xmas month 2022 - louise cake with rhubarb

28 Nov 2022

Can you believe Christmas is just around the corner? For Christmas this year I promised you loads of meringue and lashings of whipped cream and mascarpone. Today's bake is an adaptation of the Louise cake with plums recipe from Sweet by Helen Goh and Ottolenghi, crowned with a fulsome layer of almond flecked meringue.

I've made this cake 3 times now. The first adaptation wasn't very successful - the cake to meringue ratio didn't work so I went back to the drawing board and came up with this recipe. It's great with plums but as they're not in season yet, I made the cake with rhubarb. I think any tart fruit would work though. I took the cake to a friend's place for dessert and told them I was auditioning the recipe for Christmas.

The cake was such a hit I'd feel a bit of a heel not sharing it with you. Here's the recipe for you which make a 17cm round cake. If you'd like to make a larger version click on the link above for the quantities. 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 20°C.

Louise cake with rhubarb
85g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2cm cubes
65g caster sugar
1½ tsp finely grated lemon zest 
2 large egg yolks
85g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp/pinch salt
15g desiccated coconut
60ml whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
225g rhubarb cut into 2 cm pieces
1 tbs caster sugar

40g flaked almonds
90g egg whites (from 3 eggs)
pinch salt
125g caster sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp white wine vinegar
3/4  tsp cornflour

Preheat the oven to 170°C, conventional. Spread out the flaked almonds for the meringue on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes, until they are a light golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Increase the oven temperature to 180°C conventional. Line the base and sides of a high-sided 17cm round tin (with a removable base) with baking paper.

Place the butter, sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on a medium-high speed, until light and creamy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until combined. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into a bowl. Add the coconut and stir to combine. With the machine on a low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mix, alternating with the milk and vanilla. 

Scrape the batter into the prepared tin – it will only rise about a fifth of the way up the sides – and smooth the top evenly. Place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes or until the cake is fully cooked and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

When the cake is cooked, remove it from the oven and turn the temperature up to 200°C conventional. Gently lay the rhubarb on top of the cake then sprinkle it with an additional tablespoon of caster sugar.

Place the egg whites and salt in a clean bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Beat on a medium-high speed for about 1 minute until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to whisk on a high speed until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla, vinegar and cornflour and whisk again until combined. Finally, fold in the toasted flaked almonds.

Scrape the meringue into the cake tin, on top of the fruit, and spread out evenly over the fruit. Swirl the meringue around so you get rough waves and peaks, then place in the oven. Immediately lower the oven temperature to 180°C conventional and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the meringue has formed a hard crust and is just beginning to brown. 

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the cake tin for at least 30 minutes before pushing up the removable base to release the cake. Peel away the parchment paper, place on a platter, and serve.

I probably baked the cake 5 minutes longer than needed but it still tasted great. The cake is best served the day it is baked but will still be good the next day. Any longer and the cake becomes quite soggy and the meringue layer will deflate.

See you all again next week with another bake for Xmas month 2022.

Bye for now 



chocolate zucchini layer cake

21 Nov 2022

Many years ago I lived in Perth 
while I was studying Sports Physiotherapy. One day a fellow student brought in a chocolate zucchini cake, which was absolutely delicious. In all these years I've never tried recreating the cake until this recipe appeared in a recent Delicious magazine. I just had to try it out though I did make a few changes.

My favourite twinnies just turned 3 so I decided to make a 2 layer chocolate zucchini cake for their birthday celebration. Because we had many mouths to feed I made the cake in a 20cm tin but I think a higher cake would look more impressive. Next time I would make a 2 layer 17cm cake but it might take an extra 10 minutes or so to bake. 

Here's the recipe for you which makes a 2 layer 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 20°C.

Chocolate & zucchini layer cake – adapted from a Clare Scrine recipe
2 eggs
75g sour cream
125 ml vegetable oil (or other neutral oil)
60 ml black coffee, cooled
2 tsp vanilla extract
135g finely grated zucchini 
165g brown sugar
½ tsp salt
150g (1 cup) self-raising flour
¼ tsp bicarb soda
45g (scant ½ cup) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Chocolate Sour Cream Icing 
90g roughly chopped dark chocolate
125 ml sour cream, at room temperature
2 tsp maple syrup

To fill & top
150 ml thickened cream, whipped
200g mixed berries

Preheat the oven to 190°C, conventional. Grease and line the base of a 20cm tin with baking paper and dust with cocoa.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, vegetable oil, cooled coffee and vanilla until well combined and a little frothy. Add the zucchini and stir well to combine. In a separate large bowl, combine the sugar, salt, flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently until just combined, ensuring you scrape right to the bottom of the bowl to mix well. Pour into the prepared tin then transfer to the oven and bake for 50 minutes
 or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out mostly clean. 

It’s important not to overcook the cake, so keep a close eye on it. Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes, then snap off the side of the tin and leave to cool completely.

