Parsnip Pear and Ginger Layer Cake with Honey Goat Cheese Icing

Posted by on Nov 11, 2014 in Cakes, Food + Drink | No Comments


This is my favourite cake of all time.  It has a complex grown-up flavour with the fresh brightness of lemons, zesty ginger, earthy parsnips and sweet pears.  It practically screams autumn.  This recipe was adapted from one of my baking heroes, Lily Vanilli, but I’ve replaced the spelt flour she uses with buckwheat flour to make the cake gluten free. I’ve also topped it with a creamy icing, flavoured with goat cheese and honey that compliments it pretty well, if I do say so myself.

PPG - sliced

If you do decide to go the fancy route, I like to bake the cakes and make the toppings the day before, and then ice and decorate the cakes the next day.  I find it easiest to work with icing that’s just been made or at room temperature, and cakes that are just out of the fridge, or even slightly frozen.
PPG 3Now, go make this cake while everything’s in season – you won’t regret it!


Strawberry Rhubarb Buckwheat Cake

Posted by on Jul 22, 2014 in Cakes, Desserts, Food + Drink | No Comments

Strawberry Rhubarb Cake 2
I just realized that pretty much all the recipes I’ve posted on this site thus far have had either strawberries, rhubarb, or some combination of the two. I have to start exploring other fruits. But, when you cook seasonally in this part of the world, sometimes your options are limited. The great thing about this cake though, is that it’s a blank canvas for pretty much any fruit you have on hand. It’s adapted from a Donna Hay recipe included in her  “Off the Shelf” book – which is really great, by the way.  Her recipe featured raspberries and peaches – which are a delicious combination – but I have also made this cake with blueberries, cherries, nectarines….really, almost anything you can think of will work on this cake.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cake 1

The cake also transitioned to being gluten-free pretty easily. I just swapped out the white flour for an equal amount of my favourite gluten-free buckwheat flour. It also gives the cake a whole-grain wholesomeness that, in my humble opinion, makes it a delicious breakfast. It’s equally good as an afternoon snack, or after dinner with a scoop of ice cream, whipped cream or a little bit of both.

Strawberry Rhurbarb Cake 3

If you make the cake, let me know how it goes! And, if you think of other flavour combinations, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Strawberry Rhubarb Buckwheat Cake
Serves 8 – 10

Adapted from “Off the Shelf” by Donna Hay

  • 400g mixed strawberries and rhubarb, washed and chopped into pleasing shapes
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 150g sugar
  • 200g buckwheat flour
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and line the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan with parchment.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.  In a separate bowl, mix your buckwheat flour, xanthan gum and baking powder, and then fold into the butter mixture.  Spoon the batter into your prepared pan and spread evenly.  The batter will be very thick, this is normal.  Top the batter with your fruit, and sprinkle with the icing sugar.  Bake for 1 hour, or until cooked when tested with a skewer.  I find that sometimes this cake takes a little bit longer, especially if the fruit you are using is juicy.  As mentioned above, you can serve this cake warm with cream and or ice cream – but it’s also great eaten on its own the next day.

Mini Chocolate Yogurt Cupcakes with Coffee Cream Cheese Icing

Posted by on Jun 9, 2014 in Cakes, Desserts, Food + Drink | No Comments

Mini Cupcakes 1
It all started with a little bottle of Neilsen Massey Coffee Extract. It was just sitting there on the shelf with it’s adorably nostalgic packaging, and I knew it was coming home with me. I built this whole recipe around the contents of that little bottle.  What could go together better than moist chocolate cake and creamy coffee?  I can’t think of anything.  At all.

Mini Cupcake 2

The moistness of these little cakes comes from the addition of almond flour and whole milk yogurt. Definitely don’t use the low fat stuff – it’s often full of artificial sweeteners and weird stabilizers. For baking – and noshing – I really like the Liberte Mediterranee Plain Yogurt.

Cupcakes 3

And the icing – if you are looking for something quick, tasty and not too sweet – I don’t think you can beat a cream cheese icing.  The addition of the coffee extract just makes it that bit more yummy.

Mini Chocolate Yogurt Cupcakes with Coffee Cream Cheese Icing
Makes approximately 40 mini cupcakes

Chocolate Cake

Adapted from BBC Good Food website

  • 115g gluten-free flour (I find this blend works pretty well.  You could also use plain flour if you don’t need your cupcakes to be gluten free)
  • 55g almond flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g unbleached cane sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 100ml plain yoghurt
  • 40g dutch process cocoa powder
  • 60ml milk (just enough to loosen your batter – you may need a bit more if your mixture is very stiff)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line your mini muffin tins with parchment paper cups.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  I do this in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, but you could also use a hand held mixer.

While that’s happening, sift your dry ingredients together and set aside.  Add your eggs, vanilla and yogurt to the creamed butter and sugar and mix to incorporate.  Finally, fold in your dry ingredients, making sure not to overmix.  Spoon or scoop your batter into your prepared muffin pan, and bake for 8 – 10 minutes, or until muffins are puffed and a tester comes out fairly clean.  Let cool in pan on a rack before icing.

Coffee Cream Cheese Icing

  • 125g butter, very soft
  • 200g cream cheese, also very soft
  • 150 – 200g icing sugar, to taste
  • 2 – 3 tsp coffee extract, to taste

Both your butter and cream cheese should be very soft before beginning, otherwise – you will end up with a lumpy icing.  You can speed up the softening process by putting your butter and/or cheese in the microwave for a few seconds, or – if you are from ancient times like me and don’t have a microwave – take out of packaging and place over a bowl of hot water until sufficiently soft.  You don’t want it melted, but when you touch it with your finger, it should yield easily.  Put your butter in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high for five minutes.  The butter should be very pale and fluffy at this point.  Add your softened cream cheese in little chunks, and mix until just incorporated with the butter.  Over mixing the cream cheese will result in a grainy and goopy icing – trust me, I’ve been there.  Add your sifted icing sugar, mixing until well incorporated.  Test for sweetness, and add additional sugar if necessary.  Finally, add your coffee extract, again tasting and getting the amount that’s right for you.

Pipe or spoon a blob of icing on to each of your cooled cupcakes.  I decorated these with just a bit of shaved dark chocolate, but they would also look nice dusted with cocoa, topped with a cacao nib, or – best of all – with a chocolate covered coffee bean from Cocoa and Honey.  I am dreaming about these!  If you can manage not eating all of these straight away, you can store refrigerated in an airtight container for a few days.  Just bring up to room temperature before eating.