me.

  4. You would never get me on that ferry. Never.

  5. What a story and what lovely caramel pinwheels.

  6. What cute and tasty pinwheels! Great post!

  7. Caramel Pinwheels would be perfect now with my tea!

    ah sea sickness… surely not fun. I imagine how it would be to experience such a sea trip.

  8. Oh my, Charlie, I see a definite re-occurrence of vomit in posts most recent…is it a trend?
    Non-the-less, your stories amuse and entertain, and I look forward to reading them every day. Glad to see the internet issues seem to be behind you. The pinwheels look amazing, over baked or not. I will be making a version for our friends who are arriving next week from Illinois…should be a fun-filled weekend!

  9. Always listen to parents, they are always right hahaha great recipe!!

  10. Well, except for the ride home, tat was a wonderful vacation: sleeping intents, swimming daily, and all out just being kids. That ride home though, sounds horrific and glad the only thing lost was your “cookies.”

    These pinwheels look great. Just small enough so that you can have 2 in one sitting without looking piggish. Perfect!

  11. I’m so glad it isn’t a recipe for pie and peas! Sticky pinwheel buns are much better for a queasy tummy!

  12. A highly enjoyable story, as always! The pinwheels look delicious (and I know something about capricious ovens… not only new ones, but also very old ones are very difficult to control).

  13. Being sea sick is the worse 🙁 that’s the main reason why my sister and I are so reluctant to go on a cruise trip ~ Yum yum yum these caramel pinwheels look and sound so delicious 😀

  14. Sweet and stick caramel buns…I’m all about that. Not so much getting sea sick. 🙂

  15. What a scary experience! I would have heaved up my … well you can get what. Interesting dessert. 🙂

  16. Oh my goodness.. my mother gets sea sick so I know what that’s like. And just look at those tasty treats.. absolutely love it

  17. You’ve brought back memories of childhood sea sickness, but my boat trips were never as rough as it sounds like yours was! We were always given lemonade afterwards but these look much more appealing and as if they would be very fun to eat.

  18. Ooh, I’ve done that crossing too and can just imagine what an ordeal it was when the weather turned rough. Caramel pinwheels sound like a good thing to think about and look forward to. After problems with WordPress, I am now able to post again.

  19. Oh that’s going to be horrific for me. I get seasick/carsick so often! And on top of that my morning sickness with 2 kids was crazy. Yikes! =D

    Your Caramel Pinwheels look so delicious. I love sticky finger licking sweets like these!

  20. Actually, I don’t mind them being a bit over-baked at all. That’s because caramel just gets even more intensely nutty tasting when it’s really cooked down. I bet these are awesome!

  21. Thankfully I have never suffered from motion sickness and I hope to keep it that way, thank you very much!
    Delicious little wheels of yumminess.
    🙂 Mandy

  22. Oh I hate seasickness and am very prone to it! 🙁 And I guess Home Alone does actually happen!

  23. Thank goodness I have never been seasick. Once had a little rough water going out to the Aran Islands but nothing like your experience.

  24. Growing up on an island…I can understand! The ferry boats very rarely brought on sea-sickness, but the smaller boats…not so fun!

  25. Ew that doesn’t sound nice at all. My mum once organised a whale watching trip for a whole group of families. Unfortunately it was a really really rough day and despite mum warning people to take tablets, nearly everyone was throwing up and there was not a whale to be seen. Poor mum still feels badly.

    We kids had a great day cause we’d taken our tablets!

  26. Sea sickness is so horrible, you must have felt really bad. I love the Home Alone moment. GG

  27. Ugh. Bet you listened to your Dad after that? Nope, we didn’t either. I love sweets so the recipe is appealing. Peas are not right now.

  28. I am a wuss when it comes to sea / any type of sickness. Just thinking about it makes me gag!

    That pinwheel looks delish!!!

  29. Oh my you naughty little brats. Your Dad must have wondered why those pills didnt work. The pinwheels look great .

  30. Seasickness is never ful–it’s the slow swells that always make me queasy. But your story was scary! Loved the caramel pinwheels though. You have such a knack for posting beautiful, yet often simple, recipes that make me want to go to the kitchen and cook!

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