tropical hummingbird cake

12 Mar 2018

A few years ago I made a version of this cake but I found it too sweet, so I decided to remake the cake reducing the quantity of sugar.

I made the cake early one Sunday morning; I hadn't slept well and I was tired. I tasted the batter before I spooned it into the tin and found it not quite sweet enough so I added an extra tablespoon of sugar. 

It wasn't until the cake was in the oven and I was doing the washing up that I discovered the sugar I'd carefully weighed and measured the night before still sitting on the kitchen table. Oh dear.

It was too late to do anything about the cake so I hoped that the natural sweetness of the banana and pineapple in the batter would be enough to make the cake palatable but just in case I slathered the cake with loads of cream cheese icing.

Here's the recipe for you which makes a 18 cm cake. To make a 23cm cake just double all the ingredients but the baking time remains the same. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C. 

Tropical Hummingbird Layer Cake, adapted from Belinda Jeffery’s Mix and Bake.
¾ cup SR flour 
¼ cup Plain flour 
pinch salt 
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
pinch ground nutmeg 
25g roasted macadamias, coarsely chopped 
1 egg 
½ cup caster sugar 
½ cup vegetable oil 
½ teaspoon vanilla extract 
⅓ cup canned crushed pineapple in natural juice, undrained 
⅔ cup mashed banana 

Cream Cheese Icing 
60g softened unsalted butter, diced
125 g softened cream cheese, diced
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
To decorate (optional)
Toasted macadamias coarsely chopped/passionfruit pulp and diced mango

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease and line the base of a 18cm round cake tin with baking paper. Lightly dust the tin with flour.

Sift the flours, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl. Stir in the chopped macadamia nuts. In another bowl, beat the egg lightly with the sugar. Whisk in the oil and vanilla extract until well combined. Add the pineapple and mashed bananas and mix thoroughly. 

Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir them together to form a batter. If the batter is too thick, add a little more pineapple juice. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Cool the cake before turning out of the tin. Using a serrated knife, halve the cooled cake horizontally. Sandwich the two cakes together with about a third of the icing. Spread the remaining icing on top of the cake.

For icing, place the butter, cream cheese and icing sugar into the food processor and process until smooth before returning the mixture to the fridge to firm up.  

I decorated the cake with toasted macadamia nuts, diced mango and passionfruit pulp and took the cake into work keeping my fingers crossed that that the cake was edible. Thankfully cream cheese icing covers up a multitude of sins but next time I'll try and follow the recipe, exactly.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


plum ricotta crumble cake

5 Mar 2018

Last month I made a peach raspberry ricotta crumble cake which was very well received and it got me thinking. As it's plum season and until yesterday I'd not made my annual plum cake, I decided to play around with the recipe a little to see whether I could add some ricotta cheese to the cake. 

A few years ago when I wrote a food column for the blog decor8, I made a plum crumble cake. I used the crumble topping from a recipe in Belinda Jeffrey's book, Mix and Bake whilst the plum cake was adapted from a Gretta Anna recipe. 

For this cake instead of just topping the cake with plums I made a filling of plums, some ricotta and half the crumble mix which I scattered over the plums before adding the remaining cake batter. I haven't eaten my piece of the cake yet but it's looking pretty moist and delicious.

Here's the recipe for you which makes an 8 inch/20cm cake. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20ºC.

Plum Ricotta Crumble Cake
Crumble Topping
½ cup (70 gm) walnuts
¼ cup (55 gm) brown sugar
¼ cup (35 gm) plain flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
30 grams (1 oz) cold unsalted butter cut into small chunks

Crumble Topping
To make the crumble, pulse the walnuts in a food processor just a few times until coarsely chopped. Tip out into a small bowl then combine the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in the food processor. Add the butter and pulse until just combined. Place the crumble topping into the bowl containing the chopped walnuts and mix until incorporated . Refrigerate the topping while making the cake.