Melt the chocolate (in a microwave-safe bowl) in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between each increment. Remove from heat and whisk in the sour cream and maple syrup. The icing should be smooth and silky. Refrigerate the icing until the cake has cooled (about an hour or so). The icing will thicken as it cools.

Halve the cake then place one of the layers on a serving stand or plate. Top with a thin layer of icing, using the back of a spoon or a knife to spread and swirl the icing so that it’s flat and evenly distributed. Spread the cream over the top, then arrange about half the berries over that. Place the second layer on top of the berries, pressing gently to ensure it sits flat. Top the cake generously with the remaining icing, spreading it over the top of the cake. Top the cake with the remaining berries before serving.

The cake was really easy to make and was quite a hit with the girls, especially the icing. I think the girls ended up wearing as much of the chocolate cake as they ate.

I've been knee deep in Christmas so next week I'll be sharing with you the first bake for Xmas month 2022.

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

Bye for now,


asparagus, pea and feta tart

9 Nov 2022

Today's post is to ensure you that I don't live on cakes, biscuits and buns alone. As well as sweet baking I also do some savoury baking.


It's spring time in Sydney and the fruit shops are filled with new season asparagus. Whilst looking for recipes for Christmas 2022, I came across some recipes from Kepos Kitchen, including this one for an asparagus, pea and feta tart.

I love peas, asparagus, feta cheese and a soft boiled egg, so I was sold. The only problem I had was trying to track down my favourite brand of all butter puff pastry, Careme. When that proved impossible I went with what I could find in the supermarket. A 24 x 24cm square tart seemed a bit unwieldy, so I cut the pastry into two halves and made 2 tarts.

Here's the recipe for you from Hummus and Co by Michael Rantissi and Kristy Frawley which makes 2 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 20°C.

Asparagus, pea and feta tart – serves 3-4
350 g frozen green peas, thawed overnight
1 sheet store bought puff pastry, about 24cm x 24cm
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
12-14 asparagus spears, peeled and trimmed
150 g feta
3 soft boiled eggs
Micro herbs for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 190°C, conventional. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. 

Cut the pastry lengthwise into two 12cm pieces. Using a knife, make a 1cm border around the edge of the pastry (don’t cut all the way through) then dock the centre with a fork. Put the pastries on the prepared tray and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown, puffed up and very firm. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature. 

Put the peas in a bowl and crush them. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and zest and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a chargrill pan or a barbecue grill plate to high. Drizzle the asparagus with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until grill marks appear.

To assemble the tart, put the pastries onto a serving or chopping board (as this will be easier to cut the tart) and top each with half of the crushed pea mixture. Crumble the feta evenly over the tarts. Cut the eggs into half and arrange them on the tarts. Top with the grilled asparagus, sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Drizzle with additional olive oil and micro herbs if using.

I had half of one of the tarts for my lunch and the leftovers were devoured for an afternoon snack. The tart was really delicious especially the char on the asparagus spears. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

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

Bye for now,



strawberry and cream sponge cake

6 Nov 2022

I have fond memories of taking tea with my grandmother in the tea rooms of a long gone Brisbane Department store. We would always have a slice of sponge cake with our teaeither topped with passionfruit or strawberries.

I saw Pamela Clark, the former food editor of the Women's Weekly, whipping up a passionfruit sponge cake on The Cook-Up a few months ago which immediately took me back to those morning teas with grandma. 

It's not quite peak passionfruit season in Sydney but it is strawberry season, so I decided to make a strawberry and cream filled sponge cake. Please note you need to use wheaten cornflour to make this cake not corn starch, and I found wheaten cornflour at IGA, otherwise plain flour will do.

Here's the recipe for you, which I adapted from here, which makes a 17cm layer 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 20°C.

Strawberry and cream sponge cake 
2 eggs
pinch salt
85g caster sugar
50g wheaten cornflour
15g custard powder
½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp bicarb soda

250ml thickened cream
½ tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
¼ cup (80g) strawberry jam, warmed
250g strawberries, sliced thinly (reserve a few whole berries)

Preheat the oven to 180°C, conventional. Grease, flour and line the base of two deep 17cm-round cake pans with baking paper. Beat eggs, salt and caster sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer for 5 minutes or until thick and creamy. Sift dry ingredients twice onto paper, then over egg mixture; gently fold ingredients together.

Divide mixture evenly between prepared pans; bake uncovered, in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes. Turn sponges immediately onto baking-paper-lined wire rack; turn top-side up to cool.

Beat cream and vanilla in a small bowl with electric mixer until firm peaks form. Place one sponge on serving plate; spread first with jam, then with half the cream mixture. Top with strawberry slices, then with remaining sponge. Top the cake with the remaining cream and decorate the cake with a few whole strawberries.

The cake was as light and fluffy as I remembered but I need to work on my sponge cake technique because both cakes were a bit wonky.

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

Bye for now, 

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