Hummingbird Cake (Ross’s special cake)

This is one of those recipes which can be played with, adjusted and will always work out. I’ve m20150308_174948~2_resizedade several versions of it. This recipe below is Ross’s original, which he found in a cuisine magazine and then adjusted.

2 cups of flour
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 can crushed pineapple – mostly drained
2 cups chopped walnuts
1/2 cup coconut
1 1/2 cups salad oil (Ross does not like the taste of Rice Bran in the cake, but I don’t mind)

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs and oil and stir until moist. Do Not Beat! Stir in vanilla, walnuts, pineapple and coconut. Bake at 350 F or 180C.

Ice with cream cheese frosting: 125g cream cheese, 250g icing sugar, 90g butter, 1/2 tsp vanilla, juice of 1/2 lemon juice.

Variations: I make this with half wholemeal flour and half plain. I have completely left out the walnuts and replaced them with raisins and also with dates. I’ve used hazelnuts instead of walnuts. Pumpkin seeds work too. I’ve used much more spice sometimes and added ground cloves and ginger.

Lime and White Chocolate Brownie

This recipe started life as my friend Carole’s chocolate brownie.  You might notice that the photo below of my version bears little resemblance to a chocolate brownie, I felt like a brownie, I only had white chocolate buttons and I happened to have a lime begging to be used, so voila Lime and white chocolate brownie was born.  It has a lovely soft centre and chewy edges. Yum!

This would make a great desert with yoghurt to cut through the sweetness or even some rhubarb.  We however ate it as the consolation prize for a very disappointing first course most of which ended up in the bin!  This saved the day!

Melt these together gently: 100g butter, 1/2 cup of white chocolate buttons.

Whisk in: 2 eggs, grated rind of a lime and it’s juice and 1 tsp of vanilla.

Stir in: 1 cup of sugar, 3/4 cup flour.

Pour into: a tin lined with baking paper.

Bake at: 180 degrees C for 25 minutes.

White Cake

On Sunday I turned 50.  There, I wrote it.  Hard to believe I’m so extremely old, anyway when you are this old you can choose your own birthday cake.  I chose a White Cake.  I’ve made it before, for a friend’s birthday and I always remembered how gorgeous it was.  I had found the recipe in a Taste Magazine and then lost it.  Then, the other day hunting through some papers for something else I found it.  It has taken me an age to find it online anywhere now so I am posting it here in case I lose it again.  It is the most wondrous cake!

This cake is moist with the subtle flavour of almond and vanilla.  The chopped up almonds give it a bit of body and crunch which makes it really unusual.  It is a big celebration cake and while this recipe is for two cakes, you could make one big one.

The cake: 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar, 250g butter, 1tsp vanilla, 2 and 1/4 cups self-raising flour, 1tsp baking powder, 300ml milk, 1 cup finely chopped almonds (blanched), 6 egg whites beaten to stiff peaks

Cream the sugar, butter and vanilla.  Sift together the flour and baking powder, three times. Yes three times.  It is traditional and important.  Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternatively with the milk and then stir in the almonds.  Gently fold in the egg whites.  Pour into two greased and floured cake tins, and bake at 190 degrees C for 30 minutes.  Insert a skewer into the cake to test whether it is cooked.

Icing:  60g butter, 250g cream cheese, 3 cups icing sugar, vanilla or lemon juice.  To make the icing, cream the butter and the cream cheese.  Add the icing sugar and vanilla or lemon juice to taste.

To assemble:  sandwich the 2 cakes together with some of the icing. Cover the top and sides with icing, smooth and chill.

From Taste magazine, August 2006

Feijoa Cake

This is moist and yummy.  Only for those who really like feijoas of course, but if you like them you really like them.  The season is so incredibly short and they go off really quickly, so best get them inside you quickly!

Credit for the recipe goes to the lovely Michael.  He is in Year 11 at school and this is his Mum Alison’s recipe.  Michael gave me a piece of this cake one morning because he is a kind hearted young man and I have been dying to make it ever since.  I can thoroughly recommend it.  it certainly went down a treat at Bookclub last night.  The recipe originally comes from somewhere called Top of the dome, but I don’t know where that is.