Cake Ingredients
6 small plums
1 tablespoon caster sugar
150 grams unsalted butter
150 grams caster sugar
1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 eggs
200 grams self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
125 mls (½ cup) milk
150 g well drained ricotta cheese

Cut the plums in half and remove the pits. Slice each plum half into quarters, put into a small bowl and sprinkle over the tablespoon of caster sugar.  Set aside. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Grease and line the base and sides of an 8 inch/20cm round tin with baking paper.

To make the cake, cream the butter, sugar and lemon rind together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until combined well. Sift the flour with the baking. Add the flour alternately with the milk to make a soft batter. You may not need to use all the milk. Spoon half the batter into the greased and lined tin. Crumble over the ricotta and half of the reserved crumb mixture then top with half the plum slices. Gently spoon the remaining batter over the fruit. Top the cake with the remaining plum slices then sprinkle the top of the cake with the crumble.

Bake the cake for 60-75 minutes or until the cake tests cooked when a skewer is inserted into it. Some of the plums may sink to the bottom of the tin while cooking. Cool the cake in the tin for about 15 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack. If desired, dust the top of the cake with icing sugar just before serving.

We're having a birthday morning tea for one of our colleagues on Wednesday so the cake is languishing in the deep freeze until then. I'll let you know how the cake turned out.

P.S Absolutely delicious!

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


mini lime meringue tarts

26 Feb 2018

Last weekend I met a friend for dinner and I always like to bring along something sweet to share so I decided to make some mini tarts. 

I used the passionfruit tart recipe from the Cook and Baker as my inspiration, then took the recipe from there. These little meringue tarts take a bit of time and effort but they are very tasty and look cute as well. 

It's lime season here so I decided to make lime meringue tarts. I made the tarts on one of the hottest days of the year so had all kind of problems rolling out my usually foolproof pastry recipe. I persevered and all went well in the end but I only made 12 tarts and put the remaining pastry back in the freezer for another day.

The tarts are best eaten the day they're made but if you store them in the fridge, they're still okay the next day. Don't store them at room temperature though as the pastry will soften. If making meringue isn't your thing you could always top the tarts with a dollop of cream topped with some grated lime rind.

Here's the recipe for you which makes 24 tarts. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20ºC.

Miniature Lime Meringue Tarts 
Almond shortcrust pastry
110g (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
¼ cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
¼ cup almond meal
1⅓ cups plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
Cold water

2 egg yolks
1 tsp finely grated lime rind
200g condensed milk
120 mls lime juice

3 egg whites
180g caster sugar
Pinch of salt

To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients in a food processor, and whiz for a few seconds until well combined and free of lumps. Add the cold butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and sufficient cold water and whiz until a soft dough just starts to form around the blade. Remove the dough from the food processor and gather the pastry into a ball; flatten slightly before wrapping in plastic and placing in the fridge. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes.

Grease a 12 cup miniature muffin tin. Cut the pastry in half. Roll out the pastry quite thinly, cut into twelve 6 cm rounds then press the pastry gently into each tin before trimming the edges. Line each cup with a small square of baking paper and fill with baking beans. Chill for 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 190°C and bake the pastry shells for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely before removing the shells from the tray. Repeat the process with the remaining pastry. The shells can be stored in an airtight container until ready to be filled.

Lower the oven temperature to 170°C. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks with the lime rind. Stir in the condensed milk followed by the juice. Mix thoroughly and return the mixture to the fridge for 10 minutes to allow the mixture to infuse. Pour the filling through a fine sieve into a jug before filling the pastry cases. Bake the tarts for 10-15 minutes or until the filling is just set. Allow to cool completely before refrigerating the tarts for at least an hour. Repeat with the remaining shells.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Bring a saucepan of water large enough to fit your stand mixer bowl to the boil. Put the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of the mixer and whisk to combine. Reduce the heat under the pan so the water is just simmering, then place the bowl on the pan, making sure the water doesn’t touch its base. Whisk the eggs for five minutes by hand or using a hand mixer, until very warm, then put the bowl back on the electric mixer stand and whisk for about five minutes on a high speed, until the meringue is stiff and cool.

Place the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5 cm plain tube and pipe decoratively over the filling. You can leave the tarts as is or you can colour the meringue using a brulee torch or under the grill. I prefer to bake the tarts for 10 minutes or until the meringue is lightly coloured. Cool on a rack before returning to the fridge to firm up the filling.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,



chocolate blackberry layer cake

19 Feb 2018

Last month I made 3 pots of blackberry jam but I'm not much of a jam eater so I needed to find a way to use up some of the jam. I gave a pot to my friend Jenny and whilst rifling through the pages of Ostro, I spied a photo of a chocolate layer cake with espresso frosting and blackberries and the deal was done.  

I used my own chocolate cake recipe and blackberry jam recipe but used the espresso frosting recipe from the book. I have a new wire cake cutter and used it to cut the cake into 3 fairly even layers.

I took the cake into work and it was demolished in record time. Here's the recipe for you which makes a 3 layer 18cm cake. For all my recipes, I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20ºC.

Chocolate Blackberry Layer Cake
1 cup plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate soda
¼ tsp baking powder
½ cup strong hot coffee
40g cocoa, sifted
125g room temperature unsalted butter, chopped
¾ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 egg
⅓ cup buttermilk

Chocolate Espresso Icing
100g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
150g unsalted butter, softened
100 icing sugar sifted
1 tsp vanilla
30g cocoa, sifted
1 tbs strong coffee

To serve
⅓ cup blackberry jam
Fresh blackberries and chocolate curls

Preheat oven to 190°C. Grease and line the base and sides of a 18cm tin with baking paper. Sift the flour with the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Mix the coffee and cocoa together in a small bowl to make a paste, then set aside to cool. Cream the butter and sugar together with the vanilla until pale and fluffy. Add the egg then mix the flour into the mixture alternating with the chocolate mixture and the buttermilk. You should be left with a creamy smooth chocolatey batter. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, smooth the top then place the tin onto the middle shelf of the preheated oven. Bake at 190° C for 1-1¼ hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out dry. Leave the cake to cool completely before turning out onto a wire rack. When cool slice horizontally into 3 even layers leaving the best layer for the top layer. While the cake is cooling, make the icing.

Place chocolate in a microwave safe glass bowl. Cook in 30 second bursts until the chocolate starts to melt. Stir until smooth and all the chocolate has melted. Set to one side to cool. Cream the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa, the chocolate and the strong coffee and beat for a further 3 minutes or until the icing is light and fluffy.

To assemble
Place one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread a layer of blackberry jam over the cake layer then top with ⅓ of the icing. Carefully place the second layer on the top and repeat the process. Top with the final layer and ice with the remaining chocolate icing. Top with the chocolate curls and blackberries and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature.

Here's the finished product bedecked with chocolate curls and blackberries. It does look very pretty if I say so myself.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen,


peach raspberry and ricotta crumble cake

12 Feb 2018

When I was home in Brisbane at Christmas I found a recipe in a magazine for a peach raspberry and ricotta crumble cake. As the cake recipe contained 3 of my favourite ingredients - peaches, raspberries and ricotta - I knew I had to make it. As soon as I was back home in Sydney I made the cake and it languished in the freezer waiting for my colleagues to return to work. A few weeks back I defrosted the cake and photographed it before taking it into work to share with my colleagues.

When making the cake I found the cake batter a bit dry compared to my usual fruit cake recipe so I added an additional egg and some extra milk to the batter. My cake also refused to brown so I baked it a bit longer than suggested hoping it would take on some more colour but it didn't really. I guess that's why you sprinkle the cake with icing sugar before serving.