300g self-raising flour

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnnamon

Photo from

1/2 tsp salt

250g demerara (or brown) sugar

125g butter, melted

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

175ml milk

250g feijoas, peeled and chopped

Heat the oven to 180 degrees C.  Line your cake tin with baking paper and grease lightly.  Works in round or square but it is quite a big cake.

Sift the flour, cinnamon and salt into a bowl.  Stir in the sugar and you can put in some raisins or cranberries at this point in you want (I don’t want)

In a separate bowl mix the butter, eggs, milk and feijoas and mix until smooth.  Combine the two mixtures and pour into the cake tin.

Bake for 35 – 45 minutes or until the cake is springy in the middle when you give it a little poke with your finger.  Take out of the oven and let it stand in the tin for a good 5 minutes.  Then, when coolish tip it out and put onto a wire rack to cool.  Serve it warm as a desert with cream or yoghurt.  Yum.

Rhubarb and date cake

First rhubarb harvest of the season and I have a bumper early crop.  You have to keep on harvesting to keep it cropping.  The first stalks are always the best coloured and such a joy to use.  Rhubarb is so Mumsy and Grandmumsy and while round here the ultimate cool evening treat is a Rhubarb Crumble this cake recipe is great to make because it is easy, requires no concentration and you can eat it on a sunny spring day not just cool wintery nights.

This recipe is a really easy and comes from a fantastic book which was put out last year by Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in Wellington.  My friend Rosalba sent me a copy which has been used and used in my kitchen and is looking rather stained and well loved.  That is really the ultimate compliment for a cookbook, you can judge my good cookbooks by the stains.  I make the recipe slightly differently from the instructions in the book, using my food processor to mix the butter into the flour, but you don’t have to.  It makes a moist cake – pudding style, and is totally delicious.  The standing time is important to firm it up, don’t rush it even though the smell will be tempting you to hurry it along.

I think on a cooler night this would be fantastic with custard or yoghurt, but it is warm at the moment and so I served it just by itself in big generous slices.  It was all gobbled up in about 10 minutes by the four of us.  The ultimate sign of a great cake!

170g self-raising flour, 100g margarine (I always use butter), 120g caster sugar, 250g rhubarb (approx 6), 120g chopped dates, 1 large egg, about 4tblsp milk

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C  and Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.

Sift flour, add margarine (or butter) chopped into small pieces. Rub in until evenly distributed (or blitz in food processor), then stir in the sugar.  Wipe and cut rhubarb into small cubes then add to flour, add the dates with milk together and stir into other ingredients.  Bake for 35 minutes or until the top is golden and gorgeous.  Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack to cool.  Freezes well.

Cappuccino Date Slice

This recipe is from Jo Seagar originally but I have adjusted it a little bit.  Jo is a butteraholic and while it makes all of her recipes fantastically rich and rewarding I’m trying to cut down, so a little alteration has been necessary.  Enroute to the North Island in the summer we went to Seagars at Oxford and had afternoon tea with our lovely friend Judith.  It was spectacular, really, go there, and have Hot Chocolate and yummy things of many kinds.  In the meantime you can make this slice though.  It only uses one mixing bowl which is a great bonus.  The original is on the website above and I got it from my copy of Jo Seagar Cooks – one of the most used books in my kitchen.

Heat oven to 150 degrees, line a rectangular tin with baking paper.

To make the Base: 2 eggs, 1 cup brown sugar, 120g butter, 1/2 cup of milk, 3 tblsp of very strong coffee, 1 cup dates, pitted and chopped into small pieces, 1.5 cups of flour, 2 tsp baking powder.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl, add everything else and mix well to combine thoroughly.  Spread into the prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes.  When it is cool put on the icing below.

The Coffee Icing (possibly the best bit)

2 cups of icing sugar, 2 tblsp very very strong coffee, small knob of butter, boiling water.  Make icing in the usual way.  The stronger the coffee taste the better if you ask me.