Here's the recipe for you, adapted from a Gourmet Traveller recipe. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20ºC.

Peach Raspberry Ricotta Crumble Cake 

110g greek yoghurt
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup raw caster sugar
90g softened unsalted butter
15g almond meal
Finely grated zest 1 lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
optional - 1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
3 small ripe peaches or nectarines, halved and thinly sliced
60g raspberries plus extra to serve
100g firm ricotta, crumbled
Icing sugar, sifted for dusting


Grease and line the base and sides of an 18cm cake tin with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180°C (conventional). Place the yoghurt and bicarb soda in a large jug. Stir to combine then set aside to foam for 3 minutes.

Place the flour, sugar, butter, almond meal, lemon rind, vanilla, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a food processor and process until crumbly. Transfer 1/2 cup of the mixture to a separate bowl and set aside. Add the eggs and the yoghurt mixture to the food processor and pulse until smooth. If the batter seems a little thick add the milk. Spread half the mixture into the cake tin and scatter with half the peach slices, half the raspberries, half the ricotta and half the reserved crumb mixture. Spread the remaining cake mixture over and smooth the top. Top with the remaining fruit, ricotta and crumb mixture and bake until golden and an inserted skewer comes clean, about 1 - 1¼ hours (cover with foil if browning too quickly).

Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Just before serving, dust the cake with icing sugar. Serve extra raspberries on the side and a dollop of cream if desired.

The cake was well received at work and I already have plans to add a layer of ricotta and crumble to my much loved plum cake recipe.

See you all again soon.

Bye for now,


apple crumble slice

5 Feb 2018

I had dinner with friends during the Australia Day Long Weekend and as is customary, I brought along dessert. My friends' son dislikes overly sweet, creamy or chocolate flavoured desserts so I normally bring along something lemon flavoured or containing apple. I don't like to bring the same dessert twice if I can help it, so I had to come up with something new and in a hurry.

I decided to make an apple crumble slice inspired by a picture I saw online. I used the apple filling from the Country apple cake recipe which uses canned apple slices, with the addition of some sultanas I'd soaked in tea to plump them up. If you can't buy pie apple, you'll need to stew about 1 kilo of green cooking apples before making the recipe and you could toss the sultanas into the warm apple, avoiding the soaking process.The topping and crumble came from the lemon curd shortbread recipe found in the Cook and Baker cookbook. I put the slice together and baked it hoping the elements would work together. 

There was probably too much filling for the tin but I squeezed it all in any way. The filling amount would work perfectly in an 8 x 12 inch slice tin but you'd need to increase the shortbread mixture by 50%. 

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20ºC.

Apple Crumble Slice - makes 8 slices

2 cups plain flour
pinch salt
150g caster sugar
185g unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla

Apple Filling
800g tin pie apple
⅓ cup caster sugar
1 tsp grated lemon rind
¼ cup sultanas soaked in tea for 20 minutes, then drained
Icing sugar for dusting

Tip: You can make both the dough and the apple filling in advance and keep refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Sift the flour with the salt and set to one side. In a large bowl cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Mix in the flour to form a soft dough. Press just over half the mixture into the base of a 20cm x 20cm lightly greased tin lined with non-stick baking paper. Wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until a light golden brown.

To make the apple filling, combine the pie apple, the sugar, the lemon rind and sultanas in a large bowl. Spoon the filling over the cooked base in an even layer. Sprinkle or grate the remaining mixture over the apples and cook in the oven for 35– 40 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool in the tin, dust with icing sugar and cut into slices to serve.

I cut it into 8 slices so I could take a few photos before driving across the bridge for dinner. Thankfully I did because the slice was devoured in record time. The ingredients may be simple but when baked, the slice was absolutely delicious. The base was buttery, the filling tart with lemon. It's not overly sweet so if you like sweet desserts you might want to increase the amount of sugar in the filling but I liked it just the way it was. I can't wait to make it again.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,

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